Okay, I’m ready to stop the march of progress now

As Douglas Adams famously and incisively put it,

“There’s a set of rules that anything that was in the world when you were born is normal and natural. Anything invented between when you were 15 and 35 is new and revolutionary and exciting, and you’ll probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.”

I think I’ve found my first post-35 technology about five years early, and it’s Google’s glasses.

Figure a few years for this to make it into general use, and we’re bang on my age of transition, I guess. I can think of nothing I’d like less than having my field of vision partially obscured by whatever G-mail thinks is most worthy of my attention—new messages, helpful advice, or the inevitable location-based text ads. It is just not that difficult for me to reach into a pocket and check my phone when I want to see my e-mail.

Also: notice that none of the people encountered by the Google glasses-wearing fellow in the video are wearing Google glasses? That’s because even people who do want G-mail alerts directly in their eyes don’t want to live among the kind of socially stunted cyborgs we’d all become if we wore these things, talking to the air and pointing at things that exist only in cyberspace.

In short, ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh.◼

Evolution 2012: Don’t forget your towel

Evolution 2012, the biggest annual meeting of evolutionary biologists, is in Ottawa this year. It’s time to start planning for the trip, and my fellow Tiffin Lab postdoc John Stanton-Geddes was just checking out the accommodation options around the convention centre when he noticed something

Zaphod Beeblebrox? Image from Google Maps.

That’s right. There’s a nightclub named after Zaphod Beeblebrox within walking distance of what will probably be more than two thousand nerds looking for a place to unwind after a long day of PowerPoint and high-intensity schmoozing. Yes, they apparently serve Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters. (And I also like the philosophy and mission statement.) Here’s hoping my presentation lands early in the conference schedule, because this place looks dangerous, in a good way. ◼

Carnival of Evolution, December 2011: A very special carnival of evolution

Forty-two. Photo by Valerian Gaudeau.

The new Carnival of Evolution, freshly posted over at the Ocelloid, is the forty-second iteration of the monthly roundup of online writing about evolution, the universe, and everything. Well, maybe not everything.

Highlights include, but are not limited to, Larry Moran illustrating the difference between census population size and effective population size, Hannah Waters on the evolutionary context of grieving, and Jenna Gallie’s description of her own research on rapid adaptive evolution by E. coli. There are also multiple contributions from Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, in case you haven’t already seen them. Go read the whole thing, and don’t forget your towel. ◼

A second chance for Last Chance to See

Just discovered: Stephen Fry joins Mark Carwardine in returning to the places and creatures visited by Carawardine and chronicled by Douglas Adams in the excellent little book Last Chance to See, a travelogue of desperately endangered animals. The second Last Chance, like the first, is principally a BBC documentary project – we shall have to see if a book grows out of Fry’s new journey. Regrettably, none of the video seems to be viewable this side of the Atlantic.