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After all, the cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopedia.--Umberto Eco

Note: I've been contributing to the Wikipedia with great enthusiasm for a year now, but it is time for a break. See you later and my best to everyone. Ortolan88 02:08 Mar 23, 2003 (UTC)

I'm pretty happy with my contributions to these entries, many started by others, some where I put a few lines that please me for some reason, some substantially original.

OUT of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again

On to the musical history of Macon, Georgia and West Memphis, Arkansas; more poetry, why lovely villages on plains are named Auburn; Whitehall, Michigan; Magoffin County, Kentucky, birthplace of Larry Flynt; Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Waltham, Massachusetts; Erick, Oklahoma, my prize catch so far; an entertaining enccounter with a GFDL absolutist (that is, troll, just as in the Hitler incident) in Talk:Oregon City, Oregon; Ferriday, Louisiana, three piano-playing fools from there; Florence, Alabama; Orange Park, Florida, where my father was born and his father went broke; Winslow, Arizona (guess what); Enterprise, Alabama and its boll weevil statue; Lithonia, Georgia, birthplace of Brenda Lee; Stone Mountain, Georgia, the next little town over, home of the as yet unarticled Stone Mountain[?]; Del Rio, Texas, home of XERF; Canton, Mississippi; Bogalusa, Louisiana; Zanesville, Ohio, hometown of Zane Grey;

I try to keep my entries concise, but I'm a sucker for an illuminating anecdote. I've added this and that to hundreds of articles, frequently etymologies or unexpected aspects. I lurk in Talk pages where I have no particular right to be and try to speak up for the hapless reader. I also started a crusade to add one-liners, dates, and such to entries on what I call "naked lists", those dreary endless lists of unidentified people, places, or things that infest the Wikipedia. See List of novelists, for example, where most one-liners are by other folks. I got the idea from List of battles. See Talk:List of famous operas for a brief manifesto. See Talk:List of novelists to gauge how hopeless this crusade is against Yeatsian "passionate intensity". Sometimes I lose a little enthusiasm for this crusade, but I keep doing it. List of famous cemeteries has been fun.

I enjoy adding a little bit to an entry and then taunting someone else into doing the job right with provocative summary comments. I also like fixing links and adding links and sticking summaries in near the top of entries. I did all that with Julius Caesar which other people have vastly improved. I also like the three paragraphs on tactics that I added to Coup d'etat. I only put a few words in Uncle Tom, but someone wrote it after I almost, but not quite flatly, wrote that Louis Armstrong was not one. On the other hand, I managed to torpedo an ugly prejudiced article on white trash and turn it into something like an encyclopedia article. Following this dismal theme, I wrote yid while rival sects clashed on the talk page, and also contributed earlier to nigger as well as to some stuff about the First amendment in Jehovah's Witnesses and term of disparagement. I've also worked on blackface where I introduced the concept of audio blackface to an astounded talk page audience of one.

I think copra is a good example of an encyclopedia article as opposed to a dictionary definition. Castanets too.

I'm a writer by birth, trade, and inclination. I have been writing for publication since 1957 and have earned my living by my pen since 1962. I started as a police reporter and political reporter and newspaper rewrite man in Chicago. See City News Bureau of Chicago and Chicago's American for tales of those absurd, brave days. Since then I have worked as magazine writer, an academic ghostwriter at Washington University and Harvard, and technical writer for DEC, Symbolics, Apple, and Atria Software.

As a technical jack-of-all-trades, I developed numerous schemes for online and printed documentation as well as helping design user interfaces and a couple of markup languages. I also managed groups of tech writers, software engineers, training developers, and sysadmins. I have also written rock and roll songs and advertisements and an unpublished novel about Richard Nixon. I started the Desperado mailing list in 1978, one of the oldest mailing lists on the Internet. There was an article (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/6.04/es_lists?pg=4) about it in Wired Magazine. I have just finished a book on language purism and English usage which I am flogging. I've been married more than 40 years and have two sons and three granddaughters.

Mail me: Tom Parmenter (mailto:tompar@world.std.com)

Post scriptum: After forgetting any number of boring AIM user names based on various pieces of my straight name and numerous three-digit numbers, I invented a nom de guerre that no one else would ever have. The ortolan is a bird the French eat whole with napkins over their heads to hold in the said-to-be wonderful aroma of the grease-gushing bird body, and 88 is in memory of Dr. John[?]'s boast after a particularly spectacular piano run, "dat's what dey call radiatin' on de eighty-eight".

Il ne faut jamais
faire les choses à moitié
Jacques Prevert, from a children's poem about a bird devoured whole by a cat.

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