Happy Chinese New Year!
Today, the Lunar year 4700, according to the Chinese
calendar, started. It is the year of the Goat, which
is not high valued. This has led to a small baby boom
in the past two months, in certain parts of China,
because many Chinese rather have their child born in
the year of the horse than in the year of the goat.
This afternoon, it started to snowagain. In the evening their
was a nice layer of snow. By the end of tomorrow, most of
it will be gone again, because a low presure system is
approaching, which will bring warmer air from the Atlantic
Today, I received an email from someone informing me
that he has been seen here in the Netherlands, and that
he seems to be in good health. Apparently, he did not
fly to Brasil, and nothing serious happened to him.
Today, we went to "Klim Op" to talk about Andy's
progress. We watched some movies about his eating patterns.
He has made some substantial progress. Now he can drink his
liquid food all by himself from a special cup. Also eating the
baby food usually goes with almost no resistance. Sometimes, you
do have to encourage him with the prospect of an interesting
activity. He is definitely one of the smartest in his group.
But his behaviour is still of that of a young toddler, if things
do not go like he wants he throws himself on the ground and start
crying and mocking. His speech is still very weak, although he
does make considerable efforts to make clear what he wants.
He is still teachable and is showing a constant progress. This
gives us good hope for the futher.
At the eight o'clock news their was an item about Mr. Donner, our minister
of defence, visiting the queen to inform her about the progress of the formation of a new
coalition. They showed how he biked up the lane to one of palaces of
the queen. At the bottom of the stairs leading up to the building, a servant
takes his bike, and we see him go in. The next image is about
from the stairs, accepting his bike from the servent and
riding back to his
office. The Netherlands must be the only country where ministers take bikes
to visit the head of the state, which proves we are the only real biking
country in the world.
At the moment the Christian Democrats are working seriously with the
Labour party to form a new coalition.
This morning, I dreamed about a thriller story. It started with the
scene of a woman entering a hotel being approached by some kind of
investigator saying: "Be carefull, this year I am going to nail you".
She replies: "Be carefull, or I will drag you into court". It appears
that every year some crime happens in the hotel on the same day that
many years ago a famous magician died under suspicious circumstances.
Then it is revealed that the woman is the daughter of this magician.
The plot thickens, and on the particular night the investigator has
an encounter with the woman, where she tries to kill him with a crossbow
and some explosive. He throws back the explosive, and kills her. Finally,
it seems that everything is solved, but the next day, he sees the woman
amongh the crowd, unharmed. Because it is a dream, I forgot which
parts I actually dreamed, and which I filled in later.
By yesterday evening, all the snow that fell on Saturday
had melted away. This morning, to my surprise there was a fine layer
of snow again. Then by noon this was mostly melted away, when it started
to snow again. At first the snow did not stay, but it simply
kept on snowing,
and an hour later, there was a layer of snow again.
(We call this kind of weather "kwakkelweer" in the Netherlands.)
March Fisher, wrote an
article in the Washington Post with the above title about
the problem that software is not getting more user-friendly.
I think that his analysis that software is made by nerds that
do not understand the average user, is only confirming existing
stereo-types and not really pointing at the real causes. The
real cause lies in the fact that making software is simply still
very expensive, and that because of this user-friendliness is not
always a major requirement. Marketing still plays a very important
role in the development of software, and often software developers
are not given the opportunity to develop user-friendly software.
Most often they are not given the chance to communicate with the
There are many people interested in doing genealogical
research and the Internet is used as a means for exchanging
information. With the help of general searching engines one
can find a lot of information. But there are also many
databases which are not cannot be indexed by these because
they require a login and sometimes even a fee. Yes, there
are companies building databases just to make profit.
Another problem is that most amateur genealogic researchers
are most of the time only publishing the results of their
findings, and often do not give much details about how they
arrived at these results. If you really want to do serious
genealogical reseach than you have to at least document your
sources and how reliable they are. Luckily, more and more
genealogical societies (both privated and subsidised by
governments) spend time in digitizing their archives.
What really is needed is a standard for publishing sources
(such as birth, marriage and death registers) such that
they can be indexed by specialized search engines. I am
afraid that this might still take some time.
Yesterday, I managed to get game Collapse to work off-line. Which was simply done by
saving some files from the "Temporary Internet Files"
directory and changing the code base directive of the
applet in the source of the page.
Since than it seems some people got a little addicted to
the game. Annabel has reached
a high score of 197669. My high score is 284220. I have
not told it to Annabel, otherwise she would have continued
playing the game until she had broken it. Even
Li-Xia has been playing it, but
less than Annabel and I.
Yesterday, I read an article with the title "De steentijd van de
informatica" (The Stone age of computer science) in
De Automatisering Gids,
which is an interview with Henk Barendregt because received the
Spinoza Reward for his scientifical work
on Lambda Calculus.
Yesterday evening, and old friend of me visited us together
with his fiancee who is from a third-world country. They would like
to marry here in the Netherlands, but this is made very difficult
because they cannot get the right documents (a birth certificate and
a statement of not being single). It seems that the only possibility
is to find a country that would allow them to marry, and that
marriages in that country can be made "legal" according to Dutch law.
And, yes, suprisingly those kind of countries do exist. Talking
about incosistencies in international law.
Later on the evening, I also received an email with respect to a
family that were turned down when applying for asylum here in the
Netherlands and that are facing some problems right now. Just two
random examples of people living in a reality that is different
from those born Western countries.
If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, and
take up his cross daily and
Someone that took up his cross, was someone that was going to die
on that cross. It literally means, considering yourself as someone
that has been sentenced to death and has no hope in itself. These
are difficult words. But besides denying oneself, Jesus also calls
us to follow Him. And that means more than simply following His
example, it also means sitting at His feet.
Yesterday evening, I downloaded the Maps and Basic Results article
from the first year result page of the WMAP satelite. This morning, I changed
my computer background to this image. My age is about 3 billionth of that of the universe.
Today, I discover that some one already solved the riddle
with respect to a surprising feature of certain extensions
of Langton's Ant which produce
symmetrical patterns. The paper Futher Travels with My
Ant explains this behaviour and proofs the observation
I made. For more information about this subject and the paper
see page Generalized Ants.
It becoming more and more obvious to me, that the Bush administration has
wanted a war against Iraq from the beginning, and that their decision to
work along the United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council
only has been a decoy. The most shocking aspect of the presentation of Powell
before the United Nations Security Council on February 5 was that it attempted
to destroy the credibility of the inspectors by showing that they were being
fooled all the time by the Iraqi government. Then, the next day, President
Bush demanded a new resolution for a war against Iraq suggesting that the
evidence that has been provided by the United States is already conclusive,
and that their is no need to wait for the inspectors report. Now it even looks
like the United States purposively have not provided detailed intelligence
information to the inspectors in Iraq, as to ridicule their activities.
Probably this is done to give the message that inspections will never be
sufficient to stop the production of mass-destruction weapons in Iraq and to
argue that only solution is to overtrow the current Iraqi government.
Just before the weekend France and Germany (with the support of Russia and
China) presented an alternative plan that with the help of UN peace-keeping
forces would do more intensive inspections in the years to come. Yesterday,
I heard some British spokeman declare that even if their is not going a
UN resolution, that the United States together with the British could start
a war against Iraq, if they felt that their was enough reasons for.
I personally do not feel qualified to decide whether this plan is better than
the plan to have a war against Iraq. However, I feel it is not fair that the
Bush administration on one hand states that it wants to follow the United
Nations Security Council, but on the other hand just continues to execute its
own plans outside of that of the United Nations Security Council. By doing so,
I think, that they are actually invalidating the credibility of the Security
Finally, I have become a blogger,
after being a diary writer for a very long time. This morning, I drove
along a TW/RC building, which partly went up in smoke on
November 20 last year. The
part that was damage by the fire, has been flattend almost. I did take a picture
with my digital camera. There are almost no clouds
today, but the temperature
was -5.6 degrees Celsius this morning. Rather cold. I heared that there is a lot
of snow in Washington, DC. We never get so much snow over here.
I just heard the news that Tao Haidong was sentenced with seven
years of imprisonment by a court in Urumqi because he published some
pessimistic views about the economical situation in China.
This morning it was -6.2 degrees Celsius. A little colder than yesterday. I just read
Man vs. Machine an
article by Garry Kasparov about his match against Deep Junior, in which he says
that his match against Deep Blue was a mere marketing stunt.
