Meanwhile, in the metropolis (remotely)…

London’s a crazy place, isn’t it? Aside from the dreadful news of young men being stabbed to death in broad daylight (Oxford Street, 5 p.m.; plenty of witnesses, right? Right?), the fictional creator of this fella got a mention in ‘The House’ yesterday by men in suits debating the second reading of the HFE Bill. Although the resort to such cheaply unoriginal tabloid-isms irks, particularly when allied with the invocation of ‘conscience’ as an excuse to avoid both thinking and offending (which it does, by the way), the reach of fictional myths always impresses. As does Alan Johnson, even though he regurgitates that ’99.9%’ figure spoon-fed by scientists who should know better. Property prices continue to rise there, even though they’re now apparently falling everywhere else. Meanwhile, four American ladies turn up, one of whom, in order not to be outshone by the red-head who always steals this particular show, distracts by wearing what appeared to be a pineapple on her head, and is seemingly necessarily skim-finished due to the ineffectuality of endorsed cosmetic products that actually do bugger-all for the aging process, as admirably exposed by last night’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme. This is the most disturbing thing about celebrity culture – the bastardisation of science, which allows big companies, and their lying marketing leeches, to get away with contravening the Trades Description Act. The stars tell us it works, so, for some unfathomable reason that leads us to think they’re qualified, we believe them. Oh, and while I was away, Londoners elected a buffoon. Dear-oh-dear.

Anyway, as I’m back, but still looking for distraction, I think it’s high-time I paid The Smoke a visit; after all, being one hour away by train is a plus of living in “the sahhff” (a factor on the decision lists). Time I hooked up with my old mate Al, he with the double-ovulating partner and, consequently, the father of two sets of non-identical twin girls (what are the odds on that?). Spinning plates. It’s a strange world.

15 responses to “Meanwhile, in the metropolis (remotely)…

  1. I wonder. Or is it that they exploit our ignorance (a less insulting adjective, because we’re all ignorant to some degree)? Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we should automatically assume academic scientists are of the more virtuous variety, I do quizzically frown at the association of scientists with companies that don’t ‘play the game’. (Where does Boots publish all those studies?) We all need to earn our crust, but lying for a living….
    I confess I maybe take this a tadge too seriously, when apathy is perhaps better for the blood pressure (but then, that’s me!). So, instead, ignore me, and listen to one of the great philosophers.

  2. Yeah. But, the Cultured Celebrity is okay (although we might struggle to place the boundary).

  3. A tad is smaller than a tadge. The term tadge, however, is now generally considered archaic, and is usually thought equivalent to the smidgeon. In the metric system, there are 3.45657 smidgeons to the soupcon, where 100 soupcons = 1 je ne sais quoi. Just thought you ought to know that. (Source: McKneegrasper’s Universal Guide to Qualitative Quantity, 5th edn., Sauk City, 1956.)

  4. I guess I should abandon weaning any ambition to go into editing.
    It’s at times like these that I’m inclined to quote the last line of The Commitments

  5. Henry, the practice highly valuing Celebrity Cultures (microbial) is not unknown, although the practice does seem to date to before their microbial nature was appreciated. When ancient Greek athletes competed in the Olympic Games, they would cover their bodies with oil, and at the end of the competition would scrape it off along with dirt and sweat with a device called a strigil. Athletes’ sweat, mixed with the various oils they used and dust from the rink, were sold as a balsam, a beauty product and an aphrodisiac. That of the winners commanded the highest price.
    The practice happens to be relevant to my research into commensal skin organisms. I am working with autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria, which I have found to be commensal with humans and live on the skin long term (years). These bacteria oxidize the ammonia in sweat into NO and nitrite with prompt kinetics (~ 1 minute), and some of the NO/NOx is absorbed into the skin.
    I have instrumental measures of NO production by these bacteria in vivo (human), coincident with a spontaneous physiological effect known to be mediated via NO (measured with a plethysmograph ;). Let me simply say that this confirms that the Celebrity Cultures of the ancient Greeks were likely not placebos.

  6. @David: you mean, they do make you more beautiful? ;-)
    Seriously, though, you’d recommend a high-protein diet over Viagra? (but it might be a little off-putting for the partner…)

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