About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

You’ve been selected for … !

by Erik Dolson

Marriott Hotels has selected me for a special, low cost vacation. Windham Hotels wants me to view a resort property and tell all my friends (both of you)  how great it was. Credit Card Services is giving me a low, 6 percent interest rate on my Visa and Mastercard balances. To top it off, someone is going to give me better health insurance at NO ADDITIONAL COST!

All that by noon today. By bedtime, especially around the dinner hour,  I imagine I’ll have received another four or five spam calls. Up until now I would listen to the pitch, ask questions, hoping the caller would put me on a list that says that calling my phone number was a giant waste of time, and after all, time is money.

Then I was on the phone with James, a gentleman who sounded like he was in India.

“You just want to take my time!” he yelled after I asked him for the fourth time to tell me which credit card he was talking about. He cut the connection before I could say that his call and others I’d received today cost ME time, and aggravation. Good thing I am on an unlimited plan.

James and those on the other end of spam calls are just trying to eke out a living wherever their call center is located: India, The Philipines, South Carolina. I doubt it’s a high paying gig, but since I can’t get to his boss, or the boss’s boss, I’d hoped there was a feedback loop somewhere and they’d stop letting me waste their time as they wasted mine. It was about all I could do.

But James caused me to think again about “time is money.” So is electricity. And bandwidth. Battery usage. I wondered if there is anyplace in the system where AT&T and Verizon might be making money off spam. Because, after all, they make money off nearly every other use of bandwidth (at one time those were “our” airwaves. Another story).

Given that AT&T and Verizon are happy to store our information and share it with the U.S. government if asked (as a run around the law prohibiting the government itself from doing so), it’s not unreasonable that they know who is flooding the world with and profiting from the spam.

Could it be that AT&T and Verizon sell me service and then sell me to others? Why don’t I get a cut of that deal? Does spam take up bandwidth that AT&T and Verizon have said is in such short suppply? Could they stop spam, and if so, why don’t they? It’s not unreasonable to think they’re making a profit from the calls somehow. Someone is, or the calls would not exist.

Yes, there are other telecoms and they are not innocent. But sometimes you just want to aim at the head of a snake.

Spam calls are not just an annoyance. We should not have to go to lengths to block, screen, or otherwise avoid these intrusions into our lives. At one time, with landlines and later for unlisted cell phones, unasked for intrusions were illegal. They could be again. Perhaps it’s time for a person of authority to take an interest.

Free speech, you say? Nothing is free in a market economy. Spammers have just shifted the cost onto  me. They call my phone again and again and again, running down my battery and stealing my attention. I’d like it to stop. Time is money, and I don’t have enough of either one.

Oil men put Santa in chains

By Erik Dolson

Merry Christmas.

It’s that time to turn away from the scourge of Trump and look for kinder, gentler souls. Recent news gives us many candidates, but we’ve heard enough about foreigners with names like Putin or Erdoğan or Assad.

Fortunately, we can focus much closer to home on Gary R. Heminger, Chairman and CEO of Marathon Oil, and the Koch brothers, David and Charles,

These oligarchs are or soon will be responsible for killing thousands of innocent people around the world, many right here in the U.S. These three, especially, are attempting to get Americans to burn an additional 300,000 to 400,000 barrels of oil per day. Read more…

Humor

By Erik Dolson

Humor is how we communicate our intelligence.

Humor depends on something being out of context, that does not fit into “its” pattern.

Only a Brain that knows the pattern can tell when something does not fit.

Explaining a joke is not funny. Explaining “why”  fits the something into another pattern. Those of similar brains who see similar patterns just “get it.”

Pieces out of context are not always funny. Chaos can be terrifying. Clowns.

Do animals laugh?

Of course, when someone does something out of context that they see as funny.

Will machines ever laugh?

Of course, but we’ll never know why it happens.

We won’t get the joke.

Machines explaining it to us won’t be very funny.

Patterns

By Erik Dolson

There are patterns in the Universe.

The Brain is a pattern-recognition organ.

Universe rewarded genes that produced Brain.

Because Universe has patterns, Universe has Brain. A universe with no patterns, no physics, no gravity, no stars, of Entropy and alone, could have no Brain. A universe without brains could have no patterns. If Brain, then patterns. If patterns, then Brain.

But our Universe has physics. Intelligence is inevitable.

We are not the apex. We are not the only brains.

Humanity occupies a point so small as to be nearly invisible, an instant of infinitesimal flicker in an expanse so eternal and infinite we can not fully comprehend.

Universe does not care. Others are rewarded.

Because there are patterns.

There will always be Brain. Intelligence is inevitable.

Lost in Spaaaaaace

By Erik Dolson

Tesla Roadster prototype (CC BY-SA 4.0)

NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine said that Elon Musk smoking pot on a podcast was “not appropriate,” that it “did not inspire confidence,” and may have prompted a safety review of both Musk’s SpaceX and Boeings United Launch Alliance.

The companies are vying to ferry astronauts into space.

Here’s an alternate point of view, just for discussion. Maybe the NASA chief has it backwards.

Read more…

2:50 a.m.

by Erik Dolson

Told myself when I stepped foot on the boat last night that I was NOT (all caps, plus italics) going to work on the fireplace. There’s a list of projects from finger tip to elbow and the damn fireplace was NOT (all caps, plus italics) on it.

Sleep comes and goes. I could identify a half dozen reasons on any one night why I’m lying there awake at 2:50 in the morning after falling asleep some time after 12:10 (the last time I looked). We’re not going there. Suffice it to say that I turned on the propane and heated water for coffee.

“Wouldn’t you like a nice warm fire?” the fireplace said, wearing a smirk. Read more…

World’s best university…

… is in China.

By Erik Dolson

This is according to an article in The Economist: “In 2013-16 it produced more of the top 1% most highly cited papers in maths and computing, and more of the 10% most highly cited papers in stem, than any other university in the world … ” according to the article, which can be read here. Read more…

Democrats are screwed

By Erik Dolson

Donald Trump won the midterm elections yesterday. Democrat victory in the House of Representatives gives Trump exactly what he needs for the next two years to win the presidency in the year 2020.

Trump said as much when he congratulated Nancy Pelosi, presumed to be the new Speaker of the House. Trump said that Pelosi deserved the Speakership, and added that he might give her a few Republican votes on key issues in the future.

Trump thus sets himself up as a dealmaker, ready and willing to cooperate with the other side. Trump actually believes Read more…