Monday, March 31, 2008

The Natural State of the Featherless Biped

The natural state of the featherless biped
Is totally batshit insane,
From the folks who are “tetched”, to the mere “barking mad”
To the ones even Freud can’t explain.
Some talk to themselves, some talk to “the voices”
And others to “god, up above”
Some know there are bugs living under their skin,
And some (pity them) are in love.

A clear diagnosis is hard to obtain
When we’re characteristically odd.
Just look at behaviors most people call normal
Like talking and listening to god;
If you claimed you were talking to Satan himself
They would probably lock you away;
But instead, choose a different invisible friend
And the doctors all think you’re OK.

Some point to religious folks flocking like pigeons,
With atheists more solo fliers—
And say this to friends who have gathered together
With Dawkins, or Randi, or Myers.
Of course, there are differences, none could deny,
But a few similarities, too.
We follow our leaders, a true social species
As nature selects we should do.

When Dennett says memes can take over our heads,
Make us willing to die for some god;
I look at the hooligan soccer-fan riots--
Devotion no longer seems odd.
The vestments and hats of the Orthodox Church
Are a spectacle worthy of mention,
But some secular groups may be equally gaudy—
Just check out a Star Trek convention!

It’s good to examine abnormal behavior
(Whatever “abnormal” might mean)
Just remember, we’re usually seeing ourselves
In the things we’re surprised to have seen.
We like to point fingers at somebody else
For the troubles, today, that we face;
But don’t point at others; the problem is us—
We’re the batshit-insane human race.

This one has been kicking around my skull for a while. The first line (or two) came to me months ago, and I just liked the sound of it. "Featherless biped", of course, refers to Plato's proposed answer to the age-old (even at the time) question "what is man?" Of course, Diogenes famously answered Plato by presenting him with a plucked chicken, which just tells you that philosophers are a lot cooler than we give them credit for. I think many philosophical debates I have observed or taken part in would be much improved by the addition of game fowl.

But only recently did the rest of the poem assert itself. This was inspired, not by a post on pharyngula, but on the comments to a post. In particular, this comment thread, although in truth it could have been any of a number of different discussions I have witnessed over the past years. I noticed, as I have many times before, a number of comments (from a number of different perspectives) which, boiled down, made a point of labeling what they do as aberrant. Of course, this is nothing new--outgroup stereotyping seems part of the human condition. What I wanted to point out was that we often see ourselves as immune from the bizarre behavior we attribute to members of that other group, when by widening our lens just a bit, we can make a pretty decent case for functional similarities with behaviors we see as perfectly normal (i.e., the things we do).

To me, the great value in examining the strange habits of others is the practical benefit of better understanding ourselves. I mean, there is no effect of the phase of the moon on, say, childbirth. But a large portion of our population believes that there is, and a large portion of professional involved in childbirth as well (ob/gyn, midwives, etc.)! If we can understand why it is that people believe this, despite (or merely in the absence of) the evidence, this might tell us why we believe other things as well. If we can see why people will devote time, effort, and income to a cause we see as preposterous, perhaps it can tell us why (or part of why) we devote time, effort and income to our own causes.

Of course, first we have to see that we are not describing "believers" or "christians" or "muslims" or "scientists" or "creationists" or "evolutionary biologists" or "anonymous internet poets"... but a larger, more inclusive population. Featherless bipeds.

Easier said than done.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Limericks: You wouldn't like me when I'm angry

I’ve been making one hell of a list
Of the things that keep getting me pissed
I’ll remember them all
From the great to the small
And be mad if there’s any I’ve missed

Like, for instance, the country’s at war
And the president’s judgment is poor
There’s so much we could choose
To explore in the news,
But they lead with the Guv and the whore.

And I’m mad cos I watch my TV
When I know what it’s doing to me—
My blood pressure rises
As shows award prizes
For crap I would pay not to see.

And I’m angry at freakin’ Ben Stein
And that movie on Stupid Design
Cos if we’re created
It’s clear that God hated
Our asses—or maybe just mine.

So, hate is the topic today
Or dislike, or annoyance, dismay,
Hot and bothered vexation
Or mere irritation—
I’m sure you have something to say!

That's right--the topic today is whatever annoys you. Irritates you. Bothers you. Steams your clams. Burns your beans. Gets your goat. Harshes your mellow. Pisses in your cornflakes. Frays your last nerve...

You get the point. Have at it!

(One thing that does not make me mad--I was very happy to see all the limericks last week! And I'd love to see more--I know I have lurkers here, not commenting; come on! Limericks are easy!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Hey Mikey, let's go dig up some dragons!"

Hmm... PZ finds it sad, but I have a bit of a different reaction, to the Hallettestoneian Sea Zoria Dragons. The video (you can see it at either link) is one of the best examples of "do not make your video this way" that I have ever seen, but that is such a minor point. The video, and indeed the entire paleontological expedition, has the innocence of a child's exploration of really cool rocks, before he or she gets told that there is a right way to do these things.

I fondly remember, from decades ago,
A boy mostly covered by dirt,
I would play with my friends in the forests or swamps,
Not stop until someone got hurt.
No video games and no organized sport,
We’d dig and explore in the field
Examine our treasures, excited to see
What each following foray might yield.
My brothers and I, upon one of these days,
Discovered a dinosaur find;
It was really just rocks, and of course we both knew,
Not a fossil of any real kind.
We invented a species; we found him a niche,
As a rock-eating, four-legged giant,
And dug up more pieces to fill in the blanks—
On rocks we were very reliant.
My mother taught high-school biology, so
She encouraged the way we explored,
And gave real information, which we could relate
To this dinosaur we so adored.
So now, when I look at Mike Hallett’s stone dragons
I’m more than a little bit jealous;
He’s doing what I did at seven years old
(And you have to admit, the man’s zealous);
He’s digging in dirt, and he’s making up stuff
About dragons from long, long ago,
Like a Peter Pan Paleontologist, maybe
He chose, for himself, not to grow.
Yes, maybe the man is a bit out of touch
And reality’s not his best friend,
But maybe he had the same fun as a kid
And just doesn’t want it to end.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Expelled: The Ballad

Come gather round people, I’ll sing you the tale
It’s bigger by far than a land-dwelling whale
Compared to it, stories from Shakespeare will pale
It’s glitter, and glamour, and glory,
More drama than all the last season of Maury

It all started out with a promising plan
With two different views of the journey of Man
And so nice and friendly was how it began
At the Crossroads with Dawkins and Myers
But the movie crew all were creationist liars

They enlisted the help of the actor Ben Stein
Who showed he could toe the creationist line
In a droning, annoying, monotonous whine
He ridicules notions of fitness
Ignoring the ban against bearing false witness

Now nobody knew what the final cut held
Though various leaks gave a hint that it smelled
Like someone’s abdominal gas was expelled
A film that was fighting for freedom
Apparently only the freedom to be dumb

For instance one segment that somebody saw
Molecular momement that just drops your jaw
Especially if you know your copyright law
Those molecules just kept on rollin’
Not caring if anyone knew they were stolen

So PZ decided to give it a view
To spare the annoyance for me and for you
And he signed up online like they asked him to do
With family and friend, he awaited
But his efforts to see it would end up frustrated

The producer saw Myers, and told him to stop
(Well, not by himself—through a theatre cop)
PZ acquiesced, and he went to a shop
Where he put the adventure to writing
And the people who read it all found it exciting

“But the funniest thing of the evening” he said
“Was that I had to leave, but my friend went ahead
This mild-mannered Englishman, calls me P-Zed
Despite all their squeakins and squawkins
The fools threw me out, but let in Richard Dawkins!”

The movie reviews are predictably bad
And Myers, who missed it, is secretly glad
And trust the producers to put out an ad
Defiantly claiming they’re winning
But nothing is heard but the sound of their spinning

Sally Kern Speaks Again

...I was hoping Ms. Kern would get a chance to speak publicly. It really is difficult to know whether a clip on YouTube has been taken out of context, or highly edited, or entirely too accurate. So it is nice when someone can show up to rebut or confirm statements that they made. Especially in the case of Sally Kern, where what she said was so vile.

Anyway, here she is, on local television in Oklahoma. The show is "Flash Point", on Channel 4, Sunday mornings at 9:30. This show was last weekend--Easter Sunday. Sally is a guest in the first two segments, along with Pastor Scott Jones of the Cathedral of Hope in Oklahoma City. The pastor happens to be gay, which on the face of is suggests that Sally's view of homosexuality and Christianity as being incompatible is... not a unanimous view. (It is worth watching.)

Seems that Sally said nothing wrong. Her analogies--Cancer, Terrorism, for instance--were poorly chosen. She only means to say that the homosexual lifestyle is deadly to the country, that if not eradicated it will grow and lead to the death of christianity and our country as we know it. But that, of course, is not hate speech.

