Wednesday, December 30, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/29/2009 10:40:00 PM

Crab, Enoshima Aquarium, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Oishi sou?

Close encounters with gejigeji are an effective cure to the traditional British fear of teensy weensy spiders, but still there remains something unappealing about humungous spider crabs.

For my birthday, Pa gave me a flash gun, which enabled me to shoot this scary monster good and proper.

[Enoshima aquarium]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/29/2009 10:40:00 PM

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/28/2009 05:50:00 PM

Whale, Enoshima Aquarium, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

"Oishi sou!!!"

Actually, the show is great. It involves truly multi-talented girls and some remarkable sea mammals who do lots of clever things including leaping out of the water in time to the music.

[Enoshima Aquarium]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/28/2009 05:50:00 PM

Monday, December 28, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/27/2009 08:07:00 PM

Enoshima Aquarium, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Actually for my 40th birthday I got a visit to Enoshima Aquarium and a dip in the black waters of Inamuragasaki Onsen.

Very funny being at a Japanese aquarium. As I stood in horror, eyeball to tentacle with some monstrous sea creature, little tots would run up to the tanks excitedly squealing "oishi sou oishi sou oishi sou", which means "it looks delicious", which is even more frightening when you consider that how it looks is at least 75% of the appreciation of food to the Japanese. In fact sometimes looks are so important that you don't really need to eat the food at all, an attitude that would clearly be a good solution to the obesity problems of the western world.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/27/2009 08:07:00 PM

Saturday, December 26, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/25/2009 05:36:00 PM

roast duck, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Happy Christmas!

The duck was delicious, thanks to James' Google-based cooking expertise.

Question is what to do with the pint of fat that came out.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/25/2009 05:36:00 PM

Thursday, December 24, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/23/2009 11:06:00 PM

mallard, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.


[Hachimangu, Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/23/2009 11:06:00 PM

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/23/2009 03:09:00 AM

Northern Pintail, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Today I shot a duck. What are you having for Christmas dinner?

[Hachimangu pond, Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/23/2009 03:09:00 AM

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/21/2009 08:42:00 PM

Japanese Hawaiian Burger, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

year-end cleanup pic 4:
While some assumed poor James enjoys raw prawn and sea urchin gonads, this is closer to the truth, and would have been blogged earlier if not for the camera shake.

[Kua'aina, Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/21/2009 08:42:00 PM

Monday, December 21, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/20/2009 10:59:00 PM

a bee, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

year-end cleanup pic 3:
In a similar way to how computer programs wont work unless you copy the magic from someone else's code, a macro lens will not work correctly unless initialised with a pollen covered bee. This was that shot.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/20/2009 10:59:00 PM

Sunday, December 20, 2009


As Churchill might have said: "This is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. It is not even the beginning of the beginning."

[thanks to JKH]

[jules' pics] 12/19/2009 04:11:00 PM

year-end cleanup pic 2:
The foreigners cemetery is a historical landmark in Yokohama, while the building in the background is the Landmark Tower. Completed for the end of the last millennium, it is still the tallest building in Japan

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/19/2009 04:11:00 PM

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's the end of the world as we know it

Couldn't help but laugh at this from the Grauniad, complete with caption:

And with this much snow they can't even run trains in tunnels!

Friday, December 18, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/17/2009 11:24:00 PM

lotus leaves, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

In Western Britain, where I grew up, it is very very dark in winter, but in springtime some weak sunlight occasionally escapes round the edge of the cloud, enabling people to see how dusty everything has become over the winter. Thus, "spring cleaning". Here, in Eastern Japan, it is the other way round. The driest, brightest, clearest time of year is late December. So I suppose this must be the real reason why the Japanese do their big cleaning at the end of the year.

In order to try to fit in with the tradition, I am cleaning my flickr photostream, and so have decided to blog some of the pictures I like, but failed to blog when they were taken.

[year-end cleanup pic 1: wet lotus leaves at Engakuji, Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/17/2009 11:24:00 PM

Thursday, December 17, 2009

That supercomputer budget cut, in full, in brief

As I predicted not so long ago, the proposed mothballing of the Japanese petaflop computer has been reversed.

I suppose the initial proposals, outrageous as they were, could be viewed as a sort of kite-flying exercise in order to make the final cut seem relatively moderate. It's still a hefty 15% though, although Japanese budgetary techniques seem to always find money from somewhere when it is really needed. I think it's a safe bet that our sister institute IFREE will not suffer a cut anywhere the originally proposed 50%, which as has been noted, would pretty much destroy it as a viable lab as well as damaging Japan's credibility as an international collaborator.

Meanwhile we've been asked by our bosses to boost our budget requests to the maximum extent possible, presumably so that after any overall cut, we'll still have as much as we really needed in the first place.

[jules' pics] 12/16/2009 07:28:00 PM

For my fortieth birthday I'd like a garden and a cat. Is that why this picture appeals? (OK so the pedants will be unable to spot the cats, but there were plenty around).

Some chance...

This may look common-or-garden to many of you, but actually this exotic and historical house in Yokohama is so exotic and historical that it's a museum!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/16/2009 07:28:00 PM

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/15/2009 10:20:00 PM

Extreme window cleaning, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Our windows got cleaned. This job looks like such fun. The colleague I was with when I took the picture seemed to think it is dangerous employment. I suspect the most dangerous part is having to breathe neat Shin-Sugita air.

[taken by iphone]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/15/2009 10:20:00 PM

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inflation soars to 1.9% on rising fuel prices

No particular point to this post other than to observe that it's a funny old world where we get to see the headline "Inflation soars to 1.9%". That's the UK's Consumer Price Index. The Retail Price Index is a whopping 0.3%.

Japan is back in deflation, but no-one seems to care much, because our economy doesn't work along conventional lines anyway.

[jules' pics] 12/14/2009 07:42:00 PM

Nine lessons and carols comes early in the Yokohama foreign community, because they all flee the country in mid-December. As usual James and I did our best for the worst choir in Christendom. As you would expect, he always sings both in time and in tune. I added some volume to the altos and bore the enormous responsibility of being lectern monitor, which was very exciting, since it meant I got to play with electronics (the mircophone).

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/14/2009 07:42:00 PM

Monday, December 14, 2009

Geniuses, Fanatics and Comedians only!

Turns out Japan isn't as open for foreigners as even I had thought. I took part in a careers fair last month. There I heard the international outreach chap from a supposedly internationally-minded university proudly proclaim that 4% of its staff are foreigners, 50% of whom are language teachers (so have no job security), and the other 50% are "permanent", where those who can't pass the standard written exam (in Japanese) are still called permanent but are actually on short-term contracts. Wow... (BTW "short term" in Japan means your contract may be terminated at the end of each year for no reason).

The fair had presentations from 5 people who had been sort of successful in Japan. Two had survived in Japanese companies and were clearly exceptional individuals, having reached full proficiency in Japanese in a single year as well as excelling at their jobs. What about mere mortals? The three researchers were slightly less remarkable individuals. One guy had risen to the heady heights of a boss at RIKEN, a place like JAMSTEC, running a group that was at least 50% foreign. Well done him. Another was a recently employed Assistant Professor who had landed his job after a postdoc in Japan, after some superhumanly persistent networking. The other one was ... me! Here's my talk. Preparing for this event I thought I'd worked out how we have survived in Japan: there are two of us which enables survival in a pincer movement kind of a way. But while giving the talk I discovered the real reason we are still here. As I spoke, the Europeans laughed politely in a kind of "Ah, British humour - must adjust brain to understand - 'ha ha ha'" way, while the Japanese in the front row were doubled-up guffawing into their face-masks and, despite all the odd things I'd said, greeted me afterwards with happy smiles and teasing comments.

General Douglas MacArthur may have called the Japanese a nation of 12 year olds, but I suspect he never managed to make any of them laugh.

[jules' pics] 12/13/2009 10:00:00 PM

Do buildings look like this in your country too?

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/13/2009 10:00:00 PM

Sunday, December 13, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/13/2009 05:45:00 AM

...and here is the mall referred to yesterday, "Lalaport", at Kashiwa no ha Campus, all dressed up for winterval. It is a slight improvement over a few years ago, in that an edible meal can be obtained there. A few years ago there was nothing at all apart from the station, then a McDonalds appeared, and then the rest followed a year or so later...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/13/2009 05:45:00 AM

Statement from the UK science community

I'm a little surprised to have not seen more mention of this in either the mainstream media or even on blogs:

"We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method.

The science of climate change draws on fundamental research from an increasing number of disciplines, many of which are represented here. As professional scientists, from students to senior professors, we uphold the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which concludes that ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal’ and that ‘Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations’."

What is perhaps most impressive about this is that the signatures were collected in under a week, and the 1700+ signatories (from UK institutes alone) hugely outnumbers the total authorship of the IPCC WG1 report of 619 people (even that figure is dominated by the "contributing authors" such as myself who had no direct input into the writing process).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/12/2009 01:21:00 AM

desolation, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Tokyo university's Center for Climate System Research is located on the Kashiwa campus which is, unfortunately, not the Hongo campus. It is located about thirty minutes north of Tokyo on the "geek express" which is a special train line joining the characterless new-town-for-scientists-only of Tsukuba directly to the Akihabara Yodobashi Camera 10 story electric store. To make you feel extra good on arrival at the campus, the close-by bus stop is at the National Cancer Centre. This jolly start prepares you fittingly for the desolation of the campus itself. The huge concrete office buildings have been built in a infinite row, facing an infinite stretch of barren concrete. Staring across the flat expanse my mind fills in the people, coffee shops, student shops, convenience stores that should be there. But the closest anything is a 10 minute bus ride away, at the newly erected generic mall, "LalaPort" located next to the only slightly less new railway station, fittingly called "Kashiwa no ha campus". From there you may as well head straight back to Yodobashi Camera.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/12/2009 01:21:00 AM

Thursday, December 10, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/10/2009 06:25:00 AM

hirayama, ikuo, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Ikuo Hirayama, "the most famous artist in all Japan" (so say our friends), died a few days ago. This is the kanji from the front of his house ("Hira" above "Yama"), just down the road from ours, and right next to the radiant gingko. I expect someone good at words would find a haiku in there somewhere...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/10/2009 06:25:00 AM

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/09/2009 12:30:00 AM

jinrikisha, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Today I did the annual evaluation of the members of JUMP (named so that QUMP group at the UK MetO know we are just copying them smaller and cheaper, and pose no real threat). I am happy to report that the partition of labour within the group is considerably more fair than that shown in this photo.

...Kamakura is hilly, so it can never be an entirely flat ride, but I am not sure all of the jinriksha pullers would agree to go this extra steep uphill to the actual entrance gate to Zuisenji.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/09/2009 12:30:00 AM

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The last word

And I really do mean the last word. You don't need to listen to the first 6:20 or so - it's just the usual predictable blah.

So much for all these naughty scientists saying nasty things about other people behind their backs. BTW, to avoid misunderstandings, "I approve this message"

(Spotted on Pharyngula.)

Moral vacuum

I keep trying to listen to this but can't keep focused. Never before has so much been said by so many to so little purpose. At least, never since the previous Moral Maze :-)

Seriously Michael Buerk got my back up with a silly diatribe at the start, but it's worth persevering past that bit to hear the Greenpeace person embarrass himself. Wolpert was quite good, of course. But I'd pretty much lost the will to live by then.

Quick, you've only got another few days to catch it, so listen now or regret it for ever. Well, it's better than the average climate "debate".

[jules' pics] 12/07/2009 07:50:00 PM

kamakuragu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

While those yellow trees that were sheltered from the typhoon a few weeks ago are looking good, the orange, for which Japan is famous is not up to much this year. Fortunate then that there is still some orange to be found.

Before generalisations arise about men having all the gear and women caring more that their electronics matches their outfit, note the young lady in the background whose SLR peaks from under her jacket.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/07/2009 07:50:00 PM

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Scientists need to be a lot more pro-active with media"

(All together now) Oh, now we don't!

I thought of commenting over there but feel no need to contribute more to Stoat's pot of gold, what with him having given up science to earn a proper salary as a software engineer. But I have to take issue with Steve Bloom's comment. I don't need to get involved at all, and (like most scientists) there are significant disadvantages to doing so. One of them is the shrill accusations of politicising climate science, although since this seems to depend on such a vacuous definition of politicisation that I'm already doing this simply by breathing, perhaps I shouldn't care. But it does make a cheap soundbite for the echo chamber, which is presumably the point.

Of course, that does not mean I won't get involved as and when I can be bothered. In fact I'm more than happy to talk to any journalist who contacts me, this happening so rarely that it is much more of a curiosity than imposition (and so far they have mostly done a pretty fair job). But I don't believe there is any particular obligation on me, moral or otherwise, based on my being a scientist rather than anything else. In fact, unauthorised media contact is a disciplinary offence everywhere I've worked. Admittedly, in my experience this rule is honoured entirely in the breach (except when it suits the management to use it as an excuse to get rid of an uppity scientist, but they have 101 ways to do that anyway so I can't pretend to be put off for that reason). But there is precious little upside to it in any case.

Personally, I'd have been uncomfortable appearing in a press conference with Romm arguing that "it is in fact more clear now than ever before that we must take action to solve the global climate crisis" (I'm assuming that is a real quote, although there is an odd lack of google hits for it). That seems to be as clear an example of an is/ought fallacy as one might hope to see, even though it does not specify exactly what action "must" be taken. It is, however, a safe bet that the action demanded includes a reduction in (net) emissions. OTOH if Romm phoned me up and asked me to join him on a press conf covering the subset of climate science issues I consider myself qualified to speak on, it would be rude to turn him down.

Incidentally, I see that Eduardo Zorita has removed the rather inflammatory statement off his web site, replacing it instead with a link to a new blog shared with Hans von Storch. I welcome their addition to the blogosphere in their own right rather than as occasional "guest" posters elsewhere, and I look forward to more detailed - and perhaps measured - analyses on whatever takes their fancy. I did swap a couple of emails with Zorita regarding his statement, which I considered to be somewhat inflammatory and ill-founded, certainly as far as Rahmstorf is concerned (since whatever spin is put on one or two of the less wise emails, there is no hint of anything underhand from R that I have seen). I don't think legitimate, if heated, scientific disagreements, justify calls for banning participation in major assessments. FWIW R also tried to get some of my work deleted from the last IPCC report, and the reviewers told him to go and mind his own business, or words to that effect :-) So I don't think I can be considered particularly predisposed towards him. IMO the solution to accusations of cliqueyness (which I have myself occasionally flung around) is to have a diverse group of people, rather than banning one or two and ending up with a different clique. Scapegoating one or two, based on, well, not very much really, is a dangerous path to take.

Fourteen days to hype to the max

Oh good grief. Am I going to have to stop reading/listening to the news for a fortnight?

'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation' | Comment is free | The Guardian

[jules' pics] 12/06/2009 06:57:00 PM

sidney, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.


Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/06/2009 06:57:00 PM

Sunday, December 06, 2009

[jules' pics] leafcatcher

James' leaf catching addiction, in full technicolour.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/06/2009 02:33:00 AM

Friday, December 04, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/03/2009 08:56:00 PM

ginkgo leaves, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

I suppose this is why in some parts of the world this season is called "fall". Where I come from, it is autumn: the leaves are brown, the sky is gray, then the next day after the storm there is a slippery brown mush on the ground.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/03/2009 08:56:00 PM

Breaking news: CRU enquiry announced

From Paul Hudson's blog - Breaking news: CRU enquiry announced.

Going to be headed by Sir Muir Russell KCB FRSE who I've not heard of. No doubt google will tell you all you need to know about him.

But on Hudsongate, it seems that the plot is thickening. There are now credible claims (well, assuming the Times is credible) that the hack really does date back to about the time that Hudson says he first received some of the emails. While he claims to have been variously "copied in" or had them "forwarded", there is no sign of either occurring in the released database. I hope someone with authority will ask him to explain exactly where he got the emails from, and check whether it was definitely one of the participants. Of course if they did come from a hacker it would have been incredibly stupid of him to pretend otherwise in his public statements, so I don't really think this can have happened - but the timing is curious.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/03/2009 12:35:00 AM

Those are gourds, and round about are aging strings of tiny origami cranes (its a bit of a scruffy shrine really), and there at the back in the darkness, are people actually laundering their money.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/03/2009 12:35:00 AM

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

[jules' pics] 12/01/2009 10:12:00 PM

Zeniarai Benten is Kamakura's money laundering shrine. It is best to allow it to dry out before using though. As James once found out to his cost after a particularly wet mountain expedition, the ticket machines at the railway stations don't like wet money.

And then I found this.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 12/01/2009 10:12:00 PM

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hot air (capture)

There's bit of correspondence in Nature Geoscience about air capture, specifically some promotion from RPJr which seems to think that all our problems will be solved by future cost reductions and better technology, and a letter from Andrew Dessler pointing out that the energy cost provides a stiff barrier irrespective of economics.

RP says:
The primary uncertainties surrounding air capture stem more from the lack of large-scale testing rather than scientific or technical concerns.
Dessler replies:
Thus, using today's technology, it takes at least approx0.5 J of energy to capture the emissions generated in producing 1 J of fossil fuel energy. If the energy for capturing carbon comes from fossil fuels, then at least a third of society's fossil fuel energy would have to be diverted to air capture to eliminate all emissions. Alternatively, it would require an increase in the total production of fossil fuel energy of at least a third.
While I would not be surprised to see an engineer claiming that the reciprocal of 1-1/3 is 1+1/3, I would hope most physicists would sum a few more terms in the Maclaurin series and get to 1+1/2 :-) However, a mathematician (me) might point out that the correct numbers based on the energy estimates above are actually 1-1/2 and its reciprocal, 2 :-) That is, half of total power output would have to be devoted to air capture, or alternatively total power output would have to double to reduce net emissions to zero; 2J of total power, with 1J devoted to sequestration, would leave 1J usable.

