14 July, 2016
It's almost laughable, the nerve that some scientists, particularly those that are also atheists, have. They claim to be beacons of reason. They claim to be rational. They go on to claim that all who don't agree with them and their opinions about Christianity must be deluded simply because they're not 100% materialistic. They group Christianity together with other religions that bear far more radical ideologies, then commit the hasty generalization of assuming that anyone who is against, for example, abortion or homosexuality is just as evil as Muslim terrorists. There's an irony in this, however: What about their own science communities? Is there discrimination there too?
Notice the standard that these accusations imply: Don't stop thinking. Always make absolutely certain to examine every piece of evidence closely. Never jump to any conclusion. This is a standard in which absolute certainty about any field of science is impossible. Do the scientists themselves do this? Do they refrain from jumping to conclusions? Do they keep thinking about everything without stopping their thoughts about anything? Do they explore every possible alternative explanation about the evidence that they find, or do they shove all of that evidence through some materialistic worldview filter?
Ah, the answer is the latter. "[Darwinism] is a fact" they claim. "The science is settled." "There is no other possible cause for life than a naturalistic one." This is doing precisely the very thing ― namely, stifling thoughts that they disagree with ― that they accuse us of. Although I do kind of agree with them based on the fact that it's a consequence of the deadly sin that is greed, climate change is also a field of science that people pull this trick on. Same thing when it comes to other modes of politically and (ir)religiously motivated science, like science that pertains to homosexuality for instance. A consensus is NOT an objective truth! It's an opinion of a multitude of intelligent people, sure, but without God, an opinion is an opinion regardless of how many people hold it.
Moreover, if only science yielded truth as atheists claim, then guess what? The claim in and of itself would be false by its own definition. The claim that "all truth is scientific" isn't scientific, it's philosophical. I'm always willing to go back to the Craig v. Atkins (1998) debate on this issue: we have a case in which Peter Atkins claimed that science is the only thing that yields truth, and what is William Lane Craig's response? You cannot use the scientific method to prove math, nor can you use it to prove philosophy, nor can you use it to prove history… most importantly, you cannot use science to prove science itself, why? Because the mathematical formulas that science depends on must simply be assumed true in order for science to even be conducted!
So, without much further ado, it's hypocrisy to be skeptical about everything without also being skeptical about skepticism itself. Whenever you exempt a claim or view from its own standard, what you get is a breeding ground for hypocrisy, and unfortunately, that's exactly what the nature of most of these charges is.
12 July, 2016
Is Christian apologetics really 'tyranny of the experts'? Some lay believers seem to think so. They cherry-pick 2 Timothy 3:16 while at the same time ignoring 1 Peter 3:15. That aside, what exactly did the oldest of patriarchs use to defend their views? Did they resort to apologetics as often as we did? As Bill Dyer points out, even Abraham did, by believing that if God can create everything from nothing, then He can also raise Isaac from the dead — granted, Abraham also is told by God not to go through with the sacrifice. Now this is a trivial example, but is it the only one?
In fact, no — at least not if you look to deuterocanonical and/or apocryphal sources. The book of Daniel as we know it — at least the book of Daniel as Protestant Christians (including Lutherans like myself) know it — is not the same book of Daniel that adherents of Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy, and Coptic Orthodoxy know. Why? Because the Hebrew Bible was canonicalized by three different groups of Jews which each canonicalized it in their own entirely different ways.
These three versions of the Tanakh are called, by scholars, the Egyptian, Palestinian, and Babylonian traditions. The version that is present in most Protestant Bibles is the Babylonian one, which is also the one that most modern Jews have in their canons. The Palestinian version, meanwhile, is the one that the Ethiopian Church uses, and the Egyptian version is the one that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches use. It's in this version of the book of Daniel — particularly the end of it — where things get interesting. It's a story of an idol — Bel/Marduk — and a dragon-like beast, and how Daniel proves both of these to be false.
First, we have the Bel idol. This bronze statue is given food, and it disappears the next day, and Nebuchadnezzar is portrayed in this epilogue as begging the question about this idol's nature, that the idol must be eating the offerings. So, Daniel pours ashes on the temple floor one day. Then, the next morning, footprints in the ashes leading to a secret door are discovered, proving that the idol's own priests are taking the food to a secret area to trick everyone. Then the people see that this idol — the one that Nebuchadnezzar is the most devoted to, mind you — is no more than a fraud, and Nebuchadnezzar's theory is debunked.
The next one is of the dragon-like creature, which Nebuchadnezzar claims must be divine because it does eat and drink. So, what does Daniel do? Poison it. He gives it food that has been contaminated with a poison that, when the dragon ate it, would give off enough gas to make the dragon's stomach explode. The dragon eats it, bursts open, dies, and what does Daniel tell Nebuchadnezzar? Because it's not immortal, it's not divine either. This version then goes on to say that it's for this offense — killing the dragon — that Daniel is thrown into the lions' den.
Notice how in this account, Daniel doesn't just simply assert that Babylonian idolatry is fake. He goes on to provide evidence proving the Babylonians wrong about what it is they're worshipping. That's apologetics, is it not? So, we have Abraham, we have Daniel… why should our faith be any different? We have a whole wealth of arguments at our disposal to debunk worldviews like atheism that present a similar threat to Christianity today, so why not use them the same way the patriarchs did? I for one would rather just get with the program and follow in these patriarchs' and other apolosists' footsteps.
07 July, 2016
In the history of the church, no issue has resulted in more hatred, not only from the church but also of it, than those which are LGBT-related. Just three months ago, Target made highly controversial headlines, how? By removing gender signs from bathrooms simply to support a small minority of the population, one that insists that they are female when really male, or vice versa. Why is it that people would insist this, however? Is it scientific or deluded? Is gender based on chromosomes or on thoughts?
09 June, 2016
One of the first questions I ask, before even getting into an Internet debate at all, is "Does the claim that I'm about to refute meet its own standard?" Why? Because any claim that doesn't meet its own standard is false, by its own definition! Such a claim is called a self-refuting or self-defeating statement. Below are just several examples, and I don't know about you, the reader, but I can spot their own admissions of self-defeat just by asking that question, starting, of course, with the obvious.
1. "There is no truth": If this is the case, if there is really no truth, then this very claim cannot be true either! This admission of self-defeat, however, doesn't stop atheists from using it. I've encountered it on the Internet all too often, and more than once it's used by people who claim to be beacons of reason and logic, as atheists often claim to be. Anyone who claims to be a beacon of reason only to make a claim like this one is not only contradicting his own claim in the debate but also contradicting his claims to reasonability in the process.
2. "All truth is scientific": Is this claim scientific in nature, or is it a philosophical assertion? Can one test this claim using the scientific method? Look at a written or printed copy of this claim under a microscope to see if you can find hard proof that the claim itself is true hiding somewhere in the pixels that make up the hard copy of the claim? No. It's a philosophical claim by nature. It's false, therefore, even by its own standard!
Moreover, even science itself hinges on unprovable assumptions, as William Lane Craig alluded to in a debate with Peter Atkins back in 1998. Can one prove Einstein's general theory of relativity using the scientific method? No. We have to simply assume that the general theory of relativity is true in order to conduct physics experiments. Since science also depends largely on mathematical truths — again, can we prove math using science? No we can't. We have to simply assume that, for example, F=(Gm1m2)/d^2 in order to calculate what kind of gravity an object has, or that water consists of 2 parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Are these science? No, they're mathematical truths that science presupposes. In his book, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make their Case, Frank Turek does a fantastic job of going over this problem.
3. "All truth is relative/all morality is subjective": If all truth were relative, then why is the claimant making this claim if I can hear or see it? If all truth is relative, then so would the claim that all truth is relative be relative! Is it? Not if proclaimed publicly. The person telling me that I can't force my truth or my morals on him or her has just claimed objectively that all truth is relative, regardless of whether it's stated implicitly or explicitly — see the problem? The instant it's shouted out loud, this claim undergoes logical decoherence from truth to falsehood.
4. "All Christians are hypocrites": This claim commits the tu quoque fallacy, for starters. Just because a worldview's adherents are hypocrites doesn't mean it's not true. Secondly, who has the burden of coherence when it comes to living up to a moral standard? The one who makes up the standard in the first place, that's who. If there is no God, then morality is either relative or arbitrary. If it's relative, then point 3 applies. If it's arbitrarily defined by people, then those people have the burden of living up to the moral standards that they arbitrarily define. If they don't, then they're also hypocrites! They, therefore, cannot raise this charge if they're guilty of it themselves. Third, only some Christians are hypocrites, not all of them, which makes this a hasty generalization to boot.
5. "You shouldn't judge": Is this claim a judgment? You bet it is. It's a self-defeating judgment not to judge! But wait, didn't Jesus make this same judgment not to judge? Those who say this have committed the fallacy of quote mining. The passage in question is Matthew 7:1-5. In this same passage where Jesus says "judge not, lest you be judged," Jesus also tells us to "take the plank out of our own eye before taking the speck out of a brother's eye". Taking the speck out of another's eye is making a judgment, is it not? Jesus was simply telling us that if we judge, we must make sure we're not also guilty of the same thing that we're making the judgment about. Much different from the self-defeating claim of "don't judge, period".
There are, of course, countless others, but these are the most common ones. I hope that by posting this I can make sure fellow case-makers can be empowered to use this law of non-contradiction to debunk these rather silly (if thought about) claims — let's be clear: if one claims to be a beacon of reason only to make claims like these, he or she is doing a terrible job of living up to that reason claim.
17 May, 2016
Is the Bible really accurate in its claims? I mean, as a middle schooler (and on the fine line between Christianity and atheism at the time), I had quite a few doubts about its reasonability. It wasn't until 9th grade (2007-08) that the first of those doubts began to get debunked, and it wasn't until I learned the historical-legal method in my third full year of college (2014-15) that I began to really see how accurate the claims in the Bible are (I did indeed believe the Bible to be true before the apologetics lessons of March 2014, March 2015 [McDowell], and March 2016 [Koukl], but didn't have all the answers to give for why I believed), since that's when Sean McDowell (who just turned the big 40 today — congrats!) showed up at my church and used the same method to prove that the Bible is accurate in its claims. This post, therefore, is dedicated to going through how I got to that conclusion in detail.
27 April, 2016
In my previous post, I made a rather strong case against the habit of looking for Exodus evidence in the wrong time period. Towards the end of the post, however, is a claim that refers to Khamudi as being the Exodus Pharaoh, as opposed to someone from Dynasties XIII (Rohl) or XIX (mainstream). Little do people realize, however, that the archaeological pattern from Avaris and other associated sites matches much more closely with the chronology of the lower kingdom of Divided Egypt than anything else. So, I'm using this post as an explanation for why I personally think that the Lower Egyptian dynasties are far more important, Biblically speaking, than the dynasties from Upper Egypt or from a unified Egypt.
A very important discovery was indeed made, right at the beginning of the earliest possible Avaris settlement. A Syrian-style house, very similar to the kind of house that Abraham, Isaac, and/or Jacob would have built in their hometown of Harran, Syria, was found at this location, and was subsequently flattened. On top of this flattened house, a palace was constructed. This palace was huge. It contained courtyards, speech chambers, a robing room, a front entrance with 12 pillars supporting it, and a garden in the back containing 12 tombs. Note this interesting pattern of 12's here: There was only one Semitic culture at this time, bar none, that considered 12 to be a number of cultural significance, and that culture was ancient Israel.
The one tidbit that *really* gets interesting, however, is that one of these 12 tombs behind this Avaris palace was shaped like a pyramid. Extremely unusual, why? Because only Pharaohs and queens had pyramid tombs at this time — not even viziers had pyramid tombs! Imhotep certainly didn't. Neither did any other highly important vizier in ancient Egypt, before this period or after. The person buried in this tomb, however, was a foreigner. His cult statue shows him with red hair (!), yellow skin (!), a throwstick (!) across his shoulder, and painted to look like he's wearing a multi-colored coat(!). Either this is indeed Joseph himself, or his career is identical to Joseph's.
The Pharaoh who was ruling at the exact same time that this palace and tombs were constructed in Avaris was Amenemhat III. His statue is a much more drab complexion compared to Joseph's: he's depicted with ears turned out so as to listen to people's concerns, and with a facial expression that is much more indicative of worry than of prosperity. It was during his reign that "Bahr Yussef" — the "Waterway of Joseph" — was constructed to divert half the water from the Nile into the Faiyum, a marshy lake that was used to grow crops like rice and wheat during times of plenty. Making it bigger means it's possible to grow more, and according to the Bible, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Amenemhat as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, correct? During a time of drought (definitely a famine-causing phenomenon) on the Nile, the Faiyum would have still been large enough to hold water for much longer than 7 years.
After Amenemhat III, however, something really interesting happens: One kingdom becomes two. Dynasty XIII (the one that Amenemhat was a member of) rules Upper Egypt, and a brand new Dynasty XIV — Joseph's dynasty — rules Lower Egypt. Amenemhat was probably *so* impressed with Joseph's famine-foiling tactics that he decides to give half of his kingdom to Joseph and his descendants as a gift — the fact that he's buried in a pyramid tomb, the *only* vizier throughout Egyptian history to do so, seems to suggest exactly this.
But wait, what about the "Pharaoh who knew not Joseph"? Skip forward about 200 years to the reign of Upper Egyptian pharaoh Djedneferre Dedumose II. During his reign, Egypt goes from two peacefully coexisting kingdoms — Upper and Lower — to civil war. How did this happen? Right around this time, Dynasty XIV is replaced with Dynasty XV. A coup d'état occurs in Lower Egypt, and this new dynasty, instead of being friendly to the Upper kings, is hostile to them. This dynasty is also Semitic, but not Jewish. It was a dynasty of pagan Semites, who worshipped not Yahweh but Baal, Har, and other false idols along those lines, and the first king in that dynasty was a powerful one indeed: Sheshi. He certainly would have a motive to enslave the pious Jews, and it's to persecute them for worshipping one God instead of many.
Supporting this hypothesis is what happens when the Israelites reach the border with Canaan but decide to grumble instead of conquer (Numbers 14:33), then conquer 40 years later. If they had absolutely no contact with this region, why did the Israelites grumble? It was the promised land! How did they know about the Canaanites and Amalekites and how horrible they were if they went through that land hundreds of years earlier and found no one there? The only feasible explanation for this is that Dynasty XV, which began with Sheshi and ended with, that's right, Khamudi, happened to be of either Canaanite or Amalekite origin.
