Thursday, May 16, 2024

Flat Earth Believers

I was going to write about and show one of my pictures from last Friday when the Northern Lights were, for the first time in my life, actually overhead. But it seems everyone north of Florida saw them and posted pictures on Facebook. So I'll talk about something else today.

Somehow I found this group on Facebook that had the title "Flat Earth Official." Later it changed its name to "Don’t be fecking stupid, of course Earth’s not flat" That didn't seem to discourage the flat earth zealots.

What amazes me is that these people believe the Earth is flat despite all the evidence to the contrary. You show them a picture of the Earth and they'll say it's fake. Or a "cartoon." You point out that NASA had pictures of a globe Earth in the 1960s and they'll say NASA had CGI then. And, of course, they think the Moon landing was faked because the Moon is "local" and some sort of light source. They don't seem quite sure about that. They don't

understand gravity ("It's just a theory"/"It's magical"). They don't understand orbits. They say density makes things fall down. They think south is equivalent to "down" as if there's up and down in space. They post the picture at right saying all water would go down to the south if we lived on a globe.

One even said he went to Australia and nothing was upside down so therefore the Earth is flat.

I don't know why it frustrates me so much. I guess I'm annoyed at the ignorance. They will point out that there's no stars in space pictures. You try to explain why (because of how cameras work) and they say you're lying. I've never seen such pig-headed people. Well, except some political types.

And the wonders they are denying themselves. They say the pictures the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes are fake. They say space probes are fake. They deny the wonders of the universe that are both beautiful and sometimes frightening.

I tried to leave the group, but I was sucked back in by the sheer ignorance displayed. 

Oh, and the scary news, it has 126,700 members last I looked (and growing). Some of those, like me, are not flat earth believers. But I bet most of them are. I finally had to leave the group for good. It was making me angry to encounter such willful ignorance. But now flat earthers are invading other Facebook groups, such as the one for the James Web Space Telescope. Very annoying and frustrating.

I wonder what they thought of the aurora borealis. How do they explain away that?

Have you ran into flat Earth believers? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Okay, here's a Northern Lights picture that I took last Friday:

Thursday, May 9, 2024

National Parks

Glacier National Park (photo by me)
For some reason the other day I started counting the National Parks (in the US) I've visited. I think I've visited four in Canada: Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Waterton Lakes. 

All the parks I've visited are in the west part of the US. Probably because I live in the west part of the US.

The park I've visited most is Yellowstone. I lived less than 200 miles from it as a kid and we went there every year, at least. TIP: Go after Labor Day and before it snows. It's much less crowded. Yellowstone is mostly in the north-west corner of Wyoming but a bit of it leaks into Idaho and Montana.

Just south of Yellowstone is Grand Teton. The main attraction there is the Teton Range and the three mountains of the Tetons.

I've only been to Glacier once. It's in northern Montana and a long ways from everything. But it's worth the trip. It's gorgeous and the old hotels (built by the railroad) are amazing. 

In Washington State (where I now live), I've been to Mount Rainier once. That despite living close to it (I can see the mountain from my house on a clear day).  Someday I'd like to visit the Olympic National Park in western Washington and the North Cascades National Park in northern Washington State.

In Oregon I've been to Crater Lake. The lake is very pretty but there's not much to do there unless you like to hike.

In California, I have been to many national parks. The absolute best was Yosemite. It definitely lives up to the hype. But I've also been to Pinnacles (which is not very well known but interesting as the San Andres Fault runs right through it). I've also been to Sequoia and Kings Canyon and Redwoods National Parks.  Redwood trees are amazing for their size. And Sequoia trees are even bigger!

In Utah, I've been to a lot of parks, too. First was Arches. Amazing place. Next door to it is Canyonlands. I've also been to Bryce Canyon (another amazing spot) and Zion.

And finally, the grandaddy of them all: The Grand Canyon in Arizona. If you've never been there, it'll blow you away

So that's 14 national parks I've been to in seven western states. (I'm ignoring monuments such as Craters of the Moon and Devil's Tower.)

I've also been to Gettysburg National Military Park. Not sure that counts. If it does, it's the only national park I've been to that's east of the Rocky Mountains.

For more pictures of Glacier National Park, go here and here.

How many national parks have you been to? What was your favorite. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

3 Body Problem Review

 I recently watched 3 Body Problem on Netflix. And, wow, what a great show. My sole disappointment was that it was only ten episodes and it ended on a cliffhanger. I believe it covered the events in the first book it's based on. There are four books in the series so maybe there will be four seasons.

The show starts with the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s. It's a scary scene as it is so reminiscent of what happens on college campuses if someone who's not woke enough (in the eyes of the students) tries to speak. It then jumps to the present and someone (or something) is trying to shut down human science by screwing with experiments and driving scientists insane. Many are committing suicide.

As the mystery deepens, clues are found, including in a VR video game like no other.

I don't want to give any spoilers, but just watch the series. It's amazing. 

Have you seen it? Let me know in the comments below what you thought.

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Transition to a Mac

My old Dell PC was starting to act up. It was almost five years old and almost daily it wanted to fix problems with the hard drive. So I decided to buy a new computer. 

For years, people have been telling me to get a Mac. And I thought about. I even drove to Spokane to talk to the people at the Apple Store. The person there was very helpful but tried to sell me a MacBook Air. Instead I bought an refurbished MacBook Pro from Amazon. It was supposed to arrive Monday the 12th of February. Which was okay. I had a big deadline on the 15th. So my thought was to finish the deadline and then slowly work my way into the Mac.

