717 All Toasters Toast Toast.

The other day I read a news thing about how spam is supposed to be down by some big percentage, but I’m certainly not seeing it. I’m getting many times more than normal in fact. Makes me think that they didn’t stop anybody. More like the people in question moved to another part of the net.

Anyway, we got into a discussion at dinner about whether or not Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is stupid or not. I’ve always felt that birds that size couldn’t do enough damage fast enough to kill a person, but I wonder if any bird experts read the comic who would know if the premise is sound. I mean, if you were set upon by a flock of eagles I could see you getting messed up pretty fast, but could gulls do the same? Could you thwart them with a stick and some goggles? The world needs to know.

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About the birds, we have an estimate of 200 billion to 400 billion for the total world population of birds.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/g462245897502720/

They give an estimate for the USA but they want somebody to pay for the article.

Call it 300 billion birds and 6 billion humans, that’s 50 birds per human.

One time I was walking along in the springtime and I saw a mockingbird perched on a stop sign. He was smaller than most mockingbirds and he looked completely fed up. It was the mating season and he was obviously losing, and I laughed. The mockingbird then attacked me. He started divebombing my head from the front, and I had the impression he was going for my eyes. I ran. I wasn’t laughing any more.

If I had tried to kill the mockingbird could I have killed it before it blinded me? I like to think so. If there were four of them? If it was 50 smaller birds?

A human being who isn’t prepared with goggles etc will probably not win a fight like that. Even if you kill lots of birds, if you’ve been recently blinded you will not be much use for anything for awhile.

If a bunch of sparrows or hummingbirds have pecked or scratched out your eyes, it’s possible that seagulls or even bluejays could peck you in the temple or neck etc and eventually kill you. But you might randomly flail around and hurt them. They might try occasionally and see how energetic you are. They can be patient. If it takes you three or four days or even a week to get too weak from dehydration to fend them off, that’s fine with them. They can fly off to get snacks and come back to you whenever they want. You probably won’t go far.

Hitchcock was pretty good with most his film’s I really enjoy Vertigo to this day, but The Birds has always been one of his weaker pieces to me because it didn’t seem to be as deep as his other works in my opinion. It’s not necessarily a bad/stupid movie per se, it’s just not up to standard with his other stuff.

And on the breakfast side of things; why would you only take a slice? I’d like the whole loaf please.

I never had a problem with the idea the birds could do so much damage. I just didn’t like the ending. It felt to me like it just didn’t have one, sort of “And then more stuff happened, but we over-ran our filming schedule and the studio are already complaining it’s overdue, so that’s your ending. Deal with it”.

Might just be me though.

As for the spam thing, I can’t say I’ve seen a decrease. My email spam seems as high as ever. I’m still banning as much off of TWCL forums and one forum I’m on that doesn’t normally get any were scratching their heads at where seven new bots came from.

Perhaps the software most used by their sample has tightened up anti-spam precautions, but spammers will keep on finding ways in somewhere. They just move to wherever somebody’s found a way through. It’s like a house with a loodlouse infestation. You can block up the hole they seemed to be getting in, but they’ll just find another gap.

Spammers are woodlice.

Totally agree about the end of The Black Hole. I saw it in the theatre when I was a kid, and that was the first time I ever remember saying to my parents “What. The. FUDGE. Happened?” Except, like Ralphie, I didn’t say “fudge”.

I’ve done the physics, and an average pigeon has a mass of about 370 grams, and a top speed of 36 mph. A pigeon in flight at top speed has the same kinetic energy as a baseball (150 grams) at 57 mph. This is about the speed of a typical knuckleball.

However, to estimate the force of the collision, you need to know how hard the object is relative to what it hits. Assuming a pigeon only has one quarter the relative efficiency of imparting force on impact as a baseball given how much softer and easier it is to damage a pigeon than a baseball, the impact of a pigeon would be similar to being hit with a baseball with a speed of 28 mph.

This is just an estimate. However, the only number here that is a complete guess is the relative efficiency of the impact of a pigeon compared to a baseball. Also, pigeons at top speed are faster than most common birds. Outside of birds of prey, geese, and possibly large ducks, you are not going to find a bird in your typical European nation capable of doing more damage in a collision than a pigeon.

Now I’m imagining Mythbusters testing this with a dead pig and an air gun that fires dead pigeons or pigeon models. Thanks.

Thank God he has no chance simply by association. I’m sure her ever dutiful coworkers will fill her in on the rest and circle will take the board. Jackholes.

