|Comments for Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015
thru Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015:
Friday, February 27, 2015 - Okay. In case anyone is interested, I just finished the third draft of my second sci-fi novel. Here are the stats:
I have absolutely nothing clear in my mind about the third book in the series - other than that it will involve the same main characters and the same "gizmo" device they used to solve mysteries in the first two books. So, I'll probably do my taxes before I even start thinking about the third book's story.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 - Yee Gad! Now I have to learn how my new cell phone works! I can make a call with it, but there seem to be a lot of other functions available to me. I tried taking a picture with it, but, instead of getting a picture, and I appear to have gotten a movie of me lowering the camera AFTER taking the picture. I don't know how to transfer pictures I take with it to my laptop. And I'm supposed to be working on my book instead of figuring out all these things. The instructions don't help much. They seem to assume you already know how to do a lot of basic functions and what all the terms mean.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - I watched the movie "Whiplash" last night. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but won "only" the Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Supporting Actor Oscars. It has also won 69 other awards. I found it watchable, but definitely not my cup of tea. I just couldn't believe that any musician would put up with so much verbal abuse from a music instructor, or that any music instructor would delve out so much verbal abuse to his students. But, maybe drum players are different. I recall some joke about other jazz musicians going out for a smoke during the drum solo, but I don't recall exactly how the joke went. During the final drum solo in the movie, I was tempted to go out for a smoke - even though I don't smoke. I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, but the movie ended before the audience applauded the final drum solo. So, it was kind of a mystery: Did the audience applaud, or were they all stupefied into unconsciousness?
Meanwhile, I have once again reached the last chapter of my second sci-fi novel. The third draft of the book is 40,531 words without the last chapter. It's 42,551 words with the 2nd draft of the last chapter. So, it's just a matter of figuring out the best way to wrap up the story. The mystery is solved, the adventure is over, and all that remains is for the personal issues between the main characters to be resolved satisfactorily. I'm still not certain of the best way to do that. What I wrote in the second draft was definitely NOT the best I can do.
Also meanwhile, I just entered the cell phone era. I bought a cell phone for $8 and 90 days worth of calling service for $19.99, or about $6.67 per month. I don't really have any need for a cell phone, but it will provide some "peace of mind" while driving my 22-year-old car around in a cold Wisconsin winter. I've also made up my mind to get a newer car as soon as the weather conditions improve.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - This morning, an interesting new book became available for me to borrow from my local library. So, I downloaded into my Kindle "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, which was a New York Times bestseller back in 2011. One of Amazon's reviewers wrote:
"The first observation, giving the title to the book, is that eons of natural selection gave us the ability to make a fast reaction to a novel situation. Survival depended on it. So, if we hear an unnatural noise in the bushes, our tendency is to run. Thinking slow, applying human logic, we might reflect that it is probably Johnny coming back from the Girl Scout camp across the river bringing cookies, and that running might not be the best idea. However, fast thinking is hardwired."So, "fast thinking" is "natural" and "hardwired." Slow thinking is neither. "Fast thinking" means reacting out of fear and assuming what we fear most is what's happening. "Slow thinking" means analyzing the situation and figuring out logically what is most likely true. "Slow thinking" is evidently a relatively rare and a very unnatural process.
If the slow thinker turns out to be right, the social problem seems to be to convince the fast thinker that he was mistaken. But, to do that you have to get him to admit he was wrong. Somehow, I don't think the book is going to tell me how to do that. But, it might give me some new ammunition for arguments.
Monday, February 23, 2015 (B) - I see in the news that "Birdman" won the Best Picture Oscar last night. It hasn't yet come out on DVD, so I haven't yet seen it, although it looks like "my kind of movie." I recorded the Oscar Show on my DVR last night, and watched a little over half of it before it was time to go to bed. I'll watch the rest tonight (skipping over the commercials and most acceptance speeches, of course).
I'd rented "BoyHood" from RedBox on Feb. 10. I don't know if I can explain why, but it wasn't my "cup of tea." I couldn't sit through it, and I turned it off after about 45 minutes. Last week, I watched "Lucy," which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I made a note to buy the DVD when the price drops to $5 or less. On that same night, I watched "St. Vincent," which was also enjoyable, but not enjoyable enough so for me to want to plan to see it again. The next evening I watched "The Homesman," which was also very good, but again not good enough for me to want to by the DVD and watch again a year or so from now.
The next evening (Thursday evening), I let my curiosity get the better of me and I rented "The Interview." It started out somewhat better than expected (I truly expected the worst), but I still had to give up on it after about 45 minutes. I decided it wasn't my "cup of tea" when Seth Rogan's character was being asked to shove a flashlight-size "satellite" filled with poison up his ass in order to hide if from the North Koreans who were hunting for him. I had no interest in seeing whether he actually did it or not. Nor did I want to suffer through the rest of the movie just to satisfy my curiosity. I wasn't that curious.
Monday, February 23, 2015 (A) - My heart really sank yesterday when the touch pad stopped working and I couldn't find any way to turn it on again. This morning, however, after going through my morning chores of getting statistics and checking web sites, I pulled the mouse transmitter tab out of the USB socket to see if the touch pad would turn on -- and IT DID. And the "two finger scroll" functions were working, too.
The "facts and evidence" appear to indicate that things have to happen in some particular order, or the touch pad won't work. I just need to figure out what things and what order. I.e., I need to collect more "facts and evidence."
I keep wondering if there isn't something that nearly everyone else in the world knows about turning on laptop computers that I don't know. I also wonder if some electronic devices aren't getting so complex that even the people who designed and built them can't be certain that some person like me won't do things differently and nothing will work. Is it "normal" to turn on the mouse before opening the computer? Did the manufacturer account for someone having a second monitor that uses a different power source than the computer?
I'm using "the scientific method" to try to figure out the pattern that will make the touch pad work every time I disconnect the mouse. My current working hypothesis is that there is such a pattern. But, it's "possible" that I could be wrong and something totally random is happening. I'm using my new interactive blog to write down the steps I go through each time I turn on the computer with plans to test the touch pad. Click HERE for the latest entry.
