Friday, July 31, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/30/2009 06:12:00 PM

baby kamikiri, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

This is an incredibly cute baby praying mantis (kamakiri), found halfway up the wall inside our house. I wonder how old it might be - really it can be only just hatched to be so tiny. Hopefully, later in the year, I'll be able to show you how big they get.

[Now this IS macro... courtesy of James' Panasonic LX3. I artificially sharpened this image, since sitting on James' massive fingernail it shows the scale better than the shots which actually were in focus.]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/30/2009 06:12:00 PM

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By popular demand...

My reader seems to think it's time I said something about our friend Piers:

(pic from my hit counter).

The context is obviously the embarassing bust of the UKMO forecast for a hot summer. My sympathy for them is in rather short supply, given the ridiculous way in which they have over-hyped the "danger" posed by the possibility of some tolerably pleasant weather over recent years. As I said at the time, even if it did turn out warm, the impact on human health was hardly going to come close to their hyperbolic suggestions (yeah yeah, you can try to pretend it's all the fault of the press if you like, but I don't see anyone trying to correct them).

I can't blame Corbyn for crowing about it, not that I actually think his opinion is worth anything. However, it does highlight the difficulty that numerical models have with handling the subtle shifts in weather patterns that can have a strong influence on the UK's climate. Coming hot on the heels of some thoughtful (and thoughtless :-) ) criticism of the recent UKCP predictions I suspect there may be some rather long faces in Exeter...

[jules' pics] 7/28/2009 09:22:00 PM

BBQ, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

The first rule of living in Japan is never turn down an invitation from an American or Australian to share meat they are cooking. Not only do they know how to BBQ properly, but they also are mysteriously able to obtain ingredients (beef mostly) that the rest of us can only dream about.

[photo taken on location in deepest hottest Tokyo]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/28/2009 09:22:00 PM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The PR Challenge

I visited the new shiny Yokohama Immigration Office yesterday. A couple of months ago it moved from a fairly central location to somewhere out in the hinterland of the docks, presumably so that dodgy foreigners can be conveniently incarcerated and quickly shipped out without infecting the Japanese nation with their funny foreign ways. Conveniently, this new location happens to be a 15 minute bike ride from where I work. And incidentally, it is interesting to see a dock area which is still being actively used as a dock, rather than the mix of dereliction and yuppie apartments which seems to be the general situation in the UK. But I digress..

I was handing in my application for a permanent resident visa. There are two routes to PR: either marry a Japanese citizen/permanent resident and wait about 3 years, or live in Japan for 10 years. The first didn't really sound so attractive (even though you can divorce and keep the PR) and I've only been here for 8 years...however, there is a get-out clause for the 10y requirement, if the applicant is deemed to have made a sufficient "contribution to Japan" during their stay. The definition of "contribution" is a bit vague, but does not seem so stiff for scientists. 6(i) really does say that I have to have published one single solitary paper which has been cited twice by others, and the alternative 6(iii) requires "many" papers which by implication don't need to have been cited at all! The Govt also helpfully provides a list of guideline cases who have passed and failed, and it seems to me that I've got more in common with the former (eg #23, #27, #38) than the latter (#6). But that's for the bureaucrats to decide. The clerk who dealt with my application did suck his teeth and say how "muzukashii" (difficult) it was to bypass the 10y residency, and when such people say "difficult", it usually means "impossible". But I did get a nice letter of recommendation from one of Japan's most eminent climate scientists, which should be worth something.

When it all falls through I can just get another standard visa and reapply for PR in another 3 years. My current visa expires next year, so I've got to do something, and if this comes through I won't need to bother with it again for as long as I stay. There are other possible benefits, like the ability to freely change jobs and a possibility of improved pension benefits, although to be honest I think it's vanishingly improbable that either of these will actually come off. As much as anything, I'm interested to find out if the bureaucrats actually do think that my time here has been worthwhile. It would also be handy for the next time someone asks me when I'm going home. That happened not so long ago, when a f-o-a-f quite literally introduced themselves with "Hello, how lovely to meet you, I've heard so much about you, when are you going home". I wish I had had the presence of mind to reply with "I'm planning outlast you, you old bat". I once said something similar to a lab director who was threatening to sack me - and I was right then too :-)

[jules' pics] 7/27/2009 11:35:00 PM

Taihoji, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

This weird picture was created by accidentally using the defocus control ring (at maximum defocus!) on Lan's lens. But the result has kind of grown on me...

