Monday, October 31, 2011
Halloween Habits* ;-)
s you may know, tomorrow is All Hallows, a christian religious holiday here, when the dead are remembered and honoured.
Since the 31st is the evening before All Hallows, it has been named Hallow E'en.
Driven by a pious sense of politically correct equal-opportunity, American christians use today to remember and dishonour The Undead.
To this end people dress up as The Undead, for example in Wall Street bankers' suits and anoint themselves with greenish zombie make-up, an example of a
whored horde of The Undead is shown in the photo below ;-)
In 1785, Scottish poet Robbie Burns wrote a fascinating poem about Halloween, and tells us [in broad Scots=Lallans] of the
playing of pranks, telling of scary stories, and haunted attractions. Not unlike the ESFS conference in Brussels last week ;-)
Nowadays children go begging from house to house, which also is not unlike their future role after the Brussels ESFS conference last week aka the EuroZone Debt Deal :-(
'The Undead' is a collective name for mythological, legendary, and fictional beings that are deceased and yet behave as if alive.
Undead may be incorporeal, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as vampires, zombies and bankers.
Undead are featured in the legends of most cultures and in many works of horror- and fantasy fiction, such as the New Testament ;-)
Enough mocking. If you want to see a realistic horror movie on Halloween (or indeed at any time), may I recommend
Essential Killing :-(
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Statue of Liberty - a present from France to the USA celebrating the success of the European-Rejects-Export policy - was inaugerated
125 years ago yesterday. And yet you still get american tourists in Paris (France) gazing at the filigree structure of the Eiffel tower
who do not know that the Statue of Liberty's internal framework (the armature, not the 3/32 of an inch thin green skin) is also a filigree construction by the same Monsieur Eiffel.
Several Americans living in France were so pleased by the gift of the Statue of Liberty to their country that they built a ¼ scale bronze model
which stands on the downstream end of the Île aux Cygnes, 1.4 km southwest of the Eiffel Tower. So this too - even if less well known - is worth a visit if you are ever in Paris.
BTW, Eiffel also designed the magnificent central railway stations in Santiago de Chile and in Budapest.
Comments (3) :
Xtreme English (USA) wrote "...Loved the info about Mssr. Eiffel's other works! You know so much, Stuart! How did you
manage to cram all of that in??" Mary babe, I'm 67. Until about a decade ago I never forgot anything I'd read or been told.
So for example, while the tour guides were rambling on, me not paying any particular attention, my knowledge-thirsty eidetic(?) mind
would be stuffing it all away in every nook and cranny. Then about a decade ago it started to overflow.
For every new thing I learned, it seems that something else fell out :-(
And now - sadly - my mind is becoming increasingly porous.
Sorry, what was the question? ;-)
Jenny (currently in Teneriffa) asks "Was the statue modelled on any particular person?" Yes, Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor's mother.
Sometimes I joke that the statue shows us Kuzka's mother ;-) That joke is only funny if you understand Russian idioms though :-(
NoPasa, commenting over at Observing Hermann, takes me to task :
" '...And yet you still get american tourists in Paris (France) gazing at the filigree structure of the Eiffel tower who do not know that the Statue of Liberty's
internal framework (the armature, not the 3/32 of an inch thin green skin) is also a filigree construction by the same Monsieur Eiffel.'
Actually Stu, it's broadly known. Where did you get the idea that it wasn't, or do you just want to believe that to be true?"
@NoPasa, I (Stu) do not claim it’s NOT broadly known. But when I visited last time there were about a dozen americans on the tour bus.
Chatting about what the tour guide had said, it turned out only 1 of 5 or 6 couples knew about Eiffel’s armature in Liberty.
So it’s based on personal experience of an admittedly small sample (there’s scientific honesty for you ;-) ).
What I would LIKE to believe be true? That the Euro is stable!
Friday, October 28, 2011
EuroZone Debt Deal :-(
a Spaniard, an Italian and a Greek go out partying on a pub tour and get smashed out of their minds.
Who ends up paying?
