Saturday, July 31, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/31/2010 04:18:00 AM

Since the diet includes anything that can be scraped from the seashore, innards (gizzards, faces, beaks, raw liver, guts...), hornets, barely cooked chicken, raw egg, whale and horse, I tend to laugh at the apparent distress caused by the suggestion of eating anything considered cute and cuddly. Monkeys are thus off the menu and so the troupe that lives near the busy Kamikochi nature trail coexist happily with humans in an way that it is hard to imagine in the UK. Since people do nothing to the monkeys apart from photograph them, they pass by, apparently unbothered, at close quarters. This teeny tiny baby was photographed with my 60mm macro, not a long telephoto!

[Kamikochi is where many walks in the North Japan Alps start and finish.]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/31/2010 04:18:00 AM

Friday, July 30, 2010

[jules' pics] Let's mountain life

Japanese mountain culture may not be for everyone.

5am: raw egg and seaweed breakfast

raw egg breakfast

6:00am: high altitude toilet (3000m)

Minamidake hut

On the bright side, I wrecked my boots, so we had a good reason to attend the first day opening of the newly relocated mountain shop, Kamoshika, in Yokohama. Great shop. Lovely new blue nubuck boots!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/30/2010 01:19:00 AM

Friday, July 23, 2010

[jules' pics] photo.jpg

photo.jpg, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Since summer arrived we have gone to the mountains. Same wifi hut as
last year - the only one we have found...fortunately. That's famous
Yarigatake in the distance.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/22/2010 11:25:00 PM

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/20/2010 08:38:00 PM

Often, when I walk past this house on the way home from the station in Kamakura, I take its picture. This time James didn't recognise it, and when the actual dwelling was pointed out, complained that, "It looks nothing like that". What a great compliment to the picktur taker!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/20/2010 08:38:00 PM

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/19/2010 11:36:00 PM

frog, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Since yesterday was Marine Day everyone obediently went to the beach, where (apparently) you couldn't see sand for the bodies. We visited the cool shady trees instead, where we met about as many frogs as people.

I wonder what make of frog this is. There is a frog on the internets that is handily called the Japanese Brown Frog which does looks similar... [Update: thanks to andrewt. The frog is likely to be a Japanese brown frog, Rana japonica.]

I didn't crop the image since I like the leafy green border, so you might want to view bigger (click here to do that).

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/19/2010 11:36:00 PM

Sunday, July 18, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/18/2010 12:10:00 AM

Beautiful Kamakura, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Summer has come, the sky is blue, and beauty is all around.

What slightly troubles me is that the Japan adapted me can happily walk round in temperatures that make the partly metal Nikon N80s hot to the touch. Well, the one caveat to my adaption is that I am not actually a camel, and so the happiness continues as long as I can drink about 500ml an hour.

Camera snobs poo poo lightweight plastic cameras - but they win in either hot or cold weather!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/18/2010 12:10:00 AM

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hotting up?

Following on from this post, the latest headlines on hot global temperatures are a bit surprising to me. The Torygraph reports that the first half of the year was the hottest Jan-June on record, surpassing even 1998. The headline to that article is forecasting a new record for the whole year too, but the person quoted seems rather less confident of that. This is all based on the NCDC analysis, not HadCRUT which I've bet on. Neither is it GISS which has the well-known polar extrapolation, though, so I'm not sure why it is quite so hot. The pattern of temperature anomalies on the Grauniad page also doesn't really look much like an ENSO pattern (to my inexpert eye at least), with warming pretty much everywhere apart from the Eastern Pacific.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/14/2010 08:51:00 PM

Shinjuku station, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Shinjuku station, considered the busiest in the world, is much much more exciting than Yokohama station. The most exciting thing about it is getting lost. Even if you think you know what you are doing, attempting to cross from one side to the other without going through a ticket barrier can be a disorientating and distressing experience, although the sense of achievement upon arrival at the intended destination before closing time makes it worth the agony. This photo was taken near the barriers to one of the private lines. People were walking unusually fast. Probably they were trying to look as if they knew where they were going.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/14/2010 08:51:00 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/13/2010 08:45:00 PM

NEX at Yokohama, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

The Narita Express, the airport train you use when you visit us, has new rolling stock which is extra super shiny. Combined with the recent doubling in width of the platform gives a new big city impression for those arriving in Yokohama for the first time.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/13/2010 08:45:00 PM

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/12/2010 08:46:00 PM

Dry Zen gardens are usually free of all litter, with gravel raked into straight lines over the expanse, Only at the edges and islands (rocks), do the raked lines follow the coastlines.

Naturally, I had assumed that the gardens were normally raked at dawn by levitating monks, with the task occasionally being set as one of those impossible assignment for student monks. After almost a decade here, we finally caught someone in the act. It looks like, when the monks are occupied elsewhere, it is out of work ballet dancers that act as substitute garden rakers.

Hmm...that is really an insult to the Japanese workmen, whose dexterity is extraordinary. I wonder what big clumsy people do for a living here.

The video only shows the final part of the raking. I was enjoying the gardening ballet so much that I forgot that my pink camera has a video mode until it was almost too late.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/12/2010 08:46:00 PM

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Monbiot exonerated

The long-anticipated Monbiot Inquiry has reported and finds that, while Monbiot's allegations were utterly baseless and incorrect, they were fully justified by the general atmosphere of fervid speculation that he built up surrounded him. No apology is necessary.

You may be surprised that Monbiot is not only the subject, but also the author, of this report. That's the way the press works these days. Self-regulation, donchaknow.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled manufactured scandal.

Take the Pepsi Challenge

Perhaps it's not the best time to be gloating, what with Blogger's commenting apparently a bit borked (maybe Blogger is overloaded by the fleeing Borg? If anyone sees their comments disappearing, feel free to drop me an email, and I will try to post it myself). But I do feel just ever-so-slightly vindicated in my decision to not join a club that would have had me as a member...

"You Can't Beat the Feeling" :-)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Muir Russell savages CRU!

[jules' pics] 7/06/2010 11:09:00 PM

Not many bugs around this year - it has been so cold - barely reaching 30C during the daytime, but here is another example (see here for the first), of a butterfly sucking colour out of a flower. Taking this sort of photo is quite exciting. The result looks very stationary, but there was only an instant when it all came together.

[Jomyouji English garden - which has captured the English garden spirit of being in full bloom in June - but the flowers do look a bit exotic]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/06/2010 11:09:00 PM

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The writing's on the wall...

...and it's in English. Or so it seems, in some ways at least.

Recently, two major Japanese companies have announced that their official language for business - even internally - will be English. (I'm not entirely sure why this is headline news, as several other companies have already adopted this policy some time ago, but never mind about that.) They are both trying to break into international markets, so the potential benefits are pretty big (not denying that there will of course be disadvantages too, given the poor English language skills throughout the population here). English language education is also being introduced at earlier stage in education. That's over the howls of the nationalists, of course, who argue that the children will be "confused" by this and that English should be left until they are more secure in their Japanese.

From their own parochial and reactionary point of view, I wonder if they may have a reason to be fearful. For while all the research I have read indicates that bilingualism is easily instilled at an early age, and that starting early does not harm understanding of the "mother" tongue, there is also interesting new research showing how patterns of thought are shaped by language. In that study, it was found that people who learnt (as children) a primitive sign language which did not include clear concepts of relative position (left and right, under/over etc), performed much worse in tests of spatial communication than those who learnt a later version of the language which did.

So it is not implausible that learning only Japanese could be a factor which contributes towards ensuring that children learn to think only as Japanese.

We have been amused in management meetings where everyone is rattling along in Japanese, interspersed with words like "management" and "communication". It's a cheap shot to say well, the Japanese language obviously does not include these concepts. And only partly true. More accurately, these words are used to mean the Japanese version of what the original concept was, which may bear little relation to what we would expect. Like a "diet", for example - which includes anything related to exercise, as well as a reduction in calorie intake itself. And "smart" means slim. Once, someone here (well-educated, with overseas experience) proudly described the Japanese funding arrangements as "very democratic", because all of the senior sensei were given reasonably equitable budgets to disperse as they saw fit among their minions.

No, that is not "democracy", it's a feudal hierarchy. But confusion between the two might explain rather a lot about Japanese politics.

The lack of distinction between "right" and "privilege" is also notable IMO. Here, we are allowed to do whatever the Govt allows us to do. And it doesn't matter if we understand the law, so long as we obey it.

So I wonder what would happen if a generation of genuinely bilingual Japanese children grow up with a facility to understand and debate the differences between rights and privileges, or democracies and feudal hierarchies. It could make for interesting times. No wonder the reactionary bigots are against it.

Meanwhile, JAMSTEC is still bravely holding back the tide of English, Canute-like. This makes it very easy to ignore the deluge of administrivia that fills my email inbox. Long may it continue!

[jules' pics] 7/05/2010 11:14:00 PM

The most disconcerting thing about the Japanese is their ability to sleep while standing up. It is also a bit odd the way that everybody regularly sleeps in meetings, and no one minds. One day I hope to be in a meeting where everybody falls asleep at the same time. I have my iphone Vuvuzela App primed to celebrate the event.

Monday, July 05, 2010

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

Or maybe not.

Hot on the heels of the latest exoneration (and in anticipation of the next - possibly the last?), Fred Pearce has rounded up a handful of the usual suspects to claim that the stolen emails have been a "game changer".

