Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 thru Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015:
Thursday, January 29, 2015 (B) - Yesterday, an Anthrax Truther posting on my old interactive blog restarted a really weird argument he'd first made almost two years ago, on June 6, 2013. Back then, he bizarrely argued:
Junk mail is (usually) readily identifiable (frequently without even opening it). If it is from a detergent company (or something like that) and contains samples, those samples are usually secured in some sort of container. It's to the company's advantage that that be the case. And the samples are clearly labeled for the product/company.Demonstrating once again that he is pathologically hypercorrective, the Truther was restarting an argument over his mistaken belief about the definition of "junk mail." He is still insisting that he is correct, and my usage is incorrect.
Looking over his June 2013 comment, it appears he was arguing that the term "junk mail" only applies to certain types of advertising done via the mails. Therefore, according to the Truther, it was incorrect of me to say that the J-Lo letter was thrown away because it was "junk mail." (The so-called J-Lo letter, which some people believe contained the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens, was actually a harmless piece of junk mail in the form of a large envelope received by American Media, Inc. (AMI) in September 2001.)
Back in June 2013, the Truther went on and on in an attempt to explain why the J-Lo letter was not an advertisement for a product, and therefore could not be called "junk mail." He began with this:
1)there was no 'product' or 'company' name given. Though there was a chewing tobacco tin inside, neither the letter, nor the rest of the package indicated this was a product on offer.And in yesterday's post, he argued:
'junk mail' which he insisted on and on and on and on and on a couple years ago was simply mail that was/is about to be/will be 'junked' or discarded. He ignored all links and info to the contrary.Being pathologically hypercorrective, he couldn't let the matter go, and just compounded his mistakes in his new post.
Note that he didn't use any dictionary for his links to "info" in support of his belief of the definition of the term. His first link is to a Wikipedia directory which provides links to different uses of the term "junk mail," and the second link is to a Wikipedia article about "Advertising mail," which the article says is "occasionally" known (or referred to) as "junk mail" by recipients.
In my response, I went to some dictionaries to find their definitions of the term "junk mail." Here's what I found and wrote:
Here's a dictionary definition of "junk mail":The J-Lo letter was something received in the mail that AMI did not ask for and did not want. That meets the definition of "junk mail," and that is why the envelope was initially thrown away unopened. The same with most of the anthrax letters sent to the media (including the anthrax letter sent to the National Enquirer). The letters were viewed as UNWANTED "junk mail" and thrown away, either before or after opening.
The Truther hasn't yet responded to what I wrote yesterday, but I don't know how I can make it more clear that "junk mail" is not just mail that "usually" contains free products sent as advertising. Who you are somewhat determines what kind of "junk mail" you get. Tabloids like the National Enquirer wouldn't receive mostly advertising. Their "junk mail" would be mostly letters from kooks with some screwball agenda -- like the J-Lo letter.
I find it totally weird to be arguing this subject. Who except someone who is pathologically hypercorrective would restart a silly argument from two years ago as if it was a matter of utmost importance? Since he appears to be pathologically hypercorrective, there doesn't appear to be any way he can accept being wrong.
But, I also see it as a fascinating look into the mind of someone who is pathologically hypercorrective. What will he do next? Will he just change the subject and bring it up again two years from now as if he'd never been shown to be wrong? Time will tell.
Thursday, January 29, 2015 (A) - Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is in the news again. The BBC headline is "MH370: Malaysia declares flight disappearance an accident." Of course, there's virtually no way it could have been "an accident." And no one is really saying it was. The article explains:
The article also contains some details about the status of the search:
Four vessels are currently searching the seafloor with specialised sonar technology in a remote stretch of ocean where the plane is believed to have ended its flight.The Los Angeles Times adds this bit of information:
The chief coordinator of the Australian-led search operation said several months ago it may take until April to finish searching the area being targeted.Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - Yesterday, I saw a terrific picture on NASA's web site, but forgot to show it here. Below is a small version of the picture.
The picture shows part of the Milky Way along with four of the "Seven Strong Men" rock formation located just west of the Ural Mountains in Russia The unusual Manpupuner rock formations are one of the Seven Wonders of Russia. How these ancient 40-meter (120 feet) high pillars formed is yet unknown.
Monday, January 26, 2015 - I believe that any day you learn something new is a good day. Last Friday was a "good day" because I learned something new about how the legal process works. The NBC news story is titled "Town Resorts to Plucking Jurors Off Street." It seems that, last Thursday, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a judge needed jurors for a case, and the county's pool of jurors was depleted. So, the sheriff was instructed to pick up potential jurors off the street. The sheriff asked people just three questions: (1) were they a resident of the county, (2) were they over 18 years of age, and (3) had they ever been convicted of a felony. If the answer was yes, yes and no, the person was then immediately escorted to the court house to become a potential juror. If he or she had a car nearby, the sheriff would follow them to the courthouse.
I found it fascinating, and apparently most of the people picked did also. It's the law. The county probably ran out of jurors at sometime in the past, so a law was created to cover the situation if it should ever happen again.
Sunday, January 25, 2015 - I'm now fully involved in revising Book #2 in my sci-fi novel trilogy. I'm nearly finished with the second draft. I just need to rewrite the last chapter. Here are the second draft statistics as of this morning:
It looks like it could still be under the minimum word count for a novel when I've finished rewriting Chapter 22. But, it's also clear that I need to add a lot more character details to the entire book when I get into the third draft. That should easily take it over the 40,000 word minimum.
