Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nova: Judgement Day

So I had been looking forward to this for some time, and man, I was not disappointed. It was fun knowing ahead of time knowing the IDiots were going to get spanked. I knew Judge Jones had used the phrase "breathtaking inanity". I knew that there was lots of divisiveness in Dover during (and probably after) the trial, but I didn't know that people were getting death threats. I didn't know the judged needed 24/7 protection after the ruling either! What loving Christians! The fact that these people feel so insecure in their beliefs so as to make death threats to others over science shows that they themselves don't, or can't, believe the Bible literally...but so desperately want to cling to that notion that they'll do almost anything, apparently, to force that uncritical, blind, belief on others.

And as for the science brought into the trial, Nova gives nice insight into how the case was presented. It was nice to see the creationists get their ass handed to them, and justice was served, although I'm sure they are in no way done wasting the time and money of taxpayers, educators and (worst of all) children. Personally, I think they should have gone after some of the defendants for perjury.

As for the wedge document, I knew about that - and plan on reading the book about the wedge strategy. Nova provided a nice explanation of how creationists "evolved" (ironic, huh?) into ID, with the "cdesign proponentsists" found in drafts in that crazy ID book. I agree with the people over on Pharyngula's comment section - that "cdesign proponentsists" would make a nice t-shirt phrase. I see cdesign proponentsists has already made the urban dictionary.

Ultimately, though, I actually just lost my ire for a lot of the Discovery Institute group that are pushing ID. Now I just feel sorry for them, really. I wasn't familiar with the Fuller guy that Nova had on to talk about ID, but I just really felt bad watching Fuller talk about what he seemed to believe. The stupid, it hurts, but I did feel sorry for the guy. And Behe - hooboy, he must have felt a real sting of shame after admitting, on the stand, that his definition of science would include astrology. That hurt, and again, I just felt sorry for him.

As for the guy who was on the board - I don't feel sorry for him. Perjury for "traditional values" - ouch, the irony hurts! Even after the trial, he was calling the judge an ass. He should feel lucky he didn't have perjury charges. That's serious business.

As for some of the people that started or ended phrases with "I'm a [good] Christian, so...", ugh. Whenever someone starts a sentence like that or ends it with "...because [I'm|we're] Christian(s)" I just know I'm going to hear something outrageously stupid or hateful. So one guy says something along the lines of "As a Christian, I just find the idea of kids being taught evolution deeply offensive". Oh, look, reality offends someone! Boo hoo! Saying that evolution offends you is as deeply stupid as saying that finding out the earth is not flat offends you. Or that finding out that the Earth isn't at the center of the universe offends you.

Hearing people make statements like that offends ME, let me tell you. The downside of free speech is that you also have to hear some terribly stupid opinions from the willingly uninformed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I accidentally saw the remake for this Japanese "horror" movie - it wasn't bad, but it was definitely done as a horror movie. The Japanese original may have been marketed as a horror movie (although I'm not sure how it was pitched to the Japanese public), and it had a few memorable creepy moments, no doubt, but it's really a big comment on technologies and their power to isolate and atomize. And although a slow burner and it could stand to be cut down a bit on length, it will leave a much longer impression on a viewer than the average slasher flick...maybe in an unsettling way, but it's definitely good art by that measure. And I guarantee you will give some shadows and/or stains on the wall a second look after this flick. ;)

I don't know what it is, but there's either been a lot of great Asian cinema in the past few years, or else DVDs are just now being cut for Region 1. Either way, I like it. I've been on a real tear of watching movies from the library in general, and I hope to write up my impressions of a few more of them soon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

IPhones and Laughingstocks

So, when the iphone was introduced, I was probably one of the few people in America who just didn't care. I say "America" because of what Mossberg writes below - a lot of the world didn't understand the buzz over iPhone, either, I'm sure. I was more interested in the Apple Tv, but everyone was tripping over themselves to talk about how Apple's entry into the mobile world is "changing everything". Which I just found puzzling. Oh sure, Apple fans will buy it. And people who fetishize over consumer electronics and other trinkets will buy it and/or chatter about it incessantly.

Here's why I find it puzzling - people who have used the iPhone interface will say "it's just amazing", but almost never really can articulate why. How does a new interface change everything about an experience that's terrible from a consumer level as a whole? And the iPhone actually makes that experience *worse* - by having only one provider, and picking a slow network. Yawn, okay, you can touch your interface and have it do stuff? How about choice of altering it without accidentally bricking it? How about being able to switch providers?

And don't think I'm just some Apple hater. My dad bought one of the first Macs and I remember it fondly. I used it for many a high school paper, and I also used a Mac all the way through university. I own an iPod (my second one, actually), and I've kicked around the idea of getting an OS X machine. I just think a lot of Apple fans uncritically adopt whatever thinking Apple wants them to adopt...and they buy whatever Apple wants them to buy. I overheard one Apple fanboy at work talk, with great fanfare, about something that Leopard adds to the mix, and it's something that Linux has had for well over a decade. From what he was describing, it's called virtual desktops. XGL can even spin the desktops in 3D for a few years, too. I smiled and kept that one to myself, since this person has never been able to speak about Apple in a rational way.

Anyway, it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks that the world of cellphones needs a real shakeup and some real changes. Mossberg, a person who's opinion I value for the most part, has written a great op-ed about the cellphone industry in America, saying that we in America are basically laughingstocks when it comes to the state we're in, and comparing it to Soviet Russia.

Keep your touch interface for now; I want real changes. I've bought the hardware; I'd like to think the phone is *mine*, not the carrier's, and not the manufacturer's. The current state truly is an embarrassing one.

Who knows, when my contract on my Blackberry is up, I may just look around and find that the version of iPhone offered at that time is an attractive one and I just may buy one. But I won't be so brainwashed as to go around saying that Apple has "changed everything".

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rapture - How Biotech Became The New Religion

I've mentioned this before, but I think there are changes on the horizon that are going to make today's "culture wars" over things like stem cells and abortion look like childish pursuits in comparison.

So I've been on a tear trying to catch up on the who, the how, etc, and so have been trying to fit in a few books on transhumanism. This book covers the personalities behind these changes - the people on the fringe, the authors that inspired them, and the people in mainstream science that are on the forefront of manifesting these things.

It tends to jump around a bit more than I'd like, but it does try to cover a lot of territory in just over 200 pages, so that may be why. Given the range trying to be covered, it could have been doubled in size, I think.

Interestingly, the book talks about Venter a lot, and he was just on the Colbert Report this week. Go figure.

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