Pharyngula

If only we were molluscs, we’d be safe

In a story about large snakes thriving in California, Hank Fox noticed an interesting warning.

As for other potential prey, human beings – like rodents, beavers and deer – are mammals, government scientists confirmed.

This is obviously why we pay the government scientists the big bucks: to keep hairy bipedal animals with mammary glands informed about their taxonomic status. I’m imagining some blase Californian reading the article which tells them that these pythons eat small mammals, completely unconcerned, until, like a howling siren of alarm, the paper informs them that they happen to be mammals, too, and are therefore likely to be eaten by snakes.

And it gets more amusing. The snakes are traveling to California from Florida, following a trail made by the “large population of beavers along the way” — a path that is unimpeded by the presence of few lions and tigers to eat them. After explaining that the snakes will not be found in the colder areas of the state, readers receive another terrifying nugget of information.

Such remote areas, however, could not support every panicked Californian seeking to avoid the giant snakes.

How many panicked Californians are there, anyway? Did they all read their morning paper, gasp in shock, “Holy crap, I’m a mammal? Snakes are gonna eat me!” and run for the hills?

This was apparently on the front page of the SF Chronicle…I hope the writer had fun putting it together, and that not too many readers clogged the freeways as they fled to the Sierras.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Clarke
    February 27, 2008

    That’s “Sierra.” There’s only one sierra in the Sierra Nevada.

    SF Chron writer Steve Rubinstein does have a flair for deadpan humor, doesn’t he?

  2. #2 Kytescall
    February 27, 2008

    “How many panicked Californians are there, anyway? Did they all read their morning paper, gasp in shock, “Holy crap, I’m a mammal? Snakes are gonna eat me!” and run for the hills?

    This was apparently on the front page of the SF Chronicle…I hope the writer had fun putting it together, and that not too many readers clogged the freeways as they fled to the Sierras.”

    If this ever happens, let us know. It probably won’t be as funny as the aftermath of Orson Wells’s The War of the Worlds broadcast, but it should make the news a bit more interesting.

  3. #3 Veltyen
    February 27, 2008

    “No beaver would be safe from a python.”

    What more can I say. Played for humour not speed.

    I have the feeling, with the number of feral dogs, domestic cats, rats, groundhog, children, chickens and so on that the beaver won’t be that high on the list of prey.

  4. #4 Elizabeth
    February 27, 2008

    Funny. But the writer is Steve Rubenstein.

  5. #5 Ken Mareld
    February 27, 2008

    OOOO, that story was fun. In a damn the consequences way. The only way for Burmese Pythons to slither their way to California is either by hitchhiking or taking a Greyhound Bus. The ecosystem challenges are quite daunting. Mojave Desert anyone? The Sierra Nevadas anyone? Freaky silly Pythons, give me an Anaconda any day. Now there is a flat ass snake to tell you that you’re not on top of the food chain.
    More worrisome are those little bugs on Vancouver Island that came from Australia (with some help from California gene cousins) that are killing Dogs, Cats and Horses.
    Human mobility has enhanced the mobility of other biologicals. Eventually we just have to get used to it.
    Policies that don’t accelerate our needed tolerance to those changes are a good thing. Policies that do accelerate our exposure to ecosystem changes are not.
    Would you like to play a game of chess?

  6. #6 Karey
    February 27, 2008

    I have had it, with these muthafuckin snakes on this muthafuckin bart train!

  7. #7 Ichthyic
    February 27, 2008

    why do i think this will end up becoming the plot for the next “Snakes on a Plane” movie.

    will they get Arnie to substitute for Samuel L Jackson, is the obvious question.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    February 27, 2008

    jinx!

  9. #9 PZ Myers
    February 27, 2008

    So, Chris, you live out that way — have the hordes of urban Californians been trampling your desert to escape the snake swarms? Or do they all get eaten before they reach you?

  10. #10 Brandon P.
    February 27, 2008

    Does anyone have the paper for the study referenced here? Did these “government scientists” really make such unintentionally hilarious statements or is it simply bad reporting?

  11. #11 Epistaxis
    February 27, 2008

    Did they all read their morning paper, gasp in shock, “Holy crap, I’m a mammal? Snakes are gonna eat me!” and run for the hills?

    If you live in San Francisco, it’s not exactly far to the hills. But except for our governator, I think Californians are more likely to exclaim that species is a social construct, then invite the snakes to a diplomatic summit with no preconditions.

