Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Anti-vaxxers’ Category

SCIENCE TUESDAY

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I can probably think of a better title than “Science Tuesday.” One thing at a time though. Today’s pic, a Sundog. Also known as mock suns or parhelia, it’s a little rainbow to one side of the Sun, often two of them on either side equidistant from the Sun. They can also be pretty bright, and look like little Suns. We saw a pair on the way home from Iowa City a few weeks back, it was cool to see. Caused by hexagonal ice crystals floating down horizontally, if I understand this correctly. I didn’t take the above pic though, it’s a public domain Snappygoat image.

This week’s Skeptoid podcast was interesting. It’s usually at least somewhat interesting, but after all these years a lot of the best and well known topics have been covered. (Skeptoid posts every Tuesday morning, another reason for Science Tuesdays.) This week, Our Lady of Zeitoun. Nope, I never heard of it either. It was an apparition of (allegedly) the Virgin Mary that appeared on the rooftop of a church in Cairo for several years starting in 1968. It was a huge deal in Egypt at the time, tens of thousands of people came out to see it, millions may have seen it all together. Various church authorities “investigated” it and determined it was real, no surprise there.

What was it? Distant car headlights occasionally glinting off steeple windows. Why were so many people convinced they were seeing the Virgin Mary? This is where it gets interesting. Yes, of course it was mass hysteria. Interestingly enough though the people of Egypt were primed for just such an event, so it didn’t occur in a vacuum. (Note that the Virgin Mary is holy in Islam as well, so there’s nothing odd about Muslims seeing Mary as a Godly apparition.) They were primed because the previous year the Six Day War happened, where Israel attacked and crushed Egypt, Jordan, and Syria’s militaries in just six days. Ten to fifteen thousand dead Egyptians killed or missing, and a big chunk of Egypt (The Sinai Peninsula) occupied by Israel. Another example of something that makes more sense as part of a larger context. Kind of applies to everything I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of.

Continuing yesterday’s Mars news: We Just Got The First Photo of Mars From China’s Tianwen 1 Probe, And It’s Breathtaking. And I didn’t catch this, but a Mars satellite from the United Arab Emirates just entered Mars orbit: Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. Great, the people of UAE now have a satellite named hope. Actual hope for, say, democracy and human rights, nope. Just another appallingly despotic country ruled for the benefit of the west, so of course it flies completely under the western media’s radar. Fun times: Israel’s Honeymoon With the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Doug’s Darkworld if I didn’t slip in links like that. In Covid and Facebook news: Big News: Facebook Just Banned More COVID-19 Anti-Vax Content. Sounds good to me. People who want to spread dangerous nonsense shouldn’t be given platforms to do so on. They can start websites or print flyers and stick them under windshield wipers or whatever, it’s not like this is censorship or their freedom of speech is being infringed on. I know a lot of people are concerned about recent efforts by social media platforms limiting hate speech and such, but at this point the damage caused to society by people like anti-vaxxers has grown so great that something needs to be done. I’m all for bringing back the Fairness doctrine, getting rid of it was what started us down the road to Americans living in different realities.

Stuff like this nonsense for example: The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy”. Or this: Covid: ‘How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda’. I don’t have a whole lot of patience with anti-vaxxers, since their idiotic ideology is killing people. Anti-maskers either. Or maybe I’m just turning into a cranky old man. Lastly: We Need to Plan Now For The Pandemic That Comes After COVID-19, Scientists Say. Fat chance though, we’re not even taking global warming seriously and it’s going on right now. Fossil fuel use is destroying the climate and killing huge numbers of people, but God forbid governments do something.

We’ve basically built a planetary economy based on weapon sales and oil, the two most profitable industries that ever existed. “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time.” Quoting the alien in Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” What else is there to say? Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sun and sundog. Credit: Diane Renkin. Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

February 9, 2021 at 7:39 pm

BORDERS II

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Well, I got a few testy comments about yesterday’s map. People took umbrage to how it was divided up, or to the idea the US would ever break up. All of which kind of proved my point, we are taught that borders are sacrosanct, and they sure are for a lot of people. In actuality borders are just lines drawn on a map by very powerful people, and often reflect nothing more than those people’s desires. Not that I have a problem with borders, they just need to represent  actual peoples, not made up peoples. And just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m presenting alternate maps to provoke thought and discussion, I’m not actually espousing these exact maps.

