Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is Poetry? I'll tell you for $47.80

"Write a paper, due next week, answering the question "What is Poetry?"

Suppose you're a college student  and the deadline's approaching and you don't have a clue on where to start.  You could go to the library but you don't have time, so you surf the net for information.  You google "What is Poetry" and it spits back answers such as:

"Poetry is many things to many people..."
"Poetry really has no one set definition..."
"Poetry, when it is really such, is truth; and fiction also, if it is good for anything, is truth: but they are different truths."[1]

Panic sets in.  All these different definitions, viewpoints, sources that have to be mined to provide examples!  You become desperate and look for an online term-paper mill to help you out.  These are sites from which you can buy an already-written term paper, "to use as reference material only."  Right.  There are a slew of them out there and they all contain that disclaimer:  "For reference only."

A lot of people associate the term "term-paper mill" with the word "plagiarism."  So the term-paper-mill people are quick to point out (completely missing the point) that the paper you are about to buy is "plagiarism-free"--i.e., it is an original text written by someone they hired to do so.  If you want to go ahead and hand it in to your professor and pretend it was written by you (i.e., plagiarize it), well, what you do with the content is your responsibility, they are not accountable.

Let's see what they have to offer on the topic of "What is Poetry?" Ah, here's one with that exact same title!

Term Paper #12688
4 pages.

This describes the essence and development of poetry. This paper presents considerations in regards to poetic themes, styles, and similar development that is present in this vastly diverse literary format. The writer stresses the concise nature of poetic structures and presents two poets, Emily Dickinson and Ogden Nash, as examples of individuals who both successfully display ‘poetic brevity.' Bibliography lists several sources."

Well okay then!  But will this particular paper meet your professor's expectations?  Not to worry.  Not only will the term-paper mill sell you a paper that's already been written, they will write one specifically for you. 

In case you did not find what you are looking for at our database, we can provide you with a custom term paper to perfectly suite [sic] your needs. Just send us your request and we'll write a new term paper for you. We are working with the best and most gifted writers on the internet. We can write any term paper, on almost any subject. Our gifted writers will provide you with premier quality paper.[sic]

As in, 100% cotton rag, 20 lb. white stock, suitable for copying.  Oh wait.  Were they talking about the content of the paper here?  It wasn't clear. (I can loan them an "a" if they want to insert it in there between the words "with" and "premier" so that it reads "Our gifted writers will provide you with a premier quality paper."  Will that help?)  Just so we're clear, this is not about paper stock.  

They guarantee "a plagiarism free test test", whatever that is. (It's a test test, right?  You know, when you have a test to test the test.)  Oh.

They charge $47.80 for four pages for an English-assignment paper, but only $20 for an 89-page paper under the category "Theses/Dissertations",  which is a kind of longer type of term paper:

Term Paper #898598954

Published in 2006,  for a Linguistics course, discusses “the Japanese technique which makes of gorgeous and relaxed trees shrank and depressed miniatures, all from a linguistic perspective.” (Come again?)

Soundness of the phonetic translation and a protest against the Japanese technique of Bonsai.

In this paper, we define the meaning of PHONETICS SOUNDNESS by similarity to the mathematical soundness. We wish to state that there is some sort of possible relationship in an abstract way once we have proven they are very different in scope and it is impossible to place what is complementary to the World of Maths in terms of Language inside of its scope in it.  However, soundness is a higher-order concept and, as such, belongs to the scope of Philosophy, which ultimately could be suitable to Language if it falls still inside of that territory in common between Philosophy and Language.  But the main point is really writing against the Japanese Bonsai technique and defending the main Bible's principle (in our opinion): do not do to other beings what you do not wish done to yourself!


BOM SAI could easily be a Brazilian Portuguese allurement to Bonsai, that is, phonetically sound in Portuguese. If phonetically soundness ever counts in translation, there it is a really good one. BOM SAI, in Portuguese, could easily mean `Good is gone', `Bom sai'. Interesting enough, it is the only Language of the World which seems to grasp the meaning of it. 

It is an actual truth that the Good is gone out of the plant once someone makes of it a Bonsai. With all respect of the World for the Japanese culture, this is definitely not a good thing for the plant.If we do devote any sort of respect to other beings at all as we should devote to our own species, bonsai is definitely something to be banned from human activities. Let's save the other beings any sort of extra unnecessary cruelty, please.

There is much to chew on here.  "Soundness" as a higher-order concept, in that strange, indescribable territory in the no-man's land between Philosophy and Language, where the Portuguese language "allures" to bonsai,  etc.  But seriously, this is what they call a "quality paper?!!"

Out of curiosity I checked another of their listed categories:  "Women Issues" [sic].  How many papers do they have in stock for women issues, I wonder?  The answer is 562.

I once knew a fellow, always short on cash, who wrote term papers for a fellow student.  He saw nothing wrong in this.  He knew the subject well; the other student didn't.  It helped the other student get good grades and graduate--which was all that was important to him. (The ironic thing was, both were students from another country; English was not their first language.)

Now imagine that student, graduated and out in the workplace, having been hired on the assumption that his diploma meant something. Sometimes, apparently, it does--and sometimes, it doesn't.  How many people bluff their way through life, pretending to be who they aren't.  And get away with it.

Curious to see what other of these term-paper-writing-mills were offering, I checked out one which offers "a term paper completey [sic] Plagiarism free - Custom written for every customer."

"Completey"?   Gee, you'd think they'd use a spellcheck on their main page at least!   This group will give you "thesis and dissertations with a complete pease [sic] of mind and money back guarantee"  and they offer  unlimited revisions--"until you aren't [sic] satisfied with your term papers."  (I think you mean "are" here, no?)  They encourage you to "avail our services", "insuring optimum utility of your money", and claim to be Trust worty [sic].  I wonder if they can afford avail a proofreader for their web page.  Nah.  No one'll notice.

So many paper mills, all so eager to offer their services.  Here's one that provides a sample of a history paper they can sell you, under the topic "A Nation is Born", which cites a Hollywood actor as one of its literary sources:

At the beginning of the 19th century, the United States was looking for it’s [sic] own identity now that they had their own nation.  People started to move westward, causing the removal of Indians from their lands. ( Sources cited:  “A People’s History, Howard Zinn, Chapter 7 and Coster, Kevin, Producer and Host, 500 Nations video"). [2]
Kevin Coster--oh yeah, wasn't he the actor in that movie "Dances with Wolves"?  I thought he spelled his name Costner, though--Coster with an "n" in it.   I googled it just in case, and sure enough, they're talking about the same guy.  But hold on--a couple Google items down on the same page--whaddya know, there's that exact same history paper, word for word, on another site's term-paper mill posting.  (Does the same person own both sites?  Or are these "plagiarism-free" essays being recycled among multiple marketers?  Inquiring minds want to know.)

Another term-paper mill offers a  13-page paper on Wallace Stevens' poetry for a mere $97.95, and for those in a real crunch, yet another offers to write you an essay in 8 hours, at $31.57 per page.

Enter  the Fram Squad Detectors  (random people who spend countless hours unearthing scams and fraud on the Internet).  They check the business phone number on Reverse Lookup and come up with "No information.  This is an unlisted, private number."  One diligent fram-squadder claimed to have found proof of connections among three different term-paper mill sites all linked back to a fellow from Karachi, Pakistan. A few trips into Google and I came upon similar information.  How prevalent is this practice?  There was mention in one of the online forums of a Ukrainian fraudster who owned 185 internet domains! 

Tracking down just who these people are, however, is not easy.  Dilligent fram-squadders can ID a suspected site's IP to get the domain's owner's listed address (and phone), only to discover it's also being used by dozens of other small web-hosted businesses, who pay to be listed under a fake address and phone just to ward off unwanted spam (or anyone wanting to know who they really are.)  This is a boon for scam artists, as they hide behind the same fake address as legitimate businesses do.

How can you tell if a paper that's been handed in has come from a term-paper mill?  Professors can check with Turnitin ("Turn it in").  

They  have the ability to crawl and archive over 12 billion web pages, 100 million student papers, 80,000 major newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals, as well as thousands of books, including literary classics, to give you a side-by-side comparison. Students can also check their own original papers, for instances of "accidental" plagiarism.  (And they can go to a site where they can get tips on prevention of plagiarism, as well.)

Anyway, that was my fun trip for the day, so to speak--checking out the "quality writing" from various term-paper mills.  (I neglected to mention that these people not only sell ready-made essays and term papers, they also actively solicit writers to produce new ones.  (ad on one site:  "I made $600 this month writing term-papers!")

Back to our original question:  "What is Poetry?"  To quote one of the term paper samples above, it's a "diverse literary format."   Poetry is a format.  In the style of "It's a bird!  It's a plane! It's ... it's ....  SUPERMAN!!", I give you my two original--only marginally plagiarized--poems for the day:

Poetry is truth!
Poetry is fiction!
It's ... it's ... a FORMAT!!!

In the World of Maths,
immune to its different-scoped

bonsai allurement,
Emily and Ogden, 

in  biblical karmic peasefullness
exchange brief moments of soundness.

(That'll be $2.35 cents, please. We accept PayPal.)

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