Making Khamudi the Pharaoh who confronted Moses (and, by extension, Apepi II as the Pharaoh that instituted the drowning policy and whose daughter adopted Moses, according to Exodus 2:23) would also make perfect sense from a standpoint of how this powerful Lower Kingdom was able to get overrun and how this bloody civil war ended so abruptly: The plagues and the Red Sea crossing would mean that Khamudi would suffer the loss of his slave force, the loss of his crops, the loss of his firstborn, and the loss of his army. The Exodus would weaken the Lower Kingdom, sure, but the Upper Kingdom? The Upper Egyptians would be saying "You know this Lower king, Khamudi? His slave force is free, his army is under the Red Sea, and all his firstborn are dead — here's an opportunity for us to take him out." Right after the Exodus, this is exactly what happens: Khamudi is killed by an Upper Egyptian Pharaoh by the name of Ahmose I, who conquers the now largely abandoned Lower Egypt and founds the reunified New Kingdom on top of the Lower Kingdom's plagued, pillaged, abandoned, tattered ruins.
25 April, 2016
25 March, 2016
- If moral objectivism is true, then evil has only one definition and therefore does indeed exist
- If moral relativism is true, then evil is undefined, and if evil is undefined, then everything is good and evil is impossible
On this day, Good Friday, March 25, A.D. 2016, my thoughts, prayers, and logic all go out to those who still insist on believing this flawed content, even as I grow in my faith and put it into practice by posting stuff like this. It's sad, really: some have become so hostile to even the remotest possibility that Christianity might be true that, instead of investigating their objections as J. Warner Wallace, Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis, and, yes, I did (had some doubts as a middle schooler that I chose to investigate while in high school), they choose to raise stuff like this that takes "unreasonable" to an even greater low than the low that they claim Christianity is at, not even realizing how unreasonable their objections actually are.
06 February, 2016
|MJO phases over the past 60 days, with January 4-7 ― the period when we got hammered ― circled, with ensemble forecasts for the next 15 days added. Second half of February looks like déjà vu in this regard.|
Although Daniel Swain did highlight this major difference between January 2016 and January 1983/1998, it seems 1888-89 was just like 2015-16 in this regard. March 1889, for the record, was a month that one could almost refer to as like March 1983 on steroids, not to mention that it too immediately followed a hellishly warm/dry February, and if the above MJO forecast is any indication, March 2016 likely will also be an absolute soaker, to say the least. So, to recap: We simply have not seen the most that this El Niño has to offer yet, and likely won't have a final tally until we get past the spring barrier, for that matter.Even further back than 1982-83 and 1997-98, an even closer Ω700 anomaly analog to 2015-16 #ElNiño lurks: 1888-89 pic.twitter.com/0Wg5q0pLs6— Kenny Strawn (@strawn_04) February 5, 2016
04 February, 2016
One of the most common questions raised by atheists, and I have seen this raised countless times, to be fair, is the question of why a good God would send people to Hell. This question fails to take into account that all 7 billion people on this planet, not to mention billions of ancient people to boot, are in rebellion against God by nature, for starters — people who rebel get separated, that sounds like a natural consequence to me. In response to this assertion, one atheist on YouTube replied that he thought we were good, and not evil, by nature, at which point I had to give him a little history lesson. There are in fact several biological factors that are evil by nature, and the one I'll be covering in this post — the fight-or-flight response — is the beginning of a multi-part series on biological evidence explaining why we need a savior.
Has anyone reading this ever gotten this sudden urge to lash out in anger when a certain trigger is flipped? When provoked in a certain manner? When physically attacked, to want to just attack in return? I confess, even I have in the past, to my (and this is a serious understatement) ultimate regret. When certain triggers are tripped, the adrenal glands release large amounts of epinephrine. Heart rate increases. Breathing rate skyrockets. The person quivers. At this point, he or she has only two natural, biological instincts: lash out in anger, or be a coward, run away, and let sloth take over. This, by definition, is the fight-or-flight response.
Note how anger and sloth — the products of this biological reflex — are two of the Seven Deadly Sins. What did Jesus preach on the Sermon on the Mount about this matter? He told us to love (!) our enemies, to, "when slapped on one cheek, turn the other", and to keep going the extra mile. Doing all this means suppressing this response that is hard-coded into not only human beings but also into animals of all sorts. Without divine intervention, suppression of the fight-or-flight response is physically impossible.
This, therefore, brings us to the ultimate reason why we must believe to be saved from eternal separation: it's just one of several pieces of evidence (others of which will be covered in other posts in this series) that human beings, all 7 billion of them, are evil by nature. And if we're evil by nature, then it's only by acceptance of the gift of substitutionary atonement that we can possibly get out of this.
Since it is physically impossible for us to suppress this reflex, we have Jesus, who *never* used it on another human being — even when threatened with crucifixion — and became the ultimate sacrifice, as God incarnate, to atone for these natural-yet-sinful instincts, to pay for them so we don't have to. Stay tuned, because every Thursday from now until March 3, another member of this series will be posted.
14 January, 2016
Back in October, rumors abounded, thanks in part to a WSJ article, that Google may in fact be folding Chrome OS into Android. Google execs, however, were quick to respond: Not only is Chrome OS "here to stay" according to Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP in charge of Android, Chrome, and Chromecast, but, in perhaps a 180 as far as evidence is concerned, Android's version of Chrome, unlike all the desktop versions, still does not have access to the Web Store. Moreover, while the amount of apps available (not counting sideloads, in which case the sky is the limit) for ARC has indeed skyrocketed since 2014 when ARC was first debuted, the number of Cordova ports of packaged Chrome apps ― which have been around longer than ARC, mind you ― is not only unknown but, presumably, still very small, especially since the neither Google Play nor Apple's App Store have dedicated sections for them. Therefore, if a merge does take place, it only makes sense for it to be the exact opposite of initial rumors: not Chrome OS folded into Android, but Android folded into Chrome OS instead.
A new feature pushed to Canary builds today adds all the more support to this theory. Accessible via a flag (chrome://flags/#enable-fullscreen-app-list), this feature will make the current Chrome OS app launcher ― the one that shows up when the Search key is pressed ― fill up the entire screen IF, and only if, either A, a touch screen is present, or B, chrome://flags/#ash-enable-touch-view-testing is enabled and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+8 is toggled:
|Top: Current Chrome OS app launcher. Bottom: Chrome OS app launcher with chrome://flags/#enable-fullscreen-app-list enabled.|
27 December, 2015
|November peak values, compared. Red line = 2015-16; blue line = 1997-98. Note how the 2015 values have not only exceeded peak 1997-98 values, they're the first-ever instance of sea surface temperatures in excess of 3°C above average.|
Credit: Jan Null
Not only is this record intensity, it's the first time any El Niño has ever surpassed the +3°C anomaly threshold in the all-too-critical Niño 3.4 region in modern times. It's this region that is most critical for driving the storm track into California in particular: As explained in a previous post, once a tropical thunderstorm rises to extreme heights, it can't rise any further and gets forced to spread out ― that's what gives thunderstorms in general their characteristic anvil shape. In the tropics, however, we're talking about large masses of these tall thunderstorms very close to the equator, where Earth's rotation is fastest.
To readers who don't understand the dynamics of this: Have you ever tried to play catch with someone on a merry-go-round as it's spinning? When you try to throw the ball and the recipient is on the other side, the ball appears to get batted away from the center of rotation by some invisible force, but it's really the person throwing the ball who is moving with respect to the frame of reference. This is called the Coriolis effect, and it also happens on a global scale with regard to Earth's rotation. Remember, the equator is the part of the Earth that rotates fastest. Anvil outflow from tall tropical thunderstorms, when it spreads out toward the hemispheres, moves from an area of fast rotation to an area of relatively slow rotation. This, therefore, makes the outflow deflect to the right as the Coriolis effect acts on it. The Niño 3.4 region is critical because of the Coriolis effect: Outflow from thunderstorms in that region in particular, when it gets deflected to the right during the winter months, ends up *in* California. Outflow from convective storms in regions east of there, such as Niño 3 and Niño 1+2, ends up in places like Texas and Florida, respectively, which is why the effects of a strong El Niño don't just stop in California but actually affect the entire southern tier of the United States.
So, wait, why has fall been cold and dry despite the strong oceanic signal? In addition to the strong equatorial Pacific El Niño signal, surface divergence/upper convergence over Indonesia due to a chunk of Hadley cells packing strong positive Ω500 anomalies (sinking air = high pressure) parked there (the main culprit behind Indonesia's wildfires this past summer) has forced anomalously strong upwelling in the eastern Indian Ocean, causing a cold tongue to appear there, where it usually doesn't. This was a strong positive phase of what's known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, or IOD for short, and it tends to cause Hadley cells in the Indian Ocean to weaken and expand, even as those in the Pacific intensify and contract due to strong ENSO-induced equatorial downwelling.
The positive phase of the IOD, which peaked in October, went on to make the Indian Ocean a breeding ground for a tropical phenomenon of a different kind: a propagating atmospheric wave that forces rising air and westerly winds under it known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO. This is why Cyclones Chapala and Megh formed in November: the weak Phase 8 MJO wave that helped El Niño spawn the monster that was Hurricane Patricia moved over the Atlantic (where it didn't do much), then Africa (where it contributed to Kenya floods). As soon as it reached the Indian Ocean, it was able to freely amplify. MJO over the Indian Ocean ― in phases 2 and 3 (especially 3, which is what it was in throughout most of November) ― tends to interfere with Pacific convection, just like it did in late June, and the result is not a pattern typical of El Niño but rather a negative phase of the Pacific-North American teleconnection, or PNA ― highly anomalous for strong/VS El Niño ― like the negative PNA that we saw in November and most of December when a bunch of inside sliders affected us instead of the zonal storm track driven by the subtropical jet that we would expect to see. In mid December, it went on to a very brief phase 4/5 (Indonesia/Australia, the most problematic of all regions), which only lasted a week or so.
The day before Christmas Eve, however, MJO entered Phase 6. This means that it's no longer over the Indian Ocean or Maritime Continent (the area around Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines that is most problematic when it comes to ENSO), but over the Pacific. Instead of being against El Niño, this phase of the MJO is directly on top of El Niño. In addition to a gale-force westerly wind burst now in progress as a result (and probably a downwelling Kelvin wave of epic proportions resulting from that during our wet season), this is a double whammy when it comes to the subtropical jet that is oh so critical for California impacts during strong or VS El Niño events, since now there's not one, but *two* phenomena both acting to force tropical convection and anomalous tropical westerly winds in the same place. This in turn means not one but *two* phenomena acting in tandem to add juice to the subtropical jet. It's capable of destroying the anomalous -PNA just as quickly as it created it, and the two major computer models ― GFS and ECMWF ― seem to agree on that happening, not far into the future, but as soon as January 4-5. Brace yourselves; we're in for a big one indeed.
05 November, 2015
|Cyclone Chapala as it approached the Yemeni coast on All Saints' Day, 2015. Two days later, on the day immediately following All Souls' Day, this beast would hammer the city of al-Mukalla, occupied by AQAP throughout much of 2015, with hurricane-force winds, storm surge, and a decade of rain in less than 24 hours, causing a flood of biblical proportions.|
30 October, 2015
Some rumors have circulated over the course of the past few days about Chrome OS and Android under Sundar Pichai's Google. In particular, suggestions that by 2017 Chrome OS and Android will become one and the same, and that Android is what Chrome OS would be merged into. However, Google not only mentioned that Chrome OS isn't going anywhere, a spokesperson also mentioned even more commitment to Chrome OS than to Android. Could this mean that the media actually has it backwards?
At I/O 2014, Google released Android Lollipop as a developer preview release, then released the final version the following fall. At the same time, however, Sundar Pichai also showcased the seemingly impossible: Android apps running on a Chromebook. At the time, some had no idea what was actually being developed behind closed doors, so rumors abounded on how Google actually did it. Then, the smoking gun: when Google finally released Chrome OS Android apps, an App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) extension was also released. At least in beta it was, anyhow.
Fast forward to October 2015, a full month and a half later, and it's *still* in beta. Although it's now possible to sideload just about anything into ARC thanks to the ARC Welder app, ARC still has its pitfalls: either install the very limited selection in the Chrome Web Store or sideload. However, what will happen when ARC goes from beta to stable? When ARC becomes as capable as the Android OS itself at running apps?
Google has the source code to the Play Store. They also have the source code to the ARC Welder app, which is itself an Android app that uses ARC to run on Chrome OS. All Google would need to do to essentially give Chrome OS access to the entire Android app catalog is A, add the ARC Welder app template to the Play Store APK, B, modify the Play Store code to match Android manifest permissions with ARC metadata permissions, and C, pack the resulting modified Play Store APK into a CRX file that can run on an ARC-powered Chromebook. Essentially Chrome OS would then have access to the entire Play Store as a result, all apps included.
As if that's not enough, what about porting the Now Launcher to ARC? Keep in mind that Chrome OS already has a "TouchView" mode that only enables when a touch screen is present. Android's UI makes *much* more sense on a touch screen than TouchView IMO, which is simply a crippled version of the Ash desktop with the inability to unmaximize any windows. If Google released an ARC version of the Now Launcher and bumped it to full screen mode only under the same conditions as TouchView now, the result, essentially, would be not Chrome OS folded into Android as media is suggesting, but instead Android folded into Chrome OS. For now, however, it's just a waiting game regarding what Google really has in store.
27 October, 2015
Enter the Niño 3.4 ITCZ Gap
|Comparison of locations of low outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies from September 2015, September 1997, September 1982, and September 2013. Low OLR anomalies indicate the presence of tropical convection. Note how, in 2013, deep convection in the vicinity of Niño 3.4 is absent. Credit: Twitter/Xerophobe_WW|
But wait, why did the ridge stick around for the 2014-15 season as well? Aside from the fact that the El Niño event that is flirting with record intensity this year was weak Modoki last year, something called the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, or QBO, was in a negative phase. This oscillation measures how strong the winds in the tropics at the 50-millibar (read: stratospheric) level are, and in what direction they blow. Westerly winds at that level, indicative of positive QBO, in the tropics tend to inhibit sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events that were a key driver in the ridge's resilience, while easterlies at that level, indicative of negative QBO, are highly favorable for such events. Although QBO was positive 2013-14, the existence of the ITCZ gap in the Niño 3.4 region was enough to overpower the westerly QBO at the time. Then, as this El Niño tried and failed to develop last year, in May 2014 QBO flipped from positive to negative, causing it to peter out and actually reinforcing the ITCZ gap with an SST gap, once again bringing the nasty RRR back. But now that we actually have a ''too big to fail" El Niño event present in the tropical Pacific in 2015, where are we?
We have just entered the westerly phase of the Quasi Biennial Oscillation (QBO). pic.twitter.com/QxmYPDgECm— Michael Ventrice (@MJVentrice) August 30, 2015
24 October, 2015
To whoever is reading this: By now you may know just how devastated some towns along Mexico's west coast have become. You've seen the damage images. You've seen the satellite and space station images. I've seen the raw data. We officially have a new record for strongest hurricane in the history of the eastern Pacific basin, beating 1997's Linda with a sustained wind speed 15mph faster and a minimum central pressure 23 millibars lower. This storm's name? Patricia.
