Eunoia

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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 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, 7/19, Klaus Schulze, 1981, Trancefer.
Thursday, February 21, 2019

We prefer to pay cash

Here in Germany we all mostly pay cash when we go shopping. Indeed 78% of retail transactions are by cash, 21% by card, and 1% Other (e.g. direct debit). When I first visited the USA - a half century or so ago - some retailers regarded me as not creditworthy because I'd pull out a wad of cash or travellers' cheques for the more expensive stuff. At the time I hadn't known to get myself a credit card to use there. Paying cash is more efficient, cheaper, faster and anonymous.

Where do Germans pay cash? 70% of their transactions are in the grocery store, 8% in a drug store, 5% for clothing (incl. shoes), 3% in gardening & DIY stores, 3% in furniture stores, and the rest by direct debit (e.g. via Amazon).

Focussing on the grocery stores, people who pay by cash take only 22 seconds per average transaction, people paying by card and a PIN code take 29 seconds and people paying by card and their signature take 39 seconds. So card payers hold up the queue by 7 to 17 seconds, and that's just the average. That's an additional wait overhead of 32 and 77% respectively. Older folks pay slower. 18-19 year olds take 27 seconds to pay, 30-59 year olds take 29 seconds and over 60s take 35 seconds. But as the bill goes up the transaction time slow down too, you double check 100€ transactions but not 10€ ones.

Now let's look at what each transaction costs in payment overheads : Cash transactions cost the retailer 24 cents, Girocards 33c, direct debit 34c, card+PIN 97c and card+signature 104c/transaction. These extra 80c (a 430%+ cost addition) of costs are spread across all of us as the retailer seeks to maintain his profit margin. So that's kinda selfish of the card users.

People who pay other than cash sacrifice their data too. Who buys what, when and how often : the transparent customer, subject of big data. This is particularly noticable with Amazon who do deep analyses and generate recommendations as to what you should buy next increasing their turnover. Amazon has also increased the amount of packaging trash we need to get removed, a hidden overhead.

So for reasons of efficiency and cost-minimisation, we prefer to pay cash.

Comments (5)
Klaus (Alaska) sent a US study " Here is a report from 2018 how Americans pay, at the end of this article are more links with statistics." Thanks. Klaus :-)
Karen (D) wrote "Even more inefficient : 18 million tons of food are thrown away every year (in Germany), 4½ million of which were already bought by private households!" Yes, that IS wasteful. Over 150 grams per person per day on average; that's more than some skinny models eat! It's part of the 2.1 kg per person per day trash we generate here :-(
Cop Car wrote " Years ago (1950s-1970s), I carried multiple credit cards - not to avoid up-front payment, but for the convenience of writing one check to cover multiple purchases each month. Cards were, in general, good only for a single brand of gasoline or for shopping at a single store brand such as Sears & Roebuck. Then, generic credit cards became widely available (American Express, Discover, etc), and I began carrying only two cards - one for business, one for personal. Now retired, I carry only a Mastercard. Since most of my shopping is repeat business, I tailor use to the merchant: smaller merchants get cash (if I remembered to stuff my pockets before leaving home) while larger merchants get the card. I am no longer required to sign for purchases using my card ( see here), so it is faster to get through a checkout line using the card rather than cash. Yes, some anonymity is lost, using the card; but, I can still use cash when making risqué purchases (that's a joke!) Since I have my card set up for automatic payment from my checking account, I've not paid interest on any purchases for at least 30 years and have probably paid less than $10 in interest on all the cards I've had since 1960. Too, at least in the USA, there are benefits to using a card, among which are: 1) protest paying for merchandise that is a "lemon" or that was not received, providing leverage against the merchant, and 2) a card is easier to carry than cash. (I have lost a few hundred dollars, at least three times, over the years, from having cash slip out of my pocket, undetected!) As for security: I've been contacted a few times to confirm that I was actually making purchases that didn't fit my "pattern" and I've never had anyone else charge anything to my account." I only have one single-chain card, it's for the automated village petrol pumps. Otherwise I use a generic card for purchases exceeding my cash wallet. Mostly I use cash as stated above. All the numbers I gave are taken from a larger banking-association study.
Petra (A) asks "Now tell us when to change queues at the checkout!" I'd have to research that, Petra.
Ed (USA) maintains "People with coupons slow checkout down too; any numbers on that? And what about modern contactless payment methods?" Neither issue (sic!) was covered in the study I read, which was from 2017.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Really? German cars are...

... the MAIN danger to US national security?

Comments (2)
Brian (UK) quips "Seems like US national security consists of Forts and Brayers ;-)" Oh, nice pun!
David (USA) has a proud line "OTOH, Export vehicles from the US include a missed Opportunity."



Monday, February 18, 2019

Valentine's Day Trip

When Valentine's Day rolled around last week, SWMBO & I - together now for 40 years - decided to go for lunch to Trendelburg castle, where Rapunzel let her hair down.

The castle building itself in the centre is now an upmarket hotel which has an excellent restaurant, the tall tower in the left is where Rapunzel let her hair down (according to the Grimm brothers' fairy tale) and the white topped tower in the right was where we spent our wedding night, so it was a romantic day rehash for us :-)

To attract more tourists, they now have a simulacram of Rapunzel's hair hanging from the main tower (4€ entrance fee to climb up inside rather than try to climb up her hair in the traditional manner). They also have a wooden cut-out with a painting of Rapunzel for that rare(?) selfie photo-op; so we let Clara try that out ;-)

Inside, the hotel hall is quite olde-worlde impressive without too much kitsch.

And even more impressively up-market is the name of the hotel manager ;-)

Our meal was as excellent as expected : tomato soup, fried trout, 3-meats skewer, orange flambee´ and coffees all accompanied by an excellent white wine for about 100€ together :-)

A very pleasant Valentine's Day outing. How was yours?

OT : Blogroll changes:
Removed : Back Reaction
Added : Hackwhackers, Hullabaloo, MurrMurrs, Plowingthroughlife.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump IS the national emergency :-(

[ Five US cartoons I collated ]

Trump : a vindictive bully

And a perennial grifter.

Trumpery : the definition

Trump : the colluder

whose time is running out :-)

(go, Mueller, go get 'im!)


Thursday, February 14, 2019

No-Deal Brexit job effects in Germany :-(

It is looking increasingly likely that there will be a no-deal Brexit come the end of March, just 6 weeks away. Obviously, this will be bad for Britain, but it will also be bad for Britain's trade partners in the EU.

Now economists have produced predictions on how such a deal may effect the German economy. Starting with economists' estimate that British imports will fall by 25% - more on that later - the Leibniz Institute have used the structure of the GB imports to see which industries in Germany would thus have less exports.

The map on the left shows the regions where it is likely that employees will be fired because there is less to produce. Mainly it is the vehicle industry which will be affected. Factories of VW, BMW, Mercedes etc can be identified, but also Siemens and some IT companies. The map shows counties where the numbers will exceed 500 persons fired. Other counties will have less than 500, but the total may reach 100,000.

I've asked myself where this magic number, 25% less imports, came from. It seems to have been plucked from thin air. Sounds like one economist took an (informed?) guess and others - having no better ideas themselves nor any solid research, just chimed in, agreeing :-( It would have been more scientific if many (alleged) experts with no knife to grind had been independently polled and then the median value [and inter-quartile range] published, but this was ostensibly not the case :-(

The breakdown by county is intended to help the unemployment agencies in their planning and for re-training courses needed. We are still short of lorry- and delivery drivers, teachers and care-home personell but not everyone may want to do these jobs. However, DHL has hundreds of new jobs on offer - as customs agents :-)

Germany has been the motor of the EU, so expect a slow-down of the EU economies. Thanks UK :-(

Comments (1)
Kevin (UK) notes "No better here. Nissan will no longer build their X-Trail in Sunderland. Unclear how many of the 7000 workers there will be affected. Now Ford threatens to leave the UK (factories in Dagenham and Bridgend (7000 people)." Ford have never been really profitable in Europe, let alone UK.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Tetration solution

Yesterday's blogpost for Darshanraj Pattanaik set the tetration puzzle : Given xxxxxxx = 2, where the x exponent stack goes all the way off to infinity, now solve this for x ;-)

Solution : Look at the exponent stack above the radix x at the bottom. It also goes all the way off to infinity. But we've been told this is equal to two. So we can replace xxxxxxx with x2. Thus x2=2 and there are two solutions for x, the positive and negative roots of two, x= 1,4142135623730950488016887242097... QED, simple wasn't it :-)

Comments (3)
Petra (A) says "That's enough. Less maths and politics, more humour and road trips please." OK, I'll drop the maths for a while :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) "I would never have seen that in a million years!" Like I said, it's either obvious or impossible ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) replied "Yes, it's obvious now you've shown us. But how did you get there?" Well, I told you that tetrations evaluate right to left and in the puzzle the exponent stack is of infinite size, so you can't evaluate it in a finite time, so there must be another way. A way general to tetrations or given in the puzzle. You were told in the puzzle that xxxxxxx=2, so you just substitute that in the exponent stack above the radix and, hey presto, the solutions just fall out :-)


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A tetration puzzle

Today's blogpost is written especially for Darshanraj Pattanaik, a student from India, who wrote me a nice fan-mail about my Maths pages. The rest of you blogreaders may enjoy it too or, if it is too highbrow, just skip it. The next blogposts will be back to normally abstruse ;-)

Most of you may never have heard about tetration as it is no longer mentioned in school, so let me explain the term.

Addition, a level 1 operation, is just repeated counting which is most obvious when using Roman numerals. The order of the operands doesn't matter, i.e. 3+5=8=5+3.

Multiplication, a level 2 operation, is just repeated addition. 3*5 = 3+3+3+3+3 = 5+5+5. The order of the operands doesn't matter, i.e. 3*5=15=5*3. It is used e.g. to calculate 2D areas every day.

Exponentiation, a level 3 operation, is just repeated multiplication. So 23 = 2*2*2 = 8. But the order of the operands does matter, i.e. 23 = 2*2*2 = 8, but 32=3*3 = 9. So 32-23=1 :-) Used for calculating 3D volumes every day.

Next would be tetration, a level 4 operation, which is just repeated exponentiation. But it is no longer taught as there are few uses for it. Indeed I would be hard put to find an application. I suppose you could calculate the mass of a snowball rolling down a snowy hill of constant slope and picking up snow as it goes, but who need to do that on a daily basis? Fluid engineers could use it for solving Navier-Stokes equations I suppose, but they mostly just use calculus or do numeric integration.

So tetration looks like this e.g. 5333, which is evaluated right to left.
Thus 5333 = 5327 = 57625597484987 = some huge number that the Windows calculator refuses to calculate ;-)

Just for completeness sake, pentation (a level 5 operation) is the next hyperoperation after tetration but before hexation (a level 6 operation). It is defined as iterated (repeated) tetration, just as tetration is iterated exponentiation. It is a binary operation defined with two numbers a and b, where a is tetrated to itself b times.

But back to tetration. And here is the tetration puzzle.

Given an arbitrary but infinite equation, say xxxxxxx = 2, where the x exponent stack goes all the way up to infinity, now solve this for x ;-)

You can either see the solution immediately, or never :-) So give it a try before I explain tomorrow how easy it is :-)

Comments (1)
John wrote "Really subtle how you snuck in Catalan's conjecture there, I almost missed it ;-)" John is referring to my paragraph on exponentiation : Catalan's conjecture is that 32-23=1 is the unique solution to mn-nm=1 for whole numbers m and n. No longer a conjecture, it was proved a few years ago. Thanks for noticing that in my example John, I wondered if anyone would :-)


Friday, February 8, 2019

Rising sea levels = new coastlines?

Tuesday's blogpost also got a somewhat off-topic LONG diatribe from a Dutch blogreader who has unlurked anonymously about how "... the problem is not just pollution but also climate change. When the ice caps melt, I for one will have to retreat to higher ground (e.g. in Germany) and my house then will be worthless (and underwater)..." I'll spare you the diatribe, but the map he/she sent me (source not identified) is interesting :-

This map shows the flooded areas (in red) if the mean sea level were to rise by five meters. Not only would most of the Low Countries be flooded, but other places also. I see that my sister in Havant would be flooded out, Jimmy in Wick (Scotland), Barbara in the Hull area too, and perhaps Liz Hinds who lives in Swansea? (Swansea is a hilly area though, so not all areas there would be swamped).

On the other side of the Atlantic, I assume that parts of the Eastern Seaboard (e.g. New York, Boston, Washington DC) would be affected and further south, the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans etc would be submerged too. Hopefully also Mar-a-Lago??? ;-) Anyone got a link to more details for the USA?

Comments (5)
Pergelator wrote " Hmmm. The largest area in danger of flooding is Holland, which is already underwater, so to speak. 5 meters is a large amount of water, but if the sea level rise is slow enough, they might just build up their existing dikes. " By 5 meters? I'm not sure about that. I have friends who, upon retirement, have moved to Norderney, an offshore island in the North Sea. Not a choice I would have made. Friend Isabel lives on the banks of the river Oder and the map shows that will flood FAR inland :-(
Encrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote " Not all areas rise at the same pace. While the global average may be 0.254cm (0.1in)/year others may be 2.54cm (1 in) per year. There are a number of factors that can cause this. If sea level were to rise on average 5m (16 ft) it would, if the same ratios held true) be some 50m (164 ft) in some places ; putting that into perspective, in some coastal cities where this occurs any building lower than about 14 stories would be underwater. Some explanations of this phenomenon at https://e360.yale.edu/features/flooding-hot-spots-why-seas-are-rising-faster-on-the-u.s.-east-coast . " Thanks, Doug, that's a good link.
Cop Car wrote " This website is interactive, so you may choose any coastal area and sea level rise that you care to map. I have the settings at Florida USA and 10 feet. (I had to zoom out quite a bit to see a large area.)" I looked at Cape Canaveral (and Mar-a-Lago;-). That IS an impressive website; thanks!
Barbara (UK) wrote "The Sun newspaper has a sea-level rise simulator for the UK. See here. "
Liz Hinds wrote " Most of Swansea rises almost immediately. There is very little at sea level fortunately. And unfortunately - as everywhere you go involves climbing a hill at some point." Thanks for the feedback, Liz.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Slow Down?

Germany is famous for not having a (national) speed limit on the autobahn. Which is not 100% true. In some of the states which have or had the Green party in their state government, limits (e.g. 120 or 130 km/h) were introduced. So only on about half of the autobahn can you go full blast. Give us our freedom back, you limp-wristed wimps!

Now a government climate report, discussing how to reduce the CO2 and NOx emissions, proposes to introduce a national 130 km/h speed limit :-(
Currently, if traffic conditions are sparse and you want to go over 300 km/h (that's 187 mph) you may do so. Here's the digital electronic speedo :-)

But in practice I average about 55 km/h in the car (e.g. short shopping trips) and 75-80 km/h on the twisty country roads on my motorbike. On the autobahn the car averages only 100-110 km/h and the bike about 130 km/h because the traffic is usually too dense and even the autobahn is narrow (only 2 or 3 lanes each way, I can hear you Americans laughing).

