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Christmas Gift Ideas...

Somehow, I'm thinking gruggach needs one of these for his kids.

Review of Uncle Milt's Ant Farm, stolen shamelessly from gymgeek and amazon.com


'U. Milton's Ant Farm a fun way to learn about Toil & Death, July 25, 2000
Reviewer: A toy enthusiast from Sandy Springs, GA USA
Uncle Milton's Giant Ant Farm is a fun, interactive way to teach children ages 5 and up about unceasing, backbreaking toil and the cold, inescapable reality of death. My little ones had a front-row seat as worker ants labored, day in and day out, until they inevitably died of exhaustion, their futile efforts all for naught. The ant farm, complete with stackable tiny ant barns, see-through 'Antway' travel tubes, and connecting 'Antports,' is a child's window into the years of thankless, grueling labor that await them as worker drones in our post-industrial society. It's the fun way to teach your kids to accept their miserable fate stoically. The ants, which come separately from the farm, are bred in New Mexico and mailed directly to your home. Within days of arriving, a majority of the ants die at the hands of the small children responsible for regulating the temperature, humidity, and food supply in their delicate pseudo-ecosystem. Even under optimum conditions the ants survive no more than 20 weeks in the farm. As a result, children are assured the chance to contemplate the inescapability of their own mortality and the whole family will be reminded that the spectre of death hangs over every creature on this Earth. The lesson that the ants' labor is all in vain becomes clearer as time passes. During the first two to three weeks, the exclusively female worker ants are extremely productive, building an elaborate system of tunnels and hills amongst the miniature green trees and red plastic houses dotting the interior of the plastic dome. However, because neither male ants nor a fertile queen is provided with Uncle Milton's Giant Ant Farm, making reproduction impossible, the farm is doomed to extinction from day one. You'll learn such fascinating things about the natural world, like the fact that the social structure of an ant colony is extremely complex, with individual members occupying such castes as soldier, messenger, and larvae attendant. At some point, Uncle Milton's ants become cognizant that their hierarchical structure has been stripped away, rendering their already near-meaningless existence totally futile. There seems to be a breaking point at about the 22-day mark when the dejected ants begin to die off en masse. At this point the ant farm enters what is known as the "death-pile phase." A spot is chosen by the worker ants to deposit their dead, and the burial mound steadily grows as the few remaining ants devote more of their time to gathering and burying others. Yes, with Uncle Milton's Giant Ant Farm, arbeit macht fun!