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Modern Challenges

All writers in this collection speak for themselves—and themselves alone.


America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones magazine, explains the effects that lead has had on crime rates.

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Car Mechanic Dreams up a Tool to Ease Births

New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil explains how retrieving a lost wine cork led to a potentially life-saving obstetrical device.

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The Case for Reparations

Journalist TaNehisi Coates traces the history of systematic economic racism, from slavery through segregation up to contemporary housing policies, to support his argument in favor of reparations for African-Americans.

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Enslaved Abroad, Oppressed at Home

Author Lipika Pelham argues that low-income workers in Bangladesh deserve better conditions.

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The Fast-Food Factories: McJobs Are Bad for Kids

Amitai Etzioni, writing for the Washington Post, examines the hidden dangers of high school students having jobs.

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Fifth Avenue, Uptown

Writer James Baldwin argues for human rights, using history to compare blacks/whites, southerners/northerners, and the haves/have-nots.

Argument and PersuasionModern Challenges First Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

Five Steps for Fixing the Civil Justice System

Former Colorado Supreme Court justice Rebecca Love Kourlis lists five steps for changing civil court so that it is more simple, affordable, and effective.

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The Fourth State of Matter

Essayist Jo Ann Beard recounts a workplace shooting.

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Graphic Ads Motivate Smokers to Quit

Tips from Former Smokers, the US government's anti-smoking ad campaign, focuses not on the possibility of death but on the poor quality of life resulting from cigarette smoking, leading many smokers to quit their habit.

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Gross Domestic Nonsense

Therapist and minister Wayne Muller seeks to define on a personal level what the economic concept of GDP is.

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How World of Warcraft Might Help Head off the Next Pandemic

Writing for Nautilus, Rose Eveleth details how a computer bug in an online role-playing game might provide answers on the behavior of real-world diseases.

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I’m Not “That Creepy Guy from the Internet”: How Gamergate Gave the Geek Community a Bad Name

Actor Arthur Chu describes his history as a gamer to show his understanding of and anger at the Gamergate community.

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An Open Letter to Stay-at-Home Parents

Writer and father Joe DeProspero explains the differences between full-time professionals and full-time parents.

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Paper Boys: Inside the Dark, Labrinthine, and Extremely Lucrative World of Consumer Debt Collection

Jake Halpern, reporting for the New York Times, explores the ways debt collectors operate and provides useful tips for beating them at their own game.

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A San Francisco Restaurant Has Stepped up to the Plate to Wage War on Yelp

Writer Stacey Ritzen explains how one person took back power from online bullies.

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The Solace of Oblivion

In a world where anyone can search Google for information on anyone else, do people have the right to be forgotten? Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker staff writer and CNN legal analyst, considers this question in light of a 2014 decision from the European Court of Justice.

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Think Rich: Six Money Mistakes Millionaires Don't Make

Most people want the secret to making a ton of money. Instead, argues freelance writer Molly Triffin, avoid the mistakes that keep that fortune out of reach.

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Want More Energy? Mind Your Peas, Zzzs, and Queues

Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter offers ideas for gaining energy and lowering stress.

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