PARTY!!!!! (A)

PZ reports on a story from the Sacramento Bee, about the trials and tribulations of that most persecuted of minorities, the heterosexual christian.

The state of California has new, gender-neutral marriage licenses, which list “Party A” and “Party B” instead of the previously-used “Bride” and “Groom”. This, of course, infringes on the rights of Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding (who wish the state to recognize them as “bride and groom”). The fact that they can, in fact, get married, does not deter them. Bird is not eligible for coverage under Codding’s medical benefits, nor can she legally take his name; a situation they share with gay couples in the majority of states. They could simply sign the form, or travel to another state and legally be married as Bride and Groom, options they do not share with gay couples in the majority of states. The article does not specify whether the couple opposes gay marriage, nor whether they feel marriage is a sacred institution and a lifelong commitment (it does state that this is the second marriage for each of them). They just want the state to call them Bride and Groom, they say.

I think it is a reasonable request, if and only if other couples can be Bride and Bride, or Groom and Groom, or Person A and Person B, dependent only on the couple’s own desires. Failing that, the current gender-neutral language does not deny any right to one group that it does not also deny to another, and (more importantly) the “right” that is denied does not in any way impede their ability to actually get married. The choice is theirs. Again, a situation they do not share with gay couples in the majority of states.

The bonds of holy matrimony
Must be seen as wholly phony
If, instead of “Bride and Groom” (or else, of “Man and Wife”),
It’s “Party A and Party B”
(That’s plainly not the same, you see!
That’s no way to address the one who’s going to share your life!)

Our Fellowship (Abundant Life)
Says marriage joins a Man and Wife
Forever as a couple, in Our Lord’s Most Holy View
As is, this form disparages
The sanctity of marriages—
(We ought to know—for each of us, it’s marriage number two)

We cannot enter wedded bliss
With such a godless form as this
A wedding contract, clearly, is between a bride and groom!
This stupid governmental form
Makes abnormality the norm—
A sign of the Apocalypse! A harbinger of doom!

If “Party B and Party A”
Is what the license now will say
The parties are both equal, which is not what God would say!
This new form is a disaster
If it doesn’t name me “Master”,
And it doesn’t state specifically, the missus must obey!


There are some who, even if they tried,
Could not—as yet—be Bride and Bride;
And could not even (yet) be Party A and Party B;
But still I hope that soon, some day
That any couple—straight or gay
Is given equal treatment here… from C to shining C.

Giant Naked Englishman Restored To Life… if you know what I mean…

A couple of reports today (well, yesterday, in Dorset, already) from the BBC report on the restoration of a unique English landmark. A 55-meter giant, wielding a club and sporting an erection, etched in the hillside at the top of a mountain of chalk on a hill in Dorset. The problem is, as it often is, time. With time, the mosses grow, the chalk turns gray or green, the grass obscures the outlines of the figure… It needs a makeover every decade or so–more frequently when the weather has been damper. The process really is impressive (videos available at the links above), as is the fact that these volunteers are carrying 18 tons of chalk up the hill, and 18 tons of dirty, mossy, decayed chalk down the hill, all by hand, a bag at a time.

Each ten (or, sometimes, fewer) years
A team of helpful volunteers
Ascends a hill in Dorset (which is quite a pretty walk)
They’ll haul their shovels, picks, and barrows,
Tamping tools, and rakes and harrows
Helping to restore a giant figure made of chalk

With weather and erosion losses,
Growth of lichens, or of mosses,
Overgrowing grasses now obscure the Giant’s form
So villagers, in long tradition
Set about upon their mission,
Climbing up the hillside, a benign, prosocial, swarm.

The object that demands protection?
A giant, with a huge erection,
Etched in narrow lines of chalk upon the Dorset hill.
He’s fifty meters tall, and nude,
Aroused, it seems, which some find rude
Made several hundred years ago, but gladly with us still.

