Sam Aurelius Milam III
I have an old-style telephone answering machine in my office. It doesn’t have a USB port or any wireless capabilities. The only connections that it has are one for power, one for the old-style land line, and one for the telephone. I turned off the ringer in the telephone, so I don’t have to listen to it ring. I know that I’m receiving a message when I hear somebody leaving one. If I want to talk, then I can pick up the telephone. If not, then I can erase the message.
On Tuesday, July 19, 2022, I walked into my office and saw that the message light was blinking on my answering machine. I played the message. It wasn’t an incoming call. It was a recording of a conversation between the owner of the property where I’m presently staying, and one of her neighbors. I brought the owner to my office, where she listened to the recording and confirmed that the conversation had taken place an hour or so earlier, in her dining room. How the conversation got from her dining room to my answering machine was a mystery.
We pondered the situation. There’s an internet modem in her dining room, a few feet from were the conversation took place, but it didn’t seem likely to me that an internet modem would include a microphone. However, my land line goes through the internet modem, so we considered it. The problems with the theory were that, if the modem listened to the conversation and sent it to a remote location, via the land line, then why would my answering machine have interpreted it as an incoming call, and recorded it? If the modem sent the message via the broadband connection, then why would whoever was at the remote location send the message back to me, via the land line, for my answering machine to record? The theory didn’t make any sense.
Across the dining room, through the kitchen, around a corner, and through a door, there’s an Alexa. Those things are always listening, but this recording was loud and clear, without any echo or fading such as might be expected when a microphone is a long distance from whatever is being recorded. The Alexa connects to the internet modem, but the same questions apply. Why would my telephone answering machine detect an outgoing transmission from the Alexa and record it as an incoming call? If the message went out via broadband, then why would whoever was receiving it send it back to me, via the land line? Neither of the two theories made any sense.
We wondered if maybe there was a hidden listening device somewhere in her dining room. I made some silly joke about speaking clearly into the flower arrangement, the electrical outlets, or the smoke alarm. After some consideration, we wondered about the neighbor. If she’d been carrying her cell phone in her hip pocket, then maybe she butt-dialed the land line telephone number during the conversation. It seemed unlikely that she’d just happen to butt-dial that particular number, out of all of the numbers that she probably has in her cell phone, and that she’d dial it at that particular time, but we asked her anyway. She confirmed that her cell phone had been in her pocket during the visit. She checked her record of calls and, sure enough, her cell phone had made a call to the land line on the date in question. The record of calls didn’t give the time of the call, but it was still a reasonably believable and mostly innocuous answer to the mystery.
Of course, butt-dialing a cell phone isn’t necessarily innocuous. Imagine butt-dialing your wife, during a rendezvous with your girlfriend. Imagine butt-dialing the secretary, while you’re describing her to your buddies at the gym. Imagine butt-dialing the auditors, during a meeting of the board of directors. A cell phone should always be disabled when it isn’t actually being used. To rephrase an old proverb, there’s many a slip twixt lip and hip.
My cell phone sits on a shelf in the room next to my office, with its battery removed. I install the battery and turn on the cell phone only if I actually need to use it for something. I'm usually capable of getting through the day without it. Somebody else who does the same thing with his cell phone will probably make the same discovery. The fact is that cell phones aren’t as essential as we’ve been led to believe. They certainly aren’t as essential to the people who have them as they are to the marketing swindlers who sell them.
Also see A Good Beginning, in the January 2018 issue.
Also see Problem One, in the July 2021 issue.
Also see The Bit Left from The Big Lift, in the February 2013 issue, and
The Principles of Liberty, in Pharos.
Letters to the Editor
... still working on [name withheld] creating the PDF file regarding my research & proof that the state of Hawaii that was never validly entered into the U.S. via the Newlands Resolution. [The Newlands Resolution annexed Hawaii as a U.S. territory in 1898.]
I proved that the vote in the Senate in 1898 was a fraud & that the Congress did not have the authority to even use the joint resolution to bypass a constitutional provision (Article 2, Sec 2).
This historical fraud must be corrected....
—E. E., a prisoner
My research has provided the same results for other issues. I’ve demonstrated that the U.S. government doesn’t have any legal, historical, or constitutional validity whatsoever. Anybody who doubts my conclusions can study my essays under the heading The Supreme Flaw of the Land Essays, in Pharos.
I just got the new August newsletter that you sent me! “Thank you”....
... But Sam, since I last wrote to you, the quality of this prison food has gotten much worse. You see the cost of a dozen eggs is now $5.50 and milk is $5.00 a gallon, and hamburger meat is $3.50 per pound, and the
ADC can no longer afford to buy it to feed us. So we haven’t had any eggs in over a month. And it was about 2 weeks ago that I had a small cup of watered-down diluted milk, and at breakfast they give us a 1/2 cup of watered down diluted apple juice that has no nutritional value, and every day for lunch or dinner we no longer get tea or Kool-Aid, they give us plain water, and they serve us cheap soy meatballs or cheap soy patties, that is so nasty I won’t eat it. These dirty bastards are now starving us to death. Sam, it’s now gotten so damned bad we are lucky to get a slice of bologna or some hot dogs to eat on, and we haven’t had any hamburger to eat in 2 months. And for fruit they give us watered down applesauce. Sam, can you please print something about all of this and help us spread the word?
Sam, I am absolutely for sure there is no way that they could possibly be meeting proper FDA guidelines on nutrition, because I know that as grown men we should be getting at least 12 ounces of milk per day and 6 ounces of undiluted fruit juice per day....
Sometime during the 1970s, I received a request for funds from an agency that was trying to save the starving children. I wrote to the people at the agency and told them that if they saved the starving children in that generation, then there’d be twice as many starving children in the next generation. That might not have been exactly accurate, but it was accurate in principle. While I was writing this editorial reply, I checked with Google. In answer to my inquiry about how many people in America don’t have enough to eat, Google gave answers ranging from about 14 million to about 41 million. That seems impossibly high, in America, but those are the numbers that were reported. Keeping those numbers in mind, I suggest a rereading of my article Problem One, in the July 2021 issue. As I noted in that article, I don’t have an answer to the problem.
I’m inclined to believe that the situation reported at the Arkansas Department of Corrections is typical. I don’t know this for a fact but it seems likely to me that the same situation might exist in the other prisons in America. In the light of that speculation, I suggest that the prisons in America might reasonably be compared to the well-known story of the canaries in the coal mine. Maybe we’re all going to run out of food. All that I can suggest at this point is to hope for the miracles that I mentioned in Problem One, and keep your powder dry.
Keep up the good work.
—Sir Donald the Elusive
According to Heinlein
Sam Aurelius Milam III
On Monday, August 22, 2022, I watched a PBS NewsHour report about starving people in the Greater Horn of Africa. The people in the report lived in a tent city that was so huge that, to see all of it, you had to see it from above. To make the entire place visible, the view was from so high that you couldn’t even tell one tent from the next. It was huge.
One woman in the report had eight starving children. It seems to me that having an eighth child is a stupid thing to do when you already can’t feed the first seven. Another woman had a child that weighed half of what it should have weighed. She waited while the WFP man stuffed some nutrition packs into her purse. Then, she stuffed her cell phone into the purse, on top of the nutrition packs. It seems really stupid to me to pay for a cell phone when you can’t even afford to feed your baby.
Heinlein warned us to never underestimate the power of human stupidity. Now, with nearly 8 billion people in the world, and more starving people than we can possibly feed, we’re doing everything possible to feed them anyway. The only results are to increase the population and the number of starving people.
Heinlein also warned us that good intentions are the cause of more folly than all other causes put together. There are more consequences of our good intentions than mere starvation. See Darwin’s Wolf, in the February 2021 issue. It seems possible to me that the people who’re trying the hardest to help are the stupidest people of them all.
My thanks to the following: El Dorado Bob; Betty; Eric, of Stockton, California; and Sir Donald the Elusive.
As retold by Sam Aurelius Milam III.
An old Indian chief sat in his hut on the reservation, smoking a ceremonial pipe, and listening to the two U.S. government officials who’d been sent to interview him.
“Chief Two Eagles,” said one official, “you have observed the white man for 90 years. You’ve seen his wars and his material wealth. You’ve seen his progress, and the damage he’s done.” The chief nodded in agreement. The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”
The chief stared at the government officials for a while and then calmly replied, “When white man found the land, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, plenty of buffalo, plenty of beaver, women did all the work, medicine man was free, Indian man spent all day hunting and fishing, and all night having sex.”
Then the chief leaned back and smiled. “White man stupid enough to think that he could improve on a system like that.”
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor
In the situation comedy Leave it to Beaver, how could the network censors have failed to notice the “off-color” meaning of the term beaver cleaver?