Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

MYSTERY PHOTO, THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN 2021, PERFORMATIVE PROGRESSIVISM, MASKS WORK, MARS PHOTOS, AND NONCONTRAFREELOADING CATS

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Yes, covering a lot of bases in this post. Leading off with a mystery photo, what the hell is going on here? I’ll leave for the gentle reader to ponder, answer at the end of the post. What a week it’s been. The situation in Afghanistan is ugly, no doubt about it. Not sure I can add anything new, so enough of that for now. As is so often my format, a few interesting links I’ve stumbled onto, and my observations about them.

Well, OK, maybe something peripheral about Afghanistan, this link: As Joe Biden walks America away from the world stage Europe is left exposed. I offer this article because it is a great example of the colonial bias that infects the mainstream media. The implicit idea that somehow running the world is America and its allies’ business. The modern version of “The White Man’s Burden.” Truth be told it would be harder to find a part of the world with as little strategic importance to the west as Afghanistan, America’s withdrawal from it is about as strategically unimportant as it gets. The only real mystery is why the USA under the aegis of Nato stayed there as long as they did, the weird pronouncements in the article about how Europe was somehow affected by America’s withdrawal notwithstanding.

In American politics: California recall looks like a disaster — and the state’s top Democrats paved the way. Yes, the GOP might well win the recall election they instigated in California. Why, isn’t California a mostly Democratic progressive state? Yes, yes it is. However, the government of California, like the Biden administration, isn’t really progressive, all they have is performative progressivism. IE they talk the talk, but when it comes to getting progressive policies established, they sell out to their corporate masters every time. Great way to inspire Democratic voters to stay home.

Granted, the GOP is into performative Christianity and performative conservatism in the same fashion, but they have been vastly better at stoking the outrage that drives Republican voters to vote. (I mean they kind of have too, they don’t actually stand for anything anymore, so fearmongering and stoking outrage is all the GOP has.) And science is really starting to get a handle on how social media amplifies outrage without even trying: Social Media Outrage | NeuroLogica Blog. So no surprise here. Trump is in fact particularly good at stoking outrage, in social media and off. I mean he stoked outrage to the point where he got a mob to storm the Capitol, gotta give the man his props, when it comes to fear mongering Trump is in a league of his own. Well, maybe shared with another world leader who was a master at stoking outrage, but he left the world stage some 76 years ago.

In Covid news just another reminder that despite all the flaming BS in some quarters, masks do indeed work. As the good doctor puts it: “It is nothing less than shameful that we are still bogged down in the basic question of whether or not wearing a mask during a deadly and increasingly infectious pandemic is effective. The science is in – masks work.” Here is the article: Masks Work | NeuroLogica Blog. The doctor is far more diplomatic than me. There’s governors and legislatures and such actually outlawing mask mandates, because freedumb? Covid has really fucked up public discourse: Seven Cognitive Distortions Poisoning COVID Debates

— Our society is more and more incapable of debating real issues.

Sigh, OK, a few science links to cleanse the palate. The next link is primarily of interest to science nerds and especially Mars nerds, it’s still amazing to me that when I was a kid all we knew about Mars was a few fuzzy telescope pictures, and now we have robots galore exploring it: See some of the most intriguing photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover so far. And cats, breakthroughs in cat science are always exciting. Turns out cats are the only known animal so far that doesn’t exhibit contrafreeloading.

Wait, what’s contrafreeloading? Well, say an animal is given a choice between freely available food, and food they have to do something to get. This was first tried on rats, a colony of rats had a choice between a bowl of food, or identical food they had to push a lever to get. Most of the time the rats went for the food where they had to push a lever to get. And follow up studies found this in every animal they tested, the animals had a preference for food that they had to do something to obtain. Wild animals, domestic animals, they all exhibited this behaviour, which was labeled contrafreeloading. And frankly, scientists still don’t know why animals have this preference, it seems counterintuitive, why not go for the easy food?

And to make the situation even more confusing, exactly one animal doesn’t exhibit this behavior, our beloved moggies: Cute Experiment Reveals How Your Cat Probably Wants Its Meals Served. Obviously since science can’t explain contrafeeloading, they are pretty much at a loss to explain why cats don’t exhibit this behavior. They’re pretty sure it’s not because cats are simply lazy, though one can be forgiven for thinking that. My theory is they’re just smarter than other animals, but I think that of cats no matter what. Cat science marches on.

