June 28, 2009

The dry, the bitter, the characterless

I envisage John Weymouth, of Ringwood East, as a dried-up bitter Gen-Xer. He harbors an exalted pride in what he probably believes to be his down to earth, forthright manner, qualities he also probably believes point to his under-valued and rarely acknowledge cleverness.

The Age, scraping the barrel's bottom to stir the pot, published Mr Weymouth's letter to the editor in today's paper, under the heading Keeping things in perspective.

Mr Weymouth didn't think much of Michael Jackson. Which is fine. Child prodigies aren't everyone's glass of bubbly. And as far as eccentric, androgynous, gyrating singers go, I'm sure there are many whose choice of black pop god would be Prince, not that the letter writer had any interest in such matters.

This is what John Weymouth had to say:

"Before the adulation of the life of Michael Jackson gets out of hand, it needs to be asked, in what way did he actually leave the world a better place? How does what he did stack up against the contributions of the many brilliant medical researchers and scientists, and of the many outstanding engineers responsible for our safe water supplies and sewage treatment and safe and efficient transport?

To help get things into perspective, who can name one metallurgist or materials engineer who has made possible the modern durable, efficient and safe motor car, aeroplane, and even the implements used in surgery? These are only a few of the incredibly talented people in the world whose contributions to us are valuable beyond measure and yet go largely unrecognised.

Why are entertainers and sports stars more valued? Why are these people made incredibly rich when so few contribute anything of real lasting value? How is it that so many people today rely on the exploits of these so-called stars for their own sense of worth and wellbeing? How much better the world would be if people got on with their own real-life relationships, and became doers instead of sycophants.

Michael Jackson was obviously successful as an entertainer, but his life was far from exemplary and his music largely repetitious nonsense. Remember who paid for the extravagant productions and effects, and stop being conned. Live your own lives."

Sure, but not the soulless , dried up, brittle, joyless life, such as implied by Mr Weymouth, who, I further imagine, considers that Caravaggio was a nasty little sod whose modern canvases were a nonesense and should never have been hoarded by the ignorant swine of ye old.

Do you remember the time ...

We all remember the time when Micheal Jackson permanently changed the aural and visual dynamics of the music industry, a time when a young, attractive black man didn't simply sing and dance a little, he performed, in the true meaning, and he did so with an aggressive, perfected grace that was breathtaking.

We do remember.

And for a few minutes we're transported out of the mundane, mesmerized, lifted, emboldened, inspired.

That is art. That is life.

Can't say the same for sewage treatments or a train running on time. Nope. Can't. Won't.

Job criterion

One of the criterion for an "appointment setter" for a "fashion house":

"A clear and persuasive phone manner that commands respect"


Can't think of any person I've met in my entire life whose phone manner "commands respect".

Yet another job advertisement supporting the globally enjoyed - yet devilishly difficult - sport of pissing in the wind while wanking.

An experiement bound to fail

Dipping all their limbs and torso in the water of an unknown future, one US newspaper has taken behavioral economics to heart:
"The Daily News will now charge $145 annually to a newspaper subscriber, $245 if a subscriber wants the paper and access to the paper’s web site—and, here’s the key figure, $345 if the subscriber only wants the web site. Yes, you’re reading correctly; this means someone has to pay an extra $100 not to get the newspaper."
Perhaps years ago this would have worked a treat. Back in the day, when the Internet was a novelty and Google was a secret shared only by those 'in the know'. Back when web sites were rudimentary, unsophisticated. Back then, people would have paid to get their news online.

Now, not so much.

There's no compulsion for any of us to pay for breaking news from a particular source, local or multinational, when that same news can be had for free from half a million other sites.

News is no longer exclusive. It might not be deep or investigative, but it's ubiquitous ... and free.

Rupert Murdoch and others are becoming more vocal in their attempts to soften up the public to accepting paying for online news within the next five years or so. A futile endeavor.

The future is already here and traditional behavioral economics won't save them.

