Thursday, July 30, 2009
VooDoo Dolls ;-)t some time(s) in our lives we have all encountered someone who just pisses us off! For some of you, it may currently be a pointy-haired boss like Clark in the Sick Days blog or the faceless fifth-floor burocraps that HaggisChorizo sometimes blogs about. For others it may be the Ex - demanding more alimony, lawyers, the live-in mother-in-law, an obstreperous neighbour, a fellow wage-slave, or the incompetents of your local council. Whoever.
Christians will preach at you to turn the other cheek. But what you really want is revenge of some sort :-) This may not be practical though. Your boss could fire you if he discovers your revenge plans. Or the council evict you, the Ex castrate you etc.
So now is the time to change your religion over to Voodoo !
In fact, I used to have an original scary-looking raggedy voodoo doll I'd brought back from Haiti decades ago. But when my then-revenge-target started limping with a dodgy knee, he must have gone for an acupuncture session, because the doll fell apart in agony (actually our pup Kosmo shook it apart like a rag rat ;-)
The recent replacement is made in - and of - china. Well, baked clay I suppose. So it looks like a miniature Golem, but without the scrip or any genitals. Good jewish tradition. It also has pre-positioned needle holes. The one shown in use above is presumably for invoking a heart attack (or mere heartburn, if you are feeling lenient).
Now, if you want to get revenge on your remarried Ex, you could always go for the migrain spot as shown on the left, above. The photo on the right is more for invoking a dose of clap, prostrate trouble, or a weak bladder, I guess ;-)
The label on the back confirms the clay doll is intended for voodoo use; with a different label and accompanying leaflet it could well be an acupuncture instructional tool ;-) The clay doll is cross-eyed and has its mouth sewn shut, so I can only assume the maker had mother-in-law trouble ;-) I'm trying it out right now, so watch out, you folks!
Monday, July 27, 2009
French Letters ;-)I was reading a badly-translated french tourist guide recently. About ¾ way through there was a hilarious instruction - obviously intended for Brits and Canadians (used to red pillar boxes) and for Americans and Russians (both used to blue mailboxes) - which had been translated badly as "Put your French letters into little yellow boxes".
What does that tell us about early French colonialism in South-east Asia? ;-)
Sunday, July 26, 2009
If Pythagoras had visited the Pentagon ;-)102 + 112 + 122 = 132 + 142
Update: Charles Pergiel - ever to be praised for his curiousity - has a spread-sheet proving that this is a unique solution for consecutive integers. Well done, Charles!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Bleriot Centenaryxactly 100 years ago today Bleriot made the first cross-channel flight in a primitive wood and wire aeroplane. This PD photo is reproduced from Wikipedia; it shows the original aeroplane now well
Interestingly, Bleriot only achieved stability of his aeroplane by removing the covering from the rear fuselage, thus ADDING drag [but behind the centre of lift] ;-)
PS : The BBC has a report :- Pilots recreate Channel crossing.
Friday, July 24, 2009
German pensioners' problems, againAfter I'd raged about sub-subsistence-level state pensions on the 10th, my attention was drawn to the miserable fate of the state of Brandenburg. Let me extrapolate...
Brandenburg is a very rural state in what was formerly East Germany, low population density, not much industry, mostly agriculture. So there are few jobs and the tendency is for the younger people to move away to West Germany where there are (more) jobs available, thus just leaving the old folk there.
Extrapolating the current net exit rate to 2050, implies that 90% (yes, ninety) of Brandenburg's population will be over 65 by 2050 AD. There will be 25% over 85 in East Germany as opposed to 15% in West Germany. The number of people in need of nursing care will rise from 2.3 to 4.4 million, almost doubling by 2050. So presumably the remaining 10% of Brandenburg's population - the working part - will be nursing home personell and doctors/geriatricians?
Conclusion? Brandenburg needs to start building more nursing homes now (while they still have taxpayers to finance the construction), and they need rapidly to institute an education campaign for the younger people to get them enter geriatric-care careers.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Progriz Riport 1 *low progress is being made recovering from my May traffic accident (busted shoulder & knee). The leg bandage is off and I can walk around well, albeit slowly. The Stuka-support for my lamed arm is off and I am attending daily physiotherapy to recover the atrophied muscles. If all goes well I should be able lift my right elbow off the table by the weekend and point at the horizon by sometime next month (= arm will be self-supporting). Then we'll see what the next milestones are.
Tricia said : "Suggestive underwear! I like your pink elephant trunk ;-)"
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
e went all that way forty years ago and didn't get to walk on the moon, poor guy. And this week everyone seems to be talking about Armstrong and Aldrin, and poor old Michael Collins who stayed in the command module in lunar orbit, barely gets a mention. So this blogpost is dedicated to you, Michael.
No less a hero!
And your Irish namesake was no less famous either, though in a different way.
Monday, July 20, 2009
uman beings are naming-animals. We name things : places (see left), colours, plants, chemicals, concrete objects and astract ideas.
We do this because we only have low-bandwith communications (speech, writing), so it is more efficient to transmit only a name (aka pointer to an object) rather than the whole cloud of tagged associations for which a much higher bandwidth would be needed. The corollary of this is that we have to spend years - nay, decades - teaching ourselves the whole cloud of associations behind each name. This is called education, and the more you have, the more complex the messages you are able to exchange.
Instinctively, mankind has always done Huffmann coding too, ensuring that the more important and/or frequent concepts get the shorter names. Similarly, shorter pronouns are used which use less bandwidth than regular nouns.
Let's look at the role of domain-specific education. Firstly, I'll use colours as an example. Technically, colours can be defined as coordinates on a CIE 1931 colour space chromaticity diagram of which only the sRGB subset triangle is available on the web. Of the 16 named colors that work in all browsers, most of us would be hard put to place Fuchsia, Teal and Aqua correctly in the sRGB subset triangle. Of the defined Web Colour names, could YOU place Bisque, Burlywood, Gainsboro, Mediumorchid, Papayawhip, Seashell, or Thistle anywhere near correctly? Thought not. So education (or even a lookup chart) is necessary to understand the arbitrarily given names.
Now let's look at deep-understanding (via more education) versus shallow-understanding (via less education). I'll use car headlight bulbs as an example. NASCAR-dad may only know that Halogen bulbs give a brighter light. That's shallow knowledge. Someone with an education in chemistry will be able to place the Halogens in the Standard periodic table as the yellow column over on the right, name the elements which are Halogens, and recognise that they all are one electron short of a full shell in the Bohr model of atoms. Someone with an education in physics will also know that the effective range of a headlight is only proportional to the fourth root of its brightness; you need a factor of 16 times in brightness to get twice the range, all other things being equal. This is deep-understanding, implying a bigger tag-cloud of associations for each word you hear.
New names in the periodic table are chosen by international agreement once the new elements are discovered, replacing the placeholder names which are merely latinisations of their atomic numbers (see 111 and up).
Let's look at well structured domains, organic chemistry is my example domain which has complex names describing the structure of the molecules. There were about 500 prefix names for organic radicals alone, and 68 rules for naming organic compounds which we learned at school back in 1960 (is that still 68, Crouchender?).
But when an organic compound besomes economically significant/marketable a trade name is chosen that your Mr. Average can recall, thus Aspirin instead of acetylsalicylic acid (important and/or frequent concepts get shorter names, remember). Instead of having to say 1-[[3-(6,7-dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1 H-pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)-4-ethoxyphenyl]-sulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine citrate or even use the formula C28H38N6O11S, we just say 'Viagra'. Alternatively, an acronym is used, 'cos no-one says 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, everyone uses the acronym TNT. Trade names and acronyms are the Huffmann coding effect which I mentioned earlier.
When we get into less well structured knowlege domains, or need to name abstract concepts instead of concrete objects - for example in mathematics - our convention is to name them after the person or persons who discovered the idea. Thus we have the Fibonacci numbers, Hawking radiation and Kaluza-Klein theory. Because the concepts are not widely understood, tertiary education is needed, but nowadays we can just link the names to their descriptions in Wikipedia, as I have done for you. The names keep our communication bandwidth down, as I suggested earlier.
Names are also canned history. Thus most people in Germany named Adolf are over 65. There is a hill in England, named by the Picts, then the Celts, then the Saxons, then the Normans, each of whom added a prefix. So, translating them all, we get Hill-Hill-Hill-Hill :-) In France there are a number of place-names ending in -ac (e.g. Cognac). Turns out, the -ac means aqua (=water) and a line joining these place-names correlates well with the ends of the glaciers in the last ice age!
All this rambling was caused by some young friends who are all in a tizzy dither about choosing names for their first child; a daughter is expected, so how about Una? ;-)
Anyway, blogreaders could do worse than read this poem about Choosing Names :-)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Exactly WHAT other things, John?years ago to this very day we saw Wernher von Braun's dream come true as Apollo 11 set out for the moon, there to land a few days later - "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed!" *
At the beginning of the decade, during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25th 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared his goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s. He said :- "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things...."
And what I STILL want to know is : Exactly WHAT other things, John?
Bastille Day, July 14, 2009
À la recherche du têtes perdu ;-)Bastille day, so I'm watching the parades in Paris on TV and enjoying a drink. Proust!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!
