Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

AMERICA THE BROKEN

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Always something on the news. The other day I saw something so grotesque it really hammered home how off the rails American society has become. From the Pentagon:

“The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, the demonstration squadrons for the Navy and Air Force, will fly over some cities together and others separately, according to the memo. The flyovers will take place in the next several weeks “to thank first responders, essential personnel, and military service members as we collectively battle the spread of COVID-19.” 

This can only be described as fetizization of the military illustrated. Bloated beyond belief military spending, including trillions on senseless foreign wars,  is a huge part of the reason health care in America is horrifically underfunded. So the Pentagon is going to waste another pile of money in tribute(!) to the very people in harm’s way because of our bloated military spending. To me this is just disgusting, wouldn’t the money be better spent on, well, almost fucking anything. Our overworked health care providers need PPE, not jets flying overhead. Shame.

On to Trump. I have only watched Trump a few times recently, he’s tiresomely repetitive. And one of the things he repeats regularly is that before Covid-19 the US had “the greatest economy the world had ever seen.” This is neither true, nor was Trump responsible for it. But given low unemployment figures and a skyrocketing stock market, Trump spun it into a sparkling tapestry of his own success. Watching him speak, I realize Trump surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear, and it’s easy enough for almost anyone to cherry pick facts and figures that make the economy appear good, so that’s where he gets his talking points.

Low unemployment means nothing in and of itself, a huge number of those jobs are pathetically low paying jobs with no benefits. The image at the top of the page says it all. In the post World War Two boom rising tides did raise all ships. This period certainly could be characterised as the greatest economy ever. Since 1980, the gains have gone increasingly to the people at the top. Trump has done nothing to  reverse this trend, if anything he has made it worse. Wealth inequality has reached historic highs under Trump, the rich getting ever richer at the expense of everyone else is not the greatest economy the world has ever seen, but it may be one of the most exploitive ones ever. The chart came from here, which lays this all out in great detail.

The other point is that Trump basically jumped onto Obama’s economic coattails, it wasn’t like the economy was a mess when Trump took office. He made the rich richer, but all the trends were all heading up anyhow. It’s not like the economic mess Obama inherited from Bush. And boy, sure looks like the next president is going to inherit the most messed up economy since FDR was elected in 1932. I don’t envy them whoever it will be.

The other reason it wasn’t the “greatest economy ever” is that it simply wasn’t. It was a horribly flawed economy designed to suck money upwards. Have come across a few good articles on the topic: Coronavirus didn’t bring the economy down — 40 years of greed and corporate malfeasance did. And another: COVID-19 Was a Trigger, But Capitalism Caused the Economic Crash. What can I say. A lot of people think the world order had big problems. Homeless camps exploded in the San Francisco Bay Area the past few years, never saw anything like it, and I lived there for decades. Hardly a sign of a great economy.

Yet, Trump and his supporters think the economy was the bestest. When I started writing this blog a decade ago, I very much tried to write in a way that was generic, and non-partisan. Granted on many levels I failed, but I own that. Still, I was trying to write to be accessible to people of all ideologies. And I still try, but it’s no longer differing ideologies. Now we’re talking about disagreement over facts. Trump and his followers believe things like “It was the greatest economy ever.” They also think he’s doing a great job with Covid-19, despite the USA somehow being the worst hit developed country. A lot of them still think Covid-19 is a hoax, or a plot to get Trump, or a Chinese plot to wreck the west.

I can only but keep trying. Hopefully things won’t get worse, but I’m underwhelmed by Trump’s response to crises. I’m not the only one. My big fear now, what if Trump loses the election? He’s shown a definite tendency to retaliate against his enemies. If he loses, he will have ten weeks to wreak vengeance on those who foiled his mission to Make America Great Again. He can’t fail, so if not reelected, it’s the nation that failed. Hate to make the comparison, but I think it’s germane now. In the waning days of World War Two, as Allied armies rolled into Germany, Hitler ordered a total scorched earth policy. If he was going to lose, he wanted Germany utterly destroyed. I fear Trump might feel the same way if he loses the election.

And this is why all my dreams these days are anxiety dreams. And why I’m not posting as much. I’m devoting huge amounts of time now preparing for a depression worse than the Great Depression. Stockpiling supplies while they are still available, planting an awesome vegetable garden. Among so many other things, who knew a worldwide pandemic and economic collapse would be so labour intensive? Oh, right, the people dying in care homes now. The people most lethally affected by Covid-19 are the ones most experienced with dealing with this kind of crisis.

That’s the sort of thought that makes me wonder if Satan or aliens are behind Covid-19. And by Satan, I mean someone who walks among us, but isn’t one of us. A topic for a more speculative blog post I guess. Have a great weekend everyone. Under no circumstances take the president’s latest health care advice, do NOT inject yourself with disinfectant. Stay safe, stay sane, #StaytheFHome.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image credit: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Used without permission, hopefully I can be forgiven as I am linking to and promoting their site.)

Written by unitedcats

April 24, 2020 at 4:31 am

“INTERESTING” IS MY NEW EUPHEMISM FOR “SCREAMING UNCONTROLLABLY”

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My chosen post title. As in we live in interesting times. Sigh. A distant relative just died of Covid-19. Starting to hit close to home. I never even met him, but was saddened beyond words. Every time someone dies humanity’s light shines a little less, and senseless deaths even more so. And mark my words, Covid-19 deaths are senseless, if we were an intelligent species outbreaks like this would be both rare and quickly shut down. Instead the planet is run by competing armed gangs more concerned with turf control and protecting the assets of the rich and powerful than the welfare of humans. Granted some are much better than others.

So much is happening so fast that these posts often are outdated before I publish, but I will soldier on. Always interesting and informatives links to share, though those can get outdated quickly too. More Americans have now died of Covid-19 than died in the Korean War. And we’ll pass the Vietnam War easily this week. Various points, after which I will review Monday’s White House briefing.

No, deaths are not being inflated by leftist health care workers. Shades of nonexistent voter fraud. Fox News and the White House are promoting this nonsense. I’d say it’s silly, but alas the right has spent decades priming people to believe “libtards” are nefarious creatures bent on destroying America, so it’s easy to come up with crap like this, and lots of people will believe. Also this is another horrible insult to the health care workers, but that’s the White House for you, insults substituting for rational leadership. If anything, the death toll is undercounted.

The big news today is people demonstrating to reopen various state economies. So I’ll just cover that. I guess encouraged by Trump, a bunch of Red States are gonna relax their quarantines. See above image. Yes, fringe groups are claiming that Covid-19 quarantines are infringing on our  freedom, curtailing our rights, and basically (yes, the claim has been made) are Nazi power grabs. Trump is encouraging them, he very much wants to get the economy going again. His re-election kinda depends on it.

I did try to watch Trump today, but after ten minutes of lies and bragging, I couldn’t take it anymore. He does have good writers, they carefully frame the “facts” in such a way to sound good. So Trump can sound off about how great everything is, and the press and the Dems are just lying about everything to make him look bad. If everything was great, no problem. I don’t think everything is great …

So only a few points. People claiming their rights are being curtailed by quarantine orders are, well, how to put it, full of shit? There’s no such thing as an unfettered right, all rights are things you are free to do if they don’t harm other citizens. Or more on point, the Supreme Court, you know, the actual fucking arbriter of rights in our constitutional republic, has repeatedly ruled that things like quarantine orders are constitutional. It’s not even debatable. Ordering people to stay home to prevent spreading a deadly disease is what governments are for, for God’s.

Well, we’ll see. Trump pretending Covid-19 was no big deal made the USA the world’s number one epicenter of Covid-19, and abandoning social distancing prematurely will likely have similar results. The only way to open up safely is to have massive programs in place to test people, and trace their contacts if they are infected. And the USA is nowhere near that, despite Trump’s cherry picked claims to the contrary.

So yeah, the shit show that is Trump’s America under Covid-19 is about to get worse. I’m seeing extreme stuff coming from all quarters. “They want to abandon social distancing, let em. Darwin will rule.” I’d be happy for a miracle now, but in real life that ain’t gonna happen. If there’s a God, it’s pretty clear it gave us the brains and resources to make Earth into a paradise. And if we chose not to, it’s our problem. “You break it, you bought it” is God’s number one rule.

Disjointed post. Things are changing at a speed unprecedented in my lifetime. Trying to make sense of it all. Current thinking: “Reality trumps ideology.” We’ll see whose ideology makes the grade. I don’t think any of them will. Things are not ever going back to normal, because normal was an exploitive crapfest. That the world economy collapsed because of an utterly predictable and preventable event shows it was a horribly flawed economy.

Wow, we may be witnessing a whole new era in human history. The next few months are going to be interesting. See post title. Freaking A. Stay safe, stay healthy. Shares and comments appreciated. #StaytheFuckHome.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

April 20, 2020 at 7:48 pm

THE COVID-19 SHOW CONTINUES

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Well, here I am again. Front row seat as one of the great events of my time unfolds. Thursday, April 16, 2020. Lots has happened in just the past few days. Front row seats for two reasons: (There’s always multiple reasons for things.) One, here I am in the USA, the developed country worst hit by Covid-19, with no end in sight. Two, because I’ve been a student of history and how it relates to current events all my life, so I’ve got a lot of background research done. I guess a third level, Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic have gotten the lion’s share of my thinking at least the past month.

So today’s thinking, it’s August 1914 or September 1939. December 1941 for the Yanks. In both cases the world people knew came to an end, and years of hardship followed before a new normal was established. For the uninitiated, in August 1914 the First World War started, few grasped what horrs it would inflict, many thought it would be gloriously brief. In September 1939 Hitler’s Germany invaded Poland, unleashing nearly a decade of horror. Yeah, a pandemic isn’t a war, yet, but it’s gonna get war level ugly. The third world especially is not equipped to deal with Covid-19, it’s going to be a bloodbath. Literally, there will be millions of dead people in the streets this summer. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

This is the best overview to date I’ve seen, even if one reads no other links on this page, check this one out. Our Pandemic Summer. That aside, what’s new? Trump blamed the WHO for fumbling its initial response to Covid-19, claiming if they had done their job properly instead of relying on what China was telling them, the outbreak might have been nipped in the bud, or at least the world would have had more time to prepare. And guess what, Trump’s right, both China and the WHO downplayed the severity of the epidemic initially. The head of the WHO should apologize and resign.

