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The Epistle Volume 39, Issue 1

September 2011

Staff

French trip

Editors-in-Chief Dylan Gibson Kyle Grace Mills

by Patrick Schulte Mark Twain declared once that “Travel is fatal to bigotry, prejudice and narrow-mindedness. And many of our people are in sore need of it because of that.” St. Paul’s is fostering Mr. Twain’s view. Every summer, Mrs. Bramlett and Mrs. Sigler chaperone a gaggle of high schoolers on a tour through a European country. This summer the destination was la belle France, home to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and so much more. Mrs. Wanda Sigler was kind enough to share her thoughts on the French trip with The Epistle. The trip began by flying out of Mobile to Atlanta, and then on to Par-is. In Paris the thirty-three member group toured many of the famous museums and had a dinner on the Eiffel Tower. The next stop was the walled medieval town of St. Malo. From there, Normandy beckoned with its D-Day beaches and museums. The group saw the famous Bay-

Staff Reporters Hannah Fruh Danielle Williamson Patrick Schulte

Journalism Adviser Dr. Laurie Shorter

EDITORIALS

SPREAD

FEATURES

Club day

SPORTS

St. Paul’s Episcopal School 161 Dogwood Lane Mobile, AL 36608 Phone: (251) 342-6700 Fax: (251) 342-1844 Email: Lshorter@stpaulsmobile.net Website: www.stpaulsmobile.net The Epistle is published by the Journalism students of St. Paul’s Episcopal School. The opinions and views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of our administration, the advisor or all members of The Epistle staff.

by Hannah Fruh Thanks to all the club leaders and sponsors who were involved, Club day was a success again this year. There are many great returning clubs as well as some exciting new clubs. I am looking forward to the new Book Club, led by Jeannie Marshall and Caroline Hall, with Mrs. Wanda Sigler as sponsor. It will be a lot of fun to read books that I have never heard of before. Mrs. Sigler has a ton of suggestions and is open for your suggestions too. Reading is a lot of fun when you have the right book. The KFC Club Knitting for Chemo (not Kentucky Fried Chicken) - will meet and teach the members how to knit. The sponsor is Mrs. Lerner, who is a knitting expert. After the members learn, they will meet a few times and knit together. They will be giving knitted hats to people who have gone through chemotherapy. It is reward-

eux Tapestry depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The group toured chateaus and ended their trip with a nighttime tour on the River Seine back in Paris. Mrs. Sigler graciously shared some of her personal feelings on the annual summer trip with us.

She has been on nearly every trip since the first one in 1997. She always enjoys seeing new things on trips, although she loves to see some things again and again, such as the Bayeux Tapestry. She is looking forward to seeing the cathedral in Toledo, Spain with its amazing, life-sized silver statues of cardinals on the altar. Her favorite

ing to give away these hats to people who have been going through such a tough time. Danielle Williamson, who founded the club, has only been knitting for about a year. But it didn’t take her long to get the hang of it. You should join in on the fun, and knit with your own creative designs. Knit for a cause. KFC; it’s “Finger knittin’ good!”

The Ultimate Frisbee Club is now official, with Mr. John Brigham as the sponsor. This club is so fly. This year they will even have an

destination is Greece, especially touring different islands, but the political unrest kept the summer trip away. Mrs. Sigler believes the student trip goes a long way in expanding horizons and changing how the world is seen (and it’s fun to boot). She proclaims that “I have been fortunate in my lifetime to travel much of the globe and will probably spend the last dollar I have on a good trip somewhere.” Next year the trip is on to somewhere new – Spain. The trip will go to Madrid, Barcelona, and Toledo. The summer trip is a tradition that will continue for years to come, opening Europe to students with their friends. This great experience will change lives.

awesome T-shirt. On the Facebook page they will announce days that they will play “Ultimate.” This club is all fun and games! Even if you don’t know how to play (like me) you should come out and learn. And yes, this year there are girls in the club, so the boys have somebody to show off to. Film Club is also new. They watch movies after school that students have suggested. This is where you will find your favorite movies. Take a break and watch a movie. They will announce days that they will meet and watch movies. If you haven’t heard about these clubs until now…don’t fret. Listen to any announcements about club meetings and come. You will be happily accepted into any club.

Picture courtesy of knotsoflove.org


Editorials 2 Letter from the editor aftermath of 9/11. I love Patrick by Kyle Grace Mills

Halfway through the summer (somewhere between polishing off a tub of whipped cream and the Lord of the Rings marathon) I remembered that come August, I would take hold of the editor title. Panic hit my bloodstream like the fat from the whipped cream hit my body: slowly, but surely. There is no longer a “Micah fairy” to make all the scary newspaper problems go away. Even worse, there is now a “Kyle Grace fairy” and a “Dylan fairy.” Once I suppressed the immature giggles inspired by the image of Dylan as a fairy, I began to think. The wheels were turning in a counter-clockwise direction. I thought back to everything that Micah Maguire, our revered previous editor, had taught Dylan and me. And while there are numerous pearls of wisdom I could rave about (see Tastespotting.com) I find one to be the most profound: “Love your underlings.” “Love your underlings” may not be found in the Bible, but it can be found in leadership manuals everywhere. I would do Micah proud as I happen to love each and every one of my staff. I love Hannah Fruh, who contributes an insightful article on the

Schulte, who delved into the topic of the e-reader battle. I love the newbie, Danielle Williamson, whose zeal could be described as nerdy. Or, as I describe it, hot. I even love Dylan Gibson, who stole half of my editorship. They may be beneath me in title (alas, with the exception of Dylan), but they are not beneath my writing skill. I’m incredibly impressed with the new and refined talent of my Epistle staff and hope you find their articles as riveting as I did. Yours, Kyle Grace Mills

Letter from the editor by Dylan Gibson Here we go, boys and girls. This journalistic vessel of truth and light is under new command, and I’ll be your (co)captain as we traverse the stormy seas of misinformation and corruption that plague the mainstream media. It is my great privilege to (co)commandeer this ship. As commander, I find myself taking on this arduous task of writing letters to the peons. So let’s revamp that beautiful fantasy of an extended metaphor. This journalistic vessel is more of a floatie. The stormy sea of misinformation and corruption is an inflatable kiddie-pool. I’m the obnoxious little punk at the neighbors’ cook-out who hogs the water guns and makes farting sounds with a floatie-noodle. Why? Because girls dig that kind of humor and originality, man. You might have noted that I’m not Micah McGuire. Some of you probably casually opened your paper, saw my smiling face, and spat scalding coffee all over the paper. Then you realized it was just my face getting you all hot and bothered. In short, I just want to apologize for my gorgeous face. In fact, Micah has graduated high school and gone off to wherever it is you go after you graduate high school. So when some little freshman snot calls me

a conceited jerk and asks who died and made me king, I deftly reply, “Micah did!” Then I spend the rest of the day biting my nails because of my underlying self-image issues, which my therapist believes to be the sad result of overparenting, my small handwriting, and a pathological fear of wristwatches and striped shirts. I wish you all the best as we enter another glorious year under the thumb of education and reason, all that trash they make a big deal out of in these parts. Onward, comrades. Cheers, Viscount D.S. Gibson, Esq.

Kris Kobach: The man behind HB 56 by Dylan Gibson At first glance, the bill appears no more than a standard piece of legislation. But the “Beason-Hammon Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” also referred to as HB 56, puts the state of Alabama ahead of Arizona as the most hard-line state in the nation in terms of illegal immigration. The state politicians who sponsored it, as well as the obscure figure who drafted much of it, may be securing Alabama as a lynchpin for proponents of drastic immigration reform throughout the nation. The bill is named for its two primary sponsors, Senator Scott Beason and Representative Micky Hammon. Beason, a Republican senator from Alabama’s 17th district, gained widespread notoriety this past summer after becoming tied up in an FBI investigation of casinos’ corrupt political ties, during which he referred to black gamblers as “aborigines” while actively taping the conversation for the prosecution. Representative Hammon, a trained electrician by trade, is the chair of Alabama’s house committee on Homeland Security and Immigration. The bill’s sponsors, however, played only a minor role in drafting the bill itself. The man who did much of the drafting for HB 56 is tied to an agenda that expands far beyond Alabama’s borders and hails from the very fringes of America’s radical right. Kris Kobach, at first glance, occupies a fairly minor role in the nation’s state of affairs. Kobach occupies the relatively obscure position of Secretary of State in Kansas. Yet

Kris Kobach is revered by extreme right-wing activists and has already earned the dubious honor of a full profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s online compendium of nativist hate group members and sympathizers. From his office in Kansas, pleasantly situated in the American heartland and far from the Mexican border, Kobach is out to revamp the United States’ handling of illegal immigration, state by state. Kris Kobach was born to an affluent Wisconsin family and attended Harvard University where he spearheaded the Harvard Republican Club. He was profoundly influenced by Samuel Huntington, a professor of political science at Harvard at the time. Huntington had already achieved notoriety for his numerous books on the “clash of civilizations” he foresaw occurring in the post-Cold War global landscape, pitting ethnic group against ethnic group. In addition, Huntington’s later work singled out the considerable Latino presence in the United States, believing that allowing Hispanics to settle in large numbers would threaten the very fabric of American society. Kobach graduated at the top of his class and received the Harvard prize for best student thesis with Huntington’s aid. He went on to receive his doctorate in political science from Oxford. Kobach received a prestigious White House fellowship in 2001 and worked under then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Kobach was instrumental in drafting the National

Security Entry-Exit Registration System, with Ashcroft consulting him on the matter even though Kobach’s fellowship had been expired for well over a year. This system, abbreviated NSEERS, allowed for the profiling of Muslims and those of Middle Eastern descent at airport security checkpoints.

It was around this time that Kobach became intimately involved with the legislation that would become Arizona’s controversial antiimmigration law, SB 1070.

Continued on pg.3


Kris Kobach, continued

Meanwhile, Kobach was also engaged in a heated battle for a congressional seat in Kansas’s 3rd district in the 2004 elections. Alleged ties to – and campaign contributions from – white supremacist groups, although never verified, cemented Kobach’s defeat. Shortly after the 2004 elections Kobach rose to prominence in a field far from the dayto-day affairs of Kansas; that same year, Kobach became a senior counsel and attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), a branch of the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR). The institute has since become notorious for intense and aggressive lobbying as well as accusations of hatemongering from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Kobach’s relentless fight for more stringent illegal immigration laws reaches not just to Alabama, but across the nation. He has filed suit against the states of Kansas and California in the past for allowing illegal immigrants instate college tuition. Both suits were dismissed in short order. As of 2010, Kobach has also

filed suit against the state of Nebraska on similar grounds. Lawsuits notwithstanding, Kobach was instrumental in working for and helping to draft Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial immigration law that polarized the state and set the stage for Alabama’s own law, the latest incarnation of legislation that Kobach and IRLI would like to see implemented in every state in the union. HB 56, much as news outlets have reported in past months, is Arizona’s law taken to a new level. Ostensibly structured to aid the federal government in its lax handling of illegal immigration, HB 56 takes measures to track and deport illegal immigrants using any means at the state government’s disposal. Employers, the public school system and police forces are expected to check the papers of – and, if given sufficient reason to doubt, detain – anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally. The latest estimates of Alabama’s illegal immigrant population border on 120,000, just over 2.5% of the state’s population. By comparison, Ari-

Editorial 3

zona’s illegal immigrant population is estimated to encompass about 8% of the state’s total population. Whether Kobach and his political allies are addressing a potentially serious issue for the state or simply flexing political muscle is difficult to discern. By no means is Kris Kobach the sole perpetrator of some dastardly scheme to spread FAIR’s agenda across the nation. If he is guilty of anything, it is simply possessing the same idealistic and uncompromising drive most office-seekers use to their advantage come election season. He may not prophesy the racial-warfare nightmare scenario his mentor Samuel Huntington saw in America’s future, and to accuse him of such would be to succumb to the same eagerness to demonize that afflicts both the left and right. Only time will tell if Kobach’s actions are merely the pet projects of an up-and-coming GOP mainstay or indicative of a trend that could remold the political landscape for both Alabama and the United States. Picture courtesy of soundstrike.info

Post 9/11

by Hannah Fruh September 11, 2001, the day the world trade center was attacked, has changed the way we live. We are now fearful of attacks on our own soil and no longer think of war as something far off. It has brought stress into our lives as well as inconvenience and increased security. There have been things we each have had to change in our lives even if we haven’t realized it. We changed our perspective on warfare, and we have been more aware of current events. Ten years after the traumatic 9/11 attacks occurred, scientists say the American psyche is much better off than expected. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t found damages as well. In the past few years we have learned more about the cause of the rise of health issues. Many psychological health issues are directly related to 9/11. The people who had friends or family who died on that dreadful day are the ones who were hit with emotional devastation the hardest, as scientists expected. However, recently they have found that not only were the Americans that were actually there affected, but also many Americans that were far off watching the disaster on television. According to the Social Science and Medicine magazine, watching the disaster happen live on television contributed to a rise in stress-related illnesses. A survey and study of two-thousand adults indicated that 4.5% saw the attack happen, and 65% watched it on television. There was a 28% rise in stress-related health issues for the people who watched the attack live on television and a 30% rise for people directly affected by living in New York. It’s possible that those people watching it on live television suffer from the increased health issues because at the time no one knew exactly what was going on. Also the live television watchers were probably stressed with the thoughts of, “What will happen next?” or “Is there another target?” This raises questions. Is recording disaster live on television the best thing for American psyche? When turning on the news and all that is reported is calamity, is it upsetting? If you’re in a stressful time in your life, monitor the news that you are watching. You

don’t have to watch news channels that have calamity reports every five minutes. Get a break from stress! Many people have had to re-think the way we do things in the “post 9/11 era,” because national security and airport security have tightened their belts. There have been numerous controversies regarding airport security: invasive “pat downs,” choosing whether or not screw-drivers or small scissors should be allowed in bags, or even the harmful X-ray scanners. It is a never-ending controversy. No one wants a terrorist to hijack a plane but they don’t want huge increases in security either.

synagogues were from the crusades. It was sent as a test. Who knows what would have happened if we weren’t warned. It was a close call, but hopefully it made security programs really focus more on bombs sent in packages as well. This was an upgrade from the previous underwear bomber. He was a rich Nigerian man, and that is how he made it through security without being scanned. The underwear was filled with the same explosive PETN. He found out a little too late that the PETN requires another explosion to detonate. Later, the officials said the explosive wouldn’t have been enough to take down the plane. It would have killed the terrorist, the man sitting next to him, and caused a bit of damage to plane. This makes me wonder whether this was more of a test, like the package bomb, rather than a plan to kill certain people on the plane. The terrorists would have thought it through more; they had to have known the PETN wouldn’t explode. All of this to say, there has been much fear of terrorist warfare since 9/11. That’s exactly what they want. I am all for the increased security. I even think we should be more careful with packages and people coming from foreign nations. Most countries “profile” people coming from foreign nations, which we absolutely can’t do. I think we should. The changes since 9/11 have taken some of our freedoms away. Think about the freedom of being innocent until proven guilty. When you walk into an airport you give up that freedom. They have to be suspicious of everyone, even your sweet, innocent grandma! There are many other freedoms we have given up to protect national security; I won’t get into all that. The questions I’m posing are: is it all worth it? Do you feel safer with all of this increased security? It has been ten years since 9/11. It has affected our lives in ways that we may never know. We can’t change it, but we can protect what we have today.

We can’t have it all, my friends, sorry to say. Ever since 9/11 we have been in such a tailspin of over-scrutiny on little things that many times it leads to larger things getting overlooked (ironic?). For example last year’s package bombs were overlooked. They were sent by Al-Qaeda to test out the security of packages. Obviously they passed the test. The packages were sent by UPS, and the only reason the U.S found out was because of suspicions from Saudia Arabia’s security chief. The terrorists were able to track the package bombs by the handy-dandy web hourly tracker provided by UPS. The bombs were expertly hidden in printer cartridges. The printer cartridges were filled with PETN an explosive that will only detonate with another explosion, so they used a cell phone trigger. The packages Picture courtesy of nationalgeographic.com were sent to two outdated synagogues in Chicago. That is how we knew that the packages weren’t meant to last that long. The outdated


4 Spread Potterpression

by Danielle Williamson On July 14, peculiar sightings were reported across the nation. Flocks of people gathered outside of movie theaters, clad in stifling black robes in the midsummer’s heat. Lightning bolts decorated their foreheads while spectacles perched on their noses. They clutched sticks in hands white-knuckled with excitement, waving them about to choruses of jargon. Some witnesses reported sinister figures with skulls drawn on their forearms, hoods drawn over their eyes. Mothers gripped their toddlers’ hands tightly as they passed the scenes, the elderly muttered “whippersnappers” under their breath, and the devout crossed their chests. It was not satanic possession that held these figures captive, however. It was a force far more powerful, an obsession that consumed the life of the victim entirely— Potter mania. Whether or not you were among those that attended the midnight premiere of the last installment of Harry Potter, the boy wizard has indubitably affected your life in some way. When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit American bookshelves in 1998, it took the nation by storm. Children devoured the book, parents read it to their broods as a bedtime story, and adults snuck in chapters at their lunch breaks. The magical world that J.K. Rowling created provided the perfect escape from the tedium of everyday life, transporting the reader into a realm of broomsticks, castles, unicorns, and magic. The concept of muggle-borns (wizards born to nonmagical parents) excited devotees, giving them hope that they, too, would receive a letter stamped with the Hogwarts’ seal. Ridiculous as it may seem, the thought of a world in which a flick of a stick could make your nemesis’s face explode with boils was too tantalizing to dismiss. Admit it. We’ve all been there, naïve eleven year olds staying up until midnight of his/her birthday night, waiting for an owl to scratch at our windowpane and hand us the ticket to a magical paradise. The owl’s inevita-

ble no show is blamed on a change in the rules, or an error in navigation. It has to be. After all, you are a wizard. Right? Then came the movies, and, for Warner Bros., the money. The first film grossed $90.3 million in its opening weekend, shattering the previous record held by Jurassic Park. Cinema added a whole new dynamic to the Harry Potter experience, projecting what we had conjured up in our minds onto theater screens and bringing the fantasy to life. For the first time, we could see the whirling towers of Hogwarts, the swirling broomsticks of Quidditch, and

Hermione’s Hagrid-sized hair. As for the auditory perspective—they all had British accents. How good could it get? As time passed, the books grew steadily darker, the readership grew steadily larger, and the actors’ voices grew steadily deeper. Remember Malfoy’s altered appearance in the third movie? Suddenly he had a longer face, a stronger jaw, and snarled “Potter” an octave lower. Puberty had hit Hogwarts. Years progressed, and similar changes took place around us. We were no longer the robed marchers in the lower school Halloween parade; we were the spectators, cooing over the Harrys that tottered past, swallowed up by their costumes and tripping over the brims of their cloaks. Then, as the first middle school dances rolled around,

we became attendees of the Yule Ball, girls discovering the wonders of makeup and hair straighteners (as Hermione discovered “hair straightening serum”) and boys self-consciously stretching their necks, trying their very hardest to appear tall. Freshman year crept upon us, and suddenly the boys didn’t have to stretch to tower over the girls. Boys accumulated inches and purchased new pants; Ron shot up like a bean stalk and his robes grew short (with Harry’s growth spurt being far less exaggerated). The students of Hogwarts and St. Paul’s were, simply put, growing up. There’s no mystery as to why, when the final credits of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scrolled off the screen, many fans believed their childhood went with them. We spent our youth with Harry Potter, experiencing all the pitfalls and thrills of aging beside them (though, admittedly, without the presence of a dark lord bent on destroying us looming over our heads). Thus, when the screen flickered off and the crowds carried us out into the 3 a.m. gloom, the finality of it all rocked many like a well-aimed curse. Potterpression struck. No more midnight premieres or book releases, no more anticipating plot twists, no more suspense. All… over. Or is it? You see, inside all devotees is a little piece of the series’ soul—a horcrux, if you will. Tucked inside the depths of our heads, it expresses itself at scattered intervals. Instead of our foreheads burning, however, we pick up a worn copy of Goblet of Fire, pop Chamber of Secrets in the DVD player, or dress up for a Harry Potter theme day at our school. As long as we live, the series lives with us. And just as the series survives, our childhood does, buried deep within our psyches; always there, providing us with a youthful sense of wonder and thrill that will never truly end.

Summer reading: Depressing but relevant? by Kyle Grace Mills By the time I had reached the sixth grade, I realized that St. Paul’s English teachers had a dark fetish for books that focused on the slaughter of animals. That was the summer I read A Day No Pigs Would Die (like Charlotte’s Web but with Wilbur actually getting the axe). The moral of the story? Don’t get attached to walking bacon. The second required book was The Pigman. This time only a human dies. What a relief, right? And this was only sixth grade summer reading. It’s safe to say that the books grew steadily darker. By eighth grade, I was reading about a boy with a talent for baseball who loses his father to suicide. And don’t even try to argue that The Old Man and the Sea is “uplifting.” A fish that never was? You’re trying to tell me I’m supposed be satisfied because the bones were impressive? While we’re at it, let’s talk about The Kite Runner. Mrs. Sigler, really, you couldn’t

just make me read a depressing book about rape and injustice; you had to fail my essay as well. It might be added that The Kite Runner was read alongside In Cold Blood. You know, the one about the senseless murder of an innocent family? I found the sociopaths quite chipper. Capping off my gloomy list of books are Wise Blood, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and The Lord of the Flies. I can only describe the experience that is Wise Blood as the acid trip you went on and instead of coming off it feeling high and groovy you were terrified and paranoid. I didn’t have much of an issue with Tess of the D’Urbervilles until my colleagues revealed to me that Tess was, in fact, raped. Guess I missed it. And I’m sad to say that I was pleasantly surprised when there was no cannibalism in The Lord of the Flies. What are our teachers trying to tell us? That we can only gain wisdom from suffering? How could I have ever learned that greed can destroy an innocent family if John Steinbeck

hadn’t told me? How could it have ever occurred to me that dogs can die if I hadn’t read Where the Red Fern Grows? I have learned lessons, and they might have even been important. The disturbing thing is, I love to read. But every summer I’m filled with dread. I ask the same questions: who’s going to get raped, who’s going to die, etc… Happy endings do happen. Just read Harry Potter.

Picture courtesy of callsofthewild.com


Spread 5

Working class zero

by Dylan Gibson When we decided to focus this spread on events of the past summer, summer jobs were not the first thing that came to our minds. Or not mine, at least. We spend ten months cooped up in this joint being educated in a manner befitting those expected to make some contribution to society. What kind of madman would ever want to spend the other two actually contributing to society? Pure crazy talk. That being said, I took a summer job anyway. A strong incentive presented itself, a cotton-paper, green incentive with the Freemasons’ stamp of approval that serves as a personal pass for all kinds of stupid decisions. In looking for a suitably prestigious career in the upper echelons of Mobile society, I searched far and wide. I finally zoned in on an ever-so-exclusive industry in the booming business district of downtown Mobile, having been offered an exorbitant sum of $7.25 an hour for my professional services. I became a pizza delivery driver. Those of you who have taken summer jobs know as well as I that adults speak all too often about some elusive form of education that labor is supposed to bestow upon you. I thought that perhaps delivering pizzas would allow me some miraculous insight into the essence of human nature – but not really. I got exactly what I expected, a never-ending cascade of deliveries to hungover tourists and world-weary hotel staff.

Stoners and truckers tip like saints, while the more bourgeois tip stingily if at all. I discovered, after about a week of trying to clean out an industrial dishwasher at closing, that the human gag reflex can be effectively eliminated once the palate becomes immune to the odor of rancid cheese and week-old ranch dressing. Above all, I learned that growing a beard is a rewarding experience. But I think I’ve pointed

out how misguided the St. Paul’s facial-hair policy is in the past. Hey, guys. It’s still misguided. Just for future reference. Did I have any shocking epiphanies about the plight of the working class and the misguided myopia of materialist culture? Nah, not really. I was too busy shoving cash in my

EA: Electronic Anticipation by Patrick Schulte For three days in early June, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or more colloquially, E3, made gamers across America drool. E3 is arguably the biggest event in the video game industry. All the biggest companies show off their new hardware and software debuting over the next year. This year, it rocked the video game world. The giant companies – Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo – have a time during which they present the biggest software they have coming up. Other presentations showcase new games that aren’t specific to a particular game console (i.e. Xbox 360, PS3). Microsoft introduced a motion sensor attachment to its Xbox 360 last year, called the Kinect. This allowed one to use his body to interact with the game. This year they announced that the abilities of the Kinect to control an Xbox will be drastically increased from simple voice commands and body motions to being able to voice command the Xbox anything it can do – including browse the Internet. Microsoft also unveiled two new titles in one of the largest game franchises in history – Halo. These included a teaser of an unexpected Halo 4, which picks up after Halo 3, and a re-release of the original Halo game. The re-release will change the way the game looks from the original of ten years ago to modern graphics, with the ability to change back at the push of a button. Several other Microsoft-only games were unveiled, including Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and Gears of War 3. Ghost Recon is a third person shooter (meaning one follows their character around, rather than looking at only the hands and weapons) utilizing many different forms of

equipment that the military is actually working on, such as uniforms designed to enable invisibility and electronic displays of a teammate’s status. Gears of War 3 is also a third person shooter, but it takes place on another world.

The protagonists are fighting to survive after their homes have been overrun by mutated subterranean beings. Halo 4 is scheduled for release in 2012, with the original Halo debuting in November. Sony kicked off their own presentation by addressing the recent hacking and subsequent shutdown of the PlayStation Network that potentially compromised millions of user indentities. Afterwards, they rolled right in by unveiling the successor to the PlayStation

pockets and cruising about Mobile like a professional delivery-man if there ever was one. A cursory glance at the family genealogy book many moons ago revealed to me that I had a great-great-great something-or-other who was a stagecoach driver. Perhaps I’m of a long lineage and the profession is in my blood. Perhaps I can use the same excuse when I return to our ten-year high school reunion as a career garbage-man. Those of you that held jobs this summer feel my pain. You’ve no right to call yourself a “people person” until you’ve dealt with people at their absolute worst. Being scolded by a morbidly obese man for arriving with his pizza ten minutes late right after listening to an NPR broadcast on famine in Somalia on the carride to his house? I have never struggled so mightily to tame that animal urge to slam a man’s own door in his face. Of course, there’s always the paycheck. Your marginal benefits of paying for gas and food until Christmas outweigh your marginal cost, struggling with a severe case of misanthropy. So welcome back to school, kids. There are worse things in this world than education, believe you me. Picture courtesy of cheezburger.com

Portable – the PS Vita. The Vita has Wi-Fi and AT&T-only 3G wireless capabilities, two thumb sticks, front and rear cameras, front and rear touch sensors, and will be released for $259 as a Wi-Fi model and $299 as a 3G model. Sony also unvieled several PlayStation 3-only games, including Infamous 2 and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Infamous 2 is a third-person action/adventure/role playing game where one plays as Cole MacGrath, an electric-powered superhero running around a New Orleans-esque city trying to save humanity. Uncharted 3 is a third-person action/adventure game where the main character can climb to reach areas in search of treasure. Infamous came out during E3, and Uncharted comes out in November. Nintendo’s biggest product shown was the successor to the Wii console system, called the Wii U. The new Wii U will have the same motion control as the original, but the controller will also look like a more traditional handheld controller, along with a touchscreen. Other big ticket items included previews to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, sequel to Modern Warfare 2 and the eighth game in the Call of Duty franchise. It is a first person shooter, and set to come out in November. Battlefield 3, a first-person shooter with a unique form of multiplayer experience emphasizing team play was also demonstrated. It is scheduled to release in October. All the games and new hardware make this year look like one of the best ever for gamers. Picture courtesy of videogamesasart.com


6 Features If you just apply yourself... by Kyle Grace Mills While methodically filling out the Common Application, I reach the section where I’m asked about my criminal history. My mind flits to stabbing my brother with a Popsicle stick when I was eight, sneaking healthy portions of dog food when I was two, and stealing a bottle of colored sand from my best friend in kindergarten. But, appropriately, I check “no” for all felonies and misdemeanors. When I come to the questions dealing with suspensions or expulsions, I wonder again if it’s necessary to mention my one day suspension in third grade (it’s a long story). Pope Common App absolves me of my sins and notifies me that only suspensions in high school are pertinent. I’m beginning to realize that there’s a lot I’m leaving out. Specifically, anything interesting about me. Throughout my life, teachers have counseled me on my academic soul. Also known as my resume. Now that I see this supposedly impressive thing in the papery flesh, I am as underwhelmed as an admissions director. What they gather from this application is that I’m not the top of my class. How am I supposed to explain to them the situation that is Patrick Steadman? Or Funso Fagbongbe? I can’t. How do I tell them that while I was baking cupcakes for A.P. History I could’ve been

Cool article, bro

by Danielle Williamson Over the years, women have banded together to protest, socialize, and, yes-- (occasionally) cook. Until recently, women have had a reduced status in society. They have bonded over persecution and acted as support networks for each other when the legal system neglected to. Men largely ignored these gatherings at first. As women gained more and more power, however, men began to panic. Befuddled, a team of male scientists began observing their now-formidable rivals, searching desperately for the source of women’s newfound power. Was it their purses? Theirstilettos? Numerous failed experiments and broken toenails later, both theories were quickly abandoned (though it is rumored that the first theory continues to carry weight with a covert sect, the members of which carry “satchels”). After a particularly trying morning of testing (they had been investigating a recent trend involving small furry dogs and fashionable totes), the researchers decided to break for coffee at their local coffeehouse. Fingers bandaged and spirits low, they sipped their beverages morosely, avoiding eye contact. It was in this moment of shame that one of the fledging scientists noticed a bizarre phenomenon: a flock of girls making its way to the bathroom. Shaking his head, he leaned over to one of his colleagues: “Why do girls always go to the bathroom together?” The other shrugged his shoulders in response. It was then that it hit him: the epiphany that had eluded male scholars for so long. Women didn’t get their power from clothes or curling wands—no, it was strength in numbers that buoyed them up! Elated, he rushed out to spread to word. His ideas were eventually compiled into a theory-no, law-- of companionship that would shake the foundations of masculinity. Thus, the bro was born. Experimenters were hesitant at first, remembering Cain and Abel’s fate. However, their worries subsided

doing community service? Is there a difference between a group of hungry kids and a group of starving kids? The Common App thinks so. Where do I add that I’m a passionate cook, dedicated writer, and driven student? In other words: How do I explain that while my test scores may appear mediocre, I am not?

The application likes to think it has a way to capture your essence. They call it the college essay. They deduce, perhaps reasonably, that all you could possibly have to say about yourself you can say in five hundred words or less. One word more than five hundred and you’re just being self-indulgent. While the bad writers of the world do a simultaneous fist pump, Dylan Gibson and I cry like ten-year-old girls. The shortest thing I ever wrote was a thankyou note. I don’t think that will be viewed as a proper essay topic. So here’s where you’re supposed to get creative. When it comes to the essay topic, the Common App gives you free range to ride your pony into the ridiculous sunset. This essay

when it was explained to them that though Cain and Abel were brothers, they were not true bros. Minds at rest, the trend began propagating rapidly throughout the male population. As more and more males were deemed bro, they found themselves faced with a pressing issue. What could they call their strictly-hetero affections for one another? Luckily, a solution was in sight: bromance. By combining the word bro with romance, it kept the emotional intensity of “romance” without making it sound “too, uh, you know, sappy ‘n’ stuff.” This was but the first in a line of words known as “bro-isms.” The utter simplicity of the bro allowed it to be lent to a plethora of words, such as “brotastic,” “brologna,” and “bro-cameral legislature.” References were made throughout all media of pop culture. George Clooney and Brad Pitt publicly endorsed the idea, displaying their man crushes for one another frequently. All was chill. Then, in 2007, a video of a University of Florida student crying out, “Don’t tase me, bro,” at a police officer was widely circulated. Though amusing, it left some perplexed. It seemed dubious that the student was referring to the police officer as a steadfast companion. This led to the startling revelation that bro was not always a term of endearment. At times, it was even used facetiously! This new application of bro was especially apparent in the internet meme “Cool story, bro.” It will come as a shock to many that “Cool story, bro” is rarely used in reference to a chill tale. In fact, it often implies that the story in question isn’t cool at all. It first appeared on the internet accompanying a portrait of Hercules showing the thumbs up sign. However, some trace its beginnings to Zoolander, when Olaf responds to Hansel’s long-winded tale of his Mount Vesuvius adventure with “Cool story, Hansel!” Due to the seemingly genuine nature of this reply, the origins remain hotly contested among bros.

should showcase your wit, your innovation, and your unique perspective. It may, however, only showcase your mother’s ability to edit sloppy grammar. An even more unnerving possibility is that your essay could present a total stranger. For her essay question, Colorado College asked my mom whom she admired in life. My mother, at a loss, took my grandmother’s advice, and focused on the Pope. She, a Presbyterian, didn’t even know what numeral John Paul had attached to his title. Thus, a stranger wrote her college essay. Fortunately for my mother, she and the stranger got in. I haven’t despaired of the possibility that I may become a vivid person on paper in less than five hundred words. But consider this: I’m already writing my five hundred and forty sixth word right now. And you’re still wondering when I’m going to get to the point. The college is evaluating whether it needs me or not. I’m convincing the college that not only does it want me, it can’t live without me. I’m averse to coercion. But not to begging. Between the groveling and the bragging, I’m praying that something that looks like me will materialize. Picture courtesy of advice.com

Bro has also been used to initiate fights between males, a concept seemingly contradictory towards the principles of bro. This usually occurs when one male has offended another, causing the other to say “Come at me, bro!” This can be loosely translated into something along the lines of “Good sir, I object to the claim that my satchel is a purse, and will overpower you in a physical confrontation to prove my point if need be.” The phrase can be traced back to episode six, season one of Jersey Shore, in which Ronnie yells it repeatedly in response to taunts from a pedestrian. A scuffle ensues, though it is in question whether this was due to the use of “Come at me, bro” or the unchill nature of the program it was aired on (it is Jersey Shore, after all). It should be noted that “Come at me, bro” is not always the precursor of physical confrontation; in fact, it is often used to egg on an opponent after a particularly high-scoring word has been played in the online game “Words with Friends.” Appearances of bro in such seemingly unrelated formats show how far into society bro has permeated. As with any widespread trend, it has drawn considerable criticism. Particular issues have been found with “Cool story, bro.” Recipients of the phrase often find it as provoking as “Come at me, bro.” Several instances of abuse have resulted from the usage of this phrase, including (but not limited too) glares, shoes, and chairs being thrown at the speaker. Witnesses of such events often agree that the speaker “had it coming,” especially if said speaker responds to a request to stop with “You mad, bro?” Whether viewed as annoying or entertaining, it can be agreed that bro-ciety is a trend that won’t easily perish, and that sixty years from now, when grandparents struggle to think of a bedtime tale, they’ll have a chill one to tell. And it’ll be a pretty cool story, bro.


Entertainment 7 The e-reader battle

by Patrick Schulte Way back in the (technologically speaking) ancient year of 2009, Barnes & Nobles released the Nook, a device designed to be a library on the go. Then, Amazon.com released the Kindle, and the battle of the e-readers began. Recently it has heated up even more with Apple’s iPad entering the race, and Barnes and Nobles’ latest model of the Nook. If you, reading this on paper of all things, are considering getting an e-reader, this article can help you understand what each device has to offer. The Barnes and Nobles Nook has a 6”reading screen and a small touchscreen for navigation. It weighs 11.2 ounces. The reading screen is black and white. In addition to many books and magazines, it’s equipped with sudoku and chess. Recently, the Nook Touch has been released with a full touchscreen. It is 7.5 ounces, still in black and white, and has a 6” screen. It has an app marketplace. There is also the Nook Color, which is larger than the Nook Touch with a 7” screen and 15.8 ounces in weight. One major advantage the Nook has over the Kindle is that the Nook can rent books from

the library, saving money. The Nook Touch is more competitive with the Kindle due to its weight, features, and price compared to the original.

Amazon.com’s Kindle has a 6” reading screen, and a full keyboard for navigation. It’s light – only 8.5 ounces. The Kindle can be read outside with no glare, and can also store thousands of books and magazines; however, the Kindle has a black and white screen. The Kindle’s biggest

plus is its access to the expansive Amazon.com store. Although Apple’s iPad is not designed specifically for e-reading, it is a major competitor. The screen is wide at 9.7”, brightly colored, but has glare when outside. It weighs 21.2 ounces. The color screen makes it better for reading magazines. The iPad 2 is lighter than the original. It also has access to Apple’s enormous app store and can do much more than just books and magazines. The Nook started the e-reader craze, but the Kindle raised the bar. The iPad supports e-reading, but it is meant to do so much more. Regular Nooks sell at $199, Nook Touches at $139, and Nook Colors at $249. The Kindle starts at $139; and with all its features, the iPad 2 starts at $499. If looking for just a simple way to carry a library around, the Nook or Kindle are the best bet. But who wants to just read books? The Nook Color is great for magazines as well as books. If you want to do everything a computer can, Apple can hook you up. Picture courtesy of forbes.com

Why Rebecca Black won’t leave us alone by Danielle Williamson

Rebecca Black is a worm. More specifically, she’s an earworm: a song that burrows into your noggin, stubbornly repeating itself in a seemingly endless cycle of hummed notes and annoyed looks. How does an earworm come into being, however? Is it the offspring of a mommy worm and a daddy worm who love each other very much? Or is it something deeper: something programmed into our very wiring, deep within the recesses of our skulls? When we listen to a song, an area in our brains called the auditory cortex is stimulated. Whether it’s Black Sabbath, Beyoncé, the Beatles, or Bach, the auditory cortex begins head-banging/fist-pumping/swaying to and fro like there’s no tomorrow. It’s having the time of its life, and it’s not going to end its dance party just because you decided to be a killjoy and turn off the radio. Instead, it’s going to haunt you the rest of the day like the passive-aggressive piece of gray matter it is. Don’t try to reason with it. It doesn’t care that you’re trying to fill out PETS for AP Euro or finishing your Pre-Cal test. It’ll just roll its personified eyes, plug its imaginary ears, and sing “PARTYIN’! PARTYIN’! YEAH!” at the top of its nonexistent lungs. For the record, you started it. When you cut off a song mid-headbang, you cause a cognitive itch to form. This results from your head’s compulsive need to play the song out to its end. Because you’ve chosen to deny it this privilege, an excerpt is repeated instead in an attempt to “scratch” the itch. However, this only inflames the itch, spiraling a chorus of “fun, fun, fun, fun” into a vicious cycle of misery and dismay, which mate

to produce—you guessed it—the earworm. But what is it about “Friday” that keeps us bobbing our chins and tapping our feet? Why not Beethoven’s 5th? Is it the deep, emotional appeal of the song? The profound lyrics? Of course not. Simply put, it’s catchy. What “catchy” entails, however, is slightly more complex. A study conducted by Dartmouth College in 2005 points out several key factors:

1. Repetition: Sorry, lyrical complexity crowd. As unimaginative and vague as some lyrics may seem (“It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday/Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend, weekend/Friday, Friday/Gettin’ down on Friday”), chances are, if they reappear frequently throughout the song, they’ll be ringing in your head long after the headphones come out. 2. Familiarity: Think of “It’s a Small World.” It’s almost impossible to spend a childhood in America without being exposed to the classic tune. We listened to it on tapes as we played with blocks, sobbed hysterically as robots sang it to us in a dark tunnel of diversity,

and marched our feet to the beat of it at the beginning of each of Miss Anne’s ballroom lessons. Thus, the fact that it’s one of the most infamous earworms around comes as no surprise. The brain is far more likely to repeat a familiar song compulsively than an unfamiliar one. 3. Presence of Lyrics: No, they don’t have to be complicated or poetic, but the inclusion of lyrics does increase the chances that a song will sink its teeth into your cranium. This might be due to decreased concentration levels required to “fill-in the gaps” of lyrical songs, as contrasted to instrumental pieces. Listening to lyrical songs only activates the advanced regions of the auditory cortex, while instrumental pieces require the participation of more intricate areas. Researchers in London are taking the concept of earworms a step further by developing a formula with the intent of predicting a song’s earworm potential. By looking for connections in a vast database of songs submitted as earworms on Earwormery.com, they have narrowed it down to an equation involving a ratio of rhythmic structures and pitch intervals. As of 2010, this had an accuracy rate of 75%. So the next time you’re cursing yourself for yielding to the tide of conformity by humming “Friday,” ease up a bit. Blame it on the earworms. We’re programmed to repeat inane melodies. But please, for the love of itch-free brains, try to restrain yourself from sharing it with the rest of the world. Especially during Mrs. Newberry’s class.


Sports 8 Prospects uncertain for boys’ cross-country by Dylan Gibson

The air grows colder and fall sports Paul’s’ distance runners. There are no returnare entering the prime of the season. Yet St. ing runners from the ninth, tenth, or eleventh Paul’s’ boys’ cross-country team, in the midst grades on the list. The one varsity-level runner of a season rife with competition, faces a grim not graduating this year is in middle school. future. The thirty-four year old program faces Coach Tate describes this gap in runners as an a shortage of underclassmen, a deficit which “embarrassment to our school and a reflection threatens to tarnish its treasured legacy unless of exceptionally poor school spirit and pride in a new crop of runners can fill the void. itself.” The St. Paul’s cross-country program Should a solid team not be fielded in the formed a boys’ team in 1978. Coach Jim Tate, coming months for indoor and outdoor track to who founded the program in 1978 and now ensure carryover into the 2012 cross-country enters his 34th year coaching the St. Paul’s season, the St. Paul’s boys’ cross-country cross-country team, was a football coach at the team will be left with a potentially devastattime and gave his first runners schedules with ing course of action: having to cast a group of which to train on their own time. There were young and inexperienced 7th and 8th grade runno sports-equipment company endorsements, ners into the frenzy of state-wide competitions no flashy pep rallies, and no chartered buses to against older and more seasoned athletes. competitions. As a cross-country runner on the boys’ Three decades and nine state champion- varsity team, I find this deeply unsettling. Thirships later, little has changed. Cross-country ty-four years of success within this program has remains a sport stripped bare of all pretenses produced a force we feel is too powerful and and reduced to the lowest common denomiconstructive to be lost. nator: a pair of worn rubber soles, wet grass Cross-country’s long-running stigmaunderfoot and the stifling Mobile sun overhead. tization for being exceptionally difficult and Entering its thirty-fourth year with the third requiring vast reserves of strength and indilargest accumulation of state titles in Alabama, vidual dedication is often cited by prospective the St. Paul’s boys’ cross-country team has con- runners as part of their rationale in not comtinued to produce student-athletes who excel in mitting to the sport, particularly among underfields both athletic and academic. classmen. I feel it worth noting that most of the A cursory glance at the cross-country athletes who have comprised the teams of the team’s roster this season, however, would show past three or so years have come from little to no indication of the intense pride felt by St. no athletic background. I was initially attracted

to the sport in the summer of 2009, weighing in at well over two hundred pounds at the time and having never run a mile in my life. A fair number of my teammates have come from similar backgrounds at some point in the past few years. Cross-country is a sport that requires nothing more than a steeled mind and the sheer force of will to overcome weakness, thereby molding oneself into a more efficient machine from the inside out. The intense effort a runner gives to those few hours every day for weeks on end makes the last hundred yards of each race a sublime experience. No equipment is necessary, only an iron determination to hone oneself psychologically and physically against adversity in its various manifest forms. There are no protein supplements or gridiron drill workouts, only the pure grit. Become part of something bigger than yourself and take pride in it. In light of our low number of underclassmen runners, every willing person is needed, regardless of athletic background. Indoor track begins in the winter and rolls into the outdoor track season in spring. We on the St. Paul’s cross-country team urge you to consider joining us. We guarantee it will be worth every iota of effort you are willing to give to the miles ahead.

Barefoot running by Hannah Fruh

Do you wear your shoes or your birthday shoes? Ironically, the new craze of barefoot running has spilled into the shoe department. Chris McDougall wrote the book Born to Run it was about the journey of a runner (the author) who had had many injuries from running. He found that the Tarahumara tribe, in Mexico, who had been running their whole lives barefoot, didn’t have injuries. They are very healthy people and they run very fast. His book inspired many runners to begin running the way we were made to. This revival of running caught up with the shoe industry. The Italian company, Vibram, made a shoe in 2006 for kayaking and sailing. Runners fell in love with this shoe and now many other huge companies have followed suit creating their own type of barefoot shoe. New Balance has a new motto. They created a new “<=>” (less equals more) series named Minimus. These shoes are also barefoot shoes but don’t have the individual toe

slot. They are lighter than normal shoes and have less cushioning. They are for any outdoor activity including day to day activities. Merrell, known for its sandals or hiking shoes, now will come out with a barefoot series that should help your feet realign. Fila’s Skele-toes are like the five fingers, but have four toe slots instead. The last two toes share a slot.The question I have had since I saw this glove-like shoe was “is this shoe better for running?” Everyone has a different opinion to give, so I will give both sides. In the New York Times article Daniel Lieberman says that he, “wondered if some of the sports injuries that runners get are related to an issue connected to how people run in shoes — the heel strike, it’s called.” When many of us run we land on the heel causing a shock wave to travel to the head making it wobble. Many think that the jolt is normal, but it isn’t. It is actually a harmful way to run, and it causes injury. Lieberman began a study with barefoot running. He found a barefoot runner who had been running barefoot for a long time. He studied the man’s stride, and how he perfectly landed on the ball of his foot. The study led Lieberman to Africa where he saw people who had never worn shoes at all run barefoot. The conclusion was while running barefoot, we run the natural way. The runners from Africa were light on their feet. His study has yet to prove if the barefoot running causes less injury. Every sports company is competing for the best shoe. The companies claim that the shoes have a “cushioning impact,” but the shock isn’t cushioned at all. Runners still feel

it, and still get injuries no matter how expensive the shoes are. The Robbins and Gouw study (1991), proves that expensive athletic shoes cause more than twice as many injuries as cheaper shoes. Lieberman’s research was on people who have been barefoot running for a long time. Most people who have been running with gym shoes wouldn’t run well with barefoot shoes or literally bare feet without proper training. It can take weeks to adapt to barefoot running. Even then, there is still the possibility of injury. During that time runners are vulnerable to overuse or thermal injuries. If you overwork your feet, you will get injuries, so the process needs to be slow. We have lived our lives wearing shoes. Our feet are used to the cushioning and support of gym shoes. If you are trying to switch to running barefoot, try workouts barefoot thirty minutes a day. Then gradually move to running in grass or somewhere safe for your feet. Or get barefoot shoes that will protect them from objects on the ground. Everyone has heated opinions on running. Companies have created gym shoes that are claiming to prevent injury with all the extra cushioning jell or other gadgets they use, but many times the shoe is more injury prone. Tennis shoes are still great for running, but you should do some research on the shoe you want to make sure that it is good. The barefoot shoes may very well be better for your feet than other gym shoes. Read more about the barefoot shoes to make a decision or to develop your own opinion. Picture courtesy of spotcoolstuff.com

September 2011 Epistle  

The student published newspaper of St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile, Alabama.