May 2006

May 2006

Endless Forms Most Beautiful

A while back, I submitted Tiktaalik roseae as a topic suggestion for Mike Snider's Weekly Sonnet. He took up the suggestion and produced Endless Forms Most Beautiful. This link will probably point to a different poem a week from now. Whether or not the poem is still on the weekly sonnet page when you get there, Mike's draft page gives a quick glance at the thought process that led from two words (the name of a recently discovered fossil) to 14 lines of poetry (that evoke pages of thought about history, knowledge, growth, transformation).

A Sonnet for Silvía

My vote is in! It's Silvía, all the way!
Congratulations Iceland on your choice
Of goddess diva, She-who's-here-to-stay,
With hell-cool hawtness, ice-fire angel voice.
Against the pale pubescent pop debris
She deigns to sing--a gift, a perfect Night
That anal Eurovisionaries fail to see
With heads stuck where their lawyers look for light.
Disqualify! Disqualify! they bray,
With prudish rules to prop their fossil fears
While Waterloo-esque wanking wins the day;
They set their pop song contest back by years.
Oh Silvía, charming, cheeky-chic and clever,
Oh Silvía, dahhling, I can wait forever.

Would you like pain with your order?

I remember seeing a tattoo/piercing shop in SoHo, advertising its services: "Your choice. With pain or without."

This slogan came to mind when I read an "embryo rights" comment in an article on producing a cancer-free child. Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said:

“We mustn’t forget the embryos that were not given a chance to live. This is a worrying application because we are looking at a condition that is treatable.” 

Go Josephine! Yay! Let's demand the right of every unborn child to experience chemotherapy and eye surgery as they grow up! Let's keep pretending that every little ovum that dies before it's fulfilled its destiny is a tear-jerking tragedy, the unwarranted death of an innocent, the unmourned loss of another potential Mozart.


Yes, Josephine. Some embryos die. A person chose which embryo would be allowed to survive. That choice was made on the basis of preventing future pain, instead of leaving the decision to blind chance. Why is this a worrying application?

Beast Poems

Don't fall out of your VirJournal-viewing VR suits: I'm preparing something well in advance of when it's needed--nearly four weeks early. I'm defining a new poetic form to celebrate the Day of the Beast*.

Yes folks, here's another dose of finding meanings patterns in arbitrary numbering systems. This year, the sixth of June (06/06/06) will be Beast Day, and since all eschatological predictions so far have failed to ramp the panic meter up as far as "waves of vague anxiety," I'm going to stick my neck out and predict a very, very dull, non-apocalyptic Tuesday in June.

So how will we give this Beast Day a sense of occasion? By writing poems acknowledging the real beasts in our lives.

How to write a Beast Poem:

  • It must be about a real, tangible beast (yes, humans are valid targets)
  • It must start with the name of the beast
  • It should include uncomplimentary material about the beast
  • It must have 3 lines
  • It must have 6 syllables per line
  • All three lines must have a consistent rhythm (the rhythm will be somewhat constrained by the name of the beast at the start)
  • The ends of the lines should not rhyme with one another, but the rest of the words should echo the sounds of the end words in some way: rhyme, assonance, consonance etc.

I've written some examples, taking the four Birman beasts residing at HouseOfVirge as targets.

Isadora will gnaw;
Her affections inflict
Fond impressions of dents.

Lu-Tze often loses
Scrunchy pills of paper
Skittered in the kitchen.

Windle Poons pounces with
Unexplained élan up
Sheer-sided service chutes.

Tattybogle's talents
Lie in lying daily--
Lazy leonining.

And since I'm feeling prophetic, here's a prediction for Sigga:

Nikita is KITTEN!
With bated breath waiting
Bare ankle to rankle.

There, you see. Beast Poems are easy (compared with Double-Dactyls, not Fibs). Just 18 syllables. 666. I haven't started exploring the depth of the "uncomplimentary material" rule. That could be lots of fun. How about a Beast Poem full of snark?

* not to be confused with the 1995 movie of the same name

[update: added hyphen to sheer-sided]

OEDILF Stampede

The BBC mouthed the man's words
To its regular erudite nerds.
As limericks were sampled
Our server was trampled
By fun-loving pun-hungry herds.

(When I went to bed last night the site was loaded beyond capacity. It's usable again this morning.)

Time-travelling elephant

Ever wish you were on the other side of the world?

Just looking at the pictures creates a full-body smile.

Joy, intrigue, awe.

Morning Coffee

Is your work environment tediously professional?

Enjoy the frivolous froth of life with paper, scissors, and your coffee maker.

Significant Moment

A moment of significance in an arbitrarily defined numbering system passed me by last night. I forgot to celebrate/commemorate/observe its passage. I'll pay lip service to the instant by recording in this public place what I was doing at the time.

At 01:02:03 on 04/05/06 (Melbourne, Australia), I was reading a book, in bed, possibly being distracted by the interactions of a variable number [0..4] of cats. (Be thankful that I didn't encrypt this message using Arethusa with the date as a seed. Yes, I was reading Cryptonomicon.)