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Diary, November 2002


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Friday, November 1, 2002

Birthday

This evening, my mother phoned me to congratulate me with my birthday. She told me that she had been thinking about me the whole day. I asked her why. She said: "You were the first". It is only now (that I have children myself) that I begin to understand what this means.

A little later, I was phoned by my youngest sister. When she spoke there it sounded a little strange, which prompted me to ask where she was phoning from. She told me that she was in the bathroom, taking a bath. That made her into the first person congratulating me while sitting in bath.

(follow-up)


Saturday, November 2, 2002

Letters to the editor

In the past year, I have discovered that it is relatively easy to get letters to the editor published in certain magezines. However, I am getting the idea that I have become a little too much overconfident. In the past week I received comments on two of my letters, and in both cases I had to conclude I had been wrong in what I had written, and wished that I had written differently. (In both cases certain parts of my letter had been left out, making my letters sound sharper then originally intended. But that is the risk you run.)

The latter letter dealt with the resurrection of Daniel Ekechukwu. In my letter to the editor, I also made some acquisations to some of the christian leaders involved. One good friend, a nice christian girl, pointed out to me that God does not want us to critize christian leaders, He will deal with them, if needed. Instead of being critical we should pray for the christian leaders. Read for example Numbers chapter 12, where we see how God responded when Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. Or think about how David did not dare to kill Saul when he was given (twice) the opportunity to do so.


Monday, November 4, 2002

House repairs

Yesterday evening, we suddenly heard a loud bang upstairs. When we ran upstairs we found Annabel in the bathroom just besides the washbasin, which had dropped down. She he wanted to get her toothpaste and when she slipped and fell on the washbasin it came down. It was still hanging on the wall by the two water pipes. After making sure she was not wounded, we sent her to her bedroom, and looked for a chair to put under the washbasin. I had to close the mains because both water pipes were leaking. (The washbasin had been rather loose for some time, so, I guess, Annabel had just bad luck that she was the one who made it drop.)

This morning, I decided to install a new washbasin. Li-Xia and I went to a shop to buy one. Attaching the new washbasin to the wall (after the old one had been removed) was rather simple. Then I realized we needed new clamp connections for the water pipes. So we had to go back to the shop to get some. Making the pipes fit, turned out to be rather difficult. Finally, I managed to get everything connected, but the connections kept on leaking. Because the leaking was not to bad, we put some buckets under it, and decided to repair it later.

(I never did something about it, because after
some weeks the dripping stopped by itself.)

(follow-up)


Friday, November 8, 2002

Joe's place

Today, I came across Joe's place. Looks like we have a lot in common.


Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Cooperation

Lately, I came across some initiatives where the Internet is used let people work together to achieve something. One such initiatives is the Distributed Proofreaders project, where in a very simple way people can help digitizing books for Project Gutenberg by simply proofreading the text that was produced with OCR from a scanned page of a book. The nice thing is that you can proofread one page at the time.

Another project is Wikipedia, where a Wiki-Wiki is used for writing a freely accessible encyclopedia. Imagine what would happen if highschool and college students from all over the world would receive credits for extending this encyclopedia as part of some project. A final example that I would mention are open directories such as DMOZ.


Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Nasty virus

I almost infected my computer with a nasty virus. Just in time, I decided to have a look at my inbox with a text editor (yes, that is possible with Netscape 3.01) instead of clicking on an inline link. The message with the subject: "Mail Delivery System<MAILER-DAEMON@planet.nl>" looked very genuine, except that it contained an attachment with the name "doc1.eml". This attachment contains indeed something that looks like a mail being send from one of my email accounts. But the body of the message was in HTML and contained a zero-sized IFRAME and some nonsense text. The IFRAME pointed to an enclosed attachment. The MIME header of this attachment read like:
Content-Type: audio/x-midi;
	name=Doc1.bmp.pif
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
According to the contents type, it should be a MIDI song file, but it's name is "Doc1.bmp.pif". Not many people know that the extention ".pif" indicates that the file is an executable. PIF files were used as short-cuts in Windows 3.1, and are still supported for reasons of backwards compatability. If you have the option "hide known extensions" on (which it is by default), then the file name looks like "Doc.bmp". The extention ".bmp" is used for bitmaps. I haven't tried to decode the contents of this attachment. I am conviced that it does not contain an image file nor a MIDI song, because I clearly did not send this message out, nor does the messages look like the standard reply I get from my provider in case of delivery problems.

