Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Biden’ Category

UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 no. 3: WHAT IS RUSSIA SO AFRAID OF?

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Well, talks between Russia and the US continue. Though the US and its close allies are still yelling about imminent Russian invasion. Um, the government of Ukraine has been backpedaling furiously though. They aren’t happy that the US and others pulled their embassy staff out, and in fact thanked the other EU members for not adding to the hysteria. Because, the idea that the Russians will be bombing Kyiv is, well, ridiculous. Anyhow, this covers this: What’s Actually Happening in Ukraine? And here’s an interesting article claiming that Biden is doing this simply because his approval ratings have been plummeting. It also covers more of the history of Crimea: Sleepy Joe’s Wimpy Tail Wags the Dog of War. So day three of my Ukraine watch, no war yet.

One of the things so annoying about the media reporting on this subject is how Russia’s point of view is either ignored, or worse, completely misrepresented. Putin is regularly cast as the aggressor, often to absurd lengths like claiming he wants to reconquer eastern Europe and restore the Soviet Union. Um, that’s codswaddle, the Soviet occupation of eastern europe was a gigantic fail, no one in their right mind would want to resurrect it. And Putin is one smart mofo, not an idiot.

There’s two reasons Russia is edgy about its European borders. The first is the history of the 20th century. Russia was twice invaded by western armies. The first being World War One and its aftermath, during which various western militaries, including America, sent troops into Russia during their civil war. And then. Just a generation later, a resurgent Germany invaded again. That was the big one, what the Nazis did in Russia was one of history’s greatest crimes, at least 25 million Russians lost their lives, major cities were laid waste. And you better believe Russia is covered with war memorials, this is still a living memory in Russia. And the reason they kept Germany divided and eastern europe occupied after the war, they weren’t about to let a resurgent Germany rise and do it again.

Eventually though, the cost of occupation bankrupted the Soviet Union and it collapsed in 1989. At this point Nato was obsolete and should have been disbanded. And in fact in return for withdrawing from eastern europe, the US promised Russia that Nato would not expand eastward. Instead, Nato aggressively expanded eastward up to and inside the borders of the old Soviet Union. And doing everything in its power to isolate and weaken Russia. Including deploying “missile defense” systems. Um, missile defense systems are first strike weapons, there’s nothing defensive about them. So Putin has every reason to suspect American motives in eastern europe, think how America would react if a Russian backed coup seized power in Mexico, allied with Russia, and stationed Russian troops on the border of the US. The hysteria in Washington would be audible from the ISS. Why is it so hard to understand that Russia might have legitimate concerns about Nato in Ukraine?

Because America as well as being the most powerful empire the world has ever known is also one of the most narcissistic empires the world has ever known. That however is a topic for a future blog. One last note for today, Jan 27th is the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. How human beings can do that to other humans is horrifying beyond belief. It starts with people deciding that “other” people aren’t human, for whatever reason be it religion, skin color, gender, etc. In any event, never forget: Haunting colourised pictures of Nazi concentration camp victims reveal the full horror of Holocaust | Daily Mail Online.

Bonus link: The US-Russia Commitment Gap: And Its Tragic Potential.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2022 at 9:00 pm

UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 no 2: GOTCHA, THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR

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No major new developments in the 2022 Ukraine crisis today, but the west has refused Russia’s request that Ukraine not be allowed to join Nato. Granted the west promised Russia that Nato wouldn’t expand eastward if the Soviet Union agreed to pull out of Eastern Europe, but bad faith is America’s stock in trade. And Russia does indeed have reasonable security concerns. Points for later posts, today’s post, America’s long history of instigating wars while claiming self defense. Thus why I am very much afraid the Biden administration is trying to start a war, not stop one. To wit:

America has been the world’s most powerful country since around 1830, its economic power and thus ability to wage war unmatched by any rival, peaking in power around 1945 when America effectively ruled the world’s seas. In the years after World War Two even the rest of the world combined couldn’t challenge America’s globe spanning fleet. And while its status has declined some since, America is still the greatest military and economic power the world has ever known. None of this is open to argument, though of course some will, see above meme.

So it follows naturally that no country in its right mind would attack the US, directly at least. This presented a problem. America loves to portray itself as the world’s beacon of democracy, freedom, human rights, etc. So if the government wanted to wage war on someone, just right out attacking them would contradict the “America is great” schtick. People, even many Americans, would notice. Instead America has a long standing policy of provoking hostilities, however minor, and using that to justify going to war.

Starting in 1846. A large part of Mexico, Texas was in open revolt against Mexico, having declared independence and defeated the Mexican forces sent to quell the rebellion. So the border between Mexico and Texas wasn’t even defined, with competing claims on each side. So the US marched an army into the contested territory, territory that was still claimed (and in fact legally in the possession of Mexico,) hoping that the Mexican military would respond. They did, and the US used a border dispute to justify a huge war of conquest. It’s right there in Wikipedia even. “Polk sent U.S. Army troops to the area; he also sent a diplomatic mission to Mexico to try to negotiate the sale of territory. U.S. troops’ presence was designed to lure Mexico into starting the conflict, …

In the US Civil War, the war started because Confederate troops shelled Fort Sumter. What is never mentioned is that Lincoln was trying to start a war. And in fact he had ordered Fort Sumter reinforced in the hopes the Confederates would attack the ships, thus giving him a casus beli. They did him one better, shelling the fort itself. Whatever one thinks of the Civil War, Lincoln wanted war and goaded the rebels into firing the first shot. And also again, a very minor border incident was used to launch the largest war ever in the western hemisphere.

OK, Pearl Harbor, clearly the nefarious Japanese launched a dastardly surprise attack on unsuspecting America! Not even close. Roosevelt was very much trying to provoke a war with Japan. He had embargoed their oil, sent them a badly worded ultimatum, and refused to talk with them. Let’s see, the US wouldn’t talk to them, so they had no assurance that even if they complied with Roosevelt’s ultimatum that the oil would come back on.  And without oil, both their economy and their ability to even defend themselves would collapse within a year. They chose war to get access to oil, the only real choice Roosevelt left them.

And, the Tonkin Gulf incident. A single machine gun bullet hit an American destroyer, and President Johnson used it as an excuse to launch one of the bloodiest wars in 20th century history, a war that killed millions of people and accomplished nothing. And what was that American destroyer doing when a bullet hit it? It was sailing along North Vietnam’s coast, in and out of North Vietnamese water. American destroyer’s did that routinely, and often south Vietnamese gunboats would follow afterwards and raid North Vietnam. And the last time, North Vietnamese patrol boats rushed out to intercept the destroyer, the destroyer opened fire, and the patrol boats returned fire. There was a second incident that night, but there’s no evidence it was anything other than spooked sailors shooting at shadows. And on the basis of these American provoked incidents, Congress gave Johnson the blanket authority  to ultimately drop more bombs than were dropped by all of the participants in all of world War Two.

Gulf War One. Saddam without warning invades and conquers innocent Kuwait, and is massing to attack Saudi Arabia! He’s about to be the next Hitler! That’s the American propaganda version, the reality is far different. Prior to Iraq’s attack, Kuwait had done everything in its considerable economic power to  hurt Iraq. They had called in all the loans they made to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, they were pumping and selling oil way above their OPEC quotas thus depressing the price of oil. And most egregious of all, there was a neutral zone between Iraq and Kuwait where the border was in dispute, they were slant drilling into the neutral zone and stealing its oil. And as the icing on the cake, they utterly refused to even talk to Iraq. I mean just before the war Saudi Arabia had convinced Kuwait to sit down to talks. The Saudi and Iraqi delegations entered and sat down. The Kuwaiti delegation entered, sat down, got up, walked out. The Saudis were furious, and Saddam unleashed his tanks. It’s basically inconceivable that Kuwait did this without absolute certainty that the USA would intervene. And the pics Bush said he had showing Iraq was massing tanks on the Saudi border. They were just another lie.

Gulf War Two. That one’s pretty much an open book. After 9/11 the Bush administration blamed Iraq for 9/11 (despite zero evidence,) and made up the idea that Saddam secretly had WMDs and was going to attack the US if we didn’t attack him first. No WMDs were found, in fact it was found that Saddam indeed had complied with the terms the US had forced on him after Gulf War One.

