Be like Mike: Headless fowl goes on and on

Q. People can obviously live with missing arms, legs, kidney, lung, gall bladder, eyes, ears, nose, and much more. But wouldn't a headless human be impossible? ­I. Crane

 A. If you think so, you haven't been tracking the breathtaking breakthroughs of genetic engineering, where cloning of Dolly the sheep and creation of a headless frog embryo prompted Dr. Patrick Dixon, author of The Genetic Revolution, to forecast cloned colonies of headless humans kept as spare parts factories in the not-distant future.

Given its technical feasibility, there will be enormous economic pressure for this to happen, Dixon told the British Press Association. It will likely occur in countries where there is little or no gene legislation.

Already the world has "Miracle Mike," the headless chicken of the 1940s, as an example. Earmarked for supper, the Fruita, Colorado, rooster met a bizarre fate when a poorly aimed hatchet took off his head but left neck and brain stem intact, enough to keep Mike's body strutting about for a couple of years, fed via eyedropper through the open hole of his esophagus. Unsqueamish Life magazine ran a photo of him amidst his barnyard brethren, captioned, "Chickens do not avoid Mike who, however, has shown no tendency to mate."


Q. Pre-pockets, where did guys keep money and keys? ­Melanie

 A. Wind the fashion reel back to the early 1500s when personal items were wrapped in a piece of cloth and tucked in any convenient part of a person's costume, says Charles Panati in The Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

One popular tuck place for a guy was his codpiece, literal repository for the family jewels. Then when these male accoutrements swelled to ridiculous heights and fell out of favor, the carryall became a small bag hung at the waist. Two more steps: Side-seams began appearing in trousers as holding place for the belongings pouch, until finally the independent pouch was abandoned, and by the close of the 1500s the lining receptacle had become a permanent sewn-in pocket.


Q. A doctor runs an ad for a $500 patent medicine insuring a couple's next child will be a boy. "Money back, plus an additional $250 if it fails." The checks roll in. What's this doc know about genetics? ­J. B. Murray

 A. Nothing, but he knows his math. Making $500 each on the roughly 50 percent of "bets" that chance makes into boys, while losing $250 each on the 50 percent girls will leave doc more profit than he can roll to the bank in a baby carriage.


Q. At a singles bar, what body language signals must you absolutely check out before sticking your neck out and asking for that first date? ­H. Grant

 A. Look for extended gazes, eye blinks and smiles– pray you don't see pursed lips or cold shoulders– then begin a conversation, says anthropologist David Givens in Love Signals. It matters little what you say, doesn't need to be cute or brainy. If you're hitting home, your "target" will swivel toward you, shoulders parallel. Faces will stay squarely on, slight body tilts toward, eyes rapportful.

For guys, speak slowly, tilt your head to one side and nod as the woman makes her points, tip your face slightly downward (a la Robert Redford) then gaze upward into her eyes. Keep gazes to three seconds, max.

For women, turn directly toward, lean slightly forward, do a three-seconder and a hair preen. Then shift your gaze downward, back up, back down in synchrony with his. Keep posture erect, shoulders relaxed, back slightly arched.

"If the conversation sputters, if he has dead eyes, or if she fails to lean forward, just accept the inevitable."

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