[Taihoji is a very small temple in Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/27/2009 11:35:00 PM

Monday, July 27, 2009

Editorial standards at AGU journals

This ridiculous paper has already been eviscerated by Tamino, RC, and mt, so I won't waste too much time on it, but I have spotted one more error that no-one else has commented on so far before I get to the main point of my post.

So first, the error. It's not as significant as the one Tamino deals with, but here it is anyway. Paragraph 30 reads as follows:
[30] For the 30 years prior to the 1976 shift (i.e., 1946–1975) the SOI averaged +1.93 but in the 30 years after 1976 (i.e., 1977–2006) the average was −3.06, which represents a shift from a La Niña inclination to an El Niño inclination. The standard deviations for the two periods were 9.48 and 10.40 on monthly SOI averages, and 6.56 and 6.35 on calendar year averages, which indicates consistent variation about a new average value. Only the RATPAC-A data are available for lower tropospheric temperatures both before and after this shift, and even then we are limited to 17-year periods for our analysis of RATPAC-A data because monitoring did not commence until mid-1958. From 1959 to 1975 the RATPAC LTT averaged −0.191°C and from 1977 to 1993 it averaged +0.122°C. The standard deviations on the seasonal data were 0.193° and 0.163 C°, and on monthly data 0.162°C and 0.146°C. We have already illustrated the close relationship between SOI and GTTA, but this description of the respective changes before and after the Great Pacific Climate Shift indicates a stepwise shift in the base values of each factor but otherwise relatively consistent ranges of variation.
(SOI and RATPAC are time series data, the definition of which is irrelevant to my point).

So, to parse this clearly, the authors are claiming that when a time series has the properties that the mean of the first half and second half differ, but the variability in each interval is the same, this indicates that there was a step shift in the middle.

Let's take a linear trend plus noise, y=at+e where t (time) runs from -T to T, and e is any additive noise with variance s2. The expected mean over the first half [-T,0] is -aT/2, and the mean over the second half is aT/2. The standard deviation of the first half is sqrt(a2T2/12 + s2), where these two contributions come from the linear trend and noise respectively. The standard deviation of the second half is, um, sqrt(a2T2/12 + s2). In other words, when the means of the first and second half of a time series differ, but the variability does not, this tells us precisely nothing about whether there was a step change or just a linear trend. Ooops.

I hate to think what they might have done were it not for Craig Loehle's graciously acknowledged assistance with the statistical analysis. I'm sure he is delighted to be associated with this sorry mess of a paper.

Now to the real point, which is that the AGU journals seem to have become rather prone to publishing this sort of nonsense recently (remember Schwartz, Chylek and Lohmann, to name but two). Although of course no system will ever be infallible (and a system that blocked out all the mistakes would block a lot of interesting and important stuff too) the errors in these papers are so blindingly obvious that it is hard to believe that any reasonably diligent and competent reviewers would miss them.

When you submit a paper to an AGU journal, you are asked to suggest 5 reviewers. It's a common enough practice (pretty much ubiquitous) which helps the editor who may not be well acquainted with the particular subfield that the paper address. However, it also serves as an open invitation to game the system by suggesting people who you think are likely to be particularly generous and uncritical. Of course any editor worth his (or her) salt should also look outside this list, especially if he thinks that the authors have played this game. But if they have a lot of papers to deal with, and no real stake in the outcome, they might not bother.

I'd like to see AGU editors attach their names to the papers they handle. This seems to be standard practice in the EGU journals, which have not (AFAIK) suffered from this sort of nonsense. This leaves the editors somewhat accountable for the mistakes they make, and any pattern of repeated carelessness would be easily spotted. Of course, the main responsibility lies with the authors and reviewers, but as things stand, it seems like a small clique can publish anything they want so long as they all pat each other on the back. Peer review isn't well set up to deal with deliberate gaming of the system.

Of course, under the EGU's open review system, the gaping holes in this paper would have been spotted very quickly and it would never have been published.

Friday, July 24, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/23/2009 07:30:00 PM

lotus and fish, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Delightfully, someone called Chuck commented on a couple of my photos! :-) Not on this blog, which remains as silent and unvisited as ever, but over at James' Empty Blog.

Chuck said he liked my macro shots, so it must be time to share my latest investment in Japanese technology. None of the shots are actually real macros, but are taken with one of these. (The link is to mapcamera, the lovely shop in Shinjuku where I bought this lens second-hand, but in perfect condition). Basically the "close-ups" are taken with this lens, zapped out to a focal length of 300mm where at 5 feet minimum focus distance it produces a maximum magnification of only 1:4. Lucky that Japanese insects and flowers are so big! Having to be 5 feet away makes things difficult, or impossible, sometimes in tortuous Japan where one step backwards can throw you into a pond or down a cliff, across a road, or cause you to tread on someone's toes, but it is probably a good thing when it comes to trying to not scare the creepy crawlies. Today's photo of Hachimangu pond is taken at the other end of the zoom range at 75mm. ...that goldfish, might look like the one in your fish tank at home but is actually about 1.5 feet long.

What I am not sure about is whether this lotus and fish or this fish and lotus. are nicer. Perhaps they are both just shite.. that is usually the way when I can't decide between two pictures. :-)

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/23/2009 07:30:00 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/22/2009 08:54:00 PM

lotus at Kenchoji, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

A white lotus growing in the ponds of Hachimangu has been featured for years at the top of our website. This year lotus season has been windy, making finding such an elegantly shaped specimen quite tricky. This relatively sheltered pink lotus is one of many growing in large pots at Kenchoji, Kamakura. The gate in the background is a particularly good one and has been designated an "Important Cultural Property".

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/22/2009 08:54:00 PM

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/21/2009 11:03:00 PM

temple cat, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

If I made up the ranking for the temples, only temples with cats would be considered for the top ten. I discovered yesterday why everything is ranked in Japan, when we mentioned Kamakura to some work colleagues and they instantly responded in unison that "Kamakura has five great temples", although, happily, they struggled to name them. This was, of course, one of the "facts" they were taught during their formative brainwashing years. Actually, the brainwashing can come in handy occasionally in meetings, when you want to know something like, say, the position of some obscure element on the periodic table. When the internet finishes there will be at least one nation on the planet whose still remembers things, even if those things are not all entirely true.

[Do not adjust your monitors. This cat is not quite in focus. She lives at Zuisenji in Kamakura. Please tickle her behind the ears if you visit]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/21/2009 11:03:00 PM

Monday, July 20, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/20/2009 02:33:00 AM

dragonfly, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

One pleasant side effect of the mozzies, is the dragonflies. Apparently their habitat is being degraded in the Yokohama area. Not surprising since everyone's habitat is degraded by the slathering of concrete over every available square inch of ground. I wonder when, if ever, the concretification will stop. It is so pointless.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/20/2009 02:33:00 AM

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yet more on decadal prediction and record temperatures

There's an interesting post up on RC, but I'm not convinced by it. I commented on a predecessor of that work a few years ago, which I think is very interesting in terms of our understanding of the behaviour of complex dynamical systems but rather over-sold inasmuch as how relevant it is to quantitative prediction of the climate system.