  12. #12 Hank Fox
    February 27, 2008

    Top of the food chain, ha! I, for one, welcome our ravenous reptilian overlords. Too many bipedal mammals on this planet anyway.

  13. #13 Hank Fox
    February 27, 2008

    This being California we’re talking about, there’s already someone thinking worriedly about all the preservatives and persistent poisons in manflesh, chemicals that will build up to toxic levels in these poor climax-predator snakes, impacting their health and reproductive rates.

    I wonder if we could get the pythons to congregate just around Sedona, Arizona, and maybe only eat vegans.

  14. #14 HalfMooner
    February 27, 2008

    Maybe they’re just headed back to Burma. But just in case, I think we need a fenced-in African lion preserve running from northern Canada to the Texas coast as a defensive buffer for us here on the Left Coast.

  15. #15 Brian English
    February 27, 2008

    This sort of reminds me of when I was (illegally living and teaching English) in Spain. On student I had told me that humans weren’t animals. On reflection, I think she may have been Descartes great-great-great-great….great Spanish love child (Animals have no reason, feel no pain….). Except that she suffered from the lights are on, but nobody’s home syndrome. I believe Descartes wasn’t an idiot. In fact, he had a theater.
    But, anyway. The snakes over in the US are wussy-reptiles (official scientific denomination). Here in OZ, the snakes vary from wanting to will kill you for just existing (Tiger snake – extremely venomous) to the other extreme if you bother them, they kill you so quick, you’ve not time to realize the mistake you made bothering them (Eastern Taipan/Fierce snake – ridiculously venomous, excepting sea-snake).

  16. #16 Lilly de Lure
    February 27, 2008

    I wonder if we could get the pythons to congregate just around Sedona, Arizona, and maybe only eat vegans.

    New Age vegans, Hah! Personally I would not wish such insipid prey on any self-respecting reptile (unless we can contrive to have them congregate inside the PETA offices that is).

  17. #17 kwandongbrian
    February 27, 2008

    The baseball remark was the most amusing for me:

    “Another python made it as far as Vero Beach, Fla., on the Atlantic coast. Vero Beach is the spring training site for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the team has not reported any casualties, although its pitching staff could use help.”

  18. #18 natural cynic
    February 27, 2008

    CClarke:That’s “Sierra.” There’s only one sierra in the Sierra Nevada.

    Nah, PZ had it right the first time. When one goes from the Bay Area to Tahoe, he/she “goes to the sierras”. “Good ol’ Calleyfornia talk” as my grandmother would say.

    –from one who left his placenta in San Francisco

    Speaking about SF, at least one of the letters at SFGate wrote that he had to check that it wasn’t April 1st. A response was that “it is always April 1st in San Francisco.”

  19. #19 jc.
    February 27, 2008

    Seriously as a fan of reptiles and amphibians I get so tired of the ever repeated snakes eat people thing (much like the wolves eating peple thing*). Has there ever been a verified case of a snake actually attacking and eating any person ever? Ever?
    *In todays paper in stockholm the story of a 70 year old hunter being attacked by a wolf seems to be unraveling into a probable dog attack.

  20. #20 demallien
    February 27, 2008

    Brian @15
    My personal favourite is the dugite. Their reason for attacking seems to be because they’re annoyed that you disturbed their afternoon sunbath by walking too close. Of course, being Australian, they are deadly venemous…

    To slightly change the topic, I’m wondering how creationists deal with this sort of press-release. I mean, it’s not just that we’re related to monkeys this time, but to any mammals… Do they see this stuff, and just ignore it as yet another part of the global Darwinist conspiracy???

  21. #21 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2008

    Lilly @16,

    unless we can contrive to have them congregate inside the PETA offices

    Riding the U-Bahn the other day I saw a poster for a heavy metal band. The poster showed a typical heavy metal zombie creature (think Iron Maiden’s “Eddie”) wearing a toque and a lumberman’s jacket, sporting a maple leaf flag and carrying a spiked club. In the background, similarly-clad zombies were braining and skinning baby seals. The band was called “The Canadians” and the poster hyped their “2008 Sealkilling Tour”. Then I read the fine print and saw that this was all just so much PETA agitprop.

