Tag Archive for 'spiders'

What kind of spider is this?

The picture I took the other day didn’t do my new friend any justice, so here are some better ones.

Any ideas?  The closest thing I found online is that it may be an  “argiope,” but I haven’t seen any pictures exactly like it.

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9 Responses to “What kind of spider is this?”


Mob Justice and New Neighbors

Today I saw a man get beaten badly with sticks and rakes while I sat in the waiting area of the bank.  I had quite a view through the large bank windows.

He might have died—I’m not sure because he ran from the angry crowd, and then as he crossed to road toward the bank, he struggled to remain conscious as he was hit in the face with fists and sticks, and he eventually wandered out of sight and then fell.  Eventually the police came but be that time the man was either dead or had been spared by the crowd willingly.

Presumably what I witnessed was mob justice, a concept I’ve heard of but never seen.  My counterpart suggests that around that part of the road, it’s likely that the guy might have snatched someone’s cell phone through a matatu window, and then gotten caught.  I can’t say.  My counterpart also mentioned that he’s seen people in his circle of friends switch to “mob justice” mode in front of his own eyes, and go so far as to try to light a man on fire.

It’s hard to know what to make of this.  I’ve been to enough bars to see how simple things can get out of control if there’s enough testosterone and alcohol, but this was lunchtime, not happy hour.  I’ve also heard of this happening elsewhere, like when a drunk driver plowed into a playground in America, but it’s easy to imagine passions flaring in that situation.  It’s harder to imagine the mindset of the person who decides to respond to the cry of “thief!” when a cellphone is stolen, and not just to tackle the criminal, restrain him and return the phone, but to smash the man’s face repeatedly with a stick and kill him.

It seems even more perplexing since this is a culture of corruption, when paying off everyone from cops to loan officers is expected and rarely questioned.  Also, simple financial exchanges border on theft as it is, with everyone lying through their teeth about the price of everything, especially to people who are traveling and don’t know the bus fares, etc.  (And not just white folks like me—even to each other.)  This is also in a city where street children regularly make a move for my wallet, so how it is possible that stealing a phone elicits such an emotionally violent response?

Do we all have this in us, even me, and maybe we just need a social nod of approval to let it out?  Or are people here raised so differently that they are capable of such things whereas I am not?

Maybe there is simply a threshold that people defend instinctually, and violently… a set of behaviors that, if tolerated, could tip over a poor society and turn it into anarchy?

I don’t know.

But I do know that my porch is turning into a spider colony.  I saw this one today for the first time. She’s about the size of my hand, and it looks like she’s laying eggs.  I touched the web and couldn’t even snap any of the strands.  Scary stuff:

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2 Responses to “Mob Justice and New Neighbors”


Fightin’ words

The strike is on and we shall not relent until the Government gives us our demands 100 per cent. The Government must prepare for the mother of all strikes. Learning will be paralysed everywhere in the country.
-Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Chairman George Wesonga

As always, the boldface emphasis is mine.
Source: http://www.eastandard.net/InsidePage.php?id=1144004398&cid=4

So tomorrow it looks like, instead of teaching, I’ll be using my brand new iron and ironing board to smooth out wrinkles!  Hm, it’s hard to get too excited about it.  Well, on a related note, I promised some pictures, and since today was laundry day, you get to see some wet clothes. (They’re still drying outside.)

First, the setting: my courtyard.  The entry gate on the right, choo/bathroom doorway in the center, and the door to my home is on the left.  The green bucket on the ground is my bathtub.  Yes, it’s a glamorous life here in Kenya.

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Three hours worth of laundry: enough to make nudism seem tempting.

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This spider was not very happy that I took over his courtyard.  Cool yellow spots though.

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The weekend was nice in that I took a break from education theory.  I can get pretty worked up when I’m in research mode, so I made it a point to walk around town to do some shopping for the new home.  Tomorrow I’ll be playing it by ear (a regretful idiom) but will hopefully still get a chance to talk with the headmaster about plans for my teaching role.

Lastly, in my attempts to save even more bandwidth (and money), I changed a lot of things in my own setup, so I updated the Phone Tricks page accordingly, this time with a lot more detail in the laptop software section.  (I even wrote a custom Javascript plugin for Firefox, which you can download.)

1 Response to “Fightin’ words”


  • I’m just catching up on your adventure, I had not read it since the first days. It sounds exciting and the pictures are great. We love your KSL name (especially Maria’s friend Rachel with curly hair!) Love you- Aunt Joyce