SciFi Friday: Kate’s Trial, Jericho’s New History, and 24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot

This week’s episode of Lost answers two questions raised by last season’s finale. We learn both why Kate is free after she gets off the island and who she was in a hurry to return to. I find it questionable that there would have been nothing they could have convicted Kate of without her mother’s testimony, but there have been far more unbelievable occurrences on the show. This week’s end of episode shocker was predictable. After seeing Kate with Aaron on the island I did assume that Aaron would turn out to be the one she referred to as her son throughout the flash forward. We also hear more of the fake story given by the Oceanic Six, without any clue as to why they are telling this. I also wonder why they are saying that eight survived the crash but two died later as opposed to saying all but six died in the crash if they do not want to admit that others survived on the island.

Seeing Aaron being raised as Kate’s son makes it safe to assume Clair did not make it off the island. The vision Desmond described to Charlie included Claire and Aaron getting on the helicopter to be rescued, suggesting that Claire might have died afterwards. Then there’s the question of what happened to Desmond and Sayeed on the way to the freighter. I suspect that the distortions in time are involved.

Jericho‘s political storyline is getting more ominous. The Cheyenne government not only has a new flag but is rewriting history in a manner which many conservatives might agree with. It looks like the plot was to knock out all the cities leaving America dominated by red state mentality. There are rumors that Jericho will not make it beyond this season unless ratings pick up tremendously. If that should happen, at least one of two possible endings for the season does tie up the series.

Besides Jericho, it looks like another science fiction series won’t survive. Bionic Woman is being canceled, but that’s no great loss. If you run out of new shows to watch, an increasing number of old shows are being made available on line. Here’s a list of what’s available from NBC. CBS has decided to do the same, and is including the original series of Star Trek.

I heard a while back that a remake of Death Race 2000 was in the works. It turns out that it isn’t really a remake but more of a homage to the original. Like the original there is a race, but otherwise the story line, as described here, is quite different.

At the moment I’m waiting for this week’s episode of Torchwood to download. The BBC aired two episodes last week, so we’re getting ahead of the episodes on BBC America. I won’t give any spoilers but can safely mention that Martha Jones appears as promised, and that there is quite a cliff hanger coming up.

Finally, for those who miss 24, here’s the unaired pilot form 1994. Technology just was not the same back then.

Super Delegates Moving to Obama

It does not look like we have to fear that the super delegates will vote contrary to the voters. AP reports that since Super Tuesday many super delegates have announced their support of Obama, allowing Obama to close the gap:

The Democratic superdelegates are starting to follow the voters — straight to Barack Obama.

In just the past two weeks, more than two dozen of them have climbed aboard his presidential campaign, according to a survey by The Associated Press. At the same time, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s are beginning to jump ship, abandoning her for Obama or deciding they now are undecided.

The result: He’s narrowing her once-commanding lead among these “superdelegates,” the Democratic office holders and party officials who automatically attend the national convention and can vote for whomever they choose.

As Obama has reeled off 11 straight primary victories, some of the superdelegates are having second — or third — thoughts about their public commitments.

Take John Perez, a Californian who first endorsed John Edwards and then backed Clinton. Now, he says, he is undecided.

“Given where the race is at right now, I think it’s very important for us to play a role around bringing the party together around the candidate that people have chosen, as opposed to advocating for our own choice,” he said in an interview.

Clinton still leads among superdelegates — 241 to 181, according to the AP survey. But her total is down two in the past two weeks, while his is up 25. Since the primaries started, at least three Clinton superdelegates have switched to Obama, including Rep. David Scott of Georgia, who changed his endorsement after Obama won 80 percent of the primary vote in Scott’s district. At least two other Clinton backers have switched to undecided.

None of Obama’s have publicly strayed, according to the AP tally.

Feingold Backs Obama

Russ Feingold has announced that he voted for Obama in the Wisconsin primary and will support him as a super delegate:

Sen. Russ Feingold said today that he voted for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama in this week’s Wisconsin primary and indicated that he likely will vote for Obama’s nomination as one of the state’s “superdelegates” to the Democratic convention this summer.

