The Advisory Boar (page 5)
I've read many pieces about the people after whom birds are named, and
it struck me recently that most of them are male. Not surprising, since
there must have been many more male ornithologists than women; but there
are nevertheless many birds named after women. Because of the regularity
of Latin grammar, we can find a considerable number just by looking for
names that end in -ae.
Alas, the majority of matching names are toponyms. Some of these names
are obvious, like novaehollandiae and novaeseelandiae,
which account for 23 species between them. But many more are obscure,
and there's no way to exclude them en masse. One must go through
the list one entry at a time to discard the place names. One notable
example of this genre is adeliae, which refers to Adélie
Land, named after Adélie Vicomtesse Dumont d’Urville, wife of a
French Antarctic explorer. Another problem comes from male names which
have been Latinised as -ae (e.g. Matsudaira, Fea). When these and other
complications are eliminated, we are left with just under a hundred
Only a handful of these names belong to women whose contributions to
ornithology are well-documented.
Maria Emilia Ana Koepcke, a famous German ornithologist and explorer in
Peru, has a Screech-owl, a Cacique, and a Hermit named koepckeae
The Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias [quixensis] emiliae is named
after Henriette Mathilde Maria Emilie Snethlage, another German
ornithologist in Brazil, and the Director of the Goeldi Museum.
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae is named after Giudicessa
Eleonora d'Arborea of Sardinia, who made a law protecting goshawks and
falcons at their nests… in the fourteenth century!
Marion A. Johnstone, an English aviculturalist, has three birds named
johnstoniae after her.
Therese Charlotte Maria Anna Princess of Bavaria, a zoologist and
explorer, has two birds named theresiae after her.
British ornithologist Beryl Patricia Hall had a bird named hallae
after her (but I can't figure out what species it was).
The Jos Plateau Indigobird Vidua maryae is named after Mary Dyer
for her field work on indigobirds in Nigeria.
The delightfully-named Elfin-woods Warbler Dendroica angelae is
named after New Zealand zoologist and conservationist Dr. Angela Kay
The Afghan Snowfinch Pyrgilauda theresae was named after Theresa
Clay, a British expert on bird lice.
The Golden-rumped Flowerpecker Dicaeum annae is named after Anna
A. Weber van Bosse, a Dutch botanist and collector in the East Indies.
Otus ireneae and Metallura odomae are named after Irene
Morden and Babette Odom, sponsors and bird-watchers in Kenya and Peru
Lulu's Tody-tyrant Poecilotriccus luluae is named after Lulu May
von Hagen in recognition of her support for research in avian genetics.
The remainder of the names belong to queens, princesses, and minor
nobility; and wives, sisters, and daughters (with many overlaps; the
wives of nobles inclined towards nature being especially likely to have
birds dedicated to them). In particular, many species described in the
nineteenth century mania for hummingbirds and sunbirds were named after
women. A couple of people named birds after their mothers. I do not know
the extent to which any of these ladies were themselves interested in
ornithology, but more than a few of them are known to have participated
in collecting expeditions to unexplored places; and one can only wonder
how much more credit may have been due to them that they did not get. In
any case, the list of women ornithologists above is certainly
The commonest female eponyms are victoriae, helenae,
mariae, and johannae.
French mothers with birds named after them outnumber all others (Dutch,
Two queens of the Netherlands (Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, Juliane
Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina), and the queens of Russia (Sophia Maria
Alexandrovna), Saxony (Carola Friedrike Franziska Stephanie Amalie
Cecilie), France (Eugénie), and England (Victoria) have birds
named after them (mostly one each, despite the profusion of easily
Latin-isable names between them).
A dozen princesses are represented, mostly from nineteenth-century
Europe, which had no shortage of them; but my favourite name belongs to
the mysterious White-eyed River-martin Pseudochelidon sirintarae,
named after Princess Sirindhorn Thepratanasuda for her interest in the
wildlife of Thailand. Another fine example is Stephanie's Astrapia
Astrapia stephaniae, after Stephanie Princess of Belgium.
