117 thoughts on “The Most Important Public Service Message This Site Has Ever Run

  1. Alright, we get it already.

    I think God needs a hobby. You know, other than molesting rodents. Though I’m sure that’s mildly diverting for at least a few minutes.

    JAB

  2. Wait… you seem to be suggesting that personal attention from god might be a bad thing…

    And you’re assuming quite a lot about the proclivities of hamsters…

  3. Anally questing digits? What makes you think a divine being would use a digit? If I had the power to create the world in less than a week, I’d surely be able to design a better hamster poking device than a finger.

    Then again, I’d also design a better prostate checker than a finger, so maybe divinity isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be. Perhaps God did all His best work in that first six days, and has writers block for the next 5,800 years (plus or minus 13.73 billion years).

    Alright, this rant is now over. (poor hampster)

  4. Wait, I though “alright” was not a word. Now the poster says it is. Pick a side. We’re at war!

  5. If I haven’t matured since age thirteen, why the hell am I going bald?

    That just means you’re getting to be very old. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re maturing. There’s a major difference.

  6. You know, that hamster doesn’t look too upset about being poked in the butt. In fact, he looks kind of happy about the situation.

  7. Must… resist… urge…

    Nnngh…

    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT

    Okay, how many hamsters have I killed.

  8. I hate hamsters so I’m going to make it my mission to use the word alright as many times as I can today alright.

  9. Look into my heart? I will do no such thing – it would just make me bleed all over the place and do you know how hard blood is to get off carpets, chairs and computer keyboards?

    *Someone* had to say that! ;P

  10. “The hamster, he is praying to you.”

    Pagan hamsters! Thou shalt not have other gods before me, said Yahveh. Heed not this Scalzi guy, he is making idols of his very readers!

  11. Weird: when I submitted the comment above, I got a page with “Warning: cannot modify header” error messages when I was just submitting a comment, but the comment did get through it seems.

  12. I’m reading Halting State for the Philadelphia SF Society Hugo Panel, and Charles Stross used the “a-word”. I immediately thought of you. Then I click to Whatever this morning, and I see this. I think I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd.

  13. Dude, there’s places where some hamsters pay top dollar for that sort of thing. Why shouldn’t we help ‘em get it for free?

  14. Thanks Scalzi, this word annoys me too. Next time someone uses it in an IM or email I can just send this back. Todd-I noticed this about Charles Stross too. Not just in Halting State, I think he uses ‘alright’ pretty liberally in the Atrocity Archives books also. It got to me more because his books are so great.

  15. I am going to side with those of the opinion that the hamster appears to find the prospect of being anally probed delightful. He’s practically offering his butt there to all and sundry.

  16. 1. You are going bald because back at age 13, when you quit maturing, you transferred a large number of hair follicles to your palms.

    2. When I was in elementary school, over 50 years ago, we were taught when to use “alright” and when to use “all right.” I missed the memo when the two became merged.

    3. Does the hamster still get it if I put quotes around the A word, as in point two above?

  17. Sorry John,

    I’ve decided since ‘already’ and ‘all ready’ have such different meanings, ‘alright’ and ‘all right’ deserve their separate existences.

    I cheerfully shout, ‘Poke a hamster for evolving language’.

    Take that Fluffy!

  18. LOL. So much funny. I’m a grammar nazi, so I TOTALLY understand the alright/all right issue. Right on!

  19. T-Boy @17: You haven’t killed any. You’ve just made it cruelly uncomfortable for several to walk.

  20. what the hell are you people talking about. talk about, i don’t know something FUN like salmon.

  21. Just as proof that the universe has a really weird sense of humor — even weirder than “coconuts!” —

    I was doing my morning surfing here on the Silicon Prairie when I encountered this entry. With music. And my randomized playlist (Radio Free Albemuth) popped up with the following item moments before I switched to this tab:

    A Little Cap’n In You?

  22. There comes a time in everyone’s life when you transition from an alright, serial-comma-loving youngster, to an old geezer yelling “Get off my lawn.” Welcome to geezerdom John.

    And don’t forget: Andy Rooney is on tonight.

    Al

  23. Scalzi, where’d you get the picture? I used to know a hamster Internet superstar, and that looks a LOT like him…

  24. How long until the hamsters get a lawyer and sue god? I imagine it will happen just after PETA gets involved.
    Salmon aren’t fuzzy and cute so nobody cares if god pokes them.

