Archive for September, 2011

Learning and Labor

30 September 2011

If nothing else comes of all this ruckus, at least it was a good opportunity to sell some L.L. Bean boots, am I right? Sorry, I kid because I care. Well, not that much. But, like everyone else it seems, I did find Tom Clynes’s profile of Felisa Wolfe-Simon just published in Popular Science simultaneously fascinating and icky. Sort of like a mason jar full of anaerobic mud, I guess. Sure the rotten-egg aroma is off-putting but it also hints at something interesting and, dare I say, other-worldly lurking in the muck.


David Dobbs and Carl Zimmer have each written thoughtful dissections-cum-rejoinders to the piece. And there is little for me to add. But I did want to call your attention to the timeline that Zimmer presents of the bi-polar responses to #arseniclife that played out in parallel online and in cytoplasm-space:

Notice anything missing there? Here, I fixed it:








Say wha?


14 September 2011

Deep in some dream last night, I flip a rock and reveal an isopod the size of a silver dollar. Excited I snatch her up to show somebody, I cannot say who, but as I walk the crustacean ebbs to standard lilliputian proportions. Or maybe it’s my hands that are growing.

This all sounds pretty Jungian, or maybe worse, and I suppose soil is the great collective unconscious of terrestrial ecosystems (huh?)

But I guess I’m just a little haunted for not making more of International Rock-Flipping Day 2011.

I did get the chance to turn a few stones. As it happened, some of the same stones as when I first observed the holiday four years ago. Not surprisingly, more or less the same crowd turned up. Minus a weevil, plus a planarian.

Here I count representatives of no fewer than six independent invasions of land, not even counting the plants or fungi — nor the vertebrates which, apart from myself largely didn’t show. Hunkered beneath the twenty million-year-old fossilized shell of a bivalve, one clade that never made it out of the water in any respectable way. Sort of crazy.

Totally forgot the most important part: