Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

YOU’RE A LYING DOG-FACED PONY SOLDIER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

February 10, 2020 at 7:34 am

TRUMP’S SOTU 2020: “EVERYTHING’S GREAT! YAY ME!” ETC

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Well, the post title is Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address in a nutshell. He made really expansive claims about jobs and the economy and other stuff, most of which was overblown or misleading. I’m going to avoid all that, the details aren’t really important, nor am I qualified to discuss most of them. And hey, pretty sure all presidents exaggerate their record, it’s only human. In any event, no, America is not in some sort of magical economic boom because of Trump. There’s been some improvement, but almost all were trending up before he took office.

It was more Trump’s background assumptions that bothered me. In semi random order, a few highlights of what Trump said … and didn’t say.  His obsession with Obama was once again evident. First president in my life fixated on comparing himself with and putting down his predecessor. It’s weird on two levels. First, the problems he blames Obama for were basically Fox New fantasies; Obama did an OK job running the country, and even managed to put some restraint on federal spending. Obama didn’t create any big problems, unlike his predecessor, who gifted Obama with the biggest economic crash since the great depression in the thirties. So Trump’s fixation on Obama is childish and petulant.

The deficit is something Trump didn’t talk about. It’s exploded under Trump. Gotta love how the GOP is all about fiscal responsibility when the Dems are overspending, but whistle and shuffle away when their guy is saddling our grandchildren with debt. And sadly the exploding deficit will almost certainly be used as an excuse to cut social programs, not military spending …

Yes, Trump bragged about military spending, which was even higher under Obama. It saddens me now that both parties claim that ‘all guns/no butter’ is all about ‘protecting our freedom.’ Our freedom is not in any danger from overseas, the US military has enough firepower to destroy the planet many times over. No nation is going to attack us, we’d turn them into a parking lot. And yet with all this military spending, we still can’t beat the Taliban? We’re both giving tons of money to war profiteers, and not even getting anything for it. There’s nothing to brag about here, just another president who promised less war and broke his promise.

Trump made a comment about ending “job killing” regulations. Sigh. Anytime someone claims regulations are killing jobs, it’s just corporate propaganda for “these regulations prevent us from passing environmental and health costs onto the public.” Corporations being prevented from poisoning the planet and killing people is a good thing. And the kind of regulations Trump has been getting rid of all fall into this category I am afraid.

And lastly, the presidential Medal of Freedom for Rush Limbaugh. He’s a very popular entertainer … among some Americans. Rush is also a hate monger who has devoted his career to denigrating huge numbers of Americans. How does a guy whose career is based on driving Americans apart and encouraging them to hate other Americans qualify for a Medal of Freedom? I’ve listened to Rush too, endless strings of false arguments and lies. No pandering to Trump’s base here, nope. LOL.

People believe the lies though. People like Trump apparently. Trump claimed to be inclusive, yet gives a medal to a guy who is the nation’s foremost promoter of the opposite? Granted the MSNBC/CNN/BBC view of reality is skewed and limited, but so is Fox News reality. I think Obama, for all his faults, understood that. I’m not sure Trump does. This is what scares me about Trump, I think he actually believed what he was saying. The alternative, he really is just a con-artist cashing in on the biggest con of his life, is worse.

In any event, Trump got acquitted by the Senate today in his impeachment ‘trial.’ No surprise, like the still unsettled Iowa caucus, another gift to Trump from the Dems. A Hail Mary attempt to impeach the man, which only helped his chances for reelection. I don’t understand it. Got hints though, found a you-tube video that explains why Trump is still popular despite his broken promises. A future blog. Fun times.

Post on the Battle of Stalingrad still in the works. Another case of a national leader insisting “Everything is fine!” when it definitely wasn’t. Sigh. So, to end on a good note, on February 5th 1985 the Third Punic War officially ended. After 2,131 years, the longest war in human history was finally over. Yeah, world peace is possible! I’m celebrating the anniversary, skol!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Catapult’ Edward Poynter 1868. Roman soldiers manning a catapult during the siege of Carthage in 146BC. Credit: Edward Poynter. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 5, 2020 at 10:36 pm

IOWA’S CAUCUS TO NOWHERE

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OMG. Well, glad I went to bed at ten. Never dreamt the “technical issues” would still be delayed as of this AM. My take now: It’s over, the DNC is determined that stopping progressives is more important than winning back the White House. Four more years of Trump coming, or maybe a corporate shill like Biden. Sigh. I hope I’m wrong.

That was my first impression (unedited) when I woke up this morning and saw that the Iowa Caucus results were still unavailable. I caucused, for one of those rare times in life I was in the midst of an historical event. An event that’s still going on. So I’m going to write about it as it unfolds.

My local caucus seemed badly run to me, but I’m sure nothing out of the unexpected. It’s the only Iowa caucus I’ve ever been to, so no standard of comparison. They were using a “new system,” something we had been warned about as the date approached. We as in local campaigners and volunteers trying to get out the vote for our candidate. We went, we caucused, we came home. We turned on the TV. I went to bed or so leaving a room full of Bernie volunteers (who were edgily confident of victory before the caucus) to talk among themselves and watch talking heads on TV trying to say something non insipid (increasingly failing) as they awaited the official results.

I went to bed because I’m not much of a party guy. I’m not going to have anything to say in a room full of excited Bernie supporters watching the caucus fail to unfold. I would have excused myself from a Superbowl party for the same reason. I did occasionally hear people talking all night long, and wondered what was still happening. And here I am, 520am Central Time. Still waiting.

Second impression: I think this means one of two things. Hopeless incompetence on the part of the DNC, because this looks really bad. The GOP base must be going nuts with glee and finger pointing about the silly stupid liberals. Or worse, this was a designed strategy to spike the progressive surge in the Democrat base, the people who want the DNC to go back to representing workers, unions, and regular Americans.

I haven’t read anything past the BBC headline linked above. My thinking will evolve while events unfold today, I’m going to wade into the sh*tstorm that must be going on in social media. Like jumping into a shark cage during a feeding frenzy, it’s for science! And informing my readers. So this is a “live” post. Have a great day everyone, don’t let the crazy get you down, I’ll be back, I will update later today.

8:11 AM Tuesday 4 Feb Update

It’s like being a passenger on the Titanic. Well, maybe not that extreme. Like the Romans watching when Emperor Commodus decided he was a God he fought in the colosseum. Well, not quite. It’s like anyone in history who looked around and said, sheesh, this is really happening, isn’t one? The first big lesson, reality bats last. Another historical event no one saw coming. People that claim to predict the future are full of it. People who claimed to have predicted the future just got lucky. Yet one or two good hits and one can make a career out of “predicting” the future, be it as a medium, a pollster, or what have you. People are just that eager to believe the future can be reliably predicted.

Still no results. Various campaigns are releasing their own numbers. The right is chortling about Democrat incompetence. Democrats are all over the place, though certainly seeing plenty of people convinced this is deliberate for some as yet anti-progressive purpose. IE Biden got clobbered, and the DNC is desperate to cover that up. I dunno, could just be a combination of things, incompetence figuring in there somewhere. It could be the beginning of the end for the Dems 2020 hopes, it could blow over in a few days. Then there’s this, 600-Pound Butter Cow Sculpture Wins Caucus. From 2012, but still relevant.

Part of this stems from the fact that the Dems platform since Reagan has been “We’re Not the GOP!” A pretty hard place to generate excitement from. This all does reinforce my thinking that the election campaign has as much relevance to the average American as the Superbowl. It doesn’t really matter who wins so long as everyone attends the game. On the other hand, Trump has really hurt some friends of mine in very real ways like denial of medical care. That’s new in my experience, the first administration in my life actively hostile to large numbers of Americans because of who they are.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Meena. Founder of RAWA, the Revolutionary Alliance of the Women of Afghanistan. I was planning on writing about her today, a lot to unpack there. The gentle reader never heard of her? That’s one of the many things to unpack. God rest her soul, I support her cause and goals.

Maybe more on Meena and RAWA later. Back to caucus hell.

10AM, Tuesday 4 Feb Update

Well, it’s over. Trump wins. We’ve gone beyond clusterf*ck now, they could have tallied up the results on their fingers by now. What a gift for Trump on the day of the SOTU (State of the Union Address.) I imagine some bizarre alternate reality now where the caucus results won’t be announced until the eve of the election. I joked with friends about Trump cancelling the election and we could all relax and go home. Never dreamt the DNC would be the one handing the election to Trump on a silver platter. Also remember a lot of people wondering why the Iowa caucus was such a big deal. The same reason getting out of the starting gate in a race is a big deal. Gonna be an interesting campaign if this is any indication, the way watching a train wreck in slow motion is interesting. Jesus wept.

