December 10, 2010

Those difficult gift decisions (and a half hearted defense of peacocks)

A few days ago, Alternet ran an article about what to get for that billionaire on your Christmas list. It was pretty humorous, although I have to take issue with the first item on the list, to wit a peacock. The writer says that this gift "Provides the double benefit of being both the ultimate symbol of excessive extravagance and extremely difficult to care for."

OK, so they are extravagant, presuming we're talking about the male's tail feathers in the spring and early summer. But you can't really blame the bird for that--you'd have to blame sexual selection, which is to say, peahens. The males have big tails because having one helped their male forebears to reproduce.

And they're not that hard to take care of. They eat the same things as chickens and pretty much take care of themselves, provided you don't have more than one male and provided you don't mind listening to them scream during mating season. They're pretty quiet otherwise.

I don't even think of them as being domesticated the way chickens are. They're more like loud, romantic, decorated, seasonal dinosaurs.

DEAL OR NO DEAL. Here's a statement from the National Employment Law Project on the Obama administration's "deal" with congressional Republicans (which may or may not happen). And here's Paul Krugman's latest column on the same.

FOR SALE. A sale of Massey Energy looks more likely now that former CEO Don Blankenship has announced retirement.

MONEY AND POLITICS. There seems to be some connection.

URGENT ANCIENT INDONESIAN HOBBIT UPDATE. It looks like they had giant storks for company.


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