Friday, August 5, 2016

Evolution of Non-Traditional News Sources

Presented to The Villages Philosophy Club, 5 August 2016. The ubiquitous smart phone camera and social-media have empowered “citizen journalists” to greatly augment, and in some cases replace, traditional news reporters and photographers. What is our part in this revolution and the mostly positive results?
When I was a kid, the only news sources were newspapers and the major broadcast networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, first radio and then TV.


Nowadays, when surveillance cameras are everywhere and "everyone" has a SmartPhone with a camera, and many  of us have multiple channels on social media, a new type of "news" media has evolved.

Of course, the "major media" are concerned about losing their elite position at the head of the news "food chain", but even their reports often feature SmartPhone video and FaceBook postings and Twitter Tweets from celebrities..

There is no doubt that what I call the "SmartPhone Video Camera Effect" has some serious negative effects, distorting our collective view of things like the danger of criminal violence, extreme weather, terrorism, unjustified shooting of unarmed young (black) men and police officers.

However, IMHO, the overall effect is positive. As non-traditional news sources continue to evolve, we'll gain a more complete and overall more accurate view of the society we live in and the world around us.


4.5 Billion years ago - the primitive LITHOSPHERE, HYDROSPHERE and ATMOSPHERE - The Earth started as a ball of molten material and gas. Over many millions of years, the land cooled and the tectonic plates that were to become the continents solidified and took form, along with the oceans.. "Litho-" means "Stone". "Hydro-" means "Water". "Atmos-" means "Vapor".  These foundational levels continue to evolve.

3.5 Billion years ago - the BIOSPHERE - According to the best available estimates, about three and a half Billion years ago, life to originated and developed into primitive blue-green algae (single-cell bacteria).  Then, around a Billion and a half years ago, multi-cell life evolved. Around half a Billion years ago multi-cell life evolved into plants and animals. These forms of life continue to evolve. "Bio-" means "Life".

100,000 Years ago - the NOOSPHERE - Mammals we call the "Primates" ("prime" or "first rank") evolved around 60 or 70 Million  years ago, and then into the "Great Apes" and then into "Hominids".  "Humans" with large brains like our own evolved about 100,000 years ago. "Noos-" means "Mind".


100,000 years ago, when a Human had an idea, he or she passed it on to another, and, if it was a good idea, it would be passed on to many others. Perhaps, combined with other ideas, it would spread far and wide. Indeed, although it might take hundreds or thousands of years, really good ideas were practically guaranteed to eventually spread worldwide.

Thus, the original NOOSPHERE, the "mind" of the Earth, was worldwide, but incredibly slow. However, it is said that thinking, no matter how slowly, is still thinking!

With the invention of written language, monuments, clay tablets, papyrus documents, books, and newspapers, our ideas became inscribed into a fixed form that would extend beyond individual lifetimes.

Thus, the evolving NOOSPHERE developed a "memory" something like that of an individual human mind. The Earth's "mind" was then not only worldwide, but more stable, and perhaps a bit faster.

With the advent of the telegraph, telephone, and radio in our grandparents and parent's time, and television in our own time, the speed and extent of communications was greatly extended. Thus, the evolving NOOSPHERE developed a speed and extent of "thinking" that exceeded that of an individual human mind.

However, the NOOSPHERE did not really come into its own until the advent of computers, especially personal computers, and the Internet. Add to that emails, blogs, and Social Media, and any idea that occurred to any human anywhere on Earth could be transmitted instantly to any other human, and could be shared and discussed and further developed by dozens, hundreds, or millions of people.

With the advent of the Tablet Computer and the SmartPhone, "everyone" had access to a high-quality camera (both still and video) and a way to share those images instantly with others, potentially a large fraction of the human race.

I find it amazing privilege to have lived at a time when the evolving NOOSPHERE developed a worldwide "awareness" that greatly exceeds that of an individual human mind. The Earth's "mind" has worldwide awareness and photographic memory of unprecedented scope, speed, and "intelligence".

We cannot be certain if the Universe exists "in the Mind of God" or in the "Matrix", but we can be certain that we have created an incredible worldwide Mind and Matrix. The only question in doubt is if we shall be able to manage it or not!


Anything new threatens the Elitist Authorities. The invention of written language was a threat to the keepers of "oral traditions" who passed down "history" from generation to generation. Once fixed into written form, these stories could not be altered as easily, which was an advantage for accuracy, but exposed many of the stories as unfounded "myths".

The invention of movable type made books available to more people, which was perceived as a threat to the religious and intellectual elite. Mass publication further diluted the power of the elite.

The elite, however, maintained control of the mass media (major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV broadcasting). Professional authors and reporters wrote the news and, under the control of the massive media conglomerate publishing and broadcasting corporations, they passed on a version of what they considered to be the "news" to us, "the great unwashed public". Of course, we had a voice, of sorts, via letters to the editor. And, we could choose which newspapers and broadcast stations we would patronize, but, when they were all basically the same, our control was limited.

However,  with the advent of (mostly) conservative Talk Radio, with opportunity for listener call-in, the public found a greater voice. With the advent of Fox News and other conservative-leaning broadcasting, the (mostly) liberal elite were set back further. However, even conservative-leaning media are elite in a sense.

Thus, as I noted above, it was the advent of personal computers, the internet, and especially the SmartPhone and Social Media that have really unseated the elite, both left, right, and middle!

We Citizen Journalists now have a presence via blogs, YouTube, FaceBook, and other Social Media!

Even the mass media find themselves using video posted by Citizen Journalists as the most far-reaching, real-time window on whatever is happening anywhere in the world at any moment in time.


Anything new both illuminates and distorts current reality. Here are a few examples


Many people are convinced that Global Warming (aka "Climate Change") is causing much more dangerous "Extreme Weather" events and that human activities, such as burning unprecedented quantities of fossil fuels, are mostly responsible.

Could it be that Citizen Journalist's graphic images and videos of Extreme Weather disasters, shared via Social Media and broadcast on TV news programs, are responsible for this misperception?

Is the US government, via NASA/NOAA hopping on that meme in an unfair way to push the "Environmentalist" political agenda?

The graphic below seems to indicate a dramatic INCREASE in Billion-Dollar Extreme Weather events between 1980 and 2016.
However, while the data are adjusted for CPI (Consumer Price Index, basically inflation) since 1980, they do not take into account the 42% population growth, and the 67% GDP per capita growth since 1980! We are living in larger homes, and business, industry, and public infrastructure has increased. Thus, any given storm that hits in a highly populated and developed area will naturally cause more expensive damage than one that impacts a remote, unpopulated region.

For that reason, the cost curves in the above graphic (the gray and black lines) are misleading. The 2016 level is drawn more than double the height it should occupy if population and GDP growth per capita are considered!

Furthermore, the  bar  graph gives equal representation to a "Severe Storm" (average cost $2.2B) and a "Tropical Cyclone" (average cost $16.1B), which is seven times more. (Reminds me of the restaurant that advertised 50/50% surf and turf that was heavy on  the steak and light on the lobster. They used one lobster and one cow and figured it was 50/50%!)


The graphic below, from
indicates that, although Violent Crimes actually DECREASED between 1993 and 2014, the general public believes that Violent Crimes have INCREASED year-to-year during that period!

Could it be that "citizen journalist's" graphic images and videos of Violent Crime incidents, shared via Social Media and broadcast on TV news programs, are responsible for this misperception?

Perhaps the amazing increase in SmartPhone and Tablet ownership, from fewer than 1 million in 2001 to over 200 million in 2014, is what distorted our perceptions.


ARCHIE BUNKER famously said "The only difference between New York and Los Angeles is that, when they shoot you in New York, you know why!"

If I asked you which major US cities are the most dangerous, which would  you guess? Well, since we are probably most sensitive to the number of especially noteworthy crimes, such as police shootings of unarmed men (especially Blacks) and the shootings of police by terrorists or mentally disturbed individuals, our perceptions may be distorted. The graphic nature of SmartPhone videos may add to the distortion.
The graphic above considers six large US cities. The leftmost panel shows that New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles have the most Violent Crimes per year (NYC over 50,000, Chicago over 24,000, and Los Angeles over 19,000 in 2014). But, considering population differences, which  US cities are really  the most dangerous?

The rightmost panel gives the answer. Detroit, with 13,616 Violent Crimes in 2014, has only one-twelfth the population of NYC, so its actual Violent Crime RATE is 3.7 times greater! Similarly, Philadelphia has a 3.3 times higher rate, and Chicago a rate 2.1 times greater. San Jose, the safest of the cities shown in the graphic, actually has a population greater than Detroit, the most dangerous!

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hal Wehling - Celebration of Life

Our good friend, Hal Wehling passed away last week, July 25, in The Villages, FL. Vi and I will remember him fondly as a loving life partner with Sandy Rib, and as a great entrepreneur and collector.


Although Hal was not Jewish, he joined Temple Shalom with Sandy.

We'll remember him as they attended events with us and all our Jewish friends. And how great they looked in the Temple Shalom Photo Directory published in 2010

Anyone who has been to Sandy and Hal's home knows it was always warm, friendly and inviting, full of great food and fine conversation.


I particularly enjoyed Hal's description of how he got into the Authentic English Fish and Chips business, founding a very successful chain of Squire Jack's shops in Cincinnati.  A Google search came up with a wonderful story about it from the August 1973 issue of Cincinnati Magazine. You can access it by clicking here and scrolling to page 88 and then page 135.
The story recounts how Hal and his wife Chris enjoyed inexpensive fish and chips, wrapped in newspaper, when they were young American students in London in 1952. How Hal rose through the ranks at Federated's Rike's Department Store in Dayton and their headquarters in Cincinnati, to manager of their merchandising information systems to implement computer decision-aiding.

In 1969, following the example of the spectacular success of Col. Sanders with fast-food chicken, they decided to follow suit with fish and chips. They drew upon their personal experiences in London, as well as some ideas from H. Salt fish and chips in California, and similar outlets in Miami.

By 1973, they had 16 stores in Cincinnati, employing 120 people, and grossing over $125 M. Subsequently, the chain grew to 32 stores in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan.

We'll remember his excitement and deep knowledge as he shared memories of his entrepreneurial success every time consume fish and chips! 


Another highlight of a visit to Hal and Sandy' home is the proliferation of clocks, watches, scrimshaw and automobile-related collectibles. Hal's penchant for collecting, and his joy in describing his treasures and sharing them with visitors, goes back at least as far as 1973. The fore-mentioned magazine story mentions ten antique automobiles and 130 clocks in their Cincinnati homes!

Only a couple of antique cars were in Hal and Sandy's Florida home last time I had a chance to look, but there are plenty of clocks, as well as an impressive collection of scrimshaw and artwork. Hal loved to describe these items and was proud of his ability to repair their intricate insides.

We'll remember his expertise and devotion to his collectibles, and his joy in sharing them with us.


A couple years ago, Hal was diagnosed with Parkinson's and he and Sandy asked me for advice because they knew I had been diagnosed with the disease in 2012 (though I probably had had it for a year or two before diagnosis). I told Hal that Parkinson's was a progressive, incurable, degenerative disease but that it could be ameliorated with medication (dopamine) and exercise. I introduced them to Gary Ingram's wonderful Parkinson Fight Club here in The Villages, where we confront the disease by drumming (with drumsticks on the table), by exercising to music, and by sharing information and ideas. We have "SECs" every day - Socialize, Exercise, and Communicate!

Hal became a regular participant in our support group meetings and Sandy joined the  caregivers group.

We'll remember them moving to the music and supporting the others in our mutual support group.


What turned out to be our final conversation took place a few weeks before he passed away. It was in Hals room at the Freedom Pointe nursing and rehab facility. Vi and I had a nice visit with Hal and Sandy that Sunday afternoon.

We'll remember him sitting in a chair, looking good, and, clear of mind, talking to us like the Hal we've known for a decade.


A celebration of life service is scheduled for 2:30PM this Sunday at the Lake Miona Recreation Center for Hal's relatives and many friends. Sandy, our good friend Barb Hays (and others I don't know) are organizing the event and I look forward to attending.

[ADDED 31 Jul] Over 150 people  attended the very well-run and successful (and fun) Celebration of Life for Hal Wehling. THANKS to Sandy and Barb and all the others who organized the event! It was a pleasure to meet and hear from Sandy's son Michael Rib and Hal's daughter Susan Jamerson and his son Bruce Wehling. Other speakers included Sandy, Maggie Dick (Villages Philharmonic), and even me (representing our common association with Temple Shalom and the Parkinson Fight Club). Special highlights were two beautifully-performed musical selections by grandson Aaron Rib on the flute.

Hal lived a wonderfully productive life, contributing what we hear was excellent authentic English fish and chips, and so much more to his family, his life partner Sandy, and so many friends.

We'll remember and celebrate Hal's example of a life well lived.

Ira Glickstein

Monday, June 27, 2016

Google is Watching YOU and all you do!

This month, at age 77, I acquired my very first kick-scooter. Granddaughter Michaela used my smartphone to take a series of photos as I rode past her, so I could post one to Facebook, which I did.

(THANKS for doing a really great job, Michaela!)

Well, a week later, Google informed me they had noticed a series of photos in my camera roll and, without asking, had assembled them into a .gif file "movie"! (Image at right.)


So, that is the story of how Google is looking at all my smartphone photos (and probably yours as well), analyzing them to find a closely timed series, and, unbidden, automatically creating a .gif file.


Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased to get this particular sequence. However, if Google is analyzing ALL my photos, and yours and those of all Google subscribers as well, isn't that some kind of massive violation of "privacy"?

Presumably, if we or anyone else has been "tagged" in any photo, they may recognize who happens to be in any photo, even if we inadvertently happen to be in the background of anyone's photo!

In addition to photos,  whenever we use our smartphones or tablets or laptops for any purpose, they know what website we viewed, what information we searched for, with whom we communicated, what we wrote, and when and where we were when we did so.

If they are similarly monitoring all other Google subscribers, they can easily figure out who we were with and when and where.

Many years ago, I concluded we had absolutely no "privacy" when it came to our use of networked computers, and I vowed never to type anything into a PC that I would not mind appearing on the front page of a newspaper or featured on TV. Indeed, I realized, whenever I used my credit card I was creating a computer record of when and where I was, and what I was doing. Whenever I use my RFID or barcode gate pass to enter a garage or other location, I create a computer record.

None of us who have cars, cellphones, credit cards, jobs, homes, or any modern electronic conveniences have any "privacy" anymore. We have got to get over it! (The only person who has any "privacy" is the neer-do-well who stole your car and credit card and is buying beer and gas on your account. :^)

Now, with computer-connected computers virtually everywhere; monitoring traffic, checking for shoplifters and thieves in stores; virtually nothing happens without being recorded, in color and surprisingly high definition.


Several years ago I was kayaking at Rainbow Springs State Park (FL) and my friend Warren got some great video of me using my water gun to douse our British friend Dee, and then Dee kayaking into a restricted swimming area.

I edited the video down to a minute and a quarter and posted it to my You Tube account.

Well, You Tube, apparently automatically, noticed the image was bobbing up and down and rolling from side to side (because Warren was in a bobbing and rolling kayak :^). So, they asked if I wanted them to stabilize the image, and they did!

Here it is inn amazingly stabilized form for your enjoyment and amazement.

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Great TED Video Demonstration of Microsoft HoloLens

A must-see TED video. WOW ! This demo of the "Microsoft HoloLens" is amazing.

Please click the arrow in the center of the above image to view Alex Kipman's marvelous TED video that demonstrates the next advance in Virtual Reality. (Many thanks to my son-in-law, Avi, for turning me onto it.)

Last month, my friend Peggy gave me "Google Cardboard", a simple, inexpensive, and rather primitive Virtual Reality viewer that uses an ordinary smart cellphone as the interactive display. I've enjoyed great fun with it: virtually riding a roller coaster; traveling thru space to the Moon, to Venus, to the other Planets and their moons; hovering above our beautiful Earth and diving down to a city in France, swooping along streets among virtual buildings.

While "Google Cardboard" is a wonderful example of Virtual Reality, especially considering the very low cost, the "Microsoft HoloLens" appears to be way, way, way beyond it! I look forward to the day when this type of device becomes available within the general consumer budget. I'm sure that day will come, and relatively soon. Considering my advanced age (:^) I can hardly wait. WOW !

