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This is a poem for the IRAS show of 2006,
heavily based on speeches, events, etc. of that week, so some jokes
will make sense only if you were there (or e-mail me and ask).
The tune is Gilbert and Sullivan's "Modern Major General"
The Modern IRAS Lecturer
by Edward T. Ordman (c) 2006
I am the very model of a modern IRAS lecturer
Just give me sev’ral facts and I’m a very good conjecturer.
By assigning greater purpose to a simplified cosmology
I’m reforming perfect grunge into exalted teleology.
I’ve observed a small eukaryote climb up a glucose gradient,
And measured radiation from an inner earth that’s radiant.
Though my self-organization may require psychoanalysis,
Each fibre of my being can perform auto-catalysis.
I deny the possibility of properties intrinsical
And extrapolate new species using methods non-statistical.
As a function’ly coherent systematical conjecturer,
I am the very model of a modern IRAS lecturer.
I am the very model of a modern IRAS attendee,
I simplify ideas until I fill them with complexity.
I carefully exposit in a manner most improbable
The teleodynamics of the next adjacent possible.
I assign to the word mystery a meaning most mysterious,
Till my beliefs emerge in manner some find deleterious.
I seek in Gaian social groups for paradigm Darwinian
Applicable to feuds between Israel and Palestinian.
I fail to realize that new religions we call Natural
Lack homiletics helpful to those we still think irrational.
Yet since I have so many genes in common with a Pelican,
Find a better attendee than I is something IRAS never can.
I’ve seen the very model of a modern IRAS plenary,
With queries that will carry us at least to our centenary.
Is the Cenozoic Era truly just ideal for Goldilocks?
And if we have no Watchmaker, however will we fix our clocks?
The biosphere, we hear, is very badly non-computable.
Is there a phase transition that will make religion mutable?
Is there a way to quote Descartes but phrase it in the negative?
Will condensed matter theory ever be sold as a sedative?
My own existence opens now from wonder into wondering,
But telling what I wonder of may often seem like blundering.
So when any sense emerges of a type four creativity,
‘Twill be the very subject of a future IRAS Plenary.
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