8452 – My gosh, is it dark out.

The Second Season of Venture Brothers is pretty dang great so far. I’m quite impressed. Hunter Thompson as Nick Fury and Womanaconda. That’s my kind of cartoon.

Dear LJ, Keep that ugly navigation bar off my page, thanks. yucko. I just killed it again, after telling it once a month or so ago to begone from my sight forever.

Ugh… Speaking of gone forever… Farewell, Black Rhino.

A mission to their last known habitat in northern Cameroon failed to find any rhinos or signs of their existence.

The sub-species has declined in recent decades due primarily to poaching, which has also brought the northern white rhino close to extinction.

In East and Southern Africa, numbers of related sub-species are rising with the use of effective protection measures.

But after two decades of warnings, the western black rhino has apparently met its final end, according to the findings of an extensive expedition by three specialists earlier this year.

“They mounted 48 field missions, patrolling for 2,500km, working block by block,” said Richard Emslie, scientific officer with the African rhino group in IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

“They looked for spoor, they looked for the rhino’s characteristic way of feeding which has an effect like a pruning shear, but they didn’t find anything to indicate a continued presence in the area,” he told the BBC News website.

“They did, however, come across lots of evidence of poaching, and that’s the disconcerting thing.”

Even before this latest survey, prospects for the sub-species appeared bleak.

Southern white (Ceratotherium simum simum) – 14,500 and rising
Northern white (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) – only four may remain
South-central black (Diceros bicornis minor) – 1,900 and rising
South-western black (Diceros bicornis bicornis) – 1,200 and rising
Eastern black (Diceros bicornis michaeli) – 650 and rising
Western black (Diceros bicornis longipes) – feared extinct

In 2002, numbers were as low as 10. The animals were distributed over a wide range, making breeding more difficult.

“With small numbers, bad luck can play a much bigger role – if you just have male calves, for instance,” commented Dr Emslie.

During the last 150 years, numbers of all types of rhino plummeted in all regions of Africa.

The southern white rhino reached its nadir in 1895, with a single population down to about 30 individuals in one South African game park.

Since then, captive breeding and successful protection measures have brought numbers up to nearly 15,000, and groups have been re-established in other countries.

The black rhino’s decline came later. The continent-wide population numbered about 100,000 in 1900, but fell to a low point of 2,400 by 1995.

Again, protection measures and breeding programs are bringing stocks back up, but only, so far, to about 3,600.

The main successes have been in Southern Africa, with some East African countries also re-introducing and maintaining populations.

It is a different story in West Africa, where poaching, often fueled by the guns and poverty of civil conflict, has been harder to control.

The northern white rhino is down to as low as four individuals in its only remaining habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and now the West African black rhino has apparently vanished entirely.

Although genetically distinct, the different sub-species may be similar enough in their food and habitat requirements that animals could be re-introduced to West Africa from other parts of the continent.

But that would require stable political and economic conditions, the resources to take on poachers, and the commitment to involve local people in the animals’ conservation.

Even if this were possible at some unspecified time in Cameroon, it appears that one of Africa’s great wildlife icons has now lost a valuable branch of its family.

I’ll miss you, if you’re really gone.

An opening sentence containing a burrito, an angel and a shovel was judged appalling enough to win the annual Bulwer-Lytton literary parody prize on Tuesday.

Retired mechanical designer Jim Guigli of California was proclaimed winner of the contest, which challenges entrants to submit their worst opening sentence of an imaginary novel.

Guigli’s winning entry read: “Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you’ve had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.”

Guigli’s powers of invention and his determination to succeed — he submitted 60 different entries — also won him a “dishonorable mention” in the historical fiction category.

“My motivation for entering the contest was to find a constructive outlet for my dementia,” Guigli quipped.

The Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest was started in 1982 by the English Department at San Jose State University to honor the Victorian novelist who opened his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” with what were to become the immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

It began as a quiet campus affair and now attracts thousands of entries from around the world. But the grand prize winner receives only a pittance and other winners “must content themselves with becoming household names”, organizers say.

The 2006 runner-up, Stuart Vasepuru from Scotland, played with one of the most famous pieces of dialog from the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry”.

“I know what you’re thinking, punk,” hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, “you’re thinking, ‘Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?’ — and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel loquacious?’ — well do you, punk?”

Got to be at work by 6:30 today – doing a simulated lost case and press conference this morning at 7. Have to blow out of here by 5am. Bleh. Until Later dear journal!

1 year ago – Last Day w/Magda, invisi-bro, chrono-lifting, breakfast foods, zombies invade sca event, crab, autostitch bus, minor drama, commendation

2 years ago – KoL, Bollywood, Patriot Act, Felix the Cat

3 years ago – sleep troubles, Andromeda Strain, 4-legged man , system crash – modem drivers (Service pack 4 for win2k caused Norton trouble) , Stalin vs Hitler comic, newtcam pic, discovered title-tags, strickland a/c die-lemma

4 years ago – more swell chatties, Roanoke (including odd reply from Boughman), Dreams of Lake Conoy with zombie mist, sweet possum sugar, mother goose

5 years ago – Evil news, riposte, dream of the jungle, If I were… meme, time, sleepy, Dumbass Tenochtitlan Saucermen,[ awesomely long and fun 143 chitty chat-my eyes only], aura colors, personality disorder test, Louvre

6 years ago – Bad things with AprilGeotarget

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