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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

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Fortuitous names ;-)

Back in 1085 & 1086 AD in England, William the Conqueror ordered the Domesday book (a survey of taxpayers in spe) be written. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that in 1085 the king sent his agents to survey every shire in England, to list his holdings and calculate the taxes and dues owed to him.

The book still exists (at The National Archives at Kew, London, UK). The book is also online at the Open Domesday site. While the survey suggests that over ten percent of England's population in 1086 were slaves, it also identified people with just one name (the forename), such as Jack, Tom, David, Matt etc. So for tax purposes these people were assigned surnames, usually their occupation or status, to identify them uniquely. Hence Jack (the) Miller, Tom (the) Baker (Who?), David (the) tenant, Matt (the) Smith, exceptions such as Spike Milligna (the well known Irish typing mistake) prove the rule ;-)

But there are fortuitous names encountered nowadays too. I found a couple in news channels recently. For example a russian reporter in Kabul (Afghanistan), reporting on the Taliban takeover, called which translates as Tschopisedov :-(

And in the UK, the BBC sent a reporter to cover the fuel shortages at filling stations, called Phil McCann :-)

Apropos names, did you know that Volkswagen makes a currywurst and it has been assigned the original VW part number #199 398 500 A. Maybe I'll try ordering one ;-)

Comments (3)
Billions of Versions... wrote " Volkswagen currywurst (never heard of it) has its own Wikipedia article." Indeed; but recently their canteen has stopped serving it :-(
Jenny (Ibiza) complains "I don't understand that russian name thing???" Pronounce out loud each syllable seperately and you'll get Chop-his-head-off :-(
Paul (UK) grins "I like the way you used the names of Dr.Who actors in your sample of medieval names ;-)" Just for fun, not actually in the Domesday book.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Party strongholds

Well, we had our national election in Germany on sunday. As I explained in the previous blogpost our first direct vote is for our local representative in parliament. Each of these persons has a party affiliation of course. So I wanted to see where each party's strongholds were ; see the map below :-

The red areas were won by socialist (SPD) direct candidates. The black areas were won by conservative (CDU) direct candidates who don't compete in Bavaria (which is at the lower right on the map). The grey areas were won by Bavarian conservative (CSU) direct candidates, who are often to the right of their sister party(CDU). The green areas were won by Green party direct candidates, often in (western) city areas. The blue areas were won by far right (AfD) direct candidates, predominantly by former East-German areas, who hate foreigners. Neither the far left, nor the liberals managed to get a single direct candidate elected. Overall the socialist party (SPD) got the most votes, but a 3-way coalition will be needed to form a new majority government. Negotiations are beginning.

And FWIW, besides the usual white heteros and an agglomeration of gays of both genders, for the first time two trans "women?" have been elected. Expect a bust-up (sic!) about separate toilets :-(

Friday, September 24, 2021

Election imminent here

Over the last few weeks we've been hearing about many elections. There was the GOP attempt to vote the californian governor out of office; that failed miserably, I'm glad to say. Then Putin fixed his reelection in Russia with many irregularites and just plain cheating; Trump still has a lot to learn from Putin :-( In Canada, happily, Trudeau got re-elected but by a thinner majority. Now we've got a national election here in Germany on sunday.

I won't be reporting the outcome, that's what the international press is for. But, since every country has a different electoral system, I'd just like to tell you how ours are done :-

Voting is voluntary; expect about 66% voter participation usually. There are 299 same-population-size voting districts. Every voter gets 2 votes. The first vote is for a direct local representative in parliament; first past the post (most votes) wins the seat for that district; like in the UK.

