|Comments for Sunday, May 21, 2023,
thru Sat., May 27, 2023:
May 27, 2023 - Friday afternoon, while driving home from the gym, I finished listening to CD #9 in the 9-CD audio book version of "How Democracies Die" by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
Wow! What a terrific book! It's also another book I wish I had read on my Kindle instead of listening to the audio book, because there are so many passages I would have highlighted and saved for quoting. The authors describe how democracies in other countries (Italy, Germany, Turkey, Venezuela) turned into dictatorships because their citizens turned from cooperating opponents with different views into enemy groups, each determined to destroy the other.
The book was published in January of 2018, so it's not about Donald Trump's current attempts to destroy democracy in America, but it does describe his attempts during his run for the Presidency and during the first year of his Presidency. Here's a quote from early in the book:
Institutions alone are not enough to rein in elected autocrats. Constitutions must be defended—by political parties and organized citizens, but also by democratic norms. Without robust norms, constitutional checks and balances do not serve as the bulwarks of democracy we imagine them to be. Institutions become political weapons, wielded forcefully by those who control them against those who do not. This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy—packing and “weaponizing” the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence), and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy—gradually, subtly, and even legally—to kill it.Another:
Levels of voter fraud in the United States are very low, and because elections are administered by state and local governments, it is effectively impossible to coordinate national-level voting fraud. Yet throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump insisted that millions of illegal immigrants and dead people on the voting rolls would be mobilized to vote for Clinton. For months, his campaign website declared “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary from Rigging This Election!” In August, Trump told Sean Hannity, “We’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged….I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.” In October, he tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” During the final presidential debate, Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the election if he were defeated.Trump accepted the results of the 2016 election, when he won, but as we all know he's still claiming the 2020 election was rigged, because he lost. There are dozens and dozens of great quotes in the book, but finding them on-line would take about as much time as it would to read the book again on my Kindle. I highly recommend reading this book, instead of just listening to the audio book version.
May 25, 2023 - I'm really finding it difficult to think of things to write about for this web site. All I do most days is stare at my computer screen for an hour or so, trying to get started on the final version of my book about Logical Relativity. Then I give up and listen to podcasts instead.
I had my annual physical at the Veterans Administration Health Center yesterday. I'm in excellent health.
I'm almost done watching season 5 of "The West Wing." It's the last season I have on DVDs. It's an excellent show with lots of insights into what politics were like before we became so polarized.
And now I'm just sitting and staring at this comment, wondering what else I can write about. I can't think of anything, so I guess I'm done for today.
May 21, 2023 - The writers' strike has certainly changed my TV viewing. Normally, four or five times a week, after eating supper and watching the NBC Evening News, my evening TV viewing would begin with watching these late night talk shows recorded from the previous night:
The Daily ShowNow, because of the writers' strike, all of them are just reruns. The same with Saturday Night Live.
Fortunately, I have a large DVD collection. So, some nights I watch movies, some nights I binge-watch some old TV series. Right now, I'm watching season 4 of "The West Wing," which originally aired in 2002 & 2003, roughly 20 years ago. It's "One of the most critically acclaimed and lauded shows in television history." I bought seasons 1 & 2 in 2013 for $17.99 each, and watched them. Then, in 2017, I bought seasons 3, 4 and 5 for $4.99 each. I never got around to watching them until about two weeks ago. Interestingly, season 3 started airing on October 3, 2001, a few weeks after 9/11. While there is no mention of 9/11 in the series, the IMDB has this description of the first episode:
The West Wing goes under lock down as a suspected terrorist is found to be working at the White House. Stuck with a group of high school students who were visiting the White House, the staffers, President Bartlet, and the First Lady all debate the issues regarding terrorism. Meanwhile, Leo sits in on the questioning of the terrorist suspect and learns a lesson about our perceptions of terrorists.That episode was written and filmed after 9/11. The start of the 3rd season was delayed until that episode could be completed.
CNN aired Seasons 1 to 4 for 90 straight hours beginning on Thanksgiving Day, November 21, 2022. That may be what got me to thinking about watching the series. Doing so has been time well spent.
