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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog called 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Friday, December 29, 2017

(Non-)Xmas Dinner

Blogreader Barbara (UK) asked "So what did you have for your atheist (non-)Xmas dinner yesterday?" Pheasant : here are some photos, as I promised on the 26th.

As you know, I'm a pheasant plucker, so that was my job. Then we wrapped it bacon and stuffed it with mashed chestnuts before consigning it to the oven in a stoneware casserole.

Once the bird was cooked, the crispy bacon was stripped off whole, then we set about carving the bird up (sadly, this is not our strong point, so we'll skip over THAT photo).

The set table shows (bottom to top) : wine herb sauerkraut, sweetened with mashed pinapple chunks and raw grapes. Pheasant with bacon strips and chestnut stuffing. Small potato dumplings and mash, the gravy (to the left) was added later. On the right, a bottle of Furst von Metternich Rose´ dry Sekt (think German champagne) to wash it all down.

And this what the filled plates looked like before the gravy was added :-)

Deliciously cooked by SWMBO :-) Meal wrapped up with coffee, brandy and After-Seven mints (actually After-Eights, but we dined early ;-) )

See y'all blogreaders next year : have a nice New Year's fireworks party :-)

Comments (2)
Barbara (UK) wrote "Looks tasty! Bet there weren't any leftovers!" There are never any leftovers in this house! We have a bulldog who regards it as his duty to enforce this rule ;-)
Cop Car wrote " Your posting left me with my mouth watering. Although I must imagine the wonderful tastes, it is obvious that SWMBO excels at presentation. My professional chef sister-in-law would approve! Have a great 2018." Thankyou. I read your own recipes with interest too. 2017 turned out to be a good year for me : I made it through major surgeries and haven't had to carry any friends' coffins either :-) Happy Hogmanay and 2018 to you and HH too :-)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mele Kalikimaka

A fundamentalist (american) Christian reader asked sarcastically how I, as an Atheist, celebrate Xmas. She included a photo of her incredibly overdecorated Xmas tree. So I pointed out there was no biblical evidence that He had big shiny red balls, let alone so many of them ; Hollywood tradition however shows The Hooved One as having them ;-)
I also sent her this criticism I found on the net :-

Actually, SWMBO and I exchanged presents a few days earlier, celebrating the Winter Solstice, a pagan tradition. We decorated with plywood cut-outs made in Saxony's Erzgebirge mountains, like this one which Doug (Canada) sent to me :-)

But we also have a number of porcelain model houses in the style of a medieval town centre, which we bought from this stall in a local Xmas market. They are hollow and you can put little rechaud candles in them for a pleasant illumination :-)

The green-roofed cathedral shown in the photo is a replica of the one in Paderborn. The white building in the top row is Paderborn's Theodoraneum grammar school. Both ideal for the Paderborn Xmas market stall. Scale is about HO for any model railway fans :-)

BTW, Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Merry Christmas; the Hawaiian alphabet has only 13 letters: five vowels (each with a long pronunciation and a short one) and eight consonants, one of which is the glottal stop called 'okina. So this is how Hawaiians write Merry Xmas.

Whatever your religion or lack thereof; we wish you Happy Holidays :-)

Comments (3)
Ed (USA) asked "Can you show us some of the plywood Erzgebirge fretwork ?" Sure, here is a 22 second mp4 video of a mobile one. The rising air from the candles turn the fan at the top.
Doug (Canada) tells me that Xmas was actually banned for several decades by Christians themselves, quoting emielcia | dreamstime :
"The original war on Christmas was waged during the sixteenth and seventeenth century by Puritans, or Protestant Christians who believed that people needed strict rules to be religious and that any kind of merrymaking was sinful. Shocking as it sounds, followers of Jesus Christ in both America and England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, believing it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism," according to "Shocked by the Bible" (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008). "Most Americans today are unaware that Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681." All Christmas activities, including dancing, seasonal plays, games, singing carols, cheerful celebration and especially drinking were banned by the Puritan-dominated Parliament of England in 1644, with the Puritans of New England following suit. Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and the Plymouth colony made celebrating Christmas a criminal offense, according to "Once Upon a Gospel" (Twenty-Third Publications, 2008). Christmas trees and decorations were considered to be unholy pagan rituals, and the Puritans also banned traditional Christmas foods such as mince pies and pudding. Puritan laws required that stores and businesses remain open all day on Christmas, and town criers walked through the streets on Christmas Eve calling out "No Christmas, no Christmas!" Well, I hadn't known that, Doug, thanks ;-)
Barbara (UK) asked "So what did you have for your (non-)Xmas dinner yesterday?" Pheasant. I'll regurgitate some (photos) in a forthcoming blogpost, OK?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Saving Charlie Brown

For this story of mercy, let us cast out minds back to this day in 1943, during the height of World War Two, before most of us were even born.

Charlie Brown (21) had flown his B-17 Flying Fortress bomber "Ye Olde Pub" in an attack on the Focke-Wulf factory in Bremen. It was only his second mission, for his crew of nine it was their first; inexperienced, all of them. Charlie Brown - for that was his real name, which may be peanuts to you young folks - got his plane severely hit by flak on the run-in and was being chased by Messerschmidt 109s on the way back. To escape these, Brown spiralled his bomber steeply down to low altitude so that the Messerschmidts would think he was going to crash. The ruse worked and he levelled out to head back to England at low level. However, he had pulled out of his dive just over the Luftwaffe base at Jever on the west German coast :-(

On the Luftwaffe base, Lt. Franz Stigler (28) had just refuelled and re-armed his Messerschmidt BF 109 fighter. He scrambled the BF109 and gave chase, soon catching the heavily damaged B-17. The B-17's tailguns did not turn to aim at him however, and as he pulled in close behind he saw the tailgunner was dead with a gaping hole in his chest which had pumped blood all over the tailgun and frozen there. Weaving around to see the sides, he saw gaping holes from the flak and inside, crew members trying to bandage their bleeding comrades. Stigler, who had originally wanted to be a priest before WW2 decided to show mercy. He pulled up next to Brown's cockpit and signalled him to land in Jever or at least divert to neutral Sweden. Scared shitless, Brown was frozen at the controls of the battered B-17 and did not respond. Stigler realised that if he left the B-17 to its own devices, German flak would shoot it down. So, at high risk to himself, he tucked in close formation next to the B-17 so the flak would hold off and accompanied the stricken B-17 out over the North Sea out of range of the flak.

Stigler then saluted Brown to wish him luck and flew 20 minutes back to Jever. Brown limped back to England, landing at the first opportunity. The crew went on to complete their 25 flight tour (despite Stigler's gentleman-like mercy). The B-17 crew were not allowed to tell their story lest the fighting spirit of the Allied aircrews be affected. And of course Stigler kept his mouth shut lest he be shot for treason and cowardice. He went on to fly 487 missions, being shot down several times, and at the end of the war was flying the new Me-262 jet fighter under the command of German fighter ace Adolf Galland (104 victories).

Fast forward to 1990. Stigler had emigrated to Canada. He bought a Messerschmidt 108, a 4 seater tailwheel sports plane (I've flown one and found it superior to a Cessna 172 and a Piper PA28), which he used to demonstrate at warbird flying days in the USA. And so - to cut a long story short - Brown and Stigler met for the first time and fell weeping into one-another's arms :-) At last, Brown's regular nightmares about him always being shot down stopped :-) Brown introduce Stigler to Pechout (the B-17 radio operator) and Blackford (the B-17 gunner) both saved by Stigler's act of mercy back in 1943. They ensured that Stigler was made an honorary member of the old 379th Bomber Group until his death in 3/2008. Brown died in 11/2008. The story appears in Riva Press's 2017 book Eine hohere Pflicht / A higher Call, ISBN-10: 3742301977. Charlie Brown's copy of the history of German fighter squadron 44 contains a hand-written dedication by Franz Stigler , Angel of Mercy :-)

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " The story of The Angel of Mercy was a real gut-wrencher when it came out in the news. I don't recall where I first saw/read the story, but I do recall that it was many years ago and how it inspired tears to the eyes. Thanks for the reminder, Stu. It is a fine, true tale." Well known in the USA, less so in Germany :-(
Ed (USA) wrote "I found a video of their reunion on You-Tube :-)" Good one, thanks Ed.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Challenging Patchwork

I have blogged about patchworking in the past.

It comes in varying degrees of difficulty. The simplest is just rectangles of different coloured material sewn together. More difficult are overlapping patterns, which need good planning. Even more difficult are irregular shapes as abstract art.

But the most challenging work imho, is to take a photograph and try to make a cushion cover out of it. Due to the curves in the original, considerable latitude will have to be granted for artistic licence, but the result should be recognisable :-)

So here is my old-timer Porsche 944.

The photo was blown up to A3 size so the dimensions could be taken off at a 1:1 scale for the cushion cover. Here is the resulting cushion cover (after 3 months).

Not bad eh, the number plate is even legible on the cushion :-)
One more cushion for SWMBO's collection :-)
Yes, it would have been far, far, simpler to print the photo onto plain cloth and then fold that together and sew to make the cushion, but this was a unique challenge :-)

Comments (3)
Ed (USA) opined "Don't give up your day job :-(" I have time on my hands.
Barbara (GB) wrote "Well you got the colour right, but it is a bit . . . angular? Agreed. So I'm claiming artistic licence?
Cop Car wrote "Of course, it is angular. Stealth, you know?" Hadn't thought of that excuse ;-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Beware the Bitcoin Bubble :-(

Bitcoins are a socalled cryptocurrency, impractical as a currency, and currently an (imho) highly speculative investment. People are greedy, and having seen the 'valuation' of bitcoins go from $1000 at the beginning of this year to over $17,000 this week, want to get on the bandwagon. They are likely to get their fingers (and investment) burnt, as the bitcoin has many of the characteristics of a bubble.

Bitcoins are kept artificially scarce (there are at most 21 million of them, about 17 million are currently in use) to keep the value up. There are about 100,000 transaction in the waiting list, so you can't just jump in or out quickly. There can only be about 8 transactions per second; the blockchains are decentralised and so the total energy cost of processing them is now about 25% of the energy cost of (say) the Netherlands :-( Finding a nonce (= mining a hit) currently takes several quintillion tries and it gets more difficult daily. Indeed it has been estimated that the crash will take place at the latest in 2022 (Christopher Chapman, Citigroup).

Personally, I think the bubble will burst sooner rather than later and am staying clear now. Do so too. Don't get burned when it crashes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the nature of economic bubbles, I have some recommended reading for you : Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds written by Charles Mackay in 1841 (sic!) and still true :-) ISBN of my 2007 reprint is 1-897597-32-0. Mackay covers 3 famous bubbles : the Mississippi scheme, the South Sea Bubble, and Tulipomania. As long as people remain greedy, such bubbles will continue :-(

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " News outlets are continuing to let us know of the hacking from North Korea that is netting them millions in virtual currency from other countries. Of course, that can also be achieved by hacking into normal financial institutions to steal real (on paper) currency. We pay for our conveniences." The U.S. government is planning to sell off confiscated bitcoins seized during an opioid drug case. Presumably the drug guys did a plea barter : wallet password for a lighter sentence ? Nearer to you, I see that Kansas City has 3 Bitcoin ATMs, but a Kansas state government commission has ruled that candidates running for office in state and local elections will be prohibited from accepting bitcoin campaign contributions.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fire that Advertising Agency!

Over in the UK, in order to meet forthcoming anti-pollution regulations, a new version of the immortal London Taxicab has been announced. It is the TX e-city which is an electric vehicle. It is displayed in this photo in front of Buckingham Palace.

Now I don't know what the (un)patriotic advertising agency has displayed on the side of the taxi-cab, but it certainly is NOT the union flag!

The Union flag looks like this :-

Fire that Advertising Agency! They don't even know what the national flag should look like. It should have the wide white diagonal on top on the left.

I repeat : Fire that Advertising Agency for that Mega-Fail!

Comments (3)
Cop Car wrote " I would get after the people who hired the advertising agency. They should have caught the error, right off. If the agency was not within the UK (or were slightly dyslexic) it's easy enough to fail to notice that the flag is not symmetrical about the x-axis. It reminds me of years ago when I was trying to get people in our company's publications department (in the Commonwealth of Virginia) to draw me a nice sine wave for a report I was writing (in the State of Florida). After four or five tries, I asked them to please consult a mathematician or engineer on-staff in their building. It came out beautifully." I too had always thought of the sine wave as oscillating between zero and one until in one exam we were asked to solve sin(x)=2 for x; the result is a complex number and it took me over ¼ hour to get it :-(
Barbara (UK) wrote "You seem to complain about this a lot!" Yes, probably thrice a year because there are always UK people who don't know it! In particular, UK athletes so surprised by winning that they hold the flag up wrongly. It would take 30 seconds to teach them, but UK schools don't do that any more :-( It's like in the US, there are Texans who don't know the difference between their own state flag and the flag of Chile :-(
Nils (N) asks "Is this an episode of Sheldon Cooper's Fun with Flags? ;-)" Good idea ;-)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Talent of Bill Bailey

England has a talented comedian called Bill Bailey. But he is also an accomplished musician, able to play the A to Z of instruments (Alphorn, Banjo, Cowbells, etc through to Zither). Here I've chosen three videos for those of you not acquainted with his musical humour.

First off, he takes a traditional medieval folk song Scarborough Fair which was a Simon and Garfunkel hit and plays it in a Rammstein style, even singing in (his version of ) German.

Next up, a hilarious blues number from the Royal Birthday Variety Performance. For this one, the Queen was indisposed and so Prince Charles and Camilla were the Royals who were present at 2 days notice. So overnight, Bill Bailey and Robin Williams came up with these lyrics to embarass Charles as much as possible. Just enjoy the lyrics, they are hilarious, given the context - the Royal Birthday Blues ;-)

For my third choice he teams up with Soumik Dattas and his Indian Sitar ensemble and gives us Duelling Banjos Sitars ;-)

I think it is great how he can combine comedy with music in such a variety of ways. I hope you enjoy these examples as much as I do :-)

Surf for more by googling him if you enjoy this musical humour too.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Open letter to Elon Musk

Elon Musk, Dr.h.c (mult), B.S, B.S,
CEO and CTO of Space-X
Rocket Rd, Hawthorne, CA 90250, USA

Proposal for a joint space project :-)

Dear sir,
You may be aware of a statement by the famous British philosopher Earl Bertrand Russell about what came to be known as Russell's Teapot. Russell's teapot is an analogy, formulated to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making unfalsifiable claims, rather than shifting the burden of disproof to others. Part of his statement reads " If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes..."

Let us prove his assertion by the simple expedient of putting one there.

Now I do know that US law prohibits Space-X from hiring foreigners to work on rocket technology, which is rather ironic considering the US would not have a space program at all if it were not for foreigners like Wernher von Braun et al, which is why I have merely suggested a cooperative project.

Your contribution would be a spaceship going to Mars, which I understand you are developing anyway, so there would be almost no additional cost to you if you were to drop off a teapot along the way.

My light-weight contribution would be a low-mass teapot ;-) But no ordinary plain white china teapot! There is, after all, a remote chance that some space-faring alien, millenia in the future, might recover said teapot. Therefore we need to make it obvious to said alien that we are an advanced race which understands some mathematics (or at least, some elementary topology). I therefore propose painting said teapot in seven distinct colours, which are all needed to draw a map on a torus such that adjacent areas are different colours (it's just 4 on a plane, but 7 on a torus).

A teapot is toroidal if the handle meets the pot at both ends.

If we are also to put a payload into the teapot to illustrate its purpose to the aforementioned alien, may I suggest Broken Orange Pekoe in preference to Darjeeling First Flush? Just my personal taste there, YMMV ;-)

We would have to instruct the mars-bound astronauts to handle the teapot with care when unpacking it and ejecting it through the airlock so that it wasn't damaged, lest people think this were a crack-pot project ;-)

Yours sincerely,
Stu Savory, Ph.D, B.Sc(Hons)
Purveyor of crazy ideas :-)

R.S.V.P. ;-)

Comments (8)
Doug (Canada) wrote " Sadly I think by putting one there you would invalidate Earl Bertrand Russell's claim as his claim requires that no one actually know for certain that there is a teapot orbiting the sun." We would not put a transponder or a reflector on board the stealthy teapot :-)
To which Doug replied " Ah but whoever, let's say it was you, who put it there would know and so long as a single person knows for sure there is one there the claim is invalidated." So I'd have to suicide? That was unforeseen.
To which Doug replied again "Well there you go - proof you don't have ESP :)" Yes, It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards ;-)
Ed (USA) grins "Great troll ;-)" Like Chrysoprase?
Pergelator asks "How do you propose containing the tea? Even crackpot ideas need to be fleshed out a bit more." In a tea-bag, larger than the spout?
Keith (GB) gives a tip "The folks at mathgear have a 7-colour torus mug (but it's currently sold out). See here." I knew that and have asked them for a price to make a 7-colour torus teapot for me. If the 7-colour teapot is too expensive for my pension, I could always ask the (7-colour?) LGBT community for crowd funding ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "Tea in your teapot? According to Tenniel's illustration it should be a dormouse, the March Hare and the Hatter put the Dormouse's head in a teapot in Alice in Wonderland." I'd forgotten that ;-)
Petra (A) asks "We have really big telescopes now. Could we see a teapot now?" No. You can never get better than the diffraction limit. Hubble's mirror is only 2.4 meters across (so it would fit in the Space Shuttle's bay). The biggest Terran scope is 10.4 meters across. They can't even resolve enough to see the Apollo landers on the moon (about 2.5 meters across), let alone a small teapot (say 20 cms across) MUCH further away (½ way to Mars).

Recent Writings
(Non-)Xmas Dinner
Mele Kalikimaka
Saving Charlie Brown
Challenging Patchwork
Bitcoin Bubble
Bill Bailey videos
Letter to Elon Musk
The wind cries Mary
Russian Sculptors fail
Dances with wolves
Says our TV !
Coach and Horses
Visa-free travel
Globetrotter Glamping
Burning Boat
Gone Fishing
The candy maker
Sex on the beach
World's biggest butterfly
Dine at a King's table
Another good man gone
Time-Travel sculpture
Write a Halloween Joke
Sputnik turns 60

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Mostly Cajun
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Yellowdog Grannie

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FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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