Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Covid-19’ Category

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

RUSH LIMBAUGH, THE MAN WHO CONFLATED PATRIOTISM WITH ‘HATE THY NEIGHBOR,’ IS DEAD. GOOD.

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I’m not normally one to celebrate someone’s death, but there are the rare cases where I will make an exception. Rush Limbaugh is one of those cases. Hell, the first case, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so unconflicted happy that someone died. This was a man who devoted his life to persuading Americans to blindly hate their fellow Americans for no other reason than differences of opinion. More than anyone else Rush created the divided America we live in today where a third of Americans fear and hate anyone who doesn’t think in lockstep with them. When I was younger Republicans and Democrats disagreed, but generally got along fine outside of politics. Name calling and accusing the other of wanting to destroy America was in the fringe, not mainstream. This is a guy who said (paraphrased) we should keep two liberals alive in every town on display so people can see what they were. If that’s not mindless hatred, I don’t know what is.

Rush also normalized name-calling as a mainstream thing. Referring to people one disagrees with as ‘libtards’ or ‘feminazis’ isn’t political disagreement or debate, it’s dehumanizing one’s political opponents so that their viewpoints don’t have to be considered, let alone discussed. Name calling is just one of the many false arguments and logical fallacies Rush normalized. People say, why not just listen to what he has to say! I did, on a number of occasions. A third of what he said was just insults and name calling. A third was just lies. (Another truly special form of false argument.) And the last third was just false arguments strung together. They sound terribly convincing to people who agree with his conclusions, but aren’t actually logical arguments at all.

Just one example from when I listened to him. Rush claimed that a study showed that if California adopted health care for all, it would cost more than the state’s entire existing budget. Right, let’s think about this. Every other developed nation on Earth has universal health care, at far less cost than Americans pay, but California, far richer than pretty much all of them, can’t possibly afford it? Safe to say that this “study” was conducted by America’s corporate “profit off of sick people” health care disaster. And Rush was carrying water for them. Yeah, he cared about Americans. Snort.

Rush was not a conservative either. Or more accurately, he changed the definition of conservative into “someone who hates and fears anyone who isn’t a conservative.” Eisenhower would have been appalled. Hell, even Reagan would likely have been appalled. Hating other Americans is neither conservative nor Christian, but Rush worked very hard to change the definition of conservative into hate-mongering, false argument spewing fools. Good job Rush, tearing a country in two is a real accomplishment.

And then Covid came along. I always wondered if Rush’s schtick was just an act, and he was laughing all the way to the bank. Then America faced the worst crisis of his life, one that cried out for an apolitical science and reason cased response. What did he say? “Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” And millions of his followers believed him, and all the other BS about Covid being some sort of Democratic hoax to make Trump look bad. And hundreds of thousands of people who could have lived are dead as a result. Good going Rush, like Trump, you could have helped lead America and the world in the fight against Covid. You chose ignorance and partisanship instead.

And Trump gave Rush a Medal of Freedom. That Trump gave it to him, and he accepted it pretty much sums both of them up. I was hoping that maybe when Rush was diagnosed with fatal cancer he might change his tune. People can change. Carnegie was a rat bastard all his life, but in his old age he spent nearly a trillion dollars in today’s money on public works. Rush didn’t ever change. If there’s a heaven and a hell, I know where Rush is going. Jesus and so many others told us to love our neighbor, not hate and fear him.

I dunno, kind of a negative post. I think humans all need to work together, we are all in the same boat. I just think that those who devote their life to demonizing other humans are part of the problem, not part of the solution. I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument to the contrary. Maybe Rush’s death heralds the end of an era, the one man who really took up his mantle (a certain former president) may also be on a downward spiral. Hate isn’t going to fix America, it’s time to move on. Yeah, I’m an optimist.

My father still lives. Spring is around the corner. Life goes on. Stay safe and warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Public Domain image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 17, 2021 at 9:51 pm

DARK DAYS, A PERSONAL BLOG POST

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I’m sorry readers, no archeology post tonight. I was looking forward to it, I was going to share my theory that Stonehenge was all just an amusing misunderstanding. However I’m too out of it for a coherent post tonight, but going to come up with what I can. Basically my father is on his deathbed. He’s pushing 90, and has Covid. Worse, or better, depending on one’s viewpoint, he’s pretty much refusing all but palliative care. He might pull through, but not looking very encouraging at this point. He’s had a long full life, he knows that a full recovery from Covid is unlikely, and if it’s his time to go, he accepts it.

I think he wants to avoid the fate of his father, my grandfather. He outlived three wives (one of whom died in his arms,) went blind, and spent the last years of his life pretty much wishing he’d died younger. I can see why someone might want to avoid that. My dad thought he’d avoided that fate because my stepmom was 20 years his junior. They were a really happy couple. Then she got ALS and passed in her fifties. Dad never really got over that. Love is a wonderful thing, but it usually ends with some sadness on someone’s part.

So I’m more or less on deathwatch, waiting to see if my father lives or dies. One of those life events that no matter how much one knows it is coming, one is never really prepared for it. I was lucky, I lived until my forties without losing anyone close. Since then, yeah, death happens. Always hard. Even an ignostic such as I takes comfort in the idea that maybe there is another side where our passed loved ones wait for us. Seems unlikely, but I’ll find out sooner or later. Or not find out if there isn’t. As Mark Twain said “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Covid I fear. Now that it has struck close to home, my anger and hatred toward Rush, Trump, and all those who made Covid far worse than it had to be in the US and the world is reaching new heights. Millions of Americans, not to mention many foreigners, are experiencing or have experienced the loss of loved ones to Covid because of Trump and companies reality denying nonsense. Rush: “It’s just a cold folks.” Trump: “It will all be gone by Easter!” Yeah, the nightmare is far different. Trump could have led America and the world in the fight against Covid, saving hundreds of thousands,  if not millions of lives. All he had to do was follow science and reason, previous administrations had planned and prepared for something like Covid. Instead Trump, Rush, and their ilk chose to politicise and cripple America’s response to Covid. Trump is literally the world’s number one global purveyor of false Covid information.

I won’t be consumed by anger and hatred though, life is too short. It is what it is. And I can take pleasure that in the long run, Trump’s legacy will be to be remembered as the worst American president ever. His cultists may think differently, but history is not kind to cult leaders, for good or for ill, accomplishments are what counts. A rusting pointless wall on the border will be Trump’s greatest legacy. Ozymandius understands.

I hope you make it dad. I love you. And if your druthers is to not carry on, I can accept that. Stay safe and warm gentle readers, appreciate your loved ones while they are still here. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A crow in a tree, crows are psychopomps. Public Domain image from Snappygoat.)

Written by unitedcats

February 16, 2021 at 9:33 pm

Posted in 2021, Covid-19, Personal, Trump

TRUMP WON’T BE CONVICTED, WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

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I think the chances of Trump being convicted by the Senate are essentially zero. The vote may happen as early as Saturday. I haven’t been following the impeachment much, because what’s the point? There’s really no question of Trump’s guilt, but the GOP Senators either don’t care, completely live in a fantasy world where the Capitol Insurrection Riot was somehow a Libtard False Flag attempt to make Trump look bad, or worse, think it was justified. Trump himself once said: “I Could Stand In the Middle Of Fifth Avenue And Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters.” He might as well have said “I could stand on the National Mall and incite a mob to storm the Capitol and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” His defense team is playing to their choir, not making any actual attempt to defend him. Trump encouraging his followers to storm the capitol to prevent Biden being certified as president is indefensible in any real world sense. The GOP is now a personality cult no longer living in the real world, so they, and their followers, see nothing to defend.

I have no idea what happens next, but I can speculate. Trump will likely run again in 2024, there doesn’t appear to be any way to prevent that unless he is convicted at his impeachment trial. I expect the GOP and Trump will spend the next four years doing everything in their considerable power to sabotage the Biden administration. They live in a world where they are God’s favorites, and Biden is evil incarnate. The few republicans who have stayed on the side of sanity in all this will be shown the door and replaced with Marjorie Taylor Greene clones. I think Roe vs Wade will effectively be gutted, if not overturned entirely. The only way Biden could really fight all this would be to pass the sorts of progressive legislation that most Americans crave, and would dramatically improve the lives of Americans. Medicare for all and raising the minimum wage back to a living wage alone would do it. I doubt that’s going to happen, the bottom line is that the Dems serve the same corporate masters that the GOP does, neither party represents the average working class American anymore.

The country will become more polarised than ever, and political violence is certainly a strong possibility. The police will continue to kill people with impunity, the rich will get ever richer, Covid will continue to inflict a terrible toll. And Biden has already made it perfectly clear that our imperial wars will continue unabated. The nation’s infrastructure, schools, and health care system will continue to decline. Crime rates, especially violent crime, have been trending up the past year and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. The most powerful country and empire the world has ever known is ruled by a fantasy/religious driven personality cult and a political party that is corruption personified. Rome never did particularly well under co-emperors, and I can’t see the US doing so either.

So yeah, the glass is half empty and the other half is full of shit. This is America. On the plus side, all sorts of exciting stuff is likely to happen, and we can look forward to endless outrage from all quarters. And it’s a golden age for bloggers! Even though we are kind of old hat now. Writing is what I do, and I will continue to do.

Today was going to be miscellaneous links that I didn’t get around to this week, but alas, couldn’t help ranting about the impeachment and the sad state of the republic. I have a few though to round out the week with. There’s this for starters: Psychoanalyst Justin Frank: Capitol riot was a source of incredible pleasure’ for Trump. At least Trump’s state of mind is endlessly fascinating in a morbid sort of way. This analyst thinks that Trump does indeed believe he won the election. And since Trump is a Covid survivor, this is more important than ever: Post COVID-19 brain-related symptoms may be common, study indicates. There’s still people out there who think Covid is a hoax. America, land of the deluded.

It’s been a hard week for me, thus the image of a tired cat. And at least one more week of near or below zero temperatures here in Northern Iowa. A few years back the snow was gone and the lake unfroze by late February. Not this year. Stay safe and warm everyone. Double masking is now recommended, I wear a really tight mask with an extra filter inside. Why the hell would I want to risk getting a disease that infects my brain for God’s sake? Oh, have a great weekend everyone, I will resume blogging on Monday. Likes, shares, comments all appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. Tired cat. Credit: Public Domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 12, 2021 at 7:32 pm

NUMBAT THURSDAY

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That’s a numbat. I had never heard of numbats before. It’s now my new favorite animal. Like many Australian animals, the numbat looks as if it was designed by a committee. In this case a committee of eight year olds. And in this case, the end result works. It looks cute, determined, and inquisitive at the same time. A cross between a fox and a chipmunk. And now that I have brought numbats to the attention of the world, can a Disney movie starring one be far behind? And if so, this blogger will gladly provide the voice for said numbat hero.

Yes, I’m very tired. Four ten plus hour days on limited sleep will do that to a person. Still, I promised my faithful readers a blog every weeknight, so I will persevere. Thursday was going to be a history post, but not much happened on February 11 in history. Not terribly surprising, history is mostly wars and such, and until recently, wars tended to be something conducted during the summer in the northern hemisphere. There was the carnival tragedy of 1823, sheesh, 100 or so young lads killed in a crush. One of the last battles as the Japanese closed in on Singapore in 1942, resulting in the first crushing victory of an Asian army over a European army in 400 years (so they don’t teach this one in British schools no doubt.) February 11, 1979 is the traditional date of the Iranian revolution, the one that toppled the ruthless US installed dictator. The latter part not taught in US schools I suspect, in fact last time I checked the CIA’s official history of Iran starts in … drum roll … 1979. And of course February 11, 1812 is the traditional date for the beginning of gerrymandering (and the end of representative democracy) in the US. That one’s too depressing for words. So no history post tonight, but on the plus side, history will still be there next Thursday! Stuff that’s already happened is reliable that way. (Well, not always.)

So a few interesting links as I stumble exhausted through the rest of tonight’s post: Here’s the real reason Republicans are obsessed with hating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In short, half of white Americans live in a fantasy world where whites are a discriminated against minority now. In other words, the only real contact half of white Americans have with minorities is what they see on Fox News etc, otherwise they couldn’t believe transcendent absurdities like this. The article puts it all together and into perspective nicely. Yes, very depressing.

John Pavlowitz has a nice take on “Cancel Culture,” the current right wing (fantasy) outrage de jure: The Cancel Culture is Just Adult Accountability. He’s right on target as is usually the case, “Cancel Culture” is just the current version of the “War on Christmas,” the evangelical fantasy that Christianity is somehow under attack in the US. Playing the victim is pretty much all the evangelical right has these days, and the ‘Mandalorian’ actress played it to the hilt, among other offensive posts, claiming that Trump supporters in the US face the same persecution that Jews faced in Nazi Germany. Right. A few other takes on the situation, and the evangelicals’ screams of outrage: ‘Mandalorian’ actress axed over divisive social media posts and Gina Carano’s Mandalorian exit proves ‘cancel culture’ doesn’t exist – despite what her fans say.

Running out of steam here. One last article. Yes, Trump’s abysmal response to Covid really did kill several hundred thousand Americans: US could have averted 40% of Covid deaths, says panel examining Trump’s policies. Sigh. This was apparent to anyone not living in Trumptopia in March when his Covid response essentially boiled down to “It’s all going to magically go away by Easter!” He was the worst president in American history just by that standard alone, no other president’s flaming incompetence and denial killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. But just like America by so many objective standards has the worst health care in the developed world, the people living in Trumptopia are blind to it, because their leaders and media tell them it isn’t so. It’s a cult who think their beliefs give them magical power and/or that God will deliver them from their supposed enemies and restore them to their imagined past glories. Trump’s response to Covid was like Hitler’s “no retreat” order in Russia, why, if people just have the willpower, they can accomplish anything!

It’s never worked before in history, because reality trumps fantasy every time. Magical thinking sure has caused a lot of death, destruction, and sorrow though, and I fear we’re not out of the woods yet. Still, what a time to be alive in America watching and chronicling it all. Stay safe and warm everyone. Comments, shares, likes, patrons, and donations appreciated. (Thanks for the gloves Lars, they’re wonderful, pics to follow.) And if the gentle reader doesn’t want to support me, well, maybe they’ll help save the numbat: Project Numbat. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Numbat in Perth Zoo. Credit: Martin Pot. Image used legally: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

February 11, 2021 at 8:56 pm

SCIENCE TUESDAY

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I can probably think of a better title than “Science Tuesday.” One thing at a time though. Today’s pic, a Sundog. Also known as mock suns or parhelia, it’s a little rainbow to one side of the Sun, often two of them on either side equidistant from the Sun. They can also be pretty bright, and look like little Suns. We saw a pair on the way home from Iowa City a few weeks back, it was cool to see. Caused by hexagonal ice crystals floating down horizontally, if I understand this correctly. I didn’t take the above pic though, it’s a public domain Snappygoat image.

This week’s Skeptoid podcast was interesting. It’s usually at least somewhat interesting, but after all these years a lot of the best and well known topics have been covered. (Skeptoid posts every Tuesday morning, another reason for Science Tuesdays.) This week, Our Lady of Zeitoun. Nope, I never heard of it either. It was an apparition of (allegedly) the Virgin Mary that appeared on the rooftop of a church in Cairo for several years starting in 1968. It was a huge deal in Egypt at the time, tens of thousands of people came out to see it, millions may have seen it all together. Various church authorities “investigated” it and determined it was real, no surprise there.

What was it? Distant car headlights occasionally glinting off steeple windows. Why were so many people convinced they were seeing the Virgin Mary? This is where it gets interesting. Yes, of course it was mass hysteria. Interestingly enough though the people of Egypt were primed for just such an event, so it didn’t occur in a vacuum. (Note that the Virgin Mary is holy in Islam as well, so there’s nothing odd about Muslims seeing Mary as a Godly apparition.) They were primed because the previous year the Six Day War happened, where Israel attacked and crushed Egypt, Jordan, and Syria’s militaries in just six days. Ten to fifteen thousand dead Egyptians killed or missing, and a big chunk of Egypt (The Sinai Peninsula) occupied by Israel. Another example of something that makes more sense as part of a larger context. Kind of applies to everything I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of.

Continuing yesterday’s Mars news: We Just Got The First Photo of Mars From China’s Tianwen 1 Probe, And It’s Breathtaking. And I didn’t catch this, but a Mars satellite from the United Arab Emirates just entered Mars orbit: Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. Great, the people of UAE now have a satellite named hope. Actual hope for, say, democracy and human rights, nope. Just another appallingly despotic country ruled for the benefit of the west, so of course it flies completely under the western media’s radar. Fun times: Israel’s Honeymoon With the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Doug’s Darkworld if I didn’t slip in links like that. In Covid and Facebook news: Big News: Facebook Just Banned More COVID-19 Anti-Vax Content. Sounds good to me. People who want to spread dangerous nonsense shouldn’t be given platforms to do so on. They can start websites or print flyers and stick them under windshield wipers or whatever, it’s not like this is censorship or their freedom of speech is being infringed on. I know a lot of people are concerned about recent efforts by social media platforms limiting hate speech and such, but at this point the damage caused to society by people like anti-vaxxers has grown so great that something needs to be done. I’m all for bringing back the Fairness doctrine, getting rid of it was what started us down the road to Americans living in different realities.

Stuff like this nonsense for example: The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy”. Or this: Covid: ‘How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda’. I don’t have a whole lot of patience with anti-vaxxers, since their idiotic ideology is killing people. Anti-maskers either. Or maybe I’m just turning into a cranky old man. Lastly: We Need to Plan Now For The Pandemic That Comes After COVID-19, Scientists Say. Fat chance though, we’re not even taking global warming seriously and it’s going on right now. Fossil fuel use is destroying the climate and killing huge numbers of people, but God forbid governments do something.

We’ve basically built a planetary economy based on weapon sales and oil, the two most profitable industries that ever existed. “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time.” Quoting the alien in Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” What else is there to say? Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sun and sundog. Credit: Diane Renkin. Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

February 9, 2021 at 7:39 pm

WALLS

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I had a thought about the rising tide of paywalled websites. I think it has to do with the rising tide of wealth inequality, especially in America. Hear me out. The percentage of the nation’s wealth owned by poor people has been dropping since 1980, and it’s in free fall with the pandemic. And I suspect that as a marketing segment for people selling access to web sites, the poor simply don’t  count anymore. Why gear one’s marketing to include people that increasingly may not even have Internet access, and increasingly less discretionary spending? An incredibly miniscule and shrinking market segment. So sites like the New York Times and all the rest are charging what the traffic can bear, and the traffic is middle class and above people for whom a dollar a week is pocket change.

This is distressing to me. Initially the Internet was the great equalizer, everyone had equal access and equal opportunity. It’s rapidly transforming into pretty much the opposite, where access and opportunity are purely based on one’s wealth.  Poor people already have huge structures and barriers keeping them in their place in America, now that is playing out on the Internet as well. This is of course completely the opposite of the stated ideals of America, supposedly the “land of opportunity.” More every day now it’s “The land of opportunity for the rich and no one else.”

And despite some good details, Biden, as expected, is looking to be Obama 2.0. Don’t hold one’s breath gentle reader waiting for Medicare-for-All or other fundamental changes. However, I’ll give this a break and cover some other news. And oh, rementioning, as per above, I will never paywall this site, and in fact will be making every effort to avoid even linking to paywalled sites. Partly out of principle, mostly because I’m blogging for everyone. Still, if the gentle reader likes my work, patrons are really appreciated, even a $1 a month helps, sign up here. I used to have a one time only donation button, I’ll see if I can resurrect that. I love to write, I hate marketing. So I’ll copy a line from The Guardian: “Available for everyone, funded by readers.”

Moving right along, a new and even more contagious version of Covid has been discovered in California: California discovers homegrown coronavirus strain that spreads even faster than any other. Depressing, even with the vaccine being rolled out. I’m back to thinking we may well hit a million dead in the US by the time the dying slows. Slows, not ends. I don’t think Covid’s ever going to be over in America, what with our population of anti-vaxxers and white people. Wait, white people? Yes: White people least likely to wear masks consistently, study finds. Another manifestation of white privilege? IDK, maybe not. Maybe there’s just a lot of stupid white people in America.

In terrorism news (domestic terrorism is kind of an American exceptionalismist phrase I’m thinking:) DHS issues terrorism advisory over domestic extremists ’emboldened’ by Capitol riot. Well, finally, the GOP has a long sad history of suppressing such warnings: How Southern politicians hamstrung the fight against right-wing domestic terror. We’ll see, maybe the whole “Stop the Steal” nonsense will fizzle out as it becomes clearer that Trump is a has been, not God’s anointed one. We’ve got plenty of other issues to deal with without another Timothy McVeigh. And who knows, turns out the leader of the Proud Boys was an FBI informant. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was an FBI informant. Hopefully a few heads are exploding in said organization.

Lastly, science news! Footprints of a big (12 foot, 4 meter) crocodile-like animal have been found in strata laid down just after (geologically speaking) the Permian-Triassic extinction event: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. Also known as “The Great Dying,” this was not the event that wiped out the dinosaurs, that was the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event. Formerly known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction.) Science, so confusing, it’s like they keep changing things as our understanding grows. That’s a feature,, not a bug by the way.

Where was I? Right, a 250 million year old crocodile like thing wandering around when and where it wasn’t supposed to be. That’s because the Permian-Triassic extinction event was the big one, the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history, wiping out about 75% of all species on Earth. (We still don’t even know what caused it, but a major asteroid/comet impact likely started it.) Where these tracks were found was supposed to be a lifeless desert at the time. Yet if a 12 foot lizard was wandering around, it means there was an ecosystem still  functioning: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. More textbooks to be rewritten I guess.

My friend’s husband who was mauled by a cougar (not a 12 food lizard) on Monday is recovering nicely. And today a second doctor told me I don’t have cancer! Many more blogs to follow, especially as I live in a land without cougars or 12 foot lizards. Just geese, which I guess is scarier in some ways. Stay safe and warm dear readers. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Great Wall of China. Credit: Jakub Hałun. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2021 at 8:26 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Woohoo! Two new patrons today, so much appreciated. I’ve been socially isolated since March and don’t dare work since at any age, mine especially, Covid just isn’t something to get. This is a disease that we still don’t even begin to fully understand, and a large percentage of people who get it will have long term effects. Covid really is a game changer, it’s not The Stand or Earth Abides (both highly recommended by the way,) but it’s the worst thing to come down the pike in a century at least. The 1918 flu was deadlier, but it had nothing like the long term effects Covid has, a disease that once one gets, it keeps on giving.

I digress. So my blog is really all that’s keeping me safe, and every patron helps. And as always, I’m happy to write blog posts on topics suggested by patrons. Science, history, politics, and cats for the most part. I suppose I could try other topics, but my knowledge of things like sportsball, fashion, and popular entertainment is limited in the extreme. When my parents got excited about the Beatles coming to America, I was like, what’s the big deal about some beetles from England? Granted I was 7 at the time. My knowledge base hasn’t expanded much since, aside from seeing every movie Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made. (I lost a bet, yes, that explains it, quick thinking Doug.)

So, The Donald (note I have not sunk to the name calling du jour which seems to have infected every aspect of American politics these days, though I sure am tempted to refer to him as the Velveeta Voldemort, that cracked me up.) The Donald is thinking of starting his own political party. Go for it Mr Trump. Seeing the GOP split in half is fine by me. It means the Dems will get even more a lock on power, and I can only hope that it inspires them to make some actual positive changes in the country. Things like Medicare-for-all and a real living wage would do wonders for both Americans and the economy. Digressing all over the place today.

Yes, the Donald’s ability to manage a political party will be on par with how he managed Covid, the United States Football League, and his numerous failed business ventures. IE the man is a brilliant self promoter and grifter; actual management ability, he’s a multiple failure. He got through the first three years of the presidency because the inertia of the gigantic byzantine most bloated bureaucracy that ever existed is such that a gerbil could be president and pull it off. Until of course something happens that actually requires a competent leader at the helm. And that would be Covid, actual leadership was required; we got pandemic signalling, blame shifting, and the My Pillow guy. It’s darkly ironic that if it hadn’t been for Covid, Trump would almost certainly have been reelected.

Hopefully Trump will be dropping out of the news cycle soon and I can get back to blogging about science and the ongoing catastrophe that is the American Empire. I’d say that the Atlantic Empire is not going away any time soon, but we’re kinda through the historical looking glass here. And empires based almost entirely on military might tend to be very fragile if my understanding of history is any guide. Oh, history posts, yes, all sorts of those on the back burner.

So one last Trump outrage, the very last thing he did on inauguration day was fire the head usher at the White House and sent the staff home. That way there was no one to open the door at the White House when the Bidens arrived. Awkward: Trump fired chief usher right before leaving White House – TheGrio and  Bidens were left stuck outside White House on Inauguration Day after ‘petty’ final Trump act. IDK, conflicting reports on this one. Still, Trump and infantile pettiness are pretty much synonyms, so sounds believable to me. This is a guy who so far as I can tell spent his presidency undoing anything Obama did because Obama roasted him at a White House House Correspondents Dinner. People that have no sense of humor are even more humorless when the joke is on them. And Trump’s lack of even a shred of humor is the stuff of legend.

Lastly, I see that a famous blogger plagiarized me! OK, that’s almost certainly not true, it’s more a matter of GMTA I suspect. (I always have to explain that that means “Great Minds Think Alike” since for some reason most people are unfamiliar with an acronym that was popular on AOL for a few days in 1998.) The good Doctor Novella  had observations about QAnon today parallelling my observations yesterday. Not really a stretch, Qanon is pretty much a classic “End Times” cult, lots of people have no doubt made that observation. (Excluding QAnon believers of course.)

Petco actually did blatantly plagiarize a website I ran in the late 90s, but what’s done is done. The site is still up, but I lost the password long ago so it’s just a weird fossil site on the interwebs. (And looking at it, at least one link is now flagged by Avast, be careful.) Whoever hosts it is likely still getting revenue from my writing, c’est la vie. I write because it is my purpose, not to make money. Still, money keeps me alive to write, new patrons are always more than welcome, sign up here. I’ll never paywall this site, but I do live on the generosity of readers.