So far, my computers never have been infected with some virus. And I am also not using any virus scanner. But I am using Netscape 3.01 as my mail reader, because it never automatically executes any inline links, and it allows me to inspect the bare contents of messages that I receive. Of course, with my background, I am not the ordinary computer user. If you are not like me, I would strongly advise you to install a virus scanner, and update it regularly.

(follow-up)


Thursday, November 14, 2002

Injection

This morning, I was injected in my left upper arm with: Yes, I decided to get the flue vacination, after my company announced that they would pay the costs for it.

Going to Mars

I made use of the opportunity to send our names to Mars:


Friday, November 15, 2002

Crisis = Danger + Opportunity?

Today, I came across article that was Chinese characters for crisis. When I showed the image of the characters given with the article to Li-Xia, her first reaction was that caligraphy is rather bad. I think, I have to agree on this. At first I thought it were three characters, but in reality it are only two characters.

At the bottom of the article, there is some statement suggesting that the Chinese have known that a crisis can be a dangerous time but also a time to look for new opportunities. They base this on the fact that the Chinese characters used for crisis are the characters for "Danger" and "Opportunity". But is this true?

The general notion is that in the Chinese language each word is represented by a single character. But this is not true. There are about 3000 commonly used characters. That would mean that the Chinese language would only have about this amouth of words. But they have many more. Many "words" consist of two or more characters used in combination. Some characters even cannot occur in isolation. They have no meaning when written separately. On top of this, the "words" using a certain character can have very different meanings. It would thus better to say that characters are more like sylables than words.

Now if we come back to the characters used for the Chinese word for crisis. The second character is a character that does not have a meaning when used in isolation. It can only occur in combination with other characters. If we try to ascribe a meaning to it based on it usage, then the first meaning is machine or engine. With another character it makes up the word for aeroplane. The third meaning is "crucial point; pivot; key link". The fourth meaning is "chance; occasion; opportunity". As you can see, this is a rather neutral meaning. Not definitely positive in all cases. Yet other meanings (depending the context of usages) are "organic" and "flexible; quick-witted". From this it is clear that the second character cannot be simply translated into the English word "opportunity", at least not with the positive meaning of "new opportunities".

The first character indeed means danger, peril. But in combination with the second character, the element of something that happens suddenly (like an opportunity or a chance) is added, to form the meaning of crisis. A literal translation would thus be "a sudden danger". It is for example used to express a marriages crisis. It is also often used in combination with two other characters to express the meaning of "an economical crisis". When looking up the word "crisis" in an English-Chinese dictionary, many other combinations of characters are given for the word crisis. Only a few combinations use the first character given here. For the concept of a medical crisis the first character is combined with a different character than the one given in the article.

I have to conclude that the idea that "crisis = danger + opportunity" is based on a wrong interpretation of the real Chinese meaning, and that it is based on the naive conception that each character in the Chinese language represents a single word. It would almost be the same as telling some non-English speaker that the word "opportunity" explains the ancient wisdom that wine brings people closer together (in an abstract sense), because the word can be read as "op port unity". Abstract like in "op art".

The Fibonacci Rabbit sequence


Sunday, November 17, 2002

Propaganda - Thijs Voskuilen

This evening, I accidently saw an edition of the program Propaganda on television. They had an item about Thijs Voskuilen. About two years ago, he decided to quit his study of history to become a full-time writer. He wanted to write fiction and nothing else. He recently graduated on a movie-script which was introduced with a (fictivious) talkshow lead by David Letterman. And with a theory (according to the program) that will shake Christianity on its foundations by stating that Paul was not a loyal follower of Jesus but a Roman spy. He got a straight A for his thesis, which has now been published under the title: "Alias Paulus - De Grondlegger van het Christendom als geheim agent van Rome".

During the program, several statements were made, that made me doubt the truth of the whole thesis. For example, it was remarked that Paul was the only disciple of Jesus having written parts of the gospel. That is clearly not true. Matthew and John both wrote a gospel. Peter wrote two letters, and there is evidence that (parts of) the gospel of Mark were directly based on his words. James, the brother of Jesus, also wrote a letter. Less than half of the new testament is written by Paul.

