On November 24th, 1859, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Eventually shortened (thank, God) to, On the Origin of Species. First editions can easily fetch $200,000 at auction. Not all copies have been accounted for, so check your shelves. This one is owned by the American Philosophical Society, which also has a huge and entertaining collection of translations and even the draft title page that Darwin sent to Lyell. If you’re shopping for a gift for a young science fan, get Dr Jan Pechenik’s version, The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, As Edited for Modern Readers.
Category Archives: Photography
November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month (SPAM), and I do my part by reminding people that yams are something else entirely. As a foodie and an evolutionary biologist, I feel obliged to be a nudge about this. So here are three images to help.
First, a photograph of a white yam (Ipomoea rotunda) in a bin of sweet potatoes.
Second, a photograph of three cultivars of sweet potato (all Ipomoea batatas) next to a yellow yam (Dioscorea cayennensis).
Third, an illustration of how yams and sweet potato are related (they aren’t). As a bonus, I’ve also indicated the position of potato.
Please share this page with your family prior to Thanksgiving dinner. It will be one less thing to bicker about. If you need more details, here’s my “Yams versus sweet potatoes” page. Read it if you want to know why the slave trade caused the whole “yam” confusion problem.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to nudge a user to credit the person who made a photograph or video? I.e., users could click on Report, then indicate that an image has been posted without credit in a situation where creator might easily have been determined. There would have to be some algorithm, of course, that used reports from multiple reporters to somehow nudge the account holder to either delete the tweet (and repost with credit info) or to change the user’s future behavior. Maybe the offending, reported tweet would start showing up with red text to indicate to the world that they should be ashamed. Or maybe after a certain number of complaints the tweet gets (gasp) auto-deleted. Or (my preference) the account gets hobbled so user can’t post images anymore (but text-only Tweets just fine). There are lots of really fun ways to do this.
Here’s what does not appear to work: choosing to not follow those accounts that are flagrant copyright abusers.
What also doesn’t work is allowing only copyright-holders to file complaints to Twitter HQ. Not all artists have Twitter accounts, plus the forms are hard to find even if they did. Furthermore, most photographers don’t even know their images are on Twitter, uncredited. Encouraging a culture of credit is something that can be easily crowdsourced, and should be.
By the way, credit can be a Twitter handle (best) or just the artist’s name (when a good-faith search reveals they don’t have an account). And the credit can be in the text (best) but you can sometimes (or additionally) add credit by adding the text onto the image before you post (and that doesn’t eat up your 140 characters).
[ FYI, I made this image using a blank iPhone vector image from pixabay. No attribution requested by this company, but I added it anyway. ]
Just a few Galapagos photographs pulled from my Instagram feed. Click or mouse-over to read captions, and email me if you have any burning questions. I only had a few seconds to take many of these shots because the tour I was on was the regular “forced march” variety, and you’re required to stay in sight of the guide. Would love to go back for a more leisurely visit, ideally with a guide who has impaired mobility and walks slowly. I’ll be posting more pictures in the coming weeks, so follow me on Instagram if you’re a Galapagos fan.
When it’s too hot to take photographs outside, I can always go down to my basement to photograph camel crickets (“sprickets” to many). I know, lucky me. But if you have a moist basement, you probably have them, too. The ones below are the introduced species (I think), Diestrammena asynamora, from Asia. They drive me nuts. So much so that I wasted time collecting ways to get rid of them (see my page, “Getting rid of camel crickets“, if you’re interested). The list is not 100% effective, as photographs attest, but at least I don’t have thousands of them anymore.