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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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

In Germany's oldest Inn

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like visiting old pubs and inns. Indeed, in june I showed you photos of a visit with Marion to the Klausenhof : a pub since 1487, i.e. even before Columbus sailed for America.

But recently, SWMBO and I topped this, visiting Miltenberg on the Main on our way back from France in September. The photo below shows the picturesque old Miltenberg town toll-gate on the bridge over the Main river.

We visited Miltenberg in order to eat lunch and take a drink in the oldest inn in Germany, Zum Riesen (=Giant), which is a hotel in Miltenberg, one of the oldest inns in the country, dating back to at least 1411, it is one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in the world. The photo on the left below shows what it looks like nowadays. There are no paintings of what it looked like in 1411. It was rebuilt in 1590 in this Renaissance style, again after the war in 1948 and again in 1970 in the same style.

The photo on the right shows the wrought iron inn sign; the pendant hexagon is not a Star of David, it is the sign for a registered pub that was used in the Middle Ages.

Inside there are wine-coloured leather-backed seats and, on the walls, paintings of festivities held in the inn, probably dating back to the 1590 restoration (but I didn't ask).

The old stone ground floor has some of the original (1411) tiny rooms, tucked away beside the staircase. No heating back then and only candle-lit, so rather dark back then !

We had the traditional beans and blood-sausage soup and I tried a small glass (about a half-pint) of their strong beer. Wow! It has about 13% alcohol, as strong as some wines. Regular beer here has about 5% alcohol for comparison :-)

A number of famous guests have stayed at Zum Riesen; including two Holy Roman Emperors, Frederick Barbarossa and Charles IV; the leaders from both sides of the Thirty Years' War ; Napoléon Bonaparte; and even Elvis Presley. We didn't sign the ledger ourselves, since we were not staying overnight; a pleasant experience nevertheless ;-)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

An amusing History of Economics

It is not always works of fiction which are amusing to read, sometimes non-fiction can make for an amusing read also. This is often true of the fifteen or more "education-for-the-layman" books written by Paul Strathern. Besides five novels, he has also written numerous books on science, philosophy, history, literature, medicine and economics. This one is his stab at the history of economics ideas, written around the turn of the millenium. I picked up my used copy for peanuts in a second-hand book store in Stratford-upon-Avon(UK); it had previously been in the Stratford college library and is a bit dog-eared ;-) ISBN 0-241-14134-6.

I must admit that I was at first misled by the title, assuming it was background material on the 1964 Stanley Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in which Peter Sellers played such magnificent multiple roles.

Strathern starts with the arrival of the concept of Zero in Europe (about 1200 AD), the invention of double-entry book-keeping, then the South Sea Bubble (Adam Smith). He goes on to cover ideas from Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and lesser men, as well as the crash of 1929 etc. Finally he wraps up with Game Theory, as outlined by John von Neumann (aka Dr. Strangelove) who also worked on the Manhatten Project. Sadly he doesn't cover others, e.g. John Nash ( A Beautiful Mind) in the detail he deserved (Nash won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994). The book was written 20 years ago, so doesn't cover the Euro-chaos caused by Draghi nor the brave efforts of Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble to contain Draghi and balance the German budget over almost a decade (2009-2018). But it's still an amusing read :-)

The photo below shows John von Neumann (aka Dr. Strangelove) when he was working at Los Alamos, taken afaik, by Richard Feynman.

John von Neumann developed the nuclear MAD strategy - Mutually Assured Destruction - hence the nickname Dr. Strangelove.

Comments (1)
Jenny (Ibiza) is astounded : "Most people don't even read books any more, and you read TEXTbooks for amusement?" I am a proponent of lifelong education :-)

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Day the Wall fell :-)

30 years ago today, the Berlin Wall was opened. Probably due to an incompetent burocracy in East Berlin, with Schabowski reading from notes of a meeting he had not attended himself and announcing on TV the borders to West Germany would be open "effective immediately". The border guards didn't know what had happened to them! Thousands upon thousands of East Germans swept across the border, celebrating by climbing on the much hated Berlin Wall that evening. Here's a photo of the thus occupied Wall.

