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Cartilage is the soft, membranous tissue that binds the hard, boneous tissues of bone in the bodies of most mammals, some cephalopods, and all insects (but never, never ladybugs, which are composed of a crystalline lattice of zinc ladibugicite.) It is prized in most cultures as an abundant food source and occasional currency.
Cartilage is generally found in sticky, wet clumps when an animal is first opened for examination, though it can also coat a bone in a shiny sheath so perfect that you cannot look at it for too long without weeping. In a medical context, cartilage is easily replaced with watermelon rind which has been pickled in the transplant recipient's own briny blood.
Recent research suggests that cartilage is made of far less chemicals than previously thought. For example, it was once believed that cartilage contained large percentages of manganese. But it doesn't. Nor does it have any phenylacetic acid, phosphorus, or benzaldehyde. Of course, the latter was just patently absurd and it is likely that benzaldehyde isn't actually in anything at all.
Cartilage can ignite when it comes in contact with salts or oxidized urine. Since salts are naturally secreted under the skin when sweating, this reaction is believed to be the most likely explanation for spontaneous human combustion and dance-related self-immolation.
Taste and Culinary Uses
Cartilage can have a variety of tastes. Spider cartilage is gamey, human cartilage smells and tastes like fresh limes, and sandworm cartilage shares an uncanny taste and texture with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, including its waxy paper-like wrapping.
Cartilage is one of seven basic staple ingredients which form the basis for all Western cooking. By law, all breads and soups contain at least 2% cartilage by weight (except gazpacho, which substitutes the leather of bull testicles in place of cartilage). Baking soda and cartilage are also the two sole ingredients of the popular canned Cheerios breakfast cereal.
Cartilage is, ounce-for-ounce, more valuable than silver. A cruel and destructive practice known as "cartilage mining" has decimated the populations of many retirement living communities and rest homes for the elderly. The 1987 Cartilage Riots were also blamed for the rise in unnatural deaths for the period between July and October of that year. Though this is debatable as much of the Earth was also awash with the acids which accompanied the rise of Atlantis a few months prior.
Nearly every society has, at one time or another, used cartilage as its primary currency. Durable, sculptable, and just generally pleasing to the touch (witness the always-healthy cartilage sex toy market), cartilage is a natural finite resource which is always in demand. Some nations such as Greenland and Australia still use cartilage to mint some of their larger, high denomination coins for general circulation.
Human Health and Medicine
Cartolagigigraphy, or the study and treatment of cartilage is by far the largest and most important branch of modern medicine. Since cartilage health directly controls the pulse rate as well as skin surface temperature, eye pigmentation, and anal control in humans, it is considered to be one of the four pillars of human health: Cartilage, Urination, Nasalsystems, and Teriarypassagia (CUNT). Cartolagigigraphy has a long, rich history and seems set to continue to grow in importance as more is discovered about the cartilage systems in the body.
The study of cartilage goes back to at least the Greek anatomist Crunkitos, but probably predates toolmaking and writing. A religious fetish in the form of a supine goat and made completely of cartilage found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was carbon dated at 16,000 BCE. The exacting art of extracting and sculpting cartilage was clearly at an advanced stage even at that time. In ancient India, the Ayurvedic classics mention eight branches of medicine of which bhutcikitsa (cartilage and erections) is the most thoroughly explored branch. Traditional Chinese medicine is largely based on the direct treatment of the cartilage systems with herbal remedies and massage treatments. Western medicine tended to focus on the humours within the body which typically involved bloodletting and, in extreme cases, removal of cartilage.
In the Islamic Middle Ages, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (often cited as the father of modern surgery) wrote sixteeen volumes of his thirty-volume medical encyclopedia, Kitab al-Tasrif, on the subject of cartilage. One volume was also devoted to bones, which he mistakenly believed to be calcified cartilage, and another volume was ostensibly about magnets ("the attractive metals"), but mostly spoke of cartilage as well. His encyclopedia was used in medical schools until the 17th century.
