Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

AFTER THE DELUGE

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Well, I didn’t expect flash flood and tornado(!) warnings in NYC while visiting, I thought tornado warnings were an Iowa thing. No tornadoes here in NYC fortunately, but yes, they did have one in New Jersey. Yeesh. I spent much of my childhood in New Jersey, I sure don’t remember tornadoes ever being an issue. Above is a normally busy freeway near where I am staying in NYC. The car in the center was trapped by flooding in front and behind. Behind two partially submerged cars are visible. These folks got to walk home through pouring rain, heaviest rain ever recorded in NYC. More than 40 people dead in the US northeast, hell of a storm.

This of course was the tail end of Hurricane Ida. Killed more people in the northeast than it did on the gulf coast. More people living here, less prepared for this kind of extreme weather event, though that’s just my speculation. What’s not speculation is the huge increase in extreme weather events over the past fifty years: Climate and weather related disasters surge five-fold over 50 years, but early warnings save lives – WMO report. What would save even more lives is if nations took serious measures to combat global warming, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. International cooperation for international good is only a fantasy no matter what governments say.

Covid really made this clear. There’s a great article in the New York Times about it. Since it’s paywalled, I’ll sum it up. Basically it points out that to date there has essentially been no international cooperation in fighting a global pandemic, and essentially every nation including the world’s richest nations only took care of their own, leaving the rest of the world to fend for itself. Well, almost none. The one thing they did do was cooperate to make sure the international finance system kept running smoothly, so while most people on Earth suffered from Covid one way tother, the rich continued to get richer.

In other words, when Reagan once speculated that humanity would pull together in the face of an alien threat, he was laughably naive. Covid is most definitely a global alien threat, and humanity is most definitely not pulling together to face it. Even crazier, the cost to do so would be trivial and easily affordable, and the cost of not doing so will be staggering. This bodes very ill for future global threats, in fact by letting Covid run rampant, there’s a good chance it will mutate into a much more terrible threat. Fun times. Read the article if one can: Opinion | What if the Coronavirus Crisis Was Just a Trial Run?

And the global media isn’t helping. Most of it’s not really even journalism anymore, just clickbait infotainment. When not actually repackaged government/corporate propaganda. Critical thinking not welcome. In this vein, I came across an article on the Today site. I’m not familiar with the site, but superficially it appears to be a “legitimate” news and information site, not some sort of Onion knock-off. They are reviewing a documentary from the History Channel: History Channel doc reveals key discovery in Bermuda Triangle. First of all, the idea that a legitimate news site would take the History Channel seriously is bad enough, but here’s the first two paragraphs:

“It’s a mystery that has endured for 76 years in a fabled area that many sailors and aviators have long said contains supernatural forces we don’t understand.

On Dec. 5, 1945, 14 airmen flying five World War II torpedo bombers called Avengers took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale on a routine training mission over the Bermuda Triangle and were never seen again. The U.S. Navy even sent a Martin Mariner search plane out at the time to find the missing aircraft, and that plane and it’s crew of 13 also disappeared.”

Um, how to say this, all bollocks? The only mystery is why anyone thinks there’s a mystery. Millions of people including countless aviators and sailors travel through the Bermuda Triangle every single day without giving it a second thought, let alone invoking supernatural hogwash. The disappearance of Flight 19 was well investigated and well understood at the time, and only became a “mystery” in the 1960s when an author invented “The Bermuda Triangle” and simply made up all sorts of details about Flight 19 to make its loss seem spooky. Ending up with a blatant lie, the Martin Mariner caught fire, crashed, and exploded shortly after takeoff. The Martin Mariner’s not-so-affectionate nickname was “The Flying Gas Tank,” so catching fire and exploding was a not uncommon occurrence. No cause of the fire and explosion was ever determined, but this was 1945 and the black box wouldn’t be invented for another decade. There’s no reason to assume anything supernatural occurred, it was just another plane crash in an era where planes were nowhere near as safe as they are today.

End rant. Well, I’ve got more links, but I guess that’s enough for now. I also had an epiphany a week ago that completely changed my worldview. Still processing it all, but I suppose it’s worth writing about at some point. It caused me to lose all desire to drink for one thing, which in and of itself is a very strange feeling. Life, you grow and then you die. Though frankly the growth part seems optional for many people. C’est la vie. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Freeway near NYC. Credit and Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 3, 2021 at 4:25 pm

THE STUPID, IT BURNS

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OK, been having a bit of a writer’s block. Or more like writer’s frustration? I couldn’t find the origin of the phrase “the stupid, it burns” for one. Granted that’s just a minor frustration, but part of the bigger picture. So so so much stupidity in modern America these days. To the point where I am debating just changing the name of the blog to “The Stupid, It Burns.” And calaloguing every bit of abject stupidity I find among the day’s news. There’s more than enough to go around, hell, people have built careers around cataloging it. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert come to mind, although no doubt there are countless others.  It’s tempting, but I do like writing about science and history and such, so I would get tired of it. Not to mention depressed and angry.

So instead, I’ll just make this post about rampant stupidity. Especially because three of the biggest stupidities of my life in America are big news lately. And a special sort of stupid. Things that are going to cost tens of trillions of dollars over the rest of my life. Not billions, trillions of dollars. As Senator Dirkson observed in the seventies: “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” He’d no doubt be horrified today because the billion has turned into a trillion. And we’re also talking about countless American lives that will be lost, easily in the hundreds of thousands, and we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t go into the millions.

The first of course is Covid. Early estimates were that it would ultimately cost the US economy 16 trillion dollars. And that was assuming we got it under control, which we have manifestly not done yet. The second is global warming. Fires, floods, droughts are steadily ratcheting upwards, and the costs once again are in the trillions of dollars. Lastly of course the so called War on Terror, in the news lately because of the nightmare of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. We spent over two trillion dollars: New Report Finds US Has Spent Over $2.3 Trillion on Afghanistan War. And that’s just part and parcel of the War on Terror and freaking endless US military spending, more than the next twelve highest military spending nations combined … most of which are our allies to boot. These three mind numbing endless (and growing) idiotic expenses are why America’s infrastructure, education, and health care is the shame of the developed world.

And none of them are being addressed or rectified in any meaningful way by either American political party. One party, the GOP,  is more or less ignoring them, when not actually making them worse. All in the name of politics and winning elections, and of course fully in service of their corporate overlords who get ever richer while the nation and planet suffer. The other party, the Democrats, pays lip service to them in the interest of politics and winning elections, while still in actuality serving the same corporate masters. That’s the great thing about American politics, both parties have convinced their base that the other party is evil. And both parties are right, though not in the way they portray it. America could be the greatest country on Earth when it comes to things that actually matter to people, all being sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics and the insatiable greed of the richest ruling class the world has ever seen. Sigh. So in the midst of this mass national ignorance and stupidity, so so many smaller acts of stupid. Just for fun I’ll chronicle some of the current crop.

At the top of today’s list: Fury as US congressmen fly into Kabul in midst of evacuation effort. That’s right, as a horrifying evacuation of people is under way in Kabul, Afghanistan, with people so desperate to escape that they are clinging to aircraft only to fall to their deaths, two congressmen decided to fly into Kabul on a “fact finding” mission. Right, what facts were they unclear on? The fact is that whatever plane seats they and their staff filled on their way out could have been filled by people who were fleeing for their lives. The fact is this publicity stunt means some people will be tortured and killed. It made about as much sense as if some British politicians had decided to sail to Dunkirk on a “fact finding” mission. It’s literally that stupid. Bipartisan stupid in this case, one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican.

Mike Lindell, who is Trump’s self appointed ambassador of stupid, now predicts Trump will be reinstalled as president by New Year’s day now that his prediction of an August 13 reinstatement predictably didn’t come to fruition. The regular reader will note that I predicted Mr Lindell would just change the date when his first prediction failed. So many layers of stupid. First, the lie that the election was stolen from Trump is just that, a fact free lie. Trump was the least popular president in modern history, so not only is it no wonder he wasn’t reelected, the real wonder is he got as many votes as he did. Then of course, even if it was shown that the election was crooked (don’t hold your breath,) that still wouldn’t result in Trump being reinstated. The election isn’t some sort of horse race where if the winner is disqualified the second place candidate wins. That’s not how any of this works. Stupid, all the way down.

And in today’s “Jesus Facepalms” file, a heretic Christian blogger says mom’s shouldn’t work because their teenage children will have sex if they aren’t in the home. Truly an almost infinite onion of layered stupid.  Let me count the ways. One, unless mom spends 24/7 with the kids in her presence, they will most certainly figure out ways to have sex if that’s their inclination. Two, if teenage children haven’t already learned how to behave sensibly, parental supervision isn’t going to help. She sounds like she doesn’t trust her own children to follow the “Christian” values she raised them on. Three. The days when a single income can support a spouse and children are long gone, most working moms work because they have to. I’m sure the gentle reader can come up with more. And of course access to sex education for children makes it less likely they will engage in risky sexual behavior, get pregnant, and get a venereal disease. Unfortunately people like this mommy shaming blogger think sex outside of marriage is bad … and think things like unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease are a good thing, punishment for sin and all that.