Of course, the general point (that energy matters irrespective of the economics) is one that has been made repeatedly on RP's previous blog when he has promoted air capture in the past (eg the comment thread here, also here and here). It's unfortunate that Dessler's letter drawing attention to this point actually understates it by such a wide margin. Of course future advances can be expected to reduce that energy cost, but there is a hard lower limit. I vaguely recall it's something in the region of 10% of the total output energy for coal, meaning 25% of the usable power for a 40% efficient power station. But I could be wrong. It may be in the comments linked above.

Andrew Dessler explains via email that he was assuming that the "extra" power would use standard on-site carbon capture and storage at low energy cost - but it seems to me that this still makes the relevant figure for fossil fuel use to be at least a 50% increase rather than the quoted 33%, and probably 60% or more if we use a realistic assumption about CCS.

UKMO agrees with me

They don't have a great record with their recent annual temperature forecasts, but it's still encouraging to see another set of experts endorsing my prediction, after Jim Hansen did at the start of the year and Gavin Schmidt did more recently.

ENSO continues to grow stronger and the forecasts are getting slightly more confident.

[jules' pics] 11/30/2009 05:57:00 PM

nothing going on, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

In response to Belette, the problem is that sometimes nothing happens. Although, as I later learned over the breakfast table, actually at that very minute something so outrageous that I have been forbidden from blogging it, was in fact occurring on the internets.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/30/2009 05:57:00 PM

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hudsongate: the mystery deepens

OK, it seems that the CRU thing isn't going to go away any time soon, so I might as well fan the flames a little.

Recently some journalists have been getting very excited about BBC journalist Paul Hudson's supposed complicity in all this. When the story first broke, Hudson quickly reported "I was forwarded the chain of e-mails [just the small subset relating to an article he wrote] on the 12th October" - a month before the widespread release. Many people initially attributed this to a careless slip really meaning 12 November, but Hudson confirmed explicitly that he meant October, saying "I was copied in to them at the time".

But....he wasn't. The email addresses of all participants in that sequence of messages are clearly identifiable, and none of them are he.

The obvious conclusion, which may explain why he has been a bit coy about all of this, is that one of the participants forwarded these email to him rather than including him in the conversation. That is, they secretly divulged private email conversations to a journalist. Not that there is anything particularly noteworthy or scandalous in the emails, but if I was talking about someone behind their back, I'd be a little surprised to find a colleague was forwarding my comments directly to them. It seems that at least Hudson is adhering to his journalistic ethics by not revealing his mole. Not so long ago, a prominent climate scientist was sacked for unauthorised contact with the media, so perhaps it's just as well!

[OK, it's theoretically possible that he was openly forwarded the emails with the prior agreement of all participants, but that those messages have not found their way into the released set, but it seems a bit improbable.]

Empirical Study of Data Sharing by Authors Publishing in PLoS Journals

Apropos of nothing in particular :-)

(via Andrew Gelman, in my list of old starred items)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Those Japanese budget cuts, in full, in brief

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth to be heard in Japanese scientific circles recently. News reports were talking of 50% cuts here, 20% there, a complete mothballing of major projects like the new petaflop supercomputer. None of this directly affected us, although cuts all around would probably lead to some loss from our institute as the budgets of different departments seem highly fluid. And though we may make some use of the new computer, it's not central to any of our plans. But still, it was rather shocking news.

But it turns out that it's just hot air. What the Govt did was set up some "Peoples' Panels" to give advice on where to cut the budget. This nakedly populist move is aimed at cutting money to pay for things like promise to remove or reduce the road tolls (so much for their green credentials, but one can hardly expect a politician to put principles above popularity). The panels are made up of non-specialists and public representatives, and their suggestions are not based on any detailed evaluation of value for money but are just arbitrary numbers plucked out of thin air based on their prejudices after a brief meeting.

Faced with the predictable howls of outrage from not only the scientists but also the ministries responsible for funding the research, the deputy PM has already distanced himself from the recommendations and the PM also seems keen to emphasise that the actual decisions will be made by the Govt. So I expect the gravy train of Japanese science has some way to go before it hits the buffers.

It's a shame they've made such a cack-handed effort, as there is massive waste in the Japanese system that could easily be addressed. As a fairly typical example, I was suddenly told to spend $15,000 at short notice a couple of months ago, for fear that we would otherwise have to hand it back and lose face in the process. So I bought some computers and software for colleagues who didn't really need it. There is some sort of cap on salaries, but every year we struggle to waste all the money we are given for equipment and travel. And if larger savings were required there are research groups who basically do nothing for years on end, like the 100-person-year project that has cost tens of millions of dollars and generated about 10 minor publications (and nothing else). Not that the number of papers is a perfect measure of output, but if a whole group isn't writing anything at all, it might as well not exist as far as the rest of the world is concerned. The project leader is influential, however, so there is no chance of anyone asking whether this is a sensible way of spending money...

On related news, jules learnt about the annual performance evaluation system for staff yesterday. Apparently there has been one for years, only no-one bothered to tell us :-)

[jules' pics] 11/26/2009 11:36:00 PM

Japanese snow drop!, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Showing that Jomyoji tea shoppe really does have a British-style garden, the first snow drops I have seen for 8 years.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/26/2009 11:36:00 PM

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And now for something completely different

Sorry, I know you all want more of the "Swifthack" email theft and smear campaign, but you'll have to put up with fat Japanese bellies instead:
An obesity research group is considering revising as early as next year the waistline threshold, a key gauge used to diagnose obesity and metabolic syndrome, to better reflect the nation's actual health
They have apparently realised that 85cm for a man's waist is not really a useful indicator of significant health problems, more likely a sign of a decent dinner.

Some may be surprised that the phrase "considering revising as early as next year" is attached to such an apparently trivial decision. I'm wondering if they will raise the threshold (for that is the direction it will go, if it moves) more rapidly than my waist will increase.


In her comment on my earlier post, Julia Hargreaves (henceforth JCH) makes a number of points regarding the peer review process, illustrating her points with reference to some specific examples.

I am pleased to note that JCH agrees strongly with point 2 in my original article. That is, the current Comment and Reply system is largely broken, due in no small part to the obvious hostility that some journals (at least) exhibit towards them. While one can often make a good case for simply ignoring a poor paper, there are also occasions when a direct rebuttal - or even a public debate to clarify points of reasonable disagreement - is appropriate.

As for her point about choice of reviewers, I remind her that we have both certainly had experiences of having our manuscripts reviewed exclusively by those on our lists of suggestions, the reviewers having waived their anonymity in these cases. Of course, I do try to suggest reviewers who I consider to be independent and authoritative, but the Editor must also be prepared to take some responsibility for ensuring this.

In the case that JCH refers to where a paper I rejected was published anyway, I remind her that the decision to publish was not mine, and reviewers are not infrequently over-ruled. It turns out that in their revised version the authors did address my main criticism, but substantial problems remain in their work. While with hindsight it may have been a mistake for me to decline to re-review the paper, I consider it harsh to blame me for the decision I played no part in making, other than to oppose. I am confident that any number of competent reviewers would have easily identified the problems, in fact two of them have already dismissively cited the paper as an example of an obviously flawed approach.

I realise that the job of the editors is a difficult one, especially in a highly politicised field where not all participants are primarily interested in the truth. It will not be easy to filter out the rubbish without rejecting the genuine science, especially in cases where the latter presents a valid challenge to an existing status quo. I agree it is probably better to accept there will always be some of the former that gets through, than reject too many of the latter. But in this case, and irrespective of blame, the journals have a responsibility to allow corrections to be made.

JCH does not comment on the issue of open review, which I consider to represent a significant improvement over the standard approach. I am in no doubt that many (maybe all) of the obviously flawed papers that the AGU has recently published would have been easily weeded out by such a process (or, to take JCH's generous approach, they would at the very least have had to account openly for the limitations in the methods employed, which would probably have weakened their conclusions to the point of irrelevance).

[jules' pics] 11/25/2009 08:09:00 PM

Jomyoji, one of the top five Zen temples of Kamakura has an English tea shoppe in its grounds. I have avoided it for 8 years, because English tea shoppes in Japan sell cakes that look realistic but taste of salt rather than of sugar. This is so crushingly disappointing that its better to avoid the places altogether. I thought the Zen temple version would be the worst of the worst, but I was wrong. Not only were the cakes actually sweet and the coffee quite acceptable, but the garden was actually very realistic too.

There was even an on-site bakery, which is what the picture is of.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/25/2009 08:09:00 PM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Comment on "Advice to the AGU regarding their journals", by James Annan Esq.

In a recent blog post, James Annan (hereafter JDA) suggested the sending of a rude letter to the AGU, in which he criticises the peer review process currently employed at their journals.

The first point JDA makes is that the AGU editors should not sit down so much and should get some reviewers outside of the list supplied by the author. I believe that JDA has no evidence that this does not already occur. Indeed I have it on good authority that has himself been one of the reviewers of one of these supposedly "rubbish" papers. I find it hard to believe that the authors would have suggested him as a reviewer. Indeed, IIRC, JDA supplied the editor of the aforementioned "rubbish" paper with an incisive and damning review. So what went wrong? As I recall, JDA was subsequently so outraged that the paper was not rejected and that instead it came back with revisions, that he refused to have any more to do with it.

So, where does the blame lie? With the editors?

Many papers are neither right nor wrong - they are simply the scientifically obtained results of experiment - however, so far I have once been in the happy situation of dealing with a paper that I thought was very likely to be wrong. Since it was in an EGU journal, some of the process is out there to be seen. Here it is.. This paper is mostly either right or wrong since it proposes a theory about the way the climate system works.

I have had so many papers stupidly rejected by ignorant reviewers, that I always give authors the right of reply to at least one round of reviews. I also think that if the scientific consensus were the truth then there would be no more science to be done. Mediocre papers fly through peer review, whereas both the brilliant ones and the crap ones struggle. How to discern the difference?

So, despite one negative and two unimpressed reviews I invited the author to attempt a revision. After one revision the EGU process goes underground so the further correspondence is, unfortunately, not available on the web. But basically what happened is that the most critical reviewer refused to participate further! The other reviewers remained kind of unimpressed, but not entirely damning - I felt they could not actually disprove the hypothesis being presented in the paper although they thought it extremely unlikely. Eventually I hit on the idea that the author should outline in full details what would be required for his theory to be true. I quite liked the result, which outlined how three or four things would have to all be at the unlikely end of the current scientific understanding for the theory to have a chance of being right. At that point I felt the paper was scientifically true, even if the proposed hypothesis was unlikely, and that this was properly represented in the manuscript, and so I accepted the paper.

So, yes, I do think it is the fault of the editors that utter "rubbish" gets published. I think far too many editors abdicate their responsibility and base their decision on the number of good or bad votes from the reviewers, rather than actually switching on their brains and considering what the authors need to do in order to make the paper publishable. However, as an editor, I do also wish that reviewers would be prepared to stick with the process until the end rather than storm off in a hissy fit, even if this means they submit increasingly exasperated reviews to the editor - they will still appreciate them.

I would also remind JDA that he has himself said on many occasions that the peer review process is just the start, that it is OK that wrong papers are occasionally published, and that the true science will win in the end. This is, of course, why it is absolutely imperative that point 2 made by JDA is fixed. The initial publication is just the start of the discussion so why are the AGU so frightened of Comments? Especially in the politicised world of Climate science, it is shameful that they go so out of their way to discourage them.

All I can say is vote with your feet.. :-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Advice to the AGU regarding their journals

I intend to write a proper letter (well email) based on the following thoughts. Before I send it, I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

Dear AGU,

Your previously-respected journals are starting to build a reputation for publishing rubbish papers. Here are a few suggestions for how to remedy the situation.

1. Please advise your journal editors to get off their backsides and try to find at least one reviewer outside of the list of suggestions that you insist all authors provide. I'm sure some conscientious editors already do this, but not all. Under the current system all one has to do in order to publish complete crap is nominate a couple of friends who will wave things through the review process.

