by Larry Iles,MA,AM,BA,PGCE,ABD.

In a seemingly innocuous commentary to my Dulce Decorum WWi articles here in this monthly,my very right wing Uncle,with only one Cambridge honorary MA to his credit and over half a century of public neglect of my grandfather,s WW1 role,castigates me for all sorts of what he arrogantly mislabels error on his father.In fact despite being in recovery from a life-threatening bothched operation,all THE MONITOR collective know I went out of my way to accommodate his originally intemperate critique of the WHOLE  pieces altogether.Without telling me until too late he asked his two richest sons to research the book he cites as allegedly proving one S.kING hALL as the sole author of the Jutland diary I was given by BOTH my maternal grandmother and my mother to use as I wanted.They sadlylike him have not even requested the full diary I alone evidently had or taken into account the before he died critical viewpoint of WWi my grandad REPETITIVELY confided to me,often in oral history in the presence reinforcingly of his wife and this Uncles very own sister,my mother as context WW2 comparison,appeasement described in the two artcles.In the US JOURNALISM HISTORY JNL last year ,vol 40,no 3 F.Anderson in an article entitled CONCEALED HISTORY describes devastatingly principally on WWi the type of  masculinist cover-up history my uncle wanted me to write,including even a travesty of W,Owens detestation fatally of that war.More specifically it emerges JD Dobson did actually write up PERHAPS Halls account and in that respect was AT Jutland.nothing else was claimed by me.Hall was later published by the right wing E Benn pro-war,anti-feminist press in even childrens stories and alas both he and my brave grandad may have,legit so in my view been in breach of the secretive OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT of 1911 in their very selective use of the diary to support Jellicoes non-pursuit option  of the German fleet to save lives,a controversy this Dobson chooses to ignore eeven though it still rages.I rest my case,will enter into no further public MONITOT DEBATE  on this topic,and I am dismayed at this relatives disregard of WOMENS HERSTORY ORAL TESTIMONY.confident my grandmother did wise in entrustion this part of her hubbys legacy to me in outranking publications and Labour/Liberal history to my rather too bellicose uncle.


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The Windsor Prince and I by Chris Sotraidis

The Windsor Prince and I
a short play by Chris Sotraidis

Cast of Characters:

Prince Andrew, Duke of York……………………….as Honorary Rear Admiral of the Royal Navy
Jeffrey Edward Epstein……………………………….as American Financier and Registered Sex Offender
Virginia Roberts…………………………………………as Trafficked Teenager and Slave to the Monarchy

Act I. Scene I. The North Sea, near Aberdeen. The year is 2001. Our characters have been traveling on a yacht owned by Jeffrey Epstein for the past 6 weeks. It is the early morning and the sea is fair. The Scottish shoreline is to the west, just barely visible on the horizon. Prince Andrew has arisen from his royal bed beneath the deck to sit with his tea and satellite phone on the Poop deck.

Enter Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on the Poop deck.

PRINCE: Oh, ho! What a glorious day to be alive on the sea! Not just alive, I dare say, but teeming, positively teeming with radiant vigor only the cosmic philosopher Ra can deliver! Let his rays hit me like a mantra sung in the thralls of an opium induced utopia!

Enter Jeffrey Epstein, stumbling onto the Poop deck to sit in a white leather chair next to Prince Andrew. Both Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein are sitting on inordinately expensive leather couches, complete with satellite phone holders. The two gentlemen stare at the open sea.

EPSTEIN: (sighing) Why do we do it, Andrew?

PRINCE: To what are you referring, Jeffrey?

EPSTEIN: I mean the struggle. The struggle for the heights, the endless revisions and calculations. The long cold nights spent tucked away attempting to ascend ourselves, filling our minds with the thoughts of long dead philosophers. I’m talking about the Übermensch, a lengthy climb to God- nay the gods!

PRINCE: My dear Jeffrey, that’s what this trip is all about! You’re the one that convinced me a neo-spiritual awakening was needed more than ever! And you’ve been right! How are we to cleanly extrude our inner-complexities if you are in any degree of doubt?

EPSTEIN: I guess I’ve been so focused on finding some semblance of wholeness on our terra that I’ve lost sight of our initial endeavor. This was never about perfection! I refuse to make the same comically shrewd judgment of the world like Pangloss. Yes, the world may be flawed, fundamentally so, but that shouldn’t stop us from attempting to refine our minds. A healthy mind for the sake of itself.

PRINCE: (raising his tea cup) Cheers to that! Here’s to a life of no regrets. A life of inner-purity; a balance of hedonism and intellectual pursuits!

EPSTEIN: Cheers to that indeed! Andrew, you are my oldest and dearest friend, and you know that I would seek you reprise after reprise for advice, no matter how solemn or gay the exchange.

PRINCE: Yes, and I you! No book unread, no stone unturned! I am as dedicated as you in our quest for making sense of this malicious world.

EPSTEIN: Right. (pausing for a moment) The reason I’ve been so formal this morn stems entirely from my increasingly conflicting thoughts about the mademoiselle we have taking quarter in our spare bedroom beneath the deck.

PRINCE: The slave? What about her?

EPSTEIN: I suppose I’m having second thoughts about owning slaves. All these years, I’ve lied to everyone. People ask me my profession, and I feel conflicted. Am I a financier, or slave trader?

PRINCE: You’re both, Jeffrey. Be proud of that.

EPSTEIN: It just doesn’t feel sound anymore. This cultural atmosphere, the year 2001. I’m finally starting to feel again, Andrew.



PRINCE: (scoffing) How can we own slaves if you develop a conscious like that?

EPSTEIN: Maybe I don’t want to own slaves anymore!

PRINCE: (gasping) What?! Jeffrey, you can’t be serious! Take it back! You know that’s not true!

EPSTEIN: Okay, I still want to own slaves. What I said before was a tad batty….. I don’t want to be a sex slave trafficker anymore!

PRINCE: (even louder gasp) WHAT?! How will the royal family survive?

EPSTEIN: What the devil do you mean, survive? Your family has been controlling England for almost a hundred years. Do you not have other contacts? I’m sure your relatives can last a good period of time without the assistance of a sex slave!

PRINCE: I’m afraid I haven’t been completely honest with you, Jeffrey. I’m afraid I haven’t shown you what I truly am.

EPSTEIN: Andrew, I already know that you’re a morally corrupt, socially incompetent person. Anyone can see that. It’s practically a requirement for having royal blood.

PRINCE: There’s something about my blood that’s colder, more elusive and hidden than you could ever possibly imagine.

Prince Andrew leaps up from his ultra-comfy armchair to stand before Jeffrey, and with one swift motion pulls off a large chunk of skin from his face. Underneath the skin is a Komodo dragon looking-face, complete with an inordinately long skinny tongue and two sets of eyelids.

EPSTEIN: Andrew, I already knew you were a Reptilian.

PRINCE: (with a shocked expression on his lizard face) Huh? You did? What gave it away?

EPSTEIN: You told me. Remember last week when we caught that little gecko that had managed to climb aboard? I was about to throw it off the deck and you started hissing at me. And then you blurted out that you were a lizard too.


EPSTEIN: (Keanu Reeves) Woah. I’m presuming that your mother is the Lizard Queen? That certainly explains why all of the white slaves I’ve been trafficking go missing immediately after your family takes one look at them.

Enter Virginia onto the Poop deck, with a certain swag to her step that could only be described as ultra-sassy.

VIRGINIA: He’s not the Lizard King! He told me while we were having non-consensual sex a few days ago! Prince is the real Lizard King, not Andrew!

PRINCE: (hissing) Virginia! How did you escape your jail cell in the lower quarters?

VIRGINIA: You didn’t lock the cell.

PRINCE: (hissing) Hisssssssss.

EPSTEIN: Virginia, what do you mean, Prince? Are you saying there’s another?

VIRGINIA: Yes, I am. The Purple One. Joey Coco. Alexander Nevermind. The artist formerly known as Prince!

Suddenly, a maelstrom appears on the sea in front of the Poop deck. The swirling vortex turns a bright purple color, more of a fuchsia, and various guitar chords are heard emanating from the center. The sky darkens, and it begins to rain purple. A long “ohhhhhhhhhhhh!” is heard, and a blinding purple lightbeam appears to transport a celestial creature from the center of the maelstrom to the Poop deck.


VIRGINIA: (kneeling) Lord Prince, it is I, Virginia Roberts, a slave to the Windsor royal family! I am being mistreated by your brother, Prince Andrew!

PRINCE: It was a mistake, my brother! It won’t happen again! The rest of the family wasn’t blessed with your powers. We can’t survive solely on the pleasures of achieving artistic success! I just wanted what is best for mother!


PRINCE: No, brother, I can change! I’ll stop financing the white slave trafficking! I’ll stop making relationships with people who know a great deal about your previous names! I’ll stop listening to R&B music!


A fuchsia mist engulfs Prince Andrew, and with the blink of an eye Andrew’s skin turns from scaly to mushy white human.

PRINCE: No! What have you done?!

EPSTEIN: Now you’re just like the rest of us, Andrew. Mortal and weak, with a craving for pizza and hamburgers.

PRINCE: Hamburgers?! No!

VIRGINIA: I think you’ll find them quite tasty, at least compared to human flesh and blood.


A bolt of fuchsia lightning strikes Virginia and Prince Joey Coco, and they vanish into thin air. All that is left is smoldering blackened soot on the wood floor of the Poop deck.

EPSTEIN: Wow. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Who knew that the key to Prince’s youthful appearance was his Reptilian ancestry?

PRINCE: (sobbing) I’m ruined, Jeffrey. I’m done for. What could possibly be good about being a mortal?

EPSTEIN: Pizza. Pizza for breakfast.


Chris Sotraidis is a Reptilian, which would explain why he’s single and unable to find love.

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What did Karl Marx have to say? by Will Chaney

Communism. Socialism. Joseph Stalin. Planned economy. U.S.S.R. Marxism. Are you uncomfortable yet? For a long time in this country, an ideology has been built for the purpose of making you feel negative emotions while hearing these words. The most extreme lines include “communism is evil” and that it has “killed millions of innocent people.” The chic thing our parents often say is that “communism was defeated when the U.S.S.R. went down, I watched it on live television.” Then there’s the trendy intellectual-sounding truism that “communism works out great on paper, but it will never work because of human nature.” What do we learn from these quick “academic” discussions? Very little.

So let’s put our emotions to the side for a few minutes so we can get back to the O.G.: Karl Marx. In this article, I’m going to respond to Aaron Albrecht’s criticism that we need to abandon Marxism in order to unify the Left. Instead, I claim that the Left needs to organize its thought around Marxian theory so it can better understand our current economic crisis and look to the future of revolutionary change.

The criticisms that Aaron and many others often bring up are very legitimate and should be seriously considered. Communism-hating Americans often rightly point to leaders in faraway lands that claimed to embrace Marx while starving their people and violating human rights. The field of economics is designed to show how central planning, used in many “communist” countries, is much worse than the free market because of its “inefficiencies.” However, these critiques have very little bearing on Marxian theory, because:

  1. Marx never said the government should own everything,
  2. Marx never said we should abolish markets, and
  3. Marx never said that dictatorship is the ideal form of government.

It seems that there is a substantial gap between what Karl Marx actually wrote and what the leaders who took up his name did. What then did Marx have to say?

In the United States, we are told that Marx was the founder of communism and that his writings and thoughts were all about making a communist society. However, Marx didn’t care too much about speculating into the future; instead he spent his time examining the present. About 95% of what Marx has to say is about capitalism, especially the problems that other authors ignore. The most interesting aspect of Marx’s critique is that it examines fundamental problems in capitalism that are as relevant now as they were when his most important work, Capital, was published in 1867. Marx’s analysis attempts to be scientific, and his goal was to find general tendencies in the economy, comparable to how scientists look at the natural world. After more than twenty years of research, Marx was able to detail many problems that still occur today. However, the study of the economy is not as straightforward as the hard sciences. Instead of finding “laws” in capitalism, Marx found capitalism to produce “tendencies.”

Some these tendencies include: (1) extreme wealth inequality, (2) cycles of prosperity and then horrific crashes, (3) the replacement of workers by machines or cheaper workers, (4) nations going to war for the profits of a small number of citizens, and (5) the general rate of all business’s profits to fall over time.

Have these claims proved to be somewhat legitimate in the past 150 years? (1) 1% of Americans own 40% of our wealth, (2) “business cycles” as they are now called by bourgeois economists occur every 10 years or so, including the one we’re in now, (3) “Made in China” and continuous outsourcing have become staples of our economy, (4) there is substantial proof that we went to war in the Middle East for oil profits, and (5) the economic growth rate of the United States has decreased from 3.5% in the 1950s to 1.9% today. The facts seem to line up with some of Marx’s major points, and this gives his theory a lot of validity.

Now painting Marx as a stoned Nostradamus-like prophet babbling nonsense in some dirty cave certainly does sound dogmatic. However, Marx did not set out to create a new religion with himself as its soothsayer. It is indisputable that some “Marxists” like Stalin and Mao, did try to create religious-like ideologies, but the fact is that Marx’s serious writings are simply a critique of capitalism. Marxian theory is still today accepted as the most developed fundamental critique of capitalism. I now ask Aaron, and all of those who disregard Marx: why would the Left, charged with looking out for the little guy, correcting social ills, and fighting for the people want to distance themselves from such a useful and developed critique? We can use Marxian theory to find new explanations for many issues, including the events in Ferguson, why college tuition is so high, and why Kraft is throwing 275 Kirksville residents are out of a job this year.

That brings us to the last point: Many super smart people in the past 150 years have built on Marx’s original theory. They have proposed new ideas, debated each other and non-Marxists, and answered their critics. The result has been a very rich academic tradition. There is certainly a lot to talk about, with regards to the news, in our classrooms, and even with our nerdy friends at lunch. So why do our discussions about Marxism degrade into overly simplified axioms?

The purpose of any ideology is to make us accept the current state of affairs. The people in power want us to look at poverty, hunger, and war, and think, “that’s just the way things are.” It should not be surprising that capitalism’s greatest challenge is kept out of the mind of a capitalist society like the United States, even where free speech is treated like a golden calf.

Marxian theory is suppressed at most colleges and universities, including Truman. As an economics major, I will never be required to read one word of Capital. The only line about Marx in my introductory economics textbook (Principals of Modern Economics, page 22 if you have it) is a gross misquotation. If I talk to other economics majors about Marxian economics, they usually giggle as if it is a joke or look confused about something. Should we blame our fellow students, professors, or President Paino? Probably not. The suppression of Marxian theory is a greater problem that is not the fault of any one individual. Some professors, such as Dr. David Gillete, don’t teach Marxian theory in their classes, but are very open and accepting of different perspectives.

What we on the Left can do, and really have to do at this point in history, is to begin to educate ourselves. We must rid ourselves of the fear of couching our analysis in Marxian terms like “class,” “commodity fetishism,” and “exploitation.”

It is time to wake up, because capitalism certainly isn’t working out real well off paper.

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On and Off the Field by Sam Rogers

In a number of countries, you can guess someone’s general political views based on which soccer club they support. In the States, however, many an embarrassing uncle seems to have no political compass beyond loyalty to his favorite team. The year 2014 made it hard for those folks to stay out of touch as sports became more visibly political in the US than they had been in decades.

The International Olympic Committee claims to disapprove of using the games to make political statements. In the summer of 1968, for example, it expelled 200-meter medallists Tommie Smith and John Carlos when they saluted in solidarity with the Black liberation struggle back home in the US. The precedent did not scare the US delegation to February’s games in Sochi, which addressed Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” by turning gay people into propaganda. Much like Black runner Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin games, three gay athletes served as pride tokens in a rival’s territory for a government that treats them like second-class citizens.

L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling finished March Madness as an April asshole when girlfriend V. Stiviano recorded the leather sugar daddy scolding her for bringing Black men to “his” games after she posted pictures of herself with various Black athletes online. Eventually, the NBA banned Sterling from the league and imposed their maximum fine of $2.5 million, a drop in the bucket for the multibillionaire and longest-running franchise owner alive. Similar to the racist, misogynistic comments on the Rutgers women’s basketball team that Don Imus vomited into 2007 airwaves, the Sterling incident reminds us that the people who profit from and are entertained by the feats of Black athletes do not necessarily respect them as people.

Daniel Snyder, owner of the D.C. area’s NFL franchise, didn’t let March slip away without taking his share of the racism spotlight. Responding to pressure to change the franchise’s branding, currently based around a colonial slur, he created the “Original Americans Foundation”, a charity that also bears the team’s offensive name. The condescending PR ploy backfired as many Native American organizations pushing for the name change responded with appropriate disgust. On the brighter side, some fans of the Cleveland Indians baseball team started removing the offensive Chief Wahoo logo from their team gear, which became known as “de-chiefing”. The year breathed new life into a decades-long campaign against names and mascots, both professional and amateur, that use racist depictions of indigenous people as primitive and violent.

The NFL grabbed some positive headlines when Missouri’s own Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted into the league. Sam was initially drafted by the St. Louis Rams. He also spent some time on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. At the time of writing, he is a free agent. In addition to support from other players, Sam’s presence in the draft sparked humorously serious and often disappointing discussions of whether the NFL was “ready” for such a “change”.

Summer brought the FIFA World Cup live from Brazil to viewers around the globe. While record-breaking ratings showed gains in popularity among US audiences, mass demonstrations made it clear the event was much less popular in its host country. Crowds across Brazil protested corrupt and wasteful public spending on stadiums in a country where millions live in poverty and hunger. The brutal response involved São Paolo cops appearing at protests dressed like they had come from police-state dystopias like Robocop’s Detroit or contemporary St. Louis County. Preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have contributed to the discontent. (Surprisingly, no one demanded the US apologize for sending Pitbull.)

An unfortunate number of media outlets ignored the protests, even when they happened on the field itself. During the opening ceremonies, three Brazilian children of different ethnicities released doves. As the birds flew off, a Guaraní 13-year-old named Werá Jeguaka Mirim turned the theatrical image of racial harmony into an indictment of 21st-century colonialism with a banner demanding Brazil honor its earlier promises of recognizing tribal lands. Guess which part the sports stations left out.

Back in 2012, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was murdered by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, a wannabe cop with no law-enforcement qualifications beyond his habit of racial profiling and domestic abuse. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi organized a response, one of numerous instances in which Black LGBT women have worked hard to build mass movements and been erased from the story later. You know the movement as Black Lives Matter, and Rams fans brought its clear demand to the Edward Jones Dome on banners they displayed during a game. They also added “on and off the field”, highlighting how American sports moguls and their audiences treat Black athletes as consumable entertainment and not human beings.

