Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Tyrannosaurus Rx: “The day I removed a toy dinosaur from a woman’s vagina”

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The Guardian published an article called “The day I removed a toy dinosaur from a woman’s vagina“.

It’s a firsthand medical report by a student nurse who uses the pen name Poppy Ward. The article includes the image you see here, from an entity named Alamy:


(Thanks to Adam K. Olson for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS QUESTION: Should Poppy Ward have done a more formal writeup and submitted it to a medical journal, rather than a newspaper?

The special DOGS (and Cats) issue is out!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

The special DOGS (and Cats) issue (vol. 21, no. 4) of the magazine (the Annals of Improbable Research) is now out!

Articles include:

…and more, more, more, including new helpings of “Improbable Medical Review”, “Boys Will Be Boys”, “Soft Is Hard”, and other outstandingly improbable research snippets from many fields and countries.

We encourage you to subscribe.

Mel (right) says it’s swell.



This special DOGS (and Cats) issue nips at the heels of the special CATS (and Dogs) issue.


‘Culinary terms are used to describe genitals colloquially’

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

A quartet from Washington and San Francisco writes, in the American Journal of Medicine:

“Although culinary terms are used to describe genitals colloquially, medical terminology has avoided such comparisons.”

Dr Nicholas Mark and his colleagues survey the medical literature on diagnostic clues in urine, stool, sputum, etc. that — in at least some respect — resemble drink and food. They mostly avoid colloquial descriptions, but a list from Stanford University does include hot dog, cucumber and sausage as recognized terms for the penis.


Hotdog – from Wikimedia Commons

Here is the abstract:

“Physicians use food to describe the body: Analogies add flavor, provide a lingua franca for description, and offer a mnemonic. Presenting medicine in food descriptors makes a boundless field easier to digest. We present a selection of food terms pertaining to physical diagnosis.”

It was only going to be a matter of time, since our last installment of food-related medical terms, before we offered this next serving of food-related medical terms.

“An opera set to ruffle a few feathers”

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Excitement, perhaps spiced with dread and ornamented with down, mounts in London anticipating the performances of the Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera, on 8 and 9 August.

Tom Whipple reports, in The Times, under the headline “An opera set to ruffle a few feathers“:



See here for background, and here to get tickets (if any are still available).

As you likely are full-well aware, the incident on which the opera is based resulted in, among other things, the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology.

Podcast #22: The gluteal hardness of security Guards

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

ImprobableResearch-guards-450“Gluteal Hardness is simple to gauge, at least in security guards. The parameters of interest are: gender; age; fullness of uniform; visibility of scalp; and belt-width and -trappings. The values of these parameters reliably distinguish a guard who is basically strolling over to say hello in case his supervisor is watching, from a guard who’d shoot you if he could.” Private security guards — of many kinds — turn up  in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

Click on the “Venetian blinds” icon — at the lower right corner here — to select whichever week’s episode you want to hear:

SUBSCRIBE on, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free.

This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:

The mysterious John Schedler perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, both on the new CBS web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

BONUS: Here’s an earlier, fictional depiction of a private security guard: W.C. Fields in the movie The Bank Dick: