Tag Archives: osteology

Turkey Basters and Infanticide Part III

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We Catholics are an odd lot of people.

For one, we sing songs in a language we can’t understand. A renegade priest could declare that Pater noster qui es in coelis actually means “Nancy Pelosi fisted a donkey” and the only reason some of us would know that it doesn’t is because Nancy and Pater, for the most part, have different letters.

Every Sunday loads of us get together for an hour-long celebration of magic cannibalism. Of course, it’s only proper to participate if you’ve confessed to a mysterious figure behind a screen that you masturbated to your daughter’s One Direction calendar while she was at school, and no Father, you won’t do it again, can you go to the magic cannibalism festival now? Finally, we think that the only way to get a baby into Heaven is to hand it over to an old man so that he can dip its head into a pool of water and fecal matter. Presumably this is okay because infants spend much of their time covered in fecal matter anyway, though usually not on their heads.

In fact, it was only recently that Catholic babies were allowed into Heaven at all. If they died in infancy, many of them were sentenced to Purgatory, because they were tainted with both Original Sin, and the sin of their very conception. After all, you need to have sex to make a baby, and sex is dirty. That’s why all those Catholic husbands are in the confessionals on Saturdays explaining what really happened to that One Direction calendar. Why do you think they have to sell so many of them?

For much of Irish history, Irish children who died in infancy were not able to be buried in the same cemeteries as those who had lived to be baptized. That’s not to say they weren’t cared for though, because they clearly were. Many of these children were buried in cemeteries, or on the outskirts of cemeteries, that had gone into official disuse. Technically it wasn’t a church cemetery, but the ground had still been consecrated, possibly providing the infants at least with an easier time in Purgatory. There are loads of examples of these sites all over Ireland, and the Blackfriary is one such example. Buried at various locations around the cemetery, but largely above the pre-existing monastic context, are dozens of infants. It seems that these children were too young to be baptized when they died, and by burying them on sacred ground, their parents or caregivers were doing their best to ensure them a fulfilling afterlife. Interestingly, even while caregivers were burying their children in sacred spaces, infanticide was not uncommon, and the two were not mutually exclusive. That is, you could kill your child and still bury it in consecrated ground.

During the 2013 field season at the Blackfriary, a group of students excavated the skeletal remains of a newborn baby. It’s always a time-consuming processing to excavate a burial, and it’s particularly difficult when it’s an infant. The bones are tiny and difficult to identify, and they can only be excavated properly under ideal weather conditions. But eventually, the form of the baby began to appear from the soil as they exposed its tiny arms and legs, and finally, its little head. The skeleton was almost completely intact, but the side of the cranium was completely shattered. Nested inside its little head was a small lead sphere about two centimeters in diameter, perfectly situated in the center of the mass of shattered bone. The baby who had been buried with monks had been shot in the head.

Honest Anatomy Lesson 2

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God invented carpals just to make anthropologists sad, and this is true even if you don’t believe in God.

Luckily for the one single person who actually enjoyed reading the first Honest Anatomy lesson and then requested a second, I have a convoluted way of understanding the carpals that I’m going to share with you. Unfortunately for that person, I haven’t yet entirely mastered the muscles of the hand, so this is going to be mostly a lesson in osteology. After all, does anyone really know the muscles? The carpal tunnel is for anthropologists what the tunnel of light is for dying hospital patients, only instead of a choir of angels greeting us at the end, we are welcomed only by darkness and an overwhelming sense of despair.

Let’s begin. It is crucial that you start with the lunate for this lesson, or else nothing will make sense. Notice that the lunate has a crescent shape, much like a crescent moon. In fact, that’s where the lunate gets its name. The lunate has to articulate with the radius because the sun radiates light toward the moon. It articulates laterally.

The scaphoid also articulates with the radius. This makes sense. Think of the scaphoid as a magnifying glass. The radius is the sun. What do you use to incinerate ants in sunlight? A magnifying glass. Thus, the scaphoid has to articulate with the radius. The scaphoid also articulates with the lunate because in this story, Galileo’s telescope is broken, so he has to use a stupid ass magnifying glass. The magnifying glass isn’t working, so he keeps trying to get closer and closer to the moon (lunate) to see it better, until he is finally touching it. Thus, the lunate articulates with the scaphoid.

The capitate also articulates with the lunate. Many people like to think of the capitate as Darth Vader because the articular surface for the third metacarpal looks like the base of his helmet. For the purposes of this story, Darth Vader has a vacation home on the moon, which is why the capitate articulates with the lunate. The capitate also articulates with the third metacarpal, which is the only one of the metacarpals to have a styloid process. Metacarpal is abbreviated as “MC,” which brings to mind “MC Hammer.” Now, Darth Vader wasn’t allowed to be openly gay on the Death Star, but when he’s on the moon (lunate), he resumes a casual sexual relationship with MC Hammer (MC III). To spell it out, you know that the styloid process of the third metacarpal articulates with the distal portion of the capitate because it’s MC Hammer sticking his, erm, styloid process in Darth Vader’s undercarriage.

When Darth Vader (capitate) goes to his vacation home on the moon (lunate) he sometimes likes to wear cowboy boots. Which carpal looks like a boot? The trapezoid! That’s why the trapezoid and capitate articulate. The trapezoid also articulates with the trapezium because the trapezium is saddle-shaped, and obviously you need cowboy boots to ride anything with a saddle. The saddle-shaped articular facet on the trapezium articulates with the saddle-shaped facet on the first metacarpal.

Then we have the triquetral and pisiform. This one is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Triquetral has the letters “que” in it, which happen to be the first three letters in the word “queso.” Queso is made from milk and cheese, which come from cows. Cows pee A LOT. Like, gallons. That’s why the triquetral and pisiform articulate. The triquetral also articulates with the lunate because in the nursery rhyme, the cow jumped over the moon.

Finally, we have the hamate. The hamate is a pig, first because it has the word ham in it, and second because it has a little pig ear. Or a butcher hook, whatever comes to mind. The hamate articulates with the lunate because when the cow (triquetral) jumped over the moon, she got lonely and called up the pig (hamate). The hamate also articulates with the fifth metacarpal because the fifth metacarpal is a tiny bitch and needs to eat more animal protein.

Honest Anatomy Lesson 1

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(I’m taking a break from infanticide because school).

The quadriceps femoris muscle group is made up of the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, intermedialius, and lateralis. Rectus femoris comes from the anterior inferior iliac spine, and the others come from the femur. All of them come together in a polygamous hippie marriage via the patellar ligament and attach on the tibial tuberosity. These polygamous hippies are extensors. They are useful for when you need to extend your knee to kick a real hippie.

The hamstrings are made up of biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendonosus, all of which begin at the ischial tuberosity, except for the short head of biceps femoris because he’s a fucking asshole. Come on, biceps femoris. Are you two muscles or are you one? Or are you some sort of freaky two-headed Forbidden Forest guard? Figure yourself out. Anyway, semimembranosus attaches at the posterior-proximal medial tibia, in an area aptly named “groove for the semimembranosus.” The semitendonosus attaches at some vague point on the posterior proximal tibia just south of the tibial plateau. If you can find where it attaches, you win science.

At their attachments points, both heads of the biceps femoris finally reconcile their freaky half-twin dual-head issues and come together on the fibular head. The hamstrings are antagonists to the quads. They can extend, but their main function is flexion. This is useful when running away after kicking the aforementioned hippie.

The Sartorius is a really long muscle that runs from the anterior superior iliac spine down to the medial side of the tibial anterior crest. It flexes the leg, but more importantly, when you sit cross-legged, it’s the muscle that shows on the inside of your thighs and can make you feel in shape when you haven’t been on a proper run in months.

Gastrocnemius is the muscle that shapes the femoral condyles. The lateral head attaches at the lateral femoral condyle and lateral epicondyle just above the insertion for popliteus, and the medial head attaches at the medial femoral condyle. The two heads come together in holy matrimony via the Achilles tendon. The job of gastrocnemius is to flex the foot and also to sound like some disgusting stomach aliment.