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Archives for May, 2007

May 31, 2007

Veggie dino update

Daniel Radosh

Salon is the latest victim of the Creation Museum's confusing display

At the Creation exhibit, two young T. rexes peacefully watch fish swim in a placid pond. Two curly-haired robotic kids play nearby. In any other place, this would be the setup for a massacre. But this pre-Noah's-flood Jurassic Park is benign. The animals are vegetarians and plants don't have thorns.

They're gonna have to change this set up. Don't they care about educating the public?

May 31, 2007

What does Sam Brownback think about evolution?

Daniel Radosh

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Krazy) has an Op-Ed in the New York Times today titled What I think about evolution. It comes after Brownback was one of three candidates who raised his hand during a debate to indicate that he did not believe in evolution, and it is his attempt at sounding reasonable. Sounding reasonable is not Brownback's métier, so let's at least give him credit for the effort.

Unfortunately, this is not Brownback actually being reasonable. Just trying to make himself sound less nutsoid while convincing his base that he still is. "I think it would be helpful to discuss the issue in a bit more detail and with the seriousness it demands," Brownback writes, and then goes on to do the exact opposite. (Not that you need much more detail beyond "yes" when asked if you believe in evolution.)

Brownback begins by noting

The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

Brownback seems to be distancing himself from Young Earth Creationism. According to a recent Newsweek poll 73 percent of evangelicals do believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days "sometime within the last 10,000 years." Note that Brownback doesn't actually say he disagrees with that -- he just says the choice isn't that stark. Still, since his constituents believe it firmly -- and many think it's pretty important -- he ought to be asked point blank.

Throughout the rest of the essay Brownback kicks up a lot of dust about how faith and reason needn't be in conflict -- a statement most people can assent to, despite what Sam Harris would wish. But he does this merely to confuse us so that we don't notice what happens when he gets to his central point, which is this:

The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

This paragraph is a neat piece misdirection for the benefit of the presumably pro-evolution readers of the New York Times with a big wink to the anti-evolution voters. Read it again: one choice is "microevolution -- small changes within a species." The other choice is "an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world." But the second choice is not the alternative to the first choice. The alternative to "microevolution -- small changes within a species" is "macroevolution -- the change of a species over time into another." In other words: evolution. These are real scientific terms, but they are also crucial creationist buzzwords. TalkOrigins has more: "Basically when creationists use 'macroevolution' they mean 'evolution which we object to on theological grounds', and by 'microevolution' they mean 'evolution we either cannot deny, or which is acceptable on theological grounds'." Make no mistake. What Brownback has just said in this essay is that he does not believe that humans -- or any species -- have evolved from previously exisiting species. What he thinks about evolution is: not much.

But he can't be that explicit, because it would undermine the point of condescending to address Times-reading liberal elites, which is to convince them that he's not a wack-job. So instead he goes on to say other things that sound reasonable on the surface.

The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.... I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him."

In his debate with Sam Harris, Andrew Sullivan said something superficially similar:

I believe that God is truth and truth is, by definition, reasonable. Science cannot disprove true faith; because true faith rests on the truth; and science cannot be in ultimate conflict with the truth. So I am perfectly happy to believe in evolution, for example, as the most powerful theory yet devised explaining human history and pre-history.

But Sullivan's meaning is very different. He goes on to say, "I have no fear of what science will tell us about the universe — since God is definitionally the Creator of such a universe; and the meaning of the universe cannot be in conflict with its Creator." Brownback, however, goes on to say that he does fear certain things that science might tell us, and to insist that they be ruled out in advance:

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

We should leave no stone unturned -- except the ones that might have bugs under them. Fossilized bugs! At times Brownback sounds as if he might be endorsing Intelligent Design, but it's equally or more likely that he accepts Old Earth Creationism. Despite his promise to use this space to answer questions, he's only raised them, and I hope some right wing creationist outfit will try to pin him down.

Coming down hard on that final note of "atheistic theology" reveals Brownback's other half-coded message to his fan base. Here's another sort of subtle misdirection he slips in:

Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.

