This collection of links and personal news is somewhat delayed, and very possibly the last one for the year assuming Christmas has its usual influence on free time. I’ll start with some news, break it up with some links, and finish with more news.
A recent highlight around here was the visit of some friends from England (the Dessons, who I caught up with when I was over there in September). They arrived via Perth on 25 November, and we’d planned to have tea at my place, but the flight was delayed (apparently the wing defroster malfunctioned) so there wasn’t time for more than a quick chat at the airport. My parents and I had tea at Glenelg while waiting for the re-scheduled flight. At the end of the evening, my parents drove the Dessons home to their place, while I went home in a taxi.
The Dessons visited my place on 6 December, on their way to exploring other parts of the country. I served a simple lunch (which nevertheless included combinations that were new to them), went for a walk, came back for coffee, and showed them my calendar collection. Had a really great time.
Now for the links, of which there are quite a few.
- Prior to my previous link collection, there was the disgraceful pepper spray incident in America (more here). which I didn’t link to at the time because I don’t generally do politics, but I was as outraged as everyone else. Later I read an interesting article about the memification of the incident, which I think definitely merits a link.
- Winners of the National Punctuation Day competition have been announced (there’s no permalink, unfortunately). My entry — which I shared here — did not win, but I believe it’s alluded to where the announcement says: “We also had a 140-character tweet, but it had three sentences, so it qualified for a prize (it didn’t win).“
- The Mars Science Lab, aka Curiosity, is on its way to Mars. There are any number of links with further details I could point you to, but I’ll let you find them if you’re interested. There are plans to photograph it when it arrives.
- Very long article about the history (and other aspects) of mice and rats in scientific experiments. Confession: I’ve only read the first 1/3.
- Fossil of not-quite-avian dinosaur eating fully-avian dinosaur. Reminded me of this, which was one of the sources for my science history trivia quiz. Only this time we have the culprit.
- Fossil evidence that teeth evolved from scales.
- A look back at how we learned some of what we know about Venus.
- Developing moral system of babies, illuminated with stuffed toys.
- Why cells are probably more complicated than you thought.
- Naming elements under pressure is harder than it sounds.
- On the evolution of dogs.
- What to look forward to, and hope for, regarding the Higgs Boson.
- Superstitions about corpses in 19th Century England.
- Things you probably didn’t know about laughing chimps, mathematical parrots, and cunning dingoes.
- Why beehives behave a bit like brains.
- Empathy wins over hunger if you’re a rat.
- Linguistic analysis of lolcats.
- Finally, having browsed the finalists for Open Lab 2012, my personal favourites are #1 (on pirates) and #12 (on fluids).
The rest of my news:
I started reading Babel’s Dawn (the book by Edmund Blair Bolles, whose blog of the same name I’ve been following for some time), but got distracted on other things and haven’t finished. I have to say my feelings are mixed. One of my biggest criticisms is that Bolles misrepresents what biologists mean by levels of natural selection, but I don’t want to go into details before I’ve finished the book.
I made an offering to the fairies, which they accepted after about a week. You’ll have to beg if you want to know what I mean by that, though.
I bought some new tinsel for my parents’ Christmas tree. I could take a photograph, but perhaps better to show it on the tree.