60 thoughts on “Professor Ceiling Cat haz a sadz

  1. Just to comfort the sad Professor: I have no idea what candy corn is but I’m surely going to translate the fascinating post about sexual selection in ancient animals. So Polish readers will have a chance to read this substantial post and will never know about candy corn!

  2. Just putting more thought into the sexual selection paper. I don’t actually take time to print out many papers, but this one I did. Can’t wait to read it. Comments coming soon.

  3. If you’re measuring this by relative number of comments, you should reconsider. Virtually everyone in the U.S. would feel competent to speak to the issue of candy corn. Paleontology, not so much.

    1. Whereas I could understand and learn from the sexual selection post (though don’t know enough to make any meaningful comments), but have absolutely no idea what oreos or candy corn are, even after looking at the picture.

    2. I second that. Never had the privilege of eating candy corn.

      Some of us are intimated by the very intellectual/knowledgeable posters, readers and commenters here, and will even refrain from verbalizing even burning gut reactions to issues of religion!

      Loved your video interview too – very articulate, fluent and encyclopaedic in knowledge!

      1. Candy corn, IMO, is really vile: Just sugar/flour paste with no flavoring added, colored and molded into shapes.

        Oreos aren’t much better. They only come into their own when you crsuh them and mix the crumbs with vanilla icecream (“cookies and cream” flavor).

        Oreos are black, dry biscuit halves (not much flavor, sort of like dark chocolate; but not really) with a shortening-sugar paste in between (maybe a little vanilla in the paste, not sure).

        I do like a lot of junk foods (including Cantonese food with brown sauce, in addition to proper Sechuan and Hunan cooking) but Oreos and candy corn? Not so much.

    3. Agreed. I read WEIT daily because I enjoy learning (and cats) but I donā€™t feel comfortable enough to comment intelligently on paleontology or many of the other serious subjects.

  4. Give us a break.

    Looks like a good email. I haven’t taken the time to read it – yet.

    Candy corn was immediately deleted.

  5. For FWIW, my feline hidden master, I read but don’t comment on your biology posts because as a non-biologist (my qualifications are in Astrophysics), I have little substantive to add. They’re bloody awesome though.

  6. Depends on how long it is and who writes it. My even remotely long posts go over like a lead balloon except for my loyal friend / commenters. Sometimes I get better results if I make the posts a series and distill the info down a bit. My readers do have busy lives and can find the same info I post in other places if they want to know about it.

  7. Everyone eats, so all food posts get moar attention.

    Even people unconscious for months get ‘fed’, but they aren’t thinking scientific thoughts!

  8. I wonder if you have the statistics of individual post views? Maybe the disparity wouldn’t be so high if you judged by that rather than by number of comments?

    On the other hand, because you put everything above the fold, you may have a lot less power to distinguish “comment worthy” and “read worthy” posts since people never have to click through to read, though they will have to click through to comment.

    1. Yes, this. And we’ve been through this before. Most people don’t comment unless they think they have something interesting or valuable to say. Dr. Coyne has in fact specifically requested that we NOT comment unless it “adds to the conversation.” (Or words to that effect) Well anyone can have a valid opinion on candy corn and comment away, but most of us have nothing of value to add to a post about sexual selection in the fossil record. It doesn’t mean we didn’t read it and enjoy it.

  9. What I found most interesting about the orginal (sexual selection) post is how hard it is to distinguish sexual dimorphism from different species.

  10. Answer:- “Yes, but since when are WEIT posts measured by number of comments?”

    I would love to find a biology post here every day ~ in other words the posts I’m least qualified to comment on are EXACTLY the ones I want to read.

  11. Oh god, my guilt knows no bounds. Most of us are probably only able to steal quick glances on smart phones during the day and some of us aren’t qualified to comment on such things. Be happy Professor Cat, I command you!!

  12. I read both, and commented on both, but didn’t subscribe to the candy corn post. So the sexual selection post will hold my attention longer, if that’s any consolation.

  13. Enjoyed both posts, but for different reasons.
    Couldn’t comment on the fossils without opening the “collectors vs. museum” can of worms, do not like candy corn or oreos, and mah kittehs has sadz cuz they not nommin’ fish. Must go buy cat food.

  14. Yes, Jerry, I promise I’ll get to the sexual selection in ancient animals, but right now I’m so helplessly worked up over Romney’s shameless & reckless trying to score political points off of murdered Libyan ambassadors.

    Every time I think this country has hit the bottom low point in politics, a new bottom comes along.

    1. And, amazingly, some people are cheering him on!

      I truly shudder to think of Romney in charge of our nuclear arsenal.

      Lesson: The Tea-baggers don’t give a rats behind about doing anything intelligent or sensible. They are the epitome of self-centeredness and crotch-grabbing macho bullshit in the US.

