Botany Is Destiny

From the old blog–only had to change one sentence to apply it to today–thanks to PZ’s Botanical Wednesday.

Sigmund Freud (in)famously opined that “anatomy is destiny”, that (to oversimplify greatly) one’s personality and one’s potential were, to a large part, determined by what equipment one possessed between one’s legs. Penis envy (he has one, and I don’t!), castration anxiety (she doesn’t have one, maybe they’ll cut mine off, too!), and other Freudian concepts stem directly from whether you are an innie or an outie (so to speak).

The phrase has evolved a bit, and now is also seen as “biology is destiny”, with somewhat fewer genital-related shades of meaning, but the earlier meaning is sometimes (often? I have not done a thorough review, so cannot say) lurking just under the surface. Whether our reasons are Freudian or Darwinian, there seems to be enough interest in that one set of complementary organs to support several industries… and the continuation of life as we know it.

We have long known that the brain includes multiple areas involved in face-detection; I begin to wonder if the entire rest of the brain might not be involved in genital-detection. We see them everywhere.

Take plants. I have a cousin, an artist, who (decades ago) exhibited a number of paintings of plants, and of close-ups of parts of plants. It probably won’t surprise you to know that a split-open peach pit, in the proper perspective, will make the vast majority of a family gathering blush. It looks quite like the anatomical wall chart I once saw at an OB-GYN’s office. Robert Heinlein’s “Notebooks of Lazarus Long” includes a phrase that puzzled me when I first read it: “Have you noticed how much they look like orchids? Lovely!” And today, as often, PZ Myers’ “Wednesday Botanical” post celebrates the carnal aspect of vegetation (or perhaps that is all in my perception).

Oh, underused powers
Of beautiful flowers;
They tantalize, tempt, and entice,
Whether insect or human,
When flowers are bloomin’
There’s something that makes us look twice.

The curves I adore, kids,
I oft find in orchids
(Such flowers are dear to our hearts)
It’s not quite the same in
A pistil or stamen
But sometimes, it seems, parts is parts.

In just the right lighting
It’s rather exciting
When beautiful form follows function
In plant pollination
Or *our* fornication
When parts can perform in conjunction

That such an attraction
Creates a reaction
Is fact that a blind man could see
You might think me crazy–
I’m off to find Daisy
To ask if she’ll just let me bee.

The Octopus Gods

Image: Michael McRae

Oh, the cephalopods have their Octopus Gods,
With tentacles stronger than steel,
Who have taken down ships with their powerful grips
And made many a sailor a meal.

They win wrestling matches with submarine hatches
Like popping a tin of sardines
Then it’s horrible cries, and tears in the eyes
Of the witnessing Merchant Marines.

Survivers are few, but they swear it is true—
“The monster, it started to throttle us!”
You can vividly note, from the scar on his throat
He survived the attack on the Nautilus.

These powerful deities loves spontaneity,
Thus, are well-loved by their followers
Who all serve as one, having octopus fun
Whether tiny, or submarine-swallowers

When I tell you (no lie) that the octopus eye
Is superior even to Man’s
It’s clear that this creature’s the centerpiece feature
In a sinister deity’s plans

They’ll take down a shark, like a walk in the park—
You’ve seen it on YouTube, I know
And to get to their goal they can squeeze through a hole,
Up the drain, in your tub, to your toe!

So guzzle your Folger’s—these octopus soldiers
Are coming for you while you sleep!
These eight-legged beauties will all do their duties;
Invisible devils, they creep.

So the next time you think, “could one hide in my sink?
Or my bathtub, or even my toilet?”
As a Cuttlefish, I would be seen as a spy
If I told you (besides, that would spoil it).

If you find an appeal in an octopus meal—
Say, for sushi you’ve got a real itch—
The cephalopods have their Octopus Gods
And I’m telling you, payback’s a bitch. [Read more…]

What An Atheist Believes

I believe in love and kindness
I believe in helping hands
I believe in strong opinions
I believe in taking stands
I believe cooperation
Overcomes the steepest odds
I believe we have a fighting chance

I don’t believe in gods.

I believe in education
I believe in learning science
I believe we see much further
When we climb atop of giants
I believe in writing poetry
And verses praising love
I believe that there are mysteries

But not a god above.

I believe in art and music
And the power of a voice
I believe in nature’s beauty
I believe we have a choice
I believe we have a future—
We’re in charge of how it looks—
I believe in sharing knowledge, too

But not in holy books

I believe we came from nothing
And to nothing we’ll return
I believe we don’t know everything
But much of it, we’ll learn
I believe we’re all connected
I believe all sorts of stuff
I believe we are humanity

And isn’t that enough? [Read more…]