Archive for
October 2023

Comments for Sunday, October 22, 2023, thru Tues., Oct. 31, 2023:

October 29, 2023 - I'm still suffering from writer's block.  I've been staring at my computer screen for hours this morning, unable to think of anything to write about.  I also spent about an hour filling up my MP3 player with podcasts, but the process of filling up my MP3 player and listening to all those podcasts has become so routine that it provides nothing for me to comment upon.  So, all I can write about at the moment is that I have nothing to write about.  Sorry.

October 25, 2023 - While driving home from the gym yesterday, I finished listening to CD #12 in the 12-CD audio book version of "American Sherlock."

American Sherlock

It's a very interesting book, but I probably should have read it instead of listening to it.  It's filled with details I would have liked to underline and re-read.

The book is about Edward Oscar Heinrich, who was one of America's first forensic scientists and one of the first "expert witnesses" to appear in U.S. courts.   In the early 1900s, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of many new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence.  He is credited with solving at least 2,000 cases during this 40-year career.

But, mistakes were also made.  At least one person was executed based upon Heinrich's evidence and later turned out to be innocent.  However, that was a time when most evidence was eye-witness evidence, and there are countless examples of eye-witness testimony that were totally wrong, much of which led to the imprisonment and even executions of innocent people.

It's an interesting book, but I recommend reading it, not listening to it.

October 24, 2023
- A few days ago, some podcast I was listening to mentioned a podcast I had never heard of before.  The new podcast is titled "Disclosed: UFO Files."  A podcast about UFOs?  It seemed like it should be interesting, so I downloaded a few episodes.  The web site contains 1,000 episodes, and they appear to generate 10 episodes per day, but the total number is always 1,000.  Each episode is from 1½ to 3½ hours long, but there is no cast or host.  And the episode description is always the same:
Disclosed UFO Files – Keep up with the latest in the world of UFO & UAP. Make sense out of the confusion and unravel the mystery once and for all.
I had a hard time making sense of the podcasts, and I would just delete them after a few minutes.  Then, two days ago, I decided I needed to analyze them.  So, I downloaded 30 recent episodes and tried listening to each one in its entirety.  I don't think I managed to get all they way through any of the episodes, but I think I figured out what they are all about:  They're a collection of audio files about flying saucers, a collection that includes everything from congressional testimony to talks at UFO conferences. 

During the talks, the term MUFON kept coming up.  I looked the term up this morning and found a website that seems to explain everything.  The term MUFON stands for "Mutual UFO Network."  Their web site says,
MUFON Scientifically Studying the UFO/UAP Phenomena for the Betterment of Humanity Since 1969
Wikipedia says:
The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) is a US-based non-profit organization composed of civilian volunteers who study reported UFO sightings. It is one of the oldest and largest organizations of its kind, claiming more than 4,000 members worldwide with chapters and representatives in more than 43 countries and all 50 states. The organization has been criticized for its focus on pseudoscience, and critics say its investigators fail to use the scientific method.
And their podcasts appear to be an attempt to convince the world that there is enough evidence to show that UFOs are real and that the government is trying to hide "the truth" from the American public.  And "the truth," according to MUFON is that UFOs are either real visitors from alien worlds and the government is trying to hide that fact from it citizens, or UFOs are experimental U.S. military vehicles and the government it trying to keep them secret by denying their existence and claiming that all the sightings are from confused people who have no idea of what they actually saw - or imagined they saw.

In reality, it appears that the government is trying the get people to use the term "UAP" instead of "UFO" because what people are seeing does NOT appear to be any kind of "object."  The term Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon" therefore seems more appropriate.   A phenomenon is

a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.
Mysterious moving lights in the sky appear real.  They've been photographed many times for many years.  As long as their cause remains unknown, people will have theories about them.  Hopefully, with all the recent advances in technology which provides most people with a camera and recorder that they carry about with them 24 hours a day, we'll be getting more information about UAPs which everyone can study and analyze.   

October 22, 2023
- These are definitely unusual times.  My daily routine has always included watching the Evening News on NBC.  But now the news is all about the Israel-Hamas conflict, a subject that is of no interest to me whatsoever.

I'm still very interested in when Donald Trump will be thrown in jail.  He's currently involved in pre-trial hearings about his various attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.  On Friday, Trump was fined $5,000 for posting an attack upon one of the court staffers
, claiming she was a girlfriend of New York Senator Chuck Schumer.  And three of Trump's lawyers have already pleaded guilty to conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results.  Trump's actual trial is not scheduled until March, and he'll undoubtedly spend a lot of time between now and then trying to postpone the trial date for months or years.

There isn't much else to write about this morning.

Comments for Sunday, October 15, 2023, thru Sat., Oct. 21, 2023:

October 19, 2023 - A couple days ago, I listened to an Al Franken podcast that was mostly about QAnon.  I've read a bit about QAnon in the past, but this plain language discussion clarified a lot of things.

There isn't much else in the news that I want to comment upon.

October 15, 2023 - A few days ago, TV news shows started mentioning that Best Buy is going to stop selling DVD movies at the end of this year.  According to one on-line source:
To state the obvious, the way we watch movies and TV shows is much different today than it was decades ago,” a Best Buy spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “Making this change gives us more space and opportunity to bring customers new and innovative tech for them to explore, discover and enjoy.”
So, it appears that DVD movies are going the way of LP vinyl music records.  They were once collector's items, but now they are virtually worthless - except to the people who like old stuff and still have collections.

I like old movies.  The first thing I do every evening is check to see what movies TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has added to its schedule.  If there are any that I like, I'll set my DVR to record it.

I watch movies from my DVD collection nearly every evening, typically two movies per night.  I didn't buy the DVDs because I wanted to collect them, I bought them because I wanted movies that I like to see over and over.  I would rent them at a Redbox, and if I liked the movie enough to want a copy of my own, I'd put it on a list and wait for it to be available for a reasonable price - new or used.

Then, five or ten years ago, something changed.  Gradually, none of the movies I rented from Redbox were worth watching a second time.  Most weren't worth watching a first time.  So, I stopped renting movies and just watched movies from my collection.  I have a printed list in order by the date I last watched the movie, so, right now I generally pick movies that I last watched in January of 2010. 

Others might think this is all a bit strange.  When I discuss old movies with people, they seem to feel that there's no point to watching old movies.  They can't tell their friends about it.  It's as if the only point to watching movies these days is it be the first to see it, so you can tell others about it.  And the average ticket costs $10.53.

I'll wait until I can buy the DVD at Goodwill for $1.99

Comments for Sunday, October 8, 2023, thru Sat., Oct. 14, 2023:

October 10, 2023 - At around 10:30 this morning, I stopped listening to podcasts and set aside my MP3 player.  While listening to podcasts is generally educational, it definitely isn't very productive.  Every day I learn more and more about science and what is going on in the world (and in the universe), but I'm not doing anything with what I'm learning.  The same seems true about watching the news.  Another war has started?  So, what else is new?

I keep thinking of Ed Asner's book "The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs."  In that book, Asner described how America was created as a bunch of independent nations, each one promoting a specific religion.  Gradually, they had to learn how to get along with one another.  I started hunting for my review of that book, but it came out in 2017, and currently on this web site I only have comments going back to 2022. 

However, I never discard anything.  On backup hard drives I have copies of this web site going back to the day it was created, January 1, 2015.   Here's my comment for that day:

Thursday, January 1, 2015 -  I suppose I could start with some New Year's resolutions:

Resolution #1:  I will try to complete all three of my new sci-fi novels before the end of the year (and hopefully during the first quarter).  Book #1 is "done," the first draft of Book #2 is done, but I haven't yet started on Book #3.

Resolution #2:  I need to stop buying so many DVDs!

Resolution #3:  I will learn how to fix the problem with the touchpad on my laptop computer all by myself.
I never got past the draft stage of Book #2 and never started on Book #3. I never stopped buying DVDs, but I certainly don't buy as many these days as I did back then.  And I don't know if I ever solved the problem with the touchpad, since I nearly always use a mouse.

I'm not sure how far back my backups go.  There were software changes over the years, and I have a lot of files in formats that my current computer software cannot read.  I'm certain I have that Ed Asner book review somewhere, but searching for it could take some time.

I suppose that someday I should try to get things better organized.  But I have approximately 14 kazillion things to do that seem more important.

October 8, 2023
- I find it extremely difficult to understand how anyone could admire or vote for Donald Trump.   He's a lying, crooked con man.  I find it difficult to believe anything he says, because almost everything he says eventually turns out to be either a lie or a screwball opinion.

His supporters, of course, see things very differently.  Here's part of a recent article from CNN
Overwhelming majorities of Republican voters dismiss the charges against Trump. In a comprehensive recent national survey by Bright Line Watch, a collaborative of political scientists studying threats to American democracy, 15% or fewer of Republicans said Trump had committed a crime either in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his actions on January 6, 2021, or his hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016; only one-in-four thought he had broken the law in his handling of classified documents. And in the hush money and classified document cases, over four-fifths of Republicans agreed that “Trump would not have been prosecuted…if he were someone else.”
It seems clear to me that all the people who seem to like and admire Donald Trump are driven by emotions, not by any form of logic.  You can't get them to look at the facts and evidence, because they see facts and evidence as nothing more than someone else's beliefs.  They believe Trump didn't break any law when he took home dozens of secret and top secret documents, because Trump was President at the time and they believe the President is above the law - or should be.  And anyone who says the President cannot do whatever he wants is just arguing a stupid opinion. 

The MAGA (Make America Great Again) slogan somewhat explains it.  They no longer see America as "great" because something happened that made America "not great," and Trump's supporters want Trump to make things the way they were once again.  And they know only a dictator can do that.  Only a dictator can make people stop arguing.  All he needs to do is kill or jail all those who disagree with his demands.  And only Trump seems willing to do things that way -- if he is allowed to.

Comments for Sunday, October 1, 2023, thru Sat., Oct. 7, 2023:

October 4, 2023 - Ah!  Things are getting back to "normal"!  The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show staring Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel Live all returned to the airwaves on Monday night.  I recorded all 4 shows on my DVR.  On Tuesday evening I watched them.  The first three shows were all great.  As usual, Jimmy Kimmel started playing games, which I don't like, so I turned him off after he completed his interview of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And today I have another 4 shows on my DVR ready for me to watch.

Plus there's all the news about Kevin McCarthy being ousted as Speaker of the House because he didn't shut down the government.  It will be interesting to see what the 4 late night talk shows have to say about that.

We definitely live in interesting times.

October 2, 2023
- HmmThe Donald Trump trial that started today seems long overdue.  As I understand it, he's being tried for doing things he's been doing for decades.  He overstates his net worth by billions of dollars when asking for a bank loan, and he understates his net worth by millions when it comes time to pay his taxes.

Trump on trial again

The trial is taking place in Civil Court, and it is only about him overstating his net worth, so there is no chance that Trump might end up in jail.  We'll have to wait for his stolen government documents trial for that.

Meanwhile, I've got my DVR set to record
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show staring Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight.  I'm really looking forward to watching them all tomorrow evening.  It should be a much better way to learn about the Trump trial than just watching the news.  And they should all have a lot of other things to talk about, too.    

October 1, 2023
- While eating lunch yesterday, I finished reading another book on my Kindle.  The book was "Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump" by Miles Taylor.


As it says at the top of the cover above, Miles Taylor was also the author of "A Warning," which I reviewed on August 20.  That book, however, was published anonymously.  Taylor served under President Donald Trump in various roles, mainly as Trump's Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security.  Previously, Taylor had served in similar roles under President George W. Bush.  While working for Trump, Taylor was witness to countless security violations by Trump, including Trump's mishandling of Top Secret documents.  Most of Trump's actions were documented in other books I've read about Trump.  This book, however, gives some NEW insights.  I'd never before read about Trump's attempts to dismantle the Veterans Administration.  Trump "wanted to push veterans into the private healthcare marketplace, a move that would potentially have left millions of vets out in the cold or abandoned amid a monumental bureaucratic transition. The White House ignored the warnings of medical personnel and agency leaders."  Another quote from the book:
"He [Trump] held off on 'gutting' the VA until he could win reelection. 'Trump talked about veterans, veterans, veterans,' one former VA leader commented. 'But at the end of the day, he thinks they are lazy malingerers.' In a second term, the former official speculated, a MAGA White House 'wouldn’t care about flipping them out on the street."”
I think this will be the last book I'll ever read about Trump (unless someone someday writes a book about Trump's years in prison).

© 2023 by Ed Lake