Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

THE AMERICAN WEST IS BURNING

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It’s just one god damn thing after another in 2020. Terrible wildfires are raging across California and Oregon now, dozens dead at least, whole rural towns destroyed. And the fire season is just beginning. My friends living in California can’t even go outside now it’s so smokey. I lived in California for decades and never experienced anything like it. My heart goes out to those who lost everything, especially to those who lost family and friends. A natural disaster on top of a natural disaster, what a nightmare. I’m talking about the pandemic of course, which has just made it all the harder to fight the fires.

After reading the following article, I realized I have been wrong about the west’s fire history. In the eighties science belatedly realized that fire was a natural and essential part of western ecosystems, and that putting all fires out for a century had been a terrible mistake. Before Americans settled in the west, millions of acres burned every year. The vast majority of these fires basically being grass fires, because with regular burns huge amounts of deadwood and brush didn’t accumulate. By putting out all the fires, huge amounts of flammable brush built up, so now when fires burn they get huge and burn hotter and deadlier. I thought we had learned a lesson, for example in 1988 they let Yellowstone burn, to much uninformed public outrage. 

I was wrong. While scientists had realized the problem in the eighties, it didn’t get translated into public policy. Basically, politics, inertia, corruption. California and other western states should be burning millions of acres a year to reduce the amount of accumulated deadwood, instead they’ve burned less than 50,000 acres per year in prescribed burns. Add that to a 20 year drought almost certainly global warming related, and the whole west is just a wildfire waiting to happen. Read the article here: They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

Can’t blame this one on the GOP either. California has been pretty much a Democrat state for decades. Which means fuck all. The point here isn’t partisan politics, it’s that American politics have been hostile to science based solutions all my life. Granted it’s gotten worse in recent decades as the GOP has substituted fantasy for science in things like abortion and global warming, but it’s not limited to the GOP. Whole books have been written about America’s aversion to science and learning, it’s a mystery to me. In both natural disasters, the fires and Covid-19, experts have been shouting warnings since the 1980s, yet little to nothing was done. For shame.

Back to the matter at hand, the Covid-19 pandemic and the election. Four links for the gentle reader’s consideration. Real world, politics, paranoia, and fantasy. Hey, it’s the end of an era, I’m gonna cover as many bases as I can. First, politics: Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19. If true, well, not like we didn’t know that Trump seems to consider Covid-19 an image problem, rather than an actual crisis to be dealt with. Horrifying and Stalinesque. That’s modern America.

Real world: College athletes show signs of possible heart injury after COVID-19. Yeah, Covid-19 ain’t just an upper respiratory infection, Covid-19 gets into the heart. Covid-19 is not a hoax, not a flu, not a cold. It’s a new and scary virus that people should do everything they can to avoid. A message I will continue to repeat because it’s a matter of life or death

In the paranoid file for today: Roger Stone calls for Trump to seize total power if he loses the election. Well, he’s repaying Trump for the pardon? IDK, apparently he made these statements on Alex Jones’s Infowars. Alex Jones makes Rush Limbaugh look like Carl Sagan in comparison. (No, not really, they’re both off the rails.) I hope we don’t see some horrible shitshow after the election, but stuff like this is not reassuring. 

Lastly, good news! Studio Ghibli Movies Are Available On HBO Max And Now I Know What I’m Doing All Week. I’ve only seen a few of them, but enjoyed them immensely. “My Neighbor Totoro” is my favorite so far. Fantasy, science fiction, and psychological fantasy all wrapped up together. Kinda a genre on their own. Enjoy.

Stay safe everyone, hope all are having a good weekend. Likes, shares, comments appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: “Bobcat Fire view from our kitchen window in Monrovia, CA, September 10, 2020”.  Credit: Eddiem360. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Written by unitedcats

September 12, 2020 at 8:11 pm

HOPE ALL HAD A GOOD LABOR DAY

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No parades I hope. The above was in New York City in 1882. There are people alive today who personally knew people in this picture. We still have connections to the past, even as long ago as 1882. I’m guessing Labor Day was a lot more important back then, decades of “labor unions are bad” propaganda has eviscerated the labor movement in the US. Reagan firing the striking air controllers was the beginning of the end for workers’ rights in America.

It’s horribly sad that the GOP has gone down the “They’re going to take away your rights!” schick about rights like speech, gun rights, and religion … when none of those freedoms was in any danger. Your right to a decent job, decent health care, decent benefits, to organize unions, get a good public education, enjoy modern public infrastructure … oops, sorry. Those don’t count. The rich need all that money. Wealth inequality has reached frightening heights in the US, and Covid-19 is just making it worse.

So the next few months in America will be fun. States are broke, cities are broke, the CARE act expired, and the Senate is disinclined to do anything. On the plus side, other than a few Trump boats sinking, this holiday weekend there’s been no new outbreaks of violence, police riots, police shootings, vigilante shootings, etc. I had a fairly relaxing holiday weekend. Phew. 

No immediate bad news, but another grim development on the Covid-19 front: Mysterious Post-COVID Syndrome Affecting Kids Appears to Be Even Worse Than We Thought. This is not a virus anyone in their right mind wants to catch, but I’m  still seeing people who don’t get that yet. 

