Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘afghanistan’ Category

“THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES” PLUS THE 2021 NONSENSE CONTINUES

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I saw a classic movie the other night: “The Best Years of Our Lives” It was a 1946 movie about three servicemen returning from World War Two and the difficulties they had re-adjusting to civilian life. Surprisingly, to me at least, it was quite watchable. I find it fascinating how some old movies become pretty much unwatchable after even a few decades, while others become timeless classics. Partly personal preference I am sure, but I am sure there are other factors at play. It was also interesting in that the movie took a very honest look at what we now call PTSD, these three veterans had serious issues. I’m sort of stuck on the idea that prior to 1980 or so most movies portrayed an idealised “Father Knows Best” view of American culture, so it was refreshing to see one with a more honest take. Unfortunately they all worked out their problems in the end and lived happily ever after, which is a far cry from the realities of PTSD.

Still, a movie I really enjoyed. As did the people at the time, it was a wildly popular movie, and won nine academy awards. Including the first time a non professional actor won an academy award, Harold Russel; and the only time a performer won two awards for the same performance, Harold Russell again. I guess it’s a good thing that a movie about people dealing with personal demons was so popular, even if the demons were unrealistically vanquished. It’s Hollywood, happy endings are what they are all about. Hey, even I, who recently lost all faith in humanity, liked it.

In politics: The utter ridiculousness of calls for Joe Biden to resign. It really is transcendentally absurd. 13 Americans die, and the GOP falls all over themselves claiming Biden is unfit to lead and should resign. Were there calls for Roosevelt to resign after Pearl Harbor? Reagan to resign after the Beirut Barracks bombing? Trump after Covid killed hundreds of thousands of Americans? Bush to resign after 9/11? Maybe, but not by mainstream leaders of the opposition party. This really shows just how out of touch with reality the GOP has gotten, because they refuse to accept Biden as the elected president, that somehow that translates into he’s unfit to lead. Give me a break. And whatever criticism one wants to aim at Biden, he successfully pulled off one of the greatest airborne evacuations in history, over 150,000 people evacuated in two weeks.

Not surprising, manufactured outrage is all the GOP has. They’ve been spreading a story that Biden repeatedly checked his watch during the ceremony as the US dead from Kabul were unloaded. No, he didn’t: Did Biden Check Watch 13 Times During Transfer of Fallen Soldiers? In fact he may once have glanced at his watch, though that isn’t even clear. No worries though, Fox News replayed the video at half speed to exaggerate the glance and make it appear more than it was: Fox News manipulates its own video to spread allegation that Biden looked at his watch during transfer of fallen troops. Kind of like how the British during World War Two edited a film of Hitler to make it look like he was dancing a little jig after the surrender of France. Of course Britain was at war with Germany at the time and making Hitler look bad was a very reasonable propaganda exercise. Um, is Fox News at war with America? Apparently, if they are happy to alter a film to make Biden look bad. Nonsense like this not only destroys the mainstream media’s credibility, it’s a big factor in tearing America apart and making it ungovernable. And Fox News isn’t the only one, but they led the way.

Sigh. A good article about China, Taiwan, and the US. More accurately, just how nation states are adamant about not letting provinces secede. The US paid a terrible price preventing the Confederacy from seceding, and if anything the Chinese are even more adamant that Taiwan is a part of China. For the US to go to war with China to prevent it reunifying with Taiwan is utter folly. Still, nations have gotten into stupid wars for no good reason throughout history, just hoping this doesn’t turn into one of those wars. Good read:  American Civil War and the Lesson for China and Taiwan.

And then some of today’s truly whacked nonsense. A man who no doubt thinks of himself as a patriot and a Christian calls for tens of millions of Americans to be literally starved into supporting Trump’s “Stop the Steal” lies: ‘You Get Nothing’: Josh Bernstein Calls for Democratic Voters to Be Starved Until Biden Resigns. This would of course include millions of innocent children, not to mention millions of Trump supporters. This is called “collective punishment,” and is a human rights violation and war crime of the first order, something only the most hideous authoritarian governments do. (cough) Nazis (cough.) And unlike the Nazi’s who would massacre villages for supporting insurgents, he’s talking about collective punishment for people exercising their right to vote. And once again I apologize for my prior claims that comparing Trumpism to Nazism was overblown, I was wrong.

And for dessert: Christian Preacher: If Trump Isn’t Reinstated, Your Wives May Be Raped. The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Thoughts and prayers to those impacted by Ida. And I am doing something about it, I write about Global Warming constantly to fight the fossil fuel industry lies that are making the consequences of Global Warming far worse than they needed to be. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe and dry everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Hitler jig photo, taken at the surrender of France to Germany on 22 June 1940. It was from a film that was altered to make Hitler dance a little jig, but I couldn’t find that online. Credit: Unknown, likely Public Domain under US copyright law, claimed as Fair Use in any case.)

Written by unitedcats

September 1, 2021 at 4:35 pm

THE STUPID, IT BURNS

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OK, been having a bit of a writer’s block. Or more like writer’s frustration? I couldn’t find the origin of the phrase “the stupid, it burns” for one. Granted that’s just a minor frustration, but part of the bigger picture. So so so much stupidity in modern America these days. To the point where I am debating just changing the name of the blog to “The Stupid, It Burns.” And calaloguing every bit of abject stupidity I find among the day’s news. There’s more than enough to go around, hell, people have built careers around cataloging it. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert come to mind, although no doubt there are countless others.  It’s tempting, but I do like writing about science and history and such, so I would get tired of it. Not to mention depressed and angry.

So instead, I’ll just make this post about rampant stupidity. Especially because three of the biggest stupidities of my life in America are big news lately. And a special sort of stupid. Things that are going to cost tens of trillions of dollars over the rest of my life. Not billions, trillions of dollars. As Senator Dirkson observed in the seventies: “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” He’d no doubt be horrified today because the billion has turned into a trillion. And we’re also talking about countless American lives that will be lost, easily in the hundreds of thousands, and we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t go into the millions.

The first of course is Covid. Early estimates were that it would ultimately cost the US economy 16 trillion dollars. And that was assuming we got it under control, which we have manifestly not done yet. The second is global warming. Fires, floods, droughts are steadily ratcheting upwards, and the costs once again are in the trillions of dollars. Lastly of course the so called War on Terror, in the news lately because of the nightmare of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. We spent over two trillion dollars: New Report Finds US Has Spent Over $2.3 Trillion on Afghanistan War. And that’s just part and parcel of the War on Terror and freaking endless US military spending, more than the next twelve highest military spending nations combined … most of which are our allies to boot. These three mind numbing endless (and growing) idiotic expenses are why America’s infrastructure, education, and health care is the shame of the developed world.

And none of them are being addressed or rectified in any meaningful way by either American political party. One party, the GOP,  is more or less ignoring them, when not actually making them worse. All in the name of politics and winning elections, and of course fully in service of their corporate overlords who get ever richer while the nation and planet suffer. The other party, the Democrats, pays lip service to them in the interest of politics and winning elections, while still in actuality serving the same corporate masters. That’s the great thing about American politics, both parties have convinced their base that the other party is evil. And both parties are right, though not in the way they portray it. America could be the greatest country on Earth when it comes to things that actually matter to people, all being sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics and the insatiable greed of the richest ruling class the world has ever seen. Sigh. So in the midst of this mass national ignorance and stupidity, so so many smaller acts of stupid. Just for fun I’ll chronicle some of the current crop.

At the top of today’s list: Fury as US congressmen fly into Kabul in midst of evacuation effort. That’s right, as a horrifying evacuation of people is under way in Kabul, Afghanistan, with people so desperate to escape that they are clinging to aircraft only to fall to their deaths, two congressmen decided to fly into Kabul on a “fact finding” mission. Right, what facts were they unclear on? The fact is that whatever plane seats they and their staff filled on their way out could have been filled by people who were fleeing for their lives. The fact is this publicity stunt means some people will be tortured and killed. It made about as much sense as if some British politicians had decided to sail to Dunkirk on a “fact finding” mission. It’s literally that stupid. Bipartisan stupid in this case, one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican.

Mike Lindell, who is Trump’s self appointed ambassador of stupid, now predicts Trump will be reinstalled as president by New Year’s day now that his prediction of an August 13 reinstatement predictably didn’t come to fruition. The regular reader will note that I predicted Mr Lindell would just change the date when his first prediction failed. So many layers of stupid. First, the lie that the election was stolen from Trump is just that, a fact free lie. Trump was the least popular president in modern history, so not only is it no wonder he wasn’t reelected, the real wonder is he got as many votes as he did. Then of course, even if it was shown that the election was crooked (don’t hold your breath,) that still wouldn’t result in Trump being reinstated. The election isn’t some sort of horse race where if the winner is disqualified the second place candidate wins. That’s not how any of this works. Stupid, all the way down.

And in today’s “Jesus Facepalms” file, a heretic Christian blogger says mom’s shouldn’t work because their teenage children will have sex if they aren’t in the home. Truly an almost infinite onion of layered stupid.  Let me count the ways. One, unless mom spends 24/7 with the kids in her presence, they will most certainly figure out ways to have sex if that’s their inclination. Two, if teenage children haven’t already learned how to behave sensibly, parental supervision isn’t going to help. She sounds like she doesn’t trust her own children to follow the “Christian” values she raised them on. Three. The days when a single income can support a spouse and children are long gone, most working moms work because they have to. I’m sure the gentle reader can come up with more. And of course access to sex education for children makes it less likely they will engage in risky sexual behavior, get pregnant, and get a venereal disease. Unfortunately people like this mommy shaming blogger think sex outside of marriage is bad … and think things like unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease are a good thing, punishment for sin and all that.