Dropping to a record-shattering 879 millibars (in the recorded history of every basin on the planet, only Typhoon Tip had a lower central pressure), packing maximum sustained winds in excess of 200 (!) miles per hour inside a compact pinhole of a core (including the eyewall, the core of this monster measured less than 15 miles across, while the eye itself was only 5 miles in diameter), and feeding off an exceptionally warm, deep pool put in place by the second strongest (and counting) El Niño event on record, Patricia made a beeline for Mexico's west coast. Squarely in Patricia's forecast cone? The state of Jalisco, including the heavily populated resort cities of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.
Thankfully neither of those population and commerce centers bore Patricia's brunt, but some small towns just north of Manzanillo, including Cuixmala (the closest town to the actual landfall location) and Emiliano Zapata (where world-renowned storm chaser Josh Morgerman had to hide inside a hotel bathroom and put a mattress over himself and seven other people to survive), were beyond devastated. The storm did, of course, briefly weaken before making landfall (due in part to a possible eyewall replacement cycle in progress), but still caused tremendous damage. Haven't heard of any fatalities (yet), of course, but, strange as this claim may sound, this stretch of Mexico from Acapulco to Puerto Vallarta is no stranger to hurricanes.
18 years ago, in October 1997, a similar storm threatened a similar stretch of the Mexican coast, only at a slightly weaker intensity, as a westerly wind burst associated with the 1997-98 El Niño event (which 2015-16 is on track to potentially also out-strengthen) made it all the way east and set off a disturbance in the trade winds. The resulting storm — Pauline — went from TS to Cat 4 in about the same amount of time as Patricia intensified to this new record, but made landfall smack in the middle of its rapid deepening phase before having a chance to intensify any further. The main story of Pauline, however, was flooding, not winds, after more than 2 feet of rain (!) was dropped across a large swath of Mexico's west coast. Due to the resulting destruction, the name "Pauline" was retired from eastern Pacific lists, only to be replaced with, what? That's right, Patricia.
It's almost as if that one section of the Mexican west coast just can't get a break whenever a strong El Niño is involved; after all, this list has no retired names on it at all except the "P" name, which is likely to be retired for its second time. Southern Mexico, however, was in D4 "exceptional" drought (hey, just like California) before Patricia hit, so although the winds and surge caused unthinkable destruction, the amount of water that Patricia delivered should certainly help refill Mexico's reservoirs. Well, that is, some of it; after all, most of that water is just running off and causing flash floods. Oh, and another exceptional drought in Texas (wait, what? Yes, the drought in Texas came back; while spring rains were record-breaking, summer rains ceased to exist) is also being quashed by Patricia's remnant moisture.
Meanwhile, as winter approaches and this 2015-16 El Niño (with region 3.4 now holding steady at or above a staggering +2.5C sea surface temperature anomaly) shifts from fueling hurricanes to fueling atmospheric rivers, we here in California are likely to be next on El Niño's list. Now, it's just an exciting waiting game, but still an exciting one nonetheless.
13 October, 2015
29 September, 2015
08 September, 2015
September 15-25, 1939. That's a period few in SoCal old enough to remember will ever forget. By far the biggest contrast in extremes the state has ever experienced occurred during that period, starting with a heat wave. Unlike most heat waves in SoCal, however, this one was bizarre: it shut down the sea breezes that otherwise would keep coastal waters cool. Witnesses recall that even along the coast, 90's to triple digits F were recorded, and with few having any access to air conditioning at the time, sadly, this heat wave proved deadly, when at least 90 people died due to heat-related illness.
Despite this, the heat wave came to a very, very abrupt end, thanks to, what? The tropics. On September 15, the same day the heat wave began, ship data reported the formation of a tropical depression about 100 miles south of Guatemala. Very quickly, that depression became a hurricane, which went on to take a very, very unusual track. Rather than moving west, what would be known as "Hurricane Nine" to meteorologists before the named storm era managed to make a Socorro Island hit, similar to Dolores, then swung north. After 10 days, on September 25, 1939, this tropical tempest made landfall in San Pedro as a strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 70 mph. Just offshore, however, ship data suggested this may have actually been a minimal hurricane, with some ships recording winds in excess of 75 mph. Anyhow, this system brought a very, very abrupt end to that heat wave: not only were the winds fierce, but rainfall totals in only a 24-hour period were in double digits in places. Mount Wilson recorded 11+ inches of rain, and metropolitan Los Angeles about 7 inches. The resulting flash flooding, sadly, also took lives, but this storm definitely gave us a head start on the water year, to say the least. Since tropical cyclones are heat engines, however, this raises a question: could the heat wave actually have helped this hurricane make it to California by increasing local sea surface temperatures?
