Saturday, June 26, 2010

Total Skepticism

I awoke one early morning, stretched my toes to reach the floor;
Trying not to wake the dog up as I shuffled to the door.
I was quiet as a whisper as I tiptoed down the hall—
Then it struck me, that I wasn’t being skeptical at all!

I’d assumed I had awakened, but perhaps it wasn’t me—
It could possibly be someone else, or maybe two or three!
I’ve experienced illusions, and perhaps this was the case
(After all, the room was dimly lit; I couldn’t see my face!)

I’d assumed the floor would hold my weight, and wasn’t boiling hot,
I’d assumed my bed was on the floor, but maybe it was not;
Had I walked along the ceiling? Was the gravity turned on?
Was it possibly the clouds that I had trod my toes upon?

So I poured a cup of coffee, and I listened to the news,
Where some talking heads were arguing with one another’s views,
These were unfamiliar topics, but I knew which thoughts to trust—
But that isn't "being skeptical" the way I know I must!

Maybe this time it was special--maybe this time (what the heck?)
Maybe everyone should listen, just this one time, to Glenn Beck--
Maybe Hell had frozen over--who was I to know for sure?--
Maybe bounty was now growing where there once was just manure.

Had I traded in my frontal lobe, and final shreds of sanity,
The fence that keeps the normal folk from buying into Hannity?
I know I must be skeptical, but... must I all the time?
Can I trust that when you read these lines, you'll notice that they rhyme?

Long ago, a pedant told me "every time that you assume,
You make..." Likely he'd continued; I'd already left the room.
When he chased me down to finish it, I told the pedant "Hey,
Don't assume I give a damn about a thing you have to say!"

Or at least, I think I said it--at the time, at least, it seemed
Quite unlikely that the episode was something I had dreamed
Looking back, I have to wonder; as a skeptic, I must doubt,
Cos it seems to me more likely I'd just suck it up and pout.

But the moral of the story, if a moral can be found,
Is that skepticism's wonderful, and good to have around,
But it isn't all-or-nothing, it's a matter of degree;
Don't demand it, but encourage it, is how it seems to me.

(and yes, I know I am conflating modern skepticism with Cartesian, but that's where the muse dragged me.)

Animalia 2.0

In the little bits and pieces I’ve deciphered from the news,
As I search the databases for the tiniest of clues,
I’ve discovered there’s a pattern, and it’s filling me with fear:
Seems the animals are gearing up, and we provide their gear!

From genetic alterations making salmon grow much faster
(Which I swear I saw on SyFy, though the film was a disaster)
To a cute bionic kitty, newly fitted with faux paws,
There are animals aplenty, each ignoring nature’s laws!

When they modified a rabbit (which is now ten years ago!)
With a little bit of jellyfish, to make the bunny glow,
Why, it set the critics moaning, “We are turning into gods!”
They all knew where we were heading, and they didn’t like the odds.

Now the streets are filled with unicorns and twenty-five-foot spiders,
The apocalyptic nightmares feared by government insiders
And the necessary outcome (well, that's what the papers say)
Of the scientific progress we rely upon today.

So let's put a stop to science! In your heart, you know we should!
It can only lead to evil; it has never led to good!
It is mankind's worst invention, we acknowledge (to our shame)--
If I live to be a hundred, I say science gets the blame!

Inspired by the comments at the NYTimes following the first linked story above.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paul The Octopus

Paul the octopus, in his tank,
Could place his bets and break the bank!
Depending on which box he chooses,
One team wins, and one team loses--
So soccer fans can get their kicks
By betting on the box he picks.
A sea-borne male (which makes him Merman-y),
Paul’s picks are perfect, predicting Germany—
With Ghana down, the team advances,
So Paul must really like his chances.
(He only gets to eat his treats
When his team—Germany—competes)
So many teams have lucky charms;
Not many, though, can sport eight arms!

Der Spiegel Gallery of Pics! I'd love to post some here, but such are protected links. They are really worth seeing, though!

Some zoos in Germany have come up with a wonderful tie-in to the World Cup--they are asking their animals to predict the results of upcoming matches! Paul the octopus is the reigning star thus far, with a perfect 3-0 (he even predicted Germany's loss to Serbia, which was a serious upset!), but hippos, porcupines, and more have been placing their bets.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I used to like chipmunks. "Squirrels with racing stripes", they were cute, harmless little fellows. But now. Now, they have laid claim to my back yard, which I would not mind (less to mow!) except that the back yard is where the garden is! They have ruined several harvests over the past few years--popcorn a few years ago, bean seedlings last year, and every year, my strawberries. This year is the worst so far; I think Cuttlefamily has eaten less than a dozen strawberries, while the chipmunks have had hundreds.

While I’m weeding in my garden, as my calloused fingers harden
Every chipmunk in my yard enrages me with each tail-flip;
I had learned from cherished teachers, there were stripes upon these creatures,
Their identifying features, which I saw as they went zip—
Yes, the nimble little bastards did not run, so much as zip—
At a very speedy clip!

I’m no tree-or-rodent-hugger, and that cheeky little bugger,
With the holes that he has dug around my garden, makes me yip;
And I know it isn’t fairies that have heisted all my berries,
So I’m growing more than very certain, I must crack the whip!
If the bastards see me coming, they can all expect the whip—
With a shout of “chip, chip, chip!”

Every year, I’m more than willing to do seeding, weeding, tilling—
Must I now resort to killing pests that steal a little nip?
This is not some simple trifle—I don’t really think my wife’ll
Want me reaching for my rifle, much less shooting off a clip—
Though I must admit I’ve fantasized of firing off a clip,
Just to stop the “chip, chip, chip!”

Or a slug shot from my pistol, hitting medial or distal,
And a chipmunk-colored mist’ll stain my ivory-inlaid grip;
So the furry little beast would die, and I, I think, at least would
Look a little like Clint Eastwood, as I’m shooting from the hip—
I’d say “Punk, do you feel lucky?” as I’m shooting from my hip—
Just to stop the “chip, chip, chip!”

But of course, when I awaken from the daydream that I’ve taken
I will find that I’m mistaken, and he’s given me the slip!
Now he’s showing off and taunting, while his racing stripes he’s flaunting,
While my garden wall he’s haunting, from the bottom to the tip—
There are tunnels leading everywhere, from bottom to the tip
And that nasty “chip, chip, chip!”

And the chipmunk, never quitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
Eating all my food, and shitting, with a smile upon his lip
For he knows he has me mastered, and the furry little bastard
Treats my feeble heart so dastardly, I know my pulse will skip
I can only hope it starts again, but surely it will skip
From that beastly “chip, chip, chip!”

So... I am asking my intelligent and helpful readers for one of two things: either tell me how to get rid of chipmunks, or tell me your traditional family chipmunk recipes.

I'm serious. It's time to turn the tables.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Give God A Mop

Omniscient God must need a nudge
To see the oil, the tar, the sludge—
Or Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Don’t give a damn about the coast.

State senators proclaim this day
A time to join our hands and pray

Since “nothing works”, that’s what we’ll try—
We’ll all do nothing, you and I.

We’ll act as if the problem’s solved
By simply getting God involved,
And feel as if we played a part
By doing squat, with all our heart.

And as for those whose faith is weak,
Who clean the beaches, while we speak
With God? We know, and time will tell,
That God will send them straight to hell

So drop your shovels, drop your bags,
Your pelicans and soapy rags—
Acknowledge God is in control
And save the beach… and save your soul!


Know that God does not exist;
Won’t help us if His Ass gets kissed
So leave the senators to shirk,
Roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

Cuttlecap tip to PZ, of course.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


They say a place in Hell a-
Waits the psychopathic fella
Who designed the vuvuzela
And unleashed it on the game

For the players, many find it
Too distracting (some don’t mind it).
And the demon that designed it?
Neil Van Schalkwyk is his name.

By the thousands, fans would buy it,
Not intending to keep quiet
And the auditory riot
Was a feature of the stands

While the fans all cheered and rooted
Others thought the horns unsuited
And a new design, more muted
Was the least of their demands

But I’m really not condoning
All the moaning and the groaning
That accompanies the droning
In the media reports

They may think their writing’s vicious
But it’s mostly repetitious
And the fans are not malicious,
They’re just fans, and this is sports

As the contest pits the nations
Bringing tears and celebrations
Then one's hopes and expectations
Will determine what one hears--

If a fan’s enthusiastic,
Then this simple tube of plastic
Has a sound that’s just fantastic
And it's music to his ears!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Death in Utah

Ronnie Lee Gardner will die today,
Four bullets in his heart;
The state will kill him, in our name—
We all, then, play a part.
Though what he did was horrible,
I think it is a shame
The state will choose to kill as well
And do it in our name.

In a couple of hours, the state of Utah will shoot a murderer to death. Predictably, the news media are rubbernecking, presenting us with virtual views of the execution and all the details we have come to expect from executions... oh, wait, the media have ignored executions for the most part; they make lousy TV when there is no gunfire involved.

Cuttlestate also still has the death penalty on the books, but has not used it for a while. There is a possibility they will, soon, though. Which, seeing as our government is of, by, and for the people, will make me a killer.

I'd rather not be. It was bad enough when Gardner did it.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

One fish, Two fish

One fish
Two fish
Oily goo fish

This one’s gills are full of tar
Here’s one with a movie star
Oh! What a lot of fish there are!
Along the coast, from here to there
Dying fish are everywhere.

Here’s a bird—let’s call her Jill—
With oil on her enormous bill;
While trying to preen, she ate her fill,
And now poor Jill is deathly ill.

With oily feathers, oily beak,
Resulting from the BP leak,
The pelicans, from there to here
May, in a heartbeat, disappear.

For dying fish and dying birds
The time has come for more than words;
To keep this course we can’t allow:
We need to change; we need to now

Each time you choose to drive your car
To places near or very far,
That bird, whose wings are gummed with tar
Will drive with you, wheree’er you are.

Each time you change the thermostat
And heat your office, home, or flat
(Or cool it down, for all of that)
You help to make the feathers mat
On cormorant and singing chat

Each time… Oh, well. I think the most
I might expect from this poor post,
When every creature on the coast
Has given up its mortal ghost,
When every creature’s bathed in oil
And shuffled off this mortal coil
You might recall your humble host
And raise your glass and give a toast:
“We’ve found our greatest enemy—
And, funny thing… it seems it’s me.”

Friday, June 04, 2010

Church Response: Gulf Edition

The task is overwhelming,
So enormous is the scope,
There’s work enough for everyone;
We can’t sit back and hope.

Tending to the injured birds
And bagging up the dead;
So many tasks that must be done—
Why don’t we pray, instead?

We’ll hop inside our SUV’s
And drive them to the coast—
Once there, we’ll all join hands and pray
Where prayer is needed most.

We know the Lord works miracles,
And has our best at heart;
And maybe, if we show our faith
His holy work will start.

An hour or so of praying
Then we'll get up off our knees,
And we'll drive back to the parish
In our trusty SUV's.


The things they need are numerous,
So here's where we'll begin:
This crisis is a test of faith,
So send the chaplains in!

The crisis is ongoing;
It can wear a body down--
It's good in such emergencies
That chaplains are around.

(In fairness to the chaplains, they
Will only come when called;
They won’t impose themselves unasked,
Or I’d be more appalled.)


Katrina was an Act of God,
But this, an act of man—
Believers, though, still claim it’s part
Of God’s Eternal Plan

And know that there’s a purpose here
Whatever it may be;
Why God would want disaster
Is a mystery to me.


With faith, and hope, and charity,
The churches do their best;
Of course, it's people, never God,
Who answers their request;

Though thousands work, both day and night,
None here will find it odd
That people will, when all is done,
Collectively thank God.

(Though God alone, if God exists,
Had pow'r to intervene,
To stop the spill at any point
And change this tragic scene)

This God, it seems, is impotent--
It always has been thus--
For both prevention and for cure,
It's always up to us.

Miracle! (Surgery)

A miracle! It has to be!
Cos science can’t explain
The sudden disappearance of
A tumor in the brain!
It has to be the angels, who
Looked down from up above,
And bathed young Oleg’s cortex in
Their holy, shining love;
Or maybe it was Christ himself,
Although it may seem odd—
But healing is a habit for
The only Son of God;
Or else the intervention of
Some altruistic Saint,
Whose relic heard the family’s prayers
(It’s really rather quaint)
Or maybe it was Mother Mary
The kindly Blessed Virgin—

It couldn’t be three hours with
A gifted neurosurgeon

Cuttlecap tip to Zeno, via PZ.