Author Archives: Richard Carter, FCD

Another new book review

I have just added a new review to the Books section:

A Rough Ride to the Future
by James Lovelock
Thought-provoking and infuriating.

New book reviews

I have just added two new reviews to the Books section:

A Sting in the Tale
by Dave Goulson
A fascinating book about bumblebees.

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
by Caspar Henderson
A 21st Century Bestiary.

Reckon you're clever, huh? So answer me this one…

Water into wine: teach the controversy!

The above image is the first in a planned series of light-hearted, Darwin-related image memes for posting online.

‘Nature Writing’ Facebook page and Flipboard magazine

I have decided to start ‘curating’ a Facebook page and corresponding Flipboard magazine to share links to new online ‘Nature Writing’ articles.

More information on my personal website.

Nature Writing Flipboard magazineNature Writing Facebook page

Why we can safely say Darwin wasn't left-handed

A link to a post on the excellent Brain Pickings blog just appeared in my Twitter stream, claiming that Charles Darwin was left-handed. My sceptical radar immediately went into overdrive. There's no reason why Darwin shouldn't have been left-handed, but the fact that I had never heard this interesting item of Darwin trivia before made me doubt its veracity.

Lots of minority groups like to claim Darwin as one of their own. Vegetarians are forever saying he was one of theirs (he wasn't). Homeopaths insist on claiming he was into homeopathy (he definitely wasn't). Born-again Christians still go on about Darwin's deathbed conversion to Christianity (total bullshit). As a general rule, if any minority group (excluding me and my fellow beardies) claims Darwin as one of theirs, you should take the claim with a huge pinch of salt.

A quick Google search revealed that there are an awful lot of websites out there claiming that Darwin was left-handed.

One reason I doubted Darwin's left-handedness was that I have seen samples of his handwriting, and it certainly doesn't look like the handwriting of a left-hander. But the bogus science of graphology clearly isn't conclusive proof, so I carried out some further research.

In 1877, Darwin published A biographical sketch of an infant in Mind, a Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy. The infant in question was one of his own sons. In the paper, Darwin wrote:

[T]his infant afterwards proved to be left-handed, the tendency being no doubt inherited—his grandfather, mother, and a brother having been or being left-handed.

No mention of the infant's father (Darwin) being left-handed, then.

Sorry, Lefties, I think we can safely say Darwin was right-handed.

Darwin portrait and sketches on display in Shrewsbury

From an email received:

I do hope this finds interest to you and your fellow Friends of Darwin.

My name is Victoria Clinton, an artist local to Shrewsbury. In 2009, I completed a portrait in oils of Charles Darwin to mark his bicentenary celebrations, which lead to me being featured in our local newspaper, the Shropshire Star, to mark the occasion. Nearly five years later I am preparing to display the same portrait along with a pencil sketch of Darwin inside the Shrewsbury Library, allowing the public to view these in Darwin’s former school. The exhibition is free to enter, and will run from 19th March for a minimum of 6 weeks. Both the local BBC Radio Shropshire and the Shropshire Star are covering the event.

My website which includes my portraits of Darwin can be found at: www.victoriaclintonfineart.co.uk

Missa Charles Darwin

I quote from an email that might be of interest to fans of Darwin and choral music—especially if they live in the London area:

A unique and intriguing blend of ancient and modern - UK premiere

missa

London Concord Singers
conductor Malcolm Cottle

Thursday 10 April 2014, 7.30pm
Church of St Botolph without Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

With its texts taken from the writings of Charles Darwin, its music based on the traditional polyphonic mass yet with the core germ of its musical structure coming from the genetic sequence of Platyspiza crassirostris (commonly known as Darwin's Finches), Missa Charles Darwin by Gregory W Brown (brother of the novelist Dan Brown) is very much a work for the modern day, forming a unique and intriguing blend of contemporary music with modern science and traditional musical forms.The mass was premiered in 2011 by the all male group New York Polyphony, and London Concord Singers are pleased to be presenting the UK premiere of the work, as well as giving the world premiere version for mixed choir. Missa Charles Darwin will be performed alongside Mendelssohn's Three Psalms, Op. 78 and motets by Alessandro Scarlatti and Charles Wood.

Gregory W. Brown - Missa Charles Darwin, UK premiere
Felix Mendelssohn - Three Psalms, Opus 78
Charles Wood - Glory and honour and laud
Alessandro Scarlatti - Miserere mei, Deus

Tickets price £12, under 25's £5, other concessions £10
Tickets available on the door
or in advance from Islington Music, 6 Shillingford Street, Islington, 020 7354 3185

Online Ticket sales from Event Brite
Image credit: Parma Recordings

Quite possibly the most informative 3 minutes and 23 seconds video on evolution ever

Philomena Cunk is the thinking man's Brian Cox.