The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 3

More odds and ends.

First, a recent one, about the defacing of the atheist student organization’s sign:

A simple sign, with scarlet letter–
Surely, one could make it better!
I knew I could, and so I drew
A heart, and cross, and “God Loves You”.
“Jesus Is Coming”–there, I’m done;
That’s much improved, and so much fun!

But now, sit back and watch–I’ll bet
Those angry atheists get upset;
They’re not content to turn a cheek–
They’re uppity, they’ll want to speak!
It’s just like them, to be so rude…

And that’s why they deserved it, dude.

About the attempted pharyngulation of a World Nut Daily online poll:

His minions do as they are told
But even they cannot be sold
On this, and so they’ll have to fold;
This craziness cannot be polled.

Perhaps it was a really bold
Idea from a different mold
Or else, perhaps, comedic gold;
This craziness cannot be polled.

Of course, I do not mean to scold
But polls like this are getting old
I think it’s gotten uncontrolled;
This craziness cannot be polled.

The World Nut Daily must uphold
It’s principles (what? none? that’s cold)
With tinfoil hats, and shirtsleeves rolled;
This craziness cannot be polled.

A couplet entitled “I promise, I’ll pull out!”:

So President Bush, that son-of-a-pistol,
Told Iraq the same thing that Levi told Bristol.

A disturbing post by a disturbed writer, perhaps an attempt at satire, proposed some solutions for what to do about the atheist problem:

A modest proposal, on how to dispose all
The Atheist garbage and haul it away–
Although it’s Tom Willis, I think that it still is
A decades-old tactic, the Klan used to play.

It may be that laughter is what he is after
It may be he thinks he’s a humorous guy
Or maybe some tumor deprived him of humor
He thinks it is funny…. I just want to cry.

A double dactyl about a (frankly, very cool) wristwatch–instead of numbers, it showed intermediate species on the long road from single-celled organisms to everybody’s favorite vertebrate, the featherless biped:

Witchily, watchily,
P.Z.’s chronometer’s
Lovely to look at, but
What are the odds

He could get rid of the
Nature’s epitome?

The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 2

Another batch of comments. Again, nothing organized, just collected.

First, when PZ came back from the Amazing Meeting, he decided he needed to wear a hat…

While the women all adore a
Man who’s sporting a fedora
There are men who look like idiots with something on their head

Not a porkpie, fez or turban
Whether rural wear or urban
Is the sort of thing I picture looking stylish on P-Zed

When he put on a souwester,
Why, his hair began to fester
And he had to reconsider why that’s something that he did

But if I could write a sonnet
To suggest his sort of bonnet
I am thinking, on his head should perch some stylish sort of squid.

Regarding a charming little animated short, showing the trials and tribulations of a pair of octopi and their pursuer, a Chef, as they are chased through a seaside Greek villa…

When the chips are all counted, when everything’s done,
When push, they say, comes to shove,
I’d wager against the return of the sun
Ere a cephalopod who’s in love.
When the wagering comes to affairs of the heart
(where a cuttlefish, reader, has three)
Then a cephalopod has a boost from the start
(well, at least, it appears so to me.)
Now an octopus (mutant, with only six arms)
Fights for love–for a life lived in peace;
And a cephalopod can find magical charms
When it finds it’s in love and in Greece.

I honestly don’t remember anything about this one, other than the the post spoke of “Dr. Who meets Dr. Seuss”. Maybe that’s enough…

If you see Bob, or Sue, or Alex
Tell them to avoid the Daleks
They do not like; they only hate,
And always yell “Exterminate!”
A Dalek kills
It kills for thrills
In Dalek dales and Dalek hills
And here’s some news
They hate the Whos
Whichever Doctor you may choose!
From then to now, from now to then,
Doctor Who is everywhen!

I tend not to collect my limericks–too many of them, you see. But this trio followed PZed’s admission that he was “oozing slime and fluids like a mollusc”… as if that were a bad thing… and his revelation that he is scheduled for one of the exams people generally don’t like being subjected to…

There once was a blogger named Myers
Who confessed that among his desires
Was a peek up his ass
With an brass looking-glass
And an old pair of needle-nosed pliers.

A colonoscopic exam
Is a good way to show who you am
You can lie there and take it
Or take drugs and fake it
By muttering softly “goddamn”

Just back from a trip to Galapagos
P-Zed is now oozing, non-stopagos
That won’t stop his blogging–
He just keeps on slogging–
Complaining with each little dropagos

And lastly (for volume 2), a couplet. It really could comment on so many topics, but I don’t recall which it actually did comment on.