So there, six major historical examples of the US instigating and provoking wars and lying about it. And this is why I am terrified that it’s happening again, the US for whatever reason has decided to provoke a war with Russia. And I think this is a terrible idea. Will Putin rise to the bait and do something the US could use as a casus beli? I hope not, Putin has everything to lose and nothing to gain from such. Still, Putin will react with force if certain lines are crossed, as he did in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. We’ll see. There has been at least some recognition in the west that Putin’s security concerns are valid, and talks are scheduled. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the Russian perspective.

Bonus link: NATO Bears Some Responsibility for the Ukraine Crisis.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 26, 2022 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Biden, History, Putin, Russia, Ukraine

WAR SCARE: WILL RUSSIA INVADE UKRAINE?

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So for the past week Biden (and some of his Nato allies, particularly Britain) have been sounding the alarm about Russian troop movements in Russia, claiming that Russia is about to invade Ukraine, and promising massive economic retaliation when Russia does attack. I’m very alarmed by this development, I think the US is up to something, and a confrontation with Russia of some sort is a very real possibility. There’s a lot to unpack, but the mainstream media’s coverage of this might as well be written by the Pentagon and the White House. So as long as this crisis is unfolding, I’m going to post daily. To help me understand if nothing else, but hopefully I have a few readers left. Head’s up, these won’t be the most polished posts, more like coverage of a live event.

Where to start. The media coverage. It’s terrible, why I call in the FCM, fawning corporate media. They simply are regurgitating Cold War propaganda repurposed for the current situation. It would take a book to write a balanced history of The Cold War, and maybe some posts will touch on that, for today’s launch, I’m just going to cover some salient points. And point one, the media and government are lying. Talk to your friends and relatives who remember Vietnam or Saddam’s WMDs if the gentle reader wasn’t around for those.

OK, is Russia going to invade Ukraine? No. Godot Likely To Arrive Before Russia Invades Ukraine. Russia will defend its own vigorously, but they have no interest in conquest. And no, despite endless western propaganda, Crimea never wanted to be part of Ukraine in the first place: Does Crimea want to become part of Russia? Arguably they were never legally part of Ukraine to begin with. The reason the US and the west were/are so eager to keep Crimea out of Russia is that the loss of Sevastopal as a military base would have crippled the Russian navy.

So if Russia isn’t going to attack, what’s going to happen? Well, possibly Ukraine decides it has a green light to attack its two breakaway eastern provinces: Eastern Ukraine Separatists Warn Kyiv Preparing Offensive in Donbas. What is Donbas? Well, after the US backed anti-Russia coup in Ukraine in 2014, two eastern Ukraine provinces (where the population were majority ethnic Russians) declared autonomy, fully supported by Russia. While there has been sporadic fighting, the situation is mostly stable. If Ukraine decided to settle the situation militarily, like Georgia foolishly tried in Ossetia in 2008, Russia will respond.

Sort of the core of the whole thing is that Russia’s legitimate security concerns have been ignored, and that’s what this is really all about. Russia doesn’t want Nato troops and equipment on Russia’s borders any more than Americans would want Russian first strike weapons deployed in Mexico. Especially if Mexico was claiming California as its own. Here’s a good article: Are Neocons Worried at Pace of US-Russia Talks?

I don’t have any answers. I don’t really know what’s going on, but world geopolitics is a cutthroat business. I do know that “Putin is Hitler and the US and Nato are the hapless good guy victims” is, just, silly. Oh, and while we’re at it, sanctions are war. I hope the gentle reader checks out the links I posted before commenting. I hope the situation resolves itself without a war, but I fear that’s what Biden is up to. We’ll see.

In my personal life, don’t ask. I had a bad fall, face plant, I’m still homeless, but things are looking up. Have a great 2022 everyone, I’ll daily blog if I can. This is far more exciting than Trump vs Biden, it will be fun.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 25, 2022 at 9:23 pm

“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

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

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

HEAR THAT POPPING SOUND IN THE DISTANCE? THAT’S EVANGELICAL’S HEADS EXPLODING …

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Because: Nevada pageant winner to become 1st transgender Miss USA contestant Saw this posted on Facebook, the outrage in some comments was, sadly, predictable. Something that quite literally has zero effect on them or society is somehow personally enraging to them. The nation and world has all sorts of terrible ongoing problems that are most definitely impacting everyone’s lives in negative ways … but they are outraged because a Miss USA contestant was born with male genitals. Go figure.

Might have linked this before, but it’s worth another look: Why Biden’s American election meddling comments in Geneva were such a bad look Basically Biden lectured Putin on election interference, claiming it made Russia look bad. Apparently Biden was utterly oblivious to the fact that it’s the USA that is the world’s number one meddler in foreign elections. Pot calls kettle black in other words.

A good article about France hopefully coming to grips with sexual abuse and pedophilia: Omerta in France. France has a long proud history of romance and seduction, but a lot of it is actually pretty nasty.

Another one from the trending “I’m going to change the facts to fit my narrative” file: Horses in Pre-Columbian America. Horses became extinct in North America something like ten thousand years ago, and didn’t return until the European conquest began after 1492. However, three modern groups are disputing that. One is some native groups, basically based on oral traditions, and the fact that they aren’t comfortable with the idea that the horse, which was such a central part of plains indian culture, originated with the European invaders. Hey, I can understand that. Second, by wild horse aficionados who want wild horses to get protected status, which is only granted to native species, not invasive species. Their hearts are in a good place. Lastly, the LDS Church. Because … the Book of Mormon written in the 19th century clearly claims there were horses in the New World in Biblical times. And of course since they claim it was written by God or such, it must be true. Right.

They’re all wrong of course. Well, wrong so far as current science understands it. Scientists do make mistakes though, that’s why scientific research is ongoing: It’s OK to be Wrong | NeuroLogica Blog. There was some thinking in the mid 19th century that science was on the verge of discovering everything there was to know and soon humans would have God’s creation all figured out. Ah, the folly of youth. Interestingly enough science is now able to find DNA in soil layers and determine what animals were around when the soil was deposited: All the major players spent time in the Denisovan cave. This is actually going to revolutionize archeology and paleontology. Not to mention putting the final nail in the coffin of such imaginary animals as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of imaginary creatures, the much awaited Pentagon report of UFOs came out. Oh, wait, they’re UAPs now because UFOs have such a bad name. Of course the report contained absolutely nothing new, because UFOs are one big nothingburger. Great for scaring up defense dollars though: UFO Report Provides No New Information But Plenty Of Fodder For Cold Warrior Policymakers. I know some will say, but reliable people have seen them! Um, when someone sees something in the sky the human eye cannot determine how big it is, how far away it is, or how fast it is moving. Then there’s the fact that UFOs have only been reported in modern times in regions with a history of UFO sightings, no one has ever hit one, none have ever crashed, and no one has gotten a good picture of one.

When I was younger people would say, no one ever got a picture of a car crash either! Well, decades later, we have lots of car crash pictures, still no UFO, Bigfoot, or Nessie pics. And of course SETI has come up with absolutely nada, and they’ve tried a lot of promising approaches. If alien intelligent life is ever discovered, I will of course be thrilled, but right now the overwhelming evidence is that UFOs are mythological, sociological, and psychological constructs like ghosts and angels.

Getting more random here: ‘Dragon man’ claimed as new species of ancient human but doubts remain. Long story short, during WW2 Chinese laborers found a weird skull, didn’t want the Japanese occupiers to know about it, and it was hidden until just recently. And lo and behold it’s one of the most unusual ancient skulls ever found and some are claiming it’s a new human lineage like Denosovians or Neanderthals. Yeah, one skull, no context, no DNA. Let’s not get carried away, maybe it was a Denosovian Andre the Giant. Neat find, and our understanding of just how complicated the human lineage is grows all the time, but we are not going to be rewriting textbooks on the basis of one skull.

Well, a few more links, but tomorrow! Or whenever. Interesting time in my life indeed. So the pics above! Both were taken in the 1930s. The one on the left is a group of Soviet Young Pioneers. Kinda Stalin’s equivalent of Hitler Youth. On the right, a Mickey Mouse Club meeting. The similarities and differences are telling. Even by the thirties American youth were living in a fantasy world.

So final nice story and segue. During Kristallnacht, a Jewish family was in their home as a mob came up the street burning and looting Jewish homes. Just before it got there, their 17 year old neighbor ran into their house wearing his Hitler Youth uniform. When the mob arrived he yelled out of an upstairs window that the home had been sold to a good German family, and the Jews were gone. Saving their home and valuables, and ultimately saving their lives as it left them with the resources to flee Germany before the war.

Stay cool and safe everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Described in text, both are Public Domain images to the best of my knowledge.)

Written by unitedcats

June 29, 2021 at 7:48 pm

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Scary on the face of it, and scary because it certainly seems to imply to me that they see people practicing their 

Or, what’s the GOP up to now? For starters: Half a Year After Trump’s Defeat, Arizona Republicans Are Recounting the Vote. Yes, despite no evidence of the massive fraud that Trump claims, the GOP is still trying to overturn the election results. And the company in charge of the recounting … is headed by a big “Stop the Steal” proponent. Since Biden has already been sworn in, I can’t see any good coming of this. Just a continuation of the modern GOP’s program to reject the reality of anything they disapprove of. At least they’re consistent.

That’s when they’re not freaking out about about stuff that isn’t actually happening: Where’s The Beef? Republicans Outraged Over Biden Meat Policy…That Doesn’t Exist. Basically a satirical article in an English paper claimed that Biden’s Green New Deal would involve Americans massively cutting back on their beef consumption. And this wasn’t just passed on by people on the fringe; governors, politicians, and Fox News ran with it. No, Biden is not planning to nor has he proposed any changes in America’s dietary habits. Like Obama’s “death panels,” they are spreading outrage over something that isn’t real. Twilight Zone politics?

On the plus side, they are passing laws to protect people’s rights. The Right to Crash Cars Into People for example. Republicans are falling all over themselves passing laws that are essentially encouraging people to drive their cars into protestors. How is this helping? Isn’t driving a car into a crowd terrorism? Scary on the face of it, and scary because it certainly seems to imply to me that they see people practising their right to protest as somehow the enemy? As in the meme above states, make it make sense.

According to the good doctor Political Polarization is Exaggerated. I certainly can’t argue with him, most people are just people. And most people are pretty decent. I go by the 10-10 rule, I’ve also heard it as the 15-15 rule. Basically ten percent of people are really good people, the people that hid their Jewish neighbors during the holocaust good. Another ten percent are bad people, the people that helped round up and murder their Jewish neighbors. And 80% of people will pretty much go whichever way the wind blows. With good leaders they will be good people. With bad leaders, well, they will go along with bad things.

And right freaking now, the GOP’s leaders are scaring me. So I’ll keep blogging about them. The Biden administration is boring. “Watch me move the Dems even more to the right while pretending to be a progressive!” Who could possibly have predicted Obama’s VP would take the Dems to the right? Yes, that was indeed a rhetorical question.

Winter might finally be over in Iowa. Fingers crossed. In 1947 they got ten inches of snow in late May. In the late 1800s two Iowa counties got a hailstorm so bad drifts were six feet deep. All the birds and rabbits etc were killed. Sheesh. Well, as global warming continues (it’s no more a hoax than Covid is a hoax) we will get to see more extreme weather events. It’s not hopeless, but it’s now or never. As the article points out, the trope that green power will ruin the economy is what the old folks called a lie. Doing nothing about global warming willdevastate the economy, but hey, the most profitable industry the world has ever known will continue to profit! Well, it’s a tossup as to whether fossil fuels or war profiteering is the most profitable industry ever, but neither of them are helping.

And boy, dating sites in the US are really weird now. I’ve been investigating. A huge number of, well, sex workers. Cute young woman posting T&A shots with suggestive profiles. Whatevs. A lot of foreign women posting, I’m guessing they are looking for a ticket to America? (And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) Then there’s the ones who are pretending to be Americans, but obviously aren’t. Obviously they aren’t because there’s mistakes in their profile, and more on point, their English is fractured. Fractured as in “No one whose first language was English would ever construct that sentence.” And they seem to really want to get cell numbers and emails. Neither has any beyond minuscule value, so I’m puzzled about what that’s about.

Have a great week everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. A tweet, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 26, 2021 at 8:25 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Well, I have about a dozen stories that might make a blog post if padded, but I hate that. So I’ll just dive right in and see how many I can fit in one blog. First off, the good doctor is on point today. I used to be anti-GMO and pro organic, but I have since realised these are basically ideological positions, not science based ones. There certainly are many problems with modern industrial farming, CAFOs in particular are an ecological blight. The solutions are complicated though:  EU Scientists – Organic Farming Less Sustainable.

