Monday, December 31, 2007

Stealth Creationists

If you look really closely, as I have resolved,
At Boards of Education,
You'll see hidden creationists; some have evolved
A protective coloration.

Some wear their belief upon their sleeves
And some choose not to wear it--
But sometimes you'll see what one believes
By the phrases that they parrot:

"I think it's fair to teach both sides"
"Evolution is 'just a theory'"
"With freedom of speech, then who decides?"
"Just think of the children, dearie"

And just as we can identify birds
By the calls of hens and drakes
We can sometimes tell creationist turds
By the sound stupidity makes.

A tip o' the cuttle to PZ, here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

No vaccine for arrogance...

Orac reports on the latest pinhead celebrity to jump onto the anti-vax bandwagon. Yup, it's that walking, talking hairpiece, The Donald.

The anti-vax pinheads are a group I find particularly annoying. My aunt had polio. My grandparents' generation saw the Salk vaccine for the wonder that it is, and saw polio for the danger it is. Have we forgotten so much so quickly?

When polio was something that
Your friends and family got,
Damn right you'd wait in line to get
That magic-seeming shot.

When infant graves were commonplace,
Each parent knew the cost;
A victim of our own success,
Perspective has been lost.

But now that science gives our lives
More health and fewer pains,
True geniuses like Salk give way
To Trumps with shit for brains.

I'd bet if Trump was suddenly
Confronted with, say, cancer,
He wouldn't hesitate to look
To science for an answer.

But ignorance and affluence--
A potent combination--
Are threatening the future of
A younger generation.

With every anti-vaxxer voice,
Our children's risk enlarges,
And science must--for all our sakes--
Defeat these Trumped-up charges.

Monday, December 24, 2007

An atheist Christmas

We’ll all open presents, and cook a big dinner,
And share in traditions we learned long ago
But Christmas is different for this humble sinner,
No “birth of the saviour”, just people we know.

It has nothing to do with a babe in a manger
Or kings being led by a star up above,
But rather in family, friend, and in stranger,
In kindnesses done for the people we love.

A spirit of hope, and a spirit of giving,
A promise of peace in a troubling day,
A chance to examine the way we are living--
The courage to say what we’ve wanted to say.

You don’t need to think there’s a god up above you
To want to be good to your fellows on Earth.
To give to your friends, and to tell them “I love you”
Has nothing to do with some son of god’s birth.

For love, and for giving, we say “tis the season”
For caring, for kindness, for sharing good cheer
But why limit ourselves? I mean, what is the reason?
Why can’t we be giving the rest of the year?

This Christmas, my wish for each sister and brother,
To you, and to everyone you may hold dear;
Remember, this Christmas, to love one another—
Not only this season, but all through the year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The giraffe song (not the unicorn song)

Over on "Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)", there is an unfair contest going on. Unfair, because (apparently) GrrlScientist likes graphics. "Please show us in a picture because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words", she says. Hmph. I have only 345 words for her:

A long time ago, if you check the graphs,
There were more kinds of animals, and that’s just giraffes!
They played around with brontosaurs, and even T. rex,
And don’t you forget that they had long necks.

There were six giraffe species, or maybe more
A much different story than we thought before
As many as eleven, so there’d better be space
Or wise old Noah is a big disgrace.

When God said to Noah “time to make me an ark”
The animals lined up for the chance to embark
The cats, and rats, and elephants, two by twos
Heard the astounding news:

There were six giraffe species, or maybe more
A much different story than we thought before
As many as eleven, so there’d better be space
Or wise old Noah is a big disgrace.

Old Noah was puzzled—he’d planned for just two—
But now there were many; so, what should he do?
He looked at his list, to check who stays and goes
And just what do you suppose?

There were six giraffe species, or maybe more
A much different story than he thought before
As many as eleven, so there’d better be space
Or wise old Noah is a big disgrace.

You remember the song; you remember it claims
That the unicorns were hiding, playing silly games
The truth is that God has incompetent staff,
And each one thought “a giraffe’s a giraffe”

But no, there were six giraffe species, or maybe more
A much different story than we thought before
As many as eleven, so there’d better be space
Or that pinhead Noah is a big disgrace.

The unicorns were there—You could hear their laughs—
But the trick is, they got there behind the giraffes!
Old Noah screwed up, and someone had to pay….
And that’s why you’ll never see a Unicorn, to this very day.

You’ll see six giraffe species, or maybe more
A much different story than we thought before
As many as eleven, so there had to be space
And old man Noah is a big disgrace.

(to the tune of "the unicorn song", by the incredible Shel Silverstein. Like I had to tell you...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Meme of Eights...

CAE tagged me!

You cannot be a cuttlefish
And hide in pixels, or in ink,
While still appeasing those who wish
To ask about the stuff you think.
And so I turn to camouflage
To hide a little—or a lot.
I write a verse that’s part mirage—
Some of it’s true, but some is not.

8 Passions

I’ve a passion for food, and a passion for snow
(I will go out for ice cream at twenty below)
I’ve a passion for poetry—also, for Greeks
(The Odyssey’s best in the words Homer speaks)
A passion for travel, but also for home
(A place to come back to, and places to roam)
A passion for language, a passion for culture
(Both living and dead—I’m a bit of a vulture)

8 Things to do before I die

First, eat some of every food in the world;
Then do that again, one more time.
To learn to play bagpipes, and then mandolin;
Find someone who’d pay me to rhyme.
To act, as Iago, and Caliban, too;
Learn a language, start a new trend.
Or trade all of these for the chance to go back
And start over again with [my friend].

8 Things I often say

“That’s a really great question”,I often will say,
And of course, “I do not know the answer”
“You know that a horoscope’s nothing but lies”
“Well, of course I think that—I’m a Cancer.”
“In my humble opinion—which also is right”
And yes, “It’s my job: I’m a Dad.”
To my dog: “what, again? Hey, I just took you out!”
And though it seems dated, “Egad!”

8 books I recently read

Fabulous Females and Peerless Pirs;
Of course, Eats, Shoots and Leaves;
Frans De Waal’s Our Inner Ape;
Shermer’s How We Believe;
Towing Jehova; Dr. Tatiana’s
Sex Advice To All Creation
Magic In Theory; and last but not least,
Behavior Modification.

8 Songs that mean something to me

All of Tom Waits, or just “I Want You
Elvis Costello and “Almost Blue
Wake Up And Dream”, If I may be bold,
And “Ghost” by the Indigos never grows old
Grand River Lullaby”, by Alex Bevan
Once In A Very Blue Moon”—sheer heaven
There’s Lucy Kaplansky’s “Guinevere
And “The Promise” the last, not the least one here.

8 Qualities I look for in a friend

I’ve never really looked for friends,
Held tryouts or auditions;
The people whom I love the most
Seem random acquisitions.
For every stand-out quality
(Believe me, those are ample)
Another friend is there to act
As opposite example.
With so many people whom I love,
So many I hold dear—
Although the question’s very good,
You’ll find no answer here.

8 People whose blogs I enjoy

Of course, there’s the people I list to the right,
So don’t neglect them, although this poem might.
I’m choosing some others to list in this verse,
Like Moon River, Dienekes, and The Head Nurse;
One I read from years ago, one I found today,
One you probably know about, but I’ll list anyway
One that needs poking, to get him to speak
And one that I love, though it’s written in Greek.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A long-running bet...

A pair of hucksters had a bet, a long, long time ago
Each swore that he could prove himself the lowest of the low;
Each knew who was the world’s top swindler: “Naturally, I am!”
And so the competition: who could pull the greatest scam?

The first said “I shall tell each father, mother, son and daughter,
That I can cure most anything with nothing more than water!”
Oh, sure, he had to shake it up, succuse each next dilution,
But in the end it’s water, and there’s nothing in solution.

The second watched, and chuckled, “I admit, that’s very good!
You kept it simple—not at all the scam I thought you would!
But frankly, in simplicity, you’ve left an open door,
Lemme show you how to do it, when you do a little more.”

So the second had another plan, and here’s how it begins:
“I will have the people pay me when I puncture them with pins!
Not a hypodermic needle with a drug or some vaccine,
But a pin—that’s all, a pin—that we can only hope is clean.”

The first, in turn, was quite impressed, and told the second so;
And by this time both hucksters knew how far the two might go.
Colloidal silver, orgone rays, and therapeutic touch,
TM, reflexology, and enemas and such.

But time and time again, their efforts only met success—
They knew they had to try once more to make a bigger mess;
They had to pull out all the stops, and really take a chance…
The time had come for sorcery with eggs and underpants.

“You’ve got a curse, you’re going to die, it’s too late now to beg;
There’s just one chance—you’ll need to bring me urine, and an egg,
A plate, a pair of underpants, and yes—five thousand pounds.”
(The fact they were not laughing by this point is what astounds)

The victim paid five hundred pounds, but not the whole five grand,
And so the hucksters argue still, who’s best in all the land.
As long as there are victims there, and money to be had,
This contest will continue—who’s the baddest of the bad?

So keep your eyes wide open, and be sure your brain’s engaged,
For I’m certain there are scams out there this verse has not presaged;
If you hear your spine needs cracking, or your underwear are hexed,
You can call yourself a skeptic, or have hucksters call you “next”.

A tip o' the cuttle to Podblack Blog for this one...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It was Cephalopodmas...

It was Cephalopodmas, and all through the blogs
Not a writer was stirring—all sleeping like logs.
Each blogosphere-dweller, from Orac to PZ
Was all bundled up and just taking it easy.
Their prone, sleeping forms, that might well have been granite
Slept through the most wonderful tale on the planet!
For all ‘cross the globe, from the oceans and seas,
All the cephalopods, just as nice as you please,
Took a break from their lurking in kelps and in corals
To visit the houses of people with morals.
(Ironic, you think? If they hadn’t been sleeping,
The bloggers would be so much happier peeping,
And witnessing all of this marvelous night.
Well, now that I write of it… next year, they might.)

But how can a creature that’s mainly pelagic
Accomplish all this? Is it hoax? Is it magic?
Of course, I could never achieve it alone
I had oceans of help—why, in every time zone
There were octopi, cuttlefish, nautilus too
And squid by the thousands who knew what do do.
From the deepest of depths, from the shallowest shoals,
From around the equator and close to the poles,
From every far corner of all seven seas
Came crawlers and swimmers, as quick as you please,
From cuttlefish cubby or octopus den,
To each lend a hand, or perhaps eight or ten.
The skies and the seas were both darker than soot;
No safe place for tentacle, feeler, or foot—
Was it safe for the journey? I had to think twice,
But a wise old molluscan proposed this advice:
“You know, you should hitch up some firefly squid”
So, not being stupid, that’s just what I did—
(In the darkest of depths, when I could not find any,
I used the much larger Taningia danae).
With a glow that left headlights in sad obsolescence
We lit our own way with our bioluminescence.
(And once (but just once) when we plain lost our bearings
We got back on track with the help of some herrings.
On Cephalopodmas, good nature prevails—
Even giant squid know they can trust the sperm whales—
And whether you’re predator, whether you’re prey,
You can take the day off. Hey, it’s only one day.)
And with luminous squidlings providing the light,
The Onycotuthidae took us to flight!
(It’s a myth that a reindeer can fly, as you know
But true that some squid can, as others can glow!)
So we flew, over trees, over hills, over mountains,
(Keeping moist by, sometimes, flying low over fountains)
We flew over deserts, with sagebrush and cactus;
Some day we’ll invade, so it’s really good practice.
And each place we flew, and the others we crawled,
We left little gifts, that surprised and enthralled
All the good boys and girls, and their parents and pets
(Why should some folks miss out on what other folks gets?)
An octopus, crawling up pipes from the sewers,
Might leave a small gift, say, a bottle of Dewars.
For those who do not have a liking for whiskey,
Perhaps lingerie (although nothing too risky);
If the oysters cooperate, maybe some pearls
For the fancy tongue-piercings of good boys and girls.
If we think we’ve been spotted, then quick as a wink,
We are gone—what remains is a black cloud of ink,
(But when it’s so dark you can’t see where you’re going
Then ink is no good—so a cloud that is glowing--
A trick taught by Heteroteuthis dispar)
So it shows where you were, when you no longer are,
And predators, peepers, or unwilling hosts
See nothing—or see what might well have been ghosts.
They know they’ve seen something, but what? They won’t swear.
By that time, of course, we are long gone from there.
You can see from the picture that, once, we were caught
By some kittehs, who said “U R not who we thot.”
But we gave the poor kittehs a soft little pat,
‘Cos we knew we were safe—who’d believe a dumb cat?
Then back to the oceans, for seafood and beer,
Saying Merry Cephalopodmas, and Happy New Year!

Tip to either Pharyngula or Pharyngula.

Much more here

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Of all the creatures in the world
Deserving to be knit (and purled)
I think it’s clear, we all would wish
A cute and cuttly cuddlefish.

A comment-writer, “Impolite”
Has, very clearly, got it right
So now, the screen of my computer
Shows a pic that can’t be cuter

It’s beautiful, this much is clear,
So huggable, so very dear,
So soft and cuddly, cute and charming
Lots of arms, and yet disarming

A knitted brain cannot compete,
Nor teratoma, bearing feet—
The cutest creature of them all,
And made of yarn—so have a ball!

But still, the cuddlefish I see
Does not have eight arms—only three
(No tentacles at all, I think,
Nor any way to shoot its ink)

And not that it should trouble you—
It’s pupils should go “W”.
Small details, sure, but that’s the fun
So here’s the deal. Another one.

The ravellers who visit here
(Or any else—let’s make it clear):
I’m offering some sort of prize
(Just what it is, I can’t surmise)

But fame and glory, sure enough
For one who has the cuttle stuff
Just send your pics, your best and worst,
I’ll see to it you all get versed.

(And so the rest don’t feel so jilted,
I’ll take them drawn, or stitched, or quilted)
There is no subject more befitting,
So ready, steady, go! Get knitting!

An experiment...

So, when I wrote about knitting, I got lots of visits from "", which appears to be an online community of knitters and crocheters. This group easily doubled the number of visits I was getting (but they did not tend to leave comments!)

So the experiment--knitters like poems about knitting... do car people like poems about cars? (Of course, my ultimate goal would be to have this read on air by Click and Clack on Car Talk...) This is an old poem of mine (written in response to a comment, "the murmer of innumerable motors"...), really not much more than a collection of cliches put to verse.

The Old Car

My car does not murmur; she groans and complains
And she limps--just a bit--on the right.
She shouts out in protest at tasks she disdains
As one cylinder fails to ignite.
Whenever we turn, there's a noise from the brakes
That's a hollow and cancerous cough.
The faster the highway, the harder she shakes
Until bits of her start to fall off.

I remember the days when she purred like a cat
So responsive, so agile, so fast;
She would tear through a curve and then leap down the flat
And refuse--stubborn thing--to be passed.
I will always remember the car she once was—
That’s the reason I can’t let her go;
It’s the things that she did, not the things that she does;
I suppose it will always be so.

I, myself, I admit, may be showing some wear
And my warrantee’s long since expired;
There’s some rust in the joints and some grey in the hair
And what once revved me up makes me tired.
When I look, with my near-sighted eyes, at my car
It’s the beauty of old that I see;
If you look this direction—I see that you are—
Would you please do that favor for me?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Teratoma--or, Knit me a sister.

Shelley serves as my muse again today... The brain was not her first post about anatomically accurate knitting; there was a previous post on a cute and cuddly teratoma. Ok, so she calls it "complicated and grotesque", but tomayto tomahto. But the knit teratoma is indeed cute and cuddly, if you ask me. So I thought I would try a slightly different spin on the whole idea of having had a twin who died and whose body, in the womb, was absorbed into yours in the form of a tumor with recognizable body parts.

I mean, that can't be all bad, can it?

"Teratoma", or "Knit me a Sister".

"I have an invisible friend", I said,
"But she doesn't hide beneath my bed,
Or in my closet--no, instead,
I keep her tucked inside."

"We do not mean to condescend,
But we all know, there's no such friend;
This fabrication now must end."
My Mom and Dad replied.

"But Mommy! Daddy! Please, I swear!
She's closer than my teddy bear!
See my tummy? She's in there!
I even feel her growing!"

My parents didn't scream or shout;
They trusted me, despite their doubt,
And had a doctor check me out
When something started showing!

My friend was real! I hadn't lied!
At first, my twin, but then she died.
The doctors cut me open wide
And shoveled out my basement.

I never knew I had a sister,
But once my friend was gone, I missed her;
So, knitting till she raised a blister
My Mom made a replacement!

By the way, the original source of the pictures also has a poem (or song) about it! And instructions!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Please, Australia!

