Platypus Dreams

Buried in all the cool news about the Platypus last week was a little item that struck me. It seems that we do not look at the Platypus just for its DNA, but for another three letters as well. The Platypus dreams; it has REM sleep.

Jerry Siegel, a neuroscientist at UCLA, says he became interested in the platypus because he believed it would help explain how sleep evolved in humans. One theory is that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep evolved recently in humans as our brains got bigger and more complex. It was initially thought that the platypus didn’t have REM sleep cycles, so Siegel went to Australia with modern technology to do more testing.

“And what we saw is that in the platypus, the REM sleep is absolutely unequivocal,” he says.

So, this one is for my dear friends in the land of Oz…

The Platypus lives in the rivers and streams
On the Easternmost edge of Down Under.
Now scientists tell us these critters have dreams–
But what do they dream of, I wonder?

The Platypus dreamtime is strange and bizarre,
We can tell by the R.E.M. sleep.
But of course, we can’t tell what their thoughts really are
From electrodes, and things that go “beep”.

Perhaps it’s a world where a stick that gets thrown
Doesn’t swing back and aim at your head;
Or a place where some nine out of ten snakes aren’t known
To be experts at making you dead.

Or maybe they dream of a spot on the shore
Where it’s sunny, with plenty of worms,
Where it’s nice and it’s cozy, and who could want more
Than a picnic that wriggles and squirms?

A platypus nightmare, I cannot conceive,
From my opposite side of the Earth–
“It was horrible, really! You wouldn’t believe
What came out of me when I gave birth!”

“Not the leathery shell of my nice, normal eggs
But a monster, all hairless and pink!
It was wiggling, and moving, and kicking its legs–
Could it get any grosser, you think?”

Australia, of course, is already so weird;
When a Platypus goes for a snooze,
When the strange world Down Under has all disappeared,
What alternate world would you choose?

Hang The Bastards!

In one of those internet polls we know and love so well, the StarTribune asks the musical question, “Did school officials react properly to the students who did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance?”


As of this writing, 2399 people have voted that the punishment should have been more severe.

I hope I can presume to speak on their behalf.

How dare these children fail to stand!
This is the great and sacred Land
Of Freedom; They should all be sent
To prison as their punishment!
Good, decent folk, like you and me
Display our love of liberty
By joining in the chanting crowd
To pledge allegiance right out loud;
To fail to join the droning throng
Is unAmerican, and wrong!
These kids, these traitors to the flag
Just make me sick! They make me gag!
They should be whipped; they should be beaten,
Their entrails taken out and eaten!
They should be torn from limb to limb
For this unpatriotic whim!
This is my land! I have the right
To make them buckle to my might,
Conform to the majority
And say the pledge along with me!

America, the beautiful,
Your citizens are dutiful,
And constitutionality
Comes second to morality;
And if we trade democracy
For out-and-out theocracy
(It seems we are susceptible)
That’s perfectly acceptable.

While I’m in the majority
Don’t question its authority.

Friday Limericks–Location, Location, Location

There is, of course, a long tradition of location in limericks. The most famous location would have to be Nantucket, but I am certain you have heard others. If you like your own location, see what you can do with it here! If you would prefer to be somewhere else, immortalize that location in five lines. Or just pick a place that fits the rhyme scheme and be done with it!

There once was a lady from Boston
With a body too small to get loston
And the patriot’s trail
From her head to her tail
Is worth ev’ry last cent that it’s coston

There once was a man from L.A.
Who decided to drive far away
With the traffic, his car
Didn’t get very far
So that’s where he still is today

A student in Kalamazoo
Played a sensual song on kazoo
Her friend heard the humming
And thoughts started coming–
“When that song is over–me too?”

There once was a Podblack from Perth
On the down-under side of the Earth
Who writes posts every day
And has real things to say
But mine rhymes… for whatever that’s worth.

Apology #130 to William Shakespeare

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the spot
Some mussels have to tell the dark from light;
A complex lens, this mollusk it has not—
One could not claim a mussel has true sight.
I have seen pigment cups for eyes in snails
But no such eyes my beauty doth possess—
To see a light’s direction, sans details
Is not the job of her eyes, I confess.
Nor pinhole lens, nor any incomplete
Approximation of her perfect eye;
No trail of clues to offer a concrete
Explanatory theory to apply.
And yet, all data points to one solution—
The eyes I love arose through evolution.

A Blood-Curdling Cautionary Tale Of Science Run Amok

Genetically, of course, a spork
Is half a spoon, and half a fork
A laboratory in New York
Created them, then popped the cork.

Please, gentle reader, do not swoon,
But there was also, once, a foon
(That’s half a fork, and half a spoon)
Created, sadly, all too soon.

In cutlery, one tempts the Fates
When artificially, one mates
Utensils from across the plates
Regardless of recessive traits.

A careless thought: “let’s cross F-1
Again with forks, and have some fun.”
The simple plan was soon begun,
Then all too soon: “What have we done?”

With thirst for blood and killing drives
Such meddling ends in loss of lives
I only hope someone survives
To tell—the sporks have found the knives!

From xkcd, of course.

In His Own Image

They say that God created Man
As part of an enormous plan,
And did so in His image, cos he loves us, every one.
When men of God discriminate
And treat their fellow men with hate
They do so with the knowledge it’s what Jesus would have done.
When righteous men, in righteous ways
Hate atheists, or Jews, or gays,
Or Muslims, pagans, redheads, southpaws, foreigners, or Voodoo
I know at first it may seem odd,
But clearly, you’ve created God
In your own image, when you find he hates the same folks you do.

“You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates the same people you do.” –Annie Lamott

(there are a number of versions of that quote floating around, attributed to Lamott—If anyone happens to know the definitive version, I would be happy to correct what I have here.)

Friday Limericks: Time

Yeah, I said Friday Limericks.  Commenter Anfractuous reminds me that I missed the actual Friday, if you want to be all technical about it.  I do apologize–life is a bit hectic right now.  I will post about it soon, but a Major Life Event is coming up at the end of the month–it is very very good news for me, but comes at a difficult time (long story short–the cuttlespouse has been out of work since Christmas.  Things are ok, but what should have been an overwhelmingly cool thing is a very very cool thing that is also an added stress.  And this is a better time than most to thank the people who have used the tip jar.)

So anyway, time occasionally gets away from me.  And today being Limerick Friday (work with me here), I shall have my revenge.
Time’s an illusion, you know
And lunchtime, of course, doubly so–
It so rapidly passes,
Or slow as molasses,
And where did my yesterday go?!?
The telling of time is an art
Take, for instance, the time we’re apart:
That time is not reckoned
By hour or by second,
But measured in beats of my heart.
I remember when days used to last,
And a year was impossibly vast;
It seems yesterday morn
When my children were born–
How the hell did they grow up so fast?
My days, though to say so seems trite,
Seem to pass at the speed of–well, light.
If I only could see ’em,
I’d carpe each diem,
But they so quickly pass out of sight.
There–your turn!  Time is of the essence!

National Day Of Prayer

No, seriously. It’s the National Day Of Prayer. Not everyone is happy about it.

It’s time to raise our voice in prayer,
And pray to–well, there’s no one there.
No god to urge to do our bidding;
Go on and pray–just know you’re kidding.

It’s time to all sit on our asses,
And pray forgiveness for trespasses
(Or is that to forgive our debtor?
Who cares, as long as we feel better.)

It’s time we all embrace god fully,
Feel all righteous, good, and holy–
Or be some atheistic jerk,
Roll up your god-damned sleeves, and work!

It’s time to say “I do not care
To join you in this day of prayer.”
Sure, a day off looks like fun,
But there is work that must be done.

Our problems will not fix themselves
There is no god to send in elves
To do the work of human ranks
So… join, today, in prayer? No thanks.

A Guest Post

Commenter Anfractuous, who has previously shown incredible skill with limericks, provided the following as a comment to my previous post. It is so good, I thought I’d put it here on the front page (since not everyone reads the comments–go figure).

Dear Cuttles,

Of course you’re not moral; that comes from above!
Morality’s only for those those in whose glove
Resides a steel rod that will punish the sin,
Which comes from the garden and now lives within.

It’s true because Satan’s words came first to Eve.
Because she was “woe-man,” the one to believe
That she, in defiance, could just disobey
The Word she’d been giv’n on the very first day.

Because she was uppity, thought she could know
What knowledge of evil and good might bestow
Upon her and Adam, cooped up in that place,
Where only obedience’s choking embrace…

Kept them from knowledge that freedom would bring.
If they used free will, they’d cut God’s puppet string.
The meaning of good or of bad was not given,
So how could she know that from grace they’d be riven?

God made the decision to make us this way,
To give us free will so that we’d disobey.
That way he could punish to His heart’s content,
To show us just what His omnipotence meant!

It’s God’s will that we must conform for all time.
He set up the rules and then watched with sublime,
Sadistic amusement, on seeing us squirm.
He knows how remote our real chance to confirm…

His ridiculous rules that we have to obey.
(Besides, His omniscience predicted we’d play.)
So now, by His Rules, your morality comes
From worship of Him, only under His thumbs.

Good works do not count – they’re from dumb libruls’ minds.
They work only IF abject worship He finds
And then only IF you will also excise
Any thoughts of equality for those other guys…

Who might love the “wrong kind,” or those who might think
That women should be anywhere else but the sink,
Or in a man’s bed, though their bodies are evil.
They’re here for their wombs, (but their minds are medieval.)

If men are allowed to observe female skin,
They’ll turn into beasts (their control is that thin!)
But it’s not the men’s fault. That resides upon her.
It’s her evil skin to which men’s minds refer…

In lust and in sin – but just “boys being boys.”
The female form’s only just one of their toys.
So it’s moral to bomb all those places of sin
Where those evil women “do God’s babies in.”

God loves it when X-tians do mean things to gays,
Or lesbos or libruls – set atheists ablaze.
It’s moral to castigate anyone “other,”
But don’t take our guns or make black folks our brother.

Morality’s not what those atheist folks do.
It only comes from a strict Biblical view.
So now you all know how the God system works
If you have any questions, just ask X-tian jerks!