    And that really pissed me off. Not that I like the idea of baby seals being clubbed to death, mind you (far from it). I wasn’t even pissed off because PETA are a shower of arrogant self-righteous doctrinaire obscurantist prigs (though they are that). No, I was pissed off because, if that poster had been for real, The Canadians would have instantly won the world prize for most hilariously tasteless heavy metal aesthetics of all time[FN1]; but no, it was just a stupid fundraising campaign.

    So, yes, if I can help you in any way in your plan to have large snakes devour PETA, just let me know.

    [FN1] What, you think Cannibal Corpse would win the prize? Nah. They take themselves far too seriously.

  22. #22 Fernando Magyar
    February 27, 2008

    Crap! Here I was thinking that the one silver lining in having a breeding population of Burmese Pythons in my backyard (The Everglades) was that they’d help control the excess of bipedal mammals around here. Now I find out that they might be migrating to California? Life just ain’t fair, is it? That despite the fact that there aren’t a whole lotta hills for us to run to around here. So those pythons coulda had a field day, Sigh! Any herptologists out there know how to train big snakes to eat fundamentalist xians?

  23. #23 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2008

    Fernando @21,

    Any herptologists out there know how to train big snakes to eat fundamentalist xians?

    The Romans tried that, you know. But given pythons’ slow metabolism and infrequent feeding schedules, they made for interminably dull games down at the Collosseum. Trust me: there’s a reason the Romans went with lions in the end.

    But if lions are too clichéd, give some thought to our invertebrate friends. A few thousand angry bulldog ants would guarantee an afternoon of boffo entertainment.

  24. #24 Lilly de Lure
    February 27, 2008

    What, you think Cannibal Corpse would win the prize? Nah. They take themselves far too seriously.

    Agreed, my vote goes to Lordi (if you haven’t heard of them Google, then giggle).

    Sigh! Any herptologists out there know how to train big snakes to eat fundamentalist xians?

    Once our consignment have finished with PETA we’ll lend you which ever one polishes off Ingrid Newkirk (having seen pictures of her I’m guessing it will still be quite hungry).
    :-)

  25. #25 Lilly de Lure
    February 27, 2008

    Damn, beaten to the punch! Fernando, I’ll second Mrs Tilton’s suggestion (a much more sensible one than my own).

  26. #26 negentropyeater
    February 27, 2008

    “The snakes are traveling to California from Florida, following a trail made by…”

    but wait, isn’t this evidence for G*d’s will at work, isn’t he sending these snakes to punish these morally void Californicationians ?

  27. #27 Stephen Wells
    February 27, 2008

    That article is hilarious. Did you spot the line about how the pythons had been “consuming deer, thus alarming biologists, and also the deer?”

  28. #28 Ian
    February 27, 2008

    You’d be safe, PZ. You’re a cephalopod, aren’t you?

  29. #29 True Bob
    February 27, 2008

    I hate when I hit Post with no name/email filled in. Now I have to retype.

    Predators – puma concolor is in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The panther is no slouch in the killing things department.

    And as for potential python prey, why vegans? Carnivores and omnivores are yummy as well. Had any beef lately? (If you don’t know, don’t ask – you’ll be sorry)

  30. #30 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 27, 2008

    On Cape Cod, the rumours abound
    Of coyote dens where the collars of countless pets have been found

    At Yellowstone, I remember listening to a camp ranger telling the cautionary story
    (and it was gory)

    Of the way you could tell the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings, because among other things
    Grizzly bear shit contained stuff like zippers, buttons, necklaces and rings

    Now, with giant pythons making their way to California, one supposes
    We will be able to tell their scat by the undigested silicone used in cheekbones and noses

    And the most common use of silicone will likely lead investigators and biologists to develop the mnemonic: “What is it a python shits?”
    Tits.

  31. #31 Science Goddess
    February 27, 2008

    What a conundrum! Stay and be eaten by snakes, leave and be eaten by puma.

    What to do, what to do…..

    SG

  32. #32 Karley
    February 27, 2008

    People forget that they’re mammals. I once threw off a creationist like that.

    “People aren’t animals!”

    “But are people mammals? They give milk and have hair…”

    “Well, yeah…”

    “But mammals are, by default, animals!”

