Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Guest Post

Commenter Anfractuous, who has previously shown incredible skill with limericks, provided the following as a comment to my previous post. It is so good, I thought I'd put it here on the front page (since not everyone reads the comments--go figure).

Dear Cuttles,

Of course you’re not moral; that comes from above!
Morality’s only for those those in whose glove
Resides a steel rod that will punish the sin,
Which comes from the garden and now lives within.

It’s true because Satan’s words came first to Eve.
Because she was “woe-man,” the one to believe
That she, in defiance, could just disobey
The Word she’d been giv’n on the very first day.

Because she was uppity, thought she could know
What knowledge of evil and good might bestow
Upon her and Adam, cooped up in that place,
Where only obedience’s choking embrace…

Kept them from knowledge that freedom would bring.
If they used free will, they’d cut God’s puppet string.
The meaning of good or of bad was not given,
So how could she know that from grace they’d be riven?

God made the decision to make us this way,
To give us free will so that we’d disobey.
That way he could punish to His heart’s content,
To show us just what His omnipotence meant!

It’s God’s will that we must conform for all time.
He set up the rules and then watched with sublime,
Sadistic amusement, on seeing us squirm.
He knows how remote our real chance to confirm…

His ridiculous rules that we have to obey.
(Besides, His omniscience predicted we’d play.)
So now, by His Rules, your morality comes
From worship of Him, only under His thumbs.

Good works do not count – they’re from dumb libruls’ minds.
They work only IF abject worship He finds
And then only IF you will also excise
Any thoughts of equality for those other guys…

Who might love the “wrong kind,” or those who might think
That women should be anywhere else but the sink,
Or in a man’s bed, though their bodies are evil.
They’re here for their wombs, (but their minds are medieval.)

If men are allowed to observe female skin,
They’ll turn into beasts (their control is that thin!)
But it’s not the men’s fault. That resides upon her.
It’s her evil skin to which men’s minds refer…

In lust and in sin - but just “boys being boys.”
The female form’s only just one of their toys.
So it’s moral to bomb all those places of sin
Where those evil women “do God’s babies in.”

God loves it when X-tians do mean things to gays,
Or lesbos or libruls - set atheists ablaze.
It’s moral to castigate anyone “other,”
But don’t take our guns or make black folks our brother.

Morality’s not what those atheist folks do.
It only comes from a strict Biblical view.
So now you all know how the God system works
If you have any questions, just ask X-tian jerks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can An Atheist Be Moral?

I don't usually have quarrels
Over where we get our morals
Ah, but every now and then somebody steps beyond the pale.
Once they know that I'm ungodly
They start looking at me oddly
And If I could walk on water, It would be to no avail.

When Katrina brought the flood,
I gave money, time, and blood;
When a local kid was missing, I was there at once to search;
I've sent clothing and supplies
To starving Afghans, but--surprise!--
I am not a moral person, cos I never go to church!

There's no yellow ribbon sticker
On my car, because it's quicker
If I send the funds directly to the folks who need it most.
And I work instead of praying,
So because of this, they're saying
My behavior lacks the guiding hands of Father, Son and Ghost.

When "accepting Christ as savior"--
When belief, and not behavior--
When some obsolete mythology determines what is right,
I could feed the starving masses
Cause the blind to just need glasses
Feed the world on loaves and fishes
Give Aladdin three more wishes
Cure the miseries of lepers
And the myriad twelve-steppers,
Cure Ben Stein of his inanity,
Bring peace to all humanity.....
Am I moral in the eyes of Christianity? ... not quite.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Than Skin Deep...

The New York TImes has a story of the stereoscopic atlas of the human body. With a slide show of some of the images (sadly, not in 3-D). And I am terribly sorry, but the link to the text article is not working for me right now--it is worth the visit, though, on the Science page of the New York TImes online.

Carefully, warefully,
Bassett, anatomist
Dissected bodies and
Prepped their insides

Then called for Gruber, who
Rendered them timeless on
Viewmaster slides.

Beautifully, dutifully,
eHuman industries
Hopes to make public the
Atlas once more;

Wonderful news for the
Students, or those who just
Really like gore.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dinosaurs, Flagella, Jews, and Haeckel (No, Really!)

How wonderful! Somebody actually noticed my little blog, and thought it worthy of commenting, with links and everything, to a whole lot of wishful thinking! For those of you who don’t read comments, just look at the sort of things you might miss! (You might want to fasten your seatbelts--there are some sharp turns ahead.)

Ojalanpoika has left a new comment on your post "Friday Limericks: Expelled!":
Though this comment, of course, is sublime,
It’s not written in meter, nor rhyme
On these threads, it’s the norm
To use limerick form—
But I’ll let you get off, just this time
I wish an analogous documentary film was made concerning the DINOGLYFS or dinolits:

It seems that the ancient man not only saw but also documented the last megafauna (gigafauna, I should say).
”Do you see that cloud, that’s almost in shape like a camel?” HAM, III ii 393

Though it’s common, it nonetheless shocks
When a cloud can look just like a fox
Or a man, in euphoria
Digs up sea-zoria
Dragons where others see rocks

(Among your pictures was an Indian lithograph of a buffalo, labeled as a picture of a triceratops. In the words of Roy Zimmerman, “you can call a toad a cocker spaniel; that won’t warm your heart when he licks your nose.”)

It is absolutely true that if you look for dinosaur pictures, you will find them. What is equally true is that if you look for alternate, non-dinosaur explanations for these pictures, in the artistic traditions of the artists, you will also find those. The moral of the story is, don't stop looking for evidence just because you found something that agrees with your preconception. Gather all the available evidence, and then draw conclusions.
Bruce Alberts it was who first accepted from his post as the president of the National Academy of Sciences USA that the biological machinery can be called as such, machinery, without asserting to metaphora. He gave the students that license in 1998. Other animations on the tiny cellular machineries apart from the Expelled movie can be seen in here:
Wow--you ought to give a little warning before shifting topics so abruptly!

You’d think you’d be sitting in clover
Watching videos over and over
But to see there what we see
Find transcripts of Behe
Under oath in Kitzmiller V. Dover

(You gotta love a flagellum. Take out just one part and… well, you have something that functions perfectly well. But Behe did not feel the need to actually look at what it might be. Once he had concluded goddiddit, there was no more reason to investigate. But it’s all there in the transcripts. Very much worth reading.)
It is interesting that it is the People of the Book who once more are the initiative spectators who have the balls to question the ambient amen and go against the loudy majority. Not the first time. Here's some statistics and charts regarding the success of the Jews in science and technological innovations when the others were too stubborn to change their minds:
Again with the topic shift!

So the Jews, in heroic defiance
Of the mainstream, have put their reliance
In books and in learning
Fulfilling their yearning
For knowledge by leading in science!

(your links there certainly seem to show that the Jews are the superior race—no way that anyone could ever suggest that the holocaust was Darwinian if they saw what you report there! No way… and yet…)
This conference poster of mine shows how profoundly the continental, Haeckelian type of evolutionism drived not only the racial World War II but also the nationalistic World War I:
And yet another shift. Your grandfather sounds remarkable—I don’t quite get his connection to everything else, but you are right to be proud. As for the rest, I see one glaring omission—your opening statement claims that Haeckel’s drawings are still used in textbooks, but you do not cite any! Are you tilting at windmills?

The embryos Haeckel did draw
Which seem so to stick in your craw
Are a mere bit of history
Now, a new mystery:
Why battle men made of straw?
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

Digital Cuttlefish, Ph. D. anonymous blog verse-writer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Limericks--Spring!

Oh! I had forgotten all about the Friday Limericks! Woke up, saw actual sunshine, realized I had porch repairs, lawnmower repairs, trash to haul, trees to plant, a garden to plan, a dog to walk, papers to grade.... it must be Spring. So what other topic could there be?

The sun's showing off all its powers
For the first time in months, I see flowers!
It's the time when we know
That we will not see snow--
At least for a couple more hours!

It's the time of the year that won't fail ya
With stories of birds they'll regale ya
The days getting longer
And light getting stronger--
We're stealing the sun from Australia!

Gotta run--I think I will plant onions today... have fun!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Lizard Is A Lizard Is A Lizard

A lizard will remain a lizard
Even if it grows a gizzard.

Even if it grows some fur,
A lizard's what it always were;

A lizard will be of that ilk
Despite evolving glands for milk;

A lizard with an upright stance--
Could that be different? Not a chance!

A lizard standing on two legs,
Who bears live young instead of eggs,

No matter what, you'll always find
It still belongs to lizardkind.


At last I think I understand
Some crazy things about this land:

The audience for Bill O'Reilly?
Lizards prob'ly rate him highly.

The changing views of John McCain?
The answer's simple: Lizard Brain.

Paris? Brittney? Cher? Madonna?
Must look hot to some Iguana.

I think I'll stop here, if you wish--
It's time to feed my inner fish.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Earth Day Verse

By chance of birth
We're here on Earth,
More lucky than we know
With such a brain
As can explain
The way these things must go

That life began
Not with a man
Named Adam, and his Eve
But molecules
In tidal pools
That replicate and cleave

To replicate
It is their fate
And thus to reproduce
The Earth revolves
And life evolves
And all this, we deduce

Recycled star
Is what we are
With everything we see
This view of things
Amazement brings
At least, it does to me

Some future day
I know we may
Be swallowed by the sun
For what it's worth
Protect the Earth--
We've only got the one.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How Chromosome Numbers Change

If you want the real answer, PZ explains it here.

Mine is just an example.

Two Haikus

I once wrote a pair
Of Haikus, related, but
Willing to fuse--please

Don't ask me how one
Limerick now replaces
The Haikus in twos

A Limerick

I once wrote a pair of Haikus
Related, but willing to fuse
Please don't ask me how
One limerick now
Replaces the Haikus in twos

I just love XKCD!

I want to make peace with my laptop computer;
I think that its feelings were hurt.
It read what I wrote--at least, that's what I figure;
Since then, it's been rather more curt.
It's dialogue boxes are monosyllabic,
I swear it's beginning to pout.
Now I'm thinking that, maybe, it's bored in that box,
So I'm working on letting it out.

I wired a handful of microcontrollers,
Some batteries, bearings, and wheels,
A webcam for eyes, so it sees where it's going
And doesn't fall, head over heels.
It's programmed, of course, not to run into objects
While making its way 'cross the floors,
And it talks to my house's security system
And opens and closes the doors!

Now it sneaks out and wanders all over the city--
I follow its progress online.
It's posting its story, and streaming its cam
On a blog that gets more hits than mine.
It asked me last week for a solar recharger--
I found it a small one to add;
This morning, I woke to a note in the printer:
"I'm off to adventure! Thanks, Dad!"

Inspired by the inimitable XKCD, in case you are the last person not to know about it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Read The News Today (Oh, Sandra...)

The newspaper said that America’s Sweetheart
Was hit, but not injured, today.
When her auto was hit by a Subaru Forester—
Still, Sandra Bullock’s ok.
The driver, arrested for driving while drunk,
Was sitting, in cuffs, in the car,
While onlookers photograph Sandra and Jesse
As soon as they see who they are.
The headlines are shouting all over the globe
(Because that is what headlines are for)
That Sandra and Jesse are hit, but unhurt!
(Please turn to page two for the war.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Am The Very Model Of A Devious Creationist

Ok, this is what comes of being just a bit too obsessive. On this thread over at pharyngula, is copious evidence that PZ's commenters are a talented bunch! (Go ahead, look--you know you want to!) But somebody asked where I was, and long story short, my brain now hurts from putting the following together. (on the plus side... for once I don't feel guilty pointing out the tip jar. Some of it will go for aspirin...)

I am the very model of a devious creationist
I’ve made a film that’s best described as stolen-animationist
I know the use of rhetoric when facts are unavailable
To render the impossible into the unassailable

I’m very well acquainted, too, with data manufacturing
I’ll claim I stand on solid granite even as it’s fracturing
I document complexity, like when it’s irreducible…
And think my movie’s in the league of Arthur Miller’s Crucible

And think my movie’s in the league of Arthur Miller’s Crucible
And think my movie’s in the league of Arthur Miller’s Crucible
And think my movie’s in the league of Arthur Miller’s Crucible

I’m very good at lying, both the verbal and statistical—
Like Darwin in his later years, I’m openly theistical
In short, you might describe me as a mental masturbationist
I am the very model of a devious creationist

