Putting a Lid On It

It is time for me to get off my duff. I have been sitting safely a bit too long, ensconced in my middle class security. A security a majority can’t share. Time to push forward some radical possibilities. Here’s one to start, some of which I’ve hinted around in the past. It’s time to enact …

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Improved CRISPR–Cas9: Safe and Effective?

Two groups (Zhang lab at MIT and Joung lab at Harvard) announce improved “engineered” Cas9 variants with reduced off-target editing rates while maintaining on-target effectiveness. I had heard rumors about this but now the papers are out. See CRISPR: Safe and Effective? Nature commentary Genome Editing: The domestication of Cas9. High-fidelity CRISPR–Cas9 nucleases with no …

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Tension Mounting between Community and State Leadership in Response to DPS Protests

Intended to provoke The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) teachers who organized the sick-out protests this month intended to spur a conversation about the deplorable conditions of school buildings, state control of the district, and low teacher salaries. Teachers at 66 out of Detroit’s roughly 100 schools organized absences that shut down schools for several days …

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CAP CAFE! The Public and MSU Archaeology

Last night was the first official CAP Cafe with a presentation by Dr. Jodi O’Gorman, chair of the MSU Department of Anthropology. We are excited to launch this series of public oriented lectures about some of the archaeology projects from our department and gather with archaeologists here in the area. Here are our dates for this semester: February …

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Review: Final Rules for FSMA ‘Third-Party Certification,’ ‘Foreign Supplier Verification,’ and ‘Produce Rule’ Regarding Food Fraud and EMA

Three new US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules are effective January 26, 2016 – are you compliant? What about for Food Fraud and EMA? Don’t worry since compliance requirements are at least a year away… but there is a LOT to do. You shouldn’t wait, but the overall compliance may not be as daunting …

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Episteme6 @ Mumbai: 2 presentations

This past December I was at the epiSTEME 6 conference in Mumbai. It was jointly  organized by the Homi Bhaba Center for Science Education, TIFR and the Interdisciplinary Program in Educational Technology, IIT Bombay. I presented two papers there, oneabout the work being done by the Deep-Play group in the area of aesthetics and learning in …

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National Identity after Cologne

The events on New Year’s Eve at the Cologne Central Train Station have been instrumentalized, politicized, criminalized, sensationalized and radicalized. The amount of attention paid to Cologne has also made the event itself a national metaphor. Depending on your political position, Cologne can stand in for right-wing arguments that Germany is being invaded by macho Muslim …

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Free Harvard, Fair Harvard: Harvard Magazine and CNN coverage

We are rapidly approaching the February 1 deadline for petition signatures supporting our Free Harvard, Fair Harvard (FHFH) campaign. Two articles just appeared concerning the campaign. Harvard Magazine’s Overseers Petitioners Challenge Harvard Policies contains a thorough and lengthy review of the issues. After a quick read, I have two specific comments. 1. The author seems unaware …

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Meet Detroit’s Purse-String Holders

Last week, the Governance and Finance Blog examined the powerful influence that private actors are having on the education reform landscape. This week, we take a closer look at how this phenomenon is playing out in Detroit. Photo Courtesy of Gehad Hadidi For a cash-strapped district with abysmal facilities and rampant teacher sickouts, every dollar counts …

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Survey Preliminary Results – What is a ‘Reasonably Foreseeable Hazard’? What is a “Pattern”?

by John Spink • January 25, 2016 • Blog • 0 Comments What will FDA consider a Food Fraud “Known or Reasonably Foreseeable Hazard” and a “Pattern”? Is it one (1) known incident, one in a million or billion transactions? This is a—THE—critical compliance question for the Preventative Controls section of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA-PC). At what point is …

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Karl Marx

Yikes! Although he died peacefully sitting in a London armchair in 1881, Karl Marx’s name still provokes kneejerk responses from Americans of every political persuasion. Totally aside from the fact that listing him means that I have four dead white guys for my 2015 food ethics icons, you would think I might be a little …

