Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Monday, December 28, 2015

While in Shanghai

My new favourite place to live, once I work out a way to afford it . . .

Waterfront and the Bund at night.

Night time bird magnets.

A look at the "bottle opener" by night.

Part of the French Quarter at night. 

Yes, I did actually go out during the day . . . sometimes.

The tunnel under the river - a modern example of psychetecture.

I am relieved to discover that the comic in the above link actually existed in the 1980s, and isn't a false memory.

 I eat Chinese food most of the time, but the alternative selections in Zhengzhou are limited and many times difficult to reach. Shanghai was loaded with alternatives.

Shanghai isn't all modern. A lot of the old city can be seen from the elevated train lines, and in a few popular tourist spots, including the Shanyin Road Cultural area, which is now an antique market. It was the home of several Communist leaders in the 1920s.

If you happen to be on the marriage market, perhaps you can find your match in the People's Park. It is normally of considerable size, but the number of ads swelled considerably during the holiday in October. The ads are rather specific in terms of the desired characteristics of potential mates, and there were a few looking specifically for foreigners.

We visited the Jewish refugee museum. In the late 1930s, Shanghai permitted some 30,000 Jewish refugees from Europe. Most of them left during the chaos of the civil war, after WW2 ended.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

On the cost of living in China

Merry Christmas all.

It's the damndest thing. I went to Shanghai a couple of months ago for a short visit, and just never got back into the swing of posting.

I'm not sure what this represents. An igloo with a lamb inside? With Christmas presents?

Today, I thought I would cover some details about the cost of living in China. I took the above picture of the lamb today just outside a local shopping mall, where I often buy groceries.

Here's today's haul.

Some pumpkin, broccoli, bananas, three oranges, three apples, and a Peking duck kit. Total cost is between $5 and $6 (all prices US). The biggest price hit was for the Peking duck, but you have to splurge once in awhile.

It is cheap to cook your own, but on the other hand, you can go out and buy a bowl of dumplings in soup for about a buck. Most times when I go out to eat, I'll pay about $3. If you need an emergency snack, you can buy five fried quail eggs on a stick in a sweet chili sauce for 30 cents. for a real treat, they have this type of candied fruit which is similar to an apple, which you can get candied and stuffed with walnuts for about 65 cents. I was racking my brains trying to think of something I could buy in Canada in this price range, but unless there are still candy machines that take quarters, you are probably SOL. 

Good local meals cost between $5 and $10, and of course you can buy a good western type of meal for roughly the same price as at home.

I currently make about $3000 per month, which is after taxes, and my apartment is taken care of, meaning my primary expenses are food and alcohol (actually, just alcohol). Last year I paid $2/month for my cellphone plan, but it was a rudimentary cellphone. This year I moved up to a smart phone, and am scandalized that I have to pay about $20 every couple of months. Admittedly, I don't use a lot of bandwidth, as I only use WeChat to communicate with people at work.

Short taxi rides cost about $1.50, and the bus costs about 12 cents. I think there is a way to obtain transfers, but if I ever need to switch to another bus, I have just been paying the extra 12 cents.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shang Dynasty ruins at Yin Xu

Anyang was one of the earliest imperial capitals in what is now China. Ruins from the Shang Dynasty are on display at the Yin Xu site.

Water drainage pipes.

Cast of bones in mass grave site.

Fragments of inscribed tortoise shell used in augury.

Inscribed tortoise shells and ox scapula are abundant at this site.

Grave site under glass at Yin Xu. I doubt this is a real grave site as opposed to a reconstruction--but on the other hand, this is China we are talking about.

Other gravesites included chariots, horses, and attendants.

Some of the earliest examples of writing that can be traced to modern Chinese appear on ox scapula and tortoise shells.

Grave goods.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Arctic sea ice extent 2015

Arctic sea ice still appears to be trending downwards.

This chart is a little different over last year's, as TPTB have re-evaluated some past years' extent of sea ice, and found the previous estimates wanting. Almost every value has declined somewhat. The updated values have been added into the analyses below. I have no comment on the updates or the methodology, which is available here.

The question at issue is whether the change we are observing is a secular trend towards zero (in-line with global warming arguments) or part of a larger cycle, in which sea ice extent may eventually return to the heights of the late 1970s.

Many natural systems (and some unnatural ones) are characterized by multistability, whereby there are more than one equilibrium within a system for a given set of boundary conditions. Multistable systems show long periods of relative stability about an area of phase space, punctuated by brief, rapid shifts to alternative long-term behaviours.

The phase space portrait projected above into two dimensions has been interpreted as representing a system that has "switched" from one metastable mode of operation to another. The existence of different modes of operation is tied to the presence of both negative and positive feedbacks within the system. The interpretation is based on empirical data, not on models.

Unfortunately we don't have enough data to be confident of the interpretation. If we had a longer record, we might be able to infer multistability--but ice extent records prior to the advent of continuous satellite monitoring are difficult to compare with more recent records. Unless some proxy record is discovered, we will just have to wait.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Zhengdong New District is not a ghost city

Apparently, a couple of years ago, 60 Minutes did a documentary on one of China's largest ghost cities--the new business district in eastern Zhengzhou. So let's go take a look and see how this ghost city is getting along.

I would have written about this before, but I had no idea that there were people who thought this was a ghost city. It's because I go there fairly often, mainly for the restaurants, and also for the art market.

Jade. This one could be yours for the price of a small house. In Toronto.

In the spring there was a significant pottery exhibit in the art market.

Brunch at London Glo, in the new business district.

A bit disappointing I haven't found time for the art gallery yet. Or the opera house. Or the Symphony. All of which look a bit like striped easter eggs.

The area is huge. Except for me, everyone, and I mean everyone, goes around by car.

The Soyoo Joy Club. I had to manoeuver through a parking lot full of high-end cars to take this. I was a bit worried at what might be inside.

Farther east, as I neared the east train station, I began to find skyscrapers that were still under construction.

Glorious skyscrapers, surrounded by merchants trying to eke out a living, selling 75-cent meals. Just like in Blade Runner!