Steven Brust

Just a Music Moment (The Microorganism)

Boiled in Lead, 'From the Ladle to the Grave' (Omnium Records, 1989).  Composite including detail of cover art.

In truth, I can’t believe it took me this long. You know, as if I really need an excuse for a plague song.

In April, when your barge sailed through, I fell in love with you; alas! my paramour, alack! a stranger to me ’til the test comes back. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism! Dive in the gene pool, down you swim, down to where the light grows thin. Flail, little fishies, flail if you can, but avoid the microorganism man. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism. Caffeine, sugar, and THC is all the doctors are gonna find in me when they do the autopsy, the microorganism won’t get me. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism. God is good, and God is great; God’s a big invertebrate. God made the river change its route, but He won’t pull the microorganism out. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism! The cowslips bloom, and the bluebells to; here’s advice I’ll give to you: Rattle your sword before you strike, and never kiss anyone you like. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism!

Boiled in Lead, “The Microorganism” (1989)


A Typographical Error

Seahawks-2014-logoYou know, typos are what they are. We’ve all had a few, and occasionally they’re embarrassing. Ask Paarfi to offer his sentiments on two words.

Never mind.

At any rate, let us play a game. Can you spot the typo?

Following the Seahawks 24-14 win over the Eagles Sunday, Sherman sent his jersey to Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, reports.

But rather than trash talk or an in-your-face attitude, Sherman sent the jersey and signature as a congratulatory sign of respect to McCoy, who broke the Eagles’ all-time single-season rushing record last year.

McCoy ran for 1,607 yards on 3013 carries in 2013, passing a record posted in 1979 by Eagles running back Wilbert Montgomery

The message on the back of the Sherman’s jersey read, “To Shady: Bro, congrats on the record! you have earned everything you have gotten. Have respect for you and your game.”

The thing is that it always takes that moment of silence between pulses in your chest before it clicks: Oh, just a typo. And every once in a while, the holy shit! moment is just astounding.

The article is credited to Q13 FOX News Staff, but that sort of only makes things worse. Just how many people either weren’t paying attention or have no idea how this sport works?

‘Tis true that we at This Is loathe local television news, but, frankly, this is a chuckle proving, on this occasion, that it was worth taking the Facebook clickbait.


Q13 FOX News Staff. “Congrats, Bro! Richard Sherman sends surprising message to Eagles’ McCoy”. 10 December 2014.

Unfortunately Requisite


Walking through the filth in the streets made me want to retch, but I hid it. Anyway, we all know Easterners are filthy, right? Look at how they live. Never mind that they can’t use sorcery to keep their neighborhoods clean the way Dragaerans do. If they want to use sorcery, they can become citizens of the Empire by moving into the country and becoming Teckla, or buying titles in the Jhereg. Don’t want to be serfs? They’re stubborn, too, aren’t they? Don’t have the money to buy titles? Of course not! Who’d give them a good job, seeing how filthy they are?

―Steven Brust, Yendi

Every once in a while, our friends show their (ahem!) “true colors”. Today it took the form of a post coming across a social media feed, one of those whining articles about, “Look! A black person committed a crime! And the victim was white! Where’s the racist Obama! What’s the matter with that racist Al Sharpton! Waaaaaaah!”

And no, we are not impressed. The following is a list of questions these people are skipping:

• Were the suspects arrested? (Yes.)

• Were the suspects charged with a crime? (Yes.)

• Were the suspects charged by a prosecutor directly or through grand jury indictment? (Prosecutor.)

• Why were the suspects not indicted by a grand jury?

• Why did the prosecutor not call them to testify on their own behalf at the grand jury investigation?

• Why did the prosecutor not call a string of witnesses with the intention of undermining his own case?

• Why did the prosecutor not falsely inform the jury of what the law says?

• Where are the lines of “law-abiding” people demanding due process for the accused?

And, certes, we might note that some questions can be answered according to the circumstance described in other answers. Why did the prosecutor not do this or that at the grand jury hearing? Because there was none. Why was there none? Because the prosecutor has the discretion to file charges on his own. Why did he do that? Because, under the circumstances, he could.

And, actually, that’s what it looks like for the vast majority of people accused of crimes, even those indicted by grand juries.

And that, in turn, is why the federal government is involved.

But wait … there’s more!


Something About Chimpanzee Personhood

"This is not a welfare issue," argued Wise, who says existing animal welfare statutes permit Tommy to be kept alone in a cage. "The question is whether there is an unlawful detention here." To which Peters rejoined: What is unlawful about the detention?

So … right. Personhood for chimpanzees … and … go:

Can an animal who possesses the essential qualities of personhood ever be considered, in the eyes of the law, a person?

As of now, the answer is no. But a panel of New York state judges yesterday considered that question, which was posed by a group called the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Tommy.


It is a compelling question, yet we should not feel silly for failing to grasp the implications; the range and magnitude are unknown, though we might simply say they are tremendous. Brandon Keim of Wired also offered some background when the case arose last year.

It is easy enough to agree with the proposition that species is irrelevant to personhood if one has cognitive capacity when we stare at walking, talking, and often shooting extraterrestrials on the silver screen, or reading adventures of human assassins who might otherwise fall in love with elves, but one might reasonably suggest we have problems dealing with questions of personhood in real life, insofar as they actually pertain to people we would otherwise already recognize as people. To the other, that does not mean the question of whether or not a chimpanzee counts as a person is without merit.

Still, though, given that all this occurs against a backdrop of an election season in which questions of personhood are emerging as a prominent, confusing, and, apparently, confused issue, the chimp factor is the something of a wildcard. That is to say, it seems rather difficult to suddenly screech up and shift contexts, especially because the implications of the new question could, under certain circumstances—e.g., personhood for chimpanzees—further complicate and confuse the ongoing political context that will, under certain circumstances—e.g., personhood for human zygotes—ultimately become a judicial context.

Yet it remains an interesting question.


Keim, Brandon. “New York State Court Hears Landmark Chimp Personhood Case”. Wired. 9 October 2014.

—————. “A Chimp’s Day in Court: Inside the Historic Demand for Nonhuman Rights”. Wired. 6 December 2013.

Benen, Steve. “Erst stumbles on ‘personhood’ basics”. msnbc. 6 October 2014.