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Lionel Mandrake

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: The Left Coast
Home country: USA
Current location: electrical wires
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2007, 05:47 PM
Number of posts: 4,064

About Me

I study, play the piano, play chess and go, and enjoy the company of my wife, children, grandchildren, other relatives, and friends. I am a perennial student at a school where they let me attend classes and use the library for free (because I'm old). My serious reading includes math, science, history, and biography. I enjoy science fiction and mysteries, which my wife and I refer to as "mind rot". And now on to politics. I hated Nixon and Reagan. I think W is a war criminal and was easily the worst president in US history until Trump came along. Trump and Sessions should be tried for having separated small children from their parents, which was a crime against humanity. I will support any candidate who is a "dove". I support "plan B" without prescription for girls of all ages. I support free abortion on demand, without delay, and without the requirement to notify anyone, for all women and girls who want it. I think it's time to repeal the Bush/Trump tax cuts for corporations and the very rich.

Journal Archives

"For All Mankind"

This TV show is an alternative history in which the Soviets landed a man on the moon before the USA did. It includes this howler: von Braun says he originally intended the V2 to enter low earth orbit but was ordered to make it a ballistic missile. The show could have used a science advisor.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Thu Jan 12, 2023, 12:26 AM (4 replies)

Four officers who responded to U.S. Capitol attack have died by suicide

That's the headline of a Reuters story (see below).

I find this very disturbing. These officers were severely traumatized. It's a tragedy that they took their own lives instead of seeking help.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Jan 7, 2023, 02:37 PM (8 replies)

YouTube TV is confusing.

I recently signed up for YouTube TV, which is a streaming service that I can get through my Roku device. But I'm finding it very non-intuitive. Stuff that should be easy isn't.

Sometimes I stop watching in the middle of a movie or in an episode of a TV show. When I come back, I would like to continue from where I stopped, but that doesn't seem to happen. Instead, I have to start from the beginning and fast forward through what I already watched. Grrrr.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Dec 18, 2022, 04:25 PM (14 replies)

replacement for cable TV

I hear there's a streaming service that does just about everything cable does but costs less. What's the name of it?
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sun Dec 11, 2022, 02:13 PM (21 replies)

Days of the Week

The seven-day week has two unrelated sources. On the one hand, there’s the Hebrew Book of Genesis, according to which God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. On the other hand, there’s the Babylonian and Greek tradition of associating gods with planets, of which seven were known in ancient times. There was also an association between planets and days, hence the seven-day week, which became customary, first in the Roman Empire, and later world-wide.

What the ancients called planets is different from what we call planets. For the ancients, the sun and moon were planets, but the earth was not.

The names of the days of the week reflect a polytheistic past with astrological overtones. For reasons to be explained later, I'll start with the day corresponding to the outermost planet known the the ancients.

1. Saturday < Saturn
2. Sunday < Sun
3. Monday < Moon
4. Tuesday < Tiu (Norse god of war)
5. Wednesday < Woden or Wotan
6. Thursday < Thor (Norse god of thunder)
7. Friday < Frigga (Norse goddess of love)

Most of us are less familiar with Norse mythology than with Greek and Roman mythology. The names of certain days in Romance languages can tell us which Roman god was identified with a particular Norse god. For example, in French some of the days are

4. mardi < Mars
5. mercredi < Mercury
6. jeudi < Jove (Jupiter)
7. vendredi < Venus

Now we have a complete list of planets corresponding to days:

1. Saturday → Saturn
2. Sunday → Sun
3. Monday → Moon
4. Tuesday → Mars
5. Wednesday → Mercury
6. Thursday → Jupiter
7. Friday → Venus

The order of the planets should seem strange at first glance. For example, why should the sun follow Saturn? To explain the peculiar order of planets, I will eventually cite the marvelous book by George Sarton:

A History of Science: Hellenistic Science and Culture in the Last Three Centuries B. C. (1959)

That book is a sequel to an earlier book:

A History of Science: Ancient science through the Golden Age of Greece (1952)

First let me introduce the author. George Sarton (1884-1956) invented History of Science as an academic discipline. He was equally at home in each of C. P. Snow's two cultures. Unlike most so-called historians of science nowadays, he believed it was necessary to know something about science before writing its history. Sarton's explanation (on page 322) is as follows:

"The astrologers ... divided the [day] into 24 equal hours. Each hour was dedicated to one of the seven planetary gods, and each day was called after the god of its first hour. Let us begin with the day of Saturn (Saturni dies), so called because its first hour was dedicated to Saturn; the second hour was the hour of Jupiter; the third, of Mars; the fourth, of the Sun; the fifth, of Venus; the sixth, of Mercury; the seventh, of the Moon. Not only the first hour, but also the 8th, the 15th, and the 22nd were dedicated to Saturn. The 23rd and 24th hours were dedicated to Jupiter and Mars, and therefore the first hour of the following day belonged to the Sun, and that day was called Solis dies. Therefore the astrological order of the planets:

Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon,

was replaced by a new order obtained by jumping two items after each item of the first series. One thus obtains

Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus,

which is the order of our days.”

You can find out more about the author from his Wikipedia page:

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Oct 11, 2022, 02:05 PM (10 replies)

marginalization of astrology

During the seventeenth century astrology became disreputable. It ceased to be studied in the universities. The upper classes came to despise it. I've often wondered how this came about. It certainly had something to do with Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton. To those who agreed that the earth orbits the sun and revolves on its axis in 24 hours, there was no longer any need for a crystalline sphere to carry the fixed stars. Those stars had fixed positions and could be at various distances from us. The stars in any particular constellation are not physically close to each other. The idea that a constellation exerts any influence on people is not even plausible. Thus astrology deserved the disrepute into which it had fallen by the time of Newton.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Sat Oct 1, 2022, 03:52 PM (12 replies)

The CDC has people confused about COVID.

The CDC reports two different COVID statistics with similar sounding names for each county in the USA.

The statistic most commonly reported is called "Community Level" and measures the strain on hispitals. Right now Los Angeles County has a LOW "Community Level", but unless you work in a hospital this information is of no use to you.

The statistic most of us should worry about is called "Community transmission level”. Right now Los Angeles County has a HIGH "Community transmission level”. That means your chance of catching COVID-19 is high.

To find the transmission level in your county, click on the arrow under "Data Type" and scroll down to "Community Transmission" (the last item in the menu) on this webpage:
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Sep 7, 2022, 07:23 PM (10 replies)

Reacher (TV series) on Prime Video

Having read Lee Child's novels, I enjoyed this adaptation, which has also pleased most critics. The protagonist is a blues lover. Blind Blake's song "Police Dog Blues" (below) is on the sound track.

Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Mon Jul 4, 2022, 11:06 AM (5 replies)

Trump's attempt to overthrow the government

Trump tried by several means to stay in power despite losing the election. Besides orchestrating the January 6 violence, he tried to get state officials to submit fake tallies of votes. According to the Los Angeles times, "Republicans in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin sent alternate slates to Congress." Other Republicans resisted the pressure to subvert the Constitution, as described here:
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Wed Jun 22, 2022, 12:07 PM (2 replies)

Prime howler in "Enemy of the State"

"Enemy of the State" on Amazon Prime features the omnipotent NSA being used by evildoers to harass the good guys. Among the NSA assets is a satellite which constantly emits the letters "CQ" in Morse Code, as if it were a ham radio operator of the distant past.
Posted by Lionel Mandrake | Tue Jun 21, 2022, 01:48 PM (3 replies)
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