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Diary, September 2003


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Monday, September 1, 2003

Military genius

Might it be the case that Saddam is really a military genius, and that he decided to lose the first stike and to win the war in the end. Did he simply do everything to make the Americans believe that they destroyed his government, including all those silly messages about the Americans being destroyed, while everybody knew that they were marching into Bagdad? But did he not simply let them come in quickly while letting his elite troups going into hiding? The bombing campain of the past weeks is showing that a group of people (most likely Saddam and his elite troups) are very effective at causing maximum damage with minimum resources, not showing any mercy at all for the possible victims. Even the Americans now have to admit that they don't have the whole situation under control.


Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Square grids and Rule 30

Rule 30 is the name of a cellular automaton that creates chaotic patterns, meaning that no periodic cycles have been discovered. There is a simply way of creating a set of 24 square tiles with six different lables on the corners that can only be tiled in a chaotic manner based on Rule 30. This proofs that there exists a set of square tiles that be used to tile an infinite grid, but only in a non-regular manner. Using the first six letters of the alphabet and a labelling the corners in a cyclic manner, the set can be represented by: acac, aebc, acbd, aead, bdaf, bdbe, bfaf, bfbe, caca, cadb, cbea, cbfb, daca, dadb, dbea, dbfb, eaca, eadb, ebea, ebfb, faca, fadb, fbea, and fbfb. It would not surprise me, if there would be a smaller set with the same properties.

(follow-up below)


Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Square tilings

This morning it was 8.2 degrees Celsius when I left home. The summer is now really over. Yesterdays posting about sqaure tiles is incorrect. First of all, it easy to see that pattern can be extended in the "forward" direction of the cellular autonoma, but it is a little harder to show that it can also be extended in the "backward" direction. I do not know if such a proof exists for Rule 30. So, it is not clear if an infinite grid can be tiled at all. But what is more, there does exist (a rather trivial) regular tiling, namely, using the tiles acac and caca. So, the whole argument is broken. (I did find an alternative way to create a set of tiles that would implement Rule 30 using four states and 32 tiles. But that is rather irrelevant, I guess.)

(Rule 30 follow-up,
Square tilings follow-up)

Friedrich Gulda

Yesterday evening, I saw a program about Friedrich Gulda, a rather unorthodox pianist that did many wierd things (such as appearing naked on stage), which often made people think that he had become mad, but who posessed a rare musical talent for playing almost any type of music.


Friday, September 5, 2003

Even great man fall down

Wim Kok early in his career started to work for a union. After some time he became the head of the largest union here in the Netherlands, and in this function he became a wide known figure for defending the rights of weaker. His transfer to national politics by becoming a member of the Labour party was welcomed. And also there his popularity grew, and finally he served as a prime minister of our country. In 2000, he spoke out against the 'exhibitionistic self-enrichment' of top management, refering to the yearly increases of the remuneration of senior managers and directors of often more than 10%, while the wages of normal workers were stabilized to improve the economical state of the country. He argued that the government should take measurement for preventing this to happen. The argument of CEO's was that their salaries were not competative with international (American) companies. But there never were any signs of a substantial brain-drain of managers due to the income gap.

Last week, Ahold announced that for the first time in its existance it was forced to fire people as part of a 10 million Euro cost reduction after it came in major troubles earlier this year as a result of financial manipulations of one of its subsidaries, which also made the CEO decide to resign. Yesterday, Anders Moberg was presented as the new CEO. Some turmoil broke out under the stock-holders when they were told that his yearly remuneration would be around 10 million Euro. (Even if he is told to leave the job due to mismanagement after half a year, he will still be rewarded with 3 million Euro!) Yet the instutional investors accepted the new CEO. The stocks did drop about 3%, but this mainly because the CEO did not present any clear plans for reviving the company. Even in difficult economical times, CEO's earn more and more.

After Wim Kok left politics, he became member of several supervisory boards of large companies, namely ING, Shell, and KLM. This is common practice under "retired politicians". These memberships provide Wim Kok with a stable and steady income without having to work long hours, allowing him to develop all kinds of other activities. Last month he was forced to agree with a 60% income raise of the top managers of one of the companies during the coming three years. Of course, he could have opposed the decision or have resigned his membership, but he felt that it was in the importance of the company that it would pay a competative salaries to its managers.

Dancing at the wedding

This evening, we went to the wedding of Edwin and Astrid, our new neighbours. We arrived a little earlier but that was no problem. The other neighbours arrived a little later. There was a band. At first Andy was a little scared by the loud sound, but when this was over he came closer and started to move. At one point when we were all standing around the dancing floor watching the newly weds do their "first dance", he suddenly started to dance in a very wild manner, jumping from one leg on the other and waving his hands and shaking his head. He made many people laugh. I was completely stunned by what he was doing, especially because he seemed totally in control and not at the least like going to fall. And that for a boy with hypotony, who only started walking less than two years ago.

It indeed seems very weird that he cannot walk in a straight line but at the same time has no problem dancing in a wild manner. I just had to think about a program about robots on Discovery Channel. What comes to my mind is this one leg robot jumping around the room, which seemed such an amazing achievement.But then they explained that jumping on one leg is actually much easier than to make a robot walk on two legs. Jumping on two legs is also much easier than standing on two legs.

Whether this explains everything, I don't know. I come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with his sense of balance (in his ear). It also seems that he now has sufficient control over his arms and legs. It is also clear that his muscles are strong enough. His hypotony is caused by the neurological problem that his nerves do not transport signals as well as they should. This means that his brains should give a stronger signal to get a "normal" response. This also explains why the muscle tension of the relaxed muscle is lower, which also explains his increased flexibility. I think that the main cause of his "drunken" manner of walking, lies in the fact that his proprioception (sensing the position of the body) is rather weak, and that he knows much better where his legs and arms are when he is moving them compared to when he is not moving. He is often flapping his arms when he is sitting and a little exicted.


Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Not Jesus but Judas died on the cross

Once every so often, someone reading my website, feels the urge to contact me with respect to my faith. Many simply state that they are happy to find a fellow Christian. But there are also people who send me a honest looking email, but then when I reply to them, suddenly show their true intentions and try to challenge my faith.

This morning, I received such a "second" email from someone who claims that not Jesus but Judas died on the cross. Often I find that these people support their believes with a selective reading of the New Testament. Some even held theories that some part of the New Testament are false, while other parts should be considered as divine revelation. I find such positions to be utterly doubtful. You either trust a source, or reject it as a whole. Do you really believe that if God is who He claims to be in the New Testament that He would not be able to prevent the New Testament to be corrupted to such an extend that His original intentions get lost, and that additional revelations would be needed? Of course, if you do not believe in an almighty God, then you cannot believe that the New Testament is a divine source of revelation. You can also held the position that the whole of the New Testament is not divine, and that Christianity is a false relegion build on fairy tales. But if you believe that the New Testament contains both divine truth and satanic lies, then what gives you reason to believe that there is another source of revelation that has not been defiled as well, because if an almighty God is not able to preserve one revelation, why would He be able to preserve another revelation?

This person argued that Jesus did not die on the cross because He asked God to "remove this cup from Me", and that God made it so that everyone believed that Judas was Jesus. First of all he made the claim that God always honours the requests of His prophets. Which seems a little odd to me, as it makes the prophets more powerful than God Himself. In all Gospels the sentense is followed by: "yet not My will, but Yours be done" (or something equivalent), and in two of the Gospels the request is preceeded with the clauses: "if it is possible" or: "if You are willing". From other passages it is clear Jesus submits His will to the that of His Father. See Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, and John 6:38) So, from the context it is clear that Jesus did make a conditonal request, not an absolute request, and that above all He wanted the will of His Father to be done.