    “But…but…”

    *argument grinds to halt as she ponders the fact*

  33. #33 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2008

    Lilly @23,

    Lordi? Lordi???!!! I’m sorry, but anybody appearing on, let alone winning, the Grand Prix d’Eurovision is statutorily excluded from the definition of “metal”. They were pretty damn funny, though.

    Glad they won, too; definitely a break from the usual winning pablum. Serbia’s offering last year? No thanks, I’ve already heard enough Whitney Houston for one lifetime. (2nd place Ukraine — a polyglottically nonsensical transvestite wrapped in foil — were robbed, to say nothing of the French, whose poor score can only be the result of a nefarious conspiracy.)

    Ireland will be represented this year by none other than Dustin the Turkey. (Now, there’s a worthy target for Googling!) Dustin will be singing “Irelande Douze Pointe” (sic). This could be Ireland’s big comeback year, even if nobody, not even Dustin, can hope to top “My Lovely Horse”.

  34. #34 SteveM
    February 27, 2008

    I hate when I hit Post with no name/email filled in. Now I have to retype.

    I think you’ll find that if you just click “Back” in your browser that you will be sent back to the original page with the comment box still filled in. At least I know that it works in MSIE and I would bet that Firefox does as well.

  35. #35 maxi
    February 27, 2008

    Mrs Tilton @32

    There was outrage, outrage on the BBC Breakfast sofa yesterday at Ireland’s entry. “They are making a mockery of the whole contest”, was the cry.

    Ummm… excuse me? Isn’t Eurovision meant to be a mockery? Who takes it seriously, really? I was lead to believe it was an opportunity for Terry Wogan to take the piss out of Johnny Foreigner and for me to just get pissed. I shall stay in for the choosing of our act this saturday though, that has to be worth watching.

  36. #36 CortxVortx
    February 27, 2008

    cue Samuel L. Jackson: “We got motherf***in snakes on the motherf***in streetcar!”

  37. #37 Jason B
    February 27, 2008

    And now we know how they’ll overcome the deserts, mountains, et cetera…

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/snakes_on_a_plane_2.jpg

  38. #38 True Bob
    February 27, 2008

    SteveM, I wish. I always hit back, and at home (firefox) it usually retains what I wrote. Here I’m stuck with MSIE 6 (!) and it usually purges. But thanks for thinking of me. ;)

  39. #39 CortxVortx
    February 27, 2008

    Ah, bugger. That’s what I get for doing an edit/find on “mother” instead of actually reading the comments, before posting the obvious.

    [grumbles embarrassedly]

  40. #40 mona
    February 27, 2008

    There are few free-roaming African lions and tigers between Florida and San Francisco, the geological survey said.
    … As for other potential prey, human beings – like rodents, beavers and deer – are mammals, government scientists confirmed.

    Well, obviously, the writer was really just talking to the super scientists and Scientist Extraordinaires.

  41. #41 LARA
    February 27, 2008

    Such is the beauty of nature’s buffer systems. Too many pink, hairless monkey’s running amok, upping the carbon content of the atmosphere and altering global temperatures? Just wait a few moments and a top predator will appear to set things straight.

  42. #42 Zeno
    February 27, 2008

    This morning’s San Francisco Chronicle has a story about stop-action special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen which mentions the six-legged octopus that attacks the Golden Gate bridge in It Came From Beneath the Sea: “Harryhausen points out that he didn’t have the time or the budget to animate eight legs.” I guess it was a hexapus.

  43. #43 caynazzo
    February 27, 2008

    Rats! I was just in the Florida Everglades last week on an airboat tour and didn’t see no dang Giant Snakes…just lots a croc hunting hillbillys.

  44. #44 Sarcastro
    February 27, 2008

    The natural enemies of the python are lions, tigers and other large cats.

    A lion? In Asia!?

    (cue Monty-Pythonesque panic)

    At Yellowstone, I remember listening to a camp ranger telling the cautionary story…

    We used to have a lot of fun with that when I worked the park. Problem was that then people didn’t believe us when we told them the bison would kill them if they got too close in order to take a picture. We had a pool going on for when the first Japanese tourist (well, not specifically, but it was always a Japanese tourist) would get gored by a bison every year. Grizzlies just didn’t maul enough people to make betting on it viable.

  45. #45 Anon
    February 27, 2008

    @42 “croc hunting hillbillys”

    Very nice non-hyphenating! Much better that way!

  46. #46 ihateaphids
    February 27, 2008

    ooh but the family pets had better watch out!
    (note that this is not a BURMESE python, but still!)

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/27/australia.snake.ap/index.html

  47. #47 raindogzilla
    February 27, 2008

    You know what’s between Florida and California? Motherfucking snakes on motherfucking plains! Watch out Kansas!

  48. #48 John Vreeland
    February 27, 2008

    IM IN UR WILDLIFE UPGRADIN UR PREDATURZ

  49. #49 AgnosticOracle
    February 27, 2008

    This is obviously why we pay the government scientists the big bucks: to keep hairy bipedal animals with mammary glands informed about their taxonomic status.

    Look on the bright side. At least the article didn’t give equal space to the claim that humans aren’t mammals.

  50. #50 G. Tingey
    February 27, 2008

    Mere 23-foot reticulated pythons …

    Try THIS for size:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/27/scimonster127.xml

  51. #51 maxi
    February 27, 2008

    Sarcastro @44

    I visited Yellowstone a few years ago and while driving encountered a massive queue of traffic. My friend who was driving the car pulled over the see what was happening, of course it was a herd of buffalo. Excited, she started taking pictures, while I was doing my level best to bundle her back into our car and convince her to turn around and drive the fuck away. Nothing like a beast bigger than your car to remind you what a puny human you are. I can still recall that little beady eye gazing at me in a speculative fashion, is if pondering whether or not it would be worth overturning the car, just for kicks.

    I kept the yellow leaflet they give you warning about buffalo, it is blu-tacked to my bedroom door.

  52. #52 Sven DiMilo
    February 27, 2008

    Funny article, for sure (I too enjoyed the reference to the Dodgers’ pitching staff), but–hate to be the buzzkiller here–feral pythons are actually a huge and growing (heh) ecological problem in south Florida. The press release on which Rubinstein based his humorous gloss can be found here.
    Scroll on down to the maps at the bottom and note:
    Burmese pythons in Brooklyn by 2100!!!!!

  53. #53 Heather
    February 27, 2008

    Oh man I’m so scared I may never go outside again. I should’ve stayed in Chicago where I belonged. The Merc had not a whisper of this-just goes to show you that the smug North Bay has it out for us down here.

    It’s good to be an American-we can put the fear in ANYthing…

  54. #54 Bureaucratus Minimis
    February 27, 2008

    Regarding the “government scientists”: My informed speculation is that a reporter directly asked a government employee who the reporter considered to be scientist to confirm that reporter’s speculation that humans, and beavers (!), are indeed mammals. This says much about reporters, and not so much about government-employeed scientists.

    “There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” -Oscar Wilde

  55. #55 True Bob
    February 27, 2008

    Well, in the case of a human-eating python sneaking up on you from behind, you…..RELEASE THE TIGER!

  56. #56 Chris Clarke
    February 27, 2008

    natural cynic, it was the native californians (though not necessarily Native Californians) who drubbed the singular into my head when I first got out here in 1982. I was informed that if I didn’t want to be taken for a transplanted Easterner or a newscaster, I’d never say “the Sierras.” Or call the big university in Berkeley “Cal.”

    PZ, the stupider subset of Californians is indeed trampling the desert, and have been for some time. You can key them out by their ORVs.

  57. #57 Sven DiMilo
    February 27, 2008

    You can key them out by their ORVs

    The 2-wheeled subspecies can also be recognized, even when dismounted, by the brightly-colored plastic take-me-to-your-leader Imperial Stormtrooper suits they sport.

  58. #58 Tatarize
    February 27, 2008

    A mammal eh? I thought my nipples were suspicious. Though, being I man, I’m not convinced I can only assume God has a plan for my nipples and I ain’t no kin to no monkey.

  59. #59 MemeGene
    February 27, 2008

    @#22: “Now I find out that they might be migrating to California?”

    See, even snakes don’t want to live in Florida if they can help it.

  60. #60 Ron Sullivan
    February 27, 2008

    From Frisco to the Sierras, pursued by pythons. Rendezvous at the Donner Party memorial picnic area just off I-80, north of Tahoe!

  61. #61 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 27, 2008

    Has there ever been a verified case of a snake actually attacking and eating any person ever? Ever?

    I’m sure a little research will find you one.

    Think about it: does a sufficiently large snake have any reason not to?