11:30AM Tuesday Feb 4

Three more points as we wait, still, for the caucus results to be announced. I remember friends positing that the raft of Democratic candidates (There were three in the 2016 caucus, and only two counted) was a deliberate attempt to siphon votes away from Bernie so that Biden, the anointed establishment candidate, would quickly emerge as the front runner. Seems far-fetched, but secret deals in smoke filled rooms have always been a hallmark of American politics. If not all politics. If that’s the case, boy, it blew up in their faces spectacularly. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Biden’s performance was anything less than disappointing. I don’t think the DNC really understands how much the average American wants real change, not just more empty promises. And Biden is about an empty a promise as it gets, especially since his promises come down to “I won’t rock the boat!” Dudes, the boat needs rocking, that’s why Trump won in 2016.

Also reminded of times I pointed out that Clinton’s loss to Trump pretty much showed she couldn’t run an effective campaign. Loyalists insist it was anything from sunspots to invisible Russian trolls. Well, the DNC just demonstrated they can’t even run an effective state caucus! And this is the party that’s going to beat Trump? Not off to a good start.

Lastly, I feel so bad for all the staff and volunteers in every candidate’s campaign. They put in huge amounts of effort and enthusiasm into their chosen candidate. And as the hours drag by, it more and more seems like it was all one giant waste of effort. Even when the results are announced, I seriously doubt it’s going to be too little too late. One or two candidates needed to make a strong showing so others would start dropping out and the leaders could start to pick up momentum. Instead we have this:

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This is not going to end well. Sigh.

Last update, Tuesday night, 4 Feb 2020

They started to release results. Buttigeig leads, Sanders in second, Biden in a distant fourth. All kind of irrelevant, the damage is done. Now off to watch The State of the Union Address. Taking one for the team so to speak. I’ll blog on that tomorrow.

Comments and shares appreciated!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Public domain image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 4, 2020 at 4:37 am

THE DAY THE DEMOCRACY DIED

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a freaking week. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

February 1, 2020 at 7:47 am

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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It’s funny how memory works. I got a housecoat for Christmas, the first I’ve had in decades at least. (And how did I get to an age where I can say “decades at least?”) Putting it on this morning I suddenly remembered as a child I had a red housecoat. And I used to wear it and pretend I was a Redcoat, a British colonial era soldier. Something I haven’t thought about since I was a kid, but the memory was still buried there waiting for something to trigger it. I think I read once that smell was the best sense for triggering old memories, and a quick Internoodle search confirms it.

Speaking of Redcoats, 141 years ago today, over 700 of them had a really bad day. The famous Battle of Isandlwana, where an army of Zulu warriors surprised and overwhelmed a British force of over 1,000 regular and colonial troops. Warriors armed as seen above, vs trained British troops with modern rifles and cannons. It was the worst defeat of British forces to an indigenous force in history, over 1300 dead. Basically the British had wildly underestimated the Zulu’s capabilities, and had split their invading forces into a number of columns. And this particular column was more or less a reserve force, commanded by a guy who had no real combat creds. Who had set up camp without any thought that it might come under attack. So when the Zulu main army was spotted a few miles away, they had little time to set up proper defences before 20,000 guys with spears and a bad attitude showed up. This defeat ended the first British invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. They shipped an even bigger army south for the second invasion, that did the trick. Whew, can’t have independent African Kingdoms, it might give people the wrong idea. Brown people that is.

A few days ago was the anniversary, well, two anniversaries of the sinking of two British submarines. K-13 sank on 19 January 1917 and K-5 on 20 January 1920. The K-class submarines were an ill starred design, a number of them sank by accident killing hundreds of sailors, none was lost due to enemy action. Basically the K-class were big submarines designed to keep up with the battle fleet, the idea at the time being that submarines would take part in major surface warship battles. It was a bad idea that never worked well in practice. The feature of these subs that really got my attention was that they were 103 meters long (huge for a submarines of the day) but their maximum safe underwater depth was 60 meters. In other words if they dived too steeply, their bow would be at crush depth while their stern was still at the surface. The astute reader can guess why so many were lost accidentally.

In my continuing adult education program, I went to see Andrew Yang speak last night. I was impressed, in fact I may get a MATH hat. I already hung a MATH sign in my window. MATH is Yang’s thing: Make America Think Harder. Can’t argue with that, thinking appears to be a lost art in America. He makes a big deal about making giant corporations pay their taxes, because it’s insane that Fortune 400 companies get away with not paying any taxes. And he points out that giving money to poor and working class Americans and cradle-to-grave health care would be tremendous stimulants to the whole economy, not just the economy of the rich, the economy Washington has been stimulating for decades.

One thing he pointed out that really made me think, is that life expectancy has been dropping in the USA the past three years. The last time life expectancy dropped in the USA was over 100 years ago during the 1918 global flu pandemic which killed over 500,000 Americans. And no, life expectancy continues to climb in the rest of the developed world, can’t blame a global epidemic for this one. And if Trump was really doing the bang up job he claims he is, how does he account for this? How do his supporters account for this? And if it’s not Trump’s fault, what is he going to do to fix it? Snort. I’m not holding my breath.

And speaking of global pandemics, the Chinese Coronavirus continues to spread. It’s not time to panic yet, but it is getting a little worrisome. The ugly truth is that letting people travel all over the planet willy nilly is a really bad idea, and sooner or later it means that the next global pandemic will be completely out of control before we can do anything about it. Another one for the “We’re not really an intelligent species” file.

There’s still all sorts of stuff going on in the Middle East, but that’s for another day. Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Zulu warriors in 1882. Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law. It is from a book whose copyright has expired.)

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Elections, History, Trump, War

WHY I’M VOTING FOR BERNIE SANDERS*

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*This post will likely piss off everyone. It’s what I do. What can I say, it’s a gift. Note, first off I didn’t say I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and when I say vote, I mean caucus for. That’s right, I live in Iowa, where my primary vote actually means something. Muhahaha! Sorry, got carried away; it’s all the cornfields, they get into one’s dreams. So I will caucus for Bernie. I’m not quite sure what caucusing is, but afterwards I will blog about it. Who I will vote for in the general election, it depends on who’s running I suppose.

So yes, why? Why is someone who mutilated ballots in old elections and whose last act of political activism was protesting against Jane Fonda in the seventies, why am I now doing stuff for Bernie Sanders? Because Bernie Sanders is talking about the real issues destroying America. Wealth inequality, climate change. And our insanely aggressive imperialistic foreign policy.  And health care for all is a no brainer, literally everyone wins. All of which I am happy to defend logically. And he’s consistent, unlike faux progressives like the Clintons or Obama, Sander’s life history is actually progressive. Plus a lot of my dear friends are enthusiastic Bernie supporters, that has to count for something, right?

That being said, essentially I see my Bernie support as a version of “voting for the lesser evil.” I’m a cynical old SOB, Clinton and Obama both made all sorts of progressive promises, then delivered to the Pentagon and the bankers. I’d like to believe Bernie is different, and I do in the sense I’m happy to caucus for him and provide logistical support for his local campaign efforts. In the sense that I’m a Bernie fan, nope, I suspect he’s as much a part of the system as any other career Washington politician. He just comes from a local political background where being progressive is harmless. And just to recap, yes, I am a cynical old SOB.

I also think the American governing system is so controlled by special interests, oligarchs, what have you; that even if Sanders gets elected, he will be effectively paralyzed by a largely uncooperative congress. And then the GOP will make hay claiming it’s now proved that progressive policies don’t work. Depressing, the Trump junior as president alternate reality. I mean, the Bushs managed a presidential dynasty, why not the Trumps? On the other hand, I can imagine a world where  Sanders is sincere, manages to get a few policies up and running, and the results speak for themselves. A man can dream, right? On the gripping hand, I can  imagine a world where Sanders gets wellstoned.

A few other observations. The campaign in general is just another example of how stinking wasteful America is. Staggering amounts of time and money are being poured into a “campaign” that is essentially non stop now. Such a waste of time, energy, and money. Granted, waste is a part and parcel of modern America, but it seems to be much worse now than back in my day. And widespread waste in a society where so many are wanting seems to be a symptom of, well, something bad.

The other observation is just how far the political reality gap is these days. I saw a FOX news snippet where the newscaster called Sanders and Warren “two commies.” No people, Sanders and Warren aren’t communists. America does have a communist party, but its heyday was before World War Two, it has maybe 10,000 members now. Sanders and Warren aren’t socialists either. Again, there is an actual American socialist party, but they too are a shadow of what they once were. We essentially have one political party with two factions, but they play this game where the other party “is going to destroy America.” No, neither the Dem base nor the GOP base want to “destroy America.” Get a hold of yourselves people.

Oh, yeah, go Bernie!

And lastly, my life lately has been a perfect storm of intersecting global and personal issues, which has interfered with writing. On the plus side, the older I get, the easier it is to deal with crap.

Have a great weekend everyone. Remember, any day you wake up in the morning is a good day.

Comments welcome.

(Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image: Bernie Sanders with cat, photoshopped image. Credit: The whole story here, claiming Fair Use under US copyright law. Go cats, Go Bernie!)

Written by unitedcats

January 17, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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