Monday, August 29, 2011


Alright, I'm going to do something I've never really done on here before:  I'm going to call out an entire website for perpetrating disgustingly false perceptions and entirely inaccurate information on an important matter.  That matter is the debate of Creationism V.S. Evolution.
The website I'm calling out can be found at the following link:
Upon mere minutes of investigation, you can easily see that this is a creationist website designed to discredit evolution; in principle, there's nothing necessarily, morally wrong with that.  The execution, however, is pretty repulsive.
The "facts" about evolution stated on the site only serve to prove that whoever wrote the exhibits has absolutely no extensive knowledge on the subject and, indeed, fails to grasp the very concept of evolution properly.  Multiple times throughout the exhibits, evolution is called out on being based on random chance, of course leading into the overly common creationist argument that everything looks far too designed to have happened by chance, and thus God must have done it.  This argument fails to understand evolution properly and it fails to realize that it's proposed alternative to evolution is far more improbable.  In summation, this argument is profoundly stupid.  The argument makes the creationists look bad, not the evolutionists.
Evolution is not based on random chance.  In 'The God Delusion', author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins agrees that something as complex as, say, the human eye coming into existence by chance is absolutely ludicrous indeed.  Thankfully, however, anybody who actually understands evolution in the slightest realizes that this presents absolutely no hole in the theory.
Natural selection is most definitely not the same as random chance.  Evolutionary changes are brought about by the necessity of adaptation for the sake of survival.

Of especially comical interest is the website's 'Evolution Test'; a series of 15 questions meant to be unanswerable in the boundaries of evolution.  Of course anyone with even a moderate understanding of evolution, such as myself, can easily answer these questions with evolution theory intact.
You can find the test here:

The logic behind the questions is astoundingly flawed.  The first two questions assume that a creature distinguished as being male had to be totally evolved before one distinguished as female could even begin developing.  Considering there would be actually no need for one without the other, the answer to both questions is simple:  They developed in unison.  Evolution branches species in a way that would be beneficial for their survival in their respective environments.  If one branch benefited from a distinction between sexes, then that would be a playing property in its evolution.
Nothing about the theory of evolution states that every individual change needs to be isolated from any others...and that, as you'll see, is a faulty assumption this test makes multiple times.

Moving down to question #5, we have the same mistake again; a list of different features for an eye to work and asking which came first.  Again, this totally ignores the fact that these changes don't need to be isolated; the question is also presumptuous in seemingly trying to assert that every one of these features are totally inter-reliant which is just plain wrong.  Many animals, particularly in reptiles, do not have eyebrows, eyelids, eyelashes or tear ducts.
With this understanding, question #6, just like #2, becomes totally inert.

(Yes, I know I'm skipping questions.  The one's I'm leaving out are just too inane for me to be bothered with.  I have a notepad file with my personal answers to the entire test that I may post at a later time.)

In question #9, we have one of my favourite, common misconceptions of evolution that creationists just love to boast; in fact, this misconception was even ridiculed in an episode of Futurama last year ("A Clockwork Origin").  The famous "missing link" argument.
To quote directly from the test, "Why is it that the very things that would prove Evolution (transitional forms) are still missing?"
My response to this, directly from the aforementioned notepad file, is as follows:  "Just because you ignore all valid findings and evidence and refuse to keep up on scientific literature doesn't mean that your perception of said things is still valid.  In direct answer to the question:  They're not.  Next question."

Question #10 is one of my absolute favourites because it totally and utterly falls apart upon understanding what I've already explained:  Evolution is not based on chance.  There are improbabilities about it, sure, but that sure as hell doesn't make a designer the only (or even the more likely) alternative.  The nature of the question itself even correctly implies that complex creations must have a more complex creator, thus making a designer for complex life absurdly complex itself.
Once again I'd like to refer to 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins as it has a very well-presented and well-written section on the matter of 'irreducible complexity'.

In question #12, while I can't give a list of 50 off the top of my head, I can ask, "why 50?".  Why does it need to be such a number?
I can name two however; the appendix is not necessary to our survival, thus being a vestigial organ.  And for appendages, our skeleton does have a tailbone that goes nowhere.

