October Pieces Of My Mind #1

The New Dawn rose bush I've been pampering has almost outgrown its trellis. The New Dawn rose I've been pampering has almost outgrown its trellis.
  • Movie: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Two film-making high school boys befriend a girl just as she is diagnosed with leukaemia. Grade: Pass With Distinction.
  • Heard this ad for contact lenses offering prices that are "up to 70% of what you usually pay". You may want to think that through again, guys.
  • Swedish Racist Party representative makes confused motion to Parliament about removing state subsidies from newspapers that don't actually have those subsidies, capping the percentage of the media that members of a given ethnic group may own, and changing the programming on state television back to what it was like in the 50s and 60s.
  • When I look myself up in LIBRIS, Sweden's main bibliographical database, and sort the results by "relevance", I find this. My most relevant publications are the articles I wrote around age 20 in Nintendo-Magazinet. My least relevant publication is a 2007 journal paper on a gold foil figure die.
  • Dreamed that I was at a conference wearing my dressing gown.
  • You know, jars and tubs sealed with aluminum foil and then a plastic lid on top. Let's all agree that once you have opened the aluminium foil even just a little, it must be removed completely. Leaving it at half mast under the plastic lid is just wrong.
  • Reading a 1935 Dennis Wheatley novel where plane and phone are still spelled 'plane and 'phone.
  • When it says ”DJ”, think ”organ grinder”.

More like this

The New Dawn rose I've been pampering has almost outgrown its trellis. Movie: Kubo and the Two Strings. Oddly titled Japanese fantasy story with beautiful imagery and sappy moral. Grade: Pass. The UK imports roughly the same amount of tea annually as the rest of Europe combined. About the Trump…
This writer knows what glass cutters are for but doesn't know what they look like. She's having somebody behead plastic dolls with one. You know suits of armour? Almost all are Early Modern LARPing costumes for festive tournaments. Not Medieval, not used in battle. Not having any teaching gig this…
Nalin Pekgul: "Us Muslim immigrants used to invite Jehovah's Witnesses to practise our Swedish". Movie: Sweden, Heaven and Hell. Hilariously over the top Italian exploitation mockumentary about late-60s Sweden that manages to tell volumes about Italy instead. Narration similar to the closing voice-…
I thought my pet was a meerkat, but it was in fact a mere cat. Movie: Wild Tales. A collection of unconnected short wry films about revenge. Grade: pass. Eagle-eyed Roger Wikell found something that looked like a duplicate entry in my database. A flanged axe found at Vappeby hamlet by someone named…

sort the results by “relevance”

"Relevance" is very much in the eye of the beholder. In this case they may be sorting by circulation, so even a Swedish-language magazine aimed at the general public (to which category I infer "Nintendo-Magazinet" belongs) would appear ahead of journals specializing in archaeology.

In my case, results depend on which database you use:
-In Google Scholar I have a doppelgänger, somebody who shares my first and middle initial who was a plant biologist in the first half of the twentieth century.
-In the Astrophysics Data Service Abstract Database, my name matches one of the >3000 members of the ATLAS collaboration. No, I had nothing to do with the discovery of the Higgs boson, much as that would boost my CV.
-When I registered with the ORCID database and looked for my publications, I found about a half dozen (out of 40-some) of my published papers. I was also getting matches for anyone affiliated with Lund University, or writing about the medieval records that were kept in the city of Lund. Not to mention several scholars in different fields who happen to share my surname. (To my knowledge there aren't any scholars in my subfield who do share my surname, though there are at least two in related fields, including the ATLAS guy.)

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Oct 2016 #permalink

I was kind of joking. The relevance parameter isn't intended to measure the relevance of a publication to society. It measures its relevance to your search term.

You are right about removal of foil sealers, leaving it at half mast is not only wrong, it can lead to the people who do it consuming the exposed contents without realising that there is mould growing on the unexposed content. Which of course leads to the sensible people who remove the foil laughing a lot at the expression of horror on the face of the person who was doing the contaminated consuming when this is discovered.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Blade Runner without murders. And a total life span considerably more than 5 years.
-- -- -- --
Anybody wth follow-up news abot this? "Researchers in Britain think they might have developed a cure for HIV" http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-10-britain-hiv.html

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 11 Oct 2016 #permalink

changing the programming on state television back to what it was like in the 50s and 60s

If this results in things like the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, it might be a good thing. But if it involves American TV reruns, it might not be so good. Many of those shows have not aged well.

The BBC's actual advice to viewers who called asking how to grow their own spaghetti: "Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 11 Oct 2016 #permalink

Don't know if this will play in your 'region'. I find these two guys pretty funny - they have made a long term career out of rubbishing politicians. But they are colloquially Australian (John Clarke is actually a New Zealander, but like Russell Crowe has been resident in Australia for so long that he has learned to pronounce "fish and chips" correctly, instead of saying "fush 'n' chups"), so the humour might not translate well.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-13/clarke-and-dawe:-the-presidential…

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Oct 2016 #permalink

Watched the 2016 film The Legend of Tarzan. I disagree with the critics - for a big childhood fan of Tarzan like me, it was a rattling good yarn. Non-Tarzan fans might find it slow moving.