The second vote is for a political party, there are almost 50 parties summing over various voting districts. Not all parties are in all districts. A party has to get 5% of the total national votes to get into parliament, so most of the 50 don't get in. Expect about 6-7 parties to qualify. Each party has a list of potential candidates, selection is done by proportional representation. A further 299 seats are assigned according to these lists. So theoretically there are 598 seats in parliament. But then follows some complex jiggery-pokery of assigning additional seats according to some complex rules I don't really understand, nor approve of! So in the worst case the new parliament can have over 900 seats. So the parliamentary building may need to be extended :-(

Due to the complexities of this proportional representation, there is not usually a single party having a clear majority to form a government. So several parties (2 or 3 usually) have to agree on a common policy and then form a cooperative (sic!) goverment. The 6 leading parties are l2r :-

  • The far left; ex?communists.
  • The socialists (SPD), imho likely to win the lead and thus have Scholz be the next chancellor (aka big boss, replacing Merkel(CDU)). Usa-think Dems.
  • The Green party, focussing on climate change, speed limits, electric transport and similar stuff.
  • The Liberals (FDP), assuming they make the 5% barrier, as kingmaker.
  • The Union of CSU (in Bavaria only) and CDU (elsewhere). Conservatives. USA-think GOP.
  • AFD, the far right.

Voting is sunday, there has been more mail-voting than usual, so don't expect a result before tuesday/wednesday. We'll see. But there are already irregularities : Voting halls in Hamburg flooded in the floods there and expected this weekend. Postman fails to deliver the "invitation to vote" letters. Insufficient vote-counters in some districts. Etc. Etc.

I remember asking a chinese visitor to my R&D lab "Do you have elections in China?" to which he humourously replied "Happiry, evely molning!" ;-) Great command of English & stereotyping ;-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

30 years of MC tours

Thirty years ago I founded a motorcycling touring club at the company we worked for (SNI) by putting invitations on all the motorcycles in the (car)-park. We called ourselves the SNIce Riders. Starting with 14, peaking at about 70 participants, only about 22 are left as the hard core of tourers. So for the 30th anniversary I invited the local riders for a local 4 hour afternoon tour; sadly only five turned up, three politely cancelling at short notice.

Be that as it may, I gave them the challenge : visit ten villages whose names start with the letter A and be back here within 4 hours. It was up to them to find 10 such villages, if everybody found 10, the rider with the shortest mileage wins.

Volker finished his route-planning first and off we went. This was his clockwise route :-

My route differed considerably, being anti-clockwise :-

However, I only scored 8 A villages because 1) otherwise I would have run out of time , and sadly 2) it turns out that the village of Altenböddeken is so small it doesn't have a village-limit signpost, photos of which were required as proof you'd been there for each village :-(

So I lost. The winner (Marion) got a tiny bottle of Prosecco as a prize, but we all had fun :-)

Indeed, so much fun that riders are busy planning routes of the plentiful B-villages, and of the much rarer C-villages, for future tours. Rüdiger discovered there are only two Y-villages (and only one X-town) in the whole of Germany ;-) So we'll see where we go next :-)

Comments (2)
Billions of Versions... wrote " Sounds like it was a fun time. Our computer club is going through the same member woes. It was at 300 at one time. Now we try to get it over 100. And most of them don’t come to the meetings, zoom or otherwise." I can see that for SW, way back then we used to share expensive (testing) HW though.
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "What's with the fixation on village-limit signposts?" There are two, they are 1) Within the villages there is an implicit speed limit of 50 km/h, and 2) At the signposts the responsibility for maintaining the roads changes. In the villages, the local authority is responsible for the infrastructure. Between villages the state (ours is NRW) is responsible for the infrastructure. There are also major roads and the Autobahn where the national government is responsible. So the road surface can/does change at the village/town/city limits; this is important for motorcyclists, especially in the wet, as the grip may change.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

World of Beers

Well, fellow beer enthusiasts (e.g. John (USA)), I chanced upon a 'world of beer' survey taken in the UK, surveying Lager beers. Here are some of their results. First off, major lager beers by their popularity and country of sales. Local and craft beers were inexplicably excluded although I find they often taste better and less watery.

=684 border=1>

They then went on to rank the beers by average price (of a pint) in various countries. Here are the most expensive ones e.g. in Greenland . Currency measured in UK pounds.

Then they then went on to rank the beers by average price (of a pint) in various countries. Here are the cheapest ones, e.g. in Tajkistan (which I thought was Islamic).

Personally, I am not a fan of any of the beers mentioned. But if I skip local craft beers, my favourite beer available internationally is a Guinness Stout, creamy and smooth!

It is available in cans here now again, now the Covid-caused shortage has been overcome. But what a peculiar can. I had expected it to be 33 or 50 centiliters, the norm in the European Union. But it is 44 centiliters, or an imperial pint of stout. So I deduce that Guinness cans the brew for the UK market, where pints are still the units used. So 44 centiliters of beer in the can, but the can is labelled as 47 cl, 3cl more than a pint. That is because there is a small ball holding compressed nitrogen loose in the can. When the can is opened, the nitrogen can get out of its container, making for fresh foam such as you would get in a freshly drawn draught Guinness :-)

So I wasn't just confused that my cans of Guinness were going click-clack on the way back from the supermarket, it was these nitrogen containers moving around in the can.

Still tastes really good though, smooth and creamy just like real draught Guinness.

Comments (3)
Doug (Canada) wrote " Recently I have been having another Guinness beer : Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale (4.3% ABV) which is in a 500ml tall can. It also has the N filled plastic ball which I had to go look up to find out what was rolling around inside the can ??. So almost ½ liter of quite delicious beer. Cost is $3.40 CAD per can taxes included. As winter approached I’ll switch to Guinness stout but it’s a bit more expensive for less volume, so not too often." Kilkenny also produce a RED beer, drank some when we were doing a MC tour of Ireland, I quite liked that too.
Mary (USA) sent this photo of an antivaxxer :-

Doug (Canada) sent this photo of a bar for us senior beer drinkers :-

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Nine Eleven

My jewish friend David, who lives in New York, plans on attending the memorial show today for Nine Eleven and mailed me about the event 20 years ago at great length. So I pointed out that we have THREE events to remember in Germany for our Nine Eleven. Of course we write our dates in the DDMMYYYY format, so Nine Eleven here refers to the ninth of november.

In 1923, on november 9th, the Beer Hall Putsch was a failed coup d'état by Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler and other fascists. Two thousand Nazis marched on the Feldherrnhalle, in the Munich city centre, but were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the deaths of 16 Nazi Party members and four police officers. USA readers think January 6th sedition for a similarity.

In 1938, on november 9th, Hitler's SA terrorist thugs attacked Jewish business and synagogues on the Night of broken glass aka the November Pogrom. Hundreds (600+ ?) were killed then and on subsequent days :-(

On a more pleasant note, in 1989, the ninth of november saw the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was a pivotal event in world history which marked the falling of the Iron Curtain and the start of the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe. The fall of the inner German border took place shortly afterwards. An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit three weeks later and the German reunification took place in October the following year. Reunification Day is now a public holiday here.

Back to the US Nine Eleven attacks. The September 11 2001 attacks, often referred to as Nine Eleven were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist (Saudi) terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States of America on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack in human history. Almost 3000 dead, which caused Dubya to start a war on a country not involved in the attacks and to remove Americans' rights (socalled Patriot Act).

The USA thinks 3000 is a big number; but let's put that into perspective.

Last year saw 38,390 US deaths by firearm, Americans killing Americans mostly. The rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 people rose from 10.3 per 100,000 in 1999 to 12 per 100,000 in 2017, with 109 people dying per day or about 14,542 homicides in total, being 11.9 per 100,000 in 2018. That's about 13 times as many annual firearm deaths as happened on nine eleven. I.E. one Nine Eleven event per month, continuously. But the USA does nothing about that, it seems to be acceptable there, Americans killing Americans at the rate of one Nine Eleven every month.

So it's a bit hypocritical to remember the NineEleven attacks but to do nothing about the gun crime problem raging in the USA ! Time to change the Second Amendment!

The NY fire chief, ignoring the gun problem, proclaimed "We will never forget Nine Eleven!" , I should hope not, after all it is his phone number!

Comments (1)
Doug (Canada) wrote " And here in Canada there was this Operation Yellow Ribbon: A Canadian Town's Response to 9/11 ( if you get the chance to watch the full documentary it’s at a tribute to the town, the people, the travellers, and a great commentary on empathy, cooperation, emergency aid, and kindness." Good documentary, Doug :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

GovernMental Joke

Continuing the corny humour thread, old university friend Derek (Canada) sent this account of the discovery of a new element ;-)

Oxford University researchers have discovered the densest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (symbol=Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called pillocks.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 to 6 years.

It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as a critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (symbol=Ad), an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many pillocks but twice as many morons.

Comments (2)
Cop Car, replying in the same tone, wrote " As a former elected member of our local government, I resemble that remark ;)" That's hilarious, CC :-)
Peter H. (UK) wrote " me likes the new electron lesson short.." Electrons flow well in shorts ;-)

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Afghanistan Joke

Is it too early for jokes about Afghanistan?
Or are you OK with them?

Here's one I made up last week :-

Radio reporter : How many terrorists are there in Afghanistan now?
Me : We can only guess; after all, we can't go there and count them!
Radio reporter : Why not?
Me : Because Afghanistan has a tally ban ;-)

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " As to the Tally Ban: *Groan* Had you a day job, I would advise you not to give it up. (You have the intellectual level of some of us, your less gifted friends, about pegged, though )" Knew you loved puns, as does Mike, he put it in his blog on (his) saturday. Congratulations to HH@85, btw.
Jenny (Ibiza) notes "Your sidebar selfie got hacked (hilariously)!" Okay, I've corrected it with today's selfie, thanks.

Friday, September 3, 2021

TWAICE revisited, a fun afternoon :-)

Back in 1983/4 I was working for Nixdorf Computer AG (NCAG) here in Germany. Then the first AI boom started, so I wrote a simple expert-system shell called ICE (in UCSD Pascal) as a proof-of-concept, to convince the NCAG board of directors to invest in an R&D and SW development program for an AI tool. They agreed, with the provisos that a) it run on Nixdorf's own computers , b) it be on the market within 2 years. NCAG mostly sold HW (16-bit midis at the time), and had only just ventured into one (very successful) SW package, COMET.

We kicked off with 3 people and gradually built up to over 30. The rule-based tool we built (implemented in Prolog) was called TWAICE and was based on the Emycin paradigma, extended with i.a. a natural language interface for German, a database interface, an induction tool for getting rules out of datasets, our own hypertext variant (HTML had not been invented yet), etc.

Developed, but never released features included speech I/O to use landline phones as the user interface, remote graphics using PCs as clients, a HW-coprocessor for running Prolog, etc.

The very first guy I took on the team as an implementor and knowledge engineer was Bernhard Mescheder, seen on the left in a recent photo.

He rolled up last month, interrupting my lazy retirement, with a powerful laptop on which he had got the 1992 version of TWAICE running in a DOS window. Back in the day it ran under paging UNIX and needed a LOT of memory. It still had the alphanumeric interface used back in the 80s because that was the main NCAG market; no graphical Lisp machines for us, just dumb alphanumeric terminals! This what the shell screen looked like :-

The interface for the knowledge engineers used multiple drop-down menus, looking like this below; and yes, there was an english version too, but Bernd didn't have it with him, so I can't show you.

Bernd had brought a knowledge base with him, which advised students on the choice of classes for their university studies. Developed afaik by expert career advisors at the Bavarian board of education. The knowledge base had just a few hundred rules and the user interface looked like this.

So we played around for a couple of nostalgic hours. I was amazed at the speed on modern HW. We tried the natural language interface (NUGGET), using the lexical knowledge add-on. We ran the hypertext based explanation component. Ran out of time before trying the induction tool and DB interfaces. A very pleasurable and nostalgic afternoon :-) Thankyou Bernhard for getting our old AI SW running again. Look at me having nostalgic fun :-)

BTW, the registration rights to the name TWAICE were lost after Siemens took over NCAG. Googling "TWAICE" tells me there is now a company of that name selling Predictive Battery Analytics, not related to our AI SW at all.

