Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

AMERICA THE BROKEN

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Always something on the news. The other day I saw something so grotesque it really hammered home how off the rails American society has become. From the Pentagon:

“The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, the demonstration squadrons for the Navy and Air Force, will fly over some cities together and others separately, according to the memo. The flyovers will take place in the next several weeks “to thank first responders, essential personnel, and military service members as we collectively battle the spread of COVID-19.” 

This can only be described as fetizization of the military illustrated. Bloated beyond belief military spending, including trillions on senseless foreign wars,  is a huge part of the reason health care in America is horrifically underfunded. So the Pentagon is going to waste another pile of money in tribute(!) to the very people in harm’s way because of our bloated military spending. To me this is just disgusting, wouldn’t the money be better spent on, well, almost fucking anything. Our overworked health care providers need PPE, not jets flying overhead. Shame.

On to Trump. I have only watched Trump a few times recently, he’s tiresomely repetitive. And one of the things he repeats regularly is that before Covid-19 the US had “the greatest economy the world had ever seen.” This is neither true, nor was Trump responsible for it. But given low unemployment figures and a skyrocketing stock market, Trump spun it into a sparkling tapestry of his own success. Watching him speak, I realize Trump surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear, and it’s easy enough for almost anyone to cherry pick facts and figures that make the economy appear good, so that’s where he gets his talking points.

Low unemployment means nothing in and of itself, a huge number of those jobs are pathetically low paying jobs with no benefits. The image at the top of the page says it all. In the post World War Two boom rising tides did raise all ships. This period certainly could be characterised as the greatest economy ever. Since 1980, the gains have gone increasingly to the people at the top. Trump has done nothing to  reverse this trend, if anything he has made it worse. Wealth inequality has reached historic highs under Trump, the rich getting ever richer at the expense of everyone else is not the greatest economy the world has ever seen, but it may be one of the most exploitive ones ever. The chart came from here, which lays this all out in great detail.

The other point is that Trump basically jumped onto Obama’s economic coattails, it wasn’t like the economy was a mess when Trump took office. He made the rich richer, but all the trends were all heading up anyhow. It’s not like the economic mess Obama inherited from Bush. And boy, sure looks like the next president is going to inherit the most messed up economy since FDR was elected in 1932. I don’t envy them whoever it will be.

The other reason it wasn’t the “greatest economy ever” is that it simply wasn’t. It was a horribly flawed economy designed to suck money upwards. Have come across a few good articles on the topic: Coronavirus didn’t bring the economy down — 40 years of greed and corporate malfeasance did. And another: COVID-19 Was a Trigger, But Capitalism Caused the Economic Crash. What can I say. A lot of people think the world order had big problems. Homeless camps exploded in the San Francisco Bay Area the past few years, never saw anything like it, and I lived there for decades. Hardly a sign of a great economy.

Yet, Trump and his supporters think the economy was the bestest. When I started writing this blog a decade ago, I very much tried to write in a way that was generic, and non-partisan. Granted on many levels I failed, but I own that. Still, I was trying to write to be accessible to people of all ideologies. And I still try, but it’s no longer differing ideologies. Now we’re talking about disagreement over facts. Trump and his followers believe things like “It was the greatest economy ever.” They also think he’s doing a great job with Covid-19, despite the USA somehow being the worst hit developed country. A lot of them still think Covid-19 is a hoax, or a plot to get Trump, or a Chinese plot to wreck the west.

I can only but keep trying. Hopefully things won’t get worse, but I’m underwhelmed by Trump’s response to crises. I’m not the only one. My big fear now, what if Trump loses the election? He’s shown a definite tendency to retaliate against his enemies. If he loses, he will have ten weeks to wreak vengeance on those who foiled his mission to Make America Great Again. He can’t fail, so if not reelected, it’s the nation that failed. Hate to make the comparison, but I think it’s germane now. In the waning days of World War Two, as Allied armies rolled into Germany, Hitler ordered a total scorched earth policy. If he was going to lose, he wanted Germany utterly destroyed. I fear Trump might feel the same way if he loses the election.

And this is why all my dreams these days are anxiety dreams. And why I’m not posting as much. I’m devoting huge amounts of time now preparing for a depression worse than the Great Depression. Stockpiling supplies while they are still available, planting an awesome vegetable garden. Among so many other things, who knew a worldwide pandemic and economic collapse would be so labour intensive? Oh, right, the people dying in care homes now. The people most lethally affected by Covid-19 are the ones most experienced with dealing with this kind of crisis.

That’s the sort of thought that makes me wonder if Satan or aliens are behind Covid-19. And by Satan, I mean someone who walks among us, but isn’t one of us. A topic for a more speculative blog post I guess. Have a great weekend everyone. Under no circumstances take the president’s latest health care advice, do NOT inject yourself with disinfectant. Stay safe, stay sane, #StaytheFHome.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image credit: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Used without permission, hopefully I can be forgiven as I am linking to and promoting their site.)

Written by unitedcats

April 24, 2020 at 4:31 am

“INTERESTING” IS MY NEW EUPHEMISM FOR “SCREAMING UNCONTROLLABLY”

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My chosen post title. As in we live in interesting times. Sigh. A distant relative just died of Covid-19. Starting to hit close to home. I never even met him, but was saddened beyond words. Every time someone dies humanity’s light shines a little less, and senseless deaths even more so. And mark my words, Covid-19 deaths are senseless, if we were an intelligent species outbreaks like this would be both rare and quickly shut down. Instead the planet is run by competing armed gangs more concerned with turf control and protecting the assets of the rich and powerful than the welfare of humans. Granted some are much better than others.

