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February 24, 2013

Annals of Environmental Repair
Posted by Patrick at 09:15 AM * 155 comments

So, evidently Guam has a population explosion of brown tree snakes, which have been gobbling up the other local fauna, and which environmental officials worry may spread, via aircraft, to Hawaii.

But scientists have a plan:

In April or May they’re going to lace dead mice with painkillers, attach them to little parachutes, drop them from helicopters and hope that they get snagged in the jungle foliage. Then, if all goes well, the snakes—which, as their name implies, hang out in trees—will eat the mice and die from ingesting the painkillers’ active ingredients.
I think it’s the tiny parachutes that really make this story. I really do.

Comments on Annals of Environmental Repair:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:29 AM:

The parachutes... and the "careful, one-at-a-time tracking" -- all I can picture is the forest crawling with observers, all trying to keep from disturbing the snakes...

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Next time they go job hunting, I want to see the resume of the person who attached the little parachutes to the dead mice.

#3 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:06 AM:

I'm caught somewhere between "How horrifying!" and "How adorable!" and there is no way in which I can justify the latter except...tiny parachutes! How could those not be winsome?

#4 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:16 AM:

I'm also struck by this sentence from the linked AP article (emphasis added):

Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn't kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.
Yes, let's make sure to tell everyone that, shall we?

#5 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:21 AM:

"Mulder, it's raining frogs!"
"Well, maybe their parachutes didn't open..."

Yes, they really said that.

#6 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:22 AM:

How about leaving out bottles of Tylenol and convincing the snakes that they have headaches?

Or, training live mice as commandos and parachuting them behind snake-held lines? The mice would have acetaminophen pills in case they were caught ... but in the meantime imagine what havoc they could wreak with their tiny knives and miniature pistols and itsy-bitsy blocks of TNT, while radioing back to Hagåtña every week, detailing snakish movements and strengths....

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:34 AM:

4
They probably mean 'at levels that are harmless to most humans', since the mice are going to be loaded with 80mg. But I wouldn't want to bet on it.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:53 AM:

I hope someone collects the parachutes. They might be re-used as model rocket recovery systems.

#9 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 11:08 AM:

From the AP story linked above --

"U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior."

Impressive. Yeah, I'll go with impressive.

#10 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 11:19 AM:

(To the tune of the Green Beret's Ballad, of course):

Fighting rodents from the sky,
Fearless mice, who jump and die*
Mice who jump, without a qualm
The brave mice, protecting Guam!

Death to snakes, but not to men,
With a seat, a-min-o-phen!
Once we feared, the brown tree snakes,
Now we'll pop them for headaches.

*[not necessarily in that order]


#12 ::: Andrew Kanaber ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 11:47 AM:

I wonder if they got the idea from reading about Operation Cat Drop (a similar story, except substituting live cats for dead rats, and the British government for the US government).

Wikipedia currently thinks Operation Cat Drop might have been apocryphal (which would have made for an interesting progression from urban legend to actual program here), but a University of Iowa environmental health professor has found an RAF operations log confirming at least one cat drop took place, so this looks like the usual Wikipedian wariness of stuff that hasn't been covered by the NYT (excuse me, I meant "has a reference to a Reliable Secondary Source").

#13 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:07 PM:

Lila (11): I was going to mention the bats! One of my favorite wacky-weapon stories. I think I first learned about it here*, in fact.


*for values of "here" that include Electrolite

#14 ::: Jean ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Do mice need parachutes? Is it a myth, then, that the mass:surface area ratio of a mice is that you can't kill it by dropping it? (Yes, OK, the mice in this case are dead to begin with - damage it, then).

#15 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Jean @14, I don't think the point of the parachutes was damage-to-dead-mice but rather something-to-snag-trees so they didn't fall all the way to the ground. Long streamers might work just as well, for that matter. Especially if they have hooks....

#16 ::: Cassy B. has NOT been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:13 PM:

Ack. Forgot to change nym. Apologies to the gnomes.

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:18 PM:

Coming soon on SyFy...

#18 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 12:45 PM:

The program I am more impressed by is the one eradicating mice and rats from South Georgia. Current reports are that they are on track for eliminating them by 2015. And, like true evil villains, they have phases. Phases!

#19 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Higgledy-piggledy
Mouse paratroopers are
Bringing the war on the
Reptiles to Guam:

Armed just with doses of
Acetaminophen,
Double-o-seven-like,
Kill with aplomb.

#20 ::: Paul D. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 01:22 PM:

This reminds me of how they kill invasive amphibians in Hawaii: they spray them with coffee.

#21 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 01:32 PM:

From the wacky weapon front...Submersible aircraft carriers and related hardware.

I'd heard that the US military has put a billion dollars into researching submersible aircraft carriers. I haven't found evidence that this is true, though it seems at least possible.

I am irresponsibly delighted by the idea of submersible aircraft carriers, which is part of why I think there might be a huge research project, even though I'm also extremely dubious that they could be kept adequately watertight while letting the aircraft out.

Anyway, the link above is about a wide range of mostly military water/aircraft combinations; real, hypothetical and fictions. I just skimmed it and am not qualified to judge the quality of the information. However, there is a lot of it and the text is only moderately ranty.

Behold the inflatoplane. Would it work better if filled with helium?

An especially pretty picture of a flying submarine, zorching along underwater. Any guesses about the artist?

Anyway, the folks who told me about the submersible aircraft carrier also mentioned airborne landing strips, which would take some of the danger out of refueling in flight.

This seems somewhat more reasonable than the aircraft carrier, admittedly a low standard. The landing strip seems like big target, but perhaps they would only be deployed as needed.

Unfortunately, this would discourage the use of zeppelins. In other words, submersible carriers and airborne strips (is there any good reason to combine them?) would be superb steampunk.

NonObSF: Steambird by Hilbert Schenck, about a nuclear-powered jet which never made it past the planning stages in the real world.

#22 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 01:43 PM:

20
I understand caffeine is effective on slugs and snails.

#23 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Cassy B. @15 Long streamers might work just as well, for that matter.

Picturing the tiny mouse corpses being dropped down from the sky, trailing bright sparkly streamers behind them, is making this no less adorable than before. (I realize that, sadly, the streamers would not be bright and sparkly. But my imagination makes it more fun.)

#24 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #21: Basically, subs that launch cruise missiles are submersible aircraft carriers. Of course, they don't have to worry about handling the landing of the aircraft on its return, because it doesn't do either.

#25 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 03:03 PM:

What could possibly go wrong?

#26 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 03:03 PM:

My first thought, when I heard about this, was that dead mice would be "ballooning".

#27 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 03:13 PM:

Ken Brown @25:

Two words: zombie mice.

On Day Three they'll chew through their little parachute harnesses and drop down with soft plopping sounds as they hit the understory. Those that are still ambulatory when they reach ground level will sweep through the forest in a cheeping, chittering horde, searching for ankles and toes to bite.

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 03:16 PM:

PJ Evans at 22 "Caffeine is effective on slugs and snails"

Does it make them move fast?

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 04:01 PM:

abi @ 27... If this were a Seanan McGuire story, they'd run into Verity Price and her Aeslyn mice.

"Hail!"

#30 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Nancy @21

The Submarine Service of the Rain Island Naval Syndicate are carefully examining the hysterical record.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 04:58 PM:

28
I suspect that it might make them try to move fast. (And fail catastrophically.)

#32 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Nancy L, #21: Chesley Bonestell?

#33 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Funding for brown tree snake eradication programs is one of those "earmarks" that John McCain used to ridicule on the floor of the Senate or in front of TV cameras on those rare occasions when someone put one in front of him. Considering that fellow-vet and Medal of Honor winner Dan Inouye was the one ensuring that funding got done, I thought the oh-so-respectful McCain might have eventually gotten religion on the snakes, but he never did.

I seem to remember trying to use handkerchiefs as parachutes for inanimate objects when I was a kid. I hope the cloth used in this project is no more expensive than those.

#34 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Will they use easily degradable paper parachutes?

#35 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 07:14 PM:

*enthusiastically applauds Cally at #19*

#36 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 07:26 PM:

#33 ::: Linkmeister :

For a moment, I thought you meant someone put a brown snake in front of McCain. Oh, well.

#37 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 07:30 PM:

Coffee grounds also seem to be pretty good at keeping cats out of the garden (and mixed with bonemeal, tend to do the same for squirrels).

#38 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 07:41 PM:

Elise:

Once I noticed that "acetaminophen" was hexapedal, I had to write a double dactyl, since oldster inspired me with his or her excellent filk.

#39 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:06 PM:

abi @ 27: Chills!

#40 ::: Marc Mielke ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:10 PM:

I think the last mad scheme someone had to eradicate rats was introducing mongoose to Hawaii. Mongoose have no natural predator on Hawaii and flourished and can now be seen almost everywhere.

#41 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Trying to eliminate introduced species by introducing more non-native species sounds remarkably like "The old woman who swallowed a fly". A tragic end seems entirely likely.

#42 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:22 PM:

Cally Soukup @19, joining elise in the applause

#43 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:46 PM:

Henry Troup (41): Now I'm trying to filk that with 'rat' and 'mongoose'. It's not working.

There was a state that introduced the rat.
Drat, drat, they introduced the rat.

...nope, not working.

#44 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 09:55 PM:

David Wald #4, P J Evans #7: Yeah, I think we've already discussed here how close Tylenol's therapeutic dose is to its hazardous and fatal doses....

Henry Troup #41: Yep, that's exactly the problem (q.v. rabbits (and that horrid virus they tried on them in Australia), feral cats and dogs, probably lots of other examples I can't think of at this hour... and it frequently goes awry. Which is going to be a big part of why they're using dead mice....

#45 ::: greening ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:09 PM:

Dave@44: There's even a Simpsons episode about that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0MliUWEZA8

#46 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 10:21 PM:

Speaking of Australia, the documentary "Cane Toads" is on YouTube in five parts. Cane Toads are big beasts, introduced to deal with an introduced pest on a introduced crop. The film includes a kid with a pet cane toad, and a cane toad abuser (they produce interesting alkaloids, which some humans enjoy.)

It's a really good film.

#47 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2013, 11:24 PM:

Unlike with Hawaii the rodent eradication on South Georgia does not have to take into consideration any significant human population or predators of rats. They can just cover the area in an excessive amount of poison bait and let unnatural selection take its course. The only birds that might be hurt are skuas and they are nothing like endangered. And they are also taking out the reindeer as well. Plus the whole area is a great deal smaller than almost any of the Hawaiian Islands.

