Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Impeachment’ Category

TRUMP’S SOTU 2020: “EVERYTHING’S GREAT! YAY ME!” ETC

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Well, the post title is Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address in a nutshell. He made really expansive claims about jobs and the economy and other stuff, most of which was overblown or misleading. I’m going to avoid all that, the details aren’t really important, nor am I qualified to discuss most of them. And hey, pretty sure all presidents exaggerate their record, it’s only human. In any event, no, America is not in some sort of magical economic boom because of Trump. There’s been some improvement, but almost all were trending up before he took office.

It was more Trump’s background assumptions that bothered me. In semi random order, a few highlights of what Trump said … and didn’t say.  His obsession with Obama was once again evident. First president in my life fixated on comparing himself with and putting down his predecessor. It’s weird on two levels. First, the problems he blames Obama for were basically Fox New fantasies; Obama did an OK job running the country, and even managed to put some restraint on federal spending. Obama didn’t create any big problems, unlike his predecessor, who gifted Obama with the biggest economic crash since the great depression in the thirties. So Trump’s fixation on Obama is childish and petulant.

The deficit is something Trump didn’t talk about. It’s exploded under Trump. Gotta love how the GOP is all about fiscal responsibility when the Dems are overspending, but whistle and shuffle away when their guy is saddling our grandchildren with debt. And sadly the exploding deficit will almost certainly be used as an excuse to cut social programs, not military spending …

Yes, Trump bragged about military spending, which was even higher under Obama. It saddens me now that both parties claim that ‘all guns/no butter’ is all about ‘protecting our freedom.’ Our freedom is not in any danger from overseas, the US military has enough firepower to destroy the planet many times over. No nation is going to attack us, we’d turn them into a parking lot. And yet with all this military spending, we still can’t beat the Taliban? We’re both giving tons of money to war profiteers, and not even getting anything for it. There’s nothing to brag about here, just another president who promised less war and broke his promise.

Trump made a comment about ending “job killing” regulations. Sigh. Anytime someone claims regulations are killing jobs, it’s just corporate propaganda for “these regulations prevent us from passing environmental and health costs onto the public.” Corporations being prevented from poisoning the planet and killing people is a good thing. And the kind of regulations Trump has been getting rid of all fall into this category I am afraid.

And lastly, the presidential Medal of Freedom for Rush Limbaugh. He’s a very popular entertainer … among some Americans. Rush is also a hate monger who has devoted his career to denigrating huge numbers of Americans. How does a guy whose career is based on driving Americans apart and encouraging them to hate other Americans qualify for a Medal of Freedom? I’ve listened to Rush too, endless strings of false arguments and lies. No pandering to Trump’s base here, nope. LOL.

People believe the lies though. People like Trump apparently. Trump claimed to be inclusive, yet gives a medal to a guy who is the nation’s foremost promoter of the opposite? Granted the MSNBC/CNN/BBC view of reality is skewed and limited, but so is Fox News reality. I think Obama, for all his faults, understood that. I’m not sure Trump does. This is what scares me about Trump, I think he actually believed what he was saying. The alternative, he really is just a con-artist cashing in on the biggest con of his life, is worse.

In any event, Trump got acquitted by the Senate today in his impeachment ‘trial.’ No surprise, like the still unsettled Iowa caucus, another gift to Trump from the Dems. A Hail Mary attempt to impeach the man, which only helped his chances for reelection. I don’t understand it. Got hints though, found a you-tube video that explains why Trump is still popular despite his broken promises. A future blog. Fun times.

Post on the Battle of Stalingrad still in the works. Another case of a national leader insisting “Everything is fine!” when it definitely wasn’t. Sigh. So, to end on a good note, on February 5th 1985 the Third Punic War officially ended. After 2,131 years, the longest war in human history was finally over. Yeah, world peace is possible! I’m celebrating the anniversary, skol!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Catapult’ Edward Poynter 1868. Roman soldiers manning a catapult during the siege of Carthage in 146BC. Credit: Edward Poynter. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 5, 2020 at 10:36 pm

THE DAY THE DEMOCRACY DIED

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Things just get more and more ridiculous in Washington. Looks like the Senate has basically spiked Trump’s impeachment trial by voting not to call any witnesses. So Trump is expected to be acquitted by as early as next week. No surprise here, there was never any doubt that the GOP controlled Senate would acquit Trump. And if anything Trump’s base is going to be more energized and outraged against Democrats. Plus the whole impeachment trial has all been a huge distraction from Trump gutting environmental regulations and giving away public assets to the rich. It reminded me of the OJ trial, huge numbers of people got sucked into watching that farce too.

And on the flip side of Yesterday’s coin, the Democrats. The DNC blatantly changed the rules of the next debate so that a seat could be sold to a multi-millionaire, Bloomberg. Like the GOP, the Democrats no longer are even pretending to be anything other than part of the corrupt third world dictatorship Washington has evolved into. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sir John Dalberg-Acton said that in the 19th century. And Washington, the most rich and powerful city the world has ever seen, has become corrupt almost beyond comprehension.

Lots of people don’t see it though. Or they see it on the other side, but still have faith that their party will fix things. They don’t see a lot of things. A nation lost in the fog. Though I think it’s a media fog. Americans get their news from corporate owned media outlets that provide content to a targeted demographic, not news. And content that is staggeringly convincing because science has made great strides in propaganda and advertising the past few decades. That’s today’s theory on why America is not marching by the millions on Washington. Some have other theories.

The Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic continues to spread. Trump has used it as an excuse to restrict travel from more Muslim countries. At least Trump is consistent. Even if the virus is contained soon, at this point the economic damage is considerable and rising quickly. Well, the economy of the rich at least, stock markets are taking a hit. We’ll see. There’s always stuff going on that could turn ugly, but sometimes more than other times. This is one of the sometimes more than other times. I’m guessing the chances of a global pandemic with a million or more dead are at least 1% now, interesting times indeed.

Speaking of interesting times, Brexit just happened. The UK leaves the European Union after 47 years. Yikes. What to say? I have very mixed feelings about this. To start out, even though I am reasonably worldly educated, I am way too ignorant about European politics to have strong opinions on this topic. And I don’t see it as a black and white issue. That the vote resulted in Brexit shows that democracy is alive in the UK. I think that’s a good thing. I also posit that the vote to leave the EU is an indication that the EU has failed on some levels  Or maybe humans aren’t really an intelligent species.

Depends on how one defines intelligence. My current thinking is that the human brain is wired for pattern recognition, social beliefs, and pleasure seeking. Not logic. This is what makes us greater than ants, and what may well be the death of us all. Ants are logical, humans aren’t. On the plus side, if I was an ant, I wouldn’t be blogging.

What a freaking week. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The uncompleted U.S. Capitol building in Washington after being burned by a British army in 1814. Credit: George Munger, 1781-1825. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 1, 2020 at 7:47 am

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY A HOME ALONE 2 CAST MEMBER HAS BEEN IMPEACHED

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Well, Donald Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives. The ground didn’t open with shrieking demons emerging to drag him to Hell. Neither did the Heavens part with a force of AR-15 toting angels issuing forth to defend him. So a lot of disappointment on both sides of the political chasm. (We’re long past the aisle stage.) A lot of Dems I know are very pleased, though I’m not quite sure what they are pleased about. It’s not like the outcome of “the trial” in the Senate is in any doubt. Trump will be acquitted, sure as the Sun will come up tomorrow.

I still think what I thought when Trump was elected, the Dems should take the high road and give Trump all the rope he wants. Instead they were outraged and protesting and denying his legitimacy as president before he was even sworn in. That the GOP did this first with Obama not only isn’t relevant, it’s even more reason to take the high road. Now all the Dems have done is made it incredibly easy for the GOP to claim opposition to Trump is just blind rage. As this fellow writes, this impeachment is one more body blow to our already horribly dysfunctional government. And the endless network coverage is just political porn distracting people from real issues.

Moving right along, I watched a Democratic candidate debate last night. At least they mostly talked about real issues. Not that it really matters these days where facts no longer have any meaning. So it was kind of sad to watch. The economy is great for the rich. High employment means nothing if the jobs are shit. It’s shocking that a developed country doesn’t have cradle to grave health care, especially considering how much we spend on it. Climate change is a vital global issue we should be attacking. Can’t argue with the basics.

Unfortunately very powerful interests are making piles of money by making sure nothing is done about any of these issues. Health care and debt have been commoditized, and people making garbage wages is why MacDonald’s is able to spend $10k per employee per year buying back their own stock. That’s legalized wage theft. And on all of the issues that we should be dealing with, these interests have created powerful myths about why nothing should be done. Fight climate change, why that will wreck the economy! Fight gun violence, why they will take away our guns! Raise the minimum wage, why that will eliminate jobs! The fact that none of these and all the rest pass the logic test simply no longer matters.

That’s my big problem with the modern era, logic has gone out the window in favour of strings of false arguments. Rush Limbaugh is a God when it comes to stringing together false arguments. I know people want to hear stuff that reinforces their worldview, but if one has no freaking standards of evidence or logic, one’s worldview is imaginary. And when huge numbers of people buy into an imaginary worldview, bad things happen. And when almost everyone buys into an imaginary worldview, welcome to modern America. Where magical thinking has prevailed over evidence, science, and logic.

One example, which has been bugging me for awhile. A friend of mine said something to the effect of “glyphosate was developed as a poison, so I can see why it might be bad for people.” Aaugh. Both logic and science go out the window. There’s no such thing as a poison, it’s just a made up category. Basically everything is poisonous, it’s just the dosage that counts. We need vitamin A to live, drink a cup at once and death results. And what is very toxic to one type of life may be virtually innocuous to others. Glyphosate is very bad news for plants, biologically inert for animals. So because Glyphosate is toxic to plants, means exactly dipsquat about how toxic it is to animals. And then there’s the decades of studies failing to find any problems with low dose exposure to Glyphosate. Sigh.

On the plus side, my health has improved. The weather has warmed up. A Christian magazine has called for Trump’s removal. A new approach for SETI is intriguing. And my frelking weekend begins after I post this, woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone. Shares appreciated.

PS: I wish the title was my idea, but no, just something I heard on Facebook.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Cat not scared by Trump. Pic came up in an image search for <trump cat>, just made me giggle. Credit: Unknown, Flickr image)

Written by unitedcats

December 20, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Impeachment, Politics, Trump

MSG, FUSION REACTORS, EDWARDIAN CAT AND FRIEND. PS: TRUMP IMPEACHED

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Skeptoid just ran an article about how MSG became a ‘tainted’ seasoning, for lack of a better word. Tainted as in people ‘think’ they react badly to MSG in food. I’ve known a few such people myself, most of us have I suspect. ‘Think’ as in 40 years of research has not uncovered a single individual who reacts to MSG in their food in double blind studies. If someone thinks they react badly to it, and thinks there is MSG in their food, they will have a reaction. Even if there was no  MSG in the food. The converse is true as well. It’s what’s called a nocebo effect, a bad reaction to something that didn’t happen. An interesting topic in and of itself, but how did we get here?

Short version, MSG was one of the first casualties of the natural foods craze that took off in the 1960s. I mean, monosodium glutamate, that just sounds all chemically and shit. MSG is a type of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid. And the astute reader is thinking, wait, aren’t amino acids an important part of the human body? Exactly, our bodies and food are steeped in MSG. The typical person eats about 13 grams a day. IE more than 3 teaspoons. It’s a natural part of our diet, like salt. So WTF happened?

Basically a Chinese doctor wrote a letter to some medical journal claiming MSG gave him some sort of symptoms. People reading the letter (people are so freaking suggestable it’s scary) chimed on their own, a perfectly natural chemical was tarred as being hurtful in some way and a myth was born. Interestly enough, this is similar to the origin of the  whole ‘vaccines cause autism’ myth. In that case a single small and terribly flawed study was mistakenly published by a major medical journal, and off the idea went. In both cases there was never any actual evidence in support of the myth, and tons of follow-up research confirmed that in spades, but it didn’t matter. I guess when a myth hits some sort of critical mass, evidence no longer matters. Another one for the sociologists to explain, I got nothing.

So I liked the Skeptoid article. Then I read an article by the good Dr Novella that I didn’t like. It was about the possibility of nuclear fusion as the energy source of the future. Energy source as in big power plants. He posits they will be an improvement over nuclear plants. Free power, easily fuelled, no long term radioactive waste. Decades away at least. I agree with that last part. I usually agree with Dr Novella. This time, I think he is glossing over the problems with fusion power. It’s not the clean green solution to our power plant issue.

Why? We’re talking power plants bigger and more complicated than current nuclear power, with huge waste and ultimately plant disposal problems. IE a fusion plant as a byproduct produces a vast amount of neutrons, which irradiate everything around them. And can also be used to turn depleted Uranium back into nuclear bomb making Uranium. This link by bulletin of the atomic scientists goes into it in detail: Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be. We don’t need fusion, modern fission reactors work just fine.

I thought about leaving a comment with that atomic scientists link on his blog, but previous comments have been unfruitful. In the sense that Dr Novella doubles down on his position. And since he’s more learned and smarter than me, it goes badly. That’s the biggest problem with being smart, it’s easy to use those brains to reinforce one’s own world view. No matter how factually and logically flawed such a world view is. Granted in the good doctor’s case I think he’s usually right on the money, I just think he glosses over a number of the issues nuclear fusion has.

