Frogs There is an African frog, known as the rubber frog, which evidently found a way to mimic the chemical signature of a particularly vicious type of ant. The ants don’t recognize this frog as something to attack and eat. This is called “chemical camouflage”.
Colleges and universities There have been a few articles in the news about student unrest in universities; for example. Now I linked to an article from The Nation (written by a professor) which, of course, enables this sort of behavior (e. g. students issuing “demands” to college presidents and the like).
What is going on? Jerry Coyne directs us to this Jonathan Haidt article: he claims that certain groups are conferred “victim status” even while in high school and everyone else is told to “shut up and listen” (so to speak). He comments that this happens in high school:
And Centerville High is not alone. Last summer I had a conversation with some boys who attend one of the nation’s top prep schools, in New England. They reported the same thing: as white males, they are constantly on eggshells, afraid to speak up on any remotely controversial topic lest they be sent to the “equality police” (that was their term for the multicultural center). I probed to see if their fear extended beyond the classroom. I asked them what they would do if there was a new student at their school, from, say Yemen. Would they feel free to ask the student questions about his or her country? No, they said, it’s too risky, a question could be perceived as offensive.
You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.
And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.
So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The “Next Yale” that activists are demanding will make today’s Centerville High look like Plato’s Academy by comparison.
There are some tough issues that deserve a fearless and complete intellectual investigation (e. g. is affirmative action a good idea?) and shouting down different points of view…well…that does no good at all. After all, are people spending lots of time, effort and money to find ways to be offended?
And speaking of higher education, I wish that columnists who write “colleges and universities should do this” actually knew what they were talking about. This person does not. Example: when he talks about faculty and summer, he should have researched the topic; he would have found out that many of us (tenured professors) have 9-10 month contracts. As far as costs: the new technology (computers, internet) is a huge cost driver. A professor writes a nice response.
Well, we had a lunch date with a friend and I got a latish start and, well, I didn’t feel super when I started out. But I went out anyway.
It was sticky (75 F, 84 percent humidity at the start; 85 F, 67 percent humidity at the end. But it wasn’t raining. Out: I was at the 7.91 mile mark in 2:03 (15:35 pace) and I made the return trip in 1:54 (14:25 pace); then I added a 90 seconds out, 90 seconds back along Cooper to get me to a full 16 miles.
1. A couple of young men saw me walking back and said “he is powerwalking like a MOFO”…and it was said in a cheerful way. I remarked that I had 15 down at that point.
2. Along the trail between Affina and Bishop Hill, there are some green frogs (rana clamitans) that were just croaking their hearts out.
3. A couple of cute GILFs were riding their bikes and came up on me and said “on your left” which sort of startled me. One said “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you” but I was pleasant.
4. The return trip was 10 minutes faster than my out trip, even though I really didn’t have that much of an elevation change advantage.
5. My knees and legs felt great during the walk, but I “felt it” afterward. But yes, this was one of my better “longish” walks over the past 5 years or so.
I think that I’ll do this sort of alternating; maybe 20 next weekend, then 16 the weekend after that and keep that pattern up until it is time to taper for my October marathon (Peoria). I might take on a winter challenge; either a straight 50 mile event (15 hour time limit and a paved bike path course) or perhaps one of those “Saturday/Sunday” marathon challenges. I am not sure; I need to see how my training goes. Or I might enter a 55 hour event with the goal of getting 100 miles in under 48 hours (easy bike path course). Who knows. But I think that for right now I need to focus on walking a “respectable” marathon (read: sub 5:30 in good weather).
From Why Evolution is True; click on the photo to get to a large photo that you can view at WEIT; I could NOT have found the frogs without the blown up version of the photo:
Don’t give up.
Here is the solution (again, I needed to look at the full size photo to find those froggies
The skinny: 20 miles in 4:59:18, with the final 4 miles (W. Peoria Heading course) being done in 58:49. I also added 6:14 in case my course was short (I sort of winged part of it) to get 5:05:32 for 20.4 miles.
Weather: overcast with periods of sun; 66 F with 65 percent humidity at the start; 80 F with 52 percent humidity at the finish; I beat the cold front with rain by about 10 minutes.
I did my best walking in the final hour; that might be because that was the flat part of the course.
For Peoria types:
Cooper to Laura (onto the BU campus) to Maplewood to Columbia Terrace. Then to Broadway all the way to McClure. Then to Bootz, Corrington, Bigelow to Forrest Hill (turn right). Take that to Central, go north to Peoria Heights (Marietta) to Prospect to Tower Park. Pit stop.
Then to Grandview, to East Grandview Dr., Harmon, Bishop Hill where I took the Rock Island trail (bikepath) all the way past Affina into Springdale Cemetery. Then to the bottom of Glenn Oak Park, up the hill, around the Park District Building, through the new parking lot along the sidewalk; exit, turn north on Prospect, turn left (West) on Forrest Hill….retrace the out part except when I got to Columbia Terrace, I kept going all the way to Parkside.
Then along Main/Western and turn onto Heading and go until it runs out. Then left, right to Swords, left, first left then down a few blocks and turn right to get to Rohmann, right on Sterling past the Cemetery and right on Kickapoo..through the brick street neighborhoods to Manor Parkway by the golf course..then to Waverly all the way to Rohmann then right to Western then right on Bradley ave. to Cooper.
It was a bit of everything; I saw other people on the course.
While it was my best long walk of the year and my best week since October 2014, it still wasn’t much. I have to be aware of that.
Along the way, I heard a call of a green frog (Rana Clamitans)
Can you spot the frogs? Clicking the link will take you Mathew Cobb’s post at Why Evolution is True (photo by Nash Turley)
I’m sure that you can, but this photo shows what evolutionary adaptation can do.
Also, WEIT provided a link to this little gem: these “rotating dots” are, individually, moving along a straight line path. Seriously…all of them are.
I am going to try to write some equations that describe this motion.
I wasn’t sure as to what course I wanted to do, so I found myself heading down the bluff toward the river trail. But my initial pace was painfully slow! It took me 16 minutes to do the first 1.03 miles (along Moss Avenue). So I knew that somewhere I’d need to put in some “pick ups” to get within shouting distance of a marathon race pace.
So I walked down the trail and up to the old Woodruff track (5.17 miles), did 32 laps on the track (mostly right on the outside line of lane 1 as it is a 400 meter track) and then walked back.
Times: 1:17:35 for the first 5.17 miles
1:50:07 for 8 track miles (3:07:42)
4:24:40 for 18.35
2 mile segment times: 27:48, 27:37, 27:23, 27:16 track
This walk: I had to stretch my back (McKenzie exercises) prior to getting out there. Also this weird weather has been playing havoc with my left knee. But I had no problems while out there.
It was drizzling (lightly) at the start. The out and back were the easiest parts; the stuff on the track was the toughest stretch. I kept telling myself “I goat this”. The final stretch was easier than I had feared it would be; note the “back” stretch is net uphill so it is good that it was a tiny bit faster than the outstretch.
This is my 5’th walk of over 17 miles in my build up. The marathon is 6 weeks away; that gives me 4 training weeks left. One week will feature a parent’s weekend trip to see my daughter, and one will feature a hilly half marathon; I might have to get in an easy 4 miles prior to that.
So my plan:
24 August: 20 or bust.
31 August: lift/swim (4 mile race on Monday), 2 September (Tuesday): 4 hours in the morning.
7 September: half marathon with extra (17 total)
14 September: Parent’s weekend. 16 September (Tuesday) : 4 hours on the morning.
I’ll have MP walks (10 miles) at pace on Wednesdays when I don’t have a long walk on Tuesday.
Reptiles and Amphibians: Barbara and I usually eat Indian lunch on Sundays. Afterward, we went to a Reptile/Amphibian exhibition. I think that the African Bullfrog stole the show. It is one of those frogs that sure looks like a toad. There were some geckos and other iguanas, turtles, and yes, snakes.
Scientists figure out a bit about a toad’s brain (observation, hypothesis, experiment, model, predction)
First a bonus: Jerry Coyne’s website has a post about mayfly emergence showing up on radar!
Toad Brain Activity
A friend alerted me to this post, which is about how a toad reacts to stimuli which mimics prey in the wild. There was a bit of a “ha, ha, watch the stupid toad get “owned”” but the videos are quite interesting and illuminate how science works.
First, there is the observation (toad hunting a worm).
(photo: Heidi Carpenter)
Then some conjectures are made: “what type of stimuli elicits a “hunt” response”?
Then there is an series of “experiment followed by a refined conjecture”; here we see what “looks like” prey to the toad and what doesn’t, and what sort of response does the toad make? Then we look at the signals in the toad’s brain.
It turns out that there are a couple of receptors involved: one if the “predator” sensor is activated, it sends a signal which cancels the “hunt maneuver” response. How is this verified: one can disconnect the “canceling signal” pathway.
Then the whole lot is modeled by a neural network which elicits the predicted response. Yes, there is some mathematics that underlies this, which includes signal theory, neural networks, probability and possibly fuzzy set theory as the “predator/prey” sets appear to be fuzzy.
The videos total 30 minutes but are worth watching.
Exercise There is some evidence that exercise can clear unnecessary stuff in the short term memory. Tests on mice have shown that treadmill running helps them forget electric shocks. But there is more in this article:
Adult mice that exercised on a running wheel after experiencing an event were more likely than their inactive mates to forget the experience, according to a paper from researchers at the University of Toronto, published in Science today (May 8). The results suggest that the production of new neurons—neurogenesis—prompted by the exercise wiped out the mice’s memories. They might also explain why human infants, whose brains exhibit abundant neurogenesis, do not have long-term memories.
“In general, hippocampal neurogenesis has been thought to be the basis for memory and they’re suggesting that it’s the basis for amnesia,” said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “That’s a very controversial and provocative concept.”
Infantile amnesia is common to all humans. Children typically do not develop long-term memories until age three or four. But why is that? Sheena Josselyn and her husband Paul Frankland, who are both neuroscientists at the University of Toronto, pondered precisely that question after noticing that their two-year-old daughter could easily remember things that happened within a day or two, but not several months in the past.
More specifically, they wondered whether it might have something to do with neurogenesis in the hippocampus—a brain region involved in learning and memory. Hippocampal neurons are produced rapidly during infancy, but neuronal generation in the region slows to a trickle in adulthood. “This inverse relationship between the levels of neurogenesis and the ability to form a long-term memory got us thinking that maybe one is due to the other,” said Josselyn.
Surf to the link to read more.
Energy: this photo was captioned: “How windfarms RUIN landscapes – shocking illustration of the destruction wrought by wind industry fanatics” (via @Jonathan_Leake on Twitter)
Government intervention and fisheries: Via Paul Krugman:
Brad Plumer tells an important, little-known tale. It begins with things going badly:
Back in the 1980s and ’90s, many fisheries in the US were in serious trouble. Fish populations were dropping sharply. Some of New England’s best-known groundfish stocks — including flounder, cod, and haddock — had collapsed, costing the region’s coastal communities hundreds of millions of dollars.
So the government got involved. But we know that government is always the problem, never the solution; so you know what came next.
Or maybe you don’t. In fact, government intervention has been a big success. Many fisheries have rebounded, to the benefit of the fishermen as well as consumers.
Fighting climate change isn’t really all that different from saving fisheries; if we ever get around to doing the obvious, it will be easier and more successful than anyone now expects.
There are types of frogs whose males dance to attract mates (surf to the page to see the video) but, unfortunately, these frogs are endangered. These are small, walnut size frogs.
Animals of Chernobyl
Since background radiation is too high for humans to live there, the exclusion zone around Chernobyl is like a wild habitat. So, scientists are seeing some interesting developments in the animals of the region.
GMO issues Here is a guide to looking at some of the anti-GMO stuff that is out there.
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