Monday, April 28, 2008

ERV has moved

Thanks to Mark (and I mean really, thanks to Mark, this wasnt a generalized Blogger glitch, this was Blogger BS), is back up.

But Im moving to ScienceBlogs!

And backing up all of my old posts tonight instead of studying.

*flips off Blogger*

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why do weird people believe smart things?

Even though Michael Shermer has... confused me... recently, theres no questioning that 'Why People Believe Weird Things' is a skeptical thinking classic. I especially enjoyed the chapter on 'Why Smart People Believe Weird Things'-- How can someone be a physicist during the day, and a ghost hunter at night? How can someone be a high school social studies teacher, but keep a blog on 'THE LOST SECRETS OF ATLANTIS!' during their free time?

Hell, Im even superstitious sometimes-- I think if I dont do the same activities every morning in the same order, Arnie will get disgruntled and get into the trash/bookshelf/futon while Im at work.

But an equally interesting question went unanswered in 'Why People Believe'.

Why do weird people believe smart things?

Im not joking when I look at Creationists like a confused puppy and say "How do you function in the real world?" Do they just randomly accept normal things?

Humans and other primates descended from a common ancestor: NO.
The earth is round: NO... I mean YES.
Its physically possible to boil water to make tea: LET ME CHECK MY BIBLE.
I wondered that very question while watching Robert Kennedy Jrs presentation on campus last week. You all might remember RFK from Respectful Insolence. RFK wrote a good ol fashioned slander piece about the non-existent VACCINES-->AUTISMOMG a couple years ago. Not just the normal stupid anti-vaxer claims-- slanderous crap against scientists and the CDC.

So I was interested when I heard RFK was coming to campus (a medical research campus) to speak about global warming. Despite the fact RFK is on the 'science' side of climate change, his previous behaviors have clearly established that he is not pro-science. Hell, he is anti-science. So why is he pro-science in the case of global warming? I mean, global warming is in fashion this political season (YAY! As long as it isnt just for show), but is he that shallow?

I dont think RFK is *that* shallow, but he is definitely anti-science.

His presentation on global warming, to scientists, included no science. Lotsa folksy stuff, like how hes just so miffed that he cant eat the fish he catches with his boys cause the lake mercury levels are too high. Cause Jebus Christ told em that he is supposeta take care of the earth (I was treated to a >20 minute sermon, you know how much I enjoyed that). Cuase its good economics to go green!

Well, I agree with two of those three things, but, um, no science.

Except when he urged the audience, several times, to have their hair tested for heavy metals. If he was a woman, he said, his mercury levels are so high he would be at risk for having a baby with autism.

Isnt that special.

Shorter Robert Kennedy Jr--
Only do the right thing when it directly benefits you.

Only do the right thing because an invisible sky pixie will hurt you if you dont.

Only do the right thing because its cost effective.
I guess thats how weird people can occasionally believe smart things?

Monday, April 21, 2008

ERV, Queen Elizabeth, James Dobson

What do ERV, Queen Elizabeth, and James Dobson have in common?



I cant find my favorite songs on YouTube from my other birthday brother, Iggy Pop ('Turn Blue', 'Some Weird Sin'). So heres just a friggen hysterical clip:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Second EXPELLED Copyright Case 'Resolved'

'Inner Life' and all of its yellow permutations are out of EXPELLED.

No such 'luck' for The Killers:

"I just spoke to the band's manager, and adding to the confusion was the fact that they did authorize a project months ago with this request:

'The film is a satirical documentary with an estimated running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, exploring academic freedom in public schools and government institutions with actor, comedian, economist, Ben Stein as the spokesperson.'

She later added:

"The band asked the producers to remove their song from the film when they became aware of the true nature of it. They were told it is too late. That's all there is."
Well, you all can write the jokes from here. But something jumped out at me-- "1 hour 50 minutes"?

It was 97 minutes pre-XVIVO.

Now its only 90.

Its the incredible shrinking propaganda film.

Which even the TheoTARDS think is 15 minutes too long.


(H/T Quidam at AtBC)


For $25, you and a friend could go to EXPELLED for shits and giggles.

Or, if youre in the OKC area, you can go to the OKC animal shelter* and adopt a dog or cat-- Theyre having a special promotion right now :)

Spayed/Neutered, all shots, $25 (I spent hundreds on Arnie to get him checked out/shots/fixed).

A little running buddy.

Someone to keep you company while youre studying at 4 am... for the third night in a row.

Waggy mess of fuz that makes it physically impossible to ever have a real Bad Day.


Just putting it in perspective for those of you tempted to watch the train wreck...

*In honor of the OKC shelter pledging to be no-kill by 2010, Im using my birthday money (*COUGH*MONDAY*COUGH*) to buy some fleece blankies and bags of raw hides to donate. A friend is dropping them off for me, though, as I dont 'do well' at shelters...)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Premise Lawsuits, Toddler Animations, and a Final Resolution

Mkay. So I just got a copy of Premise Medias SLAPP lawsuit against XVIVO.

It is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever read in my entire life. And I have read the Bible and Atlas Shrugged.

Its 16 pages.

The first 15 pages explain why they filed the suit in Texas instead of Canada (Premise) or Connecticut (XVIVO). 15 pages. Of this:

12. In addition, on information and belief based on the materials
displayed on the XVIVO Web Site, an Internet user in Texas and in this district can interact with XVIVO over the Internet in the following ways, among others:
a. view XVIVO promotions, offers for services, and solicitations;
b. hyperlink and download various items of sample work product including but not necessarily limited to the Inner Life Video;
c. provide information to, and otherwise communicate with XVIVO;
d. ask questions and receive answers about XVI VO's products and services, including ongoing projects
... etc etc etc etc etc...

Shorter first 15 pages:
Yeah. Im sure it has *nothing* to do with the fact Texas has no anti-SLAPP laws. Premise is suing in Texas because "an Internet user in Texas and in this district can interact with XVIVO over the Internet".

So whats the last page about? Its a fucking ad for EXPELLED:
Premise Media's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a provocative documentary film that examines the scientific community's academic suppression of those who dissent from the belief of the adequacy of Darwinian evolution to explain the origin of life.
The Documentary Film Expelled is narrated by Ben Stein, a well known actor, who is also a lawyer, economist, writer, and former presidential speech writer. Mr. Stein and the Expelled producers feel that Neo-Darwinism inappropriately dominates the classroom and academia and are interested in promoting free speech and debate regarding a diversity of views.
It goes on and on and on like that. But eventually they get to the meat of their claims. And they make no sense whatsoever:
In preparing the Documentary Film, Premise Media commissioned computer animation of some of the natural processes inside a living cell (ERV-- Please note, even in the lawsuit, they dont say who made their animation. I will be taking bets in the comments if you have guesses).

Some time ago, as part of the pre-release activity relating to the Documentary Film, Premise Media commissioned a DVD highlighting some parts of the Documentary Film as then planned. The DVD was designed as an educational resource highlighting the theme of the Documentary Film and was distributed free of charge in all cases. The resource DVD included a short clip of an animation of the inside of a cell. The short clip showing the cell interior was independently created early in the production process, and was used in the resource DVD. At the time the short resource DVD was made, the Documentary Film was not complete. The final version of the film does not contain the segment from the DVD on which XVIVO appears to base its claims in its April 9 letter.

Even so, Defendant evidently obtained access to the resource DVD or its contents, as indicated in Exhibit 1, because, on information and belief, at the time it sent that letter, XVIVO could not have seen the Documentary Film (it had not been released).

The specific segment from the educational resource DVD is not even in the final version of the Documentary Film to remove.
So, they knew what they were doing was morally and legally wrong, and have been working on a replacement for theatrical release. The animation on the DVD is not in the movie. But the reason they changed it was NOT because it was obviously stolen from 'Inner Life' and other resources.


Makes sense to me.

But this part is funny shit and worth reading 15 pages of "I CAN EMAILZ DEM SO I CAN HAS LAWSUIT IN TEZAS?":
Even if the resource DVD or Documentary Film had relied on the Inner Life Video in part (which it did not), any such use would be protected by the doctrine of fair use.

In addition, the fact that XVIVO makes available the Inner Life Video on its website with the "lead in" that "A full length version of 'The Inner Life of a Cell' is now available online for educational use" (emphasis added) creates an implied nonexclusive license for Premise Media to precisely do what XVIVO now complains Premise Media is doing, arguendo, i.e., make "educational use" of that video, via a Documentary Film.

Shorter version:

So, youve heard it here first, folks! All of you that saw previews of EXPELLED and saw a yellow 'Inner Life'-- you were hallucinating. All of you. Mass, country-wide, specific hallucinations. 'YELLOWZ INNER LIVES IS NUT IN EXPELLED! YELLOWZ INNER LIVES IS NUT IN EXPELLED! WHooooOOOO!'

Dont feel bad, hallucinating readers. Mark Mathis is even having trouble remembering what he has seen and which animation is in EXPELLED:
GW: I have compared the original Harvard footage with the promo DVD version that Myers has posted at Pharyngula, and though I’ve only seen the film once, as I recall, there are very, very substantial differences between the final cut of the animation and the version that appears on the promo DVD. Is that right?

MM: You know, I haven’t made— I believe that’s the case; but I haven’t actually watched what Myers has posted. I haven’t made my own comparison. I apologize; I should have done that, because I have the DVD version. I have the film on PC, too, so I can do that. My problem has been that I’m running so hard and fast doing twenty-seven other things that— I know that we’ve got Executive Producers who have dealt with this specifically, and this is kind of in the periphery of what I’ve been involved in. But I’m glad you brought that up, because I need to make that comparison myself, just for my own. But I know, because I’ve watched both, that certainly there are significant differences and improvements, and I believe that, because of those substantial differences, there isn’t any merit to the charge. (H/T Quidam)
Poor poor Mark Mathis. All those lowly internet rats giving you trouble when all you want to do is steal other peoples hard work and make money. Must be so stressful. Explains you forgetting things.

This might be what is in the final version of EXPELLED:

So, EXPELLites knew after Dembski got caught they couldnt leave the real 'Inner Life' in, so they created the Frankenstein 'Inner Life' as a place-holder until they could find some 5 year olds to create a shitty Las-Vegas-Meets-TeleTubbies 'Inner Life' for the actual theatrical release because they knew their Frankenstein wouldnt hold water in court. Prescreenings were tightly regulated so 'no one' could attend but stupid rubes who wouldnt be familiar with 'Inner Life' to squeal on Premise.

I gotta say, this lead up and animation detective work has been a hell of a lot more entertaining than the actual movie will be. Now that the 'real' animation is up, I have no reason to waste $10 to go see it myself. Save my money for quality films.

And XVIVO, Harvard, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute are vindicated-- Their hard work, though pilfered by these shameless half-wit Creationists for the past year, will NOT be in the final version of EXPELLED. WHOO!

Open Challenge to Premise Media

Hi Premise Media!

I know you all read and monitor my blag, cause I see you on SiteMeter. I hope youre learning lots of fun things about endogenous retroviruses and American Staffordshire Terriers.

Anyway, its come to my attention that, unsatisfied with 'merely' stealing a small animation companys work (and money from Sesame Street), you issued a press release about your plagiarism that implied you were going to utilize litigation (curiously in Mega-TARDs backyard) to return honor to your good Christian name.

Now, I cant help but notice that the 'dude', 'cell biologists', or 'team of animators', the individuals who would have the most to lose by being unfairly labeled thieves, are not the plaintiffs-- Premise Media is. And I cant help but notice how after admitting you stole the animation, you think 'stealing' somehow involves free speech rights. But here is my challenge for you, Premise Media. A litigation-free way of clearing your name:

Upload the animation you used at the December 9, 2007 screening.

You made it. You own copyright, right? So upload it. Harvard has theirs online, so you cant possibly be afraid of anything. I dont care if it is a crappy work-in-progress, as long as it shows you were genuinely trying to do this on your own. So upload it.

If it is 'Inner Life', then take responsibility for your actions like big boys. Simply admit that you lied, you got caught, and take it out of EXPELLED (think of this challenge as a bonus for avoiding more litigation with Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

If its not 'Inner Life', then congrats! You made an animation identical to Harvards in approximately 12 days (8 business days!)! Took them about 420 days! YAY! Creationists are 35 times as smart as Harvard. Good for you. And you should have all your data behind you to back up that time-frame, including reasons for why a multitude of errors in 'Inner Life' also appear in your animation. HURRAY! You arent lying thieves. Everyones honor will be satisfied.

You have my email if you wish to direct me towards the video when you upload it. I look forward to resolving this issue.

Your Friend--

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Okay, Angry ERV doesnt stay angry for long if you know the trick-- If you make me laugh, I cant be angry anymore.

Darwin Central made me laugh.

The Official EXPELLED Paternity Test.

H/T to midwifetoad at AtBC!

EXPELLED: ERV finally gets angry

*squints eyes*

*slams head onto her desk*

*keeps slamming her head onto her desk*

*deep breath*

*keeps slamming her head onto her desk*

Okay, so like, you all know what I think about Creationists. Im not an appeaser. Im mad at the current generation of PhDs for not crushing them years ago. I continually get reprimanded from the PTers for calling Creationists 'stupid'-- but every time I hear Behe/Wells/whoever speak Im shocked the men can figure out how to feed themselves, much less get a goddamn PhD.

I think theyre evil little morons.

I didnt think it was physically possible for my opinion of them to go any lower.

You know the next line: I was wrong.

You know those other parts of the animation in EXPELLED? The parts that arent obvious traces of 'Inner Life'? I figured they just got those parts from 'Unlocking the Mysteries of Life' or some dumbass Creationist crap.

But I kept getting emails from people "I know Ive seen that other stuff before!" "Students who plagairize dont just use one source-- I bet EXPELLED people used something other than 'Inner Life' too." But I ignored those people. I was like "HAHAHAHAHA! DI Fellows are stupid mother fuckers, but they arent that stupid! No, Im sure they made those parts on their own!"



That top picture is from the video titled 'The Central Dogma Transcription of DNA to RNA'.

The bottom picture is from EXPELLED.

But youre probably thinking "Wow. EXPELLED-TARDs really did some hunting to find that Australian animation. I guess thats kinda like work. I mean, the closest thing youll ever get to 'work' out of a lazy ass silver spoon Creationist."

Nono, dear reader. You know where those fuckers got the idea to steal that particular animation?


After denying, then admitting, then denying (OH! Mega-TARD took that last post down! No harbles for him, eh?) stealing the hard work of a small animation company and a couple of hard working scientists, turns out the Discovery Institute Fellows stole from PBS too. The organization they found just sooooooooo offensive after 'Judgment Day' and 'Evolution'. The organization that teaches little kids how to count and the alphabet and how to read and how being different is okay...

The Discovery Institute stole from Mr. Fucking Rogers.

You have got to be shitting me.

What the fuck is the matter with those people???

They arent just idiots-- everyone acts stupid now and then.

They arent just delusional-- everyone can act wonky if you give them enough NyQuil.

The only answer is that they are genuinely bad people.

Thats all we can expect from them. Ever.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Well shit.

I was going to save these posts until after EXPELLED was released, but now there is no point in waiting. After the Discovery Institutes blatant theft of a small animation companys work, three out of four of Papa-TARDs remaining functional neurons must have died after working so hard to drip out 'But all deh cells looks dey sames!' as a defense... only to have their massive effort ruined when Megalomania-TARD bravely screamed 'LEEEEEEEEROOOOOOY JENKINS!'-- admitting the DI stole XVIVO/Harvards damn animation.

Right on the internet.

For everyone to read.

Including Harvard law.


But I might as well put this series of posts up so you gentle readers can critique the stolen animation for your friends, if they should still be under the impression that the Discovery Institute Fellows are somehow 'honest' or 'intelligent'.

Actin is one of those pesky proteins Creationists wish didnt exist. You see, humans got several different kinds of actin out of that impossible evolutionary mechanism of gene duplication and divergence. But bad news for Creationists is good news for you! Youve got different kinds of actin that have their own special duties. For instance, you probably remember 'actin' from high school bio, when you talked about muscle contractions-- Actin, myosin, etc. Thats 'alpha' actin.

The actin at the beginning of 'Inner Life' is 'beta' actin. Beta actin forms the cytoskeletal network at the cell membrane surface, and can quickly change shape when a cell wants to move. But this actin network is never static, and it does not change shape by itself. Beebopping around the network are proteins that stabilize the structures, and ones that destabilize it. Here is a short list of the little actin-altering dudes floating around.

Changes within the actin network at the cell membrane surface is an integral part of the 'Inner Life' plot. I mean, the whole story is about how a lymphocyte moves to a site of infection, and the cell wouldnt move at all if it werent for changes in the actin network. But XVIVO chose to omit all of the actin binding proteins for simplicitys sake:
Whats important to note here too, is that in addition to the static actin network structure, in addition to the absence of actin binding proteins, notice how 'Inner Life's actin network forms a nice, pseudo-diamond crystal, horizontal sides differing from the vertical component in size, general shape/structure, and color.

This is what an actin network looks like through a microscope:
Hat tip and thank you to The Daily Transcript for the pic (and go read the rest of that post on actin!).

So, knowing what you know now, gentle readers, can anyone explain the EXPELLED rip-off video as anything other than a rip-off?
Same diamond crystal structure. Same vertical/horizontal component size/structure/color differences. Same absence of same proteins.

Its just a shittier version of 'Inner Life'. The horizontal 'actin' looks like it belongs in 'Two Girls, One Cup', not a fucking professional bioanimation.

More to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Best Movie of 2008

Oh. My. God. The sequel to the best movie ever made:

If EXPELLED is tempting you to melt brain cells, go to H&K April 25th instead.

You wont be disappointed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where is the World is Mike Edmondson?

One of the benefits of being a D-list blogger is that I dont get PZ-esque traffic. This means that every once in a while, I can click on my SiteMeter and catch some fun hits-- someone at the NIH, someone living in Figi, its entertaining :P

Its been really fun this past month or so to see all the site hits from Premise Media (LOL! LOSERS!). They started about a month ago, after I posted the 'Inner Life'-Dembski time line. From someone in Vancouver. I happened to be chatting with Peter Irons at the time, and I was like 'Which one of those pieces of shit lives in Vancouver?'

Peter mentioned a name or two, including a computer animator, Mike Edmondson. "Computer animator!" we exclaimed, "Wonder if he is our 'man'?" So Peter dropped Mr. Edmondson a note:

2. As part of this employment, you produced, through digital technology in your studio, a segment of the "Expelled" film, purporting to show the operations of cellular mechanisms, particularly the "walking" models of kinesic activities.

3. I have been advised by several specialists in cellular biology that the segment you created copied, virtually without any changes, significant portions of a video entitled "The Inner Life of the Cell," produced by the XVIVO company in Connecticut, under contract to Harvard University.
Mr. Edmondson promptly replied:
I did not create or have anything to do with the animation in question.
So the guy ('the dude', if you will) who is listed at the computer animator for EXPELLED did not make the Frankenstein 'Inner Life'. Well, okay, there is lots of computer stuff to do-- graphics and such, so I believe(d) Edmondson.
Dude appears to be a genuine computer animator, so I believe him. Copy someone elses shit, and you will never work again, plus I assume there is something about honor in art and being original.
Nows where things get weird. One month ago when I looked at Edmondsons 'LinkedIn' business site it said:
... employment since August 2007 as "Digital Artist/Animator at Premise Media creating animations for the film Expelled and a five minute animated propositional piece.
Here it is now.

