Entry 651: Bodyless Head in Italian O.R.

Well it’s time once again to check in with our old pal, Dr. Sergio Canavero or, as I like to call him, “The Lunatic Italian Head Transplant Guy.”

I first introduced you to Dr. Canavero in July of 2013 in a post entitled “A Head of the Game.” That’s when he made news by suggesting that a human head transplant was theoretically possible.

To show you why you should read this blog religiously, that post included this very prescient sentence:

“If there’s anything scarier than the prospect of people like Donald Trump and Dick Cheney living forever, it’s the prospect of them living forever with their heads on the bodies of 20 year olds.”

Remember, that was before Trump even knew he was going to run for President, much less actually be President. The fact that he now is demonstrates that there are millions of Americans in dire need of Dr. Canavero’s procedure.

We next caught up with Dr. Canavero in September, 2015 in a post named “Heads or Tales?” He had now invented the one item he believed would be necessary to perform such a head transplant.

Glue.

Really.

It was called polyethylene glycol, but Dr. Canavero referred to it with the highly technical term ”my magic ingredient.” He had also teamed up with a Chinese crazy person named Dr. Xiaoping Ren, who had successfully transplanted mice heads, hopefully onto other mice. He even had a patient in mind, a Russian named Valery Spiridonov, a computer scientist who suffered from Werndig-Hoffman disease, a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy. At the time, the two doctors said they planned to perform the operation in 2017, just as soon as they developed some additional technology that would be needed, and Dr. Ren practiced on a primate or two.

Other scientists were not exactly on board with this. One, Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, called Dr Canavero, and I quote, “nuts.”

But Dr. Canavero (pictured above giving one of his patients a haircut) was undeterred. And now he’s back in the news with his announcement that he intends to operate later this year, just as promised in 2015. In the interim, Dr. Ren has transplanted a monkey head, although the monkey was kept alive for only 20 hours after the surgery “for ethical reasons.” I’m thinking those reasons may have included the monkey saying, upon awakening, “Pardon me, but do you happen to know where the mole on my nose has gotten to?”

Of course, the doctors can’t do anything until they come across a “brain dead, but physically healthy transplant donor,” which pretty much describes everybody involved in this story except Mr. Spiridonov, not to mention many of the people referred to in the second sentence of the fifth paragraph of this post.

Dr. Canavero says the whole procedure will take approximately “36 hours and 150 trained medical professionals.” This is as opposed to untrained medical professionals like, I suppose, actors from Grey’s Anatomy. It will also take about 15 million dollars and a hell of a health insurance policy.

Mr. Spirinodov and Dr. Canavero are working on raising funds for the operation. I think a Kickstarter campaign would be a good idea, possibly with rewards for investors that include pieces of Mr. Sprinodov’s former body (“Pledge $500 or more and get a kneecap. Only two available”).

Of course, Arthur Caplan of New York University is back to chime in. He speculates that “the different pathways and chemistry on the donor body will overwhelm the patient’s head, thus producing chemically-induced insanity.” So once again, Dr. Caplan is calling somebody “nuts.” And the “somebody” hasn’t even been created yet!

If I may be serious for a moment, I was of the opinion that it wouldn’t be hurting anybody for Dr. Canavero to try this. Well, Mr. Spirinodov might feel a little something, but he’s a willing volunteer. But then an article pointed out that “for the head transplant, you will need the whole donor’s body, one that is full of transplantable organs…What if these organs were distributed to 10 different patients needing different transplants?”

I’ll admit, I didn’t consider that. But, still, don’t you think Canavero should be allowed to try this just once, if only for the movie rights?

See you soon.

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Entry 650: The Post Post

This is officially Entry 650 of this blog, so what better time to revisit some old posts that have had recent follow-up stories in the news…in other words, events that happened post post. (In some cases, the original stories were in the New York Post, which means…well, never mind.)

Guarantee: In all cases, the original stories and the follow-ups are true.

Original: Entry 102 (3/6/12): Mysterious Calendar Page Found in Stamford Home
This was back when this blog was about old-ish people moving into their first real house. The people were my wife and me, the house was ours, and the calendar page, from January, 1955 (4 years before the house was built) was affixed to our interior garage door.

Follow-up: 17th-century Shopping List Discovered in Attic
In my 2012 post, I lamented about not finding anything interesting left behind by previous owners. Like the 400-year-old parchment found in a UK attic.  It read as follows:

Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest. Your loving friend Robert Draper

Granted, in the 1600s, Southern Connecticut was probably not home to people whose shopping lists sounded like they were written by Geoffrey Chaucer, but you have to wonder, don’t you, how the British Empire continued for a few centuries more while citizens were eating “greenfish.*”

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Original: Entry 206 (2/20/13): Weird Registries
This post reported on a honeymoon registry through which couples could crowd-fund various aspects of their trip; and a car registry, through which, if you didn’t want to buy your kid a whole car, you could just pledge to pay for, say, the steering wheel.

Follow-up #1: Dominos Offers Wedding Registry
That’s Dominos as in pizza. A spokesperson for the company said it’s “for couples who prefer delicious melty cheese to crystal gravy boats.” Okay, first, as I’ve asked before in this blog, what is it with fast food chains and the term “melty cheese?” When companies add a “y” to a word, it usually means something that looks or tastes like the real thing, but isn’t, as in “chocolatey.” So is melty cheese not really cheese, or not really melted? Second, I can understand why cheapskate Uncle Leo would buy a pizza as a wedding gift, but what young couple would register for one? Don’t want a gravy boat? Fine. At least register at Olive Garden.

Follow-up #2: Zoo Sets Up Registry for Pregnant Orangutan
A Texas zoo registered its expecting couple, Mel and KJ, at Target. Among the items on the list were: a Dolly Parton CD, a “Zootopia” DVD, various air fresheners, a “Princess Bride” DVD, various types of paint and chalk, a $15 iTunes gift card, “Finding Dory” blankets, a food processor, a bath towel, an iPod, bubble machines and wands, a framed mirror, a blender, and Juicy Couture body spray. I have three things to say about this: 1) These animals are consuming way too much media; 2) If they’re getting an iPod, why do they want Dolly Parton on CD?; and 3) Aren’t the air fresheners and body spray really for the zookeepers?
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Original: Entry 272 (9/25/13): Woman Refuses to Surgically Remove Diamond Earring from Chicken.
The British woman, Claire Lennon, was willing to wait 8-10 years for the chicken, which had ripped the earring from her ear and swallowed it, to die of natural causes.

Follow-up: Woman Finds a Diamond in Her Boiled Egg
From my point of view, this is almost too good to be true. A woman named Sally Thompson bit into an egg and almost broke her tooth on a small diamond. And, yes, Sally also lives in England. “I couldn’t understand where it came from,” Sally said. I guess Sally should read Entry 272 of this blog. And I also guess Claire should keep better track of her chickens.
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Original: Entry 464 (6/19/15): The Search for a $10 Woman
This was when the U.S. Treasury was soliciting the public’s help in selecting a woman to appear on the $10 bill. I conjectured that, although the Treasury wasn’t explicitly saying it, it wanted to go with a black woman so it could kill two birds with one stone. I hope they ultimately ignored the public, considering how the Presidential election turned out.  The public should obviously not be allowed to make important decisions.

Follow-up: Lady Liberty to Be Portrayed as a Woman of Color on U.S. Currency
They ended up with Harriet Tubman, and they’re going to put her on the 20 instead of the 10, and she’ll have to share it with Andrew Jackson, who owned about 150 slaves, so the Treasury obviously put a lot of thought into that juxtaposition. Meanwhile, the U.S. Mint has created a Gold Coin depicting Lady Liberty as a black woman. They say it’s U.S. currency, but it’s really more akin to a Franklin Mint collector’s coin, because it’s not like you’re going to go into McDonald’s for a Big Mac and ask for change from your gold coin. This coin was announced like it was big news–the first time ever Lady Liberty has been portrayed as a woman of color. I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ve flown past Lady Liberty many times, and she’s always been a woman of color. Green.

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Original: Entry 612 (12/9/16): Mall of America Welcomes its First Black Santa
He was discovered at a Santa convention, where he was the only Santa of color.

Follow-up: New Picture Book to Show Santa Claus in a Same-sex, Interracial Relationship
So I guess Santa had two beards all these years.  But he’s come out of the closet and now Mrs. Claus is out in the cold.  This book, which was co-written by Stephen Colbert, will be released in the fall, and will almost certainly be banned in many states, which is a shame, because, since it’s a picture book, the folks in those states would have been able to read it.

In my next post, I’ll be following up on a story from 2013 and 2015 that is finally scheduled to come to fruition this year.

See you soon.

*I looked it up, and, evidently, “greenfish” was a 17th century term for unsalted cod.  That’s opposed to red fish and blue fish, of which subsequent shopping lists included, respectively, one and two.

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Entry 649: They Haven’t Got a Prayer

Well, with Good Friday and Easter upon us, and Passover well under way, it’s only natural that I do a post about atheism.

Atheists in America have been flying pretty high since the presidential election, when their main theory seemed to be confirmed.

But lately, there’s also been some bad news for the Godless set. For instance, atheists may soon become extinct.

This, according to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science (in the same issue as the cover story “Kim Kardashian, and How We Got Here”*), in which researchers give two reasons for the coming shortage of nonbelievers. (Continued below cover shot)

Obviously, one reason is that religious folks have more babies because they screw around more. This is because places of worship are excellent places to meet eligible singles, and folks are always hooking up after Sunday mass and Friday night Sabbath services.

Wait! I’ve just been informed that the previous paragraph is only half right. The faithful do have more children, but not necessarily because they screw around more (although everyone knows they do). Of course, they have more babies because they’re less inclined to use contraceptives. And also because atheists don’t know what to say during sex since they can’t scream “Oh god, oh god, oh god!”

As subscribers to Evolutionary Psychological Science can tell you, a lower birth rate ultimately leads to extinction, although perhaps not as quickly as a catastrophic asteroid impact. But the interesting thing about this study is that birth control isn’t the only reason atheists have fewer kids. The other is that atheists may be missing Vesicular Monoamine Transporter 2, the highly touted sequel to Vesicular Monoamine Transporter. This is the “God-gene” that supposedly makes humans predisposed toward believing in the supernatural. That may be advantageous from an evolutionary point of view, possibly because early hominid women actually believed early hominid men when the men told them they should have sex because the gods were coming to end the world in a few days.

Anyway, I think you’ll agree that becoming extinct is pretty bad news for any group, but especially those who have no one to ask for help. But there’s even worse news for atheists:

Americans hate them.

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, the only group of people Americans hate more than atheists are Muslims, possibly because our President isn’t always ranting about radical extremist atheists.

The survey asked people to rate a variety of groups on a 1-100 “feeling thermometer” (with 0 as the coldest and 100 as the warmest). Pew has created the helpful graphic at right to show us how various groups rate in the eyes of the American public. I’d like to point out three things about this:

  1. Note that one of the choices was not telemarketers. Otherwise atheists and Muslims might have been ranked even lower.
  2. No group was ranked over 67, which essentially means Americans don’t feel all that warmly toward anybody.
  3. Jews won!

Yes, that’s right: We actually are the chosen ones! You love us, America. You really love us.

(Of course, there exists the possibility that Pew conducted its survey outside of synagogues. And, yes, if that was the case, 67 degrees would be just about right.)

But getting back to atheists, there are slightly positive sides to these two stories. Regarding the whole ceasing to exist thing, the low birth rate among atheists may end up being balanced out because Americans as a whole are becoming less religious. So while atheists may not be having babies, perhaps they can count on millennials to carry on their traditions…especially now that atheism has taken steps to overcome one of its biggest shortcomings: a lack of jewelry.

And regarding the Pew Survey, although Americans don’t much care for Muslims and atheists, they like both groups a little more than they did three years ago.

So, congratulations on that and, I really can’t emphasize this enough: The Jews won!

See you soon.

*The study and the journal are real.  The cover, not so much.

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Entry 648: That Piñata Sure Took a Beating

Recently there was a flurry of activity in our kitchen. Our daughter, Casey, had come home to us, not because she missed her parents, but because she needed our massive kitchen island which, due perhaps to some overzealousness on our part when we remodeled the kitchen, is the size of some actual islands.

This happens every year, usually around Easter, but it has nothing to do with resurrections or bunnies. It’s just that Casey’s young cousin has a birthday around then, and Casey is always in charge of decorations, games and, most important of all, baked goods.

The cousin picks the theme and Casey goes to work. In the past, our kitchen has been home to Sesame Street cookies and Frozen cakes. This year, the cousin was turning six, and the theme was something called Shopkins. I had no idea what these were, but they sounded horrifying. I looked it up online and, as near as I can tell, it’s kids’ programming intended to teach two important lessons: 1) Anything can have a face and, 2) There is a lot of Shopkins-branded stuff you can ask your parents for.

So Casey had baked a huge, multiple-layered cake with a smiling face on it, and now our kitchen counter was covered with cookies decorated to look like shopping bags, teapots and penises. The last was because Casey was simultaneously baking for a bachelorette party.

She was being extra careful not to mix up the two occasions.

As I attempted to unearth a small piece of island real estate on which to eat my lunch, I asked Casey, “So how many kids are coming to this bash?”

“Between 25 and 45,” she replied.

“That seems like a very wide range,” I said. “Who invites that many kids to a 6-year-old’s birthday party?”

My wife Barbara came in just then. “They have to invite the whole class now,” she said. “And the whole Hebrew school class.”

I nodded, remembering that I had heard something about this latest of society’s overreactions. The previous generation had been all about self-esteem, so we had kids’ sports leagues where everybody was a winner and got trophies for “trying really hard.” That somehow resulted in millennials who don’t know where to put a stamp on an envelope without asking their parents.

Now society is worried about bullying and shaming, so, basically, kids aren’t allowed to have friends anymore. That’s because if Madison is friends with Brooklyn, Emma will feel slighted and get a lot of body piercings. Or something like that. So instead of having friends, kids have networks consisting of every child they come into contact with, and if you invite one of them somewhere, you have to invite all of them.

Which is why Casey’s cousin’s parents had to rent out a room at a local recreation center to have the party. And why they didn’t know how many of the 45 kids they’d had to invite were coming. After all, if your child gets invited to the parties of every kid he or she knows, you’re bound to be a little behind on your RSVPing.

While the intention of this “invite everybody” rule might be inclusion regardless of race, religion, body type or social status, as usually happens when organizations try to impose social rules, there are unintended consequences. Now, instead of Sophia feeling bad because Isabella invited Mia to her party and not Sophia, Isabella feels horrible because, even though Mia and Charlotte are her only good friends, she was forced to invite all the kids in her first grade class and her entire soccer team, but all the kids in her first grade class and her soccer team weren’t forced to come, so only Mia, Charlotte and Sophia did, because very few kids actually like Isabella.

Did you follow that?

When Casey was growing up, we’d have a few of her friends over, and I’d design an elaborate treasure hunt and we’d hit her in the face with a pie (long story). Nowadays, parents have to read up on all the rules before even beginning to think about the festivities. Google “birthday party etiquette,” and you’ll get over 1,100,000 hits, most pertaining to kids.

So many rules. But the “invite everyone” law is the worst.

Not only are these party Nazis dictating who you have to invite to your kid’s party, they’re also indirectly dictating what kind of party you can have. Because, whereas you might be able to spring for $200 to, say, take 10 kids to Chuckie Cheese, you’re not about to blow over $500 to take 30 kids, most of whom your kid doesn’t even like, and one of whom actually once beat your kid up.