The German, of course :-(
Comments (1) :
Schorsch (D) moaned "That's so true, it's not funny. It hurts :-(" That's why it's called the Euroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh :-(
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Charge of the Light Brigade :-)
irst off, let me thank Mostly Cajun for reminding us that yesterday was not only the anniversary of
the Battle of Agincourt (1415) but also the anniversary (1854) of the
Charge of the Light Brigade
as part of the Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War (England vs. Russia, 1854).
Now as it happens, I have an .m3u file of the bugle call signalling that very charge, so you can now listen to it using Winamp or Windows Media Player.
Trumpeter Landfrey was one of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade and on August 2nd of 1890 he made a recording of his famous bugle call
on the most modern medium available, an Edison brown wax cylinder :-) It is this historic recording which you will hear.
Trumpeter Landfrey sounded the charge at Balaklava on the very same bugle which had sounded the charge at Waterloo, which had become a regimental heirloom.
It is that famous bugle which you can hear on this blog, right here.
Comments (2) :
John (USA) went punningly off topic - but with some interesting remarks - and wrote : "Charge of the Light Brigade? Prices for electricity vary widely across the world.
Standardising in US cents per Kilowatt-hour we find that Ukraine is the cheapest at 3.05 USc/kWh and Denmark the most expensive at 42.9 USc/kWh.
For comparison USA averages 11.2 USc/kWh, Canada just 6.2 USc/kWh and UK 18.6 USc/kWh.
France with a large nuclear component charge 19.25 USc/kWh and Germany with a small nuclear component charge 30.66 USc/kWh. How do we explain these massive differences? :-("
Ian (UK) wrote "What a strange recital of Tennyson's poem you chose there!" Yes, indeed.
We were taught it as teenagers and told by our English teacher to recite it very rhythmically,
'so that I can hear the thrumming sound of the horses legs galloping!' :-)
Mournday, October 24, 2011
58 down :-(
MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli died yesterday after a crash during sunday's race.
Simoncelli was probably the most aggressive rider in the MotoGP circus and had already fallen off six times this season afaik.
This time it was a low-sider (i.e. the front wheel slide away under him, I guess due to excessive lean angle) which trapped him under the bike,
tearing off his helmet. Simoncelli himself chose to wear a larger size helmet to accommodate his trademark mass of afro-style fuzzy hair (see photo).
This may have contributed to the loss of the helmet. Then Edwards and Rossi, right behind him, could not avoid him although both tried very hard.
From the video, it looks like Rossi ran over one of his legs and Edwards hit his chest.
Edwards was thrown off too and dislocated his shoulder, but Rossi was uninjured and was able to ride back to his pit.
The race was stopped and indeed cancelled for the day. RIP Marco; you were a hard rider.
These are just my guesses, we shall have to wait for the official report.
Update 26/10/11 : The stretcher-bearers who were carrying Simoncelli to the ambulance stumbled and dropped him from the stretcher!
Question: Was that ultimately the cause of death for an
already seriously injured man? A neutral investigation is needed!
Comments (2) :
Sylvia (D) asks "How fast were they going?" I don't know the circuit so I can't tell you.
From the video alone, I would GUESS about 90+mph/150kph. But don't take my word for it.
Schorsch (D) confirms "Both the 'Bild' newspaper and 'Focus' magazine on tuesday support your theory that the helmet was too big.
'Focus' also reports the corner speed as 170kph (105 mph), a bit higher than your guess." Thanks for the corroboration; I do tend to underestimate speeds :-)
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Happy Creation Day ;-)
A new day dawned, exactly 6015 years ago today. Creationists ( = people who believe they never evolved, I'd second that ) believe the universe was created on October 23rd 4004 BC.
Of course, they didn't use the modern(?) Gregorian calendar back before 1582 AD, so the calculation was done using the Julian Calendar.
Of course, they didn't use the Julian calendar back in 4004 BC either, so we have to make it proleptic ( = count backwards, correcting for the 445-day year which Caesar invented
in 46 BC too). This date was decided upon arbitrarily by Bishop Ussher
(whose house fell down in 1839, as described in Edgar Allen Poe's short story), a hard-drinking Irishman and authority of the One True Church.
He achieved this incredible (sic!) accuracy by counting back through all the "begats" in the Bible and making his own assumptions about the average length of a generation.
Sounds plausible, right? Just as plausible as the rest of the creationist nonsense.
Whatever : have a nice day :-)
Comments (1) :
David (IL) points out that "We Red Sea Pedestrians® counted the "begats" in the Torah and , making our own assumptions about the average length of a generation,
came up with a smaller number (=5772). The Hebrew year 5772 began at sunset on 28 September 2011 and will end on 16 September 2012 on your Gregorian calendar." At sunset, where?
Friday, October 21, 2011
Do you come here often?
you may or may not know, prostitution is legal here in Germany subject to some registration and health restrictions. Now the county police have produced a report on
prostitution in the area of our nearby Paderborn city, I thought I'd summarise it for
vicars vicarious among you. Paderborn is a city merely by virtue(?) of having a
cathedral of the One True Church® but you should think of it as an ultra-conservative market town.
There is almost no visible* roadside** prostitution, so the One True Church® doesn't get 'excited' about the issue.
There is however a 'Sauna-club' with 25-40 whores (aged 18-35) at any time,
a flat-rate bordello, a Sado-Maso studio and a 'Fitness club'. Additionally there are about 25 apartments where some 30 to 50 prostitutes tup their customers.
Customers come up to
forty miles to 'have a sauna', they say.
No separate statistics for gay prostitution were supplied in the report, not even on the backside pages ;-)
The One True Church® has made no opening comments, afaik ;-)
A possible problem is that of human trafficking whereby foreign girls are 'imported' by gangs, their passports and money taken from them and they are forced to work as prostitutes.
This is obviously Not A Good Thing® and in violation of decency and Human Rights.
The town of Herford, 40 miles north, has an organisation "Nadeschda" to help these girls. They speak Russian there too.
Also in Herford there is an organisation called "Theodora" which advises women on how to get out of the profession.
Forty miles away! For girls with no transport? No such office in Paderborn; makes you wonder why?
Rude Question : What's the situation where you live?
Comments (5) :
Pergelator (USA) asks "One True Church? Which one would that be? I kinda thought it would be the Catholic Church,
but German is Luther's home, so I would kind of expect Lutheran's, or maybe Methodists to dominate. As far as our local situation, I have no idea."
Well the Vatican is always claiming to be the OTC due to Apostolic Succession. Also their claim to be the OTC is related to the first of the
Four Marks of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed: "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church". And because they always seem to be emphasising it, the term 'OTC' has become
a term of sarcasm over here, which is how I used it, Charles.
Barbara (UK) grins "I do love your puns! '...the backside pages' indeed ;-)" Thankyou, lass :-)
Jacques (F) asks "What does 'tup' mean? As if I couldn't guess!" Copulation with a ewe (by a ram, btw ;-).
Mary-Ann (USA) gets irate "Goddamn Limey! How can you possibly be in favor of whoring? Jesus will punish you!"
Jesus himself had a favourite whore, Mary Magdalene, that is, when he wasn't hanging around with the boys.
I think prostitution has to be voluntary, no pimps or coercion should be involved. Even so, in the 19th century large numbers of rich American women bought themselves into
marriage with impoverished British aristocracy just so they could get a title. Now who was the whore? The husband or the wife?
BTW, I didn't realise that Jesus was into punishment too, I thought he left that to his sadistic Father (and the OTC).
Johannes (from said city of Paderborn) quipped "Oh come on Stu, the village where you live is so small that your local prostitute is still a virgin!"
True, and the OTC still worships a virgin here ;-)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
..-. .- ... - -- --- .-. ... .
That stands for 'Fast Morse'. The world championships in speed morsing take place just 30 miles up the road in Bielefeld, today through friday.
However, it is not a spectator sport, so I can't post any photos for you. 170 participants from 22 nations will be competing;
eastern european countries are the favourites, where morsing is still on the school curriculum (pre-military training).
The youngest competitor is just 14 (from Moldavia) and the oldest is 66 (from White Russia). 40% are female.
Paddles are used instead of regular morse keys, the thumb side sends dots, the index finger side sends dashes.
