Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘colonialism’ Category

COLONIAL BIAS ILLUSTRATED, SPACE STATIONS, SPACE SUITS, AND ELECTION NEWS OF THE DAY

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A group of stone camel carvings in Saudi Arabia has turned out to be far older than anyone guessed. When scientists first examined them, they were thought to be about 2000 years old. A recent study puts them at 7000-8000 years old: Saudi Arabia camel carvings dated to prehistoric era This makes them about twice as old as Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza. Quite the mystery, at this point there’s no real idea why people went to so much trouble, I mean this took a lot of work to carve these into cliff sides. The camel was domesticated right around the time they were carved, but that still doesn’t lead anywhere except into speculation. More images of them can be seen here: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia

Note that last headline: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia. And in the BBC article linked above it also says these carvings were discovered in a remote area of Saudi Arabia in 2018. In fact, pretty much every link I can find about them repeats the claim that they were discovered in 2018. Then look at the image above. An image that dates from 2018. What’s in the background? Buildings, roads, and a cultivated field in the upper left. So how the hell were they only discovered in 2018? It’s not like they were buried or hidden in some way, they are right there in  plain sight. Obviously lots of people knew about them.

So really, the carvings were discovered by western science in 2018. I know, it may seem like quibbling over semantics, but words matter. They are in fact how our world view is constructed. Saying the carvings were only discovered by the western world, IE white people, in a not so subtle way implies that the brown people living there didn’t matter. It’s the same linguistic trick as saying Columbus discovered the New World, even though people were waiting for him on the beach. And in his day those people didn’t matter, they were simply another resource for Europeans to exploit. An attitude that continued on for centuries, for example the 19th century US Supreme Court ruled that Indians couldn’t own land.

I’m not saying this bias is conscious, but like all sorts of language biases, it’s what people learned growing up. Ageism, sexism, ableism are also woven into our language. Colonialism is no different. And I think learning to spot these sorts of biases can really help one see the world more clearly. At least for those who want to do so. A small minority from my experience. Oh well, enough for today’s self improvement lesson, on to science!

The ISS is nearing the end of its expected lifetime: The Aging ISS | NeuroLogica Blog. About 20-30 years is about it for things in space. Space is an uncompromisingly harsh environment, everywhere on Earth is a gentle paradise in comparison. So does this mean that giant space stations (not to mention the coming space hotels) will have to be rebuilt at fabulous expense every few decades? No, there’s a nifty solution that is almost certainly the wave of the future. Giant space structures will be built out of modules (well, they already are,) but built in such a way that each module is easily replaceable. That way one doesn’t have to rebuild from scratch, one just replaces individual modules. Leads to interesting philosophical situations, like with the USS Constitution. Launched in 1797, it’s the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, still (technically) in service today. However, since it was launched, about 80% of it has been replaced, only 20% is original to 1797. Presumably it will eventually get to 100%, will it still be the same ship? I leave that for the philosophers to debate.

Speaking of new things in space, efforts are being made to design the next generation of space suits. Wait, didn’t we have working space suits in the 1960s, when the astronauts went to the Moon? Yes, yes we did. They were also incredibly clumsy and uncomfortable, and wore out in a few days. And not a whole lot of progress has been made since. It may look easy in Hollywood movies, reality is harder. Just spacesuit gloves for example. They have to be very stiff so they don’t just balloon out and be unusable, but still be moveable. Which means they are stiff and hard to manipulate, so that astronauts fingers will be torn up after a few hours use. Some astronauts even have their fingernails removed before space missions to avoid tearing them off in space suits! They don’t mention that in The Right Stuff. Or maybe they do, I never saw the movie. Anyhow, NASA is on the job:  New Spacesuits | NeuroLogica Blog.

One last quick item in the news. The GOP’s effort to recall California Governor Newsom failed spectacularly. He in fact won by more of a margin than Biden defeated Trump. Interesting indeed because of two things. First, the Governor had enraged pretty much all sensible people by repeatedly violating Covid restrictions he had put in place, hypocrisy on that level has destroyed more than one political career. Secondly, Trump supported the recall! Some are saying this may be the beginning of the end for Trumpism: A clear repudiation: Larry Elder’s mammoth defeat may signal the death rattle of Trumpism. It’s possible. I mean there’s no doubt Trump and his supporters will make utterly unfounded accusations of voter fraud, but maybe it’s becoming clearer to a lot of people that Trump’s endless lies about voter fraud are in fact just that, lies. “We were cheated!” gets old in any context when it’s all the losers have, from sports to politics and everywhere in between.