Wherever two or more of you are gathered in His Name
The odds will rise, the exercise is one of casting blame.

The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 1

Nothing new here–just a collection of old comments, mostly from Pharyngula, that I am putting here just to have them in one place. I should really track down links to the original threads, but not today.

First, posted while I was in Bulgaria, I think–PZ had an actual science thread, on variation in snake populations, as measured in their resistance to Tetrodotoxin. Different snake populations had solved the problem of how to eat poisonous salamanders by selection of different mutations. Very cool.

Mercy me! For goodness’ sakes!
Evolving proteins in some snakes
Are letting them make meals of newts
(No, not the kind in business suits,
But Gingrich is a special case,
And this is not the time nor place)
Without the nasty tummy-ache
That signals curtains for the snake–
The newts, you see, have TTX
(Tetrodotoxin) which effects
The channeling of sodium
Through nervous membranes, which for some
Makes Fugu into “Tasty Fish”
But would not be a snake’s first wish;
There are three groups of which we speak,
From Warrenton, and Willow Creek,
And Benton. Populations vary
In mutations that they carry,
Also in resistance found,
Compared to other snakes around.
Mutations in the protein chains
Have been confirmed, and this explains
The difference in immunity–
It’s quite what you’d expect to see
If such things worked by miss and hit
And not by some Creation shit.


Next, from a while back when PZed was getting email from concerned citizens… in particular the threat that traced back to the floral delivery company… We sometimes forget that emails leave a trail, that can be followed.

I imagine someone cowers in an office, after hours,
At the 1-800-Flowers building, somewhere in New York.
Overwhelmed by the unending flow of emails folks are sending,
With no chance at all, intending for to stop it with a cork.
Once you start to dance or revel, if the fiddler is the Devil
Then there’s no more straight and level–you are gambling with your soul;
If you bend to your desires and you threaten P. Z. Myers,
It’s your choice to burn in fires, and we’ll see you in the hole!


The cracker kerfuffle resulted in (I shan’t say “inspired”) entirely too many posts, and entirely too many comments:

If PZ is demonized, villainized, hated,
Beyond even Hitler, the worst of the worst,
Imagine how horrible God is, who fated
His son to be crucified (He did it first).
If Jesus, who knew that He would not outlive them,
(Because He was dying, but also was God)
Could say of His torturers “Father, forgive them”,
It seems Richard Riley’s reaction is odd.
In two thousand years, how those words are distorted–
A message of love and forgiveness? Oh, well….
A nail through a cracker is what was reported;
Now Myers is Hitler… and so, burns in Hell.


More than just the cracker Kerfuffle, there were posts on works of art that somehow also offended the HRC. Jesus with an erection, or a crucified frog…

Why are there so many threads about Catholics
And who’s on the other side?
Catholics have rosaries, and Catholics have Mary,
And crackers with Jesus inside–
So they’ve been told, and some choose to believe it
Like some sort of devious plan
Someday we’ll find it–the Jesus connection
The subhuman atheists and man…

Who said that Jesus lives inside of each biscuit–
Who’d say a thing that bizarre?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
And look what it’s done so far–
What’s so religious it makes us litigious?
And what do we think we should ban?
Someday we’ll find it–the Jesus connection–
The inhuman atheists and man….

…All of them under its spell
We know it’s deplorably tragic…

Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
And what do they tell you to do?
Is this religious? Or is it psychotic?
And how do you tell ‘twixt the two?
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
I’m sorry the whole thing began…
Someday we’ll find it–the Jesus connection–
Those atheist bastards and man…


Enough for one post. More later.

Angels and Evidence

PZ notes that Time magazine reports poll results showing that 55% of Americans believe that they have personally been helped by a guardian angel. Yup, that they have experienced an interventionist magical spirit at work. I present the following as a public service, reminding people that just because you don’t personally know how you survived an event, that does not mean an angel helped you. Honest.

That time when the limb fell, and just missed your head—
What was it that caused you to duck?
A split second later, you might have been dead;
It had to be more than mere luck!

An Angel, perhaps watching out from above?
Or some shimmering, heavenly light?
The manifestation of God’s perfect love?
An Angel, you say? Well, not quite.

The reticular system, at work in your brain,
Can react without consciously thinking—
Avoiding the accident, saving you pain,
Reflexively, almost like blinking.

This primitive pathway has helped us survive—
Evolution at work once again!
No, it wasn’t an Angel that kept you alive,
But your primitive animal brain!

That time, late at night, you were hit by a car
And were comatose over three days?
Was an Angel the one who looked down from a star
And guided you out of the haze?

Well, no. There’s the lady who called nine one one,
And the ambulance, quick to the call;
Blood donors—seven, before you were done,
And the doctors and nurses and all.

It wasn’t an angel, but dozens of people
In whom you should place your reliance;
There’s nothing for you in a church with a steeple
But rather, in medical science.


Of course there are Angels, all over the place;
There’s nothing that’s plainer than this:
Every time you feel raindrops go splash on your face,
Some Angel is taking a piss.

Say what? It’s not Angels, but clouds in the sky?
That’s nonsense, as any can tell!
I tell you it’s Angels that piss from on high—
You cynics can all go to Hell.

Friday Limericks–Vacation is over.

With a moment of deep contemplation
And a wee bit of tasty libation
(Cos Limerick Friday
Must not be a dry day)
The topic is… summer vacation!

The Limerick Friday is back!
All summer, it’s been out of whack–
It was resting… on tour…
Having surgery… (sure,
It spent most of its time in the sack!)

But now, summer vacation is over
No more rolling in fields green with clover;
Tell us, what did you do?
Sail the seas, green or blue?
Or stay home on the couch, there, with Rover?

I, myself, had the best summer yet–
Thanks to some of you (I’ll not forget!)
If you think that your summer
Makes mine seem a bummer–
No question, I’m taking that bet!

A summer in Greece and Bulgaria
I had dreamed, but now I was there (yeah!)
Six weeks–that was all,
But I had such a ball…
Can you beat it? C’mon…hey, I dare ya!

(special thanks to Cath at VWXYNot?)

My Fair Maverick

The foreign policy expert, John McCain, has stepped in a little something. But instead of wiping off his shoes at the earliest opportunity, he has chosen to insist that his shoes are clean, and go walking over the nice clean carpet.

Anyone can step in a little something. It takes a special kind of person to stay the course and deny it once the stink starts getting strong.

McCain’s campaign is plainly pained by Spain
Explain, McCain, don’t strain your brain in vain
Complain, McCain, maintain that Spain’s arcane
Abstain, McCain, refrain from staining Spain!

It’s plain, in Spain, McCain has sprained his brain
The bane of his campaign, Spain will remain
His gains will wane—the sane disdain his train
A strain that his campaign cannot contain

(It entertains, I ascertain,
So once again, I’ll pop champagne!)

(No, it does not fit the melody, so don’t even try)

ETA: Hmph. Time came up with a similar idea. At least for their title.


A brief little message to anyone reading
To all of you, near and farrrrrrrr
Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day,
So wherever ye be, there ye “Arrrrrrrr!”

(for those of ye in the Garrrrrden state, get yer java today not from Starrrrbucks, with their measly 0.5 pirate ratio–one syllable out of two– but from Ahrre’s coffee roastery, with a full 1.0 pirate ratio! Besides, it’s better! Oh, and ye can order online…)

(no, I am not getting any doubloons from Ahrre…  Consider this a public service for any who love coffee…)

PARTY!!!!! (A)

PZ reports on a story from the Sacramento Bee, about the trials and tribulations of that most persecuted of minorities, the heterosexual christian.

The state of California has new, gender-neutral marriage licenses, which list “Party A” and “Party B” instead of the previously-used “Bride” and “Groom”. This, of course, infringes on the rights of Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding (who wish the state to recognize them as “bride and groom”). The fact that they can, in fact, get married, does not deter them. Bird is not eligible for coverage under Codding’s medical benefits, nor can she legally take his name; a situation they share with gay couples in the majority of states. They could simply sign the form, or travel to another state and legally be married as Bride and Groom, options they do not share with gay couples in the majority of states. The article does not specify whether the couple opposes gay marriage, nor whether they feel marriage is a sacred institution and a lifelong commitment (it does state that this is the second marriage for each of them). They just want the state to call them Bride and Groom, they say.

I think it is a reasonable request, if and only if other couples can be Bride and Bride, or Groom and Groom, or Person A and Person B, dependent only on the couple’s own desires. Failing that, the current gender-neutral language does not deny any right to one group that it does not also deny to another, and (more importantly) the “right” that is denied does not in any way impede their ability to actually get married. The choice is theirs. Again, a situation they do not share with gay couples in the majority of states.

The bonds of holy matrimony
Must be seen as wholly phony
If, instead of “Bride and Groom” (or else, of “Man and Wife”),
It’s “Party A and Party B”
(That’s plainly not the same, you see!
That’s no way to address the one who’s going to share your life!)

