‘Dungeons and Dragons’: The world’s greatest role-playing game

Dungeons and Dragons. What comes to mind when you heart those words? Perhaps you are a veteran of the tabletop role-playing game, and just hearing those words brings back memories of your adventures in the D&D world. More likely, you have no idea what I am talking about, and maybe think Dungeons and Dragons is some kind of video game. At the very least, one phrase comes to your mind: nerd stuff.

There is a common misconception that Dungeon and Dragons is only played by socially outcast nerds with no social life. I am here to dispel that myth; it is false. It’s not a video game either. D&D was made before video games existed. Instead, D&D is what is called a ‘tabletop role-playing game.’

But what does that mean? Basically, in D&D, there are two types of players: the Dungeon Master (called ‘DM’ for short) and the players. The DM referees the game, and is sort of the god of the world he creates. In a video game, he would be the system, the thing that controls all of the monsters and non-player characters, as well as describing the environment and world that the players are in. There is typically only one DM, and everyone else is a player. 

The players each create a character from a variety of races and classes, which are jobs, and they pretend to be their character, and react how their character would react in the world that the DM describes. The best part about character creation is that you can really be anything. If I want to be a dwarven merchant who lost his parents to a dragon attack when he was four and now wants revenge, I can.

Once characters are created, they enter the world that the Dungeon Master has created. He’ll describe the environment, and the players get to choose what they want to do with the scenario he has set up. This is the real draw of the game: the freedom. You can do anything in the D&D world if you want to. If the DM says, “you are surrounded by orcs, and help is miles away,” you can respond to that situation however you want. You can attack them, try to make peace, even bribe them to let you pass.

Does this mean there are no rules? No, of course not. The way randomness is handled in D&D is through the use of exotic dice, ranging from a four sided die to a 20 sided die, also called a d20. Whenever you want to attempt something that has a chance of failing, you roll a d20 and try to get over the DC, or difficulty class. For example, if you want to arm wrestle one of the aforementioned orcs to assert your dominance, the DM might say, “Okay! Roll a strength check.” You would roll your die, and if it got higher than the DC the DM set in his mind, then you succeed, and beat the orc in arm wrestling.

But of course, not everybody is going to have equal skill in every category. A rugged barbarian would have a better chance at beating the orc in arm wrestling than a shrimp wizard would. To show this in the gameplay, everybody has six different ability scores, which represent your expertise on one of the following attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these scores has a modifier, a bonus you add to your d20 roll that increase your chances of passing the DC. If a barbarian, who has a +4 to strength attempts to arm wrestle the orc, then the DC is technically 4 lower for him because if he rolls 4 under the DC, his check will still work because his strength modifier increase the total of the roll to be over the DC.

I know that’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but that is just the technical stuff, for those curious about how the game works. To sum it up, you pretend to be a character in a fictional world in your imagination, and you make decisions, as in that world, and the success of those decisions is determined by your dice rolls and how good your character is in that particular field. This system is the basis for the technical part of the game, to make sure the game is fair, but the rest of it is up to you. 

I’m serious about that. Although this game is designed for the world you create to have a medieval-fantasy setting, you can make it whatever you want. If you want your story to take place in outer space, you can do that! Want to add laser guns? Simple, just make up some basic stats for it, and it’s as good as real. Remember, the stats are not what drives this game, imagination is what is. As long as you adhere to the core rules, you should be fine.

Making your own things for D&D, whether they be rules, weapons and armor, classes, races, items, or anything else, this process is called, “homebrew.” Homebrewing your own things can really make your adventure stand out. But say you don’t have time to create your own stuff, you just don’t have the free time to whip up some unique ideas. First of all, as a DM, it takes a lot of planning and effort to make a successful adventure. You’re going to want to spend a lot of your free time preparing for the next time you play if you want to get into this game.

But for those who really don’t have the time, or just want to see what other D&D players, both DMs and players, have come up with, then may I suggest www.dandwiki.com? This site is home to thousands of user generated pages, including everything from homebrew classes and races, to entire settings for your worlds. The site even has fan-made content from existing fiction, meaning you can play as people like Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Iron Man from the Marvel franchise, and even Jedi Knights from Star Wars.

