Monday, July 27, 2009

Writing, Rewriting, Editing & Recycling



The aspect of writing that I like the least is editing. Tinkering with the story I like, sometimes obsessively. Looking for the better word or phrase is often gratifying and can chew up hours and hours of writing time. What I hate is the actual editing; you know the commas and run-on sentences. I mean that type of work is well . . . work! I was fortunate working on the Matusow book that I had Amy Calistri as a writing partner. She not only doesn't hate editing, I think somewhere deep down she might actually enjoy it. A sick and perverse delight I know, but people are strange.

As part of my writing practice, I often do what I dislike, which means I take old pieces and reedit them, often to the point of a rewrite. In theory the read is improved and my style going forward needs less editing and I somehow become inoculated to the necessity of doing more rewrites. So today I am launching a new and somewhat infrequent series on my little blog here. I am revisiting some of my better, more timely, less dated, somewhat interesting older posts and giving them a fresh edit. I promise not to overdo it. No more than two a month or thereabouts. Some will obviously have some poker content and for this I apologize to those who abhor cards, card games, gambling and the associated degenerate scum of the earth.

I begin with a poker rant from early '07 aimed at the then newly excreted Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. This was originally posted 30 January 2007 under the header: Hell No, We Won't Fold! 

Recycled Post #1



Godwin's Law is a powerful observation about the state of Internet conversation. An observational adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990, the law states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis, Fascists or Hitler approaches one." Anyone with even a passing familiarity with internet forums and newsgroups knows that when such forums are unmoderated they tend at one time or another to be populated and overrun by idiots, morons and pear-shaped fourteen year old boys. Any statement that can be perceived to limit the freedoms of any one to do any thing at any time will lead to a charge that the author of said idea is a Nazi or indeed Hitler himself.
Godwin's Law does not dispute whether, in any particular instance, that a reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be apt. It is precisely because such a reference or comparison may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided, as it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. I would add that in reality, that is in thoughtful, grounded reality; there are seldom discussions on the internet where the content under debate will actually rise to the level of the Third Reich. For instance, in our case, despite Joan Rivers' venom; poker never has a discussion or dispute where fascism in any form is an appropriate analogy. None, never, nope, not poker, it is a game after all, just a game. Fools, incompetents, money-grubbing individuals and corporations, cheats, players, scammers and crooks but really no nazis.

In it's earliest form Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion, electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms and more recently blog comment pages. Invoking Nazism and Hitler in any form is tantamount to crying Wolf! and abandoning any other thoughtful position on the subject in question. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Call the thought police!

Why do I bring up Mr. Godwin and his intriguing law? Well sports fans because not since Nixon and his tin soldiers were coming has the federal government done so much to invade our private lives. Methinks it's the fear that some damn liberal democrat will take over in just two years that has pushed the feds at every level to use all their tinker toy illegally invasive procedures, under the guise of terrorism and the obscenely named "Patriots Act" to save our country, our children and our way of life from........ wait for it....... yes.... say it! say it! ........POKER!!! (See you can easily replace the Nazis with some plain olde hyperbole without completely turning your argument into a pointless screed.)
You know how everytime someone gets busted by the cops for jaywalking or operating a lawnmower before 7 AM they scream: "Don't you have something better to do, like catch murderers and rapists?" Well, yes they do. These non-nazis are going to go into rec. rooms and basements throughout the country and bust online poker players. (Now see if I had said 'neo-nazis then I would have been trying an intellectual end-run around Godwin's law.)
OK, then let me ask. Is there something else our governmental representatives might be doing with our tax money and our federal employees, say the matter of ... oh let's see, actual terrorism or Iraq or maybe our crumbling infrastructure, failing educational system and oh yes some minor economic problems? NO! let's instead deprive millions of Americans from enjoying themselves; oh and by the way let's put about 25,000 American citizens out of work. (OK, so I was one of those put out of work, but really my motivations here are pure, honest and true. I don't think the right-wing republicans are fascist, nazis or even evil. I do think they are meddling, bible-thumping, authoritarian pricks, but not Nazis!)

There is a lesson here that one would have thought we all would have learned once or twice before: Prohibition does not work. Never has, never will. This is not about Homeland Security or money laundering or even about protecting the kids; this is about uptight, morally superior elected officials telling us how we should spend our leisure time, how we should spend or not spend our earnings and how we should think about life, god, sin and what is right. Which is why many of us called the country we once respected--Amerika.

You remember those days, some called it the 60s. I really hate to say this but the last couple of years of the Bush administration is going to feel like that again. Welcome back my friends to the reactionary show that never ends. And to think Richard Nixon loved poker.

2 comments:

Cardgrrl said...

Speaking of copy-editing: "I promise not to overdue it."

I'm pretty sure you mean "overdo it."

:)

PokerShrink said...

I did admit to needing an editor. :O