The Art of Building Sand Castles

There's something existentially good about bringing your children to the beach. For so many of us, there's an unquiet pull toward the shore, something inside that beckons us to find the land's terminus, and I assure you the same measure plums a line in kids' hearts as well. 

The beach is a homing beacon, a pulse that corrects our attitudes, a constant. Even the first night, after we'd unpacked the van and made the inaugural supply trip and found a simple supper, even then, something compelled us to walk out on the pier, crossing the high tide below us in darkness, the somber fishermen, their night baited hooks lurking forty feet down, the sea gentle and present and lulling us, back and forth, over and over, transfixed.

A fellow plucked a baby shark from the murky sea. The pup flopped about on the pier's deck a bit until its new master, a grandfather who seemed preternaturally calm about handling even foot-long sharks, bare-handed it. My children gazed on as he pushed the hook back through and untangled his catch. "Want to touch him?" he asked. 

Thomas looked up at me, and Julia, casual as ever, stepped forward, her fingers running with the grain of the pup's scales. It was a classically composed specimen, speedy lines, its nose pushed over its jaws, a startling countenance even in miniature. Thomas joined in after determining the catch wouldn't, in fact, attempt to kill him. We saw another shark hauled up in our twenty minute walk down the pier and back; it might have been the same shark caught twice, maybe just a young, dumb bloke who was the only thing swimming around out there, the lure of another chunk of shrimp too good to pass up.


In a Different America

In a different America — not necessarily a better or perfect America, just a different one — our country’s reaction to Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge police might be enough.

In a different America, we would awake to the news of Philando Castile’s death in Minnesota with the same shock we felt when another plane hit the Twin Towers, with the same feeling of dread when Robert Kennedy was killed, with the same feeling of helplessness when the bomb went off at the Boston finish line.

In a different America, the Republican House caucus would take up the matter of police brutality against African Americans, opening an investigation into this startling trend made public thanks to vigilant citizens and their cell phone cameras. Speaker Paul Ryan would gavel Congress into a special session so that our country might pause together in a moment of silence to remember Alton and Philando and their families, and others who unjustly died at the hands of justice and their families.


What if the Senate Made a $70 Million Scholarship Program Instead?

The NC Senate has already said it will commit up to $70 million to subsidize their tuition cut plan at five UNC schools. What if they created a scholarship program instead? 

The current North Carolina Senate budget for 2016-17 includes a controversial plan to substantially reduce tuition and student fee revenue at five UNC system institutions: Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, UNC-Pembroke, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University. Currently, the plan limits tuition at these universities to $1,000 per year; student fees are also capped. The senate plans to subsidize the funds lost through a general state budget commitment of $70 million. 

While the intentions of this legislation—to make a college education more readily accessible—are indeed quite noble, the means of this action are misguided. I would like to propose a better solution that accomplishes more and costs the same: using the $70 million in state funding to create an unprecedented scholarship program for these five universities.