Friday, January 29, 2010

Man's Best Friend :-)

Love is...

... always having a shoulder to lie on ?

... never having to say "you're heavy" ?

Blogreaders are invited to mail comments giving alternative captions for this photo of yours truly lounging on the sofa to watch TV and having one of our bulldogs 'help' ;-)

Comments(5) :
Wendy (Oz) : "Love is... Not caring that your friend is much cuter than you..." :-)
Four Dinners (UK) : "1) 'I've more hair on my nose' 2) 'The good looking one is on the right' 3) 'Those are eyebrows?' 4) 'I love him because he is' "
Nastia (Russia) : "My name is Nastia. I am from Russia. I've had a web camera with good quality..." Nastia, in English my dear, is a comparative... ;-)
Aischa (Berlin) reminds us that On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog :-)
Anna (Oz) : "Love is... 1) ..ignoring the persistent smell of human. 2) ..hidden bacon in your breast pocket. 3) ..high absorbency couture." Or a combination of 2 and 3?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Short Story : "The Feasting"

Several of you have asked about the 'real/serious' short story I wrote for Jason's writing competition as an alternative to the Porlock joke (which got yanked[sic!]). Jason's given theme was that we all write about the silhouette of a crow in less than 250 words. Here is my ~150 word story, judge for yourselves :-

The Feasting
© Stu Savory, 2010

The carrion crow landed in the treetop, cawed thrice, then waited silently for the feasting.

Below, the young folks were finishing up their barbeque and getting hopelessly drunk on Granpaw's moonshine. There would be leftovers. Bloody leftovers.

The campfire was dying slowly although all the steaks had not been eaten. Leftovers. Jane was already hopelessly drunk and had fallen unconscious by the barbeque fire. The others joked about her, folded her arms across her chest, put two coins on her eyelids according to the ferryman's tradition, then took a photo for their website. One by one, they too succumbed to the moonshine and fell into a drunken stupor, warmed by the dying embers in the dusk.

Night fell. All was quiet, save for fitful snores.

Only then did the crow fly down. Landing next to Jane and using its sharp beak carefully, it removed the bright coins from her eyeballs. Then the feasting began...

Comments(7) :
Fred (Oz) commented "Bloody great, mate! Hitchcock would have filmed it :-)"
Four Dinners (UK) was enthusiastic too - Whoaaa!!!! and why couldn't you submit this???? It's brilliant! Freddy Kruger gets wings!!!!! Jason only allows one entry and wouldn't let me replace the one he yanked. It's his site, so we must play by his whim.
Jane (Ibiza) - Did you write that for me? Thanks! I had nightmares and will NEVER get drunk at a BBQ party ever again! :-) That'd be a pity, your parties were great ;-) Wendy (Oz) comments Oooh, spooky... Gives new meaning to 'blind drunk'. I think the coins were a nice touch. When is the deadline? Do I have time to send in a (probably feeble) effort? The deadline was last week, Wendy, sorry :-(
Mary Ellen quoth You got yanked (ha) from a contest for writing homophobic and anti-Irish content?? Would it have better if you had written a mathematics story called "tree and a turd"??? hmph. I liked your short story about the crows! i like anything about crows. i am a member of ASCAR!
Cowtown Pattie reacted in her blog; thanks, lass.
Ian (UK) asks "Got any more short stories online?" Yes, Ian, but they're all in German.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back to normal :-)

Back in december I had noted that my readership was dropping off, and wondering whether this was a trend or merely the effect of the Xmas holidays. It appears now that people merely had better things to do at Xmas/Channukah/Winter solstice/New Year, and my regular readers have returned in force. Thankyou! Here's a snapshot I took on friday morning showing the usual weekly cycle averaging ~480 daily again :-)

On the downside, the spam flood in our mailboxes has reached an all time high :-( Our provider lets everything through, merely flagging what it thinks is spam. It catches about 2/3 of the real spam. So I installed a local spam-filter which uses Bayesian statistics to classify our incoming mails depending on their vocabulary and the authors. It has been in service now since May 2009 and has reached 99.91% accuracy. Over some 200,000 mails it made only 176 classification errors. That's the good news. The bad news is that 95% (sic!) of the incoming mail is spam :-( I'm getting 22 genuine mails daily, wifey gets 15 (both averaged over the last 8 months). And BTW you educated folks who write to me have a vocabulary of 29,526 unique words; well writ!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

