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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 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

LP of the week
LP of the week, 9/19, Dauner & Mangelsdorff.
Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Early this morning we moved the clocks forward by an hour, March 2021 will be the last time in Yurp, as the EU has voted to scrap summertime in the future. Except the UK of course, who will set their clocks back to before 1st January 1973 (the United Kingdom's membership of the EC came into effect then). But blogging about Brexit is only deemed suitable on April 1st of course ;-)

It's enough of a hassle with all our little old clocks (1 per room) at home, but I've always wondered how they do it with those huge public clocks. So this is excuse enough to show you some photos of the best clocks I've seen on my several motorcycle tours around Yurp.

This is the medieval Hanseatic clock in Danzig, Poland. No hands, the dials rotate, you read off the time at the jester's pointer rod. Take binoculars with you ;-) The other surviving Hanseatic clocks are in Rostock, Stralsund and Stendal; all worth seeing on your way east across Germany.

Below is the medieval astronomical clock in Prague, Czeck Republic. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest astronomical clock still operating. NB: The Salisbury cathedral clock, which is a large iron-framed clock without a dial, supposedly dates from 1386, is said to be the oldest working clock in the world. The iron frame is restored and on display in the cathedral (but I have no photo).

All of you will recognise Big Ben, the clock in Elizabeth Tower, London, UK. Big Ben is actually the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock, but many still use the name for the clock (tower) itself. Currently under repair.

Well worth seeing is the The Zytglogge in Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, with its 15th-century astronomical clock, a major tourist attraction, photo below.

The oldest big public clock I have seen is the octagonal multiple-sundial building below the Parthenon in Athens.

Apropos sundials : The most accurate sundial I've seen is outside the national clock museum in the Black Forest, Germany. The specially shaped central post needs to be flipped over at each equinox.

Sundials aside, the most accurate clock I have ever seen was this Cesium atomic clock which in 1992 was the German national standard time-giver. Seen in a Braunschweig museum.

And the biggest clock in the world? The vertical light sculpture on the 174 meter tower of the Rheinturm (in Düsseldorf, Germany) is the largest digital clock in the world.

Unfortunately, I cannot (yet) show you a photo of my tachyonic antitelephone, but I'm expecting a call on it any day now from my future self explaining to me how to build it, thus inventing the tachyonic antitelephone. Then I could REALLY blog that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" ;-)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

WW2 POW steganography :-)

On tuesday I wrote about WW2 code usage. Now here's another example. This time using steganography, i.e. hiding a message in a picture.

During WW2 there was a POW (prisoner of war) camp for the Allies at Dossel just 30 miles down the road from here, in a suburb of the small town of Warburg. One of the PsOW held there was a Brit, Major Casdagli. He learned to do embroidery while there, producing several samplers, one of which was shown recently in The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper.

The borders of this sampler contain messages in Morse code hidden in plain sight. The interior border morses "God save the King", but the exterior border - just out of their photo - morses "Fuck Hitler" right across the top. His Nazi captors never noticed his steganography and even put the canvas on display in the castle where he was being held and subsequently three other prison camps.

He was also allowed to send some of his embroidery samplers home via the Red Cross and so was able to send steganographic Morse messages home in his samplers.

Now this sampler is returning to Germany for a while and will be on display in the HNF (crypto section?) this summer, courtesy of his son and the V&A museum UK, my friend Norbert (HNF curator ret'd.) tells me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
There was an interesting article in the local paper yesterday which I summarise below the photo.

Language researcher Dr. Klaus Siewert is interested in the use of (spoken) codes. In the past he has researched the codes used by e.g. Horse-dealers, Hamburg's boiler-knockers etc. Now he has found a code-sheet used by WW2 Luftwaffe fighter pilots to disguise (trivially!) what they were saying on the radio.

Thus the Luftwaffe pilot would tell his flight that he had spotted one of their own single-engined planes by calling "Radfahrer(=bicyclist)" over the radio. Seeing enemy fighters, he would call "Indianer(=indians)". Engaging the enemy he would call "Mauerblümchen(=daisy), and "Pauke,Pauke!(=attack-instruction)".

I apologise for the quality of the scan, but the typewritten original as printed in the local paper was not much better. The standard code contained 40 code words as shown above, but this was extended as experience grew, as shown by the handwritten additions. But it couldn't get too big as the pilots had to memorise the code vocabulary. Getting shot down with a copy of a long code sheet in your overalls was to be avoided at all costs. As it was, the British recorded the German squadron's radio traffic and even produced small (single) shellac records of the radio traffic and the use of these codes for circulation to the Allied fighter pilots. Antiquarian Roland Schwarz (from Hamburg) even had one of these old small WW2 records, labelled "Secret", and so could help Siewert in his research. The recording is "live" radio, you can hear the roar of Me109 fighter engines and their machine gun fire.

The code is trivial of course, just words being swapped, no encryption, no frequency-hopping, so it was easy for the Brits to work out what each code-word meant as it appeared on the record.

Just thought this might interest any aviation & history buffs out there :-)

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " Two terms that I read last night in a novel that I am currently reading: Fliegerschokolade and Panzerschokolade." Not in that code table, but they are probably referring to sitting-duck targets.
Cop Car corrected my assumption "Fortunately, I had to do no research on the terms because the author explained what they meant and the history behind them; however, I found similar information on Wikipedia at" And I see their chocolate+coffee is still being made. There are even dealers (Sic!) in a nearby town, so I shall go buy some and then tell you what it's like :-) AFAIK, the US used benzedrine on its troops instead. Benzedrine was supplied to combat troops in World War 2 to keep them awake.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mueller Report, redacted version ;-)

Now that the Mueller Report has been handed over to the US deportment of injustice, we can expect that they in turn will release a heavily redacted version.

But given the general degree of incompetence in the White House, they'll release the redacted version as a Word or PDF version, failing to realise that anyone (except perhaps Fox News) can strip off the blanking in less than a second ;-) This has happened in the past :-)

Either that, or Individual1 will shoot his mouth denying something that was blanked out anyway ;-)

Looking forward to the release of the full version :-)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring has sprung :-)

Gaudeamus igitur, Iuvenes dum sumus. Post jucundam juventutem, Post molestam senectutem, Nos habebit humus. {and yes, I'll be 75 this year ;-)}.

The weather has been great the past few days, we had 20°C today, 100% sunshine and no rain:-) Even in february there were a few days where I got the bike out and went for a spin. Today I did a tour of all the Dambusters' lakes, roads fairly empty as it is a weekday. MOST enjoyable!

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " The moment I read "Gaudeamus igitur", the music started up in my head. Glad you are getting out on your bike, youngster. (I, your elder, salute you!)" Thanks,CC.

Thursday, March 21, 2019 on strike today

Today the German website of Wikipedia is on strike.

They are protesting against the forthcoming rework of the European copyright legislation (voting due on friday). The rewrite is intended to make Google, YouTube, etc pay the copyright holders when they upload texts, books, videos, films, music etc. But the way the new law is currently written, it would affect Wikipedia too, since they often quote excerpts from original documents. This would be an economic disaster for their freeware model, perhaps even killing them off? As a frequent(? weekly) user of I would regret this. Then I'd have to go back to using my (40-yr. old) printed encyclopedia, my Brockhaus :-(

So my general knowledge would revert to the state it had about 40 years ago. Wikipedia keeps our knowhow up to date. And what will schoolchildren use to do their homework?

So, while I agree that Google, YouTube, etc should pay the copyright holders when they upload texts, complete books, videos, films, music etc. I also think an exception should be made for online encyclopedias. The strict way the proposed law is written would also mean the end of memes as we know them, people being unable to show pictures, videos etc without compensating for the originals. The proposed law needs to be reworked!

Comments (2)
Engrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote " You can always use a VPN and then use If this goes through it will be a field day for lawyers.". It was only yesterday, now everything's back to normal. But yes; most people are only upset about §13 (the upload filters) to catch people uploading copies of films etc.
Petra (A) asks "In February 2008, F. A. Brockhaus announced the changeover to an online encyclopedia and the discontinuation of the printed editions. The rights to the Brockhaus trademark were purchased by Arvato services, a subsidiary of the Bertelsmann media group. After more than 200 years, the distribution of the Brockhaus encyclopedia ceased completely in 2014. How much of this was due to Wikipedia?" Could be???

Monday, March 18, 2019

World Recycling Day

Today is World Recycling Day, so according to my italian friend Giorgio the ideal date (sic!) for sex with an ex ;-) This aside, I can comply with the idea and just recycle a blog entry of mine "First Plebiscite" from mid-March 2014 :-

In the beginning (of Roman year DCCIX) it came to pass, XLIV years before the birth of the Redeemer, when Julius Caesar was Emperor in Rome, that a plebiscite was made by him within the city. On the first full moon of the new year the plebeians might appeal such wrongs as they perceive at Caesar's hand, that their suffering might be lessened.

"For this, they shall cause their appeals to be written - inasmuch as they cannot write themselves - by a licensed scribe, upon the finest vellum made from the hide of a sacrificial goat. The vellum shall bear an image of the Emperor, that it be seen against whom the grievance be borne.

Then the plebeians shall parade along the Appian Way, bearing their vellum scrolls held high, that the people might see that their voice is being heard."

