Thursday, April 30, 2015

O tempura, O morays

American culture has always rated Youth too highly, other parents have always over-indulged their children, and this dotage has always been reaching an unprecedented level. Thus it has always been, so the basic precepts of Burkean conservatism decree that it will always remain thus in the future.

Ha ha silly Uncle Smut! Have you been at the Rosehip-&-Nightshade parsnip scrumpy again?

To shut the pieholes, disrespectful whippersnappers. It contains vitamins and everything for health. Also, if one's parents criticised their contemporaries for sloppy permissive parenting, while one's grandparents were critical of parenting practices in their generation, then it is TRADITION.

It also contains the bones of small animals.

The parsnip scrumpy? Filtering it ruins the flavour. Now give me back my ear-trumpet and I will tell you a story.

We struggle to conceal our enthusiasm.
Via Yastreblansky, here's Randall Jarrell with a few words from 'Pictures from an Institution' (1954). The character of Irene Rosenbaum is a satire on bumptious numpties who open their faceholes and let the facile uninformed generalisations fall out.
A conservative columnist and 1960s revanchist whom we shall address as GFW somehow fell under a contractual obligation or geas to cite the book at decade intervals.

He should have read the fine print in his Faustian bargain.

Indeed he should have. Don't interrupt.

Sorry Uncle Smut.

Starting in 1980, in a syndicated Summer reading list, the book was a "wickedly funny dissection of contemporary liberalism".

In 1991, GFW turned the opportunity of a book review into a stalking horse to bring his rhetorical flamethrower to bear upon the strawman of Liberal Juvenophilia.

Is that enough metaphors? 

The task of shoehorning additional ones into the sentence is left as an exercise for the reader. This time it was convenient for GFW's purpose to endorse Irene's ill-observed opinions as if they were Jarrell's own aperçus:
Ellis in his way, and Morrison in his, illustrate a particular fate for certain youths. In Randall Jarrell's novel "Pictures from an Institution" a foreign visitor says, "You Americans do not rear children, you incite them; you give them food and shelter and applause." The problem is juvenophilia.
Why are conservative columnists so down on Juvenal when they are always extolling the virtues of Martial ?

The aesthetic rankings of Roman poets is a mystery beyond our ken.
The "inciting children" line appears again in a 2000 column which GFW palmed off on Newsweek, but by this time it served as a generic indictment of the Culture; parental indulgence as a synecdoche for liberalism required no clarification, for it had become an automatic nervous tic. The column is literally a remix of the 1980 reading list, because Newsweek won't care.
August, the last month before the academic follies begin again, is when to read Randall Jarrell's "Pictures From an Institution" (1954). It is a hilarious--and, alas, timeless--portrait of campus culture ("they longed for men to be discovered on the moon, so that they could show that they weren't prejudiced toward moon men") and liberalism generally ("You Americans do not rear children, you incite them; you give them food and shelter and applause").
GFW's views on Juvenophilia are shared by a second salaried opinionator and Christopher Lasch impersonator 'DB', to whom our attention rolls now, much in the manner of the poet's eye. DB also believes in the damage wrought by excessive parental love (his Thanksgiving family reunions are fraught with tight-lipped silences). He believes in the importance of Mawwiage, Twoo wuv, both as economic asset and as totem of moral orthodoxy; such is DB's dedication to Mawwiage that he recently divorced from his wife and freed them both to bring other people into that desirable condition. More to the point, it turns out that DB is also a victim of the geas, forcing him to write as follows:
There are two great defining features of child-rearing today. First, children are now praised to an unprecedented degree. As Dorothy Parker once joked, American children aren’t raised; they are incited. They are given food, shelter and applause. That’s a thousand times more true today. Children are incessantly told how special they are.
Rosenbaum's blather about excessive praise for children 60 years ago has been repurposed as precedent and proof of the assertion that current levels of praise are even unprecedentedly higher.

Never mind that, Uncle Smut; how did Jarrell's words get put through the Voice Empassiviser for extra flaccidity --

-- Flaccor.

Flaccor is not a word. And then put in the mouth of Dorothy Parker?

