Accommodations Weren’t Enough

It’s time to introduce you to the chaos that is my mere existence. Yes, folks, I’m talking about my unbelievably awful medical history.

First, some background. Here are some things I have been diagnosed with:

Chronic psychophysiological insomnia

Tendonitis of the arms, wrists, hands, knees, and feet

Bursitis of the hips

Raynaud’s disease without gangrene

Chronic migraines

Asthma

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Major depressive disorder (with one episode)

Bipolar disorder (with major manic episode)

And I like to add Fibromyalgia to the list, because a rheumatologist actually confirmed it, but didn’t write down (which super screwed me over when I ended up in a psych ward). Here’s what he said:

“Sounds like you have chronic, unexplained pain in your whole body. Well, your test results are all clean, so some people might call that Fibromyalgia.”

Notice the implication that he wouldn’t call that Fibromyalgia, for some reason.

My further evidence is this quote from an email I received from a Harvard clinical study on Fibro, which is currently the only way a broke ignorant college student can get access to innovative healthcare:

“From what you told me it seems like you will be a great candidate, I have had many other participants who don’t have an actual diagnosis, so that will not exclude you.”

Which was good enough for me, especially considering this untestable, incurable disease is diagnosed entirely on self-reporting of pain. Which I definitely have.

So, anyway, I’ve clearly got some major medical problems, but that list doesn’t really tell you anything. Here are some of the everyday effects of all my illnesses:

Extreme fatigue (insomnia, Fibromyalgia, migraines)

Difficulty concentrating (insomnia, migraines)

Pain (all of the above)

Hopelessness and irritability (pain, depression, bipolar)

Nasty belly cramps (IBS, womanhood)

Shame (IBS, everything else)

Light, sound, smell, taste, touch sensitivity (migraines, Fibromyalgia)

Loss of appetite (IBS, migraine, the physical act of eating hurts from Fibromyalgia)

Being freezing all the time (Raynaud’s, which means poor circulation)

Hot flashes (same thing, I can’t regulate my temperature from Raynaud’s)

Crying (pain)

Extremely painful muscle stiffness in the morning (Fibromyalgia)

Lots and lots of other unpredictable problems

Inability to recover (insomnia, everything else)

Basically, I wake up every morning feeling like I spent the night tied to active railroad tracks, and it only gets worse from there. And the best part is, it’s pretty much all (currently) incurable.

Sure, there are some kinds of okay treatments for some of these things, but it’s all in the works, and they’re meant for people who only have one of these problems. For example, Tylenol and NSAIDs can sometimes help my soft tissue pain, but it upsets my IBS which causes more pain, especially when combined with caffeine which I take for migraines, but that makes Raynaud’s worse (and believe me, you probably underestimate how painful it is to not be a nice, neutral temperature), and that’s all really stressful which makes my psychological things worse, which makes everything else worse, and whoopie now it’s a downward spiral.

And don’t forget! I was in college.

I thought I’d do something nice for myself, and secure some accommodations. What I didn’t realize is that those are designed for people who have nice, manageable problems. They’re meant to help you be more normal, by giving you slight advantages like being able to move to another room when your environment is too overwhelming, or get extra time on a test. It works all right at most schools, and if it doesn’t, you can at least keep yourself under the radar.

But I wanted something better for myself. I wanted something like me— unusual. Hard to believe. I wanted to go to a tiny, innovative engineering school called Olin College of Engineering, where everything is projects, and experiments, and teamwork, and fun. I loved it.

And despite what happened next, that school is my heart. It’s real small, and everyone (students, faculty, staff) is doing their damnedest to make it awesome. Everyone there works unbelievably hard, but sometimes, there’s just too much work to do, and someone has to suffer for it. This time, that person was me.

The flexibility of experimental, team-based classes was both a blessing and a curse. It meant I could take days off when I needed to, and work when I wanted to, and it would usually be fine. But it also meant I was held far more accountable for my actions than most college students- my peers, friends, and professors were putting faith in me that I would abide by our Honor Code, and do the best I could, always. So, sure, the students (which used to include me) might have a hard time getting to class on time, or at all, but damn do they work hard to deliver on that promise. If you’ve ever met an Oliner, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

What this school grants its students is this: Autonomy. From the school’s perspective, this is because if you give people the resources, teach them the skills, and see what they want to accomplish, the results are astounding. I love how fantastic that is in its own right, but from my perspective, it’s also the only way I can survive.

See, my disabilities don’t fit into pretty accommodating boxes. They’re messy, overwhelming, interactive, and fluctuate constantly (often even in span of just a few minutes). You may have heard how hard it is for anyone with a disability to explain it to someone else, and it’s about a million times harder for someone like me. It’s almost impossible for me to understand and predict my body, much less explain it to someone else. It takes a huge toll on how I can interact with people, so I end up just pretending everything’s fine because it’s just way too tiring to bring another person to an accurate understanding. And I look fine, don’t I?

So when the disabilities counselor asked what accommodations I needed, I came up blank. It was just too hard to come up with an accurate prediction.

Sometimes I need to leave the room, or run around the room to get my circulation going, or disappear for a few days, or nap for 10 minutes, or blindfold myself, or change clothes, or eat, or go to the bathroom, or whatever, and there’s a pretty solid chance I won’t know until it’s happening. Because, guys, I’m in excruciating pain all the time— Pain isn’t an indicator for me anymore. I have very little warning when my body needs something.

The problem is, the whole point of accommodations is to help normalize me into the system. But I have never been, and never will be, normal. I wanted to be, but my body can’t do it. I have to live a lifestyle that’s very very different from the norm because it’s fixing problems that the norm has never even considered. And the really shitty part of that is, what’s accommodating for me isn’t always going to be accommodating for you, and there’s a lot more of you. So when it comes down to it, I don’t even really get a say in the matter.

So, predictably I guess, the whole college thing failed miserably, because I fell into a downward spiral that I couldn’t get out of, and my school understandably attributed it to mania rather than the hoard of other medical problems that I couldn’t really explain, and I ended up in a psych ward. I had a bad time. I’m writing a book about it.

But how did I even make it through the first two years?

Yeah, I’m riddled with awful medical problems that make each other worse. Yeah, no one can help me. But I’m a goddamn human being, so I adapt, and I figure out how to turn my problems into my strengths. For example:

Problem: I can’t work for two weeks because my body is in excruciating pain.

Solution: Use my tendency for mania from bipolar disorder to make up the work.

Problem: I’m experiencing sensory overload from my environment, and I can’t focus, and I’m starting to panic.

Solution: Use my techniques to control my circulation to slow my heartbeat, which will help me be calm, and I can use my engineering skills to think of a better solution.

Problem: I’m in way too much pain to do this.

Solution: I will be in pain anyway (Fibromyalgia). Do it anyway. I’ve experienced enough pain so far that my pain tolerance is exceptional if I can figure out how to focus (caffeine).

And those are just some examples. After twenty years of living like this without perspective on what “normal” is (because guess what runs in the family!), that’s just what I learned to do. Figure out who or what I am, and make it work. I think that, at least, is a pretty standard human experience.

To that end, I’ve found a way to change my story from “despite everything” to “because of everything,” and even though I’ve suffered more than any person should from merely existing, I intend to make good on my internal promise to make this worth it. I’m going to make this world a place where someone like me can exist peacefully (and you’ll probably all benefit in the process).

So good luck, my friends, and keep on chugging. If I can do it, you most certainly can.

Yours,

Charlie

P.S. There’s like a lot more I want to say, but as I said before, it’s really hard to communicate my struggle. So just stay tuned, if you’re curious. Oh and, if you’ve gone through something similar and want a buddy, I gotchu fam. Stay strong.

Honor Board Case Studies

Hello from the Honor Board!

We recently held hearing panel pool trainings (thanks to everyone who came out and got trained) and got quite a bit of feedback regarding confusions about what sort of situations can be brought to the Honor Board. In efforts to help clear some of this confusion, we’re going to begin including some example cases that were brought to the Honor Board in the past. This time, we’ve included the case that we used during the case walkthrough portion of hearing panel pool training, as well as a case about tampering with fire alarms. Feel free to contact any of the Honor Board members with questions!

Lying to Group Members to Avoid a Meeting

Background and Charges

Kira and Leo were working on a four-person group project for Professor Wagner’s class. In general, the dynamic of the group was not working well: group members often did not have their work done in time for meetings, and frequently missed class work time. Shortly before one particular group meeting, Leo sent an email to the group saying that he would not be able to make it. He explained that he had a conflicting meeting for a group project in another class.

