Day: November 4, 2011

Friday, 4 November 2011

08:27 – Here’s the final front cover image for the biology book. There may be a few changes to the text, but otherwise this is pretty much what it’ll look like. Thanks to Mark at O’Reilly, who took the cover image I shot and did his Photoshop magic on it to get rid of the lighting flaws and other artifacts.

About the only change I suggested other than minor tweaks to the text was the background color. The chemistry book uses blue, and I thought it was obvious that the biology book should use green. And the forensics book, once we get around to actually publishing it, should be red (or at least maroon). Physics, when we eventually do that one, should be black.

Barbara worked a full day yesterday, and was delighted to do so. Unexpectedly, Colin was no worse than usual. True, he did pester me constantly to go out, but there was nothing new there. Colin did disappear briefly while we were on a walk. Like all Border Collies, Colin wants to herd anything that moves. This time of year, on breezy autumn days, he has his work cut out for him, herding blowing leaves.

The incident occurred as we were returning from our walk, approaching our house. Our next-door neighbors have a huge pile of leaves at the curb. As we approached it, Colin took off in pursuit of a blowing leaf. He went airborne just short of the leaf pile, and plunged into it. So, there I stood, holding a roller leash that extended into the leaf pile, with no dog visible at all. After a moment, the leaf pile started to ripple and shift, and a Border Collie pup burst out the other side. In his mouth, he carried one leaf. I can’t swear that it was the same leaf that he took off in pursuit of, but I suspect it probably was.

I was working on a new group of lab sessions yesterday, and I couldn’t decide what to name the chapter. As I mentioned to Barbara later, as a librarian she’s used to a well-defined taxonomy that doesn’t change other than to make room for new subjects. Biological taxonomy, on the other hand, changes like dreams, particularly with the advent of DNA analysis. A species may be moved from one genus to another, or indeed may be assigned as the sole member of its own new genus. A genus may move, in whole or in part, from one phylum to another, and even phyla may be moved from one kingdom to another. Even the framework changes. What is a kingdom in one taxonomic system may be a sub-kingdom or even a phylum in another. For that matter, some scientists make a convincing case that the whole kingdom system is invalid and that if we are to have a valid taxonomy it must be on a monophyletic basis. But the real problem is that life is messy and doesn’t fit itself into a convenient two-dimensional matrix. I suppose it might eventually be possible to classify all life in an n-dimensional matrix, but I sure wouldn’t want to attempt it.

Oh, yeah, my chapter title. It started out “Investigating Protista”, changed to “Investigating Protozoa”, and then changed again to “Investigating Protists”. I finally settled on “Investigating Protista/Protozoa/Protists”.

14:45 – I’ve sometimes posted Pat Condell videos here, often noting that I generally agree with Pat but that he’s a bit mealy-mouthed for my taste. Actually, I’m sure that Pat hates and despises islam as much as I do, as evidenced by his latest video.

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