Monday, August 4, 2008
By examining the genetics of snake embryos, researchers have solved a long-standing evolutionary mystery regarding the evolution of fangs on venomous snakes. Researchers have been puzzled because the fangs, which are syringe-like teeth that draw poison from venom glands, have very different placement in different species. Most venomous snakes, including grass snakes, have fangs positioned in the rear of the mouth, while a few groups, including rattlesnakes, cobras and vipers, have fangs jutting down from their upper jaws in the front of the mouth [LiveScience].
Adding to the confusion, researchers had found that the front-fanged snakes aren’t closely related to each other, suggesting that the front-fang trait evolved at least two separate times. The assumption of multiple origins is problematic for evolutionary biologists who prefer to find that complex structures like fangs … don’t just come and go. If they did, fangs presumably would have popped up in other vertebrates [Science News].
In the new study, which was published in the journal Nature [subscription required], researchers examined the expression of tooth-forming genes in over 90 snake embryos, and found that fang development looks the same in the embryos of all venomous snakes; all fangs originate in the back of the mouth, but at a certain stage of development, the fangs of the some snakes migrate to the front of the mouth. “When you get a finding like that, where the fangs in all kinds of adults come from the same place in the embryo … it supports the idea that there’s an evolutionarily common origin for the fang and that it hasn’t evolved totally independently,” explains [study coauthor] Michael K. Richardson [Science News].
Researchers say snakes first evolved to have venom glands, and then improved the system by gaining the fangs that could swiftly deliver venom through animals’ thick hides. They say this evolutionary event could have contributed to the massive increase in snake diversity and numbers in the Cenozoic era, which started about 65 million years ago. “Snakes are a relatively young group,” says [herpetologist Rick] Shine. “But they are one of the great success stories in recent times in an evolutionary sense” [ABC Science].
Pianists, typists and tailors might all look on green with envy at Haramb Ashok Kumthekar, of Goa in India, who has six digits on each hand and seven digits on each feet.
But for Heramb, 22, it means he cannot even wear a pair of simple flip-flops, nor can he find a pair of gloves that fit his hands in the winter.
Even more frustrating is the fact that Heramb does not even hold the official Guinness world record for most digits on a person because some of his fingers are technically attached, even though they have separate bones.
The official Guinness honour belongs to his fellow countryman Devendra Harne, a 13 year old boy from Kolkota, who has 12 fingers and 13 toes on his feet.
However, there is some consolation for Heramb as he is included in the Indian equivalent of the Guinness Book of Records, the Limca Book of Records.
Heramb, who is currently studying for a Masters in Business Management at his college in the western Indian town of Pune, has always seen his extra digits as something to be proud of.
"I am happy about it because I have something that others don't have," says Heramb.
And showing a full understanding of that old maxim 'Use what you've got' , Heramb goes on to say, "I never had a problem with it and after I get publicity I will be famous because of it."
Heramb's extra digits are caused by the medical condition polydactlyism, which translates from the Greek for "many fingers".
The congenital condition occurs in one in every 500 births and famous holders of extra digits include the beheaded ex-wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, who was rumoured to have an extra finger on her left hand.
Indeed, Heramb shares the condition with one of his idols, the Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan. Roshan, 34, who is one of Indian cinema's rising stars, boasts one extra digit on each hand.
Because of the sheer number of digits he has Heramb does not have the requisite amount of nerve endings available to feel all his fingers and toes.
Aware of his extra digits, but unable to move them, the awkwardness this causes has led to some friendly jibes from his friends.
"My friends sometimes kiddingly say that my hands and feet resemble that of an alien," he laughs.
Regardless, Heramb, who lives with his mother Seeta, 49, clearly sees his oddity as a gift rather than a curse.
The next time some obnoxious jerk in a Hummer or Escalade cuts you off as if they owned the road, perhaps you should consider the move taken by Joachim Schoeneich of Neu Anspach Germany. He has decided that a British Army surplus Fox FV721 makes the perfect family grocery getter, and has even fitted a kiddie seat so two year old son Paul can come along for the ride.
While most reports are incorrectly calling it a tank, the Fox is really an armored reconnaissance vehicle, with huge tires rather than the tracks of an actual tank. The overall size is not too unreasonable either, being narrower than a Hummer H1, and shorter than a regular Chrysler 300 sedan. Shoeneich says it's tricky to maneuver, especially with it's non functioning gun sticking out and lousy outward visibility. Still, I suppose nobody's going to argue with you over that last parking spot.
Perhaps Schoeneich should also consider some alternate wheels for once he gets inside the store.
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- An unhappy Subway customer called 911 not once, but twice to complain to police that his sandwich was not made to his liking.
Reginald Peterson called the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office in hopes that police could have his sandwich made to his satisfaction.
A short time later, Peterson contacted JSO again to complain that police still had not shown up.
When police did arrive Peterson told the officer he had ordered two sandwiches, checked out, and then walked outside to find the subs did not have "everything" he ordered.
He told police he became "very upset" and "belligerent" because the employee making the sandwich was not doing it correctly.
Witnesses inside the store say Peterson eventually started screaming at everyone inside. When Peterson went outside to call police. Employees closed the store and locked the door to keep him from returning.
According to the report, the officer tried to calm Petterson and explain to him the proper way to use 911, but he would not cooperate.
Peterson was arrested and at his request the sandwiches were thrown away.©2008 First Coast News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.
We’re blowing our whistles on the top turncoats in history and giving away all their dirty little secrets. BY CHRISTOPHER CONNOLLY
1. Anna Sage: Dillinger’s Deadly Date
The Tale: Anna Sage was a Romanian immigrant who came to America in 1909 and found work in a brothel in East Chicago, Ind. Although she was successful in this venerable and established field (she opened several of her own houses of ill repute in Indiana and Illinois), the Department of Labor sought to deport her as an “alien of low moral character.” But when famed bank robber John Dillinger—whom she met through mutual gal pal Polly Hamilton—asked her to a movie, Sage thought she’d found a way to stamp her Green Card. Dillinger was wanted in five states, and Sage hoped that if she turned him in, the good karma would translate into an invitation to stay in the U.S.
The Tattle: To stage the arrest, Sage called her ex-boyfriend, Martin Zarkovich, at the East Chicago Police Department, and was put in contact with agent Melvin Purvis, who was working the Dillinger case for the FBI. Sage told Purvis about her upcoming date with Dillinger at the Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. (O.k., maybe she didn’t specify the year…) In order to be identified in the crowd, Sage agreed to wear a white blouse and orange skirt that night, even though history would later dub her the “Lady in Red.” (Historians believe the lights of the marquee made her outfit appear red, spawning the moniker.) As she, Dillinger, and Polly Hamilton exited the theater, Purvis confronted the group. Dillinger tried to run, which worked pretty well until four FBI bullets put a hitch in his stride. He died at the scene.
The Aftermath: Sage collected $5,000 for information leading to Dillinger’s “capture,” but was soon sent back to Romania. According to most sources, agents at the FBI told Sage they couldn’t prevent her deportation because of the organization’s lack of influence over the Department of Labor, but recent research suggests a more devious motive. In Jay Robert Nash’s book Dillinger: Dead or Alive, the author suggests the whole episode was a setup. Because the FBI’s failure to capture the elusive Public Enemy No.1 was a source of considerable consternation, Nash believes the scene outside the theater that night was the shooting of an innocent man staged by Sage, Zarkovich, and the FBI. The goal? Alleviate pressure on the FBI and help keep the “Lady in Red” in the country. Nash claims Sage’s hasty deportation was part of the cover-up, and also points to discrepancies between the body of the dead man and Dillinger. John Dillinger was widely known for his blue eyes and missing upper tooth. The body from the scene, however, had brown eyes and a full set of teeth. Adding further credence to Nash’s theory is the disappearance of local criminal John Lawrence the night of the shooting.
2. Aldrich Ames: Soviet Mole and CIA Rat
The Tale: Aldrich Hazen Ames was pretty much born a CIA agent. His father spied for the CIA in Burma during the 1950’s, and at age 16, Aldrich went to “The Farm,” a CIA training facility, to learn the ropes himself. Despite his pedigree, it seems unlikely that Ames will win CIA Employee of the Year. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Why? Because Ames was the most damaging mole in CIA history. Beginning in 1985, he sold out every spy the CIA and FBI had in the then-USSR, and we doubt a “my bad” will cover that.
