Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

ISO: Sexual terminology for 16th century France
Babs is thinking about porn.
Setting: Early-mid 16th century France, but then, it's BBC Musketeers, so laser-accuracy is not expected or desperately needed.

I tried searching using the terms 'sexual terms Classical French', 'sexual terminology sixteenth century France', 'medieval slang', 'sexual terminology slang sixteenth century'

For those not familiar with the show, I'm hoping for a selection of words/phrases for various parts of the body/acts (assume I want anything you can find, I can find a use for pretty much anything) that I can take and adjust to a more British English in the quirkily tortured way the show does.

Thanks so much in advance,


Hand strength and sci-fi firearms
Setting: Star Wars

I'm trying to figure out if a rifle or a handgun would be easier to use for someone who had suffered a hand injury.  (Healed, but I know it would take more time than that for them to get strength back in that hand, asuming they ever get full strength back.)  Or if it would matter at all.  But in this case the rifles/handguns in question would be blasters.  *points to setting*  Which have some amount of recoil, though possibly not as much as real life firearms.  (Googling didn't turn up anything conclusive beyond people being pretty sure - from the depictions in movies and video games - that they have some recoil.)

My knowledge of weaponry is pretty much fiction only, and google searches ("hand strength and firearms" "guns" "rifles vs pistols" "rifle" "pistol") mostly just confirmed my suspicion that hand strength is important.  Maybe the character is going to have trouble until/if they recover proper strength in that hand no matter what they try using.  But I was hoping to find out whether one might be easier.  (Star Wars does have small hold out blasters, kind of analogus to Derringers.  Maybe something like that would work in the meantime?)

Any ideas?

(And yes, I know it's a setting where I could just decree that they were instantly perfectly healed, but Star Wars medicine is all over the map on its effectiveness, and this seemed more interesting.)

The 1940s & Lesbians
So my story is set in 1940s New York and I'm trying to find out some things about what being a gay girl was like at that time period. A lot of resources focus on mainly gay men and dont give way to information about the lives of gay women. I've checked articles like the Gay Metropolis but I still have some questions:

1. What were the primarily gay sections of the city and were there any where gay women were prominent?
2. At this point, was is acceptable for women to wear pants or was it still odd? (my character is sort of a tom-boy)
3. Any slang words for a lesbian/bisexual other than queer or dike?


Literally capturing ghosts on film - urban legend or fictional?
katie and static
I first noticed this idea of using a camera to kill/hurt/capture a ghost in the Japanese video game Fatal Frame. (By taking their picture.) Then it came up again in the Indonesian game DreadOut. This got me wondering if there is real folklore or urban legends in Asia about being able to capture/hurt ghosts by taking their picture, or if it's fictional and one game copied another. After my search, I'm leaning toward it being fictional, but as I've found out from other questions I've asked here, this comm is a great resource for info I was unable to find myself. I suppose the idea could be inspired by the folklore of "stealing someone's soul" by taking their picture, but that's not entirely the same idea. Got any info for me?

Searches: "asia urban legend ghost capture camera" and other combinations of the same basic phrase (including changing "Asia" to "Japan")

WW2 medical discharge for British soldier?
I need my British 20-something character to have been honorably discharged from the army due to combat injury in the early 1940s, but I also need him to be mostly physically capable after he heals (so, no amputated limbs).

I've found a very useful post about this for the Peninsular War, but in addition to the info there, what about burns? Would bad burns be enough to get my boy discharged?

Additionally, what are the chances that he'd be taken back if he tried to re-enlist once he thinks he's fully recovered?

I've googled "blighty wounds," but mostly found info about people blowing their own fingers off in order to get sent home on purpose during WWI and very little in WWII.

Terminal Illness to Order
Love Snail
I've already searched through the tags, Googled various diseases and cancers, and looked around the WebMD and Mayo Clinic websites.

The setting is 2014 in a large American city. The character is a 30-year-old man, doesn't smoke or drink, eats healthy, and practices safe sex. He has been sick since around the age of 25 (though I'm flexible on that number).

I'm looking for a terminal illness that has the following symptoms:

- has him in and out of the hospital often (once or twice a month, maybe more)
- causes pain (joint or bone) and weakness to the point of needing to sit/lay down often
- dizziness (bad enough to cause him to fall)
- requires assistance at times to get around (preferably using a cane)
- is ultimately very painful at the end and he is bed bound

I'd like him to still be able to walk 1 to 2 weeks before he finally dies. I'd also like to avoid any severe cognitive issues.

Once he knows he's going to die, he refuses to return to the hospital and wants to die at home. He will have a caretaker at home (his partner).

Hopefully there is something out there that fits anything I've outlined!


Edit (Feb. 26, 2015): Thank you for the suggestions, everyone! I have a lot to work with now!

Voluntary Removal/Disabling of Vocal Cords
So, I have a character that got into a magically influenced accident that had a deadly side effect on his voice. Anyone who hears his voice dies very painfully- the equivalent on the body of an audible, localized nuke, pretty much. He's obviously pretty horrified by this, and decides that rather than risk killing people by accident, he's going to have his voice completely disabled. The people he works for have access to private medical care at whatever level they need, so finding a doctor able and willing to do this would not be an issue.

The issue is, I have no idea how a surgeon could disable someone's voice entirely without also affecting the other functions of the vocal cords, such as swallowing, keeping saliva out of the airway, etc.

The setting for the injury would be around the year 2005, with all applicable medical technology. Using magic to do it is not an option, as 'magic' in this world is unpredictable, unstable, and not something people should be purposely using for anything. The character is physically 22 and has been for many decades, and the accident in question happened over ten years ago, so he's had lots of time to heal and develop other means of communication. He has no interest in an artificial voice of any kind, because there's no way of guaranteeing even an artificial approximation of his voice wouldn't have the same effect as the real thing.


1. Would there be a way to paralyze or cut the vocal cords to prevent speech, or preferably any sound from being made without inhibiting the other functions of the vocal cords? I really would like to avoid having him need a stoma or anything of the sort, and from what I've read I get the impression those are pretty much necessary when you do a complete removal of the vocal cords or a laryngectomy.

2. How invasive is a surgery on the vocal cords? Would he have a scar, and would it have faded noticeably in the ten years since the surgery?

3. What kind of sounds would he be able to make without the aid of vocal cords? What would it sound like if he tried to scream, or talk in his sleep, etc.?

4. Long shot- I know synthetic vocal cords have been developed and tested, mainly to repair damaged voices. How realistic would it be to imagine a doctor may come up with an artificial apparatus that could perform all the functions of the vocal cords except for speech?

I've tried a few searches, but everything that comes up is in reference to removal because of cancer or injury, which is a very different situation. Obviously the only references I can find to voluntary voice removal is debarking a dog, which is also very different. I also asked on the Nanowrimo forums, only reply so far is a comparison to debarking.

Search Terms: Vocal cord removal, vocal cords cut, vocal cord paralysis, laryngectomy, artificial vocal cords

radical lesbian feminism in western MA or the wider US
Setting: bizarro-lit, so some liberties are taken with reality, but for the purpose of this discussion modern-day US

The parents of one of my main characters are a trans-exclusionary radical feminist couple, to spell out the 'TERF' acronym. (The main character in question, of course, is FTM.) The kind of people who think Aileen Wuornos did good and all PIV sex is rape, who read Dirt religiously and say that letting children transition is an attempt by the patriarchy to wipe out future gay men and lesbians. They've thought this for decades and have an echo chamber/circlejerk/peer group that all believe the same.

The only place in the US I really know to have a high number of lesbians and lesbian culture is western Massachusetts with a focus on Northampton, but the problem is that the culture in Northampton I know of is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum of lesbians-who-don't-quite-get-trans-people, the 'wear a button with your preferred pronouns' kind more than the 'womyn born womyn' kind, and that's a lot more trans-friendly than TERFs would appreciate. However, that doesn't necessarily mean people like that don't exist there.

Is there anywhere in western MA, including Northampton itself, that would have a number of radical feminists/lesbian separatists? If not, where should I be looking? 

