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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

End of the Year Post: Stories

Interesting short paper by Dembski, written six years ago. (I feel rather guilty having accused him of selling snake oil (though he is), because after reading more of his stuff it's become apparent to me that he really does believe what he says.)

But I'm a writer, too. I've decided to post one of my short stories, and everyone should be able to view it now, which I'm waiting to hear back from a publisher about. It's based on real events; the agate mentioned in it exists and is in a safe place.

UPDATED: AJ linked to my post.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

End of the Year Post: Elevation of the Magdalen

Otherwise known as "Hairy Mary." This will surprise you!

(Requested by Greg)

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

End of the Year Post: Evolution of Michael Jackson's Face

Who was it who requested this one? Rev. Barking Nonsequitor? Well, here it is: A Photographic History of Michael Jackson's Face, with blithering, yet witty commentary.

Not for the faint of heart.

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End of the Year Post: Sexiest Man Living!

According to (this is old, but a goodie) it's Richard Dawkins! Sorry, Bill. But you sure make a cute Cowardly Lion.

(Shimmy plums and snake arms to Pharyngula and RedStateRabble. And to Bill.)

P.S. Fix that linky! Ahhhh!

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Menopause and Mountain Sickness

Dr. Marco sent me the link to his paper.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Guess What I Got for Christmas!

My sweetie-pie gave me this. What a trip down memory lane for both of us.

Shimmies to John!

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An Evolution Christmas

I'm so darned proud of this poem that I wrote for the folks at Uncommon Descent that I'm going to post it here, too! I wrote it in only ten minutes! (Or maybe you can tell?) Well, I like it.

All the best to everyone out there!

UPDATED: pbfared was kind enough to ask to reprint my poem.

T’was the night before Christmas
and all through the world,
not a creature had evolved yet,
not even a bird.
The stars were all hung
from the cliff-tops it seemed,
but the roiling oceans
bubbled and dreamed.

The pre-Cambrian children
were snug in their sludge,
with visions of mollusks
and trilobite fudge

When, what with a patter
three kingdoms arrived
bearing the gifts of
two more, to make five!

On Cambrian! On Ordovician! On Silurian goo!
On Devonian! On Carboniferous! On Permian, too!
From the lowest prokaryotic to the tallest dinosaur—
now dash away, dash away, from the meteor roar!

So up the food chain the mammals grew,
with a brain-cage of goodies, and you and me, too.
And as Homo erectus was turning around,
Down from the tree St. Nick came with a bound.
He was covered in hair, from his head to his foot,
And his elves were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of sticks he had flung on the briar,
And looked like he was about to invent fire.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like breadfruit, his nose like a berry.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Making footprints in the creek bed, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger alongside his nose,
he startled the primates with his Ho Ho Ho!s

He sprang to a branch, and brachiated like mad,
and away his elves followed, for none had been bad.
And thanks to this we have speech to describe this sight.
So happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

UPDATED: Oh, sure. Now Panda's Thumb has the 12 Days of Disco REDUX (that's the Disco(very) Institute, kids).

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

In Memoriam: Oriana Fallaci (1929 - 2006)

Denyse O'Leary at UD was asking why leftist atheists don't take on Islam and unfortunately, we have lost one that did just that. I have been a little out of it lately with school and work and so I did not know that Oriana Fallaci died in September.

Fallaci was the woman who interviewed the Ayatollah Khomeini--and who, during the interview, tore off the chador forced upon her ("this stupid medieval rag!"), and yet convinced the Ayatollah to finish the interview (abruptly ended with her action) two days later. She also wrote passionately about what she called "Islamofascism."

Unfortunately I think Ted Haggard was right when he told Richard Dawkins in Root of All Evil? that the Islamification of Europe would be a critical issue in the future, and Fallaci was a strong voice against that trend. It seems that women are harassed is some European suburbs for being uncovered. Too bad she could not get those who would seem to be natural allies, such as Germaine Greer, to speak up with her.

(In certain parts of Israel, too, uncovered women are also harassed by ultraconservative Jews who have called the baring of a female arm or leg an "act of violence"! Most Israelis are secular or moderate and can barely tolerate the orthodox element in their midst. And then to add to this crucible there's nutjobs like Yusuf al-Khattab, the Jew-turned-Muslim whom Dawkins interviewed in Root. Whack philosophy of women you've got there, Yusuf.)

Giselle Fermandez writes:

In her "Letter to a Child Never Born" or in "Inshallah" or most recently "The Pride and the Rage" and "The Force of Reason," she showed above all a love of the common man, of humanity in all its weakness and strengths, and never failed to point a finger and hold those guilty accountable for their greed, deceit or destruction. She understood that there was a love far greater than ones own personal need for love. There was a love on a much grander scale that put truth, justice and the future of mankind above all. This is from where she wrote -- a deep and soulful place that would not allow her to be bland or middle ground in any way.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ahmadinejad Loses Big Time

The rivals of Iran's loopy president, including reformers intimidated out of politics over the last 5 years, win big in Iranian local elections. If anyone deserves a fart animation, it's Ahmadinejad the Holocaust-denier.

