0.88% of U.S. Grimms are black – are the U.S. structurally racist?

When it still was completely free, Wolfram Alpha was one of my favorite search engines. Because it would provide me with nerdy data. But when you search your family name, it becomes racist. Not their fault, they just dig all available data.

Miraculous reconstruction of palaeoaltitude and -temperature using the "Coexistence Approach"

It may look (to some) like a good idea to take modern-day altitudinal ranges of genera to infer a palaeo-altitude of a fossil plant assemblage using a mutually shared range approach. A fresh example from the purportedly peer-reviewed Elsevier journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (PPP).

Dispersing the Impermeable Fog: #3 – declining an invitation to review a pseudo-scientific paper

The Coexistence Approach is a pseudo-science. At least, it's fundamentally flawed in theory and practise. But one journal remains the bastion of true faith. But maybe tides are changing?

Bentham wants me as reviewer ... for medicinal chemistry

BSP pretends to be a proper scientific publisher, and not a predatory one. So, why sending an invitation to become a reviewer of some medicinal journal to a former scientist (see counter on my homepage) that dealt in phylogenetics and palaeobotany?

Trivial but illogical – reconstructing the biogeographic history of the Loranthaceae (again)

In 2007, a short but nice paper by Vidal-Russell & Nickrent provided a scenario for the unfolding of the Loranthaceae, a plant family of mostly epiphytic tree parasites. Recently, they teamed up with a Chinese group (Liu, Le et al. 2018) to provide a new, and totally unexpected hypothesis.

Elsevier's research data "not available/will be made available on request" – what will be your choice?

What do you do when authors claim something (showing nothing) that you know can't be true (because you showed otherwise)? Just request the data they used and re-analyse it to check. But this is not how it works. An example from Elsevier's Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution.

What you should show in a palaeophylogenetic study

Far the most palaeophylogenetic studies rely exclusively on tree-inference as methodological framework. Thus, ignoring the fundamental properties over the underlying data: matrices that provide few tree-like signals. A recommendation what to show (and why).

Jupiter and Trumpelchen in love, or 0 + 0 = 1(st)

In this week, we were showered in images of pure, mutual love between the presidents of France and the U.S.A. Some may find this odd, given the obvious differences between the two lovebirds. But it's completely natural.

What exactly does Trumpelchen mean by "breeding concept"?

Ups, he did it again! Just another Trumpel-Tweet going rogue. CNN asked the question and provide an answer, the Southern Poverty Law Center points to where he may have picked it up. I have some ideas, too.

Digging deeper: Population dynamics and individual-based fossil phylogenies

In one of my last posts, I argued for looking out for ancestor-descendant relationships when putting up an evolutionary hypothesis based on fossil data. In this post, I will explore a bit the background of individual-based phylogenies and why we should keep in mind population processes, when analysing such data sets.

The challenging and puzzling ordinary beech – a (hi)story

While working on another post, I noticed I could need an example for a pretty well-understood evolution of a plant genus through space and time. But to keep the other post a short-as-possible, the example merits its own. So here's the history of the beeches, which is a nice story to tell, also regarding how it developed scientifically.

Where have all the ancestors gone?

In contrast to neontologists, palaeontologists deal literally in the past. However, like their modern counterparts, most palaeontologists seem to have the opinion that although we all agree evolution is a fact, we will never have to deal with actual ancestors.

How to get from Orléans to Paris on a railroad strike day?

Macron is sparring the French rail unions. The latter have engaged in what they call a "perl-strike", two days close-down, three days recovery, till June. With quite interesting side effects in the era of Big Data.

The Easter egg: Le Canard enchaîné – a weekly must read (also for French aliens)

In this Easter post, I'll cherish a light-house of French publications, Le Canard enchaîné.  My occasional French readers will probably know it, but maybe those outside of France have never heard of it. Which would be a pity, as the "palmipède" is a must-read (if you can read French or attempt to).

What do political party genealogies tell us about France and Germany?

"Blue Marine" suggests re-naming her party, the "National Front" into the "National Get-together", taking up a long and prosperous French political tradition to put a new label on an old thing. But in Germany, even when the parties substantially change their political orientation, they would never change their name. Why are we so different?

Not that it get's lost – my comment to a (nice) dating of Dravidian languages

Twitter pointed me to a recent dating paper of Dravidian languages by Kolipakam et al. (2018), published with Royal Society Open Science. I'm not a linguist but I found it very interesting. But while other comments are waved through, mine is still on hold for now over 24h. Here it is.

Fertig (im mehrfachen Sinne) mit dem Schaf im Wolfspelz: meine erste und letzte Woche Dol(l)metschen

Der Herr ruhte vielleicht am 7. Tag, Trumpelchen dreht noch mal auf. Samstags und Sonntags, normalerweise in der sanften Tropensonne von Mar-A-Lago, kann er sich den wichtigen Sachen widmen: dem üblichen Wochenendge(t)witter und dem Golfen. Ein krönender Schluß für die derzeit beste Realsatire der Welt.

6. Tag, Frei-tag – wohl auch im Weißen Haus.

Der 6. Tag beginnt überraschend. Trump heuert und feuert niemanden, daß überläßt er seinem Justizminister (last-minute). Der 1. Tweet kommt erst um 7:40, pflichtschuldige Thoughts and Prayers (diesmal wegen Krieg). Amerikas Präsident hat wohl schon die 4-Tage Woche, von der wir alle träumen.

Tag 5. Lobe den Iren, den König der hehren Migranten ...

Tag 5. Thors Tag. Blitze und Donner. Zugegeben, ich zögere @realDonaldTrump aufzurufen. Aber harmlos. Neuer großartiger Mann im Team, Kanada ist unfair (wie alle anderen) und ein wenig Irenloben anläßlich des Besuchs des Taoiseachs, die großartig-dreckigen Immigranten von einst. Schwamm drüber, und Mauer vor.

Tag 4, Mitte der Woche und die Luft ist etwas raus aus dem Heißluftballon

Mittwoch, im Englischen (und Schwedischen) Odinstag. Wie ein Flitzebogen gespannt, was Amerikas Neu-Odin mitzuteilen hat. Immerhin steht seid gestern abend (Ortszeit) fest, daß es wieder einen weniger gibt für Stahl und Grenze (wobei das so nicht stimmt). Aber Missiouri ist wieder groß (also immer noch).

Tag 3, was zwitscherte der Orangegesichtige Elefantenvogel am Dienstag?

Es wird nie langweilig mit Trumpelchen. Der U.S. Präsident feuert den Außenminister per Twitter. Und geht dann Mauerteile besichtigen. All tremendously great people.

Eine Woche Trumpelchens Gezwitscher übersetzt in die Sprache der Dichter und Denker

Deutsch kennt man als die Sprache der Dichter und Denker. Was liegt also näher, als die literarischen Ergüsse des deutschstämmigen (pfälzischen) U.S. Präsidenten in Deutsch zu übersetzen. Ein Versuch.

Visualising U.S. gun legislation, and mapping politics, economics, and population

As an European (quite literally) with American relatives, I always took an interest in U.S. politics and other American oddities. One of these oddities is definitely U.S. gun legislation. Which can be very different from state to state, and has surprisingly little to do with another great divide: the split in Democrats and Republicans.

Where to share Wiley's "content sharing link"? Wiley is searching for an answer, too.

A new form of open access, emerged: "Bronze open access". And Wiley informed me that I can ask for a "content sharing link". And I did. But my question of how I'm allowed to share it, lead me into uncharted territory.

Wladimir Köppen – a climate-vegetation genius, and what this has to do with wine

The Köppen-Geiger system is the most widely used climate classification. Thanks to a group at the Veternary Medical University in Vienna (Institute for Veterinary Public Health), everyone can check out the beauty of the system. Scientists and non-scientists. E.g. for picking the next holiday or long-burning questions such as: Why can't I find a Brazilian wine?

Bringt die Augsburger Puppenkiste zurück, und zwar ohne Geoblocking

Es scheint, ich bin nicht der einzige, der gegen Windmühlen reitet. In der heutigen SZ konnte man einen Artikel lesen über eine Online Petition, die Augsburger Puppenkiste zurück auf den Bildschirm zu bringen.

How did I do it – a short guide to a nice graph

At the end of the 20th and into the new 21st century, phylogenies have been largely reduced to stick graphs, often quite unappealing ones. In the papers I co-authored, I always tried to enhance the graphics, and I have not rarely been asked how I do it. So here's my protocol for a little basic tree-and-networks magic.

Versteh' einer die Amis, a photo story

As long as the U.S. pretend to be a frontier state under threat to be recolonised by Her Majesty's troops, there will be regular mass shootings like the one in Florida. For a European, the logic of the 2nd Amendment is already hard to grasp. But what really surprised me, is the photos you find on the president's Instagram account.

Elsevier needs my help: The 10 ... no, not Commandments, just questions

Elsevier is the main publishing platform of RELX, a highly profitable information company. Their business model is quite unique: the public pays for most of the work, it pays for the publication, and it pays for getting access to the publication. And from time-to-time Elsevier asks its only customers – and slaves (scientists) – on their opinion how to make more money.

Trying to disperse the Impermeable Fog #2: Editors who "entertain" and are not "answerable"

In my last post, I gave a fresh example how the confidential peer review maintains the publication of dubious scientific results. Naturally I confronted the authors of the paper and editors of the journal. With revealing results.

Business as usual – PPP keeps on publishing Coexistence Approach pseudo-results

In 2016 we published two papers demonstrating that the so-called Coexistence Approach (CA) to reconstruct past climates is fundamentally flawed, theoretically and in practise. As consequence there was a drop-down in CA papers disseminated, exclusively, by members of NECLIME, a Germany-centred scientific consortium promoting this pseudo-statistic (and pseudo-scientific) method. But one journal remains faithful. And has nothing to fear thanks to peer review confidentiality.

20/01/2017 – the day we lost a great word: "great"

Things happened one year ago that not a few still can't fathom (personally, I was not overly surprised; but I am a realist). And I'm sure there will be an endless number of articles summarising the year. But for me, the election of a TV clown and orange-billionaire (not to be confused with orange-utans) as 45th president of the U.S., meant a personal loss. I lost a word, I liked to use: the English word "great".

My first landmark as not-a-scientist: 365 (busy) days out-of-business!

I just noticed (thanks to the counter on my personal homepage) that it has been 365 days, one year, since my last contract as a paid scientist run out (a 2-year mobility grant by the Austrian Science Fund FWF). Time for a resumé.

European Not-A-Union: getting my forth social security number

For purely chauvinistic reasons (you don’t want the crappy new EU members benefitting from the high standard in the old EU countries), you need a new social security number when moving from one EU state to another (unless within Scandinavia, even including non-EU member Norway). In some states like Sweden it comes automatically when you register as a citizen. In others like Austria, it comes inevitably (when you’re from other EU countries), but France is of course special. La Grande Nation, it must be a privilege to live here for anyone.

What is an angiosperm? Part 2. A(nother) case for Haeckelian phylogenetic (“evolutionary”) classification.

The “age of angiosperms” is still a matter of debate. But little discussion revolves around a more fundamental question. What is an angiosperm? The answer is trivial, from a modern-day perspective. A flowering plant. In Part 1, I introduced the basic classification options to define angiosperms: branch-based (possible) or node-based (many issues) cladistic and Hennigian or Haeckelian phylogenetic classifications. In the second part, I will show that the trivial definition – a flowering plant – is also the only useful definition when going back into Earth’s past. And as consequence, we need the one or other paraphyletic taxon.

What is an angiosperm? Part 1: The difference between cladistic and phylogenetic classification

The “age of angiosperms” is still a matter of debate. But little discussion revolves around a more fundamental question. What is an angiosperm? The answer is trivial, from a modern-day perspective. A flowering plant. But when it comes to dated trees and phylogenetics, we clash with semantics and non-congruent philosophical frameworks. Because then it's not necessarily about producing a flower, but pure concepts.