fluffers and backflips


Scienceblogs.com has a great article about the bean weevil’s spikey penis. Two scientists have been investigating the evolutionary role these spikes play…


The genitals of different beetle populations are very varied and to study them under a microscope, Hotzy and Arnqvist first had to fluff their subjects. They anaesthetised the males with carbon dioxide, and erected their penises with an “artificial inflater” – a microscopic plastic tip connected to a pump.

Spikes are all very well but it’s the idea of an insect penis pump that I find most intriguing. Further research reveals that the phalloblaster which pumps pressurized alcohol into moth and beetle genitalia was invented several years ago by Australians. 

We Aussies seem to spend a lot of time reading and writing about alcohol, wildlife and strange sexual habits. Lizards rate a mention at the ABC Science blog. 


“When Lake Eyre lizards copulate the male bites the female’s neck, climbs on top of her, wraps his tail around hers and inserts one of his two penises. This can be hazardous to the health of the female because when the males bite them on the neck this can pierce the female’s spine and result in death.

Therefore once the female’s eggs have been fertilised, she will try to avoid mating. You get this runaway process where males evolve elaborate ways of trying to gain matings and females evolve elaborate ways of avoiding them.


f this doesn’t work, they throw themselves on their backs and reveal their bright orange underside. But what could be the evolutionary benefit to females of spending time on their back?


leave your theory in the comments section 🙂

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 8:36 am  Comments (25)  

bovine love


Many countries have had mad rulers and one of the maddest was the first Sultan Ibrahim.  He spent the first 23 years of his life locked up in a beautiful but small room with only deaf mutes and barren concubines for comfort (some of my male readers might think that’s not such a bad thing).


When he did inherit the throne his mother did virtually all the ruling, supplying him with virgins and aphrodisiacs to keep him busy.


“Ibrahim used to drench his beard, clothes and room hangings with perfumes, especially the exotic ambergris. He had a fetish for furs: his clothes, curtains and walls were all decorated with fur. His pillows were stuffed with it and he had a preference for making love on sable skins. Ibrahim collected books expressing the various ways of coition and he was said to have invented some new and previously unknown positions himself. Once, Ibrahim happened to see the private parts of a wild young cow and according to Cantemir, “he sent the shape of them in gold all over the Empire with orders to make enquiries whether a woman made in just that manner could be found for his lust“.


A woman fitting the description was found in Armenia and she was received into the harem. Her name was Sechir Para (“Sugar Cube”) and she weighed around 150 kilograms. Ibrahim became madly infatuated with her. 


artwork by Namio

The Ottoman Empire was a cruel one. Ibrahim’s half brother Osman ll was killed by compression of the testicles and Sugar Cube died from poisoning after ground glass and chopped hair was added to her coffee. Ibrahim suffered the same fate as many of the Ottoman rulers – he was strangled with a silk rope by a deaf mute eunuch. 

Wonder what happened to the gold plated cow vagina…….


Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 9:07 am  Comments (32)  

give birth to a kidney

Back in the 1980s a Chinese newspaper reported the case of Yan Zhongshan, who had discovered an amazing tonic made from ants.


“Yan Zhongshan elderly, 40 years ago began to catch the ants, through several years of practice, to explore a set of collection, processing method. Since then, the daily processing of himself eating ants 2 ~ 3 pills, insist 40 years. When 64 years old had the youngest son, after 73 years old grow new teeth, when 87 years old once again grow new teeth, 97 years old ears are not deaf, eyes are not flowers, clear-minded, energetic.”


(I think this has been run through babelfish, but you get the gist don’t you?)

“English explorer of the Amazon River in Brazil forest, found one of the most old people. The women called Turba patch, documents to prove that she has been 231 years old, the locals a great admirer of hers. Turba eat what a panacea, can live more than two centuries? medical experts study found that the elderly has always been the prehistoric diet: eat peanut shell, apple core, cacti and so on, the only animal food to eat is ants.”


cacti (1868) elizabeth twining

Already I’m excited about the money we’ll save at the Gimcrack by serving peanut shells, apple cores, cacti and ants three times a day. Though the idea of CK or Duc living to be 231 is worrying.

