polite biology

Geneticist launches bid for US Senate
Michael Eisen hopes a victory in 2018 will bring a new scientific voice to the US legislature.

In the week since President Donald Trump took the oath of office, scientists have taken to social media en masse, decrying the new administration’s plan to dismantle climate regulations, reports that the administration has censored government scientists’ speech and the coining of the term “alternative facts.”

But Michael Eisen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks that the situation requires more drastic action. So on 25 January, he announced on Twitter that he will run for US Senate in 2018.

Eisen, who is best known as an advocate for free access to scientific publications and as co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals, may have a viable path to elected office. Dianne Feinstein, the 83-year-old senator from his state, California, has indicated that she might not run for re-election in 2018.

Nature caught up with Eisen to ask him about his plans. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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EPA Staff Pulled From Alaska Summit After Trump Team Orders
The White House transition team told about half of the Environmental Protection Agency officials scheduled to attend an Alaska climate and environment conference to stay home. The EPA cites travel costs, but some of those kept away live right in Anchorage.

I harbor deep resentment for those who voted for this. Can’t someone please stop the madness?


So uh

Last night I 

Kind of got a little drunk

And made this


Friday nights are the worst part of this job, Bitty thinks as he ties the required half apron around his waist. Normally, he avoids these shifts like the plague, but Dex had called in sick and no one else had been able (or willing, Bitty adds wryly) to cover for him. After all, Dex is the only one who even remotely enjoys working on Fridays; the rest of them would much rather be on the other side of the bar, thank you.

His shift started all of five minutes ago, right at seven, but the bar is already getting crowded and between the warmth pouring through the air vents and the hot press of bodies at the bar and on the dance floor, Bitty has to pause after sliding a man his scotch to roll his sleeves up. Before he can even properly even them out, though, a woman is tapping her long nails against the polished wood and rolling her eyes, the picture of impatience, and Bitty rushes to her service with a forced smile. People come and go like that almost faster than he and Lardo can serve them, and the next time Bitty gets half a second to breathe, he’s startled to realize it’s already one in the morning. No wonder he’s so exhausted.

Thankfully, the crowds have mostly dissipated, feeding into the hipper surrounding bars, so he feels no regret as he shoos Lardo out from behind the bar and reassures her that he can handle the rest of the shift alone and to get back home to that girlfriend of hers. The two had just moved in together, and though Bitty didn’t have much experience with that sort of thing, he could imagine how eager she must be to get home. She goes willingly enough, proving his point, but nods toward a man sitting at the bar Bitty hadn’t noticed before.

As he approaches, it strikes him just how familiar the man looks, although Bitty can’t quite place him. Maybe they’d had a class together in college or something? Just in case, he plasters on his usual easy smile and leans on the bar across from him. “Hey there, sugar. We’re almost closed, but you’ve got time for one last drink if you want it.”

It looks like he’s been nursing a glass of water for a while now, but the man’s bright blue eyes flicker up to Bitty’s face, then down to his name tag and seem to grow even brighter. “Just, euh, an orange-lime relaxer.”

Bitty sets to work, watching the man as he shakes the drink. “You look awfully familiar, you know that? You didn’t happen to go to Samwell by any chance, did you?”

The man hesitates for a moment, so quick Bitty barely registers it, then nods. “I graduated a couple of years ago. I think we had a class together my senior year? Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food.” Maybe it’s the way he sounds hesitant to admit it, or just the soft cadence of his voice, but it clicks.

“Oh! That’s right! You were on the hockey team, weren’t you? Seemed like half the class was just y’all, all rowdy in the back.” Bitty can’t shake the fondness from his voice as he slides the highball over, pressing a lime wedge onto the rim. “I had half a mind to march back there and tell y’all to hush, a time or two.”

The man’s fingers brush Bitty’s as he reaches for the glass. “Right, yeah. That was us. I always wanted to talk to you too, but–” He goes to squeeze the lime wedge over his drink, but it slips between his fingers and launches itself at Bitty, leaving a wet spot on the rolled cuff of his shirt. “Shit, guess I’m not so good at pickup limes, eh?”

The joke earns a fond little smile and eye roll as Bitty dabs at the spot with a napkin. “Well, mister, you’ve certainly won me over. Now drink up and shoo so I can get this place cleaned up, you hear?” But the words held no venom, and he stayed there leaned on the bar chatting until well after close. When Jack finally excused himself (for Bitty’s sake more than his own), he left with the bartender’s number tucked away in his front pocket.

politically-elected-king-of-hell  asked:

Fantasy biology question! If mermaids would most likely be mammalian, with dolphin/seal like tails, what would some variants look like? Do you think? And what would be the best way for them to give birth?

I’ve talked a little bit about mammalian mermaids here.

Methods for a (placental) mammalian mermaid giving birth would depend on whether the species was 100% aquatic all the time, or whether they are occasionally terrestrial.

A 100% aquatic species, modeled on something like the dolphin, would most likely give birth tail first in shallow waters. If your mermaids are communal and intelligent, the mother probably has attendants to help her.

A species that spends some time on land, based on seals for example, most likely gives birth on land, and head first.

I’d assume that wherever the species sleeps is where it gives birth.