You never see people on tv talking about how they never read books.

In Hank Steuver's review of Thursday's live episode of "30 Rock" on NBC, he goes on at some length about the 'meta' aspect of the enterprise - how the show is a show about a show and how the jokes often curl back in on themselves, and how the last shot featured a character asking if they were still on the air. "In that moment," Steuver writes, "meta became more meta than meta ever was."

And then, when his review went up on the site, it became even a little bit more meta. 

One commenter wrote:

Never saw this show. I feel sorry for people who waste their time with tv.

Well, of course you do. After all, you could be doing much more important work, like, I don't know, reading articles about things that don't interest you and then taking the time to comment about them. Why not weigh in and share your thoughts on the mating techniques of drosophila melanogaster while you're at it, or are you already busy commenting elsewhere about the weather in some place you've never visited?

Another commenter, whose political leanings we might deduce from his username - TheChileanPresidentIsMuchBetterRespondingToDisastersThanObama - shares in the disappointment the previous commenter feels about the rest of us:
It is kind of sad that some people watch so much TV and really get into it such as this writer does. I read instead. I work to improve my station in life, not zone out. I wish more Post readers did as well. It's kind of sad.

Maybe it is sad that some people watch as much tv as they do, ChileanblahblahObama. Steuver, especially, must be distressed - after all, you were able to concisely express your opinions about television even though you apparently watch little or none, and here poor Hank can't even do his job without it.

Now that's meta.


A commenter is unimpressed by Jerry Lewis' MDA telethon and doesn't mind complaining to the Washington Post's Tom Shales about it. 

"How about we start to plan a telethon for all of the unemployed americans. $60 Million would go a long way towards helping people facing foreclosure or other economic problems." 

Hey, math whiz: there are 15 million people unemployed in the United States. Just how far do you expect that four bucks a person to go? 


An article about Hayley Wickenheiser's efforts to convince the legendary Russian hockey great Vladislav Tretiak - now the president of that country's hockey federation - to do something to improve the state of women's hockey there has generated comments on the Globe and Mail's website.

They're not informed comments or even half-intelligent comments, or, for that matter, in some cases, even on-topic comments, but, hey, let's not let the perfect become the enemy of the good, right?

RG2 sees the whole idea as a waste and an imposition.
Yay! lets sink mor emoney into women's hockey. Lets force people to watch an unwatchable sport. Lets force girls to play a boys' game.

"Force people to watch"? Sweet Jesus on a hockey stick, we can't even force RG2 to read an 800-word article. And "force girls to play a boys' game"? Do you really want to go there, RG2? Strictly speaking, it's not a boys' game, but I think I could be easily persuaded to watch one in which you would stand naked in front of a net while a long line of my most feminist women friends voluntarily - eagerly, even - skate to the top of the faceoff circle and shoot pucks at your nuts.

And while RG2 was busy fulminating against the Russians, or the women, or Russian women or who-knows-what, really, another reader reminded us that it's bigger than just women's hockey: It's about the pro game, and politics, and...

It's really about The Holocaust.

I mean, obviously, right?

Liberals are Nazis wrote:

NHL Sponsors:

*Budweiser (Austria)-Funded the start up of Adolph Hitlers Nazi Germany

*Seimens (Germany)-Built the Gas Chambers that murdered million of jews and gays.

*Bayer-Munich (Germany)-‘Asprin’ Designed the actual gas that killed millions of jews and gays.

Canadian kids are now being brainwashed into idolizing these German Euro-Socialist wannabe dictators.


Lest we forget

I suppose I should feel a little bit sorry for the poor dumb fuck: when his paranoia spirals out of control and turns into the throbbing headaches that feel like a thousand Knebelwerfers firing inside his head, the stupid son of a bitch can't even take an "Asprin" without becoming complicit in one of the single largest hockey-related genocides of modern times.

Curmudgeon: "The postmodernist student is inherently anti-intellectual." Student: "Whatever."

Beloit College released its annual Mindset List yesterday; the Globe and Mail article says Beloit uses the list "to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992."

You know, things like, "remember when there were only three channels on tv?" (I remember She Who Will Put Us In A Home, now 19, being absolutely delighted as a seven-year-old to discover that my apartment had a wall-mounted dial telephone. A three-channel tv universe would, I suspect, have been much less welcome.)

This year's list points out to instructors that the class of 2014 is unlikely to write in cursive, that Czechoslovakia has not existed in their lifetimes, and that Nirvana is on the oldies station, along with the Beatles and Brewer & Shipley.