The next day, Kira was talking to a friend, and it came up in conversation that the friend had seen Leo playing video games during the time that the meeting of the previous night was going on. Kira later talked to Leo’s partner for the other class and learned that there had been no conflicting meeting scheduled for the other class. Kira, believing that Leo may have lied about having another meeting, submitted a report to the Honor Board.

In an interview with the Investigative Team, Kira explained that her goal was not to punish Leo, but to allow him to reflect upon his actions and understand their effects on others. She also noted that the team as a whole had not been functioning well, and no one had tried to initiate a discussion on improving team dynamics.

Leo was charged with violating the Respect for Others and Integrity clauses of the Honor Code. During a meeting with the Investigative Team, Leo accepted responsibility for the charges and expressed regret for his actions. The Investigative Team found the case to have merit for sanctions, and thus sent the case to hearing.

Sanctions

As Leo accepted the responsibility, the hearing panel went straight to the sanction-setting phase and decided upon the following sanctions:

– Letter of apology to Kira addressing how his actions affected the his group members

  Professor Wagner was asked to take the case into account in the grade given for the assignment

– Leo was given a disciplinary warning, indicating that future violations could involve harsher sanctions.

Furthermore, the panel recommended to the Dean of Student Life that a meeting be held with the group members and a mediator to discuss group dynamics, and how to improve in the future.

Tampering With a Fire Alarm

Background

During Orientation, a small group of friends wanted to make some ramen noodles. The previous night, many of the group involved in this incident had slept in the lounge because of a fire alarm that had been set off by steam while making tea in another room. In efforts to avoid setting off the room’s smoke alarm, the group decided to see if they could turn off the alarm. They examined the smoke alarm and noticed a small white button on the smoke alarm head. After a brief discussion, Peter was chosen to push the button to see what would happen. When he pushed the button, the alarm in Paige’s room immediately went off. Peter pushed the button again hoping to silence the alarm, to no avail. The R2 on call responded to the alarm and called Public Safety to let them know that there was not a real fire in the room.

Because the alarm was not tripped by particulates (steam, smoke, etc.), Public Safety was able to silence and reset the alarm. The largest inconvenience was for the students in the surrounding rooms, the R2 on call, and Public Safety. The R2 on call and Public Safety were able to intervene before the Fire Department was notified.

On Topic

After interviewing several others, the investigative team learned that students have tried to cover the smoke heads with plastic wrap in the past to prevent them from being triggered by particulates. By releasing this abstract, the Honor Board would like to highlight the dangers of disabling or covering detectors. Everyone involved with this incident agreed that the biggest danger was the failure of fire alarms in the case of a real fire. Fire-related deaths are more likely to happen as a result of smoke than fire, so particulate sensors are critical to Olin’s fire safety strategy.

This case also serves as a reminder to use the kitchens when dealing with potentially steamy or smoky food or drink. The fire alarms in the kitchen are temperature sensitive and do not use particulate sensors. These were specifically changed to provide a place for cooking that wouldn’t trigger the fire alarms in case of steam or smoke. Keeping the kitchen doors closed should also reduce the likelihood that the particulate sensors in the hallway will be triggered.

In EH, several particulate sensors are located near bathroom/shower doors and can be triggered by a steamy shower. Because these sensors are in places where people sleep, they cannot be changed to temperature sensors and students are asked to be extremely careful with taking a steamy shower near these sensors.

Capitalism Is Not Evil. We Are

An article in the last edition of Frankly Speaking purported that Capitalism is the “root cause” of sexism and racism in our society. The article looks at two examples to show how manipulative capitalism can be: movies feature largely white people for prominent roles; beauty products feature unrealistically beautiful people that foster insecurity in women. The article argues that Capitalism perpetuates these undesirable cultural values because they sell. In fact, the cause and effect are reversed.
Capitalism creates products that reflect the culture and values of the consumers. If you think that these companies are wrong, then fix it. Boycott the latest Marvel movie which only features light-skinned people. Don’t buy soap from a brand that reinforces harmful gender ideals. That is how capitalism works. If enough people feel like you, then things will change. In fact, this change has been happening for a while now. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign is now 10 years old. Could we have had a Hamilton 10, 20, 50 years ago?
Don’t be fooled into thinking that companies and playwrights are more progressive than they used to be. That is not the takeaway. Progressivism and inclusionism happen to be “in” right now, and businesses from soap to Broadway are just trying to sell you more products. The key point is that capitalism is not the “root cause” of sexism and racism in our society. Our culture is, and it is up to us to change it.

Cycling Through Your Options

In my past visit to the doctor, I asked for advice on what birth control method to use. My doctor suggested all hormonal based birth control and didn’t even mention the basal temperature and fertility awareness based methods that I looked into. When I asked her about it she said it was almost unusable and brushed it off completely.
This response stalled me for six months in deciding what to do next, what to research and how to make a decision that was best for me. I became incredibly skeptical of this doctor’s advice, but even then I could not understand. Did she receive negative feedback from others using this method? Does she not like the basal temperature method because it’s based on an algorithm instead of hormones? Was she unwilling to accept that I could look to solutions outside of that doctor’s office that are just as medically backed? And a last option, what if she actually had the best intentions and was just trying to help?
I found that fertility awareness based methods work by tracking your cycle through basal temperature patterns corresponding to hormone changes, cervical fluid, your period, and hormone tests (like an LH, luteinizing hormone test). There are about six days per month that a person who menstruates shouldn’t have unprotected sex (if using this method as birth control), based on the survival of sperm and the day you ovulate.
The method that I found works with an app called NaturalCycles, which works 93% of the time with typical use and 99% with perfect use (as compared to the pill, which is 91% effective with typical use and 99% with perfect use). The app is a certified medical device under an international ISO standard. As a brief explanation, this app is based on an algorithm that tracks information about your basal temperature, your period and LH tests. With this information, it can pinpoint the day you ovulate and basically tell you when to avoid unprotected sex. I have also talked to someone who tracks their cervical fluid and position as another way of understanding their cycle. I would suggest looking into all of this and any other method you are thinking about pursuing.
Hormonal birth control has been the default since the pill was popularized and to me, the fact that this is a default can be oppressive considering new technologies. Instead of trying to understand how a menstrual cycle works, the first solution is to alter hormones to stop the cycle altogether, and therefore increasing the possibility of depression. While I understand hormonal birth control has medical uses and benefits, I think some people might be more empowered through a furthered understanding of their hormonal cycle to prevent pregnancy. And I don’t think young people should immediately be given the advice to use hormonal options, without knowing the ways it can affect their life and well-being.
I’m not trying to tell people not to use hormonal birth control and I know those methods work really well for people who choose to use them. But I do want to remind everyone to be just a bit skeptical of people in positions of power, especially when it’s about your health and personal choices in systems that have long been used to oppress women and minorities in society.
I thought my experiences were important to share because I think birth control isn’t widely talked about, but it can drastically impact a person’s life. I want everyone to be able to make their own educated choices that are best for them.
If anyone wants to talk to me about my choices or this article, feel free to email me at emily.kohler@students.olin.edu or just come and talk to me sometime.
Citation
https://www.naturalcycles.com/en/science
https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill

The Secret to Productivity

Well, the secret to productivity is a lot of things, but for me, in all my pain and distress and inability to pay attention to things, discipline is the one. So hear me out:
You’ve heard it time and time again that the first step is the hardest one. That the real barrier to getting something done is even starting. It’s activation energy. And that, my friends, is super dang true.
So how do you start something? Honestly, it’s cliche, and you want there to be another answer because it’s hard, but you just have to do it. You have to start. And every time you do, rather than waiting until tomorrow with the false assumption that somehow you will magically get better at not procrastinating between now and then, you get better at starting anything. You are building discipline.
Now, it’s true that things are often way more overwhelming than that sounds, and the words “just start” are about as useful as “just fly to the moon,” and that sucks. So here’s some advice for that situation:
Every problem can be broken down. Every single one. If you face a problem or project that seems way too big to “just start” on, you need to break it down into something more manageable. If you need to write a paper, well ask yourself, what kind of paper? A research paper? What do I need to research? Where do I find that? Who is my audience? Do I know the set of words they use that most clearly communicates my idea? Where do I find it?
Is there anyone who knows more than I do, who would be willing to help?And so on. It’s a real rabbit hole once you start asking questions, but that’s how you learn, and that’s how you find the right place to “just start.”
And every time you break something down, and you find the discipline in yourself to get working, you get better at doing just that. The next time, it will be easier, and faster. And the next time. And the time after that. And you’ll just keep getting better and better at thinking and identifying and “just starting” until you are an unstoppable machine, and suddenly people are saying “Wow, there’s no way I could ever be like that.” But that’s what we all think before we actually try the thing that works.
But there’s more to it than that.
Eventually, you’ll get to a point when, damn, you just have no trouble at all “just starting” on something, and your limiting factor is now that you are unbelievably tired. But effort has gotten you this far, so effort is what will keep you going from now on right? No need for sleep, there’s work to be done, and you have the willpower!
But no, you do need the sleep. Just because you can now keep pushing yourself forward at your limits, doesn’t mean you should. Now you need to use your discipline to take care of yourself. And if you’ve asked yourself the right questions, you may have already realized this. Here’s how it looked for me:
How do I be the most efficient person I can be?
How do I have the most efficient body and brain?
How do I take care of myself?
How do I get myself regular sleep, food, water, and exercise?
How do I stay positive and motivated?
Do I have positive relationships?
How do I maintain those positive relationships?
How do I be a good person, the kind that people want around?
And, well, that last one led to a hoard of pretty damning moral questions. But that’s a post for a later date. The point is, I have seen so many people struggle to be disciplined in the first place, and even when they figure that out, they struggle to keep their momentum going. And that’s largely because they “forget” to take care of themselves. Listen, guys. There is no way you can keep running on empty and pushing yourself and still succeed, without at least suffering enormous personal consequences. You will burn out. There is no trying harder. There is only being smarter, and realizing that while you may be an unstoppable machine, you are still just a machine. Machines need maintenance. You need maintenance. You need to take care of yourself if you want to keep going. There is no other (good) way.
So think on that, young Padawans. The secret to productivity is more than just discipline. It’s the secret to being the best human you can possibly be. It’s asking yourself the right questions.
I hope this helps, because, well, the other secret is that you just have to trust on blind faith that you’re asking yourself the right questions. You’re going to end up on the wrong path a lot, and when that happens, it’s probably a good idea to try asking other people some questions too ;)
Yours, as always,
Charlie

A Sappy Gay Romance

The screams and hollers echoed across the beach. Kids were home for the summer. It was a small town, but it came alive every June.
Some kids would not return. They had jobs or relationships to keep. But I returned. I always did. And I hoped this would be the year that he stopped.
Suddenly, the calls became more distinct, as the man that I loved stepped on the dance floor. The girls latched onto him, and I sat patiently at the bar as he danced with each and every one.
“Isn’t he getting a bit too loose?”
“No. He does this every year. He’s just humoring them.”
“You are absolutely crazy. What do you suppose he gets up to at that college of his?”
“I don’t know, nor do I want to.”
He finally swaggered over, and suddenly we were alone. There was nothing that could ruin this night. As we hit 2 AM, slower songs were played. Swaying together under the strung up lanterns, I forgot how awkward it had been the first time, the both of us having to learn how men danced together.
“Hey.”
I pulled back a bit to look him in the eyes.
“What’s up?”
He smiled. “What d’you say we get out of here, for a bit?”
We snuck out of the festivities, heading farther down the beach. I dragged him into the water, both of us hating how stupidly cold it felt on first impact.
“You gonna stick around for the summer?”
He didn’t answer, just started arcing his foot through the water and flicking droplets into the air. I knew better than to wait for a real answer. Even the times when he was technically in town, we really only saw each other a handful of times. So instead of brooding over what wouldn’t happen, I poked his shoulder.
“Tag.”
I ran, harder than I ever had before in my life. But it didn’t matter. He was faster than me. He tackled me, and we both fell hard to the ground, laughing our heads off.
What I hadn’t anticipated was pulled into the path of the waves, screaming in indignation when the cold water crashed over me.
“So what’re we gonna get up to tonight, other than you getting soaked?”
I threw wet sand at him, which resulted in both of us getting wetter and sandier than was strictly speaking comfortable.
“Oh, to hell with it.” I yanked off my jeans, pretense be damned. Instantly felt ten degrees warmer. Then I laughed at the look of audacity on his face.
“Uh, we’re in public?”
“And these boxers are longer than shorts that girls wear in public. And it’s night. And you can loosen up a little.”
After squirming a little, he followed my lead. We each had jackets that had been left with shoes and phones at the top of the beach. Music came on from some crappy built-in speakers.
We danced till dawn, singing all the songs we knew by heart and even the ones we didn’t.
And just like that, the night was over. The summer would follow.