So much is happening so fast that these posts often are outdated before I publish, but I will soldier on. Always interesting and informatives links to share, though those can get outdated quickly too. More Americans have now died of Covid-19 than died in the Korean War. And we’ll pass the Vietnam War easily this week. Various points, after which I will review Monday’s White House briefing.

No, deaths are not being inflated by leftist health care workers. Shades of nonexistent voter fraud. Fox News and the White House are promoting this nonsense. I’d say it’s silly, but alas the right has spent decades priming people to believe “libtards” are nefarious creatures bent on destroying America, so it’s easy to come up with crap like this, and lots of people will believe. Also this is another horrible insult to the health care workers, but that’s the White House for you, insults substituting for rational leadership. If anything, the death toll is undercounted.

The big news today is people demonstrating to reopen various state economies. So I’ll just cover that. I guess encouraged by Trump, a bunch of Red States are gonna relax their quarantines. See above image. Yes, fringe groups are claiming that Covid-19 quarantines are infringing on our  freedom, curtailing our rights, and basically (yes, the claim has been made) are Nazi power grabs. Trump is encouraging them, he very much wants to get the economy going again. His re-election kinda depends on it.

I did try to watch Trump today, but after ten minutes of lies and bragging, I couldn’t take it anymore. He does have good writers, they carefully frame the “facts” in such a way to sound good. So Trump can sound off about how great everything is, and the press and the Dems are just lying about everything to make him look bad. If everything was great, no problem. I don’t think everything is great …

So only a few points. People claiming their rights are being curtailed by quarantine orders are, well, how to put it, full of shit? There’s no such thing as an unfettered right, all rights are things you are free to do if they don’t harm other citizens. Or more on point, the Supreme Court, you know, the actual fucking arbriter of rights in our constitutional republic, has repeatedly ruled that things like quarantine orders are constitutional. It’s not even debatable. Ordering people to stay home to prevent spreading a deadly disease is what governments are for, for God’s.

Well, we’ll see. Trump pretending Covid-19 was no big deal made the USA the world’s number one epicenter of Covid-19, and abandoning social distancing prematurely will likely have similar results. The only way to open up safely is to have massive programs in place to test people, and trace their contacts if they are infected. And the USA is nowhere near that, despite Trump’s cherry picked claims to the contrary.

So yeah, the shit show that is Trump’s America under Covid-19 is about to get worse. I’m seeing extreme stuff coming from all quarters. “They want to abandon social distancing, let em. Darwin will rule.” I’d be happy for a miracle now, but in real life that ain’t gonna happen. If there’s a God, it’s pretty clear it gave us the brains and resources to make Earth into a paradise. And if we chose not to, it’s our problem. “You break it, you bought it” is God’s number one rule.

Disjointed post. Things are changing at a speed unprecedented in my lifetime. Trying to make sense of it all. Current thinking: “Reality trumps ideology.” We’ll see whose ideology makes the grade. I don’t think any of them will. Things are not ever going back to normal, because normal was an exploitive crapfest. That the world economy collapsed because of an utterly predictable and preventable event shows it was a horribly flawed economy.

Wow, we may be witnessing a whole new era in human history. The next few months are going to be interesting. See post title. Freaking A. Stay safe, stay healthy. Shares and comments appreciated. #StaytheFuckHome.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

April 20, 2020 at 7:48 pm

WE’RE HOSED

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“We really are screwed, and so many people are not getting it yet. And much more so than just a pandemic. The whole world economy was finely tuned for one thing only, profit and exploitation. There was no slack to the system, and it’s all going to fall apart. It might well be worse than the great depression. It’s the end of an era, this fellow discusses it well. This isn’t just going to go away in a few months and everything will be back to normal. Nope, going downhill from here, the crazies will come out of the woodwork like so many demented cockroaches. They’ve already burned 5G towers in the UK based on the “theory” that Covid-19 is spread.”

I wrote that a few days ago. I think it’s understated now. Global civilization has been decapitated, the body will keep walking mindlessly for a bit, but it’s going to fall down soon. Everything is going to change. This isn’t The Great Depression or World War Two, it’s the Black Death or the Collapse of the Roman Empire. Yeah, I’ve always been Chicken Little, but maybe this time I’m right. I hope I’m wrong, change my mind.

In the near future here in good old America, it’s going to continue to get weirder every day. We will have Trump on TV constantly, increasingly disconnected from reality, claiming he has it all under control, blaming everyone but his administration for America’s Covid-19 disaster. That’s what’s going to get weird, the numbers of dead Americans are going to continue to spiral upwards, at what point will Trump’s supporters realize he doesn’t have a clue? I guess his plan is that Covid-19 will all blow over in a few months, he’ll claim it would have been much worse without his skills, and he sails into getting reelected claiming he saved a million American lives!

I don’t think it’s a particularly realistic plan, if hundreds of thousands of Americans die while the rest of the developed world keeps their death toll in the low ten thousands, wouldn’t people notice? Especially when their friends and loved ones die? Dunno though, once people become wedded to an ideology/religion, they can be remarkably resistant to changing their view. The historical precedents aren’t encouraging. By the time it gets so bad that core supporters lose faith, the damage is usually already done. Mussolini comes to mind. He’s actually a better Trumpian example than Hitler. Mussolini launched his legions against Britain in Egypt. Consumed by visions of riding into Cairo on a white horse as a conquering hero. It was a ridiculous fantasy. I’m guessing Trump’s reelection fantasies are equally absurd, but who knows.

