Monday Morning Cute: Spiders (Well, Maybe…)

Can spiders ever be cute? The creator of this listicle at the website LOL Gallery Infatuation seems to think so. I generally—and rather vehemently—disagree, which is why this post does not reproduce any of the pictures displayed over there.

I have addressed the question of whether arthropods can ever meet the standard human definition of “cute” before, and I’ve even found some examples among the insects and the crustaceans. I do not feel that I am ready, however, to extend any amount of squee to the arachnids, especially the members of the order Araneae. Maybe I just need time…

Others clearly disagree with me, though: Continue reading


This Week in WTF, July 17, 2015

– Everyone does romance in their own way: Cats purr to indicate happiness and contentment—or whatever passes for those in the warped mind of a cat, anyway. Humans purr, for the most part, to imitate cats in a semi-sarcastic manner. Now we know that some species of spider make purring noises as a form of seduction—except not ironically, the way humans might (indirect h/t Alice). Spiders don’t have ears, though, so they actually do it for the vibrations. You can make your own joke about that last bit.

Personally, I like to think that spiders are learning all of our best movie quotes from the tactile impact of sound waves coming from televisions, and repeating them to each other in spider code.

"Adult female Phidippus audax jumping spider in Nashville, Tennessee" by Kaldari (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons, modified by me (dialogue from "Say Anything")

– Today in “not a scene from a Japanese horror film”: A mom is seen pushing her son in a swing. For a rather long period of time. Possibly since the previous evening. Turns out her son is dead. She didn’t seem fully aware of this, though. I’m not going to make any jokes here.

– “Is your iPhone on fire, or are you just happy to see me?”: A man in New York claims that he suffered severe leg burns after his iPhone 5c exploded in his pocket. I’m glad I skipped the 5 and went straight from 4s to 6. Continue reading


This Week in WTF, July 10, 2015

(NOTE: I’m still catching up on my backlog, so some of these may not be especially timely.)

Det regnar män. Halleluja!: Sweden came up with a fun way to address Russia’s recent spate of “no homo” legislation that is totally not trying to throw us off of anything. Okay, look, Russia and Belarus have known each other a long time, but they’re just bros, okay? Can we drop this now?

Oh, anyway, Sweden is trolling Russian submarines (which, I should mention, are long, hard, and full of seamen):

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is to deal with encroaching Russian submarines in Swedish waters with a device emitting anti-homophobia Morse code.

The device – officially titled The Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System, but nicknamed the “gay sailor” – is a “subsurface sonar system”, which sends out the message: “This way if you are gay” in an attempt to deter apparently homophobic Russians.

(h/t Marcus) Continue reading


This Giant Beetle Is Brought to by BigLaw

The Houston Zoo has an exhibit that I absolutely will not be seeing, entitled “Extreme Bugs!” The exhibit will apparently include this giant spider, from a picture posted to the zoo’s Facebook page:

Via Facebook

They can call this exhibit whatever they want, but I’m gonna call it “NOPE!” (via Facebook)

The exhibit opens Memorial Day weekend, so you have a few weeks to plan a trip to Houston or get the hell off of this planet, whichever suits your fancy.

Aside from the years of nightmares that picture alone is likely to cause, something else jumped out at me about this exhibit. I noticed the following on the zoo’s website: Continue reading


This Week in WTF, February 14, 2014

– Cannot unsee: W. T. F. Is. This. Thing????!????

I didn’t really want to, but I did some Googling, and found that this is the “Face Bank – Coin Eating Savings Bank,” available for $19.72.

The face bank is a uniquely designed piggy bank that literally eats your money! It’s fun for kids because the mouth moves as you put your hand close to it. It’s the savings bank that will make them want to save. They’ll be running around the house searching for coins to ‘Feed’ their face bank.

Something that moves its mouth as your hand gets closer is this company’s idea of fun??? I’m no expert on kids, but it seems just as likely that they’ll be running around the house screaming.

– Poe’s Law gets a new corollary: If you start an auction on eBay as a joke, someone somewhere will take it seriously, no matter how patently absurd it is: Continue reading


An Open Letter to Cicurina venii, the $15 Million Spider


Because I find spiders terrifying, here’s an adorable slow loris

Dear Cicurina venii,

May I call you by your scientific name, or do you prefer your more common name, the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver?

At any rate, I have never made a secret of the fact that I do not much like your kind (meaning spiders), as I tend to find you creepy. I know that you and most of your cousins here in Texas mean us no harm, and that it’s just the black widows and brown recluses that pose any real danger to us humans. You spiders have just always rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose it is because of that time in kindergarten when I reached out my hand to lean on a wall at recess and felt something soft and furry, only to discover a large (relative to my 6 year-old size) wolf spider at my fingertip. I know that’s not your fault, and I know it’s not fair to blame an entire order of arachnids for a mild youthful scare, so I apologize for the aspersions I have cast on your kind over the years.

I write to you now, in fact, to welcome you back to the public eye. I read that you recently reappeared after an absence of more than a decade, showing up at a construction site in San Antonio. In fact, no one even knew you existed until 1980, and no one saw you again until a few weeks ago. You’ve been on the endangered species list since 2000. This means that your sudden and unexpected appearance stopped a highway construction project in its tracks. It sounds like you’ve got quite a home for yourself there in northwest San Antonio, with a whole network of caves. The news says that you’re blind, so I suppose you can’t quite appreciate how much the city has changed around you since the last time people saw you.

I hope that we can find a way to live together. You should know that you’ve made a lot of people angry. They’re really angry with the government for enforcing the laws protecting you as an endangered species, but you get caught in the crossfire, and that’s too bad. I know you just want to live down there in your cave, scurrying around doing spider stuff. You didn’t ask for this kind of attention, but unfortunately, you’ve got it.

For my part, I want to thank you for reminding us all that protecting endangered species isn’t just about protecting cute pandas and majestic eagles. It is also about protecting blind, cave-dwelling, eight-legged beasts like you. You may terrify me, even if you are less than an inch long, but you ought to have a chance to use this planet along with the rest of us.

Photo credit: ‘Nycticebus coucang 003’ by David Haring / Duke Lemur Center (email) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.