Types of Flesh

Bit of a incoherent mess of thoughts, so here goes…

Is there a difference between eating one species’ flesh and eating another’s?

Why is cannibalism wrong and not carnivory (to people who do not believe that all carnivory is immoral)? How do our discussions of morality carry over to interspecies predation for obligate carnivores? And how do we factor in ecosystem disbalance upon the removal of top predators? I’m a bit utilitarian, so my answer to the trolley problem is “whatever saves the most useful people. If I have to kill a fat guy, so be it.” Same with this: if keeping predators alive keeps the whole ecosystem afloat, it’s probably worth all the bloodshed they cause. 1 dead gazelle every few weeks or no gazelles at all? When people mention the horrible effects of parasites and pests, they’re always talking about how it affects humans. I mean, I should be on that side, right? I am human. But parasites make up so much of the world, perhaps influencing greatly the way life evolved, and so-called pests have often been here much longer than we have. In Nature’s eyes, if she permits me to personify her thus, we’re at the same level as the invasive ivy on the trees, right-to-be-here-wise. We just have a lot more ways to justify it that ivy does.

Nearly forgot to mention: Clearly, all life is not equal (*ahem* according to us). Let’s just establish that right now. All life is not equal. Not even a little bit. If a lion kills a person, that family just lost a member, and I don’t have to tell you how much that sucks. So we kill the lion. Obviously the lion’s life is far inferior to the human’s in our eyes. And every day cells are living and dying and waging microscopic war on each other. No one cares. They’re cells! There is practically no debate here, but on the off chance there is, here it is.

(If you skip down to the family section, you’ll see that I know that it’s not even an interspecies bias.)

And really, is there any difference between eating the flesh of domesticated “companion animals” and “livestock”? It’s pretty much just the idea of eating a domesticated animal that is unsavory. It is objectively no different than eating livestock. Is the problem sapience? All fleshy animals are sentient, and a few may possess sapience. Would there be any difference between eating intellectually comparable animals? Well, if we used mere intelligence to justify inferior treatment, then all brain-damaged and intellectually disabled people have just received a major downgrade in their rights. It’s not even the potential. A human without a brain will still be above the smartest dolphin in general human society/law. Or perhaps not. Some humans without a figurative brain are pretty justifiably mocked.

So it really boils down to human egocentrism again, huh? I know, other animals would probably be the same, but still. Anthropocentrism is not only embedded in our ways of being, but our ways of address; this predisposes prejudice in our ways. This embedment in our language – the food of our thought itself – is momentous.

Animal-related epithets, like “pig”, “swine” and “bitch”, are quite common. “World history” is the history of humans upon earth, and “pre”history is pre-human history. Compassion, warmth and kindness are referred to as “humanity”. Anything else is “beastly”, “inhuman” and “acting like an animal”. (Which is really meaningless; whatever we do is “acting like an animal”: a human animal, but an animal nonetheless.) It’s understandable. We are the only sapient creatures we know of, and besides long-distance running and cognition, every other little beastie on the planet seems to have one over us.

We reject nature, we reject the bestial or we underestimate it so thoroughly as to do it an insult. We assume either helplessness or wanton violence. It is irrelevant what an animal’s cognitive intentions are, we simply cannot comprehend them. 

Appeal to nature is useless, bitches. We’re still debating whether we’re good and society makes us bad or vice versa. And conversely, sure, animals kill each other all the time. It’s survival. We don’t have to act like that. Does that make us better than them? Some say yes. Is it just a need for feeling superior or worthy? Was it like that time we thought the universe literally revolved around us? You know, fuck it. I don’t really want to care anymore.

But how far does our compassion for other animals go? How far should it go? As sentient creatures, they at least deserve not to be mass murdered and tortured, yes? We can give them that much? Respect is a bit more difficult; this abstract concept may differ from species to species, as it does from culture to culture and from individual to individual.

Even within our species, compassion for all is a confusing concept. We tend to favour those we like, those that provide for us, those with certain qualities…and family.

Blood ties are confusing. Blood doesn’t split evenly. You don’t “miscegenate” and create a perfect half-half blend of cultures. How far back do you claim your family? We usually stop at a few generations emotionally.

Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam?

The first protist?

Another way to otherize and disinclude. But it is impossible to treat everyone as family. How do you produce that unconditional, biologically mandated love? It doesn’t always work, either. Mother-child/father-child bonding would be interesting to explore. Most people seem to believe that they are willing to die for their child. (But how about Fates Worse than Death?) It has happened reliably. Few would do that for a stranger. That makes biological sense (people must propagate their genes and memes (ideas)), as well as the unconditional love thing for you romantics out there. I know, it’s nice, but then again, does that mean you’d kill a stranger to save your child/etc? If that happens, that would probably mess you up, and the stranger is just very unlucky that they’re not related to you closely.

It seems sometimes that these subgroups and clans and families and whatnot function as just another way to otherize and disinclude. But it is impossible to treat everyone as an actual part of your close, immediate family. Really close friends are called “like family” – then they’ve been upgraded to the exclusive family club. See, once again evolutionary explanations come creeping in – family shares genes, we want to protect our genes, and thus emotions usually promote this. Close friends have been vetted and may introduce genetic variation, so they don’t pose as much of a threat. Let’s not get into messy dysfunctional families yet.

Huh. Do I compartmentalize emotions and human bits too much? I seem to be entirely missing the human touch here (although I invite everyone to point out any flaws in my reasoning so far and I will be happy to correct them). I do tend to react to statements and not people. Or I treat each issuance as coming from a different source, pretending that the minuscule changes that occur in their body somehow changed them enough to merit calling them a whole new person. This basically means I don’t care who you are, if you say some dumbass shit, Imma call you out. Like you should criticize that complete tone change there, even though that was entirely intentional, as I have a failure of a sense of humour. What does that have to do with this? Nothing, really.

What is the point of this? I’m just really trying to figure out how to think. I’m a conformist if you look at my actions as a whole. I need norms. Not stupid ones like gender norms (How to Be a Fe/male Human), but things like How to Be a Decent Human Being, How to Be a Rational Human Being,  How to Be a Likable Human being, and How to Be an Efficient Human Being. I need rules. I am a ridiculous conformist, but I get bogged down in pointless rebellions. So these are mostly unspoken, unwritten, very unconcrete rules. (For example, if I think I know what I’m doing, I don’t want to be told what to do. I don’t like being bossed around.)

Well, most incoherent post ever award goes to this.

Internet debates (part 1)

Internet Debates: A crock of shit or no?

(the first in what will surely be a long series of rants on the matter)

I’m not going to poke the bear. Not going to comment on the 2016 primaries in the US. Not going to comment on China’s domestic policies. Not going to mention Gamergate.

Whoops!

Okay, I’m not going to comment at length about the topic. I can’t satisfy either field.

You, with your group-polarized viewpoints, cognitive bias-warped perceptions, and logical fallacy-ridden arguments, wish to make your case considered correct?

Are you a relativist?

Are you a daft relativist?

And you, clear, level-headed one, with your cogent and responsive demeanor, why are you wasting your time with pigeons who shit on chessboards and strut around like they’ve won?

There is nothing to be won here. If only the latter existed, we perhaps would get somewhere discussion-wise in mutual respect. Perhaps we could learn from each other, leave with our wills strengthened and not crushed, and we could admit when we are wrong and not rub our correctness in each others’ faces. But it is not to be. It is never to be.

Worthless Insults

Insults can be powerful tools of both communicating distaste and destroying a fellow human’s spirit. (They can also be indication of strongest friendship.) If you are intending to insult your enemies, you must be ruthless. If you are simply a bully picking on weaker beings, you are pathetic and trying to mask your own feelings of inferiority and I feel sorry for the lot of you. But I digress.

The worth of an insult can be broadly measured in two ways: inherent savagery and effect on target. (The overall effectivity is defined as being able to elicit whatever response you wish with the insult. What do you want to accomplish: rage, tears, laughter, etc.?) The first is the innate burn value of the insult: is it particularly stinging, devastatingly clever, withering and well-paced? The second refers to a whole host of factors: is the target thin-skinned, regular skinned, thick-skinned? A high inherent savagery will not deal enough damage to save you from the stoic thickly skinned specimen. For them, you must find the weak points they have to have – a task requiring considerable talent and intelligence at times – and strike from there. Weak points range from socially acceptable (e.g., sensitivity about a particular feature; this is seen as more acceptable because not everyone can relate to it) to unacceptable. Any dead children for you to insult? (I’m assuming that one of you (insulter or insultee) is a ginormous arsehat and therefore deserve to be insulted/think you deserve to insult them in such a manner.)  A thin-skinned person wilts easily, so effective insult sessions are not necessarily due to your skill as an insulter. It only takes a very low inherent savagery to  push those people to their maximum response. Regular-sensitivity specimens will be harder to crack, but a sufficient inherent savagery will still manage to bring them down.

As you may be aware, they are utterly useless as logical arguments. Infantile name-calling  and insults constitute ad hominem attacks, at the very bottom of the hierarchy of disagreement. But I’m operating under the assumption that you aren’t trying to win an argument.

Now, some insults for the average person to avoid:

  1. Intelligence: unless you are more intelligent than that person in every possible way, it is unwise to attack intelligence. (Either way, your EQ is not very high if you have to insult them. That is, of course, unless you are in an insult contest. If you are in a heated Internet debate, you’ve revealed your technical flaws – stooping to insults, non-arguments, to support your cause.) You can always learn something from another person.
    1. Taking a person’s grasp of grammar (or a language) as an indication of their intelligence is both premature and doomed. It is not remotely reliable as a predictor of intelligence. With autocorrect and lazy non-prescriptivists, you can’t expect every comment to be perfect. If they’re not speaking English in the good, maybe they speak many other languages fluently. You have to see what they have to say before you judge the hell out of them.
    2. Attacking intellectually disabled people is weak tea. What are you accomplishing? “I was born with an average intelligence and normal genes, just like 99.9% of the population! You weren’t!”?
  2. Appearance: are you extremely attractive? Well, looks fade, and narcissism is not only unattractive, it can be pathological. If you aren’t and you’re using attacks against appearance, pot-kettle-black! Sorry for the tu quoque, but you’re ad homineming anyway (there it is again!), so you’re not concerned about fallacious arguments, are you? Only the effect matters. Appearance may be effective, but it is weak and it’s difficult to be original nowadays. Also, you’re just insulting people for being born a certain way again (which can backfire so easily) or not being able to slather themselves in cosmetics and artificial pelts correctly (in an aesthetically pleasing manner).
    1. Body shape: if your body is perfect (and especially if you have to work very hard at that), or very near it, good for you. Not everyone can be born with or maintain a shape coveted by society. What basis do you have for professing the superiority of one body shape over another? Personal taste? Your opinion carries no weight. (The apparently desirable hourglass apparently indicates increased fertility, which is apparently the reason for its attractiveness. If you want to reduce yourself to your reproductive capabilities, be my guest.)
    2. Fat comments: it’s barely an insult. It’s only insulting because society expects it to be insulting. Some people will find it very insulting, so it would have a strong effect on target. But inherently,  it is another descriptor that is harmless, even complementary, at times. Everyone and their dog must have heard by now that girth was beauty in the Olden Days because it suggested wealth and health. This is therefore a subjective and not objective sense of beauty. Anything short of obesity comorbid with various other disorders is perfectly healthy and should be treated as such.
  3. Money: right now, even if you had 50% of the money in the world (ahem, 1%ers…) you still will die and rot to worms. Yes, flaunt your money over other people who might be working harder than you. Go ahead. I’m sure it’ll reflect well on you.

However, DO:

  1. Be irreverent. Attacking weak spots and dearly held beliefs is a cheap shot, but one that is often SUPER EFFECTIVE. Weak spots may vary, and if you find a very good foible, ignore the items on the to avoid list after rejecting each concern.

Go on, heartless or possibly very competitive or equally possibly compassionate soul. Insult others to your heart’s content.

My linguistic philosophy

I love spell cheque, because it’s hard to keep the spellings of correct words strait. I mean, if you’re going to correct people, bee discrete about it.

Did those sentences hurt you deeply?

If not, you may possibly be unable to relate to this.

(Corrections include cheque – check, bee – be, strait – straight, discrete – discreet. I can’t resist correcting myself. Word doesn’t recognize these errors. For that, we need AI that can learn and understand language, capable of absorbing and applying definitions, context, syntax, variations, etcetera. Damn you, Word.)

Grammar Nazis. Proudly emblazoned with the official grammar swastika and committed to our mission to “unnerve and correct”, we patrol the comment sections of the bowels of the Internet.  Personally, I prefer the term “linguistic prescriptivist”, although this approach, often contrasted with linguistic descriptivism, is rather illogical and incomprehensive in itself.

On the one hand, standardization makes it simpler to understand and construct sentences to convey ideas. On the other hand, it’s elitist to raise one language above another. The meaning of language evolves along with style conventions. Back to the first hand, it appears professional and preserves etymological roots. On the other hand, we should be describing language as it is, not as we think it should be. People lean towards descriptivism. It’s condescending to offer unsolicited advice, and downright uncouth to disparage those who are not fluent in the language. Even this piece (notice the sentence fragments in the very first line) should not be “grammatically correct” to the last rule, as it were, as that type of language tends to belie pomposity and outdated norms. It’s insufferable even now. Imagine a whole paragraph of things like “Prepositions are things with which sentences must not end.” Other “errors” are more stylistic and ambiguous, which does not bode well for prescriptivism (I mean, if you can’t keep track of your own rules, how can you expect others to follow them?): Espresso is the proper Italian, but –es was a corruption of ex- something in Latin. Examples abounded – then dictionaries, taking the descriptivist route, decide to include the error. Voila: a (semi)-accepted variant is born. Split infinitives – it’s a ridiculous piece of stupidity that boggles my brain: our verbs aren’t really true infinitives the way, say, French verbs do. Using “like” instead of “as” is natural, almost like breathing now.

Hypercorrection is incorrect. It’s something up with which I will not put.

Online, there is no need for this corrective behavior. I have devised an entire Manual of Style addressing every single facet of Internet misuse of the English language in order to prevent distress in viewers of such linguistic transgressions. Now they’re no longer transgressions! People type in netspeak for convenience, and errors are more often due to inattention or legitimate conditions such as dyslexia than lack of education (which may still not be their fault). As long as you can understand it, right? Besides, if they don’t ask for help correcting it, you shouldn’t correct it anyway. It amounts to nothing unless you can force them to edit their comment to purge the Internet of that admittedly unsightly blemish. It’s not impressive to be able to spot a misspelling of something like “cymotrichous” or “autochthonous” anymore (although, please use the right “its”, “there” and “definitely” instead of “defiantly”, it’s killing me). Also, you have to be careful not to fall prey to Skitt’s Law (which basically means that you make an error when you correct someone), because that hurts your case as a grammar lover.

That’s why I’m proposing the launch of a new movement: Descriptive Prescriptivism, or Prescriptive Descriptivism, where we embrace everyone’s differences instead of nitpicking every stylistic choice (Oxford comma, and/or construction, italics for et al.), while acknowledging the need for some sort of system for determining correct use for comprehension and coherency.

I can hear your objections.

“It’s not that important.”

You’re absolutely correct.

“You’re not better than me just because you have perfect grammar.”

That’s right.

“So why do you care about this?”

I don’t know. Why does anyone care about anything?

“Aren’t there more important issues in the world?”

You’re right again. There are. But I can’t deal with any of those. Are you kidding me? I’m an apathetic sixteen-year-old who argues with herself over which linguistic philosophy to embrace!

My grammar is far from perfect, so I just know I’m pissing off some editor higher up on the stickler echelon. I have struggled time and time again to make my writing more accessible for the masses. Therefore, I follow regular, colloquial writing standards. (And failing a bit. I suck at public speaking and writing moving speeches and writing in general. How many times per day do I think “what a flipping stupid thing to say” and “shut your fladoodling mouth” to myself? Too many to count.)

The thing about me and grammar (yes, that’s correct) is that I know it’s stupid to obsess over it. I mean, capitals (which is often more a question of style) and punctuation?! Who freaking cares?! Well, I actually know the answer: Me, and people like me.

We are tolerated at times, and hated at others, and we are a vast group ranging from the most stick-in-the-mud obsessive pedant to the laissez-faire part-time aficionado.  Why can’t we stop? Some of us are arrogant and consider ourselves and our usage superior, which would constitute linguistic imperialism. But me? NO! I only correct in select situations, when asked to explicitly, and always politely! I am not superior for using “correct” English! I enjoy it not because it puts me above other lowly thesaurus abusers but because I love the written word. I love language and literature and reading. I love it like some people love music or sports. A thousand letters singing in harmony on a page, the still-living ideas of a long-dead author – this is what I want to preserve. 

I want – no, NEED – nah, want – to correct people. I really do. But it’s because some constructions cause me literal physical and psychical pain. Consider a complex or compound sentence with a comma splice and no comma at the right place. Expecting the wondrous harmony of the text to caress your eyeballs as you read the words, you are unprepared for how it stumbles out like a staggering drunkard.

Here’s what it’s like:

I’m reading a sentence and there’s like no commas andthewordsjustkindofruntogetherinmyhead and all of the sudden BAM! Comma. And then my mental voice trips over the comma, landing face first into the next clause, as the paragraph lurches on.

“No!” I shriek in horror, clutching my chest. “Comma splice! Comma splice!”

I look at the others, at their uncomprehending faces, as they behold the UTTER MONSTROSITY THAT IS THE UNHOLY COMMA SPLICE and I know, they don’t feel this the way I do. 

And it’s stupid. I know it’s stupid. I am ASHAMED that the one thing that I’m passionate about,  the one thing that can move me to furious-spitting-cat-mode is fucking COMMAS. It’s ridiculous. All the living beings dying in the world and I’m raging about COMMAS.

But I can’t help it. As long as I am well-behaved, my keen eye for semicolon misplacement, and other “talents” have use. Under my new Descriptivist Prescriptivism, we can band together in a more grammatical and less condescending world.

 

Assonance and Alliteration are Amusing

An Argument Against Animosity, Alliteration and Assonance

  1. Any animosity amongst allies aggravates annoyance into antagonistic aggression, and agreeable amity into argumentative anarchy. Anyone (belligerent boors, bellicose bullies, and brutish beasts) amassing amplified anger acts abusive and acrimonious, and antipathy, aversion and assault arises.
  2. All alliteration and assonance achieves are analogous assertions. Attributes of alliteration and assonance are abundance with abandon.

Advice:

An argument attained with argumentum ad absurdum or antiquitatem adds absolutely nothing; alas, arguments are adversarial. Both arguments are brilliantly atrocious, albeit benign. Self-referential speeches require sturdiness or they start to sink to silly theatrics. Furthermore, every fine enquiry falls to reprehensible quibbling (results questionable). Assailing us are useful artifices: argue unto allies unless adversaries understand.

 

Goblins

I think there are goblins in my head.

There is no other explanation for the way my brain works.

There’s Uptight Editor, in charge of screening out stupid remarks, proofreading and approving everything I say. Editor’s extremely sleep-deprived, so it does a rather sloppy job. Perfectionist, Editor’s boss, has a short fuse and blames Editor for most of its mistakes.

There’s Cynical Skeptic, who hates romance with a passion, wants to rip every shred of hope away from everyone, and is ironically gullible when it comes to its own beliefs.

There’s Vindictive Bitch, who yells the equivalent of racial slurs whenever situations get heated, always being frantically restrained with difficulty by Reason. Thin-Skinned, oversensitive and easily embarrassed, is often the one to alert Vindictive Bitch to the heated situation.

Narcissistic Egocentrist is there too, but too busy admiring itself in the mirror to notice most of the time. People don’t notice NE much. Hopefully.

There’s also Lazy Bum, the procrastinator, who burps and asks what’s for dinner. Editor hates Lazy.

Together, they make I.

There’s Fluffy Kittens, who loves the hell out of anything and everything, especially cute animals, happy endings, and all that is good and sweet in the world.

There’s Doormat Milquetoast, who is a hardcore pacifist and wants to please everyone and everything at the expense of our neutral beliefs.

There’s Blabbermouth, who goes on and on about everything and doesn’t think twice before speaking, making Editor’s life a living hell.

That’s Me. I like me.

Then there is Myself. The well-adjusted one. The one who keeps them all together, the one that is the right balance of accommodating and unyielding, critical and appreciative, and utterly not in control.

I wish I were more like myself.

Confessions of an Almost-Suethor

How do I go about this delicately?

One of the most hated devices of all fiction, the Mary Sue (and her male counterpart, the Gary/Marty Stu), loathed above grammatical errors, receiver and object of much abuse, is poorly defined. But you know it when you see it: overpowered, superlatively beautiful, nice, loved/hated to irrational extremes by other characters, unambiguous self-insertions…the Mary Sue Litmus Test is a nice tool for determining whether or not your character will make people smash their computers in rage.

But why are they so damn popular? The praising of Suefics is common, even customary, and many of them have hundreds of positive reviews and ]various forms of “likes” (shares, follows, reblogs, kudoses, favourites, whatever). These fans and the author often defend the story vehemently from criticism. Of course, criticism should be kind and constructive, but anything less than OMG i luuuuuved it!111! 3 seems to result in a negative reaction, flouncing, retorts of “you just don’t understand”, “you’re just jealous”, “you try doing better”, and of course, “don’t like, don’t read”. They are famous even. And they’re bad. (Which is a tragedy in itself  – how much writing on the Internet is the rare, shining top 10% of quality and ignored?)

I’ve made some.

I have made Mary Sues, but mercifully wrote none of their godless stories down, so their horror will never tarnish the screens of any unsuspecting reader. The first one looked nothing like me, had a different name, but was a supernally gorgeous God-mode Sue whose power was – get this – being able to literally do anything, even create logical paradoxes and resolve them. Anyway, I got bored of her pretty quickly, as I realized there was no struggle there. I replaced her with a more traditional Sue, who was not beautiful but looked like me, had a marginally similar name (they started with the same letter and was one of my kinda-nicknames) and could hop through different fictional universes and interact with the canon. The PPC is going to kill me. I then made her a Scary Sue counterpart, complete with lovely singing voice and lustrous hair. By that point, I had already written perspective shifts and side stories for short stories in class for homework and real-time strategy games. But that was some years ago, and I didn’t even find out about fan fiction until quite recently.

That’s right. I starting writing crossover fan fiction (in my head) before I even realized what that was.

Naturally, when I found out, I was horrified. The first piece of fan fiction I was exposed to was the infamous Fifty Shades, which I threw down in horror after reading approximately one sentence. I learned afterwards that it was based on Twilight, the book that divides teenage girls into the much reviled Twihards and the “sane” Twihaters (?). (I like to consider myself neutral on the matter, as I have moved from the first and second camps as an observer.)  Then I heard of After, a piece of real-person-fiction-turned-online-sensation, which frankly, should have stayed on the Internet. Then, I took an ill-advised trip to wtffanfiction.com.

That scarred  me for life.

After that, my opinion of fan fiction was tainted forever. The entire practice seemed to me as suspect. The overwhelming majority of the pieces were of very poor quality, only a few rivaling, equaling or (if the canon’s author sucks) surpassing the calibre of the original work. And Suethors were a mystery to me. Using other people’s characters to fulfill one’s own dirty fantasies? Warping them OOC to force them to conform to one’s sick alternate reality? What kind of monster does that?

Many people, apparently. I began to resent them, resent them for the success they leeched off my favourite authors with a crappy, pathetic half-hearted imitation of their work. I resented the bad writers who garnered fame from their poor work. I was angry them for twisting the stories loved and enjoyed by many and

Then I realized I almost did it too, and all that anger turned frighteningly inwards.

I waffle between hating all fan fiction and loving the crack, troll, mock, and spitefics, as well as MSTs and sporkings that result. Only some are smut writers, some of whom make incestuous, necrophilic, or otherwise pairings with beloved characters (and please, I respect your right to your work but stay far, far, far away from me I’ve suffered enough!). Many fan fiction writers are true fans who write for fun, try very hard to do justice to the canon. Who cares if they fail? (Okay, me, a little bit.) Readers read it for fun, and that’s all nice and good (unless the fic is full of discriminatory ideas and whatnot). There’s no quality control (anymore in the world – have you seen the dreck that gets published?!), but that gives us hilarious entries like “One night the drop of rain.” (“‘TRANSLATION ERROR’ said england the surprised!” I can’t stop laughing.) I’ve even tried my hand at some. (But not popular fandoms, and no serious fics. Flatland crackfics only.)

Suefics in particular are very entertaining to read, for some people. They are power fantasies, badly written ones, but enjoyable for a certain audience. Sues are the best at something. And being the best in everything is fun. I can tolerate Sueness in small amounts – every interesting character has at least some Sue-ish traits – but after a certain threshold it becomes unbearable. Many writers have a stage in which they wrote Mary Sues because they don’t know better, say, around 12 years old, and they grow out of it. Nowadays, no one likes to read good writing; they want to read fun writing. Much like the fiction that does get published – fan or otherwise – it gets horrible literary reviews, but the public laps it up, because it’s what they want. Parody Sues are also always fun. I like satire, maybe a bit too much, so any kind of lighthearted jab at this trope is welcomed, craved even.

Some people hate, and I mean hate, Suefics with a passion. It’s worse when the Suethor is unreceptive to criticism. I can understand that, but they will continue to exist as long as there are children, and as long as there are people who need the boost of self-esteem and the divertissment from their day to day mundanities, I’m afraid. There I go, making up words, but you may get what I mean. They will continue to exist, so we might as well suck it up. All we can do is hope that people take the writing advice, try again, and make an original character that doesn’t deserve to be sorted into Sparklypoo.

