Monday, May 29, 2009

Dendrofilous* tree dwellers ;-)

SWMBO and I interpret this theme a little differently, it wood (sic!) seem ;-)

On the left, my good wife is sampling the carved and polished tree trunks made into chairs at the Landhotel Potsdam on 18/4/2009. The chairs are good-looking, but not comfortable in the long term. On the right, yours truly found Geocache GCVVTV up a tree in the Zingst National Park (Germany) during May 2009. Uncomfortable too ;-)

Our dogs thought we were both barking up the wrong tree ;-)

Fat-turd-day, May 27, 2009

Hommage : Michael Jackson was phat.

Thursday, May 25, 2009

Censorship sneaks into Germany :-(

Paragraph 5 of our constitution states quite plainly "There is no censorship!".

And yet - this very week - the Bundestag passed a law introducing just that :-(

Oh sure, it was under the guise of good intentions. A law to prohibit the viewing of child pornography on the internet. A good idea inasmuch as minors are raped when producing the videos. Which was illegal anyway. And child pornography was illegal anyway. So no change there (and not much enforcement either).

But now, five appointed - not elected - civil servants (of undisclosed beliefs) will assemble a secret list of URLs witch (sic!) they deem to have inappropriate content. German web providers' name servers will be required to check each URL and, if it is on that list, serve you a picture of a Stop Sign instead (see screenshot top left).

Our very conservative family minister(photo top right), mother of seven, religious, thinks this is a good idea. Personally, I think it is a bloody stupid and ineffective idea.

You see, the child porn is still there! So if you know the IP address you can get around her clever barrier. Or you change your browser to use a DNS outside her jurisdiction.

Presumably the minister will ban poverty and homelessness too, using this scheme?

But that's only the half of it. If you hit the stop sign, even by accident, your IP will be logged and you will be investigated as a pedophile, even though you didn't proceed!

Personally, I think it would be more sensible to pursue the purveyors of child porn*, child porn servers and site owners, rather than viewers. A whois shows most of the top twenty child porn servers to be in the USA and/or Europe, making prosecution easy. To my surprise, none of the top pedophile servers were based in the Vatican ;-)
Presumably their stop-sign will look like the one on the left, below?


Why do I think this is a bad idea? Because it is setting up the infrastructure to censor anything ! Shades of Orwell's 1984 :-( Already there have been calls to censor sites of different political opinion (left,right, etc), sites with shoot-em-up aka killer 'games', sites with copyright-protected content (aka DRM), sites with information potentially useful** to terrorists***.... Next, they'll be censoring us atheists for blasphemy, etc.

Going back to the Nazi era, we had Niemöller's protest poem :-

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent; I was not a communist. 

Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest; I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.
And this is why I am speaking up today, protesting against a bad (and ineffective) new law. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. This law is the 1st paving stone :-(

... not being allowed to wear this button ;-)

Comments (4):
Joseph asked "No censorship in Germany? If I recall correctly, from what I heard anything to do with Nazism is completely banned. Is this not true? If I'm mistaken, my apologies. "
Not quite correctly recalled. Right wing / fascist political parties are allowed (we have 2 or 3). Racialism is illegal. Use of Nazi-era symbology such as Swastikas etc is illegal, singing the Horst Wessel song in public, and doing a Hitler salute in public is illegal too.

Charles Pergiel wrote : Right on, dude! What to post on the internet, and what not to post. That is the question........... While there is a pervasive sexual undercurrent in human society, it does not have to affect every aspect of our lives. That is why it is possible to conduct business. Lies and deception. "There is just no bottom to these people", or words to that effect, I read in a murder mystery by Scott Turow. He writes some good stories.

Ira Nee asked "Do journalists reporting from Iran read your blog?"
What a punny name you have,Ira.......

Mike Erskine-Kellie observed "A fascinating post. And I agree. It's a slippery slope and the slipping has begun:-("

Monday, June 22, 2009

Unlikelihoods ; shit happens :-(

One in a million :
Having participated in motorised traffic now for nigh on fifty years and averaged about 23,000 miles per year, I guess I have now totalled a million miles or more. So my first accident with injury last month represents a one in a million lifetime probability.

One in ten million :
Airliners fly with back-up systems - at least two of everything - to ensure a safe flight should the first one fail. This includes pilots. And indeed, just last week, the captain of a flight from Brussels to New York died (a natural death) en-route. The back-up kicked in, and the co-pilot landed the plane uneventfully at its destination. The passengers didn't even know about the high drama in the cockpit, which is as it should be :-)

One in a hundred million :
Schoolboy Gerrit Blank (14) of Essen in Germany was hit on his hand by a pea-sized meteorite travelling at 30,000mph earlier this month. There is only one other known case of a human being surviving a direct hit from a meteor. Chances of being struck by a meteorite are around one in 100 million.

Of course, in the very popular Terry Pratchett Discworld® fantasy novels, things with a probability of one in a million (or less) ALWAYS happen ;-) So, is pTerry right here?

