News

Loading...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Panda Bob vs. Komodo Dragon

Many of you have wondered what sort of posts I would reserve for Crash Landing, now that I have a "serious" blog. Well start your engines...

This article on Komodo dragons in the WSJ really got me mad. First, I was incensed at the arrogant Western environmentalists who screwed up this island's ecosystem and frankly don't give a dang. This is presumably the angle that the WSJ editors were foisting on us, and it worked (on me at least).

But I also got mad at these villagers, and especially this father:

A year ago, a 9-year-old named Mansur was one such victim. The boy went to answer the call of nature behind a bush near his home in Kampung Komodo. In broad daylight, as terrified relatives looked on, a dragon lunged from his hideout, took a bite of the boy's stomach and chest, and started crushing his skull.

"We threw branches and stones to drive him away, but the dragon was crazed with blood, and just wouldn't let go," says the boy's father, Jamain, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.


Are you freaking kidding me?! Your 9-year-old son gets bitten by a huge lizard--and then it starts smacking his head against rocks, as the article described earlier--and your response is to throw branches and stones at it?!?!



These things typically weigh about 150 pounds. As far as I know, their claws aren't as scary as those of, say, a tiger (but I could be wrong about that). I realize I shoot my mouth off a lot where it's safe on the Internet, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would at least grab that monster's head so it couldn't smack my kid's head against the rocks.

If a guy can rescue his nephew from a shark, a father should be able to save his son from a Komodo dragon.* He should at least try something besides throwing sticks and rocks at it.

*In fairness, these people might have ascribed religious significance to the animal, and that may have influenced their response.

28 comments:

  1. Bob, these situations are never simple.

    The Nature Conservancy (TNC) didn't create the park, but the Indonesian government, which has subsequently had the park registered as a World Heritage site - all with the aim of increasing tourism revenues and improving resource management practices - particularly destrucitve dynamite and cyanide fishing by immigrants and transients in a situation where resource rights have not been clear or enforceable.

    The Park obviously needs to figure out how to work better with local inhabitants - whose population has exploded in the past decade or two. One suggestion might be for TNC to make villagers co-owners of its local enterprise, so they have a direct stake/voice in making the park work.

    TNC, as you may know, is that detestable enviro group that protects resources the old-fashioned way - by buying them and by purchaing conservation easements on them

    http://www.nature.org/wherewework/asiapacific/indonesia/press/komodo2007.html
    http://comments.mongabay.com/pages/news.mongabay.com/2008/0825-komodo_dragons.html

    But no doubt you see everything much more clearly from your high horse?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tom,

    Are you picking this side of the issue just to argue with me? You aren't shocked by the quotes from those people?

    ReplyDelete
  3. And again, if you want me (or anyone else using Firefox) to be able to access links in the comments, please embed them in words. Even for other people, why not embed them so it's clickable?

    ReplyDelete
  4. TNC, as you may know, is that detestable enviro group that protects resources the old-fashioned way - by buying them and by purchaing conservation easements on them

    And btw, what the heck kind of argument is this? That's like defending OJ by pointing to his rushing record.

    I realize you and Silas and three other libertarians have carved out a little niche for yourself, but it's OK to admit that some professional environmentalists are nutjobs who don't care about people.

    That you could read the quotes from their spokesman and accuse me of being on a "high horse" is astounding. Well, not from you it's not. But from any other libertarian (besides Silas) it would have been.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Hey, OJ had a great rushing record.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember seeing a recreation of a baboon kidnapping a young African child, while the mother stood by and cried and shouted at it! And they actually interviewed the mother and she seemed to give this account herself.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Maybe animal attacks bring out something primal in us, and by our nature we are pussies in the face of monstrous beasts. It's not like we got to where we are as a species today through macho posturing and heroic rescues. We got to where we are by being smarter than the competition, and selfish.

    ReplyDelete
  8. silas5:54 PM

    Bob, FWIW, I was outraged at the inactivity of the bystanders.

    ReplyDelete
  9. More comments here.

    Just going by the story as presented by Bob, I don't think we necessarily even have enough information to go on to judge these people. If the kid was already far enough gone, and the threat severe enough, it would be reckless - not courageous - to do much more than throw branches and stones from a distance.

    ReplyDelete
  10. BTW Tom (and Silas), I have been in a p*ssy mood the last few days and so I regret snapping... But the "high horse" comment was a bit much, I still feel...

