Betta Splendens Are Right And Left Handed?

What?! The Betta Splendens, better known as betta fish to the tropical fish hobbyist, actually shows left- and right-handed preferences? In raising bettas for twenty years, I do not think I have ever noticed this or given it much thought for that matter, but lead researcher Yuichi Takeuchi of “Behavioural Brain Research” has studies that show exactly that. Takeuchi also explains that the studies show a corresponding body symmetry as well.

This may mean that bettas have a “good side” and “bad side” just as we humans think we do when taking pictures. In these studies, Takeuchi wanted to answer three questions:

  • When flaring, or showing aggression, did betta splendens consistently favor one side or another to present to his opponent?
  • Are there differences in the appearance or physical characteristics in betta fish from left to right side?
  • Are differences in bettas’ body shape directly linked to which side the fish displayed when flaring (showing aggression)?

As it turns out, bettas were the perfect candidate for such a test because they show hyped-out aggressive behavior patterns at predictable times and can easily be made to enter this type of behavior. When male bettas see another male betta, or even other species of fish that resembles a male betta, they extend their fins and tail as high and long as possible, puff out their chest, and will even attack if the fish is in the same tank.

In the first phase of the experiment, Takeuchi noticed that when placed in an eight-sided betta tank with mirrored walls, a little more than half the betta fish showed a left or right-sided inclination for their aggressive behavioral displays of aggressions. “Right-handed” bettas were more likely to flare their right sided gill covers, and left dominant bettas the left side.

In the next stage, the researchers looked for tiny differences in the physical makeup of the fish. They paid special attention to the angle at which the fish’s spine contacted its head. The vast majority of betta splendens had a sever right or left bend to their backbone.

Lastly, Takeuchi then looked at both sets of data in respect to the other. Did the bettas prefer their right or left side because of the bend in their backbone, or did they get the bend because they had favored that side in the first place? Amazingly, the fish that preferred one side or the other had a bend in that direction.

Dr Claire Inness posted this news on Practical Fishkeeping.

Want to know all about betta fish, and total betta care? Check out the Betta Blog at for more great Betta Fish news and articles.

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Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Left Handed Violin Tips

Being left handed can often leave you disadvantaged if you wish to play the violin. As with many instruments, finding a suitable violin for a left hander can be a challenge but thankfully there are more on the market now than ever before.

Which Violin?

Choosing a violin that suits you is important. Left handers should not try and play regular violins but rather seek out one that is made for “lefties” only.

Many people argue that because the violin takes skill in both hands that using a left handed instrument won’t make a lot of difference. Some lefty guitarists use regular guitars whilst others can not quite get around this and tend to use only left handed guitars.

The movement of each hand is different, and generally if a right handed person tried to play a left-handed guitar they would be unable to – something that we must understand when it comes to left-handed players who may only be comfortable holding the bow in the left hand.

Orchestra Playing with Left Handed Violins

Another argument is that playing with a lefty violin means that orchestras will not accommodate you due to the seating logistics. Left players would be seated in the opposite direction to the other players and this is frowned upon by conductors.

Should You Swap?

If you are left handed then you will come across some criticism as far as using a different violin. Right handed players will tell you that many lefties simply learn to use the normal violin and whilst this is true of people who have been playing from a young age, it can be a little more difficult if you are picking up the instrument as an adult.

What Should You Do?

Using a violin that suits your particular style and comfort level is the way to go. You will enjoy playing at a home and in relaxed environments with a left handed guitar and many even find an orchestra that will cater to your set up.

Being a left handed violin player is not a disadvantage.

Go to to discover how you can start learning right now – I went from beginner to expert in less than a year and you can do it too!

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Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Bill Of Rights – Where’s The Bill Of Lefts?

Isn’t it time left-handed people had a Bill of Rights – or should we say, Bill of Lefts?

Until the 20th century was well advanced, Lefties had to behave as Righties if they wanted to get on in life, in spite of having a large contingent of famous people on their side, including such geniuses as Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.

But having famous people on your side was no good to you when it came to using scissors, corkscrews, wrenches, phone booths, power saws, can openers, vegetable peelers, slot machines, violins, guitars, fishing reels, bowling balls, pencil sharpeners, saxophones and banjos – all made for right-handed people.

It’s only in the last couple of decades that Lefties have been able to shop for left-handed goods at ‘left-handed shops.’ These stock can openers, ladles, secateurs, and of course, scissors for people whose bent is left. (Generously, you can even find a pair of ambidextrous nail scissors.)

But the dexterity of left-handers, or rather, their sinistrality, is still hampered more by the negative connotations of words that relate to what is a mere accident of birth. About ten percent of the population are left-handed – maybe this is where the gay community got their figure of ten percent, since a disproportionately large number of gays are left-handed.

Lefties have had to face what can only be described as the most longstanding of negative presses. Very early on in history the Greeks regarded left-handedness as being as valuable as right. And the Romans thought that an augury favouring the left would do them the world of good – until augurers themselves fell out of favour. When they became politically correct again a curious thing had happened: the right had become the ‘right’ side, and left was left out, pretty much for good.

Now when the Romans put their best-foot forward it was always the right – they wouldn’t dare step over a threshold with the left foot first. They always shook hands with the right – partly to prove that they didn’t have a weapon in it. (The advantage for Lefties was that they could still conceal their weapon if necessary). They made a right-handed salute, which 2000 years later became the sign of the Fascist state.

It hasn’t helped that in some cultures the left-hand was always used for the more unpleasant tasks relating to the body. People in some cultures only ever touched food with the right because the left was used for wiping the rear end (and that’s still the case in much of the Arabic world).

The innocent-sounding word, cack-handed, which relates to anyone who fumbles, (and by connotation, therefore, to left-handers, who often fumble with right-handed appliances), actually has a much more unpleasant meaning. Cack is a word for excrement. The person who uses their ‘cack’ hand is definitely out of favour.

Whether it relates to the excremental aspect or not, many words for left-handers have a tinge of insult about them. Being left-handed means being subject to a continual slur on your character because language is widely anti-Leftist.

Left-handed in English at one time meant that you dealt in an under-handed way. It’s always had connotations with crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt. The French gauche runs along similar lines, and of course has been adopted into English to add another word to the battery of anti-left-hand words.

Left-handed has also meant ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, and in medical language, spurious. It’s meant ill-omened, inauspicious, and sinister – even though sinister, a Latin word, originally meant nothing more sinister than ‘left hand.’

Roget (who, in spite of his French sounding name, was English, born in Soho) aligns left-handed with clumsy, awkward, gawkish, stuttering, stammering, tactless, indiscriminating, lubberly, unhandy, all thumbs, butter-fingered and thick-fingered.

And he reminds us that a left-handed compliment is one with a sting in its tail.

But the Brits are by no means alone in their approach, as I hinted above. The Australians added an insulting aspect of their own, calling a left-hander a molly-dooker. A molly is an effeminate man, and ‘dukes’ is the slang for fists or hands.

These are just the merest sample of anti-left words that exist in the world’s languages. It isn’t surprising then, with all this abuse being hurled at them, that the Lefties need a Bill of their own. Here are a few suggestions of what might be included.

  1. Firstly, the use of discriminatory and defamatory language needs to be put away. If we can manage to get rid of words that offend women and people with disabilities, we should be able to remove words that imply left-handedness is somehow lesser, or evil.
  2. Secondly, all training establishments should be required to provide tools and equipment for the use of left-handed people, from scissors to band-saws.
  3. Thirdly, any person, whether parent, guardian, teacher, (or anyone else in authority) should be required to treat left-handed children with the same respect as right-handed ones. In the West, we’re moved some distance from the days when children had their left-hands tied behind their back or marked by a coloured ribbon so that they would only the ‘right’ hand, but there’s still some way to go.
  4. Fourthly, August the 13th of each year shall be celebrated as International Lefthanders’ Day. Why August the 13th? One explanation is that it was chosen in 1976 by the man who started Lefthanders’ International, mainly because it was his birthday, but also because there were no other major holidays around it.

Another explanation is that the 13th of August fell on a Friday in 1976 and it was a way of poking fun at the superstitions and oddball myths that have surrounded left-handedness for centuries. (Unfortunately the date is shared with Skinny Dipping Day, Blame Somebody Else Day, National Filet Mignon Day, and was also the day on which “Yes, we have no bananas’ reached Number One on the Hit Parade. )

Left-Hander’s International went out of business in 1998, but another group, Left Hand Publishing, has felt an obligation to keep the holiday alive. Annually, they send out thousands of press releases about the day, and have tried to get people to be serious about this holiday and the issues it represents.

Some Lefties in the US aren’t happy with their progress towards acceptance, and they’ve considered forming an equal Lefts movement. These revolutionaries would require left-handedness to be considered a disability, (with all the benefits that might accrue.)

Furthermore, they think manufacturers should provide left-handed models of every possible product, and that firms should be required to hire a percentage of left-handed people.

Whether this is a fanciful group or not, the point is that Lefties have had centuries of put-down, and it’s time as much effort was made to make them feel a normal part of the human race, as has been spent on other minorities in the last thirty years.

Copyright Mike Crowl 2006

Mike Crowl is the author of a number of articles on a variety of topics, and wrote a weekly column for five and a half years. He enjoys writing about lefthandedness, although he himself is mostly righthanded. His blog looks at all manner of subjects, from music and the arts to the amazing variety of sites on the Web.

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Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Mark of Cain? The Stigma of the Left Hand

In western culture, a general ignorance or misunderstanding of the human mind – especially its unconscious or irrational aspects – had led to our tendency, throughout history, to place value judgments where they don’t belong. Positive associations cling to “white”, “day”, “light” and “right”, for example, and negative associations adhere to “black”, “night”, “dark” and “left”.

The left hand – and those who favor it – has been the object of superstitious fear throughout the ages.

Within Christian religion, this prejudice has its roots in the Bible. Consider the Vision of Judgment by St. Matthew, Chapter XXV:

“Before him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from goats. And He shall set his sheep on his right hand, and his goats on his left.” After describing the kindness shown by God to those on the right, the passage continues: “Then He shall say also to them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

In the Talmund, the Prince of Demons, Samael, derives his name from the Hebrew se’ mol, which means, “left”.

Let’s look also at the etymology of the very word. In Old English “left” or “lef” means “weak” and “worthless”. The Anglo-Saxon root “lyft” translates to “weak” or “broken”.

The Oxford Dictionary includes, among its meanings for this adjective, the following: crippled, defective, characterized by underhanded dealings, ill-omened, inauspicious and sinister.

Within the ancient system of Tarot cards we have the Devil, Le Diable, pictured with a sword in his left hand.

Witches’ Sabbats involved walking “widdershins”, which is contrary to the sun’s path. Facing magnetic north, this would be to the left, counter-clockwise.

Then consider the old superstition of propitiating Satan by throwing salt from one’s right hand over one’s left shoulder – the Devil’s direction.

The sign of the cross is made with the right hand – the last movement going from left to right. To give a blessing with the left hand has always been considered blasphemous, and was made part of the Black Mass.

The psychologist Carl Jung believed that we have a collective prejudice for the right hand caused by “the rightward movement of our writing”. He added: “The right is ruled by conscious reason. The left is the side of the heart, the emotions, where one is affected by the unconscious.”

After Jung’s time we had, finally, the findings of modern science in regards to the two hemispheres of the brain. The right hemisphere – which relates to the left side of the body – is associated with imagination, non-linear and/or metaphorical thinking; it is the very raw material of art and inspiration.

And so it is to be hoped that the artist can embrace a more inclusive vision of reality than what we have, for the most part, inherited thus far. A picture that transcends distinctions; that creates expressions that are “beyond good and evil” as the philosopher Nietsche would have said.

And then let’s give the poor maligned left hand a little due respect!

Seth Mullins is the author of “Song of an Untamed Land”. Visit his complete blog at []

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Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 5:49 am  Leave a Comment