Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

MARCH 4TH 2021: BIDEN REVEALED AS CHINESE CLONE, TRUMP REINAUGERATED AS THOUSANDS OF SPACE FORCE SHOCK TROOPS DESCEND ON WASHINGTON. HUNDREDS ARRESTED, AOC, HARRIS, AND HILLARY FLEE ON AIRFORCE TWO TO CUBA

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“Washington is calm tonight as Space Force Shock Troops backed by thousands of QAnon and related militia forces swept into Washington, with Trump revealing in a press conference damning evidence of high crimes by the Democratic Washington establishment; shortly afterwards he was reinaugurated as the US president. The carefully planned and executed “Operation Storm” caught various Democratic criminals in the act, many confessing and providing evidence to avoid summary execution. Across America millions came to the streets to peacefully celebrate a return to justice and democracy, and the fitting end to one of the most demonic conspiracies ever.”

Well, that was fun. Once again QAnon’s hopes for their Messiah being magically reinstated have failed to materialize. And messiah it is, Trump’s popularity isn’t based on any reality based examination of his life and accomplishments, except in a few exceedingly narrow categories. Interesting times indeed. I’m frightened of Trump supporters now, there’s been a lot of crazy talk. In Texas in particular there’s talk of secession and kicking Democrats out of the state. Yeah, extremists for now, but scary times.

We are seeing the GOP doubling down on voter suppression efforts in states they control. Another beauty of Trump’s truthless claims of massive voter fraud. Healthy democracies make it easy to vote, because it’s not that hard to prevent voter fraud in the computer era. The US is not a healthy democracy, with GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression making it less so on a regular basis. The truth is most Americans are reasonably liberal and open minded, and not interested in living in a “Christian Nation” defined by an old testament Evangelical worldview.

Frankly at this point, give the GOP Texas and the south. I sometimes think the North should have just let the South go its own way in 1860. Slavery was already an athema to the rest of the developed world. The CSA would have been the Saudi Arabia of the world, without the oil. They would have been a friendless pariah state, with an economy increasingly lagging in a growing industrial world. Slave plantations could not compete with factories and mechanization. IE the South was a freaking lost cause in 1860, and is even more so now.

So give Texas, Florida, and a half dozen southern states to the Trump supporters and let them create their deregulated Christian utopia. Then the rest of us can rejoin the modern world and get on with an inclusive democratic America based on what works best for the common good. No ideology necessary. Things like single payer healthcare, a minimum wage, etc help everyone. The rich are slightly less rich, they’ll survive. Works just fine in the rest of the developed world, why the richest nation the world has ever known can’t provide a fair distribution of wealth to its citizens isn’t because of shortage, it’s because of greed.

So, two other items in the news. The people who have the rights to the Dr Seuss books announced that they would cease publishing six of his more obscure books because they contained offensive racist stereotype images. And the right wing “cancel culture” outrage machine went into full ballistic mode, claiming censorship, Biden did this, etc. Sigh. Times change people, and often for the better. Recognizing that dated racist stereotypes aren’t really a good thing to distribute is a perfectly reasonable and commendable business decision. If people just need to have one of these books, they will be on Ebay forever. And boy, it was a brilliant marketing move, sales of Dr Suess books have gone through the roof.

In a similar vein, Mr Potato head, a toy from my freaking childhood, rebranded their product to be more inclusive. They made it so kids could make Mr and Mr Potato head, etc, if they wanted. Again, the right wing outrage machine went nuts. What can I say, if your worldview is so fragile that even acknowledging that other views are possible … you’re a fucking Nazi and a disgrace to Christ. Let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with Trump supporters. I have a problem with them thinking their way is the only way and everyone who doesn’t think their way is the enemy.

Basically at this point Trump is the Messiah to his followers. We’re far beyond politics, debate, or compromise. Historically messiahs make terrible heads of state, Trump certainly filled those shoes nicely; but to his followers, he was the best president ever! And still is to many of them, I came across this today:

“Wow. Just wow.

I went to a friends house tonight to say goodbye to her mom who is moving back to Alabama. I’ve seen these people all along, and we’ve been careful, but their politics are opposite of mine. We normally just don’t discuss it, but tonight I walked into it.

They honestly believe:

Biden is not actually president, Trump is.

Hillary is in jail.

A secret inauguration happened today.

They had a lot of reasons to back up their claims.

They spent much of the evening showing each other pictures from right wing social media “proving” their theories.

Crazy is real, peeps.”

OK then. I wish we could just shuffle Trump supporters off into a private holodeck universe where they could live out their lives in some fantasy Trumptopia. No such luck. Have a great weekend everyone. Sorry I haven’t been blogging as much, processing my dad’s death is harder than I expected. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(image: Public domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

March 5, 2021 at 8:56 pm

AMERICA, HISTORY, VIOLENCE, TRUMP

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I realized today that I am suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Not terribly surprising,Covid is still raging, the worst American mass death event of my life, and I’ve been socially isolated for a year. That’s going to be stressful. And my father just died. And not only died, but died of Covid. I know I’ve written about how Covid was going to kill people we knew, but I wasn’t prepared for it to hit so close to home. Couldn’t have been prepared actually, the death of a loved one will always hurt, but some deaths are worse than others. This one will always hurt, I lost my dad in the pandemic. Words I never dreamt I would say.