I suppose in a SF future we might use robots as snake/frog/rat controls where we do not wish to poison the undesirable animals. Instead of introducing some predator. Huh. That is a rather SFnal thought. Perhaps even some sort of camouflaged little bot that guards the nest of some endangered animal.

#48 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:20 AM:

Now if they can only figure out how to keep the Great Lakes from leaking out...

#49 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 01:17 AM:

If I were chucking the little mice out of a plane, I'd be tempted to yell "Geronimo" in a high-pitched voice.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 01:35 AM:

Mishalak, #47: That was a plot point in an Asimov story -- I think it was one of the I, Robot tales. The robot was hummingbird-sized and programmed to ingest certain types of insect pests, which it compacted into neat balls of waste that could be "excreted" onto a compost pile. The selling point was that when there were no insects of the targeted types to be found, the robot would simply go inactive rather than becoming a pest itself. I remember thinking that this was a really cool idea!

#51 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 02:24 AM:

For our visualization purposes, the photo in the URL cited is misleading. That's an adult mouse; the ones used will be "neonatal" -- which probably means "pinkies", which generally range from about the size of a pencil-eraser to almost that of the end joint of a smallish human little finger.

These newborn mice are, typically, the first food taken by recently-hatched snakes of the Brown Snake type, and I'll be interested in following the results of this. I suspect that newly-hatched chickens might make better bait.

#52 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 06:04 AM:

I notice in one of the papers referenced in Wikipedia a reference to a precedent set by parachuting beavers.

#53 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 06:17 AM:

There was a Sheckley(?) story about weapon after weapon being introduced, a man who had a feeling that there was something wrong, and each autonomous(?) weapon making things worse.

#54 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 09:00 AM:

Watchbird.

#55 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 09:20 AM:

I'm picturing adorable dead beret-wearing French female mice waiting in the trees to aid the incoming troops.

#56 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 10:51 AM:

#54 ::: Theophylact

Thanks. It's a much scarier story than I remembered.

#57 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 11:37 AM:

"As NPR's Christopher Joyce reported last September, "the brown tree snake invaded Guam over 60 years ago — they sneaked in aboard boats or in the wheel wells of airplanes." "

So...it's a problem of motherf***ing snakes on a motherf***ing plane, then? Has anyone consulted noted herpetologist Samuel L. Jackson?

#58 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 11:43 AM:

BTW, it's not just a vague fear "that they might show up elsewhere, such as Hawaii" - brown tree snakes, alive and dead, have been found at airbases and airports here in Hawaii a number of times. Airplane landing gear must be enough like tree limbs to attract them to climb up in there and hang out. As far as we know, none have yet made it off to a congenial habitat.

Given what they did to Guam, if they were established here it's pretty likely they'd kill off the remaining native Hawaiian birds, who are already under terrible pressure from a number of sources. I see they're not citing that as the justification, probably because they don't want to be accused of being a bunch of hippie bird-coddling environmentalists. (Anyway, those native birds should get jobs and work harder if they want to compete in the global economy.)

#59 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 11:53 AM:

Lee @ #50

Figures that a SF author would have gotten to the idea first. Oh well... I suppose we might actually be getting somewhat closer now. I heard recently of a very specialized robotic field hand for planting strawberries or something similar recently.

Though I would still dearly love a robot scarecrow that would harass the racoons in my garden.

#60 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:04 PM:

So am I the only one who immediately thought of Barry White's voice in that old Simpson's episode singing "Leave aaaaalllllll the snakes... alone"?

#61 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:17 PM:

P J Evans @7 - that makes it 125 mice to a lethal dose.

#62 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:17 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 44: Yep, that's exactly the problem (q.v. rabbits (and that horrid virus they tried on them in Australia), feral cats and dogs, probably lots of other examples I can't think of at this hour...

I always think of the possums and stoats in New Zealand, probably because the native fauna are so astoundingly defenseless. (Establishing wildlife preserves at this point requires pretty careful predator-aware engineering. On the mainland you get things like the fence around the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and on islands they've had some unpleasant surprises from stoats swimming unexpectedly long distances.)

#63 ::: David Wald has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:20 PM:

A questionable link? I'd offer the gnomes some leftover hamantaschen, but I'd have to have actually left some over... Hmm. Tea?

#64 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 12:21 PM:

Jules @ 61: that makes it 125 mice to a lethal dose.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who actually did that calculation.

#65 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 01:42 PM:

@38: Are you saying that hexapedality was the key insight?

#66 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 02:12 PM:

chris @64

Why yes. Yes, I am. It is what fired me up for my deep thoughts.

#67 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Dang! A thread where Hamsters as Weapons Throughout History is actually relevant!

#68 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 02:31 PM:

re 38/64: Not just hexapedality, but doubledactyly.

#69 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 02:40 PM:

They used the "buckets of poison" approach on Rat Island in Alaska. Now it's Hawadax Island, and the birds are supposedly coming back!

#70 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Dan Boone @69: Ugh, reading the description of the poison in Wikipedia, it sounds like not the kind of thing you'd want to squirt around the landscape where you're trying to encourage endangered bird life.

Also, I don't think I'd ever before heard of a poison where the antidote has to be administered for months afterwards.

