Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

A WORLD WITHOUT SMILES

leave a comment »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

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

Written by unitedcats

September 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

LABOR DAY WEEKEND 2020, THE MADNESS CONTINUES

leave a comment »

A reader alerted me to an interesting ad placement in my last post, image above. Coincidence? IDK, marketing gets more sophisticated every day. Not sure I consider myself a part of the media. I’m a guy who’s been trying to figure out the world since I was 13 or so, and writing helps in that regard. Honestly, I don’t think the mainstream media has been fair to Trump. Fox News has been almost obsequious, that’s hardly fair. And the rest of the mainstream media has basically played softball with Mr Trump. He’s got nothing to complain about.

Another surreal day in 2020 America.  Whoever the writers are for 2020, they sure come up with some zingers. I think we got a whole new crew, the years before 2020 were bland compared to this year. I didn’t get any emails from future historians yet, so either there are no future historians, or sending emails into the past isn’t possible. Dammit, I thought that was a promising approach. Saying “Computer, end program!” aloud hasn’t worked either. I’ll keep trying, I have other ideas.

So, Trump lost the support of a lot of veterans by shit talking about them. He’s denying it of course, but there’s been too much corroboration at this point. It’s about what I would expect from a draft evader. A draft evader is like a draft dodger but without the stones to own what they did. In other news, the sinking of four(five?) ships in a Trump ship flotilla has been a gold mine for meme makers. No one died, so glad people are having fun with it. OK, gonna share one image:

I hope it’s a preview of the coming election. This is the first time in my life I’ve felt strongly that I should vote. One of the many reasons I don’t trust the polls. We’re in uncharted waters with this election.

Another thing that came out today (again, kudos to the reality writers,) apparently Trump hired a faux Obama: Trump hired an Obama impersonator to yell at and “fire,” according to Michael Cohen’s book. I couldn’t make this shit up. Is it true? Who knows. Trump’s disdain for Obama is legend, and he’s certainly undone as much of Obama’s work as he could. Obama publicly roasted Trump once, and there are those who think Trump’s whole run for POTUS was driven by a desire to destroy the legacy of a man so powerful he could publicly humiliate Trump. A better man would have taken the roasting in good stride, even taken it for the acknowledgement as an equal the roasting was. Trump is not that man. 

I digress. Kinda missed it at last week, but really, Trump may think letting Covid-19 run its course would grant America “herd immunity” and it would all be great? I hope this isn’t true: Millions could die if Trump listens to the adviser he hired from Fox’s green room. No Mr Trump, letting a poorly understood disease run wild in the off chance it will magically vanish is neither scientific nor logical. We may find out though, America is the “control group” for Covid-19. Let’s see what happens to a population that decides not to halt the spread of Covid-19! I mean, even some of our leaders agree: Idaho House passes resolution to end coronavirus emergency declaration. This isn’t going to end well.

So in review. Craziest election/times of my life, gonna chronicle daily as long as I can. I’m voting for Biden because he’s going to put Dr. Fauci in charge of the nation’s Covid-19 defense, and Biden was decent to a panhandler in the street. Two good reasons. I’m voting against Trump because of his abysmal response to Covid-19, and I’m a veteran. I served to defend the right of Mr Trump to call me a sucker and a loser. And I’m going to vote against him for having such a shitty attitude towards those who served. Convince me otherwise. Stay safe everyone, enjoy Labor Day, I hope nothing terrible happens. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Top image: Screengrab from Facebook, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Second Image: The same, unknown attribution, historically important image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 6, 2020 at 7:17 pm

HAVE A LABOR DAY WEEKEND

leave a comment »

This was what I saw out of my front window this morning. Did it blow over? Vandals? Nope, the staff rotted. If that’s not a metaphor for contemporary America I don’t know what is.  A sign of the times. I get more pessimistic about America pretty much every day now, we’ve reached the point where Americans are killing Americans in the street, and other Americans are celebrating them. Jesus wept.

And since I wrote that this morning, yeesh, stuff keeps happening. I was going to comment on the Stars and Stripes Newspaper being cancelled, but Trump has since reversed that decision. Events are moving quickly in the last few months leading to the weirdest election of my life. And now Trump has come under fire for alleged dissing veterans. At this juncture I guess it’s not entirely clear what Trump did or did not say. He certainly made light of Senator  McCain’s service record, and certainly called him a loser. 

Labor Day weekend. I passed out last night, it was a long hard week. Wow, even Fox News is saying Trump slurred veterans. And he doesn’t even have a swift boat to stand on. I’ll post again this evening. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 5, 2020 at 4:15 am

SO MUCH WINNING

leave a comment »

Above is Trumptopia’s version of “We’re winning against Covid-19!” The Bart Simpson version of winning I suppose: “We’ll choke their rivers with our dead!” In more Covid-19 bad news “Nevada man had Covid-19 twice.” Twice in a three month span. And not only didn’t his antibodies from the first case prevent reinfection, his first case was relatively mild, his second case required hospitalization. What this is all starting to mean is that the era of widespread travel, especially international travel, may have ended. That week in Hawaii or Paris is going to be a lot less attractive and economical if there’s two weeks of quarantine at each end. It may well be that the only way a country can keep Covid-19 under control is by strictly limiting travel, especially international travel, coupled with robust testing, tracking, and quarantining to suppress outbreaks as soon as they happen. Maybe there will be some amazing breakthrough in a vaccine or a cure, but while miraculous endings are common in movies, in real life not so much.

What a lot of people don’t really understand is that the global ”civilization” humans built since the end of World War Two was basically built on sand. The fossil fuel industry and air travel were both massively subsidized. Environmental and health costs largely ignored, passed onto the future in other words. Books have been written about how it was all based on rich nations exploiting poor nations. And the ever present risk of something like Covid-19 or the inevitable end to the stable climate the world had enjoyed for centuries was ignored. It was basically a fantasy world where the rich got richer and the fractured foundation it was built on was ignored. Most of the world has figured this out to one degree or another and is making adjustments. Not Trumptopia though, in Trumptopia Covid-19 has been defeated and everything is going to get back to normal in just a month or two. And if Trump can keep his base believing that for a few more months, he might even get reelected.

One of the biggest catastrophes of modern American history was the occupation of Iraq. The Bush administration literally  had no plan for how to occupy a large diverse country, and apparently thought the Iraqis would be so happy to have their country overrun by an invading Christian army that it would all just magically work out. Resulting in the worst humanitarian crisis in the Mideast since 1948, hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced. And Iraq has yet to fully recover in any real sense of the word. (If Trump had been president, he would have blamed the chaos on the Dems. Jesus wept.)

And now we have Trump, who apparently had no plan for how to govern America, and has even less of a plan about how he’s going to govern America in his second term. But we’ve got to reelect him so that Biden won’t destroy the country, because that’s Biden’s secret plan. Right. To get elected the first time Trump at least made some promises about governing the country. Renewed infrastructure spending, replace Obamacare with something better, tax the rich, drain the swamp, etc. Granted he broke all those promises, but this time he’s not even promising anything. He’s just going to prevent the mess the country is in from getting worse? He wasn’t able to prevent what’s going on from happening, but he’s going to fix it and Biden is plotting to make it worse?

Weirder and weirder every day. I wish Trump governed some far off land, it would make it easier to laugh at him. Alas, I’m stuck here in America. In Iowa even. I see my lovely adopted state of Iowa was America’s premier Covid-19 hotspot today. How a state that prides itself on being sensible is a blue state with an incompetant GOP governor is, well, a sign of the times.

So a comment on yesterday’s blog:

It’s already happening to an extent, the other day Russia buzzed the US border with some fighter jets. But even if you are a country that doesn’t like the US, do you really want someone so unpredictable in charge of the largest military arsenal in history? I’m sure global politics and strategy is playing out, but our greatest dangers are within. The last 2 weeks more than one million more unemployed, each week. Mortgage delinquency edging up towards 10%. Civil unrest in the streets. Lots of small businesses closed permanently. Yet the stock market sets records and Jeff Bezos just became the first 200 billion dollar man. It’s an unjust and unsustainable system.

Well, Russian jets on the US border is nothing new. And now that Trump has decided to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, we can expect more of the same. The US refuses to commit to a “no first strike” policy, so of course the Russians are going to keep as close an eye on us as they can. And for those unfamiliar with history, America has a long standing policy of skimming along designated enemies’ borders to intimidate them and/or provide a casus belli. The Tonkin Gulf Incident, the justification for the Vietnam War was the result of this policy.

In any event, yes, our allies no doubt would prefer a non delusional US president. The nations we insist on screwing, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China … they’d likely prefer a delusional lunatic like Trump. He’s so predictable it’s kinda scary. That was basically the point I was trying to make. And yes, we are our own worst enemy at this point. It’s more than likely our friends and enemies will just stay clear and see what happens. Still, Trump couldn’t defend America against a virus, a random enemy human science has a decent clue on how to fight; we’re really screwed if we have to defend against a sophisticated targeted attack.

Strange times. Just cost me my fiance. She’s one of the people who thinks this will all blow over and things will soon get back to a pre Covid-19 America. So she couldn’t handle me being immersed in the news and blogging every day. Oh well, wish her the best, but I must keep blogging. Writing is what I do, trying to make sense of the world is what I do. I get enough positive feedback that I know I’m contributing something. Hell, a world leader asked my advice once. Pretty sure that means I’m doing something right.

65 more days. Oh dear. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet from Brian Klass on Twitter. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 29, 2020 at 8:00 pm

HERE COME THE STORMS

leave a comment »

8/26/2020 Well, we’re in for it, today’s news is some of the worst in weeks. It’s been a problem this year; 2020, the gift that keeps on giving. So yeah, two storms, and one bat sh*t insane story in the news. Not even counting the Republican National Convention which was a whole other level of weirdness. A celebration of the Trump dynasty. I’ll let others cover that, if the gentle reader is a Trump Supporter I’m sure they thought it was all Jim Dandy. If not, well, reactions varied. It was certainly a spectacle though. In any event, the bad news of the day …

At the top of today’s horrors, Hurricane Laura is expected to hit the Gulf Coast as a category 4 hurricane. A 15-20 foot (4-6 meter) storm surge is expected. Basically a small tsunami is going to hit the Gulf Coast, along with 145 mph (233 kmh) winds. “Unsurvivable” is how the storm surge is being described. Anyone living in the affected area is urged to flee. It hits tomorrow (Thursday) morning, and the result is almost certain to be devastation and loss of life. A blow the country didn’t need now, not that it ever did. And I’m sure the Trump administration will respond with the same level of urgency and competence they used to crush Covid-19 and make America the envy of the world in pandemic response. Yeah, I’m being facetious. He’ll say he did a great job, his core followers will believe him, and they’ll move on to his next rally. The governors will take care of it, right?

Secondly, this news just came out: CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says. The change was, they didn’t want asymptomatic people tested even if they had contact with an infected person. This just means more infected people will go undetected, thus spreading Covid-19 further. Pure unadulterated politics in other words, the only reason for this change would be to reduce the  number of positive tests. The decision by the Trump administration was made when Dr. Fauci was under anesthesia, as he no doubt would have fought it tooth and nail. Pretty much how the Trump administration handles everything, results don’t matter, just people’s perception of them. And at this point only the perception of likely Trump voters matters to Trump, since what little effort he has made to appeal to people outside his base has been somewhere between embarrassing and pathetic. It’s why the USA is the worst hit country by Covid-19, with no end in sight. Reality trumps politics.

And last the nightmare in Wisconsin. A 17 year old teenager armed with an AR-15 killed two people. This was after two nights of unrest that started when an unarmed black man was shot a number of times publicly under circumstances murky at best. Seven times, hard to understand why seven shots into a man’s back were justified? And why was a 17 year old running around with an AR-15 is probably what most of the world’s people will wonder about? Yes, really, this is America, Disneyland with guns. At this point Americans have divided into two groups, Trumpland against the rest of us. So Trump and company will see this unrest  as insurrection and as something to crush, because everything is under control as long as people behave themselves. He’s already sent in the troops.

People are really angry, and they have every reason to be. Violence isn’t the solution. Groups of angry people can get violent, and shouldn’t be encouraged to do so. I’ve seen a mob, not something I want to ever see again. I have friends who have seen a police riot, pass. Neither helps. The divided press is a disaster, Fox News viewers will see rioters, the MSM will be a little more nuanced, but what I’ve seen already painfully normalizes police violence. Not helping. It takes two fools to have a fight.

So I was really upset today, A clenching in the stomach. Horrible times getting worse, daily sometimes. I don’t think it’s my imagination, Covid-19 is still an ongoing catastrophe of historic proportions, and it’s just the background noise. Floods, fires, storms, plagues. The idea that something changed in 2012, be it in the nature of reality itself, the Hadron Collider theory, or something else, I dunno, makes me wonder. My brain is telling me aliens or an AI are going to reveal themselves soon, maybe both. That’s just crazy talk though, isn’t it? Of course there’s those who see Biblical signs in it all. I guess. Still, if Jesus shows up in the flesh, I’m on his side. (I’ll keep my suspicions he’s an alien AI on the Q.T.)

Stay safe everyone. I hope tomorrow’s blog is more hopeful. Comments, likes, shares appreciated.

So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. Job 5:16

#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: US government graphic. Used legally, US government stuff is generally Public Domain as long as not used to endorse something. The US government does not endorse Doug’s Darkworld.)

Written by unitedcats

August 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm

YES, I AM LIVING IN FEAR

leave a comment »

My friend’s daughter lost her sense of smell from Covid-19 too. A very bad sign, means it’s doing things in her brain. Let’s just hope she’s not going to have heart damage either, looking like a lot of people who otherwise got over Covid-19 with few symptoms have damaged hearts: Covid-19 infections leave an impact on the heart, raising concerns about lasting damage. Thank you Mr Trump and Mr Limbaugh and all the other people who downplayed the severity of this crisis and left America virtually defenseless. Or worse: Coronavirus Doctors Battle Another Scourge: Misinformation.

And Trump (and his followers) still haven’t grasped that magical thinking isn’t going to make Covid-19 go away. Now Trump’s touting a quack cure made from Oleander leaves: On coronavirus, Trump reportedly has a new ‘cure’ in mind. No Mr Trump, as Rachel says, this is the cure: “Trump needed to implement a national, coordinated response, built around stay-at-home orders, an aggressive testing regime, an ambitious contact-tracing system, and related mitigation efforts.” Still waiting. The real death toll is likely over 200,000 now: Up to 204,691 extra deaths in the US so far in this pandemic year. We’re hosed.

So, yes, the post title. No doubt about it, like heights, I am afraid of catching Covid-19. It’s basically like being forced to play Russian roulette without even knowing how many bullets are in the gun. Typically one out of six. With Covid-19, we don’t know! I already know people who survived, but are still messed up. It’s still stunning to me that so many people simply can’t grasp that Covid-19 is utterly new and unknown. It really is an alien invasion, but people are so wedded to their complacent world view, they can’t see that.

I guess it makes sense. A colony of animals first and foremost must get along in a reasonably productive and safe manner in a mutually agreed upon reality. Things like Covid-19 are extreme outliers, it simply doesn’t fit into our world view. Covid-19 is superficially like a cold or flu, so that’s how our brains categorise it. Sadly though the rest of the human race appears to  at least on some levels understand their leaders need to be able to deal with novel threats. We are living on the surface of a planet, a chaotic dangerous environment if there ever was one.

Oh well. I’ll survive. Or I won’t. Was gonna make a science post, but the pandemic intruded. Still, here’s one sciency thing: Political forecast models aren’t necessarily more accurate than polls – or the weather. Polls are the astrology or divination of our times. Here’s a secret  this old fellow has learned through decades of studying reality: The future can’t be predicted, because it hasn’t happened yet! Codicil: Yes of course some things like eclipses can be predicted with great accuracy, but even then not 100% accuracy. Things can change. Elections though, way too many variables. Especially in contemporary America, where things are kinda messed up right now.

So lastly, the image. A Tully monster. Only known from fossils in Illinois. It lived in shallow seas about 300 million years ago. Grew up to about a foot long. A frog, a fish, a worm? No one knows, best guess it was a vertebrate of some sort. It was apparently an evolutionary dead end, it’s not believed any modern life descended from it. Let’s hope homo sapiens doesn’t suffer the same fate. Right now I am not reassured.

It’s a Monday in 2020. Blerg. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFhome #wearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. A Tully Monster. Credit: Nobu Tamura email:nobu.tamura@yahoo.com http://spinops.blogspot.com/  Reproduced here under a creative commons licence.)

Written by unitedcats

August 17, 2020 at 7:53 pm

POOF: THREE GENERATIONS SICKENED, COVID-19 HITS A FRIEND

with one comment

Heard from an old friend this morning. Known her and her family for 30 years. I’d heard that her and her dad were hospitalized, now I know the rest. Covid-19. Her dad, the family patriarch, caught it. Probably from a caregiver. Before they knew what was going on, he’d given it to kids and grandkids. No one died, though the dad is still hospitalized. My friend is home, but on oxygen, too fatigued to work, hoping it gets better. Daughter still suffering from fatigue and terrible headaches. Hoping they are past the worst of it. And they were most certainly taking every precaution, my friend is a veterinarian.

Covid-19 is hitting close to home in other words. I’ve been muddled all day about this. Angry, frustrated, depressed. I guess I’ve distilled it down to a couple of things. It makes me more determined than ever to avoid catching this virus. Bursitis is hard enough without hauling oxygen around. More determined than ever to keep blogging through this. And more angry than ever at people like Rush Limbaugh and the like who criminally downplayed the dangers of Covid-19, effectively sabotaging any chance America would do what needs to be done to fight this monster.

Lastly, once again for those in the back: Covid-19 is freaking wildly contagious, and far more dangerous than the typical cold or flu. These are facts medical science determined in January. And here we are in America six months later, 200,000 dead or so, no end in sight, and huge numbers of Americans are still in denial about Covid-19. I never thought I’d see the apocalypse arrive … but a third of the country and the federal government would pretend it’s no big deal and it will just go away. I can only hope as Covid-19 spreads among Trump supporters that some of them will wake up. And insist Trump and company use reason and science to fight Covid-19, cause hopes and prayers aren’t cutting it.

A thin, likely forlorn hope. Admitting one was wrong is hard to do at the best of times, and when one has sunk one’s whole identity around a falsehood, pretty much impossible for most people. It actually kind of gets worse too. Rather than embracing reality, a huge number of people on the right are embracing Q-Anon. A conspiracy theory that basically blames Covid-19 on some sinister leftist power cabal who are using it to destroy Trump and his fight for justice. Details vary, like all conspiracy theories, upon closer inspection it turns to mush. Evidence free mush. I need to see evidence. “The president wore a yellow tie!” or “Intelligence officials verified it!” is not evidence. Anyhow, here’s a good take on the Q-Anon thing: Why You Should Care About QAnon.

The whole Q-Anon thing is the logical result of the GOP’s strategy the past few decades: ”Liberals are stupid and their stupid ideas will destroy America!” It’s been a great strategy for firing up the base; for actually getting things done, not so much. And a frighteningly ineffective strategy at fighting Covid-19. And while musing upon these lines, came across this by Robert Reich: Voters can replace a party that knows how to fight with one that knows how to govern. I tend to have mixed feelings about Reich, but one point he raises illustrates my thinking nicely. The GOP has now spent a decade demonizing the ACA (Obamacare) and endlessly trying to repeal it … but despite multiple promises to do so (including promises by a certain Donal Trump in the 2016 election campaign,) they have yet to come up with an alternative. I rest my case.

So I’m angry, sad, and depressed all at once. More people I know will almost certainly be sickened or killed by Covid-19. All I can do is try and be a breath of sanity in an insane nation. Have a safe week everyone, sanity is apparently optional at this point. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Likes and shares appreciated, non-commercial sharing with attribution is fine.

(Image from Snappygoat, IE a Public Domain image under US copyright law. The Destroying Angel. It’s a beautiful mushroom, doesn’t it look scrumptious? It’s an Amanita mushroom, several closely related species are colloquially known as the Destroying Angel. That one mushroom could kill a whole family gathering, including the pets. I’m in a morbid mood these days, what can I say.)

Written by unitedcats

August 16, 2020 at 8:11 pm

BAD DREAMS

leave a comment »

OK, I got up this morning and there was no terrible or alarming news at first pass. Phew. The worst is over, maybe Covid-19 was all a bad dream? My vacation from reality lasted 90 minutes, then I ran across this recent news: Infectious coronavirus retrieved from hospital air Basically there is now experimental evidence that Covid-19 does indeed spread from the tiny particles of water people exhale while breathing and talking. Confirming what experts have strongly suspected for some months: Just being in a room with a talking, or worse, singing or yelling, infected person is a great way to get Covid-19.

Is this the final word? Of course not. Our understanding of this virus is in its infancy, but scientists around the world are sciencing the shit out of it. There is hope. Not in the US of course, a thousand people a day are dying, the worst mass death event in US history with the exception of October 1918, when hundreds of thousands of Americans died of the flu. The 1918 flu is basically an ignored event in US history, I saw a documentary about it once. Their take was that the death toll was so horrible that people wanted to just put it behind them and move on. A friend’s grandfather lost 7 of 13 child siblings in one week for example, I can’t imagine.

And I think to some extent this is going on now. 1,000 Americans dying a day, with little fanfare. And very little even call for action. Trump and the GOP seem determined to just pretend it will all go away, and much of the rest of the country is too numbed by the horror of it all to grasp it. And it is a horror, every one that died had friends and family and loved ones who mourn their passing. Every person who dies before their time dims humanity’s light a little. I will be expounding on this in future posts. I hope.

