During the Celtic Tiger boom, snakes became a popular pet among the Irish nouveaux riches, status symbols in a country famous for its lack of indigenous serpents. But after the bubble burst, many snake owners could no longer afford the cost of food, heating and shelter, or they left the country for work elsewhere. Some left their snakes behind or turned them loose in the countryside, leading to some startling encounters.
Archive for the ‘Snakes’ Category
Not much going on, but I rarely get a chance to use the “Snakes” and “Reptiles” tags. So:
Obit watch: Evan S. Connell, Jr., noted novelist and historian. (Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn may be his best known work.). LAT. NYT.
Looking at site stats this morning, I noticed that my ThinkPenguin endorsement seems to be getting some traffic. I thought I’d bop over to their site and check: yes, they have the new dual-band wireless N USB adapters available. And to tell the truth, I like the design of this adapter better than the one I have.
Earlier this week, I commented on the death of Mack Wolford. Lauren Pond, a photojournalist, had been working with Rev. Wolford for the past year as part of a documentary project on the Pentecostal snake-handling religion. Ms. Pond was at the service where Rev. Wolford was bitten, and sat with him and his family as he died. Some of her photos, and her thoughts about what happened and her obligations, are in the WP.
I don’t want to mock the death of Mack Wolford. I was not raised in the Pentecostal snake-handling tradition, nor does it fit in with my personal religious beliefs. (As I recall, there is a Bible verse that says something to the effect of “Don’t test God.”) But I do respect folks who have those beliefs and act on them; I don’t think they are crazy, but are trying to relate to God in their own way, and more power to them.
However, I do think his death is worth noting, not just for the odd factor, but also because it gives me a chance to talk about Jeremy Seal’s The Snakebite Survivors’ Club: Travels Among Serpents.
This had the potential to be an interesting book, and about half of it is. The chapters on snake hunting and snake bite survivor hunting in Africa and Australia are quite good. Unfortunately, his chapters set in India seem oddly disengaged from the rest of the book; I’m not sure why, but they don’t seem to fit.
And while he has an interesting story to tell as his through line through the chapters in America (backsliding snake-handling minister decides to end his marriage through rattlesnake; unfortunately, his wife survived her bites, and he’s doing time), he has a typically British condescending attitude towards America (and especially the American South) that I found annoying.
If you find a copy of this for $3 or less, I think you might get that much entertainment out of it. Otherwise, I’d suggest skipping it. I haven’t read it, but this Whit Gibbons book looks more entertaining and less dripping with scorn.
Edited to add: Added a link to a review of Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia which a) sounds like a better book about the snake-handling tradition, and b) summarizes the Glenn Summerford story.
People having too much fun with headlines:
(As everyone who has a senior citizen in the family knows, you try to get to the buffet around 3:30 so you can pay the lunch price, but still get the stuff they put out for dinner starting around 4 PM.)
We nearly wiped out the buffalo in this country because a bunch of guys made money off of buffalo hides. Thousands of years before that, mankind eradicated the woolly mammoth with spears. Spears! Give me five thousand Ted Nugent fans and all the weapons they can carry and the waters of the everglades will run red with Burmese snake blood.
A series of recent tests found that the Air Force’s 30,000-pound tool for penetrating 32 stories of reinforced concrete might not have enough penetrating power to take out Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facilities, reports the WSJ.
Making it harder sounds like a good thing, but perhaps they also need to add more thrust. Maybe a rocket assist?
I didn’t have to use my AK. All in all, I’d have to say, it was a good
I got up bright and early (by Saturday standards) and staggered down to the Saxet Gun Show, where I met up with the legendary Borepatch and some other folks. (I am leaving their names out because I want to protect their privacy. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket. It has nothing to do with me being a bad and evil person and forgetting their names. It is all about privacy protection. Just ask my wife, Morgan Fairchild.)
I don’t have much to add to Borepatch’s report. I only found one gun I really liked at the show (a Savage model 24, .22 LR over 20 gauge) and the owner was asking just $250, but I didn’t have that much cash on me, didn’t want to leave and find a bank, and…well, if it is there next month, maybe. This would be a good survival gun for the car.
Also, Borepatch is right about the number of approving comments that Sean Sorrentino’s Gunwalker t-shirt received. Borepatch and I discussed the idea of trying to sell them at gun shows, which is a very tempting idea indeed.
(While I was there, I met another gentleman who recognized me from my statement in Borepatch’s comments that I’d be wearing that shirt. It turns out he’s a regular reader of Borepatch’s blog, my blog, and the Saturday Dining Conspiracy pages. Personally, I thought reading both my blog and the SDC pages was an approved method of “enhanced interrogation” for prisoners at Gitmo, but hey, whatever gets you through the night. I was going to introduce him around, but I was on my way to see a man about a racehorse at the time, and when I came back, he was gone. Feel free to leave a comment, Mr. I’m Not Identifying You Here For “Privacy” Reasons.)