Our Fellowship (Abundant Life)
Says marriage joins a Man and Wife
Forever as a couple, in Our Lord’s Most Holy View
As is, this form disparages
The sanctity of marriages—
(We ought to know—for each of us, it’s marriage number two)

We cannot enter wedded bliss
With such a godless form as this
A wedding contract, clearly, is between a bride and groom!
This stupid governmental form
Makes abnormality the norm—
A sign of the Apocalypse! A harbinger of doom!

If “Party B and Party A”
Is what the license now will say
The parties are both equal, which is not what God would say!
This new form is a disaster
If it doesn’t name me “Master”,
And it doesn’t state specifically, the missus must obey!


There are some who, even if they tried,
Could not—as yet—be Bride and Bride;
And could not even (yet) be Party A and Party B;
But still I hope that soon, some day
That any couple—straight or gay
Is given equal treatment here… from C to shining C.

Giant Naked Englishman Restored To Life… if you know what I mean…

A couple of reports today (well, yesterday, in Dorset, already) from the BBC report on the restoration of a unique English landmark. A 55-meter giant, wielding a club and sporting an erection, etched in the hillside at the top of a mountain of chalk on a hill in Dorset. The problem is, as it often is, time. With time, the mosses grow, the chalk turns gray or green, the grass obscures the outlines of the figure… It needs a makeover every decade or so–more frequently when the weather has been damper. The process really is impressive (videos available at the links above), as is the fact that these volunteers are carrying 18 tons of chalk up the hill, and 18 tons of dirty, mossy, decayed chalk down the hill, all by hand, a bag at a time.

Each ten (or, sometimes, fewer) years
A team of helpful volunteers
Ascends a hill in Dorset (which is quite a pretty walk)
They’ll haul their shovels, picks, and barrows,
Tamping tools, and rakes and harrows
Helping to restore a giant figure made of chalk

With weather and erosion losses,
Growth of lichens, or of mosses,
Overgrowing grasses now obscure the Giant’s form
So villagers, in long tradition
Set about upon their mission,
Climbing up the hillside, a benign, prosocial, swarm.

The object that demands protection?
A giant, with a huge erection,
Etched in narrow lines of chalk upon the Dorset hill.
He’s fifty meters tall, and nude,
Aroused, it seems, which some find rude
Made several hundred years ago, but gladly with us still.

Some people took a nose or eye
Some others had a foot or thigh
A body part for every volunteer, to catch them all.
Such grueling work, in wind and sun,
It must have been a lot of fun—
Just ask my Aunt Mathilda; why, she says she had a ball!

Sorry, Charlie!

So it seems that… 126 years after Charles Darwin’s death, the Church of England is considering apologizing to him. Considering. It is not yet an official Church position, so perhaps we shouldn’t get our hopes up. But at least one cleric, the Rev. Malcolm Brown, feels strongly enough about it that he has launched a website to promote the idea.

I guess one must call this progress, of a sort–at least it is not the religiously motivated abject denial of science and vilification of Darwin that we see in (some… most?) fundamentalist churches. But frankly, it seems to me that apology and forgiveness are part of the social interactions of living people. Once someone has died, you have missed your opportunity to apologize to them. There are enough wrongs in the world that really could use addressing–even if it is simply though apology and forgiveness–that muddying up the “I’m sorry” business by apologizing to the dead is not really helping much. Perhaps even hurting–if I can insult you, then assuage my guilt by apologizing after you are dead, that’s not a lot of motivation for me to do anything about it while you are still around.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

When giving an apology
To one you’ve wronged, it seems to me
That person really ought to be
Alive, so they can hear.

The Church of England feels it owes
Apologies, to put a close
To punching Charles Darwin’s nose
For oh so many years

“Our first reaction sure was wrong
But now I’m sure we get along
So let’s just tell the gathered throng
We’re sorry stuff was said”

“And though it’s just a little late,
We think, if you will contemplate
That you’ll forgive us—oh, but wait—
It seems that you are… dead.”

“So we could beg and wail and plead
And ask forgiveness in a screed
But there’s no Darwin there to read
What’s written on our letter.”

And so, although it’s overdue,
And makes no difference, Chuck, to you,
To say it’s worthless is untrue:
The Church, at least, feels better.

If you should spread the worst of lies
And hope to then apologize
And make it count, I would advise
You do it while they live.

But if your true, unstated, goal
Is really to yourself console
Who cares if Darwin’s in a hole?
I’m sure he’ll still forgive.