The Tattle: Ironically, Ames started out at the CIA recruiting Soviets to spy on their government, but he soon discovered he wasn’t very good at convincing people to snitch. Luckily for him (and his career), his next assignment was with a Soviet Diplomat to Colombia named Aleksandr Dmitrievich Ogorodnik. Ogorodnik had already been convinced to spy for the U.S., but he didn’t prove very useful until he was transferred to Ames’ CIA department. In Ames’ hands, Ogorodnik (code-named Trigon) was reassigned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where he developed a knack for photographing sensitive documents and files. Although Ames had never successfully recruited a single spy, his handling of Trigon earned him a promotion. He became the Counterintelligence Branch Chief of Soviet Operations, where he had access to information on every aspect of U.S. operations in Russia. Life was looking swell for Ames until he ran into some girl trouble. Ames was having an affair with a Colombian woman named Maria del Rosario Casas. He brought Rosario to Washington, D.C., and it wasn’t long before she started making trouble. She demanded Ames divorce his wife, which he did, wiping out almost all of his savings and assets. Rosario also spent money like it was going out of style, calling home daily and swiftly digging Ames nearly $35,000 into debt.
Ames became so desperate for funds that he considered robbing a bank. But then he remembered that the Soviets paid $50,000 for the names of U.S. spies working in their country. He arranged a meeting with Sergei Chuvakhin of the Soviet Embassy and gave him the names of three CIA spies. In exchange for this information, Ames received $50,000. The story could have ended here but for the arrest of another tattletale, former Navy Warrant Officer John Walker, Jr., who was caught selling information to the Russians. Ames got so freaked out that he, too, would be exposed that he decided to beat all possible blabbers to the chase. He contacted Chuvakhin and gave him the names of every single “human asset” the CIA had in Russia. To make the deal sweeter, he also reportedly gave up a British spy and nearly seven pounds of documents that he’d carried out of the CIA office in his briefcase. For his generosity in “playing the game,” the double agent was made the world’s highest-paid spy, with an annual salary of $300,000.
The Aftermath: Ames named 25 spies. All of them were caught, and at least 10 were executed. Meanwhile, the unsuspecting CIA transferred him to its office in Rome. Ames felt Rosario would be happier there and wanted to distance himself from all his mischief. He did not, however, distance himself from the cash the Russians were paying him, and he and Rosario lived lavishly. Although his CIA salary was $70,000 a year, he wore a Rolex watch and drove a Jaguar to work. It only took the CIA nine years to notice that something didn’t quite add up, and the couple was arrested in 1994. Today, Ames is serving out a life sentence, and Rosario was shipped off to Colombia after serving a five-year jail term.
3. Doña Marina: Dictator’s Translator
The Tale: To this day, Doña Marina remains a controversial figure in Mexican history. To some, she’s the embodiment of treason for her role in helping the Spanish conquer the Aztecs. Others believe she was simply a victim. To still others, La Malinche (as she was called) is the symbolic mother of the Mexican race who saved hundreds of Aztecs from the conquistadores.
This is what we do know: Doña Marina was born to a noble tribal chief in the southeast part of the Aztec Empire. As firstborn, she was to become her father’s successor. After her father died, however, her mother remarried and had a son whom she wanted to rule the tribe. To make sure La Malinche didn’t make too much trouble over the deal, her parents sold her into slavery. She spent several years as a slave in the present-day state of Tabasco. When Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés invaded the country, she became one of his servants.
The Tattle: Although described as intelligent, forward, and ambitious, La Malinche’s most important attribute was her linguistic skill. A native speaker of the Aztec tongue, Nahuatl, her years in Tabasco also left her fluent in Mayan. This was of tremendous help to Cortés, who was negotiating with Mayan tribes as a means of usurping power in Mexico. Her talents were discovered when she began speaking in Mayan to a member of Cortés’ party, a friar named Gerónimo de Aguilar. It was unusual for a Spanish monk like Aguilar to know Mayan, but as luck would have it, he had been shipwrecked in Mexico in 1511 and spent seven years living among the Mayan tribes and learning their language. Before long, Aguilar was translating La Malinche’s Mayan into Castilian for Cortés. This was a major breakthrough in communicating with the Aztecs, but the process was slow and cumbersome. Fortunately, La Malinche quickly achieved fluency in Castilian, converted to Christianity, took the name Doña Marina, and was promoted to Cortés’ personal staff. Soon, she became Cortés’ constant companion (read: mistress) and played an essential role in the Spanish conquest.
