Burzynski The Bold (A Ballad)

Some folks would give up; Some folks would just quit,
When they look for three decades, but only find shit.
But some can make hay from a whole lot of zero…
Like Dr Burzynski, the medical hero.

Though his method is lacking empirical proof
Looking less like a treatment and more like a spoof
That won’t stop Burzynski, the brave and the bold—
He’ll do as he wishes, and not as he’s told!

When your data are meager, then there go your grants,
But Burzynski the Bold doubled down, took a chance:
“I’ll charge all my patients exorbitant fees,
And I’ll make up the difference, as quick as you please!”

Now, some wouldn’t do this; some people have morals—
But Dr. Burzynski, he didn’t have quarrels;
He overcharged bravely, where others might quail;
His ethics and morals were boldly for sale.

He kept at his work, like that battery bunny,
And lied to his patients and sucked up their money
“It’s legal, of course,” he explained with a smile
“This isn’t a treatment, but merely a trial”

He isn’t a weasel, as stories depict him—
Oh, no! He’s a hero, as well as a victim;
He’s willing to take the unpopular path
Like boldly stand up to a teenager’s wrath—

A boy, armed with nothing but brains and the truth
Makes people think twice, ere they threaten the youth;
But Dr. Burzynski? That’s not what he did
(Thinking twice, he did not; he did threaten the kid)

Burzynski the Bold found a lawyer with teeth
(Some feed at the bottom—he feeds underneath)
Who threatened the lad, saying “cease and desist!”
But there’s something the lawyer, it seems, may have missed:

On the internet, smart kids have plenty of friends;
You can threaten him, sure, but that’s not where it ends;
So Dr. Burzynski, the kid may be young…
But mess with a wasps’ nest—you’re gonna get stung.

The War On Christmas, Explained

So it’s Christmas—my Christmas—my secular day;
The Supreme Court decided it must be that way.
As a secular holiday, Christmas can stay,
With department-store Santa Claus, there on display,
Or with Rudolph, or some other TV cliché,
And your photograph taken in front of the sleigh.

If you want, you can use this occasion to pray;
Even atheists know such behavior’s okay—
Just as long as you don’t expect me to obey,
And admit that your version of Christmas holds sway;
The establishment clause means I don’t have to play
By your rules, because every belief gets its say.

If you really think Christmas is in disarray,
That it’s war, and it’s time to make somebody pay,
Then I humbly submit, you’ve been led far astray
By some ignorant pundit who airs his dismay
By the grace of that same First Amendment that “they”
Get to hide behind, here in the U. S. of A.

Just noticed this one hiding in the archives. From 3 years ago.

It Being CyberMonday And All…

Just thought I’d let you in on a couple of things. First, by using the code CYBERMONDAY305 you can get 30% off the price of my book, which is still the perfect cephalopodmas gift for both dear friends and bitter enemies:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu. It’s available in e-book and paperback, if you poke around a bit.

Also, the coolest logo, the Cuttlefish with Quill, is available on various swag, at my cafepress shop.

Hey, two stops and your seasonal shopping is pretty much done. (I don’t sell chocolate, so you’ll need to make at least one more trip.)

Now… I gotta run. Got a call at 6 AM, asking me to cover a colleague’s 8 AM class. Coffee.

Highly Sought Kiss Of Doom

The headline shows up in my internet reader:
Newt Gingrich endorsed by The Union MisLeader
One wonders, of course, why we care what they choose—
Their record, of recent, predicts he’ll now lose.

Two money quotes. First, they damn with faint praise:

The New Hampshire Union Leader’s Sunday editorial says the former House speaker “is by no means the perfect candidate” but calls him “the best candidate who is actually running.”

And then, the kicker:

The conservative Union Leader editorial page has a history of passing over the front-runner in its selections. The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, Deleware Gov. Pete DuPont in 1988, Reagan aide Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, businessman Steve Forbes in 2000, and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.

A Good Day For Atheists

Checking the news can be daunting sometimes. Recent stories have had atheist bad guys demanding the Pendleton Cross be removed, the Big Mountain Jesus be removed, the Cranston Rhode Island School Prayer be removed… why it is that these stories never lead with “atheists urge others to follow the law”?

Anyway, it is the rare day when I find a story that does not paint atheists as evil. And today, not one but two stories that explore particular atheists in detail, accurately and sympathetically. These are good stories, and well worth reading!

In the New York Times (in the Fashion & Style section?), a story, “The Unbelievers”, about African-American atheists:

Given the cultural pull toward religion, less than one-half of a percent of African-Americans identify themselves as atheists, compared with 1.6 percent of the total population, according to Pew. Black atheists, then, find they are a minority within a minority.

In 2008, John Branch made his first YouTube video, “Black Atheism.” With the camera tight on his face, Mr. Branch, now 27, asks, “What is an atheist? An atheist is simply someone who lacks a belief in God.” Half kidding, he goes on, “We’re not drinking blood. We’re not worshiping Satan.” The video has received more than 40,000 hits.

“I think it attracted so much attention because, in the black community, not believing in God is seen as a thing for white people,” said Mr. Branch, a marketing strategist in Raleigh, N.C. “I hate that term, ‘acting white,’ but it’s used.”

Reading through the article, there is so much I want to re-post here, but I’ll just say “go read the whole thing.” It’s a thoughtful exploration of a group that should not be invisible, but often is (at least in the real world–it also shows the power of the internet to build community).

The second article is a pleasant little thing–a family in Austin has been exploring many different faith communities, just to get to know them better, and today’s article describes their meeting with some local atheists, a fun encounter that actually “gets it” in describing atheists like the ones I know:

As my girls asked more questions, more laughter ensued, more stories were shared, and it became apparent that though atheism might be a declaration of what is not believed, it isn’t a negative or nihilistic outlook.

It’s a short article, but again, worth the read.

Maybe there’s hope after all. Can’t wait to see what the comments sections look like.

It’s Tough To Be Christian (When Christmastime Comes)

It’s tough to be Christian, when Christmastime comes,
What with Santa, and reindeer, and elves,
With other religions, or secular folks,
And people who think for themselves

The Christian religion has changed, over time,
And it makes us all anxious as hell,
When the season arrives, and it’s not just for us,
But for other religions as well!

My neighbors are having their holiday feast
And it’s making me angry to see—
Devoutly expressing their deeply felt faith…
But a different religion than me!

The Christian majority’s under attack,
When the holidays force us to share—
We need recognition that’s Christian alone;
Without it, we don’t have a prayer.

A bit more, after the jump: [Read more…]

Feel Your Feelings…

Daniel, over at Camels With Hammers, writes about blaming people for their feelings as well as for their actions. If I were being serious, I’d mention that I have problems with his thesis, and think he’s simply factually wrong in places (the notion that feelings cause actions is by no means settled science, and at least two other interpretations have support–that feelings are caused by actions, and that both feelings and actions are caused by interaction with environment)… but I’m not being serious. I’m using this as an excuse to post a silly song by John Forster.

An Atheist Gives Thanks

So last week, I had the chance to thank, in person, the guy who saved my son’s life this year. Well, one of several people–this person was the head of the ambulance team. And I exaggerate (but not by much) to say “saved his life”, but hey, there was emergency care and a hospital stay, and lots of needles and tubes.

But I’m not thankful for any of them.

I’m thankful TO all of them. And to a great many more people over the past year. And, currently, to the makers of my migraine medicine, which is why I am going to cut this one short. Today’s verse is one of my earlier ones from the old blog, and it is, in my opinion, clunky and awkward. But it’s a Thanksgiving poem, so here it is, after the jump.
[Read more…]

Semper Fi

Ok, so the last post was a bit depressing. And, frankly, the commentary on the vast majority of published versions of the Camp Pendleton Cross story have been depressing.

Best commentary? The Marine Corps News. OF COURSE there are individuals there who honor their crosses over their constitution. But damned if there aren’t a whole lot of thoughtful Marines who know and respect the rule of law.

There will always be disagreement and variability of opinion. That does not bother me. What bothers me is the appearance of an assumption that All Marines Are Christians, and that Marines will follow the bible first, the constitution second. The death threats–yes, death threats–against fellow Americans, because they would remove an unconstitutionally installed religious marker from federal property.

So when I saw “The Marine Corps News”, I expected more of the same. I was wrong, and happily so. When roughly a fifth of our armed forces declare themselves non-religious (2004 study, check page 25, table 5), they have to be somewhere! And at the Marine Corps News, those whose allegiance is (as per their oaths) to the constitution are a match for those whose allegiance is to the cross.

No rhyme here–just happy to be wrong.

The Camp Pendleton Cross

A group of Marines dragged a cross up a hill
To honor the loss of their brothers
In a land where we’re equal, according to law,
Though some are more equal than others.

The cross on the hill is a trivial thing,
So “establishment” need not apply
It isn’t religious—no need to remove it—
Besides which, I’d dare you to try.

Those atheist bastards who chose to complain
Are requesting divine retribution!
And no one believes in their flimsy excuse
That they’re fighting for our Constitution!

This nation was founded by Christians, you know—
In this country, majority rules!
We don’t need to hide behind legalese crap
Like those arrogant atheist fools!

Don’t lecture Marines on the duty they’ve sworn—
What they’re tasked to protect and defend;
They know what the law is; they know very well,
And if not, what the hell, they’ll pretend.

Rant, after jump: (oh, actually, before the jump, a note that PZ links to a poll on the topic you might want to express your opinion on.) [Read more…]