Road Trip–Open Thread

Just a quick note to say, don’t expect me around for the next week to 10 days; I have no idea whether I will even have internet access at all.

I expect this comment thread to be full of wonderful stuff when I get back. That’s a reasonable expectation for an internet comment thread, isn’t it?

The Latest Word On Mabus–A Second Guilty Plea

From the Montreal Gazette:

A St-Laurent man who continued posting threats on social networks like Facebook and Twitter even though he was under a court order not to do so has pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and to threatening the police officer who arrested him.

Dennis Markuze, 43, a man who often uses the alias David Mabus when he makes threats, appeared before Quebec Court Judge Jean-Claude Boyer at the Montreal courthouse on Thursday where he entered a plea to three charges in all, including a breach of his probation.

There is much more there if you want to read it, but the gist is, he couldn’t keep from making threats. Having been on the receiving end of some (well, hundreds, but a fraction of what PZ got) of those threats (only a couple since his first arrest), this story is important to me, but really because I agree with Tim Farley (who is one of the recent victims of Mabus’s attacks, leading to today’s ruling):

I sincerely hope that investigation will finally result in Markuze getting the treatment he clearly needs.

Sentencing is set for November 21.

Someone Is… On The Internet

An article on politics—
No if, no ands, no buts—
Will bring out Libertarians
Who’ll demonstrate they’re nuts
But also arch-conservatives
And liberals by the score
Who’ll engage in verbal fisticuffs
And all return for more.

An essay on religion—
Any angle you might choose—
An opinionated blog post
Or the fair and balanced news
Will find arguments aplenty
By extremists on both sides
(Oh, and everyone’s extremist)
As predictable as tides

A feminist perspective—
On whatever thing you want—
Will, like maggots on a rotting corpse,
Erupt in shouts of “cunt!”
Any argument transmogrified,
Distorted, shouted down;
The important thing is showing
Who’s the big dog in this town

A report about the climate,
Evolution, or vaccines,
Gun control, or education,
GM foods, or gay Marines—
In the comments, it’s a certainty,
As daytime follows night,
That opposing sides will gather there
And then begin to fight.

A picture of a kitten—
Or a puppy, or some ducks—
The comments start with “ooh!” and “squee!”
And then—“Obama sucks!”
Or a photo of a fetus
Or “nice pussy!” or some threat…
It’s depressing; it’s disturbing;
It’s annoying… it’s the ‘net.

I was going to link the article that inspired this particular verse, but it frankly doesn’t deserve singling out. And I don’t mean that in a positive way–it does deserve being seen as shameful… but so do countless others that could just as easily have inspired today’s verse… and, to some extent, did, I guess. I am sure you’ve had the experience (unless you have taken the very good advice of NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!!!!) of reading some innocuous piece of reporting, or some blog post (whether a report on breaking news, new science, or what the writer did last night or found in their shoes this morning), and there in the comments, a non-sequitor (or at best, tangential) comment linking the writing to the commenter’s particular grudge–Obama, usually, or atheists or christians or muslims or libertarians or gays or blacks or trans or women or mentally ill or republican or democrat or jews or nazis or activists of all sorts… it will depend on who are the naturally occurring flora and fauna at that particular site. If your experience is with completely different accusations, all that means is that you read different sites than I do.

It almost doesn’t matter what the original writing was about; the real action is in the comments. People who say this is a post-racial society… don’t read the comments. People who say this is a post-feminist society… don’t read the comments. People who say the real victims today are conservative white Christian males… don’t read the comments. Reading the comments is like turning on the lights in a filthy room–you see things you really wish you had not.

I think I’ll go shower now.

I suppose this is related.

Sale!

I’d have given you warning, but I only just heard, myself.

The Lulu people are having a 20% off sale on everything. That’s the best deal I’ve seen so far, so I thought I’d let you know. This means 1/5 off on any of my books, seeing as they are self-published through Lulu–so, 20% off on Ink, and 20% off on the Omnibus… and if you really want to be a collector, 20% off of everything else, too. I’ve linked to the dead-tree versions, but it ought to work for the e-versions as well.

At the checkout, the code is SUPER20 –the offer ends March 10, 11:59 PM.

To The Person Who Cut & Pasted My Entire Post On Your Site…

Not cool.

You may have been motivated by the best of intentions… you may have intended to flatter me… you may have intended to reap the ad revenue from your site without doing the actual work.

I have no idea what your intentions were. I just know that you posted my entire post on your site. Under someone else’s name.

Let me know where to send the bill; I’m sure you intended to ask up front, but since you didn’t, I can only conclude that money is no object, and will charge accordingly.

Happy Darwin Day!

I am A) exhausted from a long day, and B) sick as a dog. Or maybe two dogs. I can’t breathe, I can’t think, I can’t … something.

But it’s Darwin Day today, to I get to link to two earlier bits, both of which deserve it. One is a song addressed to Darwin himself, letting him know how things turned out.

Excerpt:

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin, take a look around today—
You might recognize the path we took, cos you showed us the way.
We will celebrate your influence with unabashed delight;
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin, you were right!

The other was my report of a Darwin Day talk (by Daniel Dennett), which turned into the single best comment thread in the history of the interwebs. Seriously. I’d give you a sample, but I’d rather you approach it like the first people to see the Grand Canyon, walking up on foot and finding an astonishing landscape, rather than passing judgment based on a postcard. But yeah, the single greatest comment thread ever.

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin! (of course, by now, it is the day after his birth in the country of his birth. Oh, well.)

This Machine

Roots are neat things–they can intertwine in odd ways sometimes. I mentioned a couple of days ago that were it not for Pete Seeger, there would be no Digital Cuttlefish. Seeger’s influence, though, does not take just one direct path–Seeger influenced lots of people who (unintentionally, I assure you) shaped me in turn–Dylan, for instance, and Mojo Nixon, and Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen… sometimes you can see direct influences of these people in a verse I write (in such cases I usually try to apologize to Bob Dylan, for instance), and sometimes it is more subtle.

One such intermediate influence is Roy Zimmerman. He doesn’t know it, but we’ve met, a couple of times, and I have quite a few of his CD’s autographed by him (the others, not yet signed). His facility with wordplay is as inspiring as the ideas thus presented, which is saying something. Anyway, the video below was just sent out via his newsletter–if you aren’t already receiving it, click through to youtube and follow the link to subscribe (I’d link here, but I’m assuming he gets revenues through youtube as well, so give an artist some clicks)–and it is inspired by and dedicated to Pete Seeger. I’d explain the “this machine” reference, but Zimmerman does, and I don’t want to steal his thunder.

My own machine has no strings at all, but (I am reliably told) it is mightier than a sword.