Scientific analysis of Rudolph’s red nose

An investigation into the origin of Rudolph the Reindeer’s red nose has ended the generations-old debate by uncovering an elusive but long-hypothesized scientific explanation: A snootful of red cells.

Detailed evaluation of adult reindeer’s nasal microcirculation revealed similarities with human nasal microvasculature, but also striking differences. Reindeer nasal microcirculation exhibited a highly vascularized nasal mucosa, a red cell-rich nasal septal mucosa, and a microvessel density 25% greater than that of humans.

The architecturally distinct nasal microvasculature confers on Rudolph a nose that “is red and well adapted to carrying out his duties in extreme temperatures…”

“These results highlight the intrinsic physiological properties of Rudolph’s legendary luminous red nose, which help to protect it from freezing during sleigh rides and to regulate the temperature of the reindeer’s brain, factors essential for flying reindeer pulling Santa Claus’ sleigh under extreme temperatures,” Can Ince, PhD, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and co-authors wrote in conclusion.

The findings are consistent with an inherent adaptive mechanism in reindeer vascular development to deal with the cold climate, according to a researcher who was not involved in the study.

“In colder climates and also when they are higher up in the atmosphere pulling Santa’s sleigh, the increase in blood flow in the nose will help keep the surface warm,” John Cullen, PhD, of the University of Rochester in New York…

If alcohol does play a role in the color of Rudolph’s nose, the study has implications that extend beyond well beyond a single reindeer.

“I think [the message] will be ‘Don’t let Santa drive drunk,’ because he won’t be able to deliver the presents,” said Cullen…

The authors reported that Santa Claus offered “enthusiastic support” for this study.

RTFA for more intricate details of the study including quantification of nasal microcirculation.


Pic of the day

santa gondola
Click to enlargeReuters/Manuel Silvestri

Santa arrives by gondola through the fog on the Venice canals. Santa arrives by gondola through the fog on the Venice canals. Santa arrives by gondola through the fog on the Venice canals. Santa arrives by gondola through the fog on the Venice canals. Santa arrives by gondola through the fog…


We’ve all said something this dumb one time or another:

I don’t think our extended family has a single Chevy pickup anymore. Most of the pickups are Dodges, preferably diesel. But, the commercial makes me chuckle everytime I see it.

Brits lead the world in silly nanny-state “protection” for children

Don’t blame Father Christmas if he doesn’t allow your child to sit on his knee at a school event — teachers may have banned him from coming into contact with youngsters.

While those playing Father Christmas are no longer required to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check, many schools have decided to “err on the side of caution” and impose rules on grotto behaviour. Parents who have offered to don the red suit have been told they must not allow youngsters to sit on their laps and cannot be left alone with them.

Because CRB checks are required only for volunteers who have regular contact with children, Father Christmases are exempt. However, government guidance states: “Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure … be left unsupervised with children.”

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this meant many of its members had decided it was better if Father Christmases avoided all physical contact with children

A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were “completely comfortable” with the situation. “Santas in schools should be treated in the same way that other visitors to the school are managed. Our guidance recommends that for such visitors a member of staff is present,” added the spokesman.

Idiots. It’s more than conceivable, you know, that a modicum of care and oversight can be maintained without turning holiday festivities into rituals requiring approval by censors and bluenoses.

Beancounter bureaucrat sacks Santa to save $660

Faced with the difficult task of balancing a budget in austere times, officials in New York’s Suffolk County said on Friday they had no choice: they had to sack Santa Claus. The county executive said he could not justify carving out $660 from his $2.7 billion budget to pay David McKell, 83, a World War II veteran and former homicide detective, to don his Santa suit for the tenth year running and greet children on Long Island…

He said that some 750 county employees were facing layoffs as a result of budget restraints, including what he described as a $20 million cut in state aid to the county’s health system…

Steve Levy was quickly called a Grinch by his opponents.

Do we really have to hold Santa Claus hostage to balance the budget?” said Bill Lindsay, a Democrat and the presiding officer of the county legislature.

“I mean, $600? Give me a break,” Joseph Sawicki, a Republican who as county comptroller is charged with overseeing the county government’s fiscal prudence, said in an interview. “There comes a point where you go overboard in terms of penny-pinching…”

In the end, Steve Bellone, the current town supervisor of nearby Babylon, who is running as the Democratic candidate to succeed Levy, said he would pay for Santa.

Levy, who is not running for reelection, dismissed Bellone’s gesture as “pure grandstanding”, and said his office was investigating whether the check breached rules governing gifts to county agencies.

Exactly the kind of response I’d expect from a Scrooge getting caught out at being a cheapskate at managing somebody else’s money. He hates like hell to admit he’s a lousy money manager; so, he blames the people who point out his distorted values.

Kids tracking Santa at NORAD get Michelle Obama surprise

Eight-year-old Juliana-Rose Hatcher had tracked Santa Claus all of Friday with the aid of NORAD’s Santa hotline, before she got some unexpected help from Michelle Obama.

The first lady stayed behind when her husband, President Barack Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia hit the beach on their Christmas vacation in Hawaii to answer calls from children trying to pinpoint Santa’s whereabouts.

“She asked me what I wanted from Santa and I told her an MP3 player and she said her daughter wants an MP3 player too,” Juliana, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, told Reuters.

Her mother Jennifer said at first they thought it was a joke or a prerecorded message but quickly realized “wow, it really, really is her.”

The White House said the first lady spent about 40 minutes talking with children who called the line

Austin Futch, 10, from Memphis, Tennessee, said he quizzed the first lady about a few things on his mind concerning life in the White House.

He wanted to know how it felt to be surrounded at all times by Secret Service agents — not too bad because they are nice guys — and if it was hard being married to the president.

“No, he’s a pretty good guy,” Michelle Obama told him, according to a transcript of the calls released by the White House.

“I mean, it’s a tough job and sometimes you want to do everything you can to help him, but it’s pretty easy being married to him. He’s kind of funny — fun to hang out with.”

Bravo, Michelle. Taking the time to take an extra step in the direction of children is something too many people forget about.

Proper political responsibilities include every part of the population. Even those not yet old enough to vote.

Macy’s Santa Claus fired over joke

Santa Claus has been canned from Macy’s, and he’s anything but jolly about it. His fans aren’t happy, either. And there are many.

John Toomey, known for 20 years at the Union Square Macy’s in San Francisco as “Santa John,” was told Saturday he’ll have to take his “ho, ho, hos” elsewhere because an adult couple complained about a joke he cracked.

The joke has been in his Santa bag for decades. But after thousands of tellings, the 68-year-old retired caretaker for the elderly finally hit the wrong recipients – apparently an older woman and her husband, who considered it inappropriate…

The kids who sit on his lap, he said, get only his trademark laugh and questions about what toys they want…

But several workers used words including “devastated” and “overreaction” to describe their take on Santa John being booted from his throne at Santaland on the seventh floor. They all asked not be named because store policy forbids them from speaking publicly about such matters, but their un-yule-ish gloom was palpable…

There’s no doubt Toomey takes seriously the responsibility that comes with the red hat.

With the children, it’s important to listen carefully to them and make sure they’re doing things properly, like brushing their teeth, helping Mom around the house, things like that,” Toomey said. “Then when they tell you what they want, repeat it loudly enough so the parents can hear, and tell the child you’ll talk it over with Mrs. Santa and the elves. That way you leave it up to the parents…

“I’ve got my Social Security and some savings, so I’ll be OK,” he said. “But I sure do miss being Santa.”

You expect to run into a certain percentage of stiffs in this land. Rightwingers hate to admit it’s their kith and kin who work hardest at cluttering up our liberties with nanny-state ideology. But, here we go again – trying to get a job back for a Santa with a sense of humor. RTFA for his mild humor.

Next week, someone will probably accuse him of being the AntiChrist – even though holiday theft worked the other way round.