The map above was what started me thinking along these lines so many years ago. The Middle East is truly a disaster when it comes to borders. In fact reading my old article linked just now, this map got me some nasty comments too. People really get the existing borders into their identity I guess, so proposed changes are a personal affront. I guess similar to how people get their idea of sexuality and gender so much a part of their identity, that acknowledging that others don’t agree is a threat to their identity.

Did that make sense? It does to me, but trying to explain these things is a challenge. So moving right along, Biden shut down construction on Trump’s border wall. This is because he wants hordes of brown people to pour into America and destroy the white race, turning America into a liberal run socialist nightmare. And if anyone actually believes that, they have sheet for brains. (I’m getting less diplomatic on my old age.) Trump’s border wall was stupid and counterproductive, that’s why it was shut down. Stupid because it won’t work and may just make the problem worse, exactly what happened when Bush 43 tightened up the border, traffickers just moved to other parts of the border and more people got across. And since the border was now harder to cross illegally, people who used to go back and forth seasonally to work decided to stay and send for their families.

All of which was missed by Trump supporters, since Fox News never mentioned it. The border wall is counterproductive on multiple levels as well. It encourages simplistic answers to complex issues. It reinforces the racist ultranationalist trope that people coming over the border illegally are some sort of threat to us. It implies that illegal immigration is some sort of crisis that needs to be solved. No, illegal immigration is like people speeding when they drive, just something that the government has to regulate as best they can.

All kinda leads back to “The map is not the territory.” This is why I reject all dogmatic ideology and religion, it’s painfully clear by now that there are no ideological/religious solutions to humanities’ challenges. Or to be fair, none that have been discovered yet. I think it’s time to try, idk, science and reason? I think they are the best bet at deciding how to move forward. Is there some problem with solutions that are reasonable and science based? And no, science is not a religion or a cult, it’s just a way of looking at the world. An algorithm if one wills.

And finally this link: Viral Lies. Basically pointing out that our media and social platforms are doing a terrible job of preventing the spread of illogical, science denying, harmful misinformation. Having an immunologist debate an anti-vaxxer isn’t balanced reporting, it’s giving a dangerous crank a platform and credibility they don’t deserve. Granted I made that particular example up, but the point is valid. Read the article at the link. I think the internet and social media sites should be run as public utilities with equal access for all, but that’s looking less likely every day as the rich consolidate their hold on the Internet.

In local news, I tried to walk to the store, got four feet before realizing every outdoor surface was covered with 1 mm of ice. Yeah, deathwalk city. I didn’t want to add a few mm of frozen blood to the equation, so I wisely drove my car to the store. By the way, until just last year, why ice was slippery was a scientific mystery. Now we think we know why: Why Is Ice Slippery?

Stay safe and warm everyone. StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: New Middle East map. Credit: Ralph Peters/Chris Broz. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2021 at 8:19 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

WALLS

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I had a thought about the rising tide of paywalled websites. I think it has to do with the rising tide of wealth inequality, especially in America. Hear me out. The percentage of the nation’s wealth owned by poor people has been dropping since 1980, and it’s in free fall with the pandemic. And I suspect that as a marketing segment for people selling access to web sites, the poor simply don’t  count anymore. Why gear one’s marketing to include people that increasingly may not even have Internet access, and increasingly less discretionary spending? An incredibly miniscule and shrinking market segment. So sites like the New York Times and all the rest are charging what the traffic can bear, and the traffic is middle class and above people for whom a dollar a week is pocket change.

This is distressing to me. Initially the Internet was the great equalizer, everyone had equal access and equal opportunity. It’s rapidly transforming into pretty much the opposite, where access and opportunity are purely based on one’s wealth.  Poor people already have huge structures and barriers keeping them in their place in America, now that is playing out on the Internet as well. This is of course completely the opposite of the stated ideals of America, supposedly the “land of opportunity.” More every day now it’s “The land of opportunity for the rich and no one else.”

And despite some good details, Biden, as expected, is looking to be Obama 2.0. Don’t hold one’s breath gentle reader waiting for Medicare-for-All or other fundamental changes. However, I’ll give this a break and cover some other news. And oh, rementioning, as per above, I will never paywall this site, and in fact will be making every effort to avoid even linking to paywalled sites. Partly out of principle, mostly because I’m blogging for everyone. Still, if the gentle reader likes my work, patrons are really appreciated, even a $1 a month helps, sign up here. I used to have a one time only donation button, I’ll see if I can resurrect that. I love to write, I hate marketing. So I’ll copy a line from The Guardian: “Available for everyone, funded by readers.”

Moving right along, a new and even more contagious version of Covid has been discovered in California: California discovers homegrown coronavirus strain that spreads even faster than any other. Depressing, even with the vaccine being rolled out. I’m back to thinking we may well hit a million dead in the US by the time the dying slows. Slows, not ends. I don’t think Covid’s ever going to be over in America, what with our population of anti-vaxxers and white people. Wait, white people? Yes: White people least likely to wear masks consistently, study finds. Another manifestation of white privilege? IDK, maybe not. Maybe there’s just a lot of stupid white people in America.

In terrorism news (domestic terrorism is kind of an American exceptionalismist phrase I’m thinking:) DHS issues terrorism advisory over domestic extremists ’emboldened’ by Capitol riot. Well, finally, the GOP has a long sad history of suppressing such warnings: How Southern politicians hamstrung the fight against right-wing domestic terror. We’ll see, maybe the whole “Stop the Steal” nonsense will fizzle out as it becomes clearer that Trump is a has been, not God’s anointed one. We’ve got plenty of other issues to deal with without another Timothy McVeigh. And who knows, turns out the leader of the Proud Boys was an FBI informant. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was an FBI informant. Hopefully a few heads are exploding in said organization.

Lastly, science news! Footprints of a big (12 foot, 4 meter) crocodile-like animal have been found in strata laid down just after (geologically speaking) the Permian-Triassic extinction event: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. Also known as “The Great Dying,” this was not the event that wiped out the dinosaurs, that was the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event. Formerly known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction.) Science, so confusing, it’s like they keep changing things as our understanding grows. That’s a feature,, not a bug by the way.

Where was I? Right, a 250 million year old crocodile like thing wandering around when and where it wasn’t supposed to be. That’s because the Permian-Triassic extinction event was the big one, the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history, wiping out about 75% of all species on Earth. (We still don’t even know what caused it, but a major asteroid/comet impact likely started it.) Where these tracks were found was supposed to be a lifeless desert at the time. Yet if a 12 foot lizard was wandering around, it means there was an ecosystem still  functioning: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. More textbooks to be rewritten I guess.

My friend’s husband who was mauled by a cougar (not a 12 food lizard) on Monday is recovering nicely. And today a second doctor told me I don’t have cancer! Many more blogs to follow, especially as I live in a land without cougars or 12 foot lizards. Just geese, which I guess is scarier in some ways. Stay safe and warm dear readers. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Great Wall of China. Credit: Jakub Hałun. 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.)

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2021 at 8:26 pm

A MAZE OF DEATH*

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I’m really pessimistic today about what 2021 holds for America. I know that many people think that Trump leaving office is going to head us back towards pre-Trump normalcy. While people can be forgiven for thinking that, I think it’s wishful thinking at this point. A third of America is in revolt against reality itself. They actually believe that the Democrats stole the election and that Trump is somehow going to fix it; especially the people, millions of people, who have slid into the QAnon rathole and think there is some sort of Satanist Pedophile Jewish Democrat cabal running the world … that Trump is secretly fighting.

I don’t think much will happen between now and the inauguration, enormous numbers of troops have been deployed in Washington and state capitals. However, to people still somewhat tethered to reality, this is a sensible precaution after Trump supporters stormed the capitol building. To the tens of millions of Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen, this is further proof that the Democrats are secretly up to no good. That’s why I think there is no way out of this maze of death, everything is now simply further proof of the conspiracy. Motivated reasoning on steroids, if Jesus himself came back from the dead and denounced Trump, the Trumpers would think it was a Democrat hoax.

That’s one factor in my bleak analysis. Another is that despite getting modest press coverage due to the political sheetshow that is dominating the news cycle, America is reeling under the worst mass death crisis since 1918, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 100,000 Americans a month or more are dying of Covid, and with the new more contagious strain spreading, that won’t get better anytime soon. The vaccine rollout will mitigate it eventually, somewhat, maybe, we can hope. And adding a  terrible economy for the poor and working class just adds to the widespread social stress. Hard times have spawned horrible political crises throughout history, and there’s no reason to think America will be any better. Biden is no FDR, and even if he was, he’s facing a much worse situation than FDR faced. Hoover was merely incompetant, Trump in addition to incompetence is doing everything he can to sabotage the nation before he leaves the White House.

Lastly, America is freakishly violent for a developed country. We have a long proud (sadly) history of glorifying both external and internal violence. For many Americans violence is the first option, and always has been. Tens of millions of Americans glorify the Confederacy for God’s sake, a treasonous rebellion that killed a million Americans because the South wanted to keep human beings as property. Our genocidal and ethic cleansing policies towards natives. Over 5,000 lynchings in US history, how many in Canadian history? One. A mob of Americans crossed the border and lynched a man. And America’s homicide, mass murder, and violent crime rates are horrifying compared to the rest of the developed world. Violence has always been the first response of Americans to perceived social ills. Jesus wept.

The capitol riot was just the beginning. The right is already warping the riot to support their warped view of reality: How Republicans Are Warping Reality Around the Capitol Attack. There’s countless potential Lee Harvey Oswalds and Timothy McVeighs out there, and Trump and numerous others are encouraging them. Even if the show of force this week at the inauguration deters new outrages, the right’s imagined grievances aren’t going to go away, if anything they will get worse. I don’t see a peaceful resolution to this discord.

And worse (yes, Doug’s Darkworld, not Doug’s Puppyworld) I still think the rest of the country is wildly underestimating how bad this could get. Like people are all up in arms worrying that Trump is looting the White House on his way out. Frankly, who cares, the Republic is in one of the worst crises in its history, and people are upset that the Trumps might be stealing White House silverware? Not my worry. I freaking hope that before the Biden’s move in the White House gets a world class scouring for bombs, toxins, booby traps, and surveillance devices. It only takes one radicalized White House staffer to leave something that would change history. Anyone who doesn’t understand after the capitol riot that some of these QAnon people are capable of anything is living in a dream world.

Remember, if a time bomb went off in the White House, or a bunch of Biden people die of anthrax … that wasn’t done by a right wing extremist among Trump’s staff, oh no, the Democrats did that to make Trump look bad! Every act of violence here on out is going to make things worse, and it only takes a handful of people realizing that to act on it. This is why I took down my Biden sign and hung an American flag in my window. If in July 1914 someone said there would be a million war deaths by Christmas 1914, they would have been laughed at. I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021 America, but I think there will be more blood than in anyone’s worst nightmares.

I hope and pray I’m wrong. Stay safe everyone. Comments, likes, shares, and especially patrons appreciated. If the gentle reader enjoys my writing, even a dollar a month makes a difference. God bless all. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Dead civilians in Belgium killed by Nazis in the winter of 1944. Credit: US government photographer, so Public Domain under US copyright law.)

*’A Maze of Death’ is a 1970 scifi novel by Philip K. Dick. Titles cannot be copyrighted, but I still wanted to credit one of my favorite authors.

Written by unitedcats

January 17, 2021 at 9:02 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Good news, bad news, horrifying news, just another day in 2020. This was in the small “good news” pile: Opinion | The Deep State Is on a Roll The article doesn’t mean the traditional understanding of ‘Deep State,’ the author is talking about all the judges, election officials, representatives etc across the country who decided protecting the institutions of democracy across the land was more important than any loyalty to Trump. The people that did their jobs, did their jobs well, and are sticking by them. Yes, Mr Trump, it was a fair and honest election, you lost. Trump’s chances of overturning the results of the election, never good to begin with, are getting slimmer every day. That’s a big national win.

In a local lose: Insane Christians Convinced a South Dakota City to Water Down Its Mask Mandate. And they are insane, wearing a mask is neither a political nor a religious issue, just a matter of public safety. You know, saving lives? In dark irony, I’m betting most of these people would call themselves “Pro Life.” I guess they should change it to “Pro life so long as I don’t have to lift a finger or inconvenience myself in any way to save lives.” I particularly liked the lady claiming “God didn’t intend for us to wear things on our faces!” … while wearing a pair of glasses. I guess she got a special dispensation from God for those? If one out of 800 South Dakotans dying of Covid-19 didn’t make these people see reason, nothing will.