I don't know which would be more offensive--to have Sally say these things, knowing full well that they are hate speech, or (as seems to be the case) to have her utterly oblivious to the fact that an unfavorable comparison to cancer and terrorism might...just seen as offensive.

Oklahoma’s Channel Four
Invited Sally Kern once more
To clarify her stated views,
Which everybody misconstrues.
And so, on Easter Sunday morn,
That target of such global scorn,
Ms. Kern sat down to set us straight
And speak to us of love, not hate.

The moderator, channel 4’s
Own Kevin Ogle set the course,
Reminding us that Sally’s speech,
Because of YouTube, now could reach
The far-flung corners of the world
Where anti-Sally flags unfurled.
He said that her remarks “enraged
The gay community”, then assuaged
Our fears by saying he would search
For common ground where we could perch.
(In truth it was not only gays
Who found a fault in Sally’s ways—
To frame it as he did was wrong,
But for the while, let’s play along.)

The panel guests this Easter were
Ms. Kern, and then across from her,
Scott Jones, an Oklahoma pastor;
Both held Christ as lord and master.
(Just one thing more, I think I may
Have left the bit where Scott is gay.
That might mean squat to me or you,
But Sally has a different view.)

She had the chance to make amends,
But rather, Sally Kern defends
Her homophobic comments. Great.
At least, she claims, it is not hate.
And there she may be right, you see—
It may be plain stupidity.
Her ignorance of science might
Explain why she’s convinced she’s right.

Polite and calm was Pastor Jones,
He asked of Kern, in even tones,
If it was hate, or maybe humor,
Saying gays were like a tumor.
“Oh, no, no, no!” came Sally’s answer;
“I don’t mean gays are really cancer—
Just that we must stop their spread,
Or if we don’t, we’ll end up dead--
See, cancer in your little toe
Can travel to your brain, you know.”
So gays are not true mutant cells,
According to what Sally tells,
She only meant that, to grow old,
The spread of gays must be controlled.
There’s no hate there she can discern,
Just metaphor from Sally Kern.

Her choice of words, the pastor urged,
Showed she thought gays ought be purged;
Compared to cancer? Terrorists?
These words are hateful, he insists,
The words she chose are worse than vile
But Sally Kern is in denial.
She says that isn’t what she meant,
Those weren’t the feelings that she sent.
She loves the gays as much as you—
Just hates the evil things they do.
When gays join in democracy
Where moral people used to be
It hurts the nation, we must learn
From moralists like Sally Kern.

It’s nice that Sally Kern can speak;
We’d only thus far had a peek
At her beliefs, but now we see
She says the same things on TV.
She does not try to hide her views,
So next time, voters, when you choose,
Recall the words that Sally said,
And wonder what is in her head—
It could be hatred, but you see,
It could just be stupidity.

I hope the latter. Folks can learn.
And that’s my wish for Sally Kern.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

T. M. I. (too much information)

...No, not the wonderful song by Roy Zimmerman, just letting you know that you might want to stop now, if you don't like hearing about... well...

Oh, by the way, (Yes, this is by way of giving you enough time to change your mind--just don't blame me, ok?) Roy Zimmerman's new newsletter just came out; I'd copy it all here, but why don't you just go to and look around for a bit? You won't regret it. I have autographed copies of just about everything. Except the latest, I think. Roy is one of my idols (yes, I have a list--don't you?).

Anyway, you now have officially had enough time to think "hmm, maybe he is serious about this too much information stuff...", so at this point I am no longer responsible.

I had surgery last week. Yup. Wednesday. Been on painkillers since then, and what with the Myers vs Expelled stuff, I had my biggest hit day on this blog, for something written pretty much with just the reptilian part of my brain, because the rest was being used either feeling pain or watching the room decide which way to spin. And what does a cuttlefish do when bleeding, in pain and on oxycodone? Verse, of course.

Painfully, strainfully,
Digital Cuttlefish
Wishes his poetry
Showed some more class;

Sadly, effects of a
Limit his thoughts to his
Pain in the ass.

Yup, that's a double-dactyl. They are fun. What is not fun, though, is the first bowel movement after a hemorh.. haeme.. after they cut part of your ass off. I thought I was fine--and I was, for the first couple of days. Took until Saturday for me to finally need to go... Now I know why they give opium derivatives. Ouch. ow ow ow ow ow ow owwwww....

Woozily, bruisily,
Suffering Sepia
Forces down fluids and
Tries not to strain;

Mutters his thanks to the
Chemist-magicians who
Manage his pain.

