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).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pleasant strolls in Zhengzhou

Some pictures from northern Zhengzhou, Henan province.

This nice lake is scheduled for complete development, whereupon it will be surrounded by roads and apartment blocks. Ground-breaking hasn't started yet, but they have started to lay out the roads to the area.

The highway interchange to serve the area appears below:

The construction zone lay across my path, so I walked through. Halfway along, I met a woman pushing her baby in a stroller around all the operating heavy equipment. The policy about venturing through a construction site in China appears to be: it's okay as long as you stay out of our way and don't come crying to us if you get hurt.*

Eventually I found my way through to the completed roadway, where my pleasant stroll continued.

At the complex interchange between Beihuan Rd. and Huayuan Rd., I got turned around somehow; and instead of ending up at home, I would up at some American pub, drinking beer.

* Yes, I think that is a fine policy

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The killing will continue until the morals improve

Sad news has come from Canada over the past few days--two separate attacks have killed two Canadian soldiers.

The Harper government has been quick to condemn the attacks as ISIL-inspired terrorism. Unfortunately I am unaware of any investigation that has evidence to support this assertion. It seems likely that the attacks may be characterized as terrorism, but making a definitive statement linking them to a particular foreign group seems likely to skew the result of any investigation. Will the RCMP feel obligated to present conclusions that support the Prime Minister's assertions?

Like all Canadians, I too am saddened by these attacks. But it is important that we learn the truth behind the attacks, and act in a way to reduce their future likelihood. This will probably not mean that we should deport all Muslims; or that we should make Islam illegal; both of which are suggestions I have already heard from other Canadians.

We should not be afraid to investigate the possible role of recent Canadian foreign policy in these attacks. This means that we should ignore all the cries about "blaming the victims". The victims of these attacks are named Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. Neither the Canadian government nor the Department of Foreign Affairs are victims of this attack--investigating the connection between their actions and the recent appearance of acts of terror (both planned and realized) is not blaming the victim.

We are hearing claims of "radicalization" at the hands of Islamic clerics--but this has not been demonstrated. Nowhere do we hear of the possibility of "radicalization" due to the feelings of hopelessness and despair over injustices committed in our names in the Middle East.

There are many Canadians who are angry at the evolution of Canadian foreign policy, from "honest broker" to whatever it is that we are now. The vast majority of them will never raise their hand in anger against another. Their frustration has mounted, as their voices have gone unheard, and ever-greater acts of aggression are committed overseas in their name.

All over the world, I have seen the same thing. As long as there remains the possibility of peaceful change, peace will reign. But if the system is so heavily skewed that there is no possibility that your opinions will be heard, people eventually turn to violence.

Canada is about to embark on another mission overseas. Canadian soldiers will be placed in harm's way yet again. Some of them may become victims of attacks either here or overseas. The radicalization, one by one, of previously peaceful Canadians at home will also continue.

The killing will continue until the morals improve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The peak of dengue cases for 2014 in Singapore has passed

. . . but the residual numbers of cases still greatly exceed what we observed only two years ago (data from here).

Overall, it looks like the total cases this year will be a little lower than last year, but still much higher than in 2011 and 2012.

Apart from the main peak starting and finishing a few weeks earlier than last year, I see nothing to change the following conclusion (from here).

The increasing incidence of dengue in Singapore looks to be a reflection of government policy, which requires greater numbers of people to be stationed in close contact with mosquitos. And given that the Singapore government is pushing to increase the population by another million or so, we can only expect the trend of dengue infections to increase.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Silver falls to a lower state

The recent pummeling in price undergone by the precious metals is tied largely to the strength of the US dollar. Said strength appears to have passed its peak. While gold has not suffered any significant technical damage, the same cannot be said for silver.

I have been reconstructing phase space portraits to try to understand the dynamics of complex climatic and financial systems. The phase space portrait summarizes the differential dynamics in a way that illustrates multistability in these systems; meaning that for a given set of inputs and boundary conditions, the system possesses more than one equilibrium. Which equilibrium comes into play depends on the entire history of the system--hence such systems are also described as having long memory (pdf).

When silver collapsed in price last year, it appeared that it was headed for a previously established equilibrium in the $17 range. Instead, it stopped short and began filling in a new area of stability (S3 in this post).

The last six weeks have not been kind (figure below is on a linear scale).

The phase space has slipped out of S3 and has moved into the S2 area of stability. Is this a brief excursion or a long-term event? The past history of the moves in silver have had real consequences if the phase space enters a previously defined area of stability, commonly remaining in the area of stability for about a year. This suggests silver will remain in this area for some time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gold is stronger than it appears.

Gold's recent plummet has been fuelled entirely by the rising US dollar, itself a result of the falling yen and euro. The US dollar is the least sick old man in the ward.

The above (weekly) diagram shows a sudden break-out of the USDX-gold system from the area (near $1300 and 80) where it had been confined for much of the past year. Despite the drop in gold price, the value of what non-US-based gold companies are receiving for their gold (gold price x USDX) has not declined all that impressively over the same timeframe.

The gold price has reached current levels three times over the past sixteen months. Last week's price corresponded to the highest USDX level in that time.

For a mining operation outside of the US, the number of dollars received per ounce of gold is back at the same level as in December, but the dollars being received are worth about 7% more (in terms of the local currency). Yet GDX is at the same level as it was in December.

Last year we started plotting the product of the gold price and the US dollar as an indicator for the economics of gold mining. Are we in an uptrend or a downtrend? Well, it depends on whether you look at the recent highs or recent lows. We look to be getting close to an important inflection point where we are going to see a large move.

A move down would most likely be a reversal of the recent gains in USDX, with a relatively small increase in the gold price. A move up could due to a continuation in the gains in USDX, with a decline in the rate of fall of gold.

If the move in USDX is exactly matched by gold, the trajectory of the system follows one of the blue hyperbolae ("isoquants"). A move along an isoquant (the present move occurs within the yellow ellipse) should be relatively neutral for most companies, but the recent move may offer some political advantages. With the gold price falling, cannot these companies show their empty pockets to local governments and ask for tax breaks/benefits for infrastructure? They shouldn't feel too ashamed, for if the trend were to reverse and gold were to rise to about $1400 with the USDX falling to near 70, wouldn't governments look to apply "windfall taxes" even though the economics of the mining operation would not have improved?

Most of the movement is along the blue hyperbolae. But the real money is made (or lost) in moves that cross the hyperbolae--as through early 2010, and much of 2011, and the first half of 2013. The set-up in the goldxUSDX is for a similar move.