Comments (1):

Charles Pergiel wrote : I jes luv statistiks, dun u? Some people like to say airliners are the safest way to travel, on a per mile basis. I am not sure that is the statistic I am interested in. How about the odds of surviving a airliner flight, versus the odds of surviving a drive in a car? Say your average automobile trip is five miles, and your average airliner trip is 500 miles. How many people actually use a car on a regular basis? How many people fly? How far do they travel using each conveyence each year? I suspect maybe half the people in the world use a car, and maybe half of them fly on airliners at least occasionally (once every ten years). I suspect about half of the passengers on airliners are business travellers who make at least four trips per year (quarterly). I suspect they amount to less than one percent of the population of the planet. I have been driving for 40 years, say 12,000 miles per year, comes out to roughly half a million miles, or about half what you have driven. I have had three semi-serious collisions with another car, enough to require repairs to one or both vehicles. Whiplash was the most serious injury. I have probably had half a dozen minor bumps into the surrounding terrain. And how about them meteorites? "Chances of being struck by a meteorite are around one in 100 million." I have to assume that is in one's lifetime, which makes it pretty small. Still, with those odds, and six billion people on the planet, and an average lifetime of, say, 60, that would be one person every year. Is that right?
Afraid I don't have the numbers, Charles :-(

Friday, June 19, 2009

WHO swine fever pandemic prevention tip

Don't DO that!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yet another profiling meme

While I was in hospital, Xtreme English tagged me to do a meme, but only now can I catch up with her request :-

1. If one song were to describe your life, what song would it be?
Salt of the Earth (Rolling Stones)

2. Which item of clothing do you wear most?
T-shirts. Yes, I know I'm supposed to quip 'condoms' ;-)

3. What's for dinner?
Hannibal Lecter ;-) No, seriously, it will be a Tyrolean Ham.

4. Last thing you bought?
A neat book called "Warped Passages", by Lisa Randall.

5. What are you listening to?
A Steve Vai CD . The Devil's guitarist in Crossroads, remember?

6. If you were a God or a Goddess, who would you be?

7. Favorite holiday spots?
Isle of Man during Race Weeks. Or the Seychelles.

8. Reading right now?
Three actually:- "Einstein's Clocks and Poincare´s Maps" and re-reading Sir Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality", and also Doug Hofstadter's "Gödel,Escher,Bach".

9. Favorite film?
Choose from : Blade Runner, The 27th Day, Dr.Strangelove and Eric Sykes The Plank.

10. Okay, what were you thinking about just then?
Descartes ;-)

11. What kind of books do you prefer; history, fantasy, mystery, romance, political?
Science fiction or fact, or anything by Terry Pratchett or Richard Bach.

12. Funniest thing you saw in your life?
Monty Python film "Life of Brian", and/or of course, "Black Adder".

13. Who's your hero/heroine?
Andrew Wiles.

14. Share some wisdom?
Life is lived forward but understood backwards. That's a Kierkegaard quotation, BTW.

15. If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
Bamboo ('cos I prefer grass ;-) ).

16. Fictitious characters who made a lasting impression on you?
Sam Grimes, Lord Vetinari, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, and Yahweh/Satan of course.

17. 4 words to describe you?
Eunoia, Cumbrous, Sophronized, Phat and innumerate :-)

Mary Ellen wrote :-

Thanks, Stu. That took lots of extra effort with your broken shoulder, 
I know, so you deserve the FIVE words to describe yourself, 
not four.  Your answers are both interesting and often inscrutable...
just like mathematics.  I'd say you are Loki incarnate....
Stu : innumerate, like I wrote (issa joke, babe);-)

Schorsch wrote :-

I had expected 13) Mike Hailwood. Who TF is Andrew Wiles?
Stu : the guy who proved Fermat's Last Theorem.

Bobby J. wrote :-

re 3) A Tyrolean Ham? you mean like Arnie?

Liz Hinds wrote :- "I think the final sequence of the very final episode of Black Adder is one of the most moving things I've ever seen."
Yes, Liz. And the one where the cameraman turns the camera through 180 degrees to get them all in the shot, saying.....wait for it.... "I have a cunning pan" :-).."
Maria wrote :- Explain 15, its too deep for me.
Sure. Despite growing to tree height, bamboo is, botanically speaking, a type of grass. Thus playing on the other association of the word grass, ie. THC (cannabis).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

65th birthday recovery mode; a crash coarse :-(

It was always my life's ambition (NOT!) to spend my 65th birthday in a hospital bed.
So thanks are due to the young man whose driving abilities(?) enabled me to fulfill this dream :-( But REAL thanks are due to fellow motorcyclist and accomplished surgeon Dr. Baumgarten, who spent two hours putting my right shoulder back together.

Back home now, I shall have to wear this spacing-sling for a couple of months until the ligaments grow back onto the bone and I can start to load up the upper arm muscles again. Meanwhile it's daily physiotherapy so the muscles don't atrophy. I'm learning to write and peck-type with my left hand, so blogging will be light for a while.