When did this French word become an insult? (Updated)
I have a character who is referring to someone she dislikes, slipping occasionally into French. I rather like the word "blaireau" for tone and sound, but I am not sure how early it was used in its contemporary insulting meaning. The older French-English dictionaries I have found from the late 1800's only give its literal meanings as "badger" or "brush made from badger hair", but I am not sure they would list the insulting "slang" meaning, even if it were in street usage. My target time period is early 20th century, 1930s to be precise.

Many thanks!

ETA: more specific time period

ETA 2nd: The sense of "idiot" or "fool" would not be a good fit in context, but if the following is a generally-held sense, then it would work perfectly:

"En réalité, tout découle du verbe "blairer" (synonyme de "sentir") : oh, je ne peux pas le sentir, je ne peux pas le blairer, oh, c'est vraiment un blaireau. Et puis c'est resté.
Un blaireau (argot et sens figuré) est un individu rusé, sournois, souvent menteur pour arriver à ses fins."

Would this be an appropriate application, or is this writer off the mark?

Thanks again!

Changes to San Francisco Urban Landscape since 2004
Fluffy Vulcan
Googled: San Francisco Architecture, San Francisco Then and Now. While I've found one good place to start, most of my other searches go back too far (showing SF before the 1906 earthquake) or show me new buildings, but not what was previously occupying the space.

I'm writing a Daredevil fanfic set in present canon, where Matt has moved to San Francisco. He lived there for about a year, some time back (I'm going with roughly 10 years ago, give or take). I'd like to know how the urban landscape has changed in the last decade. Not gentrification per se. More, if Daredevil is swinging from building to building and knows from past experience that when he comes to the church on X Street, with the gargoyles on the roof, he'll need to turn left—only the church moved five years ago, the building was torn down and there's now a community center in its place with a totally different shape, causing him to be unsure of his bearings.

Any ideas on what buildings/businesses he might be expect to encounter but won't? Keep in mind that if the building has just gotten a new sign over the door, he's probably not going to be aware, since he can only pick up shapes and contours. I'm looking more for former vacant lots that now hold buildings and vice versa, new additions to the skyline, and so on.

He's starting in the Mission District and heading toward Nob Hill and Pacific Heights.

Thanks so much!

Life as an illigitimate child in 1930's iceland?
Hi Little-detailers! I need your help!  I can find plenty of information about modern iceland and ancient iceland, but recent history is elluding me.

The situation:
My character was born in 1925 in  a small Icelandic village. He is the son of a mortal woman and the god Heimdall (although no one knows who his father actually is).  He and his mother move to the US when he's about 17.

The questions:
1. What were cultural attitudes toward illigitimate children/unwed mothers at the time? I can't figure out what type of family support they'd get, if they'd be ostracised or not, if he'd be elligible to inherit family property, etc.  Also if it's reasonable for his mother to have married someone after he was born, or if having a child would make a woman unmarrigiable.

2. What were living conditions like for rural icelanders in the 1930's? I've been assuming no electricity or running water, but what about things like roads, food security, and schools?

I would also love reccommendations for book or web resources related to the topic.  Thanks!

Search terms:
iceland/icelandic/icelander, living conditions, history, 1930, school, illigitimate children, culture, marriage

Civil law enforcement in post-war (West) Germany; government buildings in Heidelberg
Prior research: Wikipedia article on post-war/occupation era West Germany

This takes place in a very slightly alternate universe.

1) Question:

In 1949-50, who was responsible for the operational aspects of civil law enforcement in occupied Germany? (Specifically, in the US zone.)

My provisional scenario involves a mid-ranking German police officer coming across The Inexplicable (tm) and needing to report it to the appropriate person in the military authority.

However, it seems there was, legally, no "Germany" (even in the East/West sense) until May 1949 and even then it seems reasonable while they could have rebuilt civil administration based on pre-war models actually getting it up and running might take some time.

2) Where in Heidelberg was (/is?) the police headquarters? Was there a "government center" in some part of town?

Thanks in advance.

Character injured in an explosion: blast lung, pulmonary contusion, burns, other possible injuries?
I’m writing a fanfic where a female character is hurt in an explosion. What I am trying to determine is the extent and limitations of her injuries.

Details under cutCollapse )

Acres, miles, kilometers...halp!
Okay, so, I've got an island. It's approximately 9000 acres. That's just at 14 square miles, or a little over 36 square kilometers.