So, the mystery pic. A man holding a bird outside a tank, yes, that’s a World War One tank. Fast food delivery? Peace offering? Some demented tanker’s idea of a joke? Nope, that’s a carrier pigeon. The interior of the first tanks were so noisy that the crew inside had to communicate using hand signals with each other. And since it was so noisy, radios couldn’t be used to communicate with the outside world. Yet the tank still needed to be able to communicate with HQ. The solution? Each tank carried two carrier pigeons, and there was indeed a special hatch for releasing them. Carrier pigeons were widely used in World War One, and interestingly enough, one such message was discovered recently in France.

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay safe and cool. Looks like the hurricane is going to miss New York, maybe I’ll publish a bonus post this weekend.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One tank and carrier pigeon. Credit: Unknown, but Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

TAHLEQUAH AND THE STATE OF THE UNION

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Here I am in beautiful Tahlequah Oklahoma. This is the gravesite of Mr Ed of 1960s TV fame. He was a horse of course. His real name was Bamboo Harvester. I think horse names are drawn from a hat, but to all his fans he will be forever Mr Ed. His grave is in a back yard, and not well kept up, but at least someone left flowers. And he is surrounded by woods, meadows, songbirds, and wildflowers. A pretty nice place to spend eternity. And it’s possible I may spend a big chunk of my remaining living eternity around here myself.

So I am on vacation. I had to flee Iowa. Drove to Oregon, was underwhelmed by the town I arrived at. Drove to Tahlequah, like what I see, and will be here for a few more days seeing the sites. Soon I will visit the only Civil War battle site where whites were in the minority on both sides! Tahlequah is where the Cherokee were brought to after the Trail of Tears, and it’s been the heart of the Cherokee nation since then. Lovely country. Lovely cats.

This is Luna. First time in 20 years a cat has bonded with me. Follows me around. Waits for me at the door. Suffers from CLS as one can tell from the picture. That’s a common but little known feline ailment: Collapsible Leg Syndrome. There is no known cure, but fortunately there is a highly effective treatment: Vigorously rub the belly. Luna obviously wants me to stick around. That may have been her mom’s plan all along. Invite me to Oklahoma, where I will fall in love with the beautiful country and her cats and stay forever. Her plan may work, especially since mom is the cat’s pajamas herself.

In world news:

How’s that for a segue? Times are not good: MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule. That’s the big picture. Lots of little just-as-ugly pictures. The “stop the Steal” insanity continues in the US. Hearings have started on the January 6th insurrection. The GOP (with a few rational exceptions) is trying to pretend it was just a boisterous but peaceful protest. And that it was the Democrats’ fault. All codswaddle.

Speaking of codswaddle, Mike Lindell continues to claim that on August 13th Biden and Harris will resign after Lindell presents his proof of the election steal. Apparently unaware that if Biden and Harris did resign (please, please Trump supporters, do hold your breath,) Nancy Pelosi would be sworn in as president, not Trump. Yeah, I have a hard time with people who still support Trump. His lies about winning the election are just that, lies. And the January 6th insurrection was a treasonous Trump incited attempt to overturn a free and fair election. Trump is the only president in modern times never to even hit a 50% approval rating, he was a terribly unpopular president, and it’s no surprise he lost the election. His hordes of still loyal followers are misguided, sorry my fellow Trump loving Americans, your boy is lying to you.

But no, I don’t want right wingers destroyed, I just want them to have universal health care, a living wage, affordable college education, and bodily autonomy. What a monster I am for thinking Americans deserve as good a deal as the residents of the rest of the developed world. Yes, we’d have to cut our beyond bloated war budget and raise taxes on the rich, but neither would be a problem for America.

One last meme:

I agree, sums it up nicely. Real faith respects all life, political or performative faith kills to get votes. Pretty sure God appreciates the guys on the left, not the God poser on the right.

Stay safe and cool everyone. “Satan called, he wants his weather bacK” pretty much sums it up. #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Images: Top and second: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Bottom two, found on Facebook, attribution in images, shared without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 28, 2021 at 8:26 am

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

FIRST CAT PHOTOGRAPHED, NEW FIRST CAT IN THE WHITE HOUSE COMING SOON

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The Bidens have announced that they plan to bring a cat to the White House, this will be the first First Cat since Bush’s family cat “Willie.” Lincoln was the first president to bring cats to the White House, he was apparently quite a cat person. He enjoyed playing with them to relieve stress. No pictures though. He was reported to have fed one of the cats while at a state dinner. One of the perks about being president, one gets a lot of leeway in the little things.

