Friday, October 31, 2008

I Proudly Am An Atheist

The recent news cycle has once again reminded us that we atheists are a subhuman species, not deserving of the oxygen we are hogging that might otherwise go to good godly people like... well, everybody in the media, every politician, every soccer mom, brave firefighter, patriotic flagwaver, and superhero--you know, the Good Folk. Greg Laden's blog has some examples--I don't want to link them here.

The second video at that link, in particular, turns my stomach. I can't watch it without hearing other terms substituted, all of them inappropriate and best left in the past, casually uttered by racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemites like, say, my Grandfather. His generation saw nothing wrong with such language--well, at least not among good white christian folk like him.

Gradually, of course, such language became an embarrassing remnant of an earlier time, relegated more and more to isolated pockets, to divided subcultures. The vocabulary is still there, but is no longer a part of polite talk; it is, at least, recognized as the insulting behavior it is. No one on the national stage would ever speak freely and casually about any of these groups as second-class citizens, let alone pariahs. (Yes, there are still the Sally Kerns of the world, and the YouTube videos of groups waiting for McCain rallies, but the very fact that these are posted as examples of inappropriate behavior, and that these people would never say the same things on national television, is precisely my point.)

With one exception. Atheists are fair game. "Godless" is still defined as "wicked; evil; sinful"; an accusation of "consorting with atheists" is grounds for slander. Not just in hushed tones when we are fairly certain the microphone is off, but proudly, deliberately, on national television. Not just Liddy Dole's shameful ad, but the CNN discussion of that ad, takes the moral inferiority of the atheist as a given.

Disgusting. Just as it was before with any other group. And just as divisive as before--using group membership as a weapon. I had hoped for better. I hope that some newsperson, somewhere, on the national stage, has the guts to call out his or her peers on this. I will not hold my breath.

I proudly am an atheist;
I do not share your views.
Imagine how insulting,
When I watch the evening news
And I see you point at folks like me
Indignantly, with rage,
As if we were the lepers
Of a less enlightened age!
No need to watch your language
Or to treat us with respect—
Because demonizing us is still
Politically correct.
You’d never talk like this regarding
Blacks, or Gays, or Jews,
But with atheists, just look at all
The language that you use!
“Obama is a terrorist”—of course
The claim’s obscene;
But “Hagan is an atheist”?
The worst you’ve ever seen?!?
Comparing her to me is now
The lowest of the low?
It’s good I don’t believe in Hell—
I’d tell you where to go.

I proudly am an atheist
I proudly am a Jew
I proudly am a Christian,
And I’m proudly Muslim, too.
I’m proud to be both Gay and Straight
I’m proudly Black and White
I’m proudly Man and Woman
And I’ll proudly join the fight.
I proudly am Humanity,
Whatever that is worth;
There is no group below me,
Or above me, on this Earth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

... The Rest Of The Story (Sweet Zombie Jesus!)



It started so simply--they'd meet and they'd pray
And perhaps join each other in song
How could they have known that this beautiful day
Would so soon go so horribly wrong?

Their prayers went unanswered--well, no, it was worse,
They were answered by God up above
The Old Testament God, of the famine and curse
Not the wimpy New Testament love.

When God saw them gathered, it looked like a calf
They were worshipping, not their Creator--
And as Yahweh is more prone to smolder than laugh,
It's smite first, then ask questions later.

But God's getting old--He's not right in the head,
And His aim's not the same since the Flood
So now these good christians are Living Undead
With a craving for brains and for blood.

So heed the examples on Wall Street this week
As they struggle to shuffle and moan--
Count your blessings, although the economy's bleak;
No more praying--just leave God alone!

(ok, the truth is the zombie stuff is from
Zombiecon 2008. Well worth checking out...)

More Bull!

Haven't we heard something like this before?

The photograph is worth a laugh--
They're praying at a golden calf?
It might be nice if they'd think twice
And offer it a sacrifice!

The Ba'al Street Journal, in its turn'll
publish all their acts infernal

Hmm... you think The Giver can deliver
And maybe part the Hudson River?
Give a sign that all is fine
And part of His proposed design--

That banks will bail and markets fail
And senators will go to jail
All by God's hand, just as He planned
And these folks just don't understand?