St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch, son of a police officer, announced in Ǹovember that the state would not indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson to stand trial for killing Michael Brown. When records of indictment proceedings went public, legal professionals questioned whether McCulloch and his colleagues had conducted themselves appropriately in presenting relevant laws and testimony to the grand jury.

At their next game, some Rams players responded to the horrifying news by making the iconic “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture as they took to the field. Players on the D.C. team mentioned earlier had done the same in August. Jeff Roorda, “business manager” for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, responded with anger about athletes expressing opinions on the field even after it took federal intervention to force the publicly-employed members of his “union” to stop wearing pro-Darren Wilson bracelets while in uniform. While the franchise stopped short of endorsement, they supported the players and set the record straight when police chief Jon Belmar falsely claimed the Rams had “apologized”.

Towards the year’s end, NBA players took the court for warm-ups in shirts reading “I Can’t Breathe” in honor of Eric Garner, a Staten Island father choked to death by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. In California, Mendocino High students were banned from the Fort Bragg High School basketball tournament for wearing the shirts. A team was assembled of boys who accepted the ruling, but not enough of the girls would give up so easily. Visibility for politics in sports has continued rising into 2015, hopefully engaging fans in grassroots efforts to level the playing field.
Sam Rogers retired from his athletic career after an improbably successful T-ball game. He enjoys watching hockey and once played Madden at a friend’s house.

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Cuba: The End of the Embargo by Dr. Marc Becker

On December 17, U.S. president Barrack Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro dropped a diplomatic bombshell when they announced that they would normalize diplomatic relationships between the two countries. The announcement caught almost all observers off guard. It seemed that this leftover legacy of the cold war would never disappear.

The roots of the conflict date back to the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and its leader Fidel Castro’s determination that major powers would treat the small island country as an equal. Cuba had long suffered under the imperial thumb of colonial powers, first Spain and then after 1898 the United States. The revolution definitively broke the back of imperial control.

The U.S. government did not let Cuba leave quietly and peacefully to determine its own future. Instead, the United States proceeded to engage in terrorist activities, including plotting to kill the country’s leaders, to return the island to its imperial control. Relations between the two countries rapidly deteriorated, leading to a break in diplomacy and a United States blockade of the island.

For decades, the U.S. government declared that it would refuse to normalize relations with Cuba as long as Fidel Castro was in power. When Fidel stepped down and passed power to his brother Raúl, United States officials announced that they would not normalize relations as long as a Castro was in power. When Raúl announced plans to step aside and let a new generation continue the revolution, the truth came out: the United States would only normalize relations if Cuba returned to its imperial control.

Given that history, Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba while it still embraced socialist economic policies that privileged human needs over the rights of capital was completely unexpected and truly earth shattering.

Theoretically and under international law, countries conduct diplomatic relations on a level playing field. Granting of travel visas, for example, is supposed to be reciprocal. Of course, that rarely happens in real life. Large and powerful countries act at will against other countries they consider to be their subordinates.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson recently traveled to Havana to negotiate a thawing of relations. She emphasized the need to assure full diplomatic access as the United States interest section is upgraded to an embassy. Ignored in most press reports was that the United States government imposes much more onerous restrictions on Cuban diplomats in the United States, including those at the United Nations, than Cuba imposed on their counterparts in Havana.

In his State of the State address, Missouri governor Jay Nixon announced plans for a trade mission to Cuba. Agro industrial giants such as ADM, Cargill, and Missouri’s own Monsanto have long desired an opening of commercial relations with Cuba so that they can prey on the country. Cuba should reciprocate with a trade mission to Missouri, perhaps to encourage the United States to develop a sustainable, organic, post-petroleum agriculture that privileges human health and needs over corporate profits. The Possibility Alliance in La Plata would be a good partner.

As part of the thawing of relations, Obama demanded the release of 53 political prisoners in Cuba. Castro should have responded with a similar demand for the release of the 100 political prisoners currently held in the United States. Most prominent are Mumia Abu Jamal who was an organizer against police abuses in African-American communities, and American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier. Both have rotted for decades in dungeons in the United States after receiving unfair trials, and likely will die there unless international diplomatic pressure forces a chance in policy. More recently, Army Private Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, and should also be released.

The United States government presses Cuba to prioritize individual liberal liberties, including a U.S.-style electoral system. In response, Cuba should insist that the United States pay more attention to social rights, including providing universal health care to all of its residents.

Obama recognized that a fifty-year policy of regime change in Cuba never worked. Missouri senator Roy Blunt criticized Obama for changing policy on Cuba in the “waning days” of the Castro brothers. That is is the type of rhetoric that drove a failed United States policy since before the current president was born. Hopefully we are living in the waning days of politicians like Blunt, and we can now move toward a more logical, rational, and healthy foreign policy toward Cuba.

Marc Becker teaches Latin American history at Truman State University. He travels to Cuba on February 7 to document political changes in the aftermath of the normalization of relations with the United States, and will report on the trip in the next issue of The Monitor.

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Letter to the Editor from John Dobson

I refer to the Article “A DULCE DECORUM PARADOX”, written by my nephew, Lawrence (Larry) Iles, which I understand you have recently published.
I wish to put the record straight as follows:-
1) In the section of the Article relating to my father, JOHN DENNIS DOBSON, Mr Iles refers to a manuscript.  This manuscript was in fact composed by Commander Stephen King-Hall, then a navel lieutenant serving on HMS SOUTHAMPTON, a light cruiser, during the battle of Jutland.  This manuscript was given to my father, a writer (secretary) in the Royal Navy, to type up AFTER the Battle.
Some items included in the said paper were referred to in “A NORTH SEA DIARY” 1914-1918, written and later published by Stephen King-Hall.
2) I have a copy of my father’s World War 1 service record (ex National Archives) which clearly shows that he NEVER SERVED on HMS Southampton and therefore could not have composed the paper, with its detailed references to the battle.
3) The service record also proves that, at the time of the Jutland Battle, my father’s ship was HMS CRESCENT, a cruiser of the Edgar Class, which was a DEPOT ship based at Rosyth and which took NO PART in the Jutland conflict.
I have continually asserted in writing to Lawrence that my father merely typed up King-Hall’s paper and was certainly NOT the author of it.  My father made this clear to me, well before Lawrence was even born.  However, Mr Iles has consistently refused to accept my assurances on this.
I shall be grateful if you will make clear that the ‘manuscript’ references by Lawrence Iles were based on a ‘misunderstanding’ of the facts, as any basic historical research would have confirmed.
Yours truly
John L Dobson

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Wrongdaddy’s by Alex Wennerberg

After walking from another bar at 12:45 AM, Ben, with Sidney, Leela, Emily and Kyle, handed his driver’s license to an employee behind a black counter, then walked inside Wrongdaddy’s. Nearly every surface in the dimly lit bar was black and punctuated by bright, wildly traveling dots of colored light. The dance floor and elevated, smaller dance floor, was on the east side of the room, with a large area of no dancing separating them from the bar. The fast-moving bartenders wore brightly colored clothing that glowed under black lights. “Do you wanna go dance?” asked Emily. “One sec,” said Ben. The room was crowded and Ben had to touch people in order to get from most places to most other places. In the bathroom someone said, “If you remember what you did five minutes ago, you should go back to Dukum” to his friend and Ben gazed at graffiti. He heard muffled rap music bass loudly playing through the walls. He went back to the room and found Emily and two other people dancing in a vague circle on the dance floor. Music pulsed loudly filling the air like a large, invisible heart. He jumped up and down and held the back of his head with his right hand and closed his eyes. After an amount of time, he noticed that Emily wasn’t there anymore and that he didn’t know any of the probably dozens of people within his field of vision. He felt as though he had “lost himself” in the music in a manner that was maybe anxiety inducing or maybe good and felt his body tingle a little. He thought about how music was a physical thing, and he was a physical thing, which made them the same, because of waves, or something. He walked around the bar dancing more to the music and hopping until he saw Leela and Sidney, whom Ben was probably closer with than anyone else at the bar. He asked with open excitement, “How’s it going?” Sidney said, “This place is terrible.” Leela said something and Ben responded automatically. He sat down and looked at the people on the dance floor moving up and down approximately to the beat of the music. He watched a guy approach a girl from behind, grinding his hips on her before she looked from side to side and walked forward, then towards other people. One of Ben’s friends, Kyle, performed this maneuver, more tentatively and slightly arched over, on a few girls. Ben watched long haired people’s hair move anarchically as they danced. Periodically the smoke machine spat out a clumsy blob of smoke which expanded through the room, then disappeared. Ben saw Jennie on the elevated portion of the dance floor and texted her “I see u,” in response to a text she sent twenty minutes ago saying Wrongdaddy’s was lame. A few minutes later he found himself talking to Leela about the high school they both attended. “I was a huge nerd in high school” “Me too” “I didn’t even have my first kiss until I was in college. I just did school,” she said with an emotion Ben understood but couldn’t categorize. Ben said something in agreement while Leela said something else about high school. She talked fast and with a lot of hand movement. Ben looked at the lint on his clothing, which glowed under black light and made him very uncomfortable, or maybe excited. At some point they became separated and Ben found Emily. They went onto the elevated dance floor and said hi to Kyle, who replied in a loud monotone. Music filled the spaces in the conversation. Kyle said something, which Ben ignored. He found Jennie and said hi. She talked close into his right ear, so her cheek was close to his cheek and her hair, if she didn’t brush it back before leaning forward, which she didn’t usually, was in his face, tickling a little. A few people danced in his peripheral vision. Jennie said he should probably unfriend on Facebook her friend Austin, who was “an asshole” according to Leela, Sidney and Emily, and was posting on several of Jennie’s friends’ facebook walls asking about their penis size. Ben said he had already unfriended him earlier. “Good,” said Jennie. They talked a bit more until Ben ran into Emily, who asked if he wanted to do a shot. “Sure,” he said, and they started walking through people and around black tables made of metal grating towards the bar. While walking he thought about how a hundred years in the future or past, everyone in the room would be dead. Emily started getting out her wallet, and Ben said “No. It’s on me.” And handed her a $5 bill, reaching over a stranger, saying that she should buy “whatever she could” with that money. Ben stared at the sentence “I’m not slurring my words, I’m just talking in cursive” written on a mirror behind the bar and heard the music, which played like something falling over. Emily said she knew the bartender so she could get a pretty good deal, and they both drank pink-ish liquid which was very sweet while Ben watched Emily’s banter with the bartender. The walked a few feet towards Sindey and Leela, squeezed together around a crowd of people. While talking, they moved out of the way three or four times for employees trying to get into the bar before moving somewhere else. Ben started dancing and Leela danced very close to Ben, which severely confused him, especially as he stopped and stood still, rubbing and blinking his eyes. His vision was distorted and alien in a way that felt maybe comedic. Ben said hi to Jennie and they talked for a while. He asked Emily where Leela and Sidney went. “I think they went home,” she said. “Are you sure? What if they went to Geno’s” “No they were talking about going home.” They walked to the bar, where Jacey pointed at him and made a sound that communicated that she was going to buy him a $1 shot. He took the shot and failed to approximate with his hands how much he drank this night. “Did Leela and Sidney leave?” Ben asked Emily. “Yeah, I think so.” Music surrounded him like something soft. A few minutes later they left the bar, and Ben took Emily to his house, where she was going to stay in his roommate’s bed, where they talked, before Ben declared that he was going to walk to Sidney’s house to see Leela and them. He locked the front door and walked five blocks to Sidney’s house and entered without knocking. He said hi to Miranda, who was sober, on her laptop in a small chair, Leela, who was lying with her eyes closed on a loveseat-sized couch and Sidney, who was on top of her, with their arms and heads intertwined. Leela mumbled something and Sidney laughed. Sidney said something about how she felt good and pushed marijuana into a glass pipe with her thumb. Ben laid on the ground, his face into a pillow, watching and listening to whatever was on the TV, and his arms and legs spread out in a starfish-like manner. He read Kyle’s tweet about how he was sad that he felt sexually unattractive and hadn’t had sex in six months. Ben woke up two hours later, at 3:30 A.M., to a room empty except for Leela: curled up into a semi-fetal position, lying on the loveseat-chair, in a red cardigan, twenty-three years old and asleep. He stood up, used the bathroom, walked five blocks back to his house, poured himself a glass of water, texted Jennie and went to sleep.

