Archive for
April 2023

Comments for Sunday, April 23, 2023, thru Sun., Apr. 30, 2023:

April 30, 2023 - Hmmm.  I'm having a very difficult time thinking of something to write about for this Sunday comment.  I'm still spending a lot of time almost every day listening to podcasts.  I should probably try switching to reading books instead.  But, every day, one of my morning chores is to see what new podcast episodes are available.  And if any of them look interesting, I download them onto a hard drive.  Then, when I've finished listening to all the podcasts I have stored in my MP3 player, I download a new batch from the hard drive.  So, if I stop listening to podcasts on my MP3 player, I'll be building up a big backlog on my hard drive.

But, I can't really complain about having so many things I want to do and so few hours in a day in which to do them.  

April 25, 2023
- Yesterday afternoon, while driving home from the gym, I finished listening to CD #5 in the 5-CD set for "Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches" by John Hodgman
I recall Hodgman from his many appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  His humor is rather droll, but very enjoyable. 

The book is a memoir mostly of Hodgman's early life living in the state of Massachusetts and spending summers in Maine, which was his family's "vacationland" at that time.  The way Hodgman describes Maine makes it seem horrific.  The ocean beaches evidently consist of nothing but sharp rocks and the inland lakes are described this way:
And the bottom of every lake is a Lovecraftian hellscape. If you ever go snorkeling in your father-in-law’s lake in Maine, you will see for yourself that it is all ooze and muck and fallen trees and sunken demonic cities of impossible geometries. That last part is not true, but this is: you will see huge freshwater clams, and you will scream underwater.
Since I listened to the audio book while driving around in my car, I didn't have any capability to make notes.  It seems that Hodgman is a Yale graduate and lives a very enjoyable and productive life, but he describes it all the way a grumpy old man would.  Hodgeman has written several other books, which I am now tempted to read.  While I can recommend "Vacationland," I think that if I could do things over again, I would read it on my Kindle or in paperback instead of listening to it as an audio book.  

April 24, 2023
- Hmm.  Yesterday, 5 different people using 5 different computers viewed my paper on "Variable Time and the Variable Speed of Light."  That's the largest number of views since January 26th, when 7 different people viewed that paper on a single day.  Normally the number is 1 or 2 on a given day, with zero being the most common number of views per day.  The weekly average seems to be less than 5.

I tend to assume that the surge in views resulted from yesterday's comment on this site, but yesterday's comment makes no mention of any of my 13 different science papers.  It's mostly about math podcasts.

Here's the first paragraph in the most recent version of my paper on "Variable Time and the Variable Speed of Light":
The fact that the speed of light is variable is demonstrated almost every day. No matter where you measure the speed of light, if you measure it correctly, you will get a result of 299,792,458 meters per second. Does this mean that the speed of light is the same everywhere? No. It means the speed of light per second is the same everywhere. And, according to Einstein’s Theories of Special and General Relativity, the length of a second can be different almost everywhere. That means that if you measure the speed of light to be 299,792,458 meters per second in one location, and if you also measure it to be 299,792,458 meters per second in another location, if the length of a second is different at those two locations, then the speed of light is also different.
I can see why any science paper that begins that way could attract a lot of readers, but that version of my paper has been on-line since August 17, 2018.  Somewhere some group of people must have discussed it, resulting in 5 from that group accessing my paper for the first time on the same day. only keeps track of "unique-IP downloads."  So, if someone from that group would access the paper again (or any of its 5 previous versions), it would not register as a new "download."

There have been 90
"unique-IP downloads" so far this year for that paper, which is roughly 25 per month.  It just stirs my curiosity when there are a bunch of readers in one  day.  What are they saying about the paper?  I'll probably never know. 

April 23, 2023
- In my previous comment dated April 17, I wrote about switching from listening to audio books back to listening to podcasts once again.  Yesterday, I tried making another switch.  I wanted to get back to working on my book about "Logical Relativity."  It's been over a year since I last worked on it.

So, I studied the first Introduction I wrote for the book, and then I studied the second introduction I wrote when I decided I didn't like the first one.  The first introduction was about how I decided to write the book because of all the arguments I had about Relativity on the Internet.  The second Introduction was all about how I decided to write the book because it seemed that no two college physics textbooks quoted Einstein's Second Postulate the same way.  They all distorted the Second Postulate to fit how the textbook's author understood Relativity and Time Dilation.  They all understood (or misunderstood) it differently.

Looking over both Introductions, I decided that I should probably just explain Relativity first, and then later in the book I can get into all the different interpretations and arguments - particularly the arguments with Quantum Mechanics.

In all the science books I've been reading and listening to, and in the hundreds of science podcasts I've been listening to, it's extremely rare to read or hear anything that I disagree with.  If I want to find things I disagree with, all I have to do is pick up a physics textbook or visit some on-line discussion like those at sci.physics.relativity.  They are sources where you can find endless conflicts between scientists and mathematician physicists.

As I was writing this, I wondered if there were any podcasts about mathematics.  So I did a Google search for "math podcasts" and found that nearly all such podcasts are simply about doing math and solving mathematics problems.  They were of no interest to me.

However, I also found a link to a web page titled "16 Interesting Math Podcasts for Curious Minds."  It was mostly more of the same, except for 1 of those 16 which was titled "The Universe Speaks In Numbers," which can also be found HERE.  When I researched that podcast, I found there are only 25 episodes in the podcast, and the last episode was created on April 2, 2020, 3 years ago.  So, the podcast appears to have been abandoned.  But it still looked interesting, so I downloaded 5 sample episodes.  And yesterday afternoon I listened to them.

To my surprise, they were actually fairly interesting.  But more importantly, they also mentioned a book titled "The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Math Reveals Nature's Deepest Secrets" by Graham Farmelo.  It looked interesting, so I obtained a copy for my Kindle and started reading it.  Here's a quote from early in the book:
The very fact that underneath the diversity and complexity of the universe is a relatively simple order was, in Einstein’s view, nothing short of a ‘miracle, or an eternal mystery’. Mathematics has furnished an incomparably precise way of expressing this underlying order. Physicists and their predecessors have been able to discover universal laws—set out in mathematical language—that apply not only here and now on Earth but to everything everywhere, from the beginning of time to the furthest future.
As Einstein often pointed out, quantum mechanics and the basic theory of relativity are devilishly difficult to meld. Physicists were eventually able to combine them into a theory that made impressively successful predictions, in one case agreeing with the corresponding experimental measurement to eleven decimal places. Nature seemed to be telling us loud and clear that it wanted both theories to be respected. Today’s theoretical physicists are building on that success, insisting that every new theory that aspires to be universal must be consistent with both basic relativity and quantum mechanics.
I fully realize that I'm ignoring my primary objective, which is to get back to work on my own book.  But I can justify it by arguing that it is research for my book.  I'm just arguing with myself, of course, so how can that be a waste of time?

Comments for Sunday, April 16, 2023, thru Sat., Apr. 22, 2023:

April 17, 2023 - I've switched back to listening to podcasts for awhile.  Every morning I go through my directory of 51 podcasts to see if they contain any new episodes that might be of interest to me.  If so, I download the episode into my 2-terrabyte auxiliary hard drive.  When I run out of podcasts on my MP3 player, I download a new batch of them from the hard-drive.  It can take me a week or more to go through all the podcasts I download.

A few days ago, I listened to the CIA's latest podcast from "The Langley Files."  It was a very interesting 38 minute episode about how intelligence gathering and analysis works.

on the Lex Fridman podcast, I listened to part of a terrific discussion about Donald Trump.  The episode is over 4½ hours long, but the first two hours were just plain terrific.  It was a discussion between Lex Fridman and Sam Harris, but for those first 2 hours, it was mostly Sam Harris talking.  Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and five-time New York Times best-selling author who has his own podcast.  After a break to eat lunch, I listened to another 45 minutes of the show, but it was mostly Fridman disagreeing with Harris, and I lost interest.

Yesterday, I listened to two terrific episodes of Big Picture Science, one of my favorite podcasts.  The first episode I listened to was titled "Calling All Aliens."  It was 55 minutes of information about ways we might contact aliens, or ways they may contact us, and what the results of such contacts might be.  Fascinating.  I had heard and read most of it before, but not compacted into a single fact-filled 55-minute discussion between scientists.

Then I listened to the Big Picture Science episode titled "Skeptic Check: Do Your Own Research."  Wow!  Here's the description for the episode:
Scientists are increasingly finding their expertise questioned by non-experts who claim they’ve done their own “research.” Whether advocating Ivermectin to treat Covid, insisting that climate change is a hoax, or asserting that the Earth is flat, doubters are now dismissed by being told to “do your own research!” But is a wiki page evidence? What about a YouTube video? What happens to our quest for truth along the way? Plus, a science historian goes to a Flat Earth convention to talk reason.
The episode is just 55 minutes long, but I don't think I've ever seen so much terrific information about "anti-scientists" crammed into that small period of time.  Why do nut job "anti-scientists" believe that the earth is flat?  Because they've done "their own research" which confirmed what they already believed.  So, they dismiss any research done by scientists which disagrees with their own "research".  The "research" done by the nut jobs may be obviously flawed, but it confirms what they believe, and that is all that is important.

