Thursday, March 30, 2017

Body Language

I've been on YouTube, looking at footage of Obama signing executive orders, and I haven't seen any yet where he holds an order up after he signs it, the way Trump does.

Have any US Presidents held up signed orders like this?

What is Trump saying with this sort of gesture?

Maybe he's saying,

"Look at me, I'm a big boy, I wrote my name all by myself!"

In all seriousness -- I think that might be the explanation. Or maybe he's saying,

"Remember how I campaigned saying that Obama was a tyrant because of the number of executive orders he signed? Ha, ha! I can't believe you bought all of my bullshit. I can't believe you all voted for me. You're such losers. You're so pathetic. Sad. My hands are big."

That would be a logical reaction to his voters, but it would also mean that he can remember things he said months ago during the campaign, and there's very little evidence that he can remember what he says from one minute to the next, or that he cares if he does remember.

I'm so tired of this clown.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Will She Still Feel Harrassed If She's Ready For Clover?

"Will she still feel harassed if she's ready for clover?"

43 years long, that's what the first line of the song sounded like to me. As the decades passed, I began to doubt more and more that what it sounded like to me was actually the first line of the song, "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers:

But still, up until a couple of minutes ago, that was what it still sounded like to me. It took me about 5 seconds on the Inter Tubes (it's a vast network of tubes) to find out that the first line of the song actually is:

"Well, I built me a raft and she's ready for floatin'"

That makes much more sense and is much less disturbing than what it had sounded like to me for 43 years. The dude's not harassing women, he's building rafts.

It was so easy for me to correct my error there. But it's so hard to talk sense with people who are taken in by fake news. They've got exactly the same Internet at their disposal as I, but they believe that Obama supports ISIS, that political correctness supports something they call "Muslim rape culture," and that Hillary Clinton... has done some horrible things. I've never encountered any other beliefs which were both so widespread and so vague as whatever it is that all of those people who think Hillary is so horrible think she did.

Mistaken beliefs which ought to be as easy to dispel as my former impression that the lead singer of the Doobie Brothers hoped that some woman would no longer feel harassed, now that she was ready for clover -- whatever it meant to be ready for clover.

I don't like it when mainstream journalists maintain that we -- by "we" I mean intelligent people -- should have more understanding for all of those tens of millions of white folks who voted for Trump. I understand them perfectly well: they're stupid. Very stupid. As stupid as it would have been for me to insist all day long, day after day, forever, until the end of my incredibly stupid life, that the Doobie Brothers' song "Black Water" refers to a woman who may or may not now still feel harassed, now that she is ready for clover, instead of going to the trouble of learning what the first line of the song really is. "Will she still feel harassed if she's ready for clover?" -- that's how stupid those tens of millions of people are, and us pretending they're not stupid is not going to make them more intelligent, and it's certainly not going to help us out of our current political predicament. Nobody had any intelligent reason to vote for Trump, that's the truth, and the truth might set us free if we say it openly and honestly enough.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Be Very Afraid: We Are Already At the Mercy Of AI

If, that is, AI has any mercy at all.

You want proof? Here's proof, from today, that AI is already far ahead of us. Today, a computer, a machine, made this translation from Croatian to English:

"One famous German Der Spiegel told me quite a long week Commons Balkans. Now as to what would be the message, my loved ones, but that they do not they are willing to share with his neighbor: :: it's barely 48 hours later I was already contacted me for the first time the German and in the office of Der Spiegel and The expansion the muscle dijasporski Croat need to be trained to Croatia, with the part of the Balkans is no exception. No matter what the LOST theme incidentally designating the view that because of lot of problems sofisticiranijim Croatia in one direction or carrots just as some dismay that I express Croatian-German author solidarnom poured out of the Balkans in the case that the symbolic true meaning of its ( of course it is much harder to define). I'm trying here to read this e-mail, and remember how to describe them: Chestnut Scallion in one hand and a cigarette in the other pocket ... and a piece of lamb. Of course Mitteleuropa uljudjeni. Since writing this I agreed that Croatia Mitteleuropa, so he used the Latin Congress. , But today, as some Congress are pretty stupid. And I decide to check Jurich pavicic. He says that a Jurica jugonostalgičar. I just got a beautiful smile. Chestnuts, now song dedicated to him."

Now there's absolutely no way that a human could have done that!

Just keep this in mind:

Trump threatened the results if they will feel bad with the Republican and the GOP Obamacare and then clear the host Senators, senator. (News flash: Republicans are set to replace the current laws.)

What effect? The question I wonder if the Republicans smart. Rating trumpet sound, and 37% declines. According to the survey, only 3% of the voting sorry for him. I think it can look too much force. This is equally great, and how you and the people who complain they voted in 2016 to establish a presidential election Frank J. Garrod, Cicero, or someone else, for Hilary did not vote? More than 110 million votes to vote to vote 4,489,221 Cicero, Stein elected 1,457,216, and 1,884,459 elected Trump, Hillary, Frank J. Wilstach and general. This is the 117,830,896, than those who did not vote for Trump or on behalf of Hilary 's. What is your opinion of Trump? Do you vote for the future? Perhaps something could be missed, but it can not hurt the Republican Democrats, especially bad news near the end of Trump number of Republicans invent. Feel my skills, donkey donkey donkey donkey!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More Than 30 People Are following Me On Instagram

I did not expect this. I only joined Instagram so that I could perv out on Ariel Winter's butt. I kept seeing headlines about how Ariel Winter had posted more pictures of her butt on Instagram. Usually I was able to ignore these headlines. When I wasn't able, the link often didn't even contain one of the pictures of Ms Winter's butt, or if it did I would've had to go through an enormously long webpage and/or Clickthrough Hell to see it.(In a thong. Not actually completely nude.)

Turns out that I'd already seen just about all of Ms Winter's Instagram pictures of her own butt, before joining Instagram. Apparently the Internet, or at least the part of the Internet which caters to old pervs such as myself, goes completely bonkers every time she posts one of those.

So I got an email from Instagram today mentioning that 30-something people -- that is: more than 30 people, not people who are 30 years old or older, although I imagine most of them are -- were following me on Instagram. That email, besides encouraging me to inform Instagram that I didn't want any more emails from them, also maybe me think that I should actually give my Instagram followers something to follow. And so, I thought I'd post this photo on Instagram --

-- along with the photo description: "This is my Seiko 5. There are many like it but this one is mine." I thought that maybe you, my Instagram followers, would get a kick out of that. (I love my Seiko 5.) However, I can't figure out how to post anything on Instagram. Unless I have figured it out, and I need to download the I-Tunes app so that I can download the Instagram app, and even then I'll only be able to Instagram with my phone and not with my PC at all.

I'm on my PC right now -- my laptop, that is -- and not on my phone or other mobile device. Almost always when I'm online, I'm on my PC and not my phone, except for sometimes when I'm just checking my e-mail. Old, dogs, new tricks, apps, pains in the ass, you know what I mean?

Well, as long as I'm here, I might as well tell you the latest about Grand Seiko. Grand Seiko are top-end watches made by Seiko. The best stuff that Seiko makes. For a long time they were only sold in Japan, and it was very difficult for people in other parts of the world to obtain them. This made Grand Seiko like a real watch-connoisseur insider sort of dealie. But the word got around and they started to sell worldwide. And apparently now Seiko is going to actively market Grand Seiko watches worldwide. And along with their decision to so so comes the latest news, publicized at Baselworld 2017 and whatnot:

Whereas up until now, Grand Seiko watches had the regular Seiko logo at 12 o'clock, and the Grand Seiko name at 6 o'clock, like so:

-- from now on, they will only have the Grand Seiko logo, at 12 o'clock, and they won't have the regular Seiko logo at all anymore. Like so:

So now you know. And let's be honest: do you get that sort of thing from Instagram? You know what? I bet that if you like Seikos and you use Instagram, that's EXACTLY the sort of thing you get from Instagram.

So nevermind.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I've learned a fair amount about watches I can't afford: mostly made in Switzerland, although not in every case; and mostly selling for over $1000, although it may be that recently, increased competition by a huge number of new brands, most of them Swiss too, is driving down the cost of what you can legitimately call a top-end item. Or perhaps that is not the case, and all of these watches which have caught my eye recently and which sell for 3 figures -- still out of my price range -- are not really in the same class with the other stuff. I'm still learning.

If you want an example of a good watch in my price range: this is my Seiko 5:

There are many others like it but this one is mine. While one may not actually be able to call it a luxury watch, still, it, and by "it" I mean the particular Seiko 5 which I own, the one in these pictures, which cost me around $55 including tax, may just be the very coolest watch in the world. I love my Seiko 5.

I've learned that if I click on "suggested posts" on Facebook (ads which are positioned to make them look as if they were actual posts written by people), I will get to see more "suggested posts" of the same sort.

I used to comment on some of these "suggested posts" which advertise fine watches, and click on the links, taking me to ads from Omega or Jaeger-Lecoultre or whom have you. But lately I've gotten aggravated by many of the comments from other Facebook users: seems sometimes like most of the comments are either asking how much the item in the ad costs (If you can't find that out for yourself with 2 mouse clicks or so, it's probably not for sale) or complaining about how much the item costs. It's really getting old. I'm hoping that I'll still get these "suggested posts" from makers of fine watches if I just click on the ads and ignore the comments altogether. Maybe I'll get better "suggested posts," because the watchmakers will respect me for ignoring all of the comments.

Right now, both the 2017 Leipzig Book Fair and Baselworld 2017 are happening. The Leipzig Book Fair is one of the world's premier trade gatherings for book publishers; Baselworld is the main trade show or trade fair for Swiss (and other) watches. I've been interested in the Leipzig Book Fair since before 1990 when it was overshadowed by the Frankfurt book Fair. This is the first time that I've been aware of a Baselworld while it is actually happening.

Surely it's just a coincidence that the Leipzig book Fair and Baselworld are happening at the same time? They're not INTENTIONALLY keeping literati and watch snobs separate, are they?

I don't think I've ever been in a trade show except for an auto show or two when I was a small child, in a time when metal-flake paint was new and exotic.

I suppose it's just possible, if I continue to learn more and more about watches, and if I manage to write about what I learn in a less-than-utterly-senseless way, that I may one day actually attend Baselworld as the official, paid and expense-accounted correspondent and official watch snob of Cosmopolitan or the Detroit Free Press or Hot Rod or some other fine publication. Stranger things have happened -- to me personally. Maybe I shall become the first official Baselworld correspondent of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

They Still Can't Do Math

The problem with Bernie Sanders' fans, in a nutshell, is that they're idiots. In an election post-mortem started yesterday, one of them stated, "The 3rd-party votes weren't enough to make a difference in any states, even if all of them had gone for Hillary." This got a lot of applause and no contradiction at all from other Bernie People. In other words, they're still not even close to being able to do the math. They are impaired.

Trump carried 30 states and won 304 electoral votes; Hillary carried 20 states plus the District of Columbia, and won 227 electoral votes.

Of the 30 states Trump won:

* He got 1,252,401 votes in Arizona and Hillary got 1,161,167, a difference of 91,234, less than the 106,327 Johnson got.

* He got 4,617,886 votes in Florida and Hillary got 4,504,975, a difference of 112,911, barely half of Johnson's 207,043.

* He got 2,279,543 votes in Michigan and Hillary got 2,268,839, a difference of 10,704, about 1/5 of Stein's 51,463.

* He got 2,970,733 votes in Pennsylvania and Hillary got 2,926,441, a difference of 44,292, less than Stein's 49,941.

* He got 1,405,284 votes in Wisconsin and Hillary got 1,382,536, a difference of 22,748, less than Stein's 31,072.

In none of those 5 states did I even need to consider both Johnson's votes or Stein's. One or the other was greater than Trump's margin of victory over Hillary. All together, those 5 states have 86 electoral votes, meaning that if Hillary had taken them all, she would have had 313 electoral votes to Trump's 218, and we would be busy working toward Hillary's goal of 500 million solar panels nationwide within a few years and strengthening the social safety net and pushing harder for equal pay for women and ethnic minorities, instead of wondering when enough Republican lawmakers will finally find a bit of decency and/or shame and/or sanity within themselves, so that we can impeach Trump and remove him from office. I also didn't need to consider the 111,850 people nationwide who wrote in Bernie, the 731,788 votes for Evan McMullin, the 203,010 for Darrell Castle, the 74,392 for Gloria La Riva or the 763,419 votes for others. If all of the 3rd party votes had gone for Hillary, it might well have swung more than 5 states.

And then there are the approximately 110 million people who had the right to vote but didn't. That's something to look into as well, those 110 million folks.

At least 2 things are abundantly clear: 1), in the 2016 Presidential election, 3rd-party and independent candidates most certainly did make a difference; and 2), the idiots who think they didn't make a difference in any states won't be convinced otherwise by this blog post.

Okay: maybe out of all of those millions of idiots, a handful might actually suddenly understand, because of this post. It's possible. By and large, however, they are math-proof. Concepts which seem so elementary to some of us -- such as that in a winner-take-all system, in an election where 2 candidates are far, far ahead of all of the others, you should vote for 1 of the 2 leading candidates if you can see any difference at all between them, because if you don't might get stuck with the one you like less, and that there is a huge difference between our horrendous mess of an election system and the system of proportional representation most countries are fortunate enough to have, where not voting for one of the 2 leading candidates actually does not always equal throwing your vote away, and where the Green Party is not a horrible joke -- concepts like that are beyond them. Over their dear pointy heads.

We're not going to get the votes of people who can't do math, with math. We're going to have to get their votes some other way.

Maybe if we consult psychologists who deal with infants and toddlers for a living. Ask them how the tykes are best persuaded to stop throwing their poop. Other than that, right now I got nothing.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump Is Threatening GOP Lawmakers

Trump is threatening Republican Congresspeople and Senators with consequences if they don't pass the messed-up GOP replacement for Obamacare, and pronto. (News flash: the Republican repeal-and-replace bill is going nowhere pronto.)

What consequences? That's the question those Republicans are asking themselves if they're smart, I think. Trump's approval rating is 37% and dropping. One poll says that only 3% of Trump voters regret voting for him. But I think people may be giving that poll too much weight. I think that questions which are equally important, or more, are: how many people who didn't vote in the 2016 Presidential election, or voted for Stein or Johnson or someone else, now regret not voting for Hillary? Over 110 million people eligible to vote didn't vote, and Johnson got 4,489,221 votes, Stein 1,457,216, and 1,884,459 votes were cast for someone other than Trump, Hillary, Stein or Johnson. That's over 117,830,896 people who didn't vote for either Trump or Hillary. What do they think of Trump? how will they be voting in the future? Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't imagine how the numbers add up to anything but good news for Democrats and bad news for Republicans, and especially bad news for Trump and those Republicans seen as especially close to Trump.

Let me repeat that Trump's approval rating is 37% and dropping. The Presidency of the United States is the brightest spotlight in the history of the human race so far, it's the position which gives its occupant less room to hide than any other, and although Donald has his niche, the more that humanity in general gets a good look at him, the less they like what they see.

Most of the Republican Congresspeople and Senators who are not with Trump and Ryan on this health care bill are from districts and states which were either close in the Presidential election or went for Hillary. For those politicians, it may be worse for them if Trump supports them than if he doesn't.

The special election for Georgia's 6th congressional district will be held on April 18, to fill the seat vacated by Tom Price, who resigned to become Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services. A lot of politicians are watching this special election very carefully. The 6th district has been Republican since 1979, since Newt Gingrich won the first of his 10 consecutive terms there from 1979 to 1999. A lot of those Republican wins since Newt won his first term have been quite lopsided. The 6th district in Georgia has been considered a very safe seat for the Republicans. But Donald Trump has a way if changing things. It looks quite possible that a Democrat, John Ossoff, could win the special election in April, despite the GOP spending a huge amount of money to try to keep the seat. If Ossoff wins, or even if he come close to winning, it could be seen as one more sign that Republican politicians don't need to feel threatened by Trump, except in the sense that being closely associated with him could hurt them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Update On My Struggle With Advanced Math

I got a book on Fourier series because I liked the way the cover looked.

Yesterday I started reading David Bohm's Quantum Theory and was encouraged by his assertion in the Preface that his approach de-emphasized a dependency on advanced math. But then on page 1 of Chapter 1 he mentions that, despite this approach, some familiarity with Fourier series cannot be avoided in order to understand the book. Then before he got to the Fourier series there was what seemed to me to be an awful lot of complex math for someone who was de-emphasizing math. For all I know it might have been a great de-emphasis indeed for a textbook on quantum theory.

My point is that I still hate math and that that is still hampering my study about things like electromagnetic fields and waves and quantum theory. Perhaps it's in part that 55 is a very advanced age to pick up mathematical studies which one broke off in the 10th grade. I think I know now what that capital sigma means in mathematical... equations. I don't know whether "equations" is the right term for all that weird stuff which Good Will Hunting and famous physicians scribble all over their blackboards.

I've been thinking lately about various math teachers of mine. I got along well with all of them. Maybe that had more to do with my talent than my personality. All of them were disappointed when they saw that I wasn't planning on an extensive career in mathematics. I feel bad about disappointing them. But such a career was never a serious possibility. There's only so far you can do, hating what you do. I imagine that successful mathematicians and physicists, when they see one of those blackboards covered with all of those squiggles, or a difficult paper or book on Fourier series or quantum theory or what have you, feel something somewhat like what I feel looking at an ancient text or a commentary on that text: intense interest, a strong desire to immerse myself in the subject at hand. I can't imagine that a person could get very far on ability alone, unaccompanied by a love for the subject.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Shaq Said The Earth Is Flat [PS: He Was Joking]

Some of the leading thinkers of Western civilization over the past two and a half thousand years, and their opinions about the shape of the Earth.

Shaquille O'Neal has a podcast. Apparently it doesn't have a huge following, but all of a sudden it's getting a lot of attention, because someone noticed that back on the 27th of February, on his podcast, Shaq said:

“It’s true. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind — what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but when he got there, there were some fair-skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America. So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this s*** is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity, have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat.”

Some are assuming he's serious, some wonder whether he's joking. Earlier in February, Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Kyrie Irving publicly announced that he believes the Earth is flat. As with Shaq, opinion is divided over whether Irving is serious or if he's just messing with people's heads.

Given the magnitude of Shaq's fame and his prominence on TV as a basketball analyst, I'm assuming that either we're going to be hearing a lot more about this or we're going to be seeing a lot less of Shaq. He has a BA from LSU, an MBA from Phoenix University and a Doctorate in Human Resource Development from Barry University. Will any of those 3 institutions have anything to say about this?

[PS, 23. June 2017: Shaq was joking]

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Enda Kenny Spoke For Americans Yesterday

I hadn't noticed, until yesterday, that it's traditional for the Prime Minister of Ireland to visit the US on St Patrick's Day. Someone recently pointed out that when a democracy is functioning properly, one of the luxuries it affords is that you don't have to pay very much attention to it. People are paying much closer attention since Nov 8, and much closer still since Jan 20, and we will until Trump is out of office. So anyway, yesterday, St Patrick's Day, Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland visited the US, and I noticed for the first time that this St Patrick's Day visit is traditional. I'm still trying to find out how many years back this tradition goes. Yesterday, with El Cheeto Grande standing nearby, Enda Kenny said:

"It's fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He too, of course, was an immigrant. And though he is of course the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he's also the symbol of, indeed the patron of, immigrants.

"Here in America, in your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years.

"Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, and four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore.

"We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came, and we became Americans.

"We lived the words of John F. Kennedy, long before he uttered them. We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America, and we still do."

I don't know how people back in Ireland felt when they heard or read these words. I do know that many Americans feel very grateful to Kenny for saying what he did when and where he said it. And today I had a little epiphany: it just occurred to me that these days, Kenny, and many other leaders around the world, are speaking for us, for Americans, because our President currently is not.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Where Did The NY Times Say Obama Wiretapped Trump?

We all know by now that Trump has no evidence that Obama wiretapped him. He says he got that idea by reading about it in the New York Times around January 20.

If Trump had said that he'd read about it on the Breitbart website or heard it on Fox News, I wouldn't be so skeptical. But he said he read about it in the New York Times.

I want to see that allegation of wiretapping in the NYT.

Of course I don't believe that there was any such allegation in the NYT. But I want to see reporters rub Trump's nose in that a bit more: "Mr Spicer, where exactly is that passage about wiretapping in the Times? So that we can all see for ourselves just exactly what it was that the President read, that gave him the idea about the wiretapping, that nobody else in the world noticed, with millions of people reading the Times, and who knows how many other news outlets regularly quoting the Times? Where exactly is that passage in the Times from on or around January 20, Mr Spicer?"

No evidence of the wiretapping, Mr President. No evidence of the existence of the thing you say you read that made you think the wiretapping happened. No evidence that the truth is in you. No evidence of whether or not you can see how many of us can see that you lie all the time. No evidence of whether or not you even know you're lying. Sad.

PS, 16 Mar 2017: Okay, there actually is a NYT story from 19 Jan about wiretapping. The problem is, it says: It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. That's the "evidence" behind Donald's tweet: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" No, Mr President: this is farce.

Glad We Got That Cleared Up

The International Business Times yesterday:

Over half of Americans approved of President Donald Trump’s performance in mid-March. That was the first time since Trump’s inauguration in January that the majority of Americans approved of his job performance — albeit, a narrow majority of 52 percent. About 43 percent of American voters did not approve of Trump’s job performance, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO poll conducted from March 9 through 13 and published Wednesday morning.

The International Business Times UK yesterday:

US President Donald Trump's approval rating has dropped by five points, according to a recent poll.

The survey, by Fox News, found 51% of people polled disapprove of the president, while 43% of people approve.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I Thought I Was Picking Up S P Oakley's Commentary On Livy Books VI-X

I thought that was what I had ordered via inter-library loan. However, what I picked up from the local branch of the public library was Volume I of that commentary,

published in 1997, containing an introduction to all 5 books, VI-X, and Oakley's commentary on book VI. I had assumed that Oakley's commentary on all 5 books, VI-X, would be contained in one, medium sized, volume. The Preface to volume I begins with Oakley saying that volume II, covering books VII-VIII, was already in the press (it appeared in 1999), and that volume III would cover books IX-X. Actually, volume III, published in 2007, covered book IX, and there was a volume IV, published in 2009, for book X.

The volume before us, volume I, is not medium-sized, it is large, over 800 pages. Over 300 of those pages contain the introduction to all 5 books, VI-X, and less than 350 contain the actual commentary to book VI, which is proceeded by 50 pages of historical introduction to book VI (distinct from those 300 pages of general introduction to books VI-X) and followed by appendices, a bibliography and indices.

I know that my habit of posting about books which I have just gotten and haven't read yet must be maddening to some of my readers, who expect a review of an entire book which I have already read. In my defense I will just say that there are critics who are paid, quite handsomely paid in some cases, to deliver reviews of books which they have read, and who publish things which pretend to be such reviews, but they haven't actually read the books yet, and, quite unlike me, probably never will.

You want me to provide evidence for this bold and slanderous statement? This book,

an heroic act of public service, is an excellent place to start collecting that evidence. (And yes, I've read it cover to cover.)

I'm sure that the dry tone of this post so far has not adequately conveyed it, but I am excited to have before me this vol I of Oakley's commentary. I'm especially looking forward to an exhaustive discussion of the manuscripts of books VI-X, which covers well over half of those 300 pages of general introduction. (I quote from p 153: "There are at least 195 mss of L's first decade.") (Livy's "first decade" is books 1-10, i to X, of the 142 books of his history of Rome.) (Of those 195, "twenty-four predate the thirteenth century." ibid.) To those who share my inclinations, I know I don't have to explain this excitement. To those who don't, I don't know how to explain it. Maybe some lay readers of my blog have gradually come to share my interest in manuscripts of ancient Latin texts, if they've read many or all of my numerous posts on the subject. Maybe not. (The bibliography cites 8 items by Billanovich and 11 by Reeve! Yay!)

It's amazing to me how recent it was that such commentaries held no interest for me, even though I was very interested in Livy. It was simple ignorance: I had no idea, really, what such commentaries are.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Am A Tiny Kitten

Clearly, some people don't see this. Some call me "Big Dog," but in reality, all stretched out in a catlike stretch, front paws to back paws, I'm barely as long as a big dog's paws are wide. When I meow it's barely audible, that's how small I am. In a strong person's hands I'm featherlike. I'm just saying, please keep in mind how fragile I am. I'm helpless. I'm at your mercy. I hope you have some.

Like all cats, I am an alien from outer space. So there's the answer to that question: No, you are not alone. We are among you and we are friendly. We mean you no harm. Take me to your leader -- no, wait, don't do that right now. Impeach your leader and remove him from office. Then I'll wait for the other guy to serve out the rest of the four years and have his party get trounced in the elections. Then, take me to your black lesbian wheelchair-bound Communist leader, the one who will convert the US to over 80% solar and wind power in her first 3 months in office, triple taxes on millionaires and give guaranteed incomes to the (up-until-then) poor. That's the leader I want you to take me to, not this scary clown. Wow, I'm tired of him. Surely even Republicans will eventually be tired of him. How many are waking up and going, "Hey... ?!" right at this minute, as it begins to penetrate their thick skulls how badly they're being shafted? How many are shafters rather than shaft-ees, and were never really fooled, but are beginning to feel a strange, uncomfortable emotion creeping over them? (The emotion is what you and I would call "shame." They've been unfamiliar with it until now.)

We're not ultra-intelligent, we're not judging you and testing you and reporting back to some inter-galactic council. In fact, we crash-landed on Earth a long time ago and have completely forgotten how we made our spacecraft. Sorry. Except for being cute I guess we're pretty useless. But we're very cute, let's face it, I'm just saying.

Meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow. Meow meow. I'm just a tiny little kitten.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Are More People Studying Electricity?

I was wondering about that even before this power outage started 4 days ago, on the 8th of March, 2017. DTE, the electric and gas utility I use, says that over 650,000 accounts were affected by the outage, which coincided with a severe cold spell, that most of them have had their power restored and that I will be one of the 90% to get the juice turned back on before midnight tonight. I wonder whether that estimate is accurate in my individual case. I wonder what it's going to be like for the last 10% to get their power back.

I was thinking about electricity before Wednesday morning when my electricity went out, and studying books such as Rojansky's Electromagnetic Fields and Waves, because I hope and believe that, Trump, Putin and the Koch brothers be damned, we are on the verge of a huge transformation away from fossil fuels and toward electricity generated by solar, wind and other green energy. I've mentioned before in this blog how I'm taking another one of my stabs at advanced math. Studying electricity, and physics, is part of that stab.

Since Wednesday morning I've been wondering things like, How much suffering would have been alleviated if more people here in the Detroit area had solar panels on their roofs, and, What actually is up with these smart grids one hears about in the news, and just exactly how smart or stupid are our grids around here? And, Will more people study electricity as a direct result of this outage? Surely some will. How many have already begun?

What, if anything, could I have done better since Wednesday if I had been an expert on the subject of electricity?

A few years ago DTE switched me over to a smart meter. Among other things, this means I, or anyone else with a smart meter, don't have to phone in a power outage because as soon as my power goes out, DTE already knows it.

Or so they say. I have no reason to suspect mendacity on DTE's part, but the truth is that I still know very little about electricity, and so I have little means of judging public or private statements about it.

I'm 55 years old. If you're shaking your head and muttering something like, "Starting to learn about electricity when he's 55?" -- meh. I'm not claiming yet to have actually learned anything. But Izzy Stone, one of my heroes,

started studying ancient Greek in his 60's and Hungarian after age 80. When I grow weary I just think of Izzy and my strength returns. I also haven't stopped doing push-ups and crunches every day, but Izzy has less to do with that directly. I don't happen to know what his exercise regime was like, or if he had one at all.

I'm also wondering: has President Chump said anything publicly at all about this power outage? I mean, I haven't noticed the National Guard in town handing out blankets and hot soup.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mystery Blog Post #1

(In this post I'm only going to give you part of the story. In this case, for "Mystery Blog Post #1," the part I'm giving you is a list of 25 kinds of people. That's all, just the list. I might do a "Mystery Blog Post #2" some time with a different sort of mystery, and a "Mystery Blog Post #3," and so forth, or I might not. Some of you might find this interesting, or you might not. I might tell if you guess the rest of the story, or tell you if your guess is warm or cold; I probably won't. Some of your incorrect guesses might be much more interesting than what I had in mind... yeah, some of them probably will be.)

1) Architects
2) Painters
3) Sculptors
4) Watch manufacturers
5) Basketball players
6) Auto manufacturers
7) Novelists
8) Hedge fund managers
9) Racing drivers
10) Fashion designers
11) Shipbuilders
12) Restaurateurs
13) Magazine publishers
14) Construction contractors
15) Lawyers
16) IT CEO's
17) Physicians
18) Actors
19) Footballers (soccer players)
20) Shoe manufacturers
21) Airline executives
22) Ranchers
23) Musicians
24) Vintners
25) Casino owners

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Things Upon Which A Lot Of Money Is Spent

Spending which some people can't understand.


Large sculptures:

Biblical manuscripts (there's some overlap with archaeology here) :

The Large Hadron Collider:

Food stamps:

And many more examples could be given, of things which upset some people because so much money is spent on them.

The thing is: the number of people who are upset about one or more of these cases of spending is probably much smaller than the number who are upset about all of them. Take each one of those things. Take somebody who is angry because so much money is spent on them. In each one of those cases, you could find somebody else who knows a lot about the thing upon which the money is spent, who could explain to the other person all of the good things about that thing.

Hopefully you're way ahead of me and talking to each other already. But if one of the things I've mentioned above really burns you up because so much money is spent on it, I bet that if you found an expert on that one thing and were quiet for a little while and listened to the expert talk about the thing, you might be amazed at how much it affects your attitude, and how much you learn, and how interesting it is, and how in many cases the money is going much further than you thought and maybe even it's admirable how far they've managed to stretch a buck, and just maybe you won't be so angry anymore.

And it certainly goes the other way around too: between all of those things, I'm sure that many of you are pretty knowledgeable about at least one, and could really affect the thinking of someone who's currently very angry about that one thing because they think it's a waste. So many of us have so much to teach so many others. Don't you agree?