(I also saw one of the H&K .22 rimfire MP5 clones. It was going for around $600, as I predicted.)
After the gun show, I went down and paid off my layway at Tex-Guns, official purveyors of fine weapons to WCD. I now have a very nice Marlin 336 lever gun in .30-30: once I get some logistics worked out, and September 1st rolls around, this is going to sit in my car as my equivalent of a “patrol rifle”.
And then I went and had dinner with my mother and some friends at the Vivo on 620 at Lake Creek Parkway. The current chef, Paul Petersen, ran a place called the Little Texas Bistro in Buda; we ate there once, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Then he moved out to Marathon and worked at the Gage Hotel there for a while. Now he’s working at that Vivo, and hasn’t lost his touch. I had the”surf and turf”: one crabmeat enchilada and one brisket enchilada. It was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and very reasonably priced.
(I did have some problems with Vivo, but none of them were with the cooking. They all stem from the current management’s decision to encourage an active singles/pick-up scene at Vivo. We were in a semi-private room, and towards the end of the meal, the music was loud enough that some of our party had to leave. Also, I’m not a prude, but when you’re taking your mother someplace, and there’s paintings of topless women everywhere, and a photo collage on the wall of the semi-private room featuring butts and other body parts, that’s a bit disconcerting.)
Today, of course, was the long threatened trip to the Snake Farm. I’m happy to say that everyone who went also came back, they all enjoyed themselves (from what I hear), and everyone who wanted one got a t-shirt. Or, as we like to say around here…
And much progress has been made on getting the Saturday Dining Conspiracy logs up to date. Which is comforting.
And Lawrence has put up some good photos from Worldcon, including a few of friends of mine I haven’t seen in a long time.
So, yeah, it has been a good weekend. How was yours?
(For those of you who don’t understand the “didn’t have to use my AK” reference, which is probably 99+% of my audience because you’re not fans, I suggest you go to your refrigerator and look at some Ice Cubes. (Warning! Adult subject matter!) Actually, I’m not a huge fan, either, but “It Was a Good Day” tickles my funny bone for some odd reason.)
By way of our good friend James, we have learned that CNN did a story on Texans purchasing guns to prepare for uncertain economic times. Ordinarily, we probably wouldn’t have said anything about this piece, but the gun shop profiled is Tex-Guns, the official purveyor of fine weapons to WCD.
And the NYT has discovered the Snake Farm on I-35. This is a place that we have not been to yet, but we keep threatening to load up the car and take our nephews there. Perhaps we will arrange that in the next couple of weeks.
Happy Canada Day, everyone. I hope you’re able to celebrate in the traditional way, with beer and back bacon.
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has overturned the death sentence for Ronell Wilson. Mr. Wilson was convicted of shooting two NYPD detectives, James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews, who were engaged in a gun purchase sting. According to the NYT, Mr. Wilson was the only defendant sentenced to death by a jury between “1988 through March 2008″ (?), though prosecutors asked for the death sentence 19 times during that period.
In this case, the court just overturned the sentence, not the conviction:
The Court of Appeals’ ruling centered on two arguments that prosecutors made to the jury about Mr. Wilson’s remorse and acceptance of responsibility for the killings during the penalty phase of his trial. The judges noted that prosecutors used Mr. Wilson’s demand for a trial and his failure to plead guilty as evidence that he lacked remorse and refused to accept responsibility. The judges said prosecutors had argued to the jury that Mr. Wilson’s statement of remorse should be discredited because he failed to testify.
The WP is reporting that serious consideration is being given to awarding the Medal of Honor to a living person. That person is not named in the WP article, and the nomination is still being reviewed by the White House. This is significant because every Medal of Honor awarded since Vietnam has been posthumous.
Edited to add: Florida has banned ownership of “Burmese pythons and six other large, exotic reptile species” effective today. As noted in this space previously, the state has a bit of a python problem:
The ban applies as well to reticulated, northern African, southern African and Amethystine pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards, but the main focus is on Burmese pythons.
Estimates of their presence in the wild have ranged as high as 100,000, but the state’s first python hunting season ended in April without a single snake reported caught. Conservation officials said unseasonably cold weather, instead, may have killed up to half the pythons.
No snakes caught? Darn. (I was actually discussing the possibility of getting together a python hunting expedition with some of my co-workers, but none of us owns the proper weapon.)
In addition, state environmental officials worry that the rock python could breed with the Burmese python, which already has an established foothold in the Everglades. That could lead to a new “super snake,” said George Horne, the water district’s deputy executive director.
I have no joke here, I just like saying “super snake”. For some reason, that made me think of “Fer-de-Lance” (aka “Snakes on a Sub”). Which, apparently, is available on DVD (in a double feature with something called “Medusa”, which looks like a real piece of crap; then again, “Fer-de-Lance” probably isn’t as good as I remember it being, either.)