So, speculation time. We’re through the looking glass folks. The only safe prediction is what sane people predicted at the start of WW1 and WW2: Who the hell knows where this will lead? The rise of authoritarian figures around the globe is a safe bet, details will vary. Pretty safe bet Trump and company will continue to transfer money and property to their corporate buddies, they were brazen about it before Covid-19, now they will pull all the stops out to give corporate America what they want. Which isn’t going to help the average American at all.

At some point I suspect Trump may use this as an excuse to further gut the social safety net. “Sorry, no more SSI, the government is broke.” No more Post Office. No more Medicaid. Any sort of election funny business is also a distinct possibility. No one can say they weren’t warned. And who knows, I don’t think Trump is above starting a war if he thinks it will improve his election chances.

So internationally, yes, gonna see some ugly stuff. Authoritarians are going to use the pandemic as an excuse/cover to seize power. A great time to settle old scores, widespread ethnic cleansing is a definite possibility. Israel might well use the Covid-19 collapse  as an excuse for the so-called transfer plan. IE simply kick the Palestinians out and annex the occupied territories. Could we see bigger things, like regional or even a world war? The former more likely than the later, but anything is possible going forward from here. There are still way too many nuclear weapons floating around too, best not to even think about that too much.

Writing about this is cathartic for me. I am certainly feeling a fair bit of stress and anxiety. And I’m fairly well set in a pretty safe place, I can’t imagine what it’s like in the front lines. I’ll try to end on a few positive notes. All things considered, a zombie apocalypse is extremely unlikely. The same for alien invasion, even less likely than a zombie apocalypse. So two less things the gentle reader has to worry about. Lastly, is the antichrist going to show up? It would sure seem like a good time. Nope. That’s because he’s already here, and doing just fine.

A few interesting links:

America is Committing Economic Suicide. Posits the stimulus is not even close to what we need to do.

The American South is screwed.

Trump the worst president ever! Well, a case can be made.

Burying people in parks, need more evidence we are in uncharted waters?

The Trump administration literally wasted two months before responding to the Covid-19 threat. I was freaking stocking up before the government acted on the issue. OMFG.

Linked above, worth a read, Trump really is a messiah to some people, here’s how he does it.

A long but interesting read about how this might all change things.

Lastly, the Prime Minister of the UK is in intensive care suffering from Covid-19. Anyone who is still thinking Covid-19 is a cold or flu needs to snap out of their shit.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane. #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Please share.

(Image: Public domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2020 at 7:51 pm

WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET

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Known world wide Covid-19 infections hit 200,000 cases today. It took nearly four months to hit 100,000 cases, and less than two weeks to hit 200,000. And the rate of expansion is even faster in the US. This is it folks, the Titanic is going down, the dam has broken, the, the enemy is at the gates. America is about to be overwhelmed (Well, pretty much every region on Earth, but I’m writing this specifically from my local perspective, the base reasoning is sound wherever) with huge numbers of sick people, far more than we have hospital beds for. So a lot of them will die. And on top of that the economy will tank as businesses are forced to close. It’s here folks, the global health and economic crisis of our lives. The Martians have landed, they’re real this time, and they’re winning.

What should have happened is that sometime in January our president would have assembled a crack team of pandemic experts, gotten their recommendations, and given them a blank check to put them into action. Instead, first he claimed Covid-19 was a hoax, then wildly downplayed it for weeks, since then was all over the place, and still hasn’t taken any coordinated meaningful action. The man isn’t capable of leadership, he’s a know-it-all who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes men, whose primary goal seems to be his image and propping up the stock market. His response so far has been confused and ineffectual, it’s up to states, counties, and cities to do what they can to save as many of their residents’ lives as possible.

So with no further ado, my thoughts on what states/cities/counties should be doing. If anything in here is contradicted by expert opinion, please let me know:

  1. Education, education, education: Every source I can find by pandemic experts, not to mention historians, is that clear and accurate public information is what people need. They need to know what’s happening, what’s being done about it, and what they can do about it. They need accurate scientific information untainted by religion, politics, or blame shifting. Most of America failed this test in 1918, it’s not too late yet for this crisis.
  2. And the very first thing to educate people about is social distancing. The most critical time to slow down Covid-19’s spread was weeks ago. No time machine exists yet, so now is the time for everyone to avoid social interactions and do whatever they can to both prevent catching and spreading the disease. We can’t stop the pandemic, but the more we flatten the curve now, the fewer people will die as the pandemic peaks in the weeks and months ahead. This is absolutely the number one life saving action we can take now to save the lives of friends and neighbors.
  3. Do everything possible free up/create hospital beds. This would definitely include turning things like sports and other arenas into temporary quarantine centers where the medical staff wear hazmat suits. There’s going to be a huge demand for hospital beds in the weeks to come, the more we can get sick people into them where they can’t infect others and can be treated, the more lives will be saved. People are dying untreated in hospital hallways all over the globe now, and will be soon in the US. The more beds we have, the fewer will die.
  4. A huge “meals on wheels” program to provide the elderly, the immunocompromised, and health care providers and their families  with what they need. The former because they need to be kept isolated as much as possible, the later because these people are going to be the 24/7 front line soldiers against Covid-19 and they will need all the support we can give them. Everyone, every government agency, needs to do what they can to support their local health care providers. I can’t emphasize this too much, this is an alien invasion, and our front line troops are our last best hope.
  5. Ramp up production/acquisition of the ventilator units that will be so vital at keeping people alive in the coming wave of sick people. The same for other required equipment, like masks and hazmat suits.
  6. Strict restrictions on how much vital product people can buy. And do everything we can to encourage hoarders to share their supplies with their fellows.
  7. Don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just the first time in most Americans’ lives where we are facing a national emergency. World War Two was the last, and 1918 the last one anything like this one. Life in America is never gonna be the same again, but if we pull together we can come out of this as a better nation on the other side.

A tremendous amount of the national response seems misguided to me. Yeah, everyone is going to need money soon, a check would help. However, checks aren’t going to save lives. A check isn’t going to put food on store shelves. A check isn’t going to magically create hospitals and medical staff. A check isn’t going to help granny if she’s dead. We need to be doing things to save lives now, not worrying about “the economy,” whatever that even means in times like these. Ideology, religion, politics are all freaking irrelevant now.

Lastly, since faith is big in America, hell, I’m an ignostic Episcopalian myself, it’s time tp “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” Prayers are no more going to stop Covid-19 than they stopped bombs raining down on Pearl Harbor. It’s time for people of faith to come together with everyone and do what has to be done, the few lost pastors telling their flocks to depend on faith to protect them are liars or lunatics. If God sent this plague to test us, it’s to tell us to use our God given brains and take care of each other. That’s God’s work now.

God bless, everyone have a safe and sane week. One last big shout out and thanks to our front line defenders, and all the people out there supporting them and trying to keep society running. If this was a Hollywood movie, in the credits scene we’d find out that real aliens in giant spaceships were about to invade

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy and share for educational purposes if properly attributed.

(Image: The Plague at Ashdod, 1631, painting.  Credit: Niccolò Possino 19594-1665. Public domain under most if not all Copyright Laws as the author has been dead for centuries.)

Written by unitedcats

March 18, 2020 at 1:38 pm

SCREAMING AT THE TV

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I watched the Biden/Bernie debate last night. I was literally screaming at the TV at one point. I said to my perplexed housemate, guess now you’re glad I don’t watch the news all the time? Yes, yes he is. It’s likely the neighbor’s are glad too. Apparently it’s genetic, my grandfather was known for flying into a rage watching the news. The item that earned the loudest screams, the debate moderator actually asked “Should China be punished or sanctioned because their initial response to Covid-19 was inadequate?” The Trumpian/neocon implication being that other countries should be punished by the US for doing what the US deems to be bad things? Who the hell made America the world’s policeman? And if we are going to talk about countries causing problems in other countries, the US has turned whole nations into failed states wreaking havoc across entire continents. So yeah, pot calling the kettle black, global style. And the idea that Covid-19 is a created bio-weapon requires layers of special pleading, so not likely. I’m losing my already shredded tolerance for propaganda. It never helps. Propaganda, not tolerance.

Well, if one ever wondered if something like Covid-19 would pull humanity together, the answer is pretty obvious. No, some nations are better than others, but turns out having a planet run on the “armed gang turf” model isn’t a good model for communal national response to a global emergency. Basically think of Covid-19 as an alien invasion, because that’s a pretty damn good analogy. It doesn’t care. And we’re squabbling among each other for the most part. Trump not exactly leading the charge for international cooperation in the face of this crisis.

Writing about this unfolding crisis is weird, thoughts and trends become irrelevant so quickly. I had more thoughts on the Bernie/Biden debate, but it’s already slipping away. Bernie thinks the Covid-19 crisis should force us to look at the problems in society that are making this such a disaster. Great, but it was preaching to the choir. Biden is the Democratic voice of corporate America, IE GOP lite. He sounded good though, he’s not senile yet. And the debate format clearly played to his neocon world view. At this point, who knows. Both could easily die of Covid-19 before the election. Reality bats last.

Yeah, it’s bad and getting worse. Last Friday my small rural Iowa town was mostly pretending everything is fine, in action (bars etc packed) and online. By today the tide was changing. The empty store shelves, Trump and the governor finally saying it’s an emergency. Too little too late I expect, it’s still exploding in Europe, and they were vastly more prepared for this than the USA. Oh, yeah, Biden at one point even said that Italy’s cradle-to-grave health care system had failed to prevent their outbreak, evidence that such wasn’t needed in the US. The “logic” in that is so frighteningly bad that yes, more screaming. We’re going to fare a lot worse than Italy, and our patchwork for-corporate-profit health care system is part of the reason.

Trump rated himself 10 out of 10 on his response to Covid-19, which is divorced from reality, but he believes it. At this point Covid-19 is looking like the worst pandemic since 1918, the worst depression since 1929. With Trump stridently claiming he’s got it under control the whole time, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is going to be like Hurricane Katrina, but national. Some of our friends and family will be dead before Christmas, barring a miracle.

Yes, so normal last week, peeps starting to freak out this week. Empty store shelves, limits on purchases. The first national disruption of my lifetime since the gas crisis of 73. And looking much worse than that already, though at least gas is in good supply. Yeah, fracking. I’m pretty stocked up, and have helped friends and neighbors already, because that’s why I stocked up. We’re all in this together.

In that vein, peace out to everyone I know, in contact with them or not. My estranged siblings, my friends old and new, Lars, Eric, Steve, my family, my readers, everyone. I’m at risk in the coming storm, if I go I want to be at peace with all. Even my mortal enemy, Anna-lisa Smoker. “You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a mortal enemy.” I’m quoting myself. I’ll try to make a near future post about the nuggets of supposed wisdom I’ve uttered or heard in my life. Might be my last chance.

So I had a bunch of links, most stale already. It’s bad people, not a hoax. And Covid-19 is worse because our system has failed the common good. This link is worth reading. And yeah, there’s a storm coming in. Hell of a thing. Take care everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook meme. Credit: Riker’s Beard? Used without permission, will gladly attribute or remove upon request as required.)

Written by unitedcats

March 16, 2020 at 6:52 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN: 21 FEBRUARY

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When it rains, it pours? I hurt my hip and have been crippled with pain for days, although it is getting better. Probably my drunken late night snow shovelling. And one of my oldest best friends is fighting for his life in the ICU, which hasn’t helped my state of mind any. So physically and mentally I was a wreck this week. Which, oddly enough, interfered with my writing. I’d say some day I’ll get the hang of being human, but at this point, maybe not. At least I’m secure in the knowledge that pretty much everyone is faking it, and the more outwardly successful they are, likely correlates nicely with how fake they are. I hung out with hippies for awhile in the eighties, and eventually noticed that the guys with the most hippie Zen Buddha personas … were the ones that beat up their girlfriends or otherwise had rage attacks. Same deal.

So writing, I’ve got at least two almost done posts that I am pleased with, but trying to finish them in my muddled state of mind and body would not yield happy results. So here I am winging it with another random post. We’ll get Trump out of the way first. I’m pleased to see that at least some in Washington have realized that attacking Trump directly is a waste of time. Deflecting deserved criticism is what con artists do best, and he’s the ultimate grifter pulling the con of the century. No, what they are doing now is goading him to overreact and start firing his staff. The latest silliness about Russian interference in our elections being a case in point. The truth of it doesn’t matter, it’s Trump’s reaction that matters. The more he goes all apprentency with his “You’re fired!” schtick, the more his administration will collapse from within. Just too bad they waited till now. Still, pass the popcorn.

In world news, the madness continues on all fronts. Popcorn sales in our neck of the galaxy are no doubt at historic highs. A racist loser shot a bunch of people in Germany because they had skin darker than him. He was an incel to boot. No surprise, anyone whose thinking process goes “I can’t find a girlfriend, so all women are fucked up” probably has disordered thinking in a number of areas. In this case leading to mass murder. Sigh. God rest their souls. In another case of multiple murder, a guy set himself and his wife and kids on fire in Australia. And a detective investigating the case has been relieved for saying the killer was “being driven too far by issues that he’s suffered”. Yeah, no, not a smart thing to say. It’s called victim blaming, it’s what abusive men say to justify their violence against their families. Sadly western culture promotes the idea of “righteous rage,” we need to address that, not use it to excuse acts of horror. Again, God rest their souls.

The Coronavirus continues to spread, though the death toll remains modest. I kinda think it’s with us to stay at this point, and at some point the annual flu shot will include the latest Coronavirus vaccine as well. No doubt driving the anti-vaxxers to new heights of child killing. Anti-vaxxers are my least favourite type of science denier, though I suppose in the end it’s the climate change deniers who will get more people killed. There at least some people are promoting it to make piles of money, greed is a powerful motivator. I’m not quite sure what drives the anti-vaxxers, but I’m sure there is scientific speculation.

On February 21 in history, a few odds and ends. In 1885 the Washington Monument was finally completed, 37 years after construction began. It’s the world’s tallest predominantly stone structure, and for a few years was the world’s tallest structure. Predominantly stone …in other words, sooner or later there will be a modest earthquake in Washington, and down it will come. So if you’re ever in the vicinity of the Washington Monument and an earthquake starts, run away! You want to be the person taking the video of it falling, not the people being crushed in the video. Another helpful safety tip from Doug’s Darkworld, I do what I can.

In 1918 the last Carolina Parakeet died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo, 4 years after the last Passenger Pigeon died there.  I could probably make some morbid joke about the connection, but I’ll leave that to my regular readers. We killed them of course. There’s at least a possibility it could be brought back existence, there must be similar birds that could bear their eggs. And there’s still wild habitat, it was a very widespread bird. Since it’s flesh was often poisonous, cats would die after eating one, I’m surprised the cat haters haven’t started a gofundme. Or maybe they have, the idea of reviving them has been thought about.

I guess that’s another safety tip, if the gentle reader takes their cat time travelling, don’t let it eat any Carolina Parakeets. As for future historians and time travellers wondering what was up with us wiping out entire species, my bad, we’re really sorry. Have a great weekend everyone, please share.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Baltic Sea at Kolka Cape Credit: Italas at Lithuanian Wikipedia. Released into the public domain by same. The image came up when I searched  <rage> on Snappygoat, it just looked so nice compared to the Arctic wasteland outside my windows I thought I’d share.)

Written by unitedcats

February 21, 2020 at 9:33 am

IOWA’S CAUCUS TO NOWHERE

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OMG. Well, glad I went to bed at ten. Never dreamt the “technical issues” would still be delayed as of this AM. My take now: It’s over, the DNC is determined that stopping progressives is more important than winning back the White House. Four more years of Trump coming, or maybe a corporate shill like Biden. Sigh. I hope I’m wrong.

That was my first impression (unedited) when I woke up this morning and saw that the Iowa Caucus results were still unavailable. I caucused, for one of those rare times in life I was in the midst of an historical event. An event that’s still going on. So I’m going to write about it as it unfolds.

My local caucus seemed badly run to me, but I’m sure nothing out of the unexpected. It’s the only Iowa caucus I’ve ever been to, so no standard of comparison. They were using a “new system,” something we had been warned about as the date approached. We as in local campaigners and volunteers trying to get out the vote for our candidate. We went, we caucused, we came home. We turned on the TV. I went to bed or so leaving a room full of Bernie volunteers (who were edgily confident of victory before the caucus) to talk among themselves and watch talking heads on TV trying to say something non insipid (increasingly failing) as they awaited the official results.

I went to bed because I’m not much of a party guy. I’m not going to have anything to say in a room full of excited Bernie supporters watching the caucus fail to unfold. I would have excused myself from a Superbowl party for the same reason. I did occasionally hear people talking all night long, and wondered what was still happening. And here I am, 520am Central Time. Still waiting.

Second impression: I think this means one of two things. Hopeless incompetence on the part of the DNC, because this looks really bad. The GOP base must be going nuts with glee and finger pointing about the silly stupid liberals. Or worse, this was a designed strategy to spike the progressive surge in the Democrat base, the people who want the DNC to go back to representing workers, unions, and regular Americans.

I haven’t read anything past the BBC headline linked above. My thinking will evolve while events unfold today, I’m going to wade into the sh*tstorm that must be going on in social media. Like jumping into a shark cage during a feeding frenzy, it’s for science! And informing my readers. So this is a “live” post. Have a great day everyone, don’t let the crazy get you down, I’ll be back, I will update later today.

8:11 AM Tuesday 4 Feb Update

It’s like being a passenger on the Titanic. Well, maybe not that extreme. Like the Romans watching when Emperor Commodus decided he was a God he fought in the colosseum. Well, not quite. It’s like anyone in history who looked around and said, sheesh, this is really happening, isn’t one? The first big lesson, reality bats last. Another historical event no one saw coming. People that claim to predict the future are full of it. People who claimed to have predicted the future just got lucky. Yet one or two good hits and one can make a career out of “predicting” the future, be it as a medium, a pollster, or what have you. People are just that eager to believe the future can be reliably predicted.

Still no results. Various campaigns are releasing their own numbers. The right is chortling about Democrat incompetence. Democrats are all over the place, though certainly seeing plenty of people convinced this is deliberate for some as yet anti-progressive purpose. IE Biden got clobbered, and the DNC is desperate to cover that up. I dunno, could just be a combination of things, incompetence figuring in there somewhere. It could be the beginning of the end for the Dems 2020 hopes, it could blow over in a few days. Then there’s this, 600-Pound Butter Cow Sculpture Wins Caucus. From 2012, but still relevant.

Part of this stems from the fact that the Dems platform since Reagan has been “We’re Not the GOP!” A pretty hard place to generate excitement from. This all does reinforce my thinking that the election campaign has as much relevance to the average American as the Superbowl. It doesn’t really matter who wins so long as everyone attends the game. On the other hand, Trump has really hurt some friends of mine in very real ways like denial of medical care. That’s new in my experience, the first administration in my life actively hostile to large numbers of Americans because of who they are.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Meena. Founder of RAWA, the Revolutionary Alliance of the Women of Afghanistan. I was planning on writing about her today, a lot to unpack there. The gentle reader never heard of her? That’s one of the many things to unpack. God rest her soul, I support her cause and goals.

Maybe more on Meena and RAWA later. Back to caucus hell.

10AM, Tuesday 4 Feb Update

Well, it’s over. Trump wins. We’ve gone beyond clusterf*ck now, they could have tallied up the results on their fingers by now. What a gift for Trump on the day of the SOTU (State of the Union Address.) I imagine some bizarre alternate reality now where the caucus results won’t be announced until the eve of the election. I joked with friends about Trump cancelling the election and we could all relax and go home. Never dreamt the DNC would be the one handing the election to Trump on a silver platter. Also remember a lot of people wondering why the Iowa caucus was such a big deal. The same reason getting out of the starting gate in a race is a big deal. Gonna be an interesting campaign if this is any indication, the way watching a train wreck in slow motion is interesting. Jesus wept.

11:30AM Tuesday Feb 4

Three more points as we wait, still, for the caucus results to be announced. I remember friends positing that the raft of Democratic candidates (There were three in the 2016 caucus, and only two counted) was a deliberate attempt to siphon votes away from Bernie so that Biden, the anointed establishment candidate, would quickly emerge as the front runner. Seems far-fetched, but secret deals in smoke filled rooms have always been a hallmark of American politics. If not all politics. If that’s the case, boy, it blew up in their faces spectacularly. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Biden’s performance was anything less than disappointing. I don’t think the DNC really understands how much the average American wants real change, not just more empty promises. And Biden is about an empty a promise as it gets, especially since his promises come down to “I won’t rock the boat!” Dudes, the boat needs rocking, that’s why Trump won in 2016.

Also reminded of times I pointed out that Clinton’s loss to Trump pretty much showed she couldn’t run an effective campaign. Loyalists insist it was anything from sunspots to invisible Russian trolls. Well, the DNC just demonstrated they can’t even run an effective state caucus! And this is the party that’s going to beat Trump? Not off to a good start.

Lastly, I feel so bad for all the staff and volunteers in every candidate’s campaign. They put in huge amounts of effort and enthusiasm into their chosen candidate. And as the hours drag by, it more and more seems like it was all one giant waste of effort. Even when the results are announced, I seriously doubt it’s going to be too little too late. One or two candidates needed to make a strong showing so others would start dropping out and the leaders could start to pick up momentum. Instead we have this:

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This is not going to end well. Sigh.

Last update, Tuesday night, 4 Feb 2020

They started to release results. Buttigeig leads, Sanders in second, Biden in a distant fourth. All kind of irrelevant, the damage is done. Now off to watch The State of the Union Address. Taking one for the team so to speak. I’ll blog on that tomorrow.

Comments and shares appreciated!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Public domain image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 4, 2020 at 4:37 am

WHY I’M VOTING FOR BERNIE SANDERS*

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*This post will likely piss off everyone. It’s what I do. What can I say, it’s a gift. Note, first off I didn’t say I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and when I say vote, I mean caucus for. That’s right, I live in Iowa, where my primary vote actually means something. Muhahaha! Sorry, got carried away; it’s all the cornfields, they get into one’s dreams. So I will caucus for Bernie. I’m not quite sure what caucusing is, but afterwards I will blog about it. Who I will vote for in the general election, it depends on who’s running I suppose.

So yes, why? Why is someone who mutilated ballots in old elections and whose last act of political activism was protesting against Jane Fonda in the seventies, why am I now doing stuff for Bernie Sanders? Because Bernie Sanders is talking about the real issues destroying America. Wealth inequality, climate change. And our insanely aggressive imperialistic foreign policy.  And health care for all is a no brainer, literally everyone wins. All of which I am happy to defend logically. And he’s consistent, unlike faux progressives like the Clintons or Obama, Sander’s life history is actually progressive. Plus a lot of my dear friends are enthusiastic Bernie supporters, that has to count for something, right?

That being said, essentially I see my Bernie support as a version of “voting for the lesser evil.” I’m a cynical old SOB, Clinton and Obama both made all sorts of progressive promises, then delivered to the Pentagon and the bankers. I’d like to believe Bernie is different, and I do in the sense I’m happy to caucus for him and provide logistical support for his local campaign efforts. In the sense that I’m a Bernie fan, nope, I suspect he’s as much a part of the system as any other career Washington politician. He just comes from a local political background where being progressive is harmless. And just to recap, yes, I am a cynical old SOB.

I also think the American governing system is so controlled by special interests, oligarchs, what have you; that even if Sanders gets elected, he will be effectively paralyzed by a largely uncooperative congress. And then the GOP will make hay claiming it’s now proved that progressive policies don’t work. Depressing, the Trump junior as president alternate reality. I mean, the Bushs managed a presidential dynasty, why not the Trumps? On the other hand, I can imagine a world where  Sanders is sincere, manages to get a few policies up and running, and the results speak for themselves. A man can dream, right? On the gripping hand, I can  imagine a world where Sanders gets wellstoned.

A few other observations. The campaign in general is just another example of how stinking wasteful America is. Staggering amounts of time and money are being poured into a “campaign” that is essentially non stop now. Such a waste of time, energy, and money. Granted, waste is a part and parcel of modern America, but it seems to be much worse now than back in my day. And widespread waste in a society where so many are wanting seems to be a symptom of, well, something bad.

The other observation is just how far the political reality gap is these days. I saw a FOX news snippet where the newscaster called Sanders and Warren “two commies.” No people, Sanders and Warren aren’t communists. America does have a communist party, but its heyday was before World War Two, it has maybe 10,000 members now. Sanders and Warren aren’t socialists either. Again, there is an actual American socialist party, but they too are a shadow of what they once were. We essentially have one political party with two factions, but they play this game where the other party “is going to destroy America.” No, neither the Dem base nor the GOP base want to “destroy America.” Get a hold of yourselves people.

Oh, yeah, go Bernie!

And lastly, my life lately has been a perfect storm of intersecting global and personal issues, which has interfered with writing. On the plus side, the older I get, the easier it is to deal with crap.

Have a great weekend everyone. Remember, any day you wake up in the morning is a good day.

Comments welcome.

(Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image: Bernie Sanders with cat, photoshopped image. Credit: The whole story here, claiming Fair Use under US copyright law. Go cats, Go Bernie!)

Written by unitedcats

January 17, 2020 at 7:52 pm

SPACE FORCE, THE FINAL BOONDOGGLE

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I had an interesting experience this morning. A Jew and a strong atheist mansplained to me that I was not a Christian. It was a remarkable and sad experience. Remarkable, because I am a Christian, but since I don’t fit their definition of Christian, that magically makes me not a Christian. No different than someone telling me what my gender or sexual preferences are. Things that I would know. And they both consider themselves open minded people. When one insists that other people conform to their world view, that’s not open minded. A failing not limited to evangelicals and MRAs.

Also today, I had to lift a fifty pound sack and haul it around. It was surprisingly easy, I wasn’t sure why. It’s not like I have been lifting weights. I then realized, oh, right, I’m not running around with forty extra pounds strapped to my waist anymore. Somehow I think these two items are related somehow. Probably because I am still getting rid of stuff, and still trying to separate my social beliefs from my evidence based beliefs. It’s all tied together. At least for me a cluttered life is a cluttered mind.

Washington continues to career along. As the above illustration shows, papers which in almost any other country, especially parliamentary democracies, would bring down the government, are flying pretty much under the radar here. Many of us figured out long ago that Afghanistan was a mess and short of sending in hundreds of thousands of occupation troops, or nuking it into a parking lot, either of which have significant downsides and would likely create worse problems, nothing like victory was possible. A trillion dollars and frightening amounts of blood and the country is more of a mess than ever. Afghanistan too. In Washington though, no one is ever wrong, and no one is man enough to admit failure, so 18 years on our war of choice on the other side of the world drags on. Made and making a tiny handful of Americans even more obscenely rich, it’s not like that trillion dollars was invested in Afghanistan. Jesus wept.

Also in Washington, Congress funded another bloated Pentagon budget, including Trump’s “Space Force.” Since the Space Force is yet another  vehicle to transfer more taxpayer money upwards, I guess it’s appropriate. Sigh. I sigh a lot lately, when I’m not screaming in dismay. We already have too many branches of military service, adding another just increases the expense, internal politicking, and waste in the military. Not even mentioning the fantastic impetus to global arms race a space force will engendre. It’s pretty clear this is an ego and vanity driven idea too, since the military is against it for one. And under international law there are extreme limitations on military operations in space, so it’s not even clear what such a force would do. Details, details I guess.

To paraphrase, a trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money. Sigh. At the core that’s the second main reason why our post World War Two spending is insane. Our country’s rotten infrastructure, education, and health care is embarrassing for the so called greatest country on Earth. In those respects we were once the envy of the world. And this is all because trillions of dollars have been spent on a military bloated beyond reason and endless colonial wars. Well, and trillions in tax breaks for the rich and corporate America.

Lastly, I’m having health issues, so some posts are going to be delayed from time to time. Sometimes scheduled writing time turns into miserable suffering time. And since I’m not really from California, I don’t feel compelled to share any more on that topic. Don’t worry younger readers, you’re not missing out. If you get old you too will spend half your time listening to friends’ medical complaints. The other half suffering your own. Old age is its own worst enemy.

Have a great weekend everyone. Comments, questions, and as ever, shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. Will attribute or remove as needed  if so informed.)

Written by unitedcats

December 13, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Posted in afghanistan, Personal, Trump, War

WUT R WERDS

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In other words, the post I was working on isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to wing it this morning. There’s always something to write about, old or new. I’m watching an old movie for example, ‘Dances with Wolves.’ I tried to watch it when it came out, and couldn’t plod through it all. Not enough explosions for my younger self maybe? Halfway through now, and plodding definitely covers it. Plus somehow Kevin Kostner makes my skin crawl now, that’s a new experience. I will finish and report on by Monday. Two other famous (in their time at least) movies I couldn’t get through were ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Amadeus.’ I don’t believe I will be reattempting them, unless I lose a bet I suppose.

In India four men were accused of raping and murdering a woman. Made the news big time. Then the police took them to the scene of the crime for some reason, where they attempted to escape and were all shot and killed by the police. Rejoicing and celebration in the streets. That’s at least the gist of it from what I can tell. Well, they won’t be raping anyone else. Not sure really what to think of it all. Sort of sounds like an extrajudicial execution, I mean really, all four? I hope they were guilty, sort of, what an odd thing to hope for. Violence against women does appear to be a major problem in India, although it’s pretty much a problem everywhere. My only cogent thought on this is that I simply don’t know enough about India to have cogent thoughts about this. Other than rape is one of the ultimate evils, and it’s often treated far too lightly in the west. The story just got me, and a lot of people I suppose.

In other unfinished business I really tried to get through the Longmire books. I really liked the show. I liked the characters in the books too, but every book introduced a new cast of secondary characters. Worse, each book, at least the last two, used a narrative style where the damn book was half flashback. Two stories intermingled into one, sometimes each with its own cast of secondary characters. I finally gave up, I couldn’t keep  track of who was who when and where and what now. And wasn’t that a tortured turn of phrase, but it expresses how I feel. The dent in the wall where I threw the last book also expresses it.

An anti-vaxxer has been arrested for mass murder in Samoa. I wish. No, but he was arrested for ‘incitement against a government order.’ Samoa is in the midst of a measles epidemic that has killed 63 so far. Samoa has a population of about 200,000, about the size of Salt Lake City, so 63 deaths is a big deal. And anti-vaxxers spreading lies about vaccines are playing a huge negative role. This guy was telling people that vaccines are dangerous, and measles can be cured with vitamin C and papaya leaf extract. Right.

Worse, the anti-vaccine movement is getting more militant and effective in their global campaign to bring back deadly diseases humanity vanquished long ago.  Here’s the whole Samoa story in great detail, it’s freaking infuriating. I’m starting to wonder if the anti-vax movement is secretly run by extraterrestrials seeking to quietly depopulate the Earth. Probably a science fiction B film in there somewhere. More likely though it’s what most human failings can be attributed to. We’re not really an intelligent species.

And since its Friday, I’ll end on a positive note. A cute animated story about a little girl who writes a letter to Santa. Aw. But misspelled it ‘Satan.’ Uhoh. It goes downhill from there. Enjoy it here.

As always, remarks, queries, and, well, thesaurus.com couldn’t come up with a good synonym for shares. All still enjoyed and acknowledged. Enough lame thesaurus jokes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Tweeter or Tumblr thescalexwrites? Maybe this fellow? Used without permission, but since it’s floating around Facebook I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

December 6, 2019 at 9:42 am