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About Spartan Ideas

Spartan Ideas is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and opinions independently written by members of the MSU community and curated by MSU Libraries


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Gaza, Ukraine and Possibility

distressed by the recent violence in Gaza, we tried to offer something to address the killing, injury, destruction, and chaos that has been going on between Hamas and the Israeli military in recent weeks. We drafted a statement on the siege of Gaza which we put on our website, sent out to local media and …


Zucchini for Peace

I’m just back from the International Development Ethics Association meeting where I blew everyone away with my presentation on food security. Well, maybe I’m overstating it a bit, but people did seem to appreciate what I had to say. And come to think of it, what I had to say was not really all that …


Success, Ability, and all that

I came across this nice discussion at LessWrong which is similar to my old post Success vs Ability. The illustration below shows why even a strong predictor of outcome is seldom able to pick out the very top performer: e.g., taller people are on average better at basketball, but the best player in the world is …


Boyzzz Khumalo: From Soweto to Michigan, part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Boyzzz Khumalo (part 1 is here) opens with a description of the harrowing injury that prematurely ended his Major League Soccer career. Boyzzz reflects on the inherent fragility of professional sports, the importance of higher education for life after soccer, and his extensive youth coaching experiences in both Soweto …


Boyzzz Khumalo: From Soweto to Michigan

Thabiso “Boyzzz” Khumalo grew up in Soweto, South Africa, around the corner from the homes of two Nobel Peace laureates: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Like so many boys in the land of apartheid, he spent every moment of free time playing soccer and dreaming of becoming a professional player overseas. Unlike most of …


MIRA MIRA on the wall, who’s the fairest funding system of all?

The Maximizing Investigators Research Award (MIRA) program recently proposed by the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) at the NIH is a huge step in the right direction to increase the fairness and efficiency of funding scientific research. See this link. http://loop.nigms.nih.gov/2014/07/comment-on-proposed-pilot-to-support-nigms-investigators-overall-research-programs/comment-page-1/#comment-7121 The basic idea is that researchers will be funded based on their …


Spotlight Africa: After the 2014 World Cup

I chatted about the 2014 World Cup with Assumpta Oturu on KPFK Pacifica Radio‘s Spotlight Africa program. We analyzed Brazil’s historic collapse, Germany’s youth development policies, club versus country loyalties, African teams’ performances and what can be done to improve their results in global football. Listen to the entire July 19, 2014, show here. Tweet

The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision

Benjamin I. Sachs, a law professor at Harvard University, notes that while federal law lets union members prevent the use of their dues for political purposes, shareholders do not have similar rights. “If we’re going to say that collectives have speech rights, then we should treat unions and corporations the same,” Sachs told me. Employees …


Weddings and the Dead

I’ve been thinking about weddings a lot recently. It’s not just that I’m planning my own wedding which is less than ten weeks away, I’m also in my little brother’s wedding which is right around the corner. Of course, I can’t resist looking into the darker and death-related aspects of weddings and wedding planning. Weddings …


For Shame America

For Shame America.  More than 57,000 young migrants have been apprehended, coming without parents, mostly from Central America since October.  At great expense, we have thousands of immigration control officers and elaborate fences.  I try to imagine the desperation of parents to send their children north hoping to escape killing and rape by drug gangs.  …


Soccer Development in South Africa: Same Old Story

Radio talk show host, author, and political analyst Eusebius Mckaiser spoke with Robin Petersen, CEO of the South African Football Association’s development agency, about what is going wrong and what needs to be done about the future of Bafana Bafana—the South African men’s national team. Peterson has an unusual background for a South African football …


Citizenship Goes Global

My day was split between talking to a social forum at a local church this morning about sustainability, climate change and divestment; an afternoon around other candidates for office in Michigan from the Green Party; and this evening after dinner I’ve been catching up on some websites that I used to frequent. One is PelicanWeb …


Digital Environments: Design & Consequence

Wrapping up a great visit to San Jose, Costa Rica for the World History Association Conference. I delivered a paper, ‘Digital Environments: Design and Consequence”, and was joined by panelists Trevor Getz and Olivia Guntarik. During my talk I picked and pulled (responsibly, I hope) from Humanities Computing, Digital Humanities, and Library and Information Science …


Shop Rite

Last week we memorialized the loss of a local Lansing area institution, Goodrich’s Shop-Rite. Apologies to those readers who felt that I did not take the closure of a commercial establishment seriously enough. Maybe I can work myself up to something more commensurate with the deep emotional attachment that people felt for Goodrich’s by considering …


Control Your Facebook and Twitter History

As you read this blog post, there may be someone Googling information about you. What do you want them to find? That is why it’s important to clear your browsing history. Molly Wood shares a video and explains how to download and delete activity on Facebook and Twitter. Before you begin to clean your Facebook …


Faker Faire ’til you Maker Faire (part 2)

In my last post, I discussed the “spirit of making” and argued that teachers should try to invite that spirit into their classrooms even if they aren’t read to fully embrace the maker movement. Pulling from the book Invent to Learn, I identified three activities that make up the spirit of making: making, tinkering, and …


Death of the fittest

This is imho an excessively beautiful figure! I keep staring at it getting thrills, and bliss pours over me as I explore its intricacies. This is evolution.   Click to enlarge. (You should enjoy this figure while listening to one or several of these:) What are we looking at? Fitness over time of all individuals …