“Homeland medicine, for the birth of the kidney, and human growth, aging is closely related. Kidney deficiency caused by aging, ants are a mild tonic medicine. Consider a number of Materia Medica, ants salty, sour, temperature, impotence, enhance sexual function. The elderly still have some ability to bear children and the elderly white-haired eat ants, and ants are the kidney has a direct bearing on the gong.”


So it would appear the underrated ant can enhance sexual function and assist the elderly white haired to give birth to new kidneys. or children. or maybe even gongs. Some ants are so evolved they can even clone themselves. 


“Scientists believe colonies of the leafcutter species are all female and thrive without sexNative to Central and South America, the insects reproduce only when the queens clone themselves. No male leafcutters have ever been found and, she said, “even if a male were theoretically to appear, we’re not sure they could mate any more“.


image by Cathy Wilcox

Maybe they need to take up cannibalism………………………………….

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 8:35 am  Comments (31)  

the everything desiderata

Yesterday we heeded Francis Galton’s advice on how to choose a suitable servant for your next intrepid journey. Today he helps us decide what to pack

It is impossible to make a list suitable for all the countries you may visit so I have selected as my example a desiderata for South Africa. In that country the traveller has to take everything with him, for there are no civilised  settlers, and the natural products of the country are of little value. Rude travel is likely to be experienced, as in North Africa, in Australia and in Southern Siberia. 


Two gimlets, a bit of beeswax, bit of Turkey gone, black silk, gut, scalpel, blunt pointed bistoury, forceps, an iron, turnscrews, nipple-wrench, spare nipples,


spare screw for cock, rings, buckles, inflatable pontoon, heavy ammunition for sporting purposes, protracors, nautical almanac, aresenical soap, blood-absorbing powder, butterfly net, pannikin, coffee-mill, 5 days of jerked meat, brandy, rum, presents for each black man…..


That latter item is of especial interest to Mr Galton

“The chief at Lake Ngami told Mr Andersson his beads would be of little use for the women about the place “already grunted like pigs” under the burden of those they wore which had been received from previous travellers.”


When it comes to doctors and medicine, he also lacks enthusiasm. 

“The traveller who is sick away from help, may console himself with the proverb, that “though there is a great difference between a good physician and a bad one, there is very little between a good one and none at all. The traveller will want Warburg’s fever-drops; mustard-paper for blistering; heartburn lozenges; lint; lunar-caustic, in a proper holder, to touch old sores with, and for snake-bites; a scalpel and a blunt-pointed bistoury, with which to open abcesses. Bush Remedies.–Emetics.–For want of proper physic, drink a charge of gunpowder in a tumblerful of warm water of soap-suds, and tickle the throat.


image of gunpowder horn found here

Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 8:51 am  Comments (31)  

travelling with troublesome servants

Francis Galton encouraged young men of means to take up the art of travel. He even published a book of handy hints on the subject, paying particular attention to obtaining the right servant.


“Great allowances should be made for the reluctant co-operation of servants. It will, perhaps, surprise a leader who, having ascertained to what frugal habits a bush servant is inured, learns on trial, how desperately he clings to those few luxuries which he has always had. Thus, speaking generally, a Cape servant is happy on meat, coffee, and biscuit; but, if the coffee or biscuit has to be stopped for a few days, he is ready for mutiny.


bacon coffee cup found here

The best size for a party depends on many considerations. It should admit of being divided into two parts, each strong enough to take care of itself, and in each of which is one person at least able to write a letter,–which bush servants, excellent in every other particular, are too often unable to do.  


The general duties that a servant should be bound to are (under penalty of his pay being stopped) to maintain discipline and to do all in his power to promote the success of the expedition. 


On engaging natives, the people with whom they have lived, and to whom they have become attached and learnt to fear, should impress on them that, unless they bring you back in safety, they must never show their faces again, nor expect the balance of their pay.


If some of the natives take their wives, it gives great life to the party. They are of very great service, and cause no delay. 


They are invaluable in picking up and retailing information and gossip. Women were made for labour: one of them can carry or haul as much as two men can do. They also pitch our tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night. The very licking of their fingers, in scarce times, is sufficient for their subsistence. It always seems to me that a hard-worked woman is better and happier for her work and it is in the nature of women to be fond of carrying weights…..”



