I Think My Brain Noodles are Melting Phil Kolas
Undergraduate / Philosophy Politics scare me. Badly. Anyone who followed my illustrious journalism career as closely as I have may notice that authority gets me really nervy. I don’t like the idea of power being held by people with more power than me, especially since my only chance of fighting their power is with the rights they allow me to have. That strike anyone else as a bit weird, or am I out of line? It wouldn’t be so bad if it was on a smaller scale. When my ancestors made the democracy that you all love so much, it was a few thousand people, a few hundred representatives, and everybody had to serve their time, like jury duty. Flat out, it was easier. That’s a fact, and it takes a lot for me to admit that anything in the past was better than we have it today, but politics is one of them. If a homeless man came up to your face and asked you for a dollar, most people don’t give anything. But politics is the activity of throwing control for the next four years of your life over to someone you’ve never met. You don’t know them, you’re lucky to touch them, and tomorrow they could decide to hold your sister down and rip her uterus out using your tax dollars. There’d be checks and balances, things of that nature I’m embarrassingly retarded on, but they have the tools, they have the technology, and they’d be in charge of anyone you would call to try and stop them. I have best friends that I wouldn’t trust with my sister’s uterus. For the sake of the people I love, specifically all of you, me, and my family, I’ve been meaning to try following this election process and write about it. Yes, thank
you, I noticed it started a while ago. I’ve spent all this time trying to get a handle on it. I literally had no leverage, no crowbar on the door. I’ve been soaking here in total confusion and paranoia, for months now. I’ve asked so many people where I can start paying attention to politics, to try and start putting it all together, and I haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer yet. More than a few good ones, but nothing to make it all fall in to place and give me a starting point. It’s actually the same thought-process that got me to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the first place—I threw out every pamphlet that came in the mail from colleges, and never visited a web site to research. My logic being, “Well, they’re talking about themselves, so they’re obviously not going to be honest. Fuck them.” I only took EC because my mother started weeping that I’d get killed in Iraq if I wasn’t enrolled somewhere soon, so I took the cheapest one I could farthest from home that had accepted me. When someone talks about their candidate, they’re only giving me the good. What they don’t understand is I feel so much more at ease when I get bad news. No chance of getting blindsided. I didn’t know what to know. Everything out of someone’s mouth was up for suspicion. Before I knew I could trust CNN, I would have to read the ad revenue, see where their funding was coming from, what monetary gain they would get from presenting this story, saying this about that candidate…I would have to actually see an economic conflict of interests—if they were funded by friends of Candidate A and gave a gleaming review of a Candidate B speech for instance—before I’d believe it. Can you imagine what that’s like?
March 12th - April 1st, 2008
And in the long-view, I still feel saner than a lot of people around me. I don’t cheer at the TV on Primary Tuesdays. I have to get drunk just to stay in proximity to those kinds of people. And that’s no way to cover politics. You can’t get blitzed until it goes away. It’s not going away. It never will. It’s the art of ambition, it’s made up of people who want power, and those people will always be around. Not even a dystopian population of coked out potheads with no arms and legs is going to be without those kinds of people. This race will have a direct effect on you and everything you do for the next four years, and when they’re done there’s going to be another one. Even if you want to run mountain-man and anarchize your life from cradle to grave, it’s still a round world. They will still affect how much fun your little back-packing adventure will end up being, how many obstacles they put in your way out of town. Your last choice now is how much you want to try to rein in the bull. It’s already been in the China shop for 232 years. What are your options? Who knows. I don’t really think there’s anything for us to do, that’s the problem. I know people who went on five hours of sleep a night for weeks leading up to the Wisconsin Primary. They’re a small honorable minority. And out of those, I’d bet that there’s an even smaller number of people who really educated themselves enough to make an informed decision on who they’re grassrooting for. As in knows what is good and bad about everyone, and threw their hat in with someone whose margin of difference matched theirs. I have a bad feeling that there’s a lot of very skilled cheerleaders. No better than a TV screamer, just with closer seats.
But to despair is the ultimate sin. I knew someone with my…blazing intellect could find a back door here. What hasn’t been covered yet? What angle is waiting for me? Arrogant, I know. The idea that everything of everything has been taken, staked, and claimed except for one spot just right waiting for me? Shows what kind of fool I am, right? It kind of hit me, though. The thing I’m good at, the thing no one else ever does, is the only chance I have of breaking this thing down into digestible microwave dinner squares. I know I’m not the only person who has no idea what the fuck is going on here, but I think I am the only one to admit it. A good dear friend keeps calling me Post-Modern, intended as an insult. He thinks I see every side of every issue so much that I have no stand on anything. That I have no opinion of female genital mutilation or evil shit like that. He tries to rope me into admitting that I don’t care about anything. What he doesn’t get is that I know how wrong human history has been about things before. My job, not just as a writer no one reads, pays, or lis-
tens to, but as a damn philosopher, is to find the things that do not change when you cross a border. They’re next to impossible to find, but that’s not the same as impossible, or non-existent. He mistakes my patience, my endless patience, as apathy. But apathy doesn’t break a chair over watching democracy getting shit on. That it was a chair at his house at the time just made it ironic. Combine that with my enjoyment at watching people fail, in this instance, newscasters. I mean really stick their foot in their mouths. Every one seems so amped to be the first one to call results for someone, they’re actually making the calls before the voting has even started? If I don’t say anything unless I’m absolutely sure it’s a fact, I’m prime to really bring a revolution in political reporting, huh? I always wonder why I fuck around with things way beyond my present comprehension. I don’t just shoot for the stars. I say “Fuck off ” to NASA and try to jump there myself. I bash my head into a wall and tell myself I don’t bleed. If I’d just sit down and trust someone else’s advice, my
The Ambiguity of Hope
Undergraduate / Social Studies Broadfield Barack Obama secured the primary vote from Wisconsin. This seemed certain after numerous community members and students lined up from Zorn Arena to the top of the Garfield Street hill. Obama supporters continue to throw out 30 second sound bites concerning voting for a “change.” The appeal of Obama seems to grow after every debate or campaign stop. Needless to say, I still find Obama’s call and plan for change a bit ambiguous. Throughout his speeches and debates I heard Obama support capitalism, but claim he remains above corporate interests. He supports this argument by saying that he does not take money from PACs or lobbyists. This statement does not seem to support the $80 million dollars in campaign funds Obama has raised. Though it may not be from PACs or lobbyists, the money generated comes from junior and senior executives who can personally donate dollars within the $2,300 spectrum. In fact, by October 29, 46 percent of Obama’s funds came from wealthy business executives. Though Obama may say
he does not remain the product of PACs and lobbyists, clearly he benefits from corporate interests. Furthermore, Obama’s plan for universal health care indicates his allegiance to corporate interests. Obama’s plan would require working class American citizens to purchase health care. Because the plan requires Americans to purchase health care, the plan has been deemed “universal.” Under Obama’s plan the government would subsidize lower-income individuals, but still require them to pay for health care. Obama’s plan merely represents reorganizing the single-payer health care system in the United States. Clearly, requiring citizens to pay for health care just lines the pockets of the current health care system. This raises the question: who really benefits from Obama’s plans for health care? Make no mistake about Obama’s vocal denouncements of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his voting record and policy procedures have indicated he supports both wars. Not only has Obama supported a troop increase in Afghanistan, he has consistently voted to approve billions of dollars for the war and refuses to com-
The Flip Side
life would be so much easier. I’d be something with a brain, not a fucking pile of straw that just knows how to type. But as long as you can, you should always bite off more than you can chew. I think it’s one of the best things you can do with your life. I have to prove that I have something to offer here, now, in what might be the greatest political race of ours lives. This time when people might actually vote for someone, for Obama, instead of just against a Republican. Either that, or he might just be the greatest swindle in presidential history. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but one or the other is definitely going to happen by the end of all this. I have to keep my eyes peeled until way past when it feels like my lids might be bleeding. I have to be there. I was born now. That means I elbow up to the front row to the best of my ability. Being alive, that’s my duty. So here’s the first and last lesson, kids: The only way we’re going to get anywhere from here is by admitting we might be wrong and investigating accordingly. I’m definitely sure of that one.
mit to pulling all the troops out by the end of his first term (2013). Furthermore, Obama supports an expansion of the military by 100,000 more troops and increasing the bloated Pentagon budget. Again, Obama’s positions on issues regarding the current “War on Terrorism” seem to indicate the ambiguity of his change. I will not mislead you by saying that Hillary Clinton remains a better candidate for the presidency. She has very similar policies to Barack Obama. My main concern is the support and fervor the Democratic Party has achieved in this primary season. Too often in elections the strong support of the people becomes funneled into a political party. The political party promises to “change” the system; however, when the candidate wins the presidency this support turns into apathetic bitterness after little, or no change occurs through the supported candidate’s policies. Throughout history, ordinary people organizing themselves and exerting force on the system have achieved more change than political candidates. Consequently, it remains our responsibility to organize ourselves and enact change.
I Take My Right to an Abortion for Granted
Undergraduate / Print Journalism Two weeks ago I walked past a sign on campus that said “The threat to Roe has never been greater.” Feminism has always been interesting in that it liberates women by reminding us of our limitations. And in this case it is of course necessary. The right to have an abortion, absurdly, remains up for discussion. It seems that women can take no gain for granted; every change is accompanied by a backlash. Unfortunately, it seems as though the necessity of always referencing the same struggle, the same right, has left us unable to demand and envision more. After all, if a woman has to continue to fight for the right to have an abortion, it’s difficult to simultaneously bring about the other changes she deserves. Feminists are continuing to struggle with the “woman” question in the same way it was described by Simone de Beauvoir in 1949. In The Second Sex, de Beauvoir wrote that women are always forced to define themselves in reference to male ideas, to the male conception of what a woman should be. And so it is today. Women are still attempting to shed the male conception of what they should be, and so their vision of themselves continues to be limited. After all, the idea that a woman doesn’t have the right to have an abortion is a male idea. And as long as we must counter that notion we are defining ourselves in relation to what we struggle against. To some extent this is unavoidable. If people continue to attempt to overturn Roe feminists must continue to defend it.
Nevertheless, it’s understandable if women find themselves tired of fighting to simply maintain their reproductive rights. I’ve often heard older feminists criticize women of my generation, for our general disinterest in preserving our access to birth control and abortion. We take it for granted, they say. That’s right, I take my right to an abortion for granted, and I think that I should be able to. I should be able to conceive of myself as a person who does not need to worry about her access to birth control. What is feminism for, if not to be able to see reproductive control as something I am entitled to? We shouldn’t accept that each generation of women be forced to accept a periodic reenactment of each struggle. Not every generation of women should have to defend birth control, working women, and sexual freedom. Sometimes I flip through random feminist magazines, and I’ll see a picture of a mother and daughter, protesting for abortion rights together. At first this seems cute, like it’s a form of mother daughter bonding. The mother says something along the lines of, I was an activist for abortion rights, and now my daughter is too. Think about what that means! God forbid I someday have a daughter and take her to a prochoice rally. Nevertheless, saying all this would be one thing if the right to an abortion were not in danger. I think the answer is that we must simultaneously demand more while refusing to consider that our rights be circumscribed. Women deserve the right to an abortion, and a whole lot more. And so the next time that someone turns to you and says that birth control is a sin, tell them that’s absolutely ludicrous,
and that not only will you keep your birth control pills, you foresee an imminent end to the demeaning images of women in the media, sexual objectification, and the glass ceiling. This is probably also the time to mention that you want someone to do for the clitoris what The Vagina Monologues have done for the vagina. Hopefully, then, the person you’re speaking will find they are overwhelmed by just how backwards their remark really was. Another seemingly less offensive way the urgency of feminism is defrayed is by saying that yes, there are inequalities, but that’s because it’s just going to take time. And in this instance as well, the answer is not to patiently attempt to let everyone someday come around to the idea that condemns are o.k., and let that dominate the conversation. Every day I am confronted with the inescapable fact that that there is so much more confronting women. In the public library I’ve heard men saying I’ll hit her if she doesn’t read this. In a coffee shop I overheard men making demeaning remarks about a “trashy woman.” Not long ago, when I was in a department store, I saw a young woman trying on bikinis, and presenting herself in each different one to her boyfriend. I believe that the women I mention above have been violated by ideas that deny that they are human beings. I believe that an end to these to this kind of violations is not unrealistic, it is not utopian, it’s a moral imperative, one that’s being put off by those forcing women to endlessly address the same issues over and over. Don’t accept their premise.
Philip of Trier: Part Six Philip Kaveny
Undergraduate / Religious Studies The rest didn’t resolve. She wore a very light dress under the cape and nothing under that. She told Alphonse that she needed protection from something that was horrible beyond belief. The rest of it made no sense. And yet she gave Alphonse reason to believe that it was true, her head came well below his chin and she
clasped his hand in both of hers. It had been so long since he held another person close to him and so seldom had he done it. His life had stopped half a lifetime before. Then the connections snapped taut together, as if they had their own memories. She kissed him so hard and desperately that it bruised his lips. Then she bit the bottom of his tongue . Carl the Cooper’s voice snapped
March 12th - April 1st, 2008
Philip the storyteller and the audience back to the present, but in a strange way made him like a chorus for the rest of the listeners. “So what did you promise her? Did you promise her that you would kill the beast that could not be killed, you fool?” Alphonse thought desperately and silently as he started to pace back and forth in front of Carlo. What kind of beast or devil must I
kill? Does this thing have a corporal body or does it exist only in some spirit realm? But then how can it torment or kill in the world of flesh, and blood and bone? Who am I to keep from it what it was promised? It’s not fair. Like Jeptha’s daughter in the Bible, Clara is innocent of all this blood. Alphonse seemed to shadow box with something invisible as he moved faster and faster almost as if his hands and feet and fists kept the skill memory of their deadly force alive even when his heart and mind fell away from it. For an instant his hands and feet moved so fast they seemed invisible as they remembered his deadly art. But then Carlo snapped him back into the present, just at the instant that Alphonse threw an ordinary paring knife at the door to Carlo’s dining room, and with a lethal vibrating thud. Though Alphonse was silent as he moved through a macabre dance of his former master craft; Carlo seemed to read his mind and snapped him back into the moment. “Alphonse, none of your grace and skill are worthless against a beast that cannot be killed. It will rip out your heart and eat your soul, for a generation we have lived on borrowed time and now we must pay the tab.” Alphonse looked at him with sadness in his heart that opened a hole in his sprit, a hole that seemed to open into a bottomless pit, worse yet a vortex, or whirlpool, through which he seemed to see the floor of hell, and he felt as if he was in its vicelike grip and nothing made by human hands could extricate him from it. Then, because Carlo loved Alphonse in a way that men understand instantly or not at all said, “Go with God my friend and come back, somebody has to replace my door, because as you know, nobody, not even you, can pull that knife out, but maybe if I keep the knife in the door it might be an tourist attraction for pilgrims.” Alphonse snarled at his friend Carlos and said, “You asshole Carlo, leave it to you to make a mark on my suffering” Both men laughed because with men sometimes laughter must take the place of tears. *** As Philip continued his audience listened to a story like nothing that they had heard before that made them think of times and places that they had never
dreamt of. The dark stranger was with them again, the man who brought the night into the Guild Hall Tavern wrapped in his great cloak. The man whose face was covered except for the pools of his eyes and his fine high cheek bones, and who made the whole room smell like spice and rosemary. Yes, he was listening as he stroked the little dog Leroy’s forehead as the Wolfhounds slept at his feet, the dogs seemed to love him, and showed no fear at all. Thomas the two meter tall blacksmith who weighed 30 stones, watched the dark man out of the corner of his eye, but the dark man nodded at Thomas in a way that was almost like the military command to stand easy, and Thomas knew that as long as Philip was safe, he had nothing to worry about from the dark man, but god help Thomas if something happened to him. Then, Philip continued the story. But before he started, the dark man said a word in a deep rich voice that only Philip knew from reading Aristotle when he learned Greek working in the Bishop’s library. It was a strange word that the Greeks first used in theatre 3700 years before, and had not been spoken by a living entity in the last thousand years. It was a word to build a world with. A world of everything built out of nothing, not a real world, but a world of desire and wish and dream, that was brought into substance through wind and art and dreams. Thus it took precedence over fleeting mortal images of mundane life. The dark man uttered the word: “Mimeses.” Philip heard the word and, now knew what it sounded like when properly pronounced in Greek. He continued his story with Carlo’s words of advice to Alphonse. “You must start where others failed. Don’t look for it where you can see the bones of much better young men than you gazing with empty eyes through broken helmets into the noon day sun, because no one dares bury them. And don’t blame Clara for sending them to their deaths; she only dimly knew what it was.” Alphonse asked, “Where would I go to find it? Would you have me pick the lock to the gates of hell?” Carlo filled the room with a great gale of laughter that seemed to encompass the room like the rush of wind before a summer thunderstorm. Then he came around the bar and put his arms
