Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

I THOUGHT WHEN THE APOCALYPSE HAPPENED PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE

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In other words: “The fire’s under control, it just looks bad because we installed all sorts of smoke detectors, if we hadn’t done that things would look great.”

It’s not reported because that’s not how it works Mr. Trump. His quote is like saying: ‘We’re making so many rifles, more rifles than any other country, we’re winning the war!’ No Mr Trump, it’s not how many rifles we make, it’s how they are  used. Having a lot of tests is useless if one isn’t using the tests to isolate infected people and track down and isolate the people they infected. And in that respect, the US is failing miserably. And no as well, on a per capita basis, our testing is lower than some other countries. And we’re not doing well fighting Covid-19, other countries are shutting Covid-19 down and cautiously reopening their economies. And lastly the 1/100th thing is so stupid it’s beyond my comprehesion.

So I’m still in shock here. What a fascinating time and place to be alive! Mass insanity! The Children’s Crusade? The Tulip Mania? <cue: hysterical laughter.> Future historians, not to mention most of the rest of the contemporary globe, will be challenged to explain how this happened. How did the USA, self supposedly the greatest nation on Earth, become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Actually, we know how it happened. This isn’t complicated for the Trump supporters who are still reading. If one’s car breaks, one calls a mechanic. If one’s roof leaks, one calls a roofer. If one’s pipes are clogged, one calls a plumber. Right? This isn’t rocket science. By the same token, if one is facing a pandemic, one calls the pandemic experts. There’s no politics here, no religion; it’s just civilization, we have a complex society and expert knowledge is what keeps it running. There’s no room for reasonable debate here, one has a problem, one consults the people who have spent their lives and careers dealing with the problem. Right? Right?

Trump did not do this. He fired the pandemic experts on the White House staff years ago, and when the pandemic struck, he ignored the plan the pandemic experts had put together. The result has been exactly as the pandemic experts predicted, Covid-19 is exploding out of control in the US. In every other developed country (and plenty of undeveloped ones) Covid-19 has been shut down and they are slowly reopening their economies. And making sure to keep plague carrying Americans out. OMFG.

I just. I just keep having to rewrite this end of the world post because to my continuing shock and horror, maybe 2/3rds of Americans still aren’t getting it. Trump and company are still using tortured motivated reasoning to pretend everything is OK, we’re winning the fight, and everything will be fine in a few months. And if that’s the people one hangs out with and the “news” one watches, I guess it’s understandable. Sort of. One wonders how they will fare as the situation worsens, but hey, most people in North Korea think things are worse off in “American occupied” South Korea.

The other third who are not getting it  though, not Trumpers. Just normal folks who haven’t yet accepted that things have changed. A horrible new plague is spreading throughout the world. I guess it’s human nature to live in the world we create in our mind, normally that’s a good thing. “The map is not the territory” though. When reality updates, and Covid-19 is a reality update, time to change one’s internal map of the world. Harder to do for some than others. One freind for example, hates Trump, watches anti-Trump media constantly … has made essentially zero changes in his life plan due to Covid-19. Another friend is sure we’ll “muddle through.”

The problem with the former is that if things get really bad, which they could well, he’s going to be utterly unprepared. And the problem with the “muddling through” idea is that states that try to “muddle through” national disasters don’t. We don’t need muddling, we need effective national leadership. That’s not happening with Trump, his muddling has made the USA the world’s epicenter of Covid-19. More muddling is bad, not good. It’s magical thinking.

As an aside, Covid-19 has driven some people off the deep end. IE they have been completely consumed by Covid-19 Truther and conspiracy theories. A few Facebook friends. One irl friend. Last time I saw this sort of thing was 9/11, that unhinged a few people. When great tragedies happen, some people snap. A human interest offering, and further evidence that yes indeedy, Covid-19 is a big deal.

So yes, in short, I think I’m witnessing one of the greatest ongoing failures of national leadership ever in the face of a global disaster. Convince me otherwise. Hint: Tweets like the above are the opposite of convincing. So I’ve decided all in all it’s a sign. My kin have mostly deserted me, the world I knew is coming to an end, and to top it all off, it’s a freaking medical mystery why I’m even still alive. What does it mean?

It means it’s time to finish my damn book. If I can spend months planting onions and stacking cans of beans, I can spend the same furnishing my book. Or finishing it as the case may be. Now or never, since my odds of surviving Covid-19 are about 50-50 I figure. So my blog posts might drop in frequency, I dunno. I’ll do my best.

