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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 bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Friday, February 28, 2014

The secret life of Christ

That'd be Sebastian Christ*, a young German author.

Christ spent some time in the military, did a study year in Washington (DC), travelled to Afghanistan as a freelance journalist, covered politics on Facebook and via GoogleMail. Wrote a book about the disaster that is Afghanistan. So he had every expectation that US spying agencies would have files on him.

So, citing the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), which (theoretically) gives everyone access to their own files, he wrote to the FBI, the CIA, the DIA, the DSS, the USSS and the NSA asking (naively?) what files they had on him :-)

Now he has published an eBook essay (~35pp) documenting their replies (such as they were) : "Mein Brief an die NSA", Mikrotext-Verlag, Berlin.

FBI : "Dear Mr. Christ, for reasons of national security, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a file on you" or words to that effect, FBI reply, 3.Sept.2013.

NSA : "Dear Mr. Christ, ... the FOIA does not apply to the NSA.... which is entitled ... to keep its activities secret.", NSA reply, 20. Sept. 2013. Seems NONE of these intransparent agencies were willing to release ANY information, despite the FOIA :-( Catch-22 is that unless you can provide proof that you were spied upon (documents, protocols, etc), you cannot get access to them. Edward Snowden's transparency efforts notwithstanding :-(

Needless to say, this gets my back up! Which is why I'm blogging about it.

If you prefer to read in English, I can recommend a brand new book on a similar theme : Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin**, an American journalist.

Comments (2):
Jay (USA) mocked me "Fat Old Stu, a confessed(sic!) Atheist, writing about the life of Christ? What are the odds against that? ;-)" Errr, 666 to 1?
Hattie (Hawaii) took the Kindle tip and ran with it "I downloaded 'Mein Brief..'. Will read it with great interest. Thanks!" De nada :-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Not just a telescope

As I write this (on tuesday) it is Galileo's 450th birthday anniversary. He was born on 15 February 1564, you may cry, but that was on the Julian calender. When the Gregorian calender was introduced (1582 in the Holy Roman Empire) they were 10 days apart, so on our Gregorian calender it was February 25th.

Most of us remember Galileo for his improvements to the telescope. The telescope was invented by Dutchman Hans Lippershey in 1608. Galileo heard about in 1609 and built his own on the same (3x) design. 3x is the power of an opera glass. Improved (8x) designs were sold to sea merchants and the Doge of Venice (25 August 1609). 8x is a typical magnification for a modern binocular. He built scopes of up to 30x. He discovered moons of Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Neptune, saw sunspots, and documented the roughness of the moon's surface. The world's first astronomer :-)

But in this article I want to mention his other scientific work, of which you may not be aware. Skip the rest if you are.

As a professor he investigated the pendulum and found that the square of the period varies directly with the length of the pendulum. He measured the period using his pulse! He discovered the pitch of a sound to be proportional to frequency by scraping a chisel across a grating at different speeds. He studied gravity's acceleration by rolling balls down inclined planes; the story that he dropped different sized balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa may not be true, it might just have been a thought experiment, to disprove Aristotle's theory that heavier objects fall faster.

He also did some pure maths : e.g. he proved that there are as many perfect squares as there are whole numbers, even though most numbers are not perfect squares. As a physicist, in 1593 he built a water thermometer. In 1604 he built a military "compass"/theodolite enabling artillery gunners to calculate angles of elevation and gunpowder charges. He and his instrument maker sold over 100 of them. In 1624 he built a compound microscope. For all of his inventions he wrote the instruction manuals and gave courses teaching how to use them. In his last year (he died in 1642), when totally blind, he designed an escapement mechanism for a pendulum clock. He also wrote a dozen books (discourses, as he called them).

All in all, a very eventful scientific life, especially when being persecuted by the One True Church®, purveyor of the Dark Ages :-( It wasn't until 31 October 1992 that the then Pope apologised for his persecution :-(

Let us remember a great man today! "Eppur si muove!"

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "I don't understand the perfect-square remark, so explain please." Consider 1,2,3,4,5... Their squares are 1,4,9,16,25.... There are more numbers between these, viz. 2,3,5,6,7,8,10,11, 12,13,14,15,17, 18,19,20,21,22,23,24 than there are perfect squares. The density of squares decreases as their square roots increase. At infinity it is zero. So it is surprising to think that there are exactly as many perfect squares as there are integers. Proof : every integer has exactly one square, no more, no less. Therefore there are exactly as many perfect squares as there are integers. QED. This is known as Galileo's paradox.
Gudrun (A) asks "Just how hard was it for him to make a telescope?". First he needed to make a lens of long positive focal length (=convex). Draw an arc of a circle with radius say 1 foot (using a big pair of compasses such as the teacher has in school maths classes for blackboard use), about an inch across. Use this arc as a template when grinding one side of a piece of glass. Grind the other side flat. Maybe teach yourself multi-stage hand-grinding first! Now he needs an eyepiece lens of a shorter and negative focal length (=concave). Draw an arc of a circle with radius say 4 inches. Using this arc as a template grind a concave lens one inch across (actually ¼ inch would suffice, being about the size of the light-inlet to your eye). Affix them to the ends of a 1 inch diameter tube (made by rolling layers of parchment?) about 8 inches long (1 foot minus 4 inches). Hey presto, a 3 power telescope. Albeit with spherical abberration etc. The quality of the glass available 400 years ago was not spectacular (pun intended ;-). It is not a short process; I once ground a 6 inch parabolic mirror to make a reflecting telescope. Took me months to get it right! Ideally, you want to grind to an accuracy of ¼ wavelength of the light; Galileo didn't even know light was waves (Newton discovered that 100 years later, c.f. 'Opticks', 1704 AD), and so Galileo just did the best he could!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Inventing Face-Book ;-)

Have you ever wondered what life might be like in a parallel universe?

Here's an idea for a meme, wherein you take a semi-selfie of half your face with the other half covered by a book you are currently reading and promoting, and share that selfie/book-tip with your online friends? You might christen this meme Face-Book ;-)

This is Improbable ;-)

In a parallel universe this was a meme supposedly invented/borrowed by a Mr. Sugar-Mountain ;-)

But I thought that was an improbable parallel universe and I could go one better than that :- Turn your head through 90° to face a book you have written yourself. I'd call this kind of promotional selfie a Face-Book-Profile.

But I'll bet someone somewhere in one of the parallel universes has come up with misused that name already :-(

One more tip : really I should have covered my nose completely with the book. Don't want people thinking I'm using a sniffer at any time ;-)

In any universe, I'm too late with this idea to become a billionaire :-(

Comments(2) :
Jan (NL) opines "You have a very strange sense of humour!" It's only mock and droll, but I like it!
Keith (UK) grins "LOVE the Stones song pun above; I am SO swiping that!" You are welcome :-)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Knight Rider resurfaces :-)

Out of the blue, my old friend Ralph Knight, whom I haven't seen for about 20 years, sent me an email. He recently got a tablet PC and has started exploring the intertubes. Ralph was the original Knight Rider, a sidecar racer from the Isle of Man. Here's a photo he sent me, from early days. Looks like a BSA kneeler outfit to me.

And here's another - from decades later - of him posing on one of the rare URS Fath Fours at a classic race meet. Fath had won the sidecar TT and the sidecar world championship in 1960 on a BMW. So why did Fath build a four? To get a power advantage over the domineering BMW twins. All other things being equal (500cc limit), engine power is proportional to the cube root of the number of cylinders. So with twice as many cylinders Fath could get 26% more power and thus be about 8% faster. He won the World Championship in 1968 with this homebuilt URS four.

Personally, I could never get the hang of sidecar racing. A friend of mine's passenger scraped her backside cheek on the road once (about 50 years ago), no-one wore arse-sliders back then, so I volunteered to help out as passenger, so he could still race at the weekend. We did one track day of practice and one weekend of racing. I ended up black and blue from the bumps at Brands Hatch and decided sidecars were not for me! So here I am, just posing, on the way to the 2002 MGP, on an outfit in the National Motorcycle Museum (UK). I think it was either a Mick Boddice or a Geoff Gawley(sp?) outfit, but I'm not sure.

