Why, You’ve Grown A Whole Foot!

One of the wonderful things about babies
Is counting each finger and toe,
And seeing the miniature fingerprint whorls—
Each one is unique, as you know.
The joy’s universal, or so I would hope;
I don’t think I need to explain.
But no one expects to find fingers or toes
On a foot growing in your kid’s brain!

But three-day-old Sam is a miracle baby;
Mom sees him smile and laugh—
He’s cuter than any one kid ought to be;
He’s cute as a kid and a half!
His story, first told to a small, local paper
Has now hit the public arena;
They don’t say they’re looking for names for the foot
But the natural choice is “Athena”

A Critical Examination Of Belief

I noticed something while grading yesterday–a student had found that our class topic had presented some challenges to his belief system. Our topic often does that. He decided to write his final paper on those challenges, and to see whether the two positions might be made more compatible. (Of course, the possibility that one or the other was simply wrong did not make an appearance in his paper.) He examined the evidence to see why people would believe our topic, but apparently did not feel that he had to make any similar justification for his own belief, beyond “I believe in God”. I must admit, I have to wonder a bit about the strength of a belief that is never subjected to inquiry. I would love to see the same amount of work put into the other half of his paper, the one that should begin “I believe in God, for the following reasons…” But I suspect I know the answer.

This verse is not about him.

I’ve examined evolution, and I think I understand
Though the evidence is shaky, still I think the theory’s grand
But it’s only just a theory, so it’s only just a start
And an open-minded person should try picking it apart.
No belief without a reason! Give me proof of what you claim!
And the more I look, the more I see the evidence is lame!
When considering a tangled bank, I choose to see God’s Laws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

Charles Darwin drew a picture of an ever-branching tree
From the earliest of creatures all the way to you and me
Other limbs produced the fishes, beetles, lizards, monkeys, ants,
Paramecia, bacteria, creationists and plants;
He supported it with evidence of every kind he could
Which I’ve critically examined, as a thinking person should;
Now I know that he’s mistaken in the picture that he draws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

If you analyze it critically, as science says we must
You’ll find laws of physics broken, so the theory is a bust:
The second thermo-something law is busted into pieces
By the fact that evolution means that entropy decreases!
And random changes couldn’t make the creatures that we find,
So the evidence is clear, that we cannot be un-designed!
With castles out of playing-cards and armies made of straws
There’s the reason I believe it: Just because.

Now, with Darwin and his evolution clearly in the tank
There is only one alternative, if I am to be frank;
That’s the theory found in Genesis, the Holy Word of God,
And with natural selection out, creation gets the nod.
But we can’t be disrespectful to our deeply held belief,
So our critical examination, this time, must be brief
There’s no clothing on this emperor, not even filmy gauze—
But the reason I believe it? Just because.

Sure, the logic may be iffy, and the evidence is slim—
Who created the creator? And then, who created him?
Why the Genesis creation? Why not something else instead?
Can we guarantee the story is exactly what God said?
Is it literal or metaphor, or maybe outright fiction?
What’s the proper course of action when we find a contradiction?
I’m ignoring any nagging doubt within me where it gnaws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

If I’m right, I go to heaven, which I’d really like to do
But I’ll go to hell for sure if I suspect that it’s untrue
It’s a simple little wager, there’s no reason to think twice:
You get punished if you’re naughty, you get presents if you’re nice
From the guy who watches all of us, from there behind his beard
(And who cares if it’s millennia since last time he appeared?)
And so, even if it’s really just a grown-up’s Santa Claus
Well, the reason I believe it? Just because.

A special place in Heaven…

My apologies in advance…

There’s a special place in Heaven
(‘cept it doesn’t quite exist)
For the special, special people
Like the first I ever kissed
Or the ones who always volunteer
For nasty, smelly work,
Or who yield the proper right-of-way
And not just be a jerk
There’s a special place for people
Who repair the power wires
(So that blogger poets now can post
Instead of tending fires)
But the finest place in Heaven,
If you’d like to take a look,
Is reserved for all the people
Who decide to buy my book.

Ha! Didn’t quite expect that ending, did you? This is just a little reminder—the turnaround time was really fast when I ordered mine, so my guess is there is still time before cephalopodmas to order them to tuck into stockings, g-strings, and the like. Or, if you prefer, just put it on your list, so that somebody who loves you very much can express her or his love in the way that only a paperback volume of rather odd verse can. And remember—if you buy it with your Solstice gift money, you will have the Evolutionary Biology Valentine’s Day Poem in your hot little hands in plenty of time to be ready to serenade that special someone who cuts quite a striking figure in a white lab coat.

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It Could Be Much, Much Worse

It’s been four days, so far, without power
And our moods are still cheerful, not dour
But this powerless stint
Makes my co-workers hint
That I’m welcome to borrow their shower!

