Von Neumann and Realpolitik

“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” — Thucydides, Melian Dialogue. Von Neumann, Feynman, and Ulam. Adventures of a Mathematician (Ulam): … Once at Christmas time in 1937, we drove from Princeton to Duke University …

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A Little History on Andrew Jackson and the Supreme Court (for Mike Huckabee)

Mike Huckabee invoked Andrew Jackson in encouraging the President to not comply with federal court orders striking the Muslim travel ban, saying “Hoping @POTUS tells Hawaii judge what Andrew Jackson told overreaching court-“I’ll ignore it and let the court enforce their order.”, invoking the aftermath of Worcester v. Georgia, in which the Supreme Court held …

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Heroes

Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. For many Americans …

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Wedgwood Ceramics on MSU’s Historic Campus

Last week I spent some time in the CAP lab with Campus Archaeologist Lisa Bright resorting and accessioning artifacts from the 2008 and 2009 Saint’s Rest rescue excavation. This excavation uncovered many ceramic artifacts (among other items) including plates, bowls, and serving dishes. Among the many fragments of whiteware, Lisa showed me one fragment that …

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Final Commentary on TNToT: “Repeating the Mistakes of the Past in “The New Trail of Tears””

The final commentary on TNToT was published in the LA Review of Books. An excerpt: Riley’s real interest is to bring unfettered free markets and “property rights” to Indian country. She suggests the disestablishment of tribal land holdings as the solution to imaginary corruption, as well as to all the other problems in Indian country. …

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Let’s Make Botany Hip Again: Building Beal’s Botanical Laboratory, Part 1

The tragic fate of Michigan Agricultural College’s first Botanical Laboratory is the stuff of campus lore. Built in 1879, it burned to the ground in March of 1890 when a defective flue—and, legend has it, incompetent graduate students—contributed to a fire in the building’s attic. The Campus Archaeology Program has conducted several brief investigations of …

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Hunting and Gathering on Campus

As I began my archival research about food in the Early Period (1855-1870) I continued to run across stories about students activities on campus related to food procurement. While the students paid weekly for room and board, they also supplemented their diet by hunting on campus and gathered berries and other fruit from the surrounding …

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Feast your Eyes on This: Banquets and Changing Cuisine at MSU (or: How I Wish I Could Time Travel to 1884 and Eat All the Cake)

During a recent visit to the MSU Archives, I was beginning my search through records pertaining to food and came across a rather interesting folder containing programs for various MSU and other local banquets. These programs all featured menus for the event, and demonstrate changes in taste and cuisine over time. Naturally, they piqued my …

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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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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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Resistance

There was a lot of lambasting white male privilege at the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association meeting here in Santa Cruz over the last three days. It started with my friend Ricardo dissing the Declaration of Independence as a document asserting the privilege of rich white men. I think he’s right, don’t you know. It’s men who …

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A Farewell to Trowels

Katie Scharra (right) and I working the CAP crew in 2013 I’ve been a member of Campus Archaeology Program since I started working on my Ph.D. in 2010. Next month, I graduate. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained as a member of CAP has been invaluable, and it has shaped my professional trajectory in many …

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The story of the Monte Carlo Algorithm

George Dyson is Freeman’s son. I believe this talk was given at SciFoo or Foo Camp. More Ulam (neither he nor von Neumann were really logicians, at least not primarily). Wikipedia on Monte Carlo Methods. I first learned these in Caltech’s Physics 129: Mathematical Methods, which used the textbook by Mathews and Walker. This book was …

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Seige of St. Augustine, 1740

This “map” shows a view of St. Augustine at the beginning of its 1740 siege by the British. I thought the most interesting thing about it was this one ship called the Squirrel (see close up from the map’s index), which is a pretty hilarious name, especially beside its other companion ships with impressive names like the …

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Canning on Campus

Complete Mason Jar from Gunson Unit A To say that the Gunson assemblage has a lot of glass is an understatement. So far, having fully cataloged one unit and being close to half way through another we have been encountering condiment jars, drinking glasses, medicine bottles, window glass, lab glass, and many fragments of canning …

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