What It Means to Be From Two Places at Once

A surfer wearing a red "Vans" shirt rides a wave.

If you were selected to compete in the Olympics, what country would you represent? For many athletes, the question would never even come up, but that’s not true for everyone. Mahina Maeda, Hawaiian born and raised, participated in the first-ever Olympic surfing competition, representing Japan. In this July 2021 essay in the Players’ Tribune, she explains that she is “more than one flag, one country, one language.” (You can click the link at the top of her essay to read it in Japanese.)

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Women of Letters

A black and white photo of an older couple.

Do you have a middle name? Not everybody does. Some people have two or more. If you have one, do you use it? Do you shorten it to an initial? In the US, we have some leeway in the ways that we identify ourselves, so you may have encountered these questions already in your own life—what name to put on, say, a job application or an apartment rental contract. Deborah Cameron, a feminist linguist who pays attention to many aspects of language use, wrote this July 2021 post about names for her blog, Language: a feminist guide. (By the way, she writes her blog under the name debuk.)

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G Is for Gabi

A child lies on a bed reading a Fodor's guidebook to Washington, DC.

When his family moved from one country to another, a boy’s whole relationship to his name changed. We bet that wasn’t the consequence you expected to read after the dramatic first part of that sentence, but think about it: we carry a lot of drama in our names. Johns Hopkins University student Gabriel Lesser was that boy; read his account in this April 2021 narrative in the university’s News-Letter

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How Do Dogs Sniff Out Diseases?

A brown dog's nose pointed upward against a yellow background.

Dogs know the world through their exquisitely sensitive noses, and humans have been relying on dogs’ sense of smell to help with many different kinds of tasks (not always benevolent) for a long time. Dogs are trained to sniff out contraband at airports and international borders; dogs are instrumental in finding black truffles and other valuable wild mushrooms; and dogs are also trained to detect an imminent epileptic seizure before it occurs . Presently, scientists are developing training programs for dogs to sniff out COVID. In this July 2021 Discover Magazine report, science journalist Leslie Nemo analyzes the procedures that trainers and researchers follow to teach the necessary skills to the dogs. 

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The Bootleg Fire, the Nation’s Biggest, Gives Scientists an Unexpected Experiment

An airplane drops a cloud of red powder over a forest.

It’s not often that we encounter good news about wildfires, but here is a report that comes close. This July 2021 Associated Press report presented by NPR recounts some of the moderate successes in wildfire mitigation efforts that scientists have been able to observe with the Bootleg Fire in Oregon.

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Breaking the Grass Ceiling: More Women Are Playing College Baseball Than Ever Before

A female baseball player wearing a grey and light blue uniform prepares to hit a ball.

The US has a woman vice president, and there are now women referees on NBA courts and in the broadcast booths. Have women fully broken the glass ceiling? Not quite. In this June 2021 Sports Illustrated report, sports journalist Michael Rosen addresses the “grass ceiling” encountered by women baseball players, specifically, women on collegiate baseball teams.

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Amazon’s Warehouses, Bezos’s Worldview, and Elite Higher Education

A large warehouse filled with hundreds of boxes organized into different shelves and cubicles.

Articles and editorials about Amazon, its warehouses and fulfillment centers, and its working conditions appear in probably hundreds, if not thousands, of newspapers and magazines every month. Local and regional newspapers cover the company, of course, as do general interest magazines, and you wouldn’t be surprised to find that business periodicals have a lot to say. Would you expect to find an essay about the company in a periodical that focuses exclusively on issues of higher education? Well, here’s one: Dartmouth University administrator and sociologist Joshua Kim poses some questions about Amazon in this June 2021 Inside Higher Education essay. (His essay mentions and links to a New York Times article, and we suggest that you take a look at that piece, too.) 

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A Profit-Sharing Proposal

A cartoon of a stack of cash on a plate being sliced in two, with one half being picked up by a cake slicer.

If you pay any attention to economic news, you’re aware that the US stock market is flourishing, profits are high and rising for a large number of US businesses, worker productivity has increased tremendously, and worker wages are…stagnant. Or worse. Depending on how worker income is measured in relation to cost of living, the buying power of worker incomes has fallen substantially over several decades. There is no silver bullet, no magic fix, but there are many possibilities for remedying the situation. LaGuardia Community College student Qing Zhang is proposing in this essay that profit sharing could go a long way towards helping workers and the economy at the same time.

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