Yeah, stupid and evil often go together. Next, a nice science post I’m working on. Turns out Gobekli Tepe may have been a monument to stupidity. Yes, there have been stupid people for more than 10,000 years. It never ends: Driver ignores warnings not to park on beach and van ends up floating in sea. And of course new horror in Afghanistan. Humans, such a fascinating species. I think I’m losing my faith in human nature. Sigh. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe gentle readers.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: 19th century rail accident, public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 26, 2021 at 6:39 pm

COVID CONTINUES, GLOBAL WARMING, AFGHANISTAN, TRUMP VS BIDEN FOLLIES, HOMICIDAL LANDLORD, ETC.

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Well, here’s an interesting headline: New Zealand enters nationwide lockdown over one Covid case. Imagine that, a nation where the government and citizens do what needs to be done to prevent the spread of a terrible disease. In America, that’s the stuff of fantasy. Not sure when the last time was that American pulled together for the common good, certainly not in my adult lifetime. Depressing, especially since so many Americans have become so partisan that they can’t even imagine working together.

In other Covid news, the anti-vaxxers and their ilk continue to spread their toxic nonsense, like the idea that vaccines are the problem. No, no they aren’t: Are vaccines driving the emergence of “escape mutant” variants of COVID-19? Basically as far as I can recall people spreading pseudoscientific nonsense have never turned out to be right while established science was wrong. Granted established science is regularly updated as scientists learn new things, but invariably it’s updated by other scientists.

And in the other ongoing catastrophe, the drought in the American west is worse than ever: U.S. declares first Western reservoir water shortage, triggering cuts. At this point it’s worse than the Dust Bowl of nearly 100 years ago. Basically scientists increasingly are no longer calling it a drought, it’s desertification at this point. Even back in the 80s desertification was becoming a problem in parts of the American west, it’s much worse today:  The Western drought is worse than you think. Here’s why. And this is very much a part and parcel of global warming, but the well funded global warming denial industry is still doing just fine. Will humans essentially destroy their planet because the richest industry the world has ever known is perfectly fine with continuing their profits no matter what the cost to future generations? Looks like it. It’s not hopeless yet, but without serious action, we’re screwed.

Lastly, yes, Afghanistan is still in the news. It’s a horrifying situation, just the images of people clinging to the outside of airplanes and falling to their deaths is heartbreaking. Western media coverage is really depressing too, though frankly I find western media coverage of almost everything pretty depressing these days. In my youth the major media outlets were actual independent media outlets. This story: Soldier son’s Afghanistan sacrifice was ‘all for nothing’. Yes, yes it was. And even if the US had decided to stay, it was still for nothing. The horrifying thing about stories like this is the implication that further for nothing sacrifices would somehow magically make their son’s loss meaningful. And no, American troops weren’t “protecting America from terror” while in Afghanistan.

What a mess. Gotta love this though: The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan. It was contradicting Trump’s current schtick … everything bad in Afghanistan is Biden’s fault! Pretty much Trump in a nutshell, he was the greatest president ever, and everything bad in America was someone else’s fault. I’d say the man spews nothing but lies, but I think he actually believes them:  Trump spews lies about Covid on Fox Business: ‘It was virtually gone when I left — it was over’. He’s kinda like the leader or CEO who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes me, except in Trump’s case there are tens of millions of them, people absolutely convinced that Trump is the world’s saviour. So convinced they come up with memes like this:

OK then. A nation gone mad. Like this: Landlord Accused of Killing 2 Tenants Told Police He Handled Eviction ‘His Way’. Well, I guess that’s one way to handle tenants who owe back rent. A horrible evil counterproductive way. Yes, Americans are about $20 billion behind on rent now due to Covid eviction moratoriums. Yes, the gentle reader heard that right. 20 billion dollars. Basically nothing in the greater scheme of things. America’s billionaires have gained like a trillion dollars since Covid started, one fiftieth of that could pay off all the back rent in America. Or in another way, about .05% of the Federal government’s annual income. Ain’t gonna happen I expect, but who knows. Biden managed to get a pared down infrastructure bill passed, that surprised me.

Strange days. A third of the country thinks Trump is a God. Another third thinks Biden is some sort of FDR reborn. The last third is watching Scrubs reruns. Or writing blogs no one reads. Maybe other stuff, I don’t get out as much as I should. On the plus side I finally managed to find a dentist who fixed the horrible pain I have been experiencing for months. It only cost me my grocery money for the next couple of months. I’ll go from being a pain addled blogger to a starving one. Donors welcome. Good times! Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image, top: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, Fair Use under US copyright law. Image bottom: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 18, 2021 at 12:41 pm

AMERICA, LONG ROAD TRIP, GOOD LUCK FLAGS, AND WINDMILL MADNESS

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Over the past few weeks I’ve spent nights in Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York. A lot of driving was involved. Fortunately I like to drive, and apart from one marathon Western Oregon to Iowa in two days marathon, it wasn’t bad at all. Nice weather for the drive too, except way too hot in some parts. A friend speculates that through wildfires, excessive heat, and drought that much of western America is going to become uninhabitable in the following decades as Global Warming continues to devastate the planet. I hope he’s wrong, but he might well be right. In any case, I will resume blogging now as I am safely ensconced in a house for the near future.

One highlight of the trip, the above flag. Spotted in a military museum in Idaho. I was somewhat dismayed to see it displayed. Why? Isn’t it a Japanese battle flag, war booty proudly and appropriately displayed in a museum? (Begging the question whether war booty is ever appropriate.) No, it’s not a battle flag. It’s a Good Luck Flag. These were flags carried by Japanese soldiers during World War Two. They would be presented to the soldier before deployment, and they were covered with written messages and prayers from family, friends, and loved ones. Almost every Japanese soldier carried one, it was a prized personal possession. Similar to how American soldiers might carry photographs of their families.

During the war the looting and collecting of these flags became popular among servicemen. Unlike swords or weapons, they could be easily carried and concealed, and a good number of them made their way back to the USA. That’s how I learned about Good Luck Flags. I read about a fellow whose dad was a veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign, one of the uglier battles in World War Two. His dad never wanted to talk about his experiences, but after his death his son found the flag and had it framed and hung in his home. He did in fact think it was a battle flag. Until a few years later when a Japanese reading guest asked about it. He asked the fellow if he knew what it was? Battle flag captured by my dad on Guadalcanal! Well, no, it was explained to him the nature of the flag.

Long story short, the vet’s son decided to do the right thing. The name of the soldier was on the flag, as were those of his wife and children. And upon contacting a Japanese consulate, he learned that his widow and children were still alive. So the vet’s son flew to Japan to return the flag to the dead Japanese soldier’s widow and family. And this is why I was a little perturbed to see one such flag on public display in a museum. It’s not really appropriate, this was personal property looted from the body of a dead Japanese soldier. And sadly the museum was aware of what it is from the label. I thought about what, if anything, I should do. And upon researching it, I discovered there is a group devoted to repatriating Good Luck Flags, the Obon Society. Their mission is to try and repatriate all personal items looted during the war in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. So I sent them the picture above, and they will do what they can, often working through state historical societies.

Another highlight of my trip was the billboard above spotted in Wyoming. I rolled my eyes so hard I might have permanently damaged them. I mean, give me a break. The idea that a few windmills “forever ruins” countryside is bizarre to say the least, especially when one considers that the anti-green energy movement is funded by the fossil fuel industry, an industry whose pollution, health costs, and ecological damage are mind numbing in comparison to wind power. This is America though, where “Right is wrong and wrong is right.”

And of course Trump signs and billboards are everywhere in rural America. I never experienced a personality cult before, at least a national one on this scale. To tens of millions of Americans Trump is their saviour, a saviour whose reelection was stolen from him by some sort of socialisist sino satanic plot. Food for future blogs. I’ll blog about Afghanistan soon, a Civil War battlefield I visited, the rise of unreason, and other fun stuff. And of course the plot I recently uncovered to control us all through chemically induced mind control. Contemporary America is still a blogger’s paradise.

Hope all had a good weekend, have a safe and cool week everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: Japanese Good Luck flag in an Idaho museum. Credit: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image bottom: Found on the internet, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 9, 2021 at 8:11 am

ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG

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Oh boy, getting ready to move so blogging has been a low priority. I would have moved already, but I needed to have a storage space for my stuff built first. LOL. Yes, every storage space near me was full with a waiting list. Then I found one that was in the process of building a new building so I rented a storage space that hasn’t been built yet. Fortunately they are making good progress, a few days ago it was just a concrete slab, drove by yesterday and the building was nearly complete. I can only hope they are working through the weekend. Looking forward to hitting the road.

Stuff keeps on happening in the bizarre imaginary world modern America has turned into in front of my horrified gaze. One of them is illustrated above: Mike Lindell made an insane election conspiracy diagram that has to be seen to be believed. It’s bizarre to say the least, looks like something a deeply unmedicated schizophrenic would come up with. (No ableism intended, just couldn’t think of a better way of saying it.) And then there’s this: Trump Supporters Insist Far-Fetched 7-Point Plan Will Get Him Back In Office. At least this one has the benefit of being easy to understand. The first three steps are fantasy, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. Save the date though, August 13 is when Trump claims he’ll be back in the oval office.

