Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, DEBATES, ETC.

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Lincoln_Douglas

Yesterday was my birthday. My 62nd orbit around the Sun is concluded. So far, so good. As in I woke up this morning. My life has gotten very simple since I semi-retired. Concentrate on my core friends and family, and my writing. And by my writing, I mean my attempts to understand this amazing reality we find ourselves in, and share my thoughts with the world. The now world, and people in the future. If you’re reading this years or thousands of years after I wrote it: “Hi, glad you’re reading this!” What else is there to say? Oh, right, “Sorry we fucked up the planet so badly!”

I’m not a genius, maybe 90th percentile, at most. And even at that, IQ, is a measure of problem solving ability; and say RAM, the ability to think about a lot of things at once. It’s not related to wisdom, or even logic. Even smart people can believe nonsense. Hell, they can rattle off impressive strings of false arguments. Still, IQ is pretty good at higher levels, and the scary smart people I have been privileged to know were a big influence on my life. Sally Shlaer, Steve Mellor, Peter Berck, my august father. Dozens of others have contributed to my worldview as well.  And so, using this brain gift God or evolution and my mentors gave me, I’ve spent about 60 years trying to make sense of it all.

And today’s theory, reality exists. There is actually a “truth” hiding behind all the clouds of misperception and lies. And using our brains, and the wisdom of countless brains throughout history working on this problem, we can come to some very solid conclusions about reality. Alas, and there’s the rub, due to accidents of our brains’ design, and the machinations of self-interested people, most of the human race believes at least some nonsense. The brain isn’t designed for logic, it’s designed for pattern recognition.

So, those interested in reality, here are the conclusions of a reasonably smart guy who has spent his intellectual life trying to parse the BS from what is real. All of these have codicils of course, reality is indeed complicated with infinite possibilities, nonetheless we as a species have advanced enough to make some pretty accurate determinations of what is real. Science rocks. This is a list of what I believe are true statements. Disagree? Reasonable argument and evidence will change my mind.

  1. Vaccines are safe and effective.
  2. Sleeping in a closed room with a fan will not kill you.
  3. Global warming is real, and humans are causing it.
  4. Glyphosate is harmless to animals and doesn’t cause cancer.
  5. Cell phones are safe and don’t cause cancer.
  6. Smart meters too.
  7. 5G technology as well.
  8. The Earth is an oblate spheroid.
  9. Evolution is a fact.
  10. The Earth is some 4.5 billion years old.
  11. GMOs are not inherently dangerous.
  12. Organic food is a scam.
  13. UFOs are not alien craft.
  14. Ancient aliens is a BS theory.
  15. Bigfoot doesn’t exist.
  16. Nessie doesn’t exist.
  17. Atlantis wasn’t real
  18. Ghosts aren’t real.
  19. Telepathy etc doesn’t exist.
  20. Astrology is mostly BS.
  21. Aside from a few medical conditions, gluten sensitivity isn’t real.
  22. MSG sensitivity isn’t real either.
  23. Nuclear power is the safest form of power generation, all factors considered.

I suspect almost everyone will take umbrage at one or more of these. This is why I will never be a famous blogger. Fortunately I don’t give a damn.

Note I kept the list to the purely scientific, nothing political or historical. That’s another list, for the day when I want to lose the rest of my readers. I’ve become quite the cynic about politics in America these days. I watched one of the Democratic debates last night, an experience akin to being dissected alive by aliens. The most frightening thing about it was how almost every question was framed to normalize oligarch/GOP talking points, and marginalise/discredit any actual reforms to our hideously broken system of government/health care.

As some have pointed out, the whole point of the debate appeared to be ambushing and discrediting Warren and Sanders. It was also kind of scary how so many of the debaters repeatedly referenced Trump, as if he was the problem, not the corporate oligarchy that has been getting ever richer for decades at the expense of the poor and working class. “Anybody but Trump!” will work as well in 2020 as it did in 2016. And even if someone like Sanders does get elected, Trump made all sorts of populist promises too. All of which went out the window after he was elected. Like the populist promises of Obama and Clinton.

