October 4th, 2008

Causes of Permanent Loss of Voice

Searches attempted: Read the Wikipedia articles on laryngitis and debarking, googled "permanent voice loss", looked up vocal fold nodules when that seemed like a possibility
Setting: I don't think it's relevant, but a modern-day-ish fantasy setting.


One of my characters has decided that his life sucks enough that he deserves at least a temporary fling. During brainstorming with the person I most often share my storyverse with, the idea arose that the nice boy in question is (near?) mute. Ideally, this is a relatively recent condition, though I'll take what I can get, and if he's just barely capable of whispering that doesn't hurt, though is certainly not neccesary. I'm at a loss as to what else I can attempt to look up, and the sources I've looked at seem to contradict each other (most likely caused by the fact that anything that makes you hoarse seems to be referred to as "laryngitis") as to whether any given thing is feasible. I'd thought I'd heard that overexerting yourself when you already have laryngitis can potentially cause permanent damage to the voice, but I didn't find anything to confirm this and I suspect that's not nearly the amount of permanent damage I need here, anyway.

I cannot have the boy be in pain at the time the two meet, and what I read of vocal fold paralysis makes it seem to me like it's going to cause a host of problems I don't really want to inflict on him. I can, however, make an accident the cause of his voice loss. I also, if it has any relevance, want him to be able to swim (I doubt it matters, but IF it does).

He's essentially an anthropomorphic fox (though I imagine the voice box is more human than dog-like, as his bipedal form is not his natural shape, so it's safe to assume such equipment was changed to whatever was more convenient), hence my looking up debarking on the off chance I'd find something useful that could be reproduced as a freak accident, but it didn't look feasible. Also, these boys are about 15 and 19, and he's the younger of the two, so he's not had a lot of time to screw up his voice.

I'm not terribly well-versed in medical language, admittedly. What causes could I be looking at for this loss of voice? I don't need to go into much detail, so anything that's applicable to dogs or humans I could probably make work -- likely this is something that'll end up being mentioned in conversation and not much more.


-Alexandra

Occupation/education for Russian expert in 1990s

I haven't done much research for this because it's very early days and I'm not even sure what I'm looking for yet! Obviously once I get a better idea of what her job could be, I will go research that.

The situation: a young American woman born in the early 1970s travels with her parents to the USSR in the mid-1980s, and becomes interested in Russia. She goes to college in the late 1980s/early 1990s and does a four-year degree focusing on Russian language, history, whatever she can study at the undergraduate level (including a study abroad period in Russia - yes, the coup in 1991 will affect this!), then goes on to some kind of masters degree in international policy. Obviously, this puts her educational period smack in the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. She has a very high language ability for a non-native speaker.

Q1. Where would have been a good place for her to earn that masters degree? I keep thinking Georgetown, but she's from the midwest and has personal reasons to stay close to home, so if there's a program there that had strengths, it would work best.

Q2. I want her to be working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but I'm not sure what sort of job she should have. I want her to be as closely involved with the diplomatic community as possible. If this means she works for the State Department, that's great. However, I don't want her to be a diplomat herself, as I don't want her having to move posts every three years. Her interests are not fixed yet, though are likely to be in the education/cultural field (definitely not economics). She will find herself looking for Americans who turn out to have been working for the KGB (? - not up on my spy stuff yet), but that doesn't necessarily have to be job-related.

Q3. She is vocally anti-nuclear war. She may even have been arrested on some kind of protest. Would that have been a problem in any way in terms of who she ends up working for or in getting back to Russia?

Thanks and more thanks!

Japanese Internment, Present-Day US Air Force Pensions, Dieners

A barrage of questions, all - oddly - linked to the same story, but wildly different. I don't know if anyone can help, but it'd be appreciated.

JAPANESE INTERNMENT IN BRITISH CAMPS, CIRCA 1941-1946

Googled: Japanese internment UK, British internment of Japanese, Japanese internees, POWs Japan Britain etc. etc.

I think most everyone knows and his dog knows about Japanese internment in America during the Second World War. I'm also well versed on the internment of Japanese citizens in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. However, mainland Britain seems to be strangely lacking. I know there were some hundreds of Japanese students, travellers, expats and chicken-sexers (don't ask) in the UK prior the attack on Pearl Harbor, but few books list anything about their fate. I know the Isle of Man was used as an internment site, but I can't find much else. How many Japanese were interned in the UK during the war? Where were they held other than the Isle of Man? And when were they released? If they were released pre-1945, did any British-born Japanese serve in the British military(a la Nisei in the US military)?

PRESENT DAY VETERAN ASSOCIATION HELP

I've read the official website top to bottom and googled about VA assistance.

Character is a US Air Force officer (Captain) posted to Japan in early-1979 (Misawa Airbase). Meets a Japanese woman off base. They marry in 1981. Baby born in 1982. They return to America and he is honorably discharged or leaves the force by means legitimate in 1986. He then ditches his wife and daughter and travels the US with a tantric sex cult. He ends up getting cancer in the mid to late 1990s. He's about 56, dying of a particularly nasty (and unspecified) form of cancer that doctors think will kill him in a year at best, and has left him practically bedridden. Can he claim benefits/insurance/medical helpt from the Veterans' Association? He served in Shaba II, the 1978 Franco-Belgian-US peacekeeping operation in Zaire and although not particularly involved in the 'counterinsurgency' aspect did fire a weapon. Does any of this count as combat duty?

DIENERS

Googled: Dieners, united states autopsies, autopsy assistants, postmortems, postmortem help, etc.

I know that dieners are the "assistants" to pathologists during autopsies. I know that they are generally not medically trained, and get good wages for their education (or lack thereof). Is this the norm, however? Could a drop-out American medical student get a job as a diener? Could a full-time postgrad university student apply for a job as a diener at the university hospital and get it (if it's any easier: is it impossible for her to have been a medical student but switched her degree status; her med-student friends helping pull some strings)? Are there any specific laws or job descriptions on what they must/must not have? Info on this job is SCARCE as far as can see. Any help with this one is graciously thanked.

Pre-reply thanks!

Nitpicky question about incomplete dominance and polyallelism

I have a simple question of genetics. I've not been able to find a page that tells me this is possible so I'm figuring I'm wrong, but I'd like to know for sure. Searched for dominance, general information on alleles, that sort of thing, and I've yet to come across a situation like this:

There are three variations of a gene for eye colour in my stupid fantasy country: green, blue and a rusty goldish colour. In the family tree of a bunch of characters, logic goes that green is incompletely dominant over blue (making a turquoise) and also over rust (making yellow/gold). However, blue is completely dominant over rust. I've done a family tree and diagram thingy to illustrate it:

clickCollapse )

In case it doesn't stick out: in all the examples I can find in terms of pigment, humans anyway, the darker colour is always dominant. Does/can this reversed situation work? [ Note: If the wildtype makes any difference, I'm not quite sure what it is. Blue is by far the most common phenotype in this country, but it's an island nation that's been cut off for quite some time. There are two races which generally avoid breeding with each other, though in the case of this particular family, I traced the lines back to the biracial couples. The other (much less prelavent) race is the one where the rust and possibly the green comes from, though both the blue and the rust could easily be mutations of the green, now that I think. ]

Also, I guess I might be thinking too mathematically about this (since I've been picturing this in my head as B = G, G = R and R < B which doesn't make any sense) but is it possible that the allele for blue will silence the allele for rust, but blue is incompletely dominant over green, which is in turn incompletely dominant over rust? I'm pretty sure it is, but I haven't been able to find any examples of a polyallelism situation like that, so I can't be positive.

Excuse the stupid questions. If this is anywhere that I may have already looked, it was still too technical for me to grasp. And if I use any of the terms wrongly, forgive me, I learned this all in French.