Thursday, September 13, 2007

Movie: Pan's Labyrinth

Marketing can really make or break a movie.

Pan's Labyrinth is a well-done tragedy of a little girl trying to save her sanity, in a horrible situation, by indulging an active & creative imagination. A great deal is made of the horrible situation, with a few powerful moments depicting the saving fantasy.

Unfortunately, the viewer is probably watching this because the marketing of it depicts little more than the fantasy world, which one comes to expect a great deal of. While marvelous, there is little of it - in fact, most of it is seen in the previews and the box cover, and the indicated few minutes is spaced with long periods of dark, dreary, tragic warfare and nasty interpersonal conflict.

For what it is, Pan's Labyrinth is quite well done. It's just not what you were looking for when you hit "play".

Book: An Inconvenient Truth

OK, so I finally succumbed and read the book version of Al Gore's infamous movie.
OK, so I skimmed it. There really wasn't that much meat to it, so that didn't take long.
OK, so there was so little to it I got thru the whole thing while standing at a table at a bookstore.

For all the pretty pictures, emotional declarations, and bluster about climate change, this book really can be distilled down to just 3 graphs:
- average planetary temperature
- population
- species extinction rates
and those are simplistic and open to discussion.

Most of the book really is just hype-generating fluff. Seriously. I don't mean that from any particular sociopolitical viewpoint, I mean that from an analytical view: there is so little actual data in here that it's hard to take any of it seriously.

The main point is the temperature graph. Showing apparently mild fluctuations for centuries, right near the end is a rapid fluctuation ending in a high point. That alone is disingenuous precisely because most of the data was clearly derived from long-term samples spanning decades, while the data at the end was measured in far more rapid succession - giving an illusion of sudden chaos. Average the last data out to the same sample rate, and the fear-inducing spikes go away, just as they have been smoothed out the rest of the data. I suggest the reader go peruse the marvelous book "How To Lie With Statistics" before taking Gore's book seriously, as the latter seems a prime example for the former.

Little is made of the fact that the much-feared "recent warming" amounts to about one degree over a century. Things change, people. That includes the sun's temperature, which has risen a bit lately, obviously has an effect, and is unceremoniously ignored where it is most relevant.

The other graphs?
Yes, the world's population of humans has increased dramatically; you handing it ok? the planet seems to be as well.
The extinction rate gets a brief mention, with one scary-looking graph. Considering how new species are being found at a surprising rate today - despite decades & centuries of seeking them - I have to wonder about the alleged means of finding which ones vanished millennia ago.

The rest is plain fear-mongering, interspersed with warm fuzzy irrelevancies about himself, his wife, and his sister.

Oddly, those heralding the onset of "global climate change" seem to think there shouldn't be any.
And if Al Gore believes anything he wrote therein, he would not have a house that uses 20x the national average in energy, and certainly would not be flying around in a private jet. If Al Gore doesn't believe his own book, I'm not sure we should either.