Australia is home to more deadly creatures than any other continent, and the typical Aussie response is to pooh-pooh their dangers. But that doesn’t mean folks in Oz should hit us below the belt when something comes along that we’re not used to.
This amusing report pokes fun at New Jersey’s response to the unusual appearance of a single bluebottle, also know as the Portuguese man of war. Complete with ominous music, the accompanying video makes light of a situation that’s rare in Jersey but in Australia occurs frequently and with far greater numbers of bluebottles.
Granted: the Jersey folks overreacted. But not all North Americans are wimps. Wisconsinites have dealt with strange creatures that would send shivers down the spines of even the toughest Australians.
“It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else.” — Bill Bryson on Australia
Yes, Oz is well known for the extraordinary presence of venomous bugs, snakes and even mammals, not to mention other dangerous creatures like great white sharks and the cassowary. Bill Bryson’s book In a Sunburned Country devotes a great deal of discussion to this charming aspect of the Land Down Under.
I’ll review this book soon, but for now, I’ll just share this Bryson quote: “It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures — the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish — are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you.”
OK, Aussies. Point taken. I feel compelled, however, to respond with two points of my own.
First, don’t be tempted to lump us Wisconsinites in with Yankees from New Jersey.
Much to our chagrin — and as I’ve pointed out in recent posts (linked here and here) — we’re only sort of American right now, although some of us reserve the right to rejoin the country later. If we can’t enjoy the benefits of being American (you know — health insurance, good parks, equal opportunity), we shouldn’t bear the image burdens of those softened by a life of U.S. privilege.
Second, you may be far less afraid of spiders and snakes than most North Americans, but we in the independent Rabblerate of Wisconsin are pretty tough ourselves. We live in a place where 99 percent of the population endures the debilitating impacts of the dreaded legislaturump Reactionarius, or the Lesser Wisconsin Politician (often abbreviated LEWP, but most frequently called Loopys).
These parasites, which affect literally every political district in Wisconsin, surreptitiously invade our homes. They leave a residue of uniquely dangerous chemical toxins (called “new laws”) that are invisible but whose impacts are constant and painful to all but the most insulated of political donors.
Loopy toxins eat away at our personal income, cause irrational responses to sunshine, and even make it impossible to go outdoors, among other maladies too numerous to mention.
They leave us in a constant state of misery, and we have to brainwash ourselves into believing we feel no pain. Loopys cause some citizens such delusion that they will actually seek out and welcome their tormentors into their home areas — a symptom parasitologists have likened to Stockholm Syndrome.
Worst of all is that we had researchers working on an antivenom. But the Loopys, in an ironic twist of evolution, learned to attack scientists first, often in more severe ways than they do the general public.
So there. We’re pretty tough, too. We persist, and that’s why our state song is called “On, Wisconsin.”
Just don’t expect us to visit your beaches, as we’re discouraged from going outside. And we can’t afford it anyway.