In other American news, statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are being taken down in Charlottesville, North Carolina: Charlottesville set to remove Robert E Lee statue that sparked rally. These were two “heroes” of the Confederacy, so they never should have been installed on public property in the first place. These were men who took up arms against their nation because they wanted to keep human beings as (rapeable) property. Hardly people to memorialize. That’s the lost cause myth though, the idea that the Confederacy was some sort of noble state’s right cause crushed by northern aggression. It’s high time all glorification of the Confederacy was removed from public spaces, so this is progress.

A good article that looks into the history of the religious right’s opposition to social change of any sort, linking the Scopes monkey trial to today’s attacks on Critical Race Theory: Experts beware: America may be headed for a Scopes moment. The main takeaway, it’s a long article, is that the religious right always wildly misrepresents things like Evolution and Critical Race Theory in their attacks upon them. Worth a read. Oh, and my observation, gee, the very same people who insist that creationism should be taught in schools so children can understand the controversy … don’t think that CRT should be taught for the same reason? Basically the bottom line is the religious right only want their narrow interpretation of history taught in schools, they’d dump the teaching of evolution in a heartbeat if they could do so.

Basically America isn’t a modern civilized educated country. And it’s not just the religious right:  QuestionPro Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Americans Believe in UFOs. No surprise since even the Pentagon has gotten on the UFO train: The Pentagon Lies About UFOs – But Not Always For The Reasons You’d Expect (Updated). There’s as much evidence for aliens on Earth as there is for the existence of angels and demons. People still believe in them too: Did a Demon Appear at Biden’s Speech? And ‘Prophet’ Claims Biden Has Demonic ‘Serpent Eyes,’ Defends Trump’s Election Win. Even the BBC is promoting nonsense these days:The BBC Indulges in Bizarre Pseudohistorical Stonehenge Speculation. Sigh.

In foreign news, a group of foreign mercenaries made their way into Haiti and murdered the country’s acting president in his home: Haiti president’s assassination: What we know so far. A nightmarish event for one of the world’s poorest and most long suffering nations. I wish I had an answer, but I do know that death squads and political assassinations are the epitome of evil. The two Americans involved should be flown back to the USA, and executed on the tarmac on live TV. Alas the world’s rulers for the most part have no problem with death squads so long as they’re killing the people they want killed. If killing people solved problems the world would be a paradise. Sadly I don’t see it stopping anytime soon, in the USA at least the peace and antiwar movement has been so sidelined and delegitimized by the powers that be that it might as well not even exist.

Oh well, since messed up North America appears to be today’s default theme, a good article on the North American heat wave: The North American Heatwave | NeuroLogica Blog. While one can never say with certainty whether a weather event is related to global warming, the odds that an event this extreme would have occurred without global warming are vanishingly small. The well funded denier lobby will continue their work though, and global warming will continue to pick up steam.

Lastly, some good news from Florida’s Surfside condo collapse. First though, I saw an observation about this terrible event that I thought was right on the money, paraphrased: “The surfside condo didn’t collapse because of terrorism or some natural disaster, it collapsed because of shoddy construction and maintenance, internal rot basically. In so many ways a metaphor for modern America.” Yerp, our infrastructure, education, and health care is the embarrassment of the developed world, but our military could blow up the world a dozen times over! Couldn’t defeat the Taliban … but I digress.

Yes, the good news, a Surfside condo survivor was found! His name is Binx. He’s a cat: Cat missing in Surfside condo collapse found alive; death toll climbs to 79. He lived on the ninth floor and it’s not exactly clear how he escaped with his life, as he was just found in the vicinity of the ruins. May well have jumped to safety, cats can and do survive falls from great heights. Must be nice knowing you don’t need no freaking ladder or landing pad or parachute, just jump!

Hope all are having a good weekend. Next post, Afghanistan. Looks like America’s role in this sheetshow is finally over. Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Pillow Guy’s whiteboard about how Trump is still president. Used without permission, but claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Hell, I’m sharing his wisdom with the world, people will see this illustration and flock to Trump’s defense! How could he object?)

Written by unitedcats

July 10, 2021 at 6:08 pm

TEN WAYS WE’RE EFFED

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I’ve had a hard time blogging recently. Writer’s block. Stress in my personal life is one reason. Not helping. That’s just the background noise though. No, the real reason is more general. I’m extremely pessimistic about the state of the world, and the state of the USA in particular. In many senses I’ve always been a doomsday prophet, but the 21st century has moved into a whole new universe compared to my worrying about nuclear war in my younger days. So how do I write about this? Ten reasons I’m pessimistic about now. Who knows, hopefully this will be cathartic:

  1. The rich keep getting richer and more powerful. The upward transfer of wealth in America and the world accelerated under Covid. In other words, price gouging is at the heart of the global economic system. What are people going to do when the last dollar in America is in some rich person’s or corporation’s offshore account?
  2. The Cold War continues. The Cold War was stupid proganda to justify endless American war making and war spending from the beginning. The new Cold War is even crazier. China isn’t trying to take over the world, Russia isn’t trying to destroy the west.
  3. The War on Terror was a colossal fail. By every metric the War on Terror has massively increased global terrorism. War is the least effective way to fight terrorism. And yet here we are, bombs away, with nary a hint of protest.
  4. We forgot the lessons of Vietnam. This is a codicil to number 3:  Opinion | The Pentagon Papers’ Lessons Went Unlearned – The New York …
  5. Science denial is rampant. This is bizarre. When I was a kid and young person most people understood that science and reason were the shiznit. Now actual supposed adults in positions of power embrace voodoo nonsense … and they get more popular. Go figure.
  6. The Christian right wants to seize power. A third of the country wants America to be forced to live under their Old Testament take on reality.
  7. The GOP’s massive ongoing voter suppression, protest suppression, history suppression, and rights suppression campaign (abortion and LGTB rights.) The actual cancel culture.
  8. No independent media. When I was young the mainstream media was independent, even if they did try to influence politics. Not anymore.
  9. Climate change. It’s real, humans are causing it, efforts to mitigate it are still “too little, too late.” Fossil fuels are the most profitable extractive industry ever, but the costs are wrecking our world.
  10. AI, homemade doomsday devices, etc. In my lifetime (knock on wood) there are any number of potential technological advances that could lead to doomsday. It’s my answer to the Fermi Paradox, our form of life is ultimately self destructive, an evolutionary dead end.

And I’m sure I missed a few. The continued glorification of the Confederacy and white washing of American history. UFOs. Nearly half of Americans believe dinosaurs still exist. Yeah, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we are about to slide into some Golden Age. Snort. Biden will be the Pertinax of our time more likely. (Pertinax was a sane senator who became Caesar after the death of a crazy Caesar. His reign only lasted three months before the corrupt praetorian guard murdered him.)

On the plus side, a lady I like called me “Sweetie” today. Objectively there is no future relationship, but it made this lonely old guy feel good. Have a great week everyone.  #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found somewhere, possibly Public Domain, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm

NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR AMERICA

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The GOP doesn’t actually believe in democracy or the will of the people. Missouri abandons voter-approved Medicaid expansion. Some of them still believe Trump will be returning to the White House: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell claims Trump will ‘be back in office in August’ in Steve Bannon podcast rant. I guess they don’t understand that we live in a Constitutional Republic. The election was held and certified in accordance with the constitution and the law of the land. This means it’s a done deal. The results of the election can’t be changed, no matter what. Even if Trump’s allegations turned out to be true … it wouldn’t change anything. Biden would still be the legal POTUS. Still, the GOP’s anti democracy trend is scary, and I’m in agreement with this link, not sure the democrats even care: The country is careening off a cliff — and Democrats are asleep at the wheel. The GOP is convinced global warming is no threat, so not surprising the Dems would regard the GOP’s anti-democracy trends as no threat. Fun times.

2-year-old boy shoots both his parents. Who the hell leaves a gun where a two year old can find it? These folks apparently. Sigh. This is another issue where who cares about facts. Most Americans think having a gun around makes them safer. Wrong. Empirically, factually wrong. America has 6% of the world’s population and 42% of the world’s privately owned guns. So if guns made us safer, America would be the safest country on Earth. It’s the opposite: Does a Gun Make Your Home Safer? Our leaders decided to rule based on people’s feelz though rather than facts, logic, science; and we’re all paying a terrible price for it.

Richard Dawkins stepped in it by suggesting that aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome was a good thing, the proper moral choice even. He got schooled: Brendan O’Connor praised for tackling guest on his remarks about babies with Down’s Syndrome. On the plus side he did back down from his claim, which was ignorant at best. Ableist to eugenics promotion at worst. People with Down Syndrome report happiness with their lives, appearance, and family at rates that other people can only dream of. So the idea that them being born causes suffering is, well, wrong.

