Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

Out of the water and back again

September 19, 2020

In the 9/21 issue of the New Yorker, this Lila Ash cartoon “Evolution of Man”:


(#1) New Yorker description of the cartoon: The evolution of man from a fish to a human throwing their phone in the water, and swimming in to retrieve it.

Yet another variation on the Ascent of Man theme; there have been so many of these on this blog that there’s a Page cataloguing them, here.

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While you’re up

February 22, 2020

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from yesterday, on running evolutionary errands:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

Venture Fish crawls out onto land, no doubt to return after foraging there, then will venture onto land again, and in time its descendants will have become amphibians, and then, well, you know the story.

But why does Venture Fish go on land? It insists on doing this for some reason — the primary reason for the act —  that is inscrutable to its aquatic companion, but Home Fish asks that Venture Fish meanwhile run an errand: fetch some things on the trip, thus supplying an additional, secondary reason for the act.  Home Fish uses the format BACKGROUND CONDITION + REQUEST:

BACKGROUND CONDITION: If you’re going out / Since you’re already up / As long as you’re up / While you’re up / …

+ REQUEST: (could you / would you / why don’t you / please /…) VP-BSE

— made famous in the slogan for an early 1960s ad campaign:

as long as you’re up get me a Grant’s

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Back to the swamp

January 3, 2020

Liana Finck in the January 6th New Yorker, with a seasonal evolution cartoon:


(#1) Going back: devolution + home for the holidays

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Two evolutions

April 21, 2019

Two sharp cartoons on human evolution, one from the viewpoint of gender (by Eduardo Saiz Alonso, apparently from several years ago), one from the viewpoint of climate change (by Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) in yesterday’s Economist):

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News for pumpkins: art and science

November 3, 2018

Two bits of recent pumpkin news: the pumpkin as an artistic platform; and the evolutionary history of pumpkins.

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Pillowtalk

November 25, 2017

It starts with pillowcases and pillowslips, moves to pillow-beres or pillow-biers, and from there to pillow bears, and also pillow-biters — the scourge of Australia, a continent famously “swarming with raving shirt-lifters and pillow-biters”. And from there to gay pillowcases and throw pillows. And on to facial expressions during, ahem, receptive anal intercourse. Get into bed, and before you know it, you’re getting fucked, ecstatically. The scene evolves:

(#1) Gay Evolution Pillow Case (designed by Joe Monica) from Cafe Press: the evolution of mincing (color me purple, honey)

(There will be seriously racy pictures of mansex. But even without them, after the first part, this posting is not for kids or the sexually modest.)

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Mahonia, Berberis, Ilex

October 17, 2017

An adventure in plants, their appearance, and their taxonomic status.

It starts with a recent visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, where I encountered this pretty small shrub, in bloom, labeled Mahonia ‘Sweet Caress’ (photo from the net):

(#1)

At first glance, not at all like the mahonia shrub my father grew in our garden when I was a teenager: this plant has bamboo-like foliage, but the mahonia in our Wyomissing Hills PA garden had leaves that looked like holly leaves, and my dad referred to it as an Oregon grape holly: grape for the blue berries on the plant during the winter, holly for the prickly Ilex-like leaves, and Oregon for its origin in the shady forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Now it turns out that the holly-leaved mahonia of my youth and the bamboo-leaved mahonia in Gamble Garden are shade-loving evergreen plants with similar yellow flowers and blue berries, and are in fact both in the genus Mahonia, very closely related to barberries (in the genus Berberis). Both Mahonia and Berberis are in the barberry family (Berberidaceae) — with nothing much taxonomically to do with either hollies (in their own plant family, Aquifoliaceae) or bamboos (in the grass family, Poaceae).

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Ascending and parting

October 13, 2017

Two cartoons from the October 16th New Yorker: a Jason Adam Katzenstein riff on the Ascent of Man cartoon meme and an Emily Flake & Rob Kutner absurdist updating of Rick and Ilsa at the airport:

(#1) “I’m going to e-mail you this op-ed about how your generation is ruining everything.”

(#2) “If you don’t get on that plane…there’s also the 5:43, then the 9:27, but that’s got a layover in Atlanta, then…”

To understand these cartoons, you need a lot of background information, and you also need to recognize the scenes depicted in them: in #1, the Ascent of Man meme; in #2, a specific scene from the 1942 movie Casablanca. (If you don’t know Rick’s passionate speech to Ilsa in that film, #2 might only seem ditheringly silly.)

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Revisiting 1: Will McPhail

August 25, 2017

Cartoons by Will McPhail, last seen here in three cartoons on 4/15/17, in particular a wordless cartoon (in which God slam-dunks in an angel’s halo). Now from the August 28th New Yorker, this complex exercise in cartoon understanding, drawing on several pieces of very specific cultural knowledge:

(#1)

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Toxic moments

May 13, 2017

First, a story came by on NPR in which a tale of five dead hunters in Oregon played a central role, as did the terrible poison tetrodotoxin. And then an episode of the tv series Death in Paradise in which this poison plays a central role. Rough-skinned newts, pufferfish, and garter snakes all have parts to play in the story, as do arms races in evolution. And of course tetrodotoxin and the entertainments of Death in Paradise.

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