Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Covid-19’ Category

AFTER THE DELUGE

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Well, I didn’t expect flash flood and tornado(!) warnings in NYC while visiting, I thought tornado warnings were an Iowa thing. No tornadoes here in NYC fortunately, but yes, they did have one in New Jersey. Yeesh. I spent much of my childhood in New Jersey, I sure don’t remember tornadoes ever being an issue. Above is a normally busy freeway near where I am staying in NYC. The car in the center was trapped by flooding in front and behind. Behind two partially submerged cars are visible. These folks got to walk home through pouring rain, heaviest rain ever recorded in NYC. More than 40 people dead in the US northeast, hell of a storm.

This of course was the tail end of Hurricane Ida. Killed more people in the northeast than it did on the gulf coast. More people living here, less prepared for this kind of extreme weather event, though that’s just my speculation. What’s not speculation is the huge increase in extreme weather events over the past fifty years: Climate and weather related disasters surge five-fold over 50 years, but early warnings save lives – WMO report. What would save even more lives is if nations took serious measures to combat global warming, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. International cooperation for international good is only a fantasy no matter what governments say.

Covid really made this clear. There’s a great article in the New York Times about it. Since it’s paywalled, I’ll sum it up. Basically it points out that to date there has essentially been no international cooperation in fighting a global pandemic, and essentially every nation including the world’s richest nations only took care of their own, leaving the rest of the world to fend for itself. Well, almost none. The one thing they did do was cooperate to make sure the international finance system kept running smoothly, so while most people on Earth suffered from Covid one way tother, the rich continued to get richer.

In other words, when Reagan once speculated that humanity would pull together in the face of an alien threat, he was laughably naive. Covid is most definitely a global alien threat, and humanity is most definitely not pulling together to face it. Even crazier, the cost to do so would be trivial and easily affordable, and the cost of not doing so will be staggering. This bodes very ill for future global threats, in fact by letting Covid run rampant, there’s a good chance it will mutate into a much more terrible threat. Fun times. Read the article if one can: Opinion | What if the Coronavirus Crisis Was Just a Trial Run?

And the global media isn’t helping. Most of it’s not really even journalism anymore, just clickbait infotainment. When not actually repackaged government/corporate propaganda. Critical thinking not welcome. In this vein, I came across an article on the Today site. I’m not familiar with the site, but superficially it appears to be a “legitimate” news and information site, not some sort of Onion knock-off. They are reviewing a documentary from the History Channel: History Channel doc reveals key discovery in Bermuda Triangle. First of all, the idea that a legitimate news site would take the History Channel seriously is bad enough, but here’s the first two paragraphs:

“It’s a mystery that has endured for 76 years in a fabled area that many sailors and aviators have long said contains supernatural forces we don’t understand.

On Dec. 5, 1945, 14 airmen flying five World War II torpedo bombers called Avengers took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale on a routine training mission over the Bermuda Triangle and were never seen again. The U.S. Navy even sent a Martin Mariner search plane out at the time to find the missing aircraft, and that plane and it’s crew of 13 also disappeared.”

Um, how to say this, all bollocks? The only mystery is why anyone thinks there’s a mystery. Millions of people including countless aviators and sailors travel through the Bermuda Triangle every single day without giving it a second thought, let alone invoking supernatural hogwash. The disappearance of Flight 19 was well investigated and well understood at the time, and only became a “mystery” in the 1960s when an author invented “The Bermuda Triangle” and simply made up all sorts of details about Flight 19 to make its loss seem spooky. Ending up with a blatant lie, the Martin Mariner caught fire, crashed, and exploded shortly after takeoff. The Martin Mariner’s not-so-affectionate nickname was “The Flying Gas Tank,” so catching fire and exploding was a not uncommon occurrence. No cause of the fire and explosion was ever determined, but this was 1945 and the black box wouldn’t be invented for another decade. There’s no reason to assume anything supernatural occurred, it was just another plane crash in an era where planes were nowhere near as safe as they are today.

