February 17th, 2008

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The history of feline castration

Question: When did people start castrating/neutering male cats? I don't need to know the exact year or anything, but rather a rough estimate in centuries.

Setting: A fairy tale-ish world. Since that includes magic and such I suppose I could wing the whole castration issue (I swear to God this isn't as dodgy as it might sound), but since the world is sorta medieval in style I'd like to keep that particular bit of history correct.

Search terms: I've tried any number of variations on "feline castration history" and "first cat neutering" and so forth. I have a bunch of cat books as well, but none of them mention the history behind the practice.

I can't shake the feeling that this might very well be a really dumb question -- a part of me feels that cat castration has be a very recent thing, while another thinks that it must've been going on forever. So, I apologize in advance if that is indeed the case.

Being taught foreign languages at a young age + accents?

Setting: About 12 years before present day, if it matters (in Europe)
Phrases Googled: 'effects of being taught another language +young +accent' and permutations thereof

I've got a character who's originally from Italy. When she's about three, she's kidnapped and raised by someone who speaks no Italian whatsoever - she speaks English and Greek by the time she's 14 (as she was raised in Greece and her 'father' is from America).
My question is - what kind of accent would she have when she's speaking English, if any? (She learns English before Greek, probably.) How about Greek? Would she still know any Italian without being taught, or would she forget all of it?

Also, a semi-related question - would it be plausible for her to not remember being kidnapped at that age? She can have vague impressions of it, but I don't want her to remember that it happened. I can push her age back if it  helps- I just don't want anyone to read it and think "what? I have so many memories from when I was that age" or something. Thanks in advance!
Lady of the Lake

Wildlife, Night sounds in Southern Nevada

I'm looking for what would be typical sounds you'd hear at night in southern Nevada - basically, what sort of wildlife and insects would be moving about after nightfall and making noise. This is for a story where the characters live out on ranch territory (driving distance to Las Vegas), so city sounds aren't what I'm looking for here.

I tried a search on "Nighttime sounds in southern Nevada" and came up empty-handed for what I was looking for.

I'd also love to find a website that listed birds/animals common to southern Nevada - I found an extensive list of ALL bird species in Nevada, but they aren't broken down by region whatsoever.

Science Fiction Torture Methods

Setting: Star Wars Galaxy, Pre-Empire, about 70 or so years before The Phantom Menace
Phrases Googled: torture, sophisticated torture, science fiction torture methods

This is my first post for an actual question into this community and I hope I'm doing this right. I've done a bit of research on my own but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for exactly.

I have a character who is basically the equivalent of a CIA agent Jedi. In this one scene I've been working on, he is captured in the course of duty during an undercover investigation into a mafia/crime ring Organization and they wish to find out how much he knows about them. Being he can use the Force to block pain, I do have that initial difficulty taken care of, but my question is what are some sophisticated torture methods that one might use with high tech equipment? The rack and beating methods do not appeal to my interrogator at all, but he's looking for something more sophisticated, and with a CIA Jedi type character, they likely also have back up training against truth serums, in the event that they're taken.

Any help and ideas are most appreciated. The idea of physical torture is okay in small doses, to my interrogator, but he recognizes that the mind is the greatest weapon and he does not wish the physical bone breaking/gore type torture to be the main affair.