Monday, November 29, 2004

Movie Review: Van Helsing

Although, I like Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale, I was disappointed in this movie. The plot was okay, but I really didn't like the varios werewolves, Frankenstein's Monster and Mr. Hyde(which was the exact same as in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I don't think the CGI blended in very well with the live actors. The makers of this movie would have been better off to go either with all live action or all CGI.
Another qualm is that this title character, Van Helsing, bore more than a passing resemblance to the Character "D" the title character in "Vampire Hunter D:Bloodlust" right down to the outfit.
On the plus side Kate Bekinsale and Hugh Jackman turned in good performances. Richard Roxburgh turned in a quirky performance as Dracula. When asked if he has a heart Roxburgh replies, eventually, "No, I'm hollow". I also liked the referances to earlier Universal Studios horror movies. Dracula: "Igor, why must you torment that creature so?
Igor: "It's what I do!
Overall, the movie is worth seeing, but don't expect too much.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Mistake

I just realized that I did not post on the evolution of the eye.
Photreceptors , Rods and Cones and Rhadomeric and Ciliary Eyes .

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For a really cool picture of a Mutant Squid Thingie Ain't biology grand?

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The Evolution of Bats

A while back I provided links on the evolution of the eye. Here are two links for a fascinating discovery concerning the evolution of bats.



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Sunday, November 14, 2004

My Life

I'm approximately three fourths of the way through "My Life" by Bill Clinton. The thing that struck me the most about the book was when he was talking about his ideas on health care. Apparently Bill Kristol, conservative pundit, convinced the republican party that if they passed Clinton's health care plan they would be a minority party for years to come. Consequently, we had the republicans puting the interests of the party above the interests of the people they are supposed to represent. Appalling!

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Wither, the Democratic Party

Yesterday the Democrats got their heads handed to them on a silver platter. In the meantime, the Republicans picked up 4 seats in the Senate. In thinking about it, the Republicans are going with ever more conservative candidates and over the past few years have even campaigned against members of their own party who were not conservative enough. The result has been that liberal Republicans are extinct and moderate Republicans are endagered species. An incidental byproduct is that there is no longer a political "middle". We are divided between left and right with no middle (and of course republicans don't like shades of grey - it's all black and white). Conventional wisdom has it that to win an election you have to capture the center. The idea being that there are more people in the middle than on the far left or far right. But if there is no political center, how are you going to win? This is the problem the Democrats face.
It seems to me there are several options.
1) We can model ourselves after the Republican party. We can come up with one message and make sure all our candidates stick to that message and that message alone (incidently, I had a hard time telling our Republican candidate for governor from any other Republican candidate running in the U.S. because their campaign messages were virtually identical). I don't much care for this option because it does not allow much room for independent or creative thought and turns people into loudspeakers mindlessly spewing out whatever message is plugged in.
2) We can rebuild the center. Starting on a statewide level we can rebuild the party by creating messages that appeal to the common interests. We would also have to work at the federal level to make sure we don't loose anymore ground in the House and Senate. One of the great things about the Democratic party is that we have conservatives, moderates and liberals all coexisting in the same party - unlike the Republicans. This is our greatist strength. So we have the foundation, we just need to build towards the center. Because even though a lot of states went red, not all of them are conservative enough to elect, say, a Rick Santorum. There is enough flexibility in the party to be able to appeal to some of those voters.
3)In the meantime we need a new senate minority leader. I personally am all for a "Nancy Pellosi" type who can stir up a hornets nest. I think it would be bad for the party to replace Daschle with someone indistinguishable from Daschle. Of course, since Senate Republicans broke with tradition and sent Frist and others to campaign against Daschle, I think the Democrats should return the favor and target Hastert, Delay and Blunt in the house.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

November 2!

Go, vote for the candidate of your choice! Your country needs you to perform this duty and you will feel better about yourself if you do!

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Friday, October 29, 2004

And Now for Something Completely Different.....

A word about myself, I have a bachelors degree in anthropology and have also attended two years of grad scholl in anthropology (although sadly I did not get my masters degree - long story). So I think this is just about the coolest thing ever. A species of Homo erectus has been discovered in Indonesia. What makes this totally unique is that adult Homo floresiensis stood three feet tall and had a cranial capacity of about 380 cubic centimeters. Even more astonishing is the fact that H. floresiensis was a tool user. Follow the link Homo floresiensis , as well as the links to Nature's website for more info.

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I Pledge Allegiance to....?

According to Josh Marshall (follow the link and scroll down a little) the President is now requiring anyone who attends his rallies to pledge their personel allegiance to him. Not to the United States, not to freedom, liberty or justice for all. To George W. Bush. I find this appalling, it absolutely undermines the ideas this great country was founded on. Let's get this straight Mr George W. Bush, I pledge allegiance to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I will not now or ever pledge allegiance to any one person! I am a free human being, a citizen of the United States of America and I will like hell put your interests above those of this country. Quite frankly, the whole idea strikes me as treason. I will pledge allegiance to freedom, to democracy, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I will pledge allegiance to reason, to the best the human spirit has to offer, to love, to a genuine passion to help alleviate human suffering and to defending this great country of ours. I will not, Mr. Bush, pledge allegiance to someone who substitutes ideology for rational thought, who thinks they are more important than the interests of our country, who would sacrifice over 200 years of a grand and noble tradition, the likes of which have been a beacon of hope in a cold and fearing world. I will not pledge allegiance to a man who would rather have a personality cult than lead through the greatness of his ideas....

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Darwin's Finches

I am almost finished reading Peter Grant's "Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches". As is well known, the finches on the Galapagos Islands provided Darwin with one of the final pieces in the puzzle of the origin of species and are considered a model demonstration of the effects of natural selection. Grant's book provides a concrete illustration of the correct way to apply evolutionary theory to solve ecological problems. Starting with an overview of the various genre and species on the Galapagos Islands the book moves through environment conditions and feeding behavior, demonstrating how each has an impact on species distribution. Along the way, Grant reviews previous studies of Darwin's finches and provides exhaustive references for anyone who wants to explore the question in more detail. Finally, Grant discusses species distribution in terms of adaptive radiation and considers various scenarios whereby the islands were populated. Although one should have some familiarity with ecology and biology, the book can be read by anyone. I highly recommend the book!

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Bush vs. Kerry

Okay, was it me or did Bush appear really cranky for the first part of the debate. What was up with him talking over Charlie Gibson?? While he may be the president, that kind of rudeness is totally uncalled for.

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Saturday, October 02, 2004


Still playing with the software.

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The Orgin of Species

I am currently reading The Orgin of Species by Charles Darwin. I will be summarizing the entire book (maybe a chapter at a time) in future posts.

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Up late

Well technically I woke up early and can't get back to sleep. This blog will be about science, politics and whatever else I can think of to say.

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