News is everywhere. All it takes is two minutes setting up a Twitter account and someone investing one minute to type no more than 140 characters. News is now one of the cheapest commodities in the world. A gross distortion of its true value, for sure, but there it is.

Can behavioral economics save newspapers?

June 27, 2009


1958 - 2009
rest in peace

The complex beggar

Begging is illegal in our fine little city, but members of our community don't take that little hiccup seriously, so a begging they go, often like you and me going off to a normal day job.

I used to encounter one chap, around thirty years old, give or take, a regular outside my office building and surrounds, and, by coinky-dink, a regular around my very own suburb.

Once, within a matter of days, I overheard him explaining to strangers - numerous times in the city street, and then in a very well known street near my home - that he only needed another 10 dollars so that he would have the 25 dollars needed for one night of emergency accommodation.

It's very possible that he wasn't making it up, and that by remarkable chance every time I walked past this man, no matter in the city or in my suburb, he just happened to have whittled down the gap for his 'emergency accommodation' by the exact same amount. Day after day. Every time I walked past. Weekday or weekend. City or suburb. Fυςќing amazing coincidence.

At least there was simplicity to his story. A straight narrative: "I need "x" so that I can pay for "y". I have already achieved "a"of my goal and now I want you to contribute"b" to see me succeed." Good solid stuff. Although, in truth, he did sometimes labor this simple riff, making it something of burden to the listener.

Personally, when a beggar begs, I'm not after bells and whistles.

A complex back-story has lost me long before "oh whoa, don't you feel so much pity for me and my staggeringly bad bad-luck story that you want to empty out your bank account?". Frankly, no.

Take last week, in a busy city street, on the way home from work:

Breathless beggar woman pounces, gushes out her story in a 12 and a half second rush. Okay, points for not wasting my time, that's good, but oh, what a story. "I had an epileptic fit on the train station and was robbed, now I need money to get home."

It could have happened. Sure.

But, she needed to put more thought into her narrative. Firstly too elaborate. Secondly, if she was already on the station concourse, as she claimed, where she allegedly had an epileptic fit and was allegedly robbed, it means she already had a train ticket and would not have been able to retreat to the street to beg. Well, at least not without first being fined for not having a ticket, and, therefore, not being able to get past the barriers to get to the street.

Walking into the McDonald a few minutes after her speedy story had been told and dismissed, there she was, suddenly totting a laden tote bag, purchasing two large drinks at a cost of just under $8 - enough for a couple of train tickets. Possibly not the smartest move if she likes to work the workers at the top end of town.

Clearly it was the end of her working day too and time to catch a train home with the rest of us.

June 26, 2009

June 24, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

A" people hire "A" people. "B" people hire "C" people.

Steve Jobs

June 21, 2009

So it went

"The story of today’s deficits starts in January 2001, as President Bill Clinton was leaving office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated then that the government would run an average annual surplus of more than $800 billion a year from 2009 to 2012. Today, the government is expected to run a $1.2 trillion annual deficit in those years.

You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush’s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.

The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It’s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists’ assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.

About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.

Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.

About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas."

The pain of the US deficit will continue to sting us all for at least the next decade, on top of the prick of our own deficits.

God bless America, by all means, but by god they've botched their economy all the way to hell in a hand basket.

America's sea of red ink was years in the making

Pete's new job?

Days after announcing that he would not contest the next election, Peter Costello has possibly found himself a new job - offered by the Rudd government.

Gracious, much?

I imagine any sting felt from John Howard's narky, spiteful message last week will be liberally salved by Kev's mate-like offer, assuming it transpires into something concrete, which seems credibly likely.

A good pick too. Who better to run the Future Fund than the man who conceived and implemented the idea?

Meanwhile, Howard, even in retirement, continues to illustrate the truth that, as in the criminal world, so in politics, there are no friends, only associates.

Labor offers Costello job

June 20, 2009

It's a beautiful thing

For all its inanity, frivolity and lingering vacuity, the Internet, and that most trite of contemporary apps - Twitter - are serving a greater good in a way that no telephone or newspaper ever could.

"The team, in this case, being the world, or those of it whose technological mastery has made the internet their playground. They set up proxy servers to replace those monitored or shut down by the Iranian Government. Those proxies are havens, taking the Twitter posts, the Flickr photos and the YouTube videos and redistributing them online.

Iran, according to British author, commentator and journalist Andrew Sullivan "is the central event in modern history, right now".

And within that event, there are multiple layers of conflict. There is the larger, visible one, for the will of the people to be heard, and acted upon. And another, invisible, with a stupendous amount of tech intellect being directed at a regime determined to keep the internet as rigidly controlled as its people."

Bless the geeks, for they have inherited the Earth.

The Twitter Revolution

June 19, 2009

June 17, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

The truth is that capitalism has not only multiplied population figures but at the same time improved the people’s standard of living in an unprecedented way. Neither economic thinking nor historical experience suggest that any other social system could be as beneficial to the masses as capitalism. The results speak for themselves. The market economy needs no apologists and propagandists. It can apply to itself the words of SirChristopher Wren’s epitaph in St.Paul’s: Si monumentum requires,circumspice. [“If you seek his monument, look around.”]

Ludwig von Mises

June 15, 2009

It's over

Peter Costello finally lays it to rest.
"Mr Costello thanked both Mr Turnbull and Mr Rudd for their thoughts, saying he didn't think he would see the day when both sides of the parliament would say nice things about him.

“It is just possible both sides of the dispatch box are happy with the announcement I've made,” he said. "

June 12, 2009

Chastity becomes Chaz

Chastity Bono, famous sprog of Sonny and Cher, is now known as Chaz.

Chaz, an out and proud lesbian for twenty years, has commenced a sex-change process to become a man.

What the hey. Momma Cher has been undergoing processes for thirty years to remain almost a woman.

That sucks

An Italian couple luckily missed their flight on Air France 447 last week, having arrived late at the airport. All 228 people on the flight were killed.

This week the wife was killed and her husband seriously injured in a car accident.

Luck of the firefly variety.

Duck Friday

June 10, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith

June 7, 2009

Oprah done over lightly

"Wish Away Cancer! Get A Lunchtime Face-Lift! Eradicate Autism! Turn Back The Clock! Thin Your Thighs! Cure Menopause! Harness Positive Energy! Erase Wrinkles! Banish Obesity! Live Your Best Life Ever!"
All that, and more, care of Oprah, of course.

has attracted much attention and praise for a critical piece on Oprah, published last week. Sure, it offers up a few shards on the obvious flaws in Oprah's fluffy, feel good, pseudo-scientific, barely rational, mostly irrational, never ending spiel in her quest to increase life spans and self esteem, while simultaneously decreasing thigh circumferences and bad relationships.

I mean, the woman's a gem, right? All Jesus wanted to do was bring peace and goodwill to mankind: Oprah is much the same, just with a weight problem and a private jet.

Let's concede some courage to
Newsweek. Their failure to strictly conform is like a perfect spring day, but they've been rather gentle about things, quite kind. Not as soft and squishy as a fresh marshmallow, but they haven't exactly put the boot in either.

This matters, because the pillorying of Oprah is so very long overdue, so morally inexcusable, that
Newsweek could have delivered something harsher, and therefore, more honest and lasting, without risking the ire of anyone. Instead, they've covered a few of the most obvious anecdotes - most of which you'll almost certainly be familiar with, even if you've never watched the show - with barely an analytic sentence here and there, rendering the exercise almost instantly forgettable. A missed opportunity. Much like Oprah herself.

"In January, Oprah Winfrey invited Suzanne Somers on her show to share her unusual secrets to staying young. Each morning, the 62-year-old actress and self-help author rubs a potent estrogen cream into the skin on her arm. She smears progesterone on her other arm two weeks a month. And once a day, she uses a syringe to inject estrogen directly into her vagina. The idea is to use these unregulated "bio-identical" hormones to restore her levels back to what they were when she was in her 30s, thus fooling her body into thinking she's a younger woman.