Yes, Sam, your philosophical and theological argument that has nothing to do with evolutionary theory is better addressed by philosophy or theology. As the TalkOrigins has noted of the "random chance" argument, "There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn't understand evolution." Three short paragraphs after saying "we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason," Brownback attempts to do exactly that with this tired straw man. Brownback is posing as a modest believer in theistic evolution -- I accept the evolutionary process as the manner in which God created humans -- while making it quite plain to anyone who knows the code that he means something very different.

More from Liberal Values, Tristero, Panda's Thumb. Dr. X, Friendly Atheist.

May 30, 2007

It's safer to stick with Bible verses. Like Ezekiel 23:20.

Daniel Radosh

makesign1.php.jpg Doree Shafrir has a slide show on the curious history of church signs. Obviously I've been paying some attention to these lately. While the history is sort of interesting, the critical analysis over at Crummy Church Signs is much more fun.

In case you're wondering, here's Ezekiel 23:20. I talked to one Christian comedian who told me, "When people say that their pastor preaches through the Bible, I know they skip stuff." I think this is the kind of thing he was referring to.

I came across that verse over at Slacktivist an evangelical blog whose page-by-page dissection of the first Left Behind book is the single best analysis of that monstrosity ever written. It's also pretty damn funny if you have, oh, three days to kill.

May 30, 2007

Rain On Your Wedding Day Dept.

Daniel Radosh

Correction of the week: "The caption on the photograph accompanying the piece originally misspelled the name of 2006 spelling bee champion Katharine Close."

Vaguely related: I just found this, which is kind of the retarded version of this, which was pretty retarded to begin with (though at least not ten years too late). Oh, and the guys who started College Humor are bajillionaires. Isn't that ironic?

May 30, 2007

The Barack Obama Anti-Caption Contest

Daniel Radosh


Here's the Barack Obama doodle that netted $2,075 in a charity auction. It's a picture of Senators Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein and Ted Kennedy. But what are they saying? You are invited to submit your best (or worst) captions here. A winner may or may not be chosen.

You may also submit captions for any of the other celebrity doodles collected by charitoteer Gillian Anderson for her campaign against neurofibromatosis, whatever that is. If your entry is for a drawing other than Obama's just preface the caption with the name of the celebrity. Or "celebrity." I guess David Duchovny isn't ready to make nice just yet. He gave her a picture done by his kid, Kyd. Wonder how much that fetched?

There's actually a lot of stuff you could tease out of this collection if you were so inclined. Like, did no one draw a penis or a naked lady? You call this doodling? And man, Jay Leno is an asshole, isn't he? It looks like he just mailed in a pre-written autograph he keeps in his office for when the wives of NBC executives stop by. I do like the cartoon by Christian alt-rocker Mat Kearney, though. Certainly better than his music. What gets your attention?

May 29, 2007

Stop snitching

Daniel Radosh

regalx.jpg USA Today reports on a new device that will easily allow movie audiences to "clamp down on disruptions, including cellphone use, talking and gross littering." Just push a button and you can alert managers to problems with the picture or sound, or to assholes in the row behind you. In New York, of course, alerting the manager won't actually get the assholes to shut up, but at least you'll be able to enjoy the fistfight that breaks out when the attempt is made.

One analyst says theater owners are implementing these measures because the DVD experience is so much better these days, "certain people don't go to the movies anymore." As one of those people, I can tell you one thing that's wrong with this device. It's being given only to "customers in Regal's loyalty points program." I don't even know what that is... because I don't go to the movies anymore. My guess is that anyone enrolled in this program is likely to be someone who either makes noise in the theater, or doesn't care if other people do.

Buried at the end of the article is the real reason these devices exist: one of the buttons is for reporting "piracy." No doubt these are being pushed by studios that don't really care what your moviegoing experience is like, as long as they get the money from it.

May 29, 2007

It's funny because it's a fake t-shirt

Daniel Radosh


Other recent finds from The Dirk: The iPlayerPiano; The new improved Yin and Yang; What to do when you can't find your Tupperware lids.

May 28, 2007

A Memorial Day tribute from Team Bush

Daniel Radosh

r3829590006.jpg Burro Hall reminds you what they mean by honoring the troops.

May 28, 2007

Even on Memorial Day, the troops don't support the troops

Daniel Radosh

A solider quoted in today's Times makes a point I'm almost positive I've made here before (though I can't find it now) and that's worth reiterating: "If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy."

This is why any opposition to withdrawal that's based on the "things will get worse" argument is a failure. Yes, things very well may get worse. I hope they won't, but I suspect they will. The real question is: is anything that we're doing in Iraq likely to change that? The answer is clearly, no. We can stay for 5 years, 10, 50 -- at some point we're going to have to leave, and things will get worse. The only difference is that we'll have been there that much longer.

Anyone who says preventing things from getting worse is a reason to stay is obliged to explain how staying will ensure that when we do leave, things will get better. Maybe there is some change in policy that could make that happen, but we're not trying it, and I don't believe this administration (or, frankly, the next one) is capable of coming up with it.

May 28, 2007

They're not laughing with you

Daniel Radosh

junglejamvariant1_m.jpgI'm not going to get sucked in to blogging endlessly about this Creation Museum stuff, but this remark from founder Ken Ham's blog is too funny to pass up.

While the ribbon-cutting ceremony was underway, an evolutionist group opposing AiG flew a banner saying "Defcon says thou shalt not lie." Many of the media reps chuckled when I said that the people responsible for this banner did not believe in the Bible as the absolute authority and didn't believe in the God of the Bible and therefore had no basis for deciding right or wrong, and thus logically could not accuse us of a lie!

Once you understand that this how creationists use the word logically, there's very little more that you need to know.

May 27, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #101

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Help! A young boy started a doughnut on fire!" —LV

"All right, you boys know the drill. It's twenty bucks apiece, don't make a mess on the window, and be careful not to fall. Sorry, Father, no more credit till you pay off your tab. Okay! So who's ready to watch me fuck my wife?!" (Historical factoid: before the internet, if you wanted to watch someone fuck his wife, you had to hang out on a building ledge and it cost $20.) —Ogdred

"Sorry, I'm looking for an astronaut, a judge, and a graphic designer." —TG Gibbon

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #101" »

May 25, 2007

Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes

Daniel Radosh

From two recent reviews of Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great.

"The tangled diversity of faith is, in the event, no obstacle for Hitchens. He knows exactly which varieties of religion need attacking; namely, the whole lot. And if he has left anyone out he would probably like to hear about it so that he can rectify the omission." —The New Yorker

"Yet one person is conspicuously absent from Hitchens's list of religious evil-doers: George W. Bush. Yes, the man who said Jesus is his favorite philosopher "because he changed my heart" and, as governor of Texas, proclaimed June 10 as "Jesus Day," goes unmentioned. How can this be? The explanation has to do with Hitchens's subtitle. If "religion poisons everything," then it must be responsible for most of the evil in the world, since belief of this sort is currently so widespread and pervasive. If a political leader is religious, he or she must be bad, and if he or she is bad, he or she must be religious. This is why Saddam gets slammed for his cynical exploitation of Islam and why Bush, author of the Global War on Terror and the war on Iraq, both of which Hitchens supports, gets a free pass. If he is to be believed, our faith-based President is defending rationalism against religious intolerance. " —The Nation

Continue reading "Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes" »

May 24, 2007

The science here is obscene

Daniel Radosh

So you read about that new Creation Museum, huh? Yeah, it'll be in the book. All I'll say now is that it's way more fascinating (in that surreal wackiness kind of way) than the Times article conveys. My friend Bruno Maddox captured it better in his Discovery column a few months ago.

I'll also say (since I decided it was too wonky to include in my chapter) that the Times writer glosses a little too quickly over the significance of the opening tableau of kids playing near baby T Rexes: "this pastoral scene is a glimpse of the world just after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, in which dinosaurs are still apparently as herbivorous as humans, and all are enjoying a little calm in the days after the fall."

That "apparently" lets Answers in Genesis (the museum's parent company) off the hook just a bit too easily. There is nothing in AiG's loopy but dense and carefully argued theo-science to suggest any post-fall no-death grace period.

A more reasonable conclusion is that AiG went with the kids-and-dinos scene because it looks cool and grabs attention. You heard me right: the creationists actually present bad science for the sake of entertainment. I'm also perplexed by the photo of what appears to be a dino eating an egg in Eden. Maybe it's supposed to be some kind of giant pineapple (things did grow bigger back then because of the biospheric... oh, never mind), but if it is an egg, that would imply that the death of an unborn creature doesn't count! Is AiG secretly pro-abortion?

Yeah, I know you don't care, but in certain circles this is like TPMmuckraker discovering that Alberto Gonzales is projecting a coded message of competence.

Update: Museum boss Ken Ham explains the kids and dinos scene: "There are two animatronic young T. rex dinosaurs and two animatronic children in the waterfall exhibit. The animatronic girl is feeding a squirrel, and the animatronic boy is stirring a stick in a pond. The two animatronic T. rex dinosaurs are near the children but looking in the other direction."

Well, phew!

May 23, 2007

We can be Heroes

Daniel Radosh

Since one of the best films of last year, um, underperformed at the box office, Netflix has apparently taken the brilliant step of trying to fool people into renting it.

Here's the actual cover of the Children of Men DVD.

Here's the image on the movie's Netflix page.

Hmm. That looks familiar.

Yeah, Netflix didn't invent this.A similar poster was used, early on as a teaser for the film. But it is an odd choice to make.

May 22, 2007

Tintin is the new Huckapoo

Daniel Radosh

In the wake of all my Tintin blogging Jim asks, "if I buy one Tintin book, which should it be?"

After some thought I'm going to go with the obvious answer: Tintin in Tibet. Tintin in Tibet is Hergé's masterpiece (that's for you, J). I don't think his artwork was ever better, and certainly his writing wasn't. But I did hesitate just a bit, since it's not exactly typical of the series (slightly more somber and wordy) and it also benefits from some familiarity with the characters. (Also, the Thompson twins aren't in it.)

But then what else could I have chosen? The best of the pure adventure books — Prisoners of the Sun, Red Rackham's Treasure — are continuations of stories that begin in books that, while excellent, are also not the best introductions to the series, being pretty much confined to one location. Red Sea Sharks is great, but a little baroque for a new reader, and Tintin and the Picaros is definitely better once you get to know who everyone is. Flight 714 and was also possibility, but the bottom line is, if you're going to give Tintin one shot it might as well be his best one.

The question is, if you buy two Tintin books, what should the second one be? Probably Seven Crystal Balls, which leads into Prisoners of the Sun. Whatever you do, though, don't buy the 3-in-1 editions. They shrink the pictures too much.

Anyone want to disagree?

If you're a casual Tintin fan, or haven't read the books since you were a kid, I strongly recommend Tintin: The Complete Companion. Drawing on Hergé's personal archives, it reveals his visual source material for every book. You'll gain a whole new appreciation for the work.

Related: Six contemporary cartoonists discuss Hergé's influence.

May 21, 2007

Bill Richardson for Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Daniel Radosh

Maybe you've seen this news video that's going around, about the cop who stole someone's marijuana stash and then ate a tray of brownies and called 911 thinking he was dead. It's pretty funny, I admit. [Hat tip: Gina]

But part of me was annoyed that here's this scene of everybody laughing — even the blowdried newsheads know that there's no serious risk to either health or society in getting really, really high, and don't mind communicating that — and yet the government is still throwing billions of dollars at this non-existant problem. Indeed, if anyone other than a cop had made this call, even leaving aside the fact that he stole the drugs to begin with, he'd likely be in jail right now. Maybe they'd have taken his house too. If you call 911 to report a drug overdose, you can be arrested for possession.

