The Best of ATM, 2015: Nonfiction

As 2015 comes to its close, Across the Margin takes a look back at some of its most treasured moments in Nonfiction…

Throughout this final week of 2015, Across the Margin will be seasoning the air with thanks for all those who have spent time within our pages while sharing our picks for the “Best of Across the Margin, 2015.” Our best-of compilitations continue with a look at our choices for the finest Nonfiction articles of the year, and an excerpt from each to wet your whistle…

Their Hands by Michael Shields

Giving in to warmongering, closing your heart to those truly in need, and succumbing to panic means that not only are you exacerbating the problem, but you’re playing right into their hands…

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“The War on Terror has never been a conventional battle. And this is true now more than ever. The front lines of this war do not involve guns or violence, but ideas and tolerance. We cannot give in to the temptation to become, as a society, what we claim to detest most.”

Grammar of Mime by Melissa Wiley

The problem with using whiteness as a blankness, and with equating it with a nothingness…

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“The whiteness or the blackness of things has more to do with visibility, I’d say, than beauty. With volume over musicality. Yet many things speak more quietly, and every time I see a greyhound, I feel as if I’ve seen only half of its body. As if someone has sliced off half of it on the bias or, alternatively, half has disappeared deliberately, likely to escape some suffering. So that if I walk too closely to it while passing its owner on the sidewalk, I’m actually walking through it partially. A white greyhound in particular gives me the shivers. Because there is whiteness and there is clarity. There is the dog’s coat containing so much blood and organs, and there is its invisibility. The half gone missing about whom no one says anything.”

Stewart Signs off by Michael Shields w/ Tom Rau

Across the Margin bids farewell to the shrewdest voice in fake news…

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“Like a child who speaks honestly about the way in which he or she sees the world, Stewart voiced what so many of us were thinking. Since 1999, Jon Stewart has acted as America’s voice of reason. As our Moment of Zen in a loud, uncertain and chaotic world. He has functioned as the anger that boils over inside of us. And most importantly, he has characterized the deep exasperation that maturates when rational thinkers are forced to try to make sense of the senseless.”

The Cheater’s Hive Gets Hacked by Chris Thompson

The personal data of 37 million Ashley Madison users was published to the Internet, and the fallout from this “crime” has only just begun…

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“The world is more like fifty shades of grey when it comes to things like the Internet and our motivations for doing what we do online. I think the answer as to whether Ashley Madison’s members share in any of the guilt or deserve our fury is a bit more subtle. A little more in-between, and to pass judgement on the entirety of Ashley Madison’s users without an understanding of each individual’s motivations to join, is a dangerous route to take.”

Another Day in America by Michael Shields

When will enough be enough, or are routine casualties an acceptable cost of ensuring our right to arms?

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“The blood drips from all our palms. Our cumulative body count rises annually. Thousands of lives lost, and the responsibility lies not solely with that disillusioned murderer who pulled the trigger. For it is Us who failed to speak up and do something about this. For it is Us who has failed to demand change. Because if we did indeed stand up in unison and cried out, “No More!” – we could turn the tide. If we really wanted to end the hurt, the senseless killings, it is possible. We have to want to. And it sadly appears, we do not.”

The Place Where You Write Romance Novels by Allie Burke

The mélange of life, the curious moments that take grasp…

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“He dances over to me like a princess in a pink tutu and not at all like a thirty-year-old man with a beard, and the whole world disappears. I’m in his arms and he smells like tea tree and cigarettes and like the color blue. He could not possibly grasp all of my thick hair in his two callused hands, but he tries. I have easily lost nine minutes and thirty-six wordless seconds of my life that ends with the burial of my face in his warm neck. I let go, consistently reminding myself that this is how he treats everyone and that I am not special. He makes everyone feel special, and that is kind of the point.”

Read more of Allie Burke’s ventures Across the Margin here.

It’s Funny Until It’s Not by Michael Shields

The official time-limit on Donald Trump’s spectacle of a Presidential run has now been set…

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“Stretching the truth in the world of Reality-TV isn’t cause for much concern, and so far taking this approach for a political edge in attempting to gain the Republican Party’s nomination has only strengthened the bond between him and his supporters. Trump has contorted reality on matters ranging from the global economy, the law-breaking tendencies of illegal aliens, the rate of immigration, and his militaristic penchant. He knows no shame. He is Kenny Powers with a bulging bank account, and will say anything to garner voter’s attention.”

On Guns & Gun Control by Keith Lesmeister

A guest contributor continues the crucial conversation about gun control, arguing that “to do nothing is a cold, callous, [and an] inappropriate response to an issue that demands our attention.”

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“To do nothing, or to arm more people, or to listen to politicians bicker, is not the answer. To do nothing is a cold, callous, inappropriate response to an issue that demands our attention. To arm more people who aren’t comfortable with, or around, guns, is, in my mind, not the kind of society we want. I don’t want to see people carrying AK-47s around in the grocery store, or people strolling down the street with an Uzi. I just don’t.”

Life on Mars: Water, Water Everywhere by Chris Thompson

Once again, Across the Margin cranks up the voltage and points its high-powered antennas towards Mars…

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“We have discovered life existing, and even thriving, within some of the most violent, toxic and uninviting places on this planet. And each time we discover another microorganism, another version of life, be it living deep, deep underwater near boiling “black smoker” volcanic vents, or way up in the arctic buried under miles of crushing, froze ice, or even hundreds of miles up in the sky, flourishing within the clouds, we are forced to redefine what we mean by “life.” In all of these harsh environments where we reasoned life could not exist, there is water, the giver of life, and if life can evolve and survive in places we never considered possible, what’s to say that there aren’t little recesses of habitability somewhere on Mars?”

Beyond the N.R.A. by Michael Shields

There is more than meets the eye, in this contest that pits the worthiness of human lives versus revenue…

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“Although many turn towards the Constitution in defense of the “right to bear arms,” few people authentically believe it is about maintaining a militia; it’s about devotion and legacy, and more than that – it’s often about power. Guns have the capability to appease one’s ego. They possess the ability to make a person feel all-powerful and authoritative, and deceptively safe. But again, there is more to it. It isn’t simply about culture, ego, or the aforementioned motives of the N.R.A.. It once again comes down to the almighty dollar. Guns, it turns out, are our livelihood.”

The Rising Dilemma Regarding Post-Secondary Education by Douglas Grant

Essential reading for students pondering their future…

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“College is an opportunity that much of America’s youth should still aspire to, and there’s no denying that it vastly improves one’s chances at success in life. But we live in a different world now, and gargantuan student loans and their subsequent interest rates have made it so that the deck is stacked against college hopefuls. Attending college may still be the best path to the middle class, but if this surge in the cost of the experience continues unchecked, more and more teens may find that the stress that awaits them in their early adult years outweighs the limitless possibilities offered by campus life.”

In Defense of Uncivil Disobedience by Michael Shields

One man’s take on the upheaval in Baltimore. A plea for understanding…

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“When the general response by a significant and empowered faction of the population echoes a resentment of the young “thugs,” eager for their voices, their plight, to finally be heard, something is off. When backlash to the rioters appears more anxious to speak on the behalf of damaged property than to stand up in defense of another young life taken unjustly, the wrong message is sent. This reaction, in fact, wholly justifies the righteousness of the exasperated manner in which those who have chosen to take matters into their own hands have responded.”

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