This is a post for all of you young couples who suffer from premature ejaculation, coming-too-soon, popping-your-cork, or whatever is your preferred euphemism for what doctors call Ejaculatio praecox. Help is now available.
Ever since I started this blog (when I was 58) I have been inundated by spam offering Viagra, Cialis, the Pfizer Riser, call it what you will. It may - of course - just have been critical opinion of this blog, but more likely just sales ads.
But there were no spam adverts coming thick and fast (sic!) for pills against a more prevalent condition - premature ejaculation. Probably because there were no effective pills available then. Just quickies galore. Gal 'ore ;-) Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!
15 to 25% of men suffer from premature ejaculation. In particular sexual beginners. Intra-vaginal ejaculation delays of under a minute can be extended (sic!) to 2.8 to 3.3 minutes according to recent studies*. US pharma giant Johnson and Johnson now sell a delaying pill called Dapoxetin** (incidentally, an anti-depressive), now available (in Germany) via a doctor's prescription in 30mg and 60mg doses under the name Priligy.
However, significant side effects of the higher dosage have been reported. 20% of the men taking Dapoxetin felt queasy, 6% reported dizziness and 7% got 'dire-rear ;-)'
A sixpack of Priligy in the 30mg dosage costs €68.10, in the 60mg dosage it costs €83.69. "This product is bang on"(sic!) it is claimed ;-) But enough of the facts...
Rumour has it that, in England in the Middle Ages, village witches like Nanny Ogg would prescribe a terrible-tasting strong syrup made from a local herb, telling the megarandy jus-primae-noctis gentrifolk that "The secret to good sex is to take your thyme ;-)"
Comments (2) :
Kevin : "Pretty lame article! It made me cork my pop and put it back in the fridge"
Saturday, July 11, 2009
HousekeepingIn an effort to reduce the storage needed on the server, I have taken the archives 2002 through 2008 offline. So only this year is archived online now. Tough luck for those of you who came here via a search engine, looking for something ancient :-(
Oops, over ½ of my hits are gone. I'll have to grin and bear it :-(
Friday, July 10, 2009
Poor persons' pensionsThe barman's remark that there were "fewer senior citizens dropping in for a pint these days" was greeted as a comment on the current economic crisis. But I took it as an indication of increasing poverty among the old, and decided to do a little social(ist) research. Here is a summary of the results.
First data found were a histogram of weekly incomes in the UK. Other countries will have different values for the mean and the median, but the shape will stay the same. 'Median' implies that 50% of people had a higher income than £362 and 50% had less. It is a measure of 'average' less sensitive to the outliers (caused by the rich and super-rich people over in the spike on the far right) than the arithmetic mean of £443.
The OECD defines poverty-level as 50% of the median, it was thus £181 in the UK.
Next I looked at hypothetical people who had been earning exactly that breadline (50% of each year's median) for the full 45 year pension-earning period. From this the pension entitlement in different countries was calculated as a percentage of the brutto (pre-deductions) median wage. In other words, how many % of the poverty level is covered by the state pension? The results are sad :-(
I haven't been able to find data for a trend line, but it will be at least the inflation rate plus the amount by which the government freeze pensions or change their rules.
Only 43% ?Is this really the best that we as a society can do?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
A real heroWhile the American media have been giving us all that hoopla about a bleached BAD boy's brainless burial, a REAL hero has passed away without any media attention :-(
Ed Freeman (Medal of Honour).
Steve Close has circulated the following text, to whom thanks.
You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray , Vietnam .. Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 - 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the Medivac helicopters to stop coming in. You're laying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is ½ way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a chopper, and you look up to see an unarmed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it... Ed Freeman is coming for you... He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors & Nurses. And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out. Medal of Honour Recipient, Ed Freeman, died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise , ID ........Shame on the American Media for ignoring a REAL hero :-(
Comments (3) :
Joseph (USA) agreed :-
Jan Micheel corrects Steve's text, thus :-
Of course you are right about the hero part, but not about the date. The late Major Freeman passed away in August 2008, several wednesdays ago. (see http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/freeman.asp, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Freeman and references therein, concerning media coverage) Sorry for smartassing :-) I enjoy reading your blog.
Mike Erskine-Kellie wrote :- "Great post. Thank you for sharing that."
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
STOLen momentsThe acronym STOL, as applied to fixed-wing aircraft, stands for Short TakeOff and Landing. It means taking less than 450 meters to clear 50ft trees. For comparison, your regular 747 will need a couple of miles. The ideal STOL plane needs only a short ground roll to get airborne, and is capable of a near-zero ground roll when landing. This makes them ideal for landing on unprepared bush strips such as Alaskan sandbars. My good friend and blogreader Klaus, an Alaskan real-estate agent and bush pilot, for example has a DH2 Beaver on amphibious floats enabling him to 'land' his clients on rivers, lakes etc, not just sandbars, dirt strips and runways.
The first STOL plane I flew was Siggi's MS 880 in which we toured the UK, landing e.g. at Barra, which is a sandbar only there at low tide! I have also had the opportunity to fly a Fieseler_Storch, probably the best STOL plane ever, with zero-wind rolls of only about 50 meters. Most recently I have used a PZL-104 Wilga 35 to tow gliders.
Runway length requirements are a function of stall speed squared, so the planes have large fat wings, often with leading edge slats. For takeoff, large power/weight ratios help the plane accelerate for flight and climb well. The landing run is minimized by strong brakes and low landing speed (big flaps). Head winds are good too ;-)
But you need to be good at spot landings too, nothing is more useless on landing than runway behind you! There are competitions for precise landings. Usually I can land within 5 yards of the threshhold; at Oshkosh in the 1980's I even managed a mere 8 inches in a PA28 once, but this only sufficed for 4th place; man there are some damn good PA18 bush pilots out there!
At the other extreme, I was at Lake Tahoe (surface elevation 6,225 ft) one hot day in an underpowered Cub floatplane, and couldn't get the thing to unstick! Had to use hard right aileron to get one float out of the water before the other would even go on step! And it was still a looooong take-off. Damn density altitude and overweight pax! Made landing a C182 skiplane up on the Franz-Josef glacier in NZ seem really easy!
All this blurb is by way of introducing you to the following video, the 'shortest STOL' competition held for bush pilots in Valdez, Alaska. Touch down as short as possible while not rolling over the line. Then take off as short as possible after the line. Total both results. The guy with the shortest one wins, ladies ;-) Like 39+99=138ft!!!
And out in the bush, it looks like this, landing just about on a tiny little table-top :-)
And if you didn't like today's aviation blog, here's your alternative...
Comments (1) :
Klaus (Alaska) replied :-
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Fourth of JulyRecent US political / adulterous hypocritters....
because in the USA, today is a pubic holiday ;-)
Comments (6) :
Jane (UK) said
True Brit has an apoplectic rant for us :-)
Stu : True Brit, that's a mighty thin line you have between bitterness and satire . . .
Kane (Jamaica) reports : "There's good news too ; Sarah Palin has resigned :-)"
Vaclev, writing from Johannesthal, reminds us that "July 4, 2009 is also the 75th anniversary of the death of Marie Curie." Stu replies: I've visited Johannesthal because I wanted to see Stalin's uranium mines and the concentration camps for his mineworker slaves. The camps were gone though. We got to stay at the Radium Palace hotel though, where the drinking- & bath water have radon in it.
Charles Pergiel (USA) reports : "I just watched the German version of Amerika and used Google to translate the lyrics. The German version seems much tamer, unless there is some idiom or slang meaning that I am not catching." Stu : Subtler, not tamer. No F-words, but better connotations. The critical visuals are the same.
George Wiman (USA) said : "Actually, whatever his faults Bill Clinton wasn't a (political) hypocrite for committing adultery. Because, he didn't make a career out of nagging other people about their sexual morality. Most of those other guys have made a big deal about how everyone's into too much sex, or the wrong kind of sex or whatever, and how God says we should keep it in our pants almost all the time. You'd think for all the time they spend with God, the big guy could give them stock tips, or at least tell them what horse to bet on."
Friday, July 3, 2009
Proof that 2+11-1=12 ;-)Letter by letter :-
Blogreaders' homework : Is this a unique result? Or can you come up with a similar 'proof ' using any other numbers?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
NEETsYet another rant about the UK's underclass! NEET is the sociological abbreviation for No Education, Employment, or Training. And there are now almost a million of them in England alone, young people 16-24 who are not in school/uni, nor do they have a job, nor are they in an apprenticeship. That's 17.5% of the age group, over 1 in 6 already!
The proportion amongst the white population is even higher than among ethnic minorities. 30% leave school (mostly unqualified) before reaching 18 (10% among ethnic minorities). 38% live in households where no-one has a job. Unemployment among the 16- 17 year-old NEETs runs at 29%, way above average! 17% of the 16-18 year-old NEETs are single mothers, who didn't even learn about contraception.
Ignorance breeds :-(
NEETs breed the next generation of NEETs too. Skiving shirkers living off state benefits rather than even trying for a job, some of them. And the hardworking taxpayers like you and I have to finance the NEETs. So it is no wonder that divisive social unrest is on the increase. How can we put a stop to this NEET shirking?
Personally I wouldn't mind seeing an end to welfare benefits for those who won't even bother seriously looking for a job. Then see whose attitudes are changed."
USA hardliner Chip gets brutal...
Doug Alder (Canada) has some detailed
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