Treefinder retracted

Treefinder

Remember the flap about a German scientist restricting the license to his software (Treefinder) to protest European immigration policies? Not a great idea if your software is published in an open access journal.

Gangolf Jobb cut off licensing of his program to European countries he considered too welcoming to immigrants. Last week, BMC Evolutionary Biology published a retraction of the 2004 article that introduced Treefinder, citing their policy on software availability:

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No, the Patriots aren’t magically controlling coin tosses

They shouldn't be. Image from USA Today.

They shouldn’t be.
Image from USA Today.

Citing a CBS article, Uncommon Descent complains “No design inference allowed on coin flips.” As I’ve come to expect from them, it’s pretty hard to parse a coherent argument out of the article, but I’ll bet it has something to do with 747s and tornadoes (say what you want about Evolution News and Views; at least you can follow their arguments). So it’s not clear what design inference they think we should draw from the New England Patriots winning 19 of 25 coin flips, nor who is being prevented from drawing it.

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Volvox ovalis

Volvox ovalis

Volvox ovalis, strain NIES-2569.Creative Commons License
Volvox ovalis by Matthew Herron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Volvox ovalis was described by Hisayoshi Nozaki and Annette Coleman in 2011 from a strain collected near College Station, Texas. Colonies are often distinctly egg-shaped, up to 450 µm long, with 1000-2000 somatic cells and 8-12 gonidia. A member of the section Merrillosphaera, it is closely related to V. tertius and V. spermatosphaera:

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Volvox 2015: taxonomy, phylogeny & ecology

Volvox africanus

Volvox africanus (from Herron et al. 2010)

The worst-kept secret among Volvox researchers is that the current volvocine taxonomy is a train wreck. Within the largest family, the Volvocaceae, five nominal genera are polyphyletic (Pandorina, Volvulina, Eudorina, Pleodorina, and Volvox). Of the remaining three, two are monotypic (Platydorina and Yamagishiella). Only the newly described Colemanosphaera is monophyletic with more than one species. The extent of the problem was suspected long before it was confirmed by molecular phylogenetics, and ad hoc attempts to deal with it have led to the existence of such taxonomic abominations as ‘sections,’ ‘formas,’ and ‘syngens.’ An overhaul is called for, but it is complicated by the aforementioned loss of type cultures.

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Pathways to pluralism: Beckett Sterner on biological individuality, part 2

Aphids on dandelion

Aphids on dandelion. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Previously, I introduced Beckett Sterner’s new paper comparing and critically evaluating the views of Ellen Clarke and Peter Godfrey-Smith on biological individuality. For Clarke, individuality is recognized by the presence of ‘individuating mechanisms’: traits that increase the capacity for among-unit selection or decrease the capacity for within-unit selection. Godfrey-Smith recognizes different kinds of individuals, but at a minimum, populations of individuals must have Lewontin’s criteria of phenotypic variation, differential fitness, and heritability of fitness, i.e. be capable of adaptive change.

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DJ Volvox

This exists: DJ Volvox.

DJ Volvox

DJ Volvox

Volvox has been pushing the sound and spirit of underground dance culture since 2006. Her sensitive and energetic sets have made her a favorite among party devotees. No matter the situation she captures the crowd with everything from raw acid and EBM-flavored techno, to dreamy sensual deep house.

We should invite her to play Volvox 2017! I wonder if she projects Knut Drescher’s videos during her sets.

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New spam filter

Image from Wikimedia CommonsFierce Roller has been getting a lot of spam comments, hundreds of them. They’re all pretty obviously spam, with user names like “Nfl Jerseys 2015” and “cheap ray ban sunglasses.” None of them get through, because I set up the blog so that I have to approve a commenter’s first comment, but just sending them all to spam was getting to be a chore (I have to look at them all, since I don’t want to send legit comments to spam).

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