Reality is so weird now I sometimes seriously wonder if I did die some time back, and the whole Trumpian Covid-19 nightmare is a dark fantasy generated by my dying brain in its last moments. Sadly for my readers, I don’t think so. Stay safe and stay sanish everyone. Wear your damn masks. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Presidential tweets are an official channel of the US government, and thus Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

July 9, 2020 at 8:34 pm

TRUMP WINS WORLD WAR TWO, CURES CANCER, CATCHES THE ZODIAC KILLER AND GRATEFULLY ACCEPTS A THIRD TERM FROM AN ADORING NATION

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Today is Juneteenth, a holiday the freeing of slaves in the USA is celebrated. June 19th, 1865, the Union army freed the slaves in Texas. (Though it wasn’t quite the end, a few border states still had slaves until December.) So, Happy Juneteenth to my black friends and readers. I’m going to write a Black Lives Matter post one of these days. It’s hard because trying to write something that will reach the people who need to read it is tough. The people who think whites are a persecuted minority, blacks are for the most part thugs, and BLM is a terrorist organization devoted to killing all whites. Sigh. I miss the America of my youth where we all watched the same news and lived in the same reality, even if we disagreed about how to navigate it.

Remember Christopher McCandless? How about the movie “Into the Wild”? Basically after hitchhiking around the country for a few years, he hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in April 1992 with minimal supplies planning to “live off the land.”  Four months later he was dead of starvation, though poisoning may well have contributed to his death. A tragic story, made famous by a book in 1996 and more famous by the movie  “Into the Wild” in 2007. Subsequently the abandoned bus Mr. McCandless lived in became a tourist attraction. And this is where it gets even more tragic, since 2007 numerous people and parties have had to be rescued trying to get to the bus, and two people actually died. Apparently a lot of people watching the movie missed the message, don’t travel into deep wilderness unless you goddamn know what you’re doing. So now the DNR and the Alaska National Guard have removed the bus by helicopter to a place of safety. It will likely go on display somewhere where people can go look at it without risking their lives. Humans. “Buy them books and send them to school. What do they do? They eat the books.”

So the above illustration is a shamelessly copied image. Failure of central government illustrated? These are western democracies similar to the US in many respects. Get to some of those dirty commie countries, the comparison is worse. Cuba, 85 deaths. Vietnam, 0 deaths. And I’m being, what, sarcastic, facetious, when I say dirty commie countries? Drawing attention to the truly sick idea that there are “good” and “bad” government ideologies. No, there are 300 plus countries, each and every one of which is a unique case. Yeah, reality is complicated. My point here with this illustration is that the US federal government’s response to Covid-19 has been dreadfully inadequate by all reputable measures. The “pro-life” party running the country has cost the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, wtf?

And what is Trump doing to fix this? He’s holding a huge indoor rally this weekend, his first since he belatedly recognized Covid-19 was a big deal. Is there a vaccine? No. Has herd immunity been reached? No. Will the participants all be wearing masks and practising safe social distancing? No. Is a robust national test and trace program in place to deal with and shut down the Covid-19 outbreaks that events like this are almost sure to cause? No. So what the hell is going on here? Today’s theory remains unchanged, Trump pretty much only has one schtick, self-promotion, and it’s all he’s got to deal with this crisis. He’s a one trick pony so to speak. Will this weekend be the start of the Trump Pandemic? Maybe. Will he announce nothing but the great things he’s done? Probably. Will future historians be baffled.Definitely.

I’m baffled. The weirdest thing about the summer of Covid-19 so far is that we can’t talk about it except within those who share our social beliefs. During the run up to the invasion of and the subsequent occupation of Iraq after 9/11 I had a lot of engagement with people on the other side of the coin, both in real life and online. Today, essentially none. I guess I should call one of my oldest friends, he was a Trump stalwart last I checked. I’m afraid to know, it’s like we’re on different sides. I guess Lincoln corresponded with Davis during the Civil War, so maybe I should email him.

So hey, gentle readers, enjoy the good times if such is happening, that’s what I’m doing. (Drinking a craft beer and eating cheese with a homemade biscuit as I type.) A third of America is going to Trump rallies and thinks things are fine. The other two thirds, well, a lot of them don’t grasp how bad it is, and/or believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. Some of us are trying to make sense of it all, me included, comments/shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. New York Times, claiming Fair Use, etc. I’m a subscriber and support them FWIW.)

Written by unitedcats

June 19, 2020 at 7:38 pm

THE DYING CONTINUES BUT THANK TRUMP WE’LL ALL BE ABLE TO GET HAIRCUTS SOON

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It is so freaking strange living in contemporary America, June, 2020. Covid-19 is now the 4th worst mass death event in US history, and is still killing about a thousand people a day with no end in sight. That’s a much higher rate than any of America’s wars. Covid-19 has not only killed a 4th place record of Americans, it’s done so in just a few months! In other words, this is an ongoing catastrophe of epic proportions.

And yet, in the news, in the public eye, in the Trump supporters crowd especially, the crisis has passed and the country is reopening. All across American restrictions are being lifted and people are starting to congregate with little to no concern for masks or social distancing. It’s unreal, we’re just gonna pretend Covid-19 is going to go away? It’s like living in a Twilight Zone episode. Deaths are already ramping upwards in multiple states as they reopen, what’s going to happen when once again thousands of people are dying daily? Damned if I know.

