SciFi Weekend: Tardis Remake; Avatar Sequel; Will Sheldon Meet Nimoy?; Summer Glau As Crime Fighting Blogger; Lost; Caprica

This regeneration of The Doctor is accompanied by more changes than are usually seen with a regeneration on Doctor Who. Besides a new Doctor there will be a new companion, a new show runner, and a new interior for the Tardis. The regeneration scene showed the interior being damaged leading to the changes Steven Moffatt desires for the set. The Mirror reports that the Tardis is being upgraded to withstand viewing in high definition.  “It will be the most hitech, intricate Tardis ever.” TV Overmind has more:

“It must be three times the size of Tennant’s, on multiple levels with staircases in between. Less grubby than its predecessor, with a transparent plastic floor on the main level, its walls are resplendent with polished copper and its central column features a blown glass decoration that could be straight from Tales of the Unexpected.

There are old car seats and downstairs – downstairs! – a swing. With a nod to Paul McGann’s Tardis, the central column features an old TV screen on an extendable trellis. It also has a 1980s-style computer keyboard, and a His-Master’s-Voice style trumpet speaker.”

When Avatar came and became a box office hit I figured a sequel was inevitable. After all, kicking the evil humans out doesn’t mean that they won’t return with a greater force to exploit Pandora’s resources. I doubt anyone will be surprised to read that producer Jon Landau and director James Cameron are considering a sequel among other projects. Naturally any sequel will also be in 3D. Landau said,  “I don’t think we will ever make another 2D film. Why would we make a movie in black and white if we have color. I think ultimately all movies are going to be in 3-D.” I also fear I might be upgrading televisions sooner than I had anticipated when I went to high definition.

For those who have not seen the movie enough times there is talk of a re-releasing Avatar with additional scenes this summer.

Bill Prady was not successful at getting Leonard Nimoy to make a guest appearance during the second season of The Big Bang Theory but he is going to try again:

Sheldon’s dream of meeting Leonard Nimoy may soon become a reality on The Big Bang Theory. Executive producer Bill Prady says the hit sitcom will likely approach the Star Trek legend early next season about making a cameo.

“We’ll probably make a general inquiry,” says Prady. “And if there’s enough interest, we’ll develop a story. The fans have said that’s the dream get, and we agree.”

Nimoy declined an invitation to appear on Big Bang back in season 2, although the 78-year-old has since returned to television with a recurring gig on Fringe. “There’s always an issue with actors playing themselves,” Prady theorizes, “which most actors would rather not do.”

Speaking of Fringe, TV Overmind has some information regarding the show’s first episode back on April 1 which shows Peter’s back story.

Summer Glau will play a crime fighting blogger next season:

Glau, who has probably starred in more cult sci-fi series than any other actress, with stints on Fox’s “Firefly,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Dollhouse,” has joined NBC’s superhero-themed drama pilot “The Cape” in a leading role.

In the pilot, directed by Simon West, a former cop (David Lyons) is set up as a criminal and becomes a masked hero, the Cape, to clear his name.

Glau will play Orwell, a cute and intrepid investigative blogger who fearlessly goes after corrupt cops and costumed bad guys.

This week’s episode of Lost was centered on Benjamin Linus. In the alternate reality off the island Ben returned home from the island at a younger age instead of spending his life there (which is a good thing considering that the island wound up under water). Ben was still working on evil plots but didn’t have the killer instinct he developed on the island. It was concern for Alex which led to him backing down, with no explanation as to who Alex’s father is. Next week’s episode will center around Sawyer.

A lot happened on Caprica but none of it had the impact of the final moment when Daniel walked up to the Cylon and said one word: “Zoe.” Only two more episodes are left until a break with the remaining eleven episodes of the season to air in October.

Skeptics vs. Denialists

Amanda Marcotte points out what should be clear but is not to some people: there is a major difference between skeptics and denialists. She points out the error in referring to global warming denialsits as skeptics as opposed to denialists and defines what denialists are:

Let’s get into definitions.  What is a denialist?  Denialists are a very specific form of conspiracy theorist.  Some conspiracy theories argue the Freemasons control the world, that Bush was behind 9/11, or that there was a plot to kill JFK.  They create alternative readings of history that satisfy their allergy to the chaotic form real systems take.  Denialists, however, are more interested in taking those things that are established science or history, and denying their reality or importance. They often have ulterior political motives, but sometimes they just deny because reality makes them feel small or dependent or helpless.  There are a lot of denialists:

*Holocaust deniers, who promote the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax.  They either flat-out deny it, or, more commonly, they try to say it wasn’t as bad as history would have you believe.
*Anti-vaxxers, who promote the idea that the great public health innovation of the modern world is actually more dangerous than helpful.
*Moon landing nutters, who deny that the U.S. put a man on the moon, and claim it was staged.
*Creationists, who deny the theory of evolution.
*HIV denialists, who deny that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which is related to conspiracy theories about how the government is behind AIDS.

Later she explained the difference with skeptics:

What is a skeptic, and why aren’t denialists skeptics?

Skeptics also ask questions, but a big difference between skeptics and denialists is that skeptics listen to answers and regard evidence as paramount.  Denialists tend to see the piles of evidence against their claim, and see a conspiracy theory to perpetuate a hoax.  But skeptics accept good evidence.  Skeptics have a lot of respect for science, and denialists are usually out to undermine scientists working in the field where they have an agenda.  Denialists will wear the costume of scientific thinking, but they usually show a piss-poor understanding how how the accumulation of studies and data work.  (For instance, they promote the idea that if one study can be found to be flawed, this brings down the whole theory, as if the other hundreds of studies don’t count.)

This distinction is really important, because the role of skeptics is to dispute and even disprove outrageous conspiracy theory claims.  Skeptics fight against denialists.  That’s why I’m interested in skepticism—I fear that there’s a surge of denialist thinking in our culture fueled by new media (which is great at a lot of good things, but also good at spreading misinformation) and the explosion in both complications in world politics and the everyday person’s awareness of them.  As science begins to dictate more and more of what we know, there’s also a cultural backlash that’s related to the overall backlash against modernism.  Skepticism is becoming more and more important as the political troops to defend science.  So when people who are part of the anti-science backlash call themselves “skeptics”, this confuses the issue.

Tomorrow’s Right Wing Attack Regarding Health Care

Tyler Cowen, writing in The New York Times, warns that no matter whether the current health care reform legislation is passed we will be seeing more of managed care.

There is no doubt this is true. The financial realities are there regardless of whether or not health care reform is passed. As Cowen concludes, most Americans are in denial of the fact that “our government — or, for that matter, our insurance companies — can’t pay every bill.”

This does have an important ramification for the future spin war. Republicans are already falsely claiming that health care reform will lead to rationing and even “death panels.” They are attacking the proposed cuts to Medicare even though the proposed cuts would primarily reduce the profits of insurance companies which sell Medicare Advantage plans and will not significantly affect patients .

However, while the proposed health care reform bill does not ration care or meaningfully cut Medicare, the economic reality is that we are going to see more rationing and cuts to Medicare in the future. Democrats, who are already losing the spin war, need to be careful if health care reform is passed. It is inevitable that conservatives will blame future changes in health care which have nothing to do with the current legislation on “Obamacare.”