Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Coronavirus’ Category

YOU’RE A LYING DOG-FACED PONY SOLDIER!

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“You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier!” Biden said that to a young constituent during a campaign event in New Hampshire. She had asked him after his dismal performance in Iowa’s caucuses, why should people think he could win the national election? He then asked her if she had ever been to a caucus. She answered in the affirmative, and his response was the pony soldier line. It’s a line Biden has used before, claiming it’s from a John Wayne movie. It’s not, no one has been able to find it in any movie, though it might be a mishmash half remembered line from some 1950 era western or westerns. Biden claimed it was a joke, idk, insulting people “jokingly” has never seemed particularly funny to me. If it was some sort of attempt to bond with younger people, looked like it failed from my perspective. The woman in question did not look amused.

And Biden is the best the Democrat establishment has to offer? Sheesh. The woman’s question was a good one, which Biden did at least acknowledge after his attempt at witty repartee. If only ten percent of your  party faithful caucus for you, looks grim to me. I don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about Biden, and I know a lot of Democrats. He was Obama’s sidekick for eight years, and I can’t remember a single thing he did to stand out during that time. I actually wonder why he’s running, his chances of winning are low, and it’s a thankless high pressure job. Reading his bio though, he wanted to be president from an early age, and this would almost certainly be his last best shot.

Frankly I have no use for anyone who wants to be president, especially from a young age. I suspect the motives of anyone running for president, there might be people who have good motives for doing so, but Biden doesn’t strike me as one of those. Gotta wonder if his staff was pounding their heads in frustration too. I mean, surely since he’s used the line before someone told him there’s not ever going to be a good time and place to use it? And maybe avoid trying to be funny at all? It’s not his forte. And reminding people he was watching movies in the fifties, not a good look on you Joe.

This turned into a political post, so in for a penny, in for a pound. I also use old expressions that date me to the days when the Dead Sea was just getting sick, but I’m not running for office. Came across an article talking about how the left and right politically in the US now is a false dichotomy. Neither party really stands for much anymore, and their view of their opponents is a weird straw man fantasy. And this is how the powers that be want it, the people blaming the other party and exaggerated threats for their ills, instead of concentrating on the ills that are destroying America. In any event, I thought it was an interesting read.

In non political news today, the deaths from the Wuhan Coronavirus exceeded the death toll from the last big coronavirus outbreak in 2003, the SARS coronavirus. And yesterday was the worst daily death toll so far, 97 dead. Still primarily an outbreak in central China, no need to start wearing masks yet. There’s just all sorts of things scientists have not yet learned about the virus, so predictions are all educated guesswork at this point. Reality bats last as they say. Seems pretty clear it’s another case of a virus jumping from an animal host to humans, an all too common occurrence because humans freaking eat just about any animal they can arm wrestle down their throat .

Oh well. Science post and others in the pipeline. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: poster for the 1952 movie ‘Pony Soldier.’ Credit: Unknown, the studio or distributor of the film? Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Here’s a link to the movie.)

Written by unitedcats

February 10, 2020 at 7:34 am

THROUGH THICK AND THIN: FEBRUARY 8TH

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I have been busy helping a friend who is recuperating from an operation. As well, I have been working on a post I really want to get right. Life, always something. OK, February 8 in history. On this day in 1904 Japan launched a surprise attack against the Russian Pacific Fleet anchored in Port Arthur, Siberia. It was more or less a big fail, with a number of ships moderately damaged or either side. No Russian ships sunk, despite what is shown on the Japanese poster above. The world outlawed such attacks in 1907, and since then no nation has ever launched a surprise attack on another nation. Whew. After the battle above, the Japanese were able to repair their ships, while the Russian repair facilities in Port Arthur were very limited. Japan went on to decisively win the war.

In a more positive event on this day in 1945, ten Russians in a German concentration camp escaped to freedom by stealing the camp commandant’s He-111 and flying it to freedom behind Soviet lines. The Germans failed to intercept the plane, and they were hit by Russian anti-aircraft fire, but they all made it. The escape was organized by Russian fighter pilot Mikhail Devyatayev. I’d never heard of this, but it was a big deal in Russia. Sadly Stalin’s Russia was not a happy place, the seven enlisted men were promptly reassigned to a rifle company, where five of them died before the war’s end later than year. And even though the three officers provided valuable information about Germany’s rocket program, they lived under a cloud of criminal suspicion until after Stalin’s death. In 1957 though, their heroics were recognized, and Mikhail Devyatayev was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal. He lived happily ever after, and wrote his memoirs recounting their escape.

I’m surprised no one has made a movie about this escape,  though sooner or later I am sure. We’re on the cusp of an age where computers are going to be able to make realistic movies about anyone or anything in history, dispensing entirely with such expensive extras as actors, cameras, sets, etc. Granted this might still be a few decades away, but just a few. Human creativity will still come into play, this will just mean anyone who wants to write and direct a movie will be able to do so on a level playing field. At some point even the creative aspects will be generated by computer, though I make no predictions about when that will happen. Think of it though, infinite episodes of any TV show in history could be produced, indistinguishable for all intents and purposes from the original. It’s gonna be wild.

In other words, if the fans don’t like the last couple of seasons of a crazy popular show, they can just change it any way they like. <cough> thrones <cough> Think about it. One rents a popular movie, and before watching it one just tells the dvd player to make all the characters black. Or female. Or cats. Or nude. That will probably be at the top of the menu bar, given my understanding of human nature. Anything about the movie will be changeable. Or one will be able to insert themselves into any movie or show and experience it first hand in virtual reality. And this line of thought inevitably leads to … maybe we’re already in such a simulation? Beats me.

And on February 8 1963 President Kennedy made it illegal for Americans to travel to or conduct business with Cuba. This was on top of increasing sanctions. It rankles me to this day that our government claims to be defending our freedom, but then prohibits us from, say, travelling to certain countries. I mean, if America were at war with a nation or some such, maybe. We aren’t at war with Cuba, this was almost entirely because Cuba nationalized property owned by American corporations in Cuba. Overlooking the fact that how American corporations acquired large amounts of property in Cuba is shady at best, this is something to be dealt with under international law, not unilateral sanctions that only hurt the people of Cuba. Things were looking up under Obama, but Trump backtracked on that Obama policy too. Claiming that relieving Cuban sanctions was a “one sided deal.” Pretty much like someone who is repeatedly punching someone in the face claiming they won’t stop because “there’s nothing in it for them.” As if that justifies the punching, sigh.

Well, I had intended to cover a few “today in history” tidbits and then comment on current events. Got carried away with history. Let’s see, now that Trump has been acquitted by the GOP, he’s purging his administration of “enemies.” One of the biggest controversies over his SOTU address was that Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of it right afterwards. In other words, ‘all style, no substance’ still rules in Washington. The coronavirus is still spreading, but hopefully it won’t be the end of the world.

And on a personal note, plans for a podcast or two are underway. Someday I might even get a smartphone. Have a great weekend everyone, comments and shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Print, 1904, Japanese battleships exchange fire with Russian battleships in the Battle of Port Arthur. Credit: Torajirō Kasai. Public domain in the United States. It varies in other countries but as the creator and year are listed, so it’s use is apparently legal. It’s in the Library of Congress and on Wikipedia.)

Written by unitedcats

February 8, 2020 at 11:37 am

THE DAY THE DEMOCRACY DIED

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Things just get more and more ridiculous in Washington. Looks like the Senate has basically spiked Trump’s impeachment trial by voting not to call any witnesses. So Trump is expected to be acquitted by as early as next week. No surprise here, there was never any doubt that the GOP controlled Senate would acquit Trump. And if anything Trump’s base is going to be more energized and outraged against Democrats. Plus the whole impeachment trial has all been a huge distraction from Trump gutting environmental regulations and giving away public assets to the rich. It reminded me of the OJ trial, huge numbers of people got sucked into watching that farce too.

And on the flip side of Yesterday’s coin, the Democrats. The DNC blatantly changed the rules of the next debate so that a seat could be sold to a multi-millionaire, Bloomberg. Like the GOP, the Democrats no longer are even pretending to be anything other than part of the corrupt third world dictatorship Washington has evolved into. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sir John Dalberg-Acton said that in the 19th century. And Washington, the most rich and powerful city the world has ever seen, has become corrupt almost beyond comprehension.

Lots of people don’t see it though. Or they see it on the other side, but still have faith that their party will fix things. They don’t see a lot of things. A nation lost in the fog. Though I think it’s a media fog. Americans get their news from corporate owned media outlets that provide content to a targeted demographic, not news. And content that is staggeringly convincing because science has made great strides in propaganda and advertising the past few decades. That’s today’s theory on why America is not marching by the millions on Washington. Some have other theories.

The Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic continues to spread. Trump has used it as an excuse to restrict travel from more Muslim countries. At least Trump is consistent. Even if the virus is contained soon, at this point the economic damage is considerable and rising quickly. Well, the economy of the rich at least, stock markets are taking a hit. We’ll see. There’s always stuff going on that could turn ugly, but sometimes more than other times. This is one of the sometimes more than other times. I’m guessing the chances of a global pandemic with a million or more dead are at least 1% now, interesting times indeed.

Speaking of interesting times, Brexit just happened. The UK leaves the European Union after 47 years. Yikes. What to say? I have very mixed feelings about this. To start out, even though I am reasonably worldly educated, I am way too ignorant about European politics to have strong opinions on this topic. And I don’t see it as a black and white issue. That the vote resulted in Brexit shows that democracy is alive in the UK. I think that’s a good thing. I also posit that the vote to leave the EU is an indication that the EU has failed on some levels  Or maybe humans aren’t really an intelligent species.

Depends on how one defines intelligence. My current thinking is that the human brain is wired for pattern recognition, social beliefs, and pleasure seeking. Not logic. This is what makes us greater than ants, and what may well be the death of us all. Ants are logical, humans aren’t. On the plus side, if I was an ant, I wouldn’t be blogging.

What a freaking week. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The uncompleted U.S. Capitol building in Washington after being burned by a British army in 1814. Credit: George Munger, 1781-1825. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 1, 2020 at 7:47 am