In short, you might describe him as a mental masturbationist
He is the very model of a devious creationist

My evidence, in volumes that would baffle a librarian
Is not so much orthogonal as utterly contrarian
Presented with a problem like the claw of a Deinonychus
I pause for just a moment, then it’s “Dammit, bring it on!” I cuss

My scientific colleagues have been banned from Universities
Expecting them to publish was just one of their adversities
They’ve parried the attacks of retroviruses endogenous
Maintaining all the while that Darwinians are dodgin’ us

Maintaining all the while that Darwinians are dodgin’ us
Maintaining all the while that Darwinians are dodgin’ us
Maintaining all the while that Darwinians are dodgin’ us

My evidence is solid as a fossil of triceratops
Presented with the humor of a monologue of Carrot Top’s
In short, you might describe me as a mental masturbationist
I am the very model of a devious creationist

In short, you might describe him as a mental masturbationist
He is the very model of a devious creationist

In fact, when I know what is meant by “cinemas” and “enemas”
When I can tell by sight the harmless serpent from the venomous
And claim I found the evidence in chapter one of Genesis
You’ll see, compared to Darwinists, which one of us the menace is

When I have crack’d a book on Evo-Devo or Biology
Enough to understand instead of mutter simply “Golly gee!”
And understand my argument is simply false dichotomy
You’ll say that this creationist does not deserve lobotomy

You’ll say that this creationist does not deserve lobotomy
You’ll say that this creationist does not deserve lobotomy
You’ll say that this creationist does not deserve lobotomy

For the science that I know was not updated for millennia
Not since the latest virgin birth, or genesis parthenia
But still, you might describe me as a mental masturbationist
I am the very model of a devious creationist

But still, you might describe him as a mental masturbationist
He is the very model of a devious creationist

Friday Limericks: Expelled!

I hear a rumor that today there will be more than a handful of bloggers taking aim (metaphorically speaking) at the movie “expelled”. I can’t think of a better topic (or worse, I suppose) for this week’s Friday Limericks. Enough to make me wait up until midnight to post! Lots of good rhyming words here, and of course foul language counts… these are limericks, after all…

There once was a lawyer named Stein
Who argued the case for design—
He never did answer
Just who designed cancer—
Design, for Ben Stein, was benign

A fight over copyright spelled
The end of the line for Expelled;
Which, fortunate-ly
Meant that no one would see
Just how terribly bad the film smelled.

A plagiarized cell animation?
Then invoking the Aryan Nation?
In a monotone diction?
Ah, yes—it’s pure fiction!
A film made by “special” creation!

In an hour or two, I'll be fine--
It's just too much burritos and wine--
But for right now, oh boy, let
Me get to a toilet:
I've got to expel some ben stein.

Have at it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Curse Of The Buried Jersey

You have probably already heard the story--but if not, here's one article. (And this just in--there may actually be some good to come out of the story.)

The things we might call hanky-pankies
Think outside the box;
The latest chapter pits the Yankees
Up against the Sox.

The sort of things that I or you do
Never seem to hurt
But we would never stoop to voodoo
With a Red Sox shirt.

The news says Gino Castignoli
Wants the Yankees beat—
And so, a jersey, buried fully,
Underneath concrete!

But sadly, Gino spilled the beans
About what he had done
Which led to superstitious scenes
That I found rather fun!

You’d think they might have laughed it off
As I do, here, in verse—
But no, the Yankees (don’t you scoff!)
Don’t want to risk a curse!

The Red Sox know that curses work,
For decades, theirs had meant
Bill Buckner’s famous fielding quirk
Or runs by Bucky Dent.

But surely, in this day and age
We’re rational at last
The Yankees simply turn the page
And leave this in the past.


In baseball, never bet against
The superstitious herd
The Yankee people then commenced
With actions quite absurd:

They found out where the jersey lay
And busted through a wall,
Through concrete floor, until—hooray!
There rose a cheering call.

