Monday, January 30, 2012

[jules' pics] yum yum raw fishy

tuna bowl - maguro don
All week we eay the inventions of the canteen at work, and, healthy though it may be, by the weekend we are bored of cold bland food and soggy rice, so we eat foreign-style. There is, however, one Japanese restaurant in Kamakura which we are allowed to frequent on ocassion. Called Bowls, it serves bowls of rice with stuff on. The stuff is somewhat novel, sometimes with a Korean or maybe Californian twist. Here's their raw tuna with exotic sesame seed dressing and peculiar foreign-style lettuce-stuff! Doesn't it look delicious!?

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/30/2012 05:09:00 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2012

[jules' pics] I saw three ships

3 ships sailing by
It seems that every New Year's Day, just after dawn, three yachts launch and go sailing by at Kamakura beach. It is a curious thing. Not a very up to the minute picktur, but I tend to build up a backlog of pictures I like that I haven't got around to blogging. Meanwhile, last weekend was the Wimmin's Conference. I took lots of photos, and they'll go online, but visible only to the other Wimmin. What happens at Wimmin's Conference stays at Wimmin's Conference... ;-)

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/26/2012 01:19:00 PM

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The "Gaijin Gulag" at Narita

A bit of a bizarre story has been doing the rounds. Initially on Debito, I assumed it would soon fade, but it was picked up by an Economist-hosted blog, which apparently means it is important and worthy of discussion just about everywhere. What happened is that some "Tokyo-based" freelance Canadian journalist was barred from (re-)entry into Japan late last year - he insinuates it was on the strength of some critical Fukushima-related articles - then bullied and threatened by some shady security forces in the bowels of Narita Airport, and finally forced at gunpoint (his words) into buying an overpriced one-way ticked to Canada, leaving home, girlfriend and pet dog in Tokyo. This was all described in extraordinary hyperbole on his own blog (which incidentally has been repeatedly altered in various materially important ways), then highlighted on Debito, and it went downhill from there.

It all sounded a bit odd, and people started asking of the what was your actual visa status? This was met with volleys of vitriolic abuse and evasion. "I first had a work visa for Japan in 1989, and my last renewal began in 2008", he claimed, "I have never overstayed". But work visas only last three years (at most). Eventually, he wrote on his blog that it was in the process of renewal, but then he deleted that bit again. If (and it seems like a big if at this point) he actually did have a viable renewal application underway (not a trivial matter for a freelance journalist, work visas typically require a Japanese sponsor, and are rather specific as to the nature of the work), and had also been told it would be ok to travel with this status, then he would seem to have a leg to stand on, but his repeated evasion and misleading statements make it hard to take his story at face value. At any rate, his subsequent treatment is the responsibility of the (Korean) airline he flew in on, not Japanese immigration. Not that this would justify the treatment, but it does suggest that it may not be such an imminent threat to those of us who are actually living here with proper visas which authorise us to work in our jobs. That's not to say everything is great in Japanese immigration. It's pretty horrible everywhere, though.

His various blogging and commenting on Twitter, Debito and elsewhere gives the impression that he's a bit of a Walter Mitty fantasist, full of stories of his war experience and name-dropping his more famous "colleagues". He boasted about what a great contribution he made to Japan after the Fukushima accident (er, though it was also apparently this coverage that marked him out for expulsion): "But I didn’t flee Japan like thousands of foreigners after the March 11 disasters. I made personal sacrifices to tell the world about the plight of disaster victims, to generate sympathy for Japan. I earned income from sources outside Japan, and spent it inside Japan."

Google tells a different story, that he bravely filed his first-hand reports from Shizuoka, stoking the foreign media hype that many of us were so critical of at the time:

"I'm one of the last people I know to leave Tokyo," Johnson told CTV's Canada AM. Well, it seems like he has gone for good now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oh noes we're all going to die

Well, about 5,600 of us, in the next 4 years - or maybe 30. And considering that is a few thousand of of a population of about 30 million (depends how far out from central Tokyo you count) perhaps it's not actually that likely to hit me (or indeed any individual) personally. After all, close to half a million of us are going to die of something or other every year anyway, so an additional risk of well under 1% doesn't seem too much to get worked up over. But it would perhaps be a slightly less irrational reason to leave than the radiation paranoia...

Of course, if the earthquake hits the famous "Shibuya Eggman" nuclear power station, we might get another meltdown too!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rainy run

Jules is away this weekend so I thought I should find something fun to do. However, I entered the 10k race at the Chiba Marine Marathon instead. "Marathon" in Japanese just means a long run, and as well as the 10k there was a half marathon, but there was actually not a full-length one at all. After what seems like weeks of wall-to-wall sunshine, the weekend turned drizzly and cold, so it wasn't quite as much fun as I'd hoped.

The facilities were pretty rubbish - in contrast to the Shonan event where they had set up tents, we were randomly packed into in the grimy alleys and stairways of a baseball stadium, and there was nowhere remotely secure to leave baggage. Not that this really matters in Japan. They had also not bothered to rent any portaloos and the existing toilets were inadequate for the numbers. Then there was a nasty and potentially rather dangerous crush at a pinch-point with thousands of people all trying to get out at the same time. It all made me realise just how well organised the Bolder Boulder and Shonan marathon had been in contrast. With the 10km race starting 10 minutes before the half-marathon, and from some distance away, I was wondering if I would get out in time - or indeed, at all - but in the end I had a quick 5 minute jog down the road as warm-up and then only 2 mins to wait at the start line, which in the cold and drizzly conditions was perhaps not that bad an option.

I was a few seconds faster than last time at 42:27 (206th out of ~5000), but had been hoping for rather more of an improvement. The crowd at the start probably cost me a bit of time - it was a rather bigger even than the Shonan and I was in the 2nd block with over 500 people ahead. Also, it was a bit breezy and of course wet under foot, which probably isn't conducive to that good a time. Maybe the biggest problem is I just wasn't trying hard enough though - everyone around me seemed to be panting away desperately from quite early on and I wasn't really that tired at the end.

Friday, January 20, 2012

[jules' pics] pink and concrete

Where there is so much concrete that the camellia can't take root, pink bicycles are grown instead.
pink and concrete

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/20/2012 10:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 19, 2012

[jules' pics] Monday morning in Kamakura

At Kosokuji. Greens and browns replace the reds and blues of Yokohama.
Kosokuji, Kamakura

Kosokuji, Kamakura

Kosokuji, Kamakura

Kosokuji, Kamakura

But the camellia are still pink!
In the interests of balance, I should point out that while there is the occasional bit of stone and wood, there is still an awful lot of concrete in Kamakura. For some reason the Japanese like to coat every possible surface with the stuff.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/19/2012 10:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

[jules' pics] Sunday morning in Yokohama

The posh shops aren't open yet so the streets are rather quiet,
which allows a crow to enjoy its breakfast in peace.
Meanwhile, some dodgy manual handling is going on down a narrow staircase at the back of a building.
manual handling
Secure behind blue bars, the cat glares out territorialy.
The camellia continue to flower pinkly.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/17/2012 09:29:00 PM

Sunday, January 15, 2012

[jules' pics] Trees

Earlier this month we climbed a small mountain called Hinode (which means sunrise). As it is a small mountain, most of the views are of, or through, trees. The tall straight trees are the Japanese cedars which will make people in Tokyo sneeze when they release their pollen in a couple of months time.
But this huge leaf is not from a Japanese cedar...
Big Leaf
And some sides of the hill host a more natural forest.
It was a clear day and Tokyo could clearly be seen from the top. Can you see the new tallest structure in Tokyo - The Sky Tree? It is actually more similar in height to Hinode itself than to a real tree!
Tokyo from Hinode
Some of the real trees were horizontal.
Tree on Hinode
And here is the ever faithful pack pony.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/15/2012 04:46:00 PM


Via Andrew Parnell's tweet, this article has to be one of the worst explanations of p-values I have ever read. It's not just that the basic interpretation of a p-value is wrong (no it is not the probability that the null hypothesis is true), but it's also drowned in waffle and bafflegab.

Interestingly, it seems to be the one article on that site by author "Statistician Nathan Green" that does not have comments attached. I've retweeted AP's comment to the author just for fun...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not so fast!

It seems that reports of the death of global warming have been somewhat exaggerated. Thanks to commenter doskonaleszare on the previous post, a graph of the forthcoming updated HadCRUT4 data set has been located here, and here it is reproduced for your convenience:

Blowing up the right hand end, with a horizontal line to guide the eye:

Red is the new HadCRUT4 blue is HadCRUT3. It is quite clear that in the new data set, the 2010 value exceeds the 1998 value (as indeed does 2005), in line with the NCDC and GISS analyses. This seems to be attributed to the use of a larger set of high-latitude observations, which was long recognised to be a weakness with HadCRUT3.

The Whitehouse bet

I hear that David Whitehouse is crowing about winning the bet we had over global temperatures. I can't say I blame him - but he had better make the most of it, as the nature of the ongoing warming trend is such that it will not be long before the 1998 temperature estimate is unambiguously beaten in all three of the major temperature analyses. It already has been in two of the data sets, of course, but we did agree to use the Hadley centre analysis. (UPDATE but thanks to commenter doskonaleszare have a look at this!)

More or Less covered this yesterday (you can listen on line, or get the podcast), as they did with the original bet. Tellingly, you can hear that David Whitehouse was not prepared to bet against a record over the next 4 years on the same basis. So even though he continues to bluster about a standstill in temperature, he obviously doesn't really really believe it. Here are the three data sets (offset for clarity), with the simple linear trend (dotted lines with associated decadal trend value) over the last 20 years. I estimated observational values for 2011, as they are not actually published yet. It is is quite clear that even with the supposed halt in warming, the trend continues to be positive, and the 1998 value (dashed line) will be regularly exceeded in a few years by all measures.

That said, there is little sign of the acceleration in warming that most models had predicted, and it increasingly seems that the Smith et al forecast (for example) was a bit excessive. This new paper also suggests that the transient response of a modern model (albeit a particularly sensitive one) has to be significantly downscaled to match observations. Mind you, that paper also has a worrying discrepancy between the results obtained with 1900-2000, versus 1850-2010 data. Normally one would expect the latter to be broadly a subset of the former - more data means closer convergence to the true value - but the two sets of results are virtually disjoint, which suggests something a bit strange may be going on in the analysis (cf Schmitter et al with the land-only versus land+ocean results). But just a glance at the first figure shows a striking divergence between model and data over the first decade of the 21st century (compared to the close agreement prior to then). Something isn't quite right there.

Monday, January 09, 2012

[jules' pics] Dragons

While last year was year of scary monster bunnies, we are now safely in the year of the cuddly dragon. The timber merchant celebrates in the usual fashion.
Year of the dragon
All the other years have non-imaginary animals, which seems a bit odd to me.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/09/2012 07:24:00 PM

Friday, January 06, 2012

[jules' pics] BIF

Having practically nailed a "BIF", which is internet photography speak for "Bird In Flight" (here on flickr and third photo down on Chrstmas Day post), I was emboldened to attempt the other sort of BIF - Boy In Flight.
Boy in flight #2

The bigger boys went first, As the boys got smaller and smaller I was sure one was going to get wet, but even the tiniest one flew all the way across.
Boy in flight #1

And here is a group of young adults gazing up at the flying boys, perhaps remembering the days when they too could fly...
people at sunrise
BTW the "trick" for either kind of BIF, if you are as bad a photographer as me, is to get them flying roughly towards you, and use a camera with fast autofocus to do the rest.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/06/2012 05:02:00 PM

Thursday, January 05, 2012

[jules' pics] 2011

Horseshoe Bend, ArizonaEnoshimaKarlzplatz and Henry MooreshinryokuCat and boyBryce Canyon
golden-mantled ground squirrelGrand CanyonGrand CanyonPark Hyatt, Shinjukuphoto.JPGDay 2
dragonfly on cone flowerIshinomakiShinto priest and fishing boatA sunny day at KamikochiA mountain huthorizontals
Tori at KenchojiSan Francisco house colourpigeons and a motorcycleHachimanguKamakura beach

2011, a set on Flickr.

That's it. I'm stuck. 24 photos for 2011.

The idea was to get down to 12, but the 24 seem to me to better tell the story of the remarkable year that was 2011. It certainly was the most interesting year of my life so far. The photos are presented in chronological order and weirdly there are none in the 24 that predate the apocalypse in March, the first being taken 2 days later.

Comments welcome!

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 1/05/2012 02:07:00 PM