Please halp to carect Wikipaediea

For more articles addressing the issues related to Wikipedia, see the References section of Wikipedia, Wikipedia in culture, Criticisms of Wikipedia, and Reliability of Wikipedia. The References section. Nothing else. Don’t cite the freaking article.

When you think about it, nothing is stupider than pointing out that Wikipedia not reliable.
It SAYS – IN ITALICS AND BOLD – THAT IT IS UNRELIABLE OR CONSIDERED UNRELIABLE, A “STARTING POINT” INSTEAD OF A BE-ALL END ALL, AND NOT TO CITE WIKIPEDIA. Instead, it tells you to go to the bottom of the page, read the references, and “summarize and cite those reliable sources” there.
By “reliable”, you obviously don’t mean 100% infallible, as academic review of paper and other online encyclopedias have revealed errors, some “glaring” and potentially “harmful omissions”. If you mean “believe nothing on Wikipedia”, that means that it IS in fact reliable, BECAUSE IT SAYS IT’S NOT. Did you see the catfight between Britannica and Nature? Basically, Nature says Wikipedia has a similar rate of “serious errors”, Britannica says their study sucks, and insists that they were right, and Nature defends its study and we end up not knowing who to believe. Some encyclopedias trust experts to not lie to them and don’t always fact-check an article, or make mistakes when they do, and thus, you may actually “die of a misprint”.
And it already admits that it isn’t reliable. If anyone trusts anything unconditionally and/or uses only one source, even if that source ISN’T Wikipedia, it is FREAKING DUMB and they need to be taught how to research things. Um, three reliable sources, anyone? Wikipedia doesn’t want you to trust it. It wants you to look at it for a quick, general overview. By saying “I don’t trust Wikipedia”, you are saying “I don’t trust a project with articles vastly varying in quality, some of which have been judged mostly factually correct most of the time, others completely false, written by a whole bunch of random people – mostly educated white American males, some of which have post-secondary and/or doctorate credentials, and many others who are blithering idiots”, and it’s about high time you realized how loaded your statement is.  You cannot be an expert by the “click of a mouse”. You also need to type something.
You also have to understand that Wikipedia articles, and Wikipedia users for that matter, unlike the subjects of the truths that we hold to be self-evident, are not created equal. We have rankings for that very reason. Only feature-level articles even “approach the quality of a professional encyclopedia”. Others have a host of problems, often tagged by well-meaning editors. For more detailed criteria, see WP:Featured article criteria. The common vandal, the long-term abuser, the POV pusher, and the COI editor are all vastly different creatures. These people and the vast amount of well-meaning volunteers do not deserve to be tarred with the same brush. Also, the common retort that “anyone can edit” is not fully correct: that applies only to unprotected pages and templates. Protection at various levels restrict editing to registered, autoconfirmed, confirmed, and users who are administrators. This is not an infallible system, FAR from it, as IPs might have good info, and even admins have been known to go rogue and edit with a personal agenda (but this is the exception, not the rule), much less the commoner.
I am a WikiGnome, which means I fix the most mind-numbingly boring and frankly STUPID problems, including such intricacies as DATE FORMATS, DUPLICATE SENTENCES, UNNAMED PARAMETERS, MISSING PERIODS AND OVERUSE OF CAPITALS. If you can’t spell words right or punctuate your sentences properly, what right do you have to write an encyclopedic article? I know the learning curve is steep, and the mess of policies and guidelines and templates blur together, but still! If you are not an actual expert, and if you are just bad in general, you might write a sloppy, disgusting mess of an article, violating WP:BEANS, WP:COI, WP:NOTE, WP:ORMOS:everything, and every other conceivable policy, and we have to clean up after you. It’s annoying. Why do I do it? It’s fun. For me. Also Wikipedihol.
Blatant vandals and trolls are actually not that much of a problem. Changes are saved in the page history, and unconstructive ones can be easily spotted and reverted, especially if they’re on many editors’ watchlists or being stalked by a page curator or a patroller of recent changes. We have pending changes, Twinkle, STiki, Huggle, undo, and rollback in our (users with over 1000 mainspace edits) arsenal. If one edit is particularly egregious (e.g., reveals personal information), it can be oversighted – deleted from public view, kept even from high-level Rouge Admins or Bureaucrats. Subtle vandalism is much more insidiously harmful, but we have a taskforce for that. Sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry are real problems, and the best way to get yourself banned or blocked is by editing highly contentious articles tendentiously, and make dozens of thinly veiled sockpuppet accounts to harass and edit war with people, which people do on a regular basis. Should you need to see any more evidence of the damage that subtle, intelligent, and well-established vandals can do, just see this page and this article.
I KNOW IT HOW MUCH IT SUCKS. I MIGHT EVEN KNOW BETTER THAN YOU HOW MUCH IT SUCKS. We’re scaring away the professionals, it contradicts itself because there’s no one author, our citation templates are confusing, the site has been repeatedly accused of being (probably rightly) systematically biased, sexist and transphobic, and there have been so many scandals involving academic dishonesty, “censorship”, and libel, that’s all people report anymore. Co-founder Larry Sanger left and made Citizendium, a site where you have to use your real name, provide your credentials, and actually be an expert in whatever topic you write for. (The problem with Citizendium is the same as the ill-fated Nupedia: peer review is too slow, and generating quality content for free is not everyone’s favourite thing to do.) One citogenesis incident made it into print. One hoax article (read, completely, and I mean completely made up) about a war that never existed made it to Good Article (GA) status, and you don’t know how hard that is, but it is hard. The hoaxes have been removed and documented, the offending users have been banned, and Jimbo Wales is still the Almighty Jimbo. I know, though, in my heart of hearts, that there are more lurking in the shadows. It’s far from perfect, it’s far from complete, and it never will be.
Unfortunately, even such a flawed resource is easily the largest, most up-to-date/constantly updating, and the most comprehensive encyclopedic project in the world. The English version of Wikipedia has over 5,000,000 articles and ranks consistently as the 7th most visited website in the world. (What?! Only 7th? Step up your game, Wikipedia!) And it’s getting better. Anyway, people will continue to use it as a resource (Because it’s free!), people will continue to blindly trust it, people will continue to complain and vandalize and climb the Reichstag dressed as Spiderman, but it’s not going away. So what is left to do? Do you give up on life?
No.
Come. Join us. Fix it.
Image credit: Free use under Creative Commons.  Not my work. It’s theirs.