I actually did thank the pharmacological industry. I mean, I know there are people in my position (prone, currently) who thank god for their drugs; I figure if you are gonna give credit for the drugs, ya gotta give blame for the piles in the first place, and then it just gets silly. So, no.

But I did have a great experience with the hospital people. My surgeon rocks--I'd say she kicks ass, but that metaphor is a bit lost on me at present. My nurses were great. I think, having read The Head Nurse's blog, that they were in fact the A team; lots of confidence, good humor, helping one another. The nurse who put in my IV was hilarious. Watching her, I said "looks like you've done this before"; without missing a beat, she replied "no, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

Anyway, time for bed. Whether I want to or not--oxycodone has that effect this late at night.

Sleepily, weepily,
Slumber is beckoning
Time to give thanks, cos it
Could have been worse—

Not to some deity,
I’ll give my thanks to each
Doctor and Nurse!

Good night, all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Limericks: Front Page Muse

The first installment of what I hope will become a regular feature--The Friday Limerick Post! In your comments, please add your own limericks! (sorry it is up a bit late--the power was out here this morning)

The topic this week: Front Page Muse. Whatever your local paper has on its front page, from soup to nuts, from sports to weather, from alpha to omega, those are the topics from which you get to choose! I'll start us off with this article, on the front page of the New York Times, about parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children, and the very serious increased risk to those children and to other children (because of the benefits of "herd immunity", which requires a substantial percentage of the population to be vaccinated) brought about by the misguided ignorance of these parents. It is worth reading the article... Meanwhile...

Although hundreds of thousands will die
From the measles, some parents deny
A life-saving vaccine,
Not because they are mean,
But because they have swallowed a lie.

Vaccinations are such a success
That diseases are noticed much less
So we start to relax,
And the anti-vax quacks
Take the chance to make science regress!

Though they don’t have one fact on their side,
At this point, it’s a matter of pride—
They can’t say they were wrong;
Their belief is so strong
And insanity won’t be denied.

Rule number one: Have fun!
Rule number two: Unless it contradicts rule number one, write a limerick, and maybe even link to your local newspaper so we can see where you are commenting from!
Rule number three: Lurking without posting limericks will be tolerated, but if we catch you we get to tickle you with an ostrich feather. So why not try a limerick?

The Trojan Myers

When reinventing history
It’s best to keep the mystery;
If witnesses are noticed, it is best to take them out.
And although the act is telling,
You’d be better off expelling
Doctor Myers, if you see him, just because the man’s a lout.
You see, PZ is a witness
To the movie’s lack of fitness—
He is one selection pressure that would render it extinct.
So, with “WANTED!” posters printed,
To the cinema they sprinted,
And they passed around the mugshots just as soon as they were inked.
The policemen, at the ready,
Kept the ticket-takers steady
While they watched with eyes like eagles for the devil in disguise.
Yes! They spotted Dr. Myers,
Looking just like in their fliers!
The policemen, quite correctly, gave the doctor a surprise.
When they said he’d be arrested
If their actions he protested,
He complied at once (that should have raised suspicions, don’t you think?)
Once his actions had been thwarted
And he left the line, escorted,
Looking back to his companion in the line, he gave a wink….
So this little movie trip is
Like a Trojan Eohippus
That delivered Richard Dawkins deep within the fortress walls
I can’t wait to read the story
Of the battle and the glory—
Cos the trailer to this feature shows the hero’s got some balls!

Of course, inspired by these events on Pharyngula, and probably all over the web by now...


Since I am now being linked to by Brian at Laelaps, I figure I'll add the following bonus material...

In the intervening hours
Since the movie, all the powers
Of the two opposing sides have set their weaponry on "spin";
In a textbook case of framing,
The producers now are claiming
That of course they noticed Dawkins, and they gladly let him in!
They'd have done the same for PZ,
But he did not make it easy--
As the testimony given by one local witness claims;
As he tells it, Dr. Myers,
Drinking blood and breathing fires,
Was disruptive and obnoxious, playing atheistic games!
Now more stories are diverging
And it's clear they need no urging
To elaborate on fictions in the service of their lies;
We may yet see more mutation
As the story sweeps the nation;
That a fable keeps evolving, well, it's really no surprise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dicyemid mesozoa are not cute at all.

