A runner turns a corner on a dirt track cutting through green lawn, in the shade of some trees
A runner turns a corner on a dirt track cutting through green lawn, in the shade of some trees
A runner rounds the south corner of the trail around North Hollywood Park.

I spent the year of shutdown and isolation training for marathons that never happened, with no finish line in sight.

By my fragmentary records — a decade and a half of running spread over three different fitness apps and a spreadsheet so old its file extension is .xls — in 2020 I’ll best a previous annual distance of 1,973 miles, which the total for the year I finished a PhD and ran my third marathon. I started training for one marathon this spring, and then another in autumn, but they’ve each been deferred, like so many other plans this year. …


A single alarm clock in focus, amidst a larger collection of clocks
A single alarm clock in focus, amidst a larger collection of clocks
Different people have different daily rhythms — but not necessarily because there’s an evolutionary advantage to it. Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Evolutionary biology doesn’t have an explanation for your struggle to start the day early — but we shouldn’t need that explanation in the first place.


Why did LGBT biologists react with skepticism last year when Science published the first modern genomic study of same-sex sexuality?

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The following is a transcription of my contribution to the 2020 Decolonize DNA Day Twitter conference, with some editing for readability in blog-post format. You can read the original thread starting here, and find audience questions with my responses on the conference Twitter account, @DecolonizeDNA.

Hi, everyone! I’m Jeremy Yoder, and I’m going to be tweeting about the surprisingly complicated relationship LGBTQ folks have had with genetic research. …


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Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Why Hope Jahren’s new ecological manifesto reminded me of a cookbook.


People gather at the base of a gigantic tree, the General Sherman sequoia, taking photos
People gather at the base of a gigantic tree, the General Sherman sequoia, taking photos
The crowd at the base of the General Sherman

The single biggest living organism on the planet is named for the man who torched Georgia. (Okay, details: that “biggest” depends on what you mean by “single,” “living”, and “organism.”) When I arrive at its foot, it is fairly mobbed by paparazzi. The “General Sherman” giant sequoia, a coniferous tree 274 feet tall and 102 feet in circumference at the base, is ringed by a paved trail and fenced off to protect its root system, according to Sequoia National Park’s many informational placards. …


For what does it profit a teen if he gains a summer job selling Bibles but loses patience with the faithful?

“I don’t think you should apply there,” she said. “You don’t know who you might end up working with.”

Mom never explained her low opinion of Barnes and Noble staff, but she did know what kind of people I worked with at the bookstore job I did take. Provident Bookstore was a local institution, the Mennonite Church’s bookstore — Barnes and Noble, but for God and the Gospel. I spent two summers and the intervening school year as a Provident cashier, and the entire time it felt like I was making minimum wage to hang out in the church lobby after Sunday services. …


by Jeremy Yoder

Woolly_mammoth_(Mammuthus_primigenius)_-_Mauricio_Antón
Woolly_mammoth_(Mammuthus_primigenius)_-_Mauricio_Antón

If you made a list of the weird and beautiful life forms that are going to be in deep trouble after another couple decades of climate change, Joshua trees would be somewhere near the top. Yucca brevifolia, as they’re technically known, are desert plants — the biggest, twistiest, spikiest thing growing in most of the Mojave Desert — but they’re already struggling in a warmer, drier world. In Joshua Tree National Park, at the southern edge of the trees’ range, Joshua tree seedlings are a rare sight. The arrival of winter rain and snow, the major source of water for the Mojave, is more and more erratic, and brushfires have become more likely, spread by carpets of introduced grasses that easily rebound after burns that reduce Joshua tree groves to blackened twigs. …


First snowfall: Romantic comedy. You meet cute when the first flakes brush against your cheek. The fresh snow cover makes everything look new and crisp and innocent. You take a long evening walk through the park, watching the falling snow dance in the light of the street lamps. You stop to make snow angels. There is a snowball fight, but afterwards everyone is still friendly. Towards the end, adorable children come out to play.

The cold snap: Heist. Going outdoors requires careful planning, and if you don’t have the right equipment, things could go pear-shaped in an instant. You have many of your most important conversations over the phone—or via Skype, if you want to look particularly tech-savvy. …

About

Jeremy B. Yoder

Evolutionary biologist, runner, gay. Writings in Slate, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the LA Review of Books, and the Stranger. https://jbyoder.org

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