Only 3% of the traffic goes above the recommended speed of 130 km/h, so any CO2 and NOx emission reductions would be minimal. The trucks which cause most of the NOx emissions are limited to 100 km/h anyway, so a 130 km/h limit wouldn't have any savings for them.

Prior to 1910 there was a national speed limit of 15 km/h; this was then scrapped except for heavy vehicles over 5.5 tons (i.e. the road locomotives and steam-powered tractors that were standard back then). Nevertheless, some states after 1910 issued their own speed limits :-( But in 1934 the new government scrapped all the speed limits, at least up until 1939 when the national limits of 100 km/h outside towns and 60 km/h inside, were introduced. During the war, even these were lowered by 20 km/h (not that there was much private traffic anyway).

After the war, in 1953, all speed limits were scrapped, at least until 1957 when an urban limit of 50 km/h was introduced, which we have until this day. In 1976, as a result of the oil shortage, a national speed limit of 100 km/h for roads outside towns was introduced (autobahns excepted) also in an effort to reduce the death toll. For the autobahn a speed of 130 km/h was recommended, but no top limit. In communist East Germany, with their pathetic Trabbi cardboard cars, the autobahn limit was 100, other roads 80 and urban areas 50. In order that the government not introduce new limits, the German car industry voluntarily capped their vehicles at 250 km/h, Porsche excepted. Bike manufacturers voluntarily limited their engines to 100 bhp; nowadays 200 bhp is usual for liter-bikes :-)

The average new car sold in Germany in 2018 had 154.3 hp, an increase of 1.2% over 2017. So drivers are saying what they think of speed limits ;-)

As you can tell, I'm an opponent of speed limits, although my present bike and car and my oldtimer car all run out of power at around 220-240 km/h. If the government wants to cap NOx emissions, let them have stricter limits on diesel engines' emissions and take a look at shipping and jet planes. Shipping? Yes, most of the air pollution in coastal and river cities such as Hamburg comes from the shipping, but that barely gets a mention.

Let freedom reign! [YMphMV].

Comments (9)
Barbara (UK) asks disapprovingly "Isn't that dangerous?" Autobahns are our safest roads with an accident rate per km only 12% of that of country roads.
Ed (USA) asks "How many speeding tickets do you get?" No hubris but I haven't had a speeding ticket in over 20 years; my licence is clean.
Frank (D) jokes "130km/h is a perfectly good speed limit. Now we just need a suggestion for the out-of-town environments ;-)" He He ;-)
Cop Car wrote " I agree with your contention that there should be stricter limits on diesels and jets; but, it sounds like a case of NIMBY to oppose speed limits for automobiles in the meantime. During the "oil crisis", US speed limits were capped at 92 km/h which (of course) not only reduced emissions but fatalities in accidents. I routinely, voluntarily limit my speed to 92 km/h, these many years since the cap was changed - unless my trip is at least 600 km, in which case I follow the posted speed limit to reduce my time behind the wheel and to spend fewer (if any) nights in motel rooms along the way." Meaning of NIMBY? Big American V8s will emit more and consume more gas than small European engines do. My oldtimer Porsche has a 2.5 liter engine and drinks 11-12 liters/100 km (due to 35 year old technology). SWMBO's modern VW Beetle has a 2 liter engine and drinks 9.2 l/100 km. My current bike has 675cc and drinks 5.2 l/100km (all are averages). Emissions are probably proportional to average gas consumption, I would argue. Crashing at 130 km/h will probably kill you just as often as 160+ km/h; neighbouring countries with 130 km/h limits are no better than the German fatality statistics (France is worse despite lower Autobahn traffic densities).
John (UK) points us to an EU simulation study on reducing speed limits even further.
Claire (IRL) thinks "Electric cars have ZERO emissions, so maybe speed limits should not apply to them?" Electric vehicles have their emissions relocated to the generating plant. If those are e.g. coal or oil-fired, then there are still plenty of emissions, just elsewhere, thus less URBAN pollution?
Petra (A) asks "What is the green/blue/red cross on the top speedo?" Accelerometer readouts. Green shows acceleration, red braking; both about 1g on a road bike. Blue shows transverse accelerations for cornering (cars), on bikes the bank angle is shown when cornering. F1 cars can reach 6g transverse cornering acceleration due to aerodynamic downforces, MotoGP biker Mark Marquez has been measured at 69° bank angle with slicks (my best was about 53° on a fast road bike, the tyres were at their limit).
Cop Car replied " NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard (It's OK for someone else to suffer as long as I don't have to suffer.) As to V8s: One actually can still buy V8 powered vehicles in the USA - mostly pickup trucks - but surprisingly few are sold. Seeing a V8 engine on the road is getting to be more and more rare - not as rare as seeing a Mercedes-Maybach V-12; but rare. My last V8 was a 1972 Buick Electra. Most of my vehicles have been 4-cylinder, such as my current five-year-old, Lincoln MKZ that uses less than 10 liters per 100 km at 92 km/hr." Thanks for the update. I had guessed NIMBI = Not In My Best Interests and couldn't figure out where the Y came from :-)
Ed (USA) jokes "Imagine this with no speed limits or lane discipline!"



Friday, February 1, 2019

Vinyl LPs and/or MCs to MP3

Over on her blog, Cop Car has been telling us about her decluttering, in particular how she disposes of her old vinyl LPs ("WichiDude and Dudette were asked, by email, to consider taking bunches of records home with them to allow WichiDude to sort them at his leisure").

I on the other hand have taken the road less travelled with my 3-400 LPs. I saw an ad that a local discounter (Aldi) had a special deal for a dirt-cheap (€40) record player with a built in A/D converter which would convert your old vinyl into MP3 files and store them on an USB stick.

The player is shown above. I shoved an USB stick I already had into the port on the front and was ready to go. But the box can do more. Next to the USB port is an SD card slot which I could have used for output instead. And around on the left side (not shown) is a MC player for music cassettes if one wanted to digitalise these too. Side (sic!) note : My cassettes have been in various cars 24 hours/day for decades and so have been through tens of thousands of thermal cycles; correspondingly there are almost no notes higher than 5 or 6 kHz left on them, so they are not worth digitalising! Alternatively, I could input a signal via the AUX port and digitalise this too.

There are built-in loudspeakers (2*1.5W RMS) of mediocre quality and a headphone jack (better) so you can hear what is playing. Up to 99 tracks are separated automatically :-) However you will need to label them (ID3 tags) manually on your PC so that's a bunch of effort to look forward to :-(

The usual 3 speeds (33/45/78) are provided for the belt-driven turntable. Conversion A/D can be at 128 or 192 kB/sec.

So the conversions are going to keep me busy for rest of the winter, I expect. BTW, as long as the MP3 files are for my private use, there is no copyright hassle afaik in the EU.

Turns out I even have a rather ancient vinyl LP ostensibly named after the Minotaur's labyrinth : it's called "A maze in Greece" ;-)

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " Good show, Stu! I kept looking for a machine such as yours; but, all the machines I could find had to have a computer in the loop to get to mp3 on a flash drive. Your machine sounds simple enough that I might have actually used it! At one time (12 years ago), I had a machine; but, it only recorded to CDs and was too painful to use. I gave it away. I'm happy for you!" It's still going to take a while; at one LP per day average, about a year!
Schorsch (D) suggests "While you convert your LPs, add a feature 'LP of the week' to your sidebar" Good idea, and a cover photo in the sidebar too; obviously I'm not allowed to put an MP3 sample online for copyright reasons.


Recent Writings
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
Information Overload :-(
Suffrage Centenary :-)
Puncture :-(
Eating in Church :-)
Watt a great idea...
A New Year Resolution
Reading text books :-)
The Bethlehem Myth
Ideal Xmas present...
Spiegel-gate :-(
Santa's little dears
Censored in OZ :-(

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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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