Paths to Explore

  Dear College of Arts & Letters students, As the new Dean of the College of Arts and Letters it is my pleasure to welcome you to Michigan State University. Many of you have already experienced the network of pathways that figure prominently throughout the MSU campus. It is no wonder that so many students …

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No genomic dark matter

Let me put it very simply: there is NO genomic “dark matter” or “missing heritability” — it’s merely a matter of sample size (statistical power) to identify the specific variants that account for the total expected heritability. The paper below (see also HaploSNPs and missing heritability) suggests that essentially all of the expected heritability can …

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Rats!

Terry Link is an occasional reader of the Thornapple Blog who never posts comments, but he will occasionally send an e-mail or make a comment when I see him in person. This week he passed along a link to an article by Sheldon Krimsky that has just been published in Science, Technology and Human Values. …

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Arms Are for Hugging

Arms are for hugging. At least, they should be. But Oscar Arias Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner notes that arms are also killing us. He just published this opinion piece to accompany the First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (Cancún, Mexico,  August 24-27th, 2015). “Throughout modern history, we …

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MSU Fight Song: MAET style

The summer of 2015, there were 133 students and instructors in the hybrid and overseas components of the MAET program. These people were spread out across three locations: East Lansing, MI (with 2 cohorts, Yr1 and 2 of MAET); Chicago, IL (with 2 cohorts of the MSUrbanSTEM program) and  Galway, Ireland (with 3 cohorts, Yr1, 2 & …

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Paradoxes & Ambigrams: Article 2 of 2

A few months ago I had posted about publication of the first of two articles on mathematics, visual wordplay and paradoxes. The second article (part of our series on Art and Math co-authored with my friend Gaurav Bhatnagar and published by At Right Angles) is now available. You can download all of the articles in the series Of Art & Math by following the links below …

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TPACK Newsletter #24, August 2015

TPACK Newsletter, Issue #24: August 2015 Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition of the (approximately bimonthly) TPACK Newsletter! TPACK work is continuing worldwide. This document contains recent updates to that work that we hope will be interesting and useful to you, our subscribers. If you are not sure what TPACK is, please surf over to http://www.tpack.org/ …

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Amik Minis

Just in from a weekend at Beaver Island. I was up there with my friend and colleague Kyle Whyte, and my student Zach Piso. Kyle is scoping out the possibility of a workshop/retreat focused on environmental philosophy, and he has the idea the Beaver Island might be a good location for it. There are some …

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More Shiny Hacks

In a previous entry, I posted code for hack I came up with to add vertical scrolling to the sidebar of a web-based application I’m developing in Shiny (using shinydashboard). Since then, I’ve bumped into two more issues, leading to two more hacks that I’ll describe here. First, I should point out that I’m using …

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Lackeys of the plutocracy?

This essay is an entertaining read, if somewhat wrong headed. See here for an earlier post that discusses Steve Pinker’s response to Deresiewicz’s earlier article Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League. The Neoliberal Arts (Harpers): … Now that the customer-service mentality has conquered academia, colleges are falling all over themselves to give their students …

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Destabilize ‘Em!

The typical reform agenda goes something like this: demoralize the teachers defund the unions dismantle the schools privatize public education We see evidence of this approach in places like New Orleans with its “Recovery School District,” and Detroit, where Gov. Snyder’s Frankenstein-like “Education Achievement Authority” continues to deprive the students and citizens of local control …

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The Skitters

Longtime blog readers expect an entry on peaches about now, but sadly the peach crop in Michigan was not so good this year. In lieu of overpraising the Colorado peaches we’ve been vacuuming into our gullets for the last week, I think I’ll just segue right back to some food references in American literature. Here …

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Pinker on bioethics

Progress in biomedical research is slow enough. It does not need to be slowed down even further. Boston Globe: A POWERFUL NEW technique for editing genomes, CRISPR-Cas9, is the latest in a series of advances in biotechnology that have raised concerns about the ethics of biomedical research and inspired calls for moratoria and new regulations. …

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And so sabbatical ends

Next week, my sabbatical officially ends. As you can imagine, I reenter the academic fray with mixed feelings and a bit of trepidation. I really, really enjoyed my sabbatical. I mean, I really enjoyed it. So much that around March or April, I started worrying about having to come back. But now I’m looking forward …

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Oysters, Anyone?

I spent a good seven nights (though not all at once) this summer a few blocks from the old location of the Reno House on Sacramento St. near Kearney in San Francisco. It’s where Van Vandover is living as he concludes his downward slide in Frank Norris’ novel Vandover and the Brute, written in the …

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Donald Trump, Sexism and No Heroes

This has been an…interesting week in the world of politics, at both the state and national levels. Here in Michigan, we witnessed the personal and professional self-destruction of two Tea Party legislators, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, as the result of an ill-conceived plot to conceal their affair by distributing a fake email “outing” Mr. …

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Deep Learning in Nature

When I travel I often carry a stack of issues of Nature and Science to read (and then discard) on the plane.The article below is a nice review of the current state of the art in deep neural networks. See earlier posts Neural Networks and Deep Learning 1 and 2, and Back to the Deep. …

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Optimizing Part of the Objective Function

A somewhat curious question showed up on a forum today. The author of the question has an optimization model (I’ll assume it is either a linear program or mixed integer linear program) of the form \begin{alignat*}{2} & \textrm{maximize} & & \sum_{i=1}^{N}x_{i}\\ & \textrm{s.t.} & & x\in\mathcal{X} \end{alignat*} where the feasible region $\mathcal{X}$ is presumably polyhedral. …

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SOAR

The visit of SOAR was not on our original itinerary, but I asked to visit and my wish was granted (thanks Tim Spuck!). SOAR is just a jaunt down the road from Gemini on the same peak of Cerro Pachon. The reason I wanted to go was because my employer, the Physics-Astronomy department at MSU is one …

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Autocorrupt in R

You know that “autocomplete” feature on your smart phone or tablet that occasionally (or, in my case, frequently) turns into an “autocorrupt” feature? I just ran into it in an R script. I wrote a web-based application for a colleague that lets students upload data, run a regression, ponder various outputs and, if they wish, …

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Kludging: Web to TXT

Text analysis projects share in common 3 challenges. First, data of interest must be found. Second, data must be gettable. Third, if it’s not already formed according to wildest dreams, ways must be known of getting data into a state that they are readily usable with desired methods and tools. While surmounting these challenges are typically …

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Anna and the soybean talk

Ironically, after almost two weeks in China I still haven’t had any tea. I have dined in homes and in restaurants, with young and older people but have not encountered this elusive cornerstone of Chinese culture. However, I have encountered many products made from soybeans (黃豆). After being harvested from the field, 85 percent of …

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