Vertebrate sexual systems

Awesome figure of the sexual systems used by 2,145 vertebrates species (705 fish, 173 amphibian, 593 non-avian reptilian, 195 avian, 479 mammalian).Similar figures for plants and invertebrates. Tree structure is derived from taxonomy, where each tip represents all species in a single genus. Diploid chromosome number is indicated by the height of the innermost ring. …

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Among the World-Feeders

I spent a couple of days last week amongst folks who are diligently at work developing new crops. They are after new varieties that do well in the dry conditions farmers may experience during climate change, and they’re working on varieties that resist disease, too. And then there are the longstanding enemies: weeds and insect …

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Power of Imagination

The trip to the MSU Libraries new book shelf earlier this week brought me in contact with five titles that escorted me home. I picked up a new book from Mary Midgley, a 94 year old British moral philosopher, Are You an Illusion? “Midgley argues powerfully and persuasively that the rich variety of our imaginative life cannot …

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Update: European Parliament Activity – Food Fraud Defined

The European Commission final report on Food Fraud was adopted back in January 2014.  A 58-0 committee vote supported the broad definition of Food Fraud and an emphasis on prevention.  The member states are beginning to implement countermeasures. EU Food Fraud Report (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2013-0434&language=EN ) (The European Union [EU] (http://europa.eu/about-eu/index_en.htm) is a partnership of 28 member states across …

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WW I and other Idiocies

It is the 100th anniversary of WW I, one of the bloodiest and unnecessary wars in human history.  The excuse for the war was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke by a crazy man.  The Austrians demanded compensation (as if there is compensation for murder).  When it was refused, countries began to take sides based …

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Ideology and Homophily

The Phenomenon Homophily (“love of similar”), the tendency to bond with others who are similar to oneself, has been in the news lately.  Clarity Campaigns, a Democratic analytics firm, created an ideological dashboard for the Washington Post. Type in the answer to 7 simple questions, and it will give you the zip code where you can …

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NCTQ misses the goal again

Originally I was going to title this post “NCTQ fumbles the ball again,” but since it is World Cup season I decided to go with something a little more timely.  No matter how you phrase it, however, the second iteration of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s attempt to evaluate teacher preparation program is even …

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NetBeans 8 Update Bugs

An update to the NetBeans IDE (8.0 patch 2) this morning seems to have introduced some problems that I was fortunately able to work around. I’ll document them here in case anyone else runs into them. For some context, when I opened NetBeans, it correctly showed three projects in the project navigator, the main project …

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Why the Dutch are so tall

It’s fairly common knowledge that the Dutch are some of the tallest people in the world. Whereas the average American man measures in at about 5’9″ (176 cm), the average Dutch man stands at well over 6′ (185 cm) tall. What is it about this small, traditionally seafaring nation that breeds such extraordinarily tall people? …

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Food Enmity

As threatened a few weeks back I’m on a jag about food sovereignty. I decided that the best way to approach this topic would be to read up on the way that food showed up in the lives of history’s great sovereigns. I pulled my copy of Selected Lives by Plutarch down from the shelf …

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Dolla dolla bill y’all: Relative volume and value of U.S. currency in circulation by bill denomination

Last year, Seth Kadish posted some fancy charts showing the relative volume and value of U.S. currency in circulation. Although his charts looked visually appealing, they were fairly heavily criticized because of his use of nested pie charts, which make it notoriously difficult to compare the relative size of areas. For today’s data visualization exercise, …

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Financing Terror

How do terrorist groups finance the purchase of arms?  With drug profits of course.  Will the US wise up and treat addicts rather than build fences and hire guards?  Our refusal to do so is ruining a lot of countries including Afghanistan and Mexico. It’s bloody nonsense. The NY Times reports that along old African …

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Being a release manager for khmer

We just released khmer v1.1, a minor version update from khmer v1.0.1 (minor version update:220 commits, 370 files changed. Cancel that — _I_ just released khmer, because I’m the release manager for v1.1! As part of an effort to find holes in our documentation, “surface” any problematic assumptions we’re making, and generally increase the bus factor of the khmer project, …

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Undermatching is overblown

Troy Simon, a student at Bard College who was homeless as a child, is greeted by President Obama at a White House summit on college access in January (Chronicle of Higher Education) The Chronicle of Higher Education website this morning had a feature article titled “The $6 Solution,” which focuses on a college access issue known as …

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Right On, Man

Since Father’s Day happens to fall on a Sunday this year, I’m dedicating this edition of the Thornapple Blog to my own personal father. Don’t laugh. Lots of people have their own personal fathers, so why should it seem strange to be talking to them on Father’s Day? By chance my own personal father (who …

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What Is Character Agency?

As you kick back on the patio with a glass of pina colada, and finally dedicate time to that novel you’ve been dying to finish, remember that a character’s role in storytelling is essential and must have a sense of agency. What is agency? Terribleminds breaks it down. Agency demonstrates the ability to make decisions …

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