Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

EPIDEMIC OF APATHY CONTINUES IN AMERICA AS COVID-19 KILLS AT WILL

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OK, so, the first surgery failed. Second surgery, well, another new experience, I could see the smoke and smell my burning flesh when they cauterized the incision. Smelled like chicken. Yes, I have a very odd sense of humor. Some would even say I don’t possess such. Philistines. So still kicking, but more surgery after the latest biopsy. Modern medicine, as in all modern science based endeavors, is pretty amazing stuff. Fox News viewers and Evangelicals, you’re missing out on some good shit.

And since they’re in control of the country now, their failure to grasp that Covid-19 required a science based approach has killed tens of thousands of people. I know, boring, we’re over Covid-19, on to some other story. Not here in Doug’s Darkworld. Greatest mass death of my time, so I’m  gonna keep blogging on it. And whatever comes to mind. That’s my plan for the fall, write about whatever I want to. 

Three quick Covid-19 links. First, once again, Covid-19 is very serious even for young healthy adults: A sobering breakdown of severe COVID-19 cases shows young adults can’t dismiss it. I know I repeat this a lot, because it’s important. Covid-19 is not a cold or a flu, it’s much worse, and we need to snap out of the complacency a hundred years of vaccines and modern public health brought us. Here’s a good article just basically going over some of the hows and why America failed so miserably fighting Covid-19: COVID-19 Has Killed Nearly 200,000 Americans. How Many More Lives Will Be Lost Before the U.S. Gets It Right? A good, if depressing, read. Lastly, just some interesting thoughts on where Covid-10 is going: How do pandemics usually end? And how will this one finish? 

So the Abraham Accord. Yeah, this one seems remarkably easy to deconstruct. The United Arab Emirates, one of the medieval Gulf State theocracies, has normalized relations with Israel, one of the few Arab nations to do so. Trump and company are touting it as a big move towards peace in the Middle East, he has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize! By a far right Muslim-bashing Norewegian politician who has nominated Trump for the prize before. The astute reader can no doubt guess that it’s going to go downhill from here.

So what is the Abraham Accord? It’s really simple, the UAE recognizes Israel, then they get to buy a giant pile of advanced US weapons. And Israel gets a huge pile of American taxpayer dollars which they have to spend on US weapons. Woohoo, American war profiteers make a pile of money, Israel and the UAE get even more weapons! And what do the Palestinas get? Nothing. How does pouring more weapons into the Middle East promote peace? God only knows. Basically it’s Trump giving away a pile of America taxpayers money so he can claim a diplomatic success. Color me unimpressed.

And more weapons in the region. Yeah, that’s worked out well: At least 37 million displaced by America’s two-decade ‘war on terror’: Report. Weapons are the world’s number two industry, and a profitable industry it is. And politically powerful. It’s distorted civilization since the end of World War Two, with no end in sight. They should have hung German industrialists alongside the other war criminals the Allies hung at Nuremberg. Nope, we’re stuck in this reality where giving more weapons to two warlike regimes in a region devastated by war is touted as a peace treaty.

Shit like this is why the aliens fly right past. Assuming any such aliens exist, the latest search came up with nada: Astronomers find no signs of alien tech after scanning over 10 million stars. If there’s aliens out there, they certainly aren’t doing anything noticeable. My backup theory is that intelligent life such as ours is an evolutionary dead end. Soon enough the technology will be such that an individual will be able to build a doomsday device. We can’t even stop school shooters in the US, so this would be inevitable. We’d all die with our freedoms intact though, woohoo! And if the stock markets were high at the time, then what else matters?

OK, no emails from aliens yet. I just checked. Unless they are cleverly disguised as spam, which would seem to miss the point. Still, how the hell would I know how aliens think, even understanding Trump supporters gives me pause. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Anonymous quote pasted onto a Public Domain Snappygoat Image. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 10, 2020 at 7:39 pm

SADNESS WITHOUT WORDS, PRETTY WITHOUT KITTY

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I woke up this morning with those words going through my head. So … blog title! I’ve been sad and depressed a lot lately. I think it’s mostly a reflection of sad, I’m sad while awake, sad while asleep. I took the above picture outside my house last night. Ran inside to grab my camera, took pics, somehow the camera failed. So the above is from my crappy flip phone camera. A blue searchlight? A crack in the sky one friend asked when I sent the pic? I never saw anything like it before in my life. It persisted for a good ten minutes before fading away. That’s what I love about reality, always cool new shit to see. As for what it was, pretty sure it’s what is called an anticrepuscular ray. It was  exactly opposite the setting sun at sunset. Just the perfect condition in the sky to only see the one blue stripe. I like seeing things in the sky. Saw a sunspot with my naked eyes once. No UFOs yet though.

