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Joaquin Blake was an Irishman who fought for the Spanish against Napoleon – and delivered a rare victory against the French.

Article by Andrew Bamford from “Military Illustrated”.


Son of the Wild Geese.


Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, expatriate Irish soldiers fought with distinction in the Catholic armies of Europe. After the collapse of the final Jacobite rising of 1745, the trickle of rank-and-file volunteers largely dried up, but many Irish gentry families had by now established themselves in exile, giving good service as officers and assimilating themselves into the societies of their new homes. Whilst the Irish heritage of these sons of the Wild Geese led to some ludicrous names and dubiously-assumed pretensions to nobility (such as Austria’s Johans-Sigismund Maguire von Inniskillin), they rewarded the states that had adopted them with loyal and honest service.

This was nowhere more true than in Spain, where, upon the outbreak of the Peninsular War in 1808, only a handful of officers of Irish descent sided with the French, as opposed to scores of high-ranking Spanish traitors. The most distinguished of the Hispano-Irish who stayed loyal to Spain was Joaquin Blake, one of the very few Spanish generals to ever defeat the French in battle during the final six years of the conflict.

Napoleon’s Coup.


Read more... )
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I am sure everyone knows what ig Nobel prizes are all about. If not, it's simply prizes given out every year for the most "curious" research. In my fourth year at uni when my friend and I were DJs at our uni radio we actually talked about those prizes quite a lot. Just a few days ago the prizes for 2009 were handed out and I was drawn to re-reading the list of the winners of the past years. OMG, I love these people, seriously. :D

My personal favs of 2009:

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila. (Srsly, why waste tequila this way?! )

MEDICINE PRIZE: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60) years. (The dedication... He has it. O_o )

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. ( I WANT ONE!)

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Started reading Stephenson's "Quicksilver":

'... Sir Isaac's Shit List..." XDD I'm going to love this book.

And, God, I'm surprised I still remember the year when the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. O_o


Jul. 22nd, 2009 06:28 pm
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More from 'The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison' by John Emsley.

What he [Robert Boyle] did next distinguished him as a true chemist: he researched the properties of phosphorus and its reactions with other materials and published his findings not in the secret language of the alchemists but in plain English, and in a manner that would allow even a modern chemist to repeat what he had done. Whether they would want to repeat his observation that 'if the privy parts be rubb'd [with phosphorus] they will be inflamed for a good while after', is doubtful.

Why, oh, why would anyone rub a new, shining and easily combustible substance onto the privy parts? XDDD

'Pliny reported that more than four tonnes of mercury metal were imported into Rome every year. He also said that men who worked with the ore protected themselves against the dust by covering their heads with bladders.' *imagines, giggles*

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From 'The Elements of Murder: A history of poison' , by Emsley.

"The Royal Navy 74-gun man-of-war HMS Triumph arrived at Cadiz in February 1810. A month later a Spanish vessel laden with mercury and destined for the mines of South American was driven ashore nearby in a gale. The Triumph sent its long boat to her assistance even though the wreck was in range of the guns of a fort held by the French, the at war with Britain. The ship was a write-off but its cargo was worth salvaging. The sailors from the Triumph were ables 130 tonnes of mercurty from the wreck by working secretly at night. The mercury was taken back to Cadiz and stowed in various parts of the Triumph and aboard a smaller ship, the sloop Phipps.
 To begin with, the mercury was placed in the hold where the crew's spirit rations were kept, but there was so much of it that soon the bags were being stowed in sleeping quarters as well, such as those of the petty officers, pursers, and surgeons, all of whom became badly affected. They found their tongues swelling and their mouths were salivating to an alarming degree. The salvaged mercury had been held in leather bags in wooden box, but it was only the bags that were salvaged. Many of these now split and spilled their contents...

By 10 April 1810 around 200 men on board the Triumph were suffering from mercury poisoning which caused excess salivation in some, while others were semi-paralysed and many suffered 'bowel complaints'.
 The sick were taken to other ships where they soon recovered, while the Triumph itself was sent to Gibraltar to be decontaminated. Not that this was effective because a new crew also started to suffer in the same way. The ship was despatched back to England on 13 June and then things did begin to improve somewhat, thanks to the movement of the vessel and the ventilating of the lower decks. Even so, 44 sailors and marines had to be transferred to other ships in the fleet and they had recovered by the time they reached Plymouth on 5 July. All the sheep, pigs, goats, and poultry on the Triumph died, as did the ships cat, a dog, the mice and rats - and a canary. Five men eventually died, two of gangrene of the cheeks and tongue. A woman passenger, who had a fractured leg and was confined to bed during the voyage, lost all her teeth and the sking on the inside of the mouth all peeled away. Doctor Burnett prescribed sulphur for those who were sick but reported that taking this did not relieve their symptoms. The only effective remedy was to be removed from the ship. He also carried 7940 pounds of ships biscuit: it was all condemned as unfit to eat, and some was even found to contain globules of metallic mercury."


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