This muntjac is in the public domain (a svithe)


Although media has never been produced at the rate it is being produced today, media has for thousands of years been created and loved and then fallen into the public domain. The US Constitution provides for copyright and although I'm not an expert, I think that US law was among the first to take copyright somewhat seriously (somewhat). Although it was okay to rip off Charles Dickens, of course. (As well as anyone else who wasn't an American.) (And rightly so.) (Huzzah!)

Really, violation of copyright law is a grand American tradition--who am I kidding? But this svithe is not going to justify Kazaa or its ilk; instead it is going to talk about Sonny Bono--whom, I am sure you will agree, is a much more fitting topic for a svithe.

Sonny, as a Disney minion, rewrote copyright in 1998, making the law so endless as to be draconian. What people seem to have forgotten is that "the Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

But what crazy Sonny Bono did was make "limited times" meaningless--if it won't expire in my grandchildren's lifetimes, in what way precisely is it "limited"?

Anyway, this is a svithe, not a rant, so let me now soothe your aching souls.

The modern trends of copyright law are not very Christian, if you don't mind possible hyperbole. It is fair and right and just that a creator should be able to make a living off his work. But it is also fair and right and just that all art should pass into the public domain in a timely manner that all may be edified.

I'm reminded ofthe story of Ananais, who selfishly held on to his own property to the detriment of his fellow Saints (and himself, as it ended up).

Whether you consider genius a gift of God or not, I don't see how you can deny that its fruits have great potential to benefit everyone, not just the creator--and that to permanently withhold art is either cruelty or hubris.

IN OTHER WORDS, modern copyright law is creating a culture of greed and laziness and high intellectual fences with razor wire on top. Instead of great work (or even mediocre work) belonging to the public, it is being kept in closets and rented out for money by generation after generation. And the next time Micky Mouse gets close to the public domain, we can probably expect to see copyright law add another dozen decades.

I'm sorry. I keep trying to turn this into a nice analogy that we can apply to our personal lives, but then I lose track and get angry again. The fact is that modern copyright law is a reflection of modern culture: greedy, selfish, clannish. And we need to be aware of the culture we live in if we want to overcome it, and become a people who love and support everyone, who think the poor fellow with the sign is as worthy of our sympathies as our own blood. If we want to be Christlike, in other words.


I guess I'll start by trying to love Sonny Bono.....

last week's svithe


If I knew how to count


then I wouldn't have to bring my wife along when doing the following things:

. . . . scrambling four eggs.

- -- - walking eight blocks.

. . . . determining how many socks to put on.

- -- - giving one pancake to each sleepover guest.

. . . . eating a Tootsie Pop.


Twas the svithe before Christmas


Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend what we Mormons call a "convert baptism"--meaning an adult has looked into this wacky Mormon stuff, worked through it, and decided to join up by being fully submerged in lukewarm water. It's a big deal to us.

I'm always envious of those who decide to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as adults. Anyone who thinks becoming a Mormon must be a simple thing, is wrong. In a secular world, any sort of faith requires serious effort, and Mormonism is more demanding than most. But that's precisely what I'm envious of--that work.

Everything in life has come to me easily---not just my religion. I live in a land of plenty, and my comparative poverty would be manic wealth in much of the world. I attended a university for little personal expenditure. I've never spent months with zero possibility of income. I've never missed a meal because the possibility of a meal did not exist. And so forth. If I am now thirty and not rich beyond imagining, it is entirely my own fault. Every opportunity has been given me.

So for Christmas this year, I don't need any more gifts. I just need to recognize the gifts I have---and to stop using them as a crutch, and to begin using them for the betterment of my family (and the human family) in every way I can.

last week's svithe



As long as I'm bad-mouthing Overstock, how 'bout I accuse them of racism?


Many of you commented on my last Overstock-themed post that the company likely outsources its customer service to some place like India. After going back and rereading my previous exchanges with them, I'm prone to accept that argument.

In fact, what's surprising is that I didn't arrive at that conclusion on my own, given the reps' rather awkwardly polite prose style.

And then I realized: excepting "Jack", all the customer service reps had names that would generally be classified as somewhere between "very black" and "sambo"--which is where the accusation comes in:

See, I had been imagining a call center in the ghetto, giving some American citizens a leg-up into the middle class.

Instead, those names were being used to disguise a foreign-based workforce and the exportation of money that could instead have been in the ghetto doing some good at home.


I wonder if it's true.

You snooze, you lose


So Blogger is now announcing on my dashboard that they are all out of Beta. Personally, I think it's part of a plot to create rarity so I won't miss my chance next time, but I've spent so much of my life (100%) being too poor to afford the early-adopter lifestyle, that I can't feel too bad about missing a chance to do it for free.

Besides, being an early adopter just gives you a closet full of Beta tapes and Atari Jaguars.

And I've got enough of those already.


"Golly! I sure do love that Overstock.com!" said the overjoyed customer....


So, for the fourth time in a month, I've been online chatting with Overstock's customer service reps. I thought you might like to see this most recent one. (Pay attention, internet shoppers!) I would give you all the background information, but it'll just make me mad again. Besides, it's all explained here.

    Chat Information Welcome to Overstock.com's Customer Service Live Chat! You will be joined with a chat representative as quickly as possible. (2 to 5 minutes)

    Chat Information Welcome to Overstock.com Customer Service, you are now chatting with Jack.

    Jack: Thanks for visiting Overstock.com, my name is Jack, how can I help you?

    Theric: I'm contacting you about Invoice Number 3******2 ([PARTICULAR ITEM]) (my name is Theric Thteed, [MY ADDRESS], El Cerrito, CA 945**), which I returned. On 11/15 when I chatted with Peyton, Overstock agreed to refund not only the cost of the item, but also the shipping, since I never ordered it in the first place--it was sent by mistake. The cost of the item HAS been refunded, but the shipping ($5.30) was NOT. So I just want it sent. Thanks.

    Jack: Hi there, how are you doing today?

    Theric: Fine.

    Theric: I'm contacting you about Invoice Number 3******2 ([PARTICULAR ITEM]) (my name is Theric Thteed, [MY ADDRESS], El Cerrito, CA 945**), which I returned. On 11/15 when I chatted with Peyton, Overstock agreed to refund not only the cost of the item, but also the shipping, since I never ordered it in the first place--it was sent by mistake. The cost of the item HAS been refunded, but the shipping ($5.30) was NOT. So I just want it sent. Thanks.

    Jack: I am sorry to hear that you are not refunded for the shipping.

    Jack: I'll be more than happy to check that for you.

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: For security purposes, can you please verify the name and billing address on the account?

    Theric: Again?

    Theric: Theric Thteed

    Theric: [MY ADDRESS]

    Theric: El Cerrito ca

    Theric: 945**

    Jack: Thank you for verifying your name and billing address, Theric.

    Jack: I am sorry to let you know after reviewing your account I see here that the refund process is completed and the maximum refund is issued back to you.

    Theric: So I have to go through this whole explanation again?

    Jack: I am sorry, I am unable to do anything with it.

    Theric: Can I talk with someone who can?

    Theric: The only other explanation is that you can send me stuff all the time without me ordering it, and charge me when I ship it back.

    Jack: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    Theric: That's ridiculous, don't you think?

    Theric: I want help with this issue.

    Theric: I really am not comfortable knowing Overstock can send me stuff I don't want, and I'll lose $5.30 everytime they do it.

    Jack: I know it’s been an inconvenience and I’m sorry.

    Theric: Don't be sorry. Fix it. Or get me someone who can.

    Theric: Otherwise Overstock is stealing from me. What else can I call it?

    Jack: Theric, you are an important customer and we appreciate your business.

    Theric: Please let me speak with someone with more power. I know this isn't your fault.

    Theric: Don't stick with the script--it's not capable of dealing with my problem.

    Jack: What best I can do for you is as an one time exception I'll issue back the shipping charges to you as in-store credit.

    Jack: Does that sound good to you?

    Theric: That's almost okay, but the issue here is that I am in a position of weakness---Overstock can take still take my money with this solution.

    Theric: The issue is that Overstock took something without asking and refuses to give it back.

    Jack: I’m sorry you’ve had an unpleasant experience. I hope you’ll give us another chance to demonstrate our commitment to excellent customer service.

    Theric: $5.30 isn't a a large amount of money---but the principle is huge.

    Theric: THIS

    Theric: IS THEFT

    Theric: Jack, can I speak with someone who can solve this problem?

    Jack: I apologize for the problem.

    Theric: Can I speak with someone, yes or no?

    Jack: Shall I go ahead and issue back the amount to you?

    Theric: Please.

    Theric: How would you like it if a company charged you for something you did not order, then refused to pay you back?

    Jack: Please give me 2 minutes, while I issue the amount back to you as in-store credit. Is that ok with you?

    Theric: NO.

    Theric: NO

    Theric: NO

    Theric: "In-store credit" means you are not giving my money back unless I agree to give you more.

    Theric: Which is ridiculous.

    Jack: Not a problem I'll issue it back to your credit card.

    Jack: Will it be ok to you?

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: Theric, as a customer service representatives, we are always committed to do the best to address any concern you have.

    Theric: And I would highly recommend suggesting to the higher ups that they let you do this much, much earlier. It's very hard to remember what I like about Overstock when all I can focus on is their circumlocutory refund policies.

    Jack: We value your time and money.

    Jack: Every customer is precious to us.

    Jack: Please stay online while I do that for you.

    Theric: Okay. Well, if that's true then I am frankly astonished you didn't just save my time and give me my money in the first place. Not to mention saying "I am unable to do anything with it" when that was not true.

    Theric: But that's all in the past now, right?

    Theric: Thanks, I'll check my AmEx page.

    [many minutes pass]

    Theric: How's it going?

    Jack: I am glad to inform you that I've successfully issued back the amount $5.30 back to your Credit Card.

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: However, this will reflect in your next credit card statement.

    Theric: That's fine.

    Theric: Thanks for your help.

    Jack: Though I had delayed you in replying, It is indeed very nice chatting with you, Theric.

    Jack: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    Jack: You're most welcome.

    Theric: No, thanks. Hope the rest of your customers are easier tonight.

    Jack: Thank you. It was pleasure helping you.


This svithe is totally gay!


It's so funny you would say that
because just the other night I
was looking in the New Testament
for that scripture--you know that
one scripture?--the one where Jesus
says love one another but I swear
if a gay guy tries to hit on me
I am going to take my shepherd's
crook and go Roman on his sorry ---
I forget exactly, but you know the
one I mean, right? Where is it,
cause I couldn't find it. But
I know it's there!

Today's self-righteous rant is actually only tangentially related to homosexuality. In fact, they're just this svithe's macguffin--which is actually on charity.

See, here's the deal: What is it with these alleged Christians who seem to take such great delight in denigrating and demeaning and even attacking them whom they deem sinners? Because I looked in my New Testament, and all I could find was Jesus telling me to love the sinners too.

Also: Jesus telling me not to judge. So I can't actually say who is and is not a sinner--that's for him to decide.

of course, it's very PC for me to not judge homosexuals, but less so to not judge (for example) Nazis.

But if you're now expecting me to make a continuum with gay people on one end and Nazis on the other with a line down the middle telling us whom it's okay to judge and whom it's not, then you're about to be disappointed. And besides, that would be missing the point. Which is that there is no room in the gospel of Jesus Christ for hating people. Not even Nazis.

Not even gay Nazis.

last week's svithe


Old School


I'm at a high school and using Netscape® Communicator 4.76 (2000).

It's wild!

Everything's, like, totally screwed up!

Now I finally understand what people mean when they say to party like it's 1999.

They mean party like a crap browser that makes it impossible to communicate properly with your electronic homeboys!

What a stupid suggestion that is.....


I love pumpernickel!


The amazing thing about pumpernickel--as a sandwich bread I mean--is haw it acts as a catalyst in the most amazing reactions! For instance, the old classic: put two parts ham to one part turkey on pumpernickel and the sandwich will begin to wobble and smoke, and before you know it, voila! You have a bobcat sandwich!

I love pumpernickel!


Please tell me


Those of you who have recently switched to Beta, how painful/less was it? How much bother? How did it alter posting, templating, etc? Did you find it worth it? I'm considering it, but fear regret.


The Ultimate Svithe Smackdown

Santa -v- Jesus


Santa -v- Jesus

What did Jesus
ever do for
Santa Claus
on his birthday?
~Steven Wright

Last night the Berkeley Ward had their Christmas Party and, as expected, one Jolly Old Elf made an appearance. And as I watched the kids go up to see him, and I thought about the Amazing Feats allegedly performed by said Elf each Christmas Eve, I had the idea for a short story wherein it is learned that in order for said Elf to accomplish said feats, a yearly sacrifice of one child is required.

Then I remembered I just wrote a short story wherein Santa is murdered by a ten-year-old child and thought I had better hold off an any more Bloody Christmas Stories for a while lest people get the Wrong Idea about Theric.

Then I was talking to my good friend the Chemist and he was telling me that he has been trying to instill his Rational Ideals in his daughter S-Boogie (no relation), but she insists on being faithful.

"You know, Santa's just pretend, honey."


I was one of the faithful myself, and my final apostasy from the Cult of Santaism may be the reason I now cover him in blood while carrying signs outside Santa Square.

You see, I didn't fully give up on Santa till high school.

Here's the thing: I knew Santa wasn't real like, say, I was real. I knew I could make up his history and that my version was as good as anyone else's. Ergo, Santa was pretend. And this I knew.


I still don't know how to explain it. It's one of my clearest memories of childhood. I saw Santa, and he was not my dad and he was not some old guy from church or a volunteer fireman or any of the other Santas I regularly saw. He Was Santa.

And so, notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, I believed.

I think this is why I have no desire to teach my child about this devious elf. Santa is dead to me. It took a long time, and now that it's over, It Is Over.

Someone once said to me--this was a couple years ago--that one of their sibs was confused when they learned Santa is a Big Lie because his/her parents had spoken of Santa in the exact same way they spoke of Jesus. Was Jesus a big hoax too?

I was raised to treat Santa as a religious icon. But only with Santa was I warned not to tell others he was Fake and thus Ruin Their Christmas. Denying Jesus was never given the same weight as Denying Santa. I'm sure this was just because only the notion of Denying Jesus was untenable, but how was a child to know?

It seems to me that two benevolent, godlike presiders over a single holiday is one too many. I don't know what rĂ´le Santa will play in our house as the Big O ages, but I don't want there to be any confusion over which god is the god of Christmas.

Santa's just pretend, honey.

He wasn't at the manger.

Santa's just pretend.

. . . . .

Excuse me now while I go cry in my eggnog.

That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound the day I gave up on the fat bastard.

last week's svithe


The occasion of one’s 400th post should really be savored and turned into a beautiful work of art


Pistachio, ha! I think you mean PISTUPIDO!



Grapefruit? More like GRA'FRUIT.

Misnomered wood grain


Zebra wood? Since when do trees run away from lions?

Butternut indeed! More like Seventiesnut!

Cashew? Baby, I've eaten cashews and this is no cashew!

Banana, ha! More like green onion!

Coconut????? Do you think I've never seen muscle under a microscope before?!?!

Nectarine, eh? Very pretty. Very pretty PLASTIC!

Rubber? Now you're just getting silly.

Zebrano. On beyond zebra.... Numbskulls....


If no news is good news....


Then have I got some good news for you!


No news.