The women's record is 280 letters per minute, the men's is 300 letters per minute; one of the rare cases where men communicate faster than women ;-)
FWIW, the record is 75 words per minute, about 3 times my speed :-(
Monday, October 17, 2011
Interviewed about blogging by Katney.
Q: What inspires you to blog?
A: Mostly incongruities, to a lesser extent the desire to teach e.g. rare stuff.
Q: How do you decide how often to post?
A: I did a statistical analysis of number of hits versus posting-frequency;
thrice weekly, weekdays (M-W-F) turned out to be optimal for me.
Q: Why do you choose the kind of things you do to blog about?
A: Has to be something I know quite a bit about (e.g. cryptography), so it doesn't need any researching. Exception:
Q: How do you view your readers and followers?
A: Mostly using Opera ;-) No, seriously, with 2 disappointments, as Efriends.
Q: Have you met any of them?
A: Just a handful, when I was travelling in their vicinity I couch-surfed :-)
Q: What kind of relationships have you established online?
A: With 2 dislikable exceptions, all Efriends.
Q: When do online friends become realtime friends?
A: Through visits.
Q: Do you ever get writer's block or photographer's block?...
A: Yes, almost quarterly, like now. Which is why I'm doing this meme ;-)
Q: ...and how do you get out of it?
A: Prewrite and store 2 or 3 articles on non-current affairs to tide me over until the browned-out muse returns of her own accord (which usually takes about a week).
Q: What kind of memes do you participate in?
A: List of books read, movies seen etc. Sometimes a quiz or an interview.
Q: Why do you do memes?
A: Only when suffering from writers' block nowadays. I started one in 2004, asking people to
take panorama photos of the skylines from their house. It ran for several months, but, sadly, most of the
photos have dropped offline since :-(
Q: What does blog visiting mean to you?
A: It means entertainment by real people, not profit/agenda-driven TV corporations.
I scan my blogroll at least every week, which is why it is kept short.
I update it quarterly based on the interest level of their entries.
Q: How often do you visit favorite blogs and bloggers?
A: Blogs? At least weekly; daily sometimes. Bloggers? Rarely, maybe 3/yr.
Q: How important is that?
A: It structures my remaining time on this mortal coil (I'm 67) ;-)
Q : How long have you been blogging?
A: Ten years, totalling almost 2.2 million hits (= avg. ca. 600 daily) :-)
Comments (2) :
Mary (Canada) complains "Your blog jumps around a lot instead of staying with one theme :-(" Think of it as an attractive callithumpian please :-)
Dave (US) asks "WTF is a callithumpian?" In the US it is a children's fancy dress parade.
In the UK it is spelled 'gallithumpian' which is someone who disturbs the order at a parliamentary election.
So perhaps 'gallimaufry' would have been a better description.
And FWIW, a dictionary is a place to look up words you don't know ;-)
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Good riddance, Liam!
British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has been forced to resign at last. He said he
"mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred." He meant that
he had secretly retained a
buddy informal adviser, Adam Werritty, who was funded by several business groups to whom Fox had 'suggested' the funding.
Pressure reached a climax on Friday when it was revealed that Werrity’s travel expenses were paid by the aforementioned network of sponsors
including a corporate intelligence group and a billionaire who funds a pro-Israel lobby group.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Failed Fails ;-)
Someone posted this snide remark on Failblog recently. Their screenshot shows a package being tracked on Amazon and ostensibly going supersonic.
But what they forgot was that Amazon reports all times as local times (rather than, say, GMT). Now Cedar Rapids and Louisville are in different timezones, an hour apart.
And so the transport took 1¼ hours to go those 408 miles, averaging 326.4 mph = Mach 0.43, so it's a normal airline flight.
I guess whover posted this to Failblog only embarrassed themselves by exposing their ignorance. Whoopsie ;-) But not the only one...
This next one is a Fail posted to Germany's Bild newspaper on 12th October. It shows a gingerbread heart as sold at the Oktoberfest.
The person who sent it in seemed to think it was a hilarious spelling mistake by the baker.
What said submittant did not know is that this is a perfectly valid sentiment on the gingerbread heart!
Brith - based on a Jewish noun - is the Jewish rite of circumcising a male child eight days after his birth.
