(It's public because it's a message, okay?)

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why so many of our senior members are so pissed off by the new changes. This latest move in particular. It’s an enforcement of copyright, for goodness’ sake. It’s a move to legitimize Everything’s status, to make it more like a community and less like a robbers’ camp. It’s getting rid of things that never had any right to be here. Things that were STOLEN. Yes, they were stolen. When you copy lyrics without permission, you are stealing. I’m sorry if this offends a lot of people, but it’s true. All the justifications and whining about free information and enriching the database don’t change the fact that you are taking something that you are not entitled to.

Sure, it enriches the database. And if I steal your computer, it enriches me. How cool is that? Do all of the whiners about the beloved lyrics nodes also believe that property is theft, and that it’s all right for me and my gang to break into their houses and steal their computers, TVs, rocking chairs, kittens and refrigerator magnets? ‛Cos I’ve got this kickin eclectic theme going on in my living room, and I’d love to enrich it at their expense.

This is not the end of creativity, people. This is putting our ships in order. This is saying that if you really, really think the Holy Database needs to contain the lyrics to ‛Rain from Heaven’, you can do it - IF you take the time to contact Andrew Eldritch and ask him for permission to do so. (Don’t bother - he’s the kind of guy that will not only deny permission but probably join E2 and raid your nodes for future lyrics.)

I’m pretty sure most of us follow the “Cut and Paste writeups will die” philosophy. Why is it so hard for people to see that lyrics nodes are Cut and Paste writeups? Why do so many otherwise reasonable people think that if it rhymes, it’s okay to steal it? What kind of blinkers are you wearing, people?

Then there is the general trend of established users who don’t like the whole Braisin the Gar business. These claims have a little more validity, I think. I can certainly sympathize. There is a place for frivolity in Everything, I think. There is a place for wild experiments that don’t always work right, and there is a place for practical jokes as long as they don’t hurt people.

That doesn’t mean Everything has to be based on Animal House. Let’s face it, Animal House is a great place to visit, and they have the best parties on campus, but I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life there.

Think about that last phrase, please. Because this is a problem that’s been going on for a long time. Detractors of the “New Everything” are quick to point out that lots of users are now leaving, and fewer new users are signing up, because of the seriousness and high standards of the place. I would call your attention to another phenomenon: experienced users who left because they felt they had outgrown Everything, and casual browsers who never signed up because they felt the place was too wild/silly/eclectic/juvenile for them.

Yes, guys, you can outgrow Everything just like you outgrew Transformers. In terms of human lifespans, E2 hasn’t really been around long enough for much literal outgrowing to have happened. But how many of you know people who left or just plain stopped noding because they felt they had to “move on?” That right there is one of the classic ways of saying “I outgrew it. I discovered I needed something more serious. Something that can actually fulfill its potential instead of eternally looking forward to it.”

Everything has potential. Lots of it. But reaching your potential requires seriousness. No matter what you do, if you don’t take it seriously it isn’t going to happen. Whether you’re a writer, a rapper, a stand-up comedian or a gardener, you need to take your shit seriously or it will never be of any interest to anyone except you and your family. Comedians are a perfect example for my purpose, because they embody the silly and frivolous element that so many people seem to be so nostalgic for. So let’s talk comedians.

The kid in the back of the bus, firing spitballs and mimicking everybody else to make his buddies laugh - you know the kid - is he a comedian? Sure, he’s funny to a point, if you haven’t heard all his routines a million times already, but can he take the stage between Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld and carry an audience? Are any of his gags on the same level as Bill Cosby’s Celebrity Basketball routine, which I remember 25 years after I last heard it? Is he, in short, worth a damn?

I don’t think so. He’s all potential. He is Everything just before we started raising the bar. Robin Williams is what Everything could be. If we work at it. If we practice, and polish, and relentlessly toss out the gags that don’t work and the ones that are too blatantly stolen from Jerry Lewis. If we keep our eyes and ears open, and sit up late at night looking for the right words. If we take ourselves seriously. Yes, Robin Williams improvises all the time, but if you think he doesn’t work on his act you probably also think Lance Armstrong is just naturally a good bike rider.

We need to think about this. Because that kid on the bus has equal chances of becoming the future Robin Williams or just another middle-aged waiter in a kitschy Mexican restaurant - the kind of waiter, I might add, that always makes sarcastic remarks about the customers, and then goes home to wonder why he never gets as many tips as the other guys.

We are the kid on the bus. Where are we going?