VERY interesting stuff.

April 16, 2023
- Around 2:40 PM yesterday afternoon, I finished listening to the 6-part audio book version of "Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going" by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. 
Cosmic Queries

I listened to it on my MP3 player while sitting in my living room.  The audio book is 6 hours and 18 minutes long.  I started listening around 8:30 AM and finished at around 3 PM. 

It's an excellent book, summarizing all the amazing findings in astronomy and astrophysics during the past 200 years or so.  It got a bit annoying for me at the end of the 5th part, where it started explaining theories put forth by Quantum Mechanics, and the 6th part was mostly speculation about the fate of the universe, but those somewhat annoying parts weren't enough for me to view the book as less than "excellent."

It didn't even bother me when they talked about red-shifted galaxies appearing red-shifted because they are moving away from Earth.  As I understand it, they are red-shifted because the Earth is moving away from those galaxies as the universe expands.  In my paper "Logical versus Mathematical Universes," and in my paper "Stationary Points in Space," I explain why it is simply not logical for light from a "stationary point in space" to be red-shifted if the emitter is moving away from Earth.  According to Einstein, the emitter may be moving, but when an atom in the emitter emits a photon, it the atom emits that photon as if the atom was stationary.  Since I haven't been able to access the email address I use on all my science papers, I don't know if anyone ever bothered to send me a comment about those papers after the computer problems I had last September.   I just know they didn't email any comments between April of 2022 and September of 2022.

Listening to an audio book on my MP3 player is enjoyable, but I think it is generally more enjoyable to listen to podcasts that way.  With podcasts, each program usually lasts between 5 minutes and 45 minutes, and you can turn it off and move on to something better if a particular podcast turns out to be boring or uninteresting.

Here's what my MP3 player looks like sitting next to the speaker I use:
My MP3

The speaker opens up.  The on-off switch is inside, and so is storage space for up to 3 MP3 players.  In addition to the Mp3 player containing podcasts, I have one containing audio books and another containing music.  The speaker is battery powered, which is passe these days.  And the MP3 player is connected to the speaker by a wire, which is also passe in the age of Bluetooth.  But I'll keep using them as long as they last.

Comments for Sunday, April 9, 2023, thru Sat., Apr. 15, 2023:

April 13, 2023 - I've been trying to figure out why I haven't been listening to the audio books I have stored in my MP3 player.  The main reason may be because I've been listening to podcasts instead.  But there seems to be another reason, too.

Yesterday I decided to listen to a bit of
"The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: Primary Phase."  As soon as I copied it from my computer into my MP3 player, I saw the problem.  The book only consists of 4 files, but in the tiny 1-inch by 1-inch screen on the MP3 player the files are not identified as Part 1, Part-2, etc., AND the parts are out of order.  I have to listen to the file beginnings and compare them to the files in my computer (where the parts are in order and identified) to determine that in my MP3 player the first file is Part 4, the second is Part 3, the third is Part 1 and the last is Part 2.  The 9 parts for Bill O'Reilly's "Killing the Rising Sun" are in this order: 3, 4, 9, 8, 1, 7, 2, 5, 6.  I stopped listening to that one when the descriptions of the Japanese atrocities in the Philippines during WWII got too graphic for me.  I also stopped listening to "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: Primary Phase" after about 15 minutes.  It just didn't interest me.

Some of the files are in order for some of the books.  When I gave up on "Killing the Rising Sun," I started listening to "The Last Voyage of Columbus."  The files for that book are identified by number and are in order.   I haven't checked every book, but appears that out of the 45 audio books that are now in my MP3 player, less than 10 have the parts in order and show the part numbers.

I suspect that listening to audio books on an MP3 player is not the "normal" way of listening to audio books these days.  The "normal" way is probably to listen to the books on an i-phone.  I seem to be one of the last people on this planet who does not own an i-phone.  And I'm probably one of very few who would go through all the problems involved in listening to audio books on an MP3 player.

April 12, 2023
- Hmm.  I finally got my audio book collection sorted out.  As crazy as it may seem, I've got 359 of them.  That includes 158 that I have not yet listened to.  That part of my collection consists of 76 fiction books and 82 non-fiction books.  44 of them are also in the MP3 player I sometimes use for audio books (in addition to burning them onto CDs so I can listen to them while driving).  It looks like the last time I listened to an audio book on my MP3 player was in August of 2021, when I evidently paused part way through "Where the Crawdads Sing."  I've got a copy of "The Last Gunfight" that I download into the MP3 player on April 27, 2016.  But I'll probably listen to it on CDs instead.