End rant. Well, I’ve got more links, but I guess that’s enough for now. I also had an epiphany a week ago that completely changed my worldview. Still processing it all, but I suppose it’s worth writing about at some point. It caused me to lose all desire to drink for one thing, which in and of itself is a very strange feeling. Life, you grow and then you die. Though frankly the growth part seems optional for many people. C’est la vie. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Freeway near NYC. Credit and Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 3, 2021 at 4:25 pm

COVIDIOCY RAGES ON

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Covid rages on. I was feeling maybe it was odd to post yet again about Covid, then I realized that’s BS thinking. The Covid pandemic the worst mass death event of my life, the third or fourth worst mass death event in US history, killing more than a thousand people a day still. World War Two only killed about 200 people a day, Vietnam only about 10 per day, and those were top daily news for the duration. That a huge number of Americans and their chosen media/political spokespeople want to pretend Covid is no big deal or it’s almost over is their fantasy, no need to let it infect my thinking.

Officially the US death toll is approaching seven hundred thousand. That’s nearly one American in every five hundred dead. Most of us have lost a friend or loved one to Covid. Unofficially, and in reality, the death toll is around one million dead. That’s because a lot of Covid deaths go unreported, and more importantly, the strain on a health care system overwhelmed with Covid patients means people die because they couldn’t get treatment, this fellow being a good example: Veteran Dies Of Treatable Issue Because ICU Beds Are Filled With COVID Cases. One million dead Americans. How can that not be the top of the news while the pandemic is still raging? Beats me, I chalk it up to a normal human impulse to pretend everything is fine, especially when urged on by their political and religious leaders to think everything is fine.

In many ways it comes down to people not wanting to listen to the experiences of others. This is a fine take on it, including the terrible price paid by so many public Covid and vaccine deniers (Spoiler, they died of Covid:) Leonard Pitts Jr.: The wisdom of experience is a priceless gift … that many spurn. Or as a young friend once put it: “Never give advice. Fools won’t heed it and the wise don’t need it.” She was paraphrasing Ben Franklin, a wise man if there ever was one. A couple other cases just for fun: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus and QAnon conspiracist dies from COVID-19 he called a hoax to the very end.

On the plus side, Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers are dropping like flies. At this point I have zero sympathy for people who die of Covid because they refused to get vaccinated or otherwise take precautions against Covid. Covid is getting more dangerous: New strain in deadly delta variant surfaces after 53,000-person festival: report. Sadly a lot of people who were taking precautions are dying now, have since the beginning, since the anti-vaxxers and their ilk make the situation worse for everyone, especially when in positions of power: Florida police departments rocked by 29 COVID deaths as DeSantis bungles pandemic response. Basically as Covid mutates into more dangerous forms America’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Getting More Dangerous.

And frankly some people are getting tired of it: It’s time to listen to the ‘adults’ and ignore those who refuse the COVID vaccines: national security expert. I’m certainly tired of it. Mandatory measures to protect public health are perfectly reasonable. It’s kinda the whole effing point of civilization. The rest of the world is getting tired of it too: Covid: EU recommends new travel restrictions for US as cases rise. Sadly while many US states are doing everything they can to fight Covid, some aren’t, and Covid deaths will continue. One has to wonder where we’d be if concerted national efforts to fight Covid had been launched from the get go, at the very least a lot fewer Americans would be dead.

It’s just weird living in a country where rampant stupidity is the norm in some quarters: Shane Vaughn Claims COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Work Because The US Is Under God’s Judgment. First of all, the vaccines work just fine. The vast majority of people catching Covid in the USA now were unvaccinated. Secondly, what is it with Evangelicals and their obsession with what consenting adults do with their genitals? Frankly it’s a perverted obsession, especially the idea that some sort of “supreme being” is also concerned about it. One would think any sort of loving God would be concerned about murder, rape, and children being molested; not gay people having sex.

Speaking of imagining a God concerned about weird things: ‘Get a Brain’: Hank Kunneman Warns of Dire Consequences if Trump Is Not Reinstated. Um, not even sure where to start. Trump, the most unpopular president in modern times, lost his reelection bid. Not debatable, but that doesn’t stop Trump and his supporters continuing his “the election was stolen” lie.  I think that’s one of the things I most hate about Trump, he’s completely normalized politicians lying through their teeth. Like this whopper: Lindsey Graham: ‘Whose decision was it to pull all of the troops out… I just don’t know’. Of course he knows, it was Trump that signed the deal with the Taliban to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

The theory that I died in my fall two and a half years ago and the ever increasing ignorance, stupidity, lies, death, and confusion since is just some sort of Donny Darko madness in my dying brain seems more credible all the time. What can I say, dark depressing times both in the nation at large and what’s left of my personal life. Fun times. Have a great week and stay safe everyone, especially those in Louisiana.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit: This Is Fine creator explains the timelessness of his meme.)

