October 2007

Fairy dust and happy thoughts

Silent Night, Hallowed Night

He'd prayed about it long and hard; he knew
The voice, that still small voice of calm within,
So pure and so assured, so clearly true
That failure to obey must count as sin
Like leaving vile diseases free to grow
Or asking Satan's demons to come in.
As is in Heaven, soon to be below,
He'd bring the hallow back to Halloween,
Reclaiming silent streets from rats that go
About with shouts profane and screams obscene
Demanding tribute to their god of greed--
A feast of fleshly gluttony to glean.
He tiptoed out to start the cleansing deed
With ears well blocked, so not to hear them plead.

(Halloween is supposed to be a little scary, isn't it?)

On Communication

I've been reading Overcoming Bias regularly for the last couple of months. It's become one of my favorites for mental stimulation.

Eliezer Yudkowsky on communication barriers:

If you want to sound deep, you can never say anything that is more than a single step of inferential distance away from your listener's current mental state. That's just the way it is. (From How to Seem (and Be) Deep)

The audience doesn't know anything about an evolutionary-psychological argument for a cognitive bias to underestimate inferential distances leading to traffic jams in communication. They'll just think you're condescending. (From Expecting Short Inferential Distances)

Inherit the earth

A geek desires to tell you how he feels
and not content to air his fragile dreams
obscurely in third person, he reveals
them cloaked in allegorical extremes.
He writes from the perspective of a hack--
a journalist from twenty-fifty-two
who chronicles nerd heroes of way back
when physical appearance was what drew
more hearts: "The strange emergence of the nerds,
equipped with sci-fi trivia and math,
as models for the macho human herds
has steered mankind from war's destructive path.
 The world grew up when people learned to play
 and regular expressions saved the day.

Just words

If I could have my way with words
I'd lock them in my soundproof ward,
subject them to a hypno-beat,
deny them sleep.
I'd isolate them from their kin
and stress them till they'd only mean
the things I want,
and not the things you think you hear.

Cephalopod Awareness Day

I missed it (by Australian time). October 8th was International Cephalopod Awareness Day. Not having much time, I've collected some of the cephalopod poems I'd written for PhaWRONGula.

An Awdl Gywydd for Pharyngula: Firefly squid

Skin-deep creatures, rage the night,
Flaunt your brightness to excess;
Flashing features, star-like, proud,
Show the crowd your nightclub dress.

A Lehrerian tango for Pharyngula: More cephalopod art

Dim the lights for a tantric temptation;
Feel this rhythm of writhing elation;
Great Ones watch us askance as the night bids us dance
And the music demands the tentacle tango.

All alone in your tank, are you sighing?
Let me taste every tear that you're dyeing;
Feel the lure of my charms; leave your marks on my arms;
Come to me, and we'll trip the tentacle tango.

As I fondle each sensuous sucker
Is it out of the question to pucker?
Your rapturous grip makes each dance step a trip
When we dance, beak to cheek, the tentacle tango.

Though my friends say I'm wasting my life on
A wet bag with eight legs and a siphon,
Still I'm lost without trace in your tactile embrace
Every time we attempt the tentacle tango.

A limerick for Pharyngula: Cirrate octopus

They're luminous, leggy and lissome,
In diaphanous drag. Don't dismiss 'em.
You see, I'm a sucker
For 'podes when they pucker,
But I can't find the courage to kiss 'em.

And some double-dactyls:

Re: Pharyngula: "los diablos rojos"?

Tabloid Canadian
Libels the Humboldt with
Fishermen's tales,

Marking himself as a
First to be food when the
Old one prevails.

Re: Pharyngula: Cephalopod gnashers

Two-spot the octopus
Suckers his snacks with his
Tangly physique,

Munching his meals with a
Chitinous crab-opening
Muscle-bound beak.

Re: Pharyngula: God hates squid

Answers in Genesis
Claims that an octopus
Is not alive;

This is great news, 'cause their
Lore will allow undead
Squid-men to thrive.

Re: Pharyngula: Florid squid prose

Gigas (Dosidicus),
Migrating north from its
Home in the deep,

Causes reporters to
Paint purple prose while the
Old guy's asleep.

Just sing!

Thoreau thought it patently wrong,
Most men's days are distressingly long,
Filled with dull desperation;
They face expiration
Without giving breath to their song.