Notice that Brit sidecar outfits have the boat on the left and continental bikes on the right, a tradition taken from the road outfits, so the driver is more in the centre of the road, I think.

Now turn up the sound, and listen to a four on open megaphones at the Creg :-) Comments (4) :
Marie (F) asks "How much slower are the sidecars than a 2-wheel motorcycle?" About 11-12%. The fastest solo lap of the TT was about 131mph, the fastest sidecar lap 116mph, if I remember correctly.
Ralph (D) clarified my article "...The sidecar that you are on Stuart , is the Chris Vincent machine , maybe his BSA or the URS that he rode later. You can see the CV on the fairing , and he mainly had the green paint on his machines . It must have been in 1973, when I was racing my BSA ( with engine from my crashed road machine , complete with 8-1 pistons , std gearbox , and twin carb head bought for 5 pounds from BSA test rider friend ) that I raced against the CV BSA at Cadwell Park . It was not Chris Vincent riding though, because he sold the BSA and I think he tried a 2 stroke." Thanks, Ralph. I need to change the text in my photo-album too then.
Doug (Canada) sent this link 'Tron' designer creates a real-world superbike Wow! But I doubt I'd be able to afford it :-(
Ralph (D) has another answer to my question "...why did Fath build a four ? Because BMW would not let him have a Rennsport BMW motor , so he built his own engine. Seems that he won World Championship in 1960 on a BMW , then after a accident in 1961 , he was out of racing for five years . In that time , and when BMW said no to a motor , then along with West German friends , he designed , built and developed the dohc four with fuel injection . Made his comeback in 1967 and took the title from BMW , which was the first time BMW did not win it since 1954..." That showed 'em!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stupid IQ Test :-(

O ne of the national magazines here pointed us to a "new" type of Japanese IQ-test (in English) which turns out to be rather stupid. First objection, it is a multiple choice scheme with only 20 questions so any result is going to be severely quantised (+/- ten points). Expecting to get 130 +/- 10 which is my usual IQ score, I went and did the test (firewall up, virus-killer on, in case 'you pay with your data').

Second objection: it is mostly maths puzzles so I just breezed through to a perfect score, which is absolute nonsense! Normal IQ distribution has a mean of 100 and a standard distribution of 13, so the probability of someone having an IQ of 200 should be about 4*10-15 :-(

Now let's look at a typically stupid question they had :-

You could answer Elephant because it is the only pachyderm and the only one with a trunk. You could answer Mouse because it is the only one that squeaks, Dog because it is the only one that barks, etc etc. What they expected was 'Snake' because it the only one without legs. Being really subtle you could answer "I don't know" because all the others are animals ;-) They mix answers and a meta-answer :-(

So I was relieved to find this statement, which I have ringed in red, in the small print :-)

How did you do on this test?

FYI, here is a list of The Top 10 Most Intelligent People in the World.

Comments (2) :
Schorsch (D) asks "Can you imagine what it is like to be at the other end of the scale?" Probably not. But I recommend y'all read the short story Flowers for Algernon, which gives us an inkling :-) There was a person in my primary school class who learned neither to read nor write. So he left his leaving-exam paper empty. I often wonder how he would have rated if someone had read the questions to him and he could have answered verbally. I think he later got a job as a shepherd???
Dave (USA) has a CNN link for us entitled " What your IQ score doesn't tell you".

