Posts Tagged ‘ship’

Genetics and education (part 2)

It’s Wednesday morning and time for my weekly contributor, Rambler5319, to take over with his guest post.

This week we’re looking at the second part of the subject I started last week (13.11.13).

If you didn’t catch it here’s the intro again and then I’ll go on to the second two speakers and the subjects they covered.

The results of a study (in the UK) and a recent book (G For Genes) about the academic achievements of 10,000 sets of identical twins have caused something of an uproar. Why? Firstly because the report was leaked to a newspaper when it was meant for internal use only and secondly because of its potential implications. The senior policy advisor to the UK Government’s Education Secretary reckons that genetics are the largest factor in educational achievement.

Let me explain. The identical twins were born 1994-96 and the results of their GCSE exams (at 16 yrs old) have been analysed. A recent radio programme (The Moral Maze, Radio 4) tackled the subject and one of the authors of the book quoted a figure saying that 52% of the variance in the results was down to genetics. Their suggestion was that we should consider the idea of “genetically sensitive schools”. Wow! Does that make you think (like me): “I wonder where this is going?”

If you fancy a listen to the discussion programme here’s the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03fdjsp

Ok so the next speaker (the third in the prog) was asked if he thought that using genetics for human enhancement is immoral. His answer was that it was immoral “not to use it”. He believes humans don’t want sickness and ultimately death so if there is a way to get round these by using genetic information he thinks we should. However the panel made a good point on this by saying that surely our humanity (and its limited lifespan) is what gives us the ability to display certain characteristics. The example was given of say a normal person who walks through a minefield is showing great courage but if that person is immortal they cannot demonstrate courage because they cannot be killed by stepping onto a mine. I think you can see the point – as humans with a certain lifespan we can demonstrate things that an immortal person cannot. The panel believed that imperfections in everyone are what make us what we are as humans and the idea of getting rid of these takes us into a very difficult area. His response was that certain characteristics (not all) should be got rid of.

He then took the discussion into the area of cruelty. He believes everyone would like to get rid of cruelty. If they could discover what makes people cruel then they could change something in the genetic make up to stop it. One of the panel’s responses was quite simply – the idea is mad. The research seems to be going into the area of altering what is a human being. Who is going to do the deciding of what (and who?) is changed? You? Me? The scientist? The Government?

The last speaker felt that this whole area is just a short step away from eugenics. History demonstrates that genetic research has definitely gone down the wrong road he said. However he did agree that if the genetic information seemed to suggest that a person may have a pre-disposition to a particular medical problem, say heart disease or something else it should be made available and used to hopefully treat that person. This sounds ok but what do you do if you find evidence of something which may have serious implications about the life expectancy of a person? Do you tell the person? There is certainly a moral issue there. Is it right to let them know or will they be happier not knowing? And once again who is going to make that decision? And who is going to have the conversation with the affected person?

The more I listened to the various points of view on this the more I thought that the implications are too far reaching for us to know the answers. It’s a bit like asking the early travellers on a railway train which ran at say 15 mph whether they could imagine a world in which trains would travel at over 100mph and even 200mph. (Incidentally, in June this year, it was reported that Japan is trialling a new series of magnetic trains which will be able to travel at over 300mph cutting the Bullet train times – between Tokyo & Nagoya – by just over 50%. However you have another 14 years before they’re due to come into service!)

Who could have imagined those first ships that were built to carry just a few containers would end up the monsters we have today. Ships launched this year are just short of 400 metres in length and capable of carrying the equivalent of up to 18,000 containers. If all the containers were laid end to end they would stretch for 110kms – wow just read that again 110kms of containers on one ship!

Imagine a conversation say 40 years ago when many people had to look for a phone box to make a call with someone and telling them that in the future nearly everyone will be able to be contacted at any time of the day or night because they’ll all have a device which they can carry around with them; it will track their exact position anywhere on the globe and enable many other things to be done. Of course it would have sounded fanciful but aren’t we facing a similar conversation now about genetic information?

And so it is with this whole area of genetics. How can we possibly imagine what will be in 50 or 100 years time? Will those people look back on us as short-sighted & resistant to change. They probably will. By then any moral issues will have been passed by in some way and that new world will be functioning very differently to the one we know today. We may or may not be part of it (well the 50 year one for younger folks) but would we want to be?

How to prepare for a 17th century banquet

I know that many of you have been wondering about this, haven’t you?

So here it is. Taken from The Accomplish’t Cookor by Robert May and called ‘Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery, to be used at Festival Times, as Twelfth-day, &c.’

“Make the likeness of a Ship in Paste-board, with Flags and Streamers, the Guns belonging to it of Kickses, bind them about with packthread, and cover them with close paste proportionable to the fashion of a Cannon with Carriages, lay them in places convenient as you see them in Ships of war, with such holes and trains of powder that they may all take Fire; Place your Ship firm in the great Charger; then make a salt round about it, and stick therein egg-shells full of sweet water, you may by a great Pin take all the meat out of the egg by blowing, and then fill it up with the rose-water, then in another Charger have the proportion of a Stag made of course paste, with a broad Arrow in the side of him, and his body filler up with claret-wine; in another Charger at the end of the Stag have the proportion of a Castle with Battlements, Portcullices, Gates and Draw-Bridges made of Past-board, the Gun and Kickses, and covered with course paste as the former; place it at a distance from the ship to fire at each other. The Stag being placed betwixt then with egg shells full of sweet water (as before) placed in salt. At each side of the Charger wherein is the Stag, place a Pye made of course paste, in one of which let there be some live Frogs, in each other some live Birds; make these Ours of course Paste filled with bran, and yellowed over with saffron or the yolks of eggs, guild them over in spots, as also the Stag, the Ship, and Castle; bake them, and place them with guilt bay-leaves on turrets and tunnels of the Castle and Pyes; being baked, make a hole in the bottom of your Pyes, take out the bran, put in your Frogs, and Birds, and close up the holes with the same course paste, then cut the Lids neatly up; To be taken off the Tunnels; being all placed in order upon the Tables, before you fire the trains of powder, order it so that some of the Ladies may be perswaded to pluck the Arrow out of the Stag, then will the Claret-wine follow, as blood that runneth out of a wound. This being five with admiration to the beholders, after some short pause, fire the train of the Castle, that the pieces all of one side may go off, the fire the Trains, of one side of the Ship as in a battel; next turn the chargers and fire the trains of each side. Then let the ladies take the egg-shells full of sweet water and throw them at each other. All the dangers being seemingly over, by this time you may suppose they will desire to see what is in the pyes; where lifting first the lid off one pye, out skip some Frogs, which make the Ladies to skip and shreek; next after the other pye, whence come out the birds, who by a natural instinct flying in the light, will put out the Candles; so that what with the flying Birds and skipping Frogs, the one above, the other beneath, will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company.”

Allerdale goat’s cheese

Another follow-up, of sorts, to the last two weeks of Liverpool walks by my guest blogger, Rambler5319.

 

Following last week’s Walk in Woolton (Part 2) and my visit to The Liverpool Cheese Company this week I decided to buy a piece of one of the cheeses I gave as an example – Allerdale Goat’s Cheese (AGC from now on). So it was another walk and back to the shop. Now I’d never heard of or had AGC or in fact any goat’s cheese before so this was a bit of a leap into the unknown. I hoped, as the cash register closed, that I would not regret the purchase. As soon as I got home the wrapping was off and I sampled my first ever piece of AGC.
image

Yep I forgot to take the pic before I started eating so this just what was left by the time I remembered. No, I didn’t regret the purchase – it was all about a new experience. It tasted fine but I’ll have to see if it grows on me sufficiently to push Shropshire Blue off the no.1 spot in my “Cheese Charts”.

Anyway the name got me thinking along the lines of what’s Allerdale Goat’s Cheese all about. Much has been made in the UK media over recent years about how kids don’t know where their food comes from; some don’t know what meat comes from cows, sheep & pigs; some didn’t even know meat came from any animals at all. I guess it’s city living and busy parenting (little time for the kids) that has something to answer for. So, with my AGC I was curious: where is the place it comes from, how’s it made, how did it get to the shop, etc?

Let’s start with the place where it is made – Thornby Moor Dairy in Thursby. Here’s where the dairy is:

http://www.visitcumbria.com/simon/croftonhall-9200b.jpg

You might have to click on the visitcumbria Thursby website search results if your browser doesn’t go directly to the image. (once you’re there, it’s 4th pic on the site.)

The dairy was started in 1979 by Carolyn Fairburn and it moved to the present site in Thursby in 1994. The dairy is in Allerdale which is not a single place but an area that was formed back in the 1970s by merging the districts of Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth, Keswick & Wigton. All these places, as you look at a map of England, are in the far north-west and to the south-west of Carlisle (which is about 10 miles south of the Scottish border).