2. Please fix your Comment and Reply system. You already have a published policy, please ask your editors to adhere to it. Currently, it seems common for editors to impose an additional "pre-review" stage before even starting the process of asking for a Reply. This means that while any old crap can get published in a few weeks on the say-so of a couple of friends (see 1), even in the best case scenario it takes up to a year, and about 6 reviews (including those nominated by the authors of the original work), for anyone to have any chance of pointing out the problems however glaring they are. Comments are generally relatively urgent in nature and are required to be short by your policies, so a time scale rather closer to that of GRL would seem more appropriate. From what I have experienced and heard from others, editors not infrequently decide that they simply can't be bothered with dealing with comments regardless of their content or validity. If you don't want to deal with comments pointing out errors in misleading and shoddy work, you should work harder to prevent the publication of the erroneous work in the first place rather than blocking any criticism!

3. Please let us know which editor is responsible for each paper. There is no reason for this information to be secret, and EGU journals routinely publish it. I'm sure many hard-working and conscientious editors are upset that the reputation of the journals is being tarred by the actions of a few. Being held to account even in this small way may encourage people to be a little more careful.

4. Please consider introducing a meaningful open review system, like the one in place at many EGU journals. I'm aware of your plans to take baby steps in this direction, but it seems that you are trying to make it as ineffective as possible. Rather than creating some half-hearted process, why not just simply copy one that already works pretty well? (If you feel the need to differentiate yourselves from the EGU, an obvious improvement on their process would be to post all the invited reviews together, rather than letting the later reviewers read the earliest ones.) I'm not aware of any obviously crap papers being published in the EGU journals that practice open review, and their reputation and status is rising as rapidly as yours is falling. Although I'm personally a fan of the EGU open publication system, I would much rather see the AGU journals as a credible and authoritative alternative, rather than sinking into oblivion.

[jules' pics] 11/23/2009 05:56:00 PM

cooked prawn, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

This time the focus is on data people, but to all climate modellers, whose arts are equally dark: in order to avoid being boiled alive after all is revealed, make sure you have fully published your climate model at the journal created especially for the purpose of improving transparency in modelling science, GMD.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/23/2009 05:56:00 PM

Monday, November 23, 2009


Having recently been appointed arbitrator by Stoat, I feel obliged to issue at least an interim statement on the CRU email thing. I'm not sure I am ready for a final verdict. Most of you will have had a look at RC already, who have a massive thread on it.

I will start with a disclaimer - I have not read all the emails, and do not intend to. It is hard to miss the irony in people eagerly poring through illegally-obtained private email, looking for ethical breaches by the writers! I'm sure we can all imagine the outrage if one of the emails revealed that a scientist had hacked into one of the sceptics' computers and was reading all their correspondence. So a bit of perspective is called for here.

About 16 of the emails - that's well over 1% of the total - involve me. I don't know Phil Jones personally but am involved in a joint (multi-author) paper. Which incidentally has just been judged acceptable for publication by the Editor, although it is still meandering at its own slow pace though the system. Anyway, since this email is freely available, and someone has even thought it worthy of publishing in a blog comment somewhere, this is what I wrote:

Dear All,

I had a reply from Grant, and have made some changes to the paper - very little of substance, but I've lightly edited the wording throughout. I also added refs to Newell and Weare, and Angell (not A+Korshover), which seem relevant. Despite this, I've managed to cut a few lines off in total. I have also drafted replies to the reviewers (with their comments appended for reference).

We do have a 2 week extension agreed, to 11 Nov. However it doesn't really seem like there is much more that needs doing. More suggestions are welcome, however, and before resubmitting, *I need an explicit OK from each author*.

Riveting stuff, don't you think?

There is more in a similar vein. Seriously, the minutiae of discussions over a few stylistic wording changes to a minor paper is among the top 1% of incriminating emails handled at CRU [um..I meant to say, forms 1% of the bundle of the most incriminating emails], that proves that AGW is a hoax and that we are all conspiring to fabricate evidence and cover it all up. Or something like that.

Most of the contents that have had people getting so excited about on the blogs seem pretty innocuous to me - the usual to-and-fro of scientists discussing, arguing, sometimes exhibiting frustration. We are, after all, human. A handful of messages hint at something a bit worse, and I'm not going to excuse anyone who has behaved in an unethical manner, but it is hard to condemn anyone based on a few cherry-picked emails, many of which in any case have straightforward explanations. If there was a lot of serious malpractice, I'd expect to see more substantial evidence from the past decade of email at one of the world's leading climate research centres. On the whole it is thin gruel indeed. It is clear that most of what people are getting excited by is just the typical banter of scientists engaged in debate and discussion, and many of the commenters just don't have a clue about the scientific process. The person who quoted our email correspondence about the edits to the manuscript claimed that this proved how political all us scientists are! In fact we were simply improving the paper in accordance with various comments from reviewers (which we basically agreed with), which is how the peer review process normally works.

In summary, there are probably some minor lapses in there, but everyone who has read any of the emails is already guilty of something worse and there's no firm evidence of major crimes.

[jules' pics] 11/22/2009 07:34:00 PM

raw prawn, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Don't come the raw prawn with me, and yes that's the ole sea urchin's gonads next to it... mmm delicious. But it would have felt kinder if the chef had killed the poor prawn rather than leaving its top half a-twitching on the plate.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/22/2009 07:34:00 PM

Saturday, November 21, 2009

CRU climate conspiracy - the proof!

Now I've had a look at the stolen data, and the full extent of the International Program for Climate Conspiracy is clear.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. There are:

NO documents describing the microwave-sending units on satellites that are up there warming the planet (you didn't really think that MSU meant microwave sounding unit did you?!).

NO evidence of the hairdryer-wielding scientists who are melting the glaciers on their "field trips".

NO pictures of the heaps of rocks we throw into the sea each night to raise the sea level.

And what this means is...




Friday, November 20, 2009

More on the hack

You weren't expecting that, were you...

That CRU data hack

Love it or hate it, it's going to be a pretty big story. I was mildly amused to see that Wattatwat doesn't even know the difference between the Hadley Centre and CRU - the answer is about 300 miles, according to Google. And also, it seems that only one of them has an adequate firewall...

Remember, never say anything in an email if you aren't prepared to see it plastered over the internet subsequently!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/18/2009 09:34:00 PM

Hase Dera, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Another abrupt climate change occurred yesterday and it is only 4 months since the last one. Now it is cold, and therefore "virtually certain" that all the mantises are dead including dear sweet Trevorina

Photo is taken in a sub-temple at Hase-Dera. It is a scary place. There is one little concrete statue for each dead baby. I hope Trevoria managed to make 10 times this many progeny before she died. Mantis infant mortality rates are very high...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/18/2009 09:34:00 PM

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/18/2009 03:09:00 AM

shichi-go-san 七五三, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

A break from the nauseam on the empty blog, a quiz. Boy or girl?

Taking flight off the stairs to join the black kites swooping overhead seems a good solution to impossible to walk in shoes.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/18/2009 03:09:00 AM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/16/2009 07:46:00 PM

Autumn colours and cherry blossom in a single photo! The title of the photo gives it away. This is a cherry blossom that flowers in October. The tree is rather sparse now, so I wouldn't bet on it still being in flower by the time the maple tree in the background has turned all the way to red. But then again I do usually lose my bets...

[Zuisenji, Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/16/2009 07:46:00 PM

Monday, November 16, 2009

Successful writer/call girl/blogger a scientist

Oh, the shame, the shame.

All the luvvies in the meejah were swooning over the elegant prose, the urbane and erudite discussions of Iris Murdoch with punters.

Her purple prose had them speculating variously that the author was the novelist Sarah Champion, journalist Toby Young or writer Rowan Pelling. Others had suggested Lisa Hilton, Andrew Orlowski or Michael Faber.

But it turns out that this outwardly-normal girl-about-town had a secret double life. Behind the façade of a sophisticated cultivated lady of the night, she was living a double life - as a bench-monkey.

I cringe at the embarrassing phone calls that are surely taking place following this revelation: "Hi Mum, you know you thought I was living as a high-class escort in London? Well, actually, I was moonlighting as a PhD student. Now I'm working as an obscure research scientist."

Klotzbach ad nauseam 2009

The Klotzbach et al paper (previous here) is finally published, and seems to have kicked off something of a blogstorm again.

As you may recall, when the preprint was first publicised, Gavin Schmidt quickly identified an error in the analysis. The paper looks at the difference in trend between surface and troposphere, and the claim that this points to some previously-unexplained factor (which they ascribe to "bias" in the surface measurements, see below) depends on the "expected" amplification factor of 1.2 which is derived from models.

As Gavin pointed out, however, the factor of 1.2 does not apply over land (his model's ratio is 0.95) which eliminated half of their effect at a stroke. K09 originally appeared to accept this (see table in blog post) so it was surprising to see that they hadn't bothered to correct this for the final version of the paper. They made several other changes later than that exchange, so it's not like they didn't have the opportunity.

K09 have now replied by claiming that Gavin's correction isn't correct after all, and they "understand" from McKitrick that the original 1.2 value is appropriate for the region they were considering. It is odd enough that they didn't clarify this in the paper, but what is even more bizarre is their repeated claim the different values don't matter, since clearly Gavin's value knocks off half of the claimed discrepancy at a stroke.

Ross McKitrick seems pretty embarrassed by the whole affair. All he did was write an informal email to one of the authors, which he never intended to be made public, and he seems to have been as astonished as Gavin was to find his calculations used as the basis for the analysis in K09. He thinks it was inappropriate for them to have used his numbers, which he now acknowledges are incorrect. His new values are contradicted by Gavin's, and I know who I'd place my money on (McKitrick's numbers imply a global mean factor of about 1.45, far higher than the generally accepted figure, and he's had difficulties with such complex issues as area-weighting in the past). But irrespective of the numbers themselves, it is staggering that K09, having been alerted to the problem by Gavin, didn't bother to check for themselves, preferring to publish the disputed values first and correct (or not) later. Of course this "see no evil" strategy means they have made McKitrick look stupid for the error, and whatever you feel about his contribution to climate science in general it's hard to not feel some sympathy for him in this case. It is shameful of K09 to hide behind McKitrick in this way rather than performing the calculation themselves if they won't accept Gavin's figures.

Distinct from the dispute over those numbers, there are some more rather amusing changes to the paper, in that the interpretation of the Lin et al 2007 results has been reversed. Originally (and repeatedly) touted as supporting the hypothesis of Pielke and Matsui 2005 (and don't forget that Pielke and Matsui were co-authors on L07), it was noted by Urs Neu out that this interpretation of the analysis was based on a sign error. When correctly interpreted, the L07 results actually oppose the PM05 hypothesis, which at a minimum demonstrates that if the PM05 effect really existed, it is not large compared to other local influences.

As a result of this belated realisation, there are some changes to the K09 paper. What was originally written was:
This was documented in Lin et al. [2007] who found from observational data that monitoring long-term near-surface daily minimum temperature trends at a single level on light wind nights will not produce the same trends as for long-term temperature trends at other heights near the surface. For instance, were the data from Lin et al. [2007] to be representative of biases in other station measurements taken at one height, then about 30% of the tropospheric warming during the 20th century reported by the IPCC would be explained as the result of this factor. A warm bias would occur even for daytime maximum temperatures for land locations at high latitudes during the winter when the surface temperature profile remains stably stratified all day.

One might think that correcting the sign error would naturally lead to

This was documented in Lin et al. [2007] who found from observational data that monitoring long-term near-surface daily minimum temperature trends at a single level on light wind nights will not produce the same trends as for long-term temperature trends at other heights near the surface. For instance, were the data from Lin et al. [2007] to be representative of biases in other station measurements taken at one height, then the tropospheric warming during the 20th century reported by the IPCC would be underestimated by about 30% as the result of this factor. A cold bias would occur even for daytime maximum temperatures for land locations at high latitudes during the winter when the surface temperature profile remains stably stratified all day.

But of course they couldn't bring themselves to say that, so instead the paper now reads:

This was documented by Lin et al. [2007] who found from observational data that monitoring long-term near-surface daily minimum temperature trends at a single level on light wind nights will not produce the same trends as for long-term temperature trends at other heights near the surface (although it was a cool bias in that data for the time period and location examined). A warm bias could occur even for daytime maximum temperatures for land locations at high latitudes during the winter when the surface temperature profile remains stably stratified all day.

Funny how this inconvenient result is now relegated to a "time period and location examined" when it was previously hypothesised to be representative of the global picture.

There were no fewer than three other places where L07 was originally cited as being consistent with the K09/PM05 hypothesis, but it would obviously have been too painful for them to mention that their own observations of boundary layer lapse rates contradict their theory. Therefore, these statements have just been deleted.

It is particularly curious that the contribution of Urs Neu (who corrected this sign error) is nowhere acknowledged. Perhaps he requested that his name was not mentioned, but otherwise this omission sits uncomfortably with (in particular) RPJr's willingness to throw accusations of plagiarism around at others.

Yet another error is the repeated mis-attribution of comments from Santer et al (2000) as coming from Santer et al (2005). The significance of this is that back in 2000, there was still a rather large discrepancy between satellite observations (and specifically between the UAH analysis and the expected tropospheric amplification), for which people put a lot of effort in to trying to think up plausible explanations. Of course a large part of this discrepancy was fixed, when it was discovered that another sign error in the UAH analysis had understated the trend (BTW, anyone notice a pattern here?), largely reconciling the problem. By giving the wrong reference, K09 gives the wholly misleading impression that many scientists in 2005 disagreed with this reconciliation. In fact, Santer et al 2005 (and accompanying papers) was this reconciliation!

So it seems we have a hypothesis about a significant decrease in lapse rates in the boundary layer which even were it true, has no real impact on predictions of climate change but anyway is (a) not supported by any theoretical calculations (since the PM05 calculation is simply inapplicable), and (b) actually opposed by the observational evidence on lapse rates that the proponents themselves have analysed (as L07 had a sign error). It seems that only one thing has remained a constant amongst the blizzard of errors and bluster, and that is Roger Pielke Sr's unshakeable beliefs that the surface temperature record is wrong, and that the fact that his nonsensical "research" on this has been ignored by the scientific community is evidence of some conspiracy to cover it all up. Perhaps this is what "Pielke Climate Science" means. I prefer the traditional approach.

[jules' pics] 11/15/2009 11:41:00 PM

shichi-go-san 七五三, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Commissioned by Steve to disambiguate kiddy kimonos, here's a 3 year old girl.

Yesterday, 7-5-3 festival day, I stood inconspicuously with my long lens along with the other inconspicuous men with inconspicuous long lenses, at the foto-place at the foot of the stairs by the bandstand, and we all took pics of happy families. It is quite entertaining. Basically the child is charged with climbing a large staircase wearing expensively rented constricting clothes and shoes it is impossible to walk in. Luckily parents are allowed to help. Despite all this it was smiles all round and I saw not a single tear or tantrum. Japanese kiddywinks are the best!

Then, most bafflingly, as we stood there surrounded by beautiful people in lovely kimono, one of the inconspicuous photographers came up and asked me (dressed in tatty jeans and drab jacket) to pose for him! Hmmm.. seems that I will never be an inconspicuous photographer after all...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/15/2009 11:41:00 PM

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Air Capture

It's relatively easy to buy decent bread in the UK these days, so I never got round to making my own when we lived there. Not so in Japan, where 6 slices of nondescript soft white costs an astonishing ¥200 or thereabouts, and there is nothing that comes close to Tesco's malted bread.

Eventually I got around to baking my own bread, which was reasonably successful - but I've always enjoyed sourdough bread, especially when visiting places like San Francisco where it is very common.

So a couple of months ago, I mixed up some flour and water and left it sitting around in a warm place...

...and this is what appeared! Well actually, this is now a few generations down the line from the original Kamakura sourdough starter. It's amazing what can be pulled out of thin air. I'm not sure it really tastes like Boudin's but it's better than nothing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/12/2009 08:54:00 PM

boy in pink, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

In the comments to the tiny dot boy and his family, on Js empty blog Steve was getting curious about men's attire.

THis is how it seems to me:
0-10: "moe!" (dressed by Mum)
11-18: Exhausted school boy (dressed by school)
18-25: Fashion icon seeking mate (dressed by self)
25-65: Exhausted salaryman (soul and dress-sense owned by company, wife does what she can but his heart's not in it)
65+: Inconspicuous (obeys she who must be obeyed)

0-10 and 18-25 are by far the best. Here's one of the latter.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/12/2009 08:54:00 PM

Thursday, November 12, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/12/2009 12:35:00 AM

Hachimangu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Our meeting last week was mostly about the last millennium, so as well as oceanography we also mused on some old trees, one of which (a ~500 year old ginkgo) frames most of the right hand side of this photo.

I often try to take this photo of the bandstand and several tori down the ~1.5 mile dead straight road between the beach and Hachimangu shrine in Kamakura. I like the lighting in this one but, the thing I find most interesting is that almost everyone who is not actually walking up the stairs is engaged in photography.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/12/2009 12:35:00 AM

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

[jules' pics] 11/10/2009 07:51:00 PM

disaster training, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

This year disaster training had to be postponed at the last minute due to a disaster; a typhoon was directly overhead. Luckily the replacement day was 20C and sunny. For the first time this year there was a 10 second count-down to the pretend earthquake. I do hope we will get one of those for the real thing. Then there will be time to grab my helmet and sit cuddling my Mac Pro under my desk. Really I just like any socially acceptable excuse to cuddle my Mac Pro.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 11/10/2009 07:51:00 PM

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bankers "have learned lessons"

The headline was actually that bankers "have not learned lessons" (though this is strangely absent from the web page) but I beg to differ. They have learned that they are "too big to fail" and that any blunders, no matter how colossal, will result in unending and unlimited taxpayer-funded bail-outs. The bigger the failure, the better, in fact, as losing a few million quid might actually cost a job or two, whereas losing several trillion guarantees the big pay-day (see "too big to fail" above). Thus, they have returned to business as usual at the first opportunity.

If I was a banker in this environment, I'd be betting someone else's farm - and pension - on every heads I win, tails you lose proposition I could think of. Wouldn't you?

One saving grace is that I'm not a UK taxpayer, and hopefully won't become one within the next few years :-) Of course Japan has been digging a hole for the past few decades, but that's all been done on funny money, and there are no signs of them attempting to raise it from the population as a whole.