Laura K. Krishna Is Finally Going to the Library

It’s been just over six months since we began reporting on what became the Laura K. Krishna Saga, and we’re happy to say it’s been pretty calm for about 4 of those months. I dare say that things have finally normalized to a level where we’re getting more recognition for our shows than for our website, which is how we like it.

But I did promise back then that I’d report on any Krishna-related news if it was brought to my attention. So here’s something I got in my e-mail that should serve as a little appendix. A writer named Dougie Child has seen fit to mention me in passing in a nonfction book she just released, entitled Product Versus Process: The Term Paper Industry and the New Face of Cheating in American Education. It looks like a really interesting book, based on some parts she let me read, and I recommend you check it out.

Here’s the bit I’m in, from the neighborhood of page 50 of the book:*

Others taking the high road are far more good-natured in their efforts. If there is any question why students would rather pay the premium and get their papers through a company as opposed to hiring the Average Joe off the Internet, Nate Kushner’s story is a good example. Kushner, a comedy writer, keeps a web log (blog) called A Week of Kindness. A student saw an old Internet profile of Kushner’s in which he described himself as “eating Hindu sculpture.” Apparently, devouring religious artwork is enough by way of credentials for some students seeking to hire term paper writers, and this undergraduate student contacted him and asked him to write her a five-page paper for the tidy sum of seventy-five dollars. On a whim, Kushner threw together a fast essay consisting mainly of passages taken from online web sources and made-up words (the paper includes choice lines such as “Your actions in each lifetime affect your karma, and if a Shudra watches dharma and greg [Sic], it will have a positive effect on his karma”), used an online search engine to find the name of the student, and recorded the entire process in his blog. As a finishing touch, he implied that he would email the link of his blog entry to the president of the student’s school. Several prominent news and opinion web sites picked up on the story and Kushner’s experiment with the psyche of a plagiarist quickly became a touchstone for a debate over academic dishonesty. Kushner, unlike Parkinson, did not intend to bring the wrath of academia or the Internet down on the plagiarist’s head: all he wanted was for the plagiarist to learn a lesson and he was astonished at the wide-ranging positive and negative responses to his impromptu social experiment.

Anyway, check out that book. I’ll totally sign it for you if you bring one to any of the performances of Barnyard Jamboree!

*And here’s the citation for that excerpt, cause I like things to be cited.

Child, Dougie. Product Versus Process: The Term Paper Industry and the New Face of Cheating in American Education. Bangor, Maine, 2005.

Posted by Nate Kushner at 07:21 PM | Comments (2)

April 01, 2005

Laura K. Krishna Has Some Errata In Her Story

Well, people, here it is…the update many of you have been longing for.

A lot of people were expecting a reveal of some hoax on April 1st, so let’s come clean. I was not entirely truthful in my story. I know my lies were legion, but I’ve catalogued them all here, so we can get on the path to real healing.

The Things I Lied About This Week

I do not have laser eyes, and I should never have pretended I did. Our webmaster Chris Coleman was the one who actually laser-eyed all those baby ducks. Shame on me for taking the credit.

I want to apologize to Ernie Hudson for Wednesday’s entry, where I claimed to have beaten him in racquetball. He whooped me fair and square. I’ll get you next time, though, buddy. Are we still on for Sunday morning?

Bruce Springsteen isn’t dead. That’s Paul McCartney. Ringo, you can start calling yourself “The Beatle” now.

Laura never said that the Holocaust didn’t happen, and I shouldn’t have claimed she did. “Robert Frost dinner napkins” is what she said. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.

He is risen after all. Whoops!

The Great Northern War spanned from 1700-1721, and it was not on Tuesday like I thought. My apologies to any Swedes, Poles, Danes, or Russians who may have read this blog and massacred each other. If Charles XII is reading this out there in the Ottoman Empire, it’s safe to go home now.

Also, huge apologies to the real Laura K. Krishna. I didn’t know there was one when I chose that pseudonym. She was also a plagiarist, so no harm. Who’d have thought I’d catch two? Seriously, though, you have to stop calling Indian Community College. Everybody knows.

Alright, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Posted by Nate Kushner at 12:00 AM | Comments (126) | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

Laura K. Krishna open thread: Third time’s a charm

If you guys want to keep talking about it, I’m more than happy to keep giving you new open threads. For what it’s worth, there will probably be more actual content on everything sometime today. For now, keep those comments trickling in.

Posted by Chris Coleman at 06:39 AM | Comments (221) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Laura K. Krishna open thread version 2.0

That last post hit 200 comments in about six hours. Keep the wild conspiracy theories flying in this one. Also, don’t call Laura or her school, OK?

Posted by Chris Coleman at 05:19 PM | Comments (211) | TrackBack

Laura K. Krishna is Just a Dumb Kid With a Nice Mom

Alright, here’s how it ends, people. Brace yourselves for disappointment, because you’re going to find out where I failed to show you blood when you wanted it.

Also, let’s reiterate. Nobody call Laura or her school anymore. Everybody knows now.

Alright, this ends kind of how I figured it would, with me finding out everything I thought I would find out. I do want this to be over. Holy goddamn.

I had sent her an e-mail with a response to the original link, but she got to me on IM.

Let me correct the lie I said I was going to correct: It’s the one where I turned her in. I never did.

I had thought I could make her sweat (as had been my plan practically since the paper solicitation fell into my lap) by sending her the link to the original story sometime on Wednesday, after she’d handed the paper in. I expected to be able to find out on Wednesday whether the paper had been turned in, and wait until at least then to make a call about snitching or not snitching.

But the internet is full of beautiful freaks (I do love you so.), and the popularity of this blog came completely unexpectedly, meaning my little feint regarding turning her in was being taken as fact by way more people than I could contact. (To the cynics: Let’s be straight, the show we’re plugging is one in which we’re doing less than 15 minutes on a bill with about 10 other groups that nobody’s getting paid for. It will be a good show, and these groups are good, but you know, not such a big deal that I’d throw my integrity on the line frivolously. We have a show in May where we’re the headliner, but I’m not giving out the date quite yet, just to prove a point about something or other.)

So it became Monday, and instead of finishing off my nice prank I was going to share with two or three dozen real-life friends, I was faced with all of you people looking for blood. I didn’t want blood. What I wanted was irony. Perhaps to facilitate the founding of a scholarship at her school, or get her to donate Hinduism books to the library, or even just to get her to actually write the damn paper. But it was all happening way too fast, and I knew at that point that the site would come around to her way faster than my timeline had projected.

So the e-mail revealing the link went out Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning, while I still thought there was a slim chance of warning her. Hours later, she found me on im. There was lots I wanted to ask her, and lots I wanted to shame her about. At this point, I figured that the internet had punished her, and she’s already an example even if she doesn’t get expelled.

But I wanted to know a few things. Like whether she had been lying when she said she wasn’t Laura Krishna:

Laura K. Krishna: why are u doing this
Nate: Eh, seemed fun.
Laura K. Krishna: let me call u we can talk please i promise just give me ur number
Laura K. Krishna: please Nate : you shouldn’t be concerned, though, if you’re not Laura K. Krishna.
Laura K. Krishna: please sir
Laura K. Krishna: anything u want
Nate: are you laura K. Krishna, then?
Laura K. Krishna: i will do anything to straighten this out and i will never mention ur name we’ll drop it completley

Ok, mystery #1 solved. Mystery #2 is whether she handed in the paper. I was hoping for a no, because in my heart I wanted to report that to the blog. I would have considered it a mitigating factor in her favor that she at least read the paper and rejected it:

Laura K. Krishna: why is my dean calling me
Nate: did you turn in the paper?
Laura K. Krishna: please give me ur number so i can call u
Nate: I’d rather talk about it here.
Nate: did you turn in that paper?
Laura K. Krishna: listen jsut tell me what u want from me
Laura K. Krishna: anything
Nate: I want you to answer my questions truthfully.
Laura K. Krishna: what question
Nate: number 1, did you turn in that paper?
Laura K. Krishna: are you asking me to throw my education, I will be
Laura K. Krishna: expelled, please put an and to this. i can help you in
Nate: I am asking you to answer the questions that will help me help you.
Laura K. Krishna: anyway
Laura K. Krishna: yes i did
Nate: did you change it at all?
Laura K. Krishna: no
Nate: so you turned in a paper that had sentences like “I made a doody” in it?
Laura K. Krishna: i guess so please help me out here i made a very big mistake that could affect the rest of my life.

Oi. I think maybe about here is where I got a twinge, and I started to think about how I could help her out.

Laura K. Krishna: please
Nate: has your dean read the website?
Laura K. Krishna: yes
Nate: give me his e-mail address.
Laura K. Krishna: whose and y
Nate: I don’t know it, because honest truth, I never ever turned you in.
Nate: the dean’s.
Nate : I’m going to ask him with all my heart to help you out, and that’s a fact.
Nate: I’ll tell him exactly what I think, which is that you were just a dumb kid who did a dumb thing.

I meant that. Absolutely. This is a dumb, scared kid right now, and yes, I would help her in any way possible that didn’t involve lying to the dean. I fear, though, that there was never any way of helping her without lying to the dean, but i really wanted and needed to make the offer. Because what I was also finding out was that at least one someone had contacted him, and it definitely wasn’t me. That was mortifying to me, and not what I wanted, ever. It’s why I never posted an e-mail address or a telephone number, even though I had them (not her university address–I never even looked for it) and it’s why we’d been trying to keep a watch on the comments all day.

She wanted to get off of IM. Smartest idea she’s expressed since this whole mess started. As you can see, I tried to keep the conversation online so I could post it.

Laura K. Krishna: why can we please talk on the phone i can handle the whole situation if u and i can take care of this between u and i right now and then the rest with the univeristy i can handle
Nate: what can’t you tell me over im?
Laura K. Krishna: i’ll give u my number u call me
Nate: seriously, don’t beg me for anything.
Nate: how about you do what I ask you, and let me give you some generous help in the way that I want?
Nate: how do I write your dean?
Laura K. Krishna: i don’t need u to write the dean i have already talked with the dean. can we please talk on the phone and i can explain things better. i want to do whatever u need right now please can i call u
Nate: type for now. My free minutes haven’t started yet.
Laura K. Krishna: now can i call u
Nate: what’s your phone number?
Nate: I’ll call you.
Laura K. Krishna: (XXX-XXX-XXX) what time will you call me?
Laura K. Krishna: ?
Nate: I’ll call you right now.
Laura K. Krishna: fine
Laura K. Krishna: ok call

I called. Collect. Obviously what happens next will be doubted by some. I’ll try to describe it, and all I can do is promise that it’s real.

She picks up, and she’s glad to talk to me. Without pretending to remember her actual words, I will say that she:

  1. Acknowledged that she had put me in a strange position.
  2. Acknowledged that she understood why I was offended.
  3. Swore that she never did this before in her life.
  4. Swore that she sure as hell won’t do this again.
  5. Politely endured my spiel about my father and late grandfather, and etc.
  6. Asked what she needed to do to get this fixed.
  7. Declined again my offer to contact her dean.
  8. Cried.
  9. Told me what she needed from me.
  10. Freaked out about the dozens of calls that have been coming to her school and her house.
  11. Admitted wrongdoing. (Yes, that’s a relief to me.)

Basically, she wanted to have her last name taken off of the site, as well as any references to her college, and she wanted to have me make an announcement to stop the harassment. I told her the truth, which is:

  • Yes, fine, last name comes off the site, even though everybody knows it now anyway.
  • Absolutely, I will enthusiastically put out the order to stop calling.
  • There’s nothing anybody can do to get your name off of the entirety of the internet. (I repeated this about three times to make sure she understood the limits of what I could promise.)
  • No, I will not publish a retraction, but nice try.
  • Are you sure I can’t contact the dean?

At this point, she revealed that she had not confessed to the dean on the phone, but had said to him something along the lines of “Oh, I must get to the bottom of this.” Me calling the dean would ruin everything. Ah, I thought…she had not thrown herself on the dean’s mercy, so she sure wasn’t going to let me. I do think a confession might have helped her out in this instance, and at the very least, my two cents wouldn’t have hurt her.

And nothing would have stopped me from turning her in right then, except one thing…her mom turned out to be a nice lady.

I basically had the same conversation with her that I had with Laura. She also swore to Laura’s diligence as a student, and knew that I was not lying about the plagiarism. She asked whether this was for money or personal reasons, and I told her what I told you blog people, which is that I was legitimately offended on behalf of all the people I know who take their education seriously. Whatever I said, I’m embarrassed to say that I probably used the phrase “scourge of academia.” She expressed her dismay over the thousands of dollars this was costing her every semester for her daughter, and I agreed that that was a shame.

Argh, wrongdoers have mothers, apparently.

I explained another three times that I couldn’t erase her from the whole internet, and that everybody knows.

I explained what A Week of Kindness was, and subsequently had to explain what sketch comedy was, and why a sketch comedy site was running a journal anyway. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t quite get it.

And I expressed my sincerest wishes that this turns out well, and my promise to do what I said I’d do to the site, even though it’s a long slow job, and might take two or three days.

They refused all the other help I’d offered them.

And I said good night to both of them.

From the moment she told me she hadn’t confessed straight away, I knew she was going to get the worst the dean could throw at her, because if the dean had seen the website like she said he had, the whole faculty will doubtlessly be on the lookout for a paper matching the one on the website.

So what I’m going to apologize for is the fact that I couldn’t convince her to tell the truth the time when it mattered, when it might have meant the difference between failing the course and expulsion. I failed there. And I will probably be sorry about that for a long time.

Bottom line: I had the right person, without a doubt, and she’s caught. No more or less caught than she would be right now if all I had done was write her a paper. No more or less caught than she would be if this page hadn’t been a phenomenon, and she’s no more or less caught than she would be if none of you had called her home.

But at least she maybe got one good night of sleep before the storm. I don’t expect to hear from Laura K. Krishna again after this, and I won’t seek her out. Just the same, I expect that whatever happens will get back to me. I’ll post whatever I hear, just know that I won’t be looking aggressively for it.

And don’t plagiarise, kids, because I think some of these hardcore blogreaders will get you even harder than I did.

Mike, Erica, Dan, Allysha, Devin, Chris, anyone–can someone post a goddamn album review or something for these people not to read?

Posted by Nate Kushner at 10:56 AM | Comments (211)

March 29, 2005

This saga is over.

First of all, everybody, this is a cease and desist order to stop calling Laura, and stop calling her university. Everybody knows now.

Hell, I would have liked to have milked this thing for a while longer. Such sweet traffic, it’s a shame that the end had to come so soon after the middle. And I wish this thing had fallen into our laps with better timing, so maybe we could have had a more earthshakingly wonderful sketch ready. (We know.)

First of all, everybody, this is a cease and desist order to stop calling Laura, and stop calling her university. Everybody knows now.

Hell, I would have liked to have milked this thing for a while longer. Such sweet traffic, it’s a shame that the end had to come so soon after the middle. And I wish this thing had fallen into our laps with better timing, so maybe we could have had a more earthshakingly wonderful sketch ready. (We know.)