Well, we’ll see. I hope America finds its way out of the mess it’s in, and I support the efforts of those working for positive change. I just won’t be blogging about it much. I’ll stick to science, history, space exploration, and interesting things. Anatomically possible suggestions welcome. ;)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Composite photograph of Lincoln and Douglas, who debated famously in 1858. Mostly about slavery, oddly enough. Credit: Scewing for making the composite. The photographs themselves, and thus their composite, are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 31, 2019 at 5:04 am

WHY I WON’T BE COVERING THE 2020 ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND OTHER RANDOM VACATION THOUGHTS

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001rr

I didn’t watch the debates. Because the election is so far away I figure some of the candidates will be dead of old age before then. It’s over a year away, and like the Boston Marathon, the starting crowd gets bigger every time. The race is getting tons of coverage, in fact whole networks are devoted to it, and it’s all BS. It’s just a circus to keep us distracted, the POTUS  position is largely ceremonial. I guess I’ve reached peak cynicism. If something really noteworthy happens I’m sure I’ll comment on it, but until then, there’s plenty else to write about besides the forever  campaign. I will be posting my Russiagate post  though, probably later this week.

It’s weird living in a world where politics has been so tied, to, well reality. So that if one expresses a fact, one’s political affiliation is assumed. I don’t think Putin interfered in the 2016 election … so I must be a Trump supporter. I think anthropogenic climate change is both real and serious. I must be some sort of bleeding heart Democrat. Clearly I’m confused? No, just trying to make sense out of it all. And, well, reality doesn’t conform to politics. Doesn’t conform to common sense either. Makes it lots of fun to try and figure out.

So, yeah, the last real progressive national legislation was passed in the sixties. Since then, Democrats have made progressive promises, but been short on follow up. And through it all, by law, by Supreme Court ruling, the corporate/banker rule of America has been reinforced. The GOP does it blatantly, the Dems are more subtle. So even if Bernie or another similar sounding candidate gets elected, I don’t think there is anything they can do. A bloated, corrupt, incompetant aristocracy rules the greatest empire the world has ever seen. The only question is how much richer they will get before it all falls down. What is going to happen when the last dollar in America is deposited in a tax sheltered offshore account? (Hat tip to Jarrod Diamond.)

Speaking of unreal beliefs, came across a you-tube video of tidepools near San Diego. The narrator was saying all these pools were barren, and they used to be thriving with life. OK, well, I guess. He didn’t have any ‘before’ images. And even if they have become lifeless, there are any number of perfectly prosaic reasons for a change. I’m not a marine biologist, but I have had expert classes in geology. Seashores change, any sort of minor change up or down the coast could cause this. So, what’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is … Fukushima. Yes, Fukushima is dumping 400,000 thousand gallons of radioactive waste into the Pacific each day. And it’s killing the tide pools near San Diego! <Inset new keyboard and bandaged forehead here>  Sigh. And the guy who posted this posted was adamant that it was all “common sense.” I wish people were schooled more in logical fallacies. It would save a lot of time at least.

For the record, yes, Fukushima was a terrible nuclear meltdown. It was also a classic example of human error. It cost Japan a huge pile of money. It probably shortened the lives of hundreds of people. However, outside of the immediate area, the effects are effectively nonexistent. The 400,000 gallons of nuclear waste dumped daily? That’s about 1 ½ Olympic pools worth of slightly Tritium contaminated water. Tritium is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope, and the amount being released is trivial. Calling this water nuclear waste is scaremongering at its worst.

And Fukushima sure as hell isn’t killing tide pools in San Diego! My God, if the water in those tide pools was radioactive enough to sterilize them, the people wading in them would get radiation burns. People would notice. The truth of the matter is, nuclear power is one of the safest and greenest power options. It’s vastly better than coal, to date it’s estimated that nuclear power has saved nearly two million lives by replacing coal plants. Coal power is what’s killing the planet, nuclear power is part of the global warming solution, not part of the problem.

Which doesn’t freaking mean I’m a Trump supporter or I don’t support green power like solar and wind! The more green power the better! But until we utterly decentralize the power grid and cover the planet with batteries to provide power when it’s night and the wind stops, we need 24/7 power plants to fill the gaps. And hands down nuclear is safer and greener than coil/oil/gas plants. End rant.

FWIW, I endorse Bernie Sanders. He’s talking about important issues. Things that, if implemented, will make improvements in the lives of regular Americans. His proposals aren’t even all that radical, but decades of increasingly blind partisanship has made any real debate impossible. Trump made many equally populist promises, if he had been good to his word America might be a better place. He wasn’t, populist promises are about getting votes, period. As Clinton and Obama amply demonstrated.

The image above  I stumbled upon, but it’s an interesting image. The giveaway of public resources started in the 19th century. The railroad land giveaway was the second greatest gift of public resources to corporations in American history. At least they used it to build a railway system that promoted and supported development and industry. It was a big deal at the time as the image shows. The biggest giveaway was in the early 1990s, the digital spectrum giveaway, but no one knows about it since by then the media was owned by the same corporations getting the freebies. Times have changed, and not for the better.

So next post, mutant cats, art on Mars or some such. Have a great holiday week everyone, Americans and Canadians alike.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Campaign poster from the 1880 presidential campaign. Credit: Democratic Party of 1880, Public Domain under US Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump

Trump’s Taxes

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nastImage credit: Thomas Nast 1867. Public domain under US copyright law.

Something like 18 state legislatures have introduced laws requiring candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns as a requirement to appear on their state’s ballots. A few have been vetoed already, the rest are works in progress. I find these bills fascinating on several levels, so lots of meat for a post here. And fair warning, I don’t think these laws are a good thing in and of themselves, nor by what they portend.

First, how important is it to have this info? On the one hand, sure, I guess it’s a good thing for presidential candidates to be open about their finances. On the other hand, tax returns can and do contain very personal information, so I can see good reasons why someone might want to keep them private. I mean, running for the presidency means people are going to be digging into every aspect of one’s past, this requirement just adds insult to injury. I also am not sure what difference it makes, not releasing his returns didn’t keep Trump out of the White House, so it’s obviously not a critical issue to a lot of voters. Shouldn’t the voters decide what qualifications they want in their presidential candidates?

These bills also have constitutional issues. While the Constitution is solid on the requirements to be elected president, the states can’t change that; the states do have constitutional leeway when it comes to ballot qualifications. That’s how we got Bush in 2000. It’s clear these laws will instantly be challenged on constitutional grounds should any of them pass. So it seems unlikely any would make it into law by 2020. Especially considering that the nation’s judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, have been packed with GOP leaning judges in recent decades.

Then there’s the slippery slope aspect. Slippery slope arguments are often ridiculous false arguments. Like claiming gay marriage will lead to people marrying animals. Slippery slope arguments are not always false arguments though.  If these laws work as intended, suppressing the GOP vote, there’s any number of “reasonable sounding” ballot requirements that could be invoked to hurt specific candidates. Note the “specific candidates.” And have the Dems even considered that the GOP could play this game too if these laws pass constitutional muster?

Granted, lots of bills passed can and are challenged, that’s not a reason to not introduce a bill. It gets worse though. The most troubling aspect to me is that these “candidates must release their taxes to be on the ballot” bills are patently partisan. Yes, the people promoting these bills talk about transparency and informed elections, but let’s be fucking real here folks. If it wasn’t for Trump and his refusal to release his taxes, no one would be proposing these bills. So they are a completely partisan and targeted effort to hurt Trump’s reelection chances, either by keeping him off state ballots, or forcing him to disclose something embarrassing in his tax returns.

In other words, these bills are prima facie intended to prevent GOP voters from voting for the candidate of their choice. How is this not voter suppression? The GOP claims their voter suppression efforts are a good faith effort to prevent voter fraud. These bills are good faith efforts to … what? Force Trump to release his tax returns or his voters won’t be allowed to vote for him? At the end of the day that’s still attempted voter suppression at the very least.

Alas as the cartoon above shows, voter suppression has been with us a long time. It’s just as damaging now as it ever was. Granted the GOP has been leading the charge in recent decades, but nothing good can come of the Dems countering with their own constitutionally questionable version of voter suppression. This is part of a long established pattern of Dems avoiding the real issues while trying to game themselves back into office. That however is a topic for another post. Have a great week everyone.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 6, 2019 at 4:20 am

Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump

The Three Biggest Issues Facing America, What Do They Have in Common?

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In my considered estimation (I have a lot of time to think at work,) the USA has three issues facing it that dwarf other issues of the day. These would be the upwards transfer of wealth, the so called “War on Terror,” and global warming. What do these all have in common, aside from taking place on Earth? Easy, as I’m sure my astute readers recognized, all three were basically completely ignored during the election. Furthermore, they get short shrift in the mainstream media at the best of times. The upwards transfer of wealth is the most ignored, most Americans aren’t even aware that the middle class and poor have stagnated since the late seventies, while the rich got ever richer. Global warming gets some coverage, but it’s lame coverage that claims there is still scientific controversy about the topic. And the War on Terror gets lots of coverage, all of it ranging from sickening adulation to criticism so tepid it’s embarrassing in a  so called free society. This is why we’re doomed, the agents of our destruction are running amok, and our national debates are about abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana.

The first of the big three would be the upwards transfer of wealth. This isn’t debatable, anymore than Evolution or Young Earth Creationism are debatable. Since the 1970s the rich have gotten ever richer, while the poor and middle class have stagnated. A process that continues to this day, over 90% of the gains from the last few years of “economic “recovery” have gone to the 1%. This is both a recipe for disaster, and the complete opposite of what made America great in the first place. Sure the richer the rich get, the more they figure out ways to make even more “wealth,” but none of that money goes anywhere. Having trillions of dollars sitting in financial instruments may make the rich very very rich … but it not only does nothing for the economy, it’s a brake on the real economy. This is why interstate banking shouldn’t be allowed, along with a host of other now-gutted laws and regulations that kept money circulating locally instead of piling up in offshore accounts. The Occupy movement at least succeeded in getting more people aware of this, but unless it is stopped, we will eventually (and maybe sooner than later) be a land of poor serfs with a  few fabulously rich overlords. History teaches us that this isn’t the road to national prosperity, it’s the road to national disaster.

Then there’s the endless “War on Terror.” OBL gave the people who want to maintain western hegemony over the planet, IE the upwards transfer of wealth on a planetary scale, a blank check. And they have spent it on building a vast “security” state and creating an overt world wide empire. This is crazy on several levels, not the least of which it’s the greatest over-reaction to a threat in history even on the face of its putative rationale. It in essence is a staggering waste of resources that would be far better spent on infrastructure, education, and health care. The US is lagging well behind the rest of the developed world in all three, just to maintain a military larger than the rest of the world combined? A military largely designed to fight a war with a country that no longer exists? And yes, building a giant security state is a threat to our liberties; it’s both unnecessary  and will eventually be misused when the wrong person gets in power. Lastly, waging war around the world and the ever increasing use of flying death squads, aka drones, isn’t making us safer, it’s creating new enemies. Look how well that policy has worked for Israel, they live inside of a fucking giant wall in complete isolation from their neighbours, yeah, that’s peaceful co-existence.

And lastly, the elephant in the room so big that it’s started flattening whole states, global warming. The facts behind this are overwhelming, the world is rapidly getting warmer, and human activity is contributing in a major way. Yet the energy industry’s legions of well funded think tanks, not to mention their just plain overt influence on the mainstream media and politics, continue to confuse the issue and create the illusion that there is some sort of scientific debate. And this process is made worse by a religous-political party that is actively denying all sorts of science, not just global warming. And when they aren’t denying it, they are claiming we can adjust. That makes about as much sense as “adjusting” when your house catches on fire. When your house catches on fire, you put out the goddamn fire, you don’t “adjust” to it.