The Aftermath: Aided by Marina (not to mention his superior weapons and military tactics), Cortés subdued the Aztecs in 1521, marking the official fall of the Aztec Empire. Amid all of his conquering, Cortés and Marina had a son who, as the product of Native American and European ancestry, is recognized as the first official Mexican citizen.
Today, much of the Hispanic world sees La Malinche only as a woman who betrayed her people. In fact, her name eventually coined the term malinchista, which describes a Mexican who favors and/or imitates the language and customs of another country. Some modern Mexican feminists even claim that the stereotypical disdain that Mexican men display toward their women is rooted in their anger at Marina’s betrayal. Is all this anger misplaced? There’s evidence to suggest so. Many historians contend that Marina’s diplomacy saved Aztec lives and brought civility to an otherwise barbaric society. Still, to this day, the house Marina and Cortés shared in Mexico City is not even adorned by a plaque. Current resident Rina Lazo explained, “For Mexico to make this house a museum would be like the people of Hiroshima creating a monument for the man who dropped the atomic bomb.”
4. Mordechai Vanunu: Paying the Price of Going Public
The Tale: Mordechai Vanunu was a Moroccan who immigrated to Israel in 1963 with his parents and his ten siblings. Upon arrival, Vanunu served in the Israeli army before finding employment at the Dimona Nuclear Research Center in the Negev desert. Happy to have a job, he worked there from 1976 to 1985 before concluding that Dimona was a secret nuclear weapons production plant that was covertly producing military warheads. That’s when he started to feel a smidge uncomfortable. The “research facility” housed an enormous plutonium separation plant that rendered the Israeli nuclear arms program vastly more advanced than the international community suspected and operated entirely without the knowledge of the Israeli people. Fully aware of the harsh repercussions he could face, Vanunu felt it was incumbent on him to share this information with the world.
The Tattle: Despite having signed an “Official Secrets Pact,” Vanunu brought a camera to work one day and stealthily photographed the facility. Soon thereafter, he fled Israel and went public with his information. On October 5, 1986, The London Sunday Times headline blared, “Revealed: The Secret of Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal.” The cat was out of the bag, and it was sharing Israel’s secrets with anyone who’d listen.
The Aftermath: Even before the Times story ran, the Israelis knew what Vanunu was up to. Agents from Israel’s intelligence institute, Mossad, lured him to Italy, where he was kidnapped, drugged, and cargo-shipped back to Israel. (Details of this abduction were made public when Vanunu inked them on his hand and allowed quick-thinking news photographers to snap pictures.) In Israel, Vanunu was charged with treason and espionage. Despite international outcry, the closed-door trial led to an 18-year prison sentence, the first 11 of which he spent in solitary confinement. In 1998, Vanunu was allowed to join the general prison population, and in 2004, he was “conditionally” released. While currently “free,” the Israeli government still refuses to let Vanunu leave the country, and he is forbidden to speak with the international media. He remains an unrepentant whistleblower and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.
5. Elia Kazan: Snitch To The Stars
The Tale: Between 1945 and 1957, Elia Kazan enjoyed a hot streak few in Hollywood could even dream about. He directed 13 acclaimed motion pictures (including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “East of Eden”) and was nominated for four Best Director awards. Kazan was riding high when Hollywood entered the blackest period in its history (barring the second and third installments of the “Matrix” trilogy): the Communist witch hunts of the 1950’s.
The Tattle: A philosophical and politically passionate man, Kazan had been a founding member of the leftist Group Theater in New York and, for a little more than a year, was a member of the Communist Party. In 1934, however, Kazan’s ideals began to diverge sharply from those of the Party, and he soon found himself a zealous anti-Communist. Wanting names, the government pressured Kazan to spill the beans, even threatening to have him blacklisted by major Hollywood studios. After wrestling with the question of whether or not he should sacrifice his career for people whose ideals he disdained, Kazan decided to share his knowledge of Communists in Hollywood with the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In 1952, he went before the Committee and named eight of his Group Theater buddies who had been members of the Communist Party with him.
The Aftermath: After Kazan’s testimony, the government was fast on the tails of those he’d named, pressuring them for yet more names, and it was officially witchhuntin’ season! Many actors, writers, and directors were blacklisted, and scores of careers were ruined. The era remains one of the least tinselly in Tinseltown history.
