A few changes over time – continued



, , , , , , , ,

Simulations indicate that a tsunami sweeping east to west loses a lot of volume and force getting to the eastern end of the Sunda Strait. For example, a tsunami moving more or less southward through the Malacca Strait would likely do terrible damage to shipping in the strait, to both coasts of the strait and to Singapore, but in most scenarios the water just gets slowed too much by the land to continue its rampage as far south as Jakarta. A tsunami from the Gulf of Thailand or the southern portion of the South China Sea (the three arrows labelled with the letter ‘A’)  would indeed blast several of the islands east of Sumatra and northeast of the Sunda Strait. The coastal areas of Java east of Jakarta generally get hammered, while the Jakarta metropolitan area can receive quite a spectrum of damages. For a tsunami moving east to west across the Java Sea (arrows labelled with the letter ‘B’) the most southerly portion of the eastern edge of Sumatra takes a beating. Jakarta again can receive quite a variety of damages. In most of these ‘B’ scenarios it is much more likely than in the ‘A’ scenarios that significant waves will transit the Sunda Strait (arrows labelled ‘C’).

sunda_strait_east_west Populstat gives the following historical estimates for the population of Jakarta, formerly known as Djakarta and Batavia, now known as the Special Capital Region of Jakarta  (IndonesianDaerah Khusus Ibu Kota Jakarta): 65,000 [1870]; 99,100 [1875]; 102,900 [1880]; 97,000 [1882-3]; 100,500 [1886]; and 105,100 [1890]. The current population of Jakarta is 10,075,310 (2014 estimate) and the population of the metropolitan area is 30,214,303.




Microblades and Fluted Bifaces


, , ,


In response to some reader requests for clarification:

At the top a Clovis spearpoint from Nevada – not visible here but both sides of the point have been worked. Note the characteristic fluting at the right. The flute gets forced into the split end of the shaft. Perhaps it was glued or tied. Load up the spear on a favorite atlatl, and any BIG game nearby had better vacate the locale.

At the bottom a microblade assemblage. A knapper would strike off multiple sharp small blades (five of them used above) probably from a common core. Then something like a bone or antler or perhaps even a sturdy branch would have a groove cut into it. The microblades are forced in, and one has a knife or spearpoint.

Currently, the issue of Paleolithic weapons technology needs more data. It was very inconsiderate of early hominids not to invent the Internet and blog about their lives. Or at least invent writing and pound out petroglyphs. At present, the evidence suggests that microblade technologies were used as early as 30,000 years ago in southern Siberia, northern China, or the Hokkaido-Sakhalin area. It has been conjectured that Clovis technologies originated with the Solutrean culture which was prevalent in southern France and northern Spain 17,000 to 22,000 years ago. Clovis points in North America generally date to between 13,200 to 13,700 years ago. It is difficult to imagine a rapid changeover from microblades to Clovis so it would be just swell if someone found some sort of intermediate technology of more or less the right age in Alaska or Washington state.

An important practical question for us is are we using the right tools when trying to help people with special needs. From the perspective of the analysis of modern (21st century) immigration it is obvious (to us) that, like lithic technology, a lot more detailed data is needed. In the last twenty thousand years ago Beringia has sunk, sea levels have risen and fossils remain elusive. For 21st century immigration across the US-Mexico border it is very challenging to even guess how many illegal immigrants (to the nearest million!), when they crossed, where they crossed, what their fates were and what economic impact they had.

Here’s a link to some additional material on 21st century immigration across the US-Mexico border US Immigration

Another interruption


, , , , ,

In the old days (1980s) we used to avoid working on USA domestic problems partly in order to preserve an impression that the United States was better than most at solving problems. We also considered many of the commonly used sets of econometric data to be fraudulent and an insult to any CPU or disk. Eventually, we were more or less coerced into reacting to the infamous No Child Left Behind law. We had little hope that our objections that what needed to be measured was students and teachers, not schools, would be considered. This was corrected to “no hope”.

Hominids have apparently been coming to North America for many thousands of years. Firm dates and definitions for pre-Clovis cultures are lacking, and a great many disputes linger about sites like Monte Verde, Topper (South Carolina) and so on. But it seems like a date for first arrivals of 15,000 to 20,000 years ago should not be too controversial. It would make the professional lives of many researchers much simpler if there was a clear trail of Clovis points (or microblades or anything) across Alaska, over Beringia and through eastern Siberia. But there is not – at least not yet.

In the meantime, it is alleged that the United States of America has some sort of immigration crisis on its southern borders. We do not doubt that a great deal of hard work has gone into the problems but the data available is just not good enough to make large decisions with. Here is a link to a downloadable PDF with our comments and recommendations. We’ll put up the material as web pages as well. US Immigration





The Los Angeles Unified School District strike


, ,

/1/ There are over 725,000 students enrolled. This is the second most populous school district in the United States: New York City has over one million students. The third most populous school district in the United States is Chicago at about 400,000 followed by Puerto Rico (380,000 for the whole island), Miami (Dade County 360,000) and Clark County (the Las Vegas area in Nevada 325,000). Houston Texas is 8th with 225,000 students and is bracketed by four Florida counties (Broward, Orange, Hillsborough and Palm Beach) all of which are in the 200,000 range.   –

/2/ The Los Angeles district covers over 700 square miles.

/3/ There are almost 1600 schools BUT many of these are administrative units that share an address with one or more other schools.

/4/ There are also over 300 charter schools which serve about 138,000 students.

/5/ There are over 26,000 teachers and over 34,000 other staff making the district the second largest employer (after the County of Los Angeles) in the area. The school district has its own police force of over 500 officers.

I believe about 10% (ten percent) of students are identified as having special needs. It is difficult to imagine any circumstances under which the strike will not be a disaster for the bulk of these students and their families.


Populations, War and Martial Arts


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Within Asia the two primary martial arts streams are Indian and Chinese. It is not too cynical to point out that, despite massive population advantages, neither China nor India did well militarily against Japan or Great Britain when the respective empires clashed. 

India and Pakistan China Great Britain
1757 160 million 190 million 12 million
1852 284 million 405 million 23 million
1947 345 million 544 million 50 million
India and Pakistan China Japan
1935 296 million 505 million 69 million
1940 316 million 521 million 72 million
1945 337 million 538 million 72 million

Japan was able to conquer the following (1940 population estimates)

The Philippines – 16 million Korea (the entire peninsula) – 24 million
Taiwan – 6 million Malaysia – 4 million
Myanmar (Burma) – 27 million Macao and Hong Kong – 2 million
Singapore – 1 million Indonesia – 70 million
Thailand – 16 million Vietnam – 21 million
TOTAL: almost 200 million
Japan was at war with
Australia- 7 million New Zealand – 2 million
The United States – 132 million Papua – New Guinea – 1 million
Russia (limited) – 110 million The Netherlands – 9 million

A break in the wave


, , , , , , , , ,

A reader e-wrote wanting to know if I intended to use the classic painting American Gothic by Grant DeVolson Wood (February 13, 1891 – February 12, 1942) in a forthcoming book on martial arts forks.

american-gothic That is indeed a three-tined fork, but I am reluctant to assign it any special symbolic or allegorical value without knowing more about pitchforks in early 20th century Iowa. In 1930 Grant Wood was 38, and apparently used his younger sister Nan (32) and his dentist the 62-year-old Byron McKeeby as models. The house in the background is a real house: built by the Dibbles, it stands at 300 American Gothic Street in Eoldon Iowa. The featured window may have been purchased from the Sears catalog.   Wood entered the painting in a competition at The Art Institute of Chicago and won the bronze prize, $300.

A few changes over time – continued


, , , , , , ,


A tsunami moving west to east has a very good chance of blasting through the Sunda Strait but in most scenarios there does not appear to be significant damage (easy to say as it is not my house, my auto or my life) to the northwestern coast of Java (including Jakarta) or the southeastern coast of Sumatra, However, in most scenarios the southern coast of Sumatra and the western coast of Java sustain gruesome damage.


By Indonesian standards the six events in a century shown above are not significant.


There is some agreement that the dozens of R6s with epicenters outside the Sunda Straits have neither increased nor decreased the chances of some version of Krakatau causing another catastrophe. R6.0 or greater epicenters in the last century shown below. No clusters yet.


A few changes over time


, , , , , , , , , ,

The hard working Jan Lahmeyer compiled a great many tallies or estimates of historical populations [as of 1/5/2019 my emails to him are being returned – does anyone know if he is alive?]. At http://www.populstat.info/Asia/indonesc.htm for Indonesia he gives 28,992,000 as the population for 1870 and 35,579,000 as the population for 1890. The current population of Indonesia of 262,787,403 (July 2018 estimate) was influenced by the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2004 (an estimated 130,000 dead – about one half of the total deaths – were in the Banda Aceh area) as well as territorial adjustments.

As with many straits, even those where one country owns both sides of the strait, assessing regional populations is not straightforward. Second order political subdivisions such as states and provinces change over time. In the case of the Sunda Strait, the islands  of Sumatra and Java are so large (180,000 and 55,000 square miles, respectively) and oriented more or less perpendicular to the strait that really only the one province of Lampung on Sumatra and the one province of Banten on Java will be likely to bear the direct impact of a tsunami in the strait.


Lampung province currently has a population of about 8,300,000. Its capital, Bandar Lampung, has a population of about 1,200,000.


Banten province currently has a population of 12,500,000. There is a fair amount of dispute about whether Tangerang is actually an independent city or a suburb of Jakarta. Tangerang has a population of about 1,800,000, while Serang, the provincial capital, has a population of about 600,000.