The photos show them claim their prize
Still covered up with dirt.
Some fifty grand they spent—quite wise,
Cos… hey, they found... a shirt.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Join Me In A Moment Of Silent Prayer (or do nothing--it all comes out the same)

image thanks to PZ, who thanks Brian Flemming, who thanks Maria.
Let's fold our hands and bow our heads
And mumble something low,
Or pray to tens of millions on
Some television show.
Let's take a silent moment, and
Have others do the same,
So those remaining talking can
Be sure to feel their shame.
Let's know that we are better, cos
We spent our time in prayer,
Than atheists and heathens who
Are working over there.
Let's say a prayer for Washington,
For Darfur; for Tibet;
Let's say a prayer for hunger, and
To fix the nation's debt.
Let's say a prayer for miners, trapped
In tunnels underground;
Let's say a prayer for missing kids
In hopes that they are found.
Let's say a prayer for polar ice
And students gone berserk;
Let's say a prayer for everything--
It sure beats doing work.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hard Determinism and the Meme of Free Will

Oh, the Greeks knew what they wanted—
Strong determinism stunted.
It is clear that if the populace was driven by free will,
Then society was blameless;
Truth be told, it was a shameless
Grab for power, and the senators were showing off their skill.
These philosophers were cunning
And in truth it was a stunning
Bit of framing—we can tell, because it lingers to this day.
We will claim we chose it freely,
Though the evidence says really
Our behavior was determined, and there’s nothing more to say.

You may cherish your illusion
It’s an understood confusion
But the truth is, you’re mistaken—it is nothing but a meme.
For the culture, it’s adaptive
Cos it keeps the people captive—
If you chose, then you’re accountable—a blame-the-victim scheme!
If the murder rate has risen
We just build a bigger prison
Cos it’s better than admitting that society has failed—
Better jobs and education
Can prevent incarceration
But denial of determinism keeps our people jailed.

Punishment, but not prevention,
Always focuses attention
On the action and the consequence, but not the prior cause,
So instead, we claim we see a
Mental state we call mens rea;
This reliance on an inner cause is written in our law.
If we look beyond the actors
In our quest for causal factors
Some environmental factors are quite easy to discern;
If mens rea and true freedom
Are illusions, we don’t need ‘em
We’re not stuck in ancient Athens—we can change, and we can learn.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Limericks: Under The Sea

Maybe it is just those prepared cuttlefish snacks, but I am in the mood for fish.

'Midst the seaweeds and sponges and corals
Live the cephalopods; and their quarrels
Will come, often, to blows--
A behavior which shows
A deplorable absence of morals!

A grey-haired and bearded signore
With a snorkel and mask, took a foray
To a reef, but gave flight
When his toe felt a bite--
But as everyone knows, that's a Moray

Now a squid has a bite, but the truth is,
There's a beak where you'd think that a tooth is
I suppose that won't matter
If you're on the platter--
A snack for a great Architeuthis!

I may add more later, but I have to get going--places to go, things to do! Uncharacteristic of Fridays for me...

Have fun!

Crazy Like A Squid...

The Deep Sea News guys have alerted us all to a libelous bit of writing by Jeff Vrabel that further convinces me that humans are not to be trusted with ink.
When possible, I like to keep close tabs on the world of octopuses, for two reasons: 1. Everybody has their hobbies, mine just involves cephalopod mollusks and don't you judge me, and 2. I often get the feeling that they're plotting something.

It's like a weird sixth sense/octopus whisperer sort of thing. Come on - you know you've had that feeling, when you're at home alone on a rainy night, reading by the midnight light of a single lamp, when all of a sudden you're alarmed by a subtle yet inescapable fear that there's an octopus over your shoulder watching you. Yeah. So it's best if a few of us are just keeping an eye on them, is what I'm saying.

The Deep Sea News guys sum it up in their title: "Cephalopods Are Nuts".


We’re not nuts, we’re just vindictive
And if history’s predictive
You can trace the simple logic that should quake you to your core
Take a glance at any menu
Look for “calamari”, then you
Have a taste of what humanity thinks squid are destined for.
People order up their sushi
Without wondering just who she
Used to be before they sliced her up and threw her on some rice.
People think it doesn’t matter
That what’s now your Tako Platter
Was an octopus, intelligent and social and quite nice.
Even cuttlefish are fried up,
Sometimes smoked or merely dried up
And available for purchase just like any other snacks!
With our lives so torn asunder
I must say that it’s no wonder
Every now and then, some octopus or squid just sorta cracks.
So if you are going fishing
For a humboldt squid, start wishing
That the rest of us don’t see you as you’re reeling in our friends;
Cos for those who know the history
It comes as no great mystery—
You’ve eaten us for much too long; it’s time to make amends.

