Laptop Updates; More about the Crisis in Cosmology; Political matters; A History of Labor Day

  • New laptop updates.
  • Another “calm down” reaction to the recent news about the “crisis in cosmology”;
  • Political matters, including Alabama’s defiance of the Supreme Court; parental rights; freedom and education;
  • And Heather Cox Richardson on the history of Labor Day.

Laptop updates. I solved one big problem I was having yesterday. The basic [cheap, $20] external CD/DVD drive I bought is, indeed, only intermittently recognized by my new Win11 laptop, upon inserting its USB socket. But at one point this morning, it worked, and through Windows Explorer I could see a new drive letter for the external drive, and a pop-up asking me what I wanted to do with the content of the disk (e.g. Run Install.exe). Woo hoo! I grabbed the Paint Shop Pro disk, popped it in, told the computer to run the install file. And got an error message that the software was incompatible with the 64-bit operating system. Huh. So then what. Then I thought, but didn’t I install this very same software on my previous laptop, 6 years ago? Let’s pop the install disc into that laptop. Same error message! Finally, I realized the problem: the version of PSP on that previous laptop is version 7, not the version 4.12 that I still have on a disc from 1996.

(The photo at top shows the new laptop in front, its screen partially hidden behind the two monitors it’s connected to, the install disc of Paint Shop Pro 7, and my reflection in the screen of the new laptop.)

So another trip downstairs to rummage through the library closet to find an install disc for PSP 7. Found it. Inserted into the external drive, ran the install, and got it installed on the new laptop! Success!

So then I thought, can I now play a music CD on this same drive? Popped one in. The National. Again, Win11 asks me what I want to do with an audio CD on this drive. I selected Windows Media Player (as I’ve used on the previous laptop). And it started! Music! Until half way through the first song, and it just stopped.

OK, I probably erred by buying the cheapest possible external drive. At least I got the one software install I still need from a disk done, onto the new laptop. Virtually everything else these days is installed by downloading. So we’ll see if I get much use out of the cheap drive from now on.


Without belaboring this, one more item about the so-called “crisis in cosmology.”

Big Think, Ethan Siegel, 6 Sep 2023: The “crisis in cosmology” is pure exaggeration, subtitled “There are a few clues that the Universe isn’t completely adding up. Even so, the standard model of cosmology holds up stronger than ever.”

Key Takeaways
    • One of the great problems one faces when working in an advanced field of science is the overwhelming success of the most modern, prevailing, consensus theory.
    • It’s important to probe that theory for any holes or cracks, as if observations or measurements contradict what the theory predicts, there’s a chance for a scientific revolution.
    • In the field of cosmology, our consensus theory is a ΛCDM cosmology arising from an inflationary hot Big Bang. The “crisis” you’ve been reading about is a complete exaggeration; the theory, overall, is incredibly successful.

My point: even the best journalism has a bias toward the new and unusual. While the truly new and unusual — at a large scale — occurs rarely in science. Stories like those about the “crisis in cosmology” in the mainstream media are invariably overblown for the sake of a good story. Any recent set of problematic observations is always considered within the context of a vast number of consistent observations that have accumulated over literally decades.

That said, this is a cool article that summarizes our current understanding of the history and structure of the cosmos, with lots of pretty diagrams.


Latest batch of political items, headlines and a quote or two only.

NY Times, Opinion by David Firestone, 6 Sep 2023: Alabama Cherishes Its History of Defying the Federal Courts

In doing so, Alabama illustrated how contempt for the law — not to mention for equal representation and basic fairness — is an animating value in whole swaths of America.


On parental rights, from a year ago.

Adam Lee, OnlySky, 15 Sep 2022: No one has the right to starve a child’s mind, subtitled “How New York’s Hasidic Jewish schools fail their students”


And this year.

Adam Lee, OnlySky, 7 Sep 2023: Freedom requires education: There’s no choice without knowledge


If you want to be free, you have to have an understanding of the choices. Conservatives who push book bans and rage against pluralistic education are fighting against their own stated goal.


Finally for today, a history of Labor Day. Most people do not know this; I didn’t really know all this until hearing a radio interview last weekend (I don’t remember by whom), and then reading this piece by historian Heather Cox Richardson.

Heather Cox Richardson, 3 Sep 2023: September 3, 2023

Almost one hundred and forty-one years ago, on September 5, 1882, workers in New York City celebrated the first Labor Day holiday with a parade. The parade almost didn’t happen: there was no band, and no one wanted to start marching without music. Once the Jewelers Union of Newark Two showed up with musicians, the rest of the marchers, eventually numbering between 10,000 and 20,000 men and women, fell in behind them to parade through lower Manhattan. At noon, when they reached the end of the route, the march broke up and the participants listened to speeches, drank beer, and had picnics. Other workers joined them.

Their goal was to emphasize the importance of workers in the industrializing economy and to warn politicians that they could not be ignored. Less than 20 years before, northern men had fought a war to defend a society based on free labor and had, they thought, put in place a government that would support the ability of all hardworking men to rise to prosperity.

Fascinating stuff. We ignore history at our peril. Americans, I’ve noticed, treat holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veterans’ Day, as opportunities to go the beach, or go shopping; the person on the street often has little idea what these holidays are all about.

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