Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reader's Choice

All kinds of interesting things are happening in the world today, important issues that demand our attention. And interesting things are happening in the gaming world as well--new consoles, disillusionment with WOW, Pariah going gold, an old-school RPG I'm playing called Mount & Blade, plus a ton of other things I haven't even mentioned.

So in the midst of all these important and interesting developments, what do you people want to talk about today? Exploding toads. That's right--based on the volume of e-mail I've received, nobody gives a damn about anything but exploding toads.

Here's an excerpt from a BBC article:
Toads in an area of northern Germany are being killed off by a mysterious disease - they are exploding.

Thousands of the amphibians have died in recent days in a pond in Hamburg's Altona district, with their bodies swelling to bursting point.

The toads' entrails are propelled for up to a metre (3.2ft), in scenes that have been likened to science fiction.

That was the sedate article. Here are some excerpts from an article in the Times Online (UK):
An outbreak of exploding toads is perplexing the residents of Hamburg. The affected creatures seem to behave quite normally, croaking and languidly snapping up flies. Suddenly, after nightfall, they start to balloon to more than three times their normal size and can barely crawl before popping. Their entrails are expelled distances of up to one metre.

I personally had absolutely no idea that frogs were languid. Plus, the ominous "Suddenly, after nightfall..." is positively Poe. And this article only gets better.

Heidi Mayerhofer, a biologist who has been called in to find an answer to the riddle, said: “The worst thing is that they’re not dead immediately. They have to fight for their lives for minutes on end despite the fact that their entrails have been shot across the park.”

Okay, I really hate to quibble, but once your entrails have been shot across the park, you're not "fighting for your life." You are, in fact, dying, or, more accurately, dead.

Don't think I'm done. Here's the absolute masterpiece paragraph.
Other explanations are a virus or a new breed of aggressive crows. The birds have been seen attacking toads and one theory is that the toads swell up as a defence mechanism which then gets out of control. Alternatively, the toads could be committing suicide in order to protect the toad community as a whole. Attacks by crows have certainly diminished since the toads started to blow themselves up.

That may be my favorite journalistic analysis of all time: Alternatively, the toads could be committing suicide in order to protect the toad community as a whole. That's a relief. I thought I was the only one familiar with the advanced "suicide to protect the community" behavioral response of toads.

Listen, I know what happened here. Those toads had all recently been to the San Antonio zoo.

And I think I speak for all of us when I say: WHERE IS THE VIDEO?

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