Wednesday, November 02, 2022

If You Submitted an Absentee Ballot in Pennsylvania (Old information unfortunately)

I'd worked on a few elections in Pennsylvania, but the last time was in 2016. Some rules about absentee voting changed after that, but I was unaware of the change as I hadn't worked on elections in a few years. I apologize to anyone who read what I'd written here as it was wrong. And you have no idea how much I hate to be wrong. Thanks to Janet Lunde for the current information.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

The Downfall of Google (or Alphabet)

Source Forge encourages people to write reviews of software products.  While I was once a strong Google evangelist, I'm not anymore, so I reviewed Google.:

"Google is now a paid-ad search, not a data search"

Edited 2022-02-02 (Moderated: pending)

Pros: It used to be very useful and still can be at times. Google used to base its catalog on relevant data found in the Web site, and this is still true in some subject areas.

Cons: Paid ads and Wikipedia references can dominate search results in some subject areas and are sometimes irrelevant to the search. Google is practically useless for finding travel information. Sites like Tripadvisor and buy so many ads for so many tourist sites, a casual user might think the only way to visit certain areas is to go through third party sites.

Overall: For the last few years, Google has been putting paid ads and Wikpedia over actual search results. While I have been a daily user of Google for over 20 years, I'm going to use other search engines in the future. Google search results page should have three columns - one for actual results based on page content, one for ad-based results and one for Wikipedia.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Why Do Anti-Science People Even Want to Go to Science Fiction Conventions?

I don’t understand why anti-science people even want to attend science fiction conventions that have rules dictated by science to prevent illnesses.

Take the way Con Suites have changed over the last decade or so -- the food handling & distribution rules have gotten stricter. As a result, less Norovirus and the like spreading at cons over the last few years.

And I won't even remind people that by the late '80s, a bowl of condoms was generally available in many Con Suites. Why? Because science learned that you were less likely to get AIDS and other such diseases if you used condoms when you had sex. And most fans understood what that meant.

Now, conventions are starting to reopen with strict rules about vaccinations and masking. I’ve worn masks up to 10 hours a day while working on movies/TV shows - it didn’t kill me. There haven’t been major COVID-19 outbreaks lately on any movie/TV production as masking rules are strict & most people are vaxxed.

As cons reopen, they’re trying to not spread a potentially deadly disease. I will only go to cons with strict rules so long as COVID-19 is so active. We had hoped to go to Capclave last week but had a family funeral to attend. Capclave was about 2/3rds its regular size, but the people who attended seemed to have a good time despite the masking requirement.

We have started to go to movies and concerts again, but we always wear M95 masks in theaters.

We hope to take our first European cruise next year, on Viking, which has strict rules about vaccinations and masking. Most current cruisers report that most of Europe is open, most areas require masks in public and many require some sort of vaccination card. That makes the cruise and touristing sound very safe.

COVID-19 proves you can’t fight science - science always wins.

Found a science-based graphic from the summer of 2020 that shows wearing masks does not reduce the oxygen you breathe in. This was done by Dr. Megan Hall who had treated many COVID-19 patients and tried to reassure them with facts about masking:

2022.01.07. Things have changed some since I wrote this with the rise of the very transmissible Omicron variant. Luckily, most people who've had 3 shots of any vaccine tend to have something that's more like a mild cold or fever - so we're getting more transmission but less severe illness and fewer deaths among vaccinated people. Not sure if TV shows/movies are generally in production. In mid-December, just as Omicron was getting more common, we went to the World Science Fiction Convention in DC, a convention that required people be vaxxed and masked. About 2,500 people attended (we think - they never did announce a real number). The weather was mostly very nice so people could open their windows and congregate on balconies. We heard about 30 people developed breakthrough infections after the convention, most fairly mild.

