Werner Forssmann, perhaps the maddest of all mad scientists!

Werner Forßmann, looking like a distinguished Nobel prize winner and not a crazed lunatic who happened to change the history of cardiology.

Werner Forßmann, looking like a distinguished Nobel prize winner and not a crazed lunatic who happened to change the history of cardiology.

There’s a funny thing about applying yourself to your craft. You must do it in order to be successful, but then people start thinking you’re a tad wacky.

Today’s subject was such a character, and his increasingly insane behavior led him all the way from POW camp to the Nobel Prize.

Werner Forssmann was born in Germany in 1904, and at age 25, he graduated medical school at the University of Berlin and passed the State Examination in 1929. Not even a year out of medical school, Forssmann postulated that a catheter could be inserted directly into the heart for various medical purposes, but the fear at the time was that such an intrusion would be fatal.

So Forssmann did what all innovative scientists do – try the procedure out on himself.

He went to extraordinary lengths to pull this off. The department chief said no, but he persuaded an OR nurse named Gerda Ditzen to assist him. She agreed, but only if he would do it on her rather than himself.

This is where it starts getting weird…

Being the scrupulous, scientific type, Forssmann decided that he would TRICK HIS ONLY SUPPORTER, by restraining nurse Ditzen to a table, and then pretending to inject local anesthetic into her arm, when he was actually anesthetizing his own arm. He then inserted a URINARY CATHETER (they didn’t have cardiac ones at the time) into his arm at the antecubital vein, then told Ms. Ditzen to call the X-ray department.

Werner's revolutionary X-ray. The catheter is the thin black line advancing inward from his left arm.

Werner’s revolutionary X-ray. The catheter is the thin black line advancing inward from his left arm.

Bleeding and with a catheter in his arm, they walked over to the X-ray room, where Dr. Forssmann, aided by the fluoroscope, advanced the catheter all the way into the right ventricle of his heart, and they took X-ray images showing the catheter in his right atrium.

Werner Forssmann’s superiors were annoyed, but also impressed, and when they recognized his discovery, they let him do a catheterization to deliver drugs directly to the heart of a terminally ill woman. His reputation – both for medical insight and for being a bit unhinged – was growing, but he began to be passed over for surgical positions.

In 1933, he married Dr. Elsbet Engel, a urology specialist, and himself converted over to urology after his reputation in the cardiological field prevented him from getting work. He was successful, and later became Chief of the Surgical Clinic at 2 hospitals.

Here’s where it gets weirder… 

Forsmann was a member of the Nazi Party from 1932 to 1945, and rose to the rank of Major due to his medical expertise.

During World War II, as a medical officer, he was captured and put into a U.S. POW camp. While he was in prison, Andre Frederic Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards read his paper, to develop ways of applying heart catheterization to heart disease diagnosis and research. This work later resulted in Cournand, Richards and Forßmann earning the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

An artist's depiction of what was clearly meant to be a later-day Werner Forsmann.

An artist’s depiction of what was clearly meant to be a later-day Werner Forsmann.

After his release from prison, he worked as a LUMBERJACK, and then returned to medicine, practicing as a country doctor with his wife, then later opening a urology practice in the awesomely-named Bad Kreuznach. He later became an Honorary Professor at several top European universities, and a high-ranking member of many medical societies.

He and Elsbet had six children with cool names: Klaus Forßmann, Knut Forßmann, Jörg Forßmann, Wolf Forßmann, Bernd Forßmann, and Renate Forßmann. Two of them had impressive clinical careers – Wolf was the first to isolate the atrial natriuretic peptide (a pretty big deal), and Bernd helped develop the “lithotriptor” method of removing kidney stones acoustically – a process still used on over 1 million people in the US every year.

Werner Forssmann died in 1979, of heart failure (of all things).

What the heck?!? This story is so crazy. Happy Friday everyone!

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tinapang bangus, with or without lumpia

Well, hello Funny Names Fans. It’s me, Liz, here to break the silence that seems to have fallen at Blog of Funny Names. Know that the ragtag collection of BoFN writers are busy folk, so posts may not always go up. In fact, I–your resident funny-names-in-food “expert”–had nothing planned for you this week.

After Fannie’s most excellent post on Mr. Greg Bear last week, I knew I was up next. (Thank you, Fannie, for being my marker.) No funny food names came to mind, but I assumed I’d be inspired at some point during the week. Turns out I assumed wrong. Inspiration did not hit and I had not the go-gettedness (that’s a word, right?) to hunt down a name. [shades of Diddy here]

So imagine my relief when I happened upon a post from a crazy-talented blogger friend entitled How To Make Lumpia with Tinapang Bangus. Wow. While Lumpia (which I had heard of before) and Tinapang Bangus (which I had not) are funnily named foods rather than funnily named folk, their funniness factor is high enough that I will build an entire post around them.

First, though, note that I am in no way making fun of Tinapang Bangus nor Lumpia. One of BoFN’s many tenants is that funny names are celebrated because of their greatness. Though you’ll occasionally find a wee bit of snark and ridicule, it’s mostly good clean fun and we pick our topics because we think they’re cool enough to be featured. And “tinapang bangus” (along with the slightly more familiar “lumpia”) blew me away. Such awesome words deserve to be shared.

tinapang bangus, on the menu at Puerto Rico's Bangus Restaurant, Greenhills Branch

tinapang bangus, on the menu at Puerto Rico’s Bangus Restaurant, Greenhills Branch

Wikipedia tells me that “tinapa” is the Filipino term for smoked fish and bangus is also known as milkfish. So Tinapang Bangus is simply smoked milkfish. You can learn to make your own here.

Though I knew lumpia as some type of dumpling, more research was needed for specifics. Again to Wikipedia for the knowledge that lumpia are “pastries of Chinese origin similar to … fried spring rolls.” Most food-based websites define lumpia as Filipino egg rolls, so there you have it. Hop over to YouTube for Judy’s lovely lumpia-making demo. I would totally eat these.

So what Jar of Salt has done in her post, then, is add flaked tinapang bangus to lumpia filling. Which is altogether brilliant. How yum! I’m just sorry she’s on another continent and I”ll never taste her amazing creation. But I’ve expanded my food world and am glad to have learned a few new (funny) food words. Here’s hoping you enjoyed them, too.


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Colorful Kandinsky

Today’s post spotlights Russian painter Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (1866-1944). Born in Moscow to Lidia Ticheeva and Vasily Silvestrovich Kandinsky, he recalled being fascinated and stimulated by color as a child. He attended the University of Moscow, studying law and economics, as far from painting as the east is from the west. His interest in art began at the mature age of 30, at which point he settled in Munich, studying at Anton Ažbe‘s private school.

Kandinsky compared painting to composing music, writing, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” Check out these good vibrations.


Munich Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula

He focused on landscapes and towns, rather than human figures, except for Sunday, Old Russia (1904). Kandinsky spent the years from 1906 to 1908 travelling across Europe as an associate of the Blue Rose symbolist group of Moscow, settling in the Bavarian town of Murnau. During this time, The Blue Mountain (1908–1909) was painted, demonstrating his trend toward abstraction. I’m not keen on abstract art, so I’m delighted that we can make out horses and riders, as well as said blue mountain.

blue mountain

But Kandinsky was not a one-trick pony. In addition to painting, he was an art theorist. He helped found the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association). When the group dissolved two years later, he then formed a new group, the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). At the onset of WWI in 1914, he returned to Russia. In 1917, at the age of FIFTY-ONE , he finally broke down and got married to a woman named Nina Andreievskaya. Again, he compared music to art. Imagine this being said in a Russian accent:

The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating. But no, this uniformity of red is not the most beautiful hour. It is only the final chord of a symphony that takes every colour to the zenith of life that, like the fortissimo of a great orchestra, is both compelled and allowed by Moscow to ring out.

Nice as that sounds, it was time to get going. In 1921, he was invited back to Germany to attend the Bauhaus (no, not Peter Murphy’s goth-rock band) school of art, where he began teaching until the Nazis closed it in 1933. Not crazy about Nazis, he left Germany for France, where he spent the remainder of his life.

In 2012, Christie’s auctioned Kandinsky’s Studie für Improvisation 8 (Study for Improvisation 8), a 1909 view of a man wielding a broadsword in a rainbow-hued village, for $23 million. I bet that would have been music to his ears.

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Greg Bear

Greg Bear. Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis

Greg Bear wrote a book, more than one. (Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis)

Polish up your geek glasses people, I’ve just spent a month driving close to 9,000 miles with my husband and we’re rolling it into high gear.

Fortunately for me, jocks need nerds and my husband understands my need to geek. He helped me check off an item on the bucket list—jumping over the continental divide . . . feel free to join me. And 5, 6, 7, 8: East, west, east, west. (Shades of lumbago, I needed the exercise after being in the car that long.)

