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Autumn Encounter

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 19 Sep 2021, 02:08

Tending my tomatoes 

My head brushed a spiderweb 

Little damage done, and the spider ran off safely.

Still I apologised.

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Duxford Air Show

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As the sun rose today, classic WWII era aircraft lined up at Duxford Aerodrome in Cambridgeshire. The planes to the right are Buchons, those at left Spitfires.


Picture credit Mark Williams of Classic Wings

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The Guessing Games

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 18 Sep 2021, 00:27

A friend tells you she has chosen a number from 1 to 100, and challenges you to guess what it is. To help you a little, she says you can ask exactly one question about the number and she will answer it honestly. Armed with the extra information her answer provides, you can then proceed to guess what number she picked.

What question would you ask?

[Adapted from a puzzle by Alex Besos.]


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Aphorism

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 16 Sep 2021, 03:49
All people are unique but some are more unique than others.
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Earth and Venus

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021, 01:10

This remarkable animation is from a lovely blog post by Guy Ottewell. I only offer it as a taster and strongly recommentd visiting https://www.universalworkshop.com/2016/06/07/five-petals-of-venus/ for the full story.

So what's going on? Well, we see a slightly simplified version of the motions of the Sun and Venus as seen from Earth (centre stage). It's simplified by making the objects move at uniform speed, and the orbits circular, but these are not wildy out; for exampleif you plotted the Earth's orbit on paper, it would to the human eye be industinguishable from a circle. The Earth is at the centre, the yellow circle represents the Sun and Venus is the smaller, white, circle.

Watching the animation you will see that it gradually unfolds as a pattern with five-fold symmetry. This reflects the fact that the length of a Venus year to an Earth is close to 5:13 and 13 - 8 = 5.

We are nowadays familiar with idea that both Venus and Earth, and all the other planets, revolve about the Sun, but for at least 2,000 years the world view was that the Earth stood still and everything else moved round it. This is not unreasonable, or even wrong, but it just makes the motion of the planet appear arbitrary and hard to account for, as we see from the motion of Venus in the animation.To describe it we need circles within circles within circles, 'epicycles', and although it utimately works, it gets extemely complicated, and the epicycles are like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Once we make that shift, to placing the Sun at the centre, it all becomes much simpler to describe. There is much still to explain; such as, the orbits are not actually circulr but ellipses, the speeds not the same all the way round the orbit, the reason for the different orbital periods is not understood; and Kepler wondered what make the planets move at all. But the heliocentric viewpoint is much simpler to deal with, and it paves the way for a better understanding of the Solar system, and then of the motion of celestial objects more widely.


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Nominative Determinism

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The notion that some people have, unconsciously, or perhaps by fate or destiny, fallen into professions that align with their name is an old one. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_determinismere for a wealth of information on the topic.

It’s been a meme in New Scientist for over two decades. It’s meant humorously as a rule, but some writers have mused whether there is a real effect. Of course many names are occupational in origin, and in about 1300 a Richard Miller probable was a miller, and his father may have had the same name and occupation, but their descendants are unlikely to be steered by such a distant connection.

I’m inclined to believe that it’s merely a result of our tendency to observe coincidences, which are memorable and leap out from a background  of unremarkable data which we don’t notice.

All the same I was struck to find there genuinely is an eminent barrister named Stephanie Barwise, which is was what sent me thinking about the topic.

For more ND examples check out this great blog post.

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One Liner

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 13 Sep 2021, 17:26

Someone offered me a free trip on a steam train. I was really chuffed.

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Heard Down The Pub

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“Conversation makes people.” 

“Tell me about it.”

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University Challenge

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“Starter for one, name a bird that lives on the wing”.

Tom was forced to think swiftly.

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Dad Joke

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Why can a flea jump higher than the Eiffel Tower?

Because the Eiffel Tower can’t jump!

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Word Of The Day

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Sedevacantism

An opinion holding that the Pope is not in valid succession and hence not a Catholic, undermining a well known retort.

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Improvement

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 9 Sep 2021, 01:11

A switch clicked in my head 

“I’m better”, I said. 

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Christina Rossetti’s Best Poem

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Remember me when I am gone away,
   Gone far away into the silent land;
   When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
   You tell me of our future that you planned:
   Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
   And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
   For if the darkness and corruption leave
   A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
   Than that you should remember and be sad.

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Word Of The Day

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Routerlessness: a feeling of disorientation caused by losing WiFi connectivity.

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I Want To Go Out In A Burst Of Flame

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I want to go out in a burst of flame

Like a firestorm passing by

Or a small but energetic volcano.

I want people sitting at home to say

“What was that”?

Then carry on as normal.

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One Liner

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I tried sleeping on a sledge, but I went downhill overnight.

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Who Owns That Swan?

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Technically almost all unmarked mute swans on open water in Britain belong to the monarch. There’s a terrific blog post here that goes into the fascinating legal history of this prerogative.

However there is an exception; ownership of unmarked swans on the reaches of the Medway around Maidstone was granted to the borough by Elizabeth l (or maybe James I). So the swan I photographed on Wednesday is the responsibility of the Mayor of Maidstone.

Read more about Medway swans here.

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Mikis Theodorakis

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Mikis Theodorakis has just died. He was a big hero of mine, a great composer and a lifelong fighter for social justice.

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River Cruise

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On Wednesday four of us took an excursion on the River Medway (more to come on this). Just before we left Maidenhead I spotted this swan squaring up to its own image in a car door.  I have a crow living in my garden that pecks its own reflection in the window of the back bedroom, the same thing I suppose.

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News From The Garden

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The big planter just outside the kitchen window has been looking gorgeous for weeks. The flowers just keep coming and coming. The one with dark green leaves and new buds, middle bottom, is a New Guinea Impatients that I bought from the local Coop for £2 I think it was. It's a wonderfule flower that takes my breath away.

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Haiku (sort of)

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 2 Sep 2021, 00:56

Life’s a bright

Blue streak.

A kingfisher

On the wing.

Don’t miss it!


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Update

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 31 Aug 2021, 03:08

Having recently passed a million views I wondered what the first blog post I ever made was. Checking back, it announced a new record for calculating the digits of π. Back then in 2010 it stood at 

2 699 999 999 999 digits

By about the same time in 2020 the record had reached

50 000 000 000 000 digits

and I don’t think there has been any advanced on that since.

Printing it out might need about 27 777 777 777 pages of A4 or 55 555 555 reams, which would weigh about 130 million tonnes. So not something to try at home!
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St-Feuillien Blonde

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Just sampling this Belgian Abbey-style beer. The brasserie was founded in my lifetime but the beer stands up well with more venerable monastic brews. I was impressed. 7.5 %.

Here’s the blurb aka tasting notes

St-Feuillien Blonde abbey beer has a surprisingly perfumed bouquet, with a top note provided by the aromatic hop varieties and a delicately bitter taste. Spices provide a fruity touch. Saint-Feuillien Blonde tastes full in the mouth with a robust malty aroma and a dry, hoppy finish. It all makes for an excellent digestive.

A bit flowery perhaps, but the beer really is very nice.


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Vita Brevis

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In Kingsor’s Last Summer a character quotes this old Chinese poem

Life passes like lightning  whose brightness there is hardly time to see 

Although the earth and the sky stand still, 

How swiftly time flies over the face of man. 

Oh, you, who are before a full glass and do not drink! 

Tell me, who are you still waiting for?

The book says it’s by Li Tai Pei and I think this is the same poet as Li Bai 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Bai
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I took a PCR test

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 28 Aug 2021, 20:36

Really overpriced!!! I felt I was paying through the nose.

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