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I first encountered the word flabby used creatively in the Adam Smith, Esq. blog. I read Bruce MacEwen’s law firm commentary mainly for the quality and sparkle of the writing and, at the time, I thought it was a thoughtful use of a word typically confined to, at least in my experience, less-than-taut midsections. Naturally, all efforts to find the post have been unsuccessful, but I’m certain of the origin.

While introducing what I had observed as the all-too-common default use of the word relevant in a piece I wrote for an industry magazine, I warned that “a [flabby] directive”…

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All politics may be local, but not all incentives are perverse

One autumn afternoon in 2000, a Zenair CH 601 HDS strained upward from the Morehead-Rowan County Airport near Morehead, Kentucky. My father, the pilot, expressed genuine concern that we might not clear the rapidly-approaching treetops due to my exceptionally heavy bags; several stories in the air, it was an unsettling prospect ultimately rendered obsolete by a safe landing on a runway pressed into a flat expanse of central Ohio.

As a high school senior, dad’s home-built aircraft offered the only viable method of visiting a friend who had begun college surrounded by Appalachian mountains. At once cautionary and provocative, the…

Drug-herb interactions are rising; so are herbal supplement sales

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In 2018, a 69-year-old man was admitted to a hospital in China. His complaints included lower limb weakness, unsteady gait, and muscle pain. He was found to have severe rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal type of myopathy (neuromuscular disorder) believed to be caused by statin (cholesterol-lowering drug) use. Over the previous decade, the patient had taken 40 mg of simvastatin every day.

For its part, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against the use of high-dose simvastatin in 2010, but that’s not the end of this story. The patient was found to be genetically susceptible to statin-induced myopathy (SIM)…

John Ferguson lost his own mind before revolutionizing drug therapy in mid-20th century America

Image courtesy of the Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection

“If you’re going to write about my work, you kids’d better know and tell right out what’s been bad about me,” Dr. John (Jack) Ferguson said in the spring of 1956 at the lakeside home of one of Michigan’s most celebrated medical writers, Dr. Paul de Kruif. The 29-acre estate’s wildflower namesake, the Wake Robin, bloomed as intensely as the apéritifs.

Multiple times a day, Jack recited a prayer. He had carried a copy, given to him by his mother, in his wallet for years.

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change…

A Cold War-era secret wouldn’t evade Sandra Marlow for long

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A concise yet illuminating history of the Walter E. Fernald State School is at once a sine qua non and an astoundingly difficult and nuanced proposition. Inseparable from the institution’s past is the unquestionable influence of a social movement revelatory of the ugly underbelly of human nature: the eugenics movement. Originating from the Greek eugenes, meaning “good in stock, hereditarily endowed with noble qualities,” the term eugenics was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s younger half-cousin. Galton’s initial subject was positive eugenics, or the improvement of future generations through exhortation of the best (viz., …

To design for those with altered perception, Kyoshi Izumi first had to have his perception altered

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This essay contains historically accurate words and phrases that may be considered insensitive or offensive today.

Like a swift descent into cold water, Kyoshi Izumi’s first sensation was that of muscle tightness. Despite an acute astigmatism, titles of books 15 feet away were legible without glasses. A partial deafness in his left ear, a closed door, and a distance of 30 feet did nothing to diminish the sound of his Chihuahuas’ toenails clicking against the floor.

Izumi heard and smelled colors; he saw sound. When he walked forward, time moved forward; when he stopped, time stopped; when he walked backward…

Narrative isn’t just a thing — it’s a competency

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“I type inquiry into a search engine. In 0.36 seconds, I receive nearly 290 million results.”

These are the words of Professor Tom Liam Lynch in a punchy piece titled “Inquiry in an Age of Query,” but I could have written them myself, and you probably could have, too. Many of us have an almost identical experience daily — perhaps many times a day.

But this isn’t just an exploration of our interactions with search engines; it’s also about writing.

Few ambitions can be more impenetrable than a successful transition…

Kristen M. Hallows

Kristen is a librarian-author whose work has appeared in VESSEL, RNOPH and Law Library Journal, among other publications. Visit

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