(the truth is, our wood stove heats water
To the point where it couldn’t be hotter
So despite lacking power
“Have ladle, will shower”
Say father and mother and daughter)

A Christmas Love Song (which just happens to be atheistic)

One of the more frustrating aspects of blogging is that you can’t do it when the power is out. And the power is out in a six-state region right now. Not a huge deal–just get out the candles and oil lamps, light the wood stove, and you’re good to go. Or to stay, as the case may be. I still don’t have power, actually. (How am I posting? Magic.)

So once it gets dark (shortly after 4 PM, actually), there is a bit less that one can do. Our oil lamp is plenty bright enough to read by, but all the reading I had planned to do (ok, technically you might call it grading, or marking, depending on your regional dialect) is on my computer–or rather, on my students’ computers, to be turned in online sometime between when the power went out 2 days ago and last night. So I was without a lot of what I had planned to read, and what I *wanted* to read was in my office. Oh well.

Once it gets even darker, the most fun is to be had with the AM radio. I was pulling in at least 4 languages (one I did not recognize, but also French, Spanish, and of course American), and everything from New York City to Quebec. Hockey games, basketball, Billo’s replacement, local talkers who think the way to make it big is by pretending to be conservative, irate, and obnoxious… and of course, religious stations. Once again, I was reminded that there is a war on christmas going on. Without a trace of the merest hint of an inkling of a nod toward the pagan origins of a solstice celebration, I was chastised to remember the true meaning of christmas… excuse me, the True Meaning of Christmas.

So I am taking it on myself again to fire another salvo for the side of the righteous (or the rational) in the war. Dammit, I will not celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas, because I prefer the true meaning of christmas–this season, to me, is a time of love, of giving, of caring… and as an atheist, I will cruelly and heartlessly love my neighbors, support them in these trying times, and genuinely care, all without so much as a mention of the birth of god’s chosen human sacrifice.

This time, a love song. I was trying to write something else, when I realized I had just written the intro to a song I had had kicking around for some time. This is a real song, and a beautiful one if I say so myself, in 3/4 time (except the intro/outro which are in 4/4); I have chords and melody for it and everything, except that I don’t have the ability to write music for posting here. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

The stories told this time of year
To bring us hope, or joy, or cheer—
Who cares if, really, none of them are true?
The season brings the shortest days
And with the sunlight’s dying rays
The longest nights, that I can spend… with you.

(actual song)
Christmas is the time when I can say to you “I love you”
Kiss you if the mistletoe is hanging right above you
All through the year,
my friend we’ve grown near
And now when I see you this Christmas, it’s clear

I want to be more than friends this Christmas
I want to be closer than ever before
I want to be more than friends this Christmas
That’s what this Christmas is for.

Christmas is the time to cuddle up beside the fire
Feel the kind of love that only Christmas can inspire
Outside there’s snow,
but in here, a glow
And I’m warm when I’m with you, and that’s how I know:


Christmas is the time to hear the carols sung so sweetly
Let the magic of the season fill your heart completely
Love is brand new,
and wishes come true
I’ve just one wish this Christmas, and that wish is you:


Christmas is the time to walk the snowy world together
Face the coming year as boldly as we face the weather
Come and be strong
and join in my song
And the love that is Christmas can last the year long


The stories told this time of year
To bring us hope, or joy, or cheer—
Who cares if, really, none of them are true?
The season brings the shortest days
And with the sunlight’s dying rays
The longest nights, that I can spend… with you.

A Few Pics, And Thoughts, From Greece

In the shadow of Mt. Olympus is Dion, the site of … well, of a great many ruins, now. Once, the site of temples, steam baths, an amphitheater, shops, houses, a thriving and important community, where the religious sanctuary was the center of everything. Later, because it had a constant supply of spring water, fed by the slopes of Olympus, both Philip of Macedonia and his son Alexander (later, Alexander the Great) housed and trained troops here. One can see places where they tore down buildings, then used the columns as recycled building material for walls and roads. The stone roads have ruts worn in them from chariots and carts; the place feels every bit of its history.

On my visit here, I probably took 200 photos–the site is large and diverse enough that it really looks as if I had visited three or four separate places. The shots here are from the Sanctuary of Isis, once a place of worship, now a place of frogs, fish, and turtles.

Once there was a temple here
With marble columns gleaming white
Once the gods themselves looked down
Upon these altars with delight.
Olympus climbs into the clouds
And mortals look up from below—
The hidden summit must have gods,
We do not just believe—we know.

But gods, it seems, are mortal too
And gods must die, as must we all
And temples, without gods, decay;
Abandoned columns soon will fall.
The people leave; the waters rise;
What was a marble floor, now grass;
The sunken statuary gaze,
And dumbly watch millennia pass.

Once the gods were worshipped here
Today the rulers here, the frogs
Control the fate of damsel-flies;
Athena’s columns for their logs.
The gods, it seems, cannot stop time
And Zeus himself must lose his crown
The land gives way to fish and frogs…
And turtles all the way down.

“I got a word what rhymes wit you”

That sentence, or its functional equivalent, was in a Tarzan book. I read them voraciously, some 30+ years ago. Good moral advice; good stories; good skepticism of motives. In this case, the person who was to be rhymed was named Bubanovitch, if memory and spelling serve.

The rhyme today comes from Illinois. Governor Blagojevich is in hot water of his own cooking.

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday morning and charged with corruption, including an allegation that he conspired to effectively sell President-elect Barack Obama’s seat in the United States Senate to the highest bidder.

His backup plan was to take the seat himself.

“If I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself,” the governor said in recorded conversation, prosecutors said.

A 76-page affidavit from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois says Mr. Blagojevich (pronounced bluh-GOY-uh-vich) was heard on wiretaps over the last month planning to “sell or trade Illinois’ United States Senate seat vacated by Pres-elect Barack Obama for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife.”

Greedy Bastard.

That sonovabitch Blagojevich
Had thought he’d found the perfect pitch
He thought he’d sell a precious toy
But ran into a little glitch

The Guv’ner is a naughty boy—
He puts the “ill” in Illinois
He looked for payment, ere he’d choose
A worthy person to employ

But now his tale has hit the news
And no one wants to share his shoes
It’s called a “spree”; it’s a “new low”
Blagojevich now sings the blues

He had the power to bestow
The Senate seat, so dontcha know
Blagojevich, that sonovabitch
Was holding out for quid pro quo.

“And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

So, tonight, one of the true traditions of the season…

I’m sitting in a cozy room
With Cuttlekid and Cuttlespouse
We’re watching Charlie Brown again
As custom goes, in Cuttlehouse

It’s not the babe, it’s not the manger
Not the shining star above
I hope that Linus would approve,
But Christmas is for those we love

I have no need for heavenly host
I have no need for newborn king…
This evening spent with Charlie Brown?
I would not trade for anything.

Why? Ultimately, Sex.

So, PZ posted and linked to this comic:

One interpretation is that our interest in sex is what keeps us from being so interested in everything else… I don’t know if that was the artist’s intent, but if it was, I disagree strongly.

It seems to me, the reason for
Invention, Industry, or War
Or Art, or Medicine, or more
Is… horny folks who want to score.

Society, at every scale
From broadest brush to fine detail
Is motivated, without fail
By peacocks looking for some tail.

We’ve instituted education;
Used it as our firm foundation
Building up the strongest nation–
Freud would call it “sublimation”

Darwin, in his own dissection
Took it in a new direction–
If I’m right in recollection,
Called it sexual selection!

It’s not enough to flex some pecs
Or write big numbers on your checks
The mating dance has grown complex
But everything comes down to sex.

Our species has a lot of pluck–
It did not thrive because of luck,
Or cos some god took aim and struck–
But just because we like… something…

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Shameless plug… buy my book….

Ok, I did not expect this…

Ok, so… about a million years ago, when Enzyte was in court on false advertising charges, I wrote a little ditty I called “The Enzyte Song (The Biggest Dicks Of All)“. It was not flattering. It spoke of the $100 million fraud charges against Smilin’ Bob et al., and concluded that the Enzyte manufacturers were “the Biggest Dicks of All”.

Since that post, I have, to my chagrin, had a certain fairly substantial portion of my blog hits come from searches for “biggest dicks”; I doubt that many of these people have been looking for my song. I think, actually, that “biggest dicks” ranks perhaps fourth in all search terms. The first three may be variations on “digital cuttlefish”.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised, this evening, to find a hit to my blog that originated from a site run by the Enzyte folks themselves. Seems they collect all the stuff people say, and keep it on their site. No idea whether it is an automatic process, a point of pride, stupidity, or what.

I took a screenshot, just in case you didn’t believe me:

Anyway, on the off chance that somebody reading this is thinking of laying some money down for these worthless tablets, let me suggest spending the money on flowers, or a night out, or renting her favorite movie. Or if you want to seem sensitive and really really smart, how about buying a book of verse instead–say, The Digital Cuttlefish, Vol. 1. Read her the Evolutionary Biology Valentine’s Day Poem. Thank me later. (Yeah, you could just print it off, but it is so much more romantic to have the book there. Trust me.)
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
See, right there, you can spend your money on something much more worthwhile than some placebo pills. Now, place your order, turn off your computer, and go spend some quality time actually listening to what she has to say. The whole world will be a better place for it.