the official alt.spleen
- Frequently Asked Questions -
by Andrew Stellman
last modified 8/17/98
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY MAIL TO ME REQUESTING MEDICAL ADVICE! I AM NOT A DOCTOR, AND WILL NOT GIVE YOU ANY USEFUL INFORMATION.
Part I: Basic Spleen Facts
Q: What is the purpose of alt.spleen?
alt.spleen is used to DISSEMINATE very IMPORTANT information about the
SPLEEN. Spleen care, maintenance, entertainment, sport, history, music
and pop culture are all discussed, as are all other spleen-related
Q: Can I vent my spleen on alt.spleen?
This is, perhaps, the most-asked question on alt.spleen. Tom Mary Dobrowolsky
(email@example.com) has an answer:
"Well you can certainly talk about it here on this here
NEWSGROUP. However, proper spleen venting, unless you are
absolutely certain you know what you are doing, should be
done by a duly certified spleen mechanic.
"I shouldn't have to tell you the humorous but really
dangerous stories of 'armchair mechanic' spleen owners venting
their spleens and ending up with leftover parts afterwards.
"Whatever you do, please make sure to have a pressure gauge
handy. There's nothing worse than a over/under-inflated spleen."
Q: Are these questions *REALLY* frequently asked?
Surprisingly, yes. Many of these questions are truly frequently asked
questions. A lot of the traffic on alt.spleen comes from new visitors,
and many of their questions are the same. At times like this, the
regulars take much pleasure in posting: "It's in the FAQ!"
Q: Is this the only FAQ?
Well, yes and no. Yes, this is the only FAQ. But no, this is not the
only periodically posted document that answers frequently asked
questions. There is an infinitely more useful and far superior
document than this. It's called the obalt.splobeen FOBAQ, and it's
posted in an ancient language called "ob", currently only spoken by
a mysterious group of people. There is more speculation about these
people in part III, but from the little of it that I could decipher,
it looked like it contained invaluable information.
I hope one day to discover the Rosetta Stone of "ob", and hopefully
unlock the secrets of the FOBAQ. Until then, we'll all have to make
do with my inferior FAQ.
Q: Did you really write a script to convert this FAQ into HTML?
Yes, I did. That probably makes me a hopeless nerd. On the other hand,
it saves me some time. I wrote the script in perl5, and it can be found
Please note: due to a horrifying accident, I lost the old version of
htmlify, which made me really unhappy. I recently rewrote it, and it's
probably the most readable perl script I've ever written. It's even
(somewhat) documented! You definitely don't see that every day, kids.
Special thanks to Benjamin Elijah, without whom my regexps would be
Q: So what is that spleen thing, anyway?
The easiest way to answer that question is to consult the dictionary:
Word SPLEEN (SPLEEN) n.
Definition --n. 1. a. One of the largest lymphoid structures in human
beings, a visceral organ composed of a white pulp of lymphatic
nodules and tissue and a red pulp of venous sinusoids in a
framework of fibrous partitions lying on the left side below the
diaphragm, functioning as a blood filter and to store blood. b.
A homologous organ or tissue in other vertebrates. 2. Obs. a.
The seat of emotions or passions. b. A whim; caprice. 3.
Archaic. Melancholy. 4. Ill temper.
Etymology ME splene < OFr. esplen < Lat. splen < Gk splen.
Domain Everyday conversation
As everyone knows, the spleen is more than just a part of your lymphatic
system. When properly cared for and coddled, a spleen can lead to a more
fulfilling, and often more interesting life.
And, according to linguist Matthew Messner (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Word SPLENDID (SPLEHN'-did)
Definition --adj. of, or pertaining to, the spleen.
Q: Do I have a spleen?
Yes! Unless it was removed, you have a spleen. Some people are even born
with more than one spleen. The spleen is a wonderful thing, and you should
be aware of your own spleen.
Q: How do I care for my spleen?
Your spleen requires just a little care and love. Remember to follow these
- Keep your spleen clean. Make sure to wash your spleen at least once a month (either let it air dry, or use a paper towel or lint-free cloth). Do not use soap, just a gentle jet of water. (See the section on spleen cleaning later in the FAQ)
- Eat right. Beans are good spleen food, especially kidney beans. Your spleen also appreciates the occasional pizza (for the grease), and pasta is always a yes.
But that's not all! According to Nobel prizewinning surgeon and hygenist
Tom Whelan (email@example.com), you should always do the following things
to make life better for your spleen:
- Give your spleen affection. Go ahead! Don't be shy. Touch it, squeeze it gently, massage it. Your spleen can be your best friend if you treat it right.
- Let it out for a few minutes each day. Careful to put a towel in your lap for this.
- Vent the Spleen. This is best done in the shower, as it can become messy. Be sure to have your blood type in stock at the local red cross. If you're not already familiar with venting, you should consult a certified spleen mechanic.
- Talk to your Spleen: A few words of encouragement, or just a kind comment make for a happy day.
- Never scare your spleen. Mad barking dogs, incontinent parrots, and brain damaged Easter Bunnies all tend to upset your spleen.
- Your spleen needs a diet high in Haggis. Haggis is a delicacy popular in Scotland. It is made with ground lamb's brains, liver, adrenal glands and hemp with a barley binder. The Haggis is served in the lamb's stomach. Since there is a resemblance, the Spleen enjoys this meal. (See below for vegetarian alternatives.)
- Burp a lot. This is akin to a back rub for the Spleen.
Q: Where did the spleen get such a beautiful name?
Etymologist Brian Youmans (firstname.lastname@example.org) came up with the following
etymology. According to Brian:
"[the word 'spleen'] has very ancient roots, going back to the Middle
English, 'splen', the Old French 'esplen', the Latin 'splen', the Greek
'splen' (long e there), and the Indo-European 'sphelgh', from which the
Sanscrit 'plihan' (long i) and Old Slavic 'slezena'."
Q: Are the rumors of spleen violence true?
Oddly enough, yes. Researcher Daniel Martinez (email@example.com) has
discovered these alarming facts:
"Apparently the widespread adoption of the stiletto as a weapon of murder
in southern Italy during the late Middle Ages was an indirect consequence
of the swampiness of the region. The low, wet areas were ideal breeding
grounds for mosquitoes, and as a consequence Malaria was quite common
there. The disease was generally accompanied by an enlargement of the
spleen, which had to purify the blood of additional toxins and other
by-products of infection. Any rupture of the organ, in that state, could
quickly cause a victim to bleed to death. That, it seems, is exactly what
the stiletto was meant to do. Long and thin, it's more suited to piercing
than to slashing; supposedly the spleen of the average citizen in those
parts was of sufficient size that a solid thrust anywhere in the abdominal
region had a credible chance of success."
Q: Does the spleen change size or shape? Like, does it get big?
Yes. Slight enlargement of the spleen is normal during and after
digestion, and the size of the spleen in human adults usually
ranges from 100 to 250 grams (3.5 to 8.3 ounces). Abnormal enlargement,
or splenomegaly, may occur in the course of a number of diseases.
For some of these diseases, and in the case when the spleen ruptures,
surgical removal of the organ (splenectomy, as horrible as the thought
may be) may prove to be beneficial. Splenectomy is not recommended
except in the very worst cases, since severe depression generally
ensues, and suicide often follows.
Q: No, I mean *REALLY* big. What happens when the spleen gets *REALLY* big?
This is a very difficult question, and for the answer it was necessary
to consult Nobel prizewinning surgeon Tom Whelan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for an educated medical opinion. Here's what he had to say:
"The human Spleen is capable of expanding greatly when under the influence
of certain hemodynamic situations. In chronic portal hypertension (with
poss. assc Rt heart failure), there may be portal fugue present, and the
blood backs up to the the most compliant organ available, usually the
Spleen. Since the spleen is compliant, it can engorge itself with blood
and expand greatly. Some Splenamegaly reaches wheel-barrow proportions!,
then, of course, the serum in the blood begins to leak into the peritoneal
cavity (ascites), when the splenic volume is at its max. These poor
souls with large spleens are usually found counting gum wrappers in the
gutter, with a bottle of Mad-Dog in one hand. You may even find them
tending a 7-11, or occupying a public office."
Q: Who is Faisal?
Q: Does alt.spleen get a lot of traffic?
alt.spleen has always been a relatively low-traffic newsgroup. It used to
be that every year a new wave of freshmen "discovered" it, and it got a
lot of activity for a few days from a single source, and they always said
to themselves, "we should just claim this as our own, since we're the only
ones who post here", and as quick as it started, it was over. In
retrospect, it's clear that this was just a momentary infatuation with
spleens -- as is common with newcomers to the Internet -- but they soon
realized that the spleen is just too complex and issue-laden for all but
the most splendid and spleen-hearty individuals. This is what sets
alt.spleen regulars apart from mere mortals.
Recently, this hasn't been as apparent. College freshmen are usually
familiar with the Internet by the time they enter, usually because they
have accounts in high school. Another relatively recent (i.e. in the last
year or so) occurrence has been a constant "background noise" of spam
posts for sex sites, psychic hotlines and get-rich-quick schemes. Oh well,
there goes the neighborhood.
Q: Was this FAQ really featured in Internet Underground magazine?
Not exactly -- the FAQ maintainer was, and if he may say so himself, he
interviewed dazzlingly well. It's worth picking up!
Make sure you check out the alt.spleen FAQ home page!
Do you have any questions, comments or additions? I'd like your input! Contact
me (email@example.com), and I'll be happy to help you in any way that I can.
Please do not send me medical questions, though, since I am not a doctor and
have no medical knowledge.
Have a splendid day!