Saturday, November 09, 2019

Movie Recommendations

I watched a couple of good sci-fi movies recently that are worth recommending.

Anymore it seems like sci-fi movies are the only movies I'm interested in. (But not books, so far.) I'm not sure why, since I didn't grow up steeped in sci-fi. I watched and liked Star Trek (the original series), and read books like 1984 and Animal Farm and Brave New World, but not Asimov's fiction or Heinlein or pulp sci fi. (I did read a lot of Asimov's nonfiction during my teens.) I never got into comic books or superheroes or such. I still can't get into them. The harder the sci-fi, the more I like it.

I did read a lot of Heinlein's fiction later in my 20s. Saw Asimov at a sci-fi con in Stony Brook. Looked kinda like a sad gig for him.

The two films I saw recently that I'll recommend are Apollo 18 and Automata.

Apollo 18 (2011) is about a last, secret Apollo mission to the Moon -- "found footage" (like the Blair Witch Trial) -- that tells the story of one last Moon landing on behalf of the Department of Defense. It's a little cliched in terms of (...spoiler alert...) what the astronauts find there, which are extraterrestrials but not an especially interesting kind. (They creep and crawl, and can exist in a vacuum. Boo.) But it's a good story with a great deal of verisimilitude, which is what these recovered footage films live or die on. This one lives. 7.5 of 10.

Automata (2014) is a film I saw a while back but forgot about, so watching it again was a pleasant surprise. It's really quite innovative with a hard, realistic edge, about (...spoiler alert...) an insurance adjuster who must find out why a robot in his dystopian era of manmade robots has started to self-repair. Such repairs and improvements are a violation of the "second protocol" of the robot's programming (similar to Asimov's laws of robotics, but with only two). But the automata have been learning and growing and evolving and getting rather creepy, with, in the end, nothing humans can do to stop them. Antonio Banderas is really excellent in this movie, and so unlike what I remember seeing of him in the '90s. He carries the entire movie, which is set in a novel environment, with some great minor characters played by pre lip job Melanie Griffith and by Dylan McDermott from The Practice. 8.5 out of 10.

Other than these, you can always watch another episode of Firefly. They never get old. Afterward you can cry (again) that so few episodes were ever made.

Ocean Acidification is Accelerating...

...in the western north Pacific. Not a surprise:
In the Subtropical Frontal zone, we found that the mean rate of acidification tracked the acceleration of the atmospheric CO2 increase; during 2008–2017 the rate of acidification was 30% faster than during 1983–2017.
However, using the monthly Mauna Loa CO2 readings, I find its average from 2008-2017 was 395.5 ppm, while its average from 1983-2017 was 371.6 ppm. An increase of only 6.4%.

Hmm.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

An El Nino This Winter?

It was a very cold October here in Oregon -- the statewide average was 4th-lowest since 1895, according to NOAA's data. 2019's average temperature will very likely be below the 1980-2010 baseline, which hasn't happened since 2011.

In other news, German organizations are forecasting an El Nino this winter by the end of 2020 and spring. This is the first I've seen of such a call.
Early warning: Physicists from Giessen, Potsdam and Tel Aviv forecast "El Niño" for 2020

Researchers at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, find that there will probably be another "El Niño" by the end of 2020. The prediction models commonly used do not yet see any signs of this.
Take that for what it's worth. The NINO 3.4 region has been all over the place in recent months, but not above 0.5 C, the threshold for El Nino events:




Wednesday, November 06, 2019

My Apology to Nic Lewis

Today I sent the following email to Nicolas (Nic) Lewis. I'm posting it here with his permission. Also, I've amended my Nov 15th post of last year to note this apology.
Dear Mr. Lewis,

I'd like to apologize to you for a comment I made after you critiqued Resplandy et al. I wrote a blog post on Nov 15th titled "Nic Lewis Owes Resplandy et al an Apology." I thought you were quick to criticize them for a lack of a quick response, and somewhat still do, but that now seems minor in light of their retraction. I regret my blog post and extend an apology to you.

With your permission I'll post this email to on my blog, and also point to it right under the title of my Nov 15th post, so Google searches see it.

Sincerely,

David
He has kindly accepted my apology.