Just caught up with the podcast version of Dan Saladino's excellent Seed Stories from the Lockdown on Radio 4's The Food Programme, and of course it prompted a flood of emotions, reminiscences and recognitions. As soon as I got home, I walked through the terrace, thinking about which of the plants I had grown from seed and, more particularly, home-saved seed.
I’ve ranted many times here about the wanton misuse of biological scientific names. Those are the things, generally in italics, that name a species in such a way that we can all agree what it is we are talking about; Rudbeckia hirta, for example, rather than black-eyed Susan.
The Wayback Machine, part of The Internet Archive, is an absolutely essential part of the open web and, as it happens, my work. I use it for all sorts of things, most visibly finding archived versions of web pages that have vanished for whatever reasons. I support them with an annual donation, but today I felt compelled to give more, after The Guardian reported that Dominic Cummings falsified the record of what he said when about coronaviruses. The prompt:
First spotted by Jens Wiechers, a data scientist, the edits are verifiable through periodic snapshots of the blog saved by the Internet Archive, which shows the change occurring between 9 April and 3 May this year. A hidden record on Cummings’ own site shows the post was edited at 8:55pm on 14 April, the day he has told the public he had returned from his trip to Durham.
Cummings’ weblog is hosted by WordPress.com, so I’m guessing that the “hidden record“ is one of their secrecy-by-obscurity URLs that shows revisions, but I don’t honestly care. The Wayback Machine’s smoking gun is good enough for me.
In 1984, I published a book about the past, present and future of zoos. One chapter was about the idea, quite new at the time, of behavioural enrichment. That is, giving animals the opportunity to perform some aspect of their natural behaviour. High-tech versions, like a contraption that fired live locusts into the fennec foxes’ enclosure at Antwerp Zoo. No tech versions, like simply making sure that the sea otters in the Seattle Aquarium had a supply of stones with which to demolish a bucket of clams. And all sorts of in-between examples.