Not surprisingly, pretty much everyone not already in the business of rooting out Commies reviled Kazan. His longtime friend and confidant, Arthur Miller, explained his feelings on the matter in his allegorical play “The Crucible.” Not to be outdone, Kazan shot back by crafting a sympathetic informer character in his film “On The Waterfront,” which Miller rebutted in “A View From The Bridge.” (Jeez, guys, just pick up the phone or something.) But the controversy surrounding Kazan was yet to abate. In 1999, Kazan was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars, and more than 500 people showed up to protest. Writer and director Abraham Polonsky, whom 20th Century Fox had fired and blacklisted for his refusal to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee, said of the event, “I’ll be watching, hoping someone shoots him.” Um, Mr. Polonsky, do you think you could put that in the form of a play?
6. Sammy “The Bull” Gravano: Blabbing on the Boss
The Tale: Probably the world’s most notorious hairdresser-turned-hitman, Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano was the highest-ranking Italian Mafia member ever to break omerta, the mob code of silence. Born in Brooklyn and nicknamed “The Bull” for his short stature, thick neck, and ruthless fighting tactics, Gravano rose to the position of underboss in the Gambino crime family. Allegedly responsible for 19 murders, Gravano was no angel, and no tight-lips, either. Sammy’s damning testimony sealed the fate of many in the organization, including his former boss, John Gotti.
The Tattle: The reason Gravano snitched varies depending on whom you ask. Some claim he did it to receive a lighter prison sentence, while others say he got mad after hearing Gotti badmouthing him on a wiretap. But in Underboss: Sammy The Bull Gravano’s Life In The Mafia, Gravano says Gotti needed to be taken down because he was addicted to publicity, and all the attention was harming the mob. Either way, Gravano delivered such damaging testimony in court that lead Gotti prosecutor John Gleeson described him as having rendered “extraordinary, unprecedented, historic assistance to the government.”
The Aftermath: Information provided by Gravano created a ripple effect throughout the Mafia underground, and numerous corroborating witnesses came forward. Dozens of luminaries in the Cosa Nostra crime syndicate were convicted, jury-rigging schemes were exposed, mobsters already in jail had their sentences extended, and high-ranking members of the Gambino, Colombo, DeCalvacante, and Lucchese families were imprisoned. In 1995, Gravano got a cushy five-year sentence for his 19 murders, and was later placed in the Witness Protection Program. After his release, Sammy made the most of his second chance by teaming up with some neo-Nazis and getting busted for selling Ecstasy. Not so bright, Bull. He got 19 years in the slammer this time, a sentence he’s still serving.
The Waboba ball, which is about the size of a golf ball, has taken off around the world after videos were posted on YouTube.
Made of a combination of plastics with a lycra coating, it is described as having the consistency of a breast implant.
The ball is about the same density as water and floats when at rest, but bounces high and true when thrown. It continues to bounce until it is caught or runs out of steam.
The ball took Swedish inventor Jan von Heland several years to perfect, but it is now being sold around the world after first taking off on the beaches of Australia.
"I first got the idea when I was throwing a frisbee upside down on the water trying to get it to bounce,” he said.
"I thought it would be good to get something that used the water to bounce off and began to experiment.”
He added: "It has been very successful and we sell the balls all over the world - Australia is our biggest market.
"It seems a bit odd that a Swede should invent this because it is best for a hot climate where people are in the sea and in swimming pools all the time."
The ball, which works well in the sea and in swimming pools but is not intended to be thrown at hard surfaces, is available from several online retailers.
A spokeswoman for Volumeload, which supplies the balls in the UK, said that it had already sold around 15,000 this year and it was having to order more stock to keep up with demand.
Actually it sounds totally bogus - a tropical paradise with amazing weather, great food, and dozens of gorgeous women paid to spend time with you. But, as it turns out, this is no dreamland and it's got quite a list of well-paying customers.
Located in the British Virgin Islands, the company claims to be totally legit because it doesn't have to abide by those strict puritanical American laws disallowing 'island getaway sex tourism'. But if you were never a big fan of those, then strap on your Viking helmet and head over to their slightly NSFW website to make a reservation.
On the FAQ page you'll find one inquisitive observer asking, 'Who is in charge of this whole thing?', to which Viking Resorts offers this oddly cryptic reply:
The Principals behind this business worked previously in the fields of Investment management for top Swiss Private Banking Institutions. Bank secrecy and confidentiality have always been our everyday work. It goes without saying that the same practices are applied here.
