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I have an Earl to which I was born
not on the beach and without a thorn
No Rand; I am not the Grail
I assist your game of cards, no fail

Without my walls I'm not complete
the epitome of me is no easy feat
when I bleed, don't call that Cop
for he is unable to make it stop

Longer and longer I grow hard
but I am not the male shard
evolved with gluttonous imagination
created with utter anticipation

I am a dam to those inside
terrible by definition, porous my hide
Humble farmers are my starts
Suffocated so as to extend my parts

Rife with many shapes and proportions
A magnitude of functions suit my options
heat me from both sides for fun
I'm not, not insane I'm now not one

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully no one will criticise this until it has been answered, then feel free to judge by your own criteria that you arrived at independantly $\endgroup$ – Oblongamous Dec 6 '14 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a reason "Cop" is capitalized? $\endgroup$ – warspyking Dec 6 '14 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @warspyking Hi, the 3 names are reference to users past and present. Yet it still works if they are not capitals. It was merely a homage, to the inspirations of my riddles. Since I am not cyanide, quite the opposite. $\endgroup$ – Oblongamous Dec 6 '14 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ @McMagister There is only one answer for the riddle that describes each one in turn. No combining is needed at all :) $\endgroup$ – Oblongamous Dec 9 '14 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ @BmyGuest depending what bread you use, white or brown is a catalyst for both constipation and regularity respectively $\endgroup$ – Oblongamous Dec 10 '14 at 20:19
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The answer is

A sandwich (some clues suggest subs in particular but most clues apply to any sandwich). Credit to Raystafarian for suggesting the idea.

I have an Earl to which I was born
not on the beach and without a thorn
No Rand; I am not the Grail
I assist your game of cards, no fail

The Earl is the Earl of Sandwich who invented sandwiches. He did it in order to help him eat quickly so he could focus on playing cards.

Without my walls I'm not complete
the epitome of me is no easy feat
when I bleed, don't call that Cop
for he is unable to make it stop

A sandwich is not complete without its "walls" of bread. The epitome of sandwiches are no easy feat to eat. When a sandwich is bleeding ketchup or other condiments, a cop is of no use.

Longer and longer I grow hard
but I am not the male shard
evolved with gluttonous imagination
created with utter anticipation

A sub is long and grows hard when left for a long time. As a culinary delight, it is designed by people with "gluttonous imagination" and prepared by chefs with "utter anticipation".

I am a dam to those inside
terrible by definition, porous my hide
Humble farmers are my starts
Suffocated so as to extend my parts

The sandwich bread is a dam to the filling inside. A sub is "terrible", as in "subpar", and bread is porous. Flour, a critical component of bread is created by humble farmers, while yeast is sacrificed to make bread rise.

Rife with many shapes and proportions
A magnitude of functions suit my options
heat me from both sides for fun
I'm not, not insane I'm now not one

Sandwiches come in many shapes and proportions. They have many options for fillings and are a common sight at the snack table of many functions (meetings). Sandwiches can be heated on both sides to become a panini. Sandwich is one item, but in order to create it you need to slice bread into two pieces.

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  • $\begingroup$ In what sad world do you live where a sub is considered "subpar"? ;) $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Dec 10 '14 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ A suboptimal subculture inhabited by subhumans subsidized by a subsection of the hard-working populace, apparently :) $\endgroup$ – McMagister Dec 10 '14 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Oblongamous Can you explain "without a thorn" and "No Rand; I am not the Grail"? $\endgroup$ – McMagister Dec 10 '14 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ @McMagister "the best thing since sliced bread". Alot of sayings I know of in england refer to bread/sandwiches being the thing to beat. Thorn is merely a cafe near me that has decent sandwiches. I thought it wouldnt matter to much and I spose you can say you dont want a thorny sandiwch or it would rip your gums apart. $\endgroup$ – Oblongamous Dec 10 '14 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ I went ahead and added my take on the answer's duality, just for completeness. Good job, +1 $\endgroup$ – Raystafarian Dec 10 '14 at 12:58
3
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I think this is the right answer...

Corn

Longer and longer I grow hard
but I am not the male shard
evolved with gluttonous imagination
created with utter anticipation

Husk of Corn - Grows longer and harder and very modified over the years and has a very long history

I am a dam to those inside
terrible by definition, porous my hide
Humble farmers are my starts
Suffocated so as to extend my parts

Corn Husk is a dam to those inside because it keeps the cob and kernels inside. Also, husk by definition means poor, or terrible. Also the corn can only continue growing while it is encapsulated inside it's shuck.

Rife with many shapes and proportions
A magnitude of functions suit my options
heat me from both sides for fun
I'm not, not insane I'm now not one

Corn has many uses - one of those is popcorn which is fun when you heat the kernels - but when you separate the kernels, it's no longer one unit of corn.

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3
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Just to explore the idea, I want to add in to the accepted answer that it's a

Submarine (Sandwich)

Let's have a go at defining the machine part to go in conjunction with the accepted answer:

I have an Earl to which I was born
not on the beach and without a thorn
No Rand; I am not the Grail
I assist your game of cards, no fail

An Earl is on par with the status of a Royal Navy Officer, some of which commanded submarines. The first British submarine was captained in 1901 by Sir Reginald Bacon, a Royal Navy Officer and eventual Admiral

Without my walls I'm not complete
the epitome of me is no easy feat
when I bleed, don't call that Cop
for he is unable to make it stop

Clearly submarines would fail without being completely enclosed and pressurized. This was quite a technological achievement. If it were to bleed (spring a leak) the blood (water) could not be stopped without specialized mechanics or surfacing

Longer and longer I grow hard
but I am not the male shard
evolved with gluttonous imagination
created with utter anticipation

Submarines are becoming longer and more armored as technology advances (nuclear submarines). It's evolved for over a century (for Britain), getting bigger and better every class (from Holland-Class of around 60ft to Vanguard-Class of around 500ft)

I am a dam to those inside
terrible by definition, porous my hide
Humble farmers are my starts
Suffocated so as to extend my parts

A dam to those inside, protecting soldiers from the water. While first commissioned, they were constructed in a "yacht shed" secretly and referred to as pontoons. These allude to the idea that ships were initially made of wood rather than steel. Wood is essentially porous and tree farming would have an impact on landscape and environment as demand increased

Rife with many shapes and proportions
A magnitude of functions suit my options
heat me from both sides for fun
I'm not, not insane I'm now not one

Submarines come in many lengths and functions (nuclear, ballistic missile, etc). Each class of submarine has different features that allow it to perform in specialized missions. The "heat me from both sides for fun" refers to the submarine sandwich, and the last line indicates that the riddle is speaking of two things - The submarine sandwich and the underwater watercraft - submarine.

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