Deep-Sea News reports that my cousins the Giant Australian Cuttlefish may be in serious trouble. It seems they had the lack of foresight to evolve in an area where featherless bipeds would eventually discover uranium, copper, and gold. As of this writing, the link to the original Australian source is down, so you will have to settle for the condensed version on DSN.

Australia is evidence: memories don't last--
They ought to have learned from mistakes in the past;
The hull of a ship carries passengers, too
(Ask any whose job is to clean off that goo--
Green algae, and seaweeds, and mussels and such
Which can kill off the locals--it doesn't take much).
This plan should be dropped like a really bad habit,
If Aussies have learned from the tale of the rabbit;
There's a reason, you see, for the rabbit-proof fence:
Once you bring bunnies hither, you can't send them hence.
They devastate flora, and quickly outbreed
Their marsupial neighbors--a problem indeed.
Or look to the waters at Port Philip Bay
Where another invasive is living today;
The Northern Pacific Sea Star is its name
At that bay, there's a full hundred million to blame
For destroying the natives, both mollusks and corals--
When species collide, we get more than mere quarrels.
From foxes and cats, who are powerful killers,
To carp and salvinia, waterway-fillers,
From cane toads to mynas, to red fire ants,
Once here it's too late, so you can't miss your chance.
These cuttlefish giants are beautiful creatures
(Just look at the picture! What beautiful features!)
I hope that Port Bonython learns from the past
And decides that they want their Australia to last;
Ecosystems are fragile--we know they can break;
I'm begging you--please don't repeat your mistake.

(Now, go to this page, download Michael McRae's delightful illustrations, and use them when reading my verse to children.)

Photo from The Cephalopod Page... which I also cannot get to link. Bad day for linkage...

...and special thanks to Pod, of Podblack Blog

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tuber magnatum Pico

I’d like to report, for the gluttons among us,
A story about a remarkable fungus;
An auction today caused a giant kerfuffle
And set a new record—the costliest truffle.
A truffle dog found it near Pisa last week
(although hunting with pigs is another technique);
Weighing 1.5 kilos (or 3.3 pounds),
It’s the largest discovered by pigs or by hounds.
An artist was bidding, and so was a Sheik
But neither had what it would finally take;
The winner, from Macau, is named Stanley Ho—
He owns a casino; I guess he has dough.
A third of a million is what he will pay
For the privilege of taking that truffle today
A price unexpected, though truffles are rarities,
But proceeds, today, were donated to charities.
The price for this truffle, reporters were told
Is nine times (by weight) more expensive than gold!
So if your back yard contains Tuber magnatum,
It’s time to call Christie’s, and tell them you’ve got ‘em.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Knit me a brain!

A tip of the cuttlecap to Shelley of Retrospectacle for reporting on the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art

We’ve got sweaters to mend; we’ve got socks we can darn,
So pull up a chair, and I’ll spin you a yarn;
It’s a song with a Scarecrow-of-Oz-like refrain:
Please pick up your needles and knit me a brain!

I’ve knitted my bones, and I’ve knitted my brow,
But I’ve never seen brains knitted—up until now;
With each neural pathway a separate skein,
It’s Art and it’s Science, so knit me a brain!

Two hemispheres knit, and then reaching across ‘em
A beautiful, zippered-up corpus callosum;
Such fine application of knit, purl, and chain,
I want one myself—so please, knit me a brain!

With the brain’s convolutions appropriately gyred
This fabric creation has got me inspired!
My love for this art, I can hardly contain—
So how can I get one? Please knit me a brain!

Some people may tell you I’ve gone ‘round the bend
That the stuff ‘twixt my ears needs some decades to mend.
I could use some new grey-matter; mine’s gone insane,
It would not go to waste, if you’d knit me a brain.

You can see for yourself—why, just look at the time
I must take to obsessively put things to rhyme;
Something’s wrong, and I think that the answer is plain:
I need a replacement—so knit me a brain!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thousands protest Teacher's 15-day sentence

But perhaps not for the reasons you might suspect.

The continuing saga of Gillian Gibbons
(I predict, in a day, they’ll have magnetic ribbons
To “show your support for the naming of bears”)
Has reached a new peak—don’t be caught unawares.
When the teacher was sentenced to prison this week
Some protesters gathered in Khartoum to speak;
Thought I, “they must see that this sentence is wrong,
And they’re all coming out, in a mass, thousands strong,
To rail at an outcome they see as too strict,
And move that the Judge, right away, interdict!
But no. I was wrong. All the protesting masses
Had gathered together to prove themselves asses;
A fifteen day sentence? Why, that isn’t squat—
These protesters demand that Ms. Gibbons be shot!
They demand execution by firing squad;
It’s the right thing to do, and the True Will Of God.


Islam is, they say, a religion of peace;
Our attacks on their honor are wrong, and should cease.
To probe this mob’s sanity surely is slander,
We all must admit, if we’re speaking with candor.
To call them extremists, or radical nuts,
Is simply insulting—no ifs, ands, or buts.
It seems when these rioters look in the mirror
They only see goodness—it couldn’t be clearer.
To call for the death of this teacher is brave;
It’s the way that the Prophet, himself, would behave.
So you see, this is peaceful, they calmly explain.
And it makes perfect sense.*

*if you’re bat-shit insane.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Losing the Name Game

I mentioned the name game in a previous post. The bad news, of course, is that Gillian Gibbons played the Name Game... and lost. She has been sentenced to 15 days in jail. And this is considered lenient--she could have received 40 lashes. Yes, 40 lashes. Yes, in 2007.

Now, I'm not the sort that bashes
a religion "just because".
But the sentence "Forty Lashes"
Gives the average person pause.

When a teacher names a Teddy
Bear "Muhammad", and is jailed,
Then the Cuttlefish stands ready
To declare "Your system's failed."

If the naming of a Teddy Bear
Means this (or any) length
Of prison term, just be aware:
I doubt Muhammad's strength.

If Allah's Greatest Prophet
Finds this teacher in the wrong,
We're justified to scoff at
Him--in poetry or song.

Muhammad's weakness is a flaw--
Sudan cannot be trusted--
I don't feel worship, trust, or awe,
I simply feel disgusted.

They had the chance to do it right
To let this teacher go;
From where I sit, Sudan tonight
Is lowest of the low.

My little voice will not be heard
They'll stick with what they're doing;
The rules have changed, though--mark my word--
The whole world, now, is viewing.

A song for the season

Said the Little Boy to the Working Mom
Do you see what I see?
Cable channel three-seventeen—
Do you see what I see?
A toy! A toy! A laser-action gun
It will bring me hours of fun
It will bring me hours of fun!

Said the Working Mom to the Absent Dad
Do you hear what I hear?
Listen to your son, Absent Dad
Do you hear what I hear?
Your kid! Your kid! Is driving me insane
And your check is late once again
And your check is late once again!

Said the Absent Dad to the Learned Judge
Do you know what I know?
Sitting on your bench, Learned Judge
Do you know what I know?
My job! My job! Was outsourced to Bhopal
Now I have no money at all
Now I have no money at all!

Said the Learned Judge to the President
Do you see what I see?
On your Crawford ranch, President—
Do you see what I see?
The time, the time, for posturing is past
We must all do something, and fast
We must all do something, and fast!

Said the Prez, to the People Everywhere
Listen to what I say!
Go and shop, People Everywhere!
Listen to what I say!
Just swipe your card, and don’t forget your PIN
You must shop like thrift is a sin!
If you don’t, the Terrorists win!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Name Game

Ok, maybe you want to be a bit more careful when you are naming your stuffed animals. I'm sure you have heard by this point about Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after her class voted to name their teddy bear Muhammad.

BBC News is discussing the rules about what can and cannot be named after whom.
The issue has been a vexed one for Muslims through the ages. Some believe that the name can only be given to boys - to give it to an object is idolatry. Others say that pets and toys can bear the name.


Dilwar Hussain, of the Islamic Foundation, has no problem with a teddy bear called Muhammad. For some years, the Islamic Society sold a soft toy made for British Muslim children named Adam the Prayer Bear. "Adam is also the name of a Prophet."

They named their bear Muhammad,
And their teacher was arrested;
Religious views around the world
Are sorely being tested.

It's cool to name a pit-bull
After Odin, Zeus, or Thor;
A fuzzy little kitten
Aphrodite--and what's more,

If you search the pets in lands
From Argentina to Moldova
I suspect you'll find a turtle
That's called Yahweh or Jehovah.

An octopus named Kali?
I'm sure someone's been enticed;
And the lizard called the Basilisk
Is nicknamed Jesus Christ.

There is one that's so ubiquitous
It's overlooked--how odd.
Imaginary friends, across
The planet, are called "God".

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Squidmas Carol

Now... I am not, technically, a fan of Squidmas; I have always preferred the more inclusive Cephalopodmas, myself. But some shiftless bum who goes by the name "shiftlessbum" asked nicely, on Pharyngula, if I could "pen a Squidmas carol". So here is the first.

First thing--it is not a poem, it is a song; if you expect the meter to be precise, you will be disappointed. I assure you, though, that it is quite singable (and would work with either a guitar or a banjo accompaniment, or perhaps a jug band). I had listened to Roy Zimmerman's Christmas album "Peacenick" earlier today (don't wait--click the link, go listen to the samples and buy some of his music!), so there may be a bit of that influence there... but the song that really came to mind as a model was Alex Bevan's "Have another laugh on Cleveland blues" (from the days when Dennis Kucinich was known as the young Mayor of Cleveland). So this is not a terribly traditional Squidmas song, but more of a rollicking fun bit of honkytonk. Oh... and in case you didn't know, a "radula" is the rasp-like tongue-equivalent that most mollusks use to kinda sorta grind their food to pieces. Just... don't tell Freud. Anyway, although it is tongue-like, you could not (or rather, a cephalopod could not--I rather doubt that you are a cephalopod) use it to sing "fa-la-la".

Edit: Ok, not honkytonk. The tune has been brainworming me all day, and it is most decidedly a New Orleans Jazz arrangement... think Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The lineup with the tuba, not the string bass. And a bit slower than I had first envisioned it. But damn, it is good! If any jazz bands happen to read this blog, have your people call my people.

A Squidmas Carol

It was late December, down in the bathysphere,
And the holiday spirit was anywhere but here.
Half a mile down it’s as black as ink
No room to move, but there’s time to think
How I miss, how I miss that topside squidmas cheer!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

Every night down here is a silent, silent night
And I’m glad the doors and windows are closed real tight
There’s a noise on the roof, but I know the truth is
It’s the long, long arms of the architeuthis
No sled, no reindeer, no reason for delight…

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

But then, out the window, a shape catches my eye
It’s jeweled squid—histioteuthis—swimming by
And I think to my self “well, ain’t this grand,
It’ll never ever ever be seen on land.”
And I know for a fact, I’m a lucky, lucky guy!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

As I gaze out through three inches of fused quartz glass
At the strange and beautiful creatures as they pass
I know, half a mile down in the deep blue sea
Is the only place in the world for me
And that fat old bearded elf can kiss my ass!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

You can keep your sled and your eight tiny reindeer
It’s squidmastime in my tiny bathysphere
You can envy me in your world above
‘Cos I’m spending squidmas in the place I love
Merry Squidmas, and a wonderful New Year!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Estro-Blaster, Help Me!

Another comment on Pharyngula... Seems the Estro-Blaster people are preying on men's insecurities to sell snake-oil. (Freudian imagery intended.)

There is something in the waters
That can turn my sons to daughters?
I’m so happy that this flyer came to tell me of this fact!
Every smoothie that we’ve blendered
Means they’re halfway to transgendered!
Every second now is precious—it is time for us to act!

Time to panic, and I’m thinking
That the water I’ve been drinking
Is a chemical castration, and a feminazi plan!
I drink water like Niagara
As I wash down my Viagra;
Now I see why it’s not working, and I’m still a little man.

Time to buy some Estro-Blaster
And to hope the mail comes faster—
‘Cos I’m worried that perhaps it may already be too late:
I’m not thinking with my penis,
I’ve abandoned Mars for Venus—
And I find I’m moody, ‘bout a week before I menstruate.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Your thoughts?

Coturnix has asked (here) for me to submit one or more of these verses to the Science Blogging Anthology. If any readers have favorites they would like to lobby for, I would appreciate any feedback at all; I do not consider myself to be a particularly good judge of my verse.

And if you have no comments on that in particular, feel free to say hi anyway! I think you need a blogger account to comment, but they are free and simple, so come on in, the water's fine!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

creationist museums

I took a walk through time and space—
Through several million years—
I found that some things never change,
Or that’s how it appears.
Stupidity’s a constant
(Hey, I call ‘em as I see ‘em);
I noted Man’s is not the sole
Creationist Museum.
Seems everywhere I looked around
In present or in past,
I found museums touting God—
And all of them half-assed.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
Or find them each defective;
Each species must be Number One
When seen from their perspective.

The early primates said:

God created Lemurs, and
The world was truly blest;
“Descent of Man” is apropos—
He’s clearly second best.
The perfect form’s arboreous,
As anyone can tell
When apes descended from the trees
Things really went to Hell.

The early tetrapods said:

Acanthostaga sits supreme
As God’s most perfect beast;
To get from them to humankind
Just go from best to least.
Look inside our holy books
And find revealed—the Flood;
God’s favorite creatures, thus, must live
In water and in mud.

The early chordates said:

God created Amphioxus,
Perfectly designed.
Mutations and deformities,
And now we have Mankind.
With notochord, pharyngeal slits,
Their form is most divine
Then vertebrates just messed it up
And now they have a spine.

The prokaryotes said:

The truly blest bacterium
God’s chosen form of life
With billions of them in the gut
Of Adam and his wife.
The heaven-blessed prokaryote
Is God’s Most Perfect Form,
And mammals are just one more way
To keep us nice and warm.

An Atheist Gives Thanks

It's late November, time for giving thanks--
But thanks to whom? For me, this question ranks
Among the more important we can ask;
To answer, I've assigned myself the task.
Tradition holds we should give thanks to God.
In fact, your average person finds it odd
That anyone would even think to question
Whom to thank--but still, my bold suggestion:
Thank the ones who really did the stuff
That God gets credit for. There are enough
Deserving people we can thank, without
Inventing gods to steal their praise or pout.
"Thank God for all the bread we have to eat."
Instead, I'll thank the ones who grew the wheat,
And ground the flour, baked and sold the bread;
Why God, when I can thank these folks instead?
(Is God behind it all? I rather doubt;
So many other farmers suffered drought,
And watched their crops disintegrate to dust;
A God like this is not one I would trust.)
"Thank God my sister's cancer's in remission!"
Absolutely not. With no contrition,
Thanks go out to doctors, and to nurses,
To those who opened up their hearts and purses,
Friends who volunteered their time to cook,
Or feed her cats, or bring a favorite book
For her to read. Oh, yes, and thanks
To perfect strangers who gave blood--the banks
Would not be there without your precious gift;
By thanking God, we're giving you short shrift.
I'm thankful to (not for) the ones who taught
Her doctors what they know. I also ought
To thank those who invented the machines--
Like X-rays, MRI's--that gave the means
To find the lump before it was too late.
It's people whom I thank. Not God. Not fate.
"Thank God for soldiers fighting in Iraq,
And keep them safe from enemy attack."

Remember that they're fighting those who kill
Because they disagree about God's will.
If anything, this God should take the blame
For all the crimes committed in His name.
I do give thanks to soldiers--to, not for--
Their sacrifice--not God's--the cost of war.
"I'm thankful for my friends, both near and far."
I'm thankful to you--you know who you are--
For being there at 2 AM to talk,
For movies, beers, for joining me to walk
Along the beach to watch the rising tide
And setting sun compete--which one would hide
Our footprints first? We stayed to watch the moon
Rise over silver waves--then left, too soon.
I can't thank God for that, when it was you
Who made it such a lovely thing to do.

I could go on, and fill a book or two
With thanks. I won't, 'cos this will do.
One more is all--if you have read this far
Then thanks to you, no matter who you are,
For reading. Let me leave you with a thought:
This Thanksgiving, thank the ones we ought;
Thank your friends and family--those you love,
Before you thank some made-up God above.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Rain in Plains Stays Mainly Away from the Insane

"Dispatches from the culture wars" reports on the success of the pray-for-rain campain in Georgia.

When God said it's a sin to take your Saviour's Name in vain
That applied to silly selfishness like public prayers for rain.
If mortal I can see through this, then God can ascertain
The inherent self-aggrandizing political campaign.
When the pastors, priests, and politicians joined in one refrain
Asking God to drop some water on this bit of his domain
(Having checked the weather channel--they're not totally insane--
To determine if their gamble had a decent chance at gain)
Then the Governor emoted--see his face contort and strain,
Till the casual observer might suspect he'd popped a vein
In a deep, important crevice in some structure in his brain;
And then one by one the ministers would join the daisy-chain,
With their practised voices, sonorous, impeccable sustain,
The sort of voice that speaking from a pulpit can attain,
And spoke until each had his turn, and no one did remain
Then waited for Almightly God their pleas to entertain.

Their aim was true, but God's was not--I really should explain--
A quarter inch in Georgia, but there's flooding up in Maine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Life's a Bitch (and then you marry one)

From the BBC, a story about a man's marriage to a female dog. (There is a brief video of the ceremony, too.)
An Indian man has "married" a female dog, hoping the move will help atone for stoning two other dogs to death.
P Selvakumar, 33, said he had been cursed since the killings, suffering paralysis and a loss of hearing.

The wedding took place at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state. The "bride" wore an orange sari with a flower garland and was fed a bun to celebrate.

Superstitious people in rural India sometimes organise weddings to animals in the hope of warding off curses.

I offer the happy couple a toast:

Though it's baseless superstition that has led to your position,
I sincerely hope the two of you are happy as can be.
Yes, the way is sometimes stony on the path of matrimony
You consulted an astrologer--how dare I disagree?

No I will not choose to quibble--let your bride wolf down her kibble
With the absolute support of all your family and friends.
And I hope you're feeling better, and that every time you pet her
You'll remember why you did this--you are making your amends.

I wish multitudes of smiles, in both Man and Doggy styles
Let the others wag their tongues--the two of you can wag your tails.
It was beautiful, not kitschy, though the bride was rather bitchy
In a world of mass conformity, it's nice when love prevails.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

That damned prayer for rain.

Church? State? Oh, never mind...

What if God listens to some other voice?
What if God thinks we are jerks?
What if God, given unlimited choice,
Decides to do some other works?

What if the faithful were not gathered here?
What if the faithful were mute?
What if the faithful, though truly sincere,
Have given these bastards the boot?

What if the clouds simply didn't respond?
What if the clouds didn't care?
What if the clouds saw completely beyond
The pretense of a self-serving prayer?

What if there isn't a God there at all?
What if it's all up to us?
What if the truth is, we stand or we fall
By ourselves, and it's always been thus?

What if humanity finally sees?
What if we finally act?
What if starvation, drought, and disease
Were addressed, instead of attacked?

What if we finally act on our own?
What if we do what we can?
What if, because we now know we're alone,
We achieve the potential of Man?

(yeah, the last line is sexist--sue me; it rhymed.)

Kitzmiller v. Dover

I am writing this while watching, so I apologize for the incompleteness of my verse. It cannot, within the timeframe I would like, adequately address this wonderful program. Full Disclosure: I watched the trial as it progresseed, and read the transcripts as soon as they were made available; my verse here cannot possibly be the product of tonight's show and nothing else.

I am, of course, speaking of today's NOVA program about the Kitzmiller v. Dover "Panda Trial". NOVA's program is very well done. Nobody is belittled, nobody is made fun of...but nobody is let off the hook. Kudos to PBS for this program.

It's not a polished verse, but anyway...

Though the trial is two years over, we once more revisit Dover
Where I.D., no more in clover, gets to hang its head in shame.
They all know about Miranda rights, have read their propaganda,
Largely thanks to them, the “Panda Trial” has since become its name

The attempted execution of the thought of evolution—
Well, good thing the constitution has a First Amendment Clause
No establishing religion as state-sponsored—not a smidgen,
But creationists’ clay pigeon was flung up to test the laws.

Wait—“creationist”? Let’s edit, and forget we ever said it
From now on, no God—we’ll credit some “intelligent design”.
Take the book, and cut and paste, look all innocent and chaste,
If we’re properly two-faced, then everything will turn out fine.

In a science education, by the laws of our great nation
There’s no room to teach creation, so that isn’t what they tried;
I.D. theory’s new position is a fossil in transition—
No God there, by definition (well, there is, but it’s denied).

Evolution’s only theory—wait right there; I know you’re leery,
But although you may grow weary, there’s a point I have to make:
Theory, see, in terms of science, means remarkable compliance
With the evidence; reliance on which isn’t a mistake.

See, Your Honor, see us pledging that we’re telling truth, not hedging,
Doctor Forrest says we’re wedging, but she’s biased, don’t you know?
But the trails of cut-and-pasting are quite clear. Now time’s a-wasting
And that bitterness you’re tasting? That’s the taste of “time to go”.

When Buckingham requested science texts that had been tested
And were legal, one suggested text was “Pandas”, so it seems.
The Thomas More Law Center had decided they would enter
(Both as lawyer and as mentor) to the district of their dreams.

There’s no question that “Kitzmiller versus Dover” was a thriller
When a witness who’s the pillar of the church once took the stand,
Testimony he provided, well, Judge Jones himself decided
Was much more than just one-sided, but a lie that he had planned

The bacterial flagellum—irreducible? Yes! (Well, um,
Close enough that we can tell ‘em that it must have been designed.)
If one protein is subtracted, function surely is impacted
Yes, the battle is protracted, but God’s fate is intertwined!

Many lies had been related, both explicit and unstated;
In his comments, Jones berated the defendants for their acts.
For religion to be winning, if it took a little spinning
Can you really say it’s sinning if you simply change the facts?

…and the fall-out? I suppose, at least it didn’t come to blows,
And the trial did expose a very real and potent threat;
When it suits their own desires, the religious can be liars
When it comes to setting fires, that is one we can’t forget.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Noah's Flood, or God Passes The Buck.

Two children, playing silly games--
One of them is winning.
God decides to kill them both
'Cos having fun is sinning.

Time to quickly learn to swim--
It's not enough to wade,
'Cos God is going to clean up
All the messes that He made.

It's not the children's fault at all
What happens on this day;
But God is great, and God is good,
And someone's got to pay.

From Greg Laden's Blog.

Cuttlefish in Genesis

So I was ego-surfing, and basking in all the wonderful cephalopoddity that comes with being a cuttlefish, when I happened upon a delightful little piece on cuttlefish, written by those helpful and friendly people at Answers in Genesis. Sure, the article was a few years old, but it was the first I had seen it, and it did say some nice things about cuttlefish. I mean, look—“The world’s oceans are filled with amazingly complex creatures, perhaps none more so than the cuttlefish.” I would be hard pressed to disagree.

The essay begins by reminding us of how strange cuttlefish may appear upon casual observation: “With green blood, three hearts, and able to change colour in a flash, it sounds like a ‘weird aliens’ movie creature.” All true, of course—but in case you were thinking that cuttlefish might prove a problem for creationist apologists, they are quick to point out how the adorable, intelligent cephalopods are here to serve mankind: “Actually, the cuttlefish is a seafood delicacy.


You might think that AIG would do their level best to ignore cuttlefish, but no! In this “weird alien”, they find evidence of Intelligent Design! (Oh, wait, this is AIG—I can actually call it “creationism” here.)

The cuttlefish also has eyes which are similar in construction to human eyes, but evolutionists do not believe it has any direct evolutionary relationship to humans (i.e. there is no possible ancestor to both cuttlefish and humans which could have had such an eye). So this similarity is explained away as ‘convergent evolution’: the eyes of the cuttlefish and other cephalopods ‘evolved independently’ to humans. In other words, it is simply an evolutionary coincidence.

However, the similarity in the design of both the cuttlefish and human eye is easily explained—they had the same Designer! The origins of the amazing features of the cuttlefish can be more easily explained if we accept it as just another miraculous example of the work of the Creator.

Pah! Enough prose—my point is….

Similarity shows that a common designer
With similar blueprints and parts
Constructed the human and cuttlefish forms—
I swear by all three of your hearts.

The God who created the heavens and earth
And killed dinosaurs off in The Flood
Used the same old ideas again and again
You can tell by your copper-green blood.

But the clearest, most obvious clue to His Touch
Is the similar form to our eye
(They are really quite different, in various ways,
But if you won’t tell, neither will I).

Color-blind cuttlefish never see red
But they can see polarized light;
This common designer gets different effects
Out of human and cuttlefish sight.

Anatomically, too, these are two different eyes
They have retinas frontward-to-back,
And cuttlefish reshape the whole of their eye
Because shapeable lenses they lack.

The shape of the pupil allows them to see
To the front and the rear all at once
So similar, clearly, to what we can do—
If you dare disagree, you’re a dunce!

When Answers in Genesis says it’s design
And not just a matter of fitness
I know they’re not fibbing—right there, number nine—
Thou shalt not bear false witness.

I only have one little, lingering doubt
Though I really, I promise, am trying—
If it’s perfectly clear they see common design
It’s even more clear that they’re lying.

Friday, November 09, 2007

New and Improved Ancient Technology!

Respectful Insolence reports on an ancient, historic health product--basically, two cylinders, one of copper, one of zinc, that you hold (one in each hand). Yup.

I have improved on the idea.

This ancient pharmacology has long since proved its worth;
It’s the finest panacea in the history of earth.
Two simple metal cylinders can cure all of your ills—
So much better than injections; much more natural than pills!

But I’ve found a better system—I’ve improved upon their wand;
I’ve discovered new technology that lets me go beyond!
It’s a cure for diabetes; it’s a cure for aching feet
It’s a cure for halitosis, and that burning in your seat
It alleviates the symptoms of the flu and common cold
If you follow the instructions, it’s a cure for growing old!
It will tighten up your fanny, smooth the wrinkles on your skin,
And you’ll instantly feel better from the moment you begin!
What’s the closely-guarded secret? Well, you know I cannot say,
But you’re only growing older every moment you delay
There’s no need to spend your life in needless misery, alone,
When a cure is just a call away—so just pick up the phone!

You are now the happy owner of a marvelous device
Read and follow all instructions—you don’t want to do this twice.
The rods the ancient Pharaohs used (of copper and of zinc)
Were truly beneficial, but they also made us think:
If we mix the two together, will the alloy work as well?
We didn’t know, but clearly, an experiment would tell.
Through the miracle of science, our experiment confirms
That the wand that you have purchased will eliminate your germs;
If you use it as directed, we can gladly guarantee
(Or return for price of purchase, less a small restocking fee)
That wherever, on the road of life, your circumstances find you,
Our wand will let you always know, your worries are behind you.
Instructions: take the wand, all seven inches, gleaming brass,
And gently, but completely, shove the whole thing up your ass.

Fight! Fight!

Another of the comments on Pharyngula that I had not planned on posting here.

The context: a hissy-fit slapfight amongst competing blogs.  You've probably seen it before--one blogger says something about another, and before you know it, people all over the world are puffing out their chests from the safety of their computer keyboards, calling one another out, extolling the virtues of their own side and enumerating the evils of the other.  Sometimes the exact same behavior seen as a virtue among one's colleagues is a shocking violation of all that is good in humanity when seen in one's opponents.  Our side has intelligent independent thinkers, who happen to agree on this issue because we have been convinced by the data; your side has fawning sycophants, following your leader's whims like some misguided cult.

This particular case study is here.  I had thought I was late to the party; my comment is #183.  As of this writing, though, there are 398 comments posted (update: 400).  There are probably Vegas odds by now as to what the number will be by the time the sun goes supernova.

I have looked six ways from Sunday, and I hope that maybe one day
I'll discover just the evidence to put him in his place;
'Til that marvelous occasion, I'm contented with invasion--
I can comment in the blogosphere and rub it in his face.
I will taunt that bastard PZ, and I think it should be easy;
I've a strategy, dependent on the form of his reply--
He ignores me, he is yellow; he attacks, why then, the fellow
Who invites me to "fuck off" is not a scientific guy.
I will hold him to my standard, and complain that he has pandered
To his suck-ups who, predictably, will praise his every word.
Though my own world-view is vile, if he disagrees? "Denial!"
(Let's conveniently ignore that my position is absurd.)
I don't mean to be so rude, sir, but no matter what, you're screwed, sir--
Our opinions are in concrete, there's no way that they will change;
Once a world-view is cemented, doesn't matter what's presented,
If you disagree with what I think the truth is, you are strange.
If you stick it out, you're bitter; if you leave, then you're a quitter,
If you claim that you are busy, I will simply roll my eyes.
We all have our weak and strong points, good and bad and right and wrong points--
We all play to our advantage: you know science. I know lies.

Flew, away.

I wasn't going to post this one here, because it is really a comment, in a particular context, on pharyngula.  But then I thought... "what if the internets catch fire, and the science blogs burn down?  Shouldn't I archive it somewhere?"  So anyway, here it is.  

The context is, the philosopher Anthony Flew is... well... past his peak, mentally, and some creationists have taken advantage of his incapacity to enlist his support.  Problem is, as this post on pharyngula notes, Flew has some skeletons in his closet that the creationists might not want associated with them.  Well, not so directly, anyway.  Thus, my comment:

Though Flew won over the cuckoo's nest
Well after his mind was at his best,
I think it is worth noting:
Before one offers one's support
It's wise to wait for full report
Of what Flew is promoting.

There seems to be some evidence
That Flew was, in a proper sense,
Supportive of eugenics;
Attempts to take his words, and mold
Some other version to behold
Are verbal calisthenics.

Creationists may want to see
Philosophers in company
(They act as if enchanted!).
But don't complain that life's unfair--
When you make wishes, best beware--
Your wishes may be granted.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Freud would call it Castration Anxiety

It's that old familiar story--cretinist mocks legitimate scientist, not because of her work, but because she's... a she. Here, originally,
then here.

No surprise that “doctor” Behe
(*snorfle* *chuckle* *giggle* *tee-hee*)
Will belittle, mock, misrepresent
The actions of a female

For since the time of Adam
Men could rib each miss or madam
And with Freudian analysis
Conclude they want to be male

Now he tries to bore and tire us
With a rant about a virus
That he clearly doesn’t comprehend
(one wonders if he can)

What I guess I really mean is
He is thinking with his penis
I suppose it’s too important that
He shows that he’s The Man.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cute, cute, cute...

The cutest of all of the cephalopods
(And thus, of all creatures on Earth)
Is the cuttlefish, cuter by staggering odds
Than a puppy or kitten at birth.
Attempting to list all the cuttlefish charms
Is a noble, though hopeless, endeavor;
From their tails, to their eyes, to their marvelous arms--
And they’re oh-so-endearingly clever!
The shifting displays their chromatophores show
Are delightful to watch, don’t you think?
And like every good poet, wherever they go
They will never forget to bring ink.
The award for “the cutest” is one they will keep;
Let me say it direct, and not subtle--
Beauty, they say, is only skin-deep
But cuteness goes clear to the cuttle.

Posted as a comment on Pharyngula

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DI speak with forked tongue...

So, PZ reports that the Discovery Institute people are shocked--shocked, I tell you--that Ben Stein and Bill O'Reilly think that Intelligent Design requires the intervention of a deity. Could it be that they want it both ways? "If you believe in God, then goddiddit. If you don't, the theory makes no claims at all about the 'intelligence' involved."


The Disco folks, with gaiety
Deny that there’s a Deity
That sparks the spontaneity
Of origin of life.

They swear it’s based on evidence—
Objectively it all makes sense;
The problem is that this pretense
Is quite a two-edged knife.

In truth, behind the smiles
And the vehement denials
(Though they won’t hold up in trials
They’re the only thing they’ve got)

Is the fact that certain tribal
Myths, collected as “the Bible”
Are (on punishment of libel)
The foundation of their plot.

And whenever they talk science,
How they’re fully in compliance,
They are risking their alliance
With their fundamental base

To retain the congregation
They use double-conversation
One that’s broadcast to the nation—
Quite another, face-to-face.

Now, this double-speak position
Is a recent acquisition
But it placates opposition
So no worries—problem solved.

By this gradual correction,
It appears, upon reflection,
That through natural selection
Their two faces have evolved

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just like it says in Genesis

Stranger Fruit reports that 60% of adult Americans report that they believe the biblical story of Genesis to be literally true.

Note--I say that they report this, not that they believe this. I am firmly of the conviction that the vast majority of those who report that they believe the Bible to be literally true have never actually read it. I am fully aware that there are people--good people--who have read the entire thing many times and still believe it to be true....but in a random sample of only 1000 adults over the age of 18, the odds are against those good, well-read people skewing this poll.

No, the people polled are very likely those who "know the Bible" the same way grade-schoolers know the opposite sex: from what they hear from equally ignorant peers. And the sort of information they get?

I believe that God wants “Adams and Eves”,
But never “Adams and Dennises”
And when people get married, then nobody leaves—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I believe that dragons once roamed the Earth
True fire-breathing menaces;
And a fetus has rights, right up until birth—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I believe that global warming is wrong
Just look what a beauty Venice is;
And Bill O’Reilly is handsome and strong—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I admit that I haven’t quite read the whole thing;
It’s as boring as amateur tennis is.
But Bush is my President, Jesus my King—
Just like it says in Genesis.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Talk to the tentacle...

Pharyngula shows cephalopods some love...
...but maybe sometimes we crave a little respect and...yes...fear.

Oh, the cephalopods have their Octopus Gods,
With tentacles stronger than steel,
Who have taken down ships with their powerful grips
And made many a sailor a meal.

They win wrestling matches with submarine hatches
Like popping a tin of sardines
Then it’s horrible cries, and tears in the eyes
Of the witnessing Merchant Marines.

Survivers are few, but they swear it is true—
“The monster, it started to throttle us!”
You can vividly note, from the scar on his throat
He survived the attack on the Nautilus.

These powerful deities loves spontaneity,
Thus, are well-loved by their followers
Who all serve as one, having octopus fun
Whether tiny, or submarine-swallowers

When I tell you (no lie) that the octopus eye
Is superior even to Man’s
It’s clear that this creature’s the centerpiece feature
In a sinister deity’s plans

They’ll take down a shark, like a walk in the park—
You’ve seen it on YouTube, I know
And to get to their goal they can squeeze through a hole,
Up the drain, in your tub, to your toe!

So guzzle your Folger’s—these octopus soldiers
Are coming for you while you sleep!
These eight-legged beauties will all do their duties;
Invisible devils, they creep.

So the next time you think, “could one hide in my sink?
Or my bathtub, or even my toilet?”
As a Cuttlefish, I would be seen as a spy
If I told you (besides, that would spoil it).

If you find an appeal in an octopus meal—
Say, for sushi you’ve got a real itch—
The cephalopods have their Octopus Gods
And I’m telling you, payback’s a bitch.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

cellular excerpt

In every cell, the means of replication,
Monomers (they’re termed “nucleotides”)
A sugar and a base in combination
Link in helix, forming side by side;
Guanine will attach to cytosine
Always “G to C” or “C to G”
And thymine will as well, to adenine
With “T to A” or maybe “A to T”
The polymer called DNA is made
By adding monomers onto the end.
In living cells, a template strand will aid
The synthesis—the two strands now will bend
In double helix form, as we have seen.
The information carried in this strand
Will be transcribed by RNA; it’s been
Discovered that this process has a hand
In synthesizing proteins—but that’s still
To come—for now, we take a closer look
And see thymine replaced by uracil;
A slightly different way to write our book.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The one-eyed...nevermind...

At one time or other, each sister and brother
Has pondered the musical question
(The topic’s not easy, just take it from PZ):
How an eyeball is like an erection.

The answers may vary—be skeptically wary—
Like “Both can display your affection.”
Well, so can a rose, but that doesn’t disclose
How an eyeball is like an erection.

Perhaps evolution provides a solution
Both organs arise through selection
But so, then, do fingers; the question still lingers
How an eyeball is like an erection.

We may hope to deduce, if we try to reduce
To a chemical sort of connection
But will “similar stuff” prove an answer enough
How an eyeball is like an erection?

Nitric Oxide (you know, you can call it NO)
Causes GuMP to take up a collection
So that GuMP, for a lark, keeps your dick “in the dark”
Thus an eyeball is like an erection

Reproductive success got us into this mess
So it might get us out, on reflection—
But Viagra, we find, is not blindly designed
We distinguish both eye and erection.

With both vision and hearing, the answers are nearing
(Although we can’t hope for perfection),
And for now it’s just fine as a bad pick-up line:
How an eyeball is like an erection.*

(*answer: “It’s an empirical question—let’s experiment, and find out.)

Pharyngula asks the question...
...based on effectmeasure's post.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Templeton has no purpose

The question of the universe’s purpose, whether posed vocally or in text,
Leaves people vexed.

Although, I would not be averse
To studying the purpose, characteristics, ins and outs of Miss Universe.

So, rather than debating whether or not a black hole is evidence of Where God Went Wrong,
I can see whether Miss Brazil or Miss Argentina looks better in a thong.

So that I can get back to the business of inspecting the finest examples of female form in the human race,
I will suggest that the purpose of the universe is: to take up space.

"No purposes but those we create" on Pharyngula

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sign me up!

Denyse O'Leary is teaching Intelligent Design?

When I start to grow weary of Mrs. O’Leary
I think she takes pity on me.
As a sign of affection, she changes direction—
A brand-new performance to see!

I’ll get myself, pronto, right up to Toronto,
Enroll myself into her class
With God as my buddy, I’ll sit there and study
Whatever she pulls from her ass.

Her guest speaker, Behe (just hear the class tee-hee),
Will make irreducible claims
(If you point out one blunder, it all falls asunder—
Add drinking, and now you’ve got games!)

In the syllabus—wait, is there really debate?—
It says both sides bring science to bear;
But the insider rap says it’s “God of the gaps”
And frankly, I really don’t care.

See, I know in my heart, it’s not science, it’s art
And Denyse does interpretive dance.
And yes, she is lying, but, Lord, she is trying
Her best, by design or by chance.

But wait! Someone said it would not count for credit?
Does UT admit this is shit?
With no compensation, no change of location
For Cuttlefish—sorry, that’s it.

Plot synopsis

Pharyngula reports on the movie "Einstein Wrong"...

Albert Einstein (that poseur) was wrong;
The housewife, of course, has it right.
The film clearly shows that stupidity flows
Just a little bit faster than light.

With the “dark side of physics” exposed
And the world once again seen as flat
The film next unlocks Dr. Schroedinger’s box
And discovers what’s up with his cat.

Joseph Priestly was also a fraud—
There’s no “oxygen”—perish the thought!
And with oxygen pissed on, it’s time that phlogiston
Is once again what kids are taught.

The de Hilsters’ new paradigm shift—
“The new physics”, we call it at work—
Shows a housewife can still, through the sheer force of will,
Kick the ass of a dumb patent clerk.

You may all disagree if you wish;
You may find it a little bit funny
But the most crucial part—from the depths of my heart…
Won’t you please send us lots of your money?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Version 2.7

The "cognitive daily" blog asks: Will humans marry robots in 50 years?


She’s my little bit of heaven, even better than real life,
She’s the version 2.7 motor-actuated wife.
When I come home from the office, she’s a sympathetic ear,
With the faintest scent of silicone I catch as we draw near.
“Here, let me take your papers, Hon, and let me rub your back;
You must have had a stressful day—come on, let’s hit the sack.”
Her lips are warm and supple, with a kiss that shows desire—
A brilliant application of a bit of memory wire.
She trembles gently at my touch, as strain-gauge sensors feel,
And as she starts to moan and gasp, you’d swear that she was real.
But she’s better than a flesh-and-blood—For one thing, she has codes
Allowing me to choose from seventeen vibration modes!
She never has a headache; there’s no in-laws to avoid;
Heck, I’ve never even had the need to change a solenoid!
She’s my little bit of heaven, even better than real life,
She’s the version 2.7 motor-actuated wife.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Rainbows and Rubies...

Once upon a time, the rainbow’s end
Is where a leprechaun would hide his gold
Then Newton showed us how a glass would bend
A beam of light—a rainbow we behold!

This bending light is what allows, today,
A view of distant galaxies and more
The start of time itself is on display
And lifetimes’ worth of treasures to explore.

These treasures, it now seems, include real jewels
When quasar jets spit rubies and sapphires;
From Newton’s prism, oh what wondrous tools
Expose a treasure passing all desires

The rainbow’s gold’s forgotten; this is real:
A myth discarded, treasures may reveal!

Inspired by
This blogpost at Cat Dynamics

Lines on the return of Polio

Link to "insolence"

I wrote this one a while ago, but the above blog entry reminded me of it.

Lines on the return of Polio

A mother, doing what she thinks is right
Believes the lies and chooses now to fight;
She will not vaccinate. She is too young;
How quickly we forgot the iron lung.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Much Ado About...The Brain?

"I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest."
Much Ado, IV.i.284-285

A student at Pharyngula asks "why do we still talk about the heart?"

The sound of your voice thrills my temporal lobe,
My occipital swoons at your sight;
When we walk hand in hand, my parietal and
My prefrontal are filled with delight.

My thalamus and hypothalamus know,
Without anyone having to tell ‘em,
That I’m head over heels, and it certainly feels
Like I am to my poor cerebellum.

Hippocampally organized memories tell
Of the way people look and admire us;
It’s like walking with god, but that’s really the odd
Way I feel my right angular gyrus.

My amygdala swells with desire for you,
But with rage and fear? Nope, nada.
My pulse will race, and my breath keep pace,
Thanks, medulla oblongata.

Master Shakespeare, speaking through Beatrice, might
Have nearly said it best:
“I love you with so much of my brain
That none is left to protest.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007


It seems that Illinois has legislated a moment of silence. What could be bad about that?

A moment of silence
Does nobody vi’lence,
And offers nobody offense
To cease from the riot—
Have everyone quiet—
They tell me it only makes sense

It’s “time for reflection”;
What sort of objection
Could anyone possibly make?
You just hit the jackpot;
This Cuttlefish crackpot
Will gladly point out your mistake.

So steady, there—steady,
Illinois, see, already
Has silence-by-choice legislated;
This new legislation
To my great frustration
Has school-wide inaction mandated.

Each morn, for one minute,
Each school and all in it
Must sit and do nothing at all
Of course, no distraction,
But also, no action!
And that’s got my back to the wall.

See, I know of the Great
(Well, it was) Prairie State
And I know that the people are strong
And to make them all sit
And refuse to commit
To an action—I see it as wrong.

I beg you, recall
That a minute is all
That it takes for a lot of good deeds
No need to belabor
But helping an neighbor
One minute might meet all his needs.

Or maybe, combine
All the minutes you find
In a classroom, a school, or a county;
The effort, now summed,
Has never been plumbed,
But would yield an incredible bounty.

Imagine the time
Spent in work (not in rhyme)
If one classroom could pool its resources
And one county—one state—
One could hardly debate
The pro-social effect of such forces

But the wise Prairie State,
With the usual debate,
Has decided they somehow know better;
Overcoming a veto
They think it is neato
To redo the law to the letter.

So now, it is clear,
That each student and peer,
In every last one of their classes,
Will take sixty seconds
As anyone reckons
And legally sit on their asses.

And thus, by the powers
Of congressmen, hours
Are wasted in silence each day;
It seems it is lawful,
If perfectly awful,
So long as the students don’t pray.

The scene that’s resulting
Is really insulting
To Atheist and Christian as well;
And now, every morning,
With copious warning,
The state is just going to hell.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

God's Logic

Inspired by Stranger Fruit's post here:

God's Logic

The orbits of the planets
In their paths around the Earth
Are circular--it must be true
If logic has its worth.

The circle, you must understand
Is God's Most Perfect Shape;
If orbits are elliptical,
Why, Man is but an ape.

If circles are God's favorites,
Why not in logic, too?
Assuming your conclusions
Is the Holy thing to do!

When I assume that God exists
And Logic is his tool,
An atheist who tries to use
God's methods is a fool.

When I assume that Logic is
The tool of the devout,
My argument is clear:
IF garbage in, THEN garbage out.

How do I love Thee?

Pharyngula linked to this site--

It is horrid. Utterly horrid. In the way that traffic accidents are horrid, and fascinating, and you cannot look away. The following poem is inspired by one on that site, entitled (no, seriously) "Jesus and I will be very awesome and beautiful". Really.

Mine is just a little bit ... different.

How do I love Thee?

Jesus, Lord, with all my heart
I love Thee more than life
More deeply, from the very start
Than husband’s love for wife.

More deeply than a child’s love
For parent or for pet;
How deep my love, for You above,
Has not been fathomed yet.

There is no sacrifice, I know,
For which I am not willing
There is no place I would not go,
Your love is just so thrilling

It breaks my heart to see you there
Nailed up upon the cross
Those soulful eyes, that tousled hair,
Oh, what an awful loss

If I could hold Thee in my arms,
Annoint Thy wounds with balm;
I’d gladly suffer any harms
To make Your life more calm.

I’d softly stroke Your aching head
Massage Your weary back
I’d lay You gently in my bed
If energy You lack.

I’d kiss Your forehead, then Your lips,
And then Your holy chest—
With lips, and tongue, and fingertips,
I’d do what I do best.

Because I love Thee, O my Lord
I show Thee this affection
And thus, I pray, Your strength restored,
You show Your resurrection

Then fill me with Your love—for I
Am just your humble vessel
And, if you want, then we could try,
For fun, a gentle wrestle.

You know, of course, I’d let you win
You’ll always be on top;
If loving You, Lord, is a sin
I still don’t want to stop.

So Halleluiah! Praise Your Name!
I’m singing (sometimes humming)
The world was blessed when first you came,
And with your second coming.

And I, myself, am doubly blessed
That heaven’s my reward
With all my heart, deep in my breast,
You know I love You, Lord.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kent Hovind--Liar, Lunatic, or...ok, Liar or Lunatic?

Posted on Pharyngula, 10/10

Confined against his will, the liar Kent
Will plead his case online, to one and all;
His mind is, if not broken, clearly bent
(I know; there really wasn't far to fall)

He always claimed to talk to God, but now
He talks with Satan too, about his fate.
If God allowed it, Kent will find out how--
Does prison show God's love, or Satan's hate?

I read his post, and find I wonder why
A man like Hovind, patently unwell,
Is stuck in prison. I think, rather, I
Would have him in a soothing, padded cell.

With anybody else, such rants as his
Would indicate psychosis--no denying--
With Hovind, though, it seems the story is
(Old habits sure die hard) he's simply lying.

Eulogy for Gary Aldridge

Posted on Pharyngula, 10/10/2007

We gather here to eulogize
The Pastor and the Man
Old Gary Aldridge, often wise,
Though not his latest plan.

A member of the Christian nation,
Friend of Jerry Falwell,
His last attempt at masturbation
Didn't go at all well.

For fifteen years, he'd preached the word
A Southern Baptist minister
His death--now, is it just absurd
Or something rather sinister?

How does a person come to wear
Not one wetsuit, but two?
(Although, I know, I should not care
I'm curious--aren't you?)

I tend to think that, years ago,
He spied a rubber glove,
And wondered "Should I--well, you know--
When God and I make love?"

He tried it on, and found a tube,
Half hidden on his shelf,
Of KY--smiled, and murmered "Lube
Thy neighbor as thy self."

And minutes later, hard at work,
He felt a little odd
Was this a sin, or just a quirk?
He talked it out with God.

"Is what I'm doing here a sin?
Or is my pleasure Thine?
Is this as bad as skin on skin?
Lord, please, give me a sign!"

So God produced a pamphlet: "Your
Vacation in Aruba!"
And pointed out--right there, page four--
The wetsuits used for SCUBA

See, God's not really how you think
A deity might be
He's got a wicked bondage kink
(Just ask His son, J. C.)

So Gary died, not steeped in sin
But following God's plan;
So straight to Heaven--come on in!
And bring the wetsuits, man!

A story, sure, but it may yet
Explain what happened then.
The moral is, please don't forget:
Your safeword is "Amen".

Cephalopoetry #2

Also posted Oct 8 on Pharyngula

Architeuthis Double-Dactyl

Haughtily, naughtily
Deep-sea biologists
Claimed "We will never find
Fifty-foot squid!"

Nobody told, though, the
Blissfully ignorant,
That's what he did.

Nautilus Limerick

The nautilus swims back-to front
Which is quite an unusual stunt
But his shell--which is odd
For a cephalopod--
When he bumps into things, bears the brunt!

Cuttlefish Physiology Limerick

Look again, and you might doubt your eyes:
It's the cuttlefish, cloaked in disguise!
As it changes, within
Its remarkable skin
Are chromatophores, changing in size.

Cephalopoetry #1

Posted on Pharyngula, Oct 8

A Cuttlefish Limerick or Three

The cuttlefish: Squid-like, you think?
Just a cephalopod in the drink?
Then you also should know it
Refers to a poet,
Or any who hide in their ink.

For writers who think that they're odd
And ignored, by indifferent God,
Don't allow yourself--perish
The thought, and just cherish
Your label of "Cephalopod"

For today, there will be no rebuttal--
We will celebrate, loud and unsubtle!
Just the same as each squid
And each octopus did,
We'll shake all of our legs, and our cuttle!

A Cuttlefish Double-Dactyl

Inkily, thinkily,
Deepwater cuttlefish
Hide in their ink (to a
Poet, that's odd)

Writing, you see, is not
Part of the life of a