Yes, I have been writing a lot lately. The plan is to write and post every day until President Trump leaves office. Of his own accord, frogmarched, dragged kicking and screaming, whatevers. What if he gets reelected? Or conquers the world? I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it, anything is possible. I wasn’t one of the gobsmacked when Trump won the 2016 election, her majesty Clinton seemed determined to alienate any but her faithful. I’m writing every day because the most horrifying election of my life is going on as Covid-19 rages essentially unchecked across the land, the most horrible event of my life. America is burning. A chronicle of a terrible time for future and foreign readers.

Speaking of Covid-19, it broke out in Vietnam again. A big breakout this time, their first deaths. Ten died so far. In other words there have been plenty of nursing homes in the US hit harder by Covid-19 than Vietnam. Vietnam was, and is, one of the big success stories in the pandemic. They went into full shutdown and lockdown mode in January, keeping cases down to a few hundred with no deaths. And in the past few months basically resumed normal life. Then, poof, a huge outbreak in Da Nang. They don’t actually know how it got back in the country, the best guess is that it didn’t, that it was quietly circulating asymptomatically locally. The lesson here, this is one ferociously infectious virus and only strong national action can control it. Da Nang has been completely sealed off and shut down now. Meanwhile in Sturgis, South Dakota, America, what pandemic? Sigh.

When I wrote “America is burning” above, I had yet to hear about the rioting in Chicago. Sadly I think it’s just the beginning. People are desperate. Poor communities have been hit particularly hard economically by Covid-19. And with a disproportionate number of deaths too. And there’s not only no relief in sight, neither political party seems terribly interested in offering help to the poor and downtrodden. This is America? And Trump is not exactly a great unifier who will try to calm the nation. He will be sending in waves of cops and soldiers. It will almost certainly get uglier.

How did we get here? Lebanon is actually a good example of what the problem is. America has divided into two tribes, who view everything through a political ideological lens. (While the rich have stolen everything and continue to loot even as the nation burns.) The idea of the common good has been completely lost, it’s everyone for themselves, with loyalty to one’s own faction trumping all else. Everything is seen through a political lens. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out before, Covid-19 is utterly immune to partisan politics. Anyhow, this article about Lebanon articulates it better than I can: Beirut’s Blast Is a Warning for America. In this country, as in Lebanon, everything is now politics. I know it’s behind a paywall, open in an anonymous browser window to read, it’s worth the trouble. Just for this insight:

“This trend is not only hurting us, it’s literally killing us. The reason Trump has utterly failed to manage the Covid-19 pandemic is that he finally met a force he could not discredit and deflect by turning it into politics — Mother Nature. She is impenetrable to politics because all she consists of is chemistry, biology and physics. And she will do whatever they dictate — in this case, spread a coronavirus — whether Trump affirms it or not.”

And that’s the optimistic article. Here’s another good one, no paywall here: America’s Death March. Regardless of the outcome, the election will not stop the rise of hypernationalism, crisis cults and other signs of an empire’s terminal decline. This one basically makes the case that America has reached the end of the road, this level of wealth inequality, corruption, and oligarchy never ends well. I hope I’m wrong, but for what it’s worth, I think I’m living during America’s big fall. Sooner or later believing logical and scientific nonsense like “Global warming is a hoax (or worse.)” was going to lead to actual catastrophe. And here we are, defeated by a germ.

Stay safe everyone. I know people now who are simply not following the news because they don’t want to know. Yeah, I can do that after I’m dead. A reminder for new readers who just wandered in here, six months ago a terrible new disease started spreading. It’s not the Black Death, but it’s still the worst thing to come along in a century. It can be fought and defeated, reason and science are the way.

Ain’t gonna happen, we’re hosed. Stay tuned. Comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An anti-crepuscular ray over my street yesterday sunset. Credit: Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

August 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm

TRUMP’S PALESTINE “DEAL OF THE CENTURY” REVEALED

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This was a hard post to write. Palestine is at the fulcrum of the world’s problems, a solution to it would be a huge boost for peace. Alas, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I must try though, I write this in the hope of promoting justice and understanding.

This is the map President Trump tweeted to announce his “deal of the century” offer to the Palestinians. It speaks for itself. This is not the map of an independent sovereign Palestinian state. It’s a “state” divided into at least six cantons, each  surrounded by Israeli territory. With numerous Israeli settlements situated inside the Palestinian enclaves. It’s a two state solution where the second state, the Palestinian state, is subject to Israel. The Bantustan solution to the issue. The Palestinians, none of whom were consulted in creating this deal, have already rejected it. As they should, this is not a realistic plan for peace, it’s an outline for Palestian surrender.

Or look at it this way, Trump’s offer basically gives all of Palestine to Israel, but allows the Palestinans to live on American style Indian reservations. Just like Indian reservations in America, the Palestinians can call themselves independent sovereign nations, but they are still subject to Israel. Especially with Israel controlling their borders, water, airspace, and defence. This isn’t really debateable. A “country” so divided up would be ungovernable. There’s no country anything like this on Earth, for good reason, it wouldn’t work. Which basically means that Trump’s offer is designed to be rejected. And then Israel can go ahead with annexation and claim “Well, we made them a reasonable offer, but they refused!”

The question that arises, does Trump actually believe this is a reasonable offer? I suspect he does. Decades of Israeli propaganda have cemented in many western minds.the idea that Israel wants peace but the Palestinians don’t.  Also the idea that the Palestinians aren’t a “real” people, so anything Israel offers them that allows them to stay is a generous offer, and they should be happy to get it. Or worse, Trump knows this offer is a joke, but doesn’t care.

I had Trump hopes before he got elected. Granted they weren’t very realistic hopes, but a man can dream? I hoped by being a populist and an outsider Trump might take a new approach to some of the world’s problems. Like actually trying to solve them instead of just perpetuating them. My hopes have been dashed at this point. Granted I’ve had my hopes for every president since Reagan, sometimes people elevated to high office try to do the right thing! Alas, it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those presidents.

A solution to the Palestinian problem is possible. An actual contiguous West Bank  state, bordering on Jordan, without any Israeli enclaves. Even if it was only half the size of the current occupied West Bank, it would at least be a viable state. If added to modest, essentially symbolic, reparations for Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the past, I think the majority of Palestinians would be happy with it. Oh, an actual independent state too, in every sense of the word. Not a state where Israel controls the borders, airspace, and water … and freely launches military strikes in.

Would this instantly halt all terrorism directed towards Israel? Of course not. There’s always going to be criminals and extremists. Just as there have been in Israel. But in the long run it would make peace workable in Palestine, as long as people have independence and self determination they generally are happy to get along with their neighbours. Ultimately Israel has to make peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, no nation can survive perpetual war.

I don’t think peace now will happen though. At this point it seems like the extremists control Israel’s heart and soul. And they want nothing less than a 100% Jewish Palestine, with the Palestinians gone. And Trump’s “peace plan” is just another step in the process of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that has been ongoing since 1948. Israel has held all the cards since 1948. And it’s they that have chosen war and ethnic cleansing instead of negotiation and peace. Not all Israelis though. I suppose there is hope in that sense. I recommend that the gentle reader read The General’s Son. The IRA and Britain negotiated a settlement to their nightmare war, I can only hope that Israel and Palestine can do the same.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump’s images posted on Twitter. Credit: One of Trump’s minions I suppose, as official government tweets they are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

Posted in Israel, Palestine, Peace, Trump

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ETC

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The year end holiday season is upon us. This will be my last post until after the holidays barring some news event I feel compelled to blog about. Knock on wood, it would be nice to go a week or two without rending my garments. And in that vein of thinking, I wrote a list of garment rending topics to quickly touch on in this post. And now, after a beer and fondue party, I will attempt to expound on them. The cheese fondue course was followed by a chocolate fondue course, so I am feeling no pain on multiple levels.

Australian fires. Yes, Australia is on fire. Two sad truths here, the first being that outside of Antarctica, Australia is the continent least suited to western style civilization, and such is making it even less habitable. Jerrod Diamond is where I got this nugget, so likely lots of codicils. Still, people have been living there for forty thousand years or more, and never found anything better than hunting and gathering. (Which is actually an underrated lifestyle.) And now, all the fires. Welcome to global warming, sad truth number two, which is exacerbating and increasing the droughts and such that are exploding the drier parts of the world. In our lifetime global warming is going to make large portions of the planet essentially uninhabitable, but we can’t do anything about it because it would hurt the economy. Go figure.

Generational conflict. So, yeah, some people are blaming the boomers for the state of the world. I chatted with one today. Yeh, right. (As an aside, love the English language, where a double positive can be a negative.) Give me a break in other words. Saying the boomers made the world today is like saying people in the past made the world we live in. Hardly a new or helpful observation. The world we live in is a mess, but hardly because a single generation screwed it up. Divide and distract is what the people running the world want us to do, so welcome to generational conflict. It’s not the hyper-rich families and corporations who have been running the world for centuries who screwed us over, oh no. It’s our parents and grandparents! A suggested fun topic with family over holiday meals.

And speaking of crazy pointless controversy, Merry Christmas! Apparently it’s a sin now in some quarters to say anything other than “Merry Christmas.” News flash, Christianity doesn’t own the calendar. So no one is required to say “Merry Christmas!,” nor is Christianity insulted in some way if one says otherwise. And if someone does get their knickers in a twist because someone wished them happy holidays or what not, it’s their problem. People wishing other people a good time is a good thing, duh.

This faux controversy is just a sign that the times have changed. When I was a kid, Christmas was treated essentially as a universal. It was just assumed and promoted in a million movies and TV shows that Christmas was an integral part of America, and the fact that millions of Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas was simply ignored. And we’re talking white, Jesus centered, heteronormative Christmas to boot. And now a lot of people would rather not be obliged to celebrate, or they want to celebrate it in their own way. None of which affects Christians who want to celebrate Christmas in any way, but lots of them like to pretend it does. And thus the faux “War on Christmas” was invented. Myself, I try to be polite to people in public. It’s worked so far, I recommend it.

Lastly. The 1914 Christmas truce, image above. World War One started in August 1914, And by Christmas the western front (where Germany was fighting France and England) was a line of opposing trenches from Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean. 440 mi (700 km,) millions of men facing each other in a bloody struggle that had already killed half a million. There had never been a war like it. And on Christmas day in numerous places on the opposing trench lines spontaneous cease fires broke out. In many cases just so the dead could be retrieved. In many cases though the soldiers fraternized, even famously playing a bit of informal soccer. One of those historical events that was long forgotten, now resurrected by the magic of the Interwebs. All dead now, such is history.

And shamed by this spontaneous outbreak of goodwill between enemies, the leaders of both sides sat down and negotiated a peaceful end to one of history’s stupidest conflicts. Snort. No, they issued orders making damn sure something like this didn’t happen again, and on subsequent Christmas days the slaughter continued unabated. Phew, close one.

Happy Holidays all, have a great week whatever you are doing or celebrating.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One newspaper front page. Credit:The Daily Mirror. I guess they’re still around, but I believe this image is now Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 23, 2019 at 7:41 pm

AVOID ACTIVE VOLCANOES AND OTHER STUFF

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It snowed again. Only a few inches. And powdery fluffy snow, so it was a breeze to shovel. An evil frigid breeze. When I came inside I could warm my hands in the deep freeze. I did manage to make it on foot to the library/Post Office/bank without suffering from frostbite, but that’s it for today. Today, random blogging. Well, not that random, it would take billions of monkeys eons to randomly type this post. I digress.

So, a volcano killed some tourists in New Zealand. Hopefully it was quick, what a way to go. Explosions can be handy that way, “One second, there you is, the next, where is you?” RIP, and may their friends and family find comfort and solace. I guess it was what they call a phreatic eruption as opposed to the more familiar types of volcanic eruptions. That’s where ground water gets hot enough to flash into steam, boom. I visited some once, quite impressive. This would explain why the eruption struck without warning, a slow rise in underground water temperature is probably tricky to monitor. It’s not  exactly an environment where one can drill down and install sensors.

This tragedy also highlights the disparity of the human condition on Earth. (Why yes, I do point that out a lot.) When westerners are killed by volcanoes, they were often tourists. Sometimes, as in this case, paying for the experience of being on a volcano. When third worlders die on volcanoes, it’s often because they were forced by circumstance to farm the fertile (but dangerous) slopes of volcanoes. And yes, there are far more of the latter dead people than the former. Stuff like this puzzles alien anthropologists to no end I am sure. Hell, I’m puzzled.

Speaking of puzzling, they found a man whose sperm’s DNA is entirely from his bone marrow donor. That’s right, if he fathers a child, another man will be the child’s genetic father. In fact the donor’s DNA has shown up in various parts of his body. Forensic scientists aren’t happy about this, this is going to complicate using DNA to solve crimes. Granted there’s already lots of ways extraneous DNA can get into samples, but still, one more thing to watch out for. Paternity cases could be complicated too, one more fly in the ointment. The takeaway, if one is a man who wants to father children, they should get their bone marrow from a close relative, preferably a twin sibling.

And as an aside to that, ‘they’ was just announced as Mirriam-webster’s word of the year. No doubt Rush Limbaufgh and other folks whose identity is all wrapped up in Biblical gender roles are having conniptions de merde. I really wish these people would get over themselves, but like their implacable efforts to take back control of women’s bodies, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Waaaay too much money and political influence to be had by promoting the Bible as an answer to all questions. Ask Mr Trump, he didn’t get elected by fanatic intellectual cultists. Myself, I don’t give other people’s genitals a second thought, I’ll call a person by whatever name and pronouns they prefer. Whatever floats their boat, someone else eating a donut doesn’t compromise my diet.

On the topic of DNA, I am seeing a lot of ads on Facebook about “get your DNA tested and we’ll tell you what kind of foods to eat!” Wow, it sounds all sciency and shit, who can resist? Hopefully anyone with a functional brain and a lick of common sense. Just another way for slick marketers to cash in on the DNA testing racket. In other words, it’s hogwash, there’s no scientific evidence that one’s DNA determines their optimal diet. If there ever is any such evidence, one’s doctor is the person to talk to about it. Not some shyster company marketing DNA testing for whatever reason.

In some positive news, Russia and Ukraine have come to an agreement over the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. This is a part of Ukraine with a large Russian population that revolted in 2014 when Ukrainian nationalists seized power in Ukraine. One of the many ugly legacies of the ill starred Stalinist Soviet Empire, which moved borders and people around willy nilly. In any event, this is a good thing, it’s hard to see how violence will help this situation. In any event this is a good start, a truce, prisoner exchange, and further talks scheduled. If both sides negotiate in good faith, issues like this can and have been resolved.

And yes, still working on my response to Ukraine comment post. By the same token as the above paragraph, it’s only through engagement with people who think differently that accommodation can be made. That’s why I avoid the dripping anti-whoever <cough> trump <cough> vituperative that characterizes the anti Rush Limbaugh crowd. Hell, there’s no need, the man speaks for himself.

Have a great week everyone, stay warm. Unless you’re near an active volcano, then stay cool.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: First Snow at Veneux-Nadon. Credit: Alfred Sisley 1878, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 10, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Peace, Russia, Ukraine, War, World

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae,1872 – 1918

So it’s Veterans Day in the USA, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Commonwealth countries. Armistice Day was the day Germany signed the armistice ending the First World War. Signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. A war whose bloodshed was unprecedented in the developed world, millions died in the trench warfare on the western front between Germany and England/France. Celebrating the end of such a war, or any war, is a good thing.

It was originally Armistice Day in the USA as well. In 1926 Congress voted to establish Armistice Day to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.” Then in 1954 in a fit of jingoistic frenzy, Congress changed it to Veterans Day. A celebration of war, not peace.

Well, as a veteran, I choose to celebrate the day as a celebration of peace, not war. While I appreciate those who served, the fetishization of America’s military in support of our endless colonial wars I do not celebrate. America’s troops are not fighting to end war, they are fighting to create war profits. Hardly a thing to fight wars over, let alone celebrate. If American really wanted to celebrate its veterans, they would bring our soldiers home and end our destructive and self defeating overseas wars.

At least the veterans of World War One thought they were fighting for peace. All dead now, during the war or after. Their sacrifice was ultimately in vain, as the horrors of the Second World War eclipsed those of the first. And the wars go on.

God have mercy on us.

Poem written during World War One by Canadian Lt Col John McCrae, after presiding over the funeral of a friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres. There’s actually a third stanza, but it’s unashamedly jingoistic so I chose not to reprint it.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A poppy field in Flanders. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, I got it from this site. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2019 at 2:49 am

“IT WAS SOMETHING HE HAD TO DO.”

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Wrisberg, John

Another Memorial Day. Today is the day America remembers its war dead. The holiday more or less started during the Civil War, though exactly how and where isn’t settled. And may never be,  historians are still arguing about it. Doesn’t matter though, it’s an official holiday now, and unofficial start of summer. Picnic, beer, family, and friends.

And memories. There’s a fair number of war dead in Clear Lake. The Civil War, the World Wars, they have their graves and monuments. Lots of flags in the Clear Lake cemetery today. And aside from the cemetery, there is a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flagpole just a few blocks from where I am living. Only one Clear Lake boy died in Vietnam, he is remembered on the Flagpole. John H Wrisberg III. I only say boy because he died before he was 21, just to emphasize the tragedy of a man dying so young.

I was just a kid during most of the Vietnam War. Certainly in 1968 when Mr Wrisberg fell. Most of the people who remember him were also children at the time. The Vietnam War was over half a century ago, like the wars before, it is rapidly fading into history and out of memory. Some remember John still though. Turns out he lived just a few houses away from where I live now. These posts are always hard to write, but discovering that floored me. As I sit here typing I look out on the neighborhood he grew up in.

I did solicit my fellow Clear Lakers for memories. I shared them below. One fellow remembers as a little kid getting piggyback rides from John as a kid. Another remembers getting in the way of John and a friend playing pool, so John placed her sitting on a shelf that was five feet from the ground. Others remember him and his family. His younger brother died a few years later in a motorcycle accident. His father was an Air Force pilot, died in a crash in 1960. A lot of tragedy for one family.

John was a real person. With hopes and dreams and and fears and plans. A good person whose life was cut short in a war on the other side of the planet. “It was something he had to do.” I honor his sacrifice, I am glad his memory lives on in those who knew him. As long our departed live on in our memories, they are still with us.

This is a shorter post than usual. I said what I had to say. God bless all who died in the service of our nation. God grant peace to their their surviving friends and loved ones. God give us the wisdom to value peace more than war. When I was a young man peace was considered a laudable national goal. I miss that.

Have a good Memorial Day everyone.

“He was my next door neighbor, he lived at 200 N Shore Dr, I was just a little one back then still remember him giving me piggy back rides, and the sad part….first time I ever went to a funeral home and seem someone in a casket, I still remember that vision, so sad … “

— Todd V Humberg

“John was a year ahead of me in high school, remember him well. I look up his name on the wall in DC when I visit . RIP” 

— Ed Kotz

“His little brother, Mike, who I remember from Clear Lake High School, died three years after John in a motorcycle accident. His father, also named John, was a captain in the Air Force who died in 1960 in a plane crash during a routine mission as a test pilot. Lots of tragedy struck this family.”

— Peggy Ward Kerr

“Rest in Peace, sir.”

— Linda Reid

“I lived across the street. I was good friends with Mike and remember the shock. So sad.”

— Terri Masteller

“He was my oldest brother’s best friend. I was probably 5 y.o. and they were shooting pool in our basement. Apparently I was in the way, he picked me up and sat me on a shelf that was 5ft off the floor.”

— Sheila Sherman

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image copyright unknown. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 27, 2019 at 7:20 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY 1945

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Berlin, Brandenburger Tor und Pariser Platz

The first week of May, 1945, is big in the history books. A lot because it saw the end of World War Two in Europe. Easily the biggest and most destructive war in history, tens of millions of people died, entire countries were laid waste. And then there’s the Holocaust, the first and hopefully last industrial scale genocide in history. America played a big role in the war, though  not as big as many Americans imagine.

Leading into the week, on 28 April 1945 Benito Mussolini was murdered, alongside his mistress. Two days later, April 30 1945, Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, killed themselves in the Führerbunker in Berlin. They had been married the previous day. Hitler had avoided getting married for political reasons, he thought being single broadened his appeal to German women. Hitler was always worried about his popularity with the German people, sometimes to a length where it actually hurt the war effort. In any case, two of the main architects of World War Two didn’t live to see the end of the nightmare they had created.

May 1st 1945, a Tuesday. Radio Hamburg announced the death of Adolf Hitler, claiming he had died fighting in Berlin. Admiral Doenitz was named by Hitler as his successor, much to Doenitz’s surprise. I doubt he had any illusions about how hopeless the situation was, but he ruled what was left of Hitler’s Third Reich for a week. On the same day the American Seventh Army reached Braunau am Inn, the town of Hitler’s birth in Austria. And on this day Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s famous propaganda minister, committed suicide with his wife in the  Führerbunker. They also murdered their six children, though some in the bunker tried to prevent that. Things frankly got pretty crazy in the bunker near the end.

May 2nd 1945. On this day the German forces defending Berlin surrendered to the Soviets, ending the two week Battle of Berlin. The Germans were outnumbered by at least three to one, with critical shortages of fuel and ammunition as well. The outcome was never in any doubt, Hitler’s fantasies notwithstanding. The Allied spring offensive in Italy ended with the formal surrender of German forces there. On this day Martin Bormann, a Nazi who rose to tremendous power and influence as Hitler’s private secretary, died trying to escape Berlin. His fate was a mystery until 1972 when his remains were discovered. Glass fragments in his mouth indicated he had died from biting a cyanide capsule, almost certainly to avoid imminent capture by the Soviets.

May 3rd 1945. Sadly on this day the British sunk the SS Cap Arcona, a German liner loaded with prisoners and slave laborers. About 5,000 died. And in an odd two historical footnotes the Irish Prime minister offered his condolences to the German ambassador for the death of Adolf Hitler. And the government of Portugal had official flags flown at half mast in mourning for same! The true extent of the holocaust had yet to be revealed I guess.

May 4th 1945, a Friday. German forces in northwestern Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark surrendered to the Allies.

May 5th 1945. German forces in Norway surrendered to the Allies. This was also the day the Battle for Castle Itter was fought. It has been called the strangest battle of World War Two, French POWs, American soldiers, and German soldiers(!) successfully defended the castle against an attacking German force. A tennis star was among the fighters! I may have to blog about this one. Sadly this day a Japanese balloon bomb, one of hundreds launched from Japan against the US west coast, had their only success of the war, killing five children and a pregnant woman near Bly, Oregon.

May 6th 1945. Patton was ordered to stop advancing eastward because of the occupation agreement between the Americans and the Soviets, much to his disgust. And two U-boats, U-853 and U-881, were sunk in the North Atlantic. Some of the very last naval actions in the war with Nazi Germany.

May 7th 1945. The Halifax riot. Due to series of unfortunate circumstances, sailors trying to celebrate VE day rioted. I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, but stores were looted and a lot of hard feelings created. And in Germany, German generals signed unconditional surrender documents in Eisenhower’s headquarters, ending the War in Europe. Sometimes good things do happen on Mondays.

OK, this post was not as American centric as I had originally planned. So just a couple quick notes on America in World War Two. A lot of Americans wildly overestimate America’s role in World War Two. Not surprising given how Hollywood portrays the war. In the D-Day movie “Saving Private Ryan,” there is exactly one reference to the British, and it’s unflattering. And no mention of Canada, leaving the impression that D-Day was an American affair. In truth only 40% of the troops that went ashore on D-day were American, the rest were British and Canadian. And while D-Day was important, it wasn’t a “turning point” in the war. By June 1944 the war was effectively over, it was just a matter of who would get to Berlin first.

Hitler’s armies were primarily destroyed by Soviet armies in Hitler’s disastrous attempt to conquer Russia. The Allies provided the Soviets with a lot of their trucks, but when it came to weapons and soldiers, the Russians pretty much supplied themselves. Westerners also love to make a big deal about their bombing campaigns. Post war studies showed they were not nearly as effective as was thought at the time. They also raise the morale of people being bombed.

And in a final bit of unpleasantness, stumbled on this little gem during my research. D-Day GIs ‘raped and killed their French allies while US army generals turned a blind eye’ Oops, they didn’t mention that in “Saving Private Ryan.” The sad truth is that rape and war crimes are simply a part of war. All armies have these horrors. Put people in a situation that utterly dehumanizes people and normalises violence, and some of them will do bad things. By my way of thinking, another good reason war is something to avoid, not embrace.

World War Two is fading into history now. The youngest veterans are pretty much in their nineties now. I hope people are collecting their stories. God rest all who died, let’s try not to have a World War Three, shall we?

(Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, 1945. This Image file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Written by unitedcats

May 1, 2019 at 11:02 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

Muslim Brotherhood Takeover Aborted by Egyptian Military, Egypt’s Democratic Revolution Continues

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flypast

“The Muslim Brotherhood stole the revolution, then we took it back. It’s as simple as that.”

Well, big goings on in Egypt. Millions of people recently took to the streets to protest President Morsi’s  attempts to seize absolute power, and his continued refusal to make good on his promises to the opposition. He seemed determined to establish the Muslim Brotherhood as the sole ruler in Egypt, and usher in, in the words of an eleven year old Egyptian boy, religious fascism. When people took to the streets recently they turned out in record numbers, some of the largest crowds in history demanding that Morsi fulfill his promises or step down. He did neither, and when the army tried to arrange a meeting with the opposition, Morsi refused. The army then told him he had to call early elections, or they would intervene. In democratic terms, both the Army and the people of Egypt gave Morsi a vote of no confidence. Sadly, the Muslim Brotherhood has responded with violence, unspeakable violence in some cases. This video is not for the faint of heart. Morsi and much of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership have been detained, but their followers seem determined to start a civil war.

The American government is none too happy about this. They’ve as much as called Morsi’s unseating a coup, and there is much stuff and nonsense in the media. The ugly truth is that the USA has very little influence in Egypt any more. Thirty years of support for Mubarek’s corrupt dictatorship didn’t save him when the people had finally had enough, nor did it endear the USA government to the people of Egypt. Obama’s attempts to influence matters in Egypt are laughable or contemptible, but most of all, they are irrelevant. As an Egyptian contact said:

“The USA has made so many “investments” in/with the Muslim brotherhood, so they don’t like it that he was overthrown after 1 year only but its not up to them, its our country and we get to decide what we want to do with it. People here are outraged that the US Media is calling it a coup.”

Yes, technically Morsi’s removal was “illegal.” The point? What George Washington did was illegal, because he knew that government had to come from below, not from above. If it’s a not a government of the people for the people, it’s just a criminal gang. Egypt is the oldest civilization on Earth, the Egyptian people know what they’re doing. The Egyptian air force flyover above was cheered and welcomed by the people of Egypt, they stood together with their military and took back their country from religious ideologues. We are witnessing a nation’s greatest generation.

That’s my current understanding of the situation in Egypt. And I sure as hell didn’t get if from the farce that is our western media. Even Al Jazeera is towing the western line, much to the ire of Egyptians. I’m getting my view of this from local sources in Egypt, few of which are in English. The translations in the interview with the 11 year old boy are indeed accurate. I will post more as this situation develops. I am filled with hope and fear, it’s 1848 all over again. With modern social media let’s hope the outcome will be different.

Note: This post is subject to revision as my understanding of this situation evolves.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I think it’s a frame grab from a video, I couldn’t even find it again using TinEye, so I don’t know who to attribute it too. Interesting times indeed, for once I don’t feel like ending a post with levity.)

Written by unitedcats

July 8, 2013 at 7:34 am

Those Crazy Atheists

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atheismpeace

Ah, another lovely atheist meme lifted from Facebook. I see a lot of stuff like this. It bothers me for a number of reasons. It’s a wonderful example of how convincing false arguments can be, since I’m pretty sure most atheists have no problem with this image at all. That’s how false arguments work, they sound very convincing if one already agrees with them. That’s how Rush Limbaugh and his ilk cash in, they just endlessly regurgitate strings of false arguments that reinforce the prejudices and misconceptions of their target audience, and they’re golden. It works the same with all belief systems as far as I can tell, atheism among them.

OK, let’s get started deconstructing this mess. “Radical Muslims fly planes into buildings.” Well, appeal to emotion for one thing. One should always be suspicious of arguments that start off by pushing emotional buttons. This is also a propaganda button, since the idea that 9/11 was because they were crazy Muslims has been the central plank of US propaganda since 9/11.  Um, yes, the 9/11 plotters were Muslims, but their reasons for attacking the USA were largely secular and completely in response to US actions in the Middle East. Actions that killed vastly more innocents than died on 9/11. In other words, this first statement isn’t really true, and it’s completely without context. It’s a great way to demonize all Muslims though, even though the vast majority of them are as appalled by 9/11 as anyone else.

On to number two, abortion doctor killers. How many of them have there been, three? To say this is a cherry picked example is being generous. Thousands of murders are committed in the USA every year, most of them with motives as messed up as the abortion doctor killers. One could find examples of murders by any sort of person one likes and then hold it up as an example of how some radical world view poisons people. An argument that can be used to support any position isn’t much of an argument.

And what about radical Christians and Muslims that do good things? How come they don’t get mentioned? Small numbers of radical Christians helped their neighbours avoid the holocaust. Radical Muslims built a holocaust museum on the West Bank and surround churches in Egypt to protect their Christian neighbours. Wow, what monsters these radical religious people must be! In other words, radical religious people do terrible things because when a terrible thing was committed by a religious person, it must have been because of his religion. What?

Lastly, and the most transcendentally absurd considering that the meme is apparently trying to make the case that somehow atheism is a voice for peace, is the idea that radical atheists are just harmless authors. Well, first off, even the radical atheists they are alluding to, Hitchens and Dawkins I am assuming, have been some of the biggest cheerleaders for America’s violent foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia. Um, promoting war against Muslims isn’t about peace, it’s warmongering. It gets even worse. Stalin and Mao were both atheists and they both wrote books. And they were definitely antithetic to religion, which would seem to make them pretty radical. They also did far more than write books, they killed tens of millions of people. In fact they make al-Qaeda and abortion doctor shooters look like amateurs when it comes to mass murder. Why not mention them in the company of radical atheists?

In the real world the reasons for human violence are complex and deeply rooted in history, personality, culture, and politics. And while religion is most definitely used to inspire people in violent endeavours, it’s rarely the seminal cause of those endeavours. Sophomoric tropes blaming violence on religion are just atheist propaganda, and about as helpful as blaming Jews or Muslims or Christians for the world’s  violence. It’s easy to blame the world’s problems on people who are different than you. This is what radical atheists are doing with this meme, it’s just a way for atheists to pretend they have the answer. Kinda like what so many religions do.

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

(The above image appears to have its own attribution, and since they must have released it on Facebook, it must be public domain. In any event it’s not being used for profit and is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I could have also mentioned that a certain famous German atheist wrote a book called Mein Kampf that’s not exactly a handbook for peace. However his atheism is debatable, Mao and Stalin’s isn’t.)

Written by unitedcats

June 19, 2013 at 10:29 am