So your brithday would be the annual celebration of this event :-) Whoopsie! ;-)
FWIW : in Welsh, Brith is a kind of speckled bread, containing nuts and fruit rather like a fruitcake.
Mind you, these homonyms did have me wondering for a while what welsh jews put in their brithday cakes ;-)
I mean, what's the chance of that being a genuine spelling mistake? ;-)
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
October's sky : OMG, it's full of
Lunchtime today the Moon is at its nearest to Earth and this evening we have a full moon. Given clear viewing, the Moon should appear big and bright :-)
The corollary is that we can expect really high spring tides. Here in Germany the autumn storms will exacerbate that, probably causing some flooding along the North Sea coast.
Two weeks later, we will have the new moon - implying the darkest skies - and Jupiter dominates the sky all night.
Even with regular binoculars you will be able to see Jupiter and it's galilean moons with ease.
To get a view like the one shown top left you will need a decent reflector telescope ( 8 inch and up and a computerised tracking mount) and colour filters for astrophotography tho'.
Saturn stays below the horizon (as seen from Germany) at night. Venus will be visible then for about ¼ hour after dusk and at the end of the month Mercury becomes visible (to field glasses or a telescope).
Mars does not rise until after midnight here. BTW, summertime finishes here at 3 a.m. on October 30th (you should set your clocks BACK).
Comments (2) :
Brian (UK) complains "OFF TOPIC: Your site-internal search engine (at the top of the left sidebar and base of the blog) has stopped working since a couple of weeks :-("
Thanks,man. I'd missed that. Side effect of the provider change.
I've corrected that now for this month's blog, but I'll have to go through all 280 pages on this website and correct them all. Done :-)
Chickadee (US) just sent this link.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Droning on about Cyberwarfare
This is a US assassination* drone, the Hellfire-equipped Predator.
As many of you readers will know, the US dislike having to report their own soldiers being killed, with the result that they employ mercenaries and - in the case of airborne forces - increasingly use unmanned drones such as the Predator drone shown above.
The drones were initially used for surveillance only, but are now increasingly being used for
assassinations. These are done using the Hellfire guided weapon which is the black object shown suspended
beneath the belly of the drone. The drone also has several sensors and a high-resolution telescope camera - the turret under the nose of the drone.
It also has a laser for range-finding and for illuminating potential targets such as the empty pickup truck shown in the photo below.
The Hellfire goes for whatever the laser is illuminating. The drone can loiter for 14 hours over a wide area.
The downlink sending commands to the drone is encrypted (sensible choice) but the uplink from the drone to the pilots [who are safely out of harm's way, e.g. in the USA]
is stupidly not encrypted. Design fault, IMHO. This means that insurgents [e.g. the Taliban] can intercept the uplink using $26 off-the-shelf hardware.
The photo above is typical of what they might see.
The data block in white type in the lower right corner shows where the target is located (where the laser is pointing), and gives range and bearing.
The white data block at the upper right shows the position of the aircraft (the drone). There is a whole slew of other pilot-relevant (green) data too.
Now you may have read in the news that several hundred of Gaddafi's
short-range MANPAD SAM-7 missiles** have quietly disappeared and
may well be on the way to Afghanistan where the insurgents, equipped with the realtime position data from the uplink stream as shown above,
will soon have the capability of shooting down any drone which comes within range. The drones fly low and slowly, as you can see from the speed (109 knots) and altitude (9970 feet) bugs in the photo above.
And that's not the only problem the US drones now have.
Back at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada which is where the drone pilots cosily sit, a virus with a keylogger payload has infected the flight control panels used to
control the drones. I don't for one minute imagine that this
ostensibly inerasable virus is an accident; remember STUXNET!
These data are logged BEFORE the command downlink is encrypted. So IF the insurgents have access to the keylogs AND can see what the drone does in response to the commands,
it doesn't take much imagination to see them activating a more active virus payload to take control of the drone!
Imagine said drone then flying back to a US base in Afghanistan, illuminating a target such as the mess-hall or a fighter plane or a hospital unit etc etc, arming and releasing the Hellfire.
The USAF would seem to be losing the cyberwar too :-(
Expect a news coverup in the USA :-(
Your comments via email to as usual please.
Comments (1) :
Ivan (RU) noted that Russia Today had
this cartoon sunday.
OK, Ivan, but the Predator doesn't have that kind of range. Now the Global Hawk ...
Friday, October 7, 2011
Glad and sad news at the same time
Good and bad news at the same time? I find that rather disturbing.
The good news is that in the interests of smarter government (her very words)
Sarah Palin has declared she will NOT run for US president in 2012. Hoping to make a big press splash, she mistimed her announcement, because
the bad news on the same day was that Steve Jobs has shuffled off this mortal coil. If the best they can do now is the iFon 4S (S stands for Sucks), sell your Apple shares now.
I met him twice, with a 20 year interval, seeing him as primarily a visionary marketing man who had never wired a board or coded a routine in his life.
His major contribution was to assemble ideas of others (e.g. mouse & graphical user interface which came from Xerox PARC) into attractive devices with maximally simplified user interfaces.
The iPod, iPhone, iPad changed the way a minority live. Others, like Newton, Lisa, Cube and NeXt, flopped.
On the positive side again, I actually got a phonecall thursday morning from my MdB (member of the German parliament) asking my opinions on the Greek bailout.
Democracy works, they DO listen! I congratulated him on voting against the EFSF expansion, we need more politicians with his backbone, now needless to say he's being
mobbed by the weak yes-men :-(
Comments (3) :
Hank (US) is still worried "Yes, but Palin still has power: we're waiting to see who she endorses." Bachmann, Perry, Overdrive? Kiss of death ;-)
Jon (US) : "The Apple III was a flop too." True, but Pixar was a success.
Schorsch (D) asks "If the Greek Government is supposed to be saving as much money as possible, why are they buying 400 tanks from the Americans?"
More importantly, against whom are they going to use them?
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Good News for Bletchley Park :-)
Bletchley Park, home of World War II UK codebreakers, has been awarded a £4.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF),
a UK charity which redistributes the profits they make from running the national lottery. The Bletchley Park site is/was not just the photogenic converted
manor house shown in this photo but also an assembly of large wooden huts (like many UK defense research establishments ;-).
And these wooden huts have deteriorated over the last 70-odd years. Now they can afford to restore them.
The investment will enable the restoration of key codebreaking huts and create a world-class visitor centre at the Buckinghamshire site.
Just a pity that my friend and UK codebreaker
did not live to hear this good news.
Comments (1) :
Brian (UK) quips "I think that UK defense research establishment architecture is designed by a Sergeant Major, viz., 'Hut,hut,hut,hut!' ;-)" Nice one, Brian!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Killer Melons at loose in the USA :-(
reports from the USA of widespread(sic!) killer melons, hot off the er... press. Just to dash the hopes of all the guys who got distracted by the photo shown above,
I have to report that that the press stories are about real melons, infected with listeriosis.
As of last tuesday evening, 13 people had died and a further 72 were infected. 18 states had reported infections,
New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma had reported deaths. The melons came from a Denver company. For comparison,
there are usually about 800 listeriosis infections per year in the USA, not usually fatal.
Listeriosis is a bacterial infection. If it spreads to the nervous system it can cause meningitis.
Symptoms of meningitis are a stiff neck, confusion, and loss of balance, all of which can also be caused by killer melons ;-)
Listeriosis should not be confused with Listerine. Listerine was invented in the 19th century as a surgical antiseptic.
It was later sold as both a floor cleaner and a cure for sore throats, dandruff and gonorrhea, although what the first three have to do with killer melons is beyond my ken ;-)
Of course, the Tea-party wants to get rid of government "interference" - such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control) - and let the free-market fairy regulate food hygiene
and cleanliness. Yeah, like that would work in such cases as this one reported :-(
But then, the Tea-Party is against fruits too ;-)
Comments (1) :
Brenda (UK) wrote "That was quite funny! But seriously, big breasts are painful when you get older. They DO cause serious back pain and deform the spine.
I had an OP to reduce mine to a D-cup at age 36 and the back pain has gone :-)" Glad for you, Brenda :-)