April 19, 2008

eXpelled... no intelligence allowed

Tonight some friends and I went to see Ben Stein's new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed which opened today in theaters. I first heard about this movie back in January and have been curious to see it ever since. The basis of the plot is about how many professionals in the scientific and education community have been immediately ostracized by their peers when they merely bring up the subject of "Intelligent Design." Darwin's Theory of Evolution has long been the standard ideology taught in science classrooms across this country, often disregarding the first word of the title, "THEORY of Evolution." Yet the blacklisted scientific intellectuals pruport that Intelligent Design should be allowed equal consideration in the education field, especially since Darwinism still can't explain how the first molecular cell came into existence.

What I gathered most that this film is about is not necessarily an argument that viewers should believe in Intelligent Design (although it makes some hard points that are difficult to counter), but rather that it was about academic freedom and the opportunity to explore other options besides the standard Theory of Evolution that culture has so firmly settled upon. If the field of science uncovers new facts and evidence through modern technology that counter the accepted norm, will the scientific community consider these points, or continue to teach something that does not contain the full picture yet is so widely accepted across the culture?

Expelled touches on how a person's world view affects their viewpoint of this topic, how Darwinism influenced Hitler, and takes a look at the deeply intricate structure of human DNA. Ben tours Dachau concentration camp in Germany as well as another Nazi controlled hospital, speaks to dozens of scientists on BOTH sides of the issue, and conducts an extensive interview with the author of "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins.

Stein did a great job keeping the documentary from getting too dry by interspersing hundreds of old black and white film clips, many of them humorous, into precisely-timed points of the movie. Much of this footage had double meaning, in that it drew parallels between this subject and events throughout history such as the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust.

While it's a bit obvious which side of this issue Ben sits on, I found it refreshing to hear the "other side of the story" from that which is most often discussed. Being a Jew himself, Stein distinguished the difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design, drawing distinct lines between the two and countering those who think that Intelligent Design is just a ploy to get prayer back into schools.

I'm sure there will be some opposition to this film, but if it can open the doors of discussion on the subject of Intelligent Design like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" did for global warming, then I believe it will do a great justice to the scientific community and the future of education. After all, if we lose our academic freedom to explore all possibilities of life and how it began, then what other freedoms will we lose next?

April 8, 2008

Adobe takes Photoshop software online... for free!

[I'm participating in Techie Tip Tuesday! Read more about it here.]

A little more than a year ago, I decided to break my blogging hiatus by writing a nice blog entry about Adobe's announcement of a free online version of Photoshop that they would be releasing in the future. Well as you can read here, that was before Blogger had implemented the "Auto Save" feature and a bug in their new system caused me to lose my whole post! Discouraged, I never rewrote that original entry...

Well now I can write it again, because Adobe has finally released the Photoshop Express Beta! Here's an announcement I got about it a couple of weeks ago:
Today Adobe announced Adobe Photoshop Express public beta, a free Rich Internet Application (RIA) available to anyone who wants to store, sort and show off digital photos with eye-catching effects. During the public beta period, Adobe will solicit Photoshop Express user feedback on product features and functionality, which will continue to evolve over time. As the newest addition to the Photoshop family line, Photoshop Express has taken much of Adobe's best image editing technology and made it simple and accessible to a new online audience. Photoshop Express allows users to store up to 2 gigabytes of images online for free, make edits to their photos, and share them online in creative ways, including downloading and uploading photos from popular social networking sites like Facebook.
2 GB of online image storage and instant access to Facebook... I don't think it will take very long for this thing to take off! I wonder if it will really help sales of the full retail version of Photoshop like Adobe hopes it will. I suppose there will be people formerly intimidated by Photoshop's price tag who can finally learn a simplified version of it now and upgrade later. But then again, this version is free and sounds like it will do a lot, so unless you're a graphic designer, is it really worth forking over hundreds of dollars for the full package? I guess we'll see.

In the meantime... I can't get the PS Express beta version to work! Firefox and Safari both give me a blank white screen and my copy of Internet Explorer is currently having problems with the Flash plugin. (Guess that's why they call it a "beta"!) So I can't really comment on how I like Photoshop Express just yet, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it. Leave me a comment below!

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