Neuron Culture

The day’s gleanings

Jerry Coyne relates that Birds are getting smaller.

Most students use Wikipedia, avoid telling profs about it When I talk to writing classes, someone will usually ask if I use Wikipedia. I tell them, “It’s often my first stop — never my last.”

Carl Zimmer has mashed up the data from his clever online survey and brings to us The Science Reader: A Crowd-Sourced Profile. He found that readers are going digital, but not to ebooks, possibly because they still love paper books, and some other good stuff. While Carl’s Mac was crunching the data, he peeked Through the Sexual Looking Glass.

A new paper finds that sometimes Population-level traits affect … invasion success. This is among invasive plants. Fodder for the ongoing debate over group selection.

Ford debuted its new police cruiser. This brought racing to my mind a line from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. Sheriff Bell’s discussing how some things get better and other things the old stuff works best. That way with cars. His 7-year-old unit, for instance, has the 454, you can’t get that any longer. He drove a new one at the dealer recently but wasn’t impressed. “That car couldn’t outrun a fatman,” said Bell.

As the big vote supposedly nears (haven’t we heard this before?), Sullivan, despite some bumpy road for reform advocates, believes The Momentum Is With Reform.

Which reminds me of something another McCarthy characters, I don’t recall which, once said, which Dems might keep in mind as they face the Vote They Seemed to Hope Would Never Come: “Scared money don’t win.” Or as Margaret Court once said, apropos of Martina Navratilova’s brave (and ultimately effective) net-charging against Chris Evert’s darting passing shots at Wimbledon in 1978, “Fortune favors the brave.” Court wasn’t so nice to Navratilova later. But she read her tennis game well. Martina wore Evert down and won in three sets (2-6, 6-4, 7-5) her first Grand Slam title of many to come. Few players have ever moved with such grace and economy or played more bravely.

Words to live by.