Dev saved by an ex RIC man

It is documented that Éamon de Valera or Dev as he was known and his party (Fianna Fáil) turned up to take control of the Dáil (The Irish House of Parliament) having won the election in 1932. They were carrying arms as they expected opposition possibly armed. It has to be remembered that ten years earlier they had objected to the previous government an act which lead to the civil war in Ireland.

However, why they were carrying arms might not be understood within a historical context. There was anger that as some saw them the rebels who had objected to the government of the Irish Free State (as Ireland was known at that point) lead to the Irish civil war. When that war was over they threw their guns away rather than surrender them to authorities, time moved on. In 1932 they, the rebels won the vote and were poised to take control of the state. They carried weapons into the Dáil on day one as they themselves expected opposition.

My grandfather a member of the Garda Síochána at the time, told me that Dev and his party had good reason to be afraid.

The night before they took their seats in the Dáil there was a meeting of members of the Garda Síochána in the National Stadium. This meeting was very heated and was there was talk of sedition, the atmosphere was very rowdy and the situation tense. There tension rose as person after person decried the election of Finna Fáil those in the room were about were about to leave and arrest deValera and others. The air was describe as being thick with smoke and anger as it was only 10 years earlier they were at war with Dev.

An older man, a sergeant I believe, stood up at the back of the room and asked to address the floor. He was well known. The story he recounted was similar. He went on to tell his story*, he had worked in the RIC[1] and wanted to relate his story.
He recalled the day when the Free State was founded, he had gone to work one day and he was working for the Crown, later that day his allegiance was switched to the Free State. He pointed out to the assembly that, ‘… it was his job not to decide government, it was his job to carry out duties, enforcing the law of the land. It most certainly was not his place to object to the will of the people who elected a new body of people to govern.’

When the sergeant stopped, my grandfather said there was a change in the room, he never saw so many people exhale a breath and with that breath so the anger that had been building all evening died and they left to get on with their job.

Bertie as my grandfather was known to us, told me several stories all of them interesting, this one, was told to me in the nursing home he lived in a couple of months before he died.

[1]RIC This was the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force in Ireland before the creation of the Irish Free State and loyal to the British Crown. They had been involved in the fight against Irish Independence.

This story was first released on a different block I had years ago, I rewrote in 2020.

sshd running on multiple ports and other things about ssh and nginx

There are some very simple tweeks to make ssh appear on many ports.

Method one, brute force the sshd to appear on more than one port,

Port 22
Port 443

restart sshd.

Connect to it using ssh -p 443

Remove protocols you don’t need. Pick something strong and stick with it.

As protocols become weaker because of stronger computational advances leaving weak protocols in place lowers the attack boundary.

While that doesn’t guarantee you get around a firewall or filter it might get you to where you need to get to.

Need to run SSH and SSL on the same computer, NGINX is the way forward, nicely documented here:

NGINX as a proxy is a great way to reduce web services. Some time ago I used it to protect a badly configured web server from exposing bad protocols like sslv3.0 and rc4 when both of those were crazy to run.

This was faster than having someone tidy up the actual server.

The outline of a story, mathematics was most likely discovered.

Some argue about mathematics and if it is discovered or invented. I’ve held an opinion for some time that mathematical things are there to be discovered, we humans invent language and notation to describe it.

When it comes to mathematics and to explore the idea of discovery and invention we need to look around use for evidence. Case one, back to the time of Newton and Leibniz and Calculus. Today we use the notation of Leibniz to do those calculations.

The notation that both used was different and the attempt was to achieve the same measurement albeit through slightly different paths. This was about measuring the area under a curve and tangents from that curve.

From this we could claim that the area under a curve was to give itself up and surrender to our tools even if the tool sets were different.

Let’s look back further in time, lets see what we can say about numbers and that most basic of skills, counting.

Different social groupings around the planet learned to count and created number systems to deal with their needs.

