Sunday, May 28, 2006

Science and Magic: Confined Danger

My new pet.

Temporarily, anyway. I found this black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) under a lunch box that had been left out in the yard (yeah, redneck trash, lol), so I captured it to show the kids why they should not leave things in the yard and why they should not pick up things that have been left out without flipping them over with a stick or something. I hate to think of what might have happened if my youngest, whose lunchbox it was, had carelessly picked this up and gotten bitten. Fatality is rare in bitten adults, but you just don't know with a small child. After lecturing them and demonstrating to them how to flip things over with a stick the only thing they wanted to know was how I got it in the jar. What clever children! How, how, how? I suppose it could look to them like I had performed some kind of magic trick by successfully handling this spider without getting bitten myself. What to do? Tell them that they don't need to know? Or tell them some 'magic trick' that only vicious mommas can do? Or tell them the truth that I just held the jar uside down over it until it climbed to the 'bottom' of the jar then I quickly put on the lid? Why question how to answer their question? Because I had some doubt that all of my warnings against trying to catch a black widow would deter them from trying, especially if I told them how I did it myself. And they really must not try it! (Btw, I told them the truth and continued to warn them that if they see a black widow they should stay far away from it... do as I say and not as I do and all that.)

I found it on Thursday with the butterfly carcass in its clutches. It carried it into the jar and continued feeding on it. I've fed it a small grasshopper and a large grub since then, and its belly has doubled in size. David thinks I'm fattening it up to poison him. As if! I just like to observe it. I emailed a spider researcher at UT to ask if they have any need for black widows. She said no. Oh well.

I've had so many things I've wanted to share here, but I keep getting interrupted by children and friends and losing my train of thought (I started on this post Friday and still haven't finished it). I'm not an intellectual powerhouse who can keep so many thoughts fresh and ready at a moment's notice. I'm tempted to think about how different it could be, but that accomplishes nothing but putting me in an even more foul mood. Remember the movie, Minority Report (yeah, Tom Fucking Retard Cruise, but the actual movie is prettty cool)? There were those people who saw the crimes of the future and they had to be protected from outside influences in order to be able to 'see' those things. Well, that's a kind of a sci-fi interpretation of an ivory tower type of situation where some great thinker or whatever can isolate and concentrate. Sounds nice to me! But I can't very well escape life and its responsibilities to 'tinker' on the computer. Not that anyone is missing anything if I don't anyway.

There has to be an invisible sun
It gives its heat to everyone
There has to be an invisible sun
That gives us hope when the whole day's done

"Invisible Sun" by the Police

I had all these fun thoughts about the similarity of science and magic and how shamans (which I can't truly claim to be one) and string theorists (definitely can't claim that title either) have much in common in how they see the world. They both transcend the four 'known' dimensions; one senses them through 'magic' derived from natural ability and/or various practices, and the other explores them through their experiments and formulae, etc. (also requires some natural ability). I think that they are studying the same things only through different "reference frames." (Sorry, Lubos if I'm misusing you, your blog title, and all you do - it's meant entirely in a complimentary fashion.) What string theorists do looks to me as magical and mysterious as my own uncanny experiences with Nature. I hope not to insult anyone with such a comparison, and I'm by far not qualified to extend that comparison beyond this surface similarity.

There's a little black spot on the sun today
(That's my soul up there)
It's the same old thing as yesterday
(That's my soul up there)

There's a butterfly trapped in a spider's web
(That's my soul up there)

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain

There's a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt

There's a little black spot on the sun today
It's the same old thing as yesterday

I have stood here before in the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain

"King of Pain" by the Police

Sorry to end on a low note, but I've lost my thoughts again.


QUASAR9 said...

The only difference is that ohysicists can creat nuclear explosions, and rifles (and canons) decimate the Indian Nations & their Shamans.

What Physics cannot 'wipe put' is the Spirit world the Indians & Shamans move in.

Funny remember those films of white medicine men in Africa dismissing the native witch doctors medicine as mumboi-jumbo, because science can produce antidotes for poison, vaccines, etc ...

Yet all modern doctors are talking mostly mumbo-jumbo in the hope that some tested or ritual drug (which natives used) will take your headache away, and design 1001 derivatives (patents/brands)of opiates which 'Nature' gives in its purest form. Laters ... Q

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

An eccentric graduate student friend of mine kept a black widow spider. One day he gave it a cricket to eat. The cricket ate the black widow.

QUASAR9 said...

So CIP, did Lubos discover you identity in his poll. PS - A cricket eating a black widow? Is that a myth/legend or a metaphor.

Rae, the word verification for this comment was solrein, there is an anagram there.

Rae Ann said...

Q, yes, despite all of the hardship, the Shamans and their ways have survived and seem to be flourishing again. It reminds me a little of the debate about 'direct observations' vs. 'technical projections' in some scientific circles.

cip, indeed, it takes an eccentric to keep a black widow. One of my friends called me "crazy" when I showed it to her. I took it as a great compliment. lol

Q, there are several:

QUASAR9 said...

nil rose
rose nil
rose lin

l senior
senior l

ls noire
r insole
n soleir

nope, nothing xtraordinaire.
There is, there is - red neck hoe, a shaman spirit. Love it. Laters ... Q

Greg Dilley said...

I found your blog by searching on "cricket ate my black widow". I've had a large mature black widow for a pet for over a year. It starting to decline in it's interest to eat, and showed signs of soon dying of old age. It's already built three egg sacks. Well, it's been growing weaker and weaker, barely able to climb up it's own web and spending most of it's time balled up in the center of the cage. I fed it a couple of crickets last week but it hasn't made an attempt to eat them.

This morning my daughter uttered these fateful words - "where's Lucy?".

The spider is absolutely no where to be found in the cage. Since BW don't travel without leaving clear web traces, searches around the room have produced no signs of her anywhere, and that's assuming she performed some feet of escape magic. She's a biiiiggg black widow.

So yeah, apparently given the chance the cricket will devour the entire black widow. Who would have thought?

Rev. Greg Dilley