One month ago, Edmondsons photo and biography were on the Premise Media web page. Now, this is all the evidence I can find he is (was?) associated with them:

How very, very odd.

I can think of two reasons for Mr. Edmondsons disappearance.

Scenario #1-- Edmondson had nothing to do with EXPELLEDs plagiarism. He did not know the animation in the film was stolen. When he found out from Peter, he found my blog, and emailed Premise-TARDS for an explanation. When the theft was confirmed, Edmondson declared he wanted nothing to do with EXPELLED-- take his name off everything. If there is a stolen computer animation in EXPELLED, and he is listed as the EXPELLED computer animator, he will never work again. Edmondson is an honest guy trying to run his own business and did the right thing.

Scenario #2-- Edmondson is 'the dude.' Premise media, in their frenzy to wipe hard drives and shred notes, is expunging the history of Edmondson from Premise.

If its the former, I urge Mr. Edmondson to contact me or Peter. We can help you.

If its the latter? *flips off Edmondson*

EDITED 6:15 pm-- Edmontons name was removed from Premise/EXPELLED at his request.


EDITED 4-13-08-- Edmondson is a cool dude-- His videos online are friggen hysterical. How he got tangled up with EXPELLites we may never know, but lay off ol dude :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Anyone want seconds?

Guys, we arent going to have to eat for months after this. More roasted Creationist, this time from William Dembski, Megalomania-TARD:

I ve gotten to know the producers quite well. As far as I can tell, they made sure to budget for lawsuits. Also, I know for a fact that they have one of the best intellectual property attorneys in the business. I expect that the producers made their video close enough to the Harvard video to get tongues awagging (Headline: Harvard University Seeks Injunction Against Ben Stein and EXPELLED you think that might generate interest in the movie?), but different enough so that they are unexposed.
So they knew from the beginning that they were making a Frankenstein 'Inner Life.' They knew they were copying 'Inner Life', and budgeted for 'if they got caught.' They hired 'one of the best copyright lawyerz in dah biz', just in case 'they got caught.'

Sooo... This fiasco is the definition of malicious copyright infringement.

It was a nice touch on the producer s part to use the same music as the XVIVO video. Presumably they got permission from the artist is that another possible oversight to explore? But then again, one of the producers was for years in the music business. So most likely they re covered here as well.
DUDE! You stole the music too?!?!?! I didnt know that. Thanks Mega-TARD.

BOTTOM LINE: Before you think the producers of EXPELLED are idiots, you might think that they are chess players who have seen several moves ahead. For instance, have you ever thought who stood to gain the most from the Machine Video featured at UD a week ago?
Yeah, "Creationists caught stealing someone elses work. Again." isnt much of a headline, is it? Put it right next to "Dog bites man" on the front page, eh?

Your lying. Its pathologic. Seek professional help.

I love the smell of roasted Creationists in the morning.

Oh certainly I dont want to eat them. Im a vegetarian. But I still enjoy the smell.

So, like, remember last fall when Billy D finally had to fess up to stealing 'Inner Life'? Remember how the Discovery Institute hung him out to dry, even though they obviously played a part in that fiasco?

Well, I really wondered how the DI would respond to EXPELLED getting caught doing the same goddamn thing. Would the DI pull a Dover and run away screaming, letting Premise fend for itself? Or was the DI inseparably entangled with the Frankenstein 'Inner Life', completely unable to distance itself from its making, and be forced to take responsibility for their actions?

Hum hum hum.

Honestly, I thought they would bail. Make EXPELLED pick a fall guy (like Kevin Miller, or their computer animator) and wash their hands of EXPELLED. Pull a Dover and pretend they didnt have anything to do with it.

But it was clear to me from the beginning that DI had a hand in this. Quote Kevin Miller:

But as far as I'm concerned, no one has copyrighted any cellular processes--at least not yet. I'm sure Craig Venter would like to.
Thats stupid enough to be DI 'lawyer' advice. Well, Kevin, you cant copyright Mus musculus either, but Id really like to see you draw a yellow pair of shorts on Mickey Mouse, put him in EXPELLED, and see what Disney has to say.

But Jonathan Wells, 'ol Papa-TARD himself, has come to the defense of Premise, clinching the DI-Frankenstein connection:
Expelled does NOT use the Harvard animation. The producers paid a professional to create a new animation that is more accurate than the Harvard one (based on current knowledge of cellular processes). Any similarities between the Expelled animation and the Harvard one are due to the fact that both animations depict many of the same processes.
'A professional.' Now, it took a team of Harvard PIs/students and professional bioanimators 14 months to make 'Inner Life'. Premise hired a dude (one dude) to make a nearly identical version in <3 months. And its funny how Wells story doesnt match an earlier defense from Kevin:
We created the animation in conjunction with an animation studio and several cell biologists.
'A dude'. 'An animation studio.' 'Several cell biologists.'

