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.


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.


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.

It should be against the law to offend me

We don’t, normally, see swooning
Over atheist cartooning
But the problem is ballooning
Or, that’s what they’d have us know

One cartoon, they think, might seize us
(They assume it cannot please us)
Cos it shows the face of Jesus
And his little buddy, Mo.

There’s an Author whose creation
Shows a cruel imagination
And whose acts deserve damnation
Or, again, that’s what they say

But the audience intended
Finds the humour simply splendid
It comes highly recommended
By the atheists today!

You all, I am sure, know Jesus and Mo, and the manufactroversy surrounding the cartoon.

Jesus and Mo is offensive. To some people. In very nearly the exact same sense as the bible and the qur’an are offensive, to other people. (and in very nearly the exact same sense as the failure to capitalize the words “bible” and “qur’an” is to still more people.)

I like being offended every once in a while–keeps me from boring myself to death, and surprises me every once in a while with something I thought would offend me, but does not (I’m looking at you, brussels sprouts). I think I’d rather have a variable world that sometimes colors outside the lines of my preferences, than one that always stays safely within the realms of any and all offense. The price I pay to discover new favorites, is the occasional discovery of something offensive. This happens with art, with literature, with food…

I am reminded (true story) of a friend who claimed that “anyone who only ever does it in one position…. that’s a fetish.” She would be (indeed, was) offended by the very conservatism in sex that took offense at her views.

Hmmm… I guess we can’t aim at “no offense” without dooming ourselves to extinction, then.

Maybe we can settle for the government not taking sides.

So, How’d The Test Go, India?

Over the past few days, I’ve had a substantial (for me, that is, a very small fish in the FtB pond) bump in page views, all coming from various locations in India. I have come to learn, over the past couple of years, that this means there is a test coming up. My verse, Time To Eat The Dog?, is in a textbook.

But the thing is, I never hear back from people (well, not true–I heard back from one, who agrees with me that it is a very simple verse, and was graded down for not having a deeper analysis) after they take the exam and get feedback on their answer! Also, I have never heard from any of the teachers!

So, If you are one of the teachers or students, I really would love to hear how people did! And if you are one of the MacMillan publishers, I am perhaps even more curious to know why you chose that verse!

Giving Up Rhyming For A Year

I think, for the year, I will write in prose only; no rhyme and no meter, no scansion, no verse. Iambic pentameter? Perish the notion! We’ll see if my writing gets better… or worse.

A year without sonnets, or ballads, or limericks; a year without couplets or bad villanelles; a year when my thoughts must be written, unfiltered by badly-forced rhymes jammed in metrical shells.

I’ve posted in quatrains; I’ve posted in couplets; I’ve posted a few in a form of my own. I’ve written more verse than I care to remember, in forms more diverse than most people have known! But now, for one year, I will change up my thinking; I’ll curb my obsession with meter and rhyme.

Or maybe I won’t, cos this “try it a year” bit is silly, and simply a waste of my time.