Sadly I don’t see much chance of any of these issues being addressed any time soon. I hope I’m wrong.

(Noah’s Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since it was painted in 1846, under current US copyright law this image is public domain. It’s a painting of Noah’s Ark, a Bronze Age myth that apparently many adults still literally believe in.  I still find it hard to get my mind around the idea that functioning adults believe in the reality of something in the same category as Santa Claus. Kinda scary really. Maybe I should have listed religious fundamentalism as the fourth crisis facing America, but I dunno, in some ways it over-arches all the others. Hell, in some way all of the crises facing America, and much of the world, have their roots in religious fundamentalism. A topic for another day.)

In with Obama, out with Petraeus, and Happy Veterans Day

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Well, been a  few changes the past few days. Obama won the 2012 election, no big surprise there. I was pretty sure all along that he would be hard to beat, the man is shrewd politician. Even his weak performance at the first debate was deliberate I now suspect, it just made his final two debates that much better. Though despite all the crowing on the liberal side, the popular vote was very close, this was not a landslide or a mandate. It was however a slap-in-the-face for the most neanderthal on the right, the five worst pro-rapist politicians soundly lost their elections, as did a number of tea partiers. And things like gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization won in a number of states. I don’t think the election results are all that surprising, though I hear many on the right are shocked. Yeah, well, many on the left were shocked when Bush was re-elected, the shocked righties will live. I think basically Romney alienated pretty much everyone but straight white males, allowing Obama to squeak by on a broad coalition despite the weak economy.

It would be nice if the Republicans decided to work with Obama the next four years instead of devoting themselves to obstructionism and making sure Obama didn’t win re-election. So far it’s not looking good. There’s even talk of employers retaliating against their employees because of the results of the election. Classy, real classy. And the interesting coincidence of the two maps above doesn’t inspire me with hope and change. The top map is the results of the election. The bottom map are the states that seceded during the civil war. Though the map was a bit premature, Obama did win Florida. I sometimes wonder if the south should be allowed to leave the union, lately it sure seems like they don’t want to be a part of it.

On the other hand, divided America aside, I have hopes that the results of this election means that despite what the Tea Partiers think, the nation is shifting back in a liberal direction. It’s been heading right since Reagan, it would be nice to live to see the pendulum swinging the other way. Not surprising really, it’s hard not to notice that borrow and spend, the upwards transfer of wealth, and endless military/security/police/prison spending … at the expense of infrastructure/education/health care … hasn’t delivered on all of its promises. Or any of them, unless one really wanted endless war. As I am sure someone has said better, if giving the rich tax breaks created jobs, everyone in America and their pets would be employed. Plus it would be cool to see another cultural revolution like the 60s, humans always come up with interesting new stuff. Some are dragged into the future kicking and screaming, some look forward to every new day.

Moving right along, General Petraeus is moving right along. Darling of the neocons and pro-war media (aka the mainstream media,) General Petraeus, the man who convinced Americans to shed more American lives so that we could pretend we “won” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has resigned as Director of the CIA. I for one am relieved, the man was more politician than general, and his presidential aspirations sure seemed palpable to me. He resigned because it turned out he was having an affair with his biographer. There are also concerns that he may have allowed her access to information that she wasn’t permitted to access. It’s all rather vague at this point. It would be nice if he was replaced by someone who wasn’t going to use the office as a stepping stone to the presidency. Someone actually tuned into the real world. I’m not holding my breath.

Speaking of the real world, that’s the topic of the next blog. I plan to segue from politics to the real world. Then some fun posts on science, Vikings, neanderthals, and related subjects. It’s gonna take a lot to wash the election from my brain. Lastly, I hope everyone is having a Happy Veterans Day. I honour those who have served in uniform for their country, I spit on those who send uniformed men and women to die in senseless wars that have nothing to do with national defense. One can be pro-firefighter without being pro-arsonist, something our war culture obsessed media generally neglects to mention these days.

