Archive for
May 2022

May 15, 2022 -  Okay, I've  now completed week #2 of my 3-week effort to get my computer files and my apartment cleaned up and organized.

Of course, I spent most of last week just sitting in a chair and wondering what to do next.  Occasionally, I'd move some books around on my bookshelves, trying to decide which I should bag up and give to Goodwill.  Last week I didn't give away any books, but I bagged up a few empty 3-ring binders.  I also found I have nearly a dozen 3-ring binders filled with stuff about the anthrax attacks of 2001, and in one binder I found copies of an unpublished "newspaper" called "Ed Lake's News" that I started creating in June of 1996 and continued with for about a year.  My scanner doesn't seem compatible with any of my current computers, so I had to use my camera to take the photo below.  (It says "Volume 2, Issue 1" at the top of the page, but I can't find any Volume 1.) 

Ed Lake's

Evidently, I created the "newspaper" as a way of playing around with a new computer, a new color printer, and some new graphics software I'd just bought.  And I was pondering the idea of somehow connecting to the Internet.  The only way I could connect to the Internet at that time was to use a computer in the library at a nearby university.

At that time I had about 30 years of experience working with business computers, programming them and designing systems for them.  But the idea of having a computer at home was a very new idea.  And so was the idea of connecting to other computers around the world via the Internet.

Looking at the main article, I see that it says I spent "thousands" of dollars on a new computer.  I couldn't believe that was true, but then I found an article in the next issue of the newspaper that says I paid $2,207.09 for a Packard Bell computer, another $367.84 for a color monitor, and $420.39 for a Lexmark color printer.  Wow!!!  I also had to buy an 8-foot long table to put the stuff on.  The table is the only thing I still have from those days.
In the third issue of the "newspaper" I have an article about connecting to the Internet.  Some of the ways would require long-distance calls, which would be prohibitively expensive.  Other ways were very very slow.  In issue after issue I examined different ways to connect, I try them out for awhile, and I found them all to be too expensive - except for briefly accessing email accounts and certain discussion forums. 

Meanwhile, as all that was going on, I was writing screenplays and submitting them to agents and to contests. 

I didn't "publish" the newspaper anywhere except for producing one copy via my color printer for myself.  Between June of 1996 and December of 1997 I probably produced only about 20 issues, some only 1 page long.  But they show my thinking at the time.  And they show me as bumbling around.  The headline in the image above is "Ed Lake Goes Berserk!!!  Buys New Computer!!!"  The headlines and stories in the other issues were along that same line.  A headline dated August 1, 1996, says "ED LAKE ACCESSES INTERNET CIA FILES."  The story is about me finding a CIA file about Poland.  Another headline in that same issue is "Ed Lake Gets New E-Mail Address!"  The first two paragraphs are:
Ed Lake discontinued his use of American On-Line and Prodigy and signed up with a local on-line service provider, Wisconsin Net.  He can now be e-mailed at his new address: [a wi dot net address that is apparently still valid].

Ed said, "One of the first things I did was to send an e-mail message to the film critic, Roger Ebert, to advise him that I didn't agree with his negative review of 'Independence Day', and Roger Ebert e-mailed me right back saying, in effect, that he didn't give a shit.  So, I knew my e-mail worked!"
According to one source I found, the Internet began operating for the general public on April 30, 1993.  Another source says the same thing.  So, it was only 3 years later that I was prowling around and getting written about in newspapers and magazines for exposing fake photos I was finding on the Internet.  It was just a bit over a quarter-century ago.

Comments for Sunday, May 8, 2022, thru Sat., May 14, 2022:

May 11, 2022 -  While driving around doing some chores this afternoon, I finished listening to CD #18 in the 18-CD audio book version of "Mike Nichols: A Life" by Mark Harris.

Mike Nichols: A Life

I "borrowed" the audio book from my local library on April 14, 2021, back in the days when you could "borrow" a book when it became available and read (or listen to) it when you found the time.

I wasn't totally sure I wanted to listen to it, since I didn't really know that much about Mike Nichols, other than that he was once part of the terrific comedy team of "Nichols and May."  But that was enough to make me want to check it out.

The book, however, is not about the comedy team.  The team is barely mentioned, although Elaine May is frequently mentioned separately in the book as an actress, writer, director and friend of Mike Nichols.  The book, however, is primarily about Mike Nichols' career as a stage and movie director and producer.  And it seems he was one of the greatest, even though, like virtually every actor, director and producer, he did have an occasional flop.  His first try at movie directing was in 1966 with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf," which won 5 Oscars.  His last picture was "Charlie Wilson's War" in 2007.  While reading the book, I viewed some of the movies he directed, like "Regarding Henry" and "Working Girl," which I have on DVDs.  I also have "The Graduate," "Closer," "Catch 22" and some others, but I didn't have the time to watch those.  (I last watched them about 10 years ago.)

I started by just burning onto CDs the first 8 of the 18 MP3 files that comprise the audio book.  Then I burned 5 more, because I'd gotten interested.  Then I burned the last 5 when I was sure I wanted to hear it through to the end.  Nichols died in 2014.  He was born to Jewish parents in Berlin in 1931 as Igor Mikhail Peschkowsky and immigrated to the U.S. before WWII.   And, according to his biographer, "He had a childhood reaction to a vaccine that resulted in the loss of all of his hair and his inability to grow hair."  I would never have guessed that.  I also didn't know that Mike Nichols was married to broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer for the last 24 years of his life.  She was his 4th wife.

All in all, I can recommend the book.  It was listed as one of the top 10 books of 2021 by NPR, People and Time.

May 9, 2022
-  Shortly after lunch yesterday, I finished reading another book on my Kindle.  The book was "Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight" by Margaret Lazarus Dean.

Leaving Orbit

The book was published in May of 2015 and basically concludes around October of 2012 with the first flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, about a year after the last space shuttle flight, which was done by the space shuttle Atlantis in mid-July 2011. 

The author is an associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and she's also a writer, having previously written a science fiction novel in 2007.  That means she's not a scientist, and the book has a lot of extraneous detail that is better suited for a novel.  She is, however, a fan of the space shuttle program and witnessed many launches, plus the final return of Atlantis

The problem I had with the book is all the details about driving from Knoxville to Cocoa Beach, Florida, finding hotel or motel rooms, finding a good place to eat, standing in the crowds watching the launches and how people jockey for better views and bring their kids to see the launches.  And when the author managed to get press credentials because of her sci-fi novel, her Facebook page, and her friendship with a NASA employee, she got to see a lot of things that weren't open to the general public.

While it's an interesting book, it is also filled with the author's personal beliefs and opinions about women's rights, author Norman Mailer, and America's space program.   Here's a quote from the book:
NASA is partnering with private companies to get astronauts and cargo back and forth from the International Space Station, and NASA will now focus on long-range spaceflight. The same story we’ve been hearing all along, yet the Space Launch System is still underfunded and unpopular with many spaceflight advocates. In a best-case scenario, SLS won’t get astronauts back into space before 2021, and won’t get us any farther than we’ve already been until 2025 or later. This is tough to get excited about, especially when so many in Congress are eager to make a name for themselves by killing this relatively unambitious plan altogether.   
Getting astronauts into space via the SLS system has been delayed until August of 2022.  I haven't been paying much attention to the SLS, and I find that the various Mars Rover missions are totally fascinating, so I'm not sure if I should be as concerned as the book's author is or not.  Here's a pessimistic quote:
only twenty-three years after railroads replaced the wagon trains, the Wright brothers flew their first plane at Kitty Hawk. Only fifty-nine years after that, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. Seven years later, Neil and Buzz walked on the moon. Some of us do math in our heads, dismayed. How long will it be until we can add another leap?  
Here's another downbeat quote about using private companies to do our missions into space:
as long as spaceflight is run by a government agency, any American child can reasonably dream of flying in space one day. For many of them, that dream will shape their early lives in important and beneficial ways. If spaceflight belongs to private companies, space travel will be a privilege of the incredibly wealthy, and space-obsessed children will have no particular motivation to do their algebra homework or serve in the military, knowing that their only hope of earning a seat lies in getting rich.
And another:
since the beginning, it has been part of NASA’s mandate to make its projects available to the American public. This means that everything—images, films, discoveries, transcripts of crew chatter—belongs to all of us. Not so with SpaceX. As a private company, SpaceX can keep private whatever they want, and they do. Some of my online space friends have been indignant to learn that they can’t download specs and diagrams for Dragon and Falcon, as we have always been able to do for shuttle and other NASA spacecraft—the SpaceX designs are industry secrets. NASA makes moon rocks available to scientists all over the world for the asking, and they have let scientists send experiments to space on their spacecraft for very negotiable fees, often negotiated down to nothing. SpaceX is under no obligation to do anything of the kind, and I don’t expect they will.
She's probably right.  It gives the reader a lot to think about, but if you pick up her book thinking it will be an enjoyable read about astronauts and space flights, you will be disappointed to read so much about the negative aspects of letting private companies lead the way into space.

I can still recommend the book, even though it can be a depressing read. While depressing, it is also eye-opening.  But these days, "eye-opening" can be just another way of saying "alarming" and "sad."

May 8, 2022
Sigh.  I've finished week #1 of my 3-week cleanup project.  I've taken several bags of books to Goodwill, I've gone through my computer to see what files I should get rid of, I've backed up the things I know I need to keep, and I put them onto a flashdrive which I put in my safe deposit box, and I've done a lot of general housecleaning around my apartment.  But there are also a lot of things I postponed to do in weeks 2 and 3.

Going through my computer files, I found a lot of stuff from my days working on the anthrax case that I'd forgotten about.  For example, I found  that I have several CDs I received from the FBI after I filed Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get pictures and documents from them.  I also found the software CDs for Final Draft, the program I used to write screenplays a quarter century ago.  But they're for Windows 95, and I don't have any reason to even try to install the program on my current computer.

I also looked through some non-textbooks about Special Relativity to see if they contained a correct version of Einstein's Second Postulate.  The vast majority of college physics textbooks contain an incorrect version, but it seemed to me that if some author wrote a book about Special Relativity that was meant for the general public, he'd have to use the correct version of Einstein's Second Postulate.  If he didn't, editors, reviewers and readers would point out the error.  Wouldn't they? 

On the first page of his 1905 paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", Einstein clearly states his second postulate as:
light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the
emitting body.
So I searched through these 10 books that I hadn't classified as "textbooks" to see if they have correct versions of Einstein's Second Postulate:
1.  "Special Relativity" by A. P. French.
2.  "Special Relativity" by Benjamin Crowell.
3.  "Special Relativity" by Carl Ramirez
4.  "Special Relativity" by N. M. J. Woodhouse
5.  "Special Relativity" by T. M. Helliwell.
6.  "Special Relativity" by Valerio Faraoni.
7.  "Special Relativity - A First Encounter: 100 years since Einstein" by Domenico Giulini.
8.  "Special Relativity and Motions Faster than Light" by Moses Fayngold.
9.  "Special Relativity in General Frames: From Particles to Astrophysics" by Éric Gourgoulhon
10. "Special Theory of Relativity" by C. W. Kilmister.
#1 has this incorrect version of Einstein's Second Postulate on page 72:
The speed of light in empty space always has the same value c.
#2 correctly quotes Einstein on page 48.

#3 has this incorrect version of Einstein's Second Postulate around page 7:
The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c, is the same to all inertial observers, is the same in all directions, and does not depend on the velocity of the object emitting the light. Formally: the speed of light in free space is a constant in all inertial frames of reference.
#4 never uses the word "postulate."  It contains this on page 22 (with my highlighting in red):
Light travelling with speed c in one frame should have speed c + u in a frame moving towards the source of the light with speed uThus it should be possible for light to travel with any speed. Light that travels with speed c in a frame in which its source is at rest should have some other speed in a moving frame; so Galilean invariance would imply dependence of the
velocity of light on the motion of the source.
#5 has a somewhat okay second postulate on page 29:
The velocity of light does not depend upon the velocity of its source.
But it also has this nonsense on page 31:
Sound obeys Einstein's second postulate in only one special frame of reference, in which the observer is at rest in the air.

The crucial difference between sound and light is then immediately clear. Since there is no ether (which would correspond to the air in the case of sound), light has to obey the second postulate in all inertial frames. Without the ether there is no preferred frame to be chosen above any other. The velocity of light cannot depend on the source velocity regardless of the reference frame of the observer.

And it has this nonsense on page 32:
Therefore the velocity of light is independent of the observer's motion. It is the same in every inertial frame of reference. This is a revolutionary idea, unprecedented before Einstein. It took considerable nerve to write down postulates that had as a consequence that light always goes at the same velocity no matter how fast the observer is moving.
#6 has this incorrect version of Einstein's Second Postulate on page 14:
Constancy of the speed of light: The speed of light in vacuo has the same value c ≈ 3 · 108 m/s in all inertial frames, regardless of the velocity of the observer or the source.
#7 quotes Einstein's Second Postulate correctly on page 41, but it has this nonsense on page 3:
the velocity of light measured by an observer is independent of
the state of motion of either the source or the observer.
#8 has no version of Einstein's Second Postulate but discusses the Sagnac experiment on page 133, and says that the speed of light seems different under some circumstances (with my highlighting):
Now, I did perform the experiment and I see that when there is no rotation, the photons that were emitted simultaneously in the two opposite directions return simultaneously. I accordingly
interpret this as another confirmation of Einstein’s postulate about the constancy of the speed of light. However, when I repeat the experiment during rotation of the disk, the photons do not return simultaneously. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the speed of light in a rotating system is different in different directions. And this must be true not only for the average speed, but also for local speed in any location.”
#9 has this nonsense on page 121:
The velocity of light as measured by any observer at a point of his worldline has a norm always equal to the constant c.
#10 quotes Einstein correctly on page 188, but it is very difficult to find anything else about the Second Postulate in the rest of the book.

So, while just 3 of the 10 books contained an "incorrect" version of Einstein's Second Postulate, only 3 have correct versions, 1 is somewhat correct, 2 do not mention Einstein's Second Postulate at all, and the remaining 1 and some of the others require a lot of deciphering to understand.  What this exercise tells me is that I need to get back to work on my book "Logical Relativity" as soon as I can.  It explains Relativity in very simple and easy-to-understand terms.  However, it has also become more clear than ever before that the main reason I'm writing my book is to clarify my thinking about a subject that countless others have already tried to explain in their own terms based upon their own beliefs.  I can't hope to change any minds, but maybe I can generate some interesting discussions.

Comments for Sunday, May 1, 2022, thru Sat., May 7, 2022:

May 1, 2022
- Groan!  I'm really getting bogged down!  For the next three weeks, I may be writing fewer comments here, because I'll be busy on other things which have a higher priority  and need to be done before mid-May.  Plus, that recent discussion I had on the sci.physics.relativity forum about "Stationary Points in Space" posed some questions I needed to research.

That discussion is still going on.  For what may be the first time ever, there are people on that forum who are supporting things I've said. 

Last Wednesday, I had a couple arguments with someone who calls himself "Odds Bodkin."  In the first argument, I had quoted a passage to him from the textbook
"University Physics with Modern Physics - 14th ed." by Hugh D. Young & Roger A. Freedman, which I said was ranked #3 among the top physics textbooks.  Odds Bodkin then claimed:
It might amuse you that Young and Freedman is not one of the top 3 physics textbooks by ANY measure. Whatever gave you the idea that it was?
Whereupon I responded by providing him with links to 3 websites which rank physics textbooks and include that book.  I wrote:
It's number 3 on this list:
It's number 7 on this list:
It's number 1 on this list:
When I combined the various lists, it seems to fit in position #3. 
Odds Bodkin's response was a rant that those were "blog" sites and just one person's opinion, and they didn't mean anything.  So, of course, I asked him to provide a list of the top ten physics textbooks.  And, of course, he just ignored my request. 

As part of another argument, he claimed that all college textbooks disagree with me about everything.  I responded that there were some that agreed with me on certain things.  I told him that I had a collection of over 100 college textbooks, but at that moment I didn't have the time to hunt through them to find the ones that agreed with me.

Odds Bodkin's response was:
A hundred TEXTBOOKS? I’d like a listing of the first 30 please.
Note that Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos is not a textbook. Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is not a textbook.
So, I provided him with a list of over 70 textbooks that I have.  His response was (with my highlighting):
OK, so let’s have a small moment of truth-telling here, Ed. You have provided a listing of 70 books, but you fell short of claiming that these are actually in your possession. I would have doubts without a link to a photo of your bookshelf showing all of these. I can explain why I have doubts. About 40 of the titles you list below are first-year introductory physics books. None of those are available in PDF except illegally or at costs close to print books, and they do not render at all well on Kindle (and in fact are not available as official Kindle editions). You also cite multiple editions of the same textbook, which is a lot to pay for essentially the same content (what changes from edition to edition is mostly the end-of-chapter problems and worked examples, which you do not care about). The average storefront (online or bricks-and-mortar store) price for each those introductory books ranges from $100 to $125. This means that if indeed you had those 40 first-year textbooks on your shelf, you’d have spent $4000 - $5000 on them, since the onset of your interest in physics a couple years ago.
By the time he posted that comment, I had already quit the thread.  But "The Starmaker" responded to Odds Bodkin with this comment:
It turns out that I have 152 books in .pdf format, 11 books in .epub format (which my computer can read to me, if I want), and 2 books in .mobi format which I can theoretically read on my Kindle. I also see that only 31 of the 152 books in .pdf format are non-searchable (I'll explain later why that is important).
To which Odds Bodkin replied (with my highlighting):
Kindle-native ebooks are trade books, usually, not textbooks. Free PDFs are usually crap books self-published and posted for attention by loons.
I have no doubt he has lots of books that he can listen to in audio format. For obvious reasons, those will not be physics textbooks.
Odds Bodkin continued to argue that textbooks simply cannot be in PDF format. 

Then Paparios posted this:

There are a few legal sites to look for books and articles. One of them is, which has books for download or borrowing. Using the search word "relativity" there are 26,548 books and articles listed (for instance see for Lectures on General Theory of Relativity from Emil T. Akhmedov).

Of course, there are some russian sites that have everything, like the book Gravitation in
And "The Starmaker" responded with this:
Here is one of many sites
There are seven more messages in the thread after that, but none from Odds Bodkin, of course, and none with additional links to sites where books are available in PDF format.  They are all just arguments over words and terminology.

I was tempted to rejoin the discussion and mention Project Gutenberg where you can find over 60,000 books for which the copyrights have expired, including just about everything by Albert Einstein, Jules Verne and Phillip K. Dick.  But, I had too many other things to do.  One of them turned out to be to look through, since I didn't recall ever visiting that site before.  I ended up downloading several books about the physics of spaceflight that I didn't have in my collection.  Reading them will be another thing on my "to-do" list.  I only need about thirty or forty years to finish the things that are currently on that list, but, of course, in thirty or forty years the list will probably be much much longer with new stuff. 

© 2022 by Ed Lake