(The Globe and Mail's subhed also points out that "knowledge of... Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers career sorely lacking among the class of 2014." As if, the Globe implies (tenaciously clinging to the hope that any average American gives a rat's ass about hockey at all), they might know about his time in LA, St. Louis, or New York. But I digress.)

The list is a handy way of reminding of us that our cultural touchstones are moving targets, that things are always changing.

Well, not that everything is always changing, mind you. There's always some crank, like reader "Atlas Is Shrugging:"

The postmodernist student is inherently anti-intellectual. They are incapable of following a logical argument. Ideology is all that counts. There is no genuine reason to bother acquiring facts and evidence to support your argument. At a minimal level, one merely needs to embrace the zeitgeist and be on the right side of history. This mindset pervades the softer sciences to such an extent that normally only a hard science credential deserves instant respect.

Not like you, eh, Atlas? All those big words - postmodernist, ideology, zeitgeist - you must be an intellectual. And way to slam those postmodernists. I presume you spent some time acquiring facts and evidence to support your argument, but space limitations prevented you from including them in your comment. Or did you decide that once you let us know about your ideology, you didn't have a genuine reason to bother, either?

I suspect reader mvarick had Atlas and other like-minded commenters in mind when he or she posted,

My lawn...

Oh, look! Harry knows his numbers!

Sunday was the big Pride Day parade in Toronto. The heat was hot, the ground was dry, and the air was full of sounds - music, applause, cheers and the sort of racket that only an enormous number of people can make.

In a story on its website, CBC News said organizers estimated the crowd at 1.3 million.

In addition to the back-and-forth between the "a splendid time was had by all" and the "homosexuality is an abomination" factions, the usual contingent of CBC-bashers showed off the synergy between their mathematical abilities and deductive reasoning skills.

Alert reader "HarryPomm" - ha, ha, ha - asked (and answered),
Are you kidding 1.3 million people? That's almost half the people in Toronto, crammed into a fairly narrow parade route. Doesn't the CBC ever check facts, any logic says that this is impossible. So therefore it must be political.

Meanwhile, alert reader "SMC-BC" could only wait furiously by his tv for the new FOX News-style channel to get rolling.

The claim that there were 1.3 million people at the event is untrue and not possible.... This is one more reason I'm glad Sun News is coming. Maybe honest reporting will come with it.

He would not be heartened to know that the Toronto Sun, published by the same company that will run Sun News and, presumably, use its resources, reported that "More than 1 million people flooded Yonge St. Sunday to take part in the event."

Perhaps Mr. Pomm and Mr. -BC can team up at next year's parade and count the attendees themselves. I suspect they'll give up about the time they run out of fingers, assuming they can get past the inevitable argument over which one has to count the left side of the route.


I - believe it or not - hesitate to correct people online because - well, because I look like this guy "dorsyn", correcting another guy, "carbonhog", who posted a comment to a recent blog by editorial cartoonist Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

hey carbonhog- the word is emmigrating. immigrants come in and emmigrants leave. Duh.

Or mmaybe dorsyn's just typing on a Mmacbook.

Also, everything he knows about politics he learned from John Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate."

Commenting on a story about scientists who recovered a piece of a Japanese spaceship that may have collected dust samples from an asteroid, alert reader "Pixelfix" says,

I wonder what sort of contamination screening they have for this. Did they all watch and pay close attention to The Andromeda Strain ( the original not the stupid remake ). Who knows what might be lying dormant, frozen in that dust.

Having not seen the "stupid remake" I can't hazard a guess as to the deeply flawed contamination screening procedures that might have been employed in that two-part made-for-tv movie, but no doubt Robert Wise's 1971 feature employed the sort of rigorous testing that will protect modern Earthlings from the kind of alien-microbe-slash-Japanese-movie-monster that might spring forth from Hayabusa's sample collection chamber.

Are there any other things from the science fiction of forty years ago you'd like to bring to bear on the problem, Pixelfix? Maybe have HAL9000 run through the data - oh, no, wait - wait - he's just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours - so we can't do that. Maybe we could ship it up to Moonbase Alpha and - what? You don't say. Sonofagun.

Angry Comments Jeopardy

It's time for Angry Comments Jeopardy! You all know how the game works: I'll present a selection of comments from readers of a major online news site and you need to ask me what it is they're talking about. As regular viewers will know, this can be tricky, as often even the commenters don't know.

Let's go straight to the first batch of comments!

matism1 wrote:
Filthy. Maggot. Pigs.

vze425s8 wrote:
I am saddened by the people responding with support for this unconstitutional intrusion on our liberty.... [M]ore and more of this SOFT TYRANNY will surely destroy a FREE nation.

Realist20 wrote:
The Obama socialist agenda pushes on... Is there no limit to his hubris?

lrm021054 wrote:
TO THE GOVERNMENT: Stop it - Why should ALL have to be affected? Oh, that's right - Obama and his gang are, baby step by baby step, transforming this country into a socialistic state: GOVERNMENTAL OWNERSHIP and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
Just add this to the list of: ObamaHealthCare,ObamaAutomobiles,ObamaMortgages,ObamaCollegeLoans,etc.

Everyone - Please, WAKE UP. Let your elected officials know how unhappy you are with changes being made by this administration. VOTE IN NOVEMBER AND 2012 - Our Democratic Republic and our Freedoms are slipping away day by day.

To Everyone that wants a Socialistic Government - leave this country and move to Europe.

jcp370 wrote:

Anyone? No? I'm not surprised you didn't get that question; it was a bit of a tough one. It was, "What are readers' reactions to a report in the Washington Post that the Food and Drug Administration would like to begin over the next ten years to limit how much salt can be added to processed foods in an attempt to prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease?"

You say "potato," I say "potattoo."

A Nova Scotia court has ruled dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Dartmouth woman, saying that because Amy Ullock failed to correct a spelling mistake in a tattoo she wanted on her arm she is responsible for the error, reports CBC News. 

As I write this, the story has prompted 250 comments. It would be fair to say that many of the commenters would have their claims against the tattoo parlour similarly dismissed.

pismo t clam:
caveat imptor
That is to funny!!!
Could be worse. She could have wanted "I am imortal" and they dropped the "t"...
I think the court should tell the guy who applied tatoo to his customer to go back to School to Learn how to spell.
Take English lesson Before you open the shop.
Sentient Human (disagreeing with an earlier comment):
Au contrare...Stupid is everywhere!
Somehow, I suspect that bit of tattoed text "You're so Beautiful" says much about the mentality of it's recepient.
I am surprised that either the person getting the tatoo or the tattoo"artist" ever realized the mistake.
Spelling is not a big thing with people who would do either!
sounds like she is pretty hung up on herself-to bad she can't spell
If she doesn't want to take the time to make sure what she is paying for is what she wants then its her own fault. If the artist showed her the stencil it was up to her to say weather or not that was what she wanted.

And everyone else* spelled it tatoo.

* Okay, not everyone.

Get the popcorn! It's time for Various Wingnuts Spewing Bile Over Each Other!

In his monthly chat Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten asked his audience whether or not people who comment on news stories online should be required to identify themselves. One of his readers suggested getting rid of comments entirely, arguing that the sections have "devolved into various wingnuts spewing bile over each other."

Gene's argument - and the very raison d'etre of this blog - is, "I think you're reading them wrong. It's wrong to read them expecting, say, an elucidation or elaboration or logical refutation of the original article. You must read them as entertainment, and as a way to take the pulse of the lowest comment denominator." (Nice pun there, Gene. Not for nothing did they throw a Pulitzer your way.)

And what, you ask, is that denominator? Well, these are people who don't like smart people, foreigners, people with jobs or unemployed people and they blame smart people and foreigners for taking away their jobs or for not having jobs, and who have no problem expressing those opinions. (Well, maybe some problems, especially if they have to comment in English and without spitting.)

In response to Howard Kurtz's March 24 Media Notes column, jolt1 wrote:

... and you wonder why there is intellectual elitism… good greif!

In a 2007 article about Republican presidential hopefuls' plans address illegal immigration, pechacekmelvin asserts:

I as an american want to live as an american when I go to the local McDonalds want to be seen by an individual who speeks the language not just spanish.

And a story about stagnant reading scores among American schoolchildren inspired LarryG62 to write:

Leaving the liberals in control of the educational system will encsure that this is not a one time phenomenen.

A piece about potential changes at the Postal Service led ComradeRahcuk to argue:

If they really want to save money they should close the Post Office all together.

Then can use that money to pay for all the Health Care that the illegals immigrants have been getting gratis and for the new benefits they will be getting when they are granted amnesty.

Commenter isang011 was less optimistic about prospects for reform at the USPS:

Until crook employees with cocain problems and workinmg for a privatr parcel service become loyal to USPS, all proposal to reforms of the system will be a wast of time.

It's a shame that so few readers take to heart Gene's advice that we should read these for their entertainment value. It's also a shame that so few commenters take advantage of the opportunity to write posts with that in mind. We need more people like pathfinder12, who responded in Swiftian style to an article about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's lawsuit to overturn the healthcare reform bill:

I support this man and the voters who supported him. Damn women if they think they belong in any place other than the kitchen and bedroom. Damn gays if they think they are equal to anyone, with their perverted views of sexuality. Who does the EPA think they are? They can't tell us what to do. Scientists are no smarter than priests, and we should treat the two equally. If we can't have religion in the schools, we can't have science in the schools. The federal government shouldn't run anything except the military. Keep your government hands off my highway systems, social security, regulations, worker protections, FAA, medicare, and medicaid.

That's the kind of right-minded thinking that keeps people like jolt1, pechacekmelvin, LarryG62, ComradeRahcuk and isang011 writing.

The Maginot Line fails again.

A CBC story about the declining efficiency of laser-reflecting mirrors on the surface of the moon says that researchers believe the problem is caused by moon dust.

Commenter mtltechwriter has another theory: "the changing position of earth's magnetic core." And he blames inattention and those crafty Germans.

This has been happening almost unnoticed because most scientists were busy with other projects. The recent increase of teutonic activity at the earth's crust however, has shifted the earth's balance and therefore the moon appears to be moving away.

Well, achtung, Fritz: you might be able to pull the wool over Frenchie's eyes, but America's not going to stand for this. 

If I may paraphrase Charles Pinkworth in "Bernard and the Genie,"

"That's a good point, dreadnut. That's a fully-fledged bastard of a good point."

Posted by dreadnut  March 03, 2010, 10:20PM

Let's see if I got this right: I'm an adult, I finally decide to have a circumcision for whatever reason, and I'm going to let some EMT perform the surgery on me in his house???

It would seem that more than one man arrived at that conclusion, dreadnut.

What's on your alleged mind, John Stalvern?

You have to give John Stalvern credit: he's not a quitter. He's a miserable SOB, a crank, the kind of guy who seems to hate everything but kittens (and maybe hates those too), but he's not the kind of guy who will give up in the face of something as trivial as constant and clear rejection.

He might be the most reliable troll on the Globe And Mail's website. We know nothing about who he is - the name "John Stalvern" is (presumably) a pseudonym, based on fanfic starring a zombie with that name - and we know not much more than that about what he thinks. As the comment moderators at the Globe And Mail say with astonishing regularity, "John Stalvern's comment was not consistent with our guidelines and has been removed."

And John's not a single-axe-to-grind kind of a guy, either. In a catalogue of somewhere north of 700 comments, he's got opinions too rude to print on nearly every topic under the sun. News articles, features, puff pieces, opinion bits: they all inspire him to write something apparently awful. Stories with titles like, "Trade in the car or the girlfriend?", "Bear hunters target B.C. provincial parks, highways" and "Hummer joins GM's growing scrap heap" bear his mostly-scrubbed-out fingerprints, as do such non-traditional hot-button items as "Ukraine looks eastward," "Chrysler sale put on hold," and "Apple unveils new, speedier iPhone."

We'll never know what it was about the iPhone that drove John Stalvern to post something so terrible that had to be removed. And it's not like the moderators at the Globe And Mail are prudes, either. The stuff that they leave up only enhances his curmudgeonly credibility. "Janet Jackson's Super Bowl nipple slip in court," reads one headline. "America is a loser," writes John. "Biology professor accused of faculty shooting described as 'genius'," says another. "America is worse than Somalia," responds John. "Police kill 'con artist' in Times Square shootout," says a third. "America is garbage, with police more corrupt than Somalia," says John. Elsewhere, he invites readers to submit photos of "the now-euthanized homeless" who lived near Vancouver's Olympic village, theorizes that "Dubai has a case of the retardeds," and posits that "kids suck." For the story that the "Toronto budget fails to hold the line on property tax," all he's left with is, "LOUD YELLING".

So what does John Stalvern think about some of the other Issues Of Our Time?


"An investment expert could simply slap his penus repeatedly on the keyboard, publish the resulting gibberish, and do no better or worse than a carefully deliberated recommendation."

"Bowing to China's oppressive and corrupt government is the price we have to pay to keep Canadian Walmarts full of plastic salad tossers and $23 infant car seats."

"Air Canada sucks."

"All US carriers and Westjet are garbage compared to [Air Canada]. Best North American airline, no contest."

The Arts:

"[Noel] Gallagher is a first-class wimp."

(On the October 2009 death of comedian Soupy Sales) "I think 'comedian' is too generous a term. Yawn."

"I have over one million songs on my phone. Whereas your life soundtrack ended with Rush's '2112', mine grows daily."

The Internet:

"Arguing on the internet is like winning a gold medal in the special olympics. Even if you win, you are still retarded."

"Google is more powerful than both God and Jesus combined."

"FACT: a 17-inch MacBook Pro retails for $2,799 and costs $144.10 to produce in China, including software and all materials, and about $16 to ship. Only status-hungry hipsters and worthless artists think this is a good value."

"Twitter Twerps Tweet Twaddle to Twats"


"Not to sound biased against female drivers, but women are simply not entirely attentive to goings-on in the immediate vicinity. Be it walking, driving, turning around, whatever; women are more likely to bump into something/someone or otherwise lose their way."

"Kids today are generally have more retardation than previous generations. Short attention spans due to garbage TV and SMS, and brain chemistry imbalances caused by energy drinks and never being outside."


"I generally despise firefighters, as there is a fire station one block from my house, and the incessant sirens and honking are ridiculous. Really, what proportion of their 'emergencies' are actually fires rather than false alarms?"


"I hate the Olympics."
"This Afghanistan quagmire is going to end up like 9/11 x 1,000. That's right: 911,000."

Moderator's Note: John Stalvern's comment was not consistent with our guidelines and has been removed. 

Deny thy name.

Anonymous wrote:
What utter useless trailer trash. The parents should be sterilized.

Name withheld opined, too, but whatever he or she wrote must have gone somewhat further than Anonymous' suggestion:
This comment has violated our Terms and Conditions, and has been removed.

Why such bile?

Blame Argyll, Bison, Boss, Chaos, Cherubim, Dice, Helix, Kal-El, Lightning, Morpheous, Mystery, Thunder, Whip, Costello, Ledger, Obama, Sutherland, Albertarose, Amazyn, Comfort, Epic, Fury, Fyre, Halleluya, Infiniti, Mischiefs, Mystique, Peanut, Twinkle, Victory, Whysper, Phoenix, Feenix, Pheenix, Phoeniks, Phoenyx, Lincoln, Lincon, Linkon, Linkyn and Lynkyn. And, of course, Ericlindross.

Actually, that's unfair. They're just 42 little kids. Of the 51,000 babies born in Alberta in 2009 - a record for the province - there are some with unusual names. That's why some members of the commentator class are eager to blame the children's parents for giving them names like that. And then, you know, sterilize the parents and give the kids away to strangers.
there should be an IQ test before parents are allowed to leave the hospital. whats the babies name? Truck? sorry but this is an intervention we are putting this kid up for adoption.....
A person who commented on another version of the story even saw an opportunity to create jobs:
The government should have two people reviewing each name: a registrar to record valid names, and someone from social services to take the babies away from some of these weirdos.

Ironically, every commenter quoted above posted anonymously. Could they be ashamed of their own names? We'll never know.

O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene II

The Ugly Canadian.

In their first game at the Winter Olympics, the Canadian women's hockey team defeated Slovakia 18-0.

Now, I happen to think that there should be a mercy rule in sports like hockey and baseball. The Olympics holds itself up as the embodiment of the spirit of being a good sport. Devastating a competitor that is truly and hopelessly outclassed is almost as embarrassing for the winners as it is for the losers: everybody knows it wasn't a fair fight. It's not unsporting to recognize that.

What is unsporting is to do what Brandon Hicks, a senior writer for, did: write a nasty, sneering and snide piece about the Canadian team "eking out a gutsy and harrowing 18-0 victory" despite what he called "the struggling Canadian offence."

I look forward to Mr. Hicks' account of the time his men's league team had a father-son game and creamed those 8-year-olds by a score of 28-3, or of the time when he, then a seventh grader, totally beat up that kid in grade two who looked at him.

The Let's Teach That Kid A Lesson Plan

In Waterbury, Connecticut, a 13-year-old girl in fifth grade started a food fight which quickly escalated into a fist fight with a 55-year-old lunch lady. Lunch Lady Doris has been charged, the kid has been suspended, and the local citizenry is howling for blood - especially the kid's.

Prospect Resident thinks the punk should lose at least a year of school.
Her behavior should have her expelled from school for 180 days.... I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF THE YOUTH IN AMERICA DOING THINGS LIKE THIS AND RECEIVING ALMOST NO APPROPRIATE CONSEQUENCES. It is time for new laws to be instilled that make kids like this LOSE THEIR RIGHT TO A FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION! ... This kid is TRASH....

Len B. notes that the girl is well behind her peer group and suggests a solution:
This 13 year-old girl is in the FIFTH grade? Shouldn't she be in at least seventh, if not eighth, grade by now? That says a lot about this 'innocent' little angel.... From what I read, there's nothing to be investigated: this little girl should be permanently expelled and forced to spend some time in a reformatory or, at the very least, a kennel with other dogs just like her.

And forward-thinking Tina and Heather agree that adults beating up 13-year-olds is the way to go.


That little brat got what she deserved. Her parents need to teach her some manners. No kid has the right to do that to any adult.

Lessons learned: 
  1. A 13-year-old who throws food and punches is bad. A grownup who retaliates in kind probably didn't go far enough.
  2. A seven-paragraph story provides sufficient insight into a person's character that one can identify the "trash." 
  3. Reader Bob Nield doesn't seem to care much one way or the other, but is pretty sure that the problem is "POOR LEADERSHIP AT THE TOP" and that it's also related to a decision to ban cell phones at a nearby high school.

Activist Judges On The Darwin Awards Bench

A California couple who robbed a cash advance store in Colorado was caught when employees provided to police the job application one of them had filled out two months previously.

Christine Drummond and Joseph Nieto told the arresting officers they'd held up the place to get enough money to get back to California and spend Christmas with their children.

Commenter "filterfish" was sufficiently impressed to start handing out the hardware:

And the Darwin award goes to....Christine Drummond!!

To which I say: hey there, tiger, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The governing body describes itself as "A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises Honoring those who improve the species... [sic] by accidentally removing themselves from it," and Ms. Drummond is still a member of the species. She's even had kids: she's actually done her bit to perpetuate the characteristics that got her arrested.

What I'm saying, filterfish, is that by surviving and having children, she's the exact opposite of a Darwin Awards candidate. Sure, she's not very bright, but if everyone who said or did something stupid got a Darwin Award, Ms. Drummond would be in fine company.

Yours and mine, for example.

She can reuse this the next time there's an earthquake in Kyrgyzstan, too.

Commenter "MadameMorticia" seems about ready to throw in the towel on a certain earthquake-devasted country that's in the news recently:
How can we help Haity? Most of us cannot. If we donate our money to some "charity", we'll just end up getting scammed, giving our money away to greedy people who will use it to enrich themselves - very little of that money will actually make it's way to Haity. I don't believe in giving to organized charity (well, money anyway). We can't all go down there and literally do stuff, bring stuff. How could I get away from my "job" which requires my attendance 8.5 hours per day, 5 days per week (where completion of my daily assigned workload takes 30 minutes of those 8 hours). We can't bring stuff, what, is there an airline that would fly me, my shovel and work clothes, garbage bags full of clothes and non-perishable food, down there free of charge? Hahahah!

It's difficult to help Haity.

So, to enumerate some of the problems:
  1. Charities are scams.
  2. Not enough work to do at job, but unable to take time off.
  3. Airlines unwilling to fly her, her shovels and garbage bags of clothes and food for free.
And let's not forget, we can't help Haiti until we learn to spell Haiti.

Mull of Kintyre/Old mist rolling in from the seeth.

The Mail Online has a story and pictures of Paul McCartney on vacation on an unspecified island in the Carribean, prompting angry reader "dave" of "[a] safe distance from hull" to write,
Let's assume that dave bought the record around the time it was released in 1977. If he was sixteen then, that makes him - scratch, scratch, add, think, carry the one, scratch - 49 some time this year.

I worry about guys like dave: they've got a different perspective on life than the rest of us do. He's nearly 50 and his "GREATEST REGRET IN LIFE" is that he bought "Mull of Kintyre." And he's still seething about it. What might have happened if he'd spent another couple of pounds on the "Ebony & Ivory" single? And what would be a safe distance from Hull in those circumstances?

And let's not even think about "Wonderful Christmastime."

The Grandoise Plans Of The Nouveau Riche.

So a guy in Maryland is digging up the paperwork to pay the next installment on his truck insurance and finds a six-month-old lottery ticket he bought when he paid the previous installment on his truck insurance. Good news: the ticket's a $250,000 winner.

A feel-good story that makes everyone happy, right?

Sure, thought a commenter called "Sai Hundal".
Good for him, what a nice Christmas Gift. God works in mysterious ways.

Oh, great. That's just great. Here we effin' go. 

As Neil Armstrong once said, "That's one little, harmless expression of satisfaction for another person, one giant storm of argument about the existence (or not) of God." The next hundred and ninety comments included thirty-eight so inflammatory that they were deleted by the Good News Network's editors. 

A week later, after the latest skirmish in The Internet Crusades has died down, commenter "NYCBBEAN" spots the real villain in the story: the un-named lottery winner.
$250K - I wonder how much he thinks he's going to get after taxes etc? Seems like he has grandoise plans to me
It would appear that in addition to not knowing how to spell "grandiose," NYCBBEAN doesn't know what the word means:

"With his winnings, [the winner] said he plans to donate to a charity, help family, invest and take a vacation."

Maybe the gentleman from Maryland should consider hiring NYCBBEAN to bring a little sanity to his imminent spending spree.

I probably should stop calling it "the local fishwrap." I wouldn't dream of wrapping fish in it.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in July 2009. 

Like many other newspapers' websites, my town's local fishwrap, Wheeling's Intelligencer & News-Register, allows its readers to comment on many articles on its website. The site's Terms of Service say that the comment feature is “provided to give users an interesting and stimulating forum to express their opinions and share ideas and information.”

“It is a condition of your use of these Services,” say the Terms, that people don't, among other things, use “vulgar, profane, abusive, hateful or racist language or expressions” or make “attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature” or “post any material that is threatening, false, defamatory, misleading, fraudulent, unfair, and inaccurate... [or] is unreasonably harmful or offensive to any individual, community, association, business or group.”

It's a system that works, except when it doesn't, which is usually. You know that old saying that opinions are like assholes – everybody's got one? The News-Register's comments section seems to be on a single-minded quest to tip that balance. Now, a lot of news (and other) websites have comments sections that seem to be populated mostly by people who have checked their good manners at the door. But the News-Register's comments are different. The comments on nearly every story seem to rapidly and rabidly devolve into demonstrations of who can be the most puerile and juvenile. How juvenile, you ask?

Well, here's user “EllisWyatt” implying that “GymJones” is a homosexual voyeur in response to GymJones calling him gay and “a little whiny c-u-n-t” (the hyphens are there to defeat the Dirty Word Filter) during an interesting and stimulating discussion of some local steelworkers being recalled from layoffs.

Elsewhere, “AlexanderShulgin” adds a non-journalist's perspective to a story about poor weather during the local Jamboree In The Hills music festival: “Tit bit nipply,” he remarks, expanding upon his own earlier comment - “Let’s see some t i t i e s [sic]” - on another story about the Jamboree.

“WVUGator2” agrees with EllisWyatt that a fire at a local country club “is a classic example of Jewish Lighning [sic],” - arson as an implement of insurance fraud - in part because “we all know Moondog could not get his bike up Route 88.” Moondog, a bit of a local celebrity, is known for riding a bicycle that flies a very large flag. Were it not for the difficulty in riding that bike up the very steep hill, Moondog, an African-American, would seem to be high on WVUGator2's list of suspects.

On the healthcare issue, “conservsquatch” says GymJones is both incestuous and a pedophile: “Gymjones does his mother. He also still touches little boys,” while “Truthseeker” believes many of the commenters “enjoy kicking puppies and kittens.”

Commenting on another healthcare story, “Highland” postulated that “[President] Obama will shut down any hospital that refuses to perform abortions,” prompting “acousticportal” to riposte in customary fashion, “Highland...are you really that ignorant? f-n blind follower.”

When a nearby school board announced the appointment of a principal to a new position after allegations of harrassment had been made against him, EllisWyatt suggested that county voters were “morons,” prompting shastacooper to call him “truly, truly the VILLAGE IDIOT.” Then, when “All4One” lamented the lack of civility in the comments to that point, COACH1 seemed to imply that All4One was a corrupt crony of the former principal, which in turn prompted Honeybun to speculate that COACH1 “may have been getting some special favors from” said former principal.

So, the News-Register's comment pages are home to a pretty sad-sack bunch of intemperate, insulting, homophobic, vitriolic, foul-mouthed, xenophobic, intolerant, petty, vindictive, rude and libelous people, and the Wheeling Intelligencer & News-Register seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Maybe its editors just have a different definition of “an interesting and stimulating forum.”

"Join The Discussion." (But try not to get too much spit on your monitor.)

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.  

Adapted from a letter I sent to the editor of The Globe And Mail earlier this week.

It's time for news organizations' websites to discontinue the practice of offering their readers the opportunity to comment on the stories they publish.

Billed as a way for a site's readers to share their thoughts, in reality the commenters rarely contribute anything thoughtful or worthwhile. Rather, the comments are frequently puerile, juvenile, inane and banal, and all too often they are simply hateful, vulgar, and offensive. Today's exemplar:, the website of The Globe And Mail newspaper, "a blue-chip brand whose credibility is unchallenged... [and] universally recognized as Canada's newspaper of record."

