Friday, January 29, 2010

Adapt or die

There's an interesting article in Climatic Change which looks at temperature-related mortality in England and Wales in recent decades. They use detection-and-attribution methods to look at the influence of climate change and adaptation.

Given the lengthy introduction citing numerous hyperbolic warnings about the primarily negative and potentially disastrous health effects anticipated due to climate change, it is mildly amusing (though hardly surprising to anyone familiar with the literature) that they observe that temperature-related mortality has decreased sharply over the interval studied. More interestingly, they find that a major cause of this decrease is not even the warmer winters the UK has seen, but rather better adaptation to cold weather. This of course directly refutes the "optimally adapted" meme, since if that was the case, we would expect to see a decrease rather than the observed increase in tolerance to cold extremes as the winters got warmer. But in reality, wealth and technology (eg insulation, heating and clothing) act to increase our tolerance whether or not the climate changes, although the latter may in theory act as an additional stimulus if it were sufficiently important (which it clearly is not, in the UK).

Of course they have to finish off by talking about increases in heatwaves, wondering "whether adaptation will manage to keep pace with such changes". I think it is patently obvious that it will, and would happily bet against any predictions of increasing temperature-related deaths in coming decades.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

[jules' pics] iPad - an iPod for the over forties

Today I am wearing my freshly laundered black turtleneck to celebrate the fact that Steve Jobs is still not dead. And a lot more convincing than Barack Obama he was too. Nevertheless, there are many situations in which my new iPad will remain impractical. For example, this photo was taken by my iPhone just before the train got busy. James is always lucky in these situations as he stands head and iPod above the rest which allows him to breathe.

As for the state of the laundry address: there remain issues to be tackled, but I am only half way through the manual, and laundered items are already showing signs of increased cleanliness and fluffiness, and drying times are dramatically reduced. Only in the next quarter will we know whether the new regime will decrease the water usage resulting in lower water bills.***

***(not that Japan is short of water, of course - I make no pretense that the new machine improves eco-ness in any way)

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/27/2010 07:46:00 PM

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The new Apple iCovet

Apparently it is being unveiled overnight (Japanese time). No-one knows what it is, or what it does, but like a good fanboy, I obviously need one, even if I don't quite know why yet.

I can hardly sleep.

We're popular :-)

I would say I'm pleased to see lots of people are reading it, but of course the data only shows that they were tempted into downloading it based on the teasing title and abstract, and they may either not have read it or been thoroughly disappointed by the main text.

Geophysical Research Letters - Most Popular Articles

I suppose if I really wanted to be popular, I shouldn't have put the final draft up on my web site. But the GRL version is so much better, so you ought to all go and download it anyway :-)

And before you ask, only one of the downloads was me, a copy for my personal library, honest guv...

[jules' pics] 1/26/2010 06:36:00 PM

oranges, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Can you feel them doing you good by just looking at them? I almost can. Bright citrus fruits are a lovely winter feature of Japanese gardens, and this was a particularly fine tree with many large round fruits.

[Amagi Sanso, Izu Hanto]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/26/2010 06:36:00 PM

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What about homeopathy then?

There has been some predictable (and entirely justified) outrage over the fake "bomb detectors" that turned out to be dowsing twigs with jargon. And the person who sold them has been arrested.

But Boots (UK pharmacist, for those who don't know) sell homeopathic "remedies" that consist of nothing more than water or sugar pills, with not a sniff of active ingredient.

Can anyone explain why they aren't also being arrested? I suppose one defence may be that Boots is relying on the frauds of others, and not pretending that these products work (in fact, they openly admit that they do not). What about the doctors who prescribe them, too?

[jules' pics] 1/25/2010 08:51:00 PM

a woman, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Me be woman! Not my scarfy thing of course, which belongs to another woman. The women were very loud. This is because some of them come from America which is very very big with hardly any people, meaning that you have to shout very loudly or your neighbor (sic) will not hear you. Now it is very quiet because 18 scientists are sitting 6 feet from each other just gently tapping at their keyboards. The closer the quieter.

This year's speaker, Diana Butler Bass was excellent, and not just because she belongs to my sect - the whole audience from a wide range of backgrounds remained very well engaged. I know this because, as the photographer, I got to peruse the audience a good deal.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/25/2010 08:51:00 PM

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Schwartz

I suppose I should say something about this, though I'm really rather bored by it. The sexy title "Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?" rather belies the content, which is just a simple energy balance of the earth system, with no new observational analyses or theoretical insights (contrast Murphy et al for a real job).

The "as Much as Expected" in the title is interpreted as the equilibrium response for GHG forcings alone, given an assumed sensitivity of 3C per CO2 doubling. The obvious answer is that (a) of course the system isn't in equilibrium, and (b) there are other forcings too, notably (but not solely) tropospheric aerosols. In fact, current GCMs which account for these factors do an excellent job of reproducing the observed warming, but the more honest and straightforward title of "Why Has Earth Warmed Just as We Expect" would not have been so catchy.

That picture is from Wikipedia (click for page with caption), based on data from the PCM ("Parallel Climate Model" of NCAR and collaborators, equilibrium sensitivity 2.1C). Just to show that this simulation does not indicate the IPCC's 3C sensitivity estimate is too high, here is HadCM3 (sensitivity 3.4C) doing the same thing 10 years ago in the IPCC TAR (again, click for the captioned version):

I've seen equivalent figures for MIROC3.2 (sensitivity 4.0C) too but don't have them to hand. Although one might argue that the models are over-tuned to the past, and thus this agreement doesn't prove anything, blah blah, one can hardly pretend that there is a puzzling discrepancy between the energy balance of the planet (which of course these models simulate) and the observed warming. So the premise of the paper is a big fat straw man at the outset.

The calculations presented are rather trivial zero-dimensional energy balance estimates. Reasonable enough for a blog post I suppose, I'm surprised that they alone are adequate content for publication in JClim. And anyway, when these two big missing factors are included (and set to reasonable values), the paper's conclusion is that the observed warming is entirely compatible with the simple energy balance theory:
Thus countervailing aerosol forcing could account for much or all of the discrepancy between the expected and observed increase in GMST over the industrial period.
There is no useful uncertainty analysis, just a repetition of the well-known observation that these data on 20th century warming do not tightly pin down the equilibrium sensitivity, and overall, it doesn't seem to me that this paper adds much to the debate. Climate scientists have been well aware of such simple energy balance calculations (and their limitations) for some decades now. So despite the misleading title which has predictably resulted in an equally misleading press release and coverage, there is really nothing for anyone (not even the sceptics!) to get excited about.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bad PR

I mentioned some time ago that I was optimistically applying for a permanent residence visa. I got the rejection today, a few days inside their 6 month guideline, which consisted of the single sentence "あなたのこれまでの在留実績からみて,永住を許可するに足りる相当の理由が認められません。" or "Your achievements to date are not reasonable grounds to grant permanent residence".

Perhaps it's a useful reminder that after nearly 9 trouble-free years here the bureaucracy still views me as just a visitor to be tolerated for the time being, rather than the sort of person that they might like to settle here in the long term. And perhaps not entirely surprising, since my employer views me in much the same way. But based on the list of successful and unsuccessful applicants, it seems to me they have been unduly harsh (eg see Case #27 on that list, also #38).

There is talk of some reformation of the immigration process, but I am not holding my breath. The revolving-door approach towards foreigners (by all means come here for a few years, but make sure you don't stay too long) pervades not just immigration, but employment contracts too, so it will take more than changes to the immigration system to change things significantly.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Jules used to be an astronomer. Thankfully, no more. Not just because of the horror stories of being driven up and down the mountain (where the telescope was sited) in the dark on a narrow twisting road by a drunk old lecher who had just downed a bottle of wine and who kept on pestering her to let him eat breakfast off her stomach...

But more importantly (perhaps) because The Powers That Be have just decided to abandon every telescope in the northern hemisphere that UK scientists used to have access to (see Physics Today, Science):

For astronomers, the discouraging headline is that STFC will withdraw U.K. support from a number of international projects in 2012, including the Gemini Telescopes, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, the Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory, and the U.K. Infra-red Telescope. After that date, U.K. astronomers will no longer have access to a major observatory in the northern hemisphere.

Presumably they have run out of 54-year-olds to give early retirement to.

Funny how when the bankers (collective noun: wunch) throw billions down a black hole, they are immediately bailed out despite supposedly being in the private sector, but when some bureaucrats at the head of a research council mislay a few million, the result is the closure of whole fields of science. As good old Flash Gordon said, "the downturn is no time to slow down our investment in science but to build more vigorously for the future." Err...hang on...

Oh well, I suppose digital cameras are pretty good these days, the scientists can just get long lenses. Nuclear physics and satellite missions are also slashed though, and may be harder to replace with off-the-shelf consumer goods. STFC is forthwith to be known as the "Shut The Facilities Council".

Thursday, January 21, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/20/2010 05:28:00 PM

Inspire the Next, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

In order get in the wimminly frame of mind for the upcoming wimmin's conference, here is our latest effort to support the J-economy; a new washing machine. Some on the internets complain that the Japanese put many complicated and unnecessary functions into cameras. I think it is a valid criticism but applies to everything, not just cameras. It is quite odd, and perhaps displays a disconnect between companies and consumers - the companies seem to incorporate stuff, just because they can. Hence - I love my Mac. I just need to work out how to get a boot prompt, and then I can see how fast it will run MIROC. Perhaps I could hack the local wifi networks and create a Beowulf Cluster of washing machines? Gosh - it's such fun doing wimminly stuff!

["inspire the next" is Hitachi's motto in Japan]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/20/2010 05:28:00 PM

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A trick to hide the decline... the JAMSTEC budget. It is amusing to see how blatantly these things are done. The scenario is, we get some money direct from the Ministry (presumably intended for "strategic" work or something along those lines) and other funding which although it comes from the same ministry, is more explicitly contract-based for a time-limited project with vaguely defined outputs. The former budget is supposed to be going down by around 6%, but the contract end of things is pretty well flush with money. So, the cunning plan is that people are being redesignated as working on the contract rather than the core funding. They aren't actually changing their work, the different areas are not well enough defined to distinguish them anyway, and there is no way of measuring whether one part is producing less than it should be...

Actually, there is another trick being implemented as well, in that money that JAMSTEC used to pass on from the Ministry to another linked organisation is no longer going through our books - the money will still end up in the same place, but it is no longer part of JAMSTEC's budget, therefore the budget has gone down. This hardly even qualifies for the phrase "smoke and mirrors" because no-one who looks at the overall flow of money can be unaware of what is going on.

Mind you, NERC did much the same - or worse - when we were back in the UK. The standard practice there when money had to be saved was to find some oldish senior scientist, offer him a cushy early retirement deal with a topped up pension, so instead of taking (say) 40k UKP salary, he would go and play golf on 20k UKP. Then the lab would employ a junior scientist on 20k to do the same job, only probably not as well because they were junior and inexperienced. Net saving.....well here is the trick. The government is still paying out just as much, and the quality of work has probably dropped...but pension comes out of a different budget, so the lab has saved 20k. This system falls apart a few years later when (a) there are no 54-year olds left (the age at which early retirement becomes particularly attractive) and (b) the lab stops producing anything useful because all the decent people with any experience are long gone. As has the Chief Executive and Lab Director, of course, so what do they care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/19/2010 12:11:00 AM

Fuji-san from Kamakura, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

More winter views. The hill in the distance is quite famous, and like the Izu Hanto, is invisible in summer. I am heading to the Izu Hanto on Thursday since I am again helping to organise The Wimmin's Conference , so I am indeed glad it is currently in a visible phase.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/19/2010 12:11:00 AM

Monday, January 18, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/17/2010 07:46:00 PM

sunset on Kamakura beach, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Japan is very dry in winter, which makes the air much clearer than in summer. Those hills, on the Izu peninsula, behind which the sun is about to set, are invisible for much of the year.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/17/2010 07:46:00 PM

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reliability of the IPCC AR4 (CMIP3) ensemble

So, our paper has now been now been accepted, and should be published in a week or two [update: here]. We think it poses a strong challenge to the "consensus" that has emerged in recent years.

If you are thinking this sounds like deja vu all over again, you'd be right. But the subject is a little different this time. Rather than estimates of climate sensitivity, this time we are talking about the interpretation of the "ensemble of opportunity" provided by the IPCC AR4 (formally CMIP3, but here I will use the popular name). Those who have been closely following this somewhat esoteric subject may have seen numerous assertions that the ensemble is likely biased, too narrow, doesn't cover an appropriate range of uncertainty etc etc. Thus, we should all be worried that there is a large probability that climate change may be even worse than the models imply.

Fortunately, it's all based on some analysis methods that are fundamentally flawed.

Although we'd been vaguely aware of this field for some time, the story really starts a couple of years ago at a workshop, when my attention was piqued by a slide which has subsequently been written up as part of a multi-author review paper and forms the motivation for Figure 1 in our paper. The slide presented an analysis of the multi-model ensemble, the main claim being that the multi-model ensemble mean did not converge sufficiently rapidly to the truth, as more models were added to it. Thus, the argument went, the models are not independent, their mean is biased, and we need to take some steps to correct for these problems when we try to interpret the ensemble.

The basic paradigm under which much of the ensemble analysis work in recent years has operated is based on the following superficially appealing logic: (1) all model builders are trying to simulate reality, (2) a priori, we don't know if their errors are positive or negative (with respect to any observables), (3) if we assume that the modellers are "independent", then the models should be scattered around in space with the truth lying at the ensemble mean. Like so:
where the truth is the red star and the models are the green dots.

However, this paradigm is completely implausible for a number of reasons. First, since we don't know the truth (in the widest sense) we have no possible way of generating models that scatter evenly about it. Second, this paradigm leads to absurd conclusions like a 90% "very likely" confidence interval for climate sensitivity of 2.7C - 3.4C, based on the sensitivities reported by the AR4 models (this comes from a simple combinatorial argument based on the number of models you expect to be higher and lower than the truth, if they lie independently and equiprobably on either side). Third, it implies that all we would need to do to get essentially perfect predictions is to build enough models and take the average, without any new theoretical insights or observations regarding the climate system.

Lastly, it is robustly refuted by simple analyses of the ensemble itself, as observations (of anything) are routinely found to lie some way from the ensemble mean. As has been demonstrated in several papers including the multi-author review paper mentioned above.

So you might think this paradigm should have been still-born and never caught on. However, people have persevered with it over a number of years, trying to fix it with various additional "bias" terms or ensemble inflation methods, and generally worrying that the ensemble isn't as good as they had hoped.

So along we came to have a look. Actually, although this issue had been sitting uneasily at the back of my mind for some time, we were finally prompted into looking into it properly earlier this year when Jules was asked to write something else concerning model evaluation.

It didn't take long to work out what was going on. As explained above, the truth-centred paradigm is theoretically implausible and observationally refuted. However, there is a much more widely-used (indeed all-but ubiquitous) way of interpreting ensembles, in which the ensemble members are assumed to be exchangeable with the truth, or statistically indistinguishable from it. So in contrast to the picture above, we might expect to see something like this:

Here the red isolines describe the distribution defined by the models. Note that the truth (red star) is not at the ensemble mean, but just some "typical" place in the ensemble range.

In contrast to the truth-centred paradigm, it is easy to understand how such an ensemble might arise - all we need to do is make a range of decisions when building models, that reflect our honestly-held (but uncertain) beliefs about how the climate system operates. So long as our uncertainty is commensurate with the actual errors of our models, there is no particular need to assume that our beliefs are unbiased in their mean, and indeed they will not be.

I can't emphasise too strongly that this is the basic paradigm under which pretty well all ensemble methods have always operated, apart from one small little corner of climate science. It underpins the standard probabilistic interpretation, that if a proportion p% of the ensemble has property X, we say the probability of X is p%. A corollary is that if we apply this interpretation to the climate sensitivity estimates, we find a "very likely" confidence interval of 2.1C - 4.4C. Now I'm sure some would argue that this interval is too narrow, but I would say it is pretty reasonable, though this is somewhat fortuitous as with such a small sample the endpoints are determined entirely by the outliers. The implied 70% confidence interval of 2.3C - 4.3C is more robust, and would be hard to criticise. What is certainly clear is that these ranges are not completely horrible in the way that the one provided by the truth-centred interpretation was.

With this statistically interchangeable paradigm being central to all sorts of ensemble methods, notably including numerical weather prediction, it is no surprise that there is a veritable cornucopia of analysis tools already available to investigate and validate such ensembles. The most basic property that most people are interested in is "reliability", which means that an event occurs on p% of the occasions that it has been predicted to occur with probability p%. This is the meaning of "reliability" used in the subject line of this post and title of our paper. A standard test of reliability is that the rank histogram of the observations in the ensemble is uniform. So this is what we tested, using basically the same observations that others had used to show that the ensemble was inadequate.

And what we found is....

...the rank histograms (of surface temperature, precipitation and sea level pressure from top to bottom) aren't quite uniform, but they are pretty good. The non-uniformity is statistically significant (click on the pic for bigger, and the numbers are explained in the paper), but the magnitude of the errors in mean and bias are actually rather small. What's more, the ensemble spread is if anything too broad (as indicated by the domed histograms), rather than too narrow as has been frequently argued.

