Over in the Reviews section, there's a new book review of:
A Buzz in the Meadow
by Dave Goulson
My local newspaper is running a photography competition. I am a keen photographer, so I entered a photograph (see below). Please help it to make the short list…
The competition has an overly complicated (and easily abused) voting process, but the easiest way to vote for my photo is to send an email as follows (clicking on the email address link below should pre-fill an email message for you):
Subject: Photography Competition - vote
Text of email:
(Photo of Buttercups & Mitchell Bros Mill)
#### Insert your name here ####
Important: Don't forget to insert your real name at the end, or your vote won't count!
The closing date for the vote is 21st November, 2014.
In case you're wondering, here's my photograph:
Darwin groupies in or near Reading in Berkshire this coming week might like to check out the new play, Darwin & Fitzroy, by Juliet Aykroyd. As the promotional material explains:
Set during the voyage of the Beagle and in later years, Darwin & FitzRoy plots the friendship and tension between Charles Darwin and the Beagle's captain, Robert Fitzroy. Both men of science and men of faith, Juliet Aykroyd's witty and poignant play charts the relationship between two giants of modern science on their celebrated voyage around the world, and catalogues the demons besetting both.
Uniquely, every performance of this play will be preceded by an event exploring Fitzroy's life, life scientific under sail, the music inspired by the Sea and the use of old ship's logs in modern climate research. Accompanying the play and the events will be an exhibition of weather-inspired art by two Reading artists, Julia Rogers and Roxana Tohaneanu-Shields.
I have it on good authority that beards will be involved. Excellent news! You can never have too many beards. But I guess I'm biased.
The Friends of Charles Darwin's home town was Pharyngulated last night, when PZ Myers paid a visit to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
The godless liberal, internationally renowned science blogger, and author of the Happy Atheist was in town at the invitation of the Friends of Charles Darwin and the Hebden Bridge Literary and Scientific Society to talk at the legendary Hebden Bridge Trades Club on ‘When Science Education Goes Wrong’.
PZ gave a typically entertaining talk, explaining how the creationism that plagues the USA and elsewhere today, far from being an ancient phenomenon, is a mid-20th-century American invention. He described creationists' often hopelessly inept attempts to pervert science, but went on to warn the audience of the dangers of letting them get away with it.
The talk was followed by an insightful question and answer session, and a beer or two.
Thanks once again to Maureen Brian for seizing the opportunity of PZ's recent talk in Oxford to get him to come and visit more civilised parts.
Spotted in Hebden Bridge yesterday…
No lightning bolts were forthcoming.
Over in our Reviews section, there is a new book review of:
Darwin's On the Origin of Species: a Modern Rendition
by Daniel Duzdevich
The 143rd Open Championship teed-off at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, on my native Wirral peninsula this morning.
Ever since I was a young kid, whenever the Open Championship is played in the North West of England, I have attended one of the practice days with my dad, a golf fanatic.
Dad and I were there again earlier this week. I'll spare you the details, but I've posted a large number of photos on Flickr, if you're interested.
Why am I talking about the Open Championship at Hoylake on a blog that's supposed to be about Charles Darwin? Well, because, as we all know by now, absolutely everything has a Charles Darwin connection…
Spotted in the tented village above a display of hickory-shafted golf clubs at Hoylake this Tuesday:
The Bernard Darwin quoted was a famous golfer and Times sportswriter, who became Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in 1934 (the year before my dad was born). Bernard Darwin was the grandson of Charles Darwin, who referred to him as ‘Dubba’ when he was an infant. (Rather pleasingly, one of the players in contention at the Open this week goes by the name of Bubba.)
Indeed, so famous was Bernard Darwin in his day that my dad, who feels the same way about golf as I do about Charles Darwin, still often absent-mindedly refers to Charles Darwin as ‘Bernard Darwin’.
Like I said, everything has a Charles Darwin connection.
I am sad to report that my good friend and Friends of Charles Darwin co-founder, Nigel Longhurst, died on 5th June.
Although he wasn't actively involved in the continued running of the Friends, Fitz, as I knew him, was a huge fan of Darwin, and took great delight in seeing his hero depicted on the Bank of England £10 note. He was also a dedicated sceptic, whose planned magnum opus, Fitzroy's Crap Theories of the Mind, Body & Spirit, sadly never saw the light of day.
Nigel's nickname, Fitzroy, came about when, down the pub one evening, we worked out our ‘author names’ by taking our middle names and appending the names of the roads in which we had been brought up. My author name, Lewis Alistair, had a certain Scottish dignity to it, but never caught on; Nigel's author name, Craig Fitzroy, was an instant hit—not least because of its Darwinian connotations.
Having very similar senses of humour, Fitz and I made a habit of taking credit for each other's jokes, but I must confess that it was Fitz who came up with the Friends of Charles Darwin's rather clever motto, Charlie is my Darwin—a pun on Robert Burns's Charlie, He's my Darling—and it was Fitz (writing as ‘Torn Rubbers’) who penned our magnificent parody of the Burns classic. (‘Torn Rubbers’, as very few people seem to have realised, is an anagram of ‘Robert Burns’.)
My condolences to Fitz's wife, Madeleine (Ms Fitz), and to his three children from an earlier marriage, Paula, David and Oliver.
I'll miss the daft, old bugger.
Over on my personal website, I've just published a new piece about trying to free up space on my over-full bookshelves. (You shouldn't be at all surprised to hear that Charles Darwin is mostly to blame.)
When bookshelves become full, only the fittest volumes survive.