In 2013, we ended the BoFN year with Gary Gygax, founder of Gen Con, the gaming convention. Now Halloween approaches, and costumes will be in full force, let’s segue to our latest installment of geekitude: Author, artist and founding member of Comic-Con San Diego—Greg Bear. Not to be confused with black bears, which I saw plenty of during my trip.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Greg shared the same home town as our esteemed colleagues, Dave and Arto—San Diego, California. Is it something in the water or the sunshine down in San Diego?

Somewhere in the late 1960’s a group of high school friend, including but not limited to Greg Bear, Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger and Richard Alf founded San Diego Comic-Con.

Greg and his friends were Ray Bradbury groupies. They followed him to every one of his local author readings. They followed that by hanging out at his home when they were teenagers. They followed that with Ray mentoring them.

Ray became one of their first guest speaker when the event kicked-off (not the dying kind) from August 1st through 3rd, 1970 in the U.S. Grant Hotel. The event hosted 300 attendees in the basement. Now Comic-Con hosts in excess of 130,000 yearly at the San Diego Convention Center plus additional venues.

Back to Mr. Bear, his dad joined the navy, so they moved a lot: Japan, the Philippines, Alaska, and various other parts of the United States. While living in Alaska in 1961, Greg completed his first short story at the age of ten.

Later he attended San Diego State University receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. While there, he was a teaching assistant to Elizabeth Chater in her course on science fiction writing. Shades of foreshadowing . . .

His art work appeared on the cover of his books. He and his wife, Astrid Anderson Bear (daughter of Sci Fi author, Poul Anderson)—founding members of ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction Artists. He no longer produces commercial artwork, directing his attention to writing full time.

He’s completed over 44 science fiction novels, multiple short stories, consults for Microsoft, Google and other software companies, and, in addition, numerous governmental agencies . He even appeared as himself in the Sunday funnies in the comic Funky Winkerbean.

On September 23rd, he suffered a major heart attack at his home outside Seattle, Washington, He underwent emergency valve replacement surgery. We want to wish him a speedy recovery.

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Special NFL Series : The Five Funniest Names on the San Diego Chargers

Hello Funny Names Fans! We meet again!

Today marks the beginning of a new special feature here on the Blog of Funny Names, the 32-part, probably never to be completed, but earnestly begun Funniest Names in the NFL Project. Or FNITNFLP. Which co-incidentally is the second most common last name in the Czech Republic. Live and learn, blog readers!

We begin this magnificent* project with the home town team of this blog’s founders. Or adopted hometown for 1/3 of them. That would be the championship hogging powerhouse that is the San Diego Chargers. Check out the five greatest names currently on the roster.

Tenny Palepoi

Tenny is a Salt Lake City- born defensive end who just joined the Chargers this year. Utah isn’t the only thing verifying the “pale” part of his name, as he also attended Snow College in the Beehive State, playing for the Snow College Badgers during his time there.

Danny Woodhead

This hard-headed running back is from North Platte, Nebraska. He grew up relishing competitiveness in a tight rivalry with South Platte, NE (I’m sure). Woodhead joined the Chargers last season after stints with the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, but he’s unfortunately likely out for the season this time around with a broken fibula. Ouch.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe means business.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe means business.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe

Undoubtedly the best name currently on the roster, Tjong-a-Tjoe is another Charger currently out of action due to injury. Born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where another type of football is a bit more popular, Tjong-a-Tjoe attended high school in Boise, Idaho and after graduating elected to stay in Idaho to attend college at Boise State. He is now inspiring wonderful Tjong-a-Tjoe inspired rhymes in San Diego beat poetry clubs.

Kwame Geathers

The finely named Kwame Geathers comes from genuine football stock. His uncle Jumpy Geathers also played in the NFL as did his father and cousin. This will be his second season in San Diego, where he hopes to impress not just with his 6’6 frame and his bloodline, but also with some interpretive dance material he has been working on for half time entertainment. That last part is something we’re hoping is true, but can offer no guarantees.

D.J Fluker

The offensive tackle Daniel Lee Jesus “D.J” Fluker has anything but fluked his way into the San Diego team. A first round pick in 2013 out of the University of Alabama, Fluker is an all-round athlete who in high school also recorded stand-out scores in shot put.

Honorary mention to Johnnie Troutman, as we love fish-related names (and hairstyles) around here.

Did we miss your favorite? Add one below the line! And vote here for your favorite Charger name!

*Disclaimer : project may be in no way magnificent, but allow us some hyperbole, this is sports coverage after all.

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