Dracil’s BlogJournal

May 5, 2009

Stupid question-dodging Republicans and conservatives

First up, we have Mike Pence spending 5 minutes weaving left and right to avoid answering the question.

Then we have Kevin James yell at the top of his voice for another 5 mintues refusing to answer the question before finally slipping up and saying he didn’t know.

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May 22, 2008

Injunction against Expelled continues

Wikinews and AP

Key points:

EMI filed its own separate lawsuit against Premise in a New York state court alleging that Premise’s usage of the song is harming EMI’s ability to license “Imagine,” which has only been licensed in one film (The Killing Fields).

In court, Judge Richard Lowe, according to the Wall Street Journal, “seemed skeptical” about Falzone’s arguments. Lowe asked Falzone why the film’s producers did not read the lyrics to the song or flash the lyrics on the screen. Lawyers also pointed out that Premise Media licensed all other music in the film except for Lennon’s song.

So, they’ll probably just make them remove that segment of the movie and/or make them pay a bunch of money.  I don’t think they’ll really prevent the film from being shown in Canada or distributed on DVD.

May 21, 2008

Chicken gives birth to gecko

Ok, that’s oversimplifying it. But imagine the surprise if you cracked open a chicken egg for dinner and found a dead gecko inside.

No no, this isn’t the holy grail that Creationists have been asking for as proof of evolution (which would actually disprove evolution if found). Nor is this the result of some mad scientist’s experiment. The truth is much more… well, not exactly mundane. The lizard crawled up the chicken’s cloaca and into the oviducts where it became an egg.

As Pharyngula puts it, “I don’t know about you, but a system that muddles excretion with reproduction and that allows random lizards to crawl up your butt and squat in your oviduct doesn’t sound like great engineering to me.”

Edit: deneb7 suggested that maybe the hen was mating, and when the cloaca inverted to suck up the sperm, it sucked up the gecko along with it.  As for why an egg hen would be with a rooster, “They did it secretly when the farmer’s asleep :p”

May 19, 2008

Expelled Weekend Performance: Week 5

This will be my last weekly update on Expelled’s theater performance. At this point, it’s like watching a gazelle with its throat ripped out bleeding to death. They should just shoot it. So the next update will probably be a post-mortem. Last week’s numbers are here.

Number of theaters: 210 (-192)
Weekend gross revenue: $102,690 (-$226,146)
Weekend rank: #30 (-9)
Weekend revenue/screen: $489 (-$329)

Week 1: $3,902,920 ($932,072 weekdays total)
Week 2: $2,032,032 ($637,092 weekdays total)
Week 3: $971,048 ($292,744 weekdays total)
Week 4: $490,439 ($161,603 weekdays total)
Week 5: $102,690 + weekdays revenue

May 13, 2008

West Virginia, Education, Clinton, and Creationists

Here’s an interesting tidbit.

Census Bureau and other government data show nearly 18 percent of West Virginians live below the poverty line and roughly 74 percent of the state’s population makes less than $50,000 a year. Put another way, West Virginia ranked 50th among the states in household income and 48th in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma.

In addition to that, West Virginia ranks last for people with college degrees at 15.9%, a full 3.1% below the next lowest (Arkansas).

Also, someone on the Penny Arcade forums looked up some county statistics.

Starr County, Texas- highest % with no high school diploma- voted for Clinton 83-16.
Douglas County, Colorado- lowest %, same stat- voted Obama 63-37

I don’t think I can really say anything else without basically insulting the general Clinton demographic. :P

Though I will add that Clinton’s demographic also tends to be Creationists.

May 11, 2008

Expelled Weekend Performance: Week 4

Edit: Updated with actual numbers.  Gross revenue went up by $26,836, but its rank dropped an additional 3 places.

It’s time for yet another update on Expelled’s number. Again, I will compare with last week using preliminary numbers first and update when the actual numbers are released on Monday.

Number of theaters: 402 (-254)
Weekend gross revenue: $328,836 (-$349,468)
Weekend rank: #21 (-6)
Weekend revenue/screen: $818 (-$283)

No changes with ratings again.  Instead, here are what it has earned by week.

Week 1: $3,902,920 ($932,072 weekdays total)
Week 2: $2,032,032 ($637,092 weekdays total)
Week 3: $971,048 ($292,744 weekdays total)
Week 4: $328,836 + weekdays revenue

At this rate, it may only reach about $8m total box office (I had estimated it reaching $9m last week)

Not a good sign considering that the judge ordered the defendants to stop distributing the film while the trial is still proceeding.

May 9, 2008

Ken Miller criticizes Expelled

Ken Miller, a Catholic biology professor at Brown University, has actually written an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe.

Much of this has already been said before, but it certainly helps to have one of the most prominent people in this debate (he was a witness for the evolution side at the Dover Trial) come out and speak out against Expelled.  Naturally, the producers of Expelled don’t like him, even before this piece:

The movie also uses interviews with avowed atheists like Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” to argue that scientific establishment is vehemently anti-God. Never mind that 40 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science profess belief in a personal God. Stein, avoiding these 50,000 people, tells viewers that “Darwinists” don’t allow scientists to even think of God.

Puzzled, the editors of Scientific American asked Mark Mathis, the film’s co-producer, why he and Stein didn’t interview such people, like Francis Collins (head of the Human Genome Project), Francisco Ayala, or myself. Mathis cited me by name, saying “Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily.” In other words, showing a scientist who accepts both God and evolution would have confused their story line.

Fascinating how Creationist’s idea of “teaching the controversy” means not showing things that would break their entire argument, isn’t it?

Since every paragraph of the piece brings up a good point against Expelled, it would be rather pointless to try quoting them or I’d end up just pasting the entire article here, so I’ll just leave it with the last paragraph.

“Expelled” is a shoddy piece of propaganda that props up the failures of Intelligent Design by playing the victim card. It deceives its audiences, slanders the scientific community, and contributes mightily to a climate of hostility to science itself. Stein is doing nothing less than helping turn a generation of American youth away from science. If we actually come to believe that science leads to murder, then we deserve to lose world leadership in science. In that sense, the word “expelled” may have a different and more tragic connotation for our country than Stein intended.

Your Inner Fish

Filed under: Controversy, evolution, Reviews — Tags: , , , , — dracil @ 1:02 am

This is currently the best-selling book on Amazon in two different Evolution categories and Paleontology, and #554 overall at the moment.  Probably for good reason.  It’s written by Neil Shubin, one of the discoverers of the famous Tiktaalik.

The book isn’t about the Tiktaalik though, whose discovery is summarized in the first chapter.  Instead, it is used as a lead-in to describe the different ways that humans are similar to other animals, how this our structures evolved from these more primitive structures, and what effect that has on humans.

One of the nice things is how he describes the myriad of predictions scientists have made based on evolutionary theory, and how those predictions were all validated.  You can definitely learn a lot of things from this book, like how some of the bones in our ears are essentially modified fish and reptile jaw bones, and we can see this change through the fossil records.  Sometimes the imperfect nature of evolution leads to a flaws our body now have, like hiccups, which is because of our shared history with tadpoles (they need to inhale sharply and then close the glottis to prevent water from going in).

The book does become rather technical at times, but it should still be fairly readable for those without a biology background.  It was a pleasant surprise seeing some terms that I had completely forgotten about, such as the sonic hedgehog.

It’s a good book for those who simply want to gain a deeper understanding of their own bodies.  Also, while the book deals strictly with evolution, all the examples are a pretty heavy blow to Creationist claims that there is no evidence for evolution.  Nor can the examples be used to support an Intelligent Designer without also making this Intelligent Designer incredibly incompetent for being so inefficient and introducing so many flaws.  On the other hand, these flaws would make perfect sense in the evolutionary context of our inner fish.

May 7, 2008

Evolution: The Musical! premiere

I actually completely forgot about it. It wasn’t until I was cleaning out my wallet that I noticed the ticket. Oops. Of course, I also didn’t remember where it was at. Rushed back home (was almost there anyway), then rushed back out. I was 20 minutes late, which wasn’t too bad.

They were asking people from the audience to come up and demonstrate their special talents. Blah. Then they asked for someone called Gabriel because they wanted to show their earlier works, one of which was about Gabriel (as in the angel from the Bible).

The actual one they showed isn’t on Youtube, but it’s available on their main site called Angel in the Outfield. If you’re lazy and just want a quick Youtube video, here’s one.

You can check out other stuff on the their site.

After that, one of the guys dressed up as Satan and asked people to come up and answer questions about their lives and see if they’re going to Hell. I think most people decided they would and were just saying yes or coming up with stuff. Only the first person kinda told the truth and actually didn’t go to Hell. :P

Their second video was Jelly Donut which is the following two videos:

They actually had Jelly Donut go up on stage after that and do some songs. There was one audience participation song about masturbation. Say mmm-mmm if you masturbate once a month, oo-oui if you do it twice a week, He-ey! if you do it every day, and basically yell out NoNoh-NoNoNoNoNo if you don’t masturbate ever. I think only one person in the audience said No. :P Quite a few actually said something for the others and they joked about the audience telling total strangers about their masturbation habits. Aside from the topic, the song was pretty catchy. Some people were dancing to it.

Their second video was some claymation they did, which was actually kinda funny (it’s NQSFW though)

There may have been something else, but I don’t remember, but after that was the main event of the night. The 38-minute long musical wasn’t bad. Well, it sort of was, but I liked some of the songs too. Definitely very cheesy. It’s basically one of those love stories between two warring factions (The Blesseds, who descended from Adam and Eve, and the Beasties, who evolved from primates).

After that, there was some Q&A with the people involved in the film. The girl who played the leader of the Beasties sounded pretty drunk. :P

All in all… this was definitely not my normal type of crowd or place (it’s a bar!). What is it with me and bars these days? I think it’s good I went alone, as I don’t think this was something most of my friends could probably stand (I probably have the crudest humor among my friends, and even this was crude for me, so…)

May 4, 2008

Expelled’s Performance: Weekend 3

Edit: Post has been updated with actual weekend numbers

Here are preliminary changes from last week based on estimates. This post will be updated on Monday afternoon when the actual numbers are out.

Number of theaters: 656 (-385)
Weekend gross revenue: $678,304 (-$716,636)
Weekend rank: #15 (-2)
Weekend revenue/screen: $1034 (-$306)
Rotten Tomatoes Critical Rating: 9% (3/33) (no change)
Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics Rating: 0% (0/13) (no change)
Rotten Tomatoes Community Rating: 50% (366 votes) (no change)
IMDB rating: 3.7/10 (3353 votes) (no change)
Boxofficemojo rating: B- (363 votes) (no change)
Yahoo movies community rating: B- (4000 votes) (no change)
Yahoo critics rating: N/A (None!)

One of the things that should catch your attention is that it’s lost over 1/3 of its theaters, and its average weekend revenue/theater also dropped (which actually isn’t that uncommon). At this rate, it’s unlikely to reach $10m. With production cost figures between $3.5-$5m and all the ads they bought for it on TV, it’s still unknown if they will actually break even from the just the box office, especially given that theaters take a share of the revenue as well. But it’s possible they will make it back from DVD sales, assuming they don’t end up simply giving a big chunk of them away again (as they are doing with schools by bribing them with $5-$10/movie ticket)

It did worse than the estimates again, dropping from $684,000 gross to $678,304, which put it in 15th place instead of 14th, and the average/theater went down by an extra $8.

The other striking thing is that its ratings have pretty much stabilized across the board and is unlikely to change significantly in the future.

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