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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And another undergraduate at Denial State

Rick Perry, apparently forgetting which party's nomination he's trying to win, cost himself a big-bucks supporter in SC. But he doesn't think it's a big deal, any more than Newt's crew believed the VA primary fiasco was anything more than a minor Pearl Harbor.

"It's unfortunate and disappointing. But at the end of the day we are marching on," Dawson said. "It won't have any impact." (Dawson is the unfortunate person who represents Perry in SC.)

Another Kilpatrick Scholarship Awarded

A while back, I was listing the various Michigan pols who were at risk of a period of free public housing, and I mentioned Mark Siljander, an outstanding example of our West Michigan public servants, who was accused of representing and lobbying for a terrorist organization. This week, he got his year-and-a-day in jail for doing it and (of course and as is customary,) lying about it afterwards.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One more note on snakebite as a global epidemic

As I said to our long-suffering friends at dinner, this weekend, here I go with another note about snakebite as a global disease, ignored by everybody except po' folks in the third world. The link is to a previous post of mine on this subject, and this one is just a quick update on one pair of numbers. Namely, the annual number of snakebite deaths officially stated to occur in Bangladesh (2000) and the actual likely number (46,000.)

The reason for this appalling difference is that those who report deaths in the underdeveloped world are typically urban doctors, and urban doctors in Bangladesh seldom see snakebite victims. However, rural snake charmers, who, according to a New Scientist article, treat bites by chanting mantras, see most of them, since the people most likely to get bitten are the rural folks, living way out in the countryside, and working in the fields. They a) can't easily get to any place with modern treatment, and b) are still partly convinced that the snake charmers are doing the right thing, anyway.

Found an even older post with a link to WHO's web site on snakebite.

Maybe - just maybe - a centrist fight?

So Romney stomped two out of the three weapons-grade lunatics in New Hampshire. It was disappointing that Ron Paul did as well as he did, but it was a GOP vote, after all, and they still have a large number of mentally deficient voters, apparently, just not deficient enough to back Newt and he who must not be named.

Paul is not giving up, saying "We're nibbling at his heels." This is a superb example of Paul-speak, by the way. The image of several mangy little vermin, squeaking and tumbling around while they take small bites out of the feet of ... well, a large, well-groomed vermin, is one I cherish. In fact ... yes, I do seem to remember something along these lines! Can it be? Is Ron Paul a Jefferson Starship fan?!?

You know, Tyrannosaurus Rex was destroyed before
By a furry little ball that crawled along
The primeval jungle floor
And he stole the eggs of the dinosaur
We are egg snatchers ...
Mau Mau, Kantner, Slick, and Covington

That last line could just as easily be, We are heel-nibblers!

What the NH outcome suggests is that this year's Presidential campaign might be between two people, Obama and Romney, who, regardless of what other schemes they might have, are not absolutely committed to the destruction of the constitution and the total elimination of the middle class. (Whew. Lotta commas in there.) The poor are screwed, regardless, but that's a given, and has been for decades.

What will be really interesting, of course, is not the GOP circus, but the Democratic medicine show. To what extent will the Occupy-your-frontal-lobes crowd try to stage a repeat of the 1968 convention protest? The Charlotte, NC, Police Department doesn't have the reputation that the Chicago Cops do (or did -- I actually don't know dick about the Chicago PD now, forty-four years later) for outright mayhem, and they don't have Rahm Emmanuel as a Mayor, either. So maybe the outright suppression of dissent will be more ... discreet ... than it was the last time we had a bunch of crazy, mixed-up kids challenging authority and imagining the future and being violently non-violent and all that. I was talking earlier about Starship and the Blows Against the Empire album; consider this:

You know I remember the 23rd of November
To the abyss of Chicago you can see the barbed wire -
pigs around a lot of nothin' ...
Hijack, Slick

Now, the Republicans hold their convention first, this year, in Tampa. If I were a boot-licking, heel-nibbling lackey of the power elite, on the Democratic side, here's what I'd try to pull off: I'd broker a secret agreement with the GOP to crack down hard on any kind of protests at each of our conventions, in order to distance ourselves from extremists on either side ... and then, after they'd done so, I'd renege on the deal, leaving them holding the bag and showing up on TV, world wide, bashing heads and pepper-spraying people, while the Dems invite the Occupiers in for a nice cup of tea and loudly call for investigations of brutality. I'll bet they're dumb enough to go for it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Does this sound in any way familiar?

"By A.D. 1150, in the latter part of a severe 15-year drought, the Richland farming complex was mostly abandoned, eliminating an integral part of Cahokia's agricultural base. At about the same time, a 20,000-log palisade was erected around Monks Mound and the Grand Plaza, indicating increased social unrest. During this time, people began exiting Cahokia and, by the end of the Stirling phase (A.D. 1200), Cahokia's population had decreased by about 50 percent and by A.D. 1350, Cahokia and much of the central Mississippi valley had been abandoned."

Please re-read that carefully; the reference is to a pre-contact municipality in Illinois in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries, not to Detroit forty or so years ago -- or this week, for that matter.

There's more work being done these days on Cahokia, mostly due to some salvage archaeology related to bridge construction. It was a bigger deal, in its day, then we thought. The link is to a summary piece, since you have to be a subscriber to Science to read the full text.