Why Cats Have Vertical Pupils

Jörgen Hartogs

by Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor   |   August 07, 2015 02:25pm ET

Have you ever wondered why your cat’s eyes have those creepy vertical slits for pupils? A new study suggests the reason may lie in cats’ preferred mode of hunting.

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Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris catus) Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners

Jörgen Hartogs

journal.pone.0135109

The Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST) has been widely used to demonstrate that the bond between both children and dogs to their primary carer typically meets the requirements of a secure attachment (i.e. the carer being perceived as a focus of safety and security in otherwise threatening environments), and has been adapted for cats with a similar claim made. However methodological problems in this latter research make the claim that the cat-owner bond is typically a secure attachment, operationally definable by its behaviour in the SST, questionable. We therefore developed an adapted version of the SST with the necessary methodological controls which include a full counterbalance of the procedure. A cross-over design experiment with 20 cat-owner pairs (10 each undertaking one of the two versions of the SST first) and continuous focal sampling was used to record the duration of a range of behavioural states expressed by the cats…

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6 Secrets to Unlocking Your Cat’s Personality

Jörgen Hartogs

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer   |   October 25, 2013 02:09pm ET

Get to know your cat

Why would little Mittens hide under the bed at the slightest sound, whereas Felix loves to cuddle with strangers? What makes Moxie scratch and bite when Henri would never unsheathe his claws?

Despite the fact that cats are the second-most popular pets in America, scientists are just now figuring out what makes one cat friendly and another a grouch. From pedigreed breeds to domestication, here are six secrets to a cat’s personality.

Their own masters

Cats really are the masters in the human-feline relationship. The feline is one of the few animals that domesticated on its own. The domestic cat arose from a wild ancestor cat called Felis silvestris lybica in the Near East and Africa, sometime between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

But though humans have bred specific dogs together for desired…

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Sorry, Cat Lovers: Felix Doesn’t Need You

Jörgen Hartogs

by Tia Ghose, Senior Writer   |   September 04, 2015 04:27pm ET

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Why, 100 years after the Easter Rising, are Irish women still fighting?

by  Olivia O’Leary
Gender equality was the radical promise of the 1916 rebellion. The reality was very different. Drawn by the ideals of 1916, many women signed up to the republican cause.

Published Friday 25 March 2016 in The Guardian.
It was never just England. It was always Pagan England. When I was a small child at school in Ireland, that was the difference between us. England was pagan, and Ireland was holy. And Holy Ireland had no place for liberated women.

So what happened to the promise of equality in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic read out on Easter Monday 1916 by the poet and rebel leader Patrick Pearse, and addressed to “Irishmen and Irishwomen”? The proclamation declared an end to British rule but it also guaranteed religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities for all citizens. It made a commitment to universal suffrage, extraordinary for the time, and two years before women in Britain won the vote.
So how did the document’s message become stifled by a conservative culture obsessed with female chastity and purity, and so terrified of glimpsing the outlines of a woman’s body that in the 1950s we were still condemned to conceal ourselves in voluminous cardigans? How did that dream of a radical, free Ireland give way in the succeeding years to Holy Ireland, where generations of women felt they had to hide themselves away?

Historians now tell us that there was a tussle to have women included so pointedly in the proclamation. It was a struggle won by James Connolly – socialist, trade union leader and head of the Irish Citizen Army – and by Constance Markievicz, the prominent feminist and socialist. But even two years later in the general election of 1918, when Sinn Féin swept the boards, it was clear that socialists and feminists had been pushed aside. Most of the dreamers and visionaries had been shot in 1916, and a more pragmatic and conservative leadership concentrated totally on the nationalist goal of separation from the UK. The Irish Labour movement decided to stand aside in 1918 so as not to split the nationalist vote, and the only woman elected was Markievicz.

However, the real change that occurred between 1916 and 1918 was that the Roman Catholic church had finally come on board to back the rebel cause. The church didn’t like radical movements, and individual senior church men actually condemned the 1916 Easter Rising. But anger at the execution of the rising’s leaders swung public opinion firmly behind the rebels, and the Catholic church, ever pragmatic, quietly changed its stance.
The church was by far the largest and most powerful institution in the new Irish state that would emerge six years after the rebellion, and was determined to shape it. The first Free State government tried in its first constitution to reflect a pluralist state, but in Eamon de Valera’s 1937 constitution the church was given a special position, and its social teachings were enshrined. Contraception and divorce were expressly banned – and women were told to stay at home.

Article 41 of the constitution declared that the state shall “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”. This was used not to give state support to women who stayed at home, but to discriminate against women who went out to work. Women public servants – doctors, nurses, teachers, television producers – had to resign because of their positions on marriage. They might be re-employed in a temporary capacity but at a reduced salary. There were always lower rates of pay for women in the public and the private sector.
This continued right up into the 70s, and a male-dominated establishment – including the trade union movement – went along with it. I remember arguing about women’s right to equal pay with a prominent Irish union leader. “When men with families get a decent wage,” he said, “I’ll start to worry about equal pay for women.”

Women always had to wait. Even when the then EEC insisted on equal pay in 1975, a government that included the Irish Labour party put off implementing it. It was only when the civil rights lawyer Mary Robinson, who would much later be elected Ireland’s president, told us all to write to the European commission – and we did – that the government was shamed into implementing equal pay.

So as long as Ireland was isolated and inward-looking, women did badly. As soon as membership of the European Union opened Ireland up to a wider world, the lot of women improved. But what if Ireland had never achieved independence, had remained part of the British empire, had not become the confessional state it became after independence – would life have been better for Irish women?

