How to send me photos

May 13, 2022 • 8:45 am

A fair number of readers who have good photos that might be featured here have emailed me asking how to submit their photos. So that we have a permanent answer to this question, I call your attention to the sidebar, where, by clicking here, or on the site  on the left sidebar indicated by the arrow, all your questions will be answered. These include where to send ’em, how many to send, how to describe them (don’t forget the Latin binomials!), and so on.

New travels—and a note to readers

April 22, 2022 • 11:00 am

By this evening I’ll be winging my way to Tenerife via Madrid, and thence on a ship to Morocco, Spain, Gibraltar, and Portugal.  I’ve been to all these countries save Tenerife and Gibraltar, and am most excited about seeing the new places. I’ll also be visiting Jerez in Spain—a city I’ve never seen. It’s the home of sherry, and I hope to indulge in some sherry tasting.

As in Antarctica, I’ll be lecturing—this time to University of Chicago alumni, and perhaps to alumni of other colleges and institutions, as it’s a general “alumni” cruise. It will be fun to meet and talk to graduates of the U of C, especially those who went here decades ago.

The ship will be smaller this time: the Sea Spirit, which seems to be even fancier than the Roald Amundsen. A photo is below, and you can read more about the ship here

The upshot: I’m not yet sure how often I’ll have access to email until I return in early May, so posting may be considerably lighter. It will resume at its normal pace in two weeks or so.

Now, the note to readers.  Both yesterday afternoon and this morning I had a bit of a problem embedding tweets in the posts (this is, I think, a temporary glitch from Twitter), so when the subscribers’ emails arrived, no tweets were in them. This was also true on the website itself. I fixed it by simply tracking down the errant tweets on Twitter and embedding them again, which took some time. That fixed the issue, at last for now. But of course the original emails remain tweetless.

I always recommend that, when possible, readers view the posts on computers themselves rather than reading them in emails. The glitch above is one reason, but another is more important. I often update posts, not only fixing glitches and typos but also by making additions. Greg, for example, sometimes puts in an addendum.  These will not show up on the emails, which don’t get updated, but you’ll see them on the website.

So, if you can, avoid reading my site via the emails that go out when a new post goes up. Instead, check the site itself online from time to time. As I almost never post after 2:30 pm Chicago time, if you go to the site after that you’ll see the entire day’s offerings.

Thanks! I am Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) and. . .

Once again, please try not to dominate the comments section

April 18, 2022 • 2:00 pm

I have to remind people of this from time to time as some people comment over and over again in comments sections, often involve in a back and forth that is almost invariably unproductive. I remind you once again of stricture #9 in Da Roolz:

Try not to dominate threads, particularly in a one-on-one argument. I’ve found that those are rarely informative, and the participants never reach agreement. A good guideline is that if your comments constitute over 10% of the comments on a thread, you’re posting too much.

I can raise that to 15%, but that’s one comment out of six or seven, and I think that’s sufficiently frequent.

Thank you for your adherence.

Hili dialogue mis-posted again

April 15, 2022 • 6:47 am

If you subscribe to this site and have a phone (or computer), you’ll have received an email message that the Hili dialogue was posted, but the link given probaably doesn’t work.  That’s because, for a reason I can’t fathom, the computer posted it as if it were April 14, so it would be in yesterday’s lineup.

I’ve fixed it now, and if you’re using a computer you’ll find today’s Hili post right below this one, or at this link.  It’s in the proper place, as all things should be.

The problem is under investigation, but all is well for now.

—Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus)

Hili dialogue failed to launch today. It’s up now.

April 11, 2022 • 5:31 pm

For some reason although I scheduled today’s Hili dialogue for 6:30 this morning, it didn’t go up, and I was just notified now by reader Jez.  I don’t know what happened, but you can find it here or by clicking on the screenshot below.  Do read it if you have time; I’d hate to have wasted all that effort!

Also, if you notice something way out of the norm like this, do email me ASAP.


February 21, 2022 • 9:00 am

I’ll be going to Antarctica and the Falklands next Sunday, and will be gone a bit more than four weeks. I suspect I’ll be busier with lecturing this time than I was two years ago, so I wanted to warn people in advance not to expect much posting during my absence. Last time I was there, it took forever to post, as internet in that area is—as you’ll understand—slow and dicey. To post photos, for example, I had to downsize each one to about 250kb, and it was time-consuming.

All I can say is that I’ll do my best to keep readers informed and also to send photos when I can.  Because of the email situation, I ask that you keep communications with me to a bare minimum, i.e., no wildlife photos. If you have important articles, send them, but please combine them into one email every week or so. As always, I’ll do my best.

This week’s postings will also be sparse as I have a gazillion things to do to prepare, for I’m doing another lecturing trip—this time to the Mediterranean—two weeks after I return. More on that later.

I wanted to put just one photo up of my last trip, but I got obsessed. Here’s why I wanted to go back so badly. (Click photos to enlarge.)