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Black Hole Memory and Soft Hair

A recent paper by Hawking, Perry, and Strominger (Soft Hair on Black Holes) proposes a new kind of soft hair (i.e., soft gravitons or photons) on the black hole horizon. This hair is related to recent results on BMS symmetries and soft (zero) modes by Strominger and collaborators. The existence of an infinite number of …

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Ulysses by James Joyce

We’ve probably all done this before. While out and about, perhaps while traveling or shopping, we lay a scrap of paper inside a book. Maybe it’s a receipt for the book’s purchase, or perhaps it’s a plane ticket. Whatever it is, we probably don’t give it much thought at the time. But decades later, or …

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Do Learning Styles Exist?

  Over the last 50 years, the concept of learning styles, the theory that different people learn best when information is presented to them in a particular manner, has become widely popular in the field of education. Many resources can be found extolling the importance of considering learning styles in instruction, offering learning style assessments, …

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Who’s Really In Charge? A Look at the Rising Influence of “Boardroom Progressives”

These days, schools are facing demands from an increasing number of governing bodies. In addition to the usual policies and laws imposed on schools by local, state, and federal government, Boardroom Progressives are playing an increasing role in influencing how students are educated. Dr. Sarah Reckhow has coined the term “Boardroom Progressives” to describe private …

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Bacterial Niche Finally Defined

The following scholarly contribution comes from my wife Madeleine Lenski after conversing with her “sister” (my former postdoc) Valeria Souza. For those with an itch for criteria, Scratch this: What’s a niche for bacteria? Don’t take me to task If I answer “a flask” – It’s a bitch from warm broth to Siberia. Tweet

Should Teacher Union Fees be Mandatory?

  Photo Courtesy of David Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA). The case is examining whether public employee unions are authorized to collect fees from non-members for collective bargaining purposes. The case is contesting a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that legislated public employees can …

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Aristotle

A couple of weeks back when I decided to dedicate this year’s series of blogs on “food ethics icons” to full-bore, no-one-would-raise-an-eyebrow-about-me-calling-them-philosophers philosophers, Aristotle was one of the guys I had in mind. He certainly meets the no-eyebrows-raised criterion. I think it was Alfred North Whitehead who said that all philosophy is a footnote to …

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DPS Teachers Sick of Conditions

Many teachers in Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have had enough. Amidst the budget crisis, enrollment woes, and low achievement scores, educators endure revolting working conditions that have provoked a drastic measure. On January 7, teachers at Renaissance and King High Schools closed due to a, “high volume of teacher absences.” Teachers at other schools soon got …

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Eureka! A Laboratory Glass Makers Mark

We’ve been working our way through cataloging materials excavated during the summer 2015 field school. Last semester the interns, volunteers and I finished unit A. It contained an astounding 8,617 artifacts weighing 52.48 kilograms! As we’ve previously discussed, the Gunson assemblage is a mix of household (plates, cups, vases, condiment jars, bottles), personal (toiletries, cosmetics), …

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That vast right-wing conspiracy

Some coverage of the Free Harvard, Fair Harvard campaign has characterized our five person slate as Ralph Nader and four (evil) conservatives. To set the record straight: I voted for Clinton (twice), Obama (twice), and for Gore and Kerry. I know at least one other “conservative” on our ticket also voted twice for Obama. Hail …

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Cognitive Genomics Interview

This is a discussion with Cambridge University PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko. Topics covered include: genetics of cognition, group differences, genetic engineering. The NYC roundtable on genius she mentions is here. Blog readers may also be interested in this event at the 92nd Street Y (Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 8:15 pm, Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd …

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Free Harvard, Fair Harvard

As described in the NYTimes article below, I am part of a five person slate running for Harvard’s Board of Overseers. The main organizer is Ron Unz, and the best known individual on our team is Ralph Nader. The others are Lee C. Cheng, chief legal counsel for the online electronics retailer Newegg.com, and Stuart …

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