By logic's rules we learned in schools
The best bet is... these folks are fools.

photo thanks to Wonkette, cuttlecap tip to PZ.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 5

Just collecting a few odds and ends...

From a PZ thread “Magic isn’t science”...

The Discovery folks, in defiance of science,
Pretend that their methods are new and improved;
The cost of believing in magic is tragic--
These people have clearly had brain parts removed!

From a fun little Friday Cephalopod post (nom nom nom nom)...

A small blue fish--it's all I wish;
A crunchy, chewy, tasty dish!
Each little bite is pure delight--
I'd nom nom nom all day and night!

Every day, the inky deep
Is where a cuttlefish may creep
That little fish? Today it's him--
Tomorrow, children as they swim!

From "Well, maybe it is exactly like their brains",

The experts say, in their reports,
The frontal lobe is made of quartz.

The temporal--they checked it twice--
Is made of something else: that's gneiss.

What's more, it's clear that your parietal
Is chert--a sort of flint varietal.

I'm not sure what makes up your occipital,
Whatever it is, it doesn't chip-at-all.

And lastly, from Sarah Palin: Ignorant and anti-science...

One wonders: will Palin prevail in detailin'
The follies of funding the fruit-flies in France?
Or will this disclosure expose her composure
Is stunningly stupid--a stultified stance?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Return Of Inkmaster Cuttle!

At a meet-and-greet on a one-way street
As I beat the concrete with the soles of my feet
Saw a sweet petite with a smokin’ seat
And discreetly but fleetly I asked her to eat
But I beat a retreat through the heat in defeat
When she asked “Are you one of them Librul Elite?”

Resigned to my fate, I just ate off my plate
While Kate set me strait about bait in Kuwait
And the blue state crime rate, dictators, desecrators,
Lightweight running mates makin’ great procreators
It’s late while I wait but she doesn’t abate
The spate of hate she relates at my pate

So the pain in my brain begins straining again
And I’m looking in vain to obtain some champagne
I can drain, she sustains her refrain to no gain.
I try to explain that I’m going insane
Make it plain her campaign I will hold in disdain
I am not on the train for the reign of McCain

When at last I convey what I wanted to say
That I’m not gonna stray, she displays her dismay,
Then “Ok”, makes her way from the little buffet
I survey her display as she’s walking away
And her hips start to sway like some sort of cliché
I say “Hey… wait… hey… was that Tina Fey?”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Modest Proposition (Eight)

It’s a simple little proposition, Proposition Eight:
All we ask is that you join us, as we all discriminate!

This is only the beginning of a looming Culture War,
As we try to set the clock back to the way it was before
If the homos get to marry, it will not end there, of course:
What’s to stop someone from marrying a cat, or dog, or horse?
To put morals back in marriage, we need strong religious views
And we need them now! We missed the chance before, with Blacks and Jews.
It’s a simple little proposition, Proposition Eight:
All we ask is that you join us, as we all discriminate!

Take a moment to consider, looking deep within your heart;
It’s supported by the bible—well, the homophobic part,
And that “love thy neighbor” business can be taken many ways
See, my Lord and Savior’s neighborhood did not have any gays.
And Leviticus—or maybe Laws—I’m not quite sure which verse,
Says that murderers are worse than thieves, but gays are even worse!
It’s a simple little proposition, Proposition Eight:
All we ask is that you join us, as we all discriminate!

For centuries—millenia—the whole of human life—
A marriage was the union of a Husband and a Wife;
Now the California liberals are preying on our fears,
And they’ll force us to equality and civil rights for queers!
Then the gays will think they’re people, just like you and just like me,
So we have to stop this here and now—and Jesus would agree!
It’s a simple little proposition, Proposition Eight:
All we ask is that you join us, as we all discriminate!

Friday, October 24, 2008

X-Rays From Sticky Tape?!?!

The New York Times reports on a new study in the current edition of Nature; it seems a new source of X-rays has been discovered. Scotch tape. Yup. Unrolling sticky tape in a vacuum releases a surprising amount of energy, some of it in the form of X-rays! (Extremely cool video here.) My favorite quote: "The researchers suggest that the high charge density generated by peeling the tape could be great enough to trigger nuclear fusion."

The characteristic defining a human 
distinctly apart from an ape
Not opposable thumbs, or intelligent thinking, 
but what we can do with Scotch tape.
Your chimp or bonobo or highland gorilla 
will typically not even care
And orangs and gibbons tear tape into ribbons 
and tangle it into their hair.
It’s humans alone who will try to discover 
what else you can do with the stuff
(As if wrapping presents or fixing a photo 
were not inspiration enough).
A professor of physics at UCLA, 
in a demo both simple and clever,
Showed X-rays emitted when tape is unrolled 
in a vacuum—the coolest thing ever.
Enough were emitted to X-ray a finger—
a medical use may be found;
Or measuring wear of composites; it seems 
that the new applications abound!
The X-rays are different for each brand of tape, 
and they didn’t find any for “duct”;
Which is just fine by me, cos if duct tape gets weapons,
humanity surely is fuct.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you all.

This post marks this blog's official birthday; one year ago The Digital Cuttlefish went public. Since that time, 195 posts, more than 200 poems, and you people have changed my world. So again, thank you.

My readers are wonderful people. I know this from comments, I know this from seeing my verses posted around the globe on other sites, even in other languages. I know this because it was my readers, with their donations, who afforded me the opportunity this past summer to begin an incredible journey that has not yet ended. (If that is cryptic to any of you, no worries--the people who helped know who they are.) And of course, there are six of you, spread out over three continents, whom I have actually met; so far, 100% wonderful.

I don't see a whole lot of reason to stop now (although every few weeks I become convinced that I have run out of topics, run out of rhymes, run out of inspiration--until some creationist, politician, or cephalopod makes the news and re-inspires me); indeed, I am even in the process of compiling and editing some hundred or so of the past year's verses into an actual dead-trees book, which I hope will be available for your squidmas and cephalopodmas needs.

Anyway, thanks, much more than I have the ability to put into words. Especially my long-time readers and commenters, who provided the rewards that kept me going when I was lucky to have a couple dozen readers a day. And also to those who read but do not comment (614 visits from Uppsala, compared to only 366 from New York City? More visits from Miramichi than from London? You people are so cool!), who force me to imagine how you found this site (ok, mostly through Pharyngula) and what you think of it. If you wish, consider this post an invitation to just say hi in the comments!

Now, the real world calls, and I had better prepare for it. Here's to another successful orbit!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Fechner Day!

158 years ago today, Gustav Theodor Fechner awoke from a dream which would change his life, and the course of science itself. In his dream, Fechner had discovered the key to studying sensation and perception, the method to measure the mind itself. Of course we cannot simply turn up some switch and increase your awareness, or your sensitivity, or anything about your experience of the world; prior to Fechner's dream, the only way to study your thoughts was... to think about them. Introspection, essentially. It could not be systematically controlled-indeed, the very thought of controlling the mind, that non-physical part of Descartes dualistic view of Man, was ludicrous.

But Fechner found a method that, in hindsight, was simplicity itself. He would vary the external stimulus systematically, and an observer would report whether a perceptual change was noticed. Can you tell the difference in brightness between this light and this one? Can you tell a difference in saltiness between this solution and this one? Can you tell a difference in weight between this cylinder and this one? By reducing the subject's responses to a simple choice, and varying stimulus materials, Fechner could measure sensitivity and bias separately, and could determine both absolute thresholds (the dimmest light, quietest sound, lightest weight, that one can detect 50% of the time) and difference thresholds (how much brighter, louder, heavier, must a stimulus be in order for that difference to be detected) for a number of different sensations and stimuli.

And he found that our perceptions are describable by mathematical equations--initially a simple linear function (Weber's Law), improved to a logarithmic function (Fechner's Law), suggesting that just maybe our minds are not working under separate and distinct rules than our bodies. Fechner's work laid the groundwork for the science of Psychophysics, and pretty much all of experimental Psychology owes a debt to his methodology.