So: no more archery, tennis or squash. We'll see about the rest come fall (sic!).

Nevertheless, I remain REALLY optimistic. Wanna know why? I just read my OP report, and it turns out that the first name of the doctor assisting Dr. Baumgarten is Igor :-)
pTerry fans will understand . . .

Peter Harris wrote :-

belated wishes for your b'day mine was on the 30th..
will be singing when I'm 64 all year
and hope you shoulder on (sic)

Liz Hinds wrote :-
And belated happy birthday! 
I thought that was a ukulele you were holding/playing.

Löst Jimmy wrote :-
Just read of your shunt wishing you a swift recovery!
And belated 65th birthday greeetings.
I'll hold my beer glass up to your health and birthday this evening,  
and in pleasant memory of your visit here last year.

PS I have just purchased or rather in the process of concluding a deal 
for a Suzuki GSX Katana - should be with me at Victory Mansions by the 
end of the month

Helen B Abby wrote :-
So sorry to read about your injury and wish you the fastest recovery.  
It will be made faster if Cornelia, Frieda and Kosmo could be 
with you too!  Bulldogs have amazing curative powers don't they!  
Belated happy 65th too! 

Doug Alder wrote :-
Yikes man - I hope it was your car and not one of your bikes 
that got whacked by the xxxxx (hey I have my priorities you know ;) ) 
Seriously - I hope you get sell soon and a belated happy 65th 
hatching day - a couple more months and it will be my 60th - 
wtf did all the time go eh?

Mike Erskine-Kellie wrote :-

I want to wish you all the best and a speedy recovery. 
Happy belated birthday and all the best, my friend! 

Mary wrote :-
all that and a birthday, too?  happy demographic crossover!  
and many more. that looks very much like an American hospital room...
and the balloon is in English!  
i'll bet you really live in indianapolis, close to the speedway....

Charles Pergiel wrote :-
Happy Birthday, old man! I am sorry to hear about your accident. 
Hope your recovery goes well. I would wish you a speedy recovery, 
but at our age that just doesn't happen. I just realized that I 
am going to be 60 in a couple of years, and that is pretty much 
the definition of old in my book. 
Guess I'll have to start looking for a new definition.

Wendy wrote :-

What a bummer! Here's hoping your shoulder mends well and soon. 
We need you back online... Very happy 65th, by the way : )
I'm sad to say I'm no longer your China correspondent because I've 
moved to Australia and am living in a small place in WA called 
Williwonglongdong, or something like that. It's very nice and I can 
actually see the Milky Way and there are dolphins in the sea etc. 
So, to be fair, I have to say I'm not sad after all. 
HK was getting all a bit too hectic and polluted.
Stu: Is Williwonglongdong where all the male Strine pornstars come from? ;-)

Crouchender wrote :-

And I thought you were having time off to recharge the mental 
facilities [see your blog of 1st May].Sorry to learn of the situation. 
It would have to be the beer-holding, how are you managing?
I noticed you didn't mention biking in the list of now-redundant 
pastimes........ And as Robin Williams said "You're only given 
a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
Stu: It'll be autumn at the earliest before I can bike again :-(

Dieter, Martin, Hasi, Flo, Jana, Zora all commiserated in German, thanks too to all the biker friends who visited while I was in hospital (home now with the mega-sling).

Quoth Pearl :- "Life is not about waiting for the storms to's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Kees Kennis blogged consolations.

Stolen from Phil, but still appropriate ;-) :-

A man wakes up in hospital after a harrowing operation.
The surgeon is standing beside him in the bed.
He looks up at the surgeon - full of dread.
Our man says timidly
"Well, how did the operation go?".
To which the surgeon replies
"Well, I've got some good news and some bad news".
"What's the good news?"
"We managed to save your testicles"
Our man breathes a big sigh of relief
."What's the bad news?"
"They're under your pillow".

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Involuntarily offline for a fortnight :-(

Mary wrote :-

dear stu....i have never dreamt of death.  
this means i will not be dying, thank you.  
i'll leave that for the rest of you to stew (stu?) about.  

but but you have any idea of the supreme irony 
of what follows your death dreams post?  
"offline for a fortnight". in-effing-deed! 

so i'm guessing.  
a) you went on a hoiiday for two weeks. 
b) you went on a holiday for two weeks, crashed your motorcycle, 
and broke your shoulder.
c) you decided to paint your house and fell off the ladder.
d) you have a mighty death wish.

i hope you're feeling lots better.  
the only time i ever broke anything was in 1994 when i 
broke my wrist while rollerblading.  hurt like hell.  
and the codeine scrambled my brain good...
took months for me to get my marbles back in working order.

Mike Erskine-Kellie wrote :-

I've never had any specific dreams of my death. 
I have had the falling and waking up before I hit the ground ones. 
And, for all I know, my dreams about things like 
"talking whales" (yup) and "snow on the ground in winter" 
may have something to do with death. 
More often than not though I wake myself up laughing. Really. 

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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'.

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