Toxic Blob Alert!

Just off the coast of Florida,
A sticky, toxic blob
Is mystifying scientists
Who try to do their job.
It’s three feet thick, gelatinous,
And smells like rotten eggs
A giant, oily jellyfish
(without so many legs).
It’s a tangled mat of algae
And bacteria, which die
In the anaerobic water
While the blob is oozing by
This giant, toxic, sticky mess
Is floating, off the coast
The Gulf was once so beautiful…
Perhaps this is its ghost.

Just off the Florida Panhandle coastline, within site of Perdido Key, an underwater mass of dead sea life that appears to be growing as microscopic algae and bacteria get trapped and die has been found by scientists.

Early samples indicate the glob is at least 3 feet thick and spans two-thirds of a mile parallel to the coast.

No one knows where it came from or where it will go.

It appears to be nearly 100% organic, but this does not rule out something initiated by the Gulf oil spill.  Part of the confusion stems from the size of the blob–not that it was so huge it was a mystery, but rather because it was so big, the researchers did not have sufficient tools to sample from the bottom layer, which would likely be very instructive.  They will return with the appropriate tools.

Cuttlecap tip to Glendon Mellow and Deep Sea News, via twitter.

The Care And Feeding Of Dragons

“A blog is like a dragon. You have to feed it all the time and sometimes you get burned”
unattributed quote, collected here by Scicurious.  (if you know who, let me know.)
If you want to own a dragon, there’s some things you ought to know
Though they’re cute when really tiny, if you feed them, they will grow—
And it’s fun to feed a dragon—well, it’s really fun at first,
Till you’re bleeding from the bite-marks and the blisters that have burst!
Finding food, at first, is simple, cos it’s laying all around,
And a dragon, when it’s little, eats whatever you have found.
As the months and years continue, dragon-feeding can get tricky,
As it’s eaten all the easy finds and now is getting picky
But you’ve got to feed the dragon, though it’s taking all your time
(And it really doesn’t help, should you decide to feed it rhyme)
All the dragon owners tell you, cos it’s something that they’ve learned,
That no matter how you feed it, there are times that you’ll get burned.
If you see I’ve written something, and you really wonder why
Well, I have to feed the dragon, or it’s gonna up and die.

The Care And Feeding Of Dragons

“A blog is like a dragon. You have to feed it all the time and sometimes you get burned”
unattributed quote, collected here by Scicurious.  (if you know who, let me know.)
If you want to own a dragon, there’s some things you ought to know
Though they’re cute when really tiny, if you feed them, they will grow—
And it’s fun to feed a dragon—well, it’s really fun at first,
Till you’re bleeding from the bite-marks and the blisters that have burst!
Finding food, at first, is simple, cos it’s laying all around,
And a dragon, when it’s little, eats whatever you have found.
As the months and years continue, dragon-feeding can get tricky,
As it’s eaten all the easy finds and now is getting picky
But you’ve got to feed the dragon, though it’s taking all your time
(And it really doesn’t help, should you decide to feed it rhyme)
All the dragon owners tell you, cos it’s something that they’ve learned,
That no matter how you feed it, there are times that you’ll get burned.
If you see I’ve written something, and you really wonder why
Well, I have to feed the dragon, or it’s gonna up and die.

Uncovering Nakedness In Leviticus

Cos wicked men are easily led
From here to there, from bed to bed,
By orders from their smaller head
We’ve had to ban the quadruped.

Uncovering the nakedness
Of relatives, we will not bless;
The major reason, I confess–
It makes reunions such a mess.

Thou shall not mark upon thy skin;
It is, of course, a wicked sin
As bad as if a man begin
To bed a sheep, or sleep with kin.

We read the bible, and we choose
Which laws to keep, and which refuse;
Not Godly Law, but human ruse…
As old as time, so hardly news.

Context here, and especially here.

Uncovering Nakedness In Leviticus

Cos wicked men are easily led
From here to there, from bed to bed,
By orders from their smaller head
We’ve had to ban the quadruped.

Uncovering the nakedness
Of relatives, we will not bless;
The major reason, I confess–
It makes reunions such a mess.

Thou shall not mark upon thy skin;
It is, of course, a wicked sin
As bad as if a man begin
To bed a sheep, or sleep with kin.

We read the bible, and we choose
Which laws to keep, and which refuse;
Not Godly Law, but human ruse…
As old as time, so hardly news.

Context here, and especially here.

The Strong Anthropic Principle Song

When an ancient star collapsed about ten billion years ago
It didn’t have you in mind.
When its elements were scattered so that newer stars could grow
It didn’t have you in mind.
It’s a cyclical progression of destruction and rebirth
That eventually led to the creation of the earth,
And the chemistry of life itself, but still, for what it’s worth
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
When a replicating molecule turned into RNA
It didn’t have you in mind.
When eukaryotes emerged, the way we see them yet today
They didn’t have you in mind.
And when these began to merge in multicellular arrays,
When selection honed their features in so many different ways
When a multitude of species showed it’s more than just a craze
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
You may not want to hear it, but it’s true
The universe is not here just for you.
You really think you’re special, I’m aware
But the universe itself, it doesn’t care.
When a fortunate amphibian first crept upon the land
It didn’t have you in mind
When a fin became a lobe, became a foot, became a hand,
It didn’t have you in mind
From the big bang to the present, you’ve examined every clue
And imagine there’s a god somewhere who made it all for you
Well, you might not want to hear it, but I’m telling you it’s true
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
My muse today is a long-haired redhead with heavy mascara… that’s right, Tim Minchin.  No, he didn’t say anything in particular to inspire this, but I hear it sung with his voice.  Sort of a “not perfect” or “if I didn’t have you” combined with Tony the fish.  
And yeah, I’m not in his league–if I was, I’d be doing this for a living–but fortunately or unfortunately, that doesn’t stop me from writing.  And Tim, if you ever see this and want to steal it, it’s yours. 
And yeah, I know the title is not a perfect fit–once I thought of it, though, I couldn’t help myself.

