30/ix mmxii


Tomatoes were originally yellow: hence the Italian name pomodoro meaning ‘golden apple’. Red tomatoes came later, discovered in Mexico by two Jesuit priests who brought their seeds back to Europe.

Grapefruit

Citrus Paradisi or Grapefruit

In the 16th century, Duke Cosimo III of Florence, who was a vegetarian, had 232 different varieties of pear served at his court in a single year.

The Italians make a brand of lemonade called Dribly, and in Greece you can buy a lemon-and-lime drink called Zit.

Latin has no word for ‘lemon’.

Grapefruit have nothing to do with grapes. They don’t taste or look like grapes. The word is a mistranslation from the French grappe-fruit meaning ‘bunch-fruit’ or ‘cluster-fruit’. Grapefruit grow in clusters on trees.

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Pork Barrel


Pork barrel is the appropriation – the act of setting apart something for its application to a particular usage, to the exclusion of all other uses – of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.

Caricature of American politician Sarah Palin,...

A caricature of Sarah Palin criticised for pork barrel politics

The usage originated in American English. In election campaigns, the term is used in derogatory fashion to attack opponents. Scholars, however, use it as a technical term regarding legislative control of local appropriations.

The term pork barrel politics usually refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes.

After the American Civil War, the term came to be used in a derogatory sense.

By the 1870s, references to pork were common in Congress, and the term was further popularized by a 1919 article by Chester Collins Maxey who claimed that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.

Generally, a barrel of salt pork was a common larder item in 19th century households, and could be used as a measure of the family’s financial well-being. For example, in his 1845 novel The Chainbearer, James Fenimore Cooper wrote:

“I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel.”

Pornography [Noun.]


A term from 1857 meaning the ‘description of prostitutes,’ from the French pornographie, from the Greek pornographos meaning ‘(one) writing of prostitutes’.

Prostitute c.1890

An image from circa 1890 of a contemporary prostitute

From porne ‘prostitute,’ originally meaning ‘bought, purchased’ with an original notion of ‘female slave sold for prostitution’.

It is related to pernanai ‘to sell,’ from the -pie root. The per- ‘to traffic in, to sell’ is related to the Latin pretium meaning ‘price,’ plus graphein ‘to write’.

Originally used of classical art and writing; application to modern examples began 1880s. Main modern meaning ‘salacious writing or pictures’ represents a slight shift from the etymology, though classical depictions of prostitution usually had this quality.

Pornographer is earliest form of the word, attested from 1850. Pornocracy from 1860 is ‘the dominating influence of harlots,’ used specifically of the government of Rome and the papacy during the first half of the 10th century by Theodora and her daughters.

Frotteurism and Chikan


Frotteurism refers to a paraphilic interest in rubbing, usually one’s pelvis or erect penis, against a non-consenting person for sexual gratification. It may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur.

A sign on a station platform in Osaka, Japan, ...

A public transport ‘Ladies Only’ sign used in Japan

In Japan, street groping is called chikan and a man who commits such acts is also called chikan, while a woman is called chijo.

Crowded trains are a favourite location for groping and a 2001 survey conducted in two Tokyo high schools revealed that more than 70% of students had been groped while travelling on them. As part of the effort to combat the problem, some railway companies designate women-only passenger cars during rush hours.

A lot of Japanese women who are harassed in this way are often too embarrassed to tell anyone, let alone report it.

While the term is not defined in the Japanese legal system, vernacular usage of the word describes acts that violate several laws. Although crowded trains are the most frequent targets, another common setting is bicycle parking areas, where people who bend over while unlocking their locks are targets. Also, Chikan is often featured in Japanese pornography.

On a related note, at the time of writing Japanese Smartphones are programmed in such a way that the shutter-sound made by the camera is not mutable, even when the phone is on mute mode. In other words, the sound the phone makes when it takes a photograph cannot be muted. This is because a lot of Japanese women who wear skirts are likely to fall victim to upskirt photography by men in a crowded public location. This line of photography is a paraphilia in voyeurism where the harasser will try to photograph a women’s panties while holding the camera under her skirt – ideally without her noticing.

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The 2nd Conjugation


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

Chapter IV – Verbs: the 2nd conjugation

Example verb: “moneō, monēre, monuī, monitum = I warn / advise”

The Present Tense
– tells us what is happening now.

moneō – I warn – [1st person singular]
monēs – You (sing.) warn – [2nd person singular]
monet – He/she/it warns – [3rd person singular]
monēmus – We warn – [1st person plural]
monētis – You (pl.) warn – [2nd person plural]
monent – They warn – [3rd person plural]

N.B. the Latin present tense in English can be love, am loving, or do love.

The Future Tense
– tells us what will or shall be happening in the future.

monē – I shall warn, will warn
monēbis – You (sing.) shall warn, will warn
monēbit – He/she/it shall warn, will warn
monēbimus – We shall warn, will warn
monēbitis – You (pl.) shall warn, will warn
monēbunt – They shall warn, will warn

The Imperfect Tense
– tells us what was happening or used to happen in the past.

monēbam – I was warning, used to warn
monēbās – You (sing.) were warning, used to warn
monēbat – He/she/it was warning, used to warn
monēbāmus – We were warning, used to warn
monēbātis – You (pl.) were warning, used to warn
monēbant – They were warning, used to warn

The Perfect Tense
– tells us what has happened in the past.

monuī – I have warned
monuistī – You (sing.) have warned
monuit – He/she/it has warned
monuimus – We have warned
monuistis – You (pl.) have warned
monuērunt – They have warned

16th and 17th Century Squirting


In the 16th century, the Dutch physician Laevinius Lemnius, referred to how a woman “draws forth the man’s seed and casts her own with it.” when referring to female ejaculation.

Nederlands: portret van Reinier de Graaf

Engraving of the Dutch anatomist Reinier de Graaf

In the 17th century, François Mauriceau described glands at the urethral meatus that “pour out great quantities of saline liquor during coition, which increases the heat and enjoyment of women.”

This century saw an increasing understanding of female sexual anatomy and function, in particular the work of the Bartholin family in Denmark.

In the 17th century the Dutch anatomist Regnier de Graaf wrote an influential treatise on the reproductive organs Concerning the Generative Organs of Women which is much cited in the literature on this topic.

De Graaf discussed the original controversy but supported the Aristotelian view where he identified the source as the glandular structures and ducts surrounding the urethra:

[VI:66-7] The urethra is lined by a thin membrane. In the lower part, near the outlet of the urinary passage, this membrane is pierced by large ducts, or lacunae, through which pituito-serous matter occasionally discharges in considerable quantities.

Between this very thin membrane and the fleshy fibres we have just described there is, along the whole duct of the urethra, a whitish membranous substance about one finger-breadth thick which completely surrounds the urethral canal […] The substance could be called quite aptly the female prostatae or corpus glandulosum, glandulous body […]The function of the prostatae is to generate a pituito-serous juice which makes women more libidinous with its pungency and saltiness and lubricates their sexual parts in agreeable fashion during coitus.

[VII:81] The discharge from the female prostatae causes as much pleasure as does that from the male prostatae.

He identified [XIII:212] the various controversies regarding the ejaculate and its origin, but stated he believed that this fluid “which rushes out with such impetus during venereal combat or libidinous imagining” was derived from a number of sources, including the vagina, urinary tract, cervix and uterus.

He appears to identify Skene’s ducts, when he writes [XIII: 213] “those [ducts] which are visible around the orifice of the neck of the vagina and the outlet of the urinary passage receive their fluid from the female parastatae, or rather the thick membranous body around the urinary passage.” However he appears not to distinguish between the lubrication of the perineum during arousal and an orgasmic ejaculate when he refers to liquid “which in libidinous women often rushes out at the mere sight of a handsome man.”

Further on [XIII:214] he refers to “liquid as usually comes from the pudenda in one gush.” However, his prime purpose was to distinguish between generative fluid and pleasurable fluid, in his stand on the Aristotelian semen controversy where he argued that the female contributes what might be called prepared matter; all it needs is the presence within it of the heat from the male and it begins a more or less lengthy and complicated developmental process, which he analogizes to a sort of automaton performing a complex set of coordinated movements once it is set in motion.

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Dabbawalas


A dabbawala, also spelled as dabbawalla or dabbawallah; literally meaning box person, is a person in India, most commonly found in the city of Mumbai, who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting the freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers, mostly in the suburbs, delivering it to their respective workplaces and returning the empty boxes back to the customer’s residence by using various modes of transport.

A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle

A collecting dabbawala on a bicycle

Instead of going home for lunch or paying for a meal in a café, many office workers have a cooked meal sent either from their home, or sometimes from a caterer who essentially cooks and delivers the meal in lunch boxes and then have the empty lunch boxes collected and re-sent the same day. This is usually done for a monthly fee. The meal is cooked in the morning and sent in lunch boxes carried by dabbawalas, who have a complex association and hierarchy across the city of Mumbai.

In the morning, a collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas either from a worker’s home or from the dabba makers. The dabbas have some sort of distinguishing mark on them, such as a colour or symbol.

The dabbawala then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort and bundle the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box. The markings include the rail station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered.

At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

The barely literate and barefoot delivery men form links in the extensive delivery chain, there is no system of documentation at all. A simple colour coding system doubles as an identification system for the destination and recipient. There are no multiple elaborate layers of management either — just three layers.

Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the form of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the dabbas, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi cap called a topi. The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit. Each dabbawala, regardless of role, gets paid about two to four thousand rupees per month. That equates to around £25–50 or US$40–80.

English: metallic lunch box Català: carmanyola...

A typical home-cooked lunch delivered by a dabbawala

In 2002, Forbes Magazine found its reliability to be that of a six sigma standard — a standard method which seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects or errors and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It is a standard that is only given to an industry which makes less than one mistake every 3,4 million tasks.

More than 175,000 to 200,000 lunch boxes get moved every day by an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas, all with an extremely small nominal fee and with utmost punctuality.

According to a recent survey, the dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries, despite most of the delivery staff being illiterate. That works out to an accuracy level of 99,9996%.

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23/ix mmxii


Pomology is the study of edible fruit. Carpology is the study of fruit whether they are edible or not.

Common culinary fruits.

Common fruit

Tomatoes, as everyone knows, are fruits not vegetables. Fewer people know that avocadoes, pumpkins, coconuts, cucumbers, peas, beans (green as well as all other beans), peppers, corn, aubergines, squash and all kinds of nuts are also fruits.

The frilled shark holds the world record for the longest pregnancy in nature: three years.

One of the exhibits at the Great Exhibition of 1851 was a vacuum coffin that preserved the body long enough for far-flung friends to attend the funeral.

For some unknown reason, people nearly always cut apples in half vertically. If you cut one in half horizontally, the core makes the shape of a perfect five- pointed star.