The version of Book #2 that I just created was mostly done to re-load the book into my own memory. After five months of not working on the book, I'd forgotten a lot of the details.
When I complete the third draft of Book #2, I'll start on Book #3. I have no idea what that one will be about. I only know that it will continue the adventures of the three characters introduced in Book #1, which I finished on January 30, 2014.
The plan is that I need to have at least three books written in order to overcome some of the bias that agents and publishers have against first time novelists who are over 40 or so. There's probably always a market for a well-written novel that can grab readers, but the fiction publishing business these days seems to be based upon getting readers hooked on a specific author's series of books. And, if you are too old, you won't be able to continue to turn out book after book. Also, in order to get out the maximum number of books possible, some authors appear to be taking on assistants to help them write (or maybe do all the writing for them).
James Patterson's "Private" series is written with the help of a different co-writer for every book.More importantly, there always seems to be a few "series books" on the current best seller list:
There's no guarantee, of course, that because I've written a series of three books, any agent or publisher is going to want to publish any of them. But, writing is - and always has been - my favorite pastime. So, I'm going to be writing anyway. Selling what I write will just be a bonus - if and when it happens.
Meanwhile, my old web site at www.anthraxinvestigation.com received 768 visitors on Thursday and 759 visitors on Friday, even though I stopped updating the site at the end of December. Furthermore, those numbers were the highest numbers so far for the entire month of January:
Of course, I was curious about who had visited my old site on Thursday and Friday, but I'm no longer saving the web site logs. So, I don't really have any good way to check it out, and none of the ways I tried showed any explanation. It could just be some search engine robot that uses many different unique IP addresses as it accesses various parts of the site to see if anything has been changed. Or it could be that there was something about anthrax in the news somewhere that I didn't notice, but hundreds of other people did notice. And, when they looked around the Internet for sites with information about anthrax, they found my old web site.
On this new web site, the highest number of visitors I've received in a single day so far during January was 15, last Monday:
I suppose that is to be expected. Who wants to read about my struggles to get started on a new novel or to revise an old one? I'd like to keep up the "tradition" of writing a comment about current events every Sunday, but I'll probably be writing less during the week - unless I come across something in the news that is really worth writing about.
Like life in general, it's all just an experiment. We'll see how things work out.
|Comments for Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015
thru Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015:
Friday, January 23, 2015 - In case anyone is interested, I'm back in full "writing mode" once again. I've created a second draft of the first 17 chapters of my second sci-fi novel. The first draft only had 21 chapters. It's in chapter 18 that I think the major revisions will start. I've only added about a thousand words. So, I'm still about 3 thousand words short of "minimum novel length."
Meanwhile, on my old interactive blog, a Truther continues to argue over the meanings of words.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - Yesterday, I spent most of the day rewriting Chapter 1 of the second draft of my 2nd sci-fi novel. Mostly I worked on trying to make the two main characters who appear in Chapter 1 more interesting.
I also noted that I'd finished the first draft on August 17. So, it's been five months since I last worked on my 2nd sci-fi novel.
What the hell have I been doing for the past five months? It seems that I mostly got sidetracked by the need to get a new computer. And then, when I had a new computer, I had to spend a lot of time getting familiar with it. I'm still doing that. Yesterday I spent a lot of time learning how to format page headers in book format using WORD 2013. And I spent a lot of time figuring out how to format my writing statistics file using EXEL 2013. It's all so different from the version of WORD that I bought in 2003 and Lotus-123 that I bought around 1998.
Meanwhile, it hasn't escaped my notice that Anthrax Truthers are very much like the fast-talking pitch men I was fighting with back in 2000 when I was on-line discussing how to sell my screenplays. It's like the Anthrax Truthers were trying to sell me some very unbelievable movie scripts about the anthrax attacks of 2001, and no matter how many different ways I tried to explain to them that their scripts make no sense, they'd just come back with a new sales pitch - or a revision of the same pitch they'd tried months before. They totally believe in themselves, and they're out to convince the world to buy what they are selling.
I also believe in myself and what I'm doing. I know that what I've written isn't "wrong" just because some other people have different beliefs and different ways of doing things. If they don't "buy" it, I hope they will tell me if there's anything "wrong" with what I've written. If there is something "wrong," hopefully I can fix it and create something that's worth reading and understanding (and buying).
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - This morning, someone sent me a link to an article about the Air Force releasing their "Blue Book" files about UFOs. The article can be read by clicking HERE. The files can be read by clicking HERE. The collection of files begins with this description:
This site was created by The Black Vault to house 129,491 pages, comprising of more than 10,000 cases of the Project Blue Book, Project Sign and Project Grudge files declassified. Project Blue Book (along with Sign and Grudge) was the name that was given to the official investigation by the United States military to determine what the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) phenomena was. It lasted from 1947 - 1969.Since I was always very analytical and a science buff, I could never make any sense of the tales people told of their experiences with aliens and alien UFOs. However, I always felt there were probably secret US government projects going on that could explain some of the sightings. From what I have seen after glancing at a few of the files, they look like very dry reading. So, I think I'll wait for others to go through them all and point out the ones that are most interesting.
Monday, January 19, 2015 - I spent over an hour this morning going through the messages from April and July 2000 in the two newsgroup threads about screenwriting that I mentioned in my Sunday comment. It's a bit like an archaeological find, a glimpse back into a different time. The discussions took place fifteen years ago, and I have only the dimmest memory of them. But, I can't help but feel all the postings involving me could have been summarized into a short scene in a screenplay:
I don't think I could ever be a fast-talking pitch man.
That's negative thinking! Anyone can be anything they want to be! It's just a matter of having a positive attitude! You need to think positive!
I understand. But, I don't want to be a fast-talking pitch man. I don't like fast-talking pitch men. I don't trust them. I don't want to be someone I don't like.
Then you won't be able to sell your screenplays to Hollywood. The movie business is show business. It's all about putting on a show, with a lot of razzle dazzle, quick thinking and pitching ideas.
Is it impossible to sell your screenplays without first becoming a fast-talking pitch man?
Nothing is impossible!
Then I'll try it my way. Maybe I'll succeed, maybe I'll fail. But I won't become someone I don't want to be.In addition to Google's record of my conversations at that time, I also keep a journal. A little over a year later, on September 10, 2001, I wrote this in my journal:
Booked everything for Austin. Air fare $342, hotel probably $600, registration $295. Ouch. Now 20 reads for "Dec," still just 1 review. A pass from WW Norton.Translation: I'd signed up and paid all the costs to attend the Austin Film Festival, "the screenwriter's film festival." On the Zoetrope web site set up by Francis Ford Coppola, 20 people had read my screenplay for "That December" (based upon my novel "Clipper"), but only one person had written a review. And the WW Norton Publishing company had passed on a query letter I'd sent them a about the novel I was trying to sell at the time.
The next day was 9/11.
The Austin Film Festival was from October 10 through October 13. I remember it vividly. I particularly remember a pitch session where I and about ten other writers pitched our scripts to a producer. I did miserably. Not only that, at one point I interrupted the producer while he was talking. A stunned hush fell over the room like I'd committed a cardinal sin (which I probably had). Needless to say, nothing resulted from the pitch session - other than getting another lesson that I'm not good at that sort of thing.
I'd set my VCR to tape episodes of the TV show "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" while I was at the festival. When I got home and watched those shows, on one of them Maher asked his panel a question about the anthrax attacks. On October 15, I posted this message to the Politically Incorrect newsgroup:
I just got home from a trip, and I'm catching up on PI shows I tapedAnd that was how I got interested in the anthrax attacks and started tracking all the information I could find about them.
Here's a journal entry from November 22, 2001:
Thanksgiving. Spent 4-3/4 hours on-line. Worked all day on an anthrax page. Put it on the newsguy site and asked for comments. It's only partially done, but it's already very interesting. It could go somewhere.So, my motives were good. I wanted to help figure out who sent the anthrax letters, and I thought a public discussion of the topic might uncover some new information for the FBI.
Instead, it started 13 years of arguments with Anthrax Truthers.
Sunday, January 18, 2015 - I keep asking the two Anthrax Truthers who continue to argue their beliefs on my old interactive blog to explain their theories about the anthrax attacks of 2001, but all we seem to end up doing is argue over the meanings of words. It's really weird. Both Anthrax Truthers are doing it. But some of it may be my fault. For example, I wrote this about the outcome of the movie "12 Angry Men":
Minds were changed by looking at the evidence. However, no one argued that the defendant was "innocent." All they did by discussing the evidence was determine that the prosecution's case was not sufficient to eliminate "reasonable doubt." The final verdict was "Not guilty due to a lack of sufficient evidence."In response, one of the Anthrax Truthers wrote this:
You've pulled this before. There is no such verdict (in any jurisdiction*) as(He was partly right about "Not guilty do to lack of sufficient evidence." The correct wording is "Not guilty due to insufficient evidence." I later went back and corrected what I'd written.) Another part of my response was:
A jury does not discuss "trusting" the prosecutors or the witnesses. They discuss the EVIDENCE.And that caused the other Anthrax Truther ("DXer") to respond with this:
"A jury does not discuss "trusting" ... the witnesses." Ed is mistaken. That is exactly what a jury does. They make credibility determinations. They relatedly determine the weight to be given a witness. Everyone but Ed knows that.I fully agreed that "credibility" is a major issue when evaluating the witnesses, but that got us into arguing the difference between "trust" and "credibility." I wrote a long explanation HERE, but when I awoke the next morning I was still looking for the right words to express the difference. I looked up the dictionary definition and found "trust" is defined as:
[a] belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.So, "trust" is a "belief," while "credibility" and "demeanor" are a couple possible explanations for that belief or feeling or opinion.
In a jury room, I don't think it would be right for a juror to simply say that he doesn't "trust" a witness. That would be like saying he had a "bad feeling" about the witness. He would need to explain to the other jurors WHY he doesn't trust the witness, e.g. "I didn't think he was telling truth; I didn't like his demeanor; he looked dishonest; his testimony didn't make sense to me; I didn't find what he said to be credible." Then, through back and forth discussions, all the jurors would hopefully come to understand what the exact issue is. If it's invalid (e.g., if the juror just doesn't trust people who are not Caucasian), the other jurors can try to explain why that "feeling" has no meaning in a jury room. If it's a valid issue (e.g., the witness seemed to need glasses, but wasn't wearing glasses), the others can see why it may be valid.
Through discussions of the evidence (including the credibility and demeanor of the witnesses providing testimonial evidence), the jury will hopefully come to a unanimous agreement on the correct finding or verdict.
There's no way to do that with people who cannot or will not explain anything.
Interestingly (and very creepily), in a different thread, one of the two Anthrax Truthers did some Internet research on me and posted this argument:
You've misconstrued what I wrote (purposely I fear) and misrepresented it by disputing NOT the full range of stipulation of my original statement but by disputing your OWN severely (over)simplified/ warped version of what I wrote.The link is to the tail end of a discussion I got into on a screenplay writing newsgroup fifteen years ago.
The original discussion on the misc.writing.screenplays newsgroup began on April 6, 2000 when I started a new thread titled "Hustling screenwriters?". The thread begins HERE. I started the thread with this post:
In the past two weeks I've been contacted via e-mail by two peopleThe thread contains 175 messages posted by 33 different people, with the last message being posted on April 16, 2000. (There appear to have been 668 discussion threads started during that April in that newsgroup. The typical thread had about 2 comments. So, it was a very popular thread.)
The link provided on my blog by the Anthrax Truther is to a different thread started a couple months later, on July 6, 2000. The title of that thread is "I'm sick of Ed Lake's deceitful misquoting." Here's the first post in that thread:
These people know infinitely more than you, Ed. They make millions of dollars a year as a writer. You make nothing. Shut up and listen and learn.That thread contains 55 posts, and there were a number of people on my side. So, what the guy was saying was just his point of view.
Is my rephrasing of what the other guy wrote so far off? Doesn't this:
I have to wonder about a screenplay written by someone so personally opposed to change in his own, actual character. We're supposed to `write what you know.' If you can't find a way to change and grow yourself, how can you write about characters who do? This tells me your `Academy Award winning screenplay' may not be quite as fantastic as you think it is.say basically the same as this?:
[your] inability to sell [your]self via phone calls implie[s] that [your] writing [is] probably pretty bad, too.The guy disapproved of the way I was trying to sell my scripts, and he implied that meant my scripts were probably bad, too. He basically wanted me to go through a personality overhaul so I could sell scripts his way. I was using query letters. He wanted me to do it via phone calls.
In one message in the April 2000 thread, I posted this (which begins with a quote from the other poster):
> Whether or not I meet your high standard, here goes: I have enoughI'd repeatedly explained that making phone calls was not my "thing." My attempts at phone calls seemed to do more harm than good. I'm just not a salesman or pitchman or hustler who can talk people into things. I was writing "spec scripts." ("Spec-scripts" are screenplays written on "speculation," i.e., without getting paid and with only the hope that some producer might read it and buy it. The alternative is to pitch an idea for a movie to a producer in person and then have him pay you to write the actual script.)
Here's one message I posted:
I couldn't sell ice cream in the middle of the Sahara on the phone.Looking at that discussion from a distance of 15 years, now I'm thinking, maybe the screenplay writing business really is different, and the best and fastest way to succeed as a screenwriter is to be a fast-talking pitchman. I probably could have understood that if it had been carefully explained to me that way. (Click HERE for a 2011 article on spec sales.)
I'm not a pitchman, and I never could be one. (I don't want to be one. I'm a writer because I enjoy writing. I would like to sell what I write, but I'm going to write whether I sell anything or not.) So, I failed at screenwriting. Writing novels is what I should be doing. Book publishing is a very different business from the movie business. And, for non-established novelists, selling first novels via query letters is the way it is done -- unless you know someone whose name you can use in a phone call.
These days, when I contact agents about my novels via query letters, they always point out in their responses that they do not want any phone calls to ask about the status of the query. And that is just fine with me.
(BTW, I did a search to see if I actually used the term "Academy Award winning screenplay." I didn't. It was evidently just the other guy's way of belittling and dismissing my screenplay without knowing anything about it.)
So, the problem with "misquoting" isn't anything malicious. It's just that by changing the wording, I try to verify what is being said. If the other person doesn't like the changed wording, it means that they need to clarify exactly what they meant. And, that is done by rephrasing, by using different words, and by EXPLAINING, which is something Truthers seem completely unable to do.
Maybe I need to change tactics again. Maybe I need to try once again to force Anthrax Truthers to explain, instead of rephrasing things to show that their arguments make no sense. (In the past, I've tried forcing them to explain, but they just change the subject until that's all that is being done: Request for an explanation. New topic. Request for explanation. New topic. Request for explanation. New topic. Request for explanation. New topic. Request for explanation. And on and on and on.)
Besides, does anyone want to watch a movie about a quiet, contented writer who goes through a transformation and becomes a fast-talking, tensed-up pitchman? I think it would be a more satisfying movie if a fast-talking pitchman sees the error of his ways and turns into a quiet writer who does what he enjoys doing. There's something "wrong" with a person who enjoys talking other people into doing things to help him make money. On the other hand, there's nothing "wrong" with a guy who does what he likes to do and doesn't bother anyone (except the Lunatic Fringe people who are bothered by anyone who doesn't believe as they believe or do as they do).
|Comments for Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015
thru Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015:
Friday, January 16, 2015 - Someone sent me an email this morning about the latest news in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. They're still hunting for it, but the headline is "Ten months on, Australia confident of finding MH370."
So far, one quarter of the priority underwater search area of 60,000 square kilometres (23,166 square miles) has been checked, while a wider zone of 208,000 square kilometres has been mapped.Click HERE and HERE for other recent articles.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - Overnight an Anthrax Truther on my old interactive blog made a comment that nicely illustrates why I have continued to argue with Anthrax Truthers for 13 years. He wrote:
What do you think a jury's verdict is but a collective OPINION on the validity and weight of constellations of facts/evidence (including testimony) touching on a criminal case?!?!?!?!?!?!?Of course, a jury's verdict is NOT a "collective OPINION." It's a "FINDING." If the jury can unanimously agree, they "find" that, beyond a reasonable doubt, it is a FACT that the defendant is guilty. One purpose of jury selection is to get rid of any potential jurors who have OPINIONS about the case.
I continue to argue with Truthers because they continue to make absurdly false arguments, and I continue to hope that somehow they'll change their minds when it is clearly shown to them that their arguments are totally bogus.
The Truther also argued,
What do you think the Henry Fonda character was trying to do in TWELVE ANGRY MEN but change the opinions of those 11 other jurors?!?!?!?What the Henry Fonda character was trying to do in "12 Angry Men" is exactly what I'm trying to do on my interactive blog. I'm trying to get the others to STOP arguing OPINIONS and to look at the EVIDENCE instead. The other 11 jurors in "12 Angry Men" were all wrapped up in personal beliefs, opinions, prejudices and attitudes, and they were NOT looking at the evidence. One by one, Fonda's character got them to look at the evidence.
Unfortunately, unlike the situation in "12 Angry Men," the other two "jurors" in the Ivins case being "tried" on my interactive blog have absolutely no interest in determining the FACTS. There was no jury selection process. They made up their minds before the deliberations began. They don't care what the evidence says. They are concerned only with convincing others that their own personal opinions and beliefs are "the truth." They don't even care that they don't agree between themselves on what "the truth" is. They evidently just want to show that their opinions and beliefs are superior to any facts or evidence.
Monday, January 12, 2015 - For those who keep track of conspiracy theories, you might find it interesting that, when I did my regular daily Google search for anthrax+2001 this morning, up popped an opinion piece titled "West Africa: Ebola - WHO Created This Terrible Virus and Why?" It begins this way:
Conspiracy theories that Ebola - and HIV - are bio-weapons created by the West to depopulate Africa refuse to die away. Leaks from within Western establishments and the behaviour of these capitalist powers fuel the theories. They are difficult to ignore.And within the piece, a well-known anthrax conspiracy theorist is mentioned:
In his previous articles published in Pambazuka, this writer already relayed the American law professor Francis A. Boyle's interview with Aggeliki Dimopoulou of Greece-based tvxs.gr in which he categorically stated that USA bio-warfare laboratories in West Africa are the origins of the Ebola epidemic.I keep looking for ways to try to get Anthrax Truthers to understand that when they argue that there seem to be more Anthrax Truthers than people who accept the official government findings, the Truthers are including people like Francis Boyle, Alex Jones, Graeme MacQueen and many similar "Truthers" as part of their number. "Truthers" are not great in numbers, they are merely zealots who are great at getting their opinions known and distributed. Just counting the people who get their opinions into the media is like only counting airplanes that crash. No one in the media is running around interviewing people who met friends and relatives on airplanes that landed safely without any problems.
Sunday, January 11, 2015 - I think I'm getting close to starting on my new sci-fi novel. Previously, I felt I first needed to do an overhaul of my web page about the handwriting on the anthrax documents. The current page is a "patch job" that still shows some old thinking and doesn't include some newly found "evidence." I've been working on a totally new version, but it's very slow going. I keep having to go back to my old computer to do graphics, and I keep changing my mind about what is the best way to present all the evidence.
My intent for the new web page was to step through the evidence, item by item, explaining everything in detail until it was clear there was only one conclusion. But, I'm now thinking the best case may be made by using the minimum of information - only the key points. And I already did that in my video about the 12 facts which show that a child just starting first grade wrote the anthrax letters:
I can present all the additional evidence I want, but it won't mean anything to people who just put their hands over their eyes and chant, "I would never use a child that way, and I don't believe anyone else would, either."
So, maybe I should just wait for someone to provide a better explanation for the facts and evidence in the video, instead of constantly trying different ways to get people to look at and discuss what's there plus additional facts and evidence.
Meanwhile, last week I learned a new word: "hypercorrection." The definition from Wikipedia is as follows:
In linguistics or usage, hypercorrection is a non-standard usage that results from the over-application of a perceived rule of grammar or a usage prescription. A speaker or writer who produces a hypercorrection generally believes that the form is correct through misunderstanding of these rules, often combined with a desire to appear formal or educated.On my old interactive blog, I've been arguing for what seems like years with an Anthrax Truther who professes to be a "linguist." He's constantly arguing over the meanings of words, and I've been calling his tedious arguments "word games." It now appears that I should have been saying he is "demonstrating hypercorrection."
Last week, for example, he wrote this:
The word "legal" has at least two antonyms: "illegal" and "extra-legal". The Amerithrax finding was extra-legal, since the legally-constituted body looking into it, the grand jury, did not come up with an indictment. Everything that happened after Ivins' death, excluding the civil suit(s), was extra legal.That would seem to be a perfect example of "an attempt to be 'correct' that leads to an incorrect result." Is "extra-legal" is really an antonym of "legal"? If something is "extra-legal," that means it is "wrong" but still legal, like being mean to your sister or coughing in a public place without covering your mouth. You can't be arrested for doing it, because there are no laws against it. I tried to show the Truther that he was using the term incorrectly, but that just led to arguments where he tried to prove that I was the one who was incorrect.
And, who but an Anthrax Truther would argue that the Amerithrax Investigative Summary is "extra-legal"?
We then got into an argument over the difference between "psychopath" and "sociopath" because the Truther argued that David Willman had stated in his book that Dr. Ivins was a "psychopath." I seriously doubted that, since it's well known that Dr. Ivins' psychiatrist diagnosed Ivins as a "sociopath." To prove he was right, the Truther then cited an anonymous book reviewer on Amazon as saying Ivins was a "psychopath," and he began a long argument about how the mental-health professional who said Dr. Ivins was a "sociopath" cannot be trusted. The Truther then began doing is own diagnosis to prove Ivins was a "psychopath" by using what Ivins had written about his mental problems in his emails and what drugs Ivins was taking.
To me, that made the Anthrax Truther a personification of "hypercorrection." He was clearly wrong, but he is going to argue forever that he was right.
More and more I feel the need to put all the arguments with Anthrax Truthers out of my mind and focus on a new sci-fi novel. Or maybe I should first do a second draft of my second sci-fi novel. I need to get back into "writing mode" and out of "arguing mode."
|Comments for Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015
thru Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015:
Thursday, January 8, 2015 - Someone just pointed out something very interesting about the Frederick News-Post editorial on Kirby Delauter and Delauter's rant about the media using his name without permission. Not only is the title of the editorial "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter," but the first letters of the editorial paragraphs are K, I, R, B, Y, D, E, L, A, U, T, E, R.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (B) - Last night, I watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest was Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, promoting his new book "Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter."
It was an absolutely fascinating interview for me, since it seemed to relate directly to the "groupthink" of Anthrax Truthers.
According to Prof. Sunstein, if you get a bunch of like-minded people together in a room, they will all gradually become more certain about the correctness of their beliefs. Conservatives will also become more conservative. Liberals will also become more liberal.
I've seen this with Anthrax Truthers. They band together and support each other's anti-government rhetoric, becoming more and more anti-government along the way. Because they mostly talk among themselves, they see themselves as the "majority," even though by any reasonable measure they are simply "The Lunatic Fringe." And no two of them seem to have the same view of reality. All they seem to care about is that they agree in their anti-government views.
At about the 17:45 mark in the show, the point is made that if you try to show them statistics and data that proves them to be wrong, they will harden their position and become stronger in their beliefs. I've certainly seen that with Anthrax Truthers. Show them facts and evidence that they are wrong, and they'll come back harder to argue that many people agree with them, as if that disproves all the facts and evidence. They'll start listing and quoting people who agree with them, simply ignoring the evidence which shows those people to be wrong.
I keep wanting to turn the tables on the Anthrax Truthers to show that their own personal theory about who sent the anthrax letters is generally not supported by anyone else. They are each a minority of one. But, they'll always evade that argument and return to arguing that the government is wrong, the government is incompetent, the government is hiding the facts, etc.
Of course, that's why I stopped updating my old web site. And I wonder if I should stop arguing with them altogether. There seems no point to it, other than to prove what is already known: Truthers do not care about facts and evidence. They simply believe what they want to believe.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (A) - This morning, someone sent me a very interesting article showing how ignorant of the law politicians can be. The article in the Washington Post is titled "This post shamelessly uses Frederick County (Md.) Council Member Kirby Delauter’s name without authorization."
It seems that Republican Councilman Kirby Delauter threatened to sue reporter Bethany Rogers if she ever used his name in an article again without getting his approval first.
As of this moment, there are 552 comments after the article, some arguing that no one could be so dumb.
I did a search to see if I could find the original article. I found an article in Time Magazine which says that Bethany Rogers is a reporter for the Frederick News-Post. And I found a Frederick News-Post editorial with this headline: "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter."
I also found these headlines:
The Huffington Post: "Maryland Lawmaker Thinks Press Needs His OK To Use His Name, Which Is 'Kirby Delauter'"
Slate Magazine: "Paper Strikes Back Against Politician Threatening to Sue for Printing His Name—Kirby Delauter"
CBS Sacramento: "Kirby Delauter, County Councilman, Threatens To Sue Newspaper Over Using His Name"
NBC News: "Maryland Councilman Kirby Delauter's Threat to Newspaper Backfires"
And there are dozens of other articles which use Kirby Delauter's name without his permission.
And, I suppose Councilman Delauter can now threaten to sue me for using his name without his permission.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - Hmm. This morning, when I was trying to save a copy of my new blog thread "Subject: Facts vs Evidence," I discovered I had a previous thread I created in May 2013 with the same title. At the top of that old thread, I have a cartoon where a character uses facts to create evidence. The cartoon character says,
"It's a fact that the first anthrax letter had A's and T's highlighted. It's a fact that A and T are the initials of Ali al Timimi, an Islamist militant. That is solid evidence that Islamist militants were behind the anthrax attacks!""Were I to create that same cartoon today, I would probably have him say,
"The first anthrax letter had A's and T's highlighted, and A and T are the initials of Ali al Timimi, an Islamist militant. That evidence establishes as a fact that Islamist militants were behind the anthrax attacks."It's probably funnier the original way, and it's an absurd Truther argument either way. But, how I phrased that comment is good "evidence" that I previously didn't understand the relationship between facts and evidence as used in court.
There's nothing "wrong" with the first version. It's perfectly good English. And most people would fully understand both versions equally well, figuring they mean about the same thing. But, the illustration shows someone establishing evidence in court. In court, a lawyer wouldn't say that facts are "evidence." The second version would be the valid version. (In my own defense, I knew there was something "wrong" with what I was saying, but I never (until yesterday and today) sat down to try to figure out what was correct.)
In more recent posts and comments I've been talking about "facts and evidence" together, without trying to explain what either word meant, because I knew I wasn't sure exactly what they meant and how they related. Now, I can't understand where the confusion was. In colloquial English, facts can be used to establish evidence. It's an undeniable "fact" that some A's and T's were traced over (or highlighted) in the first anthrax letter. And that "fact" can be used as "evidence" in an argument. In court, however, such details in the first anthrax letter would be used as evidence to establish some kind of fact.
I guess this evidence establishes the fact that you're never too old to learn.
Monday, January 5, 2015 - While I'm no longer writing new comments for my web site about the anthrax attacks of 2001, I still have some unfinished tasks that prevent me from focusing on my next sci-fi novel. The first task is write something to clarify the difference between "facts" and "evidence," both for myself and for Anthrax Truthers. I wrote something this morning, but I probably should have worked on it a bit more before loading it as a new thread on my old interactive blog. However, there's nothing preventing me from revising it (other than the time it takes to respond to the arguments I'm still getting from Anthrax Truthers).
A second "task" is to work on my web page about the handwriting on the anthrax documents. In my December 22, 2014 comment on my old site I wrote about some new information regarding the handwriting. It involved some new discoveries. I need to combine that information with what I've already written and totally re-write everything. The current page was written before all the evidence pointing to Dr. Ivins was released, and I later patched in comments about new information that was in the released documents, instead of doing a re-write. The page is currently a messy jumble. The evidence should be laid out very clearly point by point, instead of as a patchwork job.
So, as soon as I finish writing and revising the text starting the thread about "facts vs evidence" on my interactive blog, I'll get to work on a rewrite of my page about the handwriting. (Just to show that I'm not going to try to "hide" anything, I'll leave the old page on my site as an additional reference, as I did with the previous page about the handwriting that I started in 2002.)
Meanwhile, I see I have five posts from Anthrax Truthers pending to my old interactive blog. And I've run out of time for today. So, I'll have to handle those five posts tomorrow morning (along with whatever else comes through.)
Sunday, January 4, 2015 - On Friday of last week, I was peddling away on an Exercycle at the gym. Next to me was a guy who goes to the same gym at about the same time every day. I don't know his name, and he probably doesn't known mine. But, two or three times a week for the past few months we've ended up sitting side by side for awhile. When that happens, we generally exchange a few comments. He usually talks about the weather. (He tried talking about sports, but soon discovered I have no interest in sports.) And, since I have absolutely no talent for small talk, I usually talk about the problems I'm having getting accustomed to my new laptop computer and to Windows 8.1.
On Friday, I mentioned to him that I was starting up a new web site.
"About computers?" he asked.
"No," I replied. "It's about me and things that interest me."
That made no sense to him. He uses a laptop for work and to read the local paper, but otherwise he has no use for computers. Since I've been talking about my computer problems quite a bit, he has come to believe I'm a "computer geek" who just loves playing around with computers and learning about computers.
I found that interesting, since it is totally untrue. I primarily use a computer for writing. My first computer replaced the typewriter I previously used. I wasn't a "typewriter geek" before I got a computer. A computer is just a "tool" for me. That's how I got so out of date on my computer software and hardware. I'm still using software I bought back at the end of the last century. I have no interest in "the latest thing" or what the current "hot new item" is. I don't even own a cell phone. And, of course, I still drive a 1993 Camaro.
And a computer is also a great "tool" for many of my other interests. There was a time when I did oil paintings for a hobby. I ended up selling quite a few, even though I was never a very good artist. (Somewhere I even have a copy of a "newspaper" article about my work as an artist in Milwaukee. "Newpaper" is in quotes because it was a free weekly paper like those you see at the entrance to grocery stores.) Now, instead of paints and ink, I use my computer to design and create the covers for my books. I use my computer to gather illustrations for my non-fiction books. I use my computer to create cartoon illustrations for topics on my interactive blogs and web sites.
I'm also interested in photography, and I previously would show slides to friends and relatives via a slide projector and photo albums. Now I use my computer to view slide-shows of pictures I took all over the world. Instead of using film, I now have a digital camera and I use my computer to edit and file my pictures.
Here's a picture I took when I looked outside this morning:
Instead of sending paper and ink letters to friends and relatives via "snail mail," we all communicate via email. I exchange emails with many people I would never have known without my computer and the Internet. Twelve years ago, I was asked to write a weekly feature about photo analysis for Australia's "People" magazine (no relation to the U.S. magazine of the same name). Over the course of 10 years, I made over $100,000 and never set foot in Australia.
My computer is a fantastic tool. When I was forced to buy a new computer because my old one was slowly grinding to a halt as a result of outdated software, it was like I had to learn almost everything over again. I'm reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars to buy new versions of the software I use on my old computer, so I'm learning how much I can do without buying new software. Every day I discover something new. Most new things aren't better, they're just different.
I even use my computer to keep track of movies I have on DVD. I print out lists and scribble on the lists when I watch or buy a DVD. Then, every few months I do an update and print out new lists.
Yet, I have no particular interest in computers. Calling me a "computer geek" would be like calling Michelangelo a "chisel geek" or calling Leonardo da Vinci a "brush geek" or Alfred Hitchcock a "movie camera geek" or calling Ernest Hemingway a "typewriter geek," although I'm not comparing myself to any of those artists.
My computer is just a tool I use to create things and to express myself. I use it to write as a hobby. If I can find someone to buy what I create, so much the better. There's nothing quite so satisfying as having someone pay you to do things you enjoy, things you would be doing anyway, even if you weren't getting paid.
|Comments for Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015
thru Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015:
Saturday, January 3, 2015 - Someone just sent me another article about a another conspiracy theorist. It's from The New York Times, and the original headline was "Argentina to Extradite Kurt Sonnenfeld, 9/11 'Truther,' on Murder Charge." The article says,
An American who sought refuge in Argentina after he was accused of killing his wife in 2002 should be sent back to the United States, Argentina’s Supreme Court announced this week.
Mr. Sonnenfeld accused the government of hacking into his email and tapping his telephone calls. He has appeared in the news media in Argentina and written a book, published in Spanish, called “El Perseguido” (“The Persecuted”).It seems that one way to get support, even if you are a wanted criminal, is to make your situation part of some kind of criminal conspiracy theory involving the entire U.S. government.
Friday, January 2, 2015 - This web site went "live" on the Internet at about 3 p.m. on Jan. 1. But, I'm not sure if it was just for me on this computer, or if it was for everyone. However, as of this morning it seems to be open to everyone.
People who are familiar with my web site about the anthrax attacks of 2001 know that one of my main interests is conspiracy theorists, particularly the psychology of conspiracy theorists. Yesterday, someone sent me a link to a Boston Globe article titled "Chased From the Courthouse, Bombing Skeptics Continue to Ask Questions." It's from last month, and it's about the "alleged" Boston Marathon bomber:
On Thursday December 18, as Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared for a pre-trial hearing in Boston federal court, a group of protesters gathered outside holding signs either expressing support for Tsarnaev, or meant to cast doubt on the legal proceedings at work.Seems like familiar territory. So is this comment:
Vanetta said. “I don’t want to say the government did this to people, there are just a lot of alarming questions. That’s as far as I would go with it.”I guess it doesn't make any difference that there are pictures of Dzhokhar at the scene of the crime, or that Dzhokhar's brother was killed in a shoot-out with the police after the two brothers killed a police officer. And Dzhokhar was captured hiding not far from the scene of the shootout. As with Anthrax "Truthers" (see my web site at www.anthraxinvestigation.com) the Boston Bombing "Truthers" want answers to questions about things that have little or nothing to do with the evidence against the alleged killer.
A 40 year old post-grad student from the UK, who declined to give his name, sent me an onslaught of similar questions about specific details of the case and how it’s been handled, ranging from the specific dimensions of the backpacks (and how they don’t seem large enough to hold the pressure cookers said to have been used as the bombs), to the timing of the FBI’s introduction of the brothers as suspects, to the logistics of security camera footage, and the feasibility of the timing of the placement of the bombs.And just like Anthrax "Truthers," until they get the answers they want, they're going to believe what they want to believe.
It doesn't help that some totally unrelated news was released recently (and someone sent me an email about it) which resulted in this headline from FOX news: "CIA admits: All those UFO sightings in 1950s? 'It was us'."
Actually, it isn't "all those UFO sightings," it just some of them where objects were seen far too high to be any known aircraft of the time.
Lastly, someone sent me an email about a mystery disease in Kazakhstan which seems to cause people to fall asleep for days. Click HERE, HERE and HERE for a few of the links.
I wish I had more time to study all these subjects and write more about them, but I've got a kazillion things I need to do first, mostly having to do with the new year and the fact that I have a new computer which works differently than my old computer, and I've got this new web site which works differently than my old web site. So, it takes me a bit longer to do everything.
I really need to get organized.
Thursday, January 1, 2015 - I suppose I could start with some New Year's resolutions:
Resolution #1: I will try to complete all three of my new sci-fi novels before the end of the year (and hopefully during the first quarter). Book #1 is "done," the first draft of Book #2 is done, but I haven't yet started on Book #3.
Resolution #2: I need to stop buying so many DVDs!
Resolution #3: I will learn how to fix the problem with the touchpad on my laptop computer all by myself.