Skip to main content

Lonesome weekends

 My host family goes through chickens at an unbelievable rate. Every week there's a hatching of 5-10 chicks, and usually within five days they are all dead. I'd estimate the mortality rate at ~90%. About half die from dogs and cats, and about half die of exposure or are crushed by their mates. You see, groups of similarly-sized chickens like to pack together at night like penguins in the Antartic winter. Of course they all want to be in the middle where it's warmest, so the smaller ones squirm under the bigger ones, where they are crushed during the night. They also don't have enough sense to find a dry place, so often if it rains hard you'll find several dead the next morning. I've also seen the mother hen unwittingly crush one of her own, or peck a different hen's chick to death. If my family were better at managing their stock they could have fresh chicken every day.

In other death-related news, my host brother is dying of AIDS (not the one I mentioned previously, another one I only met once). He's at my host sister's other house down closer to Kuruman and the hospital. Thus my host mother has moved down there to take care of him, and my host sister spends Friday afternoon-Monday morning down there too. In my family's compound, it's only myself in my broken-down shack and the girl who minds the store living in the main house. Pretty quiet around here.
Posted by Picasa


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha

Caffeine Is Not a Bioweapon

I got into a discussion with Yves Smith about caffeine here , and somehow my comment got eaten, so I'd like to finish it up here. She said about this Raw Story piece about a girl who allegedly died from drinking two Monster drinks in two days, "The FDA lapse here is terrible. Caffeine is extremely toxic. We just happen to get highly diluted doses in coffee and tea." I commented: Yves, your implication about caffeine is incorrect on several levels. Most Monster drinks have about 10 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce, which is much less than even drip coffee (18 mg/oz) and WAY less than espresso (51 mg/oz). ( Source ) The whole idea of dilution is misguided in any case. The relevant measurement for caffeine intoxication (and most poisoning generally) is the total amount taken, not the concentration. Concentration is something to worry about, as it can make a lethal dose easier to take on, but the main concern there is pure caffeine pills, not energy drinks which are mostl