The Name Game

Ok, maybe you want to be a bit more careful when you are naming your stuffed animals. I’m sure you have heard by this point about Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after her class voted to name their teddy bear Muhammad.

BBC News is discussing the rules about what can and cannot be named after whom.

The issue has been a vexed one for Muslims through the ages. Some believe that the name can only be given to boys – to give it to an object is idolatry. Others say that pets and toys can bear the name.

Dilwar Hussain, of the Islamic Foundation, has no problem with a teddy bear called Muhammad. For some years, the Islamic Society sold a soft toy made for British Muslim children named Adam the Prayer Bear. “Adam is also the name of a Prophet.”

They named their bear Muhammad,
And their teacher was arrested;
Religious views around the world
Are sorely being tested.

It’s cool to name a pit-bull
After Odin, Zeus, or Thor;
A fuzzy little kitten
Aphrodite–and what’s more,

If you search the pets in lands
From Argentina to Moldova
I suspect you’ll find a turtle
That’s called Yahweh or Jehovah.

An octopus named Kali?
I’m sure someone’s been enticed;
And the lizard called the Basilisk
Is nicknamed Jesus Christ.

There is one that’s so ubiquitous
It’s overlooked–how odd.
Imaginary friends, across
The planet, are called “God”.

Estro-Blaster, Help Me!

Another comment on Pharyngula… Seems the Estro-Blaster people are preying on men’s insecurities to sell snake-oil. (Freudian imagery intended.)

There is something in the waters
That can turn my sons to daughters?
I’m so happy that this flyer came to tell me of this fact!
Every smoothie that we’ve blendered
Means they’re halfway to transgendered!
Every second now is precious—it is time for us to act!

Time to panic, and I’m thinking
That the water I’ve been drinking
Is a chemical castration, and a feminazi plan!
I drink water like Niagara
As I wash down my Viagra;
Now I see why it’s not working, and I’m still a little man.

Time to buy some Estro-Blaster
And to hope the mail comes faster—
‘Cos I’m worried that perhaps it may already be too late:
I’m not thinking with my penis,
I’ve abandoned Mars for Venus—
And I find I’m moody, ‘bout a week before I menstruate.

creationist museums

I took a walk through time and space—
Through several million years—
I found that some things never change,
Or that’s how it appears.
Stupidity’s a constant
(Hey, I call ‘em as I see ‘em);
I noted Man’s is not the sole
Creationist Museum.
Seems everywhere I looked around
In present or in past,
I found museums touting God—
And all of them half-assed.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
Or find them each defective;
Each species must be Number One
When seen from their perspective.

The early primates said:

God created Lemurs, and
The world was truly blest;
“Descent of Man” is apropos—
He’s clearly second best.
The perfect form’s arboreous,
As anyone can tell
When apes descended from the trees
Things really went to Hell.

The early tetrapods said:

Acanthostaga sits supreme
As God’s most perfect beast;
To get from them to humankind
Just go from best to least.
Look inside our holy books
And find revealed—the Flood;
God’s favorite creatures, thus, must live
In water and in mud.

The early chordates said:

God created Amphioxus,
Perfectly designed.
Mutations and deformities,
And now we have Mankind.
With notochord, pharyngeal slits,
Their form is most divine
Then vertebrates just messed it up
And now they have a spine.

The prokaryotes said:

The truly blest bacterium
God’s chosen form of life
With billions of them in the gut
Of Adam and his wife.
The heaven-blessed prokaryote
Is God’s Most Perfect Form,
And mammals are just one more way
To keep us nice and warm.

The Rain in Plains Stays Mainly Away from the Insane

“Dispatches from the culture wars” reports on the success of the pray-for-rain campain in Georgia.

When God said it’s a sin to take your Saviour’s Name in vain
That applied to silly selfishness like public prayers for rain.
If mortal I can see through this, then God can ascertain
The inherent self-aggrandizing political campaign.
When the pastors, priests, and politicians joined in one refrain
Asking God to drop some water on this bit of his domain
(Having checked the weather channel–they’re not totally insane–
To determine if their gamble had a decent chance at gain)
Then the Governor emoted–see his face contort and strain,
Till the casual observer might suspect he’d popped a vein
In a deep, important crevice in some structure in his brain;
And then one by one the ministers would join the daisy-chain,
With their practised voices, sonorous, impeccable sustain,
The sort of voice that speaking from a pulpit can attain,
And spoke until each had his turn, and no one did remain
Then waited for Almightly God their pleas to entertain.

Their aim was true, but God’s was not–I really should explain–
A quarter inch in Georgia, but there’s flooding up in Maine.

That damned prayer for rain.

Church? State? Oh, never mind…

What if God listens to some other voice?
What if God thinks we are jerks?
What if God, given unlimited choice,
Decides to do some other works?

What if the faithful were not gathered here?
What if the faithful were mute?
What if the faithful, though truly sincere,
Have given these bastards the boot?

What if the clouds simply didn’t respond?
What if the clouds didn’t care?
What if the clouds saw completely beyond
The pretense of a self-serving prayer?

What if there isn’t a God there at all?
What if it’s all up to us?
What if the truth is, we stand or we fall
By ourselves, and it’s always been thus?

What if humanity finally sees?
What if we finally act?
What if starvation, drought, and disease
Were addressed, instead of attacked?

What if we finally act on our own?
What if we do what we can?
What if, because we now know we’re alone,
We achieve the potential of Man?

(yeah, the last line is sexist–sue me; it rhymed.)

Kitzmiller v. Dover

I am writing this while watching, so I apologize for the incompleteness of my verse. It cannot, within the timeframe I would like, adequately address this wonderful program. Full Disclosure: I watched the trial as it progresseed, and read the transcripts as soon as they were made available; my verse here cannot possibly be the product of tonight’s show and nothing else.

I am, of course, speaking of today’s NOVA program about the Kitzmiller v. Dover “Panda Trial”. NOVA’s program is very well done. Nobody is belittled, nobody is made fun of…but nobody is let off the hook. Kudos to PBS for this program.

It’s not a polished verse, but anyway…

Though the trial is two years over, we once more revisit Dover
Where I.D., no more in clover, gets to hang its head in shame.
They all know about Miranda rights, have read their propaganda,
Largely thanks to them, the “Panda Trial” has since become its name

The attempted execution of the thought of evolution—
Well, good thing the constitution has a First Amendment Clause
No establishing religion as state-sponsored—not a smidgen,
But creationists’ clay pigeon was flung up to test the laws.

Wait—“creationist”? Let’s edit, and forget we ever said it
From now on, no God—we’ll credit some “intelligent design”.
Take the book, and cut and paste, look all innocent and chaste,
If we’re properly two-faced, then everything will turn out fine.

In a science education, by the laws of our great nation
There’s no room to teach creation, so that isn’t what they tried;
I.D. theory’s new position is a fossil in transition—
No God there, by definition (well, there is, but it’s denied).

Evolution’s only theory—wait right there; I know you’re leery,
But although you may grow weary, there’s a point I have to make:
Theory, see, in terms of science, means remarkable compliance
With the evidence; reliance on which isn’t a mistake.

See, Your Honor, see us pledging that we’re telling truth, not hedging,
Doctor Forrest says we’re wedging, but she’s biased, don’t you know?
But the trails of cut-and-pasting are quite clear. Now time’s a-wasting
And that bitterness you’re tasting? That’s the taste of “time to go”.

When Buckingham requested science texts that had been tested
And were legal, one suggested text was “Pandas”, so it seems.
The Thomas More Law Center had decided they would enter
(Both as lawyer and as mentor) to the district of their dreams.

There’s no question that “Kitzmiller versus Dover” was a thriller
When a witness who’s the pillar of the church once took the stand,
Testimony he provided, well, Judge Jones himself decided
Was much more than just one-sided, but a lie that he had planned

The bacterial flagellum—irreducible? Yes! (Well, um,
Close enough that we can tell ‘em that it must have been designed.)
If one protein is subtracted, function surely is impacted
Yes, the battle is protracted, but God’s fate is intertwined!

Many lies had been related, both explicit and unstated;
In his comments, Jones berated the defendants for their acts.
For religion to be winning, if it took a little spinning
Can you really say it’s sinning if you simply change the facts?

…and the fall-out? I suppose, at least it didn’t come to blows,
And the trial did expose a very real and potent threat;
When it suits their own desires, the religious can be liars
When it comes to setting fires, that is one we can’t forget.

Fight! Fight!

Another of the comments on Pharyngula that I had not planned on posting here.

The context: a hissy-fit slapfight amongst competing blogs.  You’ve probably seen it before–one blogger says something about another, and before you know it, people all over the world are puffing out their chests from the safety of their computer keyboards, calling one another out, extolling the virtues of their own side and enumerating the evils of the other.  Sometimes the exact same behavior seen as a virtue among one’s colleagues is a shocking violation of all that is good in humanity when seen in one’s opponents.  Our side has intelligent independent thinkers, who happen to agree on this issue because we have been convinced by the data; your side has fawning sycophants, following your leader’s whims like some misguided cult.
This particular case study is here.  I had thought I was late to the party; my comment is #183.  As of this writing, though, there are 398 comments posted (update: 400).  There are probably Vegas odds by now as to what the number will be by the time the sun goes supernova.

I have looked six ways from Sunday, and I hope that maybe one day
I’ll discover just the evidence to put him in his place;
‘Til that marvelous occasion, I’m contented with invasion–
I can comment in the blogosphere and rub it in his face.
I will taunt that bastard PZ, and I think it should be easy;
I’ve a strategy, dependent on the form of his reply–
He ignores me, he is yellow; he attacks, why then, the fellow
Who invites me to “fuck off” is not a scientific guy.
I will hold him to my standard, and complain that he has pandered
To his suck-ups who, predictably, will praise his every word.
Though my own world-view is vile, if he disagrees? “Denial!”
(Let’s conveniently ignore that my position is absurd.)
I don’t mean to be so rude, sir, but no matter what, you’re screwed, sir–
Our opinions are in concrete, there’s no way that they will change;
Once a world-view is cemented, doesn’t matter what’s presented,
If you disagree with what I think the truth is, you are strange.
If you stick it out, you’re bitter; if you leave, then you’re a quitter,
If you claim that you are busy, I will simply roll my eyes.
We all have our weak and strong points, good and bad and right and wrong points–
We all play to our advantage: you know science. I know lies.

Just like it says in Genesis

Stranger Fruit reports that 60% of adult Americans report that they believe the biblical story of Genesis to be literally true.

Note–I say that they report this, not that they believe this. I am firmly of the conviction that the vast majority of those who report that they believe the Bible to be literally true have never actually read it. I am fully aware that there are people–good people–who have read the entire thing many times and still believe it to be true….but in a random sample of only 1000 adults over the age of 18, the odds are against those good, well-read people skewing this poll.

No, the people polled are very likely those who “know the Bible” the same way grade-schoolers know the opposite sex: from what they hear from equally ignorant peers. And the sort of information they get?

I believe that God wants “Adams and Eves”,
But never “Adams and Dennises”
And when people get married, then nobody leaves—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I believe that dragons once roamed the Earth
True fire-breathing menaces;
And a fetus has rights, right up until birth—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I believe that global warming is wrong
Just look what a beauty Venice is;
And Bill O’Reilly is handsome and strong—
Just like it says in Genesis.

I admit that I haven’t quite read the whole thing;
It’s as boring as amateur tennis is.
But Bush is my President, Jesus my King—
Just like it says in Genesis.

Illinois…STFU

It seems that Illinois has legislated a moment of silence. What could be bad about that?

A moment of silence
Does nobody vi’lence,
And offers nobody offense
To cease from the riot—
Have everyone quiet—
They tell me it only makes sense

It’s “time for reflection”;
What sort of objection
Could anyone possibly make?
You just hit the jackpot;
This Cuttlefish crackpot
Will gladly point out your mistake.

So steady, there—steady,
Illinois, see, already
Has silence-by-choice legislated;
This new legislation
To my great frustration
Has school-wide inaction mandated.

Each morn, for one minute,
Each school and all in it
Must sit and do nothing at all
Of course, no distraction,
But also, no action!
And that’s got my back to the wall.

See, I know of the Great
(Well, it was) Prairie State
And I know that the people are strong
And to make them all sit
And refuse to commit
To an action—I see it as wrong.

I beg you, recall
That a minute is all
That it takes for a lot of good deeds
No need to belabor
But helping an neighbor
One minute might meet all his needs.

Or maybe, combine
All the minutes you find
In a classroom, a school, or a county;
The effort, now summed,
Has never been plumbed,
But would yield an incredible bounty.

Imagine the time
Spent in work (not in rhyme)
If one classroom could pool its resources
And one county—one state—
One could hardly debate
The pro-social effect of such forces

But the wise Prairie State,
With the usual debate,
Has decided they somehow know better;
Overcoming a veto
They think it is neato
To redo the law to the letter.

So now, it is clear,
That each student and peer,
In every last one of their classes,
Will take sixty seconds
As anyone reckons
And legally sit on their asses.

And thus, by the powers
Of congressmen, hours
Are wasted in silence each day;
It seems it is lawful,
If perfectly awful,
So long as the students don’t pray.

The scene that’s resulting
Is really insulting
To Atheist and Christian as well;
And now, every morning,
With copious warning,
The state is just going to hell.