Some people took a nose or eye
Some others had a foot or thigh
A body part for every volunteer, to catch them all.
Such grueling work, in wind and sun,
It must have been a lot of fun—
Just ask my Aunt Mathilda; why, she says she had a ball!

Sorry, Charlie!

So it seems that… 126 years after Charles Darwin’s death, the Church of England is considering apologizing to him. Considering. It is not yet an official Church position, so perhaps we shouldn’t get our hopes up. But at least one cleric, the Rev. Malcolm Brown, feels strongly enough about it that he has launched a website to promote the idea.

I guess one must call this progress, of a sort–at least it is not the religiously motivated abject denial of science and vilification of Darwin that we see in (some… most?) fundamentalist churches. But frankly, it seems to me that apology and forgiveness are part of the social interactions of living people. Once someone has died, you have missed your opportunity to apologize to them. There are enough wrongs in the world that really could use addressing–even if it is simply though apology and forgiveness–that muddying up the “I’m sorry” business by apologizing to the dead is not really helping much. Perhaps even hurting–if I can insult you, then assuage my guilt by apologizing after you are dead, that’s not a lot of motivation for me to do anything about it while you are still around.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

When giving an apology
To one you’ve wronged, it seems to me
That person really ought to be
Alive, so they can hear.

The Church of England feels it owes
Apologies, to put a close
To punching Charles Darwin’s nose
For oh so many years

“Our first reaction sure was wrong
But now I’m sure we get along
So let’s just tell the gathered throng
We’re sorry stuff was said”

“And though it’s just a little late,
We think, if you will contemplate
That you’ll forgive us—oh, but wait—
It seems that you are… dead.”

“So we could beg and wail and plead
And ask forgiveness in a screed
But there’s no Darwin there to read
What’s written on our letter.”

And so, although it’s overdue,
And makes no difference, Chuck, to you,
To say it’s worthless is untrue:
The Church, at least, feels better.

If you should spread the worst of lies
And hope to then apologize
And make it count, I would advise
You do it while they live.

But if your true, unstated, goal
Is really to yourself console
Who cares if Darwin’s in a hole?
I’m sure he’ll still forgive.

A Serious Message

After the hurricane, after the flood,
When the story’s been pulled off the air,
We mustn’t forget that it’s time to give blood,
If you have any in you to spare.

1-800-GIVE LIFE (to find where to donate blood)

Or you could Donate to the American Red Cross

Or find another way to help–the Red Cross does not have a monopoly, and it may be that your neighbor needs help as much or more than some stranger.

Just don’t waste your time praying.

Lipstick On A Pig…

Coturnix has found a wonderful video–a reporter from the Chicago Tribune going out to a farm to… put lipstick on a pig. It really says so much about the focus the media has on the truly important issues this election season.

Link to original video. (I had it embedded, but frankly it got annoying, since it starts up automatically.)

The other day, when I went out
To give the pigs their slop,
I noticed something quite unique,
That caused my jaw to drop:
My eyes bugged out a little bit;
My brain was doing flips–
For every pig was waiting there
With lipstick on their lips!
It’s all the rage, apparently,
Among the barnyard swine;
It’s sweeping farms across the world,
Including, clearly, mine.
They still were pigs, don’t get me wrong,
Of course the saying’s true,
But now my pigs had lipstick on,
In quite a gaudy hue.

Who knew that porcine makeup could
Command the nightly news?
Of course, there would be bickering,
And neighs, and clucks, and moos.
And so, of course, I should have guessed
What I would see today
While crossing through the farmyard, as
I brought the cows their hay:
The chickens were all gathered ’round
And wore, to my surprise,
A sparkly blue mascara
On the lashes of their eyes!
The horses had their highlights done–
One pony wore a weave–
The goats had gotten small tattoos
(They matched, if you’ll believe!)
The cattle all had rouged their cheeks
The sheep had pierced their ears…
In short, it was the strangest thing
I’ve seen in all my years.

The networks want to bring a truck
And put it all on tape;
They say the viewers love this stuff–
It leaves their mouths agape.
They’re going to run a five-part piece
(Cos four would be too short);
It’s good to know there’s nothing
More important to report.

The Big Bang… or Smush, Maybe…

PZ reports on a really cool new gadget, full of sciency goodness. Fast on the heels of that Hadron thingie that had us all excited yesterday, but didn’t end the world after all, comes the Evolutionary Acceleration Research Institute’s “Giant Animal Smasher”.

The GAS is a 25 mile tube buried ten feet below the surface, and accelerates the animals at rates up to 6,000 meters per second using a series of pulleys, levers and fusion reactors.


Of course, there are accusations of Physics Envy:

One scientist at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, said, “Biologists are just jealous of all the attention the LHC has been getting. Since they aren’t real scientists, they had to come up with this atrocity. Next thing you know the psychologists will build a brain smasher to compete.”

The bottom line is, scientists like to play God.

Or, perhaps, since we created Him in our own image, it is god that likes to play scientist.

My own take on the matter…. (and I think it is just smashing, if I say so myself)

I picture Young God, on some sort of a dare,
‘Cos all of the older, cool gods are all there,
Saying “what if I take all the stuff there was ever
And, hard as I can, smash it all up together?”
The other gods, laughingly, dare Him to try,
And because he’s an insecure kind of a guy,
He does it–he wants to be one of The Gang:
And that is what happened “before the Big Bang.”

End of the World ! (and I feel fine)

Allow me to be the last to tell you… they switched on the Large Hadron Collider.

In related news, the world has not come to an end.

The switch was thown in Switzerland
And protons zoomed around a bend—
Across the world, we clasped our hands
And waited for the world to end.

The scientists at Fermilab
Were hoping there was much to learn—
But true believers everywhere
Were voicing their concern with CERN

The particles accelerate:
When protons smash—what happens then?
Did CERN just push the “reset” switch,
To start the cosmos up again?

The scientists themselves do not,
For certain, know what happens next—
But there are some who claim the truth,
As written in their Holy Text:

The Lord will come—the end is nigh
The saved will fly to Jesus’ side
The sinners will be cast to Hell
So let the particles collide!

(Of course, predictions such as this
Have happened many times before,
And every time—oh, gee, they’re wrong.

Congratulations; wrong once more.)

Eeew–you got real life in my poetry!

Blake Stacey reports on an interesting case of censorship. Most of the details are depressingly familiar: somebody gets a bug up a bum about a poem–in this case, one that “glorifie[s] knife violence”. What is fascinating about this case is the author’s response. She must really believe that bit about the pen being mightier than the sword (Grand Fenwick notwithstanding), and pens a bit about swords:

You must prepare your bosom for his knife,
said Portia to Antonio in which
of Shakespeare’s Comedies? Who killed his wife,
insane with jealousy? And which Scots witch
knew Something wicked this way comes? Who said
Is this a dagger which I see? Which Tragedy?
Whose blade was drawn which led to Tybalt’s death?
To whom did dying Caesar say Et tu? And why?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark — do you
know what this means? Explain how poetry
pursues the human like the smitten moon
above the weeping, laughing earth; how we
make prayers of it. Nothing will come of nothing:
speak again. Said by which King? You may begin.

Not only does it make the point that “glorifying knife violence” is a charge that could be leveled against Shakespeare (for extra credit, can you answer the questions?), she (if I am right) gave a few clues that her first (banned) poem had a few Shakespearian allusions in it, as well. The speaker in the poem says “I am going to play God“, and begins his/her killing thusly: “I squash a fly against the window with my thumb. We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in/ another language and now the fly is in another language.” Which Shakespeare is the author speaking about here? I suspect Lear–Gloucester’s speech in Act 4: “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods, They kill us for their sport.”

I had two Shakespeare classes in a row once–last semester of High School, and first semester of College. The HS teacher felt the need to sanitize Romeo and Juliet for our protection, to pour oil over the waters of The Tempest, and to turn the emotion down on King Lear. It was horrible. If it weren’t for the movies, none of us would have had any exposure to what Shakespeare actually wrote. In college, our prof was the president of the American Shakespeare Society. ‘Nuf Sed. Shakespeare without blood and gore, sex and debauchery, bawdiness and foul language, is… is what I had in High School, and it ain’t art.

What if “A dream deferred” were seen as incendiary, and removed from classes? What if “Do not go gentle into that good night” were seen as depressing?

What if poetry–at least some of it–ceased to reflect the real world? Why would anybody read it? Why would students?

The world can be a nasty, brutal place;
Each fly, each fish, each person, all must die.
Though some may wish to paint another face
Upon it, should we choose to tell a lie?
“I squash a fly against the window” reads
The poem, but Shakespeare said it first, in Lear:
“As flies to wanton boys are we”—the seeds
Of Duffy’s poem are clearly there to hear.
When poets cannot pen the world they see,
But bend their will and Bowdlerize their poems
The brutal world can never cease to be—
Not in the books, but still in children’s homes.
So… gut the texts and purge the books of knives
Leave weapons in their place: the students’ lives.

update–13 October– I see a recent upsurge in hits, coming from Google, all from England. Could somebody leave a comment and let me know what’s going on? Are people googling for a class assignment? Was the poem in the news again? Just curious…

Praisin’ McCain!

Little Light runs a dog-whistle through a filter, so the rest of us can hear it. I must say, I was wondering what the point of Huckabee’s desk story was, let alone why it got such a response from the audience. Now that I know McCain’s secret identity, though…

When John McCain was crucified
Er, tortured, in Hanoi,
His actions served to earn a desk
For every girl and boy.

You cannot earn a desk yourself,
No matter what you do;
Be grateful Jesus John McCain
Has earned that desk for you.

So give him thanks; send John McCain
Your votes as well as prayers–
He died so we could all have desks!
(The school board bought the chairs.)

Hat tip to Bora!

God doesn’t like competition.

Via Diatomaceous Earth, via pharyngula, we have a letter to the editor, helpfully explaining the global warming crisis.

Well, folks, here we go again.
First they try to make us believe in the “big-bang” theory; then the “millions of years” theory; then the “we all came from monkeys” theory or even the “sea” theory.

Let’s get into the real solution as to what happened and read the Bible. Genesis will explain how it all was created.

Now for the global warming story Al Gore and others are pushing on us; it’s time to read Genesis to Revelation in the Bible.

When God sent the rain on this Earth for 40 days and nights, all this water had to go someplace so the Earth would be dry again.

Remember, God is the Creator and controls the universe.

God tilted the Earth from its original position and caused all the excess water to rush to the poles, and there he instantly froze the water into the ice formations that exist today.

Time is ticking down on God’s time clock. With all the nuclear bombs that are made and stored for the fast-emerging last battle, this Earth would burn up when these nuclear bombs are set off.

We are not creating global warming – God is tipping the Earth back to its original position on its axis and thus getting all this ice to get ready to move and extinguish the nuclear destructive fires man will create.

Time is running out, folks. Jesus is coming soon. Do you know him as your personal Savior?

Dear sir: Thank you for explaining
How the forty days of raining
As reported in a bronze-age myth, explains the current crisis.
Now I’ll sit and let my brain go
Limp, and thank God for the rainbow
And not bother with what’s happening to all the Arctic ices.
We know water only freezes
Cos it suits the will of Jesus;
In a moment it could all return to liquid H2O.
So when Man blows up the planet,
Time for Jesus, who began it,
To return the ice to water and to let the oceans flow.
To destroy the population
With a man-made conflagration?
Why, it’s blasphemous, if what the bible says to us is true!
Whether flood, or plague, or locust
God’s attention is now focused—
The destruction of humanity is Yahweh’s job to do!