Saturday, March 25, 2023

Thursday, March 23, 2023


Number of humans who have ever lived ≈ 100 billion  

Number of stars in our galaxy ~ 100 billion

Number of galaxies in the universe ~ 100 billion

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pictures of Trump's Arrest

 Via Wired.

 This are all fake, produced by AI: 

Higgins indicates how to spot these as fake, but I sure can't see that. These are excellent. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

La Fin du monde

La Fin du monde ("The end of the world") is a woodcut by the French astronomer and author Camille Flammarion

In the lower left corner is a toppled hourglass of sand.

Perhaps appropriate today (except for the direction of the temperature change) with the release of the IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report, which says (page 25), among many other things:

"...for thousands of years."

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said: “This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”
"Everything, everywhere, all at once" -- I like that phrase. Sadly, there's no chance of it happening, of course. 
Kaisa Kosonen, a climate expert at Greenpeace International, said: “This report is definitely a final warning on 1.5C. If governments just stay on their current policies, the remaining carbon budget will be used up before the next IPCC report [due in 2030].”

Friday, March 17, 2023

Censored By Google

I received an email from Google (who owns Blogger) about my July 2019 blog post "I Am Now Too Old to Use the Internet".

Your post titled "I Am Now Too Old to Use the Internet" was flagged to us for review. This post was put behind a warning for readers because it contains sensitive content; the post is visible at 

Your blog readers must acknowledge the warning before being able to read the post/blog.

     Why was your blog post put behind a warning for readers?

     Your content has been evaluated according to our Adult Content policy. 

Please visit our Community Guidelines page linked in this email to learn more.

But why? All I can figure out is that I used the word "fuck" twice in that post. There's nothing else at all controversial there that I can see. Just me musing, a bit emotionally.

So really? Now you can't use the word "fuck" in a Blogger post? Seems pretty ridiculous, and very heavy. 

I wonder if an enemy of mine (?) turned me in to Google for such a piddling issue.

I never use the f-word in real life, among people. But I do use it when I stub my toe. 

I did use it here twice when emotional. I'm hardly going to apologize for that.

Fuck Google's unthinking AI. 

Weird and it makes me a bit angry. Of course, there's no sense in trying to fight this, even if I could figure out who to write to--there doesn't seem to be any way to contact them to ask questions.

Reminds me of the time I was banned from posting to Facebook for two months because I posted this picture:

What an amazing picture, full of strength and opposition.

And the unthinking robotic bitches at FB blocked it.

I don't do much of anything with Facebook anymore.

Maybe now Google will also ban me to for posting this amazing picture. If so, fuck them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Alcohol and Pi

This is International Pi Day (3-14, get it?), which personally never excited me much, although the number itself is interesting per se. 

Anyway, in an article about pi in the New York Times, a commenter noted the following mnemonic for the first 15 digits of pi:

And it's true; count the number of letters in each word: 3-1-4-1-5-9-2-6-5-3-5-8-9-7-9.

Not very exciting either, really, but there you have it. If you can remember the mnemonic. 

I've always been a little intrigued that pi appears in Einstein's field equations for general relativity, his theory of gravity that says essentially "mass tells space how to bend, and space tells matter how to move" (John Wheeler). 

where the R's and g's specify the shape of spacetime, and the T specifies the matter distribution in the spacetime. This is actually a total of 10 different equations, but that doesn't matter here.

Why does pi appear on the right-hand side? And an 8? Weird. What does gravity  have to do with a circle, as pi is defined at the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?

The 8πG/c4 is called the "Einstein constant" κ (kappa). G is Newton's gravitational constant, and c is the speed of light.

Wait, first, why does the speed of light appear here? It turns out that if you solve these field equations for a traveling wave, its speed in vacuum is that of light, c. Gravity travels at the speed of light. But it seems to me that it's more that light travels at the speed of gravity, because gravity--the very shape of space(time)--is more fundamental than electromagnetism. It's electromagnetism that exists in spacetime, so its fundamental properties are determined by spacetime.

I don't think the 8π is anything mystical or mysterious. OK, in a flat vacuum a gravitational wave would travel outward with its furthest points on a 4-dimensional sphere (3-dimensions of space and one of time). Something circular, since the circumference and surface area of a sphere also contains π. I think it's more that someone could have defined one of the items in the equation better, if they had deeper foresight. 

Which one? Maybe Newton's gravitational constant should have absorbed the 8π, so instead of G in Newton's equation, the proportionality constant would be G', where

G' = 8πG 

so Einstein's constant would be simply 


But then why the c4? Newton had no reason to deal with that; he didn't even know if the speed of light in a vacuum was a constant. So naturally he just used G for the proportionality constant in his equation that gives the force between two masses. So an 8π popped out the other end, because our view of the universe is nonrelativistic.

No doubt there are plenty of people who have some insight into this instead of my banal musings. I wonder what they would say.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

World GDP per Capita

In 2010 dollars:

About three times higher since I was born. Enough?

Real Income per Worker, US

2012 dollars:
(I really should fix that.)

2 People For Every Job

Unemployed per job openings, US:


Indoor Mile Record

This 2019 video of a world record set in the indoor mile really shows how incredibly fast these runners run:

I mean, I could never have run that fast, even for a single lap, when I was young. Not even half a lap. Not even down the back stretch.

I know the runner who set a world record here is genetically gifted, thin and tall, with a long stride. Sometimes I think this ruins world class athletics, that it's really only open to those who have the exact genome to excel in their event. Consider sprinters (Usain Bolt) versus this mile sprinter versus a champion weight lifter. All built very differently, and their events aren't open to those who aren't similarly born.

I'm not suggesting that everyone be weighted down a la Kurt Vonnegut. (Did Vonnegut ever assess his own advantages?) I guess most people enjoy watching a genetically gifted person run a mile in a record time. I do too.

But the same also applies to society at large. Smart people, people born smart for no reason of their own, will tend to do well in high-powered jobs in engineering or science or finance, while those who aren't as genetically blessed will not. No one ever wants to talk about this. Everyone feels they worked their way into their success an never wants to recall all their advantages, whether genetic, the environment of their youth, or luck. 

It's the ultimate discrimination.