Oxford joins Google in Artificial Intelligence partnership

first_imgGoogle DeepMind and Oxford University have announced a “wide-ranging, mutually beneficial” partnership.The Computer Science Department and the Engineering Department at Oxford University will share a “substantial contribution” by Google. In a post on its blog, Google did not reveal any financial details, instead saying that the partnership will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops to “share knowledge and expertise”.Google DeepMind has hired seven leading academics and experts from two startups within the two departments. Three members of the group are professors who will hold joint appointments with Oxford University. Startup Dark Blue Labs was co-founded earlier this year by Computer Science Professors Phil Blunsom and Nando de Freitas, together with graduates Dr Edward Grefenstette and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann. In a statement, the DBL team said they will “fully integrate into Google DeepMind” whilst also maintaining a “strong link to the university”.The co-founders of Vision Factory, a startup that recently developed one of the winning systems at the 2014 ImageNet competition, will also merge with DeepMind. Dr Karen Simonyan and Max Jaderberg will fully join the team, whilst Professor Andrew Zisserman – the only three-time winner of the Marr Prize for computer vision – will have a joint appointment with Oxford University.According to Dark Blue Labs CEO Dr Karl Moritz, the contribution made by Google DeepMind to Oxford University will create “significant numbers of extra scholarships and funding to talented DPhil students”. Google will also offer a number of internship to students allowing them to “receive practical experience with a world-leading company”. The Department of Computer Science commented saying: “By establishing a strong research group in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) in London – with ties to Oxford – gives students in those areas additional career options going forward.Google, based in Mountain View, California, is actively expanding its A.I. capabilities as it looks to maintain its dominance over the Internet search market and to continue developing new products such as self-driving cars. A.I. research firm DeepMind, and the company’s founder British scientist Demis Hassabis, was acqui-hired by Google for $400 million according to media reports. Hassabis, commenting on the new hires said: “We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring.”Computer Science undergraduate Joshua Clark commented on the new partnership saying: “I’m excited for this project… [it] will allow people to work both in the distinct culture and trappings of the University and with resources only accessible to industry giants… such research should inspire future applicants at all levels.”Visiting Computer Science student Paul Logan thinks that “it’s great that Google is sourcing from Oxford” but sees the partnership as “just a company acting in its best interest to increase market share, and a university acting to increase publicity, research funding, and student career interests.” Hassabis, said on Google’s blog, “these exciting partnerships underline how committed Google DeepMind is to supporting the development of UK academia and the growth of strong scientific research labs.”The full effects of the new partnership will not be felt for some time, but the Computer Science Department said, “We look forward to the relationship continuing to grow, and are excited at the prospect of what we can achieve together with Google DeepMind.”last_img read more


first_imgSinatra Idol contest on ThursdayThe annual Sinatra Idol Contest will occur on Thursday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Sinatra Park.This year 15 people from all over the world including England, New Jersey, and Indiana will compete in front of five judges and numerous residents in the contest in hopes to win prizes awarded to the best Sinatra Style Singers. The event is free and all are welcome.Watch for coverage in the Reporter and on hudsonreporter.com. World’s largest free-flying flag to fly June 14On June 14 the world’s largest free flying flag, a balloon, will rise at Stevens Institute of Technology in the Castle Point area of Hoboken. It will fly from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 225th Anniversary of the first hot air balloon flight in America.The flag is 5 stories tall and will be inflated over the DeBaun Athletic Field.The American flag balloon was created following the attacks of 9/11 by pilot Barry DiLibero of Chester Springs, Pa. and has flown in the New York City area every year since then, courtesy of the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank.Hoboken student allegedly involved in school sex assault to be sentenced ThursdayOne of the four students charged in connection to last November’s alleged sexual assault at Hoboken High School is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, June 14.Hoboken resident Amir Goodwin, age 18, pleaded guilty to the accusation for Invasion of Privacy in violation of N.J.S. 2C:14-9(b) on April 11, according to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s spokesperson Ray Worrall.Four teens were charged on Nov. 30 for involvement in an incident that day in which some or all of them allegedly forced a 17-year-old girl into a room at the school, and allegedly forced her to perform a sex act. The incident was reportedly caught on school videotape and on a student’s cell phone.Investigators did not release the names of the other students because they are under 18. A 17-year-old juvenile was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and kidnapping.The two 16-year-old juveniles were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and aggravated criminal sexual contact.Last week, Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson said she could not comment on the case or the students allegedly involved. When asked if the students are still receiving home instruction, including the victim, Johnson said, “Because they are students, the district cannot violate their privacy by discussing their educational program.”At the time of the incident in November, a source close to the administration said the students were receiving home instruction.Hoboken resident Artie Lange sentenced to probationAccording to multiple news reports, resident and comedian Artie Lange was sentenced to four-year probation on Friday, June 1 in State Superior Court.Multiple news outlets also reported that Lange pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in December after he was arrested the previous May in his parking garage in Hoboken.According to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, the former Howard Stern regular was arrested on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 6:45 p.m. for failing to appear in Essex County Superior Court after he was charged in May with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.The comedian has written about drug use before and was hospitalized in 2010 after apparently attempting to commit suicide in his condo at the Shipyard complex in Hoboken.High school students win community service scholarshipHoboken High School students Hannah Mack and Ivelisse Lorenzo were each awarded $2,000 Community Service Merit Scholarships from Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center.The students earned the scholarships as part of the hospital’s Community Service Merit Scholarship Program that recognizes and rewards high school seniors from eight local high schools who have demonstrated significant accomplishments in community service while maintaining academic success. The online application process was conducted in February and March. Recommendations were made by high school guidance counselors and scholarship applications were reviewed by a committee of community volunteers.Hoboken development wins smart growth awardNew Jersey Future, a statewide planning and smart growth advocacy group, has awarded top honors to Hoboken’s 700 Jackson St. development.The project was a collaboration between the developer, Bijou Properties, and Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects. They worked with the City of Hoboken’s Director of Community Development Brandy Forbes to create a community-based plan that includes two new parks, a gymnasium, and an underground stormwater management system to reduce flooding in western Hoboken.The plan calls for a new 14-story mixed-use residential building with 26,000 sqft of retail space on the ground floor. There are 424 residential units of which 10 percent will be affordable. The building will front onto one of the new parks. The building will have a green planted roof to collect and hold water that will minimize flooding during rain events. The 1-acre park in front of the building includes a large, programmable plaza designed to accommodate vendors and seasonal markets, tiered seating, and a tilted lawn. DeGise announces $6.83M in Trust Fund recommendationsHudson County Executive Tom DeGise has announced $6.83 million in recommendations from the Hudson County Open Space trust to increase and improve parks and open space and preserve historic sites throughout the county.His recommendations, based on the annual evaluation of applications conducted by the Open Space & Historic Preservation Trust Advisory Board, will now go to the Board of Freeholders for a public hearing and eventual vote, likely to be held in September.The grants, if approved by the freeholders, will finance enhancements to sites in Bayonne, Guttenberg, Hoboken, Jersey City, North Bergen, Union City, Secaucus, West New York, county parks in Mercer Hill and Laurel Hill, and the Weehawken Recreational Pier B in the Hudson River.Pier B is a recreational pier just north of the Chart House pier that stretches nearly 500 feet into the Hudson River,.The Trust’s funding is drawn from a 1 cent per $100 of assessed value micro-tax of all property throughout the county. DeGise recommend a total of $6,830,488.45 in funding awards to the freeholders for the following projects: Bayonne, $500,000 for Neil A. DeSena Park; Guttenberg, $335,463.45 for Veterans Park (Phase II); Hoboken, $500,000 for Madison Street Park Playground; Jersey City, $500,000 for Berry Lane Park Skate Park, $500,000 for Riverview Fisk Park rehabilitation, and $100,000 for Old Bergen Church Cemetery Open Space Project; North Bergen, $500,000 for Policemen’s Memorial Park; Secaucus, $500,000 for Meadowlands Parkways Indoor Sports Facility; Union City, $187,025 for 38th Street Playground and $308,000 for Washington Park Improvements; Weehawken, $500,000 for Weehawken Pier B; West New York, $500,000 for Patricia McEldowney Field; Hudson County Division of Parks, $500,000 for Mercer Park and $450,000 for Laurel Hill Park Shoreline ImprovementsThe freeholders will host the annual open public hearing on the recommendations later this summer. At that time the public will have a right to comment.Fundraiser for art camp scholarships announcedOn June 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Art Is Love & Action will host a fundraiser at CycleBar in the Monroe Center which will provide scholarships for 20 camp participants.Art Is Love & Action summer camp begins in August and brings professional artists to teach young people to express themselves through poetry, acting, movement, mixed media, photography and holistic wellness.This year, the camp is partnering again with Hoboken Housing Authority as well as other community institutions like the Hoboken Public Library and the Mason Civic League. The camp is for children age 12-16 years old.Tickets for the fundraiser can be purchased online at https://hoboken.cyclebar.com/class-detail/?apptid=7939159. Summer Solstice event announcedOn Saturday, June 23 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Green Pear Cafe at 93 Grand St will host an Annual Summer Solstice Block Party.The party is intended to “give back to the community and spread the positive vibe beyond its four walls.” It will allow residents and other community members to sell or trade goods. To reserve a selling spot message the Green Pear Cafe on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greenpearcafe/. 8th Annual New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival coming to HobokenThe New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF) is the country’s largest and longest continually running community-engaged theatre project, aimed at exploring local topics, ideas, trends, and seeding conversations for, by, and about artists and citizens of New Jersey. The marathon evening of one-minute plays by some of New Jersey’s established and emerging playwrights and directors will have three performances: Saturday, June 30 at 8 p.m., Sunday, July 1 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. All Performances at Mile Square Theatre (1400 Clinton St., Hoboken).For Tickets Visit www.milesquaretheatre.org.City announces inaugural Waterfront Arts GalaMayor Ravi Bhalla on Wednesday announced Hoboken’s inaugural Waterfront Arts Gala to benefit the city’s Cultural Affairs trust and support the arts community in Hoboken.The gala will take place on Monday, June 25 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. along the waterfront walkway on Sinatra Drive between 11th and 12th streets.“I am personally excited about this event and look forward to it taking place year after year,” said Bhalla. “Art is sadly not given the support it deserves, considering the role it plays in enriching our lives. I’m especially glad that this event will show off our beautiful waterfront while supporting public arts initiatives.”Tickets to the gala are $100 and can be purchased at www.hobokennj.gov/register.Each ticket comes with a VIP seat to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s concert in Maxwell Place Park on June 28.The first 100 tickets sold also come with a voucher for two free tickets to a New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concert for the 2018/2019 season.The event includes a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction.Cultural Affairs is not funded through the city budget and depends on events like the Gala to finance events like the annual Harvest Festival and Movies Under the Stars.The Gala will be cocktail-style, with various sponsors providing food and beer, wine, and liquor tastings and art from local galleries will also be on display. Movie based on Reporter editor’s novel to debut in Japan“Carrie Pilby,” a comedy movie starring Nathan Lane that can currently be seen on Netflix, will open in theaters in Japan in October. It’s based on the humorous 2002 novel of the same name written by Hoboken novelist and Reporter newspaper group Editor-in-Chief Caren Lissner.The novel and movie center on Carrie, a 19-year-old nerdy genius who graduates from college three years early and moves to New York City, unsure how to make friends and date in the real world. She buries herself in books until her wryt therapist (played by Lane) gives her a list of tasks to force her to meet people. Which tradeoffs should she make to fit in?In Japan, the movie will be called “My Precious List.”The novel is available on Amazon and more information is available at carenlissner.com.The indie film premiered in North America as a special presentation at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016 and began its current run on Netflix starting last September. It also stars Bel Powley, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, and William Moseley.The film was directed by Susan Johnson, who also directs the forthcoming film adaptation of the novel “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” to premiere in August.The movie has local color in another way — Lane grew up in Jersey City and graduated from St. Peter’s Prep. 1 / 2  On Monday, Hoboken officials and members of the Hudson County Pride community raised a rainbow flag in honor of LGBTQ month.  2 / 2  Residents enjoyed the Hoboken Housing Authority’s 2018 Health Fair last weekend. Photo provided by Carol Denise Photography. ❮ ❯center_img ×  1 / 2  On Monday, Hoboken officials and members of the Hudson County Pride community raised a rainbow flag in honor of LGBTQ month.  2 / 2  Residents enjoyed the Hoboken Housing Authority’s 2018 Health Fair last weekend. Photo provided by Carol Denise Photography. ❮ ❯last_img read more