For this Fechner Day, I am re-posting a portion of an older post, from last February. You will see why.


Parenthetically, I note with sheer joy the fact that the paper cites Fechner (1877). And it is relevant. How cool do you have to be, to have your work cited 131 years after you wrote it? As cool as Fechner, that's how cool. Fechner more-or-less invented the science of psychophysics, managing to capture sensation and perception scientifically for the first time. And here he is, cited in a 2008 paper. On machines tasting espresso.

On second thought, that might be my problem right there. I am still impressed by Fechner, and I live in a world where machines can meaningfully taste coffee. Food... or espresso... for thought.

I have a machine to smell my coffee,
To see if it’s any good;
I asked it to make me the perfect cup,
But I think it misunderstood—
It analyzed alkaloids, sampled aromas,
Tried seventeen samples of beans,
Then told me I clearly had no taste at all:
I never was good with machines.

My pre-owned car has an onboard computer—
It measures my driving, you see.
I guess I don’t drive like the previous owner;
My car likes him better than me.
It spits out a spreadsheet of technical numbers—
I don’t know what much of it means,
Except that my car thinks it’s better without me:
I never was good with machines.

Of course, at my office, I have a computer—
The one I am using right now;
It laughs at my grammar and sneers at my spelling,
Although I’m not really sure how.
Just one tiny part of a cubicle farm
Where we’re packed like so many sardines—
Do we use computers, or do they use us?
I never was good with machines.

I’m worried that someday my household appliances,
Sitting at home on my shelves,
Finally realize there’s nothing I offer
That they can’t do better themselves.
They make better coffee, they get better mileage,
Their words rarely stink up their screens—
And I’ll be left out in the cold and the dark:
I never was good with machines.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beats Thinking For Yourself...

Sorry, Perky--if the last video made you happy, this one will probably make you sad.

I got out of bed this morning, and asked Jesus what to wear
Then I asked if I should brush my teeth, and how to fix my hair
I asked my Lord and Savior if he'd rather ask of me
To have sugar in my coffee, or to skip it and drink tea

When I walk along, I ask the Lord which foot should step out first
Cos I know that Jesus doesn't want my feet to be reversed
There's no end to all the messages I hear my Jesus say
So I never have to think at all, so long as I can pray

While I try to love my neighbor, as the Bible says I must
I'm not sure about that black one, as the Lord and I discussed
Sure, he's married, he's got children, he's a member of the church
But I've found he's really Muslim, cos the Good Lord helped me search

Though it's not in any papers--there's no data you could chart--
I have all I need for evidence, right here inside my heart
It's the Holy Word of Jesus, so I know it must be true
Not my fault that Jesus talks to me, but never talks to you

So the most important reason I am voting for McCain
Is he's not a godless Muslim with the middle name Hussein
Now we've had a nice discussion, and I've really had some fun
But the interview is over now, cos Jesus says we're done

Cuttlecap tip to PZ, once more...

A Reminder...

Research on social-cognitive heuristics tells us that we are overly influenced by vivid examples, even if they are examples of rare phenomena (thus we are more likely to be afraid of flying than of driving, despite the safety records, because airplane crashes make national news while more common car crashes may not even make the front page of the local paper). Recent videos on YouTube have shown political "supporters" making outrageous statements, and it is all too human for us to see that as the rule rather than the exception. But... it is the exception. The majority of supporters on both sides are good, decent, thoughtful people like you.

Of course there are Christians, of course there are Muslims,
And Atheists, Pagans, and Jews
Supporting McCain or supporting Obama—
Supporting a spectrum of views—
Of course there are numbskulls, and ignorant pinheads
Whose views are incredibly dense,
And of course they reside on both sides, red and blue
Of the nation’s political fence
It gets to the point where we almost expect it—
Perhaps it’s what humans just do—
We forget these are merely the vocal extremists
Whose numbers, in truth, are quite few.
These salient images seen in the media
Show us ourselves at our worst
But just look around, and you’ll see something different,
And not what it looked like at first:
The people who back both McCain and Obama
Are people like you and like me
And most are intelligent, thoughtful and kind,
And like us, they don’t like what they see.
This silent majority, not in the news,
When confronted with ignorant hate
May decide to combat it, or maybe ignore it,
Or challenge them to a debate
And sometimes you’ll find that these ignorant cowards
Back down when you call out their bluff
So… if you’re like me, and you’re sick of the lying,
Decide that enough is enough!
And remember, the ignorant liars can shout
Until all of their faces are blue;
When you get in that booth, and you pull shut the curtain…
The one with the power is you.

