Snake eats golf balls — surgery goes just fine

A gray rat snake was found in a chicken coop in north Georgia. The snake had two large round objects in its stomach, which, from the fact that it was in a chicken coop, you’d think would be chicken eggs. The snake apparently thought so, too, but they were golf balls.

Now here’s the really weird part: the chicken owner took the snake to get help for its problem! A team of veterinarians at the Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island performed surgery and removed the golf balls from the snake. The reptile is recovering, and will be returned to the wild when it is deemed healthy. No doubt it will head straight to the nearest chicken coop when that happens.

Anyone who thinks nature is perfect ain’t spent enough time outdoors.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Republican State Senator speaks out about his party’s voter suppression


Embarrassed by Republican corruption

We were treated to a rare moment of candor last week when a Republican legislator expressed a sense of shame about his party’s blatant voter suppression tactics. Wisconsin state senator Dale Schultz appeared on the radio program The Devil’s Advocate last Wednesday to talk about Republican efforts to limit the hours available for early voting in the state.

Not surprisingly, Schultz is a lame duck that doesn’t need to worry about getting reelected nor pandering to the Republican’s resentful, fearful, and misinformed white base.

The lawmaker said, “I am not willing to defend them anymore. I’m just not and I’m embarrassed by this.” He was the lone Republican to oppose the bill, which ultimately passed. After very accurately calling voter fraud “mythology”, he then went on to say:

“It’s just, I think, sad when a political party — my political party — has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. And again, I’m a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But that fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud.

“The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their votes counted. And that we should be pitching as political parties our ideas for improving things in the future, rather than mucking around in the mechanics and making it more confrontational at the voting sites and trying to suppress the vote.”

Every now and then I joke about my cynicism; but, I walked away from white-bread America sixty years ago because of the hypocrisy, bigotry and corruption common to so much of social life in this nation. The excuse accepted by politicians, then, was the Cold War and McCarthyism, the excuse for their cowardice and inaction.

But, today, we’re washed in the hypocrisy, the abundant waste of a liberal government that accepts all the lies and garbage of a conservative government. The Democrats – with whatever power they’ve had over the past six years – were just as cowardly as the Truman government. Campaigning for a National Health Service and then fighting for halfway measures that guarantee continued and unneeded profits for the insurance industry is another example of corruption selling out America’s working families.

The incredible waste of money and effort that shells out billions of dollars to combat the existence of a pitiful number of terrorists scattered about the globe is characteristic of a dying imperial nation – more like 19th Century England than the 21st Century United States.

Our education policy under a liberal Harvard Constitutionalist is no less corrupt and futile than the advocacy of that “education president” who spent his college career at Yale stuffing drugs up his nose.

Cynicism isn’t required to comprehend how often and how thoroughly the American middle class has been sold out by our political saviors – of both parties. All we are left with is voting against the evil of two lessers. When we’re allowed to vote.

Why do you think QE didn’t work?


“Aren’t there any Republicans left who can ask a useful question?

Maybe you have heard a line that goes something like this: The weak recovery is proof that the Federal Reserve’s program of asset purchases, otherwise known as quantitative easement, doesn’t work…If you were the one saying those words, you don’t understand the counterfactual.

That is the only conclusion I can draw from this common criticism of the Fed’s policies of zero interest rates and QE.

This flawed analytical paradigm has many manifestations, and not just in the investing world. They all rely on the same equation: If you do X, and there is no measurable change, X is therefore ineffective.

The problem with this “non-result result” is what would have occurred otherwise. Might “no change” be an improvement from what otherwise would have happened? No change, last time I checked, is better than a free-fall.

If you are testing a new medication to reduce tumors, you want to see what happened to the group that didn’t get the test therapy. Maybe this control group experienced rapid tumor growth. Hence, a result where there is no increase in tumor mass in the group receiving the therapy would be considered a very positive outcome…

We run into the same issue with QE. In the absence of a functional Congress or an adequate post-recession stimulus program, the Fed is the only game in town. Neither you nor I truly know what the impact of QE has been. Without that control group, we simply don’t know. I have my suspicions, you have yours. But neither of us truly knows…

The counterfactual seems to get loss in most discussions of QE. Those engaged in the debate — either ignorantly or disingenuously — make claims such as “Look how few jobs have been created, and look how high unemployment is.”

But because there is no control group, the right question to ask is “How many fewer jobs would have been created? How much higher would unemployment be?”

RTFA to examine the question in more detail. Lots of folks don’t know much about modern economics. Times I feel the number who have no appreciation of logic in the world of material reality is even larger.

Barry Ritholtz is one of my favorite financial analysts. He has a habit counter to American pop culture of relying on historic fact. Sometimes, even [gasp] mathematics.

He describes himself as a Recovering Republican.

Dinosaur known as the Chicken from Hell!


Click to enlarge

If you’re a dinosaur with a nickname as funky as “the chicken from hell,” you had better be able to back it up…A dinosaur called Anzu wyliei that scientists identified on Wednesday from fossils found in North Dakota and South Dakota does just that.

It had a head shaped like a bird’s, a toothless beak, an odd crest on its cranium, hands with big sharp claws, long legs for fast running and was probably covered in feathers.

It is the largest North American example of a type of bird-like dinosaur well known from Asia.

Its extensive remains offer a detailed picture of the North American branch of these dinosaurs that had remained mysterious since their first bones were found about a century ago, the scientists said.

What would someone think if they encountered this creature that lived 66 million years ago?…”I don’t know whether they would scream and run away, or laugh, because it is just an absurd-looking monster chicken,” said University of Utah paleontologist Emma Schachner, one of the researchers.

Anzu wyliei measured about 11 feet long, 5 feet tall at the hip and weighed about 440 to 660 pounds (200 to 300 kg), the researchers said…

Scientists think birds arose much earlier from small feathered dinosaurs. The earliest known bird is 150 million years old.

This dinosaur’s bird-like traits included a beak, hollow leg bones and air spaces in its backbone, paleontologist said Hans-Dieter Sues of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Its bizarre head crest resembled that of the cassowary, a flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea.

Mostly dark meat, I hope.

Thanks, Mike