There’s one other thing  though. Bear with me, going to try to tie some things together. A huge source of the anxiety I realize is due to the Capitol Riot. This was an unprecedented American historical event, like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, no one really saw it coming.* That’s not really what’s bothering me though. That I could deal with … if the national response to it had been, well, rational. IE: This was Trump’s doing, and it’s unacceptable. Like how most of England responded to Guy Fawkes attempt to blow up the King and Parliament.

No, that’s not how Trump supporters responded to the Capitol Riot. Broadly speaking they responded in two ways. Denial and rationalization. Trump supporters either denied Trump caused the riot, it was some sort of Antifa/Democrat false flag operation; or it was a justified response to the “Voter fraud cost Trump the election” lie. While there are some voices of reason among the Republicans, a very solid majority is, well, believing the lie. Living in a fantasy world. Seceding from reality as it were.

And this isn’t new, this is where I am stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. How to say this? White America is a nation almost unequaled in its staggering propensity to justify violence that preserved its white ruling class superiority. And the Capitol Riot was an extension of the same, it’s not some distant historical aberration, this attitude exists with us today. “Everything’s fine, America is great, any problems are caused by minorities themselves or leftists.”

Mass shootings for example. America has a horrible problem with mass shootings, no other developed country has anything like it. And when one of them does have a mass shooting, they do everything they can to prevent another, usually with great success. In America, people pretend it didn’t happen, or pretend it was unavoidable. The right’s response to America’s horrible gun violence problem is pretty much the same as its response to the Capitol Riot.

And it goes all the way back. America’s founding fathers set up a system where white property owning males reigned supreme. Race riots and native genocide were a huge part of American history, not to mention lynchings. The freaking Civil War, the greatest mass death event in US history, was fought because a certain subset of white Americans wanted to own human beings as property.

And they haven’t given up yet. The Confederates called the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression” and that mindset is still driving Trump supporters. No, progressives don’t want to cancel them. They don’t want them to feel guilty for the crimes of their ancestors. They don’t want to outlaw Christianity or install a communist government. We just want them to acknowledge that there were terrible things in American history, and we can do better.

Did that make any sense? I’m frightened and anxious because we went through the looking glass the past few months. This isn’t Birtherism or Russiagate nonsense, Trump supporters are now living in an alternate reality. Trump is their messiah, and he tells them what is real. This scares the f–k out of me. Nixon or Reagan don’t hold a candle to this sort of devotion. There’s never been anything like this in my life before, and as a student of history, Trumps are few and far between.

Usually they’re smarter though. What a sheetshow. Stay safe everyone, still crazy times everywhere. Covid is in fact real. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

*If on January 5 one predicted “Trump will incite a mob tomorrow, and they will overrun the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the election,” one would not have been taken seriously.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Public domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

March 3, 2021 at 10:20 pm

STRANGE DAYS, WEIRD TIMES IN AMERICA

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Came across this article: The United States is visibly in an early stage of disintegration, as the Internet changes before my eyes. Tonight’s recommended read. Both the left and the right are claiming Internet censorship, both are right in that there’s a struggle to control the narrative on the Internet, but suggesting it is some monolithic entity like liberals (The Right’s Straw Man nonsense,) to the Tech Giants/government (In the Left’s fear that progressive views are being shut out,) isn’t supported by evidence or reason.  Damned if I know what is going on, but the times are a changing rapidly. Both America and the world are in difficult times.

The recommended article about the U.S. being in disintegration had some false arguments in it, but factually it was right on the money. By any rational metrics the US is way sick. All the gains in the economy the past four decades have gone to the people at the tippy top. Legalized corruption on a breathtaking scale. Our infrastructure is a decaying joke, our public education and health little better, the shame of the developed world. Our military eats up all the money the rich don’t get, and the rich profit handsomely from it to boot.

We haven’t won a war for decades despite massive military spending, but we have this global military empire fighting low level wars all over the planet. Is there some plan to this? No. And our new Caesar, Biden, has made it clear he’s going to keep it all up. So there’s that. And, well, half the white population is convinced that  all of America’s problems are caused by everyone else …  in this big violent liberal conspiracy to destroy America somehow. Freaking weird people.

And Covid is ravaging America like no other country because our ruling class is so dysfunctional. Isn’t that a diplomatic way of putting it? So it’s not a good look for the largest empire the world has ever seen. America is kind of the New Byzantine Empire. I could write a blog about that alone, but not tonight. Huge, corrupt, archaic, a hollow empire, not adapting well to the changing world. An empire where a rich province is struck by a natural disaster, and the results are far worse than they could have been because it is in a corrupt dysfunctional empire; and the Right blames the liberals and green power. Like Trump’s claims about election fraud, the idea that green energy and AOC(!) are responsible for Texas’s poor response to a blizzard are both silly and easily factually refuted. Future historians will have fun with America in the 2020s. I mean, I’m a contemporary, and it’s crazy to me.

On the plus side, sort of a side effect to all this madness, a Golden Age of Solar System exploration. NASA just landed the most sophisticated robot lander ever on Mars. It takes 3-22 minutes to get radio messages to Mars, so real time communication is impossible, probes have to do some things, like landing, by themselves. And this one, Perseverance, was the first one to land in a tricky area, chosen for its science potential; instead of all previous landers who tried to land in big flat areas. Science marches on.

The Perseverance rover is also going to gather samples to be picked up and returned to Earth on near future missions. I plan on continuing to blog until then. Though my erstwhile assistant wants me to try vlogging. She has a point. The deep freeze continues in Northern Iowa. No news about my father, he is alive or dead. Stay safe and warm everyone.  God bless. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: First image from the just landed NASA Perseverance Mars lander, with a photoshopped recent viral Bernie Sanders image. Attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 18, 2021 at 8:56 pm

NUMBAT THURSDAY

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That’s a numbat. I had never heard of numbats before. It’s now my new favorite animal. Like many Australian animals, the numbat looks as if it was designed by a committee. In this case a committee of eight year olds. And in this case, the end result works. It looks cute, determined, and inquisitive at the same time. A cross between a fox and a chipmunk. And now that I have brought numbats to the attention of the world, can a Disney movie starring one be far behind? And if so, this blogger will gladly provide the voice for said numbat hero.

Yes, I’m very tired. Four ten plus hour days on limited sleep will do that to a person. Still, I promised my faithful readers a blog every weeknight, so I will persevere. Thursday was going to be a history post, but not much happened on February 11 in history. Not terribly surprising, history is mostly wars and such, and until recently, wars tended to be something conducted during the summer in the northern hemisphere. There was the carnival tragedy of 1823, sheesh, 100 or so young lads killed in a crush. One of the last battles as the Japanese closed in on Singapore in 1942, resulting in the first crushing victory of an Asian army over a European army in 400 years (so they don’t teach this one in British schools no doubt.) February 11, 1979 is the traditional date of the Iranian revolution, the one that toppled the ruthless US installed dictator. The latter part not taught in US schools I suspect, in fact last time I checked the CIA’s official history of Iran starts in … drum roll … 1979. And of course February 11, 1812 is the traditional date for the beginning of gerrymandering (and the end of representative democracy) in the US. That one’s too depressing for words. So no history post tonight, but on the plus side, history will still be there next Thursday! Stuff that’s already happened is reliable that way. (Well, not always.)

So a few interesting links as I stumble exhausted through the rest of tonight’s post: Here’s the real reason Republicans are obsessed with hating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In short, half of white Americans live in a fantasy world where whites are a discriminated against minority now. In other words, the only real contact half of white Americans have with minorities is what they see on Fox News etc, otherwise they couldn’t believe transcendent absurdities like this. The article puts it all together and into perspective nicely. Yes, very depressing.

John Pavlowitz has a nice take on “Cancel Culture,” the current right wing (fantasy) outrage de jure: The Cancel Culture is Just Adult Accountability. He’s right on target as is usually the case, “Cancel Culture” is just the current version of the “War on Christmas,” the evangelical fantasy that Christianity is somehow under attack in the US. Playing the victim is pretty much all the evangelical right has these days, and the ‘Mandalorian’ actress played it to the hilt, among other offensive posts, claiming that Trump supporters in the US face the same persecution that Jews faced in Nazi Germany. Right. A few other takes on the situation, and the evangelicals’ screams of outrage: ‘Mandalorian’ actress axed over divisive social media posts and Gina Carano’s Mandalorian exit proves ‘cancel culture’ doesn’t exist – despite what her fans say.

Running out of steam here. One last article. Yes, Trump’s abysmal response to Covid really did kill several hundred thousand Americans: US could have averted 40% of Covid deaths, says panel examining Trump’s policies. Sigh. This was apparent to anyone not living in Trumptopia in March when his Covid response essentially boiled down to “It’s all going to magically go away by Easter!” He was the worst president in American history just by that standard alone, no other president’s flaming incompetence and denial killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. But just like America by so many objective standards has the worst health care in the developed world, the people living in Trumptopia are blind to it, because their leaders and media tell them it isn’t so. It’s a cult who think their beliefs give them magical power and/or that God will deliver them from their supposed enemies and restore them to their imagined past glories. Trump’s response to Covid was like Hitler’s “no retreat” order in Russia, why, if people just have the willpower, they can accomplish anything!