But they did not write the film script with a sequel in mind, so sadly it looks like there won't be one. I could do with more of them.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Oct 2016 #permalink

I disagree with them - I think Highway 61 was a great album, and is my all-time favourite, despite the out-of-tune instruments, awful quality of recording, etc. It's about the songs. He could never sing anyway, so what does the sound quality matter? I liked Blonde on Blonde much less. That was the album he wrote after recovering from falling off his motorbike and breaking his neck, and he was never the same after that. Lyrics like this are immortal:
God said to Abraham "Kill me a son",
Abe said "Man, you must be puttin' me on",
God said "Abe", Abe said "What?",
God said "You can do what you want, but
The next time you see me comin' you'd better run",
Abe said "Where you want this killin' done?"
And God said "Out on Highway 61".

The King of Thailand has died. This is a big deal. In the past the King has had a big calming and stabilising effect on the country. It will be tense waiting to see who will take over the monarchy. I'm not going to push my luck by discussing it publicly (I go to Thailand), but...well, I'll watch with great interest.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Oct 2016 #permalink

One of today's funnier news photos: http://shanghaiist.com/2016/10/13/samsung_recall.php

I guess it's not that funny if you bought one of the phones, complained, had been issued with a replacement device, and then noticed the replacement device emitting sparks and smoke.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Oct 2016 #permalink

John@11: I'm not familiar with that song, so I don't know if he's using it metaphorically, but Highway 61 is an actual highway. At the time US 61 (to give it its official name) ran from the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota (a short distance south of Thunder Bay, Ontario) to New Orleans, passing near but not through the town where Dylan grew up. It has since been truncated to the northern Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs (the section between there and Duluth was replaced with a motorway, I-35). From the Minneapolis/St. Paul area southward it follows the Mississippi River.

My first introduction to Dylan's work was via Paul Simon's parody, "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)". The song includes the following line of prose:

He's so unhip, if you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas, whoever he was. The man ain't got no culcha.

An oddity of my upbringing was that I learned who Dylan Thomas was before I learned who Bob Dylan was, so I completely misunderstood that line when I first heard it. (The Simon and Garfunkel album on which the song appeared was the first album I bought with my own money, and is the only album I have owned on vinyl, cassette, and CD.)

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 Oct 2016 #permalink

Eric@13 - I feel certain he was referring to US 61.

Yes, like you I was familiar with the life of Dylan Thomas and had read quite a bit of his poetry before I ever heard of Bob Dylan. But after I did, I have to admit he was very influential on my thinking at the time. He has always been deeply suspicious of concentrations of power, and I have read that he is an anarchist. When I was 17-18 I developed a very strong dislike of the class structure in Australia and disrespect for 'authority' (there is a class structure in Australia, despite what everyone will tell you, it is just more disguised than the class structure in England - I was a poor boy who attended a rich boy's school by virtue of winning a scholarship, so I got to feel the hard edge of 'class' personally on a daily basis, and I'm here to tell you it is real, and very deeply nasty) and Dylan's songs resonated with me at the time.

I don't know that I was ever actually an anarchist, although I had anarchic sympathies, but never in any violent sense, more just kind of disengagement with the power structures that operate within societies. I had definite Marxist tendencies at the time. I had read Marx by then, and had thought deeply about Marxism while spending weeks at a time from dawn to dusk driving in ever-decreasing circles on a tractor pulling a plough, but was skeptical that it could ever work in practice because of the infinite corruptibility of humans. I had also read Animal Farm. To say I was cynical about both the political power structure and social class structure in Australia at the time would be a major understatement, and still is. But I also didn't believe in holding demonstrations or any kind of 'activism'. I still don't. My attitude to anything I don't like has always been to just walk away from it and not engage. I did become a strong supporter of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who withdrew Australian troops from the Vietnam War, but he was a giant surrounded by a cabinet of clowns, fools and crooks. He is probably about the only politician I ever had any time for.

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

Eric: I would try to find you the song Highway 61 or any of the other tracks on the album Highway 61 Revisited, but it is hopeless - any time anyone posts that stuff on Youtube, it very quickly gets dragged off again due to copyright.

About the only thing I can find worth listening to is this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9EKqQWPjyo

Clips of his live performances are awful - his voice is now completely shot, plus he clearly doesn't give a damn. I'm not sure he ever did.

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

Headline (in English) in a German daily newspaper: How many lines must a man write down. :-)

Yes, Dylan has in common with Metallica that he takes copyright infringement seriously. His lyrics are easy to find on the web, though, not only but also at his own website.