Yeah, stupid and evil often go together. Next, a nice science post I’m working on. Turns out Gobekli Tepe may have been a monument to stupidity. Yes, there have been stupid people for more than 10,000 years. It never ends: Driver ignores warnings not to park on beach and van ends up floating in sea. And of course new horror in Afghanistan. Humans, such a fascinating species. I think I’m losing my faith in human nature. Sigh. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe gentle readers.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: 19th century rail accident, public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 26, 2021 at 6:39 pm

COVID CONTINUES, GLOBAL WARMING, AFGHANISTAN, TRUMP VS BIDEN FOLLIES, HOMICIDAL LANDLORD, ETC.

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Well, here’s an interesting headline: New Zealand enters nationwide lockdown over one Covid case. Imagine that, a nation where the government and citizens do what needs to be done to prevent the spread of a terrible disease. In America, that’s the stuff of fantasy. Not sure when the last time was that American pulled together for the common good, certainly not in my adult lifetime. Depressing, especially since so many Americans have become so partisan that they can’t even imagine working together.

In other Covid news, the anti-vaxxers and their ilk continue to spread their toxic nonsense, like the idea that vaccines are the problem. No, no they aren’t: Are vaccines driving the emergence of “escape mutant” variants of COVID-19? Basically as far as I can recall people spreading pseudoscientific nonsense have never turned out to be right while established science was wrong. Granted established science is regularly updated as scientists learn new things, but invariably it’s updated by other scientists.

And in the other ongoing catastrophe, the drought in the American west is worse than ever: U.S. declares first Western reservoir water shortage, triggering cuts. At this point it’s worse than the Dust Bowl of nearly 100 years ago. Basically scientists increasingly are no longer calling it a drought, it’s desertification at this point. Even back in the 80s desertification was becoming a problem in parts of the American west, it’s much worse today:  The Western drought is worse than you think. Here’s why. And this is very much a part and parcel of global warming, but the well funded global warming denial industry is still doing just fine. Will humans essentially destroy their planet because the richest industry the world has ever known is perfectly fine with continuing their profits no matter what the cost to future generations? Looks like it. It’s not hopeless yet, but without serious action, we’re screwed.

Lastly, yes, Afghanistan is still in the news. It’s a horrifying situation, just the images of people clinging to the outside of airplanes and falling to their deaths is heartbreaking. Western media coverage is really depressing too, though frankly I find western media coverage of almost everything pretty depressing these days. In my youth the major media outlets were actual independent media outlets. This story: Soldier son’s Afghanistan sacrifice was ‘all for nothing’. Yes, yes it was. And even if the US had decided to stay, it was still for nothing. The horrifying thing about stories like this is the implication that further for nothing sacrifices would somehow magically make their son’s loss meaningful. And no, American troops weren’t “protecting America from terror” while in Afghanistan.

What a mess. Gotta love this though: The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan. It was contradicting Trump’s current schtick … everything bad in Afghanistan is Biden’s fault! Pretty much Trump in a nutshell, he was the greatest president ever, and everything bad in America was someone else’s fault. I’d say the man spews nothing but lies, but I think he actually believes them:  Trump spews lies about Covid on Fox Business: ‘It was virtually gone when I left — it was over’. He’s kinda like the leader or CEO who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes me, except in Trump’s case there are tens of millions of them, people absolutely convinced that Trump is the world’s saviour. So convinced they come up with memes like this:

OK then. A nation gone mad. Like this: Landlord Accused of Killing 2 Tenants Told Police He Handled Eviction ‘His Way’. Well, I guess that’s one way to handle tenants who owe back rent. A horrible evil counterproductive way. Yes, Americans are about $20 billion behind on rent now due to Covid eviction moratoriums. Yes, the gentle reader heard that right. 20 billion dollars. Basically nothing in the greater scheme of things. America’s billionaires have gained like a trillion dollars since Covid started, one fiftieth of that could pay off all the back rent in America. Or in another way, about .05% of the Federal government’s annual income. Ain’t gonna happen I expect, but who knows. Biden managed to get a pared down infrastructure bill passed, that surprised me.

Strange days. A third of the country thinks Trump is a God. Another third thinks Biden is some sort of FDR reborn. The last third is watching Scrubs reruns. Or writing blogs no one reads. Maybe other stuff, I don’t get out as much as I should. On the plus side I finally managed to find a dentist who fixed the horrible pain I have been experiencing for months. It only cost me my grocery money for the next couple of months. I’ll go from being a pain addled blogger to a starving one. Donors welcome. Good times! Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image, top: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, Fair Use under US copyright law. Image bottom: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 18, 2021 at 12:41 pm

AMERICA’S SAIGON MOMENT IN AFGHANISTAN, A WAR THAT LASTED NEARLY ONE THIRD OF MY LIFE ENDS IN A DAY.

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They don’t call Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Empires” for nothing. While a Taliban victory was imminent and inevitable last week; today, 15 August 2021, the provisional  Afghan government fled, and the Taliban marched into Kabul and seized effective control of Afghanistan. America’s longest war is over. In the vulgar vernacular: “It’s over. We lost.”

