August 22, 2014

3:18 PM | Want to prevent someone from taking copyright on something- have it be made by a monkey
Well, this is both strange and surreal and fascinating: Who Owns A Monkey's Selfie? No One Can, U.S. Says : The Two-Way : NPR.  Turns out the UC Copyright office says a photo taken by a monkey cannot by copyrighted because apparently copyright is reserved for humans (and I guess human corporations).  NPR implies that an Ars Technica article by David Kravets is what caught their attention as well as that of others.I wonder - if one could teach a monkey to type maybe one could […]
3:00 PM | This spider is doing very well in an urbanized environment, thanks for asking
Urbanization is one of the most dramatic changes humans make to natural habitats. Cities are concentrations of tall buildings, paved landscape, air pollution, and everything else that we do to make life easier for ourselves. But some living things do quite well in these highly altered conditions—think rats and cockroaches, but also red foxes and […]
1:35 PM | Fiat - now and days of yore
The Phactors rented a Fiat 500L diesel, and it's been an impressive car to drive, not at all what TPP expected, but then he hadn't driven a Fiat since a friend had a Spider way back in the mid-1970s there abouts. While parking the rental, TPP was surprised to notice that the tiny car parked in the next space was also a Fiat 500L from about the late 1960s (sorry, really don't know Fiats well at all).  It looked to be in very good shape and probably had the classic, whomping, stomping […]
1:00 PM | Stuff online, rare genetics and bees edition
Essential reading on Ferguson: Jamelle Bouie’s detailed recounting of the events following Michael Brown’s killing, and just how much it would take to make things right; Ta-Nehisi Coates on the historical historical context; Dahlia Lithwick on the laundry list of … Continue reading →
1:00 PM | What we’re reading: Genetic diversity and life history, evolutionary rescue, and scientists on social media
In the journals Romiguier, J., P. Gayral, M. Ballenghien, A. Bernard, V. Cahais, A. Chenuil, Y. Chiari, R. Dernat, L. Duret, N. Faivre, E. Loire, J. M. Lourenco, B. Nabholz, C. Roux, G. Tsagkogeorga, A. A.-T. Weber, L. A. Weinert, … Continue reading →
10:44 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Side effect warnings increase sales by building trust. Similar effects for disclosing conflicts of interest (ungated pdf). Absorbing information on paper versus kindle. Even without digital search, I often find it easier to find favourite passages in the physical form. Humans aren’t the only ones fighting wars. I pointed out a couple […]
5:55 AM | Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Remanié fossils in the Lower Cretaceous of south-central England
The last two editions were about a bryozoan and borings from the Faringdon Sponge Gravels (Lower Cretaceous, Upper Aptian) of south-central England. This week we have some Jurassic fossils from the same unit. That sounds a bit daft at first — Jurassic fossils in a Cretaceous unit? — until it becomes obvious that these are […]

August 21, 2014

9:51 PM | Shark Week loses nine million viewers, but Discovery says “everyone is absolutely thrilled”
Shark Week is over, and as the week has progressed, the flood of negative press about Discovery’s favorite time of the year has weakened to a trickle. Instead, news organizations are talking about how well Discovery did this year in spite of the backlash. Shark Week “set records” say the headlines, and it’s no shock: […]The post Shark Week loses nine million viewers, but Discovery says “everyone is absolutely thrilled” appeared first on Science Sushi.
7:51 PM | A Home for Ontogeny and Phylogeny
Construction of the Phyletisches Museum in Jena, Germany began on Goethe’s birthday on August 28, 1907. The Art Nouveau-styled museum was devised by the great evolutionary biologist, embryologist and artist/howthefuckdoyousummarizehowcoolhewas Ernst Haeckel, who by that time had earned fame in many areas of research (and art), including coining the terms ontogeny and phylogeny which feature prominently in the […]
3:18 PM | Death by Vespa
The most dangerous thing in Italy other than the narrow mountain roads enclosed by rocky walls are Vespas. There are two ways to die by Vespa, at least as TPP sees it. Death of the first kind deals strictly with Vespa drivers who dart in and out of traffic, even if the bother to throw out a hand signal before cutting into your lane, or cutting between buses and trucks at the rare stop sign, or zipping to the front of traffic lines. Even with reasonable vigilance TPP has almost creamed a couple […]
2:38 PM | No Ovaries? Well this Ovarian Club Conference is For You (YAMMMs for everyone)
Well, I just got an email invitation to attend CME - OVARIAN CLUB 4.  And alas, rather than just dumping it into SPAM (which I did do) I clicked on one of the links.  I had to know - what was the gender balance at this meeting.  Was there any chance that the organizers would see that it would be ironic to not have a decent number of female speakers?  Alas, nope.The organizing committee is 17:1 males to females.And the speaker balance is not much better something like […]
3:37 AM | Drop in on your friends…Before it’s too late!
Just a reminder…Summer does not last long here in Canada, so if there are any insects you have missed so far this year, now is the time to get out and find them!
2:09 AM | No #AAAS and ASM you do not deserve good PR for freeing up a few papers on Ebola
Saw a PR from AAAS about how they were freeing up all of ~ 20 papers on Ebola In light of what has become the largest Ebola outbreak on record, Science and Science Translational Medicine have compiled over a decade's worth of their published news and research. Researchers and the general public can now view this special collection for free.OK. More access is good. But alas, they did not even free up all papers in #AAAS journals with Ebola in the Title or Abstract.And then I started thinking. […]
1:26 AM | More passerines as seen from the peripheries (part III): Great tits!
Welcome to another of my articles on passerines from the peripheries. As before, the idea here is that we’re looking at passerine bird groups as seen ‘from the fringes’ – from an obscure, maritime... -- Read more on