Friday, September 17, 2021

An Attempt to Talk Sense to Republican Legislators in Pennsylvania

The Republican leadership of the Pennsylvania legislature is trying to turn Pennsylvania into the next Arizona vis a vis election security. My state rep & state senator are both Republicans. Here's what I sent to them today: 

I am opposed to the Pennsylvania legislature wasting the taxpayers' money on yet another audit of the 2020 election. It's ironic that the legislators are convinced that the 2020 election was completely accurate when it elected them, but completely wrong when it elected President Biden. Sad that you don't see anything wrong with that. 

I worked for Allegheny County as an election worker for several elections, including the 2016 election. Election workers I worked with only cared about running an accurate election and ensuring that every registered voter could vote. We were members of both major political parties and there were likely Independents working as well. We never discussed or argued politics - our job was only to enable a fair election. I'm sorry that I'm no longer able to work on elections because I care about fair elections and I would stand up against anyone trying to intimidate voters. It's sad that Republican Pennsylvania legislators no longer care about free and fair elections.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Importance of Evelyn Gold...and a Rant

I've been helping Mark Olson and Leah Zeldes with research on Fancyclopedia, an online encyclopedia about fandom, conventions, writers, artists and fans. We were stuck on Evelyn Gold for a bit, H. L. Gold's wife and the associate editor of Galaxy during the '50s. In many ways, she was the main public representative of the magazine since HL had agoraphobia and didn't like to leave their apartment.

Anyway, she disappeared from all public records in 1957, about the time that she and HL divorced. I've been using to research people, and there were only maybe four records that were about Evelyn Stein Gold, which seemed like way too few. I also wondered if she just might have died after her divorce. seems to display some records almost randomly. I took another look yesterday and found a family tree that connected her to the Spencer family. Huh. Family tree data is sometimes not reliable, but I poked around a bit more and found some official records. Evelyn Gold had married Paul Donner Spencer in 1961. She later called herself Eve Paige Spencer and became an artist.

Leah Zeldes then found more about her later life, including a short YouTube video and more.

Eve had a really fascinating life. But when I found her obituary, here's all it said:

Ms. Spencer, 88, of Rancho Santa Fe, passed away May 11. Services to be held at a later date.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Rancho Santa Fe Record (Online) from
May 19 to Jun. 18, 2009.

I poked around more to see if there was a real obituary for her anywhere. Nothing.

And so, my rant: Write your own obituary or get a friend to write one for you. My mother was a professional obituary writer for a college magazine for about 40 years. It's not that hard. A factual obituary can help prevent you from completely disappearing from the record after you die (and we all will die one day).

Though I need to remember to update mine. I wrote my own obituary as part of a college class on death, dying & eschatology. I've done a few things since then...

Evelyn Gold/Eve Paige Spencer's Fancyclopedia entry.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Never Forget the Senators Who Voted Against the Capitol Insurrection Commission

I am still angry over the #SeditionCaucus.  I'm angrier over the Senators who voted down a Congressional Commision to investigate the 1/6 Capitol Insurrection.  Never forget that these people did not believe we should have a formal investigation over a group of Trumpists whose behavior led to the deaths of multiple people on the grounds of the Capitol & caused millions of dollars in damage to the building:

NAYs ---35

Barrasso (R-WY)
Boozman (R-AR)
Capito (R-WV)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Cramer (R-ND)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagerty (R-TN)
Hawley (R-MO)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kennedy (R-LA)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
Lummis (R-WY)
Marshall (R-KS)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Tuberville (R-AL)
Wicker (R-MS)
Young (R-IN)

Not Voting - 11

Blackburn (R-TN)
Blunt (R-MO)
Braun (R-IN)
Burr (R-NC)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Murray (D-WA)
Risch (R-ID)
Rounds (R-SD)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sinema (D-AZ)
Toomey (R-PA)

As awful as the people who voted against the comission are, the people who were too cowardly to show up and vote were even worse. I have never seen a vote where 11 senators did not show up in recent times. And for people like Sinema and Toomey to say "I couldn't be there but I would have voted yes." is way beyond hypocritical.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Letter to Senator Toomey Regarding the COVID-19 Relief Bill

Dear Senator Toomey

I appreciate that three times this year, you have voted your conscience rather than follow Republican dogma. Please do something to help the average Pennsylvanian more than your support of the Trump "detax-the-rich" tax bill did in 2017 - vote FOR the COVID-19 relief bill. The stimulus payments are very important to the unemployed and the under-employed. Any stimulus we get will go to our local food bank and other charities because we know how much the money is needed by so many.

There have been many complaints about the move to have the over-indebted college graduates' college loan debt forgiven or reduced. A $15 minimum wage would help graduates with loans and minimum jobs to pay off more of their loans. It would lift millions of families out of poverty the way that Reganomics never did.

It's your choice. Can you vote your conscience one more time?

Laurie Mann
Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Never Forget the Sedition Caucus

These people continued to question the right of states to certify their own elections after Trump's domestic terrorists invaded the Capitol on 1/6/21.  When Congress reconvened after the terrorists left the Capitol (and only about 50 of them were arrested despite the damage and bringing weapons to the Capitol), they continued with their "The election was fraudulent for Biden" mantra.  But, by 3:45am on 1/7/21, the votes cast were acknowledged by Congress and Joe Biden's election to the presidency was formally certified.

But it's important to never forget who encouraged "the election was fraudulent for Biden" lie beyond Trump - many Congressional Republicans.  Most of them want support by Trump Cultists in the future.  Trump Cultists are not going away.  But, even though many Republicans voted for Trump, I don't think all Trump voters are Trump cultists. [[3/17 note:  And, in fact, over 100,000 Republicans have left the party since the Capitol Insurrection]]  Which means, in a few months or years, these people may see that aligning themselves with Trump may not get them elected.  They may claim that they really didn't stand with Trump.  These people absolutely engaged in the seditious act of denying the reality of an election.  These members of Congress should never be elected to any office in the future by any rational voter:

United States Senate
Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Rick Scott (R-FL)
Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)
United States House of Representatives
Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Rick Allen (R-GA)
Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
Brian Babin (R-TX)
James Baird (R-IN)
Jim Banks (R-IN)
Jack Bergman (R-MI)
Stephanie Bice (R-OK)
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Dan Bishop (R-NC)
Lauren Boebert (R-CO)
Mike Bost (R-IL)
Mo Brooks (R-AL)
Ted Budd (R-NC)
Tim Burchett (R-TN)
Michael Burgess (R-TX)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Kat Cammack (R-FL)
Jerry Carl (R-AL)
Earl Carter (R-GA)
John Carter (R-TX)
Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)
Ben Cline (R-VA)
Michael Cloud (R-TX)
Andrew Clyde (R-GA)
Tom Cole (R-OK)
Erik Crawford (R-AR)
Warren Davidson (R-OH)
Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Byron Donalds (R-FL)
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Neal Dunn (R,-FL)
Ron Estes (R-KS)
Pat Fallon (R-TX)
Michelle Fischbach (R-MN)
Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI)
Charles Fleischmann (R-TN)
C. Scott Franklin (R-FL)
Russ Fulcher (R-ID)
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Mike Garcia (R-CA)
Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Bob Good (R-VA)
Lance Gooden (R-TX)
Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Sam Graves (R-MO)
Mark Green (R-TN)
Marjorie Greene (R-GA)
H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA)
Michael Guest (R-MS)
Jim Hagedorn (R-MN)
Andy Harris (R-MD)
Diana Harshbarger (R-TN)
Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
Kevin Hern (R-OK)
Yvette Herrell (R-NM)
Jody Hice (R-GA)
Clay Higgins (R-LA)
Richard Hudson (R-NC)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Ronny Jackson (R-TX)
Chris Jacobs (R-NY)
Mike Johnson (R-LA)
Bill Johnson (R-OH)
Jim Jordan (R-OH)
John Joyce (R-PA)
Trent Kelly (R-MS)
Mike Kelly (R-PA)
Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Jake LaTurner (R-KS)
Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)
Billy Long (R-MO)
Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)
Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)
Tracey Mann (R-KS)
Brian Mast (R-FL)
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Lisa McClain (R-MI)
Mary Miller (R-IL)
Carol Miller (R-WV)
Barry Moore (R-AL)
Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Troy Nehls (R-TX)
Ralph Norman (R-SC)
Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Jay Obernolte (R-CA)
Steven Palazzo (R-MS)
Gary Palmer (R-AL)
Scott Perry (R-PA)
August Pfluger (R-TX)
Bill Posey (R-FL)
Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA)
Tom Rice (R-SC)
Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Harold Rogers (R-KY)
John Rose (R-TN)
Matthew Rosendale, Sr. (R-MT)
David Rouzer (R-NC)
John Rutherford (R-FL)
Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Jason Smith (R-MO)
Adrian Smith (R-NE)
W. Gregory Steube (R-FL)
Thomas Tiffany (R-WI)
William Timmons IV (R-SC)
Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ)
Tim Walberg (R-MI)
Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
Randy Weber, Sr. (R-TX)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)
Roger Williams (R-TX)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Ron Wright (R-TX)
Lee Zeldin (R-NY)

3/17 When the House voted to give gold medals to the police who fought the Capital Insurrection, 12 Republicans voted against HR 1085. So it's interesting that even most members of the Sedition Caucus are starting to realize that they need to acknowledge the help they got from the Capitol police that day.

Here are the 17 Republican House members who could not bring themselves to acknowledge the Capitol police that day:

Representatives Who Voted No

Biggs, R-AZ
Cloud, R-TX
Clyde, R-GA
Gaetz, R-FL
Gohmert, R-TX
Good, R-VA
Gooden, R-TX
Greene, R-GA
Harris, R-MD
Massie, R-KY
Rose, R-TN
Steube, R-FL
Representatives Who Did Not Vote

Arrington, R-TX
Brady, R-TX
Curtis, R-UT
Kinzinger, R-IL
Wilson, R-SC

How can Republicans seriously call themselves "law and order" when they supported violence against the government, refused a certify a lawful election, and then refused to acknowledge the way many Capitol police fought the Loud Boys? Never forget the Congressional representatives who did this.

And, never forget the Senators who voted against Capitol Insurrection Commission, and those who couldn't be bothered to vote at all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

COVID-19 Spread After 9/22 Trump Rally in Moon Township, PA, Part 3

  How many of his own voters does a maskless, crowded, shoutfest called a Trump rally sicken or even kill?

Three weeks ago, Trump had large rally in Moon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. A few thousand attended from western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio & the panhandle of West Virginia.
So far, there's no evidence that #COVID has increased much in these areas:

                                    October 13 map

                                    October 1 map

                                    September 24 map

While there are some increases in Western Pennsylvania, the main hotbed for spread in Pennsylvania over the last month has been the Centre county area, home to Penn State.  Centre county is the reddish county in the upper right hand corner of the map (it really doesn't show up much on the 10/1 map).

So I'm glad to have been wrong about Trump's 9/22 rally in Moon Township.  It might have contributed slightly to COVID-19 spread, but there's no evidence it was yet another super-spreader event.

                                    October 13 map

                                                October 1 map

                                              September 23, 2020

Sadly, Pennsylvania "turned orange" in its COVID-19 outbreak over the last few weeks, probably mostly due to the Penn State Surge.  It has been yellow most of the year, and Allegheny county is still yellow.

                                    October 13 map


Buy a "Science Always Wins" shirt!

Thursday, October 01, 2020

COVID-19 Spread After 9/22 Trump Rally in Moon Township, PA, Part 2

 How many of his own voters does a maskless, crowded, shoutfest called a Trump rally sicken or even kill?

A week ago, Trump had large rally in Moon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. A few thousand attended from western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio & the panhandle of West Virginia.

So far, there's no evidence that #COVID has increased much in these areas:

COVID-19 spreads gradually. It can take a couple of days to a couple of weeks for the number of cases to increase by much. Here's are detailed Allegheny County maps for 9/23 and 9/30:

So far, there's no evidence that COVID-19 has increased much in the Allegheny County as a result of Trump's recent maskless rally. Which is good so far. Will double-check again next week.