Headline Muse, 9/30

The direction this country is heading
Is exactly what bigots are dreading!
What’s the danger they feared?
It’s that chaplains are cleared
To officiate at a gay wedding!

Headline: Military chaplains allowed to perform same-sex weddings

Headline: Military Chaplains May Perform Same-Sex Unions

Why two links? The first is CNN; the second is Fox. The stories are quite similar–there’s not much to do but report the facts–but the comment threads are clearly from two different planets.

Happy Blasphemy Day

Blasphemy Day is important. Not for offending people, but for celebrating the right to speak without fear that such an offense can land you in jail, or worse. Political speech often offends me, but the rough-and-tumble of open political debate is a good thing. When we coddle ideas, we allow bad ones to flourish. Religious speech is, and should be, protected in the same sense that political speech is. This includes religious speech that the listener disagrees with. A day to celebrate this idea? I like it. More after the jump:
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Church Under Attack… By Self

An Ohio church is under attack
By an evil atheist horde!

Or that’s the headline, after all
The facts have been ignored.

The atheists had a billboard up
Right on the church’s land!
It was removed immediately
Upon the church demand

A billboard on the church’s land?
There’s something there that’s funny
Although the church is tax-exempt
That sign is making money

Turns out, commercial property
Gets taxed, and they are liable
It’s “render unto Caesar”, as
It says there in the bible

The church is in the wrong here
In their tax-evasion game
But why admit their guilt,
When there are atheists to blame?
[Read more...]

Evolutionary Biology Valentines Day Poem

I have been reading quite a bit about Evolutionary Bio and Evo-Psych explanations of human behavior, of whether or not it is appropriate to apply these theoretical models to people–especially to the behavior of individuals, and all that. If I had the time, I’d probably write something coherent about it, and include this poem. But the truth is, I just (for very odd reasons) had occasion to read it to someone here in real life, and I realized that I had not put it up on the new digs yet.

In sociobiology,
Why I love you and you love me—
Which anyone can plainly see—
Is mostly in our genes.
No, not the ones you buy in stores,
But what a scientist explores–
I like the way you look in yours,
And you know what that means.

What subtly-coded stimulus
Takes you and me, and makes us “us”
And makes us feel ‘twas ever thus?
The list of suspects narrows.
No longer are we all a-shiver
From some Cupid with a quiver
Out of which he might deliver
Fusillades of Eros.

Nor Dopamine, nor Serotonin
Tell us why our hearts are moanin’
Though they serve to help us hone in
On–not why, but how;
The parasympathetic blush,
Adrenaline to bring a rush,
Are how, not why, I’ve got a crush
On you, my darling, now.

But if old Charles Darwin’s right,
The reason that the merest sight
Of you will always give delight
Is…reproductive fitness.
Throughout our species’ family tree,
Producing proper progeny
Is what determined you and me
And Darwin was the witness.

Is thinking that you’re oh so sweet
And how you’ll make my life complete
Some trick to make our gametes meet?
It seems it may be so.
I feel the way I feel today
Because some bit of DNA
Sees your genetics on display
And wants to say “hello.”

But think of this, for what it’s worth:
Millennia before my birth
That DNA had roamed the earth,
In residents thereof;
The neat thing is, it’s really true,
The feeling that I have for you
Although, of course, it feels brand-new
Is truly ageless love.

Knit Me A … Sister?

Again, for Daniel, and for the Ravelry visitors, one of my all time favorites from the old place:

Shelley serves as my muse again today… The brain was not her first post about anatomically accurate knitting; there was a previous post on a cute and cuddly teratoma. Ok, so she calls it “complicated and grotesque”, but tomayto tomahto. But the knit teratoma is indeed cute and cuddly, if you ask me. So I thought I would try a slightly different spin on the whole idea of having had a twin who died and whose body, in the womb, was absorbed into yours in the form of a tumor with recognizable body parts.

I mean, that can’t be all bad, can it?

“Teratoma”, or “Knit me a Sister”.

“I have an invisible friend”, I said,
“But she doesn’t hide beneath my bed,
Or in my closet–no, instead,
I keep her tucked inside.”

“We do not mean to condescend,
But we all know, there’s no such friend;
This fabrication now must end.”
My Mom and Dad replied.

“But Mommy! Daddy! Please, I swear!
She’s closer than my teddy bear!
See my tummy? She’s in there!
I even feel her growing!”

My parents didn’t scream or shout;
They trusted me, despite their doubt,
And had a doctor check me out
When something started showing!

My friend was real! I hadn’t lied!
At first, my twin, but then she died.
The doctors cut me open wide
And shoveled out my basement.

I never knew I had a sister,
But once my friend was gone, I missed her;
So, knitting till she raised a blister
My Mom made a replacement!

By the way, the original source of the pictures also has a poem (or song) about it! And instructions!

Knit Me A Brain

Our friend Daniel over at Camels With Hammers has noticed an influx of people with long needles. In a show of freethought blogs support, I thought I’d repost a couple of posts from my old digs that got quite a few visits from Ravelry in the past. Just trying to make the new place more comfy.


A tip of the cuttlecap to Shelley of Retrospectacle for reporting on the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art

We’ve got sweaters to mend; we’ve got socks we can darn,
So pull up a chair, and I’ll spin you a yarn;
It’s a song with a Scarecrow-of-Oz-like refrain:
Please pick up your needles and knit me a brain!

I’ve knitted my bones, and I’ve knitted my brow,
But I’ve never seen brains knitted—up until now;
With each neural pathway a separate skein,
It’s Art and it’s Science, so knit me a brain!

Two hemispheres knit, and then reaching across ‘em
A beautiful, zippered-up corpus callosum;
Such fine application of knit, purl, and chain,
I want one myself—so please, knit me a brain!

With the brain’s convolutions appropriately gyred
This fabric creation has got me inspired!
My love for this art, I can hardly contain—
So how can I get one? Please knit me a brain!

Some people may tell you I’ve gone ‘round the bend
That the stuff ‘twixt my ears needs some decades to mend.
I could use some new grey-matter; mine’s gone insane,
It would not go to waste, if you’d knit me a brain.

You can see for yourself—why, just look at the time
I must take to obsessively put things to rhyme;
Something’s wrong, and I think that the answer is plain:
I need a replacement—so knit me a brain!

Never Got The Hang Of Tuesdays

I’ve suddenly realized why it is that I appear to have so little time! Time itself is a remarkably limited commodity, with all of it limited to just a handful of days…

Only last Tuesday, a quarter past four,
The universe was, when it wasn’t before!
The whole of the universe started to be,
Which it hadn’t at all, at a quarter past three.
Existence itself, in the blink of an eye;
No reason for billions of years to go by.

Of course, it looks old—that’s the way it was done,
Looking old from the instant it all had begun;
The universe looks like it has a real past,
And one that seems incomprehensively vast
It seems there are billions of years to explore
But it started last Tuesday, a quarter past four.

The earth and the heavens, the sun and the stars,
The mountains, the oceans, the cities, the cars,
The falsified memories that seem to be real,
Each trip to the doctor, each holiday meal,
Each nursery school freeze-tag or hide-and-go-seek,
Each one an illusion from early last week.

Each fossil was planted, and each sacred scroll,
Each childhood memory, made up in whole,
Your very first friend, and the first one you kissed
Another illusion to add to the list.
No God whatsoever creating a scene,
And nothing at all from before 4:15.

There is no “last month”, and there is no “last year”,
Just Tuesday and later, that’s perfectly clear.
The scientists’ “billions of years” is a guess,
Like the people who say it’s six thousand or less—
They each claim their evidence tells them what’s true,
And they haven’t a clue that they haven’t a clue.

So how do I know what I’m telling you now?
If it’s all manufactured last Tuesday, then how?
You can’t trust the science; religion is bunk;
You can’t trust your senses, cos all of it’s junk;
No possible way that the real truth can show,
So how do I know it? That’s it—I just know.

Religion and science are two different ways
We can look at the world—that’s what everyone says.
But really, why limit ourselves just to these?
My Tuesdayist view is as good, if you please!
It’s as old as the others, so please don’t ignore—
Cos they all started Tuesday, a quarter past four.