Again it is a sunny day without any clouds. You would almost forget that it is
cold outside. And that it will be dark by the time I bike home. I just read
this page about tides.
I stumbed along this page after a discussion about putting strings around the
earth and such.
I just heard that our wash machine has some troubles. The water does not go
out any more, meaning we are going to have some fun this evening.
It looks like my problem with the triangle grids
is related to Wang tile.
As I noted before, each triangle grid is related
to up to three square grids. In the past week, I have been thinking ways to
determine the properties of square grids. Today, I came across the page about
Wang Tile. With the Wang Tile the sides of each square have to match, where
in the square grids the corners must be matching. It is obvious that each
square grid can be mapped onto a certain Wang Tile, but I am not sure about
whether it is possible to map each Wang Tile on a square grid. If that is the
case than Wang Tile is a richer structure. An interesting question is whether
there are also square grids (using more values than just two) that only have
irregular (non-repeating) infinite tilings given a set of available tiles. I
am almost sure that they exist. The questions is of course is what is the
minimum of values needed. My intuition tells me that two colours is too less.
The whole day, I could not
access blogger. So, it is only now that I can write something. I should be go to
bed soon. When I came home yesterday evening, I went upstairs to look at the
wash machine. When I switched it on and pushed some buttons, it started to pump
the water and after that it started to spin. I guess, it simply needed a reboot.
This morning it was -4.7 degrees Celsius and there was not much wind. Excellent
I would say. The rest of the day it remained sunny. When there are no clouds it
stays lighter much longer than if there are clouds.
This morning, it was -3.9
degrees Celsius outside. Although the temperature was higher than yesterday
there was more frost due to a higher humidity. For some fun science experiments,
have a look at Science Toys. It brings back
some memories from the past about attempts to build a simple radio (I never
succeeded in doing so) and similar things.
Yesterday, I came across of the home page
of Paul Graham who is an expert on LISP. The LISP code page has a link to
code, a LISP interpreter written in LISP. This is really a proof how strong
the concept of LISP is. Graham also is working on a new LISP like language
called Arc. I do not find his attempt very convincing. It seems more like a
collection of syntax adaptions. I think it is very hard to improve on LISP's
brilliant idea of making lists of everything.
I often find myself in the
Hall of mirrors when I am confronted with a software engineering problem.
In order to solve the problem, I try to understand it, and by doing so I arrive
at a more abstract way of solving it. And when I think deeper about it, I
suddenly see another abstraction, or a more generic way to solve it. And then I
see an abstraction of the generic way to solve it. Ad infinitum. This is like
what Teg Miles refers to as the Hall of
Mirrors in Chapterhouse Dune a book
by Frank Herbert.
I had to scratch the car
this morning, because my wife needed to bring my daughter to school. Normally,
my daughter bikes to school. But yesterday she fell on her knee, and now it
hurts when she stretches it completely. Nothing serious, I think. It was -2.9
degrees Celsius this morning. Yesterday, I discovered an electronic versions of
Frank Herbert's Dune novels when googling. These
must be illegal. I could not resist the temptation to download them. I do have
some paperback copies, so, I do not see why it is illegal to own the electronic
copies as well. Everyday, I come along some advertisments of a snack ("frikandel")
by Mora, on which they now "print" their brand
name. A very smart idea, if you realize that most of these snacks are eaten in
snackbars (half a billion in the Netherlands) and not at home. They also have a
tv commercial where two girls walk into a snack bar in which a Dutch celebraty
is eating. You see the girls look at the person and talk with each other. Then
one of them walks over to the celebraty and looks at the "frikandel", and
exclaims: "Yes it is the real one".
It is a mistake to believe that although
the theory of evolution explains how life is evolving on Earth that it is also
the explaination of the cause of our existance. From this one could conclude
that most of the evolution versus creation debate is not within the realm of
This morning it was -1.2
degrees Celsius. The sky has remained clear over the weekend due to a very
persistent high pressure area above Northern Europe. There was an earthquake in
Xinjiang this morning that killed about a hunderd people. In some news item
ended with the sentense "Separistic Uygur are fighting for an autonomous
Xinjang." I do not know why this sentense was added. It gives the impression of
an ongoing civil war, which is far from the truth, I would say.
This morning it was only -0.6
degrees Celsius. Yesterday evening I scanned through the fanfiction novel
Dune 7: Advent
(an attempt to write the 7th Dune book).
It is quite good at
mimicking the writing style of Frank Herbert, but for the rest it is not very
good. It lacks a lot to make it a real good novel. It has many good ideas,
but fails to glue them together in a consistent manner. It has some highly
unlikely twists in the plot. There is not a good story line, and almost no
suspense. The author also thinks that by making certain things vague (e.g., you
do not know if something is a dream or reality) he can make the story
interesting. I do not believe that this novel is coming anywhere close to the
novel that Frank Herbert had in mind. I think we will have to wait for
the book that
Brain and Kevin are going to publish to get some idea of what he had in mind.
(And although they say they will be based on his notes, there is no way to
verify to what extend, or even if the notes are real, because they were only
"discovered" long after his death.) It was very quiet this morning. There is a
school holiday, and it looks like many Dutch are on a ski holiday in France, the
Swiss, or Austria. I am amazed at the number of people that still go on holiday
now that the economical situation is getting worse. Holiday is no longer seen as
a luxury but as a neccesity. One could say that at least money is spend, which
is good for the economical condition.
Yesterday evening, I continued working on a program for
establishing minimal requirements for a set of tiles to be able to tile an
infinite square grid. When doing so, I discovered an interesting property of
a certain set of tiles. It is the set of four tiles where each tile
has three corners with 0 and one with 1. It is rather obvious that
the infinite grid can be tiled with this set of tiles. Take for
example the grid where (x,y) has the value 1 if both x and y are even,
and otherwise the value 0. However there are infinite many other ways to
till the grid, because there is room for shifting a whole row or column of
1 up one place. The interesting thing is that it is never possible to
shift a column and a row. It is one or the other.
Yesterday, I saw Mient Jan Faber Faber, who is associated with the
Interchurch Peace Council Netherlands
(also know as IKV), express some interesting ideas about the coming
war against (the current regime in) Iraq. (Listing to the last speaches
made by the Bush administration, a war seems inevitable by now.)
Mr. Faber has recently visited North Iraq (already called
Kurdistan by some of it inhabitans) and spoken with people from all
over Iraq. According to him, the people will revolt agains Saddam
Hussein as soon as his military communication infrastructure has
been destroyed. Only a small fraction of his army (from the area
around Tekrit, where Saddam Hussein comes from) will remain loyal.
The Turkish are very afraid that the Kurds in the North will take
hold of Kirkuk, that is rich in oil. That would allow them to declare
an independent Kurdistan. He also mentioned that for this reason the
Americans already have agreed with the Turkish government that they
are allowed to send an army of about 70.000 Turkish soldier to Kirkuk
to prevent this from happening. The Turkish are very afraid for an
independent Kurdistan in Northen Iraq, because that would give strength
to the Kurdish majority in the east to join with this independent state.
But also in the South of Iraq there are groups wanting to have an
independent state. So the biggest problem might not be to overtrow
the reign of Saddam Hussein, but to remain the unity of Iraq once he
is gone. Mr. Faber also expressed the fear that Saddam, knowing
that he is defeated will try to take as many people as possible with
him in his death, and that he would not hesitate to use weapons of
mass destruction for this purpose.
Yesterday morning it was -1.4
degrees Celsius, but this morning it was 4.0 degrees Celsius. There is also a
thin layer of clouds for the first time in two weeks. They expect that
temperatures will rise up to 14 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. It is more and
more becoming clear that there is going to be a war in Iraq. Yesterday evening,
I watched a program where someone suggested that the biggest problem will not be
to overtrow the current government, but keeping the country in one part
afterwards. Turkey is very afraid that the Kurds in the North will call out an
indepedent state, and that also the Kurds in the East of Turkey want to join
I wanted to go into the city, because it is shopping night (in the Netherlands
shops are usually not open in the evening), but when I phoned
Li-Xia she told me that she was cooking. She had
forgotten that I wanted to go shopping. Maybe I will go after dinner (not
This morning, when I got my
bike out of the shed, I heard some birds fly over. When I looked up into the
sky, I saw several linked V shape lines of birds (goose) fly over. It must have
been a few hunderd birds all flying to the North-East. When I thought about
making a picture, it wa already too late. It was 7.4 degrees Celsius this
This months interesting links