Priorities, Priorities

After the last elections, it may be time to get accustomed to a new old morality, a mythological good old days to return to, when god was in the schools, the gummint was small and kept out of the way except for what we did in our bedrooms, minorities and women knew their place, and all was right with the world.

It’s all quite simple, really: blame the victims. In all things. That way they have earned their miseries, and we (part of the trick is convincing each outgroup to band together as “we” in opposition to other outgroups) can feel justified in denying basic human rights to our fellow human beings. The narrative must always go “when you blame society, you are letting criminals off the hook!” Even when we could have prevented the crime by having a job, an education, a future for the eventual criminal. Preventing a crime does not give the satisfaction that punishing a criminal does. Preventing a crime reminds us that it is in our power to influence one another, and that is one frightening step away from… being responsible for one another. Can’t have that. When we blame a criminal, we are quite intentionally letting the rest of us off the hook.

Dammit, I got off narrative. Like I was saying, the clock has been turned back. It’s time to embrace the new old world view. So, for our third installment of Cuttlefish Pledge Week, a story and a modest proposal.

Jennifer, Jennifer, got herself pregnant,
The poor, irresponsible slut.
See, boys will be boys, so it’s up to the girls
To be moral, and keep their legs shut.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, couldn’t be bothered;
She led her young Billy astray.
They met, after classes, at Jennifer’s house,
And now there’s a kid on the way.

Jennifer, Jennifer, wants an abortion—
She says she’s too young for a baby—
But the law of the land says abortion is murder;
The answer is no, and not maybe.
See, murder is murder; we cannot condone
The destruction of innocent life.
And Billy, of course, is an innocent, too,
And he’s much, much too young for a wife.

So Jennifer, Jennifer, finds herself caught
In the view of a watchful Big Brother,
And Country and Church have a task on their hands—
How to keep the babe safe from its mother.
If murder is murder, for fetus or child,
Then surely assault is assault;
A fetus is damaged by drinking or smoking,
And all of it, Jennifer’s fault.

If Jennifer, Jennifer, falls down the stairs
Then the baby inside could be harmed;
And since that poor child is a ward of the state
It is right we should all be alarmed!
So Jennifer, Jennifer, needs to be safe
For the sake of the babe in her womb;
To keep the poor innocent safe from all harm,
Let’s keep Jennifer locked in her room.

But Jennifer, Jennifer, isn’t the first
Nor the last to be pregnant, you see.
The task that’s before us—protecting our children—
Is crucial, I think you’ll agree.
With the passing to law of my modest proposal,
I honestly think we’ll prevail.
It’s simple: Each woman who finds herself pregnant
Must spend the next nine months in jail.

Jennifer, Jennifer, shielded from harm
In a cell with a toilet and cot
With a closed-circuit camera, an unblinking eye,
For the safety of Jennifer’s tot.
When at last you deliver your new baby boy
We’ll whisk you right out through the door;
We care about kids while they’re inside your womb—
Once they’re out, we don’t care any more.

And Jennifer, Jennifer, can’t find her Billy—
Besides, he’s too young for a wife—
She weighs her alternatives, looks down each road…
And reluctantly takes her own life.

And the church says a prayer for the baby unborn
And a heartfelt and tearful farewell.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, so says the church,
Will be heading directly to hell.

Maybe if we cut funding for prenatal care, we can save enough money to pay for those jail cells and closed-circuit cameras…

Gary Aldridge: The Back Story

Y’know, Twitter is an odd thing. All these people I’ve never met, together at a virtual cocktail party where they can snoop on other conversations, pontificate on weighty or trivial topics, and take a drink from the firehose of public opinion on any topic they care to. I’m not certain how I feel about it. But anyway, one of my recent Twitter followers is author of a book and host of a website, both of which tout the Bible as the cure for pornography addiction. I’m thinking perhaps this person didn’t take a really good look at my blog before deciding to follow my tweets. Either that, or he’s a porn viewer so deep in the closet that he knows half of Narnia personally.

So, as a public service for him, one of the first verses ever on this blog–in fact, posted on Pharyngula before this blog even existed (which, of course, means that a total of like 6 people saw it here, after thousands saw it there). As the second post of Cuttlefish Pledge Break, I give you the Eulogy of Gary Aldridge (based on true events, of course).

We gather here to eulogize
The Pastor and the Man
Old Gary Aldridge, often wise,
Though not his latest plan.

A member of the Christian nation,
Friend of Jerry Falwell,
His last attempt at masturbation
Didn’t go at all well.

For fifteen years, he’d preached the word
A Southern Baptist minister
His death–now, is it just absurd
Or something rather sinister?

How does a person come to wear
Not one wetsuit, but two?
(Although, I know, I should not care
I’m curious–aren’t you?)

I tend to think that, years ago,
He spied a rubber glove,
And wondered “Should I–well, you know–
When God and I make love?”

He tried it on, and found a tube,
Half hidden on his shelf,
Of KY–smiled, and murmered “Lube
Thy neighbor as thy self.”

And minutes later, hard at work,
He felt a little odd
Was this a sin, or just a quirk?
He talked it out with God.

“Is what I’m doing here a sin?
Or is my pleasure Thine?
Is this as bad as skin on skin?
Lord, please, give me a sign!”

So God produced a pamphlet: “Your
Vacation in Aruba!”
And pointed out–right there, page four–
The wetsuits used for SCUBA

See, God’s not really how you think
A deity might be
He’s got a wicked bondage kink
(Just ask His son, J. C.)

So Gary died, not steeped in sin
But following God’s plan;
So straight to Heaven–come on in!
And bring the wetsuits, man!

A story, sure, but it may yet
Explain what happened then.
The moral is, please don’t forget:
Your safeword is “Amen”.

SIWOTI (the poem)

It’s day one of Cuttlefish Pledge Week, so we dig into the vaults (or at least to before I was on Facebook or Twitter) for some of my favorites. What with … well, everything, from post-election bickering, to Halloween costume nonsense, to “vaccination awareness week”, to increasingly annoying opinion pieces I won’t bother to link to, it is clearly time to revisit this one. Except, really, actually, in truth… I wasn’t wrong.

Someone Is Wrong
…On The Internet,
And I won’t get to sleep for a while,
Cos I’ll stay up and fight if it takes me all night
When I know I am right and my coffee is strong
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
And the cases they cite are all lame;
I don’t mean to be picky, but hell, it’s not tricky,
Just google or wiki, you’ll see before long
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
And I’m not going to idly sit by!
What he says is a crock! So I’ll teach, tease, or mock
Till my internal clock thinks I live in Hong Kong
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
On a topic of interest to me,
And the rancor’s increased; I’m becoming a beast
And that glow in the East is becoming quite strong
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
Which I’ve stayed up the whole night to say
But his head is cement, and I’ve made not a dent
And one hundred percent of the gathering throng
Says that Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
But it looks like they’re siding with him.
They are here not to cheer for the points I’ve made clear
On this fight I’ve used sheer force of will to prolong
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet
It’s beginning to look like it’s me.
I can hardly admit that my logic is shit
But it doesn’t quite fit, ‘less I twist it a bit,
So defeated I sit, at the end of my wit…
Since time will permit, I will land one more hit:
Declare victory, quit, let that be my swan song,
Because Someone Is Wrong!
…On The Internet

image source XKCD, as if I had to tell you

So, What’s Up?

So, what’s up?

I’m taking a bit of a break. Lots to do, and I’m spending too much time looking for stuff to write about. I need to force myself to stay away for a while, until the pile of stuff gets finished.

What about the blog?

I’ll put up some “best of” posts. It’ll be like PBS re-running that Celtic Dancing special, or the Yanni concert, or a Red Green marathon, during their pledge break. That’s it—this is the Cuttlefish Pledge Break. Donations gladly accepted at the Tip Jar, over there, to your right.

What will happen if they don’t donate?

Not a damned thing; Blogger doesn’t charge, I can’t imagine quitting, I don’t like ads, and so I don’t think I’ll change anything at all.

Wait, what if nobody donates anything at all?

Then they save themselves that much money. If they need it, they should keep it.

So why would anybody donate?

I would hope they think some of what I do here is worth paying for.

Dude, you are deluded.

Well, if it isn’t, then I surely don’t deserve donations for it, do I?

Fair enough. So, is there going to be a verse on this post?

Um… that would kind of defeat the purpose, don’t you think? There will be some best-of posts coming up shortly—gotta load up the Yanni concert…

Edited to add: A couple of years ago, I had a very specific and genuine need for monetary help. When I announced this, my incredible readers responded with kindness and generosity that I will never be able to repay fully. This, today’s post, is not that sort of situation. I never ever want to take advantage of my readers, and so I want to make that clear.

The Billion Dollar Lie

It’s often said that “Love is blind”;
If that were true, perhaps we’d find
We’d still be seen as beautiful, although we’re slightly older.
But research shows, a different truth—
That beauty’s seen in fertile youth—
So industries arise to fool the eye of the beholder.
It may seem cruel; it can’t be fair,
But flawless skin and shiny hair
Are hallmarks of attraction, so perhaps it’s no surprise
This aspect of biology
Gives rise to cosmetology—
A billion-dollar industry* that’s based on telling lies.

*I lied. Eight billion dollars a year, in the US alone.

This seems like quite a cynical verse, but if you want to see the science behind it, visit Christie Wilcox’s blog here. And if you visit before November 5th, (noon, pacific time), click on through and vote for her in the 10K blogging scholarship contest, to encourage posts like that.

Election Day Verse

I don’t have time now to write, so I have tweaked an old verse just a little, so as to have something appropriate for (US) election day. I suppose it also would have been a fairly fitting verse to add to the Rally To Support [something], so if you happen to know Jon Stewart, you can point him to it.

When the original was posted, it came with a series of videos, of some of the worst of the pre-election rallies last cycle. Now, of course, the Tea Party has its own network, so I don’t even have to link videos–you already know what sorts of thing are being referred to.

Of course there are Christians, of course there are Muslims,
And Atheists, Pagans, and Jews
Supporting the left or supporting the right—
Supporting a spectrum of views—
Of course there are numbskulls, and ignorant pinheads
Whose views are incredibly dense,
And of course they reside on both sides, red and blue
Of the nation’s political fence
It gets to the point where we almost expect it—
Perhaps it’s what humans just do—
We forget these are merely the vocal extremists
Whose numbers, in truth, are quite few.
These salient images seen in the media
Show us ourselves at our worst
But just look around, and you’ll see something different,
And not what it looked like at first:
The people who back both the left and the right
Are people like you and like me
And most are intelligent, thoughtful and kind,
And like us, they don’t like what they see.
This silent majority, not in the news,
When confronted with ignorant hate
May decide to combat it, or maybe ignore it,
Or challenge them to a debate
And sometimes you’ll find that these ignorant cowards
Back down when you call out their bluff
So… if you’re like me, and you’re sick of the lying,
Decide that enough is enough!
And remember, the ignorant liars can shout
Until all of their faces are blue;
When you get in that booth, and you pull shut the curtain…
The one with the power is you.

Anyway, go vote! And if you seriously are considering “sending a message” by boycotting the vote, read the comments here first.

Carnival of Evolution #29 is up!

…over at Byte Size Biology.

Yes, I’m in it, but you’ve already read that one–you should be visiting it to read all the other wonderful posts. Besides which, the commentary is great fun! It never fails to awe and humble me, to get the merest glimpse of the enormous landscape of evolutionary biology. Seriously, I thought my own contribution to this one took a bit of a wide view, but it is positively blinkered compared with the scope of articles collected at BSB.

So, go! Read! Enjoy!