Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Iowa’ Category

A WORLD WITHOUT SMILES

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So today we start with something evil that doesn’t involve Trump or Rush Limbaugh: Auto Industry TV Ads Claim Right to Repair Benefits ‘Sexual Predators’ This is sick and evil on several levels. Basically a “right to repair” initiative is on the ballot in Massachusetts. The right to repair being the radical idea that if you buy something, it’s yours, and you can have anyone fix it. One would think this wouldn’t even be needed, would it? Welcome to modern America where big corporations are working hard to turn America into one giant company town. In essence when big corporations sell something like a car, tractor, or electronic device a lot of them recently are specifying that the item in question can only be modified or repaired at a corporate authorized dealer. Basically trying to drive independent shops out of business. It’s a horrible unfair way to use their power to destroy competition.

And since they don’t have any rational arguments to support their attempt to destroy the free market and make their customers economic serfs, they are claiming “right to repair” laws will lead to women getting raped. That’s right, if you take your car to an independent garage, your wife or daughter might get raped! Sick and wrong on multiple levels. I’ll let the discerning reader parse them for themselves. 

So Rush, yeah, phew, back to him: Rush Limbaugh downplaying hurricane Irma may have decreased evacuations. Yeah folks, get your science based stuff from scientists, not radio entertainers. Science, unlike any known ideology or religion, has a pretty good track record at understanding reality. People claim science is “making stuff up!” That’s called projection. It’s religion and ideology that make stuff up. Doesn’t mean science can’t be minused, just means science in general isn’t putting the cart before the horse. 

Ran seven errands on an outing today. Pretty universal mask coverage. Red state, red town, but … and pretty big but … the Mason micropolitan area is a college town, tourist region, and high class retirement area. A lot of educated folks who might vote for Trump, but are gonna mask up in public cause their neighbors are. Can’t smile at people though. If this continues, guessing new ways of communicating smiles will evolve. And masking has its plus sides. One can mouth “F**k You!” at deserving folks without fear. Better yet, I can smile at people all the time without being weird. That’s a win.

Well, a day without any new really bad developments. Win win. If everything calms down and the next few months underwhelm everyone, woohoo! Wouldn’t that be nice? Stay safe people. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

PS. Well, then Hurricane Sally. Some places got eighteen inches of rain, and it’s not over yet. I’ve seen an “inch an hour” rain for a few hours twice in my life, the results were local catastrophes. So freaking weird to live in a time where events that would have dominated the news for weeks during my prior life are now but brief interludes in the saga 2020 is. 

PPS: My town has been invaded by foxes.Seven deaths so far. 

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Facebook meme of unknown origin, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It made me laugh.)

Written by unitedcats

September 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

MASS LEARNED HELPLESSNESS?

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Another day, I can’t keep up with the weirdness. Trump did in fact suggest being added to Mount Rushmore. What can I say, he’s a legend in his own mind. And that of his followers, though what Trump has accomplished to be deserving of such an honor  is a mystery to me. I got nothing, he sailed on the coattails of the booming economy (such as it was) Obama left him, made the rich richer, added staggering amounts to the deficit, abrogated international treaties, and appointed lobbyists to power in great numbers. And broke all his promises to help Americans. This deserves a place on Mount Rushmore?  Oh well, Trump’s self image is like his priorities … interesting.

It’s more incomprehensible to me every day that America’s ruling class and many Americans have decided that Covid-19 will just go away if we all pretend it isn’t happening. Is that the plan? 1500 dying a day and the plan is to DO NOTHING? Today’s theory is that Americans suffer from mass learned helplessness. That’s where an organism has been so beaten down by bad events and helplessness in the face of them that they just give up. Granted that’s simplistic, but I’m just trying to understand why Covid-19 is wreaking historic carnage, and Americans aren’t demanding action be taken?

So this guy has an interesting take on how America got lost: Why Didn’t America Become Part of the Modern World? And by that I mean the yawning gap between America and the rest of the developed world. They enjoy vastly better working conditions, public education, universal health care, public transportation and pretty much everything else than Americans. It’s like they are wealthy modern nations, and everyone gets a fair share, what a concept? Not in America. I agree we have a huge problem, by all metrics we do, but I think his conclusion is simplistic. I think there’s a raft of factors that led the US down this dark path. Maybe a future blog.

I did come across a fellow defending America by claiming we have more freedom than all those socialist European countries! I’m going to be rude here. That’s fucking idiotic. People in Europe, Canada, Japan etc … IE the rest of the developed world  … enjoy the exact same freedoms Americans enjoy. They can travel freely, say what they want, join whatever religion they want, live their lives as they please. Freedom the likes of which the vast majority of humans never enjoyed. Yeah, they can’t run out and buy an AR-15. If your sense of freedom requires you to have a gun in your hands, grow the fuck up. The rest of the developed world has.

So part of Iowa got flattened. A derecho hit it. A what? A new one to me, basically a series of thunderstorms can create a windstorm the equivalent of a class two hurricane. 100 mph winds. Only 4 dead so far, but massive property damage. Missed us here, but 75 miles south, oh my. Nowhere on Earth is safe from natural disasters, a reminder to stay frosty.

I’m thinking maybe as people’s friends, family, and loved ones start to sicken and die from Covid-19, Americans will snap out of their shit. I’m losing people, but I knew Covid-19 was serious in March. That’s when I went to ground. I hope I’m not living in a failed state, but not reassured by what I see.

Oh well. Maybe Trump’s secret plan will fix it all. He does have a secret plan, right? Stay sane everyone, have a safe weekend. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A meme found on Facebook. Yeah, no matter how bad the American government fails, the architects of the failure are never held to account. Go figure. Credit: It’s in the meme. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 14, 2020 at 7:48 pm

WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by unitedcats

March 18, 2020 at 1:38 pm

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