It’s Okay to Not Know What You’re Doing

This fall, I should be a college senior.  I should be applying to grad schools and counting down the days to graduation.  I should be nearly done with a bachelor’s degree– as I promptly started college the fall after graduating high school.

Instead, I’ll be a junior–on paper, at least.  Realistically it will take me 3 years to get my bachelor’s degree.

But that’s okay, because now I am 100% sure of what I want to do.

When I graduated high school, I had no direction.  What kind of 18 year old knows exactly what they want to major in and what kind of career they want to pursue?

None of us.  I mean it–nobody knows at 18 what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

If you think you do, then cool! Pursue it.  But don’t be surprised when you change your mind in a couple of semesters– and when you do, it’s okay.

Life isn’t a race and college isn’t a competition that you need to win.  The important thing is to take your time and learn what you like.

Explore different areas of study.

Think meaningfully about how you want to spend your life.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged.

Don’t stress out about your major or career, and don’t feel like you need a plan on day one– because you don’t.

Had I pursued the major I declared when I was 18, I would currently be underemployed and unhappy.  My major and career wouldn’t challenge me, and I’d be in debt to an education I wouldn’t value.

At 21, I’m starting over.  I’ve decided what I want to do, and I’m ready to pursue it.

So if at 18 you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry about it.  You will figure it out, so don’t put a timeline on yourself.

It’s okay to start college undecided.

It’s okay to not know what you’re doing.


Trump: America’s Hitler

There have been, since early fall, a number of comparisons made between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler– and in response, a number of defenses against this assertion.

Opinions aside, you can’t refute the facts (unless, of course, you’re Kellyanne Conway), so let’s explore Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1930’s:

Germany in the 1930’s was a dismal picture.  The country had just bitterly lost WWI and was forced to pay enormous reparations for its role in the conflict.  These reparations swiftly devalued the Deutsche mark and caused a period of devastating economic decline.  Germans had lost faith in the government and were seeking elsewhere for salvation; enter Adolf Hitler.

Hitler ran for president in the 1932 election and was resisted vehemently by the German establishment– only fueling anti-establishment Germans’ support for him.  Though he lost the election (by 16.2%) he was appointed chancellor in 1933– and with the president’s death in August of 1934, Hitler assumed his new position of Fuhrer.

Hitler garnered support for the Nazi party on the premise that he would “make Germany great again,” a promise which resonated with a struggling people.  Hitler’s platform included a few major points which may sound familiar:

  • A “war” against establishment politics
  • An immigration freeze (i.e., no aliens, no refugees)
  • Press censorship if the printed word defames the Reich or population
  • Freedom of religion as long as it doesn’t offend the German moral

At this point it’s absurd to disregard the parallels between Hitler’s assumption of power and Trump’s.  Both men took advantage of a rightfully defeated people to realize their own agenda.

Make no mistake, Donald Trump’s near immediate censorship of national agencies and media outlets alike, his blatant disregard for facts (bonus: his claim to the authority to rewrite fact) and his intent to keep all of his campaign promises is the beginning of a Fascist America.

It is inadmissible for Americans to sit by in silence as we watch a play we’ve seen before. Nazi Germany didn’t plan on being Nazi Germany– their failure was recognition.  If we can recognize the Trump administration for being what it is, maybe we can save ourselves.


Manufacturing Job Aren’t Going Overseas; They’re Becoming Obsolete

The office of Donald Trump, as well as millions of blue collar workers across the country, are screaming for a revival of the blue collar job force.  Families that have worked in industry for generations are seeing their local plants and mines shut down en masse, and they’re angry– rightfully so, I might add.

Trump and his cabinet have now officially proclaimed their intent to bring back manufacturing jobs and  revitalize the coal industry.  A move such as this would help all of those pissed off heartland Americans who feel their voices are going ignored and their struggles discounted.


Well, not really.

The reason that the United States has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 has very little to do with international trade deals, and very much to do with the pending obsolescence of those very jobs.

The first industrial revolution boasted a great American progress.  Manufacturing was the newest industry, and human labor was the latest technology.  American factories employed the vast majority of the urban population– a tradition to be clung to for the next 100 years in the United States.

It could be asserted that the second industrial revolution is already well underway, as conservative projections land the portion of manufacturing tasks performed by robots at 25% by 2025.  Growing automation in manufacturing has largely made human employees outmoded.  Why hire 100 men to do the work that 15 robots could do faster and with less error?  From a business standpoint, it only makes sense to carry out all manufacturing automatically– a fact of which Donald Trump, a businessman, should be well aware.

That’s not to say that Trump’s administration won’t create new manufacturing jobs for Americans, because they very well may.  To create manual manufacturing jobs, however, is only putting a band-aid on the employment problem.

A sustainable, long term plan would include affordable tech education– be it certificates or college degrees– that would allow those robbed of their manufacturing jobs to learn the new trade.

Maybe it’s time for a new revolution, wherein American workers are leading in tech development rather than being robbed of their jobs by that very tech.

The bottom line is that somebody, somewhere is going to be developing this new technology.  If the American people and government refuse to adapt, it is almost guaranteed that we as a nation will be left behind as the rest of the developed world progresses.


An Open Letter to the Woman Who Rejects Feminism

I’d like to preface this piece with the Webster definition of the word feminism:

feminism (n.)

  1. 1:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  2. 2:  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

So now that we’ve got that established, I’m going to take a moment to address all my sisters out there who, for some unfathomable reason, reject feminism:

What the fuck is wrong with you?

I mean really, girl to girl, I’d like to understand what’s going on in your brain when you post inflammatory anti-feminist rhetoric on social media and slam feminist movements at family gatherings.

Do you really not care about your future? Your daughter’s future?

Do you want to live in a world where 1 in 6 American women will become a victim of rape?

Do you want to raise your daughter in a world where she will make 78 cents to the man’s dollar?

Are you really okay with having an admitted sexual assailant as our President?

The problem here is that your world is also my world.  Your daughter will know my daughter.  I’m not okay with normalizing sexual assault.

So, since we share this world– and our daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters will also share this world– I’m going to have to kindly ask you to pull your head out of your ass.

For you to be against feminism tells me that you don’t know what feminism means.

Feminism doesn’t mean hating men, refusing to shave, and burning our bras.

Feminism does mean a drive for equal rights for men and women of all races, socioeconomic statuses, political preference, and religion.  Feminism means promoting equality for all people.  Feminism means building a world that you and I and everyone else are proud to be in.

So take a break from shitting on the “feminazis” and maybe try to see where we are coming from. We aren’t trying to hurt you or anyone you know.  We make a valid point, and even if you don’t come around, we aren’t going to stop.


A Little Pissed Off

The Sun Always Rises

I’m content with how I’ve lived it. It’s been interesting to see it happen, live, as it happened, as it’s happening still. Some ups, some downs, excitement, boredom, interesting, and boring. Just life. I’ve always lived life with the intent of eventually telling a story. I’ve always, or at least often, tried to pay close attention to even the most mundane of events with the purpose of telling that moment’s unique story. Beautiful moments in time are not always significant at all. Some happen in the half moments between breaths, when we least expect them.

Like that 12 seconds when that cloud had that little bit hanging off one side that was shaped exactly like my dad’s smile. To learn how to recognize that blink of a moment for what it is, when and where it is, is the power of time travel. That cloud smiling at me with my father’s smile floated above a camel-shaped rock on a winter day in early December. 1990? 1991? I went there hoping for an earthquake but not expecting an earthquake. I remember standing there, looking up. Recording. Someone on my left that I don’t remember passed me a joint that hit and passed to my right. To another someone that I don’t remember. You might remember that same moment on that same day except you were somewhere else living it differently. I remember mine because I made a conscious decision to keep it.

I’ve missed many moments because I wasn’t trying. I have long stretches of time with almost no memories at all. I’m sure they are there, filed away with all the rest, just not relevant enough to recall. I can close my eyes and see virtually every square inch of a 3 acre farm I lived on from 2nd grade until 6th. I cannot remember the exact layout of a 1 bedroom apartment in lived for a year as an early 20-something adult. I know the name of a truck driver who picked up my then-future-wife and myself while hitchhiking and driving us across several states. I don’t remember my neighbor’s name even after four years.

Early in the pre-dawn morning of July 4th,1994 I was driving east through Missouri on interstate 70. I had driven long into the night before with little rest before. To promote wakefulness I had taken a healthy, but not at all heroic, dose of LSD under the assumption that my shift driving would soon be over. Long before the acid really took hold of my mind I would be a passenger instead of pilot. I knew that I would be soon driving into an amazing technicolor great plains sunrise so my internal memory backups running. Any new day’s longest hour is the night’s last. The sky began to lighten almost imperceptibly. The sky just barely evident and separate from the shadowed earth, but only only under concentrated observation. In the dark along the roadside I saw the glint of eyes that I thought might be deer. I saw shadows of bushes that startled my exhausted brain. Several times I swerved away from what appeared to be animals bolting in front of the massive Chevy van I drove only to discover that they were bushes and their shifting shadows confusing my reactions. As the sky lightened all perspective changed from second to second. Along with constantly changing visual world, my mind was also searching flighted shadows. I grew anxious and thought of horrors. I flinched from a blowing piece of trash, seeing an old woman’s head rolling into and through my lane of high speed travel. A child on a bicycle dashed onto the road. He was stopped directly in front of the van as I pulled the wheel to the left, looking up into my eyes. I was too slow. Time split then split again then split into smaller and smaller increments spinning the next 3 seconds into a thousand futures each populated with a different outcome. I could see him staring up at me as I failed to avoid him. Nanoseconds clicked by as frames. The right front of the van clicked closer to flesh. Click… click. As I watched the child became a deer it collided with steel. Time skipped to normal as the van exploded into a chaos of confusion and screams.

The wet, pounding thud in the front rolled through the van like a wave, returning back toward me carrying angry and scared voices of the unexpectedly awake. My mind was stuck between the nightmare of killing a child and the knowledge that it was a deer. Someone screamed ‘what did you hit?’ as I steered onto the shoulder to a stop. I heard myself answer that I had run over a kid. Then after my mind caught up I confessed my mistake, assuring them it was only a deer. Unbelieving and fearful for what they’d find, everyone exited the van sprinting back towards a child’s body lying in the road to discover a deer. They came back in two pairs, the second pulled the body off the road.

I laid in the grass on my back arms splayed. I watched the sky come alive in a spectacle. The sun always rises. Even if we’re not watching. Not remembering.

–Jake Denotsko

6 Hours in Office: Trump’s First Executive Order Attacks Obamacare

Just hours in the oval office and Trump signs in his first executive order, aiming to “minimize the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal.” What exactly does this mean?

Well, nobody knows.

Donald Trump is playing his usual “wait and see” game, as though building the suspense of the nation is going to somehow garner support for his charge on Obamacare.

The bottom line is this:

Without the ACA, millions of Americans would be without both preventative and reactive medical treatment.  Families across the country would be in agonizing debt while receiving the care they so desperately need, and to defund Obamacare without having a legislative replacement is downright irresponsible.

The only thing that could be meant by “easing the economic burden” would be a re-allocation of tax dollars to other programs, leaving ACA beneficiaries aground indefinitely.

Let’s be clear– this isn’t a win for anyone.

A Modern American Civil War

The 2016 election was divisive and tumultuous.  Sixty-three days ago, the American people (roughly half of them, anyway) voted an inflammatory, uninformed, careless, politically inexperienced egotist into the most important office in global politics.  One week from now, that man takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  That day could potentially be the beginning of a precarious situation for the American people, given that numerous demographics feel not only unrepresented but altogether beleaguered by our President Elect.

A modern American civil war would be decidedly unfortunate for all parties involved (and most parties not involved) and this piece is not meant to abet or condone a civil war, but more to explore what a modern American Civil War would look like and how it would affect international politics.

The Preceding Weeks

There are currently roughly fifty documented, planned protests and demonstrations for January 20th and 21st, not only in Washington D.C., but in major cities all over the nation.  It’s fair to expect more spontaneous demonstrations to crop up that weekend, as well as responsive demonstrations by the other side of the spectrum.  Tensions have been high essentially since the election day demonstrations that erupted, and it would be cogent to assume a similar display on and around Inauguration Day.

Senate Republicans are already taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act— a move that has been staunchly resisted by Democrats across the board.  The regrettable truth is that the Republican majority allows for such a repeal to pass within the very near future.

An ACA repeal would strip this spring’s millions of expected college graduates between the ages of 22 and 26 of the health insurance that the ACA guarantees them under their parents’ plans.  Unfortunately for these budding adults, an ACA repeal would also almost ensure that employers would drop healthcare plans that they’d no longer be penalized for curbing.  This leaves nearly twenty-six million young Americans high and dry; young Americans who are vocal, motivated and eager to see change.

Forcing a legislation shift as drastic as this with no Democratic competition would be devastating and antagonizing to an already embittered demographic.  With more millennials now involved in politics than ever, there would be protests both organized and not.

At Home

If the new administration holds true to all of its threats (and promises), it won’t take long for peaceful demonstration to cultivate into all out civil disorder.  The difference between the strife of the 19th century and the strife of today is that there is no line– real or imagined– separating “us” and “them.”

We live in an integrated world.  Civil war no longer means a territorial dispute, and nobody could attempt to secede without serious protest from half of the population of any given state.  The civil war in Syria is a prime example of what a modern civil war looks like, given a revolt and a governmental power struggle.

Given the current domestic political climate, growing discord among marginalized demographics, and the recent militarization of our police force– a full blown civil war would emerge with great momentum and force.

The first, most charged manifestations would likely be from factions like Black Lives Matter and the newly emboldened white nationalists.  Rioting would take place in large cities across the country, but likely would be concentrated along the East Coast.  Tensions would build due to the rioting, causing smaller skirmishes and violent crimes in the heartland and across the South.

From there, the conflict would augment as the authorities attempt to maintain control of the growing situation.  A militarized police force would react harshly to such widespread violence, in turn shifting the focus partially to the police– a situation already unfolding in recent months.

In a clash between American nationalists, liberals and the government the resounding effects would be near impossible to predict or measure.  The only definitive outcome is a weakened America, which is unmistakably bad news for greater world affairs.


Civil war in the United States would hardly go unnoticed, as unrest is already forecast by much of the international community.

At first, the U.S. would halfheartedly maintain its European installations, though the force would be sparse.  The host nations would surely have their suspicions, creating a visible threat to their stability and stoking nationalist tensions.  There would be an almost immediate uptick in racially and religiously motivated violence, as well as economic decline.

At this point, Russia would enter Europe in a bid to expand its sphere of influence.  There would be a swift destabilization of Europe as Russia attempts to install friendly governments throughout the Balkans– a move which will help to weaken the EU and reestablish Russia as a leading world power.

China would almost immediately know about any American conflict, and would take the opportunity to pressure Taiwan into reunification.  The Chinese government would be slower to act than Russia, but would monitor the situation and seek control of resource rich islands throughout Southeast Asia– a campaign which only Japan could defend against.  We could also see Chinese interference in the American conflict in an attempt to profit off of arms deals.

India and Pakistan would turn into a proxy Russia V China conflict, resulting in a series of border skirmishes that would slowly escalate.  The United States would obviously largely pull out of the Middle East, causing the situation there to continue amplifying.  Uncontrolled conflict in the Middle East would precipitate an even greater refugee population, and in turn stir the nationalism weakening Europe to Russian influence.

The Odds

The odds of a modern American civil war are mediocre at best.  I don’t foresee a full scale conflict in the coming months, but I don’t see absolute peace either.  The likely result will be constant demonstrations and skirmishes between organizations and authorities– because the unrest is undeniable at this point.

America indisputably made a mistake this past fall.  This isn’t a matter of Republican versus Democrat– this is a matter of right versus wrong; knowledge versus ignorance; humility versus pride; nationalism versus diplomacy.

–Rowan Seets

Advisers: James Cooley, Cody Hunley

Can Trump Align with Putin?


During the most recent election cycle in the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support for then candidate Donald Trump, who went on to win the election.[i]  Russian diplomats even reached out to Donald Trump’s campaign to discuss the war in Syria.[ii] Now that Donald Trump has won the presidency we need to take a serious look at his foreign policy positions, and of the most interesting to investigate are his plans for better relations with the Russian Federation.

Since the end of World War II, Washington and Moscow have not had the best relationship. During the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union fought several proxy conflicts and almost two major conflicts–in Germany in 1947 and in Cuba in 1962. From 1947 to 1991, the US and the USSR vigilantly formed their own spheres of influence that were in direct conflict to one another. Both the US and the USSR pursued strategies of containment to limit the influence of their adversary. One could argue that this antagonizing sentiment in American and Russian governments is long gone, however both world powers have spent years creating alliances among smaller, less powerful states that put American and Russian interests at odds.

Trump has assumed office during a very trying time for world politics. States today face the issues of war in the Middle East, waves of refugees leaving those areas affected by war, climate change, and a tense situation in Europe. The Kremlin has pursued policies during these times that are often in direct opposition to American interests. In the Ukraine, for example, Russia has armed rebels intent on destabilizing the state and they have even annexed a portion of the Ukraine.[iii] In Syria, Putin has stood by Bashar Al-Assad and conducted airstrikes against Syrian rebels–most of which are armed and trained by the United States and US civilian aid efforts.[iv]

The Kremlin has recently stated that it believes a Trump presidency will lead to a warming of US-Russian relations and Trump has expressed similar sentiment–but can they really reset their relationship? It’s hard to see how they could. Donald Trump has run on the promise that he will defeat ISIS and that he knows more about ISIS than the United States’ generals do.[v] Russia is also for destroying ISIS, however the Syrian conflict is a three-way war and the US and Russia have sides fighting ISIS and fighting each other. It would be impossible for a Trump administration to abandon their coalition in Iraq and Syria now and switch to a side that is pro-Russian, because that side is also pro-Assad, pro-Iranian, and anti-US ground soldiers. The side aligned with Russia is pro-Assad because Russia’s number one goal in Syria is to keep the Assad regime, a long time military and economic ally of Russia, afloat.[vi]

It is pro-Iranian for the same reason. Iran has been a strong ally of the Assad regime and they have even sent troops to help defend Assad.[vii] Republicans in Washington have long been against US-Iranian cooperation, it’s doubtful that American and Iranian forces would fight directly side by side under the guide of a full Republican government. Finally, to align with Russia in the fight against ISIS would require Donald Trump to end the aid of moderate opposition forces against Assad–forces that the US has fostered since 2011.

So, if Donald Trump just abandons our efforts on the ground in Syria then he could, in theory, side with Russia–and he may very well do that.[viii] However, we must not forget about the strongest US ally in the Middle East: Israel. Israel is not a friend of Assad and it’s highly unlikely that they will be in favor of the US aiding Assad in his fight alongside Russia, against ISIS. This goes back to my original claim that there are too many conflicting alliances with other countries for a unilateral reset with Russia. Just aiding Russia in this one conflict would be a dramatic change in US foreign policy and it would create cooperation with adversaries and conflict with allies.

This is not the end of the conflicting interests either. One more example is in Europe. Trump has come out in support of Putin’s territory grab in Crimea and has mentioned lowering US involvement in NATO. Could Donald Trump actually back the US out of NATO though? The situation in Europe is tense and Putin has not only threatened, but actually moved nuclear capable missiles close to NATO countries.[ix] Is this a stance that Donald Trump could take? Could he really abandon long US allies in Europe as tensions between European nations and Russia are at a longtime high? It’s hard to tell. Certainly Donald Trump could not singlehandedly shift US policy to a pro-Russia stance and if Washington and Moscow even were to warm relations, it would require a long and cooperative effort by many states.

To ease tensions, the US and Russia would have to seriously negotiate more than what has been mentioned in this article. Currently, Russia is under economic sanctions put in place by the United States and the United States is actively pursuing policies to damage the Russian economy. People do not have to look far to see these efforts either; just drive down to your local gas station and compare the current price to the prices of a few years ago. The US has increased its energy production and OPEC nations have kept production levels high, thus dropping world oil prices low in an effort to hurt the Russian export based economy.[x] Trump has campaigned on a message of bringing back American jobs too, so it’s unlikely that he’ll drop US oil production.

The next four years should be interesting as far as foreign policy goes. There will either be an international movement and several shifts in power or nothing will change.

Most likely nothing will change.

–Cody Hunley

Yes, Retail Workers Get to Complain About Working on Thanksgiving



It’s Thanksgiving day; you’re sitting around the table with your family, drinking wine, eating turkey, enjoying the day.

A mile away, there is a shopping mall full of people away from their families.  Ripping open boxes, hanging signage, calling in other people away from their families.  Why are these people toiling instead of spending time with their families?

Because in a few short hours, you will show up.

You’ll clear your table, bid your farewells, and drive to the mall to ruin the day.

You’ll press against the doors of the mall like wild animals until the mall opens; then you will run through like kindergartners at recess–all to take advantage of a few mediocre sales.  You will throw merchandise on the floor, race with other customers to get the “best” things, yell at overwhelmed employees when they count your change wrong or don’t ring you out fast enough.

In your wake you’ll leave a mess of trash, merchandise, and a slew of irritable retail workers. Workers who get to clean up after you, only to return the next day and do it again.

So yes, retail workers get to complain about working on Thanksgiving.

Retail workers get to complain about missing time with their family, all so that customers can come in and be hateful to them.

I’ve worked Thanksgiving every year since I started working in retail. I’m not saying that it’s the end of the world that I have to work on Thanksgiving, because it isn’t.  I’m still getting paid to be there, and I know I can’t stop people from shopping on Thanksgiving.

However, if you find yourself out on the night of Thanksgiving, I ask you to be mindful.

Don’t be hateful.

Don’t yell at employees because you can’t find something, if they’ve sold out of what you came for, or if they’re busy and the line is moving slow.

Don’t trash the stores you shop in, and don’t fight with other customers.

Retail workers are entitled to complain about working on Thanksgiving.

Try not to give us something to complain about.

–Rowan Seets

Why You Should be Worried About the Alt-Right


I’ve heard the term “alt-right” thrown around a lot this election cycle, but never until recently decided to see what this young conservative faction is all about.

Sources credit the internet with the birth of the Alt-Right movement, so I figured: what better place to start?

Simply Googling “Alt-Right” didn’t seem like the right place to begin, however.  A simple Google search turns up some mildly written descriptions of the Alt-Right, as well as a handful of liberal news sources discrediting the entire movement.  If you heard of the Alt-Right in the same fashion as I did, they would have seemed like a thin margin at the very fringe of conservative politics– namely, racists.

What I didn’t realize is that we weren’t giving them enough credit.

r/AltRight self defines as “racial and sexual realism” translated into a political ideology. Thus, “fringe” they absolutely are. A brief trip through the subreddit is both insightful and terrifying if you’re a rational person, and it makes a few things exceedingly clear:

  • The Alt-Right is predominantly young, white men who are legitimately concerned that the entire world is out to get them. There are several striking pieces outlining a baseless fear of their race being eradicated by the likes of feminists, socialists, liberals, and basically every ethnic minority.
  • The Alt-Right is remarkably hopeful for a Trump presidency.  There are a great number of posts on the subreddit exclaiming “we’ve done it!” and “one step closer!”–attitudes not echoed by basically any mainstream news source. Speaking of mainstream news:
  • The Alt-Right hates it. The political movement is rooted in deep anti-establishment affections. They feel that the liberals and mainstream conservatives are silencing the voices of white men, and that the media is sympathetic to these “oppressors.”

So why should we be concerned with the Alt-Right? I have one reason why we should be concerned with the Alt-Right: because they are concerned with us.

Trump ran a hate filled campaign for the very purpose of appealing to these Alt-Right voters.  The Alt-Right isn’t just anti-left; they are altogether anti-establishment. They beseeched the GOP to deliver a candidate that put them first, and the GOP begrudgingly delivered.

What this means for the rest of us is that there is a newly emboldened fringe movement feeding off of racism, sexism, and anger.

This means that the next four years could go one of two ways: Donald Trump follows through on his promise to the Alt-Right, or he doesn’t.

The latter is the more likely of the two outcomes, but that will only stoke the fire. If Donald Trump isn’t the anti-establishment middle finger that the Alt-Right had hoped, then their fears are only affirmed. To them, a Trump betrayal is testimony to their fictional plight.

The Alt-Right fringe may be thicker than we thought.

The Alt-Right fringe is absolutely something to worry about.

–Rowan Seets