January 28th, 2015

snowflakes-4

Okay, Let's Repeat This Once Again

Monday night watched MSNBC all evening to watch the pre-game coverage of Blizzard '15, aka Winter Storm Juno. Buffalo was yawning at predictions of up to 26" of snow in some places east of them. Not after eight feet in a similar timeline just some weeks ago.

So let's review:
Global Warming does NOT mean no snow or cold
Weather is NOT Climate
Weather Forecasts are NOT Prophecies
Predictions are NOT Certainties
Accuracy is NOT Precision
Weather Forecasts are NOT Weather Control
But they got it wrong, some whine. New York was not buried!

So?

The forecasts are wrong a lot!

Okay, let's think about this. One of the reasons why forecasts are off is that we have more of them. I frequently on this blog mock storm forecasts that never materialize, but that's more mocking the We Are ALL Going to DIE coverage by the media. Storm Center 8. Severe Weather Center 3. These are just two of our Grand Rapids TV stations. And it's still Severe Weather Center 3 when the forecast is for sunny and 60°F.

I put The Weather Channel app on my Kindle Fire HD. Right now, if I were to turn it on, it'd not only give me a 10-day forecast, but for the first day or two it'd give me hour-to-hour forecasts. Now with that many forecasts, isn't it reasonable that some of them are going to be off? And predicting the exact track and production of a storm from two weeks out... the science gives you some idea, but not the same as weather on the ground when it comes.

As it should be.

And let's not forget, this morning there were still reports of 78mph winds in Nantucket. And Boston did get clobbered. And New York? Although we heard apologies from the mayor and the National Weather Service, frankly, I think it's a lot of hooey. This was the forecast, they had information from several days out and decided to clear the streets and highways and skies and rails ahead of time, so that people wouldn't get stuck or wrecked and need rescuing, either in the heart of the storm or just when the crews were needed to move this shit out of the way. NPR this afternoon pointed out that with airlines canceling so many thousands of flights, it left equipment in place, rather than diverting it or out of position, so when things start up again everything will be in the right place at the right time.

For gosh sakes they showed snowplows in one coastal town plowing a little snow -- and sea water off the streets from the storm surge. This is not an everyday or trivial event.

We don't have climate control. I don't know that we want climate control, because like the Mississippi River and other giant things we try to control, Nature will try to force things back and we won't like it. Making a nice day for a picnic here, might create a hurricane over there instead. I learned that from A Wizard of Earthsea. (grin) Systems and the interactions between systems. This is big stuff.

But the Farmer's Almanac gets it right and they just use a secret formula!

The Old Farmer's Almanac tells you they get it right. And I seem to recall some studies that suggest they do okay. But see, their specialties are broad regions and broad time periods. The upper Midwest will see dry conditions early in the fall but expect big storms by November -- or something. They might very well be right or mostly right, based on their secret sauce formula that uses past performance to predict broad future behaviors. But it ain't telling you what Friday's weather in Grand Rapids MI AND Bangor ME will be, and certainly not the 11am and 2pm forecasts on those days.

The old joke about weather forecasting is that the "best" forecast is predicting the same thing for today as yesterday -- it'll be right about half the time. Since many weather patterns persist for a few days, you can see how this works. And it's self-correcting, if you update each day. But predicting the same weather every day for a week, a month, a season, a year -- why you'd end up with a forecast that says rain and 57°F every afternoon. And by gum, you'd be right sometimes. But more likely in October or May, than July or February.

If you think weather forecasting is complicated and requires massive supercomputer models, just imagine what weather control would take.

You want to know what weather control looks like? It's clouds rolling in at 11:55am on Friday, light rain at 2:02pm, followed by heavy rain from 3:17pm to 4:42pm. Why? So workers won't want to cut out early on a Friday. THAT's what you'd get for paying for weather control in the real world.

I'll stick with looking at the computer models, hoping for the best -- and trying to not have to drive in impossible conditions. 4WD and modern roads are not invincible combinations.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
reading-bennett-2

#BechdelChallenge‬ Meme

So on Facebook, Laura Bradley Rede posited a meme, challenging writers to post scenes that pass the Bechdel Test. I ignore a lot of memes, but writing memes -- especially something as important as the Bechdel Test -- I am all for.

