Archive for
February 2021

Comments for Sunday, February 21, 2021, thru Sun., Feb. 28, 2021:

February 28, 2021 - Groan!  There just aren't enough hours in a day!  I've been looking around for ways I might promote my sci-fi novel "Time Work," and I found a couple interesting places where they discuss sci-fi novels.  The first was the Facebook group "Science Fiction."  It's a "private" group, so I had to join, and in the process I had to promise not to promote anything until after I've posted 100 messages to the discussions.   The group has over 68,500 members, and over 15 messages get posted there every minute.

One problem with the group is that there are so many interesting things being posted that, if you enjoy science fiction (which I do), you can spend all day just looking through them.  And there is a lot of interesting science FACTS, too.  Did you know that there's a company that plans to start building a space station four years from now that will have artificial gravity just like the space station in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"?  Also, most threads in the forum begin with images.  Here's an example:

robot reading a book

Another more serious problem is that anything that gets posted gets quickly lost.  Yesterday, I posted a response to a comment about the 1979 movie "Alien," and today it took me ten minutes to find that thread, and I found no one had responded to my comment.

The other place I found to discuss sci-fi novels is a massive blog or web site called "Science Fiction & Fantasy Forum."  It has 19,306 members and 95,629 different discussion threads.  So, anything posted there is also likely to be quickly lost in the deluge.  After I joined, just to make sure everything works properly, I posted to a thread about the last time you visited a used book store.  But there are so many threads that I'll need some time to figure out where and how to post a comment about my book.  Some threads have been going on for 6 years or more.

Meanwhile, the discussions I was having on the sci.physics.relativity forum seem to have come to an end.  People are still arguing in the thread I started about my book, but they are arguing with each other - mostly about words and their proper usage.  However, I was the last one to post to the thread, and it's possible that the person I was exchanging messages with just hasn't been on-line since I posted.

That thread, and another titled "About Time Itself," were very interesting while they lasted.   In one discussion I mentioned an idea that had just occurred to me: If you are in a spaceship that is accelerating at 1 g, that means that you can walk around on the rear wall as if it was a floor.  You can sleep and eat normally using the rear wall as the floor.  But the constant acceleration means that you are going faster and faster, and that means Time for you will be going slower and slower.  As I recall, it was also how the spaceship in the sci-fi novel "Variable Star" worked.  I found a science web site that says,
If you’re accelerating at a fast enough rate to produce a constant 1 g, then sure, you’ll be able to create artificial, Earth-like gravity. From Earth’s frame of reference, if you’re accelerating at a constant rate of 1 g, then you’d reach near the speed of light in about a year, having covered about 0.5 light-years in distance.  While ramping up to near light speed, you’d theoretically be able to to eat your breakfast of champions as you would on Earth.

On the flip side, you have to be prepared to decelerate properly as you get closer to your destination. This could take months or even years—it sort of depends on what is tolerable to the travelers inside the spacecraft. If you’re trying to emulate a 1 g environment again, then you basically have to plan for a year’s worth of deceleration en route to your destination.
And, more interestingly, Wikipedia says,
At a constant acceleration of 1 g, a rocket could travel the diameter of our galaxy in about 12 years ship time, and about 113,000 years planetary time. If the last half of the trip involves deceleration at 1 g, the trip would take about 24 years. If the trip is merely to the nearest star, with deceleration the last half of the way, it would take 3.6 years.
What I wondered about was how a pendulum clock would work in such an situation.   When talking about Time Dilation and clocks slowing down, someone always brings up pendulum clocks, because they do not work in zero gravity, they probably wouldn't work properly if you are accelerating at less than 1 g, and they do not work if you are accelerating laterally.  But they should work at 1 g if the rear wall of the ship is the floor upon which the clock stands.

I could spend all day researching this kind of stuff, and that is what I've been doing for the past few days.  Meanwhile, I haven't had time to listen to any podcasts.  I feel like I'm standing under a waterfall of interesting stuff.

February 25, 2021
- Hmm.   I've now sold a grand total of 2 copies of my sci-fi novel "Time Work."  Both copies were Kindle copies, the first one was paid for in British pounds, and the second was paid for in German marks.  If you buy a Kindle copy of the book, you can be reading it ten minutes later.  If you buy the paperback version, you won't be able to start reading it for a couple weeks.  My copies are expected to arrive late next week, maybe the week after.  It seems very possible that Amazon does not record a paperback sale until they actually ship the book.  I'll find out next week or the week after.  (They have to print the book before they can ship it.)

Hoping to make more people aware of the book, a couple days ago I decided to start a discussion about it on the sci.physics.relativity forum.  Of course, making people aware of a book doesn't mean they will actually buy it.  But I wanted to see what would happen.

