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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Busy-ness Ahead!

I was anticipating getting some animation done this week, just not the sort I was just handed (y'know, stuff with an actual, rather aggressive deadline). (Details to follow after the weekend, after I know whether or not I can even talk about it.)

Things will be very busy this weekend. But, I hope, the good kind of busy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Creationism Defined

This question popped up over at Skepchick, and I thought it might be useful to know what my operating definitions were whenever I use these terms.

Here they are:

What is creationism?

Creationism is a related set of ideas concerning the origins of the universe, and humanity's place in it, and humanity's relationship with its creator. Creationism has two very distinct usages stemming from this definition: the political (using the capacity of the state to coerce curricula) and the theological (emphasizing the relationship humanity has with a creator). The theological is the less common in usage, especially in debate with regards to science and the incursions science has made in resolving (literally interpreted) mythical matters on the origins of the universe.

What is intelligent design?

Intelligent design is a creationist pseudoscientific political movement which seeks to displace actual science from western culture (per the Wedge Strategy). It has no other coherent definition.

What is theistic evolution?

A type of creationism that is largely apolitical; recognizing that theology is an inadequate tool for exploring the universe, it instead focuses on theologic aspects of humanity, religion, and the relationship humanity has with its creator. Though there are many variations within this category, the basis remains the same: teleological explanations are only acceptable where they do not conflict with science itself (and some would say, therefore, with creation itself).

It is perhaps not surprising that many scientists who are religious subscribe to this variant. It is also probable that it is, in fact, the most common variant (at least in the US.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Nail in the Anti-Semitic Coffin

Perhaps because I apparently don't feel the subject has been hashed to death yet (and I wonder if it ever will be, given the blatant mendacity of creationists), I found this. Once again, Prof. Steve Dutch outmatches my pathetic rhetorical skills, since I was planning a post on precisely this same topic.

Someday, Professor Dutch! (Someday!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

John Scalzi Classics in SF Film...

John Scalzi has some interesting commentary on what constitutes "classic" and "good" films in sf over here.

And sometimes I can see where he's coming from. But, I think, where he's coming from is nowhere anyone really cares to go. I mean, Gojira may not be top-shelf entertainment like, say, His Girl Friday (1940) (and don't let's forget the debt it owes to the Beast From 20,000 Fathoms or King Kong (1933)), but I think his opinion that the Emmerich Godzilla remake is a better movie is absurd. Gojira, unlike Emmerich's effort, is at least watchable. How can it possibly stink more?

Other points are valid enough: the science is suspect in Gojira (something not improved upon at all in the Emmerich Godzilla remake--that "It's a Theropoda Allosaurus" line alone isn't going to be forgotten by me anytime soon). And it's certainly true that not a whole lot of great sf films get made, even considering how young both art forms are.

For my part, most classics in the genre are more overlooked than looked at--and this does reveal just how utterly subjective what a classic is. I hold films like Thing From Another World (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) in much higher regard as Star Wars--and I grew up on Star Wars.

I can accept the fact that classic denotes something that is culturally codified and revered. But I also recognize it's a pretty plastic category, subject to the whims of time, change, social relevance, viewership (number of who rent classic films), and any number of other factors, and is therefore anything classic is going to be anything the viewer regards as, well, classic.

Update: which reminds me. I really need to find a copy of this movie on LaserDisc. (It's a classic!)

_Escherichia coli_ evolves new diets.

Whoa (paper--does anyone have access? I'd be interested in reading thisUpdate: I've got myself a copy now, and am ploughing through it--it's pretty dense, but fascinating!)! Looks like the Talk Origins FAQ will need to be updated! Again!

If you're a creationist, or some other variety of anti-intellectualist who denies reason, dribbles on rationality in the name of conspiracy and/or an anthropocentric religous-worldview that does nothing to advance human understanding of the universe, I have to ask: how can you live in the world, and not be filled with amazement at the power of our own understanding?

This research isn't particularly innovative in and of itself, it's just another example of an elegant experiment, one which also reveals how cool our capacity to understand is--and is additional substantial ammunition to use against denialists. I just read about things like this and recover, every single time, my amazement at the spectacular universe we live in, one which, sadly, includes those who dislike the understanding we are capable of.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Book vs. Game

Book wins.

I'll have that before the MYST game.