Except in New Mexico, where Gov. Bill Richardson recently signed the first law in the nation prohibiting arrest and prosecution based on evidence “gained as a result of the seeking of medical assistance.”

Related: Bill Richardson makes it official.

Previously: Bill Richardson for Secretary of State.

May 21, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #100

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"The shades aren't working. I can still see everyone we know perishing by flood." —gary

"I've heard that the epic tale of the Great Flood cuts across many cultures and generations, with its roots reaching back to into the mists of ancient lore. I just didn't think it would cut across this week's vacation, that's all." —SK

"Uh-oh. I think I found the two crabs." — Abbie Normal

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #100" »

May 18, 2007

Tintin and the Auteur Theory

Daniel Radosh

My friend Todd Pruzan spotted my recent post about the Tintin films and we got into an IM chat about who should direct what. That led, as these things tend to among super geeks, to each of us composing a list of our dream directors for each book. Here they are with the caveat that we dashed them off pretty quickly, and each of us wanted to change our minds about certain choices after seeing the other's list. My picks are first, followed by Todd's in parentheses. I skipped Congo, which I'm not too familiar with. Todd paired sequels with the same director.

Tintin in the Congo – none (Francis Ford Coppola)
Tintin in America - Curtis Hanson (Jim Jarmusch)
Cigars of the Pharaoh - Steven Spielberg (Pedro Almodovar)
Blue Lotus - Michael Mann (Wong Kar-Wai)
The Broken Ear - Doug Liman (Fernando Meirelles)
The Black Island - Christopher Nolan (Michael Winterbottom)
King Ottokar's Sceptre - Roman Polanski (Steven Soderbergh)
The Crab with the Golden Claws - Mike Newell (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
The Shooting Star - Peter Jackson (Michel Gondry)
Secret of the Unicorn - Steven Soderbergh (Ang Lee)
Red Rackham's Treasure - Werner Herzog (Ang Lee)
The Seven Crystal Balls - Sam Raimi (Peter Jackson)
Prisoners of the Sun - James Cameron (Peter Jackson)
Land of Black Gold - Peter Weir (Martin Scorsese)
Destination Moon - Joss Whedon (Ridley Scott)
Explorers on the Moon - Ridley Scott (Ridley Scott)
The Calculus Affair - Martin Scorsese (The Coen Brothers)
Red Sea Sharks - Quentin Tarantino (Claire Dénis)
Tintin in Tibet - Wong Kar-Wai (Lars von Trier)
Castafiore Emerald - Whit Stillman (Woody Allen)
Flight 714 - Clint Eastwood (David Lynch)
Picaros - Alfonso Cuaron (Alfonso Cuarón)

In case you're wondering, Cuaron doing Picaros was the one that came up in our chat before we started our list, which is why we both picked that. I can't think of a better match. In general I consciously went with more commerical directors. For the most part, these are action films that should be treated that way. But I love Todd's pick of Gondry for Shooting Star and the Coen bros. for Calculus Affair. Also, I hadn't thought of Coppola, but he'd be great for Tintin in America (though the Apocalypse Now allusion in Todd's choice is delicious).

I'm least satisfied with having resorted to Tarantino for Red Sea Sharks. That's the film that gave me the most trouble. I really wanted Robert Altman for Castafiore Emerald but there was a hitch with that. I also considered David O. Russell, but only if we can get Lilly Tomlin to gain 100 pounds to play Bianca Castafiore.

Geek away in the comments.

May 18, 2007

Because what I need is 501 movies in my Netflix queue

Daniel Radosh

paprika.jpg I've never been an anime fan. Oh sure I pretended to like Akira back in high school, but the truth is giant robots and tentacle rape never really did it for me. I still enjoy the occasional Miyazaki film — I loved Spirited Away — but when I tell that to Netflix, it starts recommending ridiculous TV serials about exploding schoolgirls. It doesn't tempt me to explore the genre further.

All of which is to say that the trailer for the new film Paprika is amazing. It makes me want to see the movie immediately — despite the apparent giant robots and tentacle rape. I vaguely recall reading about director Satoshi Kon's other films: Millennium Actress and Perfect Blue. I wasn't enticed at the time, but maybe I should have been. Has anyone seen them? Are they worth a look?

