On Right-wing Shouting


“The one thing that is truly ugly is the climate of hate and intimidation, created by a noisy few, which makes the decent majority reluctant to air in public their views on anything controversial.”

– Edward Abbey

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Funeral Blues


He was my North, my South, my East and West
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last forever – I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can ever come to any good

– W. H. Auden

The 1st Declension


Source: Oulton. N.R.R. 2010. So You Really Want To Learn Latin Book I Tenterden, Great Britain: Galore Park Publishing (1999).

Chapter II – Nouns of the 1st declension

Nouns like: “mēnsa, mensae, f. = Table”

In the same way that verbs in Latin have endings to show who is doing the verb, and when, nouns in Latin have endings to show what part the noun is playing in the sentence. As with verbs, nouns are divided up into groups, and these are called declensions. Noun of the first declension decline like mēnsa:

Singular
Nominative – mēnsa – [Table (subject)]
Vocative – mēnsa – [O table! (addressing)]
Accusative – mēnsam – [Table (object)]
Genitive – mēnsae – [Of a table]
Dative – mēnsae – [To or for a table]
Ablative – mēnsā – [By, with or from a table]

Plural
Nominative – mēnsae – [Tables (subject)]
Vocative – mēnsae – [O tables! (addressing)]
Accusative – mēnsās – [Tables (object)]
Genitive – mēnsārum – [Of the tables]
Dative – mēnsīs – [To or for the tables]
Ablative – mēnsīs – [By, with or from the tables]

The Six Cases

  1. The Nominative case is used to show that the noun is the subject of the sentence, i.e. that the noun is the person doing the verb. E.g. ‘The girl loves the farmer’ = puella agricolam amat.
  2. The Vocative case is used for addressing the noun. E.g. ‘O sailors, you love the island’ = nautae, īnsulam amātis.
  3. The Accusative case is used to show that the noun is the object, i.e., the person or thing to which the verb is being done. E.g. ‘He loves the girl‘ = puellam amat.
  4. The Genitive case is used for ‘of’. The genitive case is the possessive case. In English we either use the word ‘of’ or else we use an apostrophe. In Latin, the ‘possessor’ (i.e. the noun that is doing the possessing) is put into the genitive case and may come before or after the other noun. E.g. ‘The table of the farmer‘ / ‘The farmer’s table’ = mēnsa agricolae.
  5. The Dative case is used for the indirect object and is generally translated with ‘to’ or ‘for’. E.g. ‘The farmer sings to the girl‘ = agricola puellae cantat.
  6. The Ablative case is used for the instrument by means of which we do something. It is often translated by the words from, by or with, but (in the case of the latter two) only when these mean by means of. E.g. ‘They overcome the inhabitants by means of wisdom‘ = incolās sapientiā superant.

N.B. Latin has no definite or indefinite article. Thus mēnsa = table or the table or a table – the choice is yours.

Age of Consent


The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by country and jurisdiction.

In Europe; Spain has the lowest age of consent with age of 13. Malta and Turkey are at the highest end with the age 18.

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly at all; the national age of consent in Japan is 13.

In Indonesia the national age of consent for heterosexual sexual activity is 19 years for males and 16 years for females. Ironically, the age of consent for homosexuals is 18.

Age of Consent Demonstration ~ London

Age of Consent Demonstration in London

In Iran, sex outside marriage, regardless of age, is illegal. The minimum age of marriage in Iran is 18 for men and 16 for women. However, ways around these regulations include temporary marriages called Nikah mut‘ah; a fixed-term marriage in Shi’a Islam. The duration of this type of marriage is fixed at its inception and is then automatically dissolved upon completion of its term. The marriage is contractual.

The age of consent in Angola is 12 which makes it the lowest recorded legal age of consent in the world. Bolivia however, has no specified age of consent; rather it is defined as puberty.

Tunisia has the highest age of consent; namely 20 years. Although, several Middle-Eastern states rule that sex can only take place in wedlock and any sexual activity outside the marriage is deemed a criminal offence.

