Y2 A-Okay

y2k

 

Y2 A-Okay

Nothing happened, and ev’rybody laughed
The calendar had clicked all four digits over
With not a single meltdown or mem’ry overdraft
Indeed, the new Millennium was very much in clover
We ridiculed the doomsayers, tarred and feathered verbally,
And claimed we’d never for a second fallen for their con –
Our tech was indestructible, whatever their hyperbole,
And got on with our daily lives as if the sun still shone.
And the calendars clicked, and on we went,
All thanks to the graft of the geeks we smear –
The lack of excitement their greatest testament.
We’re welcome.  Happy new year.

 

 

The Counting Carol

census
Sketch of the bas relief on the Altar of Domitius, showing different stages of a census (the original is one long strip, here split in two.  Judging from the armour, it likely dates from just before the Marian Reforms of 9894 HE.

 

 

sketch

 

The Counting Carol

[parts in italics are sung by all.]

The Romans go from house to house,
Just counting –
The Romans go from house to house
To count each man and dog and mouse,
And grub and flea and bug and louse,
In city, plain and mountain.
And when they knock upon our door
To tally up our stock and store,
Then what shall be our docket score ?
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, I hear them knocking…

I count twelve notes that make a scale.
So one last time, let us regale !
Twelve are the jurors, twelve are the scribes,
Twelve are the inches and twelve are the tribes,
And after a twelvemonth’s high society,
            Then twelve are the steps to dry sobriety.

Eleven players form a team,
Be they ladies, be they gents.

Ten is the base of our number sense,
Where digits get a neighbour.

Nine are the months of labour,
From conception through to birth.

Eight the planets, like the Earth,
Orbiting the Sun we are.

Seven diff’rent grades of star –
Oh be a fine girl, kiss me !  [/Oh be a fine guy, kiss me !]

Six the kingdoms of life we see –
Do kings play chess on fine green silk ?

Five is the hour we harvest the milk,
Five, five per day to thrive !
Five are my fingers, five are my toes,
Five is the starfish and five is the rose.
A hedgerow rose ?
Well, I suppose.
There’s always five on one of those.
Five are the petals and the leaves she grows,
            Attracting the bees and attracting the nose.

Four are the forces, I propose,
Forces nature shall have it be –
Electromagnetic and gravity,
And the strong and the weak attraction.

Three each science branch or faction –
Bio, chemo and physio learning.
Three the dimensions through which we’re turning,
And three the hands on my watch tell time.

Two is the first and smallest prime,
Two is the first of the even-kind.
Two, oh two, you’re one behind,
            You’re second-best at bestest.

And then came one, and so we rest –
We’ve counted each and ev’ry guest.
For one is one, the last and first,
            The very best, the very worst.
            For one is one, is most perverse –
            The all-enclosing universe.

 

 

This is intended to be a cumulitive carol, like Green Grow The Rushes, Oh or that other one whose name I can’t recall.  It starts from 1 and works its way upto 12, with cut-down verses to speed things along (they’re only sung in full when they’re introduced and on the final time.  Thus the penultimate verse is like this:

 

 

The Romans go from house to house,
Just counting –
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, [knock knock]
But hark, I hear them knocking…

Eleven players form a team,
Be they ladies, be they gents.

Ten is the base of our number sense,
Where digits get a neighbour.

Nine are the months of labour,
From conception through to birth.

Eight the planets, like the Earth,
Orbiting the Sun we are.

Seven diff’rent grades of star –
Oh be a fine girl, kiss me !  [/Oh be a fine guy, kiss me !]

Six  the kingdoms of life we see –
Do kings play chess on fine green silk ?

Five is the hour we harvest the milk,
Five, five per day to thrive !

Four are the forces, I propose,
            With the strong and the weak attraction.

Three each science branch or faction,
            And three the hands on my watch tell time.

Two is the first and smallest prime,
            Two is the first of the even-kind.

And then came one, and so we rest –
            We’ve counted each and ev’ry guest.

 

 

Binary Error

binary

 

Binary Error

My soul is just software –
An algorithm, a sub-routine,
A program that is self-aware,
Yet coded into ev’ry gene.
A viral meme, a blinking light,
A data-stream, a dancing sprite,
This neural net that runs my thoughts
Is nothing more than ones and noughts.

My soul is just software,
Processing through my cerebral RAM,
Buffering often and cluttered with spam,
A self-written program to tell me ‘I am’ –
This ghost in the thinking-machine
Is just a bug in the wiring,
Is just a random mis-firing,
A one where a nought should have been.

 

 

Fear & Statistics

cobbles

 

Fear & Statistics

Have you heard how crime is falling,
Muggings at an all-time low ?
Murders, rapes, are miniscule
Compared with fifty years ago.
So when you’re walking back tonight,
The odds are very much in favour
Of you getting home alright.

So when the shadows rustle
And your heartbeats dance a jitterbug,
You’re almost surely not about
To face a psycho or a thug.
The cold wind sighs, the lone fox yelps,
But rest assured you’re probably okay –
I hope that helps.

 

 

Genesis – Chapter 1, Version 2

pillers
The Pillers of Creation by NASA

 

Genesis – Chapter 1, Version 2

In the Beginning there came forth the bursting,
With ev’rything rushing from ev’rything else
And which is still pushing on all things today,
Though no-one can feel this occur.

Then came the clouds that would slowly grow bigger
By drawing in other clouds, adding their bulk,
And the bigger they got, so the stronger they drew –
For all things attract and concur.

Then the clouds shrank, but not in their weight,
Till they’re thicker than stone and they’re thicker than gold –
Their centres grew hotter and started to burn,
And that is how stars were begun.

And in with the stars came there light and came heat,
And those parts of clouds still left over became
The planets that circle them, round and around.
And thus, although later, our Sun.

A ball of great fire, a sibling to stars,
But much, so much closer – with planets with moons
All smaller by far than the Sun at their centre.
And each, not a disc, but a ball.

And the third planet out – why, here lies the Earth !
In its earliest days, so another young planet
Collided, and flung out much debris and rock,
And the Moon was thus formed from it all.

The Earth was still hot, with no water upon –
But one day it started to rain, and to rain,
And to rain, until leaving its surface entire
Now covered by one endless tide.

And the seafloor was cracking up, carving out plates –
Floating around on the runny, deep rock,
Barging around, bringing quakes and volcanoes –
So slow, yet relentless their slide.

This caused for the granite to well from beneath –
Far tougher than seabed, this new kind of rock
Would form up the heart of the massive landmasses
That rose on up out of the sea.

Life in that ocean was also beginning –
So tiny and simple, and so it remained.
But ev’ry new offspring was just slightly diff’rent
And ev’ry slight diff’rence was key.

The better did better, the lesser did less,
The better spawned greater, and so did their young.
So slowly life changed into myriad forms.
Then life got much bigger and complex.

For came there a time when these tiny lone beings
Did better by working together, by losing
Their selfhood – to building a single large creature.
And some gave up budding, for sex.

Some became plants, who could not move themselves –
And some became animals – these ones, they could.
So many animals, so many strategies –
Hard shells and soft shells and backbones and more.

Shellfish were rampant, they’re moment had come.
Many would die out, they did not survive,
While others still thrive – and small is the diff’rence.
They filled all the sea from the waves to the floor

The first on the land were the plants on the beaches,
Spreading thence over the virgin terrain,
And bugs were soon following, creeping and flying,
As coal was creating from dead tree and fern.

The fish had grown out of a wormlike beginning.
Some pulled themselves out of the water with fins,
At first only briefly, then longer and longer,
Until came the time when they didn’t return.

Unlike the insects, these creatures grew larger,
And larger, and larger, and ever more so.
But when the Earth changed, they could not survive it –
Except for the birds, who flew on.

Now came to prominence more fish-descendants,
Who bore their young live and who nursed them with milk –
They filled up the landscape the giants had quitted,
But stones still remain of those gone.

Some were the monkeys, who lived in the trees,
And some had grown larger, and some had come down,
And walked on their hind-legs, and upright, and tall –
These were the humans.  So now you all know.

And all this had taken so many years, many.
More than a thousandfold thousand of lifetimes.
And still it continues today, and tomorrow –
And so days will come, then, and so days will go.

But all that I tell you is not the whole tale.
Parts have been left out that need to be told
Parts to be sought out, to draw back the veil
And parts yet to happen, that wait to unfold.

 

 

Doublelife

bacteria
Cell to Cell by Maria Cobo, using live bacteria as paint.

 

Doublelife

Hey kids, here’s fun to boggle your mind:
Take a bacterium, brainless and blind –
Now, a single-celled critter is never alone,
When three-times-an-hour it buds off a clone,
And each twin is twinning and growing the brood,
(As long as it’s warm and there’s plenty of food).

And so, in fourteen hours or so,
That single bacillus will grow
To fill a cubic millimetre –
After twenty, there’s a litre –
And in one day, a bathtub’s-worth
Of constant twenty-minute births.
That’s loads of germs from hardly any –
Two-and-twenty-one zeros-many !

But don’t stop now, let’s let them grow:
And in another day or so
They’ve reach the size of planet Earth,
And soon they match the Sun’s great girth,
And long before the third day’s out
They stand a cubic light-year stout.

And that, dear children, clearly shows
How statisticians lie and cheat
For while their figures all add up,
The real world is never neat.
They think we’ll never notice how
Their precious model’s skewed,
By casually just poofing up
An infinite amount of food.
And how do bugs within the ball
Increase in size where there’s no space ?
And never mind their gravity,
Of which we find no trace.

The lesson we should really learn
From all they get so wrong,
Is how such exponential growth
Can never grow for long.

 

 

Superheavies

new elements

Superheavies

Smashing atoms into atoms,
Gee, that looks like fun !
And easy-peasy with the lightest ones –
Just ask the Sun.
But when they get more bloated,
It gets hard to make them kiss –
They should be bigger targets,
But incredibly – they miss !

Or else they break each other up,
They fizz instead of fuse –
But smash and smash and smash again,
And finally, they’ll schmooz.
Just one or two or half-a-dozen
Made in once, we think,
Before they break apart again
In quicker than a blink.

But then…but there’s a secret doubt
That lingers round the lab –
For did we really, truly make ’em
With our smash and grab ?
Was all of that momentum dissipated
From each core
Before they spat some neutrons out
And were themselves no more ?

Was the Strong Force strong and forceful
In all nuclei
For that thousanth of a second
That it took each fluke to die ?
And have they really earned their place
Upon the sacred Table,
Without a single isotope between them
Pure and stable ?

And yet, who gets to say what form
An atom occupies ?
And must they hang on long enough
To boil or oxidise ?
It looks as if this argument
Is set to run and run…
But smashing atoms into atoms ?
Gee, that looks like fun !