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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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Thousand Years ago...

Blessed Meinwerk (c. 975 - 5 June 1036) was the Bishop of Paderborn (our local cathedral city) from 1009 until his death in 1036. He built the Bartholomy chapel which still exists and many churches in villages in the surrounding countryside. One of them was our village, which thus first appeared in written history (church diary) 1000 years ago this year. The tiny village core is thus actually older. Doubtless there will be a big millenium parade in summer.

The village sign has been dismantled and replaced by a "new" one. Unfortunately, during the daytime, this just looks like an old sheet of rusty iron with some vague carvings on it, which has led to protests.

But if you look at it at night, when it is lit up internally, you can see it in its full glory :-) The laser cut-outs show L2R the "new" village church (19th century); the stone bridge over the river (which was taken out by the spring floods in 1965, which drowned several people), now rebuilt; and the tower of the old medieval church - which now serves as a war memorial.

We have lived here since 1988 and I have seen the bridge submerged during the snow-melts some years; this is also why the graveyard has been moved up onto the northern hillside of the valley. But the "new" sewage works was built one summer down on the floodplain downstream of our village. This merely meant that - come the next spring floods - the next village down stream got the benefits of the town planner's foresight :-(

When the millenium parades and celebrations take place I shall be taking lots of photos, some of which I shall show you in this blog (unless I'm away on a motorcycle tour at the time e.g. to the Ukraine border).

The neighbouring village up on the hill to the south also celebrates its millenium of written history this year. Their symbol is their large oak tree which is on the register of protected ancient landmarks. Old, old, old!

Meanwhile it turns out that the tottering cherry tree in our garden, which I had to chop down last year for safety's sake, was only 44 years old.

Comments (5) :
Ed (USA) wrote "1000 years! Wow, that's over FOUR times older than the good old(?) US!" Indeed :-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote "What is a "local cathedral city"? I'm sorry about your cherry tree. Over the years, in various yards/cities/states, I've planted peach, pear, plum, cherry, or apple trees, and really enjoyed the produce. In this yard, I've planted all of those trees except apple. The only really productive tree (that has produced more than the critters could eat, thus leaving fruit for human consumption) is now the only real fruit tree that we have - a North Star cherry tree. It's a small tree; but, I get to pit, cook, and can or freeze several quarts of cherries each early summer." Germans do not, in general, differentiate between 'city' and 'town'; our local (under 25 km away) city is called Paderborn and has over 100,000 residents in the administrative area. I added the word "cathedral" because this is not a necessary pre-condition for cityhood here as it is in Brit english. I remembered that in your USA a city has a charter from the state; that is not so here, so I was trying to clarify what I meant by "city" to an international readership.
Cop Car (USA) responded with more details about US "cities" "Thanks for clarifying your wording on Cathedral city. Never having lived in a country with a state religion, it was a new term to me. All of the municipal governments in Kansas are locally designated as cities. Cities are divided by general law into the following size classes: First class-15,000 inhabitants or more, Second class-2,000 to 14,999 inhabitants, Third class-fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, In the State of Kansas, "Town" or "Village" may be a part of a city's name, such as "City of Prairie Village", but the municipality is none-the-less a city. The City of Derby, in which I live, has about 23,000 inhabitants. It is, and is allowed to remain, a Second class city - until the numbers reach 25,000. Although Kansas is a small state, population wise, "Kansas ranks (5th) among the states in number of local governments, with (3,887) as of June 2002." From (also the source of the above information concerning classes of cities in Kansas." OK. Those are small numbers. Your 3rd class city would be called a village here (ours has pop.600), your 2nd class city would be called a large village or small town here. Your 1st class city would be called a town here. None would be called a city. That's not being derogatory, different countries have different naming conventions.
Cop Car (USA) adds " I meant to point out that there is no upper bound to the number of inhabitants in a 1st class city in Kansas. That said, only five of them would actually qualify as one of your Großstaedte."
John (UK) asks "Wot, no snow?" Not last week when I took these photos, no. We've been having a very mild winter, until thursday, when there was a snowstorm across all Germany. Now we have 6-12 inches of snow here; the southern hill road however is closed, due to 3-4 ft drifts as usual.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Budding Scientists

Let my tell you about some of the competitions for budding talented scientists we have in this country. I'll use local boy Leon Lettermann as an example. Leon will be taking his university entrance exams this summer, but meanwhile he has qualified for the International Physics Olympics (IPhO) this year, which means he is one of the top 50 aspirants in the country.

The third round is taking place right now (January 21st through 27th) at DESY in Hamburg. The finals will be in Mumbai in July. This week participants get a guided tour of DESY (an electron-synchrotron), a visit to a power-generating electricity works, and fireside discussion with professional astro-particle-physicists. But of course they get workshops and tests of their experiment-design skills too. How would you design these 3 experiments?

  • Measure the muzzle-velocity of a hair-dryer.
  • Evaluate the energy efficiency of a deep-freeze box.
  • Analyse the cosmic background radiation in the sychrotron building.

My nephew Darius - now a postdoc in Aachen - entered the Maths Olympics in his final year at school. I remember the tests as being quite hard, at the time.

Life was simpler when I was a kid, OTOH there were no such opportunities.

But there may be less such opportunities in the future here too :-(
The problem will be a dearth of teachers of the MINT subjects. MINT stands for Mathematics, Information sciences, Natural sciences and Technology. 45% of the current MINT teachers are already over 50 and will be going into retirement. In ten years time (2025/26) the number of MINT teachers here will have halved (down to 25,000). There are insufficient trainee teachers in the pipeline. In our state (NRW) only enough to cover 21% of the replacement demand in technology, 35% in physics, 47% in chemistry. A bleak prognosis for the forthcoming decade. The states need to pull their fingers out and get more youngsters into teacher training for the MINT subjects. After all, it is these which are the backbone of our economy, not poetry criticism, Naina!

Before CC asks : yes there are many women studying to become teachers too, but mostly in non-MINT subjects. Chicken & egg problem?
P.S : CC has responded to this in her own blog and BadTux has put up an article on the US education system.

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "So what were you like as a teacher?" You're asking the wrong person. But I'll dig up some of my old teaching notes and blog them at the start of the february blog, OK?
Hans-Jürgen (D) dug into his press archives and came up with this "Jenny, this is what he looked like, teaching AI in the summer of '83 (q.v)" Thanks(?) for the wayback-photo, H-J :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winston Churchill

50 years ago today, the great British politician and warlord, the bulldog-like Winston Churchill, died aged 90. Doubtless there will be many tributes, to his speeches etc, and obituaries in the Brit press, so I've just got a pictorial summary of his career for you ;-)

Comments (1) :
John (UK) points out "Judging by his detailed autobiographies, Churchill would have been a blogger too today." Indeed, and a good one. Did you know that in 1953 he won the Nobel prize for literature?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reacting to Charlie

After the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, different European countries have reacted in different ways :-
Britain : PM Cameron wants to extend GCHQ's powers to spy on people (thus making the net even less safe), via e.g. WhatsApp and require teachers and lecturers to sneak on any apparently radicalised muslim pupils/students. The UK Community Secretary has written to 1000 imams demanding they integrate better, which has caused a minor uproar.
Spain : After the 2004 Madrid terrorism, the government introduced a secret plan in 2010 for enhanced border controls and to inhibit recruitment of terrorists. A new plan is expected soon.
Belgium : Use the military internally to protect special buildings etc. Monitor suspects' telephones. First thoughts about dealing with endangerers returning from war-training in Irak/Syria. I expect further measures after last week's terrorist shootings.
Norway : Police protection of radio and TV stations such as NDK. Issue of automatic weapons instead of pistols. Withdraw suspects' passports.
Italy : Set up an anti-terror unit. Withdraw suspects' passports. Block terror-propaganda websites. More armed patrols at tourist sites (Colosseum, Peters Place).
Austria : A security-offensive is being planned. Hundreds of millions for better equipped police and special units. Withdraw suspects' passports.
Romania : Introduce a modified law about monitoring mobile-phone and internet access after the 2012 one was deemed unconstitutional by the courts.
European Union : Interchange of air-passenger data.
Germany : The German government is trying to address the French terror attacks with a sense of calm, with no plans for new terror laws. However, fears are growing that the massacre will boost a disturbing anti-Muslim current (Pegida) in the country, as predicted in this blog a few weeks back. Even the attempt to travel to a terrorist training camp will soon be a punishable offence, as will the funding of terrorist groups. A bill will be submitted to the cabinet in January that would enable law enforcement to revoke the identification cards of suspects, to inhibit their travels. Meanwhile we have over 1900 salafists in the state of NRW alone...

General remarks : First suggestions of reintroducing border controls for the Schengen countries have appeared. Nobody has openly suggested preventative imprisonment of suspects, aka concentration camps like Guantanamo Bay YET, but that'll be in the pipeline somewhere I expect. So far, only the UK has forcibly ejected hate-preachers (radical Imams) afaik. Years ago, the UK used to send their undesirables to Australia, but nowadays they don't want them either ;-) I wonder what else the governments will come up with? One-way tickets to XYZ-istan maybe???

Interesting times :-(

Thursday, January 22, 2015

American Sniper

No, I haven't seen the movie. But with Clint Eastwood as director, I expect it will be technically well executed (pun intended). I have however seen the murderous trailers. I find the release date unfortunate, just as we are suffering from the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, this film show what radicalises IS to rebel against western killers. A lack of political sensitivity in this hero worship movie, methinks :-(

The unrelated picture above - found on Cheezeburger - characterises the cliche´s we have here of gun-nut Americans : shooting from the far right, at anything on the left, a big a bore as possible, but a short-barrelled bible-belter too. If the guy had a longer barrel (yes, Dorothy, that IS a metaphor) he might have inscribed it "Revelations 3:16" instead of "John", which would sum up my opinion of him better ;-)

So, no to that one. Instead I shall be going to see "The Imitation Game" which is on German release today. The life and times of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park. I think that will be a much better movie, even if not true to the real facts. Mathematics is hard to display in a movie as so many have such a small understanding thereof. I see it is a multiple Oscar-candidate :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

German Aircraft Registrations, 2nd letter

Correspondence with fellow pilot Cop Car (USA) showed me that here in Germany we do aircraft registrations differently, inasmuch as the second letter acts as a classifier. Stateside, after the initial country letter (N) there seems only to be a serial number, with some neat out-of-sequence registrations. For example, Spaceship One has the special registration N-328KF. which can be read as 328 KiloFeet = 100 kms = the altitude where space officially begins :-)

Our first letter D means Deutschland, i.e. Germany. The meanings of the second letter classifiers for civil aircraft are :-

  • E Single engine, max take-off weight (MTOW) under 2 tons. e.g. a PA28
  • F ditto, but over 2 tons, e.g. Antonov AN-2.
  • G Multi-engine, MTOW under 2 tons, e.g. Twin Comanche.
  • I Multi, MTOW 2 upto 5.7 tons, e.g. Cessna 310-Q
  • C Multi, MTOW 5.7 to 20 tons, e.g. Dornier DO328
  • A Multi, MTOW over 20 tons, usually an airliner/freighter
  • H Helicopter/Gyrocopter, e.g. D-HMAX, an R44 Robinson
  • K Motorglider, e.g. D-KNIF, a Falke
  • L Airship, e.g. D-LZGY Goodyear Zeppelin NT
  • M Microlight, e.g. D-MIKB, a Comco-Ikarus C42c
  • (number) Sailplane/glider e.g. D-6388 an ASK21
  • (name) Balloon, e.g. D-Warsteiner, the local brewery's balloon :-)

Landing fees and runway loadings are rated on this scheme too. The call signs thus tell radio partners such as controllers what sort of performance to expect, some of the big airliners/freighters will append their callsign with "Heavy", implying less manoeverable.

Comments (1) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Hi, Stu- I should have added a bit of information about flying/communicating in the USA since I'm not sure how much/what type of piloting you've done here. On first radio contact, one gives a bit of information: "Wichita Tower, this is Cessna (or Cessna Crusader, or Cessna Citation - as applies) 53316 at the Kechi Intersection, three thousand, visual approach to 19Left." This gives the controller an idea of the performance to expect; although, at times more specific information would be helpful. On approach in a Cessna 150 (which I had identified as "Cessna"), I was requested to maintain 140 knots because I was being followed by a faster airplane. Obviously, I told approach that I was unable and accepted making a 360 for spacing. See also Airman's Information Manual (AIM): Contact Procedures §4-2-3a. " About 2-300 of my 4800+ hours were in the USA, I guess, including most of my time on floats :-)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pegs in holes

Yesterday while I was riding along, I tried to remember the english idiom for someone unsuited to the job he/she was doing (mismatched interfaces). I couldn't remember whether it was "Square peg in a round hole" or "Round peg in a square hole" . Since I was riding a motorcycle (weather was wet but +3°C here, no ice or snow), I didn't have access to Google to look it up, so I tried mentally deriving from first principles.

The (red) pegs occupy π/4 and 2/π of the unit areas respectively, so a round peg fits better into a square hole than a square peg fits into a round hole. Therefore " square peg in a round hole" characterises the mismatch better.

The idiom is attributed to Sydney Smith, a witty UK writer and priest, ca. 1840.

When I got home, I googled both expressions. Turns out "square peg in a round hole" got 244,000 results but "round peg in a square hole" got only 48,700 results, which confirmed my mental arithmetic :-)

However, my wandering mind went on to look at the 3 dimensional case too. And yes, a sphere fits in a cube better than a cube in a sphere. But the ratio between the two is smaller. And so I went on to calculate the fits of 4-dimensional hyperspheres in 4-dimensional hypercubes and vice versa. The ratio decreased again. To cut a long story short, for spaces of 9 dimensions and more, the unit hypercube fits more closely into the unit hypersphere than vice versa! So if our universe has 11 or 23 dimensions, depending on which flavour of String Theory you favour, we may yet have to rewrite this idiom ;-)

PS : Comments about my excessive nerdiness will be duly ignored ;-)

Comments (3) :
Pergelator (USA) complained " I see the expressions 'π/4 and 2/π' and it really confused me for a minute because I could not figure out where the letter n came from. I eventually realized that it was not an N, but the Greek letter Pi. There ought to be a law against fonts with ambiguous characters." Charles, I merely sent the HTML special character #960, I have no control over how YOUR computer renders #960, it depends on the fonts in YOUR machine! My CSS merely defines a preferred "FONT-FAMILY: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;"
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "WHY would you be thinking about that while riding?" Because the driver of the big SUV in front was weaving over both lanes because he was texting while driving (and thus unsuitable for either job!). Luckily the SUV bore an ad with email and web address, so I remembered his number plate and the time of day and sent a complaining email to that address. I doubt it'll cure him of the habit, but at least it'll embarrass him in front of his collegues and/or staff :-)
John (UK) writes "You have assumed those extra dimensions are isotropic and linear" True, whereas string theory indicates some are rolled up smaller than the Plank length. So just regard it as a mental geometrical exercise, not serious physics :-)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Ultimate Cafe´Racer :-)

Drool! Droolier!! Drooliest!!! If I should ever win the lottery...

Steve Tonkin knows how to get us old bikers, hook line and sinker!

This is a roadgoing Manx Norton, legal in the UK, for gawd's sake!

Back in the early sixties in Europe, the Manx Norton was THE race bike, winning most short-circuit races and doing well in the TT against the italian fours too. 500cc, DOHC, single cylinder, open megaphone, double-leading shoes drum brake, 5-speed Quaife box, 1½" Amal GP carb, Featherbed frame. Bet it pulls like a steam train!

And now, Steve Tonkin, who specialised in resurrecting classic singles, builds these artisanal bikes in road trim. Gold Star 'silencer' from a DBD34 BSA, engine set up for more torque with less peak power (50 bhp), all just right for those Lancashire lanes of his region.

But 48,000+ Euros??? Sadly unaffordable. It'll stay a dream for me :-(

And come 1/1/2016, when the European Union tightens its rules about how loud engines may be (unbelievably, the current Ducati Panigale is street legal with 104 dB!!!), Steve will have a problem with that Goldie can, and methinks nobody is going to buy a Manx with a huge muffler, emitting a mere whisper. This is what an open 1962 Manx Norton sounds like, coming out of Governor's Bridge.

Steve Tonkin, who won the Junior TT back in 1981, has in previous years built the Tonkin Tempest which is powered by a DBD34 OHV Gold Star single and the Tonkin Typhoon, powered by a SOHC Matchless G50 engine in a Seeley-style frame, both eminently desirable. For 2015 he is planning on building a few NorVins (Vincent 1000cc V-twin in a Norton Featherbed frame). Already he has me hooked; what a shame I'm not able to afford any of them!

Here's a link to Steve Tonkin's website, where fellow bikers can drool too :-)

Comments (3) :
Ed (USA) asks "Why don't you ride a Harley or a chopper, like we do here?" Because I prefer a real motorcycle ;-) No, seriously, American bikes are mostly cruisers built for the longer, straighter roads you have over there. The roads in the UK - where my formative motorcycling years took place - are mostly curvy and twisty and so we preferred bikes which were agile. I still do :-)

FJS (D) wrote "Uuiiii - now THAT is a pretty motorcycle :-)" Indeed it is :-)
Dale (UK) asks "What changes would you need to make it street-legal in Germany?" Just from the photo : it needs a mirror (or 2), blinkers, right-dipping headlamp, maybe a quieter exhaust can(?), speedo in km/h, a horn.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pirating cartoons

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, I thought I might post a political cartoon of my own. However it turns out I have no drawing skills; the only style I might emulate is that of XKCD's stick figures, but XKCD does it much better anyway AND has a plethora of funny science stories associated with his cartoons :-)

So I tug my cap to XKCD and shall stick to texts and photos. You have to admire cartoonists - especially political ones for their ability to come up with jokes about current affairs, day in, day out. Respect! I couldn't do that on a daily basis.

XKCD is usually my favourite (because of the science ones), closely followed by Dilbert and Andy Capp. Which are your favourite cartoons?

Comments (4) :
John (UK) wrote "I quite like Kirkwood :-)" Thanks for the heads-up; that looks quite good :-)
Doug (Canada) has half a dozen favourites. Besides my favourite XKCD, he suggests " Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and " Questionable Content (won't make a lot of sense unless you start from the beginning but that's several thousand strips ago :) ), Beatrice the Biologist and The Oatmeal, finally User Friendly (another ongoing story strip 17 years and counting) where the characters develop over time - for techies." Not sure about QC, but I'll dip into the others occasionally.
Renke (D) sent 4 mails, which I'll try to glue together "+1 for SMBC and QC, both are part of my daily procrastination routine :) also I'm a regular reader of (NSFW[depending on the job, YMMV]), (for the silliness) and ahoipolloi (for the dark humour) [the latter 2 are German, though]....As my memory is mostly enclosed in my finger tips and I'm *still* procrastinating: geek culture (but I don't understand many of the Apple-centric strips, they feel unfunny as I'm not part of the iThing peer-group) and user friendly (since some years only reruns but still great). ...oops, Doug already mentioned User Friendly. Next stop: Beatrice, the one he mentioned I wasn't aware of. I'm not that fond of Oatmeal, but it seems his web comic suggestions are very compatible with my preferences. ... you do know Darths and Androids? .... and of course iGarfield. Generally Garfield is unfunny and stupid - but the remixes are fun for about 5 minutes every month or so. The link is the randomizer, press Reload until you're bored." Wow, that's a whole lot for me/us to look at. Thanks for the heads-up :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "... I'm still not sure about your title today; is "Pirating" meant to be a verb or an adjective?" Now that you point out the ambiguity, I'm not sure myself. Is "cartoons" a noun or a verb here? ;-)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lilienthal Archives Online :-)

Last week Cop Car implied that she'd like me to do more aviation posts. So here is one, for her and other pilots & historians :-)

Back in the early nineties, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, I flew my trusty Piper PA28 to the small town of Anklam (which is the birthplace of Otto Lilienthal) as they had just opened the Otto Lilienthal museum there. Well worth seeing. Now the museum has entered the global information age and has put all of the Lilienthal Archives online. Rare photos, his patents, correspondence, design notes and papers, everything is there, and for free!

A large subset of their website is available in English too, but to read Lilienthal's originals you will need to be able to read German of course. Here is the link :- Otto Lilienthal Museum in Anklam. Click on their logo there for a choice of languages; NB: unusually, their internal links are in bold grey text.

TLDR for non-pilots : Lilienthal pionieered glider flight and the scientific investigation thereof well before the Wright brothers built theirs.

Comments (2) :
John (UK) points out that "Before 1500 AD, Da Vinci designed a hang glider that could have flown." Sometimes I think he was a time traveller ;-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Thank you for heeding the implication, Stu. I can't speak for anyone else; but, I recall Lilienthal's having been part of our history lessons in grade school - after mention of the Montgolfier brothers' invention of a successful hot-air balloon. The monument to Lilienthal (on Aviator Hill) is striking." The Montgolfier's first invention was the cold air balloon - but it never really took off ;-)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2000 blogposts :-)

13years ago, I started on this blogging thingy, settling down to about 3 posts per week on a variety of subjects. Now I seemed to have reached a grand(?) total of 2000 posts. I'm surprised I've had the stamina. Thank y'all for staying with me. Yay, us!

Vor 13 Jahren, begann ich mit diesem Blogging-Ding, im Schnitt etwa 3 Beiträge pro Woche und eine Vielfalt von Themen. Jetzt habe ich insgesamt 2000 Beiträge erreicht. Ich bin überrascht, dass ich die Ausdauer hatte. Danke, dass ihr alle bei mir ward. Mir san toll!

Il ya 13 ans, j'ai commencé cette chose blogging, en moyenne, environ 3 messages par semaine et une variété de sujets. Maintenant, j'ai atteint un total de 2000 postes. Je suis surpris que j'ai eu l'endurance. Merci à tous était avec moi. Hurra nous!

XIII annos coepi scribere haec res, stipes subsidere ad III de septimana in pluribus rebus. Visum est quo pervenisse iam a magnum(?) summam MM articulis. Miror Ive fuit roboris. Gratias vobis inmunibus quia mecum est. Bene, nobis! :-)

2000 already? I think my hovercraft is full of eels now ;-)

Comments (5) :
Cop Car (USA) complains " I can't resist chiding you for being so repetitive, Stu. (You are being paid back for correcting my spelling! ; ) P.S. Some of us are better at starting than we are at maintaining/continuing/concluding. Congratulations on the excellent follow-through." Thanks :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "Keep up the good Würg!" Nice bilingual thing there!
John (UK) asks "What does 'Mir san toll' mean? Google cannot translate it :-(" Bavarian dialect for 'We are great' :-)
David (IL) has many translations of 'My hovercraft is full of eels'. Allegedly! I can only verify 5 of them. I wonder if they are all correct? Or if some are mistranslations of 'Our postillion has been struck by lightning' :-(
Ed (USA) asks "Why in (these) 4 languages?" Over the 13 years I have blogged mostly in English (a superset of American ;-), sometimes in German, rarely in French and once or twice in Latin (for my Vatican reader). Oh and maybe in Lallans on Burns Night, I don't remember. Google won't let you translate Lallans back into American, so I omitted it. BTW, my Latin is lousy.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sympathy for the Devil

Here in Germany - especially in the eastern city of Dresden - an anti-Islamic movement called Pegida has recently started. Pegida stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident". They call for fewer immigrants and refugees, in particular Moslems, whom they perceive as sponging off the state's security benefits and/or stealing their jobs (which is it?). They also want to ban the burka and achieve more equality for women, they claim. They have many right-wing sympathisers who distort a genuine cry for help as they join in Pegida's 18,000 man strong demonstrations.

Do-gooders and the Catholic church have organised counter-demonstrations (anti-Pegida) in an attempt to shout Pegida down instead of discussing/solving their perceived problems, casting Pegida as the Devil etc.

"Der Spiegel" has a more detailed article here.

However, some 34 percent of citizens agreed with the Pegida protestors that Germany is becoming increasingly Islamicized. German security agencies and politicians are alarmed. But the states' interior ministers have failed to develop a convincing plan to combat the problem. "We cannot label 10,000 people as right-wing extremists. That creates more problems than it solves" said one.

Concrete plans to limit immigration and refugees have not been forthcoming. Many refugees are indeed ill-educated, can't speak the language here, so can't get a job and so indeed do live off the state's security benefits, a minister has said. Language courses make little difference, it seems. Local authorities are hard put to find accomodation for the many refugees; nobody really wants them in their neighbourhood. That'll lead to ghettos, I expect :-(

Against this background, wednesday's attack by Islamic Fundamentalists in Paris on the editorial office of "Charlie Hebdo", a French satirical magazine which has criticised Islam in the past by running cartoons etc., which left 12 journalists dead and 8 more injured, has demonstrated Pegida's point and fed fuel to their flames :-( Expect more Pegida sympathizers now!

The analogy for our stateside friends is the GOP's perception of an invasion of Latino immigrants via Mexico, although I do not have a numerical comparison.

I fully expect that the "Charlie Hebdo" killings will cause a wave of anti-Islamic feelings, demos, protests etc, perhaps even counter-attacks on mosques in France and perhaps the rest of Europe. Perhaps finally peaceful Moslems who live here will start condemning the radical Islamists and turn them over to the states' security forces? Fat chance. But our politicians will have to scramble to respond adequately to Pegida's issues lest there be riots across the continent! Fat chance of that happening too, they are out of their depth :-(

We certainly do live in interesting times, thanks to the terrorist Islamic fundamentalists :-(

Je suis Charlie Hebdo !

Comments (2) :
Klaus (Alaska) takes me to task re US immigration " Here is a link to the Latino immigration to the US, in my opinion you can not compare that with the immigration of Muslims to Germany, Latino immigrants (mostly from Mexico) come to work in the US to have a better life (earning more money than in their home country) they do not have any religious or terroristic ambitions, the only problem with them is that most of them are here illegal, so they do not pay taxes, no social security, no unemployment, no health care, but our "famous" president will give them amnesty. On the other hand the US needs those Latinos because who in the world would do the agricultural work in the US, who would work for min. wages at McDonald's, Wal-Mart, etc., as you may know the Hispanic population is pretty soon the majority in the US, they are already in CA & TX and a few other States. Than off course you cannot compare Germany with the US (regarding immigration) the US is a classic immigration country, this country is based on immigration, who is a "real" American" ? , only the American Indians can claim that and they are close to extinction. But lately Germany has the second highest immigration after the US, in one regard Germany needs that because their birth rate is 1.3 kids per family, similar than Japan, without the immigrants the question is "who will pay the retirement for todays workforce when they retire". My favorite song was always "Imagine" by John Lennon, no wars, no religion, peace on earth, etc., what a dream that is, I rest my case." Thanks for the clarification. My sole point was that a perceived excess of Latinos in the US and a perceived excess of moslems here both lead to resentments which may soon boil over. Murder and terror in the name of a religion is hardly unique to Islam (think Srebrenica massacre or Rwandan genocide or the Shoah). But IS-lamic terrorism may lead to violence here unless the immigrant muslim population here take a stand against it.
Petra (A) wrote "Thankyou, fellow Atheists, fo not murdering anyone for religious reasons, today" Oh, that's neat!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Maze Maker etc.

Jenny asked me what I'd been reading over Xmas. Let's kick off the New Year with a book I just read for the first time over the Xmas holidays.

Michael Ayrton (1921-1975) was a multi-talented British artist and writer who seemed obsessed with the myths of the Minotaur and Daedalus, the legendary inventor and maze builder. He published this novel in 1967, the ISBN number is 0-907387-05-5; mine is an Amazon used but good copy.

Even his writing style seems pre-classical Mediterranean - and so is an acquired taste. But it communicates the credibility of Daedelus as a human being, one who sadly lost his only son (Icarus); his wife Naucrate, who was only 15 when she bore Icarus, barely gets a mention though. Asterion (the Minotaur) gets plenty though.

Ayrton wrote a number of other works on these myths, The Testament of Daedelus, Rudiments of Paradise, The Midas Consequence, etc., none of which I have read, so his Cretan style was new to me & tough going at first.

If you are interested in Greek/Minoan mythology, this is the book to read, I was told, but I found I had to chew a lot :-(

I had more fun re-reading some older books in my library: Nothing by Chance by Richard Bach (ISBN 0 586 05313 1), an autobiographical book/diary about barnstorming the mid-west in a 1920s biplane during the sixties. Fellow pilots would enjoy this. Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett, loosely based on the Book of Revelations, about the reincarnation of the Antichrist. Hilarious! Watching the English by Kate Fox, a 2004 paperback about the hidden rules of english behaviour, also pretty hilarious. Bill Bryson's Neither here nor there. Bryson is always good, I now have ALL of his books (amusing travelogues). Finally, Curious and Interesting Numbers by David Wells which is just a dictionary of numbers, in ascending order, and what makes them particularly interesting. A book for geeks avoiding any algebra. Example : 85 is the sum of 2 squares in 2 different ways, 9 and 2, and 6 and 7. Useless knowledge, suitable for cocktail parties and not much else. I remembered some of them for the aforesaid purpose ;-)

Before you ask, all 6 books were read from paper. A study by Anne-Marie Chang et al from the Harvard Medical School has shown that the higher proportion of blue light emitted by eBooks robs you of on average 1.5 hours sleep after reading in bed. The resulting low melatonin levels can cause breast, colonic and prostate cancers, they report :-(

And these 6 books are all I read over Xmas. How about you folks?

Comments (3) :
Jenny goes on to ask : "You thought that was hard reading? What book was the hardest to read for you in 2014? Which one was the most disappointing? And which was the easiest read?" The hardest read was George Lakoff's "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things" (ISBN 0-226-46803-8) which is a 1987 linguistics textbook about categorisation theory. Back in the late 1980s I had three computer-linguists on my AI R&D team who recommended this to me. It has taken me 3 tries over nigh on three decades to get through its 614 pages, linguistics doesn't really interest me, despite haven once written a parser in PROLOG for a large subset of written English. Most disappointing? Richard Bach's "Hypnotizing Maria" (ISBN 978-1-57174-623-8). I have liked all of Bach's books about flying, he's the guy who wrote "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull" etc. So I bought this one on his name alone, but it turns out to be a treatise on subjective realities with a tiny bit of aviation on the side. Very disappointing. The easiest read in 2014? That has to be re-reading Norton Juster's classic(1961) children's tale (for ages 8 and up, for all ages really, adults too) "The Phantom Tollbooth". Mine is the special 35th anniversary edition, ISBN 0-394-81500-9. A most enjoyable book; if you liked "Alice in Wonderland" you will love this too. You might find it in a second-hand bookshop or via your local library if the latter is any good :-)
Piet (NL) asks me to " us your bookshelf.". OK. Plural. There are several like this on each of 3 floors :-)

Guido (D) asks "What is (in English) the difference between maze and labyrinth?" Wikipedia says :- The Cretan labyrinth is the oldest known maze. Technically the maze is distinguished from the labyrinth, which has a single through-route with twists and turns but without branches, and is not designed to be as difficult to navigate. In everyday speech, both maze and labyrinth denote a complex and confusing series of pathways.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Stupid is as stupid does :-(

  • A : no leathers
  • B : no gloves
  • C : speeding through a construction site
  • D : at 120 km/h
  • E : where the speed limit is 30km/h

This biker, having previously run a red light, and who videoed himself doing it, subsequently fell off at speed, was caught by the cops and lost his licence. The cops later published his video as a deterrent. To avoid a Darwin Award, may he long continue to "enjoy" his pedestrian existence!

There’s old bikers and there’s bold bikers, but there ain’t no old bold bikers.

Ride safely in 2015 everyone, and keep your eyes peeled for all the other stupidity on the roads ;-)

Comments (3) :
Cop Car (USA) complains " As one who has never, ever done anything unsafe or stupid on a motorcycle, it's really annoying to have someone preach safety to me! Of course, the fact that I've "never, ever" can be accounted for by my never having ridden a motorcycle. I am fearless - but - not eager to die! ; )" Well just ignore my biking blogs then, like the bikers ignore my aviation blogs, OK?
Jenny (Ibiza) grins "I wonder what the firemen in that second picture were thinking? ;-)" Me too, or even if they were!
Schorsch (D) asks "Did you hear about the Darwin Award candidate in Willingen at the weekend?" Yes, those 3 guys climbed the (10 feet) fence of the mile-long world championship toboggan run at 4a.m. in the morning, and raced down the run at 120+ kph on kiddie sleds, only to hit the ice-tractor parked at the bottom end. 1 dead, 2 seriously injured. Real Darwin Award candidates! :-(

Friday, January 2, 2015

Never annoy the wife!

Last wednesday being New Year's Eve, we were invited to a midnight dinner party. The wife asked me for a €50 note, so she could go that morning to the beauty parlour, and so (for the party) look beautiful.
I gave her a €200 note ;-)

After the party, me being the sober designated driver, I was driving us home in the early hours of New Year's day, when I got pulled over for speeding.
Cop: "I assume that you already know that you were doing 70 in a 50 zone?"
Me : "Since when is here a 50 zone?"
Cop: "Since the week before Xmas"
Me : "Oh. Sorry. You know, we do not come so often to this area and ..."
Wife: "What are you talking about? We drive by here every day and live almost around the corner!"
I look at her despairingly ...
Cop: "Also, I noticed that you are not wearing your seatbelt."
Me : "You know, I just unstrapped it when you stopped me."
Wife: "No, that's not true, love, you almost never buckle up. I always say to you, this will end badly sometime."
I throw the wife a dirty look ...
Cop: "Furthermore, your left tail light does not work."
Me : "WHAT? As I set off, it was working ...."
Wife: "But the backlight hasn't been working for months. I told you, you needed to get it fixed!"
I explode with rage at her and shouted: "CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP!"
Cop: "Madam, does your husband always yell at you like this?"
Wife: "No, not always. Only when he's drunk!"
So I ended up having to take a breathalyser test, while the wife chortled away to herself in revenge for the €200 slight :-(

Have a happy New Year everyone, and don't believe everything I tell you ;-)

Comments (1) :
Doug (Canada) complains "That's such an old joke :-(" It proves my memory still works though ;-)

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