May 17, 2007

Impeach Bush again!

Daniel Radosh

Just over a year ago I said Bush should face impeachment over domestic spying. As of this week, there is no longer any question about that.

May 17, 2007

Destination Daddy?

Daniel Radosh

e030807a.jpg When I first read that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were taking on Tintin, my main concern was about the use of motion capture technology. I guess if anybody can pull it off, it's these guys. I just don't want to see it turned into another Polar Express.

Now I'm more concerned that Spielberg is not going to respect the essential blankness of Tintin — that he will try to give him a backstory and (shudder) daddy issues. Fortunately the three films will be based on actual Hergé stories. I'd hate to think of the damage they could do by starting from scratch. The question is how faithful they'll be.

So which books would make the best movies? (Which is not the same question as which are the best books, since everyone knows that's Tintin in Tibet). My votes: Cigars of the Pharaoh, The Broken Ear and The Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham's Treasure. You know they'll do those last two (probably combined) to cash in on the pirate trend.

I'd love this to work, but I'm skeptical. Frankly, I just don't see the need for Tintin movies.

On the other hand, I'm willing to bet now that Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones is going to be amazing and will dominate the Oscars.

Related: May 22 is the 100th anniversary of Hergé's birth. I just got word that four amazing cartoonists will be celebrating with a multimedia performance at Beauty Bar in NYC on Monday the 21st. Details here.

May 16, 2007

Children of Welles

Daniel Radosh

The greatest long tracking shots of all time.

Are you sure I don't need to see the Protector? This scene is pretty great.

[Via Very Short List]

May 14, 2007

Next week: Luke Gopnik's MySpace

Daniel Radosh

Bringing together for the first time people who read 40,000 word articles about chalk and people who want to know where Nathan Petrelli stands on healthcare, it's the New Yorker's first ever foray into alternate reality gaming.

The online version of Larry Doyle's Shouts and Murmurs, which is about a wedding, features more than a dozen off-site links. Most of these are to actual, non-humor-value-adding sites, but a handful lead to pages created especially for this piece, including a wedding page, the bride's blog, a movie trailer, and the long-awaited return of the burning torch icons. Together, the pages add both backstory and, um, futurestory. They won't, however, make much sense if you don't read the Shouts piece first.

Why go to all this trouble? I haven't the slightest idea.

May 14, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #99

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Do you have shooting pains? Haha... sorry, doctor joke. You're going to die." —Pyn

"You're going to be fine! That's what I'd be telling you, if you weren't fatally wounded by five arrows." —Walt

"I'm going to prescribe Lunestra, because they gave me a free mouse pad." —t.a.m.s.y.

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #99" »

May 12, 2007

You never know where creationists will find evidence next!

Daniel Radosh

god's beaver.jpg

From the kids section of the Creation Evidence Museum site. You know, just in case that Ricky Gervais humor was too sophisticated for your inner 14-year-old.

Not that there isn't a theological argument to be made...

May 11, 2007

Then I found out that the other name for the Bible is the Gospel, so it is all true

Daniel Radosh

While writing my chapter on creationism, I came across this Ricky Gervais routine. The most brilliant thing about it is that in terms of his presentation of "facts" there's not much he says that creationists could actually object to.

May 10, 2007

Nothing's gonna change

Daniel Radosh

It's about time somebody remade Hair. In theory, Across The Universe should be pretty terrible. But based on the trailer, and director Julie Taymor, I'm going to hold out hope for brilliant. Am I delusional?

May 9, 2007

Polls agree: Michael Medved smells like urine

Daniel Radosh

Huffington Post has lots of contributors who try to be funny and lots of contributors who are funny, but they are rarely the same people. An exception is Chris Kelly, who is so consistently, intentionally funny that I wonder if he knows he's writing for Huffington Post. I used to work with Chris years ago at Spy; he's now a writer for Bill Maher (I last saw him ten years ago when I wrote a profile of Maher for Details that soured me on writing celebrity profiles for good — half Maher's fault, half Details' and probably half my own).

Lately, Chris has been on a tirade against Michael Medved, which makes sense, since Michael Medved is a douchebag.

I hope this isn't one of those Joel Stein situations.

May 8, 2007

Needles are your friend

Daniel Radosh

In the Forward this week, Marjorie gets all Jewish on idiots who won't vaccinate their kids.

It’s not just the unvaccinated who are at risk; the more unvaccinated people there are, the more everyone is at risk... Prouser draws a parallel between vaccination and the biblically mandated building of a parapet on every home. The parapet is intended to prevent people from falling off your roof. “Construction of a parapet on a dangerous roof is an undertaking that necessarily involves a measure of risk,” he writes. “The parapet is thus a particularly apt paradigm for immunization, a protective measure deemed obligatory despite a statistical risk incurred in the process.” Prouser also discusses Maimonides’s list of 24 transgressions that are to be met with bans of excommunication. Among them: “One who has something harmful on his property, for example a vicious dog or an unsafe ladder, we place him under a ban until he removes the hazard.” Hey, hippie parents, your unvaccinated kid is a potentially lethal pit bull of germs!

May 7, 2007

De-crucify him or I'll melt your face!

Daniel Radosh

barbarellangel.jpg Why do Christians always think they invented the wheel? Here's Jane Fonda discussing her relatively recent faith in the new Rolling Stone.

I very much feel the presence of God, and that person is Jesus - I am utterly fascinated by this man. I feel what he preached was revolutionary, and it's totally what we need now. The most revolutionary statement anyone could make is "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Whew, man.

Yes, how revolutionary to quote something that had been established doctrine for 1,400 years.

May 7, 2007

They represent man's dual nature, see?

Daniel Radosh

Doctor finds spiders in boy's ear

"It was real interesting, 'cause, two spiders in my ear — what next?"

Why, three more, of course!

May 7, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #98

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Hey, is that some sort of artillery gun barrel protruding through the wall? Why don't you look at it and see. Heh-heh-heh... (Sound of armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds being loaded in the next room.)" —John Tabin

"Watkins, you are such a drama queen. If this is your reaction to moving to a windowless office, I can't wait to see how you handle losing your key to the executive washroom."—doc

"So Jenkins, how are you enjoying Bring Your Ineffectual Astronomer to Work Day so far?" —Ben

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #98" »

May 6, 2007

Shit. They're on to us.

Daniel Radosh

Now The New Yorker is running cartoons mocking the anti-caption contest.


Well played, Mr. Mankoff.

Continue reading "Shit. They're on to us." »

May 5, 2007

Fun with inadvertant contextual advertising

Daniel Radosh

I went to watch the Yahoo News video of a Kansas town destroyed by a tornado and this is what came up. It took me a second to realize it was an ad, and not somebody's idea of a joke.

May 5, 2007

"God help you if you smoke the reefer"

Daniel Radosh

Download a better iTunes visualizer. It's called Magnetosphere — because it works using magnets! And spheres!

YouTube doesn't do it justice, but here's a look.

[Via Airtight]

May 4, 2007

You're a treasure no one opened

Daniel Radosh

Vigilantes of Love is one of the great tragedies of Christian rock. Tragedies in that if they weren't Christian — that is, marketed to Christian audiences — they might have gotten the attention they deserve from the rest of us. (The Christian scene has never appreciated them enough either; one of their albums was even banned from stores for paraphrasing a little too closely the Song of Solomon). VOL is really one guy, Bill Mallonee, with a rotating crop of backup musicians. Most of his work is moody alt-country and folk rock. You can hear some great examples on his MySpace, including his duet with Emmylou Harris. But in 2001, Mallonee zig-zagged, as artists will, and put out an album called Summershine that includes one of best power pop songs ever recorded. Up there with anything by, say, Marshall Crenshaw or the La's. I'm telling you this because I've just found out that Mallonee is offering the entire album as free download. The song you want is the first one, You Know That. After you hear it you'll probably want the rest of the album too. I'm not as familiar with it, but it's definitely worth the price. Mallonee is from Athens, Georgia and was something of an REM protégé, if that's any incentive. (On first listen, I'm hearing more Tom Petty than anything). But even if you don't go whole hog, you will not regret getting your hands on You Know That. You will, in fact, wonder how this song can have existed for seven years without you knowing about it.

After all that build up, I should warn you that the site seems to be a bit glitchy. If you can't get through, You Know That (and one other song from the album) is also available for free here. Let me know what you think.

May 3, 2007

A brief update on disbelief

Daniel Radosh

Kate alerts me that there will be a (nationwide) preview of A Brief History of Disbelief on tomorrow night's Bill Moyers Journal.

The clip is... not promising. Miller's tone is less confrontational than Dawkins, to be sure, but opening with "religion caused 9/11 and America is just as religious as the Middle East, therefore Christians and Muslims are all equally nuts and dangerous" (I'm paraphrasing, but accurately) isn't likely to convince anyone other than Christopher Hitchens. Certainly Miller's pronouncement that "It's inconceivable that [9/11] could have been done without religion, for it's only in the name some absolute assurance of a permanent life after death that someone would be able to undertake such an act," would be news to the Tamil Tigers.

Still it should be interesting to hear Miller discuss all this with the devout, but rational, Bill Moyers.

Update: Having watched the Moyers segment, it looks like the series, and Miller, will be pretty good after all. The clip they chose was pretty unrepresenative of Miller's tone, which is thoughtful and respectful (but not in any wimpy way). Interestingly, it sounds like Miller, though he doesn't know the category, is an ignostic, which is what I increasingly think of myself as, if forced to put a label on my "disbelief."

May 3, 2007

It's our Aliens vs. Predator

Daniel Radosh

Since I haven't been able to do much blogging this week, here's a quick installment of Clique vs. the Gemz. Team One are wholesome Christian post-toddlers who promote America. Team Two are fun-lovin' Jewish pre-hotties who promote Finger Lites Light Up Candy Rings. Choices, choices... Oh, look: Girl Authority has a new album out!

cliqueamerica.jpg paparazzilast.jpg

May 1, 2007

22,000 more black flies to be deployed to Iraqi chardonnays

Daniel Radosh

In today's Times, Marines reservist Owen West writes that claims the Iraq surge is not working are "oddly detached... from what's happening on the battlefield."

The Iraqi battalion I lived with is stationed outside of Habbaniya, a small city in violent Anbar Province. Together with a fledgling police force and a Marine battalion, these Iraqi troops made Habbaniya a relatively secure place: it has a souk where Iraqi soldiers can shop outside their armored Humvees, public generators that don't mysteriously explode, children who walk to school on their own. The area became so stable, in fact, that it attracted the attention of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. In late February, the Sunni insurgents blew up the mosque, killing 36.

Jon Stewart couldn't have said it better. Problem is, I've read the damn thing five times and can detect no sign that West meant it ironically.

May 1, 2007

Update: Heroes teen not homophobe, just pompous method actor

Daniel Radosh

The kid who ran screaming like a girl from playing a gay guy on Heroes defends himself.

What transpired on heroes is something far more complicated than anyone being "afraid" to make Zach homosexual. The character that I created in the beginning of the show, a process I take very seriously, was based on Zach being an outcast who had a burning love for Claire, a crush that drew him to her and effected every ounce of his self esteem around her. I created the character that way because it was WRITTEN IN THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT that he was in love with Claire.

Yes, Heroes fans would never accept inconsistencies -- especially not in anything as important as the psychology of minor characters. This is an important work of art, after all, not just something that allows geeks to justify purchasing HD televisions.

Vaguely related (to gays and geeks): I just watched the Richard Donner cut of Superman II. What's with all the Lex Luthor is a poofter humor? Was that in the original release and it just went over my head?

I'll chalk it up as an homage to the great noir villains.

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