Brexit rally

25 03 2019

Like Americans abroad (I suspect), right now — watching the UK’s slow-mo self-destruction — I am weirdly torn between being very homesick and very glad to not be home.  Of all yesterday’s demo photos from friends and family, this one captured my jaded mood the best:

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Another irresistible invite

24 03 2019

Ok maybe not quite the funniest or most surreal, but this lot do get points for making me think “Eeek, why me? Have they somehow seen the state of our fridge?”; for their use of multiple exclamation marks!!; and for naming themselves by picking two words at random from the dictionary:


Another amazing ability for a solitary Carnivore

24 03 2019

New research from Jens Malmkvist shows that mink mothers can recognise their own babies’ calls! This is surprising because the young are altricial, and females are solitary; which means that if a female has a small baby in her nest, it really is hers – no nest parasitism or allosuckling here.

Mink babies

Sunbears copy each other’s facial expressions

24 03 2019

A new paper in Scientific Reports shows facial mimicry in sunbears. There’s much surprise that a naturally solitary carnivore would do this, which I don’t really get: pretty sure sociality is a primitive trait for Carnivora, and even if that’s not believed any more (I must have been taught this in about 1991!), sunbear cubs often have siblings. Anyway, nice write up in New Sci here.

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More strange dreams

24 03 2019

Andrea’s through the monkey dream phase that (inevitably) marked her first couple of weeks in Davis.  Now it’s my turn, this time with a strange dream about Little Emma. Guess I really want her to come back!


The wisdom of Alan Alda

24 03 2019

Here’s a lovely interview with Alan Alda on his work improving the communication abilities of doctors (found by actor Paul Hopkins, who’s presented a couple of public speaking workshops to my Scientific Communications class).

A personality revealed

23 03 2019

Screenshot 2019-03-23 16.07.38

Ori Pomerantz just sent me this amazing and moving video about an autistic girl who was thought to be profoundly mentally impaired, until she started to express herself via a keyboard…

Email of the week

21 03 2019

From Emma running some confusing stats (don’t panic Emma, we all get like that sometimes):

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PGLS lesson

16 03 2019

Following my first tentative steps with R (6*5, that type of thing), today I had my first PGLS lesson (shared with Maria): a clear, super organised 3.5 hours from Emma involving thoughtfully chosen files and ready-to-paste code. That said, it was also exhausting, and filled me with renewed respect for her and Miranda.

Below are my dueling laptops, the bottom one for models, the top one for Skype. Look — I’ve drawn a parrot phylogeny! And in case you’re thinking “Wait, are Maria and Emma drinking wine?”, absolutely they were, to celebrate this last item of the class.


It’s a big day …

15 03 2019

… as I decided to finally try and learn R (with Emma’s help; this includes a PGLS lesson tomorrow!).

First step: download complete!

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