However, and it’s an Olympic size however, so what? That literally changes nothing about the current situation. And even more importantly, their mistakes cost the world days, Trump spent ten weeks after numerous parties were raising the alarm essentially doing nothing. Then there’s the part about accepting that Trump, a dyed-in-the-wool science denier and hater of all things foreign, would have even listened if the WHO had called the shots right. He’s blame shifting again, Covid-19 is skyrocketing still in the USA, and Trump still hasn’t stepped up to the plate …

See the image above, I find this a compelling image. In at least three cases US governors have made agreements to coordinate their struggle against Covid-19. (Apparently there’s one more compact.) Wait, shouldn’t the Federal government be coordinating the fight against Covid-19? Yes, yes they should. Trump has pretty much declared it’s up to the governors of US states to fight Covid-19, leading to the map above. And internationally, he has called for an end to US funding for the WHO, which would gut the agency at a time when it’s coordinating the global fight against Covid-19. He doesn’t actually have the power to do so, so who knows how it will play out. Still, when Lincoln was unhappy with the Union Army’s performance, he didn’t freaking fire the whole army.

So yes, the other reason I say I have front row seats. We are seeing in the US possibly the greatest failure of national and international leadership in my lifetime. Aside from a few hours of weird TV performances daily, Trump is letting the states and the world fend for themselves in the fight against Covid-19. And he has plenty of supporters, libertarian “government is bad” types who think (yes, I’ve talked to them) that Trump is right to leave it up to the states, and each nation should deal with Covid-19 on their own. Ideology trumps reason I guess. I am almost at a loss for words, how can one not understand that teamwork and cooperation is the best way to fight a common enemy?

So who knows where this is going. “It’s not going to end well” is about the safest thing to say. Trump is still promising miracles and claiming the country will start to reopen immediately. He’s not living in the real world, but in his defense, he has surrounded himself with people who only tell him good news. He likely actually thinks Covid-19 has peaked in the US. He’s wrong. And internationally, his failure to step up to the plate will further isolate the US and empower our designated enemies. The SCO, the Russia/China/India alliance has invited the WHO to their upcoming summit. The SCO has nearly half the world’s population, Trump’s missteps could literally lead us to a world where Europe and America no longer dominate the world order. If it means an end to our endless overseas wars, it could be a good thing.

Fun times. Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. Comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image credit: Created by Patrick Michael O’Shea, updated, reprinted with permission.)

Written by unitedcats

April 17, 2020 at 6:09 am

BERNIE DROPS OUT, MASS GRAVES, AND SCIENCE DENIAL

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Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 American election campaign, paving the way for Joe Biden to face off against Trump in the November election for POTUS. Well, I thought the 2016 election had the most horrible choice of candidates ever. Cersei Lannister vs Ramsay Bolton. For the non ‘Game of Thrones’ folks, Clinton vs Trump was like choosing between hanging or firing squad. Some choice. Bye Bernie, a lot of my friends will be sad. This is an interesting and different take on Bernie and his candidacy, I wouldn’t say it’s wrong.

So yeah, Biden vs Trump in 2020. That’s in November, months away. A global pandemic and a global economic collapse are underway, a confluence of global events not seen since at least World War Two. Anything could happen between now and then, and almost certainly will. So I don’t see any reason to worry about the election yet. And come October there will be only two issues, Covid-19 and the economy. We’ll see what Trump and Biden have to say then.

There has been an explosion of vote-shaming memes on Facebook. Memes basically claiming that Biden isn’t as much a sh*t sandwich as Trump, so all Bernie supporters and such should vote for him if they have any brains. And I understand, I can’t fault the basic logic. Trump is a ghastly president, on track to be the worst POTUS ever, it’s kind of like a crime family has taken over the White House. I see why people would hold their nose and vote for Biden in the hopes that he would be better than Trump. That’s what voting is all about, vote for the candidate of your choice.

What I am having trouble with on several levels, is why people sharing such memes think they are helping? How, exactly, is telling people they are stupid if they disagree with you helping? Telling me I’m an idiot if I don’t buy a product certainly doesn’t inspire me to go buy it, It’s especially weird since this sort of vote shaming didn’t help Hillary’s campaign any in 2016. Telling Bernie supporters they were idiots didn’t get Hillary elected, how is telling Bernie supporters they are idiots going to get their votes for Biden? I generally don’t vote for people if their supporters call me an idiot. Thinking people who disagree with you are stupid is the problem, not the solution. There are very good reasons not to vote for Biden. In any event I’ll decide who to vote for in November 2020. It’s entirely possible I’ll vote for Biden. But it’s my vote and I will cast it as I will decide.

Scary days. Trump will handle a global depression as well as he handled Covid-19. He will react way too late, and not do what needs to be done to boot. There will be plenty of blog fodder no doubt, and social isolation means I have lots of time to write. And read obsessively online. In no particular order a few recent interesting links and developments:

Covid-19 is spreading in Singapore, which is scary, because Singapore initially had a truly robust approach and kept it shut down. Until now. The takeaway is that the more we are learning about Covid-19, the scarier it gets. It’s a scary contagious disease. It’s sickening to think of the havoc it is going to cause in the US because so many, including my freaking governor, still think it will all magically blow over or something. The US is going to end up being isolated from the rest of the world because Covid-19 will still be raging here as the rest of the developed world gets it under control. Darkly ironic considering the hostility so many in the US view foreigners with. Now they’ll build walls to keep us here.

Also in the US, Covid-19 is already proving to be far more deadly to blacks than whites. No surprise to people aware of the fact that blacks are routinely and institutionally treated as second class citizens in the USA. I’ve also heard some tribal lands are being hit hard, but didn’t want to read further because it’s so depressing. In any event, this article depressingly lays out that ‘No, the Coronavirus is not an Equalizer.

