Thousands protest Teacher’s 15-day sentence

But perhaps not for the reasons you might suspect.

The continuing saga of Gillian Gibbons
(I predict, in a day, they’ll have magnetic ribbons
To “show your support for the naming of bears”)
Has reached a new peak—don’t be caught unawares.
When the teacher was sentenced to prison this week
Some protesters gathered in Khartoum to speak;
Thought I, “they must see that this sentence is wrong,
And they’re all coming out, in a mass, thousands strong,
To rail at an outcome they see as too strict,
And move that the Judge, right away, interdict!
But no. I was wrong. All the protesting masses
Had gathered together to prove themselves asses;
A fifteen day sentence? Why, that isn’t squat—
These protesters demand that Ms. Gibbons be shot!
They demand execution by firing squad;
It’s the right thing to do, and the True Will Of God.


Islam is, they say, a religion of peace;
Our attacks on their honor are wrong, and should cease.
To probe this mob’s sanity surely is slander,
We all must admit, if we’re speaking with candor.
To call them extremists, or radical nuts,
Is simply insulting—no ifs, ands, or buts.
It seems when these rioters look in the mirror
They only see goodness—it couldn’t be clearer.
To call for the death of this teacher is brave;
It’s the way that the Prophet, himself, would behave.
So you see, this is peaceful, they calmly explain.
And it makes perfect sense.*

*if you’re bat-shit insane.

Losing the Name Game

I mentioned the name game in a previous post. The bad news, of course, is that Gillian Gibbons played the Name Game… and lost. She has been sentenced to 15 days in jail. And this is considered lenient–she could have received 40 lashes. Yes, 40 lashes. Yes, in 2007.

Now, I’m not the sort that bashes
a religion “just because”.
But the sentence “Forty Lashes”
Gives the average person pause.

When a teacher names a Teddy
Bear “Muhammad”, and is jailed,
Then the Cuttlefish stands ready
To declare “Your system’s failed.”

If the naming of a Teddy Bear
Means this (or any) length
Of prison term, just be aware:
I doubt Muhammad’s strength.

If Allah’s Greatest Prophet
Finds this teacher in the wrong,
We’re justified to scoff at
Him–in poetry or song.

Muhammad’s weakness is a flaw–
Sudan cannot be trusted–
I don’t feel worship, trust, or awe,
I simply feel disgusted.

They had the chance to do it right
To let this teacher go;
From where I sit, Sudan tonight
Is lowest of the low.

My little voice will not be heard
They’ll stick with what they’re doing;
The rules have changed, though–mark my word–
The whole world, now, is viewing.

A song for the season

Said the Little Boy to the Working Mom
Do you see what I see?
Cable channel three-seventeen—
Do you see what I see?
A toy! A toy! A laser-action gun
It will bring me hours of fun
It will bring me hours of fun!

Said the Working Mom to the Absent Dad
Do you hear what I hear?
Listen to your son, Absent Dad
Do you hear what I hear?
Your kid! Your kid! Is driving me insane
And your check is late once again
And your check is late once again!

Said the Absent Dad to the Learned Judge
Do you know what I know?
Sitting on your bench, Learned Judge
Do you know what I know?
My job! My job! Was outsourced to Bhopal
Now I have no money at all
Now I have no money at all!

Said the Learned Judge to the President
Do you see what I see?
On your Crawford ranch, President—
Do you see what I see?
The time, the time, for posturing is past
We must all do something, and fast
We must all do something, and fast!

Said the Prez, to the People Everywhere
Listen to what I say!
Go and shop, People Everywhere!
Listen to what I say!
Just swipe your card, and don’t forget your PIN
You must shop like thrift is a sin!
If you don’t, the Terrorists win!

The Name Game

Ok, maybe you want to be a bit more careful when you are naming your stuffed animals. I’m sure you have heard by this point about Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after her class voted to name their teddy bear Muhammad.

BBC News is discussing the rules about what can and cannot be named after whom.

The issue has been a vexed one for Muslims through the ages. Some believe that the name can only be given to boys – to give it to an object is idolatry. Others say that pets and toys can bear the name.

Dilwar Hussain, of the Islamic Foundation, has no problem with a teddy bear called Muhammad. For some years, the Islamic Society sold a soft toy made for British Muslim children named Adam the Prayer Bear. “Adam is also the name of a Prophet.”

They named their bear Muhammad,
And their teacher was arrested;
Religious views around the world
Are sorely being tested.

It’s cool to name a pit-bull
After Odin, Zeus, or Thor;
A fuzzy little kitten
Aphrodite–and what’s more,

If you search the pets in lands
From Argentina to Moldova
I suspect you’ll find a turtle
That’s called Yahweh or Jehovah.

An octopus named Kali?
I’m sure someone’s been enticed;
And the lizard called the Basilisk
Is nicknamed Jesus Christ.

There is one that’s so ubiquitous
It’s overlooked–how odd.
Imaginary friends, across
The planet, are called “God”.

A Squidmas Carol

Now… I am not, technically, a fan of Squidmas; I have always preferred the more inclusive Cephalopodmas, myself. But some shiftless bum who goes by the name “shiftlessbum” asked nicely, on Pharyngula, if I could “pen a Squidmas carol”. So here is the first.

First thing–it is not a poem, it is a song; if you expect the meter to be precise, you will be disappointed. I assure you, though, that it is quite singable (and would work with either a guitar or a banjo accompaniment, or perhaps a jug band). I had listened to Roy Zimmerman’s Christmas album “Peacenick” earlier today (don’t wait–click the link, go listen to the samples and buy some of his music!), so there may be a bit of that influence there… but the song that really came to mind as a model was Alex Bevan’s “Have another laugh on Cleveland blues” (from the days when Dennis Kucinich was known as the young Mayor of Cleveland). So this is not a terribly traditional Squidmas song, but more of a rollicking fun bit of honkytonk. Oh… and in case you didn’t know, a “radula” is the rasp-like tongue-equivalent that most mollusks use to kinda sorta grind their food to pieces. Just… don’t tell Freud. Anyway, although it is tongue-like, you could not (or rather, a cephalopod could not–I rather doubt that you are a cephalopod) use it to sing “fa-la-la”.

Edit: Ok, not honkytonk. The tune has been brainworming me all day, and it is most decidedly a New Orleans Jazz arrangement… think Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The lineup with the tuba, not the string bass. And a bit slower than I had first envisioned it. But damn, it is good! If any jazz bands happen to read this blog, have your people call my people.

A Squidmas Carol

It was late December, down in the bathysphere,
And the holiday spirit was anywhere but here.
Half a mile down it’s as black as ink
No room to move, but there’s time to think
How I miss, how I miss that topside squidmas cheer!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

Every night down here is a silent, silent night
And I’m glad the doors and windows are closed real tight
There’s a noise on the roof, but I know the truth is
It’s the long, long arms of the architeuthis
No sled, no reindeer, no reason for delight…

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

But then, out the window, a shape catches my eye
It’s jeweled squid—histioteuthis—swimming by
And I think to my self “well, ain’t this grand,
It’ll never ever ever be seen on land.”
And I know for a fact, I’m a lucky, lucky guy!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

As I gaze out through three inches of fused quartz glass
At the strange and beautiful creatures as they pass
I know, half a mile down in the deep blue sea
Is the only place in the world for me
And that fat old bearded elf can kiss my ass!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

You can keep your sled and your eight tiny reindeer
It’s squidmastime in my tiny bathysphere
You can envy me in your world above
‘Cos I’m spending squidmas in the place I love
Merry Squidmas, and a wonderful New Year!

You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my darling
You can’t “Fa-la-la” with a rad-u-la, my dear.
And that star so bright—
It made you flip your lid?
It’s the photophoric action of the firefly squid
It’s the way we know that squidmastime is here!

Estro-Blaster, Help Me!

Another comment on Pharyngula… Seems the Estro-Blaster people are preying on men’s insecurities to sell snake-oil. (Freudian imagery intended.)

There is something in the waters
That can turn my sons to daughters?
I’m so happy that this flyer came to tell me of this fact!
Every smoothie that we’ve blendered
Means they’re halfway to transgendered!
Every second now is precious—it is time for us to act!

Time to panic, and I’m thinking
That the water I’ve been drinking
Is a chemical castration, and a feminazi plan!
I drink water like Niagara
As I wash down my Viagra;
Now I see why it’s not working, and I’m still a little man.

Time to buy some Estro-Blaster
And to hope the mail comes faster—
‘Cos I’m worried that perhaps it may already be too late:
I’m not thinking with my penis,
I’ve abandoned Mars for Venus—
And I find I’m moody, ‘bout a week before I menstruate.

Your thoughts?

Coturnix has asked (here) for me to submit one or more of these verses to the Science Blogging Anthology. If any readers have favorites they would like to lobby for, I would appreciate any feedback at all; I do not consider myself to be a particularly good judge of my verse.

And if you have no comments on that in particular, feel free to say hi anyway! I think you need a blogger account to comment, but they are free and simple, so come on in, the water’s fine!

creationist museums

I took a walk through time and space—
Through several million years—
I found that some things never change,
Or that’s how it appears.
Stupidity’s a constant
(Hey, I call ‘em as I see ‘em);
I noted Man’s is not the sole
Creationist Museum.
Seems everywhere I looked around
In present or in past,
I found museums touting God—
And all of them half-assed.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
Or find them each defective;
Each species must be Number One
When seen from their perspective.

The early primates said:

God created Lemurs, and
The world was truly blest;
“Descent of Man” is apropos—
He’s clearly second best.
The perfect form’s arboreous,
As anyone can tell
When apes descended from the trees
Things really went to Hell.

The early tetrapods said:

Acanthostaga sits supreme
As God’s most perfect beast;
To get from them to humankind
Just go from best to least.
Look inside our holy books
And find revealed—the Flood;
God’s favorite creatures, thus, must live
In water and in mud.

The early chordates said:

God created Amphioxus,
Perfectly designed.
Mutations and deformities,
And now we have Mankind.
With notochord, pharyngeal slits,
Their form is most divine
Then vertebrates just messed it up
And now they have a spine.

The prokaryotes said:

The truly blest bacterium
God’s chosen form of life
With billions of them in the gut
Of Adam and his wife.
The heaven-blessed prokaryote
Is God’s Most Perfect Form,
And mammals are just one more way
To keep us nice and warm.

An Atheist Gives Thanks

It’s late November, time for giving thanks–
But thanks to whom? For me, this question ranks
Among the more important we can ask;
To answer, I’ve assigned myself the task.
Tradition holds we should give thanks to God.
In fact, your average person finds it odd
That anyone would even think to question
Whom to thank–but still, my bold suggestion:
Thank the ones who really did the stuff
That God gets credit for. There are enough
Deserving people we can thank, without
Inventing gods to steal their praise or pout.
“Thank God for all the bread we have to eat.”
Instead, I’ll thank the ones who grew the wheat,
And ground the flour, baked and sold the bread;
Why God, when I can thank these folks instead?
(Is God behind it all? I rather doubt;
So many other farmers suffered drought,
And watched their crops disintegrate to dust;
A God like this is not one I would trust.)
“Thank God my sister’s cancer’s in remission!”
Absolutely not. With no contrition,
Thanks go out to doctors, and to nurses,
To those who opened up their hearts and purses,
Friends who volunteered their time to cook,
Or feed her cats, or bring a favorite book
For her to read. Oh, yes, and thanks
To perfect strangers who gave blood–the banks
Would not be there without your precious gift;
By thanking God, we’re giving you short shrift.
I’m thankful to (not for) the ones who taught
Her doctors what they know. I also ought
To thank those who invented the machines–
Like X-rays, MRI’s–that gave the means
To find the lump before it was too late.
It’s people whom I thank. Not God. Not fate.
“Thank God for soldiers fighting in Iraq,
And keep them safe from enemy attack.”

Remember that they’re fighting those who kill
Because they disagree about God’s will.
If anything, this God should take the blame
For all the crimes committed in His name.
I do give thanks to soldiers–to, not for–
Their sacrifice–not God’s–the cost of war.
“I’m thankful for my friends, both near and far.”
I’m thankful to you–you know who you are–
For being there at 2 AM to talk,
For movies, beers, for joining me to walk
Along the beach to watch the rising tide
And setting sun compete–which one would hide
Our footprints first? We stayed to watch the moon
Rise over silver waves–then left, too soon.
I can’t thank God for that, when it was you
Who made it such a lovely thing to do.

I could go on, and fill a book or two
With thanks. I won’t, ‘cos this will do.
One more is all–if you have read this far
Then thanks to you, no matter who you are,
For reading. Let me leave you with a thought:
This Thanksgiving, thank the ones we ought;
Thank your friends and family–those you love,
Before you thank some made-up God above.

The Rain in Plains Stays Mainly Away from the Insane

“Dispatches from the culture wars” reports on the success of the pray-for-rain campain in Georgia.

When God said it’s a sin to take your Saviour’s Name in vain
That applied to silly selfishness like public prayers for rain.
If mortal I can see through this, then God can ascertain
The inherent self-aggrandizing political campaign.
When the pastors, priests, and politicians joined in one refrain
Asking God to drop some water on this bit of his domain
(Having checked the weather channel–they’re not totally insane–
To determine if their gamble had a decent chance at gain)
Then the Governor emoted–see his face contort and strain,
Till the casual observer might suspect he’d popped a vein
In a deep, important crevice in some structure in his brain;
And then one by one the ministers would join the daisy-chain,
With their practised voices, sonorous, impeccable sustain,
The sort of voice that speaking from a pulpit can attain,
And spoke until each had his turn, and no one did remain
Then waited for Almightly God their pleas to entertain.

Their aim was true, but God’s was not–I really should explain–
A quarter inch in Georgia, but there’s flooding up in Maine.