But it has ended in a rather bittersweet way. Lots of tears, lots of phones, lots of moms. Suffice to say, almost everything I suspected about Laura proved to be absolutely correct.

The ending was not entirely satisfying in my mind, though. It seems rather like the kind of compromise that might be made if you showed our story to a focus group. If I was making this up, I would have made it up better.

But I have made it my business not to make shit up in this particular matter. You’ll get the story as it happened.

Now is not the time to tell it though, because this ending has tired me out. It’ll come in the morning or early afternoon. I think it’s a sleeping-in day tomorrow.

You may notice that the name of our victim has transformed on this site, and the name of the unfortunate university. You’ll see why tomorrow. It’s just something we had to agree to, and everyone knows her last name and the name of her school anyway, right? It’s not like it’s vanishing from the internet soon.

Posted by Nate Kushner at 09:06 PM | Comments (105)

Laura K. Krishna is a Ghost.

God, I honestly had no idea this would become an internet-wide thing. My imagination had told me that this could be a funny story kept between me, her school, and a couple dozen friends of mine who visit this site. Maybe we’d get a couple extra people out to our sketch shows. But it’s done, we’re here, and you can’t go home again. Time to share the new developments, and some old ones I may have neglected to tell you.

Here is a little list of things you should know about me, and about this situation, which haven’t been covered before.

1. I have too many college professors in my family to let this offense go unrecognized. Plagiarism hurts the livelihoods of my father, my grandmother, and also my cousin and brother who are currently studying education, and finally, the memory of my late grandfather. All this as well as diluting my own English degree, and the degrees of my friends who studied things other than theatre. (Sorry Erica and Dan, you’re pretty diluted already.)

2. Blackmail was never really an option, but I had a good laugh thinking about it. I thought I had made it clear that I didn’t want the money as much as I wanted the consequence to be poetic. I think I was trying to express that I knew blackmail was an option, but I didn’t think it was an option for me.

3. I believe I gave her an excessively fair number of chances to back out. And indeed, for all I know, she has done the right thing as far as not handing in that paper. I’ll be the first to congratulate her in that case.

4. Given the evidence I have, a reasonable person would assume that the person I was talking to was named Laura K. Krishna. If I have wronged someone innocent named Laura K. Krishna, I am just terribly mortified and sorry, and you can count on me to make whatever testimony is needed to fuck over the person who stole your identity. Those are the possibilities as I can see it. The person who did this plagiarism was either Laura K. Krishna, or did a good job of pretending she was Laura K. Krishna, and those are the only two possibilities that fit the facts, as far as I can see.

5. Let me present my case for knowing what the name was of the person I was talking to:

I knew her name was Laura K. Krishna before she sent the check pictures. How? Because when I first sent her a PayPal money request, she set her account up with the name Laura K. Krishna. Observe:

[Image removed]

The check pictures were just a corroborating source for what I knew already. It’s also where I got the middle initial K.

$75.00Pay to the order of Nate Kushner

[Image Removed]

If someone other than Laura K. Krishna is using someone else’s name and check to do this transaction, she is involved in fraud on a much more serious level than my dumb prank.

6. That being said, I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that I’m not actually going to get a check. I talked to her last night, so this transcript is all from after I made that first entry. First, a quick e-mail exchange. We start with a polite inquiry as to the status of the check

Me: The check is in the mail, I hope?
Her: what
Me: The $75 for the paper I wrote for you.
Her: what
Me: Are you Laura K. Krishna?
Her: my name is laura but thats not my last name

Then, the following is on instant message. I promise you that this went to the exact same screen name I was corresponding with on Saturday, and at that point, the blog was not quite big yet. This one has timestamps, since it was done on AIM instead of AOL:

Me (11:06:18 PM): so you have no idea who laura k. krishna is?
Me (11:08:49 PM): hello?
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:09:27 PM): i’m laura put whose laura k. krishna
Me (11:09:59 PM): oh, I got an im from this screen name the other day.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:10:13 PM): where did u get krishna from
Me (11:10:25 PM): from someone who wanted me to write a college paper for her.
Me (11:10:55 PM): it was on an image she sent me of the check she was writing for my services.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:11:36 PM): thats weird
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:12:08 PM): is there anything i can do for u
Me (11:12:56 PM): well, if you don’t believe me, take a look at the outgoing messages on your account.
Me (11:13:04 PM): we corresponded by e-mail too.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:13:21 PM): this isnt my screename its my sisters so i’m never on it she usually is though
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:13:44 PM): theres nothing in my mail box except todays mail
Me (11:14:00 PM): check “old messages”
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:14:17 PM): empty
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:14:39 PM): sry i don’t know what to tell u
Me (11:14:46 PM): that’s strange.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:14:57 PM): what
Me (11:15:30 PM): oh, the whole thing.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:15:33 PM): sorry no one in this house has been in college for a long time
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:15:57 PM): i graduated from college about 15 years ago
Me (11:16:31 PM): well, I’d look into seeing who was using your account on saturday night.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:16:48 PM): like i said its not my account its my sisters

Ok, I was willing to believe at that point that someone had done something screwy on someone else’s account to cover their tracks. But I didn’t believe in her refusal to get concerned.

Me (11:16:59 PM): fair enough.
Me (11:17:05 PM): alright, thanks for your time.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:17:06 PM): did u talk to someone on this sn saturday night
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:17:12 PM): ok
Me (11:17:13 PM): yeah, I did.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:17:34 PM): that is strange
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:18:05 PM): why did u need to talk to this person again
Me (11:18:20 PM): to see if she was actually paying me.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:19:02 PM): well…sincei have no idea who u are i’m certainly not paying u this could all be a scam for all i know
Me (11:19:21 PM): well, I’m the one who’s been scammed.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:19:34 PM): sorry i dont throw money out the window and sincei have no idea what ur talking about i’m not going to pay u. how did u get scammed
Me (11:19:56 PM): no, I don’t expect you to.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:20:13 PM): can i ask how old u are
Me (11:20:25 PM): I’m 24.
Me (11:20:37 PM): just trying to follow up on a conversation I had last night.
Me (11:20:55 PM): and if it’s not you, I’ll stop bothering you.
Me (11:21:30 PM): you obviously write at a literate level, unlike whoever I was talking to the other night.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I said that, because looking over it again, it’s not true.

Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:22:18 PM): well the best advice i can give to u is that sometimes u just can’t be too nice. so u got scammed once theres not much u can do about it i guess sicne i don’t have any answers for you the best thing to do is to probably let it go
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:22:50 PM): because my sister is usually the one on the screenname and she doesn’t liek to be bothered when shes working so a little piece of advice don’t im her

A normal person would have expressed concern about the hacking of her account. And the warning not to IM her sister…it’s fishy. But no worries. I don’t think I need to contact her anymore.

Me (11:23:44 PM): spoken like a true laura k. krishna.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:24:00 PM): what
Me (11:24:46 PM): nothing.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:24:50 PM): Ok ya know what I was trying to be nice to u and help you now your just being rude.
Me (11:25:54 PM): alright, I’m out of here.
Me (11:28:00 PM): If you’re not Laura K. Krishna, I’m seriously sorry if I bothered you, but I don’t quite believe you, and that’s all I’ll say.
Me (11:28:03 PM): good night.

So, I don’t have the proof that I IMed with her last night. But I also don’t think there was sufficient proof that it wasn’t her, especially considering that all this correspondence was with the exact same screen name. And I do now know that my hopes for getting that $75 are slim to none. That check was the thing that might have kept me obligated to keep mum, but she blew me off without even knowing anything about the blog.

7. I will not be opening myself to prosecution by cashing a check. I haven’t gotten it, and I don’t think I will, but I want the check more than I want the money at this point. I have some poetic aspirations for her $75, but not unless I see it in cash or paypal. If I get a tangible check, it’s on my wall.

8. I want to apologize for trying to advertise our shows in comments. It seemed like a good idea. Really, it did. And I don’t blame the cynics who took that as proof that the whole story was made up. I promise, the story wouldn’t have been so damn long, and it would have had more jokes in it if I was making it up on purpose. That said, come to our shows. We’re debuting new stuff next week, and the groups we’re in that show with are some funny damn people.

9. There is one single piece of information in that first blog entry that I have falsified that will make a lot of people smile when I set it right in a day or two or three. It will help this story maintain a tight three-act structure. This untruth is not about Laura K. Krishna, but about me. All I’ll say is that you’ll understand why I did it.

10. I have sent an email to this address with a link to the site saying “If you are not Laura K. Krishna, this should not bother you.”

Bless you all.

Posted by Nate Kushner at 06:45 PM | Comments (36)

Laura Krishna Open Thread

Gah, that page got huge. Let’s continue the discussion of the Laura K. Krishna thing

Posted by Nate Kushner at 03:09 PM | Comments (170)

March 27, 2005

Laura K. Krishna is a Plagiarist.

What follows is the epic saga of a random instant message that came to me from a stranger this weekend, asking whether I wanted to be paid to write a college paper for her. Bitch didn’t know she was fucking with a comedy writer….

I had been convinced by my parents the other day to come home to Pennsylvania for Easter. After letting Mom feed me, and playing with her dogs, and all that stuff I have to do when I’m home, I go to check my email.

When I’m home, I connect to the Internet using the AOL account my parents have kept open for me since high school. And since I don’t use it except when I’m home, I just haven’t bothered to change the profile, where apparently, about 8 or 9 years ago, I had listed one of my hobbies as “Eating Hindu Sculpture.” That should be enough information for you to appreciate the instant message exchange that follows. Her instant message name has been changed to her real name, as has mine.:

Laura K. Krishna: hi can i ask u a quick question
Nate Kushner: what’s that?
Laura K. Krishna: i see in ur profile it says something about Hindu….i am a college student and i have to write a paper on Hindu is there anyway u can help me with that
Nate Kushner: I can try.
Laura K. Krishna: have u ever written a paper on it before

At this point, I made a bargain with myself that if I said something sarcastic, and she continued to ask me for help, that I would be obligated to fuck with her, so….

Nate Kushner: I am qualified, seeing as how it says Hindu in my profile.
Laura K. Krishna: well i am looking fro soemone to write me a paper i am more than willing to send u a check in the mail…money isn’t really an object to me
Laura K. Krishna: what do u think
Laura K. Krishna: if ur answer is no its ok just tell me

Wow. I thought she was just going to ask me a question about Hinduism (and having taken a college course on Indian history, I actually do know enough about it to make up some funny lies), but instead, I’m in charge of writing a paper, and she wants to pay for it. Continuing….

Nate Kushner: Yeah, that;s something we can talk about.
Laura K. Krishna: lets talk about it then
Nate Kushner: As long as you understand that plagiarism is not going to free you from the painful cycle of death and rebirth any quicker.
Laura K. Krishna: ok
Laura K. Krishna: so can u help me
Nate Kushner: I think I can. It is my duty, as we are all children in the arms of Chivas.

I reached one more branch out to her, in the form of misspelling the name of the god of destruction as a liquor brand. But it wasn’t enough to get her to tell me to fuck myself, so I started making up my plan. Which was real simple: Take her money and cut and paste a paper together from the internet that was so obviously plagiarised that she’d be guaranteed to get caught. And then, if I was able to get the information out of her, I’d report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in. Either way, I’d eventually be writing the story up in this blog, and sending her the link to it.

Is this harsh? Eh, I don’t think so. She got the syllabus saying she’d be kicked out of school for plagiarism, so she shouldn’t be surprised. Plus, I have a nice little English degree that I did all the work for myself, so I find it a little offensive that this girl for whom money is no object is buying papers like that.

Laura K. Krishna: are u for real or not
Nate Kushner: What exactly is the paper supposed to be?
Laura K. Krishna: 5 pages on a topic in hindu either the gods or yogas or caste or anything about the religion
Laura K. Krishna: i can pay by the page by the word i don’t care
Nate Kushner: how soon do you need it?
Laura K. Krishna: tomorrow….i’m willing to pay for that to because it such short notice
Nate Kushner: College? High School?
Laura K. Krishna: college
Nate Kushner: like for a world religions class or something?
Laura K. Krishna: yes
Laura K. Krishna: i will be back in 2 minutes i promise
Laura K. Krishna: ok sorry
Laura K. Krishna: so what do u think
Laura K. Krishna: can u do it
Nate Kushner: yeah, I think I can.
Laura K. Krishna: ur name
Nate Kushner: probably about the caste system would be easiest for me.
Laura K. Krishna: sounds great to me
Nate Kushner: Nathan Kushner
Laura K. Krishna: can u site sources like 3 per page
Laura K. Krishna: even if u don’t know exactly how to do it i can fix it
Nate Kushner: good, good.
Laura K. Krishna: when do u think u will be able to send me a copy of it
Nate Kushner: well, the hard part is finding sources for stuff that I know.
Laura K. Krishna: ok
Nate Kushner: you know what I mean, right?
Nate Kushner: I haven’t had to read this stuff in a book.
Laura K. Krishna: yes so when do u think i will be able to see it
Nate Kushner: I don’t know, maybe by 10ish tomorrow morning?
Nate Kushner: too late?
Laura K. Krishna: no chance by tonight
Laura K. Krishna: its ok
Nate Kushner: Well, probably not until at least midnight.
Laura K. Krishna: thats ok
Nate Kushner: but I want to be safe.
Laura K. Krishna: ok my email is
Laura K. Krishna: so midnight tonight
Laura K. Krishna: or 10 tomorrow
Nate Kushner: probably sometime after midnight.
Nate Kushner: but I’ll do it before I go to sleep, for sure.
Laura K. Krishna: excellent
Nate Kushner: alrght, I have to run for a little while.
Nate Kushner: but what about $60?
Nate Kushner: well, send me an email.
Nate Kushner: I need to know before I start this thing.
Laura K. Krishna: thats great
Laura K. Krishna: hey

She had walked away from the computer for a while, but had sent me an email offering $75. I e-mailed back saying yes, that’s better than $60, and I got to work on the paper. I’ll paste the entire thing here, not because I think it’s particularly entertaining, but because I want this page to come up on google in the event that this girl’s professor is checking out this paper for plagiarism. I did get some funny fake words in there, and made up some citations to make it look real, but mostly told lies that were close enough to what I knew about the truth, plus I cited Wikipedia ferchrissakes… Anyway, the text of the paper is here..

********************Paper Starts********************

The principle of Varnasrama Vindaloo Dharma, also known as Yachti, or caste, is one of the most fundamental aspects of Hinduism. Its origins may be traceable back as far as 6000 BC, when during the course of the tribal warfare that was prevalent in the region, the complex hierarchy was devised as a system to facilitate the subjugation of the conquered people. It is thought by some that even today, the members of the lowest castes are descendents of those conquered tribes. (Wikipedia: Georges Dumezil)The caste system is based upon the principle that human society is like a huge, complex machine, with the individuals and communities being like its parts. If the parts are weak and broken, the machine will not work. The body can only work efficiently if its parts and organs are in sound and strong condition. And lubricated. But if there is pain in any part of the body, if there is disease in any organ or part of the body, this human machine will go out of order. It will not perform its usual function or work. Likewise, no organ can fulfill any other organ’s function.

And thus it is that Hindu society traditionally was divided into four main castes, with those castes themselves being divided into literally hundreds of subcastes. The function of these names is to quantify how close a person was to freeing himself from the cycle of death and rebirth. Being born to a higher caste was an indication that one had lived one’s previous lives in a holy manner. Likewise, the higher castes had to be careful to live holy lives themselves, less they regress to a lower caste in the next reincarnation cycle, or even worse, reincarnate as some kind of animal.

The highest class is the Brahmans, the priestly class. Their dharma is to study and understand the Vedas, Hindu’s holy texts, and bring this knowledge to others. The second class is the Kshatriya, the warrior class, who acted as the protectors of the peace. I made a doody. Vaishya, the producing class, work as business people providing economic stability to the society. The Shudahelupta class, are servants to the higher three classes.

Some upward mobility was possible, in that each of these castes has hundreds of subcastes within it, and it was possible in one’s lifetime, by marriage or economics, to attain different subcastes within your caste, but never to fully switch out of whichever of these four categories you might have been born into.

At first appearance, the Hindu class structure and the social laws pertaining to religious rights based on one’s class seem to be prejudicial, demeaning and exclusive to the point of abuse. The lowest caste, the Shudra, is not even allowed to hear or study the holy texts of Hindu based solely on their inescapable station in life as servants to the higher three classes. However, from a purely religious standpoint, you discover that the class system is not abusive in itself, and that the abuse may come outside their religious practices. They are not allowed to read or hear the Vedas, but they are allowed to participate in the Hindu religion. It may seem degrading to keep them away from the religious texts that at the same time are keeping them from raising their station in this lifetime. But Hindus believe that anybody who was born into a caste was born there for a reason. Karma, which follows you throughout your many lifetimes, determines which class you will be in for any given lifetime. You may be demoted to an animal, reallocated within the class structure, or even elevated to a deity. Your actions in each lifetime affect your karma, and if a Shudra watches dharma and greg, it will have a positive effect on his karma, perhaps elevating him into a class in which she will be allowed to study the Vedas and progress along its spiritual path.

There is a caste whose station in life is so low that they are not officially considered a caste. These are the untouchables. These untouchables are distinguished by the types of jobs that they are able to perform. These jobs typically involve handling dead matter and filth, and therefore the untouchable caste were often relegated to being street sweepers, butchers, latrine cleaners, and the like. They are outcast from society to the point that they may not come into physical contact with one of the four classes. If such contact were to occur, or even if the Untouchable were to touch a casted person’s possessions or furniture, the casted person would immediately be required to cleanse his person or property (Anand, 56). The phobia of casted members towards the untouchable caste is not unlike a germ phobia, and the untouchables are treated exactly like lepers.

Proponents of the caste system arfue that it actually provides many benefits to its followers. It provides humans with the main desires that a religion provides. It gives the people of this religion a social structure that encourages closeness with other members from your class and Jati. It gives the individual a meaning in life, even if that meaning is in the act of being a servant. There is a goal and a purpose. It also dictates what is right and wrong. The caste system has the advantage of laying it right out, and giving people a place in society that no one has to fight for. Though a person may not be able to raise his or her caste within his lifetime, neither can his or her caste be lowered. It enables them to spend their energy doing their dharma to the best of their abilities, to help improve their karma so that perhaps next time they will move up to a higher class. “Since it is accepted that one’s caste is determined by one’s past karma, there is no reason to be bitter about one’s lot or envy others” (Ludwig, 109).

However, due to the flawed nature of humans, the caste system has not been implemented as the Vedas instruct. The system has come to be a hierarchy wherein the lowest levels, are not given the respect commanded in the religious texts. (Embry, 27)

This could be one reason why, even with the caste system having been dissolved on the official level by the Indian government, caste-based discrimination continues to be a hardship on lower-casted Indians when it comes to employment, government, and economic upward mobility in general. Today, though things are undoubtedly better for the lower castes, due to the introduction in India of programs similar to America’s affirmative action policies, and the offer of free education for all Indian citizens, there is still a long way to go to ensure complete and genuine equality for those whose dignity suffers under this system.

Ludwig, Theodore M. The Sacred Paths: Understanding the
Religions of the World. Upper Saddle River:
Prentice Hall, 2001.

Ghurye, GS: “Features of the Caste System” in Social
Stratification (Ed) Dipankar Gupta. New Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1991.

Anand, Mulk Raj: Untouchable. London. Penguin Putnam, 1940.

Embree, Ainslie T.: India’s Search For National Identity.
Delhi, India. Chanakya Publications, 1980.

Sivanada, Sri Swami: All About Hinduism. New York. Divine
Life Society, 1977

Wikipedia entry: Georges Dumezil:

*****************Paper Ends***********************

Pretty awful paper, right? But it reads well. Too well. Plus, it’s full of lies and citations that are easy to expose.

Anyway, while I was working on this, she was bugging me for progress reports. She might as well have just written the damn paper for all the trouble she was expending to bug me, but over the course of conversations that I accidentally closed, I learned that her first name was Laura, and that she went to Eastern Illinois University. The only piece of information missing to nail her would be her last name, as there are 133 Lauras at that school.

One thing I had no illusions about was that it would be easy for her to just not send the check once she received the text of the paper, so I tried my darndest to get her to pay by paypal to my email address. No dice, as she had a story about having parental controls on her aol account.

Fine, I thought. I’d still consider this successful even if I didn’t get the money. The real prize is the last name. She had to go to bed, so after she was gone, I finished the cut and paste job, and promised her we’d finalize things at 10:30ish the next morning.

I sent her the following email:

Alright, the paper is ready. I’m going to have to ask you to either scan the check and send an image of it, or to pay me via that paypal thing I sent you. But it is ready, and I will send it as soon as I get one of those things. I’ll get online around 10:15, like you said.Talk to you soon!

She was not on when I got online around 10:30, so I walked away, and came back an hour or two later to this:

Laura K. Krishna: ok well i just got ur e-mail about the pay
Laura K. Krishna: i don’t have a scanner
Laura K. Krishna: how else could i prove it to u
Laura K. Krishna: ?
Laura K. Krishna: hello
Laura K. Krishna: ok what happened
Laura K. Krishna: nate?
Laura K. Krishna: ok i’m not really sure what u want me to do…..but u know that i need the rest of the paper so u tell me whatever u want me to do
Laura K. Krishna: I’m setting up paypal
Laura K. Krishna: well heres the thing i’m not sending u 75 dollars when ur not even responding to me for the last 20 minutes
Laura K. Krishna: well u email and let me know whats up
Nate Kushner: sorry.
Nate Kushner: I’m here.
Laura K. Krishna: ok…ur alive
Laura K. Krishna: good to hear
Nate Kushner: yeah, I walked away when you weren’t on at 10:30.
Laura K. Krishna: so what can i do
Nate Kushner: nothing now.
Laura K. Krishna: what do u mean
Nate Kushner: I meant it’s not a big deal, you’re online now
Laura K. Krishna: so are u sending it ?
Nate Kushner: are you?
Laura K. Krishna: yes
Laura K. Krishna: hello
Nate Kushner: yeah, it’s coming in a second.
Laura K. Krishna: ok
Nate Kushner: ok, it’s sent.
Laura K. Krishna: can u cut and paste it in an e-mail
Laura K. Krishna: then i will transfer it to word
Nate Kushner: I attached it.
Laura K. Krishna: i can’t open it
Laura K. Krishna: send it to me how u sent it last night

I sent the paper to her with password protection on it as a safety thing. I thought maybe if I sent the file first, and the password upon payment, that she’d find that agreeable.

Nate Kushner: I’ll send you the password when I get the payment.
Laura K. Krishna: what password
Laura K. Krishna: for what
Nate Kushner: for the file.
Laura K. Krishna: i can’t opened attatched documents because of my virus blocker
Laura K. Krishna: it doesn’t allow me to do that
Laura K. Krishna: hello
Nate Kushner: yeah, I’m here.
Laura K. Krishna: are u gonna send it to me through email
Nate Kushner: yeah, give me a second.
Nate Kushner: you understand how I’d be paranoid about getting stiffed here, right?
Laura K. Krishna: i completely understand
Laura K. Krishna: but trust me
Nate Kushner: ok, well, it’s ready to send if you’re ready to make the payment.
Nate Kushner: I literally just have to hit the send button.
Laura K. Krishna: yes
Nate Kushner: ok, well, go ahead.
Laura K. Krishna: send it
Nate Kushner: you first.
Laura K. Krishna: how can i send it first nate
Laura K. Krishna: do u have a camera phone?
Nate Kushner: I don’t.
Laura K. Krishna: i will take a picture of the check and send it to u right now on my camera phone
Laura K. Krishna: i can’t do the paypal thing because of the parental controls on my computer (its for my little brother and sister) and i don’t have the password for the master screename
Laura K. Krishna: what if i send u a pic of the check through and email
Nate Kushner: we can try that.
Laura K. Krishna: ok its gonna take me a few minutes
Laura K. Krishna: hold on ok

She sent me three different images of the check, one to prove that she’d written the right amount, one to prove that she’d written my name, and one of the top left corner, where her name turns out to be Laura K. Krishna. I couldn’t do anything except send the damn thing.

Whether the check is on its way, nobody knows. But that’s ok. I don’t want it. I want her to get caught more than anything.
For a minute this morning, I wasn’t sure whether that would be possible, though.

One of the things I had taken for granted like an idiot is that she wasn’t lying about what school she was going to. So imagine my dismay when, after I know the last name, and have sent the paper off, I do a search at the Eastern Illinois University website, and find that they don’t have a record of a Laura K. Krishna. I thought that I was screwed, and Laura was going to get away with this completely free.

Thank goodness for Chris Coleman, our fantastic web guy, who combed the google results for “Laura K. Krishna” more carefully than I did, and found out that she probably actually goes to India Community College, and in fact has made the dean’s list there.

James Gaffney, their president, has already received a link to this blog entry. In a few days, after she’s handed in the paper, Laura K. Krishna will also receive the same link. We will keep you updated on