Mad Men Mayflies and the Ephemeroptera Ministry of War

Art from “The Driftin’ Life of Mayfly Nymphs”
Originally published on

Buzz Hoot Roar has been a breath of fresh air ever since its debut in October of 2013. It has a simple goal: explaining bits of science using fun illustrations and short, clever prose. 

A quick glance at the Buzz Hoot Roar blog, and you’ll sense their spirit. It’s as if your high school science teacher said, “Alright class, today we’re just going to mess around and have a good time” — and by the time the bell rings, you were still smiling — and even learned a thing or two. The website has been a wonderful playground for artistic scientists and sciencey artists.

These two illustrations accompanied the entry submitted by myself and my friend Bruce. Bruce’s PhD research looked at how mayfly nymphs adjusted their behavior depending on their environment — include the presence of different predators. 

You can head over to Buzz Hoot Roar to read the blogpost and see the illustrations in their complete context. But here’s a few words on the cartoons themselves.

“No Drifting” is a take on the air raid posters of the old wars — in history and in imagination. Posters to identify enemy aircraft silhouettes, posters reminding civilians of enforced curfews, and a bit of encouraging propaganda thrown in.

“Drift Away to Beautiful Darwin Creek” was originally envisioned in the style of the vintage “See America” posters of National Parks and the art of vintage resort posters. But it soon evolved into the curves and shapes of Mid-Century Modern design, taking a drag of 1960′s Americana, cocktails included. The tagline and pitch is a jab at the fluffy copy of senior living communities and all the great amenities they offer to “active, mature adults”.

Head over the to the blogpost for a bonus cartoon, or head to Twitter to compliment the Buzz Hoot Roar creators, Buzz (@VerdantRobin), Hoot (@NeilMccoy@SarahBlackmon) and Roar (@VerdantEleanor).

Peter Campbell, Public Information Officer

Peter Campbell, Public Information Officer. Image Credit: AMC/Lionsgate

Well, I never thought I’d be quoting Pete Campbell on anything, let alone in a panel on science communications.

I am, of course, referring to one Peter Campbell, the whiny rat of a character on the television show Mad Men on AMC, played by actor Vincent Kartheiser. Pete is the smarmy, hotshot account executive of the show’s fictional advertising agency, and to be fair, the character is growing (painfully).

In the episode “At the Codfish Ball” the other week, Pete found himself having to explain his job to a doubting academic. The exchange*, at a black tie dinner, went like this:

Pete:  “… so I manage those accounts.”

Dr. Calvet: “But I don’t understand. What do you do everyday.”

Pete: “Well what do you do? You’re a scholar and an intellectual, right?”

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