First Impressions

February 13, 2008

225px-cameron_phillips_in_tscc.jpgLast night I caught the Australian premiere of the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot, and to be honest I’ve got mixed feelings about it.

When I saw the first episode of Serenity for instance, it had me absolutely enthralled. I mean it was just ridiculous. I just kept watching it over and over. And over.

To be fair Serenity was an entirely new concept, so there was a certain amount of surprise value. You know, like that movie your significant other has been bugging you to see, but you’ve put off because you didn’t think you’d like it, but when you finally do see it you are so pleasantly surprised that you drive everyone insane constantly trying to describe how amazed you were by how good it was. Or maybe that’s just me.

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It looks like there might be an end in sight to the Writers Guild of America strike. Yay!

I hope the writers got what they wanted, because if we have learned nothing else from this we have learned that in the absence of intelligent (or for that matter bone stupid) writing, TV loses almost all redeeming qualities, other than the incidental provision of light. Hopefully new episodes of Battlestar and Heroes will save us the nerdier amongst us from the increasingly desperate wave of manifestly writer free reality TV.

I might even feel safe enough to turn the volume back on. Eventually.

Wil Wheaton audio

January 30, 2008

Wil

I think I now understand Phil Plait’s man crush. Wil Wheaton was just at the Pheonix Comicon and there is some audio of him performing an excerpt from his book Happiest Days of Our Lives, and his review of the Star Trek Next Generation episode Justice from TV Squad.

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In response to the Blasphemy Challenge sponsored by the Rational Response Squad, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have decided to challenge two atheists to a debate to prove god’s existence. From this article:

Two Christians are meeting two atheists in a televised debate with the subject the existence of God, and Ray Comfort, a best-selling author and expert on Christian evangelism, says he can prove the existence of the Almighty in his allotted 13 minutes – without mentioning the Bible or faith.

This I have to see.

“We are excited that the network has decided to do this, because we have something very relevant to present,” said Cameron. “Most people think that belief in God is simply a matter of blind faith, and that His existence can’t be proven. We will not only prove that God exists, but as an ex-atheist I’ll show that the issue keeping so many people from believing in God – Darwinian evolution – is completely unscientific. It’s a fairy-tale for grownups.”

Evolution is “unscientific”? This can’t be going anywhere intelligent…

Comfort told WND he’s constantly amazed at “how many respectable men of God say you cannot prove God; that it’s only a matter of faith.”

“I’ve seen atheists backslide when they’ve heard me provide them proof,” he said.

I have audio of Ray Comfort debating the existence of god at an atheist conference. His argument was a bizarre blend of anecdote, personal revelation, scripture as evidence and poorly realised analogy. One could be forgiven for thinking that his strategy was to say stupid things until the atheist’s head exploded from the agonising barrage of wrongness.

“Most people equate atheism with intellectualism,” Comfort said, “but it’s actually an intellectual embarrassment.”

Well, someone here is an embarrassment. I’ll follow this one and keep you posted.

This Sunday I wasted an hour of my life and I’m never going to get it back.

All unsuspecting, I sat down to watch A War On Science, SBS 7.30pm, described in the TV guide as:

(UK) A group of scientists and university professors have become the first in the US to demand the teaching of the controversial theory of “intelligent design”.

Oh Boy.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The use of the word controversial rather than bogus, debunked or refuted should have triggered my bogosity detection systems, but I must have been distracted. Or stupid. Or something.

Anyhow, the documentary was loosly based around the Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover School District trial, presenting Michael Behe and his pro Intelligent Design cohorts in a very credible light. (If anything, they were portrayed as plucky underdogs fighting the nasty and amoral scientific establishment. Thankfully the presenters didn’t actually go so far as to compare them to Gallileo, or I may have been forced to scream in an unmanly fashion.) This was followed by Kenneth Miller refuting the main points of ID, and a couple of short bits with Richard Dawkins.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the documentary basically presented “both sides” as though it was a “he said, she said” debate, badly misrepresenting the relative validity of the two arguments and doing nothing to address the false dichotomy at the core of ID – that failures in the theory of evolution equate to evidence for ID.

I hate this kind of junk. I think it’s very dangerous to partially or poorly explain arguments against creationism (in any of it’s multitudinous flavours). Creationists can say so many wrong things so very quicky, and it takes time and scientific education to refute them. It’s a constant game of catch up and misrepresentations like this just cloud an already muddy issue.

In contrast, for a really well reasoned and systematic refutation of ID, download a copy of Judge Jones’ final decision on the Kitzmiller trial (PDF format). It might look a bit daunting for the first few pages, but it is well worth persevering with.