Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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24 January, 41 AD. Roman Emperor Caligula is walking through Rome with his friends and cohorts, guarded by the Praetorian Guard, the Secret Service of their day. They come to a pedestrian tunnel, and the guard insists on separating Caligula from his cohorts while walking through the tunnel, for security of course. Then in the middle of the tunnel, the guard drew their swords and killed Caligula. Let’s just say Caligula wasn’t very popular. He had a nightmarish upbringing, so no surprise he turned into a monster. He only reigned for about four years, and was 28 when he died. The Praetorian Guard then proclaimed Claudius the new emperor, not the last time they would kill a caesar and appoint a new one.

I went and saw the latest Jumanji movie. It was what I call a parts movie. IE it had all sorts of good parts, good actors, good special effects, decent writing, all fun to watch. But it didn’t add up to anything, it was all basically formula. They took the previous movie, jazzed it up a bit, and ran with it. Modern sequels all just kind of blur together. If one likes Dwayne Johnson movies, or the previous Jumanji movie, lots of fun. Note it’s not a kids movie, at least little kids.

January 24th 1900, the Battle of Scion Kop. Part of the Boer Wars. One European colonial army conquering another European colony. The British of course. They got a lot of their empire by conquering other empires’ colonies. Hyenas feeding on jackals, colonialism is really ugly if one thinks about it, but so fully normalized in western society that the ugly bits are overlooked. Anyhow, yeah, bad day for the Redcoats. I don’t think they were wearing red in 1900 though, but I could be wrong. The British climbed to the top of a hill at night, made a disorganized and poorly planned attempt to dig in, and in the morning found themselves in a very exposed position. Which the Boers were happy to exploit, eventually driving the Brits off the hill with heavy losses. Speaking of Redcoats, the French went into World War One with their soldiers wearing bright red trousers, because, you know, that’s what Napoleon would have wanted. Turned out to be a bad idea on a modern battlefield.

Speaking of colonialism, here’s a wonderful example of the colonial mindset in action. Greta Thurnberg suggested maybe people shouldn’t invest in the fossil fuel industries that are knowingly destroying the climate for profit. A suggestion up there with saying maybe don’t invest in industries that use slave labor, IE one of those no-brainer suggestions. So the US treasury secretary suggested she go study economics before offering her advice. No need, letting the fossil fuel industry destroy the planet’s climate is going to be very bad for the economy. No economics degree required. Here’s a tip. Any time someone says “It’s going to be bad for the economy” what they mean is “It’s going to mean slightly less obscene profits for the rich.” Can’t have that.

“It is with much embarrassment that I return.” 24 January 1972, Shoichi Yokoi is discovered hiding in the jungles on Guam. He was a Japanese soldier in hiding since 1944 when the US recaptured Guam during World War Two in the Pacific. Mr Yokoi was among the last three such holdouts to be discovered. Guam is only like 10 by 20 miles, so hiding for 28 years is impressive. A replica of the cave he hid in is a tourist attraction to this day. The quote is something he said upon his return to Japan, it apparently gained some popularity there.

There were a number of Japanese holdouts after World War Two. A subcategory of “people hiding from civilization.” One could write a book I suppose. A family of Old Believers discovered in remote Siberia. The Bounty mutineers. The Australian aborigines I blogged about. A handful of stone age tribes. The guy who hid in the woods in Maine for decades. I’m debating it myself. I have no family, and my friends hate me. And I have lived in a cave before. On the plus side, I’m a moderately successful blogger. Life, always full of decisions. I guess when you’re dead, no more decisions. The appeal of suicide suddenly becomes clearer.

But no. As a friend once said, you’re gonna be dead a lot longer than you’re alive. Have a great weekend everyone.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An 1887 painting of a famous Old Believer being arrested. Credit: Vasily Ivanovich Surikov 1848-1916. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 24, 2020 at 10:19 am


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The cat got my frozen dinner roll the other night. I was distracted because I was bleaching a lampshade. It ran under my housemate’s bed, much yelling. The cat, not the lampshade. Finally driven forth, sans partially eaten dinner roll. My life.

In the entire history of the human race, the above paragraph will likely never be written again. I find that astounding. It’s why card games are fun. Get a deck of cards. Shuffle it well. Lay it out. That particular order of cards has likely never been shuffled before, and likely never will be again. Keep shuffling if you don’t believe me.

So, yes, I really was bleaching a lampshade. It had coffee stains on it. My housemate processes coffee constantly, there’s almost always coffee stains after he passes through the kitchen. He’s like Pigpen on Charlie Brown, except it’s a haze of coffee droplets, not dirt. And he was near the lampshade once apparently. The shade looked good when done, matches the newly waxed floor. Still, my cleaning jag may be getting out of control.