Question #13 is a very special kind of stupid, but perhaps only when you understand where the proposed prize money is coming from.  I took the test before investigating the website and assumed the prize was being offered by the type of creationist who refuses to accept valid scientific evidence (just like the one who wrote this test!), but the truth is even more moronic.
As you may have noticed by now, the website does have a page specifically for describing the reward.  If you've visited that page, certainly you've noticed that there's an asterisk by every mention of the word "reward" in the large text.  Find the accompanying footnote and you will read the following:
"*Reward of at least $1,000,000 shall be paid in U.S. dollars. It would be no problem raising this amount of money if you have evidence of Evolution, scientists from around the world will gladly pay dearly for it! An independent jury of Evolutionists and Creationists will review your submission and their conclusion is final."
This is quite possibly the most hilariously naive, presumptuous, ignorant and inane statement I have ever read.
In other words, there is no actual, available reward.  It's totally expected that if you, as an individual, can provide proof of evolution, then you can easily collect the money from scientists desperate for what you've found.
This is honestly such a stupid concept that it's hard to even describe why it is so stupid...but I'm going to try.
First off, scientists aren't individually assigned to find evidence for entire theories.  You will never find any one, single person who can claim to have proven evolution single-handedly.  Scientific research is a collaborative effort.  Oh, and guess what?  They are receiving payment for finding the evidence they find.  It's called "funding".  Why would scientists be desperately paying a million dollars for something that they found and they were paid those same million dollars to find?
These are the top minds on the planet working day in and day out to solve these and many many other quandries.
The next problem I have with it...well, I'd just like to answer the question with another, better question:  Why did nobody ever claim the $1,000,000 that James Randi actually had available, ready in the bank and all, for anybody who could prove any sort of supernatural ability or occurrence?

Moving on...
The final question, #15, takes the misunderstandings beyond evolution and shows a glaring misunderstanding of nature as a whole.  To make it simple on me, here was my initial, and still perfectly valid, answer upon first taking the test: "Different areas are different.  Evolutionary branches under different conditions produce different species.  By the logic behind this question, you may as well ask why humans aren't the only species on the planet and why we aren't capable of living underwater."

Now, for a final message directly to the designer of the website:
"Something else about your website I'd like to address, since it didn't come up in the questions, is your 'House that Evolution Built' exhibit.  It's meant to be satire, obviously, but it fails even as a joke because, yet again, the details of the exhibit only prove just how little you actually know about evolution. If you honestly, truly care about making creation seem like the only plausible explanation for life to any rational, intelligent, self-respecting human being, then you should actually be doing your homework on evolution, which you clearly aren't.
You should also make your goal to prove creation, not to disprove evolution.  Despite how much creationists love to do so, a hole in a scientific theorem is not open to say "God did it!  Don't bother investigating."  Of all the potential solutions to these quandries, creationism is among the very least likely.
And finally, stop calling creationism a 'theory'.  It is not a theory.  A theory results when a scientific hypothesis is tested to show solid merit.  There is absolutely nothing scientific about creationism.  It doesn't matter how much you believe creationism is correct, it is still not science.
Your website is horribly constructed, the information provided on it is unsubstantiated and full of logical fallacies and, if you really want to help creationists, you should feel ashamed for making something that makes creationists look so bad."

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Art of Putting It Together

Well, to the say the least I've had some problems with focusing over the last couple months.  To counteract that, I've started making a weekly schedule in great detail in order to get me on track with everything.

Currently, I'm set to devote at least 6 hours a week to writing my comic and 12 hours a week to drawing (outside of work).  I'm still fine-tuning the schedule and there's a good chance I'll be able to relegate more time to those activities.  In any case, I'm getting back into the groove of things with making my comic which I've been meaning to do for several weeks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I...Am...LIST MAN!

Erik The Awesome's Personal Top 5 Superhero Shows of All Time

I love superheroes. I love cartoons. I really love superhero cartoons. Getting right to the point, the following is my personal list of the best superhero cartoons of all time.

#5. The Tick
OK, so I'm kicking off with an unorthodox show. The fact that it's unorthodox is not what put it low on the list; if that were the criteria, it wouldn't even be on the list; just that it's a good show, full of great laughs and deserving of mention here. The characters were wonderful, the voice work was delightfully corny and, while the animation wasn't always great, it was always a treat to watch.

#4 The Batman/Batman The Brave and The Bold
Having too hard a time deciding which of these shows I liked more, I decided they would share 4th place on the list. The Batman has a love it or hate it reaction from a lot of fans; I loved it do death. The writing is extremely clever and while under stricter censorship than what it had to live up to, it still managed to be a very solid show. The animation is also consistently fantastic. Not a single shot in the series 5-season run is poorly animated (which is actually more than I can say for the animation of its predecessor).
The Brave and The Bold looked at the dark, brooding character and took a total 180 in the vain of the Adam West incarnation. Did it work? You better believe it did. From the moment I heard of the show, I was extremely skeptical. When I watched the pilot, I laughed my ass off several times and my doubt was gone. We've gotten our dark Batman in two very good shows already, so there's no harm in playing with something so different. In fact, we ended up with some of the best humour to ever come out of a child-appropriate cartoon.

#3 Young Justice
Being a very recent show, it's a bit surprising how strongly I feel it deserves this spot. Right from the beginning, we had very creative and clever writing, with fantastic character interactions, great animation and a solid musical score. Among the internet, I've noticed a lot of flak for Superboy's shallow characterization in the series. Considering the series is still young, I can certainly forgive undeveloped characters since there has, after all, been little time for them to develop.
Plus, I think it's unreasonable to expect a clone of Superman to be a good character.
Robin is awesome, Kid Flash is awesome, Artemis is awesome and Aqualad is awesome. Could we ask for more from the others? Sure, but I don't think we're in dire need of more.

#2 The Spectacular Spider-Man
I can't stress enough just how much I really want to give this show first place on the list. It is without a doubt my personal favourite superhero cartoon to watch, but I'm trying to be reasonably objective.
So where to start with this? Everything that went into this show is absolutely fantastic. Sean Galloway gave it a simple but appealing art style which paved the way for some kick-ass animation. The voice cast is full of wonderful talents, all giving great performances; Josh Keaton as Spidey, John DiMaggio as Hammerhead and Sandman, Clancy Brown as Captain Stacy, Daran Norris as J. Jonah Jameson, Kevin Michael Richardson as Tombstone, Vanessa Marshall as MJ, Steven Blum as Green Goblin, etc., etc..
And that wonderful cast was backed up by some of the best sound design I've ever experienced in a television show. Every last audio cue is so perfectly appropriate. The villains even all had a 'signature sound': Goblin's screaming pumpkin bombs, Doc Ock's hydraulics, Shocker's...shockers, and so on.
But the main deciding point of a show's quality is, of course, the writing. Hot damn did this show have some amazing writing. With extremely clever interlocking between seemingly self-contained episodes, tons of setup and exposition for every character, beautifully integrated overarching themes...this series was nothing short of a masterpiece. Had it survived passed a second season, there's no doubt in my mind that it could have cemented the top spot on this list.
It frustrates me to no end how I so often come to find people who have never even heard of this show. Multiple times lately when I've brought it up, I get a brief pause followed by “Oh, you mean the computer animated one?”...NO!*

#1 Batman The Animated Series
You had to have seen this one coming. Not only one of the best cartoons of all time but also one of the most influential; Batman The Animated Series deserves this spot even if it's not my personal favourite.
There are only 2, extremely minor, gripes I have with the series:
  1. When this show was still in its early days, the animation wasn't anything too great.
  2. Again in the early days, there was no continuity in the show. Characters would suddenly show up without any setup (Robin/Dick Grayson being the particularly glaring example).
Other than that, this show was incredible. Dark, emotional, clever and at times downright heart-wrenching, this series has some of the best writing you'll ever encounter in not just cartoons but television as a whole.
Spanning nearly a decade's-worth of episodes, if you take into account the rebrandings of the series (The Adventures of Batman & Robin, The New Batman Adventures) it's obvious this show was a big deal. It created the ground work for the modern DCAU, allowing an opening for Superman The Animated Series, setting up Batman Beyond and leading right into Justice League.
It's also among the earliest examples in modern cartoons, especially superhero cartoons, to show that animation is most definitely not strictly a medium for entertaining children.
Batman The Animated Series is one of those rare examples of a show that actually deserves the unprecedented amount of praise directed at it.
Where Spectacular Spider-Man was a masterpiece, Batman The Animated Series is that and then some; a lasting masterpiece, one of the most successful and influential superhero cartoons of all time and a television series of the highest calibre.

And now for an additional treat:

The Top 5 Superhero Shows With Wasted Potential

There were other shows I wanted to at least address in this post and this seemed like a fun list to make.

#5 Iron Man: Armored Adventures
I have nothing against re-imagining a hero, though I have to admit the lack of an alcoholic, womanizing Tony Stark is part of what makes this show unappealing; but I can back that up because it basically turned Tony into a very basic, stereotypical teen hero. He became Peter Parker only without the he basically became Toby Macguire.
Other than that, the animation is dull. The character designs don't compliment the cel-shading and the bright, colourful look didn't fit in with the themes of the series.
The characters' personalities were just as dull.
It's not a bad show, it just does everything so conservatively and safe, basically placing itself in a permanent state of mediocrity.

#4 Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, AKA MTV Spider-Man
*This is the computer animated one. Spanning only a single season and making a poor effort to blend the live-action movies with elements of the Ultimate Universe, this show was a pretty flawed concept from the start.
Despite being an extension of the Sam Raimi films' universe, the character designs are derived from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. In this case, the designs do compliment the cel-shaded look but not the concept or writing.
The plots were relatively dull, the animation was mediocre and the characters were eternally one-note. All in just wasn't very good. Cutting the ties to the live-action films and bringing in a stronger writing team would have improved the series greatly.

#3 Wolverine and the X-Men
I have an unusual relationship with X-Men cartoons. I've enjoyed, to some extent, all 3 that I've seen (The Animated Series, Evolution and the subject at hand) but I never find myself caring to keep up with them. In this case, that feeling was multiplied a good ten-fold.
The characters were dull, the animation was mediocre, and the plot threads were tedious and uninteresting, often giving far too much of a spotlight on individual characters which only served to highlight their lack of depth.
It doesn't help that I hated the art style from the start too and it never grew on me. It seemed like the characters were designed halfway between DCAU and Teen Titans. The problem with the Teen Titans stylization is that it just doesn't work unless you go all out with it; Transformers Animated being a good example (also being animated by the Teen Titans team).

#2 The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Honestly, you could take my comments on Wolverine and the X-Men, change the names and they'd be an accurate description of our new Avengers series here. Except for the art style bit; it is stylized, but not in the Teen Titans way.
I've read a lot of flak for the voicework on this series and oddly, coming from somebody with a lot of respect for voice acting, I don't see the problem. If anything, the voicework is the most redeeming quality the show has.
This is the kind of show I watch only when I have absolutely nothing else to do.

#1 Spider-Man The Animated Series
Our friendly neighbourhood web-slinger is getting a lot of attention in these lists. Like any 90's kid, I watched quite a bit of this show. Now, I have a hard time stomaching it.
The series started out pretty solid but plummeted very far, very fast. The animation is bad, the voicework is bad, the writing is bad, the music...well, the music is pretty good, but still.
Like pretty much everything else on this secondary list, Spider-Man The Animated Series could have been greatly improved by a healthy dose of better animation and stronger writing.

OK What You're Doing There Is Called Jumping

And now for something...completely awesome.
Furin over at created a puppet of the Portal 2 character Wheatley (pictured above).  Not only a faithful recreation of exactly how the character looks in the game, it's also a fully functional puppet; here's a video of it in action:

Head to the following link to see an explanation of the build process:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Be Prepared For Sensational News

Perhaps I'm a little late on discovering this recent bit of good news but just checking The Lion King's Wikipedia page, it would appear the movie is going to be released on blu-ray this October (the 4th, to be specific) following it being shown in theaters in 3D for two weeks starting on September 16th.

Now we just need Aladdin on blu-ray and I'll be one happy animation grad.  Please Disney, please?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Amazing Dark Avenger of Steel Rises in Arkham City

Alright, finally getting back to some nerdy stuff after those last couple rants , I'm sure many people have been keeping up with the buzz around a lot of big name superhero media.  Some significant tidbits have been made known to the general public within just the last week or so.
A slew of on-set photos from The Dark Knight Rises has been unveiled, showing Bane in full-costume, Batman duking it out with several opponents and, just today, we got our first look at Anne Hathaway in a Catwoman-ish costume.
The upcoming Superman movie, titled The Man of Steel, has had some similar buzz lately with a photo of the titular character himself finally shown.  TheAmazingAtheist on YouTube likened the appearance of the new Superman to a 1920's gangster and...honestly, I can't unsee it now.
Of course, we've also been treated with a trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man which I remain cautiously optimistic for.
Spider-Man 3 was bad, no question.  Spider-Man 2, in retrospect, was only marginally better than 3.  Spider-Man (2002), the first of the trilogy, was not only the best of the 3 but is actually a far better movie than I had remembered it being.  Upon recently re-watching the film, I was rather impressed with the scripting.  It's a very concisely written story with nearly everything shown being either setup or payoff.  If The Amazing Spider-Man can pull that caliber of concise writing off while also involving more comic-accurate interpretations of the characters (the wall-crawler himself, especially), I'll be very impressed and very happy.

Back to Batman, we have some news in the video game world.  Batman: Arkham City, a mere few months away from release date, has been shaping up in a rather promising way.  It seems like we've gotten a news overload from this title of the last few weeks.
Catwoman will appear as a playable character, Robin as a playable character will be a preorder bonus from Best Buy, in the UK there are alternate skins for Batman himself you can get as preorder bonuses, Nolan North is playing Penguin, etc. etc. etc.
Robin as a playable character intrigues me, but the preorder skins which are unfortunately, evidently unavailable to Canadians such as myself are what I'm most interested in.  Among the skins to choose from are the Batman Beyond suit, The Dark Knight Returns Batman, 1970's Batman, and even a skin to make Batman look like the Batman The Animated Series design.