Educating Billy

Early in the spring of 1963, we eighth-graders at Conway Junior High traipsed down Main Street to Kennett High School to sign up for our freshman programs. It did not occur to me, or perhaps to many of my classmates, that this event could have a significant impact on the future course of our lives. We saw the guidance counselor, who asked us a few questions and filled out some 5×7 cards before signing us up for a program. There were three general courses of instruction at Kennett. College prep consisted mainly of academic studies. General education began with fundamental English, math, history, and science, …

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Who’s making our medicine?

[Originally published in 2009, this somehow seems relevant. – The Ed.] –=≈=– Let’s talk pills. To treat everything from allergies to heart problems, half of Americans take a prescription medicine every day, and nearly all of us reach for the pill bottle on occasion. It’s perfectly safe, though, because the Food and Drug Administration regulates the ingredients that go into those medicinal compounds, right? Yes—assuming they’re produced in the U.S.A. Uh, aren’t they? Mostly, no. Take antibiotics. The New York Times reports that ingredients for the majority of these bacteria fighters are “now made almost exclusively in China and India,” as are the components of …

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Captain Crozier Deserves a Medal

Let me get this straight: Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has been relieved of his command for “poor judgment,” “unprofessional conduct,” and damage to his “national security mission” because he wrote a letter asking the U.S. Navy for resources to help his crew of nearly 5,000 sailors deal with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship. Meanwhile, his and our Commander-in-Chief got elected at least in part through the help and intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man for whom our president often expresses affection and admiration.  Our Commander-in-Chief has gone through Secretaries of Defense and National Security Advisors as …

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America as Alcatraz

Meningitis broke out at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in the early weeks of 1969, where thousands of young men undergoing basic and advanced infantry training were packed into wooden WWII-era barracks. I knew only that meningitis could kill, and I felt a little uneasy as we formed ranks to hear the protocols we must follow. All the windows would remain open six inches, top and bottom, and trainees would make their bunks with the heads and feet alternating. In the chow line and at sick call, we had to stand two paces apart. That was it, I think. In all other aspects we were thrown together …

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A Foolproof Solution to Gun Violence in the U.S.

Most people who pay attention to the issue of gun violence know the grim statistics.  According to the BBC, 21,386 Americans committed suicide in 2014 using a firearm, while 11,008 Americans were murdered with firearms.  In addition to deaths, firearms cause nearly three times as many nonfatal injuries, upwards of 75,000 annually.  Figures vary from year to year, but the trend is upward.  Americans are in possession of 270,000,000 firearms, roughly nine firearms for every ten Americans.  This is nearly twice as many as the next most heavily armed nation—Yemen, which is in the midst of an ongoing civil war—and almost three times as many …

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