Intellectual Disgrace

February 23, 2001

This is true: An anonymous group in Australia calling itself "Young People Against Poetry" is waging a war against, among other things, having to read 300-year old books. Presumably they’re including books like Newton’s "Principia", which has mathematical models still used by the space program, but, hey, if we’re going to toss out some old stuff, why not throw it all out, right?

Among other "actions" staged by the group, one of the most interesting was an airplane flying a banner over Brisbane with the slogan, "Poetry wrecks lives!" Poetry wrecks lives? Well, in 1955 when poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were arrested on obscenity charges, the trial generated enough publicity to make them rich and famous. And we all know how much being rich and famous can ruin a person’s life. (On an interesting historical side note, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti were only able to escape prosecution by invoking an obscure legal technicality called "The First Amendment", which has some sort of freedom of speech clause. Their case was also moved along speedily because Ginsberg insisted on coming to court naked.)

In fact, a lot of poets have trouble with being rich and famous. More specifically, their trouble is not being rich and famous. So why poetry? In the United States the number of crack cocaine users is probably higher than the number of people who regularly read poetry, which raises serious questions about the efficacy of both National Poetry Month and "Just say no to drugs" programs. (Drugs and poetry, by the way, do have a long history together. Very recently a police sting operation in a private home in England was extremely successful, despite the fact that the home’s resident, Samuel Coleridge, has been dead for 167 years.)

In Australia, where crocodile wrestling is a national pasttime and airplane banners serve to distract people from surfers being eaten by sharks, the number of poetry readers is probably much lower. I have a feeling it’s part of a conspiracy to get people to read poetry. Some poets talk about poetry as though it could solve world hunger, bring peace, save the rainforests, and prevent Mad Cow Disease. Despite this, very few people, especially young people, seem inclined to read it. Meanwhile, drugs, which we’re told repeatedly are bad for us, continue to be popular. When’s the last time you heard about kids being busted at a rave club for passing around copies of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"? How often does someone get admitted to the hospital having overdosed on dactyls after a heavy night of Emily Dickinson? These Young People Against Poetry probably want this to happen, figuring that if they make poetry sound bad enough, people will throw away their syringes and head for the streets to score a few quatrains or some tercets. Either they’re very clever, or they’re all on drugs.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

(Poetry is bad for you? Get a load of this–apparently water is good for you. Who would have guessed it? –CW)

We all know that water is important but I’ve never seen it written down like this before.

75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half world pop.)

In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.

One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a U-Washington study.

Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. (Work follows closely behind.)

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Are you drinking the amount of water you should every day?


No wonder Coke tastes soooo good:

  1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

  2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

  3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and …….Let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.

  4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a crumpled-up piece of aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

  5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

  6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

  7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, Remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy. (You can then use the foil to clean the chrome on your car.)

  8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, And run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.


  1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its Ph is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

  2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.

  3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!

Still Want To Drink Up?

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