Monday, February 17, 2014

Safer Internet Day Report

Tuesday of last week, the 11th, was Safer Internet Day, an action sponsored by the EU. SWMBO and I went to the minimally-budgeted small afternoon happening at the central library in Paderborn, because I'd promised to report on it. Disappointingly small :-(

There were 5 or 6 specialists there and about 20 members of the public. The first specialist we talked to was Randolf Latusek, a policeman responsible for fighting cybercrime in this area, of which a daily average of 1 gets reported. Most turn out to be attacks from overseas (Nigerian prince style), so he can just pass the reports on, almost no convictions result. Others are dishonest eBay offers or shops. He didn't/wouldn't give a statistical breakdown of local cybercrimes, so we moved on to talk to Fabian Brinkmann. He works at the Volksbank and was talking about internet banking. He gave examples of weak passwords and explained how to come up with stronger mnemonic ones using the first letters of words from a passphrase interspersed with non-alphanumeric characters. FWIW, their Internet-banking small print requires that a) your OS be patched up to date, b) you use a virus killer with a current signature database, c) you use a firewall, and d) you verify that the page your browser shows you is an httpS page. Afaik, there is no requirement that your browser has an anti-phishing blacklist.

After this, we talked to Helge Jung of the C3PB (local branch of the Chaos Computer Club) and two other C3PB members whose names I failed to note (sorry). They demonstrated a WLAN sniffer intercepting passwords from accesses to http pages and that the passwords accessing httpS pages could not be extracted because encoded end to end. Geekily fascinated, they sadly did not explain in a manner suited for beginners how to cope with the http-only situation.

Also present were Anna Drescher and Michael Craemer, both from the Paderborn computer library, but I didn't get a chance to talk to them.

Just checking, the computer library didn't have any of my books (see right sidebar) in stock so would have had to get them from the county library or university library. This was not unexpected, they are to out of date now. The average age of the books I saw there appeared to be about 2 to 3 years, so the library is really up to date :-)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jötunvillur code broken :-)

Three of you good folks, knowing of my interest in cryptography, sent me heads-up links that the Vikings' Jötunvillur code has been broken.

Thanks to all three of you. Code-breaker and runologist K. Jonas Nordby used bilingual runic sticks (think Rosetta Stone written in Futhark) to make this breakthrough. Follow Olaf's link for the details.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Biking to China & back.

Thursday we went to see Thomas Houf's multimedia show, presented at the Kulturwerkstatt in Paderborn. Thomas Houf is a 50 year old adventurer and long-distance motorcyclist who rode a 20-year old BMW solo all the way from Cologne in Germany across Europe and through several of the Whatever-stans to the Chinese border and back through Russia on a more northerly route. We got to see his photos and videos for a couple of hours (€15 entry fee was OK).

Five months and 27,000 kms in the saddle, NO punctures(!), only one accident and not many breakdowns. Lucky guy, eventful trip :-)

I was envious, as I no longer have the stamina to do these kinds of distances; I stick to Europe these days, and hard-topped roads :-)

Go visit his website (which is in German) to see some of his great photos, perhaps read his blog, and see what he is planning for his next trip :-)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Commercial interests (sales of flowers, chocolates, jewellery, dinner dates etc) tell us we have to celebrate St. Valentine's Day today. Arbitrarily, I might add. The One True Church® (OTC) doesn't even know which Valentine they sainted! Nothing is reliably known of St. Valentine except his name and the allegation that he died on February 14 on Via Flaminia in the north of Rome. It is uncertain whether St. Valentine is to be identified as one, two or three saints of the same name(sic!) . Of the three, one was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Terni and a third in the Roman province of Africa. Several differing martyrologies have been added to later hagiographies that are unreliable themselves. Pope Gelasius I wrote of Valentine "... his name is... reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." In other words, the OTC just made up a myth! Bloody typical! And typically bloody!

One hagiography claims he was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded. Not by the Red Queen, nevertheless, that worked :-) The hagiography that has him as the priest claims he was marrying Christians. Since married men could not be called up as soldiers, this pissed the emperor off, so he had Valentine executed. Eleven other saints having the name Valentine are also commemorated by the OTC.

Chaucer was the author who associated Valentine with romantic love; he made that up too. Perhaps 'losing your head' over someone arose thus?

