Live Same-Sex Wedding To Be Part Of New Year’s Tournament Of Roses Parade

At the Tournament Of Roses,
There’s a wonderful parade
Where the floats are not just beautiful,
They’re very strangely made:
Every inch of them is covered
With a flower, leaf, or twig;
They must hide the float’s machinery—
Each lever; every rig—
It’s a grand show of technology,
A flowered tour de force,
And it’s televised to millions
Every New Year’s Day, of course
For a hundred years they’ve done it
(And a handful more, as well)
But this year there’s something different,
So the whole thing goes to hell.
It’s been flowers and designers
Since the Tournament’s first day,
But there’s going to be a float this year
That turns the whole thing gay!

The beginning of the New Year is the end of the world, or so it seems to the Christian News Network. You see, they have horrible news:

PASADENA, Calif. – Two homosexual men are set to ‘wed’ on New Year’s Day during the historic Tournament of Roses parade, as they ride a float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Congratulations! Danny Leclair and Aubrey Loots are getting married!

According to reports, Leclair and Loots will ride a wedding cake-shaped float themed “Dreams come true,” which will also bear the motto “Love is the best protection,” referring to the global AIDS epidemic. The AIDS Healthcare Foundations says that the float is meant to demonstrate “the role marriage can play in reducing HIV infections among gay men.”

The Christian News Network, of course, is opposed to their marriage. It is an affront to God, it displays sin, it something something … reasons. Apparently, they would rather have unstable relationships and HIV infections, because God loves… sick or dead people, apparently.

Anyway, the comments at the CNN are either hilarious or depressing, depending on how seriously you take them. Especially the letters of complaint people have written to the Tournament of Roses people, expressing offense on the part of themselves and God.

You might want to make a New Year’s resolution to never read the comments again.

Paying It Forward…

as per Ophelia

I plagiarized a poet; I
Recycled someone’s rhyme;
I composed collaborations,
Never thinking it a crime

It’s the form of my expression;
It’s the narrative I choose;
It’s the sharing of ideas—
Does it really matter whose?

Hey, a sonnet is a sonnet,
Make the topic what you will—
With a rhyming dictionary
There’s no function left to skill!

In the world of modern poetry,
Your sentences are free—
You could play the Prince of Denmark…
To be, or not to… something…

Plagiarism as a new art form? I must have scores of verses that are pastiches on this or that… (I won’t link one, lest I link a dozen, and that’s not fair). It seems to me that pretty much all parties know (which is very different from all parties admitting) when party B has used party A’s stuff. Some of it is protected; some of it is being a bastard. I have tried, myself, to only use protected bits of other people’s writing… if you see something you think is otherwise, please let me know!

Ophelia notes that being pointed to other people’s writing is a good thing, a feature, not a bug…I agree.

And if you plagiarize me… remember, my sister used to be a lawyer.

Now she’s a judge.

Godless Dollars For Buskers

There’s a busker on the corner
With a beat-up old guitar
And he’s singing ‘bout some wise men
Who were following a star
And the night is getting chilly
And he’s missed a meal or two
Could be sadness; could be frostbite
But he’s looking rather blue
Stop and listen to his music,
And to really cheer him up,
You can drop some godless dollars in his cup

Walk a block or two up further
And you’ll hear a young quartet
With a sound that’s warm and cheerful
In the cold and dark and wet
On ahead, a hammered dulcimer
Plays carols in the night
And it almost feels Dickensian
The sound, the smells, the sight
It’s the warmth of shared humanity
That keeps the cold at bay
While you’re passing godless dollars on your way

And the local high school chorus
Dots the town in smaller groups
Going house-by-house and caroling
To neighbors from their stoops
And an actor reads a story
Of the Ghost of Christmas Past,
And it’s magic, for a moment,
Though of course, it cannot last
Christmas lasts, it seems, forever;
Scenes like this are much too short…
So you give them godless dollars for support.

With final exam season, I had forgotten all about last year’s project, de-godding dollar coins and using them to support the local musicians who are doing their best to make this season less of a chore for shoppers and businesspeople. I’d actually like to suggest that this could be “a thing”–that is, in the same way as bills stamped “gay money”, or 2-dollar bills for gun enthusiasts (for the 2nd amendment, geddit?), a noticeable but unobtrusive sign of atheist giving. It’s just as easy to drop a handful of coins into a guitar case as it is a handful of bills (and they won’t blow away!), plus you get to feel like Scrooge (or Scrooge McDuck), tossing coins at street urchins.

Just go to your bank and trade in some paper money for dollar coins, de-god them (an engraver, a Dremel tool, or a cold chisel would all work quite well), and give them out generously to the musicians and others you wish to support. (Yes, of course you can just take a sharpie to your bills, but they aren’t as noticeable–and it’s fun to see a musician who thinks you dropped in quarters realize that, nope, those were unanticipated dollars!

And if you are really lazy, just donate here, using the tip jar–I have pledged that all donations will be converted to de-godded coins (quarters stay in circulation longer, but dollars fit this plan better) and used to spread cephalopodmas cheer year-round.

Oh, yeah, buy my book(s), too–the perfect (war against) Christmas present. (links in the “Buy the book (etc.)! tab at the top of this page.)
Pile of de-godded dollar coins

Wait–It’s JesusWeen Already?

I hope you have your bibles, in a big stack by the door
Cos tonight’s the night (it’s JesusWeen!) that’s what those books are for
You can hand them to the costumed kids who plaintively implore
“In the name of Christ the Savior, Trick or Treat”

They’ll be dressed as saints and sinners as they travel through the night
As they spread the word of Jesus, to the neighborhood’s delight
You can offer them some candy, but they won’t accept a bite–
Next to Jesus, nothing else could be so sweet!

Stack of pocket sized bibles

Stack of pocket sized bibles

I forgot it was (or nearly is, depending on your neighborhood) JesusWeen! (which, yes, really is a thing.)

Related:
It’s JesusWeen, Charlie Brown!
The JesusWeen Story
Bibles For Trick-Or-Treat!
Blue Roses: A Halloween Poem

The Muppets Take The Mall!

The National Mall, that is–the Muppets are moving to the Smithsonian! (Great pics and story at link)

*******

Scooter: Places, everyone! Five minutes till curtain!

Fozzie Bear: Has anyone seen my hat?

Miss Piggie: Now, where did that Hope Diamond go? I was wearing it just a minute ago…

Gathering throng outside:
It’s time to buy our tickets
It’s time to shout “hooray”
It’s time to go and visit
All the Muppets on display!

Miss Piggy:
It’s time to wear the diamond
If only for today

Scooter:
It’s time to raise the curtain
On the Muppets on display!

Kermit (who has lived at the museum since 1994):
Our national museum
Is where they’ll settle down
You know you want to see ‘em
Whenever you’re in town

Miss Piggy:
It’s time to see my Kermie

Kermit:
I don’t know what to say

Scooter:
It’s time to get things started

Gathering throng:
Why don’t you get things started?

Kermit, others joining in:
It’s time to get things started
On the most sensational
Educational
Generational
Muppetational
Come and see the Muppets on display!

Miss Piggy, wearing the Hope Diamond. Smithsonian photo, by Cade Martin.

Finally, A Pick-up Guide That Works!

How to pick up women (with science)“, by Dean Burnett, over at the Guardian.

Since the dawn of humanity, when virile men were knuckle-dragging troglodytes untouched by evolution
They needed to pick up women, and looked to experts for a solution
These pick-up artists (or in some special cases, artistes)
Took pity on the manly beasts
And told them that women would respond to certain subtle cues
That experts use.
For millennia, men have tried to use these artists’ information
With little to no success, but with a fervor brought about by desperation
Imagine, now, their joy at discovering a new set of techniques in which they can put their reliance
That uses science!
So, troglodytes, it’s time for you to abandon useless pick-up schools
And follow these rules!

(having read the url, I was reluctant to click–but since it was sent to me by my pal Kylie, I knew I could trust it. And so can you. Well worth reading. My favorite technique is “the Skinner”, harnessing the tremendous power of operant conditioning)

“In God We Trust” vs “In God We Trust”

The motto stamped on bills and coins
Is everywhere. The phrase enjoins,
“In God We Trust”.
Unless we wish to be so brash
As just refuse to carry cash
It seems we must.
The warnings come, so stern and dour
From representatives of our
Democracy
Who crow that, when with cash we pay,
“In God We Trust” means we display
Hypocrisy
But if, perchance, you should refuse,
And go to court and, sadly, lose
Believers scoff
If that is what the phrase is for
Then let them make the claim once more…
I’ll grind it off

I’ve noticed something strange. There are two completely different versions of “In God We Trust” on American money. One type is what the courts have consistently seen in their rulings on the motto–it is an example of “ceremonial deism”, a national motto rather than a actual invocation of a god; it is hidden in purse or pocket, rather than displayed as an affirmation (the comparison is made to “Live Free Or Die” on NH license plates, which are prominently and publicly displayed, and force the user to act as an advertisement for the motto), and thus can put no burden on non-believers (or others who object). It is not religious in the slightest, but rather a nod to history and to patriotism, and complaining about it is like complaining about the shape of Washington’s nose–you may disagree, but it’s a trivial matter and not a legitimate injury. And who could complain about this “In God We Trust”? It would be like going to court complaining that the reeding on the edge of the quarter was too fine. It’s trivial. It’s nothing. I have no problem with this “In God We Trust”.

It’s the other “In God We Trust” that bothers me. The one the judges don’t seem to see, but which a great many others, from regular citizens to lawmakers to televised “experts”, constantly refer to. The phrase that the commenters at CBN, or The Blaze, clearly see in yesterday’s story. The one referred to on Fox’s “The Five”, in support of the (equally ceremonial) “under God” pledge. The one commenters used to bash Jessica Ahlquist. The one used to turn all atheists into hypocrites, since they carry god around in their pockets (if there remains anyone who has not seen that little rhetorical trick, just follow the link to The Blaze, hold your nose, and read some of the comments).

That second “In God We Trust” is the one I am removing from my money. It’s perfectly legal (no more damaging on bills than “where’s George?“, and not damaging at all to coins (unlike cross pennies), which can still be used in any vending machine or parking meter, or at any store. And since the courts have decided that the presence of the phrase is no big deal, its removal is likewise a trivial matter. And those believers who are so concerned with my hypocrisy have to support my honest money, since my bearing false witness would be a sin.

Anyway, the courts have spoken yet again, and I won’t complain. I do wonder if an individual politician who uses the second “In God We Trust” to bash an atheist could ever see legal consequences. I mean, technically, in that world view such a politician is guilty of taking the lord’s name in vain… but that book is more suggestions than commandmants, innit?

I am continuing the tradition of de-godding a batch of coins whenever I see the second “In God We Trust”, and of de-godding any and all paypal donations. (I have changed my mind, though–I am going to bend over backward to make it all quarters now, and not dollar coins–I have seen evidence that the quarters remain in circulation, and evidence that shopkeepers won’t recirculate the coins, but rather simply bring them to the bank.) It’s practically no effort at all, and very satisfying.

Related posts:
To Phrase A Coin
Ceremonial De-Deism
Guess God Was Only Ceremonial After All

Waiter! This Coffee Doesn’t Taste Like Shit!

I grind my coffee fresh each day,
A hearty, fragrant scoop
With hints of citric acid, and
A note of civet poop
But with the market full of fakes
I might just have to quit…
I mean, who wants a cup of joe
That doesn’t taste like shit?

Via NPR, the latest on Civet Cat Poop Coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal’s digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

The exotic processing makes the coffee, called Kopi Luwak, exceptionally rare — and expensive: Think $600 per pound. And thus, experts suspect that much of what’s sold as civet coffee on the market is actually either fake or made from low-grade beans.

And worth every penny. Think about it–the only possible reason to buy a cup is conspicuous consumption–showing off–and even more than dusty wine and stinky cigars, nothing says “I’ve got money to burn” more appropriately than paying outrageous sums for a cup of literal shit.

But the story is actually pretty cool. Actually, a lot of coffee chemistry and psychophysics is pretty cool. And the picture of the coffee-bean civet cat shit is classic (the living conditions of the animals, considerably less cool). And while I’d be willing to be part of a blind taste test to evaluate the extravagant claims, there is no way I’d pay for the privilege. Anyone who has seen my wardrobe knows, I am not one for conspicuous consumption.