Home > Uncategorized > Asbestos in Canada and Facebook Privacy

Asbestos in Canada and Facebook Privacy

Quick, what do all of these things have in common?


The college football BCS system

Third-culture kids


The Cordoba House (a.k.a., “Ground Zero Mosque”)

Wal-Mart financial services

Business consulting

Facebook privacy settings

Legalizing marijuana

Regulating alcohol advertisements

Campaign finance reform

The failure of WWII’s Operation Market Garden

Canada’s mining and exportation of asbestos

The portrayal of Greek history in Hollywood

Stem-cell research

U.S. Naturalization laws


These are all research topics that my freshmen-writing students wrote about. Yesterday, I spent about 10 hours holed up in Notre Dame’s graduate computer cluster, burning my eyes out by grading paper after paper on the computer screen. I like grading electronically because I can give more direct, in-depth comments about my students’ writing, but it takes a lot longer and is much more draining. Not to mention that I, like most people described in this article, can be easily distracted by checking Twitter, Google Reader, ESPN, etc., etc. All in all, it makes for a long day (which is partly why I’m getting to this post the day after).

But that being said: it’s quite a list. I’ve been impressed with the work my students have put together and the range of topics they have decided to write about. It can always be a gamble whenever you leave it up to the students to decide what they want to research/argue, but they came up with some intriguing topics. As you might expect, the more specific topic, the more interesting and written. One argues that Canada should stop exporting asbestos to developing countries would rely on the cheap material but incur a huge health risk to their people. Who knew? The Wal-Mart financial services essay was also illuminating: Wal-Mart now offers check-cashing and money transfers and has tried to buy small banks to facilitate these types of transactions. But industry watchdogs are crying foul, and my student wants to argue that Wal-Mart’s practices should be allowed because they offer essential, low-cost financial services to poor customers who are usually the target of predatory loan companies or banks that thrive on fees and fines. It’s remarkably convincing–I’m by no means Wal-Mart’s biggest fan, but he does make a pretty good case for why they should be able to offer these services.


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