All I know is that Pagan England certainly spelled freedom for my two O’Leary aunts. They were nurses who joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service during the second world war. One served in field hospitals in France after the D-day landings; the other survived when the boat taking her to serve in India was torpedoed.

Both aunts went on to settle in England and lead lives that might well have been forbidden to Catholics in Ireland
They both went on to settle in England and lead lives that might well have been forbidden to them as Catholics in Ireland. One married an Anglican and converted to Anglicanism; the other married a divorcee. Their families in Ireland may have been shocked, but the aunts were able to lead the lives they wanted to.

England was where pregnant unmarried Irish girls could go and have their babies and not be judged; where women who had been enslaved in the Magdalene Laundries could start new lives and not be judged; where Irish women can have abortions today and not be judged. Pagan England has often offered Irish women a more Christian welcome than they would ever have got at home.

So did living in an independent Ireland make me as a woman less free? No. What it did mean was that we had a lot of battles to fight in order to feel like full citizens of the Irish republic. And I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, at a special event in Dublin to commemorate – for perhaps the first time – the Irish women who took part in the Easter Rising, and to honour the involvement of Irish women in the life of the state ever since.

This weekend marks the high point of the 1916 centenary commemorations in Dublin, but I’m deeply ambivalent about the Easter Rising. I admire the bravery of people like my own grandfather who was involved in both that rebellion and the war of independence. I also have to ask if 1916 created a precedent for armed republican violence in Northern Ireland during the troubles.

So looking down at that audience of brilliant Irish women, I preferred to be inspired by the living, rather than the dead. We have a female chief justice, a female attorney general, a female director of public prosecutions, a female head of the Garda Síochána (police), a female minister for justice, a female deputy prime minister, and a whole new crop of members of parliament to swell women’s numbers in the Dail. They all represent battles hard won. But there are more to be tackled, including a woman’s right to abortion.

The fight for Irish freedom goes on.

Historical recipes: How to make Russian Easter sweet bread Kulich

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. This month, it’s kulich, a rich, buttery Russian sweet bread usually eaten at Easter, but tasty at any time of year

Kulich is a rich, buttery Russian sweet bread usually eaten at Easter

Often baked in a coffee tin so its shape resembles that of the hats of Russian Orthodox priests, kulich remains a tasty treat after the restrictions of Lent. Traditionally it is decorated with the letters XB – Христос Воскресе (Khristos Voskrese – Christ is risen).

Ingredients

Bread:

– 20g dried active baking yeast
– 350ml warm milk
– 200g caster sugar
– 80g sultanas
– 50ml rum
– 750g plain flour, sifted
– 5 eggs
– 1tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 250g butter, softened
– 80g almonds
– 80g chopped mixed peel

Icing (optional):

– 1 egg white
– 250g icing sugar
– 1tsp lemon juice

Method

Bread:

Dissolve yeast in 100ml warm milk, add ½tsp sugar. Soak sultanas in rum.

Sift 120g of flour into a bowl, add remaining 250ml milk and mix well.

Add yeast mixture, cover, and let it stand in a warm place for 30 mins.

Separate egg yolks and beat with sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.

Stir in the rum, add vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt to egg whites. Whisk until peaks form and set aside.

Add egg yolk mixture to yeast mixture and mix. Fold in the egg whites. Add the remaining flour in small batches, mixing well each time.

Knead until dough separates from sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a flat surface and knead for 10 mins.

When pliable add butter, 50g at a time. Knead for 2 mins and form into a ball.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and wrap in a tea towel.

Leave to rise in a warm place for 90 mins. When dough doubles in size, remove and knead for 2 mins. Knead in sultanas, almonds and mixed peel.

Line a tin with baking paper, fill 1/3 full with dough and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove until dough rises to the top.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for 45–60 mins.

Icing (optional):

Mix raw egg white with icing sugar and lemon juice. Spread over the top of the bread and let it drizzle down the sides.

Difficulty: 4/10
Time: 220 mins

Recipe provided by allrecipes.co.uk

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to the print edition of BBC History Magazine? Alternatively, subscribe to the magazine digitally – on iPad and iPhone, Kindle and Kindle Fire, Google Play and Zinio.

Joe Satriani Plays “Surfing With The Alien” with a Strat Copy and Practice Amp at a Fan’s Home

Joe Satriani Plays “Surfing With The Alien” with a Strat Copy and Practice Amp at a Fan’s Home

If you ever needed any more proof that the majority of a guitar players ‘sound’ is in their fingers then definitely check out the video clip below.

Uploaded to YouTube channel TheMexican1, Joe Satriani performs “Surfing With The Alien” (from his 1987 album of the same name), not with his signature combination of Ibanez and Marshall but instead, using a Pignose brand Stratocaster copy and a Peavey Backstage 30 practice amp.

Minus a couple of dive-bombs and the “Satch Scream”, Joe gives a pretty much note-for-note rendition of the track using the starter guitar. However, it maybe wasn’t quite as easy as it looked with Joe commenting right at the end of the clip, “That was a little painful on this guitar”.

Forgotten Guitar

If you ever needed any more proof that the majority of a guitar players ‘sound’ is in their fingers then definitely check out the video clip below.

Uploaded to YouTube channel TheMexican1, Joe Satriani performs “Surfing With The Alien” (from his 1987 album of the same name), not with his signature combination of Ibanez and Marshall but instead, using a Pignose brand Stratocaster copy and a Peavey Backstage 30 practice amp.

Minus a couple of dive-bombs and the “Satch Scream”, Joe gives a pretty much note-for-note rendition of the track using the starter guitar. However, it maybe wasn’t quite as easy as it looked with Joe commenting right at the end of the clip, “That was a little painful on this guitar”.

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