Historically this looks to be a big deal. It’s a freaking big deal in Afghanistan for sure. In America, if Facebook is any indication, Afghanistan is essentially non news. The forgetting is already in place. Or misdirection, Trump and the right are already proudly proclaiming it’s all Biden’s fault and they could have prevented the Taliban march into Kabul. And a third of Americans don’t get that this analysis is both infantile, ignorant, and not helpful.

If we’re gonna be political, at least Biden had the balls to get out of an expensive and counterproductive war. Reagan was the last president with that kind of stones. And Trump was the one who set the ball rolling in Afghanistan for freak’s sake. He signed the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, Biden just followed through.

And in America it’s all compromised because ignorance about Afghanistan and its last fifty years of history is rampant. Even worse, most Americans believe stuff about Afghanistan that just ain’t true.The US didn’t ever fund the Taliban for example, the Taliban didn’t arise until 1994, and they arose to fight the mujahideen the US had supported to drive out the Russian invaders.And no, this is not a religious war. Yes, the Taliban are inspired by their faith, but their war against the US was about driving foreign invaders from their land.

“The question I never hear asked. Where would Afghanistan be today if the USA had never been there?” My answer: Run by a stable, popular, Pashtun, and remarkably uncorrupt theocracy. And they would be an isolated impoverished sanctioned pariah state like Cuba, North Korea, or Iran … because that was US policy before we invaded. Good question.

Hell if I know really. The fact that no one has ever been much good at predicting history, how many peeps predicted the Taliban would roll into Kabul today, shows that the future can’t be predicted. This is true retroactively as well.

Today was a turning point in history. Or it isn’t. What now? Anyone who says they know is a liar or a fool. I can only hope that the bloodletting remains low, so far so good. The Taliban are not ISIS. For good or for ill Afghans now control their own fate, as it should be.

I’m freaked about this turn of events. Stay safe everyone, have a great week.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A US helicopter evacuating the last few people from the US embassy. Attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law as it is an historically significant photo.)

Written by unitedcats

August 15, 2021 at 7:28 pm

AFGHANISTAN IS ON MY MIND

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And in the news. Now that the US is pulling out, the Taliban are rapidly regaining control of their country. In the west, the only approved narrative is that Taliban barbarians are overrunning a bastion of civilization. Or as the BBC puts it: Afghanistan: Panic and disbelief as thousands flee Taliban onslaught. Sigh. Yes, it is a terrible thing, people are dying, refugees are fleeing, a land that hasn’t known peace in decades is experiencing a paroxysm of violence and retribution. My heart goes out to the people suffering and dying.

However, the situation is a little more nuanced than “good vs evil and evil is winning.” OK, a lot more nuanced. Afghanistan is a land where there have been no good actors for decades, and blame for this horror show stretches all the way to Moscow, London, and Washington. A number of points and observations I would like to make. The first being that leaving was the only good option the US had, staying in Afghanistan wasn’t going to change anything, it was just postponing the inevitable. Staying there was just putting good money after bad as poker players say. And the idea that leaving would somehow make all the blood and money we wasted in Afghanistan meaningless is classic “sunk cost fallacy” thinking.

It should also be pointed out that the people running Afghanistan under our protection were just as violent, fundementalist, and misogynistic as the Taliban. And vastly more corrupt. That’s how the Taliban came to power in the first place, they were an improvement over the warlords whose greed and internecine warfare tore Afghanistan apart after the Soviet Union withdrew. The very same warlords the US put back in power. It should have surprised no one that they couldn’t form an effective and popular government to fight the Taliban. What a nightmare. Basically Afghanistan is a microcosm of just what a counterproductive disaster the whole “war on terror” has been. Conquest is easy, just and effective rule doesn’t magically follow.

And then there’s the usual painful hypocrisy from the west, as if western governments actually give a crap about the plight of the people of Afghanistan. We are allied with plenty of governments that are just as fundamentalist, undemocratic, violent, and misogynistic as the Taliban; but since they are happy to let the west exploit their resources, no problem. Frankly I’m so cynical these days about the world’s leaders it’s getting harder all the time to write about the state of the globe. The vast majority of them don’t give a crap about their own people and are solely concerned with protecting the wealth and power of themselves and their cronies. Even worse, huge numbers of people continue to slavishly support these “leaders.”

Anyhow, here’s a similar take on the topic: Stop Listening to the Pro-War Idiots Who Got Afghanistan Wrong. This: Deceptions and lies: What really happened in Afghanistan. Or this: Who Lost America’s Longest War? – Antiwar.com Original. Sigh. Have a good weekend everyone, stay safe and cool.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Russian troops pulling out of Afghanistan. Image reproduced in accordance with US copyright law. Attribution: RIA Novosti archive, image #58833 / A. Solomonov / CC-BY-SA 3.0 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Written by unitedcats

August 13, 2021 at 5:19 pm

PRESIDENT TRUMP RETURNS, GOP CHILD SACRIFICES, MISINFORMATION TRIFECTA, AND DEAD FLIES?

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Will Trump be returning to the White House this week as predicted? Short answer: No. Long answer: No!!!! By Friday according to the My Pillow guy. He’s holding some sort of marathon presentation where he’s going to be on stage live for 72 hours: ‘I’m staying up here for 72 hours’: Mike Lindell abruptly cancels food breaks at his ‘cyber symposium’. OK then. I’d say this was crazy, but that would be ableist, and not terribly helpful. I put “Trump will return!” in the same category as all “revealed” predictions. Predicting the end of the world, the return of Christ, when the aliens will arrive, etc. has been a popular human activity since at least 2800BC. My favorite:

“Drawing from theology and astrology, German prophet Johann Jacob Zimmerman determined that the world would end in the fall of 1694. Zimmerman gathered a group of pilgrims and made plans to go to America to welcome Jesus back to Earth. However, he died in February of that year, on the very day of departure. Johannes Kelpius took over leadership of the cult, which was known as Woman in the Wilderness, and they completed their journey to the New World. Fall came and went and, needless to say, the cultists were profoundly disappointed at having traveled all the way across the Atlantic just to be stood up by Jesus.”

The predicted return of Trump is just another chapter in this long history. Something for sociologists, historians, and psychologists to ponder. I think the people promoting these things are either charlatans or genuine believers, doesn’t really make a difference. The thing to note is that when the prediction fails to materialize, as will be the case here, the proponents of same will just change the date of the prediction and carry on, and most of their followers will likely continue to follow. And if I’m wrong and Trump is back in the White House on Friday, it will be a great blog topic!

And while we are on the topic of huge numbers of people believing stuff that just ain’t so, Covid denial continues to rage in the USA. Yes folks, more than a year after the worst plague in living memory started, huge numbers of Americans are still in denial about it. Well, not this guy: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus. No other developed country has this sort of widespread Covid denial, so of course the US remains the worst hit developed country. More than a million dead, more than one American in 300, and even many of our leaders are still in denial: ‘They can’t arrest all of us’: Rand Paul calls for defiance against COVID-19 restrictions. It’s as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and more than a year later huge numbers of Americans were still insisting it’s all a hoax.

If it was only the people in denial coming to harm, it would be both stupid and amusing: Pharmacists Fight Off COVID Truthers Demanding Horse Medicine Instead of the Jab. Sadly, no, some of our leaders are going so far as to actually prevent efforts to fight Covid. Specifically in schools, which are set to open soon. People who proudly claim they are “Christians” and “pro-life” are actively preventing measures to fight Covid spreading among children. The GOP’s death cult comes for the kids. I don’t know what to make of this, other than I am horrified. If one’s politics leads one to fight efforts to prevent the spread of a horrible disease, I think one’s politics are messed up.

So much misinformation out there. The good doctor has written a fine piece about the basics of spreading it. It’s actually fairly simple. First, come up with your misinformation, be it creationism, vaccine denial, whatever. Then attack the legitimacy of any and all expert opinions, leading to modern America where all opinions are treated as equal. Lastly, scream freedom of speech if efforts are made to stop the spread of your misinformation. The doctor covers it in more detail: The Misinformation Trifecta | NeuroLogica Blog. Sadly of course this process has been increasingly weaponised by bad actors using the sciences of advertising and propaganda.

I miss my youth. Yes, there was a fringe of silliness and science denial in America, but for the most part science and learning were lauded, and the news sources all pretty much agreed on the facts. Good times. Now America is increasingly resembling a medieval nation ruled by superstition and fear. Hell if I know the answer. Afghanistan in the next blog, America’s longest war, and contender for the most counterproductive war. Today though, I’ll end with a useful scientific discovery, one hopefully uncontroversial enough that everyone can appreciate it. What happens to flies that are shooed out the car window at highway speeds? Everyone has wondered that, right? Science has the answer: Do Flies Survive When They Fly Out Your Car Window At Highway Speeds?

Hope all are having a safe and cool week. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so at the earliest opportunity. The life you save may be yours. Or a loved one’s …

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 11, 2021 at 8:03 pm

ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG

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Oh boy, getting ready to move so blogging has been a low priority. I would have moved already, but I needed to have a storage space for my stuff built first. LOL. Yes, every storage space near me was full with a waiting list. Then I found one that was in the process of building a new building so I rented a storage space that hasn’t been built yet. Fortunately they are making good progress, a few days ago it was just a concrete slab, drove by yesterday and the building was nearly complete. I can only hope they are working through the weekend. Looking forward to hitting the road.

Stuff keeps on happening in the bizarre imaginary world modern America has turned into in front of my horrified gaze. One of them is illustrated above: Mike Lindell made an insane election conspiracy diagram that has to be seen to be believed. It’s bizarre to say the least, looks like something a deeply unmedicated schizophrenic would come up with. (No ableism intended, just couldn’t think of a better way of saying it.) And then there’s this: Trump Supporters Insist Far-Fetched 7-Point Plan Will Get Him Back In Office. At least this one has the benefit of being easy to understand. The first three steps are fantasy, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. Save the date though, August 13 is when Trump claims he’ll be back in the oval office.