Crave–

I’ve been a Hitchcock fan since he signed the Declaration uh, had his own show (I’m barely old enough to remember it in first runs when I was five) and we used to watch the reruns after school when we were kids.

Having worked at a nuke plant on the shore, I had to deal with seagulls a lot. I don’t like dealing with one of those feathered hyenas, and I think four or five determined gulls could probably take out a grown man.

It would probably only require three gulls to take out Reggie… Geez, talk about the pot calling the kettle black, he’s one to describe someone else weird.

–Perfesser

The damage caused by a mixed species flock of birds where they to try to kill everyone would be best divided in to four categories:
1) Birds clogging things up or breaking them (aircraft engines, ventilation systems, ect…)
2) Birds scaring people in to doing something stupid (like crashing a motor-vehicle at speed)
3) Birds actually directly injuring people (peck, scratch, bite, and suicidal diving, depending on species)
4) Infection caused by any combination of injuries inflicted by un-clean natural weapons and proximity to what is likely to be a very large amount of rotting meat (from anything that died in the bird attacks)

1, 2, and 4 are more or less self explanatory things. 3 is relative to the specific type of birds attacking you, but given the size and power of your average bird, it is likely to amount to a “death by 1000 stings” kind of thing to anyone not wearing well designed armor made of metal or other sufficiently hard and durable material (plastic, rubber, wood, cloth, and leather/hide can be easily worn through given enough time and their numbers, unprotected spots like around joints or “viewing holes” over the face would be crippling, while things like ring or chain armor may not provide sufficient resistance to the puncturing capabilities of certain types of claws).

My recommendation: A properly shaped metal cage over buildings and vehicles, vehicles move slowly. Depending on your location and equipment, a lighter and an aerosol can of something flammable should make for a very effective weapon.

I’m not skilled in the construction of personal body armor, so you will have to talk to someone that is to find out how to make armor w/o the flaws that I pointed out for individual people.

Gulls are freaking terrifying. Those beaks are ridiculously sharp and they aren’t afraid of using them. They have no fear of humans either.

As for the comic. My protective instincts are cutting in and wishing many painful things to happen to Wes. Several of which inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.

Birds are mean. Seagulls more so than others. They are by NO MEANS an amicable specie.

Anyway, as others mentioned, a flock, or even just 8-10 birds, can easily kill you with little effort. They instinctively go for the eyes, then throats and neck in general. Sure, you may damage, or even kill some of them, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory, with you walking away blind and with severe contusion all over the place.

The guy that did some physics calculation forgot to mention that when a baseball hits you, the energy is spread on the whole surface of the ball, when a bird flys at you beak first, you get all his mass times his velocity concentrated in his beak. But that’s not the way birds attack anyway, they are going to peck at you from the ground (and boy, are they strong, and boy, do their beaks hurt), or will do so while flapping at eye level. The flapping alone is gonna be enough to get dirt/feathers/bird guano in your eyes, and once you’re blinded, you’re done.

Hell, I once was in the midst of a nervous pigeon flock (lots of pigeons here in ol’ europe), when they all decided to leave at the same moment in a big, big hurry. I got slapped in the face many times by their wings, and I got scratched and bruised by the same wing flapping, and they were not explicitly trying to hurt me. I walked away very scared from that, I don’t want to be anywhere near a flock of murderous seagulls.

As for defense, maybe a pair of big, sturdy goggles (the welding kind) could offer some protection. A stick is certain enough to knock e seagull unconscious, dunno about bigger birds. I myself would try to get in a somewhat enclosed space, so they can’t hover around me, and I get to face them from one direction only. A phone booth maybe. You don’t get much stick-wiggling space, but at least you won’t have seagulls behind you pecking at your head.

Don’t forget that the wingspan of many gulls is quite large and they have enough muscles there to break your ribs. Even if they only score glancing blows, that’ll be a lot of bruising.

Pigeons are awful, especially in Venice. What kind of crackpot idea is it to say that getting pooped on by a bird is good luck. I spent most of my time in the city driving the bastards out of the plaza. Unfortunately for other tourists, that meant they got pooped on.

Philistine

@Philistine–

I’m pretty sure what you’re grousing about (uh-oh, yet another bird reference) is the often-lauded Venetian sense of humor…

–Perfesser

Brooksie is very adorable, but Carol is more my type. I’m pretty sure I could hold my own against her, verbally, at least. Nina? She’s just cool. I think she’d be a great friend to hang out with. Plus she smells like candy.