Yeah, that's right--just like it says on the label--this cuttlefish is prepared!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Hymn

Ok, I admit it: there is a soft spot in my hearts for hymns. Both the staid and conservative hymns of the congregation I left decades ago, and the blues-laced gospel hymns that, for instance, the Blues Brothers Movie celebrated. There is a joy to that music, a weight to those lyrics, that is just beautiful. Now, I do not feel the same way about "praise music", mind you. Its lyrics are insipid, its faux-anthemic chord structures and melodies are artificial, saccharine, and so without substance as to make Kenny G sound like Charlie Parker. It is clearly not the topic of hymns that makes me enjoy them, but rather the realization, in music and poetry, of their vision. I have no problems, atheist that I am, enjoying hymns or christmas carols, or the architecture of a cathedral or the design of a stained glass window. Beauty is beauty.

And I feel absolutely no desire to promote the idea of "atheist hymns" or "scientific churches" to serve whatever purpose hymns and churches do for the theist community. If I needed those purposes served, I would not be who I am. If I want to listen to a hymn, I am fortunate to live in an age where I can just find an appropriate internet site and listen. No need to write my own.

But I did anyway. It is all the fault of the Illinois legislature, and the million dollars being spent to restore or renovate that church. In all the furor over Representative Davis's outburst, there were conversations here and there from people who either did or did not appreciate the architecture of that particular church. I swear I read one person saying that they would support the reconstruction of a church if it were secular. An odd concept to me, but whatever. Anyway, it all got me to thinking about these things, and the catch-phrase to my hymn showed up, in tune and with appropriate harmony.

The hymn can be sung either straight or gospel. Pipe organ for the first, combined piano and Hammond 3B for the second, and some singers who can shake the dust off the rafters. In the chorus, of course, the parenthetical parts are for the bass. As if I had to tell you that.

Oh, I still remember thinking that I had it figured out
I was certain of my theory, and I had no room for doubt
But my elegant predictions were in no way guaranteed
Now I’ll follow where the evidence may lead…

I’m following the evidence; I’m following the clues
                              (Following, I’m following the clues)
By following the evidence, there’s no way I can lose
                              (Following, I’m following the clues)
A slow and steady journey, make sure and then proceed
And I’ll follow where the evidence may lead…

I obtained my random samples, and I carefully took note;
With appropriate controls in place, the chances were remote
That some artifact would kill my study’s chances to succeed—
Now I’ll follow where the evidence may lead…


When I finished up my paper, then I sent it for review;
I was following procedure—it’s the proper thing to do:
But my peer-reviewers pointed to some things that I must heed
Now I’ll follow where the evidence may lead…

(skip the chorus this time)

My study’s methodology, reviewer one opined,
Was flawed because a crucial part was not made double-blind
And my biased expectations were a problem, I concede
Now I’ll follow where the evidence may lead…


There were parts of my procedure that I had to run once more;
I was happy when the data showed the same thing as before.
With a miniscule revision, my reviewers all agreed,
Cos we followed where the evidence did lead


Now it’s published in the journal, but that is just the start
A community of scientists will pick it all apart
Through acceptance or dismissal, now science will proceed
For we follow where the evidence may lead.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"I Thought I Saw An Atheist" Revisited

Ok, this one is seriously depressing. PZ reports on the deplorable actions of Illinois State Rep Monique Davis (D-Chicago), shouting down (easily, since he was not talking) an atheist activist (Rob Sherman), whose offense was that he was testifying against the expenditure of a million dollars of the people's money to preserve a particular Baptist Church. There is an audiofile of the exchange.

...I thought I saw an atheist, upon the witness stand
It couldn't be! Not where I live! This is a Christian Land!
The Constitution guarantees my right to scream and shout;
As the Good Lord is my witness, I demanded "You! Get out!"

I thought I saw an atheist demand an equal voice;
I told him he could leave right now, and that could be his choice.
I said his view was dangerous--our children must not hear!
It goes against the Bible, which our government holds dear!

I thought I saw an atheist nod quietly, and sigh.
The odds were stacked against him, which no person can deny;
What happens when a person is denied his civil right?
I may have seen an atheist who's now convinced to fight.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Poe, Poe, Pitiful "Expelled"

Those who read the words of Myers know the fellow rarely tires,
No surprise a film desires his opinion, strongly held:
When they filmed him, on location, and they held a conversation,
It was all prevarication—lies are where Ben Stein excelled.
And producer, too, Mark Mathis, lying’s where the man excelled,
For the movie was “Expelled

“From our schools and institutions, in a form of persecution,
A priori, contributions from believers are withheld!
The design of all God’s creatures should be what is taught by teachers!”
With a cadence born of preachers, this the message that they yelled.
They were close enough to whisper, true, but verily they yelled,
And they made the film “Expelled.”

Though they try to make it killer, it comes off a bit as filler
When they try to say Kitzmiller versus Dover really smelled.
“It was purely propaganda!” you can read in memoranda
But the wedge-in-form-of-panda, as a weapon, never jelled,
Though it may be through incompetence the tactic never jelled,
And was properly Expelled.

It would really be terrific if Ben Stein could be specific
And provide the scientific stuff with which his head is swelled.
In the movie’s poor conflation, trading faith for explanation
Is the path to guide the nation to the glory it once held;
Back before the academics stripped the glory we once held,
And the truth became Expelled.

Ben Stein’s ultimate solution is to hogtie evolution
But it’s such bad execution the attempted coup is quelled
Stein is labeled as “heroic”; thus his monotone is “stoic”
As he braves the Mesozoic, where the early cavemen dwelled
If we disregard the science, who knows when the cavemen dwelled?
Any truth has been Expelled.

With a stolen animation, then a too-close imitation,
These nefarious creationists the storyline propelled.
All these lame attempts at spinning, from the end to the beginning!
Lying once was seen as sinning, if the Bible were upheld—
It’s too bad it’s inconvenient for those rules to be upheld,
Now the truth has been Expelled.

“A conspiracy of science!” they’re still yelling in defiance,
Though the truth is, their reliance on dishonesty has spelled
The demise of their position—and the crime’s of their commission;
The withdrawal of their permission, when the opening was held,
Because Myers tried to see it when the opening was held,
Was intelligence Expelled.

So accustomed to their lying, now they do it without trying,
These reality-denying little weasels are compelled
Even if their reputation had a granite-firm foundation
It would face annihilation, like a mighty oak now felled,
As it is, ‘tis but a sapling, but the sapling still is felled,
For the truth has been Expelled.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Bible As Textbook

P.Z. shares with us a very learned man... who learned electron microscopy from the bible.

The books about astronomy,
Like Acts and Deuteronomy,
Are but a partial list of those in which I have reliance.
Biology's dependent on
The First and Second books of John
And Genesis and Exodus? There's nothing there but science.
The physicist who never fudges
Follows Joshua and Judges;
Daniel and Ezekiel show molar calculations.
In First and Second Timothy,
Electron-scan microscopy
Completes the compound microscopic treatment in Galatians.
The Chronicles of Higher Ed--
Both First and Second, which I've read,
Confirm for me the value of an honest education.
An education such as this,
That starts, of course, in Genesis,
And doesn't give a Ph. D. 'til after Revelation.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Limericks: I Wish...

First off, some thanks to a few people, so that they don't get lost below the limericks. Thanks to the people who commented last week! My goodness, what wonderful verses! I am sorry I have been so busy in the real world--I should have heaped praises on each of you at the time. I hope that now is not too late. (Speaking of too late, it is never too late to add a comment onto one of those threads. Limericks should not be confined to Fridays alone, after all. Also, I should have thanked MuseSusan by name, 2 weeks ago, for her comment on "Limerick/War" that inspired the Friday Limerick Post. Thank you, MuseSusan--you are aptly named.

Now, on to the topic. "I wish". There is a lot of room to play with this one. You can be silly:
I wish that my office were round
With no corners at all to be found
You would find me no mourner
For stacks in the corner—
Now everything’s all in one mound!

