“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.

Garbage! (A Happy Dog Song)

My dog was a little bit frisky
As we went for our evening walk
And it might be the moon, or the whisky
But I swear I could hear the pup talk
My pooch wasn’t sleepy, nor hungry
He’s well rested, and recently fed—
Well then what, of all things, was the matter?
And so help me, here’s what my dog said:

Oh, please, can we roll in some garbage?
Can we wallow in filth for a bit?
As an eau-de-toilette, it’s the best you can get
Can we please roll around in some shit?
I love how it feels, the saran wrap and peels,
The aroma of chicken and fish
Oh, please, can we roll in some garbage?
Won’t you please grant your doggie his wish!

Then he smiled and he puckered his eyebrows
Did that thing where he cocks his cute head
He was doing his best to be fetching
But I wasn’t so easily led
So he whined and he wagged, and he wiggled,
But he wasn’t quite making it plain
He could tell that I wasn’t persuaded
So my puppy implored me again:

Oh, please, can we roll in some garbage?
There’s some stinky stuff here on the lawn
And I think I smell skunk, such a wonderful funk
We should hurry, before it’s all gone!
How could anyone think it’s a bad kind of stink?
When it’s all of the things I adore?
Oh, please, can we roll in some garbage?
I won’t ask you for anything more!

He was asking so very politely
With that puppy-dog look in his eyes
So I stopped for a bit and considered
And you know, he deserved a surprise
We were passing some odorous trash bags
When I told him “ok, we can stop”
And I opened a bag and I dumped it,
And we both rolled around in the slop!

Come join us, and roll in some garbage!
In coffee grounds, fish heads, and slime
Squirm around, if you please, in some old moldy cheese
Cos it’s really a wonderful time!
You won’t really know, till you give it a go,
What it’s like to be happy and free
Come join us, and roll in some garbage!
Have fun with my puppy and me!

Wolf: “Do You Thank The Lord?”

It’s so annoying when tornado victims don’t follow the script, isn’t it?

Wolf: “…we’re happy you’re here; you guys did a great job. And I guess you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord? For that split-second decision?”

Survivor: “I… I… I’m actually an atheist.”

Wolf: “Oh, you are! … But you made the right call.”

Survivor: “Yep; we are here. And I don’t, I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord”

Wow, and she doesn’t seem at all angry at God, either. Darned atheists, don’t they know the script?

Cuttlecap tip to Anonymous, via twitter.

The Promise Of Spring (Yeah… Promises, Promises)

The trees are not budding
The grass is still brown
The remnants of snowbanks
Lay all around town
The flowers aren’t blooming
Except one or two
But there, in the distance,
A brief flash of blue?

There’s rain in the forecast
And that’ll bring mud
Some seasons are lovely
But this one’s a dud
It’s this way for ages,
A very strange thing,
But one—just one—bluebird,
And, suddenly… Spring!

bluebird

Yeah, it’s pretty gray in Cuttletown. The green in the background is from evergreens, not new leaves. But this morning (it rained last night) it was as if the birds had all arrived at once. Songs I haven’t heard in months, old familiar friends back from points south.

The winter birds, with the exception of the jays and the cardinals, have been studies in black, white, and grey. Even the goldfinch was wearing winter colors, and barely recognizable. So when I saw this bluebird, I had to check to be sure it wasn’t a trick of the light and yet another junco. But no! Actual eastern bluebird! So Spring is here!

Which I’ll keep telling myself for a few more weeks until the leaves and flowers start arriving.

Success!!

So today at the store, I got back 60 cents in change. All well and good, but when I grabbed the quarters to put them in the pile for de-godding, I noticed that one of them looked a little different. “In [smudge] We Trust”, it read, unless my eyes deceived me.

success

Yes! Now, I had never used any quarters at that store, so this must have come from a parking meter, or from the little cafe near my office, or from the UNICEF box at Halloween. Not from a busker–they always got dollar coins, and always more than one (even the lousy ones got 2 bucks minimum–I kept telling myself, it’s not my money to spend, it’s our money to put in circulation).

This coin does look like one of mine, but of course there is another, even better possibility–that there are more of us out there, de-godding coins that will be around for decades.

Running Out Of Time! (Get Your Cuttlefish Valentines Here!)

Dammit. I intended to space these out, but life got in the way.

I did get to post the Evolutionary Biology Valentine (and its additional verses), but that was it.

Now, all I can do (since it’s already Valentines Day in parts of the world) is a data dump. I suspect, though, that you will detect a pattern. (spoiler: the pattern says I am not a reductionist!)

