Help. Now. If you can.

Confession: I love David Letterman.

His first show after 9/11 was the first time I could let myself cry for that particular tragedy, even though I knew people… never mind, it’s complicated. But I, like so many people, were just torn apart, and were trying to be strong, or angry, or sad, or compassionate… it was too much.

I know that there are many who have been more deeply touched by tragedy than I ever have. I am extraordinarily fortunate, by any measure whatsoever. Funny… that doesn’t mean I don’t get my heart ripped out. When Dave gave his post-9/11 speech, I sobbed. Alone in the room, wanting to mourn, needing to be strong, when Dave asked “Does that make any God-damned sense?”, my chest heaved with the sorrow I had refrained from expressing.

Since then, I have donated blood for him. Yeah, I know, it is lame, but I know he probably can’t donate any more, since his surgery, and I donate whenever I can, so whenever I have the chance to designate a donor (not always, but sometimes), I donate blood for Dave Letterman.

This is the first I have admitted it (not even to him). But it’s true.

And now.

Haiti, by conservative estimates, has at least 100,000 dead. 9/11 was peanuts compared to this. Once again, religion comes a distant second to nature.

And there’s Dave, again. “Welcome Late Show viewers – we need your help“. Understatement, I should think. The link is to the World Food Programme. If you have not yet donated, then get off your ass and donate. If you already have donated… thank you… and consider another donation. Most of us (I make this assumption based on internet access) could donate pretty much all of this month’s income and be better off than any of the folks in the devastated regions of Haiti.


If I, or anyone, asked for something like that, we’d (deservedly) get nothing. So… I am here to remind you that even ten, even five, even one dollar, is that much more than they would have otherwise. The average person in Haiti earns less than a dollar a day (depending on which source you believe, it can be less or considerably more), so even a small donation will go a long way.

So. If you are looking for some way to donate… there’s one link. But, frankly, at this point, you’ve probably seen half a dozen reputable places–scienceblogs has had several posts with links, there is always the Red Cross, or you could even try Google.

Just in case I am the straw that yadda yadda yadda… donate now. People are dying. Donate now.

And… thanks, Dave.

No verse today. You want verse? Go donate, then complain.

Foxy Sarah Finds The Perfect Job

Sarah Palin’s joining Fox—
Vox populi gets one more vox
So bar the doors and check the locks
Cos Sarah’s back in town!

She gets to be the tea-bag muse
And share with us her folksy views,
The fair and balanced right-wing news
When Sarah’s throwin’ down!

We’ll get to hear the old refrains,
And newer bites, as Sarah strains
To show us that she’s got some brains-
She’s worthy of our notice.

And just as fun, we’ll see some try
To back her up, to justify
Her ever-growing long good-bye,
And flog her run for POTUS!

She’ll join the ranks of Bill and Glenn
The strutting cocks will gain a hen
They’ll rant and rave, then say “Amen”
To punctuate their chatter.

She went rogue at the voting booth
And lost, but now the foxy sleuth
Has found a job that needs no truth-
On Fox, it doesn’t matter.

NPR reports that Sarah Palin is joining Fox “News”. I wish her a looooooooong career there.
NY Times also–the comments at their “Media Decoder” blog are delicious.

Blessed Are The Republicans, For They Shall Say Things Like This

“Omniscient God, we pray to you,
In case you hadn’t heard;
To smite the folks who want to do
What they think is your word.
To heal the sick, to help the poor,
And other hateful stuff,
When faith-based healing, I am sure,
Is medicine enough.
Oh, Lord, we need your guiding hand,
So we beseech, in prayer:
Please, Jesus, look throughout our land,
And smite the ones who care.”

The context, and a hilarious/horrifying video, is over at Pharyngula.

We Have To Have A Talk About Vaccines

We need to have a talk about vaccines–
The evidence is right before your eyes,
And everybody knows just what that means

When journalists can peek behind the scenes
And see the anti-vaxxers through disguise
We need to have a talk about vaccines.

Their science isn’t worth a hill of beans
And so the anti-vaxxers turn to lies
And everybody knows. Just what that means

May not be clear. The argument careens
From point to point, and if you cross your eyes,
We need to have a talk about vaccines.

But if you look more clearly, through the screens
And clouds, their falsehood dies,
And everybody knows just what that means.

They use, instead, publicity machines
Which amplify their pseudoscience cries:
“We need to have a talk about vaccines!”
And everybody knows just what that means.


Some context. Two of my favorite bloggers, Orac and PalMD, have each written about Barbara Loe Fisher and her early attempt at winning the “Hypocrite of the year” contest in the first month. For me, this is a bit of an opportunity–most importantly, it gives me a chance to link to them, and to do what tiny bit this little-fish blog can do to add to the side of right… but also, I think this is my first villanelle! I have wanted to do a villanelle for some time now, and this finally does it. I must offer my thanks to Barbara Loe Fisher, for epic hypocrisy; without you, I could not have written this.

European Advice, Please?

This post is aimed especially at my European readers, or any readers who have traveled in Europe. As I have mentioned before, Cuttleson is going to be in Europe (Denmark) soon, for roughly 4 months. At one point (I need to ask him the specific dates, but it is in Spring) he has 2 weeks free to travel. For some of that, he may be traveling with friends, but perhaps not all of it.

