Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

NIGHTMARE IN LEBANON, AND TRUMP SLIPS FURTHER INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE

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Well, the nightmare explosion in Lebanon is much worse than I initially thought. The destruction and death toll is worse than I had initially assumed. Hundreds are likely dead, with thousands injured. Heard over 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus, the explosion registered as a 3-4 Richter magnitude earthquake. So far no definitive word on what happened, but apparently over 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate  was stored next to stored fireworks. Welders apparently managed to set off the fireworks, resulting in an initial explosion and fire. Eight minutes later that explosion and fire set off the ammonium nitrate, that was the big one. Certainly seems consistent with the footage I’ve seen. Pretty sure Lebanon still has a free press. In any event the world is filled with explosion experts (go figure,) if there’s anything funky with that narrative, no doubt they will weigh in soon.

Aside from just the horrible carnage, there is going to be a horrible aftermath. Lebanon’s hospitals we’re already packed because of the pandemic, so likely this will be a horrible triage situation. Triage is where they divide the wounded into three groups. Those that will likely live without medical care. Those that will likely die even with medical care. And those who likely will be saved with medical care. Only the latter group gets medical care. And even then further cuts might have to be made if there aren’t enough facilities to handle that reduced load. I can’t imagine having to make those sorts of decisions. OK, I sort of can, it would haunt one.

It gets worse. Lebanon imports almost all of its food. Almost all of it through the port of Beirut. And the country’s main grain storage facility was destroyed in the blast. Bread is the staff of life for most Lebanese, so immediate and ongoing food shortages are almost certain. Basically looks like in the near future Lebanon is going to be worse off than even at the height of the bad times during Lebanon’s fifteen year civil war. Locals are using “doomed” and “hopeless” to describe the catastrophe. And did I mention that corruption and incompetence almost certainly caused this disaster? The welders were not using OSHA approved methods I’m sure, and why the hell were fireworks stored next to ammonium nitrate? Why was the ammonium nitrate even stored there in the first place? There were already big demonstrations against the government going on, so an explosion of anger is likely imminent.

That’s the gist of it. All from this article: Lebanon’s Mushroom Cloud of Incompetence. The author is Lebanese, and it seems objective enough. Oh, and just saw, some port officials have already been placed under house arrest. What a nightmare, and it will keep unfolding for who knows how long. Oh, and of course Trump came out and said the explosion was a “terrible attack.” Anonymous defense officials have already corrected him, there is literally zero reason to believe this was any sort of attack. No doubt Trump will double down on his claim, because admitting he was wrong appears to be beyond his capabilities. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Trump, he does appear to be getting less hinged as the election gets closer. 160,000 dead, the worst economic downturn since the great depression, not surprising. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have inspired him to actually do much about either. His Axios interview was telling. I’ve watched enough Trump this past few months to see what he does. He basically praises himself, pats himself on the back, and blames everyone else for the nation’s problems. And his aides provide him with talking points to toss out that superficially sound good, but fall apart upon analysis. Like his claim that a smaller percentage of Americans are dying of Covid-19 than was the case when it broke out. True, but so what? The world’s medical establishment has learned a lot about how to treat it in the past few months, basically a meaningless factoid. The shear numbers of Americans dying is damning.

And sadly after briefly appearing to take Covid-10 more seriously, Trump’s backtracked and is once again claiming “It’s just going to go away.” He’s still living in a fantasy world where Covid-19 will magically go away, the children will go back to school, the economy will recover, and he will be re-elected in the fall more popular than ever. Yeah, and Mussolini got an utterly unprepared Italy into World War Two because he fantasized about riding a white horse into Cairo at the head of his victorious legions. The war didn’t turn out well for him. In fact a lot on the right are going off the deep end, Alex Jones is claiming leftists are stockpiling explosives and weapons for some nefarious purposes, and rightists should strike first. If that’s not inciting violence, I don’t know what is. Oh well, read about that and other far right nonsense here. And here.

Did have a commenter here the other day who said he liked having Trump as his president. Well, what can I say, Trump still has his fans. Here’s a good article on doing one’s own research. I share as part of my ongoing efforts to encourage people to use reason and science to guide their lives, not emotion and religion. The latter hasn’t been working against Covid-19 as the friends, families, and loved ones of over 160,000 dead Americans can attest. I hope my Trump admiring reader doesn’t become one of them.

And here’s the funny meme for the day:

Stay safe everyone. My election vigil continues.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image of the explosion in Beirut. Credit and copyright: https://warisboring.com It’s a reduced size, grayscale copy of the original. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law due to that, it’s arguably an historically important image, central to the post, and no public domain image is yet available. The second image is a Facebook meme and claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, if it even has a copyright.)

Written by unitedcats

August 5, 2020 at 8:04 pm

93 DAYS. GIVE ME LIBERTY. AND DEATH.

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Posted this meme because this is entitlement illustrated. Granted I doubt the people that are entitled will see that, that’s how entitlement works, one thinks that society should make special exemptions for you. There’s no reason not to wear masks in public, there’s no reason why businesses should serve someone who isn’t wearing a mask. Businesses can refuse to serve people on any basis other than some fairly narrow (but extremely important) issues like race, religion, etc. This idea makes about as much sense as a “No traffic laws hour.” Hopefully at least some people can understand why that doesn’t make any sense … because it would endanger all sorts of other law abiding people.

The post title came from this editorial: Double, Double, “Trump’s Toil, Our Trouble.” I liked it, and it matches my thinking in a lot of ways. So I suppose confirmation bias is at play. Read it gentle reader and see I suppose. I’m more and more despairing of Trump and his followers ever seeing the light. Maybe if Rush Limbaugh or Trump dies of Covid-19. Herman Cain’s death doesn’t seem to have done the trick, though Trump’s support is continuing to shrink. 93 days until he is voted out of office. Or who knows. What a depressing frustrating time to be alive. Especially in America, a country that seems to have lost its way.

One of the things future historians are going to be most baffled by is Trump’s utter failure to fight Covid-19, it’s not like Trump couldn’t see it coming, and it wouldn’t have been hard to throw up some sort of plan to mitigate it. I’m baffled still. It was Trump’s chance to shine and be the hero and leader he claims he is. If Covid-19 deaths were under 50k and the economy was cautiously reopening, like every other freaking developed (and many undeveloped) countries, he’d be comfortably sailing towards reelection while Biden and the Dems floundered. Granted Biden and the Dems are still floundering, Clinton grasped defeat from the jaws of victory in 2016, I wouldn’t be shocked if Biden pulls the same hat trick in 2020.

Meanwhile, Trump is blaming his falling support on the idea that “nobody likes my personality.” No Mr Trump, your popularity is sinking because Covid-19 is out of control in the US, and you seem unable or unwilling to address it. All Trump seems to be doing these days is whining and trying Hail Mary strategies to save his reelection chances. Promoting quack doctors, quack cures, blaming China and everyone else for his failure to mount an effective Covid-19 strategy for America. One of his latest is to try and ban Tik-Tok. Irrelevant, makes zero sense, likely will cost him even more support, especially among young people.

Trump’s attempt to turn the Portland protests into some sort of rallying point seems to have failed. Yeah, there’re always a few jerks among protest movements, but the idea that the Portland protest is some sort of anarchist/terrorist driven plot to destroy America doesn’t seem to be gaining traction. The protests don’t seem to be accomplishing a whole lot either, here’s an interesting black perspective on the whole deal.

Oh, yeah, schools reopening. What horseshit. There’s this thing called reality. It doesn’t give a crap about us wanting to “get back to normal.” I’m changing my thinking about a lot of things as this global disaster unfolds, and one of my current thoughts is that people are far more out of touch with reality than in my worst nightmares. It’s no wonder that over 5,000 human civilizations have collapsed, my current thinking is that successful civilizations (and yeah, there’s many wonderful things about civilization) sooner or later get to the point where the “map” or philosophy or worldview of the civilization gets so incongruent with reality that the whole edifice rots and collapses.

The fantasies of the ultra rich and powerful in said civilization seem to contribute to the same. The rich and powerful in America have used Covid-19 to get even richer. Yes gentle reader, the upwards transfer of wealth in America has accelerated under Covid-19. This article is from May, but I can’t find anything that refutes it. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that if a civilization’s  rich see a global calamity as an opportunity to get richer, it’s not a sign of a healthy civilization.

Oh well, a golden age for bloggers and memes and billionaires. Well, not a golden age for me. Hell, Trump is trying to take away my health care. Because you know, depriving 20 plus million Americans of their health care in a global pandemic is going to be so good for the country. I’d say where’s Jesus when we need him, but even if he did come back now he’d go down in a hail of rubber bullets and tear gas. Or worse, crucifixes in the future would show Our Saviour covered with rubber bullet bruises, as a cop kneeled on his neck while pepper spraying him in the face.

Fun times. Stay safe everyone, Comments, shares, likes appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #BaghdadBurning

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 1, 2020 at 8:03 pm

95 DAYS, AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

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Yeah, I’m 63 years old today. How the hell did this happen? My plan to die young and be a horrible warning has gone tragically awry. And judging from the image above, I’m not even doing old age right. A Covid-safe birthday of course, cake for one. I’ll throw something at the cat maybe. I had the wrong birth date listed on Facebook out of excessive caution. In 1984 creepy as F fashion Facebook changed the date to the correct date. Oh well, at least all my Facebook friends sent me birthday greetings on the right day this year.

The election countdown continues. Trump suggested that the election might have to be postponed because of Covid-19. Outrage, justifiably enough, from many quarters. Trump doesn’t have the authority to change the election date, so just more of his nonsense. He’s running scared and grasping at straws. Like his endless complaining it’s going to be the most corrupt election in history. (Easy on the hyperbole sport, it’s getting old.) Safe bet that if he loses, he will claim the election was rigged. Not sure what he would be able to do about it though. His latest wall around the White House is 13 foot high. So it’s going to hurt when he gets tossed over it. (Since I wrote this even Republican leaders have said no way to his election delaying fantasy.)

And even if somehow the election is delayed, it’s not like Covid-19 is going to magically go away or the economy will magically recover. The economy is tanking at a frightening rate actually, no doubt Trump will claim this is fake news or a Democratic hoax. His fantasised ability to bend reality to his bidding doesn’t really work that way, neither problem (the economy or Covid-19) can be solved with a sharpie on a chart.

Came across the below meme about the doctor Trump was touting as support for his Covid-19 treatment:

I can’t make this shit up, living in a world where facts have left fiction in the dust. On the plus side, Trump doubling down on trying to appeal to his Evangelical, science denying, magical thinking base is a good thing. They are still a definite minority in America despite the best efforts of the quiverfull movement, alienating everyone else isn’t going to help him win in November.

Trump has decided to pull 12,000 troops from Germany. He’s punishing Germany for something or other is the claim. Screams of outrage from some quarters, far less understandable in this case. If the troops are actually coming home, great. Nato’s raison d’etre ceased to exist over 30 years ago, the more troops the US pulls from abroad the better, at this point as our economy is nose diving we really should consider cutting military spending, there are a few problems in America more pressing than defending against essentially non-existent overseas threats. Caitlin Johnston covers this tempest in a teapot nicely: The Exit of 12,000 US Troops is the Single Worst Event in German History. When Caitlin is on form, she’s on form.

A few quick notes. A double lung transplant saved a Covid-19 patient. When was the last time someone with a cold or flu needed a double lung transplant? Once again for those in the back, Covid-19 is a terrible disease, it’s not just a new cold or flu.

Turns out coating things with copper really helps stop the spread of infections in hospitals. Good news, though peak copper is a thing. Hospitals and doctor’s exam rooms are going to look a lot different in years to come as this is put into practice. Gonna drive up the price of copper though. Peak copper and copper theft are already issues. More incentive to develop asteroid mining I hope, there’s single asteroids out there that contain more of certain metals than exist in the entirety of Earth’s crust.

Lastly, still getting into debates with people who think Biden is as bad as Trump. On the one hand, can’t argue with them, Biden is a terrible choice on multiple levels. There’s nothing even slightly progressive about him, he’s an utter tool of big corporations, the rich, and the Pentagon. Point granted, he’s no better than Clinton in 2016. I loathe both parties, both of them have been selling out poor, working, and middle class Americans since at least 1980.

However, and it’s a huge giant in-your-face however, in 2016 Trump was just a scary candidate with numerous red flags. 2020, Trump is insane. He lives in a fantasy world where he is a genius and a great world leader. His utter inability to lead has resulted in an epic  economic and health catastrophe in America. One of these things is not like the other. I still and to my dying day encourage people to cast their vote as they prefer, that’s the whole idea of democracy. However, unlike 2016 where I didn’t bother to vote, this time I will indeed vote for anyone who I think might win over Trump.

IDK. My crystal ball burst into flames months ago. 95 days, anything could happen between now and the election. I don’t have a spear, but I do have a sword. The way things are going, might be my saving grace. Oh, my old friend did call me. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random images publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 30, 2020 at 9:36 pm

I USED TO THINK THAT “READING/HEARING THAT MADE MY HEAD HURT” WAS A FIGURE OF SPEECH

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I was wrong, it’s not a figure of speech. I read something this morning that did in fact make my head hurt. Numb at times too, so mind numbing is also a thing. Yes, reading Trump’s latest pronouncement literally made my head hurt. I sure hope “that made my head explode” is a figure of speech, because we’re getting there.

Trump said that the malaria medication he has been touting to treat Covid-19 was only rejected as a treatment because he recommended it. Yes, he did say that. This means, correct me if I’m wrong gentle reader, Trump thinks the entire world’s medical establishment, millions of people, would see their patients, friends, and family die … and they would rather die themselves … rather than admit Trump was right. I pretty much went into shock, and yes, again,  it literally made my head hurt to think about.

And this made me realize I was wrong about Trump. I was wrong about a lot of things. It’s made me re-evaluate some deeply, almost unconsciously, held beliefs. I finally realise on a core level that Trump actually believes the things he says. He actually believes he is a combination of Christ and Julius Caesar, that he  is this super genius world leader. And the only reason things aren’t working out in his favor is that millions of people are conspiring against him to make him look bad. He actually fucking believes this. 

There certainly were plenty of signs of this earlier. Sharpiegate being maybe the most obvious. Or maybe his contention that Americans were wearing masks to make him look bad. (Does it even need to be said that Americans are wearing masks to avoid spreading a terrible disease?) This man actually believes that the stuff he says is true. He literally is living in a fantasy world of his own creation.

And worse, and this is where I was wrong about Trump and Hitler, his followers believe everything he believes too. Hitler was the same, he actually believed that the world’s Jews were all secretly conspiring to rule the world, and their secret machinations had caused Germany to lose World War One. A contention that utterly fails any logical rational analysis. Even Hitler’s allies like Finland and Japan realized it was nonsense. But millions of Germans believed it, and murdered millions of innocent men, women, and children in defence of this insanity.

I was wrong, on some level I’ve always assumed that except for the raving mad, most people understand that there is this thing called reality. And it is utterly indifferent to what people believe, it’s reality, the Universe we live in. The floor we are standing on is real. If we punch a wall and break a fist, it’s because the wall is real. I finally see that huge numbers of people don’t really understand this. If Trump says it, it’s real for them. No debate, no evidence, essentially nothing will change their minds. Trump’s the messiah for them, every word out of his mouth is God’s truth.

It was exactly the same for Hitler. Trump and Hitler both were/are so unalterably convinced of their rightness that their confidence sucked millions of people into their fantasy world. I guess humans are programmed, at least a lot of them, to follow messianistic leaders. I guess there’s evolutionary advantages to having a lot of tribal members unquestionably follow a confident tribal leader. Except of course we no longer live in tribal villages, and it’s not clear at all that this kind of devotion is a good thing anymore. Following Hitler killed a hundred plus million people and left Germany in ruins. Following Trump has killed over a hundred thousand Americans with no end in sight, not to mention devastating our economy and world standing.

But to Trump and his followers, no, whatever has resulted is because so many people want Trump to fail. No Trumper readers, us non Trumpers desperately want Trump to tackle Covid-19 using science, reason, consulting with experts; like pretty much every other developed country has done. Nope, to Trump and his ilk, anyone who doesn’t agree with him is the enemy who wants America to fail. Sigh. I’m fond of saying “we’re not really an intelligent species.” I was wrong. We’re not even a sane species. On the plus side, that we still exist is proof the aliens don’t exist. If they did, they’d have exterminated us long ago.

The pic above. Trump promoted a doctor whose medical beliefs come straight out of the Middle Ages. Health problems are caused by dream sex with demons and witches. No worries, his followers will believe her, that’s how the messiah thing works. Trump’s never wrong. Trump can’t be wrong, he’s the messiah.

I’m gonna post every day until the election. It’s the craziest time of my life, I do so to honor my current readers, and to provide a chronicle for future readers. Sorry if not as polished as most of my historical posts. 96 days now to the election? Trump continues to fortify the White House. I continue to evolve my thinking. Trump is the Hitler of our time. I can only hope he’s removed from power before he does as much damage as Hitler. Biden may be a horrible candidate on multiple levels, but pretty sure he doesn’t live in a fantasy world of his own creation.

What a time to be alive. Stay safe everyone. Comments and shares appreciated. Jesus H Christ. #StaytheFuckHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 29, 2020 at 8:38 pm

COVID-19, PERFECTLY TAILORED TO TARGET THE WILLFULLY IGNORANT? AND HOW DID TRUMP MISS THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE CENTURY?

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Was Covid-19 designed to target the willfully ignorant? What do I mean by that. I mean that unlike most ongoing natural disasters, this one’s easy to mischaracterize. The lava is coming, the dam has broken, the earthquake is happening … everyone is pretty much going to agree what to do, even if it’s just screaming and running. To some extent all plagues are more deniable, but Covid-19 hits under the waterline in additional ways. It kills a lot of people, but not enough to really freak everyone out. If it killed 10% of it’s victims, everyone would be going nuts. Better yet, it mostly kills the old! Makes it easy to ignore all the healthy people it kills. And finally the frosting on the cake, and the full horror and diabolical extent of this is still being revealed, for every person it kills, dozens have long term or permanent health deficits from Covid-19.

In other words, Covid-19 was the perfect weapon to fire at groups of willfully ignorant people and governments. I don’t mean stupid people, I mean people who use religion, ideology, magical thinking to guide their life. As opposed to people who at least try to use reason and science. The former’s risk assessment skills are spotty at best. (“It’s just a cold folks!” “It will all be gone by Easter!”) The latter, well, Vietnam took Covid-19 seriously in January. No fatalities, a handful of cases. My freaking American rural county has fared worse than the entire nation of Vietnam. Jesus wept.

So yeah, Covid-19 is the perfect weapon to deploy against Trump and similar? Is it going to kill/maim far more Modi/Trump/Boris/Putin people than others? Sure looks like it. If this aspect of Covid-19 turns out to be real, what does it mean? Is it just a coincidence? Did some secret liberal/commie lab invent Covid-19? Satan? Aliens? Let’s speculate …

First of all, I think the evidence is overwhelming that Covid-19 is a natural or feral virus. The experts in the field, and viruses are a very well studied field, say it has all the earmarks of a naturally evolved virus. There’s no global dissenters, the entire virology/epidemiology  field agrees. If evidence to the contrary emerges, I’ll reassess, but for starters we can safely eliminate this possibility as unlikely.

Are there other possibilities? Well, aliens. Maybe. At least if we postulate they exist, they would have the technology to do so, unlike hypothetical human agents creating Covid-19. Still, it’s a magical possibility. Same category as “God did it!” Or “Satan did it!” Circular reasoning, special pleading, whatever. As with the comic book idea that a human lab created Covid-19, if evidence emerges supporting the above, I’ll reassess.

So was Covid-19 being the perfect weapon to defeat Trump just a coincidence? Yeah, probably. Occam’s Razor tells us that. It’s the possibility that requires the least number of assumptions. Doesn’t always turn out to be the case, but only because new evidence shows up. With the evidence we have, Covid-19 was a natural and utterly predictable event. Especially since experts in the field have been warning us about this possibility pretty much all our lives, especially since the 1990s. It’s the most likely explanation, people that can’t accept that as a starting point in a debate, well, be careful, they may not be taking proper Covid-19 preparations either.

So, moving on. One caveat. It’s important to understand there are two faces to  an event. What actually happened, and how people responded to it. And by that I mean that yes, Covid-19 was a naturally occurring event … but … in January 2020 the smart with-it generals and other experts tasked with protecting nations … or concentrations of wealth … started having meetings. Started sitting down and brainstorming “What does Covid-19 mean, what threats does it pose, and can we use it to our advantage?” Is any major power or player using Covid-19 as a weapon yet? Maybe, I don’t see any evidence of it, but something to watch out for.

The speculation I wanted to put forward based on all of the above is this, what if Covid-19 is evidence that Evolution works in ways we don’t yet understand? What if on some as yet scientifically unexplored level this virus evolved to target things like Trump rallies, Evangelical church services, and other gatherings of Covid-19 denying folk. The perfect storm nature of the Covid-19 sure makes me wonder.

And it all could have been different too. Trump could have lept into action in January 2020, closed the borders, and used the awesome resources at his disposal to set up a  huge national test and trace program to stop Covid-19 from getting a foothold in America. He would have been ridiculed for a few months … and he would be an American God by now. If he had pulled off a Vietnam type Covid-19 response, with only a handful of dead Americans while hundreds of thousands died world wide, pretty sure his reelection would be a shoe in.

So in other words, Vietnam defeated us in war, and now they’ve defeated us in peace. Johnson and Nixon get the blame for the former, Trump gets it for the latter. He missed the golden ring he’s always aspired to, and will now go down in history like Nero at best, Caligula at worst. He wanted to be a Caesar, instead he is a Didius Julianus. Or a Commodus. One of history’s great, if largely unknown, losers.

Covid-19 is basically a test to see how in touch with reality people are. Welcome to the Universe. Stay safe and have a good week everyone. Sanity is optional at this point. Next post, black Holes. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission.)

Written by unitedcats

July 21, 2020 at 9:02 am

WINTER IS COMING: WHY THE STATUES MATTER AND WHY TRUMP IS ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY (AND MORE COVID-19 NEWS.)

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Election four months away. Anything could happen. Winter is coming. Trump and company are still basically trying to claim Covid-19 is no big deal, even going so far as to claim the CDC and everyone else is lying about it to make Trump look bad. No Mr Trump, they’re just trying to do their job. And an accusation like that could only have come from someone who habitually lies about everything. So far Trump’s lies about how great his fight against Covid-19 is going aren’t actually helping get Covid-19 under control, so he’s fallen back on claiming everyone who disagrees with his lies is lying. Disturbed preschooler crap basically. Granted Covidiocy is not limited to America. As I am increasingly fond of saying these days, humans aren’t really an intelligent species.

Trump did wear a mask for the first time in public. Good for him is my first reaction, this will encourage mask compliance, fewer people will die. Maybe he’s had an epiphany, and has realized if he listens to the experts he can still get the country, and his fortunes, out of the nosedive they are in. Snort. Don’t hold one’s breath gentle reader. I think the plan is to just throw waves of victims at Covid-19 until we win? First we sacrificed the elderly and the sick. Health care workers. Meat plant workers. Fast food workers. Now Trump’s plan is to send in children and teachers. OK then.

So some late breaking bad news. Basically looking like herd immunity isn’t very likely. Basically because looking like Covid-19 immunity doesn’t last very long. Herd immunity is something only achieved with a vaccine anyhow. Letting a disease spread through the  population to achieve herd immunity is like letting one’s house burn down to make it fireproof. That’s what we’re doing though. Crazy times.

Topic change. Let’s review the statues. (Are they even in the news anymore?) We have all sorts of statues glorifying, get this, Confederate personages. People who took up arms against the United States because they wanted to preserve the institution of chattel slavery. This is slavery where the slaves are the same as cattle, and bought and sold and bred as such. Where human beings are property because of the accident of their birth. This isn’t debatable, every single state when it seceded and joined the Confederacy stated that preserving the institution of slavery was why they were rebelling against America.

So wait, the Confederates were traitors? Yes. Criminals? Yes. Monsters? Some of them. The point is that their cause was not just, the Confederacy is one of the (if not the) greatest blemishes on the American ideal of one nation for all. There’s absolutely no reason their “heroes” should be accorded public monuments, it’s not only an affront to the people they killed and victimized, it’s an affront to the actual heroes who fought to put down their revolt. Flying a Confederate flag is no different than flying a Nazi flag. One is flying the flag of an enemy of the US, a defeated enemy at that. Convince me otherwise.

Moving along, the historical evidence is overwhelming. In any complex civilization the end finally comes when the ruling class due to corruption and human cognitive failings becomes detached from reality. While climate change and ecocide were sure to kill us, Covid-19 has compressed the timeline so to speak. America is collapsing because our leaders live in a fantasy world, will America’s failing bring the world down with it? Damned if I know, but the world Americans grew up in is dead. I’m all for tearing down statues of traitors and moving forward, can’t hurt.

And last a bit of context. Some morbid calculations. In absolute numbers Covid-19 is the 4th worst mass death event in US history, surpassed only by WW2, the Civil War, and the 1918 pandemic. In relative numbers, Covid-19 is probably tied for fourth with Korea and Vietnam, but pulling away. So to get to number three, topping 675,000 would be the absolute number. In relative numbers it would have to top 2 million. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as the 1918 flu.138,000 and counting as I write.

So yeah, been preparing myself mentally for something like Covid-19 all my life. As my friend Steve said to me once, “You freak out about the world ending every spring Doug.” He was more or less right. This time, not freaking out, the world I grew up in is dying. I just never expected that the US government and a third of Americans  would pretend it was all a hoax and try to BS their way out of it.

Stay safe and stay sane everyone. I did get started on the book today. My swan song. Comments, likes, shares appreciate. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A cat with a mouse in its jaws, a public domain Snappygoat pic. I thought about making a meme of it. Trump is the mouse, the cat is Covid-19. Maybe I will. OK. I did. Oddly enough, now that Trump has tens of thousands of preventable deaths on his hands, I see no reason to respect him no matter his office.)

Written by unitedcats

July 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

I THOUGHT WHEN THE APOCALYPSE HAPPENED PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE

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In other words: “The fire’s under control, it just looks bad because we installed all sorts of smoke detectors, if we hadn’t done that things would look great.”