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2021 at 5:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

COVID CONTINUES, GLOBAL WARMING, AFGHANISTAN, TRUMP VS BIDEN FOLLIES, HOMICIDAL LANDLORD, ETC.

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Well, here’s an interesting headline: New Zealand enters nationwide lockdown over one Covid case. Imagine that, a nation where the government and citizens do what needs to be done to prevent the spread of a terrible disease. In America, that’s the stuff of fantasy. Not sure when the last time was that American pulled together for the common good, certainly not in my adult lifetime. Depressing, especially since so many Americans have become so partisan that they can’t even imagine working together.

In other Covid news, the anti-vaxxers and their ilk continue to spread their toxic nonsense, like the idea that vaccines are the problem. No, no they aren’t: Are vaccines driving the emergence of “escape mutant” variants of COVID-19? Basically as far as I can recall people spreading pseudoscientific nonsense have never turned out to be right while established science was wrong. Granted established science is regularly updated as scientists learn new things, but invariably it’s updated by other scientists.

And in the other ongoing catastrophe, the drought in the American west is worse than ever: U.S. declares first Western reservoir water shortage, triggering cuts. At this point it’s worse than the Dust Bowl of nearly 100 years ago. Basically scientists increasingly are no longer calling it a drought, it’s desertification at this point. Even back in the 80s desertification was becoming a problem in parts of the American west, it’s much worse today:  The Western drought is worse than you think. Here’s why. And this is very much a part and parcel of global warming, but the well funded global warming denial industry is still doing just fine. Will humans essentially destroy their planet because the richest industry the world has ever known is perfectly fine with continuing their profits no matter what the cost to future generations? Looks like it. It’s not hopeless yet, but without serious action, we’re screwed.

Lastly, yes, Afghanistan is still in the news. It’s a horrifying situation, just the images of people clinging to the outside of airplanes and falling to their deaths is heartbreaking. Western media coverage is really depressing too, though frankly I find western media coverage of almost everything pretty depressing these days. In my youth the major media outlets were actual independent media outlets. This story: Soldier son’s Afghanistan sacrifice was ‘all for nothing’. Yes, yes it was. And even if the US had decided to stay, it was still for nothing. The horrifying thing about stories like this is the implication that further for nothing sacrifices would somehow magically make their son’s loss meaningful. And no, American troops weren’t “protecting America from terror” while in Afghanistan.

What a mess. Gotta love this though: The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan. It was contradicting Trump’s current schtick … everything bad in Afghanistan is Biden’s fault! Pretty much Trump in a nutshell, he was the greatest president ever, and everything bad in America was someone else’s fault. I’d say the man spews nothing but lies, but I think he actually believes them:  Trump spews lies about Covid on Fox Business: ‘It was virtually gone when I left — it was over’. He’s kinda like the leader or CEO who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes me, except in Trump’s case there are tens of millions of them, people absolutely convinced that Trump is the world’s saviour. So convinced they come up with memes like this:

OK then. A nation gone mad. Like this: Landlord Accused of Killing 2 Tenants Told Police He Handled Eviction ‘His Way’. Well, I guess that’s one way to handle tenants who owe back rent. A horrible evil counterproductive way. Yes, Americans are about $20 billion behind on rent now due to Covid eviction moratoriums. Yes, the gentle reader heard that right. 20 billion dollars. Basically nothing in the greater scheme of things. America’s billionaires have gained like a trillion dollars since Covid started, one fiftieth of that could pay off all the back rent in America. Or in another way, about .05% of the Federal government’s annual income. Ain’t gonna happen I expect, but who knows. Biden managed to get a pared down infrastructure bill passed, that surprised me.

Strange days. A third of the country thinks Trump is a God. Another third thinks Biden is some sort of FDR reborn. The last third is watching Scrubs reruns. Or writing blogs no one reads. Maybe other stuff, I don’t get out as much as I should. On the plus side I finally managed to find a dentist who fixed the horrible pain I have been experiencing for months. It only cost me my grocery money for the next couple of months. I’ll go from being a pain addled blogger to a starving one. Donors welcome. Good times! Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

August 18, 2021 at 12:41 pm

PRESIDENT TRUMP RETURNS, GOP CHILD SACRIFICES, MISINFORMATION TRIFECTA, AND DEAD FLIES?