I guess I can see that, because under the VIP package information a blurry-faced figure seems to be getting his money's worth in hotties while remaining in complete anonymity:
(is he wearing Dockers?)
Viking offers 3 different packages depending on your spending desires. The "standard package" starts at only $3,900 and includes:
- The company of the companions for 4 days and
- Accommodation in a Standard guest room
- All meals and drinks served at the villa
- Complimentary massages
- Transportation to and from the local airport
- VIP reception at the airport upon arrival
- Welcome Cocktail Party
For those unfamiliar with 'escort lingo', apparently the included 'adult entertainment' and 'companions' are referring to beautiful women who will engage in sexual intercourse with you. All of this is included in your package price, so there's no 'haggling'. Which sounds good, right? Plus, the whole situation is said to be 'pressure free', so if you just wanna hang out and chat with your 3 tropical companions for a few days, that's fair game as well. I'm sure it's the stunning intellectual banter you're looking for.
Then there is the 'executive package' which comes with a few more amenities for the bumped up price of $4,900. And then we're on to the VIP package for $5,900. But wait till you check out the 'Ultimate Fantasy Package', which is the only way to do one of these things, right?
For the cost of $7,900 for 4 days and 3 nights, you'll get all this:
- Two girls for each night of your entire stay
- Pre-selection of your favorite girls for the first night of your stay and/or "first pick" of your favorite girl or girls at the Welcome Cocktail Party.
- The company of the companions for 4 days and 3 nights
- Accommodation in a VIP Suite
- All meals and drinks served at the villa
- Complimentary massages
- Transportation to and from the local airport
- VIP reception at the airport upon arrival
- Welcome Cocktail Party
- Lifetime membership to our 'members only' section of the website
This seems like a great offer, and for a price comparable to any other island vacation where you aren't guaranteed to get laid, how could you pass it up?
According to the site, the girls are comprised of mainly Eastern European and South American models who are beautiful, charming, and personable. They also have a humble persona but a generous nature. If you catch what they mean!
This thing could go either one of two ways. It could either be heaven on earth, the most fun, exciting, vacation you ever take. Or it could be depressing and filled with douchebags taking advantage of impoverished young women. Does the 'CAT69' URL help its case for anyone? Any takers?
Let us know your opinion in the comments section.
You know what's scarier than death? Birth.
For those of you about to have your first child, or who are considering it, you should know that there are some things about childbirth they're not telling you. Disgusting, horrifying things.
Our goal here isn't to talk you out of having kids (it'd suck to be the website that convinced mankind to go extinct). We just want you to be prepared so you don't run screaming from the hospital.
Webster's defines the placenta as: "the organ in most mammals, formed in the lining of the uterus by the union of the uterine mucous membrane with the membranes of the fetus, that provides for the nourishment of the fetus and the elimination of its waste products."
Urban Dictionary would describe it (if there was such and entry) as, "The lumpy, blood-soaked terror that comes out after the baby and will visit you in your nightmares for years to come."
This is a blobfish. A real placenta can be found here if you dare.
The upside of witnessing the birth of a placenta is that the image it burns into your soul will make you thankful for the six sex-free weeks you have ahead of you. The downside is that you will forever wonder if your baby had a previously unnoticed twin who could have went on to make you a fortune as the star of untold numbers of b-rated horror films.
Picture a vagina blowing a meat-bubble. Now imagine someone surgically attaching that meat-bubble to a newborn via a pulsating sausage casing.
Modern medicine is full of examples of "cures" that seem worse than the condition they are designed to treat (or in the case of episiotomies, prevent). For instance, the dreaded episiotomy. The word itself comes from the Greek "epison," which means "pubic region," and "-tomy" which, one can only assume, means "to cut the fuck out of."
In an episiotomy, a scalpel is used to create an incision that starts at the bottom of the vagina, and goes downward towards the rectum. As if this wasn't hard enough to watch without crying like the little girl that our high school gym teachers always knew we would turn out to be, the procedure is carried out at the same time the baby's head is forcing its way out.
This, but with scissors. And a vagina. And imagine a screaming baby coming out of the box.
Why would a highly trained, and over-paid professional do such a procedure? To keep the vagina from tearing, silly. To the layman (and by "layman" we mean weeping, trembling onlooker), this seems like breaking your own windows with bricks to keep the neighborhood kids from breaking them with baseballs.