- The Aztec emperor Montezuma's sister Papantzin and four other
sisters have birds named after them, including Grace's Warbler
Dendroica graciae after Grace Darling Coues, sister of
ornithologist Elliott Coues.
- The daughters of ornithologists are likewise very well-represented.
Some of my favourites (names, not daughters) include the Thekla Lark
Galerida theklae after Thekla Brehm, White-browed Rosefinch
Carpodacus thura after Thura Nilsson, and Mountain Serin
Serinus estherae after Esther Finsch.
- The mother, sister, and niece of explorer Captain Boyd Alexander all
have birds named after them (not to mention a few boydies named
after the good Captain himself).
- The two wives—Clémence and Zoë—and two
daughters—Cécile and Anaïs—of French naturalist René
Lesson, have a hummingbird, an imperial pigeon, a ground dove, and a
myna named after them.
- Likewise, Jules Bourcier named hummingbirds after his daughter
Francia and wife Aline (and more than a few other people's wives and
- Two seabirds are named after explorers' ships (traditionally
female): Vega Gull and Magenta Petrel
The wives of explorers and ornithologists are by far the most numerous
source of eponyms. (Update 2015-11-01: I started writing this in
March 2011, and gave up on doing justice to the list of wives four and a
half years later.)
Many genera were named after women (Berenicornis,
Dulciornis, Ethelornis, Rosina), but have been
renamed since. A few such names have survived. Enriqueta Iñez
Cherrie, daughter of ornithologist George Cherrie, lends her name to a
genus of four South American Tyrant Flycatchers (whose common names are
also Inezia). Prince Bonaparte, a French ornithologist, named a genus
after daughter Bathilde, an imperial pigeon after his other daughter
Charlotte, and a dove after his wife Zénaïde. The latter
name is now given to a genus of doves, including the Zenaida Dove
Zenaida aurita. Two Antshrikes Mackenziaena spp. are named
after Helen Mackenzie McConnell, wife of English collector Frederick
McConnell. Claudia Reinard, wife of German ornithologist Ernst Hartert,
had both her names given to birds: Claudia and Reinarda,
but neither name is still in use today.
Edithornis and edithae were names given to unrelated
species after unrelated Ediths (the latter being British botanist and
entomologist Edith Cole). Neither is still in use. But Lady Mary
Macgregor, wife of explorer Sir William Macgregor, apart from being one
of the mariae mentioned earlier, also gives her last name to a
Bird-of-paradise Macgregoria pulchra and a Bowerbird
Amblyornis macgregoriae. (But the Small Niltava Niltava
macgrigoriae is named after an unrelated Jane MacGrigor, daughter of
an Army doctor.) Elizabeth Gould, artist and wife of prolific
trochilidist John Gould, had a finch Gouldaeornis gouldiae and a
sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae named after her (many of Gould's South
American hummingbirds are given female names whose origins are unknown).
There are many female eponyms that do not end in -ae, while others are
no longer in use. Such names can be discovered only by stumbling across
them. I've included some of them in the list above. There are also many
female names whose origins are untraceable. Some examples are
adela, catharina, eva, francescae,
georginae, heloisa, lydiae, and werae. The
last is a subspecies of the Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola,
Wera being the Polish form of Vera.
I have no useful data about subspecific female eponyms, but I know there
are a few. One example I happened upon is Spelaeornis troglodytoides
indiraji, named after Indira Gandhi, a former Indian Prime Minister.
Another name I like is Strix [leptogrammica] indranee, but Sykes
did not explain its origin, and it's probably named after the mythical
wife of the god Indra, not a real woman.
Mythology, mostly Greek, is another rich source of female names both
generic (e.g. Alcyone, Atthis, Sappho) and specific
(e.g. amphitrite, andromedae, antigone). But, like
indranee, mythological names are technically not eponyms but
autochthonyms, or indigenous names. (Speaking of ancient Greece,
Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, had a bird named after her too.)