Also Mr. Voskuilen made a reference to the Gospel of Thomas during the program. He remarked that this gospel may actually be older than the other gospels. However, this gospel is not generally accepted as authentic. He said that it contained a verse showing that Jesus was against the Roman occupation, because He said that He did not come to bring peace but war. But in Matthew 10:34 we read that Jesus said "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". So, there was no need to refer to the Gospel of Thomas at all. It is generally accepted that Jesus is talking here about the division that the gospel will bring amongh people (even close relatives, if you read the next verse), and not at all is suggesting that He wants His disciples to fight against the Roman occupation. In Matthew 22:15-22, we read that Jesus says to the Pharisees that they should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's. This was a reply to Pharisees asking Him whether they should pay tax to the Roman rulers or not. This was a big issue, because the coins contain a image of Caesar, who saw himself as a God. For the Jews of that time, this was going against the ten commandments, which forbids the worship of images of humans.

Finally, Mr. Voskuilen said that within history the best theory is the one that explains most of the facts that are the hardest to explain. He went on to state that his theory is the only one that explains why Paul from his Roman prison still preaches to the Christians that they should obey the (Roman) rulers set over them. See for example Romans 13:1-7. But there are other ways to explain it. Note that Romans 13:7 is almost a quote of Jesus words as written down in Matthew 22:21. The idea that there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God, is already found in the Old Testament. See Jeremiah 27:5-7, Daniel 2:21,4:17,32, Job 12:18, and Psalm 75:6,7 to mention a few. Note that both Jeremiah and Daniel lived during a time where the Jews were supressed and exiled by a foreign authority. According to the prophecies of Daniel, that authority stays in the same line as that of Rome. Also it is interesting to read Jeremiah 27:9-11 where God is saying that if the Jews would submit to Nebuchadnezzar they would be allowed to stay in their country, but if not that they would be exiled. To me, it is rather clear, that the teachings of Paul are in accordance with the Jewish teachings found in the Old Testament. (Stangely, Mr. Voskuilen said he believed in God and did not want to touch upon the contents of the Old Testament.) Although Paul was a Roman citizen (maybe because his father was Roman), he in the first place was a Jew (because his mother was a Jew), even a Pharisee being educated under Gamaliel (see Acts 22:3). He prosecutted the Christians, not as a Roman official, but as a Pharisee, under the authority of the Jewish high priest (see Acts 9:1,2), because he as a firm believer, considered the teachings of the Christians a heresy.

I have to conclude that there is no basis for the thesis that Paul was a Roman spy working under the authority of the Romans. I do not think there is any historical evidence for the idea that Paul wrote the whole New Testament (and also the gospel of Thomas) all by himself, and that there would not be any other writing left that would contradict this.

The most shocking aspect of the whole thing is not that someone wrote a book about the idea that the Paul was a Roman secret agent, but that a professor of history rewarded it with a degree.


Monday, November 18, 2002

Thijs Voskuilen (Cont'd)

I did a Google search to find out something more about the above issue. I did come across some interesting pages. Apparently, he already submitted a version of the "talkshow" to a writers contest about a year ago, and he won the fifth prize with it.

Also their appeared an article written by René Zwaap in "De Groene Amsterdammer" on April 6, 2002, with the title "Het bedrog van Paulus". Jan Bakel wrote the Dutch article "Het bedrog van Voskuilen" as a response to it.

Also the Dutch site Skepsis has an article under the title "Bijbelse blindgangers" that refers to Voskuilen's book. It contains a response by Ilja Nieuwland (published in Skepter, September 2002) who works at "het Historisch Instituut" in Groningen. He writes that Voskuilen did not get his degree from the history department, but in the philisophy of history discipline. Obviously the philisophy of history is using different requirements for scientifical works than the history discipline itself. He also remarks, that Voskuilen does not make this difference explicit.

E.J. de Meester makes mention of an essay with the name A perfect spy on one of his pages. He also writes that the theory was not new, but already suggested by Robert Eisenmann years ago.


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Thijs Voskuilen (Cont'd)

This evening, I read through a large part of the "talkshow". I feel it is rather long and at some place far to serious for a talkshow. Especially the end where both defenders admit that they really believe the opposite point of view they were defending all the time, makes it very incredible. Hunting the supporter shows that he wears a golden crucifix, and says: "You see? I'm a real Christian. I couldn't be wearing this if I were not a real Christian. You cannot possibly fake being a Christian. This necklace proves it. If you gave me a priest's gown, that would prove it even more, that I'm a real Christian". (As if it was that easy) And then Mr. Kotzwinkle, the "opponent", says: "And I was kidding this entire show as well when I fought Mr. Hunting's theory. I really think it is most likely that Saul fucked mankind like it's never been fucked before."

One statement made by Mr. Kotzwinkle earlier, caught my eyes. Voskuilen makes his say: "So, in a narrow sense, the gospels of Matthew, John, Thomas, and Philip, the last two of which are part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, are religious fakes". I never knew that the Gospel of Thomas was part of the dead sea scrolls. I will have to verify this. (To be continued.)


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Fire

When approaching the Campus of the University of Twente this morning, I noticed a big black cloud. When comming close to my office, which is on the Campus, it became evident that it was the TW/RC building was on fire. When coming closer, and talking to by standers, it appeared that the central computer center was on fire and that the whole campus network was down. I did take some pictures: flames from the building and smoke above the computer science building.

I know the TW/RC building quite well, because in the past the Computer Science department was located in it. In 1986 I even had my office in the A wing on the third floor, if I am not mistaken. (Yes, my office was in room A-317)

Around ten o'clock we hear on the news that the fire was reported at 8:01. Around 10:33 we heard that the A and D wings were considered lost, but that the computer center itself is not affected, and that the network is only down because the power has been switched off.

Around eleven, I went outside to look (and eat an apple). The smoke was not as black as before. To me it looks like the A wing is totally lost, and that also some part of the B wing is affected. I cannot speak about the RC wing. The wings C and D seem to be completely unaffected.

When sitting in the canteen during lunch time, suddenly black smoke appeared again. We decided to have a look again, but when we arrived most of it was gone again. The last rumours are that the computer center was affected, and that the backups were stored in a cabinet that can only withstand fire for one and half hour. It is not clear whether they can be restored. Which would mean that most of the administration of the university was lost. It looks like they are already working on restoring the Internet connection.

The Campus network of the University of Twente is rather well known for its large amouth of illegale materials. I have heard that the traffic on it comes close to the total amouth of traffic on the public Internet. Currently, the students have a 15 Gbyte limit per week for their private use. With 6000 students that make a total limit of 90 Tbyte per week. And that does not include the traffic generated by all others.

(follow-up)

Being cut-off

Not being able to know what the developments are, is rather frustrating, especially if you think that people on the outside, who do have Internet, might know more.

Slashdot

This evening, I noticed that there was a slashdot item about the fire, as I had expected some way. It contained some interesting remarks. Such as this part of the SurfNET syslog:
lo0.ar5.enschede1.surf.net 3613: Nov 20 07:20:50.927 UTC: %ENV_MON-2-TEMP:
    Hotpoint temp sensor(slot 18) temperature has reached WARNING level at 61(C)
lo0.cr2.amsterdam2.surf.net 1146: Nov 20 07:20:56.458 UTC: %CLNS-5-ADJCHANGE:
    ISIS: Adjacency to ar5.enschede1 (POS2/0) Down, interface deleted(non-iih)
And some description, with some interesting information about how the fire started: I must have had some lectures in that room some twenty years ago. Many online news sites/papers had some item on this. There are also many photo posted. But none with some visible flames on it (as one of mine does)

(Article on The Register,
follow-up)

Palindrome date

Yes, we got one again, if you write two digits for the year, and use the Dutch (or Chinese) way of writing down dates, you get 20-11-02 (or 02.11.20)


Thursday, November 21, 2002

Fire

This morning, I looked around the TW/RC building, and took some pictures. The room where I had my office around 1986 has definitely been destroyed by fire. The building is already surrounded by a fence. Although the B and C wing are not affected, people are not yet allowed to go on their own. Around half past ten, I saw the last trucks of the fire brigade leave the Campus, with the materials they had left here during the night.


Monday, November 25, 2002

Boudewijn Buch

Today, I heard that Boudewijn Buch died last Saturday around noon at the age of 53. I really liked to watch his TV programs, which almost seem to be about him going to some far place and talking about some obscure fact that you had never heard about before. He was also a crazy book collector changing complete house into a library. He was also a writer. He wrote some novels and thousands of columns for various magazines. He also kept a diary. Tonight I heard he also knew a lot of computers. In a certain sense he was a read Nerd, a literary kind of Nerd. Tonight I watched several progams about him. I feel I have a lot of common with him, and I think I do understand some of his feelings. (In a sense I cannot really believe he died.) I wonder what will happen with his house and his book collection, which must be worth millions of millions.


Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Subtypedef

The programming languages C and C++ allows you to define types using the typedef command. But actually, you do not define types, you define aliasses. Two typedefs of the same type with different names are equal for the compiler. This is not a nice property. What you really need is a way to derive a class from one of the basic types. But this is not possible. After some thinking, I came up with the following define, which will do the thing for you by defining a class with the proper methods.
#define subtypedef(B,I) \
class I{B _v;public:I():_v(0){}I(B v):_v(v){}\
inline bool operator==(I&r){return _v==r._v;}\
inline I&operator=(I&r){_v=r._v;return*this;}};
An example of usage is:
subtypedef( long, myID )


Friday, November 29, 2002

Thijs Voskuilen (Cont'd)

To continue the analysis. The Gospel of Thomas and Philip are part of The Nag Hammadi Library. In a Dead Sea Scrolls FAQ the answer to the question Does any Qumran text mention the name of Jesus or John the Baptist? says None of the scrolls contain any explicit mention of Jesus or any other New Testament personality. I conclude from this, that the Gospel of Thomas and Philip were not part of the Dead Sea Scrolls as Mr. Voskuilen makes Mr. Kotzwinkle state during the "talkshow". (I wonder whether this error has been corrected in the final version of the book.)

Everyone who reads the Gospel of Thomas will have to come to the conlusion that this gospel does not give an account of events like the gospels found in the New Testament. It is simply a collection of statements, some rather confusing as to what the mean. That is not so strange, because this gospel is from a Gnostic source, where the secret meaning (knowledge) behind the things is more important than the actual things.

Triangle grid

Earlier this week, I was thinking about the first kind of puzzle (combinatory problem) that I was thinking about to solve with a computer program. This was around 1980. This made me think about placing numbers on a triangle grid. A trangle grid is a grid with lines in three directions forming two kinds of triangles: pointing up and down (assuming that one direction is the horizontal direction). Of course, I first thought about binary numbers: 0 and 1. Now if you can make all kinds of patterns by assigning numbers to the cross points. Then you could make a table of which combinations of numbers are found at the corners of the up and down triangles.

But, of course, you can also ask yourself the reverse question: given a set of up and down triangles which may be used (as often is needed), which patterns can be made? There are several possibilities. First of all, it is possible that no patterns can be made, simply because the set of up triangles does not match the set of down triangles. Secondly, it is possible that some of the up and down triangles are never used in any pattern. Thirdly, it is possible that in each of the pattern that can be made with the given set, only a subset of the triangles are used, e.g., non of the patterns uses all possible triangles. This means that the combination of the triangles does not add any new patterns than those that could be generated with some subset of the triangles. This case can be further divided into the case that all subsets are disjoint or overlapping. In both cases no new patterns are added

Besides this, one can also look at the characterisation of the possible patterns. Some sets of triangles will only produce a fixed number of regular repeating patterns. Most will produce arbritrary complex patterns. Of course, one can also look to all forms of symmetries in the patterns produced.

It is also clear that some sets are equivalent with others except for rotations, mirroring and 0/1-swapping.

(follow-up)


Saturday, November 30, 2002

Site being blocked

Yesterday evening late, I discovered that my web site has been blocked, apparently because it generated too much traffic. This month, I got 101806 hits and 1.488 GByte of traffic. The official traffic limit is 1 Gbyte. So really my home page should have been shutdown 10 days ago. I am still thinking about what I shall do:
  1. reduce the size of my web page
  2. try to increase my limit
  3. start my own server at home
Option 1 is the cheapest. Currently the total size of my home page is about 20 Mbytes. If I would reduce that to half, that would likely also half the amouth of traffic. Furthermore, I could put some parts in zip-files, which are not being index by searching engines. That would again reduce traffic. I am having the impression that most traffic is generated by seach engine hits.

The problem with option 2 is that my current provider does not seem to provide this, except if you have a "business account", which is rather expensive.

Option 3 also seems to be attractive, but I will have to:

(follow-up)


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