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Will Trump be returning to the White House this week as predicted? Short answer: No. Long answer: No!!!! By Friday according to the My Pillow guy. He’s holding some sort of marathon presentation where he’s going to be on stage live for 72 hours: ‘I’m staying up here for 72 hours’: Mike Lindell abruptly cancels food breaks at his ‘cyber symposium’. OK then. I’d say this was crazy, but that would be ableist, and not terribly helpful. I put “Trump will return!” in the same category as all “revealed” predictions. Predicting the end of the world, the return of Christ, when the aliens will arrive, etc. has been a popular human activity since at least 2800BC. My favorite:

“Drawing from theology and astrology, German prophet Johann Jacob Zimmerman determined that the world would end in the fall of 1694. Zimmerman gathered a group of pilgrims and made plans to go to America to welcome Jesus back to Earth. However, he died in February of that year, on the very day of departure. Johannes Kelpius took over leadership of the cult, which was known as Woman in the Wilderness, and they completed their journey to the New World. Fall came and went and, needless to say, the cultists were profoundly disappointed at having traveled all the way across the Atlantic just to be stood up by Jesus.”

The predicted return of Trump is just another chapter in this long history. Something for sociologists, historians, and psychologists to ponder. I think the people promoting these things are either charlatans or genuine believers, doesn’t really make a difference. The thing to note is that when the prediction fails to materialize, as will be the case here, the proponents of same will just change the date of the prediction and carry on, and most of their followers will likely continue to follow. And if I’m wrong and Trump is back in the White House on Friday, it will be a great blog topic!

And while we are on the topic of huge numbers of people believing stuff that just ain’t so, Covid denial continues to rage in the USA. Yes folks, more than a year after the worst plague in living memory started, huge numbers of Americans are still in denial about it. Well, not this guy: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus. No other developed country has this sort of widespread Covid denial, so of course the US remains the worst hit developed country. More than a million dead, more than one American in 300, and even many of our leaders are still in denial: ‘They can’t arrest all of us’: Rand Paul calls for defiance against COVID-19 restrictions. It’s as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and more than a year later huge numbers of Americans were still insisting it’s all a hoax.

If it was only the people in denial coming to harm, it would be both stupid and amusing: Pharmacists Fight Off COVID Truthers Demanding Horse Medicine Instead of the Jab. Sadly, no, some of our leaders are going so far as to actually prevent efforts to fight Covid. Specifically in schools, which are set to open soon. People who proudly claim they are “Christians” and “pro-life” are actively preventing measures to fight Covid spreading among children. The GOP’s death cult comes for the kids. I don’t know what to make of this, other than I am horrified. If one’s politics leads one to fight efforts to prevent the spread of a horrible disease, I think one’s politics are messed up.

So much misinformation out there. The good doctor has written a fine piece about the basics of spreading it. It’s actually fairly simple. First, come up with your misinformation, be it creationism, vaccine denial, whatever. Then attack the legitimacy of any and all expert opinions, leading to modern America where all opinions are treated as equal. Lastly, scream freedom of speech if efforts are made to stop the spread of your misinformation. The doctor covers it in more detail: The Misinformation Trifecta | NeuroLogica Blog. Sadly of course this process has been increasingly weaponised by bad actors using the sciences of advertising and propaganda.

I miss my youth. Yes, there was a fringe of silliness and science denial in America, but for the most part science and learning were lauded, and the news sources all pretty much agreed on the facts. Good times. Now America is increasingly resembling a medieval nation ruled by superstition and fear. Hell if I know the answer. Afghanistan in the next blog, America’s longest war, and contender for the most counterproductive war. Today though, I’ll end with a useful scientific discovery, one hopefully uncontroversial enough that everyone can appreciate it. What happens to flies that are shooed out the car window at highway speeds? Everyone has wondered that, right? Science has the answer: Do Flies Survive When They Fly Out Your Car Window At Highway Speeds?