I'm glad you asked me that. It turns out that DB is plagiarising the work of one DB, a decade earlier:
Yastreblansky has a theory for how DB originally came by the misattribution which has remained ever since on his "Great Quotations" collection of fridge poetry magnets, beyond the reach of fact-checking or correction. Or perhaps it's a geas.

As a way of paying homage to the Ouroborean self-plagiarism self-sufficiency, the intellectual Biosphere 2 that American conservative thought has become, this post is a recycled version of Yastreblansky's inquiries, and of blog comments here and here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Casting aspersum

A more tasteful blogger observes that
quite why putting protein molecules (which are highly unlikely to be absorbed through your skin) on the dead outer surface of your skin would encourage the cells beneath to spring into activity, is not immediately clear.
Girls -- DO NOT BELIEVE the malarkey that the boys will tell you, whether "it cures acne" or "it embiggens the breasts" or "it improves mood", for they are LYING LIARS.
Her comment arose from the question whether secretions from the humble European garden snail had dermatological applications. An unassuming beast, I had always imagined, but the pulmonate gastropod turns out to operate under multiple names, suggestive of sinister intentions at best, and at worst, of disregard for the conventions of society.

As Cornu aspersum or Cantareus aspersus it keeps a low profile and comes only to the attention of gardeners and Francophone gourmets. We have already met it as Helix aspersa... under that alias, it is the source of a skin cream of Chilean manufacture. UK grifters came across an account of Elicina® as a treatment for burns, which inspired them to slap some snail-related branding on generic soap and generic gel, and to market them for generic skin-bettering purposes -- hoicking their promotional bafflegab from the paper (they mangled the scientific terms in the process, and a top NZ journalist faithfully echoed the misspellings when pimping the product).
Before and After Elicina®
Elicina® does not reduce the Turquoise Eye problem

But wait, there's more! The mystery mollusc uses a fourth alias! When it is Cryptomphalus aspersa, again it provides skin-bettering secretions, but this time with a completely different ingredient list and a different group of grifters. The exact process of extracting slime for Tensage® skin cream is proprietory, though one peddler labours under the impression that they excrete it. The producers have paid for a series of papers supporting their claims for Tensage:
[...] the secretion of the snail Cryptomphalus aspersa (SCA), was discovered by Rafael Abad Iglesias MD, a radiation oncologist treating radiation dermatitis. It was noted that several species of mollusk retract their tentacles when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light and x-rays.
When the x-ray machine was not in use, Dr Iglesias would occupy his coffee breaks using it to irradiate snails. Everyone has a hobby.

When this defense mechanism was further explored, a biologically active glycosaminoglycan secretion was found to be generated by the snail during times of stress.
Snails stressed by theft of shells
"Times of stress" are the key words here. "I work for the Industrial Farmacéutica Cantabria and I stress snails for a living."

The secretion is composed of a combination of contributions from the snail’s mucous, salivary, and proteic glands. SCA stimulates biochemical, structural, and functional processes and can regenerate damaged structures of the animal’s skin in less than 48 hours.
Therefore it will bestow the same regenerative capacity upon human tissue! Just saying, this is how Cronenberg horror movies start.

It also endows a useful super-power: the ability to walk the razor's edge.

Oh, they're taking its eggs. No wonder the snail is stressed.

"So Elicina® is good for the treatment of burns?" asked Another Kiwi, trying hard to keep up.

"It reduces keloid formation and promotes the sloughing of eschars," I read from the paper.

"I won't believe it until I see that eschar go," AK skeptically vouchsafed.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rah Rah Radula

It was last Thursday 18 months ago that Evangeline van Holsterin (head barmaid at the Old Entomologist) announced an "Invent Your Own Cocktail" night to help dispose of the dozen varieties of novelty Advocaat she had stocked by mistake. Advocaat being a liqueur based on egg-yolk. Or so they say.
Advocaat proved to stimulate the imagination in unpredictable ways. Sadly, such mixed drinks as the 'Premature Ejaculation' and the 'Enormous, Mendacious, Disembodied Anus' and the 'Vast and cool and unsympathetic Intellect' (Another Kiwi's favourite) are lost for posterity, for exact recipes were not recorded in time. But least we still have the "snail facial" story at Riddled -- which was inspired later that night, as a way of tying together a lot of gastropodal images that had been cluttering up the archives and blocking the data-ducts.