What about the add-ons never released? The speech output used a DECtalker chip which had a thick american accent when speaking German, unintelligible to the average German user. The Prolog HW coprocessor had been designed for the 16-bit midicomputer backplanes of NCAG design (giving a performance leap of 20-50 times), would have needed a redesign for the 32 bit Targon HW then being introduced by SNI. We would have also had to redo the hypertext system as (the then new) HTML became the accepted standard. The remote graphics would have been discarded and replaced by a browser interface. SNI did not make those investments :-(

In retrospect, the AI SW we wrote in the 1980s should have been delivered with a free poster :-)

Of course, 20/20 hindsight provides more insights, so Bernard co-wrote a book in 2012 about 30 years of the practicalities of knowledge engineering. My own AI textbooks are listed in the right sidebar, but mostly out of print now.

Comments (2)
Mike commented with an aside "Speaking of out of date, the windows 11 update is coming. Here’s a program to check compatibility. WhyNotWin11
When I got a new computer in 2017, I tried to put some money into it to future proof it as much as possible. Guess what. My i7-6700 processor isn’t on the list. It’s the only thing that isn’t. windows-11-supported-intel-processors
It looks like I’m going to ride out win10 as long as possible."
Tough shit. BTW I still have an XP laptop in the basement, maybe 20 years old. Kinda slow ;-)
Harald (D) was at the international car show (IAA) in Munich this week and sent this photo via Bernhard of the current name-rights owner's stand there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bicycle-Bernd gets a gong :-)

I have an old friend, Bernd, whom I've known about 40 years or more. We both worked in the system-software department for Nixdorf Computer AG, SNI and FSC. Whereas I hopped between hobbies every decade or so, Bernd stuck with cycling his whole life; being a tall guy with long muscular legs, he was genetically predisposed, I suppose :-)

As he got older, he shifted to organising cycling races and moved up the volunteer administrative heirarchy from club level to area level to state level to the national administrative level.

Now the government has acknowledged the amount of effort and dedication he put into this hobby, putting back in more than he got out during his active racing days.

Last week he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz: the National Order of Merit Cross Medal (photo above, left), given to people for their high level of volunteer service to the community.

The photo below, which he sent to me and which is shown with his explicit permission, shows the award ceremony, l2r : the area administrator, Bernd's wife, Bernd, and the Paderborn city mayor.

The photo below, which he also sent to me and which is also shown with his explicit permission, shows the whole family, Bernd, his wife, their two sons and their wives and the grandchildren.

So, it is now confirmed what we always knew, Bernd is a man of great merit! We are proud of you, Bernd! Well done!

I don't know many medallists; my father in law, a neighbour (both long term civil servants), a local trades-unionist, and in the UK, a motorcycle racer and a fellow member of my university physics class (both MBEs), in Russia two cosmonauts, so Bernd is only the eigth. Rare honours, indeed.

Comments (1)
Bernd thanked me, writing (translation from the German by DeepL) " Hi Stu, that's a great blog post about my medal. Thanks for that, look forward to seeing you again!" De nada :-)

Link to the previous month's blog.
Recent Writings
Fortuitous names ;-)
Party strongholds
Election imminent here
30 years of MC Tours
World of Beers
Nine Eleven
GovernMental Joke
Afghanistan Joke
TWAICE revisited
Bicycle-Bernd's gong
Bierbaums Nagel
RIP Charlie Watts
Sky Lights
Going Walkies...
First Nuke
Mobile banking truck
James Bond's mnemonics
Flooding here in Germany
Bastille Day
4-2-3 and 31
Scrap Metal Statue
Oldtimer Quiz
Americans abroad
Mooney Fly-In
G7 meet in Cornwall, UK
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77 today
Attic analogs
My first camera

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
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Billions of Versions...
Cop Car
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