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around Alphonse’s boney shoulders and said, “You fool, the gates of hell are always open from the outside, it’s getting back out that’s the problem.” Alphonse asked in halting voice, “You mean to go into the underworld and hunt where the thing is real? Carlo how do you want me to do this? Do you have a trap door into hell in your basement?” Carlo laughed and said, “Hmm maybe that’s the reason I never go down there. No it’s not like that; I can give you a map to get you there without dying. But, if you succeed you must get back on your own, not an easy task with hungry ghosts down there thirsty for mortal blood.” Alphonse sadly spoke out lines from the great epic poem of all ages, The Odyssey, the lines that Achilles’s ghost said to Odysseus when he visited hell: “I would trade all my mortal glory and my great name and deeds for one more day of life on earth as a slave cleaning pigsties, I would trade all my glory, and my part in this great poem for that.” Philip stopped his story for a moment and someone brought him a large glass of a very strange drink, booze from the second half of the 20th century called Southern Comfort mixed mostly with water. There was some strange anachronism even now that nobody seemed able to explain, things like the spices that came back in ships from over the edge of the world or 1200 year old booze that tasted like it was made only seven years ago. Only Philip and the dark man drank it. It was his private stack that was kept under the bar of the Guild Hall Tavern. Other things survived but they were easier to explain like a poem surviving almost four thousand years and the books of the Bible a thousand more, and stories of rebel angles, with weapons forged in the fires of hell. But now Philip’s world was starting to ask questions about where things came from, and some wanted to market in weapons forged in the fires of hell, that would make their nations strike terror in the hearts of all others.
No Swearing? Fuck That Jake Everett
Undergraduate / Creative Writing A friend recently emailed me an article titled “Calif. community declares itself a cuss-free zone.” The article explains that the City Council in South Pasadena, California have made the first week in March “No Cussing Week” and those caught swearing could be “shamed into better behavior by … residents.” This, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit. You might ask why this is a bad thing. Why should people be allowed to swear? Why should I be allowed to scream FUCK at the top of my lungs if I so choose? The first response that should come to mind is “freedom of expression.” Sure, I don’t necessarily like hearing all the things that people say, but I’m happy that they have the freedom to say them. Who honestly believes that swearing is a big problem, anyway? Well, other than McKay Hatch, the sycophantic little prick that thought of the idea. Young Mr. Hatch is a 14 year old resident of South Pasadena, and apparently thought of the idea all by himself. Mr. Hatch states that his parents “always taught [him] good morals, good values, and not cussing was one of them.” My parents taught me the same, and I never heard either one of them swear until I was 17 or 18. I’m sure many parents are the same, and most of their kids grow up and start swearing. Why is this? Personally, I believe that humans need to swear. When I drop something heavy on my foot, I’m not going to say, “Oh, fudgesickles!” or “Rats!” More than likely, I’ll say something like “ASS FUCKING CUNTSMITH!” or something equally nonsensical and profanity laden. And you know what? I’ll feel better. Take, for instance, the Puritan societies of early America. They had laws against almost everything. What you can wear, what you can say, what you have to do on certain days, etc. By our standards, their societies were virtually crime free. By their standards, however, there were many problems. So even if we do get the world or just one society close to “perfect,” it would just cause us to crack down extremely hard on trivial problems. Supposing, for a moment, that we actually did do away with swearing, what would happen? Well, then words like shoot, darn, and dagnabit would be the new swear words. In a world with no shit, fuck, or goddamn, saying “darn” in a kindergarten class would earn you a reproaching look from the teach-
er. Humans will always be swearing in one way or another. There are simply some feelings that cannot be expressed without swearing. Let me give you an example. Suppose that you’re married, or are in a longterm relationship, and you live with your significant other. You come home one day, and find them in the throes of passion with another person. What would you say? “Hey, whatcha doing?” Almost certainly not. “What the heck!?” Doubtful. “What the hell!?” Maybe, but “hell” is considered swearing by some.
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“What the FUCK, bitch!?” Much more likely. Honestly, how can there be people in the world that are that stupid? h t t p : / / w w w. m s n b c . m s n . c o m / id/23499957/?GT1=43001
In Response to “Fuck the Starving Children in Africa” Julie Davis
Undergraduate / History Editors note: Fuck the Starving Children in Africa (But not literally; you might get AIDS) by Jake Everett appeared in the previous issue of The Flip Side. Let me start by saying that the main point of this article makes a good point, but the reasoning behind it is a bunch of bullshit and this IS something that people should care more about. I agree with the author that we, as Americans, live relatively privileged lives in comparison to many people around the world and for that very reason we should take full advantage of it. And the author is right in saying that just feeling bad for impoverished people won’t help make their lives better. But does that mean that we shouldn’t “give a flying fuck”? I can give you a whole list of reasons why people should care about this problem. For one, nothing will ever change if people don’t care. In fact constantly wasting food and other resources can only do more damage in the long run. And it’s not only in poorer regions of the world that this is happening, it’s everywhere. Think about this… As “perfect” as America may seem, there are plenty of people here that can’t afford food or a place to live or clothes to wear. These people are our neighbors, friends, family members, etc. And who supports them? We do. Our taxes provide welfare for under-class citizens who are unemployed and/or cannot provide for themselves. So for someone to say that they “don’t care
about starving children in America either” not only makes them sound like a really big dick but also contradicts their point, because even though they don’t care the government is still going to take their tax dollars each year and use them to help the greater good of the American people. Another thing I agree with from this article is that there are a lot of other terrible things going on in the world such as child labor and so on, but does that make starvation any less of a problem? Hell no. That’d be like saying your house is burning down, but since you just lost your business or your spouse just died it’s not really a big deal because you already have problems to deal with. If anything this only makes it worse because the more conflict there is the harder it is to make the world a better place to live for everyone. Just because “life sucks for a lot of people” doesn’t mean that they’re able to just “get the fuck over it.” Try saying that to a homeless person who doesn’t even have two dimes to rub together. Or a mother of a newborn that can’t afford to feed her baby (but then again who cares about children, “they’re small and have tiny brains.”) Does this mean that instead of doing something about it we should just accept that “the world is a shitty place”? Sure, nobody is going to force us to make changes that could improve living conditions around the world, but standing around and watching it happen and then writing bitching articles trying to justify it won’t help either. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s stupid to say that if we feel bad for
Reply to Julie Davis Jake Everett
Undergraduate / Creative Writing How exactly will “wasting food … do more damage in the long run?” I understand the “other resources” bit of that, but what harm am I doing when I throw away excess food? If I go to the store right now, buy a turkey, then immediately throw it away, what harm could that possibly do to anyone? None. Like I said before, throwing away food harms no one. Sure, it’s wasteful, but I’m an American, and sometimes I have shit to waste. You mention that since I pay taxes and have a blasé attitude towards the
starving, I look like a dick and I’m contradicting myself because taxes are used on welfare. First of all, I know that I’m a dick. I’m happy with that. Secondly, just because I pay taxes doesn’t mean that I agree with everything they’re used for. There are plenty of people in this country that disagree with the war, but they still pay their taxes. They do so, as I do, because they’d rather have their money spent on something they don’t approve of than go to prison. I think that’s a pretty simple idea. That’s all I have room for, but thanks for the reply.
