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Michal Brody
Oakland, California and Valladolid, Yucatán
Recent Activity
What’s more important to you, time or money? Crazy question, right? But science writer Robert Roy Britt reports on numerous studies that demonstrate that, as his title declares, “time can make you happier than money.” Check out his September 2019 essay published in elemental+, a Medium blog. Britt, “Time can make you happier than money” At some points in his essay, Britt frames the opposition as time vs. money; at other points, he states the opposition as one of meaning vs. money. Are these two assertions compatible? How is it that time contributes to meaningfulness but money does not? Explain... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
It might be fair to say that dictionaries generally operate in a kind of stealth mode—we probably don’t think about them too often, they’re seldom added to anyone’s wish list, and if there’s a big one in your house, it’s likely used more often as a booster seat for toddlers at the dinner table than as a reference work. Still, we often trust the dictionary to be the High Authority for settling bets or arguments, and even, sometimes, for helping with schoolwork. We trust the dictionary, and we rely on it, and we seldom question its judgment. But maybe we... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
These days, there’s an app for everything—things you never thought you needed (and probably don’t). Christy Harrison, author and registered dietitian nutritionist, contends that Kurbo, a diet app for children, is not only unnecessary but downright harmful. In this August 2019 New York Times essay, she argues that trying to impose weight loss regimens on children is a really bad idea. Harrison, “I help people recover from disordered eating. Don’t buy your children this app.” What are Harrison’s objections to the Kurbo app? Summarize them briefly. What modifications, if any, could the developers make to the app that would gain... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
In everyday English, to say that someone is thin-skinned means that they’re easily insulted or offended, and it’s usually not a compliment. The opposite, thick-skinned, is said about someone who is not deterred or troubled by criticism, a favorable characteristic. But these metaphoric phrases have been—and continue to be—applied literally and with opposite values in the service of racial discrimination and biased medical treatment. Linda Villarosa, writer, journalist, educator, and New York Times contributor, examines the history of beliefs about skin depth and other physical features and traces how those beliefs influence US health care today. Her August 2019 essay... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Perhaps you’ve seen the message on a bumper sticker; there are a lot of them around. It says something like, ‘If you’ve eaten today, thank a farmer.’ Kate Miller, an Arkansas rancher and beef producer, explains why she won’t be thanking a farmer in this March 2019 essay published in Pork, a Farm Journal magazine. Miller, “I will not thank a farmer” Miller surely knows that she is conveying a message that may not be very cheerfully received by her fellow beef producers. What, if anything, does she do in order to establish rapport with her audience? Point to specific... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Dogs and cats, of course. But pigs, peacocks, and even squirrels? These are some of the animals that people have been bringing with them as “emotional support” on buses and planes, in stores and restaurants, and the trend shows no signs of abating. The concerns of those who claim to need their animal companions at their side at all times are pitted against the concerns of other people with fears or allergies that make the animals’ presence uncomfortable or even health-threatening. This June 2019 NBC Think essay by psychotherapist and author F. Diane Barth works through the causes and consequences... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
“[H]ippies may have been onto something.” Wow, far out. Groovy to hear it. Tessa Love, a Berlin-based writer whose work focuses on the intersection of technology and humanity, asserts that LSD and other psychedelics may facilitate communing with nature in this May 2019 essay in Elemental+, a Medium-hosted blog. Love, “How LSD may facilitate communing with nature” Love’s article establishes two principal benefits to a person’s being able to commune with nature, whether that communion is facilitated by psychedelic drugs or not. What are those benefits? Do you agree that they are important? Why or why not? Love is careful... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Utah Jazz player Kyle Korver has had a stellar basketball career. He was named NBA All-Star in 2015 and has led the NBA in in 3-point shooting percentage four times; fans in all the cities where he’s played proudly sport his jersey. As a popular NBA star, he enjoys a tremendously privileged life. In this April 2019 essay in The Players’ Tribune, he reaches beyond his basketball life to address a different kind of privilege—white skin. Korver, "Privilege" Korver makes a very painful admission, one that he was under no obligation to make. What does he admit to doing/thinking, and... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
