Psuedo Live Blog of Bill Nye-Ken Ham Creationism debate

I foolishly live blogged the near 3 hour Bill Nye-Ken Ham creationist debate. It is done in live style, so bare that in mind. It is conversational.

We begin with a commercial for Ken Ham’s creationist museum. Full of cute cartoons to draw in the kids.

It is amazing how much of a fuck you this is to non Christian creationist faiths. Ham’s early slides mention Jesus. Too bad for any of the other faiths that have the same idea. So it’s not just a creationist belief, but Christian creationist.

Ken Ham is Australian. I bet Mel Gibson loves him. His creationist museum had 2 million visitors. That makes me sad. The debate is hosted at his museum.

It is not as much of a debate, point/response. It is more like two people presenting polished presentations.

Bad logic: the guy who invented the MRI is a creationist, thus it is true. Of course the million of other scientists disagreeing are not mentioned. This reminds me of climate change deniers. He does this consistently, bringing up scientists who are creationist, some who are chairs at US universities. I need a list of those schools to make sure nobody I like ever attends them.

A big argument Ham forwards is that science about the past is impossible because we cannot see it/were not there to witness it. I’m still unclear who witnessed the creation of God on day zero. This is the observational vs experimental science argument. But Hams view of observation is things he can see with his eyeballs. Because he cannot see carbon dating then it is experimental. I am starting to believe he does not believe in microscopes.

He keeps arguing the point that Nye can not show any science that also could not be created by god. Of course, an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent god is an easy out. My god can do anything, so all your facts are useless.

He points out flaws in Darwin’s finch theories of evolution. But Darwin wrote that in fucking 1859. We didn’t know that blood types existed then. We know more now. His argument that Darwin believed in racial superiority as part of evolution is a disgusting and specious argument against our modern scientific beliefs.

I hate how much Ham focuses on public schoolbooks. That is the point of this debate. He is trying to get creationism taught in all public schools. Fucking disgusting.

I am unsure this high profile debate will have any effect. It’s not going to change the minds of creationists. But it sure is fun to rip apart.

Hmmm. He implies the dinosaurs were all killed by Noah’s flood. I don’t know creationism so closely that I was aware of this belief.

Holy crap. He brought up the primacy of heterosexual marriage as proof of gods post lapsarian introduction of sin.

Homophobia mentioned, everyone DRINK!

“The battle is about authority” he says. Who is in charge, God or man? He relates this to Texas laws. He basically wants a biblical government. Fuck democracy. He ends this segment with “died on the cross for your sins”, so fuck you to the Jews and Hindus and Arabs and shintos etc.

Fuck this is long. I’m 1 hour in and all they have had is opening statements and then Ham spoke for like 30 minutes.

Bill Nye counters. There are 680,000 layers of seasonality in a recovered piece of ice. That means we needed to have 170 seasons per year under a 6000 year belief and says “wouldn’t somebody have noticed that.” Too funny. There are trees that have more than 6000 rings. You can go see them at a fucking museum. Haha.

He says about “observational” science. Go and visit the layers in the Grand Canyon and “observe” those.

Hahaha. Nye says if all the animals were on the ark, and the arc landed near babel, how did kangaroos get to Australia without leaving any evidence of their travel. They only exist in Australia. Where did they come from if not evolution.

This audience is almost 100% creationists. They don’t laugh at any of Bill Nye’s stupid jokes (non partisan super bowl jokes for example). Get the sticks out of your ass people. Bill Nye makes 7 year olds chuckle, but not adults with the minds of 7 year olds.

Hmm, fascinating. the biggest wooden ship ever, a New England ship called the Wyoming, was incapable of being sailed by its 14 extremely awesome sailors. Some of the best sailors humanity has ever had. The tensile strength of wood could not keep the hull from bending. The arc had 8 sailors and 7000 creatures on it. (Did I use tensile correctly?)

He is talking about fish sex. Asexual minnows who can have sex with themselves have more diseases than the same minnows who have the sexy time with other minnows. The reason is two creatures create new DNA that is able to defend itself better. I think a few bible thumpers heads just exploded at the mention of the icky sex talk.

In Kentucky (home of this debate and the creationist museum) there are zero universities that cover nuclear medicine. How sad.

Finally!! Rebuttals and debate time. Each gets 5 minutes per point. Ham has a little joke and everyone laughs. This audience is depressing.

Ut oh. Ham is raising questions about mt St. Helens. Bill Nye is on the Mt St Helens research commission. Don’t step on super mans cape dude.

Wow. Ham is slamming any Christian who does not believe in creationism. They are all misled. 6000 years or nothing!

Ham talks about how “Death is because of mans sin.” What is the sin of the innocent children who die in natural disasters? (This is the Deism vs Theism argument.)

Ham talks about how carbon dating is not perfect. He shows where dating placed a tree at 45k and the rock above it as 40million. Nye says “well maybe the rock just slid over it, seems a simpler explanation than a supreme being”. Ham counters that the rock surrounded the tree. Yah, I’m sure there is no other explanation.

Lol. Nye talks about Hams belief that we cannot see the past. All astronomy is the past. We see light from years ago. In fact we see each other in the micro past as it takes light time to go from the back of the auditorium to the front. Nye makes a good joke about the people at the back looking younger to him. I think these people do not believe in the existence of light. Nobody laughs.

Ham uses the term “biblical” a lot. But he is always referring to the Old Testament. Strange.

My god. Why am I doing this. My mind is becoming mush listening to this idiocy. You can’t argue with these people. There is a fundamental gap in belief that can never be bridged. If people don’t believe in any science not visible to their eyeballs we can’t get very far.

Ham basically says he does not believe in the light distance measurements because of the horizon issue. Sigh.

On the arc, ham says maybe Noah was the best ever. Nye replies with “maybe you believe in superheroes but I don’t”. Haha.

There are pyramids older than the flood. Lol. Ham probably doesn’t believe Egyptians exist. It’s not like that area or those people were in the bible or anything.

I wish Nye was stronger on the bible. He doesn’t know it very well and it inhibits his ability to make a great point about Hams constant mixing of old and New Testament.

Holy crap. Oh no. 45 minutes of audience questions. I am losing my mind. This is going to be scary.

This is the whitest audience ever. Michelle Bachman has a more diverse turn out.

How arrogant and narcissistic a belief it is that god created the earth first. He creates it for us. Me me me me me.

Where did atoms come from? Nye says that is why we do science, to learn, to find such answers. Ham says it is already clearly answered. There is a book about it, da bible. We are all doomed if these people get in charge. His belief implies we don’t need to do science. We already know the answer.

This is a basic problem. Scientist understand that we do not know all the answers. New discovery explains and changes and resets our beliefs based on new knowledge. Creationism is a closed book. All is set and can never be changed.

This is a debate about creationism and the 6000 year time frame, not about Christian belief. Most Christians are not creationists.

“Could anything ever change your mind.” Hams answer. “I am a Christian … No, no one is ever going to convince me that the word of god is false.”<— the problem with this debate.

Ignorance. That is what this is all about. It isn't about Christianity. Millions of believers, Christian, Jew and Arab, believe the earth is 45 million years old.

Best question so far. "Favorite color, one word answer". Nye says "green, because green plants reflect green" Ham asks if he can get 3 words "observational science blue". That was actually funny.

Hams creationist argument is all based on observational science. He can never be proven wrong because we cannot go back in time to prove anything. It is a denial of discovery and exploration.

Ham has argued in the past that we should not go to mars and search for life because we already have the answer, which is no.

Ham gets asked if all the bible should be taken literally. He waffles. Says some shit about some being fact and some, like psalms, are parables. Other parts, like its support for multiple wives show sin and the New Testament declares one man one woman.

Homophobia reference, DRINK!

Intelligence design discussion. I wish Bill was better at arguing this point. He basically says fuck that shit. He would have been better off given a "we don't know" answer like he did for the creation of matter or the genesis of conscious thought.

Lol. "beyond museums or carnivals is there anyone using creationism to create anything in this world." Great question. He uses false logic by saying historical scientists who were creationists produced wonderful product. But none of them "used" creationism to make those products.

Omg. I saw a black person in the audience. DRINK!!

Final question for the Q&A. 2 hours and 38 minutes of torture. Your all welcome.

Is there any single thing that drives you. A lame question.

Ham obviously says the bible. He says if you believe in god then god will reveal himself to you and mentions riches of gold and silver.

Capitalist Christianity. DRINK!!

Nye says it's the drive of why are we here and are we alone. And notes that hams beliefs are a drive to stop looking for answers and we stop inventing. So a move to kick out science from out schools is dangerous for America as it competes in the world.

Holy fuck. It's over. Wow. The one thing I can say is that the creationist view is a minority, but the anti science beliefs of too many Christians in America is not. It is dangerous. It is a walk back from progress. It is a belief that leads to a more brutal world, more pain, more tears, more death, more hatred, more bigotry, more sadness.

I know this was long. I hope, if anybody actually made it to the end, that my live blog was at least fun.

Thanks for listening,

Ascending Empires

Ascending Empires is a strategy board game for two to four players released by Z-Man Games . It costs $54.99, and is recommended for players 10 and up. The premise is simple. Humanity, driven off Earth by the Great Civil War, flees to the Andromeda galaxy. There four factions settle in the four quadrants of the galaxy, where they turn their starships into cities and build anew. Two hundred years later the four factions re-emerge into the new starscape and pick up where they left off. Players take over worlds, dig for materials, build infrastructure, develop technologies, and do battle amid the stars. The goal of the game is to have the most victory points, which are earned by successfully attacking other players, developing technology first, and holding planets. The more developed the planet, the more points it’s worth.

Setup is easy and takes about 5 minutes. The nine piece board snaps together like a jigsaw puzzle. It fits on a standard card table, but you’ll need somewhere to put your technology track and supply depots. I recommend a kitchen table. Planets are arranged in four predetermined stacks, based on how many people are playing. Each stack is then shuffled and placed randomly in one of four quadrants on the board. There are six different kinds of planets. Homeworlds, where each player starts,  four types of colored worlds, which determine what technologies can be developed there, and asteroids, which can do everything a colored planet can do except research.

Game play is simple and very fast. Each turn a player may take one action. Actions include recruiting, moving, building, developing technology or mining. A player recruits by putting troops on owned worlds.  Building happens by replacing designated troops and occasionally structures with other structures. Mining is simply removing troops  and gaining VPs.

Movement includes launching and landing spaceships. Worlds are claimed by landing spaceships on them. But movement is also where the element of randomness kicks in. Ships are moved by flicking or striking them across the jigsaw assembled board. Ships can flip on their side and roll, sending them far from their intended targets, or ricochet off worlds and carom off into deep space. Any ship that falls off the board is lost. If two ships collide, they are both destroyed. Combat is also part of the movement action, and happens automatically. If the active player outnumbers an enemy in range,  they are destroyed.

Technologies exist in four tiers, each with a different specialty.  Technology trees can improve your offense, your recruiting capacity, your movement, or your defenses. Each technology can only be developed on specific worlds, designated by color. Players have a limited number of research stations available, which forces them to choose carefully which technologies they want to develop. There are advantages to maxing a technology tree out, but there are advantages in diversifying, too.

This game is fast and fun. It takes a bit over an hour to play a complete game, but turns go by very quickly due to the simplicity of the rules. It doesn’t demand deep strategic thinking, but one does have to play smart to win. There are different paths to victory, which makes it nicely replayable.  It is challenging enough to keep an adult interested, and simple enough that that adult can still lose to their child. I give it four dice out of a possible five.

Watching Doctor Who 1.2 & 1.3, Britney vs. Dickens.

I feel the first three episodes create a type of introductory trilogy to Doctor Who. The first episode, “Rose,” occurred in contemporary times, the second, “The End of the World,” takes place 5 billion years in the future and the third episode “The Unquiet Dead,” goes back in time to 1869. This simple, episodic construction maps well to the Doctor Who character himself. Quickly, the bounds of his time travel are established. He can go billions of years into the future.  He can go into the past, and that has consequences. He can also pretty freely go back to contemporary London, where Rose can visit her family.

The freedom of his time travel helped explain one of my issues with Rose in the first episode.  She appears to simply abandon Mickey, her boyfriend. Although the Doctor hasn’t explained how the TARDIS works, she gleefully leaves Mickey on a street corner to run off with the Doctor after he simply states:

By the way, did I also mention that this can also travel in time?

After the first few episodes it becomes apparent that she is able to go back home and her abrupt goodbye to Mickey seems more like “see you later” instead of “it was nice knowing you.”

To the episodes themselves.  Both were perfectly serviceable.  I specifically enjoyed Jabe in “The End of the World,” the representative for the Tree of Cheem. Cassandra, the narcissistic last human, was so obsessed with her purity that she was planning on bleaching her blood. Yet, aside all of Cassandra’s bluster, Jabe’s race was also from Earth. Not only that, but they had survived longer than humans. Further, while the human Cassandra is dominated by deceit, nature has provided Jabe with perspective. She feels sorrow for the Doctor, being the last of his race. And she willingly sacrifices herself to save the entire station.

The most jarring moment of “The End of the World” is the sudden introduction of Britney Spears “Toxic,” played on a 45. Alongside the third episode, the pop queen’s song sounded like a light-hearted anglophile jab at the mass media across the pond.  In that third episode, “The Unquiet Dead,” Rose and the Doctor go back in time to 1869 and meet Charles Dickens for a pseudo-ghost story. Five billion years in the future, the Earth will be burned to a tiny little piece of charcoal while Britney Spears plays in the background, but back in the day, in London, we had Dickens.  Take that!

I would have enjoyed seeing a Dickens story that was more engaged with the story of his life. The story is unrelated to Dickens in any way.  The Doctor coaxes and drags him along to experience what is basically a ghost story.  I would have preferred an episode that perhaps explained the train crash that Dickens was in a few years prior to his death.  Some type of integration would have benefitted the episode, it would have built an interesting connection and unwritten background to the episode.  As it is, the episode is but a simple ghost tale that occurred in the last year of Dickens life and thus had almost no impact on him or his writing, and thus the impact of the episode is muted slightly.

Next Up: the two parter “Aliens of London” and “World War Three,” starring the ever flatulent Slitheen and the kick-ass Harriet Jones.

Watching Doctor Who 1.1, Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

As I began watching the first episode in the new series, simply titled “Rose,” I wondered how they would ease a new audience into the Doctor Who universe. The storytelling possibilities are so varied and wild that it is easy to dive into the most dramatic of stories to open the series. Yet, instead we get “living” manequins, Rose, London, and a Doctor that only seems vaguely interested in our episodes namesake.

Billie Piper does an amazing job as Rose. Along with her mother and Mickey, her boyfriend, Rose creates an immediate link for the modern viewer.  Rose is a  contemporary woman with an oblivious mother, fine boyfriend, retail job, living in London during contemporary times, who early on is seen delivering the lottery winnings in the basement of the retail shop.  If only there had been some time traveller who might have given her the winning numbers.

Along with centering the episode around Rose and her family, the episode is set firmly in contemporary London.  The myriad complexities of The Doctor and time wars and time changes, aliens and alien planets, is all put aside so we can focus on the characters.  We can learn who Rose is, and who The Doctor is, without all the baggage that comes from introducing the unknown.  Once a story introduces wild, unfamiliar elements it needs to explain them.  It needs to place them firmly in the world and define how they interact with the aspects of the world as we know it. By placing the episode in a contemporary setting and titling the episode “Rose,” they ease the viewer into the universe of Doctor Who.

That said, there are times where I felt the episode could have been more serious.  The mannequin villains are slow and look a bit silly at times.  They murder Wilson, whom Rose was delivering the lottery winnings, yet seem to bumble after Rose and the Doctor (one of their arms popping off as the elevator doors close).  Then came the very silly scene where Mickey is gobbled up by the cartoonish waste bin.  The scene reminded me of Cookie Monster chomping down some chocolate chip cookies. Soon after, upon seeing the plastic version of Mickey, Rose believes he is dead. Wait.  Am I supposed to think Mickey getting swallowed up by a cartoonish waste bin was funny or sad?

Overall, the episode was a good introduction to the new series.  I particularly enjoyed the focus spent on creating a full life for Rose.  She is not simply plucked out of air, but instead is lured out of an average, yet full, life. She might drop her perfectly fine boyfriend a bit too quickly to run off with The Doctor, but at least we have an understanding of who she is, where she comes from, and what she is leaving.

L.O.E.G=W.T.H.?

(Spoiler warning: This essay covers plot points of the recent L.O.E.G. storyline.)

Ok, can someone tell me just what the hell Alan Moore is doing??

The last few weeks saw the long awaited publication of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: CENTURY #3: 2009.  I believe that this brings the series to a close although Moore has announced that he may do “hidden cases” stories.  After reading this issue, all I can do is think, “What?  Is that it?”

The series’ first began in 1999 with a six issue limited series published by America’s Best Comics and seemed to make some sort of sense back then.  The League was a group of characters from literature who were brought together to fight a threat to the world.  Featuring Mina Harker (from Dracula), Allan Quatermain (from H. Rider Haggard’s novels), Captain Nemo (from Verne’s novels), the Invisible Man (from H.G Wells’ novel of the same name) and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (from Stevenson’s short novel), the League was successful in saving the day despite their differences and past demons. There were hints about previous Leagues having existed through the centuries made up of other legendary literary characters.  For all of its idiosyncrasies, it was a pretty straight forward plot and relatively easy to follow.

Even the second series seemed to make some sort of sense with the same team now taking on the Martians from H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds.  There was the usual amount of ‘in-jokes’ featuring other characters and concepts from literature but these didn’t get in the way of the story.  You could still enjoy the comic even if you didn’t know who everyone lurking in the panels was supposed to be.

That all changed with the third series, The Black Dossier.  Rather than a straight-forward story, Moore presents a sort of ‘sourcebook’ for the series which attempts to encapsulate previous events as well as taking the lead characters of Mina and Allan into the 1950’s.  The major shift came with the introduction of Moore’s version of the “The Blazing World”.

Originally conceived by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, in her 1666 novel, the Blazing World was a utopian kingdom in another world reachable through the North Pole.  In Moore, typically, it becomes much more and is overseen by Shakespeare’s wizard, Prospero from The Tempest.

Reading The Black Dossier is like drinking a Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster or “…like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”.  Simply said, other than the framing storyline with Mina and Allan, it just doesn’t make a whole lotta sense particularly if you haven’t grown up in England in the 40s and 50s.

Which is where everything starts to go wrong.

By the time that LOEG CENTURY #1: 1910 rolls around, this aspect takes over the series.  So much so that you can’t read it without having an atlas open next to you.  Supposedly, this first issue sets up the plot for the entire CENTURY series in that a wizard, Oliver Haddo (Moore’s equivalent to Aleister Crowley borrowed from W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Magician), is conspiring to bring forth a ‘Moonchild’ who will usher in an eon of unending terror.  The problem is that the first issue is a disjointed mess with characters who seem to have no idea what they’re doing and then several of them breaking into song while they’re doing it.

In CENTURY #2: 1969, ol’ Haddo is still trying to bring forth the Moonchild (after jumping through several bodies) and the League is still ineffectively trying to stop him.  Set in the backdrop of the psychedelic 60s, the characters run through a series of incidents that seem designed primarily for Moore to make commentaries than for any plot to be developed.  Other than Mina’s disappearance at the end, I don’t see much point to this issue at all.

Finally, in CENTURY #3: 2009, the Moonchild is revealed and there’s a big fight and then it’s all over leaving me, as a reader, wondering, “Why’d I bother with this?”

(Spoiler Alert)

After the end of the second Century volume, it comes as no surprise that the Moonchild is Moore’s warped version of Harry Potter.  I’m not a huge fan of the Potter franchise but, obviously, Moore is less so as his version ends up leaving a nasty taste in one’s mouth and I can’t help but think that Moore has an axe to grind here and does so with a measure of vindictiveness.  Not content to make Potter the villain, Moore has him wipe out virtually everything in the Potter-verse.  To make matters worse, Mina and Orlando (the only remaining members of the League) are sent by Prospero to stop the Moonchild.  (Allen shows up just in time to get barbequed.)  As they are fighting the giant Moonchild (why is he a giant?  Well, why not?), a shadowy figure emerges from the Blazing World and pretty much defeats the Moonchild all by herself.  The figure is a stand in for Mary Poppins who wields so much power that one wonders why Prospero didn’t just sent Mary in the first place.  The victory does not belong to the League or to the reader but to the seemingly endless horde who are delighted by the game of trying to figure out “who’s who in that panel”?

Which leads me back to my original question; “What the hell is Alan Moore doing?”

I’ve always felt that Moore’s weakest points are his endings.  He tends to build tension and drama up to such an extreme that the endings are more of a letdown than anything else.  I have to wonder if Moore loses interest halfway through and just slogs on until it’s over.  And, with the overwhelming abundance of “in-jokes” and “cameo appearances”, they become the primary focus rather than the plot.  Without them, Moore could have probably told the same story in about 100 pages rather the 250+ pages these three volumes constitute.

I cannot help but wonder if Moore has fallen victim to the “Stephen King Paradox”.  This is the concept that someone like Stephen King becomes so powerful in their field that they are no longer edited.  Few would argue that many King books would have been improved by a more aggressive editor and I feel the same happening here.  Moore is still a god among comic readers who can pretty much get away with whatever they feel like doing and that is the main problem with the LOEG series.

It is self-indulgent.  It is Alan Moore showing off about how clever he is and all the great things he’s read and rammed into the story.  He’s forgotten that the primary focus is to entertain and LOEG no longer does that.

In many ways, I feel that Moore is doing to the readers what the Moonchild does to Allan Quatermain in the first panel on page 58.  (If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean.)

–Sam Gafford

(All opinions expressed are simply those of the author.  If you disagree, I’d love to hear why.  I’m sure that many readers will feel that I simply don’t get it.  To which I reply, “There’s a difference between not getting it and not liking it.”)

Coming Soon!

We are just getting started. More to come!

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