What happened was what always happens when I post comments to that forum.  They endlessly argued over words.  They argued that, if the book is "science-fiction," then there can be no science in it, it can only be pure fiction.   

When I argued with them, I used "The Martian" as an example.  In that movie, a man is mistakenly thought to be dead and is left behind on Mars when a group of explorers return to earth.  The man doesn't have enough food, water or oxygen to survive until they can send a rescue mission.  So, the man has to use science to create the food, water and oxygen he needs in order to stay alive.

The response from Eber Sandrelli was "No, he uses fiction, not science. Movies and scifi books are fiction."

Then I wrote, "If someone in a novel uses heat to boil water, does that make it fiction? A fictional character used a fictional stove to heat fictional water, BUT THE SCIENCE IS REAL."

The response from Sandrelli was, "Boiling water isn't science."

With "Odds Bodkin" I argued that Einstein came up with his Time Dilation ideas through thought experiments.  But Mr. Bodkin argued that thought experiments were just what Einstein used to explain things to laypeople, the train-embankment "thought experiments" for example.  I didn't see them as thought experiments, I saw them as ways to describe ideas to laypeople.  So, all we did was argue about what is a "thought experiment" and what isn't.

Meanwhile, someone named "Mitch" was arguing "You have to stop time before you can make it go backward."  That's not exactly an argument over words, but I tried to explain that people in my book do not cause time to go backwards, they transfer from one dimension to another, they transfer from our dimension where time moves forward to the anti-time dimension where time moves backward.  When they return to normal time, they return to the point where they left it.  Did they "stop time."  No, they left normal time and then returned to the point where they left it.

So far, there has been no name calling, and it has all been fairly interesting.  There are still people who will argue by making the exact same claim over and over, and I will counter-argue by explaining things in a different way each time.  They learn nothing, but explaining things in many different ways helps me make certain I am correct in what I understand. 

And there are indications that Eber Sandrelli believes the moon landings were a hoax.  If I get tired of arguing about what is science and what is not, I might question him on that subject.

February 22, 2021
- There was an email from Amazon in my inbox this morning, time stamped 1:07 a.m., informing me that the paperback version of "Time Work" is now available for purchase at  So, I immediately ordered some copies. 

I skipped the "proof copy" step, where the author gets copies before they officially go on sale, so he/she can look the book over to make sure everything is okay.  That step would delay making the paperback available for at least 2 weeks, maybe 3.  It appears I can make changes to the Kindle and paperback versions any time I want to, and they'll go into effect almost immediately.  Unlike "normal" publishers who send copies to bookstores, Amazon is a "print on demand" publisher, which means if you want to buy a copy of a book they sell, they will print one for you.  

My daily sales reports still show just one copy sold.  So, that single Kindle copy I sold in England on the first day wasn't the start of a frantic rush to buy copies.

I still don't know whether or not I'll go through the process of creating a paperback version of Clipper.  All I'll have to do is spend is a lot of time putting it into paperback book format.  But, right now my thoughts are on getting the paperback copies of Time Work, and on a new book I want to write, tentatively titled "Analyzing Relativity."  In fact, I'm going to end this comment right here so that I can start working on that book.  

February 21, 2021
- Whew!  On Friday afternoon, after a lot of stumbling around by me, the Kindle version of my sci-fi novel "Time Work" was finally "published" and made available for sale on  Amazon sent me an email time-stamped "4:02 p.m.," advising me "Your book is available in the Kindle Store!"

Time Work

And, just to demonstrate that everyone makes mistakes, I used the wrong version of the cover on the Amazon page.  The "final" version uses a different, less-weird font for the lower three lines.  You can see it in the upper left corner of the main page for this site.  Notice, too, that after weeks of experimenting with different cover designs, I finally settled on just plain black on white.

If you click on the "Look inside" feature on Amazon's site, they show the first three chapters and part of the fourth chapter.

When I checked the sales reports for all of my books this morning, I expected there would be no sales for Time Work.  To my great and pleasant surprise, someone presumably in England bought a copy. (Their payment was in British pounds.)  Of course, it's too early to expect anyone to write a review for it.

My WWII novel "Clipper" was published for Kindle in September of 2010, and it has never received a review.  I didn't keep any record of how many copies it sold, but in my October 28, 2011 (A) comment on my anthrax site, I wrote about how sales for Clipper "have suddenly picked up" as a result of a TV series about Pan Am that was airing at that time, so I must have sold at least a few copies.

In order to get sales for a new book, people have to know about the book.  And, except for readers of this web site, no one knows about "Time Work."  Plus, according to some surveys, 41% of Americans haven't read any books in the past year.   And only about 20% have read an e-book.  I would have guessed the numbers to be a lot lower than that.  And science-fiction readers are probably a tiny portion of the total.  How the buyer in England discovered the book will probably always be a mystery to me.

My next task is to produce and publish a paperback version of "Time Work."  I almost gave up on doing that when I learned that printed books for sale must have an ISBN number, and if you buy just one number, it costs $125.   But, I quickly learned that it all depends upon where you buy the ISBN number.  If you self-publish via Amazon, they will give you an ISBN for free.  However, your book will not be included in the "Books In Print" database used by libraries and book stores.  None of my books are in that database.

Of course, there is a positive side to publishing Kindle books on Amazon.  Publishing is FREE if you know how to follow the directions.  So far, getting my Kindle version of "Time Work" on Amazon hasn't cost me a cent (except for the $65 fee for registering it with the Copyrights office at the Library of Congress).  And it won't cost me anything to make the paperback version available for sale on Amazon, either.  Of course, I will have to pay for the copies I plan to buy for myself and to give away. 

As far as I know, as of this moment no one else on Earth (other than me and possibly that person in England) has read "Time Work."  I don't think I've ever before felt so tense and uncomfortable about what people will think of a book I've written.  The story involves a very unique and different form of time travel.  It's totally mind-boggling to me.  And I wonder what others will think of it.  Will conspiracy theorists think that kind of time travel actually exists?  Time will tell.

Comments for Sunday, February 14, 2021, thru Sat., Feb. 20, 2021:

February 19, 2021 - A couple days ago, I was looking for something in the news when I noticed an article which said The National Geographic Channel is planning a multi-part series about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  I was in the middle of researching something else, so I didn't do any more than glance at the article. 

Checking further into it this morning, I was puzzled that they were saying that it was Part 2 of the series "The Hot Zone."  But it turns out the first part was about the Ebola outbreak in 1989.  It aired last year.  The second part will be about the anthrax attacks and is titled "The Hot Zone: Anthrax." Filming starts in Toronto this month.  An AP article in the Valdosta Daily Times seems to be the most informative.  It and the Press Release say it will be a six-part series, each part 1 hour long.  It's going to be a scripted docu-drama, not a documentary.   Harry Hamlin will play news anchor Tom Brokaw, Dylan Baker will play FBI agent Ed Copak, Daniel Dae Kim will play FBI agent Matthew Ryker, and Tony Goldwyn will play Bruce Ivins, "a brilliant microbiologist who becomes embroiled in the hunt to find the 2001 anthrax killer. While he works closely with the FBI to uncover who is behind the deadly anthrax letters, his growing instability and paranoia give way to even deeper and unnerving discoveries." 

I'll definitely be on the look-out for the series when it finally airs, probably this fall.  My book about the anthrax attacks doesn't mention Ed Copak or Matthew Ryker.  So, it will be interesting to see how they fit into the "drama."

February 17, 2021
- Once again I accomplished something!  Yesterday, while watching the last of 17 inches of snow bury everything outside, I finished listening to another audio book I'd obtained from my local library.  The book was "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race."


Unlike the audio "book" I listened to the day before, there are actually printed versions of this 3-hour, 37-minute audio book.  And they all got rave reviews when they were published in 2010.  I looked at some pages on Amazon's web site and was stunned to see the printed versions are very heavily illustrated.  The audio book is mostly just John Stewart, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Wyatt Cenak, and Jason Jones from The Tonight Show reading the text and the captions to the illustrations, assisted by Signorney Weaver who helps put everything into context (probably because she knows how to talk to aliens).

The book is written as a history of the human race for extraterrestrial aliens who might visit Earth after we've wiped ourselves out by wars, plagues, climate change or other methods.  It's not only very funny, it's also very profound and thought-provoking.   Sigourney Weaver also introduces the FAQs (Future Alien Questions) at the end of each chapter.  Even though the book was written in 2010, here's a question and answer from page 145:
Q. You had the word "Trump" on many of your buildings.  What did that word mean?
A.  A Trump was a demon  who sometimes appeared to us in quasi-human form in order to fire us from a job we never wanted in the first place.
It is a terrific book, probably best enjoyed in printed book form, since while listening to the audio book I constantly kept wanting to write down some of the thought-provoking things that were being said.   

February 16, 2021
- Okay, I accomplished something yesterday.  I finished listening to another "audio book" I'd obtained from my local library.  I put "audio book" in quotation marks because there is no print version of the "book."  The "book" was "The Best of the Second City."

The Best of Second City

It features comedy skits by The Second City comedy troupe that has operated in Chicago since 1959 and starred Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Marsha Mason, Tina Fey and Ed Asner, among many many others.  The "audio book" is just 2 hours and 46 minutes long, and was produced in 1993.  I was surprised to hear Ed Asner featured in some of the skits.  His was about the only voice I definitely recognized, although I'm pretty sure I could occasionally pick out Colbert and Carell, too.  While there were definitely a lot of laughs in the "audio book," there were also a lot of skits that I can only describe as "strange."  They may have been hilarious 30 or 40 years ago, but some of the humor is lost when you have to try to recall what various politicians were doing and saying back then.  Overall, though, it was an interesting and enjoyable 2 hours and 46 minutes.  

February 14, 2021
- Damn!  I really need to stop writing comments about what I plan to do.  And maybe even about what I am doing.  When I write such comments, and then I appear to finish nothing, it must be very tedious and disappointing for the readers of this web site. 

To me, it is all part of the creative process. 

Last week was particularly bad.  I'd created the text for the Kindle version of my sci-fi novel, and I was trying to design a cover.  Then on Thursday my computer seemed to be running very slow.  I would have to stop typing every few seconds because my computer couldn't keep up.  It's a common problem caused by having too many programs running in my computer at the same time.  They aren't things I am running, they're things that Microsoft Windows does.  So, I had to shut down everything and do a re-start to get things working properly again.  I did that on Thursday.

Then on Friday I discovered that, when I did that re-start, all the stuff Kindle was doing in my computer was deleted.  They were running their "Kindle Create" software in my computer.  It's a program to create Kindle and print versions of books.  I thought it was software I'd downloaded into my computer like an app (application), but the software was just running in my computer, it wasn't actually stored there.  And when I did the re-start, the connection to Kindle Create was broken and the software was deleted by the re-start.  So, I have to do a lot of things over again.  Fortunately, I saved all the changes I made to the text, so I didn't lose that.  I have the .DOCX version of the book, but the .kpf version I saved is useless.  I have to restart the Kindle Create program and it assumes I'm starting from scratch, so I'll have to convert my WORD .DOCX version to their .kpf format once again.

But I need to have the cover art ready before I do that, or I'll just run into the same problems with my computer slowing down again.

And what I've just written is another comment about what I am doing and what I plan to do, which I assume no one cares about.  I also plan to combine all my science papers into a book, but what I'll most likely actually do is lay down on my couch and listen to some podcasts while pondering how to organize the book.

Also, except for my Sunday comments, I plan to stop wasting time writing comments here about what I'm doing and what I plan to do.  I'm just going to write comments about what  I've actually accomplished.  And maybe some comments about strange or fascinating things that I've discovered or observed.

That's the plan.

Comments for Sunday, February 7, 2021, thru Sat., Feb. 13, 2021:

February 11, 2021 - Tuesday morning, while waiting for it to be time to go get my first Covid vaccination, and being unable to concentrate on anything else, I listened to some podcasts.  I'd found a new series of science podcasts on the Internet, and I decided to listen to a sample episode.  The series is called "The Titanium Physicists Podcast."  They've produced 86 podcasts so far, less than one a month, and looking through them I chose episode #20 to be my first listen.  The episode from July 29, 2012, is titled "Time Dilates When You are Having Fun."  

Wow!  What a disappointment!  It's hard to describe why I was so annoyed by it.  It seems to be some physicists goofing around and talking about how crazy Relativity is.  The host is Dr. Ben Tippett, who is a theoretical physicist specializing in General Relativity.  He is currently an instructor of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics at the College of the Rockies in British Columbia, Canada.  You can download a transcript of the show.  I did, and they used the word "crazy" twelve times.  Here's the first time:
Michael: Have they ever decided on whether light is a wave or a particle?
Jocelyn: They've firmly decided that it's both.
Ken: Firmly decided not to decide.
Jocelyn: Yeah but that get's into quantum theory which is the other crazy modern physics thing.
Michael: Oh, god, is that being discussed tonight too?
Ben: No.
Ken: Ok, good.
Jocelyn: We're going to stick to one sort of counter-intuitive understanding of the universe at a time.
Ken: Alright, good.
To me, that is like crazy people discussing science.  Here are four more uses of the word "crazy":
Ben: Actually it's kind of a crazy thing because the way we are intuitively used to the world, in Galilean relativity if something's moving, when two people see it moving, they can disagree on how fast it's moving. So imagine that you are driving in the car and you look out the window and there's a seagull sitting in the air just outside, you know flying, but kind of outside your window abreast with your car. You look out and you see that seagull and you say hey that seagull is sitting still. Whereas somebody standing on the side of the road would see your car go past and then a seagull flying 60 miles an hour next to your window and he'll say that's seagull is flying 60 miles an hour.
Michael: Right, right.
Ben: It's crazy windy today.
Ben: The crazy thing about what Einstein said, was he said, well what if this doesn't happen for light. What if, regardless of whether you're in a car, whether you're in a rocket ship, whether you're sitting still, you're always going to see light traveling at the same speed. It's a little bit crazy but as Jocelyn said it's entirely equivalent to what Michelson Morley findings were.
I don't find Einstein's theories to be "crazy."  I find them to be awesome.  When they talk about Einstein's Relativity Theories being "crazy," they are talking about how "counter-intuitive" they are.  And they basically say that even though time dilation is "crazy," you still have to believe it.

NO!!!  I do NOT have to believe something that is "crazy"!  I believe that Time Dilation is real because I believe I UNDERSTAND IT.  And it is AMAZING.  It is "counter-intuitive" only if you have some fixed belief that Time is the same everywhere.  But who has such a belief?  To have such a belief you first have to think about how Time works.  I never thought about how Time works until AFTER I read about Time Dilation.  And the more I studied it, the more sense it made.

I'd downloaded about ten episodes of the podcast, but after listening to the episode on Time Dilation I just briefly sampled some of the others before deleting them all from my MP3 player.  It's really annoying to me to listen to "physicists" laugh about how "crazy" Relativity and Time Dilation are.

In sharp contrast, yesterday afternoon I listened to a Big Picture Science podcast from January 25, 2021, titled "Skeptic Check: Shared Reality."  Big Picture Science is my second-favorite podcast after The Infinite Monkey Cage.  I've listened to every episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage, and I think I've listened to just about every Big Picture Science episode.  The "Shared Reality" episode is one of their best.  Here's their description of the show:
One of the many shocking aspects of the Capitol attack was that it revealed how thoroughly the nation had cleaved into alternate realities. How did we get to this point? How did misinformation come to create beliefs embraced by millions?

In this episode, experts in social media, cults, and the history of science join us for a discussion about how these alternative realities formed, why people are drawn to them, and the benefits of a shared reality.
I wish I had a transcript, but all I have are a few notes.  Here are some of my notes:
"Reality" depends upon the quality of evidence supporting it.

"Malignant Narcissism" = "The Cult of Trump."

Disinformation is created intentionally!

"All truth is relative" is the claim of NUT CASES.

"You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into."
The episode begins with the hosts talking about the January 6 attack on the Capitol building and about conspiracy theorists and how they think.  The episode is about 54 minutes long, and I enjoyed every second of it.

And now I'm going to listen to Monday's episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage, which is titled "The Fundamentals of Reality." The subject of "what is reality?" seems very important when you have mobs of angry people who think "what is reality?" is a something that each person decides for himself, and everyone's opinion is as just as valid as everyone else's.

February 10, 2021 - I got my first Covid vaccination yesterday.  It was the Pfizer vaccine.  I think the experience is worth mentioning because it was absolutely nothing like what you see on TV, and it was very different from what I expected after reconnoitering the vaccination site on Monday afternoon.  Evidently they weren't giving vaccinations on Monday. 

Things looked about the same when I arrived.  The two story USBank building was mostly hidden behind snow piles that lined the highway in Franksville, Wisconsin, about 8 miles from where I live.  The village of Franksville is located inside the village of Caledonia, Wisconsin.  (I have no idea how that happened, but I assume one is mostly Democrat and the other is mostly Republican.)

There were 3 gaps in the snow piles and no indication as to which led to the bank.  Just as I had done on Monday, I missed the first one, the second one looked very narrow, so I turned into the third one, which was also the entrance to a Subway sandwich shop.  But they shared a parking lot with the bank.  The parking lot was nearly full, which was very different from Monday.  I sat in my car waiting until 5 minutes to my appointment time.  Then I walked to the rear door.  Unlike Monday, on Tuesday there were folding signs on the sidewalk, signs which stated that you should not enter more than 15 minutes before your appointment time.  The rear door was still covered with "Exit only" signs, but it was clearly the entrance.

Inside it was very busy, with at least fifty people sitting or moving around in the open area between the empty teller widows on my right and the bank offices and waiting area on my left.  The Central Racine County Health Department was actually located on the second floor, but the USBank at that location had closed about a year ago, so the vaccination area was on the first floor.  Ropes guided me to the first desk where I had to wait for about 30 seconds while the guy ahead of me explained that he was 30 minutes early but hoped he'd get in anyway.   They sent him to a chair to wait.  The woman at the first desk took the form I'd filled out at home and then sent me to the next desk where another woman asked some questions, handed the form back to me and sent me down a rope corridor to the vaccination area.  There was one guy ahead of me for about a minute.  Then I was ushered into one of the offices and a woman in white gave me the shot.

From there I was taken to chair #10 in a waiting area where a town of Caledonia police officer and a medic noted my presence by setting a tiny timer about the size of a D-cell battery.  There were about 40 such timers on the table in front of the police officer.  The chairs, of course, were about 6 feet apart.  While I was being observed for 15 minutes to make certain I had no adverse reactions to the vaccine shot, a guy with a portable computer briefly crouched down next to me and arranged for my second shot, which will be on March 2nd.  I also heard some employee tell another employee that they had just given 11 shots in 16 minutes.  Exactly 15 minutes after I sat down, the police officer picked up timer #10 and told me it was okay for me to leave. 

So, I was in and out in about 20 minutes.  It was all very efficient and well organized in spite of the odd location and the chaotic first impression.  

And now I can think of other things besides how and when I can get my Covid vaccine shots.   

February 8, 2021
- Today was somewhat of an eventful day.  I was working on a cover for my sci-fi novel this morning when I got an email from my local county health department asking if I wanted to sign up for a Covid shot.  Of course I did, and I signed up to get the shot tomorrow afternoon.  That automatically puts me on the list for my second shot 27 days later.  I only need to pick the time of day.

After lunch, I drove to the place where they give the shots, just to see where it was and  how long it would take me to get there.  It takes about 15 minutes, and the health department is in what looks like an abandoned bank building.  There are what looks like abandoned (snow covered) cars in all the bank's drive-through lanes.  And it appears I have to enter through the door that is marked "Exit Only."  I think I read somewhere that the health department is on the second floor, but the instructions say the shots will be given on the first floor. 

Anyway, while driving there to look the place over, I finished listening to CD #7 in the 7-CD audio book set for "The Art of Thinking Clearly" by Rolf Dobelli.

The art of thinking clearly 

It's a very interesting book containing 99 "cognitive errors" that are commonly made by people, and suggestions on how to avoid them.  One such error is called "cognitive bias," and is described this way:
The confirmation bias is the mother of all misconceptions. It is the tendency to interpret new information so that it becomes compatible with our existing theories, beliefs, and convictions. In other words, we filter out any new information that contradicts our existing views (“disconfirming evidence”). This is a dangerous practice. “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored,” said writer Aldous Huxley. However, we do exactly that, as super-investor Warren Buffett knows: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”
The Internet is particularly fertile ground for the confirmation bias. To stay informed, we browse news sites and blogs, forgetting that our favored pages mirror our existing values, be they liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between. Moreover, a lot of sites now tailor content to personal interests and browsing history, causing new and divergent opinions to vanish from the radar altogether. We inevitably land in communities of like-minded people, further reinforcing our convictions—and the confirmation bias.
Needless to say, this is the primary thinking-mode of most conspiracy theorists.  And it seems to be the thinking mode for most Trump supporters.  Weighing facts and evidence is not part of this kind of thinking.  They just look for support for what they already believe.

One type of thinking that I hadn't thought much about is #9: "authority bias."  The book gives an interesting example:
Over the past decade, airlines have also learned the dangers of the authority bias. In the old days, the captain was king. His commands were not to be doubted. If a copilot suspected an oversight, he wouldn’t have dared to address it out of respect for—or fear of—his captain. Since this behavior was discovered, nearly every airline has instituted crew resource management (CRM), which coaches pilots and their crews to discuss any reservations they have openly and quickly. In other words: They carefully deprogram the authority bias. CRM has contributed more to flight safety in the past twenty years than have any technical advances.
There are 97 more such "cognitive errors," some of which are very similar to others.  Some are also questionable.  #99 on the list is "News Illusion" or "Why you shouldn't listen to the news."  Here's one quote from that section:
News is to the mind what sugar is to the body: appetizing, easy to digest—and highly destructive in the long run.
The author seems to be talking about "news junkies," people who spend hours reading newspapers and news magazines.  I check the news on-line every morning, basically just looking at the headlines.  I don't read any articles unless there is something particularly interesting about them.  And I watch the evening news to get the weather forecast, and to see if anything truly important has happened.  So, I think some of the "cognitive errors" are a lot more common than others.  But, it was an interesting book and well suited for listening to for ten or fifteen minutes every time whenever I have to drive somewhere.    

February 7, 2021
- Hmm.  I seem to be still frozen in front of my computer, unable to decide about what do do next.  If I could put my mind to it, I could have a Kindle version of my sci-fi novel available for sale on Amazon in a day or two.  But, I'd still like to produce a paperback version first, even though the previous novel I sold via Amazon only has a Kindle version

Clipper by Edward G. Lake 

However, I also wish I'd created a paperback version for that book.  It would just be nice to have some copies on my bookshelf, and I'd like to give a couple copies to my local library.   But self-publishing was a very different kind of enterprise back then.  Although I wrote that Kindle version in 1995, I don't have it in my Kindle, because I didn't own a Kindle until my sister bought one for me about 15 or 20 years later.   I have the computer-printed manuscript for "Clipper" stuck away in a closet, and I just found the .DOC files on my backup hard drive.  They are all D.O.S. files that can't even be correctly viewed by today's WORD software, although it seems clear I could extract a readable version from those files if I wanted to.  I'm not sure how many Kindle copies I sold.  Amazon shows NO reviews for it.  They also show a Sept. 12, 2010 publication date.

I checked my web site and found lots of information about the book in an entry dated December 7, 2014.  Here's part of the first paragraph:

one reason I got interested in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was all the conspiracy theories that were spawned by Pearl Harbor Truthers in the decades that followed the attack.  I've actually met some Pearl Harbor Truthers over the years.   I remember talking with one at the Austin Film Festival in 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11.  I don't recall his name, but he was rail-thin, in his 50's or 60's, very tense and driven, and also thoroughly dedicated to spreading his theory that Pearl Harbor was made possible via a U.S. government conspiracy: President Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to happen so that America would be drawn into World War II.  The Truther didn't particularly like me telling him that my novel "Clipper" debunked all such conspiracy theories.  It was like he was on a mission, dedicating his life to getting people to learn "the truth" about Pearl Harbor.  Of course, he was also at the Austin Film Festival to try to sell his screenplay about the conspiracy.
That comment also contains a lot of details that I'd largely forgotten.  I remember printing about 20 or 30 copies of the manuscript and shipping them to my agent who sent them to a couple dozen publishers, but to no avail.  We couldn't get a sale.   Here's another part of that 2014 comment from my anthrax site:
(Somewhere in a closet I have copies of manuscripts for three or four other novels I wrote before "Clipper" (and before the age of home computers, which means they're not on disks) but couldn't get an agent or publisher interested.
So, if I wanted to self-publish those earlier novels I'd either have to retype them, or I'd have to scan each page of each book and then convert them from printed text to computer text (which also usually involves a lot of re-typing).   Plus, I assume they are all somewhat "dated."  In a previous comment I mentioned that in my sci-fi novel some of the villains drove a 2 or 3 year-old Mercury Sable, which they stopped making in 2009.  My sci-fi novel also has the main character use the Internet to find the nearest payphone so that he could make an anonymous phone call.   Do they still have payphones?  Yes.  There are still about 100,000 in operation around the United States.  When I wrote the sci-fi novel there were ways to find payphones by using the Internet.  There still are.  But will readers of my novel believe it?  Time will tell.

And, of course, I also keep wanting to work on science papers.  I'm now thinking about overhauling my paper "What is Time?" to add a suggested experiment that compares time measured by an atomic clock in a centrifuge to time measured by an atomic clock that is stationary next to the centrifuge.  The more I think about it, the more it seems that centrifuge experiment would be just as mind-blowing for closed-minded mathematicians as my suggested moving truck experiment.  Plus, the paper I last revised six years ago probably needs better illustrations.  This cartoon illustration of Einstein's Time Dilation example involving someone at the North Pole and someone at the equator doesn't seem to belong in a "serious" science paper:
Einstein's Time Dilation example 
But, I'm not sure what I could replace it with.  All I can think about right now is that it is ten degrees below zero outside!

Comments for Monday, February 1, 2021, thru Sat., Feb. 6, 2021:

February 4, 2021 - Okay, yesterday I completed my income taxes.  But then I learned that the IRS doesn't accept forms until February 12.  So, my forms are in a queue somewhere and will be submitted on the 12th.

Today I copyrighted my sci-fi novel. So I have the Library of Congress Control Number that goes on the page after the title page.  Cost: $65.  That's all I need in order to produce a Kindle version of the book.   However, I really want to produce a print version first.  That requires that I develop the artwork for the cover, which I haven't yet started on.   Plus I have to buy an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and the UPC code that goes on the back cover.

Plus, I'm waiting for another winter storm that is forecasted to produce another 2 or 3 inches of snow this afternoon and tomorrow.  And the only thing I feel like doing is listening to some podcasts - or maybe going for a walk before the snow starts.

February 2, 2021
- Damn!  There was an email in my inbox this morning informing me that my health care provider has received a supply of coronavirus vaccine and I could sign up for my first shot.  However, when I tried to sign up, I was informed that they had filled all their appointments for the week.  I suspect that people who were notified by a cell phone "APP" got there first.  So, I have to continue to wait.  I have a cell phone, but I don't have the "APP."  My phone is a "disposable" or "prepaid" model that I just carry around for emergencies, which means it is not a "smart phone."  It is neither an Apple nor an Android, and it therefore cannot handle the "APP" used by my health care provider.  Usually my cell phone just sits on a shelf next to my front door.  All the phone calls I make are made via my "wall phone."  (Yes, they still have such things.)

Meanwhile, I tried doing my income taxes.  I now have all the forms I need.  But when I tried to sign into the service that does my taxes for free, I couldn't get past the second step.  I get a notification that they are transferring data to my computer, but that notification just remains on my computer screen for hour after hour.  Presumably, they are at their processing capacity, and I just have to wait.

In theory, that means I should have time to work on self-publishing my sci-fi novel.  But, in reality it means I cannot think about my novel because I'm thinking about waiting for my tax program to start working.  Plus I'm thinking about writing this comment.  Plus, I'm thinking about checking to see if some local pharmacy has the Covid vaccine.  Plus I'm thinking about how artificial gravity created in human centrifuges should also slow time.  I argued a lot about that in the past, but I don't recall if I ever mentioned it in a paper.  It would be another terrific experiment to disprove the beliefs of countless mathematicians who argue that there is no such thing as time dilation.

Here's an illustration I used in my July 15, 2018 comment and in my March 29, 2020 comment, but I apparently never used it in any paper:
Time Dilation centrifuge experiment
The idea is to put an atomic clock on the centrifuge and another in the control room.  The two clocks are verified to show the same time, and then the one in the centrifuge is spun for the centrifuge's maximum run time and at the centrifuge's maximum speed.
When the centrifuge is stopped and the two clocks are compared, the clock on the centrifuge should show the combined slower time effects of gravitational and velocity time dilation.

Plus if you have access to two atomic clocks and such a centrifuge, it is virtually a no cost experiment.  And it should resolve countless arguments.  I definitely need to add it to some paper.  But which paper?

Damn!  It's lunch time, I still can't get into the tax site, and after lunch I need to go for a walk to get some exercise.  Sigh.  There just aren't enough hours in a day!

February 1, 2021
- The official snowfall total for Saturday and Sunday in my area turned out to be 12 inches. Today is bright and sunny, and about 30 degrees.  The mathematician who wrote me yesterday didn't respond to my reply.  So, it's a bright new day in more ways than one.

Yesterday afternoon, I listened to a very interesting podcast.  It was an episode of "Big Picture Science" titled "Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience."
  The episode originally aired on November 25, 2019, but that was for subscribers who are willing to pay to hear the podcasts.  It was made available for free on Jan. 11, 2021, but I didn't get around to listening to it until yesterday.

Wow!  What a great episode!  Here's the blurb from their site:
Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts.  Nonetheless, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  But the harm from pseudoscience can go far beyond your wallet – especially when it promotes unscientific treatments for serious disease.  Find out what alarming discovery led one naturopath to quit her practice and why scientific ignorance is not bliss.
There are dozens of psychics with offices in Manhattan, and countless more all over the country.  I did a Google search for "psychics near me," and Google showed one on Main Street in my town and two others in nearby towns.  There are also dozens reachable by phone who will give you readings for 99 cents per minute (some even charge less). They may be total scam artists, but if you want to pay to have a psychic tell you what the future has in store for you, there's nothing illegal about that.

The same with going to a naturopathic doctor instead of a medical doctor.  The podcast has a lot of chilling information about naturopathic doctors.  There do not seem to be any in my town, but there are plenty within driving distance.

The part of the podcast that interested me the most was about "skeptics" who are science deniers.  They demand 100% proof for anything they do not believe, and they require NO proof for whatever they do believe.  It seems I've encountered dozens and dozens of those over the years. 

Somewhere in the podcast someone said, "The half-way point between truth and a lie is still a lie," and I made a note of it.  I don't recall the exact context, but I think they were saying that the "truth" is just what is known and what is unknown.  If something is known to be a lie, then it is a lie and no part of it is "truth."

One of the guests on the episode was Lee McIntyre, the author of a book titled "The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience."  It turned out that I have the book in my Kindle, but for some reason I never read it.  McIntyre also wrote a book titled "Post-Truth," which looks even more interesting.  The problem is: I was reading a book about the history of the English language when I was made aware of a book about the history of comedians, so I stopped reading the language book and started on the comedians book.  Now it seems I should stop reading the comedians book and start on one of McIntyre's books.    

Sigh.  So much to do, so few hours in a day.


© 2021 by Ed Lake