But even if God had granted the wish of Jesus, how did He orchestrate the swap, because during the time that Jesus was praying in the garden, Judas must already have been on his way with the guards from the temple, and it is only shortly thereafter that they meet and kiss each other, and Jesus is taken in custody. Was it during this encounter that God clouded the eyes of all present, and swapped the two? But what about the New Testament writing that Judas (now Jesus), after receiving his payment, commits suicide? And why did Judas take up his role as Jesus without any resistance, when he made plans to have Jesus captured even before He made his plea with God? The only way out seems that the four Gospels do not tell the truth with respect to the reported facts. But if they are not reliable with respect to these facts, how can we trust that it is even true with respect to the plea that Jesus made?

(follow-up and more faith related entries)


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Georgy Russell

I would seriously consider to vote for candidate Georgy Russell, if I would have been living in California. Except that I do not agree with her position on abortion and gay marriage. If she would know a little more about post-abortion trauma, she might realize that abortion is not always the best choice a woman can be offered in case of an unwanted pregnancy. But for the rest she has some sound ideas. I love it that she can both uses vi and emacs. (Question 6A from the Slashdot interview.)

Behaviour composition

I just ran across the problem of extending the behaviour of a class in a derived class, where the derived class needs to deal with some additional cases that are not provided in the base class. In this kind of situations, you would like to have a possibility of a kind of "in-lining" of the method of the base class, instead of calling the method. This also often happens in event-handling, I think. You need some kind of mechanism for the method to tell that it has dealt with a certain case and that the result can be passed on. In C++ this is not possible without the use of additional variables, or to (mis)use exceptions.


Thursday, September 11, 2003

Satan defeated

The Qur'an states that not Jesus Christ, but Judas died on the cross. Because Judas was just an ordinary person, he could never have reconciled the sins of man. Actually, the Qur'an does not teach the concept of salvation through faith, only by works, so their is no need for a saviour. Muslems believe that satan caused the Bible to be corrupted, and that God sent Muhammad to correct the errors. They confess that the Qur'an is without error. In their view, satan is a rather powerful being. The little twist however is that the New Testament tells that Jesus defeated satan with His resurrection from death. As far as I know the Qur'an does not teach that satan was defeated. From this we must conclude that from the viewpoint of Islam the New Testament contains the satanic lie that satan was defeated. This is a little odd, I would say. Why would satan want to let everyone know that he has been defeated, and that faith in God is enough to be saved? It could be, reasoning along the lines of Islam, that he wanted to prevent people from being saved through their works, but why would he then include the "lie" that sign of true faith are good works? (See the letter by James.) Then he should have included the messages that one only needs to say the magic words, and could on doing whatever one wants.

Now Islam is not the only religion or sect rejecting the claims that Jesus was God and died for our sins, and that salvation is by faith in Him. Even the Roman Catholic church condems everyone to hell, who believes that faith alone is sufficient. Two other examples are Jehova Witnesses and Mormonism. If the messages of the New Testament is true, and satan is defeated, one could conclude that satan has been trying very hard to stop his defeat to become known.

(More faith related entries)


Friday, September 12, 2003

Group 1

Andy is in Group 1 of "De Huifkar". "De Huifkar" is a school for children with learning disabilities. Yesterday evening we had an introduction evening with teachers and the assistances. They also showed us a video that they had made last week. It is very interesting to see how they teach them to read (now still only pictograms), to write (circles, dashes and arcs), and to explore the world. The teachers told us that the group is very nicely working together. From the teachers, I heard that Andy is very enthusiastic and seems to pick up things quite well.

The Last Temptation of Christ

Yesterday evening, I saw some fragments of The Last Temptation of Christ, while also looking at a documentary about two men filming a FDNY crew on September 11, 2001. The movie emphasizes the human nature of Jesus Christ. I do believe that He did suffer from all the temptations that we suffer, and that He might have had doubts, but I think the way He portrated in this movie is far from the point. From the Gospels we get the image of a very mature stable character, the perfect example of a masculine man, full of compassion and with great authority, with an amazing charisma attracting many, yet not showing any sign of seeking power or glorification. He was in the strenght of His life, at a mature age, when He started His public ministery. He already walked with God for thirty years. But He still needed to take time (whole nights sometimes) to seek the fellowship with His Heavenly Father. And on several occassions (the baptism and the transfiguration) He received special encouragement. I guess we might need eternity to comprehend the depth of His combine human and divine nature.

