Mr. Sensitive

June 21, 2011

Dealing With Spiders – A Primer

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 16:28

Spider diplomacy is complex, yes, but the complexity is mechanical, not moral.  Spiders are the enemy, and that is as it should be.  It is easier to negotiate with enemies than with friends, as there is neither amity nor loyalty to complicate your dealings and obscure your interests.  If relations break down fundamentally, but one side is plagued by ambiguity and irresolution, that side is, almost invariably, doomed.  In my battles with Brinkley, for example, I am trying to defeat him as much for his sake as for my own—he actually needs to sleep, and eat, and poop, however adamantly he may insist he does not and will not—and that guiding ethos, while inspiring, is tactically and strategically limiting.  Though Brinkley is often my foe, he is never my enemy, and my ultimate victory will strengthen us both.  The Yard Dominion of the Spiders, not so much.

This makes it simple.  I am always willing to negotiate, but never from a position of weakness.  If I am weak relative to my enemies, I attack.  The balance can only be restored, or overturned forever, on the field of battle.  I expect the same attitude from the spiders.  That’s why the Basement War was a war of annihilation.  They were destined to lose everything or nothing, because their position was untenable and intolerable.  I wanted them weak, and then dead.  No longer.  I honestly prefer for the Yard Dominion to be strong.  My ambitions are constrained by a formidable, but rational opponent whose motives are consistent and intelligible; not only do I not resent this, I am grateful for it.  I also appreciate that the spiders feed on bugs that are more invasive and less scrupulous than they, and I enjoin them to continue to do so.  So I don’t want to conquer the Yard Dominion.  I don’t want to, but I would, if the opportunity was manifest, and so I prefer that it remain the case that no such opportunity should exist.

The key to peace is the reality, embraced by both sides, that each could destroy the other, but only at a cost so onerous and unsupportable that no one rational would undertake to do so opportunistically.  The result is a polarized but stable relationship, much like the one between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  American and Soviet leaders often portrayed each other as irrational ideologues, but while ideology did define their conflict, irrationality, by and large, did not.  Every move was calculated and reversible, even though many calculations were erroneous and many reversals botched.  The United States did not defeat the Soviet Union; it imploded.  To be sure, much of the weight under which the communist system eventually collapsed was heaped upon it due to the competition with the United States.  But the weight applied to each system was approximately equal, and one could bear it while the other could not.

It is to no one’s advantage when one side becomes disproportionately powerful.  Certainly the weaker side will be in great danger, but the stronger side will be at risk, as well.  If the military balance is destroyed then adventurism and preemption become inevitable.  Prudence becomes imprudent, and great risks must be taken to preclude even greater risks.  The Dominion and the Empire faced such a moment last week.  I had the pressure-washer primed and loaded with bleach and an unobstructed shot at the entire underside of the deck, home to dozens of adult spiders and hundreds, if not thousands, of spiderlings still incubating in egg sacs.  I wanted to be certain that the spiders recognized my power, and more importantly, my restraint, but ere long my language became more bellicose than it needed to be.  That pressure-washer is bad-ass, and while my trusty Pulverisateur has slain many a skittering foe, comparing it to the pressure-washer is like comparing a Sopwith to an F-16.  It is the most advanced weapon in my arsenal, and the most complete expression of my concussive chemical approach to warfare.  The spiders have nothing to match it and, for a moment there, I forgot that matching my power was never their strategy.  The morning after I made my unwarranted comments, I discovered a spider on the ceiling of my bathroom, not in or above the shower—that would have been an act of war—but near enough that he could have gone into the shower if he had been given the order to do so.  I am confident he was only there to send a message, and to die doing so.  The message was: you can kill us by the hundreds, but we only need one spider to descend on you in the shower.  It was well played, and I had to smile as I blasted the infiltrator into oblivion.  Mission accomplished, spiders, and balance of power restored.

In fact, both sides maintained composure and commitment to peace throughout last week’s Operation Lillypad.  Justin and I refused every opportunity to gratuitously kill spiders, and all other bugs, for that matter, going so far as to expose their hiding places and allow them to evacuate before proceeding with the necessary excavation.  Only if they refused to evacuate would they be blasted out, and so only in the case of the pump box did a high body count become unavoidable.  We gave them the better part of a day to leave and that was the best we could do while still finishing our work on schedule.  But there have since been no reprisals and nothing that could be construed as organized resistance or sabotage.  The peace between the Empire and the Yard Dominion of the Spiders remains unbroken, and I am as committed to maintaining that peace as ever.

Marcus, in contrast, has a full-blown war on his hands.  If my intelligence is accurate, he has spiders of all varieties in every room of his house, including the bathroom.  All spiders—and I mean ALL spiders—know that infestation of the bathroom is a casus belli.  Humans are at our most vulnerable there and the spiders are well aware of that.  There is nothing for Marcus to do but declare war; trying to maintain the peace now would be like the Roosevelt Administration continuing to negotiate with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  What is to be done?  The lines of supply and reinforcement must be severed.  This is the first, last, and only thing that can bring victory.  Once they are cut off from the outside they can be separated, pocketed, and destroyed in detail.  It is a Stalingrad situation.  To defeat them once they are all around you, ignore the spearhead of the attack—deflect and counter opportunistically, of course—and focus all your strategic efforts on the rear of the enemy lines.  Soviet Marshal Zhukov allowed the German 6th Army to chip away at the desperate defenders within Stalingrad itself for weeks and then months, all the while building up a massive force behind and around the city.  Then, when the preparations were complete, the Red Army closed on the overextended, thinned-out Axis flanks like a bear trap, slicing through the pitiful rear defenses and pocketing 200,000 of Hitler’s best troops in Stalingrad.  After that it was only a matter of time until the Germans surrendered or were massacred.  Marcus must his house Stalingrad.  He must make every point of access inhospitable, if not outright treacherous.  For this purpose I don’t recommend insecticide (usually some form of neurotoxin).  There are cats present, and Marcus himself has a sensitive constitution.  I recommend disinfectants, the harsher and more concentrated the better.  When I was securing the borders of the basement after the conclusion of the War last spring, I didn’t use insecticide at all.  I mopped a lot, usually with Comet (the one with bleach, not bleach substitute), and left residue in the corners and along the walls.  I used the Pulverisateur to spray every crevice and corner, every seam and every joint.  I did this at least once every three weeks from April to September.  I also sealed all boxes (and moved or destroyed as many as possible) and pushed all furniture and large items at least slightly away from walls.  The spiders hate disinfectants and the bugs they eat hate it even more.  Further, they do not like being exposed, so they should have as little unbroken cover as can be managed.  Finally, the area immediately outside the house must be as barren as possible.  They do not like crossing open ground.  The more junk you have next to your house, and the more you have trees and other vegetation infringing upon the house itself, the easier it will be for the spiders to infiltrate.  Nothing is more important than bleach.  It will kill the spiders, it will kill their food, and it will kill other nasty things like mold, fungus, and bacteria.  It will also kill human skin, but that is little more than a nuisance, and an avoidable one, at that.  I wish Marcus the best of luck.  I don’t envy his situation, but I do envy his opportunity.  The Basement War is one of my fondest memories now.  I hate those little bastards, and that limited (if harrowing) war against them was fun in the way that a really good roller-coaster is fun.  Never forget: our species would not find spiders so viscerally abhorrent if they didn’t need to die.

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