Why else should you use D&D Wiki? I would say that it really helps you understand the full concept of D&D itself. By spending time on fan-made pages, you learn how to effectively make your own homebrew stuff by seeing what others are doing. You may have a concept or idea in your head, but don’t know how to implement it into the game. Chances are, you can find a rule or take inspiration from something on the Wiki and use it in your game. 

Here’s the thing: www.dandwiki.com is currently blocked by the school, meaning you can’t use it on your iPad at all, even when you are at home. Now, I know that the school has good reasons for blocking sites, and those reasons usually boil down to one of two things: they are not appropriate or they waste time. Allow me to explain why D&D wiki should not be blocked for either of these reasons.

First, the argument that this site wastes time in school. Well it’s true that I would spend a considerable amount of time on the site, both in and out of school, that doesn’t change a thing about wasted time. There are plenty of ways to waste time on your school iPad, even if the district were to block all the gaming sites in the world. Basically, using your iPad to waste time is a choice that the student makes, and blocking time wasting sites is not an incentive not to waste time.

Secondly, this site is by no means inappropriate. It’s true that Dungeons & Dragons is a generally mature game, that usually refers to the mental age required to play it effectively rather than if it has blood or not. You have to be older to play it, but that doesn’t mean every game is an edgy blood soaked battlefield. It’s up to the DM and players to agree upon if they will describe mature things in the game. There is a total ban on all foul language and mature content on D&D Wiki, if that is the issue.

So yeah, that sums up my article on Dungeons and Dragons. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, go ahead and check it out. All you really need to play is a Player’s Handbook, which you can find online for like $30. If you want to check it out, you can buy a starter pack for even cheaper, which gives you a premade adventure and premade characters for you to play. 

Also, as it turns out, the co-creator of D&D, David Lance Arneson, is a graduate from this very school! I didn’t even know that until I wrote this article. I mean, I knew the game was made by people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I never knew how close I really was to the creators of this game. 

If you want to find out more about David, check out this article:  https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2019/05/david-arneson-the-co-creator-of-dungeons-dragons-developed-the-game-in-minnesota/

So, if you have a creative mind, and are feeling bored with the limited choices of video game adventures, then consider playing one of my favorite games of all time: Dungeons & Dragons.

What it is like to only have one arm

By 2050, there will be approximately 3.6 million people in the United States missing a limb. According to www.pewsocialtrends.org, the American population will be approximately 438 million. After doing a bit of quick math, I calculated that about 0.8% of our population will be missing either an arm or a leg.

But what is it like to be missing a limb, specifically an arm? I wanted to find out. I’ve had a passing interest in the idea of having one arm, thanks to anime and TV, believe it or not. In Volume 3 for RWBY, Yang, one of the main characters, gets her arm cut off during a fight. In Season 2 of Attack on Titan, Erwin Smith loses his arm to a titan in one of the best scenes in that show. As for TV, in The Walking Dead, Merle, Hershel, and Aaron all either lose a hand or a leg.

So, with the inspiration of some of my favorite shows on my back, I decided to go armless for a day. To do this, I simply put my left arm in my shirt and pulled in my sleeve so I wouldn’t feel tempted to take it out. If any safety issues ever came up that required me to use two hands, I could simply just take off my hoodie.

The second I left the door on my way to school, I put my arm inside my shirt and was already noticing a problem. Having only one arm means the weight of my backpack wasn’t disturbed evenly, so my one arm got tired quickly. I found myself pushing the bottom of my backpack upwards so it could stay on longer, because I feared it might fall off.

During first period, I noticed the major problems most amputees face: everything is slower. Typing takes much more time, because I only had one arm to type with. This may go without saying, but I think it’s an often overlooked part of having one arm.

Here’s a fun challenge: try to find the commonality with the following sentences. 

  • I had to ask people to zip up my backpack for me when class ended.
  • Eating my lunch was much slower.
  • I couldn’t play video games at all.

In case you forgot what you were reading, the commonality is that all of these sentences can be ended with, “because I only had one arm”. Anything from basic tasks like zipping my backpack to complex stuff like playing video games becomes nearly impossible.

For an example, let’s take a look at how lunch went for me. I had to open the front pocket of my backpack to grab my lunchbox. The coat I stuffed in there earlier was also there, so I had to remove that before I could grab my lunchbox. When I got my lunchbox out, I tried to put the jacket back in the backpack, but it kept falling over. I ended up using my feet to prop it up so I could fit in the jacket. Even so, I couldn’t zip my backpack, so I just had to wait for a friend to do it at lunch.

I’ve practiced eating with one hand before, so besides the fact that I couldn’t hold my cup of lemon pudding down while I ate, I was basically OK. However, that’s not the main challenge I faced.

My friend brought his Nintendo Switch to school that day so we could play Super Smash Bros: Ultimate during lunch. I forgot to inform him that I would only have one arm that day. Anyways, I ended up playing a round, and needless to say, I didn’t do very well. I figured the best way to play was to hold it like you do when the Joy Cons are split, so you hold it vertically. This means that you would have to switch which way the control stick moves the character in settings, so it’s conceivable that this would be a valid way for a one armed person to play the game, although still at a disadvantage. I didn’t have the opportunity to switch the way the stick moved, so I ended up losing the match badly.

Because video games make up an embarrassing amount of my free time, this made me think about what opportunities are taken away from people missing limbs. One armed people are limited to the most basic of mobile games that only require tapping or swiping, meaning one of my favorite pastimes would be gone if I ever lost an arm. 

You know how I talked about how even basic stuff takes a lot of time with only one arm? Well, I really noticed that during 5th period, which for me was Beginning Drawing. We were working on our perspective summative, which involves drawing lines from a ruler to a specific point. Normally, you use one arm to hold the ruler steady and another to draw the line, and you can already see my dilemma. I ended up having to adjust the ruler where I wanted it, setting it down, putting my iPad on it to act as a weight while hoping it didn’t mess up the ruler, and then drawing a line. The entire process took at least 5 times longer at least.

One thing I wasn’t able to emulate that many amputees face is discrimination of any sort. Whether it be weird looks or being told outright that I wasn’t normal, I never experienced any of it. Even if you’ve never met me before, it’s obvious that I have two arms, even if one of them is in my hoodie. Whenever a friend or a teacher asked why I was only using one arm, I explained that it was for journalism class and they didn’t really ask beyond that. At worst, they silently judged me for my weird life choices.

Before I end this article, I quickly want to address how Amputees are viewed in popular culture. Earlier, I mentioned how in the show RWBY, a character by the name of Yang Xiao Long loses her arm in a fight. It’s a common fact that people tend to relate to people like them, so having a character with one arm can resonate with fans who maybe went through the experience of losing a limb, or people who were born without a certain limb to begin with.

However, I feel like this character moment falls flat on its face just a few episodes later. While losing her arm does play into her character development, making her more cautious instead of headstrong, the fact that she loses an arm at all is stupid, considering she gets a highly advanced robot arm just a few episodes later. 

Now, I know prosthetic arms are a real thing, and they are quickly becoming more and more usable, but not to the extent shown by Yang’s robot arm in RWBY. It’s hard to relate to a character that has a cybernetically enhanced arm. RWBY is a show that revolves around a lot of hand to hand combat, so maybe the writers felt too restrained with her just having one arm, or maybe they just thought a robot arm would be cool. Either way, I find it kind of lazy, because even if robot arms are a technology in the RWBY universe, that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Besides, there are plenty of ways the fights in the show could become more creative with one of the characters only having one arm. 

So, in conclusion, it sucks having one arm. Of course, my experience of having one arm is limited, and I’m sure people get used to it over time, but still, spare a thought for the people who don’t have an arm or leg. Thanksgiving is coming up soon, that would be a perfect time to give thanks for what you take for granted.

How to speak gender neutral

By: Charlotte Lane

Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly realized you may have used the incorrect pronoun to address someone? Well I have, and it made me feel awkward. I was working at a hardware store and addressed a customer assuming I knew their gender. I believe my gender identifying language made us both feel uncomfortable. This situation got me thinking “Why can’t we clean up the English language to be gender neutral?” 

Use Honorary Titles 

One way to avoid these uncomfortable mistakes is by having the English language use more honorary titles. Honorary titles are often used in professional settings.  Doctors, nurses, professors, and teachers are all titles that are used to identify people without revealing their gender.  

The English language could invent more titles to use to categorize people. For example, we currently use Ms. Mrs. Mr. as salutations for individuals where we could substitute new titles that are gender free.  

Pronoun Refresh

Last year, the Merriam dictionary updated the meaning of “they” to refer to a “single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” How about using the option of Mx. (pronounced Mix) or RP. (respected person) to address your neighbor or business partner?

Another option is using neo pronouns (new) that some individuals have started using. Xir (him or her) or Xi (he or she) could be used to replace the use of of current gender identifying pronouns.  

Share Your Pronouns

When speaking with others, use the pronoun you prefer to be addressed by and don’t be afraid to ask others what pronouns they prefer to use. It can help avoid awkward situations by letting other people know what your pronouns are. 

An example of this is when a teacher is open about being called “they/them.” Knowing this helps foster a healthier relationship between student and teacher. 

Be Forgiving

Similar to learning any new language, it gets messy. In order to make this new language work, we need to remember that no one is perfect and people are going to make mistakes. 

If and when you do trip up, respectfully correct the misunderstanding in hopes of change. When it comes down to it, we all have our own pronouns, but regardless of these we are all biologically human.

Should student athletes be getting paid?

This has been a long and very discussed topic throughout the whole country: should college players get a form of payments for doing what they do.

Since 2016 to 2019 the NCAA (national collegiate athletic association) has made over 1 billion dollars over that time period according to Business Insider, and this does not even include sports betting revenue.

Just about 2 weeks ago, California passed a bill on California University athletes getting a form of pay, but only in California. This is kind of unfair to other universities because the better athletes are going to go where they are going to get paid for what they do which is now in California.

I feel like college athletes should get paid for what they do because they risk getting injured, which could keep them from making pro leagues, and they are generating a lot of money, from TV networks around the world.

Over the last couple years, college arenas and stadiums attendance and TV networks views have gone up increasingly due to big college stars such as Zion Williamson, Jalen Hurts and many other talented college athletes around the country playing for different colleges. College athletes deserve to get paid for entertaining people throughout the weekends and making TV interesting.

Eventually, I think that all college athletes will be getting paid for what they do, or we can see a potential boycott happening in the future which would impact all the NCAA fans.

UPDATE: After California passed their law, the NCAA decided to let athletes profit from their likeness being used. This would probably mean athletes could start to collect money from the sales of their jerseys and things like that.

Negative effects of the school chairs

School may not be the most comfortable place on Earth in many ways, but does one contributing factor really have to be the back-aching chairs? Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the bus seats are more comfortable than what we are expected to sit in all day long. 

Rarely do people know the actual effects of these chairs, but I am about to inform you of a few of the real consequences they produce. 

It may be quite blunt to say that focus is interrupted by school chairs, so let me explain. School should be about learning, usually that requires you to pay attention to what your teacher is trying to communicate, but by the end of the day, I am usually more busy trying to get even the slightest bit comfortable.

In those minutes, or even seconds, that your focus has been modified, you can miss little notes or messages from the class itself. Some might think connecting those two things is a reach, but doesn’t it make sense?

Secondly, the chairs provide no support whatsoever. All the chair backs cut-off way too short to fit an average-sized teenager’s back. Eventually, throughout a class, this can cause your neck to bend forward, putting a strain on your lower back. 

These “small” problems can possibly even cause long term back and neck issues after hours, days, and years on end. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it also affects your posture in a negative way and potentially can give you frequent headaches. 

Unfortunately, budgets are fairly small to allow schools to be able to change the chair situation easily. That’s one of the two main reasons for these undersized, plastic chairs. The other being that they are pretty durable. They don’t need to replace them often and they fit the low budget. 

As schools try and adjust to become a more appealing place, by serving healthier lunches and adjusting to different techniques in the classroom for learning purposes, the school chairs should be a priority just as important to the school board. 

A limited number of bathroom passes

I’m sure every student has, or will at one point, encounter a teacher that will only give out a limited number of bathroom passes for the quarter or semester. They may give out so few bathroom passes that even with your best attempts to not use the bathroom during that class you would be unable to avoid running out.

But why do teachers choose to enact such regulations?

I spoke with two teachers on why they choose to give out limited bathroom passes and their answers were rather similar. They want students to remain in class and focus on the material.

One of the teachers, when she had not had this rule, had too many students missing too much class time and felt it was likely they were goofing off in the bathroom.

Both teachers believe the number of passes they give out is sufficient so if it actually is an emergency they’ll be able to go, and that passing time, or the amount of time they will give them at the beginning of class (one teacher gives their students an extra 5 minutes at the beginning of class to use the bathroom), is enough.

One of the teachers also made the point as due to the new cellphone policy it is more likely that students will go to the bathroom just to use their phone.

They say these regulations have been working to accomplish their goals. Students are spending much more time in class and without having to manage what kids are in the bathroom or who is going next, class seems to run much smoother.

They say that each teacher runs their class a certain way and knows what is best for it, but if they are having problems with students using the bathroom, this is a solution for them.

However, the students I interviewed seemed to have some different ideas than the teachers. 8 out of 9 of them said that they did not support teachers giving out a limited number of bathroom passes. A majority of them did say there might be ways for the policy to be changed enough for them to support it though. 

Most of them also said that while it depends on the class, passing time is not enough to use the bathroom, unlike what the teachers believe.

7 out of 9 of them said that it did not help students pay attention in class, as if they need to use the restroom, but are unable to, they would not be able to pay attention.

So, while teachers who implement this rule think it is good and helps students pay attention, students seem to be of the opposite opinion.

The official fast food tier list

Image via debatewise.org

As long as American’s have had a public health crisis, one thing’s been for sure: We do love our fast food. From Burger King to Dairy Queen (I’m too clever, I know), there’s plenty to chose from, and how would any reasonable person be able to pick the best option?

Well, since you’re desperate enough to click an internet article called “The official fast food tier list,” I’ll be kind enough to show you my official ranking system for every fast food place that matters, and I’ll also advise you to please consider immediate therapy.

The rules for the rankings below are simple: the higher tier on the list, the better, the furthest to the left on a tier, is the best place, and the furthest to the right is the worst. Now that you spent actual time in your life, that you could’ve used doing something productive, by making an attempt to sincerely understand how this works, I present to you, the official tier list (now if this isn’t the most exciting moment in your life, you’re an actual liar):

Now you may be looking at this image with shock, or be frighted in some way. But don’t worry, it’s just the truth you’re looking at. It’s glory is truly one to behold. Now, this is based off of taste, restaurant quality, and objective facts. I’m essentially coming down from fast food heaven giving the world its ten commandments on which paper bags filled with grease and meat, that we like to call food, is worth delightfully shortening your lifespan with the most.

First of all, Olive Garden is in fast food purgatory at the very bottom of the F tier, as even though it’s more of a restaurant than a fast food chain, it’s food is pretty much equal in quality to fast food, and it’s the worst at that even.

It’s sharing the room with Starbucks because, well… nobody really likes Starbucks, we just kinda…go there. I mean there’s frappachinos, aka milkshakes, that are placebo’d to make your mind trick you into thinking it tastes like coffee, but even then, you could just get the same quality at a coffee shop where you have to sacrifice the chance of possibly seeing a B-list celebrity in order to get slightly above decent food.

Also, KFC is there because the quality really speaks for itself over there. (It’s not like I wouldn’t eat at any of these places if given the chance, I mean hey if it’s deep fried, how bad could paper towels really taste?)

D tier really is nothing particularly interesting, as they are just equally abysmal restaurants, but their food isn’t as inedible. And as you know from reading this article, I definitely appreciate quality exquisite fine dining™ as I’ve been quoted by saying my favorite food is Pringles.

The pinnacle of capitalism known as the Double Down Dog via foodbeast.com

Coming in at C tier we have food that’s just starting to be palatable, and taking baby steps into my fast food hall of fame. Now, as a person who’s lived in the “Whole Foods” of countries, known as Canada, I’ve been to a place known as Tim Horton’s, and man it’s really…. average, I guess. It’s pretty much Dunkin’ Doughnuts, but with sandwiches, and less doughnuts. But it’s better in quality than all the other places I’ve named so far because, I said so, and most Americans who’ll read this probably don’t know this but, Justin Trudeau has an explosive microchip implanted in the brain of every Canadian citizen, and I can’t risk giving Tim Horton’s that bad of a score at this point.

Other than that, Subway is pretty much just a dream come true for 3rd graders who’ve always wondered what it would be like if they made the food from Lunchables mystery meat sandwich packs into a restaurant.

Also, Mac and Don’s, as your 46-year-old uncle calls it, is pretty much the same as Burger King food wise, except for the fact that you don’t have to hide your shame as much when eating at Burger King, so it’s slightly higher on the list.

Now, at number B (number B?) we have Wendy’s. Now, Wendy’s being the only corporation in human history to successfully appeal to teenagers using advertising, is pretty good. I mean, it’s a solid fast food place, that doesn’t make me have to use one of my sick days after eating it. But personally, I would put Jack in the Box above it, but I won’t because it kinda sorta um…gave near 750 people E. coli in the 90’s…sooo…it gets docked a point in my book.

But A&W is a better burger place than both (I’m pretty sure they aren’t in America, so just take my word for it), and Little Caeser’s is the best fast food pizza place by far. I am willing to fight you on this in a wild western style duel in which one of us shoots after walking ten paces in the opposing directions. I am 100% serious, this is completely not a joke, meet me during High Noon at Town Square you Pizza Hut lovin’ scoundrel.

Zupas logo, via cafezupas.com

Now we’re in the big leagues, the big zone, rookies keep out, this is professional football here. This article is getting too long for me to sound like a human being with sanity, so let’s keep the highlights brief. Jimmy Johns essentially succeeds everywhere that Subway fails. It’s like somebody tried Subway and was like “Hey, this would be pretty good if it were made out of actual ingredients instead of paper mache.”

And now for my most controversial opinion yet: Taco Bell is, and will always be, better than Chipotle. You heard it here first folks. Now, before you execute me like French Royalty in the 1700s, let me speak my piece: Taco Bell will always be there for you, Chipotle will not. At three in the morning, with only five bucks to spare, and your life is spiralling out of control, Taco Bell will embrace you with admittedly gross warm open arms. And unlike Chipotle, Taco Bell takes risks.

Chipotle is good for when you want actual cuisine which at least mildly resembles Mexican food. But Taco Bell is different. Taco Bell triumphs over all the rest and are like “Hey, what if instead of a taco shell, we use a waffle covered in maple syrup for a taco? Or what if we just use a breaded piece of Dorito crusted chicken for a taco shell, and call it a Chalupa?” They say this as every Mexican that ever died does an Olympic triathlon in their grave. Which is bold of Taco Bell, like you gotta just look at it from the angle of, not a Mexican place, but an American place which parodies Mexican food. And if you do, it gets a whole lot better.

Not like any of that matters, because Naf-Naf is like a pick your own ingredients thing, but it’s with really good Middle Eastern food, so it’s like infinitely better in every way.

Okay, so finally, this article is coming to a close, and you’ll be free from reading this excuse for journalism I call an article. But before that, we must discuss the top tiers. The alpha wolves of the pack, I’m talking – Five Guys, and Panda Express. First of all. Five guys is the Ace of the burger restaurants. It triumphs over every other one, in every argument, no matter what. It’s just too powerful…the Cajun style fries have a level of sodium that just can’t be beat. Five Guys is pretty much the fast food equivalent to the gates of heaven.

But heaven itself? Well young reader, that’s what we call the Holy Land: Panda Express (Pandrusalem). My young and naive reader, you’ve come so far, you’ve read this entire article for some reason, and finally, you’ve reached the truth; there is no other truth but Panda Express (yes this is a cult now just go with it). For those who’ve had the devastating misfortune of never attending one of the SACRED locations of the divine Panda, it is an American Chinese food restaurant which shall not be compared to a mere mortal such as Leean Chin. It had FOUNDED the very staple dish known as Orange Chicken. It has built its empire only upon the foundation of Honey Walnut Shrimp, and I PITY the mere fool who doubts the power of the Sweetfire Chicken, all delicately placed upon a bed of chow mien fit for an Emperor on thy throne. No other restaurants matter; it’s all Panda Express now. Panda Express is the Kendrick Lamar of restaurants; it is the GOAT of eatery. Need I say more?

And, I’d like to sincerely apologize for having anybody read this, as you can tell I have too much time on my hands to be healthy.

Autism. You’re perfect.

By:  Bao Nguyen

“Am I really autistic?” I asked in the kitchen.

“Yes.” My sister responded.

“Don’t worry too much about it, you only have little traits of Autism. You’re perfect.”

Months later, my mind came back to a conversation I used to have with my sister.

Autism.

You’re perfect.

At first, I was skeptical about that. But after a month of researching about Autism, I finally began to understand why I faced struggles in the past. Now, I’m ready to share my feelings about my experiences.

I was about to accept that I’m different, but that was until I came across some article that talked about the giftedness of Autism. I’ve heard a lot (or too much) of how autistic people have had shared their experiences; gifted with barely any social skills. I’m born with struggles. There are other autistic people that are not so gifted; yet they have decent social skills with at least some sensory issues. I’m born with no sensory problems. I wasn’t trying to compare myself to other autistic  people; I learned that Autism is a spectrum. I personally felt as If god accidentally gave me a wrong version of Autism; I knew god predicted that I’m too powerful to fit in this world, so god decided to create me with struggles instead.

It feels wrong for me to decide to write this. But let me tell you, these are all feelings I have right now;

Worthless. Hopeless. Hurtful. Jealous. Talent-less. Rejection. Excluded. Pity. Chafed. Huffed. Crippled. Anguish.

Not so much jolly myself.

Born with struggles.

God chose that because I’m too powerful to fit in this world.

Still feels sorrow for me to write this.

Autism.

You’re perfect.

Who am I? Do I have any purposes in life? Why do I feel as if I’m different from most people?

In this not-so-seamless world, most people I see are normal. Regardless, the struggles I’m born with have nearly obstructed me. I may have talents, but no matter how much talent I have, it never fulfills the talent itself. I am smart, but my learning difficulties have invalidated my intelligence. I’m gifted, or barely. I have good social skills, but a lot of anxiety brewing in my body every time I’m supposed to meet new people (even worse, meeting teenagers or at an age below what I’ve not met yet) and worry that they’ll exclude me for being different. I’m friendly, but my brain is sometimes vague on words, so that I might end up being rude for saying defective things by accident. I’m human after all, but why does my autistic brain think that all humans look like a pet sometimes?

That’s not to say that my autism defines me. All of my struggles in science, history, math, and health in classes I’ve taken. Now the only talent that I’m left with; Writing stories.

I remember my teacher gave an assignment to students to write our story for Halloween. I did, and my teacher enjoyed mine. If you want, I’ll write the same story that I’ve written in the past, although my original story has lost, I remember the story almost entirely.

Who knows what will I write after I die? Will I still write in somewhere that is beyond this world? I don’t know, and will never be able to.

As long as I keep expanding my English skills, and share my stories with my families and other people, maybe someday people will call me a gifted writer.

Autism.

You’re perfect.

 

Bao is a junior at HPSH. He likes to read books and do things on his computer (sometimes games). He is eager to gain knowledge and learn new skills. He likes to write stories, although he’s still on a journey of studying the structure of English. Favorite classes: piano and career classes.

Why my cat is better than yours

By: Vivian S.

Listen, many people have cats, as they are one of the most common pets; however, in this article, I will prove to you that my cat is better than yours.

First of all, I have three cats, so I will be combining them all into one, to talk about all their best qualities. And yes, I know that seems slightly unfair, but when you have multiple cats, they all feel just like one embodiment of the meaning of cat. And if you do not have more than one cat to spend all your time on, what are you doing with your life?

Smokey

To begin, my cat has the softest, best fur to pet. It’s short and slightly fluffy, and so, so soft. You could stand around petting any one of my cats for an hour and not even notice the time passing.

My cat also has the best purr, and we all know that cat purrs are essential to life. As you pet her, you can feel the vibration of the purr. In that moment, you truly understand peace, serenity, and paradise.

My cat has the fluffiest tail. I don’t know why I’m including the tail as a positive trait, considering the cat constantly knocks things over with her tail and seems to have no control over it, but it is also very fluffy. You wish your cat had as fluffy a tail as my cat.

Smokey

My cat also curls up on my bed under my blankets. She will curl up into a ball, sometimes with a paw covering her head, and sleep. You have never known true fear until you have begun getting into bed and realize that you almost sat on the cat hidden beneath the blankets. And you have never known the heights of adorableness until you realize how cute they look peeking out from the covers.

My cat also sits on my lap when I watch television, which is the best time to have a cat with you. We will stare at the TV together in silence and dream together of taking over the world.

There is also one big advantage to having multiple cats, and that is seeing them curled up together. While it is rare to see the cats near one another, occasionally you will find two of them curled up side by side on a bed, and it is a sight that can’t be explained in words.

Mio

In conclusion, my cat is the best cat, and you wish that you had her. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up cat poop.

What’s going on in West Papua?

Image via theguardian.com

If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ve probably seen an article or two about what’s going on in West Papua, Indonesia, but most articles don’t give you the full idea, and not many people know the intense situation which is going on. Anyway, let me give you some background here from indonesiamatters.com if you don’t already know.

So, in the 1800s, there was this island called “New Guinea.” The British took the East half, and the Dutch took the Western half, and then it became a part of the Dutch East Indies. Then, in the ’30s, the former colonies of the Dutch East Indies all became independent except for Western New Guinea. But, in 1952, the Dutch prepared the people, for independence, for this remaining colony, and by the ’60s, the parliament of that part of New Guinea (now called West Papua) was formed, and the country created a national anthem, flag, and national seal.

 

Flag of West Papua via freewestpapua.org

Everything seemed to be going well until in 1962 when the Indonesian government started invading West Papua, and tried to push out the Dutch who were staying in the country, taking care of it before its total independence. The Dutch forces successfully stopped the invasion, but then Indonesia went to the Soviet Union for support, and because of Cold War anxiety, the US government tried to help out the Dutch in West Papua.

In August, later that year, an agreement was reached, in New York, between the Netherlands and Indonesia, where the UN gains custody of West Papua until they hold a vote. But, when the vote actually happened in 1969, it was said to be heavily rigged by the Indonesian government, thus making West Papua a province of Indonesia (two provinces actually).

Via worldpoliticsreview.com

Now, according to a paper put out by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the people, culture, language, and just overall heritage of West Papua is vastly different from the rest of Indonesia, as they are a Melanesian people, more similar to the many different groups within the bordering country of Papua New Guinea, which is VASTLY different culturally and linguistically from the South East Asian culture of Indonesia. The government is said to be trying to force Indonesian culture on the people of West Papua.

This, to some, would be a reason to secede already, but why should we care? The main reason is the deep seeded oppression which is going on within the West Papua region, as  it is one of the longest running modern day illegal annexations/occupations.

There are intense reports of brutal torture as described by a study in 2015: torture seems to be the unofficial form of governance. It is said that the Indonesian regime is not reluctant to use killing, surveillance, and arbitrary arrest to control the illegally occupied West Papua.

An example of this is when graphic footage was leaked to YouTube in October 2010. There are two separate occurring events which were captured in this footage. The beginning shows eight highlanders forcibly stripped naked in front of two Indonesian army soldiers. And while interrogating these terrified Papuans, and calling them “monyet,” “anjing,” or “bajingan” (monkey, dog, bastard), the soldiers kicked their heads with their edged boots, and hit their heads using their helmets.

The soldiers demanded that they would confess to being members of the OPM, which is an independence movement with the overall goal of freeing West Papua from Indonesian control. The latter half of the footage displays two people, with one having a knife to their throat, and another being burnt on his bare skin by Indonesian army men, as so the men would confess the location of OPM weaponry near their town. It was very public, and many people were forced to bear witness.

This is said to be a very frequent occurrence in West Papua, according to that study. Along with that, terrible Indonesian policies which cause environmental damage such deforestation, severely undermines the foundation for West Papuan society and culture.

Via freewestpapua.org

So, it would be evident to say that independence would be a fair option for these oppressed people of West Papua, and that’s what they are trying to achieve now more than ever. According to theguardian.com other Pacific Islander countries, such as Vanuatu, have shown support for the struggle against the oppression. And according to UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) almost 2 million residents of West Papua have signed a petition (which could have had more signatures if it wasn’t heavily kept away by the Indonesian government), practically begging the UN for equal, and fair independence, and self determination for the West Papuan peoples.

Sadly, according to theguardian.com, the UN denied the petition after all that, and said that it damaged the territorial integrity of Indonesia. I believe this is a violation of equal rights, freedom, and the democracy on which the very principals the UN were supposedly founded on. Though maybe, in the future, brave governments such as Vanuatu may eventually speak out loud enough, and take action. I believe that it is the UN’s duty, as a global peacekeeper, to find, and create justice for the West Papuan peoples, as they deeply deserve it.