Last Tuesday in Ottawa, a police constable named Eric Czapnik was stabbed to death as he did paperwork in his cruiser. A few hours later, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer on leave because of mental health issues was charged with his homicide. The comments section of the Globe And Mail's story provided a disturbing insight into how the feature has devolved. By 10pm that night, 28 of the 218 comments posted were deleted by The Globe's editors for content "not consistent with [The Globe's] guidelines." Many of those that remained were little more than malice-filled expressions of the commenters' personal biases.

Two commenters agree - before an arrest is announced - that the suspect "was either on probation, parole, or bail... AND he was unemployed and contributing nothing to society." Another speculates later that the suspect "wanted to die 'death by cop' style" but "didn't have guts" to kill himself. Yet another seems to imply that Const. Czapnik's murder and the death of Robert Dziekanski in 2007 is part of some kind of RCMP-organized attack on Poles; that writer might be on the same page as the one who believes that RCMP officers have "been given a blank cheque to cover up all their past murders." And there's no shortage of commenters calling one another "idiot" or "mental midget."

This sort of thing isn't isolated. Pick an online story at random and you're almost guaranteed to find something: airport delays? Let's call Muslims terrorists. Fired at age 42 for being too old? Let's make a crack about global warming. Unemployed at 59? Let's mock you because you were in a union. Gym memberships? "This is the most insipid drivel I have ever had the misfortune to read."

The Globe And Mail invites its readers to "Join The Discussion," but these people are uninterested in discussing anything. They just want another forum for their bilious, vitriolic, racist hatemongering. And websites like The Globe And Mail seem to be happy to give them one.

Let's save some hate for Guam, people.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.

In Chambers County, Texas, three Puerto Rican men are in custody, charged with stabbing to death a man who had let them stay in his trailer.

Horrific crimes like this almost inevitably lead to a show of force from the peanut-brain gallery.

Searcher61 wrote:

No reverence or value on human life. See what you want, TAKE it! "American Dream," INDEED! OUR American Dream is to DEPORT those who come here illegally to take advantage of OUR hard work, and to ELIMINATE those who come here illegally to take advantage of us AND kill us when we try to help them!...

lea1 wrote:

How long will will let these people come to our country? seems when they said where they were from "Devillier" would have asked about their legal status in our country... coming to our country for the illegals means food stamps,free medical care, and rights that we as americans do not have. It also means they can rob and kill and then move on.

sk134 wrote:

This is one reason why law officers should be able to ask the simple question :Are you here legally? If he could have asked, perhaps a man would be alive today.

Danzmark wrote:

Time to throw ALL these illegals out ! The American Dream doesn't include the rest of the Americans letting these parasites sneak in.

But my favourite comment comes early in the stream of invective, from the 10th person to comment.
Bear1949 wrote:

ILLEGAL ALIENS doing what they do best, KILLING AMERICAN citizens.

That's my favourite comment because only 13 minutes earlier, the very first commenter made a bold prediction.
CheeryEyed wrote:

I despise Puerto Ricans for whining that they can't be a state nor can they be independent. That said, I'm waiting for the idiots to call these goons illegals.

What CheeryEyed is hinting at, of course, is that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and - since 1917 - people born in Puerto Rico are American citizens.

The peanut-brain gallery speaks.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.

In Decatur, Georgia, a 4-year-old boy was killed by a bullet from celebratory gunfire while attending a New Year’s Eve church service. The bullet is believed to have come from a weapon fired into the air before it pierced the church roof and struck the boy in the head.

We can be grateful to one of the website's commentators for immediately identifying the salient issue:

What is the church roof made of...Saran Wrap? Once the bullet makes its way down towards earth and hits the roof, there should be enough friction force on the bullet to slow it down before it completely exits the roof material.

Jan. 1, 2010 7:50pm EST | from trizone

A blog in which the old saying about opinions and assholes is demonstrated.

"What's on your 'alleged' mind?" is a question a friend and former coworker of mine asks when he senses the person he's speaking to is about to say something - I don't want to say stupid, exactly - that doesn't reflect well on the speaker's intellect.

I use that question here in a different sense: here, I do want to use the word stupid. It's a word that accurately describes the stuff you'll read in this blog, which is a collection of comments that readers have appended to stories on the websites of various online media organizations. It's kind of sad, really, in that stupid is probably the kindest thing one can say of much of the commentary. Too much of it is also bilious, ignorant, vitriolic, xeno-, homo-, techno- and anyotherkindophobic you might think of, not to mention several flavours of things you might not think of.

So let's follow the news as it's seen through the eyes of a large number of people with terrifically small brains, long lists of things which offend them, houses full of fears and paranoia, and no small collections of axes to grind, shall we?