As  an aside, I notice that while left leaning folks have no trouble understanding that there are all sorts of religious organizations, think tanks, groups etc. who are promoting pseudoscience and nonsense in support of their ideology/religion (or simply out of greed) many leftists don’t seem to understand there are plenty of left leaning organizations doing exactly the same thing. Ecowatch leaps to mind, but there are plenty of others. Selling snake oil is as old as civilization and utterly indifferent to politics and ideology. Reason and science are required to figure out reality, not pseudoscience and bad logic. That’s what people will come up with though if one points out for example that glyphosate is a remarkably safe herbicide that is harmless to animals. Nope, glyphosate bad, Monsanto bad, end of discussion. Sorry not sorry: Glyphosate and Behavioral Economics. Convince me otherwise.

Oh well, I just lost another friend or two no doubt? What else is in the news: Research shows the need to address the root cause of far-right extremism. Basically they determined that sexism and misogyny is a big part of the foundation of far right extremism. Makes sense to me, I’ve been saying that sexism is the root of all the other isms for decades. Once one has decided that half the human race isn’t really human because of their genitals, an idea so stupid it hurts the head to think about, why it’s easy to think the same about any other group of people based on superficial characteristics like skin color, national origin, etc. Sadly I don’t see this misconception changing in the west anytime soon because the Abrahamaaic religions are founded and based almost entirely on the idea of male superiority.

Speaking of genitals and civilization: Another gender reveal party explosion, at least no one was hurt this time: Explosive gender reveal party shakes houses miles away. Yes, there have been deaths. Frankly, the whole concept of gender reveal parties strikes me as somewhere between absurd and downright creepy. I mean, having a party to celebrate what genitals a fetus has? Really? Why would anyone care, what genitals a kid has reveals exactly zero about them. Frankly this whole obsession with other people’s genitals strikes me as disturbed. Who looks at a married  couple and wonders if they have the “right” genitals? Who goes into a bathroom and worries that someone in a stall has the “wrong” genitals? A lot of Republicans apparently.  (I’ve wondered if GOP stands for “Genitals, Other Peoples’.”) Another reason the aliens lock their doors when they fly by Earth.

The Trumpers’ election loss meltdown/fantasy continues: ‘It’s almost like insanity’: GOP base continues to lash out over Trump’s defeat. I’m pretty sure that fervently believing something for which there is zero evidence for, and tons of evidence against, is insane on some level. I have no problem with the GOP tearing itself apart at Trump’s bequest. Hell, voting for people who are pretty much insane seems to be the future of the GOP: QAnon Candidates Are Winning Local Elections. Can They Be Stopped? Why stop them, give them all the rope they want.

In the same vein (GOP fantasies,) there’s this: As economy spikes, Republicans are still waiting for the ‘Biden depression’ that Trump predicted. Turns out that Trump’s claims that the economy was going to crash if Biden was elected were, well, bullshit. Who would ever have guessed? And a final bizarre Trump fantasy: Trump administration thought they’d be memorialized in statues for doing such a great job negotiating with China. In some ways this is one of the weirdest things about Trump and his cult, they actually think he was a fantastic president. I’m sorry, at best Trump was an unremarkable president up until Covid, and his response to Covid was catastrophically hundreds of thousands of dead Americans incompetant.

And Trump’s Covid misinformation legacy lives on, because of vaccine resistance invigorated by Trump’s downplaying of the virus, it looks like herd immunity for the US won’t happen: Thanks to Republican Anti-Vaxxers, the U.S. May Never Reach COVID-19 Herd Immunity. Sorry Mr Trump and followers, but being the world’s largest driver of Covid misinformation doesn’t get Mr Trump any statues.

Lastly, so many police shootings of coloured folk. America has a problem here, and until we acknowledge that, we can’t fix it. There’s nothing wrong with police, or the concept of police, but police culture in the US needs to be reformed … and we need to stop using police in situations where other professionals would be better utilized. In any event, here’s a police training event where police are taught that not only is killing people no big deal, they’ll have great sex afterwards.

I have a hard time seeing this as a good thing. Police should be trying to save lives, not get off on taking them. Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. A tweet, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 23, 2021 at 7:12 pm