Archive for
January 2023

Comments for Sunday, January 22, 2023, thru Tues., Jan. 31, 2023:

January 29, 2023 - I've got about 88 podcasts on my on-line "List of Interesting Podcasts."  In my computer I also have a longer list of 144 podcasts which I also use to make notes about the various podcasts that I've checked out.  What I'm trying to do is organize things so that I just download and listen to the podcasts that are most interesting to me.  The problem is, while there are five or six podcasts that I want to listen to every episode, there are dozens where only one in three episodes or one in five or one in ten or one in fifteen are of interest to me.  And there are lots of episodes which seem like they might be of interest, but I have to listen to parts of them to see if they are truly of interest.

Another problem is that they frequently advertise some other podcast on the podcast I'm listening to.  If I've never heard of the advertised podcast before and it seems interesting, I'll have to check it out.  Fortunately, that isn't happening very often anymore.
One of my current "top ten" podcasts is "Making Sense with Sam Harris."  Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author.  As of this moment, he's produced 327 episodes.  A couple days ago, I downloaded about 30 Making Sense podcasts into my MP3 player and started listening to them.  Most were recent episodes, but some were from years ago.  Most are about 45 minutes long. (They are all trimmed versions of the full length podcasts, which you have to pay to listen to.)  One was episode #51 from November 10, 2016.  It's titled "The Most Powerful Clown," and it's about the prospects of having a total idiot like Trump as President.  I also listened to most of episodes #54 and #65, which are also about Trump. 
Episode #87, however, is the most mind-blowing episode about Trump.  It's an interview with Scott Adams, who is an author and cartoonist best known for his Dilbert cartoons.  He's also a staunch Trump supporter, and his reasoning is just plain crazy.  He sees the art of persuasion as being Trump's biggest talent, and he sees lying as being totally acceptable when persuading people.  The goal is to persuade people, and once you do that successfully, you can then go back and make corrections to the facts if want to.  It doesn't make any difference, since you have accomplished the task you set out to do.  I'd like to transcribe that entire podcast as an incredible example how how some (possibly many) Trump supporters think.  I would never have believed it if I hadn't heard it.

Episode #66 is titled "Living with Robots."  I found it absolutely fascinating.  The same with episode #72, which is titled "Privacy and Security."  The blurb for that episode reads as follows:
Sam Harris speaks with General Michael V. Hayden about the reality of spying, the difference between the NSA and the CIA, the ethics of secrecy, Edward Snowden, the Russian Hacking of the 2016 US Presidential election, and other topics.
I've still got 17 episodes in my MP3 player that I haven't yet listened to, including some more recent episodes that look absolutely fascinating.  When I finish them, I'll have listened to all or parts of just 45 of the 327 episodes.  Then I'll have to decide if I should download some more, or if I should listen to some of the other 87 podcasts on my short list.

Meanwhile, I bumped "Making Sense with Sam Harris" up from #8 to #6 on my Top 10 list.

January 26, 2023
- I used to be a systems analyst.  I began as a computer programmer, then became a systems analyst, and finally ended up as head of systems departments.  When I watch and listen to the news these days - with all the stories about misplaced confidential, secret and top-secret documents - I see a "systems problem."  Unfortunately, the news stories don't tell me enough to fully analyze the problem.

It could be something as simple as failing to put documents back into a FOLDER that is marked "Confidential," "Secret" or "Top Secret."  Only Donald Trump seems to have deliberately taken the FOLDERS home.  The others seem to have just mistakenly taken home documents that were from such folders.  The individual documents may only have had a file number such as TS1234 in the heading, indicating it is from a "Top Secret" folder.  The proper handling of such documents requires a lecture from an expert who must explain to the President or Vice-President how to properly handle such documents.  But such lectures might seem demeaning and therefore are not done properly - if at all.

One thing seems certain: From this point onward, most people with access to such documents are going to be more careful.