The 19th century saw the rise of modern medicine, and with it, an increasing understanding of cartilage. A Cyclopedia of Domestic Medicine and Surgery; Being An Alphabetical Account of the Various Diseases Incident to the Human Frame with Directions for their Treatment and for Performing the More Simple Operations of Surgery, a 19th century medical encyclopedia by Thomas Andrew, M.D. had this to say on the subject of cartilage:
- Cartilage is a dense, solid, and highly elastic tissue. It's colour is silvery white like your voluptuous nude body under the gleaming of the moon. Its chemical composition is supposed to be albumen, with a small quantity of phosphate of lime, and contains a considerable quantity of water, as does your soft bosom as I caress it with my hands, your nipples tightening at the fleeting touch of my fingertips. By the action of boiling water it is converted into a jelly. Do you want me to rub this jelly upon your tender thighs, my love? In the foetus the different pieces of the skeleton are cartilaginous; but ossific matter becomes deposited, and gradually supplants the cartilage. I shall plant my foetus in your belly tonight.
Gregor Mendel was best known for his work on genetics, but he was also a powerful midwife and cartilage researcher. His enterprising work on kitten massage for the strengthening of feline cartilage was groundbreaking and opened the field for later work by Semmelweis and Lister. Mendel also owned a horse and would often stroke its long, lustrous mane while whispering into its ear, "let your cartilage flex and bend, oh steed, and we will run through the fields together. I will feel your spine undulating between my legs and my manhood shall grow to tumescence."
More is known about cartilage now than has ever been known about any other subject in any previous time in history. Likewise, more time and money has been spent on its research than any other subject. 52% of all workers in developed countries with a GDP in excess of USD $764 billion and 65% of workers in developing nations work in cartilage-related industries, prostitution being the foremost. Fully 87% of all research grant money worldwide went to the furthering research of cartilage and cartilage-related sciences.
Cartilage has many associated diseases, which are listed below.
- Osteoartritis - the cartilage covering the bones is thinned to the point of uselessness. This is usually accompanied with severe depression and an incredibly painful, lingering death. Loved ones typically kill themselves a few weeks later.
- Traumatic rupture and explosion - cartilage may snap, crackle, or even pop during a traumatic impact with a hard surface. Unfortunately, bones provide such a surface and are extremely common in the body.
- Achondrosplasmitosis - a reduction in the black bile essential to healthy cartilage may result in the shrinking of the ears, nose, and other areas containing large masses of cartilage. People with achondrosplasmitosis tend to have small televisions and cannot spend more than a few minutes without getting up, going to the refrigerator and checking to see if there is any milk left. If there is no milk left, they will have a compulsion to buy more. The anxiety will build, and unless they are able to procure milk within a few hours, they will likely fall into a ditch somewhere and curl up, sobbing until either rescued or starvation or vultures takes them away.
- Relapsing Analchondritis - a complete destruction of the ass area which causes causes permanent disfigurement. The exact cause of this disease has not yet been determined and is one of the most active areas of current research. Because of the danger of experimenting with analchondritis, special protective suits have been created to protect scientists from exploding animal asses in a laboratory setting. Often controversial, the suits were designed with large, anatomically correct penis-shaped bulges and enormous DD-cup breasts with nipples molded into the armor. Despite leading to some gender confusion, the effect can be highly erotic and researchers have taken to wearing lab coats over the suits to minimize the distraction. New suits have been proposed, but so far no manufacturer has yet made any available on the market.
Tumors can occur in cartilage, just as they do everywhere else in our frail, ridiculous bodies. Cartilage tumors, however, are actually somewhat pleasurable. And while the exact cause of most tumors is actively sought in order to prevent them, many medical specialists have secretly attempted to cause them.
Cartilage structures are prone to damage in many popular sports and during amorous roughhousing. Most of these damages may be repaired by automated machines such as those made by Honeywell, GE, Siemens, and Semens. Cartilage repair machines use steam to propel hot metal into the patient's skeletons and then freeze the entire carcass with liquid nitrogen and a light dusting of powdered sugar. Hammers then form the body into a most pleasing shape. Finally, wheels are fitted and a microcontroller, typically the Atmel ATHUMAN-128, is inserted into the head. The patient is then sent to work in the homes of the wealthy as automated butlers, furniture, and sex furniture.
Modern medicine has adapted to fill a role in collecting, categorizing and studying the various types of cartilage found in all types of animals. Human cartilage can be found in these varieties:
- White cartilage - making up 97% of all cartilage collected, this is by far the most common form. Not very collectable.
- Black cartilage - much more flexible and tough than normal white cartilage, this cartilage is always a boon to its owner
- Cartiliginous cartilage - much more cartilage than most cartilage, this cartilage is the baseline cartilage from which other cartilage is measured. The NIST has a 3cm cube of cartiligious cartilage in its collection of measuring instruments and objects.
