Requiescat: “Car Talk”

Nuts. The Car Talk guys are throwing in the monkey wrench.

RAY: Hey, you guys. My brother has always said, “Don’t be afraid of work.”

TOM: Right. Make work afraid of YOU!

RAY: And he’s done such a good job at it, that work has avoided him all his life.

TOM: And with Car Talk celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this fall (35th year overall, including our local years at WBUR)…

RAY: …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.

TOM: So as of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows. That’s right, we’re retiring.

Some of my earliest memories are of Dad on Saturday morning, washing the car out on the driveway with the garage door open so Tom and Ray’s dueling Boston accents could echo out of the boombox he kept back on his workbench. They’re not immortal, of course, but I’d have bet good money they’d outlast Garrison Keillor.◼

Science online, coordinating devil-squid edition

Enjoying tempura? Thank the Maillard reaction. Photo by christianyves.

Carnival of Evolution, June 2012

Somewhere in Iceland. Photo by Stuck in Customs.

The monthly roundup of evolution-related online writing is (finally) live at Pharyngula, now that host P.Z. Myers is back from a trip to Iceland. P.Z. indulges his hominid cognitive biases by sorting the contributed links into neat, if somewhat idiosyncratic, categories: Bacteria, Plants, Charismatic Megafauna, Humans, Charismatic Organs in Charismatic Megafauna (i.e., mostly brains and penises), Theory, History, and Idiots. Take a moment to speculate as to where my own contributions were classified, and then head over to the Carnival for posts from worthier sources including Jerry Coyne, Anne Gutmann, and Arvind Pillai.◼

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Making sense of genome reduction

Over at the collaborative science blog Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, guest contributor Levi Morran examines the processes by which bacteria can lose genes over generations of evolution.

In a recent paper, Lee and Marx (2012) test both how and why they observe large-scale patterns of gene loss in their experimentally evolved populations of Methylobacterium extorquens. They evolved these bacterial populations under different treatments of resource availability (realms of specialization) and found that all replicate populations adapted to their specific treatment over 1,500 generations. During experimental evolution, 80% of the bacterial populations exhibited nearly a 10% reduction in genome size, and many of the gene losses occurred in similar regions of the genome, some even across treatments.

To learn how and why those genes disappeared, go read the whole thing.◼

Second opinions, anyone?

In case you think I was kind of an asshole in my response to that study about female vulnerability and sexual explitability (and, fine, I was; but I’d like to think I was channeling my natural asshole-ness for a righteous and scientifically important cause), here are some non-scientists taking many of the same issues with that very study, and coming up with even more basic questions about its logic:

Hat tip to Eric Michael Johnson on Facebook.◼

My fourth marathon, Storified

I had a great run this morning! As noted yesterday, it was the 2012 Minneapolis Marathon. My final time was 3:33:37, which isn’t the personal record I’d hoped for on a flat course in nice weather, but I’m happy with it.

I took my iPhone with me, and tweeted photos along the course. And, just for the heck of it, I’ve put all the tweets (and encouragement/kudos/responses) together with some additional notes and context in a Storify. Enjoy!

Jeremy runs the 2012 Minneapolis Marathon

26.2 miles, tweeted.

Storified by Jeremy Yoder · Sun, Jun 03 2012 16:20:50

The 2012 Minneapolis Marathon was my fourth marathon, and my first springtime one. A mild winter made the training-up a lot easier, and the early June race date meant the weather should was tolerable, before everything goes all Minnesota-tropical for the summer. And, since I took my iPhone along for run-time tunes and podcasts, I could live-tweet photos of the course as I ran!

I posted about the race the night before:
Long run tomorrow Yoder
And folks offered good wishes and advice:
@JBYoder good luck. Remember hydration is your friendDr. Wrasse
Thanks! And, always. RT @labroides: @JBYoder good luck. Remember hydration is your friendJeremy Yoder
Also, I did some carb-loading. Too much? Turns out it wasn’t.
Even though I’m running a marathon tomorrow morning, that double slice of leftover chocolate cake was probably a bad idea. #CarbOverLoadingJeremy Yoder
@JBYoder Naaah…plenty of time to digest. Good luck! More important: have fun! :)NatC
@SciTriGrrl Thanks! I’m sure I’ll be glad of the glycogen tomorrow morning.Jeremy Yoder
@JBYoder Well good luck!Giuseppe Gangarossa
I woke up at 5 a.m. to grab breakfast, then walked to the starting line in downtown Minneapolis. I love the view from the Hennepin Bridge.
Walking to the marathon. Yoder
I got to the start a bit after 6 a.m., and people were already gathering. Yoder
Ready to go, in … 19 min. Yoder
@JBYoder good luck!Bastian Greshake Yoder
At 6:30 a.m. on the nose, we were off. We ran through downtown, then turned down onto the riverfront road, first heading north to Broadway for a turnaround. And then it was long way south. My playlist was

“Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” by John Williams, which is great for that starting motivation.

“Barbra Streisand,” by Duck Sauce—good for setting up a pace in the first mile.

The Slate Political Gabfest, because I listen to podcasts on all my training runs, and so they go in my marathon playlist, too.
And then, about an hour in, I remembered to take photos. Yoder
Playlist about now:

“I Could Have Danced All Night,” sung by Julie Andrews in the original Broadway cast recording of “My Fair Lady.”
 “Laura,” by the Scissor Sisters
On the Media, because nothing motivates me on a run like some political outrage.
By now we’re south of Marshall Avenue on the West River Parkway. Oh, hey, I run past this place all the time: Yoder
And then we got down into Fort Snelling State Park. Yoder
I totally missed the halfway marker. Yoder
As we neared the southern turnaround, the trail got right down by the river, which was pretty, and not at all buggy. Yoder Yoder
@JBYoder Are you a cyborg, running and tweeting photos at the same time?Patrick Clarkin
Playlist about now:

“The White Tree,” by Howard Shore, from the soundtrack of “The Return of the King.”
And then another podcast, NPR’s new puzzle show Ask Me Another, which provided some welcom distraction in the third hour.
Here’s the actual Fort Snelling, I believe. This was right after a hill that regained something like 75% of the elevation we’d lost on the way down to the river in maybe 300 meters. That slowed everyone waaay down. Yoder
Loving @JBYoder’s photos from his marathon this morning. Run, Jeremy, run!science_goddess
Mile 21: I’m definitely slowing down. Yoder
No more podcasts, now. The playlist is entirely devoted to tracks that’ll help me keep putting one foot in front of the other. And my motivational music skews nerdy, as you might guess:

“To Boldly Go” and
“End Credits,” both by Michael Giacchino, from the soundtrack of the latest “Star Trek” movie. Yoder
“Superman: Main Title,” by John Williams, from the soundtrack first Superman movie.

“Hard Sun,” by Eddie Vedder, from the soundtrack of movie “Into the Wild.” Yoder
“E.T.: Flying Theme,” by John Williams, from the soundtrack to “E.T.” Yoder
“Main Titles” and

“Captain America March,” by Alan Sylvestri, from the soundtrack of “Captain America.”
And here’s the Franklin Avenue Bridge! Yoder
For the home stretch, I have Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive” in the playlist, and boy do I need it. It’s gotten hot! But here comes the Washington Avenue Bridge … Yoder
And finally, the finish line. Appropriately enough, I crossed to “River Crossing,” from Carter Burwell’s awesome soundtrack to the Coen brothers’ awesome “True Grit.”
About 3:33. Yoder
My final time turns out to be 3 hours, 33 minutes, and 37 seconds. Not a personal record, but not too shabby. The finisher medal is pretty nifty, too:
And I’m still alive. Yoder
And then, as soon as I was rehydrated, it was off to clean up for brunch with friends over in Saint Paul. Not a bad way to spend an early-summer Sunday, all things concerned.

Some more comments/kudos from the tweeps—thanks, everyone!
@JBYoder Congrats! Now please tell me that’s the white balance on your camera and not sunburn.Stephanie Zvan
Yeah, that was mostly the white balance. Although I was shirtless from about mile 17 on. The nice thing about a cheap tank top is you can ditch it when it gets sweat-logged and chafe-y.
Nicely done! Makes me wonder what I’ve been doing for the last 3.5 hrs RT @JBYoder: About 3:33. Kitko
@JBYoder congrats!! Great time!!NatC
Congrats! RT @JBYoder: And I’m still alive.
@JBYoder looks like it was a pretty scenic route. Congrats on your 4th Marathon! wish i had that dedicationJonathan Yoder
@science_goddess @Patrick_Clarkin @Bonovox1984 @SciTriGrrl @GertyZ @szvan Thanks for the encouragement! Made carrying my iPhone worth it!Jeremy Yoder
@GertyZ @JBYoder Woot!CackleofRad
@GertyZ @JBYoder (I think he just logged his #r4p)CackleofRad
Heh, yes. I will not be clicking on any of @VonOberst’s photo links today. But I’m going to need a few run-free days now, so I never did sign on to #r4p.
Live-tweeting the running of a marathon?! @JBYoder is using lots of pictures to do it. Seems to be working. Harper
Live-tweeting the running of a marathon?! @JBYoder is using lots of pictures to do it. Seems to be working.

Next question: will my legs un-stiffen fast enough for me to get up the nerve to register for the Twin Cities Marathon in October?◼


So, John Scalzi’s forthcoming book, Redshirts is pretty excellent, from what I’ve seen of it. (The first four chapters are available online as a preview.) In a nutshell, it’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” but for Star Trek instead of “Hamlet.” So when Jonathan Coulton wrote a song to go with the book, it was only a matter of time before someone mashed it up with actual footage of redshirts* meeting their various and inevitable ends.

Anyway, if all that doesn’t make you immediately want to watch, or if you’re about to leave a comment asking what, exactly, is a “redshirt,” then you probably should just wait for the next post.

*Caution: that link also includes a video of Scalzi covering the song on a ukelele, for which I refuse to vouch.◼

Science online, incredible shrinking skulls edition

Albatrosses: big, majestic, not particularly good at preventing their chicks from being eaten by mice. Photo by James Preston.
  • New at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! The role of evolution in species invasions.
  • Carnival time. A new edition of the botanical Berry-Go-Round is online.
  • Doing more with less? Human brains have been shrinking for tens of thousands of years.
  • Eek! A vital seabird breeding colony is being decimatd by mice.
  • Interesting. Antidepressants are more effective in combination with stress hormones.
  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria. On the rise in China.
  • It doesn’t look especially tasty. How to make the scientifically perfect sandwich.
  • The King Canute Memorial Act. The state government of North Carolina is trying to legislate climate change out of reistance.
  • A new way to encode. Ed Yong tries out a new DNA-based font.
  • No, not publications. Get ready for Evolution 2012 with a handy list of Ottawa pubs.