Alex Wennerberg wants you to play on his Minecraft server

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Austerity in Higher Education by Will Chaney

We often hear the phrase “college is expensive,” stated as if student debt and absurd fees are natural laws of the universe. However, it hasn’t always been this way. In other countries, it’s not even this way now. As Sam Rodgers pointed out in last month’s edition of The Monitor, the United States is the only country in the world where the average college student graduates with $26,000 in debt. The price of college is increasing at a rate four times faster than inflation, a rate that has very little bearing on the consumer price index (which strongly influences your wages). To find out why students are charged so much for their golden ticket to the American Dream, I was granted an interview with David Rector, Truman’s Vice President of Administrative Finance. He has served Truman for 40 years and held his current position for 20 years.

I entered McClain Hall, but left the busy crowd of students and teachers behind as I ascended the staircase to the second floor, where Mr. Rector’s office is located. At the top of the stairs, I found only a maze of rooms. The front lobby was empty, and looked like that neglected storage room in everyone’s basement. After some clumsy wandering, I finally found his office and was able to start the interview. He would later explain why this was the case.

As a state university, where does Truman’s funding come from?

Mr. Rector: Now, the primary source is student fees. Historically, if you go way back, there was much more state support. What has happened to all state universities in the country, and Missouri is not unusual in that, state support just keeps going down. When I started here, 75% of the budget came from the state. Now it’s down to 44%. It’s really a shift of national philosophy that students and their families should pay the bill.

Governor Nixon and the media have recently made a big deal about $2 million dollars in additional “performance funding.” What exactly is “performance funding?”

Mr. Rector: (chuckles) Performance funding is a very complicated formula. The General Assembly granted Truman a 5% raise in funding, or $2 million. However, this funding can only be realized if five criteria are met, one for each percentage point. Fortunately, Truman met these requirements this year and will next year (points to a intricate looking diagram). However, some universities only meet three or four of the criteria, and don’t get the extra state funding every year. “Performance funding” is so complicated that many faculty members don’t even know it exists. Just looking at the chart makes your eyes go crooked. Only a few individuals know how it works, and the Department of Education is in the process of writing a document with all of the details.

What kinds of cost saving measures has Truman had to undertake in the past five years, since the beginning of the Recession?

College is a very labor-intensive activity, so we have had to cut around 8% of our workforce. Fortunately, we’ve not had to lay anyone off and have instead been able to offer early retirement incentives and remission (the practice of not replacing jobs where professors have retired). We have cut an equal number of faculty and staff jobs. (He motions out the door) There used to be a secretary out there, and one for the administrator in the office next door. You can even tell by looking at all the empty parking spaces.

A lot of universities are switching from full time professors to adjuncts to save money. Many adjuncts are paid much lower salaries than their full time tenure track counterparts, and often earn close to the poverty line despite overloaded workdays. However, Truman’s faculty has a very low percentage of adjunct professors, only 16%, compared to the national average of 48%. What keeps this number low, and why hire adjuncts at all?

Mr. Rector: Truman has a firm commitment to teaching and avoids using adjuncts as a cost saving measure. Many of our adjuncts are retired professors who want to teach part time, or fill-ins for emergency cases. There was a communications professor who quit the day before classes began, so an adjunct was able to smooth the transition.

 Is there ever discussion, at the university level or above, of funding Truman completely with state funds, as is done in countries like Germany and France?

Mr. Rector: We wish. You could probably find that discussion if you went way back to the 1950s, but now the question is “can we hold our own when the General Assembly is making appropriations?” One of my mentors when I got here, who served in the Korean War, used to talk about the “quarter system,” where tuition was only $25. When I was in college in 1974, the cost was only $250 per semester. If you look at some communities like La Plata, which still has scholarship funds that were set up around this time, the award is permanently fixed at $250. It would have paid for college then, but is hardly worth your time now.

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A Few Ways Not to Talk About Ferguson, Missouri by Ryan Moore

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope your turkeys and holiday shrubs bring merriment and holiday cheer. Also, when you get a break from buying/gifting/receiving things and appeasing the capitalist gods this season, you might find yourself talking with friends and family about the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Personally, I am not yet aware of a best practice for this conversation. I am, however, aware of some worst practices. The following are a few.


You know that headless techno-beast comprised of weird white dudes in masks spending inordinate amounts of time on the web that we call Anonymous? Feel free to discuss them all you wish, but know that this certainly does not add to the needed conversation about race in America nor does it count towards you actually discussing issues in Ferguson. Rest assured, if you are sitting behind a $1000+ rig with unfettered access to the internet and your favorite snack food, you probably have very little in common with the folks protesting in north St. Louis. Also note, that as fun as it is to ‘rage’ against the machine, and break shit online, it will NEVER be more constructive or helpful than creating safe and inclusive spaces online. Leave your ddos and cross-scripting code at home please.


Calling Ferguson solely a racial event is like calling a jellyfish an object. Its true, but not a very helpful nor definitive descriptor. The more important question is what do we know about this jellyfish? Will this jellyfish lead us to change? Why am I talking about this jellyfish still? Is it because talking about jellyfish is a much more comfortable conversation to have with myself than the one about race in America? Probably. If, like me, you’ve lived your American life on the Default setting(i.e. ‘white’), you may not feel qualified to talk about this subject authoritatively. You may just want everyone hug it out, to have some national Gilmore Girls watch-a-thon that where we can all feel witty and relationshippy. This probably won’t happen. We probably won’t hug it out. And I probably won’t be able to tell you what it’s like to be black in America. Just know that you cannot separate this issue from the serious poverty in North St. Louis. You cannot separate it the colossal failure that the Normandy School District has been in the past year or so(Ferguson area). You cannot separate it from the nature and structure of the police forces around this country, and the consequences of privatizing our prison system. And you can’t separate it from Jellyfish. Because like the jellyfish, we will all one day be translucent, raceless objects. Until that day, don’t generalize.

Personal Ideology
Ummm…this one I’m a bit iffy on, but be careful in this territory. Its fun to talk about controversial things where you feel safe. It may be more enlightening to venture into a new critical lens.

If you, yourself, are black
Congratulations! You may be the Monitor’s first reader of color!

Feminism/Cultural Studies
Just playin’. These are both acceptable frameworks for discussing Ferguson.