The other item that is all over the news these says is Congressman George Santos.  I find it totally unbelievable that people could elect such a person to Congress.  It's another "system problem" that allows such things to happen.  But, the problem is well known: Republicans do not want anyone telling them who they can and cannot elect.  They seem to think emotionally, not logically.  There is no other explanation for why they would elect someone like Donald Trump or George Santos or so many others.  They simply like the candidate.  He (or she) tells them what they want to hear.  There is no other reason necessary.  Any claim that the candidate is an idiot or a crook is just an opinion from "the other side" and therefore has no value and can be ignored ..... until the politician is arrested, tried, found guilty, and locked up.  And even that may still not be enough to convince some people that they were wrong in believing and supporting such politicians.

There was something "positive" this morning.  SEVEN different people accessed and read my science papers on "The Reality of Time Dilation" and "Variable Time and the Variable Speed of Light."  Four people accessed and read my paper on "Simplifying Einstein's Thought Experiments."  And one or two people accessed and read each of my other ten papers.  There may have been others, but those were the ones with "unique IP addresses" who accessed the papers for their first time.  I have no clue what prompted the reads, and, of course, if any of the readers sent me an email about anything, they would have sent it to the address on the papers - detect at outlook dot com - which I am still unable to access. 

So, even good news can come with a coating of frustration.

January 23, 2023
- Hmm.  I think I'm going through some kind of "transition."  This morning, after completing my regular morning chores (which take about an hour), I turned off my computer and sat down to listen to some podcasts.  But I found I wasn't really interested in listening to any of the podcasts still in my listening queue.  I'm up-to-date on my favorite podcasts, and the only stuff still in my listening queue are some celebrity interview shows, some science shows where they do a lot of yak yak gabbing before they get around to actually discussing science, and a couple podcasts that I've never listened to before.  However, when downloading sample episodes of those new podcasts, I had to listen to brief bits of the beginnings and ends of the shows, so I got some idea of what they are going to be like.  They might be somewhat interesting, but they are definitely not unique or attention-grabbing.
I do have some episodes of the American Scandal podcast that I want to listen to.  However, they consist of a 4-episode series about Edward Snowden and a 5-episode series about "The Breakup of Big Oil," which tells the story of how Standard Oil tried to create a monopoly back around 1900.  I want to listen to both series, but they're so long it's like listening to audio books.  I might burn them onto CDs and listen to them while driving, but the episodes are slightly over 40 minutes, which means they only take about half a CD, but they are too big to put 2 episodes on one CD -- unless I go through the process of trimming the commercials off of the front of the podcasts.  So, what I'm doing instead is just sitting around wondering what I should be doing.

In other words, I think I'm in a period of "transition."  Hopefully, I'm transitioning into a phase where I want to work on writing a book.

January 22, 2023
- I keep trying to whittle my podcast-listening down to something manageable, so that I'll have the time to work on a book.  But when listening to podcasts, they often advertise other podcasts that I've never heard of before.  That happened several times last week, and two new podcasts made me really curious.  So, I had to check them out.

The first was titled "Strange Planet" or "Richard Syrett's Strange Planet." I listened to episode #840 which is titled "Political Intrigue in America."  Here's the blurb about Richard Syrett's guest for the episode:
Joel Skousen is the publisher of the World Affairs Brief, a weekly news analysis service found at Mr. Skousen is a political scientist by training and speaks multiple foreign languages which he uses in accessing information here and abroad. He specializes in helping readers understand the hidden agenda of those that secretly control both political parties and the US government.
It's a fascinating episode because it has two conspiracy theorists talking to each other as if their crazy conspiracies make total sense to them because everyone they know routinely accepts them and believes them.  The term "deep state" is probably mentioned a dozen times. The episode is 55 minutes long. I hunted for a transcript, but couldn't find any.  So, if I ever need to quote from it, I'll have to do the transcribing myself.