In other news, apparently Trump is considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty. Who cares about preventing nuclear war when you’re as great as the US I guess. On the plus side, by the time Trump is done no one will ever negotiate a treaty with the US again, why bother if someone like Trump is going to come along and cancel it? I’m missing the greatness in this, but I’m having trouble seeing the greatness in anything Trump has done lately. Still waiting for infrastructure spending, withdrawal from Afghanistan, health care for all, and taxes on the rich. Snort. On the other hand, our media is so messed up now that who can tell. I recommend this article on the failure of the American MSM.

In other sagging greatness news, the once great National Geographic has issued a “Science of the Supernatural” special that any scientist or right thinking person will find appalling. They were always a sexist, racist, and colonialist publication, but at least they fostered an appreciation of science. No more, it’s just another sensationalist rag now writing for its chosen demographic. Which apparently no longer includes anyone who appreciates science. RIP old friend.

Lastly, the Golden Rice saga. Misguided environmentalism may be the death of us all yet, I swear to God.  Global warming is going to end civilization as we know it, and so much activism is aimed at side issues like GMOs or glyphosate. Or worse, fighting against nuclear power, our last best hope for shutting down the coal fired plants that are destroying the climate. The good news is that claiming global warming will be the death of us all is no longer alarmism. That’s because it’s already happening, it’s not some nebulous future threat as the MSM likes to pretend. Fun times.

For Halloween viewing pleasure, watch this movie. Under the Skin. It’s on Netflix. Wonderful movie, but definitely not the typical Hollywood sci fi schlock. It’s about an alien on Earth. I guess. Reminded me of “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Sort of. Or maybe “Being Human.” Or unlike any of them, idk. It’s a thinking person’s movie, atmosphere, subtlety, etc. No giant robots duking it out, no explosions, nothing bursting from anyone’s chest.

There will be a Halloween horror post, there may or may not be a Friday post. Happy Halloween Eve. Thinking of starting a new Halloween tradition in my home. Roast cat. Goes good with dinner rolls.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin.” Credit: Various parties involved with making the movie I guess. Used without permission. Since I’m enthusiastically promoting the movie, I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

October 30, 2019 at 2:54 am


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Survived another weekend. The weather is getting a little chilly, but still hitting 50F (10C) during the day, so good enough for me. Lots of fall colour showing up, which sucks for me because I have to rake up the leaves. I suppose I should be happy because I did say that exercise in chilly weather is a good way to lose weight. Most of the lake’s docks have been pulled out for the winter. The Lady of the Lake has gone to wherever it goes in the winter. It’s basically a barge with a bar built on top of it, powered by two tractor motors. Iowa through and through, like pocket corn strippers. I spent thirty years making fun of California, starting to hit my stride in Iowa.

I will be posting on Thursday, as that is Halloween. Used to be a fun holiday where kids wore costumes and went trick or treating. Now commercialized and child-proofed to the point of sadness. Kids aren’t even allowed to go trick or treating in my little town, no, they go to some police run function in downtown Clear Lake while it’s still light out. An entire kid’s holiday helicopter parented out of existence. The next step will be moving it all to virtual reality where the risk to the kids will be even lower. I digress. I came across a true story that is so freaking horrific that it beats anything Hollywood would dare film. In other words, the perfect Doug’s Darkworld Halloween post, brace yourselves.

In California more mass evacuations and power outages. Welcome to global warming. A one-two punch in this case. Global warming has lengthened and intensified the fire season in California (and around the rest of the globe.) And since our infrastructure was built and designed for the stable climate regime we enjoyed since the last Ice Age ended over ten thousand years ago, it is being overwhelmed by the new more extreme climate. The negative effects of global warming are starting to really kick in now, gonna be a fun ride.

Sadly, even though almost everyone agrees that global warming is a reality, they are still mostly missing the point. Even if global warming isn’t being caused by humans, it is still the biggest planetary emergency the race has ever faced. The freaking planet is warming at a frightening rate folks, and it’s just going to get worse, not better. And except for the Pentagon, we are doing nothing to prepare for it. Great, our economy will be destroyed and hundreds of millions of people will be homeless world wide, but America will still be able to continue its endless wars on poor brown countries. So much greatness, brings tears to the eyes.

And speaking of greatness, Trump claimed the US military killed the leader of ISIS. Some have claimed this is a cynical attempt to distract the media from his impeachment issues. Seems farfetched to me, like the people for whom Jeffrey Epstein’s murder is a “fact.” Doesn’t matter how suspicious circumstances are, minus actual evidence, they are just suspicions. That being said, the US and Israel routinely announce the killing of some insurgent leader or another. We’re all supposed to cheer, and not notice that this never seems to bring the situation closer to a solution. That’s because when the leader of an insurgent organization is killed, he is almost always replaced by a leader more inclined to violence and less inclined to compromise. If ISIS killed Trump or any prominent American, what would be the typical American’s response? Safe to say there would be few calls for compromise and negotiation. Basically the “War on Terror” is just an endless gang turf war.

One last point from items in the news. An old painting found in a woman’s house, a long lost piece from the thirteenth century, sold at auction for nearly $30 million, far more than expected. And Curt Cobain’s dirty sweater, right from his body to the buyer’s, sold for nearly $350 thousand dollars. The high end collectibles market has exploded since the 1970s, with new records being set all the time. Isn’t it great that the super rich have taken such an interest in preserving art and history that they are spending staggering sums of money on it! Snort. No, it’s another symptom of the rich having far more money than they could possibly need, and how worthless our money is really becoming.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: My life. Credit: Anonymous Facebook meme, used without permission. I will properly attribute or remove as needed should I become aware of the copyright holder.)

Written by unitedcats

October 28, 2019 at 4:57 am


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Some dates in history, nothing happened. Most though there are a number of things to choose from. In the first week of September in 1666 the Great Fire of London was raging. It’s a story with some interesting tidbits. I think I will write a dedicated post to it on Friday. Or not, one can never tell with these things. Maybe there will be some new shocking current event to write about. Or I could just make one up. “Nun Machine Guns Choir in Dispute Over How to Spell Arpeggio.” We’ll find out Friday I suppose.

More recently, on September 4 1886, Geronimo and his band of warriors finally surrendered to the US army. Him and his men had been more or less continuously fighting Mexico and the US for decades. All pretty ugly, especially the war between the Mexicans and the Apache. A lot of massacres on both sides. Against the Americans, he was mostly wanted for cattle rustling and “escaping” from the reservation. At one point near the end about a third of the US Army was hunting for him, 20,000 guys looking for a few dozen Indians. Whose big crime at that point was cattle rustling and leaving their reservation? Overreactions to minor threats on the frontier is a hallmark of imperialism. Just saying.

Once Geronimo and his men  surrendered, they were treated as prisoners of war. They were never allowed to return to Arizona. They were however taken out and about, IE the US government paraded Geronimo around at various events to show off the US. A tradition going back to at least the Romans. In his case, he got to make some nice pocket money. He’d sell pictures of himself, bows and arrows. Even his hat. Geronimo wrote an autobiography, which I am now putting at the top of my reading list. An interesting life indeed, the changes he saw. On his deathbed it’s reported that he regretted surrendering, who knows.

So he’s in the picture above. One of my favourite photographs of all time. Taken in the spring of 1886, it’s Geronimo and his men. I’ve probably posted and talked about it before. Cest la vie. It’s the only known photograph of a Native American military force operating in the field against the United States. These guys were at war with the US. Fun times.

Back to the here and now, I found out that Bernie Sanders wants to phase out nuclear power plants. I must admit I find that dismaying. There’s a huge problem with phasing out nuclear power plants, since they provide about 20% of the nation’s electricity, what do they get replaced by? Solar and wind can’t really take up the slack, since they can’t vary their power output on demand. Instead, exactly as is happening in Germany and Japan, they will get replaced with coal burning plants. The exact opposite of what we need to do. Nuclear power has its issues, but it is much safer and greener than burning oil and coal. And it has negligible carbon emissions, which is kind of an emergency species goal right now.

So I wonder if Mr Sander’s opposition is sincere, or his he only pandering to his base. The good Doctor Novella goes into the politics of nuclear power in his last post. Not surprisingly, Republicans are far more pro-nuclear than Democrats. I’m not sure what to think about it all. I guess I need to do more research. I’ve changed my mind before, it’s painful but the alternative is worse.

Lastly, FLICC. A new concept to me, or at least stuff I already knew in pieces, put together in a coherent package. Fairly new algorithm, 21st century. It’s a list of the big things to use to flag science denial. F is fake experts. L is logical fallacies. I is impossible expectations. IE, science can never be 100% sure of anything, and nothing is 100% safe, so one can point to the exceptions and claim they invalidate the science. C is cherry picking. And the last C is conspiracy theories. The more of these that show up in an article, the more likely it is science denying garbage. Not surprising, when both science and logic refute your position, stuff like this is all that’s left. Alas tens of millions of people listen to CNN and Rush Limbaugh, and fall for it every time. The FLICC article here.

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day holiday. There ended up being a party here. An introvert’s nightmare, a house full of friendly strangers. After enough beer I finally ventured forth and joined in the festivities . Parties here always involve the cat escaping and leading a merry chase through the neighborhood. They got the cat back, then locked me outside by mistake. All’s well that ends well though, they let me back inside, and I had a good time.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Photo by C. S. Fly of Geronimo and his warriors, taken before the surrender to Gen. Crook, March 27, 1886, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. Fly’s photographs are the only known images of Indian combatants still in the field who had not yet surrendered to the United States. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 4, 2019 at 3:40 am


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Maybe I should rename it Doug’s Cynical World. I do have hope for the species, in that I think extinction is unlikely. And there are good people in the world. And that’s about as far as it goes in modern America. I posted this story in my last post. People for the most part have no clue how easy it is to manipulate people. And with science being brought to bear (Yes, I have recommended this book before, read it and weep) on the issue, advertisers and political entities can shape people’s thoughts and even memories like never before. And few if any of these entities have the health, welfare, and betterment of humankind as their mission.

I did some volunteer work for the Bernie campaign, but I gave up on it. I like what he has to say, he has plenty of enthusiastic followers, but the same applied to Obama and Clinton. Both of whom moved the Dems even further away from their working class roots. And the Bernie campaign seems to be designed by coastal liberals, which means doomed to fail in the midwest. My current guess is that Bernie will be tapped for the VP slot, since the Dems have to have his followers if they want to ensure a victory over Trump. And then he can be safely sidelined, since the VP’s only job is to be a cheerleader for the POTUS. This assumes the DNC wants to win the 2020 election, which is far from clear to me.

105 years ago today the Battle of Tannenberg was raging. It was between Russia and Germany as Russia invaded Germany in the early days of World War One. It was an epic German victory, an entire Russian army was surrounded and destroyed with near 200,000 killed or captured. The German losses were trivial. Hindenburg was the big hero on the German side, going on to to play a big role in post war German politics. There is some doubt as to how much of the credit should go to him, but that’s a moot point by now. I mention it as an example of a crushing victory that was then overshadowed by subsequent battles, and pretty quickly all but forgotten. The Battle of Chancellorsville and the Battle of Stamford Bridge being two other good examples. Food for future blog posts.

World War One is officially history now by the way. About 65,000,000 served during the war, the last one died in 2012. The last one who saw combat in 2011. The last who served in the trenches in 2009. Tens of millions of people, locked in a life and death struggle. For many of them it was the defining event of their lives. For about ten million of them, it was the end of their lives. The War to End All Wars. And ultimately all for nothing, it was just the prelude to an even greater war. If that’s not depressing to think about, I don’t know what is.

In current world news, the Amazon basin is on fire. Well, Brazil’s new president did run on increasing agriculture and decreasing environmental protections. A politician who keeps his word, how did that happen? Oh, wait, a politician who keeps his promises to big business, never mind. It’s an environmental catastrophe, but at least it’s not depleting the world’s oxygen supply as many claim. I’d be upset, but that’s what they want. The whole freaking human race is an environmental catastrophe, this is just another float in the parade. There will be outrage for a week or two, then on to the next outrage. With both ruling parties of the US* determined to ignore environmental issues, nothing will be done until it’s way too late.

In America, schools are now being built with mass shootings in mind. My mind, formerly boggled, reels uncontrollably. We have failed as a people. On the plus side, 10,000 years and three dark ages from now, archeologists studying the ruins of early 21st century America will discover we started fortifying our schools about 2020. It will be the enigma of the age, numerous theories, each more clever than the last, will endeavour to explain why we did so. None will even come close to the truth. Our culture is sick.

Here in Iowa, fall is in the air. Some say it’s going to be a bad winter. Iowans complain about how cold their winters are a lot. Not sure why, it’s basically a Southern Ontario winter. IE the tropics of snowy winters. I’ll survive it, or not. If the former, more blogging! I really am working on the second installment of ‘Falling.’ If not, well, as Mark Twain said:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

*No need for a link about Trump, who has abandoned all efforts to mitigate Global Warming and is rolling back environmental protections wherever he can.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Green Sky. Reminds me of an alternate reality I briefly visited once. Credit: Arnaud M. Used without permission, but he’s not a professional, and from what I can find he just wants people to share and enjoy his work.)

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2019 at 2:43 am