Tuesday: Hili dialogue, farm ducklings and some tweets

November 26, 2019 • 6:00 am

by Matthew Cobb

No farm rush hour today, I’m afraid – I have to be off early to give a talk to 1,000 schoolchildren about CRISPR gene editing, and the tweet won’t be up in time. If you want to check it out yourself, go over to the farm’s Twitter feed.

In Poland, Hili is thinking about epistemology:

Hili: How do we know what we know?
A: Sometimes from dubious sources.

In Polish:
Hili: Skąd wiemy to co wiemy?
Ja: Czasem z wątpliwych źródeł.
Down on the farm, they have some DUCKLINGS:

Look at this unbelievable sample of a thrips (a tiny insect) in amber. NB: The Eocene was 56-33.9 million years ago!

Exciting times on the picket line at Cambridge University yesterday:

YIKES. Drainflies are those tiny little fluffy moth-like flies you get hanging around your sink overflow sometimes. The larvae live in the gunk down there. They can also live somewhere else…

18 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue, farm ducklings and some tweets

  1. Ack! I had no idea drainflies could do that. Specially not with a monicker like that – psychodidae? I don’t want no insects goin’ psycho around my, um, dee dee 8-(


  2. Drainflies […] I had no idea that drain flies (Psychodidae) could get inside a person’s urethra!

    I’m trying to remember the name of those legendary Amazonian fish. They’re not Holy Zarquon’s Singing Fish. I hope – they’d be a bit muffled if they were. Candiru, that’s the name. But I really hope not the 40cm versions.

    1. From that Wikipedia article, it seems that the threat of candiru swimming up your dong may be mythical. But before you relax too much, there’s another sentence that may give you pause: “American biologist Eugene Willis Gudger noted the area the patients were from did not have candiru in its rivers, and suggested the amputations [of dangly bits] were much more likely the result of having been attacked by piranha.”

      Piranha. Right. I can feel my toes curling at the thought. Not just my toes, either.


      1. Don’t swim naked.
        Between the barnacles, fresh-water molluscs, and assorted bitey/ stingy/ sharp edged things, you don’t need candiru to persuade you to wrap up.

        1. You obviously swim in hostile waters.

          My favourite swimming location is the lagoon in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Lots of bitey, stingy, sharp things, but ONLY if you’re daft enough to go colliding with the coral or sticking your hand into holes. Also, stonefish, for which wear sneakers. If you stay near but clear of the coral and watch the tropical fishes, there’s nothing going to attack you. Except triggerfish in (I presume) breeding season, and they’re only capable of leaving tiny bite marks on your ankles which are annoying but non-dangerous.


  3. NB: The Eocene was 56-33.9 million years ago!

    The start of the Eocene is marked by a major extinction – the largest which doesn’t make the list of the “five Mass Extinctions”, by several percent. The extinction seems to have been the result of uplift of the area surrounding proto-Iceland (including the Forties Volcanic Province, the Faroes Volcanic Province, and the East Greenland Volcanic Province(s – they’re less well mapped)), leading to the discharge of accumulated methane clathrates into the atmosphere and around 6 degrees (Kelvin/ Centigrade) of global warming in approximately 6 to 8 thousand years. But the sands deposited because of that uplift also accumulated several billion barrels of oil, with some very nice clear floral and fauna changes surrounding the sands, making landing a horizontal producer into them relatively simple.
    Ah, the good old Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Times we’re recreating, artificially.

  4. As this site is dedicated to the love of cats, readers may be interested in looking at this NYT profile of the great singer Judy Collins, who is still performing three times a week at age 80. I am sure that virtually all people who came of age in the 1960s know of her. I doubt that her fan base has diminished much in the subsequent decades. Judy is a cat lover and owns three Persians.


  5. Thrips ,thems the little buggers that get behind the glass of mounted photos ,also got one behind the screen of one of my laptops .

  6. Re crispr: Excellent to see that a subject matter expert is speaking with school children on current science. Wow 1000! What ages are the children please, matthew?

    1. No more chemistry sets or even Legos; it’s “Daddy and Mommy, I want Santa to bring me a Mattel CRISPR Kit for Christmas.”

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