To expand on that a little: the research outlined there points to qualitative changes in the climate's behaviour which (they think) might affect temperature trends, but their analysis cannot (that I'm aware of) determine the magnitude of these natural trends. Thus, while this process may help to explain the somewhat sharp corners in the temperature record, there is no implication that it actually explains a substantial portion of the observed trends. (As an aside, the sharp corners aren't really that sharp and hardly need explaining anyway, over and above the forced response and a spot of interannual variability). In fact, when they applied their analysis to a GCM in that 2007 research, they found the method worked just the same, and explained small changes in trend of about 0.05C/decade - roughly 1/4 - 1/3 of the recent forced trend, so nothing like enough to cause a cooling or even a halt in the forced warming. Of course the model might not be quite the same as the real climate, but in many respects they are pretty good.

So I'm a little surprised by Kyle Swanson's post in which he seems to be proposing that the climate has been flat-lining since 1998 due to this natural effect. For starters, global warming hasn't actually stopped, and the red line on his graph that I've copied below is just an arbitrarily-drawn line that has no possible connection to any linear fit that I can see.
The green trend line of 0.1C/decade is fitted to 1979-1997, and although he says "no cherry picking here" it is clearly biased low relative to other trends he could have used. I think 0.15C/decade is a more reasonable estimate of the forced trend, there is no evidence for any major change in this post 1998 and I don't expect to see any such major change. (I also queried the IPCC's prediction of an increased warming rate over the next 30 years back when they were crafting their report, as I see no evidence for that either).

So the lines are pretty much junk, I'm afraid (I'm not particularly bothered by their representation of Smith et al - I'd agree that a warming rate of 0.3C/decade doesn't seem very likely). But there's more...there seems to be an El Nino on the way. Following last year's strong La Nina episode, the Nino indices are trending positive, and the forecasts are more or less in agreement (though not universally so) in pointing to at least a moderate El Nino right through the coming winter. Eg see here for a recent summary and forecasts. Of course it might not be a bumper event and might not result in the temperature breaking the 1998 record (next year would probably be the one to look out for, as the temperature anomaly seems to lag the El Nino itself). But it would not surprise me to see Swanson's prognostication of no rise in temperatures proven wrong rather sooner than 2020.

I see that Tamino has said some pretty similar things. But not identical, so go and read his post.

[jules' pics] 7/15/2009 06:02:00 PM

ajisai, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

To top it all off, the amorphous hydrangea have an incredibly long season. Still flourishing in places, it is more than a month since they were mankai (full bloom) at Megetsuin. Their death knell was, however, tolled this week when it was officially announced that rainy season has ended and summer has started. The Japanese seasons are quite confusing - our summer doesn't start until the evenings are already drawing in. This year the start of summer has been abrupt. From overcast, warm and ridiculously humid, we have now switched to blue skies, hot (today's range forecast to be 25C-31C) and slightly less humid.

[photo taken near our house in Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/15/2009 06:02:00 PM

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Police should seize antisocial drivers' cars, say Tories

At last, a policy that could get me voting for the nasty party (if only I had a vote, that is):

Police should seize antisocial drivers' cars, say Tories

Oh, wait...they didn't say that at all. Oh well, never mind. There's always next time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/13/2009 09:27:00 PM

Hikawa Maru, Yokohama, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

The Kobayashi Maru may have a bigger Wikipedia entry, but the Hikawa Maru actually did stuff in our universe.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/13/2009 09:27:00 PM

Monday, July 13, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/13/2009 12:30:00 AM

While Kamakura ocean-life is all about the beach, Yokohama ocean-life is all about the port. It was at Yokohama that Japan re-opened to the rest of the world and this year is the 150th anniversary of the port opening. To celebrate the 150 years, they have done some more organising of the old port area. The bit under the glass is the remains of a railroad turntable in the vicinity of the old customs house. The gaijin history of Japan part 2 really starts a few years earlier than 1859, in 1853 when the Americans arrived. The Japanese have done a remarkable job over the intervening 150 years of not absorbing American, or any other foreign culture. The root of this unique ability seems to be the belief, instilled somehow in all, that foreigners are a kind of alien species that can, by definition, never be understood. Likewise the belief is that Japanese are (culturally, mentally, and even physically) unique and likewise can never be understood by any foreigner.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/13/2009 12:30:00 AM

Saturday, July 11, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/11/2009 06:18:00 AM Saturday morning on Kamakura beach.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/11/2009 06:18:00 AM

Thursday, July 09, 2009

More Exxon shenanigans much for Exxon giving up their funding of sceptic groups. A quick glance at the groups linked from that page shows that they do indeed feature the standard septic nonsense, I found something by Baliunas very quickly (and no, it wasn't about astronomy, where her opinions might possibly be worth something).

