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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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War – What is it Good For?

President Obama is about to release his budget for fiscal year 2017. There is every reason to believe that the amount we spend for war will dwarf every other discretionary expenditure. The National Priorities Project “Costs of National Security” website helps paint that picture. But numbers are cold facts that like the winter winds numb …

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Just Cocktails

This recipe book has a fun wood cover with brass hinges and rawhide leather thong binding.  Unfortunately, the acidic wood cover has irreversibly stained the first and last pages, creating a mirror image of the wood grain.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and find it fascinating! Want to see this book in person?  …

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Genetic Testing

This week we are considering a case from the back end of the food ethics continuum: the “devious defecator.” It concerns a legal finding against Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, an Atlanta-based grocery distributor. It seems that Atlas was having a problem policing their warehouse. They could not positively identify the culprit named above, who …

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Deep-Play & the Engaged Scholar

The Engaged Scholar is a magazine published by MSU’s Office of University Outreach and Engagement with the goal of celebrating “Michigan State University’s ongoing partnership with Michigan, our nation, and our world.” I just got the 10th anniversary issue in the mail and was pleased to find an article about the MSU Museum and their collaborations with …

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Stay on target: Healthy habits for grad students

  Even stormtroopers find time for exercise. It’s easy, especially in times of stress, to slip into unhealthy habits – but a few steps down the dark path doesn’t mean it must forever dominate your destiny! With some planning and self-awareness, you can enhance your academic performance by maintaining your physical, social, and emotional well-being. …

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Football Scholars to discuss FIFA corruption

The FIFA special presidential election will take place on February 26 in Zurich, Switzerland. On Thursday, February 11, at 2pm Eastern U.S. time. the Football Scholars Forum will intellectually and spiritually prepare for this momentous event with an online discussion of The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the …

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Tips for Bicycle Commuting Year-Round

I started biking to campus last summer. Since then, on-and-off, I started transitioning to commuting by bike more. Along the way, I learned a few things and wanted to share a few tips for bike commuting year-round: Buy a helmet you like: Buying a helmet I liked made me more likely to wear it. Get …

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Beware the Alternatives

In the two-party governance system of the United States, graphs like these may seem confusing: tagesthemen ✔ @tagesthemen #ARDDeutschlandtrend: #AfD gewinnt, Union verliert. Die Analyse und weitere Ergebnisse um 22.15 bei uns. 1:03 PM – 3 Feb 2016 The state news channel ARD tweeted the results of an election poll yesterday with six viable parties, …

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Water Sanitation at MSU

Given the national focus on the Flint water crisis, where I am a resident, I thought I would take a closer look at water safety and its conveyance within MSU. Water and its safe supply has been a concern for human populations for thousands of years from the Neolithic into the present (history of water …

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Trump: the Master Persuader

Dilbert creator Scott Adams on Trump — the Master Persuader :-) Donald Trump has a way with words—and with people. Yet despite his popularity, he has been a mystery to the media, which have mostly derided his campaign as consisting of nothing more than random insults and ignorant bluster. Scott Adams, prolific author, blogger, and …

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Reflection over prediction, or why we should write our lesson plans after the lesson

  There are three aspects of American life and culture about which I am unapologetically–and nearly equally–passionate: education, politics, and sports.   While I am sure that the 3 areas share many similarities, it’s the differences among these arenas that has attracted my enthusiasm. Education, specifically music education, has been my career path for over 30 years, …

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When “Wee” Present

It’s enough to prepare your own presentation for conferences, but it’s another to help students prepare. In addition to the normal mechanics of what a presentation should look/sound like, there are also conference jitters. This can affect how strongly students ‘engage’ and what they take away from the conference experience. To help your students have …

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Peter Singer

We’ve arrived at the fifth Sunday in January. Both of my regular readers know that I am now contractually obligated to come up with one more “food ethics icon,” and that given the parameters laid out on January 3, it has to be a full-bore, no-questions-asked philosopher. (For stray web browsers who just happened to …

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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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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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New Evidence On The Impact Of Culturally Relevant Teaching

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. The achievement gap between white and minority students, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, has received much attention from education researchers, practitioners, and advocates. Despite widespread agreement on the importance of closing this gap, evidence on how to do so has been hard to come by. However, a recent study by researchers …

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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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Eat your rainbow, but watch out for the bugs!

How can we balance competing public health concerns for needing to make fruits and vegetables an accessible, affordable part of Americans’ lives, while protecting ourselves from some nasty little microbes? The dietary guidelines for Americans were recently released, with a message that we should eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugar. Meanwhile, John Oliver’s …

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Red Souvenir Glass: A Beautiful Memory

Collecting souvenirs is not a modern phenomenon. Travelers have been collecting memorabilia of their adventures for centuries- bringing home with them evidence of the amazing sights and curiosities from far away places. They serve as an integral part of the travel experience for the tourist and for the native community. Souvenirs are evidence of where we …

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When We’re Sixty Four (Thousand)

From the E. coli in the LTEE to the People of the Lab [To be sung along to this Beatles classic]   When we get older, losing our fimbriae, Many years from now, Will you still be sending us our thiamine, Birthday greetings, Erlenmeyer wine? If we were mutants, crazy and fit, Would that make you snore? Will …

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