Press release: Government moves closer to introducing Sentencing Code

first_imgNeither the pre-consolidation amendments nor the Code introduce any new substantive law or alter the maximum or minimum penalties available for an offence.In 2014, the government agreed that the Law Commission should undertake a project to consolidate sentencing procedural law, and the Code has been subject to four formal public consultations.Notes to editors Judges currently have to contend with more than 1,300 pages of convoluted and overlapping law – making it difficult to apply the law consistently and causing unnecessary delays to the justice process.The Sentencing Code will bring greater clarity to sentencing laws, reducing the number of errors made whilst making sentencing hearings more efficient.The Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill brought forward today will make necessary technical amendments and remove historic, now redundant layers of legislation, to pave the way for the Sentencing Code.This will include enacting a ‘clean sweep’ to sentencing procedural law, which will allow for all offenders convicted after the Sentencing Code comes into force to be sentenced according to the most up to date law, irrespective of when they committed the offence.The clean sweep will be subject to exceptions to make sure that no offender is subject to a greater penalty than was available at the time the offence was committed.Justice Minister Robert Buckland said: Both pieces of draft legislation were published by the Law Commission in November 2018. The Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) (PCA) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on Wednesday and published today (23 May 2019). It is vital that judges have complete clarity when making sentencing decisions, so we want to do all we can to reduce the complexity of the law, some of which is centuries old. This Bill will pave the way for the Sentencing Code, simplifying the statute book and helping the public to better understand the sentencing process. In 2014, the government agreed that the Law Commission should undertake a project to consolidate sentencing procedural law. The Sentencing Code will present the law in one place, in a more logical order, and in simpler terms. These improvements will assist legal professionals in applying the law, thereby reducing the risk of error, appeals and delay in the process. Before the Code can be introduced, this PCA Bill must be introduced to remove historic layers of legislation and correct minor errors and ambiguity in the law to enable the consolidation in the Code to happen.last_img read more

Greensky Bluegrass Announces Late Spring Tour

first_imgGreensky Bluegrass are having so much fun on tour right now that they’ve added 19 more dates to their “Late Spring” routing schedule. After finishing up their previously scheduled 17 dates in Olympic Valley,CA, the tour will see the band travel the east coast from May 5 to June 11, with Joshua Davis as support for a number of dates. In addition to various clubs and venues, the jamgrass favorites will hit festivals like Susquehanna Breakdown, Blue Ox Music Festival, Bonnaroo, and more.The band is already in the throes of a successful spring tour, after releasing their new album Shouted, Written Down & Quoted in the later part of 2016. You can see the band’s new tour schedule below, and head to their website for ticketing details. The pre-sale for these new dates starts on March 6 at 10 AM Pacific, with the general on-sale on March 10.5/5 – Beale Street Music Festival – Memphis, TN5/6 – House of Blues New Orleans – New Orleans, LA*5/9 – The Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL*5/10 – Jannus Live – St. Petersburg, FL*5/11 – Cox Capitol Theatre – Macon, GA*5/12 – Ritz Raleigh – Raleigh, NC*5/13 – The NorVA – Norfolk, VA*5/14 – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater – Wilmington, NC*5/17 – George’s Majestic Lounge – Fayetteville, AR*5/18 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK*5/19 – TBA – Kansas City, MO5/20 – Susquehanna Breakdown – Scranton, PA5/26 – Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival – Evans, GA5/27 – Rooster Walk – Martinsville, VA5/28 – Dark Star Jubilee – Thornville, OH6/1,2,3 – Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo, MI6/9 – Blue Ox Music Festival – Eau Claire, WI6/10 – MOKB Presents at Garfield Park – Indianapolis, IN6/11 – Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – Manchester, TN[Photo by Keith G. at Phierce Photo]last_img read more

PHOTOS: Twiddle & Gene Evaro Jr. At The Teragram Ballroom

first_imgLoad remaining images Twiddle returned to Los Angeles on Saturday night, performing at the Teragram Ballroom located in the outskirts of LA. Opening up the night was up-and-coming singer-songwriter Gene Evaro Jr. Hailing from nearby Joshua Tree, CA, Evaro delighted the crowd with tight, funky sounds. The four-piece, complete with bass, guitar, drum and sax, was sure to create some new fans within the LA crowd. Next, Twiddle took the stage to a fully packed ballroom. Keyboardist Ryan Dempsey donned a full onesie Halloween costume, along with many of the crowd members. They performed a lights-out show, complete with multiple Toots and the Maytals covers, including “Pressure Drop” and “54-46 Was My Number”.Check out the full gallery below, courtesy of Brandon Weil.Twiddle | Teregram Ballroom | Los Angeles | 10/28/17 | Photos by Brandon Weil Photo: Geno Avarolast_img read more