So why do they do it? Remember that time Barney the dinosaur locked his keys in his car and tried to get in by climbing in thru the exhaust pipe? Well childbirth can be just like that. But in reverse. And with blood. And instead of an exhaust pipe, it's a vagina.
Yeah, just like that.
You might be tempted to think all the time you have spent watching clips of poo-porn on the internet would prepare you for this, but you would be wrong. We'll spare most of the smelly details since Cracked is a family site (as long as your family consists of alcoholic pop-culture junkies) but be assured that after the birth experience your view of poop will never be the same.
First off, the mom-to-be is going to take a big fat dump on the hospital bed. Yes, Hollywood tends to leave that part out.
Apparently, passing an 8-pound canned ham through your hoo-ha compresses the intestine and has a tendency to push any fecal material inside of it out of the body. Also, there will probably be no fewer than 10 people in the room watching it happen. Oddly, mom may not even know it has happened, and those who witnessed it will probably be too polite (or horrified) to say anything.
Secondly, the baby is gonna poo too. That isn't news. In fact, "baby-shit yellow" is a color available on the new Chevy Camaro. Oddly, that same color is not an option available for the baby's first duke. For the first few days the baby's bowel movements will be black, and have the consistency of fresh roofing tar. Also, it will be about as easy to clean as fresh roofing tar. They may also taste like fresh roofing tar, but who wants to eat fresh roofing tar just to make that comparison?
To put it in perspective: Have you ever spent a night drinking cheap beer, only to wake up with a headache, and a serious case of black diarrhea? It's a lot like that. Which begs the question, "How did the baby get Budweiser in the womb?" The answer of course is: Through the umbilical cord. Duh!
By "alien," we're not talking about the guys you picked up at The Home Depot to help deliver the baby. We mean the "Sigourney- Weaver-fighting" kind (whose birth scene prepares you for the gore, if not the pooping).
As it turns out, babies' heads are soft, and don't become hard until months or years after they're born. This explains why you don't usually see them at college parties, crushing beer cans with their foreheads. Well, this and the fact that they weren't invited since they cry all the time, and puke all over the place before the drinking even begins.
Either way, having a soft skull comes in handy when you're trying to be born without killing your mother in the process. Unfortunately, their heads don't instantly regain their shape once they pop out. It takes a day or two of looking like a butt plug before you can take your little-one hat shopping.
If the doctor feels that your baby is at risk of anything (juvenile diabetes, low birth-weight, high birth-weight, medium birth-weight), or if he just feels that he can charge you more, he may elect to hook up a fetal monitor. That doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, that is because "fetal monitor" is just a nice way of saying "a twisted metal thingy with wires coming out of it that we're going to screw right into your baby's freaking unborn head."
Now, the fetal monitor itself isn't all that scary looking. But the fact that they jam this thing into the babies soft spot while it is still in the womb, and they stick it in there far enough that it stays inside the skull until after the baby is born, will bring back vivid memories of that baby getting hooked up to the Matrix in the first movie.
"OK, now, nurse, hand me my power drill, please."
Couple that with the fact that a baby's heart slows way down during every contraction, which sets off a little alarm on the monitor similar to the one that goes off when a patient flatlines on Scrubs, and you may find that you have shit your pants before the whole thing is over. Don't feel bad though. Like we said, there is a lot of pooping going on at this point, so if you do let one slide, just motion towards the mother when she isn't looking, and plug your nose as if to say, "Yeah, I smell it too. It was her."
Births are really expensive. Even a complication-free birth is likely to cost upwards of $10,000 and if your baby comes out and so much as sneezes in the delivery room, this number is likely to start rolling up like a pinball score. Sure, maybe you're one of those fancy-pants families with this New Age "health insurance." But tack on the cost of the car seats, baby clothes, toys, diapers, bottles, play pens and aforementioned placenta memory-erasing Belgian ale, and you can plan on having spent more than your burger-flipping ass makes in a year before you even leave the hospital.
"Is it really worth it?"
So basically it's you letting another man touch your wife's private parts, then writing him a check. Then you watch him speed away in a Lexus on his way to a round of golf being played at some country club that you are now too poor to even clean the toilets of, let alone get a tee-time at. OK, we're probably taking it too far. We're sure they'd let you clean their toilets.