Back to Earth. Biden. Had a few thoughts today.You know, Biden’s VP pic may be more subtly clever  than I thought. She’s almost certainly going to inspire a wave of racist sexist personal attacks by Trump and company merely by existing. And considering how desperate Trump is, he might go completely over the top. People are emotional creatures, this might piss off a lot of people who weren’t wildly excited by Biden. Interesting choice. And then a friend commented: “VP debates against a guy who doesn’t want to be alone with a woman because “temptation” will be interesting too …”

So, a case can be made that Biden is a lot sharper than he lets on. The presidency is within his grasp, very few people can list that in their CV. I can postulate that it’s all just a diabolical plan to sweep Trump and the GOP out of office in the elections. And handed this golden opportunity, Biden says “OK, now let’s get Medicare for all and turn the minimum wage back into a living wage? Oh, and tax the rich. Is America behind me?”

A man can dream. On a personal note, TIL: Eye surgery, you get to watch it whether you like it or not! Little knives and such dancing in front of my eye, snip snip snip. I’m still blogging, so the surgery didn’t go south. Stay tuned. And once again for those in the back, Covid-19 is freaking serious, don’t catch it, don’t spread it, don’t be these idiots.

God bless everyone. Stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image from Snappygoat, IE a Public Domain image under US copyright law. My eye surgery inspired this choice.)

Written by unitedcats

August 12, 2020 at 6:58 pm

SADNESS WITHOUT WORDS, PRETTY WITHOUT KITTY

leave a comment »

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

LIVING IN THE MOMENT

leave a comment »

Finally, the first real rain in a month or more. .6 Inches (1.5 cm) of rain, so I got to use my rain gauge for the first time. I saw several of the neighbors wander over to check it as well. There’s not much to do during quarantine. At least those of us quarantining. Huge numbers of Americans, whole states really, more or less pretending it will all go away. Trump’s been saying that from the beginning, “It will all just go away!” Still saying it last I hurt. And if one’s house is on fire, yes, eventually the fire will go away. If it’s my house though, I think we should fight the fire, not wait until it goes out.

In local news there’s been a noticeable uptick in property crimes. Burglaries, car break ins, shoplifting. The only thing surprising about it is that so many locals can’t understand why this is suddenly happening now in our sleepy almost crime free town. Let’s think. Millions of people around the country have lost their jobs. A lot of them need money desperately and have fewer scruples than most. We live in an isolated little affluent resort town, nobody locks their stuff up, and there’s easy freeway access. This is one of the sorts of things I was talking about the other day. As massive change sweeps the land, there will be cascading changes triggered by all the changes. More property crime is pretty foreseeable, it will just get worse as people get desperate.

And desperate they will get. Trump and company are talking about a “V” shaped recession. IE yes the economy is in free fall, but it will hit bottom and bounce right back. Yeah, pretty much like thinking the Titanic was going to only sink so far. So lots of benefits are ending soon, Congress has been unable to come up with anything except blaming the other party. Great political strategy during peacetime, catastrophic fail during a national and global crisis. (And actually it’s a pretty crappy strategy during peacetime, it’s just crappier when the nation faces a fight for its life.) Trump signed a few executive orders, but they don’t seem to be much more than empty gestures.

Seeing in some quarters the idea that “We shouldn’t be paying people not to work!” There are a number of problems with this statement. Millions of people don’t have jobs to return to for one. Huge numbers of small businesses have gone under already. The amount of money we are talking about is trivial on a large and small scale. Lastly, what the hell do people think will happen to the money given to unemployed/poor/sick people? They run out and spend it! Consumer spending, the thing that drives the economy, right? Well, the poor have just been cut off in the US. I can’t imagine it will turn out well.

People sometimes say: “If you’re not offering a solution, you have no right to complain.” Yeah, no. I don’t know how to resolve the split between left and right in the US. For decades too many on the left have assumed a supercilious smarmy superiority over the right. The right has decided anyone not on their side is a liberal bent on destroying America. These are not positions conducive to debate and compromise. I’m still open to debate with Trump supporters. Fifteen years ago when I started this blog conservatives and liberals debated in numerous online forums. Now they almost never do.

I saw an amazing sight in the sky tonight. I got a few pictures. I’ll post them tomorrow. A shorter than usual post, but it’s Sunday. I can take it a little easy on a Sunday. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Stay safe readers. The world you grew up in is dead. Enjoy.

#StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Random Facebook image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 9, 2020 at 8:11 pm