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How I Became An All-Caps Fetishist

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Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about parental controls, breakdancing, worst rooms to fart in, cheating, and more.

Happy early 4th of July, everybody! Your letters:


Any thoughts on all of the people who are stridently committed to using only lowercase letters? If it was ever cool, it can't be now that everyone has been doing it for like five years. Perhaps your famous commitment to ALL CAPS makes you a bit biased, or perhaps it makes you an expert on the subject.

I don’t know a ton of people online who use all lowercase letters all of the time, but I do know people who’ll do the e e cummings thing in tweets, DMs, or the like. That’s been part of the evolution of online vernacular. Nearly all writing on the internet is less formal than the writing you see in books and magazines, and the style reflects that. I’m talking with my fingers, so sometimes I have to fuck with the style to get the tone of my voice across, using cases, spacing, punctuation, and other cheap tricks.

Tom Scocca wrote a characteristically excellent post about this a decade ago(!!!) at Gawker, specifically about how the internet killed the question mark. I rarely use question marks when I text or post something to social media. Why Drew?, you might ask while using said question mark. Well, sometimes the question is rhetorical. Sometimes it’s a gag. Sometimes I don’t want EVERYONE to answer the fucking thing, because they’re either trolls, pedants, or bores. And sometimes the fact that I’m asking a question is obvious from the wording (“Is Paul George really gonna hold up for all of that contract”). I’m hardly alone. The rest of the internet does the same shit, and probably stole it from Black Twitter. Ironically, the few times I do use a question mark, it’s out of anger. “WHY THE FUCK DID THEY LET BIDEN GO ONSTAGE LIKE THAT???” That’s when a question mark takes on facets of an exclamation mark.

As for using all lowercase, sometimes I’m implying that I’m afraid, or underwhelmed, or unimpressed, or indifferent, or somehow all of those things at once. Any “is that bad” quote tweet, sans question mark of course, is a classic example of the latter. It’s retail irony, but it still gets your feelings across. I’m more curious about all of these unwritten style guide rules than I am angry about them.

In fact, I may have had an indirect hand in helping to shape those rules, specifically regarding all caps. My blogging career predates most social media, and I’ve used all caps the entire time. That’s a personal tic, but I don’t use all caps merely because formatting italics in HTML was too much work for me back in the late aughties. It’s because I was raised on stand-up comedy. Half my tape collection consisted of stand-up: Eddie Murphy, Andrew Dice Clay, Steven Wright, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison. Kinison, in particular. I worshipped that man. Memorized all of his sets. Read every article on him I could find. Genuinely loved the B-side of “Leader of the Banned,” which consisted of nothing but Kinison performing cover songs. I even gave my eighth-grade speech on him to the entire school. Kinison was the son of a preacher, did some preaching of his own, and then decided to become a filthy, coke-addled, womanizing stand-up instead. My kind of rebel. The fact that I now work with the very man, Dave McKenna, whom Kinison mercilessly heckled on tape on “Louder Than Hell,” still blows my mind. McKenna, to this day, hates Kinison for it. Tough shit, fucko!

Nearly all of Kinison’s material has aged poorly into this century, but his style hasn’t. There was no one like him back in the 1980s, and there still isn’t. Kinison could say any word, ANY word, in a fit of rage and bring the house down with it. So when you see me bust out the all caps on this website, that’s Kinison. And when someone else uses all caps online, that’s whose voice I hear. [knocks over chair] OH OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!


I have a two-year-old boy and a six-year-old boy. They are naked a lot. I estimate that between changing diapers, bathing, dressing, helping with going to the bathroom, and general nakedness that I have seen my six-year old’s dick 20,000 times. Not a huge deal until you realize that means my mom has seen my dick 20,000 times or more. I have been with my wife 15 years. Chances are my mom has seen my dick more than my wife. At what point does my wife overtake my mom in “dick views”?

Your wife has your mom beat, I promise you. I have three kids and saw them naked plenty when they were all in preschool or younger. But I wasn’t actively TRYING to see them naked. It was just the cost of doing business. Conversely, I have known my wife for 25 years now and still try to see her naked every chance I get. I’m never like, “Oh honey, cover up for goodness sake! I can see your bits!”

Also, you and I are both old enough to understand the marked differences between certain types of nudity. It’s an apples and melons situation if there ever was one. There was a time when I knew every inch of my kids’ bodies, head to toe. I knew every dimple, every faint booboo scar, every bellybutton. But that was back when it was my wife’s and my job to feed and clothe them. Then they hit a vaguely defined threshold—call it age 6—where they instinctively wanted privacy when they were naked, and were independent enough to do all of the basic shit that we once had to do for them. So I haven’t seen any of my kids undressed in years, which is how this is supposed to work. I know their bodies have changed in the interim, but I’m not gonna spend any time trying to figure out how. Ther junk is their problem now. I don’t have to wipe any more asses but my own.


I've been on the dating apps for years and, for reasons I don't fully understand, it feels like I match with a shocking number of vegetarians. I don't know if it's because I have "liberal" listed on my profile, but like a 30-40% rate is pretty shocking, especially since I don't look or dress remotely like one. Anyway, as a guy who lives with people who don't eat meat, how do you make it work domestically? Do you just accept that you'll only eat meat at restaurants and social functions? Do you make two versions of dishes at home? Order half-and-half pizzas? Has it ever been an issue or point of contention? It'd sadden me if I wasn't able to share some of my favorite recipes with my partner but I think it could be workable.

You’re getting matched with a lot of vegetarians because more people are openly vegetarian now, to the point where no one “looks like” a vegetarian because anyone can be one. That goes for me, too. From 1996 to 2010, I never ate beef or pork, and I was extremely self-conscious about it. Sometimes I’d get a look, or an incredulous, “You don’t eat red meat?” It wasn’t a great feeling. I felt like an imposition at best and a freak at worst.

That’s no longer the case. Maybe they still shame you for being a vegetarian if you live in West Texas. But in any major metro area, you’re gonna be welcomed with open arms. There are entire restaurants and grocery store aisles that exist just for you. You are normal, which is how it should be. This is probably why I didn’t really sweat it when my daughter turned vegetarian and my wife, for health reasons, essentially had to do likewise. Cooking around their needs is a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s not like I’m gonna disown them for it. We’ll cook separate meals, or my daughter will just pour the sauce over her rice without the meat. We make it work. You can, too. And I wouldn’t dismiss someone on a dating app if they also had dietary restrictions, especially if they’re really hot. I’m no fool.

Also, my daughter is only an occasional vegetarian. I said this a while back, but the definition of “vegetarian” has gotten looser over time. My wife and kid aspire to not eat meat, but they’ll still eat it if it looks awesome or they’re just plain hungry. And if they just want a salad, that means more ribs for Dad. I can’t lose, you see.


If Trump wins, which faction of voters will most rapidly regret failing to show up to vote for Biden? College students? Union workers? First-generation immigrants? Another nominee?

Would it really matter? I still think Trump will lose this fall, but I’m not naïve. Biden is weak, Democratic leaders are forever clueless, and the Supreme Court is hellbent on fucking every last one of us over. So I have to entertain the idea that Trump could pull it off yet again. If that happens, it’ll be a reboot of all the same “How could this have happened?” investigations and debates that happened in 2016, and I won’t bother to involve myself in any of them. I have zero interest in the why of Trump anymore, because there isn’t one. Let fossil-ass James Carville get into the details if he wants to, but I can’t spend another second carefully inspecting the inside of this electorate’s asshole. I’ll just fuck off to the Caribbean instead.


What is the worst room in a home for someone to fart in? The bedroom is an obvious choice due to Dutch oven potential, but I think the kitchen with the amount of traffic that goes through it would be the most destructive to your familial relationships.

The front hall. If I’m farting in the kitchen or the bedroom, I’m likely surrounded by people who have heard, and smelled, my farts many times over. People who have a long history with my anus. Lucky them.

But the front hall is another matter. It could be populated by visiting neighbors, playdates, deliverymen, distant relatives, or even the police. These are not people I want to fart around. In fact, they’re the kind of people I have to constantly remind myself to not fart around. Every time someone new visits my house, I think to myself, “These are outsiders. Do not fart around them.” And then one slips out anyway and I flee to the basement.



I've been seeing more and more high school and college students just wholesale cheating using AI-based programs, with schools just kinda shrugging and accepting it. Am I getting a bad read here? You can make the argument that bans won't work anyways, but it depresses me to think of an entire young generation growing up incapable of critical thought or learning skills. My wife and I don't have kids, so my own experience with school is decades old. 

You’ll have to defer to the commenters to get a better read on the situation out there, but I can tell you that cheating was everywhere during virtual school, especially early in the pandemic. Schools didn’t care because they were essentially helpless to stop it, and then in-person school came back and they could crack the whip again.

But there’ll always be ways to cheat, and there’ll always be kids who are eager to take advantage of it. So if Little Johnny wants to have AI write his term paper for him, he can. But he’ll end up being an unmotivated dumbfuck if he does. None of my own kids, as far as I can tell, want to be unmotivated dumbfucks. All three of them would rather be genuinely smart people, so they do the work because they know that’s the only way to get there. Plenty of their friends feel the same way.

