Fish Vision – Part I: The Evolving View of a “Gene”

This week I finally return to science writing!  To start off, I thought I would write a series of posts to describe and critique my recent paper in BMC Evolutionary Biology, “Divergence in cis-regulatory sequences surrounding the opsin gene arrays of African cichlid fishes.”  (This article is freely available to anyone.  You can view a provisional [e.g., not fancy] version of the paper by clicking here.  Or you can just take my word for it and read this post.)  In this paper, we ask what regions of the cichlid fish genome control the function of genes responsible for vision, and whether any of these regions differ between cichlids that see differently.  Today I’ll talk about the background to this study. Continue reading

Sen. Coburn and GMA attack Science and the NSF

Do any of you guys ever catch Good Morning America on your way out the door?  If you do, then you know that it is a morning “news” show that is light on news and heavy on fluffy crap like last night’s Dancing with the Stars results.  Well, their vapidity was on display again this morning when they reported on and aided Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Oklahoma) attack on science and the National Science Foundation. Continue reading

Book Review: Guests of the Nation, by Frank O’Connor

Last night I finished reading Guests of the Nation, by Frank O’Connor.  This book was first published in 1931 and, if you believe the prices on Amazon, is sort of hard to get a hold of now.  The title story is probably familiar to most people: it is one of the best anti-war stories in the English language.  It is transcendent, and after reading it, I always feel like the narrator who says at its end, “And anything that happened to me afterwards, I never felt the same about again.”  But although the story “Guests of the Nation” transcends all references to the time and politics O’Connor actually wrote about, none of the remaining 14 stories collected in Guests carry quite the same timelessness or impact.  But despite that, the book is quite good, with a few hidden gems. Continue reading

Still Busy, But Thanks to Everyone That Came to Graduation

Last Tuesday I said that I would talk about science again. Well, I’m not. Sorry, I’m still swamped this week.

But what I can do is thank everyone that came to see my graduation from UMD, as well as everyone that sent their best wishes. Thank you very much.  I enjoyed seeing everyone.

Here’s a picture from the event.  If I look tired and sort of crazed, that’s because I was. Graduations are awkward.  Plus those caps and gowns flatter no one. Continue reading

Book Review: Barbary Shore, by Norman Mailer

Last night I finished reading Norman Mailer’s Barbary Shore.  Barbary is Mailer’s second book, and it is neither his best seller nor his best read.  In short, it sucked.  But writing is hard.  And I’m sure Mailer worked diligently at this book.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.  If you want to read Mailer, read The Naked and the Dead.  Don’t read Barbary Shore. Continue reading