    I think you’ll find that if you just click “Back” in your browser that you will be sent back to the original page with the comment box still filled in. At least I know that it works in MSIE

    That depends.

    It even changes once every few years or so, perhaps between servicepacks. It often happens that MSIE leaves the post intact on one computer but not on another.

  62. #62 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 27, 2008

    Has there ever been a verified case of a snake actually attacking and eating any person ever? Ever?

    I’m sure a little research will find you one.

    Think about it: does a sufficiently large snake have any reason not to?

    I think you’ll find that if you just click “Back” in your browser that you will be sent back to the original page with the comment box still filled in. At least I know that it works in MSIE

    That depends.

    It even changes once every few years or so, perhaps between servicepacks. It often happens that MSIE leaves the post intact on one computer but not on another.

  63. #63 MikeM
    February 27, 2008

    Big Fucking Pythons
    Are coming to kill us all.
    Be careful, mammals.

  64. #64 Micah
    February 27, 2008

    I’m in Los Angeles!

    TO THE HILLS!

  65. #65 G
    February 27, 2008

    I can’t believe I’m the first to be saying this, but:

    “I for one, welcome our new python overlords.”

    /Kent Brockman

  66. #66 Vitis01
    February 27, 2008

    As a California boy that grew up in the Sierra, I will laugh when those city folk running from a python come face to face with a nasty rattlesnake. The ones up in the High Sierra are bigger and more territorial than the ones you find in the Foothills. I’ve been chased while backpacking!

  67. #67 Nicole the Wonder Nerd
    February 27, 2008

    I’m Californian born and bred, and I’m not afraid: we already have PLENTY of snakes here in L.A. Mostly in Hollywood and downtown.

    (Beware: if they smile and extend a hand, it is already too late to flee.)

  68. #68 CalGeorge
    February 27, 2008

    “In fact, one of them has already slithered about 100 miles toward San Francisco.”

    Dear Mr. Python,

    Don’t be tempted by those tasty San Franciso Liberals.

    Where you really, really want to go is Orange County.

    So head due west from Albuquerque on the I-40, hike down the 15, then get on the 5.

    You’ll find lots of tasty morsels waiting.

    Yum, yum!

  69. #69 GDad
    February 27, 2008

    I’m not worried. Everyone knows that pythons and killer bees are natural enemies.

  70. #70 Robert Thille
    February 27, 2008

    Ha, I’m safe. I’m not a mammal, I’m a self-aware computer program.

  71. #71 Hank Roberts
    February 27, 2008

    Bugs? Vancouver Island?
    Dogs, cats?
    Cite, please!

    >Buffalo

    I recall hearing decades ago that one tourist was convicted of violating the law against harassing the buffalo at Wind Cave National Park on the basis of the evidence of his own camera’s pictures.

    His empty car was reported. The ranger found it and looked and saw a bit of something way out on the prairie, walked out, and found the tourist, still alive, barely. They got the medical crew in.

    He said he’d been attacked by a buffalo.

    The pictures in his camera showed a sequence like:

    – buffalo through windshield
    – buffalo seen through open window
    – buffalo hindquarters departing
    – one buffalo far off lying down in prairie grass
    – same buffalo, closer view, still lying down
    – same buffalo, closeup, eyes closed
    – several views of buffalo from various angles, not moving
    – picture of tourist’s foot prodding buffalo in ribs
    – buffalo with visible eye open
    – buffalo standing up

    Pictures stopped there.

    Note that every tourist entering Wind Cave is told that a buffalo can outrun a human being, and not to mess with them.

    Keep that window rolled UP!

  72. #72 Suze
    February 27, 2008

    “New Age vegans, Hah! Personally I would not wish such insipid prey on any self-respecting reptile (unless we can contrive to have them congregate inside the PETA offices that is).”

    Who needs lions to handle these former pets when you have PETA, anyway?

  73. #73 Leon
    February 27, 2008

    natural cynic, it was the native Californians (though not necessarily Native Californians) who drubbed the singular into my head when I first got out here in 1982. I was informed that if I didn’t want to be taken for a transplanted Easterner or a newscaster, I’d never say “the Sierras.” Or call the big university in Berkeley “Cal.”

    Funny. I’m a native Californian, and I certainly use the term “the Sierras”, as would other natives I know. Might be the part of the state you’re in. I’ve lived in San Diego, the Bay Area, and now Sacramento, and I’m not sure where I picked up the usage.

    Also, I went to UC Berkeley myself, and recall hearing more than one UCB student call it “Cal”, though it’s not all that common. It’s used most often in the phrase “Cal grad”, I think.

    One name you don’t want to use, though, if you’re trying not to stick out like a sore thumb, is “Frisco” for San Francisco. Anyone in the Bay Area will immediately recognize you as a tourist (or from out of town, anyway). They caught a couple of escaped prisoners years back when they claimed to be “from Frisco”. (In Southern California, I think, the name is uncommon but won’t peg you as an outsider.)

  74. #74 dp
    February 27, 2008

    Being part of a lab group that does some predictive species distribution work under different climate scenarios, I went to the USGS site out of interest…
    Wow, that has to be the most boring range shift prediction I’ve seen. And most of california is already within the window of suitable climate. There are some really interesting scenarios of range shifts given climatic changes (especially with invasive plants), so I don’t know why USGS decided to highlight an example where there is very little predicted shift. The biggest change is in the northeast and central mid-west states. But why let facts ruin a good yarn?

  75. #75 Curare
    February 27, 2008

    Leon, San Franciscans are trying to re-appropriate the ‘Frisco’ word, it was used by many of the old time San Francisco writers, and there is a shop on Hayes selling only Frisco branded stuff.

    Even northern California has been good for pythons for a long time. Pythons are explicitly prohibited within San Francisco city limits, for they can survive in the ‘wild’ here, and might eat some poodle or something.

    One of my coworkers moved to Daly City just so he could keep up his python breeding operation, his anacondas need heating in the winter, but pythons are already here!

    While the rest of California runs for the hills, I’ll be out with a machete, dining on some fine python stew. Time to show those uppity reptiles who is (statistically speaking) higher on the food chain.

  76. #76 Geoff
    February 27, 2008

    There’s a photo of a python and alligator trying to eat each other accompanying that story and the story warns:

    “It is not for the faint of heart.”

    Not sure what the big deal about the photo. They look like playmates or something.

  77. #77 antaresrichard
    February 27, 2008

    As a native San Franciscan, reading the familiar “Frisco” did make my blood run cold, or is that because I’m already being slowly devoured?

  78. #78 Rey Fox
    February 27, 2008

    Also, don’t call Route 1 “The PCH”.

  79. #79 Suze
    February 27, 2008

    University of California students call the system UC. Berkeley students call themselves Berkeley students; screw the UC bit. Cal is that thing in Hayward where you go if you can’t get into UC. Santa Cruz is the UC school you go to if you can’t get into Berkeley or UCLA, and is referred to by the full multisyllabic title, but it’s a better party school.

    I’m a Berkeley MBA. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, really.

  80. #80 raindogzilla
    February 27, 2008

    I’m thinking python-skin Chuck Taylors for everyone!

  81. #81 BaldApe
    February 27, 2008

    Sarcastro said:
    A lion? In Asia!?

    Not so much anymore, but they used to be there.

    Admittedly not Burma, but closer.

  82. Am I the only one who finds the snakes vs. beavers thing Freudian?

    Also, as a vegan Pharynguloid, I just want to remind you all that, as the New Age Sedonians will attest, it’s the carnists who will most likely come back in the next life as Purina Snake Chow. Karma truly is a b*tch.

    Hillary

  83. #83 nighthawk808
    February 28, 2008

    @G: You may want to read #12.

  84. #84 natural cynic
    February 28, 2008

    Anyone who lived in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake gets to call it Frisco.

  85. #85 gerald spezio
    February 28, 2008

    Hillary, “snakes vs beavers thing” has more literary potential than all the Freudians/Jungians/psychosci farceurs could exhaust thru finding the dark incommensurables, explanatory animas/animuses, liberating enemas, rampant hostilities, & mean-spirited personas.

  86. #86 Sarcastro
    February 28, 2008

    Not so much anymore, but they used to be there.
    Admittedly not Burma, but closer.

    That’s freakin’ cool. I thought the Asiatic Lion was as extinct as the European Lion (which may have been the same species).

  87. #87 John C. Randolph
    February 28, 2008

    Pythons? Big deal. Just have to hit them with two or three snake rounds from a handgun, or one round of buckshot. We’ve had rattlers in this state forever, we know how to handle snakes.

    -jcr

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.