It’s gotten harder to blog since I started nearly two decades ago. I’ve always tried to write so that there was little ideological bent and people of all philosophies could comment. And that used to happen commonly. Now opposing philosophies have become so far apart on matters of simple fact that almost everyone is sure to be triggered by something they don’t believe. Sigh. Gotta keep trying, even if just for my own edification. And my loyal readers, there are a few and they are appreciated.

So today’s summary.  MSG is a safe seasoning to use and consume. Fusion power is a dangerous pipe dream at the moment. Always rethink your own position when challenged by logical argument. Change my mind.

PS. The House just voted to impeach Trump, sending him to a trial in the Senate. There he will be acquitted, since the Senate is controlled by the GOP. And then both parties head into this election hoping this shitshow supercharges their base. In other words, no matter what happens, the American people lose.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Edwardian cat with friend. It was the picture I used for my Christmas dinner invite and I liked it, so I’m sharing.  Credit: Unknown, as it’s a 19th century photograph it’s public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

CORRECTIONS

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tornado

OK, the Democrats have opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s purported action in Ukraine. Big news, sort of. I doubt I can get a whole post out of it, so just a few quick thoughts. Keep in mind that I am deeply committed to my cynicism about the circus that is now the American political system. So my first thought was, what is this supposed to distract us from? Then of course I realised, the usual. That our laws and regulations are written at the behest of big money, and both parties are in on the farce. The farce being that the government is supposed to rule for the best for everyone, not just the people at the top. They still pretend to do so, and people keep voting for them, so their act is working.

Anyhow, back to Trump’s impeachment. The purported case is that while talking to the president of Ukraine, Trump threatened to cut off some US aid to Ukraine unless they launched some sort of criminal investigation into Joe Biden’s son’s business in Ukraine. Trump and his supporters deny it, and make counter claims about Biden when he was vice president. If the allegations against Trump are true, yeah, probably violates all sorts of laws, and could easily fall under the rubric of treason. Who knows, I’ll wait and see what sort of evidence comes to light. Not that evidence means anything these post fact days. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming …

Normally when one sees a post titled “Corrections” one would be safe to assume the author is correcting mistakes made in previous posts. Those would be other authors, since the only time I was ever wrong was once I thought I was wrong, but it turned out later I was right. (And did my august father realize that every dad joke he told me as a kid would be remembered and recycled by me forever?) No, we are talking about corrections to reality. Came across several cases recently where scientists said “Oops, we got that one wrong.” That’s the beauty of science, unlike ideology, it evolves and gets more accurate.

Firstly, turns out we may have free will after all. I never had any doubt, but philosophical issues aside, some years back a famous experiment seemed to show that our brain waves change before we make a conscious choice. Thus indicating that we actually weren’t making conscious choices. This experiment got great street cred so to speak, and it is not unusual to hear people say “science has proved there is no such thing as free will.” Referring to this experiment, even if that was all they knew. A recent paper was published that made a good claim that the original experiment was flawed, and it proved nothing of the kind about free will. I don’t see any point in going into details I would have to research to even get started, so read about it here if one wants the nitty gritty.

In the “well, this is embarrassing” file, turns out the “sonic attacks” on the US embassy in Cuba were, drum roll, mosquito spray. Sigh. One could write a book about the times America has invented or wildly exaggerated the threats it’s faced. Reminds me of the commie “nerve gas attacks” in Cambodia that turned out to be bee poop. The paranoid empire. Keeps people scared of course, and were long past having a mainstream media where obvious questions like “What possible reason could Cuba have for doing this? They want better relations with the US, not worse.” We’ll see, the sonic weapons thing never made any sense, but in the manufactured Cold War narrative that infects Washington, the world is filled with people plotting evil against us. And if we can just embargo and bomb them enough, they’ll stop! I claim T-shirt rights on that one.

OK, enough of that. Some good news! An extinct cat may not be extinct after all. There appear to be credible sightings of the Formosan Clouded Leopard. Woohoo! Read about it here. That would be great. Note I said would. I try to be precise with language. I suspect it won’t pan out. A really heavy duty trap cam program failed to find a single one. So my guess it is indeed extinct until we get pics or other evidence. Witnesses just aren’t reliable, period.

Here in Iowa, tornado watch. Keep my shoes on, window open to hear the town alarm. We have a basement. Tornado country, different than earthquake country. There you made what preparations you could, and there were quite a few, but there were never scientific warnings as such about impending earthquakes. Here, there’s bad weather or a tornado watch, one keeps an eye peeled. Next blog, more bad news!

So wait, if I just recorded my blog, it would be a podcast?

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tornado. Credit: Snappygoat.)

Written by unitedcats

September 25, 2019 at 4:03 am

Posted in Impeachment, Iowa, Science, Trump