(Oh, and by the way, I deny Allah. I deny Shiva. I'd deny Buddha, but he was just a dude and Buddhists aren't supposed to be worshipping him, anyway.)

(And naturally I deny the prophets of Ba'al. But Bill, dear, you're frightening me again.)

I have yielded to their pleas to send shimmies to Uncommon Descent. (You guys know what a shimmy is, right?)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PZ Makes My Day

As always. Read my rant and then his response.

But if that's the case, why can't I shimmy some sense into those UDudes? I'm dancing as fast as I can! (Steve S at PT is a wicked choreographer.)

Snake arms to Pharyngula and Panda's Thumb and Bette's Toons.

(Well, the little belly-dancing cats aren't working on this server, so you'll just have to look at them here.)

What I Owe to Carl Sagan

It is something that cannot be measured.

These things I gained from him:

A sense of wonder at the cosmos. That goes without saying. No matter what he said or what special effects he employed, he communicated best through his own astonishment at our mysterious and surprising universe, and that sense of wonder was infectious. It made the rest of my family watch his programs, even when they disagreed with him.

Skepticism and conviction. Skepticism is a gift far greater than faith. Doubt is the ultimate result of deep conviction. This is the paradox of the inquiring mind. Faith is a set of beliefs that one holds against the onslaught of the new and of the unknown, but skepticism allows one to question that siege mentality, and conviction allows one to step into the unknown without preconceived ideas, trusting that you can handle whatever comes up. Carl taught me this, for he did it himself. He was the person that he asked me to be.

Integrity and courage. Carl said what he meant and stood upon his word. Even people who vehemently disagreed with him remarked upon his honesty. He proposed some wacky ideas and didn’t care that other scientists looked askance at him. It did not surprise me that he met his end with valor. In his book Cosmos Carl quoted an epitaph of two astronomers: We have loved the stars too much to be afraid of the darkness. That was obviously true for him, and that says it all for me. We appear from, and vanish back into, the place where we are now. He is gone but he is here, for the cosmos is here, and the cosmos is our home, and even in death we will always be “starstuff.”

I never say, “Rest in peace,” for I had the sweetest high school chemistry teacher in the world (and a Christian) who drilled it into our heads that there was no plane of rest in the universe—everything was in motion, all the time. So I say instead, Dance with nature in peace, Carl Sagan.

UPDATED: PZ says: We need a thousand Sagans.

Carl Sagan Blog-a-Thon

(Shimmies to Carl, Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula, Nick Sagan, and Cosmic Log)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

True Love Never Waits

Nine out of ten people, both men and women, had premarital sex, even back in the 1940s.

Finer said the likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s, though people now wait longer to get married and thus are sexually active as singles for extensive periods.

The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.

“The data clearly show that the majority of older teens and adults have already had sex before marriage, which calls into question the federal government’s funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12- to 29-year-olds,” Finer said.

Bill Dembski, You Asked for This

All I want for Christmas is a toot under my petoot. Especially one this cute!

(Heartfelt, grateful shimmies to Red State Rabble!)

UPDATED: This is OT (that's not Old Testy-ment, Bill, sorry), but I received an A and a B for my first semester, and I'll take 'em!

UPDATED: More low-brow humor: a preacher uses the whoopie cushion to invoke the spirit of the continuity man. (Note: the *farts* are not what's coming out of his mouth. Yes, that reeks, too.) "I smell heaven's bakery cookin' up something good for you, sister!"

Don't like my childish humor? Well, watch this in all seriousness, then. And this one, too.

UPDATED: William Dembski! Would you fix that broken link on the bottom of your page! I e-mailed you about that weeks ago! Ahhhhh, it's like a hang-nail! It's driving me nuts!
It is driving me nuts, though.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Introducing a Woman's Science Blog

The Female Triumvirate of Evolution Experts!

On the Isle of Logos, that is.

So get that straight. [Wink!]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thanks, JAD

You gave me an idea.

UPDATED: Jesus H. Christ, the loquacious lunatic is still talking to himself over there! ("I love this silence. Why is it so quiet? Where are my enemies--bring them on. This is for Kristine, JanieBelle, and Kate, the three [insert sexist comment]. Stifle! Har-de-har, I quoted Archie Bunker, just like a real scientist. Oh, someone showed up to comment? Good! Go away! Ha ha ha, we have them on the run, Martin. BTW I have the runs, Martin. Now take that all you losers at the Slippery Floor Saloon: see, I just talked to him, so Martin can't be the same person! Got that? Write it down!")

SECOND UPDATE: Blah, blah, blah! The conniption continues. "Where is Pristine Kristine, girl Darwimp?" Pristine? What an outrage! ;-) It's the weekend, JAD, dude. Some of us have lives. For example, I'm going to be performing at the Freethought Follies tonight. (Archived photos from last year.)

THIRD UPDATE: Spoken like a gentleman, John A. Davison. Let that phrase be one of parting, bird or fiend! I shrieked, upstarting... Bird-brain or fiend...

EPA Erases the Past

JanieBelle alerted me to this alarming story of the EPA shredding and auctioning off its records, removing records from its online libraries, and trying to prevent the re-opening of its shuttered libraries in an obvious attempt to prevent environmental scientists from accessing historical data.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Visit Alan's Blog

Over at Alan Fox's blog we're discussing "Intelligent Design: an Alternative to Science or Atheism?"

We're also buzzing John A. Davison as well.

UPDATED: Comment moderation is off. (That's a good little troll.) John Davison called me a "creep." Huh? Moi? I think that was out of line (and so is his blatting about being banned and his PEH disappearing) but I have to admit he's a total stitch. I'm not kidding when I say I love him to pieces. Besides, his "Isle of Lesbos" rant gave me an idea.

(He wants to know what my "credentials" are? Who does he think is going to catalog, shelve, and preserve his PEH when he's gone? Which BTW John, I hope is a long way off. I mean, who do you think is going to give a tuppeny damn about all this intelligent design ballyhoo when the idea gasps its last? I have a weird feeling that I might be one of the few librarians who'll give take up the geeky mantle of preserving intelligent design's slide into Götterdämmerung (thanks, Dan!) when this is all over. Ironic, isn't it? Kind of like a hobby.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sponsored Children in Philippines Affected by Typhoon

If anyone has any sponsor children through Children International in the high risk area of the Philippines, here is what I know so far:

Records are (of course) spotty, but the organization will contact sponsors by phone as soon as it learns anything about the child's fate. In the meantime, you can read about the disaster here and contribute to the relief fund.
I want to keep this information at the top of my blog, so I’ll add a post underneath:

In Memoriam: Jeane Kirkpatrick

A strong woman and self-proclaimed “lifelong Democrat” despite joining the GOP, the first female ambassador to the UN, a woman who didn’t mince words, who wasn’t afraid to be opinionated, with whom I had profound disagreements on some things (while agreeing with her on others), but whose principles and example I respect. I shall miss her.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sami Rasouli on "Democracy Now!"

I just found out that a friend of mine, Sami Rasouli, who moved back to Iraq to be with his sister and her family in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Remember the Tripoli Six

UPDATED: A Libyan court has sentenced the Tripoli Six to death.

From my previous post: Here is a template for writing the Libyan government urging them to free the Tripoli Six.

They still need our help!

I am almost driven to despair thinking about what is happening and could happen to them, but it’s not fair to them to give up hope. So I’m asking everyone to take a minute and write a letter. Keep it deferential and respectful. I wrote mine out longhand.

Science confirms the innocence of the Tripoli Six (via Pharyngula, Effect Measure, and The Indigestible).

I am asking everyone--everyone--who visits this blog, whether you like me or not, to take the time to send a few letters. It is just astounding that anyone would accuse these people of malice when all they wanted to do was help ailing children in a developing country. If physicians and nurses get scared off from aid work, how will that benefit Libyan children?

I am also waiting to hear for sure that one of my sponsor children, who lives in the Phillipines, escaped the mudslides.

Take a moment to click on the link at the posting below and meditate on the photo of that Pale Blue Dot. Can we all agree that we care about the world's children, at least?
UPDATED: The Senate has finally passed a compromise version of the contentious Combatting Autism Act.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Think About It

A big, sweet, cosmic shimmy to Mike's Blog for this photo of earth.

I don't believe that the earth is, or needs to be, a "privileged planet." We're a pull-ourselves-up-by-our-solarsystem-straps kind of deal.

That's good enough for me.

Minnesota is the Healthiest State for 4th Straight Year

What can I say? Despite the harsh, cold winters (and the searingly hot summers, don't forget those--we aren't camping out in igloos year-round), this is a fine state in which to live, and I'm proud and grateful that Minnesota was listed as the healthiest state for the fourth straight year.

And by the way, "Kansas was also noteworthy for a low rate of uninsured, smoking and incidence of infectious disease, the report said."

However, the United States lags globally among other developed nations. When are we going to do something about this? Isn't it embarassing? Doesn't this concern people? I want all Americans to enjoy the quality of life that we have here in Minnesota, and I want to see things improve here as well.

You can view the rankings here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chavez Wins Re-election

Hugo Chavez is re-elected in Venezuela.

I must say that while I sympathized with Chavez during the 2002 coup attempt and approve of using oil profits to help the poor, he has made me nervous in recent months. Ties with Iran and Fidel Castro; drum-banging about an imminent U.S. invasion (it seems that the Pentagon has some plans to invade Venezuela, but the Pentagon probably has "plans" to invade every nation on the earth); calling Bush a "devil" (I'm no fan of Bush but there is no literal Satan and anyway, Bush is too incompetent to be him).

However, the people of Venezuela have spoken. I guess we'll have to see what happens now.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Mommy Burns In Hell"

A parody of those horrible Jack Chick tracts.

(Shimmies to Christ on the Crapper for clippin' my angel wings)

UPDATED: Some self parody by ole Jack Chickie Babe.