On some points the movie is really of the mark totally, an almost occult. He was really shocked by the scene where the Jesus in the movie took out the heart out of his chest to show it to his disciples. Disgusting!


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Painting

Today, I went into the city with Annabel and Andy. We drove to a parking lot outside the city and took the free shuttle bus service to the city center. Concordia, acenter for amateur art classes, had an open day (to advertise the new courses) and Annabel wanted to go in. There was an opportunity to make a drawing, and we decided that Andy and I would go ahead while she stayed behind to make a drawing. When we were in the libary, she came back with a painting of a girl. Of course, I am biased, but I did find the painting rather artistic. She told me that she started with a curve, and then got the idea to make it into a girl. She also mixed the colors from the three primary colors and white.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Craig Wallace

Fun with fusion: Freshman's nuclear fusion reactor has USU physics faculty in awe. Craig Wallace build a working nuclear fusion reactor from spare parts. Don't worry a fusion reaction is going on, but it is only a few atoms every second that do fusion. Nevertheless, it is an amazing achievement.

Prinsjesdag

Yesterday, it was Prinsjesdag, the third Tuesday in September, the day on which the government present their plans for the coming years. These plans contained a total of 17 billion Euro of cuttings in government spending. This has caused a lot of turmoil, because it looks like the weak in society are going to pay most of this. We will also be affected by this because we have a handicapped child. The government defends its actions saying that we are in a recession, and that otherwise the dept of the government would increase above the 3% which has been agreed upon between the Euro countries. At the moment, both Germany and France are above this percentage, and are not taking measurements to reduce it substantial in the near future. It looks like the Netherlands wants to be nicest boy of the class. Most economic experts, even those of the ruling parties, are not convinced that the proposed cutting are really the best way to resolve the current economical situation. Every month about 14 thousand people lose their job, and there is still no sight of any improvement yet. The support for the Christian Democrats has dropped dramatically, while the support for the Liberal parties has remained the same. It is clear that our current government is having follows a rather "right-wing" approach towards dealing with the economy. It looks like they are going to loose during the next elections. I think that many people are disappointed that the Christian Democrats did not form a coalition with the Labour party.

2e Exloermond

I never knew we had a village here in Netherlands starting with a digit. Actually, there are two of them: "1e Exloërmond" and "2e Exloërmond". In Dutch "1e" and "2e" are shorthands for first and second.


Thursday, September 18, 2003

Playing on 19x19

Yesterday evening, Annabel played Go against a third Dan player on a 19x19 board. He concluded at the end of the game that the board was still too big for her. She simply lost the overview. But she did make some strong moves, and the player did make a big mistake at the end of the game by not securing a group, as one of the bystanders noticed. My strength is around 15 kyu. I wonder if I ever will make it till 5 kyu. I am afraid I am already too old to make any substantial progress.


Friday, September 19, 2003

We have huge memories

According to the paper Discovering the Capacity of Human Memory, the capacity of the brain is in the order of 108432 bits. That is far more than the memory of all computers together, and even it Moore's law hold it will take many centuries. But even on practical considerations, this number seems to be way to high.


Saturday, September 20, 2003

Sixth Dutch Kabuki day

I have been looking forward to this day, because it is already two years ago since the Fifth Dutch Kabuki day was held. There were less people than the last time. This was also due to the fact that they had request to leave the brothers and sisters of the children with Kabuki at home. We left Annabel with my mother, who lives just ten minutes driving from the place where the day was held. Of course, Andy came with us. There were 16 people with Kabuki syndrome ranging from 4 till 25 years, together with their parents.

There are now 42 people with Kabuki known in the Netherlands, 27 girls and 14 boys. More than half of them are in the range of 6 till 15 years.

Some people were delayed because of a traffic jam and some mechanical problems with their car. Around half past eleven Prof. Dr. C. Schrander started her talk about the recent findings in literature. Seven years ago the Dutch Network started with just three children. She expressed her happiness about how the Network had grown and about our mutual cooperation.

She went through the long list of article that had appeared. Many articles were about isolated cases of people with Kabuki having some kind of problem. A relation with Kabuki was not always apparent. She told however that an article from Tawain had raised her awareness with respect to the typical shape of the lips. It seems the bottom lips are often rather thick in the middle and that sometimes two pits in the lower lips can be seen.

She also told us that she with some specialst around the world are planning on writing a large overview article about a large group of people with Kabuki children. If I understand it correctly, this will be a group of article dealing with the medical, the psychological and language aspects. They are rather critical about selecting which individuals were included. Only if all of them agreed that an individual did have Kabuki Syndrome it was included in this study, otherwise not. Then the talk was continued by her husband, Dr. J. Schrander, a general paediatrician, working at the same academical hospital. He told us about the check list that is being developed (as another result of the above mentioned overview article).

After the talk we had a simple bread lunch and time to just talk with each other. We also took the opportunity to take a group picture of everyone with Kabuki. (Someone also took a picture of everyone taking pictures.) Then at around three o'clock we came together to discuss some issues in the large group. Around four o'clock we closed the meetings, and most people left quite quickly afterwards. The next Kabuki day will be in two years.

(Fifth Dutch Kabuki day and Seventh Dutch Kabuki day)


Saturday, September 21, 2003

Chromosome 8

Yesterday morning, I also heard the news that some doctor in America claims to have found the cause of the Kabuki Syndrome. According to him the defect is found on chromosome 8. One of the characteristics of the Kabuki Syndrome is that there is no visible defect on the chromosomes. There are many syndromes that do have a visible defect. The most visible defects are those where there is an abnormal chromosome count (such as with Down syndrome). Less visible defects are translocation defects, which occur if a part of a chromosome has been swapped with another chromosome. We have two chromosomes of each type, except for the sex chromosomes where we either have XX (female) or XY (male). Now lets name the chromosomes A and B and their parts a and b. A person with a translocation thus has chromosomes Aa, Ab, Bb and Ba. Usually, this does not cause any problems for the bearer, because all the genetic material is there in the right quantity, and that is what counts. However, if this person get children with a partner that does not have the translocation (Aa Aa, Bb and Bb) the children get one pair of A and B form each parent. This leads to four types of children with approximately the same incidence: It is likely that the children with the extra or missing genetic material will have some development problems. Most often these are so sever that they lead to a miscarriage. It is thus possible that a translocation will never be discovered, but that there is simply a high rate of miscarriages, some of which may occur very early. It is also possible that one type of child does have a chance to survive, but with development problems. Such a child is likely to have brothers and sister that are also carriers of the defect, and it is likely that they will too get children with the same type of development problems. If the chance that a child does not survive is very high, then it can take a very long time before a family is found where more than one case does occur. However, in that case it is likely that the development problems should be severe. With the Kabuki Syndrome we do not see any severe development problems. So far, no families with multiple cases, or a high rate of miscarriages have been reported. It is thus rather unlikely that the defect is caused by a translocation.

It is suspected that with the Kabuki Syndrome a small piece of genetical material is missing or damaged. Such genetical defects are difficult to find, because we have so many different genes. But before people have been able to find gene defects to be responsable for certain inherited diseases. It is possible that the damaged part is so big that it is actually visible in the pattern of GTG and RBA patterns on the chromosome. (However, such abnormal patterns were not found with Andy, who belongs to the group of accepted cases for the overview article that Prof. Schrander reported about yesterday.)

The news report also seems to suggest that the defect that was found, is inherited from the mother. This raises the question why they are not affected by it, while some of their children are. I do not know of any mechanisms (other than a translocation) that could explain this for a non-sex related chromosome. And one would also expect that they would transmit the defect to some of their children, which then too would have an increased rate of getting children with the Kabuki Syndrome. Which is not what we have see in reality so far. This theory also conflicts with the observation that the age of the fathers is substantial higher compared to the general population, which seems to indicate that the defect is caused during the sperm production.

I am afraid that there just has been some miscommunication and that there is another reason why it is sufficient to have the blood from the mother. I think we just will have to wait until the official announcement comes. Maybe it would have been better if this news had not been leaked out, because it seems to have caused more confusion than is neccessary.

(follow-up)


Monday, September 22, 2003

Summer drawing to an end

This morning it was 14.5 degrees Celsius outside. At the moment the temperatures are above 20 degrees again, for the 115th time again this year, if I am not mistaken. A new record. 1947 still holds the record for the summer with the highest average temperature. The sky is still blue, but the weather forecast says that it is going to rain later this day. The prediction is that tomorrow the temperature will not get higher than 15 degrees. Yesterday, Annabel wanted me to set up the little swimming pool in the back of the garden. I declined her request, although in the sun it was hotter than inside. She kept on whining about it.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

This morning, the temperature was 11.1 degrees Celsius when I left from home. Last night we had a little rain, and it looks like more showers are heading towards us. It just started to rain while I write this. "Jaap de Hoop Scheffer" is going to be the next secretary general of the NATO. I guess there is going to be some confusion about the spelling of his name. His surname is a double surname consisting of "de Hoop" and "Scheffer". Such double surnames find their origin in nobility.


Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Software patents

This morning it was 6.2 degrees Celsius. It really has become colder since yesterday the astromical fall started as 12:47 local time. I am afraid it is also going to be a cold day with respect to software patents in Europe. Today will be the vote, and if one reads European Parliament's Daily Notebook on gets the impression that the proponents are making some convincing statements. Why would we need a law to limit patentability of software, when current law forbids it. Arlene McCarthy is stating that she is against patents like the "one click" patent, but doesn't say a word about that other patent that was already granted to Amazon by the European Patent Office. It seems the new law does not prevent patents like the "one click" patent at all. My conclusion is that politicians and technology do not go well together.

(follow-up. more on software engineering.)


Thursday, September 25, 2003

Go

This morning it was 5.8 degrees Celsius when I left home, but with the forcast of clear skies all day long, temperatures may go up to 20 degrees during the day. Yesterday evening, Annabel and I went to the Go club. I played against a 5 Dan player and lost with 45 starting with 9 stones forhand. Much better than the last time I played against him. Annabel played two games and lost with 8 and 15 stones.

Software patents

Yesterday, European Union voted on the Software Patent Directive. Although the directive was accepted, it was accepted with many ammendmens which seems to forbid "pure" software patents. The law does allow patents on devices that rely on software, but the patentability of the software itself seems to be excluded. It seems that the FFII/Eurolinux is quite happy about the outcome. It also appeared that Mrs Arlene McCarthy was backed-up by Mr Frits Bolkenstein, a former Dutch member of parlement. Already in that time he was known for his controversional statements. During this time in 1996. Frits Bolkestein, member of the supervisory board of the Dutch branch of Merck, Sharp & Dohme, wrote a letter to health minister EB, "dear Els", asking her to promote admission of a specific drug. (Dutch: Lees wat Jan Marijnissen hierover schreef.)

Iraq

It is becoming more and more clear that Iraq did not have Weapons of Mass Distruction at the time that the United States started the war. This clearly demonstrates that political leaders should not be trused on their words, if these are not supported by solid facts. In this sense both Bush and Blair have acted very undemocratic. Although both of them are trying to hide the fact that spread misinformation, in the end both will have to pay for it. People have shouted that the real reason for attacking Iraq was oil. Now I begin to think that it the United States wanted to move out of Saudi Arabia, because their presence there was one of the reasons for the attach on the WTC on September 11, 2001. Now that the US is moving away from Saudi Arabia, they are thinking about aquiring nuclear arms themselves to protect themselves against countries like Iran. So in the end Iraq may become surrounded by countries with nuclear arms.

The US promised that the United Nations would play a significant role. It seems he is finally going to give in with respect to this promise. Nevertheless it seems that also the world wide role of the United Nations is on the decline.


Friday, September 26, 2003

Syncro swimming

Yesterday, Annabel for the first time went to the syncro swimming of the "Enschedese Watervrienden". The lesson took one hour, and it was after eight that we arrived home and could have our dinner. She went there just for a try-out. Afterwards they told me that she could stay, but the problem is that she still cannot do 25 meters of crawl, and for that she has to follow another swimming course on Friday. I find it a little too much to do both, so I think she will have to wait a little. The training was rather nice, and I watched some girls performing syncro swimming in a group of seven, in a pair and on their own. Next month the national contests are held. One of the girls was an old colleague I know from former employer.


Saturday, September 27, 2003

John Walker - the war on drugs

Yesterday, John Walker complained about the Dutch Government respecting the privacy of its citenzens too much with respect to the war on drugs. He said that the Dutch Government is not doing enough to fight the production and distribution of XTC. The Dutch police have been more and more successful in catching XTC, but John Walker says that this is only evidence that the real problem is only growing. He also suggested that we should change the law with respect to criminal informants and wire taps, such that more criminals will be put behind bars. Criminal informants are forbidden under Dutch law, because in the past it has lead to corruption taking place. And with respect to wire taps, we are a country where there are already far too many wire taps being set. What disturbes me most is that someone from the U.S.A. government is suggesting that we should change our laws. We are a sovereign country. I feel that the Dutch government is already doing too much with respect to this, like handing over Dutch citizens to the American authorities without having substantial evidence that they committed any criminal acts.


Monday, September 29, 2003

Everybody ill

It seems our whole family got infected by some virus last weekend. It started with Andy, who probably picked it up at school, and now we all got it. So far, I did not get a fever like the others, but my bowels have not been properly working since Thursday evening.

Rainbow

This afternoon, Annabel and I saw a rainbow while driving through the city. For me it is quite long ago that I saw a rainbow. Annabel told me that she had just recently seen a double rainbow while she was biking with Li-Xia to school. I tried to explain to her that there is always a double rainbow, but that we simply cannot see it. As an illustration I asked her if she could see the difference between a stack of one million apples and a stack of one million and one apples. When she answered yes, I understood that she didn't get it. I tried to take a picture of it, but it already had fainted to such an extend that on the picture you can only see it if you know where it is.


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Science and politics do not mix

The advice from first-hand experts are often ignored by their managers. SARS directives still ignore expertise of health-care workers: "The Ontario government ignored the expertise of its front-line health-care workers during the SARS health emergency and continues to issue directives on "the new normal" that are not feasible, a public hearing was told Monday." And: "Nurses report that when they raised alarms about patients, right back in the beginning, those alarms were ignored or minimized." You hear this over and over again when things really go wrong.

Dancing Queen

The song Dancing Queen from Abba is running through my head. It must be because I heard it during a program about Abba that I watched this weekend. Funny how a song can run through your head with all the details, almost like you are listening to it.

The world oldest airline company is going to disappear

Just now it was announced that KLM (Dutch Royal Airlines) will be taken over by Air France. It is not clear why KLM did not choose for a strategic alliance. Although Air France has made certain promises about keeping the identity of KLM ("it is a strong brand"), experts fear that KLM will be eaten by the four times bigger Air France company once the powerful France unions are going to exercise their influence. A financial paper wrote: "It is big versus small, arrogant versus smart, relation versus transaction". KLM will lose its predicate of "Royal" because it is no longer a Dutch company. Will this also force them to change their name from KLM to LM, I wonder?

Kissing once, twice, thrice

In the Netherlands we have this custom of giving people three kisses on the cheek (really just in the air). So it is more something of giving three very short hugs, while making kissing sounds in the air. For some people this is even too much, and they are promoting buttons for informing how many times they want to be kissed.

Building an artificial brain

Artificial Development is builing an artifical cortex based on Spiking Neural Networks. Back ground information can be found in the book: Spiking Neuron Models. And how does the brain learn? read Spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP)!


This months interesting links


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