I recently read that Apple and Amazon are trying to get streaming services to cost less than $10 a month, but that the record industry is a hindrance to getting prices this low. Have we really fallen this low? Have people forgotten that music is made by people? Copyright led to the democratization of art, because it allowed people to live from doing something like writing songs. The printing press was a great invention, but without copyright, the democratization of creativity would never have happened. (Before the printing press, there was no copyright, but it wasn't needed, because copies were so expensive that no-one could live from selling copies of his work. Creative people were supported by the rich, and of course who pays the piper calls the tune.)

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

I think he maybe takes it too seriously. If younger people (like Eric, for example) who have never heard some of his early work got a bit of exposure to it via the occasional Youtube clip, they might be tempted to buy the albums. As it is, the only way to hear Highway 61 Revisited is to buy it. OK, you can sample it online, but it's not quite the same thing, and neither is just reading the lyrics. You can't tell from the lyrics, for example, that Highway 61 has a mock police car siren playing all the way through it.

But it's his stuff, so his decision, and I respect that. But if I could access a bit of his early work via Youtube, I would be pushing it for him to people who had never heard it, at no charge.

More people don't cite my published papers because they can't even read them without first paying through the nose to see them. OK, they can find them in conference proceedings held in university libraries if they are tenacious enough. But there is such a thing as being too invisible.

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

Incidentally, he also doesn't like people buying his music online because he thinks the sound quality of MP3s is not good enough.

I might agree with him about the sound quality, but we're living in the 21st Century, for goodness sake. He's not exactly Chopin or Mozart - the quality of some of his early albums was frankly pretty awful - apparently Highway 61 Revisited deliberately so. How many people buy vinyl or even CDs any more? If I go to my local CD/DVD warehouse, they don't even stock his stuff. (I guess they might now, for a while, but otherwise he was a forgotten/ignored commodity.)

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

Of course, as a modern prophet, His Bobness foresaw the naysayers and his eventual win:

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win.

The times, they are a-changin’.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

I don't know if one can here clips of songs on Dylan's own website; might be worth checking out.

The "free advertising" is perhaps a valid argument, but in the end it should be the artist who decides. In the top 10 of things I despise are people who justify their copyright violations by saying they are helping the artist through free advertising. Even if it were true, it is still the artist's decision.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

"More people don’t cite my published papers because they can’t even read them without first paying through the nose to see them. OK, they can find them in conference proceedings held in university libraries if they are tenacious enough. But there is such a thing as being too invisible."

Despite some superficial similarities, open access in academia is a completely different issue. First, the research is paid for publicly. Secondly, academics don't earn money based on how many people buy their paper.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

"in the end it should be the artist who decides" - Agreed. I said that already - did you not see "But it’s his stuff, so his decision, and I respect that."??? You seem to have a problem with reading comprehension.

I'm not an academic.

Want to let us in on the other top 9 things you despise while you are doing your despising?

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

there is a class structure in Australia, despite what everyone will tell you, it is just more disguised than the class structure in England

The same is true of the US, and is a big part of why Donald Trump is not already in jail, nor are most of the principal figures from Wall Street who caused the 2008 financial crisis.

But in the end, completely disengaging from the system is not an option for most people, especially when the system in question is the government of a superpower. I've tried it, but I find that with politicians there are degrees of bad. One major party in the US is working, however imperfectly, to push the system in directions that I mostly but not entirely agree with. The other is working to push the system in directions that I find entirely disagreeable. So of course I tend to vote for the former party's candidates, rather than let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And certainly when you have a major party US presidential candidate who speaks of conspiracies of international bankers, that should be setting off alarm bells--the historical precedents here include a certain Austrian expatriate in Weimar Germany.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

But there is such a thing as being too invisible.

I can agree with that statement. Being affiliated with a university, I have access to most of the journals of relevance to my work (not necessarily the ones you published in, since you are in a completely different field), so obtaining papers is usually not a problem for me. But in some cases there are conference proceedings volumes that were distributed only to people who actually attended the conference, and were never made available for sale to university libraries. I will not cite such papers, even if reviewers request that I do, because it would be an implicit and incorrect claim that I have read the paper.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Oct 2016 #permalink

Eric@24 - I agree with the principle of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was going to the Chinese leadership cap in hand, imploring them to buy more US Treasury Bonds to help America climb out of the gigantic hole they had dug for themselves. But by 2011, her attitude to China had changed completely. Now, they see her as anything but 'good'. And China is not willing to be dominated, not again.
http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2027847/why-hillary-clin…

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Oct 2016 #permalink

Meanwhile, you have Trump; Australia has Hanson:
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/2019616/20-years-afte…

20 years ago she warned that Australia was being swamped by Asians. She didn't mention what kind of Asians (there's a very wide variety to choose from), so we have to assume she was referring to East, South-east and South Asians. In the ensuing 20 years, using the above definition of Asian, the Asian population of Australia has shot up from 2% to the terrifying heights of 4%. Pretty threatening, isn't it? 4%.

Now, 20 years on (and after a stay in prison) Hanson is warning that Australia is being swamped by Mulsims. The total Muslim population of Australia is 2.2%. Pretty threatening, isn't it? 2.2%. The fastest growing religion in Australia - Islam? No, actually it's Hinduism. She hasn't mentioned anything about being swamped by Hindus.

