Heterochromia Iridis


In anatomy, heterochromia refers to a difference in colouration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin.

Heterochromia eyes blue on the outside with or...

An eye with partial heterochromia

Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin; a pigment. It may be inherited, or caused by genetic mosaicism –  the presence of two or more populations of cells with different genotypes in one individual who has developed from a single fertilized egg – other disease, or injury.

Heterochromia iridis is a heterochromia of the eye. There are two main kinds:

  • Complete heterochromia, one iris is a different colour from the other.
  • Partial heterochromia, part of one iris is a different colour from its remainder.

Eye colour, specifically the colour of the irises, is determined primarily by the concentration and distribution of melanin. The affected eye may be hyperpigmented (hyperchromic) or hypopigmented (hypochromic).

English: Heterochromia: Female cat with eyes o...

A cat with complete heterochromia

In humans, usually, an excess of melanin indicates hyperplasia (an increase in number of cells/proliferation of cells) of the iris tissues, whereas a lack of melanin indicates hypoplasia (a decrease in number of cells/proliferation of cells).

Although infrequently seen in humans, complete heterochromia is more frequently observed in other species, where it almost always involves one blue eye. The blue eye occurs within a white spot, where melanin is absent from the skin and hair.

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Why Do We Cry When Slicing An Onion?


When an onion is ruptured—such as by a knife—its cells break open and release irritating compounds that form a substance called propanethial sulfoxide, which is similar to sulfuric acid.

English: onion

A non-tearless Onion

As the nerve endings of your eyes’ corneas detect the irritant, your brain tells your eyes to produce tears to wash it away. In other words, all that crying is your body’s way of protecting your eyes. It also seems to help if you block the cornea by wearing goggles.

Using gene silencing technology, Dr. Colin Eady of New Zealand recently developed a so-called tearless onion by shutting down the gene in the vegetable that produces the irksome substance. It’s still in the development stage, however, and there’s no word yet on whether the new onion tastes better or worse than its weepy relative.

The terrifying-sounding science of gene silencing uses RNA interference to shut down specific genes.

By switching off the genes that give onions their sulfur-based eye-watering power, a Dr. Colin Eady and his collaborators in Japan have whipped up what appears to be a tear-proof onion.

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English Is A Complex Language (ii)


English is a complex language. Meanings of words are constantly changing and new definitions arise all the time. See if you can spot some new meanings in the alphabetic list below.

Abacus [Noun.]
Scandinavian minstrel quartet at the court of the 1st century Roman Emperors.

Billabong [Verb.]
To fine a drummer.

Bother [Adj.]
Comparative form of ‘Both’.

Brace Yourself [Expr.]
Do-it-yourself dentistry.

Catholic [Noun.]
Addicted to felines.

Cockney [Adj.]
Male chauvinistic.

Co-mobility [Noun.]
Disentangled hair.

Cruelty [Noun.]
The act of forced drinking of Earl Grey by mother-in-law.

Dreadnought [Noun.]
Fear of sexual intimacy.

Engage [Noun.]
Love measuring device.

Erosion [Noun.]
Red-light district of Jerusalem.

Exiles [Noun.]
Former islands.

Frust [Verb.]
Vexation over impenetrability.

Ironic [Noun.]
Strong.

Judo [Noun.]
Jewish fête.

Namely [Adj.]
George Berty Arthur Cecil Melchett-Saxenbourg.

Petty Criminal [Expr.]
Domesticated offender.

Posh [Noun.]
Opposite of ‘pull’ on Oxford University doors.

Profound [Noun.]
To find something before it is lost.

Protestant [Noun.]
Feminist relative.

Reverse [Verb.]
To verse again.

Tribes [Noun.]
Three b’s.

Tudor [Noun.]
Medieval teacher.

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The Sabine Women


‘Rome quickly filled up with all Romulus’ shepherd friends and a group of criminals, who came seeking sanctuary from the law in their own cities. Bet there weren’t many women. In fact there weren’t any.

Romulus invited girls from the neighbouring tribes to come to Rome but, as you might imagine, their fathers weren’t too keen. So he devised a cunning plan. He organised a festival in the city at which there was to be feasting and games and invited all the neighbouring people to come and watch. Eager to see the new city and to partake in the festivities, hundreds of men, particularly from the nearby Sabine tribe, came to Rome, bringing with them their wives and daughters. At a given signal, Romulus’ men seized the women and carried them off to make them their wives. The men, who had come unarmed, were forced to flee.’