Grab a Fika!

Where is sporting costumes, singing songs and receiving a warm welcome to your new school a regular thing? Well, grab a fika, and we’ll tell you. If you were in the UK, it might be teatime but if you are lucky enough to be in Sweden, it’s a cozy coffee break or fika. Fika is an important aspect of Swedish culture and this is evident everywhere: at home, in the workplace, and on college campuses.
At LTH, the Engineering Faculty at Lund University, companies sponsor student events in order to get their names out among this cohort of future employee candidates. One of those events is the annual Nollning – the word in Swedish refers to an introduction for new and first-year students – a tradition at the prestigious Lund University in Lund, Sweden. Upperclassmen plan a variety of activities to give new students the opportunity to meet new friends, feel wel-

comed to their new home and to feel lagom, or in English, just right! The introduction lasts for five weeks and includes roughly 1200 new students with about 500 student mentors making it happen.
During Nollning, LTH students dress up in the different colors that represent their discipline, for example, mechanical engineers are red, computer science students are pink and electrical engineers are white. The disciplines compete against each other in different missions to celebrate fraternity and passion for their field. Nollning is a tradition that

connects students’ social and educational lives and is highly valued by Swedes.
If Olin College wants to prepare students to become innovative engineers who engage in creative solutions for the good of the world, then Oliners should get to know the world and the people in it. Learning about other cultures is filled with eye-opening and transformative experiences which is why I have embraced learning in a new environment. While I miss my home institution and my friends, studying in the United States has enriched my academic experience and provided meaningful cultural engagement with people from many backgrounds. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad!
Now you know 3 words in Swedish and a little about Swedish culture. If you would like to learn more, I am happy to share!

-Viktoria

In Defense of “A Defense”