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suffering people we should either get off our asses and do something about it quit crying about the world not being “a utopia.” For one, a lot of people can have sympathy for impoverished people but not enough to give away all their money and pack their bags and move to Africa to help them. That’d certainly be a direct and quite radical move, but don’t let the author convince you that’s the only way to help. We live in a country where it’s damn near impossible for a non-college educated person to find a steady job that can support a family. In America we are expected to seek higher education in order to make more money and live better lives. How are we supposed to help other people if we can’t first help ourselves? That’s the problem with telling someone to move to Africa instead of going to college and bitching at people for not eating all their food. If we don’t make an effort to improve life at home then we might end up living in poverty and giving birth to children who grow up in those underclass societies that apparently we shouldn’t give a shit about. So maybe the author is right-- just caring isn’t enough. But only caring about ourselves won’t help either. If people put less food on their plates and made an effort not to take more food than they feel like eating, little by little they would waste less. The trouble is, too many people just don’t care enough to support change. If people don’t start caring it will never get better because this isn’t a problem that will go away overnight.
In Defense of Vaginas: A response to “The Vagina Wrong-ologues” Casey Carroll
Undergraduate / Illustration I had a problem. I had just been skimming through the February 28 edition of The Spectator, where I had read Emily Hartwig’s scathing opinion piece on the recent performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and I was frustrated. For those not familiar with it, the play is a bold piece of writing that has the nerve to talk about female sexuality frankly and honestly when most of us have been cowed into silence, and to read someone denounce it in the name of “feminism” set off a deafening cacophony of warning sounds in my mind. But I had a problem. I hadn’t actually read the play. Oh I’d heard- of- it. I’d hear brief bits of it here and there, and read-about- it. I had a rough ballpark of what it was like. But I’d never actually sat down and read it. And to speak about a literary work, to debate about it without having read it is hard to pass off as anything but hypocrisy. If I wanted to write a rebuttal, I’d have to solve this. Luckily the local library was happy to help, and soon I was carrying my very own copy of the controversial play, which I took home and promptly devoured. In the copy I found the whole thing only works out to about a 125 pages; almost bite-sized. In an hour I was done. And blown away. Going into it, I had expected to be frustrated, despite my intention to defend the work. I had expected man-hating feminism, or sex-hating feminism, or intensely politically correct feminism to rear their heads. And then there were the words people seem to use so often when describing it: “Shocking,” “Unsettling,” “Disturbing.” Generally speaking, I have a pretty high tolerance for the weird. It takes a lot to shock me. But the words still made me nervous. Ultimately, I expected it to be a work I defended in principle, but was uncomfortable with in practice. Instead I found the experience was, if anything, rather soothing. There are wrenching and painful bits, to be sure, but on the whole it feels incredibly honest and hopeful. Ensler is far from toeing the brochure-dictated party line of feminism, and actually apologizes for this, or feigns to, several times throughout the book. “Whenever I have tried” she writes, “to write a monologue to serve a politically correct agenda, for example, it always fails.”The overwhelming sense I took away from the play is that it is not a work of at-
tack or even advocacy per-say. Rather, it’s a frank, thoughtful reflection by Ensler on sexuality: hers, and that of her gender. The Vagina Monologus she concludes in her introduction, “is about attraction, not promotion.” That anyone is deeply offended by this says as much, if not more, about them then about the author. On that note, back to Ms. Hartwig’s article. It’s clear from the onset that she is offended. “...this graphic play is merely an underhanded means to portray the serious problems of violence against women. Hiding behind humor does nothing to change the fact participants are degrading women to nothing more than their most intimate anatomy.” That last sentence was grabbed by The Spectator to be set up as a teaser, a box of large text embedded in the body of the article. And for good reason: it gives a good taste of the rest of the article. Hartwig goes on to take exception to several specific “skits” in the play (It’s broken up into various sections,) but consistently returns to this thesis: that Ensler is reducing women to their vaginas. (Interestingly, Hartwig never uses the word “vagina,” except when the play’s title forces her to, opting instead for “sexual organs” or “genitals.”) Having read the play, this charge seems patently absurd, and Hartwig’s determination in making it serves as a potent reminder of how easy it is for the best intentioned to tilt at windmills, missing the forest for the ideological trees. Ensler no more “reduces women to their sexual organs” than a guitar teacher “reduces” her students to their fingers. What she does do, however, is dare to admit something: that humans, and women specifically, are deeply sexual. Sex is a huge part of us humans: not just getting in bed and slapping together a bit, but all the feelings, all the thoughts, the hopes, fears, depression, exhilaration. It’s an incredibly potent, valuable thing. And the message of The Vagina Monologues, as I see it, is twofold. First, that sex is an incredibly powerful way to hurt someone, and that this has happened and continues to happen to far too many women, right here, right now, and that needs to stop. Thus V-day, thus the proceeds of the local performance being donated to the Bolton Refuge house. But second, (and sadly this seems to be far less popular than the first) is that sex is a good thing, an important thing that should be enjoyed, robustly and without shame or fear. And again, this doesn’t just mean slapping together on a bed (fun as that can be.) It means masturbation. And fantasy. And curiosity and exploration. It
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means breaking down a wall of oppression and repression so many of us, women and men, have been trapped behind for so long and finally starting to enjoy one of the most amazing parts of being human. Ensler mentions one woman she had interviewed, in her 70’s, who had never touched herself “with conscious intent.” Never masturbated. Seventy. Years. The tragedy of that gives one pause. “At 72” Ensler writes, “She went into therapy, and with the encouragement of her therapist, she went home one afternoon by herself, lit some candles, took a bath, played some comforting music, and discovered her vagina. She said it took her over an hour, because she was arthritic by then, but when she finally found her clitoris, she said, she cried.” Ensler isn’t asking her audience to define themselves by their sexuality, physical or otherwise. At least not entirely. What she is prodding them to do is acknowledge it, and its significance. And that is liberating, whatever your sex. Sublimely so. Are women really degraded by openly discussing their sexuality: the emotions, the thoughts, the actions, and yes, the anatomy? Or are they in fact degraded by being forced behind a veil of shamed silence, afraid that any truly open act of sexual expression or discussion will be viewed as an act of obscenity, or worse, treason against their fellow women? Ensler clearly feels the latter, and the Monologues are largely an attempt by her to tear away that veil. “There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them” she says of vaginas in the first skit, “like the Bermuda Triangle: no one ever reports back from there.” As a culture, we not only have a lurking fear of women (something feminists like Ensler are intimately aware of,) we have a deep-rooted fear of sex itself, a phobia going back centuries. Fully exploring that would be another article, if not a book, but suffice it to say that, far from degrading women, Ensler is fighting (or at least softly speaking into a mic) to liberate them, fighting, with knowledge, a fear that lives on silence. And I deeply admire her for it. As Garbage so succinctly sings, “Sex is not the enemy.” And neither are vaginas. Hartwig, Emily Rae. “The Vagina Wrongologues” The Spectator, February 28, 2008. Ensler, Eve. The Vagina Monologues. 2001.
A Wish for Wheels that Work Andy Eklof
“Smallish ball of rage” At the end of this last summer I lost my car, and thus my livelihood. An experimental hybrid prototype that ran largely off of my appreciation for Lindsay Lohan, it had been a lemon from the day I bought it, and after seeing I Know Who Killed Me, I could no longer manage to even make the engine turn over. This is the first time I have had to function without a car since my junior year of high school. I remember my first car; I had been so proud to be the owner of my own vehicle. My social studies teacher had asked me what I needed a car for, and I told him it was so I could commute to my job in the city. He had then asked me what I needed a job for, and I told him I needed the money to help pay for my car. He said, “Aah” and crossed his arms, as if he had proved some point somehow, but what did he know? I knew that there was more to owning a car than just work. A car was freedom; a ticket to the open roads of America so often praised by Jack Kerouac, Charles Kuralt, and Johnny Cash. At any moment all I needed was a full tank of gas and I could be on my way to my very own personal adventure in this great land of ours…assuming I didn’t have work the next day. My attitude towards automobiles has changed over the years, influenced by my own maturity and a rise in gas prices that makes filling one’s tank as expensive as actually cloning new dinosaurs for the sole purpose of killing them for more fossils. However I had continued to own a car throughout the years, and the sudden loss of my vehicular privilege left me stricken for weeks with an inconsolable grief. At the height of my sorrow I would stand out in my parking spot and weep openly, my tears landing on but never mixing with the oil spot my leaking engine case had left on the asphalt, like a dog marking its territory. But eventually this period of mourning passed, and I took the empty Kleenex boxes off my feet, showered, and began to adjust to this strange new world in which walking was my only source of propulsion. I had been aware of walking long distances as an alternative to driving, and had of course encountered people doing just
that. I would watch them on the sidewalk as I passed in my car, thinking how much more comfortable I was with my adjustable seat, fold-down armrest and cup holder. I had considered the practice to be like exercise or saving all your receipts; it was something I knew I was supposed to do, by who has the time? Now that I was on the other side of the windshield and had the time to do so (a five minute drive to work was now a thirty minute hike), I began to reflect more on what a bourgeois possession an automobile is. Without getting too technical, it’s basically a compartment in which you’re carried around like the lord of the land, only an engine does the work for you instead of horses or people whom you could whip as your sense of expediency, discipline and/ or sadism saw fit. And what’s this, no backseat to throw my garbage at? I’d have to wait until I came upon a trashcan?! Well no wonder so many people litter. But perhaps the worst loss I had to suffer was my right to road rage. If someone walking behind me walks around me without letting me know that they’re going to, it’s considered unseemly if I swear
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audibly. Not so in a car. Often on the highways (and sometimes on the byways) I would see a figure in another car thrashing in his seat and screaming to himself, and I would smile, because I knew the feeling, and I could empathize. Also, it meant he had seen the finger I raised expressly for his viewing after he had honked at me for not driving as fast as he thought I should in the passing lane. As I had lost the sense of freedom I saw in a car when I first became the owner of one, I had found a new freedom in road rage. Many people would say such rage is unhealthy, but they fail to see the pleasure it offers through release. Caged inside that moving windowed box, I could air my grievances to the public as candidly as the right-wing pundits on my AM radio, and it was accepted by my fellow grumbling motorists. Many of them were doing the same. I could take out and express my every disgust with the world around me while at the same time remaining separated from it. No wonder I felt so bourgeois. But now without my car, I find myself robbed of an isolated space in which
to fume in any socially acceptable manner. The little vein in my forehead that used to start throbbing around minute two of a seemingly endless stream of obscenities no longer throbs anymore and feels neglected. And God knows I’ve tried to spew an endless stream of obscenities at some trivial transgression against me as
I walk down the sidewalk, but it’s just not the same anymore. It’s too public, to open; it doesn’t seem as personal to me. I only end up feeling as silly as I must look to the drivers watching me as they pass.
Deaf Adam Liedl
Undergraduate / English I never heard him sing the same song twice. But I heard him sing. While I was working at my desk he would amble slowly about the house: through the kitchen and into the dining room, around the scattered chairs in the living room, down the hall into his cluttered room, past the shelves of books I’d never heard of. Once I thought of turning on the radio but then I would have to keep the volume low in order to hear him. They were ineffable, every single one of them. I hadn’t heard any of them. Songs like, “I am a lonesome moonshiner,” “Time passes slowly,” and, “Your hard luck hand.” He crooned with glee, spilling out the words like emptying a glass of water. Half the time there was no sense to be made in them. I don’t know if the songs were his creation or he had heard them someplace and it kills me. I asked him what he was singing once and he smiled. All lips, no teeth. His smile spoke to me. It said he would never let me in on the secret. It said he was overwhelmed with joy because of my benightment. It said I was low, and he was high. I realized then that he would never tell me what he sang. But as I studied his smile, with the edges of his lips drawing back, back into an increasingly wider smile, yet every inch of it loose, so loose he nearly became an animation, suddenly then my insides froze up quick and that loose smile twitched, subtly. I saw it all at once. He didn’t know! but he wanted me to think he knew. Similarly, he wanted me to think he had read all those books with the titles I had never heard. One late night as I rose from sleep to relieve myself he accosted me outside the bathroom, holding a leather bound book. “Blooming Paradise!” he shouted aggressively, brandishing the book as if to throw it into me. “Blooming Paradise you must read it,” announcing
this as a straight-forward fact of life. In this voice that boomed from every inch of his lungs to the last corner of the house he burst into a lengthy synopsis of the novel, covering characters, plot, symbolism. The latter subject was evidently the aspect of the novel he appreciated most. “But what else do these flowers growing healthily in the shade represent, may I ask you?” He was relentless, recollecting obscure details and quotes, meticulously combing through layer upon layer with fervent intensity. Yet his overly-confident tone of voice betrayed him: he was making it all up. I’ve since searched numerous libraries and bookstores in multiple states without a hint of the phantom novel’s existence. Once as I was editing an official document he entered my room and began a story. It started out believable enough, with him having a drink with a friend, and soon became utterly absurd --I refuse to put it into words here. Fabrications and lies, all of it. The worst of it was he thought it was such a hilarious story, and he smiled that ridiculous smile throughout. His lies would continue forever, I knew. I would hear them forever. I began to ignore him, and returned to searching the document for errors. Eventually, he left the room and I was there with just the silence and my work. After that he stopped telling stories, and I didn’t hear him singing as often. I concentrated on my work though at times I could hear him moving about the house. Soon he moved out and I believe he found an apartment on the north side of the city. I saw him several days ago, walking with a beautiful woman. He smiled and talked loudly as she focused intently on his face, laughing frequently. I wondered how she could gain such joy from a man of his sort.
March 12th - April 1st, 2008
Five Years Later
Undergraduate / Political Science Not too long ago I was watching Judy Shepard (Matthew Shepard’s mother) give a speech to a group of college students on C-Span. She spoke in a rather soft voice, maintained a great sense of humor, and had a very powerful message. Mrs. Shepard grew up in the ‘60s – the era of activism. She recounted how people of her generation stood side by side back then and were not afraid to speak out. She then mentioned how the people of her generation are now in charge and fucking everything up. Her message to the students was that our generation has every opportunity to get active and be as great as her generation was at one time. Looking at our time and her time, the parallels couldn’t be any more similar. In 1968 blacks and women were treated as second-class citizens, politicians were using the threat of communism as a way to scare voters in order to win elections, and we were fighting an unjust war in Vietnam. Forty years late we can see the similarities. Gays are being treated as second-class citizens, politicians are using the threat of terrorism as a way to scare voters in order to win elections, and we are fighting an unjust war in Iraq. This war has gone on for five years now. When will it stop? To give you all a sense of what the past five years have been like, here is a brief chronology of the war: First, we were lied to. The president told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al-Qaeda. Luckily for the president, most of the country was still in post-9/11 panic mode, so he was able to manipulate most of the public and Congress for support to go to war. Second, we
rushed into war forgoing any diplomatic efforts. Two days after Bush threatened Saddam to leave Iraq, he launched the Shock and Awe campaign, killing several civilians in the process. Third, Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” two and a half months into the war. Saddam had not been captured at this time, and not only that, we’re still there. Fourth, Bush won the 2004 election by using political scare tactics to get reelected. Fifth, the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 but failed to bring the troops home after backing down to the president’s stubbornness. Sixth, the Patraeus Report came out last September, published by the White House. The report said that the Iraqi government would need to take responsibility, but didn’t give any clear indication if the troops should have been brought home. When questioned by Senator John Warner R-VA,( that’s right, a REPUBLICAN) if his proposed plan would make America safer, General Petraeus simply replied, “I don’t know.” Seventh, we were lied to again. Last fall the Bush Administration claimed that the troop levels in Iraq would be reduced by 30,000, but just a couple of weeks ago they said that they would go back on their original plan and not bring any home. So here we are now. Iraq finds itself in a civil war despite being free from Saddam’s dictatorship. The government under al-Maliki is working inefficiently to meet benchmarks. Capitalist interests of companies such as Haliburton and Blackwater are still being protected despite what the Bush Administration wants us to believe. More than 80,000 Iraqi civilians have died, which is 27 times the magnitude of 9/11. Oil is up to $103 per barrel, so the whole notion of going to war to lower our gas prices is complete bullshit. Our mili-
Undergraduate / History As I sit down with my egg and bean paste baked goods and take a look around I can’t help but see the similarities with an American-style bakery – hot coffee, sweet pastries, friends talking and reading the paper. Then again, I can’t help but no-
tice the differences as well. After all, none of those papers are in English. The TV is playing what appears to be a historical drama, but again, I can’t be totally sure and many of the store’s advertisements are written in characters of which I only have a vague idea of the meaning. The café is bustling with activity. Customers stream in and out, some of
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tary has been exhausted by fighting a war on a second front. We are in an endless cycle of troop surges that keep producing unconvincing results. Some of our troops have received horrid medical treatment at Walter Reed. Al-Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan and intelligence reports say that it is close to being as strong as it was before they attacked us six and a half years ago, while the Bush Administration claims that Iraq is central to the War on Terror (different from the Iraq war.) We are $9 trillion in debt when that money could have gone to universal health care programs, funding for education, or tightening our border security. And last, but certainly not least, nearly 4,000 of our troops have lost their lives, and for what? Surely, this is an atrocity. I expect more from our elected officials, but I also expect more from us. What have we, the people, done about it? Is this what we want to see our tax dollars spent on? Is this what we want to see happen to our troops? Are we just going to sit on our asses and let the president get away with this? As Judy Shepard has told us, we have every opportunity to get active, but most of us, myself included, spend most of our time not doing a damn thing about it. For those of you reading this, you will take action if you really feel strongly about this issue. Write to your elected officials, start a grassroots organization, join in on a protest (much like the one we’re having tomorrow,)get out and vote for the presidential candidate who you think will lead us out of the war, do anything to let our national leaders know that enough is enough. We have every opportunity to stand up and try to accomplish something. So why don’t we? There are 314 days left until the end of an error.