Science of Love (a Valentine)

A Scientific Valentine

Sonnet 116.1 (a Shakespeare parody, opposing reductionism)

A Reproductive Message (a song, based on an evolutionary psychology paper. Context at the link.)

What do women want? (A valentine) Despite the title, this is far less valentine and far more a comment on a particular article. Again, context at the link.)

Heart In A Jar. Remember when they made a heart (in a jar) out of stem cells and the cellular equivalent of duct tape? I do. These verses took that achievement and used it as a springboard. I don’t recommend these as real valentines, but if you have a special someone these really work for… consider yourself incredibly fortunate.

There may be a few more here and there, but those are all I can recall.

Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!

To The Editor…

To the editors and readers:

I am writing to respond to a letter from December; one that clearly went beyond any measure of civility in how it framed its views, so I’m writing in rebuttal, so the citizens can choose.

Let me first list my credentials, and define my expertise, so you’ll know I’m not some moron who just wants to state his piece. I’m an engineer, designer, and a builder, you should know; it’s my aerospace technology that made our missiles go! When it comes to rocket science, all those people are my peers. And I’ve studied Holy Scripture, too, for over forty years.

In my personal opinion, see, the courts have got it wrong, and we should have taught creation in our high schools all along. Since it isn’t only Christians backing Genesis’ report, it’s not favoring religion, so it ought to please the court!

And I hardly dare to mention, but I will, cos I’ve resolved, that our modern science classes should not say that we’ve evolved! It’s a theory—just a a theory—and it’s quite a nasty job to imagine we’re descended from some ancient swampy blob! Now, I hear there’s tons of data, but I think the truth you’ll find is that evolution happens, but within a given kind; man has changed across millennia, in stature and in shape, but he’s never been a monkey, and he’s never been an ape!

There are sources that support me! There are books and books galore; you can find them by the dozen at your local Christian store! If you’re not the type for reading, why, they also come on tapes—you can listen while you’re driving, how we didn’t come from apes.

But enough of this digression; I’ll return now to my thread, to the letter from December, and the nasty things it said; it complained about the sneaking of religion into schools, which the author wrongly stated was against our nation’s rules. See, you simply can’t ignore it; you can’t do it; no one can, cos the science says religion is how everything began.

Sincerely…

Original letter here, at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. I think I actually used to get that paper, once upon a time. On Sundays, anyway.

Or for you purists who like end-stopped lines…

To the editors and readers: I am writing to respond
To a letter from December; one that clearly went beyond
Any measure of civility in how it framed its views,
So I’m writing in rebuttal, so the citizens can choose.

Let me first list my credentials, and define my expertise,
So you’ll know I’m not some moron who just wants to state his piece;
I’m an engineer, designer, and a builder, you should know,
It’s my aerospace technology that made our missiles go
When it comes to rocket science, all those people are my peers.
And I’ve studied Holy Scripture, too, for over forty years.

In my personal opinion, see, the courts have got it wrong
And we should have taught creation in our high schools all along.
Since it isn’t only Christians backing Genesis’ report
It’s not favoring religion, so it ought to please the court!

And I hardly dare to mention, but I will, cos I’ve resolved,
That our modern science classes should not say that we’ve evolved!
It’s a theory—just a a theory—and it’s quite a nasty job
To imagine we’re descended from some ancient swampy blob!
Now, I hear there’s tons of data, but I think the truth you’ll find
Is that evolution happens, but within a given kind;
Man has changed across millennia, in stature and in shape,
But he’s never been a monkey, and he’s never been an ape!

There are sources that support me! There are books and books galore,
You can find them by the dozen at your local Christian store!
If you’re not the type for reading, why, they also come on tapes—
You can listen while you’re driving, how we didn’t come from apes.

But enough of this digression; I’ll return now to my thread,
To the letter from December, and the nasty things it said;
It complained about the sneaking of religion into schools
Which the author wrongly stated was against our nation’s rules.
See, you simply can’t ignore it; you can’t do it; no one can.
Cos the science says religion is how everything began.

Losing My Religion In A Major Way

Well, a major key, actually. Via Open Culture, a bit of computer rejigging by MajorScaledTV, turns a familiar minor-key song… weird:

Sure, pretty much everybody will prefer the original, but this is a neat exercise. I just wonder how many times I will have to listen to it before my eyelid stops twitching.

(Ok, you want real weirdness? The Doors’ classic “Riders On The Storm”, converted to major key. Truly creepy.)

________________________________________________

My new plan… is to listen to this until it sounds normal. Then, listen to the original again, to see if it is immediately better, or if it just sounds weird.