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One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson went before the United States Senate and asked Congress for a declaration of war against the Central Powers. The impetus for this declaration was Wilhelmine Germany’s return to unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic. Wilson, who had a year earlier campaigned on a promise of keeping the United States out of war, now, in April, asked to send American boys to Europe in order to

fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

More… “Mist, Mountains, and Men”

Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Boston. He is the author of Hands Dabbled in Blood.
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As a child, I believed my 16-year-old babysitter, at the peak of adulthood, had all of the answers one could have. She had hip kicks, cool hair, and was in high school, which I assumed to be the height of “getting it.” She was old enough to understand the complexities of the universe (for me, at the time, that meant she could make mac and cheese from a blue box), yet not old enough to be out of touch with youth culture. I could not wait to become a teenager and to be as cool as she and the other teens I saw on TV, like Kelly Kapowski, Shawn Hunter, and Clarissa Darling. When I reached that threshold, I learned I was drastically wrong and shifted my gaze to 18 . . . and then at 18 to 21, 21 to 30. Now I’m just waiting for the comfort of the void. More… “Good Graces”

Melinda Lewis has a PhD in American Culture Studies. She knows more celebrity gossip than basic math and watches too much television.
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Part of the development of a socially maladjusted teenage girl — right around the same time she starts carrying Sylvia Plath’s Ariel with her everywhere she goes, scribbling in the margins; hacks at her own hair with dull kitchen shears; and discovers a copy of Hole’s Pretty on the Inside — is an obsession with the Salem Witch Trials. The more she learns about the 19 women and men who were executed in a little over a year, the more it reinforces her cynical theories about society — specifically that, as a woman, if you refuse to conform you will be left vulnerable.

The targets of these trials were not just those women who were unable to fulfill their womanly duties — the postmenopausal, the barren, the spinsters and widows. Women who stood up for their rights —… More…

Today’s oenophiles have to consider the possibility that their valuable wine bottles may be corked, oxidized, “maderized” (ruined due to over-heating), re-fermented (gone fizzy in the bottle), or sullied by a contaminant. Things were much easier in 16th-century Italy: You could just blame the witches. It was commonly believed that after their satanic midnight Sabbath parties, witches had the nasty habit of invading a village’s wine cellars and sullying the vats with their urine or excrement. This, needless to say, did nothing for a wine’s bouquet. Thousands of European women were being burned at the stake for their evil powers, but somehow the problem could not be controlled.

The situation was better if you happened to live in northern Italy’s alpine province of Friuli on the border with Austria (still a fine wine-producing region), because there dwelt a team of occult heroes: the benandanti, or Good Walkers, a revered group… More…