Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it Snow

We've had a little bit of snow here in Stockholm the last days. (Yes, Rhett, that's what we call snow). Not the heavy Ontario-kind of snowfall with 2 feets in 3 hours, but a two days lasting persistent drizzle that made it up to a feet or two, depending on how far you're outside the city.

Ingrid had mentioned that the local Christmas tree would be right in front of my window. Since then I had nightmares of blinking Christmas lights that would spoil my nightrest till Newyear. The technical term is "preventive pessimism." The tree however turned out to be decently minimalistic and developed its full beauty with some inches of snow on it.

This brought to mind a reader question: do you celebrate Christmas?

I am flying to Germany on the weekend and will be on vacation until the first week of January. Thus, expect blogging to be photo-heavy and sparse. But I promise continuation of the causal diagrams will follow sooner or later :-)


  1. Anonymous Snowboarder2:00 PM, December 18, 2009

    Snow! I am very jealous .. I find myself tied to the NYC flatlands another few weeks so no snowboarding until January :( We may get over a foot of snow here just to taunt me tomorrow.

    Do you have an early report on the road conditions there yet Bee? Are the nordic pot holes of a different variety? Do they respond differently to the snow operator?

    [Snow|Road] = 0 or
    [Snow|Road] = -i<pothole|pothole>

    Clearly Canada is the second case!

  2. To flatter the Swedes I haven't yet seen a single pothole here. So far they also haven't put salt on the streets (that has pros and cons). However, no matter what highway exit I try to use it is inevitably a huge construction area. Best,


  3. You lucky north people.

  4. Dear Bee,

    Germany tonight also has fresh snow, just to welcome you :-)

    Cheers, Stefan

  5. These holidays are not about Santa and Christmas trees, but about celebrating the birth of a man who came to this world centuries ago on Dec. 25; a man whose ideas influenced our way to see the world: sir Isaac Newton =)

    Enjoy your vacation, the snow, and happy holidays

  6. Just wanted to say thanks for the causal diagrams posts; I was just getting to them in general relativity when you started the series and it was great to have a third explanation on top of Dr. Carroll's book and Wikipedia :D.

    As for the topic, I celebrate Xmas as a family holiday/tradition, but make a point of always saying "happy holidays" and "Xmas" as a sort of passive resistance to the whole religious aspect. Now that I say this out loud though, it sounds kind of childish...

  7. Hi Domenic,
    Glad to hear my posts were useful for you. Yah, I noticed that in North America some people were a little touchy on the "Christmas" wishes which hadn't occurred to me before. (The German word "Weihnacht" makes no reference to a particular religion.) So I mostly just wish happy holidays or something of that sort. In that spirit: Happy Holidays! Best,


  8. Hi Bee,

    Things indeed are looking very festive in Stockholm with all the snö , which you say is different than our snow. I would ask if snö is also not the same as schnee? Though I’m not certain of what has them to be different, yet I know what they all have in common, as they all require shovelling:-)



  9. May your Festivus pole be aluminum-scandium alloy.

  10. Anonymous Snowboarder5:59 PM, December 19, 2009


    All snow is not created equal. A very authoritative site is:

    The website is great as is his field guide which I try to keep as close to my snowboard as possible!

  11. As many have heard, we're having record snow here in the USA East Coast. Maybe only one inch (2.5 cm to the rest of the world) here in coastal SE Virginnie.

  12. Brrr. Where is Global Warming when you need him?

  13. Global Warming has moved to his new base in Greenland, Thomas, where he's attacking the Arctic ocean and casting Canadian polar bears adrift on ice floes out to sea in an attempt to collide them with East Anglia and Copenhagen.

    I love it when effects are anthropomorphized. :-)

    Have a holly jolly Xmas, it's the best time of the year.

  14. Hi Snowboarder:

    I've come across this website before. SO pretty. There are some weird snowflakes in this little clip ;-) Best,


  15. Where is Global Warming when you need him?

    Hello Thomas,
    You think "Global Warming" is a "he"?

  16. Thomas is quite correct, Georg.

    Not only is Global Warming a "he" based in Greenland, but "he" has obviously dispatched a close family relation to Antarctica to hurl massive bits of that continent at Chile, Australia and New Zealand, and too bad for Tasmania if it gets in the way. :-P

    Simply put: the Poles are getting warmer, and given that our Earth approximates a "closed system" and given the very rudimentary postulates of Heat Transfer and regardless of the EastAnglia/ExxonMobil reasons as to WHY that is happening, it IS happening, and thus the "cold" must increase elsewhere, regardless of source.

    Which is why I must dig out of 18 inches of snow today, sigh.

  17. The German word for warming is "Erwärmung" and is female. Possibly that's what Georg is hinting at?

  18. Possibly Bee, but I hope not. I would find it the greatest egregiousness if a female were doing to us what Global Warming is doing.


  19. Hello Bee,
    Yes, that was part of my thoughts.
    But of course I know that english language
    generally lables almost all "Things"
    with neutral gender.
    Next I assumed that Thomas might be Swedish,
    and hence could explain the gender
    of things like "Warmth" or "Sun"
    in Swedish.
    You know, that "sun" is masculine in most
    roman languages, but feminine
    in German.
    is "warming" a noun after all?

  20. Hi Bee,

    In as the climate change issue is such a sensitive one I usually refrain from making comment in regards to it. However, having said that my only observation in regards to those on both sides of the issue is to draw notice to what I find they share in common, as opposed to their differences. This is not to be found in their interpretation of the data, yet rather in their tactics used for winning the debate.

    That is on one side we are lead to believe that without immediate and drastic change that in short order we will suffer the consequences of our neglect in the form of a cataclysmic environmental disaster. On the other side we are told to take any action at all we will suffer the consequence of a disaster brought on by immediate economic collapse. You might ask what the two have in common, with the answer being the use of fear as to be the reason for decision, which in turn has people to make such decisions irrationally rather then what’s required.

    This long then had me to wonder that between all the politicians and special interest groups, who speaks for those that represent reason among our species, which I consider to be the scientists. For example and in contrast I’m mindful of a PI public lecture I had attended where the speaker Professor David Archer gave a review of the matters which I consider as taken from the rational perspective of science, without finding need in provoking the cognitive parallelize so often resultant of instilling fear.

    Strangely after the lecture in listening to those filling out I was amazed at the reaction to his talk, with people being largely dissatisfied, as one group saying he represented the environmentalist, while others convinced he represented the interests of some clandestine powers that be. Then it became clear to me why the scientists are not playing a more direct and central role, for they realize that they would not be listened to.

    Just so you know what I gathered from Archer’s lecture, is first yes man is having an effect on the environment that needs to be addressed and second that we not need to act in panic as to overreact, yet be confident that we have the tools to mitigate the effects with policies of action that can be spread over the course of fifty years that need not be either hasty or drastic, as compared to those so often that are solely resultant of our reaction to fear.



    P.S. Bee I realize this is way off the subject of this post and you have every right to erase it and I wouldn’t therefore feel hard done by if you did. It’s just that I’d like to express my thoughts on the matter which are consistent with the spirit of the holiday season, which is that of hopeful resolution having no room for fear.

  21. "The German word for warming is "Erwärmung" and is female."

    In contrast to girls and young women (Mädchen, Fräulein), who are neuters.

    Swedish actually has four genders - he, she, it and he-she (reale). The male and female genders are only used for living things, although a ship or a clock may sometimes be referred to as a she.

    I am not in favor of Global Warming, but I would not mind if his little brother Local Warming made a visit to Stockholm.

  22. Hello Thomas,
    please explain the difference between
    "it" and "he-she" gender.
    I found this:
    Nouns have two grammatical genders: common (utrum) and neuter (neutrum), which determine their definite forms as well as the form of any adjectives used to describe them. Noun gender is largely arbitrary and must be memorized; however, around three quarters of all Swedish nouns are common gender. Living beings are often common nouns, like in en katt, en häst, en fluga, etc.
    I am confused.

  23. In practice it works like two neutral genders, with different articles and suffixes. You have to learn to which class each word belongs. This is simpler than German that has three genders for inanimate things, and where you in addition have to keep track of four cases (?).

  24. Yes, 4 cases is correct. German must be hard to learn. It isn't so surprising that English has become so wide-spread, it is grammatically very simple and robust. What's difficult about English is the pronunciation that seems to be in no reasonable relation to the spelling.

    One problem with the 4 cases and 3 genders is that if one translates sentences "as is" into English, they turn into garble because of the degeneracy. In German it's very easy to construct quite long sentences because the different cases and genders (together with quite strict rules for commas) allow you to refer to previous subjects and objects. I haven't made much contact with Swedish grammar yet. It took me a while to figure that the definite article is at the end of the word.

  25. The question-mark was after cases, not after four - I was unsure how to translate Kasus. ;-)

    an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen.

  26. hüber, drüber, hibbe, dribbe, middedursch ;-)

  27. Hallo Bee,
    do kann ich midhalde:
    rab nab nuff nunner riwwer niwwer


  28. we dont have snow here :(

    i am very jealous !!!

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