Use Ctrl+ to enlarge this blog page if you need to.
--> Most recent Blog
Search this site
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, January 31, 2020
Finally, Brexit at midnight CET tonight :-)fter many many delays and staggering between stepping-stones, the UK will finally leave the European Union at midnight Central European Time (11PM GMT) tonight.
Despite Cameron, May and now Johnson believing that the centre of the EU was always at 10 Downing street, it never was. My motorcycling friends and I always took a ride to the new centres whenever a country joined the EU. See here. But this next ride will be the first to celebrate a country leaving the EU. I expect we'll go there in the summer of 2020 :-)
The new centre - as of tomorrow - will be at Gadheim, a small Bavarian village (pop. 80) at 49° 50' 35" N, 9° 54' 07" E, about 280 kms SE of here as the crow flies. Expert geographers used a 2D map of the EU and looked where would the balancing point be; one of half a dozen possible methods, but the one most widely accepted, we are told.
Karin Kessler is the farmer who owns the field at those coordinates, but local mayor Juergen Goetz got on board the bandwagon early and has leased the field corner for 5 years, paving a path from the farm roads, erecting three flagpoles, putting in a circular picknick table, a semicircular bench, a big rock and a trash bin to make it an attractive destination for the tourists he hopes to attract. A striped pole marks the centre and a bus-sized parking place is planned. Sadly, he seems to have forgotten to provide a toilet :-(
Sometimes people wonder why the UK was in the EU at all; Sir Humphrey explains ;-)
Wishing everyone a happy Brexit party tonight, regardless of which side of the Channel you are on. And a big THANKYOU to Prof. Alan Sked to whom we owe Brexit, it was his idea :-)
Monday, January 27, 2020
Scud Running killsunday's news covered inter alia the death of Kobe Bryant & 8 others in a helicopter crash in the LA area. I suspect this was due to scud-running :-(
The aircraft in question was a Sikorsky S76B, like the one shown below. It is a twin-turbine 13 seater and was allegedly carrying 9 people, so was not overloaded.
The helicopter flew from Irvine (lower right of the map below) , northwest over LA and was held for 15 minutes over Glendale before being allowed to enter Burbank's airspace on a Special-VFR clearance. Special-VFR here means clear of cloud and at least 1 mile visibility. The pilot was warned of deteriorating weather (fog) at least 3 times, with instrument traffic into Burbank going around due to minima (IFR minima are usually a 200 foot cloudbase and 1 mile visibility) and asked his intentions. This is a big hint to divert to Burbank instead of going up into the hills to the SW. ATC advised that radar-following was terminated (because the chopper was too low?); another big hint.
The track goes north of Burbank airfield, turns south and then west following Ventura Freeway. It then left the SW-bound freeway and turned south towards Malibu Creek. As you can see from the map, the terrain rises here. There were certainly clouds on the hills and low fog. Visibility at the crash site was less than marginal (i.e. X-ray).
My guess is that the pilot flew into cloud and tried to climb out of rising terrain in the cloud. He initiated a sudden climb but at maximum speed. Hovering and letting down slowly in cloud is not a practical option, it's too easy to lose orientation and the Sikorsky's autopilot uncouples at speed below 68 knots afaik. You have to fly it like a fixed-wing plane.
The pilot was Ara Zobayan, an IFR rated instructor. Ara was flying Kobe’s private helicopter during the crash. IMHO, the holding pattern flown over Glendale was highly irregular, certainly not the racetrack-pattern expected of an IFR-rated pilot. Maybe he was cloud-dodging aka scud-running in the pattern, trying to stay in VMC?
Scud Running kills :-(
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Pizza? My arse!ometimes restaurants have most peculiar names.
In the little spa town of Bad Wünnenburg, about 10 miles south of us, a new pizzeria opened last december. The flashy neon sign outside reads "Pizza Arsemia". This is a scan from their menu.