It’s never worked before in history, because reality trumps fantasy every time. Magical thinking sure has caused a lot of death, destruction, and sorrow though, and I fear we’re not out of the woods yet. Still, what a time to be alive in America watching and chronicling it all. Stay safe and warm everyone. Comments, shares, likes, patrons, and donations appreciated. (Thanks for the gloves Lars, they’re wonderful, pics to follow.) And if the gentle reader doesn’t want to support me, well, maybe they’ll help save the numbat: Project Numbat. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Numbat in Perth Zoo. Credit: Martin Pot. Image used legally: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

February 11, 2021 at 8:56 pm

WHATEVER WEDNESDAY, TRUMP’S DEFENSE BLOWS UP AND OTHER ODDMENTS INCLUDING GUY FAWKES

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Well, looks like Trump’s trial in the Senate is going forward. The defense put up by his lawyers in the pretrial was pretty feeble by all accounts, not surprising, it’s not exactly the A team. Or even the B team. So yes, the senate voted that it is indeed constitutional to impeach a president after he is out of office. Cynical Doug says, “Great, so the next time the GOP controls congress they’ll impeach Obama.” I probably shouldn’t even joke about that, considering how weird politics has gotten in America. I’ll follow the trial’s developments, but this still seems like political theatre to me, I doubt Trump will face any serious consequences. The Dems are kinda like the fake opposition party, though granted they’re better than the GOP now.

Speaking of the Capitol Insurrection (GOPers are calling it a riot to deny Trump had any culpability, so insurrection it is if we’re gonna play word games,) here’s a fun take on it: Michigan’s Top Republican Falsely Calls U.S. Capitol Attack A ‘Hoax’. Yeah, really put it all in perspective for me. Basically a quarter or more of Americans live in a world where if something happens that challenges their world view, it didn’t really happen. School shootings, well, can’t possibly be that easy access to military grade weapons is a problem, so they were faked. A MAGA crowd stormed the Capitol with intent to kill, nope, Trump supporters only protest peacefully, so it was faked. Biden lost the election, nope, couldn’t have happened, so Trump was somehow cheated out of the victory. With codicil of course being all these things that were faked, why it was the libtards and their plot to turn America into a socialist welfare state where white Christians are second class citizens.

Trump’s genius, though more instinct than genius, was understanding that with these people, all one had to do was tell them what they want to hear, and deride anything that contradicts that as fake news, and they’ll eat out of your hand. Though at this point it’s getting increasingly bizarre as they try to reconcile the reality of President Biden with their fantasy world: ‘Hold the Line’: QAnon Adherents Claim Trump Will Become President Again on March 4. Or this: Fact check: Debunking claims that Biden’s Oval Office is a fake movie set. It never ends: ‘Prophetess’ Amanda Grace Says Trump’s Impeachment Trial Is Proof He’s Still President. ‘Obama wasn’t born in America’ on steroids.

Oddly enough I realized there’s a few (a fun few) parallels between the Capitol Insurrection and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The timing was about the same, the plot was revealed in early November, and ended with multiple executions at the end of January. Basically Catholics were being officially persecuted in England, and the plotters planned to blow up parliament and the king, start a revolution, and install a catholic Queen. They got as far as stashing 36 barrels of gunpowder under the parliament chambers. However, the authorities were alerted by an anonymous letter, the writer of which is unknown to this day. And in a search of the building, one Guy Fawkes was found guarding the gunpowder.

He was taken into custody, tortured terribly, and the other plotters chased down and rounded up, most were taken alive. They too were all tortured. Torture was on the way out at the time, but was still used for special occasions. And after their trials, they were all hung, drawn, and quartered. A particularly gruesome form of execution which involves hanging and then burning parts of their anatomy in front of them while still alive. I’ll leave further details to the gentle readers’ imaginations or Google skills. Guy though outwitted them at the end, he leapt off the gallows breaking his neck, thus avoiding the unpleasantness about to ensue.

So it was a plot to overthrow a government and install what the plotters thought of as the legitimate government. It went badly. And one person, Guy Fawkes, came to be emblematic of the whole mess, he was indeed the Qbacca of his day. Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated on November 5, the day Fawkes was caught. And indeed he still has a certain amount of sympathy, I know I’ve had English friends who sympathized with his desire to blow up Parliament for a just cause. At the time though most everyone was quite releived the plot had failed, the plotters got little to no sympathy or support in their flight, and even had they succeeded, it’s unlikely their plot would have succeeded. More than likely it would have precipitated a wholesale massacre of English Catholics, and as it was all it succeeded in doing was invoking even further persecution of same.

The above photo was a careful reproduction of the 1605 parliament building exploded with the equivalent of 36 barrels of gunpowder. The inset is a contemporary drawing of Guy Fawkes. He was a handsome man by all accounts. The explosion showed that if the gunpowder had been in good condition, it would indeed have killed everyone in the building. Only a portion of the head of the dummy representing the king was found afterwards. It was done for a TV show in 2005. Millenia from now when our times are only fragmentarily known, will the two plots be confused and conflated, with Qbacca Fawkes forever known as the man who stormed and blew up parliament? We can only hope so. Frankly Trump’s insurrection mob storming the capitol only to write graffiti on the walls with their shit doesn’t have a lot of poetic appeal.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Our tap water was at 29 degrees fahrenheit this AM, which while nice if one wants ice water on tap, necessitated frantic measures to get it safely above 40 again. A burst pipe can do a lot of damage to a house, been there, seen that. Comments, likes, shares, donations as always appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Explained in text. Credit: Mike Slee This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Used legally. It has been modified with the Guy Fawkes image insert.)

Written by unitedcats

February 10, 2021 at 7:45 pm

BURMA ON MY MIND

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Finally, something to write about other than Trump and his election fraud charade. Burma.  OK, the country is actually called Myanmar now, Burma was the old colonial name given to it during the British occupation. But, but, it was just a colony, occupation sounds so harsh! Um, the Brits shot their way into it, deposed the government, and installed British rule. That’s conquest no matter who’s doing it. The Age of Discovery my ass.

So, an election in Myanmar last November. The head of the military, one Min Aung Hlaing, wanted to be president after he leaves the military in 2021. That means he would need to win a majority in the parliamentary election to become head of state. And since the army gets 25% of parliamentary seats according to the Constitution, he would just need about a third of the vote. However, he started announcing long before the election that he was worried about voter fraud, and maybe the election should be delayed due to Covid. The election was held, Min Aung Hlaing was thoroughly trounced, he then spent the last two months complaining the election was rigged (without providing a shred of evidence,) and now he has seized power and arrested the civilian government.

Change a few words here and there and this could be a certain American ex-president’s fantasy come true. So yes, looks like Myanmar’s 9 year experiment with democracy is over for now. They were a badly run military dictatorship for more than 50 years before a parliamentary republic was established in 2011. Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in Asia, but awash in weapons. Buddhist nation too, that becomes important later. How accurate is the above? IDK, I think it’s a fairly safe appraisal, but I’ve never been to Myanmar and don’t know anyone from there. Biden and the west are all upset, so this isn’t a western backed military coup, those are OK. In fact the coup caught western observers by surprise.

Then there’s the truly ugly Rohingya situation. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass rape, etc. Yes, while Myanmar’s nascent democracy was getting going over the past decade, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, a pro democracy activist who spent more than 15 years under house arrest, the army was simutaneously massacring and ethnic cleansing the Rohingya Muslim minority, already one of the world’s more discriminated against people. They are stateless, imagine, living somewhere for generations, but even though born in Myanmar, they do not have citizenship. So what did Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, ostensibly the president, do or say while the army was carrying out its ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya? Essentially nothing.

OK then. How the hell does one explain this to other human beings, let alone aliens? Well, let’s try. “Earth, a planet ruled by 300 or so armed gangs, divided into multiple factions, constantly warring with each other. All claiming to follow this or that religion or ideology or personality cult, which they use to placate their populations and justify exploiting (or worse) minorities.A weird combination of prehistoric mystical cult thinking crossed with 20th century technological prowess. And a planetary civilization that not only hasn’t been able to channel the energies of those with infinite greed and zero ethics into safe outlets, it worships them.”

Yeah, we’re hosed. I feel for the people of Myanmar, this past weekend they were a nation hopefully entering into a period of western style openness and democracy, now back to a third world dictatorship. I wrote the above Monday, then spent two days being depressed about the state of humanity. 700,000 people driven from their homes, and it’s just another of the endless atrocities humans inflict on each other. There’s about 70 million refugees worldwide now, so essentially one human being in every thousand is a refugee. And we easily have the means to settle these people, modern civilization has almost unimaginable resources. And we use them to build weapons so the rich nations and rich people get ever richer.

Tomorrow, more folly and fallout from the lamest coup attempt in history. Stay safe and warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two British soldiers on patrol in the ruins of the Burmese town of Bahe during the advance on Mandalay. January 1945. Credit: UK government, Public Domain under UK copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2021 at 7:25 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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There will be a Borders III post, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. And boy, turns out there’s a lot of people on Facebook who claim to be the Messiah. I’ll get a post out of that someday too. I know someone who lost their wife and kids to a cult once, self styled messiahs have an unholy attraction for some people. Today, I’m going to be all over the place. Or more so than usual I suppose. My staff consists of one useless cat at the moment. Working on a partnership though, she’s already been far more helpful than the cat.

Moving right along, January 31 was a big day in history. I mean, every day has all sorts of historical events on it. (Except June 31, nothing ever happened on June 31, no one knows why.) However, January 31, a big day as in important well remembered events. This was the day in 1943 where German Field Marshal Paulus surrendered to the encircling Russians at Stalingrad, thus ending the greatest battle in history. Hitler had promoted Paulus to Field Marshal because no German field marshal had ever surrendered. Have I ever mentioned that Hitler was prone to magical thinking? Stalingrad was Hitler’s Pickett’s Charge, the war would only go downhill for Hitler from there.

On January 31 the VietCong launched simultaneous surprise attacks on every provincial capitol in South Vietnam, and even breached the American embassy’s grounds in Saigon. It caught America and South Vietnam by complete surprise, but it didn’t trigger the general uprising the VietCong had been counting on, and the Tet Offensive as it was called, was a tactical and strategic disaster, one from which the VietCong would never recover from. And in the USA, it was a political death blow for president Johnson, and significantly eroded American support for the war. That’s because some months earlier Johnson had announced … victory! The VietCong had been beaten, the war was all but over, the US could start pulling out. So yeah, a massive nationwide VietCong surprise attack pretty much destroyed Johnson’s credibility, and was in fact the beginning of the end for America’s misbegotten involvement in southeast Asia.

Well, those were the big two events, enough for January 31. Although in another historical footnote: Meet Eunice Foote, The Mother Of Climate Science Whose Work Was Ignored Because Of Her Sex. She was the first person to discover the role that CO2 plays in changing the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect as it is called. Since she was a woman though, she wasn’t allowed to present her findings at the 1856 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. A man got the honor and the credit 3 years later. Sigh. It would be over 100 years before she was recognized for her groundbreaking discovery.

In a medical breakthrough: Two more coma patients’ brains jump-started with ultrasound. Waycool. People sometimes come out of comas after years or even decades. The brain’s ability to heal itself is quite amazing. We are talking comas though, this would not have helped the sadly famous Terri Schiavo, she was in what is known as a persistent vegetative state. PVS is a horrible condition, the patient has normal sleep and awake cycles. They may laugh, they may cry, they may appear to be looking around. So it’s easy to see why friends and loved ones would very much cling to the belief that they are still alive and may recover. Alas, what PVS sufferers don’t do is communicate in any way, there is literally no one home. And while a few people who were misdiagnosed as being in a PVS have recovered, they were all showing signs of improvement after a few months. No one has ever recovered from an actual PVS diagnosis, the part of the brain that makes us who we are is irreparably damaged.

Moving from inner space to outer space (lame segue I know) here’s an interview with the professor who thinks Oumuamua was alien technology of some sort: Professor Avi Loeb: ‘It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe’. On the one hand, he’s plugging his new book on the topic. On the other hand he does have a point regarding how the scientific community can be hostile and non supportive of anything related to aliens. A situation that’s unlikely to change until we actually find actual evidence for them, it’s way too easy for politicians to ridicule SETI, why attract attention from them?

And another scientist has come up with an explanation for the Wow! Signal. The Wow! Signal was detected in 1977 and has never been explained. Here’s another try though: Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage? Basically humans are starting to experiment with beamed power to launch spacecraft and such, and the Wow! Signal might well be “leakage” from aliens doing the same. It’s an interesting idea, and suggests we might want to observe that part of the sky continuously to see if it ever repeats.

Lastly, back on Earth. I, for one, look forward to Qbacca testifying at Trump’s impeachment trial: ‘Complete circus’: Lindsey Graham fears ‘QAnon Shaman’ testimony at Trump’s impeachment trial. All of Trump’s lawyers have quit at this point, it’s not clear who will represent him at his trial in just over a week. Apparently all he wants to talk about at the trial is his fantasies about election fraud. It’s gonna be interesting, if not a total circus. I don’t think Trump’s ever faced anything like it, this isn’t going to be a press conference where he can ignore questions, hurl abuse at the questioner, and storm out if he doesn’t like how things are going. He might try though, boy, won’t that be fun.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Just maybe things will settle down now and the Capitol Riot was peak insanity over Trump’s election fraud charade. A man can hope. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Field Marshal Paulus surrendering at Stalingrad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-F0316-0204-005 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

No changes were made in the image. Paulus actually survived being a Russian prisoner. Most of the nearly 300,000 men who surrendered with him didn’t. Stalin had in fact promised that Paulus’ men would be well treated, and did order so. Yeah, by this point the Germans had done terrible things in Russia, so Stalin’s orders were for the most part ignored. Paulus lived until 1957.)

Written by unitedcats

January 31, 2021 at 8:30 pm

BORDERS II

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Well, I got a few testy comments about yesterday’s map. People took umbrage to how it was divided up, or to the idea the US would ever break up. All of which kind of proved my point, we are taught that borders are sacrosanct, and they sure are for a lot of people. In actuality borders are just lines drawn on a map by very powerful people, and often reflect nothing more than those people’s desires. Not that I have a problem with borders, they just need to represent  actual peoples, not made up peoples. And just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m presenting alternate maps to provoke thought and discussion, I’m not actually espousing these exact maps.

The map above was what started me thinking along these lines so many years ago. The Middle East is truly a disaster when it comes to borders. In fact reading my old article linked just now, this map got me some nasty comments too. People really get the existing borders into their identity I guess, so proposed changes are a personal affront. I guess similar to how people get their idea of sexuality and gender so much a part of their identity, that acknowledging that others don’t agree is a threat to their identity.

Did that make sense? It does to me, but trying to explain these things is a challenge. So moving right along, Biden shut down construction on Trump’s border wall. This is because he wants hordes of brown people to pour into America and destroy the white race, turning America into a liberal run socialist nightmare. And if anyone actually believes that, they have sheet for brains. (I’m getting less diplomatic on my old age.) Trump’s border wall was stupid and counterproductive, that’s why it was shut down. Stupid because it won’t work and may just make the problem worse, exactly what happened when Bush 43 tightened up the border, traffickers just moved to other parts of the border and more people got across. And since the border was now harder to cross illegally, people who used to go back and forth seasonally to work decided to stay and send for their families.

All of which was missed by Trump supporters, since Fox News never mentioned it. The border wall is counterproductive on multiple levels as well. It encourages simplistic answers to complex issues. It reinforces the racist ultranationalist trope that people coming over the border illegally are some sort of threat to us. It implies that illegal immigration is some sort of crisis that needs to be solved. No, illegal immigration is like people speeding when they drive, just something that the government has to regulate as best they can.

All kinda leads back to “The map is not the territory.” This is why I reject all dogmatic ideology and religion, it’s painfully clear by now that there are no ideological/religious solutions to humanities’ challenges. Or to be fair, none that have been discovered yet. I think it’s time to try, idk, science and reason? I think they are the best bet at deciding how to move forward. Is there some problem with solutions that are reasonable and science based? And no, science is not a religion or a cult, it’s just a way of looking at the world. An algorithm if one wills.

And finally this link: Viral Lies. Basically pointing out that our media and social platforms are doing a terrible job of preventing the spread of illogical, science denying, harmful misinformation. Having an immunologist debate an anti-vaxxer isn’t balanced reporting, it’s giving a dangerous crank a platform and credibility they don’t deserve. Granted I made that particular example up, but the point is valid. Read the article at the link. I think the internet and social media sites should be run as public utilities with equal access for all, but that’s looking less likely every day as the rich consolidate their hold on the Internet.

In local news, I tried to walk to the store, got four feet before realizing every outdoor surface was covered with 1 mm of ice. Yeah, deathwalk city. I didn’t want to add a few mm of frozen blood to the equation, so I wisely drove my car to the store. By the way, until just last year, why ice was slippery was a scientific mystery. Now we think we know why: Why Is Ice Slippery?

Stay safe and warm everyone. StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: New Middle East map. Credit: Ralph Peters/Chris Broz. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2021 at 8:19 pm

BORDERS

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OK, off we go. News? I used to get a lot of news from the Wapo and the NYT, not anymore for reasons I explained at length in recent blogs. Now my top two news sites are the BBC and The Guardian. Plus other sites too, one should get their news from a wide variety of sources, international ones for sure. Haaretz and Al Jazeera are good for example. They all have their biases, blind spots, propaganda. This is what God gave us brains for, to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ve never seen any major fact checking errors on Snopes for example, the truth is out there. In fact how people react to Snopes pretty much tells one if they are connected to reality or live in a fantasy world. I often hear a nice selection of false arguments from Snopes deniers. “They’re not professional fact checkers!” is my favorite. Um, so what? Show me a topic where Snope’s is factually in error. I’ll wait. And then Wikipedia is a great source for non controversial topics. A topic that corporate America or the US government wants to control the narrative on, skip Wikipedia entirely. What’s there may not be wrong, but it certainly won’t represent reality.

So, back to news, China threatens war if Taiwan declares independence.* Taiwan is a small island off the coast of China, a little bit bigger than Maryland, a little bit smaller than the Netherlands. It’s yet another relic of the Cold War. When Mao and his communists won the Chinese Civil War after World War Two, the US backed side fled to the island of Taiwan, and protected by the United States, there they remained. If the US hadn’t protected them, Taiwan would just be another province in China that no one outside of China had ever heard of.

And as I understand it, most people in China are adamant that Taiwan is indeed part of China, no discussion allowed. And this, in a nutshell, is why nationalism sucks sheet. The idea of a nation is great from many perspectives, but when that idea runs roughshod over self determination, it’s simply tyranny. When the United States declared independence from Britain, its revolution was based ostensibly on the ideals of self determination, not to mention inalienable human rights.  Yes, the founding fathers were hideous hypocrites who completely dishonored these ideals in the breach, founding a nation based on slavery and propertied white male supremacy, but the concepts are stll valid.

Alas, the world’s governments only apply them when it is in their interest to do so. America’s hypocrisy on this level is mind numbing, but of course completely normalized by the western press. To the point that many (most?) Americans are all for Taiwan being independent, but Crimea wanting to be part of Russia, that’s a terrible crime! The borders of the world were drawn up by the European colonial powers for their own exploitive ends, there’s nothing “normal” about them, but they are treated as such by the western press. A huge percentage of the world’s people, it must be in the 100s of millions, would rather be independent or part of another country than the one they are in.

Countless examples. The Kurds, 30 million of them, Kurdistan should have been a country after World War One. Kashmir, if they ever got to vote, would almost certainly want to be part of Pakistan. Large parts of Pakistan would rather be part of Pashtun Afghanistan. Tibet was once an independent country. I wouldn’t even know where to start in Africa, it’s a nightmare of colonial boundaries. And then countless indigenous people around the world would rather be their own country as much as possible. Why not, there’s at least 5000 ethnic groups on the planet, why should there be only 300 countries? Andorra, a nation the size of Peoria Illinois, has been independent for over 500 years. It can be done. And there are many others.

This, at the core of it, is why the aliens fly right by us. About 300 armed gangs control Earth for the benefit of a tiny number of people already so rich they could live a thousand lifetimes and not spend it all. Any sane species would long ago have fixed this. Give people self determination, and the border problems sort themselves out. And put mechanisms in place to make sure everyone benefits from the world’s wealth, it is a collective effort. Make it so businesses can’t pass health and environmental costs onto the public, the free market will indeed fix things like global warming. No ideology or religion need apply. They are the problem, not the solution. Granted some are worse problems than others. Anti-vaxxers. White Supremacists. Nazis. Yeah, I’m still anti-Nazi. Convince me otherwise. Though I do accept and try to understand the appeal. Germany was a modern educated land.

The above map is a preliminary speculation about a balkanized America. The native peoples especially should be scattered about in ancestral lands, but it’s a start. I don’t think the world colonial government is going to collapse anytime soon, but many people were surprised by the fall of Rome and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Times change, I plan to blog about it as long as I can. The Earth Burning blog. Stay safe gentle readers. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

*China tends to be more forthwith than doublespeak western diplomacy, this is likely a promise, not a threat.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Map by blog author: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

January 29, 2021 at 9:36 pm

GIANT SPACE LASERS FOR THE WIN

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That’s right: QAnon congresswoman believed California wildfires were started by a giant space laser. And she was elected. It’s sheet like this that makes the aliens fly right by, locking their doors as they do so. Let’s just say that the story falls apart (explodes violently really) upon even modest examination. There are vastly easier and cheaper ways to start fires. The technology to start fires using lasers from orbit doesn’t exist. Something like this would flag all sorts of detectors and sensors, humans do monitor Earth and near Earth in countless ways. And there’s no coherent reason for anyone to do this. However, as I am grasping more clearly every day, the far right political beliefs have morphed into a cult. And once one is in a cult, one simply interprets reality in whatever way fits the facts. As an extreme example, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, but Satan planted fossils to trick us into believing the Earth was older! Right.  OK, compared to space laser frisbees, maybe not that extreme.

In financial news, some people figured out a way to beat the casino for the rich that is the modern stock market. Good for them, though they were quickly shut down, can’t have regular people manipulating stock market prices: GameStop: Anger as trading in GameStop shares is restricted. Once upon a time companies sold stock to the public to raise money and all was good. If the company prospered, the stock went up in value, and everyone won. If the company floundered or went under, the stock became less valuable or worthless. A nice system that let companies raise money without risk, and allowed the people who gave them that money to prosper as well. Everybody shares the risks and gains. Those truly were the days when the stock market reflected the wealth of the country. Now, it would take a book to describe the giant rigged casino for the rich the stock market is. Day trading alone shows Wall Street is just a casino.

In political news, Mike Pence is homeless. Literally, unlike most of Washington’s glitterati, the Pences maintained no home away from their government provided residences the past decade or so. Homeless as in couch surfing at friend’s homes. Last I heard he still hadn’t talked to Trump since Trump sent a mob into the Capitol attempting to arrest and/or lynch him. That would put a strain on any friendship I would think. Trump has more or less denounced Pence as a traitor, so presumably he’s watching his back. I wonder what’s in store for him now, hell, he probably wonders. And whatever else one may think about the man, unlike so many other traitorous Republicans, Pence chose to stand with the Republic, not Trump’s stolen election fantasies. In some ways he was the rock that Trump’s insurrection wave broke on. Ultimately that may be the one thing he is remembered for in history. Good for him.

More Capitol Riot fallout: Second police officer dies by suicide after Capitol attack. What a horrible mess. One suicide is a horrible coincidence, two, a tragedy unfolding. These cops were attacked by what essentially was a “Blue Lives Matter” mob. In addition to the cop who died in the attack, over 50 were assaulted, one is going to lose an eye, some have brain injuries, one was

stabbed with a fence pole. Capitol Police union rebukes top brass after officers at riot sustain brain injuries, one will lose eye. No wonder so many on the right are into mass denial mode, a mob of right wing Trump supporters attacking police, couldn’t happen! Only leftists engage in political violence! Yeah, the cognitive dissonance among the right wing police that were assaulted must be pretty painful now.

Turns out veterans and active duty military made up a disproportionate percentage of the Capitol Rioters. As a veteran, this shames me. A veteran takes an oath to defend the Republic and the Constitution. Participating in this riot is pretty much the opposite of their sworn oath, fantasies about a stolen election notwithstanding. Many people weren’t surprised though, far right extremism has been an issue in the military for quite some time: Black Vets Weren’t Surprised Military Members Stormed the Capitol. Now They Want the Department of Defense to Root Out Far-Right Extremism in Its Ranks. Will the riot lead to change? Hell if I know, but the Civil War ultimately didn’t, so not holding my breath.

Lastly, just came across a great article re Gamestop etc.: Suck It, Wall Street. Highly recommended. Yeah, the rich in America are richer than they’ve ever been, and determined to get richer. I can’t see it ending well for them in the long run, but we’ll see. Maybe in 2100 Elon Musk will possess every dollar in existence, and then he’ll fix everything. It’s been a strange week for me, but I will carry on blogging for the people blocked by paywalls. Shares, comments, likes appreciated. Stay safe and warm everyone.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image Aftermath of the 1920 Wall Street Bombing. The bombing was never solved. Now we know why. Alien space lasers did it. Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 28, 2021 at 8:50 pm