On ClimateGate

I’ve been talking with some friends about the recent leak of private emails between certain climatologists. It’s a mess, both literally and conceptually. However, who can really be surprised that out of context emails are embarrassing/suspicious and can be sensationalized to negate actual scientific research results? We know that could happen to us too if someone hacked our email accounts.

Climategate underscores the importance of projects like Clear Climate Code. They’re software engineers who are rewriting a key model (GISTEMP, which models Global Historical Climate Network data from the Goddard at NASA) so that the model is clear and understandable and verifiable. I tried to write a multiprocessing extension for a school project, but couldn’t verify the results due to equipment problems.

Science models & data are massaged all the time. A dirty fact, but common across many disciplines. The bottom line is, if the models in question have predicative power, anthropogenic climate change is real. If not, then climate change may still be real, but we must wait for better data and/or better models. Academic models of complex, schocastic systems are always ugly code in my experience. That doesn’t negate their validity.

That being said, scientists writing models aren’t often software engineers, and the data collection and collation is incredibly complex and messy with many possibilities for errors. Code and data should always open-sourced for verification, and keeping such things to yourself is inexcusable and a violation of how science should be done.

However, I highly doubt there’s a climate conspiracy cabal hiding a secret data db. All the data I’ve seen is open and freely available (and really messy!). Seeing those emails as suspicious appears as confirmation bias to me, no matter how much of a persecution complex the individuals in question appear to harbor.

November 26th, 2009 | Blogosphere, Current, Flat, Media, Science, Software, Transparency | No comments

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Critics

There are many bad movies. But occasionally a movie is released that, unwilling to simply sink into deserved forgetfulness, actively challenges critics to match wits in a bout of cultural fisticuffs. In one corner, an eschaton-beckoning attempt to remove humanity from us humans. In the other corner, a solitary soul who must view this world-historical event and attempt to abrogate the fallout and reaffirm the work and worth of all outside it.

What I am saying is this: Transformers 2 sounds like a really truly awful movie, and there are some eye-wateringly valiant attempts to summon righteous anger, or at least a belly laugh, from being forced to watch it for the critic’s livelihood.

I’ve collected the most successful of such attempts. Enjoy, and remember, I love you as much as Michael Bay sucked when he made Titanic, and that’s a lot.

Those who think “Transformers” is a great or even a good film are, may I tactfully suggest, not sufficiently evolved. I hope they climb a personal ladder into the realm of better films, until their standards improve. They don’t need to spend a lifetime with the water only up to their toes.

—Roger Ebert, “I’m a Proud Brainiac”

So the Decepticons made a slutty robot to attend his college and enrolled her in classes and put her in on-campus housing just in case Sam ended up being important at some point in the future?
Apparently. It was an elaborate plan, but it sure paid off.
I am already incredibly sick of this movie, and I’m just typing questions about it. Sam resurrects Optimus, Optimus kills the Fallen, end of story, right?
Pretty close. Sam dies, though.
Really?
Yeah, for a little while. But then the Transformers in heaven send him back because he still has work to do.
Fuck you.
I’m serious.
Fuck you. There’s no way.
It’s true. The 6-7 Primes are there in the clouds like Mufasa’s head in The Lion King, and tell Sam he’s awesome and he needs to live again so he can bring Optimus back to life.
I may be ill.

—Rob Bricken, “Rob’s Transformer’s 2 F.A.Q.’s”

Director Michael Bay has yet to direct a movie that can be described as anything but deeply and arrogantly dumb. It’s mildly terrifying, in fact, that the first Transformers is likely the most clever movie he’s ever made.

—John Scalzi, “Relax! Transformers Is Not the End of Cinema as We Know It”

Transformers is like twenty summer movies, with unrelated storylines, smushed together into one crazy whole. You try in vain to understand how the pieces fit, you stare into the cracks between the narrative strands, until the cracks become chasms and the chasms become an abyss into which you stare until it looks deep into your own soul, and then you go insane.

—Charlie Jane Anders, “Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie”

July 24th, 2009 | Creative, Media, Quote | No comments