Sunday, February 22, 2015 - "DXer" from Lew Weinstein's blog is still attempting to post meaningless and irrelevant information to my old interactive blog without explanation. He complains that I don't correct my mistakes, but he won't explain what "mistake" he's talking about, nor will he explain why he considers what I wrote to be a "mistake." Instead, he just continues attempting to post his silly, meaningless, irrelevant information as if it is some holy writing that reveals everything. All it "reveals," however, is that he cannot or will not explain anything.
The reason for that seems obvious to me: If he tried to explain something, it would immediately become clear he has nothing but beliefs to use as glue to put two and two together. He truly believes that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001, and he apparently cannot comprehend why the FBI (and I) do not believe has he believes.
Facts and evidence mean absolutely nothing to him. He seems to believe that the FBI's "facts and evidence" against Dr. Bruce Ivins are nothing more than contrary beliefs about the known "facts and evidence." And it's really all just a matter of which "facts and evidence" a person chooses to believe. DXer chooses to believe the right "facts and evidence." The FBI and I choose to believe the wrong "facts and evidence." That's all there is to it.
It seems that, in his mind, other people also have "facts and evidence" showing that the CIA was behind the anthrax attacks, other people also have "facts and evidence" that Jews were behind the attacks, other people also have "facts and evidence" that Saddam Hussein was behind the anthrax attacks, and still other people have "facts and evidence" that their next door neighbor was behind the anthrax attacks.
DXer appears to believe he has "facts and evidence" which show that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks - specifically that Yazid Sufaat made the anthrax powders, that Mohamed Atta wrote the letters and addressed the envelopes, and that Adnan el-Shukrijumah put the anthrax-laden letters into that mailbox in New Jersey. And he appears to believe that if the FBI were to dig further into the case, they would find undeniable "facts and evidence" which would prove beyond any doubt that his beliefs are true and that Bruce Ivins was totally innocent. It's just a simple matter of finding the "facts and evidence" which agree with his beliefs and would convince everyone. Such "facts and evidence" must be out there somewhere. The FBI just needs to look harder.
Like others, DXer will argue that the FBI once had "facts and evidence" that Steven Hatfill was the anthrax mailer. That is a false argument, but DXer seems to believe it. And many others do, also. So, to those people that is "evidence" that "facts and evidence" really mean nothing.
DXer repeatedly cites the NAS study which supposedly showed that the "facts and evidence" which prove that the attack spores came from flask RMR-1029 are unreliable "facts and evidence." To DXer (and some scientists and others), it's quite possible that Yazid Sufaat isolated an anthrax strain from local bacteria in Afghanistan, and the Bacillus anthracis strain turned out to be an exact match to the Ames strain found in Texas. It's also quite possible that during the process of growing a sufficient amount of anthrax spores to use in the anthrax attacks, Yazid Sufaat - through pure happenstance - duplicated all the morphological variants ("morphs") found in the attack powders and in flask RMR-1029. And as "witnesses," DXer will cite scientists who agree that the FBI's linking the attack powders to flask RMR-1029 is not conclusively proven beyond any doubt.
So, facts and evidence mean nothing.
How does one argue against that kind of reasoning? To prove DXer wrong to his satisfaction, it is necessary to "prove the negative," i.e., you must prove that it is totally impossible for him to be correct.
In the worlds of science, the courts and criminal investigations, that is not how things are done.
In the world of science, the investigator presents all the facts and evidence which prove his conclusion, and others try to find flaws which disprove the conclusion. If they cannot, then the conclusion stands as a "proven fact." Any "scientist" who argues that it is still "possible" that there a different conclusion that can be reached is just wasting everyone's time. Everyone understands that. But without BETTER facts and evidence to prove that a different conclusion is the BEST conclusion, there is nothing to discuss or argue about. They know that arguing possibilities is usually just a waste of time. Scientists are only interested in what the facts and evidence mean.
In the worlds of the courts and criminal investigations, the prosecutor presents facts and evidence which prove a conclusion. If the jury (or the judge in a non-jury case) accepts the evidence as sufficient, then the prosecutor's conclusion is proven. If they find that there is a reasonable doubt that the conclusion is true, then the case is "not proven." Such a finding does NOT mean that the defendant is innocent. It only means that the prosecutor did not prove the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
DXer and other True Believers and conspiracy theorists live in a different world where facts and evidence mean nothing - unless the facts and evidence prove it is impossible for their beliefs to be correct.
In the world the rest of us live in, no one knows how to do that.
There doesn't seem to be any way you can force or persuade conspiracy theorists and True Believers to use facts and evidence to make a better case in support of their beliefs - and to argue their case with explanations of why their "facts and evidence" are better and more conclusive than the "official" facts and evidence.
So, it's pointless to argue with them.
The problem really is how to stop arguing with them once you've started. Most people seem to know the solution to that problem: you simply give up, ignore the "Truthers" and refuse to argue with them.
It seems it just takes me longer than most people to give up.
Meanwhile, yesterday, by refusing to give up, I may have solved the problem I've been having with the touch pad on my new laptop computer. But, I've got a new problem: I don't know exactly what I did to fix it. On my new interactive blog, I described all the steps I went through to analyze the problem. One key step was setting a switch in the control pad settings for my mouse. I set the switch so that the touch pad would turn off when the mouse was turned on. The second key step may have been the discovery that simply turning off the mouse isn't sufficient to turn on the touch pad. It's a wireless mouse. I have to pull out the mouse transmitter tab from the USB port. That will turn on the touch pad. Another key step is knowing that the computer has to be "awake" when I make changes, like connecting and disconnecting devices. If the lid is closed on the laptop when I make change, it may not work properly when the lid is opened and the computer "wakes up."
So, at the moment, all I have to do to turn on the touch pad is to pull out the mouse's transmitter tab and then close and reopen the lid. I also set the "two finger scroll" functions to work. And they do. I don't know if that affected anything else.
That means that currently everything seems to be working as it is supposed to work. I'm just going to continue on - leaving things the way they are - until some problem occurs. If a problem does occur, I'll have a much better understanding of options which might help me to help me fix the problem. That's something I did not have the last time everything worked - when I first bought the computer, and I didn't have a mouse, and the touch pad seemed to work perfectly.
Also meanwhile, I've finished revising and printing out the first 13 chapters of the 22 chapters in the third draft of my second sci-fi novel. The book currently has 41,492 words, and because that's over 40,000 words, it is now officially a "novel" and not a "novella." The novel will almost certainly be an additional several hundred words longer when I finish with the third draft.
|Comments for Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015
thru Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015:
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - Yesterday, "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") sent me an email and attempted two new posts to my old interactive blog. They were his first attempts in over a month to continue promoting his beliefs on my blog. These new attempts to convert me to his beliefs evidently began with his reading an article titled "How to Get Terrorists to Talk" on The National Interest web site. The article (which can also be read by clicking HERE) was written by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen who "ran the CIA's operations to counter al-Qaeda's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from 2001-2004."
DXer had found some passages in the article which he quoted to me in an attempt to once again argue that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001. The article contains nothing that even remotely suggests that to be true. In fact, it seems to say more about al Qaeda working hard to obtain or build a nuclear weapon to use against the United States than any biological weapon. Nevertheless, without actually explaining anything, DXer insinuated that the article supported his beliefs in some way.
I noted that one passage seemed to actually debunk DXer's beliefs. Here is what the passage says:
We went to the hospital laboratory in Kandahar where Malaysian “Anthrax CEO” Yazid Sufaat claimed to have isolated a virulent form of bacillus anthracis. There, a joint FBI-CIA-military team collected forensic samples and evidence of biological weapons-related activity, precisely as Sufaat had claimed under interrogation by Malaysian authorities.If Yazid Sufaat isolated a virulent form of bacillus anthracis, that indicates that he didn't have any pure form of bacillus anthracis, as would have been the case if he'd acquired a sample from Porton Down or from flask RMR-1029. Sufaat had to isolate a sample from other bacteria, suggesting that it was some local strain.
To a True Believer, however, if there's a one in a billion chance that the strain that Sufaat "isolated" was the Ames strain, and if there is a one in a hundred billion chance that while growing his isolated sample Sufaat also happened to duplicate the four morphs that were found in the attack anthrax and in flask RMR-1029, then that must be what happened. After all, it cannot be proven that it did NOT happen. And to a True Believer, that is "proof" that far outweighs all of the FBI's evidence that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.
When DXer argued that I have been "mistaken for over a decade in arguing that AQ was not working with virulent anthrax" I pointed him to my al Qaeda web page where I wrote this in 2002:
"No one is saying in any way that the al Qaeda wasn't looking into obtaining anthrax for possible use in terrorist attacks against the United States. They almost certainly were - and are. All that is being said on this web site is that the evidence indicates that the anthrax mail attacks of September and October 2001 were almost certainly NOT perpetrated by al Qaeda. The evidence indicates it was someone else - most likely an American scientist with an overwhelming compulsion to awaken America to the threat of bioterrorism, which he certainly accomplished - while killing 5 people in the process."That seemed to at least temporarily stop DXer's emails and attempted posts to my old blog. But, I'm certain he will continue to search the news for things he can twist and distort to argue once again that he as right and the FBI was wrong. There's just no way to change the mind of a True Believer by citing facts and evidence. If it doesn't support his beliefs, it's meaningless to a True Believer.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - The reason I bought a new computer back on October 1, 2014, was because my old computer was running hopelessly slow. It could take ten minutes or more to send an email. The email might still be waiting to be fully transmitted when I shut down my computer for the day, and I'd get a message telling me so during the shutdown process. So, I'd have to try again the next day.
Recently, I've been talking with a guy at my health club (a.k.a. "gym") who has decided he needs to buy a new computer because his old computer is running too slow. That caused me to do some additional thinking on the subject.
This morning I awoke realizing that this is a form of "planned obsolescence." But, in the case of computers it might be better termed "forced obsolescence."
Nothing in my old computer wore out. Nothing in the hardware is running any slower than it ran on the day I bought it. Software updates are what caused my old computer to run so slow that I was forced to buy a new computer.
Doing some research, I found that this is a well-known problem. A New York Times article from 2002 says,
I know exactly what the author of the article means. I don't need any of these extra features. Or, if I do need them, I want to be able to figure that out for myself. I don't want Microsoft making changes to my operating system until it becomes so slow that I can't use it anymore. It's forced obsolescence.
Other articles I found confirm my observation. Click HERE for an article from 2013. I also found that the term "forced obsolescence" is already widely used. I may have just dreamed it up, but many others dreamed it up before me. Click HERE for an article from 2012 about Apple products having the same manufactured forced obsolescence problems that Windows products suffer.
The articles all seem to say that five or six years is about the limit for how long you can expect to use a computer before you start having so many software problems that you need to get a new one.
I've already bought a new computer. So, it's not a problem I expect to suffer again until 2019 or 2020. It may not help me much, but, next time I'll certainly understand the problem better than I did last time. Meanwhile, I can do a much better job of explaining the situation to others who have the same problem.
Monday, February 16, 2015 - I thought I'd figured out the cause of my computer touch pad problem, but some experiments I did this morning showed the problem is a bit more complex than I previously thought. I'm writing down every step of the investigation on my new interactive blog HERE.
Meanwhile, I'm having a hard time getting into the third draft of my second sci-fi novel. I know I need to make the characters more interesting, but that has always been a problem for me. I know the problem; I think I know the solution; but I don't know how to make myself apply the solution. There are on-line web sites which explain how to do it. Click HERE, HERE and HERE for three examples.
The "answer" is probably just to do it. But I don't know how to get myself to "do it." I just stare at the blank screen, or I sit and wonder where to begin. This morning, it's probably mostly a problem with not being able to focus while I'm still trying to figure out the touch pad problem.
Sunday, February 15, 2015 - There is still an "Under Construction" sign at the top of this web site because I'm uncertain about nearly everything.
I think the black background looks cool, but it required me to reset "defaults" on how colors are used on the web site. For example, I had to change the colors used to identify words that contain links. The default was dark blue, which doesn't work well when you have a black background. And then there's the problem of copying and pasting. The words I copy and then paste elsewhere can end up being white lettering on a white background, making them invisible. And even the vertical cursor line - | - that shows where you are currently typing can become white on white or black on black, making it invisible. Fixing these problems (and others) when they occur is usually relatively simple, but it also breaks your train of thought and can become a minor nuisance.
But, mostly I'm uncertain of what to write about. That's what this site is for. I love writing, and this site gives me a place to write about things. I had lots of grand ideas on what to write about when I first decided to start this site. I was thinking of writing humorous comments about current events and creating cartoons to make points. I was thinking about writing about movies I'd recently seen. I was also thinking about writing short stories, just to practice and illustrate writing techniques. And then I'd also write thoughts about the stories.
Instead, I keep coming up with subjects that would fit better on my old web site. For example, in the last few months on my old blog I got into a long series of dumb arguments with an Anthrax Truther over the definitions of words. The dumbest of those dumb arguments was over the term "junk mail," which I used to describe the anthrax letters that were thrown away as unwanted by American Media Incorporated (AMI), CBS, ABC and The New York Post. The Truther argued that only his definition was valid. And to classify as "junk mail" by his standard, the mail had to contain some form of advertising. Here's his further explanation for why my use of the term "junk mail" was "non-standard":
THAT'S "non-standard usage" because I've never met a single American in my six plus decades who ever used 'junk mail' in that way.I don't know the guy's politics, but that argument is one I usually get from Republicans: "If it isn't the way I and my friends do it, then it's wrong."
Of course, they don't phrase it that way. It's just the way they generally seem to think and act. And since I very often do not do things their way, they constantly work to get me to change to doing things their "correct" way.
Yesterday, as I was working on writing today's comment, I wondered about the word "Truther." It's a new word that someone evidently made up some time after 9/11. (It still shows up as a spelling error every time I type it.)
Here's how the word "Truther" is defined in the Urban Dictionary:
Until I looked up that definition, I don't recall ever hearing of BYU professor Steven Jones. But, that's probably because I never paid much attention to 9/11 Truthers after the first time I heard their screwball reasoning. What do Republicans and people like the Anthrax Truther on my blog think when they come across a sentence like the one in red above? I imagine they think that the guy can't possibly be "famous" if they've never heard of him.
Originally (i.e., a few years ago), there were only "9/11 Truthers." But, now it's becoming generally accepted that there are all kinds of "Truthers." I found an article titled "A Field Guide to American Truthers." It contains this:
The modern truther is more than a simple nut job conspiracy theorist. Being a truther means believing your truth to such an extent that you shun anyone who dares question it. Let the SHEEPLE out there think that two airplanes knocked down the Twin Towers. A truther knows better. The rest of you are so naïve, so easily led astray. Your wrongness is almost comical. I LAUGH AT YOUR IGNORANCE HAHAHAHAHA I BET YOU HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN LOOSE CHANGE YET. A truther is a rabid devotee of horseshit—someone who can take any imperfection in a tragic narrative and construct an iron mountain of garbage from it."Loose Change"? At first I thought it was an old Bill Murray movie, but after researching it, the movie I was thinking of turned out to be "Quick Change." "Loose Change" is a 2005 documentary about 9/11. I'd never heard of "Loose Change." (Or maybe I'd heard of it and just forgot. Do Truthers (and Republicans) ever admit to forgetting anything?) But, that last sentence highlighted in red is a good summary of how Truthers think. If they can find any kind of "flaw" in the "official" finding about an important event, they can build an entire case for disbelieving everything.
The "Field Guide to American Truthers" lists 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Kennedy Assassination Truthers, Benghazi Truthers, 1985 NBA Draft Truthers, Moon Landing Truthers, AIDS Truthers, Sandy Hook Truthers and several others.
I did a Google search for "Truthers" and found that there are also "Inflation Truthers," "QE Truthers," and there also is a 2011 book titled "Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground" by Jonathan Kay. Here's the Amazon description of that book:
From 9/11 conspiracy theorists and UFO obsessives to the cult of Ayn Rand and Birther crusaders, America is suffering from an explosion in post-rationalist ideological movements. In Among the Truthers, journalist Jonathan Kay offers a thoughtful and sobering look at how social networking and Web-based video sharing have engendered a flourishing of new conspiracism. Kay details the sociological profiles of ten brands of modern conspiracists—the Failed Historian, the Mid-Life Crack-Up, the Damaged Survivor, the Campus Revolutionary, the Stoner, the Clinical Case, the Puzzle Solver, the Christian Doomsayer, the Cosmic Voyager, and the Egomaniac—in a compelling exploration of America’s departure from reason and what it means for the very future of rational discourse as the nation steps further into the 21st century.Most of the Truthers I've come across seem to fall into that last category - Egomaniacs. They just can't imagine themselves being wrong about anything. And anyone who disagrees with them must be blind or ignorant ("I LAUGH AT YOUR IGNORANCE HAHAHAHAHA.")
I admit to ignorance. I don't know everything. I do not understand what a "post-rationalist ideological movement" is. Looking up "post-rationalist," I found this (which didn't help much):
The basic aspect of empirist epistemology is that we live in an objective reality, which already contains in itself the sense of all things and exists independently of our perceiving it. This reality is also unique and the same for everyone. Knowledge is only a representation of reality and the only way to prove if this knowledge is true is by means of the correspondence of external order with knowledge, conceived as a representation of this order.Epistemology is defined as:
the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.And, I also remember writing this about Epistemology on Feb. 17, 2013:
As for me, my next chore is to learn more about epistemology. As I understand it,Is it any wonder there are so many conflicts in the world? We don't speak the same languages, and, even when we do, we don't use common words in the same way. You sometimes need to talk for a half hour just to understand what the other person meant when he spoke a simple sentence.
For me, that also means that I'll continue to look for better or different ways to explain something even after the conversation is over - sometimes even when the conversation has been over for years. For example, I recall a man from India or Pakistan standing beside me in the shaving supplies aisle at ShopKo a few years ago. He was clearly overwhelmed by the choices of shaving soap, and didn't seem to understand that a can of shaving soap contained compressed material. His wife poked him to urge him to ask me about it. He was absolutely stunned when I told him that a can of Edge probably lasted "a couple months." He seemed to think the volume of the can could only hold enough lather for two or three shaves. I tried to explain things to him, even showing him the curved bottom of the can, which indicated it contained material under pressure. Today, years later, I still wonder of I could have explained things better. When I left him, he was still in the shaving supplies aisle trying to make a decision.
I suspect that Truthers just look for ways to show you that you are wrong. They cannot rationally explain their own reasoning. When they try, they expose their screwball logic and have to defend it. To avoid that, they do not try to explain anything to you. They only try to prove that you are incorrect. If you made a mistake in the past, you must be also making a mistake now. If you believed some person who can be shown to be imperfect, that shows you cannot tell right from wrong and believe the wrong people. If you do not accept what the Truther believes, then perhaps you just do not understand how words are used in English.
I really enjoy learning about things, explaining things and having them explained to me. And, the more I think about it, the more I recall that explaining things was the main reason I created this web site. I wanted to use it to explain things as I see them, and to see if people would correct me if my explanation was somehow incorrect.
That's the same idea I had when I created my old web site about the anthrax attacks of 2001. This web site is just a lot more general. It's not about anything specific. And hopefully it will provide opportunities for more humor. Looking over what I've written for this morning, all I see is a long ramble. I'm still trying to sort things out.
By the way, this morning I finished reading the joke book I recently borrowed from the library. Here's a joke that I think is worth repeating. The joke was originally written and performed by the comedian Emo Philips:
Once I was walking along the Golden Gate Bridge and I saw this guy about to jump.One thing I do not try to explain is jokes. If you don't get it, you don't get it.
|Comments for Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015
thru Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015:
Thursday, February 12, 2015 - Just before lunch this morning, I finished the second draft of my second sci-fi novel. At 202 pages, it's still 35 words short of the generally accepted 40,000 word minimum required to classify as a "novel," but I don't think there will be any problem in getting well beyond 40,000 words during the third draft.
That meant I had to decide if I should begin work on the third draft, or if I should start on the first draft of a third (and presumably final) novel in the "series." At the moment, I don't have a plot for that book. All I have are the three main characters from the first two books and the "gizmo" they use to solve crimes and mysteries.
I've got the feeling that if I can come up with a third story/plot, I can probably come up with a dozen of them. Time will tell.
While working out at the health club this afternoon, I decided that I should start on the third draft of the second novel. I don't have a printed copy, which I think I should have before going on to novel #3. I'll print the third draft.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - Hmm. Last night, Jon Stewart announced that he will be leaving "The Daily Show" later this year. His contract is evidently up in September. I'm not certain, but I think I watched every "Daily Show" that aired in the past 17 years - although it's possible I missed some shows when I was on a trip somewhere. And Brian Williams has been suspended for six months, which the "experts" seem to believe probably means forever.
And my favorite TV show, "The Mentalist" is going off the air next week, ending its 7-year run.
Combined with putting an end to 14 years of arguments about the anthrax attacks, I don't know if I'm ready for all these changes.
And, I'm no further toward finishing the second draft of my second sci-fi novel than I was three weeks ago. I'm still on the last chapter. The mystery is solved, but I haven't figured out how to wrap up the personal issues between the main characters in a way that would be satisfying for the reader.
Plus, I need to do my income taxes.
And it's the middle of winter.
I just downloaded a joke book into my Kindle. Maybe that will help.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - I'm one of the millions of Americans who still watches network news shows every weekday evening. And, I watch NBC news. However, it's not because I particularly like Brian Williams. Mostly, it's just because I'm lazy. When I turn on my TV in the evening, it's because I've finished work for the day, and I'm about to start making supper. It's usually about five minutes before the evening news shows start -- except on NBC. If I turn on CBS, I'll get the end of the Dr. Phil Show, and if I turn on ABC, I'll get the end of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. (I think FOX has re-runs of old sit-coms.) But, if I turn on NBC, I get the the end of one local news show, just before the start of another local news show. So, turning on NBC means I don't have to change channels and - most importantly - I don't have to listen to Dr. Phil or Ellen DeGeneres while I'm preparing my supper - even for just five minutes.
The reason I'm writing about this is because, for the past couple months, NBC has been running promos about Brian Williams having been the anchor on NBC News for 10 years. And the promos talk about how Williams is trusted. Below is one of the promos that has been on YouTube for two months:
What puzzles me now is that no one seems to be talking about those promos and how they appear to have triggered the "investigation" or whatever it was that led to the current firestorm over Brian Williams' trustworthiness.
Every time those ads appeared, I wondered what their purpose was. Were they just promos to get people to watch NBC news? Or were they promos for Brian Williams? Whatever their purpose, it was like asking for an investigation into his trustworthiness. Here's what The New York Times had to say this morning:
The media is also buzzing about Jon Stewart's comments about the controversy on last night's "Daily Show." Click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. (Jon Stewart is a friend of Brian Williams.) Half the media says that Stewart "slammed" Williams. Half say Stewart defended Williams. It was also the first topic mentioned on "The Nightly Show" with Larry Wilmore last night.
The only media report I've seen about how this controvesy got started was in The Daily Beast:
So, did it all begin with Stars and Stripes? Or did it all begin with the promos? I think it all began with the promos. Setting someone up as a model of trust is the same as setting them up to get investigated for being untrustworthy. And that is particularly true in today's world where anyone can research almost anything without leaving home. It's all at your fingertips on the Internet.
Personally, it doesn't matter to me one bit if NBC fires Williams. I'll still watch NBC news - because I don't want to listen to Dr. Phil or Ellen DeGeneres for even five minutes. But, I think it would be far more interesting if they didn't fire Williams. I'd like to see how the controversy affects him and the way he presents the news.
A couple comments on the USA Today web site seem worth repeating:
Get over it. Williams needs to make a choice: Is he a newscaster or entertainer?That's basically what Jon Stewart said last night, too. As for me, I want the news. I don't want some "reality show" about a reporter covering the news.
Sunday, February 8, 2015 - The Montreal-based anti-government propaganda web site globalresearch.ca produced yet another "interview" with 9/11 Truther Graeme MacQueen last week. It's titled "The Perpetrators of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks Are Still At Large." Here's an example of MacQueen's reasoning:
Graeme MacQueen: It seemed to me first of all that there’s no way a lone-wolf attacker could have done all the things that were done in the anthrax attacks. You have to remember that stories were planted all over the place. In the Washington Post, New York Times, many, many newspapers, The Guardian in the UK, TV stations, before the anthrax attacks even were discovered, all these reports about the fear of anthrax and the threat of anthrax based on fraudulent intelligence [were published]. It seems to me that this would have taken high-level people and it would have taken multiple people. No pathetic lone-wolf perpetrator could have made the media carry all those stories.A lot of people were talking about anthrax before 9/11, and they were talking a lot more after 9/11. Does that mean that it was all misinformation planted by the CIA as part of the preparation for the actual attacks? Mr. MacQueen evidently thinks it does. He seems to have a unshakable belief in the basic goodness of people. And his theory is evidently his way of reconciling his unshakable belief that no human being would commit a truly terrible act like sending out letters filled with anthrax (or flying an aircraft filled with innocent people into a skyscraper) unless they were somehow forced into doing it by a government.
It seems to be a very good example of cognitive dissonance. He believes people are basically good, but he is faced with explaining how some people can commit truly horrific crimes. So, he has to find an explanation - or create one. He created one: a conspiracy theory.
Interestingly, the term "cognitive dissonance" popped up twice during my on-line activities last week. The first time was when someone sent me an email about an article titled "PETA’s Killing, Cognitive Dissonance, and What We Owe Animals," which I mentioned in my Feb. 2 comment. The second was yesterday morning when my daily Google news search for anthrax+2001 found an article titled "The Cognitive Dissonance of Vaccine Pushers." The article by "independent writer" Anthony Wade popped up because it contains this:
I can openly admit that I might be wrong. But I know when something is being pushed on me. I know the smell of bovine excrement when it wafts my way. The CDC seems awfully desperate to convince everyone that this is a settled matter. Nothing to see. Just go about your business. This of course is the same CDC trying to convince me that 500 cases of measles in a country the size of the United States is an "outbreak." The same CDC that just last year was telling me Ebola was going to kill me because two people in the country had it. The same CDC that swore in 2009 that the swine flu was going to kill me. The same CDC that swore in 2006 that e coli was going to kill me. The same CDC that swore in 2005 that the bird flu was going to kill me. The same CDC that swore in 2004 that SARS was going to kill me. The same CDC that swore in 2002 that West Nile was going to kill me. The same CDC that swore in 2001 that anthrax was going to kill me. But I am the crazy guy? Really? Doubting the government when they swear to something does not make me a conspiracy theorist. It makes me conscious.In answer to his question "I am the crazy guy?" the answer is YES! The CDC told you NONE of those things. If anyone did it, it was the media. It was the media that turned those public health issues into end-of-the-world crises through bold and scary headlines. All the CDC did was make people aware of a health problem - which is part of their job. There's no way to go directly to only those people who may have been exposed, so you have to explain the situation to everyone in hopes that the people who may have been exposed will hear it.
Who is Anthony Wade? He's "a contributing writer to opednews.com, [who] is dedicated to educating the populace to the lies and abuses of the government." In other words, he's a Vaccine Truther. He thinks there is a conspiracy to vaccinate children who do not really need to be vaccinated. And here is what he says about "cognitive dissonance":
Cognitive dissonance is when someone holds a core belief very strongly; such as there is no link between vaccines and autism. Because they hold it so strongly, they get very uncomfortable whenever someone comes along and tries to discuss the chance that maybe their held belief is wrong. They lash out to protect their core belief instead of being open to rational discourse.Is there anyone who has such a strong belief that "there is no link between vaccines and autism"? All that the "experts" say is that no such link has been confirmed or proven.
Mr. Wade cites a single case (Hannah Poling) which he believes demonstrates such a link. But, the "experts" say it doesn't. So, it is Mr. Wade's cognitive dissonance that causes him to believe there is a government plot to hide the link.
If there was a direct link, nearly every American and every person is the civilized world would have autism, because we've all been vaccinated. We don't all have autism (at least not in any recognizable form). And Hannah Poling had a very rare medical condition that contributed to her "autism like" disorder.
What I see in the vaccine-autism debate is a parent's understandable desire to not want to put their child in danger. If you do not have your child vaccinated, you did nothing directly to harm your child. You just took a chance that the child could possibly get measles. However, if you have your child vaccinated against measles and the child somehow becomes autistic, you know you will be forever blaming yourself having the child vaccinated.
It's a lot more complicated than that, of course. People don't see measles as a "problem" these days because no one around them is getting it. The number of children diagnosed as having autism seems to be increasing, but it could largely be because more doctors are now correctly diagnosing it. No one likes uncertainty, particularly when it comes to putting their children in harm's way.
Some day we'll have all the answers. Until then, cognitive dissonance is NOT the answer. There is no criminal conspiracy to vaccinate children. There's just a certainty based upon past history that the general public is better off if every child is vaccinated - even if there is a one-in-a-million chance that something unexpected could go wrong with a specific child.
I can understand why a parent might not like taking a one-in-a-million chance with the health of their child. But, I'm also old enough to remember when measles seemed to run rampant, and there were quarantine signs on the doors of houses just down the street from where I lived. I remember a quarantine sign on the door of our house because I had the mumps (another disease which no one seems to get any more because of vaccinations).
And, because I'm a movie buff, I also remember "Laura." I remember that while the star of the movie "Laura," Gene Tierney, was pregnant, she was accosted by a fan who had German measles. Tierney contracted the disease, and her child was born with severe health problems. So, keeping the measles virus at bay isn't just an issue related to vaccinating children. There's a lot more to it.
|Comments for Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015
thru Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015:
Thursday, February 5, 2015 - I just spent an hour or so creating a new thread on my NEW blog about my touch pad problem. If anyone has any suggestions, that would be the place to post them. And, it means there's no longer any reason for me to mention that topic here.
Meanwhile, I was informed of a file of slides about the Amerithrax investigation that is on-line HERE. The file was created by someone named Daniel Pellow, who is unknown to me, and the site has no further information about him that I can find. I don't know why he would create such a file, either. (It's possible that he is an artist in England who is featured on an artists' site HERE.)
The slide show seems fairly accurate, except for one error in the slide on the top of page 13:
It is NOT known that the attack spores were freeze dried. And, the fact that they were "not spray dried" doesn't mean they were "freeze dried." The facts seem to indicate that the spores were AIR dried, i.e., the plates were simply left in a biosafety cabinet for a few hours until all the moisture evaporated. That method was readily available to Dr. Ivins. Plus, while not conclusive, there was no sign of any of the known effects of freeze-drying on any of the attack spores.
There doesn't seem to be any way of contacting Mr. Pellow to bring this to attention. And, if there was a way, the first thing I'd probably ask him is the purpose of his slide show. Is it something he uses himself, or is it something he is publishing for others to use? Or is it just another art form?
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - Yesterday, someone sent me an email asking if I'd seen Monday evening's episode of "NCIS: LA," which was about stopping an anthrax attack in California. I hadn't seen the episode, since "NCIS: LA" isn't a show I watch. I'd seen an Anthrax Truther mention the episode, but his comments were just rambling complaints, which certainly didn't encourage me to watch. The person who sent the email, however, wrote about how the show was about anthrax spores that were weaponized with bentonite, and how there was even a lyophilizer seen and mentioned in the show.
So, I had to watch that particular episode. Fortunately, it was available "on demand" from my cable company any time I wanted to view it.
The episode is titled "Black Wind" and begins with a pickup truck trying to crash through a fence on the Mexican border while being chased by U.S. Border Patrol officers. The truck driver takes off running, leaving behind an unconscious passenger who has black goop dripping from his nose. "Sure as hell doesn't look like blood," the Patrol officer says when he examines the man.
The black goop is never explained It was evidently just the writer using "artistic license"' to dream up an imaginary way of showing that the man was infected with anthrax, without going to the trouble of explaining that the word "anthrax" comes from the Greek word that means coal (or "black"). And they wanted something more dramatic than a black anthrax lesion, which wouldn't likely cause the victim to be unconscious.
When the NCIS agents start talking about anthrax, Miguel Ferrer explains that "A grumpy PhD in a modest lab could make weapons grade anthrax."
That's true enough, but the guy bleeding black goop inexplicably had "4951CC" written on his forearm, which the NCIS agents quickly (somehow) realize means that there are about 5 liters (5,000 Cubic Centimeters) of anthrax somewhere in Tijuana, Mexico. Or maybe it has already been smuggled into the U.S. "It's enough to wipe out most of Southern California," someone explains. (But I never heard them explain why the guy had that "clue" written on his arm.)
Fortunately, Mexican public health air sensors had just detected anthrax in the air in Tijuana. So NCIS agents are dispatched to locate exactly where the anthrax came from, since the two events must be connected. (One would think that if there were enough anthrax spores in the air to be detected by a sensor, there would also be a lot of people becoming infected. But, only the guy with the black goop gets infected in the episode.)
I could go on and on. They explain that it is the Ames strain of anthrax, which, according to the show, is the "most deadly" "according to the CDC."
The NCIS agents somehow determine that the unconscious guy was infected by spores coated with bentonite. They don't explain how they could determine that the spores were coated with bentonite by looking at a person who was infected. Infection comes when the spores germinate into living bacteria and start reproducing inside the body. (If pressed, I suppose the writer of the show could explain that they found some actual spores coated with bentonite inside the victim's nostrils, but they just didn't have time to explain it in the show.)
The NCIS agents then learn that the public health information about anthrax in the air in a specific area of Tijuana was false, evidently to mislead the American agents in order to give Mexican agents a head start, and that the anthrax in the air was actually at a different location in Tijuana. So, NCIS races to the "only warehouse in the new area that is empty" and can therefore hold a secret bioweapons lab. Peering into the lab via a camera that can be tossed into a room like a hand grenade, the NCIS agents see "everything that is needed to make anthrax," i.e., "a cell culture incubator, a fermenting flask, and a lyophilizer." Yeah, sure. But wouldn't you also need a centrifuge to make "weaponized" anthrax? And what about equipment to coat the spores with bentonite?
I don't think they even tried to explain how five liters of anthrax coated with bentonite would be sprayed over the marine base in Coronado by a helicopter equipped to spray insecticides. I suppose it could be done, but the bad guys seemed to be putting the anthrax into the helicopter from a tanker truck, which would indicate they had mixed the 5 liters of spores with some kind of liquid. If you mix spores with a liquid, what purpose does the bentonite serve?
It's probably all explained in their "artistic license." But, what it did for me was provide another explanation for why I do not watch "NCIS: LA," in addition to the fact that I don't like the writing, the plots, and I particularly don't like the constant, silly, light-hearted banter between the agents. But, millions apparently disagree, since "NCIS: LA" seems to be regularly among the top ten TV shows.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - Hmm. I used my forefinger to brush away a stray hair from my touchpad this morning, and the cursor moved. Suddenly, the touchpad is working again. I'm pretty sure it was not working when I first turned on my laptop this morning. And the fact that the touchpad seems to turn on when I brush my finger over it makes me wonder if there isn't some kind of secret on-off switch for the touchpad. I did a Google search for "touchpad on-switch" and found a discussion HERE about such a thing on a HP notebook. I have an HP laptop. It appears to be another "clue" to what's going on. But none of the recommendations in the discussion at the link work.
When I brush my forefinger onto the touchpad from the left side and do not lift my finger, the cursor will not move until I lift my finger and then put it down again. So, it's like the opposite of what happened when the touchpad started working again this morning - the touchpad was not working, but brushing my finger in from the left side, lifting my finger and then putting it down again turned on the touchpad.
If there is such an "on-off switch," you'd think that the people at the store would know all about it (and thousands of people on-line on discussion forums). But, maybe they don't. Maybe there isn't any secret on-off switch, but just some unknown factor that acts like an on-off switch.
I love a mystery! And I love technical mysteries most of all!
I think I know what causes the touchpad to turn OFF. All I need to do is to close the lid or turn the computer off. I'm going to do that now.
Hmm. It didn't work. I closed the cover, left it closed for about thirty seconds, then opened it again. The touchpad still works. So, I don't know for certain what causes the touchpad to stop working, either.
But, I'm collecting a lot of "clues."
Added note: When I returned home from the health club this afternoon and turned on my laptop, the touchpad no longer worked. And wiping away dust (or swiping in from the left side) does not turn the touchpad on. So, it appears the problem is still far from fixed.
Monday, February 2, 2015 - This morning I received an email with a link to a very long blogger article about PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Click HERE for the link, which is actually to the latest in a series of articles that are below the latest article at that same link.
I'm not sure what to "make" of the article. It's clearly just one point of view. But, it's hard to see what a different point of view might be. I can't think of anything more to say about it. Read it for yourself and you'll see what I mean.
Meanwhile, yesterday's blizzard has passed. Here's a picture of the parking lot outside my apartment this morning (my Camaro is snow free in my garage):
After lunch, when it was time for me to head to the health club for my regular workout, the sidewalk was clear and nearly all the snow in the lot had been shoveled away. But, the "mystery" remained. Why did that guy in the first car on the left leave his windshield wipers propped up away from his windshield?
I've never seen anyone else do that. When I got home from the health club, I did a Google search for "propped up windshield wipers" and found an article HERE where someone else noticed the same thing. The article says that it supposedly prevents the wipers from getting frozen to the windshield. People who do it probably think it's a super-smart thing to do. And maybe it is. But, for me it looks like a problem waiting to happen. All I can say for certain is that it takes all kinds to make a world. Click HERE for more information.
Sunday, February 1, 2015 - This morning, I have nothing prepared to post here as my Sunday comment. So, I'm going to have to start from scratch.
The main topic on my old interactive blog last week was still the difference between an opinion and a finding. A Truther argued that they are the same thing. He claimed that a finding from a jury is just their "collective opinion."
I argued that a finding is just about the opposite of an opinion. A juror can have an opinion that the defendant is guilty, but still have no problem voting "not guilty." One reason, unfortunately, is because in American courts "not guilty" does not really mean "not guilty." It means "not PROVEN." So, a juror can have an opinion that the defendant is almost certainly guilty, but still feel that the prosecutor failed to make a good and solid legal case against the defendant, i.e., the prosecutor left "reasonable doubt."
(DAMN! I just tried to brush some dust off the touch pad on my laptop computer and the cursor moved. That's the second time in the past week that that happened. Suddenly, my touch pad is working fine again.
I'm an analyst. It's not currently my profession, but it is and always has been the way my mind works. I constantly try to analyze and understand what I see and what's happening around me. And now I've got two instances in the past seven days where my touch pad suddenly started working. Those instances are CLUES. Something I did this morning or last night CAUSED the touch pad to suddenly start working again. The last two times it stopped working was after I closed the lid on my laptop. I suspect it will stop working when I close the lid again today to break for lunch. But, what is causing it to START working again? The more information (i.e., "clues") I have, the easier it will be to figure out what the problem and solution are.
I'll have to try to see if there's a pattern of some kind. I disconnected the laptop from the AC power source last night when I moved it from my office to my living room to view something on my large screen TV. Then I repeated that process when I took my laptop back to my office again. Could disconnecting it from the AC power source be having some kind of effect? The last time I took it in to the "shop" to have them fix it, it stopped working as soon as I got it home. That's seems to be just the opposite effect of what happened this morning - unless the problem is something like a toggle switch. Doing it the first time turns it on, doing it again turns it off.
(Added Note: When I started up my laptop after lunch, the touch pad was once again not working.)
I use a mouse now, instead of the touch pad. So, the touch pad could be working quite often without me realizing it. I'm going to have to check it regularly - like every time I open the lid to bring the laptop out of "sleep mode." Even if I can't figure out what is causing it to start and stop working, gathering clues (i.e., "evidence") will enable me to better explain things to the people at the store if or when I take it a back to them to fix.
But I digress.)
Where was I? Oh, yes. The difference between a finding and an opinion. I suppose a Truther could argue that a juror can have an opinion that the defendant is guilty and also have an opinion that the prosecutor's case was faulty. But, an opinion stops being an opinion when a group of people - like a jury - discuss their understanding of the situation and come to a mutual understanding.
So, now we have to figure out and explain the difference between an "opinion" and an "understanding." I wonder if the Truther would argue that they are the same thing. I certainly wouldn't.
Here's what the on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary says:
The Truther would probably fixate on definition "3b," since it contains the word "opinion." But, it's not just an opinion, it's an "agreement of opinion," which involves an "adjustment of differences." In other words, when you have an agreement that involves adjusting differences, what you have is no longer an opinion, it has become an understanding.
Maybe I should have stuck with the difference between "opinion" and "finding."
Looking up the word "finding" in the on-line Merrium-Webster dictionary:
Note that the word "opinion" is not used in the definition of "finding." A finding is the "result" of an examination, investigation or inquiry. A finding has nothing to do with opinions. Opinions are not involved.
When you're seeking a finding, opinions just get in the way. They're the opposite of what you are seeking. Opinions are obstacles that can prevent you from reaching a finding.
Hmm. It's snowing and blowing like crazy outside. That's not an opinion. That's a finding based upon an examination of the visual and auditory evidence. Furthermore, here is some photographic evidence: