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About
Stu Savory School report for Stu Savory
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 he also has a neat English Bulldog called 'Kosmo'.


Some of my bikes


My Crypto Pages


My Maths Pages


Friday, February 16, 2018

The Timetravellers' vocabulary dilemma

Imagine you are a timetraveller going back about 400 years (thus speaking Early Modern English). Although you try to blend in, your vocabulary alone may give you away. You would have to avoid using any words invented during the last 400 years : television, laser, tank, holocaust, reentry to name but five. Now imagine you are a timetraveller from four hundred years ago travelling forward to today. There will be lots of words you would not understand, unknown in your original time. See the 5 above.

Also, the pronunciation will be different. See this (10 minute video) example of pronunciation in Shakespeare's time. So you would need to learn that rhotic dialect.

Now some linguists will argue that we know two dozen words from proto-eurasiatic which have survived 15,000 years (I, we, you, spit, worms etc). I accept that, but the timetraveller would need a larger vocabulary. So let's pretend the timetraveller only hailed from 1755 and jumps forward 263 years to today. 1755 was the year that Samuel Johnson's dictionary was first published. Surely the timetraveller could blend in by only using words from Johnson's dictionary?

Here is my counter-example sentence using only words from Johnson's dictionary :
What tonguepad mouthfriend would depucelate my frigorifick shapesmith?
The timetraveller would give himself away immediately if he said this today, because these words are no longer in common use. Frigorific (without the K) is actually in dictionary.com as meaning "causing or producing cold" but none of the other four are. Tonguepad once meant loquacious. A mouthfriend bad-mouths you behind your back. Depucelate meant to "remove someone's virginity". My shapesmith would nowadays be my personal trainer/ess.

Samuel Johnson's book was the first large real dictionary giving definitions of each word, e.g. sock: worn between shoe and foot ;-) Of the approximately 300,000 words known at his time, his book contains about 40,000. Ten years hard work and contrafibularity ;-)

Now dictionary.com, when challenged with contrafibularity, replies "There are no results for: contrafibularity, but we are adding new words daily. Here are some of our most recent additions: metacognition epigenetics tranche digital divide nano declutter paradigm shift confusticate aha-moment workaround eco munge artisanal exoplanet aggregator ultracrepidarian input device multiversa kaizen pixelate"

Now bear all this in mind when I tell you that Shakespeare invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original but in context so listeners would understand what he meant.

Now ask yourselves :
Was whoever wrote "Shakespeare" really a timetraveller from the/his future? ;-)

Comments (3)
Ed (USA) wrote "I had to look up that word 'rhotic', so I guess you won :-(" Floccinaucinihilpilification ;-)
Cop Car wrote " Your time machine is SO passé, Stu. Mine has the ultra-inclusive lexicon of arcane usage ;) " Interestingly, there are regions of the US which have preserved the Brit dialect of the Pilgrim's age (c.f. rhotic) :-)
John (UK) reminds me that "Shakespear's words are so mixed up that he spelled his own name in six different ways (Willm Shakp, William Shakesper [with an umlaut over the e], Willm Shaksper, William Shakspere, Willm Shakspere, William Shakspert).


Monday, February 12, 2018

Calculated Nostalgia

Fellow blogger Cop Car has put up her collection of slide rules, to which I was able to contribute photos of my two (an Aviat 617 and a DDR school slide rule). So I just went down to the study and picked up another couple of pieces of nostalgia to show you.

Firstly, a brass mechanical calculator, a Brunsvige 13RK, which I picked up on EBay cheap and then restored to working order. We used these as students at the beginning of the 1960s. Yes, that's a carrying handle on the right rear, but the calculator weighs several kilos!

My other piece of science nostalgia today is the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 42nd edition, which I bought aged 16 for 5 pounds 5 shillings (almost a week's wages back then). 3278 pages of finest india paper. Published by the Chemical Rubber publishing company of Cleveland Ohio, since 1914, it was a truly useful companion when I was reading Physics at City University, London, UK.

After 58 years it's a bit dogeared and stained in places, so I can tell which pages I referred to a lot e.g. tables of integrals and Laplace transforms etc. It seems I couldn't remember the 68 rules for naming organic compounds either, because those pages are thumbed a lot, as are the radio circuits design formulae.

Nostalgia is exactly what it used to be ;-)

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote "That is a mean looking mechanical calculator. Other than the Curta that my brother gave me some years ago (and which has since been returned to him) and an abacus, I've not owned mechanical calculators. Handbooks? Although I have long since given away my Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (that looked exactly like yours - probably the same edition), I still have 5-10 well-used handbooks. The oldest that I have retained is the 10th Edition of the C.R.C. Standard Mathematical Tables (tables from the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics) that I purchased in October 1955. Fortunately, I was just smart enough to know that I wasn't smart enough to tackle organic chemistry; but, I'm shocked that you can't recall the 68 rules for naming o-c compounds off the top of your head." The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is up to its 98th edition now :-)


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ignorant advertising :-(

I do hate it when adverts get their facts wrong. Not just photoshopping, but also videos. Here's a recent case in point.

Just watch this 20 second Mentos ad and see if you can spot their blatant error. You can ignore the fact that it is spoken in German, the error is visual.

See it? At the 13 second mark there is a rotating Earth. But it's turning the wrong way :-(

So I wrote a sarcastic Email to Mentos, pointing out that even primary school children know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, thus the Earth rotates from west to east. But apparently their advertising people are more ignorant than primary school children because in their advert the Earth is turning the wrong way! It wouldn't have cost them a single Euro more to get it right instead of misleading their viewers :-(

They haven't even bothered to acknowledge receipt of my mail, although I know someone there looked at it, let alone apologising or even correcting the ad.

Don't they employ proofreaders/viewers or quality-assurance people any more?
What does that say about their product? :-(


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Remembering the Wall

This week, the Berlin Wall has now been down as long as it was up; FSM be praised.

It all started on 15th June 1961 when the East German honcho Walter Ulbricht claimed that noone intended to build a wall. Sure enough, East Germany began to build the Berlin Wall barely 2 months later, on 13. August 1961 :-(

The East Germans called it the anti-fascist protection wall and claimed it was designed to keep West Germans OUT, whereas everyone knew it was designed to keep East Germans IN :-(

On their territory was a wall, a strip of mines, an anti-tank barrier and watch-towers with border guards instructed to shoot anyone trying to flee the country.

It is estimated that 138 people were shot trying to flee East Germany.

Finally, on 9. November 1989, the Wall was opened and subsequently torn down. People were free to cross the border.

Now, this week, the Berlin Wall has now been down as long as it was up :-)

And local amateur historian Christian Bormann, 37, found a section of the original Wall, kept it secret and has announced it this week. Well done that man! Let's hope that local politicians preserve this hidden piece of history!

Finally, we should remember that the eccentric scottish singer Ivor Cutler told us back in 1961 that it was an East German wall in his not unrelated "song" Get away from the Wall ;-)


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Starship Two

In november of last year the first known intersteller asteroid (‘Oumuamua) transited through the inner solar system, dipping through the plane of the ecliptic, before departing on its hyperbolic orbit, never to be seen again. ‘Oumuamua (pronounced oh MOO-uh MOO-uh), is Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first."

The picture shows an artist's impression as we have no clear photos. NASA told us it is an 400 meter long elongated pile of rubble, ten times as long as wide. Hopes were dashed that it was the first alien starship to visit us, inter alia because it did not manoever, merely falling sunwards under gravity's sole force. We didn't even send a robot spacecraft to intercept it, alledgedly because it was travelling too fast (1 light-year per 11,000 years) in an orbit too difficult to reach. And nobody looked back along the incoming track to see where it came from nor even if it was alone :-(

So, just an asteroid, we were told. But what if it really was Starship One?

She-commander awoke, suppressing the muscle-pain as the suspended-animation bay thawed her out. Her starship rumbled into life again as her crew unfroze. First she checked the star-clock, 50,000 unrelativistic years had passed since the last star. Two light-weeks ahead, she knew, would be the passive-robotic probe-ship scout making its run through the habitable zone of the star-system still a dot in the front viewport : standard procedure, a passive probe run, erring on the side of caution.

Next "day", the probe-scan message came in. Three planets in the habitable zone; the inside one had a surface temperature far too high, the second, a blue one, had a single large moon worth investigating and a surface temperature enough to keep water liquid (except at the poles); the third was rust-coloured and sandy, a bit on the cool side. The rest were gas giants with many moons as usual, all far too cold. As per standard procedure the probe had not manoevered and had kept radio silence apart from this one short maser burst to send this message back. The passive probe had not been intercepted, so none of the planets in the habitable zone had space-faring locals; a good sign, she thought.

She-commander commenced braking and modified her course to make an approach to the outermost habitable planet. It turned out to be inhabited by robots, seven of them in all, some had run out of power. A dying civilisation, she thought, with no ruins to show who had built the robots.

She-commander repowered the dark matter shielding and reset the starship's course for the large moon of the blue planet. No interrogation signals emaneted from that moon, nor from its blue planet. The surface of the moon was scattered sparsely with artefacts, several hundred of them. She-commander revised her opinion; some were remnants of chemical rockets, presumably they had come from the blue planet. She put her crew on high alert, and sent a maser message back along her approach route to advise those following. Next intercept (almost invisible, thanks to the dark matter shield) would be the irregular mechanical structure they had noticed in a low orbit around the blue planet; presumably an indigenous space-station.

To be continued, when She-commander permits release of classified data.

Comments (1)
John (UK) asks "Is this going to be a piece of Kzin fanfic?" No, but that's a good suggestion :-)


Recent Writings
Timetravellers' vocab.
Calculated Nostalgia
Ignorant advertising :-(
The Berlin Wall
Starship Two
Burns Supper Flop
Folkstone's Funicular
Hurricane Frederika
What Norwegian...
Police Museum
Size Matters?
Poles Apart
(Non-)Xmas Dinner
Mele Kalikimaka
Saving Charlie Brown
Challenging Patchwork
Bitcoin Bubble
Bill Bailey videos
Letter to Elon Musk
The wind cries Mary
Russian Sculptors fail
Dances with wolves
Says our TV !
Coach and Horses
Visa-free travel
Globetrotter Glamping
Burning Boat
Gone Fishing

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Balloon Juice
Cop Car
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Observing Hermann
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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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