Notes 20 Photos and some thoughts — Part 2

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos (this will pause the slideshow).

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Don’t know why, but I suddenly thought of Marvin . . .

As stated in the last post, I’m sharing Note 20 Ultra photos. Most, like the above, have been processed with Lightroom CC. Most, unlike the above, are photos of flowers from the garden centers of places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart.

As usual, clicking on single images will open a larger version of the image in a new tab or window.

Some photos are also presented as edited in-phone using Snapseed. Snapseed seems to output a slightly softer version of the original even when I make no changes to the original. It could be my imagination since there’s not an easy way for me to overlap and compare the original and the modified versions other than by scrolling from one to the other.

This next photo is the same photo that appeared in the previous post but edited in Snapseed.

Warning: the Block Editor is still a pain to work with and can cause stress levels to spikes. Use with caution. Avoid if possible.

Ah . . . where’s my thoughts, you’re wondering.

Before I get to the thoughts for this post, let me briefly cover a comment made on the last post. Namely, that some of the terms I seem to complain about are — in Australia — mostly complained by their far-right. For the record, the U. S. far-right is just as denigrating of those same terms. It’s an innocuous observation, but let me point out the unintended implication of that comment.

Namely, if you complain about things like cancel culture, wokeness, virtue-signaling, or similar topics, you’ll be automatically assumed sympathetic to the far-right. I’m not saying this in my defense or in defense of what I wrote. I stand by my opinions regardless of what labels might be thrown my way.

I want to, however, point out how easily one can dismiss any argument; just associate it with groups classified as extremes. It works for any social or cultural issue. Say you think sensible gun control laws are — well — well, sensible. Well, then, you must be a member of the far-left and be in favor of confiscating guns. Them people be crazy, so linking the argument to them is an easy way to dismiss it as, well, crazy.

Remember when I said words matter?

We know how to manipulate people (or, more charitably, give them what they want to hear). So, if you read or listen to a conservative-leaning source, you’ll learn that liberals are giddy about killing babies right before they are born. If you listen to a liberal-leaning source, you’ll learn that conservatives have no empathy for kids being shot in schools.

Note how the framing of the stories removes the bothersome details; details like late-term abortions are rare and that the procedure is often of last resort and an excruciating decision for the parents who cared for and nurtured the growing fetus for the better part of nine months. And details like most gun owners have kids in school and they’re just as traumatized as non-gun owners by these shootings, just as concerned for their kids and would like something done about it.

But, that’s not what’s presented in the news. The cynic in me thinks that’s from design; keep the population divided, and keep their attention away from questioning what their respective parties or organizations are doing.

Those arguments are no aimed at converting or even debating the opposition, but rather to fire up one’s base. The key, you see, is to keep from ever compromising. Notice how many politicians might as well be replaced by hot-air party balloons; they all vote in blocks — whatever the party wants, the party gets, and screw what the people might want. Notice how it’s BIG NEWS when any of them break rank — usually only if facing a tough election and only if them doing so won’t matter for the outcome.

Let me repeat . . . by making you care about one issue to the exclusion of everything else gives your party the cover for doing all sorts of other stuff you probably might not agree with.  

The hard conversation is what to do about these and many other issues . . . but it’s much easier to vilify any opposition to one’s narrowly biased point of view.

I stand by my belief that one-on-one, most people are can be reasonable. The problem is that national conversations aren’t framed to solve these issues. Instead, these issues are used by “liberal” and “conservative” interests as tools to leverage power.

No, no!” you say. “The groups I identify with, the people I vote for, and the organizations I give money to would never do that (to me)!

Right. Dream on.

This brings me to another topic I think about a lot.

I embrace technology. But people confuse technology with what is done with technology. Google is not a technology company. Neither is Facebook, and neither is Twitter.

I was an early Gmail adopter because — at the time — it was the best, simplest, and most useful email system. I like having a record of almost every email I sent and received since 2004. I’m referring to personal emails, not spam, advertisements, news items, and the likes.

That’s right; if we corresponded after 2004, I still have those emails.

The downside of that is that Google also has access to those emails and that they use them. They use them to target me with ads, groom what I see on YouTube, and make assumptions about what results I want to see when I search for something.

On the one hand, this is useful because 90% of the time, I don’t waste my time sorting through stuff I’m not interested in. On the other hand, sometimes I can’t find what I’m searching for because what I actually want might be twenty pages down in my search window.

That percentage is made up. I don’t actually keep track, but I’m occasionally aware I’m not getting what I intended to search for. But, I’m also concern about what I get back when I search for something

For example, if I do a search on “mass shootings”, the first many numbers of pages of search results all have a particular slant . . . namely, we’re in a warzone; step outside, get shot. It’s not until many numbers pages of search results later that I find something other than dire warnings and strident calls for “doing something<<link“. Here’s the interesting thing . . . when The New Your Time or NPR tell you this latest shooting is this year’s “236th mass shooting as of May 26” they don’t bother breaking it down as to what type of shooting. The implication is gun owners spend most of their time shooting people.

Wikipedia (LINK) lists them all, and you know what? They also offer links to the original local stories about the shootings.

I mention this because . . . well, let me ask you a question. What do you think of when you hear there’s been a “mass shooting”? I ask because most of the descriptions I read are NOT what I identify as “mass shooting”. When I hear “mass shooting”, I envision some nut went into an establishment and indiscriminately shoots a bunch of people before killing himself or being killed.

I could be wrong, but I’d wager that’s what mass shooting means to most people. It’s not gang members shooting each other, or families squabbling and shooting each other. Most people think of mass shootings as some stranger deciding to kill other strangers. Go ahead; go read a few at random . . . as tragic as the incidents are, they are not what I or the public understands as “mass shootings”.

If all of those were “mass shootings”, the national news would be shouting “BREAKING NEWS” at least twice a day, every day. Instead, they only break their paid programming for actual “mass shootings” . . . the regular shootings don’t make the news because viewers are a lot less concerned about people shooting each other at a drunken party at 2:00 am than they are about random violence . . . but those shootings are also counted as mass shootings.

And, a cursory look finds none of the shootings involve weapons of war (automatic weapons). Heck, the vast majority don’t involve even those ‘scary’ and vilified AR-15s.

Side Note: Let me do some math . . . it’s difficult getting accurate numbers but about 30% of the 250M adults in the US own a gun. That would be 75M gun owners (the number is likely higher since these are self-reported statistics).

About 3% to 5% of adults are sociopaths. Let’s call it 2% to be on the safe side . . . which means we have an estimated 1.5M armed sociopaths. Let’s be generous and say only one out of one hundred are violent sociopath (the estimated number is a tad higher), that means we have about 15,000 violent sociopaths (or psychopaths) running around with guns (not counting the numbers running around with other weapons, like clubs or knives). If you ask me, the number of mass shootings is much lower than one would expect just from doing the math (people resist doing math). The news that 99.98% of gun owners will never become “mass shooters” is probably news to some.

But let’s get away from guns . . .

Getting back to Google, I already use different search engines on both my desktop and phone (DuckDuckGo<<link), and that’s in addition to using Firefox instead of Chrome. I’m still searching for a replacement for GMail. Mind you, I’ll keep the account, but my plan is to switch to a different email server/provider.

My readers already know I stopped using Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve not missed Facebook or Twitter in the least. Call it a weight lifted from my shoulders. A weight I didn’t know I was carrying. It’s liberating; you should try it. And, it’s made me realize I should unsubscribe from many, many sites. They just don’t add anything useful to my life. I’ve been doing just that. Unsubscribing, and if that doesn’t work, I send their emails directly to spam.  

Unfortunately, it’s difficult getting around Google, but the thing I can do is limit what Google gets from me. They have settings (not as many as I would like) they’ve added because they “care about their users” — and because the vast majority of people will not make the effort to find them. 

Me? If there’s an option that keeps them from using my data, or limits what they gather, I’m all over it.

What else am I thinking about? UFOs. Lately, they’ve been in the news. So much so that even big organizations are starting to ask the “tough” questions.

I’m interested in UFO. Anything unidentified up in the sky arouses my curiosity. But it never crosses my mind to draw a connection between UFOs and ‘aliens’.

To quote Adams:
Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

I throw that quote up there because it points to the likelihood of being visited by extraterrestrials — let alone extremely shy extraterrestrials — being so remote that . . . look, I really, really wish one of these sightings were confirmed as beings from outside our solar system out for a joyride.

Mostly because I’d want to hitchhike out of here; me and my towel — would you believe I forgot about Towel Day<<link? I thought I added it to my calendar but I hadn’t. One of the few downsides of not being on Twitter and Facebook; I missed Towel Day.

Anyway, I would love to see the reaction of religious people and of people in general if any of these sightings could be confirmed as being extraterrestrials.

Heck, even confirming an intelligent signal from ‘out there‘ would be monumental and likely profoundly affect the way we think about ourselves.

But back to BIG SPACE . . . I have a small spreadsheet (LINK) tracking the approximate distance of Pioneer 10<< link from Earth. It’s not even a light day away from us, and it’s been traveling since 1972.

Ha!” you say, “Aliens have technology we don’t have! They can travel faster than the speed of light!

Theoretically? I suppose it’s possible . . . but I bet people making that claim have no idea what it would take (LINK). But, say they do; say that aliens have access to unimaginable amounts of energy and have cracked the FTL limit we face . . . then they must be doing the equivalent of the Griswolds at the Grand Canyon (LINK).

But, the main reason I’m skeptical is because of the Big Foot Effect. What’s that, you ask?

Well, that’s the effect rendering captures from sophisticated and high-precision instruments into blurry, out-of-focus blobs that could literally be anything.

Look, I buy into the whole “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” maxim. Be it religion or UFO, you better come at me with some damn good evidence about your claims. And not “damn good” according to your delusional desires. I mean good enough to exclude simpler explanations (a loose application of Occam’s Razor<<link).

You know all them “authentic videos” released by the Pentagon? Heck, I’m sure you must have seen them since many TV News Anchors are eager to tell you all about them “impossible to explain” films.

Well, heck, here be some very good explanations:

The videos from a few years ago (the ones that surface every few years):

The more recent video, The Splash:

The other recent video, The Pyramid:

Look, I’m sure you’ve experienced exactly what is described in those videos.

Have you ever seen a mirage? If you drive anywhere during a hot day, you’re likely to see one. If you live by the ocean (or the Great Lakes) you likely have seen ships floating above the horizon. If you are out driving and happen to be near an airport, you might have seen a huge airliner seemingly hang motionless in the sky. Even if you’re not moving, they appear to ever so slo-o-o-ly descend from altitude for a landing (they are moving well over 100mph).

When faced with such optical phenomenon, the only reason you’re not rushing to report it to anyone is that you know what they are and why they occur. But, say you didn’t know why they appear to defy what you know . . . you still recognize the objects and know how they should behave, and that there must be an explanation for what you’re seeing . . . so you search for explanations.

You DON’T jump up and scream “That plane! It looks like a Boeing 737 but it can’t be because it’s not flying right; it must be aliens!

Or, maybe you do. The point is that when we recognize something, when we know how far it is, how big it is, we then can make adjustments to our perception of what we see.

In contrast, all those fuzzy objects moving in unexpected ways (because we don’t know where they are and we can’t see them well) are subject to interpretation and — if so inclined — you scream “Aliens!” . . . but you’d be as justified in screaming “Cumquats!

It’s also annoying when news outlets (there I go again with the News) use misleading headlines and interview people making sensational claims while barely acknowledging people with mundane explanations.

Even semi-reputable places like this NYT opinion piece I got in an email (Pentagon releases UFO videos<<link to PDF; download to read) plays that game . . . it’s not until you get well into the piece that the above video explanations are mentioned, or that special interests who benefit from spreading theories of alien visitation are mentioned.

And I bet this NYT piece (LINK) doesn’t get many readers . . . it’s not exciting.  As the guy says, The work of science, though ultimately exciting, is mostly painstakingly methodical and boring. But that is the price we pay because we don’t just want to believe. We want to know.

The last three photos were all processed in Snapseed . . . again, they look a tad soft. I’ll have to do some ‘sperimenting . . .

Then again, Snapseed lets you do stuff to make the photos more interesting. Here’s a different treatment of Marvin . . .

I like Marvin . . .

Well, I need to save some thoughts for the next post, so . . .

. . . here’s a gallery of the above photos.

Don’t know if I bored or entertained, but . . .

. . . that’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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