Witches flying broomsticks in Swaziland above 150 metres will be subject to arrest and a hefty fine of R500 000, civil aviation authorities said, according to a report.
Witches’ broomsticks are considered similar to any heavier-than-air transportation device that is airborne, says The Star.
“A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150-metre] limit,” Civil Aviation Authority marketing and corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini said to the newspaper yesterday.
No penalties exist for witches flying below 150 metres.
The report said it was hard to say how serious he was, but witchcraft isn’t a joking matter in Swaziland, where the people believe in it.
The statute also forbids toy helicopters and children’s kites from ascending too high into the country’s airspace.
Dlamini was asked by the Swazi press to explain the country’s aviation laws following the arrest of a private detective, Hunter Shongwe, for operating a toy helicopter equipped with a video camera, of which he boasted using to gather surveillance information similar to the way a drone aircraft operates.
The detective was charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and for failing to appear before his chief to be questioned by traditional authorities about his toy drone, the first of its kind in Swaziland.
Swazi brooms are short bundles of sticks tied together and do not have handles. Swazi witches are known to use them to fling potions about homesteads – but not for transport.
…proving once again that whilst you can put the most aphotic and dim into a suit, behind a desk and in control of a apéritif or digestif, you shall still be subject to the hidden loincloth, Morabaraba scratchings under Oxford-dressed foot and Umqombothi–induced blackouts during Colonial-Bitching hour, give or take a few hours before and after.
“This is your Craptain speaking. Thank you for flying Heir Dick-tator. We’ll be attempting to land shortly. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Chief’s Aviation Authority for allowing us to do a ceremonial loop around his deserved homestead on permanently borrowed fuel from our Struggle Hero neighbours.”
We think about far too much inconsequential crap in our daily lives.
I realised this when I overheard two ladies recently, who volunteer at a local institution, casually conversing about one of their upcoming birthdays.
What set them apart is that the one was 94 years of age and the other was just two years her junior.
Struggle as you may, but both of them were still rather spritely for their advanced…maturity.
That said, the topic related to the younger one needing to take a flight soon, to meet some far-flung family.
She was quite concerned over the possibility of excessive steps throughout the terminal and leading up to the aircraft.
Furthermore, there was a worry as to the availability of an oxygen tank onboard, just in case, you know…
We start off thinking that existing and walking around is grand. Ironically, we end up in the same boat. It’s those niggly few decades in between where we get caught up in thinking we need so much more in order to achieve what we always had…
We’re all guilty of it.
If you lived in days and weeks rather than months and years, how would you change your approach to life?
The big question though, is would you be able to appreciate your twilight time more, having spent near a lifetime learning how not to handle your time and abilities better?
No teacher will ever bestow the gift of understanding life upon you quite like the lessons given by well-lived characters from the penultimate chapters.
What you’re about to read, is the story of an amazing penis.
You’ll read about how thin it is, but conversely, how long it is too.
You’ll read how about it is screwed in and about how convoluted the orifices are that it inhabits.
Ultimately, you will discover what an explosive appendage it is and about how the partners it pairs handle an organ seemingly way out of proportion to the rest of the body carrying it.
Kinkiness Beyond Kinky
By Carl Zimmer | December 22, 2009 7:55 pm
There comes a time in every science writer’s career when one must write about glass duck vaginas and explosive duck penises.
That time is now.
To err on the side of caution, I am stuffing the rest of this post below the fold. My tale is rich with deep scientific significance, resplendent with surprising insights into how evolution works, far beyond the banalities of “survival of the fittest,” off in a realm of life where sexual selection and sexual conflict work like a pair sculptors drunk on absinthe, transforming biology into forms unimaginable. But this story is also accompanied with video. High-definition, slow-motion duck sex video. And I would imagine that the sight of spiral-shaped penises inflating in less than a third of second might be considered in some quarters to be not exactly safe for work. It’s certainly not appropriate for ducklings.
So, if you’re ready, join me below the fold.
This story is actually a sequel. Back in 2007, I wrote in the New York Times about the work of Patricia Brennan, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale, and her colleagues on the weirdness of duck genitals. The full story is here. (Brennan also appeared in a Nature documentary, starting at about minute 38:35.)
In brief, Brennan wanted to understand why some ducks have such extravagant penises. Why are they cork-screw shaped? Why do they get so ridiculously long–some cases as long as the duck’s entire body? As Brennan dissected duck penises, she began to wonder what the female sexual anatomy looked like. If you have a car like this, she said, what kind of garage do you park it in?
Brennan discovered that female ducks have equally weird reproductive tracts (called oviducts). In many species, they are ornamented with lots of outpockets. And like duck penises, duck oviducts are corkscrew-shaped. But while male duck penises twist clockwise, the female oviduct twists counterclockwise.
Brennan speculated that all this bizarre anatomy is the result of a peculiar form of evolution known as sexual conflict. A strategy that allows females to reproduce the most offspring may not be so good for males, and vice versa. For example, male fruit flies inject their mates with lots of chemicals during sex, and those chemicals make her less receptive to other males, thereby boosting his chances of fathering her eggs. But those chemicals are harsh and will make female flies sick. Females, in turn, have evolved defenses against those chemicals, blunting their effects.
With many examples of sexual conflict in nature, Brennan wondered if sexual conflict between male and female ducks was giving rise to their weird genitals. Female ducks pair off with male partners for the breeding season, but they also get harrassed by other males, sometimes being forced to have sex (and sometimes dying from the attacks). A third of all duck matings are forced.
And yet only 3 percent of the ducklings that female ducks produce come from such forced matings. Brennan speculated that the female ducks can block forced copulations with their mismatched spirals. And they might also be controlling which drake got to fertilize their eggs by socking away the sperm of different mates in different pockets. And the extravagant penises of males might be the result of an evolution around those defenses.
As I reported in 2007, Brennan discovered a pattern that supported this hypothesis. Among 16 species of water fowl, species in which the males grew long phalluses also had females with more turns in their oviduct and more side pockets. The ducks were escalating an arms race, genital for genital.
But Brennan didn’t actually know how duck penises actually moved through the labirynthine oviduct, and how the oviduct’s shape might affect the drake’s delivery of sperm. So she traded calipers and rulers for high-speed video.
Brennan and her colleagues traveled to a California duck farm, where workers are expert at collecting sperm from drakes. The first step in the collection is to get a drake excited by putting a female duck in his cage. The drake climbs on top, and then the penis emerges. Before its emergence, a drake’s penis is usually completely hidden from view, tucked inside his body like an inside-out sock. Drakes unfurl their pensises differently than male mammals. In mammals, the penis becomes erect as blood flows into the spongy tissue. Ducks pump lymph fluid instead. And as the fluid enters the penis, it does not simply become engorged. It flips rightside-out.
Here’s how it happens, in slow motion. A Muscovy drake everts his penis in about a third of a second, at speeds of 1.6 meters per second.
Of course, drakes don’t mate with the air. Having made this video, Brennan still needed a way to see how a duck penis actually performs its appointed task. Unable to film duck penises in a real female oviduct, she built a fake oviduct out of silcone. She then managed to get a drake to mate with it. But the overwhelming force of the explosive penis broke the fake oviduct.
So Brennan turned to glass. Her new fake oviducts were strong enough to handle the drakes, and she started filming. Here’s what she saw.
As Brennan had predicted, the counterclockwise turns of an oviduct slow down the expansion of the duck penis, compared to a straight tube or a clockwise one. Brennan suspects that female ducks slow down males trying to force a mating, but they can also let their partner’s penis move faster through the oviduct. They have been observed to relax and contract their muscles arond the oviduct.
Female ducks can’t stop an unwanted male from delivering his sperm, but the obstacles in their oviducts may give them control over what happens to that sperm. The female ducks may use their oviducts to slow down the expanation of the penis, so that by the time the drake ejaculates, the sperm are delivered in the lower reaches of the oviduct. A female ducks’s partner, with her cooperation, can deliver sperm further up the oviduct. With the wanted and unwanted sperm delivered to different places in the oviduct, a female duck may be able to store the sperm in different pockets. And then she can choose which drake will father her duckling. For all the explosiveness male ducks may display, it’s the female ducks that get the final say.
Reference: Patricia L. R. Brennan et al, “Explosive eversion and functional morphology of the duck penis supports sexual conflict in waterfowl genitalia,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2139
I’m sure most wildlife enthusiasts have seen at least one video of a giraffe giving birth, but I should think a far small portion of that group has seen an elephant birth, so here’s one for you, from Bali…
Nature is incredible, no doubt about it. Procreation is essential, no doubt about it. No penis-bearing creature should ever be subjected to a video like this, absolutely no doubt about it. Crikey!
This should be shown in all school guidance classes. We’d stem the tide of teenage births within months.
It’s been a while since I last featured an artist on here, so here’s one with a difference, to get things going again…
Taking inspiration from the modern fossil-fueled, happy-disposable society that we created, live in and seemingly thrive upon, Bradley Hart’s latest works involve the much-loved and ever-present bubble-wrap that pervades our lives, supporting our shipped items, helping us to while away a few moments or just filling the dumpsters of many a business.