    That's interesting Gene. I realize how incredibly condescending this sounds, but is it possible that "primitive" people are more afraid/respectful of nature than imperialist Westerners? Or, to take politics out of it, since I believe in the God of Abraham and think I have every right to kill a lizard if it's attacking my child, can that partly explain the different reactions?

    Micha, I went to your website and saw that you said you weren't a parent. I realize this is an unfair move, since by definition you can't disprove me, but I'm just saying if you raised a child, I think you would understand why I was so flabbergasted.

    Again, I realize this is just talk on the Internet, but there is NO DOUBT in my mind whatsoever that I would fight a lion if it attacked my son. (I'm not saying I would win, though I do think that homo sapiens underrate themselves; a lion is used to things running away from it, and so it might be "thinking" wtf?! if this upright creature with a small patch of hair on its head and protruding belly attacked it.)

    Seriously the Komodo dragon weighs 150 lbs. How fast can those things even be? It's not like it's a puma or something. I think within seconds I would have it upright against a tree, and then other people could help me pry open its mouth. The only thing that might be tough is if it started clawing my back as I stood it up, with me pressed against its underbelly.

    ReplyDelete
  11. BTW for those who are rolling their eyes at my "ridiculous" narrative, read the story I linked to about the uncle fighting the shark. He just picked it right up, because he noticed that when its tail was out of the water, it didn't have much power.

    I would much rather fight a Komodo dragon than a shark.

    And I would much rather some kid's uncle fights the shark.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The boy "shouldn't have crouched like a prey species in a place where dragons live," says Marcus Matthews-Sawyer, tourism, marketing and communications director at Putri Naga Komodo.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've got 400 pound bears wandering through my yard, and I know damned well I would take one on if it had my kid.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bob, I was kinda surprised by the father's/relatives' apparently whimpy reaction as well, but - I've seen and read about thse things and we have little information (some go up to 250 lbs) so on reflection like Micha I wasn't prepared to criticize. They are strong and fast, and their claws and jaws are so loaded with nasty bacteria that most of their prey they don't kill directly but in a couple of days due to toxic shock. (Gene might appreciate that, until man made out to Australasia, large lizards and crocs were predominant predators, along with some marsupials that are mostly extinct. The Komodo dragons are just a remnant.)

    But if it was me, I would have probably jumped it too - unless perhaps if it was already too late.

    Sure, "it's OK to admit that some professional environmentalists are nutjobs who don't care about people." I just tire of it, as it's completely unconstructive and largely an ad hom. It seems to be what many of those who profess to love reason - even at Mises - serve up whenever there's an issue about unowned or "publicly owned" resources.

    As for the "arrogant Western environmentalists who screwed up this island's ecosystem and frankly don't give a dang," I appreciate the irony of me accusing you of having a high horse (that's my schtick, after all), but besides that I think my point is perfectly fair.

    TNC is a respectable and hard-working group that here is in a very difficult position. Your accusations that they are "arrogant", "screwed up this island's ecosystem" and "frankly don't give a dang", to be frank, have little or no foundation other than your rather uninformed and self-satisfied gut reaction.

    A little bit of scratching would show that the island's ecosystem has been pregressively screwed up due to a lack of clear and enforceable property rights, with an overly of government interference, long before TNC or other "arrogant Western environmentalists" arrived at the scene. This should hardly be surprising. (These are the kinds of messes that frequently occur when modern markets and technologies hit resources that were once managed effectively at an informal community level or were lightly exploited open-access resources; see Yandle and TokyoTom.) Most of the quotes in the WSJ article are of Indonesians, with a smattering of Western enviros at the end; those quotes may sound callous, but were they, or were they wrong?

    And like it or not, TNC's record on natural resource management IS
    relevant to your accusations that they are arrogant, at fault and implicitly, couldn't care less about people or property rights.

    It's a good thing that you are keeping these "non-serious" posts over here, since they tend to show a reflexive, Pavlovian reaction whenever someone rings an "envirofascist!" bell. You're more thoughtful than that, right?

    Finally, on links, my preference is to have/make clickable ones as well. I thought I tried that once and it didn't work, but I've made another attempt above. As a new blogger-meister, you might want to consider whetehr it's worth making it easier for commenters. Mises, for example, automatically makes all links clickable. Others, like Volock, provide easy ways to add html for links and block quotes. In any case, even on Firefox, if I'm just looking at comments (as opposed to being in the middle of drafting one) then I can scroll over and copy any link that I've posted.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bob,

    I've heard it said that one pound on an animal translates to much more than one pound on a human. Their muscle mass is distributed differently than ours, and they can do a lot more with 150 pounds than we could do with the same.

    Also, like I said before, how are we to know whether it would be bravery or recklessness to try to rescue the child unless we first knew the extent of the injuries?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I would grab a komodo dragon and do my best to beat the living crap out of it with my bare hands in order to rescue a perfect stranger. Even if doing so meant that I might be attacked as well, and maybe hurt, and maybe killed.

    I probably would first grab a nearby rock or heavy stick, and I would yell at everyone else nearby to do the same. Being brave doesn't mean being stupid - tactics count. But if I was alone and there was nothing around to use as a weapon, I'd still risk my life to try to save another person's life.

    What's wrong with you people?

    If it was one of my children, I only hope that I would have the presence of mind to round up weapons and assistance before charging in - in direst of situations, instinct will (unfortunately) override tactical sense.

    I don't understand why neither tactical sensibility nor protect-thy-children instinct took hold in this case. In all fairness, situations like this can develop very quickly, and a not uncommon reaction is to simply shut down in confusion and horror. I think the best that can be said here is "pray you're never tested this way."

    ReplyDelete
  17. Arthur B.5:03 PM

    anonymous:

    What's wrong with you! You value your own life then than that of a perfect stranger?

    Besides, according to your values, if you were the one being attacked by the dragon, you should stop a stranger from helping you so that he does not risk his life. Doesn't really make for a good ethical system, does it?

    As for the story I find it disturbing to judge someone who just lost a child to a freaking scary beast. I don't think we need to experience every situation we judge, and I'm usually critical of such statements, but in that case I think it's true. We cannot guess our reaction by mere introspection to such an event.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "What's wrong with you! You value your own life then than that of a perfect stranger?"

    Um, where did he say that? He said he'd try to help, is all.

    "Besides, according to your values, if you were the one being attacked by the dragon, you should stop a stranger from helping you so that he does not risk his life. Doesn't really make for a good ethical system, does it?"

    Nor does the above paragraph make for very good reasoning. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you know, not stop others from doing anything for you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would grab a komodo dragon and do my best to beat the living crap out of it with my bare hands in order to rescue a perfect stranger.

    Oh yeah? Well I would rip off my mild-mannered outerwear only to reveal an American-flag patterned tights and cape. I would then proceed to leap tall buildings in a single bound. So there!

    /Internet cheap talk

    ReplyDelete
  20. If it was one of my children, I only hope that I would have the presence of mind to round up weapons and assistance before charging in - in direst of situations, instinct will (unfortunately) override tactical sense.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but remember, the thing (by stipulation) is smacking your 9-year-old's head into rocks. Unless you see a discarded lightsaber lying on the ground, I don't think you should be scavenging for sticks or rocks. (Those dragons seem to have pretty thick skin.)

    So that's why I think the first order of business is to grab its head so it can't smack your kid into the rocks, and then try to pry open its jaws.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Micha said,

    I've heard it said that one pound on an animal translates to much more than one pound on a human. Their muscle mass is distributed differently than ours, and they can do a lot more with 150 pounds than we could do with the same.

    Fair enough, but I've still got 65 pounds on it, and if it's eating my kid, I would have superhuman (not supernatural) strength.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Micha said,

    Oh yeah? Well I would rip off my mild-mannered outerwear only to reveal an American-flag patterned tights and cape. I would then proceed to leap tall buildings in a single bound. So there!

    Hey, you can't change your answer after looking at your neighbor's test.

    ReplyDelete
  23. arthur b. said:

    As for the story I find it disturbing to judge someone who just lost a child to a freaking scary beast.

    Yeah, that's true. If the father had Internet access and read this, I would feel bad.

    I don't think we need to experience every situation we judge, and I'm usually critical of such statements, but in that case I think it's true. We cannot guess our reaction by mere introspection to such an event.

    No, Gene and I are the real deal.

    ReplyDelete
  24. At present, I have a seven or eight foot alligator in my back yard pond. My neighbors like the gator, and because of them I can't feel comfortable about killing it. I might get busted. But still. that gator doesn't help property values, and my wife thinks about it when we swim at night.

    I have plenty of guns (actually seven) but that doesn't matter. If that gator had my kid in its jaws, I'd be in that murky water pounding the shit out of that useless beast with my fists.

    In fairness, you have to take into account my irreligious belief that I will defend my progeny to the death until they're eighteen and out of the house.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous2:16 PM

    While I commend all your written protestations of courage, and I, myself, hope I would have the presence of mind to intervene to save my child (I keep a 12 ga. handy for this sort of thing), there are numerous special issues with Komodos that the author is apparently unaware of. “Prying the jaws open” of the thing is both extremely difficult and potentially suicidal. Lizards (especially monitors, like the dragons) are very strong and very stubborn. They can break bones with their tails and their claws are probably comparable to a tigers’. As noted by an earlier commenter, the Komodo’s saliva is a witches' brew of very lively and very life-threatening bacteria, as well as, it turns out, venom! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_dragon). Many dragon prey items are bitten and die days later from raging infections, and incapacitation starts pretty quickly. It’s a form of bio warfare these lizards have developed. Many of the infections are not readily treatable (and guess how good medical care is locally?). The locals are probably aware that if bitten, they stand a good chance of death even if the bite itself is not fatal. Attempting to pry open the lizards jaws probably means getting badly cut up yourself, and the bitten child probably had little hope, once bitten. Also, although they probably can’t take your head off haymaker-wise with a paw, like an adult tiger could, I don’t doubt that an adult dragon could gut a human easily. I once had a decent-sized Nile Monitor clamped on my hand for a half hour. Very bloody, very painful and just a fraction the size of a dragon. It took three adults to control the lizard. It gave up eventually when it’s air supply ran out when it was held under water. I hear alcohol also works with large reptiles, but is not recommended for bites by pets because of the damage it does to the animal. The other alternatives were likely to be fatal to the lizard.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous3:50 AM

    Welcome to wow gold our wow Gold and wow power leveling store. We wow gold are specilized, wow power leveling professional and reliable wow power leveling website for wow power leveling selling and wow gold service. By the World of Warcraft gold same token,we offer wow power leveling the best WoW service wow power leveling for our long-term and wow powerleveling loyal customers. wow powerleveling You will find wow powerleveling the benefits and value powerleveling we created powerleveling different from other sites. As to most people, power leveling they are unwilling to power leveling spend most of wow power leveling the time wow gold grinding money Rolex for mounts or rolex replica repair when replica rolex they can purchase Watches Rolex what they Rolex Watches are badly need. The Watch Rolex only way is to look Rolex Watch for the best place rs gold to buy cheap WOW gold. Yes! You find it here! Our WoW Gold supplying service has already accumulated a high reputation and credibility. We have plenty of Gold suppliers, which will guarantee our delivery instant. Actually, we have been getting Runescape Gold tons of postive feedbacks from our loyal RuneScape Money customers who really appreciate our service.

    ReplyDelete
  27. We offer WoW power leveling,World of Warcraft power leveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling & Warhammer Power Leveling & Warhammer Online Gold,if you want buy cheap wow power leveling & honor power leveling,please come here to choose. you could find any kinds of powerleveling you want. Please remember,we are your online game helper. Please remember,we are your online game helper.please come here to choose. you could find anything you want.wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling,war leveling,Warhammer leveling,Warhammer Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Gold,Warhammer Gold,WAR Power leveling,WAR Gold,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,AOC Power Leveling,AGE OF CONAN Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling,Warhammer Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Gold,Warhammer Gold,2 Moons Dil,MapleStory Mesos,Maple Story Mesos,MS Mesos,WARHAMMER ONLINE GOLD,Cheap WARHAMMER ONLINE GOLD,RuneScape Gold,RS Gold,RuneScape Money,RS Money,SilkRoad Gold,SilkRoad Online Gold,SRO Gold,EVE ISK,EVE Online ISK,Gaia Gold,2 Moons Dil,WOTLK power leveling,AOC Gold,AGE OF CONAN Gold,LOTRO Gold,Lord of the Rings Online Gold

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous12:09 AM

    In my opinion, shaiya gold is interesting for you who like games to play, playing game is cool! Do you think so? Everyone around you will admire you, I think. It is cheap for you to buy shaiya money.
    shaiya online gold will be a good way for you to have fun, if you have needs, please come to buy shaiya gold

    ReplyDelete