I have no new news.


None whatsoever.

I really hate to disappoint, but what can I do?

I have no new news!

Forgive me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On the bright side:

At least the news is good!

So you have that.

Don't lose it.


A special post just for all my tragic goth girl fans


misery creepeth

I'm always getting letters here at Theadquarters asking why I don't do more posts devoted directly toward all my tragic goth girl fans. The short answer is that most of that sort of work I tend to get paid for and if you want to give me two hundred and fifty bucks and meet me half way . . . .

But today I am going to help these my friends out with a special post just for them.

I just picked up Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber after a seven-year hiatus and started reading again from the beginning and I have to tell you--you girls will love every page of this, from the bloody reenactment of the Bluebeard legend to the ravenous wolves at the end. I guarantee it.

But no doubt you have plenty of depressing and eyelinered prose and poetry already lying before you and are uncertain you can interrupt your literary itinerary for this 27-year-old book.

Then let me introduce you to the tale "The Lady of the House of Love." The lady in question is both Sleeping Beauty and a vampire, trapped in a castle surrounded by thorns, wanting something she cannot name and thus, instead of love, she can partake only of death.

I won't go very deep into this, but suffice it to say you will read the story again and again and never will you be satiated.

Much like the Countess Nosferatu.

The book is a work of wonder--the prose is beautiful and sad and like falling through Dream.

And it is all for you,

my Tragic Goth Girls.


I Svithe


Take a moment to step away from the computer screen and walk to a window.

Look out your window and find the natural world.

Maybe it's obvious--a mountain in the distance or the tree in your front yard.

Maybe it's a single spot of green growing through the crack in your neighbor's wall.

Perhaps you will have to open the window and listen for the song of a bird.

See hear? Hear it? Feel it?

That is your svithe.

last week's svithe


These past few days



I was with some third graders studying city wildlife Tuesday through Thursday and yesterday we all wrote poems about city wildlife. To prove to you that my improvved verse is always bad, and not just when it appears on my blog, I reproduce my contribution to the class effort here:
    Deer & Duck

    The deer jumped over my fence
    to eat the apples on my tree.
    He stood tall
    and proud,

    The duck found the pond down the street
    and stayed for weeks,
    telling jokes
    and hanging out,
    giving me hellos.

    I liked the duck and the deer.
    Too bad the cougar ate them.


Today I was with second graders. During "Sharing" (ie, Show & Tell), one boy said to the girl sharing, "Can I come over to your house and play with your toys and smell them?


What the teacher said

When I arrived this morning, the kids' regular teacher was there getting some things ready for me. She warned me of her students thusly:

"Some of these parents don't know how to say no to their kids because they have too many of them [kids]."

I don't even know where to start with that statement.


Part of today's plan was to watch The Wizard of Oz (1939) and fill out a worksheet regarding it.

Now, I hate that movie. I have for years. But today I was thoroughly entertained all the same. And the kids loved it, laughing and squealing and screaming--even through the sepia scenes. I was amazed.


Five is the third smallest prime number, after 2 and 3, and before 7. Because it can be written as 2^(2^1)+1, five is classified as a Fermat prime. 5 is the third Sophie Germain prime, the first safe prime, and the third Mersenne prime exponent. Five is the first Wilson prime and the third factorial prime, also an alternating factorial. It is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n − 1. It is also the only number that is part of more than one pair of twin primes.

The number 5 is the 5th Fibonacci number, being 2 plus 3. 5 is also a Pell number and a Markov number, appearing in solutions to the Markov Diophantine equation. Whereas 5 is unique in the Fibonacci sequence, in the Perrin sequence 5 is both the fifth and sixth Perrin numbers.

Five is the second Sierpinski number of the first kind, and can be written as S2=(2^2)+1

Five is a factor of 10, so vulgar fractions with 5 in the denominator do not yield infinite decimal expansions, unlike most other primes. When written in the decimal system, all multiples of 5 will end in either 5 or 0.

Go Five!