The Sad, Lonely Faces Behind The Onion

Question: Are your columnist characters written by one editor, or do you take turns? 

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Joe Randazzo: They’re written by one person. There have been a couple, such as Smoove B, who is, you know, this kind of romantic lover. That had been written by multiple people, but the torch has been passed on.

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There’s also Jim Anchower, which is written by a writer named Joe Garden. He is the stoner whose car is forever broken down. Jean Teasdale, who was actually originally The Onion’s humor columnist, but she has just kind of got this really depressing suburban life and a loveless marriage, but manages to be chipper throughout it all and even though she is apparently barren is still written by a woman named Maria Schneider, who used to be a staff writer and editor and left a couple of years ago, but we still have her do that column.

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These are so… The columns are so personal and specific that it would be really hard for someone to pick up and take over for someone else after so many years of kind of nuance and layer, and they’re often writing about things from their own life that’s translated into this character, so yeah.

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Question: Do Onion editors’ lives inform their articles?

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Joe Randazzo: I think it informs a great deal. You know, it’s funny. You can sort of pinpoint sometimes in the meeting like oh, so obviously Seth, you watched a lot of Seinfeld over the weekend because all the jokes are about Seinfeld, or TV commercials that you would find during Seinfeld, or if somebody is especially frustrated with their roommate like people in the past will just sort of… You can tell through the headlines that are being pitched you can sort of observe the arc of their relationship with their roommate, so I think because it’s as much these little minor things that occur in daily life, more observation stuff that makes it into the paper as it is big national news events, so definitely people’s biases about say brunch or Aerosmith will make it into headline form and then get pitched at the meeting and if it’s… if we think it’s sort of universally funny enough it will actually make it into the paper, so there is definitely a lot of that.

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Question: Will Herbert Kornfeld return?

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Joe Randazzo: We recently talked about--actually the idea just occurred to me to release like the Kornfeld Papers or something that, you know, some of his old writings that had been unearthed, but we decided to kind of let it be for now. You don’t know. You never know. It might happen at some time, but for us right now Herbert Kornfeld is dead, still the victim of white-on-white violence.

Recorded on November 30, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Everything you ever wanted to know about The Onion’s columnist characters, from whether they’re autobiographical to whether Herbert Kornfeld will make a mythical return.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.