That was apparently good enough for Oprah. "Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo," she said. "But she just might be a pioneer."

Or, as the rest of us have known for a long time, she might just be a quackadoo.

If one addresses this seriously, any woman prepared to inject hormones directly into her vagina every morning, in the belief that this invasive and unnatural act will make her look and feel younger, is likely in need of serious psychological care and support. If that's the case, neither effusive praise and publicity, nor name calling, is appropriate. This sad and desperate woman, must be horribly unhappy with herself and her life to resort to the lengthy list of abuses she inflicts on herself. That she exhorts others to follow her example is an extension of her personal mental health problems and delusions.

"Oprah has made a deal to launch her own cable television channel that will reach 70 million homes. It will be called, of course, the Oprah Winfrey Network and will include Oprah-approved programming on health and living well. In announcing the deal, Oprah said, "I will now have the opportunity to do this 24 hours a day on a platform that goes on forever."

Which is a genuinely frightening development. It might be that the world would be a safer place for children and adults without Oprah. It requires a leap of imagination to envisage the damage that will be done by a 24 hour a day Oprah network. 'Quackadoo' will need a few extra 'ooooos' added.

"The Suzanne Somers episode wasn't an oddball occurrence. This kind of thing happens again and again on Oprah. Some of the many experts who cross her stage offer interesting and useful information (props to you, Dr. Oz). Others gush nonsense. Oprah, who holds up her guests as prophets, can't seem to tell the difference. She has the power to summon the most learned authorities on any subject; who would refuse her? Instead, all too often Oprah winds up putting herself and her trusting audience in the hands of celebrity authors and pop-science artists pitching wonder cures and miracle treatments that are questionable or flat-out wrong, and sometimes dangerous."

Following numerous appearances on Oprah, Jenny McCarthy, the Playboy model and actress, has earned her own Jenny McCarthy Body Count site, which keeps a tab on the number of illnesses and deaths caused by failure to vaccinate children in the US. The peculiar back story on McCarthy and her son is also covered on the site. McCarthy, as you would gather, is the most high profile and persistent crusader against vaccines for children, hence being immortalized with the dedicated body count site.

"McCarthy is certain that her son contracted autism from the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination he received as a baby. She told Oprah that the morning he went in for his checkup, her instincts told her not to allow the doctor to give him the vaccine. "I said to the doctor, I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn't it? And he said no, that is ridiculous; it is a mother's desperate attempt to blame something on autism. And he swore at me." The nurse gave Evan the shot. "And not soon thereafter," McCarthy said, "boom, soul gone from his eyes."

Here is what we do know: before vaccinations, thousands of children died or got sick each year from measles, mumps and rubella.

But back on the Oprah show, McCarthy's charges went virtually unchallenged. Oprah praised McCarthy's bravery and plugged her book."

No mention that her son was already experiencing seizures prior to receiving his vaccination, nor any questioning of the science behind McCarthy's belif that the vaccine causes autism. No mention either that her son has quite likely been misdiagnosed and does not have autism.

Another guest favorite of Oprah's is Dr. Christiane Northrup, a physician and one of the shows regular experts. When an audience member asked about the HPV vaccine (to prevent cervical cancer):

"Northrup advised against getting the shot. "I'm a little against my own profession," she said. "My own profession feels that everyone should be vaccinated." But Northrup cautioned, "There have been some deaths from the vaccine." She suggested a different approach. "Where I'd put my money is getting everybody on a dietary program that would enhance their immunity, and then they would be able to resist that sort of thing. All right?"

Sheesh. Almost makes you wonder why we bother spending money on science at all.

"Northrup holds a special place in Oprah's constellation of regular guests. A Dartmouth-educated ob-gyn, she stresses alternative therapies and unseen connections between the soul and the body that she believes conventional doctors overlook, but that she can see. She has written about how she has used Tarot cards to help diagnose her own illnesses. (On her Web site, she sells her own "Women's Wisdom Healing Cards.")

: So your body ... is only manifesting what's really going on with your spirit?

