SciFi Friday: News and Rumors on Star Trek, Jericho, Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica and 24

Screen Rant has some rumors on the plot of the upcoming Star Trek movie (skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to see any potential spoilers):

The new Star Trek film will focus much more on Spock than on the crew of the Enterprise. Also, the adventure takes place on a USS Enterprise commanded by Captain Christopher Pike(!), with Pike and crew being helped out by Kirk but not until much later in the film. It’s unknown what ship Kirk would be serving on, but he is not yet a captain at that time. There are battles with the Klingons, and we will get to see the maiden voyage of the original Enterprise: NCC-1701. Finally, none of the film takes place at all at Starfleet Academy.

Slice of SciFi has some stills from the upcoming season of Jericho. There have been rumors that CBS might move up Jericho to this fall to replace struggling shows. These rumors increased when CBS canceled Viva Laughlin but instead CBS will be showing reruns of CSI until November, followed by The Amazing Race. There’s also been rumors that Universal might move Battlestar Galactica to NBC, either starting with previous episodes seen on SciFI Channel or with the fourth season due to the possible shortage of scripts should the writers strike as feared. More recently Ron Moore was quoted by The Los Angeles Times as saying the fourth season will begin in April–which I fear might make them more likely to split the season as earlier rumored.

An April start also means that Battlestar Galactica won’t pick up for eight months after last season’s cliff hanger, but the extended episode, Razor, will be broadcast in November. It will also be shown on the big screen:

SCI FI Channel and Microsoft have joined forces for a groundbreaking partnership to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen. Special advanced preview screenings of the all-new two-hour extended episode Battlestar Galactica: Razor will be held in select movie theaters on Monday, November 12 – nearly two weeks in advance of the episode’s television debut on SCI FI. The event is being managed by National CineMedia LLC.

Written by Michael Taylor and directed by Emmy nominee Felix Alcala, Razor tells the story of Lee Adama’s (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and will reveal the story of how Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies.

Screenings will take place in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle. Admission is FREE, courtesy of Xbox360, Zune, and the new RPG space adventure game “Mass Effect.” A complete list of theaters and ticketing information are available at Seating is extremely limited.

Razor will air on SCI FI on November 24 @ 9pm and will be followed by the release of an extended/unrated DVD edition on December 4.


Flash Gordon started out a disaster, and I didn’t watch beyond the first episode. The shows producers are promising to do better and discussed planned changes in the show. Meanwhile NBC is attempting to improve The Bionic Woman. The have hired Jason Cahill, formerly a writer for The Sopranos, as the program’s new show runner.

The trailer for the seventh season of 24 is posted along with some news on the upcoming season:

Set in Washington, DC, “Day 7” opens with CTU dismantled and JACK BAUER (Kiefer Sutherland) on trial. Bauer’s day takes an unexpected turn when former colleague TONY ALMEIDA (Carlos Bernard) returns. Meanwhile, President ALLISON TAYLOR (Cherry Jones) leads the country alongside White House Chief of Staff ETHAN KANIN (Bob Gunton) and First Gentleman HENRY TAYLOR (Colm Feore).

A national security crisis prompts an investigation by a team of FBI agents including Agent JANIS GOLD (Janeane Garofalo), Agent RENEE WALKER (Annie Wersching), Agent LARRY MOSS (Jeffrey Nordling), Agent SEAN HILLINGER (Rhys Coiro) and security specialist MICHAEL LATHAM (John Billingsley). Although CTU is no longer, CHLOE O’BRIAN (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and BILL BUCHANAN (James Morrison) are back for another momentous day of shocking events.

It looks like Jack is under investigation for his use of torture, and that Tony may be the bad guy. Of course things might not turn out as they first appear.

John Edwards Moves From Junk Science to Junk Economics

I’m not sure which is worse, the junk science which Edwards sold to juries to make his fortune as a trial lawyer or the junk economics he is selling to the voters of Iowa. Edwards is escalating his attacks on the corporations. Such a populist message might pay off in rural Iowa, but it will be a tough sell nation wide.

Despite what John Edwards might want to tell you, corporations essentially are not evil. They are not good either. They are generally amoral creations primarily concerned with making profits. Profits are not evil. John Edwards should agree with that–after all he sure has made plenty of money. While sometimes corporations might do objectionable things to make the profits, and in some cases specific government action might be needed, it is also corporations which create many of the jobs in this country. To paraphrase the commercial, corporations make the things that we buy–period. If they make a profit by selling us things that we want that is perfectly fine–especially as we have the opportunity to share in the profits by investments. Edwards’ meme of making corporations the source of all evil is to economics what the junk science in his malpractice cases was to real science.