Ira Glickstein

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Great Toe-Fungus Cover-Up

Daily treatment, over many months, is required to cure toe-fungus. You must wash and dry your feet thoroughly and then apply a topical solution such as tavaborole (Kerydin) to the surface of the affected nail. The medication does its work by penetrating through the nail plate. 

I do water-aerobics in public pools several times a week and was concerned that exposure of the affected area to the pool and shower environment might cause re-infection. My wife suggested that I could cover the affected area using a finger cut from a disposable glove.  A great idea, but I found that the cover-up would often work its way off the toe, even when covered by a pool shoe.

The image below shows my creative solution.
(1)  Make two cuts in the disposable glove. Cut directly across to separate a finger "A", and diagonally to separate the thumb and wrist area "B". Note that "B" includes part of the glove area between the thumb and the first finger.
(2) Fold about 1/4" of "A" over as shown to strengthen the edge, improve the seal, and reduce chances of tearing.
(3) Stretch "A" and pull it completely over the affected toe.
(4) Stretch "B" and pull it completely over "A" and secure the end around your heel. (5) Side view of final result.
I use latex gloves because they are more stretchy and less likely to tear than other disposable glove materials.

You may reuse the Great Toe-Fungus Cover-Up several times. Since latex has a tendency to stick to itself, you should drape "A" and "B" over a plastic knife or other suitable material between uses.

Enjoy! And please comment about how this idea works for you.

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Valentine

My Valentine - Vi (Stark) Glickstein [Published in the February newsletter for Freedom Pointe Independent Living, The Villages, FL]

I first met Vi in 1962 when she was living with her parents and completing her Bachelors in Chemistry at Brooklyn College. I was working in New Jersey, spending most weekends with my parents in Brooklyn and pursuing my social life there.
We met on a double-date, Vi with a buddy of mine, and me with my girlfriend of the time. We met again when Vi set me up on a blind date with a friend of hers. Vi impressed me as being both attractive and intelligent, and I decide that I liked her better than either of the other two girls.
So, when my buddy went to California for the summer, I tried to call her, but her parent's number was unlisted. I remembered where we had picked her up on the double-date and wrote her a letter. Well, I got the street right, but was off on the house number. Fortunately, the letter carrier knew Vi's mother and delivered my letter. Vi wrote back, and the rest is history.
We married in 1964 and have been together 52 years, with three daughters and five grands to show for it.
I knew I loved Vi when I realized that, in addition to her superior physical attributes, she was a lot smarter and more perceptive than me. On one of our early dates, it was raining when we left the restaurant, and I got drenched walking to get the car. She saved the day by telling me I had a dry shirt and jeans in the trunk. I had no idea they were there. As I changed into dry clothes in the back seat of the car (the first time I had been nearly naked with a member of the opposite sex) I marveled that, based on a quick glance earlier that day, she had seen my clothes and remembered where they were.
After our children were out of elementary school, Vi went to Binghamton University to earn her Masters in Computer Science. She became a software engineer and eventually led the team that developed the computer programs for the helicopters that got Osama Bin Laden. (Vi is undoubtedly the world's best lead software engineer. If you don't believe me, you can ask her :^)
Ira Glickstein

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Conservative View of US Political History

[from Bill Lifka] I’m re-reading the book: A Patriot’s History of the United States by Schweikart and Allen. The authors are professors of history at the University of Dayton and the University of Washington. Unusually for their field, the professors are Conservative in their political view.
According to Schweikart, the reason for their book was that Liberals have written the overwhelming majority of text books on American history. Not only do these tales tell the American story with a strong leftward slant but major events and characters are absent from the pages. Schweikart’s and Allen’s version received praise for accuracy and fairness from objective experts.

The truth is that America’s history of its famous and infamous characters is a mix of altruism and selfishness, honesty and corruption, courage and cowardice, wisdom and stupidity, prudence and rashness, unity and divisiveness. Natural cynicism makes me think the specific gravity leans to selfishness, corruption, cowardice, stupidity, rashness and divisiveness.


It raises questions why America has survived so far and how much longer a nation so confounded can survive. Survival to this point and beyond has nothing to do with American people standing head and shoulders above their counterparts in other countries. Americans are not exceptional as a group of individuals.