Northrup: But your intellect doesn't know it. This is the important part. It's not—you're not causing this deliberately ... It's your soul bringing it to your attention.

Oprah: Right. It's your soul trying to speak to you.

We all know that any crazy notion or book touted by Oprah spreads faster than swine flu, and such was the case when she got all frenzied over the The Secret.

"On one of the Secret shows, Oprah gave an example of the scientific power of the concept. She said that once, while she was hosting an episode about a man who could blow really big soap bubbles, she was thinking to herself, "Gee, that looks fun. I would like to blow some bubbles." When she returned to her office after the show, there, on her desk, was a silver Tiffany bubble blower. "So I call my assistant," Oprah told the audience. "I say, 'Did you just run out and get me some bubbles? 'Cause I got bubbles by my desk.' And she says, 'No, the bubbles were always there. I bought you bubbles for your birthday and you didn't notice them until today'."

There are many lessons that might be drawn from this anecdote. One is that if you give Oprah a thoughtful gift, she may not bother to notice it or thank you for it. This is not the lesson Oprah took away from her story. Because the way she sees it, her assistant hadn't really given her the gift at all. She gave it to herself. Using the power of The Secret, she said, "I had called in some bubbles."

I guess that's what really, really, really high self esteem does for you: you don't say thank you and you take personal credit for gifts that others have given you. Such is the natural logical conclusion of being Oprah.

Newsweek - Live your best life ever!

Adultery Offsets versus Carbon Offsets

"one person’s reduction in carbon dioxide emissions anywhere on the planet fully offsets anyone else’s contribution to the total.

Carbon offsets, though much maligned, are an excellent idea. If you want to help reduce carbon emissions, consider buying some."
How simple, how cheap: continue to consume the way we always have, but spend a few dollars to neuter the effect. Marvelous. Makes you wonder what all that extreme weather event hysterics is all about, doesn't it? We already have a solution. No biggie.

Robert H Frank is miffed at the flippancy, and what he considers to be an awfully misleading analogy, offered by adultery offsets at Cheat Neutral.

"When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere.

Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and NOT cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.

First you should look at ways of reducing your cheating. Once you've done this you can use Cheatneutral to offset the remaining, unavoidable cheating."

According to Rob:

"The site’s founders say they wanted to use humor to demonstrate why the market for carbon offsets is a moral travesty.

But the criticism is misguided. If our goal is to reduce carbon emissions as efficiently as possible, offsets make perfect economic sense."

Rob offers no evidence to refute the moral travesty point. None. It's allegedly an economics column, sans economics. He makes assertions. Offers the usual dogma.

Carbon off sets are a moral travesty. Ditto and likewise carbon trading.

Two of the most inefficient and ineffective marketing and profit making ploys invented by the environmental industry.

With adultery offsets up and running, it's a matter of time before an entrepreneur offers calorie off sets.

Carbon offsets: a small price to pay for efficiency

June 6, 2009

Tweets are pretty little

Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one.
So, you know, there's not a lot of effort required to be super-on-trend. One tweet, you're done.
[T]he top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production.
We can conclude that more words have been used in writing about Twitter than the number of words that have been used on Twitter, and the number of people in the world who have written about Twitter already exceeds predicted Twitter user growth for the next five years.

Twitter trends: why do men follow men

Total Eclipse of the Heart - The Literal Version

Indians flee vile Oz for the comfort of caste system

As well as being the swine flu capital, Melbourne has recently become the racist capital.

We're so proud.
"In fact, I have encountered the worst form of discrimination, and most varieties of it, in my own country, India, where people are discriminated against on the basis of almost every difference: race, cast, class, gender and sexual orientation. So it is indeed puzzling that news about Australia being racist is reaching epic proportions in countries that can hardly claim to be any better.