Thoughtful leadership

first_imgMarcel Moran ’11 of Eliot House and Annie Douglas ’12 of Adams House have been named this year’s David and Mimi Aloian Memorial Scholars. The two will be honored at the Harvard Alumni Association’s (HAA) fall dinner. The criteria for the awards reflect the traits valued and embodied by the late David and Mimi Aloian — thoughtful leadership that makes the College an exciting place in which to live and study, and special contributions to the quality of life in the Houses. David Aloian was the HAA’s executive director, and he and his wife Mary ‘Mimi’ Aloian served as masters of Quincy House from 1981 to 1986.last_img read more

Treasures to have and to hold at the Loeb Music Library

first_imgStudents who attended “Treasures of the Loeb Music Library,” a Wintersession event hosted by Library Assistant Peter Laurence, Reference and Digital Program Librarian Kerry Masteller, and Music Reference and Research Librarian Liza Vick, arrived at the Merritt Room to a cross-section of the library’s rare recordings, medieval manuscripts, annotated scores and early edition songbooks.“The best part of a special collections open house is telling students they can turn the pages,” said Masteller.At her encouragement, a participant flipped through the heart-shaped “Chansonnier De Jean De Montchenu,” a facsimile of a 15th-century collection of French and Italian secular music bound in red velvet.Another paused at a set of three 1930s albums from the Timely Recording Company. The rare albums feature labor songs and artwork connected to the Communist Party, including compositions by Hanns Eisler and words by Berthold Brecht. Not long after the records were produced, growing concerns about the label’s leftist ties led its founder to deny he created the materials.“They’re really unique,” Laurence described. “These were the first three ever published on the label.”Other items on display hinted at the scope of the library’s collection. A 1609 score written for qin, a Chinese musical instrument, is one of 19 in existence, and underwent conservation during the Qing Dynasty.Also showcased was a more recent transcript of Bulgarian music as collected by Martha Forsyth in the early 1980s.“It’s interesting to look at even if you don’t understand all the words,” said Vick.last_img read more

College hosts student panel on political involvement

first_imgCollege students and political activism have historically been linked. On Tuesday, Saint Mary’s seniors Zoie Clay and Ashley Hovorka spoke about their participation in the nationwide tradition of student political involvement through a panel discussion.The students participated in the College’s internship program in Washington D.C., and while there marched in two demonstrations. Clay said she participated in a third after she returned home.The students first participated in the Women’s March in January 2018. Both said that the March helped them to dispel stereotypes and empower them.“It was an incredible experience and it felt that we were taking part in a historic movement of our time,” Hovorka said. “It was an empowering place to be.”She was impressed by the variety of people who marched and got involved with the cause.“There were a lot of young women there, families there as well, older people, couples especially and that surprised me because I made the assumption that there would just be a lot of young women there,” Hovorka said.Hovorka also discussed how the march was an extension of her work on campus in the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO).“Coming from Saint Mary’s, I was involved in BAVO so it was nice to be able to put my actions from here on campus and take that out and be politically active as well,” Hovorka said.The second march that both students attended was the March for Our Lives in March 2018. This march was personal for Clay, she said.“I have been an advocate for gun control since I was 8 years old, which was the age I lost my mother to a senseless act of gun violence,” Clay said.Clay said the March extended political change and also affected her emotionally.“This march showed me, especially how important it was to talk about these details and that it is okay to talk about them,” Clay said. “The March for Our Lives — it was energy that was very comforting and respectful. Just an indescribable feeling of support on solidarity, from feeling alone on my position on gun control because I grew up in the conservative South.”Clay encouraged more people to find and participate in this process of solidarity and said that the marches become existential.“At that moment, I realized the power of a movement and a march, not just the power of that movement in particular, but the power of a movement in general, and what it can be to the people who are a part of it and that the power to bring people together when they feel alone and separated and the power of being able to find support in a movement,” Clay said.Clay participated in the local Families Belong Together March in southern Mississippi as well. While she said it was smaller than those she attended in D.C., she still found similarities.“The energy was actually very close to the energy that we felt in D.C, these people still cared, they were still there for a reason,” Clay said. “It did affect them even if it meant putting themselves out on the line, people did throw things at us and yelled not nice things, but they also honked to show their support.”The experience with this March also encouraged Clay to participate in marches in the South Bend community, she said.“This March was a reminder that we can still be an activist and a student activist in a small town like South Bend, your voice does still matter,” Clay said. “Even if you feel defeated, because you are in a small town or your campus doesn’t reflect how you feel that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak out against it.”Both of the girls were inspired and moved by their experiences. They recognized the benefits of a Saint Mary’s education and encouraged their peers to participate in movements across the nation.“Being a part of something that is greater, this is a movement, and it is really important for people in our community to take part and realize the importance of being a part of this,” Hovorka said. “It is really empowering. Saint Mary’s really pushes you to do something greater with the education that you receive here. It can’t just apply to the classroom you have to take it out into our lives as well, and part of that is activism and standing up for something.”Tags: department of political science, political activism, saint mary’slast_img read more

Matthew Morrison & the Cast of Finding Neverland Perform ‘Believe’

first_img View Comments Related Shows Bears can roller-skate…all you have to do is believe! And watch this performance from the cast of Finding Neverland. Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly and their fellow believers took the stage on April 23 for a special Good Morning America appearance. Check out the clip below, which is full of ice cream carts, balloons and yes, Morrison dancing with a bear on roller-skates. Everything that could possibly make your morning brighter. Finding Neverland is now playing at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Finding Neverland Show Closed This production ended its run on Aug. 21, 2016last_img read more

Sweet Potatoes Sweet

first_imgA sweetpotato by any other name is still a sweet potato. Since that time, McLaurin, a horticulturist with the University of Georgia ExtensionService, has gathered some juicy facts about this food. It isn’t related to the Irishpotato, by the way. That could be why the National Society of Horticulture Sciencenow refers to it as sweetpotato — one word, not two. “It was a big part of the diet,” he said. “Per capita consumption has gone way, waydown, but it’s making a comeback because of the nutrition.” “The dried mud insulated them, repelled the rain and kept them a good temperature,”he said. “When they needed the food, they’d break into the hill and eat them. Thesweet potatoes would store all winter as long as the seal was intact.” The sweet potato may be only holiday food for most people, but it has a friend inWayne McLaurin. “We’ve found everything from stuff that’s so sweet to others that are horrible,”McLaurin said. “We found buttery flavors and others that taste like turpentine orcanned corn.” “In the pre-Civil War South,” McLaurin said, “people harvested the sweet potato, tookthe unblemished ones and piled them up, covered them with straw and mud five inchesdeep and sealed them in. It can be baked or fried. It’s great as chips or in casseroles and pies. Sweet potatoes area great substitute for carrots in carrot cake. The list goes on. “We have five to seven types of apples but only one sweet potato that we work with,”McLaurin said. “The flavor is very strong, but we tend to eat things like white bread,Irish potatoes or rice — bland things — so we can put something with it. McLaurin’s feels strongly that “sweet potatoes have real potential for increasing humannutrition. They’re one of the highest potentials for value, not just an emptycarbohydrate.” The sweet potato was a staple in Georgia as recently as the 1920s and ’30s, whenfarmers grew 80,000 acres. A favorite meal for many Southern generations was sweetpotatoes, cornbread and salt pork. Farmers didn’t stop growing sweet potatoes just because people’s tastes changed. “When I was growing up in Louisiana,” Wayne McLaurin recalls, “if it hadn’t been forsweet potatoes and peas, we’d have starved slap to death.”center_img “We’re trying to develop a bland sweet potato with high nutrition,” he said, “that mightcompete with Irish potatoes and grow well in Georgia.” To learn more about growing and cooking sweet potatoes, contact the county extensionoffice. “The sweet potato weevil is a real problem,” McLaurin said. “We don’t really haveanything other than two bricks that will kill it. It’s one of the two major insectproblems worldwide.” “I like them baked,” he said. “Or french fry them with fish. Or french fry them and putsome cinnamon and brown sugar on them for breakfast. Chips are good with bluecheese dressing. “Nutritionally, the sweet potato ranges as the most nutritious food per unit eaten ofanything,” McLaurin said. “It has almost everything in it, including estrogen, vitaminsA and C, beta-carotene, starches, sugar and minerals, but no protein.” “My mama would mash them, form them into a ball, poke a hole and put amarshmallow inside, and roll the ball in coconut and chipped pecans.” They also bring out the chef in McLaurin. What’s his favorite way to cook sweetpotatoes? However you spell it, the sweet potato deserves more respect. “We didn’t have as many Irish potatoes that grew well, and sweet potatoes did growwell,” McLaurin said. “So they were more plentiful. Researchers are developing other flavor types of sweet potatoes. UGA horticulturist Stan Kays is working with McLaurin to assess sweet potatoesworldwide to look at flavors. last_img read more