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 15, 2014

One day on the beach

Winter is coming, and although it is not cold here as it is back home, my thoughts turn back to warmer days in Ghana.

The only food locally available was from a small restaurant run by a young woman named Sala. She has only a single charcoal stove, and can’t cook food quickly enough.

I wolfed down a hard-boiled egg, some boiled cabbage, onion, and pumpkin for breakfast. There was more of the same for lunch. We were on a parallel line approaching Shama when heavy rain came. We finished the line and ran into Shama towing the gear. The dorsal fin came off during the morning, but the instrument only flipped over once, and that was at high speed during our run in. Apparently at high speed, the weight at the front acts as a brake, and may flip the fish onto its back. Once it starts skipping across the water surface it will continue to do so. 

The data were still good despite the damage to the fish. Kabi has located some wood cut to shape that will be delivered in the morning.

We returned to port and unloaded the boat. As I was paying the boys, an old man came up to me and said he had not eaten and needed some chop money. I demurred, paid the boys and the boat owner. Once again the old man came asking for chop money. I am hungry he said. I too am hungry, I told him. Kabi explained to him that we too were under people, and that our money was not really our own but had to spent only on appropriate things. Oh, he begged, he was hungry. Then I remembered I still had lunch. I climbed into the back of the van, opened my bowl of food, and offered him a hard-boiled egg. He asked what else I had. I showed him the contents. Boiled onion, pumpkin, okra, a garden egg, and some cabbage. This food is too rough for me! he said. He returned the egg. He wanted a cedi. This is the food I am eating! I said. I will not give you a cedi so you can eat better than me. I took back the egg, but now didn’t really want to eat it. A quick, enterprising child held out his hand and I gave it to him. He ran off delighted, pursued by his peers.

The old man who refused my food came by the next morning, saying he would go and come and he would bring me money, so I could eat better too.

I did, actually. Sala had given me the same collection of boiled vegetables (including a whole onion) and eggs. But this time, the boys cooked light soup on the boat. They had brought a charcoal furnace (a hibachi, really), chopped up a fish, and cooked the whole thing on the rolling sea in less than an hour. The soup was explosively hot, but made a nice addition to my egg and boiled vegetables I had, turning it into a stew.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lost in translation again

The Chinese edition

Well, who doesn't?

When I first caught a glimpse of her shirt, I thought it said "maudits garcons".

These were in a complex which was called either "Provence" or "Province", depending on which signs you read.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The impossible trend, week 6

It continues--gold and the US dollar index rising.

Six weeks of impossibility and counting.

The last time something like this happened, it lasted six months, from November 2009 until late May of 2010.

Interestingly, the current trend begins right where the previous impossible trend left off. Perhaps this is the sign that we are returning to the type of market that favours both gold and the US dollar--probably to the detriment of everything else. It would suggest that the advance and subsequent collapse in the price of gold from mid-2010 to mid-2013 was some sort of blow-out from the trend, although I am a little reluctant to accept this because it is so much longer than the roughly linear trend.

Notice that the advance of USDX and gold together is only a rough trend. Few were the weeks in which both advanced. I expect this behaviour to continue.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hewers of gold; drawers of oil

Two charts here about Canada's mining industry.

First up gold mining, both by weight and dollar value, from 1998 to 2012. The chart has been touched up, but originally is found here (pdf).

Gold production has fallen off, but this has more than been made up for by rising prices. Canada has been pretty lucky, although I wonder how 2013 would look on this chart.

The source material includes graphs of mining production and value for several other metals, and in most cases actual production has fallen while the value has increased. God bless inflation!

Secondly, Canada's balance of trade in the mining sector up to 2012.

And we see that while Canada is doing well in mineral extraction and primary manufacturing (ingots and rolled products), we need to import ever greater values of fabricated products. This is somewhat alarming, as the last country that got wealthy doing this was . . . well, I can't think of one just now.

One thing going for us is that with the recent higher prices for metals of the past several years, the overall balance of trade has increased. But seeing as the increase in value is not due to increased production, but increased price, and as production in many commodities has fallen over the last fifteen years, our only real hope may be deindustrialization.

It is tempting to blame all this on the Conservatives, but the trend was set in motion long before the beginning of the above data set.