Cuttlecap tip to Orac, and to Coturnix

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 4

A comment about a website urging readers to pray for John McCain... cos we know that makes a difference.

We pray for peace, we pray for rain
And now we pray for John McCain
We pray with everything we've got
And once again... it won't do squat.


On a very very cool fossil find from a Cambrian site; chains of shrimplike arthropods, locked head-to-tail in a conga line. It being a fossil, and not a film, one cannot tell for certain what was happening with the little critters. I offered a few thoughts.

A playful cuttlefish, he locks
The headless shrimp like LEGO blocks
In chains from tiny to colossal,
Just to make a funny fossil.
Creationists, of course, believe
That Adam made, to give to Eve,
A necklace out of arthropods
(The real design, of course, was God's)
A strange behavior this complex?
It almost has to mean it's sex:
The overwhelming urge in life--
Unless, of course, you are my wife.


In response to Bill Donohue's calls for YouTube censorship:

Could we maybe slap a sticker on that book they call The Bible
To protect the younger readers from the trauma it might cause?
There has got to be a reason--for protection, or for libel--
If The Children are in danger, why, we must enforce the laws!


One I missed earlier, on the Cracker kerfuffle:

With spikes through hands and spikes through feet
The Son of God went home to Dad;
A sacrifice which made complete
The reason God had made the lad;
Thus death was triumph, not defeat,
A reason we should all be glad--

This time, not flesh but merely wheat
(And flavorless, I think I'll add)
Which P.Z. did not choose to eat
But skewer with a nail he had...
The controversy? Pure conceit--
Or else the world's gone barking mad.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time Machine

Inspired by PZ and XKCD...

I really have a time machine--I really truly do
A time machine I'd like to share with no one else but you.
We'll travel through the future--no one knows just what we'll see,
If you would just agree to share my time machine with me!

My time machine--Our time machine--will move through time and space;
And lead to--who can tell?-- the future is a big, big place!
Our time machine goes forward--sometimes slowly, sometimes fast--
But always to the future, Love, and never to the past.

If you will share my time machine, the world is at our feet,
The past is what it always was; the future will be sweet.
The march of time is constant, and it will not be denied,
But time itself can fuck itself, if you are by my side.

God Save Us All...

In a cogent and thoughtful essay bizarre set of free associations and finger pointing, Melanie Phillips looks over from across the sea--you know, where people point at the US at amazement for how we kowtow to the religious right--and helpfully suggests that she has found the root of the problem. I have taken the liberty of organizing her remarks just the slightest bit...

God save us from the Atheists--
They're even worse than Gays;
God save us from depravity and wicked, wicked ways.

They reek of impropriety
And decadence and sin
Their morals do not come from God, but rather from within!

Their Bedrock Moral Values
Are discarded in the dust;
No fear of Hell prevents them from succumbing to their lust!

Why, only our profound belief
In God's Most Holy Joys
Prevents us from--well, most of us--molesting altar boys!

As Jesus said, "forgive them"
In His final mortal breath--
We'd never bother cracker-thieves, nor threaten them with death.

Our Faith provides humility--
We know that we are flawed.
And sometimes our appeals for tithes are bordering on fraud

And looking through our history
Of meeting other cultures
It seems sometimes we're not quite doves so much as we are vultures

But through it all, we're moral
Cos we're acting in God's Name;
And when our culture goes to Hell... there's Atheists to blame.

Hat tip to PZ, of course.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Limericks--a slight change...

After a bit of thinking about the Friday Limericks topic this week, I came to a realization. One of my versical heroes, the late great Felicia Lamport, used to have a column in the Boston Globe, "The Muse of the Week in Review", which set the week's current events to her inimitable style. It seems to me that this should be the purpose of the Friday Limerick post--besides, that way commenters can prepare in advance without having to read my mind (any who have done so successfully, get out!).

So, the new topic depends on what you have seen each week--have at it!

In the sights of an eloquent foe
John McCain (and a plumber named Joe)
Were compelled to talk straight.
(I don't mean the debate;
But to Dave, on the Letterman Show!)

You may think that some research is dumb
And too often the findings are glum
So when this lab proposes
A way to clear noses
You're liable to protest "Come, come!"

As the pollsters begin their revue
And the candidates start to pursue
I'm just sick to the death--
Won't they just hold their breath!?
('Till two-thirds of the nation turns blue...)

Please, tell me... there has to be something better than this in the news where you are reading/watching it...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A few thoughts on the debate

Well, at least I wasn't bored.

When confronted with specifics, like the cries of "he's a terrorist"
And asked if he'll decry them, so to calm the rabid throng,
It is telling that McCain, instead, decried his opposition--
He is proud of his supporters, but Obama's thugs are wrong!
I can't wait to see the Daily Show comparing his reaction
To the videos on youtube John McCain seems to have missed;
You can pander to Neanderthals, but when the day is over
There will come the recognition--that's the Devil you just kissed.

When you’re losing in the middle ground and know you can’t recover,
The temptation’s irresistible to pander to your base;
Once you’ve written off the liberals, you’re free to use your rhetoric
On Bible-issue voters—take abortion as one case.
Disagreements are expected on a topic like abortion
When a right to life is weighed against a woman’s right to choose—
But to sneer with condescension at the “Mother’s health” exceptions?
First, the voters; now your dignity—what else ya got to lose?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Adding Insult To Injury (or, adding abuse to grief)

(Every word of this is true.)

A friend of mine, some thirty years ago,
The eldest son, a farming family’s pride,
Was gone from school, about a month or so
Before we heard the truth—the boy had died.

He’d fallen from a tractor in a field,
Though whether he was dead first, we don’t know;
The coroner’s exam? Too late to yield
An answer; there was nothing it could show.

His parents tried to cure the boy with prayer--
They brought him home, and put their son to bed.
Devout and faithful, hope turned to despair;
It broke their hearts, admitting he was dead.

Their church—to whom they turn when times are rough—
Blamed them, and said they had not prayed enough.

(This is one of the reasons I care.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

The 2008 IgNobels are awarded!

My hopes for an IgNobel in literature are dashed by David Sims, of Cass Business School, for his article in Organizational Studies (vol.26, no. 11, 2005, pp.1625-40). That bastard.

But the IgNobel prizes are always reason to celebrate. I hope this is merely the first of several verses inspired by this year's prizes--a bit combining The Economics prize (lap dancers earn higher tips when ovulating) and the Physics prize (mathematical proof that string tangles into knots). The two findings just seem to go together... or maybe it's just me. (The form is inspired by a song by Tim Minchin)

Are the twistings and gyrations of a dancer in a g-string
A sufficient agitation to reduce aforesaid panties
To a knot?

Are the naughty knotting knickers the spontaneous expression
Of the underlying physics of materials, or is it
Merely hot?

Do the pheromones emitted hint at multiple causation
When covariant regression says the dancers may be thinking
Of their eggs?

And the most perplexing question from a scientist's perspective--
How the devil did they justify expenditures to stare at
Women's legs?

In utterly unrelated news... apparently I was reddited; yesterday and today are my two highest hit counts, nearly five times my last maximum. I hope, some day, to be pharyngulated, to empirically compare the two effects...

Not today, though. Please.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ignorance Ain't Bliss For Me

"I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day"
--Douglas Adams

Think of the things a flagellum would tell ‘em
If only they knew how to open their eyes
The stuff they could see through their glasses surpasses
Their presuppositions, distortions and lies
If all they believe is the bible, they’re liable
To miss a real world that is there to be seen
But gladly the biblical thinkers wear blinkers
And try to decipher the code of the gene

It’s hard to imagine a finer designer
Than blind evolution and millions of years
But this explanation’s (quite oddly) ungodly
And quickly rejected for fanning their fears
They cannot accept evolution’s solutions
And make up a God who’s the cause of it all
Myself, I can’t use that religion, one smidgen
It’s selfish and petty; I can’t think that small

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Quack Guide To Intelligent Evolution

A quick and simple (in every sense of the word) guide to Intelligent Evolution makes good use of our old friend circular reasoning, assuming its conclusions all the way to proving the existence of the intelligent designer, simply by assuming that A) DNA is an example of "design" and B) all designs require a designer. They could have saved a step, by instead of using two false assumptions, simply assuming their final conclusion in one step, but I suppose that would have taken the fun out of it.

The code contained in DNA
Is evidence, or so they say,
God’s handiwork, there on display, the product of His Mind.
It’s plainly seen by any fool
It’s more than just a molecule
But rather, a precision tool that shows that we’re designed!

This molecule contains the clues
Creationists can gladly use
To show we did not come from ooze, through natural selection;
No “nature, red in tooth and claw”
But God, in wonderment and awe
Created, like a man of straw, his image in reflection.

A “pattern” differs from “design”
In elements which we define—
If your examples don’t match mine, why, mine are clearly right.
Our genes’ designs are clearly code;
A blueprint—Man, or tree, or toad—
From information God bestowed, in His most perfect Sight.

This Holy Blueprint I assume
Is proof we’re woven on God’s loom,
Created by the one to Whom we’re in eternal debt
The fact that I assumed it, true,
Could leave my “therefores” all askew
But have I ever lied to you? I wouldn’t take that bet.

You might suggest my logic’s flawed,
That my conclusion’s over-broad,
Or go all out and call me fraud—I’m doing righteous work!
I figured “What would Jesus do,
To have God’s message shining through?”
He’d lie, and cheat, and misconstrue, and be a total jerk!

And what’s important isn’t facts
But saving souls, and so the tracts
Say “judge them by their righteous acts” like lying in His name—
My logic’s circularity
Is more than mere hilarity
It’s honest Christian charity… and really, that’s a shame.

Cuttlecap tip to PZ, of course.

Rest of poem here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Thought I Saw An Atheist... In North Carolina

Our friends at Friendly Atheist and Daylight Atheism are in the spotlight these days. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) is attacking her opponent, Kay Hagen, simply by telling voters that Hagen, well, won't actively discriminate against atheists. Click through for the stories, even if you read PZ's take on it. As for me...

I thought I saw an atheist
Approach a voting booth—
Her voice was shrill, her eyes were wide
Her manner quite uncouth;
She tried to force her views on us
And exercise control—
I looked again—I’m wrong once more
Why, this was Liddy Dole.

I thought I saw an atheist
Discriminate and hate;
Deride a weak minority
Because the hour’s late—
To try to stir the masses
She’s been losing in the polls;
I looked again, and listened well—
Those words were Liddy Dole’s

I thought I saw an atheist,
So “radical” and “vile”
Wage war against America--
A villain with a smile
Promoting hate, promoting fear
For petty, selfish gain—
I looked again, and clearly saw
The Liddy Dole campaign

I thought I saw an atheist
Stand up and say “no more!”
I will not be your scapegoat
Like so many times before!
Americans, stand up as Christian
Muslim, Jew, and Pagan,
Or atheist, or anything,
And cast your vote for Hagan!

Of course, this poem expands on the original here and the first revisiting here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

International Cephalopod Appreciation and Awareness Day!

Cephalopodcast has some suggestions:

Top 10 Things You Can Do on Cephalopod Appreciation Day

1-- Make a Cephalopod
hansigurumi, home of peculiar knitted cephalopods and other original designs
Papercraft Flying Squid

2-- Wear a Cephalopod
Buy a plush squid hat
Make a quick squid costume using office supplies

Oops--their links did not work here. Oh well, you'll have to click through for the links, and for the rest of the top ten list!

I will suggest an 11th: Follow a cephalopod. In particular, follow a cuttlefish; even more specifically, follow a Digital Cuttlefish!

(I must admit, I really have no idea what all this "following" means, but I have noticed a handful of "followers" when I log on to, and I figure I might as well make it easier for people to do this if it is something they are interested in.)

You may find it funny, you may find it odd
To follow a virtual cephalopod
But click if you wish, and follow me, follow,
For all of the verse (and much more) you can swallow!
If you want to sign up, or just think that you might,
The link's over there, just a bit to the right.

Being the obsessive type (what, really? NO! we couldn't tell!), I would love to see as many followers as possible. I don't know why. But if you like what you read here, or if you are angry and insulted by what you read here, or you just feel like clicking a link, sign up, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your pets, tell your enemies (and their pets, too), and make me regret the day I even considered putting up a followers list!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare....

What a long strange trip it's... nah, wrong music. It has, though, been the end of an era. Probably. Remember "Greed is good"? Remember Milken, and Boesky, and Schwarzman? Remember the parties, and the cocaine, and the opulence? Yeah, well, my dad remembered when his house was first wired for electricity, and the magic of turning on a bare lightbulb. Your kids and grandkids will find it all rather amusing.

I have given up predicting the future, but it certainly feels different this time. Seven Hundred Billion Dollars.

Actually, it feels like "dollars" are the wrong monetary unit. History has enshrined a particular coin as the touchstone of such situations... and even though the melody has to accommodate just a bit, it still has the right feel.

They used to tell me streets were paved with gold, they told me greed was good,
There were stocks and bonds and buildings to sell, millions to make if I could.
They used to tell me streets were paved with gold, all across this great land,
Why should I be off to D.C., holding out my hand?

Once I built a market, I watched it grow, every day in The Times
Once I built a market, well, you know... Brother, can you spare me…
Seven trillion dimes
Once I worked on Wall Street, I rolled in dough, with my partners in crimes
Once I worked on Wall Street, well, you know... Brother can you spare me…
Seven trillion dimes

Once in tacky suits, with condos to sell
Bullish on sub-prime real estate loans
Half a trillion bucks in short-terms as well
And I was the guy with the phones

Say, don’t you remember, you called me Hank, all throughout the Dow’s climbs
Say, don’t you remember, I ran your bank, buddy can you spare me…
Seven trillion dimes

Once in tacky suits, with condos to sell
Bullish on sub-prime real estate loans
Half a trillion bucks in short-terms as well
And I was the guy with the phones

Say, don’t you remember, you called me Hank, all throughout the Dow’s climbs
Say, don’t you remember, I ran your bank, buddy can you spare me…
Seven trillion dimes

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Modern Technology Meets Bronze-Age Morality

PZ reports about the modesty police, the ultra-orthodox Jews who are justifiably fed up with lust and temptation, and are doing something about it! That's right, they are stoning women who dress provocatively and lead good men to evil thoughts.

PZ's suggestion?
Hey, I have a suggestion for all those fearful people who want to punish women for being so darn tempting. Instead of targeting women, let's have all orthodox, fundamentalist men fitted with devices that measure penis enlargement, and that set off blinking lights and whistles mounted on the gentleman's hats when significant arousal is detected. Then the clerics and rabbis and orthodox mobs can patrol the streets and stone anyone with a flashing hat — one way or another, the visible responses to perfectly ordinary human forms will disappear, the clerics will be able to claim victory over temptation, and they can stop abusing innocent women.

What an incurable optimist.

Of course, what really would happen if someone were to use such a device?

You have to promise not to laugh
Although my logic's iffy;
I hooked up a plethysmograph
To show I've got a stiffy.

So if some woman's leg I see
And "beep-beep!" goes my cock,
I do what scripture asks of me
And hit her with a rock.

If just a bit of ankle shows
But I still get a boner,
I'm justified, my Rabbi knows,
To go ahead and stone her

The scriptures say it's not my fault
Some temptress shows some skin
It's simple justice, not assault,
To stone her for her sin.

We'll stone the sluts, on God's behalf
Till all temptation's gone...
But... wearing this plethysmograph?
It kinda turns me on...