#71 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Teresa@2: My first summer interning at NASA, my duties as "Technician I" (which was my job title) included assembling flight kits for a biological research mission, which worked out to applying a lot of Velcro to a lot of little syringes. I didn't mind, because 1) it was fun, 2) I was well aware that eighteen-year-olds with a single year of college computer science are not really hireable as engineers, and 3) I was brought back for the following summers as "Computer Programmer I" and later "Computer Programmer II", which were of much more use to me in my then-future, now-current career as an engineer.

My point here is that the resume of the rodent-parachutist is likely to be similar: intern with somewhat unusual job doing it for bragging rights as well as a hope of being brought back the following summer for something less gloriously wacky but more useful for the future.

#72 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Next time they go job hunting, I want to see the resume of the person who attached the little parachutes to the dead mice.

*flails wildly trying to come up with a What Color Is Your Parachute? joke*

*fails*

#73 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Mary Aileen @43:

Now I'm trying to filk that with 'rat' and 'mongoose'. It's not working.

There was a state that introduced the rat.
Drat, drat, they introduced the rat.


...nope, not working.

You just have to shift things around. And then not mind the lack of rhyme so much.

There once was a State that sent mongeese in--
They thought they would win, when they sent mongeese in!

They sent mongeese in to eat the snakes,
they sent in the snakes to eat the rats,
and I don't know whey they sent in the rats--
They must be bats!

#74 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 05:57 PM:

It really is important to get the bait right, to maximise your target species eating it and minimise the risk of other species eating it. Both bait form and bait placement can be important, so the parachuting pinky mice is quite clever, really. And then of course there's the whole toxic dose for different species thing.

That said, I can see this coming up for an Ig Nobel...

#75 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 06:48 PM:

I know an old lady who swallowed a pinky
It was already dead, a little bit stinky

She swallowed the pinky to kill the snake
How much drug does it take
To clobber a snake?

Wait, if she's swallowing snakes, we don't need drugged-up mice, we need old ladies!

#76 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 06:49 PM:

Checked, rechecked, still messed up the formatting.

#77 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 06:55 PM:

ObSimpsons:

LISA
But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

SKINNER
No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

LISA
But aren't the snakes even worse?

SKINNER
Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

LISA
But then we're stuck with gorillas!

SKINNER
No, that's the beautiful part: when wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death!

#78 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 07:05 PM:

Nicole (73)/Carol Kimball (75): Hee! Those are both great. (I was hoping someone would pick that up and run with it.)

#79 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Jeremy Leader #70:
Since the antidote is Vitamin K, all you need to do is eat your green leafy vegetables.

With that class of blood thinners used therapeutically , once they figure out the correct dose you are told to maintain your current intake of said veg.

#80 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 09:33 PM:

And on Wikipedia tonight:

Did you know that that Sir Robert Clark's teddy bear is thought to have been the only one to have parachuted behind enemy lines and then survive as a prisoner of war?

#81 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Lee @ #50:

The Asimov story with the robot birds is "--That Thou Art Mindful of Him". It's not in the actual book I, Robot (it was written later) but is part of the same series.

#82 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 02:14 AM:

The trick was to make the parachutes simple, cheap, and biodegradable. As I understand it, they're sort of more like bolas: the dead mouse is the weight on one end, and there's another weight on the other end. The streamer between them snags on a tree branch so that the (tasty! tasty!) poisoned dead mouse stays up in the canopy where the snakes live, instead of falling to the forest floor and doing no one any good.

#83 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 08:11 AM:

Projects like this can always be described in two ways:
"a plan to kill snakes using acetaminophen", or
"a plan to create a new strain of snakes that are resistant to acetaminophen".

So too with the restriction of the baits to the canopy:
it's a plan to kill snakes that eat in trees, or
a plan to select for snakes that are willing to eat on the ground.

Typically, you get the survivors you select for. And that only describes the unintended consequences that are easily foreseeable!

#84 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 11:39 AM:

oldster, re: you get what you select for

Anecdotal via my dad:
That happened with ring-necked pheasants, imported from Asia for hunters. The original birds flew when startled.

After enough generations, a great many of them scuttled through the underbrush.

#85 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 11:40 AM:

@61, @65:

They're so good, you can't eat just one!

#86 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 04:03 PM:

Re: snakes in landing gear.

Tires are warm (black objects that soak up the sun's heat) and dry. Snakes occasionally coil up on top of them to stay warm. Easy explanation for how snakes end up in landing gear on airplanes.

I didn't need any caffeine to wake up the morning I found the first rattlesnake neatly coiled on a the top of my truck's driver side front tire.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 05:05 PM:

86
It would be a real fast wake-up. Even more than mis-grabbing the barb-wire-trimmed teapots I saw once.

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Paul, #81: Thank you. Armed with the title, I was able to find it in The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories.

#89 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 05:50 PM:

The first image that came to mind was;
(Dead) Miniature Mary Poppins descending to earth using tiny paper umbrellas from sticky sweet tropical drinks.

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 06:50 PM:

In #89 Rick York writes:

The first image that came to mind was;
(Dead) Miniature Mary Poppins descending to earth using tiny paper umbrellas from sticky sweet tropical drinks.

Speaking of tropical Mary Poppins...

#91 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2013, 09:15 PM:

Nancy Liebowitz in #21, thanks for turning up that eccentric submersible-aircraft-carrier site. It will take me a while to do more than skim it-- the guy wrote forty thousand words!

