Two Books

There was a man who had a book
Of Things Which He Believed;
He followed it religiously—
He would not be deceived.

The story in its pages was
The Truth that he adored—
The world outside its ancient script,
He faithfully ignored.

When someone found a falsehood
Or a small mistake inside it
(Or even some tremendous flaw)
He eagerly denied it.

The Truth was there inside his book
And never found outside
If something contradicted it
Why then, that something lied

And when he met another man
Who had another book,
He fell not to temptation—why,
He didn’t even look.

And, surely, there are other men
With other books in hand
Who walk, with views obstructed,
Here and there across the land


There was a man who had a book
(I find this quite exciting)
Who looked upon a tangled bank
And then… he started writing.

He wrote about the things he saw
And what he saw them do
And when he found mistakes he’d made
He wrote about them, too

He shared his book with other men
And women that he met—
They found the catch is bigger, when
You cast a wider net.

They shared their observations
So that everyone could read;
They worked as a community,
The better to succeed.

They found they saw much further,
And discovered so much more
When they stood upon the shoulders
Of the ones who’d gone before

It’s a book that keeps evolving,
Always growing, as we learn.
Many people help to write it:
Would you like to take a turn?

I Will Survive!

My original beef with Libertarians is at a very basic level–I disagree with a great many of their philosophical foundations. Now this–Libertarians are Darwinian?

Well, selection might have maimed me
And the old Grim Reaper claimed me
Many years ago, but medicine kept both of them at bay.
Penicillin gave protection,
When without its help, selection
Would have taken me in childhood, and there’d be no me today.
My political opinion?
If your party is Darwinian
You’re a right cold-hearted bastard who assumes your kind survives.
Evolution? Hell, I love it,
But I’m glad to rise above it
And to help both friend and stranger to live better, longer lives

From PZ again

Now That’s A Crime!

I knew a man who broke the rules—
As many others did—
He didn’t troll through Sunday schools
And try to rape a kid;
He didn’t gag the doctors,
Hard at work promoting health;
He didn’t tithe the destitute
To redistribute wealth;
He didn’t push for ignorance
Of reproductive choice,
Or silence the dissenting gays
Who tried to raise their voice.
Oh, no—this man was worse than that,
The horrid, horrid beast!
He pushed for ordination
Of a woman as a priest!

Via PZ, of course.

I Put A Spell On You!

P-Zed reports on the Indianapolis public school system’s decision to block certain websites from their school’s computers. Nothing major there. But it appears (maybe it’s just a grammar problem–wait, in the schools? can’t be!), but it looks like one of the things they are worried about is that students would then have access to the spells and incantations used by atheists.

I couldn’t find my copy of “atheist spells for dummies”, and I don’t trust my memory any more, but I don’t seem to recall us atheist types actually having any spells or incantations in the first place.

So I wrote one.

I invoke the godless fires
In the name of P. Z. Myers
And if Satan were not fiction, I’d be using his name, too!
Poison potions in my kitchens
Are the legacy of Hitchens,
And of Dennett, Dawkins, Harris… (if you’re reading this, then you!)
It’s a special incantation
For the heathens in our nation
Surely Darwin grants approval from his sulphur throne in hell–
If I knew the phrase in Latin
I’d recite it, smooth as satin,
But since atheists don’t do that shit, perhaps it’s just as well.

Jesus On My Sheet

The cuttlesignal went off the other day–I’ve misplaced the link, but it was another case of pareidolia; a business was in tough times and needed a sign that everything was going to be ok, and then *drumroll, angelic trumpets* the image of Jesus appeared in a flag, or a towel, or an awning, I forget which. It hit the news when a local priest agreed to go check it out–and of course, business at that [water park, I think] has been booming. It helps that there has been a heat wave, after two consecutive summers of record rainfall during the busy season. But I guess this was just J’s way of making sure we all knew who was responsible for the good weather.

And I started thinking–are there ever any of these cases where someone sees Christ in their shower curtain and thinks “eww, mold–I’d better clean” instead of “call the priest and FOX news!”? I mean, there have got to be times when Jesus is just not the guy you want hanging around… (for my non-USA readers, “Hints from Heloise” is a newspaper advice column with household cleaning and cooking tips.)

Dear Heloise, I’m writing cos I need some good advice,
And I knew that this was trouble, by the time I’d washed it twice
It’s a rather dicey problem, so I hope you’ll be discreet:
See, I’ve got the face of Jesus on my sheet.

It all started when I noticed, just a week ago, a stain;
It was still there after washing, but I’m not one to complain
If it’s clean enough for sleeping on, there’s nothing more to do
But my girlfriend had a different point of view

We were heading for the bedroom for a bit of bad behavior
When my girlfriend was distracted by the visage of Her Savior
And I knew, as of that moment, I was wholly out of luck,
Cos my girlfriend won’t let Jesus watch us fuck.

Just a bit of dirty laundry
But it’s got me in a quandary
So I’m asking you to help me get it clean
Cos I’d love to do some sinnin’
But with Jesus on my linen
I’ve a snowball’s chance in hell to get obscene

I’ve tried OxyClean and Method; I’ve tried Gain, and All, and Tide;
I could sit here twenty minutes, listing all the things I’ve tried
I’ve tried bleaching and ammonia, but I’ve only met defeat;
There is still the face of Jesus on my sheet!

I could make a bit of money if I called the local priest,
And the local news affiliates—or email FOX, at least,
All the money-making options leave me dizzy in the head
When I only want to get my girl in bed

If I tell her it’s spaghetti sauce, or motor oil, or semen,
She would hit me with her rosary and shun me as a demon
So I’m asking you, Dear Heloise, cos you’re my only hope,
Have you got a special Christ-removing soap?

So the problem, as I tol’ ya
Is annoying pareidolia
She sees Jesus Christ, where Jesus really ain’t
Though my Mary ain’t a virgin
She’ll need more than simple urgin’
Cos with Christ around, she’s acting like a saint

I could soak and boil and scrub it, for forever and a day
Or just give it to my girlfriend, and then send them both away
Cos the problem’s not the image, when you get right down to facts,
No, the problem is in how the world reacts.

There was Christ in a potato; there was Satan in a cloud;
There were things in Rorschach inkblots that we dared not speak aloud
It’s a feature of perception, not a puzzle to perplex
So go on, let Jesus watch you having sex!

Free Verse

I’d shill for a shilling
But no one is willing
To pay for the things that I write.
I’d rant and I’d holler
For minimum dollar
But no one is offering, quite.
A couple of euros
To stuff in my bureau’s
Sufficient for verses like these;
Though some call it whoring,
I’m begging–imploring–
Come, sully my principles, please!
If someone would shell out,
I’d promise to sell out–
My standards, I’ll keep in my purse–
For now, though, I’m sighing
Cos no one is buying…
And all I can write is Free Verse.

Originally posted at ERV.

Ok, the truth is, I once got an offer of some money to put an advert anywhere on the right side of the page. I don’t think I ever replied, because frankly I did not believe it could possibly be a serious offer!

De Media

The internet’s a funny place
For learning or for study–
Compared to books, a different pace,
And apt to be more muddy;
An ADHD metaphor,
Abstraction in mosaic;
A banquet for an omnivore
That’s more than most can take;
It’s drinking from the firehose;
It’s rumors, lies, and flames,
Where no one seems to care for clothes
And people make up names.
Where idiots who’ve learned to type
Can act as Trusted Source,
Spew propaganda, spin, and hype
And change a nation’s course!

But let’s not go all addle-brained
In praise of books in print;
Their reputation’s not un-stained
(Not even if we squint)
The printed book of days gone by,
That stalwart of the ages–
It seems to me, a lie’s a lie,
In pixels or in pages.
If better days are sorely missed;
Of elevated worth;
The New York Times Best-Seller List
Will bring you down to earth.
The books that people buy, I’ll bet,
Are rarely what they need–
And books, as well as internet
Can mangle and mislead.

When reading leads to tedium,
Both book and web are one:
It’s writing that’s the medium–
Not rare, and not well done.

Context: David Brooks in NYTimes
Cuttlecap tip to Adam Bly’s new blog.

Octopus Picks Spain; Cuttlefish Picks Germany

With all those arms (or are they legs?)
The octopus named Paul now pegs
The Spanish team to win the day
Or so the German papers say.

With all those legs (or are they arms?)
Paul’s pick makes Germans sound alarms—
The credulous are worried sick
Since Paul has made his octo-pick

But me? I’ve seen the Germans play;
I’ll go out on a limb today
(And since I’ve two more limbs than Paul,
My pick is better, all in all)

I’ll choose the Germans over Spain;
The octopus has picked in vain!
His streak will end, once I have won!
(And yes, I know… it’s just for fun.)

Of course, no one really believes the superstitious claptrap that an octopus can see the future. Besides, why just *see* the future, when you can influence it?

Germany coach Joachim Loew says he will wear his blue sweater during the match because it has brought him good luck. “I am not superstitious, but the coaching staff want me to wear it because we always score four goals when I wear it,” he said. “They won’t let me wash it and I do think I will wear it again.”


Update: Ok, I was wrong and the octopus was right. My only excuse (cos, the thing is, I was wrong) is that when I made my pick, I had forgotten that Muller had picked up a second yellow and was out for today’s game. Good luck to Spain, but my hearts are with The Netherlands!

Stoning Sakineh

In Iran, Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani has been sentenced to death, by stoning, for adultery. There have been 126 executions in Iran thus far this year (as of June 6). There have been 30 in the US, as of last week.

Pick a stone, and feel its heft;
We want to make this last.
Convicted of adultery,
She should not die too fast.
The whore confessed to all her sins
Beneath the lash’s sting—
By number 99, of course
She’d say most any thing—
Now we, as Allah’s instruments
Must rob her of her breath;
The law’s the law, and clearly calls
For stoning her to death

Her acts were unforgivable;
We’re righteous as we kill–
Her act was human selfishness
While ours is Allah’s will

From CNN:

A veteran Iranian human rights activist has warned that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities.
Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.

Plastic Surgery?

The perky breasts of mannequins
Inflame the poor Irannequins;
Because their lust could not be sated
They had the boobies amputated!
Now, lest you think their actions drastic–
Plastic surgery on plastic–
The clerics claim they had good cause
To hack away at tits with saws;
There is, I think perhaps, an answer–
A cause as cruel, as dire as cancer:

Religion is the real disease
That led to these mastectomies.

Image source. Cuttlecap tip to PZ.