Some used base 60 such as the Babylonians and some groups in South America. The decimal system was used by many other groups, perhaps something to do with hands and fingers. What we know of zero and at least one version of the decimal system was that it was used for religious purposes, that story is from the Indus valley and surrounding regions.

Some people stop counting after a few single digits and then consider all other groups of numbers to be many. Some don’t stop and get to concepts like infinity representing it as a symbol.

We should pause a moment, think of the primes, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, stopping there, there are infinitely many primes, a fact which is known since the time of Euclid circa 300 BCE.

However before we get bogged down in humans having the skills to count, how about the cicadas, those insects stay underground for for a prime number of years, seven years and then arise for six weeks and where they congregate and make so much noise that people tend to leave the areas they live in while they are around. It should be fair to say that cicadas know how to count in some way, even if they don’t use numerals as we do. They have evolved to do this thing.

Let us now head back to the numbers, people have ways to manipulate them, what people have done and some have become quite skilled with is to restate our discoveries and add to our understanding and abilities by refining the language we use.

This can be shown by the conversion of word problems into more symbolic conversations we have today, this gives a nice example of the conversion of words into symbols.

While this is no rigorous proof, it is the start of a story I’m interested in exploring at a later date.

Reading Mathematics for Fun

The reason to explore is captured in the title of R.P. Feynman’s Book: The pleasure of finding things out.

The things to explore are things that capture our thoughts and surprise us. Be that as it may, humans have evolved a reward system so that when objects strike us as pretty, perhaps a better way of saying that, is symmetric.

When in the gamut of human experience does the ability to describe things happen?

To answer this question we perhaps need first to have looked for a language to describe the world around us.

Formal description that is nouns, dogs, cats, trees, numbers, patterns all needed for the purposes of description to have a way of codify them to an acceptable level of depth.

On patterns and numbers we have abstracted relationships of things to or perhaps better said between each other.

In order to facility this exploration we have defined the knowledge of philosophy to this subject to be named mathematics.

To capture these things we humans have divided up some portions of the universe for the purpose of discussion called domains at least in the English language.

Insider the domain of mathematics there are many discrete headings;




graphy theory,

proof theory,


game theory,






set theory,

real analysis,

it also includes the study of ideas which as the infinite, the infinitesimal and many other topics, all of which fall within the domain.

Now to address the question I began with, but didn’t state as yet.

I’m asked now and again what is it I study in Mathematics, I wanted to answer this but then I decided that the word study is wrong, perhaps I don’t study, I explore small regions of some of these things and eventually perhaps I am at best a very curious onlooker.

On Learning Something New

The following quote is attributed to Richard Feynman: “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

To paraphrase this, if you want to prove something first you should try to disprove it. When you have tried everything, then perhaps, perhaps you have a new idea. It is possible that don’t have enough information, to prove yourself wrong.

When I heard this on a podcast today, I had listened to a few other podcasts about mathematics. It was either on SGU November, or Science(ish) the episode about Pi.

When I consider knowledge I tend to visualise it like wet paint on a canvas flowing but not covering all the space. Different colours representing different depths of the material. We start off with a smattering of something and then we continue to cover the canvas or move to another one and leave this idea partially known, or learning a little.

This year to date, I have painted very slowly and very sporadically for reasons not entirely within my control.

A bit of light reading

Amir D. Aczel’s book Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers

I quite enjoyed this book, the story of one man and his search for the origin of zero. It turns into a trek across south east Asia, where he crosses the barrier from Hindu Arabic numbers to something a little stranger. It appears that while in the west numbers were used for commerce, in the east they had a lot to do with mysticism.

The book follows the questions of the author as a child from the first time the questions occurred to when where somewhat answered as an adult. The story has the author travelling around the world focusing on what used to be part of the French colonial empire that they called Indochine.

The author sadly passed away in the year of publication, 2015. One of the mathematicians he references Alexander Grotendhieck died in late 2014. What isn’t referenced as it wasn’t widely known at that time is at the end of his life  Grotendhieck relented on the retraction that is mentioned in the book.

Due to the inclusion of Grothendhieck the group Bourbaki gets a mention in passing.

Three photos from a little journey

During the summer we went for a little break to the Ardmore in Waterford.

These are three photos that remind me of those warmer days.



This little beauty is a hand bellows for a firew. It is in a tiny rural pub on the outskirts of Ardmore and it still works over a hundred years since it was made.


This cast of a half penny adorns the wall of a small dining area to the rear of The Spire Cafe, in Lismore. As I remember predecimal coins this was a bit of a surprise.

However this cafe gave me even more of a surprise, when I went inside I found the meter below on a shelf and they let me take it down and place it on a table to take a photo.

In a former life I used to use analogue meters on a regular basis.

My father had one from this manufacturer when I was a very young. That was when we had lead in solder.


Sometimes you should look at the back of a thing.


Kings Of The Wyld

Kings Of The Wyld

I finished it. If you like fantasy all action books, you could to a lot worse than this. 5/5

My usual reading in fiction are more Space Opera, this is outright fantasy.  It doesn’t suffer with an over complicated story. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

It follows some good plot writing toolchains and this is a good thing.


If you need to spend some hours reading fiction, go on, treat yourself it’s great.


#kingsofthewyld #fiction #fantasy


My Favourite Mathematics Book

It is a hard a question to pick one book  to represent my favourite book. This challenge was set by person who started to organise a group of people to read mathematics books in a book club of sorts. What follows is what I wrote for them on that subject.

I’m going to exclude standard text books as they are used to practice the ideas we are playing with.
I’m going to exclude history of mathematics books, while I read them there are parts of history where I get excited, usually by thinking about how the person being discussed got to the point where they did whatever thing it was that is documented. For instance, Ian Stewart’s very nice ‘Taming the infinite the story of mathematics’, starts with the wonderful line, ‘Mathematics did not spring into being fully formed. It grew from the cumulative efforts of many people, from many cultures, who spoke many languages.’ Knowing this means that I can’t know how or why that happened to be, I can, I suppose, guess but I’ll not be certain without evidence, and then at this remove that evidence is not viewed as it was at the time, we can’t know what went on in the Babylonians minds. Frank Sweetz wrote a book titled Capitalism and Arithmetic, the new math of the 15th Century. We also know that people approximately counted seasons and years from the Mayans to the Celts through the legacy of stones in various trigonometric designs. So I will abandon these books for their distance of the journey.
This thinking has me reflecting on three of my favorite books, in the series about people, in no particular order:
Siobhan Roberts excellent book on John Conway, Genius At Play. Levels of Infinity by Hermann Weyl a collection of his essays including one on Emmy Noether, which is reason alone enough to read the book.
Lastly in a category all on it’s own Lymm Gladwell’s excellent Mathematics and Art, which if you want to characterise it you might say it is a coffee table book, it is also a nice history of mathematics but not in the style of the general history books which tend to be very much aimed at course work. It is beautifully illustrated and just a joy to dip into now and again.
This however leaves whole subsections of mathematics alone, it causes me some grief not to mention the Princeton Companion to Mathematics, edited by Timothy Gowers, or Mathematics From The Birth of Numbers, by Jan Gullberg both of which are tomes and well worth the investment. In this short survey of my shelves I’ve left out a few brilliant things, anything by the popularising group Keith Devlin, Ian Stewart, Marcus Du Sautoy.
Now comes the reason I can can’t name a single book, there is a series that takes a bit of work at times, be that as it may, you can skip the hard parts now and again and still get significant gain from working though this little set of books. It is called The Best Writing in Mathematics and it has been an annual release since 2010 edited by Pitici they are a joy in and of themselves and cover a broad swathe of the subject.
With all that in mind I think you might see why I have problems picking a single book.