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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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Combing Through the Artifacts

While Lisa Bright and I were accessioning artifacts from the West Circle Drive privy excavation, we noticed that one of the short combs had some lettering. Faint, tiny print spelled out, “IRC CO. G YEARS” with a few other letters (or numbers) that we could not read. Some quick Googling brought up the India Rubber …

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Caring for your abuser

Caregiving is a big topic these days.  It certainly comes up a lot in this blog. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine just published it’s most recent report on family caregiving.   I haven’t digested it yet so expect to see a future post with more detail.  I imagine, like most of the research …

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Gumbo

Way back in the Jurassic Era we started these blogs about food songs because Doug Anderson had complained about not being able to think up enough of them. Here in the Anthropocene Doug has lots of help because I think if he just types ‘food’ and ‘song lyrics’ into the Google, he will turn up …

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Fifth Commentary on TNToT — Chapter 4: “Tearing Down American Indian Educators and Parents”

This is the fifth full commentary on “The New Trail of Tears” (TNToT), a book written by Naomi Schaefer Riley (NSR or the author). The announcement post is here. The first commentary, “Framed by a Friend,” is here. The second commentary, “Turning Indian History against Indians,” is here. The third commentary, “Indians are Saudi Arabia, Not Israel (Oh, and …

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Getting Wasted

I have been meaning for months to raise the issue of the great waste ignored by us in this community. There are numerous reminders, but the one that sets me off the most is the ongoing construction near the MSU Federal Credit Union’s headquarters off State Road and US 127. Driving by the rising structure …

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Politics and Soccer in the Middle East

[View the story “Middle East Soccer Politics” on Storify]   The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2016-17 season on September 19, with a discussion of James Dorsey’s long-awaited new book, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. A journalist and Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, …

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Better Estimate, Worse Result

I thought I might use a few graphs to help explain an answer I posted on Quora recently. First, I’ll repeat the question here: In parametric optimization with unknown parameters, does a better estimator of the parameter always lead to better solutions to the actual problem? Here we’re trying to minimize f(x,θ) with respect to …

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Another Burrito

It seems that country music is a particularly rich source of food songs. The title of this week’s blog is a quote from Gary P. Nunn’s “What I Like about Texas.” I should have used this as the title two weeks ago. A fair portion of the food songs we’ve done over the years come …

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Fourth Commentary on TNToT: Chapter 3 — “Indians as Unmotivated, Dependent Victims”

This is the fourth full commentary on “The New Trail of Tears” (TNToT), written by Naomi Schaefer Riley (NSR or the author). The announcement post is here. The first commentary, “Framed by a Friend,” is here. The second commentary, “Turning Indian History against Indians,” is here. The third commentary, “Indians are Saudi Arabia, Not Israel (Oh, and Crying Toddlers)” …

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New England Tavern Ledger Book, 1785-1788

Picture the scene: A bustling New England tavern, December 1785. Two patrons sit at the bar, swapping war stories and discussing nascent U.S. political philosophy over mugs of… of what, exactly? MSU Special Collections recently acquired an early American tavern keeper’s account book that can help answer that question—recording what American revolutionaries and their contemporaries …

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Becoming a Digital Scholar

Recently, I’ve posted a couple of times on my efforts to make connections with the world of digital humanities. This week, I continue those efforts by attending for the first time a Digital Humanities methods seminar that I’ve enrolled in. As I’ve mentioned in those previous posts, I’m still working to figure out if/how I—an …

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Fletcher Law360 Commentary: “The Right Side Of History: Obama’s Administration And DAPL”

Here: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of Indian tribes that support its position, and the thousands of Indians that stand by its side in Cannonball lost an important ruling by a federal court on the Dakota Access Pipeline fight (DAPL), only to learn minutes later that the Obama administration, the defendant in Standing Rock Sioux …

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Third Commentary on TNToT: Chapter 2 — “Indians are Saudi Arabia, Not Israel (Oh, and Crying Toddlers)”

This is the third full commentary on “The New Trail of Tears” (TNToT), written by Naomi Schaefer Riley (NSR or the author). The announcement post is here. The first commentary, “Framed by a Friend,” is here. The second commentary, “Turning Indian History against Indians,” is here. Chapter 2 of TNToT focuses on the Seneca Nation of Indians of New …

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Independent Streams (Week of September 12)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems Inside Detroit’s Radical Experiment To Save Its Public Schools (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate David Arsen comments on the chaotic state of Detroit’s schools. Wells Fargo To Pay $185 Million Following False Accounts Scandal (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Lisa Cook discusses alarming trends in …

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Remembering 9/11

I’m going to take a “time out” from the usual September theme today to remember what I was doing 15 years ago on September 11. I had gone into my office at Purdue University a little earlier than usual, and I was busily working on something that dealt with a front page story in the …

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Hovering Over Shiny Plots

I’m following up on yesterday’s post, “Formatting in a Shiny App“. One of the features I added to my Shiny application was the ability to identify a point in a plot by hovering over it. Since I wanted to do this in several different plots, and did not want to reproduce the logic each time, …

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Speed, Balding, et al.: “for a wide range of traits, common SNPs tag a greater fraction of causal variation than is currently appreciated”

I recently blogged about a nice lecture by David Balding at the 2015 MLPM (Machine Learning for Personalized Medicine) Summer School: Machine Learning for Personalized Medicine: Heritability-based models for prediction of complex traits. In that talk he discussed some results concerning heritability estimation and potential improvements over GCTA. A new preprint on bioRxiv has the …

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Twitter as a Platform of Collaboration

Whenever I talk to faculty and students about the use of social media in the academy, I advocate for a community building approach. The idea is relatively simple: communication has the power to enrich or impoverish our relationships with one another; we should resist impoverishing and cultivate enriching practices of social media communications. However simple the …

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Formatting in a Shiny App

I’ve been updating a Shiny (web-based interactive R) application, during the course of which I needed to make a couple of cosmetic fixes. Both proved to be oddly difficult. Extensive use of Google (I think I melted one of their cloud servers) eventually turned up enough clues to get both done. I’m going to record …

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SMPY in Nature

No evidence of diminishing returns in the far tail of the cognitive ability distribution. How to raise a genius: lessons from a 45-year study of super-smart children (Nature) A long-running investigation of exceptional children reveals what it takes to produce the scientists who will lead the twenty-first century. Tom Clynes 07 September 2016 On a …

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Grand Traverse Band Press Release on Dakota Access Pipeline Protests & Enbridge Line 5

PRESS RELEASE: STANDING ROCK SIOUX OPPOSITION TO DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE AND GTB’S OPPOSITION TO ENBRIDGE LINE 5. Peshawbestown, Michigan, SEPTEMBER 2, 2016.  The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB), by Tribal Resolution 16-34.2792, and a letter to President Obama, joins in the Standing Rock Sioux opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in …

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#SciStuChat!

After a long wait, our How-To article on #SciStuChat is finally out! You can read it here: http://abt.ucpress.edu/content/78/7/599 So what’s #SciStuChat? Read the paper. Just kidding. You should read it, but the tldr; is that it is a monthly chat where students in science classes across the nation and the globe interact with scientists via Twitter. …

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Another Year for Food Songs

Long time readers of the blog know that September and January are thematic months. Ever since 2011, we’ve dedicated Januarys to “food ethics icons” and we’ve done something special with September, too. Last year we took off from a theme that we had followed for the preceding three years to celebrate a series of “food …

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