Published in: on April 25, 2009 at 9:00 am  Comments (31)  

t shirt friday 24.4.2009

I’m happily ensconced in my new home. There’s a glimpse of the conservatory in the first of these photos though I wish I’d moved the mop and bucket first. The frangipani was a gift from tetherdcow.com

2 4

6 8

My bedroom is painted a lovely restful green and the bed sits up on a plinth – I even have to climb a step ladder to reach it – how much fun is that? Silverstar is playing along, so is Sledpress.  Anyone else up for t shirt friday?

update: renalfailure is playing along now too

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 9:07 am  Comments (35)  

supernurse moves on corset friday

this will be my last post for a week or so as I’m moving tomorrow and won’t have access to my computer until at least next Wednesday (maybe not even then…. 😦 )


so if you could all collectively meditate on making my furniture as light as air it would be greatly appreciated…… see you soon…..

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 7:00 am  Comments (86)  

the porn queen and the goose

If you’re interested, you can read an obituary of Melvin Harris here. It details his life as an oboe enthusiast, radio and television personality, author and researcher of Jack the Ripper. But it’s the story he told about world famous oboist Leon Goossens that interests me the most.

In 1952 Goosens lost his diary while walking across a field. The field was searched but the diary remained hidden in the grass. Over a year later he was walking across the same field when he spotted the lost diary. By then it was a battered relic, the elements had warped and split its bindings open, revealing that the covers had been stiffened with squares of newspaper in the manner used at that time. 

By strange coincidence, the piece of newsprint he uncovered was a 19 year old gossip column referring to his own marriage in 1933…..


Leon had an older brother named Eugene Aynsley Goossens who was very well known in Australia as the conductor of the Sydney Symphony.  

In the early 1950s, Goossens met Rosaleen Norton, the so-called Witch of Kings Cross. Norton was known as an artist of the grotesque and for her interest in the occult and erotica, which Goossens secretly shared. They conducted an intense affair, exchanging a number of passionate letters; although Goossens asked Norton to destroy all of them, she kept a bundle hidden behind a sofa.


In early 1956, Goossens visited Europe, unaware that Sydney police were already in possession of his letters to Norton and photographs of her occult activities. When Goossens returned to Australia on 9 March 1956, he was detained at Sydney Airport, following a tip-off by informants in London; his bags were searched by customs officials, who found a large amount of what was then considered pornographic material, which included photographs, prints, books, a spool of film, some rubber masks, and sticks of incense.


Coincidentally, Rosaleen Norton’s house is within walking distance of Gimcrack Hospital……..

Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 7:27 am  Comments (29)  

champion of the battel

The story of the “identical” Erdington murders can be read here. Basically it’s about two murders with striking similarities that happened 157 years apart. On 27 May 1817, 20 year old Mary Ashford was found dead in Erdington, and on the same day in 1974, 20 year old Barbara Forrest’s body was found in the same place.  There are many identical details about these two cases including the surname  of the men who were arrested for the crimes. They were both called Thornton.


(Not Thornton, I just want an excuse to post Stalin’s mugshot)

The Thornton accused of Mary’s murder made legal history by being the last man in Britain to call forth an old law……

“Lord Ellenborough allowed Thornton to take advantage of an archaic law called ‘Trial by Battel’. This ancient right necessitated Thornton renewing his plea of ‘not guilty’ before throwing down a gauntlet from the dock. This signified a challenge to William Ashford for a fight to the death, unless one of them surrendered or was incapacitated during the fight.


Abraham Thornton held what resembled a heavy leather mitten with a trailing feather attached, and invoked the ancient English law. He declared he was innocent and lifted the gauntlet above his head, then hurled it down from the dock as the pressmen scribbled furiously.


Because William Ashford had not responded to Abraham Thornton’s challenge by 21 April in the following year, the latter was thoroughly discharged. 

The Wager of Battel was founded on the belief that God would give victory to the party in the right. The kings maintained control over the practice, and it came to be reserved for cases affecting royal interests, such as serious criminal cases or disputes over land.

A party could, therefore, hire someone, a champion, to swear that the champion’s father had told him on his deathbed that the party was the true owner of the land. The other party also produced a champion who swore just the opposite. The winner was held to have good title to the land. It was said that many monasteries, which owned vast tracts of land, had virtual stables of champions in waiting to settle disputes that might arise.

katie-sandwina josephine-blatt-minerva-1

female champions found here

Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 7:06 am  Comments (29)