One of the world’s only three species of flightless duck!

On the way soon!

Once again: Is there a better word for “woke”?

February 17, 2022 • 8:45 am

I keep using the words “woke” and “wokeness” (and in fact the next post contains them); but in other places, or in private emails, people keep kvetching to me because I’m “always criticizing wokeness, and that’s rude.”

Indeed, “woke”, as I use it, does have connotations of the pejorative. But I use it like I use the word “Republican”: it stands for a set of principles that I happen to largely disagree with. But sometimes I use “Republican” as a neutral descriptor, as in “Republican senator Mitch ‘666’ McConnell”. (See? I usually sneak some disapprobation snuck in.)

Still, I’ve tried substitutes. “Politically correct” is passé, “The successor Ideology” is cumbersome and, to many, opaque. John McWhorter likes “The Elect”, but that’s a noun and not an adjective; one can use “wokeish” as an adjective. Even McWhorter usually reverts to “woke” in his NYT columns.

If you have a word that’s better, let me know. I put up a version of this post a while back, and the sentiment was overwhelmingly to keep using “woke” or its variants. What say you now?

Or perhaps I should stick with the pejorative usage and ignore those people who want me to lighten up on the woke. . .

Notes to readers

February 8, 2022 • 10:15 am

I have several items to impart today:

First, many people have asked how to send me photographs. I’m preparing a “page” that will live in the left sidebar telling you how to do this. In the meantime, please send photos to my email that you can get by clicking “research interests” at the upper right of the main page. Please follow the format that most people use: 12-15 pics at most, give a brief narrative along with species IDs, and don’t forget the Latin binomials! I of course encourage submission of photos, but please see that they’re roughly of the quality that I post daily.  (High!) Thanks.

Second, I keep bringing this up, and many people keep ignoring it.  The issue is of people over-commenting in threads, with the result that often a substantial fraction of the comments in a thread are made by one or a few people. In one thread the other day, for example, 7 out of 28 comments, or more than 25%, were made by a single person.

As I guideline, I refer you to this item (#9) in Da Roolz:

Try not to dominate threads, particularly in a one-on-one argument. I’ve found that those are rarely informative, and the participants never reach agreement. A good guideline is that if your comments constitute over 10% of the comments on a thread, you’re posting too much.

I’ll raise this to about 15% (one in 7 comments or so), but please try to be concise and try not to put up comments that don’t add anything to the discussion.

Also, please do not email me too often, as I often get several hundred emails per day, and it’s very time-consuming. And when there are so many, I can miss some, including important ones.  If you see an error in a post or have an urgent question, of course you may email me right away. Otherwise, try to combine your comments or links into one email sent every two or three days.

Finally, let me emphasize again that I always call for civility. Try to treat other people as if you were speaking to them personally (yes, I know, I sometimes slip up too). If you are addressing me, pretend you’re doing so in my living room. After all, that’s sort of what you’re doing. Lately, it seems, incivility has increased and I attribute this to the pandemic and people getting antsy and peeved. If you are heated up, I’d urge you to take a bit of time to ponder before you post something strong.

Thank you,



Upcoming post at 6 p.m.

January 21, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Because evening posts are often missed, I wanted to call your attention to a post I’ll be making at 6:01 (per agreement with a newspaper) involving YET ANOTHER multiply-signed letter defending a good biologist who’s been unfairly defamed. I can say no more, but do check the site or your email around 6 pm Chicago time this evening

In the meantime, this will be the last post until then as I have lectures to write for Antarctica. They’re now asking me to do some 5-minute “mini-talks” on evolution, a task I find very difficult.  I need to convey the idea of evolution in five-minute bits, and four of them.

Here’s what I’ve chosen (not in order), but the fourth one will be nearly impossible.

1.) What is the “theory of evolution”?

2.) What are the biggest misconceptions about evolution?

3.) How could you disprove evolution?

4.) What is the evidence for evolution?

I can do the other three in about 7-8 min. each, I think, but I have a 100-minute (two-session) lecture on the evidence for evolution that I used to give to my students.

If anybody can suggest other interesting 5-minute topics about evolution, put them below. One might be “why people oppose evolution”, but the answer is largely “religious belief,” and that doesn’t go down well to an audience on a cruise, who are not in the mood for any religion-bashing. Remember, these are for laypersons who don’t know much evolution,

The three things that, when I post about them, draw the most critical emails

January 18, 2022 • 6:06 pm

1.) Ivermectin (the world is full of pro-Ivermectin nuts, and believe me, I hear from them. I don’t allow most of them to comment as I consider them dangerous).

2.) The unfairness of allowing trans-women to compete with biological women in women’s sports.

3.)  Calling out what I see as anti-Semitism.

I can’t see any commonality among these topics except that there are Woke perspectives on all of them, and that (particularly for #1 and #2) motivates nearly all the criticism.