Stuff online, Phobos and Demos edition

Stuff online, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to be naturally selected” edition

  • This week at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: In the movies and on TV, only bad guys evolve.
  • Because it’s what you do, not what you are. Why douchebag is the anti-white-supremacist slur for our time.
  • Is Minneapolis the new Portland? Is Pittsburgh the new Austin?
  • Without climbing the walls. Finding the way out of academia.
  • We can only hope. Next steps in Ferguson.

Stuff online, grass of the field edition

Life, um, finds a way

The LA Review of Books has just posted my review of Unnatural Selection: How We Are Changing Life, Gene By Gene—a highly accessible book about how insect pests, weeds, disease organisms, wildlife, and even cancer cells evolve in response to the chemicals and drugs we use to contain them. I particularly focus on the skin-crawling case of bedbugs:

Bedbugs are a particularly intimate example, at least from the human perspective, of the broader trend. Surveys of exterminators report that between 2001 and 2007, the number of bedbug infestations across North America increased 20-fold, concentrated in places like apartment complexes, college dormitories, and homeless shelters in major urban areas. Some of this resurgence is due to international travel. Major ports like New York, San Francisco, and Miami are epicenters of bedbug activity, and genetic surveys show that the bugs are arriving from multiple populations, not spreading from a single geographic source. Still, a large part of the bedbug revival is attributable to the fact that the bugs have developed a resistance to many of the insecticides that kept them down for decades.

Go read the whole thing, and try not to scratch.

That show you like is going to come back in style

Oh, man. This is exciting, but I also feel a sense of creeping dread, as though I’m trapped in some sort of interdimensional cineplex of televisual entertainments and, after strange ages of wondering among endless theaters showing long-form serialized dramas of violence and disturbance and vague supernatural malevolence, I’ve just brushed aside yet a crimson curtain and walked into the room where I first met that backwards-talking dwarf.

He is holding a cup of coffee.

Upside down.

Hat tip to Steve Silberman.

Stuff online, marathoning monarchs edition

Fall Foliage

Frick Park, Pittsburgh. (Flickr: corbin_dana)