The PZ Myers travel and speaking schedule

I believe in making things easy for my stalkers, so here’s where you can find me in the near future.

  • Our good and gracious Seed overlords are flying me in to New York next weekend, June 2-4. I’m going to be wrapped up in a little bit of a social whirl, but I might have a few scraps of free time in there—and I know there is a plan to turn me loose in the Bronx Zoo for a while. I will be attended by my trusty batman, Connlann, so if any young NY ladies want to meet a hunky midwesterner, let me know—I’ll have one with me. I, of course, will be more interested in the non-human organisms, and am not hunky.
  • The week after that, my wife Mary and I will be at YearlyKos, June 8-11 (it’s filling up, so if you’re thinking about it, act soon!). If you can’t make it, apparently everyone there, including me, will be liveblogging the various events.
  • On the 18th or 19th of July (the dates are still being arranged), I’ll be speaking at a meeting of Atheists for Human Rights on “Science & Secularism in a Demon-Haunted World“. I’m following Barry Lynn, who’s speaking there in June, and preceding (tentatively) Gloria Steinem in August. I feel a little out of my league.

The rest of the time, I’m hoping I can just stay quietly in Morris and get some work done.

Things blowed up real good: X-Men 3

The plot:

Imagine that people have invented a “cure” for mutants, which is housed in an isolated building, guarded by swarms of soldiers armed with guns that fire hypodermic needles loaded with the cure and bombs that send clouds of cure-shrapnel flying through the air.

Now imagine that you are the cunning mastermind of an army of mutants who want to destroy that cure. You personally have vast mental powers that let you move immense pieces of architecture around like they were legos. Your army has diverse powers: they can fly, they can teleport, they can move at lightning speed, they can camouflage themselves perfectly, etc. You also have under your control the MOST POWERFUL MUTANT IN THE UNIVERSE, who can make things disintegrate by giving them a peevish look. You want to destroy the cure. What do you do?

A) Put together a strike team with complementary super-powers that allow them to penetrate the building and take out the source of the cure.

B) Use brute force. Use your powers to pick up the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, and drop it on the building. Everything goes squish, mission accomplished.

C) Use your powers to pick up the Golden Gate Bridge, and drop it a hundred yards short of the building. Tell your mutant army to run across it and go jump on the soldiers, who are armed and showering the killing ground with nasty sharp needles that turn them into normal humans…although it’s not as if they were using their mutant powers much in the assault anyway. After your army is annihilated, petulantly and belatedly start flinging flaming cars at your enemy, while letting them run up to you. Maybe later your disintegrator mutant will zap a few people…of course, they all seem to be the ones on your side.

Guess which strategy the movie used. If you need a hint, which choice would involve the most explosions and mutant rasslin’?

The characters:

This is a movie that trots out character after character, each given about 30 seconds to demonstrate some freakish CGI, and then poof, they’re done, until they get tossed into the meat-grinder climactic battle.

Purportedly, the central character conflict revolves around the resurrected Jean Grey, who now has mega-powers and a child-like, impulsive mind. This deep inner struggle, however, is portrayed by having her stand around a lot looking blank, and every once in a while slathering on some bluish-purple veiny makeup and having her look cross. Then she disintegrates people for a while, before going blank again. Then a fellow mutant does something dramatic, and poof, the conflict is resolved in about 30 seconds.*

Forget the characters. They could have saved money if they’d just posed some of the movie’s line of action figures on the set.

The “science”:

I was concerned going into this that there’d be a lot of painful pseudoscientific gobbledygook in an attempt to explain how all this stuff worked. There was one throw-away line about how all these different powers are produced by a single X gene, and they can be blocked with an antibody, at which I boggled and was ready to shake my fist at the screen and embarrass my kids…but then the movie threw all this super-powerful magical impossible stuff at me, and a proper sense of perspective was restored. It’s all BS. You gotta go with the flow.

Final grade for the movie: D. The writers were stupid, the director was a hack, the story was trivial, and the actors were little more than armatures for CGI. Things blowed up good, though.

Oh, and there was that final few seconds after the credits. I won’t say exactly what it is, but apparently the disintegration CGI didn’t necessarily always mean the victim was disintegrated. And unfortunately, there will be an X-Men 4.

*If you want to see this kind of story done well, watch season 6 of Buffy.

The local bluenose brigade on parade

A new Planned Parenthood clinic is opening in Woodbury, a Minneapolis St Paul suburb. It’s a small place without a doctor on staff (a PA or nurse practitioner will be available), and it’s primarily there to dispense contraceptives and information. No big deal, right? It’s a useful service to have available in a community.

So why are people trying to close it down?

Demonstrators from St. Croix Valley Life Care Center will be joined by ones from Pro-Life Action Ministries and other groups from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday and again Thursday, when the clinic opens, and will aim to shut the clinic down, Kiolbasa said.

Minnesota Sen. Brian LeClair, R-Woodbury, plans to attend the protest and wants to explore what can be done to close the business. “One hundred percent yes, I do not want it in Woodbury,” LeClair said.

This isn’t about abortion. This is about self-righteous, religion-obsessed control freaks trying to control other people’s sexuality and trying to reduce the availability of contraception. Planned Parenthood doesn’t force condoms on people, people aren’t dragged through its doors to have birth control pills poured down their throat—it makes an option available, nothing more.

And these people, including one of our state senators (one who has a bit of a reputation as a pretentious ass, by the way) want to shut it down.

Nice. It’s another reminder that this isn’t a serious argument about the ethics of abortion, it’s about bigots who are afraid of sex trying to force their reactionary strictures down everyone else’s throats.

(via Minnesota Politics)

Friday Random Ten

It’s been a while, but here’s the noise I’ve been listening to for the last half hour:

Lord Death’s Counting Song Shoko Asahara
Wanna get next to you Rose Royce
Stranger Inside Boondogs
James Bond Theme Moby
Drunken Lullabies Flogging Molly
Laenge siden (Long Ago) Sorten Muld
Macary Mamani keita & Marc Minelli
Bobby Hughes Combination – Cli Stephane Pompougnac
Skyline California Guitar Trio
Bride in Cold Tears Tangerine Dream


Gary Farber has a round-up of the reviews of X-Men: The Last Stand. My two boys and I are going to go see it tonight (yes, it’s true—we have a first-run movie on opening day here in the little town of Morris). Skatje is going to be working the refreshment stand at the theater, so it’s going to be a family event, sort of.

When I saw X2, I have to say that the freaking stupid nonsense about evolution in the opening and closing scenes drove me to distraction, and I’m afraid there will be more of the same here. It’s a struggle, but these movies do have an entirely idiotic premise—mutations just don’t work that way—and I have to shut down most of my brain to be able to sit through them. This will only work if there are sufficient explosions and laser blasts and naked Romijns to keep me distracted.

I’ll put up my review tomorrow. We shall see if I can suspend disbelief for two hours of unbelievable mutants.