This news rather undermines the credibility of the EGU officials who (in the CL division meeting at the recent EGU meeting) repeatedly referred to Exxon's bad behaviour as a purely historical phenomenon and were very adamant that we should not judge Exxon on their record but on their supposed pledge to be more honest in future. I wonder if this news will force a rethink?

[jules' pics] 7/08/2009 09:27:00 PM

lotus flower, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Engakuji is huge and mostly monochrome.

woo hoo...the lotus are coming!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/08/2009 09:27:00 PM

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Spend for the planet!

You know how that old "reduce, reuse, recycle" slogan of the environmental movement is embarrassingly inconvenient for conventional economic growth?

Well, Japan has recently solved this conundrum with a truly brilliant idea. They have miraculously turned grotesque over-consumption into an environmental act by creating the "eco-point"! Each "Eco-point" is worth about 1¥ (which you can use for yet more consumption), and you get awarded more points for buying larger, more power-hungry appliances. The largest flat-screen plasma TVs, with a power consumption of about 5 times greater than a typical old-style CRT model, get the max 36,000¥-worth of points. Buying larger air-conditioners and refrigerators will save the planet too! Why didn't Al Gore think of it sooner? The "eco-point" greenwash site can be found here, but it seems a bit knackered at the moment.

Coming next: eco-coal, which neutralises its CO2 emissions by prepending the "eco" prefix to ordinary coal.

[jules' pics] 7/07/2009 08:40:00 PM

squiggle, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

A bit like in the UK, where it is rare to find the fluffy red squiggle, and the American import is more common, Japan's own fluffy squiggle is much less common that this one, who, I have been told, was developed in Taiwan...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/07/2009 08:40:00 PM

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

[jules' pics] 7/06/2009 09:09:00 PM

Engagkuji sanmon, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Engagkuji is the second of the top five zen temples in Kamakura. Don't know how these lists are worked out, but they seem to be invented for most things you might go and visit in Japan. It starts to get a little mind bending when you find yourself visiting the third of the top ten outside the top five somethings. Anway, Engagkuji is huge and monochrome.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/06/2009 09:09:00 PM

Monday, July 06, 2009

Who named the Maunder Minimum?

Jack Eddy died recently. Numerous articles and obituaries have credited him with discovering, and christening as "the Maunder Minimum" the period 1645-1715 when virtually no sunspots were seen (here is Nature, Telegraph, Wikipedia). The conventional wisdom seems to be that the historical sunspot data was vaguely known but not widely accepted, until he came along, proved it really happened and coined the name "Maunder Minimum" in his 1976 paper. But is this really true? One of my sources suggested recently that there may be more to this story that meets the eye. He was an active researcher in this area at the time (and remains so) and says he remembers the term as being in widespread use prior to that paper. He even used the term himself in 1977 as if it were a well known expression. So I did a bit of investigation.

Let's look first at the conventional wisdom. Eg from the Telegraph's obit:

"While many contemporary scientists were sceptical about the reliability of these observations, Eddy reinvestigated sunspots in the light of Spörer's and Maunder's work, and concluded that every two centuries or so there was an interruption to the 11-year cycle. He christened the period 1645-1715 "the Maunder Minimum". "

And Wikipedia:

"he identified a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 as a time when solar activity all but stopped. [...] which he called the Maunder Minimum"

(the MM page also repeatedly credits him with its discovery)

Now, Eddy himself certainly acknowledged (in an interview with Spencer Weart) that other scientists (specifically Maunder and Spörer) had known about the sunspot data, but argued that "in science the proper credit for something goes not necessarily to the first person who thinks of it, or writes about it but to the one who can convince his colleagues and the doubting world that it's true". However, he very specifically claims the name as his own:

"I also, deliberately chose the title of the paper in Science, calling it simply the "The Maunder Minimum." I knew nobody would know what that was."