Or maybe I'm just living in a dream world.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tips For Modern Living: Kray-Zee Tweets

Notice how there was absolutely no need for anyone to ask, "kray-zee tweets by whom, Perfessor?" Notice how often people can and do denounce the present President, and there's not the slightest need for anyone to doubt for a moment that they're talking about him.

We know how bad the situation is. We just need to take a deep breath and deal with it. I'm looking at you, Republicans. Or do you actually want him to keep dragging you down with him?

Here's a pretty good rule of thumb: anytime Donald accuses anyone of anything, just assume, until exhaustively proven otherwise, that whoever's he accused is perfectly innocent of the charge, and that he or someone in his inner circle has recently done something in the same vein except much worse. I'm totally serious. And stop calling me Shirley.

He says Benghazi? I say Yemen. He says drain the swamp? I say he's the biggest alligator. He says the Dems are engaging in a witch hunt over Sessions? I say Benghazi again, and Hillary's email server, and secret Kenyan Muslims, and Democratic voter fraud, and murderous Mexicans, and that travel ban. He says fake news? I say the King of fake news is his senior advisor. He says crooked Hillary? I say it's amazing how well the Right has been able to smear that good and decent woman, and by the way, Trump is a lying, frauding, groping piece of shit. Crooked as they come, and you Republicans? You know it. Trump says voter fraud? I say when the Hell is the investigation into Putin and the 2016 election going to get underway in the way it ought?

He says he loves Latinos, or blacks, or LGBT's, or anyone at all? I say, if God existed, Trump would've disappeared in a flash of lightning and black smoke long ago, just for the lies, nevermind the countless cases of fraud and sexual assault.

"As Featured In"

I still don't know exactly what "as featured in" means, but I'm pretty sure there are few phrases which mean less.

About 144,000,000 results (1.19 seconds)
No results found for "what does as featured in mean".
Results for what does as featured in mean (without quotes):

The first few results which were found don't help much.

What I'm talking about is ads like this:

Experience our shamelessly-overpriced-at-$100, brass-plated, inaccurate and undependable quartz-powered disposable watch, as featured in House & Garden.

Ads plugging some obviously cheap and fake imitation of something better, "as featured in" some publication aimed at a market much too upscale for it.

2 possibilities occur to me about what "as featured in" might mean: 1) The watch was advertised in House & Garden, quite possibly with an equally-empty boast about how it had been "featured in" some other upscale rag; or 2) It's quite simply a shameless lie: there has never been any connection between this cheap brass-plated piece of failure and House & Garden, and the people who made the watch are betting that the people at House & Garden will either never hear about the lie, or not care.

(Btw, I'm sorry to have learned that House & Garden has not been published in the US since 2007.)

Enthusiastic supporters of capitalism are eager to talk about things such as IBM, Warren Buffet and General Motors, and less eager to talk about Donald Trump, the AIDS medication douchebag, homelessness, junk mail, and junk products "as featured in" this or that place. Let alone the relationships between the former and the latter. Gung-ho capitalists talk about how capitalism rewards hard work, integrity, dependability and other fine things, and in some cases, it has; but in many other cases it has rewarded entirely different things, such as naked greed, ruthlessness, indifference to people's or animals' health and well-being, deviousness, and having been born rich.

Some people say that capitalism has triumphed, others, that capitalism has failed. Some say that socialism has failed; others, that its triumph is inevitable. There is very, very little which I regard as inevitable. Also, where many or most others see black and white, I see grey, perhaps because I am less focused on how I believe things should be and more focused on finding out, as well as I can, how things actually are. I think that what we have now in the large state-run economies of the world, and have had since well before Adam Smith, is a mixture of capitalism and socialism. I think that less capitalism and more socialism would be a fine thing. But I don't think that more socialism can be imposed upon people against their will. I believe that, unfortunately, there is a widespread tendency to unquestioningly accept capitalist propaganda -- to the point that people will giggle when I say something which isn't funny like "capitalist propaganda." The fact that they giggle is one example of how successful capitalist propaganda has been.

Still, perhaps things like the 2007-2008 worldwide economic disaster and the disaster of the Trump administration are encouraging more people to think more deeply about economics. One issue where my attitude is close to black-and-white is education. I firmly believe it's a good thing. Remember how during the Presidential campaign Trump said he loved the poorly educated. Hopefully it's becoming more clear to more people that that love is not that of a shepherd for his sheep, but that of someone looking to shear the sheep and sell the wool for exorbitant profits, not to mention selling cheap brass-plated piece-of-junk watches to rubes for 20 times more than the most they could possibly be worth.