My Cephalopodmas Present To You

I should have done this long ago, but for the unfortunate fact that I am an idiot. Anyway, you have probably forgotten all about the two buttons over there to the right that lead to Lulu and to where you can buy my books. (Still sounds strange in the plural.) I have, as my present to you, just figured out that I can give you the downloadable version for free. So now, that is how both books are set (my apologies to those wonderful people who already paid for a download of Vol. 1. No such apologies are needed as yet for Vol. 2.), and I encourage you to click on over and grab yourself a copy of each. It will be slightly more convenient than printing out the entire blog, although the books don’t contain any of my commentary–just the verse.

If you like, then, you can just print out a copy of a particular verse to tape anonymously to someone’s door, or stuff in the church mailbox, or try to pass off as your own. If you really like, you can then buy a copy for Uncle Sid or Cousin Mildred or that weird neighbor down the street, and (at least as of this writing) it will get to you in time for squidmas. And if you feel guilty, there is the tip jar, also over there to the right–but I expect no squid pro quo; the free downloads are indeed my gift to you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to grading…

To all of my readers, from me,
There’s a present for under your tree
Just a PDF file
That might make you smile–
The important part is: it’s for free!

(let me know if it isn’t showing as free. It ought to be, but I never was good with computers, so if it could be screwed up, it likely is.)

Atheism 6.2

I found the following drifting lazily down through an eddy in the time-space continuum…

In Atheism 6.2
The features that we add for you
Revise the changes we’d begun
In 5.5 through 6.1

In 5.5 through 5.7
Metaphors of hell and heaven
Were allowed, but pearly gates
Were strictly seen as 5.8’s

You must remember 5.9,
In which we said communion wine
Was for the first time “good to go”
(We took it back in 6.0.)

But frankly, wine was lots of fun,
So just as quickly, 6.1
Restored the wine, now 6.2
Allows us cheese and crackers, too.

But wine and crackers, even cheeses
Are not blood, nor flesh of Jesus,
(Once, of course, we called it true,
But that was version 4.2.)

Accomodationism maths
Makes some folks mad as psychopaths
They rant and rave like total jerks
And say “The beta version works!”

It has no bugs; it needs no mods,
It’s simply “no belief in gods”
But whiny people soon complained,
So changes soon were entertained

The purists say it came undone
As early on as 1.1
Which left believers free to claim
That “God” was “Nature’s other name”

Before you knew it, 1.3
Included “spirituality”
From there, by pieces, fits, and starts,
The later versions hit the charts

I wonder, what could be in store
For 6.3 and 6.4.
So pick your fave, and start a schism.
One thing it’s not… is atheism.

Context? Sure… PZ writes about Atheism 3.0… He terms it “Atheist, but…”. I much prefer “Atheist and“. Not “atheist and spiritual”, that would be an example of an “atheist but”. I prefer “Atheist and versemonger”, or “atheist and dad” or “atheist and late for dinner”. Not an atheism that has to be blended with religion or spirituality or anything else, but atheism that is perfectly well defined, now what else are you?

I Am The Bishop

I am the Bishop, the moral authority,
The good of my flock is my highest priority
Unless (or until) there’s a Shepherd accused,
And a lamb from my flock is among the abused.

I am the Bishop; to me they will come,
Both Shepherd and Sheep (because people are dumb)
I’m trusted to do what is just, what is right,
To head off a scandal, and keep things from sight.

I am the Bishop; the power is mine,
The law is of earth, but the issue’s divine
It’s morally righteous to hide the report,
And to fight and appeal when they take us to court.

I am the Bishop. The transcripts disclosed
I created a smokescreen when duly deposed;
I watched for my shepherds, and helped them escape
From those cruel allegations of beatings and rape.

I am the Bishop—Archbishop, New York;
I won’t admit shame, like in Dublin or Cork,
Here, cases are fewer, convictions are less—
It’s to me, not the cops, to whom Shepherds confess!

I am the Bishop, so I can forgive—
They’ll surely be punished, but not while they live.
The civil authorities think it’s a scam
But I am the Bishop; I don’t give a damn

I am the Bishop; I’ll sink straight to Hell,
With most of my Shepherds beside me, as well,
Where Satan’s the judge; no one grants an appeal…
But I am the Bishop. I know it’s not real.

A very depressing editorial in the New York Times today speaks of Bishop Egan, the moral authority who did his job protecting his abusive priests.

In the end it was not the power of repentance or compassion that compelled the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to release more than 12,000 pages of documents relating to lawsuits alleging decades of sexual abuse of children by its priests.

It was a court order.

That immoral, secular court stepped in when the Bishop’s Christian conscience failed to motivate him.

The most moving portion compares Egan’s [lack of] response to the clear message (to some, still inadequate, but that may simply be a reflection of the enormity of the sins involved) delivered in Ireland under similar circumstances:

Absent in those pages is a sense of understanding of the true scope of the tragedy. Compare Bishop Egan’s words with those of the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who, after the release of a recent report detailing years of abuse and cover-ups in Ireland, said:

“The sexual abuse of a child is and always was a crime in civil law; it is and always was a crime in canon law; it is and always was grievously sinful. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the report is that while church leaders — bishops and religious superiors — failed, almost every parent who came to the diocese to report abuse clearly understood the awfulness of what was involved.”

Bishop Egan, with institutional pride, looks at the relatively low rate of proven abuse cases as a sort of perverse accomplishment.

“It’s marvelous,” he said, “when you think of the hundreds and hundreds of priests and how very few have even been accused, and how very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything.”