Meanwhile, yesterday I started working on a new version of my book about Logical Relativity. Instead of hiding the fact that I'm not a physicist, the new version is about how an analyst views Relativity and Time Dilation. I think the reason that Einstein supporters and Quantum Physics supporters have been arguing for the past 100 years may simply be because no ANALYST has publicly analyzed the causes and facts behind their disagreements.
|Comments for Sunday, May 14, 2023,
thru Sat., May 20, 2023:
May 17, 2023 - While eating lunch yesterday, I finished reading another book on my Kindle. The book was "The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy" by Kliph Nesteroff.
It was a fairly interesting book, but not as funny as I had expected. The book is more about the struggles to earn a living as a stand-up comedian, starting in vaudeville and nightclubs and then on radio and TV. Here's an interesting quote from the book:
Albee-Keith-Orpheum had seven hundred theaters and twenty-five thousand performers under contract in 1929. Weekly attendance was an estimated twelve million. The moguls funded a widespread propaganda campaign to warn about “the dangers of radio.” They funded newspaper editorials bemoaning the hearing loss radio caused and the house fires started by receiver sets. Vaudeville financed aggressive lies, but it was no use. RCA had developed the all-electric receiving set in 1925 and a year later released the “perfected radio tube,” which operated with alternating current. “This was a revolutionary advance,” said radio columnist Ben Gross. “It did away with the need for those cumbersome acid-seeping batteries which had disfigured millions of American living rooms. Radio now was so simple that even a child could tune it in without fuss, mess or bother.”Another:
Criticism of the Nazis was not allowed on American radio prior to 1941. Powerful radio sponsors frowned on anything that might offend German consumers. “One sponsor would own the whole show, so therefore he was very powerful,” said radio writer Sol Saks.And another:
The American Tobacco Company had been wary of its client Eddie Cantor ever since he raised eighteen thousand dollars to help five hundred Jewish children escape Nazism in 1935. When Cantor spoke out against Hitler in 1938, American Tobacco wanted to cancel his show. Fascist sympathizers harassed Cantor in his own studio audience.The book mentions just about every comedian you ever heard of, from George Jessel to Bob Hope to Jon Stewart. Much of the book is also about narcotics and how nearly every comedian got involved with drugs sometime in their career. And that meant getting involved with gangsters, which was hard to avoid because so many gangsters ran the clubs where comedians performed.
It was an interesting book, but it's much more serious than funny.
May 16, 2023 - A couple days ago, someone sent me an email with this as the subject: "Good description of the Religious CULT around Trump." The brief text included a link: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1657594715670298624.html. The page at the link begins with this text:
These comments from Roger Stone at the Pastors for Trump/ReAwaken event at Trump's Doral resort this week are very important. For those who don't speak "Independent Charismatic," allow me to translate. Stone is claiming a prophetic destiny based on a prophecy from Kim Clement.I never heard of Kim Clement before. Researching him, I found there's an hour-long video titled "Prophesy of Trump" with this description: "The case for Donald Trump being a modern day Cyrus the Great is shown through bible prophecy." And Kim Clement has also produced Tik Tok videos praising "The Lord Trump."
Clicking on the link in the email, I was connected to a brief Tik Tok video of a talk by political lobbyist and former Trump advisor Roger Stone, in which Stone claimed to be "a soldier in the army of the Lord." The video now seems to have been deleted, but while it was available to me I transcribe some of what Stone said. Here is the part I transcribed:
Make no mistake, what we see before us is not just a struggle between Republicans and Democrats. Or between liberals and conservatives. This is a fight between Light and Dark. This is a struggle between Good and Evil. This is an epic fight between the Godly and the Godless, and we dare not lose, because, should we lose, America will step off into a thousand years of darkness.Hmm. When talking with Trump supporters it is frequently like talking with members of a religious cult. There is no logic or reasoning behind what they say, it is all emotion and beliefs. They don't usually talk of Trump as being a "savior" or "God," but they seem to believe in Trump with that kind of intensity. And they seem to view Trump's arrest and investigations as if they were religious (not political) persecutions. They view Trump as someone who can do no wrong, even if what he did is recorded.
It's very scary. It might even explain some acts of mass violence where a killer shoots many people and fully expects to be killed by police. I wonder how many of them view themselves as martyrs.
May 15, 2023 - A few days ago, I was listening to podcasts, and an episode of RadioLab came up. It was from May 5th and is titled "Ologies: Dark Matters." Part of the description of the episode is as follows:
In this episode, we introduce you to one of our all-time favorite science podcasts. Ologies. A show that’s a kindred spirit to ours, but also… very different. In each episode, Host Alie Ward interviews a brilliant, charming ologist, and wanders with them deep into their research, quirky facts they’ve learned throughout their career and their personal motivations for studying what they study. “It’s all over the map,” she says. And we love it.Ologies?? I'd never heard of that podcast before! It was a science podcast and the description made me curious, so I set aside the RadioLab episode and downloaded 8 episodes of the Ologies podcast into my MP3 player. The site has been producing episodes since September of 2017, and they currently have 322 episodes to choose from. I picked some new ones about Geology, Scotohylology and Domicology and some old ones about Volcanology, Paleontology and Cosmology. The first episode I listened to was the first part of a two-part discussion of Cosmology. The episode is from December 12, 2017. Wow! What a terrific discussion! Since I'd never listened to any episodes of that podcast before, I didn't know what to expect. Here's the description:
Stars. Black holes. THE GAWDANG UNIVERSE. Astrophysicist and cosmologist Katie Mack (@astrokatie) joins to tell us her most embarrassing moments as a cosmologist, to debunk some physicist myths and give the nuts + bolts of everything form particle physics to gravitational waves and existential mysteries. Walk away with cocktail party comprehension of everything from the itty-bitty quarks that make you to the neutron stars banging together across the cosmos. More than anything, get perspective about your life on this, our little pale blue dot.What made the episode so great was the fact the host of the show, Alie Ward knew almost nothing about cosmology, so her guest, astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack, had to explain a lot of basics. And Alie Ward was totally fascinated by it all. There's a lot of laughing in the episode, since it's all so new to Alie and is evidently unlike anything she ever dreamed of. It seems she never heard of black holes before, nor the Big Bang. It's truly a enjoyable discussion, every minute of the 1 hour and 38 minute episode. It's like all the things that amaze me about cosmology are being explained to someone else for the first time, and that person is tickled pink that the universe is amazing beyond her imagination.
And I like the way Ward inserts brief explanations into the conversation whenever she feels one is needed. I really enjoyed the episode. The next day I listened to the Volcanology episode from 2017. It was another great episode. I listened to the entire hour and 3 minute show.
May 14, 2023 - Once again I've been pondering how to begin the latest version of my book about Logical Relativity. For weeks I've had only one sentence completed, and I've been staring at it. The sentence is:
Relativity is very logical and is fairly simple when viewed logically.Yesterday I began to wonder if the key to viewing things logically isn't actually visualizing them. We can start by visualizing an electron. The problem is that, when you research what an electron looks like, you get mumbo jumbo claiming it looks like a point. Here is what one source says:
An electron looks like a particle when it interacts with other objects in certain ways (such as in high-speed collisions). When an electron looks more like a particle it has no shape, according to the Standard Model. In this context, physicists call an electron a "point particle," meaning that it interacts as if it is entirely located at a single point in space and does not spread out to fill a three-dimensional volume. If you find the concept of a fixed amount of mass being contained in the infinitely small volume of a single point illogical, then you should. But you have to realize that the electron is not literally a solid ball. This means that the electron's mass is not literally squeezed into an infinitely small volume. Rather, in certain cases where the electron looks somewhat like a particle, it interacts as if it were completely located at a single point. Therefore, in the sense of particle-like interactions, an electron has no shape.So, if you were to visualize an electron, you'd see a "ball" that consists of the particle and its oscillating electric and magnetic fields. The particle itself is much much smaller than the "ball," and the "ball" is just the outer limits of where the fields oscillate. Here's an image which shows three electrons as part of a lithium atom. Each electron is viewed as a sphere (as is each proton and neutron).
Each electron (and each proton and neutron) is actually a very tiny particle that is at the center of each of the spheres shown above. The spheres are oscillating electric and magnetic fields surrounding the particle at the sphere's center. The particle has mass, so it cannot move at the speed of light. It can be viewed as a point with a fog surrounding the point, a fog that consist of oscillating electromagnetic fields.
Then we have atoms. A lithium atom is illustrated above. Unfortunately, it's a 2-dimensional illustration, which makes it appear that the electrons orbit the center just like planets orbit the sun - in a flat plane. In reality, the orbits of the two inner electrons could be a right angles to the orbit of the outer electron - or at any angle.
I think I better end this comment at this point, otherwise I might end up writing a book instead of a comment.
|Comments for Sunday, May 7, 2023,
thru Sat., May 13, 2023:
May 9, 2023 - I'm back to listening to podcasts once again. Yesterday, I listened to a Wired Science podcast episode from April 5th titled "This Private Moon Lander Is Kicking Off a Commercial Lunar Race." You can also read a written (and longer) version of the episode at https://www.wired.com/story/ispace-moon-lander/
Until I heard and read this story, I didn't realize there were so many plans to send commercial rockets and lunar landers to the moon. The Tokyo-based company Ispace launched its M1 moon lander on December 11, 2022. After tracing a roundabout, energy-efficient trajectory, it was expected to reach the surface of Atlas Crater on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris at about 12:40 pm Eastern time on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. The lander appears to have reached the moon's surface at the expected time, but Ispace mission control lost contact with it. The vehicle sent flight data just before the expected landing, but the company hasn't been able to determine its status since then. It's not clear yet whether the craft survived the landing. It probably didn't.
Here's another part of the article:
About twice a year, NASA has been putting out calls for bids to deliver a science payload—or occasionally a technology development one—that it wants shipped to a specific lunar location by a certain date. Companies then bid on those transportation services. In 2019, NASA tapped Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines for such deliveries, and later this year one of them will make the program’s first lunar drop. Each order is worth about $100 million on average, and NASA’s agreements so far total about $1 billion, says deputy program manager Ryan Stephan.NASA plans to land its Viper lunar lander on the moon in November 2024. As the quote above says, a different lunar rover is expected to land later this year to explore and investigate ice deposits.
After listening to that podcast, I checked Wikipedia and found a web page titled "List of Missions to the Moon." It's a long long list, and it says,
Missions to the Moon have been conducted by the following nations and organizations (in chronological order): the Soviet Union, the United States, Japan, the European Space Agency, China, India, Luxembourg, Israel, Italy, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.In fact, the European Space Agency has a rocket on its way to the moon right now. It was launched last month, on April 14, and is scheduled to do a flyby of the Moon in August of next year, then two more gravity assist flybys of the Earth on September 2026 and January 2029, while on its way to Jupiter's moon Ganymede. It should arrive at Ganymede in December of 2034.
And there are 8 "crewed" missions to the moon in the works, 6 by the U.S., 1 by Russia and 1 by China. 4 American missions and 1 Chinese mission plan actual "crewed" landings on the moon. (Since some missions will include women, the mission are no longer "manned," they are "crewed.")
May 8, 2023 - I just dug through the books in my Kindle to see how many books about Trump I have. I have nearly two dozen. Here are 16 of them (you can click on the image to view a larger version):
I also have ONE book about Trump that has a positive view of him. It was, of course, written by former Fox news host Tucker Carlson.
Hmmm. Whatever happened to Tucker Carlson?
May 7, 2023 - I don't know if anyone else still reads this web site, but nearly all my time right now is being spent on doing an inventory of all the library books I have in my Kindle. It's an old Kindle, at least 10 years old, which means it's from the time when you could "borrow" a book from the library in Kindle format, and the book was not deleted from your Kindle when you "returned" it. My Kindle currently contains 428 "items," of which 410 are books. This afternoon I finally produced a catalogue file that contains the 410 book covers.
I think I've actually read most of them, but there could be as many as 100 that I haven't yet read. In the Kindle, the books are in order by when they were downloaded. It appears that I was mostly borrowing and reading fiction books when I first started using the Kindle. I've got lots of novels by Kim Stanley Robinson, Spider Robinson, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, James Rollins, Michael Connelly, Colin Cotterill, Janet Evanovich, Clive Cussler and so on and so on. And I've probably read them all.
I think I've also read most of the books I have about Donald J. Trump. I've probably got about 20 of those. But, right now, my primary task is to prioritize the books in my Kindle that I haven't yet read. While I'm dong that, I'm going to try and finish reading "The Comedians."
|Comments for Monday, May 1, 2023,
thru Sat., May 6, 2023:
May 5, 2023 - Hmm. I haven't listened to a single podcast in four days. Instead, I've been trying to organize my Kindle books. My Kindle says it contains 428 "items," most of which are books I got from the library as far back as 2013. I also have a computer file of about 300 books in Kindle format, most of which are also in my Kindle. What I don't have is an easy-to-view "directory" of which books I've read and which I haven't. And for the books I haven't read, I need a "prioritized" list.
Right now, during breakfast and lunch, I'm reading "The Comedians." I'm about 44% done, but I could actually be 70% done, or more, if the end of the book is filled with indexes. While it's an interesting book, I keep wondering why I'm reading it instead of something else. Should I be reading something else?
I've got at least 10 books about Trump and his presidency that I haven't yet read. I've got dozens of science books that I haven't yet read. I've got lots of history books I haven't yet read. Right now, I'm listening to the audio book version of "How Democracies Die" while driving. It's a terrific book, and I keep thinking I should be reading it instead of listening to it, since it contains so much I'd like to underline and quote.
I think I need to go through the directory in my Kindle and click on each entry to see if it goes to the beginning, the middle or the end of the book. As I do that, I need to organize my file of book covers to confirm that each book is in its proper place, and that the unread books are prioritized. I think that will take at least one minute per book, maybe two. So, for 428 books that should only take somewhere between 7 and 14 hours. And with all the other things I have to do, those hours will probably be spread over 3 to 6 days.
May 1, 2023 - Yesterday, I was listening to some podcast or other, and they mentioned a podcast I had never heard of before: Space Boffins.
Space Boffins? With a name like that, it had to be a British podcast. Curious, I did a Google search for it and found that the podcast has been around since June of 2012, nearly 11 years. During that time they've produced 130 episodes. I downloaded seven sample episodes, some old, some recent, picking the ones with the most interesting titles. The first episode I listened to was Mission to Europa, from June 14, 2021. It was about an hour long, but it was an absolutely fascinating hour. Here's how the episode is described:
Two astronauts, one space hipster, a writer and a musician all feature in this month’s Space Boffins. Sue Nelson and Richard Hollingham are joined by podcaster and founder of the Space Hipsters, Emily Carney. They also hear from pioneering astronaut Anna Fisher in conversation with astronaut Nicole Stott. And David Brown, author of The Mission, talks about Jupiter’s moon Europa and the chances of finding life on the icy and watery world.Anna Fisher and Nicole Stott are two female astronauts. Fisher spent about 8 days in space on the space shuttle, and Stott spent about 103 days in space, mostly on the International Space Station. Among other topics, they talked about the difficulties of fitting into space suits which came in only two sizes: medium and large.
But the most fascinating part of the discussion was about why going to Jupiter's moon Europa is so interesting. It seems there is a very high probability of finding life on Europa. It won't be human-like life, of course. It would be bacteria and strange life forms like we find around volcanic hot spots at the bottom of Earth's oceans. Europa is covered with ice, but under the ice are hundreds of volcanic hot spots that are virtually no different than those found on Earth. So, why wouldn't we find life there? Life does not move from one hot spot to another, life evidently forms independently around each hot spot.
Of course, we'd have to go there despite the warning in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which humans are told they can go anywhere in the universe they want, except to Europa.
What was most unique about this podcast was that it was discussions between experts, not a discussion between a host and a guest expert, as would be the case on most science podcasts.
I also started listening to the Cute Mars Rovers episode. It's also very interesting because the people who operate the rovers begin to think of them as having "personalities". Spirit was kind of stubborn and clumsy, while Opportunity was always obedient and careful.
I'm looking forward to listening to other episodes.