You ask:

Behold the inflatoplane. Would it work better if filled with helium?

A question that probably occurs to everyone who first encounters the Goodyear Inflatoplane. The answer, sadly, is no. To create any reasonable amount of lift through helium's buoyance would require a much larger volume than the Inflatoplane's.

Besides, a feature of this aircraft was that it could be airdropped in a small package. The engine was equipped not only with a propeller but also with a small compressor. The user would unpack it, spread out the rubber fuselage and wings on the ground, fire up the engine, and inflate the thing. (Though I have found one account that suggests it was sometimes inflated from bottles of compressed air, which would probably be faster.) Supposedly the compressor could supply sufficient air to keep the plane inflated even if bullet holes were to appear.

Good for rescuing downed pilots, handy to keep in a Jeep for soldiers who might need a scout plane. The military didn't buy it, and it didn't meet the structural requirements for civilian certification...

An especially pretty picture of a flying submarine, zorching along underwater. Any guesses about the artist?

Probably an in-house artist at Convair, possibly a freelance aviation artist.

#92 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 02:33 AM:

Speaking of flying submarines... I have long wondered how Admiral Nelson managed to hit the ocean's surface this forcefully without winding up splattered all over the windshield. Those must have been very good safety belts.

#93 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 02:37 AM:

"If mad scientists can endanger the world, nice scientists can save it."

Ad seen today on the BART train.

#94 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 04:33 AM:

ObSimpsons? Ha! Try ObRealLife:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7055625.stm

Monkeys attack Delhi politician
The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi has died a day after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.
SS Bajwa suffered serious head injuries when he fell from the first-floor terrace of his home on Saturday morning trying to fight off the monkeys.
The city has long struggled to counter its plague of monkeys, which invade government complexes and temples, snatch food and scare passers-by.
The High Court ordered the city to find an answer to the problem last year.
One approach has been to train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to go after the smaller groups of Rhesus macaques.

That's one approach, sure.

Since reading this story in 2007, I have had a Google News alert running keyed to the search terms "delhi" "ferocious langur monkeys" "out of control" "trained leopards with head-mounted laser beams". Nothing yet but it's surely just a matter of time.

#95 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 06:37 AM:

PJ Evans at 87, why would anyone trim teapots in barbed wire?

#96 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 06:58 AM:

@93

They should go all in with the NRA parody:

"The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a PhD, is a good guy with a Phd."

Of course, it's just as false with "PhD" as it is with "gun", but maybe that would help to show it.

#97 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 07:04 AM:

ajay: I see your ObRealLife and raise it to ObHistory: Alexander of Greece was killed by a monkey bite that got infected. He was succeeded by his father Constantine I who was forced to abdicate again two years later.

#98 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 07:22 AM:

Nancy C. Mittens @95: why would anyone trim teapots in barbed wire?

To keep the vicious tea cosies at bay?

#99 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Because it looks good?

#100 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 11:09 AM:

West Texas art.
The wire wrapped around the girth isn't so bad. It's the handles made of several strands of barb-wire. (They actually were good-looking pots.)

#101 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 12:17 PM:

Re #83: It seems to me that they're selecting for any combination of the following:

  • snakes that are resistant to acetaminophen;
  • snakes that eat on the ground;
  • snakes that won't eat anything they didn't kill themselves;
  • snakes that can sense and avoid acetaminophen;
  • snakes that won't eat neonatal mice;
  • snakes that wont' eat anything with a little parachute attached to it;
  • snakes drawn with a very fine camel-hair brush;
  • et cetera.
#102 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Snakes belonging to the emperor?

#103 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 01:39 PM:

QPheevr @ 102 Mythical snakes. Though I guess that wouldn't be so bad.

#104 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 01:39 PM:

As I understand it, they're sort of more like bolas: the dead mouse is the weight on one end, and there's another weight on the other end.

To me this just raises the question: why not use two mice? Then it won't matter which end winds up where the snake can reach it (or if both do, you get two doses/two snakes for the price of one drop).

That said, I can see this coming up for an Ig Nobel...

Or even more likely, one of those congresspeople who like to superficially describe scientific research in ways that make it look ridiculous, with no attempt to understand what it is really about, in order to "make the point" that the government is wasting taxpayer money (even though the program named is an insignificant fraction of the total budget).

It's fun to make fun of the funny aspects of this program, but I hope people here are too sensible to mistake that for a substantive criticism of whether or not the program should be publicly funded or, indeed, attempted at all. (Not to say that there couldn't be cogent arguments on those points, but pointing and laughing is no substitute for one.)

#105 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Most of us can think of projects like this that failed disastrously.

Does anyone know of (link if possible) where this kind of solution worked? First, for its original purpose, and with no (or an acceptable level of) side- or aftereffects.

#106 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Carol Kimball @105: IIRC, the regular introduction of ladybugs to control aphids works remarkably well with no noticeable downside. There have also been similar seedings of praying mantises (mantides?) in some parts. These sorts of biocontrols tend to work fairly well on invertebrates, I think.

#107 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 03:21 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ #106: Talk to someone who owns a vineyard in the Niagara Peninsula. They'll tell you all about methoxypyrazines.

#108 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Tom @ 106. Unfortunately the ladybugs introduced for biocontrol are usually not native ladybugs but Asian ones. These Asian ladybugs have become invasive. They've spread widely and seem to have caused a decline in native ladybug populations.