Dermabrasion by the radulae of hungry snails may sound more delicate than alternative cosmetic-surgery techniques for replacing wrinkled or pigmented skin with healthy pink scar tissue. In practice it NEVER ENDS WELL.

So what's this?
And a new craze of snail facials — which involves shelled slugs being placed on the face — is expected to arrive at New Zealand beauty parlours soon.
It purports to be the work of Russell Blackstock, "a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday". I wonder if Russell's childhood aspirations were all about growing up and going to Journalism School so that one day he would reach the pinnacle of his profession and be able to sign his name to stuff like this.
The healing and repairing powers of the slime was discovered when snail farmers in Chile, harvesting for the French food market, noticed their hands were extremely soft and smooth, and minor cuts healed quickly.
Laboratory analysis showed a substance called Helix Aspersia Muller produced by the snail to quickly regenerate its shell and skin contains beneficial glycolic acid, collagen, elastin, allantoin, vitamins and minerals.
Actor Katie Holmes, former wife of Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, is said to have taken to the product.
Russell's words betray substantial overlap with an advertorial in the Daily Torygraph from a year ago.* Which is not to accuse him of plagiarising; both churnalists were simply regurging the material they'd been sent by Dr Organic Snail Gel. One searches the textbooks in vain for the laboratory-analysed "Helix Aspersia Muller" for it has no existence outside the solipsistic irreality of advertisement.

Is Riddled in some way responsible for this development, parody inspiring the grifters through the ineluctable workings of Morphogenetic Resonance? More to the point, will we receive credit and royalties? WILL WE BOGROLL.

Shysters should be warned that we will not be fooled a second time. According to Trahison & Clerisy (Solicitors and Commissioners for Blasphemies Oaths), the Riddled legal advisors, our patent for Lamprey Facials and Cyclostome Dermabrasion is unassailable.

* Give the Torygraph credit for creating a 'sponsored/' branch of its website in which to locate its "health/good-life" puff-pieces.
UPDATE: A hint from Alison in the comments leads us to a primary source for the promotional bafflegab: a 2009 paper by Toutsas et al. spruiking a Chilean skin cream as a burn treatment.

Ref (13) is to González et al. (2004) in the Chilean Review of Occupational Terrapins. In fact González et al. do not mention the observant-snail-handler origin story, leading one to suspect that Tsoutsos et al. obtained that corroborative detail (intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative), along with the lab analysis, directly from the suppliers of Elicina®.

Further details would be tedious... so here instead are some Sexy Lamprey Costumes, available now from the Riddled Gifte-Shoppe!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Exactly when the world is not expecting it
Exactly when we're sure of ourselves
That's exactly when the old gods return
And sweep our cities back into hell

How time flies! It seems only last Thursday that tenured mouth-breather Johan Goldbreg was extolling the electability of Newt Gingrich in a presidential election, having identified a thirst amongst the electorate for "an Abnormal Man for an Abnormal World"; yet it was four years ago. The original column at NRO was depublished some time after April 14 2014 and before April 6 2015,* perhaps because the debt to William Tenn's story was too apparent.
Pendulum swings both ways, seeks pit
Since then the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, and the peizoelectric quartz crystal has oscillated, and [Insert rhythmic chronological metaphor of choice]. A different tenured mouth-breather at NRO is extolling the electability of Scott Walker, having recognised a thirst amongst the electorate for tedium and unremarkable mediocrity:**
the Republican party might consider borrowing a slogan from a century ago and offering the public a 1920s style “Return to Normalcy.”
[H/t Roy at Alicublog]
"Borrowing slogans" is a special case of "stealing intellectual property in general", which is the Republican Way.
Golden Age: Only when it was too late did we
realise that clothes were a terrible mistake
"Normalcy" here requires no definition for it serves to convey a mood rather than a meaning, a general sepia-tinged sense of longing for something in retrospect... a vanished Golden Age, or the womb, or a dog's favourite vomit.

Whatever the newsworthiness or otherwise of "Right-wing duckspeaker says something stupid", C.C.W. Cooke provides an excuse to fire up the N-Gram machine and plot the cultural popularity of "normalcy" across the decades -- in itself, or as a return destination -- and check whether the public's craving is as fervent as he believes.

