Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

THIS IS AMERICA

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July 4th 2021. America celebrates its Independence Day. 245 years ago today a group of wealthy white male property (and slave) owning Americans declared independence from Great Britain. Yes discerning gentle reader, if one wants to read a fawning celebration of an imaginary America, this isn’t the place. There were some great things about America and its founding: the idea of Constitutional government, indivisible human rights, and representative democracy. Sadly these are more honoured in the breach than in the observance. So today a few somber reflections. First a poem:

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

That’s the first three stanzas, the entire poem can be read here: Let America Be America Again.

The poem reminded me of this: Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video). What can I say, there are great things to celebrate about America. There are however terrible things, ongoing things, things that are horrific compared to the rest of the world. Pretending otherwise isn’t patriotic by my way of thinking. Pretending that in some mythical past things were better is even less patriotic.

Lastly, I was hoping Trump would come through with some July 4th pronouncement I could use to end this post. Alas, no. However, Trump junior came through! He posted the image above. At the very best, this is weird as fook. On so many levels one could write a book about it. If immortality is discovered and available to me, maybe I will.

Until then, happy Fourth. Patriotic BS aside, at least people and families came together on this holiday. I did my best, weirdest Fourth ever, but at least I honored it with this post. (Criticizing America is honoring it, claiming that dissent doesn’t honor it … is literally the ultimate way of dishonoring America.)

Speaking of ultimate: The Ultimate Showdown [4K Remaster]. Safe and happy Fourth everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Posted by Trump Jr, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2021 at 7:21 pm

Posted in History, Politics, Trump

LIFE HACK: BE EXTREMELY RICH AND HAVE AN ARMY OF LAWYERS. PLUS OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY.

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Well, no surprise here, it’s what the blog title references: Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned By State Supreme Court. It was the correct legal decision, can’t fault the court. Just another example of how the legal system protects those with money and power. The evidence that Cosby is a sick fork who drugged and raped women is overwhelming, plus plenty of other testimony that he is a creepy control freak in general, for example: Reporter Who Interviewed Cosby in ’92: He Was ‘Intimidating and Menacing’ He’s the darling of racists though: The Pound Cake speech.

It’s been a strange few days. Here’s a good one: The ‘Biblical view’ that’s younger than the happy meal. Basically the idea that the Bible prohibits abortion and says life begins at conception dates from about 1980. Before then evangelicals felt the same as everyone else, it’s not a person until it’s born. And now that’s completely changed, largely driven by politics. People love to think they are making up their own minds about things, when in fact most of them are easily manipulated into believing all sorts of things. A problem that’s getting worse as the sciences of advertising and propaganda learn new ways to manipulate people constantly.

OK, a nice nature story. (Snort.) The ‘ecological hate speech’ developed around wildfire. Basically the logging industry and their subsidiary, the US Forest Service, have totally controlled the narrative about forest management. And lo and behold they’ve created a widely believed narrative which justifies maximum logging at terrible environmental cost. Greed is the most powerful force in the Universe. Read the article for the details, but it’s hella depressing. Especially how Trump fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Speaking of politics: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens to strip members of committee assignments if they join the Jan. 6 investigation, reports say. We can thank the Dems for weaponizing this, I predicted such after the Dems voted to deny MTG her committee appointments. Congress was already an ineffective partisan farce, now it’s sunk deeper into irrelevancy. Though to give them their props, sometimes they get things right: House Votes to Remove ‘Grotesque’ Confederate Statues from Display in U.S. Capitol. The Confederacy was the greatest crime in American history, their revolt cost a million freaking lives. And they revolted because they wanted to keep human beings as property because of the color of their skin! No sheet the leaders of this treason shouldn’t be on display in the U.S. Capitol.

And the National Guard is apparently now guns-for-hire, a junk-car billionaire is paying for the deployment of 50 National Guardsmen on the southern border: Willis Johnson, Junk-Car Billionaire, Bankrolls Kristi Noem’s Border Deployment. This might technically be legal, but it certainly shouldn’t be. I think it’s safe to say that the astute reader could see how having the military undertake missions at the behest of billionaires could lead to major problems. Usually slippery slope arguments are bogus, but in this case, no, I don’t want Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos deciding where the US military gets deployed. I don’t think anyone does.

Sigh. A few missed holidays. June 30th was Asteroid Day. A UN sponsored day to spread awareness of asteroids and the risks they pose. June 30th was chosen because the Tunguska Event occurred on June 30th, 1908. This was a ten to thirty megaton explosion in the sky over a remote part of Siberia. That’s like a really big nuclear explosion, vastly larger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately it was over such a remote area that maybe only three people were killed. And it was so remote that it wasn’t scientifically investigated for decades. And even when it was investigated, well, there had been a huge explosion, but no impact crater! What the hell?

It was quite the mystery. And in fact (no surprise here) lay speculation included aliens and other such nonsense. We now know that a rocky asteroid (or possibly a comet) about 100 yards in diameter heated up and exploded in the atmosphere before hitting the ground. Similar to the smaller Chelyabinsk meteor explosion in 2013. Here’s a good article about it: 1908 SIBERIA EXPLOSION: Reconstructing an Asteroid Impact from Eyewitness Accounts.

And other Holidays. July 1st was Canada Day, the Canadian parallel to America’s Independence Day. Celebrations were a bit muted because a third mass grave near a residential school was found: Nearly 200 unmarked graves found near Canada residential school. Hard to celebrate a nation that forcibly put children in essentially concentration camps for purely racist reasons. And the Brits are upset that some statues of British monarchs who were on board with this were toppled. Fork them.

Well, I hope all are doing well these strange and terrible days. Canada is burning. The ocean caught fire. Strange new forms of Covid are arising. The Pentagon says angels and demons “can’t be ruled out.” OK then. Stay safe, gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: View from Kirensk, two seconds before the explosion. (400km, 250 miles away.) Painting © William K. Hartmann. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 3, 2021 at 8:13 pm

HEAR THAT POPPING SOUND IN THE DISTANCE? THAT’S EVANGELICAL’S HEADS EXPLODING …

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Because: Nevada pageant winner to become 1st transgender Miss USA contestant Saw this posted on Facebook, the outrage in some comments was, sadly, predictable. Something that quite literally has zero effect on them or society is somehow personally enraging to them. The nation and world has all sorts of terrible ongoing problems that are most definitely impacting everyone’s lives in negative ways … but they are outraged because a Miss USA contestant was born with male genitals. Go figure.

Might have linked this before, but it’s worth another look: Why Biden’s American election meddling comments in Geneva were such a bad look Basically Biden lectured Putin on election interference, claiming it made Russia look bad. Apparently Biden was utterly oblivious to the fact that it’s the USA that is the world’s number one meddler in foreign elections. Pot calls kettle black in other words.

A good article about France hopefully coming to grips with sexual abuse and pedophilia: Omerta in France. France has a long proud history of romance and seduction, but a lot of it is actually pretty nasty.

Another one from the trending “I’m going to change the facts to fit my narrative” file: Horses in Pre-Columbian America. Horses became extinct in North America something like ten thousand years ago, and didn’t return until the European conquest began after 1492. However, three modern groups are disputing that. One is some native groups, basically based on oral traditions, and the fact that they aren’t comfortable with the idea that the horse, which was such a central part of plains indian culture, originated with the European invaders. Hey, I can understand that. Second, by wild horse aficionados who want wild horses to get protected status, which is only granted to native species, not invasive species. Their hearts are in a good place. Lastly, the LDS Church. Because … the Book of Mormon written in the 19th century clearly claims there were horses in the New World in Biblical times. And of course since they claim it was written by God or such, it must be true. Right.

