The effortless perfection of porn

College-age people often make risky calls, as any teacher or parent can attest. It’s part of being young—experimenting with boundaries, with personas, with, well, everything. It’s also biological: In humans, the frontal lobes, where we gain the ability to recognize future consequences, only fully develop in the mid-twenties. As a Duke University teacher, I often
Category: Robin Kirk

Porn stars and stigmas

(From the February 28 Raleigh News and Observer) Duke University is buzzing about an interview in the campus paper that revealed to the world what every student already knew. A freshman is a porn actress. Someone (of course) recognized her. “Lauren,” as she calls herself, saw a boost in her professional Twitter feed over winter
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Rights win

Too often, the human rights world seems replete with only bad news. Maybe that’s usually true (let’s be real). But sometimes, we get a win. It happened this week, in the US state of Washington. There, Governor Jay Inslee halted executions. This underscores that brave public servants can take decisions that prompt real gains for
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Where are the Sochi sponsors on human rights?

This Human Rights Watch video was compiled mainly through cell phone clips freely and proudly shared on the Internet. Released four days prior to the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the video includes the beatings of gays and lesbians in Russia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMTbFSJ_Tr4 HRW notes that abuse is worsening. Not only do the authorities refuse to act;
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Borders and Walls

The theme of the BorderWork(s) Humanities Lab that I am a part of a Duke is how the idea of a division between people — a border, a wall, an invisible divider (like race or religion) can (among other things) either threaten the security of communities or enhance a feeling of safety. My class, At
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New fiction! Sugar Pop, a short story

Check out my short story “Sugar Pop,” which won an honorable mention in the Chicago Reader’s 2014 Fiction issue. When the alarm buzzed Rosa awake, she knew she wasn’t going to give the old man extra sugars that day. Every Saturday, he asked for ten packets. She had begun calling him Sugar Pop.  Nobody in their
Category: Robin Kirk

Bad angle=innocent lives

Important perspective from Heather Linebaugh, an American who is a former Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (aka drone) analyst in the US Air Force, writing in The Guardian: We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or
Category: Robin Kirk

Death eases back

I can’t help but hear this excellent news in the voice of Death, the narrator from Marcus Zusak’s marvelous The Book Thief. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the death penalty’s “sinking popularity is resulting in fewer executions and death sentences.” Nationwide, there were just 39 executions in 2013, a 10-percent decline since 2012. 2013 was
Category: Robin Kirk

Nelson Mandela

                 
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Blue skies and drone deliveries

The Internet lit up recently with the announcement that Amazon is testing a new system that will allow the giant retailer to deliver some order within thirty minutes. Like many, I watched the video and then followed the inevitable memes linking the plan to Terminator, the Hunger Games and dystopia in general. This is all
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