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Obamacare’s broken website cost more than LinkedIn, Spotify combined

Much of the criticism of Healthcare.gov has come from people who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of a government-mandaded website that manages the individual citizen’s purchase of health insurance from private providers. So, while I have been following with shock and dismay the  horror stories (long waits, incomprehensible error message, unhelpful live chats, unpopulated drop-down lists, etc.), when the critique of the website is used to justify opposition to…

Sinéad O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus

I was never a fan of Sinéad O’Connor, but I remember being impressed back in the 80s when Madonna’s bohemian antics were threatening to overwhelm her talent (not that I was a fan of Madonna, either), and a wise-sounding O’Connor told her some of the same things she has just told Miley Cyrus. You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see…

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The Case Against High-School Sports

“I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms,” says Singleton, who has spent 15 years as a principal and helped turn around other struggling schools. “This was the worst I’ve seen in my career. The kids were in control. The language was filthy. The teachers were not prepared.” By suspending sports, Singleton realized, he could save $150,000 in one year. A third of this amount was being paid to teachers as coaching…

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Intimations of Mortality

Plato, Montaigne, Pascal—those were the major figures in the philosophical pantheon of my student days. But concurrently, in my literature classes, I came to be moved by poems such as John Donne’s defiant sonnet “Death Be Not Proud,” which concludes on the paradoxically triumphant note that, for the dead, death shall be no more, that death shall die. I was later even more moved—no doubt because of the association with…

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Death of an adjunct

Attention must be paid. Meanwhile, in the past year, her teaching load had been reduced by the university to one class a semester, which meant she was making well below $10,000 a year. With huge out-of-pocket bills from UPMC Mercy for her cancer treatment, Margaret Mary was left in abject penury. She could no longer keep her electricity on in her home, which became uninhabitable during the winter. She therefore…

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Father copes with toddler son’s cancer by creating ‘empathy’ game

Green and Larson both admit that even the most seasoned gamers might be disturbed when they realize they can’t simply “win” this level by battling some final boss or shooting at a group of hungry zombies. But this discomfort is part of the point — by allowing player to fail in a certain sense, they believe they can give a more realistic depiction of what struggling with a chronic illness…

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Astronaut Luca Parmitano describes near-drowning experience in space

With water already obscuring his vision, he had to turn upside down in order to release his safety cable. “Two things happen: the Sun sets, and my ability to see — already compromised by the water – completely vanishes, making my eyes useless; but worse than that, the water covers my nose — a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by…