Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

TREPPENWITZ, AND TRUMP’S WHITE HOUSE DIET COKE BUTTON

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Ah, treppenwitz. Or esprit de l’escalier, the wit of the stairway. When someone claimed that having tens of thousands of troops in Washington for the inauguration was like being in a third world country, I should have replied: “Like one of those countries where the president incites a mob to attack the capitol to overturn a free and fair election?” The same person would have been apoplectic if the mob had been a BLM/Antifa mob.  Of course they don’t think it was a fair election, because how could their anointed by God leader possibly lose an election? Especially if he insisted he’d been cheated? I and many others have said it before, Trump supporters are now living in an alternate reality. Here is a great example: Sen. Graham calls out Biden administration’s claims that ‘everything is in shambles’. No Mr Graham, this isn’t the Obama playbook, Trump wasn’t a particularly good president, and after the election he basically ignored the exploding pandemic and everything else to concentrate on his fantasy quest to overturn the election. And his administration’s essential refusal to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration was historically unprecedented in modern times.

To back my point up, here are three of Trump’s most unqualified and corrupt appointments, all fired by Biden on his first day in office. The information comes from Slate.com, but since it’s paywalled, I’m rephrasing it here:

Michael Pack. He was appointed in June to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The Voice of America international broadcaster. He tried to transform it into a propaganda outlet for Trump, despite a  mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of the VOA and sister networks, replacing them with Trump loyalists, insisted on pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished reporters who didn’t toe the pro-Trump line. He also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists. After whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Office of Special Counselfound it very likely that Pack had broken federal law. After being fired by Biden, he whined that his termination “was a partisan act,” talk about self-owning irony.

Kathleen Kraninger, confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. She had no previous experience in consumer protection. She scrapped a rule that restricted predatory payday lending, insisting that her staff downplay the harm to consumers. She refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel from predatory payday lending, basically allowing them to be defrauded by said lenders. She also approved a rule allowing debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails. Charming, appointed to protect consumers, instead she protected predatory lenders.

Lastly, Peter Robb. Confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB’s mandate is  to enforce federal laws that protect workers’ right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. Mr Robb is brutally anti-union. He tried to limit employees’ free speech, gave employers more ability to practice wage theft, crippled unions’ ability to collect dues, and helped prevent employees from organizing unions. He also tried to seize total control of the agency by demoting regional directors and consolidating power in his office, giving him unheard of power to bust unions and prevent new ones from forming. Biden fired his sorry a** after he refused to resign.

I’d link to the original Slate article, but I’m going to try to avoid linking to all unreasonably paywalled articles, what’s the point? I doubt very many of my readers subscribe to Slate. By the same token I unsubscribed to the New York Times today. I love many of their guest editorials, but I can’t share them with my friends and readers, so what’s the point? And boy, they made me jump through hoops to unsubscribe, further increasing my antipathy towards them. I swear, a lot of modern marketing seems to have avoided, I dunno, actually asking real people what they thought?

In any event, these and so many other examples show Trump not only broke his promise to drain the swamp, he was possibly the worst president ever for appointing industry lobbyists and Trump loyalists to posts where they were supposed to regulate said industries in a non-partisan way. Sigh. Hey, Trump University, a scam to cheat poor people out of their life savings shows what Trump really thought about poor and working class Americans.

So far Biden is at least paying lip service to the idea he is serving all Americans. He cancelled the Keystone Pipeline, which was interesting. Basically the pipeline only benefited the rich, had very serious ecological concerns, defiled sacred native land, and would have only provided a trivial number of jobs. IDK, this certainly seems to indicate that Biden won’t completely be a slave to the oil lobby. He also is going to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, which despite its flaws, at least acknowledges that human caused global warming is real. Which it is, the scientific debate ended decades ago; there are certainly questions about how best to deal with global warming, but pretending it’s all a hoax and continuing to pump CO2 and methane into the atmosphere to protect fossil fuel profiteering isn’t one of them.