God's Crosshairs :-(

ABC News reports that U.S. military weapons are inscribed with secret bible references by a fundamentalist Christian pentagon supplier of snipers' rifle sights. However, none of the codes refer to "Thou shalt not kill". Oh well, that makes it all right then :-(

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Featherstonehaugh ;-)

Back on the 15th, Valerie (UK) asked me to make up a limerick about the pronunciation of Featherstonehaugh (which is Fan Shaw). So here it is :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hello, I'm from Porlock ;-)

Yes, it was a dark and stormy night when Four Dinners blogged that there was YAWC (Yet Another Writing Competition) underway in the Internet. Mischevious as ever, I decided spontaneously to take the role of the Person from Porlock. If you don't recognise the term Person from Porlock, please read about him before proceeding ;-)

Now there is a thing about such competitions; they tend to attract people who may be overly competitive. This can sometimes have some sad implications. The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which 'people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it'. Again, if you don't know about the Dunning-Kruger effect , please read about it in Wikipedia before you proceed. The photo on the right is an amusing but simple example. When Tony Blair played host to Angela Merkel some years ago, his people hoisted the Belgian flag instead of the German one (they share the same colours, but in different directions and a different order). When they noticed this error, they swapped them during a tea-break, but failed to notice that they had also hoisted their Union Jack upside down! FAIL!

In a similar writing competition last year I submitted a story about the Dunning-Kruger effect, inspired by Daniel Keyes (author of Flowers for Algernon). Again, if you don't know about that short story please follow the link to learn about this important book. But that competition's comment thread showed no-one had taken the hint :-(

Of course one cannot play the Person from Porlock directly, being unable to interrupt all the writers. So I decided to write a short story so patently bad that the judge/organiser would have to rate it last. Thereby I would lower the average score so far that a higher proportion of the other writers would be at least above average and thus be happy with their result. Cynicism and anarchy subtly combined ;-)

However the organiser had provided for a popular vote as well, so that all the writers could (or had to?) judge all the other entries too. Therefore I had to make my entry so provocative that they would have to think about their own writing too. Checking the rules, I read that any genre was allowed. So e.g. writing something anti-religious or pornography would get people riled up (the competition was based in a red state of the USA). But there might be anti-blasphemy / anti-porn laws there which I didn't know about. So I wrote a provocative Gay joke instead; any genre, it had said :)

Apparently I offended (how?) not only some 'readers' of the short story competition, but also many Gay Rights campaigners in the US who didn't like jokes about gays' stereotypical preference for anal sex. The competition site was 'awash' with mails complaining at the 'homophobic' / 'anti Irish' views on my entry, which had drawn more comments than many of the 'serious' entries, all down to using just ONE word ;-)

As a result, the organiser deleted me from his competition, to stop the criticism :-(

America, of course, has a constitutional right to freedom of speech which was blatently disregarded here :-( America also has a strong tradition of successful 'taboo subjects' comedy, I name but three examples : Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Redd Foxx's night club act. Again I have provided the Wikipedia links so you can read up on these people.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre, was an English writer best known for her biography of Voltaire. Hall wrote the phrase: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," (which is often misattributed to Voltaire).

Obviously, the competition organiser didn't believe in this principle either when he caved in to the critics. Neither would he provide me with the comment-thread (for me to document here), preferring to suppress the evidence. Nor would he let me submit a 'serious/innocent' replacement entry. Is he a fair man? Or does he have a problem coping with anarchy? So my mischevious sociological experiment went out with a whimper. Pity really, I was looking forward to relaying the ratings and the comment-thread for your delectation :-) Oh well, there'll always be another time...

By the way, a recently-discovered Assyrian clay tablet dating from around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: 'Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.' Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose ;-)

Anarchy Rools !

Comments (4) :
Gwen (UK) asks "How do you go about judging something subjective, like taste of a cake, short stories, paintings etc? We all have different tastes, surely?" Just rank your preferences; but that question deserves a longer answer about the use of statistics, Gwen, so I'll work out an essay over the next few days or weeks for y'all, OK?
Dave (CA) points us to an instructional blog called How to write badly well :-)
Pergelator (USA) comments "Writing badly, there's a trick. Picking an inflamatory topic is going to draw attention away from the writing and towards the topic. You should not be surprised that your entry was yanked. I like to think I am a better writer now than I was a few years ago, but I would only rate myself as adequate. Writing poorly by intention is beyond me. It is difficult enough to just communicate what I am trying to say, never mind making it better or worse."
Fran (USA) asks "So what was the bad language? Did you use the F-bomb?" No, Fran, I wrote 'third' in the Irish dialect as 'turd'. Had I written 'third' and left readers to infer the pronunciation having told them the speaker was Irish, I bet over 90% would not have got the joke. I was trying to provide a staccato contrast to some of the more flowery (pretentious?) entries. Think Larkin versus Shakespeare, OK? Oh and by the way, isn't it ironic that the organiser objected to my story being gay, and yet Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 (linked above) was written to a gay man? Probably he didn't know that. Maybe I should do a blog article entitled 'Was Shakespeare gay/bi ?' ;-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sapporo 2010 ;-)

Reporting the FIS Ski Jumping 2010 World Cup in Sapporo, the local paper's English edition headline was "German Wank comes second in Sapporo" ;-)

Doesn't anybody proofread this stuff? ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cholmondeley ;-)

Paddy has a rant about the general standard of English spelling. Read the comments thread too, hilarious! It inspired me to recite a modded version of Bearybp's limerick.

Valerie (UK) sez "Great! Can you make up a limerick for 'Featherstonehaugh' too?"
UK Moko sends a photo of this politically hot T-shirt on sale in the USA :-

Personally, I'd wear one if I ever visited George 'Dubya' Bush ;-)
Elisson has a Japanese CD with a fine spelling mistake ;-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Names for the Beasts ;-)

Here in Germany you are not allowed to give your child ANY name. Jesus, Satan, Cthulhu, unpronouncable, provocative, trademarks and trash names are refused by the registration offices; Adolf and Josef (as in Stalin) are still allowed though, afaik:-(
Now Knud (BI) has ranked the top 10 names per gender given in 2009. They are :-
- Mia,Hanna(h),Leoni(e),Lena,Lea(h),Anna,Emma,Emily,Maria and Lilli.
- Leon,Lukas,Jonas,Luca,Paul,Felix,Max(imilian),Fynn,Timm and Ben.

As we see, biblical names still predominate. I had expected Mohammed to be up there in the top 10, since the immigrant population (25% of the total in e.g. Berlin) has a much higher birthrate than the indigenous one. Catching up, so maybe next year?

All this is by way of a lead-in to a question which just came in from Petra (Austria) :
"Why is your blog called 'Eunoia'?"

It has had several names over the eight years(!) lass. It started off as "Stu Savory's blog". Then as I aged and spread it became "Yclept Ole Phat Stu" (Yclept means 'my name is' and BTW, Phat does NOT mean Fat). Finally, I changed it to 'Eunoia', which is a medical term meaning 'Normal Mental Health', because some - mostly right-wing - blogreaders had doubted this ;-) It is also the shortest English word with all the vowels in it, which makes it interesting for codebreaking exercises, another hobby of mine. "Eunoia" is also the title of a novel by Christian Bök dating from 2001. As a novel it is not my cup of tea. But it is an interesting source of puzzles for my codebreaking classes, because each chapter is restricted to a single vowel, missing four of the five vowels. For example the fourth chapter does not contain the letters "A", "E", "I" or "U". A typical sentence from this chapter is "Profs from Oxford show frosh who do post-docs how to gloss works of Wordsworth." Lipogrammatic writing which uses only one vowel is called univocalic; the frequency distribution of the letters is thus atypical, confusing the would-be codebreakers. And this blog can very confusing; ask 4D :-)

I'm currently considering renaming it The Dunning-Kruger-Effect Blog, but I'm not sure if anyone would get the joke, he said, self-depreciatingly ;-)

Ah well, better be getting back to Porlock ;-)

Four Dinners chimes in suggesting : " ...Wonder if you'd get away with calling the blog 666? ... ;-) ...Which possibly explains Harry Enfield's failure to crack America eh?..."
Maureen (IOM) suggests " your blog 'Zebedee', because it jumps around such a lot :-) Oh dear, giving away my age there, aren't I? :-(" That's not 'jumping around a lot, lass, that's displaying a broad education and a wide set of interests :-)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Long before Twilight

V ampires have long been a favourite moneyspinner of the entertainment industry. Last year's example being the movie version of Twilight, a hit novel by Stephenie Meyer. Rather than being a scary Christopher Lee movie, Twilight was a romance , dampening every second seat in the cinemas ;-)

Personally, I preferred the old scary-movie films. From 1958 through 1974 Hammer Films (UK) produced 9 movies, the first being the best as usual. I saw them all. All of these were (somehow) based on the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

A rare signed first edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker bears an asking price of $75,000!

113 years ago, the novel owed part of its popularity to the fact that readers were familiar with the concept of vampires, it being a part of folklore relating to the Romanian Count Vlad III (1431-1477(?)) - Vlad the Impaler. So I asked myself what stories were available before Bram Stoker wrote his 1897 masterpiece?

Here are two manuscripts dating from the mid to late 1700s I managed to find :-

The book shown above was written in French by a Benedictine monk in Lothringen in 1749 and was printed in two editions. This version is the German translation with additional notes by the translator, printed in Augsburg in 1751. Note that the book appeared with the official approval of the Vatican. Monastery libraries are great!!!

The book relates mostly fables and second/third hand stories. But it caused the One-True-Church® to order an expedition into Transylvania and surrounding areas (Wallachen, Siebenbürgen and Banat), whose report was presented internally in 1756. This external version was written by George Tallar and published in Vienna and Leipzig in 1784. It claims to be a thorough report, but has no direct evidence of course ;-)

And so we are told, over 260 years ago, long before Twilight, vampires sucked ;-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hoarding the treasure ;-)

Macho bulldog Kosmo is still slightly(?) overwhelmed by his New Year present, but there is no way he is going to let go of it while that hungry bitch Frieda is around ;-)

The picture is of course merely a metaphor for the way our big banks are holding out on loans to the little guys while themselves hoarding the HUGE loans they got from the government to save them from failing. Another view of the ugly side of capitalism :-(

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person to have survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs, died on monday aged 93 of cancer. R.I.P.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hic librii circa A.D. MXL scribit*

Y esterday I went to an exhibition at the archdiocesian museum in Paderborn which is showing exhibits from the time of bishop Meinwerk, who was the tenth bishop of Paderborn a full thousand years ago. The oldest book on exhibition is simply styled but is 1200 years old, the two shown below are from the 11th century, ornately bound and beautifully illustrated. The monstrances are ornately graven too.

Having had Latin in school some 55-49 years ago, it blows my mind that I could stand there and (partially) read a book 1200 years old! Enough to get the gist, anyway :-)
Latin was the lingua franca of Europe for over a whole millenium! Mindblowing, man !!

I spent about 3 hours at the exhibition, which I can thoroughly recommend for our history as shown. It's even better if you can read latin; if not, take the guided tour :-)

* : These books shown were written around 1040 a.D. !

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Geocaching : Difficulty

Geocaching is a hobby I have blogged about several times. It involves searching for hidden small caches using a GPS using lat/long coordinates given more or less openly or cryptically on the internet, accuracy 5 to 25 meters.

Once you have become hooked, you start to think about hiding your own caches. Let me tell you about mine. There are two parameters to be taken into consideration, the 'Difficulty' D of finding the caches (to within the aforesaid 25 meters) and the 'Terrain' T when at the cache site, both rated on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (very hard). So I started off with two scenic caches, showing finders our village from hidden viewing points on the hills around the valley; one show below , the other panorama here.

One of these is D1T1 (T1 implies wheelchair-accessible), the other D1T2. Both have been logged by some 55+ visitors since I hid them in February; they are designed to be found easily. Not so the next one, as shown on the left. It involves a two mile hike into the woods and is hidden in a dead tree trunk in a creek bed and so only accessible at low water; I rated it D2T3. The internet instructions say to take a CD with you into the woods and swap it for the CD you find in the cache, then log what you thought of the music you found. It is designed to widen the finders' musical tastes. Only 23 finders since June.