  25. God doesn’t poke the salmon, but every time someone writes “you” as “u”, he uses a salmon for poking a hamster in the butt.

  26. Write LOL in front of your own name once and it sticks in your browser until you remember to delete it.

  27. John @#39,

    Salmon get poked by God with hooks, as in fishing, not houks, as in poetry.

    Alright, now that we have had our poking fun for now please tell us the REAL reason (other than shit on Scalzi week) why the pitch-a-fit ??????

  28. Cockneys* have caused mass hamster violation.

    *Cockneys: Londoners. The trad East End working working class ones, who wear Gorblimey ‘ats, talk in rhyming slang (apples and pears = stairs) and calm a crisis by saying ‘Alright, alright keep yer ‘air on!’

    They also use ‘alright’ as a full stop.

  29. I’ve always been of the mind that vernacular is fluid. If enough people agree that something is a word, it is a word. Of course I don’t think its that simple but if everyone wants to say “alright”, who are you to impede progress?

  30. Alex,

    Indeed it is. But that doesn’t mean that we have to accept ugly words. Not all change is progress. But, to be fair, “alright” is fairly old. It’s still an ugly word.

    Now if we want to talk about change that is movement backwards there’s always blog. Very ugly word. I advocate the use of day book.

  31. You know, I was going to say something about “blog”…

    Do I get to shout “J’accuse!” every time John uses it? (And twice when he uses it as a verb?)

  32. scalzi sez: Or it means that only my scalp has matured, alas.

    Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. Now we have a hypothesis: Scalzi’s scalp is maturing, but is brain is not. Therefore, Scalzi’s skull is acting as some sort of maturity barrier. The maturity particles, perhaps contained in the rays of the sun, or perhaps falling from the sky like invisible buzz-killing butterflys, land on Scalzi’s scalp and, unable to get through his skull, trickle down and permeate the rest of his body. It is this phenomenon that causes him to write chapter-long fart jokes.

    Now I need to design an apparatus which will detect the presence of maturons. Once that is done, tissue samples of Scalzi’s brain and scalp will either confirm or refute my hypothesis.

  33. SNG: ‘blog’ is indeed an ugly, ugly word. It doesn’t roll off the tongue, but instead sits there like a lump of rancid fat, or a hunk of that cheese that people buy to impress their friends.

  34. Dave Klecha:

    I for one welcome the total abolition of the word “blog.” However, being that I’m taking rather enough fire for being on the frontlines of the abolition of “alright,” I’ll let this particular cup pass from me. But I’ll cheer wildly anyone who manages to defeat the evil “blog”.

  35. I’m SO glad I’m not the only one. Being a somewhat overly grumpy 30 something netadmin and UNIX geek I sometimes think it is just me. It’s good to know that it isn’t.

  36. I have no great love for hamsters….

    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
    ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT

  37. Alright…. (this cup will never pass from you)… but you will never destroy that new word, blog…

  38. I will not submit to Rraey signals. I am one free and strong Human. Our genes and history cannot be denied.

  39. Alright, Maybe the hamster likes getting things poked there? So that would make it Alright. :-)

  40. Salmon get poked whenever a real estate developer names something a “Centre” or a “Pointe.” If the word “Towne” is used, the fish gets a smack as well.

    –or–

    If a middle-aged white guy calls someone “G,” a salmon gets poked. If he calls someone “Dawg,” a salmon explodes.

  41. Scalzi @52: Because I care for the hamsters, quite obviously. Passionately.

    Perv. And a blasphemer, too — suggesting that God has a furry butt fetish. Or more likely, projecting your own fetishes upon God. ;-)

  42. Gennita Low @69: I think it’s probably “All Mighty” and we’ve been getting it wrong all this time. Everytime someone uses “Almighty,” God takes a follicle from Scalzi’s scalp.

  43. Because I care for the hamsters, quite obviously. Passionately.

    Coming soon to a theatre near you, John Scalzi in “The Passion of the Hamsters.”

    I for one welcome the total abolition of the word “blog.” However, being that I’m taking rather enough fire for being on the frontlines of the abolition of “alright,” I’ll let this particular cup pass from me.

    Coming soon to a YouTube near you, John Scalzi in “Two Illiteracies, One Cup.”

  44. Jeez, John, as anyone who has ever seen “Dirty Jobs” God is poking them in the “cloaca,” not the butt. Unless God is a 10-year-old boy and enjoys bathroom humor.