Now my friend Vasily, who is quite infamous for inventing conspiracy theories on the spot, came up with the following derivation for the name :-) He thinks that "Arsemia" is the italianisation of "My arse", and alleges that the owner probably misheard Janis Joplin singing Piece of my heart as Pizza my Arse which he then italianised to Pizza Arsemia ;-)
So I went inside to ask (I take every chance to deflate Vasily) and it turns out that the owner is a turkish gentleman from the town of Gerger, in Turkey. The town was founded in the sixth century BC on the banks of the river Euphrat. When founded, Gerger was originally called Arsemia, after the King Seleucus Arsemes.
So much for Vasily's theory, even if it was more amusing ;-)
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Astronomically Stupid!!!ometimes I see cartoons etc which are so scientifically stupid and just plain WRONG that it makes me want to bang my head against a wall!
I don't know which amateur dilettante came up with this one, but it does take a prize for idiocy!
Let's take it apart and show the mistakes. We'll give the miscreant author the benefit of the doubt and assume his claim dates from 1991 not 2020. Why 1991? Well the moon landing was in 1969, and he wants to place a telescope to see the moon landing 22 light-years away and 1969+22=1991.
So if he built his "powerful telescope" in 1991 and then tried to place it in the desired position, even if he could transport it at the speed of light (the universal speed limit), the wavefront of the light from the moon landings would have moved on another 22 light-years. He would ALWAYS be 22 light-years behind that wavefront :-(
Now let's consider what his "powerful telescope" implies sizewise. Back in 1969 we didn't have telescopes powerful enough to even see the moon landing from Earth. And the Moon is only 1¼ light-seconds away from the Earth. We didn't have them by 1991 and we don't even have them today! Not even diffraction-limited telescopes would be able to see the moon-landing from Earth unless they were absolutely huge, perhaps miles and miles across; you do the math on the size of their Airy disc.
This is a picture of Saturn, which is about 64 light-minutes away from Earth at their closest approach. It was taken with an amateur's 8-inch aperture reflector scope. The image quality was seeing-limited (as are all photos from the surface) but I got a factor 4.5 improvement in signal/noise ratio (image quality) by stacking 20 different 30-second exposures on top of one another. An 8 inch mirror gave me a useful magnification of only 8*50=400. Now think of the size of Eagle compared with the size of Saturn, much less than a pixel here :-(
Now the picture above of Saturn is of much better quality (aka resolution) because it was taken by the Cassini spaceship from quite close to Saturn (light-seconds not 64 light-minutes), you still can't see Eagle-size rocks in the rings.
Cassini also took a picture looking back from Saturn's orbit, showing Earth and the Sun. Our Moon is not even visible.
So if this is looking back from just over a light-hour away, and you can't even see our Moon let alone the Eagle on it, then how large a telescope would you have needed to see Eagle from a light-hour away? Now scale that up (by 192700) to 22 light-years away. Impossible!
For more exposures about bad astronomy, I refer you to Phil Plait, a professional astronomer.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
he trash press insist on keeping us up to date about the UK's royal family squabble.
It seems that Harry and Meg will go from HRHs to TCL (Their Common Lownesses), get NO public cash, have to repay the £2.4 Mio that was invested in rebuilding Frogmore Cottage (for which they will now have to pay rent), may no longer represent the Queen, make no military appointments (so Harry has to give back all his uniforms, except perhaps that Nazi one(?)), no longer be Captain General of Marines, Hon Air Commandant, Commodore-In-Chief and Youth Ambassador, return the fake medals, etc etc.
Inconsistent with this, it seems they retain the titles Duke & Duchess of Sussex, so it is unclear (to me) whether their website can retain the https://sussexroyal.com/ URL. But who cares?
Moving to Canada may teach them how to say "Sorry!", but in two weeks (the Brexit date) Canada may no longer recognise their passports which still bear the misleading claim "European Union"?
All of this and they will be getting more rather than less papparazzi :-(
Thursday, January 16, 2020
U.S. Aircraft Carriershe USA is a very belligerent nation and has in fact been at war for over 90% of its history :-( The word belligerent comes from the Latin belligenere meaning "waging war".
But because the USA is far away from most other countries and its air-superiority fighters and ground-attack fighter-bombers have relatively short ranges, it needs aircraft carriers to transport them to their war-zones. Currently the US has 11 of them in service and 4 more in the pipeline.
There are two classes in current use, the Nimitz class and the Gerald R. Ford class. Apart from the (9th) reuse of the name Enterprise, many of these supercarriers are named after US presidents, not very enterprising ;-)
But one was named after a US king!
Did you know that the USA once had a king? I don't mean King George or one of the other older Brit kings; this was in the 20th century! In fact there was one person - the only person - who served as both Vice President and as President of the USA (but was never elected to either office!) who was born with the surname King.
Leslie Lynch King Jr. was otherwise known as Gerald R. Ford after whom the newest class of U.S. aircraft carriers is named. Of the Nimitz class, seven (out of 10) were named after US presidents. Two of the Gerald R. Ford class have been completed, both named after US presidents. If there is ever one to be named after Donald J. Trump (the J stands for Jenius, he told us) it will be subject to a deck redesign and will look like this :-;
Update 26/1/2020: The next carrier will named after Doris Miller :-)
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
No memory lockout :-(y memory is getting worse :-(
We were going to the MC monthly party, SWMBO, the dog and I. They had already left the house, headed for the carport, when I pulled the front door of the house closed behind me. Only to discover the keyring with car-key and house-key were still in the hook in the house :-( Oh, shit! I'd forgotten the key and so locked us out of house AND car!
While SWMBO was having a grand fit of fury at my incompetence, I was trying to think what to do. Good friends have our spare key, so call their mobile phones as they are going to the same party. Their phones were turned off as they were going to a party :-( So I called a cab to take us there too. When the cab arrived (after we'd sat 20 minutes in the cold, waiting), he refused to take us because we had the dog with us :-(
So we called other friends at the same party until we found one whose mobile was turned on and asked to talk to the couple with our spare key. Said lady then generously drove back to bring us our spare house key. Situation saved at the cost of waiting an hour in the cold. And I owe her drinks next time, when she is not the designated party driver! Thankyou! It was my bad!
We have this biker spare-key-swapping habit from our long motorcycle trips (where we've never lost a key). But it paid off this time. I'm not someone who leaves a house-key under the doormat like some folks in the village!
But I need to do something to improve my memory as I get older.
What's your emergency plan?
Cop Car wrote "
I bought a little house in December 1977, during which time we were experiencing snow/sleet/blowing weather for the whole month.
In addition, I was working a temporary assignment at the company's division that was clear across town. Great timing! In moving my stuff from my
apartment the first day, I managed to lock myself out. (BTW, the previous owners had about four sets of locks and chains on the front door.) I was so
infuriated that I took the tire iron out of my trunk and pretty much destroyed the frame of the front door to get inside. After unloading my carload of stuff,
I went to the hardware store to purchase three sets of heavy-duty deadbolts. After rebuilding the door frame and installing the deadbolts I never again locked myself out.
Since that day, much to Hunky Husband's dismay, I've never lived in a house that did not have deadbolt locks. And I've never been locked out, again; although (of
course it had to happen), HH locked himself out when he went for his run one day - while I was at the eye doctor's.
Friday, January 10, 2020
Factorial fun!ime for sum(!) more maths fun.
Recently, my old friend John (UK) whom I've known for over 55 years, opined that I was some sort of polymath (that's someone who can parrot algebra etc ;-). Nice complement/compliment, not sure I agree. Another old friend Derek (Canada) - we all went to university together - saw the syllable "math" and ran with it, sending me four proofs that factorial zero = one. I maintain that you can't prove it, merely define it to be so.
So let's do this. Factorial N can be defined as the product of all positive integers up to N. So factorial 5 = 1*2*3*4*5 = 120. But this doesn't cover factorial zero, so we need a different definition. Most programming courses will use factorial N as an example for teaching recursion, saying that recursively factorial(N) = N * factorial(N-1). Reversing the sequence shown above factorial(5) = 5*4*3*2*1 =120. Or :- factorial(5)=5*factorial(4), where factorial(4)=4*factorial(3) and factorial(3)=3*factorial(2) and factorial(2)=2*factorial(1) and factorial(1)=1*factorial(0) using the recursion shown above and therefore factorial(0)=1 just to make this definition consistent. QED.