So our conclusion is that all this worry about the spread of the ensemble being too small is actually a mirage caused by a misinterpretation of how ensembles normally behave. Of course, we haven't actually shown that the future predictions are good, merely that the available evidence gives us no particular cause for concern. Quite the converse, in fact - the models sample a wide range of physical behaviours and the truth is, as far as we can tell, towards the centre of their spread. This supports the simple "one member one vote" analysis as a pretty reasonable starting point, but also allows for further developments such as skill-based weighting.

This paper seems particularly timely with the IPCC having a "Expert Meeting on Assessing and Combining Multi-Model Climate Projections" in a couple of weeks. In fact it was partly hearing about that meeting that prompted us to finish off the paper quickly last November, although we had, as I mentioned, been thinking about it for some time before then. I should give due praise to GRL, since I've grumbled about them in the past. This time, the paper raced through the system taking about 3 weeks from submission to acceptance - it might have been even quicker but the GRL web-site was borked for part of that. It is nice when things happen according to theory :-) Not forgetting the helpful part played by the reviewers too, who made some minor suggestions and were very enthusiastic overall.

Unfortunately, hoi polloi like Jules and myself are not allowed to appear in such rarefied company as the IPCC Expert Meeting - I did ask, with the backing of the Japanese Support Unit for the IPCC, but was refused. So we will just have to wait with bated breath to see what, if anything, the "IPCC Experts" make of it. While the list of invitees is very worthy, is disappointing to see that so many of them are members of the same old cliques, with no fewer than 4 participants from the Hadley Centre, and three each from NCAR, CSIRO and PCMDI, and vast numbers of multiply co-authored papers linking many of the attendees together. Those 4 institutes alone provide almost a quarter of the scientists invited. Coincidentally (or not), staff from these institutes also filled 5 of the 7 places on the organising committee... Shame they couldn't find space for even one person from Japan's premier climate science institute.

[jules' pics] 1/14/2010 05:12:00 PM

Ikea Japan, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Adult sized furniture arrived in Japan a few years ago, but by then we already had a full house, so we never visited until recently. It is, however, rumoured that the cleverest Annan (J's Ma) and her consort may visit in the spring, and I am virtually certain they will need somewhere to sit. Which sofa do you think she would prefer?

Ikea is shockingly last century. Not only are the same models of flat-pack being sold that we hurriedly bought just before we came to Japan, but you have to go to the darn shop to purchase. The big flat-pack storage area was, however, spacious and magnificent. If St.Arbucks are the chapels of mammon, Ikea are the cathedrals.

In one aspect the Japanese sect of Ikea is more liberal than that in the UK, where all must partake in the ritual of the car-worshipping traffic jam before and after the main service; in Japan there is a free shuttle bus from the nearest station.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/14/2010 05:12:00 PM

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Year of the Hello Kitty

Japan uses the Chinese zodiac, though morphs it to fit the Western calendar. So every Jan 1, there is a new animal painted on the bits of wood that people pay ¥500 for, write their wishes on and hang in the shrine.

Apparently 2010 is Year of the Hello Kitty:

This abomination is glorified in blogs all around the world, so you can just click that link if you want to see any more.

It somehow seems fitting that only a handful of people participated in the Coming of Age Day ceremony at the the main shrine in Kamakura, Hachimangu (pic passim), but over a thousand went to Disneyland to celebrate with Mickey and Donald:
‘‘It’s great that Mickey Mouse helped celebrate the memorial day.’‘
Yes, how appropriate to celebrate becoming a legal adult by pretending you are stuck at 10.

Japan's 2010 Science Budget

Surprise surprise, the Japanese science budget is nowhere near as severely cut as several rather breathless articles had anticipated. According to Science:
"the overall total has probably not decreased," says Koichi Kitazawa, president of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, which administers government grants.
But there are of course winners and losers. We (JAMSTEC) seem set to lose 6%, but they were already planning for a 3% drop, so although this may be difficult for some, it's unlikely to be a devastating blow to the organisation. Note that this news relates to the direct Govt support, the 10% increase I mentioned before is for a much smaller (but still rather substantial) soft money project. (We just heard that another big soft money project is flat for the coming year.) What they take with one hand they will probably manage to give back with another anyway:
Increased support for emerging fields should compensate for areas being cut, says Kitazawa. Gaining ground, for example, are green technology programs; money for initiatives under the education ministry will nearly triple this year to $107 million.
Some of the other major science projects that had been in the news will also face some modest cuts (eg the supercomputer), but that probably just means they will have a little less spare money to waste on end-of-year nonsense.
It also seems that the style of the new Govt is still causing some problems...
With the new party bypassing the bureaucrats, Taira says scientists need to find new ways to influence policy. "Exactly how we're going to do that, we don't know yet," he says.
Scary to think that politicians are actually starting to make decisions...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/11/2010 05:34:00 PM