August 20, 2014

10:05 PM | Temperature Key to Crocs in the Sea
Evolution is great at producing novelty. Every organism that has ever lived – from the first cell to …
7:28 PM | Today's YAMMM (Yet another mostly male meeting): pharma-nutrition #PN2015
Just got pointed to (by Elisabeth Bik) an announcement for a meeting: Home : Pharma-Nutrition 2015 with a focus on "Linking the Microbiome with Nutrition and Pharma".  And alas, the list of confirmed speakers is as follows:Keynote SpeakerMartin J. Blaser, NY University Medical Center, New York, NY, USASpeakersGregor Reid, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada Alain van Gool, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands David Hafler, Yale, New Haven, CT, […]
4:46 PM | Deacon’s Neo-Aristotelian Complication of Simple Action/Motion
Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age by 2114
4:00 PM | Nice Art and Science example - UC Davis Medical School molecule sculpture
Quikc post here.  A month or so ago I went to the UC Davis Medical School in Sacramento for a meeting and got to see this amazing new sculpture for the first time.For more about this and the Artist Roger Berry see this article.  It is always inspiring and uplifting to see nice architecture and nice art in a science building.  -------- This is from the "Tree of Life Blog" of Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and Open Access advocate at the University of California, […]
2:50 PM | In vino veritas
Italy makes a whole bunch of wine, a bundle bunch, and most of it is quite good, and astoundingly quite reasonable in price. To investigate the Tuscan wine scene a bit more thoroughly, a field trip was organized to a family run boutique winery called Campo del Monte ( near Terranuova Bacciolini, about 50 km away. Images of pineapples kept intruding, but a wine tasting was arranged for our party of six. This family makes some very good wine, and who […]
2:00 PM | What’s wrong with peer review? Us. The reviewers.
Peer review is often criticized for it’s lack of efficiency and frequently for making a paper… worse. An article over at Code and Culture does a good job of summarizing the issue, complete with cool little videos that aptly describe how I think peer review feels.
12:00 PM | Because He Is The One
Biology Concepts – ommatidia, reflex, fly, arthropod, sensory receptors, sensilla, metabolic rate, life spanNeo (Keanu Reeves) learned that he could dodge bullets at one point in The Matrix. This was before he learned he didn’t have to. Was he speeding himself up so the bullets looked to be going slower, or was he actually slowing down time?Neo from the Matrixfilms had the ability, once he learned to accept it, to react so fast that everything around him seemed to be moving slowly. […]

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12:26 AM | Reading Macroanalysis 6.1: Theme–Dogs, Gold, Slavery, and Awakening
Over at New Savanna I’ve been blogging my way though Matthew Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History, University of Illinois Press, 2013. I figured this particular post would be of interest here. If you’re not familiar wiht topic analysis, there’s some links below that’ll help you out. Chapter 8 of Macroanalysis is about “Theme.” […]

August 19, 2014

9:54 PM | Which Came First, the Word or the Gesture?
I got a good laugh out of this cartoon on Alex Baker's Cake or Death cartoon file. And it fits in with this post's point: gestures have their limits. Susan Goldin-Meadow is a hero on this blog because her work...
8:36 PM | Skeptical that PMS is an adaptive response designed to break up your relationship? Me too.
In a pleasantly surprising turn of events, this week a take-down of some dubious evolutionary psychology was published by the popular media!  The original article, a perspective piece published in Evolutionary Applications, claims that moodiness associated with PMS may have historically served an adaptive role by driving infertile couples apart.  Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects up to […]
8:11 PM | You can evolve there from here. And from here. And here …
If evolutionary history somehow reverted back to the “warm little pond” in which life began, and started over from almost-scratch, would the re-diversification of life end up, four billion years later, pretty much as we see it today? I think … Continue reading →
10:07 AM | The amazing world of flyingfish by Steve Howell – review
SUMMARY: Written by a professional pelagic birding tour guide and photographer, this book presents a popular account of what is known about the enigmatic flyingfishes, and it’s illustrated with an abundance of breathtaking full-colour photographs. After browsing through shelves and shelves of field guides in a typical nature bookshop, you might suspect there’s a field guide for absolutely every group of anything you can find on the planet -- birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, […]
8:35 AM | Functional trade-off between lexical tone and intonation
Languages can use pitch to make lexical contrasts (so called tone languages) or to mark contrasts at the utterance level, usually called intonation, such as using rising pitch to indicate a question as opposed to a statement.  In fact, a language can use pitch to do both by various means such as changes in pitch […]

August 18, 2014

10:49 PM | The Mammals Who Lived
When the asteroid slammed into prehistoric Mexico and drew the curtain on the Cretaceous, dinosaurs did not fare …
8:10 PM | The Gelato Challenge
As a partial compensation for having dumped on Italian bread, TPP will admit that gelato is great stuff. Personal challenges can be highly motivating, so far be it for TPP to ever suggest that Mrs. Phactor's gelato challenge is anything but a righteous endeavor. So here it is: 30 different flavors of gelato in 30 days, hey, and licks or tastes don't count. The effort involved cannot be diminished, nor can the sacrifice.  Her major problem is that our Tuscan residence is quite a ways […]
6:09 PM | Mendelian-Mutationism (II): The Fluctuation-Mutation Distinction
As discussed in my last post, the mutationist/Mendelians (defined below) have mostly been sidelined in the history of biology. The claims used to justify this argument make up what Arlin Stoltzfus and I call “The Mutationism Story.” While Arlin first discovered this in the scientific literature, we found that scientists were getting many of these mistaken […]
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