People on both sides celebrated as you can see in the photo above.

It took a while for Germany officially to become reunited, but this was the start. The Iron Curtain (of which the Berlin Wall was a part) was gradually dismantled. Places like Modlareuth (where the border went through the middle of the village) still remind us what it was like. I've blogged about the Cold War Iron Curtain elsewhere, so I won't repeat myself today.

Suffice it to say we are all celebrating again :-)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Transit of Mercury coming on 11/11/19

You have a (rare) chance to see Mercury transiting across the face of the sun on the upcoming monday, 11/11/19, cloud cover and location permitting.

Rare? Yes. Although Mercury passes by every 4 months, it rarely transits the sun as seen from Earth because the orbit of Mercury is inclined by 7° relative to Earth's orbit, meaning it usually passes above or below the sun.

My little photo at the top shows the transit of Venus (not Mercury) that I photographed in 2004 (not nearly as good as NASA's photo of the Venus transit). But Mercury is much smaller than Venus, blocking out only 1/200 th of the sun's diameter, and so will be much harder to see. Of course, you should NEVER look directly into the sun, even without a telescope. You can go blind doing that. You need to use a strong (dark) filter, I use one transmitting only the Hα spectral line. Eclipse sunglasses are NOT suitable for use with binoculars or a telescope, not dark enough! My alternative is to use the telescope at low power (15*) to project an image of the sun onto a piece of white card and photograph the image there (see above). If you don't have a scope, a pinhole should do the trick in a darkened room.

The transit will begin at 13:35 Central European Time, peak at 16:20 CET and end at 19:04 CET (by which time, sadly, the sun will have set here).
Aside : In 2004 I timed the entry and exit of the 2004 Venus transit (we could see all of that one from Germany) and so got the Earth-Sun distance to within 3% by simple geometry. The size of the orbits of all the other planets (including Pluto back then) was then deduced using Kepler's laws. So how geeky is this, I have personally measured the size of the solar system :-)

So get ready in time and see if you can get a photo of this transit of Mercury. Using the recommended Hα spectral line filter and magnification, this is what you might expect to see :-

Update 11/11/19 sunset : We had low clouds all day, so I didn't get to see the transit from here. Nor was I prepared to drive 150 miles east just to get clear skies :-(

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Harley Oldtimer sidecar outfit now restored

My good friend Frank has spent most of this year restoring an oldtimer Harley FLHTC sidecar found as a dilapidated semi-wreck and, I must admire, he has done a magnificent job. It looks better than new! So here are some photos for you to admire his restoration work too.

The Harley Oldtimer sidecar outfit looks new, but is over 30 years old :-)

Shiny, well polished, impeccable, and to my surprise, no oil leaks!

So now his wife, Ulrike, and their dog, Rosie, get packed in the sidecar and can join him on his outings around the local area :-)

The dog is tucked well in behind the windscreen and so is out of the breeze.

He recently got it evaluated by an authorised vintage-vehicle rating agency. Here is his Certificate of Excellence, optimal level 1 (out of 5, by comparison my Porsche is only level 2). They don't come any better!

Well done, Frank, a magnificent restoration job!

Recent Writings
In Germany's oldest Inn
A History of Economics
The Day the Wall fell
Transit of Mercury
Harley Outfit restored!
Halloween costume 2019
Harry and Meghan ;-)
Fall fungi
Mathematical mega-mug
You shall not pass!
Not so Nobel prizes
Bitch !
Oktoberfest opens
Airpower 2019 videos
I don't understand Time
Time Travel Tales
I saw Uranus :-)
Bad poetry day ;-)
Tool tips
A book for bikers
I'm no botanist
Nostalgic cable car
Building the Bomb
Cold War border museum

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

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This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it?s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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