They’re all wrong of course. Well, wrong so far as current science understands it. Scientists do make mistakes though, that’s why scientific research is ongoing: It’s OK to be Wrong | NeuroLogica Blog. There was some thinking in the mid 19th century that science was on the verge of discovering everything there was to know and soon humans would have God’s creation all figured out. Ah, the folly of youth. Interestingly enough science is now able to find DNA in soil layers and determine what animals were around when the soil was deposited: All the major players spent time in the Denisovan cave. This is actually going to revolutionize archeology and paleontology. Not to mention putting the final nail in the coffin of such imaginary animals as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of imaginary creatures, the much awaited Pentagon report of UFOs came out. Oh, wait, they’re UAPs now because UFOs have such a bad name. Of course the report contained absolutely nothing new, because UFOs are one big nothingburger. Great for scaring up defense dollars though: UFO Report Provides No New Information But Plenty Of Fodder For Cold Warrior Policymakers. I know some will say, but reliable people have seen them! Um, when someone sees something in the sky the human eye cannot determine how big it is, how far away it is, or how fast it is moving. Then there’s the fact that UFOs have only been reported in modern times in regions with a history of UFO sightings, no one has ever hit one, none have ever crashed, and no one has gotten a good picture of one.

When I was younger people would say, no one ever got a picture of a car crash either! Well, decades later, we have lots of car crash pictures, still no UFO, Bigfoot, or Nessie pics. And of course SETI has come up with absolutely nada, and they’ve tried a lot of promising approaches. If alien intelligent life is ever discovered, I will of course be thrilled, but right now the overwhelming evidence is that UFOs are mythological, sociological, and psychological constructs like ghosts and angels.

Getting more random here: ‘Dragon man’ claimed as new species of ancient human but doubts remain. Long story short, during WW2 Chinese laborers found a weird skull, didn’t want the Japanese occupiers to know about it, and it was hidden until just recently. And lo and behold it’s one of the most unusual ancient skulls ever found and some are claiming it’s a new human lineage like Denosovians or Neanderthals. Yeah, one skull, no context, no DNA. Let’s not get carried away, maybe it was a Denosovian Andre the Giant. Neat find, and our understanding of just how complicated the human lineage is grows all the time, but we are not going to be rewriting textbooks on the basis of one skull.

Well, a few more links, but tomorrow! Or whenever. Interesting time in my life indeed. So the pics above! Both were taken in the 1930s. The one on the left is a group of Soviet Young Pioneers. Kinda Stalin’s equivalent of Hitler Youth. On the right, a Mickey Mouse Club meeting. The similarities and differences are telling. Even by the thirties American youth were living in a fantasy world.

So final nice story and segue. During Kristallnacht, a Jewish family was in their home as a mob came up the street burning and looting Jewish homes. Just before it got there, their 17 year old neighbor ran into their house wearing his Hitler Youth uniform. When the mob arrived he yelled out of an upstairs window that the home had been sold to a good German family, and the Jews were gone. Saving their home and valuables, and ultimately saving their lives as it left them with the resources to flee Germany before the war.

Stay cool and safe everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Described in text, both are Public Domain images to the best of my knowledge.)

Written by unitedcats

June 29, 2021 at 7:48 pm

CANADIAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR CHILDREN, CRITICAL RACE THEORY, WW2 TRUTHERS, HISTORY, AND OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK

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Fun headline recently: Canada: 751 unmarked graves found at residential school. This is the second such mass grave found in recent months, 215 graves were found earlier. Residential schools were government funded church run schools where native children were forcibly relocated in order to convert them into good little English speaking Canadians. The schools were expressly for the purpose of wiping out native culture and “assimilating” natives. The schools were by all accounts horrible places, with children dying regularly of disease and abuse, and then buried in unmarked graves. Apologists like to claim they are ‘unmarked graves’ not ‘mass graves.’ Whether you kill people all at once and shove them into a pit, or kill them periodically and shove them into individual pits makes no difference, it’s still a mass grave.

Horrors of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries? Nope, the last residential school closed in 1996. Growing up in Canada I was exposed to a lot of racist attitudes towards natives, but I never imagined things like this existed. Now at least it’s coming out, but my image of Canada as some sort of positive force in the world is now finally and completely shattered. And the Canadian government’s more or less tepid response confirms it. This should be investigated and prosecuted with all the vigor of any gross human rights crime, but it won’t be. Baby steps I guess, it is good that things like this and the Tulsa race massacre are getting dragged out of the shadows, but we’ve got a long way to go.

In the US this is particularly the case, with the GOP and religious right fervently opposing even discussion of these sorts of crimes or the removal of monuments to criminals. That’s what the whole hysteria over Critical Race Theory is all about, preventing even discussion and education about the role that race played and plays in American. The evangelical right does this by pretending that CRT is about teaching white people that they are bad or guilty because of the color of their skin. And by pretending that removing statues of Civil War traitors is somehow erasing history. No, it’s about unwhitewashing history so people can understand and move on together. I mean, the paranoia in some quarters is frightening. Nick Fuentes: Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday Is ‘About Furthering The Genocide Of White People’

It’s why I write, but I feel more pessimistic all the time both globally and nationally. Nationally it’s a mess. Biden is like Bush 41 was to Reagan, he’s an uninspiring copy of Obama. He’s basically undone a few of Trump’s more egregious nonsense, but otherwise it’s already clear he’s not going to rock the boat. And yet Biden is being portrayed as some sort of secret commie who is destroying America. Some of this stuff is just crazy: OAN Host Calls for Execution of Anyone Who Stole the Election and Tucker Carlson: Critical race theory will lead to the genocide of white Americans. These aren’t fringe people either.

So I guess I will try to get past my dismay and writer’s block by commenting on the news. George Floyd’s murderer got sentenced to 22 years. I’ve heard progressives claim he got off too lightly, conservatives outraged it was so much. I’m just glad there was a trial, there should be a trial pretty much every time a cop kills someone. My way of thinking has always been, would it be OK if the killer was a civilian? And all too often the answer is “Sheet no.” Qualified immunity needs to end, cops should be trained to not kill people. Bidens is adding more cops so, problem fixed? Snort.

A terrible building collapse in Miami. There’s actually footage of it going down, which I won’t link to  because it’s too horrible. It’s clear from the video, they did not all die quickly in their sleep. How did this happen? Safe to say the Swiss cheese model will unravel it all. A chain of events happened, and they all lined up like symbols on a slot machine. God rest their souls, and my heart goes out to friends and family, I can’t imagine. Hopefully after investigation we will learn something from this tragedy that will save lives down the road.

Like the Victoria Hall Disaster in 1883. 1500 kids were in a theatre to watch a magic show, and after the show hundreds of kids in the balconies tried to rush down to the bottom floor where candy was being tossed to the children (very few adults were present.) The stair down was blocked by a door bolted almost closed with an opening only big enough for one child. Likely to facilitate ticket collection. Long story short, there was a crush in the stairwell, and nearly 200 children died. A nightmare remembered to this day. On the plus side, a child in the town became so determined to prevent it from ever happening again, he eventually invented the first “push bar” door openers. The handles we have in almost every public building in the world, especially on exit doors, just push on the bar from inside and the door opens. This invention has saved thousands and thousands of lives.

Maybe there’s some really smart kid somewhere now so horrified by the state of the world that they are determined to fix it. And they will come up with a solution, a global push bar of sorts. A man can dream. Hope all are having a good weekend. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Photographic proof that World War Two was faked! Hell, if you’re gonna deny the holocaust, why not go whole hog? Actually, no, modern reenactment of the Battle of Osuchy, one of the largest battles between Polish partisans and Nazi troops during WW2. Will there be Trump rally reenactors someday? Credit: Adam Niedźwiecki, used legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Written by unitedcats

June 26, 2021 at 6:33 pm

WHAT DO AIS AND DATING SITE SCAMS HAVE IN COMMON? PLUS JUNE 22ND

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So I’ve been checking out some dating sites lately. They’ve come a long way since I last looked. And I’ve been there the whole time, I did computer dating in the late 1970s. And that was one computer nerd who wrote a program and advertised it locally, in Davis, USA. Worked for me, it hooked up my housemate to a girl I dated for years, was friends with for decades. Now, it’s much more sophisticated. And the scammers are as well. Well, scammers and sex workers. Neither of which I have a problem with. Hey, poor people in the second and third world want to scam gullible Americans out of their money, go for it. And sex workers can’t advertise openly and safely because this is Kristian Amerika, so they have to do so subtly on dating and rental sites. I digress.

So seeing as I have no interest in sending money to scammers or seeking the services of sex workers, I need to figure out how to filter out same. The sex workers are pretty easy, if their pics involve T&A shots with a sparse profile looking for hookups: sex worker. The scammers, boy, they have gotten a lot more sophisticated. The best ones have very real looking profiles. And when messaged, the responses can be well written as well. They tend to have a cut and paste look though, IE neat message, but only superficially at best a response to my prior message. And when I suspect a scammer, I ask a very specific question. Or better yet, say something completely nonsensical. Jeez, sent a nonsense response to one, got an obvious cut and paste message to the effect of “Wow, thanks for sharing that information with me.” Busted.

So, I realized I am essentially running a variant of the Turing Test on possible scammers. The Turing Test is basically the idea of interfacing with a subject via text exchange and determining if it is a human or a computer. Brilliant concept really, because it doesn’t concern itself with whether a computer can become conscious and self aware, it limits the question to, can a software program fake human responses enough to fool humans?

And we’re real close folks. We are close to the point where it’s going to be hard to tell if we are interacting with a person or software. Phone a business, will one be talking to software or a person? And think about this. How many professions are essentially ‘talking to people?’ The ones that can run remotely, a Zoom image or whatever works as well. The image of a person on a video feed is just pixels on a screen, all manipulable by software. AIs are going to put a lot of people out of work, every telemarketer on the planet for starters.

As for pixels on a screen, that’s what movies and TV series are, right? So why couldn’t an AI create movies? It’s just a more sophisticated chess calculator. Or series. There have to be an infinite number of possible ‘Simpsons’ episodes, right? So why couldn’t software write new ones? Think of it, every TV show or movie the gentle reader ever liked available with countless computer generated sequels/episodes. Young Sean Connery could star in thousands of James Bond films. Peeps will be able to buy software that will create movies or series to order.

Will this happen soon? IDK, technology was running ahead of application during the US Civil War, the gap has increased since then. Is there as yet some human component to creativity that AIs won’t be able to surpass? Maybe. One thing we can say for sure about the future, no one has ever accurately predicted it.

The past though, we can see how predictions went wrong. June 22nd 1941, eighty years ago today, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the greatest invasion in history. Tens of millions would die as a result. Exactly three years later, June 22nd 1944, the Soviet Union launched Operation Bagration. AKA “The Destruction of Army Group Center.” Germany’s Army Group Center. The greatest defeat ever suffered by Germany, and the fifth bloodiest campaign in European history. No one predicted that, most thought that Germany would easily conquer Western Russia, and who knows what would happen then. A crushing German defeat with Soviet Armies steamrolling to Berlin three years later, couldn’t happen.

Could an AI have written that plot? Maybe. Did an AI write that plot? Could we be living in a 23rd century computer game program on some kid’s Qpad? Am I a software routine writing a blog that will only be read by other aps? And do we evolve as a result? Hell if I know, but I’m going to explore the idea more.

So, yes. My blogging has been limited because of … personal … issues. I think I’m going to write about speculative weirdness to see if I can break through my writer’s block. Stay safe and sanish everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two destroyed German tanks during Operation Bagration, including dead German crew members. There are still people alive who remember the horrors of Germany’s invasion of Russia. I can’t imagine what they lived through. Credit: Unknown, public domain image under all known copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm

TEN WAYS WE’RE EFFED

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm

JUNE 6, 1944, THE LONGEST DAY

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A long time reader suggested some history posts instead of the GOP follies. It would be a nice break. And the timing is perfect, today is the 77th anniversary of the greatest seaborne invasion in history, Operation Overlord, the Allied landings in Normandy in German occupied France during the second World War. And I know a lot about it, as it was a famous battle in my favorite war.  I’ve probably covered most if not all of the following in previous blogs, but there’s always the possibility of a new reader or two.

So yes, D-Day was the largest amphibious landing in history. 24,000 paratroopers landed the night before, and 156,000 men (and one woman we know of) waded ashore on D-Day. About 4,000 of them died, another 6,000 were seriously injured. About a thousand Germans died, and thousands more were wounded. And several thousand French civilians also died. A pretty modest death toll for a single day of fighting actually. While thousands more would die in the weeks to come, it wasn’t a particularly deadly battle compared to numerous other battles. Hell, over 20,000 died in one day at the Battle of Towton, and that was in 1461.

D-Day also has the distinction of being the most carefully planned military operation in history. Years were spent preparing for it. All sorts of special weapons and equipment were invented for just this one battle. Hell, hundreds died in preparation for the battle. How many battles had over 700 dead preparing for the battle? Damn few, so D-Day might be the worst in history in this regard too. On the plus side, the double catastrophes in Exercise Tiger taught the Allies valuable lessons, and no doubt saved hundreds if not thousands of lives on D-Day.

And since D-Day was so well planned, it really couldn’t fail. While Ike (the overall commander) did have a message pre-written in case the landing failed, there really wasn’t any realistic chance of that. The German defences weren’t even remotely finished, the Germans had fallen for the Allies misdirection and concentrated their defences elsewhere, and overwhelming Allied air power and French resistance attacks crippled the German ability to rush reinforcements to Normandy. The Allies flew over 10,000 air missions on D-Day, the Luftwaffe, a 100 or so. No contest. The only real way the invasion could have failed is if spectacularly bad weather had set in for weeks after the landing grounding the Allies air power. None of this diminishes the accomplishments of those who took part in the invasion, it was a hard fought battle.

Some Americans love to claim D-Day was the “turning point” in the war. No, no it wasn’t. Stalingrad and Kursk were the turning points in the war. By the summer of 1944 the Russian juggernaut was rolling inevitably toward Berlin, it was just a matter of time. D-Day hastened the end of the Third Reich, and meant Western Europe and West Germany didn’t become Soviet occupied countries, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the war. D-Day was the beginning of the end for Hitler is a good way to think about it.

In the same vein Americans often think D-Day was an American affair. In “Saving Private Ryan” for example, the British are only mentioned once, disparagingly; and the Canadians aren’t mentioned at all. In point of fact, five beaches were invaded that day, two by Americans, two by the British, and one by Canadians. While America certainly provided the lion’s share of troops and weapons for the western Allies, only about 40% of the troops wading ashore on 6 June 1944 were American.

Lastly, a nice story. There were lots of specials about D-Day on the 50th anniversary in 1994. I remember one story. There was a kid from I think Nebraska who waded ashore on D-Day. He survived, and the war ended. He had some leave before returning to America. He decided to visit Normandy because he had been struck by how beautiful the countryside was. (Pretty much anyone who grew up in Nebraska will think that way about almost anywhere but Nebraska, but I digress.) Well, while there he met this nice French girl, and the rest is history. He was still happily living there as of 1994. And I bet he never had to pay for his drinks at local bars.

In any event, tonight I will drink to all that fought that day. God rest the souls of those who died. Well, all but the Nazis. I still think Nazis are bad, call me old fashioned. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: American dead on Utah Beach.  Note the body has been tagged with information about who he was, when and where he died, etc. Real people died that day, war really is madness. Credit: Probably Robert Capa.)

Written by unitedcats

June 6, 2021 at 12:23 pm

MEMORIAL DAY

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wars. The US has been at war 222 out of 239 years. More than 92% of its existence. And even that’s an under count, there really was no peace during the 19th century because of ongoing efforts by individuals and state militias to exterminate the natives. And virtually none of the wars were just wars in any way, shape, or form. That has been especially true in the post World War Two era.

Memorial Day 2021. This is the day where Americans honor those who died fighting in America’s wars. Well, that’s the theory at least. Unfortunately the way many people are honoring our dead strikes me as the exact opposite of honor. The day has been turned into a propaganda fest in support of America’s endless wars. The US has been at war 222 out of 239 years. More than 92% of its existence. And even that’s an undercount, there really was no peace during the 19th century because of ongoing efforts by individuals and state militias to exterminate the natives. And virtually none of the wars were just wars in any way, shape, or form. That has been especially true in the post World War Two era.

And yet all over Facebook, and all over the country presumably, people are posting and talking about fallen heroes who died “defending our freedom.” This is obscene. Every war since 1945 has been about defending America’s global empire and its corporate interests. Every American who died in these wars was a life wasted in service of the empire. And the memory of those whose lives were tossed away on the altar of corporate and political greed has been turned into a celebration of death and empire.

I grieve for those lost in our wars. I will honor their loss by continuing to speak for peace. The greatest thing an American can do to honor the fallen is stop supporting further war. Stop sending our youth abroad to die and be maimed in the service of corporate greed. The US is the most powerful empire the world has ever seen, there are no threats to our freedom. Outside the US at least, certain parties are working hard to destroy our freedom from within.

But that’s tomorrow’s blog. I hope all have or had a good Memorial Day. God rest the souls of those who died in America’s uniform, grant peace to their friends and family. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

May 31, 2021 at 7:50 am

THE ARIZONA AUDIT IS THE CREATION MUSEUM OF OUR TIME

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The election audit in Arizona just gets weirder and weirder. Surreal GOP ‘Audit’ in Arizona Is Off the Rails—and Just Getting Started. And some are claiming the ballots were shredded, fed to chickens, then the chickens were burned. Yes, the gentle reader read that right. An election official owns a large chicken facility, and there was a fire that killed a lot of chickens. And that’s further “proof” that the election was stolen. Wait, what? Oh, the auditors have also ruined the Maricopa county voting machines, their security has been compromised at this point. The company doing the audit isn’t actually qualified to perform an audit.

This is what happens after decades of Fox News, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and Ken Ham. What do all of these have in common? They all alter the facts to support the narrative. That’s Trump, he said the election was stolen, his followers accept that as a fact, and off they go searching for “facts” that can be shoehorned into supporting their narrative. So we know for a fact that no matter what the “auditors” discover, they won’t admit the election was fair and Trump lost. Any more that Young Earth Creationists will admit the Earth is billions of years old and evolution is real. They will twist the facts to support their beliefs, as the Creation Museum clearly demonstrates.

Reagan was the beginning of this. The first president elected entirely on his image, no content required. He was the beta version of Trump. I suspect Reagan would have despised Trump. Reagan had class, Trump is a boor. A boor with a gilded toilet and an exotic trophy wife is still a boor. I digress. Reagan: The Welfare Queen myth. Borrow and spend. The end of the Fairness Doctrine. Stock market price manipulation decriminalized. The end of mainstream independent media. Before Reagan only the fringes lived in a fantasy world, he institutionalized it. And the ultimate result of teaching their base that the narrative determines the facts … Trump, all narrative, no fact.

This is why Republicans who remained moored in reality are freaking out. Going along with GOP nonsense because it made you rich was one thing, believing Trump’s preposterous self-serving treasonous delusions is another. And I mean treason. Trump incited a mob of his followers to storm the capitol and overturn the results of the election. It was sophomoric magical thinking by Trump, like Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, but it was in fact an effort to overthrow the Republic. That’s treason. It was also the worst attack on the Republic since the Civil War, a fact which Trump’s GOP is working hard to deny and obfuscate.

And like the last great treasonous Americans, the Confederates, Trump will probably get away with it. At least Hitler got jailed after his insurrection, our republic is already so dysfunctional that even that won’t happen. We let the leaders of the treasonous south get off scot free, and I sometimes wonder if that was one of the greatest mistakes in American history. And now round two, the people who live in a 1950s white bread fantasy world have seceded.

A new Civil War? Eff if I know, the only thing I know now is that we are moving into a new era. Reagan was the start, Trump is the end. He’s the Mao, Caesar, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin of our time. Or maybe ultimately he will only be the Jeffferson Davis of our time. Just glad I’m here to witness it. Who wouldn’t want to be on the front row of history? Stupid question. The people living in Gaza would likely disagree. I’m trying to write about that nightmare, it’s a microcosm of what’s wrong in the world.

Digressing again. Windy day in northern Iowa, but some nice rain. Garden is looking good, the ground level bird bath is a big hit with the birds. Finches, Vireos, Juncos; fun new birds. I’ve seen starlings too, though not in my yard. A starling was the last bird I killed. Decades ago. Nest robbing non-native birds. It’s here to stay though, I won’t be shooting anymore. Hope all are having a good weekend. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: From Twitter, attributions in image. Found on Facebook, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 23, 2021 at 11:17 am

BOMBS AWAY, LITERAL AND FIGURATIVE

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There’s been a lot of, well, violent oppression in Israel and its occupied territories lately. More innocents dead. It’s not really a complicated or nuanced situation. Israel invaded and conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and since then has refused to either annex them or allow them to declare independence, whilst slowly stealing their land, destroying their homes, farms, infrastructure; and periodically waging war on them. Sometimes the Palestinians fight back, but the violence is overwhelmingly on Israel’s part, and the innocent dead are overwhelmingly Palestinian.

I’d say “what a mess,” but that implies it’s some sort of intractable problem where both “sides” are to blame. Nope, Israel has all the power, all the weapons, all the advantages including the unconditional and uncritical backing of the US. Israel has deliberately perpetuated the situation by denying the Palestians their rights, essentially keeping them as stateless prisoners in open air prisons. It’s not aparteid. It’s much uglier than apartheid. And as long as the US and the international community give Israel their unqualified support, Israel has no incentive to do anything but continue their slow ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank. Pointing out the injustice of this isn’t antisemitism, it’s just stating the truth.

Speaking of stating the truth, Liz Cheney, the now former GOP leader of the House, has been stripped of her position. She refuses to believe in and support Trump’s lies: Trump lost the election, and he incited a mob to storm the capitol. Not debatable. Trump though is cementing his control of the GOP and, well, inciting a purge. It’s made his remaining supporters more fanatical, while driving away huge numbers of conservatives who have decided enough’s enough. Pretending that Trump was this fantastic president was easy, but at this point Trump is indeed destroying the foundations of our democracy in his obsession with “not being a loser.”

And by driving away, I mean just that. Trump’s popularity has plummeted since the election, which is unprecedented for a former president. He’s at like 32% now, as I’ve been saying all along, about a third of the country is behind him. Some of the Republicans who have abandoned Trump are threatening to create a new party. The “No Homers” party. OK, that was a really old Simpsons joke, IDK what they propose to call it. And honestly, good show. The chances of Trump getting reelected in 2024 are basically zero if he can’t rally all the Republicans back to him. Fine by me.

And there’s definitely schadenfreude on my part here, the GOP lied for decades, sowing the field for someone like Trump. Granted the Dems aren’t exactly paragons of truth and justice, but Fox News and the GOP normalized lying about basic facts. And now a guy who lives in his own made up reality where he lies about everything is running their show. Makes me curious to know if something similar preceded the rise of other personality cult leaders in history. Fodder for future research and blogs.

Speaking of lying cult leaders, a Federal judge has slapped down Wayne Lapierre’s attempt to declare the NRA bankrupt. Basically turns out the NRA had a huge corruption problem, with the people at the top essentially looting at will. They got caught and the state of New York began legal proceedings. Mr Lapierre tried to declare the NRA bankrupt in what was a brazen attempt to get away with the goods. Using the letter of the law to evade the intent of the law usually only works in Hollywood movies, it’s why we have judges. Again, schadenfreude time. Though not really. It’s not really shameful joy when the parties involved brought it on themselves. Just joy.

In other news:: President Joe Biden Approves Nation’s First Major Offshore Wind Farm. 85 wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts. It will produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. Hopefully it’s just the first, the nation’s offshore wind power potential is twice the current total energy output of the US. I am however deeply disappointed by Mr Biden in this. What was he thinking? It should have been placed off the coast of Mar-a-Lago. Hope all are having a good week. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Palestinians fleeing Israeli ethnic cleansing in 1948. Public Domain image. Mar-a-Lago joke credit: FearlessFly.)

Written by unitedcats

May 12, 2021 at 7:16 pm