Tumblr? Really?

So, when I started a webcomic a year ago, and made Dev the main character, I assumed that this would provide sufficient outlet for the fourteen-year-old girl inside me. It looks like I was wrong, as evidenced by the fact that I now have a tumblr. If this doesn’t do it, someone’s going to have to come sleep over and braid my hair.

Anyway, it’s going to be a place for stuff where I’m like “Hey, that’s cool,” but then don’t really have anything more to add. It will probably be mostly images, but we’ll see how things shake out. In each case, click on the image for a link to the source. In general, I will privilege linking back to the original source, like the artist’s webpage, over the intermediate source though which it may have come to my attention.

It’s called Subjective Correlative, because, you know . . .

Here’s the link: http://subjectivecorrelative.tumblr.com

I’m going to try to use the queueing function, so there will be multiple (maybe three or four) updates per day, posted at some sort of intervals (random? regular? I don’t understand the tumblr.) during the day between 8 am and 10 pm Eastern (United States) time.

So drop on by!

It’s Toxoplasmosis week at Darwin Eats Cake

So, tomorrow (March 13) marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of my webcomic Darwin Eats Cake on its very own website (here). Normally, Darwin Eats Cake updates approximately twice a week (hemicircaseptanally), on approximately Monday and Thursday (circa-Mondarily and circa-Thursdarily, I assume). However, to mark this special anniversary occasion, we are rolling out a daily series of strips on Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite responsible for Toxoplasmosis. This bug was recently in the news thanks to a profile of Jaroslav Flegr published recently in the Atlantic (here).

Here are the first two of this week’s six strips:

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Best URL for sharing: http://www.darwineatscake.com/?id=102
Permanent image URL for hotlinking or embedding: http://www.darwineatscake.com/img/comic/102.jpg

And remember: Sharing is Caring!

Introducing: Cogitations of a Houseplant

So, with the various things on my plate at the moment, it has sometimes been difficult to maintain Darwin Eats Cake’s hemicircaseptanal (about twice a week) update schedule. Fortunately, Todd approached me with an idea to help fill in the gaps. You see, Todd sits around and thinks a lot, because, well, he’s sort of stuck in a pot. Anyway, he thought that maybe he could share some of his thoughts with the Darwin Eats Cake audience. He hopes that both of you will enjoy it.

The good news is that this means more regular updating. In fact, thanks to Todd, we were able to post three updates this week. The bad news, if we’re honest, is the quality of Todd’s thoughts.

For better or worse, here are the first two cantos of “Cogitations of a Houseplant, with Todd”

Best URL for sharing: http://www.darwineatscake.com/?id=99
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Best URL for sharing: http://www.darwineatscake.com/?id=100
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New Jersey this way

So, last night when I was catching the train home from Penn Station, I noticed for the first time that the platforms have these signs on them.

This struck me as mildly hilarious. My first thought was that it was a ridiculous sign for pedestrians, who were going to walk to New Jersey along the train tracks. Or maybe a dickish, passive-aggressive sign for people who were complaining about the trains: “Yeah, well, if you don’t like the train schedule, why don’t you just walk to Secaucus!”

My second thought, which I found much more charming, was that this was a sign for the trains themselves. You know, like, the train is ready to leave the station, but it has forgotten which way New Jersey is. Of course, train tracks are more-or-less one dimensional, and Penn Station is the end of the line for the New Jersey Transit trains, so there really is only one way to go when you’re leaving. Somehow that makes it all the more charming to me that these trains need a reminder of which way to go.

Silly trains!

Finally it occurred to me that the signs were so that the passengers would know which end of the train was the front. You see, some of the stations have platforms that are not as long as the train is, and I believe that the trains have a regular pattern of whether they have the front end or the back end of the train hanging off the end of the platform. For example, you can’t get off at our station from the rear three cars of the train. More advanced users probably know which end of their platform they need to be on to get their home (or car, or bus stop) with maximal efficiency. Knowing the orientation of the train allows them to optimize their seat choice.

When I realized that I had used my reasoning powers to reject the comically-geographically-impaired-anthropomorphized-trains hypothesis, I could not help but feel that my education had failed me.

The most astounding thing about the universe

So, Neil deGrasse Tyson is awesome, with a capital AWE. Here’s one reason why. This is a video of Tyson describing the single most astounding fact about the universe. His answer is from a 2008 interview, which has recently been set to music and accompanied by an excellent video by Max Schlickenmeyer.

via io9.

Of course, the other thing that I love so much about him is the way that when you look at him, his eyes are like “I would like to make sweet, sweet love to you,” but then his clothes are all, “but I am physically incapable of doing so.”

Just look:

I mean, seriously, how can you not love this guy?

Woman in supermarket has dirty, dirty pipes

So, you know that sense of satisfaction when you’ve just finished cleaning something? No? Me either, but, this woman certainly does.

Apropos of nothing, here’s a recent paper on sperm competition in Drosophila.

Yeh SD, Do T, Chan C, Cordova A, Carranza F, Yamamoto EA, Abbassi M, Gandasetiawan KA, Librado P, Damia E, Dimitri P, Rozas J, Hartl DL, Roote J, & Ranz JM (2012). Functional evidence that a recently evolved Drosophila sperm-specific gene boosts sperm competition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (6), 2043-8 PMID: 22308475

Short-term job opportunity for Ronin Anthropologist

So, on my recent visit to the Colorado School of Mines, one of the people I got to meet was David Muñoz, who recently retired as a professor there. He has started a cool initiative that he calls “Humanitarian Engineering.” I will write more about it when I understand it better, but, briefly, he wants to instill a greater sense of service, and a greater awareness of cultural issues, in tomorrow’s engineers.

You can read some more about it here.

But here’s today’s action item: Dr. Muñoz has been working to build a water system for a village in Honduras. The village dates back only to 1998, when it was founded by refugees from Hurricane Mitch. The “Humanitarian Engineering” angle means that this project is not just about creating the infrastructure, but also about integrating it into the existing social/cultural milieu. He had a cultural anthropologist on board with with project, but this person had to drop out unexpectedly at the last minute.

This creates a perfect opportunity for the Ronin Anthropologists out there: if you have the right set of skills, and you are currently un- or under-employed, you might be able to fill in.

If you are interested, you need to be a cultural and/or social anthropolgist. You need to be pretty fluent in Spanish. And, you need to be willing and able to go soon. The job would involve going down to Honduras ASAP (ideally sometime in the next few weeks) and staying for a couple of months. Dr. Muñoz has funds to cover travel and expenses, as well as a modest stipend (something on the order of $4000).

If this is something that you might, possibly, be interested in, contact Dr. Muñoz for details: dmunoz@mines.edu. If you have friends (or colleagues, or family members, or former students) who might be a match, please forward this information on to them.