Here’s a map showing the Allerdale area highlighted: http://www.flickr.com/places/info/12695900

Now, in common with blogs earlier this year (21.8.12 & 19.9.12), I decided to start with a check on the coat of arms. These usually give lots of info about how a town/city sees itself in terms of historical and current associations using heraldic symbols to represent those various characteristics. Here’s the one for the Borough of Allerdale:
image

Let’s have a look at this somewhat cluttered image. Starting with the motto, in Latin of course: Ex Unitate Curaque Fortior. It means, according to the Heraldry of the World website, “Strength through caring and working together” although the borough’s own website is not as exact in its translation. Anyway it’s a good motto isn’t it? Something that I’m sure they hope will instil a sense of both commitment & community. Now there is a lot going on in their coat of arms picture; much of the imagery relates to characteristics, history and geography of the area which they want to represent. A quick run down starting at the top reveals some interesting info and some dodgy explanations from a site which should know better:

The weather vane (supposedly ship-shaped?) represents maritime connections, shipbuilding and more recently wind power technology in the district. This sits on top of a howdah – a seat fixed on an elephant. The howdah has 3 blue ovals representing thrushes’ eggs that refer to the town of Wigton where the council meetings were held originally. The elephant represents integrity & unity and the colours the towns of Egremont, Senhouse and others. Its trunk is holding a pick-axe to represent mining in the district. The green crown under the elephant represents civic authority. Heraldic terminology keeps the Latin words for left & right sinister & dexter. I did a bit of Latin at school so recognised these. However, I must point out that the Heraldry of the World website has got the part about the creatures supporting the shield completely wrong! We read there that “the sinister supporter (of the shield) is a centaur”. Now just look at the picture – the centaur, which is half man half horse, is clearly on the right (therefore dexter). It symbolises the Roman past of the area but also hospitality & wisdom. (I’m struggling a bit with that as centaurs, as far as I remember, were not noted for the last two qualities but maybe I’ve got it wrong.) Note also around the centaur’s neck the two medallions depicting drama: one for tragedy and one for comedy. Now given they got the sinister (left) bit wrong it follows they also got the dexter (right) bit wrong; they quote, “the dexter supporter is a sea dog” – no it isn’t! So let’s be clear – on the left (sinister) is a sea dog and on the right (dexter) is the centaur. (The Borough’s own website also has it incorrectly so someone copied from someone and it highlights the dangers of copying info without checking the verbiage; I have emailed the council and will report back next week if I get a reply from them. I’m not holding my breath.) Next is the sea-dog on the left (dog with mermaid-like tail) symbolising the marine activities of the area. The collar & chains refer to shipbuilding & mercantile marine activities. The name sea-dog refers to Fletcher Christian (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and the colours used reflect those in his coat of arms. Pitcairn Island is only 2 miles (3.2km) long by 1 mile (1.6km) wide and currently has a population of around 50. Its administrative headquarters are in Auckland (New Zealand) 3300 miles (5310km) away. With an ageing population the Island is looking for immigrants – short or long term – who are crucially self-supporting. If you fancy it get going folks as 2013 will see some possible employment opportunities opening up there. (Check out the website: http://www.visitpitcairn.pn/) Daily accommodation rates are in the region of $70-$120 and can include full board, meals & laundry. (Again check out what’s on offer: http://www.visitpitcairn.pn/visitpitcairn/accommodation/index.html) but don’t forget to add on the cost of getting there!

In 2005 Fletcher Christian’s great-great-great grandson, Tom Christian, left his home in the Pitcairn Islands and visited Fletcher’s birthplace, Moorland Close Farm in Cockermouth. (Interestingly, the Government of the Pitcairn Islands Website: http://www.government.pn/Pitcairnshistory.htm tells us that Fletcher Christian went to school with William Wordsworth. Now this could be slightly misleading with you imagining them running round the playground together. The truth is that Christian attended the same school – Cockermouth Free School, founded in the reign of Charles II – but was 6 years older than WW so it’s unlikely they played together. Anyway I bet you didn’t know that!) Here’s a pic of the plaque from the school: http://www.flickr.com/photos/up70mm/5064975794/ Sadly they got the year wrong – the Mutiny was 1789. At FC’s birthplace you can see they got it right – check the pic on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/up70mm/5071478465/in/set-72157625126119032/

Back to the coat of arms, the crook the sea dog is holding represents sheep-rearing and rambling. Finally the shield and what’s inside it. In the centre is Pegasus representing inspiration, swift communication, and rivers and lakes. Pegasus is said to be the inspirer of poets, engineers & inventors. The three horns are called cornucopias and out of them grow wheat, corn, bluebells, daffodils etc. The keen-eyed among you might have noticed this Pegasus has a unicorn. Why? Well it’s to represent yet more qualities of the area – purity & healing. So you can see they managed to cram an awful lot into that image.

