Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘afghanistan’ Category

“AMERICA IS THE FLORIDA OF THE WORLD,” ONE TRICK PONY TRUMP AND ME FOR THE REST OF 2020

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Well, still alive, self-quarantined, and hopefully Covid-19 free. The past 2-3 weeks I’ve tried to wind down and relax. I went nuts for several months preparing for the end of the world, and a friend made me realize I needed to step back and pet the kitties so to speak. My garden is planted, my larder is full, enjoy the good times. Purslane pesto, nature does provide. “God’s got it” my neighbour’s sign announces. IDK, but a church’s God doesn’t trump reality.

In High School a teacher who had an impact on me drew something on the board once. Yes, a 1972 memory, read em and weep. She sometimes waxed philosophical, even though it was an English class. She drew clouds, and above the word ‘Truth’ shining like the Sun. And said something to the effect that in her quest for knowledge, she had determined there was an underlying truth. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant at the time, now it seems clearer. And that’s why I write, to try and put my insights, such as they are, into words.

Current events, America continues to disintegrate. Let’s see, short version, America started to reopen, without a solid national test and trace program in place, and just what epidemiologists said would happen, did. New cases of Covid-19 in the USA hit a new high today, over 40,000. Mostly concentrated in sunshine states, like Florida and Arizona. The second wave begins? More like a continuation of the first wave. How the hell did one of the world’s richest and most developed nations get so badly hit by Covid-19?

Because about a third of Americans, including the president and company, live in an alternate universe where they get their news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the like. Who are basically praising the president’s response to Covid-19, and claiming the Democrats and liberals are exaggerating it to hurt Trump. Things like Pence claiming Trump never downplayed the virus, which is a lie of such Olympic proportions it hurts to repeat it, but the people supporting Trump believe it.

So yeah, how did we get in this mess? When I first saw Trump at an early debate, I was impressed. He knew how to push right wing bonus buttons. As his movement grew, I wondered if he was a really clever guy pretending to be stupid, or just a lucky moke whose schtick coincided with a historical opportunity. Then he won the nomination. And his schtick didn’t change in the slightest. This is when I began to strongly suspect Trump wasn’t some secret genius, he was a guy who believed in what he was saying.

And I haven’t seen much to dispel that observation. Trump thinks he’s hot shit, he thinks he’s got it figured out, and his attitude has tremendous appeal to a selected demographic. And that’s how he ran his presidency, basically it was one long campaign rally where he congratulated himself on his prowess. The stock market rose, all his rich friends were happy, all was good. If Covid-19 hadn’t appeared Trump might well have coasted into re-election.

Covid-19 did though, and since Covid-19 is an actual real thing (See High School memory above) it required an actual real response. Something which one trick pony Donald Trump is utterly incapable of. He has two modes from what I see. “Rah rah, aren’t I great” and “I’m outta here.” The former has proved to be a poor response to Covid-19. The latter has been suggested as a possibility. It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump resigned rather than risk an obviously lost election. We are in uncertain times.

The story about Russia offering bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan has been making the rounds. So many things I could say. I may even blog on it. I only ask that peeps take it with a grain of salt. No proof or evidence has yet been offered. Floating rumors like this has been part of modern warfare since the late 19th century. It’s how the game works. I note with dismay it’s pretty much already morphed into fact in many people’s minds, despite no evidence it’s anything other than a rumor. Sigh. And even if is true, it’s being horribly spun into something it’s not.

What’s not a rumor is that Trump is making one last attempt to overturn Obamacare by asking the Supreme Court to overturn it. Right, after ten years of empty GOP promises to propose something better than Obamacare, in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century, Trump wants to take away the health insurance of more than twenty million Americans.

So yeah, end of June 2020, rural Iowa. Covid-19 is exploding in America because thoughts and prayers are not a substitute for reason and science. Who would have thought that “All guns, no butter” would leave America unprepared for Covid-19?

Stay safe everything, here comes the second wave, woohoo! If we keep winning like this we’re done for.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(The top image is from wikipedia and used  legally: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License. The New York Times image is used legally I think, from here.)

Written by unitedcats

June 30, 2020 at 5:14 pm

IN OTHER NEWS …

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Well, the Super Tuesday Primary is over, and the fawning corporate media is falling all over itself proclaiming Biden the victor. And I can only agree. It will be Biden vs Trump in the fall, and Biden will more than likely lose. It’s almost as if the establishment doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything other than corporate profit. And the loss will be blamed on Russians and Bernie supporters, further dividing the party and making sure that true progressive issues never get off the ground. Baring some big change, that’s my prediction for the 2020 POTUS election. God help us all.

Trump and the Taliban signed a peace deal. On the one hand, anything that smacks of the US backing away from its colonial wars is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to see this as anything but an election year stunt. The agreement was reached and signed without the participation of the Kabul government, America’s ostensible ally, even though they were required to abide by its provisions. So predictably enough, it’s already falling apart. Basically Trump can now say he tried to get the US out of Afghanistan, but the Taliban wouldn’t hold up their end of the deal! Right. Mr Trump, you can pull American troops out of Afghanistan any time you want, the Taliban’s permission is not required.

Scientists have spotted the remains of the largest explosion ever detected. The “crater” (a bubble really)  it left in space could fit fifteen of our own Milky Way galaxies. Ginormous doesn’t begin to cover it, this explosion could have destroyed our own galaxy. Fortunately it’s nearly 400 million light years away, so no worries. Best guess is that it was produced by a, well, ginormous black hole somehow. Matter falling into a black hole can get really hot as it spirals towards it, and if enough matter gets hot enough, kaboom. Still stay tuned, astronomers still have a lot to discover. The doctor has a good post discussing various aspects of this discovery.

And in India, pogroms! Yes, Muslims are being targeted and murdered by Hindi mobs. So Trump wasted no time praising Mr Modi, the man whose policies inspired the violence. Mr Modi basically is trying to legally turn India’s Muslims into second class citizens. Who would have thought that a national leader stripping a minority of their rights and demonizing them might lead to violence? Oh, right. Sadly, it’s not just academic, religious extremists are working hard to turn the United States into a “Christian” theocracy where non Christians are second class citizens. I find that a lot scarier and more likely than Trump turning into the next Hitler. And I say “Christian” theocracy because the idea that Jesus would have been down with this is questionable at best. Christ taught love and inclusion, not hatred and exclusion.

In another Trump fail (aren’t you glad this isn’t another Covid-19 post?) Trump said that wait staff making $2.13 an hour are overpaid! Trump has always claimed American workers are overpaid, claiming that somehow that hurts America’s international trade. It’s all a crock of bull of course, American workers have been getting it in the shorts for decades, while the rich grow ever richer. Despite Trump’s lies, the situation for American workers hasn’t improved at all under Trump, as this site chronicles. America, land of duelling fantasies.

Greta Thunberg is still in the news. You would think someone trying to rally the planet to deal with a freaking planetary emergency would be universally popular, but no. Sadly the fossil fuel industry, the most insanely profitable industry the world has ever seen (supertankers are the Spanish treasure galleons of our time) has the money to buy entire political parties and whole governments. So Greta gets lots of death threats, and such things as this lovely little incident where a Canadian oil company gave its workers stickers portraying Greta being raped. She points out that oil companies stooping so low is a sign of desperation. Well, when you’re destroying the planet to keep a tiny handful of people ever and ever richer, I guess desperate measures are all they have. The global warming deniers love to claim the issue of human caused global warming isn’t settled … so what. (It is settled.) There’s people claiming evolution or the age of the Earth aren’t settled, hell, the planet is filled with people denying various scientific issues. Again, the doctor has a good post on them.

In local news, it looks like winter is over in Iowa. Nothing but nice weather in the pipeline for the next few weeks. Woohoo! Of course I still can’t walk more than 20 feet without excruciating pain, but at least I can look out the window and not see a sub arctic wasteland. Hope everyone is having a good week, comments and shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. I will happily attribute or remove it should the copyright holder come to light.)

Written by unitedcats

March 4, 2020 at 8:30 pm

TRUMP’S SOTU 2020: “EVERYTHING’S GREAT! YAY ME!” ETC

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Well, the post title is Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address in a nutshell. He made really expansive claims about jobs and the economy and other stuff, most of which was overblown or misleading. I’m going to avoid all that, the details aren’t really important, nor am I qualified to discuss most of them. And hey, pretty sure all presidents exaggerate their record, it’s only human. In any event, no, America is not in some sort of magical economic boom because of Trump. There’s been some improvement, but almost all were trending up before he took office.

It was more Trump’s background assumptions that bothered me. In semi random order, a few highlights of what Trump said … and didn’t say.  His obsession with Obama was once again evident. First president in my life fixated on comparing himself with and putting down his predecessor. It’s weird on two levels. First, the problems he blames Obama for were basically Fox New fantasies; Obama did an OK job running the country, and even managed to put some restraint on federal spending. Obama didn’t create any big problems, unlike his predecessor, who gifted Obama with the biggest economic crash since the great depression in the thirties. So Trump’s fixation on Obama is childish and petulant.

The deficit is something Trump didn’t talk about. It’s exploded under Trump. Gotta love how the GOP is all about fiscal responsibility when the Dems are overspending, but whistle and shuffle away when their guy is saddling our grandchildren with debt. And sadly the exploding deficit will almost certainly be used as an excuse to cut social programs, not military spending …

Yes, Trump bragged about military spending, which was even higher under Obama. It saddens me now that both parties claim that ‘all guns/no butter’ is all about ‘protecting our freedom.’ Our freedom is not in any danger from overseas, the US military has enough firepower to destroy the planet many times over. No nation is going to attack us, we’d turn them into a parking lot. And yet with all this military spending, we still can’t beat the Taliban? We’re both giving tons of money to war profiteers, and not even getting anything for it. There’s nothing to brag about here, just another president who promised less war and broke his promise.

Trump made a comment about ending “job killing” regulations. Sigh. Anytime someone claims regulations are killing jobs, it’s just corporate propaganda for “these regulations prevent us from passing environmental and health costs onto the public.” Corporations being prevented from poisoning the planet and killing people is a good thing. And the kind of regulations Trump has been getting rid of all fall into this category I am afraid.

And lastly, the presidential Medal of Freedom for Rush Limbaugh. He’s a very popular entertainer … among some Americans. Rush is also a hate monger who has devoted his career to denigrating huge numbers of Americans. How does a guy whose career is based on driving Americans apart and encouraging them to hate other Americans qualify for a Medal of Freedom? I’ve listened to Rush too, endless strings of false arguments and lies. No pandering to Trump’s base here, nope. LOL.

People believe the lies though. People like Trump apparently. Trump claimed to be inclusive, yet gives a medal to a guy who is the nation’s foremost promoter of the opposite? Granted the MSNBC/CNN/BBC view of reality is skewed and limited, but so is Fox News reality. I think Obama, for all his faults, understood that. I’m not sure Trump does. This is what scares me about Trump, I think he actually believed what he was saying. The alternative, he really is just a con-artist cashing in on the biggest con of his life, is worse.

In any event, Trump got acquitted by the Senate today in his impeachment ‘trial.’ No surprise, like the still unsettled Iowa caucus, another gift to Trump from the Dems. A Hail Mary attempt to impeach the man, which only helped his chances for reelection. I don’t understand it. Got hints though, found a you-tube video that explains why Trump is still popular despite his broken promises. A future blog. Fun times.

Post on the Battle of Stalingrad still in the works. Another case of a national leader insisting “Everything is fine!” when it definitely wasn’t. Sigh. So, to end on a good note, on February 5th 1985 the Third Punic War officially ended. After 2,131 years, the longest war in human history was finally over. Yeah, world peace is possible! I’m celebrating the anniversary, skol!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Catapult’ Edward Poynter 1868. Roman soldiers manning a catapult during the siege of Carthage in 146BC. Credit: Edward Poynter. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 5, 2020 at 10:36 pm

SPACE FORCE, THE FINAL BOONDOGGLE

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I had an interesting experience this morning. A Jew and a strong atheist mansplained to me that I was not a Christian. It was a remarkable and sad experience. Remarkable, because I am a Christian, but since I don’t fit their definition of Christian, that magically makes me not a Christian. No different than someone telling me what my gender or sexual preferences are. Things that I would know. And they both consider themselves open minded people. When one insists that other people conform to their world view, that’s not open minded. A failing not limited to evangelicals and MRAs.

Also today, I had to lift a fifty pound sack and haul it around. It was surprisingly easy, I wasn’t sure why. It’s not like I have been lifting weights. I then realized, oh, right, I’m not running around with forty extra pounds strapped to my waist anymore. Somehow I think these two items are related somehow. Probably because I am still getting rid of stuff, and still trying to separate my social beliefs from my evidence based beliefs. It’s all tied together. At least for me a cluttered life is a cluttered mind.

Washington continues to career along. As the above illustration shows, papers which in almost any other country, especially parliamentary democracies, would bring down the government, are flying pretty much under the radar here. Many of us figured out long ago that Afghanistan was a mess and short of sending in hundreds of thousands of occupation troops, or nuking it into a parking lot, either of which have significant downsides and would likely create worse problems, nothing like victory was possible. A trillion dollars and frightening amounts of blood and the country is more of a mess than ever. Afghanistan too. In Washington though, no one is ever wrong, and no one is man enough to admit failure, so 18 years on our war of choice on the other side of the world drags on. Made and making a tiny handful of Americans even more obscenely rich, it’s not like that trillion dollars was invested in Afghanistan. Jesus wept.

Also in Washington, Congress funded another bloated Pentagon budget, including Trump’s “Space Force.” Since the Space Force is yet another  vehicle to transfer more taxpayer money upwards, I guess it’s appropriate. Sigh. I sigh a lot lately, when I’m not screaming in dismay. We already have too many branches of military service, adding another just increases the expense, internal politicking, and waste in the military. Not even mentioning the fantastic impetus to global arms race a space force will engendre. It’s pretty clear this is an ego and vanity driven idea too, since the military is against it for one. And under international law there are extreme limitations on military operations in space, so it’s not even clear what such a force would do. Details, details I guess.

To paraphrase, a trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money. Sigh. At the core that’s the second main reason why our post World War Two spending is insane. Our country’s rotten infrastructure, education, and health care is embarrassing for the so called greatest country on Earth. In those respects we were once the envy of the world. And this is all because trillions of dollars have been spent on a military bloated beyond reason and endless colonial wars. Well, and trillions in tax breaks for the rich and corporate America.

Lastly, I’m having health issues, so some posts are going to be delayed from time to time. Sometimes scheduled writing time turns into miserable suffering time. And since I’m not really from California, I don’t feel compelled to share any more on that topic. Don’t worry younger readers, you’re not missing out. If you get old you too will spend half your time listening to friends’ medical complaints. The other half suffering your own. Old age is its own worst enemy.

Have a great weekend everyone. Comments, questions, and as ever, shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. Will attribute or remove as needed  if so informed.)

Written by unitedcats

December 13, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Posted in afghanistan, Personal, Trump, War

‘ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD’ AND OTHER NONSENSE

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I went and saw the latest Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Some general spoilers ahead, as opposed to specific spoilers. People’s preferences for spoilers vary, some don’t want to hear any, other friends want me to describe the movie or book in detail. I have a friend who when he gets a new book, he reads the last few pages first. I still have trouble grasping the appeal of that, but whatever floats his boat. OK, the Tarantino movie. If one is a Tarantino fan, fine movie; not as good as his best, better than his worst.

If one isn’t a Tarantino fan, the movie is two and a half hours of boredom followed by ten minutes of blood curdling violence. “Look, she’s watching a movie!” “Look, what a cute dog!” “Look, they’re driving a car! Again!” I got so bored I started watching the backgrounds to count how many times the same vintage cars were used in the various scenes. Then blood everywhere, the end. See, I saved the reader $7. Or $37 if they live on the east or west coast.

So yes, immediately after the movie, I hated it. Upon further reflection, I don’t hate it as much. It was a tribute to 1970’s Hollywood, and in retrospect that part worked. The main plot and subplots all tied together nicely. There was some quirky Tarantonio style humour. The thing I liked most about the movie, well, I can’t say anything about it without giving it away. I guess all in all using a four star system, I give it a provisional three stars. To recap, If one isn’t into Tarantino films, meh, I can’t recommend ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Everyone else, enjoy!

In real news India lost their first Moon lander Friday. And the first human attempt to land something at the Moon’s South Pole. Bummer all around. Well, they didn’t lose the Vikram Lander, they just lost communication with it moments before it landed. The lander’s orbital component, the Chandrayaan-2 satellite, spotted the Vikram Lander intact on the surface. That doesn’t mean it had a soft landing unfortunately. Attempts to resume communication with the lander will go on for at least two weeks, but it’s not looking good. On the plus side, the orbiter has the best camera yet to orbit the Moon, it can resolve features down to .3 meters (about a foot) accross. Most space missions these days have multiple functions, so that baring a catastrophic failure, at least some science can come out of it. In this case, great science, the best pictures yet of the lunar surface.

No clue yet why Chandrayaan-2’s lander failed, but like airliner crashes, a lot of work has been done in identifying why space missions fail. Teams of experts are likely already meeting to discuss the possibilities. And there are a lot of possibilities, space is a brutal environment. Extreme heat and cold, radiation, and even at the Moon’s distance (1.3 light seconds away from Earth) real time control from Earth isn’t possible. And I’ve always thought there must be all sorts of ways to subtly sabotage space missions. India has at least one rival who won’t be sad to see India fail.

In other world news, Trump has walked away from talks with the Taliban. So much for the US pulling out of Afghanistan and ending America’s longest and possibly most pointless war. Of course when it comes to pointless or even counterproductive wars, 21st century America is a Viking. So once again after a promising start to negotiations, Trump’s efforts at diplomacy have yielded a big fat nothing. At least he’s consistent.

In other Trump news, Trump is still tweeting about his incorrect hurricane prediction. It’s kinda scary, he apparently is unable to admit he was wrong. That’s not a pretty character trait in anyone. The image above was sent to me by a Trump supporting reader. It made me laugh and facepalm. What can I say, if someone’s painting shit on overpasses, they’re likely not too bright to begin with. Speaking of Trump (God, he seeps into everything these days, as if America was just one big load of white laundry that a red hat got tossed into,) every time now I wish readers to have a great week or weekend, I wonder if readers think it’s some subtle allusion to Trump.

No. I was saying ‘Have a great week!’ long before Trump was even visible in Clinton’s rear view mirror. Now though, I guess Trump has kinda claimed the word ‘great’ for his own. So, um, have a wonderful week everyone. (See, not an allusion to Trump.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An overpass in the USA, circa Sept 2019. Credit: Anonymous, permission was given to publish it here.)

Written by unitedcats

September 9, 2019 at 4:49 am