Vapour trails

I photoed this vapour trail in December 2005. I’m pretty sure I have others, but this was the first vapour trail I found in the archives:

And I think that it is indeed a vapour trail. But now take a look at this next vapour trail.

That’s not a vapour trail.

This is a vapour trail:

As Michael Jennings, this blog’s technical curator (to whom continuing thanks), would say, this was in Straya.

Aerodynamic contrails occur when a plane lowers the air pressure as it flies, in turn lowering the air temperature and causing condensation to form on the wings. This condensation then trails behind as the plane continues forward.

In certain humid conditions, the drop in temperature and pressure is such that the droplets of condensation will freeze at varying sizes.

When the sunlight shines through these different sized droplets, it will refract at different wavelengths, hence the variety of colours that can be seen.

Blog and learn.

Michael Jennings on China – as seen from Nepal and from Australia

I have one of my Last Friday of the Month talks at my home tomorrow evening. See the next posting for news about that. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts that Michael Jennings jotted down, concerning the talk he’ll be giving in the same series on October 25th. While writing this, he didn’t know he was writing a blog posting. That only happened when I asked him if I could stick it up here, and he said … okay, yes:

In April and May this year, I spent a month in Nepal. I spent a fair portion of this in very remote areas – places (such as the region of Upper Mustang) that were almost literally medieval kingdoms only 30 years ago. These places are no longer medieval and no longer kingdoms, but they are still very poor, agricultural communities. At least, the ones without roads connecting them to the outside world are very poor, agricultural communities. Communities with roads connecting them to the outside world are different. Still poor by international standards, but much richer. The roads are being built with Chinese money and expertise.

These places are also very close to the border with Tibet. These places have always been close to the border with Tibet, but of course, these days this means the border with China. As China has become economically more powerful in recent years, the Chinese influence on these places has become stronger. The locals have mixed feelings about that. The Chinese have resources and get things done, whereas governments of Nepal – and governments of their nearer and friendlier neighbour India – are not known for this. On the other hand, if you cross the border you had better not be carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama, and if a Chinese policeman tells you to do something, you had better do it. (Nepali policemen are fairly amiable, mildly corrupt, and not people to worry about that much). The Chinese are building roads and power stations, which is making people richer. This is generally considered to be good. The Chinese bring money and wealth, but they also bring an extremely authoritarian political model with it, and you can see this in one small, poor country of a very different culture to theirs

This is one relatively small, poor country case of the interactions that a rising China is having with much of Asia and much of the world. At the other end of this are things like the interactions of my native Australia with China. Australia was always rich, but is now very rich due principally to selling iron ore and coal to China for the last 20 years. Australia has a large Chinese community, that has arrived in the country mostly in the last 50 years. 30 years ago, Australia would have been unequivocal in its support for the present demonstrators in Hong Kong, if events such as that had been happening then. These days, the Australian government says nothing. Meanwhile, Chinese students in Australia are spied on by Chinese secret police, Chinese language newspapers in Australia – there are many – are intimidated into taking a pro-Beijing line, and other similar things. Do Australians like this – not much, although Australians do generally like Chinese people and Chinese immigrants individually. Australia is now in an uncomfortable position of gaining much of its prosperity from people with an extremely authoritarian political model that we don’t particularly like.

Two extreme examples, but a great many countries in Asia and Africa (and elsewhere) face the same questions, to varying degrees. I will be giving a talk in which I discuss what this means for the world and where this may all lead.

There’ll be another talk about China on the last Friday of November, which is November 28th, by Hong-Konger-now-based-in-London Katy Lau. No apologies whatever for the “duplication”. First, it won’t be. These will be two completely different takes on China. And second, could any subject in the world be more important just now, or more vast in its scope and significance?

Stokes has completed the Miracle of Headingley Part II!

Here.

Holy hand grenades, Stokes is a monster! He throws his arms wide and roars! England win by one wicket and the series is level in the most heart-stopping fashion imaginable!

I’ve got nothing clever to say about this. I just wanted a link from here to … it.

Well, I do have one odd thing to nail down in the memory. I had cricinfo going, as well as the BBC radio commentary (no idea if that link will survive but you surely know the one I mean). And all through those last few minutes, cricinfo (link above) was telling me what Aggers (or whoever) was just about to shout about.

When Stokes hit that final winning four, it came up silently on cricinfo. But I needed Aggers (or whoever) to confirm it, before I was convinced. For once, “unbelievable” was, for me, correct.

The World Cup, and now this.

LATER:

Here. At the top of a match report.

Drones replacing sheepdogs (and some embedded video about this)

This is the first time I’ve tried embedding a bit of video in this blog. Let’s see how this works:

Seems to have worked. Another major improvement of this blog over the old one, especially important for me at moments like this, is that when I press “Save draft” and them “Preview”, I get a preview of exactly how things will end up looking. The old blog, for some idiot reason, couldn’t or wouldn’t do this. Not exactly. Well, maybe it could have, but I couldn’t make it.

I found this news report, about how drones are replacing sheepdogs on the farms of New Zealand, here. This is definitely the most interesting “other creatures” thing I learned about during the last seven days. I first got a clue about this story when semi-watching a BBC4 TV documentary about the wildlife of New Zealand. They must have digressed into not-so-wild life.

According to the above video, drones haven’t yet learned how to function when it’s raining. So sheepdogs, for the time being, are still useful when it’s wet. But work is surely progressing on that, and the days of sheepdogs as workers on farms are surely numbered. These things can take a long time, so it will be a big number. But, a number.

Sheepdogs will not completely die out. Like horses, they will survive as sporting entertainers. And drones will give viewers a much better view of all the action.

LATER: I just realised it’s Thursday today, rather than Friday, which is the day I usually focus especially on cats, dogs, etc. Well, no matter. I’m probably the only one who noticed, so I’m not even going to apologise.

Herbert Sutcliffe with possum

Asked Cricinfo, a while back: Who has made the most runs in an Ashes Test only to end on the losing side? I love that kind of thing, so of course I went to find out who it was, and I encountered this charming photo of the answer:

The Ashes record is held by the England opener Herbert Sutcliffe, who scored 303 runs – 176 and 127 – in a seven-day Test in Melbourne in 1924-25.

According to this, the above photo first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 14th 1933.

Of Sutcliffe, Wikipedia, who picked out this same photo of him, says:

A right-handed batsman, Sutcliffe was noted for his concentration and determination, qualities which made him invaluable to his teams in adverse batting conditions; and he is remembered as one of the game’s finest “bad wicket batsmen”. His fame rests mainly in the great opening partnership he formed with Jack Hobbs for England between 1924 and 1930. He also formed notable opening partnerships at Yorkshire with Percy Holmes and, in his last few seasons, the young Len Hutton. During Sutcliffe’s career, Yorkshire won the County Championship 12 times. Sutcliffe played in 54 Test matches for England and on three occasions he toured Australia, where he enjoyed outstanding success.

What England wouldn’t now give for such a batsman.

A World Cup Final that could not have been closer

If you don’t care about cricket, you won’t care about England having just won the World Cup. If you do care about cricket, you’ll not be paying any attention to me, here. But, in the years to come, I will. I need to have some links to this game, here, to wallow in, in the years to come.

The strange thing was, for two thirds of the game, NZ were grinding their way to a dreary win, by about 241 to, say, England all out 190. England, making a mess of chasing 242, were 90 for 4 and looking doomed. Worse, a generation of small boys watching it on free-to-air telly with their cricket mad dads would have been wondering what the hell all the fuss was about. Then the sun came out, and Jos Buttler came out to join Ben Stokes, and it then became a different game.

For once, that idiot cliché about cricket being the winner is true. Because this game was shown free on the telly, and because of how it got so crazily close at the end, who knows how many thousands of little kids will have got all excited about Stokes, Buttler, and the rest of them?

For the benefit of those learning about this game for the first time, a day late, England won by winning the cricket equivalent of a penalty shoot-out, after they had been all out for 241, chasing 242 to win. So, a tie. Then, to settle it and to work out who got the trophy, England got 15 in the “super-over” of six halls bowled by one of the opposition bowlers. NZ replied with 15, in their super-over. But England won it because they’d hit more boundaries throughout the day – 26-17, my telly has just told me – than New Zealand did.

Holy, as the man at Cricinfo said in amongst all this mayhem, Moly.

Will their be another patriotic orgy in Trafalgar Square to celebrate this? Along the lines of this:

(Those were photos I photoed in Trafalgar Square on September 13th 2005, in honour of another big England cricket win.) I really don’t see why not.

Also today, that Federer guy was involved in another rather close game, of tennis.

Did you know that these two games ended within minutes of one another? You do now.

Recently purchased books

Photoed just now:

Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about
Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.

Excerpt from We Now Know, here. Could have downloaded a pdf of the whole thing. But, don’t like pdfs. Prefer books.

There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)

Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.

I love Amazon. I miss remainder shops.

Black Drongo and Crested Serpent-eagle + snake

Taiwan Birds (well worth a long scroll down there (some truly amazing birds (I think))) yesterday featured this remarkable photo …:

…, and has this to say about it:

Congratulations to Chen Chen-kuang … for winning the Hamdan HIPA Prize for his shot of a …

… see above.

And there was me thinking that “Drongo” was just a word made up by Australians to describe … drongos. Apparently drongos really exist, and presumably drongos behave in a way that Australians disapprove of.

Taiwan Birds adds:

Never leave your camera behind! And spend years refining your skills …

Indeed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

On supporting Spurs – but not properly

Well, it’s official. I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it? Answer me that. On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs. When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on. Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra. My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner). So: more drama. But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game. Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time. Oh well, that’s how it goes. Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium. So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players. I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner). Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club. But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs. They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again. Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more. Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this. Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid. I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane. Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft. A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog