Friday, Patrick Pexton, Washington Post Ombudsman, wrote an attention-grabbing article titled “Is The Post Innovating too fast?” It received swift and almost universal condemnation. It deserved to be criticized, but I also think the response overlooks some of the column’s good points.
I love Australia. I really do. I lived there for about six months in 1993. I met my wife there. I’ve returned three times since my initial visit, most recently visiting last week.
In the airport, there was a sign that reminded me of my very first day in Australia. Both were warnings about the dangers of the island continent. As I’ve come to learn, Australia is the most inhospitable place on Earth for people. Oh, I don’t mean inhospitable like Mount Everest or the bottom of the ocean. I mean in terms of mother nature very clearly telling people to “GET OUT.”
Virtually everything in Australia will kill you. Here’s a partial list:
- The box jellyfish (described as one of the most lethal animals in the world)
- The taipan snake (can strike multiple times per attack)
- The saltwater crocodile (which grows to 18 feet or more and can take down a water buffalo)
- The great white shark (uh, Jaws, anyone?)
- The blue ring octopus (no known antidote)
- The stone fish (camouflaged as a stone, it is the world’s most poisonous fish)
- The red back spider (bites thousands of people per year)
- The brown snake (can kill a small child with one bite)
- The tiger snake (kills about half its victims)
- The funnel web spider (can bite through shoes)
- Wildfires (can spread at 60 miles per hour)
- Weather (tsunamis, cyclones, droughts, floods)
- The sun (Australia has the largest incidence of skin cancer in the world)
- The gum tree (known as “The Widowmaker,” for it’s propensity to drop huge branches on campers and hikers)
- Dingos (been known to eat babies)
- The giant Gippsland earthworm (ok, not deadly, but it is freakin’ huge)
What else did I miss?