– Oulton. N.R.R. 2010. So You Really Want To Learn Latin Book I Tenterden, Great Britain: Galore Park Publishing (1999) p. 44

Jailbait


Jailbait is American English slang for a person who is younger than the legal age of consent for sexual activity, but physically mature enough to be mistaken for an adult and be considered sexually desirable.

Synonyms for the term include: nymph, nymphet or nymphette. The French mainly use the term lolita.

The term literally denotes a person younger than the age of consent who could be used to trap a sexual criminal.

Although, it should be noted that the term is highly nuanced due to its criminal law connotations; therefore, the specific sort of person to which the term can refer to varies by jurisdiction and often even by the person who uses the term.

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Sugar and Hyperactivity


While many parents and teachers blame sugar consumption for an increase in hyperactive behaviour, scientific studies have failed to find a link. Studies have included kids who have ADHD as well as children without any pre-existing hyperactive behaviour.

Brown sugar crystals

Brown sugar crystals

‘Investigated the effects of sugar in hyperactive children. Seven-day dietary records were obtained on 28 hyperactive 4–7 yr olds, and independent, reliable observations of hyperactive behaviors were made on each S. Amount of sugar products consumed, ratio of sugar products to nutritional foods, and ratio of carbohydrates to protein were all significantly associated with amounts of destructive-aggressive and restless behaviors observed during free play. In contrast, the percentage of S‘s diet containing additives or salicylates (i.e., foods not allowed by the Feingold diet) was not significantly correlated with observed hyperactive behavior. A partial correlation procedure used to rule out 3rd variables that could have produced a spurious correlation between sugar consumption and observed behavior did not diminish the original correlations.’

– Prinz, R. J., Roberts, W. A., Hantman, E. (December 1980). Dietary correlates of hyperactive behavior in children Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Volume 48(6) p. 760-769.

We might have blamed sugar too quickly. In fact, in some studies parents – the most common observers of child behaviour – reported more hyperactive behaviour when they thought kids were given a sugar solution even though the kids were given a placebo. This indicates that the connection between hyperactive behaviour and sweets actually might be in the minds of the adults who are observing the children.

On top of that, the worrying evidence against the sugar-myth does not stop there. Sugar has also tested together with placebos:

‘The majority of controlled experimental studies, […] do not support the notion that sugar intake leads to an increase in activity or hyperactivity. Studies comparing a sucrose challenge with a placebo (usually saccharin or aspartame) did not find differences in behaviours such as activity, impulsivity or locomotion […] even when the tests were carried out in children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder […].’

– Bellisle. F. (2004). Effects of diet on behaviour and cognition in children British Journal of Nutrition, 92, Suppl. 2, S227–S232 p. 2

In view of the questionable behaviour and misjudgements of parents and when compared with a placebo there appears to be no conclusive evidence for a distinct correlation between sugar and hyperactivity.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that a number of studies have shown a relationship between artificial colourings and hyperactivity. However, there is some educated opposition to that view. At least for now, the effect of food colourings remains another controversial issue.

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Battle of Fishguard


The Battle of Fishguard was a military invasion of Great Britain by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition – the first major effort of multiple European monarchies to contain Revolutionary France. The brief campaign, which took place between the 22nd of February and 24th of February 1797 near Fishguard, a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales. It was the most recent effort by a foreign force that was able to land on Britain, and thus is often referred to as the last invasion of Britain.

Général_LOUIS_LAZARE_HOCHE

General Lazare Hoche

The invasion was the plan of General Lazare Hoche. He proposed to land 15,000 French troops in Ireland to support Theobald Wolfe Tone and the Irish Republicans at Bantry Bay. As a diversionary attack to draw away British reinforcements, two smaller forces would land at Great Britain, one in northern England near Newcastle and another in Wales.

The overall aim was to start an uprising against the English using the deep-rooted patriotism and nationalist pride in the Celtic regions of Britain, and march onwards to Bristol, Chester, Liverpool and finally London.

General Lazare Hoche had devised a three-pronged attack on Britain in support of Irish Republicans under Wolfe Tone. Two forces would land in Britain as a diversionary effort, while the main body would land in Ireland. However, poor weather and indiscipline halted two of the forces, although the third, aimed at landing in Wales and marching on Bristol, went ahead.

The invasion force consisted of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate, 800 of whom were irregulars.

Colonel William Tate, an Irish-American from South Carolina, was the Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force. He had fought against the British during the American War of Independence, but after a failed coup d’etat in New Orleans, he fled to Paris in 1795. Under his command was La Seconde Legion des Francs, more commonly known as La Legion Noire due to their use of captured British uniforms dyed very dark brown/black. The force consisted of 600 regular troops that Napoleon Bonaparte had not required in his conquest of Italy, and another 800 irregular troops which consisted of republicans, deserters, convicts and Royalist prisoners. They were all well-armed, and some of their officers were Irish.