So P-Zed was getting all moon-eyed and silver-tongued over parasites. Parasites that live in the kidneys of cephalopods, getting their nutrients from urine, much like Sally Kern. Anyway, his love letter to these beasties is a wonderful example of the passion that scientists have for their work. Uncovering the mysteries of the natural world does not take the beauty out of it; rather, knowledge enhances our appreciation for everything in the real world. In the words of Douglas Adams (who said nearly everything better than nearly anyone else did), "I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."  If you are one of those rare readers here who do not already read Pharyngula, I seriously recommend following the above link to see that principle in action.

But as a cuttlefish, I was a bit miffed. "Oooh, aren't they lovely!" "What an elegant illustration of evolution at work!" "Much more lovely than mere puppy dogs!" Hmph. Think of the cephalopods! Won't somebody, please, think of the cephalopods?

So that's what I was sensing! As discomfort was commencing,
Inflammation in my kidneys as I swam in the abyss
Was where parasites were feeding, and (in both their ways) were breeding,
And now Myers, metaphorically, joins in to take the piss.
A biologist, his duty is to rhapsodize their beauty
But a little sensitivity is all a 'pod can ask!
Yes, I get that it's exciting--I can see that in his writing--
Guess I only wish he didn't take such pleasure in the task.
"O dicyemid mesozoan", while inside my pain is growin'
"Let me count the ways I love you", like this parasite is heaven
Then the dude proceeds in counting, while my agony is mounting,
And he doesn't stop until he's all the way to fucking seven!

Oh, for those who wonder about these things--this one was one of the verses that might as well have been self-writing. Less than 15 minutes, and it came out in final form. I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Ok, I wasn't going to post this, but what the heck... Pharyngula's nice light fluffy topic of the morning is, sorta, whether war is part of the nature of humankind, and whether we can conceivably put an end to it.

Well you ask "What's the purpose of war--
All the bombs, and the bullets, and gore?"
Though we all know it's wrong
We've been at it so long
We've forgotten just what it is for.

One answer that's there on the table,
Though I'm fully aware that it's fable:
As descendents of Cain
We make war, in the main,
Just because we can't stop--we're not Abel.

Or, perhaps, it is all in our genes,
Although no one knows quite what that means
Is the dominant trait
Disposition to hate,
Or a fondness for noisy machines?

Are we programmed for war in our head?
Is it just that we're easily led?
I think we should strive
To find out, while alive,
Cos it's surely too late once we're dead.

Can we change predilection for fighting
For something else, just as exciting?
The next border dispute,
Try an alternate route--
Say, competitive limerick writing!

Any comments not in limerick form will, of course, be deleted!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Thought I Saw An Atheist

P-Zed reports that The Atheists Are Coming!

I thought I saw an atheist, once, walking down the street.
I checked for horns, I checked for tail, I checked for cloven feet;
Began to tremble frightfully—my heart was in my throat—
Then sighed in happy recognition, for ‘twas but a goat.

I thought I saw an atheist, down near a swollen stream
With scaly skin, and blood so cold, I couldn’t breathe to scream!
I looked into his bulging eyes, and prayed “God, grant my wish”
Then laughed in my embarrassment—it only was a fish.

I thought I saw an atheist, with fur and pointed claws,
And wicked teeth for chewing up Judeo-Christian laws,
I ran, and tripped, and fell to earth, then hid behind a log—
It caught me, though, and licked my face—of course, it was a dog.

I thought I saw an atheist, though cleverly disguised
Not giant and reptilian, but human, normal sized,
It looked to be engaging in productive, useful labor;
But no, this was no atheist—this person was my neighbor!

I thought I saw an atheist; in fact, I saw a few!
My neighbor, and the grocer, and the cop, and maybe you!
I even found some in the church, right there beneath the steeple;
It turns out, to my great surprise… that atheists are people.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Enemy's Enemy...?

As reported on Pharyngula, a common prescientific mythology is making strange bedfellows these days. This time, the Turkish Islamic anti-Darwin movement is aided and abetted by American fundamentalist Christian conservatives. No, really. Yeah, I had to read it twice, too.

Well, it's not like that's an area of the world where Christians and Muslims have had any history of strife, at least. *ahem* Yeah. well...

Creationists of every stripe—
The people who can stomach tripe—
Have joined together in defense
Of Faith opposed to evidence.
Islam and Christianity
Throughout the course of history
Have rarely been the best of friends
But now, it seems, their fighting ends.
Has someone finally seen the light,
And seen the reasons that they fight
Are foolish little arguments
That anyone with common sense
Could see are not worth fighting for?
Cos that would be exciting! Or
Has something posed a greater threat
Than anything encountered yet,
Through centuries of outright war?
(Remember, what they’re fighting for
Is their religion—and what’s odd
They share the Abrahamic God!)
Well… sorta. They have joined to fight
The most disgusting in God’s sight;
The ones who stoop so awfully low
And challenge what these theists know—
That’s right, those dreadful scientists
Are now the scourge that tops the lists!
The U.S. Christians on the right
Have joined together in the fight
And arm-in-arm with Muslim Turks
They fight the growing threat that lurks
In science classrooms everywhere!
Why, you can look, if you should care
From elementary school to college,
Anywhere they’re spreading knowledge:
If fact and logic help you choose,
You threaten our religious views!
Holy wars, crusades, jihads,
Are minor things. This threat to God’s
The greatest of the present dangers,
Making allies out of strangers.
So join me, fighting science, brother—
Tomorrow we can kill each other.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

With Apologies To Bob Dylan...

Early this mornin’ the snow was fallin’
I’d just crawled outta bed
Wond’rin’ if I could find the coffee
While my eyes were still red.
The newsman said, as he always does
The day was gonna be rough
He never could find any happy news
And my paycheck’s never enough.
And I was sittin’ at the kitchen table
Havin’ some breakfast pie
Looking out on the internet
And I stumbled on this Guy, you know who,
Tangled Up In Blue.

He had posts about water-boarding,
Poverty, Death, and Abuse
Political dancing all over the world
Where the Devil’s gotten loose
Pointed out laws in 43 states
Where shove has come to push
And gays must sit in the back of the bus
While the driver, mister Bush,
Who’s looking out for his legacy
(Which doesn’t stand a chance)
I have to wonder, when he’s with Cheney,
Which one leads when they dance, the pas de deux,
On Tangled Up In Blue

(in other words, the Carnival of the Liberals is up on Tangled Up In Blue Guy. And he included my entry!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Ballad of Sally Kern Redux

A talented commenter has immortalized my "Ballad of Sally Kern" in glorious technicolor on YouTube!!!

(Can you tell that's never happened to me before? Yeah, I am a little excited.) Take a look!

I love it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Ballad of Sally Kern

Via Dispatches From the Culture Wars, a video making the rounds. Oklahoma legislator Sally Kern missed the politician's lesson about the combination of microphones and internet, and unwisely revealed her true feelings to a small gathering. If you have not seen it yet, it is worth viewing:

Sweet, isn't she, to be so concerned for us? Anyway, I wrote her a little poem. I must point out, in case she wants to try to sue me later, that the words I have put into her mouth are not hers. At least, not from this particular speech. It is poetic license, hyperbole, and a very low Godwin number.

A legislator, Sally Kern,
Was simply voicing her concern,
But Sally Kern was unaware,
Or if she knew, she did not care,
That someone had a microphone
So Sally Kern was not alone.
“Oh, I’m not anti-gay” said Sally,
To the fifty-person rally;
“But there are things you have to learn”
And who will teach us? Sally Kern.
Sally Kern, she knows the answer—
Knows how gays are like a cancer,
Knows they’re worse than terrorists
If Sally Kern can keep the lists.
So Sally Kern must raise her voice
Against unhealthy lifestyle choice;
The cost of life against God’s Word
Is clear, the people gathered heard:
Disease and death, and then you burn
In Hell, or so says Sally Kern.
Then Sally Kern, in pure effrontery,
Tells us gays will harm our country:
If we embrace these sinful ways,
Says Sally Kern, allowing gays
To join the City Council ranks
Or work in schools, or stores, or banks,
Our country would be tempting fate,
And all too soon would be too late.
Now, such a stance may seem too stern
But heed the words of Sally Kern;
If we let gays live right among us,
Soon, like mold, or creeping fungus,
Even straights will be infected—
Sally Kern wants us protected.
The path to safety is God’s Grace:
We must protect the human race.
Sally Kern just wants us purer…
Right. Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Book Review

I had completely forgotten about this little verse, a comment on PZed's review of Ken Ham's book on Darwin's alleged racism. But over at Quintessence of Dust, where I am quite flattered and honored to be mentioned in this week's Weekly Sampler, I find to my surprise that people actually read and remember the stuff I forget. So I am overjoyed to repost it here, just in case Pharyngula ever burns down, or gets popular enough that comments get lost among hundreds of others (yeah, right, like that could happen).

The rhyme scheme on this one was a lot of fun, now that I think back on it a bit. So thanks, Q of D, for the jab in the ribs.

Although to verse I'm not averse
(Oh, no, perverse is what I am)
With phrases terse, I could do worse
Than share the curse of tainted Ham.

In rhyme or prose, well, goodness knows,
I could compose this tale of mine;
And thus expose the growing nose
And lying pose of Kenneth Swine.

We're all aware he does not care
If truth is rare in what he's writ;
He says a prayer for public glare--
He's happy there, as pigs in shit.

Although he'll write that Black and White,
If Darwin's right, are different species
He takes delight, producing quite
(To be polite) a load of feces.

He knows he's wrong, but bobs along
Among the throngs of simple minds
There must be strong stuff in his bong
That makes him long for deep-fried rinds

It's no surprise his book of lies
Sees truth's demise in every word
If facts arise, they're in disguise--
Complete with flies, this one's a turd.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Love, Love, Love...

An interesting little post, over on Pharyngula; apparently some artist (not gonna link--he likes it when you link) has claimed that atheists, as far as he can tell, do not believe in love. News to me, of course, and I am certain it would surprise anyone who knew me. I would have thought that love was rather independent of a belief in any spiritual entity. Actually... if I stopped to think about it, an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing god, a god that is more important than your piddling little life here on earth (hey, look at the "rapture ready" crowd if you doubt there are people who view it that way), would make the Greatest Love Story On Earth a nothing in comparison.

Think about it. An omnipotent God could create the Grand Canyon with an infinitesimal part of His Effort--no need for millions of years of erosion, hell, it could have been on an off day, and a second best effort at that. No need to feel awe at the canyon; sure, it is greater than anything humankind could do, but it is nothing for God--you should see His work on the horsehead nebula!!

So, love. Human love. That amazing thing that makes your heart, your stomach, your head run around in circles and get happily dizzy just thinking about him/her... sorry, it is only the merest shadow of a shadow of God's Real Love For You (tm). Given the least opportunity, you really ought to leave your true love to join your True Love, and never regret.

Bullshit. I'll have none of it.

“An atheist cannot believe in love”
This statement puts me at a loss for words—
I’d really like to see him try to prove
His thesis; clearly it’s absurd.
Imagine, for a moment, God existed—
Omnipotent, Omniscient, Everywhere—
And just as preachers always have insisted,
God indeed was loving, and did care.
This love from God would dwarf our mortal hearts;
Your spouse’s love is nothing next to His.
The whole of human love, the smallest part
Of God’s, for His is all there really is.
I love. That is a fact, not mere façade;
Yes, love exists, which can’t be said of God.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Translating from Creationist to English

I’m looking for a linguist who can help me with translation—
For it seems two different languages are used within this nation;
Much more tricky than Bulgarian, more difficult than Greek
Is the twisted form of English that Creationists now speak.
The only rule, thus far, that I have managed to detect
In the reams of legal documents I’ve gathered to inspect,
Is that any word among them that’s significant, has changed
To a wholly different meaning, through some process that’s deranged.
When they say, for instance, “family”, they often mean their church,
And “society” is meaningless without the phrase “John Birch”
This wholesale transformation of the language is quite ruthless;
When they claim that “it’s the truth”, you can be certain that it’s truthless.
When “academic freedom” means that teachers have to lie
And “scientific evidence” comes straight from God on high,
“Intelligent”, “complexity” and most egregious, “theory”
Are transmogrified to such degree it makes my brain grow weary,
I know there must be something I can do to ease my pain
So I’m looking for a linguist, so that I can start to train.
I’ll start out easy: Black is White, and Up is often Down;
And Behe is a scientist of nationwide renown.
Now stretch a bit, with claims that are a little bit more bold:
The fossils say the earth is just a thousand decades old!
And DNA quite clearly shows the fingerprint of God
Evolution is religion, once you see through the façade.
This is getting really easy; now I think I have the knack:
Any doctor saying prayer is ineffective is a quack!
If we show sufficient faith we can turn hurricanes away—
If a city still gets flooded, it’s cos someone there was gay!
Now I’m really having fun; if you think you’d like to try,
There’s a simple, simple shortcut: all you have to do is lie!

(I will take this opportunity, to try it out again,
Wishing happiness, longevity, a sweet life free of pain,
To the Noble, Good Creationists, who fill me with delight!
Now, I need to find that linguist, but I think I said it right!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

There Is No "Away"

Ever wonder what happens when you throw a piece of plastic "away"?

