Archive for
November 2015

Comments for Sunday, November 22, 2015, thru Monday, Nov. 30, 2015:

November 30, 2015 - Life is becoming too complicated!!!!   I recent read that CBS will have a new Star Trek series starting in January 2017. 
The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast of the premiere episode on the CBS Television Network, and the premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access.
Groan!  "CBS All Access" is "streaming video":
The new program will be the first original series developed specifically for U.S. audiences for CBS All Access, a cross-platform streaming service that brings viewers thousands of episodes from CBS’s current and past seasons on demand, plus the ability to stream their local CBS Television stations live for $5.99 per month. CBS All Access already offers every episode of all previous Star Trek television series.
Would I want to pay $5.99 per month JUST to watch the new Star Trek series?  Almost certainly NOT.  And I have no general interest in watching any old CBS shows - except for those I already have on DVD.  So, assuming I like the first episode of the new Star Trek series, I'll have to wait until the first season comes out on DVD before I'll be able to see it.

When I was visiting relatives in Virginia in October, they had Netflix.  The only thing we found worth watching on Netflix while I was there were the first six episodes of "Doc Martin" from 2004.  Fortunately, I brought along four movies on DVD.  We watched them all.

I keep reading about "Orange is the New Black," a series on Netflix - supposedly it's their most popular series.  On Black Friday I spotted a copy of the first season on Blu-Ray for $4.99.  I bought it.  I have no idea whether I'll enjoy it or not, but it was worth $4.99 just to quench my curiosity.  I also spent $9.99 to buy season 1 of "Game of Thrones" on DVDs for the exact same reason:  I want to know what everyone is talking about!      

Back in September of 2012, I spent $29.96 to buy DVDs for season 1 of "Homeland" and $14.96 for season 1 of "Breaking Bad" for the same reason.  I wanted to know what everyone was talking about.  I found out.  I also found that I had no impulse to buy any subsequent seasons of either series.  I have a serious problem with "soap opera" shows that just go on forever without any resolution to any main issue.  I like movies.  And I prefer that my TV shows be complete stories in every episode.  TV shows that go on, episode after episode, without any significant resolution to anything really annoy me. 

But, I digress.  The problem is that there are too many TV options available today.  There are entire TV NETWORKS that I've never heard of.  I've got FIVE different remote controls for my TV and various TV-related devices.  When I was in Virginia, they had FOUR different remote controls, and NONE worked the exact same way mine work - not even the TV remote control. 

I think one reason for this rant is because I'm in a discussion with people on a SeaMonkey support forum where I'm trying to figure out a problem.  And I'm learning that almost NO ONE does things the way I do.  Does that mean I'm doing things in a "wrong" way?  No.  It means there are so many options today that everyone ends up doing things in a different way.  And, as a result, it's very difficult to understand each other when you have a problem so solve.  In other words, Life is becoming too complicated!

November 29, 2015 - Uh oh.  Last week, I was busy with holiday-related matters and didn't have time to prepare a Sunday comment for today.  So, once again I'm going to have to write one from scratch.

I wish I had the time to write something about Right Wing Terrorists and how Right Wing terrorists do not frighten the easily frightened Right Wingers the way foreign terrorists do. 

I'd also like to write more about Donald Trump and his campaign to be "Clown in Chief" or "Clown of the United States," but I think this cartoon says it all:

Donald Trump - Chief

Instead, I feel like writing something about Time.  The audio book I've been listening to while working out at the gym has started getting into the areas that are of particular interest to me.  The book is titled
"About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang," and last week I was reading a section about Albert Einstein, Time Dilation and the concept of simultaneity.  The book explains things the way I felt they should be explained, but I never saw things explained that way before.  I.e., Time is different for everything and everyone, but we've all agreed to use a common measurement for time.

"About Time" describes in detail the hassle involved in getting everyone in the United States to use a common method for measuring time.  Prior to the late 1800's, virtually every town in America - and sometimes different sections of the same town - had their own time.  It was based upon when some local expert determined the sun to be at its highest in the sky, therefore marking "12 o'clock noon."  Clocks were set and the 24 hours in the day were measured from that point.  People liked things that way, and they didn't want to have to change when "12 o'clock noon" occurred just to satisfy "the government" or the rich owners of railroads (who couldn't publish railroad schedules when every town along the rail line determined for itself when "12 o'clock noon" occurred). 

When everyone determines "12 o'clock noon" independently from everyone else, when a man facing south starts measuring minutes and seconds and fractions of seconds past "12 o'clock noon," his time would be slightly different from noon for someone standing to his left or to his right.  We all agreed (willingly or  not) to stop doing things that way. 

However, even when we agree to use a common measurement for when "12 o'clock noon" occurs, Time is still different for every one of us when you start measuring Time in nanoseconds and microseconds.  That's because Time is affected by speed and by gravity (and possibly by temperature).  Nevertheless, we've all agreed (whether we know it or not) to use a common method for measuring the passage of time because it helps us communicate with one another.

That brings me to the "scientific paper" I've been thinking about writing.  It seems it wouldn't be anything "new."  It would just explain things in a different way.   My "scientific paper" on "Time Dilation," for example, used a pulsar to measure time instead of using mechanical clocks, because using a pulsar illustrates Time Dilation in a different way than how it is typically viewed.

If I ever get around to writing a paper on "What is Time?", the paper will (I think) explain that Time Dilation occurs because there is a limit to how fast things can go (i.e., the speed of light), and there are ways to speed up and slow down the spinning of electrons in the atoms that comprise our bodies and the objects around us.  If I can slow down that spinning, I can slow down Time.  Because of the effects of gravity on the passage of time, I slow down Time whenever I leave my second-floor apartment and go down to ground level.  Because of the effects of speed on the passage of time, I slow down Time whenever I drive my car somewhere - or just walk somewhere.  The reverse is also true: When I stop my car at a stoplight, Time speeds up while I'm waiting.  And when I go up to my 2nd floor apartment, time will be running faster there.  The differences in "the speed of Time" are just so small (fractions of a microsecond) that they can only be measured by the most sensitive instruments.

Which seems to give us one answer to the question: What is Time?  Answer: Time is the speed of the electrons in the atoms from which we and all things are made.  Alter the speed of those spinning electrons and you alter Time for the object.  Time began when those atoms were created and the electrons started spinning, and Time will end when the electrons in those atoms stop spinning.      

That also seems to mean that Time relates to Entropy.   Time, like Entropy, goes only in one direction: from the time when the electrons started spinning to the time when they stop spinning.  The Universe is a clockwork of atoms with spinning electrons, slowly winding down. 

Or maybe not.  I need to see if anyone has disproved that concept.  I also need to understand and visualize all the ramifications of that explanation of Time.  I have no plans to explain what started the spinning.  I'll leave that to someone else.

November 27, 2015 - I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2015 - I doubt that anyone will care, but I finished reading "The Black Echo" this morning at about 10:30 a.m.  The Kindle version ends at the 88% point.  That's one minor problem with reading books on a Kindle (and probably on a Nook), you can't easily check to see how close you are to being done.  It was a novel, so there weren't any Indexes or References at the end.  The last 12 percent of the Kindle file was a sample of the "The Black Ice," the next Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly.  I didn't read it. 

Michael Connelly is a crime reporter for The Los Angeles Times, so he has cop lingo down pat.  "The Black Echo" could be called a "hard boiled" detective story.  It was published in 1991, which means it's about a world when there were no cell phones, and people are constantly looking for phone booths. 

"The Black Echo" was a very enjoyable book, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to start reading "The Black Ice" (even though I'm considering putting it on hold at my library).  I think I'm going to stare at a blank computer screen for awhile and try to come up with a story line for my sci-fi novel.

Meanwhile, someone on a Facebook forum posted a link to a CBS News article titled "Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048."  It begins with this:

The apocalypse has a new date: 2048.

That's when the world's oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change.
Another Facebook comment on that same forum links to an "Addicting Info" article titled "Top U.S. Psychiatrists Confirm Trump’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, ‘Textbook Case’."  It begins with this:

A striking number of leading mental health experts are concerned enough about the possibility of a Trump presidency that they’re willing to speak out, publicly, about the candidate’s “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder.”

During a recent interview with Vanity Fair, developmental psychologist Howard Gardnera professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, referred to Trump as “remarkably narcissistic,” while clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis  used the term “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” to describe Trump.

The links go to the Vanity Fair article titled "Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!"  It contains this:
“He’s very easy to diagnose,” said psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan. “In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.”
So I stand corrected.  Donald Trump isn't stupid.  He's actually mentally ill.  

The other Republican candidates, however, are still best described as "stupid."

November 24, 2015 - A few weeks ago, I noticed an article on The Huffington Post titled "The 10 Books At Garage Sales You Should Never Pass Up."  #1 on the list was "The Black Echo" by Michael Connelly. 

"The Black
                  Echo" by Michael Connelly

The Huffington Post article says,

Those who discovered master mystery writer Michael Connelly with The Lincoln Lawyer series shouldn't overlook his earlier novels. This prolific writer of almost 30 published novels debuted in 1992 with The Black Echo, a book that promptly scooped up the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. Black Echo introduces readers to the principal character LAPD Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. This folks, is where the Connelly dynasty started.
That was enough for me to reserve it at my local library.  When it became available, I downloaded it into my Kindle, and yesterday I started reading it.  I finished 36 percent and will try to get another good percentage done today.  It's a real "page turner" with really interesting characters and an interesting story.  I probably should be writing my own book, but reading a good book seems better than just staring at a blank screen all day trying to figure out what to write.          

November 22, 2015 - Something has to change!  Yesterday, I spent hours sitting at my computer staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what to write about in this Sunday comment.  I should have spent those hours sitting at my computer staring at a blank screen trying to figure out the plot for my new book.

I wanted to write another comment about the abysmal STUPIDITY of the Republican candidates for President, but there are lots of people already doing that, and I don't really have much else to add.  (See "Donald Trump's Plan for a Muslim Database Draws Comparison to Nazi Germany" and "Muslims React After Ben Carson Calls Syrians Rabid Dogs," plus every other stupid thing Ben Carson, Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates have said.)

I also don't want this web site to turn into me just describing what books I've been reading - or listening to.  (Because I've finished "Simple Genius," I'm back to reading
"The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference" during breakfast and lunch, and listening to "The Mental Floss History of the World" when I'm driving my car.  I've got a stack of books waiting to be read, and a bunch of audio books waiting to be listened to.  I'm very tempted to do what I just did with "Simple Genius" and binge-read another novel from cover to cover in a day or two.)

Meanwhile, I keep wanting to write a "scientific paper" titled "What Is Time?" But, what I would write about seems so obvious that I can't understand why others haven't already written about it.   While on the treadmill at the gym, I've started listening to an audio book titled "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang": 

"About Time" by
                  Adam Frank

I thought it might say what I wanted to say about "What is Time?"  But, so far it's more of a history book than a science book.  It's mostly about how people have measured time over the centuries and why they needed and wanted to measure time.  It is not about what they are measuring, nor is it about why Time can be measured differently for one twin than it is for the other twin in the "Twin Paradox."  Maybe "About Time" will get into that later.  Or maybe not.    

This web site is very different from my previous web site.  I created my old web site as a result of arguments on newsgroup forums with people who refused to look at evidence about the anthrax attack so 2001 and only argued their beliefs.  For over ten years I mostly just wrote about arguments with Anthrax Truthers.

That lasted until January 1 of this year, when it was abundantly clear that the FBI had identified who was responsible for the anthrax attacks (two years earlier, I had written a book about exactly how Bruce Ivins did it), and there didn't seem to be any point in arguing with the Anthrax Truthers who still had their own theories based solely upon beliefs, NOT upon science or evidence.  Obviously, they were never going to look at the facts or change their minds.  So, I stopped updating the old site and created this web site.  I thought this site would be mostly about my progress with writing my three sci-fi novels and trying to get them published.  But, instead I'm suffering from "writer's block" (and too many other things to do, like writing for this web site), and I can't seem to get started on novel #3.  I also got into arguments with Rationalized Semantic Methodists, which lasted for a few months, until they all locked themselves up in "closed groups" so they wouldn't have to discuss anything with anyone who looked at facts and evidence.  (They don't believe in evidence!)

I sometimes wonder if I should start using this site to write funny comments in the form of "short stories," using fictional characters to discuss human nature or the events of the day.  But, I couldn't do that every day or two.  At best, I could do one such comment per week - if that.  The idea is that it would get me back in the habit of writing dialog and developing characters.  So, what would such a comment look like?  I dunno.  Maybe I should give it a try:

Nope.  I tried and got nothing I would want others to see.

I keep wondering if I should write the 3rd novel in "Third Person" instead of "First Person," as I did with the first two novels.  (Lee Child writes some of his Jack Reacher novels in first person, others in third person.)  But I need to come up with a good story first.

I keep writing comments about how the novels and short stories I read and like have silly or unbelievable plots and endings, yet I enjoy reading them because it's the journeys that I enjoy, not the destinations.

Obviously, I need to stop writing about wanting to do things and just start doing them.

Groan!  There are just too many interesting things going on in this world.  It's like trying to figure out a puzzle while clowns keep jumping over you, gunshots keep being heard, and people around you are always gasping and laughing and shouting and then going silent all of a sudden.  How can a person get any work done with all this interesting stuff going on!!!

Comments for Sunday, November 15, 2015, thru Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015:

November 20, 2015 - I just finished reading "Simple Genius."  It's an excellent "thriller," although I there were some things about the ending that I didn't particularly like.  I evidently don't have the same pessimistic view of human nature and American politics that David Baldacci has. 

As of last night, I've also decided to stop watching "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah."  I regularly watched the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for the entire sixteen years Stewart was the host, but the Trevor Noah seems to have a more cruel sense of humor, which I don't enjoy, and it's not as funny watching a South African make fun of American politicians is it was watching an American do it.  

November 19, 2015 - Groan.  Yesterday, I had to go to the store for something, and en route I decided to stop in a different store that sells used DVD movies.  They didn't have anything of interest.  But they also sell used books.  I tried to resist, but I ended up browsing through their used books section.  I came across a paperback copy of  "Simple Genius" by David Baldacci.

"Simple Genius"
                  by David Baldacci 

I liked the title, and I've been seeing David Baldacci's name a lot when I browse books available at my library.  But, it was the blurb on the first page that really got my attention:

In a world of secrets,
human genius is power, and
sometimes it is simply deadly ...

Near Washington D.C., there are two clandes-
tine institutions: the world's most unusual labo-
ratory and a secret CIA training camp.  Drawn to
those sites by a murder, ex-Secret Service  agent
Sean King encounters a dark work of mathema-
ticians, codes, and spies.  His search for answers
soon leads him to more shocking violence - and
an autistic girl with an extraordinary genius.
Now, only by working with his embattled partner,
Michelle Maxwell, can he catch a killer ... and
solve a stunning mystery that threatens the entire
The book consists of 94 short chapters, 530 pages.  The urge was irresistible.  I paid my 93 cents (89 cents, plus 4 cents tax) and bought it.  I'm on page 128 as I take a break to write this.  Looks like it will be my main read until I'm finished, probably some time tomorrow.    

November 18, 2015 - Yesterday afternoon, I finished listening to the Jack Reacher novella "High Heat," by Lee Child.  It was kind of silly, but still well written.  It depicts Jack Reacher as a 16-year-old during the New York City blackout of 1977.  At that age he's already 6 foot 5 and 230 pounds, and smart enough to help smash a drug ring run by a gangster, and while doing that, he spots The Son of Sam on the prowl during the blackout.  Silly but still okay.

So, now I have to figure out what to listen to when I go to the gym tomorrow.  I have several possibilities I'm eager to start, it's just a matter of picking which audio book to listen to first.  Decisions, decisions.  I also have a novel on my Kindle that I'm anxious to start reading

I watched the movie "Jurassic World" last night.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I figured it would be okay, but it was the most enjoyable movie I've seen in a long time.  And the two stars - Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard  - were terrific.  Both are evidently already signed for the sequel.  Chris Pratt looks like a tough guy ready to take on anything.  Bryce Dallas Howard is the daughter of director Ron Howard and very much reminded me of a young Julia Roberts.

I also read the Newsweek article titled "Paris Attacks Show 9/11 Changed Everything and Nothing."  It explains how stopping terrorists will take a lot of time, and it's very easy to try some quick action that will only make things worse.  If you have angry young people who are willing to blow themselves up for their cause and their beliefs, they are very hard to stop.  They are called "terrorists" because one person can "terrorize" millions. 129 people were killed in last Friday's attacks, and over 350 were injured.  Millions were "terrorized."  Terrorized people stop thinking rationally at a time when rational thinking is what is most needed.  The problem began when President Bush decided to invade Iraq and depose a dictator who was keeping various religious factions in check.  He didn't have enough facts, and he solved a minor problem by creating a vastly larger problem.  We've already done that too often.  We don't want to do it again.

November 17, 2015 - Yesterday, while on the treadmill at the gym, I finished listening to "What Einstein Told His Barber," a "popular science" book I found to be very enjoyable.  Then, later, when I got on the Exercycle, I started listening to "Second Son," a Jack Reacher short story by Lee Child that is the 2nd part of an audio book titled "Three Jack Reacher Novellas":  

3 Jack Reacher novellas -
                  audio book

"Second Son" is just a short story, not a "novella."  It's an okay story lasting less than an hour.  I finished listening at home, using my new speaker set.  I'd listened to "Deep Down" from a different source last week, so I'll start on "High Heat" today.  It's a true "novella" that takes up about three quarters of the audio book.

None of this is helping me get started on writing my own book.  I keep knocking around ideas, looking for one that seems irresistible, but, it seems I have too many things going on, so I don't have the time to focus on finding the best idea for the third part of a three-part series.  It can't be about a terrorist attack.  I did that in the first book.  It can't be about some personal issue for one of the lead characters.  I did that in the second book.  So, it seems it has to be either about solving some murder of national importance or solving some espionage crime, which would also be of national importance.  That's all I seem to know for certain, and I'm not certain how certain I am of that.

November 15, 2015 - I haven't been commenting on the terrorist attacks in Paris because I don't think I would have much to add to what is being said better by
countless others.  Moreover, I'd probably just rant about how the 9/11 conspiracy theorists undoubtedly still cannot believe that anyone - even a radical Muslim - would deliberately fly an airplane full of people into a building full of people, and how those conspiracy theorists probably think the Paris attacks must all be part of some government conspiracy, too.  Or do they believe only the American government orchestrates massive criminal conspiracies?

I did find an article titled "Debunked: Fake images and rumours around Paris attack," but it seems to be more about people erroneously misinterpreting things than about imagined deliberate government plots and plans to mislead the public.

I also considered writing a comment about the Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people.  But, all I would have said was that we need to follow the facts and evidence, since it is clear that there are people who do not want to believe the evidence because it will make them look incompetent, and they will work hard to make certain others disbelieve the evidence, too.

My heart goes out to the people whose lives were damaged or ended by the attacks in Paris - and by the loss of Metrojet Flight 9268.  I just hope that the governments' responses will be both quick and carefully thought out.

What I'd planned to write about this morning is in many ways related to reacting and over-reacting to terrorist attacks and other terrible events. 

I've been watching an PBS TV series called "The Brain - with David Eagleman," and in episode #4 they mentioned that conservatives have a very strong reaction to disgusting images.  You can show a large group of people some disgusting images and, based upon their reactions, determine with 95% accuracy which ones are conservatives and which are liberals.  I found that finding to be very intriguing, since it seemed to fit a lot of patterns I had observed.  So, I did a Google search for "conservatives" and "disgust."   To my surprise, I found many articles on the topic, resulting from multiple scientific studies

I found a Newsweek article titled "Liberal or Conservative? How Your Brain Reacts to Disgusting Images Reveals Your Political Affiliation."  It's about a study done by P. Read Montague, a scientist at Virginia Tech, and associates.  Here are a couple quotes from the article:
Conservatives and liberals really are wired differently. Scientists can accurately predict whether a subject is left-wing tree-hugger or a right-wing gun-toter based on how their brains respond to certain images, a new study in Current Biology has found.

The test proved surprisingly accurate.  "A single disgusting image was sufficient to predict each subject's political orientation," Montague said.  "I haven't seen such clean predictive results in any other functional imaging experiments in our lab or others." 

Another article in Psychology Today is titled "Are You Easily Disgusted? You May Be a Conservative."  It's about a study done by Kevin Smith from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, along with some associates.
So what's the political connection? Evidence suggests that harm avoidance and the need for fairness underlie people's moral judgments in a number of cultures. While liberals rely primarily on these two values, conservatives also rely on desires for group loyalty, authoritative structure, and, most importantly here, purity.
Another article titled "Disgust Sensitivity, Political Conservatism, and Voting" is written by Yoel Inbar, a scientist from the Netherlands, and some American associates.  Here's the abstract:
In two large samples (combined N = 31,045), we found a positive relationship between disgust sensitivity and political conservatism. This relationship held when controlling for a number of demographic variables as well as the “Big Five” personality traits. Disgust sensitivity was also associated with more conservative voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In Study 2, we replicated the disgust sensitivity–conservatism relationship in an international sample of respondents from 121 different countries. Across both samples, contamination disgust, which reflects a heightened concern with interpersonally transmitted disease and pathogens, was most strongly associated with conservatism.
There are probably others as well.  Those are just the first three studies I came across.

Perhaps even more interesting, when I started typing the words to do a Google search, Google incorrectly anticipated what I was looking for and tried to provide links to articles about how conservatives are afraid of flying.  That rang a bell, since all the conservatives I know seem to be afraid of flying.   But, looking at the articles Google provided, most didn't say anything about fear of flying, they just seemed to say that conservatives are just more afraid of everything.

I found an article in Psychology Today from 2011 titled "Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds."   It says,
Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.
Ah!  That fits with a lot of personal observations PLUS what I've been reading about "Fast and Slow Thinking."

Here's an interesting quote from a article titled "Secrets of the right-wing brain: New study proves it — conservatives see a different, hostile world":

Conservative fears of nonexistent or overblown boogeymen — Saddam’s WMD, Shariah law, voter fraud, Obama’s radical anti-colonial mind-set, Benghazi, etc. — make it hard not to see conservatism’s prudent risk avoidance as having morphed into a state of near permanent paranoia, especially fueled by recurrent “moral panics,” a sociological phenomenon in which a group of “social entrepreneurs” whips up hysterical fears over a group of relatively powerless “folk devils” who are supposedly threatening the whole social order. Given that conservatism seems to be part of human nature — just as liberalism is — we’re going to need all the help we can get in figuring out how to live with it, without being dominated, controlled and crippled by it.
Some other articles:
New Republic: "Fear of Ebola Could Make People More Likely to Vote Conservative." "Conservatives Scare More Easily Than Liberals, Say Scientists"

Forbes: "Are Political Conservatives Inherently Fearful and Angry?" "Conservative Politicians Campaign on Fear - And it Works."
The article contains this quote:
Halloween ought to be the Republican presidential candidates’ favorite holiday—they love to scare people. Donald Trump warned us about Mexican rapists and job-stealers; Ted Cruz said people should be afraid of gay marriage because it’s the greatest threat to religious liberty; Ben Carson likened the Obama administration to the Nazis; and Mike Huckabee claimed the Iran deal would lead Israelis to “the door of the oven.”

This rhetoric is based on fear. If you ever find yourself voting from your gut and not your head, take some deep breaths. Nothing good ever comes from fear-driven decisions.

Rational decisions come from weighing the pros and cons of a policy. But when fear enters the equation, people give more weight and importance to some considerations than they actually deserve.
I couldn't have said it better myself.  The Republican candidates for President are a bunch of fear-mongers.  Moreover, each seems to be dumber than the other.  And the current leader of the bunch, Ben Carson, sometimes seems to be the dumbest of the bunch, even though at other times it seems impossible that anyone could be dumber than Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul, or Rick Santorum, or Carly Forina, or Lindsey Graham or the rest.

Ben Carson's nutty theory
                  about the pyramids 

Ben Carson not only believes that the Pyramids were created to store grain, not as tombs for Pharohs, he seems totally immune to any evidence to the contrary.  In his speech where he laid out his beliefs, he also talked about how "various scientists claimed there were alien beings that came down and they had special knowledge, and that is how they were done."  So, for Mr. Carson it is a choice between his claim that scientists say the Pyramids were built by alien beings with "special knowledge," or by Joseph to store grain, as he believes.  He chooses the less stupid option of the two stupid options he created - while evidently ignoring or being totally ignorant of all the scientific facts and evidence.  

Is it fear or is it stupidity that drives conservatives?  Or is some combination?  Is it any surprise that tests show conservatives are more likely than liberals to be shocked by sudden threats?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."    
We're not going to get that kind of leadership from conservative fear mongers.

Comments for Sunday, November 8, 2015, thru Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015:

November 14, 2015 - I've made another step forward into the 21st Century.  Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 

I just bought a set of speakers I can use with my MP3 player when I don't want to use earphones, like when preparing meals, eating and just laying on my couch resting.  The speakers cost a whopping seven dollars and forty-nine cents ($7.49).  But they work great.  Here's what the speakers and my MP3 player look like when connected:

MP3 player with
                    attached speakers
This now means I can listen to an audio book while making lunch and eating lunch; I can then disconnect the speakers and go to the gym, where I can continue listening to the book using my earphones while exercising.  And when I return home again, I can continue listening via the speakers while laying on the couch resting.  It eliminates any need to create audio book CDs, except for when I listen to an audio book while driving.

Before buying the speakers, I researched them on  I saw a lot of comments about the fact that the speakers come without instructions, and it's a real puzzle to figure out how they work - if someone hasn't given you some clues ahead of time.  The speakers come in a tiny box (3¼ x 3¼ x 4¾ inches), and it unfolds like some tiny "Transformer."  The big puzzle comes when you want to find the audio jack that connects to your MP3 player instead of the earphones jack.  The audio jack and connecting cable are hidden inside, and you have to remove the little plastic drawer you see in the above picture with "Insten" printed on it.  That is on the back of the device when it arrives.  You have to remove it, which requires a lot of FORCE, enough to make you afraid that you might break something.  That opens the space were the audio jack is located.  Then the plastic drawer is reinserted in front to hold the MP3 player.  The pocket where the batteries (four AAA batteries) are located is equally hard to open, but the "User Manual" (which is one page and the size of a Post-it note) points to where it is.  The speakers can also be used with an AC adapter (not included) or by connecting it to your computer with via a USB cable and plug (included).

Once it's together, it works great.  And you can't beat the price.

It's just what I need: something else to occupy more of my time and keep me from doing the things I should be doing.      

November 13, 2015 - The other day, someone on a Facebook science discussion group (HERE) posted this animated gif without comment:

relating a spiral to a wave

A lot of Facebook members responded with very favorable comments, and even more shared the image elsewhere.  For me, it was like a "clue."  It fits with my visualization of how an electron will move in a corkscrew or wave-like pattern as the atom to which it belongs is accelerated laterally to high speeds. 

Later, while listening to "What Einstein Told His Barber" as I worked out at the gym, the person reading the book to me started describing how all the atoms in the universe started their spinning shortly after the Big Bang.  What was not said was when they will stop spinning.  Nor did the book go into how the spinning can be slowed down by gravity or speed.  Nor when the spinning is slowed down, the atom appears to experience a slowdown in the passage of Time, i,e., "Time Dilation."  There's a jumble of fascinating information before me that needs to be sorted out.  The animated gif looks like a "clue" to sorting it all out, but it may also just be a distraction.  Either way, it was still an interesting find.

November 11, 2015 - This morning, I decided to listen to the Jack Reacher short story "Deep Down" that I'd borrowed from the library a few days ago and burned onto 2 CDs. 

"Deep Down" by
                  Lee Child

As I started listening, it seemed to have a few familiar things about it, but it was still enjoyable to just lay on my couch with my eyes closed, drinking my morning decaf and have the story read to me.  But then there were more and more familiar things about it, and near the end it became a certainty that it was something I'd previously read.  I do not typically read short stories.  Was it some kind of "bonus" at the end of a Jack Reacher novel I'd read?  I did a Google search through this web site and found nothing except my November 4 comment saying I'd borrowed the short story "Deep Down" from the library.  Then I did a Google search through my old web site and there it was, a comment saying I'd started reading it on February 9, 2014, after finishing "A Wanted Man."  I'd undoubtedly finished reading "Deep Down" that day or the next.

Ah well.  No harm done.  It was still an enjoyable hour and 43 minutes.  Did I enjoy reading it more than listening to it?  Possibly.  There's no way to tell.   There's a lot of pleasure that comes from having your eyes closed and just relaxing while a story is being read to you.  I can think of nothing else I do that is even remotely similar.

ADDED NOTE: Hmm.  Just after I finished writing the above comment, I received an email from my library notifying me that another Jack Reacher short story, "Not a Drill," was available for me to download.  It's definitely not a story I've read before:

"Not a Drill"
                  by Lee Child    

So, then I had to decide if I should listen to it in the afternoon or sometime later.  "Deep Down" had great reviews.  "Not a Drill" has pretty bad reviews.

I decided to listen to it this afternoon after doing some chores.  (It's not a day I go to the gym.)  While I found the ending (the last 15 minutes) less than satisfying, I thoroughly enjoyed the first hour and 15 minutes, even laughing out loud a few times, feeling a lot of suspense and tension at other times - as an unusual and complex mystery is being described.  For me, the key to good story telling is the journey, not the destination.  So, while the destination at the end may have been less than terrific, the journey was thoroughly enjoyable.  It seems, however, that many reviewers were expecting something more for their money -- since they all paid $1.99 to read "Not a Drill."  For me, it was a library read and cost nothing.  I thought it was a great way to spend an hour and a half.  

November 10, 2015 - When I was in the Air Force many many many years ago, I served as a "Weather Observer."  Among other things, that meant I had to learn how to identify 21 different types of clouds, so that I could report what I had observed.  One type of cloud I never saw, because I was never stationed near any mountains, was "altocumulous standing lenticular."  Interestingly, while prowling the Internet this morning, I found several pictures of such clouds.  The first is a recent picture of them over Cape Town, from a Huffington Post article titled, "'UFO' Clouds Over South Africa Look Like An Alien Invasion."

Lenticular clouds over
                  Cape Town, South Africa

Another photo of such clouds, which was posted in a comment in response to the above photo, was evidently taken somewhere in the USA:

Altocumulous standing lenticular clouds

And I have no idea where this third one was taken:

Altoculular Standing Lenticular clouds

Doing a Google image search for "altocumulous standing lenticular," I found the picture below showing them the way they are expected to be seen, since they are created when warm, moist winds blow up the side of a mountain into cold air:

Altocumulous standing

November 9, 2015 - Yesterday, I listened to a science audio book "cover to cover."  Its title is "A Black Hole is NOT a Hole."

A Black Hole is NOT a
It looked interesting when I saw it as I browsed through the science and technology audio books available at my library, and the first 5 minute "sample" also seemed interesting.  So, I "borrowed" it.  Then I learned that it consisted of only 1 file that was 1  hour and 17 minutes in length and could be burned onto 1 CD.  So, I created the CD, since I prefer listening to CDs through speakers when laying around my apartment, instead of using my MP3 player via earphones.

It turned out that the book is a "kid's book."  But that just means it didn't get into any really deep mathematics or complex explanations, which was fine with me.  It was still interesting and educational.

One thing it mentioned that I'd never heard of before was that there are "lumpy" black holes.  They are black holes that have just been created and have not yet been crushed by gravity into a sphere or singularity.  A black hole that was just created out of two black holes might be a good example.  Until gravity crushes everything into a single sphere, it could produce unusual gravitational effects, since its mass is "lumpy."  What that says to me is that a black hole does not have to have a "singularity" at its center.  If a black hole can have two "singularities" that have not yet merged into one, or just a lumpy mass that has not yet been compressed into a "singularity," then it doesn't have to have a "singularity" at all.

I have a problem visualizing a "singularity" that has a different mass than another "singularity."  I see no reason why a black hole cannot have a super-dense sphere the size of a golf ball at its center.  Or the size of a baseball.  Or the size of a moon.  It seems that physicists just have no explanation for why gravity would reach a "maximum density" instead of compressing down to a point of infinite density.  So, they visualize that the center of a black hole is a "singularity."  They may certainly be right, but if there can be black holes which have not yet become a "singularity," then there may be no such thing as a "singularity."  Unless, of course, someone can explain why "singularities" must exist.   

November 8, 2015 - Last week was very educational for me in many ways - mostly related to my new MP3 player.  While the MP3 player seems great for listening to audio books while working out at the gym, it doesn't really fit well with the other times I might want to listen to audio books. 

For example, I quickly realized that making lunch (or breakfast) is NOT an automatic (subconscious) chore I do without really thinking.  Plus, eating while I have earphone plugs in my ears is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, instead of using my MP3 player during those times, I continued reading from my Kindle while eating breakfast and lunch.  Right now I'm reading a psychology/sociology book titled "The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference."

The Tipping Point

I also realized that it's not a good idea to drive while you have earphone plugs inserted into your ears.  So, while driving, I'm listening to CDs I burned for "The Mental Floss History of the World," a light-hearted history book that required me to "burn" 17 CDs (15 hours and 32 minutes of reading broken into 17 segments). 

Mental Floss History of
                  the World

I'm really enjoying listening to that book.  Previously while driving, I listened to an "oldies" music station, because there is no longer any radio station in my area that plays jazz.  I'd tried playing jazz CDs while driving, but I somehow preferred the "oldies" station.  (I play jazz cassettes all day long while working on my computer.)  I found it's much more enjoyable listening to amusing and interesting history tidbits from an audio book than to music I don't really enjoy.  (I listen to the "oldies" station because it is simply better than anything else I can find on the radio.)  The only "problem" I had listening to the book was that I didn't know enough about the CD player in my car to realize I could press "pause" while I got out of the car to open or close my garage door.  Before I found the pause button, I missed about 20 or 30 seconds of the first part of the book.  Live and learn.

Meanwhile, at the gym, I found that I can listen to my MP3 player from the time I've changed into my workout clothes until I take them off again to take a shower.  As expected, the MP3 player works very well when I'm on the treadmill and on the Exercycle, plus I found there's no problem counting repetitions while listening to an audio book.  Counting reps is evidently a nearly automatic (subconscious) activity.  I might lose count occasionally because I'm listening to the book, but I never forget to listen while counting.  T
he only "problem" is the amount of noise in the gym.  The music they play, plus the sounds of people in the gym exercising and talking over the music, requires me to turn up the volume on the MP3 player higher than I would prefer while also cramming the earpieces deeper into my ears.  This week I've been listening to someone read the "popular science" book titled "What Einstein Told His Barber." 

What Einstein Told His

I'm listening to a little over an hour's worth per day, which indicates I should be done with the book in about 6 or 7 more workout days (I work out at the gym 4 times per week).

All this means that right now I'm concurrently (not simultaneously) reading or listening to 3 non-fiction books.  And there's nothing preventing me from sitting down right now to listen to a short novel or novella from "cover to cover" just to see if that is as enjoyable way to pass some time as I expect it to be. 

However, I need to check to see if I can find a device that would allow me to play the MP3 player via speakers in addition to using earplugs.  That way, I can switch back and forth between ear plugs at the gym and the speakers at home without losing my place in a book, since the MP3 player controls where I am in the book.  (I've seen such speakers on-line for $8, but shipping costs would nearly double that.  And it uses only batteries for power.  So, I'm still thinking and searching.) 

The only negative element to all this is one I fully expected: I can't take notes while listening to the science book.  (I haven't found any need to take notes while listening to the history book.)  There were some really interesting things in the first two parts of "What Einstein Told his Barber" that I hadn't really thought about before, plus there was one major error I noticed.  It seems that some of the Amazon reviewers noticed the error, too.  One reviewer wrote:

p26-27 "There is a certain speed called the ESCAPE VELOCITY, 25000 mph, that an object must achieve to circle the Earth in stable orbit and not fall down."

Actually the speed needed for circular orbit is less by a factor of
the square root of two, about 18000 mph.
Right.  The 25,000 miles per hour "escape velocity" is what you need to break loose from the Earth's gravity and continue moving forward into outer space.  To go into orbit you only need to reach 18,000 miles per hour.  You really haven't "escaped," you are in an orbit that is a balance between centrifugal force (i.e., motion) going away for the Earth and Earth's gravity pulling you back.

But, for every error, the book seems to have many many interesting things to think about.  For example, one section really got me to thinking about why light acts as both a wave and as a particle.  It seems to me it doesn't act as both a wave and a particle, it's a particle that travels as a wave.  The question then becomes:  How can a particle move in a wave pattern through space instead of in a straight line?  Or maybe the question is: WHY does a photon move in a wave pattern through space instead of a straight line?  In my "scientific paper" on "Time Dilation Re-Visualized," I have what seems might be part of the answer: The photon (formerly an electron) is in a maximally stretched out orbit.  I.e., instead of going round and round, the particle is going up and down. 

moving hydrogen atom

For all I know, this could be viewed as totally absurd by physicists.  But, it would be interesting to learn why it is absurd.  Does Newton's First Law apply to photons, or is there some "unbalanced force" involved?  The illustration above (from my paper) shows the orbiting electron circling the moving proton, so one question would be: What happens to the proton when the speed of light is reached?  But, that could be partially answered if the proton isn't stationary and doesn't move in a straight line when the atom is moved.  It's almost certainly in dual orbit with the electron, like a binary star system where two stars orbit each other around their mutual center of mass.  And that would seem to mean that the proton is also tracing a cork-screw-like "wave" through space as it moves.   

As I stated at the start of the previous paragraph, this could all be viewed as totally absurd by physicists.  I'm certainly not claiming this is some long sought  after solution to the particle versus wave question.  I just wonder why it isn't the answer - or part of the answer.  Maybe in my continued reading I'll find out why.

Comments for Sunday, November 1, 2015, thru Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015:

November 7, 2015
- Hmm.  Yesterday, I had 114 visitors to this site - an all-time (a.k.a. 10 month) record.  The previous record was 100, which occurred on October 22.  I have absolutely no idea what caused the "surge."  I looked at the logs for yesterday and found a lot of people in the U.S. visiting for the first time, so it wasn't a surge in Ukrainian hackers or Asian search engines.

I'm fairly certain it's not the result of anything I did.  That would require some time of "word of mouth" spreading of the news.  And that would probably show up on my logs as links coming from some blog somewhere.  There are no such links showing in the logs.

So, it's just another one of life's non-ending mysteries. 

Today, NASA provided a picture I'd been looking for.  (See my October 25 comment.)  It's a picture of the earth from space, with the Milky Way in the background  (Click HERE) for the NASA web page):

Earth and the Milky Way
                  from the ISS
The picture was evidently taken on August 9, 2015, when the International Space Station was in the shadow of the Earth (i.e., at night), and that helped keep the brightness of the Earth from preventing exposure of the stars.  The NASA Flicker page for this photo indicates it is a 5-second time exposure using a Nikon D4 camera with an 8000 ISO rating, and the aperture was wide open.  Photographs taken during Apollo moon trips used film with much lower ASA or ISO speeds, probably in the 500 to 800 ISO range.  The higher the ASA/ISO speed, the less light that is needed to register on the film or digital recorder, therefore the more likely stars will be seen.  It simply takes a long time for the light from a star to register on relatively slow speed film like that used during the Apollo missions.  That's why the picture taken on the moon show no stars in the background.  It's not because the moon pictures were all faked in a Hollywood studio. 

November 6, 2015 - I don't have anything to say about this video I found on The Huffington Post showing two guys with "jet packs" strapped to their backs flying in coordination with a jet airliner, except "Wow!  I didn't even know that was possible."

November 5, 2015 - I never cease to be amazed by what is available via the Internet.  This morning I was skimming through The Huffington Post and came across an article titled "NASA Releases Stunning New Images Of 2014 Antares Rocket Disaster."  The article features this image:

Antares Oct. 28, 2014

The article shows several additional "stunning" images, but provides no link to where the full size originals can be found.  I tried hunting for them on NASA's Flickr page, but that was too time consuming.  So, I searched the NASA Flickr page for "Antares," and that search provided me with all the pictures that were in the Huffington Post article and more.  Eventually, I also found that the pictures are all in an album titled "Orb 3 Mission."  Here's another "stunning" image taken a few seconds earlier than the shot above (I show it 580 pixels wide, the original is 4,256 pixels wide by 2,661 pixels high):

Antares Orb 3 mission in
                  Oct. 2014

I save these pictures as if they are as valuable as gold, even though I know they are free and instantly available to anyone and everyone on the Internet.  The only advantage to saving them is that if I want to view them again, I don't have to hunt for them again.  

November 4, 2015 - Okay.  I now own an MP3 player.  I was totally surprised to find out that the one I wanted weighs only one ounceI was accustomed to seeing people at the gym with iPods and iPhones strapped to various parts of their bodies or falling off equipment and crashing to the floor as the owner exercised.  In the package, the MP3 player that best suited my needs looked to be about the size of a postage stamp.  When I got it home, it turned out to be about the size of a cigarette lighter.  (It also cost a fraction of what an iPod costs.)

The size of my MP3

Yet it has the capacity to hold "up to 3,000 songs" or presumably dozens of books.  It can play for "up to 25 hours" without recharging the battery, and it can also tune into FM radio.

I borrowed a Jack Reacher short story titled "Deep Down" from my library and used it to find out how it works.  It works great!  So, I added a science book and a humor/history book to the "Audiobooks" folder in the player, and I'm all set to start listening.  I just need to find the time.  The short story is 1 hour and 43 minutes long, the science book is 8 hours and 25 minutes long, and the humor/history book is 15 hours and 31 minutes long.  (I also found a free copy of the Peter Gunn Theme and put that in the music file in my MP3 player.  It's 3 minutes and 47 second long.)  Maybe I'll have time to listen later today.  If not, I'll definitely start listening to the science book while at the gym tomorrow.     

November 3, 2015 - I spent nearly all day yesterday browsing through audio books on my local library's web site just to see what they have available.  They have thousands of audio books available.  A lot of the time was spent listening to the 5-minute "samples" they provide for each book.  There were dozens that seemed to be very interesting.  I also spent nearly an hour burning 8 CDs for a book titled "What Einstein Told His Barber" because I really liked the 5-minute sample.  I could also put the book on an MP3 player -- if I owned an MP3 player.

The idea was that I could play the CDs while making breakfast and lunch, in addition to listening while eating breakfast and lunch.  That would be after I finish reading the book I'm currently reading, of course.  I can't read while making meals, only while eating meals.  If I had an MP3 player, I could also listen while on the treadmill and Exercycle at the gym.  I probably couldn't do it while doing the various exercises that require I count repetitions.  Can I count reps and listen to someone reading a book at the same time?  I don't know.

It looks like I'm going to have to buy an MP3 player.  I see many people using them while exercising at the gym, but I think they are usually just playing music.  Some evidently listen to music while they read hardcover paper books.  Others seem to use an FM tuner on their MP3 player to listen to what's on the dozen flatscreen TVs that are located on the walls in the same gym area where they have the treadmills and Exercycles.

Too many options.  What I need to avoid is just sitting around listening to books being read to me while I should be writing a book of my own.  On the other hand, listening to a novel being read to me might help stir up those writing urges. I need something to unblock my "writer's block."

Looking around the Internet, I see some interesting articles on "reading versus listening."  One article (HERE) indicates that you can get a lot more out of a book by listening to it, instead of reading it:

It is true that reading aloud is slower than reading silently. On the other hand, I can listen to audiobooks while doing things that I can’t do while reading.

But I’ve also discovered another advantage to the slower pace of audiobooks: I get more out of the book. When reading a book, especially fiction, I tend to read faster and faster as I get toward the end of the book, excited to see how things come out. Of course, this speed sacrifices some comprehension. I didn’t realize how much comprehension until I listened to an audiobook that I had once read before. The pace of the book is the same throughout. It means that instead of racing at the end, I am continuing on at the same pace as before, and I get more out of the book than I did when I was reading it.

I noticed while listening to samples of novels being read that I paid a lot more attention to descriptions of things.  That's probably because I tend to speed-read through descriptions when I'm reading.  But, another article (HERE) has a somewhat different explanation:

The type of book can also influence how well the information gets absorbed. When the material is difficult, for example, physical reading provides an advantage because the individual can re-read and look to surrounding words for context clues, said University of Memphis professor Arthur Graesser, who studies learning and cognition. In fact, he points out that the studies finding a high correlation between listening and reading comprehension might have had different results had they used complex texts rather than easy ones.And yet in some cases, listening offers major advantages over reading, even with material as tough to parse as Shakespeare. That’s because an audio book pre-determines an aspect of language called prosody, or the musicality of words. Prosody is how we known that someone is being self-reflective when they ask aloud if they left the gas on (or when Hamlet asks whether “to be or not to be”).

“Someone who knows the meaning can convey a lot through prosody,” Willingham said. “If you’re listening to a poem, the prosody might help you.”

Moreover, we are more likely to stick with a book that we’re listening to than one we’re reading, Graesser said, which would also improve our chances of retaining what’s in it.

“The half-life for listening is much longer than for reading,” he said, because we are pre-conditioned to listen to an entire conversation out of politeness. Generally, people keep listening until there is a pause in an idea, but (especially in today’s information-overload age), we stop reading at the slightest suggestion that something more interesting might be going on elsewhere else.

Another article (HERE) argues that retention is better when reading than when listening.  But what about enjoyment?  When do you enjoy listening more than reading?  And the research in the article seems bogus, since if you are asked to read something that is of no interest you will almost certainly retain more of it than if you are asked to listen to something that is of no interest.  Reading requires more effort than listening.  But what if it is something that is of great interest?  Is reading better than having something explained to you?

There's one big disadvantage, of course, to listening to non-fiction books.  You can't highlight passages or easily quote them when writing a comment for a web site.  That would seemingly require playing that part of the book over again as you transcribe it.  Then you need to be able to return to where you left off when you were listening. 

I think I just need to do it and see what happens.  I'll buy an MP3 player this afternoon.

ADDED NOTE: During lunch I finished reading
Michio Kaku's book "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100."  It ends with this quote:
Mahatma Gandhi once wrote: The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.
I don't know if I fully understand the "Worship without sacrifice" part, but, otherwise, I couldn't have said it better myself.                   

November 1, 2015 - I forgot to set my clocks back last night in order to bring an end to our mutually agreed upon period of "Daylight Savings Time."  I changed the clocks this morning.  So, now my clocks should be in agreement with all others in the "Central Time Zone" where everyone has agreed that "noon" is the same for all of us, regardless of the position of the Sun in the sky.  In reality, however, I am nearly certain that Time is different for every single one of us. 

Or maybe I'm just reading too many books about science.

Every day during breakfast and lunch since September 10, I've been reading Michio Kaku's book "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100."  I've highlighted some very interesting passages.  Here's one:
if electricity is flowing inside a copper loop, its energy dissipates within a fraction of a second because of the resistance of the wire. However, experiments have shown that electricity within a superconducting loop can remain constant for years at a time. The experimental evidence points to a lifetime of 100,000 years for currents inside a superconducting coil. Some theories maintain that the maximum limit for such an electrical current in a superconductor is the lifetime of the known universe itself.
I had to highlight that passage because it seems to support my analysis of "What is Time?"  I haven't yet completed the analysis, but it appears that the universe is like some wind-up gizmo that somehow came into existence fully wound, and it is slowly winding down.  Nearly everything (and everyone) in the universe is "winding down" at a slightly different rate, depending upon local conditions of gravity, speed and temperature.  And that means that "Time" is slightly (albeit imperceptibly) different for you than it is for me. The problem I'm having is to lay out the logic and supporting evidence in a meaningful and understandable way.  I think I have all the pieces in my head, but every time I try to write it all down, it seems like it can be explained in a much simpler and more convincing way.  I'm still looking for that simpler way.

Here's another passage I found to be very interesting in Michio Kaku's book:
So far, the world record for these new ceramic superconductors is 138 degrees (Kelvin) above absolute zero (or -211° F). This is significant, since liquid nitrogen (which costs as little as milk) forms at 77° K (-321° F) and hence can be used to cool these ceramics. This fact alone has drastically cut the costs of superconductors. So these high-temperature superconductors have immediate practical applications. But these ceramic superconductors have just whetted the appetite of physicists. They are a giant step in the right direction, but still they are not enough. First, although liquid nitrogen is relatively cheap, you still have to have some refrigeration equipment to cool the nitrogen. Second, these ceramics are difficult to mold into wires. Third, physicists are still bewildered by the nature of these ceramics. After several decades, physicists are not quite sure how they work. The quantum theory of these ceramics is too complicated to solve at the present time, so no one knows why they become superconductors. Physicists are clueless. There is a Nobel Prize waiting for the enterprising individual who can explain these high-temperature superconductors.
I just love the idea of physicists knowing how to make ceramic superconductors but not understanding how they work.  It appears too complicated for the human mind to comprehend -- probably until someone has a "breakthrough" and views it from a different angle.  Meanwhile, there's a whole raft of things they can do that has them standing around scratching their heads, puzzled over why things work the way they do.  The solutions could open up all kinds of new possibilities. 

Here's another passage from the book the shows some of those possibilities:
Without any extra input of energy, room temperature superconductors could produce supermagnets capable of lifting trains and cars so they hover above the ground. One simple demonstration of this power can be done in any lab. I’ve done it several times myself for BBC-TV and the Science Channel. It’s possible to order a small piece of ceramic high-temperature superconductor from a scientific supply company. It’s a tough, gray ceramic about an inch in size. Then you can buy some liquid nitrogen from a dairy supply company. You place the ceramic in a plastic dish and gently pour the liquid nitrogen over it. The nitrogen starts to boil furiously as it hits the ceramic. Wait until the nitrogen stops boiling, then place a tiny magnet on top of the ceramic. Magically, the magnet floats in midair. If you tap the magnet, it starts to spin by itself. In that tiny dish, you may be staring at the future of transportation around the world. The reason the magnet floats is simple. Magnetic lines of force cannot penetrate a superconductor. This is the Meissner effect. (When a magnetic field is applied to a superconductor, a small electric current forms on the surface and cancels it, so the magnetic field is expelled from the superconductor.) When you place the magnet on top of the ceramic, its field lines bunch up since they cannot pass through the ceramic. This creates a “cushion” of magnetic field lines, which are all squeezed together, thereby pushing the magnet away from the ceramic, making it float.
So, we've not only got this wind-up gizmo called a "universe" that we all live in, but we've also got what seems to be an endless supply of mysteries that we need to solve if we want to fully understand what's going on.  And the biggest mystery may be why anything can be figured out.  Why do things make perfect sense once you understand the scientific principles?  Why are there all these rules that we need to figure out before we can understand what's going on?  It's like we're all part of some gigantic experiment going on in some super-scientist's lab.  That's probably one reason I got into discussions with the Rationalized Semantic Methodists.  They claim they know it all, but they know nothing.  And they like it that way!  How is it possible to be incurious in such an amazing universe?  
Here's another quote from Michio Kaku's book that isn't about our amazing universe, but is instead about the amazing complexity of our human civilization:
On the World Wide Web, for example, 29 percent of visitors log on in English, followed by 22 percent in Chinese, 8 percent in Spanish, 6 percent in Japanese, and 5 percent in French. English is already the de facto planetary language of science, finance, business, and entertainment. English is the number-one second language on the planet. No matter where I travel, I find that English has emerged as the lingua franca. In Asia, for example, when Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese are in a meeting, they use English to communicate.
I hadn't really thought about people logging onto the Internet in Chinese.  There are tens of thousands of Chinese characters, since each character represents a thing or idea instead of just a letter of the "alphabet."  Here's a tiny sample:   

Chinese characters

Here's what a Chinese computer keyboard looks like:

Chinese computer

I have no idea how they can write in Chinese with that keyboard.  

At one time, I could read, write and speak Japanese fairly well.  Long ago, the Japanese found Chinese writing to be too complex, so instead they now use three alphabets.  They use some Chinese characters (which they call "Kanji"), plus two phonetic alphabets: Hiragana for phonetically spelling out Japanese words, and Katakana for phonetically spelling out foreign words.  A person can write everything in Hiragana if they want, since Katakana is just a visual aid to let the reader know the word is not a Japanese word.  The problem is that there are a large number of homophones or homonyms in the Japanese language (and in Chinese), so, without the Chinese characters, it can be difficult to understand the correct meaning of a written word. (
Look up "seikou" in a large Japanese-English dictionary and you are likely to discover a dozen homonyms, with meanings as diverse as: "success" 成功, "steel manufacture" 製鋼, "western suburbs" 西郊 and "sexual intercourse" 性交.  All are very different spellings using Chinese characters, but they are identical when spelled phonetically.

Looking at the Japanese keyboard shown below, it appears that (as one might expect) they use the 46-symbol Hiragana phonetic alphabet when they access the Internet in Japanese.  They can also use the Roman alphabet ("Romanji") if they need to write a foreign word.  

Japanese computer

It seems highly likely that both the Japanese and the Chinese shift to the English alphabet when they access my web site.  China was #5 on my list of visitor "hits" for the month of October, as shown in the chart below.  (One "hit" is one "GET" command for one thing, such as a picture or a page of text.  A typical "visit" involves about 7 "hits.")  My logs show the "hits" from the Ukraine, the Russian Federation and from China are almost entirely from spammers and hackers. 

United States us 620 2,916 336.37 MB
Ukraine ua 444 444 97.09 MB
Unknown zz 173 533 76.06 MB
Russian Federation ru 110 131 21.24 MB
China cn 96 96 20.64 MB
France fr 44 57 10.88 MB
Spain es 37 312 38.36 MB
Israel il 33 90 12.73 MB
Canada ca 27 62 9.34 MB
Brazil br 25 215 25.95 MB
Romania ro 21 45 7.01 MB
Great Britain gb 20 68 10.00 MB
Germany de 19 50 7.86 MB
Italy it 12 33 4.56 MB
Indonesia id 8 18 3.06 MB
India in 7 30 4.07 MB
Ireland ie 7 9 1.94 MB
Czech Republic cz 7 42 5.18 MB
Netherlands nl 6 8 1.36 MB
Seychelles sc 5 5 1.00 MB
Japan jp 5 5 1.14 MB

Looking at other statistical information I get for this web site on a daily basis, I can see that the number of visitors and visits has been slowing growing since I started this web site on January 1, 2015.

web site stats for
                  October 2015

The increase in visitors makes me want to write about things that are more interesting.  It would probably help if I focused on one topic instead of starting by writing about Time and then about science, and then shifting to writing about using the Internet in Japanese and Chinese, and then shift to writing about visitors to my web site. 

I'm sure it won't help by shifting to writing about my "writer's block" problems right now.  So, maybe I'll save that for another day.  

© 2015 by Ed Lake