Archive for August, 2013


So I missed the first airing of Sharknado on the SciFy channel, but after all the hubbub I recorded the next showing and ‘enjoyed’ it the following evening.

It put me in mind of two other movies, one a much larger commercial success, one…not.  These other two movies were The Day After Tomorrow and Birdemic (the RiffTrax version). Each of these three movies has outlandish weather/natural phenomena and states outright that global warming is the cause of whatever mayhem the movie is depicting.


In one sense it’s using the widespread belief in climate change to help the audience suspend belief for their story, which is all well and good up to a point.  But I am reminded that the really vocal global-warming believers (a group to which these movie-makers certainly belong) regularly call non-believers ‘people who reject science’, or who are otherwise irrational.  As I type this, there’s an upper link on Drudge to a fresh quote from Al Gore likening deniers to ‘racists, supporters of apartheid, and homophobes’.  Wow.


And as I laughed endlessly at Sharknado, I reflected on the scientific intellect of the person lecturing me about global warming.  I will recount only 2 of the many silly scenes.


1) Near the end of the movie, our hero is watching as other members of his group take action against the sharknado.  Presumably he feels helpless and wants to act, so he shoots at the sharks in the tornado.  First with his shotgun, then with a handgun.


We are meant to understand that he has hit and killed a shark, so this is demonstrated by…having the shark fall out of the tornado.  That’s right, the 100+ sharks swept up in that tornado are only there because they are actively swimming and trying to stay there.  That’s some motivated pre-sushi right there.


2) In the final-final shark attack moment, one of our heroes is threatened by a shark falling from the sky after the tornado disbands.  It is falling swiftly, jaws wide, ready to enjoy a last nosh before breaking its cartilage nose on the pavement.  But at the last moment our hero steps in front, chainsaw held high, and dives into the creatures mouth.  Presumably this changes the sharks momentum enough to not strike, much less engulf, the other person.


But wait, it gets better.  Our hero, after a short delay, slices through the side of the shark and emerges, C-section-style, to safety.  Covered head to toe in gore (not of the Vice-Presidential variety), but completely uninjured.


But wait, it still gets better.  He reaches back in and pulls out…a gal who fell out of a helicopter into a tornado and then a shark.  Also covered in gore but uninjured.


But the lack of injury isn’t the big laugh.  Neither is the failure to adhere to Newton’s laws of motion.  No, for me it is this.  He is swallowed whole and enters a shark’s stomach with a chain saw in front of him.  There is another person already there.  And somehow that chainsaw never touches that other person.


If that’s the world of scientific literacy, I’ll stay over here in fantasy-land, thank you very much.



Global Spinning

On May 22 2009 I was out at wunderground looking at the forecast and noticed something really scary. See if you can spot it.

May 22, 2009 Rise: Set:
Actual Time 5:50 AM EDT 8:20 PM EDT
Civil Twilight 5:19 AM EDT 8:51 PM EDT
Nautical Twilight 4:41 AM EDT 9:29 PM EDT
Astronomical Twilight 3:59 AM EDT 10:11 PM EDT
Moon 4:03 AM EDT 6:38 PM EDT
Length Of Visible Light: 15h 31m
Length of Day
14h 30m
Tomorrow will be 1m 30s longer.

Tomorrow will be 1.5 minutes longer!?!??!

Well, I quickly put together a computer model and discovered that before long,
if this trend continued, days could be weeks long.

I checked back the next day and sure enough the day was longer and the next
day was forecasted to be longer too. Oh my gosh.

Well, I tracked it for several weeks then saw my predictions weren’t matching
the outcome. Days were not becoming more than 24 hours long.

I saw my mistake. Nights were getting shorter in the same amount!

So I modified my model.

And I discovered that before long there would be no night at all!

This was terrible. All nocturnal life would be threatened.

I tracked the data for some weeks afterward and, while the days did not progress at
the rate I expected, I attributed this to random fluctuations in an
extremely complex system.

At its core, I know my model is sound. After all, I run it on a super computer.

We must act NOW to prevent this catastrophe. I contend that this phenomenon
of global spinning is a product of people walking more forcefully when they go
westward than when they go eastward. I’ve commissioned a study and found that
many houses have doors facing westward and people leave their houses
energetically in the mornings and return more wilted in the evening.

I propose, nay demand, a moratorium on building any houses with west facing
doors. East is best. Or towards the equator, if east is really too hard, but
you’ll need a gov’t waiver for that.

Won’t you please join this effort?

For the children…