Sunday, May 19, 2013

Theology in the Style of Gilbert and Sullivan

There are two groups of people, diametrically opposed, who are remarkably similar to one another in a number of ways, including their capacity to annoy me. These groups are theists who claim moral superiority solely on the basis of their belief, and atheists who claim intellectual superiority solely on the basis of their non-belief.

Society has done a pretty good job of beating down the first group, to the point where their most visible representatives are 40 idiots in Kansas. There is no end to the publicity that these people receive, even though they are so few in number that two short buses could carry all of them at once.

On the other hand, we have the evangelical atheists. Since you're reading this online and the Internet is their natural habitat, I'm sure you've come across at least a few of these people. They're the ones who declare, full of faith in their own superiority, that religious people are stupid. They'll post updates on the latest antics of the aforementioned 40 idiots in Kansas, trying to smear all theists with the actions of just a few. They'll compare the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust, even though the Spanish Inquisition killed maybe 5,000 people over the course of 260 years (meaning they executed fewer people on average than the Texas criminal justice system has over the past few decades) while the Nazis killed around ten million in six years if you count Soviet prisoners of war. They'll claim that all wars are caused by religion, conveniently omitting both world wars and the handful of Chinese dynastic civil wars that get basically no attention in the English speaking world but several of which had death tolls above ten million. None of those matter, because to them, all warfare stems from religious belief, and if you believe in God then you are both stupid and culpable for whatever evil they feel like attributing to religion today. It is not enough for them not to believe; you shouldn't believe either, and they proselytize aggressively.

Inspired by the faithful missionaries from the church of non-belief, I wrote some lyrics for the Major-General's Song from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance:

He is the very model of a modern cyber atheist
Who claims he's packing logic but is just another dogmatist
Claiming that something's missing from the infinite expanse of space
Requires understanding that we simply don't have of the place
He's making claims while lacking any scientific evidence
Just like the fundamentalist who claims all things are providence
Now if you're an agnostic I would say that's justifiable
Consistent with just making claims from evidence available

Now I would count myself among those logical agnostic guys
If I had not had some experience showing contrariwise
If I ignored that evidence I'd be a crappy scientist
Just like the very model of a modern cyber atheist

Monday, May 6, 2013

Poetry Dump

One of my favorite verse forms is the double dactyl, sometimes called a "higgledy piggledy." It's got a rather long list of rules and follows a rigid meter, but it's very satisfying to write one because it's so challenging. Incidentally, the strict rules regarding what content goes in each line combined with the meter makes a double dactyl very easy to memorize. Here are a few of them that I have written, which are being posted again as cultural icons for posterity to cherish. You're welcome, posterity, now get off my lawn.

This one was comparing different class setups in Torchlight 2, because video game forums are appropriate venues for difficult poetry:

Clickety clickety
Glaive throwing Outlander
Aiming is optional
Hits like a truck

Marksmen are burdened with
Damage per second and
Usually suck

While "usually" technically has four syllables, the "al" in words ending with "-ally" is typically (example!) skipped when the word is spoken in my dialect, so it sounds right. If you speak a dialect where "usually" has four syllables, I maintain that you are Doing It Wrong, and you probably have a wide and shameful array of vices and character flaws.

The next poem was about Planetside 2, an online friendly fire and vehicular manslaughter simulator:

Infantry Infantry
Food for artillery
Speed bumps for teammates who
Hit them and run

Corpses accumulate
Playing as Medic my
Job's never done

Here's one I wrote about Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion:

Higgledy piggledy
Pater Familias
Misses his wife so he
Wants to be Tang

Eagerly instigates
Sending humanity
Out with a bang

There is some lingo in there, but it's ok if you're not familiar with the show and don't understand it; just take my word for it that this is terribly clever and you should be impressed. Nobody really understands Evangelion anyway.

Here's one for history; it's about Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, famous Turk-stomper and generally not a very fun guy to be around:

Stabbity stabbity
Patronym "Dracula"
Vlad the Impaler was
Not a nice man

Widely renowned for his
Rather than meet with him
Run if you can

This one is highly inappropriate, and I should be ashamed of myself:

Giggity giggity
Cloistered degenerate
Pens innuendos of
Dactylic kind

Playing with words somewhat
Heedless of warnings they'll
Make him go blind

This one is probably my favorite:

Higgledy piggledy
Hero of history
Died temporarily
When it was time

Posthumous victory
Jesus or Conan or
Optimus Prime

You have my apologies for unmarked spoilers for Conan the Barbarian (1982), Transformers: The Movie (1986), and the first four books of the New Testament (1st century AD).