them taking a table and others just getting what they need and heading back out. Four women handle a rush of orders while, at the same time, making trips back and forth between the kitchen carrying pans of various different baked goods. I was in Chicago for an interview, but the trip wasn’t all work; I made sure to have fun along the way. I’ve taken a few trips to
Chicago before, but this was my first time actually staying in Chinatown. It was an excellent experience and it inspired me to write this article with a message to you. Next time you’re in Chicago, don’t miss Chinatown. I was fortunate enough to have a hotel in the area, (aptly named Hotel Chinatown,) and was able to use it as my vantage point for exploration. Because I was there on other business, I was only able to explore a small area of the town within a city. But even this was enough to make a great impression. I love Chicago and relish every opportunity I have to visit. For such a large city, it’s surprisingly easy to find your way around. Although I drove both previous times, I would recommend coming by some form of public transport; especially if you’re staying for more than a few days and will be in a hotel. Two reasons for this are the ease of finding your way around with public transport and the cost of public parking. I guarantee parking for just two days will cost around $50 dollars. If you factor parking into your travel plans, I’m sure you’ll find that taking the Greyhound or Amtrak would be just as cost effective, especially if you plan ahead. When you look for a hotel, have standards but try not to be too roped in by some of the reviews online. I noticed some people complained about Hotel Chinatown’s lack of enforcement on its no-smoking policy – not something that was going to frighten me into paying $250 dollars for any of the “higher-class” hotels I’m sure they would have recommended. I’ve stayed in a fair amount of hotels in Europe, Japan, and around the U.S. and my room at Hotel Chinatown falls somewhere in the middle of my hotel ranking scale. In other words, it was just fine. It’s a hotel after all, and how much time do you really plan on spending there? If it’s comfortable, clean, and has working toiletries, you’re set. As a good travel policy, I like to think that as little time as possible should be spent in the hotel – you should be out there exploring, meeting people and, as Jack Kerouac would say, digging the vibes of the city! Across from Hotel Chinatown is an excellent seafood restaurant. Because my time in the city was short, I had no way to check out the vast amount of restaurants and I’m sure that many locals would give you different recommendations about
their favorite places to eat. However, this particular seafood restaurant was full of customers, both Chinese and American, the staff was friendly and accommodating, the prices were reasonable, and the food was great. I also recommend stopping into any of the number of Chinese bakeries – they are especially good for breakfast or for snacks. If you’ve never had the sesame ball rice cakes stuffed with either sweet potato or bean paste, you are in for a treat. And please, please don’t go directly for something that is familiar to you and American culture. This might be as close to China as we can get here in the Midwest, so step out of your comfort zone and try something new and interesting! Even if you’re not staying right next
to Chinatown, getting there is still convenient. The L’s red line runs right through it and, in about 15 minutes, you can leave the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue for an entirely different experience. There are lots of great things to see and do in Chicago, and yes, there are other things besides shopping for a new Coach purse or Armani sweater. And if you’re feeling hungry, try to avoid the regular fast food joints, (alright so we don’t have a Dunkin Donuts in Eau Claire but, allow me to ruin the surprise – sugar infused donuts, so-so coffee.) If you want something authentic and out of the ordinary, try stopping into Chinatown; you won’t be disappointed.
Phun with Groins and Poetry Nate Brown
Undergraduate / Accounting My pen is empty No thoughts flow through Splattering upon the pages Exhausted and unused Neglected and abused My pen is empty...again
Undergraduate/Creative Writing If the pen is empty dip it in the ink well to revitalize it. But caution: is the well yours, or communal?
So pencil I use too form these philosophies Born of hard Wood With graphite Shafts How empty my pen is.
Communal wells are often let uncorked for instantaneous use for all. Too soon the well is spent left dry and caked over.
Comical dismissal My Tuesday night sat beside my books My lovers weep tears They weep for how empty my pen is.
Sometimes the pen is using too many colors at once. Swirling and blurring each unique, separate color is vague.
Last, forgone dreams trickle, then Drown my sight Women so beautiful, intelligent, bright Alas my studies hold fast My brain thinks first While My Pen thinks last.
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If the pen is thinking last maybe that’s better for the brain can think firstly of which ink fits it the best.
Local Residents Astounded by Random Appearance of Legendary Gunslinger
A discussion on the startling shortage of Ol’ West that plagues our nation today Michael Seaholm
Undergraduate / Computer Science In today’s fast paced world, it is difficult to imagine what life was like before we had the ability to overcome our problems solely with explosives. During the era of the American West around 150 years ago, people couldn’t rely on such modern methods of problem solving. Also, water didn’t exist back then. Obviously, this made living in the Old West an arduous task, compounded by the lawlessness and lack of Wal-Marts that pervaded the land. In this article, I hope to detail the more interesting aspects of the Old West and explain exactly how the unsettling gore and posse-related justice system relate to the present day (Hint: with the sole exception of Texas, they don’t.) Possibly the most accurate depiction of life in the Old West can be found in the popular historical documentary The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. In this classic film, it is revealed that there were only three available occupations: shopkeeper, disillusioned Civil War soldier, and desperado. By some strange coincidence, all three of the titular characters are gun-slinging badasses, fighting each other in order to obtain a hidden cache of gold worth $27 (equivalent to just over $12 million today). The two main characters, played by Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, demonstrate the most prolific sport of the day: hat shooting. Whenever a disagreement arose in the West, the person who could randomly shoot someone’s hat off their head first was considered the winner. This has since evolved into modern foreign policy, except today the hats have been replaced by terrorists. Obviously, there came a point where you could shoot a million hats off of a person (which may have happened throughout the course of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) and still disagree with them. This is why the gunfight was invented and extensively used by the people of the time to settle bitter blood feuds. A good example of this is the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral, featuring the legendary Wyatt Earp who, judging by his name, hailed from the planet Kerbloney. The story itself is none too extraordinary – the three Earp brothers and Doc Holliday fought and won against the Clantons and the McLaurys – but for some reason it became the most notable gunfight in the
Brian Gilman history of the Old West, probably because it was the kind of old school tale that grandfathers could exaggerate and tell to their grandkids “Well, let me tell you a little story about a half-man, half-god named Wyatt Earp, who shot a hundred men with half a bullet. As the story goes, the other half travelled in time and struck Archduke Ferdinand, thus inciting World
The Flip Side
War I. Also, I seem to recall he was an alien of some sort.” Nowadays, the closest thing to the gunslingers of legend is a handful of 60year-old guys that I saw do some exhibition shooting on the History Channel. In spite of this, the public consciousness has not yet given up on the idea of the guntastic lawman. Unfortunately, this
idea has been partially bastardized by the inclusion of cowboys, who were merely workers at cattle ranches and weren’t involved in life-or-death scuffles on a daily basis. I fully realize that by saying this, the state of Texas will exile me, but that’s the sort of risk you have to take when you’re a professional journalist. As I was saying, the fictional cowboys that we know and love today are stealing the thunder of fictional gunmen, often in the form of fanciful paperback novels. These books, however, have begun to drift into the dubious territory of “romance-Westerns,” in which such lines as “Harvey stiffened as the seductive barmaid tenderly caressed the barrel of his revolver.” are not uncommon. Luckily, more serious literary works
glorifying the peoples of the Old West have been published. A good example of this can be found in Stephen “Effin’” King’s Dark Tower saga, starring a gunslinger named Roland who is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood (see the above section about badassery in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for more information). The series is rather long, spanning over 200 volumes of writing in the classic King storytelling style, which means that along the way someone is going to be eaten by a ghost or something. The main character Roland spends most of the series trying to get to the eponymous tower, although to be honest with you I’ve only read the first two books and I am not sure how long it will take him to find the tower. Hell, I barely know the purpose of the Dark
Tower; it might have been built to attract tourists, for all I know. At any rate, the American West continues to live on in our collective minds. Even though we have long since abolished or forgotten about the values of the Old West (such as living in the desert and hanging people,) we still remember those days as a significant period in American history. So the next time you put your grandkids on your knee, be sure to regale them with tales of the larger-than-life men and women who could only survive the harsh conditions in the West through repeated gunshots. Remind them of the glorious freedoms we have in our nation today and how we continue to strive for excellence by developing new and better ways of exploding things.
