Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shunbun no Hi: Solar Eclipse

This year's Shunbun no Hi post is four days late, for which I apologise.

This year the equinox coincided with a solar eclipse, though the UK only experienced a partial eclipse. The weather forecast said (correctly, as it turned out) that there would be a thick cloud cover over London, so Anasua and I took an early morning coach to Oxford, which had clearer skies.

Here are two photos: the first taken shortly after the eclipse began, and the second just a few minutes after the maximum point, when about 85% of the Sun was occulted by the Moon.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Peanut Butter and Jelly

From Mankiw's Principles of Macroeconomics:


The bit about peanut butter and jelly may be true of the market as a whole, but personally I never use peanut butter and jelly together. I like peanut-butter-on-toast and jelly-on-toast, but I am immune to the appeal of a PB&J. If anything, I see peanut butter and jelly as weak substitutes.

This is not the first time that I've found a statement about spreads in an Economics textbook which runs counter to my own preferences.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Seasons: Canary Wharf, London

Move your cursor over the image below, and it should change to another image of the same scene in a different season. (If it doesn't work, check that your browser has JavaScript enabled.)


Base photo:23 July 2014
Mouseover photo:27 February 2015
Approx. coordinates:51.50°N, 0.02°W

The trees in the foreground are dawn redwoods in Jubilee Park – an island of greenery amidst the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. The dawn redwood is a fascinating tree. It was believed to be extinct and known only from ancient fossils, until a small stand was discovered in 1944 in the forests of Central China. (I allude, of course, to discovery by science; the tree was well-known to local villagers, without whose the help the botanists may never have discovered it.) The tree's morphology has not changed for 65 million years, which means that the trees in Jubilee Park are essentially identical to those in Cretaceous-period forests, when Tyrannosaurus roamed the earth.

The dawn redwood is also one of a very few conifers which shed their leaves in autumn. If it were evergreen, as most conifers are, the two photos above would have looked very similar.

The building in the background belongs to a law firm where I worked for four years.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Altruism

For his book The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy (1970), Richard Titmuss and his associates carried out a survey of over 3,800 blood donors in England. Some selected responses to question 5 ('Could you say why you first decided to become a blood donor?'):
You cant get blood from supermarkets and chaine stores. People them selves must come forword, sick people cant get out of bed to ask you for a pint to save thier life so I came forword in hope to help somebody who needs blood (married woman, 23, machine operator)
I thought it just a small way to help people—as a blind person other opportunities are limited (married man, 49, piano tuner)
I get my surgical shoes thro' the N.H.S. This is some slight return and I want to help people (married man, 53, insurance agent)
To try and repay in some small way some unknown person whose blood helped me recover from two operations and enable me to be with my family, thats why I bring them along also as they become old enough (married woman, 44, a farmer's wife)
Some unknown person gave blood to save my wifes life (married man, 43, self-employed window cleaner)
My husband aged 41, collapsed and died, without whom life is very lonely—so I thought my blood may help to save some-one the heart ache I've had (transfusion received by husband before he died) (widow, 47, school meals service cook)
My son was killed on the road, he was a Blood Donor and I knew they did their best to save him and because I know he would be pleased I am carrying on as long as I can to help someone I hope (married woman, 63, wife of a timber sawyer)
From being a boy I had suffered from constant nose bleeding and since I became a donor I have not had a single nose bleed (married man, 43, newsagent)
My conscience—having served 5 years on active service in the war (1939–45) helping to destroy life, and during this period my wife was receiving blood to save her life, it occurred to me, after demobilization, that I could at least ease my conscience (married man, 52, clerical officer civil service)
It was a good excuse for a good cup of tea and the afternoon off duty whilst serving in the Navy (married man, 42, maintenance engineer printing)
1941. War. Blood needed. I had some. Why not? (married man, 47, sales representative)
A pretty young nurse walked round the factory I was working in (married man, 41, development engineer)
Knowing I mite be saving somebody life (single woman, 40, power press operator)
No man is an island (married man, 36, foreman maintenance fitter)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Venice, 10:44 am

The island of San Giorgio Maggiore seen through the morning mist.