Dicyemid mesozoa are not cute at all.

So P-Zed was getting all moon-eyed and silver-tongued over parasites. Parasites that live in the kidneys of cephalopods, getting their nutrients from urine, much like Sally Kern. Anyway, his love letter to these beasties is a wonderful example of the passion that scientists have for their work. Uncovering the mysteries of the natural world does not take the beauty out of it; rather, knowledge enhances our appreciation for everything in the real world. In the words of Douglas Adams (who said nearly everything better than nearly anyone else did), “I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”  If you are one of those rare readers here who do not already read Pharyngula, I seriously recommend following the above link to see that principle in action.

But as a cuttlefish, I was a bit miffed. “Oooh, aren’t they lovely!” “What an elegant illustration of evolution at work!” “Much more lovely than mere puppy dogs!” Hmph. Think of the cephalopods! Won’t somebody, please, think of the cephalopods?

So that’s what I was sensing! As discomfort was commencing,
Inflammation in my kidneys as I swam in the abyss
Was where parasites were feeding, and (in both their ways) were breeding,
And now Myers, metaphorically, joins in to take the piss.
A biologist, his duty is to rhapsodize their beauty
But a little sensitivity is all a ‘pod can ask!
Yes, I get that it’s exciting–I can see that in his writing–
Guess I only wish he didn’t take such pleasure in the task.
“O dicyemid mesozoan”, while inside my pain is growin’
“Let me count the ways I love you”, like this parasite is heaven
Then the dude proceeds in counting, while my agony is mounting,
And he doesn’t stop until he’s all the way to fucking seven!

Oh, for those who wonder about these things–this one was one of the verses that might as well have been self-writing. Less than 15 minutes, and it came out in final form. I love it when that happens.


Ok, I wasn’t going to post this, but what the heck… Pharyngula’s nice light fluffy topic of the morning is, sorta, whether war is part of the nature of humankind, and whether we can conceivably put an end to it.

Well you ask “What’s the purpose of war–
All the bombs, and the bullets, and gore?”
Though we all know it’s wrong
We’ve been at it so long
We’ve forgotten just what it is for.

One answer that’s there on the table,
Though I’m fully aware that it’s fable:
As descendents of Cain
We make war, in the main,
Just because we can’t stop–we’re not Abel.

Or, perhaps, it is all in our genes,
Although no one knows quite what that means
Is the dominant trait
Disposition to hate,
Or a fondness for noisy machines?

Are we programmed for war in our head?
Is it just that we’re easily led?
I think we should strive
To find out, while alive,
Cos it’s surely too late once we’re dead.

Can we change predilection for fighting
For something else, just as exciting?
The next border dispute,
Try an alternate route–
Say, competitive limerick writing!

Any comments not in limerick form will, of course, be deleted!!!

My Enemy’s Enemy…?

As reported on Pharyngula, a common prescientific mythology is making strange bedfellows these days. This time, the Turkish Islamic anti-Darwin movement is aided and abetted by American fundamentalist Christian conservatives. No, really. Yeah, I had to read it twice, too.

Well, it’s not like that’s an area of the world where Christians and Muslims have had any history of strife, at least. *ahem* Yeah. well…

Creationists of every stripe—
The people who can stomach tripe—
Have joined together in defense
Of Faith opposed to evidence.
Islam and Christianity
Throughout the course of history
Have rarely been the best of friends
But now, it seems, their fighting ends.
Has someone finally seen the light,
And seen the reasons that they fight
Are foolish little arguments
That anyone with common sense
Could see are not worth fighting for?
Cos that would be exciting! Or
Has something posed a greater threat
Than anything encountered yet,
Through centuries of outright war?
(Remember, what they’re fighting for
Is their religion—and what’s odd
They share the Abrahamic God!)
Well… sorta. They have joined to fight
The most disgusting in God’s sight;
The ones who stoop so awfully low
And challenge what these theists know—
That’s right, those dreadful scientists
Are now the scourge that tops the lists!
The U.S. Christians on the right
Have joined together in the fight
And arm-in-arm with Muslim Turks
They fight the growing threat that lurks
In science classrooms everywhere!
Why, you can look, if you should care
From elementary school to college,
Anywhere they’re spreading knowledge:
If fact and logic help you choose,
You threaten our religious views!
Holy wars, crusades, jihads,
Are minor things. This threat to God’s
The greatest of the present dangers,
Making allies out of strangers.
So join me, fighting science, brother—
Tomorrow we can kill each other.

With Apologies To Bob Dylan…

Early this mornin’ the snow was fallin’
I’d just crawled outta bed
Wond’rin’ if I could find the coffee
While my eyes were still red.
The newsman said, as he always does
The day was gonna be rough
He never could find any happy news
And my paycheck’s never enough.
And I was sittin’ at the kitchen table
Havin’ some breakfast pie
Looking out on the internet
And I stumbled on this Guy, you know who,
Tangled Up In Blue.

He had posts about water-boarding,
Poverty, Death, and Abuse
Political dancing all over the world
Where the Devil’s gotten loose
Pointed out laws in 43 states
Where shove has come to push
And gays must sit in the back of the bus
While the driver, mister Bush,
Who’s looking out for his legacy
(Which doesn’t stand a chance)
I have to wonder, when he’s with Cheney,
Which one leads when they dance, the pas de deux,
On Tangled Up In Blue

(in other words, the Carnival of the Liberals is up on Tangled Up In Blue Guy. And he included my entry!)

A Book Review

I had completely forgotten about this little verse, a comment on PZed’s review of Ken Ham’s book on Darwin’s alleged racism. But over at Quintessence of Dust, where I am quite flattered and honored to be mentioned in this week’s Weekly Sampler, I find to my surprise that people actually read and remember the stuff I forget. So I am overjoyed to repost it here, just in case Pharyngula ever burns down, or gets popular enough that comments get lost among hundreds of others (yeah, right, like that could happen).

The rhyme scheme on this one was a lot of fun, now that I think back on it a bit. So thanks, Q of D, for the jab in the ribs.

Although to verse I’m not averse
(Oh, no, perverse is what I am)
With phrases terse, I could do worse
Than share the curse of tainted Ham.

In rhyme or prose, well, goodness knows,
I could compose this tale of mine;
And thus expose the growing nose
And lying pose of Kenneth Swine.

We’re all aware he does not care
If truth is rare in what he’s writ;
He says a prayer for public glare–
He’s happy there, as pigs in shit.

Although he’ll write that Black and White,
If Darwin’s right, are different species
He takes delight, producing quite
(To be polite) a load of feces.

He knows he’s wrong, but bobs along
Among the throngs of simple minds
There must be strong stuff in his bong
That makes him long for deep-fried rinds

It’s no surprise his book of lies
Sees truth’s demise in every word
If facts arise, they’re in disguise–
Complete with flies, this one’s a turd.

Stealth Creationists

If you look really closely, as I have resolved,
At Boards of Education,
You’ll see hidden creationists; some have evolved
A protective coloration.

Some wear their belief upon their sleeves
And some choose not to wear it–
But sometimes you’ll see what one believes
By the phrases that they parrot:

“I think it’s fair to teach both sides”
“Evolution is ‘just a theory'”
“With freedom of speech, then who decides?”
“Just think of the children, dearie”

And just as we can identify birds
By the calls of hens and drakes
We can sometimes tell creationist turds
By the sound stupidity makes.

A tip o’ the cuttle to PZ, here.

Your thoughts?

Coturnix has asked (here) for me to submit one or more of these verses to the Science Blogging Anthology. If any readers have favorites they would like to lobby for, I would appreciate any feedback at all; I do not consider myself to be a particularly good judge of my verse.

And if you have no comments on that in particular, feel free to say hi anyway! I think you need a blogger account to comment, but they are free and simple, so come on in, the water’s fine!

An Atheist Gives Thanks

It’s late November, time for giving thanks–
But thanks to whom? For me, this question ranks
Among the more important we can ask;
To answer, I’ve assigned myself the task.
Tradition holds we should give thanks to God.
In fact, your average person finds it odd
That anyone would even think to question
Whom to thank–but still, my bold suggestion:
Thank the ones who really did the stuff
That God gets credit for. There are enough
Deserving people we can thank, without
Inventing gods to steal their praise or pout.
“Thank God for all the bread we have to eat.”
Instead, I’ll thank the ones who grew the wheat,
And ground the flour, baked and sold the bread;
Why God, when I can thank these folks instead?
(Is God behind it all? I rather doubt;
So many other farmers suffered drought,
And watched their crops disintegrate to dust;
A God like this is not one I would trust.)
“Thank God my sister’s cancer’s in remission!”
Absolutely not. With no contrition,
Thanks go out to doctors, and to nurses,
To those who opened up their hearts and purses,
Friends who volunteered their time to cook,
Or feed her cats, or bring a favorite book
For her to read. Oh, yes, and thanks
To perfect strangers who gave blood–the banks
Would not be there without your precious gift;
By thanking God, we’re giving you short shrift.
I’m thankful to (not for) the ones who taught
Her doctors what they know. I also ought
To thank those who invented the machines–
Like X-rays, MRI’s–that gave the means
To find the lump before it was too late.
It’s people whom I thank. Not God. Not fate.
“Thank God for soldiers fighting in Iraq,
And keep them safe from enemy attack.”

Remember that they’re fighting those who kill
Because they disagree about God’s will.
If anything, this God should take the blame
For all the crimes committed in His name.
I do give thanks to soldiers–to, not for–
Their sacrifice–not God’s–the cost of war.
“I’m thankful for my friends, both near and far.”
I’m thankful to you–you know who you are–
For being there at 2 AM to talk,
For movies, beers, for joining me to walk
Along the beach to watch the rising tide
And setting sun compete–which one would hide
Our footprints first? We stayed to watch the moon
Rise over silver waves–then left, too soon.
I can’t thank God for that, when it was you
Who made it such a lovely thing to do.

I could go on, and fill a book or two
With thanks. I won’t, ‘cos this will do.
One more is all–if you have read this far
Then thanks to you, no matter who you are,
For reading. Let me leave you with a thought:
This Thanksgiving, thank the ones we ought;
Thank your friends and family–those you love,
Before you thank some made-up God above.