Hope all are having a safe and cool week. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so at the earliest opportunity. The life you save may be yours. Or a loved one’s …

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

August 11, 2021 at 8:03 pm

SHARED IDIOCY, TRUMP, AND RELATED TOPICS

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I’m back! I was depressed by the flanking fire from my sister a few posts ago, but tearing each other down is what my family does. So the fact that almost none of them speak to me is a good thing. Oh, Happy Mother’s Day everyone. I miss my mom, but no one lives forever. No one that we know about at least. Though the idea that people may someday be able to hibernate is looking less science fictiony all the time. And I suppose having one’s brain copied is a form of immortality. We can’t build a brain from a recording … yet. Still, science could record sounds decades before they could play them back. That’s why there’s actually a minuscule chance that Lincoln’s voice was recorded and is lurking in some dusty attic somewhere. And the brain recording, a company is planning on offering the service, but it does have a downside: A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal”

So, the meme above. Sigh. No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. As one commenter posted: “The post is a series of logical errors.” As a friend put it: “This needs to go under the title ‘Conservatives Trying to Define Socialism but Just End Up Describing Capitalism Again.’” I’ll give it a brief review: 1) No one is suggesting legislating anyone out of prosperity. So straw man argument, typical GOP fear mongering. 2) Yes, that’s actually the problem, the rich are getting vastly more than their share, and it’s not like they’re working harder. The working class is literally subsidizing the rich through their labor. The author of course intended it as another version of the “welfare queen” myth, which is just that, a myth. 3) Yes, that’s how taxes work. Again, the author is just regurgitating the GOP welfare queen myth. 4) A friend got this one: “4 is just plain false. Economics is a big, weird subject, not very intuitive, and not a zero sum game. Dividing wealth among more people will – almost always – increase the economic power of the whole. Much, much more so than collecting wealth in only a few hands. Oligarchical Russia is not a wealthy nation. Dictatorial North Korea is not wealthy. The USA has millions of people below the poverty line. These nations WOULD be wealthier if wealth was more evenly distributed, because more people would be more productive.” 5) A weird GOP fantasy that half of people don’t want to work, and that the other half are subsidizing them. It’s completely at odds with reality. Most people are working hard while the profits are stolen by the rich. Basically the meme is an example of magical thinking, not logic: The magical thinking of guys who love logic

So the Trump takeover of the GOP is rolling right along, looks like Liz Cheney is on her way out: Analysis: With Cheney’s impending ouster, the GOP chooses Trump over principle. They’re choosing Trump’s delusions over reality. I think the GOP gave up principle after 9/11. Hell, Reagan really. The Dems caught on, they gave it up under Clinton. Hell, in some senses they all gave it up when America was founded on high minded principles … plus slavery, ethnic cleansing, and oligarchy. The concept of inalienable human rights is a good thing, but it still needs to be universally implemented.

Trump taking over the GOP, Covid continues. Global COVID-19 death toll more than double official estimates – IHME. No surprise there, governments always lie about mass death tolls. Wars especially, casualty counts in wars are always under reported. America is hit with a double whammy, not only are Covid deaths under reported, right wing delusions are making it worse: Tucker Carlson Doubles Down on Batsh** Vaccine Fearmongering and Fox News Torpedoed COVID-19 Science Hundreds Of Times Since January, Watchdog Says.

It’s just so weird living in America now. The worst global health crisis in a century, and America’s response to it has been frighteningly incompetent. And simultaneously seeing the rise of a cult-like leader along the lines of Saddam, Hitler, Mao, and so many others. My personal life being a series of catastrophes the past year hasn’t helped. I even had my heart broken this spring. You’d think at my age I could avoid such things, yeah, snort.

Have a great week everyone. Try not to get Covid. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Agnostic.com, attribution unknown, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 9, 2021 at 7:05 pm

CUTE COUPLES, INDIA, COVID, TRUMP, AND NEWS BITS

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I stumbled on this lovely World War One image. Two Australian soldiers in an R&R area in France, 1918. Cute couple, eh? One has to wonder what sort of R&R they were engaging in before the photographer showed up. It wasn’t a more innocent age, it was just an age where gay people stayed in the closet for the most part, and most people pretended they didn’t exist. Although the “hate gays” cadre was still active, Oscar Wilde was jailed for homosexual acts. Even then, like Socrates and his Hemlock, Wilde more or less chose jail as a form of protest. He was a man ahead of his time.

Speaking of cute couples, I also stumbled on this today: Lesbian couple voted king and queen of their high school prom. Some days my blog almost writes itself. They were surprised they got elected; high school prom king and queen is usually a popularity contest, so they must be nice kids. Don’t read the comments on the link  though. Lots of, well, Christian hate. Well, not really Christian hate, what I’ve read about Christ indicates he was for love and inclusivity, not hate and exclusivity. And their hatred isn’t based on Christ’s teachings, it’s based on their interpretation of “God’s” teachings in the Old Testament.

Which is frankly, nuts. If I said that my invisible giant rabbit superfriend was going to torture everyone forever after they die if they don’t wear a red hat 24/7, people would rightfully think I was nuts. Especially if I insisted that 24/7 red hat wearing should be made compulsory under the law of the land, and that my rabbit superfriend was responsible for tornadoes and such which were punishment for not wearing the hats. Yet that’s what people on the Evangelical Right do as a matter of course.

One comment about the lesbian couple was, ‘How are they going to have kids?’  The commenter wasn’t being ironic or facetious either. Let’s see, lots of heterosexual couples are incapable of procreating, so they shouldn’t be couples? And like those same heterosexual couples, they can adopt. In fact the reason homosexuality appears to be common in the animal world is it provides couples to raise orphaned or abandoned children.  Oh, and in the case of lesbian couples, all making a baby requires is a turkey baster, some distilled water, and a donor. Voila, baster baby. And best of all for the people that claim to be “pro-life,” homosexual couples never have unwanted pregnancies. No abortions, and every child born is a wanted child.

So yeah. Homosexuality is a feature, not a bug. So, other news of the day. Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. Paraphrased: Worms living in caves under the Amazon Forest cut off from the surface for tens of thousands of years care about this more than I do. Moving right along, Covid is exploding in India. All due to a Trump of their own: Prime Minister Modi’s culpability for India’s COVID crisis has become startlingly clear. What a nightmare, India’s capitol lit up at night by all the funeral pyres. I thought this would be happening last summer, I was wrong. Covid, the gift that keeps giving.

In the US it looks like herd immunity isn’t going to happen. Because of people like these:Former GOP congressional candidate says vaccinating people is the ‘modern day Holocaust’ and Rick Wiles Says COVID-19 Vaccines Are a Plot to Carry Out ‘Global Genocide’. The last half of my life has seen the rise of a world dominated by conspiracy theories. I knew when the anti-vaxxers first hit the ground that they were a new breed. A conspiracy theory so anti-reality that it would kill people. The anti-vaxxers have likely already contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, and Covid is their shining light, they can indeed be one of the deadliest cults in human history. In fact their, well, lunacy, is reaching new heights: “The vaccinated are a danger to the unvaccinated because of shedding!”: The latest COVID-19 antivaccine disinformation.

Lastly, I’m not the only one frightened by the GOP turning into a personality cult based on Trump’s Big Lie: NYT Columnist Warns People Are Being Lulled Into False Security. What a time to be alive. Trump is the Abraham of our times. Have a great week everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Public Domain World War One image, colorizer credit in the image.)

Written by unitedcats

May 4, 2021 at 9:23 am

LIFE IS ABOUT FINDING A SAFE PLACE TO REST

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Life is about finding a safe place to rest. Working is easy, for most of us. Finding a safe place to rest, trickier. Nowhere is every really fully safe of course, cosmic debris can get one anytime, anywhere. Still, most of us in the west have it pretty good. However, even if one finds a safe spot from outer demons, the inner ones remain. Maslow didn’t account for them. Kafka tried.

I notice a lot of people are writing “One Year of Covid” posts. True enough I suppose. I wondered when I first began to be alarmed, and I’m pleased to say that by late February 2020 I was already very concerned about Covid and blogging about it regularly. Maybe pleased isn’t quite the right word, relieved? I was right! (“Extremists are only valuable to have around when they are right.” — Anonymous.) I’m an extremist in the global disaster sense, I knew early on that Covid was a big deal, that every precaution to avoid getting it should be taken, and I urged others to do the same.

A year later, what’s the deal? About 750,000 Americans have died of Covid, about ten million have long term health deficits from Covid. Yeah, the official death toll is just over 500,000, but the excess deaths, deaths above the normal death rate, are about 50% higher. And Covid is the only thing that accounts for it. 3rd or 4th worst mass death event in US history, and it’s still not over yet. And not likely to be anytime soon, Covid is mutating rapidly and it’s already clear that vaccines will need constant updates. The flu from hell is here to stay.

Amazingly enough, people have normalized Covid in many ways. It’s not like a war. October 1918 was the deadliest month in US history, dwarfing all else. Yet few Americans know that, forgotten in history, because they died of the flu. The same now, just under one in every four hundred Americans dead, vastly worse than 9/11 (250 times worse) … and Covid is just background noise in the media. Life goes on I guess. Some people still think Covid is a hoax or exaggerated. It’s their social knowledge. Social knowledge is a powerful thing. Rules us all really. This is important to let me clarify. Social knowledge is what one’s tribe believes to be true about the world.

And until the Age of Science, social knowledge was all people had outside of their own limited experience. And we’re a tribal animal, it’s very important that the tribe members all live in the same reality. So it’s not surprising that people are prone to adapting the shared world view (another term for social knowledge) of their friends, family, and community. And since we all have a need to understand the world, or make sense of it at least, people who claim to explain the world can become very popular. Messiah’s are common, and some do indeed change the world.

Christ, Buddha, Muhammad come to mind. Trump is another, though who knows how long term his effect will be. Q as well. The popularity of both is perfectly normal human behaviour. Will they be temporary disturbances in the force, or will they ripple down through history? Will there be a church of Trump or Q? Damned if I know. I’d give both at least a 1% chance of seeding something long term. Today’s theory is that Q is an AI or an alien (or an alien AI,) experimenting on the human race. Might be benevolent, benign, or malignant. Ancient aliens theory is quaint compared to my suspicions about aliens, nu?

Here in northern Iowa, winter came back, but it’s rapidly leaving again. I’m going to plant flowers, and when I get my second Covid shot, I’m leaving too! I’m going to drive around the country, see stuff, take pictures, and blog. And since there are people out there, even if it violates the introverts’ code, I will sometimes talk to them. Shudder. Hopefully they will say something worth blogging about. And with any luck I will find nice spots to rest in briefly while I am at it. A man can dream.

Stay safe everyone. As always, comments, likes, patrons appreciated.   #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Picture I took of the frozen lake and seawall just before winter ended the first. I photoshopped out a second ice fishing hut, and I’m pleased with the image I created. It was a magical sunset.)

Written by unitedcats

March 18, 2021 at 7:27 pm

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

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The good news is that I got my first shot of the Pfizer Covid vaccine yesterday. The bad news is that I’m having a bad reaction to it, basically similar to a head cold. Having a reaction to a vaccine wasn’t on my bucket list, but here I am anyhow. On the plus side, it means it’s working. Still, my head is too logy to think straight, let alone blog. Sigh. So I just wanted to post and let my two or three faithful readers know I’m fine, and will resume blogging tomorrow. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Public domain image from Snappygoat. I don’t think that fish is getting vaccinated against Covid, if so I missed a memo somewhere.)

Written by unitedcats

March 11, 2021 at 6:43 pm

Posted in 2021, Covid-19, Personal

STAN STYCH: “BE NICE TO EACH OTHER.”

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“Be nice to each other.” That was my father’s last message to me. He passed earlier this afternoon. 22 February 2021. He died of Covid, and a broken heart. I’m at sea, my father and I weren’t close, in many ways we never understood each other, but he was a good man, and he tried. Now all is gone. He was a kid in the 30s, a teenager during the war. In Canada. Went on to college and became an engineer. Got into sales and management, then to CEO. Had many insights on that. And he raised four kids, all of whom are good people. Loved two women, both of whom preceded him in passing. He loved to fish. He loved photography. He skied.

I guess you’d call my father one of the depression generation, before people stated this whole stupid gen whatever crap. He grew up on a Ontario family farm in the depression: They plowed using horses, heated their house with coal stoves, had an outhouse, and the only running water was a hand pump well in the back kitchen. A radio was it for entertainment. A different world from the one most people alive in the west grew up in.

Stan Stych. He lived through the 1930s depression (he only survived childhood because of penicillin,) World War Two, the Cold War*, the Sixties, and all that followed. All history now, part of the lost country. He’ll live on in my heart and my dreams so long as I live. That’s him on the left above, San Francisco behind, taken from Alcatraz. Circa 2009. My father was a complicated man, we had a complicated relationship. Life’s like that. The world is a complicated place.

I’m doing what the Stych tradition dictates, carrying the soul of the dearly departed to the next life on a sea of alcohol. A tradition that has no doubt been practised by so many families for countless generations. My father made the world a better place, I can only hope to do the same. I love you dad, I’ll miss you.

Five hundred thousand dead of Covid in the USA, I thought my dad was safe in Canada. No one is safe from Covid. It is a nightmare disease. I may take a break from blogging for a few days. Stay safe gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. (Text and image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 22, 2021 at 9:55 pm