Sadly, the Alicublog commentariat are cursed with the unfashionable and uncomfortable attribute of "memory". This led them to recall that the comfortable, predictable status quo to which Harding promised to return in 1920 (with the first iteration of the slogan) eventually proved to be that of the late-19th-century Long Depression, making Cooke's suggestion more apposite than he thought.
* The column being syndicated, copies continue to reverberate across the Intertuba; the moving finger can no more be called back than can the nude selfie or the buttocks upon the photocopier at a regrettable office party.

** For values of "mundane man-of-the-people" which include "fuckpuppet for billionaires".

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The small, strange drum emitted only two notes, and it almost croaked them: kid-nork, kid-nork, kid-nork!

The Whackyweedia reports that after the Tibetan diaspora, skull hand-drums
began to be manufactured in India and Nepal, with a continued degradation of quality.
[Alas, no citation to explain whether the deterioration is due to shoddiness in the materials  or in the processing]

Mass-tourism merchandise spoils everything.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Tuesday so it must be time to make fun of Australians!

And to help us in that worthy endeavour, their Pry Minster Tony Abbott has been over here in New Zild, unveiling the new War Memorial.

Now our War Memorial Park is an itty-bitty affair and a very recent addition to the scene. It is no match for the Norstrilian equivalent, which stretches the length of Anzac Parade in Canberra, in which heroic statuary -- commemorating the futility and the brutality of previous military involvement-- is interspersed with empty plots designed for coming generations to erect and learn from future monuments to the futility of current military involvements.

They generously invited NZ to contribute a memorial for their Parade... it looks like a borked bronze MacDonalds logo, but is in fact intended to represent the handles of a giant handbag buried beneath the avenue. In return we were behooved to invite the Ozzies to contribute their memorial to the new War Memorial Park in Wellyton.
The architects describe the design -- an array of stone chimneys * -- as a "landform of Australian red sandstone, forming an iconic and appropriate place of memory and reflection, embodying the Australian character and responding to the urban and heritage qualities of the site". Are the blocks pivoted so they can revolve in the wind? ARE THEY BOGROLL. Anyway, real Australian rock was expensive so they elected to cut costs by outsourcing the icon source to India. But this is to commemorate the centennial of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I, and every single component of the Anzac Tradition -- our National Identity Forged in the Crucible of Foreign War -- is bullshit and mythology, and what could be more appropriate than inauthentic mendacity?
Right: Ataturk Monument
with bogus inscription

The fragility of the mythos requires us to treat it gently so the Anzac Brand is protected in the manner of Olympic or World Cup logos to prevent people cheapening it with unauthorised merchandising. Everyone wants a slice of the intellectual property, no-one wants to pay, we might as well be in US glibertarian politics. Bad Woolworths! Bad Scientologists!
Fortunately the prohibition and the fines do not apply to politicians. Abbott was free to co-opt the war-memorial-opening ceremony as a propaganda exercise for his decision to send troops to Iraq (to help clear up the mess created by the last intervention in Iraq).
Mr Abbott several times made pointed comparisons between the old Anzac campaign in Turkey and the joint deployment to Iraq which should be established in Camp Taji near Baghdad by the end of May.
"It is a remarkable thing to look back 100 years to that terrible baptism of fire that our two countries had on the Gallipoli peninsular [sic] on the 25th of April, 1915," Mr Abbott said.
"I think it is quite fitting that 100 years on, Australians and New Zealanders are again working for our values and our interests together in Iraq in the Building Partner Capacity mission that we are jointly engaged upon and will shortly be operational in the Middle East."
That total débâcular balls-up when soldiers went off to the Middle East to die for some other country's pointless war? That blood-in-the-sand balls-up from which we have spent a century extracting every last drop of cultural ressentiment to foster a Never-Again spirit of national independence? Tony Abbott thinks it is the perfect comparison for the current deployment to the Middle East for some other country's pointless war. Also, he and NZ's own Pry Mincer Key reckon it's everyone's patriotic duty to attend the Anzac ceremony on Sunday so they can cite the turn-out as a show of support for their policies.

Bless their hearts.
* Similarity to Anselm Kiefer = TOTAL COINCIDENCE.
Similarity to Paul Dibble's memorial sculpture and Berlin Holocaust Memorial = TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quirk Strangeness and Charm

So yesterday was the mandatory refresher course in "Social Responsibility for Mad Scientists". None of the speakers specifically singled out the alarums and excursions with the vat-grown godmeat and the giant telekinetic vat-grown brain, but they certainly seemed to be giving us more than our fair share of glances. Not to mention the Riddled Participle Accelerator, which fortunately no-one mentioned.*

So they were all "Remember the time when Borges hybridised stag and eagle conceptual DNA in the laboratory, and then Perytons escaped from the cognitive containment facility into the fictive realm, and people accepted them as figures from genuine classical mythology as opposed to modern fakelaw myths?"

Yeah, yeah, we rounded most of them up in the end. Now there are only radio astronomers using "peryton" to label a kind of spurious burst which are emitted by mis-operated microwave ovens (and are totally not signals from the alien overlords instructing the radio astronomers as to the next stage in the master-plan)... which is kind of cool.

"Remember the time when Francesco Colonna managed to cross-breed insectile and proboscid archetypes, and suddenly the noösphere was awash with half-ant half-elephant imagery?"

"The episode was vastly exaggerated," said Colonna.

"Shut up," we explained. "You're not supposed to be here, everyone thinks you died in 1527."

"Remember the time when Another Kiwi went back in the Riddled time machine and revised the Declaration of Independence so that it encouragedthe Fur-suit of Happiness?"

Of course no-one remembers that because it was all promptly un-happened again. The Chronocontinuity Police were not well-pleased with all the extra work, although I happen to think that the resulting version of America was more fun than the one we have now.
New Accelerator
* The goal is to accelerate articles and participles and bang them together at high energies to restore the broken symmetry between strong and weak verbs, in the hope of creating new parts of speech. The possibility of a general syntactic collapse into grammar-free LOLpidgin are ENORMOUS EXAGGERATE.

Don't forget, tomorrow is International Talk Like a Jack Vance Character Day! I hope you have all booked costumes ahead of time.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Despite the name, Slippery Elms are not well-lubricated and can cause woodcuts

An earlier post was focussed on snake-oil economics --
She will be starting GCMAF shortly which is a product from Switzerland & comes with a price tag of $4,000 for 6 weeks supply. If this treatment shows an improvement, Fran will continue on these injections for up to 12-18 months to completely clear the cancer.
-- So this earlier step in the patient's story ended up on the cutting-room floor:

We were introduced to Dr Anna Goodwin, a specialist from Braemar Hospital, by Dr Twentyman in May. Dr Goodwin and her team arranged for Fran to try a different strength of Chemotherapy - also known as Pine Bark treatment - to try get the tumour under control so other options could be explored. Fran was able to have 4 treatments of this but at the beginning of July, at her follow up with Dr Goodwin, the family was told that unfortunately the treatments have not worked and the cancer is advancing.

Dr Goodwin here is an anti-fluoride campaigner with strong views about diet, which she expressed to a recent anti-GMO meeting, taking the theme
"Overweight, undernourished, sterile, and dying of cancer. Our food is it sealing the fate of humanity?"
Dr Goodwin is also is the Oklahoma-trained head of the chemotherapy unit at a private hospital. When the unit opened two years ago, local public-sector chiefs were not convinced by promises that it would deliver radical improvements in treatment.

As for "pine bark treatment", the American Cancer Society provide a roundup of the data within their "Complementary & Alternative" section.
Although there is interest in pine bark extract among medical researchers, only limited data from clinical trials supports the claims made about its benefits for health. A few early studies in humans have shown possible benefits in reducing swelling from a circulation disorder called chronic venous insufficiency, but this needs further research. Laboratory studies have indicated pine bark extract may have some antioxidant properties.
Given their diet, beavers should be VERY HEALTHY INDEED, but this one does not look happy about the circulation in its tail.
If nothing else, the pine-bark extraction industry could provide a useful application for the destructive energies and bark-stripping tendencies of the local Kaka population.