We’ll see. Fun times in America. Another one or two 9/11 posts are in the works. Hope all are having a good week. Stay safe gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:Camel carvings in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Haaretz? Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, not being used for profit, only image available that illustrates my contention in the post, and Haaretz is paywalled now so I couldn’t even find the attribution. Sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2021 at 5:36 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

BURMA ON MY MIND

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Finally, something to write about other than Trump and his election fraud charade. Burma.  OK, the country is actually called Myanmar now, Burma was the old colonial name given to it during the British occupation. But, but, it was just a colony, occupation sounds so harsh! Um, the Brits shot their way into it, deposed the government, and installed British rule. That’s conquest no matter who’s doing it. The Age of Discovery my ass.

So, an election in Myanmar last November. The head of the military, one Min Aung Hlaing, wanted to be president after he leaves the military in 2021. That means he would need to win a majority in the parliamentary election to become head of state. And since the army gets 25% of parliamentary seats according to the Constitution, he would just need about a third of the vote. However, he started announcing long before the election that he was worried about voter fraud, and maybe the election should be delayed due to Covid. The election was held, Min Aung Hlaing was thoroughly trounced, he then spent the last two months complaining the election was rigged (without providing a shred of evidence,) and now he has seized power and arrested the civilian government.

Change a few words here and there and this could be a certain American ex-president’s fantasy come true. So yes, looks like Myanmar’s 9 year experiment with democracy is over for now. They were a badly run military dictatorship for more than 50 years before a parliamentary republic was established in 2011. Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in Asia, but awash in weapons. Buddhist nation too, that becomes important later. How accurate is the above? IDK, I think it’s a fairly safe appraisal, but I’ve never been to Myanmar and don’t know anyone from there. Biden and the west are all upset, so this isn’t a western backed military coup, those are OK. In fact the coup caught western observers by surprise.

Then there’s the truly ugly Rohingya situation. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass rape, etc. Yes, while Myanmar’s nascent democracy was getting going over the past decade, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, a pro democracy activist who spent more than 15 years under house arrest, the army was simutaneously massacring and ethnic cleansing the Rohingya Muslim minority, already one of the world’s more discriminated against people. They are stateless, imagine, living somewhere for generations, but even though born in Myanmar, they do not have citizenship. So what did Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, ostensibly the president, do or say while the army was carrying out its ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya? Essentially nothing.

OK then. How the hell does one explain this to other human beings, let alone aliens? Well, let’s try. “Earth, a planet ruled by 300 or so armed gangs, divided into multiple factions, constantly warring with each other. All claiming to follow this or that religion or ideology or personality cult, which they use to placate their populations and justify exploiting (or worse) minorities.A weird combination of prehistoric mystical cult thinking crossed with 20th century technological prowess. And a planetary civilization that not only hasn’t been able to channel the energies of those with infinite greed and zero ethics into safe outlets, it worships them.”

Yeah, we’re hosed. I feel for the people of Myanmar, this past weekend they were a nation hopefully entering into a period of western style openness and democracy, now back to a third world dictatorship. I wrote the above Monday, then spent two days being depressed about the state of humanity. 700,000 people driven from their homes, and it’s just another of the endless atrocities humans inflict on each other. There’s about 70 million refugees worldwide now, so essentially one human being in every thousand is a refugee. And we easily have the means to settle these people, modern civilization has almost unimaginable resources. And we use them to build weapons so the rich nations and rich people get ever richer.

Tomorrow, more folly and fallout from the lamest coup attempt in history. Stay safe and warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two British soldiers on patrol in the ruins of the Burmese town of Bahe during the advance on Mandalay. January 1945. Credit: UK government, Public Domain under UK copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2021 at 7:25 pm

BORDERS II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and warm everyone. StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2021 at 8:19 pm

BORDERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 29, 2021 at 9:36 pm

TIMES CHANGE

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2020 was the first time in decades I voted in the presidential election. Pretty safe bet there are millions of others like me. Covid continues to rage out of control, as does the concurrent stupidity epidemic. Saw a meme today that said Covid was no more dangerous than driving to work. I stand corrected, there is a stupider Covid comparison than “It’s just a cold folks!” Science is making great strides on the Covid pandemic, the stupidity pandemic, not so much. Today’s blog, random links!

Trump supporter who gave $2.5m to fight election fraud wants money back. Well, good luck with that, I’m betting the fine print pretty much rules it out. Trump’s doing pretty well at getting donations: Trump raises $200m for post-election legal battles.  Yeah, grifting is what the man does best. I wonder how much my old middle school friend gave him.

Moving right along, I’ve always lived a life of voluntary simplicity. IE in America it’s possible to pile up enormous amounts of stuff without half trying. At least twice in my life I pretty much abandoned everything, and during much of my life my possessions would fit in a car. So I thought this link was interesting: Pathological Consumption Has Become So Normalised That We Scarcely Notice It. Frankly there’s a lot of pathological parts of our culture that have become normalized. I digress. I’ve known a few hoarders, it’s a horrible disability.

I saw this on the BBC, and I’m like, really? China is greatest threat to freedom – US intelligence chief. Weird article. Basically boils down to “China’s acting like a western power, OMG, they’re an existential threat to the west!” Turgid neocom propaganda, just the contemporary iteration of “The White Man’s Burden.”

I’m really starting to see how the whole neocon, right wing, and by extension Trumpian world view is to regard pretty much anything that contradicts the world view as an existential threat. Gets the base riled up and in line, and justifies anything that gets done. And that’s how the US turned into a global military empire kids. First justified by containing those damn commies who want to enslave us all. And then by fear of terrorists who wanted to kill us all. Now we’re just conflating them all together, the left are Commie Terrorists!

In that vein, Trump has ordered US troops out of Somalia. He’s the C in C of the US military, if he orders them to pull out, they have to pull out. Perfectly legal and constitutional order. Any roadblocks Congress or the Pentagon throws up are indeed unconstitutional, the POTUS is the supreme commander of the US military. Is Trump testing the fealty of his generals? One of Trump’s few silver linings is he didn’t buy into the neocon world view, his reasoning may have been suspect, but “Why the fuck are we still in Afghanistan?” doesn’t actually have a good answer. Even Trump figured that one out.

I suspect it’s a semi-random effort to leave a mess for Biden and lock in whatever Trump perceives to be his legacy. It’s also interesting because of the historical links. The US first got involved in Somalia in a big way under another GOP lame duck president. Bush senior intervened there just before Clinton took office. Left Clinton with an ugly mess, culminating in the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Where Somalians demonstrated they hated Americans so much they would take huge casualties to kill them. Of course America had given them good reason to hate us, murdering all their leaders on live Somalian TV. The western media missed that part somehow.

So now a lame duck president is pulling out of Somalia to leave his Democrat successor a mess. Times change, but some things stay the same. American partisan politics may yet be the death of us all. Future historians may never understand how crazy it’s gotten. Stay safe and sane everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #Somalia

PS: Still tripping Heidi! Trump will be talked about for centuries. Fucking weird isn’t it? He’s the Hitler/Napoleon/Nero of our time. Or Mussolini/Anthony/Custer. We are witnessing one of the great times in American history folks, books will be written, movies will be made, pay attention!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

December 4, 2020 at 9:35 pm

SPREAD THE PLAGUE FOR CHRIST!

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behavior

Well, we’re one big step further towards living in an Evangelical Christian Theocracy. The new SCOTUS struck down Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings. It’s claimed as a blow for religious freedom. It’s nothing of the kind. The Constitution protects one’s right to believe as one wants, the government can’t outlaw certain religions. It has nothing to do with people’s behaviour. One can’t act any way one wants, then claim it’s a religious practice. If that was the case sacrificing one’s neighbors to the Gods would be protected. And that’s pretty much what the SCOTUS just did, it said holding Covid-19 superspreader events in the midst of a pandemic was protected as a religious activity.

OK then. Many many people will die because of this ruling, it goes without saying. Sadly many of them won’t even be the people choosing to attend these “Spread the plague in the name of Christ!” events. People will get infected at these events and spread it among the community. All because an organized religion wants to control America. The Evangelicals are not shy about their desire to turn America into a “Christian Nation,” where their interpretation of the bible is the law of the land for all, Evangelical Christian or not. This isn’t religion, this is organized religion; organized religion has a history drenched in blood, and our nation’s founders very much wanted to prevent that here, a nation where government wasn’t in any way run by organized religion. They are spinning in their graves at SCOTUS rulings like this.

Speaking of spreading the plague, today is Thanksgiving in America! Wait, what does that have to do with plague? I’ll get there. I’ve had increasingly mixed feelings about Thanksgiving over the past few years. On the one hand, a fall gathering of loved ones to be thankful for the good fortunes of the summer, sure. People have been holding holidays like that forever. It’s the attachment to the Pilgrims that is problematic. The Pilgrims’ relationship with the natives was hardly as portrayed in the usual Thanksgiving narrative. Moreover the original Thanksgiving Holiday was explicitly celebrating a giant massacre of natives. Yikes. Only in the last century or so was the “feel good” version of Pilgrims and natives promulgated. Read about it all here.

So I’m not celebrating that. I am thankful for my good health, friends, and family. And skol to all celebrating with me in this regard. As for plague connections, two. First off, the arrival of Europeans unleashed terrible epidemics into the new world, tens of millions died, entire native nations were essentially wiped out. And while there is no evidence for Europeans deliberately spreading disease, nonetheless when one’s uninvited “guests” arrive with horrible contagious diseases, it’s nothing to celebrate.

And in contemporary America, where the Covid-19 pandemic is at its worst level ever, an American dying every 37 seconds now, over 2,000 a day … people getting together for Thanksgiving is going to just add gasoline to the fire. Way too many Americans still don’t understand how serious Covid-19 is, thanks to all the leaders and influencers spreading misinformation about it, so as I am typing this a nationwide superspreader event is underway. Jesus wept.

I’m still baffled daily about how we got here, a nation not divided by two ideologies, no, a nation where half of the nation has their own (imaginary) reality. Global warming is real, and caused by human activity. Covid-19 is real, and the worst new infectious disease to come along in a century, if not a millennia. And Donald Trump soundly lost the election. These aren’t debatablebateable, they are established facts. Yet Trump and his followers reject all three and insist their imagined reality is true, despite all evidence to the contrary. A mystery for the ages, here is an interesting take on it: The Rotting of the Republican Mind. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, but at its core, propaganda and advertising are sciences now, and daily more effective as a result.

Science, the thing mostly responsible for all the marvels of the modern world, is powering forces that may well destroy it. It’s one of the lines of argument that makes me wonder if ultimately intelligence such as ours is an evolutionary dead end. I always like ending on a bleak note. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

November 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm

“NEVER LESS ALONE THAN WHEN ALONE.”

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Some celebrated Ginsburg’s death. Mitch McConnell didn’t even wait for her body to cool before announcing the Senate would vote on appointing a Trump appointee to the Supreme Court. The very same guy who when a justice died eight months before the last election … blocked any new appointment until after the election. Hypocrisy runs deep in current American politics. If this shitshow can even be called politics. 

The Supreme Court thing is a horrible distraction from the much more pressing issues at hand, like Covid-19 and the economy. And Trump seems determined to ratchet up pressure on Iran and the whole mess in the Middle East just for snids and giggles. Trump is still promising a return to normal in the near future, and lots of people still think it’s going to. I think they’re fooling themselves, but what do I know? Well, more than many I think. 

The USA went off the rails in 1980, and the debacle that is 2020 is the bill coming due. See above image. Another good look at the corrupt core of the problem here:  The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure. And then for fun QAnon is taking on a life of its own: Friends And Family Members Of QAnon Believers Are Going Through A “Surreal Goddamn Nightmare” 

Speaking of nightmares, more cases of Covid-2 reinfection reported: Catalonia reports four cases of Covid-19 reinfection, with one patient in intensive care. Scattered reports world-wide, still not enough data to come to any conclusions. Not a good sign though. The Cold from Hell is what I dubbed Covid-19 early on, and as accurate as ever. Speaking of surreal, we’re reinforcing our uninvited and illegal forces in Syria, because of “Russian aggression.” Except the Russian troops are in Syria at the express invite of the Syrian government, while America is an illegal invading force. 

As an old acquaintance once said, “America is a land where right is wrong, and wrong is right.” I wonder what they think of today. Just in review, and for new readers, my theory is that the world we all grew up in took a mortal blow in December 2019. Covid-19 was the perfect bullet to crumble the house of cards that the neocolonial exploitation of the world was, especially in America, a land buried in corruption, evangelism, and science denial. The corpse is still stumbling forward but it’s dead; science denial and reality denial only work for so long. The horsemen are arriving, deal with it. Don’t worry, Trump  has a plan, teach America’s children to be good little Trumpsters: Trump calls for ‘patriotic education. That how malignant narcissism works, why, the problem is … they’re not thinking like me! 

Just in, Trump says the SCOTUS nominee will be a woman! Brilliant! Insane! Sexist as hell! Why, as long as the nominee has female genitals, the liberals should be happy! Not the point of feminism, but explaining that to the Rush Limbaugh crowd, well, I’ll keep trying. Here’s hoping it’s Sarah Palin. 

The weird alien sitcom reality show that 2020 Trump’s America is … continues  unabated. Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. I have gone into retreat for a bit, but should be able to keep blogging. God, we’re gonna see some crazy shit between now and January. Pull up a chair, I’ll comment as I am able. Share at will. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Tweet attributed to Kane Wishart. Used without permission but legally. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 19, 2020 at 7:20 pm

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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January first, New Year’s Day. Oddly enough starting the year on January 1st is a relatively new thing. In much of Europe it wasn’t until after 1500. In the Ottoman Empire it wasn’t until 1918. And in Thailand not until 1941! Yes, there are Thai people alive today who remember when New Year’s Day wasn’t January 1st. Before then it was April 1st. So that means there must have been an extra long year or an extra short year when they made the switch.  Must of been a huge hassle with contracts, birthdays, and such. The legal equivalent of when Sweden switched to driving on the right.

So, any interesting history on January 1st? A little, there’s always something. The Chenogne massacre in 1945, where American troops in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre killed a like number of German POWs. I’m of a mind that events like this should be taught in school. On the same day the Luftwaffe launched its last air offensive, Operation Bodenplatte, an attempt to destroy a crippling number of Allied aircraft on the ground in Belgium and France, giving the Germans control of the skies over the then raging Battle of the Bulge. It was a catastrophic fail, destroying easily replaced Allied aircraft and losing many irreplaceable trained and experienced German pilots. So it was the Luftwaffe’s last gasp as an organized force, and through the end of the war the Allies completely controlled the skies over Europe.

In 1947 Canadian citizens became Canadian citizens instead of British citizens. I didn’t know that, but it was more a formality and legal nicety than any big change. Going back further, in 1804 “Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.” That’s from Wikipedia. I guess the hundreds of Indian nations in the Americas didn’t count as independent countries? In 1801 Ceres was discovered, the first and largest asteroid discovered. It was considered a planet for some time, then an asteroid, and now a dwarf planet. Science marches on, if confusingly sometimes.

Back in the here and now 2020 rolls in with a new crisis. Iraqi protesters swarmed the US embassy in Baghdad, causing damage, but no deaths or hostages yet. My first thought on hearing the news was, wait, what, isn’t the US embassy inside the Green Zone, the huge fortified crusader complex the US built in Baghdad? How did protesters even get to the US embassy? Turns out the Iraqi government let them in. Sigh, what a mess. Trump publicly blamed Iran, claiming they orchestrated the attack somehow. At least he’s mastered that aspect of Neocon World Middle East, if anything we don’t like happens, it must be Iran’s fault! That the US airstrikes against Iraqi militia forces killed dozens of people and just might have enraged Iraqis, nope, not relevant, it’s Iran! 

Even if Iran did have a hand in this, it’s just another indication of how America’s hard line policy towards Iran is failing. And he’s threatening Iran that they are going to pay “a very big price.” It’s not like he can sanction them further, so I’m not exactly sure what he means. He’s going to bomb Iraq some more? And no, our embassy wasn’t attacked because Trump has made people around the world not respect us. Good chance most of the protesters don’t even know who Trump is, but they do know America has brought nothing but suffering and death to Iraq for decades.

That’s one of the most frustrating things about Americans, most of them are now oblivious to the carnage and subsequent ill feelings our endless wars in the Middle East are causing. Somehow they are all habituated to it, like it’s normal to be dropping bombs on poor people on the other side of the planet. If some other country routinely bombed the USA Americans would most definitely be attacking their embassy, Americans would be outraged.  Do as we say, not as we do, the imperial disease illustrated.

In any event here’s hoping cool heads prevail, the last thing Trump or the nation needs is another war. Even watching the impeachment show is preferable to seeing another war on TV. Speaking of which, I did see a great movie recently, ‘Long Shot’ with Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron. It was as funny as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Game Night,’ to give the gentle reader an idea of what movies I find funny. And now I will never hear the word ‘cracker’ again without giggling. I hope everyone had a safe New Year’s Eve, welcome to 2020.

Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Haitian revolution: The Battle of Palm Tree Hill   Credit: January Suchodolski 1897-1875. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.)

Written by unitedcats

January 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

SAD DAYS IN HISTORY: THE FALL OF TENOCHTITLÁN, AND SYMBOLICALLY DEFACING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

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Tenochtitlán

Yesterday was the 498th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlán to Spanish barbarians. Tenochtitlán was the capital of the Aztec Empire, a marvel of engineering being built on a lake, and the largest city in North America. The European conquest of the world, euphemistically called “The Age of Discovery,” was the greatest crime in world history, and the destruction of civilizations in the New World was possibly its ugliest chapter. The natives weren’t Christians though, so it was all OK. Snort. Pretty sure Christ would have disagreed, the only good thing is that at least some of the Christians of the day were horror struck and did their best to stop the genocide and horror.

It’s interesting to speculate what the world would be like if any of the Native American states had been able to resist conquest, but there really wasn’t much chance of that. Within two generations of the Spanish arrival, the Aztec population crashed from about 20 million to less than a million. Smallpox being the primary culprit. No nation can resist conquest with that kind of population loss.

I wasn’t even going to write about the fall of Tenochtitlán, because, well, my capacity for horror and sad is being tested these days. Then the same day I met a nice person who had posted about the founding of Tenochtitlán on her Facebook page. So I thought, well, if people are still celebrating the founding of Tenochtitlán, I can honor the memory of all those who died defending their homes and in the horrors that followed the city’s fall. I used to wonder why we have so many movies about aliens invading Earth for purely malicious reasons. Once one studies some world history, it becomes painfully obvious why the senseless invasion by barbarian aliens is such a well worn trope. It’s what humans have been doing to each other since we invented “civilisation,” and probably before.

The thing that temporarily overloaded my empathy and compassion yesterday was the Trump administration symbolically changing the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Most have heard it before:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

While announcing changes to immigration policy a Trump official was asked if the quote still applies. Instead of responding “of course” or “no comment,” he said a line should be added that basically says “but no freeloaders.” This is wrong for a number of reasons. And its racist as hell, though racism deniers, and there are a lot of those in America, will sputter and spit and claim they are just speaking the truth. The ugliest lies often hide under the rubric of truth.

It’s wrong because it’s reinforcing the whole racist anti-immigrant trope that the Trump administration has been fomenting. The idea that immigrants are flooding into the country to get on welfare and vote for Democrats. And the idea that only white people are “real” Americans. This sort of horrid crap led to the El Paso shooting, where the shooter claimed he was deliberately shooting Mexicans. Which of course is ridiculous, he was targeting Latinos because he assumed Latino=Mexican. In reality he mostly killed Americans.

In real life, the vast majority of immigrants from south of the border are poor people seeking a better life. Many of them fleeing poverty and violence that most Americans can’t even imagine. Even worse, a lot of that poverty and violence is a direct result of Washington’s foreign policy in the region. And by and large immigrants are more law abiding than the average American citizen, and they contribute more to society than they cost.

In modern America though, fiction replaced fact in public discourse long ago. And the people at the top who have been robbing the poor and working class for decades work very hard to convince people that people on welfare and immigrants are the problem. (The unspoken assumption being these are mostly non-white people.) And Trump is the apogee of that type of thinking, we now have a president who not only reinforces racist and destructive tropes, he actually believes them. Jesus wept.

And regarding yesterday’s tweet, turns out I did have the words.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Fall of Tenochtitlán, late 17th century. Credit: unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 14, 2019 at 8:27 am