Finally, an inversion of the principle—the painter (of birds, among
other things) Dafila Scott
was named after a bird, Dafila being the genus of Pintail ducks
(now absorbed into Anas as a subgenus). I know of bird-watcher's
daughters named Irena (from Greek mythology) and Yuhina
(from a Nepali name). I wonder if there are any women named after birds
who were named after women.
If you know of other names that belong on this page, please write to me.
Some weeks ago, I received a very spammy-looking email
for Papers from the editorial team of Academic Journals Online
(email@example.com). Nine times out of ten, I
would have deleted it without a second thought, but something about it
annoyed me enough to investigate further.
Academic Journals Online (AJO) is a peer-reviewed online International
journals [sic] that publishes manuscripts monthly.
I went to their web site (academicjournalsonline.co.in) and had a quick
look around. The journals are all named "International Journal of Trends
in …" (Computer Science, Multidisciplinary Engineering, Medical Science,
etc.). The site claims repeatedly that they are open-access, but charges
INR 500 to see more than the abstract of any paper. (The list of papers
was accessible in mid-January, but has been made "Members-only" now.) I
found no credible independent references to any of these journals.
Some fifteen years ago, when we had a Maruti 800, I could understand the
workshop's maintenance procedures. "Change the oil filter" or "clean the
spark plugs" were things I could relate to somehow, even if I couldn't
do them myself. But things are different now. (Back then, the toolkit
that came with the car had actual tools in it. An combination
jack handle and screwdriver is all you can expect these days.)
About ten years ago, when our car (by then a Maruti Zen) crossed the
40,000km mark, I took it to the workshop (every 5000km for the first
20,000km; every 10,000km thereafter). In addition to various familiar
procedures—brake oil change, coolant change—the service advisor told
me that it was very important to "decarbonise" and "flush" the engine.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that this would add two thousand
rupees to the bill. Being a suspicious sort of fellow, I asked why
the engine suddenly needed to be decarbonised. I was informed, with
a pitying look, that engines gather carbon deposits over time, and
removing them would increase performance and fuel efficiency. Well,
there's no arguing with that, is there? Carbon bad, decarbon good.
But somewhere in my mind, a stubborn bit of carbon lurked, itching
uncomfortably every ten thousand kilometres. Last week, my car was due
for its 20K appointment, and I asked Google “does my engine really
need to be decarbonised?”. One of the top results was a forgotten
post where I had asked the same question! Someone pointed me to
that discusses the question at length on Team BHP, a well-known car
enthusiasts' web site.
I couldn't find an authoritative answer. Many people swear by the
procedure and claim to have "felt the difference" immediately. Some say
it's needed only after running 40 or 50 thousand kilometres. Others say
you don't need it unless you're using poor-quality fuel. Some recommend
doing it more often if you drive in city traffic. Some say it's better
to flush the engine regularly and forget about decarbonising. Some say
both are necessary, but garages charge way too much to do it. There's a
lot of "my friend told me" advice. All but a tiny minority who think it
is hogwash shell out between 1200 and 2000 rupees to their workshop at
regular intervals for a procedure which is not mentioned anywhere in
my car's service manual, and which depends on third-party
After much research (otherwise known as clicking "Next" on Team BHP), I
declared myself a skeptic and took my car to the workshop fully prepared
to fight for my carbon deposits. To my disappointment, they didn't
prescribe decarbonisation or flushing at all. They listed only perfectly
sensible things like changing the engine oil and cleaning the fuel
injector. I guess they must be waiting for the 30k mark to break the
news to me.
Driving my car afterwards, I felt the difference immediately. The engine
purred smoothly and the car just felt better. I wonder how many of the
carbon cultists on Team BHP were feeling the same thing?
I get more email from readers about my
article than about anything else on my web site. I'm a little surprised
by this (I always thought people would like the
better), but I'm happy to hear from people who found the article
useful. (Aside: many of the notes say "Thanks, this was helpful"; some
also ask a question or two. A few are incomprehensible requests for
assistance, but I can remember only one of those ever turning unpleasant.)
A few people have contacted me to ask for permission to translate the
article—into Belarusian, Bulgarian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Ukrainian
so far. I know none of these languages, but the requests were polite and
did not set off any mental alarms, so I gave permission and added links
to the resulting translations.
Last year, a Bulgarian reader wrote to (say thanks for the howto and)
tell me that the quality of the Bulgarian translation was terrible. He
thought it was probably done mechanically (e.g. using Google Translate),
and pointed out that the site where the translation was hosted also had
many other dubious translations of technical articles. I took the link
down (though it may have been too late to reverse whatever SEO benefit
they had enjoyed in the meantime).
Last week, I received a request for permission to translate the article
into Ukrainian. It just so happens that I can read the Cyrillic alphabet
quite fluently (but I know next to no Russian), so I compared the output
from translate.google.com and the translated version I was requested to
link to. Surprise! It was almost identical. I wanted to do the same with
the Belarusian translation, but the link was dead and redirected to the
webhostingrating.net index page.
On the other hand, the
Brazilian Portuguese translation
by Thiago Belem appears to be genuine. Translating it back to English
with Google Translate reveals certain changes in the article, which are
certainly not the result of mechanical translation. So it seems unfair
to reject all such offers, and I would certainly like to acknowledge
the work put in by people doing genuine translations.
This leaves me with many questions:
Is Google Translate just really good at
Ukrainian? (see update below)
- Is the disappearance of the Belarusian translation a coincidence, or
was it a linkbait-and-switch? Is that typical?
- How do other people deal with this?
Comments are welcome, especially from technical authors who have had
their work widely translated.
Update (2013-02-05): Viacheslav Tykhanovskyi was kind enough
to read through the Ukrainian translation and confirm that it's
Yesterday, I happened upon
this video from
of David Wheeler talking about his schema management tool named
and thence also discovered
I have wrestled with schema migrations for many years, so I found
David's presentation very interesting. Sqitch (without a "u") has many
compelling features. For example, you can "sqitch deploy --untracked" to
test a change you haven't committed, then revert to the last committed
revision before you edit or commit the change. depesz's scripts are less
magical, but offer similar capabilitites.
In particular, one thing is common to both systems: the schema exists in
the repository as a number of interdependent changes, each of which must
have a name (whether the names are artificial or assigned by the user is
immaterial; some kind of tag is required for dependency resolution). To
create the whole schema, you have to assemble the pieces in order, and
to see the whole schema, you have to look at the database. The database
is the canonical representation of the data model.
I prefer to think of my schema as a part of my source code, so I keep a
complete version in a text file (or files), presented in the order that
I want to explain it, with comments in the right places, and not leave
that responsibility to "pg_dump -s".
What difference does it make?
- ✓ Anyone can look at the source code for the schema and understand
it in the "preferred form for modifications".
- ✗ Making changes means writing an upgrade snippet, and downgrade
snippet, and changing the main file.
- ✓ Creating a new instance of the database always means feeding a
small number of files to psql. No need to build a big schema up step
- ✗ Testing changes becomes harder—the upgrade/downgrade scripts are
tested immediately, but in practice the main files is tested only on
the next from-scratch deployment.
- ✓ There is no need for dependency management or complex ordering
between changes. Deploying needs no cleverness, only psql. Maybe a
little shell script.
- ✗ The natural way to represent a series of changes is with the
numbered files that David so hates, and every number is an incipient
How these points stack up against each other depends on the situation.
For example, a single web service may care less about deploying from
scratch than an installable package. If the schema changes frequently,
the testing overhead may outweigh other considerations. A project with
one or two developers may not have to worry about numbering conflicts,
and so on. Being able to read through the schema ranks highly for me.