The Strong Anthropic Principle Song

When an ancient star collapsed about ten billion years ago
It didn’t have you in mind.
When its elements were scattered so that newer stars could grow
It didn’t have you in mind.
It’s a cyclical progression of destruction and rebirth
That eventually led to the creation of the earth,
And the chemistry of life itself, but still, for what it’s worth
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
When a replicating molecule turned into RNA
It didn’t have you in mind.
When eukaryotes emerged, the way we see them yet today
They didn’t have you in mind.
And when these began to merge in multicellular arrays,
When selection honed their features in so many different ways
When a multitude of species showed it’s more than just a craze
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
You may not want to hear it, but it’s true
The universe is not here just for you.
You really think you’re special, I’m aware
But the universe itself, it doesn’t care.
When a fortunate amphibian first crept upon the land
It didn’t have you in mind
When a fin became a lobe, became a foot, became a hand,
It didn’t have you in mind
From the big bang to the present, you’ve examined every clue
And imagine there’s a god somewhere who made it all for you
Well, you might not want to hear it, but I’m telling you it’s true
It didn’t have you in mind.
It didn’t have you in mind.
My muse today is a long-haired redhead with heavy mascara… that’s right, Tim Minchin.  No, he didn’t say anything in particular to inspire this, but I hear it sung with his voice.  Sort of a “not perfect” or “if I didn’t have you” combined with Tony the fish.  
And yeah, I’m not in his league–if I was, I’d be doing this for a living–but fortunately or unfortunately, that doesn’t stop me from writing.  And Tim, if you ever see this and want to steal it, it’s yours. 
And yeah, I know the title is not a perfect fit–once I thought of it, though, I couldn’t help myself.

The Waters Here Are Rising

Long, long ago, Man’s primal sins
Were washed out in The Flood
Our modern sins are washed away
In Jesus’ precious blood.
The rainbow was God’s Promise
That He would not let us drown—
The waters here are rising…
But I’m sure He’ll bring them down.
The wisest words of science
May be changed from day to day
From one year to another,
No one knows what they might say
But the bible is consistent,
So we know it must be true—
The waters here are rising…
But I’m sure that He’ll come through.
The predictions of the scientists
Are coming true in droves;
Where we once had sandy beaches
There are inundated coves
I have faith in my Creator;
This must only be a test—
The waters here are rising…
But I’m sure He knows what’s best.
When the night is looking darkest,
That’s the time for faith and trust
I’ll surrender unto Jesus
As the Good Book says I must.
I could face annihilation
If the choice I make is wrong—
The waters here are rising…
From NPR, a story from the island nation of Kiribati.  This country is uniquely positioned to be concerned about the possibility of rising ocean waters due to global warming: 

The average height of the islands is approximately 6.5 feet. Already, land is scarce and drinking water can be in short supply. There’s nowhere to retreat.

So concerns about climate change are felt very acutely here. Though estimates are rough, scientists predict average sea levels could rise as much as 3 feet by the end of the century due to global warming.

Science, of course, tends to be conservative, moving forward only as it can supply strong evidence for each step.  As such, people looking for direct, solid links between global warming and the loss of land that is already happening in Kiribati are likely to find enough play in the evidence that they can deny it altogether if they have sufficient reason (paging Leon Festinger…).

And they have sufficient reason, in religious belief.

Tito says he believes in the Biblical account of Noah’s ark. In that story, after God devastates the world with a flood, he makes a covenant with Noah that he will never send another.

So while Tito does acknowledge that global warming is affecting the planet and that he has noticed some impacts, he says rising sea levels are not as serious a threat as Tong and others are making them out to be.


“Saying we’re going to be under the water, that I don’t believe,” Tito says. “Because people belong to God, and God is not so silly to allow people to perish just like that.”

Indeed, the current president’s religious faith has come under question, simply because he has (quite understandably, given their precarious position) chosen to draw attention to climate change problems!


The NPR story is part one of a two-part series.  I’m really looking forward to part two!

I Was Talking To God Today, Dennis

I was talking to God today, Dennis,
And the subject eventually changed
From how neither of us can stand tennis
To how both of us think you’re deranged.
He admitted he’d botched your creation
In his perfect and all-knowing view
He’d ruined the whole operation…
Then he shrugged, and said “what can I do?”
He had given free will to his creatures
And a conscience, to choose their own path
But you see, there were bugs in these features
And you’ve given him reason for wrath.
God thinks you’re an idiot, Dennis;
He was utterly clear on the point
You’re an absolute, pin-headed menace
And as God says, you stink up the joint.
Your behavior is wholly demented—
And believe me, He knows what you do—
Since thorazine first was invented
There’s been no better spokesman than you.
He’s powerful, awesome, and godly,
On a scale—any scale—He’s the top;
And He’s noticed you’re acting quite oddly…
God is telling you, Dennis, to stop.
I can’t imagine what might have inspired this verse.  It must simply be a message from god.

Wait… I’m The Black Sheep?

So my grand-dad was a monkey, and his grand-dad was a fish?
What a complicated, ancient family tree!
I can trace my mother’s side to amphioxus, if you wish,
Though they won’t admit they’re relatives of me.
Happy Darwin Day to you!