She is also warning about Chinese investment in Australia, buying up the land and resources. What do the actual data show - the biggest foreign investment in Australia, buying up resources and farmland comes from...wait for it...this is a real shocker - the biggest foreign investment comes from Britain. Second highest is American. China comes waaay down the list. Even Japanese investment in Australia is higher than Chinese investment. But no, it's the Chinese investment we really need to worry about.

Why? Well, obviously, because it's an 'oppressive Communist regime'. Pauline Hanson has never been to China in her life. I have been to Mainland China many, many times, starting in 1982, and I never once felt in any way oppressed. I live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and, as far as it affects me personally, it is the most free, least oppressive place I have ever been. I even get to vote in fully democratic one-person one-vote elections for Members of the Legislative Council, and I did vote, twice, when there was a politician in Hong Kong I considered worth voting for - I needn't have bothered, she won easily won both times, the second time in a landslide. Sadly, she subsequently quit politics, so I no longer vote, because there is no longer anyone of a stature I consider worth voting for. But the fact remains that I can if I want to. And physically, it is by far the safest place I have ever lived. By any measure, Hong Kong has very low crime rates, far lower than any Australian city.

I have felt oppressed in plenty of places. I definitely felt oppressed in Brazil - I learned from experience just to never go out on the street. I feel oppressed in Australia, the country of my birth, because of the hugely oppressive bureaucracy, and the level of public aggression that is on display everywhere.

You will often see the Australian Government claim that Australia is the 'world's most successful multi-cultural society'. Well, point one, it's not - that's absolute bullshit. Australia remains overwhelmingly white Anglo (as the census data very clearly show), and people of other cultures are expected to 'assimilate', while being subjected to constant, daily micro-aggressive racism, which periodically bursts out into open, direct and aggressive racism. Try speaking to your family in Cantonese in any public place, and see what reaction you get - it's most likely that you will be told very aggressively to shut up, speak English (although Australia actually has no official language - it is just English by default), and that if you don't like the way things are in Australia, then fuck off back to where you came from (despite the fact that you and all of your family members may be Australian citizens). (Interesting point here - British subjects who become eligible for permanent residency in Australia are not mandatorily required to become Australian citizens, so most of them never do; the only other people for whom that option is available are New Zealanders).

Point 2 - how do you measure 'success in multi-culturalism'? How do you measure it? Answer: you can't. There is no 'measure' of 'success' in 'being multi-cultural'. So, if you can't measure it, how can the Australian Government claim that Australia is the most successful at it? It's not. It's bullshit. It's Australian Government propaganda. People who are visibly 'foreigners' by virtue of their skin colour, facial features or other physical traits learn very quickly to keep their heads down and not answer back to the dominant of 'real Australian' majority, where 'real Australian' means Anglo and even includes British nationals who never bother to take Australian citizenship.

Australia is a very dominantly white Anglo country, and that is not going to change any time soon, Hanson or no Hanson.

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Oct 2016 #permalink

Excellent piece by John Hawks: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/metascience/framing/neandertal-teeth…

Things are not good or bad. They just are what they are. Humans are never 'perfectly' adapted.

Moderately intelligent people should be able to understand that modern humans are going through a process of adaptation to an agricultural diet, some better than others (no one should be surprised to learn, for example, that Australian Aboriginal people do really badly on a modern agricultural diet, given that they have only had 200 years or so to adapt. Fewer people might be aware that South Asians have particularly high rates of Type 2 Diabetes, and higher body fat % than most other geographic populations - I'm talking whole population, obviously; severe malnutrition and starvation have a way of lowering body fat %).

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Oct 2016 #permalink

I have felt oppressed in plenty of places. I definitely felt oppressed in Brazil – I learned from experience just to never go out on the street. I feel oppressed in Australia, the country of my birth, because of the hugely oppressive bureaucracy, and the level of public aggression that is on display everywhere.

I can understand your feeling that way about Brazil. Gated compounds are the norm there. I spent most of my time in Manaus, which is apparently not as bad as Rio or São Paulo--I managed to get away from the hotel a few times, with groups that included native Portuguese speakers (I myself was limited to portunhol). But crime is a definite concern there.

As for the US, these days I often find small towns--especially towns with no visible means of economic support--scarier than big cities. Heroin is a serious problem in rural New England. Other parts of the US have to worry about meth. Add in American gun culture, which is far more prevalent in rural areas than big cities. Some of that is legitimate--people go hunting during deer season, and so forth--but some people out there are excessively paranoid.

This weekend I did a "leaf peeping" drive, including a stretch in Maine, from Upton in the northwestern part of the state, south to Portland, and then by motorway back into New Hampshire. Because of the upcoming election, many political signs are on display along the highways. Most of these were for local candidates I would not have heard of, but some were for Presidential candidates, and some were for state ballot questions. I think I saw one Clinton sign in the entire stretch from Upton to Poland (yes, that's a town in Maine, near Norway and Paris); most of the Presidential candidate signs were Trump signs. I also noticed that all of the people along that stretch of road who were expressing opinions on Question 3 were opposed. What is Question 3, I hear you ask. I found out once I got into the county that includes Portland and started to see Yes on 3 signs (as well as respectable numbers of Clinton signs): it concerns background checks on firearms purchases. Yes, this is actually a controversial issue in parts of the US, and the correlation between those opposed to background checks and people expressing support for Trump was striking. Suffice to say, I won't be spending my tourist dollars in Oxford County, Maine, in the foreseeable future.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 Oct 2016 #permalink

Birger@34 - This is truly weird - the evil clown thing is also sweeping Australia.

By John Massey (not verified) on 17 Oct 2016 #permalink

Watched the 2013 film The East, about an eco-terrorist group. Disturbing film. Yes, folks, I know the world is full of bad people doing bad things, but the only ethical way to oppose them is within the legal framework. The laws exist to protect the people (or should). If you don't agree with the law, or if it is not serving its purpose, then the answer is not to put yourself outside the law - that makes you just as bad as the bad people, or worse. There are proper processes in place to seek to change the law.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Indeed. If my political fellows allow themselves to break the law, then how can we complain when fucking Nazis break the law?

Of course, this requires your country to have a government subject to the rule of law... the suffragettes were regarded as terrorists because lawful roads to change were closed to them.
ANC also gave up on working inside the law after the Sharpeville massacre.
Factoid: The Swedish conservative party regarded the ANC as terrorists as late as the 1980s.
Factoid 2: A guy from a Puerto Rican independence movement has been in USA prison for 35 years. Neither he nor his colleagues killed anybody.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Robot explorers all set for Mars tryst: ESA http://phys.org/news/2016-10-robot-explorers-mars-tryst-esa.html The lander will enter the atmosphere at 1442 GMT Wednesday and touch down six minutes later near the Martian equator.
-- -- -- --
BTW the Chinese have recently sent up taikonauts for a long mission in an experimental space station.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

I believe that involvement with Puerto Rican independence, besides being politically silly, constitutes high treason from the US perspective.

I watched satellite images of the western Pacific. A hurricane just crashed head-on into Hainan. A second hurricane is east of the Philippines and heading in the same general direction. Since hurricane forecasting is inaccurate, it is uncomfortably close to Hong Kong...

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Re. treason. From the US perspective, the Philippine independence movement a century ago is called "the Filipino uprising". It was one of the nastiest military operations of US history, on a par with Viet Nam and the Indian wars.
It inspired Kipling to write his poem defending "the White man's burden" disciplining natives "half devil and half child".

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Speaking of the Philippines; the current kook was elected president as a reaction against the utterly corrupt establishment. The similarities with Trump and the distrust of "establishment politicians" are obvious.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Philippines: 101 million people on 300 000 sqkm.

Puerto Rico: 4 million people on 9 000 sqkm.

So if we're going to establish an independent state, then the Philippines look considerably more viable.

On that basis, Singapore looks pretty shaky.

But you're right, of course.

Birger@41 - Hey, tell me about it! Just got sideswiped by the first tropical cyclone, while being pummelled from the other direction by a strong NE monsoon, and now we have the second tropical cyclone heading for us.

I went outside to check on the drainage, and the wind gusts were so strong I couldn't walk against them - so I had to just brace myself and stand there in the heavy rain that was tearing sideways into me until the gust died down enough for me to move under cover.

Meanwhile, my wife went out shopping. Well, of course she did. They build them tough in Shandong Province.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

OK, the last line was made up. But not the actual meeting. Trump meditating... about Mein Kampf?

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

For goodness sake, don't tell Pauline Hanson about the Hindus.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

We don't need suffragettes any more, Birger - we have the Internet. We the people can expose crooks any time we like.

When I started watching this guy, I thought he was a clown. But give him a chance to get warmed up - the good stuff comes towards the end:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pse3LVp8Nwc

Obey the rule of law - it's the only ethical basis for a just society. Without it, you have the rule of man, and China now knows what that results in. Hence the ascendance of Mr Xi.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Birger@41 - a note on Tropical Cyclones. These are known as Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Cyclones in the Indian Ocean, and Typhoons in the Pacific Ocean, but they are all the same thing. It is noticeable that in recent years the Hong Kong Observatory has scrapped referring to them generically as Typhoons and has been using the more correct term Tropical Cyclones instead (although the public warning signals are still couched in terms of Typhoon Warning Signals, I suppose due to public familiarity with the hierarchy of simple warning signals).

Sanya, on the southern-most tip of Hainan Island, is only 600 km from Hong Kong, and is only a 45 minute air flight take-off to landing from HKIA to Sanya International Airport. Tropical Cyclones typically have a wide circulation around the centre. So when the centre of Tropical Cyclone SARIKA hit about the latitudinal mid-point of Hainan Island, it was only 500 km from Hong Kong, and so we were still fairly hard hit by winds and rain in the outer circulation bands. Having the arrival of a strong pulse of the north-easterly monsoon (typically also exhibiting high wind velocities) simultaneously made for very chaotic wind patterns affecting Hong Kong, and wind (and rain) conditions in parts of Hong Kong yesterday were severe.

It is still raining heavily today, but wind conditions have stabilised with the weakening of SARIKA as it has made landfall on the Chinese Mainland, about 200 km north of Hanoi. Once Tropical Cyclones make landfall they tend to weaken pretty rapidly because they are driven by high sea surface temperatures.

However, as you have noted, another Tropical Cyclone, HAIMA, is forecast to cross northern Luzon in the Philippines at 8.00 am tomorrow 20 October Hong Kong Time (GMT+8), and then the forecast track shows it making just about a dead hit on Hong Kong some time on 21 October. As you noted, accurate track prediction is notoriously difficult, but is much improved now with better models, and they provide a graphic of the possible error radius with each point plotted on the forecast track. The error radius obviously increases the further ahead they are forecasting that particular track point.

But even given the maximum prediction error, the centre of HAIMA will come close enough to Hong Kong that we will certainly be adversely affected by it. The size of the storm in terms of its circulation radius makes that a certainty. How badly affected will depend on how much it intensifies after it passes across Luzon. Plus we still have the complication that it will be moving in directly opposite to the continuing NE monsoon, so winds are again likely to be chaotic, and heavy rain is always a certainty with Tropical Cyclones (although I do have a strong recollection of one that made a direct hit on Hong Kong in 1979, a very intense, fast moving storm, that was absolutely bone dry - no rain at all - but in my experience storms of that type are an extreme rarity - that was a truly scary experience, with our building swaying alarmingly in the wind (we were only on the 7th floor) and with large mature trees being uprooted by the wind, and I recall sitting in my living room watching these large trees airborne and being blown past my window; I was waiting for one of them to come straight in through the window at me, but fortunately none did; but it took weeks to clear all of the fallen trees off the roads before the roads could be re-opened to traffic.)

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Meant to add - the satellite photos give you a clear indication of where the outer cloud bands of the Tropical Cyclones reach to, so you get a very clear indication of the large area that they cover. Anywhere within the outer rain bands will be hit by something.

Hurricanes are bloody big things, right? They cover a very large area. Not like tornadoes - totally different.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

A research team in Umeå led by Fredrik Almqvist has found a chemical that will help against antibiotics-resistent tuberculosis.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
BTW the reason I fear Mr Xi is, he has eliminated all competition and can do pretty much whatever he wants, including introducing rubber-stamp laws to justify whatever he wants.
Even if he has been relatively benign so far, the same could be said about Erdogan the first ten years. Or the young Nero.
Even Mussolini did not become Mussolini until he had eliminated all traces of opposition. Fear the powerful...unless they are distracted by powerful rivals.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

Mr Xi has a constitutionally dictated limited term in office. Your suggestion that he can just wipe that away with a rubber stamp is frankly fatuous, Birger, and reveals that you have zero understanding of how government in China works. A primary school child could be expected to display a better understanding than that.

And in my view, he has been a lot more than just relatively benign. My concern about Mr Xi is that he will not get to stay in office long enough to see all of his reforms through.

I don't mean to be insulting, but when you just fling around pointless banalities, it's neither constructive nor instructive. And trying to compare Xi to Nero or Mussolini is just silly. And he's far smarter and more benign than Erdogan ever was or will be.

If you need someone to fear, I suggest you direct your attention to the American presidential election, and leave Mr Xi to get on with his much needed clearing out of entrenched high level corruption in the Chinese bureaucracy and military.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

Xi is not now a threat.
In my personal experience I have seen how hidden flaws manifest when people think they can act without consequences. This has made me either "cynical" or "realistic".

A co-worker of mine embezzled 6 million skr (0.8 million $) because she found a loophole in the computer system, and because there was not enough control systems. She was a nice person but in the absence of control the temptation got too strong.

People in politics tend to be self-assured and will eventually stretch the rules if they find it convenient. This is not because they are evil, but because of human nature.
A few are natural saints but they are a minority.

"And he’s far smarter and more benign"
Yes, you don't make it to the top of China without being smart.
As for benign leaders, we have some Swedish politicians that were regarded very highly but were re-evaluated after their death when facts seeped out.. (cough Bofors arms smuggling cough) (illegal surveillance of political groups)

My opinions are mostly based on the behaviour of Swedish people, whom I assume to be similar to people all over the world.
-- -- -- -- -- --
Regarding typhoons; the Philippines has really been screwed over by the gods. In the absence of typhoons they get earthquakes/tsunamis, topped by volcanic eruptions.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

I believe that involvement with Puerto Rican independence, besides being politically silly, constitutes high treason from the US perspective.

Treason in the US is narrowly defined by Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Puerto Rican independence is unlikely to qualify, as long as there was no violence involved.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

Re: Typhoon Haima

The latest advisory for this, or any other tropical cyclone, is available from Weather Underground. As I type this, the 1500Z advisory is current. The center of the storm is approaching the Philippines, and winds of 34 knots or higher (the threshold for tropical storm force) are expected to be felt as much as 255 nautical miles (more than 400 km) from the center of the storm. Interaction with land in the Philippines, as well as wind shear due to the northeast monsoon, are expected to weaken the storm significantly by the time it makes landfall in China. After that, it will become an extratropical cyclone, with potential to affect the northeast Pacific coastline (somewhere between Alaska and Oregon) a week or so later.

Wind radii tend to be larger on the right-hand side of the storm. (For southern hemisphere cyclones, it would be on the left.) This is because the winds due to rotation about the center add to the storm's forward speed.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

You might not want to rely on the Weather Underground. The Hong Kong Observatory are much better. Of course, they don't care what happens to Alaska and Oregon.

By the time HAIMA hits Hong Kong on Friday, it will still have sustained wind speeds near the centre of 130 kph. That's sustained wind speeds, which means much stronger wind gusts.

It's currently classified as a Super Typhoon, with sustained wind speeds of 210 kph near the centre. Northern Luzon is really going to have a bad time. This will kill people, no question.

"My opinions are mostly based on the behaviour of Swedish people, whom I assume to be similar to people all over the world." Wrong assumption. Nowhere close.

By John Massey (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

@John: The advisories carried by the Weather Underground for Western Pacific tropical cyclones are the official Joint Typhoon Warning Center advisories. These advisories aren't as comprehensive as what the NHC provides for similar storms in the Atlantic and Eastern/Central Pacific, probably because the only US territories in the Western Pacific are Guam and American Samoa, but perhaps also because warning terminology in the Western Pacific is not standardized, while every country potentially affected by Atlantic or Eastern/Central Pacific tropical cyclones uses the same terms (in some cases, translated to the local language) with the same definitions. I don't know what the Philippine or Hong Kong or Japanese equivalent of a hurricane warning would be (or even if there is a single equivalent).

For basins covered by the National Hurricane Center, in addition to advisories similar to what the JTWC issues, the advisories state what areas are under watches and warnings, the changes to those watches and warnings since the last advisory, and a wind probability forecast (the probability that sustained winds above 34, 50, or 64 knots--the thresholds for tropical storm, strong tropical storm, and hurricane force, respectively--will occur at the listed locations). For hurricanes threatening land, there are also estimates of storm surge heights (not including waves)--this is more important along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US because most of these coasts have little in the way of topographical relief (thus a hurricane hitting Miami will tend to produce a higher surge than an equivalent typhoon hitting Hong Kong).

No doubt the Hong Kong Observatory would have better information specific to Hong Kong. I don't know how much detail they would provide about a cyclone when Hong Kong is outside the five-day cone of uncertainty.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

The common terminology used is here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon

It was a Super Typhoon which flattened Guam on 8 December 2002.

HAIMA is currently labelled by HK as a Super Typhoon, predicted to have diminished to a Severe Typhoon when it hits or passes close to the east of HK tomorrow.

HK has its own local warning system for tropical cyclones likely to affect HK, and for airlines operating out of HKIA and shipping operating in the region. Outside of that, HK defers to: http://severe.worldweather.wmo.int/

Because of the topography in HK, most urban development has been on areas of flat land reclaimed from the sea which, contrary to your expectation, are potentially vulnerable to storm surge. Most of the protective seawalls and reclamation heights have been built to what is thought to be a sufficient height, but some of the older, lower lying areas are particularly vulnerable.

In 1937, the storm surge from a Typhoon killed more than 10,000 people in HK, which exceeds fatalities from any Hurricane affecting the USA that I can find by a long way. Part of the reason for that was that, at that time, HK had a large population of people who lived on board boats:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanka_people

Subsequent to that event, HK built a whole series of 'typhoon shelters' around the coastal areas where boats could go for safe anchorage during storm surges.

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

And in 1937 maybe there were many refugees in Hong Kong? Temporary structures do not survive typhoons.

By birgerJohansson (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

Birger@63 - Not so much. There were some people in HK in 1937 who had decanted from Shanghai ahead of the Japanese invasion, but they were mostly wealthy folks who could afford to get out and shift their centre of operations from Shanghai to HK. Of course, that backfired badly when the Japanese attacked HK at precisely the same time that they launched the attack on Pearl Harbour.

The disastrous 1937 event in HK is not well known. The reason for that is that, after the Japanese occupied HK, they destroyed all of the official records. So the only records that existed of the event were reports of the event in copies of HK English language newspapers which had been archived in the UK. So detailed official records of the event are not available - all destroyed.

A lot of the detail of HK pre-war history was lost due to the actions of the Japanese occupiers. Records of land ownership and all sorts of other important things. The only stuff that survived was in copies of records that had been sent to the British foreign office or wherever.

