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Lotteries: America’s $70 Billion Shame

Can this be true? People spend more money buying lottery tickets than they spend on books, movies, music tickets, video games and sports tickets— combined! Lotteries set aside about 40 percent of their ticket sales as state revenue that often goes to schools. Then, winners of more than $600 are subject to 45 percent windfall taxes on their good fortune. “The house” is winning, even when it’s losing. But it’s…

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How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain

I get my fill of Disney pretty quick. In the 90s I chose the time period 1920-1950 for my dissertation, because at the time works published in the early 1920s were entering the public domain in the US. I figured I could publish online annotated editions of the works I had studied, as each fell out of copyright. A certain rodent changed all that. Every time Disney’s beloved mouse is…

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Kids Turn Bratz into Star Wars Rey Dolls

Sometimes, I catch myself thinking there may be hope for the future.    There has been something of an outcry over the toy merchandising associated with Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the apparent dearth of Rey dolls in play sets (Rey being the lead female character in the film). Parts and Crafts, a family makerspace and community workshop based in Somerville, MA, decided to take matters into their own…

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Rest assured, there will soon be enough Rey toys to monetize the imaginations of the little girls who grew out of princess worship

The problems of female characters being under-represented in geek merchandise is real. But when it’s a secondary character like Gamora or Black Widow, at least toy companies have an excuse. When the girl is not just the star of the movie, but of the whole franchise, that’s another story. That character, of course, is Rey, the main character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the latest problem has to…

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Rey is not a role model for little girls (major spoilers ahead)

The headline is silly clickbait — of course Rey is a role model, but not *just* for little girls. Aside from that, Mike Adamick writes lucidly and passionately about a key scene in The Force Awakens. Very important if there are young girls in your life, or if you are interested in the relationship between gender and heroics in action movies. (Obviously, don’t read the essay unless you’ve seen the…

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Is There a Santa Claus?

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun: Dear Editor— I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? Virginia…