Raising kids in the 21st century has taught me that all of my worries as a parent were essentially rooted in distrust. Every older generation irrationally fears what the latest technological advances will do to their little ones, and I’m no different. When my kids were small, I feared that they would be exposed, and then overtaken, by the worst parts of the internet and society. They’d stumble onto a phone and, in no time, become Nazi porn addicts. That’s why every ISP and wireless carrier touts parental controls, to assuage those fears.

I’ve used those controls. They did nothing but give everyone in the family a tech headache, and using them assumes that your kids will want to read and watch nothing but awful shit, and that you’ll have no hope to prevent it. That’s not only wrong, but lazy. It’s trusting the fucking Geek Squad to supervise your kid, rather than teaching them how to supervise themselves. I didn’t wanna look at shock porn when I was young, and I still don’t. It’s fucking gross. I didn’t need a family controls to teach me that, because I was raised by intelligent people who gifted me both their time and their wisdom. It’s the same reason I never cheated on final exams, or joined the Skinheads, or tried doing a speedball. I have a mind of my own, and so do most kids worth a shit.


Do you think it’s possible that society ever has a legit backlash to smartphones and personal screen devices, or are these things all here to stay forever now? I’d like to think these things eventually go the way of the snap bracelet, but that’s wishful thinking. Is it possible though, that it somehow becomes fashionable to restrict our own screen times (and especially that of our kids) and whittle it down to negligible use?

No. That toothpaste left the tube sometime around 2008. It’s already fashionable, in a sense, to embrace a more analog lifestyle, but that’s mostly yuppies posturing. The rest of us are glued to these fucking things and will stay that way. We’re not all suddenly gonna be like, “Hey! We should stop looking at our phones!” en masse, because that’s not how humanity rolls. If it did, we already would have collectively forsaken war, alcohol, fossil fuels, and pornography. We haven’t, because we love shiny objects that can kill us.

Hence, the only way to wean people off of phones now is to give them an even better smart product, one that will likely pull everyone even deeper down the rabbithole. Maybe it’ll be VR. Maybe it’ll be a floating AI assistant. Maybe it’ll be smart contacts. Regardless, all of this shit will move forward and not back. And I’d like it to move now, because I’ve been staring at my phone for 15 years now and it STILL hasn’t told me anything good.


What are your thoughts on campaigns to raise awareness? I think this is mostly a bullshit way for worried white folks to assuage their liberal guilt. It’s generic pablum. How does one calculate whether they have raised awareness on a specific issue sufficiently enough? Are there metrics for this? 

There ARE metrics for awareness. Every advertiser on the planet has the numbers and adheres to them with terrifying zeal, and it’s easy to understand why. If McDonald’s has a new crabcake sandwich coming out, they have to run ads making people aware of its existence. Then those people get hungry and what comes to mind when that happens? That's right: a fresh, delicious McCrab sandwich topped with Old Bay aioli. Mmmmm, delicious. Awareness campaigns are extremely effective for such things.

That translates to causes as well, although not cleanly. Every political candidate needs money to run ads, and nearly all of those ads are designed to boost voter awareness of that candidate and of their platform. And nonprofit awareness campaigns have a long history of changing societal attitudes toward things like tobacco companies, sexually transmitted diseases, littering, and seat belt use.

But it’s real easy to look at that track record of those campaigns and then assume that merely speaking out on an issue equates to taking action. And God, how I wish that were true. If it were, I’d have a Nobel Peace Prize already for all of the incredible tweets I’ve posted over the years. Instead, I have to actually get off my ass (ugh) if I want to change certain things and/or bury Sam Alito under the Pacific Ocean. Phones make it easy to trick yourself into believing that pointing at the bad thing will make everyone get rid of the bad thing. And yet, the bad things remain. This is because my individual ability to raise awareness for something is microscopic compared to a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign with the same mission. Sometimes grassroots movements can break through that clutter, but otherwise speaking out just isn’t enough.

Although the Vikings did finally let Kirk walk after I yelled at them for years to do so, so maybe there’s something there.


I work at an engineering firm as a contract administrator, currently reading a contract that is over 9,500 words. How many words a day does an average office worker read a day? I know that this depends on the job and such, but my guess is over 20,000 (which includes emails, memos, etc.). If you include reading other things like Twitter, FUNBAG, etc., I'd say it goes over 30,000! What are your thoughts?