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Hofstadter’s Law and My Dried Grapes from 1988 by Chris Sotraidis

I never thought I would plead for nuisances in a logic system. All machines are inevitably built with latency from entrance to exit. I accept that I will not receive my hamburger right when I order it, and the waiting period becomes a ritualistic capsule of self-reflection. Nobody gets the hamburger immediately. I’d imagine most people just think about the food as they’re waiting. Talk about dull. The cashier hands me a stackable numbered plastic triangle and I find a place to park my delightful rear-end. But not always; sometimes they just make you stand there covered in apple fritters and guilt. My favorite is when multiple people are waiting, and everyone assumes a different, very temporary occupation. Our perception might as well be in slow-motion. A slow-motion ketchup dispension. A slow-motion fetching of the napkins. A slow-motion upchuck of said ketchup. Febreze instead of proper cleaner.

The chairs in fast-food restaurants are always wobbly. The cleanliness is a facade. The employees don’t want to be there. Ideally, nobody wants to be there. If I could materialize a Hardee’s Thickburger at my house, that place would be out of business fast. I’m unsure of what would happen to my body. Sometimes I fantasize about becoming obese, but I never act on it. Everything about the fast-food experience is so utterly spurious, and that somehow makes it even more fantastic. If I wanted to eat an uncooked onion in the dark, I would have stayed home. Everyone I’ve ever talked to has said to “keep onions on a lowly shelf”, which is precisely why I choose to refrigerate mine. I’m not about to play around with potatoes in the freezer, but onions are totally fine in the fridge. When you pull them out, they’re crispy and cold. Like apples.

Hardee’s doesn’t pretend to care about anything, and that’s why I like it. They know the target audience: people who have lost hope. Every 3 months Hardee’s gets a new special Thickburger, and every 3 months I go to Hardee’s to try it. The last 6 months have been relatively lackluster. In March of 2013, Hardee’s announced the Jim Beam Bourbon Thickburger. In March of 2013, I fell in love. I got my friends to try it. They loved it. I loved it. Everything in my life seemed perfect.

There was a major obstacle in the way of eating myself to death: money. Luckily, Hardee’s offers coupons every month via the newspaper and crier. At first, my own newspaper sufficed for my coupon needs, but I was a hungry bastard. Soon I was digging through the neighbor’s trash, and getting so desperate as to actually ask mild acquaintances if they had a copy of the latest paper.
ME – “Do you have it?”
CITIZEN – “What?”
ME – “The newspaper from last week.”
CITIZEN – “I think I still have it at home…why?”
ME – “Hardee’s has this special coupon offer and I’m addicted to the Jim Beam Bourbon                          Thickburgers.”
CITIZEN – “I guess I can bring it to next week’s cricket meeting. Is monday cool?”
ME – “No, that’s not going to work. I need one tonight. You need to give me your address.”
CITIZEN – “Oh, shit Chris. You’re serious?”
ME – “Did you drive here?”
CITIZEN – “Yes.”
ME – “Take me to your house so we can get the coupons.”

Fast forward a week. I wake up covered in thickburger bits. I walk into the kitchen, as well as a familiar smell. The sewer line in my basement is clogged, which consequently causes my furnace to shut off. I check the fuse box. I reset fuse #9, the furnace. As rapidly as I flick the fuse switch, I hear a voice, a tenor singing voice, coming from my flooded basement. I rush over and fling open the large wooden cellar door.

ME – “Who’s there?”
“F. F. Strings, my #1 humanoid! From the 1988 Hardee’s California Raisins limited edition PVC   figurine set!”
ME – “My goodness, you’ve grown! What news of Carl Jr.?”
F.F. Strings – “He wants you to work quicker. We can’t assemble the team before Christmas Eve                                     if it takes you two weeks recompile a single California Raisins character through                                  the sewer-line system.
ME – “I just need more coupons. That’s all I need! Tell him to send me more coupons!”
F.F. Strings – “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law. And coupons.”

Chris Sotraidis author is fraud, who doesn’t really understand physics or how polyvinyl chloride is mass produced.

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An Open Letter to William Chaney by Aaron Albrecht

I am writing to thank you for your previous contribution to the Monitor. “The Spirit of Communism in Ferguson” was an interesting article. I believe contributions such as yours perpetuate the ongoing social dialogue and advance the nascent social consciousness we share as students on campus. I am in support of your actions, and through them I see that you share my sentiment of the importance of confronting the grave problems facing our generation and the world. Such is our human social responsibility.

I find it disturbing that a number of students are politically apathetic and generally disengaged. Such political apathy and disengagement is not a moral failure on the part of the individual, nor is it on account of a poorly developed character. Rather, it is borne out of the circumstances in which we students find ourselves. On deciding to pursue degrees, we have made a conscious decision to improve our future standard of living and our life chances, and this a rational decision is motivated by interest. However, our common identity is temporary and transitory; after graduation we hope to enter the workforce and adopt professional identities. Because of the temporary and transitory nature of our common identity it is no wonder that a sense of social responsibility, community-investment, and political participation is lacking. This phenomenon occurs across college campuses broadly. Contributions like yours reverse the tide of apathy and inspire individuals to thicken the social fabric of our student community through contributing to the ongoing social dialogue and advancing a sense of social responsibility and participatory, critical engagement. For this reason I thank you.

I appreciate Alex Wernerberg and the others that produce the Monitor. They have opened up a space for critical, reflexive social dialogue, have created an outlet for human expression and a means for thickening the social fabric of our community. These social dialogues are the vehicles that move history. It is my hope that the present contribution furthers this dialogue in a progressive, constructive direction; the direction of a student body that is socially invested in our community and world, that is excited by democratic participation, and that is conscious of the influence we have as students, and the means we have to advance progressive social change.

It is clear that you have achieved a measure of social consciousness uncommon to much of the student body. I was impressed by your knowledge of Marxian analysis. Such an ability to understand, analyze, and communicate arguments through Marxian analysis is a feat in and of itself. These Marxian class and structural analyses are particularly fruitful given the growing levels of wealth and income inequality domestically, abroad, and internationally. As you correctly identified, issues like the global economic crisis, the global security crisis, the coming environmental catastrophe, poverty, hunger, unemployment, drug abuse, and crime are indeed connected to the structure of the world capitalist economic system and its influence on human nature, psychology, character, and health. Marxist theory and critical theory in general give us comprehensive analyses which make clear these systemic relationships connecting social problems to the structure of the institutions that make up society and direct its evolution. But I fear that couching such analyses in the language of marxism, which seems to be loaded with dogmatic and ideological baggage, may not advance our cause of unifying and inspiring the student body to discover the power we hold collectively. This is due primarily to its popular inaccessibility, but also because of the negative reaction it inspires in our peers. Such analyses may alienate the very public that we are trying to reach and inspire toward political participation and action.

While Marxian analysis may be less than perfect in advancing our goal to the degree that you, William, and I might hope, it indeed has constructive elements to it, and one I find particularly important. At the core of Marxian analysis and critical theory is the deeply felt democratic spirit of political and economic equality, social fraternity, and the value and capacity for the individual to participate politically and create progressive change. It is toward the constructive nature of this democratic spirit of individual participation and social responsibility that I hope to call your attention and toward which I hope to direct this social dialogue.

This democratic spirit is at the root of many different strands of progressive, critical thought and social movements. It is a spirit so old and deeply rooted in human nature that it is found manifest in the social relations and composition of early hunter/gatherer societies and religious communities. The value of the individual and his/her social responsibility is a pillar of Abrahamic religions, and its call has been heard from the mouths of the biblical prophets wandering the wilderness. Latin American Liberation Theology is an example of a political program derived from the radical social responsibility doctrine of Christianity. The influence of this spirit is found in the writings of the ancient Greece and Rome, the modern philosophy of political liberalism, and in the subsequent socio-political critique of social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists. In fact the normative themes of individual agency, political participation, social responsibility, and social, economic, and political equality are ones that unite the disparate parts of the progressive left: the anti-war movement, the movement against racism, the feminist movement, the LGBTQ movement, the indigenous peoples’ movement, the environmental movement, the movement for economic equality, and the labor movement, among others. It is interesting to note that this normatively charged spirit of democratic participation, social responsibility, and equality radiating from the depths of these movements is but one common characteristic.

The other characteristic common to the existence of these social movements is the causal relationship between the problems they are fighting with the the world capitalist economic system. The culpable face and bloody hands of Capitalism are shown upon the final analysis of the root causes of any one of these societal issues confronted today by our generation. To bring the emotionally and normatively charged language of an optimistic democratic ideal may beget more fruit than the heavy language of political marxism. It is toward a consideration of this approach that I hope to call your intellectual and moral energies. While Marxist analysis may lead to orthodoxy, intellectual elitism, alienation of the general public, fractiousness and fragmentation within the progressive left, and an equally charged reaction from the opposition, the utility of making primary the social democratic “spirit of democracy” is made evident in its “universality” as a social value, and its historical ability to unite the progressive left in a common effort toward the just reform of society.

The experience of the 1960s movement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is an illustrates this idea. SDS was born during the Cold War period of relative post-WWII prosperity of the 1950s and a cultural climate of conformity and suppression of critical dissent. This climate coexisted and fed into the climate of institutionalized racist bigotry. This was the time of the political disenfranchisement of blacks that led to the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). There was also an atmosphere of anti-communist McCarthyism, which effectively silenced dissent. Moreover, the Southern Democrats, or racist Dixiecrats, strangled progressive reform from within Congress and swept the progressive legs out from under the democratic party.

The SDS was born out of an effort to realign the democratic party toward progressive values, to combat the deep seated political apathy on college campuses, and to fight against social injustices such as Jim Crow, McCarthyism, the Cold War, the War in Viet Nam, and other issues of social, political, and economic inequality.

The Students for a Democratic Society released a political manifesto known as the Port Huron Statement during their years of political activism, civil disobedience, protests, and demonstrations. This statement effectively united the progressive front under the banner of participatory democracy and social responsibility. The authors of the statement, chief among them Tom Hayden, sought to stay away from fractious Marxian analysis and elected to use the vocabulary of the democratic spirit. It was on account of this conscious choice that the New Left of the 1960s became united and by which were able to achieve some measure of social reform. They are to be amended for their exercise of “prefigurative politics,” whereby in their every day actions and operation they worked to mold their society by consciously practicing the ideals they sought to achieve. In this manner, status hierarchies and elected leadership were done away with in favor of mass, direct participation. Although the progressive movement of the 60s achieved much, it did not go without criticism.

The Students for a Democratic Society movement has been criticised then and now by radicals for being pragmatic, instrumentalist, populist, and reformist. It was criticized for deviating from strict Marxian analysis. Its fracture and ultimate disintegration came about due to the radicalization of inner elements that channeled debate in a non-constructive direction, in the direction of Marxist analysis, a direction that fragmented the movement instead of unifying it.

Today we continue to be faced with the problems of inequality of wealth and power, racism, sexism, and all-pervasive global war. We continue to to find ourselves in a sea apathy among our peers. I believe we can learn powerful lessons from our parents’ generation, the generation of SDS. It is because of this belief that I write you today. I want to invite you personally, William, and the other socially conscious readers of the Monitor to come and join the newly founded chapter of Students for a Democratic Society at Truman, and to put this social dialogue into political practice. I call on you and the others, in the spirit of participatory democracy, fraternity, equality, and freedom, to find meaning and fulfilment through expending purposeful, social and intellectual energies toward the ongoing social dialogue and political praxis on our campus. Only through such efforts can we hope to to unite the progressive left under a common banner, to reverse the tides of political and social apathy, and to set a fire underneath the feet of the Power Elite. Let us come together, actively live the society we want to create, and contribute to meaningful personal and societal change. May they cower at the strength of a politically conscious and unified movement in the spirit of participatory democracy and social responsibility!

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Beehive Collective Interview by Sebastian Maldonado-Velez

Early this fall semester, a couple of representatives from Beehive Design Collective gave a presentation about their latest art project entitled Mesoamérica Resiste. They are an activist art collective based in Machias, ME with a goal of teaching others about current global problems through storytelling and copyright free art. By touring, or “cross-pollinating”, they spread the voices and stories that have been incorporated into mural-style drawings about issues in Central America. After coming up with the idea for their latest project they gathered a group of artists who visited several Central American countries and then started working on how they were going to present the stories told to them through a visual. The following interview was with Tyler Bee, one of the artists and “cross-pollinators” involved with this ten-year labor of love and activism.

Sebastian: How and when did you become involved with the Beehive? What projects has the collective taken up until now?

Tyler: I became involved in 2008, when folks were first starting “The True Cost of Coal” project, and they were recruiting new team members to take on this ambitious project. Graphics projects include “Free Trade,” “Plan Colombia,” “The True Cost of Coal,” and “Mesoamerica Resiste.” There are also numerous small graphics that individuals or small teams have created, but I usually don’t count those. Local projects mostly center around Machias Valley Grange Hall (there are other recent endeavors, still in nascent stage).

S: The “Mesoamerica Resiste” project quite a bit of Spanish in the textual storytelling. What led the artists to keep the language as a part of the project?

T: In my opinion, it’s not a lot at all. That image is like a political cartoon the size of a textbook, and there are probably not more than 50 words in total across both images. And, of course, people in Central America speak Spanish, it would be pretty insulting to collect all their stories and then display them in a way they cannot understand (i.e. English). These graphics are not meant solely to tell people in the US about what is happening in other parts of the world (though of course they do that very well), they are also intended to help people in front line communities tell their own stories and organize their communities around shared experiences.

S: Are there bilingual partners of the Beehive who help during the researching aspect of the projects in Central America or are there hired translators?

T: Of the 7-8 people who traveled through Central America, most of them were Spanish speakers, who translated for the 1-2 people who did not speak Spanish. Images are great for transcending language barriers – one member of the group who lives in Colombia sometimes works with indigenous peoples who don’t speak Spanish, but the posters and banners can communicate in spite of this.

S: The “Mesoamerica Resiste” and “Plan Mesoamerica” visuals are incredibly stunning because of the style and story-telling aspects. Once these projects were finished on the drawing board what was the next step?

T: They got scanned in on a giant scanner (roll-through, 48 inches wide!), and then there was a little pre-press color manipulation to make the extremely dense imagery read a little better, then they were printed on big banners and on thousands of posters too.

S: You mentioned that you are an artist and a “cross-pollinator” within the collective. What does that mean exactly? What other roles are there within the group?

T: Mostly there are illustration, travelling education, and local community organizing roles. Its all pretty loose, we have become more of a de-centralized network nowadays and individuals engage in different ways, different levels of commitment. There’s also lots of required tasks like book-keeping (that’s me), sending out packages when we get webstore orders and corresponding with printers (that used to be me), and other things associated with running a small business. Roles change over often, as people come and go. Most of us do this in a part-time fashion, volunteer, so we just do our best to juggle the many tasks among few people. In general there is a lot of variety and change in roles and tasks.

S: During the speech you said that you would be going to India soon to help a group of artists start a similar project for their country. Is this the next step the collective has in mind by spreading the “beehive mentality” to others from different cultures?

T: I traveled to India last summer, and brought beehive posters with me. Many people really loved them, and a couple of collaborative artist/activist groups got really excited, saying “We could do this!” and they invited me to return to try to facilitate the process of getting a collaborative story-telling graphic started. Its all the organization can do to just pay our bills month to month, but the *IDEA* is what is really special, and many people around the world have been inspired by it – we have bees all over the US, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, UK, Poland, and Australia.

S: Are there any ideas floating around the Beehive about what the next project or cause will be?

T: Too many to list, and I have no inkling about what folks will decide on. I would venture a guess that we are more likely to see multiple smaller graphics in the coming years, now that we have this growing decentralized network.

S: What can a college student who is interested in helping out or even joining the Beehive do to help (especially if they can’t donate money)?

T: Many people travel to Machias during the summer to meet the bees, work on local community service projects, and connect with other like-minded young activists. Keep an eye on the website, info about opportunities should be posted there as they come up.

For more about the Beehive Collective’s projects and process visit their website:

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Gustav Klimt’s “Life and Death” by Anna Selle

Being death is a lonely occupation, but I’m sure that’s something you’ve already assumed. Countless stories have been written to include human notions of death, but has anyone ever taken the time to get to know me? To sit down at a coffee shop for a mid-day chat, to discover that contrary to what one might expect, I don’t like my coffee black. In fact, I’d take it with cream and a little bit of sugar. The raw sugar that comes in the little brown packets, not any of that saccharine superficial nonsense. Or on occasion I’ll have a latte. I mean, does anyone ever me over to watch football with the gang on Sunday afternoon or to stop by book club? No. Well, not intentionally at least. Holidays are particularly uncomfortable for me. Sure, I have plenty of people to visit. But when I knock, I can hear them say inside, “Shit, death is here. And during the holidays, that fucker.” Unwelcome, mostly. Honestly, I can put up with the negativity most of the year, rarely being welcome with open arms or greeted like an old friend, sometimes tolerated, but mostly met with disgust and anger. Isolation is not ideal, but then again it’s all that I’ve known in my existence. But this period of time in western culture between Thanksgiving and the New Year celebrations is more difficult than the other months of the human calendar. My co-workers in other parts of the world don’t seem to feel the same seasonal bleakness, and I’ve often wondered why. I’ve been keeping notes, actually, at our all-staff meetings in January and throughout the month, like a human diary, I suppose. Chronicling each visit I have, what people say when they think I’m not still within earshot. I’ve gathered a little information from the innocuous small talk I can make with the souls I guide to whatever after life they signed themselves up for, or back into life again somewhere else in the world, if they so choose. And what I’ve gathered is this: for some, and that’s not to say everyone I serve, there’s this implied majestic property of this time of their year. Blame the popular media and depictions of winter cheer, but it’s meant to be a sacred and protected time, or at least that’s how so many humans see it. I’ve speculated as to whether or not this is something that my predecessors have noticed as well, but unfortunately I can’t exactly contact them. So instead, I just continue to observe these patterns in human behavior.

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If you know what I mean by Alex Wennerberg

Joe bit into his bar of expensive dark chocolate, turning it over in his hand and reading the label’s description of the experience he was meant to have. His black hood covered his hair, which was also black, curly, and tied back in a sloppy bun. Very loud electronic music filled his ears through headphone­s. His gray desk was cold and reminded him of sickness, maybe because of hospitals. The silent air, or something else, made his body feel stiff and out of place, like a blemish on the cheek of a national park tour guide: something to politely ignore.

While idly finishing his chocolate, Joe watched, through glasses, a YouTube video of the South World Trade Center tower on fire filmed from an apartment building by an old-sounding man and his wife. The old man said “oh my god.” His wife gasped and later gave a soft, short yelp. Bodies fell from the smoky steel, softly arched, like something held from a point by a thin string being cut.

Joe’s History of Science essay was due at 9:30 AM, which was in seven hours. His dormitory room was dark and the white light of his computer screen, now displaying a Microsoft Word document, reflected a soft mask onto his face, illuminating the soft flesh & shimmering off his wet, hard eyes. He fantasized about explaining his feelings regarding the YouTube video to Kat, imagining the empathic speech and acting it out with quick gestures and a rushed whisper, but he knew he couldn’t. Nor could he ever have. He walked to his bed, kneeled for a second, then collapsed onto the floral comforter with a thump. He writhed until he was tightly wound into a black dome under the cover of his blankets, facing downward. He could feel his fast heartbeat. He decided he felt good as long as he was not moving. It was better when he closed his eyes. Thin music played from his headphones across the room.

Joe jumped up and walked barefoot down three flights of stars into the November cold. He meant for the night sky to reassure him. He lay on his back in the middle of the cold street and looked. There were no cars, but he only thought about cars. He didn’t want to die; he wanted to see the stars. He noticed it was raining a little. A small drop stung his eye, which recoiled. He stood up and ran inside. Breathing heavily, he handed his ID to a student worker, saying thank you twice, and then again.

Back in his room, he thought about punching a hole in one of his walls, which he had never done before, and which seemed wild and exciting and without negative consequences. Instead he sat down at his desk, releasing his body from his feet. He thought about the probably five hundred people sleeping in his building, invisible behind closed doors, maybe struggling. He wrote the rest of his essay while watching a History Channel documentary about a maximum-security prison in Colorado on YouTube, the second season of Adventure Time, several episodes of a YouTube cooking show and a pirated copy of The Social Network. A lot else happened. It didn’t matter. Everything was OK in the end.

Alex Wennerberg is president of The Monitor, which is the publication you are currently reading.

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BRAD (and Julie’s) LIB

1. adjective _______________________________

2. body part ______________________________
3. other body part _______________________________
4. adjective _______________________________
5. past tense verb _______________________________
6. noun _______________________________
7. person’s name _______________________________
8. place _______________________________
9. noun _______________________________
10. adverb _______________________________
11. –ing verb _______________________________
12. noun _______________________________
13. verb _______________________________
14. same verb as #13 _______________________________
15. body part _______________________________
16. noun _______________________________
17. plural noun _______________________________
18. adverb _______________________________
19. noun _______________________________

There once lived a(n) __(1)__ girl who was __(2)__ over __(3)__ in love with a(n) __(4)__ boy. So the girl __(5)__ up a plan to win his __(6)__. She called __(7)__ to throw a party at __(8)__. At the party the __(9)__ was bumpin; everyone was __(10)__ dancing and __(11)__. Eventually, the girl worked up enough __(12)__ to __(13)__ the boy, but first she had to __(14)__ her best friend. This was a messy plan. In the moment, the boy hit his __(15)__ on a __(16)__ causing him to see __(17)__ around the girl’s face. From that moment on they were __(18)__ in __(19)__.

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Canada Invades Florida, Calls Americans Godless Whinny-sniffers by Nancy Raygun

When Canadian troops stepped onto the sandy beaches of Florida early Sunday morning, everyone’s fears became a reality.  In lieu of proper defenses, experts believe that Canada will overtake the entire state by the end of the week.  Many Americans have feared this kind of invasion for years now, claiming that former President Obama’s socialist policies would render the USA defenseless to such an attack.

According to Noam Chumpsky, former geologist-turned political agitator, this invasion was precipitated by President Obama’s 2013 budget plan which called for extreme cuts in defense in order to fund fully-inclusive universal healthcare. In a statement issued by Chumpsky on Sunday night, “Obama traded in our guns for health-insurance cards with his Obamacare scheme. When he drafted the budget—nay, probably ever since he seized the Presidential seat back in 2008—he was in cahoots with these thor-worshipping, snub-wubbling canucks.”

After the release of the 2013 budget, spearheaded by Obama and democrat majorities in both houses, most of the nation’s military dissolved. Weapons were sold to overseas parties in an effort to cut the national deficit while bankrolling the universal healthcare program. Most soldiers hired themselves out as mercenaries, many of whom made their way north of the border to Canada.

The Premiere of Canada, its Majesty Judith Buttler, the well-known feminist and war-mongerer has yet to publicly justify the invasion.  In the past, Buttler has published books which ridiculously purport that gender is merely a social construction based on internalized cultural performances. But recently, in a document procured on Wikileaks, Buttler repeatedly refers to Americans as “whinny-sniffers who wouldn’t know a true God from a crab-snatching wonker-doodle…All Hail the Mighty Thor.” Many feel that Buttler is completely out of touch with reality, citing irreducible differences between men and women.

Floridians, however, fear for their nationality and temperate climate. Chumpsky speculates that Buttler plans on detaching Florida from the USA, “probably with like dynamite or something,” and then towing it up to Canada with a fleet of golden, mechanical fish.  He presented the following diagram, saying he just happened to StumbleUpon the secret Canadian plot when questioned on its authenticity.


(Picture of a detached Florida being towed by Goldfish crackers with licorice ropes.   The top of the picture has child-like handwriting that says TOP SECRET PLAN.)


United States President Neil “Fat Neil” Messmore remains hopeful that the national reserves will be able to stave off the Canadians even though they have little more than sticks and stones. In a nationally televised press-conference last night, Fat Neil addressed the American people, attempting to quell fears. “As we speak, the top military officials are trying to plan a battle of the bulge style counter-offensive,  but they have very little to work with.  That willy-cricking Obamarama really screwed the pooch for us.  For those of you brave Floridians valiantly fighting for your lives, I pray that you won’t have to endure the harsh Canadian winters that drive these spooly-hoopkin gibber-gabbers to the shrines of Thor, forever thirsty for human blood. Fight the good fight dear patriots.”

Still, the question looming in everyone’s mind is why? Why has Buttler, who has managed to maintain a strong defense-force alongside universal healthcare programs in Canada, decided to take Florida?  Chumpsky further speculates that Florida, where it currently lays, appears too flaccid and that moving the penisula up the coast will give Buttler “the porkin-dandy hardon she always wanted.” Others say that she is merely appeasing Thor’s taste for the blood of septuagenarian Jews and their migrant Cuban pool-boys.

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Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be A Rapist” by Jeff Foxxxxworthy



If, while in a clear state of mind (i.e. you are able to walk balanced, construct logical sentences, can make choices independent of substances), you choose to have sex with someone in an unclear state of mind (i.e. is not able to walk balanced, cannot construct logical sentences, has become sick from substances, cannot make clear choices)………youuuuuuuuuu might be a rapist!

If, while in a clear state of mind, you have witnessed a friend or even a stranger take someone in an unclear state of mind alone into a room, dancing too close, fondling too heavily, and you did not advise them that said person may not at that time be able to make choices about their sex life………youuuuuuu might be a rape apologist!

If you think it is okay to have sex with a significant other while they are in an unclear state of mind, because they would presumably choose to have sex with you while they are in a clear state of mind…………….youuuuuuuu might be a rapist!

If you request a significant other or a romantic interest to have sex with you in order to show their affection, or persuade them that sex is the greatest way to show yours if they otherwise are unsure about engaging in a sexual relationship with you………youuuuuuu might be a perpetrator of sexual and mental abuse!

If you have ever uttered something along the lines of “she/he was asking for it from everyone at the party, I was just the one to give it to her/him”……..youuuuuuuuuu might be a rapist!

If you live with the mindset that the only way to have sex in college is by getting intoxicated at parties and finding someone else in an equal or more than intoxicated state…….youuuuuu might be perpetuating rape culture!

If you identify with internet articles such as’s “How to tell if a girl wants to fuck, just by what she’s wearing” or most of the sex advice on……………..youuuuuuuu might be perpetuating rape culture!
If you find yourself deeply offended by any of the statements above…….youuuuuu might be a rapist/rape apologist/perpetuator of rape culture!

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The Opinions of Lauren Kellett by Lauren Kellett

If You Like The Monitor, I Think You’ll Probably Like:

(These first three get their own paragraphs because they are off-campus organizations and they are not listed on Truman’s website)

The Aquadome: The closest thing you’ll find to Heaven in Kirksville, MO. From 2011 until last Spring, the Aquadome was a registered non-profit, entirely volunteer-run arts music and community venue located at 121 N Main. A few bad storms and a real leaky roof later, the Aquadome is still all of those things minus the building (if you happen to be strolling through the Square, you should check out the carnage inside the building – from a safe 20 feet away). This Fall, the Aquadome will exist as a community event planning organization, still hosting all of the events it usually does, but will rotate venues. Some events you can expect from the Aquadome are, first and foremost, sick concerts from Midwest artists, along with monthly open mic nights, poetry slams, potlucks, comedy shows, improv, the occasional film-viewing and even a karaoke night or two. The Aquadome exists to provide space for those who don’t have space to do whatever it is that makes life in Kirksville a little bit better. Have an idea for an event or want to get involved? Email

Rural Felicity: A fledgling in Kirksville’s art scene, Rural Felicity is on its way to becoming a non-profit community radio station – no commercials, no music that you hear a dozen times a day on other stations, just music that Kirksville wants to hear. The main genres KRFR 106.3 FM will cover are blues, classical, folk, independent Midwest bands, and whatever else the community wants to hear. To tide you over until the station goes live on-air (coming soon!), RF will be hosting a variety of events throughout the year, which may include anything from square dances and potlucks to concerts and jam sessions. Visit the Downtown Café (an awesome diner on the Square) every Saturday night this year for “Live Music Saturdays” to enjoy performances by local artists and eat really good food.

Tom Thumb Art Festival: This isn’t until Spring, but you should start getting hyped about it now. Tom Thumb is an independent art festival started in the 90s by two students who thought the University’s juried art shows were bullshit. For 19 years now, a lot of people agreed. So, in the spring, everyone and anyone is invited to submit absolutely anything that you believe is art – past submissions have included incredible prints, a painted refrigerator door, a cardboard bookshelf full of handmade books and CD covers, beautiful photography and more. To make the show an even bigger event, local musicians and performance artists put on a show throughout the entire day of the festival (sometimes it’s two days, sometimes it’s just one). Tom Thumb has had musicians, bellydancers, tarot readers, a fairy wedding, a fun house maze, comedians, poets, a dude get strapped to a chair with freezing water poured over him – a myriad of cool stuff.
All Other Cool Things on Campus You Should Check Out: TruSlam, UpChuckles, TAG, Notes from the Underground, IPAC, Art Gallery, Student Activities Board, Theater, PRISM, Stargazers, Amnesty International, Women’s Resource Center, Print Club, Beta Omega Beta, Prim Roses, TLS, APO, Windfall, the sports teams that are actually fun to watch (softball and basketball), Illusionz Danz Team, Bike Co-op, Free pancakes from Momentum on Reading Day Eve.

If You Like The Monitor, I Think You Probably Won’t Like:

Truman State Confessions: There are a type of people that frequent that page that make it have a certain culture, so it isn’t representative of all Truman students. That page does not summarize the entire opinion of many people who go to Truman. I’d guess maybe the same 100 people post on there and enjoy getting “Facebook famous” by commenting. It’s really bad.

Students For Life: Pros: They give out free cupcakes and balloons on the Quad. Cons: They don’t support women’s rights.

The Phrase “TTS”: Stands for “Typical Truman Student.” Negatively stereotypes all of campus. Glorifies overworking yourself in school. Traits that TTS’s are said to have include being asocial, extremely dedicated to school at the exclusion of everything else, except avoiding schoolwork. Truman can be difficult, but the attitude that you should feel stressed and obsessed with schoolwork all the time is not a healthy response. College isn’t just about getting a degree, it’s about developing and discovering who you are as a person and “TTS” culture discourages people from participating in things outside of your degree.

My Thoughts Overall On Being Involved:

To freshman: Regardless of where your interests lie, you should really get involved with at least one organization at Truman or in Kirksville. I’ve made some of my best friends through the organizations I listed above, and I bet you could too. Finding like-minded people at college is crucial to your mental health, imo. Join something that you’re passionate about, where others share that passion. However, don’t join something simply to “make friends” — do some trial runs, join a bunch of stuff, drop out if you hate it. I participated in every media outlet at Truman my first two years here, and finally figured out that none of them were right for me, leading me to The Aquadome, the best organization I’ve ever been a part of. Don’t be afraid of quiting something if you don’t like it. This is the time to figure out what you really care about, and it’s okay if it has nothing to do with your major. Don’t just take classes — find a passion.

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Tinder by Alex Wennerberg

A cold blanket covered Chris’s body in a small corner of a large room. Gripping the warm rubber casing of his phone, he opened Tinder. The app presented a picture of a girl with long hair and high heels smiling in a college dorm common room, her hands around another girl, also smiling. Chris stared at the picture. He swiped it to the right side of the screen. Below it was a picture of a girl with shoulder-length brown hair alone in a room smiling underneath an Instagram filter. He swiped it to the left side of the screen. He swiped the next picture to the left side of the screen. He swiped the next picture to the right side of the screen, etc. He didn’t think any words.

At 12:42 PM Chris looked at the time on his phone and resolved with conviction that he would continue swiping pictures on Tinder until 1 PM. He quickly flicked images off the right side of the screen, holding the phone with two hands and alternating the index finger he used to swipe. Eventually he slowed down, focusing on the images, reading the profile descriptions and reacting. He started to feel an aversion which coalesced into the thought that all the profiles had an oppressive blandness to them – the characteristics of the girls in the photographs could be fully captured by objective, already completely-defined categories: A certain weight. Hair of a length and color. Likes soccer, likes swimming. Likes to hunt, Harry Potter, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad, John Green, partying, “down to earth” guys, “adventure.” Goes to Mizzou, goes to Wash U, UMSL, SLU, Truman State. Reinforced with each profile was the despotic sensation that all human beings are hopelessly dull, that all emotion is trite (“loves [family/Christ/my dog]”) and that his ability to feel anything other than alienation around anyone outside of a small group of people he already knew at his university and maybe five people he followed on Twitter, was impossible, and if he ever lost these people, e.g. through graduating university or Twitter gradually becoming obsolete, he would be more helplessly alone than he had ever been in his life. Chris went to the settings for the app and checked the box for seeing male profiles as well, then went back and swiped through the photos more quickly.

Chris dropped his phone to the left of his body and stared at nothing. He felt frustration at his inability to react with a sadness that was constructive or fulfilling. Instead it manifested itself as a kind of paralysis. He thought “I am lonely” with sarcastic intensity. He thought ambivalently about Emily, Sofie and Jason. He thought about thinking about something, thought about he was thinking about that thing, etc. until he felt confused and anxious and sweaty. He made sounds to himself, then opened Tinder again. Many of the messages he had received called him cute or hot. A few others directly or indirectly propositioned him for sex.

Most of the messages Chris received were variations on “hi” and “what’s up” from guys. He felt almost uncontrollable anger. He knew that, if he responded “Not much how about you?” the boys would respond with something equally banal. He felt uninvested in expending energy on people who seemed, to him, inhuman and dull. He made a joke to a girl who took a picture of herself in a mirror about how much he liked her shirt with “backwards letters,” which she didn’t get. A guy with brown hair and glasses asked him what he wrote, referring to how he mentioned that he “liked to write” in his profile and Chris responded sarcastically. Someone else spelled out his words fully, with standard capitalization: “Hello, how are you on this fine evening? : )” to which Chris mocked by responding in a similar tone.

Chris felt embarrassment that the things he had just thought and done were selfish and cruel, and, as if reading them from a novel about a dysfunctional main character, thought about them as the clear, easily-solvable problem that was the cause of the main character’s vague and uncontrollable angst. Chris felt that if he were to try and explain why the things he had just thought and done were selfish and cruel, his explanation would make the feeling he was describing sound like “somewhat annoyed.”

At 1:21 PM Chris rolled over in his bed, refreshed his twitter feed, got up and walked into his kitchen. He started boiling a pot of water while thinking the tune to Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th.” Seven minutes later he grabbed the opened box of angel hair pasta and put a handful into the boiling water. Chris learned recently that angel hair pasta was not the same as spaghetti, which is what he meant to buy at Hy-Vee two weeks ago.

In Kids, there is a scene in the middle of the film in which a teenage girl who just discovered she carried HIV was in a taxi going home, crying, while the Taxi cab driver, older and with a European accent, noticing that she was distressed, reassuringly told her, after saying she was very pretty, that if she can’t figure out how to make herself happy, just don’t think. Forget about your thoughts, block it out. The girl with HIV smiled momentarily and started crying less, and the scene changed. Chris paused the film and cried after watching this scene and thought about it every day, usually multiple times each day, during finals week, month after he had seen it.

Bubbles of boiling water pushed their way through the pasta and burst through the surface, steaming Chris’s cheeks and impressing upon them a distant redness. He grabbed his roommate’s bright orange plastic spoon with a smiling face carved out of it. He held it in front of his head for a second, unfocused his eyes and matched the spoon’s expression.

Alex Wennerberg is a junior physics major. His twitter is @w3nnerberg.

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Don’t Fight Don’t Win Don’t Surrender by Marisa Gearin

I am driving home from a dentist’s appointment. No cavities!. I turn on the radio and hear the opening notes of Taylor Swift’s new song.

She has had another breakup. This is nothing out of the ordinary. But when she begins to sing, I realize something is wrong. Her voice is different. Low. A little like Morgan Freeman.

I listen to the whole song, waiting to see if the radio host will make a comment about the change in Taylor’s voice. He doesn’t.

I get home and turn on the news. They aren’t talking about Taylor Swift. I check the internet. Nothing there either. Confused and a little nervous, I decide to call my brother. He answers the phone by saying, “Hello.”

“Have you heard Taylor Swift’s new song?” I ask.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Go listen to it,” I tell him.

“Okay.” I can hear the song, muffled, from the other end.

“What do you think?”

“Sounds pretty much just like her others,” he says.

“What! No!” I shout. “It’s totally different!”

He pauses. “I’ll get you her new album for your birthday,” he says, and hangs up.

“That’s not what I meant,” I say, and throw the phone on the couch.

I know now what I must do. I must ask Taylor herself. So I buy a ticket—a front-row ticket—to her concert the next night. I sit and wait through the first three songs. Before the fourth, she makes a generic comment about how pleased she is to be in this city. Her voice is still eerily deep. I choose this moment to act. I clamber onto the stage.

“Taylor, I need to speak with you,” I say.

“Yes, alright,” she says, and gestures for me to follow her backstage. The fans have stopped cheering, confused.

“Taylor Swift, I think something strange has happened to you.”

She nods sagely, and we stop in front of her dressing-room door. “You’re right. But I’m afraid I can’t explain it to you,” she says sadly. “I have to throw you in this abyss.” She opens the dressing-room door and I see the bottomless pit.

“Okay,” I say.

She picks me up and heaves me over the edge.

I scream—one sustained note. I am not afraid. All is clear.

Marisa Gearin was born at 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5th, 1995 at Lawrence General Hospital. Weight: 8 lbs 2 oz. Length: 19 inches.

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