Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category

DEBATE IS A LOST ART, DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, AND MASS SHOOTER MADNESS

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Debate? A dying art at least. I’ve more or less pulled out of Facebook. Partly because of an embarrassing romantic disaster. When it comes to those, I’m a Viking. It’s a gift apparently. They aren’t even interesting to write about. Self deprecation I can enjoy, but when it comes to dating fiascos, about as much fun to write about as to endure.

Moving right along, I realized there just isn’t debate anymore on Facebook. One can agree with what people post, and beyond that it’s a waste of time. As I predate the internet I think I can safely say there’s been a subtle (OK, not that subtle) change in people over the past few decades. Most of them have become utterly sure of themselves. And it’s all over the map. Try to debate with an anti-Vaxxer? No point. Or someone who hates GMOs and glyphosate? The same. Or just about anything, people can’t even accept the idea that they might be mistaken in whatever it is they know.

It used to be that this kind of certainty was limited to know-it-alls and evangelicals. Now it seems that “Evidence, schmevidence, I know I’m right” is infecting all sorts of people and infiltrating the mainstream. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s latest conspiracy theory sort of ties it all up. She’s convinced all sorts of Democrats will be arrested and the GOP will get control of both houses of Congress before the 2022 elections even. I’d say it’s bonkers as well, but tens of millions of people believe QAnon’s ever changing predictions. She’s not alone. What’s going to happen when everyone in America just makes up their reality as they go along?

Who knows, but there will be lots to blog about I suppose. Moving right along, I got my clocks all changed finally. Yes, the biannual blood sacrifice to time zones. Why do we change our clocks twice a year? It’s like the old joke: Q: “How many men does it take to put a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser?” A: “No one knows.” Basically only golf courses really benefit from daylight saving time. And I mean blood sacrifice literally. After the time change there’s an uptick in strokes, heart attacks, car accidents, and workplace accidents. People die. If that’s not a good reason to scrap the whole thing, I don’t know what is. The golf courses will survive.

I guess illogical stuff is the theme for the day. So how about the guy who shot eight people to death because of his “sex addiction?” Worst mass shooting in two years. Woohoo! No worries though, the US is still the developed world’s mass shooter winner. Hell, everything shooter winner. So yeah, white guy goes nuts and shoots a bunch of Asian women working in spas. He apparently thought they were prostitutes tempting men? He’d been to an Evangelical “Clinic” to be treated for “sex addiction.” In other words he was a guy confused about his sexuality, and he went to religious quacks for “treatment.” Didn’t end well. Oh, yeah, the sheriff said “He was having a bad day.” Yeah, pretty sure his day was nowhere near as bad as the friends and loved ones of the people he killed. America, where punching down is manly. Got Trump elected, and re-elected if one buys the “Stop the Steal” nonsense. Snort.

I have applied to be the first blogger to circle the Moon. Fingers crossed. Tomorrow’s post. Stay safe gentle reader. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found online. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. The link in the meme is a dead link, so attribution unknown.)

Written by unitedcats

March 20, 2021 at 7:45 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

HISTORY QUIZ!

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As per a commenter’s suggestion, a history quiz. No particular topic but since my main interest is military history, that will be the lion’s share of the questions. Ten questions, some trivia, some obscure, most because I thought they were interesting in some ways. (Basically this is just an excuse for me to tell stories about history. People do the most amazing sheet.) Pencil and paper required if one wants to be serious I suppose. Answers at bottom.Good luck, enjoy!

  1. How many times was Greenland colonised? Including successful and unsuccessful attempts. By human beings, just to be clear. The 47 failed penguin colonies don’t count.
  2. What exotic animal did Roman Emperor Commodus publicly slay in the colosseum to demonstrate his godhood? (No, I’m not making these up, people do weird sheet.)
  3. Who was Gil-Galad’s standard bearer at the siege of Barad Dur?
  4. How many tanks did Germany build in World War One? (World War One, not World War Two, where they built thousands.)
  5. What was the only daylight surface battle between battleships in World War Two?
  6. Everyone (well, primarily Americans I expect) knows about the first battle between ironclad warships, the Monitor vs the Merrimac during the American Civil War. What was the only battle ever fought between two fleets of ironclad warships? (Hint, no, it wasn’t during the American Civil War.)
  7. What weapon did a fully armored knight typically carry into battle during the late Middle Ages?
  8. When the British attacked the City of Buenos Aires during the 2nd Battle of Buenos Aires, how many directions did they attack from?
  9. What was the greatest defeat of an American army by native warriors during America’s conquest of the western Americas?
  10. When was the only time an entire American army surrendered to an enemy army?

ANSWERS:

  1. Greenland was colonized at least five times, only twice successfully. Pretty good for a remote barely inhabitable island. There were at least two failed North American native colonizations before the Vikings arrived in 980. The Viking settlement failed due to being cut off from Europe by the Little Ice Age. While the Vikings were there, the Inuit settled in Northern Greenland, the first successful colonization of Greenland. The Viking colony died out, but they returned some centuries later in the second successful colonization of Greenland.
  2. Emperor Commodus went nuts in his later years, deciding he was Hercules reborn, naming Rome after himself and other nonsense. He “fought” many gladiators in the Colosseum, though none actually fought him, they were all wise enough to know that submitting right away was their only chance of living to sundown. And Commodus was still sane enough to know that killing men who submitted to him in public wasn’t wise. (He had no such qualms about killing men in gladiator practice. Gladiators were slaves by the way.) This was all considered outrageous by the Romans, as if the US President decided to take up WWE wrestling. The animal he killed to prove his godhood? A giraffe. While very few Romans had ever seen a giraffe, they could tell it was just a helpless terrified exotic animal, the killing impressed no one. Though it further cemented opinion that the Emperor was losing it.
  3. Elrond! What, fantasy history is history, right? (Recounted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien.)
  4. Germany ordered only a 100 A7V tanks (see image)  during the course of World War One. The Allies built thousands. And only 15-20 of the German tanks were completed in time to see action. They didn’t change the course of the war of course, but they did get to be part of the world’s first tank battle.
  5. The Battle of the Denmark Strait. Two British battleships vs the Nazi battleship Bismark and cruiser Prinz Eugen. This is the one where the Bismark sunk the Hood with one shot, the flagship of the British fleet. One of the flashes in this film (taken from the Prinz Eugen during the battle blew up the Hood killing 1500 Brits. Three Brits survived.
  6. The Battle of Lissa, 1866, between Italy and Austria. A brilliantly led Austrian fleet defeated a much larger but incompetently led Italian fleet. IThe battle basically accomplished nothing except humiliating the Italians: The Italian fleet got home, its admiral declared he’d won a great victory even though two of Italy’s finest warships had gone down, and he was the toast of the town. He probably got laid, but that’s just historical conjecture. By the next day word got to Italy that no Austrian ships had been sunk, and the admiral’s partying days limply ended.
  7. A sword! No, of course not, what good would a sword do against a guy wearing steel armor? A hammer of some sort was their primary weapon, designed specifically to damage armor. The sword though was already steeped in mythology, and certainly was still widely in use, just not against guys wearing armor.
  8. 12. That’s right, they attacked a hostile city from twelve different directions. In 1808. This was part of one of Britain’s tragicomedy attempts to conquer Spanish colonies in South America. Britain made a number of attempts to seize the supposedly weak colonies from Spain’s decaying and definitely weak empire, all ended badly. In this case the British commander apparently thought the tiny number of Spanish troops in the city would be quickly located and defeated. And if the residents of the city had stood meekly by and watched, great plan. No, the residents, including quite a few actual militias (no bison horns, Chewbacca robes, or silly flags) didn’t particularly want to be part of the Spanish Empire (Argentina would be independent within a decade;) but the definitely didn’t want to be conquered and ruled by Britain. It ended badly for Britain, thousands dead all told and a humiliating surrender.
  9. No, it wasn’t Little Big Horn, that was just the most famous native defeat of American forces. It was in 1791, The Battle of the Thousand Slain, or as the less imaginative Americans called it, The Battle of the Wabash. Basically a poorly planned, poorly equipped, poorly supplied, poorly manned, and most especially poorly led American army marched into what was then the wilderness of Ohio to teach the natives a lesson for defeating an American army the previous year! Even the not particularly astute reader can guess how this turned out. 24 Americans out of about 1,000 made it back safely.
  10. The Siege of Detroit, during the War of 1812, America’s misbegotten attempt to make Canada the “14th colony” of the United States. Basically a brilliant British general psyched out the American commander, and tricked him into surrendering to a much smaller British/native army.

That’s that, some of this was from memory, if I made any egregious mistakes please excoriate me in a comment. I write history posts provoke thought and curiosity, not to recount history for academic purposes.  Don’t worry, more Trump antics soon enough. What a time to be alive. Future blog suggestions welcome. I hope everyone had a safe and warm weekend. I’m ready for spring. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Captured world War One German tank “Mephisto.” Australians captured it, hauled it back to Australia, where it’s in a war museum and is indeed the only German World War One tank still in existence. Photo taken in 1918 and is Public Domain under applicable copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 24, 2021 at 8:10 pm

TREPPENWITZ, AND TRUMP’S WHITE HOUSE DIET COKE BUTTON

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Ah, treppenwitz. Or esprit de l’escalier, the wit of the stairway. When someone claimed that having tens of thousands of troops in Washington for the inauguration was like being in a third world country, I should have replied: “Like one of those countries where the president incites a mob to attack the capitol to overturn a free and fair election?” The same person would have been apoplectic if the mob had been a BLM/Antifa mob.  Of course they don’t think it was a fair election, because how could their anointed by God leader possibly lose an election? Especially if he insisted he’d been cheated? I and many others have said it before, Trump supporters are now living in an alternate reality. Here is a great example: Sen. Graham calls out Biden administration’s claims that ‘everything is in shambles’. No Mr Graham, this isn’t the Obama playbook, Trump wasn’t a particularly good president, and after the election he basically ignored the exploding pandemic and everything else to concentrate on his fantasy quest to overturn the election. And his administration’s essential refusal to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration was historically unprecedented in modern times.

To back my point up, here are three of Trump’s most unqualified and corrupt appointments, all fired by Biden on his first day in office. The information comes from Slate.com, but since it’s paywalled, I’m rephrasing it here:

Michael Pack. He was appointed in June to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The Voice of America international broadcaster. He tried to transform it into a propaganda outlet for Trump, despite a  mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of the VOA and sister networks, replacing them with Trump loyalists, insisted on pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished reporters who didn’t toe the pro-Trump line. He also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists. After whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Office of Special Counselfound it very likely that Pack had broken federal law. After being fired by Biden, he whined that his termination “was a partisan act,” talk about self-owning irony.

Kathleen Kraninger, confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. She had no previous experience in consumer protection. She scrapped a rule that restricted predatory payday lending, insisting that her staff downplay the harm to consumers. She refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel from predatory payday lending, basically allowing them to be defrauded by said lenders. She also approved a rule allowing debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails. Charming, appointed to protect consumers, instead she protected predatory lenders.

Lastly, Peter Robb. Confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB’s mandate is  to enforce federal laws that protect workers’ right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. Mr Robb is brutally anti-union. He tried to limit employees’ free speech, gave employers more ability to practice wage theft, crippled unions’ ability to collect dues, and helped prevent employees from organizing unions. He also tried to seize total control of the agency by demoting regional directors and consolidating power in his office, giving him unheard of power to bust unions and prevent new ones from forming. Biden fired his sorry a** after he refused to resign.

I’d link to the original Slate article, but I’m going to try to avoid linking to all unreasonably paywalled articles, what’s the point? I doubt very many of my readers subscribe to Slate. By the same token I unsubscribed to the New York Times today. I love many of their guest editorials, but I can’t share them with my friends and readers, so what’s the point? And boy, they made me jump through hoops to unsubscribe, further increasing my antipathy towards them. I swear, a lot of modern marketing seems to have avoided, I dunno, actually asking real people what they thought?

In any event, these and so many other examples show Trump not only broke his promise to drain the swamp, he was possibly the worst president ever for appointing industry lobbyists and Trump loyalists to posts where they were supposed to regulate said industries in a non-partisan way. Sigh. Hey, Trump University, a scam to cheat poor people out of their life savings shows what Trump really thought about poor and working class Americans.

So far Biden is at least paying lip service to the idea he is serving all Americans. He cancelled the Keystone Pipeline, which was interesting. Basically the pipeline only benefited the rich, had very serious ecological concerns, defiled sacred native land, and would have only provided a trivial number of jobs. IDK, this certainly seems to indicate that Biden won’t completely be a slave to the oil lobby. He also is going to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, which despite its flaws, at least acknowledges that human caused global warming is real. Which it is, the scientific debate ended decades ago; there are certainly questions about how best to deal with global warming, but pretending it’s all a hoax and continuing to pump CO2 and methane into the atmosphere to protect fossil fuel profiteering isn’t one of them.

Predictably, Fox News and the rest are already screaming in outrage about Biden. Apparently condemning white supremacy is an insult to Trump voters: Fox News upset over Biden’s denouncement of white supremacy – because it might offend Trump voters. Frankly, anyone who is upset about Biden denouncing white supremacy can go jump in a lake. Or jump in a time machine and go live in Hitler’s Germany. Hell, a QAnon congresswoman is already filing articles of impeachment against Biden. Yeah, gonna be a fun four years.

Lastly, I just found out that Trump had a button on his oval office desk that when he pushed, a butler would bring him a Diet Coke. Really. To me, that’s kind of grotesque, especially on the taxpayer’s dime. I can’t imagine even having a butler, just have a freaking mini fridge in your office if you need Diet Coke available 24/7. I would have made a very poor lord I guess. The button is gone now, Biden had it removed.

Have a safe and warm weekend everyone. The above meme references the explosion of Bernie in mittens memes after the inauguration. All good fun, though I’m sure Trump supporters, wed to the idea that Sanders is Mao reborn, are horrified. Think of the Children! Or some such, idk. Trump has zero sense of humor, and apparently his followers don’t either. I’ll keep blogging as long as I can. Comments, suggestions, shares, and especially patrons appreciated. I’ll never paywall my blog, but donors are incredibly appreciated. Thanks in advance, thanks for reading in any case. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2021 at 9:00 pm

WAS LINCOLN A MONSTER? THE DAKOTA WAR AND AMERICA’S LARGEST MASS HANGING.

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Today a trip down history lane, Lincoln and the largest mass hanging in US history. On 26 December 1862 38 Indians were hung by the US Army in Mankato, Minnesota. I’ve seen a number of memes and discussions on Facebook about this event, and frankly I’m usually horrified by how it’s portrayed and discussed. Mostly discussion involves just what a farce their trials were, and they weren’t even up to the standards of the day; plus throwing in Lincoln as the bad guy in all of this. Lately I’ve seen a number of memes etc. to the effect that Lincoln was some sort of racist monster. I hate black and white depictions of complex historical events and people, they usually leave a lot out.

In any event, The Dakota War, the event that led to this mass execution. Minnesota was a frontier state at the time, it had only been a state for four years. Yes, natives were treated badly by America pretty much from the get go, privately genocide was the often path taken by whites. Cultural genocide was the national policy. There’d been a lot of conflict as settlers moved onto land basically just stolen from the people living there. Thus a lot of resentment on the natives part. And one day a native hunting party massacred a settler family, and that instigated a general uprising.

Numerous bands and tribes began to kill settlers in a bid to convince Americans to flee the region. Between 500 and 800 settlers were killed, often in truly heinous ways. Several small towns were completely destroyed, all their inhabitants killed or taken prisoner. Initially there was little resistance because this was the height of the Civil War and there were no federal troops in Minnesota at all. It should be pointed out that not all the native bands and tribes in the region participated, a number of chiefs refused to participate, one even ordered his warriors to protect the American settlers living nearby.

Within months though a combination of hastily organized militias and federal troops fought and won a number of battles with the Dakota,  put down the uprising, and imprisoned hundreds of natives. The army tried over 300 of them for war crimes and sentenced them all to hang, 303 death sentences to be exact. And for the most part, Americans were just fine with this. The governor of Minnesota even warned that if they weren’t all hung, private citizens would enact their own retribution on whatever natives they could. We are talking about hundreds of settler families murdered, many memorials to those killed remain today.

And this is where Lincoln’s involvement comes in. He was, shall we say, kinda busy during this time. The Civil War was raging. He worked from before dawn to just before bed most days, his wife said she was lucky if she got 15 minutes of his company before he fell asleep at night. So he didn’t need to get involved at all, he could have just let the army hang all 303 prisoners, and that would have been that. That wasn’t Lincoln though, he personally reviewed every federal death sentence handed down during the Civil War, and he made no exception here. He had the trial transcripts, such as they were, sent to Washington, and over a month reviewed them all. And he commuted the death sentences of all but 39 of them, later commuting one more when a general wired him that new information cast doubt on one indian’s guilt.

And by every accounting, Lincoln was horrified by the corrupt and unjust way natives were treated, saying “If we get through this war, and I live, this Indian system shall be reformed.” He also said something to the effect that “You can’t hang an Indian just because he joined an uprising at his chief’s command.” Lincoln grew up on the frontier, and knew in fact how badly natives were treated. During the Blackhawk war he prevented his own men from murdering a native that wandered into their camp. Maybe if the Civil war hadn’t intervened he could have started reforms and maybe the whole damn uprising never would have happened.

So yeah, a shameful chapter in American history. As is almost all of America’s history with the natives, and it’s still not exactly something to be proud of today. When Reagan visited the Soviet Union and pressed them on their human rights record, the Russian premier brought up America’s treatment of its natives. Reagan said “Why, we treat them fine. I’ll meet with Indians any day to discuss their concerns!” When he got back to Washington, a delegation of native leaders was literally waiting in front of the White House to meet with him. He refused.

All that being said, I don’t see how Lincoln comes off as the bad guy in this. It seems popular these days to portray Lincoln as a racist, but the cherry picked quotes I have seen don’t support that. Yes, he did regard whites as the “superior” race, that was kind of the scientific view at the time. However, and it’s a huge however, Lincoln thought that meant it was more important than ever to treat them with the exact same dignity and justice as anyone else. This was a man who his whole life was concerned with justice and fairness. He wasn’t popular among his fellow lawyers for example because he charged people what they could afford, and wouldn’t take on unjust cases.

And I’m no fan of Lincoln. As I have said before “Lincoln didn’t free the slaves, he enslaved the rest of us.” Lincoln was the one that laid the groundwork for the enormously expanded bloated monstrosity the federal government is today. Maybe if he had lived to finish his work, the country might be a better place today. In any event, even allowing the “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…’ I think that whatever the result, Lincoln was an honorable man trying to leave the world a better place than he found it. Something I would say of very few other presidents.

Tomorrow, more covid horror and Trump’s fantasy about winning the election gets ever weirder. Stay safe, warm, and sane everyone.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: “Attack on New Ulm” Oil on canvas, 1904, Anton Gag. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 2, 2021 at 6:41 pm

SPREAD THE PLAGUE FOR CHRIST!

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behavior

Well, we’re one big step further towards living in an Evangelical Christian Theocracy. The new SCOTUS struck down Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings. It’s claimed as a blow for religious freedom. It’s nothing of the kind. The Constitution protects one’s right to believe as one wants, the government can’t outlaw certain religions. It has nothing to do with people’s behaviour. One can’t act any way one wants, then claim it’s a religious practice. If that was the case sacrificing one’s neighbors to the Gods would be protected. And that’s pretty much what the SCOTUS just did, it said holding Covid-19 superspreader events in the midst of a pandemic was protected as a religious activity.

OK then. Many many people will die because of this ruling, it goes without saying. Sadly many of them won’t even be the people choosing to attend these “Spread the plague in the name of Christ!” events. People will get infected at these events and spread it among the community. All because an organized religion wants to control America. The Evangelicals are not shy about their desire to turn America into a “Christian Nation,” where their interpretation of the bible is the law of the land for all, Evangelical Christian or not. This isn’t religion, this is organized religion; organized religion has a history drenched in blood, and our nation’s founders very much wanted to prevent that here, a nation where government wasn’t in any way run by organized religion. They are spinning in their graves at SCOTUS rulings like this.

Speaking of spreading the plague, today is Thanksgiving in America! Wait, what does that have to do with plague? I’ll get there. I’ve had increasingly mixed feelings about Thanksgiving over the past few years. On the one hand, a fall gathering of loved ones to be thankful for the good fortunes of the summer, sure. People have been holding holidays like that forever. It’s the attachment to the Pilgrims that is problematic. The Pilgrims’ relationship with the natives was hardly as portrayed in the usual Thanksgiving narrative. Moreover the original Thanksgiving Holiday was explicitly celebrating a giant massacre of natives. Yikes. Only in the last century or so was the “feel good” version of Pilgrims and natives promulgated. Read about it all here.

So I’m not celebrating that. I am thankful for my good health, friends, and family. And skol to all celebrating with me in this regard. As for plague connections, two. First off, the arrival of Europeans unleashed terrible epidemics into the new world, tens of millions died, entire native nations were essentially wiped out. And while there is no evidence for Europeans deliberately spreading disease, nonetheless when one’s uninvited “guests” arrive with horrible contagious diseases, it’s nothing to celebrate.

And in contemporary America, where the Covid-19 pandemic is at its worst level ever, an American dying every 37 seconds now, over 2,000 a day … people getting together for Thanksgiving is going to just add gasoline to the fire. Way too many Americans still don’t understand how serious Covid-19 is, thanks to all the leaders and influencers spreading misinformation about it, so as I am typing this a nationwide superspreader event is underway. Jesus wept.

I’m still baffled daily about how we got here, a nation not divided by two ideologies, no, a nation where half of the nation has their own (imaginary) reality. Global warming is real, and caused by human activity. Covid-19 is real, and the worst new infectious disease to come along in a century, if not a millennia. And Donald Trump soundly lost the election. These aren’t debatablebateable, they are established facts. Yet Trump and his followers reject all three and insist their imagined reality is true, despite all evidence to the contrary. A mystery for the ages, here is an interesting take on it: The Rotting of the Republican Mind. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, but at its core, propaganda and advertising are sciences now, and daily more effective as a result.

Science, the thing mostly responsible for all the marvels of the modern world, is powering forces that may well destroy it. It’s one of the lines of argument that makes me wonder if ultimately intelligence such as ours is an evolutionary dead end. I always like ending on a bleak note. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

November 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm

NO THANKSGIVING TURKEY FOR ME, POST ELECTION CRAZINESS CONTINUES, AND THE IMPERIAL DISEASE

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Here I was looking forward to Thanksgiving, and then I read this: Op-Ed: Thanksgiving is a tradition. It’s also a lie. I find the logic pretty persuasive. I wouldn’t participate in a Confederate flag waving parade or hanging black people in effigy no matter how traditional they were. Sigh. Growing up never ends. One would hope at least.

Let’s see, after meeting with Trump the Michigan lawmakers decided to stick with the law. Michigan goes to Biden by a comfortable margin. Georgia just certified Biden. Trump’s thin chances of overturning the election results in his favor just went from slim to microscopic. Trump continues to insist he was cheated out of winning, and his administration continues to refuse to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration. Unprecedented in American history.

Trump is also making all sorts of last minute global maneuvers to either box Biden in, or leave him with problems. An understated little side play in the war, while America is consumed with Trump’s election denial antics and an exploding pandemic that is killing thousands a day now. One person out of every 1,000 in North Dakota has died of Covid-19 now. If this was happening on Obama’s watch, the outraged screams from Trump supporters would echo across the Universe. Instead, they’re upset that California’s governor flouted his own virus guidelines. I digress.

The war, the one war. Started in the mid eighth century BC when Rome conquered its neighboring town, Caenina. That’s when the war started, the one the US is still waging today. Wait, what? That’s my theory on when what I call “The Imperial Disease” started. There were plenty of wars before and after that, but based on variations of “Kill them and take their land.” The Imperial Disease is the idea that you march in and say “You’re all Romans now!” Rome conquered most of Europe and environs, broke apart, but its parts continued to express the disease, finally cooperating to conquer the entire world in the so-called “age of discovery.” Where they discovered there was a whole world waiting to be claimed in the name of Rome!

Jesus, Rome, same difference. One of the symptoms of the disease is that people so afflicted think it’s normal and proper for their armies to run other countries. That’s why the US has been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years with nary a domestic peep. Spending staggering sums of money, not insignificant amounts of American lives and blood, to prop up a quisling government that will evaporate when we leave. But, you know, freedom and democracy flow from our cruise missiles!

Sigh. One of Trump’s few good points was his questioning America’s enormously expensive overseas empire. Granted he pretty much didn’t do crap to downsize it, but maybe if he pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan now like he is threatening, we’ll learn something. We’ll learn that us pulling out of there was like pulling one’s hand from a bucket of water, the water stays right there unchanged. Gee, maybe we didn’t need to stick our hand in there in the first place?

Yeah, I’m reaching. I still think we’re screwed. See above image. In local news, I continue to recover from cancer surgery. And I got a new patron! Woohoo! Thanks! Stay safe everyone. Comments, suggestions, shares appreciated.#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous meme found on Facebook, used without permission, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 20, 2020 at 7:37 pm

BURIED TREASURE FOUND, AND THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN SHOW CONTINUES

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In local news, this is what I found while treasure hunting (metal detecting) yesterday. A US penny, 1853. About the size of a modern quarter, pure copper. 1853, whole different world. My state, Iowa, had only been formed seven years earlier, the county I live in only two years earlier. No planes or cars then of course, if one went anywhere, one walked or rode a horse. Though train and steamboat travel was getting popular. Photographs had been around for about a decade, so was the telegraph, the first long distance electronic communication system. The country had become a much smaller place, news could travel across the nation instantly, when previously it would take weeks. And plans were afloat to lay the first transAtlantic telegraph cable. The stirrings of the modern world were starting.

And America was in the death spiral leading to the Civil War seven years later. Since before 1820 there were slave states and free states, and by 1853 it was really starting to heat up. Especially in Kansas as free state and slave state vigilantes wreaked violence, around 200 people would die in “Bleeding Kansas,” as this prelude to the Civil War would be called. Here, Clear Lake Iowa was literally just being founded, the first settlers arriving two years before. So if my coin was dropped in 1853, it was dropped by one of the very first settlers. Though it’s also possible it was lost by a Winnebego Indian, Clear Lake was a popular summer home for them.

And here’s a positive local story about same. One of the very earliest settlers was some fellow who claimed he was a notorious Indian fighter. Well, one night some local Winnebagos had a little too much to drink, and a party of them set out to pay him a visit and see this guy for themselves. Well, word got to him before they arrived … and he fled with the clothes on his back, never to return. Be careful what one brags about I would say.

So it was a good way to end the treasure hunting season. Will inspire me to do more next year. Alas the US has no treasure trove laws, so I have to be careful to only search private property with an agreement with the landowner. Europe would be so much better, far more treasure to be found, and treasure trove laws mean if you find real treasure, the government will pay you a fair market price for it. Everyone wins, treasure hunters get the reward for their finds, priceless historical artifacts become public property for science and show. Here in the US, no treasure trove laws, so looting is the order of the day. Another aspect of “modern” America that doesn’t reflect us in a good light.

Like, say, the current election. Both sides are frantically slinging mud and hoping it sticks to the wall. Far more so than in any previous election I recall, I mean really, life was boring before 2020. I can’t keep up with them all. There was something about Hunter Biden’s emails, that Trump claimed was the political crime of the century. Is there a word for when one’s hyperbole has been hyperbolized? Then Trump claimed the media was deliberately ignoring the Hunter Biden story to make him look bad. No Mr Trump and Trump followers, they ignored it because the Hunter Biden story stank. And at this point appears to be a whole lot of nothing.

By the same token the FBI came out with some stuff about Russia, Iran, and the election, which has also been immediately blown out of anything resembling proportion. FBI director Ratcliffe said Russia and Iran had obtained US voter information, no hacking involved. And why would there be, it’s publicly available information for the most part? And apparently some Iranian servers have used this information to stir up trouble, but  Ratcliffe was again specific, the Russians haven’t done so. In other words, Russia obtained some public information about US voters … and this is being breathlessly touted as “Proof of Russian election interference!” and “Why is Trump not doing anything about it!” Give me a break.

And frankly the idea that some foreign power is causing dissent in the US now is like saying a guy running around in a hurricane with a squirtgun is a public menace. We’re doing just fine on our own with an out of control pandemic and an out of control POTUS. This was a good one: Trump’s campaign is laser-focused on appealing to Donald Trump. After 2016 no one wants to predict the election result, but Jesus, is Trump’s campaign run by squirrels wearing a human suit? There’s this, Tiffany Trump tried to hold an LGBTQ pride campaign event, it didn’t go well: Tiffany Trump burned over disastrous LGBTQ pride campaign event: ‘Beyond pathetic’. Or this mind numbing image:

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to point out that this says far more about whoever created, vetted, and approved this image than anything about Biden. And yes, it’s real. And once again with feeling, screw the people that mainstreamed name-calling as acceptable political discourse. It’s like living in a country run by preschoolers.

Tomorrow, the last Biden/Trump debate! My only prediction … it won’t turn out the way anyone predicted. Might well be a shitshow like the last debate, but doesn’t take a crystal ball to “predict” that. Maybe something really fun will happen, Biden’s human mask falls off and reveals a reptoid. Trump pulls out handcuffs and tries to citizen’s arrest Biden. It’s 2020 right? As my ancient nemesis Missy would say “Not bored yet.” #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Coin photo: Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Billboard image: Pittsburgh City Paper. Used without permission, but claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I’m promoting and linking to their article.)

Written by unitedcats

October 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

ANOTHER MESSAGE FOR TRUMP SUPPORTERS?

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It gets more ridiculous every day. And that’s quite a feat considering how far down the crazy rathole the 2020 election has gone so far. At this point Trump is simply spewing endless lies about Biden, his own accomplishments, and reality itself. And then there’s the promises like the one above. OK, where is this proposal? It doesn’t actually exist. His administration has had three years to propose legislation to accomplish the above, nada. All Trump has done is try and get Obamacare cancelled.

Frankly, I do understand that Trump’s followers give him a lot of credence, it’s the secret to his success. Trump says it, it’s true. Woohoo, who wouldn’t want to make America great again? But guys, c’mon guys. Guys and gals, Trump supporters, Trump promised to do this in his first election campaign, and didn’t even attempt to follow through. Um, and this time you believe him? What’s the old axiom, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” This is one of those situations, Trump already broke this promise, why the hell would anyone believe him again?

And gotta love the “You’re welcome!” Trump hasn’t done anything about health care, why the hell should an empty broken promise get him thanks? Thanks for nothing dude, I’m one of the independent voters who defended Trump after he got elected. I never suffered from TDS, I gave him a chance, he made a number of positive promises, like the above. Yet Trump broke all of his specific promises to help Americans, I’m supposed to be impressed by repeating the promises? Reelect me so I can do the stuff I promised to do in my first term? Give me a freaking break. I can understand not voting for Biden, but Trump hasn’t earned a second term, voting for him is crazy.

Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court had a hearing today. So freaking what, unless she morphed into a lizard creature during the hearing and ate the Republican senators alive on national TV while simultaneously defecating on a Trump flag, the Republicans are going to confirm her.  So this is just political theater. Moving right along, I had a nice link about the lies Trump is telling about Biden’s abortion stance, but Trumpers won’t read it or believe it. Just for those interested though: Trump Made False Claims About ‘Late-Term Abortion.’ Here Are the Facts.

So yeah, Covid-19 rages on in the US while Trump does nothing but make promises. OK then. Covid-19 is in the top five mass death events in US history now, only the Civil War, World War Two, and the 1918 flu pandemic being worse. And Covid-19 is rising fast, it will indeed surpass World War Two soon enough if unaddressed. And the death toll is almost certainly worse than the official numbers: US sees 20% more deaths than expected this year, most due to Covid-19, research finds.

And then there’s this: Covid reinfection: Man gets Covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’. It’s rare still, but not a good thing. There’s going to be limits to how much a vaccine will help if protection only lasts so long. Basically, the human race is at a choice. We can get our collective shit together, do what needs to be done to eradicate Covid-19, or suffer permanently from the “Cold from Hell.” It really is a decision point in human history. Even if we “adapt” to Covid-19, and let it take its blood toll, sooner or later something even worse will show up.

I’m not a big God guy, but if a supreme being sent us Covid-19, their message is “Snap out of your shit and take care of each other.” Kinda what I think Our Saviour’s message amounted to. Not seeing that. Trump could have been the world’s saviour, and instead has gone down the “not my problem” path. Biggest failure in American history, biggest lost opportunity in American history. Trump could have been a hero, he chose to be a Trump.

Stay safe and sane everyone. Sane = ‘Do whatever you possibly can to avoid catching/spreading Covid-19.’ Oh, yeah, today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Top Image: Public domain under US copyright law. Bottom image: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 12, 2020 at 8:03 pm

LONDON BURNING, GERONIMO, BERNIE AND NUCLEAR POWER, AND FLICC

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Geronimo_and_his_warriors

Some dates in history, nothing happened. Most though there are a number of things to choose from. In the first week of September in 1666 the Great Fire of London was raging. It’s a story with some interesting tidbits. I think I will write a dedicated post to it on Friday. Or not, one can never tell with these things. Maybe there will be some new shocking current event to write about. Or I could just make one up. “Nun Machine Guns Choir in Dispute Over How to Spell Arpeggio.” We’ll find out Friday I suppose.

More recently, on September 4 1886, Geronimo and his band of warriors finally surrendered to the US army. Him and his men had been more or less continuously fighting Mexico and the US for decades. All pretty ugly, especially the war between the Mexicans and the Apache. A lot of massacres on both sides. Against the Americans, he was mostly wanted for cattle rustling and “escaping” from the reservation. At one point near the end about a third of the US Army was hunting for him, 20,000 guys looking for a few dozen Indians. Whose big crime at that point was cattle rustling and leaving their reservation? Overreactions to minor threats on the frontier is a hallmark of imperialism. Just saying.

Once Geronimo and his men  surrendered, they were treated as prisoners of war. They were never allowed to return to Arizona. They were however taken out and about, IE the US government paraded Geronimo around at various events to show off the US. A tradition going back to at least the Romans. In his case, he got to make some nice pocket money. He’d sell pictures of himself, bows and arrows. Even his hat. Geronimo wrote an autobiography, which I am now putting at the top of my reading list. An interesting life indeed, the changes he saw. On his deathbed it’s reported that he regretted surrendering, who knows.

So he’s in the picture above. One of my favourite photographs of all time. Taken in the spring of 1886, it’s Geronimo and his men. I’ve probably posted and talked about it before. Cest la vie. It’s the only known photograph of a Native American military force operating in the field against the United States. These guys were at war with the US. Fun times.

Back to the here and now, I found out that Bernie Sanders wants to phase out nuclear power plants. I must admit I find that dismaying. There’s a huge problem with phasing out nuclear power plants, since they provide about 20% of the nation’s electricity, what do they get replaced by? Solar and wind can’t really take up the slack, since they can’t vary their power output on demand. Instead, exactly as is happening in Germany and Japan, they will get replaced with coal burning plants. The exact opposite of what we need to do. Nuclear power has its issues, but it is much safer and greener than burning oil and coal. And it has negligible carbon emissions, which is kind of an emergency species goal right now.

So I wonder if Mr Sander’s opposition is sincere, or his he only pandering to his base. The good Doctor Novella goes into the politics of nuclear power in his last post. Not surprisingly, Republicans are far more pro-nuclear than Democrats. I’m not sure what to think about it all. I guess I need to do more research. I’ve changed my mind before, it’s painful but the alternative is worse.

Lastly, FLICC. A new concept to me, or at least stuff I already knew in pieces, put together in a coherent package. Fairly new algorithm, 21st century. It’s a list of the big things to use to flag science denial. F is fake experts. L is logical fallacies. I is impossible expectations. IE, science can never be 100% sure of anything, and nothing is 100% safe, so one can point to the exceptions and claim they invalidate the science. C is cherry picking. And the last C is conspiracy theories. The more of these that show up in an article, the more likely it is science denying garbage. Not surprising, when both science and logic refute your position, stuff like this is all that’s left. Alas tens of millions of people listen to CNN and Rush Limbaugh, and fall for it every time. The FLICC article here.

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day holiday. There ended up being a party here. An introvert’s nightmare, a house full of friendly strangers. After enough beer I finally ventured forth and joined in the festivities . Parties here always involve the cat escaping and leading a merry chase through the neighborhood. They got the cat back, then locked me outside by mistake. All’s well that ends well though, they let me back inside, and I had a good time.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Photo by C. S. Fly of Geronimo and his warriors, taken before the surrender to Gen. Crook, March 27, 1886, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. Fly’s photographs are the only known images of Indian combatants still in the field who had not yet surrendered to the United States. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 4, 2019 at 3:40 am