A slight digression here as the town of Caldbeck (in Allerdale), lying just 7½ miles south of the place where my cheese is made, was home to the eponymous hero of the old English folk song D’ye ken John Peel; (for D’ye read “Do you” or “Do ye”). A number of versions of the lyrics arose initially due to oral transmission. Here’s the opening verse which I and many others learnt at (primary) school:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?

D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day?

D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way.

With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

 

One version of the 3rd verse goes like this:

 

Yes, I ken John Peel and his Ruby, too!

Ranter and Ringwood, Bellman so true!

From a find to a check, from a check to a view,

From a view to a kill in the morning.

 

Did you spot the James Bond film in there?

 

Caldbeck is also the place where the well-known UK haulage firm, Eddie Stobart, began life as an agricultural contractor in the 1940s threshing corn and later (in the 1950s) spreading slag for fertiliser. Today the company’s general haulage operation, with its origins in 1970, has over 2,500 trucks (tractor units), thousands of trailers and a number of specialised divisions: rail, container, biomass, logging, car transporters & 2 airports. There have been three television series on a national network about different aspects of the company’s business and its employees. Some people spot trains, some aeroplanes but this haulage company has a fan club whose members are regular “Eddie spotters”: they collect the names that appear on the trucks – each truck has a female name and the first one was Twiggy named after the 1960s model. The firm’s official fan club has around 25,000 members and given that there will be spotters not in the fan club it’s possible there are thousands more out there checking the names of the trucks as they go by.

 

Anyway, back to the cheese. It’s made from raw milk produced by the owner’s herd of goats. Perhaps I ought to visit some day and thank the goats. It does, though, have to be matured for 5 months. Goat’s milk is believed to be one of the oldest sources of dairy produce in the world and more similar to human milk than cow’s milk.

 

And all that from my little piece of cheese!

The Strange English Language

The following is a guest blog from RuthJ at caderyan.com and was submitted to me via myblogguest.com. Enjoy!

 

The English language is a strange little thing. It contains the most words out of any other language, and though it is widely spoken throughout the world, it is actually one of the most difficult languages to learn.

Most other languages have rules associated with why the language is the way it is. Sentences are laid out to make sense and phonetics are easier to dissect. In English, there is no rhyme or reason to the way certain things are spelled or pronounced, and some of the words we use today don’t make sense as to why.

Languages were invented, which leaves it susceptible to error and confusion, and the English language is no exception. If we could go back in time when the English language was being created, we would have plenty of questions.

Did you ever notice that certain words would make more sense if used correctly with its counterparts? For example:

1. Why do we drive on parkways, yet park on driveways?

2. Why do we use garment bags to pack suits, yet we use suitcases to pack garments?

3. How come we play at a recital, yet we recite a play?

4. How come when we move something via a ship it’s called cargo, yet when we move something by car it’s called a shipment?

5. Why do we call people who ride bikes cyclists, but people who ride motorcycles bikers?

For the English language to make perfect sense, you would think that we would drive on driveways and park on parkways and that we would call those who ride bikes bikers and those who rode motorcycles cyclists. Instead, we do things backwards.

Then there are those items that involve numbers that simply don’t make sense. For example:

1. Why is it called a pair of pants when you only get one?

2. Why is first-degree murder worse than third-degree murder, but first-degree burns are less serious than third-degree burns?

3. Why do we call it a television set if we only get one?

We also have words that follow one rule but not for others. For example:

1. How come the day breaks but never falls, yet night falls but never breaks?

2. How come a king rules a kingdom, but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom?

And then there are just certain questions we wish we had answers to, including:

1. Why does the word lisp have an s in it? Was it some type of cruel joke?

2. How come there is no synonym for the word synonym?

3. Why are deer and moose the same for both singular and plural versions?

4. What was the purpose of spelling read and read or lead and lead the same but making them have two different phonetics?

5. How come you can turn a light on, off or out, but you can’t turn it in?

6. How can you be head over heels? Aren’t you already head over heels? Shouldn’t it be heels over head?

7. Why can -ough be pronounced seven different ways?

Unfortunately we may never know the answer to some of these questions, and the English language will continue to be a mystery to everyone.

 

Robert Hunt is a writer and linguist. He has studied the forms and details of many different languages. Robert has recently enrolled in Accent Pros accent classes to learn how to pronounce words with different accents.