In my opinion, the reasons for success are a design of government structure that has withstood efforts of generations of Americans to destroy it and that the nation was placed under protection of an Almighty God from the very beginning, first by early European settlers and again by the Founders as they laid out the design of a governmental plan. Who knows how much further we can stretch the wisdom of the Founders and the patience of God?


1821 - A good place to begin my argument is in the year 1821 which was when the modern Democratic Party was formed. (It wasn’t the party of Jefferson, as widely proclaimed. Jefferson and Madison had very different principles and goals but they, especially Madison, did start the party system.)

I summarize the story from the history book as follows. Martin Van Buren was the son of a tavern owner in Kinderhook, New York. He resented the autocratic landowning families in this area and found enough like-minded politicians to control the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1821 enacting universal manhood suffrage.

He learned to employ newspapers as no other political figure had, linking journalists’ success to the Party’s fortunes. He perceived the necessity of discipline and organization to control the masses he sought to organize. He sought to create a political party dedicated to no other principle than holding power.

The problem with the political climate developing in the young nation was the disagreement over slavery which was dividing the states between the North and the South. Van Buren (and many others) viewed the logical result of this would be civil war, which he hoped to avoid. The best way to do that, he reasoned, was to remove slavery (and any other issues) as a party consideration.

He joined southern planters with northern non-elites to form a national organization dedicated to attaining and retaining political power. An important factor in attaining success was in taking advantage of the growing size of government which provided an ever-larger pool of government jobs with which to reward supporters: to the victors belong the spoils. Van Buren tied his star to a practice that, at its roots, viewed men as base and without principle. If they could be silenced on the issue of slavery with the promise of a job, what of their integrity? Yet, that was the strategy for the noble purpose of saving the nation from civil war.

1824 - Andrew Jackson was chosen as the standard bearer for Van Buren’s party in 1824. The Electoral College vote was: Jackson 99, (John Quincy) Adams 84 and Clay 41. There being no majority, the decision fell to the US House of Representatives. Clay was Speaker of the House and he detested Jackson so Adams received his votes. The one-term Adams’ administration was plagued with “pay back” acrimony for the “stolen election”.

1828 - In 1828, Jackson and his VP, John Calhoun, coasted into office. When he left office, Jackson had more totally consolidated power in the executive branch than any previous president, ensuring what Van Buren had dreaded: a powerful presidency subject to sectional pressures. His adept use of the spoils system created a large-scale government bureaucracy that further diminished states’ rights. This planted the seeds for the “New Deal” and the “Great Society” and (I would add) Obama’s eight year reign.

1836 - Van Buren followed Jackson into the presidency in 1836 to reap the blame for all that turned out badly from Jackson’s initiatives. After one term he was defeated by Whig candidates, William Henry Harrison (Tippecanoe) and John Tyler.

Harrison died after one month in office and Tyler succeeded him. The interesting thing about the succession is that the US Constitution’s language on presidential succession is not precisely clear that the Vice President automatically becomes the fully empowered president when his predecessor dies in office. Some doubts were raised. Tyler just assumed direct succession was the intention and took control. In this little-noted act he cemented the foundation of the Republic in future times of chaos and instability. This small snippet of history typifies the generally untidy political proceedings that have been part of our nation’s Presidential campaigns and the use of presidential power, once elected.

The formation of the modern Democratic Party isn’t a particularly heart-warming story especially the part about founding principles. However, there have been moments in later history where that party has provided great leadership for the country.


At this moment, the Democratic Party is at a low point in its history, despite having one of its members in the White House. At least, that’s my opinion. In many ways, it espouses the principles and methodologies Van Buren invented but has added cultural dogma and governing philosophy that moves the nation far from the direction the Founders intended and defined.

The Democratic Party is not alone in American political history in experiencing recurring shifts in goals, initiatives and methodologies. All have been the same in that regard. But now is a very bad time for one of the two major political parties to be focused on matters of lesser importance.

Of course, Donald Trump is doing his best to coax Republicans into the same mindset. The Democratic Debates have been particularly useless in addressing key national issues. The Republican debates have been notably better except for time spent in personal attacks. The debate this Thursday should provide good reminders of issues which should be the basis of your vote in November. Trump’s likely absence should raise the quality of debate immensely.

Bill Lifka