This is one of those issues with no black and white answers. Abortion is a right, that’s because forcing someone to bear a child against their will is wrong. The reason they choose to abort is irrelevant, it’s their life, their body. If people wanted to prevent as many abortions as possible, which seems like a laudable goal to me; then birth control, family planning, and sex education should be widely available. Those are the things proven to reduce the abortion rate. That the people who claim to be anti-abortion are overwhelmingly against the very things that prevent abortion pretty much shows they aren’t actually trying to prevent abortions.

Came across a good article about America’s crumbling infrastructure: Cracked bridge over Mississippi River highlights supply chain vulnerabilities. Like global warming, the US has ignored its infrastructure for decades. And now it’s time to pay the piper. In many ways that actually sums up modern America: the piper payment is coming due, and we ain’t even close to being ready. But boy, we’re not going to give up. Never think things through, but never give up.

And yes, image above, there have been some gas shortages because of a pipeline shut down by ransomware. There has been some panic buying. It didn’t go well for some people: Hummer loaded with four 5-gallon containers of gas catches fire after leaving Florida gas station. On the one hand, not too bright. On the other hand, he refused treatment for burns? Oh dear. Burns are a terrible injury even with prompt medical attention. I hope he gets to an ER ASAP. Maybe it was toxic masculinity,  but maybe he couldn’t dare incur medical expenses. In either case, not a good look for America.

Maybe that’s all I will blog about now. What the hell is wrong with this country. It’s gotten worse and worse my whole life. The rich and powerful exploit to their heart’s content, the military fights the war that never ends, while regular Americans are taught to blame each other, or foreigners,  or themselves(!) for what’s wrong. Endless source material for sure. What a time to be alive, stay safe everyone.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, I believe it’s public domain, but claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law in any event.)

Written by unitedcats

May 13, 2021 at 8:54 pm

TEXAS FOX LUNACY, WHY AMERICA IS BROKEN ILLUSTRATED. AND MARS.

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The modern GOP is pretty easy to predict, if something bad happens, the liberals engineered it. MAGA mob storms capitol? Antifa false flag operation. A terrible plague ravishes the land? Democratic hoax. The Texas power grid fails in a severe winter storm, those damn liberals and their green power! Fox repeated this particular lie endlessly. ‘Simply laughable’: How a lie about the Texas energy crisis dominated Fox’s coverage. It’s not really that laughable, because people believe the lies. No, GOP deregulation is why their power grid failed, it’s not even debatable. And people have been pointing out for a decade that the Texas power grid wasn’t ready for a storm like this: Beto O’Rourke said Texas was warned for years about power grid.

And Texas Senator Ted Cruz is really taking flak for fleeing with his family to Cancun while Texas suffered its worst natural disaster in decades. Millions without power, and he flies to Mexico for some sun. His excuse(s) aren’t flying well: People Can’t Help But Mock Ted Cruz’s Absurd Excuse For Cancun Trip. He blamed his daughters. Presumably they are liberals? It’s all just weird these days. But yeah, more evidence that more than just America’s infrastructure is rotten to the core, our ruling class is about the same. At least he’s getting fire from some fellow Republicans, but not most of course. If Obama had done something like this, the GOP outrage would have reverberated through the ages.

Gets weirder too. It’s becoming a thing in Evangelical circles to predict Trump is coming back. Not in 2024, but this year, 2021. The Christian Prophets Who Say Trump Is Coming Again. Somehow God is pissed that Trump is no longer president, and he’s going to reinstate him pronto. Because, Trump has God’s blessing or something. Yes, foreign and future readers, a lot of American evangelicals are, well, out of touch with reality. There’s no Constitutional way to change the election results. And boy, on the Evangelical fringe, the Texas winter storm was “scientifically impossible” and therefore caused by “weather manipulation:” Christian Activist: TX Freeze Was Weather Manipulation. Tens of millions of Americans believe this stuff, not promising for a healthy debate.

In many ways, all not that surprising. The GOP spent Obama’s administration pumping birther nonsense, claiming he wasn’t really the president, and doing everything in their power to demonize and obstruct him. It’s a logical extension to “Biden cheated so Trump really won.” Gotta remember, the GOP can’t win on popularity. Twice this century they “won” a presidential election even though they lost the popular vote, and Trump almost pulled it off again. The GOP right led by Evangelical extremists (people that want to turn the USA into a “Christian Nation,”) has moved considerably to the right in recent decades. Only maybe a third of America has followed them, the rest of us actually want to live in a secular democracy where Americans of all stripes are welcome. That’s why Obama got elected twice, the majority of Americans didn’t care that he was black.