Transported on four French warships Tate’s forces landed at Carregwastad Head near Fishguard on the 22nd of February, after a failed attempt to enter Fishguard harbour itself. However, upon landing, discipline broke down amongst the irregulars, many of whom deserted to loot nearby settlements.

English: Carregwastad Head, near Fishguard, Pe...

Carrewagstad Head near Fishguard

The remaining troops were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor’s forces on the 23rd of February Tate was finally forced into an unconditional surrender after a day of fighting. Later, the British captured two of the expedition’s vessels, a frigate and a corvette.

Almost a century later in 1853, amidst fears of another invasion by the French, Lord Palmerston conferred upon the Pembroke Yeomanry the battle honour Fishguard. This regiment has the unique honour of being the only regiment in the British Army, regular or territorial, that bears a battle honour for an engagement on the British mainland. It was also the first battle honour awarded to a volunteer unit.

The wreck of a rowing boat believed to belong to the invasion fleet was found in 2003 and lies off Strumble Head. England has seen more invasions than we remember.

Cases of Ménage à Trois


Ménage à trois is a French term which originally described a domestic arrangement in which three people having sexual relations occupy the same household – the phrase literally translates as ‘household of three’.

Kama Sutra Illustration

A Kama Sutra depiction of a threesome or ménage à trois

In contemporary usage, the meaning of the term has been extended to mean any living relationship between three people, whether or not sex is involved, but because it has also been extended to refer to the actual sexual act between three people, otherwise known as a threesome, the term retains its suggestive quality.

Some historic examples of a ménage are:

  • Sir William Hamilton, who served as British ambassador to Naples, his wife Emma Hamilton, and her lover, the British naval hero Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, from 1799 until Nelson’s death in 1805.
  • The Duke of Devonshire, his wife Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, and Lady Elizabeth Foster.
  • Henry Mond, 2nd Baron Melchett his wife, Amy Gwen Wilson, and writer Gilbert Cannan.
  • In Sweden in 1775, Count Adolf Fredrik Munck af Fulkila had reputedly been hired by King Gustaf III to assist him in the consummation of his marriage with Queen Sophie Magdalena. The king was to act as sexual instructor for the couple. His aid is alleged to have resulted in the birth of the future King Gustaf IV Adolf in 1778. By further rumours, he was the lover of the king as well as of the queen. These rumours eventually had serious political implications in the end of the House of Holstein-Gottorp’s rule in Sweden.
  • The German intellectual Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer, her husband Mattheus Rodde and the French philosopher Charles de Villers from 1794 until her husband’s death in 1810.
  • Poet Ezra Pound, his wife Dorothy Shakespear and his mistress, concert violinist Olga Rudge.
  • Surrealist painters Max Ernst, Paul Éluard and his wife Gala, later Gala Dalí.
  • The writer Aldous Huxley and his first wife Maria, with Mary Hutchinson a friend of art critic Clive Bell.
  • The author E. Nesbit lived with her husband Hubert Bland and his mistress Alice Hoatson, raising their children as her own.
  • William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston lived with and shared a relationship with Olive Byrne.
  • Philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Rée and their mutual girlfriend Lou Andreas-Salomé lived in a so-called ‘academic commune’ around 1882.
  • The actress and stage director Edith Craig who lived with and was in a relationship with the dramatist Christabel Marshall and the artist Clare Atwood from 1916 to 1947.
  • The actress Hattie Jacques lived with her husband, the actor John Le Mesurier and her lover John Schofield.
  • Speculation that, in 1547–8, Queen Catherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII, and her fourth husband Thomas Seymour were involved in a ménage with the future Queen Elizabeth, is probably exaggerated, although there were well attested episodes of sexually charged horseplay involving the three.
  • Russian and Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky lived with Lilya Brik, who was considered his muse, and her husband Osip Brik, an avant garde writer and critic.
  • British actress Tilda Swinton lives in Nairn, near to Scottish painter John Byrne and their twin children: a son, Xavier, and a daughter, Honor. She travels with her partner Sandro Kopp, a German/New Zealand painter. She has been with Kopp since 2004 and the relationship has Byrne’s blessing. In an interview, Swinton commented on her domestic situation: “It’s the way we have been for nearly four years. I’m very fortunate. It takes some extraordinary men to make a situation like that work.”

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