And many did rail against the Emperor, their scrolls demanding he be replaced by another, even a farmer of Koi, verily even a call for violence against the Emperor was heard in the land :-(

But a soothsayer did raise his voice and warn the mighty Caesar, saying "Beware the march of hides!" ;-)

Comments (4)
Cop Car wrote " Please note that I recycled three groans from previous puns that you've posted. Incorrigible!" Incorrigible? No, but Latin scholars might deem me Carthaginian ;-)
Jack (UK) wrote "I haven't been following you long enough to have seen the original, but that had me believing you were writing a historical report right up to the very last line :-) Now I shall go back and read all your archives :-)" Have fun! And patience ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) snorted "Tell Giorgio he's a misogynistic macho :-(" He'll read it here, ma'am!
Brian (UK) asks "OK, I'll bite. WHY might Latin scholars deem you Carthaginian?" Latin for Carthaginian is PUNicus. You might have heard of the 3 PUNic Wars between Rome and Carthage? Hence CC's 3 groans. Childish PUN in Latin? No, CC knows I'm a groan man ;-)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

In sympathy with NZ

What a terrible white-supremacist perpetrated massacre in NZ :-(

Thursday, March 14, 2019

PI day stories

Traditionally, the USA celebrates PI day on 3.14 because they write dates with the month before the day. In Europe we (barely) celebrate it on July 27th (=22/7= 3.14286.....) as our approximation to PI, 3.14159....

Over the years I have taught various secondary school kids about PI on that day; here are some of my stories of how I taught them to calculate/measure PI, not just as 355/113.

The 11/12 year-old class are told to bring in a cylindrical can of veggies and a tape measure. Then they measure the circumference of the cans and their diameters, but don't use the first 50 cms of the cloth tape measures as these may have been stretched. Then the class average their results, generally getting a good approximation to PI and learning that the average value evens out the (measurement) errors. Brighter kids brought a frisbee instead of a can, since the size is larger, but needed to measure the diameter on the flat side!

The 13 year old class were asked to draw large circles using compasses with a fine lead pencil and average their results similarly. Then they were to use their compasses to draw a 120° arc of circles. From each end of these arcs, using the same radii, draw 120° arcs of circles. These (should) meet giving a 3-lobed convex curve of constant diameter. The diameter is measured from each apex to the curve on the opposite side and so we could reason that the circumference of the 3-lobed convex curve is PI times that diameter. Averaged measurements confirmed this. Then they constructed a 6-lobed convex curve of constant diameter using 60° segments. Generalising, they learned that PI is the ratio of the circumference of ANY convex curve of constant diameter to its diameter. Did you know that?

I also showed them a rotor from a Mazda Wankel engine that I had brought with me, and we measured that, getting a result slightly less than PI which I explained was because the apex seals cause a flattening at the corners. I spent the last 10 minutes of the lesson showing them the four-stroke cycle of the Wankel engine, as opposed to a single cylinder engine, only slightly off topic :-)

The next class, 14-year olds, were allowed to use (scientific) calculators such as the ones on PCs. Firstly, make sure the calculator is in Radian mode, not Degrees. Now guess that PI=3, as the Bible teaches us (I Kings 7:23 implies that PI = 3). As a first iteration, calculate 3+sin(3) = 3,1411200080598672221007448028081, giving us 4 digits of accuracy. Use this value on the second iteration, getting 3,1415926535721955587348885681409, giving us 11 digits of accuracy already. Use this value on the third iteration, getting 3,1415926535897932384626433832795 which is as accurate as your PC calculator can go; actually 34 digits of accuracy. The next iteration would give you 100 digits of accuracy if you had a multiple precision calculator. BTW, Not until the 15th century did Al-Kashi reach more than 11 (actually 16) digits. A Dutch mathematician, Ludolph van Ceulen (1540-1610) reached 20, then 32, then 35 digits. They are carved on his gravestone in the church in Leyden. Not until 1706 did John Machin calculate PI to 100 digits. Did you know this calculator trick for calculating PI rapidly? Yes, I do know the calculator has a button to show PI, I just wanted to teach the kids this rapidly-converging series.

The next class, 15-year olds, were NOT allowed to use calculators. Instead I gave each group a box of matches (with the heads cut off), all the matches of the same length. They then had to draw parallel lines across a sheet of paper, the lines being the same distance apart as the uniform length of the decapitated matches. Then each pupil dropped his match onto his paper 100 times, recording if his match crossed a line or not. This experiment is known as Buffon's needle. The pupils' results were added up, getting a rational fraction approximation to PI. Not a particularly accurate method, but it DOES work in a statistical manner. And a circle is nowhere to be seen!

Finally, for the 16-year olds class, I went through the math of the relationship between the length of a simple pendulum and the period of its oscillation. We plugged in the numbers and the teams' pupils each built a simple pendulum using some nuts and a thin thread I provided. The pendulum was ideally 994 mm long (almost a metre), giving a period of exactly one second. Theoretically. So the pupils timed their pendulums using a school sports'-class stopwatch and measured their pendulums to the centres of the nuts from the point of suspension. They then used least-squares-methods that they had learned about that year to get a best value from which they could use the algebra on the blackboard to calculate their best value of PI (about 3 to 4 digits of accuracy). Again, not a circle in sight :-)

Wrapping up, remember the following verse of poetry :-

Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling
In mystic force and magic spelling
Celestial sprites elucidate
(all my own tellings can't relate) . . .

Count the number of letters in each word, giving you a mnemonic for the digits of PI.

Happy PI day :-)

Comments (2)
Brian (UK) points us to a scurrilous YouTube video by Brady Haran (=Numberphile) with a mile-long printout of the first million digits of PI :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) reminds us "Also, Albert Einstein's birthday is on March 14." True :-)

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Today, in Paderborn, I saw a TESLA Service Van for the first time.

It was a black van, not the white cars as in the US.

I think it was a diesel :-(

Today is world women's day, and coincidentally, the local catholic church is offering a training course about "silence" :-(

"I am highly educated. I know many words. I have the best words" - D.Trump

"How about floccinaucinihilipilification?" - me

Autocowreck : "I don't eat meat any more, I'm a vagina now" :-(

Brexit News : GB is Europe's largest importer of toilet paper (2½ times European average daily usage). They currently have just a 2 day reserve in their stores. So within a week after Brexit we can expect an outcry from Yurp's biggest asswipes and/or increased sales of their gutter press ;-)

Friday, March 1, 2019

Building German words

A blogreader from the USA sent me this YouTube clip from a Jimmy Fallon show taking aim at our longer German words. Watch it, I'll wait, it's funny ;-) He then asked me how Germans come up with such long words, which he can't find in his dictionary. So today I'm going to do a tutorial on how long German words are built, using a classic example. I'll leave the component words in English so you can better understand what's going on.

In English, you string words together to get more complex ideas too. But you leave the spaces in, making phrases. We remove the spaces in German, so, as an analogy, we have many "atom" words making up the longer "molecule".

We might start with the word "ship", say, then add its motive power, getting "steamship". If we want to know who the owners are, we might get "steamshipcompany", and if it operates a specific route - e.g. along the river Danube - we'd get the "Danubesteamshipcompany". One word.

But it goes further. The guy in charge of the boat is the "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptain", who, if he dies, leaves behind a "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptainswidow". (Note, no apostrophes used in the genitive form in the German language). She survives on the "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptainswidowspension" provided by the "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptainswidowspensionfund". Should said fund some day run out of money and go broke, we would have a "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptainswidowspensionfundbankruptcy".

Government laws require that the fund insure themselves against this event, thus ensuring that the ladies in question still get their pensions. So they have "Danubesteamshipcompanyscaptainswidowspensionfundbankruptcyinsurance".

Urban legend has it that when Word 1.0 came to Germany and encountered words which were longer than the line it was trying to justify both left and right into a single column, it just hung up :-(

Now it turns out according to our tax laws that the "Danube steamshipcompanyscaptainswidowspensionfundbankruptcyinsurance~ premiums" are a valid deductable tax expense and so the "Danubesteam shipcompanyscaptainswidowspensionfundbankruptcyinsurancepremiums taxrebates" are a real thing. One word! One word that you won't find in any dictionary but perfectly intelligible to the average German :-)
Note : it's always the "atom" at the end that is the main focus, all the preceding ones are just qualificating words; think adjective-nouns.

"Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftkapitainswitwepensionsfondbankrott~ versicherungspraemiensteuerrabatt". One perfectly understandable word!

In English, technical and biological names use the German concatenation style and so can get really long too.

BTW, the longest non-technical word in English is probably floccinaucinihilipilification, the action of estimating something to be completely worthless, rather like this blog article, as an example ;-)

Comments (1)
Brian (UK) wrote "I fed the three German words from the Fallon video - in real time - into Google translator. It failed on two, only managing to translate 'Waldeinsamkeit'. At all." Not all compound German words are in its dictionary, as expected. But if you leave off the leading location noun 'Donau' from my long construct, it can translate the long word I built up. That surprised even me :-)

Recent Writings
POW steganography
WW2 fighter pilot code
Mueller Report, redacted
Spring has sprung :-) strike
World Recycling Day
In sympathy with NZ
PI day stories
Building German words
Pope's pedophile plans
We prefer to pay cash
German cars are...
Valentine's Day Trip
Trump IS the emergency
No-Deal Brexit effects
Tetration solution
A tetration puzzle
Rising sea levels
Slow Down?
Vinyl LPs to MP3
50 years on the moon
Amazon's Scout
Watch this space

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Mostly Cajun
Observing Hermann
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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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 ;-)
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