Yesterday was totty day at Hachimangu. It was especially busy this year. Perhaps a couple of photo-clubs had made the pilgrimage. That would explain the groups of same age, same style, same camera people standing in the same place taking the same picture. The youths who were not attending the official ceremony seemed to be having all the fun. One kimono-girl even got her boyfriend to photograph her with James. Ah - the allure of the tall fairish "western" man...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/11/2010 05:34:00 PM

Monday, January 11, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/11/2010 01:44:00 AM

Hidden in the back streets of Kamakura, the answer to all the world's problems, "If the graphics get better people's life-style will change and the earth will be a cleaner planet". Those silly climate change bloggers better hang up their keyboards and take up painting.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/11/2010 01:44:00 AM

Open the review process

So the Lindzen and Choi stuff has been effectively trashed (1, 2, 3), and the part GRL has played in the process is not a glorious one.

I'm relieved to see at least that GRL is now starting to be more honest about its attitude towards comments. As you may recall, I've had my problems with them in the past, and I'm glad to see I'm not alone. Perhaps it would be for the best if they bit the bullet and completely abolished comments and replies, which would at least restore some honesty to their behaviour (since in practice they have already abandoned their published policy). However, I don't really like the apparent drift towards comment-in-all-but-name papers which basically focus on errors in a specific previous paper, but which do not give the original authors any opportunity to defend their work against the specific claims. Thus, the disinterested reader may find it hard to judge where the truth lies. There is a hint of this in this Lindzen case, since he has claimed to Andy Revkin that he has a new analysis which sustains his original case (seems unlikely to me in this case, but I mean in general).

A third way could be illustrated by the EGU's approach (eg see here for CP). A major failing in the publication of LC, and probably many similar papers, is the wholly inadequate nature of the peer review they received. Errors cannot be completely eliminated, but I am confident some of the more obvious attempts to game the system would be weeded out - in fact I think most would be dissuaded from even submitting such work, though genuine disagreements can be (and sometimes are) openly aired. Which is, I think, probably useful for the participants, and sometimes amusing for the rest of us :-)

Perhaps the saddest aspect of this story is seeing some apparently talented post-doc try to flush his career down the toilet. Lindzen is a lost cause, Choi is (presumably) not, at least not yet. But if he keeps on putting out shoddy and obviously wrong work, his future may get markedly less bright.

As for the paper itself, it seems hard to defend it as merely honestly mistaken, given the errors identified. However, I haven't seen LC's defence...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/09/2010 02:30:00 AM

Northern Pintail duck, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

More duck.

Yes, despite several meals of Duck Fried X, there is still more than a pint of fat remaining from the one we cooked.

[Hachimangu pond]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/09/2010 02:30:00 AM

Friday, January 08, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/07/2010 09:25:00 PM

Black Headed Gull, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Time for some more ducks. But no, it is a gull pretending to be a duck! I wonder if it would be delicious.

jules' pics at 1/07/2010 09:25:00 PM

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Debt-laden Japan completely unperturbed by UKP630bn spree

Of course the Times headline tried to hype it rather more than that, but no-one here took any notice :-) The Japan Times talked about "long-simmering worries" but there are still worries about ongoing recession, so the spend-first, worry-late approach may be justified. Anyway, the Japanese economy has been running on funny money for decades, and despite all the sound and fury, I for one don't expect the new govt to be very different from the old one in fundamentals - there may be shifts in spending priorities, but not in the basic philosophy of dirigisme. Indeed I suspect that most Japanese will not even have considered the possibility that there might be an alternative.

In these straitened times, our budgetary worries continue. A project I am involved in just had its annual review, and on the basis of a mediocre middling ranking (someone described it as a B+) next year's budget has been......increased by a substantial 10%. There is some ongoing restraint on salaries, so we won't actually get paid more, but will have to splash out the excess on electronics and travel, which is presumably the point of the bonus.