Freezing weather here in Iowa. Maybe I should do another history quiz post, open to suggestions. (Yes, digressing again.) Stay safe and warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An upbeat image today, might as well be happy before I become completely disillusioned with the Biden administration. A cheery Sisley painting: The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne. 1872. Public domain of course. Alfred Sisley.)

Written by unitedcats

January 23, 2021 at 8:59 pm

TRUMPARTURE EVE AND CRUSHED ANTS

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Four years of the Trump presidency ends tomorrow, today was his last full day in office. And what a ride it’s been, there’s been nothing like it in my lifetime, and pretty much in all of US history. History in the making, and soon to be history, period. His chances of getting reelected in 2024 seem remote, but that’s years from now anyhow. A lot is going to happen between now and then. Various thoughts, in whatever order I end up putting them in:

I could have written this post in advance, but decided to wait until this last evening just in case  there were any crazy new developments. None yet, though we’re not completely out of the woods. At least a dozen National Guard members have been removed from the capitol security detail for extremist ties, two for making threats to politicians. We’re talking right wing extremist ties, nice to see them finally being taken seriously.

Let’s see, just  to repeat stuff I’ve said before: Mea culpa. I was wrong. Trump ended up being worse than my worst fears. I even had some hope, a thin hope at that, that he might be an OK president. He did make a number of promises that would have made a huge difference to poor and working class Americans. Yeah, none of those materialized. I also initially held out the hope that he was smarter than he appeared, it didn’t take long for him to demonstrate the falsehood of that theory. Lastly, I wasn’t shocked by his election. His appeal to a certain demographic was obvious, and Trump’s always been a world class self promoter. Pretty much Trump’s only world class talent sadly. And Clinton’s missteps were painful to see, it was clear she thought she had the 2016 election in the bag. Pretty much every military disaster in history was preceded by the losing side wildly underestimating their enemy, that was Clinton’s 2016 campaign in a nutshell.

I digress, tonight is Trump’s last night. Him and Melania are likely hiding tuna fish in the White House’s curtain rods or such. He’s proven himself a vindictive petty man time and again. Some people see that as  a strength. I see it as proof of Sally Shlaer’s axiom: “There are no adults.” Living with an eight year old in a sixty year old man’s body housemate  has reinforced that, but I digress. I see that Mike Pence has risen to the occasion: Mike Pence posts farewell photos in good-bye message — but excludes any of Donald Trump. Apparently him and  Trump haven’t spoken since, well, Trump incited a mob to lynch Pence. Pence may be a fundamentalist monster, but unlike Trump, he’s not an idiot.

Trump’s star continues to fall: Petition circulates in Scotland to rename airport Trump uses to get to his golf course for Joe Biden. There will be a lot more things like this in the months to come. There’s good things too though: Tonight is the last night in US history where there’s never been a female vice president. Or a black vice president too for that matter I suppose. The end of Trump  is a sea change in US history.

400,000 dead of Covid today. That’s Trump’s legacy. I wonder how many gravestones will say “killed by Trump’s inability to fight a pandemic?” In some ways (all ways?) Trump’s response to Covid defines his presidency and his legacy. If he had just consulted the experts and gone with the plan Obama/Bush left him, he’d be getting ready to be inaugurated into his second term tomorrow. Instead he winged it, and when Covid didn’t magically disappear, he just moved on and ignored it. Smooth move exlax.

Trump is a man who his entire life ignored the law, contractual obligations, and reason. And he was protected by privilege, wealth, and finally the presidency. That ends tomorrow. Who knows what the future holds. Whatever happens, the Earth abides. In the  greater scheme of things, Trump’s accomplishments and transgressions are no more than crushed ants.

Deserts are the greatest testament to God’s beauty, barren and lifeless, in many ways they are the most living places on Earth. Does that make sense? Probably not. That’s why I write, trying to put such thoughts into words. Trump’s departure is a sea change in US history, but God and nature really don’t care. They are infinitely bigger  than Trump. See  above image, nature will persevere no matter what. Stay safe and warm everyone, who knows what Biden will bring. Blogging topics at least! #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Death Valley, Public Domain snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

January 19, 2021 at 9:34 pm

A MAZE OF DEATH*

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I’m really pessimistic today about what 2021 holds for America. I know that many people think that Trump leaving office is going to head us back towards pre-Trump normalcy. While people can be forgiven for thinking that, I think it’s wishful thinking at this point. A third of America is in revolt against reality itself. They actually believe that the Democrats stole the election and that Trump is somehow going to fix it; especially the people, millions of people, who have slid into the QAnon rathole and think there is some sort of Satanist Pedophile Jewish Democrat cabal running the world … that Trump is secretly fighting.