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How Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think? (Part V)


[…]

‘What it means for a language to have grammatical gender is that words belonging to different genders get treated differently grammatically and words belonging to the same grammatical gender get treated the same grammatically. Languages can require speakers to change pronouns, adjective and verb endings, possessives, numerals, and so on, depending on the noun’s gender. For example, to say something like “my chair was old” in Russian (moy stul bil’ stariy), you’d need to make every word in the sentence agree in gender with “chair” (stul), which is masculine in Russian. So you’d use the masculine form of “my,” “was,” and “old.” These are the same forms you’d use in speaking of a biological male, as in “my grandfather was old.” If, instead of speaking of a chair, you were speaking of a bed (krovat’), which is feminine in Russian, or about your grandmother, you would use the feminine form of “my,” “was,” and “old.”

Does treating chairs as masculine and beds as feminine in the grammar make Russian speakers think of chairs as being more like men and beds as more like women in some way? It turns out that it does. In one study, we asked German and Spanish speakers to describe objects having opposite gender assignment in those two languages. The descriptions they gave differed in a way predicted by grammatical gender. For example, when asked to describe a “key” — a word that is masculine in German and feminine in Spanish — the German speakers were more likely to use words like “hard,” “heavy,” “jagged,” “metal,” “serrated,” and “useful,” whereas Spanish speakers were more likely to say “golden,” “intricate,” “little,” “lovely,” “shiny,” and “tiny.” To describe a “bridge,” which is feminine in German and masculine in Spanish, the German speakers said “beautiful,” “elegant,” “fragile,” “peaceful,” “pretty,” and “slender,” and the Spanish speakers said “big,” “dangerous,” “long,” “strong,” “sturdy,” and “towering.” This was true even though all testing was done in English, a language without grammatical gender. The same pattern of results also emerged in entirely nonlinguistic tasks (e.g., rating similarity between pictures). And we can also show that it is aspects of language per se that shape how people think: teaching English speakers new grammatical gender systems influences mental representations of objects in the same way it does with German and Spanish speakers. Apparently even small flukes of grammar, like the seemingly arbitrary assignment of gender to a noun, can have an effect on people’s ideas of concrete objects in the world.

In fact, you don’t even need to go into the lab to see these effects of language; you can see them with your own eyes in an art gallery. Look at some famous examples of personification in art — the ways in which abstract entities such as death, sin, victory, or time are given human form. How does an artist decide whether death, say, or time should be painted as a man or a woman? It turns out that in 85 percent of such personifications, whether a male or female figure is chosen is predicted by the grammatical gender of the word in the artist’s native language. So, for example, German painters are more likely to paint death as a man, whereas Russian painters are more likely to paint death as a woman.

The fact that even quirks of grammar, such as grammatical gender, can affect our thinking is profound. Such quirks are pervasive in language; gender, for example, applies to all nouns, which means that it is affecting how people think about anything that can be designated by a noun. That’s a lot of stuff!

I have described how languages shape the way we think about space, time, colors, and objects. Other studies have found effects of language on how people construe events, reason about causality, keep track of number, understand material substance, perceive and experience emotion, reason about other people’s minds, choose to take risks, and even in the way they choose professions and spouses. Taken together, these results show that linguistic processes are pervasive in most fundamental domains of thought, unconsciously shaping us from the nuts and bolts of cognition and perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions. Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives.’

– Boroditsky. L. (2009, June 11). How Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think? Edge.org

26/viii mmxii


Atoms are mostly empty space. Ernest Rutherford compared the inside of an atom as being, “like a few flies in a cathedral.”

King Henry and Anne Boleyn Deer shooting in Wi...

King Henry VIII with Anne Boleyn out deer hunting

King Henry VIII technically had either three or four wives, not six. He annulled is marriage to Anne of Cleves, the Pope declared is marriage to Anne Boleyn void because he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, and Henry declared his marriage to Catherine of Aragon void because it was illegal to marry his brothers wife, and she had previously been married to Henry’s brother Arthur.

The word Silver rhymes with Chilver, which is a female lamb.

Light can travel at 38 mph, through sodium chilled at -270 degrees Celsius. The speed of light is only constant in a vacuum.

All diamonds in the world come from the Earth’s surface, and are brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions. South Africa is the fifth largest producer of diamonds, after Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and Russia. Diamonds and graphite are both made out of pure carbon, but appear on opposite ends of the Mohs scale of hardness.

Epsom Derby


The Derby Stakes, popularly known as The Derby, internationally as the Epsom Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is scheduled for early June once a year.

Isinglass wins the Derby (1893)

1893, Isinglass wins the Derby

It is run at Epsom Downs over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs (a measure of distance in imperial units equal to one-eighth of a mile, equivalent to 220 yards, 660 feet, 40 rods, or 10 chains) and 10 yards. This imperial distance equals a total metric distance of 2,423 metres.

The name Derby has become synonymous with great races all over the world. However, the Epsom Derby is the original. It is one of Britain’s great national events transcending its own field of interest. In Great Britain the name Derby is always pronounced Dahr-bee, while in the USA it is incorrectly rendered as Der-bee.

It is Britain’s richest horse race, and the most prestigious of the country’s five Classics. It is sometimes referred to as the Blue Riband of the turf. The race serves as the middle leg of the Triple Crown, preceded by the 2,000 Guineas and followed by the St Leger, although the feat of winning all three is now rarely attempted.

The race itself has a long and rich history, of which some trivia is quite interesting to note:

  • 1805: One of the horses was brought down by a spectator.
  • 1825: Winning horse Middleton had never even learnt how to start a race and would never race again.
  • 1838: Winning horse Amato had never raced before winning the Derby, and would like the 1823 winner Middleton never race again.
  • 1844: The original winner Running Rein was disqualified as he was actually an ineligible four-year-old horse named Maccabeus.
  • 1887: The winning horse Merry Hampton wins the Derby without having ever won a race before – to this day it is the last horse to do so.
  • 1901: The first year in which a mechanical starting gate was used.
  • 1909: Winning horse Minoru was the first Derby winner owned by a reigning monarch, King Edward VII, who had previously won twice as Prince of Wales.
  • 1913: The 6/4 favourite Craganour, owned by Charles B. Ismay, brother of J. Bruce Ismay, one the directors of the White Star Line and survivor of the Titanic disaster, was controversially disqualified, the victory was subsequently awarded to the 100/1 outsider Aboyeur. Also, suffragette Emily Davison was tragically struck by King George V’s horse, Anmer, she died three days later.
  • 1921: The winner Humorist died two weeks after the race.
  • 1953: The horse Pinza wins the race for the jockey Sir Gordon Richards, after 27 unsuccessful attempts.
  • 1989: The runner-up Terimon is the longest-priced horse to finish the Derby at odds of 500/1.
  • 1996: Alex Greaves became the first (and so far only) lady jockey to ride in the race. She finished last on the filly Portuguese Lil.
  • 2008: Jim Bolger, the trainer of the winning horse New Approach, had left the horse entered for the race “by mistake”, having not initially intended to run.

Equestrian Terms


Cast
The state of an animal laying down that is unable to get up. May be due to illness or injury. Also occurs when a horse in a box stall rolls over against a wall, trapping its legs against the wall.

English:

A dam with its calf of the Equus Ferus Caballus variety

Dam
The mother of a horse.

Equitation
The skill of riding a horse.

False Martingale
A strap-in horse harness passing from the collar, through the horse’s legs to the belly band, to hold the collar in position. Unlike a true martingale it does not attach to the reins or head.

Gelding
A castrated male horse of any age.

Loriner
A maker of metal parts for harnesses, bridles, spurs, and other horse apparel.

Neigh or Whinny
The classic sound made by a horse. Generally a loud noise, described as a squeal followed by a nicker. Often is heard when a horse is looking for another horse or a person, sometimes used to call out to unseen animals.

Pointing
Resting a foreleg; indicating soreness in that leg or foot.

Quirt
Short-handled, flexible, weighted whip, of braided leather or rawhide.

Sire
The father of a horse.

Tree
The underlying solid structure or frame of a saddle, which is covered with leather.

Yearling
A horse that is between 12 and 24 months of age.