      Not that I have a strong opinion …

  15. Just now scanning today’s posts to see what
    I’m going to read later. Rest assured, even
    if it takes a day or two to get around to them, I ALWAYS read your biology posts. The food, music, boot posts—sometimes yes and sometimes no. The whole mix is great, but for me, the
    biology posts are the real sweet spot!

      1. pssssst….Will, this ain’t no blog; it’s a website, but I know what you mean. This is the only website of ANY sort that ever caused me to listen to Karen Carpenter with fresh ears and find something to like in her music. It’s also started making me soft on cats, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not!

  16. Well, Oreos are bad and candy corn Oreos are a crime against Nature.

    If you want more comments you have to go for the really disgusting and revolting, like a Hough argument for Why My Wyoming Mudpot Boils or Who Gives a Rat’s Ass What Hough “Thinks” and I use the term lightly.

    I’m telling you, you’ll get a lot of traffic if you post something about a squid Oreo. You know something that nobody in their right mind would study combined with something that nobody in their right mind would eat.

  17. Dr. Coyne:

    I’m with a number of others. I come here for three things: biology/evolution (but I’m just learning, and have nothing much to add), the glorious savaging of religion (but all my expertise is in fundamentalistic religion, so I don’t add much to the posts about Sophisticated Theology), and the marvelous erudition and wit of a large number of people who comment here.

  18. Prof Coyne,

    You’ve made similar comments before on page view comparisons, but I really don’t think you have reliable page view numbers. Everything on your site is above the fold, so for someone like me who doesn’t read many of the comments, you see very few page views on specific posts. I probably only click through on about 5% of posts, but I read literally every word you write on here except for some of the free will stuff. In the text of the candy corn post, you actually encouraged people to comment on whether they like candy corn, which probably resulted in inflated page views. I bet your highest page views come when you are wearing exotic boots, and everyone has to read the comments to find what animal they came from. Hiding stuff below the fold would give you a better idea of what people are reading. But please don’t do that, because I like being able to scroll through and read everything.

  19. That piccy was taken in very dim light – look at kitteh’s eyes open to f/1.4 – so how was there enough light for the camera?

    1. Notice the shadow under the cat’s chin. The picture was taken with a flash. Typically that is a xenon flash tube with a duration of 1/1000 sec.

      The cat’s irises couldn’t react that quickly and are still at or near the appropriate aperture for the ambient light.

      If the camera had been used with a red-eye setting, the pre-flash would have been such that a human’s irises would have time to close down. Likely the cat’s response time would be similar and you would then see a reduced aperture.

      1. Umm, yep. Actually, looking again, you can maybe see a reflection of the flash as a small white point in kitteh’s right (on our left in the pic) eye.

        But why no red-eye? – I guess the camera must have been far enough off-axis to avoid it.

      2. 1/1000 second is actually rather long for a flash duration. Studio flashes typically have very long flash durations, and the popular Alien Bees B800 has a T.1 time of 1/1100 second, and a T.5 time of about 1/3200 second.

        On-camera flash uses a different method of varying output, resulting in much shorter flash durations. At close distances, the flash duration may well be in the 1/20,000 second range or shorter. You don’t need anything exotic in order to do flash photography at 1/40,000 second — or even stop-motion flash with durations at that speed. And at 1/40,000, a 500 foot per second bullet will travel about 1/8″.

        Of course, synchronization is a whole separate problem. Freezing the action of a bullet isn’t the problem…catching it in the act is.



        P.S. Yes, sadz cat was shot with on-camera flash. But you’d also be amazed at what a Canon 5DIII with a fast lens can do…it’ll make a scene look like daylight where it’s too dark for you to even be sure that there’s a cat in the frame. b&

  20. It’s hard to comment on an informative post for the simple reason is that there’s little more to say other than “that was informative”.

  21. I don’t even know what candy corn IS! I love the biology posts – trouble is it is not always easy for people to contribute to the discussion. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you.

    Incidentally – Steve Jones was on In Our Time -on Radio 4, repeated tonight Thursday 13th at 9.30 BST then later as a 45min podcast – with Nick Lane talking about the origins of the cell http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mk8vh

    Chin up old stick!

  22. I had actually typed a comment after that fossilized sexual selection post, but I chickened out before clicking the ‘post comment’ button. My internal editor loosens up a little bit after he has had 2 or 3 beers.

  23. “Q: Is it possible that a throwaway post on candy corn can get more attention than a substantive one on sexual selection in ancient animals?”

    No! Your post on sexual selection has actually garnered more comments (as of now), and those are far more likely to be deliberative in nature. The candy corn comments may arrive faster initially, but that’s because they’re far more likely to be knee-jerk one-offs aimed at amusing rather than at stimulating the thought process.

    OTOH, is there sexual selection in candy corn? If not, then just how did it evolve such colorful plumage?

  24. I think I found a way to combine both posts, Oreo and selection, in a single thought experiment.

    If a guy offered his date a box of Candy Corn Oreos, his probability of sexual selection would drop to zero.

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