rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

2-9-2005 (archived)

In the wake of this week's news that various religious organisations are suing the University of California for deciding that a biology course isn't a biology course if it teaches “intelligent design” (aka creationism) as valid science, instead of or as well as evolution, it's worth reminding ourselves of the sheer intellectual worthlessness of the ID position. Fortunately, Richard Dawkins (in a much less abrasive vein than usual) and Jerry Coyne have done it for us, in an intelligent and beautifully-written article.

As they say, evolutionary biology has no shortage of genuine controversy and mystery. The argument for ID is essentially as follows: “there isn't fossil evidence for every single stage of the entire development of life. Therefore evolution is wrong. Therefore intelligent design is right.” Of course, this is wrong twice: there is mountains of evidence that evolution is the way life has developed on Earth, and absolutely none - not a jot - for creationism. Just as this can't be called logic by anyone who understands the term, intelligent design cannot be called science by anybody who understands what a scientific theory is: it must not only explain the existing evidence (god did it!), but make predictions of a sort; it must be, potentially, falsifiable by later experiment or discovery.

Of course we know evolution happens; you can see it in action in a petri dish, with a certain amount of energy and ingenuity. As a friend who does work connected to HIV remarked to me today, you can see that virus evolve inside a single patient. Evolution, and natural selection, are facts.

You can, of course, argue that, while evolution happens, and while a lot of evolution definitely did happen (it's right there in the fossil record, unless you want to argue that your god created all this as a test of the faithful, in which case he is unworthy of anyone's worship), it might not be the only process that happened. The trouble is that there is no gap that can't be reasonably explained by evolution to anybody with an elementary understanding of biochemistry and a clear grasp of the timescales involved, and that (even if there were) there is no evidence for any other process. Sure, you can assert that there are points where your god acted, but you've no evidence that it happened, or was needed. You can just as well assert that your god created the universe and everything in it, including all of our (false) memories, a split second ago; it is equally scientific, equally amenable to logic, and equally irrelevant. (Via the 2lmc spool.)

5-9-2005 (archived)

We went to see Jeff Scott Soto and his band again last night, featuring new boy Chris McCarvill. I was a little concerned that they'd had to replace Gary Schutt, but McCarvill did a superb job - great backing vocals (they still have some of the best harmonies in rock), locked in with rest of the band, and very entertaining to watch. The technique was well up to the job too, and he has a thumb to die for. This might be the best Soto gig I've seen yet.

Of course, I'm biased, because I ended up on stage for a while; the band were playing the game where they kick off into cover songs and the audience have to identify them and sing along, and when they went into Yankee Rose Jeff realised he didn't know the verse either. He must have either seen or (very possibly) heard me singing along, and beckoned me up on stage to take them through to the end of the first chorus. I'm going to remember this one for quite a while...

The other JSS has kindly provided photographic evidence.

8-9-2005 (archived)

We always knew Wes Craven could manage jumps and suspense when he wasn't messing about with postmodernist horror comedy, and when in Red Eye he turns his hand to the classic thriller it works brilliantly. The eyes that make the film work are not red, but Cillian Murphy's very pale, very scary ones, and he and McAdams combine with an unornamented plot to make a really simple, gripping, and thoroughly excellent movie. Highly recommended.

10-9-2005 (archived)

The 40-year-old virgin is crushingly predictable, and a masterpiece of embarrassment comedy. There's some very good physical comedy as well, notably the chest waxing (which I gather was for real, along with the blood...). Not subtle, not clever, missing any real romance to qualify as a rom-com, but very, very funny.

13-9-2005 (archived)

So on Friday night I was trying to get to sleep, about 2am, and then one of my top left teeth came out, the one next to my one and only filling. Part of the filling fell out too. I was not entirely pleased.

Then another, neighboring tooth followed, along with the rest of the filling, and then one more. At this point my feeling was pretty much one of relief, as I was fairly sure that was it, and I was really wishing that this was all a dream.

So I got up and went to the bathroom to have a look at the remains, and it turns out they were all still there. (It took extensive visual inspection, plus counting teeth with tongue repeatedly, to convince me of this.) I guess it was a dream after all, but I seem to have been awake throughout. I know I was at the end, because I wrote it all down and it was still there in the morning, and I didn't have any sort of noticable transition to waking at any point. I've never really had dreams about teeth before.

Perhaps I'm still asleep.

15-9-2005 (archived)

On Monday night, having passed idiots queueing at garages all the way home, I wrote “may I just say at this point that if I meet any of these ‘fuel protestors’, I will shit in their hats”. It seems that I am still feared. (If you were queueing for petrol and you weren't nearly empty, I don't hate you. I just think you're an idiot.)

Message ends. As you were.

17-9-2005 (archived)

The Business” has almost technicolour-rich photography and a larger-than-life soundtrack of 80s pop backing up a simple cockney-gangsters-in-Spain picture. Enjoyable enough, but somehow not very satisfying.

19-9-2005 (archived)

There's a kind of live-action South Park feel to this, maybe a hint of Ren and Stimpy - though it's all in the vibe, not in the production, this being live-action non-situational stuff. So wrong, and yet so right.

22-9-2005 (archived)

A film about football hooliganism directed and co-written by a German woman and starring an American may seem implausible, but “Green Street” is exactly that. Let us immediately admit and dispose of the fact that Newcastle boy Hunnan's London accent is execrable, and glory in our ability to suspend disbelief over such trivialities. Once you manage that, the film is really surprisingly good. Its portrayal accords with all those newspaper articles that I remember from back in the days of the firms at war, the days of English clubs banned from overseas competitions, and the beered-up belligerence of even non-firm fans on match days fits perfectly from what I remember from my year living at Maine Road; but actually, accuracy is not important at all. This is a film about Macho Bullshit, as a friend of mine explained it to me; that testosterone-driven swagger of incipient violence and stupidity that is so very seductive to even the most modern, sensitive man, and is all the more bullshit when it's true. There is some truth in the claim that the demise of the old male role models leaves men uncertain of who they should try to be, and M.B. is all the more seductive when we're confused. While some of it is played in overly-broad strokes, and the portrayal of the GSE as basically nice boys who like a scrap (Hunnan standing for a woman on the tube, enthusing the schoolboys under his charge, while Bell of Millwall assaults ordinary Londoners in cafes), this is a very good, moving and thought-provoking film, all the more so for its moral uncertainties.

24-9-2005 (archived)

The Longest Yard” isn't the first remake with less message but more entertainment value of recent months. It's an effective, simple comedy, short on anything other than laughs and simplistic messages of moral redemption, but none the worse for that; as Roger Ebert said in his review, “attacking this movie is like kicking a dog for not being better at calculus”. It's obviously not great cinema; it's a simple Hollywood feelgood comedy, made all the less challenging by the fact that most of us have seen the original, and even if we haven't there can be no doubt as to how the game will end. It does its job, and does it very well.

I'm slightly at a loss as to why Courteney Cox wasn't credited; apparently she said in an interview “I had just had my baby, and I think they only hired me for two reasons”, but they're two of the more compelling reasons to watch the film at all. It's no wonder that the first few minutes of the movie feature so disproportionately in the trailer...