What's the Bechdel Test? I'll let Laura explain this whole meme:

I am issuing a ‪#‎BechdelChallenge‬! To pass the Bechdel Test, a work has to include at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. I challenge you to post a short scene from something you've written that passes the Bechdel test. Copy and paste this explanation and tag some folks on your post to keep it going! (I'll tag mine in the comments). My scene is from Bella and Beast from my wip Beast in the Mirror. (It passes because my Beast is female


My current Work-In-Progress certainly involves female protags, but I'm on the Kindle so don't have the files handy -- you'll just have to read the YA trilogy when it sells. (evil-grin) So I'll go with a work you can read in its entirety: "End Run" published at Giganotosaurus in April 2012. It's set on a military starship and there are a number of women on the ship. Scenes with either the commanding officer, first officer or the senior NCO would be too much low hanging fruit even though they are all women -- I hope you don't regularly have Bechdel Fail conversations with these people! So this is where our protag Ensign Darlene Charles meets her roommate Lt. Kirsten Van Zoeren:
She only got lost twice on the way to her compartment and had to query the corridor screens for directions. When she got there, the doorplate read THIRD OFFICER / JUNIOR ENGINEER. Darlene didn’t mind a roommate – it was expected – and perhaps it’d make adjusting to life on the Evensong a little easier. With satisfaction, she noted the keypad responded to her standard access code, but when she reached for the hatch lever it clicked before her hand was set and locked her out. Slightly chagrined, she worked faster so the second time she pushed open the hatch with her other hand while the green light still glowed on the keypad. Apparently it wasn’t the same lock module timing she was used to.

Fifteen thousand ships in Fleet, she thought, and practically all of them are different. New design, indeed.

Inside, the compartment was just as ruthlessly efficient and compact as she’d expected, so this was not really a problem. She was off in space to serve, not spend all day hanging out in a cozy compartment. But the best thing that’d happened so far this New Year’s Day 2601 was a freshly charged datapad centered on her tiny fold-down desk. It accepted her ID sliver automatically and had been configured for third officer duty.

“Yes!” she said under her breath and smiled.

“Would you watch that light?” a new voice demanded when Darlene clicked the room lights on.

“Oh sorry,” Darlene said, killing the main lights and figuring out which switch turned on the task light centered on her desk.

“You must be the new vegetable of the month,” the other person said in a voice resigned to not getting instantly back to sleep.

“New vegetable… oh, you mean I’m the new green ensign. Yessir – guilty as charged.”

A hand snaked out of the wad of bedclothes on the lower bunk. There was a distinct lumpiness to the bed, but so far Darlene hadn’t actually seen her roommate. “Lt. Kirsten Van Zoeren.” The voice spoke perfectly acceptable Interstellar English, but with a clipped, European accent Darlene didn’t know enough to place. “I’m the junior engineer on this barge. And since we’re not going anywhere at the moment, the Evil Triumvirate decided I wasn’t needed in Engineering and so was assigned a double-watch overnight on the bridge while everyone else partied.”

“Evil Triumvirate. You must be talking about our esteemed captain, first officer and chief of the boat,” Darlene said.

“Those would be the ones.”

“Ensign Darlene Charles at your service. And you do know the Evil Triumvirate, as you called them, have made me third officer?”

“Sure. That’s why you’re standing in the third officer’s stateroom. And if you were in command, on the bridge, I’d probably salute you and say yessir and aye-aye, sir. But right now I outrank you and I’m trying to get some sleep.”

“Right. Sorry. I’ve located my bunk. My space duffels have somehow magically arrived here and the seals are still valid. I can come back later and unpack.”

“That would be nice. It’s nothing personal.”

“Quite understandable under the circumstances.” Darlene removed her standard cover and found her safety hat at the top of her duffel. She should probably change, but her gray khaki skirt and jacket uniform would have to do for the moment. “I’ll just be going…”

But there was no response from the lower bunk.
I play memes for myself. I don't usually tag others. But certainly any members of the Clarion Class of 2004 or WOTF XXIV are certainly easily challenged.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal