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.)

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

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

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

I don’t know what to say

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
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
Who crow that, when with cash we pay,
“In God We Trust” means we display
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!


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.