“I really do think that at the gut level, this is a chance to do something special” for the nation, Feingold said, adding that electing Obama represents “an enormous historical opportunity for America and for our relationship with the world.”

Religious Groups Criticize Intelligent Design Movement

The International Society for Science and Religion has released the following statement on intelligent design:

The International Society for Science and Religion is a scholarly society devoted to ongoing dialogue between the sciences and the community of world faiths (see It was established in 2002 for the purpose of promoting education through the support of interdisciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion, conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context.

The society greatly values modern science, while deploring efforts to drive a wedge between science and religion. Science operates with a common set of methodological approaches that gives freedom to scientists from a range of religious backgrounds to unite in a common endeavor. This approach does not deny the existence of a metaphysical realm but rather opens up the natural world to a range of explorations that have been incredibly productive, especially over the last 400 years or so.

The intelligent-design (ID) movement began in the late 1980s as a challenge to the perceived secularization of the scientific community, which leaders of the movement maintained had been coloured with the philosophy of atheistic naturalism. ID theorists have focused their critique primarily on biological evolution and the neo-Darwinian paradigm. They claim that because certain biological features appear to be “irreducibly complex” and thus incapable of evolving incrementally by natural selection, they must have been created by the intervention of an intelligent designer. Despite this focus on evolution, intelligent design should not be confused with biblical or “scientific” creationism, which relies on a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language.  Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of “irreducible complexity” in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be “irreducibly complex” today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

Scientific explanations are always incomplete. We grant that a comprehensive account of evolutionary natural history remains open to complementary philosophical, metaphysical, and religious dimensions. Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels.  In many religious traditions, such as some found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the notion of intelligent design is irrelevant We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science – just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).

The British religious thinktank Ekklesia had a favorable reaction to this statement. From their press release:


Obama’s Story Checks Out


During last night’s debate Obama told the following anecdote (video above):

“I heard from an Army captain, who was the head of a rifle platoon, supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition; they didn’t have enough humvees.

‘They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief. Now that’s a consequence of bad judgment, and you know, the question is on the critical issues that we face right now who’s going to show the judgment to lead. And I think that on every critical issue that we’ve seen in foreign policy over the last several years — going into Iraq originally, I didn’t just oppose it for the sake of opposing it. I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan; this is going to fan the flames of anti- American sentiment; this is going to cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and overstretch our military, and I was right.”

Multiple right wing bloggers, who believe they are experts on all things involving the military because they are true blue conservatives, have written all sort of reasons why this could not be true and that Obama is lying. There is one problem with their theories. Reality seems to have that old liberal bias yet once again. Jack Tapper fact checked the story:


Hillary Clinton’s Secret White House Papers

Yesterday my post on Clinton’s experience was cross posted at The Carpetbagger Report and there was a comment from a reader claiming that this line is untrue: “It is also notable that, although she is running on her experience, she is keeping the records from her years as first lady secret until after the election.”

The accusation, which is based upon false claims from the Clinton’s, is that it was George Bush’s restrictions on records which is responsible for keeping Clinton’s records secret and that the Clintons have actually been trying to get the records released. As this Clinton myth is still widely believed I thought it was worthwhile to also here post this information from Newsweek which I used to debunk this claim and prove the validity of the statement in my post:

Bill Clinton has tried to cast blame for the backlog on the Bush White House. “Look, I’m pro-disclosure,” Clinton said in a testy exchange with reporters during a recent press conference. “I want to open my presidential records more rapidly than the law requires and the current administration has slowed down the opening of my own records.” But White House spokesman Scott Stanzel tells NEWSWEEK the Bush White House has not blocked the release of any Clinton-era records, nor is it reviewing any. (Under the 1978 Presidential Records Act, the former president and the current president get to review White House records before they are disclosed. Either one can veto a release.) Ben Yarrow, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, says the former president was referring “in general” to a controversial 2001 Bush executive order—recently overturned, in part, by a federal judge—that authorized more extensive layers of review from both current and former presidents before papers are released. (Hillary’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

