Monday, February 20, 2006
In recent times, I've found that there are just way too many TV shows of good quality to keep track of. Even with our handy-dandy DVR, I don't have time to watch all the good shows that are out there. I LOVE a good story, and dramatic story lines that are character driven really work on me. I think it's because I'm easily intrigued, and any mystery or unanswered question in a show will get me hooked. That's why I liked the X-files, and was the only person I know who stuck with it to the very last episode, only to be disappointed by all the questions left unanswered.
Now I am hooked on LOST. It's great because it is very character driven (each episode focuses on one character and reveals something interesting about their past), and there are tons of mysteries to be explored and discussed. I hope that it doesn't get bad like the X-files did, or like Alias has. So far, the writers have done a good job of satisfying us with some answers, but always leaving enough unanswered to keep us intrigued.
Anyway, the last few times I've seen my friend Phil, I'd tell him how cool Lost is, and he'd say yeah that's great, but 24. . . now there's a cool show. I never really got into that show, but had always heard great things. So today I busted through the first 5 or so hours of the current series of 24 (thank you DVR, for having roved and recorded them for the past month). Now I'm hooked on that show.
Making a real time show really seems like a good idea, and I wonder if it has ever been done before. I'll bet it has, but I don't know about a predecessor. It sort of ensures that the show can't be canceled mid-season, since one season is essentially a single 24-part episode.
My favorite character so far: Chloe. She's so surly and bitter! Reg and I discovered that her character is equivalent to Napoleon Dynamite. Every time someone tells her to do something she replies with something like "Fine!" or "I'm already working on it! . . . GOD!"
Try it! watch an episode, and whatever line she just said, pretend that Napoleon Dynamite just said it. It should have the same effect.
Example from a recent episode:
Spencer: "I need your help to get this signal decoded. . ."
Chloe: "I don't have time for your crap! Just get it done! God!"
Spencer: "You know, I don't care that you are both my lover AND my boss. . . NO ONE talks to me that way!"
Chloe: "Oh really? Too bad I just did!" (Touche Napoleon. . . I mean Chloe.)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Politics. . . sigh. . .
Sorry to intrude on my usually apolitical posts with a political one, but this has me a bit miffed.
Slashdot has collected the major source material here. Read the articles yourself if you are interested. The text below is my own summary and rant.
Those who know me well know that I am not a fan of the Bush administration. I think the man himself is not very bright, his policies de-emphasize science and the natural environment, he over-emphasizes religion and lets it drive his policies too much, and his administration bungled us into the Iraq war. All of these issues are big problems in and of themselves, and have been argued and discussed for countless hours in countless forums. The one I’m miffed about right now is his de-emphasis on science, mixed with political cronyism. Here’s what happened:
George Deutsch, a 24 year old college dropout, was appointed by the Bush administration to be in charge of astrophysics content editing for web pages intended for middle school age readers. He instructed a web programmer to place the word “theory” after every mention of the Big Bang on some of NASA’s sights, because he felt that without the extra word it would be implied that the Big Bang was fact. He wanted to inform the public that intelligent design is “the other side of the debate”, going on to say:
[The Big Bang is] "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
Well, he’s technically right that the Big Bang theory is not proven fact. . . BUT NEITHER IS ANYTHING INFERRED BY SCIENCE! This is an unfortunate result of scientific vocabulary which the American public really needs to understand: A scientific “theory” is an explanation of nature that has been supported by repeated experiment and observation. It is the highest level of certainty in science. There is nothing higher. You start out with a “hypothesis” (a proposed explanation of some natural phenomenon) then test it using experimentation. You get some results, make a few conclusions about how good the test was and what it says about your hypothesis. . . and then you test it again. . . and again. . . and again. Others perform more tests trying to disprove the hypothesis. Science is performed by trying to disprove things, and those ideas that have yet to be disproved after many experiments are called theories.
In science, “theory” is synonymous with “law”. The law of gravity and the theory of gravity mean exactly the same thing. So yes, the Big Bang is a theory, as are natural selection, gravity, relativity, and plate tectonics. Each of these has been supported time and time again by experiment, and has yet to be shot down with evidence, not for lack of trying. None of the theories listed above are controversial in the scientific community.
I expect that the majority of people attacking evolution as “just a theory”, do not understand the scientific method, and it is partially the fault of scientists for not making the definition more clear to the public. That’s another story, though.
Anyway, the guy had been appointed to this job as a reward for working so hard for the Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection campaign. The New York Times broke this story on Saturday. By today (Feb 8th), Deutsch had resigned.
Oh yeah, I mentioned that Deutsch was a college dropout. . . The original NYT story stated that he was a Journalism graduate of Texas A&M. It turns out he never finished his degree. . . he dropped out to work full time on the Bush re-election campaign. This was discovered by an intrepid scientific activist over at Oxford, who had recently graduated from Texas A&M himself. Check out his blog.. The point is that this young man was obviously not qualified to be editing astrophysics content on NASA web pages. I don’t think that Journalism students are required to take many courses in science.
What? An unqualified person appointed to an influential position out of political cronyism by the Bush administration? Where have we heard that before? COUGH (FEMA). . . AHEM (Katrina). . . cough cough. Ahem. Excuse me.
The sad part is that this is just a smaller part of a larger issue, which is that various other Bush appointees in the NASA Public Affairs office have been attempting to censor NASA scientists, especially those attempting to explain their results on climate change to the general public. See article.
Ugh. Okay. I’m done ranting for now.