- This week, at The Molecular Ecologist: Tracking pollinators’ fungal hitchhikers and talking preprints at Haldane’s Sieve.
- Get a grip, people. How to respond to Ebola in the U.S. productively; and how not to.
- I’m shocked, shocked! The “Ark Encounter” creationist propaganda park stands to lose state subsidies over discriminatory hiring practices.
- I’m a bit disappointed there aren’t three simple laws. Isaac Asimov ponders how creativity works.
- “The Country of the English People”. How the early United States looked to the Ottoman Empire.
- Because you’re wondering how Yossarian takes his coffee. Literary Starbucks.
- Preferably for the sensible candidate. U.S. citizens, find your fucking polling place so you can vote next Tuesday.
Monthly Archives: October 2014
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.
New trailer for 2001: A Space Odyssey because yes please
Stuff online, grass of the field edition
- My latest in the LA Review of Books: How living things are evolving (or not) in response to human activity.
- From the front lines of the outbreak: The cultural links between ebola and zombies; how useful airport screening will probably be; the basic science that could have prevented this.
- Break’em down for parts. The best mutualists are the ones you can recycle when you’re done with them.
- Looks effective, in a small trial. We now know we can transplant gut microbes using the less awkward end of the alimentary canal.
- Fun! What it’s like to have right-wingers attack your NSF grant.
- Wake me when he’s governor. An Idaho state legislator who doesn’t hate Federal conservation agencies.
- The NRA is killing America. A university is unable to do anything about death threats against a guest speaker because of concealed carry laws.
- Set irony to maximum. Turns out we did find some WMDs in Iraq — they were from the U.S., and dangerously old, and the Pentagon covered it all up.
- Mortality sucks. We live among the dead.
- He’s seriously the best thing on this show. How Andre Braugher makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine the best.
- From slates to whiteboards. A brief history of the blackboard.
- Requiescat. The ScienceOnline organization.
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.
Hat tip to Steve Silberman.
Stuff online, marathoning monarchs edition
- Going down. A new study estimates that worldwide wildlife populations dropped more than 50% in the last 40 years.
- Long-haul leps. There’s a simple genetic basis to whether or not monarch butterflies have the endurance to migrate.
- Good news/bad news. Missionary doctors are providing critical services across Africa—but we don’t know how well they’re doing.
- And we don’t know what most of them do. U.S. environmental regulations aren’t keeping up with all the chemicals we’re dumping into the environment.
- Especially when its this integral to the literature? How do we deal with the racism of classic literature?
- Don’t try this at home. Or anywhere else. A guy who studies the human gut microbiome tries to go paleo.
- Too good to be true might just be. A tiny, long-isolated population of rare fish turns out to be not-quite-so long-isolated.
- Hey! I know some of these. The green and bucolic dumpsites of Pittsburgh.
- Am I really the only one who already knew you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps? Deflating the American legend of the self-made man.
- Possibly the worst. Here is a tumblr devoted to very bad cats.