Searching through the archives for this web site, I found this entry:

December 13, 2015 - Yesterday, I finished listening to a science audio book titled "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang" by Adam Frank.  I'd started listening to it on November 22, listening for 30 minutes while on a treadmill at the gym and 20 minutes while on an Exercycle, four times per week.  I had 47 minutes left on Friday, so I did that on Saturday while just laying on my couch.  
I could probably dig through my archives to find out when I first started listening to audio books.  But first I want to prioritize the nonfiction books I haven't yet listened to.  I recently burned CDs for "How Democracies Die," but before getting to that book I probably should have given "What Einstein Got Wrong" a higher priority.  Right now I'm going to finish this comment and try listening to "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: Primary Phase."  That one seems like it would be better suited to the mood I'm in right now.  

April 10, 2023
- Yesterday, I was looking through the file of audio books I obtained from the library years ago to see which book I should next burn onto CDs, so that I can listen to it in my car while driving.  I found a book titled "How Democracies Die."  I was a bit puzzled as to why I hadn't already listened to that book, since it seemed a lot more interesting than "Vacationland," the book I'm currently listening to while driving.  Then I realized it was because I had been choosing books from an incomplete list. 

Years ago, when I could still "borrow" audio books from the library in the form of MP3 files, I would store each book alphabetically in a master file in my computer, AND I'd store another copy in a backup master file on a backup hard drive.  When I finished listening to a book, I would change the name of the book in my computer by putting "ZZ-" in front of the actual title.  So, "Unhinged" would be changed to "ZZ-Unhinged," which would put it at the bottom of the list, after all the books I had not yet listened to.  And when I finished "About-Time," I would change the title to "ZZ-About-Time," which would put it near the bottom of the list, before "ZZ-Unhinged."  I only did that with the master file in my computer.

Then, in September of 2022, I had some major computer problems and lost access to the versions in my computer.  I had to switch to the copies on my backup hard drive.  But the backups didn't identify which books I had already listened to.

At some point in time I had started a second "list" (file) that consisted just of jpg versions of the book covers.  The current file of book covers has only 119 items.  The actual file of audio books has 349 books.  That list, of course, also includes fiction books, which I do not burn onto CDs, since it's too difficult of keep up with a story from a fiction book while just driving short distances.  I only listen to fiction audio books when I have a lot of time on my hands and can lay around for hours while listening.  The last time I did that was probably 2 or 3 years ago, before I learned about podcasts.

So, to make a long story short, when I decided to listen to "Vacationland," I looked at the list of book covers to find which book the listen to next.  When I noticed "How Democracies Die," I was looking at the complete file of audio books.

So, I'm going to have to complete the file of book covers.  It's a lot easier to choose what book to listen to next by looking at a file of book covers than by looking at a list of book titles.   I thought I was running out of books to listen to, but when looking at the correct list, I have lots of really interesting audio books that I haven't yet listened to. 

April 9, 2023
- I wish everyone a very happy Easter!

Comments for Saturday, April 1, 2023, thru Sat., Apr. 8, 2023:

April 5, 2023 - When I stopped watching DVDs and turned on the news last night at about 9:45 p.m., Judge Janet Protasiewicz was already surrounded by crowds cheering her win to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.  It was by a good margin, too.  The New York Times says it was 55.5% for Protasiewicz and 44.5% for Dan Kelly.

That's very encouraging.  Dan Kelly was supported by Donald Trump, thereby providing another example of Trump's waning influence.

Yesterday afternoon, of course, I watched Trump entering and leaving the Manhattan courtroom where he was formally indicted. A PDF copy of the indictment is now available on-line HERE.  Here are the first two charges:
THE GRAND JURY OF THE COUNTY OF NEW YORK, by this indictment, accuses the defendant of the crime of FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS IN THE FIRST DEGREE, in violation of Penal Law §175.10, committed as follows:
The defendant, in the County of New York and elsewhere, on or about February 14, 2017,
with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission
thereof, made and caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise, to wit, an invoice
from Michael Cohen dated February 14, 2017, marked as a record of the Donald J. Trump
Revocable Trust, and kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.
AND THE GRAND JURY AFORESAID, by this indictment, further accuses the defendant of the crime of FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS IN THE FIRST DEGREE, in violation of Penal Law §175.10, committed as follows:
The defendant, in the County of New York and elsewhere, on or about February 14, 2017,
with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission
thereof, made and caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise, to wit, an entry in
the Detail General Ledger for the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, bearing voucher number
842457, and kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.
It seems that the other 32 counts are basically the same thing, first a count of creating a false invoice, and second a count of creating a ledger entry and/or check stub showing the illegal payment of that invoice.  As I see it, it's like billing yourself, then paying yourself, then using the amount as a business tax deduction.  There is no mention of Stormy Daniels.  You'd have to see the 16 actual ledger entries or check stubs to figure out who was getting the money.

And, of course, yesterday I also watched some Fox News ranting about how it was all made-up nonsense, because the President (and even an ex-President) is above the law and nothing he does can be considered a crime.

It appears that fewer and fewer Right Wingers are accepting that brainless dogma.  And that means that the remaining Trump supporters are the most dedicated and extreme neo-Nazis.  They are driven entirely by emotions, and they are virtually immune to logic.  That is why no amount of evidence or reasoning can change their minds.  Anyone who disagrees with their beliefs is attacking them personally.

It's encouraging that the MAGA nut-job numbers are shrinking, but it is scary that those that remain are
the most dedicated and extreme neo-Nazi Trump supporters.   

April 4, 2023
- I went out to vote just after lunch.  It was in the middle of a thunderstorm.  The forecast on TV was for the thunderstorms to get much worse later in the day and into the evening.  I don't want to even think about how that might affect the election.  Are liberals or conservatives more likely to go out in the rain to vote?  I have no idea.  When I returned home and turned on my computer, however, I saw that the forecast on is for the rain to end at about 4 p.m.  Either way, I decided to skip going to the gym today.

So, instead, I'll probably watch Donald Trump's indictment activities on TV.

And tomorrow morning I'll definitely check to see how Wisconsin's State Supreme Court election turned out.  And I'll almost certainly write a comment about it.

April 2, 2023
- Yesterday afternoon, while driving around running some errands, I finished listening to CD #10 in the 10 CD audio book set for "Secret History of World War II, The: Spies, Code Breakers, and Covert Operations."

Secret History of WWII 

I "borrowed" the audio book from my local library years ago and finally got around to listening to it.  Until yesterday, I never saw this part of the ad on Amazon:

National Geographic’s landmark book includes recently released never-before-seen photographs, coded messages, classified maps, and more than 700 rare artifacts that shed light on the war's darkest secrets.
Needless to say, none of those 730 color photographs and maps are in the audio book.  But the captions apparently are, since there seems to be a lot of repetition, possibly because the captions for photos often contain the same wording that is in the text. 

Nevertheless, it was still a very enjoyable audio book, bringing back memories of all the WWII movies and TV documentaries I've seen over the decades.  It's just mainly about the code breakers and spies.  But its presented in historical order, and it's about the war with Germany and the war with Japan.  So, it begin with the British code-breaking of German messages as Germany prepares to launch World War II in Europe, and it ends with the most top secret of all, the building and dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

There was a lot of very interesting history on those 10 CDs. 

April 1, 2023
- This coming Tuesday, April 4, should be an interesting day.  Donald Trump has now been formally indicted, and he is scheduled to appear in court in New York City on April 4 at 2:25 PM.   At that time, all the charges against him will be read to him, he will be fingerprinted and photographed, and he will undoubtedly enter a plea of "not guilty."  The process should take several hours.

In an NPR article, Matthew Galluzzo, a former prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney's Office, says that Trump is widely unpopular in Manhattan, where he got only 22% of the votes in the 2022 presidential election.  Gallazzo says Trump is "possibly the most despised person on the island."  That means it is going to be very very difficult to find a jury that won't consist of Trump haters.  As a result, Trump's lawyers will almost certainly push to have the trial held somewhere else.  It is theoretically possible to delay the trial for two to three years using various motions and appeals.  And during all that time, Trump will be telling the world how he is innocent and how the system is rigged against him.  There is virtually no chance that the case will be settled out of court.

Of course, during those years Trump will face other charges in other courts.  He will almost certainly be indicted for trying to illegally alter the election results in Georgia.  And it's likely he will be charged with illegal possession of classified documents and lying to the FBI about those documents.  Plus, there's a civil case where Trump and three of his children are accused of  "'
astounding' fraud and deception."
The lawsuit alleges that the family inflated their net worth by billions, and is seeking $250 [million dollars] that was allegedly obtained through fraudulent means. It's also seeking bans on Mr Trump and his children from serving in a leadership role in any New York business.

A Manhattan judge has denied Mr Trump's bid to delay the trial, saying the scheduled date of 2 October is "written in stone".
April 4 is also the date of the Wisconsin election that will decide the makeup of the State Supreme Court.  That date should also bring to an end all the attack ads on TV that show the conservative candidate to be totally corrupt and closed-minded, while the liberal candidate is attacked for being "too lenient" when sentencing criminals.

© 2023 by Ed Lake