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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 after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Friday, February 25, 2022

@the Ukraine border

Now that Putin has invaded the Ukraine, we may never be able to visit there again.

Scanning my old UK passport shows me that it has been 6½ years since I was in the Ukraine, so I'll tell you an anecdote about crossing the border back then :-)

A friend and I were on a motorcycle tour of eastern Europe. Up until reaching Ukraine, all the borders had been between Schengen states, so there were no border checks. Ukraine had the first traditional hardened border with customs and immigration checks. I went into the check hall first (it was one at a time). There were about 8 or 9 guards there, all with a Kalashnikov. All stood together along one side of the room, so there was no-one behind me; it was then I realised I was the only unarmed person in the room. I said I didn't speak Ukranian and that my Russian was minimal, so they fetched a strapping young lass who could speak some English. She grilled me unsmilingly, rather like US immigration guards.

I told her we wanted to go to Kiev to see the Great Gate there. Fans of classical music will recognise the name from Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Then she asked if I had any weapons with me? I suppressed the urge to ask Why? Do you want to buy some? because border guards everywhere notoriously have no sense of humour. Then she asked Then what's that?, so I took the survival knife from my boot (worn like a sgian-dubh) gingerly using only two fingers, because meanwhile 3 AK47s were being pointed at my belly. The knife was confiscated because the blade was 'too long'. On the plus side, they sold me a road map of western Ukraine which also showed where petrol stations were located :-)

Then they let me back on my bike whereupon my phone rang, but I didn't stop the bike until out of the no-stopping zone :-) Turned out to be my friend, whom they wouldn't let into the country, because he only had ID papers on him and no passport :-( So I turned and went back into Slovakia, not without getting a fine for crossing the centerline of the road just before the border. Of course I had no Ukranian money, but the border guard was pleased to accept €20 (the smallest note I had). I wonder where that went?

So that was MY little adventure there. At least I was in the Ukraine for about 500 yards ;-)

I wish them luck getting rid of the Russian invaders!

Comments (1)
Billions of Versions... wrote " I wonder if when Volodymyr Zelenskyy became president, the border harassment changed. Even if was only going to be for 3 years." No idea, Mike.

Copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 25, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Monday, February 21, 2022

Speaking in Tongues

Today, monday 21st, is officially "Mother Tongue Day" so I thought I'd look a little at the languages spoken here in Europe.

Hallo, Salut, Labas, Hej, Ahoj, Bok, Selam, Tervitus, czesc, Gruezi etc.

There are about 7000 languages spoken in total worldwide of which about ⅓ are expected to vanish in the next few decades; after all, 97% of the world's population speak 4% of the languages, so 96% of the languages are spoken by only 3% of the population. For example, the 3.6 million inhabitants of Papua-New Guinea speak 850 (partially related) languages. Only 3% of all languages are native to Europe, despite the EU having 24 official languages. Some 2500 minor languages are endangered, 128 of them European. Here in Germany: Niedersorbisch, Saterfriesian and North Fresian are all dying out. I speak none of those three; I'd just call myself fluent in German, English and French nowadays. I can still manage in Lallans and some Latin, but I've lost all of my Russian due to lack of use (unless Putin invades us this year???).

In terms of popularity, 917 Mio have Mandarin as their mother tongue, 460 Mio Spanish, 379 Mio English (this includes the USA who speak a limited subset thereof ;-), 341 Mio speak Hindi, but only 76 Mio have German as their mother tongue (oh, plus Austria).

In the countries of Europe, after their mother tongue and English, these are the 3rd most popular languages :- In Sweden 26% speak German as their 3rd language, in Denmark 47%, in Holland 71%, in Belgium 22%, in Poland 26%, and in Hungary 18%.

In Ireland 17% speak French as their 3rd language, in Britain 19%, in Germany 14%, in Austria 11%, in Italy 16%, Luxembourg 80%, and even in Romania 17%.

In France 13% speak Spanish as their 3rd language and in Spain 11% speak Catalan as their 3rd language. On the Isle of Man almost no-one still speaks Manx Gaelic :-(

In Finland 44% speak Swedish as their 3rd language. In the 3 Baltic countries (previously occupied by Russia) up to 80% speak Russian as their 3rd language. The Swiss of course have FOUR mother tongues, dialects of German, French, Italian and Rhetoromanish. When I lived in Switzerland I could only just understand Swiss-German.

For my stateside readers I have this state-by-state survey of non-English usage :-

Oh, and yes, I do know that English is not normal "Hwæt, we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon" was once everyday English ;-)

What languages do you speak? I know Liz is learning Welsh and that both Davids speak Hebrew, but what about the rest of you? Welche Sprachen sprechen Sie? Che lingue parli? Vilka språk talar du? Jaké jazyky ovládáte? Milyen nyelveket beszél? Cu iu parolas Esperanton flue ciutage? Huh?(USA)

Comments (8)
Billions of Versions... wrote " I have no idea where the Chinese speakers hang out on Missouri." Nor do I, but I'll believe their statistics.
Doug (Canada) wrote " I am only fluent (barely) in my native tongue, English. My French is atroce. My Latin is in fragmenae. My German is eine wilde Vermutung since my only exposure as a youth was listening to my father on the phone with his parents a few times a year. Dad never spoke German at home and his German was mixed with Rhetoromanish which was granny’s native tongue. After 40 odd years of disuse my Japanese is seizei waraeru." When they interview speakers of Swiss German in TV, they provide subtitles in High German ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) confesses "I had to look up Tagalog and Hmong." Me too.
Cop Car wrote " That you had to look up 'Hmong' tells me you don’t live in Kansas, Stu. Many of our Vietnamese residents speak Hmong. I am one of those toads who doesn’t actually speak any language other than English, but who thinks/has thought that she had a smattering of understanding of other languages along the way due to exposure. In the 1940s, and again in the 1980s, I was immersed among enough Spanish-speaking neighbors that I developed some understanding. In the 1950s, I took four college courses in scientific German, but that included nothing conversational. In the 1960s and 1970s, I could fairly well understand Hunky Husband’s relatives whose first language was Serbo-Croatian. In the 1970s, I lived in a neighborhood rich in Vietnamese-speaking people, but found I had no ear for it. In the 1980s, due to working with Navajo-speaking engineers/scientists, I learned to understand a smattering. Now, since 1990 being back in Kansas, I still lack an ear for Vietnamese and can’t reliably distinguish it from Hmong. I would be in real trouble were I to transplant to a different continent." The Navajo were the code-talkers in WW2. Brit humour has it that scientific German is just all one word.
Cop Car then replied " Yes, I have always thought that we owed a great debt to the code-talkers. I’ve read the books, watched the movies/videos - and - just this morning (my time) BBC had a piece on the code-talkers - Navajo and otherwise - emphasizing that for many years, native Americans in the USA were not allowed to speak their own languages in public schools. (As was true in Canada, too, of course.) You might find the information at this link interesting: Chapter 4: Code Talking - Native Words, Native Warriors - National Museum of the American Indian ( The page is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, with home page at: Home Page | National Museum of the American Indian ( I wish Herr Prof Jager were still around for your joke. Love it!" Didn't you ever tell him about the Donaudampfschiffsfahrtskapitänswitwepensionsfundkasse? (the Danube steamship captain's widow pension fund) ?
Keith (Oz) shows us a toddler who alledgedly can speak 7 languages.
Finngurl (Finland) tells us "Umlauts are inportant here. For example :- Näinkö väärin means 'Did I see wrong?' but Nainko vaarin means 'Should I marry grandpa?' ;-) " That's hilarious :-)
Michael (CH) maintains "There are disadvantages if you get your Latin wrong, Stu!" That's hilarious too :-)

Copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 21, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Value for Money?

Who do you think got more bang(s) for the buck?

I think it was the guy in the top photo who got the better deal AND, perhaps surprisingly, at the time did nothing illeGAL.

I just think it's disgusting how the rich can buy themselves out of a hole (sic!).

Comments (1)
Billions of Versions... wrote " Nothing illegal, just immoral, which should have eliminated him immediately from the party of morals. But they apparently don’t care as much about morals as they claim to." True.

Copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 16, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Friday, February 11, 2022


This mugshot shows one of my favourite mugs. For coffee or for tea. It is a scientific one, specifically inscribed for physicists (like me).

Are there any for other sciences? Specifically : for a chemist or a biologist or an electrical engineer, a biologist or an aerodynamicist? Let me know if you have one or where to buy one, I'd like to get some for scientist/engineer friends for when their birthdays roll around :-)

Comments (3)
Billions of Versions... sent two links, CafePress and Personalised, for which thanks.
Doug suggested "Just do a search for - scientific coffee mugs. There are so many. Etsy and Amazon have a lot." Better idea, thanks.
Carol (UK) asks "Is that SWMBO and your dog on the calender top left?" Yes indeed.

Copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 11, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Pen and Ink Art

In the comments on the previous posting, Carol (UK) asked me to "Show us some of your other art". So here are three, in a style I particularly like, Pen & black ink.

This first is an original by my SSIL and shows one of our English Bulldog pups asking a question by cocking her head, as dogs are wont to do.