On the other hand, you’ll be damned if you’re going to have 30 six-year-olds running around your house.  And don’t forget to account for all of the 30 kids’ food allergies, and, by all means, make sure you have enough liability insurance in case little Beau injures himself while trying to ride your poodle.

On the third hand, renting a recreation center for the day isn’t cheap, and most people don’t have a party planner/baker like Casey in the family.

The bottom line is that many families could end up not being able to afford to throw their kids a birthday party at all, unless they do it on the sly and swear participants to secrecy as if attending a meeting of some underground cult. A non-disclosure agreement is highly recommended.

I’m not sure why all this has made me so angry, since it doesn’t affect me in the slightest, other than to overrun my kitchen for a day. It just pisses me off when parents and schools try to social engineer their kids’ lives.

And it’s disconcerting to see Shopkins and penises simultaneously cavorting on your kitchen counter.

See you soon.

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Entry 647: We’re All Alike Under Our Superhero Costumes

Recently I wrote about Conflict Kitchen, a Pittsburgh restaurant* that is trying to promote understanding between nations by introducing Americans to the cuisine of the countries that hate us. While its goal is admirable, I was thinking that there must be a way to accomplish it that doesn’t rely so heavily on chick peas or, you know, going to Pittsburgh.

The real problem, at least when it comes to our disagreements with countries in the Middle East, is that the people here think we’re so different from the people there, and vice versa. We say, “Oh, we would never make women cover their faces,” and they say, “Oh, we would never live in such poverty that we have to wear ripped pants.” We say, “They are ruled by evil men with fundamentalist beliefs,” and they say, “Hahaha, he is such an idiot, and he’d look more normal if he had a keffiyeh covering that hair.”

However, I’m here today to tell you that the people of that region and ourselves are more alike than you may think, as demonstrated by the following real news stories:

Saudi Arabia Holds First Comicon–Yes, there are socially inept people in Arab nations, too. This three-day event was part of a government initiative to bring more entertainment to Saudi Arabia, which is nice, although a better starting point might have been to lift the ban on movie theaters. Still, it was amazing for young Saudi nerds to be able to mingle with their favorite superheroes and aliens, not to mention members of the opposite sex. Women could even take off their traditional abayas and show off their costumes…in a separate women-only tent. It should be noted that the event was held in the city of Jeddah, where the dress code is far more relaxed than in the capital of Riyadh. Nevertheless, some women, like the attendee at right, felt it necessary to honor the tradition of covering their faces.

United Arab Emirates Starts Space Program–In 1962, John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” In a statement reminiscent of that inspiring declaration, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed declared that they choose to go to Mars not because it is easy, but because they have all this money they don’t know what to do with. To demonstrate how modern and Western his country is, the Sheikh made this announcement as modern Western leaders are wont to do: via Twitter. The tweet included an artist’s rendering of what an outpost on Mars might look like when they have the technology to move the entire city of Dubai to the Red Planet. The Sheikh has set the year 2117 as the goal for colonization, thus ensuring that, like JFK, he would not be around to see his goal reached. Still, he might want to hurry things along a little; if America gets to Mars first, we might ban Muslims.

Iran Issues Travel Ban for U.S. Citizens–Speaking of travel bans, in the wake of President Trump’s original executive order, Iran banned U.S. citizens from entering its country. Unlike Trump’s travel ban, Iran’s ban inconvenienced virtually no one, since American tourists had already been discouraged from visiting Iran in an August 22, 2016 State Department travel warning, the first sentence of which (I swear) was “This replaces the Travel Warning for Iran dated March 14, 2016.” The warning alerts travelers of the “risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans.”

Fortunately, those same people are welcome here in the good ol’ U.S.A. Well, maybe “welcome” is too strong a word, but they’re not banned. Yet.

