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”.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

79 thoughts on “October Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. @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.


  9. The common terminology used is here:

    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:

    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.


  10. 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.


  11. 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.


  12. 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..


  13. 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.


  14. 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.


  15. 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.


    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.


  16. 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.


  17. 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.


  18. 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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: