I Blame Sigmund Freud

I always feel bad about writing something like this–I blame Freud.

See, Freud was the one to come up with Reaction Formation as a defense mechanism, wherein an unacceptable sexual or violent urge is replaced by its opposite, exaggerated. For instance, some hellfire-and-brimstone preacher leads a crusade against immorality, because he really wants to consort with prostitutes, or someone becomes a firefighter because of pyromaniac urges, or an anti-gay activist… well, you get the picture. I have no idea how Freud came up with such a nonsensical notion, because we never see such pillars of morality crumble–never see the preacher caught with the prostitute, never see the firefighter convicted of arson, never see….

PZ reports on a World Net Daily story that protests too much about a Boston dance–a prom sponsored by the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth. The reporter is utterly gobsmacked that these kids acted just like straight kids at their own proms–almost like they are human themselves!


I never thought I’d see the day
When kids could dance while being gay–
It’s Satan’s work; there’s Hell to pay!
God Bless the World Net Daily!

There is no way I’d take a chance
And show up at this High School Dance,
Cos if I got in someone’s pants
I’d have to do it gaily!

This sort of thing is too complex–
I’m so perplexed by same-sex sex;
With both concave or both convex,
Just who does what with whom?

I’ll stop my ears and shut my eyes
To girls with girls and guys with guys,
Ignore the tingle in my thighs
From being in this room!

Oh, no! Too late! For now, I find
I cannot (will not!) shut my mind
To thoughts of dancers intertwined
I want to join the throng!

I’ll grab my camera, point and click,
And write the story, really quick–
Pretend the whole thing makes me sick–
But first… let’s dance one song!

A Personal Note

I don’t do personal notes…


CuttleDaughter is now officially (as of tonight) a High School Graduate (as was CuttleSon 2 years ago now)!!! A couple of months until college, but for now she is on top of the world. Oh, and incidentally, she is also officially the most beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, and friendly daughter in the world. My best wishes to all of the runners-up.

I have two wonderful children. Erm… two wonderful offspring, no longer children.

What? A verse? Hmmm…

Where once we were not mere machines–
We credited the gods or fates–
We now observe recessive genes
For CuttleDaughter’s gorgeous traits.

Yet Another Way The World Will End

How wonderful.

It is fairly simple to deal with the morons who say the world is going to end because of same-sex marriage, or because the ten commandments are no longer posted in schools, or because Chrysler is owned by Fiat. It is less simple to deal with people who have predictions of the end of the world that are actually based on science. Professor Jacques Laskar, in the current edition of the journal Nature, presents evidence that Earth could be on a collision course with Mercury, Mars, or Venus.

They grabbed their big computer, and they plugged the data in;
They programmed the parameters, and told it to begin,
Then sat around and waited while scenarios unfurled,
And it told them of the last days of the world.

A wobble in the orbits of the planets Earth and Mars
Could take the Martian planet and propel it into ours;
Under some of the scenarios, it misses by a bit,
But in others, we collide—a lethal hit!

The odds are still against it, but it certainly could be,
Since the tiniest of chances is no solid guarantee
That the planet that we live on—here, where you and I reside—
Won’t be blown to smithereens, when worlds collide!

The professor wants to tell us there’s no reason for our fears,
Since there’s nothing gonna happen for at least a billion years
In my personal opinion, I’m agreeing with the prof—
Cos by then, we will have killed each other off.

“One Of The Coolest Animals On The Planet…”

And it started so promisingly, too.

One of the coolest animals on the planet has got to be the cuttlefish.

Aw, shucks.

So, yeah, PZ reports on Casey Luskin’s “News & Views” column that attempts to find God in cuttlefish. I know, I know, if there’s gonna be evidence of a supreme being anywhere, start with the cuttlefish. Can’t blame Luskin for trying.

Seems that a new technology is using reflection and refraction to bring color to TV screen, e-books, and the like. The same phenomenon that causes rainbows on oil slicks and soap bubbles can be controlled (and is controlled, in the iridophores of cuttlefish) to reflect specific colors. Very cool.

Seems also that Casey Luskin sees the intentional design of these screens as evidence that the same ability in cuttlefish must also have been designed. Of course, this overlooks … um, pretty much all the evidence in both the cuttlefish and the lab that is working on the TV screens, but it’s Luskin. Not very cool.

Oh, and Cuttlefish also have separate color mechanisms as well–the chromatophores do not work by this same method, nor do photophores. So, take the mound of data, and ignore every part of it except what fits your conclusion, et voila!

There is a sort of intellect—an odd and stunted kind—
Which casts about, and claims that what it’s seeing was designed;
It matters little what was seen, although that may seem odd,
For everything is evidence the world was made by God

From Plato on through Cicero, Aquinas, Berkeley, Paley,
(It seemed, among philosophers, the list was growing daily)
There was no watch that did not show its purpose had been planned—
To tell the time, and testify to God’s Designing Hand.

The use of probability to argue has been tried
To argue such unlikely outcomes must have had a guide—
The Strong Anthropic Principle finds overwhelming odds
Which lead naïve observers to conclude the work is God’s.

The arguments have come and gone, with little left to show;
Complexity is not enough to prove design, you know.
Since Darwin showed complexity could build up by selection
The theory of design has seen a drop-off in affection

But there are some, a faithful few, who will not let it drop;
They ply their ancient arguments; they’ll likely never stop;
Like silly Casey Luskin, who has got a simple wish—
All he wants is proof that God designed the cuttlefish.

Now engineers and scientists have made a sort of screen
That’s different from the sort of thing we’ve previously seen—
Controlling iridescence through the thickness of the layers,
A neat design (and what is more, it answers Casey’s prayers)!

But cuttlefish are different—even Luskin could deduce;
To take the first example—TV sets don’t reproduce!
While color was a problem that the laboratory solved,
Such was not the case with cuttlefish; that process just evolved

And their skin contains chromatophores (and photophores, for some)
Along with the iridophores—comparisons are dumb.
It’s a way to sell technology, a way to make it cool,
But an argument for God’s Design? Well, only for a fool.

Oh! Somewhere on the internet, stupidity is rare
And Casey Luskin’s “News & Views” are never spotted there.
He never will admit it; he’ll deny it with a pout;
But there is no joy in Dumville—flighty Casey has Struck Out.

Poll Results!

Come on in, slip off your skin, and rattle around in your bones! 22 (11%)
There once was a man from Nantucket. 60 (30%)
Kitties!!! 70 (35%)
Hey, nonny nonny. 44 (22%)

Votes so far: 196
Poll closed

The Kitties have won!!!11eleven!!

Ok, now the fun part. Statistics. I mean, sure, Kitties won, and if this were a simple election, we would be welcoming our new Kitty overlords with catnip and balls of yarn. But what would be the fun in that?

These were clearly nonsense answers—one might be tempted to treat them as random choices. But, like “I’m thinking of an odd number between one and one hundred”, all choices are not equal. Though this be madness, yet there’s method in’t.

First, let’s see if this is a statistically significant difference. Yes, the kitties won, but somebody had to—is it possible that this distribution of votes was simply random? (“Yes”, says the null hypothesis; “No”, retorts the alternative hypothesis.)   To test this, we need a limerick, courtesy of the good people at the OEDILF:

chi-square test, chi-squared test by Cuttlefish

Chi-square testing compares Fexpected
To the real Fobtained you’ve collected:
Square, divide by Fe,
Sum these up, and you’ll see
If Hypothesisnull is rejected.

The chi-square test, a robust statistical test appropriate for nominal (categorical) data, calculates a ratio of observed frequencies Fo to expected frequencies Fe. The assumption of the null hypothesis is that the categories are unrelated; a significant value for chi-square allows one to conclude that there is a relationship between the categorical variables.

The formula is: χ2 = ( (Fe – Fo)2 / Fe )

Close, but in this case we are using a Chi-square goodness of fit test rather than a test of independence. No biggie; the formula is the same. All we need to know is that, with 196 responses, the expected frequency under the null hypothesis is 49 votes per answer.

Chi-square obtained, in this case, is 26.86. At three degrees of freedom, the probability of these results occurring by chance alone is less than one in ten thousand. Ok, for all practical purposes we can conclude it’s not random.

But why? Could be the order the answers were presented in; I could repeat the poll with randomized presentation. Could be collusion by participants. Could just be that people like kitties. Could be that kitties across the world were holding voters’ loved ones hostage. Sadly, no independent variable was manipulated, so we are at a loss to explain our results other than descriptively.

No big deal, of course; it’s just a nonsense poll. But for fans of experimental methodology and measurement, it is just one more example of the methodological concerns involved in poll-making.

Bottom line—the appearance of randomness is not randomness. Remember that when you look at psychic predictions, or remote viewing, or polls on cuttlefish blogs.

A Demonstrated Lack Of Understanding

It is great fun to scan through the comments sections of newspapers, networks, blogs, and others who are reporting on New Hampshire’s latest laws. Although there are (depending on location) sufficient thoughtful and intelligent comments to keep me from losing hope, there certainly are a handful of people whose understanding of the issues is… lacking. One writer is concerned for the poor bisexuals, who won’t know who to marry now; another is demanding the right to marry himself (I suspect the relationship has been consummated already); another knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the passage of this law will lead to cross-species marriage, and he is concerned for his dog. There are also the usual calls for torches and pitchforks, for petition drives and a vote-the-bastards-out special election.

This verse is dedicated to these people, in thanks for the many laughs they have given me.

O Noes! O Noes! They changed the laws!
Now, if you fancy fins or paws
Go on—get married! Just because
The Gays can do it too!

And anything is fair game now,
From wooly sheep to spotted sow
To octopus (I don’t see how,
But hey, it’s up to you)!

While liberals shout and cheer and praise,
I’m waiting for the second phase—
The Queer Agenda, which The Gays
Will force upon the state;

Wherein the law will now endorse
A person’s right to wed a horse—
If you’re opposed, the cops will force
The two of you to mate!

The animals will run the place—
The horses will have won the race—
These are the facts that we must face
And go on with our lives

We had our chance to take a stand
But nothing worked the way we planned;
We’re stuck with pigs for husbands, and
With bitches as our wives.

Update!!! Reader Oscar Gecko points to this site–MarryYourPet.com It is really worth a visit!

New Hampshire Sixth State With Same-Sex Marriage!

Applause! Applause! It’s in the laws!
The matter’s been decided!
Hooray! Hooray! As of today,
No more a state divided!

It should have happened years ago,
But, better late than never—
There are some couples here I know,
For whom it’s seemed forever!

My neighbors can get married now
If they should so decide—
Exchanging rings and solemn vows,
A lovely Bride and Bride.

Union Leader story

I’ll add links as they become available–looks like I am ahead of the news organizations this time.

Governor Lynch’s signing statement.
Union Leader’s updated story
Text of House Bill 73
Text of House Bill 436
Text of House Bill 310

NY Times article

Bite Me!

I like food. I don’t know if you know that about me, but I really like food. I like growing it, cooking it, serving it… and especially eating it. There are few foods I do not like, and fewer cuisines I don’t like. I know a Vegan cook who is so incredible, I could eat just her food and be happy… but, of course, I could also eat other things and be happy. As a cuttlefish, I have an ambivalent attitude toward seafood–I love to eat it, but don’t particularly care to be on the menu.

Anyway, PZ posted about PETA’s latest, and it inspired a little verse which I liked so much I thought I’d post it here, too.

I would never eat fishes, except they’re delishes,
And lead my poor stomach to growl.
And one of my vices, with handfuls of spices,
I think that it’s fair to eat fowl.
I find an appeal in a meal of sweet veal;
I’ll eat all that my funds will allow.
And I will not lose sleep while I keep eating sheep,
Or a goat, or a bear, or a sow.
I’ve eaten grilled squid, and I’m glad that I did,
I think whale meat might give me a thrill–
If you don’t like my menu, be careful, cos when you
Say “bite me!”, the odds are… I will.

Of Penguins, And People, And The End Of The World As We Know It

So NPR does a piece on penguins, and it gets me thinking about the end of the human race. Gotta wonder how that happens.

Yeah, anyway… it was a story about a new way of tracking penguins. Very cool–the scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found out that colonies of penguins, on an ice floe for months on end, leave a signature… in poop. That can be seen from space. Yup, penguin guano can be seen from satellites.

Oddly enough, the whole concept put me in mind of this picture:

Different sort of poop, but you can definitely tell where we live from outer space. (I almost included a satellite picture of water pollution, but googling “satellite view of pollution” depressed me too much.)

One of the reasons the BAS was interested in looking for penguins is… they may be disappearing. Climate change may (or may not–thus the need for data) spell the end for huge percentages of penguins. Which news did not exactly lift my spirits.

I got to thinking (part of this is likely due to “Earth: 2100” on TV) about the really long view. No, longer than that. Longer. Double that. Still not even close. In this long view, we are not looking at penguin shit, but at the penguin’s great-great-great-great-[etc]-grand-daddy’s fossilized coprolites. My mom was a science teacher, and her rock collection had a number of coprolites in it–I think I disappointed one of my teachers once, by not being grossed out by the coprolite he passed around class. Anyway, I was thinking that, millions of years from now, after we have gone extinct (ok, stop–take a breath, and realize what it takes for a father to write that), whatever species it is–if there is one–that finds curiosity selected for, may stumble upon our own coprolites. Of course, in this particular society, we process our wastes to such extent that finding literal coprolites from humans might be difficult. But metaphorical coprolites–like, say, Pittsburgh–will be their Dinosaur National Monument Equivalent. Future civilization, should future species take the civilization path (my money is on the cephalopods), will find our trash, our toilets, our cities, our landfills… our shit. And they will examine our shit to try to determine what happened to us.


Some scientists have figured out
A means of penguin-snooping;
A camera, beamed from outer space
Can see where they’ve been pooping.

The penguins stay on floes of ice,
For months in just one place
Which leaves a stain of shit so big
It’s visible from space.

The guano—smelly, reddish-brown,
Corrosive, salty goo—
Leaves such a stain, ten colonies
Were found when they were through.

Of course, the waste we humans leave
Is seen from space as well—
The lights by night, the smoke by day
(At least, in space, no smell)

I wonder, once we’ve run our course
And disappeared for good
Will, someday, trails of human waste
Be seen and understood?

Will future beings study us—
As findings will permit—
And learn how humans went extinct
By studying our shit?