Whatever. Considering the OTC don't even know exactly which one they are talking about and Chaucer made up the romantic bilge too, I wonder whether we should submit to the commercial exploitation? YMMV :-(

BTW : St. Valentine is also the OTC's patron saint of epilepsy. In contrast, in the Islamic world, this job was assigned to multiple Sheiks ;-)

Comments (2) :
Dave (USA) groans "What a terrible pun!" Indeed! And in Mecca there are no strip clubs. Well, there are, but they are very discreet and simply named after their owner, e.g. Sheik M'bebe ;-)
Nadia (SA) tells me "Here in Saudi Arabia, Valentine's Day is forbidden for religious reasons!" I didn't know that, have a nice day anyway :-)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gay Ski-Jumping announced ;-)

After the success of the Ladies' Olympic Ski-jumping, introduced for the first time at Sotchi this year and won by the pretty young German girl Carina Vogt(22), President Putin (aka Vlad the Paler) has announced that he will introduce ski-jumping for gays too, in these Sotchi Olympics :-)

He personally will stand somewhere uphill of the landing zone, carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, both barrels loaded with Brenneke slugs. Contestants are not to start their run down the jump-slope until the President personally calls the start command, i.e. "Pull!"

It is recommended that non-lesbian female spectators and straight males stand on the same side of the slope as the President, i.e. far right.

Comments (3) :
Schorsch (D) laughs "You have a wicked sense of humour, but not PC ;-)" I'll probably get my visa pulled for this blog entry :-(
Xtreme English wrote "Surely you've seen this one. Do we need any further proof??" The distance from the eastern tip of Russia to Wasilla, Alaska, is 1130km. So a) Putin has some great binoculars and b) Palin could see through mountain ranges. Besides which, Sarah Palin's house there does not have any curtains, so what exactly was Vlad the Voyeur looking at? ;-)
Peter (UK) wrote "Following your blog post for (pre-valentine's)... someone said they will have change signs. See this ski-lift sign ;-)" Oh dear...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

35 years together :-)

35 years together? Yesterday that's over half our lives that SWMBO and I have shared our lives (and with a series of bulldogs too :-). So here's a pair of photos of SWMBO; then and now

Back in '79 we had intended waiting until Valentine's day (how romantic) but couldn't ;-) Now we've got a silver wedding anniversary coming up next year.

Thankyou, m'dear :-)

Comments (4) :
Cop Car (USA) stumbles over the 35-year maths " On this side of the pond, a couple's 25th wedding anniversary is referred to as silver. Am I missing something (as usual)?... Apropos waiting : You remind me of a family tale that my mother told. Dad proposed marriage. Mom accepted and asked when he wanted to marry. "Soon." Was his reply. "Is next Sunday OK?" was her reply. And they did marry the following Sunday!" We've been together for 35 years, the last 24 actually married (civil ceremony only) , before that we were "living in sin" for 11 years :-)
Xtreme English expanded on this " Yes, 25 years of wedded blitz is the silver anniversary (meaning, you have to give 25-year celebrants something made out of silver). The list gets imprecise after 15 years and skips to every 5th year. So there is nothing mandated for the 34th wedding anniversary. 30 is pearl, 35 is coral. Take your pick, or skip on to 40 or 45: ruby or sapphire. 50 is gold, of course, some things never change. And congratulations! SWMBO has aged magnificently! unlike you, she has not lost her hair." Nor her mind, still sharp as a rat-trap as they say ;-)
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote "I didn't realize you have been posting right along, so I'm catching up. Congratulations on your long-lasting marriage. We celebrate our 50th in June, along with my 75th birthday. That is quite an accumulation of years." We started later than you two, took a while to find one another.
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "Congratulations to you both. And what lovely tulips." Here's a better shot of them after SWMBO's ikebana :-)

Monday, February 10, 2014

R U bugging me? Here's looking back at you;-)

Last wednesday I blogged about books on the history of spying. On thursday 23th I blogged about a big cyberhack here in Germany. What a paranoid blog ;-) So today I want to talk about trackers (=web bugs) and see which of you use them (perhaps inadvertently).