My question is, if you have a track that runs the circumference of the island, how long is it, start to finish?

I just have no earthly clue how to do the math (i'm no good at math) and google searches of 'how far around a 9000 acre island' bring no joy.

Probably the answer is super simple but - like i said - i am just not a math person.

ETA: I find the 'top 25 most popular entries!' comment by 'livejournal' to be extremely odd. (See comments.)

Gunshot wound to face exits through neck: long term effects, medical jargon, avoiding paralysis?
achewood, rap music
I am writing a fic where one of the characters was shot in the face in-canon, but survived.  The entry wound was towards the base of the left cheekbone, and as far as anyone can tell it crossed left-to-right at a diagonal and exited through the back of the neck, somewhere between the Axis and C3 vertebra of the cervical spine.

Details and questions hereCollapse )

Earth-like planet with rings: what would life be like?
Searched: "If earth had rings", and simple variations of that

Setting: An earth-like planet, a slightly modernized 1880s-1900s (Haven't narrowed it down any further yet). It's a steampunk universe, so generally lifelike physics and such, with the necessary divergences to make a steampunk universe work. :)

Question: I'm in some early stages of world-building for a prospective webcomic I'd like to do, and I was thinking it'd be really cool to set it on a planet with rings. But when it comes to science and physics and... space stuff... I'm pretty ignorant about what rings would actually affect on our planet.

Most everything I get when I search is what the world would LOOK like if we had rings around Earth, but not how those rings would actually affect our planet.

A good article I got was this, but I'm wondering if there's anywhere I can get even more in-depth? According to the article, it sounds like an Earth-like planet with rings might just mean extinction, basically, or a really... not-fun quality of life (Which is honestly alright, it's a semi-dystopic world, haha). So I'm just wondering if there's somewhere I can get some really in-depth information on how rings would affect Earth.


[ANON POST] Medical Examiner's Working Conditions, 1940s NYC
Setting: New York (Manhattan), 1947

Searched: "Medical examiner" combined variously with "office," "floor plan"/"floorplan," "room," "building," "interior," "working conditions." Tried image search on these, too, and mostly got a lot of pictures of autopsy tables. Also glanced into a few of my local library's books about medical examiners, but (as well as having a more recent focus that might not be appropriate to the period) these were focused on stories of individual dead people, without a lot of mundane side-detail.

When my character who is a medical examiner is not actually performing autopsies, what kind of space is he working in?

My co-writer and I have, provisionally, imagined a small office space. It
1) opens into both a morgue/autopsy room and a hallway,
2) contains three desks, filing cabinets, a telephone, and a coffee pot, and
3) is used by two male medical examiners and a secretary (or similar female assistant).
Is this roughly plausible as described, or do the placement or furniture of the room, or the number of people using it, need to be altered?

Also, I need the ME character to enter the morgue and/or autopsy room completely unaccompanied. Is this something that might occur during the course of an ordinary day, or would it be unusual enough that the narrative would need to explain it somehow? If the latter, what might be a plausible explanation? (He himself isn't up to anything shady.)

Economics and Slavery
I'm designing a country, let's call it A, that's in the process of shifting from a slave society to a non-slave society as a result of shifting economics rather than a moral or other push towards legal reform. It's been this way for a while, and it's been a gradual enough change that the only resistance has been from members of nobility who don't want to change the family lifestyle, and from a few legal officials who are concerned about what the dropping cost of a human means for the local black market in human souls. There's also some concern from the neighboring country, B, which is far more invested in slavery and has considerably more rigid customs, and is worried about their own slaves devaluing. But by and far, there haven't been any major upsets yet.

The story takes place after a major upset does occur. Something happens in Country A which causes an economic collapse. The cost of a slave becomes less than the cost of feeding and housing them. Work becomes scarce, the black market in human souls explodes as desperate people resort to desperate measures. Country B closes its borders to all except officials and slave-traders.

This is all background. The story I'm developing starts when my main character and her husband sell themselves into slavery to Country B so that their children can be raised by citizens, as citizens. But first I need the background to make sense.

I need two things. One, is a reason for the original gradual shift for Country A. And two, is a reason for the economic crisis. I don't really have a head for economics, and Google has been helpfully directing me to a multitude of articles on the American Civil War and abolishionism in general instead of anything I can use for this.

For the gradual shift, I had initally thought it could be because of something similar to the Industrial Revolution, but I realized that that would trend more explosive than gradual. And for the crisis, it kinda seems like it would have the opposite effect. Not something that would really fit for the story.

Search terms: Economics of slavery, ending slavery -america, driving societal change, how societies change, economy slave society, industrial revolution, economics of industrial revolution

EDIT: Okay, so it looks like my best bet would be the mechanisation of cereal crops followed by a blight of those same crops, with other complicating factors as needed.

Thank you for all your help! Though, I'll still be looking at other suggestions, so feel free to keep contributing if you want!

Interaction between atypical antipsychotics and other medication (Present day, USA)
in the flesh, bluemavor, amy
Hello, and thank you in advance for your help! (And apologies to the mods for screwing up the submission before!)

The setting is present day USA. My character is a middle-aged/older woman who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and permanently hospitalized in what I think is a fairly expensive private clinic. She is mostly stable when on medication. I'm assuming that she would be given Clozaril/Clozapine or another atypical antipsychotic drug, but please correct me if that sounds wrong.

I want her to fall ill with something that would require for her to be transferred to a "regular" hospital, and would require for her to take medication that would somehow interfere with the antipsychotics, but not in an extreme or life-threatening way.

My thought was to have her contract pneumonia because it seems that the currently common antipsychotics actually cause an increased risk for pneumonia. I found a study that says that the dosage for antipsychotics would need to be decreased if symptoms of pneumonia were apparent.
The pneumonia would obviously need to be treated with antibiotics, and my research tells me that there are certain interactions between Clozaril and antibiotics, although they seem to be mostly long-term effects? Is that correct?

Now my question is: Would it be realistic for the patient to (a) contract pneumonia at the clinic, (b) be transferred to a regular hospital for the duration of her illness, (c) be given a much reduced dose of her antipsychotics while treated for acute pneumonia? And (d) is it possible that this could lead to a certain confusion in the patient without causing a full-blown relapse/episode? Or is that an unrealistic effect?

Here are search terms I tried to google (in a variety of combinations):
Treatment of schizophrenia
Interaction of [Clozaril][antipsychotics] with [other drugs] [medication] [antibiotics]
Treatment of pneumonia
Schizophrenia and pneumonia
Antipsychotics and pneumonia
Effects of [lower][decreased] dose of antipsychotics

I found a lot of medical studies on the interaction between drugs, and the increased risk for pneumonia in patients on second-generation antipsychotics, but I couldn't really find much on the practical implications (i.e. what do the doctors do, how does it affect the patient's mental state etc.).

Laws affecting 19th century European Romani
Setting: 1830-1870 Central Europe (France, Germany, Austria, and Bohemia mostly)

Google Search: "Romani in 19th century Europe", "19th century laws relating to Romani, "19th century romani regulation", "19th century romani persecution"
Same search terms used with 'gypsy' and 'Roma' to see if anything different came up (and because I'm not entirely sure which term is the most appropriate/commonly used).

One of my PoV characters is a man of Romani (specifically Sinti) descent who wound up in the care of the Catholic Church when he was very young. They kept him around effectively as slave labour until someone higher up decides to put him to a different use by making him a secret agent in their super secret supernatural evil fighting order. What I'm basically having trouble with is working out how much trouble his Romani heritage would get him in when he starts getting sent out and about on the business of this order. I've found a variety of laws regarding the treatment of Romani in the relevant parts of Europe for various different time periods, but none of them are particularly good matches for the period I want. The best I've found is vague mentions that some of the harsher laws were relaxed towards the end of the 19th century, but nothing about which ones those were or how far they were relaxed. I'm also trying to find out how the wider Catholic Church might react to him. I have found a few things there, but the messages have been very mixed (some saying giving alms to the Romani is a greater sin than theft and refusing to bury them or baptise their children even if they claimed to be Catholic, others implying all was fine so long as they would convert).

Any light shed on the subject would be appreciated.