Trump did throw more fat on the fire today: Trump launches unprecedented attack on military leadership he appointed. This Trump quote was especially interesting:

“I’m not saying the military’s in love with me — the soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” 

Wow. The POTUS criticizing war profiteering? Blasphemy! Of course Trump also brags about how much money he threw at the military, so it’s not like he’s doing anything about it. It’s just damned unusual for it to be publicly acknowledged that American military spending has been out of control since 1945. It’s driven a global binge of military spending really, armaments are the world’s number two industry. In any event, Trump is occasionally right on in his observations on the world, because he doesn’t understand the Neocon ideology that has ruled Washington for decades, or even the Cold War ideology underpinning it.

What the Pentagon will do if there is an ugly disputed election is a concern. I have no freaking clue. Anyone who claims they do is full of it. The Romans had civil wars when there were multiple claimants to be the emperor. Yeah, civil wars weren’t as ugly back then, civilians generally had little to worry about. We’ll see I guess.

What worries me is how widespread the idea is that Democrats are the enemy of America, traitors who should just be eliminated. Trump seems to be doubling down on the idea, it’s not like he has much of a record to run on. More on that in a subsequent blog.

I lived in Berkeley for decades. The nation’s center for anarchists. There must be dozens of them. Yeah, they ain’t driving national protests. That’s an aside. Short blog today. Almost took the day off, but at this point, it’s a point of honor to blog daily until the election is resolved. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.  

(Image: Public domain.)

Written by unitedcats

September 7, 2020 at 8:10 pm

LABOR DAY WEEKEND 2020, THE MADNESS CONTINUES

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A reader alerted me to an interesting ad placement in my last post, image above. Coincidence? IDK, marketing gets more sophisticated every day. Not sure I consider myself a part of the media. I’m a guy who’s been trying to figure out the world since I was 13 or so, and writing helps in that regard. Honestly, I don’t think the mainstream media has been fair to Trump. Fox News has been almost obsequious, that’s hardly fair. And the rest of the mainstream media has basically played softball with Mr Trump. He’s got nothing to complain about.

Another surreal day in 2020 America.  Whoever the writers are for 2020, they sure come up with some zingers. I think we got a whole new crew, the years before 2020 were bland compared to this year. I didn’t get any emails from future historians yet, so either there are no future historians, or sending emails into the past isn’t possible. Dammit, I thought that was a promising approach. Saying “Computer, end program!” aloud hasn’t worked either. I’ll keep trying, I have other ideas.

So, Trump lost the support of a lot of veterans by shit talking about them. He’s denying it of course, but there’s been too much corroboration at this point. It’s about what I would expect from a draft evader. A draft evader is like a draft dodger but without the stones to own what they did. In other news, the sinking of four(five?) ships in a Trump ship flotilla has been a gold mine for meme makers. No one died, so glad people are having fun with it. OK, gonna share one image:

I hope it’s a preview of the coming election. This is the first time in my life I’ve felt strongly that I should vote. One of the many reasons I don’t trust the polls. We’re in uncharted waters with this election.

Another thing that came out today (again, kudos to the reality writers,) apparently Trump hired a faux Obama: Trump hired an Obama impersonator to yell at and “fire,” according to Michael Cohen’s book. I couldn’t make this shit up. Is it true? Who knows. Trump’s disdain for Obama is legend, and he’s certainly undone as much of Obama’s work as he could. Obama publicly roasted Trump once, and there are those who think Trump’s whole run for POTUS was driven by a desire to destroy the legacy of a man so powerful he could publicly humiliate Trump. A better man would have taken the roasting in good stride, even taken it for the acknowledgement as an equal the roasting was. Trump is not that man. 

I digress. Kinda missed it at last week, but really, Trump may think letting Covid-19 run its course would grant America “herd immunity” and it would all be great? I hope this isn’t true: Millions could die if Trump listens to the adviser he hired from Fox’s green room. No Mr Trump, letting a poorly understood disease run wild in the off chance it will magically vanish is neither scientific nor logical. We may find out though, America is the “control group” for Covid-19. Let’s see what happens to a population that decides not to halt the spread of Covid-19! I mean, even some of our leaders agree: Idaho House passes resolution to end coronavirus emergency declaration. This isn’t going to end well.

So in review. Craziest election/times of my life, gonna chronicle daily as long as I can. I’m voting for Biden because he’s going to put Dr. Fauci in charge of the nation’s Covid-19 defense, and Biden was decent to a panhandler in the street. Two good reasons. I’m voting against Trump because of his abysmal response to Covid-19, and I’m a veteran. I served to defend the right of Mr Trump to call me a sucker and a loser. And I’m going to vote against him for having such a shitty attitude towards those who served. Convince me otherwise. Stay safe everyone, enjoy Labor Day, I hope nothing terrible happens. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Top image: Screengrab from Facebook, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Second Image: The same, unknown attribution, historically important image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 6, 2020 at 7:17 pm

LABOR DAY WEEKEND DAY ONE, TRUMP BOAT PARADE HAS AN ARMADA MOMENT

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Well, no real scary news today. Knock on wood. Trump is vehemently denying he called American war dead “losers” and “suckers.” Even Fox News is corroborating some of it, granted RawStory is a slanted source: Chaos at Fox as some refuse to believe the network’s own reporting on Trump’s contempt for troops. I guess it’s still hearsay, no primary source has come forward to corroborate it. It certainly sounds like something Trump would say, the guy loves to call names. Thank you Rush Limbaugh and others for mainstreaming name calling as a debate tactic. The Republic is so much better for it. Snort.

No burning American cities yet. I have friends in both Portland and NYC, all is well. No, NYC is not “anarchy, violence and destruction.” Trump’s campaign is just the fear mongering the right has been doing for decades on steroids. Biden is run by some sort of secret anarchist cabal whose only goal is to destroy America! And only Trump can stop him! The presidential debate is going to be interesting. Yes, there has been some looting. As someone pointed out, there’s looting after hurricanes, sporting events, and others. There’s always crooks waiting for an opportunity now. Plenty have been apprehended in the act, few if any violent anarchists. Lots of just plain ordinary folks, and a few white militia members for fun and games. 

Trump’s sticking with “there will be a vaccine just before the election.” Yeah, the guy who claimed Covid-19 was all a hoax and that it would all just magically go away is going to save us in the nick of time. Covid-19 really is the only issue for me. Since all Trump is doing about the pandemic is still basically nothing, his vaccine promise is hollow. At least Biden is planning on doing the things Trump should have done months ago. One guy’s promising to take the rational science based steps to fight Covid-19, the other guy is promising it will all magically go away. Seems like a no brainer choice to me. 

So four boats sank at a Trump flag boat parade in Texas. No one was hurt or killed fortunately. Making a big splash online. (Sorry.) One tweet I’ve heard about says they were sunk by the Antifa Navy. Smiles. No, looks like a blustery day in the pics I’ve seen. The idea was to cover one’s boats with boat flags. This is like putting a bunch of little sails on a boat not designed as a sailboat. A wind came up and a few of the most ambitious flag boats went down. My guess at least. Knowing boaters, alcohol may have contributed. Oh well, I can only hope this is the worst news of the day. Dare I check?

Whew. Trump is calling the reporter who accused him of name calling, names. At least he’s consistent, anyone who criticizes Trump or points out one of his flaws: “He’s a poopyhead!” It’s like having a three year old for president. How did this happen? How did the most powerful nation the world has ever seen, Rome’s greatest descendant ruling an Empire Caeser couldn’t even have dreamt of …how the hell did a stupid, immature, utterly corrupt, con-artist become Caesar? I hope future historians figure this out, and somehow explain it to me in a reverse timed email. (Yes, I’m talking to you future historian.) 

This whole Trump and Covid-19 catastrophe has lowered my optimism for the ultimate survival of the human race. I think we’re a type 13 civilization. Yes, scientists are still building machines that manipulate little bits of reality at hyper extreme levels to test their theories about the nature of reality itself: New evidence that the quantum world is even stranger than we thought. I’m generally a huge proponent of science, it’s still the most useful paradigm for understanding God’s creation that humans have yet developed. It’s certainly made a misstep here and there, but unlike ideology or religion, science is self correcting as an inherent part of the paradigm. 

So I’m a little queasy about things like supercolliders. When scientists say they may be recreating events that only occurred right after the Big Bang, I’m like, maybe there’s a reason they haven’t occurred since? On the plus side, unlike Trump’s inexplicable failure to defend America against a global pandemic, if a physics experiment alters reality in some way where we ain’t here no more, it will no doubt propagate at light speed; thus one second you’re here, the next … reality gone bye bye.

I’m enjoying my Labor Day weekend, I hope the gentle reader is enjoying their’s. I got a nice haul of acorn squash from my Covid-19 victory garden, pics will follow. I used the image above for a number of reasons. While I hate America’s wars, those that fight honorably in them deserve respect, shame on you Mr. Trump if the allegations are true. And yes, a reminder of the endless mounting Covid-19 death toll because Trump can’t or won’t defend America against Covid-19. And lastly, fall is coming. Stay safe everyone, shares, likes, comments appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: graves, Arlington cemetery. Pixabay pic, may be used without attribution. Credit: SteenJepsen.)

Written by unitedcats

September 5, 2020 at 7:17 pm

ELECTION NIGHT NIGHTMARE?

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A friend sent me a video. Interesting video. It makes the case that we’ll see something truly horrifying on election night. It points out that Biden mail in votes are going to be likely double Trump’s mail in votes. According to their calculations, we might see Trump getting an overwhelming electoral college victory on election night from in person votes. And about ten days later as the mail in ballots are counted, Joe Biden becomes the winner.

I have no way of judging the accuracy of their calculations, so I have no idea how likely such a result is. It certainly seems plausible though, I can see no reason why it’s impossible. And then, we’d have a problem. The gentle reader gets one guess what the result of that would be. Yes, Trump would declare victory on election night and do everything in his power to cast doubt on the subsequent mail in ballots. It could get really ugly. Here’s the link to the video: The Terrifying Election Scenario That Could Rip America Apart.

And to make it even more fun, despite all his overblown fears of fraudulent votes, Trump asked his supporters in north Carolina to vote twice for him to “test the system.” That’s right, Trump urged his supporters to commit voter fraud to somehow prevent voter fraud? I’d say I’m not sure what he’s thinking, except I don’t think much thought goes into what Trump says. At least it gives ammo to the Democrats to demand scrupulously fair mail in vote counts. Still though, it’s throwing more gasoline on the dumpster fire the 2020 elections are shaping up to be.

2020 really highlights the transcendent archaic absurdity of America’s electoral system. In their efforts to set up a system that would prevent some populist from getting elected over the desires of the rich and powerful, the founding fathers set up a system that ultimately was incredibly undemocratic and easily manipulated by politicians. I mean gerrymandering was invented in 1812 for God’s sake, and the Constitution should immediately have been amended to prevent it. Nope, it’s still with us today, allowing political parties to get representation far beyond what their support warrants. And it’s gotten worse in recent decades as the GOP realized demographically they were more outvoted every year. If Trump wins in November despite losing the popular vote, that will mean three out of the last six presidential elections will have gone to the loser in the popular vote. All Republicans I might add. Yeah, some democracy.

A couple more notes in the margins. I’m a bit under the weather today. And the 2020 new normal baseline is frazzled, depressed, angry. Hoping it’s just allergies/air quality. I’d be really annoyed if I caught the Rona. So more Trump shenanigans:  Trump orders review to defund NYC, other ‘anarchist’ cities. OK then. As I said in yesterday’s blog, the amount of civil unrest in the US right now is pretty modest. There’s no “cities under siege.” Anarchists are not flooding the streets, there’s not widespread rioting and looting. So this is just another of Trump’s attempts to claim liberals are the problem and he is the solution.  It will play well with his base, and that’s all that matters to Trump.

In other Trump news (it is 2020) Trump claims that Americans who died in war are “losers and suckers.” My guess is that this isn’t going to help his popularity with veterans: Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’. It’s a depressing article. According to it Trump simply can’t understand why anyone would do anything that wasn’t out of self interest. His whole term in office certainly reflects that. I mean, that’s what con artists do, anything goes as long as they benefit. Trump University showed beyond any doubt he doesn’t care who he hurts as long as he benefits.

So I guess this to some extent explains the popularity of Q-Anon conspiracy theories among Trump supporters. Unable to admit that their beloved leader doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself and his family and cronies, why, Trump must be secretly engaged in a fight against terrible enemies of all that is right and good! Confirmation bias on steroids. The Q-anon movement is still growing, and sucking in other conspiracy minded folks: How Covid-19 myths are merging with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

What a time to be alive. Yeah, the election isn’t going to end well. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: A Roman dodecahedron. Hundreds have been found. What is it for? No one knows. Just a reminder that no matter how much we think we understand, there are still things we don’t know. Even about ourselves. Seemed appropriate in these times, people are going to look back on 2020 America and wonder. Why didn’t they defend their country against Covid-19? It will be a mystery. I’m still mystified. Credit: Lokilech 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

September 3, 2020 at 7:44 pm

PEOPLE WHO DENY THINGS THEY WEREN’T ACCUSED OF ARE ADMITTING GUILT

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People who deny things they weren’t accused of are admitting guilt. That’s been one of my observations since I was a young man. I suppose there are codicils, there always are, nothing  is black and white. Still, as a general rule, when someone denies something they weren’t accused of, it should raise an eyebrow or two. I am here talking about Trump and him tweeting: 

“ … Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate — FAKE NEWS,”

Um, no one said anything about a series of mini-strokes Mr Trump. (The medical term is transient ischemic attack (TIA.) It’s basically a temporary stroke that lasts only a few minutes. It’s a forewarning of a possible stroke.) He is literally denying something that no one suggested.

That’s the problem with lying all the time, hard to remember what one has said. Trump was taken for an unscheduled hospital visit last fall. Is something up with his health? Unfortunately America has a long history of lying about the health of the POTUS. Cleveland. Wilson. Roosevelt. I can see why they do it, people are remarkably able to deny their health has failed, especially when the brain is involved. Wilson referred to himself as “slightly lame.” One whole side of his freaking body was paralyzed! And his cognitive functions were impaired, as you would expect when a major stroke caused brain damage. And it also makes sense for the people around an ill POTUS to keep up the fiction. Either out of cynical self-interest, or rationalizing it away. Human nature.

I pretty much suspect that something happened to Trump’s brain. I say this from a number of perspectives, but mostly based on his non response to Covid-19. He does not seem able to grasp that Covid-19 was a game changer and required an actual response, not his standard gestures and promises. That the world he inhabited had changed! And so here we are playing a national game of whack-a-mole as various states try to control outbreaks. All without anything resembling a national coherent strategy.

So yeah, there’s no one really home in Trump’s head. He’s just a walking collection of habits. And in the case of a con artist and habitual liar, these aren’t particularly useful habits for a POTUS. If it’s good, it’s his doing. Bad, his enemies. No enemies to blame? Make them up. His tweets and responses to interview questions are getting weirder and weirder. Hell, some of his recent interview responses have just been word salads. And he has no platform for his reelection campaign, just his usual habit of regurgitating Rush Limbaugh and Q-Anon nonsense. Like his latest claim about a planeload of antifa thugs: Black-clad thugs on a plane? What was Donald Trump talking about? No one knows, no evidence has been provided. And it makes no sense, why would they wear black clothes on a plane?

This is what happens when one turns a political party into a religion. There’s nothing left but dogma, and it doesn’t have to actually make sense. And anyone who disagrees, why they are Satan’s minions. Deceived by the anti-religion, socialism, communism, whatever. The fact that the anti-religion doesn’t exist, no matter. The Jewish conspiracy Hitler was killing millions to fight didn’t exist. Small comfort to the millions killed. The number of socialists and anarchists in America is miniscule, the idea that they secretly control the Democratic party is laughable. It’s an idea that might get Trump reelected though. 

One has to remember that in the shining world of white Christian Republicanism … there’s no such thing as right wing violence. I’ve had right wingers absolutely freaking insist on that, all violence comes from the left. Even Hitler, he was a socialist don’t you know? And people like Kyle Ritterhouse and the police, why if they are violent they were forced into it defending themselves against leftist violence. Like I said, Evangelical Republicanism led by Trump is a religion now. A cult really. They have the answers, any problems that arise are because people didn’t accept them as saviors.

Reality is far more nuanced of course. That’s why the efforts of Trump, Napoleon, Hitler, Washington all came to naught. (Yes, I admire Washington in a way, but creating a country where only white male property owners have rights while everyone else was a second class citizen hasn’t turned into the paradise for all it was promised to be.) So yeah, Trump is not going to win the election and turn America into a paradise anymore than he did the first time. Granted Biden isn’t either, but I think there’s someone still home there.

I mean, Trump’s latest is telling everyone there will be a vaccine just before the election! What an incredible coincidence! Just another example of his magical thinking, since his higher functions are gone. (Look at Trump interviews from decades back, he at least was articulate and responded to questions in a sensible way, unlike his current word salads.) There’s absolutely zero reason to think a safe, tested, and effective vaccine will be available by November. And even if there is, vaccines are only one component of a national pandemic response. Which we don’t have yet. 

Oh well, Rambling on. It’s just so freaking weird to wake up every day in a country where mass death stalks the land, and the king is pretending it’s all under control. And his loyal followers agree even as they are dying. Maybe Trump will stroke out or otherwise become incapacitated before the election. Not that I’m sure that would help any. On the plus side, as a long time student of history, I now find history’s endless parade of stupidity, nonsense, and avoidable catastrophes far less perplexing. Human ignorance, gullibility, and stupidity is a feature, not a bug.

Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

PS. This has been bugging me. If American cities were actually under siege, if there was widespread violence  … people would be dying by the score! Whole blocks would be going up in flames! We’d see burning Walmarts on TV every night! I mean, in the Watts riots in 1965, the last major civil unrest in the US in my lifetime, 35 people were killed. Just in Watts! If something like that was happening nationally, hundreds would be dead! Whole neighborhoods would be burning. What, under a dozen people are dead? A handful of businesses? There are no freaking riots going on people; so responding as if there are is political theater, nothing more. Like Trump’s promised vaccine, pandemic theater. Neither is helping.

PPS. Guess what the big killer of cops is now? Covid-19. If Blue Lives Mattered Mr Trump, you’d do something about that, not make up stories about plane loads of antifa ninjas.

PPPS: Shares, likes, comments appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: A screengrab from The Drudge Report. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s an interesting site, it’s been an Oracle at Delphi for the right for decades, people should check it out.)

Written by unitedcats

September 2, 2020 at 7:44 pm

IGNORE THE CDC AND OTHER HORRIBLE RANDOM NEWS OF THE DAY

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Random notes today. A friend of a friend died of Covid-19. 44, good health. He actually was hospitalized, went home, and took a turn for the worse and died. One would think that as more and more people die, the deniers might start waking up. We’re approaching the point where one out of every one thousand Americans will have died of Covid-19.  The election campaign is more surreal all the time. Trump is now claiming that Biden is controlled by secret forces. “People in the dark shadows” and “people that you haven’t heard of” are working to get Biden elected. WTF is he talking about? No one knows. (Well, the Q-anon people no doubt think they know.) Conspiracy mongering at its best.

Having a president who is a science and reality denier is problematic at the best of times. During a pandemic, more than problematic: It Has Come to This: Ignore the C.D.C. Trump has basically forced the CDC to offer testing guidelines that are based on Trump’s desire to reduce the number of Covid-19 tests given, I guess he’s still thinking fewer cases make him look better. Yes, perception management as opposed to actually dealing with Covid-19.

Progress is being made on understanding Covid-19: A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged. Basically Covid-19 does seem to be a vascular disease, and science is starting to get some idea how it travels around the body wreaking havoc. Ain’t no freaking flu, that’s for sure. The other good thing is that this study suggests that some already FDA approved drugs might be helpful fighting Covid-19.