I’ve had to pore through transcripts for work that run over 20,000 words, and it leaves me exhausted every time. I know that reading 20,000 words of one thing is different from reading 20,000 words from 100 different sources, but still. Reading takes energy, and I only have so much of it. Also, not every office worker is diligently reading amicus briefs. Some of them just sit there and play Snood for eight straight hours, like I did. So call it 14,000 words, including texts, Pornhub captions, bathroom stall etchings, and all other fine literature.


I manage social and communications for an airport, so I commonly read through travel blogs, travel magazines, etc., that show up in our timeline. Nearly every post mentions a popular destination and says it is having a, "moment.” Is "moment" just editor code that white Americans have decided it is safe/socially acceptable to travel there?

No, it means that flying there is cheap right now. Hence, the great Iceland boom of 2017. Also, if you’re reading about a trendy destination, that means it’s already been overrun. You have to get to Tulum before New York Times readership gets wind of it, otherwise it’s ruined.


When peeing at a urinal, is it more acceptable to stare directly at the tile wall a few inches from your face, or look down at your willy and its stream?  I'm a look-downer most of the time and hope I'm not a monster.

I do both. Sometimes I get bored of the wall and stare at my dick, and sometimes I get bored of my dick and stare at the wall. Sometimes I look at my phone, but that’s usually only if I have the pisser to myself. Every comic back in the '80s and '90s, Kinison likely included, used to make jokes about how you could get into trouble glancing at OTHER dicks along urinal row, but those fears were always jusssssssssst a bit overstated. It’s a public bathroom. Everyone in there just wants to leave, and everyone in there is fully aware they’re unzipping their pants next to a bunch of strangers. I’m not gonna start a fistfight if someone checks out my hairy dick for a magical half-second there. I got better things to do. Most other guys do as well.  


We’re about to leave for a twelve-day trip to Scotland. Pubs! Whisky! Trains! Indecipherable accents! I’m normally one to say, “I’m on vacation, this is ME time. Work can fuck off.” But being gone for so long has me concerned about the inbox chaos on my return. You recently enjoyed some international travel. Was this a concern for you? Or did you enjoy that sweet, sweet freedom from the shackles of your labor?

Isn’t this what turning on auto-replies is for? “I’ll be out of the office until August 1. If you require immediate assistance, please contact Farley Brooser at” That bot is legally binding. Once you set it up, you’re free! Right? No? Shit.

I check work stuff while I’m on vacation, but my job doesn’t really count because it’s fun. However, back when I worked in an office, I made it crystal clear to everyone that once I was on vacation, I wasn’t gonna do anything. If I was gone, I was gone. Because if a boss gets a reply from you while you’re overseas, they’ll sense an opening and treat your entire vacation like it’s on the clock. You have to set the expectations. That’s harder to do in the age of smartphones, but it’s not necessarily impossible.

Again, I refer you to the auto-reply. Whenever I get that bounceback, I feel like I just hit a wall. Well fuck a duck! Jenny is out until August! Who do I go to for an illustration of a squirrel fighting a chipmunk now?!

Email of the week!


Breakdancing was all the rage when I was a kid. My suburban Denver elementary school even offered a breakdancing club in the morning before classes. Kids donated cardboard boxes and, for a few weeks during the winter of ’84-‘85, the gym was filled with gawky grade-schoolers clumsily popping and locking. All the cool kids were breakin’, and I wanted to be breakin’ 2. The worm was beyond me, but I worked hard to master the classic backspin. I thought I had it down.

So one day I was walking home with a couple of girls from another class. It had snowed a few days before, but the sun was out and the snow cover was slowly melting. We arrived at my house and I figured now was the time to wow the ladies with my sweet back-spin. I picked a flat spot in my front yard, figuring that the snow there was shallow and firm enough to approximate the texture of well-worn cardboard. It wasn’t. The drag coefficient was too high, but I soldiered on, pumping my legs Curly Shuffle-style to make up for the unexpected friction. I probably did about five revolutions.

I stand up, winded from exertion but feeling pretty chuffed. I looked at the girls’ faces, eager to see the approbation I knew my impressive outdoor, post-blizzard breakdancing performance merited. Instead, I noted disgust and disdain. Then the smell hit me. Beneath the thin layer of melting snow cover lay a partially thawed dog turd. A big one. The creamy, yellow kind. Dog doo was smeared all over the back of my puffy winter coat. Adding insult to injury, it wasn’t from my dog, because my parents wouldn’t let me have one. Both girls stalked off, alternately gagging and laughing. My mom yelled at me for bringing the besmirched coat inside.

I never breakdanced again.


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