The second favourite shows Bacchus in all his decadence. Drawing bought in LA over 40 years ago from famous US satirical artist Charles Bragg.

Finally, another lithograph also by Charles Bragg, entitled 'God the Father', it is also over 40 years old. Bragg died in 2017 afaik.

Blogreaders, let me know your opinions of these three drawings.

Comments (3)
Anon asks "What is the meaning of SSIL?" Senior Sister-In-Law.
Carol (UK) complains "I meant art BY you, not art you own." Not good; I am absolutely talentless at art, just borrowing ideas from elsewhere. This for example is just an old window frame with 4 types of wool inside. General feedback is like the statue outside the Orange County Museum of Art ;-)
Billions of Versions... wrote " Laughing at Carol. Carol, Stu is a nerd like me, not an artist. I have tried a few paintings. And as long as I can paint with straight lines or lines drawn with a compass, I do fair." So it's not just me.

Text copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 6, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Talking to Teachers about Maths

Last week, by chance, I met a couple I know. They are in their thirties and have two children 6 and 9. She is a housewife and he a packer for a logistics company. Last year, due to Covid, schools closed and parents took over teaching their children with mixed results. We went for a coffee and they told me their woes, particularly with teaching maths. Actually, just arithmetic. Now as it happens, the british newspaper The Sun had an article on Jan 28th about what level of difficulty children can expect in an arithmetic quiz, and gets some of it wrong. I've included a screenshot below.

For question 3 The Sun gave the answer as 1; I would contend it is either 0 remainder 2 or 0.66 recurring depending on whether/how the 6/7 year old has been taught division. Integer division or floating point numbers.
For question 4c, continuing the series 1 4 5 9, which could be interpreted as add 3, then 1, then 4, then 1 etc OR as add 3, then 1, then 4, then 2 etc The Sun gave one definitive answer 14, 23, 37 assuming you add the last two numbers to get the next; I contend multiple approaches are possible to continue "the" series.
For question 6, the answers could be 6, or 8 or 10, depending on whether said prism is supposed to be 2 dimensional, or 3 , or 3 but counting the inside and outside as extra "sides" ;-)
Question 12 doesn't even take spectators in wheelchairs into account. So much for teaching non-discrimination against the disabled :-(

No wonder the parents were confused and struggling. And that was just simple arithmetic, imagine what will happen when the children have to learn algebra or even calculus! Here's Billy Connolly on Algebra.

Even the maths goes "wrong" sometimes. Consider this : for every number there is exactly one which is twice as big (it is even). Never two or three or zero, always exactly ONE which is twice as big. OK? Therefore there are exactly as many EVEN numbers as there are numbers at all! Does that blow your mind or what?

On another occasion, years ago, I was talking to on old friend Udalrike who is/was an art teacher, now retired. She wanted her pupils to paint ∞ (infinity) without using that symbol. I suggested drawing the railway track across the Nullarbor Plain in Australia. The name comes from the Latin, meaning No Trees. The railway line has the longest straight section of railway in the world (478 km, 297 mi). So perspective has the rails getting closer together and meeting at infinity. But you know that cannot be true or the trains would fall off the tracks. Anyway the rails don't meet at infinity, but in perspective appear to do so when the angle subtended at the human eye is about 50 seconds of arc (in the daytime), the eye's resolution limit. We rejected this idea as the pupils hadn't learned about perspective yet.

So I told her about Koch's snowflake. Initially an equilateral triangle is inscribed within a circle. Then each straight line-segment is divided into three and the central third used as the base of a smaller equilateral triangle. This is reiterated forever giving the perimeter of the snowflake. Interestingly, the snowflake has a finite area, 8/5 of the first triangle, but the perimeter is infinitely long because it gets bigger by 4/3 at each iteration. So, infinity.

Udalrike liked this idea and painted the first few iterations of it herself, then sent me this painting, which I treasure to this day :-)

By the way, for those of you who thought the paragraph separator I used above was something numerical, it is not. It is in fact an old inscription, written in Ogham, and means "ale hath killed us" ;-) Somewhere I have a mug inscribed with the Ogham alphabet which I bought in Ireland many decades ago. And a beer mat with that 'paragraph separator' on it ;-)

Comments (15)
Pergelator wrote " Clever post. 2 divided by 3 is 2/3. It's not one, it's not .66 and it's certainly not zero. Remainders are for people who can't divide. And computers. A hexagonal prism is 3 dimensional. A hexagon is two dimensional. Counting the inside surfaces of a hexagonal prism would get you 16, except since surfaces have no thickness, you are counting them all twice. I followed the same logic as you on 4C. I agree there isn't enough information to conclude what the rule is. Might be a trick question to see if there are any free thinkers in the class. Although whoever proposed this question should probably keep their head down, anybody caught thinking freely is liable to be persecuted. Problem 8 has a typo. 1279 does not equal 1000+200. Question 12 could be better phrased by asking how many people will not have seats. Lastly, the train doesn't fall off the tracks because the farther away it gets, the smaller it gets until it vanishes when the rails eventually come together. I need more math problems to chew on. Problem is finding ones with the right difficulty. Too easy and I solve them at a glance, too difficult and I have to work at it, and/or go look stuff up, and unless there's a real reason to solve it, I am not going to do that." You are right on problem 8; The Sun should have used a second plus sign instead of a second equals sign.
Jack wrote " First off it is Math not Maths ,for Christ sakes!" That's your regional dialect speaking; nowadays in the Queen's English it has an S. Similarly, I write Christ's with an apostrophe S, because it is in the genitive.
Pergelator comes to Jack's defence with a link to Simon Whistler's video Why Do British People Say 'Maths' While Americans Say 'Math'? and asks "This video popped up on YouTube this morning. You don't suppose Google reads me email, do you?" Google most definitely does, I can get them to send pr0n by prompting them with this link brown cock, white chick ;-)
Dennis wrote " Modular arithmetic in number theory is all about remainders. They call them residues or some such. divide two numbers by p and if they have the same remainders they are equal modulo p. Seems trivial at first, but modular arithmetic lets you ask and answer questions about friggin huge numbers. I've been watching videos by Michael Penn, where he demonstrates how to solve lots of math tournament problems, often using modular arithmetic. Most of it is above my pay grade, but you can get a glimpse of how to make absurd sounding problems tractable." Agreed.
Jenny (Ibiza) asked "The aborigines could speak Latin?" I suspect the name Nullarbor would have been given by the captain or navigator of a ship sailing past the south coast, who is more likely to have known Latin.
Carol (UK) points out "The picture you used behind the link 'confusion' has also made its way into your left sidebar ;-)" Oops, I need to fix that. Thanks.
Billions of Versions... wrote " I’m late to the party. All I was going to mention was #8. But if the last line of #12 said, 'How many people are standing?' The answer would be 'All of them. It’s a concert.' " Different responses in different countries.
Carol (UK) later added "Neat painting in the triangular frame. Show us some of your other art too." OK, at the weekend.
m.pergiel (USA), looking at the section on the number of numbers, points out that "Zero is a number." Sure, and it also has exactly one double. Which is also zero.
Schorsch (D) asks "How do you get that symbol for infinity? Do you turn an 8 on its side? How?" It has a name in HTML. You write an ampersand, followed by the 5 letters i n f i n, and close the name off with a semicolon, getting ∞ :-)
Schorsch (D) then replied with this jpg :-

David (NY,NY) asks "In what order did you learn the various fields of math?" Well, I no longer have my notebooks, so I'm guessing. In primary school arithmetic and euclidian geometry. In secondary school : algebra, trigonometry, logarithms, statistics, booleans and calculus. Tertiary education : Matrices, tensors, group theory (especially Lie groups for use in quantum mechanics), later non-euclidian geometry. I can't remember all the details. Maybe student friend and blogreader John (UK) can help me out here?
Yellowdog Grannie tells me "no one likes a smartass Stu." Did I offend you?
Anne (UK) shows us the need to learn arithmetic :-

Piet (NL) shows us "This is what happens when people are totally math-ignorant." Oh dear!

Copyright © Ole Phat Stu on February 3, 2022 permalink Comments Email

Link to the previous month's blog.
Recent Writings
@the Ukraine border
Speaking in Tongues
Value for Money?
Pen and Ink Art
Talking to Teachers...
Holocaust Memorial Day
Memories are made...
Going to Mars
Make me a sandwich
Bat out of Hell :-)
USA, you disappoint me!
STEM book tip
Fairies' Hair
Wheels Up... Now!
Low clearances II
I before E, but not after C
Broken Rib
Low Bridges
Vale, Vale
Spoken Latin podcasts
Dostoevsky Day
Two Short Planks
Yellow overnight
Our robot overlords ;-)
Procrastination Man
Wanfried on the Werra
Bernd's medal, revisited
Kirk boldly went...
Mailserver back up again
Mailserver down :-(
Roman Numerals
Fortuitous names ;-)

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Balloon Juice
Billions of Versions...
Cop Car
Digby's Hullabaloo
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Observing Hermann
Silicon Graybeard
Starts with a Bang
Yellow Dog 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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