Going through the reports, it amused me to think of how many Indian students are bashed up on Delhi Metro, the Indian capital's new rail network, and how they never make news. In late 2008, after an increase in crime on Delhi Metro, the authorities started a 24-hour customer care and complaints cell. As many as 71 offenders were fined or punished in one month for crimes ranging from sexually harassing women passengers to bashing and mugging lone male passengers at night. None of these attacks made headlines, but an Indian student being assaulted in Melbourne, tagged a racist threat, results in a media feast"
Notably, none of our local news reports have gone to the trouble of telling us how many non-Indians are bashed in Melbourne each week, nor how many non-Indians have their iPods or laptops stolen. I'm guessing 99.99999% of such victims are not young Indian men.

But lets not murky an hysterical story with statistics.

And lets especially not miss a good opportunity to remind the world that only white folk are racist. No-one else. Just us wayward white folk.

Don't believe the media hype

Ocular hipsters

Every morning, I catch the Epping train from Northcote, where at least two-thirds of the people trying to squeeze into my carriage are wearing dark-rimmed specs. By the time we reach Flinders Street — via North Fitzroy and Clifton Hill — everyone on board looks like Clark Kent or Tina Fey.

Melbournians like being in the frame, apparently

June 5, 2009

Off air

The sounds of silence are my home internet connection failing to connect to the remote computer.

My ISP insists, of course, that there’s nothing wrong at their end, and that they haven’t changed anything in my settings.

The router is perky and fine.

Maybe it’s the telco line, but the phone and router are hunky dory, so I’m not really expecting a line problem to be indentified … some day, off in the never never … when the telco techies get around to having a look at things.

With a long weekend almost upon us, I fully expect to be down and out for quite some time.

Normal transmissions might resume, eventually.

Duck Friday

June 3, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Yogi Berra

June 2, 2009

Strange but true

A painting of pop diva Madonna in the nude with her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie, was a flop at auction.

Some passing bids, which may have been nothing more than itchy noses or earlobes, failed to come close to the minimum price of STG15,000 ($A30,441).

The oil painting from 2005 depicts Madonna lying naked in the foreground while Ritchie rests a hand on her thigh.

The painting had been expected to sell for STG22,000 ($A44,647).

As if ...

Meanwhile, the latest in a long line of mommy dearests - Candy Spelling - has claimed on US television that daughter Tori Spelling killed her father.

Ah, happy families, doncha love 'em?

June 1, 2009

Our Leader: Psyco Chook


For a few seconds federal politics was rocking so beautifully it was almost like being back in the 90s.

A new poll has shown that a majority of voters think Prime Minister Rudd can turn nasty if he doesn't get his own way.

Stating the bleedin' obvious, but that's what polls are for.

Barnaby Joyce, bless his little cotton socks, was equally unsurprised by the opinion poll, unabashedly declaring:
"The guy's a psycho chook"
He elaborated:

"Who in their right mind gets onto a plane and because he doesn't get the right colour birdseed has a spack attack?''

"This is a very peculiar man who is leading our country,'' he said, referring to claims the Prime Minister demanded a hair dryer while visiting troops in Afghanistan, and his inability to hang onto staff.

On the other hand, Senator Mark Arbib defended his Kevness thusly:
"Australians understand that Mr Rudd is doing what's needed in the national interest"
Hairdryers in Afghanistan are needed in our national interest! Who knew?

The unenlightening poll also threw up the astonishing finding that nearly "one in two" (I guess that would translate to "nearly half") voters believe opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull is - gasp - arrogant.

Because, you know, in Australia, we prefer our pollies to be humble and dumb. Don't want anyone smart or up themselves running the place.

Pollsters say Kevin Rudd can turn nasty

That’ll teach ‘em

We're all familiar with that very old fashioned expression - "cut off your nose to spite your face" - which suddenly seems like a perfectly rational, even quaint manifestation of one's spite.

A 25 year old man from a prominent family in Egypt spent two years requesting permission from his father to marry a lovely lass from a less than prominent family.

Distressed by his Pappa's continued refusal to allow the union, the young nan warmed up a knife and sliced off his reproductive organ.

As so often happens following drastic gestures, doctors were unable to reattach the severed member.

And thus, one prominent Egyptian family is now, and shall remain, somewhat less prominent.