So I’ve learned a few things from this ongoing existential crisis. I’ve always been fascinated by how civilizations collapse. More importantly, how it is that people continued to carry on with destructive actions long after it was clear that in the long run what they were doing was going to be catastrophic? Jared Diamond has written books about this, I like his take: “I wonder what they were thinking when they cut down the last tree on Easter Island.” Basically, people, even leaders, base most of their actions on short term and immediate gains, somehow blinding themselves to the ultimate consequences. Reading about it was one thing, seeing it in action, wow.

I’ve also got a bit more insight into Trump, or observation at least. People follow Trump because he believes what he says. I think it’s why people fall for cult like leaders in general, they want to be told what to think and do, and someone who can tell them that with fervent belief, well, that’s what they are looking for. It’s especially true nowadays when there’s whole news channels devoted to promoting Trumpism. So no matter how bad it gets, and there’s every indication it’s going to get much worse, his core supporters will stick by him.

This also figures into concerns about Trump’s health. He recently had a bit of trouble on a ramp and with a glass of water apparently. Though, honestly they didn’t look like any big deal to me. My point though, is Trump’s health is just like anything else in Trump’s world, he thinks he’s in great health and that’s that. If a doctor tried to tell him differently, he would get a new doctor. I could literally see him being like President Wilson after his stroke. One entire side of his body was paralyzed, but he insisted he was just “slightly lame.” The constitution was eventually amended to deal with such situations, but it would require congress to invoke. So as long as the GOP controls the Senate and Trump can be propped up in a chair and can sign documents, he’ll remain the POTUS.

Or to put our current situation another way:

“The entire point of shutting down society was to allow time for a test and trace system to be out in place. It never was and now the 2nd wave will be even bigger. So there are 115,000 dead, an economy in free-fall, millions suffering and it was all for NOTHING.This is FAILURE.”   —Mikel Jollett

Yeah, we’re hosed.

On a more personal and positive note, my Covid-19 victory garden is out of control. I’m eating stuff from it almost every meal, my housemate is eating, my neighbors are eating, even a rabbit got into it and ate some. It’s a very good feeling frankly, I should have settled down long ago and gotten serious about growing food. Most people are still on auto-pilot, but Covid-19 has changed my life. Hopefully changed it enough to get through the rest of 2020, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store for us.

Stay safe, stay sane, have a great week everyone. I took an overdue vacation last week, but back to the blogging grandstone now. Comments, likes, shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Claiming Fair Use, it’s all over Facebook, it’s the perfect photo for illustrating the post, and the idea that I am making a profit off this blog doesn’t pass the laugh test. I think it came from this site discussed on Snopes.)

Written by unitedcats

June 15, 2020 at 7:46 am

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

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OK, cooler heads seem to have prevailed in the USA, no catastrophic new developments over the past few days. Large scale demonstrations against white supremacy and police brutality have continued, largely peacefully. Trump has tweeted up a storm and built a wall around the White House. So he got his wall, just not quite what he expected or promised. These are still very uncertain times. A few thoughts about various developments.

Someone pointed out that when Trump was waving a bible around for his photo op, he was holding it upside down and backwards. And they observed that if Obama had held a Bible in such a fashion, Fox News and crowd would have been screaming it was proof that Obama was the anti-christ. Yes far future readers, we really have reached that level of transcendent absurdity. The GOP and Fox News spent all of Obama’s two terms generating outrage about Obama over things that were trivial to non-existent. And of course never really criticizing him for his real failings: his service to the banking industry, normalization of endless war, etc. Political discourse has been farcical in the USA for decades, it’s just gotten more pronounced under Trump.

There has at least been some response to all these demonstrations. The cops who killed George Floyd have been arrested and charged. The Democrats have announced a police reform bill. France is banning chokeholds. I dunno though, serious change in how we police America has been overdue for decades. Our rate of police shootings is horrifying. And it’s not like we don’t know what to do, there are excellent and proven ways to reduce violence by police. That we haven’t done this shows the problem is political, despite what anyone says. And by political I mean that special interests wedded to ideology are preventing progress. Maybe we are at a watershed and true police reform will happen, I’m not holding my breath.

And no, Minneapolis disbanding their police department doesn’t mean the burbs will hire private security while the Crips and the Bloods fight it out for control of urban areas. I literally heard that from a person on the right. I could write a book about the bad logic and factual errors such thinking encompasses. Like I said, we’ll see what transpires. Disbanding police departments means turning over all the instances where cops were expected to be “social workers with guns” to other more appropriate agencies. Go with what works, imagine that?

So yes, all sorts of mass demonstrations against police violence. Wildly outnumbering the handful of people taking to the streets demanding an end to the Covid-19 social distancing a month or so back. Many of these people are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Add that to police using banned chemical weapons, which helps spread Covid-19, and we could see a huge spike in Covid-19 in a few weeks. Thrillsville. I don’t think saving the rich was worth killing grandma, but ending police brutality is? I have yet to resolve this issue.

So came across this quote:

“It has exposed how much of Western society … is permeated with influential people who have deluded themselves into thinking that their ability to manipulate words, images and sounds gives them the ability to control reality itself.”

It was from this article, Why the Coronavirus is Winning. IDK, it addresses my previous conundrum, how does one justify mass protests during a pandemic? Read it and weep I guess. And I stand by the quote above, it exposes the west’s fatal flaw. Reality bats last.

For my part I’ve concentrated on getting my garden ready as I wait for more shoes to drop. (Image above.)  It was very satisfying, my first serious vegetable garden in nearly 30 years. Boy, life just whizzes on by, mostly boring, sometimes too stressful for words. One adapts to the later I suppose. That’s my plan, seeing as my plan to die young and be a horrible warning has gone tragically awry. Have a safe and sane week everyone. Shares, comments welcome.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

June 8, 2020 at 7:55 pm

LIGHTS OUT IN WASHINGTON

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OK, for the past several nights there have been growing protests across America against the killing of George Floyd in particular, and injustice and violence towards blacks in general. Last night demonstrations outside the White House got violent, property damage, fires set. There was skirmishing with the police, the police might even have started it, I wasn’t there. Trump turned out the White House lights and hid in a bunker. I’m underwhelmed, a real leader would have emerged and addressed the crowd.

Be that as it may, today Trump gave a short speech about how he’s going to respond. It was pretty simple, I will recapitulate. He started off by saying how terrible the killing of George Floyd was, and he wants his family to get justice. (I wonder if the four accused cops ever watched Breaker Morant?) Then he went on to say how terrible the violence was, with Trump’s trademark cherry picked list of victims. And then he claimed it’s a law and order problem, blamed all the violence on his designated left wing enemies, and said he’d send in the troops if governors didn’t get the situation under control, using the National Guard if they had to. Basically framing it all as a law and order issue vs leftist thugs, and he was going to crack down and fix.

I’m sure Rush Limbaugh and hard core Trump supporters ate it all up. They live in a world where there is no right wing violence. No police riots. All violence is from the left. Even Hitler was a leftist. Covid-19 and now this is all a Democrat plot to bring down Trump. Sigh. I don’t know what to say to such people, but if any are still reading, hear me out. Let’s deconstruct Trump’s speech.

OK, yeah, justice for George Floyd. Great. However, and it’s a huge however, George Floyd’s killing was just one of an endless series of blacks being killed with no consequences by cops and civilians. Implying that this single injustice is  what the violence is all about is either ignorant or disingenuous. Then his cherry picked list of victims. All real no doubt. It just excludes victims that don’t support his “law and order” narrative. There’s absolutely credible reports of police riots and police attacking news reporters. And credible reports of right wing instigators trying to start a “race war.” Bad people come in a wide array of persuasions, welcome to Earth.

And then his claim it’s all a “law and order” issue, and that’s what America is all about. No mention that peaceful protest is constitutionally protected. In a nutshell, Trump refused to address the underlying issue, and claimed he’s going to use force to make it all better. Yeah, I don’t see this working, police violence is the problem, not the solution. He promised to magically make Covid-19 go away, and we are the worst hit country. I doubt his promise to fix this will work out any better, simplistic ideology driven solutions make problems worse, not better.

So I’m going to post this tonight, and maybe add to it in the morning. The worst civil unrest since the sixties, anything could happen tonight. I’m sick at heart over all this. I have friends going to protests as I type. I pray for their safety. I pray for peace. I pray for justice. I pray Trump’s response doesn’t make this worse, but I think threats and encouraging violence isn’t going to help. I don’t think this is a problem troops will solve.

We’ll see, G’night and take care all. Crazy times.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission. Claiming Fair Use, historically important image, widespread viral image.)

Written by unitedcats

June 1, 2020 at 7:01 pm

WHY PEOPLE RIOT, WHY I’M ANGRY, WHY?

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What a terrible few days it’s been. A cop kills a suspect, George Floyd, in Minneapolis. Him and the other cops standing by him are fired almost immediately. Demonstrations and protests break out, violence and destruction ensues. And has spread across the nation now to varying degrees. The actual killing cop has now been charged with murder. Granted it was already a terrible year with the Covid-19 pandemic, but widespread rioting unseen for decades, yeah, going into a crazy bad summer.

Personally, I find this all simultaneously terribly depressing and enraging. Depressing, because people are dying, and every death leaves family and friends coping with sadness and loss. Enraging because so much of what is going on shouldn’t be, and is a clear sign that we still have some major problems and misunderstandings in America. At this point though, our political discourse is so laden with hatred and misunderstanding, maybe I’m pissing into the wind. Still, I have to try, some of my oldest best friends are Trump supporters. This is for them. The ones that can still listen and engage. We are all in this lifeboat together, whether we like it or not.

Is understanding possible? Trump and his supporters often style themselves after Lincoln. Lincoln spent the entire war corresponding with President Davis, president of the southern rebellion, tring to end the war. Some Trump supporters are now saying things like “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Rush Limbaugh has been saying similar for decades. Not sure how to get through to people like that, not sure how they think discourse like that is helpful. Democrats are your friends and neighbours and family, they are your fellow humans.

Back on point, OK, first major point of misunderstanding regarding George Floyd. I’m still seeing a lot of people saying “If he could talk, he could breath.” One of the officers on the scene even said that! This one’s easy, the statement is simply wrong. Yes, if one’s breathing is cut off completely, one can’t speak. However, if one’s breathing is just restricted, it can take 30 minutes or longer to die, and the victim can speak the whole time! That all media outlets haven’t cleared this up is a shameful commentary on our so called modern media. That cops don’t know this is shocking. And in any event, how can someone think that kneeling on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes is a safe and appropriate way to restrain them?

This isn’t a one off incident either, there are countless incidents of police unjustly killing blacks. Yes, there are also senseless killings of others, but blacks are disproportionately the victims of police violence. White people don’t have to teach their kids how to stay safe around cops. That alone should clue people in that there’s a problem. The fact that whites frequently point guns at cops and live to tell about it, blacks never, should also clue people in that there’s a problem. And it’s not an unsolvable problem either. I’m not blaming white people, just asking them to see that police violence is a problem in America, or at least a symptom of underlying racism problems.

For one thing, police in the US are very poorly trained. And for another thing, the courts have given American police way too much leeway when it comes to police killings. The problem (police violence) is not being addressed. Most major cities budget millions every year to settle police brutality lawsuits. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just freaking train police not to use excessive force?

A lot of people are claiming that, OMG, why don’t they protest peacefully? A number of points to rebut that. First of all, conflating property damage with police killings is a bit of a stretch. If burning stores bothers the reader as much as George Flyod essentially being lynched by a cop, they might want to think about that. Given a choice between losing a loved one and losing a building, pretty sure most of us would choose the building. Making this comparison basically is saying black lives don’t matter much. Really?

Also, for God’s sake, peaceful protest was not exactly getting anything done. In fact Colin Kaepernick started just such a protest. His career was ruined and  he was widely reviled by the right for doing so. Even by the freaking vice president who basically spat on Mr Kaepernick for protesting peacefully:

Lastly, we really don’t know who is starting the fires and such. And no, I don’t believe it’s the deep state or other such conspiracy nonsense. There are however plenty of people unhinged enough to want to do such. Hard core anarchists, just plain criminals, and there’s always a lunatic fringe. Police riots actually are a thing too, I mean, the police aren’t exactly stepping up to the plate to fix “the bad apples,”, so it’s not out of the question that police might attack protestors. My point here, is that assuming blacks are all thugs and criminals just waiting to riot if the opportunity arises is, well, simplistic at best. Racist at worse.

Millions of people already stressed out about the country’s state of affairs are furious about George Floyd’s killing and countless others. That includes me, a freaking cop basically murders a guy in public, and three other cops present just watch?

Yes, the Amish are protesting.

Thugs is the new n-word. Trump isn’t helping by making threats and taking a hard line. This is not a Trump post though, let’s just say I don’t think he’s going to handle this crisis any better than he is handling Covid-19. The country has grave problems with police brutality, oppression,  racism, and inequality. This is what is underlying the protests. It’s not a law and order problem, it’s an injustice problem. No justice, no peace.

I know, a disjointed post. Disjointed times. Swinging between anger, tears, and depression. Not conducive to writing. Stay safe, stay sane everyone. A hopeful image to end the post on:

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The top image is white people lining up between police and black protesters. The others are self explanatory. I think all are public domain or otherwise bereft of copyright issues.)

Written by unitedcats

May 30, 2020 at 7:48 pm

NIGHTMARES

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Yeah, things are moving so fast that my old or standard style of blog posts become obsolete very quickly. So like the last post, I’m just gonna explore an aspect of my current thinking on Covid-19. 100,000 dead in the US now, I think that’s worth a comment. What’s to say though, to many people it’s a foreseeable global tragedy made worse by Federal government mismanagement. To the right it’s an unavoidable foreign caused tragedy that would have been much worse but for the Federal government’s action. I’m with the many, but if 100,000 dead doesn’t strike Trump supporters as a bit excessive considering other countries have held it to near zero, I don’t know what to say to them. If anything remotely like this had happened on Obama’s watch, the right would be howling for his blood.

So what happens now? At this point, who knows. We are truly through the looking glass at this point. Even the best and brightest can only speculate wildly now. Almost certainly, at least in the USA, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Deaths have plateaued in the US, and numerous states are re-opening. Trump is even saying if there is a second wave, he’s not going to close the country down again in the interests of “saving the economy.” Yeah, when the rich talk about “saving the economy” they mean “We can’t let the rich lose money no matter what.” And under Trump, the rich are doing just fine thank you. The rest of us, not so well.

However, with that caveat aside, here is my worst case scenario thinking. (Read the Onion for optimistic speculation.) I’m thinking while we have kinda gotten Covid-19 at a low boil so to speak, by now it’s everywhere in the USA. And to put it mildly, public education on how to avoid spreading the disease has been ghastly, with mass non-compliance to mask wearing and social distancing guidelines. And efforts at setting up good testing and contact tracing systems to prevent hot spots from spreading are spotty at best.  And we are nowhere near herd immunity, or having a treatment or a vaccine. And finally, wildly encouraged by Trump and the GOP, the entire country is going to “open up” and  relax social distancing.

Well, what happens when a bonfire has been lit, stops burning, smolders for a while, and then someone blows on it? Poof. I could see the Covid-19 death count explode as millions of Americans go back to church and other crowded indoor activities with minimal to non-existent efforts at mask wearing and social distancing, a national  reopening with a Covid-19 carrier in practically every crowd. We could hit 200,000 dead faster than we hit 100,000. And while I may be a pessimist, so far all but the most extreme pessimists have been right. Trump promised it was all going to go away right up until people started dropping like flies, now he claims to have a secret plan to end it if only he is re-elected.

And what will happen if the second wave is worse than the first? My fear is that Trump is unravelling. He’s been cancelling long standing international treaties, reopened the nuclear arms race, and just in general is being belligerent on the foregn and domestic stage. I don’t see this as helping, and I don’t see it as being a sign of considered thought. Shooting from the hip is good for carnivals, in a real gunfight it’s a foolish move. So all hell might break loose. I feel like the guys in the Tolkien meme. Tolkien had been through World War One, he’d been there.

For my part I’ll keep blogging, and keep urging people to mask up and practise social distancing. The masks are to protect other people, not to protect the wearer. Why people have a problem with keeping their fellow countrymen safe is a mystery to me. Nobody is being asked to give up their freedom, they are being asked to do their part to limit the spread of a horrible disease until we have a cure and/or a vaccine. And we could reopen safely, but that would require effective national government, which seems to be MIA at the moment.

And just for fun, writing this I realized there’s even an uglier possibility. Hey, exploring the darkness is what I do. Next post. Looking like an extemporaneous post every three days might be my plan for a while. Well, impromptu? On-the-spot? I love the english language, a word for every shade of meaning. Stay safe and stay sane everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Public domain image from Snappygoat, quote is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.)

Written by unitedcats

May 23, 2020 at 4:48 pm

IS TRUMP GOING TO GET RE-ELECTED?

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I dreamt I was at a big public celebration/event in Paris. Then it was announced that the USA was bequeathing Trump to France. That was the word in the dream, bequeathing, dream language can be quite odd. And the French promptly shut down the ceremony, they were not interested in taking Trump off our hands. I don’t normally dream about the world at large, but these are not normal times. And it’s a safe bet a lot of people are dreaming of ways to get rid of Trump. Nearly a hundred thousand dead of Covid-19 in the USA now, many Americans find that appalling, I know I do.

Yes, I know, this has turned into the Trump/Covid-19 blog. And if it was September of 1939, it would have turned into the Hitler/War blog. I say War instead of World War Two because few people we’re calling it World War Two until America entered the war in 1941. Semantics aside, the gentle reader presumably understands. It’s the times, Trump and Covid-19 dominate the news, so I’m rolling with it. This is a more speculative blog than usual, don’t worry, tons of bad news about the new polio in my next post.

First, Trump’s re-election. I see him pivoting now into an election winning schtick, and while he may be the worst president ever, he’s still a brilliant self-promoter. Let me explain how this is going to work. He got elected back in 2016 largely by promising to bring back an ‘America that never was’ to the majority of white people who think whites are a discriminated against minority in the US now. That’s a Trump supporter in a nutshell, someone who knew there were terrible problems in America, the good old days were gone, and here came a candidate who promised to bring it all back. They aren’t the majority of Americans by any chance, but there were enough of them to carry Trump’s MAGA parade over Clinton’s uninspired “I don’t need the flyover states” campaign.

Well, MAGA’s probably not going to work again, although Trump will sure emphasize the “truth” that before Covid-19 he had created the greatest economy the world had ever seen. And then along came Covid-19 because of the Chinese and WHO. So now what is Trump promising? If he gets re-elected, why, he will finish off the fight against Covid-19 and restore the economy! All his supporters have to do is get out and vote for him! Only Trump can save America from Covid-19!

Bear me out, yes, I’m saying that Trump is going to use Covid-19 to get re-elected. More accurately, he is going to use it to whip up his base even more fervently than in 2016.  This time he’s promising a return to a time people actually remember, not just some lost golden age. And there’s more, Covid-19 was caused by foreigners, and weaponized by the Democrats to make Trump look bad! And blue State governors! Yes, Covid-19 was part of the leftist plot to bring socialism to America, and destroy everything great about it in the process! Trump is going to save America from the very enemies the right wing outrage machine has been warning about for decades.

Gotta remember people, Trump’s supporters watch Fox News and other pro-Trump media, so they will back this all up. My point here, and I think I’ve made a strong case for it, is that Trump’s base may be even more driven to vote in 2020 than in 2016. So if anyone is going to beat Trump in 2020, they need to run a better campaign than Clinton did in 2016. Is this written in stone? Of course not. Anything can happen between now and November. The world we knew is gone. Or put in another way, it doesn’t matter how bad Covid-19 gets, Trump is going to spin it his way, and whoever beats him is going to have to do an even better job of motivating their base. Food for thought I hope.

We’ll see. Outside of the US, I am wondering if the world will split into two worlds. The Covid-19 world, and the non-Covid-19 world. There are countries that are getting Covid-19 under control and slowly re-opening their economies. It’s not rocket science, it’s just effective government working with epidemic science. And then there are countries run by people who distrust science and government, starting with the US. And in these countries Covid-19 will continue to circulate as they are fighting it with prayer and common sense. Reason and science trump those, but a lot of people are hostile to that idea. And the former countries are going to want to have as little to do as possible with the latter countries. So we could see an enormous sea change in global alignments over the next year, unprecedented since World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I dunno. Whatever happens, I plan to keep blogging on it. To cope with it all I have started working two days, then taking a day off. Off Social Media too. Just a day to rest and recharge my batteries. And so far, working like a charm. I got a tremendous amount done in the past two days, and today is the first day in months I had the concentration and motivation to sit down and write a blog post in one sitting.

Hoping that’s a good thing, and not like a candle brightening just before it dies. Comments and shares encouraged. Stay safe and stay sane everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook post, apparently stuff shared freely on social media is public domain. Made me LOL. Will remove or attribute as required if the copyright holder requests. A discerning reader provided the source for the image: New Study.)

Written by unitedcats

May 20, 2020 at 7:08 pm

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE

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I went to a local restaurant yesterday to collect a take-out order. I’m in rural northern Iowa. It was a nightmare. The building was crowded, three dozen people or more. Little to no social distancing. Not a mask in sight, even in the crowded kitchen where a bunch of guys were working cheek and jowl.  This was insanity. They had it covered however. Yes, they had a plan. There was a sign on the door: “If you have Covid-19 symptoms, don’t come into the building.” Right, brilliant, problem solved. All I could think of as I waited was the old movie line: “I see dead people.”

Normally it takes me several days to write a blog post. I collect a few links, comment on current events, all good. Not working anymore though, events are moving on so swiftly that something I write can become obsolete within hours. And then there’s keeping an even keel mentally. It’s like being on a sinking ship, and a lot of the passengers are refusing to believe it still. How can they, the captain and his crew keep telling them everything is under control. That would be the Donald.

Trump is planning to wind down his Covid-19 task force in the next month or two. His plan, if living in a self-serving fantasy world can be called a plan, is that the Covid-19 outbreak will wind down this summer, the economy will take off, and he will declare a great victory and be re-elected by a grateful American public. It’s up there with Mussolini’s World War Two plan to ride into Cairo on a white horse at the head of his conquering legions. Mussolini’s plan had essentially zero chance of success, which is about what I think of Trump’s plan. At least Trump has been consistent with his approach to Covid-19. Pretend it’s not happening, followed by pretend he’s handling it well, to be followed by pretend the economy has recovered. It’s going to be an interesting summer and fall.

I think it’s going to get vastly worse. I’m sorry I haven’t posted recently. I’ve been overwhelmed by it all. Not the pandemic, though that is ugly. No, overwhelmed that I am living in a country where the ruling party and its base are simply out of touch with reality. They think Covid-19 is all some sort of plot, and their freedom is threatened by even wearing a mask in public. Yes, it’s their right to walk into busy traffic without looking both ways. It’s a right I strongly suggest they don’t exercise. Not wearing masks and observing social distancing is the same as crossing a busy street without looking.

So I’ll see how this summer unfolds. I expect hundreds of thousands of dead Americans, while the US and world economy tanks. If I’m wrong and things start to return to normal this fall, I guess I’ll re-examine my world view and maybe vote for Trump. Stay tuned. Have a great week everyone, stay safe, stay sane. #StaytheFHome

Extra credit:

A pile-o-links I saved over the past week, in no particular order, with my commentary of the day.

A good read for those who see how Trump is failing: Live and Let Die.

So yeah, a lot of people aren’t getting it yet.

Sorry, Americans, You Haven’t Even Had a Real Lockdown Yet

One of Trump’s advisors declares victory, because, God? Science and reason might save us, thinking God will save us? Really?

An excellent article about the symptoms of Covid-19.

Americans really do want to shut down the virus.

I think you may be wasting freedom. Great read about certain protesters.

Hitler was incompetant and lazy, and his government was an absolute clown show. The discerning reader might appreciate this.

We are in a new danger zone. Ya think?

Another “This isn’t a flu” article. Covid-19 miscarriage.

Trump cuts research into Covid-19, wait, what?

A good overview of immunity and vaccines.

I will not die of stupid.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook post, assuming it’s public domain. Will correct attribution if so notified.

Written by unitedcats

May 10, 2020 at 7:06 pm

THE PHONEY WAR

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Being a student of history is particularly of interest in these troubled times. Late April, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic to be specific. A parallel that struck me to our times was the Phoney War in 1939/1940. It was called this because after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, while England and France declared war on Germany, there was no major fighting on the Germany/France border for months. The “Western Front” in World War One, where millions had died. There was one minor inconsequential action, and there was fighting in other parts, but for the most part the war hadn’t really begun yet. I’m sure a lot of people were like, phew, maybe this won’t be so bad. Do I need to even carry my gas mask to the grocery store? The horrors of World War One, millions dead, were still fresh on people’s minds, no one wanted to see that again. Calling it The Phoney War was in some ways reassuring to people I am sure.

Then in May 1940 Germany attacked on the Western front, defeating the French and English armies in ten days. By June victorious German armies were marching through Paris, photograph above. The Germans had accomplished in weeks what they couldn’t do in four years of bloody trench warfare in World War One. And yeah, it was no longer a phoney war; The Blitz, the German conquest of the Balkans, invasion of Russia, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor all followed apace.

Wait, the discerning reader may be thinking, why did France and England just sit and do nothing for half a year while Germany was busy invading Poland? Didn’t they have large armies, while Germany had only been hastily constructing its new army for a few years? Yes, yes they did. The Allies had more troops and tanks than Germany. And not only did they have more tanks than Germany, they were better tanks than the German tanks? German tanks couldn’t even penetrate the armor on the heavy British tanks!

Why not indeed invade Germany indeed? It’s a good question, and no doubt historians will be debating the finer points of it so long as there are historians. The main reason though was that an attack on Germany wasn’t part of the plan. In World War One Germany had marched through Belgium and invaded Northern France, causing death and devastation of almost unthinkable magnitude. No matter what happened, France wanted to avoid a repeat of that. So they had prepared for that scenario only. France built a huge and expensive fortified line along their border with Germany, the Maginot Line. And massed their armies to pour into Belgium to meet the invading Germans there. It was a good plan, they were well prepared for it, and by God they were sticking to it.

Unfortunately, preparing to refight the last war is generally, well, not the best idea. Normal human thinking though. We do have a hankering for the safe and familiar. I mean, the Allies “won” World War One, why would being even better prepared to fight it again be a bad idea? Well, and again the discerning (or historically informed) reader might know the answer, because the Germans decided that they were going with a new plan, since the World War One plan had been such a bloody failure. Between the Maginot Line and the open fields of Belgium was a huge rough forested region known as the Ardennes. The roads through it were few and poor, so it was only lightly defended by the Allies. Even if the Germans did attack there for some reason, the terrain would slow them down and the Allies could rush troops there to stop them.

So in May 1940 Germany attacked into Belgium, quickly breaching the fortified defenses Belgium thought would slow the Germans. (By using the world’s first parachute troops.) The French and British armies marched north into Belgium to meet them. The Germans, while attacking through Belgium in the north, mainly attacked through the Ardennes in the middle, north of the Maginot Line. And moving far faster than the Allies expected, for unlike them the Germans had concentrated their tanks into large formations that could move quickly and easily go around or through what troops could be mustered to stop them. In ten days the German tanks had reached the English Channel and the huge French and British armies in Belgium were surrounded. And cut off from supply, which is a death knell for modern armies. And the rest is history, as John Wade said in 1839.

Why do I compare The Phoney War to today? Because we’re kind of in a similar global situation. The declaration of a global pandemic in March was Germany invading Poland. And the Battle of France is yet to begin. People at the time knew things could get very ugly, though no one expected the horrors of the holocaust etc. Here in rural Iowa, some days I can almost hear it, a rising wind, the coming storm. Life superficially goes on as “normal,” but it’s not the same as the old normal. Like waking up one day and realizing the sky is still blue, but not the same blue one knew all their life. I digress. Some bad things are happening, now as then, but the big horrors, not yet.

I walked to the grocery store for the first time in months today, I may yet get some return to physical mobility, God* and physical therapy willing. It was really nice. Yet when I got to the store, I stopped in the parking lot to don my mask and deploy an alcohol wipe to treat my shopping cart. Sadly few people in the store were wearing masks, of the staff just the pharmacist, and he looked frustrated. Not normal, not happy. I bought beer though, I wonder how long I will be able to just walk a bit and buy beer?

We’ll see. History in the making, and it’s just begun. Stay safe and sane everyone. Comments and shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: German soldiers parade on the Champs Élysées in Paris, France, on 14 June 1940. Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-036-09A / CC-BY-SA Used legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Written by unitedcats

April 29, 2020 at 8:36 pm