Category Archives: Rant

Greenpeace has gone nuts

Quoting from the german “Spiegel” from here

“Während sich die Experten des Weltklimarates den Kopf über Maßnahmen gegen den Klimawandel zerbrechen, leistet sich Deutschland als einziges Industrieland der Welt weiterhin unbeschränkte und CO2-treibende Raserei”, sagte Wolfgang Lohbeck, Verkehrsexperte von Greenpeace. Es sei ein ungeheurer Zynismus, dass Minister Tiefensee ein Tempolimit blockiere. “Er verantwortet damit Jahr für Jahr Hunderte von zusätzlichen Verkehrstoten, Tausende von Verletzten und mehrere Millionen Tonnen Treibhausgase. Da die zuständigen Politiker bisher immer nur reden, wird Greenpeace jetzt handeln!”


Laut Greenpeace würde ein Tempolimit eine unmittelbare Verringerung des CO2-Ausstoßes um etwa neun Prozent auf deutschen Straßen mit sich bringen. Greenpeace setzt sich dafür ein, dass Hersteller Autos auf den Markt bringen, die weniger Sprit verbrauchen – wenn keine hohen Geschwindigkeiten mehr erlaubt seien, steige auch der Anreiz bei den Herstellern, weniger auf umweltschädigende Autos zu setzen, hieß es bei der Umweltorganisation.

In essence, Greenpeace doesn’t like politicians discussing matters to long – in this instance – speed limitations and has decided to put up their own road signs limiting the maximum speed on the famous German Autobahns to 120km/h. Now, am I missing something or, are they trying to abolish democracy (and freedom while we are at it?).

Reason, CO2 emissions could be reduced by a whopping 9% on the road (note: in my opinion that’s far, far less then a 1% overall reduction) and if there are low speed limits car manufacturers can concentrate on low emissions and low fuel consumption rather then speed. Nice thinking overall, I’ve got to admit. Oh wait, it might not be that good after all. What about American Cars? In the US the speed limits are quite low, actually a good deal lower then in good old Europe and yet they are fuel guzzling monsters.

1200-year-old problem ‘easy’

Oh, for once this is the BBC at it’s virtual best. Lot’s and lot’s of none sense published for whatever reasons no human will ever understand. The article tells us about Dr. James Anderson, from the University of Reading’s computer science department, and is subtitled Schoolchildren in Caversham have become the first in the country to learn about a new number – ‘nullity’ – which solves maths problems neither Newton nor Pythagoras could conquer. Now if that isn’t something.

So here are some quotes from the article.

The theory of nullity is set to make all kinds of sums possible that, previously, scientists and computers couldn’t work around.

“We’ve just solved a problem that hasn’t been solved for twelve hundred years – and it’s that easy,” proclaims Dr Anderson having demonstrated his solution on a whiteboard at Highdown School, in Emmer Green.
– Quote 1 from the article

Computers simply cannot divide by zero. Try it on your calculator and you’ll get an error message.

But Dr Anderson has come up with a theory that proposes a new number – ‘nullity’ – which sits outside the conventional number line (stretching from negative infinity, through zero, to positive infinity).
– Quote 2 from the article

The only valuable thing about all this is one comment, although poorly formatted, by Kurt Fitzner – in my opinion at least.

The “problem” of a computer with divide-by-zero errors is not a problem, it’s a feature. It’s not something you need to or even want to fix. You could easily design a computer that doesn’t have an error in that situation if that’s what you want. Replacing the error condition with a new symbol accomplishes nothing. The program still has to deal with the issue in order to present a real-world result to the user. A divide-by-zero error is the way programs do that. It’s easy to solve a “problem” when you’re the architect of the definition of the problem in the first case. Dr. Anderson first defines a problem: calculators and computers throw an error when you try to divice by zero, and then defines an artificial solution – but the problem was artificial in the first place. We’ve all run into poorly designed programs that don’t handle divide-by-zero errors properly and crash. This isn’t a problem of dividing by zero, this is a problem of a computer program not handling its data properly. We’ve also all run into programs that attempt to reference a null pointer. By the same reasoning, we could define the memory that a “null pointer” points to as some new type of virtual space called “nullspace” (trekies should appreciate my resistance to the temptation to call it “subspace”), and call it valid. Make the computer such that reading from “nullspace” always returns a null. Suddenly no programs crash from dereferencing a null pointer any more. It doesn’t mean that the program is going to now do something useful. It probably means it will end up displaying garbage to the user, hanging in an infinite loop, or branching off to never never land. As far as it goes mathematically, there’s nothing you can do with nullity on paper that you can’t do by simply leaving it as (0/0) in the equation. So from either approach (mathematically or from a computer science perspective), it’s nonsense. The author’s own response to some of the critics (or, I should say, alleged response) doesn’t help my opinion. Tossing out the names of two other Ph.Ds and offering vague references to undescribed “axioms” built around this new symbol all reinforce my opinion that Doctor Anderson sounds precisely like the character Robert from the movie “Proof”.
– Kurt Fitzner

N.B. I noticed to late that you can do whatever you want to the formatting of the comments on BBC, the cut the newlines out of it. In that regard – sorry Kurt.

New kind of German foreign policy

They did it again – yet again I might say. According to a BBC article Charlotte Knoblauch made the statement that to her Ahmadinejad was a second Hitler. Now how clever is that? If you want to punch something through in Germany, remind the people of how bad Hitler was, and boom, they are going to support you.

Do not allow yourself to believe me straight on. Go and read a bit about how they deal with certain problems and you’ll see. I’d like to quote “Hermann Göring” right here and now:

Once in German and once in English (both quotes “reading” the same).

“Natürlich, das einfache Volk will keinen Krieg […] Aber schließlich sind es die Führer eines Landes, die die Politik bestimmen, und es ist immer leicht, das Volk zum Mitmachen zu bringen, ob es sich nun um eine Demokratie, eine faschistische Diktatur, um ein Parlament oder eine kommunistische Diktatur handelt. […] das Volk kann mit oder ohne Stimmrecht immer dazu gebracht werden, den Befehlen der Führer zu folgen. Das ist ganz einfach. Man braucht nichts zu tun, als dem Volk zu sagen, es würde angegriffen, und den Pazifisten ihren Mangel an Patriotismus vorzuwerfen und zu behaupten, sie brächten das Land in Gefahr. Diese Methode funktioniert in jedem Land.” – in einem Interview mit Gustave Gilbert in seiner Gefängniszelle, 18. April 1946

Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”
Gilbert: “There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”
Göring “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Now, back to the topic. So technically there are 2 points of criticism. And while I do not try to protect Ahmadinejad, I have to say that the way in which Knoblauch made her points is strictly unacceptable. First of, being positioned at a somewhat higher and by there important rank, saying whatever goes through your head without thinking first of what accusations you are actually going to make, is a very bad thing. Acting in such a way proves, in my opinion only of course, that such a person has no right to be in the position he or she may be in.

How come, first of all, that it still isn’t allowed to say that the Holocaust did never take place? Sure, to me and I’d say most of the world it did. And sure enough it was a tremendously bad thing, horrible not to say. But still. What on earth is the problem if somebody goes ahead and says that it didn’t exist, take place, and whatnot? I just can’t understand the problem the German governement and society seems to have with this situation.

Not allowing to speak once mind is a crime. Speaking something unrightful isn’t – and it will never be. At least to me.

Now then. Next point. Apparently – and I am quoting the BBC here – Mr Ahmadinejad has described the Holocaust as a “myth” and said Israel should be “wiped off the map”.. Again, I can not protect or respect his reasoning. But why oh why is saying something similar to that sentence a problem? Of course the idea of somebody speaking rubbish – which applied to Knoblauch – applies to Ahmadinejad as well – no doubt about that. But again, why is it a problem if somebody makes such a statement?

I can not grok it – I’d like to say.

The main problem to me however, isn’t the remarks both of those people made. No. It is the way some of the German politician answer and reacted. I’ll quote the BBC again: “Several groups plan to participate in a demonstration against Mr Ahmadinejad on Sunday, including the Israeli cultural organisation and exiled Iranian dissident groups. [...] Bavaria’s Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein plans to join the demonstration. [...] “If he were to come, we, as Germans, must make it very clear that he is not wanted here,” Mr Beckstein said.

First of – who is he (Mr. Beckstein) to tell the people who most probably voted for him, what they have to do? Is he a part of the executive and the legislatural force of the country? Who is he, to assume that his view of the situation was to be mirrored by all of his people?

Then there is the demonstration. I have no problems with the Israeli organisation protesting, or the Iranian dissident groups, and whoever would like to be a part of it. I have a problem with the sentence “Bavaria’s Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein plans to join the demonstration. That hurts. If Beckstein plans to join the demonstration he shall very well do so – as a private citizen. Using his position in the political and social ladder to accentuate his position should – in my opinion again – be outlawed.

Ah well. What shall I say…

Google Talk

I am wondering at the moment what is best to be done. Technically I think that it is bad that Google is gaining more and more power on the net. Do not get me wrong, I basically do not have anything against Google, my concern is that Google might end up like Microsoft, and I do not like the position Microsoft is in at the moment.

Anyhow. My question is as follows. Is it a good thing to promote Google Talk or is it not? I mean, even though Google is definitely on the way to gain a huge amount of power – they are relying on an open standard, even if at the moment it still isn’t possible to sent a message from the “normal” Jabber network to Google Talk – isn’t is better to promote a “by standard” open network as Google Talk over the closed ones like for instance OSCAR2 (AOL and ICQ) or MSN?

Do you think that using Google Talk is any better than ICQ, AIM or MSN?

At the moment I still do not know. I think however that I tend towards the alternative of recommending Google Talk. We’ll see…