Monday, November 1, 2010

CIA Not Very Intelligent

The suicide bomber who killed eight people inside a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan a few weeksago  was a Jordanian doctor recruited by Jordanian intelligence, a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a foreign government official confirmed Monday.

The bombing killed seven CIA employees - four officers and three contracted security guards - and a Jordanian intelligence officer, Ali bin Zaid, according to a second former U.S. intelligence official.  Ali bin Ziad introduced the good doctor to the gulled CIA officers, and that was that. He wasn't even frisked as he entered FOB Chapman.

They said the bomber was Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year old doctor from Zarqa, Jordan.

(If you remember, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda scourge of Iraq, came from the same town and country). It is an Army barracks town, with some grim industry, and the usual industrial blight.

For more information see: The Black Iris of Jordan /

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Land Crabs

We have several quite different land crabs around here. They're true crabs that have taken to living on land, or at least halfway between land and sea.

They have all managed the transition between water and air breathing, although often in quite different ways. This is a fairly momentous step for a mere crustacean.

Kayabang (Cardisoma hirtipes) live back in the coastal coconut groves, digging large holes, that, like earthworm casts, help circulate and aerate the soil.

Once a month, at full moon, dozens of kayabang come out of the coconuts, and head straight to the beach to mate and lay their eggs. They march purposefully in an almost straight line, often through the town. At the last full moon, one came straight through a group of us sitting outside Lourdes' Food House, only to be trapped by Big Marty's foot. He told me it made a good part of his breakfast. The local people go to the beach at full moon with flaming torches made from dried coconut leaves, and pick them up by the dozen.

Their claws are roughly equal size, but still just as vicious, and they are fiercely defencive.

This is one who came through the house, and finally ended up defending my dish rack.

Kayangjan (Cardisoma armatum) live near creeks and mangroves, and don't have the same mass mating system.

One claw is much bigger than the other. The right hand claw is usually the bigger. This is similar to humans, whose right hand is usually the stronger.

Because of their bright colours, they are known as rainbow crabs in other areas, and are very common all over the Pacific.

Friday, September 24, 2010


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Andreas the Asshole - Again

My wonderful next door neighbour has done it again - first he stole the copy from my website and pretended he'd written it himself. Now he's copied a map that I spent a lot of time making (from naval charts, etc). So I'm going to sue him. Not that it will do much good - his wife (Elizabeth) is closely related to the Surigao City legal mafia.

Smoked Eel

You might not think that this is a very appetising looking fish. I can assure you it is, and very much sought after.

This English site sells roughly 100gm portions of vacuum packed smoked eel for £6.45 (that's P450/$10/100gm, or P4500/$100 per kilo)

Viktor (phone (+63 920 287 2450) sells exactly the same self-smoked stuff without all the fancy packaging for P401/$7/kilo. It's the same species as American or European eels (or at least one of the two - you have to count their vertebrae to tell the difference, so good luck to you).

The eels come from the small river that leads up from the mangrove swamps at Pilar, to Maasin in the middle of the island, and they are caught there when they migrate upstream to breed; with fish baskets, and then thumped on the head with a bolo, as you can see.

Eels are becoming very rare in Europe, because of pollution of the major rivers, which is why they are expensive. These local ones are a lot cheaper, but still as delicious.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RIP Herbert

Herbert died last night, just before his scheduled release into the wild (well, my garden). I don't know why he expired so suddenly; I fed him on coconuts, and he seemed very active. There are plenty enough coconuts in my garden to have sustained him.

These crabs never go through a seafood stage; they graduate to a wholly terrestrial lifestyle after only a month's infancy in the sea. The young ones are very common indeed; they are virtually every terrestrial hermit crab you might come across here, and they all have a characteristic large left claw, which closes off their shelter shell..