August 5th, 2009

first

In which I get a little sidetracked..

This is a bit scary. My first thought was 1080 poisoning. 1080 is highly toxic to dogs* and water soluble, but the symptoms aren't quite right. Then I looked at this list, and on there the most likely candidate seems to be some form of insecticide. Either way, for a poison to make its way into the harbour in sufficient quantities to be killing dogs that are walked on the beach is a fucking huge deal. 1080 is about the only thing I can think of that would be that toxic to dogs. But you'd think MAF would already know that.

I'd say when they get to the bottom of it, someone is going to be in a whole heap of trouble. Meanwhile, if you live in Auckland, please stay away from the beaches with your dogs, your kids and yourself.

* 1080 is still in relatively common use for pest control in the sticks. In towns they tend to use brodifacoum because of its relatively low toxicity. The thing about 1080 is that it's so toxic to dogs that they only have to lick the muzzle area on a possum that's died of 1080 to be at risk of death. We used to carry washing soda chunks in a little vial at all times, and any dog that was MIA for any amount of time would be given this to make them vomit. Hardly an effective antidote but a good way of finding out if they'd scarfed anything dead while missing, and so get them to the vet with a chance of saving them. Other people would muzzle all their dogs. Mostly people just wanted the 1080 drops to stop, but at this point getting rid of possums is a higher priority than not endangering people's working dogs and so it continues.

Another thing that's considered a potential danger to dogs on beaches is bluebottles (Portuguese Man O' War jellyfish). I don't think these would have anything to do with what's happening in Auckland because it'd be pretty obvious if they were there and also if your dog ate one, it'd let you know. But I looked them up anyway and discovered, much to my surprise, that they aren't a single organism but a colony of four different types of polyps operating symbiotically. Whoah. That concept makes my head explode - this thing has polyps that exist only to hunt and catch food, and others that exist only to reproduce (they are hermaphrodites). How did this evolve? And how/why do they stay together? To 'hunt' implies a certain amount of self-awareness, as does the passing on of the captured food to the digestive polyps, which I assume then pass nutrients back to the stinging ones, and on to the reproductive ones. It's.. mind boggling that they do all this without being a single organism. It also means that a detached tentacle doesn't 'die' as such - it continues to sting just as much as an attached one, until it starves because it can't digest what it catches.

There are some weird things in the sea.

And then my mind moves on to the concept of the business organisation as a similar symbiotic structure of individuals, each with a specialist purpose that furthers the interest of the whole, which is survival (on a simplistic level). And then I start thinking about the concept of 'global brain' and the internet as possibly the first semi-artificial intelligence, a kind of melding of humans and computers.. I'd better stop hadn't I?

*blinks* Ohai, I'm Tats and I think I just got sidetracked. *blinkblink*

Yesterday I looked up my superhero name. Apparently I am Paw Beast. SO flattering and sexy. My challenge to you today is to find out yours and use it in the first sentence of your brand new superhero story...