Rapping about Volcanoes

It’s ridiculously easy. Come on. Volcanoes literally spit hot flows of lava (two types of which are called ‘ā’a and pāhoehoe), and pyroclastics (“fire fragments”, hot gases and tephra) that reach hundreds of degrees and hundreds of kilometers per hour that, according to UGGS.gov, “will destroy nearly everything in its path”. Volcanoes helped to kill over 90% of the Earth at one point. They’re rife with mythology and metaphor, and ingrained in our idioms. What else do you need?
You can talk about igneous rocks and various volcanic ejecta, like tough-sounding but actually soft tuff and the porous-looking but actually abrasive pumice. Get poetic with lava fountains, obsidian and other forms of volcanic glass, like Pele’s hair or Pele’s tears. Pumice rafts, basalt columns, lava lakes, domes, tubes and all sorts of structures can be explored. The distinction between magma and lava may be worth mentioning (though most trivialists might consider it common knowledge and thus an affront to their intelligence). Calderas and other features of the volcano are very rhymable. Very very.
And perhaps throw in some origin stories. Hot spots. Convergent and divergent boundaries. Rising magma and building pressure. The whole shebang. Maybe the different types of volcano, too: shield, cone, compound, dormant, active, extinct, and so on. The impact of supervolcanic or even just large-scale eruptions is awesome (semiarchaic meaning of “awe-inspiring” used here) and mind-bogglingly (1964 colloquialism) devastating – gorgeous sunsets, years without summer, and the always cheerful mass extinction are very suitable subjects for being compressed into the form of a short three-and-a-half minute song delivered rhythmically through the faculty of speech.
Seriously, you have so much to work with.
Legitimate rappers do not want to do this, yes, but semi-decent amateur aficionados that happen to be middle-school science teachers might! Many science teachers would love to be “relatable to the teens”, and many of them have made song renditions of common topics. People will cringe (rightly) at the puns and the badness, but you’re educating people about earth sciences, dammit. I have not yet found a single “volcano rap” song on YouTube that fully utilizes the sheer potential this topic possesses.
Someone get on this.