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook, no idea who to attribute it to. Yes, that’s the original Pledge of Allegiance, from before the USA started turning into a theocracy. Maybe this election means that tide has turned too, one can only hope.))

Written by unitedcats

November 12, 2012 at 6:39 am

Injured kittens, elections, and worse stuff

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On the way to work today the bus got mired in traffic. Then I saw emergency lights ahead, the police were routing traffic into one lane. Getting closer I saw why. There was an injured kitten in the road, a half grown little stripey guy. One of the cops was standing so as to keep him in the shade. For some reason the sight just about to broke my heart, I cried on and off all day. So much sadness in the world, this just put me over the edge I guess. I hope the little guy made it.

I’ll be glad when the election is over. It’s been one of the uglier elections in my memory, if not the ugliest. I still honestly don’t give a crap who wins, both candidates have aspects that are so so creepy it makes my flesh crawl. Both candidates are a tool of the bankers, militarists, and energy cartel. Obama’s social policy window dressing is a bit better, but living in a theocracy might actually make Americans snap out of their revery. More on point, I think if Superman got elected, we’d still be hosed. America is like a stately old oak tree … completely rotted out inside. It looks majestic, but one of these days there will be a stiff breeze and down it goes. It’s not going to be pretty.

Obama. Barrack “kill list” Obama. I find it more than disturbing that the POTUS maintains a kill list, a list that can and has included Americans. It’s disturbing in and of itself, but that no one is upset about it is just plain scary. Nixon had an enemy’s list, and was excoriated for it; Obama has a kill list, and no one cares? People went wild over non-existent “death panels,” but don’t care that Obama has set himself up as a death panel of one? I am not reassured.

Then we have the rapist’s right’s party. Think about this: We have a Senate candidate Mourdock claiming that a rape  pregnancy was a gift from God and couldn’t be aborted. He said he anguished over this question before coming to that conclusion. I’m a little unclear what he anguished over. He couldn’t have anguished over how he would feel if he were raped and impregnated, since that can’t happen to him. So he must have anguished over how he would feel if he raped and impregnated someone. And he concluded that whoever he, or any man, chooses to rape;  if the woman is impregnated, she must bear the child. The rapist gets to choose, the raped victim doesn’t. Right. Romney endorsed this guy. Ryan holds similar view. This is crazy, a perversion of Christianity, and an example of rape culture. Again, not reassured.

I like Jill Stein, but nothing short of a miracle will get her in the White House. It might make a good science fiction story, or an unlikely Hollywood movie. I think they put Ron Paul back in cryogenic suspension, I don’t know where he went. Probably conveyed to media purgatory. There’s other stuff on ballots. I’m cynical about it all. The special interests have it locked up, even when they lose, they have the lawyers and the money to fix it. Legalized corruption on a scale never before seen in history. See, the USA is still number one! On the other hand, unlike so many people, I’m not going to freak out no matter who gets elected. Whoever gets elected has my support, at least initially. Whoever wins has an unholy mess to contend with, and the last thing America needs now is sore losers. My studied neutrality may only last to the acceptance speech, tomorrow is another day.

Lastly, so as not to be accused of excess negatively, can I envision an encouraging outcome on election day? Yes. Yes I can. I hope the winning candidate sees an injured kitten in the road, and his heart is softened and his mind is cleared, and he gives an acceptance speech that resonates with all Americans, and opens a dialog that begins to heal this fractured land. See, I can still dream.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, it’s just such a lovely image, I couldn’t resist. I got it from this site. It’s destruction from Hurricane Sandy. The image says a lot to me. Who is this woman? Where is she going?)

Written by unitedcats

November 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Hurricane Sandy and Related News

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This close to the election, everything seems to revolve around the election. At least if one is a hard-core Republican. Or more on point, everything seems to revolve around hating Obama. The bodies weren’t even cold in Benghazi and Romney was heaping criticism on Obama, and he never let up. Odd, I don’t recall the GOP ever criticizing Bush for his military fiascoes, but once Obama was in charge, nothing but criticism. Hurricane Sandy appears to be the same. A Republican governor praises Obama for his prompt and effective response to Hurricane Sandy, and right wing pundits are foaming at the mouth. Classy, real classy. I used to be a Republican, but the party I knew at least acknowledged that we were all Americans, and that it was the politician’s job to work together to run the country.  Now Republicans seem to be trying to outdo themselves at reaching ever more ridiculous levels of partisanship. Granted there are voices on the left falling into the same trap, but I’ve yet to hear any liberals criticizing Obama for helping out a Republican governor. Plenty of them have praised Governor Christie though, I was impressed. Yeah, the storm was a break for Obama, but the Republicans could have handled the situation with far more dignity, instead they made it clear no matter how bad things get, no matter how many Americans die; Obama and the people who support him, tens of millions of Americans, can go f**k themselves. I’ll be glad when the election is over and Romney can move on to being a rodeo clown.

Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy as some are calling it, it was quite the storm. At least 90 dead in the USA, far more in the Caribbean. It wasn’t a super powerful storm, but it was super huge, one of the biggest hurricanes on record, it affected 24 states in the USA and numerous nations in the Carribean. Sandy wasn’t unprecedented, but it was certainly unusual. It’s already on track to be the second most damaging USA East Coast hurricane ever. Still, several times a century a storm like this can be expected to hit New York. And the frequency will be going up as the tropical seas get warmer. The real damage was caused by the storm surge. A storm surge is a pile of water pushed ahead of a storm by winds, surges of over 30 feet have been recorded. Think a tide thirty feet high. Not a pretty sight, storm surges are the big killer in hurricanes and cyclones. On the plus side, they can be prevented. A storm surge killed thousands in Holland in 1953, giant coastal defenses were built to prevent it happening again. Such were suggested for New York long ago, the idea is being revisited in the aftermath of Sandy. We’ll see.

A discussion of Sandy wouldn’t be complete without some mention of global warming. Was Sandy caused by global warming? It’s impossible to say, global warming is about climate, not weather. A fact that global climate change deniers conveniently ignore pretty much every time there is a severe snowstorm somewhere. Granted plenty of global warming activists are claiming that Sandy is clear proof of global warming. I feel their frustration, the globe increasingly is having the kind of extreme weather events that global warming predicts, the fact that it’s not possible to conclusively say that a particular event was caused by global warming is very difficult to explain to people who want to resist science they don’t approve of. However, even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it made it worse. That seems to be pretty clear to the climatologists. And at least it got the topic back on the news, that’s a good thing. Good for everyone except the coal and oil industry, sadly they own a lot of think tanks, politicians, and journalists … and they’re not afraid to use them.

In other Sandy  news, a Brazilian model, Nana Gouvea, thought it would make a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. One pic helpfully posted above. Her pics went viral. She got heaps of criticism and outrage. Granted it is a tasteless and tacky thing to do. On the other hand, she got tons of publicity. No harm, no foul. It’s not like she’s aspiring for political office, and she didn’t actually hurt anyone. I think it’s a clever idea. Ya, people are outraged. So what? On a scale of one to ten when it comes to outrageous items in the news, this is a zero. There’s tons of sleaze and crime every day far more deserving of outrage than a tasteless photo shoot. Priorities people, priorities. Heck, as my friend Steve Burke said: “Some guys will be seeing the damage for the first time thanks to these photos.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, they aren’t being used for profit and are central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who to credit the top one to, the second I assume is owned by Ms Noumea herself. Since I linked to her site and praised her photo shoot, hopefully that’s attribution enough. It would be nice if someday copyright law could be re-written to reflect reality, alas industry is easily the slowest element in a culture to adapt to changing times, and often uses its influence to impeded progress.  Another blog post for another day.)