The morning of the 12th my Dell died. Wouldn't boot up. Kaput.

The Mac arrived that afternoon. I set it up and took it to my office, unplugging the Dell, and plugging in the Mac. I was glad to learn that it worked with my monitor, keyboard and mouse. Except the mouse died and I had to buy a new one.  (Later my keyboard died and I had to buy a new one. A new experience for me: both the mouse and the keyboard hook up to the computer via Bluetooth.)

There was a steep learning curve. All my documents were backed up to the cloud and to an external hard drive. The Mac wouldn't recognize the hard drive (probably because it was formatted for Windows)(or I couldn't figure out how to find it). So I found and downloaded the files I needed in the cloud for the big deadline and, not knowing where else to put them, put them on the desktop.

When I'd google stuff, it kept talking about the "Finder side bar." So I kept looking to the left of the screen for a side bar. Then I looked to the right side. Nothing. Finally I found the damn thing in the Finder window, on the left side. And there I found Documents. So I loaded everything into it.

Then, I couldn't open a Word document, modify it, and then save it. All the files I downloaded off the cloud were locked as "read only" and so were the folders. Took me a while to figure that one out.

So slowly I'm learning more and more. It's often pretty easy. But sometimes it's frustrating. Once, most of my documents were grayed out so I couldn't open them. I don't know why and I don't know why the gray went away eventually.

Do you use a Mac or PC? And why? Let me know in the comments below. And why you chose that computer.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Why Star Trek?

Star Trek is a billion dollar property for Paramount Pictures. And I've kind of wondered why. It's not the only science fiction show in the 1960s. I remember Land of the Giants and The Time Tunnel. 

There was also Lost in Space which lasted three seasons (the same as Star Trek). It spawned a movie in 1998 and a series in 2018 that lasted three seasons of ten episodes each. I suspect it was shown on a streaming service. I remember my older siblings wanting to watch Lost in Space but I didn't like it because it scared me (I was around 6 years old).

In the '70s there was Space 1999 (which was syndicated) and the Six Million Dollar Man along with The Bionic Woman. Space 1999 lasted two seasons and got worse as the seasons got longer. Then there's Battlestar Galactica. I think it lasted one season. It wasn't very good. (The reboot in the 2000s was much better.)

In the late 70s there was Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It also lasted two seasons. The last season they totally screwed it up.

So why Star Trek? It wasn't that good. Some episodes were amazing. But a lot of them were just awful. Campy. A friend of mine recently watch the original series (TOS) for the first time and found it... lacking. 

When I was a teenager, I wasn't surprised by Uhura, a black woman on the bridge: a woman who had authority over white men. I just accepted that's how it was. I grew up in a very white area (I didn't see a black person other than on the TV until I was 12 years old). And Sulu didn't bother me at all. My sister dated an Asian boy in high school. Was that part of what made Star Trek special? It probably was at least part of it; I was just too isolated to realize it.

I was watching the "The Apple" episode and Chekov (an obvious Russian) compared the planet to the Garden of Eden. My mother, who happened to hear this wondered why a Russian believed in the Garden of Eden. I said, "Because communism is dead by this time." And that a Russian and Americans could work together is also part of the magic of Star Trek.

A lot of people cite the hope Star Trek displayed. People get along. We don't blow ourselves up. Maybe that is it.

I frankly don't know.

Do you? Let me know in the comments below.

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

UFOs and Other Paranormal Activity

If you've read this blog, you know I try to think scientifically. I believe natural phenomena have a scientific explanation.

But what about paranormal activity? I have seen things in my life that I can't explain away. Such as a possible UFO sighting.

For example, when I was a kid, a friend and I were sleeping outside in my backyard. It was the late 1960s or early 1970s, you got your entertainment were you could. Anyway, we were talking, looking at the stars, when suddenly a fireball rose from the horizon and shot into the sky. I don't remember if there was any sound associated with it. My friend I and scrambled out of our sleeping bags and hurried into the house.

Or, sometime in the seventies, I was playing in my room on a bright sunny summer day (even then I didn't like the outdoors) when I heard a sound like a jet zooming into the sky from outside. I ran to the front door and my brother was standing by the family car and people were coming out of their houses. My brother said that as he parked the car, a fireball zoomed from the radio antenna into the sky. What was it? I have no idea.

I don't jump to conclusions such as "it was a UFO" or some other paranormal activity. They simply remain unexplained in my memory.

Do you have any UFO sightings or other paranormal activity in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Why Does Car Exhaust Sound so Good?

A while back I was watching a reel on Facebook of a Shelby Daytona replica running. Not moving, just sitting there idling. And the sound of its V8 engine was... almost erotic. I loved the sound. Then I watched another reel of what looked like a Shelby Cobra accelerating.

And it got me wondering: why do I love the sound of a car engine and its exhaust. And I know I'm not the only one who does.

In fact, I feel sorry for future generations who will only have the hum of electric motors coming from their cars.

I have a theory about why some people, such as me, like the sound of a car's exhaust and engine noises. We associate the sound with good times we've had in cars: accelerating, cornering, braking. For example, when I drove on a racetrack. Doing those things for some people releases dopamine. And that makes me love the sounds associated with them. Such as engine exhaust.

And that's why, I think, some people love the sound of car exhaust and engine noise. I know I do. 

For a lot of exhaust and engine noise, watch this.

What do you think of my theory? Let me know in the comments below.