Germanwings Airplane Crash: Was it a “Reasonably Foreseeable Hazard” or “Reasonably Likely to Occur”?

Was last week’s Germanwings intentional airplane crash by a rogue pilot a “reasonably foreseeable hazard”? Was it “reasonably likely to occur”? What is the regulatory or jury-determined legal liability expectation of what is “reasonably” and “likely”? For Food Fraud: To-be-determined. The Germanwings plane crash from last week is a horrible tragedy on many fronts. The …

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ACRL: Teacher Expectancy

Kathleen Lagan: Kill the Stigma! Teacher Expectancy in the Information Literacy Classroom One of the most thought-provoking sessions I attended at the recent ACRL conference was one of the last; contributed paper on teacher bias in the classroom from Kathleen Lagan of Western Michigan University. I’ve heard of teacher bias/teacher expectancy in the context of …

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Four Little Questions

What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes? What are your fears and what are your hopes? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make? What is the course of action that best serves this understanding? Could these four little questions – that appear and reappear …

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The one shot isn’t quite dead yet.

I’ve just returned from the ACRL 2015 conference in Portland, where it was great to see so many infolit librarians energized and speaking up for critical pedagogy and thinking about new possibilities presented by the ACRL Framework and threshold concepts. Throughout the sessions, one theme in particular held my attention: the resounding death knell for …

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The rich (and powerful) are different

Discussions at the meeting I just attended are off the record, so I have nothing to report. But I will link to some previous posts of relevance: Creators and Rulers How the World Works Educational background of US elites A word cloud produced from the collective bios would feature: Harvard, Stanford, Goldman Sachs, Rhodes, Marshall, …

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Dietary Impulses

I have an ongoing disagreement with one of my friends at work about incontinence. It usually comes up in connection with the question of how we should think of obesity as an ethical problem. There are some important tangents that could be pursued here—like the sense in which being overweight is really a moral problem …

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Optimization Pro and Con

A tweet by Nate Brixius (@natebrix) led me to read the article “The Natural Order and Divine Order of Optimization” published by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, a rebuttal/counterpoint to a New York Times Magazine article titled “A Sucker is Optimized Every Minute“. The former sings the praises of optimization (somewhat) and the latter vilifies …

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Dialog 2015

I’m at a fancy meeting with a bunch of money folk, tech entrepreneurs, and scientists. No, it’s not Foo Camp, but might be similar … don’t know yet. I doubt there will be an Illuminati / Dark Enlightenment initiation ceremony, but one can always hope ;-) Dialog is an biannual 2-day thought retreat, gathering 150 …

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Favorite Examples of Evolution

When the cold bites, When the review stings, When the news is sad, I simply remember these evolving things, And then I don’t feel so bad! — with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein Over on Twitter, the biology students from George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Florida, asked me and many others: “What’s your favorite example of evolution?” …

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Incontinence

Well, I spent a few hours reading Aristotle this week, and you know that spells trouble for both readers of the Thornapple blog. I just couldn’t resist Googling ‘incontinence’. It turns out that Wikipedia has a disambiguation page for ‘incontinence’. Who knew? One link refers to a 1981 album by Fad Gadget. I’m sorry, but …

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Educational background of US elites

Jonathan Wai writes in Quartz about returns to elite education in the US. Wai also notes that more than ten percent of all Senators, billionaires, Federal judges, and Fortune 500 CEOs hold Harvard degrees of some kind. See also Credentialism and elite performance, and further links therein. Blue = attended elite undergraduate college or graduate school (no …

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Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

For the past several months, CAP fellow Amy Michael and I have been preparing a presentation for the UMass Amherst Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference about gendered landscapes on MSU’s campus. What is a gendered landscape, you ask? A landscape can be considered “gendered” if there are discrete areas where accessibility is restricted between …

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An SSH Glitch

Something weird happened with SSH today, and I’m documenting it here in case it happens again. I was minding my own business, doing some coding, on a project that is under version control using Git. After committing some changes, I was ready to push them up to the remote (a GitLab server here at Michigan …

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Après nous le déluge

You can always blame the Chinese. See also A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification (Baltimore et al.) and Germ line editing and human evolution. Science: Embryo engineering alarm … In 1975, the Asilomar conference center hosted a meeting where molecular biologists, physicians, and lawyers crafted guidelines for research that altered …

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Formulating Optimization Models

Periodically, on OR Exchange and other forums, I encounter what are surely homework problems involving the construction of optimization models. “The Acme Anvil Corporation makes two types of anvils, blue ones and red ones. Blue anvil use 185 kg. of steel and have a gross revenue of $325 each; red anvils …” Really? Does anyone …

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Article update: Implementing evidence-based practice in underrepresented communities

I am a believer in the importance of social workers (and other health and social service professionals) using research evidence to inform their practice. That’s why I spend hours teaching reluctant social work students statistics and research methods and how to evaluate the quality of a research study. I am also straightforward about the challenges …

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Finding the Digital Humanities

While popular retelling likes to place the origins of the “digital humanities” with John Unsworth and the entitling of the volume, A Companion to Digital Humanities, the term has earlier origins and DH first began appearing in 1998.  The term is often associated appropriately with one of the pioneers in digital projects, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In November of …

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TEDxMSU: Hot or Not? Just Try.

Shouting “Sex!” in front of nearly 2,000 people can be scary, but it proved to be a pretty effective way to grab an audience’s attention. On March 4th, 2015, I delivered a TED talk on my evolution research at TEDxMSU, an independently organized TED event held at Michigan State University. The process to getting selected …

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High Tunnel Time

After a full week of when daytime highs rose well above forty degrees and nighttime lows remained above freezing there is quite a bit of muddy green showing in the Michigan landscape this morning. There is also still a fair amount of snow in my yard. I doubt that the areas along the curb where …

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Digital Collections, Data Visualization, and Accessibility: What to Do? (repost)

[This is another crosspost from the Digital Scholarship Collaborative Sandbox blog from the MSU Libraries. The original blog post can be read there.] In my earlier post “Digital Collections and Accessibility”, I touched upon the considerations we would need to address when building or creating digital collections (or other things that rely heavily on utilizing …

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How Do You Feel When Something Fails To Replicate?

Short Answer: I don’t know, I don’t care. There is an ongoing discussion about the health of psychological science and the relative merits of different research practices that could improve research. This productive discussion occasionally spawns a parallel conversation about the “psychology of the replicators” or an extended mediation about their motives, emotions, and intentions. …

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African Enough To Play But Too African To Coach?

Foreign white coaches’ involvement in African football dates back to the earliest days of colonialism. Beginning in the 1960s, independent African states continued to hire many Europeans (especially from the Eastern bloc and West Germany) and South Americans to manage national teams and player development programs. This funny BBC video raises serious questions about this …

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The Free Memoir: A License to Thrill

 Principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask, “What is it in itself? What is its essence?” —The Silence of the Lambs Vivian Gornick says that memoir is “a genre still in need of an informed readership.” I agree. A first step to better reading would be recognition of the different types …

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State Superintendent Flanagan Wants to Stop You from Building New Charter Schools, or Does He?

Call for a Moratorium on New Charters In an address to the Michigan Legislature on Thursday, March 5th, Michigan State Superintendent Mike Flanagan called for a moratorium on new charters schools in Michigan, saying, “There’s enough (charters) now to give appropriate choice to parents.” Amidst an ongoing debate about the role of charters in the …

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Rigorous inequalities

  The Effects of an Anti-grade-Inflation Policy at Wellesley College Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 189-204 (2014) DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.3.189 Average grades in colleges and universities have risen markedly since the 1960s. Critics express concern that grade inflation erodes incentives for students to learn; gives students, employers, and graduate schools poor information on absolute and relative …

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The Fourth Law of Behavior Genetics?

I believe the law stated below almost follows from the observation that humans brains are complex machines: hence the DNA blueprint has many components, and variance is spread over these components  :^) However, note the evidence for discrete genetic modules of large effect in other species: Discrete genetic modules can control complex behavior (burrowing behavior in …

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The Experiment Continues

This past week was a big week at Michigan State University. The libraries were full of students, there was an energy in the air despite the single-digit temperatures, and everyone seemed a little bit perkier than they have been for the past frigid month. It is the middle of the semester, which meant that we …

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Talent management, part 2

Last week I wrote about recruiting new faculty to the College of Education, and this week I turn to another important part of our efforts at developing and retaining faculty: the reappointment, promotion, and tenure review process, or RPT as it is known here at Michigan State. Like most universities, MSU has very detailed guidelines …

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