It’s not reported because that’s not how it works Mr. Trump. His quote is like saying: ‘We’re making so many rifles, more rifles than any other country, we’re winning the war!’ No Mr Trump, it’s not how many rifles we make, it’s how they are  used. Having a lot of tests is useless if one isn’t using the tests to isolate infected people and track down and isolate the people they infected. And in that respect, the US is failing miserably. And no as well, on a per capita basis, our testing is lower than some other countries. And we’re not doing well fighting Covid-19, other countries are shutting Covid-19 down and cautiously reopening their economies. And lastly the 1/100th thing is so stupid it’s beyond my comprehesion.

So I’m still in shock here. What a fascinating time and place to be alive! Mass insanity! The Children’s Crusade? The Tulip Mania? <cue: hysterical laughter.> Future historians, not to mention most of the rest of the contemporary globe, will be challenged to explain how this happened. How did the USA, self supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Actually, we know how it happened. This isn’t complicated for the Trump supporters who are still reading. If one’s car breaks, one calls a mechanic. If one’s roof leaks, one calls a roofer. If one’s pipes are clogged, one calls a plumber. Right? This isn’t rocket science. By the same token, if one is facing a pandemic, one calls the pandemic experts. There’s no politics here, no religion; it’s just civilization, we have a complex society and expert knowledge is what keeps it running. There’s no room for reasonable debate here, one has a problem, one consults the people who have spent their lives and careers dealing with the problem. Right? Right?

Trump did not do this. He fired the pandemic experts on the White House staff years ago, and when the pandemic struck, he ignored the plan the pandemic experts had put together. The result has been exactly as the pandemic experts predicted, Covid-19 is exploding out of control in the US. In every other developed country (and plenty of undeveloped ones) Covid-19 has been shut down and they are slowly reopening their economies. And making sure to keep plague carrying Americans out. OMFG.

I just. I just keep having to rewrite this end of the world post because to my continuing shock and horror, maybe 2/3rds of Americans still aren’t getting it. Trump and company are still using tortured motivated reasoning to pretend everything is OK, we’re winning the fight, and everything will be fine in a few months. And if that’s the people one hangs out with and the “news” one watches, I guess it’s understandable. Sort of. One wonders how they will fare as the situation worsens, but hey, most people in North Korea think things are worse off in “American occupied” South Korea.

The other third who are not getting it  though, not Trumpers. Just normal folks who haven’t yet accepted that things have changed. A horrible new plague is spreading throughout the world. I guess it’s human nature to live in the world we create in our mind, normally that’s a good thing. “The map is not the territory” though. When reality updates, and Covid-19 is a reality update, time to change one’s internal map of the world. Harder to do for some than others. One freind for example, hates Trump, watches anti-Trump media constantly … has made essentially zero changes in his life plan due to Covid-19. Another friend is sure we’ll “muddle through.”

The problem with the former is that if things get really bad, which they could well, he’s going to be utterly unprepared. And the problem with the “muddling through” idea is that states that try to “muddle through” national disasters don’t. We don’t need muddling, we need effective national leadership. That’s not happening with Trump, his muddling has made the USA the world’s epicenter of Covid-19. More muddling is bad, not good. It’s magical thinking.

As an aside, Covid-19 has driven some people off the deep end. IE they have been completely consumed by Covid-19 Truther and conspiracy theories. A few Facebook friends. One irl friend. Last time I saw this sort of thing was 9/11, that unhinged a few people. When great tragedies happen, some people snap. A human interest offering, and further evidence that yes indeedy, Covid-19 is a big deal.

So yes, in short, I think I’m witnessing one of the greatest ongoing failures of national leadership ever in the face of a global disaster. Convince me otherwise. Hint: Tweets like the above are the opposite of convincing. So I’ve decided all in all it’s a sign. My kin have mostly deserted me, the world I knew is coming to an end, and to top it all off, it’s a freaking medical mystery why I’m even still alive. What does it mean?

It means it’s time to finish my damn book. If I can spend months planting onions and stacking cans of beans, I can spend the same furnishing my book. Or finishing it as the case may be. Now or never, since my odds of surviving Covid-19 are about 50-50 I figure. So my blog posts might drop in frequency, I dunno. I’ll do my best.

Reality is so weird now I sometimes seriously wonder if I did die some time back, and the whole Trumpian Covid-19 nightmare is a dark fantasy generated by my dying brain in its last moments. Sadly for my readers, I don’t think so. Stay safe and stay sanish everyone. Wear your damn masks. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Presidential tweets are an official channel of the US government, and thus Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

July 9, 2020 at 8:34 pm

TRUMP FINALLY TAKES DECISIVE ACTION … TO PROTECT OLD STATUES. OK THEN. HAVE A SAFE FOURTH OF JULY, TOO LATE FOR A SANE ONE.

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Written yesterday:

So yeah, Trump’s gonna give a Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore tonight. The nation is in the midst of a massive resurgence of Covid-19 cases, Fourth of July celebrations have been cancelled everywhere … and Trump’s holding a campaign rally with no mask or social distancing requirements. At a controversial location considering the current conflict over certain public statues and such. The land was basically stolen from the Sioux, and Mount Rushmore carved over their objections. 

