Publishers occasionally send me books to review. I'm now discouraging this, because I have too much to read already.

But I've been enjoying Daphne Fairbairn's "Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences Between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom." I knew about species where males are much bigger than females. The females are optimum size, essentially, but the males are bigger to fight over mates. But there are lots of other interesting examples, from fish where the females are tiny (to fit inside discarded snail shells) and the males are much larger (to be big enough to carry those shells) to tiny male octopi who carry jellyfish stingers as weapons -- the females are much bigger and don't need weapons.

Thanks, Joan and Will !

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Joan Strassman, known for her research on cooperation in Dictyostelium, mentioned my book (and my research on individual-vs-community tradeoffs in solar tracking by alfalfa), in a recent talk at a meeting on "collective behavior", sponsored by the National Academy of Science. Thanks to Will Ratcliff for the photo.

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Earlier, I used VMWare, which has an annual fee, but now I've got VirtualBox working.

Order of installation:
VirtualBox (nonfree) using the Linux Mint Package Manager.
Windows XP SP2 under VirtualBox.
FIrefox (downloaded using Internet Explorer).
Windows Installer 3.1
.NET Framework 3.5 SP1
Livescribe Desktop

I still dual-boot into Windows fairly often, but not sure I'll need to much longer.

Bet hedging in conservation

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Emma Marris and I shared the stage at a recent event at Washington State University, organized by Andy McGuire. Emma argued that "hands off wilderness" and "preserving natural ecosystems in their 'pristine' state are incompatible. If keeping species from going extinct is more important than keeping them where they were in 1491 (or earlier, presumably, outside the Americas), then we should bet-hedge with a variety of approaches to conservation. Watch for her upcoming op-ed.

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