Careful injection of calculated acrylic paint mixtures into the bubbles, followed by surgical-like removal of the overruns eventually shows up a pixelated illustration with a difference.
A completed bubble-wrap painting
The paint has been injected, but the overrun has yet to be removed
Jessica Simpson is a bit like that hot special needs kid that always hung out under the bleachers…but let’s be honest here, she probably spent most of that time much like an alky’s hip flask, bottoms up, because…
I’ve been known, on occasion, to bitch about my old cars; about their issues, their costs, their faults and their quirks.
You might think I’m a lone nutter in this regard, but the chap quoted below could probably tell you much the same, marque aside.
Here then, is Budleigh Salterton’s account of his inexplicable love for his BMW…
I’m in the relatively fortunate position of not having to have fuel economy or silly things like that influence my choice of transport. As such, I drive something with character, something with soul, something with character and patina. I drive a 19-year old car.
Budleigh Salterton’s beloved BMW
19 in car years is about 64 in human years. When I start my 19-year old car in the morning it leaps into life. Then, initial urgency quietened somewhat by the rheumatism of its advanced years, it idles at 400 rpm, sometimes 300rpm if it’s exceptionally grumpy. Occasionally a plume of white smoke erupts from the twin tailpipes. “They all do that, sir”, the mechanic says. So I ignore that. There’s oil sweating from somewhere. That will have to wait. It could use a lick of paint. I’ll get to that, I tell myself.
This morning, I pulled out of my charmingly kitsch villa, causing the coffin-dodgers to spur on their equally decrepit basset-hounds, lest the grim rapture be approaching. As I pulled onto the street, deliberating whether my commute should be attended by the soothing sounds of “Fine Music FM” or the fine melodies of that renowned wordsmith 2 Chainz, I pulled down my sunvisor, and something happened. It made a sound. A bad sound. The sound of breaking plastic. And with that, my sun-visor became a sun-flap, refusing to return to its folded position. I cursed. I swore. I raged. I wept.
I drove to work, and I thought that maybe, perhaps, maybe, a 19 year old car that averages 17l per hundred, costs R1200 to fill up, isn’t frightfully fast and makes one look like a down-on-his luck drug merchant is not the best thing to be using as a daily driver. All around me in traffic, GTIs and Megane Sports and other members of the hot-hatchery sit using far less fuel, killing far fewer trees. Their sunvisors work.
My work colleagues mutter about it not being a fitting vehicle for a chap in my position. My boss has started to whisper tactfully about Sciroccos and F30 BMWs. He may have a point. This 19-year old car has all the comfort and convenience features a GTI has, but it has them in exactly the way you expect a car that was designed in the eighties to have them. The climate control can do frigid (after it girds itself up) and it can do a pretty good impression of an incinerator, but if you ask it to give you 23 degrees it responds as if you were telling Oliver Reed to recite from The Tempest — uncertainly, ponderously, and then with rather too much force.
The windows open and close with all the urgency of the pope responding to child abuse allegations. Occasionally, the back ones make noises that frighten the occupants. You can only really put two of said occupants in the back anyway, unless the middle chap wants to sit a la Sharon Stone, or vandalize the leather console with their shoes. There are two ashtrays in the back, one for each door, and a cigarette lighter, but no cupholders. There are no cupholders in the front either, but there’s a massive ashtray. Presumably four powerfully-built Broederbond types could sit in comfort and puff away like an episode of Mad Men, but nobody ever drank anything in the eighties.
The gearbox is from ZF’s Special Needs collection. This state of the 90s-art three mode slusher has a Sports mode, which I select immediately I start it. Without it, the default is Economy, and the thing doesn’t trouble itself to ever pull off in first, and responds as indifferently as Jacob Zuma to demands for progress, unless you bury your foot in the throttle, at which point it summons up a Wagnerian downshift or two, and blasts forth with a bellow, scaring any creatures unfortunate enough to be in its path. Because the damned thing doesn’t have traction control, it nearly killed me when I was pulling out of a garage the other night. It was raining just enough to make the exit slipway greasy, and as I accelerated gingerly onto the highway the rear end stepped out and I very briefly found myself observing the lane I had just exited through the side window. Only quick application of counter-steer kept me from sliding gracefully onto the grass embankment.
Ah, the steering. It has Servotronic. This sounds very fancy. It’s not, really. The steering and brakes (of which more later) are accurate, but give very odd feedback. Or rather, the steering gives odd feedback, like performing surgery in woolen gloves. The brakes give no feedback at all, because they use some strange hydraulic system from the dark abysm of time, which must be sated periodically with a liquid called Pentosin, which is clearly triple-distilled Unicorn’s blood, given what BMW charges for it.
All in all, it’s an odd thing to contend with on a day-to-day basis. And then there are those moments where it all comes together and you catch a reflection of yourself in a Kloof Street window while the V8 reverberates off the surrounding buildings, and you feel like you’re in a Jensen Interceptor or some such beast rather than a 4-door saloon. And then you get to your destination and it tells you that the oil is low, a fact the car feels isn’t worth troubling you with, until you arrive at your destination.
So I want something more practical, more modern, less prehistoric. Why then, am I looking at E39 M5s?
In my youth, I elected to drive a vintage car, at a time where seemingly all other people in my age group wanted the latest hatches, luxury hand-me-downs from their folks or, for the kids with rich mommies & daddies, something new, flashy and probably far in excess of their abilities and deserving.
Most got a used Volksie Mk 1 Golf, or Rabbit for you lot overseas. Some got Toyota appliances. A few arrived in assorted oddballs from the annals of motoring history. We had transport, and we liked it.
Me? I was loving my vintage ride, because even then, I’d learnt that there was more to motoring than transportation and that whilst most of the junkers being piloted by us roving accidentarians amounted to nothing more than A-Z mobiles, some of it was worthy of the description driving. Some gave you more than a destination, some gave you a thrill, a feeling and perhaps even a glimmer of a soul, bar the odd breakdown or three.
Many years on, I am still driving my vintage vehicle, but I have quite a few more with my name on them too now, because they excite me, are fun to use & work on and because they look, well, awesome.
I drive slow cars and I drive fast cars, old cars and new cars, road cars and off-road cars, in the ways that they were designed to be driven, and sometimes not.
I enjoy high speeds, use the newer technology and am amazed at what cars come equipped with these days, but I don’t like it. I find it…boring.
Short of an air-con’ system for a few days a year, the ability to very blindly blur past speed limit signs and, well, actually I can’t think of anything else that makes me want a new car.
Would you like some reasons as to why? Maybe just a few?
I can’t work on the car, let alone see the engine.
I can’t conduct an orchestrated feast of actions when it comes to changing gear manually, in most higher-end vehicles these days.
I can’t tinker, easily modify (improve?) or inspect my car. Hell, I can’t even figure out how most of the pieces are put together these days!
I can’t see my car being around in twenty, or perhaps even ten years time!
I dread the day something goes wrong with it, and I know it will, because it’s designed to, because I’m pretty certain I couldn’t afford the bill for the repair!
It looks…like everything else. Unless you’re in that 1%, your car will definitely look like something else at some stage.
It may handle, brake and accelerate like a champ, but it’s clinical…expected…knowingly designed for the cushioned generation.
Look somewhere…what do you see? Plastic.
I don’t want to push a button, toggle a switch or speak a command for everything. I don’t want to turn to page 748 in the owner’s manual, or thereabouts, to find out what the red light on my dash is. I hate not having a gearlever, having somewhere to plug what should be back in the office, into my dash. Speaking of which, what was wrong with rotary dials on the dash? If I need electric controls in order to move my arse in any which direction, I’m too fat and manual labour would probably be best for me. Blanks on my console remind me that I’m probably too poor or that you don’t deem my nation good enough to warrant putting the same thing there that some farmer in Chechnya probably has. My car has how many airbags in it? No wonder it weighs 4 tonnes. TURNOFFTHATFUCKINGANNOYINGDOORAND/ORSEATBELTBONG! If the door’s open and my seatbelt’s off, it’s because I’m fighting off a knife-wielding hitchhiker or I’m trying to commit suicide. My choice; leave me to it. Chrome bumpers were epic; your malleable plastic & foam ones are not. And so on and so forth.
I want a car, not a bludy bloated disposable gadget show that I pick up in the same aisle as my toaster and kettle.
Personally, I place a lot of blame on the console generation. The kids of yesterday, who wasted their days upgrading and racing on the TV are now demanding cars with automatic this and self-adjusting thats, cars that change gears in X numbers of seconds, accelerate from Y to Z in 3,75849 seconds and cars which integrate their iSods with their USBTooth thingymajigs and whatchamacallits.
As proof that video games are to blame, at least in part, here’s a video of the new Renault RS 200 EDC.
It ‘features’ a video display, not unlike that seen in certain games of yore, that lets you…lets you…sorry, I’m choking up here…select which type of car sound you would like to hear, through the speakers, whilst you are driving.