An Uncomfortable Disscusion
Undergraduate / Latin American Studies and Political Science There are times in every person’s life where she runs into a social setting in which she feels at odds with the people around her. I’ve been living in Mexico for a little over two months, and I have found myself in uncomfortable situations from time to time. Most of these are in public places—on the buses, in the city center, at the market. With my northern-European stature and utter whiteness (I once convinced an ignorant person that I’m albino) I certainly stand out in your average Mexican crowd. First of all, I am seen as someone who has money. Understand this: Mexican society is not quite like the society of the United States when it comes to concepts of race and socio-economic status. In Mexico, there seems to be a general assumption, which in many cases is based on reality-- that the lighter your skin is, the higher your family’s income is. So by default, my blonde hair and blue eyes peg me as a rich girl. There is nothing that I can do to fight this perception; I’ve given up trying. When I’m standing at the bus stop, it is inevitable that passing taxis will try to solicit their services to me; they assume that I am rich and therefore could not really be waiting for a bus. Secondly, because I am a white girl who rides the bus and therefore a rarity, my presence at times throws off the other patrons. Men whistle and call to me, asking me for my name and number. Women
give me looks which vary from scorn to jealousy. Young children stare in awe or tug on their parents’ clothes and point; I’m probably the whitest person they’ve ever seen. I’m okay with this. I know I’m different than a vast majority of the four million people in this city; this simple demographic fact is not going to change anytime soon. After all, I anticipated all of this when I came here—but, it still has led to some realizations I didn’t expect. Take, for example, my friend Marco. He goes to school with me, and unlike many of the students at our private and expensive school, is very dark skinned. In fact, his dark appearance is uncommon for the city in general, and so he especially stands out among the students of my institution. The point is this: the first time I met him, he was introduced to me by his nickname: “Negro.” “What??” I incredulously asked for a repeat, only to hear the startling confirmation; yes, it really was “Negro.” He and his friends laughed as they could not fathom why this surprised me; the importance of racial appearances is so deeply engrained into Mexican culture that it is not unusual to speak of them (or joke of them) in public. This is a sharp contrast to what I’m used to in the United States; there, no one talks of race. Or at least, very few. Most people either seem to not notice it or not want to notice it, and non-discrimination laws are old news. It seems like the only appropriate forums for racial commentaries are in the lands of television sitcoms and academia—both comfortably removed from “real life.” Here in Mexico,
March 12th - April 1st, 2008
race is still paid attention to—and most people seem pretty darn comfortable talking about it. For example, because I’m from the U.S., the topic of the current presidential race commonly comes up when I am talking with my classmates. A vast majority of them, when asked which candidate they support, respond “Hillary Clinton,” without a second of hesitation. This seems to make sense; after all, her husband Bill Clinton did sign NAFTA, which gives Mexicans in general (and especially in the Northern part of the country) a fond recollection when they hear the Clinton name. But this is rarely brought up. Instead, when I state that I support Obama, I am questioned, “But, could a black man be president of the United States?” It amazes me that while they are comfortable with a female state leader (after all, Chile has Michelle Bachelet, and Argentina now has Cristina Fernandez,) they are not comfortable with a male leader who is not phenotypically congruent with the presidential status quo. I have to admit, I’m still not completely comfortable with the Mexican take on race, but at least I’m starting to understand. I guess the next hurdle will be whether I choose to “do as the Romans do” or keep fighting a losing battle of racial respect. Betsy Lorenz is studying abroad in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México this semester, and writing about her experiences for The Flip Side.
So Why Don’t You Kill Me? Paydon Miller
Undergraduate / Print Journalism Euthanasia. Doctor assisted suicide. Not many words can conjure such negative images: Hitler, Mengele, Kevorkian. The idea of a doctor assisting someone to end their own life disgusts people. It’s against God, against common decency, and against the entire “life is beautiful” concept that Disney movies have driven into our skull. The fact is the preconceptions and laws concerning a person’s right to death are filled with double standards and half truths. I’m here to tell you why you should let a doctor kill you one day, as well as understand that the Right to Death laws will help this country immensely. First, we’ll discuss what the definition of euthanasia is. The dictionary definition says “1. Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition. 2. Painless Death.” In layman’s terms, euthanasia is a doctor or other medical professional administering some kind of shot or pill that will cause a terminal patient to slip into a state of coma, then eventually to die. Euthanasia is NOT cutting off a patient’s IV line against their will. It is NOT taking a person in the back of your van and injecting air into their veins. It is NOT making a decision without the patient’s approval that their life is not worth living. Euthanasia is NOT barbaric, cruel, or murder. Euthanasia, in its truest form, is the ultimate act of bravery. It is saying that rather than withering away and suffering from a terminal illness for years, that one chooses to go out on one’s own terms. Don’t you dare confuse euthanasia with the Holocaust or any other kind of genocide like the anti-euthanasia groups try to. That was murder. Euthanasia is not. Now that we have THAT out of the way. We’ll take a look at this first from a logical standpoint. We, as humans, widely consider ourselves to be the head of animal kingdom. We can build computers and automobiles. Hell, we made the Krispy Kreme. We pride ourselves on rising above our animalistic instincts and being logical, intelligent human beings. “Putting a dog
down” is considered an act of mercy. The dog in question had no say in the matter. We, as the master species, decided that the dog’s life was no longer worth living, so we euthanized it. But, come a grown human adult who wants to die, we look upon it with disdain. This person, who has presumably been more than capable of running their own life until this point, is told that they must suffer because we decided they can’t die. God doesn’t like it. That’s beyond a double standard. We, as humans, can choose when our pet’s lives end, but not our own? Is that to say that we own our pets, but not our own body? Furthermore, with the anti-euthanasia laws in place right now, we are allowing the government to intervene in our lives. We allow politicians to deny us the ultimate freedom we possess: the ability to decide what happens to our lives. Last time I checked, we as Americans don’t like government meddling in our day to day lives, especially when it comes to our bodies. Now, we’ll look at the legal reasons. If you, kind reader of The Flip Side, are prochoice, you must be pro-Right to Death. You may not like it, but it’s true. Being pro-choice is to say that a person has a right to their own body. However, with that right comes the idea that the law cannot pick and choose when someone does or does not have that right. You either have that right or you don’t. There is no in between. If a woman can get liposuction, they can euthanize themselves. If a man can have a vasectomy, they can euthanize themselves. Any stance other than that is bending a right to your own meaning. It’s bastardizing what that right was built on. The precedent has been set. The great state of Oregon, where I hope to live one day based on this law alone, allows euthanasia, passing the Death with Dignity law in 1997. The law states that patients requesting euthanasia must meet a group of benchmarks before being considered for the process. The benchmarks are fairly simple: the patient must have six or less months to live, they must be of sound mind, they must have a legal will, it must be a voluntary decision, and they must inform their closest living relative of their decision. The craziest thing of all this: by the end of 2004, only 204 people have used it. That’s only 26 people per year. That’s one seventh of one percent of
The Flip Side
the deaths in Oregon in that time. Passing this law, as shown in Oregon, will not cause widespread death of the elderly or any kind of mass killing as some anti-euthanasia groups would have you believe. The numbers are not the issue here, however. It’s the fact that terminal patients know that the option is there. According to a study done by a religious tolerance group, 92 percent of patients who used the Death with Dignity law did it because they did not have the ability to participate in the activities they enjoyed. Another 78 percent said they did it because they had or were “los[ing] their dignity.” This law is used as a way to allow patients to save themselves both their dignity and their happiness in their last days. It is not being used as a form of murder, but as a cure to months of suffering. Such laws are being passed worldwide. According to finalexit.org, one of the world’s leading Right To Death advocacy groups, Japan legalized euthanasia in 1962. The Scandinavian countries have no law forbidding it, and many physicians will only help with euthanasia after the terminal patient is filmed saying that he or she wishes to die. Prosecutors in these countries do not prosecute physicians who have attained such evidence and there has never been one murder case that came from euthanasia. The Netherlands has a law permitting euthanasia to be practiced with a license. My proposal is this: a federal euthanasia law is needed soon. As grisly as it sounds, if a person wants to die, they’ll find a way. I propose a federal law that combines the best aspects of all the laws worldwide, saying that if the following benchmarks are met, specifically registered doctors be allowed to end the life of the patient in a peaceful, humane manner. 1. The patient has been diagnosed by two different physicians who have had no contact with each other prior to their examinations. 2. The patient is of sound mind. 3. The patient has a legal will. 4. The patient has informed both next of kin (if any) and their second closest living relative. 5. The patient requests the euthanasia in both film and writing. 6. There is a fourteen day waiting period where the patient may change his or
her mind 7. The patient must be informed of other options of care, i.e. medication, surgery 8. The doctor is sanctioned by the American Medical Association to perform euthanasia. As a person who feels very strongly about a person’s civil rights and their infallibility, I honestly have difficulty understanding someone opposing this law, outside of the religious sect. All I know is that if I had terminal brain cancer, even if I were to decide not to end my life, I would take great comfort in knowing that I could end it relatively quickly. If at any point the pain becomes too much or I lose my ability to take care of myself, I would not hesitate to end my life. If there wasn’t a euthanasia law where I lived, it would just be with a gun. That I could buy. Legally. This isn’t something I’m saying for effect. This is something I truly believe in. Euthanasia is not an act of cowardice. It is standing up, realizing that your life will be over soon, and accepting it with a bravery I can only pray I will one day possess. I will leave you with a quote from John Shelby Spong, who was a Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark: “The right to a good death is a basic human freedom. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold aid in dying allows us to view and act on death as a dignified moral and godly choice for those suffering with terminal illnesses.”
Solution on next page
Oregon’s Death With Dignity Report: http://www.leg.state. vt.us/reports/05Death/Death_With_Dignity_Report.htm Religious Tolerance.org’s Euthanasia Report http://www.religioustolerance.org/euth_us1.htm www.finalexit.org
March 12th - April 1st, 2008
7 p.m. – Flip Side Meeting, Wisconsin Room, Davies Center 7 - 8 p.m. – Planetarium Program: More Than Meets the Eye – Planetarium, Phillips Science Hall 7 - 8 p.m. – “Ask a Scientist”: Nanotechnology – Acoustic Café
Wednesday, March 26th
Wednesday, March 12th 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Viennese Ball: Gown Sale – Oneida Room, Davies Center – Low Prices 5 - 6 p.m. – SWATeam Women’s Health Series: Screening of “The Defenders: A History of the Birth Control Movement in WI” – Arrowhead Room, Davies Center
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center 7 p.m. – Campus Kitchens Info Session – Higherground, Crest Wellness Center
Thursday, March 27th 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. & 6-8 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center 12 noon & 5 p.m. – Campus Kitchens Info Session – Tamarack Room, Davies Center
8 p.m. – Jazz at Night – The Cabin, Davies Center
Thursday, March 13th 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. & 6-8 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center
6 - 8:30 p.m. – Campus Film: This is England – Davies Theater - Tickets available at the Davies Center Service Desk or at the door – $1
11:20 a.m. - Anti-War Protest - Haas Fine Arts Center
7 - 9 p.m. – Poetry Slam - Acoustic Café
7 - 9 p.m. – Open Mic Night - Acoustic Café
7:30 p.m. – Artist Series: Nnenna Freelon – Zorn Arena – Tickets available at the Service Desk, Davies Center
Friday, March 14th 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center 7 - 10 p.m. – Fifth & Fountain - Acoustic Café
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center 6 - 8:30 p.m. – Campus Film: This is England – Davies Theater - Tickets available at the Davies Center Service Desk or at the door – $1
Saturday, March 15th 7 - 10 p.m. – Nick Seeger & Family - Acoustic Café
Monday, March 17th 5:30 - 9 p.m. – St. Patrick’s Day Celebration - Acoustic Café
Thursday, March 20th
7 p.m. – UAC Concerts: SKAFEST 13 – Featuring Something to Do, Catch of the Day, Manic Sewing Circle, Offend Your Friends, and Car Full of Midgets – Council Fire Room, Davies Center – Tickets available at Davies Service Desk, or at the door – $5, $3 with student ID 7 - 10 p.m. – The Delivery Boys (Unplugged) - Acoustic Café
7 - 9 p.m. – Cranes & Crows - Acoustic Café
8 p.m. – UAC Cabin Local Talent: Shane Leonard – The Cabin, Davies Center
Friday, March 21st
10 p.m. – Live Hip-Hop Event: Duce Duce Entertainment – Higherground, Crest Wellness Center – $4
7 - 10 p.m. – Zachary Scot Johnson - Acoustic Café
Saturday, March 22nd
Saturday, March 29th
7 - 10 p.m. – Casey & Joe - Acoustic Café
11 a.m. - 12 noon – Planetarium Program: Larry Cat in Space – Planetarium, Phillips Science Hall
Tuesday, March 25th 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center
Friday, March 28th
1 - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center
The Flip Side
6 - 8:30 p.m. – Campus Film: This is England – Davies Theater - Tickets available at the Davies Center Service Desk or at the door – $1 7 - 10 p.m. – Mike Swenson - Acoustic Café 8 p.m. – UAC Cabin Local Talent: The Crying Eyeballs – The Cabin, Davies Center 10 p.m. – SRI Concert: Featuring International Espionage, Ska’tTsmen, and The Dunderchiefs - Higherground, Crest Wellness Center
Sunday, March 30th 1 - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts 6 - 8:30 p.m. – Campus Film: This is England – Davies Theater - Tickets available at the Davies Center Service Desk or at the door – $1
Monday, March 31st 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. – New Orleans Artists in Exile – Foster Gallery, Haas Fine Arts Center
Tuesday, April 1st 12 noon – UAC Cabin: Classical Cabin Fever – The Cabin, Davies Center 7 - 8 p.m. – Planetarium Program: The Stargazer – Planetarium, Phillips Science Hall
Submit Your Events! To better serve our readers, all Student Organizations, Departments, Students, Faculty, Staff, and Community Members are welcome to submit events or activities for inclusion into our calendar for FREE. The deadline for events in the next issue is Mar. 27th Send events to Phil Kolas at: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 12th - April 1st, 2008