Morality Movie Monday: When Worlds Collide

July 21, 2014

As soon as this movie started, I knew I should blog about it.

The very first images after the credits feature bible verses (Genesis 6:12,13):

And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

A pilot named Randall arrives at an observatory in South Africa, hired to deliver a top secret package to a New York observatory. The New York observatory confirms the other place got their math right and the UN or something like it meets to discuss the findings. According to the scientists, two worlds are indeed going to collide in eight months. Bellus is a star that’s on a trajectory in line with Earth. Its planet, Zyra, will be close enough to the Earth by that point to try something pretty bold. They hope “with god’s help and guidance” that humans should be able to put together rockets (modern Noah’s Arks as it were) to escape the Earth’s destruction and land on the new planet even though they have no proof it’d be at all survivable.

(This film came out in 1951 when rockets to other planets were still part of a “dreamworld,” and one guy in the meeting considers them crackpot doomsayers. He’ll soon find out he’s wrong. They all will…)

The ones putting the rocket ideas into motion have to deal with the issue of who to take, who to leave behind and how to decide. They figure between 40-50 people will fit on each rocket. A rich guy named Stanton grumpily puts money into this endeavor in the hopes he’ll be more likely to get a seat on one.

This'll work..

This’ll work..

I don’t know enough math. Will their slide conserve enough fuel to launch this puppy? I don’t know…

A montage of front page headlines and footage of prayers in the streets of the world is added. Massive evacuations have been going on to get people out of the coastal areas although if a star really was going to smack into this planet, it wouldn’t matter if you were in New York City or Montana…

The planet makes it scheduled approach near the earth and rumbles happen, bridges fall, volcanoes erupt, glaciers shed icebergs, homes and forests burn, the seas boil with tidal forces unfamiliar to the planet before this time. I don’t know what their budget was, but they use an impressive series of images.

floodwaters

floodwaters

high tide

high tide

They opt to run a lottery. Joyce, the daughter of one of the scientists is a sure bet to go for the ride. Randall doesn’t think he should go and didn’t get a number, but “she wants you, Dave” — but he’s insistent that his space should still be given to someone else. And they’re all running out of time. Doc Tony (who had loved Joyce and wanted to marry her) convinces him he should come, though, because they may need another pilot to take over flying in case the first one doesn’t survive.

Once the lottery results come out, just before it’s time to leave, people are starting to go a bit nuts, those leaving and those staying behind, but everyone on board gets out okay and they step right into a painting pretending to be another world.

worldsnew

In terms of disaster movies, it’s not the best I’ve ever seen, but it was short. There are a few scenes in there where they show families having to be split up and romantic partings and kids being rescued and a dog, too. There’s also a part near the end where Joyce’s father sees the mob coming toward the rocket intent on raising hell before take off and rather than board with Mr. Stanton, he sets the rocket in motion and the two of them stay behind. Stanton’s pretty pissed off but the father reminds him that the future is for the young. And, really, he won’t have to be pissed off for long. Either he’ll get beaten to a pulp by an angry mob or they’ll all disintegrated by the solar disaster.

I don’t recommend this film unless you like bad science in your science fiction, though.

I didn’t remember watching it EVER but the Man has laughingly reminded me that he and I had watched his VHS copy a while back and poked all manner of holes into it. My memory really sucks…


Atheist Scruples: do your (jury) duty

July 19, 2014

Today’s question:

You are interviewed for jury duty. It will be a long and tedious trial. Do you pretend to have opinions which will disqualify you?

I’d say I don’t have to pretend. I wouldn’t say this to avoid jury duty, though. It’s part of the system to assess a level of guilt but it’s a flawed system and doesn’t always work to actually put the right person behind bars.

I would be honest and I would say that I know eye witness testimony is too unreliable to use as proof of someone’s guilt. There have been so many studies done illustrating just how crappy we are at remembering things that happened.

Our eyes only see what’s directly in front of us. The rest of the details are peripheral and I think the brain pretty much makes the world up as our eyes flick around. Isn’t there thought that peripheral vision evolved to keep us on our toes so we’re aware of what’s around us even if we don’t have a clear view of exactly what it is? Is it dangerous, or merely a tree branch waving during a sudden gust of wind?

I know a car just drove by and I noticed the brake lights were on. It looked kind of black and maybe was an SUV but there’d be no way in hell I’d want to go up on a witness stand three years from now and declare that yes, indeed, that was the killer’s car. “I remember it so clearly, like it was yesterday…”

Like hell.

We don’t even recall our memories, matter of fact. All we really do is tell ourselves a story about the story we think we told ourselves the last time. Our brains are very good at inventing detail and over time will add more to the story than was actually there to begin with. That black SUV I mentioned earlier? It totally was full of teenagers and their music was super loud and I know that because I remember there was some thunder.. and I’m just bullshitting the audience and myself at the same time. Nothing but the truth, your Honour.

I’ll have to hunt for a link to this and update later because I can’t find anything at the moment. Memory is shit but I don’t think I made this up:

I recall reading about a teacher who, the day (day after?) the towers fell in New York, had his students write essays about where they were, who they were with and what they were doing the moment that happened. The teacher took the essays and filed them away for a while. A few years later, he asked the same kids to write down where they were, who they were with and what they were doing at the time, and then compared the new essays with the old ones. Many kids thought the old ones were made up. They’d already convinced themselves of a different inner memory of those moments.

Apparently it’s also possible to doctor an image and have people recall being in a hot air balloon even though they’ve never been off the ground. I can’t find the link to that one either, unfortunately.

There’s this though. Look into something called change blindness. If patrons don’t even notice the person who was serving them at a counter just switched shirts or gender or skin colour, I can’t honestly put much faith in someone else’s faith in their observational skills, or their memories.


10 questions for every atheist part 2

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

Answers 6-10: Read the rest of this entry »


10 questions for every atheist part 1

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

I wound up writing quite a lot for the answers so I’m breaking this into two parts. Questions 1 through 5: Read the rest of this entry »


Dear Billy Graham: I tried cocaine

July 15, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed Billy Graham. I’ve been reading his mail for years. I fell off while I wasn’t blogging, but now that I’m back in the swing of things, I thought I should look up the old guy and see what advice Billy Graham’s ministry is giving away these days. I’ve gotten this from his answers website:

I don’t know how it happened, but I’ve gotten hooked on cocaine. My wife is threatening to leave me if I don’t stop, but I don’t know where to turn. You’ll probably tell me to turn to God, but what good will that do?

A blogger friend of mine once noted the likelihood that these questions are posited by Graham’s staff rather than actual people is very likely, but let’s pretend this is an actual guy in this situation.

“I don’t know how it happened..”

Well, I expect you must have tried some and liked the feeling you got because of it. Same goes for me and Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pick your addiction.

Graham’s “advice” in this case: Read the rest of this entry »


Would you consider this a pro-creationist dinosaur game?

February 11, 2012

I would. (edit Feb 12/2012 laugh and a half: read the first comment.) Regular readers know I never do game reviews but I felt like remarking on this one. The game’s called Dino Panic and it’s from GodSeeD Studios, a company so new it hasn’t got much of a website yet nor does it have many Facebook followers. 82 at the time of writing. There they advertise themselves as, “GodSeeD Studios.Delivering Godlike fun web gaming experience!” (edit Feb 12: this is no longer accurate) Well, grammar is hard for some and fun is relative, but I thought I’d try playing it anyway. It’s hosted on a number of sites but I originally found it via OneMoreLevel.com, my work day getaway.

From the get go, I can see what I’m in for: a game misrepresenting history and science. Flintstones aside, humans and dinosaur did not co-exist. Dinosaurs kicked it over 65 million years ago and the first hominids appeared at least 20 million years later. Already reading too much into it? Yes and no. It depends on what kind of history lessons the kids get beyond the game. Are they destined to grow up believing people had dinosaurs for pets? Do their parents believe that? But anyway, the fun begins.

We’re introduced to the characters through a series of storytelling panels. A “red dragon” has killed the man who was supposed to marry a woman from a neighbouring tribe and now it’s up to our hero Barog to finish the ritual and keep his people from going extinct. What a responsibility to throw on someone’s shoulders. It’s all up to you boy… Barog is given the task of finding the wedding gift the groom dropped where he died, a stone necklace. The game itself starts once Barog has that ritual relic and bumps into the dinosaur that will chase him for the duration of play. As for other obstacles to avoid, our hero must leap over rocks, logs, tar pits, other pits and also slide under floating rocks. Why? I check the tutorial:

Things don’t have to make sense here, clearly. Lodestones are naturally occurring magnetized minerals, but as far as I know, they don’t defy gravity with their existence. They aren’t magical nor proof of God’s existence. (Other theory: that line’s merely a reference to Insane Clown Posse) Barog is controlled with the keyboard and to add another level of difficulty (or to give one’s little sibling a role to play in this?) Barog’s pet pteranodon is also maneuverable by mouse. Fly him around the game screen to collect the floating gems. Not being a skilled gamer, I found myself ignoring Tora Pteranodon’s position on screen.

It’s not like he’s flying into anything that will damage him, whereas Barog faces possible doom every few seconds. Tar slows him down and everything else makes him trip or fall to his death. Tora can carry him if you time the jump right and hold the left mouse key down. This becomes an important skill to master once the game gets further along and Barog can’t leap pits in a single bound anymore. That’s as far as I got. When it comes to multitasking, some of us are shittier than others.

It’s a beautiful looking game, though. The cartoon quality of it is very nice and pretty to look at. No expense spared as far as that goes. I guess play would get easier with more practice, too.

Honestly, I find myself craving a less sophisticated, yet more “realistic” game experience, available in the form of Dino Run. The giant asteroid has broken up in the atmosphere (presumably) and burning chunks of rocky death are landing everywhere. It’s up to you to help the little dinosaur escape the fate of his brethren.

Fail

Delayed fail

Run like hell. Leap over slower dinos, duck into caverns. Hitch rides with pterodons, grab your energy snacks and save as many eggs as you can. If you survive from level to level your egg collecting and snack eating earn you points that can be used to boost your speed and other abilities. I’m not sure how many times I failed before I discovered that. And then I failed again and had to start over with a new little dino to save… Poor little dinos…


Darwin Day Saskatoon updated info

February 3, 2012

From the Saskatoon Freethinker’s meetup site:

The University of Saskatchewan Freethought Alliance, Saskatoon Skeptics and Centre for Inquiry Saskatchewan are proud to host the fourth annual Darwin Day celebration in Saskatoon on February 12 from 1:00-5:00 pm.

Come and help us celebrate Darwin’s 203rd birthday with 2 presentations followed by discussions. Speakers this year are from the U of S Biology department: Prof. José Andrés and Prof. Dick Neal (Emeritus). Birthday cake and coffee will be available and the Museum of Natural Sciences is nearby for touring and working on a scavenger hunt.

Schedule of Events (subject to change):

1:00 pm Introduction & 1st Presentation

2:45 pm Birthday Cake & Coffee; Museum Touring

3:15 pm 2nd Presentation

5:30 pm Pub Discussion (anyone interested can join us for further discussion & cheer – probably at nearby Alexander’s)

Cash donations are optional, but welcome all the same. Tax receipts are available for any donation over $10. Head for the Biology building (112 Science Place) and look for room 106. That’ll be us.

Hopefully we get a good turnout this year. Last year seemed kind of poor but I think there were a few other things going on around town, too, and maybe we didn’t give ourselves enough time to advertise the event and really plug the value of attending. It was interesting, thoug. One of the speakers took us through some human history from an archeological standpoint and I remember being enthralled by the talk but I never took any notes to blog from later, alas.

I’ve heard that one topic getting discussed this year will be altruism, a facet of humanity that religionists like to co-opt as their own special god-inspired trait (like this dude who merely falls back on Pascal’s Wager as if that could ever good enough reasoning) but I think the audience for that particular lecture will learn how that’s not quite the case.

So, if you’re in the area and can find a little time that Sunday, give this event a try. Like it says above, there will be cake. Always worth the calories, cake… And you can feed your brain at the same time. Also worth it.


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