The Sturgis Motorcycle rally is now a Covid-19 test and trace nightmare. It’s believed that participants returned home to at least 60% of US counties. IE a one week rally was the equivalent of an outbreak in a major city in terms of its spreading potential. We’re not really an intelligent species when it comes right down to it. I think I want that on my gravestone. Anyhow, it was predicted: Revved by Sturgis Rally, COVID-19 infections move fast, far.

Speaking of which, Betsy deVos, the lady Trump put in charge of privatizing America’s public schools, says that the pandemic has been good for the US educational system. Yes, yes she did: Betsy DeVos is now arguing COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately a “good thing” for U.S. public education. It’s not really clear to me what exactly she means, she seems to be claiming it changed things. Strikes me as being akin to saying World War Two was ultimately a good thing for air travel. I guess, but pretty sure we would have developed jet airliners without World War Two. Just more of Trump’s efforts to play down, minimize, distract from the out of control pandemic happening on his watch.

And in some final weirdness, an Evangelical group’s efforts to have a fiberglass dinosaur removed from a McDonalds has come to naught: Christian Group Seeks Removal Of Dinosaur From Tucson McDonald’s. (I hate it when people conflate evangelicals with Christians, the majority of Christians have no problem with science. If anything science has proved that God’s creation is vastly grander than the Iron Age creation myths in the Bible.) Apparently they believe dinosaurs were a hoax made up by scientists to discredit the Bible. 23,000 people liked the Facebook page before it was taken down. The McDonald’s franchise in question said no way, it’s been a local landmark for near 30 years.

Let me guess. They’re Trump supporters. I used to wonder if people like this group were serious. Dinosaurs a hoax, really? By about 1830, nearly 200 years ago, it was irrefutable that Earth was at least millions of years old and there’s never been a global flood. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and about one third of Americans believe stuff that is patented hogwash. This is why we got Trump. And why what was once the most modern country on Earth is sliding backwards. Utter hogwash promulgated for votes and ratings.

Stay safe everyone. My plan as a young person was to go to Mars. Maybe I should have stuck to the plan. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Walt Kowalski in the movie Gran Torino. I feel like that some days. A great movie that really tried to make important points about racism and how to overcome it. Painfully wrong in some ways, but their base message, racism is BS and people can work to get past it was refreshing. Credit: IDK, used without permission. Hopefully I can be forgiven because I’m plugging and highly recommending the movie, here’s the trailer: Gran Torino. OK, Clint does sing in the final credits, hopefully that will be removed in the director’s cut. Rumor has it he lost a bet.)

Written by unitedcats

September 1, 2020 at 8:07 pm

ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG, VOTE FOR BIDEN, AND BLACK LIVES MATTER

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So, I came across this article: We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying. It’s an article by someone who has actually experienced the horrors of an authoritarian state. And it makes the claim that that’s what is happening in the US, Trump is in the process of seizing power like Saddam or Qaddafi  and American democracy is being dismantled in front of our eyes.

Right. While I am horrified by what the next few months will bring, major civil unrest seems to be inevitable at this point, I still don’t really see the Donald as much of a dictator. I suppose he might try, but I don’t see him as dictator material for at least three reasons. First of all, he’s an idiot. Sorry Trump supporters, but Trump has said so so many stupid things there’s really no other conclusion to reach, he aint particularly bright. Dictators tend to be smart, it’s kinda a job requirement for seizing power. Secondly, he’s a coward. All bullies are cowards, not to mention draft evaders. He’s afraid to address any crowd that isn’t a crowd of his followers. Then there’s the bunker incident. Every dictator I know of fought viciously to get into power, many were actual war heros. Lastly, and most importantly, the man has major reality testing problems. Every dictator on the planet has taken serious steps to fight Covid-19. Trump still hasn’t.

So yeah, Trump may screw things up and cause terrible problems, but I really can’t imagine him as a dictator. It would likely be a short lived dictatorship. Granted he might mess things up so much someone else takes over. IE Trump insists he won the election despite all evidence to the contrary. Millions take to the streets. And the army steps in and removes him, setting up an interim government. With martial law and a suspension of the Constitution. And oopsies, there we are.

Who knows. At least there hasn’t been anything really ugly in the last day or so. One of the things that’s just so horrifying to me is that Trump isn’t even remotely trying to represent all Americans, he seems to consider Democratic led cities and states as the enemy. No surprise, decades of Rush Limbaugh and such preaching hating on the liberals, it laid the foundation for someone like Trump to be elected.

Saw an interesting meme today claiming that only 6% of those who have died of Covid-19 actually died from Covid-19. It’s pure hogwash of course, but widely believed in Trumptopia. I thought it was interesting because it’s an example of a narrative that arises to explain why a nation lost a war. Or an election. Or a fight against a virus that every other nation fought far better than the US. Clinton blamed her election loss on Russia. The US lost Vietnam because we fought with one hand tied behind our backs. A secret cabal of Jews sabotaged Germany in World War one. Etc. It will be curious to see if any overarching myth takes root in America to explain away how America was the worst hit country by Covid-19.

In today’s science news (yes, I think I will slip in some science news in random posts) turns out some drugs used to fight a coronavirus in cats might be useful for fighting Covid-19 in humans: New study finds cat drugs may fight COVID-19 in humans. Woohoo, cats save the day! Actually it’s all pretty preliminary, but human trials are underway. Cats get a coronavirus disease called FIP, and maybe drugs used to fight it in cats might work on Covid-19 in humans. Worth looking into at least. As an aside, cats apparently can catch Covid-19, but are asymptomatic and can’t spread it to humans. Reality is weird.

Lastly this depressing article: The Inevitable Whitelash Against Racial Justice Has Started. Basically it claims that after a burst of BLM support by whites after the George Floyd murder, white BLM supporters are falling back into old patterns of tacitly accepting institutional racism. IDK, I was thinking myself that this might not be the greatest time to protest considering it just gives Trump ammo to fire up his base. I so support people’s right to assemble and express their grievances as protected by the Constitution, so I support all people protesting over just grievances. And BLM is a just cause. Timing is everything though.

Reminds me of South Korea. Used to be a brutal military dictatorship. There was a big pro-democracy movement, got pretty popular. The army shot a few hundred protestors and that ended that. A few years later the dictatorship got the Olympics to be held in South Korea. And the pro-democracy leaders saw their chance, they quietly waited and organized, and a few months before the games were to start, they organised huge public pro-democracy protests. It put the army in an impossible position, if they violently crushed the protests, the Olympics would be cancelled. That would be a huge blow to national pride, and make the army even less popular. Dictatorships have to maintain a certain level of support or they do get swept from power. They caved and allowed free elections.

And I do kinda think there are parallels. I do think protestors should wait until after the elections at this point to protest. Protesting now plays into Trump’s hands. Does that tacitly mean my support for BLM isn’t sincere? Fuck if I know. As a friend once said “We’re all whores in Babylon.”

Crazy times. Stay safe everyone, have a good week. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme. One of my all time favourite movies, repurposed in a clever way. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 31, 2020 at 7:56 pm

SCIENCE SUNDAY ETC.

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Ha ha, rickrolled gentle reader, sort of. I do have one great science story, which I will write about first. Then my evolving thoughts on the evolving situation in America. I’m trying to evolve my thinking with the times as well, the times are indeed evolving. Still, science does go on, in fact so far life goes on for most of us. Skip the science part if one wants to just go to Biden. The science part is about fossils, so yes, it does segue nicely into Biden.

Soft fossils. A quick recap. 20 odd years ago a graduate paleontologist found what looked like preserved soft tissue deep inside a dinosaur bone. Sounds impossible, right? She marshaled her evidence to a senior scientist, and being a good scientist he didn’t say “That’s impossible!” He said “Prove that it isn’t!” And she couldn’t, and decades of science followed. Turns out there was a lot of soft tissue preserved in fossils once scientists started looking for it. The science denying religious people claimed this discovery was proof that fossils weren’t that old. Um, no, the map is not the territory. That’s confirmation bias or motivated reasoning, not logic.

I digress, it’s a habit. Links at the end, but the mystery has finally been solved. Organic tissue shouldn’t last for millions of years, so what was going on with soft fossils? Well, turns out they aren’t the original soft organic tissue like blood vessels or skin, they are soft fossils of it. I’m sure somebody thought of it long ago, but turns out that under the right conditions fossils can be soft. The original organic matter long ago was replaced by stable compounds. Polymers in this case. The only reason we think of fossils as rocks, is because we never see any other kind.

So preserved soft dinosaur tissue is … just another type of fossil. This actually is a huge boost to understanding these fossils. Huge amounts of knowledge to be gained. We learn new stuff all the time about ancient life by studying fossils in rock, now we know fossils are sometimes soft. That’s how science and human knowledge advances. One study, but it’s a significant step forward.

Moving right along to fossilized politicians, my progressive friends are very upset that Biden won’t support “Medicare for all” or other progressive ideals, instead running on a corporatist “I’ll make no fundamental changes” platform. They see him as a sell out, and are angry that a candidate openly espousing liberal change was denied the nomination by hook and by crook. Probably, Biden, like Clinton, is the anointed one of the Washington corporatist establishment. Not denying that.

Progressives think Biden would stand a much better chance of winning if he went full Bernie. I’m not so sure at all. There may be a method to Biden’s madness. The important thing here is to win the election right? If Biden loses, all bets are off for the powers that be.  I wonder if Biden’s blandness is designed to get as many crossover votes in battleground states as possible. In a very real sense both Kerry and Clinton lost their presidential runs because they had essentially zero crossover appeal. Biden does not have the charisma and appeal of Kerry, let alone Obama, he has to win key battleground states to defeat Trump. Something Clinton didn’t understand until election night.

In fact thinking about this more, if Biden came out with progressive policies, what would happen? Huge numbers of progressive Democrats would come out and vote for Biden … and he’d win the blue states by a larger margin? That doesn’t help. Sure, it brings out more progressives in swing states, but what else does it do? It gives Trump HUGE ammo to wrap his socialist and liberal demonizing lies around. That aint gonna help either. If Trump gets a big turnout on battleground states, he wins. And there just aren’t that many Berners in battleground states.

Going with what Biden is doing, giving Trump all the rope he needs, and looking safe and reasonable might well be all it takes for the unengaged Trump voters, the guy next store that watches Fox News and votes GOP but does so out of social habit. I’m already hearing stories of same switching to Biden. This is how Biden will win or lose this election, he needs to soften Trump’s support in battleground states enough to carry the day in a few of them. It might even make mad sense for him to call for the protestors to stand down, or at least protest peacefully. The more he can get the message across that Trump is encouraging the violence, I mean, this is happening on Trump’s watch, the more Trump’s non-fanatic fan base will desert him.

People forget, the American South was pure blue until 1972, when Nixon’s southern strategy changed all that. Things can change with mass social opinion, and if Biden can appeal to the typical Trump supporter, we could see the GOP destroyed by blindly following Trump. Thinking aloud, anything is possible.

A few months to go until the election. I hope cooler heads prevail and we don’t see massive street violence out there. So far it’s been minor, God rest the souls of those who have died, let’s hope and pray that this current mess leads somewhere ultimately good. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook Meme. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. For those who have to know how it turned out: “That was awfully disturbing, but oddly satisfying at the same time.”

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2020 at 7:04 pm

A GREAT DAY IN TRUMPTOPIA, A SAD DAY IN AMERICA

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A child with a gun kills two people, and some are celebrating. I am of course talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, who showed up in Kenosha during the unrest toting an AR-15. He is seventeen. He’s a child. It’s actually illegal for a child to open carry. He definitely had interactions with the police, by some accounts they even encouraged him. To put it mildly, if he had been black, the police would no doubt have treated him very differently. And that’s why there is protest and unrest in America. Not in Trumptopia. In Trumptopia America’s cities are under siege by anarchists and thugs, and Democratic mayors are ordering police to stand down. And a gun toting child who killed two people is a hero. It’s unreal. It really is.

Speaking of unreal, the RNC is winding down tonight. All sorts of highlights. A spectacle like never before. The blatant violations of the Hatch Act are a good place to start. Federal employees are not allowed to work for political purposes while on the job, nor use Federal resources for same. So Melania using the Rose Garden to give her speech, Pompeo speaking from a state mission to Jerusalem, and others are blatant violations. Yeah, the “law and order president” doesn’t mean the laws apply to him, oh no, just other people. Love they ran an ad claiming that only Trump can save us from the lawlessness of a Biden presidency … while showing images of lawlessness occurring during the Trump presidency.

Then there’s the mind numbing claim about how Trump’s response to Covid-19 was the greatest US mobilization since World War Two, saving millions of lives! Where to start, lie from beginning to end, there’s still no national response to Covid-19, and with 4% of the world’s population, we have about 20% of the world’s deaths. With no end in sight, Trump apparently got bored pretending to fight Covid-19 and has moved on. Basically the whole Trump platform boils down to “Vote for Trump because only he can fix all the things that went south during his term!”

Oh well, Back in the real world, Scientists warn it may be years before students can return to school without masks, social distancing. Well, duh. Until the virus is controlled it makes zero sense to resume school in the first place. America now is kind of like a person who hurts themselves or gets injured, but just doesn’t want to admit to themselves anything is wrong. Like my dad when he had a bad fall on the ski slopes, the EMTs thought he really needed to go get checked out. Nope, just bruises, he’ll be fine. Drove four hours to get home. And couldn’t get out of his car. Broken hip. The world we grew up in broke its hip this year, but many Americans are still in denial. My dad was able to call for help when he got home, not sure who Trump is planning on calling.

In the same vein: Scientists: A Single Event Caused 40% of COVID Cases in Boston

“It’s a cautionary tale as we go forward and begin to open our communities, our workplaces and schools.” Pretty much speaks for itself. I keep repeating for new readers, Covid-19 is mad contagious, unless it’s completely shut down it’s going to keep breaking out. Which the rest of the world is experiencing, though since they actually mobilized to fight it, they have the means to shut down hot spots. Pretending America mobilized to fight Covid-19 won’t actually help fight Covid-19. It’s mad contagious because it spreads through aerosols: COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act. Acting like we have it covered isn’t what they mean.

Hurricane Laura rolled ashore, massive damage, death toll modest so far. The storm surge wasn’t as bad as feared, so no Katrina death toll. Still, the economy is already reeling, so it’s one more body blow the nation didn’t need. And in an interesting note of irony, Hurricane Laura topples Confederate monument in Lake Charles weeks after vote to keep it up. Certainly an interesting coincidence, nu? And why are all these tragedies striking America under a president who the Evangelicals claim was sent by God? Hell, there’s even talk of adding a Trump chapter to the Bible. Miriam Adelson wants a ‘Book of Trump’ in the Bible. We asked an expert if that’s possible. Of course it’s possible, there’s no ‘official’ bible, and seems unlikely God will weigh in on the issue. I’m all for it, Trump can be Pharaoh 2.0, the leader who let tragedy after tragedy befall America because he has no heart. It practically writes itself.

Well, no new major horrors in the news tonight. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Stay safe and stay sane everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A dark road to an uncertain future, America today. Credit: Pixabay user Mnievesmc. They have released the image into the public domain and it may be used freely without attribution.)

Written by unitedcats

August 27, 2020 at 8:14 pm