This does not mean that there aren’t legitimate areas to change the relationship between corporations and government. The energy industry should not be able to write energy policy as Dick Cheney allowed them to. The massive benefits to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries under Bush’s Medicare D plan should be eliminated along with other cases of corporate welfare. The government must remain vigilant against companies which falsely report financial data and otherwise harm investors.

While sometimes corporations cross the line, in other cases we must remember that this is a free society. This applies to businesses as well as individuals. Corporations may do things we wish they wouldn’t, such as pay executives huge salaries and retirement benefits, but government should have no control over such matters.

In 2004 John Kerry saw the problems in health care and devised a plan which experts writing for The National Journal ranked the best plan of all the candidates. Kerry’s plan concentrated on voluntary measures to assist individuals and companies obtain health care at an affordable price, but he decided against mandates. Edwards, along with most of the other Democratic candidates, have forgotten that the problem is to offer assistance to those who desire it, not shove it down everyone’s throats. Now Edwards has gone even further, not only requiring that businesses provide health care coverage. Edwards will require employers to offer a new universal retirement account to all workers.

Next I suspect Edwards will promise a chicken in every pot, or perhaps promise to each according to their needs.

The News John Edwards Did Not Want You To See
John Edwards vs. The First Amendment

Bill Clinton Puts Down 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists

Bill Clinton, like Bill Maher, also had to deal with heckling from 9/11 conspiracy theorists who deny all evidence of a terrorist attack and claim that it was an inside job. Clinton responded with indignation. While I agree, I did prefer Maher’s comment on a recent show (video here):

New Rule: Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion have to stop pretending that I’m the one that’s being naïve. How big a lunatic do you have to be to watch two giant airliners packed with jet fuel slam into buildings on live TV igniting a massive inferno that burned for two hours and then think, “Well, if you believe that was the cause?” Stop asking me to raise this ridiculous topic on this show and start asking your doctor if Paxil is right for you.

While an anti-depressant might not be the optimal treatment, Maher is correct in equating this to mental illness. Simply reading the comments posted here by the conspiracy theorists in the various threads where this came up should demonstrate that you need to have a screw or two loose to accept the irrational claims being made. Time has even reviewed some of the factors at work here:

There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. “We tend to associate major events–a President or princess dying–with major causes,” says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. “If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us.” In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.

You would have thought the age of conspiracy theories might have declined with the rise of digital media. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a private, intimate affair compared with the attack on the World Trade Center, which was witnessed by millions of bystanders and television viewers and documented by hundreds of Zapruders. You would think there was enough footage and enough forensics to get us past the grassy knoll and the magic bullet, to create a consensus reality, a single version of the truth, a single world we can all live in together.

But there is no event so plain and clear that a determined human being can’t find ambiguity in it. And as divisive as they are, conspiracy theories are part of the process by which Americans deal with traumatic public events like Sept. 11. Conspiracy theories form around them like scar tissue. In a curious way, they’re an American form of national mourning. They’ll be with us as long as we fear lone gunmen, and feel the pain of losses like the one we suffered on Sept. 11, and as long as the past, even the immediate past, is ultimately unknowable. That is to say, forever.

Science Friday: How Evolution REALLY Works


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Paul Challenged to Return Donation From Extremist Backer

Whenever Ron Paul is found to be receiving support from racist or neo-Nazi groups, his cultists (and there really is no better term for them) rush to his defense. They spam any blog which exposes Paul with bogus claims that the criticism represents mere “guilt by association” and often claim that Paul was unaware of the support. The Lone Star Times is working to put an end to that last defense by showing that Paul received a contribution from an extremist and are challenging him to repudiate it:

A investigation has conclusively established that a leading figure in the American neo-Nazi / White-Supremacist movement has provided financial support to Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

The individual in question is Don Black, the founder, owner and operator of Stormfront, a “white power” website that both professional journalists and watch-dog groups have identified as the premier English-language racist/hate-site on the Internet.

As I previously noted, Paul has received the endorsement of Stormfront. Some Paul cultists claimed that he must be unaware of their support. The Lone Star Times has demonstrated that public records show a contribution from Don Black to Paul’s campaign. The Lone Star Times calls on Paul to repudiate such groups and the views they hold, as well as to donate the money received from them to charity. (They recommend donating the money so that the money won’t be returned to them to promote their “psychotic bile.”)

From time to time candidates will return the donations from unsavory groups which they do not want to be associated with. Any serious candidate, Democrat or Republican, would repudiate the support from groups such as Stormfront. In contrast Paul has worked to attract the support of such groups and even promotes policies which might advance their agenda as I previously discussed here and here. If Paul does not wish to be associated with such groups it is time for him to do the honorable thing and repudiate them. My bet is that he won’t as his writings and actions suggest his views are closer to the views of such groups than he makes apparent in more public arenas such as the Republican debates. I hope Paul proves me wrong on this and, if not, the media starts asking Paul the hard questions.