Anyway, he is looking for ideas. At this point, he claims to be less interested in, say, ruins than in natural beauty. The sites he mentioned to me included things like Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes, and Meteora in Greece. He thought the idea of climbing Mt. Olympus was wonderful. He is clearly not opposed to making a long trip from Denmark. His current ideal would be to find a place to stay as a base for at least a few days, while he explores several different nearby areas.

So… I am asking for your advice, your ideas, your experience. Do you have a favorite place that is unlikely (or is very likely) to be found in a tour guide? Any places he really ought to avoid, if (as he claims) he’d rather see the French countryside than the Eiffel Tower?

I know I have quite a few European readers, from across the whole of the continent. Please don’t be shy; post in the comments, or (if you really want your special place to remain a secret) that’s my email address over there to the right.

From the North, with the cold and the ice,
To the South, where the beaches are nice,
To the East, to the West,
If your country’s the best
Then it’s you whom I ask for advice!

Makin’ Khalwat

News item: 52 couples detained under Sharia Law, charged with the offense of “close proximity”.

She’s not a bride
He’s not a groom
But they decided
To share a room
The law’s been tested
Now they’re arrested
For makin’ Khalwat

It’s New Year’s Eve
At the hotel
They figured “hey,
We might as well”
I’d like to see ya,
But it’s Shariah—
We’re makin Khalwat

Picture a Malay melee
Down to the last detail
Cops in ambush to waylay
Couples now facing jail

All through Selangor
They’re facing time
You wanna bang her?
Well, it’s a crime
But don’t forget folks
That’s what you get, folks,
For makin’ Khalwat

They’ll do two years
And pay a fine
And then, my dears,
The sun will shine
Hope it was nice, cos
They paid the price, cos
Of makin’ Khalwat

Evidence Of Religion In Octopuses

Thousands of dead octopuses wash up on Portugal beach” (BBC News)

It’s a tragic little story, more than just a little odd:
My suspicion is, an octopus had just invented “god”;
When he told the other fishes, most dismissed him as a fool,
They had never heard such nonsense in their years in fishy school.
His relatives, embarrassed by his ineffective search,
Through a misplaced sense of sympathy, signed up and joined his church.

As we skip ahead a little, past the growing of his flock,
Past the bible-thumping rhetoric, the gospel-driven schlock,
To the cult of personality, their leader is their friend,
And they’d follow where he takes them, true believers to the end!
If they only have sufficient faith, the stars are in their reach—
Now they wash up by the thousands, on a five-mile stretch of beach.

From the BBC:

Thousands of dead octopuses have washed up on a beach in northern Portugal, in what is being called an environmental disaster.

They cover a 5-mile stretch of Vila Nova de Gaia beach – no reason has yet been found for their appearance.

The authorities have warned the public not to eat them.

Update: ok, so it’s not an update on the actual story, like I had hoped. I was looking to see if there was more information anywhere, but without luck. But over on Current, a reader’s comment suggests that my version may well be the truth:

The money quote: Whatever the reason, its what god wanted. Maybe they were just stupid, like all the whales getting washed up.

God Delusion Video (Markella)

I had never heard of this (former opera, now popular) singer, but Podblack told me about her just this morning (er, evening for her). Knowing I have a soft spot for A) rational thought, B) music, and C) Greek women, I can’t imagine what Podblack was thinking. Markella’s site has information about her, but only a brief clip of her song “God Delusion”… but a quick search found this powerful video:

Not my type of music, frankly, but certainly my type of message. Hmmm… ya think she’s do an album of Cuttlefish covers?

If rational thinking you seek
Take a listen to this lovely Greek
If you find, as I do,
That her message is true
Pass it on! Let it grow! Hear her speak!

Danish Cartoonist: 1–Muhammad: 0

It must, at times, be really hard
To be cartoonist Westergaard*.
To be a controversial Dane,
Targeted by religious insane.
Trying to live their normal life,
A normal man and normal wife,
But with a price put on his head—
A million bucks to see him dead.

His drawing was a mortal sin
(To those who need a thicker skin):
The Prophet (praise be unto him)
Portrayed in features rather grim,
With bomb in turban, fuse alight,
Offensive to a Muslim’s sight!
Since such an insult could not stand,
“The man must die.” the cold command.

Islam’s Qur’an, the central text,
Has poor cartoonists quite perplexed—
It calls for peace, or that’s the claim,
While breeding martyrs in its name.
But should one choose to illustrate
This problem, well, we know the fate:
The peaceful clerics draw a breath
And send the artist to his death.

Kurt Westergaard is still alive
His freedom, also, will survive—
He will not bow to terrorists
Although his name is on their lists;
He chooses still, by all accords,
To set his pen against their swords
To freely live, as best he can—
So, fuck Muhammad—Kurt’s the man!

*I have been corrected; my pronunciation of Westergaard is incorrect (thanks for nothing, ITN News!) My apologies!

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Specifically, a religiously-motivated terrorist tried to murder a cartoonist. God’s very own prophet is apparently so thin-skinned, a cartoon is offense enough to try to kill a 74 year old cartoonist.

I am paying closer attention to Denmark these days; Cuttleson will be heading there for a semester. I am so envious. I suppose, though, I will have to caution him against doodling images of Muhammad.

From the article:

Danish police have shot and wounded a man at the home of Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked an international row.
Mr Westergaard was at home in Aarhus when a man broke in and threatened him. He pressed a panic button and police entered the house and shot the man.
Danish officials said the intruder was a 28-year-old Somali linked to the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia.