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