I don’t think much will happen between now and the inauguration, enormous numbers of troops have been deployed in Washington and state capitals. However, to people still somewhat tethered to reality, this is a sensible precaution after Trump supporters stormed the capitol building. To the tens of millions of Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen, this is further proof that the Democrats are secretly up to no good. That’s why I think there is no way out of this maze of death, everything is now simply further proof of the conspiracy. Motivated reasoning on steroids, if Jesus himself came back from the dead and denounced Trump, the Trumpers would think it was a Democrat hoax.

That’s one factor in my bleak analysis. Another is that despite getting modest press coverage due to the political sheetshow that is dominating the news cycle, America is reeling under the worst mass death crisis since 1918, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 100,000 Americans a month or more are dying of Covid, and with the new more contagious strain spreading, that won’t get better anytime soon. The vaccine rollout will mitigate it eventually, somewhat, maybe, we can hope. And adding a  terrible economy for the poor and working class just adds to the widespread social stress. Hard times have spawned horrible political crises throughout history, and there’s no reason to think America will be any better. Biden is no FDR, and even if he was, he’s facing a much worse situation than FDR faced. Hoover was merely incompetant, Trump in addition to incompetence is doing everything he can to sabotage the nation before he leaves the White House.

Lastly, America is freakishly violent for a developed country. We have a long proud (sadly) history of glorifying both external and internal violence. For many Americans violence is the first option, and always has been. Tens of millions of Americans glorify the Confederacy for God’s sake, a treasonous rebellion that killed a million Americans because the South wanted to keep human beings as property. Our genocidal and ethic cleansing policies towards natives. Over 5,000 lynchings in US history, how many in Canadian history? One. A mob of Americans crossed the border and lynched a man. And America’s homicide, mass murder, and violent crime rates are horrifying compared to the rest of the developed world. Violence has always been the first response of Americans to perceived social ills. Jesus wept.

The capitol riot was just the beginning. The right is already warping the riot to support their warped view of reality: How Republicans Are Warping Reality Around the Capitol Attack. There’s countless potential Lee Harvey Oswalds and Timothy McVeighs out there, and Trump and numerous others are encouraging them. Even if the show of force this week at the inauguration deters new outrages, the right’s imagined grievances aren’t going to go away, if anything they will get worse. I don’t see a peaceful resolution to this discord.

And worse (yes, Doug’s Darkworld, not Doug’s Puppyworld) I still think the rest of the country is wildly underestimating how bad this could get. Like people are all up in arms worrying that Trump is looting the White House on his way out. Frankly, who cares, the Republic is in one of the worst crises in its history, and people are upset that the Trumps might be stealing White House silverware? Not my worry. I freaking hope that before the Biden’s move in the White House gets a world class scouring for bombs, toxins, booby traps, and surveillance devices. It only takes one radicalized White House staffer to leave something that would change history. Anyone who doesn’t understand after the capitol riot that some of these QAnon people are capable of anything is living in a dream world.

Remember, if a time bomb went off in the White House, or a bunch of Biden people die of anthrax … that wasn’t done by a right wing extremist among Trump’s staff, oh no, the Democrats did that to make Trump look bad! Every act of violence here on out is going to make things worse, and it only takes a handful of people realizing that to act on it. This is why I took down my Biden sign and hung an American flag in my window. If in July 1914 someone said there would be a million war deaths by Christmas 1914, they would have been laughed at. I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021 America, but I think there will be more blood than in anyone’s worst nightmares.

I hope and pray I’m wrong. Stay safe everyone. Comments, likes, shares, and especially patrons appreciated. If the gentle reader enjoys my writing, even a dollar a month makes a difference. God bless all. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Dead civilians in Belgium killed by Nazis in the winter of 1944. Credit: US government photographer, so Public Domain under US copyright law.)

*’A Maze of Death’ is a 1970 scifi novel by Philip K. Dick. Titles cannot be copyrighted, but I still wanted to credit one of my favorite authors.

Written by unitedcats

January 17, 2021 at 9:02 pm