World Cup Odds

June 18, 2018

Already after just the first 4 days, matches are blurring into each other. The scheduling and time differences across the venues makes it possible to watch every match. I am planning to restrict myself to just the second halves to avoid burn-out.

Brazil and Germany didn’t live up to their odds. Mexico and Switzerland did well but the only team so far which has done significantly better than expected has been Russia.

A World Cup without Italy. I will not miss their usual boring play in the group rounds but the knock-out section will be the poorer for their absence.

No reason for any drastic change to the odds but the chances of a non-favourite winning are rising.



My next computer will not have Windows 10

June 17, 2018

Just a rant since I am currently very irritated by Microsoft and Windows.

Microsoft’s intrusiveness is growing. Especially since Windows 10.

It was always high but it is now getting ridiculous. I receive this and similar messages almost every hour. If it is not shared experiences settings it is the App store settings. The advertisements on their Solitaire package are inane and incessant. I do not wish to share my experiences with Microsoft so that they can get even more intrusive.

I am beginning to get warnings about my hard disk so I will probably need to replace this 6 year old laptop within 6 months.

It will not be Windows 10 next time.

Image result for imac

I don’t have the patience or the concentration any longer to set up Linux. The alternatives such as Chrome O/S or Syllable are far too esoteric for me.  I am told that there are other alternatives in descendants of UNIX, OS/2, BeOS and DOS but those too are beyond my touch.

Which probably therefore means an iMac.



When “democracy” becomes a religion, excellence has no value

June 16, 2018

Though no country is truly “democratic”, I am afraid that “democracy” is becoming a religion. It is being forgotten that “democracy” is merely a tool to enable a society to function well smoothly. But the goodness of any system depends upon minorities getting along with majorities.

As practised most “democracies” all exhibit limitations on who gets to vote, on who gets elected and on how far majorities are allowed to suppress minorities. They are all autocratic to a greater or lesser degree. Politicians represent parties rather than their constituencies. Even where they try to represent their voters, that advocacy is limited by their party allegiances. Heads of government are granted varying levels of autocratic freedoms. Some Presidents and Prime Ministers and Chancellors effectively are Kings – for a time. The test of goodness lies in whether it allows society to function, not in achieving a state of sanctity.

My fear is that the new religion of the twentieth century is some glorified, sanctimonious vision of a “democracy”. Holy crusades are being conducted in the name of this religion where heretical nations are subject to regime change – by force if necessary. This religion is now one where the mediocre is exalted, where the pursuit of excellence is castigated as non-democratic and elitism, where majority opinion replaces being correct. Right and wrong are replaced by majority view and minority view. To “follow” the mediocrity of the majority has become more important than to “lead” towards aspirations.

Democracy as a religion is, in fact – opposed to excellence or the search for excellence.



Rolls Royce plagued by Trent 1000 compressor durability issues

June 14, 2018

Rolls Royce had a bunch of teething problems with the Trent 900 (for the Airbus 380) which seem to have been largely fixed though they spent at least $300 million to replace faulty engines. Maintenance costs are turning out much higher than anticipated.

The Trent 1000 for the Dreamliner however has been plagued by issues through its entire design and testing cycle (and a prototype engine even exploded on its test bed in 2010). Both the Dreamliner and the Trent 1000 took much longer to reach the production stage than anticipated and the development programmes were under severe pressure to fix problems as they occurred. Certainly some long-term issues would have been pushed back to be fixed at a later time (fingers crossed). Two years ago ANA replaced all 100 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners.  At that time it was cracking and corrosion of turbine blades. Now it seems to be “durability issues” in the IP compressor.

This Trent 1000 “fix” could be much more expensive for Rolls Royce than the Trent 900 fixes. According to the FT, “Existing issues will already cost the group some £750m up to 2019 and potentially a further £200m after that.”


Rolls-Royce has identified another durability issue in its Trent 1000 series engines, this time involving the intermediate pressure compressor in the Package B version. The variant has flown in service on Boeing 787s since 2012 and consists of 166 engines. The engine company said it has agreed with regulatory authorities to carry out a one-time inspection of the Package B fleet to “further inform” its understanding of the problem.

Rolls added that it expects the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an airworthiness directive in “the coming days,” resulting in “limited impact” on customer operations.

“We are committed to eliminating this intermediate pressure compressor [IPC] durability issue from the Trent 1000 fleet and we have already successfully run a redesigned Package C IPC in a development engine,” said Rolls-Royce in a June 11 statement. “As a precautionary measure we have also launched a redesign of the relevant part in the Package B engine as well as in the Trent 1000 Ten engine, where, although currently a young fleet, we have not seen any examples of reduced IPC durability.” 

In April Rolls-Royce advised operators that its Trent 1000 Package C engine would require more inspections than previously planned to address premature wear of compressor blades, a problem that first came to light in 2016. The company reported that it had delivered 380 Package C engines, powering some 25 percent of all Boeing 787s in service. The majority passed inspection and therefore continues to fly, according to a Rolls-Royce spokesman who declined to enumerate “majority.”

The UK aero-engine company said in late May that it would accelerate the development of the permanent fix to the IPC rotor issue on Package C engines and that it had installed a revised compressor blade in an engine scheduled for testing this month. “We aim to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned,” Rolls-Royce civil aerospace president Chris Cholerton said.

Rolls also said it had begun speeding the development of the new blade and a dedicated facility in Derby to build engines on which it will test it. It also developed new on-wing inspection techniques to support airlines in meeting the requirements of the airworthiness directives “as quickly and efficiently as possible,” it said. 

Cholerton admitted Rolls-Royce expects the number of aircraft affected “to rise in the short term, as the deadline for the completion of initial inspections approaches,” though it remains tight-lipped on the actual numbers. “We are not confirming number of aircraft grounded,” the spokesman said.

slide – Rolls Royce


Trumpophobia or “Dump-on-Trump Syndrome” (DTS)

June 13, 2018

The establishment and the establishment media have been reviling Donald Trump for almost 4 years now. Initially it was to try and ensure that Hillary Clinton was elected President. Now Trump has been President for 18 months and the automatic, instant reviling of Trump on any subject and any issue continues. The fervour  is getting feverish and reflects more on the revilers than on the “revilee”.

But what the media missed before the election – and is still missing – is that Trump revels in the headlines. Any publicity is good publicity for him. There has not been a single day in his 500 days in office when he has not been in the headlines. The instant and largely reflex – but thoughtless – opposition is manifested as a global phobia among the liberal/left (where a phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”).

In years to come, Trumpophobia or the “Dump on Trump” syndrome will be studied as a classic example of mass irrationality or a mass political psychosis. Just his name seems to cause brain freeze among those afflicted with the phobia. But the affliction is debilitating. It causes otherwise rational people to sound and act like imbeciles.

But the reality is that no matter how much Trump is held in contempt or reviled or hated, his cavalier approach to government and to diplomacy has shaken the world out of its complacent, self-adulatory comfort zone.

Whatever his popularity or otherwise, history will show that Trump caused a much-needed correction to the self-admiring, self-righteous, sanctimony that was – and still is – suffocating the world.


Pareto’s 80/20 rule is ubiquitous

June 11, 2018

I first came across and learned to use the Pareto principle in the 70s as a young engineer. It was the starting point for fault analysis of any kind.  Root cause analysis always started with a “Pareto diagram”. It was an extremely powerful tool not only for fault analysis but also then in all quality improvement actions.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causesWikipedia

Pareto showed in 1896 that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and thus was born the 80/20 rule. It has now become almost a cliche in all business processes and in financial and economic analysis to describe the relationship where a minority of causes lead to a majority of the result.

The 80-20 rule is a business rule of thumb that states that 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of all causes for a given event. In business, the 80-20 rule is often used to point out that 80% of a company’s revenue is generated by 20% of its total customers. Therefore, the rule is used to help managers identify and determine which operating factors are most important and should receive the most attention based on an efficient use of resources.Investopedia

The 80/20 rule seems to apply in almost all fields. It applies in wealth distribution, in personal and public finance, in all kinds of manufacturing, in quality control, in experimentation and in disease control.

It is not perhaps so surprising.

Wherever a phenomenon is subject to a power-law probability distribution, the 80/20 rule will apply, and a power-law probability distribution is perhaps the most common form of probability distribution that occurs in nature and in man-made processes. Put differently it is not at all surprising.

Of all the possible causes of an observed effect, a minority of the possible causes are usually responsible for a majority of the observed effect.

Perhaps we should be surprised only if the 80/20 “rule” does not apply. The “20%” and the “80%” should be taken as symbols for a “minority” and a “majority” respectively and then the 80/20 rule is ubiquitous.


Trump schools the G7 (or Merkel wants her pen back)?

June 11, 2018

Alternative titles for this image.

  • A schoolmaster facing down a bunch of naughty children, or
  • G7 gang face stubborn Trump, or
  • Merkel wants her pen back, or 
  • Trump schools the G7

One may not like Trump but the message is sound.

  1. Real Free trade without subsidies and selective protectionism as in the EU or Canada or Japan.
  2. Ignoring Russia is pointless. Time for Russia to return to the G8
  3. Don’t waste time and energy on “global warming” talking shops.

Murderous numbers

June 10, 2018

Globally the annual homicide rate is between 6 and 7 per 100,000 of population and this varies from less than 1/100,000 in many countries but up to 80/100,000 in El Salvador. In the US it is 4-5/100,000 and over 12 in Russia and around 20 in Mexico. There are therefore around 450,000 intentional homicides committed every year. To put this into some perspective, road fatalities globally are around 18/100,000 (1.26 million deaths). Around 56 million people die every year so as a cause of death, murders make up less than 1% of all deaths (and traffic related deaths are about 2%).

Assuming conservatively that each murderer commits less than 1.1 homicides, the world produces around 410,000 “new” murderers every year. While murderers come in all shapes and sizes and genders and ages, it is not unreasonable to assume that every murderer lives, on for around 35 years after committing his/her murder(s).

There are therefore over 14 million murderers living among the world’s 7 billion people. 




Swedish Political Mathematics

June 5, 2018

The Swedish General Election is coming in September. The traditional parties are being confounded by the growth of the Sweden Democrats. The Social Democrats are particularly upset that even though their immigration policy now is almost identical with what the Sweden Democrats have proposed in the past, they are losing support. The Greens (Environmental Party) have no soul, very little sense and are an irritation and an irrelevance. The Centre Party is moving left, does not know what it is and has an identity crisis. The Left (Vänster) are die hard Marxists who have camouflaged themselves.

Any combination of parties which can command 45% of the votes will be able to form a government. In some circumstances with a split opposition 40% may be enough. My gut feeling is that the country would accept a Grand Coalition between the Moderates and the Social Democrats but a coalition of the Moderates with the Sweden Democrats would need another 5%+ party to support.

It makes an interesting mathematical puzzle.


History is always a few documented events connected by speculation

June 1, 2018

History is  a narrative of the past, a story. It must be a story consistent with the present and with the available evidence of past events. The further back into the past we go the less is the surviving evidence. Evidence of a past event may be direct in the form of surviving documents or artefacts but it may also be indirect as calculations and estimates in the now about the past. The credibility of the narrative is enhanced by the weight of evidence that can be marshalled but – of necessity – the available evidence for past events , even in the immediate past,  is always spotty and incomplete. Where evidence is not available the historian is free to speculate as long as his narrative includes those events for which evidence does exist and the entire narrative is credible.

Most events in our lives are not recorded and leave no evidence. Even where evidence of actions remain, the prevailing emotions are rarely recorded. The actions of minor players, even if they were crucial, are rarely recorded. Much of what I did yesterday can be remembered but cannot be “proven”. And much of what I did yesterday is already forgotten. For periods without evidence (or memory) any credible narrative is valid.

Histories are never as objective and dispassionate and free of bias as their authors suppose. They are always written and rewritten to suit the present.  Inevitably they carry the current prejudices and biases of the historian. They are often written with a political agenda to justify current actions or to influence the actions of the future. Many histories, for example of Rome, which survive are themselves “rewritten histories” with political bias inbuilt. Yet when they are used as “documentation” for subsequent histories, the speculation of their authors are elevated to be “documented events”.

The actual happenings of the past can never be changed. But the story of those happenings is always changeable as long as the narrative remains credible. The credibility lies primarily in not making statements which are contradicted by the available evidence. From the recent past (such as WW 2) there is an abundance of records of varying accuracy available. Some of the records are intended disinformation where the intention has been lost. Other records are inconsistent or even contradictory. From the distant past there is a paucity of evidence which necessitates a great deal of interpretation and reinterpretation.  Socialist historians bring their prejudices to bear and “free market” historians have their own interpretations.. Liberal historians in the US are rewriting the history of the age of slavery based on their values today. Nationalist historians in India are reinterpreting colonial times based on their current values. A false history written today may a thousand years hence, if it survives, become “documentary evidence” of events which never took place. Histories are written in the present for the present and as long they are credible, what actually happened is irrelevant.

History scholars like to pretend that they can be objective. Scholarly histories and historical fiction are essentially the same genre of literature. A scholarly history has a high density of documented events and a minimum of speculation. But any scholarly work cannot avoid speculation and cannot avoid being political. Historical fiction on the other hand has some story to tell which is hung on a few historical events as the backdrop for the story. The difference lies only in how much of the content is speculation and how much is a reporting of documented events. Whereas historical fiction can tolerate content being contradicted by evidence, scholarly histories cannot.



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