Last month, in Mitch Cieminski’s article, “The Mercator Needs no Defense”, he made several compelling arguments advocating for the globe in favor of maps, and the Mercator Projection in particular. While the globe has its distinct advantages, so too do maps. We could argue for days about when maps are better than globes and which projection is best (the answer is Lee), but I fear Mr. Cieminski as well as many other readers may have taken my argument too far. To be clear, my article was merely a thought experiment, not to be taken seriously. After all, the entire notion of a map projection is nonsensical. To “project” the Earth onto a plane implies the Earth is not a plane to begin with. Round Earth Theory is an unfortunately widespread misconception that seems to have, in spite of obvious evidence all around us and empirical measurements of the Earth’s lack of curvature, made its way into Olin. I assumed while writing my little thought experiment that all readers would be aware of the true nature of the Earth, but I see now that I will need to educate the Olin community.
When first confronted with the planar Earth model, it is easy for one to brush it off as conspiracy theory nonsense. This is an acceptable response. In your defense, the government has been feeding you lies all your life in an attempt to make you easier to control. Therefore, I ask that you open your mind and temporarily cast aside all of the “facts” that you think you know, and instead of blindly relying on science for all the answers, actually think critically about the world and compose your model of the universe out of empirical evidence. Chances are, your teachers in elementary school were all under the same illusion as you are, so nothing they told you can be taken for granted. Photographs are easily falsified, so pictures of spherical earths and ship masts are not acceptable evidence, either. The only way to truly learn about the world is to trust your own twenty-one senses.
Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you what the Earth really looks like. The world is a large disc about 40,000 kilometers across with the North Pole in the center and the ice wall known as Antarctica surrounding it on all sides. The true map corresponds to what round-earthers call the “Polar projection” and can be found on the flag of the UN. What lies beyond the coast of Antarctica is a matter of great interest to those who know the truth. The sun and moon are both 50 km across and 5,000 km above the Earth’s surface. The sun circles the North Pole, sweeping its spotlight-like light across the time-zones. The moon follows a similar path, though at a slightly lower altitude, allowing for solar eclipses. A similarly sized third celestial body known as “the dark object” also orbits at a lower altitude, but is only visible when it moves in front of the moon during lunar eclipses (if that sounds ridiculous to you, remember that according to NASA, most of the mass in the galaxy is invisible). The entire system accelerates upward at 9.8 meters per second squared, creating the phenomenon most people know as “gravity”.
A common misconception regarding the spotlight sun model is that in order for the sun to set, it must sink beneath the Earth, which would plunge the entire world into darkness simultaneously. This is obviously not the case, as can be proven by anyone who has ever Skyped with someone in a different time zone. In actuality, the sunset is an illusion. As the sun moves horizontally farther away from an observer, it appears to move closer to the horizon because of perspective. It also appears to stay the same size, though, because of the way bright lights refract through large quantities of air. This phenomenon is why you can see the streetlights on the other side of a city even though when turned off they are far too distant to see. When the edge of the sun’s spotlight approaches the observer, the sun is so far away that it appears to be touching the horizon. At this point, high amounts of glare and refraction cause the sun to look far larger and less circular than it should, a fact that even round-earthers will admit (this is related to why one can look directly at a sunset without damaging one’s eyes). Thus, when the sun turns away and finally disappears, it looks as though it has descended beneath the horizon.
At this point, I can practically feel your skepticism. “The Earth can’t be flat,” you think. “For one thing, if the Earth were flat, we wouldn’t have a horizon!” This notion is complete trash. The existence of a horizon does not depend on a round Earth, as anyone who has played a superflat map in Minecraft can tell you. “If the Earth were planar, though,” people say, “you would be able to see from Boston to London. Instead, London is hidden from us by the Earth’s curvature.” This is also completely false. If you have ever stood on the southeastern tip of O’ahu and gazed over the Ka’iwi channel, chances are you will have seen naught but water. If it is a particularly clear day, you may have seen Haleakala on Maui. If it is exceptionally clear and the air highly transparent, you may have even glimpsed the silhouette of Mauna Kea. How far down the archipelago you can see is purely a function of clarity. Distant objects are hidden from us only by the omnipresent haze of slightly opaque air, which is why the clearer the day, the farther you can see. If the Earth truly curved, you would not be able to see Mauna Kea at all, it being a measly 4.2 kilometers above sea level and a whopping 280 kilometers away.
“But why, then, does increasing one’s altitude make more things visible?” you ask. This is common sense. Spherical or planar, the Earth’s surface is not perfectly smooth. In any direction from where you read this, you almost certainly see buildings, hills, mountains, and – if you are somewhere besides Olin – trees. Moving higher up enables an observer to see over these things. On a round Earth, in order to observe the horizon actually moving away, one would have to stand in a high place surrounded by bare flatland with some kind of metric to gauge the “distance” of the horizon (the ocean won’t work because there is no good way to tell how much of it one can see). If such a place existed and were easily accessible, you could test it for yourself and see that as you go higher, you don’t actually see more, but less.
There exist many other common “proofs” that the Earth is round. All are easily explained away by the actual model of the Earth. The fact that vertical sticks cast different shadows on different parts of the Earth is just as justifiable for a globe Earth and a distant sun as it is for a plane Earth and a nearby sun. The fact that other planets are round means little given that the Earth is the center of the Universe and is thus inherently special. The perceived curvature of the Earth one sees when in a plane is an illusion caused by the thick, pressurized airplane window. If that weren’t the case and the Earth’s radius were what the Government tells us it is, planes wouldn’t even fly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth. Similarly, the visual phenomenon of ships appearing mast-first over the horizon is an illusion; any ship at that distance appears small enough that it is easy to trick oneself into seeing what one expects to see. Besides, when was the last time any of you saw a ship with a mast (indefinitely docked historical ships don’t count)?
With all this in mind, the notion that the Earth is not round should be just as plausible as what you were led to believe. Given that, on top of all of this, the Earth _looks_ flat, the burden of proof should really rest on the round-earthers, not us. However, since I know you are all still skeptical, here is some evidence: the Bedford Level Experiment. In 1838, Samuel Birley Rowbotham observed a boat row 10 kilometers down a straight stretch of the Old Bedford River. If the Earth were round, by the time it got 10 kilometers away, the 1-meter mast should have been a full 3 meters below his line of sight. Instead, to his surprise, its height did not appear to change at all as it moved away from him, remaining perfectly visible above the water for the entire 10-kilometer stretch, proving that the Earth is not, in fact, curved, but flat. The masses, of course, paid little heed to the discovery, as confirmation bias will tend to make one do, particularly when the evidence so thoroughly disproves the public’s most basic of understanding of the world. I assume that if you have read this far that you are critical enough to honestly process this information and come to the correct conclusion.
But why would someone do such a thing? If all this is true, then many people must be in on it and have good reason to keep it a secret. To start, whether the space industry is in on it is unknown at this point. In all likelihood, space travel is impossible, so when NASA created the pictures of the Earth for the Apollo program, they depicted it as they expected it to be – round. The fake pictures of a round Earth may simply be the result of the government lying to NASA along with the rest of the citizenry. Why would the Government lie to the citizenry, though? No one is sure, but the best explanation I have found is this: when one thinks they live on a tiny orb orbiting the sun along with seven other planets, hurtling through an unthinkably large galaxy in an unthinkably large universe, it makes one feel insignificant.
And people who feel insignificant are easier to control. Take a look around. The first mentions of a spherical Earth are from the third century. One of the galaxies allegedly in the local group is called “Triangulum”. The first digit of pi is 3. We have three branches of government! Wake up, sheeple. The Illuminati have been lying to you all your life about the nature of the Earth in an attempt to manipulate you. First they tell us the Earth is round. What’s next? Area 51 is a hoax? Lizard people are fake? Olin, it’s time to stand up, look around, and rise against our masters. Judgement day is near. Until then, remember to wear plenty of iron, and never use the same parking stall twice. Stay flat, comrades.

