Virge's blog

Thigh Ornament

Last night I found out what it was like to have a fully grown cat suspended from one's thigh by three piercings (very recently applied). The results were not pretty, visually or aurally.

Enough said.

Staggering Stupidity

I thought I'd looked at idiocy from both sides now, but it seems there's always a fresh angle (via Making Light). What should we call this: the idealist's idea of the best possible disaster aid?

First, read the American Red Cross Disaster FAQ. Note where it says:

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

So, Homeland Security, stretched beyond capacity, unable to cope with the demand for evacuation assistance, are preventing people stuck in N.O. from receiving medical aid and food. People will suffer and die while they wait for the best possible solution--evacuation. Let the pragmatists in!


PZ and many others have noted and ranted.

George W. Bush, September 2005:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

Scientific American, October 2001:

New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen...

A direct hit is inevitable. Large hurricanes come close every year...

Since the late 1980s Louisiana's senators have made various pleas to Congress to fund massive remedial work...

Bush's statement would be better abbreviated to "I don't think."

Praise the FSM

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is desirous of our worship and of our efforts to educate the uninformed. Yet how shall we, the faithful, unite our voices and our spirits without music and devotional lyrics to inspire our zeal? Here are two hymns that I dedicate to our Noodly Master.

All Things
(With apologies to Cecil F. Alexander)

All things bold and booty-full,
All pirates tanned and tall,
All things new and noodle-full,
Our Monster made them all.

One hook He gave us, sharpened;
One eye clad in a patch;
We heeded not His warning:
"Be careful when ye scratch!"

Repeat Chorus

The urge to seek adventure,
The tattered treasure chart,
The lure o' bounteous baubles
That pump a pirate's heart.

Repeat Chorus

The wide blue ocean freedom,
The tang of salty air,
The rum imbued with courage,
Spaghetti placed it there.

Repeat Chorus

Each saucy buxom maiden
Each winsome comely tart
And lust with which to woo 'em
His noodle doth impart.

Repeat Chorus

The slapping of the rigging,
The endless lonely sea,
That strapping young midshipman
When weeks from port we be.

Repeat Chorus

He gave us swaggering heroes
With rapier repartee,
And moody brooding shipping:
Spaghettiness adds squee!

Organ swells for final chorus:

All things bold and booty-full,
All pirates tanned and tall,
All things new and noodle-full,
Our Monster made them all.

Sheet musicMidi file

(With apologies to William Blake)

And did that meat in recent time
Make Kansas School Board members green?
And was the saucy source of all
Adjusting things we'd never seen?

And do our sub-atomic strings
Reveal the nature of design?
And was Spaghetti's flavorous feast
To show His Noodliness divine?

Bring me my bowl of pasta gold!
Bring me my meatballs of desire!
Bring me my sauce with herbs untold!
Bring me my bolognese of fire!

I will not cede my legal right,
Nor shall my fork sleep in my hand,
Till we have taught Spaghetti's Flight
In Kansans' backward schooling land.

Sheet music & Midi file

[Edited to add an extra verse to All Things at the request of a fellow FSM worshipper.]
[Edited to add links to sheet music and midi files.]

Be reasonable

In a discussion on Pharyngula about the necessity of reason, I wondered what would happen if I adopted Berkeley's subjective idealism:

Bishop Berkeley's existence was crammed
in his mind. His philosophy slammed
what he couldn't perceive.
I'll refuse to believe
in these bullets, so physics be dam-UGH!

And since I was in a mood for bashing the bishop:

Bishop Berkeley's religion subverted
his morals. His head was inserted
so far up his tush
that he started to push
Christian slavery: "Come, be converted!"

The Return of the Curse

The curse is a long neglected literary device, but one I believe should be revived and added to the pundit's arsenal. The floods of invective, tirade, rant and snark have grown stale and are losing their emotional power. They've become old and comfortable, viewed as reassurance to the supporter and meaningless noise to the opponent.

The curse is more than an argument or an assertion, it is a word of prophesy. It ties fate to its victim's coattail. It signposts a course through the multiverse. Like science, it makes predictions.

PZ Myers draws our attention to the curse left by the famous UFO debunker, Philip Klass

The Last Will and Testament of Philip J. Klass

To UFOlogists who publicly criticize me…or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath THE UFO CURSE: No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs that you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse.

Inspired by Klass's curse, I penned a curse in verse for PhaWRONGula (only to find on completion that Socar had been similarly inspired).

To Curse a Creationist

May your Luddite defiance and techno-anxiety,
Your morals from myth and pretensions of piety,
Irrelevance to an enlightened society
Let everyone know you're a freak.

May your lifetime's disdain for your own education
One day be the source of your mortification--
A breathtaking, gut-wrenching realization
Of your ignorant arrogant pique.

May your paranoid claims and continued insistence
That science suppresses your piece de resistance
Become such a part of your blighted existence
You feel that it's pointless to speak.

A Fable

The Grand Wondrous Emperor summoned his advisors, Gnowhey and Ceemoor, to his court and presented them with a problem.

"A rabble of despised Sandirritans tried to violate our borders last week. They were armed only with a golden chest. Our brave archers slew them at a distance before they could work their mischief. The chest contained seeds and a cryptic scroll. Let the wise tell me what it means."

The Emperor's attendant passed the scroll to Ceemoor, who unrolled it and examined it. The court waited upon his explanation. In the stillness, the royal harpist fumbled a note, then deliberately fumbled the next phrase to make his previous mistake sound intentional. After several minutes the Emperor scratched his head and leant on the side of his throne. Ceemoor, muttering to himself, looked back to the top of the scroll and started to make notes on his slate.

The Emperor cleared his throat. "Ahem. Have you an answer?"

Ceemoor jerked to attention. "I... I have found some of its meaning, your magnificence. I'm familiar with some of the symbols and the others show patterns that I shall soon decode."

Gnowhey interjected, "Nonsense! Ceemoor is pretending he has knowledge that none of us could possibly attain."

"On the contrary, Gnowhey, the symbols are akin to those used by our neighbor, the Sultan of Sandirritan. If we were to consult any of our traders, I'm sure they could help with translation."

"Yes, yes, Ceemoor," said the Emperor, "but what does it mean?"

"Your Wondrousness, I think the scroll gives directions for growing a crop from the seeds. There are symbols that represent seasons and water and harvest..."

"Rubbish!" exploded Gnowhey. "The Sandirritans insult us with their pretenses. They taunt us with false gifts. They send seeds of weeds to destroy our crops, to bring hunger to our people, and corruption to our lands. Burn the seed and the scroll. Smelt the golden chest and turn their offense into an offering worthy of our Emperor, the Wisest of All Rulers. Pray, listen no more to Ceemoor, who is baffled by their deceit and would reduce us to ruin."

The Emperor raised his voice. "Ceemoor! Were you truly taken in by their treachery? Are we all to be fools?"

"Emperor, the fields of the Sandirritans are the envy of all. They know not the meaning of hunger. We must put these seeds to the test. Have I not spoken with wisdom in the past?"

The Emperor spat on the floor at Ceemoor's feet. "I tire of your so-called wisdom, Ceemoor. You can't even see my new suit."

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