Lastly, boy, the role science denial has played in America’s patchwork and uncoordinated response to Covid-14 can’t be underestimated. Science denial has become institutionalized in America, and decades of Global Warming Denial really paved the way for an unscientific response to Covid-19. America has always had an underbelly of anti-intellectualism, as Isaac Azimov put it nicely in 1980:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

And it’s gotten worse in recent decades, spreading like a cancer through society and government. I wish I knew the answer, but a pandemic requires a rational science based response, and huge numbers of Americans couldn’t think rationally and scientifically if their lives depended on it.

And now their lives do depend on it. Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Mass graves in New York City. I have no words, never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. Credit: BBCNews, used without permission, but claiming Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s definitely an historical image. What a disaster.)

Written by unitedcats

April 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm

WE’RE HOSED

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“We really are screwed, and so many people are not getting it yet. And much more so than just a pandemic. The whole world economy was finely tuned for one thing only, profit and exploitation. There was no slack to the system, and it’s all going to fall apart. It might well be worse than the great depression. It’s the end of an era, this fellow discusses it well. This isn’t just going to go away in a few months and everything will be back to normal. Nope, going downhill from here, the crazies will come out of the woodwork like so many demented cockroaches. They’ve already burned 5G towers in the UK based on the “theory” that Covid-19 is spread.”

I wrote that a few days ago. I think it’s understated now. Global civilization has been decapitated, the body will keep walking mindlessly for a bit, but it’s going to fall down soon. Everything is going to change. This isn’t The Great Depression or World War Two, it’s the Black Death or the Collapse of the Roman Empire. Yeah, I’ve always been Chicken Little, but maybe this time I’m right. I hope I’m wrong, change my mind.

In the near future here in good old America, it’s going to continue to get weirder every day. We will have Trump on TV constantly, increasingly disconnected from reality, claiming he has it all under control, blaming everyone but his administration for America’s Covid-19 disaster. That’s what’s going to get weird, the numbers of dead Americans are going to continue to spiral upwards, at what point will Trump’s supporters realize he doesn’t have a clue? I guess his plan is that Covid-19 will all blow over in a few months, he’ll claim it would have been much worse without his skills, and he sails into getting reelected claiming he saved a million American lives!

I don’t think it’s a particularly realistic plan, if hundreds of thousands of Americans die while the rest of the developed world keeps their death toll in the low ten thousands, wouldn’t people notice? Especially when their friends and loved ones die? Dunno though, once people become wedded to an ideology/religion, they can be remarkably resistant to changing their view. The historical precedents aren’t encouraging. By the time it gets so bad that core supporters lose faith, the damage is usually already done. Mussolini comes to mind. He’s actually a better Trumpian example than Hitler. Mussolini launched his legions against Britain in Egypt. Consumed by visions of riding into Cairo on a white horse as a conquering hero. It was a ridiculous fantasy. I’m guessing Trump’s reelection fantasies are equally absurd, but who knows.

So, speculation time. We’re through the looking glass folks. The only safe prediction is what sane people predicted at the start of WW1 and WW2: Who the hell knows where this will lead? The rise of authoritarian figures around the globe is a safe bet, details will vary. Pretty safe bet Trump and company will continue to transfer money and property to their corporate buddies, they were brazen about it before Covid-19, now they will pull all the stops out to give corporate America what they want. Which isn’t going to help the average American at all.

At some point I suspect Trump may use this as an excuse to further gut the social safety net. “Sorry, no more SSI, the government is broke.” No more Post Office. No more Medicaid. Any sort of election funny business is also a distinct possibility. No one can say they weren’t warned. And who knows, I don’t think Trump is above starting a war if he thinks it will improve his election chances.

So internationally, yes, gonna see some ugly stuff. Authoritarians are going to use the pandemic as an excuse/cover to seize power. A great time to settle old scores, widespread ethnic cleansing is a definite possibility. Israel might well use the Covid-19 collapse  as an excuse for the so-called transfer plan. IE simply kick the Palestinians out and annex the occupied territories. Could we see bigger things, like regional or even a world war? The former more likely than the later, but anything is possible going forward from here. There are still way too many nuclear weapons floating around too, best not to even think about that too much.

Writing about this is cathartic for me. I am certainly feeling a fair bit of stress and anxiety. And I’m fairly well set in a pretty safe place, I can’t imagine what it’s like in the front lines. I’ll try to end on a few positive notes. All things considered, a zombie apocalypse is extremely unlikely. The same for alien invasion, even less likely than a zombie apocalypse. So two less things the gentle reader has to worry about. Lastly, is the antichrist going to show up? It would sure seem like a good time. Nope. That’s because he’s already here, and doing just fine.

A few interesting links:

America is Committing Economic Suicide. Posits the stimulus is not even close to what we need to do.

The American South is screwed.

Trump the worst president ever! Well, a case can be made.

Burying people in parks, need more evidence we are in uncharted waters?

The Trump administration literally wasted two months before responding to the Covid-19 threat. I was freaking stocking up before the government acted on the issue. OMFG.

Linked above, worth a read, Trump really is a messiah to some people, here’s how he does it.

A long but interesting read about how this might all change things.

Lastly, the Prime Minister of the UK is in intensive care suffering from Covid-19. Anyone who is still thinking Covid-19 is a cold or flu needs to snap out of their shit.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane. #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Please share.

(Image: Public domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2020 at 7:51 pm

RUSH LIMBAUGH GOES ON A KILLING SPREE AND THE COMING RED STATE COVID-19 CATASTROPHE

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What a time to be alive. World War Two all over again. Well, not really, but first time since then that an event is occurring with similar global ramifications. Most of human history consists of huge areas of more or less stability, with local problems here and there. In the developed world, almost all stability since World War Two. It’s weird and different this time though. Now with the Interwebs, we are in touch with our friends in the front line. Some of them won’t survive the war. Hell of a thing. It’s the beginning of the storm. A million confirmed cases world wide, and certainly a wild undercount since so many countries have limited testing capabilities.

And in America, it’s going to be a Red State cataclysm. I almost never listen to Rush Limbaugh, every time I have it’s just a string of lies, false arguments, and vitriolic hatred directed towards his fellow Americans. Not my cup of tea. Well, turns out, surprise surprise, he’s had a lot to say about Covid-19, collected here for the gentle reader’s edification. Put a pillow on your keyboard before reading though, because your jaw and or forehead may hit it shortly:

February 24: “Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s — Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

February 25: “Why couldn’t the coronavirus get Donald Trump reelected? What if the United States comes up with a dramatically great policy to deal with it—and the number of cases in the United States dwindles, goes down, or does not expand like the cases around the world? Then why wouldn’t that be beneficial to Trump? Notice: Here we are in February, and they’ve already got this virus ruining the economy by November, in time to take out Trump. This is proof they’ve got nothing. They know they can’t beat the guy, folks…. Donald Trump has survived every coup attempt, every assault on him, that has been made up and now the coronavirus, they’re trying to lay it at his feet and make him responsible for it and they’re doing irresponsible news reports claiming that the coronavirus is gonna destroy the US economy by when? November! Isn’t it magical? The coronavirus is the new Russians…”

March 9: “Democrats out the wazoo are showing up at Trump rallies. This is why they want these rallies stopped. This is why — it’s not because of public safety, not because of public health.”

March 11: “This coronavirus, they’re just — all of this panic is just not warranted. This, I’m telling you, when I tell you — when I’ve told you that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is “COVID-19”? This is the 19th coronavirus. They’re not uncommon. Coronaviruses are respiratory cold and flu viruses. There is nothing about this, except where it came from, and the itinerant media panic…”

March 13: “We’re shutting down our country because of the — the cold virus, which is what coronaviruses are. This is COVID-19, the 19th version of the coronavirus. We’re shutting it — can you imagine our enemies watching this? You think the Chinese are not laughing themselves silly over how easy this has been?”

March 27: “We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know. And how do we know they’re even health experts? Well, they wear white lab coats, and they’ve been in the job for a while, and they’re at the CDC and they’re at the NIH, and they’re up, well — yeah, they’ve been there, and they are there. But has there been any job assessment for them? They’re just assumed to be the best because they’re in government. But, these are all kinds of things that I’ve been questioning.”

Well, I stand corrected. I thought Mr Limbaugh was just an asshole making a living spewing hate and nonsense, why not, it’s a free country? I was wrong. He’s a fucking moron. A man so stupid that he thinks he’s smart, Dunning-Kruger on steroids. Essentially everything he’s saying above is not just wrong, it’s dangerously criminally wrong. Yes, various coronaviruses do cause the common cold. That’s where the similarity begins and ends, it’s like claiming all mushrooms are harmless because they sell them in stores. He is right though, our enemies are laughing at us, because people like Trump and Limbaugh utterly sabotaged our response to a global pandemic. The USA is now the world’s leader in Covid-19 cases, and the horror is just beginning.

And Mr. Limbaugh is just one of many. The anti-science, anti-public health efforts of the GOP are going to reap a terrible harvest. Many GOP governors refused to expand Medicaid, because, you know, Obama. And have seen dramatic closures of hospitals in rural areas as a result. Basically, the GOP’s efforts to undermine trust in government and science have crippled public health measures in regions they control. Read about it here in nauseating detail: The Coming Red State Coronavirus Catastrophe. It’s incredibly depressing, huge numbers of people are going to die because of the nonsense promulgated by the GOP … and others.

This is what happens when people become convinced that opinions and hunches and woo are better than science and reason. God only knows how this is all going to play out in detail, but it’s going to get ugly. Promoting paranoid nonsense has already caused one fellow to snap, he won’t be the last. Covid-19 in America is like a bad dream I can’t wake up from. There’s some hope though, around the world people are stepping up and organizing to help their fellow citizens get through this crisis. I just hope enough people in Red States can step up and make a difference, because the GOP leadership sure isn’t stepping up to the plate.

Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Communards in their Coffins, photograph taken by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in May 1871. Public domain image. I chose it because they just seemed so real, real people, they had friends, family, loved ones. Covid-19 isn’t partisan and doesn’t give a shit about someone’s ideology, only science and reason can defend us from a pandemic.)

Written by unitedcats

April 3, 2020 at 6:14 pm

NO APRIL FOOLS JOKE THIS YEAR

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No April Fools Jokes today. Would it were everyone suddenly shouted “April Fools!” and it turned out Covid-19 was the greatest Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity prank in history and none of it happened at all. Everyone would heave a huge sigh of relief and go out for a giant community BBQ. Yes, where we would BBQ every Delta Kappa Epsilon member we could find for scaring the bejesus out of the whole damn planet. Yeah, no, probably more like there will be scattered reports today that Covid-19 has mutated into a form that turned people into zombies, and they’ll be dismissed as April Fools jokes until Trump and company are overrun by zombies during his last and most famous press briefing. Trump screaming “This is Obama’s Fault!” as he went down. Yeah, I think my imagination is running amok after staring at the same walls and annoying cat for weeks.

Boy, this is a new one for me, living through the worst global crisis since World War Two. Weird and new and disturbing on multiple levels, I could’ve gone the rest of my life without this. And especially weird since I live in the USA, a country that has grown increasingly disconnected from reality over my lifetime. And it’s showing now. Yes, Iowa is under quarantine, tons of businesses have closed. No more bars! But, phew, locals are clever, they are socializing in playgrounds and grocery stores. I shit you not, there are still a lot of people in my rural corner of Iowa who aren’t taking this seriously. Hell, there’s Coronavirus Truthers already, people convinced that a global pandemic is just some giant hoax. The mind reels.

This is what happens when powerful elements of a society decry reason and science for decades. A large percentage of Americans don’t trust experts or scientists, having been convinced they are all part of some sort of liberal plot to destroy America. America has the only major political party on Earth, developed Earth at least,  where science denial is a big part of the party platform. Every single 2016 GOP candidate for POTUS was an evolution denier. Every. Single. One. Inculcating distrust of government and international cooperation is also part of the toxic stew. And the idea, almost a cult belief in some, that anyone who has differing opinions than their own must be stupid.

So here we are, on the opposite side of the planet from where it all started, now the world’s epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even Trump is starting to sound alarms about how many Americans are going to die this summer. So much winning. I’ve tried to watch his daily briefings, but I don’t get far. He lies, brags, and says outrageous things, like blaming the lack of PPE on corrupt health care workers. That’s gotta be good for morale in the front lines. His base is still with him though, which is darkly ironic because he convinced so many of them that this was nothing to worry about and he had it under control. The next few months are gonna be interesting to say the least. And to be fair, the other side of the aisle has the same disconnect with reality, just in different ways. Contemporary American government has mastered propaganda in ways that would have been the envy of Goebbels and Hitler.

Yeah, making more Hitler comparisons now, because the effing world is getting more like the world that bred Hitler and Stalin every day. No apologies. Watching the Covid-19 pandemic explode is like watching 9/11 in slow motion. And in both cases it exposed how criminally vulnerable we were to something experts had been warning about for decades, while we learned the wrong lessons because our political system is corrupt, self-serving, and broken. And the slow motion version is climate change, now frustrated pandemic experts know exactly how climatologists have been feeling for years. A clear threat to the planet that requires a rational and scientific response, largely ignored because of political and religious agendas. Hell, Covid-19 is part of the ongoing climate crisis, and like Covid-19, it’s going to get worse faster than people are expecting. We still haven’t learnt that we learnt the wrong lessons from 9/11, our insane and counterproductive “war on terror” continues unabated as calls for global peace and coordinated international action against Covid-19 fall on deaf ears in Washington. Covid-19 is no more immune to politics than the other two crises, God help us all. We aren’t the indispensable nation, we are the insufferable nation.

Lastly, got sent this link about how Covid-19 may be an accidental release from a Chinese biological warfare research lab. Is it possible? Maybe. Every bit of expert opinion I could find says no, Covid-19’s DNA is clearly evolved from a wild strain. Wild as in living in some animal host before mutating and jumping to humans. What does it matter? It doesn’t really, this was going to occur naturally soon or later, so we can’t say we weren’t warned and didn’t know we should be ready for something like this. If it’s true then the nations of the world, the sane ones at least, will get to the bottom of it, biological warfare research is banned under international law for good reason. Blame shifting now serves no good purpose,  but alas that’s how Washington works now. Take credit for the good, blame others for the bad.

On the plus side I’m no longer enraged at Trump, just saddened and disappointed. He really has no clue, we needed a Lincoln, we got The Donald. Comments and shares appreciated, stay safe, stay healthy, #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Copied from here, an excellent article about the techniques used by science deniers. Used without permission, but hopefully I can be forgiven as I am linking to the site and also trying to inculcate rational thinking in people.)

Written by unitedcats

April 1, 2020 at 2:40 pm

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD

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I only get to do this once, write my end of the world post. It was a post I hoped never to have to write, even though I’ve known all my life that this was a possibility, and almost an inevitability. And knock on wood, we’re seeing the beginnings of the 1918 Flu Pandemic and the Great Depression at the same time. I don’t want to have to write about apocalypse number three anytime soon, so no killer asteroids or nuclear wars now please. So the world is ending. By that I mean the world we knew, the world we all grew up in, is coming to an end. It’s going to get a lot worse here in the good old USA. It’s not The Stand or The Walking Dead, but the party is over, even if a lot of people don’t get it yet.

It’s the end of the world because the USA is uniquely among developed nations unprepared for Covid-19, and the people running the country aren’t responding to it in an effective manner. When one’s car breaks down, one calls a mechanic. When one’s house is on fire, one calls the fire department. When one faces a pandemic, one calls pandemic experts. Not Trump, he actually thinks he is smarter than the experts on the subject. Many people see this, but his supporters don’t, to them Trump is Benny Hinn. The problem of course being that the Covid-19 virus doesn’t give a shit about a waving coat or Trump’s hunches. Decades of science denial and faulty logic have left America utterly vulnerable to a plague that requires a rational and scientific response. Reality bats last, and in America, it’s about to bash our brains in.

Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, will die, there will be economic disruption unseen since the crash of 1929. And the economic damage to the planet is incalculable. It’s going to get worse because America and the world’s global economy is collapsing. And it’s going to get way worse in the USA because we still haven’t shut the country down. Millions of Americans are likely going to get Covid-19 now, our health care system will be overwhelmed, and huge numbers will die. Because the POTUS is ignoring expert advice and lives in a fantasy world where a few weeks of shutdown will fix this and we can all go back to work.

Americans need to take this seriously, even if the POTUS and his followers aren’t.  It’s time to plant victory gardens, the gentle reader will be glad they did. And the other thing people need to understand, it’s not going to get normal again for years, if ever. Even the few countries who have brought it under control are still massively shut down. And until a cure or a vaccine is developed, they can’t let their guard down. The world economy is going to tank, despite Trump’s valiant efforts to pretend otherwise. He seems to think it will all be over by Easter, and churches will be filled with happy worshippers. This is frighteningly delusional, mark my words.

Covid-19 is the perfect storm, as disease control experts have warned for years. Highly contagious, often before symptoms appear. More contagious than the flu. And more deadly. The perfect vehicle for spreading through the entire race. I’m getting angry now. Part of me wants to scream  “You stupid fucks, I’ve been trying to warn about shit like this my  whole life.” Covid-19 most assuredly was predictable, and we did essentially nothing as a nation to prepare for it. Moronic. So yeah, my last Covid-19 post in a while. I have a nice post on the earliest human fossil ancestor ever found in the works, we’re all worms, fun stuff.

To recap: There’s going to be a Covid-19 bloodbath in the USA over the next few months. The economy is going to take a nosedive on a scale unseen since the Great Depression. If I’m wrong, and I survive, I’ll buy the gentle reader a beer. I hope I’m wrong. Skol!

Stay safe and God Bless everyone.

Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias”

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Poem: Public domain under US copyright law. Image: Soviet ‘Boy Scouts’ pre-World War Two. Credit: Viktor Bulla/Wikimedia Commons.)

Written by unitedcats

March 25, 2020 at 6:54 am

THE END OF TRUMP (?) THE END OF THE WORLD (?) AND OTHER FANTASTIC BEASTS

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I’ve seen a number of articles recently claiming that this is the end of the Trump presidency. Yeah, wishful thinking. Even before the Covid-19 outbreak such thinking was wishful, things have changed in modern America, Trump is the new normal. By that I mean there just isn’t any accountability in Washington anymore. When the Vietnam War went South, Johnson’s presidency was done. Doesn’t work that way now, the Iraq War went south, but Bush got reelected anyhow. None of the architects of that colossal mistake were held responsible for their lies and failings, one is even the Democratic front runner for the 2020 election. Blame shifting is how Washington works now, Clinton blamed her stunning election loss on mythical Russian actors and her base bought it hook, line, and sinker; why would Trump supporters be any different? According to Fox News, he’s doing great. Though even they are having trouble spinning it that way. I hope I’m wrong. Since, you know, things haven’t been great at all.

I digress. More on point, the reason I roll my eyes when anyone predicts anything about the next year, is that nobody effing knows. The only thing we can say safely at this point is that Covid-19 is wreaking terrible economic and human cost over the globe, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s a sea change people, no one knows how this will play out. All three of the candidates for POTUS this fall are over 70 years old. Even in the best of times that demographically meant there was a decent chance any of them could die before then. Now, Jeez, it wouldn’t be terribly unlikely if all three died of Covid-19. Even one dying would upset the apple cart. It’s uncertain times, at best, lol. So not going to get too worked up about politics and the election at this point. There’s more important things now. We’ll see what happens

So , there are  a number of takeaways at this point. Late March, 2020. In no particular order, please tell me if I’m wrong:

Senators selling stock. This is the scandal de jour. After a confidential Covid-19 briefing in January, at least four Senators dumped all sorts of stock holdings. Among others. I love how the first article spins it: “ … sparking concerns that they put safeguarding their private finances before their duty to protect public health.” No sh*t Sherlock, those aren’t “concerns,” those are  facts. They made sure their wealth was safe, while downplaying the threat to the country. This shit is what fomented my recent guillotine tweet, our “leaders” putting their financial well being ahead of Americans’ lives. And that includes Trump at this point, he is literally pretty much doing nothing but lying about cures and shit that aren’t available, blame shifting, and denying responsibility for anything. At least he’s consistent, nu?

So this is going to continue to get worse in America. In January 70% of Republicans thought Covid-19 was a serious threat to the nation. Thanks to Trump’s insane underreaction, that was down to 40% just days ago. So while the virus was spreading out of control in the US, Trump was actually convincing his base to ignore it … thus making the situation much worse. The time to flatten the curve was in January and February, likely way too late now. Especially since many people in many states, including governors, still don’t get it. Celebrities, leaders, politicians are going to die too, since Covid-19 doesn’t give a shit if one is rich, powerful, or popular. The first celebrity just died today, Aurlus Mabélé, a music legend in Congo, has died from Covid-19. And of course some of our friends and family will die, four people in the same family died in New Jersey. Yeah, some flu.

Watch out for clickbait good news. The scammers, snake oil salesman, and click-bait artists are out in force, it’s a golden age for them. From more or less harmless stuff where some doctor working on a treatment etc is breathlessly portrayed as the solution, on up to actual cons. Here’s one link for avoiding fake news, best to get one’s actual info from the CDC or other reputable sources.

Lastly, just in case it wasn’t becoming self-evident, we’re in for the biggest economic downturn of our lives. And the last final dark thought, one I don’t see out there much … there’s going to be a secondary or shadow wave of deaths associated with Covid-19. Hospitals will be overwhelmed, so other treatments will be cancelled. A friend’s cancer surgery was “indefinitely postponed.” Treatment for other emergencies like accident victims and the like will be delayed or unavailable. Then there’s people who won’t be able to refill their prescriptions, in some cases life saving prescriptions. Emergency services will be overwhelmed, ambulances and firefighters might be delayed or simply unavailable. Basically until this passes, which will be months from now, any life saving support service Americans take for granted, may be rationed, delayed, or unavailable. A summer of death is on the march.

Anyone who still thinks this is just a flu is an idiot. Sadly we have been nurturing those for decades in the US, and now we are going to reap what we sowed. Have a safe weekend everyone. Comments and shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook image. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, will remove or attribute as necessary. I will be posting more funny memes, gallows humour is going to get e through this. I hope.)

Written by unitedcats

March 20, 2020 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Covid-19, Health, Trump

WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET

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Known world wide Covid-19 infections hit 200,000 cases today. It took nearly four months to hit 100,000 cases, and less than two weeks to hit 200,000. And the rate of expansion is even faster in the US. This is it folks, the Titanic is going down, the dam has broken, the, the enemy is at the gates. America is about to be overwhelmed (Well, pretty much every region on Earth, but I’m writing this specifically from my local perspective, the base reasoning is sound wherever) with huge numbers of sick people, far more than we have hospital beds for. So a lot of them will die. And on top of that the economy will tank as businesses are forced to close. It’s here folks, the global health and economic crisis of our lives. The Martians have landed, they’re real this time, and they’re winning.

What should have happened is that sometime in January our president would have assembled a crack team of pandemic experts, gotten their recommendations, and given them a blank check to put them into action. Instead, first he claimed Covid-19 was a hoax, then wildly downplayed it for weeks, since then was all over the place, and still hasn’t taken any coordinated meaningful action. The man isn’t capable of leadership, he’s a know-it-all who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes men, whose primary goal seems to be his image and propping up the stock market. His response so far has been confused and ineffectual, it’s up to states, counties, and cities to do what they can to save as many of their residents’ lives as possible.

So with no further ado, my thoughts on what states/cities/counties should be doing. If anything in here is contradicted by expert opinion, please let me know:

  1. Education, education, education: Every source I can find by pandemic experts, not to mention historians, is that clear and accurate public information is what people need. They need to know what’s happening, what’s being done about it, and what they can do about it. They need accurate scientific information untainted by religion, politics, or blame shifting. Most of America failed this test in 1918, it’s not too late yet for this crisis.
  2. And the very first thing to educate people about is social distancing. The most critical time to slow down Covid-19’s spread was weeks ago. No time machine exists yet, so now is the time for everyone to avoid social interactions and do whatever they can to both prevent catching and spreading the disease. We can’t stop the pandemic, but the more we flatten the curve now, the fewer people will die as the pandemic peaks in the weeks and months ahead. This is absolutely the number one life saving action we can take now to save the lives of friends and neighbors.
  3. Do everything possible free up/create hospital beds. This would definitely include turning things like sports and other arenas into temporary quarantine centers where the medical staff wear hazmat suits. There’s going to be a huge demand for hospital beds in the weeks to come, the more we can get sick people into them where they can’t infect others and can be treated, the more lives will be saved. People are dying untreated in hospital hallways all over the globe now, and will be soon in the US. The more beds we have, the fewer will die.
  4. A huge “meals on wheels” program to provide the elderly, the immunocompromised, and health care providers and their families  with what they need. The former because they need to be kept isolated as much as possible, the later because these people are going to be the 24/7 front line soldiers against Covid-19 and they will need all the support we can give them. Everyone, every government agency, needs to do what they can to support their local health care providers. I can’t emphasize this too much, this is an alien invasion, and our front line troops are our last best hope.
  5. Ramp up production/acquisition of the ventilator units that will be so vital at keeping people alive in the coming wave of sick people. The same for other required equipment, like masks and hazmat suits.
  6. Strict restrictions on how much vital product people can buy. And do everything we can to encourage hoarders to share their supplies with their fellows.
  7. Don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just the first time in most Americans’ lives where we are facing a national emergency. World War Two was the last, and 1918 the last one anything like this one. Life in America is never gonna be the same again, but if we pull together we can come out of this as a better nation on the other side.

A tremendous amount of the national response seems misguided to me. Yeah, everyone is going to need money soon, a check would help. However, checks aren’t going to save lives. A check isn’t going to put food on store shelves. A check isn’t going to magically create hospitals and medical staff. A check isn’t going to help granny if she’s dead. We need to be doing things to save lives now, not worrying about “the economy,” whatever that even means in times like these. Ideology, religion, politics are all freaking irrelevant now.

Lastly, since faith is big in America, hell, I’m an ignostic Episcopalian myself, it’s time tp “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” Prayers are no more going to stop Covid-19 than they stopped bombs raining down on Pearl Harbor. It’s time for people of faith to come together with everyone and do what has to be done, the few lost pastors telling their flocks to depend on faith to protect them are liars or lunatics. If God sent this plague to test us, it’s to tell us to use our God given brains and take care of each other. That’s God’s work now.

God bless, everyone have a safe and sane week. One last big shout out and thanks to our front line defenders, and all the people out there supporting them and trying to keep society running. If this was a Hollywood movie, in the credits scene we’d find out that real aliens in giant spaceships were about to invade

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy and share for educational purposes if properly attributed.

(Image: The Plague at Ashdod, 1631, painting.  Credit: Niccolò Possino 19594-1665. Public domain under most if not all Copyright Laws as the author has been dead for centuries.)

Written by unitedcats

March 18, 2020 at 1:38 pm