#109 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Ladybugs don't play well with vineyards - OH NOES.

The efforts I'm guessing about were along the lines of:
1. determine the critters with the most powerful
pheromones
2. sterilize them
3. blanket the area


#110 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 09:04 PM:

I stand corrected, and thanks for expanding my knowledge.

#111 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2013, 10:33 PM:

oldster @ 96... They *laughed* at him at the University!

#112 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 08:58 AM:

Carol Kimball @105: A 2002 compilation (conference papers) of examples of varying degrees of success in eradicating invasive species is available online:

Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species

A lot of work goes into this sort of programme, to choose the best bait/toxin combination to maximise the effect on the target species while minimising potential negative effects on other species.

I think this sounds plausible. My reference to the possibility of an Ig Nobel was because people are laughing, but then starting to consider it seriously - rather like the remote-control mini helicopter used to collect samples from whale blow-hole exhalations.

#113 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:11 AM:

rather like the remote-control mini helicopter used to collect samples from whale blow-hole exhalations.

Many years ago I almost became involved in a project to study the feeding behaviour of Antarctic walruses. Obviously following the walrus around and watching what they ate was impractical (the walrus is, generally, a marine animal; also, it's very cold down there) so the plan was to sample the isotope ratios in their blubber, which is laid down in layers like tree rings. So we could say "Ah ha, this blubber layer is from six months ago and has this isotope ratio, so we know that last winter they were eating mainly shrimp; but last summer's blubber shows them eating mainly clams". Or whatever.

The implication on the ground would be ajay, in a warm coat, hiding behind boulders on a windswept Antarctic beach, shooting walruses with a crossbow. The crossbow quarrel would be tipped with a large-bore needle attached to a bit of string, allowing me to take a neat cylindrical core sample of walrus blubber, retrieve it by means of the string, and then run like hell from the enraged tonne of recently-perforated scientifically interesting blubber bearing down on me with malicious intent.

I kind of like the way my life turned out instead.

#114 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:22 AM:

ajay @ 113: run like hell from the enraged tonne of recently-perforated scientifically interesting blubber bearing down on me with malicious intent.

But what happened to the walrus?

#115 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:25 AM:

Ginger #114:

The walrus is Paul.

#116 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Ajay, I have to tell you, the phrase "enraged tonne of recently-perforated scientifically interesting blubber" may be the best thing I've read all week.

#117 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:49 AM:

113
at least I didn't have a mouthful of tea when I read that. (It would have become a far messier coughing fit.)

#118 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 09:52 AM:

ajay, "enraged tonne of recently-perforated scientifically interesting blubber" almost caused my laptop to receive a beer shower. Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter. I appreciate it far more than the computer would.

#119 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 10:31 AM:

Adding my voice to the chorus of appreciation for the enraged tonne of recently-perforated scientifically interesting blubber.

#120 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 01:25 PM:

The enraged tonne also received a good smiling here.

#121 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 02:28 PM:

dcb: thanks! I'm going to be working my way through that for a while...

#123 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 04:18 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ #70

Regarding the use of brodifacoum to eliminate rats and other rodents from islands to help sea birds. The reasons it is used despite being toxic to birds as well as mammals is because generally the rarer sea birds (as opposed to very common generalists like gulls and skuas) will not feed upon the dead rats. Secondly the brodifacoum itself is not attractive to animals it has to be added to a bait. I have read in regard to the use of these baits on South Georgia that a fair amount of research has been done starting out with smaller islands to make baits that are attractive to rats and much less so to birds.

While it will damage the sea bird populations (if present) for a time this is weighed against the gain in later years from the birds having a rat free area to nest. This has already been shown on Campbell Island among other places. Also the rarest of the rare generally do not nest at all on the targeted islands due precisely to the infestation with rats. For example the Campbell Snipe and the Campbell Teal were completely eradicated by the rats and they only survived on some smaller offshore islands and islets until after the rats were eliminated in 2001. Since then the Campbell Teal has been reintroduced and has gone from critically endangered to being just endangered with good prospects for making a full recovery.

The persistence of brodifacoum in the environment is also relatively low. It has a half-life in the soil of about 157 days and thus after three years should only be about 0.8% of the total amount put down on the island and along with being diluted should be as safe as anywhere for wildlife.

#124 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Mishalak @123, thanks for a very detailed, thoughtful response!

#125 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Ginger @ 114... Fragano @ 115... Did you know that the French word for 'walrus' is 'morse'?

#126 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 10:03 AM:

ajay @113, Serge @125 The implication on the ground would be ajay, in a warm coat, hiding behind boulders on a windswept Antarctic beach, shooting walruses with a crossbow.

Clearly investigating this is a job for Inspector Morse. As soon as he parks his Jaguar.

#127 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 10:22 AM:

Shooting walruses with a crossbow is a direct violation of the Morse Code.

#128 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 10:40 AM:

Serge Broom @125: Did you know that the French word for 'walrus' is 'morse'?

English too, although it's rare now. You can still find references to "morse ivory" in auction catalogs.

#129 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 07:39 PM:

ajay @127: cause for remorse, too. Unless you felt morseyful and held your fire.

#130 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 11:18 PM:

So morse code is the ethics of walruses?

I once set that up in my GURPS campaign. Not walruses, ethics. Wizards just cast spells; sorcerers summon and bind supernatural beings ("demons") to do their bidding. The ethics of this are questionable to say the least. So I had one guy trying to figure out if it could be done ethically at all.

He was compiling the Sorcerer's Code.

#131 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2013, 01:16 AM:

You know, initially reading about the enraged, recently perforated, scientifically interesting blubber just had me grinning. But tonight I attempted to read that aloud to my husband. I got through most of the post just fine, but the punchline sentence took several tries. I kept starting it and then breaking down. I finally only managed it, just, by working up a running start and babbling through it at double-speed. Successful at last, John and I both doubled over and laughed ourselves to tears.

Both John and I have been sick this week, me with a lingering coughing cold and he with what finally got diagnosed today as pneumonia. That laughing fit was exactly what the doctor shoulda ordered. It felt really good.

So. Cheers!

#132 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little's been gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2013, 01:18 AM:

Filed under "L" for "Laughter is the best medicine." Owes no relation to a Readers' Digest column. Equipped with a heaping helping of whale blubber, variably perforated, scientific, interesting, and/or enraged.

#133 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2013, 07:39 AM:

131: no, that's fine, Strider, keep the kingsfoil. We have... anecdotes. Just don't exceed the stated anecdosage.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Serge #125: I had forgotten. That's just, well, phoque-d up.

#135 ::: Fredcritter ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2013, 09:57 PM:

#21: re submersible aircraft carriers: Then there was this idea which, uh, goes one better. Or one stranger, anyway. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Habakkuk. I found out about it while reading Max Perutz's wonderful book I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier. (He got assigned to the project because of his glacial expertise.)

#136 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2013, 02:02 AM:

#135 ::: Fredcritter

Thank you. It does seem as though pykrete (an ice and wood pulp mixture which is light, strong and bulletproof) should be good for something, even if it isn't strong enough to make an aircraft carrier without reinforcement.

I'm assuming that these days, it wouldn't be necessary to build a large scale model of a aircraft carrier which is an artificial iceberg to find some of the problems.

Are there any books or websites about military projects which sounded good enough to investigate, but weren't good enough to try in practice?

#137 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2013, 05:00 AM:

One problem with ice-ships is crew quarters. You might have to put insulated buildings on stilts, and have something more like a floating airfield than an aircraft carrier: Keflavik rather than Enterprise.

You probably end up carrying a significant infantry/light-armour force to fend off enemy paratroopers.

(Yeah, I sometimes think about how this might work, in a very AH sort of way. Think big, and the RCAF almost has to be involved.)

#138 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2013, 11:18 AM:

Antonia T. Tiger #137:

Re: crew quarters:

How do the ice hotels and ice bars work in Scandinavia? (At least that's where they seem to come up in travel shows.)

#139 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2013, 01:42 PM:

My favorite non-deployed weapon of WWII was dreamed up for D-Day. It consisted of two wheels (12 foot in diameter?) separated by an axle which had a large amount of TNT wrapped around it. The wheels had rockets mounted to the rims, and the idea was to fire the rockets off and the assembly would bounce up the beach to the German bunkers, where the TNT would explode. The book I read (that had photos!) said that when they did a demo of the prototype for the high brass it travelled a short distance and then one wheel stuck in the sand so it did a 180 and headed towards the display stand. Nobody died, but the project was cancelled. If there is any film footage of it in action, I picture "Yakkity Sax" being played in the background.

#140 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @139: It revelled in the name The Great Panjandrum. Film footage, you say?

#141 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2013, 11:16 PM:

James E.: Thank you!

#142 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed for saying Thank You! ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2013, 11:18 PM:

Perhaps I should have gone for Merci Bien?

#143 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has now been gnomed for saying Merci Bien. ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2013, 11:20 PM:

At this point I'm tempted to switch to something out of Maledicta, so I'll just let it go.

#144 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 01:18 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher @ #143:

I don't think it was saying "Merci Bien" that was the problem, it was the bit where you said you'd been gnomed for [verbatim repetition of the same phrase that got you gnomed the first time].


Gnomes:

While we're on the subject, is thanking people enthusiastically really a major marker of People We Don't Want in These Parts?

If it is, it is, but it's also something that People We Definitely Do Want in These Parts do quite often, and an important building block of community, and it worries me a bit that there's this minor but consistent discouragement from doing so.

#145 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 04:34 AM:

Bruce @139

Yes, there is video. It's included in this YouTube clip of Weird WW2 Inventions Some of them actually worked.

It was called the Great Panjandrum, and was not a success. Since the tests were hardly concealed, I wonder whether the intent was ever to use it. We controlled all the German spies, and I am sure they would have reported it.

A similar contraption was used as a plot device in an episode of Dad's Army.

#146 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 07:50 AM:

The panjandrum footage was shot by the motor racing photographer Louis Klementaski and is written up in "The Secret War" by Gerald Pawle. I hadn't realised there was sound with it! The novelist (and engineer) Nevil Shute (Norway) was involved in the trials and it was remarkably dangerous stuff.

The dog seen chasing the 3" cordite rockets that broke away from the panjandrum belonged to one of the engineer officers and was an Airedale named "Ammonal"

The Hajile (Elijah in reverse) rocket cargo landing system nearly worked and earned its designer a degree in engineering after the war. (One problem was that even when everything went to plan, the rocket blast formed a crater in the landing site which usually focussed the blast on part of the descending platform, flipping it over.)

DMWD produced a _lot_ of successful equipment overall, but the failures tended to be rather spectacular.

(This moose is a mine of useless information.)

#147 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Paul, #144: Thank you for pointing this out! It is, apparently, unfortunately true that the unadorned enthusiastic phrase is a common spam marker. However, I think there's a way around the problem, of which this post is a test...

#148 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 11:18 AM:

... and it worked. The key appears to be making the enthusiastic sentence longer than merely one or two words, which I am sure the people who regularly post here are imaginative enough to do. :-)

I sometimes run into a similar annoyance with e-mail, whereby it seems that every standard subject line has become a spam marker and I have to do some creative thinking about how to title an e-mail in such a way that the recipient's filters won't snag it automatically.

#149 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 11:31 AM:

From the last hour:

After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!
This is a topic which is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?
This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thank you!
We are continuously seeking online regarding blogposts which can help myself. Thank you!
This genuinely answered my predicament, thank you! youth nfl jerseys
I am constantly searching online for posts that can aid me. Thank you!
I am constantly searching online for posts that can aid me. Thank you!
#150 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Lee #148 and Their Gnomeliness #149:

It would therefore appear that the distinguishing characteristic is the exclamation mark directly succeeding the phrase in question.

Writing advice on exclamation marks, usage and eschewage thereof, which always seemed well-intentioned but slightly old-fashioned, would now seem extremely relevant and useful.

In other words, Don't Do It and you'll be fine.

#151 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 12:20 PM:

The "Thank you" section from the filter:

/Thank.?.?you.?\!/i
/Thank .?you .?ever .?so .?for .?you .?blog .?post/i
/thank.?you .?for .?discussing .?this .?info/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?everything\!/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?sharing .?(this|your) .?(info|thoughts|thinking)/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?(sharing|writing)\./
/Thank .?you .?for .?sharing .?(this .?one|with .?us)/
/Thank .?you .?for .?this .?article\./i
/thank .?you .?for .?this\./i
/thank .?you .?for .?all .?the .?great .?articles/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?the .?info,/i
/thank.?.?you .?for .?putting .?up(\.|\!|\,)/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?writing this\!/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?writing .?unique .?and .?interesting .?content/
/Thank .?you .?for .?(all .?of .?the .?effort|all .?of .?your .?labor|your .?entire .?effort) .?on .?this .?(blog|site|web.?page)/i
/Thank .?you .?for .?sharing .?your .?thoughts .?online/i
/thank .?you .?for .?the .?sensible .?critique/i
/thank.?you in (spanish|german|greek|italian|english|french|danish|polish|russian)/i
/Thank.?you .?(letter|message|note).? .?(example|to)/i
/thank .?you .?letter.? .?after/i
/Thank .?you .?oh/i
/thank.?you .?sample .?letter/i
/Thank .?you .?truly .?a .?lot/i
/Thank .?you .?very .?good .?information/i
#/thank .?you .?very .?much/i
/thank .?you .?with .?this .?helpful/i
/Thank.?you .?for .?making .?this .?available\!/i
/Thankyou .?for .?this .?marvelous .?post/i
/thankyou .?for .?all .?the .?interesting .?articles/i
/Thankyou .?for .?helping .?out,/i
/thank.?you .?for .?all .?the .?great .?content/i
/thankyou .?for .?posting/i
/(thank .?you|Thanks).?, .?(i .?have|I've) .?(just|recently) .?been .?(looking|searching) .?for .?(information|info) .?(about|approximately) .?this .?(subject|topic) .?for .?(ages|a .?long .?time|a .?while)/i
/(Thanks|thank you) (a lot|a great deal|towards|very much|so significantly) (.?|for|to) (that|the|your) (report|write.?up).?\!/i
/(Thanks|Thank you) .?for .?(great|outstanding|fantastic) .?(info|data|details)/i
/(thanks|thank .?you) .?for .?(allowing|allowing for|permitting) .?me .?to .?(comment|remark)\!/i


Notes:

The .? character group will match any character or no character.

The groups in the form (X|Y) will match X or Y.

The /i switch tells the filter to ignore whether letters are capital or small.

A leading # tells the filter to ignore that line.

The \ character tells the filter that the following character is literal.

#152 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Raul Flaugens, Duty Gnome @151; I'm having a little trouble parsing all the variants, but I'm going to test something here: Thank you1!!eleventy!! (let's see if that gets through....)

#153 ::: Cassy B. has been predictably gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 01:04 PM:

For trying a "thanks" experiment. 1 before the exclamation doesn't pass.

How about if we all go Southern?

Thank y'all!

["Thanks" in quotemarks. Maybe move the experiments in what the filters are over to an open thread, or perhaps to here, here, or here? -- Makusop Noris, Duty Gnome]

#154 ::: Cassy B. has been predictably re-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 01:05 PM:

And that didn't work either. Going Southern and saying y'all still trips the filters...

#155 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Dave Bell: thanks for the video clip. I don't know that they would have had to worry about whether it was seen or not, since if it really worked it would have been hard to stop in theory: I've ridden a hovercraft over Normandy Beach, and those pillboxes are close enough to the shore that I don't see a good way to have added any sort of wall or ramp in front of them to block or redirect the wheels.

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