But documents NEWSWEEK obtained under a FOIA request (made to the Archives in Washington, not the Clinton library) suggest that, while publicly saying he wants to ease restrictions on his records, Clinton has given the Archives private instructions to tightly control the disclosure of chunks of his archive. Among the document categories Clinton asked the Archives to “consider for withholding” in a November 2002 letter: “confidential communications” involving foreign-policy issues, “sensitive policy, personal or political” matters and “legal issues and advice” including all matters involving investigations by Congress, the Justice Department and independent counsels (a category that would cover, among other matters, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and the pardons of Marc Rich and others). Another restriction: “communications directly between the President and First Lady, and their families, unless routine in nature.”

Archives officials say Clinton is within his legal rights. But other Archives records NEWSWEEK reviewed show Clinton’s directives, while similar, also go beyond restrictions placed by predecessors Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, neither of whom put any controls over the papers of their wives. This undoubtedly reflects the larger policy role Hillary played in her husband’s administration. Still, some analysts are surprised at the broad range of documents Clinton asked the Archives to withhold. “It does sound pretty expansive. You start to wonder what’s not included,” says Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group suing the Clinton library for failing to respond to its FOIA requests, is struck by the former president’s restriction on records relating to his and his wife’s families. That, he says, blocks disclosure of records relating to Roger Clinton, the former president’s half brother, and Hillary Clinton’s two brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham, both of whom were involved in controversial business deals and efforts to secure last-minute pardons later investigated by Congress. But John Carlin, a former Archives chief (and a Clinton appointee) who got the 2002 letter from Clinton, didn’t blame the former president. “Given all that they went through in office,” he says, the restrictions Clinton placed were “not surprising.” Who knows, he asked, how the papers might be used by political foes? That’s a question the Clintons don’t want answered—at least not before next November.

Clinton Defeated and Booed

In a campaign with twenty debates it is possible that history will not recall any particular moments, but there is a possibility that Thursday’s debate could go down in history as the event which marked the end of Hillary Clinton’s aspirations to be president. The key moment of the debate (full transcript here) was a microcosm of the campaign as Clinton tried to repeat her usual attacks and wound up being booed.

Clinton tried to get in a number of jabs but the most memorable was over the bogus charges of plagiarism which she has tried to raise against Obama. Clinton got booed for her prepared line, “change you can Xerox” (video below).


Chris Cillizza summarized the exchange, and explained why it did not work:

Asked about his lifting of lines from Gov. Deval Patrick (Mass.), Obama sought to dismiss the charges of plagiarism as the sort of politics the American public is sick of. “The notion I had plagiarized from someone who is one of my national co-chairs who gave me the line and suggested I use it I think is silly,” Obama said. “This is where we get into silly season in politics and people start getting discouraged about it.”

Clinton, however, clearly believes this is a political weak spot for Obama and went after it — hard. “If your candidacy is going to be about words, they should be your own words,” said Clinton. “Lifting whole passages is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.”

That line, obviously prepared in advance of tonight’s debate, fell flat. The crowd went silent and then a smattering of boos rang out. Obama shook his head and muttered to himself.

That exchange highlighted the difficulty for Clinton when it comes to drawing contrasts with Obama. Any attack falls into a familiar dynamic that she is a partisan politician practicing politics as usual while he is a transformational figure bringing hope and change to the system.


James Fallows has explained how campaign speech writers work, so we should not be surprised to see that Clinton borrowed from the work of others in her closing (video above). Josh Marshall provides one example of how she borrowed from her husband’s 1992 campaign:

Clinton, 92: “The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time.”

Hillary Clinton, tonight: “You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country.

Daniel W. Drezner found similarities in the novel Primary Colors, which presumably modeled the fictitious speech after Clinton’s 1992 speech: