Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Mars’ Category

MYSTERY PHOTO, THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN 2021, PERFORMATIVE PROGRESSIVISM, MASKS WORK, MARS PHOTOS, AND NONCONTRAFREELOADING CATS

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Yes, covering a lot of bases in this post. Leading off with a mystery photo, what the hell is going on here? I’ll leave for the gentle reader to ponder, answer at the end of the post. What a week it’s been. The situation in Afghanistan is ugly, no doubt about it. Not sure I can add anything new, so enough of that for now. As is so often my format, a few interesting links I’ve stumbled onto, and my observations about them.

Well, OK, maybe something peripheral about Afghanistan, this link: As Joe Biden walks America away from the world stage Europe is left exposed. I offer this article because it is a great example of the colonial bias that infects the mainstream media. The implicit idea that somehow running the world is America and its allies’ business. The modern version of “The White Man’s Burden.” Truth be told it would be harder to find a part of the world with as little strategic importance to the west as Afghanistan, America’s withdrawal from it is about as strategically unimportant as it gets. The only real mystery is why the USA under the aegis of Nato stayed there as long as they did, the weird pronouncements in the article about how Europe was somehow affected by America’s withdrawal notwithstanding.

In American politics: California recall looks like a disaster — and the state’s top Democrats paved the way. Yes, the GOP might well win the recall election they instigated in California. Why, isn’t California a mostly Democratic progressive state? Yes, yes it is. However, the government of California, like the Biden administration, isn’t really progressive, all they have is performative progressivism. IE they talk the talk, but when it comes to getting progressive policies established, they sell out to their corporate masters every time. Great way to inspire Democratic voters to stay home.

Granted, the GOP is into performative Christianity and performative conservatism in the same fashion, but they have been vastly better at stoking the outrage that drives Republican voters to vote. (I mean they kind of have too, they don’t actually stand for anything anymore, so fearmongering and stoking outrage is all the GOP has.) And science is really starting to get a handle on how social media amplifies outrage without even trying: Social Media Outrage | NeuroLogica Blog. So no surprise here. Trump is in fact particularly good at stoking outrage, in social media and off. I mean he stoked outrage to the point where he got a mob to storm the Capitol, gotta give the man his props, when it comes to fear mongering Trump is in a league of his own. Well, maybe shared with another world leader who was a master at stoking outrage, but he left the world stage some 76 years ago.

In Covid news just another reminder that despite all the flaming BS in some quarters, masks do indeed work. As the good doctor puts it: “It is nothing less than shameful that we are still bogged down in the basic question of whether or not wearing a mask during a deadly and increasingly infectious pandemic is effective. The science is in – masks work.” Here is the article: Masks Work | NeuroLogica Blog. The doctor is far more diplomatic than me. There’s governors and legislatures and such actually outlawing mask mandates, because freedumb? Covid has really fucked up public discourse: Seven Cognitive Distortions Poisoning COVID Debates

— Our society is more and more incapable of debating real issues.

Sigh, OK, a few science links to cleanse the palate. The next link is primarily of interest to science nerds and especially Mars nerds, it’s still amazing to me that when I was a kid all we knew about Mars was a few fuzzy telescope pictures, and now we have robots galore exploring it: See some of the most intriguing photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover so far. And cats, breakthroughs in cat science are always exciting. Turns out cats are the only known animal so far that doesn’t exhibit contrafreeloading.

Wait, what’s contrafreeloading? Well, say an animal is given a choice between freely available food, and food they have to do something to get. This was first tried on rats, a colony of rats had a choice between a bowl of food, or identical food they had to push a lever to get. Most of the time the rats went for the food where they had to push a lever to get. And follow up studies found this in every animal they tested, the animals had a preference for food that they had to do something to obtain. Wild animals, domestic animals, they all exhibited this behaviour, which was labeled contrafreeloading. And frankly, scientists still don’t know why animals have this preference, it seems counterintuitive, why not go for the easy food?

And to make the situation even more confusing, exactly one animal doesn’t exhibit this behavior, our beloved moggies: Cute Experiment Reveals How Your Cat Probably Wants Its Meals Served. Obviously since science can’t explain contrafeeloading, they are pretty much at a loss to explain why cats don’t exhibit this behavior. They’re pretty sure it’s not because cats are simply lazy, though one can be forgiven for thinking that. My theory is they’re just smarter than other animals, but I think that of cats no matter what. Cat science marches on.

So, the mystery pic. A man holding a bird outside a tank, yes, that’s a World War One tank. Fast food delivery? Peace offering? Some demented tanker’s idea of a joke? Nope, that’s a carrier pigeon. The interior of the first tanks were so noisy that the crew inside had to communicate using hand signals with each other. And since it was so noisy, radios couldn’t be used to communicate with the outside world. Yet the tank still needed to be able to communicate with HQ. The solution? Each tank carried two carrier pigeons, and there was indeed a special hatch for releasing them. Carrier pigeons were widely used in World War One, and interestingly enough, one such message was discovered recently in France.

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay safe and cool. Looks like the hurricane is going to miss New York, maybe I’ll publish a bonus post this weekend.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One tank and carrier pigeon. Credit: Unknown, but Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

UFOS ARE THE ANGELS OF OUR TIMES

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UFOs have been in the news. This is just one version of recent events: Leaked video appears to show UFO plunging under water off California. The basic story is very simple, some military authorities say there’s something going on in these videos where humans can’t be doing. Tacit admission, shall we say, that UFOs may well be alien in origin. Sigh. For this to be true, IE alien UFOs, probes or what not are flying around in Earth’s atmosphere, requires layers of special pleading. IE all sorts of logical problems with the premise need to be explained away. Not a promising start in other words.

So let’s dive into this. OK, say military authorities decided that Sasquatch was real? Or Nessie? Or Leprechauns? Or Santa Claus? Would that make the idea that any of those was real more likely? No. Military authorities historically are often wrong, and often lie. The idea that the military is taking UFOs seriously, if that’s even what’s happening, is simply an argument from authority. It goes downhill from here. Here’s another layer of special pleading. There is zero evidence of alien intelligence in the Universe. SETI has tried all sorts of promising approaches, and found nothing. And there’s zero evidence on Earth of alien probes, no crashed ones have ever been found, no one has ever taken a good picture of one. Nada.

But, but, the military has all sorts of special sensors and stuff! These are infrared motion pictures for example, how  many of those are around? Well, quite a few I am sure. I digress. Any student of the history of military sensing technology knows it’s a long history of false alarms and mistaken identifications. There’s all sorts of ways birds, bugs, and all sorts of other stuff has been mistaken for something other than what it is. The flying rods nonsense is an example of people not understanding what new technology was recording. It’s not that hard to find experts pointing out there’s nothing unexplainable in these infrared videos. I mean, this story has been popping up repeatedly for years.

That doesn’t sell though. In the Internet Age, especially, for every site trying to promote sober analysis (like this one I hope,) there are dozens preaching to the choir. UFOs sell, and have for decades. Humans want to believe. The same way they want to believe in angels. Many still do believe in angels. It’s a comforting belief. And people believe that UFOs are real for the same comforting reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice if intelligence such as ours could not only exist far beyond our level, it could actually be benign toward us? Or least indifferent. The people who believe in Ancient Aliens certainly demonstrate the former.

Myself, I think the evidence indicates that aliens do exist, but in a far darker form than people imagine. A topic for another post. In other news, what a mess Washington is now, sheesh: The congressman from Hell is a symptom of our rotten political system. Good but depressing read. In personal news I socialized for the first time in a year yesterday. The cat got all the shrimp, the guests carried away the leftovers, and what they didn’t take my housemate ate in the morning. I’ve been missing this? Joking aside, good times. Hope all are having a good week. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sunset on Mars. Credit: NASA. NASA pics are public domain so long as not used to imply endorsement. NASA does not endorse Doug’s Darkworld.)

Written by unitedcats

May 18, 2021 at 7:34 pm

STRANGE GREEN ROCK FOUND ON MARS, OTHER SCIENCE NEWS, AND #DEARMOONCREW

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NASA scientists have found a six inch long green rock on Mars. (inset above.) As most of the rocks on Mars are, well, rather drab dusty red colored (above,) this is definitely unusual. Tests are underway to figure out what it is. Since Mars had all sorts of water once, there are any number of possible minerals formed in hot springs and such. A meteor origin is possible too, a number of meteorites have been spotted on Mars. That’s because Mars gets more meteors, more of them make it to the surface because of the thin atmosphere, and then they just sit there waiting to be found because erosion and such is a slow process on Mars. This made me wonder if “shooting stars” can be seen on Mars, I checked, and I’m happy to inform the gentle reader that Mars certainly has enough atmosphere to burn up incoming meteors and make shooting star displays visible from the surface of the planet.

While researching this particular rock I found out that the Chinese Yutu-2 Moon rover also discovered mysterious “gel like” green rocks on the Moon about a year ago. That mystery was solved though, the rocks were glass. IE rocks probably melted in a meteorite impact. Or maybe melted when they were testing Jewish space lasers. Sigh. Yes, Marjorie Taylor Green, the GOP’s “hold my beer” response to “Well, at least the GOP can’t elect anyone stupider than Sarah Palin;” actually blamed California wildfires on “space lasers.” Well, there’s one advantage to giving up science and reason, you can imagine whatever you want!

Sorry, slipped into politics for a moment there. Speaking of odd rocks found in far away places, I recall from my childhood that astronauts on the Moon announced they had found “green crystals” on the lunar surface. Turned out later they were joking. I was unable to confirm this on the Interweb though, so as it’s a fifty year old memory, I can’t vouch for it being accurate. Apollo 17 astronauts did indeed find unexpected orange soil on the Moon. Turns out it was volcanic in origin, created by an ancient fire fountain back when the Moon had active volcanoes. Interestingly enough scientists still can’t explain the origin of some of the unusual elements found in the soil samples after they were returned to Earth. That’s one of the wonders of science, if anything the things it can’t yet explain gets larger with every new discovery. No shortage of things for budding scientists to cut their teeth on.

Speaking of the Moon, I did apply for the #dearMoonCrew. This is a project to send eight passengers on board a spacecraft that will circle past the Moon in a few years. It was launched by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. I signed up mainly as a lark and for a bit of fun blog fodder. I waited until the last moment to actually fill out and send in my application. It was then I discovered I had made a horrible mistake. This is not a publicity stunt or such, the goal of the mission is actually incredibly cool.

Mr Maezawa is recruiting artists of all stripes (if one calls oneself an artist he’s good with it, and I sure as sheet think writing and blogging is an art,) who want to go to the Moon for inspiration, to inspire others, and to express themselves artistically. I mean, how cool is that? I could be the first blogger to circle the Moon! One better believe that would be the blogging opportunity of a lifetime. The mistake I made was not looking into it further, so my application was filled out at the last minute and wasn’t nearly as inspired and well written as it could have been. Oh well, missing opportunities is a long honored family tradition.

Still, I do want to go. They sent John Glenn up at 77 years old, so it’s not completely out of the picture. And I’ve been tagging #dearMoonCrew all over the place hoping my application at least gets passing attention. So gentle readers, if any of you are friends with Elon Musk (he’s supplying the spaceship) or the inestimable Mr Maezawa, please put in a good word for me!

Stay safe everyone, hope all are having a good week. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(NASA images the perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. NASA images are public domain so long as they aren’t used to indicate NASA endorses a product or service. No, NASA doesn’t endorse Doug’s Darkworld, although it would be cool if they did.)

Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2021 at 4:19 pm