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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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Harvard admissions and meritocracy

Motivated by Steve Pinker’s recent article The Trouble With Harvard (see my comments here), Ephblog drills down on Harvard admissions. The question is just how far Harvard deviates from Pinker’s ideal of selecting the entire class based on intellectual ability. Others raised similar questions, as evidenced by, e.g., the very first comment that appeared on …


Have Some Pie

Back when my kids were really kids we used to play this dinky little cassette tape with a bunch of songs geared to Thanksgiving. You might think that this would be a good source for some food songs. Except when I think about it, most of those songs didn’t really say much about food. “We …


Who are the climate change deniers?

It seems that every 6 months, we see the news light up with reporters quoting the latest public opinion poll results on global climate change. “Climate change denial is up 7 percentage points this year.” “1 in 5 Americans now deny that climate change is occurring.” I’ve always wondered: Wouldn’t it be much more helpful …


Modeling learning

I recently read an article by Bruner on “Models of the learner” which sparked my thinking about what a “model” is and how learning is “modeled” in theories of learning. I found it helpful to think of models of learning as simplified representations of aspects of the theories and how they are related. Behaviorist “models” …


Scottish Independence, Britain, and FIFA

With the Scottish independence referendum a week away, Stefan Szymanski of the University of Michigan is thinking about what the outcome might mean for football. Writing on the Soccernomics blog, he reminds us that the UK is the only nation-state with four members in FIFA and points to a historically tense relationship between the world …


Creating Great Ideas

I hate it when the great ideas aren’t flowing. It’s like a dam that disrupts the flow of a river. Creative ideas are funny creatures. They are more like cats than puppies. They will most likely not jump up and down when they see you; tail wagging, wanting your attention. They notice when you arrive at the …


What is best for Harvard

If you haven’t read Steve Pinker’s The Trouble With Harvard in The New Republic, I highly recommend it. … Like many observers of American universities, I used to believe the following story. Once upon a time Harvard was a finishing school for the plutocracy, where preppies and Kennedy scions earned gentleman’s Cs while playing football, …


Seychelles snail, thought extinct, found alive

On the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra Banded Snail, which was thought to be extinct for the past seven years, was found by researchers.  The terrestrial snails are quite pretty, with a spiral shell and pink and purple stripes.  Scientists don’t know how they originally got to these isolated islands.  The snail …


The terrors of Boko Haram and the Nigerian militaries and their militias

On Tuesday, Sep 9th, PBS Frontline broadcast  a terrifying documentary on the horrific torture and killings bythe Nigerian military and the militias they have created in response to the horrors of Boko Haram itself.  The 30-minute documentary can be viewed on the PBS Frontline website, and it provides video documenting what many have been alleging about the torture and murders …


International Literacy Day, new ambigram

In celebration of International Literacy Day, here is a new ambigram design – it reads, “Literacy” one way and “Reading” the other! Enjoy. See below for an attempt to use CSS to use to make the rotation automatic when you move your cursor over the image. Check it out. I think it is pretty cool.     …


Clash of Clans Troop Efficiency

For the past couple months, I’ve been filling my downtime by playing Clash of Clans, a MMO base builder game where you can plunder other player’s bases. In hopes of improving my attack strategy, I’ve read several guides on how to conduct the best attacks in the game. One thing that’s missing from these guides, …


Jabberwocky goes to graduate school

The 5th floor of Erickson Hall is a fun place to be. Typically a bunch of graduate students hang out there, working on their readings, talking shop and in general having a good time. For some reason, last week, I promised Josh Rosenberg that I would write a poem for them. I don’t know why I …


The Politics of Peace

Satish Kumar’s title – Soil, Soul, Society – could hardly be more sparse; yet it represents, he says, a “distillation” of his own lifetime’s thinking and that of his heroes – and the three small words are all we really need to put the world to rights. For our aim should be – should it …


The NIH #ADDSup meeting – training breakout report

At the NIH ADDS meeting, we had several breakout sessions. Michelle Dunn and I led the training session. For this breakout, we had the following agenda: First, build “sticky-note clouds”, with one sticky-note cloud with notes for each of the following topics: Desired outcomes of biomedical data science training; Other relevant training initiatives and connections; …


Another Cup

Passing through an indiscernible hiatus our cruise vessel steams quietly into the safe harbor of routine activity. Yes, folks, it’s September. If you didn’t notice any major change of key it’s probably because the start of any month is kind of arbitrary. It’s the job of bloggers everywhere to chronicle these passages, holding them out …


GameDay: Spartans vs Ducks

The Spartans hung in there (amazing that they were leading at the half) but ultimately the Ducks were too much. I started out in the Spartan section but I went up to the Oregon President’s box at halftime. My t-shirt says “Spartan For Life” — didn’t go over very well with the Oregon fans! I …


Busking In NOLA – 3.29.2014

I’m a sucker for pure, raw talent. That’s why I love seeing buskers on my travels. In my business, we do so much “in post” that it is always refreshing to see creative folks finding other ways to make it sound good, to do it all themselves, and to showcase their pure, raw talent. Taken …


@ Amazon

I was at the Amazon campus in Seattle yesterday to give a talk. Unbelievable construction and development in this part of town.             This is the famous Bezos “door desk” :-) Tweet

Happy Teacher’s Day (new ambigrams)

September 5 is Teacher’s Day in India. It is celebrated on the birthdate of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian philosopher and statesman who was also the first Vice-President and the second President of India. He famously said, “teachers should be the best minds in the country.” To celebrate this day, here are three new ambigram designs (see image below). …