Predictably, Fox News and the rest are already screaming in outrage about Biden. Apparently condemning white supremacy is an insult to Trump voters: Fox News upset over Biden’s denouncement of white supremacy – because it might offend Trump voters. Frankly, anyone who is upset about Biden denouncing white supremacy can go jump in a lake. Or jump in a time machine and go live in Hitler’s Germany. Hell, a QAnon congresswoman is already filing articles of impeachment against Biden. Yeah, gonna be a fun four years.

Lastly, I just found out that Trump had a button on his oval office desk that when he pushed, a butler would bring him a Diet Coke. Really. To me, that’s kind of grotesque, especially on the taxpayer’s dime. I can’t imagine even having a butler, just have a freaking mini fridge in your office if you need Diet Coke available 24/7. I would have made a very poor lord I guess. The button is gone now, Biden had it removed.

Have a safe and warm weekend everyone. The above meme references the explosion of Bernie in mittens memes after the inauguration. All good fun, though I’m sure Trump supporters, wed to the idea that Sanders is Mao reborn, are horrified. Think of the Children! Or some such, idk. Trump has zero sense of humor, and apparently his followers don’t either. I’ll keep blogging as long as I can. Comments, suggestions, shares, and especially patrons appreciated. I’ll never paywall my blog, but donors are incredibly appreciated. Thanks in advance, thanks for reading in any case. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2021 at 9:00 pm

TRUMP’S TOAST

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Maybe it’s just the joy of surviving surgery, and cancer, which does weigh on a man … but I’m thinking Trump is toast at this point. He’s been foiled at every turn in his increasingly desperate attempt to rewrite the election as a Trump win. Sorry Mr Trump, but a sharpie and an army of sycophants can’t change reality, Biden won the election. Sorry Ernest*, your guy lost, deal with it.

160 New York business leaders weighed in for transitioning to Biden. Basically the rich and powerful, the “made” people in the global corporate empire, who Trump has always aspired to be one of … have rejected him. He’s toast. Let me expound. The people that own everything are in a class by themselves. It’s not organized like say the Mafia, but in many ways it’s the same. Trump’s not welcome at the top, it’s over.

In other good news, Oxford seems to have developed a vaccine that will be easy to deploy anywhere, and at cost, which is minimal. This isn’t the best article, but close enough. There’s no such thing as “Big Pharma,” nonetheless the idea that the profit motive is the best way to motivate people is sick and wrong. Short version, we appear to have a vaccine that we can easily deploy anywhere, which gives us a shot at global victory over Covid-19.

And that’s what is required. Once again for those in the back, Covid-19 is not a new cold or flu. I know some long haulers, all Americans will (or will get to experience it themselves) as the virus rages out of control while the POTUS simultaneously ignores it, prevents the incoming Biden administration from coordinating with federal health agencies, and goes golfing. Most diseases only affect part of the body, colds/flues are limited to the upper respiratory tract. Covid-19 goes EVERYWHERE, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: Puzzling, often debilitating after-effects plaguing COVID-19 “long-haulers”.

Oh, Covid-19 is actually real. Many people predicted that since it was a Democratic hoax to make Trump look bad, it would magically disappear after the election! This would be like someone thinking in the US election of 1940 that the Nazi conquest of Poland and France was some sort of hoax, and would magically disappear after the election. Yes, it’s that fucking stupid. And Ted Cruz was a big proponent of same. Wrong Ted, Covid-19 is real.

Aside from my optimistic prediction that Trump will indeed be dragged from the stage, we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still a lot of politics and wishful thinking poisoning America’s response to Covid-19, and there’s every reason to believe it will continue to explode. I’ll be straight up, I’ll bet before it’s over Covid-19 kills at least one person out of every three hundred, at least a million dead Americans.

In other words, we need to eradicate this disease. Any other option is mass death and disablement and economic carnage on a global scale. This is an object lesson for global warming, another threat that needs to be eradicated to avoid the same fate. Just the timeline is different. Will we pass either test? Damned if I know, but at least Biden acknowledges they are real threats.

I can live with that. So will a lot of people. Bye Don. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook grab, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Terminator 2, Judgement Day. Great movie, everyone should see it.)

Written by unitedcats

November 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM CONTINUES

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So far, yes, Biden is looking good. He’s putting together a solid plan for when he gets into office, the pandemic being the first issue to address, he’s naming his pandemic task force on Monday. He will be taking charge while the second worst (and a good shot at becoming the worst) health crisis in American history is raging at its peak. What a nightmare, but Biden’s doing it with diplomacy and aplomb. He offered a solid olive branch to Trump supporters. Just the professionalism of it all is impressive, something that’s been sorely lacking in the White House the last four years.

The economy, racism, and climate change are Biden’s other three priorities. Everyone loves a good economy, but in many ways the economy is out of the president’s hands. More importantly, if the president actually does his job, running the country in a rational manner, the economy will take care of itself just fine. But yeah, Biden will not be inheriting a good economy. Well, at least he’s had experience inheriting a bad economy from GOP predecessor.

Racism, boy. A small majority of white Americans think whites are a discriminated against minority now. I think it’s safe to say that most of them are Trump supporters. They think racism is no longer an issue, or that non-whites have an advantage now over white people. Both premises are deeply wrong, yet here we are. Acknowledging this does not mean they are bad people, but Biden has his work cut out for himself here. How does one address an issue people think doesn’t exist?

Same problem with global warming, Trump and his supporters don’t think it’s real or it’s been exaggerated. Sigh. Global warming is real, human activity is causing it, it needs to be dealt with. There’s exactly zero reasons not to transition to a greener economy. Solar, wind, 4th gen nuclear are the wave of the future. Some stock will lose value, so what? Because an industry was once profitable doesn’t mean it has some God given right to profit forever. It’s called progress, the barrel making, whale oil, and saddle industries had their time in the Sun. Fossil fuels are the same, especially coal.

Will Trump concede and let this all transpire? That’s the big question now. Trump hasn’t given up, the GOP is divided. There’s even a rumour that Melania urged him to concede. From this one article, Trump does have some ways of constitutionally circumventing the election results: The Trump campaign is reportedly ‘discussing contingency plans to bypass election results’. Seems like a long shot to me. IDK, some claim Trump is incapable of conceding: Experts explain why losing is ‘like psychic death for Trump’.

I hope it all works out. In that vein, one nice thing. It’s cool we have the first black female VP. Little black girls the country over can be like, wow! Kids being inspired is a good thing, nu? Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Peace is a good thing. Public Domain image from Snappygoat/Pixabay.)

Written by unitedcats

November 8, 2020 at 7:52 pm

TRUMP’S TELEVISED MEDICAL EXAMINATION, CRAZY END TO A CRAZY WEEK. PLUS REVERSE ANTHROPOMORPHISM IN CATS.

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It’s true: Trump Will Undergo Televised Medical Evaluation on Friday Night, Fox News Announces. I guess tomorrow I’ll blog about the results, if they aren’t boring. (See * at end) Boring is rarely a word associated with Trump these days as the last few weeks before the election slide by. Can’t even hardly keep up with Trump’s nonsense, some of which is increasingly incomprehensible. Like this: “They literally want to take buildings down and rebuild them… with tiny little windows. Tiny little windows so you can’t see the light.” Trump was ostensibly talking about the Green New Deal or something, nobody really knows what that was about. Maybe he’s seen a secret report about a secret plan? Here’s rest from the same interview: Here are 7 ridiculous moments from Trump’s wacky and nonsensical remarks.

Well, if Trump is having cognitive issues, no surprise: Nearly one-third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients develop brain malfunction, study finds. The second debate has apparently been cancelled at this point, wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t any more debates. The first one pretty much jumped the shark. Trump is however planning more rallies and superspreader events. Even Doctor Fauci has chimed in on Trump’s refusal to face reality: White House hosted Covid ‘superspreader’ event, says Dr Fauci. At this point wondering if we are going to see Trump slip further and further into madness in the weeks to come.

The good doctor Novella blogged about Pence’s climate change denialism: Climate Denial Talking Points. Almost unprecedented, but scientists all over the world have realized that Trump’s utter failure to address Covid-19 in a rational scientific matter really means he’s off the rails. Climate change denial, it’s not that hard to swallow. At this point it’s a social belief inculated by the GOP and the fossil fuel industry. It may be driven by money or ideology, but at least in the short term it’s not insane.

Covid-19 denial, that’s a whole different ball of wax. There’s no reason to deny its reality, there’s every reason to fight it tooth and nail like pretty much every other nation on the planet. Instead Trump has been the greatest dissembler of Covid-19 misinformation on the planet, and to this day has refused to launch a national effort to fight Covid-19. It’s no wonder scientists are starting to speak out, the economic cost and social damage of letting Covid-19 rage out of control in the US is going to be staggering. In most of the world’s democracies, the Trump administration would have gone down in a vote of no confidence months ago.

I know, I know, in many ways I keep saying the same thing in different ways. Just in the hopes that as my words wander through the Interwebs, maybe they will make a few people think here and there. Denialism of all sorts is a cancer that’s destroying America now, even as it makes the rich ever richer. Covid-19 denial is killing thousands of Americans a week now, I don’t see that I have any choice but to keep writing about it. Keeps me from jumping up on park benches and speechifying. That rarely ends well.

Here in Iowa autumn is definitely upon us. I chose the image above because it captures the colors and mood of autumn, and reminds me of Iowa. Trees, lakes, boats. An Alfred Sisely painting. “Autumn Banks of the Seine near Bougival.” Painted in 1873. It looks so peaceful. I guess life does go on after awful things. 1870-1871 was the Franco-Prussian War, which saw northern France invaded, Paris captured, France humiliated. Hundreds of thousands dead. It was no world war, but was a huge deal in France at the time. And here just a couple of years later Sisely is painting beautiful landscapes.

So here’s hoping a few years from now the sorrows of 2920 are behind and I will be writing about kittens and science again. And here’s a nice story about the same to end my Friday night. A study has confirmed that slow blinks work on cats. Wait, what? Yes, a human who slow blinks at a cat is far more likely to be approached by a cat in a friendly manner. A slow blink is eyes half closed, blink slowly. This is how cats smile, and when they see a human smiling at a cat, they respond favorably.

Not a huge surprise to cat lovers, “don’t look straight at them and keep eyes half closed” has been the advice forever. Nice to see it pass scientific muster, it is real apparently. Does lead to a lot of further questions. I mean, just what is going on here? Somehow part of the cat brain that is wired to communicate with other cats is also responding to human faces? Can the human brain be so tricked? Is this reverse anthropomorphism? Food for thought: Study Confirms ‘Slow Blinks’ Really Do Work to Communicate With Your Cat.

Have a safe and sane weekend everyone, enjoy the nice autumn weather if you have it. Comments, likes, share appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

*Trump’s “medical exam” did not impress apparently: Commentary: Trump’s made-for-TV ‘medical exam’ is as much a sham as his COVID-19 response

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Autumn Banks of the Seine near Bougival, Alfred Sisely, 1873. He’s been dead 120 years, so in any sane world his work is public domain, and so claimed under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 9, 2020 at 8:40 pm

30 DAYS UNTIL THE ELECTION OF MY LIFETIME

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Trump is still kicking. He even made a brief drive by foray from the hospital. They say he might go home Monday. Still conflicting reports on how sick he was and is. The fact that he’s not tweeting up a storm would indicate to me that he’s pretty sick. Numerous other people in his circle are infected as well. Good chance an event they had last Sunday in the White House was a “superspreader” event, so this isn’t over yet. Seems pretty clear Biden is gaining in the polls, hard to see how Trump could spin this in a way that makes him look good. I’m sure he’ll try though.

I can’t see any but Trump’s hard core supporters being impressed by Covid-19 spreading through the White House. We’re still losing about 750 people a day to Covid-19, the only thing worse in history is the Civil War and a few months of the 1918 flu. This means as it spreads, more and more people are going to have friends or loved ones sickened or killed by Covid-19. Reality intrudes on fantasy. Here’s a good overview: Trump’s strategy of COVID denial is defeated by COVID

Kind of intrudes on multiple levels. 2020 is not a fluke, it’s a culmination of trends scientists and science understanding folks have been warning about for decades. Covid-19 is just one example. By the 1980s scientists had a basic understanding of emergent diseases, those that jumped from animals to humans. And they knew then that sooner or later, something nasty and at least as infectious as the 1918 flu was going to appear. It was a certainty. It was just luck it happened this particular year, but there was nothing unexpected about Covid-19. We could have defended ourselves against it, but our efforts were badly coordinated and poorly implemented. And ultimately failed, Covid-19 is here to stay.

In any event, Covid-19 is just one of the things going on. This is a good article about how Global Warming is slamming us now: 2020: The Year of the Converging Crises, Dealing with one crisis at a time was a luxury that is now over, and climate change has become the “threat multiplier” we knew it would be. The world keeps rolling on too. Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has reached war status. Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Major cities hit as heavy fighting continues. This one’s a mess, but like so many of the world’s conflicts, it appears to be a legacy of colonialist border drawing. (The Soviet Union being the colonialist power in this instance.) Hopefully it won’t spread, but sooner or later another world war is pretty much a given.

And in fun news, the #ProudBoys hashtag has been hijacked by, proud boys! Just not the ones the founders of the Proud Boys had in mind. The Proud Boys are a white supremicist, male only, ultra nationalist organization. Basically fascists. So now gay married couples are hijacking their hashtag with stories of, well, happy gay couples: The “Proud Boys” Hashtag Has Been Taken Over By Gay Love. I thought from the beginning that the “Proud Boys” chosen name was problematic. I was apparently right.

The whole gay marriage furor always baffled me. I grew up in a heteronormative world until I was in my late twenties. I had no contact with gay people, routinely derided them among my peers, didn’t give it much thought. Then I landed in Berkeley amidst a gay friendly community. And gee, finally confronted with gay people, what to think? Well, I think girls are hot. Most girls think guys are hot. What’s the diff if some girls think girls are hot, and some guys think guys are hot? I couldn’t think of any objections. Whatever floats your boat, what consenting adults do is none of my business.

Objection to gay marriage comes down to seeing a married couple … and being offended because their genitals aren’t “appropriate?” Ew, I mean just ew. Who sees a couple and wonders about their genitals? A lot of Republicans apparently. I’m digressing all over the place, I guess I’m worried that some Handmaid’s Tale future for America could still happen.

No horrible new national Trump news as I type now. 30 days until the most important election of my lifetime, if not in US history. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

October 4, 2020 at 8:11 pm

2020 CONTINUES – “AMERICAN REALITY IS BROKEN SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT ANYTHING”

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The above made me laugh, so I thought I’d share. Depressing day, but every day is depressing in America now. A commenter about yesterday’s post said they didn’t think some of the worst case outcomes were terribly likely. I certainly hope he’s right, I’ll be thrilled if the election happens, and the new (or reelected) POTUS gets sworn in next spring without undue violence or other extreme outcomes. People always hope for that, they pretty much never expect the kind of horrors that unfold regularly throughout history. And granted, no one has a crystal ball. That being said, the corruption, wealth inequality, and other failings in modern America were already at historic levels before Trump and Covid-19. And Trump has not only done nothing to fix them, his whole reelection campaign is based on stoking fear and hatred in his base. I think we’re beyond a peaceful resolution at this point. Wars etc. happen when leaders on all sides trap themselves into courses that can only lead to war. I think we’re there, I hope I’m wrong.

And this just in: US election: Trump won’t commit to peaceful transfer of power. So Trump simply is not going to accept that he lost the election, period. This is a guy who actually believes he’s popular with most Americans, and that the lopsided popular vote in 2016 was due to fraud perpetrated by the Democrats. So yeah, if he loses the election, Trump will claim it was a fraudulent result, and do everything in his power to “fix” it. I don’t see that ending well.

A few random links, in random order. In the “Life on Venus” front a new study is out: How Much Life Would Be Required to Create the Phosphine Signal on Venus? As informed readers know, the chemical phosphine has been detected in the atmosphere of Venus, and scientists are mystified, since biological processes are the only known way phosphine could be produced on Venus. The study shows that the amount of life required to produce that much phosphine is, well, trivial. Life even at vastly lower levels than the life found in Earth’s atmosphere could easily produce the phosphine detected. Not proof of life, but if huge amounts of life had been required then it would be a strong argument that some as yet unknown non-biological process was creating the phosphine. Safe to say Venus is going to get a lot more attention from scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.

In global warming news: The Richest One Percent Emits Twice as Much Carbon as Half the World. No surprise at all. Just another metric of extreme wealth inequality in the world today. Sure, lots of people used to be slaves and serfs. Thank goodness that’s no longer the case. But, what the fuck difference does that make if a huge percentage of the world’s population has essentially nothing, while a tiny percentage of the world’s population essentially owns everything? If capitalism was going to fix this it would be getting better. Wealth inequality is getting worse. Not sure what’s going to fix it, but the mythical free market that 1% apologists love to worship sure aint doing the trick.

Covid-19 isn’t wreaking as much havoc in Africa as was feared. Likely a number of reasons, but here’s one possibility: Exclusive: Study suggests dengue may provide some immunity against COVID-19. It would certainly be interesting if the poorest and most neglected parts of the world were somehow less susceptible to the ravages of Covid-19. Silver lining.

And lastly, not a huge fan of John Pavlovitz, but sometimes he is right on: The Weakness of MAGA Men. Can’t argue with him. Hatred, bigotry, and most of all an attitude of sophomoric certainty and moral superiority are the hallmarks of cowardice. Thinking your cult leader has all the answers and everyone who disagrees is wrong is the thinking of a scared child, a child afraid to admit the world and the people in it are complicated and require compromise, empathy, and introspection to understand. Alas, as I’ve said before, America is a country where right is wrong and wrong is right. 

In other words, if one thinks running around in public with an AR-15 makes them some sort of patriot, they’re a pathetic manbaby. What can I say, I’m getting less diplomatic as the Covid-19 death toll ratchets upwards while Trump and his followers imagine that flag waving and shooting libtards will fix what’s wrong with America. What a freaking time to be alive. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

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

Written by unitedcats

September 23, 2020 at 8:13 pm

2020 CONTINUES

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A commenter accused me of playing down how awful things were in yesterday’s post. Well, that’s a new one. Heaven forfend!  So to be clear, 2020 is one awful year with multiple terrible things simultaneously going on. Many of them things that in simpler times (say, 2019) would have dominated the news for weeks. Now they are often relegated to the back pages. So let’s review…

The Covid-19 pandemic continues. The first wave never really ended in the US, and now Europe is experiencing a second wave. No vaccine yet, though at least we have learned a lot about how to treat severe cases, so fewer people are dying. Trump promised a vaccine just before the election. Yeah, if one believes that I have some property in Florida they might want to buy. There will be no such vaccine, because Trump will promise whatever it takes to motivate his base. And when there isn’t a vaccine, he’ll blame Biden, China, Antifa, or whoever is on the Trump shit list of the day.

Fires still burning wildly in the American west. It’s just the start of the fire season, so no relief in sight yet. The economic damage from this in both direct and indirect effects will be staggering. The hurricane season is off to a great start with more to come. Both of these are made much worse by poor human actions and global warming. By poor human actions, I mean inadequate building codes and poor zoning. Developers rule, IE the profit motive trumps public safety, the story of America in six words. 

While we are on global warming, the news is worse than ever. Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, according to new study. Pretty much means a 20 foot (6 meter) rise in sea level is inevitable. That’s going to cost a pretty penny. One of the horrifying things about global warming is that feedback will almost certainly speed it up in ways we have yet to anticipate. The good doctor covers some of this nicely in a recent blog: Ice Age Bear Found in Melting Permafrost

And the global and American economy are, well, not great. I’m seeing a lot of empty store shelves, this didn’t used to happen in America. Still, I always knew I lived in an unprecedented bubble of prosperity in America. That’s all going away. As an avid amateur historian, there’s no real exact precedents for now. Best is sort of like America in 1941 or 1860. In 1941 most Americans were still hoping to stay out of World War Two. And in 1860, few (if any?) guessed that Lincoln’s election would tear the nation apart. 

So yeah, things still suck on September 17, 2020. I figure at this rate alien invasion, civil war, or World War Three are all on the table before year’s end. I hope I’m wrong. Hell, I probably will be, the final development will likely be worse than any of those possible futures. Scary times. 47 days to the election. An election where both parties are setting it up to claim “foul” if their candidate loses. One can only hope that no matter what happens, it inspires America to go in a more democratic direction. The electoral college is literally bat shit crazy at this point, Trump doesn’t need to appeal to all Americans, he just needs to get his base out in a handful of battleground states. When an election for the leader of a nation of 300 million can essentially ignore the vast majority of the country, not democracy.

There’s been more weirdness. I can’t write anymore tonight. I’ll cover it tomorrow. Trump claims education is child abuse, the mind numbing crimes of the 1%, and the “Covid-19 is Chinese biological warfare” doctor. No shortage of blog topics these days. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme of unknown genesis, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Cow deaths happen.)

Written by unitedcats

September 17, 2020 at 8:12 pm

A WORLD WITHOUT SMILES

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So today we start with something evil that doesn’t involve Trump or Rush Limbaugh: Auto Industry TV Ads Claim Right to Repair Benefits ‘Sexual Predators’ This is sick and evil on several levels. Basically a “right to repair” initiative is on the ballot in Massachusetts. The right to repair being the radical idea that if you buy something, it’s yours, and you can have anyone fix it. One would think this wouldn’t even be needed, would it? Welcome to modern America where big corporations are working hard to turn America into one giant company town. In essence when big corporations sell something like a car, tractor, or electronic device a lot of them recently are specifying that the item in question can only be modified or repaired at a corporate authorized dealer. Basically trying to drive independent shops out of business. It’s a horrible unfair way to use their power to destroy competition.

And since they don’t have any rational arguments to support their attempt to destroy the free market and make their customers economic serfs, they are claiming “right to repair” laws will lead to women getting raped. That’s right, if you take your car to an independent garage, your wife or daughter might get raped! Sick and wrong on multiple levels. I’ll let the discerning reader parse them for themselves. 

So Rush, yeah, phew, back to him: Rush Limbaugh downplaying hurricane Irma may have decreased evacuations. Yeah folks, get your science based stuff from scientists, not radio entertainers. Science, unlike any known ideology or religion, has a pretty good track record at understanding reality. People claim science is “making stuff up!” That’s called projection. It’s religion and ideology that make stuff up. Doesn’t mean science can’t be minused, just means science in general isn’t putting the cart before the horse. 

Ran seven errands on an outing today. Pretty universal mask coverage. Red state, red town, but … and pretty big but … the Mason micropolitan area is a college town, tourist region, and high class retirement area. A lot of educated folks who might vote for Trump, but are gonna mask up in public cause their neighbors are. Can’t smile at people though. If this continues, guessing new ways of communicating smiles will evolve. And masking has its plus sides. One can mouth “F**k You!” at deserving folks without fear. Better yet, I can smile at people all the time without being weird. That’s a win.

Well, a day without any new really bad developments. Win win. If everything calms down and the next few months underwhelm everyone, woohoo! Wouldn’t that be nice? Stay safe people. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

PS. Well, then Hurricane Sally. Some places got eighteen inches of rain, and it’s not over yet. I’ve seen an “inch an hour” rain for a few hours twice in my life, the results were local catastrophes. So freaking weird to live in a time where events that would have dominated the news for weeks during my prior life are now but brief interludes in the saga 2020 is. 

PPS: My town has been invaded by foxes.Seven deaths so far. 

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Facebook meme of unknown origin, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It made me laugh.)

Written by unitedcats

September 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

NO, THERE IS NO DEBATE ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING. PLUS VACCINE THEATER AND LIFE ON VENUS.

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America, land of denial. Trump has visited the fire ravaged West coast: US West Coast fires: Row over climate change’s role as Trump visits. Western governors are pointing out that global warming is a big part of the fire problem now raging across the west. Trump claims it’s poor forest management. Both are right and wrong, though as usual Trump is wronger. (Is that a word? It is now.) Yes, poor forest management is definitely a big part of the reason. Apparently Trump is overlooking that over half of forest land in the west is under federal management. So Trump is literally admitting to a big share of the blame. Since Trump is never wrong and never takes blame, only credit, I doubt that will get much mention in the circus that passes for the mainstream media in the US.

And no, the debate about global warming ended decades ago, Earth is rapidly warming up, and human activity is the cause. While we’re on the topic, the debate about evolution ended around 1870, the debate about creationism ended around 1830. I digress. This is America though, where if a powerful interest finds some scientific finding might hurt its profits, the science of science denial has made great progress in recent decades, and they are quite capable of creating “debate” where there is no debate. That American politicians are basically for sale to the highest bidder doesn’t hurt either. Welcome to Global Warming World, Northern Hemisphere summer was hottest on record, scientists say, where it’s just going to get worse and worse while Washington fiddles.  

Oh, wait, Trump is going to save us all. I missed this, but he declared he’s the greatest environmental president since Teddy Roosevelt! Trump Declares Himself “the No. 1 Environmental President” Well, he’s consistent at least. He’s also declared he’s been the best president for blacks since Lincoln, and the best president for LGTB rights ever. Basically, he’s the best at everything. The fact that all three claims are not only wrong, they are in complete opposite of the facts of his record is irrelevant. Some close to him say Trump apparently can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Psychotic is a term one acquaintance used. Beats me, but someone who literally spent his term gutting and cancelling every environmental law and regulation he could is not an “environmental” president. If he actually believes it, then it’s partially true, he’s mental. 

Trump officials rush to introduce untested vaccine tracking system. Yes, Trump’s gonna be distributing a vaccine just before the election! What a guy! Trump’s gonna save the day! Sigh. No, this is pandemic theater. The date was chosen for political reasons, the chances a safe and effective and well tested vaccine will be available then is almost zero. You’d think that the fact that Trump keeps saying everything is going to come up roses … and it doesn’t … might cost him support. No, at this point Trump followers are committed, they’ve built their whole world view and identity around Trump, there’s nothing so blinding as deciding a leader is the Messiah. Look at Jim Jones and his followers.

An interesting article: Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies so Obsessed With Pedophilia? Short version: “They’re baby killers!” is really effective propaganda, has been throughout history. They go into the McMartin preschool case, where one obviously not-quite-right-in-the-head mother claimed her son had been abused. (The fact that she kept her kid in the center even after making the allegations should have tipped people off.) The police interviewed a bunch of preschoolers, and oh my, the stories they told. Underground tunnels, animal sacrifices, satanic rituals, the whole works. They even sacrificed a giraffe! (Again, someone should have said, wait, what? Where would they get a giraffe?) 15 millions dollars of investigation later, multiple lives ruined, and it was all so much nonsense. Turns out preschoolers are easily encouraged to make stuff up to please the friendly policemen questioning them. A giraffe? Oh well, interesting read.

In some good news, life on Venus! Well, that came out of the blue. However, let’s not get carried away, like so many headlines: A gas found on Earth that signifies life has been detected in the clouds on Venus. So no, actual life detected, not quite. Phosphine, a nasty smelling swamp gas produced by anaerobic bacteria has been detected in Venus’s atmosphere. Entirely by surprise I might add. The reason scientists think this discovery might signify  life is because no one knows of any other way Phosphine could be produced. We’re likely not talking surface life, the surface of Venus is hellishly hot and unlikely to support life. Some of the cloud layers are quite temperate though. In fact it’s been seriously suggested that Venus is one of the best colony spots in the Solar System: Our Future in Space. Why pray tell? Because Venus has Earth normal gravity, unlike anywhere else in the Solar System but Earth. It’s the one thing that can’t be easily artificially created, and at this point it’s pretty clear for long term habitation, Earth normal gravity is likely essential for healthy human life.

I digress. It is exciting news, Venus is close, much closer than Mars. No doubt sample return missions are already being sketched out, don’t even need a lander, just a probe that swoops through the atmosphere and then returns samples to Earth. The discovery of life elsewhere in the Solar System would be a huge leap in our understanding of life. Essentially there are two possibilities. It’s related to life on Earth, which means panspermia is possible and life is likely all over the Solar System. Or more exciting, it’s not related to Earth life, which means life arose independently in two places in the Solar System. Which pretty much means life is all over the Universe.

Which then brings us back to, if life is everywhere, where are the aliens? Good question, hope there’s an answer in my lifetime. Stay safe everyone as we spiral into an insane election. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Facebook image of unknown attribution, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

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