The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Come on, natural selection ...

... let's get cracking. Besides those lovable people who made pets out of pythons(1), then let 'em go in the Everglades, and the civic-minded individual who cost his German municipality 100,000 Euros to find his cobra when it escaped, there are the wonderful folks who run the National Rattlesnake Sacking Championship in (where else?) Texas. I love the fact that, in addition to organized messing with extremely venomous reptiles, the event also features a "petting zoo." Doesn't say what gets petted.

Just so you understand clearly what this event involves, here's what the web site has to say:

"The Catcher has a tool called a pinner consisting of a rod at least 24" long with a hook on the end. The catcher must first immobilize the head of the snake with the pinner. He then places the snake in the sack. The Sacker is literally left "holding the bag". His job is to hold the sack in a position to allow the Catcher to quickly toss the snakes into the bag without allowing the others to escape or bite him in the process."

There is a five-second penalty for getting bitten, by the way, and disqualification for intentionally harming a snake.

This, as an NPR story this morning reminded us, comes in the same month in which the WHO kicked off a web site, centered on the cost, worldwide, of snake bite. As WHO points out, "Snake bite is a neglected public health issue in many tropical and subtropical countries. About 5 million snake bites occur each year, resulting in up to 2.5 million envenomings (poisoning from snake bites), at least 100 000 deaths and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities."

WHO goes on to note that the bulk of these snake bites take place in Africa and Asia, but it's nice to see Texas doing its part to get America back into the competition.

(1) - yes, I know pythons aren't venomous.