The other new podcast I checked out is titled "One Strange Thing."  I selected and listened to a half dozen episodes, each between 20 and 35 minutes in length.  The first episode I listened to was titled "The Artifacts" which has this description:
Throughout the history of conventional archeology, artifacts have been found that seem to defy what we know about what we know. Did the Maine Penny, the Shroud of Turin, and the Antikythera Mechanism simply evade our previous understandings of what ancient societies were doing, and where, and when — or is there a case to be made for otherworldly intervention?  
I couldn't remember ever hearing of "the Maine Penny" before.  Wikipedia has a page about it that says it was probably minted between 1065 and 1080 AD, and it is believed it was brought to America by Norse sailors a couple hundred years before Columbus "discovered" America.

Another episode, titled "The Incident" is about a UFO encounter in Texas in 1980 which resulted in injuries to two middle-aged women and a young boy.  The episode titled "The Saucer" is about a UFO sighting by a Socorro, New Mexico, police officer in April 1964.  What made the episodes so interesting to me is that they were basically just summaries of news reports, with no attempts to create new theories about them.

The podcast episode I found most fascinating during the past week was from the "You Are Not So Smart" podcast.  It was episode #242, which is titled "Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires."  It's an interview with Douglas Rushkoff, who wrote a book with that title, "inspired by his invitation to consult a group of the world’s richest people on how to spend their money now to survive an apocalypse they fear is coming within their lifetimes."  The interview was so fascinating that I put the book at the top of my "must read" list.  If you think that Internet conspiracy theorists are interesting nut jobs, you need to check out what super-rich conspiracy theorists are doing to protect themselves, like building elaborate underground bunkers in Alaska and New Zealand (where global warming will be minimized) and trying to create self-sustaining "farms" where they can survive forever without any contact with the outside world.  Rushkoff calls them "Preppers," because they are obsessed with preparing for "the coming apocalypse."  Fascinating stuff.

Comments for Sunday, January 15, 2023, thru Sat., Jan. 21, 2023:

January 18, 2023 - While eating lunch this afternoon, I finished reading another library book on my Kindle.  The book was "Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood" by Mark Harris.

Pictures at a revolution

I "borrowed" the book from my local library four or five years ago, back when they would download it into my Kindle and there was no procedure for removing or "returning" it.  I may have started reading it back then, too.  But then some other book would come along that interested me more, so I'd set this book aside and read the new one.  Eventually, I'd get back to reading this one.  I probably read 30 other books between the time I started reading this one and finished it.

Nevertheless, it's a very interesting book about the making of 5 movies back in the mid-1960s:
1. Bonnie and Clyde
2. Dr. Dolittle
3. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

4. The Graduate
5. In the Heat of the Night
Except for "Dr. Dolittle, which was a musical fantasy and a major disaster, the other four movies were very successful and represented the changing times that were the 1960s.  They were risky undertakings, since they were about criminal violence (#1), sex out of wedlock (#4) and race relations (#3 and #5).  The book is about the making of those five movies and all the infighting that took place as they tried to figure out if the movies would make money, bankrupt the backers, or start riots.

The only one that lost money was the one that was "traditional" and non-controversial - Dr. Dolittle, which was also by far the most expensive movie of those five to make.  It's also the only one of the five that I didn't like. 

January 17, 2023
- I'm still trying to find a way to access my detect at outlook dot com emails.  A few days ago, someone sent me a link to a web page titled "11 Ways to Contact Microsoft."  Some of the 11 ways don't apply to me, since I do I use Twitter or some of the other options they mention. 
I also seem to be one of the last humans on Earth who does not have a "smart phone," which another option requires, and I cannot answer a basic question required by another option: I cannot tell them who I recently sent emails to via my detect at outlook dot com account.  I rarely used that account for sending emails, only for receiving emails, and I haven't sent any emails "recently" because I haven't been able to access the account since August.  The only reason I want to access my emails for detect at outlook dot com is because it's the address that is at the top of all of  my science papers.  I suppose I could simply change the email address on all of my science papers, but that creates a whole new set of problems.

Or maybe I need to write a science "fiction" story about a guy in a life-or-death situation who needs to contact a major corporation that only uses robots to respond to outsiders, and the guy's situation is one that none of the robots has been programmed to understand.

But before I can write that story, I need to figure out an ending for it.

January 15, 2023
- The reason I haven't posted any new comments here since January 9th seems to be because I seem to be going through a period of "self discovery."  In my January 9 comment I wrote about how, when listening to podcasts, I was trying to get out of a "process of discovery" and into "a regular routine."  I should have realized that that was wrong, since the "process of discovery" is what I like best, and I have no interest in developing any new "regular routine."  What I was really trying to do was turn "the process of discovery" into my "regular routine."

When I sit down to listen to podcasts, I always have a 5" x 7" yellow pad next to me, on which I make notes.  I make notes on whether I like or do not like a podcast, and what I like or do not like about it.  And, if a podcast has some interesting new information, I'll make notes about that, too.

I'm trying to determine which podcasts are worth my listening time.  And, while doing that, I'm also learning new things.  For example, in episode #868 of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, they talk about how if gravity is 1.5 Gs on a planet, you cannot use chemical rockets to leave the planet.  Chemical rockets simply do not provide enough power to overcome that much gravity.  That's not a problem of any immediate concern, but I found it interesting that we just happen to live on a planet where chemical rockets work.  On that same episode they also mentioned that the current plan is to destroy the International Space Station (ISS) in 2031 by crashing it into an ocean.  It will be worn out by then.  They also expect that all new American space stations will be built by private industry, like Space-X and Blue Origin.  NASA's money will be spent on exploration.

The main problem I have with The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is that the episodes are close to 2 hours long, and if an episode doesn't contain anything of real interest to me in the first 20 minutes, I'll probably just turn it off, and I'll never get back to it because there are just too many other podcast shows to listen to.

I listen to podcasts when I have nothing better to do, and I also read non-fiction books on my Kindle during breakfast and lunch.  I make notes on those, too, by underling passages and copying the underlined passages to a WORD file when I'm done with the book.   I underline passages that contain information I never knew before, and details that are worth remembering.  It's a more common form of "learning" than listening to podcasts.

And there's a third method of learning:  I watch science shows on TV.  I record them on my DVR so that I can watch them when I have the time.  That way, I can watch a 10 to 20 minute section when I have the time, and another 10 to  20 minute section when I have more time.  And, in the past, instead of making notes, I would burn a DVD that contains the entire program, so that I can watch it again any time I want to.  The only problem with that process is that I do not remember things I watch as well as I remember things I write down.  As a result, I have a lot of DVDs that contain stuff I've totally forgotten about.

I stopped recording things on DVDs a couple years ago when the remote control for the recorder went on the fritz.  The last DVD I burned is dated April 19, 2020, and it contains an episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which are apparently the first episodes they recorded from home when the COVID outbreak prevented them for working in a studio with an audience. That DVD is on the top of a stack of 50 DVDs that contain episodes of all kinds of science and history shows that I can only vaguely remember, such as the 2008 mini-series "When We Left Earth," Morgan Freeman's show "Through The Wormhole" which ran from 2010 to 2017, "History Detectives" from 2003 or so, and "Star Talk" from around 2015.

Evidently, my plan was to record those shows so that I could watch them again some day.  The problem is: I have no written record of those shows.  I have a 3-ring binder with a printed list of movies and TV shows I have on DVD, but those science shows aren't on any list.  Hmm.  I just noticed I also burned some Sonny and Cher shows on DVDs.  And in another batch of about 50 DVDS that I put into "crystal cases" but didn't catalog, I see that in 2007 I burned 7 DVDs containing all 7 episodes of "The War."  It's Ken Burns' TV series about World War II.

One thing seems certain: I'm never going to run out of things to do.

Comments for Sunday, January 8, 2023, thru Sat., Jan. 14, 2023:

January 9, 2023 - I'm still trying to turn listening to podcasts into a regular routine, instead of a process of discovery.  If it was a regular routine, I would just download episodes of my favorite podcasts once per week, and then I'd listen to them when I had nothing better to do.  But it's still a process of discovery, which means I'm still discovering new podcasts and I'm still digging through recently discovered podcasts for episodes that seem really interesting.