By Request…

Ok, this is not The Book, but there is no way that The Book (with actual chapters, illustrations, commentary and such) could possibly be ready in time for anyone to order it for Squidmas. I really wish it could be, but I am much too swamped with Real Life.

So this is The Digital Cuttlefish, Vol. 2, which is merely the stuff I have written (well, lots of it, anyway–I did not include literally everything) in the year since Vol. 1 came out. I put this one out (in a hurry) because of a couple of requests, so that people could give it to friends (or enemies, I suppose) for the holidays. It does have some of my very favorites in it, and I must admit it was great fun revisiting the year as I rushed to put this together. Volume 1 is still available, too, of course. If Lulu has a way of doing a package deal, I’d be glad to put one together and save you some money.

I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you waited for the deluxe edition, but there is no way it will be out before the new year, and perhaps well into that.

Oh, yeah, it might help if I gave you a link:
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Heh… boy, do I know how to write an ad…

For H. M.

My day goes by in bits and pieces,
The crossword puzzle, conversations,
Doctors asking, running tests;
They seem to know me; I don’t know how.
And who is that old man in the mirror?

My day goes by as days do, I suppose,
I watch TV, play bingo, read…
Today the crossword is very easy!
I don’t remember when I moved here—
And who is that old man in the mirror?

My day – I don’t recall yesterday—
A pleasant day, with pleasant friends,
I know my way through this house,
But I do not remember moving here,
And who is that old man in the mirror?

My day goes by in one-act plays
Old plots forgotten with the new,
I never know the actors’ names—
Each one is nice enough, it seems;
But who is that old man in the mirror?

Today, I’m feeling very tired;
I don’t know why—I’m much too young
To stiffly walk, to ache to move—
I must have worked hard yesterday.
I feel like that old man in the mirror.

As I write this, they are finishing up (just a couple more hours, perhaps!) the sectioning of the brain of H. M.. Henry Molaison, known to biology and psychology students everywhere as “H. M.”, is perhaps the single most famous patient in history. Perhaps. He was studied for over half a century, from when he underwent psychosurgery in 1953 to alleviate epileptic convulsions, until his death last year. Henry had an extreme case of anterograde amnesia–the inability to form new episodic memories. He could learn new tasks, but would not know that he had learned them (his performance surprised himself!). He taught us, or allowed us to learn, more about how remembering works than we had ever suspected before. Abilities we thought as single were exposed as many parallel abilities, and not always the neat splits our introspective accounts may have predicted. (that may not be expressed well. It is late.)

His story has moved me more than I would have expected. I have written verse from the point of view of gods, but I cannot wrap my head around what Henry’s life was like. I don’t know that I would want to.

Anyway, if you follow the link above, you will see that they are looking for money. The goal is to make H.M.’s brain available to everybody–an atlas of the most studied brain in history. This is expensive. If you have any money left over after you have donated generously to my tip jar (fortunately, I am channeling H. M., and will not remember having written that), you should consider sponsoring some brain slides. And, just for practice, try imagining that you are living Henry’s life. If you can get a handle on it, drop a note and let me know what it is like. I just can’t do it.

The Digital Pack-Rat, volume 21

It is, as it always is this time of year, approaching the ragged end of the semester. I am inundated with grading, so it is time to collect the detritus of blog comments, assemble them together, and pretend to post. If I find the time, I may come back and actually add links, but not now!

Also, I know the last “pack rat” post was #19. So was the one before it, so this #21 is the proper number.

Re: Uganda’s proposal to execute HIV-positive individuals, and impose life imprisonment sentences on gays.

It may seem cruel; it may seem strange,
These cold, barbaric tactics.
But think of all the souls thus saved
From using prophylactics!

We could be wrong; perhaps we purge
And yet the virus stays–
At least we’re doing something, right?
And what the hell, they’re gays.

Re: the Deep Rifts in atheism–

The thing about atheist creatures
Is, we’re willing to challenge our teachers;
Don’t call it a schism,
It’s mere criticism:
These things, they’re not bugs–these are features.

Re: a Godwinization of evolution…

Your misattribution claims mean evolution
As sole inspiration for Hitler;
What poor execution! Its small contribution
Could probably not have been littler!

Religion’s pollution, and claimed persecution,
Contributed more, don’t you know?
The right institution to grant absolution
And Hitler was ready to go!

Re: the eating of live cephalopods (!)

I’ll admit there are meals that have certain appeals,
And some, I should say, that excite me.
But if any here wish a live cuttlefish dish…
Bite me.

Re: creationist logic and middle fingers—

Stupidity lingers; we see it in fingers,
Which clearly could not be descended from fins!
They’re perfect, and Godly, and from this we oddly
Conclude that the myth of the goatherders wins!

And of course, the return of the son of the bride of… Wafergate.

Desecration of a cracker is uncivil disobedience
The son of god, remember, is the whole of its ingredients!
You tried to make a point, but with unsuitable expedience–
It was your right, but surely you were wrong!

The epitome of sacred, you reduced to mere profanity;
One wonders if you’ve kept the merest sliver of humanity!
You’re clearly out of touch with any form of christianity,
As on the road to hell you trot along!

Our point of view is crystal-clear; our pithy editorial
Accuses you of crimes unseen since time long immemorial,
Perhaps the worst since humankind first ceased to be arboreal
Or since the first prokaryotic cell!

And so, Professor Myers, I will say with all sincerity
In case you choose to sin like this with any regularity,
I wish you strength and perseverance, boldness and temerity–
You’ll need it, cos you’re going straight to hell!