Even though no hurricane took advantage then, there was in fact a similar heat wave more recently than 1939 that also was intense enough to disrupt the sea breezes that otherwise drive the cold California Current. The year was 2006. Beginning on July 15, triple-digit temps gripped a huge swath from California to Texas, in some cases over 110°F. Even more striking, however, were the dew points: in the 70's and in some cases even 80's! At the same time, sea surface temps climbed extremely rapidly, to the point where, by July 25 (huh, interesting coincidence), they rose past 80°F, the threshold for sustaining a tropical cyclone. The reason? The California Current is wind-driven. What happens is that the breezes, which typically blow from the northwest, pull water away from the coast through Ekman transport, which causes cold deep water to upwell to replace it. That's why hurricanes don't typically come in California's direction: without extreme anomalies, the water is simply too cold to sustain them.
When those winds weaken, stop, or reverse, however, so too does the California Current cease to exist. The result? The water warms up. In the case of 2006, there was no preexisting anomaly, not on the equator nor locally. 1939, however, did already involve a moderate El Niño prior to the heat wave, which may have exacerbated the sea surface temps. Also, since it was in September and not July, climatology is also warmer in general for local SSTs: the warmest of the warm waters usually approach California in late September and early October. All of these factors, on top of a windless heat wave, can only mean one thing: perhaps this heat wave gave that tropical cyclone a helping hand by warming the ocean.
Fast forward to 2015, and we've got something else rather interesting. Of course, it's September again, and this time we've got not a moderate El Niño, or a neutral year, but one of the strongest, perhaps the strongest, El Niño to ever form in modern times. At the same time, we've also got something unusual: erratic tropical cyclone behavior. A hurricane named Linda (again) is spinning off Baja, and did something that few other storms have: where most tropical cyclones weaken, Linda, 200 (give or take) miles WSW of Cabo San Lucas (!), is actually rapidly intensifying. Went from a Category 1 to a 3 this morning, and still going, in a region where tropical cyclones typically don't do that. At the same time, a heat wave, and again, a windless one, is ongoing. Excessive heat warnings for LA and Ventura counties have been issued, as have heat advisories for Orange and San Diego counties, for the next several days. A brief cooldown is expected next weekend, followed by a second round of heat beginning next Tuesday, September 15 (again). At the same time, the GFS model is picking up on, again, a TC forming S of Guatemala, which would be Marty if named. Meanwhile, hurricane-turned-typhoon Kilo, having crossed the International Date Line, is expected to recurve and affect the PNA, pushing it back into a negative phase beyond that, around September 21/22. Just in time too, because that adds a longwave trough to the mix, which can then act to steer that next storm over those heat-primed waters and give it nowhere to go but toward SoCal, hopefully giving us a head start on our water year, which is already expected to be a big one because of El Niño. These are exciting times, indeed.
19 July, 2015
|Hurricane Dolores as a Category 4 storm Wednesday evening, hammering Socorro Island. Eventually, after dissipating over cooler waters, this system shot a plume of moisture up the coast as a tropical storm, then made landfall in SoCal as a remnant low|
El Niño years tend to make this more likely to happen, for several reasons. One is the weakening and/or reversal of the trade winds. Normally, they blow from east to west ― that is typically why hurricanes also move in that direction. When the trades weaken or reverse, westward movement slows. Second is the large-scale collapse of blocking patterns that typically dominate over much of the North Pacific during the summer months. This allows low pressure systems to form in the North Pacific even during the dry season ― troughs that can grab tropical cyclones and pull them north. Third, with the resulting overall lack of upwelling, waters immediately off the California and South American coasts become much warmer than normal, giving tropical cyclones more overall fuel that can sustain them further from the tropics than usual. All of these factors put together can cause some rather interesting effects as the hurricane season in the eastern Pacific basin (which happens to be the very source of the wind shear that suppresses Atlantic activity) rolls on up.
Although this kind of situation is definitely the first of its kind for July in the known historical record, it's not the first of its kind period. In September 1997, for example, moisture from Hurricane Linda ― which currently holds the record for strongest in Eastern Pacific history, although probably not for long ― streamed across California, causing torrential rains and even hail the size of golf balls in some locations. That same year, moisture from the much weaker Hurricane Nora also managed to cause some interesting totals, especially in the Inland Empire, where flooding was rampant. Going further back into history, one of these eastern Pacific behemoths made landfall in Long Beach as a strong tropical storm back in 1939 ― also an El Niño year ― and even further back, in 1858 — again, El Niño — a Category 1 hurricane brought 85mph sustained winds and 10 feet of storm surge to San Diego.
Given how many impacts we've had already ― heck, even way back in May and early June we had some remnant moisture from Hurricane Blanca as well ― it shudders me to think of possible impacts later in this season, including possible repeats of the 1939 and/or 1858 events, given that 2015 accumulated cyclone energy is already ahead of 1997 levels. Although, I for one would definitely take a direct hit from a tropical cyclone as an added bonus on top of already extreme winter El Niño impacts over this drought any day… catch-22, I guess. These are definitely exciting times indeed.