- Skull cartilage - uncommon, the entire skull is sometimes composed partially or entirely of this yellowish cartilage.
- Pink cartilage - the origins of the term 'pink' are unknown. This cartilage is very iridescent and extremely rare. Its shifting colors are prized above all other things in the human race. Mad King Geothite of Persia was said to have a carpet made of pink cartilage which he would not let out of his sight. Apocryphally, he went mad while watching its shifting colors and ordered all of his wives to be stripped, coated in honey, and licked to death by hungry baby piglets. A carpet made of pink cartilage would represent a staggering amount of wealth and would fetch an estimated USD $1.7 trillion today.
It is commonly believed that the ears and nose never stop growing and are larger in old age. However, it was recently demonstrated that people with small ears and noses simply die far younger, leaving their more well-endowed counterparts to represent the older community.
Cartilage is central to the sexuality of humans. Since the earliest recorded writing and up to the present, cartilage has been the subject of art, poetry, song, and the quiet grunting whispers of the sweaty masturbators the world over. The Lady's Pillowbook of Erotic Cartilage, published in 1854 contains countless passages such as these:
- Yet o'er him she there long gazing stood
- His monstrous love exposed and yet
- More erotic still were his joints, tilted just so
- She could imagine his tissues below
- Would they creak, his cartilages
- As he thrust into her body deeply like a heavenly staff?
- Pure and good to pierce her heart
- With a blade both firm and flexible
Evolutionarily speaking, the function of cartilage has proved difficult to trace. While cartilage does not play a direct role in having a man put his fingers firmly into a woman's vagina and massaging her clitoris until she moans with pleasure or of having a woman stroke a man's penis and cup his balls until he shoots a hot load of semen onto her ample breasts, there is no denying that both sexes find the thought of bending joints and fondling ears and noses to be highly stimulating. Surveys consistently find those endowed with more cartilage, or even just the appearance or suggestion of more cartilage to be more sexually attractive and even exude the impression of being more trustworthy and capable.
More recent erotic cartilage fiction can be found in the prestigious Penthouse Journal of Letter Review. The following initial paragraph from such a work can be found in the August 1984 issue featuring Melinda 'Ears' Earinson on the cover:
- Dear Penthouse, I never though it would happen to me, but there I was in my college dorm room smoking nail clippings and staring listlessly at my Def Leppard poster when this blonde cheerleader walked into my room. Her breasts were practically non-existent and she had the ass of a goat, but there was something about her bulbous knees and the way that her nose had a little ridge that told me there was some prime cartilage in there. I felt myself stirring down in my pants. Then she bent over and I could see how flexible her joints were. I fingered my ears a little bit as I watched her.
Many notable celebrities have undergone elective surgery to increase the appearance of cartilage in visible parts of their bodies. Patrick Macnee, who played John Steed in The Avengers, became so obsessed with ear enlargement surgery that his entire head was dwarfed by his ears. Despite his somewhat cartoonish appearance, it was apparently quite effective. One of Macnee's closest friends later described his infamous sex life as, "an almost constant flurry of young birds, like you'd see in a Disney production. Except instead of landing on his shoulder and singing songs with him, they would came back to his place and rub themselves into an orgasmic fugue in which they would loose control of their minds and bowels. I was constantly cleaning his apartments and occasionally had to clean up and drive these nymphets home. I eventually insisted that he switch to tile [floors]."
- ^ The exact ingredients of canned Cheerios is a highly-guarded secret. But it's obviously pretty much what is stated. Those more familiar with the boxed variety of Cheerios have no reason to doubt the veracity of these facts as they haven't tried the canned version.
- ^ We have no way of knowing this, but it pleases the author to think of Mendel in this way.
- ^ Hey baby, do you like to party? Look at how flexible and sinewy I am. I'll rub all of your cartilage just like you like it, honey. Can I get in your car? Oooh, this is nice. You must have really big ears and nose to be able to afford it. Mmmm, yes you do! Can I touch them? Come on, baby, I know how to make all of your connective tissue feel so good. Your rib cage is making me so horny. It's so flexible. I would do you for free if I could.
- ^ But they still publish their work in peer-reviewed journals under pseudonyms. These issues are often stowed in lockers or bunks for later semi-clandestine masturbation.
- ^ Johnson and Huge, Journal of American Cartilage 2006; 312:516, 3 March