In other American news, statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are being taken down in Charlottesville, North Carolina: Charlottesville set to remove Robert E Lee statue that sparked rally. These were two “heroes” of the Confederacy, so they never should have been installed on public property in the first place. These were men who took up arms against their nation because they wanted to keep human beings as (rapeable) property. Hardly people to memorialize. That’s the lost cause myth though, the idea that the Confederacy was some sort of noble state’s right cause crushed by northern aggression. It’s high time all glorification of the Confederacy was removed from public spaces, so this is progress.

A good article that looks into the history of the religious right’s opposition to social change of any sort, linking the Scopes monkey trial to today’s attacks on Critical Race Theory: Experts beware: America may be headed for a Scopes moment. The main takeaway, it’s a long article, is that the religious right always wildly misrepresents things like Evolution and Critical Race Theory in their attacks upon them. Worth a read. Oh, and my observation, gee, the very same people who insist that creationism should be taught in schools so children can understand the controversy … don’t think that CRT should be taught for the same reason? Basically the bottom line is the religious right only want their narrow interpretation of history taught in schools, they’d dump the teaching of evolution in a heartbeat if they could do so.

Basically America isn’t a modern civilized educated country. And it’s not just the religious right:  QuestionPro Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Americans Believe in UFOs. No surprise since even the Pentagon has gotten on the UFO train: The Pentagon Lies About UFOs – But Not Always For The Reasons You’d Expect (Updated). There’s as much evidence for aliens on Earth as there is for the existence of angels and demons. People still believe in them too: Did a Demon Appear at Biden’s Speech? And ‘Prophet’ Claims Biden Has Demonic ‘Serpent Eyes,’ Defends Trump’s Election Win. Even the BBC is promoting nonsense these days:The BBC Indulges in Bizarre Pseudohistorical Stonehenge Speculation. Sigh.

In foreign news, a group of foreign mercenaries made their way into Haiti and murdered the country’s acting president in his home: Haiti president’s assassination: What we know so far. A nightmarish event for one of the world’s poorest and most long suffering nations. I wish I had an answer, but I do know that death squads and political assassinations are the epitome of evil. The two Americans involved should be flown back to the USA, and executed on the tarmac on live TV. Alas the world’s rulers for the most part have no problem with death squads so long as they’re killing the people they want killed. If killing people solved problems the world would be a paradise. Sadly I don’t see it stopping anytime soon, in the USA at least the peace and antiwar movement has been so sidelined and delegitimized by the powers that be that it might as well not even exist.

Oh well, since messed up North America appears to be today’s default theme, a good article on the North American heat wave: The North American Heatwave | NeuroLogica Blog. While one can never say with certainty whether a weather event is related to global warming, the odds that an event this extreme would have occurred without global warming are vanishingly small. The well funded denier lobby will continue their work though, and global warming will continue to pick up steam.

Lastly, some good news from Florida’s Surfside condo collapse. First though, I saw an observation about this terrible event that I thought was right on the money, paraphrased: “The surfside condo didn’t collapse because of terrorism or some natural disaster, it collapsed because of shoddy construction and maintenance, internal rot basically. In so many ways a metaphor for modern America.” Yerp, our infrastructure, education, and health care is the embarrassment of the developed world, but our military could blow up the world a dozen times over! Couldn’t defeat the Taliban … but I digress.

Yes, the good news, a Surfside condo survivor was found! His name is Binx. He’s a cat: Cat missing in Surfside condo collapse found alive; death toll climbs to 79. He lived on the ninth floor and it’s not exactly clear how he escaped with his life, as he was just found in the vicinity of the ruins. May well have jumped to safety, cats can and do survive falls from great heights. Must be nice knowing you don’t need no freaking ladder or landing pad or parachute, just jump!

Hope all are having a good weekend. Next post, Afghanistan. Looks like America’s role in this sheetshow is finally over. Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Pillow Guy’s whiteboard about how Trump is still president. Used without permission, but claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Hell, I’m sharing his wisdom with the world, people will see this illustration and flock to Trump’s defense! How could he object?)

Written by unitedcats

July 10, 2021 at 6:08 pm

BORDERS

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OK, off we go. News? I used to get a lot of news from the Wapo and the NYT, not anymore for reasons I explained at length in recent blogs. Now my top two news sites are the BBC and The Guardian. Plus other sites too, one should get their news from a wide variety of sources, international ones for sure. Haaretz and Al Jazeera are good for example. They all have their biases, blind spots, propaganda. This is what God gave us brains for, to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ve never seen any major fact checking errors on Snopes for example, the truth is out there. In fact how people react to Snopes pretty much tells one if they are connected to reality or live in a fantasy world. I often hear a nice selection of false arguments from Snopes deniers. “They’re not professional fact checkers!” is my favorite. Um, so what? Show me a topic where Snope’s is factually in error. I’ll wait. And then Wikipedia is a great source for non controversial topics. A topic that corporate America or the US government wants to control the narrative on, skip Wikipedia entirely. What’s there may not be wrong, but it certainly won’t represent reality.

So, back to news, China threatens war if Taiwan declares independence.* Taiwan is a small island off the coast of China, a little bit bigger than Maryland, a little bit smaller than the Netherlands. It’s yet another relic of the Cold War. When Mao and his communists won the Chinese Civil War after World War Two, the US backed side fled to the island of Taiwan, and protected by the United States, there they remained. If the US hadn’t protected them, Taiwan would just be another province in China that no one outside of China had ever heard of.

And as I understand it, most people in China are adamant that Taiwan is indeed part of China, no discussion allowed. And this, in a nutshell, is why nationalism sucks sheet. The idea of a nation is great from many perspectives, but when that idea runs roughshod over self determination, it’s simply tyranny. When the United States declared independence from Britain, its revolution was based ostensibly on the ideals of self determination, not to mention inalienable human rights.  Yes, the founding fathers were hideous hypocrites who completely dishonored these ideals in the breach, founding a nation based on slavery and propertied white male supremacy, but the concepts are stll valid.

Alas, the world’s governments only apply them when it is in their interest to do so. America’s hypocrisy on this level is mind numbing, but of course completely normalized by the western press. To the point that many (most?) Americans are all for Taiwan being independent, but Crimea wanting to be part of Russia, that’s a terrible crime! The borders of the world were drawn up by the European colonial powers for their own exploitive ends, there’s nothing “normal” about them, but they are treated as such by the western press. A huge percentage of the world’s people, it must be in the 100s of millions, would rather be independent or part of another country than the one they are in.

Countless examples. The Kurds, 30 million of them, Kurdistan should have been a country after World War One. Kashmir, if they ever got to vote, would almost certainly want to be part of Pakistan. Large parts of Pakistan would rather be part of Pashtun Afghanistan. Tibet was once an independent country. I wouldn’t even know where to start in Africa, it’s a nightmare of colonial boundaries. And then countless indigenous people around the world would rather be their own country as much as possible. Why not, there’s at least 5000 ethnic groups on the planet, why should there be only 300 countries? Andorra, a nation the size of Peoria Illinois, has been independent for over 500 years. It can be done. And there are many others.

This, at the core of it, is why the aliens fly right by us. About 300 armed gangs control Earth for the benefit of a tiny number of people already so rich they could live a thousand lifetimes and not spend it all. Any sane species would long ago have fixed this. Give people self determination, and the border problems sort themselves out. And put mechanisms in place to make sure everyone benefits from the world’s wealth, it is a collective effort. Make it so businesses can’t pass health and environmental costs onto the public, the free market will indeed fix things like global warming. No ideology or religion need apply. They are the problem, not the solution. Granted some are worse problems than others. Anti-vaxxers. White Supremacists. Nazis. Yeah, I’m still anti-Nazi. Convince me otherwise. Though I do accept and try to understand the appeal. Germany was a modern educated land.

The above map is a preliminary speculation about a balkanized America. The native peoples especially should be scattered about in ancestral lands, but it’s a start. I don’t think the world colonial government is going to collapse anytime soon, but many people were surprised by the fall of Rome and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Times change, I plan to blog about it as long as I can. The Earth Burning blog. Stay safe gentle readers. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

*China tends to be more forthwith than doublespeak western diplomacy, this is likely a promise, not a threat.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Map by blog author: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

January 29, 2021 at 9:36 pm

NO THANKSGIVING TURKEY FOR ME, POST ELECTION CRAZINESS CONTINUES, AND THE IMPERIAL DISEASE

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Here I was looking forward to Thanksgiving, and then I read this: Op-Ed: Thanksgiving is a tradition. It’s also a lie. I find the logic pretty persuasive. I wouldn’t participate in a Confederate flag waving parade or hanging black people in effigy no matter how traditional they were. Sigh. Growing up never ends. One would hope at least.

Let’s see, after meeting with Trump the Michigan lawmakers decided to stick with the law. Michigan goes to Biden by a comfortable margin. Georgia just certified Biden. Trump’s thin chances of overturning the election results in his favor just went from slim to microscopic. Trump continues to insist he was cheated out of winning, and his administration continues to refuse to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration. Unprecedented in American history.

Trump is also making all sorts of last minute global maneuvers to either box Biden in, or leave him with problems. An understated little side play in the war, while America is consumed with Trump’s election denial antics and an exploding pandemic that is killing thousands a day now. One person out of every 1,000 in North Dakota has died of Covid-19 now. If this was happening on Obama’s watch, the outraged screams from Trump supporters would echo across the Universe. Instead, they’re upset that California’s governor flouted his own virus guidelines. I digress.

The war, the one war. Started in the mid eighth century BC when Rome conquered its neighboring town, Caenina. That’s when the war started, the one the US is still waging today. Wait, what? That’s my theory on when what I call “The Imperial Disease” started. There were plenty of wars before and after that, but based on variations of “Kill them and take their land.” The Imperial Disease is the idea that you march in and say “You’re all Romans now!” Rome conquered most of Europe and environs, broke apart, but its parts continued to express the disease, finally cooperating to conquer the entire world in the so-called “age of discovery.” Where they discovered there was a whole world waiting to be claimed in the name of Rome!

Jesus, Rome, same difference. One of the symptoms of the disease is that people so afflicted think it’s normal and proper for their armies to run other countries. That’s why the US has been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years with nary a domestic peep. Spending staggering sums of money, not insignificant amounts of American lives and blood, to prop up a quisling government that will evaporate when we leave. But, you know, freedom and democracy flow from our cruise missiles!

Sigh. One of Trump’s few good points was his questioning America’s enormously expensive overseas empire. Granted he pretty much didn’t do crap to downsize it, but maybe if he pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan now like he is threatening, we’ll learn something. We’ll learn that us pulling out of there was like pulling one’s hand from a bucket of water, the water stays right there unchanged. Gee, maybe we didn’t need to stick our hand in there in the first place?

Yeah, I’m reaching. I still think we’re screwed. See above image. In local news, I continue to recover from cancer surgery. And I got a new patron! Woohoo! Thanks! Stay safe everyone. Comments, suggestions, shares appreciated.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous meme found on Facebook, used without permission, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 20, 2020 at 7:37 pm

EXTREMISTS AND THEIR APOLOGISTS, THE TALIBAN ENDORSE TRUMP, AND OTHER ELECTION NEWS

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Pretty much. It’s even a bit weirder than that. A visitor from the Soviet Union in the eighties was astonished by American “news.” He was like “Wow, in the Soviet Union they have to shoot reporters to make sure the news toes the government line. The American news does it voluntarily!” Maybe it wasn’t always like that, but by the eighties the big corporations owned both the mainstream media and the government, so of course the mainstream media and the government have the same message. Everything’s great, the rich and the big corporations are getting ever richer, and for everyone else, if you’re worse off than your parents, it’s your fault, loser!

Well, militia thoughts and developments. Rick Wiles claimed that Governor Whitmer made those men want to kidnap her. You can’t make shit like this up. His logic, if one can call it that, is that she must have so abused her power that these “law abiding” men (Wiles’ term) felt compelled to take action. Apparently kidnapping and insurrection were better options than I dunno, working to get their preferred candidate elected? Basically Rick Wiles is using the logic that abusers have used forever, they made me do it! Read about this insanity here: Rick Wiles Blames Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for Making Those Men Want to Kidnap Her.

In the same vein, one of the arrested “law abiding” men shared a stage with an extremist sheriff: Man In Militia Plot To Kidnap Michigan Governor Shared Stage With Extremist Sheriff. Not really a fluke either, there’s an unholy concordance between right wing militias and the police. Here’s more discussion on same: Mapping Far-Right and Anti-Immigrant Movement Alignment with County Sheriffs. On the one hand this is creepy, on the other hand, these people are a distinct minority. Still, in the current climate where Trump is all but encouraging the Timothy McVeighs of the country, bad things could happen. Not all of these militia guys are as stupid as the recent plotters. I should know, I was a founder and second in command of a right wing militia once, and I’ve been accused of a lot of things in my time, but stupidity isn’t one of them.

As the election draws closer, always interesting news. Trump’s grip on the Republican party is slipping. Or more accurately, as his behaviour gets more outrageous and his reelection chances keep sliding, rats are deserting Trump’s sinking ship: Republicans are finally ready to diss Don. It has always been fascinating to see how Trump became the face of the GOP like no one since at least Reagan has. Reagan took decades to get there though, Trump’s rise to political godhood was far faster. One has to wonder if his descent will be just as fast. It seems clear to me that while Trump has a core of fanatic supporters, I don’t think most his fellow GOP leaders are anything other than fair weather friends. I don’t think Trump grasps that.

On the weird side, Trump has been endorsed  by … the Taliban! The Taliban on Trump: “We hope he will win the election” and withdraw U.S. troops. Well, ain’t that special? I doubt this will get mentioned on Fox News. I also don’t believe Trump will pull out of Afghanistan, the last president with the stones to pull the US out of a stupid and unpolular war was … Reagan. Trump is no Reagan. I mean, he didn’t co-star with a chimp on The Apprentice, right? I should point out the hideous colonial mindset in discussions about Afghanistan. IE, we should stay there just to make sure Al Qaeda doesn’t get a base of operations established. The idea that Afghanistan is a sovereign and independent country apparently not figuring into the calculations.

An interesting article: Are These the Last 25 Days of American Democracy? I can’t argue with the premise of the article, it certainly makes good points. Democracy in America has been losing ground for decades. Does that mean it’s about to collapse, will Trump by hook or by crook get himself “reelected,” and continue to dismantle democracy? Beats me, my crystal ball burst into flame months ago. I’ve always felt that Trump couldn’t plot his way out of a paper bag, let alone plot a coup. Here’s a counterpoint article: There Will Be No Trump Coup. Doesn’t mean horrible things can’t happen though.

In conclusion, Covid-19 isn’t a freaking cold or flu. Anyone who says so is lying or misinformed. Hell of an election night coming up. Stay frosty everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Harvested off of Facebook, attribution unknown, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 10, 2020 at 7:52 pm