You could use a different definition for factorial N. It is the number of different ways you can place N items on a line. So with three items, A,B, and C you could place them as ABC, or ACB, or BAC or BCA or CAB or CBA. So factorial(3) is 6 because there are 6 different ways to place 3 items in a line. Factorial(2) is 2 because there are 2 different ways to place 2 items in a line (AB and BA). Factorial(1) is 1 because there is only one way to put one item on a line, and similarly Factorial(0) is 1 because there is only one way to place zero items in a line :-)
I have another anecdote about factorials. About 35 years ago I was working with Prof. Wolfgang K. Giloi (R.I.P these 10 years) on efficient algorithms. He asked his students what was the most efficient sorting algorithm (Quicksort, imho) and which was the most inefficient. The latter they thought to be BubbleSort. However, I explained that there is an even more inefficient sorter: ChanceSort. This just looks at an array and, if it is already sorted, stops. Otherwise it shuffles the array at random and tries again. And again. And again. Now since there are Factorial(N) different ways you can place N items in the array, the average runtime will be Factorial(N)/2. Terrible!
Now I'm going to skip talking about factorials of fractions (example : factorial(½) = root(Pi)/2 because that would be getting into complex territory, so here are some more general maths jokes I found on the web :-
In that last one, little children show us our limitations. Here's one of mine : I've been trying for the last twelve years to prove that every even number is the sum of two primes, without success. Why? There's a prize of one million dollars for the first person to prove that :-) It's called Goldbach's conjecture and computers have shown it holds for all the even integers up to 4*1018, but that's not a proof it holds for ALL of them :-(
Carol (UK) wrote "Off Topic : Wolfgang Dauner died on friday. I know you were a fan." He was 84, afaik. RIP.
Monday, January 6, 2020
Going to Mars
very couple of years, the orbits of Earth and Mars around the sun are such that the two planets are quite close together. That means that there is an elliptical orbit for lobbed spacecraft so that the zero-g transit time is "only" six to ten months. Quite close ;-) And that happens this year, so there are currently four missions planned to send spacecraft to Mars.
NASA already has four rovers there, Curiosity, Opportunity, Sojourner and Spirit. Now they are planning a fifth - a twin of Curiosity - to be launched in the july/august timeframe. It too will search for traces of life on Mars.
ESA (the European Space Agency) - in cooperation with Russia - will be sending a rover named after Rosalind Franklin who helped discover the DNA double helix (but didn't get a Nobel prize because she died early (at 37) of ovarian cancer). This rover will be landing where there used to be a sea and will there bore a two-meter deep hole in the search for any subterranean(?)/submartian(?) remains of sea-life, possibly microbial.
The Chinese mission "Yinghuo 2" (= Firefly 2) consists of an orbiter, lander and a rover (four separate spacecraft). The rover will be searching for water-ice in the martian rocks.
The fourth mission is by the United Arab Emirates and is called Hope. It is an orbiter only, a landing is not planned. Its job is to analyse the martian atmosphere. I just hope that all the landers (and the orbiters, should they crash) are biologically 100% sterile and so do not pollute Mars with any terran lifeforms (bacteria, virii) !
You know, if any aliens from another solar system arrived in our solar system and investigated Mars as the first planet in within the habitable zone, they would report back home that Mars is entirely inhabited by robots ;-)
All this enthusiasm for Mars reminds me of my own enthusiasm as a small boy for Barsoom, a series of 7 novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs which he wrote about 100 years ago. When mankind sends a manned spacecraft to Mars, it should imho be named Barsoom 1 and the (single?) crew member should imho change his name by deed poll to "John Carter" ;-)
Yes, Jenny, and Trump is wagging the dog (= impeachment distraction) while Iranian generals name themselves after their favourite attack methods : the assassinated general was called Gas 'em.
Friday, January 3, 2020
Holiday avian diningow do you know someone is vegan, without seeing what they eat? They will tell you. Over and over again. At great length. Like listening to a Jehovah's Witless proselytizing. What incessant bores they are!
So by way of revenge, I am going to tell you what we ate over the holidays. Birds. We ate birds. Two of them. Either by countryside tradition or because our local butcher only offers an avian diet around Xmas time.
Back in 2017, we ate a pheasant which SWMBO had shot (she's the one with the hunting license, I'm just the pheasant plucker, as you all know ;-) ). Here are the Xmas 2017 photos. I still think that pheasant is the most tasty bird to eat. 2018 we enjoyed ostrich schnitzel; a little on the dry side, there being very little fat on them. Last year we ate duck on Xmas eve, delicious and nicely crispy. So Xmas day it was duck leftovers, eaten cold, but still quite tasty. On Boxing day we ate goose (thighs), a darker meat, not so crispy and a bit fatty. So next day it was goose leftovers, microwaved warm, still good.
Do not eat swan! They are greasy and oily and hard to chew. There are still some restaurants in the north of Germany which have swan on the menu. Curiosity got the better of me (sadly), as in the UK you are not allowed to eat swan. All the swans in the UK belong to HM the Queen and she is not going to let commoners eat them. Just as well. Avoid eating swan! Greasy & chewy :-(
So did you eat any birds over the holidays?
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Valid_Datedo here we are at Hogmanay+1; welcome to the New Year. Now we just have to remember to write 2020 each time, validating the time and date which we'll sometimes get wrong at the start of a new year.
Years ago, I was tasked with writing software to check times and dates as they were being entered to a database. Easy, I thought. 24 hours (0-23), 60 minutes (0-59), and 60 seconds (0-59). Turns out to be harder than I'd imagined. Sometimes there are 61 seconds in a minute, due to leap seconds. Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December or June. Because the Earth's rotation speed varies in response to climatic and geological events, UTC leap seconds are irregularly spaced and unpredictable, but usually 6 months notice is given. So my SW had to access https://datacenter.iers.org/data/latestVersion/16_BULLETIN_C16.txt to see when the next leap-sec was due, as only then were 61 seconds valid.
Next issue was to validate the date. We all know the table of short vs. long months and the rule for a leap year. But that's not the whole game. The sequence of dates depends on where you were at the time. On December 23, 1994, the Republic of Kiribati announced a change of time zone for the Line Islands, which are on the International Date Line, to better align them with the increasingly important trade partner (Australia) instead of the USA. So the day after december 29th was december 31st for them. 30/12/94 was an invalid date there!
If my SW was to be used for historical dates, it would have to cope with the year zero problem. The Gregorian calendar jumps from 1 BC to 1 AD, there is no year zero, they assume Jesus aged very quickly ;-) However, there is a year zero in astronomical year numbering (where it coincides with the Julian year 1 BC) and in ISO 8601:2004 (where it coincides with the Gregorian year 1 BC), as well as in all Buddhist and Hindu calendars. This leads to the idea that the date can depend on your religion too! Help!!! And on the region you lived in : February 30 was a real date in Sweden in 1712. As if that wasn't enough, different countries (as they were bordered back then) changed over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in different years, not all following the Pope's orders. So it's religion AND region too.
The problems happen this week too. Monday 30/12/2019 is listed in my business calendar as starting Week 1 of 2020. Kinda confusing :-(
Whatever, here's wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!
Link to the previous month's blog.
Brexit tonight :-)
Scud Running kills
Pizza my arse!
U.S. Aircraft Carriers
No memory lockout :-(
Going to Mars
Holiday avian dining
Good Omens & Puckoon
Torn ligament :-(
Custom Bike Show
PISA results worsen
Free Lunch :-)
In Germany's oldest Inn
A History of Economics
The Day the Wall fell
Transit of Mercury
Harley Outfit restored!
Halloween costume 2019
Harry and Meghan ;-)
Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Finding life hard?
Starts with a Bang
Travels With an Alien
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
This blog is getting really unmanagable, so I've taken the first 12 years' archives offline. My blog, my random decision. Tough shit; YOLO.
ENGLISH : I am not responsible for the contents or form of any external page to which this website links. I specifically do not adopt their content, nor do I make it mine.
DEUTSCH : F?r alle Seiten, die auf dieser Website verlinkt sind, m?chte ich betonen, dass ich keinerlei Einfluss auf deren Gestaltung und Inhalte habe. Deshalb distanziere ich mich ausdr?cklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten und mache mir ihren Inhalt nicht zu eigen.
This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
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 ;-)
Books I've written