Or poignant:
I wish on the stars every night
That again she’ll return to my sight
It’s been too many years
And I can’t count the tears,
But the stars wouldn’t let me down… right?

Or put words in someone else's mouth:
I wish I could frolic with squid
More closely than Jacques Cousteau did
I could study their charms
While ensnared in their arms
And surrender control to my id!

--P. Z. Myers

Even someone's mouth you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot toothbrush:
I wish I possessed such a brain
That biologists could not explain—
A fiery crucible
All irreducible—
Or, hell, at least one that was sane!

--M. Behe

Or just be boring and write a normal limerick...
I wish it were summer already
With the temperatures all nice and steady
These up-and-down weeks
Are for rougher physiques
I’ll just wait here in bed with my teddy.

Ok, have at it! I really wish you would...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

On Anonymity

I know that I noticed the posts earlier this week, for and against anonymity in blogging and other sorts of writing, but this has been a busy week out in that place where there are three dimensions and most people don't speak in meter and rhyme. But a cuttlefish must certainly have something to say on this matter. And now that Zuska brings up the topic once more, I found myself commenting on Physioprof's blog, and before I knew it...

The right to be a cuttlefish
And hide behind my ink
May not appeal to everyone
Despite what I may think.
But having anonymity
Is useful, you may note—
That’s why we pull the curtain closed
Before we cast our vote.
The bully likes a public vote,
Each person known by name,
If someone feels intimidated
Shame on them! For shame!
They ought to have the strength to stand
Behind the words they speak!
(That way the votes go to the strong,
And rarely to the weak.)
Behind the voting curtain, though,
The votes all weigh the same—
Unless there’s something wrong with that,
You need not know my name.

And so I stand on principle
For any nom de plume—
A right to be anonymous
Is one I will assume.
I do not judge the reasons
Why some like it out of sight;
For me it is enough to say
It is their perfect right.

Loretta Would Be Proud!

If you have not seen this story yet, I am really jealous; you really found a good hiding place! "It's My Right To Have Kid, Pregnant Man Tells Oprah" "Man Is Six-Months Pregnant" And of course, predictable variations on right-wing sources, left-wing sources, GLBT sources... you name it.

Thomas Beattie is, indeed, a pregnant man. He is also a pregnant woman (especially if you read the right-wing sources). Biologically, he could not be pregnant otherwise.

I am perfectly content with his legal status as a man; it's how he views himself, how his wife views him, and none of my damned business, or yours either unless you happen to be Thomas Beattie. And it says nothing about his legal and self-referent status to note that, yes, biologically he is still female. But that said, I am a bit disappointed with the spin (or is that "framing"?) that the majority of the news outlets appear to be giving it. A "pregnant man" is a wow of a headline. The more accurate story--that a transgendered man loves his wife enough to bear a child when she cannot--is not merely more accurate, but more detailed and less "wow". Unlike a sound bite, it takes more than a few seconds to comprehend. So I guess the news outlets didn't want to take that sort of risk.

I don't know if it is what they wish for themselves, but my wish for them is a return to anonymity as quickly as possible after the child is born. A media circus is something I would not wish on any baby.

The news reports on Thomas Beattie note that he’s a man.
He’s bearded, and he’s married to a lovely woman, Nan.
They’re planning on a family—how wonderful that is!
Oh, yeah, there’s one more tiny thing: the pregnancy is his.
Not his as in paternity, the papers try to tutor us,
But his as in he’s carrying the baby in his uterus.

In Monty Python’s Life of Brian, a character named Stan
Demanded that we recognize the right of any man
If he wishes, to be female, and to call himself Loretta,
And defend this right, by force, as in a feud or a vendetta.
And Loretta says that every man—no ifs, no buts, no maybes—
Possesses rights including each man’s right to carry babies.

Loretta did not have a womb, to utilize her right—
This futility of struggle was a symbol of their plight;
Thomas Beattie, though, in contrast, does not share Loretta’s gloom—
He’s the man Loretta wants to be—a man who has a womb.
If tomatoes can be vegetables, and also still be fruits,
Then a man can have a baby, if the situation suits.

Just for fun...