For example, I'm still digging through the You're Wrong About podcast to find interesting stuff.  Yesterday, I listened to an episode about The Stockholm Syndrome.  The term refers to a bank robbery in Stockholm where the hostages in the bank took sides with the robbers when the police showed up.  The hostages were more afraid of the police coming in and randomly shooting people than they were of the bank robbers shooting them.  The bank robbers seemed like normal people caught in a dangerous situation, and the hostages could sympathize with that.  The movie "Dog Day Afternoon" is about a similar situation.  And Patty Hearst, granddaughter of billionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst, became famous when she joined with the bank robbers in another example of the Stockholm Syndrome.

Patty Hearst

I also listened to an episode about The Donner Party.  Like the episode about Flight 571 that I mentioned in a previous comment, it's about people resorting to cannibalism to stay alive.  This time it's a wagon train that gets stuck in the Rocky Mountains in the winter of 1846-47.  The podcast is totally fascinating when it really gets into details I've never heard before.  I have a half dozen more episodes I want to listen to before I turn to just checking for interesting recent episodes.

This morning, someone sent me an email that mentioned another podcast that I thought I had never heard of before.  It's called "The Moth."  It's evidently been around for over 25 years, which means it was a radio show before it also became a podcast.  The episode mentioned in the email was from 2012 and was a 20 minute talk by Dr. George Lombardi, who was hustled off to India around 1990 to save the life of Mother Teresa.  It's a fascinating and funny story that seems like a comedy routine, but it is totally real.  I knew I'd heard some details before, and when I researched it, I found that the same guy sent me the same link back around February 18, 2019.  I still wish I could download and save it as an MP3 file, but I haven't yet found a way to do that.  I can only listen to it on my computer.  This time, however, I also downloaded 6 recent episodes of The Moth into my MP3 player, just to see if any are even remotely as fascinating as that Mother Teresa episode. 
(None of them were.) 

January 8, 2023
- When I get four or more people accessing one of my science papers for the first time in one day, I have to assume that they are discussing that paper or all of my papers
on some forum somewhere.  Lately that has been happening fairly often.  On January 4, there were four first-time accesses to my paper Radar Guns vs Wave Theory. And on January 6 there were four more.  On Christmas, there were five first-time accesses to my paper The Reality of Time Dilation.  Three days later, on the 28th, there were nine first-time accesses.  And on the 4th of January there were four more first-time accesses.

Meanwhile, around this same time, there has been a small surge in people joining my Facebook group about Time and Time Dilation.  The group now has 242 members.  Here's a list of the ten who joined most recently:

                      members to my Facebook group

Their names indicate to me that most are probably in India.  Yang Ne is probably in China.  The people on this list may have nothing to do with the people who recently accessed my papers, but the fact that they joined my Facebook group says that they all speak English, which means they also could have read my papers.  But no one has posted anything to my Facebook group since June of 2022.

I suppose its also possible that they might be sending me messages to my detect at outlook dot com email address, which I lost access to when my computer was trashed last September.  Sigh.  I'm going to have to try again to find some way to regain access to that mailbox.

Comments for Sunday, January 1, 2023, thru Sat., Jan. 7, 2023:

January 4, 2023 - While eating breakfast this morning, I finished reading another book on my Kindle.  The book was "Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything" by Kelly Weill.
Off the Edge

The book is very interesting and contains just about everything anyone would want to know about Flat Earthers.  Before the time of Columbus and Magellan, of course, most people believed the earth was flat.  But in the past hundred years or so the idea has gained a new kind of believer in almost every country on earth.  In 1914, Zion, Illinois, was a center for Flat Earthers.  The theory was taught in school and preached in churches.  Here's a quote from the book:
A planned community on the shore of Lake Michigan, Zion was established with lofty ideals of moral righteousness and self-sufficiency. Unlike Manea Fen’s short-lived commune of marriage-scorning, laughing- gas-huffing British socialists, however, Zion operated with ruthless puritanical efficiency. And rather than implode after a few short years, Zion operated for decades under a genuine Flat Earth dictatorship.
Flat Earthers seem to be growing in number these days because social media is a great way for them to spread their message and get fellow members.  Some Flat Earthers have been killed as they tried to prove their beliefs by sending themselves up into the atmosphere in rockets.

I've got 6 pages of quotes from the book.  Here's one that really surprised me (I remember the event, but not the motive):

In Wisconsin, a pharmacist accused of deliberately damaging COVID-19 vaccines (which he believed were harmful) was revealed to be a Flat Earther, who believed the sky is a “shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God,” according to an FBI agent’s testimony.
Here's a quote that provides a good example of how they think:
Though many are dismissive of gravity as a concept, some claim that the planet is constantly accelerating upward, while others disagree and claim that the only reason we don’t drift off the ground like escaped party balloons is because humans are heavier than air.
In short, conspiracy theories help us feel safe by providing an explanation for things that feel incomprehensible and beyond our control.
And one final quote:
Belief in conspiracy theories is a unifying feature of extremist groups of every political and religious stripe. “The frequency of conspiracy theories within all these groups suggests that they play an important social and functional role within extremism itself,” wrote the authors of a 2010 study. Conspiracy theories “hold extremist groups together and push them in a more extreme and sometimes violent direction.” Perhaps it was only natural, then, that some Hitler apologists and open antisemites would turn to one of the world’s most extreme conspiracy theories to infuse their movements with new urgency. This fusion means that Flat Earth Nazis are, unfortunately, real.
"Off the Edge" is a very interesting and timely book, and I highly recommend it.
January 3, 2023
- I don't know if I want to make any New Year's Resolutions or not.  I think not.  If I make a New Year's Resolution to continue work on my book about "Logical Relativity," it might just be a waste of time if I'm not ready to work on that book again.  I may just read the Introduction over and over again until I figure out the best way to explain everything.

2022 was a disastrous year for me.  I'm still trying to recover from having my old computer almost destroyed.  It still "works," but a lot of files were destroyed, including the copy of WORD I had on that device.  While I had everything else backed up, my new computer has a different version of the Windows operating system, and it doesn't have the amount of memory that my old computer has.  And my old computer had a lot of passwords programmed to work automatically.  I had most of the passwords also written down, but not all.

I can no longer access my emails from detect at outlook dot com.  For years and years I had an application that accessed those emails, and I apparently never wrote down the actual password I used.  I've got several passwords written down for that application, but none work.  I've tried to get Microsoft to let me get back into those emails, but their robots just lead me in circles and nothing gets resolved.  I almost never used that email address to send emails, I only used to to receive emails.  It's the email address that I put at the top of all my science papers.  I also used it when accessing some discussion forums, and for years it was at the top of this web site.  When I had access to incoming emails from that address, 99.999% of them were just ads and garbage.  That may still be the case, but I can't be certain without having access to them.  I need a plan.

I also can no longer access my science papers on  If I could, I'd probably delete them all.  A lot of them are old versions of the papers I have on, but doesn't let you upload new versions of papers.  All the papers posted there are supposed to be the "final" published version.

But, what I'm mostly doing these days is listening to podcasts.  I listened to a very interesting podcast the other day that made a good case for cannibalism.  It was on the You're Wrong About podcast.  The episode was about Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed in the Andes Mountains on October 13, 1972.  Of the 45 people on board, only 16 survived. Their survival made them heroes, until the world found out HOW they survived.  Their story is told in an absolutely fascinating way, and the end result is an analysis of whether staying alive is socially acceptable if you have to resort to cannibalism to do it.  (The survivors of the crash didn't kill anyone.  They were surrounded by dead bodies.)  I'd heard about that crash before, but never in such a fascinating way.

January 1, 2023
- I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

© 2023 by Ed Lake