The next one was designed to teach finders some local history of the nearby village of Haaren. It is a multi-stage cache; you have to find all the intermediate steps in order to find the final cache and log it. This has proved not so popular - Haaren being an out-of-the-way village - and only a dozen people have completed all the stages and so found the final cache.

My next caches were so-called mystery caches. In the internet DB, I did not give the lat/long coordinates. Instead I created a Sudoku of medium difficulty which people have to solve to get the coordinates. And I increased the terrain rating (D2T3) by hiding the cache in a crack in the cliff face up a steep and slippery slope (see photo right).
GPS reception is spotty under the leafy canopy and so searchers may have to check quite a bit of the low cliffs there :-

Some 18 people have found this cache since October.

Next, I decided to turn up the difficulty a little :evil grin:. I gave them an exercise in geometry - which most people haven't used since school. I gave them two starting points - measured with the usual GPS inaccuracy - and told them to find a 35mm plastic film can which was 800 meters and 120 degrees from the first starting point. The 800 and 120 are both subject to GPS-inherent measurement errors implying a 25 by 8m area they had to search. Similarly I told them to find a 35mm plastic film can which was 900 meters and 200 degrees from the second starting point. These two cans contained two numbers X and Y, one in each. The final cache is X meters from one of the cans and Y from the other (but I don't say which :evil grin: ). Needless to say GPS reception is spotty in the woods too :evil grin: . I rated this D4T2, and indeed only seven teams have found it so far, each taking upto 5 tries ;-)

For my most recent one I created two damn difficult Sudokus, one for the latitude and one for the longitude. What I didn't know was that there are programs out there which solve Sudokus automatically, so I've reduced the D rating from 5 to 4 now. But it's still hard, because once they find the Cache container they still have to open it. And it has a combination lock :evil grin: ; the combination being hidden behind 2 partial cryptic clues in the internet, which need to be solved to open the lock. Only four teams have managed this so far ;-).

Now I'm thinking about a D5T5 extreme cache for the hard-core geocachers. They usually resort to the third dimension to raise the terrain rating. These may be hidden 25m high in a tree-top (like GC1ZJVV) or 25m deep in a lake (like GC1YFNE), requiring climbing and/or diving skills, so they may be too hard for me to even hide :-(
Accordingly, I'll be focussing on the D=5 aspect, making it hard to even find out where they are. In the mean time, here's wishing you some Fun Caching, folks! :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Jew Near

As we usher in the New Year here in Germany, people say to one another "Guten Rutsch" (Good Slide). Seemed a peculiar idiom to me, so I did a little research on this particular figure of speech.

I presumed that they were not assuming an icy year-end and warning their friends to be careful on the ice; global warming should get rid of that problem soon :-(

FWIW, the brothers Grimm - of fairy tale fame - also published a dictionary, wherein we learn that around 1820-1860 the word 'Rutsch' not only meant 'a gliding, sliding movement' but also 'a journey ' ; thus wishing a good journey into the new year.

But that is just one theory; another - less widespread - theory is that the expression comes from the Jiddisch 'Rosch ha schono tov' [which this editor will not let me write in Hebrew :-( ], meaning a good head (=start) to the year. But of course Rosch Hasanah - the Jewish New Year (5771) - will not be until 9 September 2010, because it does not coincide with the Christian new year. And I think that the Jews would use a different word when talking to Goy and Goyim : 'schoene chadosche'. I'd have to ask David or Anthony or Elisson for a comment on that, please.

Jews and Christians (Goys) coexisted peacefully here until Hitler's fascism started the Holocaust, so it is quite likely that - since Jiddisch and German are a bit similar - the expression 'Rutsch' came from the Jiddish 'Rosch'. I doubt many know this theory, which is why I am blogging it here today. Whatever, have a good Hogmanay :-)

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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatently opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, blogger and webmaster 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 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'.

Click to see a scrollable panorama of our village.

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Back to normal :-)
God's Crosshairs :-(
I'm from Porlock ;-)
Sapporo 2010 ;-)
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Names for the Beasts
Long before Twilight
Hoarding the treasure
Hic librii MXL scribit
Geocaching Difficulty
Happy Jew Near
Doing summat wrong?
Dyslexia redux ;-)
Xmas Broadcast ;-)
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Old tune, new words ;-)
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A necessary precondition
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