In fact, during the Japanese occupation of HK, there was a reverse flow of people out of HK back into the Mainland, due to the critical shortage of food and other essentials in HK, not to mention the widespread rape and murder of civilians characteristic of anywhere the Japanese occupied.

No, the real flood of poor/dispossessed refugees and the commencement of the flimsy hillside squatter villages started in ernest in 1948.

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

I can feel HAIMA drawing close - the air pressure is plummeting, and the air quality has turned to crap. Should be closest to HK about 2.00 pm (GMT+8) tomorrow, based on the latest projection. At this point, it's looking like a direct hit or close near miss to the east, with sustained wind speeds near the centre of 140 kph.

So, I'm expecting a big storm surge - that's what we get when a big one side-swipes us on the eastern side. That's what happened in 1937.

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

FUUUCK! Nearly dead-on.The typhoon is only just so offset that the "eye" of the storm will miss HK, so you do not even get the benefit of that brief reduction in intensity..

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

Yikes, right within the cone of uncertainty. A small deviation to the left of the forecast track will put you in the right-hand eyewall, which is the strongest part of the storm. Stay safe.

There might be some peculiarities to the topography of the Hong Kong region, but in most places in the Northern Hemisphere the strongest storm surge is just to the right of the eye--in your case, a slight miss to the west.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

In 1937, the storm surge from a Typhoon killed more than 10,000 people in HK, which exceeds fatalities from any Hurricane affecting the USA that I can find by a long way.

The deadliest weather disaster of any kind in the US was the 1900 Galveston hurricane, which killed between 6000 and 12,000 people (exact numbers aren't known). At the time, Galveston was one of the largest cities in Texas, but its population was only about 36,000. After the hurricane, Houston took over the role of economic center for southeast Texas.

Part of what happened in Galveston was a matter of national pride between weather services. The US Weather Bureau forecasters predicted that the storm, which had just crossed Cuba, would recurve across Florida and into the open Atlantic. Cuba's weather forecasters predicted, correctly, that the storm was headed directly for Texas. The Americans ignored the Cuban reports.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

Eric, yes, you are spot on - there is a topographic feature on the eastern side of the mainland part of HK which greatly exacerbates the storm surge condition for a typhoon which passes just to the east of HK: a very deep indentation in the coastline called the Tolo Channel. HK's largest river feeds directly into the top of the channel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1937_Great_Hong_Kong_typhoon

With the approach of the storm in 1937, a lot of the boat people moved their boats inside the channel for protection. Unfortunately the storm passed just to the east, and the storm surge was pushed up into the channel and up the river, which had the effect of greatly increasing the height of the surge. The surge wiped out the (then) villages of Shatin and Taipo, and swamped a lot of the boats. Then when the water rushed out of the channel again, a lot of the boats were dragged out to sea and the people on them were lost.

I live right next to that river, just about right where it flows into the head of the channel, so if we get any decent surge from this storm, I'll have a ring side seat to watch it.

I'm watching the river - nothing much yet, except the tide is coming in, but it's too early to call - still only about 9.30 am HKT. The storm should be closest around midday. Starting to get some fairly strong wind gusts now.

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

I think it's going to pass too far to the east to give us too much trouble, but we'll see.

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

Tide is going out again.

*yawn*

By John Massey (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

Storm still has sustained winds near the centre of 145 km/hour, but the centre is now 130 km ENE of HK and about to cross the coast of Guangdong, after which it should start to weaken rapidly.

Too far away to cause any major problems in HK. Looks like we dodged a bullet with this one. It's still too rough outside to go out. But everything is shut down, so I'm not expecting any substantial damage, aside from quite a few trees blown over.

The airport should start getting back to normal this evening. I've seen a few flights go over, so it hasn't actually closed, it's just been operating on a limited schedule.

So - close, but pretty much a non-event.

By John Massey (not verified) on 21 Oct 2016 #permalink

It made landfall at Shanwei, so they will be getting hammered.

By John Massey (not verified) on 21 Oct 2016 #permalink

HK casualty list: One man dead from head injuries, one woman injured with head injuries, 200 trees down (with major roads blocked by fallen trees), and the Marine Police had to rescue some 25 year old expatriate moron who thought it would be loads of jolly fun to go out in the storm in his kayak.

There is never any shortage of idiot 'thrill seekers' who have no idea how hazardous tropical cyclone conditions are, and succeed only in putting at unnecessary risk the people whose job it is to go out and rescue them.

I imagine northern Luzon and Shanwei suffered worse.

By John Massey (not verified) on 21 Oct 2016 #permalink

740 flights to/from HKIA cancelled or delayed.

And 'business leaders' are bleating because putting HK in total lockdown for a day cost HK$5 billion. Hey, tough luck. I never notice 'business leaders' volunteering for safety/rescue duties during tropical storms.

The only news I have seen from the Philippines is "several people dead." I can imagine.

By John Massey (not verified) on 21 Oct 2016 #permalink