In bigger bad news, or future bad news: What South Korea Can Teach Us About Vaccine Hesitancy. Basically, while it looks like vaccines will become widely available in the US over the next few months, there are real fears that resistance to taking the vaccine will be so high that vaccination rates will be well below the threshold for herd immunity. In fact I fully expect the GOP to politicize vaccines just like they’ve politicized everything in recent decades. If Biden and the Democrats are for vaccines, then by God vaccines are a communist plot to turn Americans into gay transexual socialists! So Democrats will line up to get vaccinated, Republicans won’t. We won’t get herd immunity, but at least there will be far fewer deaths among the vaccinated.

In foreign bad news, a prominent Iranian scientist was gunned down in the street. Almost certainly by Israel. Almost certainly in an effort to scuttle any chance Biden has of getting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) back in force, the humiliating agreement Iran signed to allow intrusive western monitoring of its nuclear program. Israel more than any other nation needs a scary Iran to distract from its own aggressive foreign policy, mistreatment of its Palestinian citizens, and utter failure to persue peace with its neighbors. We’ll see, maybe I’ll write a dedicated post on the Middle East mess. “Bad actors, acting badly” or some such horror.

In space news, China is about to collect the first moon rocks since the 1970s. Better yet, they are collecting them from a never before sampled part of the Moon, the Mons Rümker formation (photograph above,)  an isolated volcanic formation. It’s believed to be only about a billion years old, while the Apollo Missions landed in regions where the rocks were 3 billion years old or more. Apparently these new samples will help estimating rock ages throughout the Solar System. China has quite an ambitious Lunar program planned. The next step is a permanent robotic base, followed up by a manned base in the 2030s. Humans may well return to the Moon in my lifetime, I’d get a kick out of it.

In other space news, a new mystery: Astronomers Are Mystified by These Ghostly, Unexplained Circles Seen in Space “Seen” is not quite the word, these are only visible in radio frequencies. Big fuzzy rings of radio emissions in space, lots of them, found because we have a new super sensitive radio telescope mapping the heavens. Astronomers have no idea what is making them, we don’t even know how big they are or how far away they are. IE we could be seeing local things in our galaxy all the way up to giant chunks of the Universe itself.

They are however natural, no reason to believe otherwise. I just love as we explore the Universe, we’re constantly finding things no one expected. Pretty safe to say we always will, the Universe is complicated and unexpected in any direction we look. We’re nowhere near understanding it all, nor is it likely we ever will be in anything resembling the near future. On the other hand, our modern scientific understanding of the Universe and the world around us is amazingly accurate compared to most of human history.

On the gripping hand, modern science may well usher in a nightmare world. Until the late nineteenth century, people were more or less evenly matched when it came to dishing out violence. If ten people attacked, ten people could defend. Obviously there are codicils, an armed trained knight could take on a bunch of peasants, but it still basically boiled down to one on one. The invention of gunpowder even more smoothed the odds if both sides had gunpowder.

Then, in the late 19th century, smokeless gunpowder was invented. One person could fight ten people, even 100. Guerrilla warfare suddenly became a viable strategy. And the trend has accelerated since then, small numbers of people with advanced weaponry can kill huge numbers of people. This scary article looks into this. Basically, it’s just around the corner possible to fill a semi truck with millions of mini-drones that can be programmed to seek out, say, human heads, and set off a one gram shaped charge that will, well, blow the brain in that head to bits.

That’s right folks, we are the cusp of an era where OBL could kill millions of New Yorkers, not just a few thousand. This article goes into some of the thought and speculation about how this will play out: Omniviolence Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. Best not to even think about what governments could do with this technology. This is why I think intelligence such as ours is an evolutionary dead end, sooner or later some Hitler/Jeffrey Dalmer will kill us all.

Stay safe and sane everyone. Comments, likes, shares, etc appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #Omniviolence

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

Written by unitedcats

December 2, 2020 at 8:32 pm

THE TRUMP PLAN FOR MASS DEATH IS UNFOLDING IN FRONT OF OUR EYES

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And away we go, the gentle reader thought Covid-19 was bad this spring, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Trump has pretty much abdicated from actually running the country, and completely abdicated on doing anything about the pandemic. Most state governors are doing very little as well. So basically America has resigned itself to hundreds of thousands of additional deaths and millions more Americans with long term or permanent health problems … because it’s too much hassle to do anything about it? I mean, hell if I know. The world, the future, many Americans look on with astonishment and horror as the world’s last superpower allows a pandemic to spread unchecked through its population.

Amazing what one can get used to I guess. America has been lost in space for decades really, it’s not like our attachment with reality was terribly strong to begin with. Maybe it began with the Moon Landing Hoax. The idea that possibly the most well documented event in human history was somehow a hoax. I sometimes think that was the moment the “I believe something that wouldn’t even make a believable science fiction movie” virus got hold. Comic book thinking I call it. That’s about the level of it. Grown ups unable to see that certain ideas are both logically absurd, have zero evidence in support of them, and a mountain of evidence against them.

Things like holocaust denial, flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, etc. I used to debate people like that, now they’ve retreated into their own online realities. At least people are trying. Hell, I’m trying, it’s why I write. I’ve been fascinated by the amazing universe we live in since forever, and never stopped trying to figure it out. And the secret of the universe: It’s easy to get people to believe BS. And here America is, steeped in BS while awash in the wonders of actual science. Go figure. Hell, science has made it even easier to get people to believe in BS. Advertising and propaganda are sciences now, and quite effective ones thank you.

A moment here to thank the church for laying the groundwork for America’s disenfranchisement from reality. By church, I mean fundamentalists and biblical literalists of all stripes. By 1830  science knew that the Earth was at least millions of years old and there was never a global flood. By 1870 the scientific debate over evolution was over. But to this day tens of millions of Americans teach their children that Genesis was literally true. This is why the aliens lock their doors and fly right by.

And now into this mix, throw Trump. He really is a figure of incredible historical prominence. Obama, Palin, Biden will all be historical footnotes someday, Trump will be a Caesar, Napoleon, or Hitler. People will remember him. There really hasn’t been any American in my life like him, able to get blind devotion and support from tens of millions of Americans, he’s their messiah. Trump’s a brilliant self-promoter, one of the best in history. He’s parlayed it into a fortune, world wide name recognition, and the presidency of the United States.

I’d say I’d love to meet Trump, like I’d love to meet Obama or Caesar or Lincoln, but no. I don’t think there’s really anyone there there. He hasn’t grasped Covid-19 is real just for starters. In any event, the chances I will interview Trump for my blog are minimal. Still, it’s 2020, anything is possible. Stay safe everyone, Dr, Fauci hasn’t given up hope: U.S. reports record 153,400 new Covid cases as Dr. Fauci urges Americans to be careful: ‘It is not futile’. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

November 14, 2020 at 8:24 pm

BIOLOGICAL ATTACK ON AMERICA

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“Biological attack at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally spreads a deadly and highly contagious disease to at least 250,000 Americans across the land. Thousands will die, tens of thousands will have long term or permanent health damage. Health care costs alone estimated at 12 billion dollars.” 

Imagine if another nation did this to us? Trump and his supporters would be enraged. Nope. America did this to itself, and Trump and his supporters just watched, when not actually cheering them on. I am talking about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a few weeks back. The results are starting to come in, and as expected, Covid-19 loved it!   250,000 cases. That’s just a first little study, this is going to be one of the most well studied epidemiological experiments in history. Let’s take a half million Americans, a few percent of them definitely infected with Covid-19, cram them into close proximity with each other for a week with little effort at mask compliance even … ideal conditions for Covid-19 to spread … and then we’ll study what happens. 

Thousands will die. Tens of thousands will have long term and/or permanent health damage. And this is just for starters. It’s still stunning to me that an ongoing apocalypse is rolling across America, and Trump and so many others are still essentially pretending Covid-19 will go away.  On the plus side, Covid-19 is exposing rotten, corrupt, and undemocratic leaders around the globe. This is some interesting thinking on it: The Pandemic Was Supposed to Be Great for Strongmen. What Happened? (Sorry it’s paywalled.) Basically Trump is not the only autocrat to tell his people “It’s just a cold folks!” to disastrous results. The ongoing demonstrations in Belorussia were triggered by just that sort of incompetant leadership. Covid-19 doesn’t give a shit about politics or personality or religion or ideology. Well run countries with modern health infrastructure do OK against Covid-19. Corrupt incompetant regimes fare much worse. Sadly, despite the delusions of many Americans, America is a lot closer to the latter than to the former.

Americans are still not understanding how bad this pandemic could get. So many of them do not yet understand that Covid-19 is a new disease, one whose long term effects we are only beginning to understand, one that no sane person or nation would want to risk. And it could get much worse. Nightmare scenarios are still possible, where people who get Covid-19 start to develop various cancers in a year or two. For the first time in our lives the entire human race is sailing into uncharted waters. One would think that would wake most people up, apparently not. 

People worry about fantasy microchips injected by Bill Gates, but fail to understand that Covid-19 is a vastly more sophisticated biological device that once it gets inside you does all sorts of nasty shit, as well as uses your body’s breath to spread itself to other bodies. Yeah, a microchip that spreads itself to one’s friends and family, Bill gates could only dream of such a thing.  I had a bunch of links for today, but the Sturgis thing came out and, sigh, what else is there? The governor of South Dakota is in denial about it all already. We’re not really an intelligent species. One link though, the good Doctor Novella has some thoughts about how and why people fall for conspiracy theories: QAnon and Other Conspiracies

Stay safe everyone. Depressing times for sure. Can’t anyone get Trump to take Covid-19 seriously? Next post something normal, like emails from aliens. Comments, shares, likes appreciated. And stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: The Triumph of Death. Credit: Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 8, 2020 at 7:50 pm

THE CRAZINESS CONTINUES: THE STURGIS COVID-19 FESTIVAL

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The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. August 7-16. 250,000 people gathering for a week of music, motorcycles, dancing, sex, and sharing Covid-19. The mind, formerly boggled, reels uncontrollably. See previous post about large segments of the population still not understanding that Covid-19 has changed everything. They do have a link to a Covid tracker on their page, but that seems like the only concession they made. Understandably a lot of people are concerned, this is going to be the largest public gathering anywhere in the country since the pandemic arrived. Only about half as many people as usual are expected, so not every biker etc is living in fantasy land. Safe bet though that the ones that are attending are the people least likely to practice proper social distancing when they get home. Or to put it it in simple terms:

In the same vein, the cruise line industry started re-opening. What could possibly go wrong with cramming a huge bunch of people in an enclosed ship where they all breathe the same air? As almost any epidemiologist (excluding any that Trump suggests) could have predicted: A Covid-19 outbreak. I could say “What were they thinking?” I won’t because I don’t think they were thinking at all. Go to a huge concert or what not, get a terrible disease to go with your T-shirt. The new normal for those still in denial about Covid-19.

But wait, aren’t vaccines being rushed out? Won’t that just fix everything? Yes, and almost certainly no. There are two problems. First, at this point vaccines are being rushed into use without adequate trials. Russia claims to be in the lead, but experts have doubts. The Russians haven’t released any data about their trials for example. It’s basically a Hail Mary pass. They are hoping it doesn’t turn out to have negative side effects. They are hoping it works. Both assumptions are questionable. If the Covid-19 pandemic was a Hollywood movie, sure, at the last minute brilliant scientists would develop a vaccine and millions of lives would be saved. Life isn’t a Hollywood movie, a point that shouldn’t have to be repeated. Hell, shouldn’t have to be made in the first place.

Just off the top of my head I can think of three other reasons not to get too excited about a Covid-19 vaccine yet. First off, if any problems do result, the anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy folks will go nuts. People like these are already causing enough problems in the fight against Covid-19, giving them more ammunition won’t help. Secondly, it will make people think everything is under control and thus neglect other anti-Covid-19 measures; we need more compliance with masking and social distancing, not less. Thirdly, related to that, a vaccine is only part of the strategy to fight a dangerous infectious disease. Rigorous testing/tracking and quarantine programs are still needed to stay on top of the disease. A step that the US especially is failing.

Sigh. Moving right along. Just occurred to me that this election is the first wartime election since the 1960s. Granted a pandemic and a war are two different things, but the base comparison is valid. In both cases an ongoing event is killing Americans, and the situation on the ground so to speak can change rapidly. Another reason not to get too worked up about the election, or make predictions. At this point either candidate could win. Trump’s base tends to vote in large numbers for their demographic, and Biden’s “vote for me because I’m not Trump” is hardly inspiring.

Which reminds me, I just had a long talk with my uncle in Canada. Always good to keep in touch with family. One of the things he said was a  heartfelt “How the hell did one of the great nations on Earth end up with an election between two doorknobs?” A lot of us are wondering that too Uncle L. And he mentioned that Americans are not welcome in Canada right now. They’ve had too many incidents where Americans said they would self-quarantine, then been spotting noshing at a local bar. On the plus side the Americans then find out what it’s like being in a country that expects people to act like adults. $1500 fine, kicked out of the country, and likely banned from entering again.

Someone left a comment on my last post. I only hastily reviewed it. Something about Trump will save us all when he gets reelected. I’ll take a closer look and deconstruct it tomorrow if it’s worth deconstructing. What a year. What an election. “I’m not Trump” vs “I’ll fix all the problems I caused!” You can’t make this shit up. You’re right Uncle L, doorknob vs doorknob. Hope everyone had a good Monday (it is Monday, right?) Stay safe; likes, shares, comments, and anatomically possible suggestions welcome. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

PS: The movie in the top meme; Arrival, 2016. Great intellectual scifi movie, as opposed to the usual monster and alien invasion fare.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Images publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm

PEAK FARCE, PEAK STUPID? WHERE DOES IT GO FROM HERE?

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800px-Creation_Museum_Exterior

An American is dying every minute of Covid-19 now, with no end in sight. We are living in a failed state. I’m tempted to give up on America. I can’t though, I’m going to continue to blog and try to be a voice of reason in a  nation gone stupid. There’s no polite way to put it, there has been a rising tide of stupid in America my entire life, and Trump and Covid-19 have accelerated it. Willful ignorance might be a better word for it, since loads of perfectly smart people are now believing stupid things. Dunning Kruger on steroids.

Yeah, the Creation “Museum.” A quarter of Americans believe the Bible is literally true. They believe the Earth was created by an invisible magical fairy 6,000 years ago. It opened in 2007. And no future and foreign readers, they are serious. It’s not satire, a joke, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, a send up. Nope, it’s an actual serious effort to portray the story of Genesis in the Bible as if it really happened. So no, not a museum either, in any real sense of the word. I’m assuming that guests who go around guffawing hysterically are quietly escorted off the grounds. They’d have to be, otherwise it would be a stoner’s mecca.

I guess if one can get people to accept a load of codswallop as real, it makes it easier to get them to swallow subsequent loads. Somewhere along the way this kind of studied ignorance in America hit some sort of critical mass, and it’s been expanding ever since. Not without encouragement of course, getting people to believe nonsense must be very profitable to the con artists of the world. And since 2000 the stupidity has exploded. Anti Vaxxers, the various truthers, even Flat Earthers. Centuries of science and reason dissolving before my eyes.

Not limited to Evangelicals or Trump supporters either. A Facebook friend posted today a rant and warning about how a couple of Russian websites were trying to sow discord in America, and people should not go to them. I wanted to reach through my computer screen and shake her. While screaming: Have you ever watched Fox News? Have you ever listened to Rush Limbaugh? Have you ever gone to the Drudge Report? Whatever the Russians may or may not be up to, Americans are doing just fine on their own sowing discord and hatred around the land. Again, there must be profit in it for some, no matter the damage to the health of the republic. And this is an interesting article by a former Republican on pretty much just that.

Despite my lowering bar for civility toward the man and party who are destroying America., I’m trying to avoid name calling. As I’ve said for decades, name calling is the first and last refuge of those who can’t make a logical argument. Thank you Rush Limbaugh, though it started long before him, he was the first to bring name calling into the mainstream.

And as a last example of American’s being completely out of touch with reality, the push to reopen schools. Despite the fact the pandemic is out of control (an American is dying every minute,) there’s still no national test/track/quarantine program, and children can’t possibly be expected to practice social distancing … Trump and the GOP are pushing to get children back into school. Do nothing, pretend a miracle will occur, and somehow life will go back to normal. The same strategy Trump and numerous GOP governors have used so far fighting Covid-19 with spectacularly disastrous results. Here’s a good article on why this push to reopen schools will be a horrifying fail. And this article too.

The party that thinks “thoughts and prayers” is a substitute for “reason and science” still hasn’t seen the light. 150,000 dead, hundreds of thousands more with long term or permanent health deficits. Dear God, when will all this winning end? Well, hopefully it will start winding down in 92 days. Stay safe gentle readers. Shares, likes, comments appreciated.  #StaytheFhome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Creation “Museum” in Kentucky. Credit: Jelson25, a wikipedia contributor. They have released the image into Public Domain in the United States.)

Written by unitedcats

August 2, 2020 at 8:34 pm