Grab your hard hat

Sakurajima, from episode 5 of Katanagatari
Sakurajima, from episode 5 of Katanagatari

The volcanic webcam star Sakurajima might be heading for a major eruption in the near future. The Japanese Meteorological Agency has raised the alert level for the Kagoshima area to “4,” advising residents in the districts nearest the volcano to prepare to evacuate.

While there are numerous webcams pointed at the Kyushu mountain, the only one I’ve found with a reliable night-time view is on the JMA’s page. Starting at the bottom of the list, it’s the first entry with a four-character name.

For further discussion, scroll down to the most recent comments here. The JMA released a statement here (pdf). It’s in Japanese only, but there are interesting maps and charts to study, and you can copy and paste the text into Giggle Translate.

Shichika, Togame, Sakurajima
Shichika, Togame, Sakurajima

Katanagatari, by the way, is a very good show.

Update: Meanwhile, in Ecuador

Boom x 10


Colima, a volcano west of Mexico City not far from the Pacific coast, is getting feisty. There’s a good view on the webcam here, ((when it works)) and when it’s cloudy you can watch time-lapse videos by clicking the icons below “El día en un minuto.”

Colima has been deemed a “decade volcano” by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, one of sixteen worthy of special study because of capacity for dangerous eruptions and proximity to populated areas. Some of the denizens of Volcano Café find the IAVCEI list unsatisfactory and are currently announcing their own, one volcano at a time each Friday. ((usually if they feel like it)) Theirs is based on the pleasant notion of “million death expectancy” possible within the next century or so. Of the five listed thus far, I anticipated two (Kelud and Mayon), was not surprised by two of the others, but did not expect #7 at all. There are five more to go. I hesitate to make any predictions, but I’m pretty sure that Yellowstone is not on the list.

200 years ago today


Tambora, a volcano on the island of Sumbawa and at that time one of the tallest mountains in Indonesia, erupted violently, propelling a Plinian eruption column up over 18 miles high. Spectacular though it was, the April 5 event was just the warm-up for the main show five days later, when Tambora uncorked the largest eruption observed in historical times, vastly larger than the Pinatubo, Katmai/Novarupta or Krakatau eruptions. Mount St. Helens in 1980 was a mere hiccup in comparison. The top of the mountain was replaced by a caldera four miles across, and the injection of dust and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere led to the “year without a summer.”

Update: Just how big was the Tambora eruption?

Heating up in Honshu

Ontakesan, the second-tallest mountain in Japan, is clearing its throat.

This is possibly the most frightening video I’ve ever seen. If there had been fresh hot lava erupted, the ash cloud would have instantly incinerated the videographer and everyone with him.

A less-terrifying video of the mountain:

There’s a webcam here.

Update: vulcanologist Erik Klemetti comments.

Right parietal-lobe damage

I was not aware of how severe Wilson’s disabilities were:

If Woodrow Wilson’s brain had suffered no further damage, the history of the following decades could have been very different. For Wilson in 1916 wanted Germany defeated but not crushed; he wanted Germany to be a viable member of the proposed League of Nations. He was convinced that a dictated peace [“… ]would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and that would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which the terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand.” The overthrow of the Kaiser in 1918 and his replacement by a democratic government raised Wilson’s hopes for rehabilitating Germany. At the 1919 peace conference in Paris, he argued against French efforts to try the ex-Kaiser and to exact punitive reparations.

But then President Wilson suddenly took ill during the conference: he had vomiting, high fever, and the other signs of having caught the influenza which was sweeping Europe and later much of the world. It turned out that the virus had affected his respiratory system, heart, brain, and prostate. Indeed, judging from some of the mental symptoms (his top aide noted that, just overnight, Wilson’s personality changed), Wilson may have suffered another stroke at this time or, as Dr. Weinstein suggests, have also caught the frequently associated virus of encephalitis lethargica (this is the virus whose victims often developed Parkinson’s disease years later, Oliver Sacks wrote about them in Awakenings).

Even before the influenza attack, his obsession with secrecy was pronounced: none of the other American peace commissioners were privy to President Wilson’s thinking. Bedridden, Wilson became obsessed with being overheard, with guarding his papers. In addition to the paranoia, he became euphoric and almost manic at times following the bedridden phase of the illness. He even became socially outgoing in ways quite uncharacteristic of the normally reticent Wilson.

But most striking was Wilson’s change in attitude toward the Germans: now he himself proposed that the former Emperor be tried. Whereas he had previously insisted that the German delegates be granted full diplomatic privileges at the conference, now he was contemptuous of them. Herbert Hoover, who was there, noted the change in Wilson’s behavior: before the influenza, Wilson was willing to listen to advice, was incisive, quick to grasp essentials and unhesitating in his conclusions. Afterward, he had lapses in memory, he groped for ideas, he was obsessed with “precedents.”

(Via Classical Values.)

Did we land, or were we shot down?

Miscellaneous links and nonsense:

David Bentley Hart, from the May 2014 First Things:

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose.

A look at brilliant, psychotic Joe Meek, who changed the sound of music.


Stereo pictures from WWI. A couple of notes: stereograms made for hand-held viewers use the parallel method of viewing, not the crossed-eye. I.e., the right eye focuses on the right image, the left eye on the left. It is possible to free-fuse the images, though it is easier done than explained. Let your eyes relax and drift apart until the images of a well-defined region in the pictures, such a the bright sky through the roof in the above image pair, start to overlap. Focus on that region until the images snap together, and you should then be able to see the entire scene in perspective. (You’ll need to sit back at least two feet from the monitor if you want to see the full-size images at the link in stereo.)

Continue reading “Did we land, or were we shot down?”


Sinabung, a volcano in Sumatra disconcertingly close to Lake Toba, has been erupting spasmodically since September. Above is a time-lapse video of pyroclastic flows there, the same phenomena that destroyed Pompeii and St. Pierre.

You can watch the eruption here during daylight hours in Sumatra. When visibility is good, you probably won’t have to wait long for a pyroclastic flow. See Eruptions and Volcano Café for updates and more information on Sinabung.


Course evaluations for the Sermon on the Mount:

The instructor pandered to the lowest common denominator – “meek” and “poor.” As an AP student, I did not feel adequately challenged.

Way too demanding for Gen Ed requirement. Prof expected us all to exceed best students in the class?! LOL. Not even my major!

Best prof ever! Loved it. Changing my major.

(Via Eve Tushnet.)

Spengler’s Universal Laws:

Spengler’s Universal Law #11: At all times and in all places, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.

Spengler’s Universal Law #14: Stick around long enough, and you turn into a theme park.

Spengler’s Universal Law #17: If you stay in the same place and do the same thing long enough, some empire eventually will overrun you.

(Via AoSHQ.)

Death by ellipsis: annotating Dan Brown.

(Via First Thoughts.)

Nightmare chemistry:

After all this, if you still feel the urge to experience dimethylcadmium – stay out of my lab – you can make this fine compound quite easily from cadmium chloride, which I’ve no particular urge to handle, either, and methyllithium or methyl Grignard reagent. Purifying it away from the ethereal solvents after that route, though, looks like extremely tedious work, which allows you the rare experience of being bored silly by something that’s trying to kill you.

Continue reading “Linkety-link”

Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

Jokes scientists tell:

A group of wealthy investors wanted to be able to predict the outcome of a horse race. So they hired a group of biologists, a group of statisticians, and a group of physicists. Each group was given a year to research the issue. After one year, the groups all reported to the investors. The biologists said that they could genetically engineer an unbeatable racehorse, but it would take 200 years and $100bn. The statisticians reported next. They said that they could predict the outcome of any race, at a cost of $100m per race, and they would only be right 10% of the time. Finally, the physicists reported that they could also predict the outcome of any race, and that their process was cheap and simple. The investors listened eagerly to this proposal. The head physicist reported, “We have made several simplifying assumptions: first, let each horse be a perfect rolling sphere… “

(Via Classical Values.)

Update: How science is actually done, according to #overlyhonestmethods.

we didn’t read half of the papers we cite because they are behind a paywall

Our sampling locations happen to match tropical resort towns because field work doesn’t have to be mud and agony.

incubation lasted three days because this is how long the undergrad forgot the experiment in the fridge

See also lol my thesis.

It is difficult to own things that don’t exist.

Avoiding people has its mental health benefits. ((I have verified this experimentally.))

Mammoths stopped eating things after they went extinct.

Democracy would work a whole lot better if we weren’t so, you know, human.