I’m always a little nonplussed by people who don’t like cats, or dogs for that matter. It’s like people who don’t like children, children/cats/dogs are an integral part of being human; indifference I can understand, but disliking? I dunno, feels like there’s some self loathing there. Wait, am I comparing cats and dogs to children? Well, sort of. Unlike all our other domestic animals, cats and dogs have a far more egalitarian relationship with humans. Other domesticated species, horses, sheep, chickens, cows, etc are kept for meat or slave labor, sometimes both. It may be good for their species, some domestic animals are extinct in the wild, but for the individual, not so good.

Cats and dogs however pretty much live with humans in mutually beneficial relationships. In some ways it’s more like mutual domestication, they domesticated us in some ways. Last I heard dogs were the first domestic animals, not surprising, having some big friendlyish dogs hanging around your camp or cave at night defending it from intruders, it must have been like a gift from the Gods. The movie Alpha is a fictional but entertaining take on the topic, though I hate the trailer.

On the other hand cats  were the last of the common domesticated animals that were domesticated. In or very near Egypt around 4,000 years ago. Last time I checked, the best scientific guess is that a North African Wildcat, think a huge domestic tabby cat, was born with three mutations that made it non aggressive towards humans. It moved into a granary in an Egyptian city, devoured mice and rats left and right, purred when petted; and the rest, shall we say, is history. And from Egypt, the world. There are sales writings in Pompei extolling the virtues of cats vs ferrets. “Won’t run away if the door is left open, doesn’t bite the kids!”

So yes.  Cats are the only obligate carnivore ever domesticated, and the only non pack/herd animal ever domesticated. They still pretty much have their original DNA, unlike all other domestic animals. That’s because pretty early on we selectively bred the others to improve this and the other thing. Cats, they did their job just fine the way they were, no need to fix anything. The modern breeds of cat are a very recent development historically, most cats are still pretty much genetically the same as their Egyptian forebears.

The image above is the first known photograph of a cat, a daguerreotype from the mid 1840s. Other pics are often touted as the first, no, this above is it. Photography first started in 1839/40. So it’s just barely possible that someone alive today knew someone who knew this cat. IE there might be someone in their late nineties who as a kid met someone that knew this cat. So gentle raiders, get your late nineties friends to view the picture and see if it jogs any memories. If one of them remembers hearing this cat’s name as a child from a really old person, post it in the comments! It will be the greatest internet sleuthing hit of our age. Fame and fortune will surely follow!

Joking (sort of) aside, there are a few people alive today who as children met people who remembered the 1840s. History is closer than we think. So is eternity I suppose. God bless everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Mid 1840s daguerreotype of a cat, credit unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 28, 2020 at 9:02 pm

Posted in 2020, Biden, Cats, History

SURRENDERING TO COVID-19 IS A BAD IDEA MR TRUMP

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I’m suffering from what I hope is food poisoning tonight, so this might be short. But like Lou Gehrig and his consecutive game record (not broken for 56 years,) I’m going to post daily till the new president is sworn in. No matter what it takes. Granted I think my chances of stretching it out as long as Mr Gehrig’s record (2130 consecutive games played) is remote. It would take almost six years to blog 2130 consecutive days. We’ll see, if Trump gets resworn in (note I didn’t say reelected) maybe I will shoot for daily blogging until Trump leaves office. It’s good to have a purpose in life. I tried having a porpoise in my life, but that didn’t work out. It was awkward, we couldn’t use the bathtub cause he pretty much filled it up.

I digress. The Trump administration is once again pushing the idea of “herd immunity” by letting Covid-19 spread through the younger population while protecting the elder and vulnerable. In English this translates to Roosevelt saying “It’s OK if Japan and Germany invade the US, I’m sure we can protect the old and vulnerable.” Literally that batshit crazy. It’s basically saying “We’re not going to fight Covid-19, and we don’t care how many people that kills.” We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dead Americans, several million is not out of the question. And a similar if not greater number of Americans with long term or permanent health damage from Covid-19. And craziest of all, there’s uttery no reason to believe this strategy will work. We’re pretty sure at this point that getting Covid-19 makes you immune for a while, but there are plenty of diseases where acquired immunity is relatively short term. There’s every reason to believe Covid-19 is one of those, I don’t think any coronavirus causes lifelong immunity.

The claim will be made no doubt that this will buy us time for a vaccine. Yeah, human wave attacks will slow down an advancing enemy, but maybe alternatives should be considered? Surrender and mass sacrifice shouldn’t be the first choice, it’s the last choice. And there’s absolutely no knowing when a vaccine will be available either, nor how effective it will be. Most people still aren’t grasping that Covid-19 ain’t no freaking flu. It’s far more contagious and far more dangerous and there’s no reason to believe it’s going anywhere. We are going to have to learn to live with Covid-19. Pretending it’s no big deal is not learning to live with it, that’s living in a fantasy world. The rest of the planet is fighting Covid-19, not ignoring it.

I just had an epiphany. America, despite it’s fantasies about being an advanced free modern country, is actually one of the most conformist traditionalist societies on Earth. Especially among developed countries. We’re one of only three countries on the planet who hasn’t switched to the metric system for God’s sake, and the other two are tiny. Costing us billions a year and a few lives, but hey, if a system of weights and measures based on the length of the King’s nose was good enough for grandpappy, it’s good enough for me. American society is stunningly resistant to change. You know what they call gay marriage in Canada and in most of the developed world now? Marriage. That wasn’t hard. Except in America.

So Americans are especially resistant to change. And that’s a big part of Trump’s appeal, and why Covid-19 is kicking our collective ass. He promises a return to the heteronormative white world of the 1950’s, where drape color was all wives had to worry about. Trump and his supporters want everyone who doesn’t agree back in the closet. (Or worse.) The post Covid-19 world is going to require rethinking how we do everything, and that’s anathema to many Americans. So no wonder “Covid-19 is no big deal, let’s get back to normal” has tremendous appeal for many Americans.

Not gonna happen, Covid-19 and Trump’s surrender to it are real, despite what he says. It’s in fact worse than reported, but again, most Americans don’t want to hear that. The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed far more lives than reported, study says.Not even debatable. The daily death rate from all causes in the USA is very consistent. And it’s taken a big jump this year, and Covid-19 is the only possible cause. Made much worse by Trump’s failure to take effective national action against it.

Oh well. The election from hell (to hell?) gets nearer every day. I will stay up that night and watch. Last time I only knew Trump was elected because my housemate started screaming during the night. This election, hell, alien invasion or zombies are not out of the question, worth staying up for. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes, shares appreciated.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, made this ailurophile laugh. Attribution unknown, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law!)

Written by unitedcats

October 13, 2020 at 8:22 pm

DEBATE HANGOVER, COPYCATS, WINDY APPLES, AND CANCER

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Debate hangover. It really was a mess. As the Babylon Bee put it: Broadcast Signal Accidentally Picks Up Two Old Men Yelling At Each Other Instead Of Presidential Debate. Some wag tweeted: “I thought this debate was going to be moderated?” I can see Trump’s visceral appeal though, and he got in some licks. The problem is that much of what he said simply wasn’t true. The insulin is as cheap as water for example. Trump Took Credit for Making Insulin “So Cheap It’s Like Water.” Tell That to People Paying for It. His point blank refusal to denounce white supremacy didn’t go over well, apparently Trump did a bit of backpedaling on that today. 

His claim he’s doing a great job on Covid is so false it’s one for the textbooks. No, he didn’t save millions of Lives, his Covid-19 gestures and promises did essentially nothing, 200,000 dead with no end in sight. He’s like a broken record,Trump just keeps claiming Covid-19 is going to magically go away, and handling the crisis of our lifetimes as if it’s some minor politicised event that we just need to get over. No one Trump knows has died, guessing him and Herman Cain weren’t good buddies. While we’re on the topic, herd immunity ain’t happening soon: COVID – Not Close to Herd Immunity. I think Biden could of done a lot better job hammering  Trump on this point.

Oh, yes, they managed to talk about Trump getting his SCOTUS justice seated right away … without mentioning that four years ago the GOP had high and mightily refused to seat a new Justice until “the people spoke” in the upcoming election. I was surprised Biden let this go by unremarked.

So, I could add more about debate, taxes, etc. I don’t think I have any trenchant commentary though, and there’s plenty out there to choose from. So, some science fun. Cats. Cat cognition even: Kitty see, kitty do: cat imitates human, in first scientific demonstration of behavior. Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that a cat can imitate what a human does. I’m sure plenty of cat owners are quite sure cats can imitate people, but anecdotes aren’t science. 

Fascinating because cats don’t pass the mirror test, they don’t possess “theory of mind.” So they aren’t consciously imitating humans. If true means their mirror neurons come into play with humans, which was already pretty clear I guess. I’ve heard it stated that cats don’t think they’re people, they think we are big cats. A lot of fascinating work has been done on animal cognition in recent decades, animal consciousness is far more complex than was once thought. And yet still, no matter how sophisticated and clever animals are, they can’t put their thoughts into words. Communicate, yes, speak, no. 

Probably for the best. I’m pretty sure sharks would have something to say about this: Coronavirus Vaccine Could Result in 500,000 Shark Deaths. Though I suppose they could communicate their displeasure without words. Basically one of the most promising vaccines requires a substance harvested from sharks. Humans are a freakishly ghoulish species when it comes right down to it; again, not surprised the aliens won’t have truck with us. 

On a personal note, I’m in a fancy hotel enjoying room service for the first time in my life. And it wasn’t even on my bucket list. Is this how the 1% live, they can have beer and burgers sent to their room at any time of the day or night? Maybe I should reconsider my vow of poverty. Anyhow, I’m far from home in ‘The Windy Apple,’ visiting Iowa’s answer to the Mayo Clinic. I get to see the Dr House of cancer tomorrow. Woohoo, I might get a new cancer named after me! Hell, there’s even possible immortality options here

Oh, the meme above made me laugh, it’s multilayered. And the implied reason for posting it is the fact that dinosaurs aren’t the only parties getting credit for administrative skills they don’t possess. And maybe come November said parties will be on their way to extinction and we’ll shortly get people who can administrate. I agree that was a tortured thought train.  I know my writing isn’t for everyone, but I also know I have my fans. It’s why I’m not sleeping in my car tonight, they are appreciated.

Stay safe everyone, shares, comments, likes appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Tweet found on Facebook, attribution in tweet, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm

WINTER IS COMING: WHY THE STATUES MATTER AND WHY TRUMP IS ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY (AND MORE COVID-19 NEWS.)

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Election four months away. Anything could happen. Winter is coming. Trump and company are still basically trying to claim Covid-19 is no big deal, even going so far as to claim the CDC and everyone else is lying about it to make Trump look bad. No Mr Trump, they’re just trying to do their job. And an accusation like that could only have come from someone who habitually lies about everything. So far Trump’s lies about how great his fight against Covid-19 is going aren’t actually helping get Covid-19 under control, so he’s fallen back on claiming everyone who disagrees with his lies is lying. Disturbed preschooler crap basically. Granted Covidiocy is not limited to America. As I am increasingly fond of saying these days, humans aren’t really an intelligent species.

Trump did wear a mask for the first time in public. Good for him is my first reaction, this will encourage mask compliance, fewer people will die. Maybe he’s had an epiphany, and has realized if he listens to the experts he can still get the country, and his fortunes, out of the nosedive they are in. Snort. Don’t hold one’s breath gentle reader. I think the plan is to just throw waves of victims at Covid-19 until we win? First we sacrificed the elderly and the sick. Health care workers. Meat plant workers. Fast food workers. Now Trump’s plan is to send in children and teachers. OK then.

So some late breaking bad news. Basically looking like herd immunity isn’t very likely. Basically because looking like Covid-19 immunity doesn’t last very long. Herd immunity is something only achieved with a vaccine anyhow. Letting a disease spread through the  population to achieve herd immunity is like letting one’s house burn down to make it fireproof. That’s what we’re doing though. Crazy times.

Topic change. Let’s review the statues. (Are they even in the news anymore?) We have all sorts of statues glorifying, get this, Confederate personages. People who took up arms against the United States because they wanted to preserve the institution of chattel slavery. This is slavery where the slaves are the same as cattle, and bought and sold and bred as such. Where human beings are property because of the accident of their birth. This isn’t debatable, every single state when it seceded and joined the Confederacy stated that preserving the institution of slavery was why they were rebelling against America.

So wait, the Confederates were traitors? Yes. Criminals? Yes. Monsters? Some of them. The point is that their cause was not just, the Confederacy is one of the (if not the) greatest blemishes on the American ideal of one nation for all. There’s absolutely no reason their “heroes” should be accorded public monuments, it’s not only an affront to the people they killed and victimized, it’s an affront to the actual heroes who fought to put down their revolt. Flying a Confederate flag is no different than flying a Nazi flag. One is flying the flag of an enemy of the US, a defeated enemy at that. Convince me otherwise.

Moving along, the historical evidence is overwhelming. In any complex civilization the end finally comes when the ruling class due to corruption and human cognitive failings becomes detached from reality. While climate change and ecocide were sure to kill us, Covid-19 has compressed the timeline so to speak. America is collapsing because our leaders live in a fantasy world, will America’s failing bring the world down with it? Damned if I know, but the world Americans grew up in is dead. I’m all for tearing down statues of traitors and moving forward, can’t hurt.

And last a bit of context. Some morbid calculations. In absolute numbers Covid-19 is the 4th worst mass death event in US history, surpassed only by WW2, the Civil War, and the 1918 pandemic. In relative numbers, Covid-19 is probably tied for fourth with Korea and Vietnam, but pulling away. So to get to number three, topping 675,000 would be the absolute number. In relative numbers it would have to top 2 million. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as the 1918 flu.138,000 and counting as I write.

So yeah, been preparing myself mentally for something like Covid-19 all my life. As my friend Steve said to me once, “You freak out about the world ending every spring Doug.” He was more or less right. This time, not freaking out, the world I grew up in is dying. I just never expected that the US government and a third of Americans  would pretend it was all a hoax and try to BS their way out of it.

Stay safe and stay sane everyone. I did get started on the book today. My swan song. Comments, likes, shares appreciate. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A cat with a mouse in its jaws, a public domain Snappygoat pic. I thought about making a meme of it. Trump is the mouse, the cat is Covid-19. Maybe I will. OK. I did. Oddly enough, now that Trump has tens of thousands of preventable deaths on his hands, I see no reason to respect him no matter his office.)

Written by unitedcats

July 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

‘THIS ISLAND EARTH’ AND THE FICKLENESS OF FAME

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I just watched “This Island Earth,” a 1955 Science fiction movie. I never saw it before, or if I did, it was in my youth and I completely forgot it. Nothing in it twigged the “Wait, I’ve seen this before” reaction. It’s free to watch on Youtube, spoilers ahead in case one wants to watch the movie first.

The movie was interesting on multiple layers. It was about a studly handsome scientist (he can fly a jet plane!) who is abducted by aliens to participate in a research project the aliens are running in a last ditch attempt to save their homeworld from evil aliens. Lots of adventure, the aliens do bad things to humans in their project, the scientist and his cute co-scientist love interest visit the alien world, but it’s too late to help, and they are able to escape back to Earth.

A thinking movie for its day, and some of the questions it explores are still unresolved. How much collateral damage is acceptable if one’s cause is just? Would it be OK to sacrifice one person to save the life of everyone on Earth? Most of us would say yes I am guessing. How about if one could sacrifice everyone on Earth to save one’s own life? Is that OK? Most of us would say no I suspect.  Where is the boundary between the two extremes? Beats me, I hope I never have to decide.

The special effects were cutting edge for the time. Which means means hoakier than 1960s Star Trek, but still impressive for 1955. I tried to imagine I was watching it in a movie theatre from a 1950s perspective, and it was pretty cool. One could see how a lot of the special effects were harbingers of effects to come. And this was when one was still expected to use one’s imagination to fill in the details. It was a play put to film so to speak, hyper realism not required.

The movie was lily white of course, as was all of America in the 1950s. Snort. At least the racism was invisible, black people didn’t exist in this world, see, no racism ma! Casual sexism and misogyny, yes, that was there. Just peppered throughout the movie, a sign of the times. And yes, the men all wore suits and the women dresses.

The star of the movie was one Rex Reason (1928-2015), this was the peak of his career and what he is most remembered for today. Rex Reason was his real name, and it took him awhile to be able to use it in Hollywood, since it sounded like a screen name. His earlier movies were made under the screen name Bart Roberts. The whole screen name thing is weird. Heard about a guy who had a great sounding real name, but he couldn’t use it as his screen name, because someone else had already used it. OK then.

His co-star, Faith Domergue, was an early “scream queen” in 1950s and 1960s horror/scifi films. This movie for her too was pretty much peak career, afterwards reduced to B-movies and guest appearances on TV. She was discovered at age sixteen by Howard Hughs, and while her career peaked in 1955, she did have a long and varied Hollywood career. She guest starred on Bonanza, I mean, is that cool or what? She passed in 1999, aged 73-74, sources vary.

The other actors in the film were all similar, none are household names, all had modest acting careers, none ever achieved big name status. Such is Hollywood, many play, only a few achieve greatness. As far as I can tell none of the other people involved in the film achieved greatness either. The director had a few other 1950s scifi hits, but that’s about it. A good movie for its time, still remembered by those who appreciate the history of movies, but nothing to write home about.

Still, there is one aspect of this movie that has flown under the radar. One of the minor actors in this movie went on to have a wildly successful Hollywood career, winning Oscar level awards twice. An actor who achieved great success despite a reputation for biting co-stars. None of the other actors in this movie would ever have guessed it, but the goddamn cat in the movie went on to fame and two PATSY awards, the Oscar of Hollywood animal awards. Boy, that must have rankled the cast. Did they get together in bars in later years to badmouth Orangey, for that was the cat’s name. He went on to star with Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while they were reduced to B-movies and guest star appearances on 60s TV shows. Fate and fame are such fickle things.

Hope everyone is rounding out a good holiday weekend. Three days of ‘diet, schmiet’ and now I’m back on starvation rations. Six pounds from my goal, four weeks from Christmas feasting. The race is on.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A mutant alien servant from This Island Earth. Credit: Universal Pictures. I’m assuming that since it’s free to watch on youtube that it’s Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 1, 2019 at 11:34 am

Posted in Cats, Entertainment, Movies

PROOF OF GOD?

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Some people put a lot of stock in proving or disproving the existence of God. Atheists in particular seem gung ho on the topic. It’s a fascinating debate from a number of perspectives. I guess. I have no pigeon in this race or whatever that idiom is. I’m an ignostic Episcopalian. Ignostic means I have never heard a definition of the word ‘God’ that made sense, ‘God’ makes no more sense than ‘Fod.’ It’s a magic ritual word. I’m Episcopalian for personal reasons, I don’t actually see any evidence for supernatural agency in the Universe.

And I don’t care what other people believe in, as long as they don’t scare the horses. By that I mean I’m all for freedom of religion, I think people should be free to practice any faith they want. However, and it’s a big however, I don’t want laws or social policy based on any faith. I don’t care what someone else believes, but I don’t want their beliefs enshrined in public law. Blue Laws are a great example. Someone thinks their business should be closed on Sunday for religious reasons, no problem. Laws prohibiting any business being open on Sunday for religious reasons, no thanks. And that just a really innocuous example, there are much uglier ones.

That being said, here are my three favorite arguments for the existence of God. And by God, I mean some sort of conscious supernatural agency ‘behind the curtain’. Arguments supporting the idea there’s a ghost in the machine, the Universe being the machine. I don’t think there’s any original thinking here, this is just for fun and debate. Thinking aloud. And I suppose, upon reflection, only one of these is an argument God. Two of them are arguments for God … or advanced aliens. Or maybe proof we are  living in an artificial reality, Take your pick.

The first is that we have free will. Can I prove I have free will? No. It just appears to be the case. And it looks like everyone else does too. That means humans have agency. If we are more than just machines, it implies the Universe is more than just a machine. By some schools of thought, it means the Universe has agency. Yes, I know, this is just a variation on First Cause arguments, or a fancy way of saying the Universe exists, therefore God. It’s not a compelling argument, but it’s not wrong. And I can see why many people find such arguments compelling. In any event, this is the weakest of my arguments. Or the hardest one to put into words. Those often go together. (Good save Doug.)

Secondly, the evolution of language. I don’t know how Ken Hovind missed this one. Or maybe he didn’t, I don’t spend a lot of time in ‘Answers in Genesis.’ Language appears to have only evolved once in Earth’s history, but according to our current understanding of how evolution works, it should never have evolved. This is because of lying, it’s easy to lie using language, so organisms that ignored language should have been selected for. Well, that’s my simplistic take on the problem of deception. That aside, the fact that exactly one of the countless billions of species of animals has evolved into a language using animal. What are the odds?

My last argument is the clincher. Cats. They are simply too perfect. Perfect size, temperament, utility. I mean they live in our homes and protect us from rodents, humanity’s worst enemies. And bury their scat, I’ve had employees who had trouble with that one. And on top of that they are adorable cuddly little scrunch muffins. Like tribbles but actually useful. I mean, honestly, what are the odds something like that just happened to evolve? And scientists know it took three simultaneous mutations to make cats non aggressive towards humans. Just for starters. It’s exactly as if trees grew packs of cigarettes and beers.

I rest my case. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Just look at that. Look at it! Credit: Copyright © 2017 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

October 4, 2019 at 5:35 am

Posted in Cats, Religion

RANDOM RAMBLINGS PLUS AN INTERSTELLAR VISITOR

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This was an interesting week. Got kinda bad news from a few old friends. The good thing about growing old is you’re still alive. The bad thing is that the older one gets, the fewer of your friends and loved ones will be alive. Pretty safe to say that if you make it from 60 to 80, the large majority of your contemporary and older friends and acquaintances will be dead. A mixed blessing at best. You’ll get to eat more of your own birthday cake, but get fewer presents. Still, at this point it’s too late to die young and be a horrible warning, so I’m going to press on.

I also realized this week that my upper arm shattering in my fall last Christmas saved my life. It takes a lot of energy to shatter an upper arm bone, I mean the neighbors heard it snap. And I slammed into that wall with my shoulder, head, and neck, the arm bone breaking acted as a crumple zone. If it hadn’t broken the energy would have gone into my head and neck, where broken bones are a much more serious concern. Limbs are useful for something besides walking and pouring coffee, who knew?

Speaking of coffee, I realized this week, that despite drinking three or four cups of coffee a day for decades … I don’t really like coffee. Bad coffee, good coffee, all equally unappealing. I was essentially drinking out of habit. How did I come to this realization? Six weeks ago I started counting calories, and one thing I did was cut back to one cup of coffee a day. (With sugar and cream a cup of coffee is north of fifty calories.) Tuesday, after receiving bad news, I decided to say “eff it” to the diet for one day. I went and got myself a turkey/bacon sub with fries, it was delicious. And then I thought, “I’ll make myself a pot of coffee!” Followed by “Wait, I don’t feel like having coffee, I’d rather have a diet soda or two.” Live and learn.

I also realized this week that while I like the little rural town I live in, there’s no doubt it’s a comfortable little bubble of white privilege. I have layers of laws, state agencies, and federal agencies protecting me in my essentially gated community. All pretty much invisible to me, all designed to keep “undesirables” in their place. Such has it been for all of America’s history. Granted privileged classes are a problem in many places around the world, but I think America’s history of slavery and Native American genocide reinforced the cultural tendency in some uniquely ugly ways.  I know the word ‘privilege’ really pushes some buttons with some people. Telling someone they are privileged is not a pejorative. Topic for future blog posts no doubt,

On the topic of pushing buttons, I noticed in my travels through conservative cyberspace that OAC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) really pushes some buttons. The mindless hostility expressed towards her is legion. Not even sure what’s she’s saying that’s causing all the ruckus, but I have to assume she is hitting below the waterline. When your rhetoric reduces your political opponents to sputtering mindless rage, you’re doing something right. Alas mindless outrage seems to be the style these days in American politics, and it’s certainly not limited to conservatives. I just wish people would get outraged about things that matter. And while I’m at it I wish I had a pony.

OK, I don’t really want a pony. If given one, I suppose I could sell or eat it. In late breaking news, our Solar System is getting another visitor! A few years ago an interstellar asteroid dubbed Oumuamua flew past the Sun. Sadly it was small and already heading for the exit when astronomers spotted it. So the science gleaned was just enough to leave a zillion questions. This time, it’s a comet, dubbed Borisov, and we spotted it on its inbound run! It’s gonna zip past the Sun just beyond Mars’ orbit, which is an incredibly close encounter astronomically speaking. And this puppy is big, 20 km wide or so. I will read up on everything I can find about it on the weekend, Monday’s blog topic!

Puppies, ponies, I think I need a cat. There’s a CLO (cat like object) that lives in my house, but it’s not the same. Have a safe weekend everyone.

PS: Oh yes, gonna start running some ads on wordpress. I need new shoes. They will be as small and unobtrusive as practical.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A pony like animal I photographed in the desert. Badly.  Credit: Doug Stych Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 13, 2019 at 4:31 am