I was therefore rather surprised to find that a simple google search finds the term "Maunder Minimum" used no fewer than three times in the Introduction to a conference proceedings, dating from August 1975 - almost a full year before the famous Science paper appeared. Indeed, the author of this article (E. N. Parker) refers precisely to the 1645-1715 interval as "the 70 year minimum (sometimes called the Maunder Minimum)" without any attribution or other hint that this might have been a recent neologism. He also refers to coronal and auroral observations which back up the sunspot evidence for anomalous solar behaviour at this time. Eddy was not at this meeting but a colleague of his from NCAR (Gilman) did attend and even has a brief comment, following the Introduction, which refers to some of his work with Eddy concerning the sun's rotation rate at around that same period. There are no formal references to any work by Eddy anywhere in the entire conference proceedings that I can find.

It gets curiouser. In the same interview with Weart, Eddy specifically credits Gene Parker with introducing him to Maunder's work - this is the very same E. (Eugene) N. Parker who gave that introductory presentation in 1975 and talked about "the 70 year minimum (sometimes called the Maunder Minimum)". Contrary to Eddy's claim, I'm sure that Parker, and all the other scientists at that conference, would have known exactly what "The Maunder Minimum" referred to when Eddy's paper appeared!

None of this is intended to belittle Eddy's contribution of linking the sunspots to other data and putting it all on a firmer footing. But it seems clear that the basic phenomenon - and the name - was fairly well known (at least in the relevant research community) prior to his paper. Perhaps the story has grown a little during the numerous retellings on the after-dinner circuit he seems to have enjoyed. I think it may be time for a bit of Wikipedia editing...

I haven't found an earlier ref than 1975 to the "Maunder Minimum", but I am equipped with nothing more than google, so maybe someone else can do better...(I did see a dodgy ref in 1968 in German but it seems to be a typo).

Update 7/07/09

I hadn't bothered to click on it as I has assumed it must post-date the famous 1976 paper, but in fact this paper by Eddy, Gilman and Trotter "Solar rotation during the Maunder Minimum" predates the famous Science paper by several months! Dated Jan 1976 (only submitted Dec 1975 - how's that for a fast turnaround) it refers to Eddy 1976 as being in press.

It is also notable that in the 1976 paper, Eddy specifically christens the Spörer minimum (1460-1550) with the phrases "The earlier minimum, which we may call the Spörer minimum" and "which I have called the Spörer minimum". It is pretty clear that he named the Spörer minimum, and this contrasts strongly with the manner in which he refers to the Maunder minimum.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Times in nonsense hype shocker

Bryan took issue with my last post on heatwaves, but I'm basically unrepentant (as my replies there show).

Here's another example of unreasonable hype from today's Times:
"Thousands of extra deaths are likely if the heat persists throughout the summer, experts say. And heat-related deaths will continue to rise in future years if climate-change predictions prove to be accurate."
Of course it's complete bollocks. Heat-related deaths have actually fallen over the last few decades, as I pointed out not so long ago. If the summer is as hot as the "devastating" 2003 heatwave then I confidently predict that the number of heat-related deaths will be lower than in that year. In fact, I confidently predict that the number of heat-related deaths will be lower than any estimate based on historical data would give. It is clear from a cursory analysis of the data that the population is adapting to warmer temperatures at least as rapidly as the temperatures are rising.

I'm sure no researcher would actually have been stupid enough to lie and say that heat-related deaths have been increasing. They merely encouraged the hype, and you can be sure that none of them will make any effort to correct falsehoods like this. I don't blame the reporter who merely joined the dots in an entirely predictable and understandable manner: (fact 1)heat kills - (fact 2)temperatures have been rising - (fact 3)2003 was the hottest summer on record and 2000 people died - (fact 4)global warming means we will have even hotter summers in future -> (false deduction)deaths are rising and will continue to rise. He could hardly be expected to think that the researchers were deliberately misleading him. Maybe if someone pointed out that twice as many people died due to the rather less hot summer of 1976 he might pause for thought...but I'm not holding my breath.

Bah humbug. Of course I may just be hot and bothered because of the temperatures here :-)

[jules' pics] 7/02/2009 10:44:00 PM

Kamakura, these days a peaceful retreat from Tokyo, endured a great deal of murder (tribal warfare) back when it was the capital of Japan. Jojuin marks the "mountain" pass that was the westward guarded entrance to the town, so I expect it saw its fair share. Nowadays it has alleys of ... yes ... ajisai (sigh) running up the steep sides of the hill. The temple, itself, however, has a lovely little garden including some lillies of a more understated nature than the weed variety.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/02/2009 10:44:00 PM

Thursday, July 02, 2009

OMG it's summer!!!111!!!!ELEVENTY!!!1111!!

Apparently some vague signs of summer have been spotted back in Blighty so everyone has flown into a panic. Summer hasn't been seen there since about...ooh, last August or so. So it's not surprising that they are worried and don't know how to cope. They are now in an "Amber Heatwave" situation in the south east, because the temperature may reach....32C max and 18C overnight min (it's nothing like that warm over most of the country). Genuine question: do they have a "Blue cold snap" warning in winter which also "requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups"?

It is interesting to see the emphasis on overnight min as well as the more exciting daily max. It's still rainy season here, so our max temperatures are reasonably cool. However, we probably won't see much below 20C overnight until mid-October or thereabouts. Here's the latest weather forecast, which I hope is self-explanatory despite the language:

The temperature values don't tell the whole story, as it is also phenomenally humid here, making it feel much worse.

Further south in Okinawa, summer is still some way off, but it's a good bit hotter already:

Okinawa, of course, is famed for the extraordinary longevity of its oldies - high even by Japanese standards.

Meanwhile, mt is "enjoying" 40C plus. There are certainly places in the world where a few more degrees of warming would not be welcome. The UK is not one of them.

[jules' pics] 7/02/2009 12:39:00 AM

flower sex, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Another plain weed, and the common ole buppyfly that's the size of a swallow. You might need to look at the larger size image to see the pollen on the butterfly's wings that is getting rubbed into all the right places.

[picture taken near our house in Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/02/2009 12:39:00 AM

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Taking the piss

Rumours have been flying for a little while, but Debito actually got on the case and phoned up the police to confirm it - they are actually rounding up foreigners leaving bars and dragging them off to police stations and demanding urine tests. It seems they have some new toys that they want to test.

Of course, they have absolutely no right to do things like this without a warrant, but that has never stopped them abusing foreigners in the past. A common example is the random ID check. By law, they have no right to demand an ID check on a foreigner unless they have grounds for suspicion. However, there is nothing stopping them from asking for ID, and if the foreigners refuses, well that is suspicious behaviour! (Having said that, I've never encountered such an ID check in my 8 years here, but some Tokyo dwellers report over a hundred of them, often the same policeman in the same place as a regular event.)

No doubt the usuals will say Debito's only doing it for the publicity. I for one am grateful for his efforts.

[jules' pics] 6/30/2009 09:06:00 PM

Kamakura Daibutsu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Only a 10 minute bike ride from home and just 200¥ for a "worship ticket", the Kamakura Daibutsu is a National Treasure. At lesser temples, the staff Zen-ishly sweep the gravel and flagstones in the early morning. At the Daibutsu, however, they have invested in a leaf blower. Unbelievable Noise Pollution! We took several photos, but this one got the most hits on flickr so its reward is to be blogged.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/30/2009 09:06:00 PM