The standard story is that the carnivorous Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) plant’s name refers to the Roman goddess of love, without going into too much detail. Muscipula actually means mousetrap, not flytrap, but that’s not important right now (to quote Airplane! for no apparent reason).
Dionaea means “daughter of Dione”, i.e. Aphrodite, Venus’ Greek counterpart. This fixation on love goddesses gives some clue as to the real reason for the name; the filthy minds and sniggering schoolboy humour of 18th century naturalists. To them it was equally salient that it trapped and digested unsuspecting visitors (hence, flytrap) and that it had two touch sensitive, reddish lobes surrounded by hair… i.e. it reminded them of female genitalia. That link isn’t at all obscene, by the way, it just gives some more background information on the perpetrators of this Linnean lewdness.
I admit that I’m no gynaecologist, but I…
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From Barnaby: Time for bed stories, a 1974 children’s book that belonged to me when I was an actual, genuine child. As opposed to the many stupid books I’ve bought since, as an adult. It’s still in my library, currently shelved between a book containing numerous photographs of Viking artefacts and a scientific textbook on human colour perception and cognition. QED.
Talking of colours, what a perfectly 70s palette the book’s cover has. And how hilariously gauche is the slogan “A Dean’s happy times book”. “Dean’s happy times” sounds like some kind of Withnail & I euphemism, but Dean is the publishing company, not some fellow who just happened to be having a suspiciously happy time making books for children in the 1970s.
Star Wars fans should also have a good look at Barnaby. You think Carrie Fisher pioneered the infamous Princess Leia do? Wrong. Barnaby was rocking the…
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A sequel of sorts to Turning the tables from a while back; the Meiji-era Japanese version of contacting the spirit world through the medium of moving furniture and incomprehensible messages. Kokkuri consisted of three bamboo rods connected to make a tripod, with a round tray or lid balanced on top. As with the Western Ouija Board, three or four people would lightly touch the lid. One person chanted “Kokkuri-sama, Kokkuri-sama, please descend, please descend. Come now, please descend quickly.” Note that -sama is the level of honorific politeness above -san, a bit like saying “Mr. Kokkuri, sir” although there isn’t really a direct English equivalent. After about ten minutes of this, the person says “If you have descended, please tilt towards [somebody present].” If all was well, the lid would move and could be used as a way for whoever or whatever had “descended” to answer questions.
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