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RYAN DENNIS

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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I don’t know what put the idea in my head, but I assume it was one of my father’s stories about making maple syrup as a teenager. Or maybe it was simply that it allowed him to buy a nice car in his teens.

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Farming is seldom at the heart of social and political controversy. That is not the case in South Africa, however.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently begun to make good on his promise to expropriate farmland owned by the white population and redistribute it to black citizens.

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My housemate brought home a virtual reality headset. Being somewhat behind the times, I still thought they were the imagination of science fiction. Slipping it on, I was amazed at how fast the physical world disappeared.

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In an age of alternative facts, spin doctors and stilted media outlets, it is up to the individual to question the information he or she is given. It is no longer enough to be told something or to see it on the television.

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“Don’t worry,” I told my girlfriend. “There are a lot of 18-year-olds who live around us. They’ll get eaten first.”

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse is one of my side hobbies. When I drift out of a conversation, usually it is because I’m evaluating the surrounding space and considering how to bolster it against the infected hordes.

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Southern Italy can be a tough place to live. My girlfriend is a hardened product of its streets. She rode the public bus two hours to school each day while ignoring the perverse catcalls of nefarious men (and once a slap in the face from an old woman).

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