How nebulous of you, Creationists.

And notice how fast Wells jumps to defend the quality of the animation (its BETTER than Harvards!). Thats some fine lulz. Wells, if you werent a functionally retarded Creationist and were actually a 'biologist' you could have picked out a hand full of errors in 'Inner Life' that just so happened to show up in Frankenstein 'Inner Life'. Not just because 'they are the same cellular processes'-- you copied things that are wrong or artistic renditions.

Why dont you, Wells, identify, lets say '3' things in 'Inner Life' that you know are wrong and tell me why you (excuse me, I mean 'the dude') chose to mirror those errors in *your* animation? Im not talking complicated things. Im not talking advanced biochemistry/microscopy/whatever.

Im talking basic, Cell Bio 200, wrongs.

Think of it as practice for your court date.

Ready... Set... GO!

(No cheating from the audience, this is a Q for DI/EXPELLITES only).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

EXPELLED: EXPELLED for plagiarism

This was Kevin Millers ('writer' for EXPELLED) response to my question, "Who made your animation?"

Who made our animation? Some nondescript place with no sign called "Plagermation." Seemed legitimate to me...
Lets see if that holds up in court.
Dear ____:

This letter will constitute notice to you, as Chairman of Premise Media Corporation, of the copyright infringement by your corporation, and its subsidiary, Rampant Films, of material produced by XVIVO LLC, in which XVIVO holds a copyright.

It has come to our intention that Premise Media and Rampant Films has produced a film entitled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which is scheduled for commercial release and distribution on April 18, 2008. To our knowledge, this film includes a segment depicting biological cellular activity that was copied by computer-generated means from a video entitled “The Inner Life of a Cell.” XVIVO holds the copyright to all the models, processes, and depictions in this video, and has not authorized Premise Media or Rampant Films to make any use of this material.

We have obtained promotional material for the “Expelled” film, presented on a DVD, that clearly shows in the “cell segment” the virtually identical depiction of material from the “Inner Life” video. We particularly refer to the segment of the “Expelled” film purporting to show the “walking” models of kinesic activities in cellular mechanisms. The segments depicting these models in your film are clearly based upon, and copied from, material in the “Inner Life” video.

We have been advised by counsel that this segment in your film constitutes an actionable infringement of XVIVO’s intellectual property rights, as protected by federal statutes, including Section 106 of the Copyright Act, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998. Each of these statutes provides for judicial enforcement of their provisions, with substantial civil penalties for their infringement.

We have also obtained legal advice that your copying, in virtually identical form, of material in the “inner Life” video clearly meets the legal test of “substantial similarity” between the copied work and our original work.

This letter will also serve as notice to you that XVIVO intends to vigorously and promptly pursue its legal remedies for your copyright infringement, unless and until Premise Media, Rampant Films, and their officers, employees, and agents comply with the following demands:

1) That Premise Media, Rampant Films, and its officers, employees, and agents remove the infringing segment from all copies of the “Expelled” film prior to its scheduled commercial release on or before April 18, 2008;

2) That all copies of the “Inner Life” video in your possession or under your control be returned to XVIVO;

3) That Premise Media notify XVIVO, on or before April 18, 2008, of its compliance with the above demands.

We have been advised, by a telephone conversation with Mellie Bracewell of Premise Media on April 8, 2008, that an e-mail transmission of this letter to her will be promptly forwarded to you. A hard copy of this letter, on XVIVO stationary, will also be sent to you today by express delivery.

We are sure that you will want to avoid legal action in this matter, and urge you to promptly notify us of your compliance with the above demands. You may do so by return e-mail, directed to _____, followed by a hard-copied letter indicating your compliance with the above demands.

I cant wait to find out who made their Frankenstein copy. Im sure the Usual Suspects had *nothing* to do with it.

Edited to add-- Wes has a nice, non-legal observation that EXPELLED cronies might want to think about, considering Dembski and the Discovery Institutes history with 'Inner Life'.

And, Premise Media people reading my blog *whispers* I can see yoooooou LOL!!! LOSERS!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Building a better polio vaccine (or any vaccine, really)

I cant imagine being a physician 60 years ago, with this picture being an every-day reality:
Row after row of kids with paralyzed diaphragms, locked in iron lungs. Polio.

Though I suppose I cant be too 'shocked and awed'-- I get this:


But with gymnasiums of iron lungs existing only as fading memories for some, and just pictures in history books for others, its easy to forget one tiny little fact-- Polio still exists, in the wild, on this planet. Unlike smallpox, which is confined to prison in a few research laboratories, we have not eradicated polio. And we might never get rid of it completely, unless we change our vaccine strategy.

You all might be aware of three different kinds of vaccines:

  1. Only a component or protein of a virus/bacteria, like a tetanus shot. No risk of infection at all.
  2. A dead virus/bacteria, like your annual flu shot. No risk of infection at all.
  3. An attenuated virus (has been passaged over and over in a different species so its crippled in humans, evolution, WHOOO!). Might actually get the disease from the vaccination.
Polio vaccines come in two forms, Numbers 2 and 3. I got the live attenuated one on a sugar cube before I started school. It provides the best protection because lots of branches of our immune system are activated by the 'live' vaccine. Our immune system can then remember what worked best if we are ever confronted with a real polio virus. I know this one is also preferred in developing countries, as its super easy to administer. Sugar cube. No needles to sterilize. Yay!

So why isnt polio gone?

A problem with this attenuated vaccine is that you poop polio viruses. Crippled polio viruses, but you poop viruses. And because polio is an RNA virus, it might have mutated back to a wild type form.


What can we do? We dont want to keep giving the oral vaccine because it keeps polio 'alive'. We cant do the dead vaccine because its just not as good, and impractical in areas that need the most help. And we cant not give vaccines.

Vignuzzi et al think they have a good idea for how to keep the better live vaccine for RNA viruses, and lose the crappy wild-type polio pooping-- Controlling the attenuation process:
Engineering attenuated virus vaccines by controlling replication fidelity

Their idea is simple-- alter the viruses ability to mutate by making its RNA dependent RNA polymerase better! They tested lots of different amino acid positions and lots of different replacements to see what mutation they could make that would not hurt the overall fitness of the virus. If you start messing with an organisms fitness, you are putting it under pressure to mutate. So dont mess with it! Let it replicate nice and happy, no problems, no stress, let it replicate.

Why? So your immune system can launch a full on assault on the progeny virions, giving you that awesome attenuated vaccine response!

And those progeny viruses (you will still be pooping them, but not as much according to this paper), will be under no pressure to mutate away from the vaccine strain, and their ability to do so will be handicapped anyway (its hard to mutate when your polymerase is super accurate!), so you lose (or at least lessen) the chance of pooping a wild-type virus back into the environment.

Neato! This directed attenuation scheme could work on any RNA virus-- measles, mumps, rubella, rabies-- but they havent actually tried this yet. I mean, they tried it in mice, and got great results, but they havent tried it in people, much less an entire population.

Its nice to know that even though you and I can live blissfully ignorant, iron-lung-free lives, someone is out there making sure our kids can have the same luxury. And theyre using basic principles of the theory of evolution to do it. *gasp!*

Monday, April 07, 2008

Who are we fr*ming for?

I already think the entire concept is stupid. But seriously, I dont even think I know anyone I should be fr*ming for.

N&M say its for religious moderates.

Who are these people?

I know religious liberals (or people I call liberal), and I think we have a lot in common, and I dont think they are 'offended' at my writing.

For instance, one of the few people in OK I consider a real friend is Ian Ramjohn. Hes Christian. He thinks Sally Kern is a bitch (paraphrasing, Ian is much more congenial than I).

Stephen Matheson stood up and denounced her words and actions with a Jesus fish.

James McGrath had the patience to write a Summer Glau response to Kerns rant.

None of my friends growing up, devout Catholics to this day, find anything funny about Kerns view of Christianity. We love our homosexual friends, end of story.

The same can be said of their views on science.

I was never bullied for not being a Christian growing up (even though I was bullied a bit for being a nerd). It was a joke among my friends-- I would go on their church group trips and find all the great prizes during the scavenger hunt (they would each find a coupon for a free ice cream cone at Dairy Queen, Id find $100 cash). Proselytizing attempts were met with "Oh, Abbies not like that. Shes more into that science stuff." One friend got a good lolz out of taunting her fundy aunt with "Abbies going to school to be an abortion doctor."

They arent offended by my line-in-the-sand opinions on science, because theyre right there with me.

Oh certainly my friends and I could get into a big fight over religion (especially me and Ian-- he does that 'I used to be an atheist' thing that drives me up the wall LOL!). And of course I think my friends are being silly and childish-- they know that. And of course I know they think Im going to heaven and Im going to LUV IT, whether I like it or not (???).

But we arent going to fight about science.

And we arent going to fight about civil liberties.

Um... so who, exactly, am I supposed to be fr*ming for?

The people locked in their Ivory Tower Churches? I told the elders at this church two years ago that Harrub was lying to their congregation. Yet there he is on a speaker schedule for this July.

Oh wait, thats why fr*ming is retarded.

Mooney-- Im glad to see youre trying to fr*me your fr*me shit again. Call me when you have some actions and real-world game plans to go along with your meaningless words.

Nisbet-- *flips off Nisbet* Yeah, air headed PhD telling an HIV and cancer researcher to 'be a good citizen'. Piss off. Oh, and nice to see SciBlogs has their very own Uncommon Descent now. April Fools fools on us, eh?

Everyone else-- Stop blogging about fr*ming. It pisses me off and then I have to blog about it to get the pissed-off-ness out of my system. Just stop, until they provide something beneficial to society...

(H/T to Greg Laden)

I LUVS MAH LAZER: The Best Week Evah

Did you all have that thing in gym class in elementary school? Where you had to do so many pull-ups and so many sit-ups and run a mile, and youd win the Presidential Fitness Award or something stupid like that? Well I remember that crap-- Sure I run 3-6 miles a day now with Arnie puppy, but one mile is a long friggen way when youre 10 years old! That crap sucked!

I remember I could make it the whole way by saying to myself "Just one more lap, just one more lap, just one more lap..." Eventually the trick wouldnt work. I knew I had 5 more laps. I knew my stomach hurt. I knew I wasnt getting that stupid 'fitness award' anyway and the whole ordeal was an exercise in futility. But then there really was just one more lap. The end really was in sight.

Thats how I feel in the lab right now.

Its a lab joke-- Ive been stuck, stuck on my project. So Id just keep telling Bossman "Just two more weeks. In two weeks Ill have data. Just two more weeks. Just two more weeks..."

Now, its not a joke any more.

Mah lazer. Mah lazer is so awesome!!!!!!! We got it for my red cells, but the laser on the machine that I use for my green cells is ten times as strong, so even my green results are better. The results I got today-- I was in disbelief. Ive done this same stupid experiment over and over, but today, the machine saw everything!! As my cells popped up on the computer screen, I couldnt do anything by shake my head in disbelief.

I think Im going to be able to go back to the old-school way of titering my viral stocks (much easier than the way I did it today).

For the next couple of months, it will just be plug-and-chug for me.

All of the hurdles between me and the finish line are officially gone.

Im a little angry-- Ive been doing everything right all along, but it was my lazerlessness that held me back.

Im relieved-- this shit works. I can get this done.

Im in disbelief-- Ive been telling myself "Just one more lap, just two more weeks" for so long, I cant believe I might actually finish this project and get this data published.

Im gonna go make out with the new lazer now...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008



"Wait, what?" you might be saying, dear readers. "Youre a biologist. Um, why are you excited about lasers? Isnt that a physics thing? Another April Fools?"

NOOOOOOOOO!! I CAN HAS A NEW LAZER! Life doesnt suck so hard anymore!*

You know how Im doing this red vs green thing?

I hit an impasse.

Our flow cytometer cant see my red cells.

I can look through a microscope and see loooots of lovely red cells, but the friggen flow cytometer cant see them. Its like the red guys are invisible. Why?

Well, a flow cytometer works by shining a beam of light, a *Dr. Evil hand quotes* 'lazer', on a stream of cells. If your cell contains a green fluorescent protein, the GFPs will be excited by the light and fluoresce... green. The flow cytometer software says "w00t! That little guy is glowing!" and pops him over to a different part of your readout chart. A cell that does not contain any fluorescent proteins will slide on by. The flow cytometer software says "Boo. That guys a dud, but Ill count him anyway." Non-fluorescent cells stay clumped in a background region of your readout.

The catch to all of this is that you have to have the right wavelength of light to excite your fluorescent proteins properly for the computer to register a hit. You cant just shine any old light onto your cells and expect to see green and red and blue, etc.

I was using a beam of light at 488 nm to excite both of my proteins-- the red and the green. But look at this chart (from Clonetech, click for a better version):

Im exciting both proteins at 488. Light green peak for green is at 488. The red peak for red is at 551. At 488 nm, DsRED2 is only at ~30% of brightness, so my dim red cells, reduced another 70%... the poor computer cant see them. Red cells are being counted as non-glowing background cells.


I CAN HAS LAAAAZER!!!! We just got a new laser for the flow cytometer... one at 551 nm!!!!!!!!! So I ran a sample I fully expected to fail. Sure I could see red cells underneath the microscope, but with my old protocol nothing would have registered. The cells were way too dim.

But with the new laser? It saw 50 red cells. More than I could see on my own! WHOOOOOO!!! WHOOOOOOO!!!

I can finally move forward with my main experiments!! Biggest roadblocks are gone! WHOOO! WHOOOOO!! LAZERS! WHOOOOOOO!!!

* Arnie has repeatedly offered to let me borrow his lazers, unfortunately, the lazer I need is green, and his lazers are blue. Puppy tries.

Americans United and ERV

Last Saturday I gave a presentation at the Oklahoma Americans United for the Separation of Church and State conference on Intelligent Design in public school science classrooms. Unfortunately it was at 8 am the Saturday after a block of tests, but I think I did alright ;) Fortunately for you all, Damien, a member of Oklahoma Atheists, recorded the presentations and put them up on Google Video!

Yeah, so, the only weird part? You know at the very end, when a guy speaks up and makes a joke about Jesus? Yeah, that was PZ. The PZ. I didnt notice him until he said something because I wasnt exactly expecting to see him in OKLAHOMA (why I doubled over in embarrassment when he spoke up). He didnt RSVP, or if he did, it was under an alternate surname (not 'PZ'), or else we would have made him speak too!!

Im really starting to think PZ does have a gatecrashing problem...