Archive for
February 2023

Comments for Sunday, February 26, 2023, thru Tues., Feb. 28, 2023:

February 26, 2023
- Now that I've narrowed down my list of interesting podcasts from 114 to a mere 60, I've got the time to listen to some of the longer episodes.  During the past week, I listened to a bunch of episodes of Something You Should Know, and about half the episodes were worth my listening time.  I made a lot of notes.  I thought that the United States was the only country in  the world that allowed direct advertising of drugs to consumers, but I learned that New Zealand also allows it.  So, there are two countries where Big Pharma can pitch some dangerous drug to consumers on TV, just as long as they warn them that there could be all kinds of side effects (including death) if you do not use the drug properly.  There were also interesting episodes about "What makes food delicious," "Using too many arguments to make your case," and "Why we dream."

I also listened to an episode of the Profoundly Pointless podcast from August 10, 2022, which was titled "CERN Particle Physicist Dr. James Beacham", because that is who was interviewed.  It was fascinating episode, up until about the 51 minute mark.  At 51 minutes and 27 seconds, the host of the show, Nick VanZant, asks:

Are we going to go back in time? Can we go back in time? Is that going to happen?
And Dr. Beacham replies (in part):
Short answer, probably not. Time travel? Well, okay. First of all, if somebody asks, can't will we ever travel through time? The question is, yes, and you're doing it right now you're traveling through time, at a rate of one second per second. So we're all traveling through time. And indeed, we are. However, if you want to do some other kinds of travel to a time where you're, for example, you know, traveling at one year per second, then that's something that we have to work on. It seems right now, with the kind of theoretical limitations that we have within, you know, special relativity and general relativity, these kinds of things, we, it seems likely that we'll probably never be able to do backwards time travel, I'm happy to be proven wrong. But the short answer is that we might be able to, at some point, be able to travel into the future far future. But traveling backward in time seems to be less likely. And there's a lot of reasons for that one of them is mathematical. Again, at the end of the day, we have this thing, we have these mathematical rules that are part of relativity, it seems as though it's probably not likely for us to have so called closed timelike curves. I mean, I'd be happy to prove or be proven wrong. But we don't have any evidence that that's really possible forward time travel could be possible, but backward might be impossible.
To me the answer is simply "IT'S TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO TRAVEL BACKWARD IN TIME.  PERIOD!"  Mathematics has nothing to do with it.  All you have to understand is "What IS time?"  And scientists seem unable to answer that question.  They inexplicably say it is a "concept" or an "idea."  According to Wikipedia,
Time is the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.
That is an explanation of how Time WORKS, it's not a definition of Time.

What is Time?  Einstein described key facts about how Time works: (1) Time slows down when you move faster. (2) Time slows down when you approach a gravitational mass.  

Those two facts have been confirmed by many scientific experiments.  We know that you can "travel into the future" by moving very fast.  But it isn't really "traveling into the future."  It is simply slowing down time.  If you travel at
185,349 miles per second, one year for you will be 10 years for someone who is "stationary" back on Earth.  So, if that person back on Earth is your twin brother, and you spend a year traveling at 185,349 miles per second, when you return to Earth, you will be 9 years younger than your twin brother. The traveling twin will have aged only 1 year while the stationary twin aged 10 years.

The question then becomes:  What is time if it can be slowed down by motion and gravity? 
Years ago, I wrote a science paper with the answer to that question: Time is particle spin.  Atomic clocks use particles to measure time.  Atomic clocks demonstrate that particles spin and interact slower when the clock moves faster.

And slowing down Time has nothing to do with going backward in Time.  No one is going backward in time if one person ages 10 years while someone else ages 1 year. 

Yet, I have never been able to get anyone to discuss this.  Mathematician scientists seem incapable of accepting the FACT that time can slow down and speed up.  And scientists who know from experiments that time can slow down and speed up don't want to argue with the mathematician scientists.  So, it appears that by agreeing that "time is just a concept or idea," they can avoid fighting with each other.   

I just wish they'd say so.

Comments for Sunday, February 19, 2023, thru Sat., Feb. 25, 2023:

February 22, 2023 - Yesterday's election here in Wisconsin resulted in the liberal candidate for the State Supreme court getting 46% of the vote, while the main conservative candidate got only 24%.  Another conservative candidate got 22%, leaving the remaining 8% for a candidate who is considered to be liberal.

The actual election to pick a judge for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court will take place on April 4.  The top two candidates in yesterday's election will be running for the seat being vacated by a conservative judge who is retiring.  The 7 Wisconsin Supreme Court judges are currently considered to be 4 conservatives and 3 liberals.  If a liberal judge replaces a conservative, that would make it 4 liberals and 3 conservatives.  That is one reason why the race is considered to be so important.  A second reason is the fact that the term for a judge on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is TEN years.

The conservative judge who got 24% of the vote was supported by Donald Trump.  So, the fact that he got only about half the votes that went to his main opponent seems to say something about Trump's declining popularity.  It's another positive sign for the future of America.

February 21, 2023
- It's election day in Wisconsin.  The goal of the election is to reduce the number of judges running for a vacant seat on the State Supreme Court from 4 to 2.  Right now there are 3 right-wing conservatives and 1 moderate on the ballot, and the apparent objective is simply to reduce that to two candidates, either two conservatives or one conservative and one moderate. 

The election will also put a stop - for now - to the endless stream of political ads that are being shown on TV every evening.  When I turn on the TV to watch the evening news, I also get ad after ad after ad after ad after ad where a candidate judge is attacked for having let some criminal go who later committed some new crime.  Other ads simply state the number of County Sheriffs who support some conservative candidate.

What bothers me about this is the amount of money that is being spent on the TV ads.  It must be millions upon millions.  Where does all that money come from?  And what return do the ad buyers expect to get for their money?

I voted this afternoon, on my way home from the gym.  The ballot just contained the four names (and a place to a "write in.")  It wasn't hard to pick one of the four, but I'm very curious to see which two will win.  Will it be the moderate and someone from the far right, the far far right, or the far far far right?  Or will it be two from the far right?  I'll find out tomorrow.

February 19, 2023
- I'm making progress on my quest to evaluate all the podcasts that might be of interest to me.  In the past two weeks, I haven't learned of any interesting new podcasts to add to the list.  So, it's now just a matter of evaluating a few remaining podcasts to see if they should remain on the list or not.

One podcast that will definitely remain on the list is "Build for Tomorrow."  There haven't been any new episodes since the start of the year, and I've only sampled 15 of the 60 episodes, but all the episodes I've listened to so far have been worthwhile.

One episode I listened to was titled "Bicycles Were A Misogynist's Nightmare."  It's about the crazy beliefs people had about  bicycles when they were first invented.  The first bicycles were very expensive, so they were only for the rich.  And they had no pedals.  You sat on the bicycle and pushed yourself along with your feet.  Then they added pedals to bicycles and made the front wheel many times larger than the back wheel.  That caused all kinds of bad accidents.  Anyone riding a bicycle was ridiculed.  In the 1890's, bicycle riders were often called "scorchers" because they often rode very fast and risked crashing into pedestrians and other bicyclists.  Women riding bicycles were particularly ridiculed, since they had to wear "bloomers" instead of the hoop skirts of the era.

Another interesting episode is "The Day the Music Died (And Was Reborn)."  Here's part of the description for the episode:
In the early 1900s, recorded music was accused of muddling our minds, destroying art, and even harming babies. What was everyone so afraid of? In this episode, we dig into the early days of music and see what the hysterics properly predicted—and the benefits they never saw coming.
It might be the best example of people fearing and opposing change.  Some didn't even accept recording music as being possible.  They assumed it was "faked" in some way.  Composer John Philip Sousa wrote a famous article “The Menace of Mechanical Music”.  In it Sousa predicted that piano rolls and recordings would end amateur music making in the United States.  Later, Sousa ended up being attacked for making a fortune from his sales of recordings and piano rolls.

