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Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt

On Jan. 27, 1986, the former engineer for shuttle contractor Morton Thiokol had joined four colleagues in trying to keep Challenger grounded. They argued for hours that the launch the next morning would be the coldest ever. Freezing temperatures, their data showed, stiffened rubber O-rings that keep burning rocket fuel from leaking out of the joints in the shuttle’s boosters. But NASA officials rejected that data, and Thiokol executives overruled…

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Video Game about Cancer and Grief

On my list for the next time I teach “Video Game Culture and Theory.” The “extra life” was a fixture of early video games, a reward for skilled players that was imbued with the language of reincarnation. Players would not say they earned additional time to play, or a bonus turn, upon reaching a certain score. They were bestowed an extra life, a new chance at existence. Death is not…

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Former NFL receiver Antwaan Randle El regrets ever playing football

“There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.” […] Randle El is not naive to the profitability of the sport or the impact it has on society, but with the concussion and life-long injury issues getting more attention than ever…


Is Breakfast Necessary?

The idea that early eating is essential makes perfect sense for farm laborers and small children. Whether it matters for normal, sedentary adults is a different question. Many—if not most—studies demonstrating that breakfast eaters are healthier and manage weight better than non-breakfast eaters were sponsored by Kellogg or other breakfast cereal companies whose businesses depend on people believing that breakfast means ready-to-eat cereal.  Independently funded studies tend to show that any…


Why won’t the University of Maryland talk about the chocolate milk/concussion study it was so eager to promote?

I took note of this University of Maryland chocolate milk press release while prepping a freshman writing class. What a PR disaster. Here’s an update: University of Maryland issue multiple news releases about a health research project… and then decline to talk about it? That’s just one of the questions piling up about research involving high school football players, concussions and a brand of chocolate milk. […] While the University of…


ALL ABOUT ‘ARCHIE’ – Jason Robert Brown

A few years ago, my daughter got to perform in a Stage Right summer camp production of 13: The Musical. The show’s dark humor and tween angst, and stunning performances by the young cast, made it one of my favorites. Here is a thoughtful essay written by the show’s creator, about one of the lead characters, Archie, who is bullied and ostracized for having a terminal disease (but who is…


Scaring People Can Make Them Healthier, But It Isn’t Always The Way To Go

As my freshman writing students assemble sources for their term research paper, I will point them towards this article, which raises ethical concerns about using fear as a persuasive tool. (Aristotle said that the appeal to fear, like that of lust, reaches our baser emotions; appeals to love, justice, patriotism, etc. are harder to create, but they lead us on the path that makes us better people in a better…