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‘WarGames’ and Cybersecurity’s Debt to a Hollywood Hack

After finishing his synopsis, Reagan turned to Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and asked: “Could something like this really happen?” Could someone break into our most sensitive computers? General Vessey said he would look into it. One week later, the general returned to the White House with his answer. “WarGames,” it turned out, wasn’t far-fetched. “Mr. president,” he said, “the problem is…

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When Asking the Question is Part of the News Story (New Example: Clinton Supporters)

I ask my journalism students to avoid using the phrase “When asked about…” as a default transition in news stories. While they are taught in freshman comp classes to introduce their quotes and then explain the significance of the quotes, to a journalist that’s just filler. This story from the Daily Mail (a UK publication which has a reputation for being gossipy and conservative) covers shows pictures of teens and…

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How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus

It can be scary outside the box. A university is a box that people choose to enter. It can be scary in there, too. I don’t feel like I’m doing my job as a professor if I don’t make students feel at least a little uncomfortable. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some…

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Sesame Street Is Moving to HBO, and the Symbolism Is Crushing

I’ve been fascinated by the rhetoric of headlines surrounding the “Sesame Street moves to HBO” story. * HBO gentrifies ‘Sesame Street’ –VentureBeat * Sesame Street Episodes Will Shrink to Half an Hour –Time * Sesame Street Is Heading to HBO, and Getting Even Bigger –Esquire * This episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters HBO –Financial Times In short, Sesame Street was founded to help low-income kids keep up…

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A salute lost to history

History is complex and baffling and fascinating. Reading this (an explanation that the stiff-arm salute that we now identify with the Nazis was a general gesture that was common in America before WWII) made my head spin almost as much as reading about the myth of 8 unbroken hours of sleep. A group of about 50 children is raising and saluting the American flag. It is not the customary military…

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Terminated for Reading an Allen Ginsberg Poem?

In February two students complained about an Allen Ginsberg poem that, at the request of a fellow student, was shared in Olio’s AP English class at South Windsor High School in Connecticut. A media uproar followed, and Olio was essentially forced to resign. Most of the facts do not appear to be in dispute – and are more nuanced than the ‘students forced to read shocking homoerotic poem’ media narrative. The overriding question…