The most recent episode, from Dec. 29, 2022, is titled "What People of 1923 Predicted About 2023."  They predicted flying cars, or course, and they believed that people would work only 4 hours per day.

Predicting the future is a risky undertaking.  People never seem to anticipate all the new inventions that will truly change things.  Instead, they expect new inventions that turn out to be impractical or impossible.

We first sent men to land on the moon in 1969.  Back then we expected there would be human colonies on the moon (and on Mars) by now.  In 1968, the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" was released.  It predicted that in 2001 we would have massive rotating space stations, space ports on the moon, and people traveling to Jupiter in gigantic space ships. We certainly didn't expect that most humans would be bored with the idea of going to the moon and tired of paying for it.  Instead of risking human lives, the trend now is to build robots to do all the work.  The problem with robots is that you have to anticipate all the things the robot will be required to do.  If something very interesting is observed, humans can usually do lots of things they weren't "part of the plan." 

Comments for Sunday, February 12, 2023, thru Sat., Feb. 18, 2023:

February 16, 2023 - They're forecasting 8 inches of snow at my location today, so before the snow started, I ran a few errands.  When I returned and pulled into my garage, I finished listening to CD #9 in the 9-CD audio book version of "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg.

power of habit

Wow, what a terrific book!  It's about how to put an end to bad habits and how to create good habits.  But it's most interesting when it applies to companies, organizations and countries, instead of just to individuals.  Near the start of the book it mentions the military:
On the battlefield, every command that’s issued draws on behaviors practiced to the point of automation. The entire organization relies on endlessly rehearsed routines for building bases, setting strategic priorities, and deciding how to respond to attacks.
And then it mentions brushing your teeth. 
When the government started drafting men for World War I, so many recruits had rotting teeth that officials said poor dental hygiene was a national security risk.

Claude Hopkins was best known for a series of rules he coined explaining how to create new habits among consumers. These rules would transform industries and eventually became conventional wisdom among marketers, educational reformers, public health professionals, politicians, and CEOs. Even today, Hopkins’s rules influence everything from how we buy cleaning supplies to the tools governments use for eradicating disease. They are fundamental to creating any new routine.

Yet as Hopkins knew, selling toothpaste was financial suicide. There was already an army of door-to-door salesmen hawking dubious tooth powders and elixirs, most of them going broke.

The problem was that hardly anyone bought toothpaste because, despite the nation’s dental problems, hardly anyone brushed their teeth.
What Hopkins did was to advertise the benefits of brushing your teeth and making it a daily habit.
Hopkins turned Pepsodent into one of the best-known products on earth and, in the process, helped create a toothbrushing habit that moved across America with startling speed. Soon, everyone from Shirley Temple to Clark Gable was bragging about their “Pepsodent smile.”
A decade after the first Pepsodent campaign, pollsters found that toothbrushing had become a ritual for more than half the American population. Hopkins had helped establish toothbrushing as a daily activity.

Another interesting story is about how Alcoa Aluminum was once a company where numerous employees were being injured every year.  Then a new president took over the company, changed the habits of the employees, and turned it into one of the safest companies to work for.
Turning losing sports teams into winning sports teams is another example where changing habits can produce amazing results.

The book also contains a lot of information about how to develop good habits and get rid of bad habits for yourself.

"The Power of Habit" is a very interesting book.  I highly recommend it.  But it would probably have been better if I had read it on my Kindle instead of listening to it while driving.  Making notes is a lot easier when reading a book.

February 15, 2023
- While eating lunch this afternoon, I finished reading another book on my Kindle.  The book was "Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age" by Annalee Newitz.

Four Lost Cities

It's a history book, of course.  The four cities are Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic site in Turkey; Pompeii, on the Italian coast and the slope of Mt. Vesuvius; medieval Angkor in Cambodia; and Cahokia, an indigenous North American metropolis at the site that's now East St. Louis.

I'm not sure what attracted me to the book, but it turned out to be very interesting. 

Çatalhöyük existed from approximately 7500 BC to 6400 BC.  The houses were built side by side, with no space between them, and to walk from one house to another, you walked across the roofs.  And that was for a city of about 10,000 people.  It was evidently abandoned when it became just too much of a problem to live there.

Pompeii, is the best known of the four cities.  It had a population of about 11,000 people when it was buried under ash and lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.  (I visited the ruins of Pompeii many years ago.) 

Angkor is in Cambodia and may have had a population of about a million people and existed as a city from about 802 AD to 1431 AD.  It was the center for the Khmer Empire and is probably best known for Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple that is the largest religious monument in the world.  It was abandoned when the surrounding jungle nearly buried it.

Lastly, Cahokia existed as a city from about 700 AD to 1400 AD, and it may have had a population that ranged from 10,000 to 20,000.  That population, of course, consisted of Native Americans.  I knew about the pueblo cities in the West, but it was a total surprise to me that Native Americans had built such a large city in Illinois.  I'd probably heard about it before, but it never registered in my mind the way it did while reading this book.

Here's a quote from near the end of the book:
Cities are ongoing social experiments, and the remains of ancient homes and monuments are like half-erased lab notes left by our ancestors. They describe how people tried to bring diverse groups together with a shared purpose, to nourish and entertain each other, to overcome political conflict and climate catastrophe. They also describe our failures: the authoritarian slave-driving leadership, the bad civil engineering, and the laws that limited many people’s access to resources. Our forebears’ eroded palaces and villas warn us about how communities can go wrong, but their streets and plazas testify to all the times we built something meaningful together.
Today we might wonder if cities will survive the political divisions that now divide us.  And then there is also "Global Warming."  What will Chicago or New York be like a thousand years from now?   

February 13, 2023
- Whew!  With a little help from someone who views this website regularly, I was able to get
LibreOffice's spreadsheet functions  to work.  The on-line instructions were totally worthless.  I couldn't find any instructions for how to add up a column or row of numbers.  When converting from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, all the formulas for doing math were replaced by just the end result of the calculation.  In the spreadsheet below, for example, all that there would be in column P for Wednesday 11/30/2022 of the LibreOffice spreadsheet would be the number 5851.  In the OpenOffice spreadsheet there was:   "sum=1421+504+706+1670+297+312+178+286+129+197+71+53+29"  (without the quotes)


The guy who contacted me reminded me what the formula looked like.  So, I was able to get that spreadsheet and all the others working again.

One of the first spreadsheets I reworked was my newest spreadsheet where I keep track of Podcasts I've examined.  I rank the podcasts on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being the best, and I identify them by type:

F=Conspiracy Theories   
X=Current Affairs   
One of the podcasts that isn't on the spreadsheet anymore is Joe Rogan's podcast.  It used to be available on various platforms, but it is now only available on Spotify, where you have to pay to listen to it.  I listened to lots and lots of Rogan's podcasts over the years, and I still had 27 that I hadn't yet listened to in my backup hard-drive.  I copied them to my MP3 player, and this morning I started listening to episode #1233 in which Joe Rogan interviews scientist Brian Cox.  The interview is 2 hours and 43 minutes long.  Wow!  What a great episode!  I only had time to listen to the first hour before lunch and going to the gym, but I'll definitely listen to the whole interview.  And looking over the list again, I see Rogan interviewed Brian Cox once before, in episode #610.  I'll probably listen to most or all of that one, too.  And there are interviews with Sir Roger Penrose and Michael Shermer, along with everyone from Bernie Sanders to Edward Snowden, from Rosanne Barr to Dr. Phil.

