Tacky Jesus, Get Off My Mountain!

A national forest is no place for Jesus
Just standing there, blessing the snow
He’s been at the top of the ski lift for decades
But now it seems Jesus must go.

Appeals to tradition from some of the locals
Will, hopefully, fall on deaf ears
Breaking the law isn’t magically better
When done for some fifty-odd years

The Knights of Columbus appealed the decision—
They claim it’s for veterans’ sake
Cos veterans all must be Christians, you know…
A common, but stupid, mistake.

Their privilege revoked, the reaction was speedy;
A new “save the statue” petition
It’s clearly against the establishment clause
But Christians get special permission.

The statue is tacky. It’s kitschy and gauche;
Standing right where there’s beauty to see
And the beautiful vista will come into view
When the mountain’s once more Jesus-free!

Story after the jump: [Read more...]

I Got My Wish!

Wrong-again Harold had made a prediction
Wrong-again Harold was once again wrong
Wrong-again Harold believed in a fiction,
But wrong-again Harold kept chugging along.

Wrong-again Harold had plenty of money
So wrong-again Harold bought billboards and such
People who saw them all thought they were funny
But wrong-again Harold, he didn’t care much

Wrong-again Harold misled the believers
Wrong-again Harold expressed no remorse
Wrong-again, wrong-again,
String-em-along-again,
Wrong-again Harold stayed true to his course.

Wrong-again Harold, he looked through the bible
Wrong-again Harold, he did all the math
Wrong-again Harold, he claim’s he’s reli’ble
And gives us the date and the time of god’s wrath

Wrong-again Harold, I feel I should mention,
Wrong-again Harold has done this before;
Wrong-again Harold, he craves the attention—
Wrong-again Harold’s a media whore.

Wrong-again Harold misled the reporters
Wrong-again Harold expressed no remorse
Wrong-again, wrong-again,
String-em-along-again,
Wrong-again Harold stayed true to his course.

Wrong-again Harold’s not much of a story
Wrong-again Harold has nothing to say
Wrong about rapture and heaven and glory
Please, can we just put this story away?

Wrong-again Harold, the media darling,
Radio, papers, the web, and TV
There on your soapbox, you’ve led me to snarling:
Bury this story, and just let me be!

Wrong-again Harold provided the message
Wrong-again Media, added their force
Wrong-again, wrong-again,
String-us-along-again,
Wrong-again Harold stayed true to his course.

That was my verse from the earlier end of the world. You know, the third or fourth prediction. Not today’s.

I know it’s the end of the world today, but I can’t find it in the early editions of any news sites! You know it’s a bad day for parasitic end-of-times cultists when the only ones paying attention are the ones making fun of them.

Purple?

I’m sorry; I didn’t wear purple today,
But I have to say, in fairness—
I’m not opposed at all to gay rights;
I’m opposed to “raising awareness”
I’ll speak my mind; I’ll teach my class;
I’ll probably reach a few;
But tell me… “raising awareness”—
What, exactly, does it do?
Some homophobic moron
Could be very much “aware”
He knows that he discriminates
And proudly does not care
“Awareness” is a fiction
Roughly on a par with “prayer”
Petitioning an entity
That isn’t even there.
I will not dress in purple
(even though it sounds like fun)
I will not raise awareness—
I would rather get things done.

Explanation, after the jump: [Read more...]

Last Donors Choose Post

Today, Friday, Saturday. That’s it.

The good news is, the Powers That Be are, for those three days, doubling all donations. If you donate (even as little as a dollar), they will (if I remember correctly) send you a voucher for you to choose where to spend that same amount on the same or other projects of your choosing. Hey, I only just found out about this, or I’d have asked everyone to wait.

Also, the scientopia blogs are catching up with us. You may or may not care, but it kinda irks me. Of course, they are catching up in total dollars, but not numbers of donors, so we still rule there.

Anyway, You know the spiel by now–widget to the right, deserving cause, right thing to do, every dollar helps. Now, every dollar helps twice as much.

So please help.

Back Of The Bus Again, Rosa

When she boarded the One-Ten in Brooklyn
And sat in her seat at the front
The men who were seated around her
Had a message, unwelcome and blunt:

Don’t ask, just move to the rear now
The answer is “God made the rule”
You have to respect our religion
You ignorant, secular fool

It’s Orthodox rules that apply here
So move to the back of the bus
If you think that it’s just segregation
Then it’s clear that you’re not one of us

So it’s “back of the bus, again, Rosa”
Though it’s not cos we’re white and you’re black
It’s not racism, no—it’s religion
But you still gotta sit in the back.

Context and rant, after the jump:
Women are required to ride in the back of the Boropark-Williamsburg bus.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

It is entirely possible that goyim will prefer not to ride that bus, and the passengers can voluntarily follow what rules they wish. But in New York City, God doesn’t make the laws.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Respect goes both ways. I can expect respect for my positions to the extent that I respect the positions of others, and within the confines of the law. I won’t demand that Orthodox women sit in front, nor that Orthodox men sit in back. But their rules are not mine; their god is not mine.

The Comments at this story are particularly interesting–from remarkably thoughtful to incredibly prejudiced. Sounds like New York City.

Headline Muse, 10/19

Though it’s always liked Bobbies or Tims
And no problems with Saras or Kims
Google wasn’t a plus
For a subset of us
Now they’re changing their minds about ‘nyms

Headline: Google planning major upgrades to Google+ ‘within days’

The only change I’m wondering about is their change in policy regarding pseudonyms. Rumor has it they will be possible. Cynical rumor has it that pseudonyms will be possible, but for those who have a different sort of identity–that is, corporations (which are people, too, you know).

I will probably wait, out of paranoia, and by the time I try it out all the good appropriate cuttlefishy names will have been swept up by lesser cephalopods.

20/20 Hindsight (or, The Basis Of Objective Morality)

Cos it’s coming up on that time of the semester. Another one for my students.

The non-religious viewpoint—that a moral sense evolves—
Raises up some thorny questions, while some others it resolves
The thing about selection that can give a fellow blindsight
Is that all success and failure is revealed to us in hindsight.
Predicting evolution is a right and awful mess,
Cos a change in the environment will influence success;
When selection pressures differ, they result in different features
In morphology, of course, and the behaviors seen in creatures
“Successful” might be bigger, might be smaller, might be smart
From a cuttlefish in hiding to a peacock’s walking art
From the flora in intestines to domesticated cow
Each of these has been successful; only hindsight tells us how.
A selectionist analysis applies to culture, too—
There’s variety apparent in the many things we do,
As we teach them to our children, replication of a sort
Differentially effective, when attempts may come up short.
When we ask the loaded questions, “What is moral? What is good?”
“Are there independent standards, what we shan’t and what we should?”
As the most successful culture, it should fill us with delight—
We will always look behind us, saying what we did was right
What we did was good and moral, and the gods looked down and smiled;
Now it’s thoroughly objective, and we teach to every child
All the Thou shall not’s we followed, every moral, every rule,
As the basis of our culture, in the church and in the school
In the battles over culture, had another party won
Then morality, objectively, is what that group has done.

The moral code of conduct that determines saints and sinners
Is the product of selection, in the history of the winners

The rest of the lesson, in prose, after the jump: [Read more...]

Home Stretch

The science bloggers’ challenge, in Donors Choose, is rapidly coming to an end. The official challenge (which FtB is leading handily, even with PZ mis-categorized) ends this Saturday, one day after the end of the world.

As of this writing, four of my pet projects have been funded (yay!), one timed out without being funded (sob!), and there are several more still searching for money (including one that is in its final days). I am tempted to add still more projects; it would be a false sense of accomplishment to pretend that the job was ever “finished”. There will, at least under our current structure, always be more to do, and more left undone.

But you don’t stop paddling just because you can’t see the shore. If you are going the right direction (“second star to the right, and straight on till morning”) the only way to get there is to keep moving.

So let’s keep moving.

There are still my projects, and plenty more where they came from; if you don’t want to support poetry, you can look around for science, or history, or music, or sports, or search by state or town (a former student of mine puts in a plea for Memphis TN, where funds are desperately needed). Find a project that speaks to you, or screams out to you. Find projects that are ending soon, and listen to the sighs of relief from teachers and cheers from students. Find projects that remind you of your grade school days.

I was going to suggest a spoof on the “we are the 99%” movement, encouraging people to make donations (as many as they can, of course) of 99 cents. As the 99% protests show us, numbers count. A lot of “we are the 99 cents” donors can make up for a few big donors. And it is absolutely true that every dollar helps.

And yeah, you can do that. Or you can give a lot (I’m looking at a particular recent donor from Brooklyn, here. Thanks!). But we are running out of time to give at all. So please take the time to click through the widget on the right, and experience the pleasure of helping out kids and teachers who need, and who appreciate, your help.

Fred Karger For President

Technically, Ron Paul was the first candidate to file for New Hampshire’s “first in the nation” primary (date, to be decided, after everybody else jostles for an early time. It might be next week.). But in the Granite State, Real Candidates file in person. And the first candidate to file in person was… *drum roll* …Fred Karger.

That’s right, Fred Karger. That Fred Karger. The one 99.99% of NH voters have never heard of. That’s one reason he’s getting the much sought-after Cuttlefish recommendation.

Lemme ‘splain. After the jump: [Read more...]

Headline Muse, 10/18

When “the man in the white shirt” let loose
His behavior was seen as abuse
Now he’ll lose accrued time
For his boneheaded crime:
Breaking standards of pepper spray use

Headline: NYC inspector broke pepper spray rule

He may appeal (but frankly, he’s not terribly appealing), but as it stands, the report (on conditions of anonymity) is that he’ll lose vacation time. Gee, I wonder what the penalties would have been if the roles were reversed, and the women he sprayed had sprayed him instead.