Of course we had to provide detailed budget plans to the Ministry some time ago, so will now have to provide new plans, along with an apology for getting it so badly wrong first time :-)

[jules' pics] 1/06/2010 10:04:00 PM

Japanese New Year is more about sunrise than midnight. This pic was actually taken on the2nd Jan, but that's accurate enough for this astrophysicist who's just happy her CCD was measuring light from the intended star.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/06/2010 10:04:00 PM

We have contact!

Since Hank asked, and I've not seen anyone else doing it, here's some translation of what I can make out from the Japanese video (starting about 23s in)

"hai, tadaima sesshoku"
"We have contact"
"AG-go o honsen no mae tskukimashite, AG-go sesshoku shimashita"
"The AG appeared in front of us, we made contact"
"AG-go o honsen no mae detekimashita, AG-go sesshoku shimashita"
"The AG came out in front of us, we made contact"
[something a bit unclear, maybe "honsen o butsuk-" = "They hit our ship", cut off part way through when he realised how silly that is]
"Koukou o jama shimashite, AG-go sesshoku shimashita"
"There was an intrusion into our path, we hit the AG."

I think. My Japanese is pretty awful though so you have been warned!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Well it looked like a whale...

...sleek and black and with fin-like things...

So it's excusable really that the Japanese whalers should have rammed the Ady Gil, knocking a chunk off its bow.

That picture is a screenshot from the video which can be found here. I won't speculate on the boating laws that might apply in this case, but it is not clear to me that the Ady Gil was actually stationary (as Sea Shepherd have claimed). It was basically idling at the start of the clip, but seems to start generating a significant wake a few seconds before the impact. Hopefully there will be enough hot air generated over this to end the current cold spell.

Having seen a couple more videos, it is pretty clear that the Japanese boat turned sharply towards the Ady Gil and rammed it at high speed. See the boat spinning round at the start of this video

also confirmed by the changing angle in the first few seconds of this:

EGU Elections: Candidates for 2011-2013

I knew I hadn't been paying attention, but I have a bit of an excuse for my confusion. It turns out that there are actually two sets of elections concurrently, with the EGU also choosing their new President and General Secretary. Unfortunately in this case the candidates and their statements (but not their supporting CVs) are hidden behind my personal ballot paper key for the vote, so you'll have to take my word for it that there are only 2 candidates for Prez: Donald Bruce Dingwell (cv) and Fausto Guzzetti (cv), and just one for Gen Sec, Hans Thybo (cv).

To be honest I'm not sure that any of them are mad enough to do justice to the position, but one of them does look quite well suited. The election closes on the 10th Jan.

[jules' pics] 1/05/2010 08:32:00 PM

gingerbread latte, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

When Sutaba (Starbucks) opens on the morning of 26th December no more can joyous Christmas music be heard, and the trio of stupid yet delightful coffees (Gingerbread, Cherry Mocha, Caramel Eclair) are replaced with three austere teas.

The reason is that New Year is "holy", and to be taken seriously, while Christmas is just a bit of fun.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/05/2010 08:32:00 PM

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Shocking levels of racism in Japanese hotels

From Debito, here is an utterly jaw-dropping level of officially-sanctioned racism.

The Fukushima prefectural tourist information website list of hotels has an explicit categorisation according to whether foreigners are permitted or not. And 318 of the hotels say "no gaijin" or "外国人の受入:不可"! This is about 15% of all lodgings. Another 15% allow foreigners, and the majority don't say one way or the other.

This discrimination is actually illegal, despite Japan (uniquely in the "developed" world, though in the context of human rights it is not clear that the term should apply here anyway) having no laws against racial discrimination. As Debito mentions in the post, there are some laws concerning hotel management that strictly limit the ability of a hotel to turn away customers - and these reasons do not include their nationality or race.

What's worse, this is more than a year after the Fukushima Tourist Information Agency agreed that the discrimination was clearly illegal and said they would get it removed from the web site. In fact the number of explicitly racist hotels has increased about 10-fold in this time.

Remember that the JGovt has not so long ago stated that it was inconceivable that they could take any more action to reduce racial discrimination. Obviously even enforcing their own laws is beyond their wit and imagination.

[I'm not sure if I have told this story before, but we were once turned away from a hotel in the Fuji Five Lakes area. However this was early enough in our time here, and my Japanese was sufficiently poor, that I cannot be quite sure that the hotel really was refusing us illegally for being foreign. It does seem somewhat implausible, however, that the hotel was really closed for business since it had an open front door and someone on reception. At the time we were a bit tired and wet and went next door rather than trying to argue the point.]

AGU Elections: Candidates for 2010–2012

Does anyone have anything good or bad to say about the candidates? I'm tempted to abstain on the basis that I know nothing about most of them (and very little about any). But if there is some reason to prefer someone over another, I'm all ears. In my (still very limited, but not so limited as with the AGU) experience of EGU officers they are mostly as mad as a box of frogs, in the nicest possible way. There does seem to be a tendency for some geologists, and solar/upper-atmosphere people, to lean towards the denialist angle on climate change. However I wouldn't want to prejudge anyone unfairly merely due to their field.

[jules' pics] 1/04/2010 07:46:00 PM

Descent from Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Another photo from the Tonotake trip, taken as the sun was going down on 2009.

The blog fashion seems to be to make a post containing multiple links to favourites from the year, but all you need to do is click once to see my 12 favourite pics of 2009.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/04/2010 07:46:00 PM

Monday, January 04, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/03/2010 08:09:00 PM

Yokohama from Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

We have climbed Tonotake several times before but, due to snow, cloud and rain, were never before aware of the view from the top: a panorama of pretty much the whole Kanto Plain. This photo shows a small part of the view. The tall building in the group roughly in the middle is Japan's tallest building, the Landmark Tower. Out of the shot, Tokyo lies to the left and the Shonan coast to the right. Kamakura would also be to the right, but was not visible due to its own protective ring of hills. To see more detail click on the pic, and look at the larger sizes of the shot on flickr. I might be just not very good and taking pictures but I think the brain is much cleverer than the camera for views like this, comprehending a much wider field of view, removing the haze, and making sense of tiny details.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/03/2010 08:09:00 PM

Sunday, January 03, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/03/2010 12:13:00 AM

On the way up Tonotake, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

On New Year's Eve we climbed a little mountain (Tonotake ~1500m). This is the view of another hill, from a rest stop along the way.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/03/2010 12:13:00 AM

Posts of the year

Seems like the meme du jour is to not bother blogging anything new but just to repost something the readers have already seen. So without further ado, I make no claim to these being the "best", but they are probably the ones I most enjoyed writing. My list goes up to 13 of course. Hope you enjoy reading them as you pretend to get back to work on Monday morning :-)

Corbynwatch 2008: The Verdict. I see there a brief reference to a 2009 forecast, and the provisional figures suggest that Corbyn got that wrong too - it looks likely to be the 5th warmest year on record.

Hansen's El Nino forecast reprised. Hansen gets it right, Pielke gets it wrong. Same old same old.

Out of court settlement in Pinder v Fox? After a long struggle, Russ gets his just desserts (perhaps).

Reduced sickness in commuter cyclists. On your bike, cagers.

Ignobel research on disease transmission. Japanese schoolchildren weaponise the swine 'flu.

Shorter UK Climate Projections. Does what it says on the tin.

Spend for the planet! Japanomics at its best.

More on that ENSO nonsense. This story has some way still to run...

Uniform prior: dead at last! Better late than never.

Bankers "have learned lessons". The bonkers bail-out. What a wunch they are...

Successful writer/call girl/blogger a scientist.

UKMO agrees with me. Looks like they might get a long-term prediction right at last :-)

The last word.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

[jules' pics] 1/02/2010 02:12:00 AM

New Year Hachimangu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

At New Year the centre of Kamakura is shut off to cars (but not cyclists, yay!) for 3 days, as every one visits for some Happy New Year's queueing.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 1/02/2010 02:12:00 AM

Friday, January 01, 2010

[jules' pics] 12/31/2009 10:07:00 PM

Radicalised Buddhism? You'll remember than in September I remarked that there seemed to be a surprisingly large number of the gigantic and potentially deadly Japanese hornets in Kamakura this year.

On Christmas morning we found out why, when we spotted this (probably about 3 foot high? scale) nest tucked under the eaves at Zuisenji (about 1 minute at full speed buzz from our house). I am amazed and somewhat horrified by the Zenwise fortitude that leads the monks to leaves it up there over the winter.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/31/2009 10:07:00 PM