The CNET Green Tech Blog reports on a recent oceanographic expedition that took a long hard look at a shameful situation; the floating islands of our garbage in our oceans.
Plastic contamination in the world's oceans is worse than previously imagined and no amount of technology can clean it up, according to Charles Moore. The oceanographer returned February 23 from a five-week odyssey in the Pacific Ocean with samples showing 48 parts plastic for every part of plankton.

"We are damned to a future of pollution by plastic," said Moore, who has spent more than a decade investigating Pacific plastic pollution. "There's no evidence it will end in a millennium."

A plastic "graveyard" double the size of Texas swirls in the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii. There, his crew had found in the water six parts of plastic for every part plankton, with a fivefold increase in the amount of plastic between 1997 and 2007.

But their latest voyage found the pollution even thicker in the "highway" of ocean leading to the great Garbage Patch, according to Moore, who founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, Calif. Moore said that area comprises 2.5 million square miles.

In the Pacific alone, heavily polluted plastic zones amount to the size of the continent of Africa, Moore estimated.
More at link above.

I want to get mad; I just want to cry;
I want to do something, not sit idly by;
The problem is huge; the problem is drastic;
The oceans are choking with thrown-away plastic:

Plastic bags and sandwich wraps,
Toys and lighters, bottle caps;
One-use razors, plastic combs,
All the junk that fills our homes;
One part plankton, six parts trash—
The ecosystem’s bound to crash.

The plastics are forming new habitats too,
With small crabs and barnacles eating this goo,
And seagulls fly over to feed on crustaceans,
Though toxins are higher in these new locations.

A plastic graveyard, twice the size
Of Texas has been formed, and lies
Off Southern California’s coast.
This, only one among a host
Of garbage masses, giant isles,
Some 2.5 million square miles.

These plastics are coming from us—me and you—
We can’t simply wait; there are things we must do.
As much as we can—though we’re set in our ways—
We must change, and change quickly; no time for delays!
Demand greener packaging; vote with your dollars—
They say money talks; we can make sure ours hollers.
This cuttlefish fears for his relatives’ fate;
We have to get moving… or soon, it’s too late.

Image from Green Tech Blog--Credit: Algalita Marine Research Foundation

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Complexity of Design

Each now and then, it’s fun to ask
“What did The Maker have in Mind
When first He set about the task
And started making humankind?”

We know, of course, that God Above,
Not evolution, deaf and blind,
Created us to show his love
As clear as if The Artist signed.

We know because we’re more complex
Than any watch you have to wind;
The parts all mesh, and during sex
There’s even stuff that’s intertwined!

Ok, the lower back needs work,
At least mine does, I often find;
And, being male, another quirk—
My prostate’s often in a bind

I cannot make ascorbic acid—
Genes for that got left behind;
Spirit willing, flesh too flaccid,
Leaves my sex life undermined

So many problems on my list—
The limbs that ache, the joints that grind
The memories that fade to mist
Forever to the past confined

I guess a life of aches and pains
Is one to which I’m now resigned;
But still one shining fact remains:
It’s crystal clear, that Man’s designed.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My New Favorite Beauty Pageant

In the news today... Last weekend saw the 63rd Annual National Outdoor Show, complete with beauty pageant and muskrat-skinning competitions. This year, both competitions were won by the same girl, 16 year old Dakota Abbot, a lovely brunette who skinned two muskrats in one minute, forty-two seconds. The runner-up in the pageant, Samantha Phillips, did win the talent competition with her muskrat-skinning exhibition (the talent portion of the pageant is separate from the muskrat-skinning competition; Miss Abbott sang for her talent portion).

I'd quote from the Washington Post article, but every word is worth reading, so go read! In addition, there is an audiovisual montage that is wonderfully put together. The last picture features the winner, resplendent in her white evening gown, posing happily with a dead muskrat slung over her shoulder.


She’s not the average beauty queen
She’s so much more than that
She’s beautiful, she’s talented,
And she can skin a ‘rat.

The beauty crowned as “Miss Outdoors”
Has got a winning smile
But more than this, this pretty Miss
Has got a skinning style.

She’s gorgeous in an evening gown
Or waders, caked with mud;
Red polish on her fingernails
(It helps to hide the blood)

Dakota Abbott won, this year,
Both Pageant Queen and skinner;
Miss Universe, I’ll bet, will never
See that in a winner.

It's easily the coolest pageant
I have ever seen--
Congratulations to Miss Abbot,
Lovely Muskrat Queen!