Jacinda has a duckling

June 21, 2018 • 8:00 am

. . . . or rather, a Kiwi. And as an honorary Kiwi, I’m delighted to announce that New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. The father is her parter Clarke Gayford.

The happy couple with their first child:

As the Guardian reported:

Ardern posted the news to her Facebook page, saying her daughter was born at 4.45pm.

“Welcome to our village wee one,” she wrote, next to a picture of her and partner Clarke Gayford cuddling the newborn.

“Feeling very lucky to have a healthy baby girl that arrived at 4.45pm weighing 3.31kg (7.3lb). Thank you so much for your best wishes and your kindness. We’re all doing really well thanks to the wonderful team at Auckland City hospital.”

. . . The former prime minister Helen Clark told Radio NZ that the birth was a fine example to young people in New Zealand.

“Jacinda’s done it her way, what a remarkable story.

“She’s taken it in her stride, New Zealanders have taken it in their stride … all round I think we’re showing huge maturity as a country with this.”

Ardern is taking only six weeks of maternity leave although she’s entitled to 26 weeks of paid leave. She has a country to run!

I add my congratulations to that of the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, though I don’t understand the Maori words (readers can help):

Gayford, a television presenter, announced that he will become the “First Bloke,” a stay-at-home dad. What a great country!

Oh, and the 37-year-old Ardern is only the second world leader in modern times to give birth while in office. (The first was Benazir Bhutto in 1990.)

Spring has begun!

March 20, 2018 • 11:15 am

At the exact second when this post goes up, it will be Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s still near freezing in Chicago, but the crocuses are poking up above the soil, and there is no snow on the horizon (sorry, eastern U.S.).

Soon it will be duckling season!


It’s Grania’s birthday!

June 23, 2017 • 11:15 am

I erroneously wished Grania a happy birthday about a month ago here when I saw a Facebook notification. Sadly, it was for her sister Gisela, and I erred.

But today IS Grania’s birthday, and I hope readers join me in extending congratulations to her for orbiting the Sun once again. Happy birthday, Grania, and thanks for your many posts, comments, and tips for posts!

Grania begged me not to post this, but the laws of physics dictated otherwise. Since she has the keys to this site, I hope she doesn’t go into the dashboard and delete this!

It is Grania’s birthday!

May 24, 2017 • 8:32 am

I just realized that today is Grania’s birthday. I know she’ll hate my posting this (and she didn’t mention it in the Hili Dialogue she wrote this morning), but it’s a chance for me and the readers to thank her for her service to this website. She has never refused to keep the site going during my numerous absences due to travel, and for that I’m immensely grateful. Not to mention the numerous posts she contributes herself.

Coynefest tomorrow

October 13, 2016 • 3:30 pm

A final reminder that everyone is invited to CoyneFest, which is a symposium at which my former students, colleagues, and other folks I know will give short (20-minute) science talks, mostly on the subject of speciation. The details have already been given (you can find them here), but I wanted to add that you’ll have the chance, for making a very small donation to charity (Doctors Without Borders) to get a commemorative button, designed by artist Tubby Fleck:


CoyneFest this Friday and Saturday

October 10, 2016 • 9:45 am

Final announcement: a symposium on speciation featuring some accomplished evolutionists, will be held this Friday and Saturday morning at the University of Chicago in honor of my termination of doing science. I’ve given the schedule before (go here), but here’s the poster, which I like a lot.


Everyone’s welcome, and it’s free. There are places to buy lunch, and there will be coffee and goodies during the breaks.


Theo becomes twelve today!

August 7, 2016 • 7:30 am
Theo, whose staff is Laurie and Gethyn in London, is having a special day today: it’s his twelfth birthday. You might remember him as one of the finalists in the Awesome Cat Confessions Contest, as he owned up to drinking his staff’s coffee. As the only cat I know who drinks coffee (and favors it black), today we’ll pay him homage. More than that, the coffee he favors is black espresso.
His staff has written the following words of tribute:
Theo turns 12 today.  He is a lovely black boy and a typical cat.  He is also anomalous in that he engages in some odd behaviour: like licking plastic and drinking coffee.  Not coffee: ESPRESSO.  He turns his little black nose up at regular coffee; but, laps up espresso.  When he hears the beans being ground, he comes running and hovers…until he can hoover.  Here is is drinking his favourite espresso…

Here also are some photos of him in the stages of his “fix:” taking in the aroma, gauging the depth, testing the temperature and finally digging in!





And here he is licking the coffee grounds out of the grinder:


HuffPo UK celebrates Dawkins’s birthday

March 26, 2015 • 4:15 pm

Today is Richard Dawkins’s birthday, and he is, I guess, as “strident” as ever, or so PuffHo UK says:

Richard Dawkins turned 74 today — and still no thunderbolt from the Heavens. The renowned scientist and strident atheist has been ruffling the religious for decades, introducing millions around the world to the beauty of non-belief. To celebrate the atheist-in-chief’s special day, here are 10 times God got chinned…

And they append ten videos in which “God got chinned”, including appearances by Hitchens, Dawkins, Kate Smurthwaite, Sam Harris, and others. They’re worth watching, though you may have seen some of them before.  The one with Hitchens on Fox News is new to me, and he was at his eloquent best.


Leon sends birthday greetings to Andrzej

March 26, 2015 • 1:00 pm

As I mentioned in this morning’s Hili dialogue (which you might have missed), my dear friend Andrzej, who constitutes half of Hili’s staff, turns 75 today—exactly one year older than Richard Dawkins (happy birthday, too, Richard!).  And Leon the Hiking Cat (via his staff Elzbieta) has deposited good wishes and a monologue on Andrzej’s Facebook page:

Leon: Is it your birthday today? There will be a cake, there will be good wishes.


I hope there will be a cake! Happy birthday, Andrzej!

Andrzej hears His Master’s Voice: