Archive for ed-lake.com
November 2020

Comments for Sunday, November 15, 2020, thru Sat., Nov. 21, 2020:

November 20, 2020 - I'm getting buried in books I want to read.  I've got 87 books in my Kindle that I want to read.  And it seems that about once a week a new book gets added to the list.  And it usually doesn't get added at the bottom of the list, more often than not it goes to the top of the list.  In addition, of course, there are the audio books, 138 of them.  I need to find time to listen to them, too.  And there are also about 20 paperback novels on my reading list.
 
With the Covid-19 pandemic raging full force, I should have plenty of time, but instead of reading or listening to books, I sit in front of my computer for hours and wonder what to write a comment about.  It's getting harder and harder to think of things that might interest readers of this web site.  There's only so much I can say about Trump or the pandemic.  And I have no science paper in the works at the moment.

I also wonder if I should try once again to write a "final" version of one or both of my science fiction novels, so that I can self-publish them.  Or maybe I should turn all of my science papers into a book and self-publish it.

In the evenings, I'm converting my cassette music collection to MP3 files.  So, I am getting something done.  I do it while watching TV.  Every hour and a half I just have to put a new cassette into the converter.  I've just about filled up my music MP3 player.

Yeah, I think I'm going to finish this comment here and just lay down on my couch to read a book while listening to jazz on my MP3 player.  

Sigh.
 


November 18, 2020 - Hmm.  One benefit from listening to podcasts is that you learn about books that might be of interest.  Last light, I only listened to one "Big Picture Science" podcast, but that podcast about "Know It Alls" was a discussion with Tom Nichols, the author of "The Death of Expertise." It's a book I had never heard of before, but it fits right in which some observations I've made.  Here's some info I found about the book:
People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level of education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.

As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, this rejection of experts has occurred for many reasons, including the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement.

Nichols has deeper concerns than the current rejection of expertise and learning, noting that when ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy-or in the worst case, a combination of both. The Death of Expertise is not only an exploration of a dangerous phenomenon but also a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age.
That seems to be a description of what you see on TV when reporters talk with pro-Trump supporters.  They know nothing and they just repeat what their leader has told them.  Logic has no meaning to them.  Facts mean nothing.  They do not think logically.  Like Trump, they think emotionally.  If you disagree with them, that means you are attacking their intelligence.  You are saying you are better and smarter than they are.  So, any attempt to discuss facts is just a waste of time.  They already know all they feel they need to know.

This morning, I checked with my local library and found that they only have the audio book version of "The Death of Expertise."  I put a "hold" on it, but they say I'll probably have to wait at least 21 weeks before it will be available to borrow.  Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can find a print copy somewhere else. 

November 17, 2020
- I'm not working on any scientific papers at the moment.  Nor am I working on writing any books.  My most recent paper, Relativity and Radar Guns hasn't attracted much notice, even though it proposes a relatively simple experiment that countless mathematician physicists would argue is totally impossible.

One problem is that I have no way to promote the paper and make people aware of it, except via this web site and a couple blogs.  So, in the full month that it has been on the Internet it has only been read by 50 people.  

Another problem is the times we are in.  With the Covid-19 pandemic getting worse and worse while everyone is also wondering what trouble Trump will cause during his final days in office, it's difficult to focus on anything else.

In hopes of stumbling across some idea that will get things moving again for me,  I've gone back to listening to science podcasts.  It's also another area where I needed to get organized.  I've listened to every one of the 145 episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage, which is definitely my favorite science podcast, and I'm currently listening to just about every episode of Big Picture Science, my second favorite podcast.  I just loaded 64 more episodes into my MP3 player.  Then there is Space Nuts, my third favorite, which has 228 episodes on-line, and Astronomy Cast, my fourth favorite, which currently consists of 584 episodes.  Listening to episodes of those four favorites doesn't leave much time for the twenty or thirty other podcasts I occasionally sample.  And there are probably some terrific podcasts I've never heard of.

Of course, because there are so many podcasts that I find both interesting and enjoyable, I keep wanting to organize and prioritize them.  I've been working on a new web page where I'm going to try to do that, and this morning I uploaded it.  It's currently called "Ed Lake's List of Interesting Podcasts," and the link to it will be under the picture of Humphrey Bogart, just above where "My Latest Comments" begin.


The page is "a work in progress," so it will be changing as I come across other podcasts that I think should be on the list, or podcasts which should replace ones I have listed as my top ten.  I currently have "Science Rules with Bill Nye" as #9 on the list, but I've only listened to one episode, and there are a bunch of podcasts I still haven't put on the list that I recall really enjoying.


November 15, 2020
- Last Monday, I was notified that someone had mentioned "Ed Lake" in a science paper that they had written and placed on Academia.edu.  That happens quite often, but it just means that there are quite a few people named "Ed Lake" who write scientific papers and put them on Academia.edu.  Besides, I always use "Edward G. Lake" when I write papers.  This time, however, the paper's title suggested it was disputing the Big Bang Theory, which made me curious, so I checked to see what the paper was all about.

It was crap.  But, it was also interesting crap.  It argued that Black Holes were gobbling up our galaxy and all the galaxies around us, and quasars elsewhere in the universe were spitting out what had been gobbled up. That's not an entirely new theory, but most times the theory is that what falls into a Black Hole comes out in another universe, not in some distant location in our universe.

What the article did for me was make me aware that I knew next to nothing about quasars.  So, I researched the subject.

quasar

According to one source, "a quasar is a supermassive black hole that is actively feeding on material. The infalling matter has swirled into a disk that has heated up, and it shines so brightly that its light drowns out the rest of the galaxy around the black hole."  It's also like a search light, aiming a beam of energy toward some point.  If that beam is pointed at you, then the quasar seems super bright.

It turns out that most quasars are objects from the distant past, from when the universe was very young, around 10 billion years ago or so.  They are the brightest objects in the universe, but because they are so far away and so far in the past, they typically appear to astronomers as fairly dim stars - until you determine how far away they are.

“Quasar” is short for “quasi-stellar radio source,” which is how these objects were discovered. About 60 years ago, astronomers saw strange, starlike objects in visible light and radio telescope surveys.  After a lot of work, they learned that the objects weren't stars, they were the bright centers of distant galaxies.

The most distant quasar found so far is 12.9 billion light years away.  That means we see it as it existed 770 million years after the Big Bang.  Such objects were created by black holes at the center of galaxies that are different from the galaxies we see around us today.  It seems that the first galaxies were just vast dark clouds of gas, with no stars.  Hydrogen and helium atoms were drawn together to form these cloud galaxies, the first galaxies. The gas began spinning around the center of these galaxies while also compacting and heating up, until the whole center of the galaxy was like a gigantic star millions of times larger than our sun and millions of times more bright - but nowhere near as dense.

What I find most interesting is that it seems like the Big Bang created a vast cloud of sub-atomic particles which formed into hydrogen and some helium.  For awhile, the whole universe was mostly just a gigantic cloud of hydrogen and helium gas.  Then, in millions of locations, the gasses began swirling, and as they did so they divided up the gas into pockets.  Those pockets then formed into gas galaxies.  Those gas galaxies compacted until their centers began heating up.  Then stars began to form.  The first stars were giants, creating heavy elements at their centers via fusion as they collected more gas and compressed.  Then they went supernova and spread debris throughout the galaxy.  That scattered debris then began swirling and collecting again into stars more like what we see today.

It somewhat suggests that there was once a giant dark galaxy where we are now. It compressed and produced supernovae, spreading out new material with heavier elements that gradually compressed once again to form our galaxy, our sun and our planets. 

There are a lot of implications to all this, but one thing seems absolutely certain: Black holes do not suck in matter and emit it elsewhere in the universe via quasars.  Instead, the super massive black holes at the center of all nearby galaxies are cold quasars unable to suck in the mass required to turn the whole center of the galaxy into a glowing gas that would cook all life forms on any planets within the galaxy.   It is only when we look into the past, into galaxies that are billions of light years away and existed billions of years ago, that we see hot bright quasars. 

It seems to shoot holes in the screwball beliefs of mathematicians who argue that our visible universe isn't expanding into emptiness, but instead ends at the most distant stars, and the expansion is entirely internal, the expansion of space between stars and galaxies.  Quasars tell us that before there were any stars, the universe was one immense fog of sub-atomic particles expanding outward into nothingness, then the particles formed atoms and the atoms began forming starless hot fog galaxies.  Beyond the farthest hot fog galaxies is empty space, not some kind of black wall.  The expanding universe isn't just expanding the space between galaxies, it began by compacting the gas emitted from the Big Bang in order to create the first stars and galaxies. 

There are many implications to all this that require a lot of thought -- and a lot of research, since others have undoubtedly had the same thoughts.


Comments for Sunday, November 8, 2020, thru Sat., Nov. 14, 2020:

November 11, 2020
- Last night, I finished listening to another audio book.  It was "The Coroner's Lunch" by Colin Cotterill.

The Coroner's Lunch

It was a 7-hour 27-minute mystery novel that required two evenings of listening, plus another hour for me to listen to the final section a second time.

I found the book while browsing through the "available now" list in my library's on-line web site.  It was in the "humor" section.  A humorous detective mystery novel involving a coroner in Laos?  And it was the first in a series of 14 novels about that same fictional coroner. That made me very curious.  So, on November 8, I borrowed it, even though my experience with listening to novels is audio book form has been mostly disappointing.

The next evening I decided to listen to a bit of it, just to see what made it so popular.  It began very well, drawing me into a world unlike any other on this planet: Communist Laos in the 1970s.  The main character,
72 year old Dr. Siri Paiboun, is basically a self-taught coroner with about 8 months experience.  He was one of the last doctors in the country after the Communist takeover, and he was assigned to be the national coroner, even though that wasn't his field.  And, of course, he finds himself in the middle of a mystery when bodies show up in his morgue that were pulled out of the Mekong River and which appear to have been tortured to death.  But Dr. Siri soon discovers that the signs of torture were all postmortem.  Someone had tried to make it look like the victims were tortured to death.  Why?  That's the mystery.  The humor comes from the interplay with his assistants, who are all equally untrained, as is the communist bureaucracy he has to deal with.  Plus, he has to do his work in a country that is virtually without telephones, but which seems to be filled with beautiful unmarried young women anxious to please anyone in high positions - even the elderly top coroner in the country.

The only problem I had with the book is the same problem I had with the last novel in audio book form that I tried listening to.  When there are too many people to keep track of, too many complications, and the later in the evening it becomes, the harder it is for me to pay attention.  My mind tends to drift.  And the audio book becomes just something that is playing in the background.

This morning I listened to the last hour of the book a second time.  I'm still not sure that I understand how all the pieces fit together, but it was interesting nonetheless.  If I decide to continue with the series, however, I will definitely do it with a book to be held and read, not an audio book.    


November 10, 2020
- While eating lunch yesterday, I finished reading another library book on my Kindle.  The book was "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump" by Peter Strzok.

Compromised

It was a very interesting book, and maybe the last one I'll ever read about Donald Trump, even though I have eleven other unread or unfinished books about Trump in my Kindle.  I just want Trump to be gone and forgotten about.

Peter Strzok, the author of "Compromised," was a senior FBI official before Trump demanded that he be fired.  He was head of the investigation into Russia's efforts to put Trump into the White House.  I've got 23 pages of notes and quotes from the book.  Here's a quote for near the beginning:
I have devoted my adult life to defending the United States, our Constitution, our government, and all our citizens. I never would have imagined—I could not have imagined—that the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, would single me out with repeated attacks of treason, accusing me of plotting a coup against our government. Suggesting that I be executed. Labeling me “corrupt,” “incompetent,” a “sick Loser” and a “hating fraud.” And, of all things, questioning my patriotism while he stood in Helsinki next to Russian president Vladimir Putin, an adversary who has been actively attempting to subvert democracy in the U.S. and around the world.     
Strangely, I didn't recall ever hearing Strzok's name mentioned in the news, but evidently I wasn't paying close enough attention.  I did recall reading years ago that some FBI agents were reprimanded for sending internal emails to one another that criticized Trump.  They were just stated opinions, and not part of anything official.  But Trump learned about them and made them personal and considered them "treasonous."  Strzok was one of them.     

Peter Strzok began investigating Russian activities in America by watching two Russian "sleeper agents," Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, who lived in America, pretended they were Americans, and quietly gathered information about people they knew who worked in sensitive government positions and might be compromised if they were seen to do something illegal, like discuss sensitive matters with two friends who seemed like innocent and loyal Americans.  

Later, Strzok worked on the Clinton email case.  And on investigating Russian manipulation of social media by spreading false information.  And a lot of that false information was spread by Trump via his tweets.  When Trump was elected President, he began attacking the FBI because they were investigating his links to Russia and how Russia was helping Trump.  Trump eventually fired FBI Director Comey, and then his replacement, McCabe, because they were looking into Trump's Russia connections.
That Wednesday morning—the day after he fired Comey—Trump welcomed Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak into the Oval Office. I learned about the meeting at the same time that the American public did, and not from U.S. media. The White House had barred American reporters and other media from the meeting—in the U.S. president’s office—but allowed in Russian photographers. They released pictures of Trump in a red and silver repp tie, beaming at Kislyak, the president’s right hand clasping Lavrov’s arm. Tom Clancy or John le Carré could not have scripted fiction more alarming than what I was seeing.
That meeting generated another quote that I highlighted:
From a counterintelligence perspective, the Oval Office meeting was like a five-alarm fire. In absolving the Russians of their election meddling, Trump also made clear that he was unlikely to hold them to account for similar activity in the future. Moreover, after telling the world that Comey had been fired because of his handling of the Clinton investigation, Trump had just told the Russians the truth: he had fired Comey to put a stop to the Crossfire [Russian interference] investigation. Standing in the White House with the Russians, Trump appeared to compromise himself yet again. Although the FBI didn’t learn about his remarks immediately, the Kremlin certainly did. Trump had tacitly blessed the Russians for their attack on our democracy while giving them a green light to continue.
Maybe I just learned to turn Trump off whenever he opened his mouth, because I cannot remember any of his attacks on Strzok:
Trump’s fury at me continued unabated. As of this writing, in less than two years he has launched more than 100 attacks on me in tweets, interviews, and other statements to the press. The president has variously labeled me “incompetent,” “corrupt,” “horrible,” “hate-filled,” “totally biased,” “low,” “terrible,” “disgusting,” “stupid,” “a disgrace,” “a total phony,” “minion,” “sick loser,” “hating fraud,” “fraud against our nation,” “clown,” “bad player,” “phony,” “dirty cop,” “dishonest,” “bad person,” “sick, sick” person, “lowlife,” “leaker,” “liar,” “psycho,” “scammer,” “con artist,” and an “evil person.” Trump has accused me of committing treason, claimed I had plotted a coup, and pronounced that I had “wanted to do a subversion.” And when he needs a distraction, as on the day the House Judiciary Committee voted on articles of his impeachment, he rolls me out, going to his well-worn conspiracy of the insurance policy.
Eventually, in August 2018, Trump managed to get Strzok fired.  He simply replaced every FBI official who refused to do it, until he found one who would do it.

Here's the last passage I underlined in the book (which was released on September 8, two months before the election):
Our investigations revealed Donald Trump’s willingness to further the malign interests of one of our most formidable adversaries, apparently for his own personal gain. They also showed his willingness to accept political assistance from an opponent like Russia—and, it follows, his willingness to subvert everything that America stands for. That’s not patriotic; it’s the opposite. The Founders gave us a remedy for a leader such as Trump, who elevates his personal interests above his public duties: impeachment and removal from office. Failing that, we must rely on the ballot to judge him. But if things continue as they have under our compromised 45th president, I fear the judgment will be on us for our failure to uphold America’s core values. And Russia will reap the rewards.
And now we are about to remove Trump from office and replace him with someone who isn't in Russia's pocket.  The only question is: How much damage can Trump still do between now and the day Joe Biden is sworn in to replace him? 

November 9, 2020
- Yesterday evening, I finished listening to another audio book I'd gotten from my local library.  It was "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
Freakonomics

It was only 6 hours and 26 minutes long, so I was able to get through it in just two evenings.

The title is very misleading, since it has nothing to do with economics.  But, I knew that when I borrowed it.  It's an example of an expert in one field taking a hard look at things in another field and coming up with observations that have eluded those who work in the field being studied.  I'm not sure what "the other field" is, but the observations are about how drug gangs work, how real estate agents work, how the Ku Klux Klan operates, and much much more.  It's somewhat of a psychology book, since it is a study of incentives and "how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing."  The most controversial part of the book is about how legalizing abortions reduces the crime rate, a fact which is solidly confirmed by the data.  And who would have thought that the typical drug dealer lives with his mother?

At times, it is also a very funny book, but unfortunately it ends with an analysis of how children's names affect the children.  That part of the book just seemed to go on and on and on endlessly.  But there are also interesting parts, like the New York City man, Robert Lane, who inexplicably named his sons "Winner" and "Loser."  Loser, a.k.a. "Lou" became a sergeant in the New York Police Department, while "Winner" has had nearly three dozen arrests for burglary, domestic violence, trespassing, resisting arrest, and other mayhem. 

It's a very interesting book, but I'd recommend reading it in print form, since that way you can just scan through the lists of children's names, instead of listening to every one of them being read to you.

November 8, 2020
- At 7:22 a.m. this morning, as I was lying in bed waiting for it to be time to get up (7:25 a.m.), the phone rang.  I didn't recognize the phone number, so I let my answering machine take the call.  It was a recorded message from Publisher's Clearing House advising me that I had just won 1.35 million dollars.  Hmm.  Wow!  They have so many million dollar winners that they have to advise them all with a recorded message?  And, since I don't have any magazine subscriptions and I never entered their contest, that must mean they are also giving away 1.35 million dollars to just about everyone who answers the phone.  Plus, the voice seemed like it was synthesized, so they must have had to automate the process entirely because they had so many winners.

Or maybe it was just a scam.  Of course, I'm just looking at it logically.  If I was looking at it emotionally, would I be able to resist ignoring the possibility that I just won 1.35 million dollars?  Would I be so self confident that I could pick up the phone or call them to see if it was truly a scam or not?   What harm could it do --- other than putting me on a list of people to respond to scam phone calls?

Or maybe they'd do what they did to someone I know.  The scammers used his phone number to make dozens of automated crank phone calls, including calls to someone who called the police and gave the police his number. 

It's a complicated world, and there are lots of ways to make mistakes and get into trouble, particularly if you think emotionally instead of logically.

Do mathematicians think emotionally or logically?  The answer appears to be that they think emotionally.  There is logic to mathematics, but if you believe the answer cannot possibly be wrong, therefore it represents reality, then you are thinking emotionally, to be wrong would lower your self esteem.  Logically, a correct solution to an equation may have nothing to do with reality.  The problem is, when you try to explain that to a mathematician, they sometimes become very emotional and attack you in every way they can think of.  And they are supported by other mathematicians, which helps them believe they are right.  But all they are talking about is a pattern, and math can produce the same pattern in many different ways.  The fact that you have found one of them doesn't mean it is a "correct pattern."  As I've said many times before, mathematicians "proved" for thousands of years that the Sun moved around the Earth.  But, then new information showed they were wrong.

When I look at a map of the United States and which states voted for Trump, I wonder what the pattern means.

2020
                    Election results

There is a clear pattern there.  But why are all the red states clustered in the middle of the country?  If Georgia finally goes for Biden, it will be the only state that has no border with another state that voted for Biden.  And, when you look at Georgia's counties, you see a similar pattern.  With few exceptions, the counties  that voted for Biden mostly clustered around big cities like Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus, and there is only one county which voted for Trump and is surrounded by counties which voted for Biden.

When I tell people where I live in Wisconsin, they wonder how I can vote for Biden when my county voted for Trump.  They seem to feel I did something wrong.  I wasn't part of the majority.  I'm opposed to the majority.  I may be with the majority for the entire country, but that doesn't seem to matter.  It's tribalism.  My "tribe" voted for Trump.  Or maybe my "tribe" is my town, not my county.  Or maybe it's my zone within my town.  Or is it my block?  Whatever it is, I voted logically, not emotionally, and I just do not discuss politics with the others in my zone, town, county or state.  Only on the Internet.      



Comments for Sunday, November 1, 2020, thru Sat., Nov. 7, 2020:

November 7, 2020 - Ah!  Whew!  According to the Huffington Post, NBC and The New York Times, Joe Biden was just declared the winner in Pennsylvania and is projected to win the election!  So, it's still not official.  But Biden has all the electoral votes he needs.  Winning Pennsylvania gave him 20 more votes, bringing his total so far to 284, well above the 270 needed to win.

Then, while I was writing this comment, Biden was also declared the winner in Nevada, raising his total to 290.  And he's still leading in Georgia, which could give him another 16 votes in the Electoral College.  Perhaps more importantly, it means that when Trump demands recounts and starts suing people, he will have to get the numbers overturned in all three of those States in order to get himself declared winner.  

And Fox News' has this headline:

Biden wins 2020 election. America has said, 'You're fired,' to Trump

Later in the day, Trump made this statement:

"We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don't want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.

"Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters. Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access.

"So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands."
Yes indeed, we have a couple interesting months ahead of us. 
November 6, 2020 - It's still hard to think about anything except the election.  I watched Trump last night as he once again interrupted the evening news shows, this time to rant about the election being rigged.  And he undoubtedly has a lot of followers who believe what he says, even though there is absolutely no evidence to support any of his claims.  NBC, CBS and ABC cut him off after about ten minutes, but FOX and CNN showed the entire 16 minute rant.

And just think, unless the tide suddenly turns, he'll be ranting from the White House for another two months, until January 20, and probably for the rest of his life after that.


November 5, 2020
- Wow!  The days seem to have about a hundred hours in them!  How can it be only Thursday?  It's 12:45 p.m. as I post this comment, and I've actually been pacing the floor!  I don't think I've ever done that before in my life.  I was trying to decide what to do next.  Do I copy cassettes to MP3 files?  Do I read a book?  Do I winterize my apartment?  Or do I try to find out why Nevada has only counted 76% of its ballots so far?  They had already counted 75% yesterday afternoon!  

What I did to occupy myself was read some of a book about the FBI investigation of Trump and his buddies, while at the same time I was transferring a cassette to an MP3 file.  I did it in "manual mode."  I'd tried it yesterday in "automatic mode," and it didn't work for some unknown reason.  "Manual mode" worked, but it created a 1-hour and 24-minute MP3 file that contains both sides of the cassette. That isn't really a problem, so I'll be transferring other cassettes while reading, watching TV and doing other chores.

Then I wrote this comment.  Next, I'll do some grocery shopping.  Groan!   I really wish the election was over!  I've been thinking about writing, but I really need to be able to focus before I can do that.

November 4, 2020
- It's 11:24 a.m. as I post this comment, and the election has not yet been decided.  Biden has 238 electoral votes and Trump has 213, but you need 270 to be declared the winner.  7 States are still undecided, including my State, Wisconsin, where Biden is ahead by about 20,000 votes.

I had hoped for a quick victory for Biden, but it was clear last night that that wasn't going to be the case.  When I went to bed, Biden was ahead, but Trump was being assumed the victor in a lot more states than I expected.  What I'm learning from all this is that there are fewer people in this country to think logically than I had hoped and assumed. And there are a lot more people who think emotionally than in my worst nightmares.

Logically, there is no reason for anyone to vote for Trump.  He's a con man, a swindler, a liar, a racist, and a narcissist who is only concerned about himself.  However, it appears that his supporters do not care.  They evidently vote for Trump because he is also "anti-establishment." Being "anti-establishment" means they are against the way things are.  It also means they are driven by hate, fear, anger and other emotions, instead of by logic and reason.  Trump says he's going to change things, and his supporters want change - even if it is change for the worse, as we have seen for the past four years.  No one wants things to get worse, of course, but the belief is that sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.  So, they'll tolerate things getting worse and worse because anything is better than going back to the way things were.

What's so bad about the way things were?  The government was interfering too much in everyone's lives.  The government required decent people to pay taxes so that the lazy and shiftless could be housed and fed.  And then the government demanded that everyone wear a mask so that the sick and feeble will live longer and continue to be a tax burden on decent people. Who gives a crap about the feeble?! This should be a country where the strongest rule!  The hell with everyone else!  Let charities take care of them!

I'm a logical person.  It isn't logical for a country to have the same rules as a wrestling match.  That's not a "country," it's a free-for-all pit where the police are the referees, and the police are paid to protect the interests of the strongest. 

Groan!  I've been sitting at my computer for three hours and the numbers haven't changed.  I think I'll go for a walk.     


Added Note: Sometime this afternoon, Wisconsin declared Joe Biden the winner. That gives Biden another 10 Electoral votes, for a total of 248.  He needs another 22 to win the race for President.  Michigan has 16 and Nevada has 6.  Biden is ahead in both states, but Nevada has only counted 75% of its ballots.  Groan.   


November 3, 2020
- This afternoon, after lunch, I drove over to the church that would have been my voting place if I hadn't voted early at City Hall.  I was curious about whether there would be a long line or not.  There wasn't.  People were arriving during the minute or less that I drove into the parking lot, turned around and drove out again, and there were quite a few cars in the lot, but there was no line outside nor any line visible through the windows.  I have no idea what that means, but it could just mean that I live in a fairly small town, and a lot of people early voted and voted by mail due to Covid-19 concerns

Meanwhile, I'm still learning how my new cassette to MP3 converter works.  I think I learned one key fact today.  It's on page 12 of the 13 page manual that came with the converter.  In the chart of "Specifications" shown below it says this about the "Working Time": "2 hours with 2 AA battery"! 

Cassette to MP3 converter specifications

So, a set of 2 AA batteries is only going to allow me to run the device for 2 hours?  Is that why the device stopped recording when I tried it yesterday?  My cassette collection mostly consists of tapes that contain about 1 hour of music per side.  So, if I use battery power, I'll wear out two batteries for every cassette I convert.  Fortunately, there are alternative sources for power.  I can connect the converter to the USB port on my laptop, which, if it is plugged in, will mean I'm using my home electrical power source to run the converter.  The same is true if I connect my converter to a USB charger outlet.  All the connectors came with the converter, so I'm all set to go.

The only problem is that I had planned to just let the converter run for two hours at a time while I did other things, until it was time to put in a new cassette.  I can still do that, but I think I first need to try it "the hard way," which means listening to the cassette tape as I convert it and breaking it into individual songs.  Believe it or not, I never just sit around listening to music.  I always have music playing while I work on my computer, and I sometimes have music playing when I'm reading, but I never just sit around and listen to music.  I may do just that in order to see how much work is involved in manually breaking a cassette recording up into individual tracks.  Time will tell.


November 2, 2020
- Groan!  Still one more day until election day!  And then all those attack ads on TV will be gone! Some Trump ads are really sick, filled with lies and distortions intended to scare the hell out of people.  The ad that really sickened me was the one where some masked man is smashing windows and breaking into a woman's home in the middle of the night, and she's trying to hide herself and her baby as she calls the police, getting nothing but an answering machine that says, "Due to the defunding of  the police, there is no one to take your call right now, but someone will respond in the next six days."  The ad, of course, ends with: "I'm Donald J. Trump and I approved this message."

And then there are the constant rallies.  Wisconsin is in the news because of all its Covid-19 cases, but how many of them were caused by Trump?  Last night I saw a news report about that.  I researched it this morning and found a bunch of news stories with headlines like "Study: Trump rallies caused over 30,000 COVID-19 cases, likely led to 700 deaths." The article says,
President  Trump’s massive campaign rallies led to more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and likely caused the death of 700 Americans, a new study says.

The Stanford University paper released Friday took a close look at 18 Trump rallies between June and September and followed subjects “up to ten post-rally weeks for each event.”

“The communities in which Trump rallies took place paid a high price in terms of disease and death,” researchers concluded.

Rates of COVID-19 often rose notably in communities that hosted the events, compared with nearby towns where Trump stayed away, the study found.
So, does that qualify Trump as a "mass murderer"?  If so, how may of his supporters will just say, "Well that's just Trump being Trump.  At least he's not a politician.  We need to get politicians out of politics!!!  Drain the swamp!" 

Will the "swamp" be drained or flooded tomorrow?  Time will tell.

Meanwhile, my new cassette to MP3 converter arrived on Saturday afternoon, and I've been puttering around with it to see how it works.

My
                    cassette to MP3 converter

In the picture above, the recorder is operating and putting the cassette content into a MP3 file on the flash drive I plugged into the side of the device.

For such a small device, it's really pretty complicated.  It has two basic "modes," "manual" and "auto."  In "manual" mode, it converts an entire cassette into two  MP3 files, one file for each side, unless you listen to it while converting and press a pause button twice between each song to separate the tape into individual songs and individual MP3 files.  And, if you do not stop the tape when it is done, it will just continue on converting first one side then the other forever (or until the batteries die), putting each side into a new MP3 file.  "Auto" mode is supposed to do things automatically, breaking a tape into individual songs and stopping when it has reached the end of the two sides.  But my attempts to use "auto" mode resulted in getting only some of the songs from the tape.  More than half the songs were just dropped for some unknown reason.  So, it's going to take some experimenting to find out exactly the best way to use it.          

November 1, 2020
- Yesterday, I checked the RDForum to see if they were still arguing.  They are.  However, "arguing" might not be the right word, since they are just talking to each other about how they weren't able to make me understand their beliefs.  One member, "Token," has been reading this web site, and he wrote a comment about what I wrote here in my October 25 comment.  In message #299 on the RDForum, "Token" wrote:
And he [me] boils the argument down to "All the debates boil down to one question: Do police radar guns measure speed relative to the ground or relative to the local speed of light?"

Was someone here saying that radar guns measure speed relative to the ground? I must have missed that. Moving mode guns may measure the speed of the ground to get patrol speed, but that is the closest I can come to anyone saying police radar measures speed relative to the ground.

He ends that posting with "If experiments show that I am wrong, then I am wrong. But the facts say I'm right, and someone claiming to have different "facts" doesn't change anything, particularly if they also claim the experiment is a waste of time and money because it cannot possibly work, since it disagrees with their facts."

At this point I am unsure which experiments he means, since he appears to agree that the two radar guns experiment cannot be done with radar gun hardware. If he were to suggest an experiment that could actually be done, maybe someone would do it.
He doesn't know what experiment I mean?  It's the experiment the thread with 301 messages is all about!  I described the experiment in message #1 when I started the thread, and several times I provided a link to my paper "Radar Guns and Relativity," which describes the truck experiment in great detail.  They say that the experiment cannot be done with "off-the-shelf" radar guns, because two such guns do not reliably transmit at the same frequency.  But that still says the experiment can be done with two radar guns that can be made to transmit at about the same frequency. If that is impossible, no one has explained why it is impossible.

In message #300, "Deacon" wrote:
He doesn’t need a second radar gun. His truck experiment just needs another object and the radar gun. The closed door of the box truck is sufficient. It’s frustrating and sad that the long-understood fundamental tenants of basic speed measuring radar are simply refuted out of hand, much less based on a foundation of unearned confidence in a series of partial misunderstandings.

By the way, ghosting isn’t the same as ending a discussion. He can satisfy himself, if he sees fit, by borrowing or buying a radar gun, renting a moving truck, and having a buddy drive it while get stares perplexed at a radar gun giving no reading (or zero) no matter how fast the truck drives.

PS I have yet to hear a single explanation of what the words “the local speed of light” even means.
And in message #301, the final message in the thread as of this moment, "Barry" wrote this as his entire message:
Oh well, at least we all tried. I had hope that quoting Einstein and using his equations would actually get through, but....
Searching through the discussion for where I explained "the local speed of light," I found that I wrote this in message #245:
The speed of light is always 186,282 miles per second, but time dilation says that the length of a second can be different almost everywhere. It changes with the altitude and the speed of an object. So, when talking about time dilation, the speed of light can be different everywhere yet still be 186,282 miles per second everywhere.
But that comment just cause a lot of arguments about time dilation, which has nothing to do with how radar guns work, even though it relates to what "local speed of light" means.

In message #256, I wrote:

The "local speed of light" is the determined by the speed of the atoms in the gun that emit the photons.

Maybe some information about how the speed of light is measured will help. Here's a diagram of a standard device for measuring the TWO WAY speed of light:
Speed of
              light measuring device
The device will measure the speed of light regardless of any movement of the device. In the illustration, the device is moving from left to right as the earth spins on its axis. The emitter emits photons that travel to the mirror at c. The photons hit the mirror at c-v because the mirror is moving away from the emitter. New, lower energy photons are emitted by the mirror to a detector next to the emitter. The new photons travel at c. The new photons hit the detector at c+v, adding back the lost energy. The device computes c-v+v=c and displays the speed of light from the emitter to the mirror and back.

In this situation, the movement of the earth is v. But you can also use the device on an airplane or on the ISS. It will still give the local speed of light. It compensates for any movement of the device. And the atomic clock enables the device to measure very tiny differences.
Should I have explained things in greater detail or in a different way?  I doubt that it would have made any difference.  The "local speed of light" is the speed of light as it is measured at a given location.  What's so complicated about that? 

It gets complicated when you talk about the speed of light being 299,292,458 meters per second everywhere, while the length of a second is different everywhere, but if you do not explain that, they just argue that measuring things relative to the speed of light means you have to compensate for the speed at which the earth rotates, the speed at which the earth orbits the sun, the speed at which the sun orbits the center of the Milky Way, etc.

The "local speed of light" is the speed of light as it is measured at a location, and, when talking about radar guns, that location would be the location of the radar gun.  Atoms within a typical radar gun emit photons which oscillate 35 billion times per second and travel at c, "the local speed of light."  Those atoms hit an oncoming vehicle at c+v, where v is the speed of the vehicle.  Atoms in the vehicle send back NEW photons which oscillate at a slightly higher rate due to the original photons arriving at c+v.  The radar gun then compares the oscillation rates of the photons it emitted to the photons it got back, and when compared to the speed of light in miles per second, which is a number stored in the radar gun's programming, that allows the gun to compute and display the speed of the target vehicle relative to the local speed of light.   

Token, Deacon and Barry all believe that radar guns measure relative speeds between objects, i.e., your speed relative to me.  But they cannot explain how radar guns can do that without measuring distances, since radar guns have no ability to measure distances.  But they evidently feel they do not need to explain anything if they just recite dogma that they all agree upon.  After all, their dogma is "the truth" and is not to be questioned.  Anyone who questions their dogma is a "non-believer" who must be converted to "the truth."  In other words, they are "True Believers," and, as I learned long ago, the only way to change the mind of a True Believer is to convert him to another belief.  I have no interest in converting anyone.  I just wanted to discuss radar guns in order to clarify how they work, and to make certain I didn't misunderstand something.  I did that.  So, I've moved on.  Unfortunately, I've left behind some True Believers who still want to convert me to their beliefs. 

If someone wants to try to convert me to their beliefs, they can't do that by endlessly and mindlessly reciting dogma, they have to calmly and intelligently discuss facts, evidence and experiments.  If they want to understand what "local speed of light" means, we can discuss that topic all by itself until they understand. If they want, I could start a new thread on that topic.  Or they could discuss it on my blog at http://oldguynewissues.blogspot.com/2020/09/experiments-to-resolve-conflict-between.html











© 2020 by Ed Lake
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