As far as Mount Rushmore goes, give it to the Sioux and let them do with it what they will. The image above is what it looked like before it was carved up. In a more general sense, a lot of statutes and such are being toppled. Some people are upset. My take on this, what exactly are they upset about? Tearing down these monuments to criminals affects people’s lives in no discernable way. They can be moved to obscure locations where people who want to revere American traitors can go do so, whatever, it’s a free country. 

That’s what I thought last night, before I watched Trump’s Mount Rushmore military extravaganza. And a military extravaganza it was, jets flew over. Then helicopters. Then stealth fighters. Interspersed between each flight was patriotic testimony by some select military person. B-1 bombers, the Blue Angels. No, not making this up. If Trump had a Death Star, it would have flown over. In other words the introduction to his speech was a multi million dollar commercial for the US military. The nation is reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century, and a gargantuan display of military waste is how Trump thinks the Fourth of July should be celebrated? OK then.

Great production values though, it was as if Disney produced a Nuremberg rally. Then they trotted out the Master of Ceremonies, Miss South Dakota 1970. She introduced the governor of South Dakota. Lots of God and nationalism with some 60s bashing thrown in for flavor. At that point I could take no more. There was a time when I would have taken a bullet for a president. Now I can’t even watch one of his rallies. From this morning’s readings, his Mount Rushmore speech can be summed up as Trump accusing protesters of “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children”.

Paranoid divisive fear mongering nonsense, gotta hand it to Trump, he’s consistent if nothing else. No Mr Trump, people don’t want to erase history, we just don’t think statues of traitors and criminals need to be on prominent display in our great nation. Nor should military bases be named after the same traitors and criminals. The Confederates were the ones who betrayed our founding fathers and took up arms to protect the institution of chattel slavery. Their leaders are not “American heros,” and their statues should never have been put up in the first place. Stick em in obscure locations where those who want to cry over spilt milk can do so.

Comes back to what I said above, the worst global and national  health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, and Trump is upset about a few old statues? Really? Really? This isn’t leadership, this is a man baby’s idea of leadership. It’s bizarre and appalling to me, Trump can produce an extravaganza in the middle of nowhere with  hundreds of millions of dollars of military might on display, but PPE shortages continue and Covid-19 spreads virtually out of control. It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if we really are just actors in some alien reality show sitcom, and its ratings were dropping so it’s jumped the shark with Trump.

Or to put it in another term, he’s going to take decisive action to protect a bunch of old statues, he’s creating a national garden for them, but he has yet to take decisive action leading the fight against Covid-19? And his followers find this acceptable? Well, maybe the statues can grace all the new graveyards we’re gonna need this summer.

So yes, the worst Fourth of July in my lifetime. For those still in touch with reality, a terrible new disease is raging in many of the world’s countries, especially America, my home. It’s not the new Black Death, but it’s killed half a million already and will no doubt kill millions more in the months to come, wreaking global economic havoc as well. It could be worse, but it aint no freaking flu. Here’s what we know so far. And along the same reality lines, it’s a disaster in America because we freaking shut down the country but didn’t take the steps needed to safely reopen. We wasted months, and now we’re paying the price.

Stay safe, stay home, wear the damn mask.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Six Grandfathers ca 1905, Mount Rushmore before it was vandalized. Credit: National Park service, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2020 at 8:14 am

AMERICA, FROM THE CAN DO COUNTRY TO THE CAN’T DO COUNTRY

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America was once a can do country.We won World War Two fighting two of the world’s great powers. We built the interstate highway system, a marvel of engineering. We went to the Moon. We eliminated smallpox. Johnson’s New Society brought millions out of poverty. We had an education and health care system that was the envy of the world. We had a thriving middle and working class where rising tides did raise all ships. I remember, I was there for much of it.

That was then, this is now. And now, we are the country that can’t. We can’t provide health care for all, something most of the rest of the world takes for granted. (There’s something more important than the health of a nation’s citizens?) We can’t do anything about our appalling gun violence and mass shooter problem. We can’t win a war. Our infrastructure and public education systems are falling apart from lack of funding. Minorities and blacks are still second class citizens in all but name.

And now we can’t even fight a pandemic, as the above illustration shows. The country is reopening, Covid-19 cases are spiking again, and the nation’s test and trace program isn’t up and running yet. It’s not up and running, because there is no national test and trace program. And Trump has basically said he’s done with the virus, he’s not closing down the country again, and he expects Covid-19 to just go away. So all we have against a continuation of the first wave of Covid-19 are piecemeal test and trace programs, and they aren’t going super well. Partly because it’s a difficult thing to set up, and partly because Americans are so “concerned” about their privacy they aren’t cooperating with test and trace programs.

In other words, yes, Trump has made Covid-19 far worse than it could have been. However, and it’s a huge however, the rot long preceded Trump. Yes, Obama, or Biden, or Clinton or Bush or my cat could likely have done a better job fighting Covid-19 than Trump, but they still would have been crippled by the underlying structural problems that turned us into America the Can’t Do nation. Obama no matter what he would have done for example, he certainly wouldn’t have convinced the GOP to cooperate any more than they ever cooperated with him. And lack of any sort of national health care system isn’t something that can be fixed overnight.

This is one of the reasons I don’t get as upset about Trump as some people. He’s as much a symptom of the problem as he is the cause. (Oh, add our broken election process to the  “Sorry, nothing can be done” list.) So getting rid of Trump is going to be a fine thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to magically fix this country’s problems. I don’t know what is going to fix them, though I can dream. I’ve always regretted missing the last great liberal cultural wave, the 1960s. Maybe the wave of people tearing down statues and stuff portends a real movement. Liberals are the goddamn majority in America, maybe 2020 will be the year they decide they are tired of empty promises from the Dems, and make broad social change happen. A blogger can dream.

Just because they say it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is. Gee, free health care, better infrastructure and education. Freedom of religion, which means the separation of church and state. Living wages, middle class and working class growing wealthier. Yeah, the hyper rich will have much smaller bank accounts, and the military will have to do with less, but all in all the right will suffer through it. No one will be forced to get an abortion or go to a gay wedding. The world that was being created in the early 70s … before Nixon and Reagan sold the country out to the military industrial complex. That’s today’s idle speculation and I’m sticking to it.

So yeah, Trump’s big come back rally in Tulsa was a flop. About 6,000 showed up, the Trump campaign was prepared for tens of thousands. His speech was apparently not one of his best, to be honest I didn’t listen to it. My guess he probably took this low turnout badly, Trump really thrives on his MAGA rally energy. He’s had a lot of setbacks lately. He’s basically betting everything on Covid-19 just going away or being forgotten by people. He’s saying the forest fire is going to go out by itself, the experts disagree. They think it’s gonna chug along until herd immunity sets in. And depending on how long acquired immunity lasts, Covid-19 might be with us to stay. The cold from hell.

Trump was out of his depth in reasonably good times, now he’s drowning in failure. Maybe downhill from here till January when he’s dragged from the White House (while screaming “I’m the President!”)  to the sight of the greatest Trump crowd EVER … cheering his departure and burning MAGA hats.

It’s fun to live in a time in history when “God only knows what the rest of the year will bring.” Take care everyone, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Washington Post. Claiming Fair Use, historically important image,  etc. I’m a subscriber and support them FWIW.)

Written by unitedcats

June 21, 2020 at 7:20 pm

THE DYING CONTINUES BUT THANK TRUMP WE’LL ALL BE ABLE TO GET HAIRCUTS SOON

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It is so freaking strange living in contemporary America, June, 2020. Covid-19 is now the 4th worst mass death event in US history, and is still killing about a thousand people a day with no end in sight. That’s a much higher rate than any of America’s wars. Covid-19 has not only killed a 4th place record of Americans, it’s done so in just a few months! In other words, this is an ongoing catastrophe of epic proportions.

And yet, in the news, in the public eye, in the Trump supporters crowd especially, the crisis has passed and the country is reopening. All across American restrictions are being lifted and people are starting to congregate with little to no concern for masks or social distancing. It’s unreal, we’re just gonna pretend Covid-19 is going to go away? It’s like living in a Twilight Zone episode. Deaths are already ramping upwards in multiple states as they reopen, what’s going to happen when once again thousands of people are dying daily? Damned if I know.

So I’ve learned a few things from this ongoing existential crisis. I’ve always been fascinated by how civilizations collapse. More importantly, how it is that people continued to carry on with destructive actions long after it was clear that in the long run what they were doing was going to be catastrophic? Jared Diamond has written books about this, I like his take: “I wonder what they were thinking when they cut down the last tree on Easter Island.” Basically, people, even leaders, base most of their actions on short term and immediate gains, somehow blinding themselves to the ultimate consequences. Reading about it was one thing, seeing it in action, wow.

I’ve also got a bit more insight into Trump, or observation at least. People follow Trump because he believes what he says. I think it’s why people fall for cult like leaders in general, they want to be told what to think and do, and someone who can tell them that with fervent belief, well, that’s what they are looking for. It’s especially true nowadays when there’s whole news channels devoted to promoting Trumpism. So no matter how bad it gets, and there’s every indication it’s going to get much worse, his core supporters will stick by him.

This also figures into concerns about Trump’s health. He recently had a bit of trouble on a ramp and with a glass of water apparently. Though, honestly they didn’t look like any big deal to me. My point though, is Trump’s health is just like anything else in Trump’s world, he thinks he’s in great health and that’s that. If a doctor tried to tell him differently, he would get a new doctor. I could literally see him being like President Wilson after his stroke. One entire side of his body was paralyzed, but he insisted he was just “slightly lame.” The constitution was eventually amended to deal with such situations, but it would require congress to invoke. So as long as the GOP controls the Senate and Trump can be propped up in a chair and can sign documents, he’ll remain the POTUS.

Or to put our current situation another way:

“The entire point of shutting down society was to allow time for a test and trace system to be out in place. It never was and now the 2nd wave will be even bigger. So there are 115,000 dead, an economy in free-fall, millions suffering and it was all for NOTHING.This is FAILURE.”   —Mikel Jollett

Yeah, we’re hosed.

On a more personal and positive note, my Covid-19 victory garden is out of control. I’m eating stuff from it almost every meal, my housemate is eating, my neighbors are eating, even a rabbit got into it and ate some. It’s a very good feeling frankly, I should have settled down long ago and gotten serious about growing food. Most people are still on auto-pilot, but Covid-19 has changed my life. Hopefully changed it enough to get through the rest of 2020, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store for us.

Stay safe, stay sane, have a great week everyone. I took an overdue vacation last week, but back to the blogging grandstone now. Comments, likes, shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Claiming Fair Use, it’s all over Facebook, it’s the perfect photo for illustrating the post, and the idea that I am making a profit off this blog doesn’t pass the laugh test. I think it came from this site discussed on Snopes.)

Written by unitedcats

June 15, 2020 at 7:46 am