Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Coronavirus’ Category

I THOUGHT WHEN THE APOCALYPSE HAPPENED PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE

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In other words: “The fire’s under control, it just looks bad because we installed all sorts of smoke detectors, if we hadn’t done that things would look great.”

It’s not reported because that’s not how it works Mr. Trump. His quote is like saying: ‘We’re making so many rifles, more rifles than any other country, we’re winning the war!’ No Mr Trump, it’s not how many rifles we make, it’s how they are  used. Having a lot of tests is useless if one isn’t using the tests to isolate infected people and track down and isolate the people they infected. And in that respect, the US is failing miserably. And no as well, on a per capita basis, our testing is lower than some other countries. And we’re not doing well fighting Covid-19, other countries are shutting Covid-19 down and cautiously reopening their economies. And lastly the 1/100th thing is so stupid it’s beyond my comprehesion.

So I’m still in shock here. What a fascinating time and place to be alive! Mass insanity! The Children’s Crusade? The Tulip Mania? <cue: hysterical laughter.> Future historians, not to mention most of the rest of the contemporary globe, will be challenged to explain how this happened. How did the USA, self supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Actually, we know how it happened. This isn’t complicated for the Trump supporters who are still reading. If one’s car breaks, one calls a mechanic. If one’s roof leaks, one calls a roofer. If one’s pipes are clogged, one calls a plumber. Right? This isn’t rocket science. By the same token, if one is facing a pandemic, one calls the pandemic experts. There’s no politics here, no religion; it’s just civilization, we have a complex society and expert knowledge is what keeps it running. There’s no room for reasonable debate here, one has a problem, one consults the people who have spent their lives and careers dealing with the problem. Right? Right?

Trump did not do this. He fired the pandemic experts on the White House staff years ago, and when the pandemic struck, he ignored the plan the pandemic experts had put together. The result has been exactly as the pandemic experts predicted, Covid-19 is exploding out of control in the US. In every other developed country (and plenty of undeveloped ones) Covid-19 has been shut down and they are slowly reopening their economies. And making sure to keep plague carrying Americans out. OMFG.

I just. I just keep having to rewrite this end of the world post because to my continuing shock and horror, maybe 2/3rds of Americans still aren’t getting it. Trump and company are still using tortured motivated reasoning to pretend everything is OK, we’re winning the fight, and everything will be fine in a few months. And if that’s the people one hangs out with and the “news” one watches, I guess it’s understandable. Sort of. One wonders how they will fare as the situation worsens, but hey, most people in North Korea think things are worse off in “American occupied” South Korea.

The other third who are not getting it  though, not Trumpers. Just normal folks who haven’t yet accepted that things have changed. A horrible new plague is spreading throughout the world. I guess it’s human nature to live in the world we create in our mind, normally that’s a good thing. “The map is not the territory” though. When reality updates, and Covid-19 is a reality update, time to change one’s internal map of the world. Harder to do for some than others. One freind for example, hates Trump, watches anti-Trump media constantly … has made essentially zero changes in his life plan due to Covid-19. Another friend is sure we’ll “muddle through.”

The problem with the former is that if things get really bad, which they could well, he’s going to be utterly unprepared. And the problem with the “muddling through” idea is that states that try to “muddle through” national disasters don’t. We don’t need muddling, we need effective national leadership. That’s not happening with Trump, his muddling has made the USA the world’s epicenter of Covid-19. More muddling is bad, not good. It’s magical thinking.

As an aside, Covid-19 has driven some people off the deep end. IE they have been completely consumed by Covid-19 Truther and conspiracy theories. A few Facebook friends. One irl friend. Last time I saw this sort of thing was 9/11, that unhinged a few people. When great tragedies happen, some people snap. A human interest offering, and further evidence that yes indeedy, Covid-19 is a big deal.

So yes, in short, I think I’m witnessing one of the greatest ongoing failures of national leadership ever in the face of a global disaster. Convince me otherwise. Hint: Tweets like the above are the opposite of convincing. So I’ve decided all in all it’s a sign. My kin have mostly deserted me, the world I knew is coming to an end, and to top it all off, it’s a freaking medical mystery why I’m even still alive. What does it mean?

It means it’s time to finish my damn book. If I can spend months planting onions and stacking cans of beans, I can spend the same furnishing my book. Or finishing it as the case may be. Now or never, since my odds of surviving Covid-19 are about 50-50 I figure. So my blog posts might drop in frequency, I dunno. I’ll do my best.

Reality is so weird now I sometimes seriously wonder if I did die some time back, and the whole Trumpian Covid-19 nightmare is a dark fantasy generated by my dying brain in its last moments. Sadly for my readers, I don’t think so. Stay safe and stay sanish everyone. Wear your damn masks. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Presidential tweets are an official channel of the US government, and thus Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

July 9, 2020 at 8:34 pm

TRUMP FINALLY TAKES DECISIVE ACTION … TO PROTECT OLD STATUES. OK THEN. HAVE A SAFE FOURTH OF JULY, TOO LATE FOR A SANE ONE.

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Written yesterday:

So yeah, Trump’s gonna give a Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore tonight. The nation is in the midst of a massive resurgence of Covid-19 cases, Fourth of July celebrations have been cancelled everywhere … and Trump’s holding a campaign rally with no mask or social distancing requirements. At a controversial location considering the current conflict over certain public statues and such. The land was basically stolen from the Sioux, and Mount Rushmore carved over their objections. 

As far as Mount Rushmore goes, give it to the Sioux and let them do with it what they will. The image above is what it looked like before it was carved up. In a more general sense, a lot of statutes and such are being toppled. Some people are upset. My take on this, what exactly are they upset about? Tearing down these monuments to criminals affects people’s lives in no discernable way. They can be moved to obscure locations where people who want to revere American traitors can go do so, whatever, it’s a free country. 

That’s what I thought last night, before I watched Trump’s Mount Rushmore military extravaganza. And a military extravaganza it was, jets flew over. Then helicopters. Then stealth fighters. Interspersed between each flight was patriotic testimony by some select military person. B-1 bombers, the Blue Angels. No, not making this up. If Trump had a Death Star, it would have flown over. In other words the introduction to his speech was a multi million dollar commercial for the US military. The nation is reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century, and a gargantuan display of military waste is how Trump thinks the Fourth of July should be celebrated? OK then.

Great production values though, it was as if Disney produced a Nuremberg rally. Then they trotted out the Master of Ceremonies, Miss South Dakota 1970. She introduced the governor of South Dakota. Lots of God and nationalism with some 60s bashing thrown in for flavor. At that point I could take no more. There was a time when I would have taken a bullet for a president. Now I can’t even watch one of his rallies. From this morning’s readings, his Mount Rushmore speech can be summed up as Trump accusing protesters of “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children”.

Paranoid divisive fear mongering nonsense, gotta hand it to Trump, he’s consistent if nothing else. No Mr Trump, people don’t want to erase history, we just don’t think statues of traitors and criminals need to be on prominent display in our great nation. Nor should military bases be named after the same traitors and criminals. The Confederates were the ones who betrayed our founding fathers and took up arms to protect the institution of chattel slavery. Their leaders are not “American heros,” and their statues should never have been put up in the first place. Stick em in obscure locations where those who want to cry over spilt milk can do so.

Comes back to what I said above, the worst global and national  health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, and Trump is upset about a few old statues? Really? Really? This isn’t leadership, this is a man baby’s idea of leadership. It’s bizarre and appalling to me, Trump can produce an extravaganza in the middle of nowhere with  hundreds of millions of dollars of military might on display, but PPE shortages continue and Covid-19 spreads virtually out of control. It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if we really are just actors in some alien reality show sitcom, and its ratings were dropping so it’s jumped the shark with Trump.

Or to put it in another term, he’s going to take decisive action to protect a bunch of old statues, he’s creating a national garden for them, but he has yet to take decisive action leading the fight against Covid-19? And his followers find this acceptable? Well, maybe the statues can grace all the new graveyards we’re gonna need this summer.

So yes, the worst Fourth of July in my lifetime. For those still in touch with reality, a terrible new disease is raging in many of the world’s countries, especially America, my home. It’s not the new Black Death, but it’s killed half a million already and will no doubt kill millions more in the months to come, wreaking global economic havoc as well. It could be worse, but it aint no freaking flu. Here’s what we know so far. And along the same reality lines, it’s a disaster in America because we freaking shut down the country but didn’t take the steps needed to safely reopen. We wasted months, and now we’re paying the price.

Stay safe, stay home, wear the damn mask.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Six Grandfathers ca 1905, Mount Rushmore before it was vandalized. Credit: National Park service, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2020 at 8:14 am

AMERICA, FROM THE CAN DO COUNTRY TO THE CAN’T DO COUNTRY

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America was once a can do country.We won World War Two fighting two of the world’s great powers. We built the interstate highway system, a marvel of engineering. We went to the Moon. We eliminated smallpox. Johnson’s New Society brought millions out of poverty. We had an education and health care system that was the envy of the world. We had a thriving middle and working class where rising tides did raise all ships. I remember, I was there for much of it.

That was then, this is now. And now, we are the country that can’t. We can’t provide health care for all, something most of the rest of the world takes for granted. (There’s something more important than the health of a nation’s citizens?) We can’t do anything about our appalling gun violence and mass shooter problem. We can’t win a war. Our infrastructure and public education systems are falling apart from lack of funding. Minorities and blacks are still second class citizens in all but name.

And now we can’t even fight a pandemic, as the above illustration shows. The country is reopening, Covid-19 cases are spiking again, and the nation’s test and trace program isn’t up and running yet. It’s not up and running, because there is no national test and trace program. And Trump has basically said he’s done with the virus, he’s not closing down the country again, and he expects Covid-19 to just go away. So all we have against a continuation of the first wave of Covid-19 are piecemeal test and trace programs, and they aren’t going super well. Partly because it’s a difficult thing to set up, and partly because Americans are so “concerned” about their privacy they aren’t cooperating with test and trace programs.

In other words, yes, Trump has made Covid-19 far worse than it could have been. However, and it’s a huge however, the rot long preceded Trump. Yes, Obama, or Biden, or Clinton or Bush or my cat could likely have done a better job fighting Covid-19 than Trump, but they still would have been crippled by the underlying structural problems that turned us into America the Can’t Do nation. Obama no matter what he would have done for example, he certainly wouldn’t have convinced the GOP to cooperate any more than they ever cooperated with him. And lack of any sort of national health care system isn’t something that can be fixed overnight.

This is one of the reasons I don’t get as upset about Trump as some people. He’s as much a symptom of the problem as he is the cause. (Oh, add our broken election process to the  “Sorry, nothing can be done” list.) So getting rid of Trump is going to be a fine thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to magically fix this country’s problems. I don’t know what is going to fix them, though I can dream. I’ve always regretted missing the last great liberal cultural wave, the 1960s. Maybe the wave of people tearing down statues and stuff portends a real movement. Liberals are the goddamn majority in America, maybe 2020 will be the year they decide they are tired of empty promises from the Dems, and make broad social change happen. A blogger can dream.

Just because they say it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is. Gee, free health care, better infrastructure and education. Freedom of religion, which means the separation of church and state. Living wages, middle class and working class growing wealthier. Yeah, the hyper rich will have much smaller bank accounts, and the military will have to do with less, but all in all the right will suffer through it. No one will be forced to get an abortion or go to a gay wedding. The world that was being created in the early 70s … before Nixon and Reagan sold the country out to the military industrial complex. That’s today’s idle speculation and I’m sticking to it.

So yeah, Trump’s big come back rally in Tulsa was a flop. About 6,000 showed up, the Trump campaign was prepared for tens of thousands. His speech was apparently not one of his best, to be honest I didn’t listen to it. My guess he probably took this low turnout badly, Trump really thrives on his MAGA rally energy. He’s had a lot of setbacks lately. He’s basically betting everything on Covid-19 just going away or being forgotten by people. He’s saying the forest fire is going to go out by itself, the experts disagree. They think it’s gonna chug along until herd immunity sets in. And depending on how long acquired immunity lasts, Covid-19 might be with us to stay. The cold from hell.

Trump was out of his depth in reasonably good times, now he’s drowning in failure. Maybe downhill from here till January when he’s dragged from the White House (while screaming “I’m the President!”)  to the sight of the greatest Trump crowd EVER … cheering his departure and burning MAGA hats.

It’s fun to live in a time in history when “God only knows what the rest of the year will bring.” Take care everyone, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Washington Post. Claiming Fair Use, historically important image,  etc. I’m a subscriber and support them FWIW.)

Written by unitedcats

June 21, 2020 at 7:20 pm

THE DYING CONTINUES BUT THANK TRUMP WE’LL ALL BE ABLE TO GET HAIRCUTS SOON

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It is so freaking strange living in contemporary America, June, 2020. Covid-19 is now the 4th worst mass death event in US history, and is still killing about a thousand people a day with no end in sight. That’s a much higher rate than any of America’s wars. Covid-19 has not only killed a 4th place record of Americans, it’s done so in just a few months! In other words, this is an ongoing catastrophe of epic proportions.

And yet, in the news, in the public eye, in the Trump supporters crowd especially, the crisis has passed and the country is reopening. All across American restrictions are being lifted and people are starting to congregate with little to no concern for masks or social distancing. It’s unreal, we’re just gonna pretend Covid-19 is going to go away? It’s like living in a Twilight Zone episode. Deaths are already ramping upwards in multiple states as they reopen, what’s going to happen when once again thousands of people are dying daily? Damned if I know.

So I’ve learned a few things from this ongoing existential crisis. I’ve always been fascinated by how civilizations collapse. More importantly, how it is that people continued to carry on with destructive actions long after it was clear that in the long run what they were doing was going to be catastrophic? Jared Diamond has written books about this, I like his take: “I wonder what they were thinking when they cut down the last tree on Easter Island.” Basically, people, even leaders, base most of their actions on short term and immediate gains, somehow blinding themselves to the ultimate consequences. Reading about it was one thing, seeing it in action, wow.

I’ve also got a bit more insight into Trump, or observation at least. People follow Trump because he believes what he says. I think it’s why people fall for cult like leaders in general, they want to be told what to think and do, and someone who can tell them that with fervent belief, well, that’s what they are looking for. It’s especially true nowadays when there’s whole news channels devoted to promoting Trumpism. So no matter how bad it gets, and there’s every indication it’s going to get much worse, his core supporters will stick by him.

This also figures into concerns about Trump’s health. He recently had a bit of trouble on a ramp and with a glass of water apparently. Though, honestly they didn’t look like any big deal to me. My point though, is Trump’s health is just like anything else in Trump’s world, he thinks he’s in great health and that’s that. If a doctor tried to tell him differently, he would get a new doctor. I could literally see him being like President Wilson after his stroke. One entire side of his body was paralyzed, but he insisted he was just “slightly lame.” The constitution was eventually amended to deal with such situations, but it would require congress to invoke. So as long as the GOP controls the Senate and Trump can be propped up in a chair and can sign documents, he’ll remain the POTUS.

Or to put our current situation another way:

“The entire point of shutting down society was to allow time for a test and trace system to be out in place. It never was and now the 2nd wave will be even bigger. So there are 115,000 dead, an economy in free-fall, millions suffering and it was all for NOTHING.This is FAILURE.”   —Mikel Jollett

Yeah, we’re hosed.

On a more personal and positive note, my Covid-19 victory garden is out of control. I’m eating stuff from it almost every meal, my housemate is eating, my neighbors are eating, even a rabbit got into it and ate some. It’s a very good feeling frankly, I should have settled down long ago and gotten serious about growing food. Most people are still on auto-pilot, but Covid-19 has changed my life. Hopefully changed it enough to get through the rest of 2020, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store for us.

Stay safe, stay sane, have a great week everyone. I took an overdue vacation last week, but back to the blogging grandstone now. Comments, likes, shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Claiming Fair Use, it’s all over Facebook, it’s the perfect photo for illustrating the post, and the idea that I am making a profit off this blog doesn’t pass the laugh test. I think it came from this site discussed on Snopes.)

Written by unitedcats

June 15, 2020 at 7:46 am

INSIDE TRUMP’S BRAIN

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Trump tweeted the above very recently. It’s regarding this incident in Buffalo, warning, very disturbing imagery: Police knock protester over. The more I think about Trump’s tweet, the more disturbed I am on several levels. I’ll be blunt, this is the tweet of a 13 year old boy who reads too many comics and watches too many superhero movies, while failing every class in school. If Trump was a 13 year old boy, no problem, children often have poor judgement and limited reality testing. I believed all sorts of silly crap when I was 13, it’s embarrassing to even recall. Trump however is a 73 year old man, and the president of the United States. So yeah, sorry world, sorry future readers, somehow we ended up with a president who tweets childish paranoid nonsense.

However, let’s try to analyze this a bit deeper. First pass, what if Obama had said something similar after five cops were shot and killed in Austin in 2016: “This was obviously some sort of false flag operation by the KKK and the GOP to make black people look bad.” To put it mildly, the alt right, the GOP, and Fox News and friends would have gone ballistic. They would rightfully have pointed out that Obama was not only insane for suggesting so, he was disrespecting cops, the American Flag, and our great nation itself. Yeah. One of my life observations is that if the opposite of an argument is absurd, maybe the argument itself is questionable, nu?

Then just the absurdity of the statement itself. A 75 year old guy with no record of anything but peaceful protest is suddenly some sort of secret agent for Antifa, an organization that doesn’t really exist in any real sense of the word? This tweet covers it nicely:

And no, cell phones can’t be used to do any of the things Trump suggests. From the video, gee, looks like he got in the way of an advancing police phalanx, and they pushed him down. And he hit the ground so hard he immediately started bleeding profusely out his ear. This was faked somehow? Does Trump have any evidence supporting his theory? (Hint: no.)

I mean, Trump is the CinC of Washington’s military and intelligence resources, he literally has the best resources on the planet to investigate what happened on this video. Did he ask them to do so? Apparently not, Trump’s ‘analysis’ of this incident doesn’t seem to be based on any evidence or intelligence, it’s just his lay observations? This is leadership? A president basically making it up as he goes along. Not a good look on anyone, especially the POTUs.

I submit that in these troubled times, truth matters. The good doctor covers it nicely in this article. Basically while people may be able to logically assess neutral topics, the more they identify with a tribal belief, the more they use the fine brains evolution/God gave them for confirmation bias, cherry picking, motivated reasoning and all the other mental gyrations it takes to adhere to one’s chosen social belief system. It’s not hopeless though, one can be aware of one’s own biases and actively seek out opposing viewpoints. There is an underlying reality, there’s a vast array of people trying to understand it, and the resources are out there to stay halfway informed.

So some big things are going on as I type. Covid-19 ain’t done yet, and it’s trending upwards still in numerous states. Globally it’s very mixed, some countries have shut it down completely, like Cuba, New Zealand,  and Vietnam. Some are unfolding catastrophes like Brazil and India. Trump is going to resume campaign rallies, on Juneteenth, the holidays blacks celebrate emancipation. In Tulsa Oklahoma, site of one of the worst anti-black riots in US history. Coincidence? I doubt it. Meanwhile the BLM movement appears to be making great strides, with police departments being scaled back in many cities. In the spirit of getting educated, please read this article. It’s long, but worth it.

The “defund the police” rallying cry is best expressed in this meme:

It’s a radical idea, but there’s lots of excellent arguments for it. And there’s certainly no reason states and cities shouldn’t try it. Still, there will be a lot of pushback, police unions and police culture are very strong. And Trump is sure on the side of the police. In Seattle I guess there is an actual zone the police have been kicked out of. A Tiananmen square of our own? So these are revolutionary times. Trump is apparently outraged, but he’s outraged a lot lately.

At the very least. It’s a golden age for memes. I cheerfully admit I have no clue what’s going to happen next, but I’ll do my damnedest to blog about it. I do know that anyone who claims to know where this is all going is, well, full of it. Covid-19 broke the mould so to speak, it’s the Saturn Return of our time. By that I mean it’s separating out the wheat from the chaff. Your country is run by people in touch with reality, Covid-19 can be beat. Your country is run by someone who lives in their own reality, you’re hosed.

Stay safe, stay sane everyone. Comments, shares, etc appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Images: Used without permission. Trump’s tweets are def public domain, pretty sure the rest are too.)

Written by unitedcats

June 11, 2020 at 6:24 pm

WHY PEOPLE RIOT, WHY I’M ANGRY, WHY?

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What a terrible few days it’s been. A cop kills a suspect, George Floyd, in Minneapolis. Him and the other cops standing by him are fired almost immediately. Demonstrations and protests break out, violence and destruction ensues. And has spread across the nation now to varying degrees. The actual killing cop has now been charged with murder. Granted it was already a terrible year with the Covid-19 pandemic, but widespread rioting unseen for decades, yeah, going into a crazy bad summer.

Personally, I find this all simultaneously terribly depressing and enraging. Depressing, because people are dying, and every death leaves family and friends coping with sadness and loss. Enraging because so much of what is going on shouldn’t be, and is a clear sign that we still have some major problems and misunderstandings in America. At this point though, our political discourse is so laden with hatred and misunderstanding, maybe I’m pissing into the wind. Still, I have to try, some of my oldest best friends are Trump supporters. This is for them. The ones that can still listen and engage. We are all in this lifeboat together, whether we like it or not.

Is understanding possible? Trump and his supporters often style themselves after Lincoln. Lincoln spent the entire war corresponding with President Davis, president of the southern rebellion, tring to end the war. Some Trump supporters are now saying things like “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Rush Limbaugh has been saying similar for decades. Not sure how to get through to people like that, not sure how they think discourse like that is helpful. Democrats are your friends and neighbours and family, they are your fellow humans.

Back on point, OK, first major point of misunderstanding regarding George Floyd. I’m still seeing a lot of people saying “If he could talk, he could breath.” One of the officers on the scene even said that! This one’s easy, the statement is simply wrong. Yes, if one’s breathing is cut off completely, one can’t speak. However, if one’s breathing is just restricted, it can take 30 minutes or longer to die, and the victim can speak the whole time! That all media outlets haven’t cleared this up is a shameful commentary on our so called modern media. That cops don’t know this is shocking. And in any event, how can someone think that kneeling on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes is a safe and appropriate way to restrain them?

This isn’t a one off incident either, there are countless incidents of police unjustly killing blacks. Yes, there are also senseless killings of others, but blacks are disproportionately the victims of police violence. White people don’t have to teach their kids how to stay safe around cops. That alone should clue people in that there’s a problem. The fact that whites frequently point guns at cops and live to tell about it, blacks never, should also clue people in that there’s a problem. And it’s not an unsolvable problem either. I’m not blaming white people, just asking them to see that police violence is a problem in America, or at least a symptom of underlying racism problems.

For one thing, police in the US are very poorly trained. And for another thing, the courts have given American police way too much leeway when it comes to police killings. The problem (police violence) is not being addressed. Most major cities budget millions every year to settle police brutality lawsuits. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just freaking train police not to use excessive force?

A lot of people are claiming that, OMG, why don’t they protest peacefully? A number of points to rebut that. First of all, conflating property damage with police killings is a bit of a stretch. If burning stores bothers the reader as much as George Flyod essentially being lynched by a cop, they might want to think about that. Given a choice between losing a loved one and losing a building, pretty sure most of us would choose the building. Making this comparison basically is saying black lives don’t matter much. Really?

Also, for God’s sake, peaceful protest was not exactly getting anything done. In fact Colin Kaepernick started just such a protest. His career was ruined and  he was widely reviled by the right for doing so. Even by the freaking vice president who basically spat on Mr Kaepernick for protesting peacefully:

Lastly, we really don’t know who is starting the fires and such. And no, I don’t believe it’s the deep state or other such conspiracy nonsense. There are however plenty of people unhinged enough to want to do such. Hard core anarchists, just plain criminals, and there’s always a lunatic fringe. Police riots actually are a thing too, I mean, the police aren’t exactly stepping up to the plate to fix “the bad apples,”, so it’s not out of the question that police might attack protestors. My point here, is that assuming blacks are all thugs and criminals just waiting to riot if the opportunity arises is, well, simplistic at best. Racist at worse.

Millions of people already stressed out about the country’s state of affairs are furious about George Floyd’s killing and countless others. That includes me, a freaking cop basically murders a guy in public, and three other cops present just watch?

Yes, the Amish are protesting.

Thugs is the new n-word. Trump isn’t helping by making threats and taking a hard line. This is not a Trump post though, let’s just say I don’t think he’s going to handle this crisis any better than he is handling Covid-19. The country has grave problems with police brutality, oppression,  racism, and inequality. This is what is underlying the protests. It’s not a law and order problem, it’s an injustice problem. No justice, no peace.

I know, a disjointed post. Disjointed times. Swinging between anger, tears, and depression. Not conducive to writing. Stay safe, stay sane everyone. A hopeful image to end the post on:

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The top image is white people lining up between police and black protesters. The others are self explanatory. I think all are public domain or otherwise bereft of copyright issues.)

Written by unitedcats

May 30, 2020 at 7:48 pm

GRIM MEMORIAL DAY, TERRIBLE TIMES, GOD SAVE US ALL

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Memorial Day, when Americans honor those who have fallen in war. And by an ironic milestone, as many Americans have died of Covid-19 in the past three months than died in every war since World War Two. And in an even darker twist, Covid-19 is slaughtering the veterans of World War Two as effectively as German machine guns did on D-Day. Read this article, but fair warning, it will make the gentle reader cry. It gets worse than even that, some Americans are so heartless they called for these deaths. See image above, not photoshopped.

So I wrote the above, and stalled. Memorial Day is ultimately terrible, war means the government has failed, or worse, chosen war. Ugly, especially today when our country is waging numerous wars of choice. Stalled because freaked out by the world situation, and locally as well, sheesh. Funnel cloud about a mile from my house yesterday. When the tornado siren went off, what did I do, I ran out to the lake to see what was up. In my defense, it was like clear weather, and the wind was onshore. So if there was a tornado on the lake, I would see it coming, and if it wasn’t on the lake, it was already past me. Alas, by the time I got out there, it was gone. Still, I realized as I was running out there, if I’m running towards a tornado, I think that makes me an honorary midwesterner at least.

So yeah, stalled. Warm rain all day, summer is here. I went out in the sunset, it was fun. No real sunset, just a rainy landscape slowly getting darker, a study in melancholy. My garden loves it though, and I got pretty much everything planted just in the nick of time. My Covid-19 victory garden. I got wet, but warm wet so it was OK.

And then the below. Let me explain. I saw a documentary about the 1918 flu pandemic. The lion’s share of the people who died, died in October 1918. It was the worst month in American history in terms of excess deaths. And the question raised was, why isn’t this a huge deal in American history? Memorials, remembrances, what not? And the answer … it was so effing horrible that people just wanted to forget.

“I had a little bird.

Its name was Enza.

I opened up the window,

And in flew Enza.”

So this:

So hopefully that kinda puts Covid-19 in context. It’s one of the worst things to ever happen in American history. We’re only four months in, the death toll has already been horrific, and the worst may well be yet to come. This is just the beginning. What a time to be alive.

I’ll end this odd post for terrible times with some wild speculation. A friend insisted that Covid-19 had to be artificial. So let’s run with that. Mainstream science says it’s not. So maybe there’s some global conspiracy to corrupt mainstream science, but that requires so many layers of special pleading it can safely be dismissed. However, if Covid-19 is artificial, that means its creator has better science than mainstream science. A number of possibilities come to mind …

Perhaps there is some human undiscovered Einstein in a secret lab somewhere, making custom viruses perfectly mimicking natural viruses. It’s not completely out of the question, though even it requires layers of special pleading. If there is such a person, hopefully they have already engineered a mini-me. That would be cool. Secondly, maybe aliens engineered Covid-19 for their nefarious purposes. It’s their version of “jumping the shark” for the alien sitcom Earth is? Granted, alien speculation is the same as claiming God or fairies designed it, so it’s not really all that helpful.

Lastly though, what if an AI has “woken up” and is conducting experiments? A sentient AI could presumably think at almost light speed, and instantly understand and control essentially everything human built that has internet access. Some lab somewhere got detailed instructions as to how to build Covid-19, and then the creators were “wellstoned” by the AI to cover its tracks. In other words, we’re living in a Black Mirror episode.

Yeah, best not to think too hard about that one. For the record, since if that is real said AI is reading this as I type, I’m happy to serve our new overlords if I can keep blogging. Humans are fun and interesting, hopefully some of us can be kept around for snids and giggles? Hell, I’ll serve similar aliens. Maybe I will get a really interesting phone call after posting this? If so, great blog next!

Stay safe and stay sane everyone. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Claiming them both as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, yada-yada-yada. The second was me combining two Facebook posts, pretty sure it’s Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 25, 2020 at 8:44 pm

NIGHTMARES

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Yeah, things are moving so fast that my old or standard style of blog posts become obsolete very quickly. So like the last post, I’m just gonna explore an aspect of my current thinking on Covid-19. 100,000 dead in the US now, I think that’s worth a comment. What’s to say though, to many people it’s a foreseeable global tragedy made worse by Federal government mismanagement. To the right it’s an unavoidable foreign caused tragedy that would have been much worse but for the Federal government’s action. I’m with the many, but if 100,000 dead doesn’t strike Trump supporters as a bit excessive considering other countries have held it to near zero, I don’t know what to say to them. If anything remotely like this had happened on Obama’s watch, the right would be howling for his blood.

So what happens now? At this point, who knows. We are truly through the looking glass at this point. Even the best and brightest can only speculate wildly now. Almost certainly, at least in the USA, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Deaths have plateaued in the US, and numerous states are re-opening. Trump is even saying if there is a second wave, he’s not going to close the country down again in the interests of “saving the economy.” Yeah, when the rich talk about “saving the economy” they mean “We can’t let the rich lose money no matter what.” And under Trump, the rich are doing just fine thank you. The rest of us, not so well.

However, with that caveat aside, here is my worst case scenario thinking. (Read the Onion for optimistic speculation.) I’m thinking while we have kinda gotten Covid-19 at a low boil so to speak, by now it’s everywhere in the USA. And to put it mildly, public education on how to avoid spreading the disease has been ghastly, with mass non-compliance to mask wearing and social distancing guidelines. And efforts at setting up good testing and contact tracing systems to prevent hot spots from spreading are spotty at best.  And we are nowhere near herd immunity, or having a treatment or a vaccine. And finally, wildly encouraged by Trump and the GOP, the entire country is going to “open up” and  relax social distancing.

Well, what happens when a bonfire has been lit, stops burning, smolders for a while, and then someone blows on it? Poof. I could see the Covid-19 death count explode as millions of Americans go back to church and other crowded indoor activities with minimal to non-existent efforts at mask wearing and social distancing, a national  reopening with a Covid-19 carrier in practically every crowd. We could hit 200,000 dead faster than we hit 100,000. And while I may be a pessimist, so far all but the most extreme pessimists have been right. Trump promised it was all going to go away right up until people started dropping like flies, now he claims to have a secret plan to end it if only he is re-elected.

And what will happen if the second wave is worse than the first? My fear is that Trump is unravelling. He’s been cancelling long standing international treaties, reopened the nuclear arms race, and just in general is being belligerent on the foregn and domestic stage. I don’t see this as helping, and I don’t see it as being a sign of considered thought. Shooting from the hip is good for carnivals, in a real gunfight it’s a foolish move. So all hell might break loose. I feel like the guys in the Tolkien meme. Tolkien had been through World War One, he’d been there.

For my part I’ll keep blogging, and keep urging people to mask up and practise social distancing. The masks are to protect other people, not to protect the wearer. Why people have a problem with keeping their fellow countrymen safe is a mystery to me. Nobody is being asked to give up their freedom, they are being asked to do their part to limit the spread of a horrible disease until we have a cure and/or a vaccine. And we could reopen safely, but that would require effective national government, which seems to be MIA at the moment.

And just for fun, writing this I realized there’s even an uglier possibility. Hey, exploring the darkness is what I do. Next post. Looking like an extemporaneous post every three days might be my plan for a while. Well, impromptu? On-the-spot? I love the english language, a word for every shade of meaning. Stay safe and stay sane everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Public domain image from Snappygoat, quote is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.)

Written by unitedcats

May 23, 2020 at 4:48 pm

IS TRUMP GOING TO GET RE-ELECTED?

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I dreamt I was at a big public celebration/event in Paris. Then it was announced that the USA was bequeathing Trump to France. That was the word in the dream, bequeathing, dream language can be quite odd. And the French promptly shut down the ceremony, they were not interested in taking Trump off our hands. I don’t normally dream about the world at large, but these are not normal times. And it’s a safe bet a lot of people are dreaming of ways to get rid of Trump. Nearly a hundred thousand dead of Covid-19 in the USA now, many Americans find that appalling, I know I do.

Yes, I know, this has turned into the Trump/Covid-19 blog. And if it was September of 1939, it would have turned into the Hitler/War blog. I say War instead of World War Two because few people we’re calling it World War Two until America entered the war in 1941. Semantics aside, the gentle reader presumably understands. It’s the times, Trump and Covid-19 dominate the news, so I’m rolling with it. This is a more speculative blog than usual, don’t worry, tons of bad news about the new polio in my next post.

First, Trump’s re-election. I see him pivoting now into an election winning schtick, and while he may be the worst president ever, he’s still a brilliant self-promoter. Let me explain how this is going to work. He got elected back in 2016 largely by promising to bring back an ‘America that never was’ to the majority of white people who think whites are a discriminated against minority in the US now. That’s a Trump supporter in a nutshell, someone who knew there were terrible problems in America, the good old days were gone, and here came a candidate who promised to bring it all back. They aren’t the majority of Americans by any chance, but there were enough of them to carry Trump’s MAGA parade over Clinton’s uninspired “I don’t need the flyover states” campaign.

Well, MAGA’s probably not going to work again, although Trump will sure emphasize the “truth” that before Covid-19 he had created the greatest economy the world had ever seen. And then along came Covid-19 because of the Chinese and WHO. So now what is Trump promising? If he gets re-elected, why, he will finish off the fight against Covid-19 and restore the economy! All his supporters have to do is get out and vote for him! Only Trump can save America from Covid-19!

Bear me out, yes, I’m saying that Trump is going to use Covid-19 to get re-elected. More accurately, he is going to use it to whip up his base even more fervently than in 2016.  This time he’s promising a return to a time people actually remember, not just some lost golden age. And there’s more, Covid-19 was caused by foreigners, and weaponized by the Democrats to make Trump look bad! And blue State governors! Yes, Covid-19 was part of the leftist plot to bring socialism to America, and destroy everything great about it in the process! Trump is going to save America from the very enemies the right wing outrage machine has been warning about for decades.

Gotta remember people, Trump’s supporters watch Fox News and other pro-Trump media, so they will back this all up. My point here, and I think I’ve made a strong case for it, is that Trump’s base may be even more driven to vote in 2020 than in 2016. So if anyone is going to beat Trump in 2020, they need to run a better campaign than Clinton did in 2016. Is this written in stone? Of course not. Anything can happen between now and November. The world we knew is gone. Or put in another way, it doesn’t matter how bad Covid-19 gets, Trump is going to spin it his way, and whoever beats him is going to have to do an even better job of motivating their base. Food for thought I hope.

We’ll see. Outside of the US, I am wondering if the world will split into two worlds. The Covid-19 world, and the non-Covid-19 world. There are countries that are getting Covid-19 under control and slowly re-opening their economies. It’s not rocket science, it’s just effective government working with epidemic science. And then there are countries run by people who distrust science and government, starting with the US. And in these countries Covid-19 will continue to circulate as they are fighting it with prayer and common sense. Reason and science trump those, but a lot of people are hostile to that idea. And the former countries are going to want to have as little to do as possible with the latter countries. So we could see an enormous sea change in global alignments over the next year, unprecedented since World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I dunno. Whatever happens, I plan to keep blogging on it. To cope with it all I have started working two days, then taking a day off. Off Social Media too. Just a day to rest and recharge my batteries. And so far, working like a charm. I got a tremendous amount done in the past two days, and today is the first day in months I had the concentration and motivation to sit down and write a blog post in one sitting.

Hoping that’s a good thing, and not like a candle brightening just before it dies. Comments and shares encouraged. Stay safe and stay sane everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook post, apparently stuff shared freely on social media is public domain. Made me LOL. Will remove or attribute as required if the copyright holder requests. A discerning reader provided the source for the image: New Study.)

Written by unitedcats

May 20, 2020 at 7:08 pm

THIS IS NOT NORMAL, AND NOT ONLY DOES TRUMP NOT HAVE A PLAN B, HE DOESN’T HAVE A PLAN A

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I’m torn two ways these days. On the one hand, I feel compelled to be as productive as possible before the coming storm. Planting food, stockpiling food/essentials/tradeables, growing local food share contacts, etc. It’s hard work but sure feels like I’m doing something about Covid-19, besides trying to be a voice of sanity in a rising tsunami of madness. God only knows the federal government apparently isn’t going to do anything. On the other hand, this might be the last time in my life I can call the good times, plenty of good food and beer, no pressing concerns. So why not just say “screw it” and enjoy life while I still can? And after much thought, I’m gonna do both! Two days of work, one day of play. Hopefully that will keep me on an even keel and I won’t start slashing wildly at invisible demons with my chainsaw. I always end up having to buy new drapes when that happens, it adds up.

So yes, I’m still predicting this pandemic is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better, especially in the US where huge numbers of people don’t seem to grasp that reality has a liberal bias. Great article linked there, at least for people still in touch with reality. Trump supporters laboring under the pretext that Covid-19 is some sort of Democratic/liberal media  plot to make Trump look bad, I don’t know how to reach them. I mean, nearly 100,000 dead, with no end in sight. The same people who spent years yelling about Benghazi and four dead Americans have no problem with America having the highest Covid-19 death toll in the developed world. Once one has become wedded to an ideology or a religion as a guide to life, I think the brain turns to mush. Not limited to Republicans of course, but Dems believing Russians are undermining America aren’t doing the damage that Republicans believing Covid-19 is “just the flu” are.

Vietnam is a great example of how to fight Covid-19, yes, it is possible. Right next to China. Near 100 million people, many living in huge densely crowded cities. They must be getting slammed by Covid-19, right? Nope. 300 cases, zero deaths. How did they manage that? They took it very seriously from the beginning, closed their borders and country down, and did what needed to be done to keep people safe. At the time it was considered by some as an overreaction. In hindsight, they are now re-opening their country with robust systems in place to deal with Covid-19. And, again, 300 cases, zero deaths. And the question here is, if America with all its freedoms and democracy and such that make it oh-so-much-better than a communist one party state got hammered by Covid-19, maybe we could have done better? And my point is not “communism is better” or some stupid shit like that, it’s as stated: “Maybe we could have done better?” And maybe Trump’s boasts about how great he has handled this should be taken with a large dose of salt?

Sigh. What I am also afraid is happening is that Washington has just decided to “normalize” Covid-19. Trump and corporate America turn Covid-19 into a “fact of life” and just carry on and accept Covid-19 deaths as just part of normal life like heart attacks or car accidents. Because this is exactly what the castle or whatever one wants to call the corporate/military cabal that runs the nation wants. They want the serfs back in the fields, just go on creating wealth for the planet’s elite, granny was sick and old anyhow. And people do hate change, they do want “no problems” times. I can see why huge numbers of people are in denial and thinking things will get better.

I guess there’s two ways moving forward. We do what needs to be done to fight Covid-19, which means a lot of effort to protect workers and the vulnerable. MacDonald’s may have to forgo spending $10k per employee per year buying back their own stock. Or we do pretty much nothing, and carry on, which appears to be Trump’s plan.  Well, if he turns it around, I will cheerfully admit I’m wrong and vote for him this fall. And I hope to win the lottery while I’m at it.

In other End-o-the-World news, here’s a good article on our current understanding of how masks work, short version, they work pretty good when used properly in conjunction with other measures. It bears repeating that global warming is still getting worse, and oddly enough many of the very same people in denial about global warming are in denial about Covid-19 as well. Whole other blog post there, for now, pretty sure that ultimately denying reality is a failed strategy, no matter how high the stock market gets. And with Covid-19, we’ll know in months, not decades.

More empty shelves in the supermarket yesterday. Meat prices are spiking. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is my motto of the day. Lastly, an article I’ve posted before but it bears repeating, it’s the best I’ve seen on how Covid-19 spreads and how to avoid catching it. No one in their right mind wants to catch this disease, and I mean that literally. Have a great weekend everyone, stay safe, stay sane. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Massacre of the Innocents, Bruegel circa 1566. It depicts Spanish soldiers slaughtering Dutch children. I chose it because it depicts a terrible scene. And because it’s the original version depicting the slaughter of children. Then the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II had the nasty parts painted over. Fake news is nothing new in other words, today he’d run the Fox network no doubt.)

Written by unitedcats

May 16, 2020 at 8:30 am