I think I should be done listening to all the Joe Rogan episodes and all the other podcasts I want to listen to in about 20 years.
February 12, 2023
- Groan!  Yesterday, I was doing my regular morning routine, which includes updating a spreadsheet that shows how many new people have been accessing my science papers on, and suddenly the spreadsheet software stopped allowing me to do updates!  Here's what the spreadsheet looked like when I wrote a comment about it back around January 1:

vixra stats

I was able to type in the day of the week in the first column, but when I tried to type in the date in the second column, the program locked up and I couldn't do anything.  Nor could I type in anything anywhere else.  I must have spent at least an hour trying to figure out what was wrong, including researching the issue via Google.  Gradually I discovered that the OpenOffice software I've been using since 2016 (or before) is no longer freely available to anyone who wants to use it.  You now have to pay to use it.  However, my research also showed that there's such a thing as LibreOffice software that is free and provides similar spreadsheet software.  So, I had to find out where to get LibreOffice, and I had to download and install it.  Then came a new problem: LibreOffice works different from OpenOffice.  The resulting spreadsheets look identical, but the way you program it to add up columns and compute totals is all different.  I'm going to have to study the on-line instructions.

In addition to that spreadsheet for my science papers, I've got spreadsheets for my DVD movie collection, my DVD TV-shows collection, my favorite podcasts and how I rate them, my collection of books in digital format, the Certificates of Deposit I have at my bank, my
blood-pressure readings, and so forth.  They're all going to have to be converted to LibreOffice format.  Or I'm going to have to figure out if I want to pay to use OpenOffice. 


Meanwhile, I still need to organize my podcast lists and files.  I've reached a point where I'm almost done evaluating podcasts to see which I should listen to and which are not worth the time.  The problem now is: There aren't enough hours in a day for me to listen to all the podcasts I think are worth listening to.  Plus, there's only one podcast that's worth my time to listen to every episode: "The Infinite Monkey Cage," so, for all the rest I still have to check each new episode to see if it's worth downloading or not.  For some podcasts, 9 out of 10 episodes might be worth downloading, for others it might just be one in 4 or 5. 

Then, of course, there's the list of books I want to read from my Kindle.  And also the books I have in hardcover and paperback.  When I have some free time, is it better to spend that time reading a book or listening to podcasts?  Or should I watch a movie from my collection of over 3,000 favorite movies I have on DVDs?  Or one of the hundred or so favorite TV series I have on DVDs?  Plus, of course, there are the thousands of TV shows and movies that are available to me via my cable company.

Sometimes I wonder about all those people who complain that they are bored and don't have anything to do.  How is that even possible?????

Comments for Sunday, February 5, 2023, thru Sat., Feb. 11, 2023:

February 10, 2023 - Yesterday, after I completed writing my comment for that day, I sat down on my easy chair in my living room and started listening to some podcasts I'd downloaded into my MP3 player a couple days ago.  I'd downloaded 14 episodes of the 155 episodes The Science of Everything Podcast has on-line as a sample in order to determine if it was a podcast I should listen to regularly.   I initially downloaded the episodes into my 2-terrabyte hard-drive, and then later, when I was ready to listen to them, I copied them to my MP3 player. 

I listened to episode #11, which is 40 minutes long and about "The Origin of the Universe."  It was kind of complicated, but very interesting.  Then I listened to episode #12, which is 41 minutes long and about "Newtonian Mechanics."  It was also very interesting.  I then skipped over episodes #111, #112 and #113 to get to #114 and #115, which were both about my favorite science topic: "Special Relativity."  A few minutes into #114, I made a note that it was an "Excellent episode!"  I even made the note in red ink.  All that had been discussed at that point was what the word "special" meant in "Special Relativity."  And what "flat space" meant.  Both mean gravity and the effects of gravity were being ignored for now.  Gravity has its effects, and motion has its effects, but Special Relativity is just about motion.

Then the host, James Fodor, got into the subject of length contraction, and the episode turned into total nonsensical gibberish.  Fodor explains that the length of an object changes when that object moves at high speed.  That is NONSENSE.  L
ength contraction has NEVER been demonstrated by experiment.  It's just another mathematical model that does not represent reality.  A Google search for the term "length contraction" shows that it means DISTANCES appear to shorten when  you are moving very fast and experience TIME DILATION.  Time dilation says that the faster you move, the slower time passes for you.  If an hour becomes longer, and the length of a mile remains the same, distances will appear to shorten when you measure "miles per hour."

Fodor's explanations seem to be taken from physics textbooks without taking into account the demonstrable FACT that is very rare for any two physics textbooks to agree on how Special Relativity works.  That is why I wrote science papers on the subject.

I'll probably listen to other episodes of The Science of Everything, but listening to episodes #114 and #115 reminded me that I really need to get back to work on my book about Logical Relativity.

February 9, 2023
- I seem to be suffering a case of writer's block when trying to write a new comment for this website.  I'd like to write something about that spy balloon China sent across the United States, but I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said many times on various news shows.   It was a drifting balloon, not a guided device of some kind.  Shooting it down while it was over the U.S. could have caused serious damage or even deaths on the ground.  President Biden was right in having it shot down when it was over the Atlantic.  We can now examine it and determine its exact purpose.  Then we'll know whether we should risk people's lives or not if the Chinese do it again.

I'm still spending much of every day listening to and analyzing podcasts.  That requires identifying the podcast's topics.  As I see it, all the podcasts that seem like they might be of continuing interest to me are about one or more of the following topics:

F=Conspiracy Theories   
X=Current Affairs     
Having lots of different interests is part of the "problem."

Then it becomes a matter of determining if a specific podcast has enough interesting episodes for me to check it out once a week.  Then I have to listen at least parts of the episodes to see if they are of interest or not.  Eventually I will have to decide if checking episodes of a given podcast is worth my time or not.

That's where things get sticky.  Some of the ones that are worth my time may be several hours long.  I tend to set long episodes aside until I have checked out the shorter ones.  But checking out the shorter ones first never leaves me with enough time to listen to the longer ones.

It will all resolve itself eventually, but right now it's still a "problem" of having too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

February 5, 2023
- Hmm.  This is another one of those Sundays when I have absolutely nothing prepared for today's Sunday comment, so I'll have to write something from scratch.

The reason I have nothing prepared is because I've been downloading and listening to podcasts all week.  I added no new podcasts to my list.  I just tried to determine which of the 144 podcasts on the list shouldn't be on the list, because they rarely (if ever) have any interesting episodes.  But it can take a long time to determine that a podcast is not worth listening to.  I usually do not make that decision until after I've tried listening to a few episodes which seem to be on interesting topics. 

For example, yesterday I tried listening to 3 episodes of the Ridiculous History Podcast.  One was an episode about the British creating exploding chocolate bars that they planned to drop behind German lines. Another was titled "When People Thought They Were Made of Glass."  And the third was about "how Star Trek almost didn't happen."  None of the three could hold my attention for even half of the episode.

I also tried three episodes of "Probably Science."  Each episode was over an hour long, and it was mostly just jabber jabber between comedians, nothing about science - at least not in the parts I listened to before turning the episodes off.

And I tried 3 episodes of "Films to be Buried With."  It's an interview show, with interviews of people I've never heard of that last over an hour, plus they all have British accents.  I turned them all off after about ten minutes.

I also removed "Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe" from my list of favorite podcasts.  At one time it was in my "top ten" list.  But, back then I didn't mind all the joking around.  Gradually it became annoying, and when they finally get around to discussing some science topic, most of the discussions became equally annoying.

I also listened to an interesting episode of the RadioLab podcast about Orson Wells' 1938 radio show "War of the Worlds."  It's an hour long, and I listened to every second of it.  Then, as I was writing this comment and trying to find a link to the podcast, I found that I had listened to the same podcast back in June of 2020 and wrote a comment about it at that time.

On the positive side, I listened to large parts of a bunch of Lex Fridman podcasts, and I enjoyed every one of them.  I only listened to "parts" because his podcasts are generally over 2 hours long, sometimes over 3 hours long, and his most recent podcast is over 5 hours long.  To listen to episodes that are that long, I need to have nothing else to do.  And that isn't my situation right now.   Lex Fridman's podcast will definitely be moved into my top ten list - when I find the time to figure out which podcast to remove from the list.

Groan!  Organizing my collection of podcasts can be very interesting and it can be very tedious and frustrating.  But, I think the effort will prove to be worthwhile.

Comments for Wednesday, February 1, 2023, thru Sat., Feb. 4, 2023:

February 1, 2023
- I've been a movie buff all my life.  Many of my earliest memories are about going to movie theaters to watch new movies.  Then TV came along and nearly every movie theater in my town went out of business.  Renting movies on VHS tapes became the trend.  I would rent 1 or 2 movies a week from Blockbuster.  Then Blockbuster went out of business.

Then I would rent 1 or 2 movies on DVDs every week from Redbox. And I started keeping a spreadsheet log of whether or not I enjoyed the movies I watched.  I didn't rent the movies blindly, of course.  Before renting, I researched them to see whether or not I might like them, and I only rented those that seemed worth the money.  The main purpose of the spreadsheet log was to record whether or not I should buy a DVD copy of the movie and add it to my DVD collection if I ever found it on sale for a reasonable price.  Depending upon how well I liked the movie, that "reasonable" price could be anywhere between $1.99 and $10.  I started the log on March 3, 2009, and continued until I stopped renting movies on April 5, 2016.

I stopped renting movies because movies seemed to have changed.   In 2009 I rated 4 out of 5 rented movies as being worthy of a purchase.  In March and April of 2016, I rated 1 out of 5 as being worthy of a purchase.

Did movies change or did my tastes change?  I still like the movies I liked 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.  So, my tastes evidently haven't changed.  But what was it about movies that changed?

My feeling was that movies had turned into dramatized video games.  Something had to be happening every second.  Movies were no longer about people, they were about the actions of people

Today, when I watch some late night talk show and they have some movie star on the show plugging some new movie, I'm constantly puzzled by the clips they show and the reactions from the audiences.  The clips are nearly always just parts of discussions between people, and the discussions are always very boring to me.  But the audiences and the Talk Show hosts watching go nuts in their applause and praise.  To me it is a matter of not being able to find any interest in the discussions if I do not know the people and the reasoning behind their discussions.  I would compare it to watching a video game.  Video games are about two sides fighting.  No one cares about the reasons behind the fight.  One side is declared to be evil and the other side is the side of good.  Movies are now like video games.  Nearly always, the side that is good is the star of the movie, and the movie is about the fight between good and evil.

The reason I mention all this is because I listened to another episode of the Making Sense with Sam Harris podcast a couple nights ago.  It was episode #139 titled "Sacred & Profane" from October 3, 2018.  In the episode, Sam Harris talks with comedians Bill Maher and Larry Charles.  It's a 42 minute podcast, and starting at the 11-minute mark they begin talking about old movies, specifically the Alfred Hitchcock movies "North by Northwest" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much."  (I have both of those movies on DVDs.)  They talked about those movies as being "glacial" in how slow they move compared to today's movies.  Over and over they say that old movies are "so slow" compared to today's movies, and that "people were different back then".

Yes.  Back then, people cared about what other people thought and why they acted the way they did.  Today no one cares about things like that.  You just have good people against bad people.  All the world is like a video game.  Good against bad.  Motivation is irrelevant.

In the past, we learned a lot about other people by watching movies.  We saw and learned why people do what they do.  Today, we evidently expect our leaders to tell us who is "good" and who is "evil," so that when we watch "the game" on The Evening News (or on our smart-phones), we do not have to bother with understanding such complicated and boring things as motivation and history.

Call me "old fashioned," but I still want to understand why people do the things they do.  I never had any interest in video games.  To me, they're just a way of wasting time.  I'd rather learn about our world and our universe than just waste time.  The more I learn about our world and our universe, the more fascinating it becomes. 


© 2023 by Ed Lake