SERV Activity Update

SERV Auction: Justin Kunimune
The SERV Auction has kicked off with the Silent Auction opening this week. Be sure to look through the bids for things that interest you; all money raised will go to the charity chosen by the community. Also be sure to come to the Live Auction on Friday in the Dining Hall during lunch! Proceeds go to Unidos por Puerto Rico.

Big Brothers Big Sisters: Justin Kunimune
The program has started up for the semester, with a total of thirty matches. There have been three outings at Babson thus far, with plenty more scheduled for the rest of the semester.

Charles River Center: Emma Price
The Charles River Center is a non-profit organization based in Needham that works to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities and help support their families. They have a variety of different programs for people of all ages, all with really fun activities like Zumba and yoga!

MSPCA (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals): Emma Price
MSCPA is a great organization that takes in animals all over the state, makes sure they’re healthy, and finds good homes for them. They take all variety of animals and have volunteer positions like cat adoption room monitor (that’s what I do), dog walker, small animal monitor, and a ton more!

Bikes Not Bombs: Maggie Jakus
Bikes Not Bombs is an organization that recycles old bicycles and sends bikes to economic development programs around the world as well as youth education programs in the nearby area. They have volunteer nights on Thursdays when volunteers prepare bikes for shipment. You also get to learn a lot about bikes!

Crossword Puzzle

ACROSS
1 Japanese fighting fish
5 Is vaccinated
11 Ortiz and Armas
12 Chinese philosophy
13 Bygone media storer
15 Like outer space
16 Eucalyptus eater
17 Writes down
18 Video game “Orc-Town”
20 Racket overseers
21 Mascot is Pistol Pete
26 More abrupt
28 HP actor ___ Rickman
29 Brains, informally
31 Many messes
33 The world has five of them
36 Artificial caves
38 ___ De Janeiro
39 Zeus and Ares
40 Hospital staffer
41 Dem or Rep
43 Of sturdy wood
47 Francés river
48 Japanese mafia

DOWN
1 Get cold feet (2 words)
2 Sponsor
3 Bubbles voice actress
4 Athens soldier
5 Common sayings
6 Wal ___
7 Chemistry unit
8 Doing 180’s
9 Compass direction
10 Ambulance letters
14 Worlds’ deadliest creature
15 Per ___
19 On the way (informal, 2 words)
22 Greek automaton
23 SNL’s ___ Baldwin
24 Stun-gun
25 printing unit
27 Upheld the law
30 Bone prefix
32 Element #18
34 Casper’s need
35 Italian grandma
37 Give the green light
41 “To ___ or not to ___”
42 Ion battery metal
44 Famed pharaoh
45 Writer ___ Johnston
46 La Jolla college