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Spartan Ideas is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and opinions independently written by members of the MSU community and curated by MSU Libraries

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Race to the Farm

I’m headed off to the SAEA meeting later this week, where I’m part of panel. SAEA is the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. It’s not part of my regular circuit, but I’m looking forward to it. The panel is being sponsored by INFAS, which is part of my regular circuit. INFAS is the Integrated Network for …

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The tipping point

This is only the beginning. To serious people who read this blog, but may have been confused over the past 5+ years about things like missing heritability, genomic prediction, complex genetic architecture, gloomy prospects: isn’t it about time to consider updating your priors? Read all about it here. FT.com: Genetic scoring predicts how children do …

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When the rain comes

My fieldwork in China started off rough. After the sparkle of the first week – being an honored guest, attending lavish dinners and getting private tours – wore off what remained was me, our research team of five and a project that had some serious American bias hiding within it. The soil analysis for my …

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Finding the Kernel of a Matrix

I’m working on an optimization problem (coding in Java) in which, should various celestial bodies align the wrong way, I may need to compute the rank of a real matrix and, if it’s less than full rank, a basis for its kernel. (Actually, I could get by with just one nonzero vector in the kernel, …

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Independent Streams (Week of July 18th)

Our weekly round-up of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems What Is Second Rape And What Can We Do About It? (link is external) Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke about ending violence against women and the stigma of sexual assault. IPPSR affiliate Rebecca Campbell’s research on violence against women is cited. The Missing Link …

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Eat ’em from the Can

What we eat reflects an ethic: a sense of what is right and proper. If beans are not for breakfast—a theme we explored last week—that’s because we (whoever “we” we happen to be at the moment) have adopted some culturally based presumptions about what to eat and when. For a lot of middle-class Americans, breakfast …

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Globe and Mail Article on Cindy Blackstock

Here. “What I saw were children being systemically removed from these communities. And I’d go to these communities, and there was no running water, and people would wonder why the kids weren’t clean, and I’d think maybe someone should do something about the water. We would see the multigenerational impacts of residential schools, and there …

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Be in the know, now back on the grind

Over the past few weeks, I have grown from a perpetually disheveled data scientist and learned to dress slightly better than a sack of potatoes –an added benefit of my summer of experiential learning in the DC area. I was graciously hosted by my guidance committee member, Dr. Abigail Lynch, at the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change …

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Independent Streams (Week of July 11th)

Our weekly round-up of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems  This Could Be a Completely Different Strategy for Tackling the World’s Carbon Emissions (link is external) A new study suggests that reducing carbon emissions can be made more efficient by targeting plants that produce a greater share of emissions first. IPPSR affiliate Tom Dietz comments …

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Beans for Breakfast

After racking my brain for several hours trying to think of something funny having to do with cucumber beetles, I finally gave up. Bing tells me that there are two kinds of cucumber beetle, one with stripes and one with polka dots. There is apparently nothing funny about either of them because once they have …

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Federal Court Issues Order in Little Traverse Reservation Boundaries Case Bifurcating Merits and Remedies Phases

Here is the order in Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians v. Snyder (W.D. Mich.): 91. 2016-07-06 Opinion and Order Bifurcating Case and Granting Denying Plf’s MSD An excerpt: “‘Only Congress can divest a reservation of its land and diminish its boundaries,’ and its intent to do so must be clear.” Nebraska v. Parker, …

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United States v. Decosters Decision

Yesterday, July 6, the Eighth Circuit upheld the United States v. DeCoster three-month prison sentences and $100,000 fines for Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster, respectively the owner and chief operating officer of Quality Egg, LLC. Over the years, several salmonellosis foodborne illness outbreaks were associated with eggs from DeCoster farms. In a 2010 outbreak …

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What I actually do

So if you remember from previous blogs, my research project is attempting to find differences is in the soil-microbial community between corn, rice (grasses) and soy (a legume). Global soybean trade, specifically soybeans from Brazil and the USA, are being imported by China; these imports are cheaper than domestically produced soybeans, thus driving out China’s …

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Over- and Underfitting

I just read a nice post by Jean-François Puget, suitable for readers not terribly familiar with the subject, on overfitting in machine learning. I was going to leave a comment mentioning a couple of things, and then decided that with minimal padding I could make it long enough to be a blog post. I agree …

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Independent Streams (Week of July 4th)

Our weekly round-up of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems Here’s What the NY Times Got Wrong On Detroit Public Schools (link is external) The Mackinac Center for Public Policy responds to a recent New York Times article on Detroit Schools. The Great Lakes Education Project, whose CEO is a previous Forum Speaker, is cited. …

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Just Desserts

I was down in Atlanta last week and had a couple of dinners-out with some friends & fellow workers. The names of the restaurants have been expunged to protect the innocent (not that there are any innocent victims in this story). We started out a pretty good place, a bit high-toned and treadling the foodie vibe. …

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MSU Shadows

A year ago today, as I began my tenure as Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University, I made reference to a passage by Peter Raible, one that draws from Deuteronomy, in which he reminds us that “we sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.” Although I …

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American Cookery

First published in 1796, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons is considered the first true American cookbook, with recipes for such indigenous foods as pumpkins, cranberries, and cornmeal. Cookbooks published here previously were English in origin with food and recipes written for English audiences. American Cookery is the bedrock for all important cookbook collections and MSU Special …

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Look Away, Stay True

Recently a fellow writer, Chelsea Biondolillo, posted on Facebook: “I’m wearying of the push to turn ourselves into clickbait so our writing can go viral and we can get paid.” A number of other writers chimed in along these same lines. I found myself responding: “Look away, stay true.” I mutter these words with some …

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Lake Como and Florence photos

I was in Lake Como for a small meeting of ~30 people, including sovereign wealth, hedge, and pension fund heads, plus a few intellectuals and leading figures from government. Brexit made for extra excitement in our discussions. Hint to scaremongers: the smart money is not as scared as you have tried to make the public. …

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Good teaching is good design

I just came across Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design and was immediately struck by how closely they paralleled what is essential for good teaching. All one has to do is replace the word “design” with “teaching” and I think we get 10 pretty good principles to follow (or think about). This is a game I have …

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Independent Streams (Week of June 27th)

Our weekly round-up of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems Flint Water Crisis: What’s Behind Civil Suit Against Three Companies? (link is external) IPPSR affiliate Eric Scorsone comments on the political implications of Flint and the continuing debate over who is responsible for the crisis. Booming Again: West Michigan’s Economy Is On A Roll (link …

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One Last One on Food Waste

I have to bring this series of diatribes about food waste to a close, but there was one more thing that I wanted to write about when I started this thread six weeks ago. I’m reminded of a fascinating talk I heard from the former Vice President for Sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It was …

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Brexit: victory over the Hollow Men

Congratulations to Dominic Cummings, a formidable man. I met Dominic at SCI FOO in 2014. We talked long into the night, and I came away impressed with his tenacity and capability for long term planning. He urged me to study Bismarck. The Telegraph: The long war: how Vote Leave and the Eurosceptics won “Vote Leave, …

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Enforcing Simultaneous Arrivals

I’m recapping here an answer to a modeling question that I just posted on a help forum. (Since it will now appear in two different places, let’s hope it’s correct!) The original poster (OP) was working on a routing model, in which vehicles (for which I will use and if needed as indices) are assigned …

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The Football Bard of Iceland Makes History

Guðmundur Benediktsson who? On Wednesday, June 22, the 41-year-old Icelandic announcer’s emotional call of Iceland’s winning goal against Austria at Euro 2016 went viral. The moment was immediately enshrined into the unofficial Hall of Fame of soccer broadcasting. Benediktsson is no ordinary broadcaster. He played for Iceland from 1994 to 2001 and has coached steadily …

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Review – Final Rule for FSMA Intentional Adulteration (Food Defense) Regarding Food Fraud and EMA

This is a detailed, 22-page review of the Food Fraud aspects or requirements of the recently published Food Safety Modernization Act Intentional Adulteration (Food Defense) Final Rule (FSMA-IA). In addition to regular contributors Spink & Moyer, we are pleased to add MSU’s Dr. Andrew Huff (College of Veterinary Medicine) and University of Auckland’s (NZ) Bradley …

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Arthur Kroeber (Gavekal) on Chinese economy

Highly recommended. Kroeber gives a realistic assessment of the Chinese economy, covering topics such as historical development models, infrastructure investment, debt levels, SOEs vs private enterprise, corruption pre- and post-Xi, demographics, hukou reform, etc. In this episode of Sinica, we present an in-depth interview with Arthur Kroeber, founding partner and head of research for Gavekal …

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