When I lived in Japan there these crows that would line up on the apartment building across from us and stare at my balcony (that’s where we put the trash when it got too much). It was creepy as all hell. In Japan, I guess the crows are so used to humans that they aren’t scared anymore and my roommate was telling me that they attack people that are taking out the garbage on a regular basis… o_o; Needless to say, I was scared of them. I still tried to shoo them off our balcony and we even had to put a chair upside down over our trash can to get them to stay out of it.
Here’s an article about Japanese crows: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/world/asia/06iht-crows.1.12604759.html
I was shocked to find out that they have started building “decoy” nests to fool the people in charge of tracking the crows’ nests down and getting rid of them. That’s just crazy smart on their part…. o_o

I’m not explicitly proud of this (anymore) but when I was seven or so I bet my dad that I could run into a crowd of pigeons at central park and kick one. Well he laughed and didn’t take the wager seriously, thus was not able to stop me in time. So I ran into 50+ of them, “guns” blazing and kicked/swatted several out of the air. No serious damage done to any but the point there is I was seven/not trying to hurt them/ came out unscathed. I’m of the opinion that, if they worked up the nerve come after you in the first place you could a) take them out quickly or b) get into a building before serious damage was done.

Turtling by dropping your chin and covering your face/eyes with your off hand should provide ample protection on the run and your free hand should be enough to grab and kill a flying attacker that was trying to peck you in a vulnerable spot. Remember birds are very frail, light weight for their size with hollow bones, you could kill or cripple most by grabbing and making a fist.

Now if we’re talking about a bird of prey, especially larger kinds (Hawk, Eagle, Falcon, etc) you will have a problem if attacked by several in a rural area. Your chances increase dramatically in a urban environment where you can easily enter buildings or closed spaces that severely hinder a bird’s maneuverability.

Lastly, as far as armor/protection are concerned a sports bike get-up would be more than enough. The “glass” in any decent closed helmet is strong, a jacket should cover you from wrist to neck, and most gloves are backed with really hard plastic or kevlar or both. If you can’t beat your flock before they get through those defenses you’re doing it wrong.

Uhm. No. Most animals around that size, not only birds, when threatened in such a way will just move out of their way, too much hassle to retaliate. Think about cats. ONE angry stray cat is enough to cause you serious, serious damage, believe it or not, but were you to go in the streets trying to kick them, they would just run away and not retaliate. Animals are lazy. On top of that, you were a toddler, and you’ll be surprise to discover that animals know toddlers by instinct, and tend to leave them alone and unharmed. Hell, even hungry tigers have been known for leaving alone and not attacking human infants. If I find a link I’ll post it.

Now, try to be an adult and threaten a crow, or any small-sized corvin. They will try to leave at first, but if that’s not possible, or you are threatening a nest, you’re in for a bad, bad, bad surprise, and possibily some serious injury.

Anyway, we were talking about an improbable scenario of seagulls deciding you are bad and you need to be killed. Your protection setup would certainly last you quite a bit (but again, gulls will rip that leather jacket apart in no time), and certainly you would be able to last enough to get into a building. But an adult gull would easily be able to smash said window.

To sum it all up: real world, no real danger, uness you’re alone and threatening eggs/nests. But you shouldn’t be doing that anyway.

Movies world, 28 days later is going to be way, way scarier with seagulls than with zombies.
Same urge to kill you, BUT CAN FUCKING FLY.

In addition to all the comments above, take in to consideration that gulls are birds of prey. Their beaks are designed to tear flesh. That hook and the end can do more than just pluck out an eye or cause minor scratches. On the other hand it’s going to need on hell of a motivator to attack something so much larger than itself. Also corvids (crows, jays, ravens and such) have noted mobbing behavor and could move up from going after small critters to humans very easily.

Birds, are for the Birds…

As for the movie the Black Hole, while it did indeed end quite weird, up until that point the movie was an awesome classic. It had the madman playing with forces beyond his comprehension, and Maximillian the floating red Buzzsaw robot!!

I’m waiting for a Remake, I mean, Disney is recycling every other IP they get their hands one, so why not that one too? Maybe if Tron Legacy does Well, damn I wanna go see it, but I is poor :'(

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Here is a rare sight: The Brooksie in plain sight within her natural habitat. At the slightest noise, she will hide from danger.

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