First Marathon to Be Held in Tehran–Iran is willing to lift its ban long enough to invite runners from all over the world, including the U.S., to participate in the first ever marathon in Tehran, to be held tomorrow. The event has provided organizers with the opportunity to display the long-underestimated Iranian sense of humor, with hysterical taglines such as “I Run Iran” and “Tehrun.” Even women will be allowed to run as they would in any other country, assuming their usual running attire is:

“…a headscarf or sports bandana (so that your hair will be covered). A T-shirt with long sleeves and a running pants can be a good choice. Please keep in mind that the length of the T-shirt can not be too short ( T-shirt must cover your hips). You may not wear shorts or skirts showing bare legs.”

Don’t worry, ladies, the temperature is only supposed to be in the 70s.

Saudi Arabia Holds Beauty Pageant–Back to Saudi Arabia now,  where we can learn that Arabs, too, like to look at perfect bodies. I know what you’re thinking: How can you have a beauty contest when women can’t, um, show off their assets. Well, that goes to show what you know. It so happens that this pageant featured total nudity!  Of course, this particular event was for camels–the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival.  Even though it’s billed as a beauty contest for camels, it seems like it’s more akin to the Westminster Dog Show. And with a first prize of $31 million, I’ll bet some people would graft a hump onto their Havanese to compete in this show.

Kuwait Cancels Showings of Beauty and the Beast–The company that runs most of the movie theaters in Kuwait announced, “We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information’s censorship department.” Evidently, the government is less than thrilled about the three-second “gay moment” in the live action film, although the inherent bestiality is just fine. With this cancellation, Kuwait has joined other backward, intolerant places around the world in banning the film, like Malaysia and Alabama.

I hope, now that you have been made aware of the similarities of our lands, we can finally enjoy world peace. Glad to help.

See you soon.

*I wrote about Conflict Kitchen under the guise of a fake Food Network show called Restaurants That Haven’t Closed Yet.  Since my post last month, Conflict Kitchen has closed.

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Entry 646: Henny Youngman Tribute Post

Last month marked the 111th anniversary of Henny Youngman’s birth. He died when he was 91. (“The Doctor says ‘You’ll live to be 91!’ ‘I am 91!’ ‘See, what did I tell you?’”)

In case you’re too young to have heard of him, Henny Youngman was a stand-up comic. He was known as “the king of the one-liners.” He would stand on stage, looking uncomfortable, holding a violin for no apparent reason, and rattle them off, one after another. (“The patient says, ‘Doctor, it hurts when I do this.’ ‘Then don’t do that!’”)

He was a man out of time, performing the same act, often with the same jokes, long after his type of comedy had been overrun with “story-tellers.” The new guys were funnier perhaps, but you couldn’t tell their jokes to your friends the next day. (“The psychiatrist says, ‘You’re crazy.’ The man says, ‘I want a second opinion!’ ‘Okay, you’re ugly, too!’”)

Anyway, in tribute to this great man, I’ve come up with some one-liners of my own. But in keeping with this blog’s usual order of business, I’ve based them all on actual news stories. So below are summaries of the stories followed by the punchlines.
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Airline Sacrifices Goat on the Tarmac Before Flight Takes Off. To ward off ‘evil eye’, Pakistan International Airlines reportedly sacrificed a black goat on the tarmac before the plane took off.

The Punchline: A white goat passed through security without a problem.
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Live Cockroach Removed from Woman’s Skull in India. It came out through her nose.

The Punchline: Surgery was performed simply by turning on the lights.
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Dolphins Seen Getting High on Puffer Fish. Footage shows dolphins passing a puffer fish to one another with their fins. The puffer fish release a toxin which produces a narcotic effect that the dolphins can deliberately manipulate for recreational drug use.

The Punchline: They’re smart, all right, but they still haven’t figured out how to get a pizza delivered.
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Inventor of the Big Mac Dies. Michael Delligatti, one of the first McDonald’s franchisees, invented the Big Mac in 1967. He died at the age of 98.

The Punchline: He actually died months ago, but his body was kept warm under a heat lamp.
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French Woman Wants to Marry Her Robot. She designed and 3D-printed the robot herself, and is now asking the French government to make such unions legal.

The Punchline: In a pre-emptive move, 3D printers have been banned in North Carolina.

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School in Australia Bans Clapping at Assemblies. It did so to protect faculty and students who are “sensitive to noise,” and suggests (and I swear this is true): “Instead of clapping, the students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot.”

The Punchline: Five students were hospitalized after other students’ air punches went off target and smacked them in their excited faces.
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Study Says Dinosaurs May Not Have Roared. According to the August print edition of the journal Evolution, dinosaurs may have actually mumbled or cooed like gentle pigeons.

The Punchline: If they didn’t mumble, they might have understood the warning about the asteroid.
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Animals Kept In Deep Freeze For 30 Years Brought Back To Life. The 1mm long tardigrades were collected from a frozen moss sample in Antarctica in 1983.

The Punchline: Upon being revived, one of the tardigrades was heard to say, “Donald Trump? Really?”

Now that I think about it, mine sound more like SNL’s Weekend Update than Henny Youngman.  But thanks for the laughs, Henny. I’m sure you’re in heaven now where, if God sneezes, you won’t know what to say to him.

See you soon.

P.S. If you want to see Henny in action, click here.

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Entry 645: The Latest Thing in Electronic Banking: Money

Well, I just got a promotional flyer in the mail from Chase Bank that is just unbelievable. But it seems like they send me something like this every few years.

I remember when I received their mailer informing me that I no longer needed deposit slips at the ATM. That was unbelievable. I could just toss money, checks, whatever–maybe even winning lottery tickets–into the machine and it would print out a receipt–with pictures, even! Amazing!

Then, a few years after that, they sent me a flyer about something that was even more unbelievable. It said that I didn’t even need to go to the bank to make deposits anymore. I could just use my phone to take a picture of a check, and they would deposit it for me! I didn’t even have to bring the actual check in later–they would trust me that I wouldn’t try to deposit the check again at another bank. Incredible!

But I just received a notice from Chase that tops everything they’ve ever done.  It announces two major advances that are virtually inconceivable.

First, evidently you can now deposit cash using your cell phone! You merely have to take a photograph of the bill and send it. Admittedly, it’s a little inconvenient because you have to photograph each bill individually, so you probably wouldn’t do it with $200 in fives. But if you have just mugged a tourist and you have a couple of hundreds you want to deposit right away? Sure! Keep in mind, though, that you then have to destroy the bills to take them out of circulation. I guess they track the serial numbers on the bills in the pictures so you can’t reuse the money. But, hey, you can cut the bills up outside your house so the neighbors think you’re rich!

But cash deposits by phone isn’t even the MOST unbelievable thing! This is: you no longer have to go to the bank to get cash. Instead, you can just visit the Chase website, log onto your account, enter the amount you want to withdraw, and–I can’t believe I’m actually saying this–print the money out on your printer, just like you can print postage at Stamps.com!

Now, to be fair, it only works on certain Bluetooth mobile printers and a few HP color LaserJets (the website has a list), and you first need to download special software that can handle all the anti-counterfeiting things that are built into money these days, and you can only withdraw $100 at a time, but still…isn’t that the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard of?

Now you never have to leave your house at all, except to spend the cash you print out, unless you just use it to tip the pizza delivery guy.

What will they think of next?

See you soon.

P.S. Around 1987, before most people had even heard of the Internet, there was an online service called Prodigy. (This was even before America Online–AOL.) My ad agency had the Prodigy account, and one of the things you could do with it was manage your banking…if you didn’t mind waiting about an hour for each page to load over a 1200 baud dial-up modem. When I was writing the copy for this feature, I jokingly added that you could make withdrawals and print the cash out at home. And most of the folks at the agency believed it, because in those days, nobody knew what you’d be able to do online!  So…30 years later, did you believe this post, even for a second? Happy April Fools Day.

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