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Just-So Stories in Ecology and Evolution

Originally posted on The Contemplative Mammoth:

"Just-so stories" are named after Rudyard Kipling's 1902 book of animal fables. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Just-so stories” are named after Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 book of animal fables. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sloth-moth symbiosis. Dinosaur-devestating asteroid impacts. Girl’s preference for pink. Are these fact, or fiction?

Sometimes, what we think we know about the natural world is based more on story-telling than the scientific method. Calling something a “just-so story” in science is almost universally intended as a criticism. The term is a reference to Rudyard Kipling’s collection of children’s fables that playfully use species traits as a framework for teaching kids important life lessons. “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin,” “How the Leopard Got His Spots,” and “How the Camel Got His Hump” offer moral, rather than scientific, explanations for evolution. They’re entertaining, but not factually accurate (hence the pejorative).

In science, just-so stories are compelling because they’re simple, elegant, intuitive, and fun to tell. Ecology and evolution seem to be especially susceptible to just-so narratives, as researchers struggle to attribute the patterns…

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Living Water

Originally posted on ikundayou: love & life continue:

Fact: A blender could easily be the most utilitarian and useful kitchen tool yet.

Case Study: Strawberries, banana, chocolate chip ice cream, yoghurt, milk, whey protein, and peanut butter can go in one mixer and voila! Food! And not only food, but an easy-to-drink, flavorful meal.

Caveat: You can only eat meals processed by a blender for six weeks. Yikes. Sorry dad. A broken jaw will do that to you.

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I’ve been assisting my dad this week in finding the best variety of smoothie-shake-blended meals that I can find. Of notable help has been Jaws Wired Shut, a clever name for a blog serving as a tool for people with eating issues. Nice.

In this process, I’ve been fiddling around and experimenting – though in truth, it hasn’t been very hard, having had worked for a smoothie shop one college summer and a string of…

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Reading to Write

Originally posted on Quoth The Wordsmith:

663092_26111643 You’ll often hear that in order to write, you need to read. Many prominent authors stick by it and advise aspiring writers to make a practice of always having a piece of literature on the go. It’s good advice, as long as you know that if you are reading to write, you need to look at the writing that you are reading differently. Here’s how I do it:

-Accept and note the areas that you have trouble with, whether they include dialogue, structure, characterization, setting, etc. Know and embrace the fact that you have room to improve.

-Pick a story or a book (or a few!) that really made an impression on you in terms of style, tone, and connection. It should be something that you don’t mind reading again, and that you would give a glowing review.

-Read the story slowly. Take your time. Figure out how that story…

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No Apologies

Originally posted on Blood and Thunder:

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I cannot believe it’s been 20 years – April 5, 1994.

I was 14-years-old. My best friend was coming over to my house after school to do what we always did then – listen to music in our baggy shorts, Converse/Doc Martens, Pearl Jam/Nirvana t-shirts and contemplate life. Life in our small, conformist, racist, go-nowhere town.

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Experimenting with Encaustic Art

Originally posted on :

Hi there! How are you? We have been pretty good over here. Enjoying the beautiful Spring blossoms everywhere and the more frequent sun breaks too!

Maybe it’s the Spring energy or the fact that I’ve started the second part to the Brené Brown online class but I’m feeling inspired! I have been wanting to try encaustic art forever but I’ve always been a bit intimidated by all that comes with it.

Well…this week I finally dove right in! I ordered my encaustic medium, a heated palette (mini griddle), hake brushes, encaustic boards and a heat gun. While waiting for it all, I devoured this book and watched every youtube video on encaustic that I could find.  Yesterday, it all arrived on my doorstep and I was like a kid at Christmas! All smiles, clapping my hands and doing a little jig. I was that excited. Dorky but…

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Love in the Age Of Autism

Originally posted on Rocky Parenting:

image I recently revisited a Temple Grandin TED talk, The world needs all kinds of minds , from February 2010. I have watched this before and my son and I even saw her speak on this topic at the local University. But, each time I watch it I get something new out of it. What really stuck out to me on this viewing was a question asked of her at the end. Speaking for parents, the moderator asked, “Is it unrealistic for them to hope or think that that child loves them, as some might, as most, wish?” The question crossed me as strange and I think, based on her expression it may have crossed Temple Grandin as strange too. She answered saying, “Well let me tell you, that child will be loyal, and if your house is burning down, they’re going to get you out of it.”

I have never…

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Giant Art Installation Targets Predator Drone Operators

Originally posted on #NotABugSplat:

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In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.

To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.

Bugsplats

The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites.

The project is a collaboration of artists who made use of the French artist JR’s ‘Inside Out’ movement. Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort which has been released with the hashtag

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