Archive for January, 2013

Hurries for humans in physis

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

I was asked to comment on a blog post by particle physicist Sabine Hossenfelder about open access, however I decided to comment first on her recent post Hurdles for women in physics.


stereographic lamp

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

stereographic lamp
As the title says: a lamp showing that the stereographic image of circles are circles (or straight lines). Done by students in a seminar on mathematical models.


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The informed randform reader knows that I am a proponent of open access to (up to now) mostly publicly funded academic papers with the side remark that the full access to results with possibly hazardous implications may eventually need to be treated differently. In the randform post “petition for open acess to EU research results” MIT’s open courseware was mentioned as a good example for open access. In this article it was also mentioned that

At this point one should maybe remind the EU about the benefits of open source software and communities for their research institutions. These open initiatives are supported by individuals who contribute to the community usually in their free time.

In an older randform post: focus and context, part IVa: Codes and context, based on an observation by Aaron Swartz, it was mentioned that this engagement depends on the overall living conditions of that individuals.

Given MITs engagement in open access I was now shocked to hear that MIT was apparently involved in charges against Aaron Swartz, which were made because of his release of JSTOR documents. I didn’t know that the charges could have brought him 35 years in prison – I had viewed the JSTOR-release rather as an act of a kind of civil disobedience. I also didn’t know about his apparently rather strong depressions, in fact I never met him, not even communicated with him. I am shocked and very sad to hear about Aaron Swartz suicide. My consolations to his family.
I find it quite evident that such exorbitant charges contributed to his overall psychic condition and the role of the involved institutions and people sheds no good light on them.

Nevertheless in general I think it may be important to speak out about depressions and other comorbidities of academic life (and maybe also other lifes under pressure).

But speaking out alone may – so sad and heart-wrenching – not be enough.

Thus as a consequence of Aaron Swartz death Ian Gent and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson (via Sarah Kendrew) opened a blog called depressedacademics:

So that’s why I’m starting this blog. Academics should have a place to see other people’s stories. To see that it’s ok to be depressed. To see that it’s normal. To comment and discuss if they want. And to share resources on depression, whether related to academia or not.

…where I am not sure wether it is really good and normal to be depressed. It should also be pointed out that speaking openly out in public about disorders and sicknesses should probably made only by individuals in secure social conditions. Being open about that topic may have severe consequences on your health insurance, occupational disability insurance, work and carrier opportunities etc.

As a side note: There may be a blog freeze on randform. That is my MAC seemed to have died now for sure and I am currently writing on a borrowed one. The laptop made suddenly only more 3 beeps while trying to boot, a signal which means “no good banks”.

German TAX reloaded

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Der deutsche Text in diesem Post ist nach dem Link:

Read the rest of this entry »

As described in the last german TAX post I was trying to get information about german income taxes, in particular I wanted to get the concrete formulas. I asked via at the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: BPB) for that information, since they have a webpage about income taxes. This page however cited only a little phrase, with the names of the different income zones before I wrote the letter, but luckily it got meanwhile at least a little revamped. However the page still doesn’t show the formulas, moreover it is not very up-to-date. In addition the BPB was not only not able to help me with my request, but I was told that:

” In Bezug auf weitere steuerrechtliche Auskünfte bitte ich Sie, von Anfragen bei der bpb Abstand zu nehmen, weil wir definitiv nicht dafür zuständig sind.”

(translation without guarantee: with regard to further tax law requests I ask you to precind from sending further requests to BPB, because we are definitly not in charge for this.)

I should maybe also mention that I asked a representative of the ministry of economics for the formulas, who said I should ask a tax consultant.
As already said in the comment at I had then finally found formulas for the taxes 2010-2012 (after a long search). The formulas are on the site of the ministry for finance with the taxcalculator and you can get the formulas if you type in any income, and then hit the button “BERECHNEN”. I couldnt however find the formulas for the original draft for the taxes for 2013 from February last year, neither the formulas for the new draft as of december 12 last year for the taxes for 2013. Mr. Liebig, who runs the website had however found them and had included the numbers on his site, so I wrote him an email and asked him for the links.
I have meanwhile got an answer from Mr. Liebig who had kindly send me the links via email.

A document which describes the taxes for the upcoming year, as of 121212 is at the website of the Bundesrat.

A document which was the old draft for the 2013 taxes and which was intended to mitigate the impact of higher taxes due to BRACKET CREEP is at

I meanwhile included the new numbers into the formulas. Details (in german) and the mathics code can be found after the click.

The result in short: If I didn’t miscalculate then there are tax reductions of 8-24 Euros/year for the incomes above 13500 Euros per year. For incomes of 8100 Euro to 13500 Euros there is a tax increase of about 15 Euros/per year. The procentual bracket creep (not sure wether this is called this way, please look at formulas) is for 6% income increase maximaly about 2.5%, for 2% income increase it is about 0.8%.


au courant au courant

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

the post au courant got a little addition in order to make it more au courant.

german taxlaws

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I am currently spending too much time with trying to get informations about
german tax laws. If you speak german you can read the discussions at, which sofar ended up with me writing an Income-tax calculator for 2012 (see image), which you can use at without any guarantee of wether the calculations are correct.


Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Some friend must have forgotten his/her keyring on our kitchen table. For those who have visited us: Please have a look at the images after the “read the rest of the entry” and let us know wether you miss it.


happy new year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013