If I googled you right now, would I find any cute baby pictures or embarrassing (but adorable) anecdotes about you? If I found some (or didn’t), would you be pleased? disappointed? Kids born since the appearance of Facebook and other social media are just now discovering that they have online presences that they didn’t put there. Their responses to the discovery run a full gamut of emotions and raise numerous ethical questions. Taylor Lorenz, technology staff writer at The Atlantic, relates some of their responses and explores the issues in this February 2019 report. Lorenz, “When kids realize their whole... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
The wage gap isn’t the only way that women and people of color face discrimination in the workplace. Research demonstrates that the punishments they receive for infractions are more severe than the consequences for similar misdeeds committed by white men. Michele Gelfand, professor of cultural psychology, and Virginia Choi, doctoral student in social psychology, outline some relevant findings in this April 2019 Time essay. Gelfand & Choi, “Women don’t just face a pay gap at work. They’re also punished far more than men” Gelfand and Choi point out that women and minorities live in “tighter worlds,” while white men live... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Here’s an idea: we want our classrooms and campuses to be safe spaces for everyone to be able to learn and explore new concepts and information. That shouldn’t be such a controversial statement, should it? Well, that depends. What does “safe” mean? What does "everyone" mean? Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of the history of education, asserts that college campuses should not be safe spaces, and he explains why in this January 2019 Chronicle of Higher Education essay. Zimmerman, “College campuses should not be safe spaces” Zimmerman points to a clear distinction between actions and words, and he seems to be... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Dear Sir. Or Madam. Or, y’know, whatever. Does it matter? For many people, it matters a lot. Ellen Barry, a London-based correspondent for the New York Times, filed this March 2019 report detailing a British newspaper’s controversy around the proper form of addressing letters to the editor. Lest you think that only the Brits would care about this issue, be sure to read the comments to Barry’s article, which come from readers in Finland, Germany, Australia, Mexico, France, Colombia, and the UK, as well as many US locations. Barry, “To sir, with wrath: A cautionary tale from Middle England” Barry... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Siri. Alexa. It’s no coincidence that their voices carry easily identifiable traits of a young woman who is business-like yet eager to please. In this February 2019 essay from the NBC News blog Think, cultural historian Lynn Stuart Parramore argues that, as more and more companies introduce “she-bots” of their own, “Big Tech is wiring the future with cultural signals that undermine the hard-won rights of women to be treated as human and paid as equals.” Read here what she thinks we should do about it. Parramore, “Female digital assistants like Alexa and Siri remain popular in Silicon Valley. It’s... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
We all know that the price tag for college puts a degree out of reach for many people, and for many others, the debt from student loans is very high. Lamar Alexander, US senator from Tennessee and former Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush, has a proposal for easing some of the burden. He lays out his ideas in this February 2019 essay from the New York Times. Alexander, “Going to college should not be a financial albatross” Alexander has several specific proposals for making college more affordable for US students. What are they? Who would be... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
As GPS devices and smartphone maps become more popular and ubiquitous, paper maps become harder to find. You might be shrugging your shoulders and asking, So what? Journalism professor Meredith Broussard explains why paper maps still matter in this January 2019 essay in The Conversation. Broussard, “Why paper maps still matter in the digital age” Broussard introduces the term “technochauvinism.” What does it mean and why does she say it matters? How well does she establish her argument? Why do you think so? Explain your reasoning. As Broussard explicitly states in her conclusion, map preference isn’t an either/or proposition; both... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
These days it seems that the STEM bandwagon is very full, and why wouldn’t it be, given how important STEM is for employment opportunities and technological advances? Still, there may be areas more important than STEM for the future health of the United States, and education writer Natalie Wexler discusses a few of them in this January 2019 essay from Forbes. Wexler, “Math and science can’t take priority over history and civics” Wexler acknowledges the importance of STEM education, but she raises cautions along two lines. The first has to do with the imprecise definition of what counts as a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Probably very few people would brag about the happy state of political discourse in the US right now. Complaints and squabbles (and more) resound loudly from all directions 24/7, drowning out most of the suggestions and proposals for how we might work our way toward more productive civic engagement. In the midst of the cacophony, ‘civility’ is a word that pops up frequently. Will more civility save us from ourselves? Professor and historian Jennifer Mercieca says that it definitely won’t, and she presents her argument in this December 2018 essay from the blog Zócalo. Mercieca, “Preaching civility won’t save American... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
When you think about exports, the first things you probably think of are agricultural products such as corn and soybeans or manufactured items such as trucks or cigarettes. Did college degrees make your list? Not ours, either. Still, journalist Catherine Rampell, who covers public policy and political issues for the Washington Post, argues in this December 2018 essay that higher education is one of the most important US exports, and what’s more, that it’s in trouble. Rampell, “One of America’s most successful exports is in trouble” Why is the drop in international student enrollment a problem, according to Rampell? What... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
We grew up surrounded by commercials, right? On TV, at the movies, on the radio, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards and at sports arenas. So we know when we’re being pitched to. Or do we? Can you spot a paid influencer on your social media feeds? Always? Really? Influencer marketing is a whole new world of selling, and the norms and standards are still, um, let’s say, “under construction.” Wiredstaff writer Paris Martineau explores some of the details in this November 2018 article. Martineau, “Inside the price war to influence your Instagram feed” What is influencer marketing? Why is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
Whether frequently or just once in a while, most of us eat food prepared in restaurants, school dining halls, or fast food places rather than our own kitchens. How much do you know about the work involved in getting your meal into your hands? How are the workers treated and compensated? In this August 2018 Civil Eats essay, graduate student and environmentalist Spencer Robins argues that informed and engaged consumers can help bring about change not only for food workers, but for society at large. Robins, “Are eaters the key to better restaurant wages and working conditions?” Robins mentions several... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
Smartphones get blamed for a lot of what may be wrong with social interactions these days, including a decline in “soft skills” that some say is the reason why young people are poorly prepared for the labor market. It’s refreshing to read someone who has other ideas about this lack of career readiness and ways to fix it. Community college administrator Matt Reed proposes a change to general education requirements in this October 2018 essay in Inside Higher Education. Reed, “Career navigation as a Gen Ed” Reed advocates for the establishment of a gen ed requirement in social skills because... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
Prestige universities across the globe share many of the features that account for their excellence—“celebrated faculty, groundbreaking research,” and comfortable, well-maintained facilities. There is a huge difference, however, in the source of funding for these institutions; those in the US are overwhelmingly private schools, while prestige universities in the rest of the world tend to be publicly funded. Alia Wong, education writer for the Atlantic, discusses some of these contrasts in this September 2018 essay. Wong, “At private colleges, students pay for prestige” Although she never states it directly, what is Wong’s principal criticism of US higher education? Summarize her... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
Do you love the ads that pepper your TV shows, online content, walks through your neighborhood, and almost everything else? We didn’t think so. But sometimes ads are clever, interesting, and engaging, right? How can you filter out the annoying ones and keep the entertaining ones? There’s no simple answer, but innovator and technology writer Laura Desmond explores the possibilities of advertising’s future in this May 2018 NewCo Shift essay. Desmond, “The future of advertising is in the hands of ad blockers” Desmond has nothing but praise for the advertising students she recently met at the University of Texas. Why... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
Parents all over the world want good lives for their children. That’s not a controversial statement, nothing to write home about. But what does it mean to have a “good life”? Is it only about economic prosperity? And is prosperity only measured across generations? Washington Post economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson observes what may be a new trend in this August 2018 column. Samuelson, "The rise of downward mobility” Samuelson is writing about economic anxiety in the US, something that many people have been experiencing for a long time. Why is Samuelson worrying now? Summarize his argument. Although Samuelson is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2018 at They Say / I Blog
“Vegan hot dog” isn’t an oxymoron, and it doesn't attempt to replicate the taste of an all-beef frank. What it does, according to Wired staff writer Emily Dreyfuss, is offer a “comprehensible” product that can participate in protein-centered social events such as backyard barbeques. Dreyfuss explains her ideas in this July 2018 essay. Dreyfuss, "In defense of the vegan hot dog" Dreyfuss is writing about meat, both real and fake. Unlike many articles about meat and vegetarianism, however, Dreyfuss focuses on neither nutrition nor ethics. What is Dreyfuss’s focus? Summarize her argument. Is her point well argued, with sufficient, reliable... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2018 at They Say / I Blog