A web bug is an object that is embedded in a web page or email and is usually invisible to the user but allows checking that a user has viewed the page or email. Most blog owners use them to collect webstats, which I regard as a valid use. However, if you have ads on your website, they may be tracking me, my Amazon purchases, my surfing habits (for example, watching this Bill Gates' pawn video ;-), diverse cookies etc. These I block, using Ghostery; I also block most frequent adverts for the same reason. Avg. 8000 ads blocked per week :-)

So here is a count of the number of web-bugs on the sites on my blogroll according to Ghostery and AdBlockPlus. The number should be ONE (so you can collect your webstats, a legitimate interest). If your number is higher, you might like to investigate why this is the case :-)

Ain Bulldog Blog SWMBO's blog. 1 tracker (=SiteMeter), 0 ads, as it should be.
Badtux... 5
Balloon Juice 12
Cop Car (aka Kansas City Terrorism Early Warning Group) 5
Curmudgeonly... 7, 5 ads.
Demeur 5, 3 ads.
Earth-Bound Misfit 5, 2 ads.
Fail Blog 12, 10 ads.
Finding life hard? 2, 2 ads.
Greg Laden 5
Hattie (Hawaii) 6
Making Light 2
Mockpaperscissors 5, 2 ads.
Mostly Cajun 9
Murr Brewster 6
Not Always Right 10
Observing Hermann 6, 5 ads.
Occio Lungo 12
Pergelator 6, 2 ads.
Rants from t'Rookery 6, 3 ads.
Scary Duck 8, 5 ads.
Spork in the drawer 6
Squatlo Rant 8, 2 ads.
The Alternate Brain 4
The Magistrate's Blog 3
Xtreme English 7, 2 ads.
Yellowdog Grannie 2, 1 ad.

And the privacy winner is - Renke - (D), with a zero zero result :-)

For comparison, here are some commercial sites.
Google 0 ! That surprised me, but their spider drops by every week(+ve).
Wikipedia 0. As expected :-)
BBC News 8, 4 ads.
CNN News 9, 16 ads :-(
YouTube 1, 2 ads. Less than I'd expected.
Amazon 2, 3 ads. Less than I'd expected. 9, 15 ads. My local weather channel, ad financed!

Mirror, mirror, on the wall . . .

If you have a different opinion of valid use, mail me a comment.
Your mileage may vary ;-)

Comments(7) :
BG Loterij (NL) wrote "...We are very pleased to inform you that your email address which we extracted from the Internet and attached to E-Ticket No. 003-90185534(02-14) has won you the sum EUR 2,830, 000 (Two Million Eight Hundred and Thirty Thousand Euro) ..." And it was signed by a Mr. A. Bot too! Hilarious! How many greedy suckers still fall for these cons?
Jenny (Ibiza) gave a heads-up "Tomorrow is Safer Internet Day, so let's see what happens then." OK. There will be a small afternoon happening at the central library in Paderborn. I'll go & report on it.
Renke also gives a heads-up " By happy coincidence tomorrow is not only Safer Internet Day but also The Day We Fight Back - somehow more on topic, especially as INHOPE is promoting web filter software..." The (good?) folks from Fort Meade were on my site last thursday, calling themselves the US Gov't Procurement Dept. (procuring my data, right?), at 19:16 local time, accessing this article I wrote giving a worked example of the use of One Time Pads. What did they hope to learn? Nothing 'Classified' here!
Gerd (A) asks "You mean you can see everybody who visits your blog, and when, and what they read?" Yes, except for the ~20% who come via an anonymiser proxy and those who come from a .mil (US military) site, which are centralised. Not just me either, anybody with web analytics can see that too for visitors to their site. If you don't like that, you could always read my pages in Google's cache (which might be a week old) or use an anonymiser yourself :-)
David (IL) asks "Do you get many .mil visitors, e.g. to your crypto articles?" No. Most recently a mail from a .mil guy wanting some material from me for a manual he is writing on asymmetric warfare; I thanked him but pointed him elsewhere. You'd think the .mil had enough resources of their own :-(
Schorsch (D) replies to Renke : "Tell Renke that news magazine Der Spiegel has set up some concrete measures supporting The Day We Fight Back. They have instructional web-pages with 1) Guidelines for Informants: How to Contact SPIEGEL Securely, and 2) Sending Leaks: How to Encrypt Your Data in a Container and 3) How to Encrypt Emails: Protect Yourself from Online Snoops." Thanks for the heads-up, Schorsch, there are equivalent info-pages in German too of course.
Xtreme English wrote "Arrgh! Not to sound too stupid or anything, but I have no idea what items you are talking about. WHERE do you see these things? Ads? I had AdSense years ago, but I haven't seen/noticed any recently. Also, I looked up that Ghostery (?) thing, and it seems to be very popular among people who watch porn...pas de moi. I have had so much trouble with Google and the like, I just want to be left alone by these whatevertheyares. " You use Blogspot. They have hidden invisible webbugs on your blog. That's the/a downside of using a blogging tool :-(
Here is a list of the webbugs I (=Ghostery) blocked on your blog site. Sadly, I do not have any tips as to how you can suppress them :-(

Saturday, February 8, 2014

'Merkin Diplomacy :-(

Victoria Nuland, Obama's special advisor on Europe, was caught saying "Fuck the EU!" in a telephone call to the US ambassador in Kiev (Geoffrey Pyatt). Why either of them were naive enough to believe their telephone calls were NOT being taped by the FSB (aka KGB) is beyond my ken. Hell, even the NSA and GCHQ were probably listening too ;-)

The conversation as taped has been put up on YouTube; listen at the 00:39-00:41 mark. Astounding clarity for a wire tap :-)

I have sent Ms. Nuland an email with a book tip : Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends And Influence People". I recommended she download the Kindle edition so that the FSB can track her doing so and ex-KGB man Vladimir Putin can then publish a sarcastic remark ;-)

You can imagine how pissed off politicians in Yurp are at this faux pas :-(

Friday, February 7, 2014

All tied up by String Theory :-(

Over the past 8 or 9 years I have struggled (twice) to read Sir Roger Penrose's book "The Road to Reality" in an attempt to keep my understanding of modern physics up to date. I generally bog down at String Theory, of which it has been claimed "String Theory is Not even wrong!" So maybe it's not just me. Or maybe I need to read and understand a simpler text first, preferably without the math, and then follow the math later, having got the gist already.

But let's jump back 50 years, almost to the day. I was half way through doing a B.Sc honours degree in Physics at City University in London, UK. We had just been introduced to Kaluza-Klein Theory which is a 1921 model that seeks to unify the two fundamental forces of gravitation and electromagnetism by extending general relativity to a five-dimensional spacetime. The fifth dimension being a tiny compact space. I was fascinated by the idea of extra dimensions, however compact, coupling gravity and electromagnetism. And I could understand it :-)

Subsequently, life and the necessity of earning a living by doing mundane things with the stuff I'd learned, took over. This had NO bearing at all on the frontiers of quantum physics; I guess this is true for most of my readers.

The next time I looked at this field of research was about the mid 1990s and I became an aficionado of Loop Quantum Gravity, even if I couldn't really follow all the maths. Here space is a spin foam of 10 -35 meter quantised 'bubbles'.

In the late 2000s I encountered Penrose's book - see above - and String Theory. String Theory also uses the idea of extra compact dimensions as mentioned above. Except that it has 11 of them. Or 26, depending on which particular(sic!) flavour(sic!) of strings is in favour this weak (sic!) ;-) Not that I understood it. However, despite regressing into being an aged dummy, this year I am going to make a determined effort to understand String Theory, for which purpose I have acquired this book :-)

It seems to contain NO formulae, but several simple illustrations and even some cartoons! I'll let you know if I can recommend it at a later date [because my brain has too many tabs open right now :-( ].

ISBN 978-0-470-46724-4; about US$20.

P.S : When you are a Bear of Very Little Brane, and you Think of Strings, you find sometimes that a String which seemed very Stringish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it. (Misquoting A. A. Milne, in Winnie-the-Pooh, who wrote Things, not Strings;)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jobs for the boys girls?

Germany's ambassador to the Vatican (that sounds like a sinecure to me) is due for retirement soon and it has been suggested that he (a protestant male) be replaced by an academically-discredited female politician who is also a devout Catholic. I think this is a bad idea, for the same reason I would not appoint a devout Islamist as ambassador to an arabic nation. Why do they even need one? They already have an ambassador in Rome who covers Italy, surely he could cover the Vatican as well, there can't be all that much work to do? Waste of taxpayers' money!

Of course, if german pope Benedict XVI hadn't quit as Pope, he could have done both jobs, also rendering an ambassador superfluous ;-)

Surely this is the one ambassadorial job that should go to an Atheist ?


Comments (1) :
Jenny (Ibiza) grinned "LOVE the Metal horns (\m/), right in context ;-)" Well done, you recognised them :-)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WTF, Opera? Well done, Opera!

Originally datelined 30/1/2014 :
Recently I found a minor but annoying bug in the Opera browser, V19, recently released. So I checked the same pages using Firefox and IE and got what I expected. Then I noted which build of Opera I was using (19.0.1326.56 - the then current build) and ensured the bug was reproducable, taking screenshots every step of the way. Like a good net citizen, I then went to submit a bug report.

Opera demands that you fill out their bug reporting form. Now I've been pissed off before by forms that collapse on you and then you have to type in the whole page-long stuff AGAIN :-( So I wrote up my bug report in my own text editor and saved the text before copying it over into the Opera bug report form (whose URL I noted for any future use). Just as well I did, because after painstakingly filling out their form, the bug report mechanism failed :-

I tried again, THRICE, then decided that this was a reproducable bug too :-(

I ended up reporting both bugs by Email to them, but have gotten no reply, probably because I didn't use their bug-reporting form mechanism :-(

The first bug was fixable by clearing the browser cache and starting it again. The second was permanent :-(

WTF, Opera, get your shit together and fix V19 please, which you allege is stable. It's stable all right, stably wrong :-(

Update 4/2/2014 :
Well, Opera certainly did get their shit together, and really fast because just now there was a new build released (19.0.1326.59) which appears to have fixed both bugs :-) Now that is what I call a fast response. Thankyou Opera, my faith in you is restored :-)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Google Opinions ;-)

One can collect netizens' opinions of famous people by typing into Google "Given-name Surname is a" and letting Google autocomplete. To verify this, I did such a search for Sarah Palin :-

Fair enough, it seems to work ;-)
However when doing that type of search for people in show business, they might have their own PR pages or even a namesake :-
And because actors - in particular - play roles, netizens might confuse the roles with the actor, particularly actors who play themselves. One such actor who plays himself is Wil Wheaton, in his role as Sheldon Cooper's favourite enemy in TBBT (The Big Bang Theory). So I tried the opinion search on him.
I disagree with these opinions, netizens are confusing the role with the actor. So I tracked Wil Wheaton's blog during january, to get an opinion of the man himself. It is not a PR blog but it gives us a view of his everyday life. In one entry he was asked "Why do you always end up playing the asshole in your various acting roles? You’re good at it, but it seems to be an unfortunate typecast." His reply was that "The type I play so perfectly, it turns out, is that guy you love to hate, that guy who antagonizes your hero, but who actually has a good heart, when he forgets that he’s being an asshole. That’s who I play in The Guild, Leverage, Eureka, and Big Bang Theory." So we see that netizens DO confuse the roles with the actor which in this case leads to the Google auto-completer delivering a false opinion.

Right, that's settled, so now Wil Wheaton comes off my blogroll and I can get back to my usual unopinionated blogging ;-)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Punxsutawney Phil

Or should that be Punxsutawney Fail?

After all, America's favourite groundhog's recent record is really not so great :-( Let's take a look at it :-

2011, he predicted an early spring. There was a terrible snowstorm.

2012, he predicted a long winter. Wrong again.

2013, he predicted an early spring again. Hefty winter storms in March and April happened instead.

According to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Phil's predictions have been correct only 39% of the time. Tossing a coin would be better (50%). Whatever Phil predicts, you are statistically safer betting on the opposite :-(

Perhaps he should keep trying, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, day in day out, until his karma is clean again ? :-)

Meanwhile, the NSA is bugging y'all's computers again, so it must be Groundhog Day again :-(

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