I'll write about our approach to schema management in
In August 2010, I filed a case at my local District Consumer Forum in
Delhi over Exide's refusal
to replace a faulty battery under warranty. In November 2012, after
nearly two and a half years of filings, hearings, and adjournments, the
Consumer Forum issued a
judgement in my favour,
asking Exide to replace the faulty battery and pay compensation.
Today, Exide sent me three new batteries and a cheque.
I called the District Consumer Forum this morning to enquire about the
judgement I was told to expect in a week at my
last hearing in
October. I was told the judgement was ready, and that I should collect
it. I did so forthwith.
Here's the interesting part (the last paragraph):
The complainant of this case has been subjected to harassment, he
need[s] to be compensated. We allow this complaint and direct the
OP to replace the battery in
question within a period of 30 days with a fresh warranty of one year.
We further award a compensation of Rs.6000/- to the complainant which
will also include the cost of litigation.
The judgement was entered on 2012-11-05, and the office keeps one copy
for each party to the case for a month; if it is not collected within
that period, it is dispatched by registered post. I expect Exide will
receive its copy in the second week of December.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind moderately fine.
adjournment at the last
hearing, I went to court this morning expecting only a new date for
the next hearing.
Exide was, once again, represented by the minion rather than the lawyer.
I asked if the lawyer would turn up at all, and was told that he was "on
the way" (as always). My case was passed over, to wait for the lawyer's
arrival. When I was called again, he still hadn't arrived. The (new)
president of the forum was not inclined to wait any further, and to
my surprise, he asked me to present my arguments.
I tried to state the case according to my notes, but the president was
obviously in a hurry, and kept asking me to skip things. But I could see
that the forum had read my case file and were familiar with the evidence
I had presented. So I skipped to my central assertion, which is that the
tests they had conducted on my batteries were misleading. The arguments
were admitted, and the president scolded the hapless minion (who was in
court only to say that the lawyer was on his way, and didn't know
anything about the case itself), and pointed out that the field
inspection reports from Exide themselves concluded that one battery was
faulty, and that it should have been replaced.
"We'll file an order in one week."
Update Exide's lawyer called me, saying that he reached late and
was told that I had agreed to the replacement of one battery. I said I
had done no such thing, and said we should wait for the order. Even if
the forum orders nothing more than to replace one battery (which would
mean I'd be stuck with one battery I couldn't use), it's fine with me.
I'm a dinosaur. I've been using the same fvwm2 configuration since 1996.
I've tried other window managers, with varying levels of sincerity, but
I drift back to comfortable old fvwm2 with no window decorations sooner
or later. (I got along really well with Blackbox, but it was easier to
switch back than to hack the code to cycle forward and back through a
stack of windows with RaiseLower, a feature I like.)
I've also tried hard to get along with the default desktop on successive
versions of Ubuntu (both GNOME and Unity), but a day or two is all I can
stand. But there are some things about the Ubuntu interface that I don't
want to give up or reinvent, especially on my laptop (the keyring, some
indicator applets, nm-applet, the screensaver, etc.). Being an adaptible
dinosaur, I now run fvwm2 as my GNOME window manager.
this detailed explanation
by dedicated xmonad users, changing "xmonad" to "fvwm2" in a few places
was all the hard work I needed to do. I had an ~/.xsession file that ran
a few startup commands already, so I put the following into
/usr/share/xsessions/xsession.desktop to add an "xsession" option in the
session drop-down at the login screen:
Then I created /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/fvwm.session with the
That was enough to make "gnome-session --session=fvwm" work, and that's
what the last line of my .xsession runs. The other bit worth mentioning
is stalonetray, which
provides a home to nm-applet and friends.
I had a hearing today. Nothing happened, as usual. The bench were all on
vacation, so they gave everyone a date in October for the next hearing.