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.....

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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