Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Pigeon In Science And Romance

So last Saturday I drove over to pick up Jennifer.

When I got there she asked if instead of going out to dinner could we stay in, and could I help her daughters with a school science project? I said sure, and the next thing I knew Jenny and the girls were whispering something in Latin and there was a flash of light and a puff of smoke and they transformed me into a pigeon and stuck me into a little high-tech cage with flashing lights and levers and bells and one of the damn levers electrified the floor, but only sometimes, depending on which light was flashing.

Damn punk kids today with their witchcraft and science!

Look, Jennifer snapped a pic:

(Okay, I admit that account is fictionalized, just a little bit. But it’s true to the spirit of many of my nights out. And that picture isn’t really Jenny’s girls, but rather is from the Wikipedia entry about Skinner boxes, what kids today call operant conditioning chambers.)


Pigeons can make sounds but cannot say words
at least real wild pigeons cannot say words
but after scientists get done with them
and they’re not real wild pigeons any more
they might be able to say exactly
what happened what scientists did to them.

Of course they might not want to talk to us.

I mean pigeons won’t want to talk to us.

Scientists almost always want to talk.

Maybe the pigeons will talk to witches
and tell the witches what scientists did.

Kids might pretend to be both scientists
and witches but what do their notebooks say?

Isn’t growing up a bifurcation
at this point at this particular point
for those who are both? Don’t they always choose
consciously to stop or else to not stop
calculating means and deviations
and all manner of other statistics
derived from thousands of mortalities
of animals in their experiments?

The pigeons might not want to talk to us.

Mice, probably, will be out for our blood.

Maybe witches will put in a good word
for the people who tried to separate
statistics from science in their thinking.

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