I suppose as it becomes increasingly clear that there really was nothing to get excited about we can look forward to increasingly desperate attempts to puff up this irrelevant sideshow into something worthwhile. After all, a lot of journalists (and some scientists too) staked a fair bit of their credibility on this actually amounting to a hill of beans.

Talking of my pal Fred Pearce, he couldn't resist trying to push a "climategate" frame on the McLean et al stuff just recently. Of course there is absolutely no link other than that a couple of our wholly innocuous emails were revealed amongst the hacked documents. Other than that, the article is just some rather empty he-said-she-said and it seems Pearce didn't even bother to confirm that the MFC's reply really was rejected by JGR, merely reporting this as an allegation. [He did email me with some questions just before writing that article, but nothing related to what he actually wrote.]

[jules' pics] 7/04/2010 08:20:00 PM

At Yakuoji, Kamakura, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Since frontals are in vogue, here's Buddha, meditating so deeply, at the quite weird Yakuoji cemetery, that he didn't seem to notice me taking the photo, even though I was right in front of him*.

Yakuoji's main claim to fame is that Nichiren sits in the main building with his mouth open, telling the people of 13th century Kamakura what's what. He did quite a lot of that. I expect he'd have a big ranty blog if he were alive today.

[*with my very discreet Sony TX5]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/04/2010 08:20:00 PM

Saturday, July 03, 2010

[jules' pics] 7/03/2010 02:15:00 AM

James and a Thistle, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Just to prove that James is not one dimensional, by special request, frontal James with, as a bonus, his national flower.

[Jomyoji English garden - either James is 1 foot high, or that thistle's gone a bit mad in Japan...and yes, that T-shirt is nearly 20 years old]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 7/03/2010 02:15:00 AM

Friday, July 02, 2010

[jules' pics] Pom Pom City

I will try to limit the damage of the Kamakura pom pom epidemic, by posting them all in one post. I know that already I am defeated, as some sneaked into the back of the last picture.

Starting with the many at Meigetsuin, and ending with just one.


hydrangea - ajisai, in Kamakura

Ajissaaaaai, are everywhere in Kamakura.

Being at something of a loss as to how to photograph horrible pom pom flowers, for this last photo I am grateful for the inspiration gained from "myu-myu" one of my contacts on flickr, who appears to be a little dog but, nevertheless, clearly knows what they are doing when it comes to taking pictures of flowers and stuff.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/23/2010 02:39:00 PM

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Penn State Live - Investigation of climate scientist at Penn State complete

Mann cleared again, again. I'm not even sure what he was cleared of this time. But whatever it was, it didn't happen, it wasn't him anyway, and you can't prove a thing :-)

Hot or not?

The appearance of another month of HadCRU temperatures is the spur I need to finally write something about the prospects for a temperature record this year. Recall I have a bet with David Whitehouse on whether the 1998 temperature record is broken by 2011. While this doesn't have to happen this year, it might be the best chance I've got of a win.

The first point to make is that the current ENSO is just about over. It was a significant event, but nothing compared to 1998. In fact based on the forecasts I happened to download over the past few months, it has slightly undershot expectations. Here is a comparison of 1997-8 with 2009-10:

These data are actually 3-month smoothed so the last point labelled as April actually represents March-April-May and presumably the next datum is not far away. So at its maximum the recent ENSO was nothing like as strong as the one back then, but neither is it collapsing as quickly. Current forecasts are for a moderate La Nina later in the year.

Here's a comparison of the Hadcru temperatures:

The dotted lines are a 12-month backwards-looking smooth. As you can see, in 1998 December pretty much caught the peak in the temperature although the anomaly had collapsed a few months earlier. It looks to me like the red line will struggle to keep above the blue one over the next few months, and it is not at all certain that it will be on top come December. There's got to be a chance but I don't think I'd put it higher than 50% now (based on nothing more than eyeballing the graph plus the expected death of the ENSO - I haven't tried to find any more detailed forecasts of temperature).

Hansen (and to some extent the Hadley Centre) is still talking up the chance of a record temperature. For example, the former said it was "likely" in a recent widely-circulated draft paper. But that is using GISTEMP which already has 2005 hotter than 1998. In fact based on that analysis, the past 12 months are the hottest on record (in terms of anomaly) which is not the case for HadCRU.

[jules' pics] 6/30/2010 11:10:00 PM

James at Meigetsuin, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Portrait of James' on his 14th Wedding Anniversary. You can easily see how the ravages of time (and not being believed about climate sensitivity) are taking their toll, even though he attempts to hide the decline with his hand. For easy comparison, here is last year's portrait.

[Photo take on 21 June 2010, at Meigetsuin, home of the infamous blue pompom bushes, which will probably soon demand to be blogged.]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/30/2010 11:10:00 PM