I’m of course no Obama fan. While I think it’s a good thing Americans elected him twice, God bless em, their hearts were in the right place … Obama was true to his voting record. He was a complete tool of corporate America, Wall Street, and the pentagon. He normalized forever war and erased what remained of the Democrat’s actual progressive wing. Peace and actual economic justice are off the table, but LGTB rights! Couldn’t we have both? Not with Obama, and sure not looking like it with Biden.

My father is still alive, but very weak. Take care gentle readers, hopefully this is the last cold weekend in North America. Maybe. More likely than God putting Trump back into the White House. And if somehow Trump does get back into the White House in the near future, woo boy, blogging heaven! I’ll be back Monday, shares, comments, likes, follows, patrons, donations as always appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Mars Perseverance Rover two meters above the ground. Amazing Public Domain image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 19, 2021 at 8:43 pm

SCIENCE TUESDAY

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I can probably think of a better title than “Science Tuesday.” One thing at a time though. Today’s pic, a Sundog. Also known as mock suns or parhelia, it’s a little rainbow to one side of the Sun, often two of them on either side equidistant from the Sun. They can also be pretty bright, and look like little Suns. We saw a pair on the way home from Iowa City a few weeks back, it was cool to see. Caused by hexagonal ice crystals floating down horizontally, if I understand this correctly. I didn’t take the above pic though, it’s a public domain Snappygoat image.

This week’s Skeptoid podcast was interesting. It’s usually at least somewhat interesting, but after all these years a lot of the best and well known topics have been covered. (Skeptoid posts every Tuesday morning, another reason for Science Tuesdays.) This week, Our Lady of Zeitoun. Nope, I never heard of it either. It was an apparition of (allegedly) the Virgin Mary that appeared on the rooftop of a church in Cairo for several years starting in 1968. It was a huge deal in Egypt at the time, tens of thousands of people came out to see it, millions may have seen it all together. Various church authorities “investigated” it and determined it was real, no surprise there.

What was it? Distant car headlights occasionally glinting off steeple windows. Why were so many people convinced they were seeing the Virgin Mary? This is where it gets interesting. Yes, of course it was mass hysteria. Interestingly enough though the people of Egypt were primed for just such an event, so it didn’t occur in a vacuum. (Note that the Virgin Mary is holy in Islam as well, so there’s nothing odd about Muslims seeing Mary as a Godly apparition.) They were primed because the previous year the Six Day War happened, where Israel attacked and crushed Egypt, Jordan, and Syria’s militaries in just six days. Ten to fifteen thousand dead Egyptians killed or missing, and a big chunk of Egypt (The Sinai Peninsula) occupied by Israel. Another example of something that makes more sense as part of a larger context. Kind of applies to everything I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of.

Continuing yesterday’s Mars news: We Just Got The First Photo of Mars From China’s Tianwen 1 Probe, And It’s Breathtaking. And I didn’t catch this, but a Mars satellite from the United Arab Emirates just entered Mars orbit: Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. Great, the people of UAE now have a satellite named hope. Actual hope for, say, democracy and human rights, nope. Just another appallingly despotic country ruled for the benefit of the west, so of course it flies completely under the western media’s radar. Fun times: Israel’s Honeymoon With the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Doug’s Darkworld if I didn’t slip in links like that. In Covid and Facebook news: Big News: Facebook Just Banned More COVID-19 Anti-Vax Content. Sounds good to me. People who want to spread dangerous nonsense shouldn’t be given platforms to do so on. They can start websites or print flyers and stick them under windshield wipers or whatever, it’s not like this is censorship or their freedom of speech is being infringed on. I know a lot of people are concerned about recent efforts by social media platforms limiting hate speech and such, but at this point the damage caused to society by people like anti-vaxxers has grown so great that something needs to be done. I’m all for bringing back the Fairness doctrine, getting rid of it was what started us down the road to Americans living in different realities.

Stuff like this nonsense for example: The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy”. Or this: Covid: ‘How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda’. I don’t have a whole lot of patience with anti-vaxxers, since their idiotic ideology is killing people. Anti-maskers either. Or maybe I’m just turning into a cranky old man. Lastly: We Need to Plan Now For The Pandemic That Comes After COVID-19, Scientists Say. Fat chance though, we’re not even taking global warming seriously and it’s going on right now. Fossil fuel use is destroying the climate and killing huge numbers of people, but God forbid governments do something.

We’ve basically built a planetary economy based on weapon sales and oil, the two most profitable industries that ever existed. “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time.” Quoting the alien in Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” What else is there to say? Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sun and sundog. Credit: Diane Renkin. Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

February 9, 2021 at 7:39 pm

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