All wordy today

And for Rhi, the Snowboarding Joke:

From the Eddie:

Ummahhhahhho. Uh, oh yeah, oh yeah! I’m, uh, I’m an action transvestite, really, you know, umm, as well a – oh – actually, as well as being an executive transvestite, I’m an action transvestite! Cause it’s running, jumping, climbing tree, you know. So I went, uh, snowboarding when I was in Aspen. And – and – and you look cool, when you snowboard, you just look cool, you know? You cannot but look cool cause you’re nailed to a fucking plank of wood. As long as you’re vertical, you’re going, “Hey, yes.” Shhhh, shhhh. And you look – uh – skiing, you can be kinda wuuhhahhhuhhchhshuhhh. There’s a lot of that stuff. But this is just nrrrrnnn. And uh, and th – there”s only two positions in snowboarding. One is looking cool; the second is DEAD! Right? Pow! So I was looking cool and I was going 50, 60 thousand miles an hour!

And… Cause you have no idea! The police never pull you over. They never, “Whooowhooo, whooowhooo, whooowhooo. Shhhhh.” “Ah, fuckinell. Nrrr.” “Shhhhh.” Cause the police need to be able to walk up to you in that kind of condescending way. “Ok, sonny Jim, what do you think you’re doing, eh?” You know, and they can’t do that on a snowboard because they have to go… “Your taillight’s out, and uh, and uh, you’ve got no, uh, knees.” So anyway, uh, that didn’t happen, that didn’t happen. No, I was just going fast, and I fell, and I smashed my head, and…my head was fine. But my neck went, “Ohh, no. Oooh, no, thank you.”


Second part of the editorial from the RSNZ newsletter

(Part two of a two part series, last part here)

Last week I reported on research that suggests abrupt climate changes could be caused by shutdown of the ocean flows that move heat around the globe. Other sources of abrupt climate change could include release of the potent greenhouse gas methane from undersea methane clathrates, and ice sheet collapses. Fossil records make it clear that these large climate changes have occurred many times in the past. The effect of these abrupt events could be sufficiently large to be difficult to adapt to, not just in terms of temperature changes, but also sea level rises of several metres, or significant changes in precipitation.

The thresholds for these events are unknown. The interaction between greenhouse gas forcing and these abrupt changes is also unknown. Professor Bob Carter’s report presenting the opinions on climate change of six Australian researchers points out that the global climate has always been variable and that events of this kind have happened without human causes. However, some researchers suggest that global warming of two to four degrees Celsius could put us over these thresholds.

Policy-makers would most like climatologists to be able to make statements along the lines of “if our emissions are X, then there is a Y% chance of Z amount of climate change happening”. We’re starting to reach this point with non-abrupt climate change. Running ensembles of many similar models helps us to predict the likelihood of particular climate change scenarios. However, the possibility of abrupt changes limits our ability to make these kinds of statements, because we don’t know enough about the thresholds.

What should be our response to discovery of the large uncertainty about potential climate change? Our answer depends on what we think of the precautionary principle. How much precaution is necessary, i.e. are we willing to risk Y% chance of these large impact events? How do we decide the trade-off between the present costs of avoiding these events versus the potential future costs of adapting to them? Similarly, should we should we base our plans on achievable limits to green house gas emissions, or on what is acceptable in terms of damage from climate change?

These questions should be informed by the best scientific evidence. However, ultimately they must be determined at the political level, not the scientific one.

So basically, if scientists say “OMG we’re all going to be shafted with a chainsaw unless we drive more fuel efficient cars”, and everybody else says “yeah, well I like my SUV, and the chainsaw is happening tomorrow, not today, so bollocks, I’m gonna barbeque a polar bear”, then the scientists have done their best and can do no more as scientists. Ultimately it comes down to values, and our ruling value is that Hummers Rule!

You’re Canada!
People make fun of you a lot, but they’re stupid because you’ve
got a much better life than they do.  In fact, they’re probably just jealous.
 You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not
dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and
others.  If it weren’t for your weird affection for ice hockey, you’d be
the perfect person.

the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Hey, what’s wrong with hockey? How else am I going to sublimate and repurpose my secret desires to punch people in the face for not being me?

And in other news, after much begging, I get to attend tutorials now.
*feels pleased for having increased his workload*

*comes to senses, slaps self, gets tea*

My editorial from the RSNZ newsletter from last week

In a recent talk at NIWA, Professor Stefan Rahmstorf pointed out that abrupt climate changes have caused local average temperatures to change by up to ten degrees Celsius. Ice core records show that 23 sudden changes have occurred over the last 110,000 years and they have happened in only a few decades.

The suspected mechanism for these shifts is the stopping and starting of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic. This is part of a global conveyor belt of water that is driven by density and salinity changes in the Nordic seas due to surface cooling and addition of freshwater from melting ice, rain and runoff from land. This conveyor belt moves vast amounts of heat around the globe, having large influences at regional levels. It is currently responsible for Spain having a hotter climate than NZ, despite both being at similar latitudes.

The processes that drive this flow are non-linear and difficult to measure and experimental evidence about trends in these ocean flows is limited. Hence it is not known how much human-induced climate change would risk a halting of this flow.

One area of uncertainty is the effect of changes in the Southern Pacific and Antarctic climate. Increasing amounts of fresh meltwater being added to the Antarctic Ocean may or may not have an effect on this global conveyor belt. Right now, we simply don’t know, so we can’t say if increased melting of Antarctic ice sheets will trigger these surprises. But it does give us a guide to where New Zealand’s research expertise can be applied.

It is believed to be a relatively low probability but high impact event. The impact of these kinds of events is also hard to predict but there could be sea level rises of metres. Policy-makers will not be happy about the uncertainty around this issue and ask “how likely is it to occur?” More on that issue next week.


So A dragged me kicking and screaming to the van yard and we bought a Merc. I like A.

Its yellow and roomy and most spankable. We’re going to swap the stereo of Bassness from the Civic and put in an extra row of seats. Both A&I are secret petrolheads and this is our shagwagon.

Its going to be most handy for missions, shuttling and hunting down house stuff.

So A gets her new toy, but my laptop is still in a shipping container somewhere between here and Toshiba’s secret world headquarters, which may well be on the Moon. But don’t pick up van till friday, so may still beat her yet.

So bought a wireless optical notebook mouse instead, its the tinyest.

Iteration 2

So here’s new pics of the latest design of the house. Its definitely getting there, now has bigger trapeze space, lots of grass on the roof and windows. Colours and the like still to be fiddled, but all rooms in the right place now.

Big pics of house

Further thoughts on trip to Auckland

Cuba Street has poems chalked on it by random locals. They are awesome.

Queen Street has poems painted on it by the Council. The best that can be said is that the poems are not offensive.

And the keynote speaker at the conference was supposed to be one of Google’s board members. That guy couldn’t come, coz he was busy. Google is up to something cooler than usual. Expect to hear about it in the next few weeks.

That is, other than buying Iceland, building a space elevator, and all the other things Google is planning.

Okay, back from four days in Auckland.

Firstly, Auckland is unfit for human habitation. Especially when those humans are doing something energetic like aikido. I haven’t sweated so much ever before.

The aikido seminar packed out ASB stadium, must have been about 300 people training. Serious effort was required to avoid taking out your neighbours with the person that you were throwing. And holy flying monkeys it was hot in there. Some guy had just thrown me to the floor when a drop of sweat dripped off him and into my eye. Ew!

Lots of wizened old Japanese chaps taking classes, all ridiculously good. The Doshu (head of aikido worldwide) has no style. Some people look strong, some look crisp, he just does it. I trained with a couple of the shihan, neither seemed to use any force at all, but the mat leapt up and spanked me. Makes you work on ukemi.

Must have trained with a hundred different people, only discovered one person who wasn’t very open and friendly. He did seem to insist on doing repo-nage with his elbow on the bridge of my nose, not on my collar. This was unnecessarily painful.

Sunday’s formal demonstrations were attended by assorted bigwigs, the Japanese ambassador, the minister for ethnic affairs, all very posh. Then another bunch of bigwigs wandered in, including Rodney Hide and Don Brash. Obviously didn’t have anything better to do.

And aside from that, our hotel was full of Destiny drones, up for the march on Saturday. One guy was wearing a “total abstinence” tshirt, thought about walking up to him and saying “abstinence? But you’re so cute!”, but there was four of them and no-one covering my back, so decided to save that line for later.

Friday’s conference was fantastic, lead speaker was from Google. He was a corporate lawyer, which in my book is one step below a paedophile, but he took about 30 seconds to win us all over. And then there was much hobnobbing, networking and thinking about big, interesting questions. By the evening, my brain was full and I had to stop thinking*, so wandered around the big Borders on Queen Street until I was fed up of books, which takes a while, then failed to go home. Was waylaid in the square by Concord Dawn, playing a free gig. Stood in the crowd, feeling the sub-bass down to my feet, grinning like a loon.

* See, it happens sometimes. But I have to work pretty hard for it to occur

Gymnastics class saturday

OK, as promised last night, am hijacking Happy’s live journal to give details of the class:

Lynn Breed runs an adults beginners gym class every Saturday afternoon, 4 – 6pm, at the hall at the end of Shelly Bay. Casuals are welcome until such time as she is fully booked with people paying for the term. Numbers are not too high at this stage. There is a trapeze as well as trampoline and other equipment and tumbling mats etc.

She also runs an adults intermediate class on Wednesday evenings, and some of those more experienced gymnasts sometimes go to the saturday class as an opportunity to do more training, but don’t be put off if they seem too good . . her focus is on teaching the beginners

The place is on the inland side of the road, at the end of the Shelly Bay restricted area (the old airforce base), as you drive around the coast towards the Massey Memorial. It’s an old hall, attached on the right to a single storey building that was a dining room or rec room or something. There’s a few carparks right at the door that goes into the lobby between the 2 buildings, or park across the road facing the sea. Just go in and introduce yourself – Lynne is tall, has shoulder length blonde hair and rushes around at a million miles an hour.

If you want to talk to her, Lynne’s number is 387 1193.



So I may have finally arranged all my bits of paper so that Vic will let me enroll. *grr*

Anyway, am off to Auckland for four days for an aikido seminar and a conference on commercialisation of science. I shall hob-nob like a good little policy wonk and be thrown around by ancient and venerable Japanese gentlemen. Pray that I don’t confuse the two activities.

I’m not sure if aikido with business cards would work too well, but introducing myself at a conference by waving a four-foot long piece of wood at someone would ensure that they remembered my face