Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

Oh, joy, ACE weather forecasting! I forecast showers of creationist nonsense and gusts of boredom.

Our vocabulary for this section includes such difficult science words as chirp, cricket, mattress, and wispy. Bet you all remember struggling over these in your 8th grade science class, right?

Image is a drawing of a night scene, with stars in the top half, fading to midnight blue skies, and the silhoutte of tall grass at the bottom. At the center, white lowercase letters say "...crickets chirping"
Well, maybe not. But at least, thanks to ACE, we can define that noise and what’s making it.

The cartoon is cutting-edge humor, as always.

Image is a cartoon strip in two panels. The first panel is an aerial view looking down at two boys playing basketball. One is sinking the ball in the basket while saying, "Racer, when you plant a garden, why should you not plant onions next to potatoes?" The other boy is saying, "I don't know, Ace." In the next panel, Racer now has the ball and is dribbling, while we see Ace from the back trying to block him. Ace is saying, "So that the potatoes will not cry their 'eyes' out!" and Racer is saying, "Ha-ha!"
Cartoon from page 12 of ACE Science PACE 1089.

I’m so glad my parents didn’t send me to an ACE school. I’d have either died of pathological boredom or stabbed my eyes out with a pencil. Anything to get away from these awful jokes.

Anyway. So we’re back with Dad and Ace, just after the whole barometer convo, and Dad is keen for Ace to know that there’s more to forecasting than a barometer. He also wants us to know that “the laws that govern weather are orderly.” That’s quite a simplistic view of matters. Or maybe they’re defining “chaos” as “order.” It’s true that we’ve gotten better at forecasting, but even if we become capable of measuring almost every condition at particular moments in time, there will still be a considerable level of uncertainty to our forecasts, because weather is a chaotic system. Tiny perturbations have large effects. Butterflies and all.

The bits about cold and warm fronts and air masses is reasonably accurate and free of god shite. Dad is even sensible about achy joints and weather, saying that they haven’t been proven to be accurate predictors of weather, but “changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity may cause pain in sensitive joints in the body.” My gosh. He sounds sensible!

Their Weather Trivia sidebar includes the usual somewhat inaccurate facts, although in this case, they’re well within the bounds of reality when it comes to the Atacoma Desert. I’m just amused that it’s not only the driest desert, which they’re happy to tell us: it’s also quite probably the oldest, considering it’s been hyperarid for at least three million years, and portions of it may have been so for upwards of 200 million years. Oddly, the ACE people are loathe to share that fact.

They get the rainiest spot wrong: it’s Mawsynram, India, not Mount Waialeale, Hawaii. To be fair, they’re not the only ones who get that fact wrong. And they get the facts about Antarctica (-72°F average temperature) and Marble Bar, Australia (160 consecutive days of +100°F from 10/31/23 to 4/7/24) correct. They round out their accurate facts by getting Saipan wrong by only half a degree: it’s got the lowest seasonal variation in temperature at 21.5°F. That may be an ACE record for the most accurate sidebar in a PACE!

Dad now starts talking about storms, and while he doesn’t start off terribad, he does make it seem like hurricanes are always caused by “low-pressure areas associated with cold fronts,” which isn’t the case. There are several ways for them to form, and not all require cold fronts or cooler air. It’s perhaps a minor quibble, but considering how boring ACE PACEs are, it’s more fun to read up on hurricanes than listen to them drone on.

At some point in this PACE’s history, they either replaced a paragraph, rewrote one, or inserted a new one between two existing ones. I know this because it’s in a different font than its surroundings. These people are so amateur it kills me.

I’m leaning toward insert, because Ace doesn’t react at all to Dad telling him that 153 people died in a plane crash. I’d have expected him to at least say something about their souls or God’s will or whatever, because he’s just the kind of pious little shit that wouldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. But he jumps to how loud thunder is without even blinking. Folks: when you edit something, you can’t just change it and go your merry way. You’ve got to make sure the stuff around it still fits, or you might end up making your character look like a psychopath.

Of course, I could be reading too much into it. Ace is the master of the non sequitur. Observe his response when Dad talks about lightning’s path and high temperatures:

“Dad, in the book of Job, the Bible mentions a way or path for lightning (Job 38:25),” said Ace. “Does the path always reach such high temperatures?”

If randomly tossing vaguely-related Bible quotes and then proceeding as if they were never mentioned was an Olympic sport, fewer people would watch the Olympics. Also, Ace would have all the gold. But Dad would at least take bronze:

“The thunderbolt mentioned in Psalm 74:48, ‘He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts,’ refers to the burning heat produced by hot lightning.”

They’re so busy thinking up Bible verses that mention lightning that they get the temperature wrong by 22,000°F. Lightning tops out at around 50,000°F, not 72,000°F. (And yes: that’s God once again getting people to brag about how he kicked the Egyptians’ asses.)

Happily, Dad gives up the Bible crap and goes on to provide true facts about lightning and thunder, such as thunder being the sound of air contracting, and how to calculate how far away a storm is by using the seconds between the flash and the sound of thunder. I mean, he even gets the numbers right. I am shock.

But of course, Dad can’t keep it secular for long. This is just such a perfect example of Christian obliviousness:

“Many thunderstorms also cause high winds that can uproot trees and damage roofs of houses and other buildings. Thunderstorms also bring heavy rains, usually welcomed by farmers. Even though their property may sometimes experience some damage from the wind, lightning, or hail, farmers understand that the rains are God’s gift to Earth.”

Image shows four photos. At the top left is a two story farmhouse that has had bits of it ripped off by a tornado. At the top right, two men stand by a horse lying on its side while a boy sits on it. At the bottom right, fragments of grape vines, leaves, and grapes lie broken and soaked on the ground. On the bottom left, a house has been upturned and flung into a stand of trees by flooding.
Clockwise from top left: Farmhouse destroyed by a tornado in Spencer, SD (FEMA); Horse struck by lightning (John Oxley Library); Grapevines destroyed by hail (Hans); Farmhouse upturned by flood in Posey County, IN (Farm Security Administration).

Some gift. Why does it never occur to these people that if their God wants to hand gifts out, it’d be a lot better if he’d stop destroying shit in the process. How many of us would be happy with a parent who gave us the nice new shoes we’d had our eyes on, but intentionally burned down our house while handing us the package?

That’s quite enough of that nonsense for now. We’ll finish up storms next time. Wait til you see the abusive bullshit they have in store…

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

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