  45. Not that I really want to conversation to continue down this track, but any creature that has an anus (and hamsters do) has a butt, in the colloquial sense of the term. And that’s what God pokes.

  46. It’s taken 76 comments to mention UFIA? I had thought more people here read Fark.com. (Because an Unsolicited Finger In the Anus is nothing to kid around with! Unless you read Fark! In that case it’s alright all right!)

  47. I imagine that, when I say “alright,” said hamster is poked, he/she says “woo hoo,” just like the Pillsbury dough boy.

    Normally I’d be all right. But to hear that “woo hoo”…

  48. One of the nice things about having been in charge of a company style guide is that I got to tell writers they absolutely could not, under any circumstances, use the abomination “alright” — and I made it stick.

    Having since abdicated, I miss that level of power. It must be mine!…again.

  49. Andrew:

    “All right” is also standard in the AP and Chicago style guides, which in terms of publishing in the US, makes it the “right” choice.

  50. So Jack Bruce has been indirectly molesting hamsters for years then (the recording of “Cat’s Squirrel” on Fresh Cream has a vocal section consisting solely of multiple uses of alri//// that word).

  51. This is all about a style guide? A style guide has nothing to do with what is right or wrong, it only settles on a single choice so that the newpaper, TV station, whatever is consistent. Sort of like the early radio network audio style guide that directed that the accent to be used nationwide on news broadcasts was what is spoken by most people from Chicago westward. That doesn’t make New England or Southern accents wrong.

  52. Well, it’s about “alright” precipitating divine hamster poking. The CMS and AP Style guide choice are merely a notation of fact (and evidence that their originators were friends of hamsters).

  53. Actually, this raises some interesting theological issues. Is God compelled to poke a hamster in the butt when someone uses that word? If he is, how does that speak to the claims of omnipotence often made on His behalf? Can He not put an end to this cycle of hamster-butt-probing by merely declining to participate? And what of Calvinist hamsters? Do they accept that they are simply predestined to be poked and that no action of their own can stop it, or is there such a thing as hamster free will that can break the chain? Can a hamster take the existential leap and take ownership of its own butt-poking? You raise some interesting issues here, and I suspect many seminaries will be finding this the beginning of a series of courses on hamster hermenuetics.

  54. Haha. ;oP I have no sympathy for a hamster that gets itself into such a predicament.

    I have always wondered if it was supposed to be “all right” or said unmentionable hybrid. I guess this answers my question. Nobody has ever been able to tell me which was the correct spelling or if they have different grammatical functions.

  55. John, if you win this one, I hope you’ll take up the cause of apostrophes. (Why? ‘Cause of apostrophe’s, of course.) (And also ’cause of auto-formatting errors.)

    Spare a hamster: eschew an apostrophe.

  56. Steve Buchheit @#73: A mammal generally wouldn’t have a cloaca–that’s the one-stop shop of the bird and reptile world. Mammals like to keep waste and recreation separate…until we get bored.

  57. Dear John,
    If you cut me in two and make two words out of me, do I not bleed?
    If you edit me, am I no longer alright?
    If you use whiteout on me, do I not die?
    And if you outlaw me, shall I not revenge?
    -Mr. Alright, Founder, Alright/Hamster Alliance
    P.S. Ace Ventura is looking into your allegations of hamster abuse. Alrighty then!

  58. All right!

    Anally Questing Digits has to be possibly the best rock band name EVAR! (I know evar isn’t a word but it’s a ‘net mem, alright?! Heh.) Picture yourself crying the word ever in a highly hysterical and possibly rabid manner–that’s where evar comes from. It works. Try it.

    And props to Bill @6 for coming up with the tragically hippest rock band name EVAR in the first place. OK, I’ll sit down now. You may be able to possibly tell that Sunday night is my night off, when the majority of y’all are preparing to apply your nose to the proverbially grindstone again tomorrow morning, I’m catching up on what’s going on on the Intertron.

    OK, sitting down now again.

  59. It has come to our attention that there have been malicious rumors gaining currency on this website concerning the proclivities of those of us in the Cricetidae family, specifically hamsters, to wit, that we are routinely “poked in the butt” by a human deity as a form of punishment by proxy for a common grammatical error made by humans. Where do these stories originate, and why must such rodentophobia persist in this enlightened age? We hope that the readers of this website are sufficiently intelligent to rise above such harmful, hateful stereotypes and learn to accept hamsters as loving, caring and productive members of society who simply happen to have cute fuzzy tummies and butts that certain unscrupulous humans like to poke. Thank you.

  60. We can neither confirm nor deny knowledge of the hamster in this photograph, nor where it got those fabulous shoes.

  61. I wonder what (ye olde) English teachers in the middle ages thought when they saw people using “already” and “altogether” instead of “all ready” and “all together”.

    And if authors like James Joyce wasn’t adverse to the anal violation of hamsters, gerbils, and another assorted rodent vermin, well maybe that makes it alright. :-)

    Also see:

    http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990604

    and

    http://www.bartleby.com/64/C003/023.html

  62. Mary Dell, about the cloaca, yeah, I knew that (my wife has advanced degrees in biology and some of that has rubbed off), but I liked the joke better (I’m stuck cracking twenty-year-old bathroom humor I guess). My bad. I didn’t mean to confuse anybody. PSA, most mammalia have an anus, hence a butt. Fish, avians and reptilia have cloaca.

  63. “That doesn’t make New England or Southern accents wrong.”

    What’s this about “accents” and “you can SAY” this that or the other? We’re talking about spelling. Alright and all right sound exactly the same, it’s just that the former is hideous and the other is proper. ;-)

    Why no, I DON’T have a longstanding grudge against the high-school teacher who marked me down two points for using the abominable single-word variation, why would you think that?

    (Can we get rid of “e-mails” next? Either that or I’m going to force people to start saying “I picked up my mails from the front lawn this morning.” Consistency, people!)

    And yeah, I don’t think that particular hamster there is a good enough motivation; he quite obviously welcomes poking.

  64. DANGIT — the teacher marked me down for NOT using “alright,” is what I’m trying to say here! Which… bleah.

  65. To eliminate the Word of Evil, you will have to destroy many pop recordings. The Velvet Underground’s “Rock And Roll,” for example.

    And a search on The Word in Allmusic reveals a ton of songs that have It in the title, with the winner being 553 songs named “It’s .”

    This may be an impossible task, Mr. Scalzi….

  66. Responding to the comments on my response in the other thread…

    The point that “all right” may mean 100% correct is tempting, but you’ve got to think about context as well. Can anyone think of a minimal pair situation, where the meaning of the sentence would be different if you used “all right” vs. “alright,” without rearranging the rest of the sentence?

    Oh…rats. I just thought of one.

  67. While I feel sorry for the poor hamsters, I’ll watch this crusade from the sidelines.

    However, if you were starting a crusade to stop the hideous conflation of ‘lose’ and ‘loose’ by all of those losers (or should that be loosers?) on the web, I’d be first in line. Which animal/bird/reptile/fish/plant does god abuse for this particular offense?

    Also, does this mean that extinctions could be due to the permanent fixation of particular vernacular usages into the language? The Guam Flycatcher flew no more after ‘cool’ moved from being a description of temperature to being a description of a person’s charisma – god poked all of the Flycatchers so many times that they expired. If so – Hallelujah! Habitat loss has nothing to do with extinctions! No more guilt about that, just guilt about our improper word usage….

  68. No doubt the dodo’s demise can be attributed to an excessive use of the phrase “Arr, matey!”

    Parrots escaped suffering by hanging out on the speakers’ shoulders. Which suggests a possible way to salvation for hamsters…

  69. FTW.

    I’m only surfacing from lurkdom because wanted to apologise for the “despicable prescriptivist” note, which I have retracted because it was … er … stupid. The knee, it jerked. I’m sorry, John.

    Upon calmer and caffeinated reflection, I don’t think you’re a prescriptivist. I think your condition is called “pet peeve”. I also have it.

    Anyway. Sorry.

    /de-lurk

  70. No worries, Suzanne. And thank you. I think “pet peeve” is pretty much where it lies, too.

  71. Let’s see – on the one side Joyce, Stein, Townsend, and most British writers of the last century; on the other Scalzi, most American high school “English” teachers (who, let’s face it, have never understood the need for, or the use of, adverbs generally)… oh, and apparently God.

    Sorry God; you’re on the wrong side on this one.

    And yes – I do have a pet peeve about people who hate adverbs!

  72. I wonder what horrors are unleashed upon poor, unsuspecting, innocent little furry things when people confuse hyphens for dashes? Something tragic and undoubtedly horrific. First hamster butt-pokings…

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