SARS here to stay
Today, in Leeuwarden, a city in the Netherlands, a blind man was convicted
of raping four women. He used a telephone chat box to guide the women to
his place, and there he raped them using verbal and physical violence to
silence them. During the trial he denied all alligations, saying that he
did not use any force at all.
It seems that SARS is here to stay. In the past days there has been a
strong outbreak in Hong Kong, which might as well run out of hand. And
who knows how it is spreading in mainland China. The effect SARS has on
world economics is increasing, and might soon be greater than the war on
Radius of a circle enclosed by three circles
Last week, I was thinking about what would be the radius
of the largest circle that would fit into the area of three
touching circles given their radii. Today, I found the
following formulea on
1/r = 1/r1 + 1/r2 + 1/r3 + 2*sqrt(1/(r1*r2)+1/(r1*r3)+1/(r2*r3))
That is indeed a suprisingly nice formulea. Sadly, it does
not explain how it was derived.
I had forgotten how it felt to be biking through the rain. Last Monday,
it was raining when I wanted to go home. Yesterday, it rained a little.
So far, it has been dry today. This morning it was 3.8 degrees Celsius
when I left from home.
has started the 'Hanky Panky School', a school for prostitutes and escort girls.
Talibanization of North West Pakistan
Non-Muslims in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP) fear the
Talibanization of the region after the Provincial Cabinet unanimously
adopted the Islamic Shar'iah Act. If enacted by the provincial assembly, the
Act will give Shari'ah law supremacy in the province while the Qur'an and
Sunnah (the examples and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed) will dictate all
future legislation and legal reforms.
As the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Pakistan's radical Islamic opposition
party, supports the legislation and holds a two-thirds majority in the
Provincial Assembly, the new legislation is expected to be implmenente with
minimal opposition. The new legislation will require strict adherence to
Muslim practices and will comprehensively discriminate against the
political, civil, cultural, economic and social rights of all non-Muslim
citizens in the province.
It was -2.0 degrees when I
went outside this morning. This is bad for all the flowers that about to open.
Yesterday morning, I woke up from a strange dream. I was dreaming about checking
in into a boarding school for gifted teenagers. For some reason, I was late for
dinner, which was held in another building. (Except for the dinner building have
a strange entrance, where you had to crawl through a very small door, and make a
roll down, because the floor was lower on the inside. I asked someone if this
was the only entrance, because I wondered how they had moved all the furniture
inside.) The others were almost done when I started. Then they started to ask me
all kinds of strange questions that I barely understood, but which implied that
they knew certain things about my past and background. I wondered what they had
been told about me. (I was thinking about the fact that I had not informed the
office yet, and I also thought that I was really too old for staying at this
school.) I felt attacked by all their questions, as if I did not belong there.
(yet the woman who was the head of the school, somehow had given me the idea
that I belonged there.) Then suddenly, I realized that I was being tested. At
one point I felt a strange pain like a band around my head. Then came the final
question asking me which church I was attending. After I gave the answer,
everybody cheared, and I was thinking about how I could share with them all my
ideas about whether God exists or not. Then I woke up, sweating, something that
I haven't experienced in years. If was 7:17 on the alarm. It was only after nine
that I got out of my bed, all the time laying half asleep trying to remember the
details of this dream and wondering about its significance.
War almost over
It seems that the war on
Iraq is almost over. It would not surprise if before the end of the week the
Coalition will declare the victory and that there will be not much resistence.
However, if you see some of the images of people having lost their families, one
can imagine that some of these will take revenge in the years to come. So far,
no chemical weapons have been found. If none are found, it will show that the
inspections were effective, and that there never was any threat for world peace,
and thus no legal ground for starting the war in the first place.
Commiting war crimes
Is the U.S. army committing
war crimes? Yesterday, I heard that an old man walking with a stick was shot
while crossing the street. It almost seems that they are shooting at everything
that is moving and making excessive number of casualties amongh civilians. Also
the attack on the office of Al-Jazeera and the Palistine hotel could be regarded
as such. Especially, in the Arabic world the attack on the offices of Al-Jazeera
will be interpreted as such, even if it was an accident. It are these small
things that enhance opposition against the United States of America.
I find the images of young children missing arms and legs, or being burned or
paralyzed, quite shocking. Will they be given support from the U.S. government
in the years to come? I think it would be a good idea, to held governments
accountable for the costs of civilian casualties during a war. And this should
include all cost, not simply paying the medical bills, but also the cost of
living for the rest of their lives.
CNN reported that
U.S. gets high marks in world reading tests. Once should read the
understand the facts. The Dutch students are performing significantly better
than the U.S. students. They are on the second place for average combined
reading literacy score (where the US student are on the ninth place) and on the
second place for the average informational subscale score (where the US students
are on the thirdteenth place). For the average literary subscale the Dutch are
just before the US on the third place. A remarkable fact shown on the seventh
page, is that the Dutch worst students are the best worst students for all
included countries, meaning that we are very good at teaching the less good
student. The variation is also remarkable low, if not the lowest. Out best
students are on about the seventh place, even behind the best U.S. students.
(Figure 8 really gives the impression that the U.S. students are very good.)
Snow on the Magnolia
On Sunday, March 30, I reported
about the first signs of the spring. Up until that day, the
weather had been exceptional nice for the time of the year.
But, in the last weeks temperatures dropped below zero again
during the night. This morning, there was some snow on the
now brown frozen flower leaves of our Magnolia. I could not
stop making some pictures before biking to my office. I expect it will
blossom again later this year, like it did in
July 2001, because in that year the flowers also
turned brown (orange) due to frost.
Tonight, around eleven o'clock, Jan Peter Balkenende (our current
Prime Minister and member of the Christian Democrats) told that
the attempt to form a coalition with the labour party of Jeroen Bos
had failed. A few minutes later, Jeroen Bos gave his side of the
story, which gave the impression that the Christian Democrats at
the last moment had come with a proposal that was totally unaccceptable
even by the formation advisors. It was then that the formation advisors
resigned from their assignment, and said that they would inform the
Queen about this.
The Christian Democrats are holding the position that we should everything
possible to reduce the dept of the government to zero by the year 2007,
which means very extensive cuts on government spendings (about 20 billion
Euro). That is definitely not a good thing to improve the current economical
This morning, I found a note on my desk from
Johan related to
how to calculate radius of a circle enclosed by three circles,
which I wrote about last week. The note said:
Yes, that is indeed one way to solve it. But it is far from trivial,
and it is not easy to see how it will arrive at the elegant formulea.
I suspect that there is an easier way of derive it.
P2=(0,r1 + r2)
Calculate P3 from:
d(P1,P3) = r1 + r3
d(P2,P3) = r2 + r3
Calculate P from:
d(P,P1) = r + r1
From this follows r
d(P,P2) = r + r2
d(P,P3) = r + r3
In This Week's Lancet
Today, I received an email from The Lancet
(because I once registered to look at an online article), telling what
is in this weeks issue. One of the items mentioned was:
I do not know what I have to think of this, but it seems a rather
obvious fact to me. I can also remember having seems documentary
about people who underwent such an operation and did suffer from it.
I was really shocked, when I saw this being reported on the news.
Not that I am so interested in archeological artifacts, but it really
is an example of the chaos in Bagdad. Why would people destroy their
own cultural heritage. This is pure vandalism.
Clitoral surgery could impair sexual function for people with
UK researchers highlight how clitoral-reduction surgery for infants
born with intersex conditions could have a substantial negative
impact on sexual functioning in adulthood.
Today, we went to my mothers places to celebrate her birthday.
Also some of my uncles and aunts came to visit my mother. Even
my brother, who lives in Belgium, came over. All my nieces and
nephews were there. In the evening we had soup and some potato
salads. Also some neighbours and an aunt joined in with the
dinner. The weather was very nice. The children played outside
most of the time, and we could sit in the back of the garden
enjoying the simple dinner. It was a perfect day, as a real
family being together day can be, where there is room for others
to join in. At one point the neighbour woman recalled how on
December 1, 2000, she biked into the
street, seeing all people outside, thought that they were their
to congratulate her with her birthday. But when she saw the faces
of the people, she immediately realized that something serious
had happened. Then she apologized for making a joke about the
day my father died. But knowbody felt it
like that, and my mother immediately went to say that he would
have been the first to laugh. This winter was not easy for my
mother, but for the most she has picked up her life and is
active as she just to be. She is still in very good health and
goes to play tennis almost every week.
Back on way home, I noticed a dove crossing the high way, when
it suddenly went for a dive to the road. In a split second, I
made an avoiding movement to the right, ending up halfway on
the emergency lane. When I looked in the mirror, I saw it
fly up. It must have missed the car by at most a feet, and
probably have been pushed aside by the air flow around the
car. Only then I realized that I not only had saved its life
but also prevent the car from being damaged. I also realized
that making the car wobble for fun in the past, allowed me
to make the manoeuvre without causing an accident. But, I hope
it will never happen again.
Is it because they just want our oil?
This morning it was 8.9 degrees Celsius outside. That promises
another nice day like yesterday.
Priceless Iraqi Archeological Artifacts Stripped By Looters.
There were no American soldiers protecting the museum. Some Iraqis
question the allocation of U.S. forces around the capital, noting
a whole company of Marines along with at least a half-dozen amphibious
assault vehicles has been assigned to guard the Oil Ministry. Many
other ministries -- including trade, information, planning, health
and education -- remain unprotected. "Why just the oil ministry?"
one Iraqi asked. "Is it because they just want our oil?"
It looks like president Bush is about making the same historical
mistake as his father, who during the first Gulf War did not eliminate
Sadaam, because he was not given the mandate to do so. Now, when the
coalition have the possibility to track down the remainments of the
Iraqi chemical weapons and Sadaams government officials in Syria, they
are hesitating again. Go for it, I would say, and save yourselves the
cost of having to deploy a large army in the 2014 in the region, unless
if you want to keep the opportunity to test your improved weapons systems
in a real war during that time.
Alarm after SARS strikes 'healthy' mentions in the section about
other developments: "After a near blackout on SARS coverage,
orchestrating a media blitz to convince its citizens to adopt healthier
lifestyles, warning against smoking and drinking, urging scrubbing of
hands after cleaning noses, and advising keeping surgical face masks
on hand just in case." It is about time that this was going to happen.
Strange that they link it up to smoking and drinking. I haven't heard
from any other source that smoking and drinking increase the chance
for getting SARS. This could give the idea that if you don't smoke
and drink, you are safe from getting SARS if you wash your hands regularly.
Yesterday morning it was 9.9 degrees Celsius. This morning it got as
high as 12.9 degrees when I went outside. Should I go to
Het Rutbeek this afternoon?. I am happy to hear that
Ali Ismail Abbas is taken care of. I hope this sets an example who
the world (the United States of America in the first place) will deal
with the many casualities in Iraq.
The two big questions
- Why does there exist something at all?
- Why am I raising these two questions?
This morning, I was watching the news, when Li-Xia carried Andy downstairs. Rather annoyed
he said "Now?", because he is only allowed to watch TV after he has finished
his drank his breakfast (yes, he still can't eat normal food). His vocabulary
is still rather limited, but I was amazed how he in the way he pronounced
the word "now" could say: "What are you doing now?".
There is a melody from Symphony no.7 "Leningrad" Op. 60 by
Dmitri Shostakovich playing through my head all the time.
I have been listing to it in the past week.
Really funny how the USA was the only country that reported the
number of suspect cases of SARS, while all the others reported
the number of probable cases. From April 20 they have started
to report probable cases as well, but still no numbers of how
many people have recovered.
To get some idea of the development of this disease have a look
Dave o'Brien from Hong Kong also has a collection of
It seems that there are some bugs in the graph software, because
it shows half cases, and not being able to deal with negative
(As of May 5, 2003, these bugs seem to have been
I am not feeling very well. Yesterday was a nice day with temperatures
as high as 22 degrees Celsius. (In the Netherlands the monday after
Eastern is a national holiday.) This morning it was 11.6 degrees
Celsius when I left from home, but it started to rain a little and
it has been cloudy since then. I am afraid temperatures will not
be so high. I watched some movies over the weekend. I saw the latter
half of Trapped in Space.
It had an interesting ending, although I did not understand everything
of it. Must be because I did not see the start of the movie. I also
watched Dark City and
The Matrix. I was
surprised about how much these movies have in common. In both movies
humans are put in an alternative reality by evil outsiders, and in
both movies these are defeated (completely or partly) by a hero who
gains some of their special abilities.
solved. Also the graph presentation has been changed
to display the number of active cases in a better way.)
CNN had an
interesting item about
Gregory Robert Smith.
An interesting read is also the story
Up Genius. Is this boy going to be a messiah?
The U.S. want to give the Iraqi people the freedom to choose
their own government, but as long as it is a democracy with
a separation of state and religion. But it seems that a large part
of the Iraqi people (and that is definitely not all) would like
to establish a Islamic state. The Christian minority in Iraq
probably is not very happy with this development. I also think
it is rather obvious that the U.S. is not going to allow Iraq to
become like Iran.
This morning it was 8.3 degrees Celsius when I left our home. In the past
week the trees outside our office (as well as many other trees and plants)
have turned green. There was some sun this morning, but now it is gone.
Updated cost of the war on Iraq
Updated cost of the war on Iraq.
It should have added an item: Number of childrens lifes that could have
been saved, instead of things like the number of televisions that could
have been bought. On the other hand, one should accept that the reality
that this world would have be a chaos without the presence of powerful
governments. And lets be fair, are you willing to donate half of your
income to the poor, and give up all the luxury that you are used to?
Everybody in the Netherlands has its own (third level) domain with a web
page. Please try the link www.Jan.Jansen.is.smerig.com.
This morning it was 16.1 degrees Celsius. About halfway biking, I took
of some clothes while waiting for a traffic light.
Democracy is not grounded on the right to vote, but on the freedom to
express your opinion without being bashed. Many Americans express their
worry that the U.S. is becoming less democratic as a result of the war.
Have a look at www.celiberal.com,
an anti-anti-war site.
Annabel wanted to take a picture of the little chestnut trees
in the back of our garden. One of them really has big leaves, but they
are still hanging down. Of the six threes that we planted last year,
five of them are having green leaves now. I think that the sixth one
did not make it.
The coalition talks of the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Liberal party
(VVD) for the formation of a new government for the Netherlands are in a
curcial phase. Earlier on
the Christian Democrats failed to form a coalition
with the Labour party (PvdA). The two parties do not have a majority of the
votes, which means they have to form a coalition with one or two other parties.
The choice is between the democratic party (D66), which wants to modernize the
goverment in an attempt to make it more democratic, and two small conservative
Christian parties. Especially the liberals (VVD) have problems with accepting
the positions that these parties hold with respect to women and gay. Today,
they have to make a choice.
A week ago, I wrote the two big questions on
the white board (in Dutch, of course). This morning, I found two
answers written below it:
- To be able to raise this question
- Because otherwise something would exist for nothing
Yesterday evening, when Annabel and I came back
from swimming lessions, I noticed that the house of our neighbours looked
quite empty. It looks like they moved out. There house had been on sale
some months ago, and I had told me that they had bought another house,
but apparently the day that they were going to move has come quicker than
I had expected. We might see the new neighbours
next tomorrow. For technical reasons houses are usually sold on the first
day of the month.
Around noon Jan Peter Balkenende, the political leader of the Christian
Democrats (CDA) announced that he had been given the mandate to continue
negotiations to form a new coalition with the liberals (VVD) and the
democratic party (D66). This to the surprise of the conservative christian
parties. In the first place because they had not been informed yet (something
the CDA made excuses about later on the day), but also because they were
given the impression that they were still the first option. Later on the
day, it also became clear that only one of the two conservative christian
parties would have partaken in the coalition, the other (the SGP) would
merely have given its support, which is important because the coalition
would only have 75 votes, exactly half of what is needed. It is interesting
to note that it was not the liberal party (VVD) expressing their choice,
but the Christian Democrats.
Today, it is "Koninginnendag" (Queens day) in the Netherlands.
In Enschede a "vrijmarkt" is held, which is a kind of collective
garage sale in the center of the city. Everyone is free to bring
things, and sell them. I went early into the city, and bought some
Later on the day, I also bought a Macintosh Performa 640 with monitor and printer for € 30
During the afternoon, I tried to do something with the rubbish I
bought, but failed to do something useful with it. I thought I could
build it into annabel,
but it did not have the right slots. An attempt to connect it to the
andy also failed. I didn't
dare to connect it to ester
yet, but maybe if my curriosity wins it from my fear to cause some
damage. I did play with the idea of taking annabel further
apart, and even had the idea of putting it against the wall in pieces.
I realized that if I want to deploy it as a combined firewall
webserver, I will need to buy some ISA compatable network cards.
The amouth of traffic that my web site get, has dropped to about one
third since last year November.
- An GTS ethernet card for € 1.
- A adaptec AHA 2940 SCSI controller with a Conner FFP1080S hard
disk (2,110,812 blocks) and a Plextor PX-43CS CD-ROM
for € 6.
next Queensday, and
Although the Performa has a 500 Mbyte harddisk (at least that is
what the previous owner told me), it doesn't seem to have much
memory. I will try to look up the specifications. I am not sure yet
whether I should be happy with the things I bought today. On one
hand, I just feel I have been wasting my money on junk.
This months interesting links
March 2003 |