Pathway to Prosperity

One of my favorite thinkers/doers in the world today is British science writer and now activist, Colin Tudge. In a recent blog post on Groundhogs’ Day, Tudge comes out to show us there is a sane way out of the madness of  what he calls Neoliberal-Industrial (NI) agriculture “The Keys Ideas of Enlightened Agriculture”. In …

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Funding the LTEE—past, present, and future: Questions from Jeremy Fox about the LTEE, part 4

This is the 4th installment in my responses to Jeremy Fox’s questions about the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli. This response addresses his 5th and 6th questions, which are copied below.  ~~~~~ How have you maintained funding for the LTEE over the years, and how hard has it been? The difficulty of sustaining funding for long term work …

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Women in Weed Science article

-E. Hill Today the Weed Science Society of America released an article about women in weed science, which is particularly relevant since there are two women professors in weed science here at Michigan State University along with two staff members and several graduate students trained in the discipline. Please take time to read the article at …

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Catching Fugitives with Zotero

When you think ‘fugitive’, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a criminal on the run from the law. In the world of government documents, however, the term ‘fugitive’ has a totally different meaning. Libraries participating in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) receive federal government publications from the Government Publishing Office (GPO). …

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The Things We Carry

Rich, Bob Dylan, Cheryl Strayed, Dream of a Common Language, Ezra Pound, Michigan State University, power, teaching, voice, Wild |Leave a comment Class assignment: Take an inventory of your bag, pick three telling items, and let them tell. 1. Pencil In the back pocket, a green Michigan State University pencil, sharpened at a steep angle, …

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Somali al-Shabaab continues attacks on Kenya and announces threat to shopping malls in the West

The Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin in Somalia—commonly known as al-Shabaab, the militant wing of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts, continues its attacks on Kenya, whose military continues its campaigns in Somalia against the movement  as part of the African Union AMISOM operations with soldiers from Burundi and Uganda.  Now, having brought their attacks to Kenya …

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“Share the Puck” – Valued Partner Award Given to Dr. Yongning Wu, Chinese National Food Safety Center (CFSA), and Others

While in Shenzhen and Beijing presenting to several government agencies last month, we awarded several Chinese colleagues with our “Share the Puck” Valued Partner Award. Leading their team is Dr. Yongning Wu, the Chief Scientist for the Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA). Our MSU Food Fraud Initiative (FFI) recognizes key partners …

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Food Fix Podcast

I’m involved in a new podcast called Food Fix that’s launching today. It features interviews with researchers who are figuring out how to better feed the world. It’s funded by Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovations. Give it a try! It should be in iTunes soon. Tweet

Partitioning with Binary Variables

Armed with the contents of my last two posts (“The Geometry of a Linear Program“, “Branching Partitions the Feasible Region“), I think I’m ready to get to the question that motivated all this. Let me quickly enumerate a few key take-aways from those posts: The branch and bound method for solving an integer linear program …

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Back to the deep

The Chronicle has a nice profile of Geoffrey Hinton, which details some of the history behind neural nets and deep learning. See also Neural networks and deep learning and its sequel. The recent flourishing of deep neural nets is not primarily due to theoretical advances, but rather the appearance of GPUs and large training data …

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Dark Roll

Here I am blogging from the KLM Crown lounge at Schiphol again. The robots in Cupertino think it’s still Saturday night, but here in Holland we are well on our way to Sunday morning. So it’s time to think about the Thornapple blog. The night before last I checked in at Chino Latino in Nottingham …

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Coding for kids

I’ve been trying to get my kids interested in coding. I found this nice game called Lightbot, in which one writes simple programs that control the discrete movements of a bot. It’s very intuitive and in just one morning my kids learned quite a bit about the idea of an algorithm and the notion of …

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STEM, Gender, and Leaky Pipelines

Some interesting longitudinal results on female persistence through graduate school in STEM. Post-PhD there could still be a problem, but apparently this varies strongly by discipline. These results suggest that, overall, it is undergraduate representation that will determine the future gender ratio of the STEM professoriate. The bachelor’s to Ph.D. STEM pipeline no longer leaks …

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Bones Abroad: What Lies Beneath the Surface of Mexico’s Cenotes

If you’ve heard anything about the Ancient Maya, you’ve probably heard that they sacrificed humans. More specifically, that they sacrificed humans by dropping them into cenotes. A cenote is . The term comes from the Yucatec Mayan word dzonot or ts’onot, meaning ‘well’. Cenotes are natural sinkholes that result from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes the groundwater underneath it. Cenotes …

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Put Down the Guns

If “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a definition of insanity,” it seems, to this observer, that nowhere is this more evident than in the use of violence to end violence. I attended an impassioned and respectful discussion at a community meeting last night  over the best response …

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Thunar Slow-down Fixed

My laptop is not exactly a screamer, but it’s adequate for my purposes. I run Linux Mint 17 on it (Xfce desktop), which uses Thunar as its file manager. Not too long ago, I installed the RabbitVCS version control tools, including several plugins for Thunar needed to integrate the two. Lately, Thunar has been incredibly …

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CBO Against Piketty?

This report using CBO  (Congressional Budget Office) data claims that income inequality did not widen during the Great Recession (table above compares 2007 to 2011). After government transfer payments (taxes, entitlements, etc.) are taken into account, one finds that low income groups were cushioned, while high earners saw significant declines in income. … The CBO on …

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From Sanka to Sushi

“From Hank to Hendrix, I’ve always been with you,” Neil Young once sang. This would have been some time ago, and by “some time” I mean about the same amount of time from today as the “Hank to Hendrix” interval Neil was singing about back then. I wonder, can we use food to mark time …

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Publication – Selection of Strategic Authentication and Tracing Programs

Authentication is a key to Food Fraud prevention and a critical part of the “detect-deter-prevent” continuum. Selecting authentication countermeasures that contribute to prevention is often complex and challenging. This challenge was the subject of my chapter on “The Selection of Strategic Authentication and Tracing Programs ” in the book Counterfeit Medicines : Volume I. Policy, Economics, and …

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Global Divestment Day

Are we performing an exercise in futility here? Is this a further saga in David vs. Goliath? Preparing for a talk on divestment from fossil fuels for today I’ve been reading much on the pro’s and cons of the debate. Almost all of the negative writing  I have found comes from sources funded by the …

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Science Communication: Where Does the Problem Lie?

When concerns arise about the public’s understanding of science—say, on the efficacy of vaccines vs. their risks—I see many articles, tweets, etc., bemoaning poor scientific communication. Communication involves multiple parties and several steps. The science must be published, discussed widely, explained openly, and eventually stated in terms that non-specialists can understand. It also must be …

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Parsing Months in R

As part of a recent analytics project, I needed to convert strings containing (English) names of months to the corresponding cardinal values (1 for January, …, 12 for December). The strings came from a CSV file, and were translated by R to a factor when the file was read. The factor had more than 12 …

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Perils of Prediction

Highly recommended podcast: Tim Harford (FT) at the LSE. Among the topics covered are Keynes’ and Irving Fisher’s performance as investors, and Philip Tetlock’s IARPA-sponsored Good Judgement Project, meant to evaluate expert prediction of complex events. Project researchers (psychologists) find that “actively open-minded thinkers” (those who are willing to learn from those that disagree with them) …

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