Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

COVIDIOCY RAGES ON

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Covid rages on. I was feeling maybe it was odd to post yet again about Covid, then I realized that’s BS thinking. The Covid pandemic the worst mass death event of my life, the third or fourth worst mass death event in US history, killing more than a thousand people a day still. World War Two only killed about 200 people a day, Vietnam only about 10 per day, and those were top daily news for the duration. That a huge number of Americans and their chosen media/political spokespeople want to pretend Covid is no big deal or it’s almost over is their fantasy, no need to let it infect my thinking.

Officially the US death toll is approaching seven hundred thousand. That’s nearly one American in every five hundred dead. Most of us have lost a friend or loved one to Covid. Unofficially, and in reality, the death toll is around one million dead. That’s because a lot of Covid deaths go unreported, and more importantly, the strain on a health care system overwhelmed with Covid patients means people die because they couldn’t get treatment, this fellow being a good example: Veteran Dies Of Treatable Issue Because ICU Beds Are Filled With COVID Cases. One million dead Americans. How can that not be the top of the news while the pandemic is still raging? Beats me, I chalk it up to a normal human impulse to pretend everything is fine, especially when urged on by their political and religious leaders to think everything is fine.

In many ways it comes down to people not wanting to listen to the experiences of others. This is a fine take on it, including the terrible price paid by so many public Covid and vaccine deniers (Spoiler, they died of Covid:) Leonard Pitts Jr.: The wisdom of experience is a priceless gift … that many spurn. Or as a young friend once put it: “Never give advice. Fools won’t heed it and the wise don’t need it.” She was paraphrasing Ben Franklin, a wise man if there ever was one. A couple other cases just for fun: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus and QAnon conspiracist dies from COVID-19 he called a hoax to the very end.

On the plus side, Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers are dropping like flies. At this point I have zero sympathy for people who die of Covid because they refused to get vaccinated or otherwise take precautions against Covid. Covid is getting more dangerous: New strain in deadly delta variant surfaces after 53,000-person festival: report. Sadly a lot of people who were taking precautions are dying now, have since the beginning, since the anti-vaxxers and their ilk make the situation worse for everyone, especially when in positions of power: Florida police departments rocked by 29 COVID deaths as DeSantis bungles pandemic response. Basically as Covid mutates into more dangerous forms America’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Getting More Dangerous.

And frankly some people are getting tired of it: It’s time to listen to the ‘adults’ and ignore those who refuse the COVID vaccines: national security expert. I’m certainly tired of it. Mandatory measures to protect public health are perfectly reasonable. It’s kinda the whole effing point of civilization. The rest of the world is getting tired of it too: Covid: EU recommends new travel restrictions for US as cases rise. Sadly while many US states are doing everything they can to fight Covid, some aren’t, and Covid deaths will continue. One has to wonder where we’d be if concerted national efforts to fight Covid had been launched from the get go, at the very least a lot fewer Americans would be dead.

It’s just weird living in a country where rampant stupidity is the norm in some quarters: Shane Vaughn Claims COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Work Because The US Is Under God’s Judgment. First of all, the vaccines work just fine. The vast majority of people catching Covid in the USA now were unvaccinated. Secondly, what is it with Evangelicals and their obsession with what consenting adults do with their genitals? Frankly it’s a perverted obsession, especially the idea that some sort of “supreme being” is also concerned about it. One would think any sort of loving God would be concerned about murder, rape, and children being molested; not gay people having sex.

Speaking of imagining a God concerned about weird things: ‘Get a Brain’: Hank Kunneman Warns of Dire Consequences if Trump Is Not Reinstated. Um, not even sure where to start. Trump, the most unpopular president in modern times, lost his reelection bid. Not debatable, but that doesn’t stop Trump and his supporters continuing his “the election was stolen” lie.  I think that’s one of the things I most hate about Trump, he’s completely normalized politicians lying through their teeth. Like this whopper: Lindsey Graham: ‘Whose decision was it to pull all of the troops out… I just don’t know’. Of course he knows, it was Trump that signed the deal with the Taliban to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

The theory that I died in my fall two and a half years ago and the ever increasing ignorance, stupidity, lies, death, and confusion since is just some sort of Donny Darko madness in my dying brain seems more credible all the time. What can I say, dark depressing times both in the nation at large and what’s left of my personal life. Fun times. Have a great week and stay safe everyone, especially those in Louisiana.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit: This Is Fine creator explains the timelessness of his meme.)

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2021 at 5:01 pm

WHAT DO AIS AND DATING SITE SCAMS HAVE IN COMMON? PLUS JUNE 22ND

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So I’ve been checking out some dating sites lately. They’ve come a long way since I last looked. And I’ve been there the whole time, I did computer dating in the late 1970s. And that was one computer nerd who wrote a program and advertised it locally, in Davis, USA. Worked for me, it hooked up my housemate to a girl I dated for years, was friends with for decades. Now, it’s much more sophisticated. And the scammers are as well. Well, scammers and sex workers. Neither of which I have a problem with. Hey, poor people in the second and third world want to scam gullible Americans out of their money, go for it. And sex workers can’t advertise openly and safely because this is Kristian Amerika, so they have to do so subtly on dating and rental sites. I digress.

So seeing as I have no interest in sending money to scammers or seeking the services of sex workers, I need to figure out how to filter out same. The sex workers are pretty easy, if their pics involve T&A shots with a sparse profile looking for hookups: sex worker. The scammers, boy, they have gotten a lot more sophisticated. The best ones have very real looking profiles. And when messaged, the responses can be well written as well. They tend to have a cut and paste look though, IE neat message, but only superficially at best a response to my prior message. And when I suspect a scammer, I ask a very specific question. Or better yet, say something completely nonsensical. Jeez, sent a nonsense response to one, got an obvious cut and paste message to the effect of “Wow, thanks for sharing that information with me.” Busted.

So, I realized I am essentially running a variant of the Turing Test on possible scammers. The Turing Test is basically the idea of interfacing with a subject via text exchange and determining if it is a human or a computer. Brilliant concept really, because it doesn’t concern itself with whether a computer can become conscious and self aware, it limits the question to, can a software program fake human responses enough to fool humans?

And we’re real close folks. We are close to the point where it’s going to be hard to tell if we are interacting with a person or software. Phone a business, will one be talking to software or a person? And think about this. How many professions are essentially ‘talking to people?’ The ones that can run remotely, a Zoom image or whatever works as well. The image of a person on a video feed is just pixels on a screen, all manipulable by software. AIs are going to put a lot of people out of work, every telemarketer on the planet for starters.

As for pixels on a screen, that’s what movies and TV series are, right? So why couldn’t an AI create movies? It’s just a more sophisticated chess calculator. Or series. There have to be an infinite number of possible ‘Simpsons’ episodes, right? So why couldn’t software write new ones? Think of it, every TV show or movie the gentle reader ever liked available with countless computer generated sequels/episodes. Young Sean Connery could star in thousands of James Bond films. Peeps will be able to buy software that will create movies or series to order.

Will this happen soon? IDK, technology was running ahead of application during the US Civil War, the gap has increased since then. Is there as yet some human component to creativity that AIs won’t be able to surpass? Maybe. One thing we can say for sure about the future, no one has ever accurately predicted it.

The past though, we can see how predictions went wrong. June 22nd 1941, eighty years ago today, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the greatest invasion in history. Tens of millions would die as a result. Exactly three years later, June 22nd 1944, the Soviet Union launched Operation Bagration. AKA “The Destruction of Army Group Center.” Germany’s Army Group Center. The greatest defeat ever suffered by Germany, and the fifth bloodiest campaign in European history. No one predicted that, most thought that Germany would easily conquer Western Russia, and who knows what would happen then. A crushing German defeat with Soviet Armies steamrolling to Berlin three years later, couldn’t happen.

Could an AI have written that plot? Maybe. Did an AI write that plot? Could we be living in a 23rd century computer game program on some kid’s Qpad? Am I a software routine writing a blog that will only be read by other aps? And do we evolve as a result? Hell if I know, but I’m going to explore the idea more.

So, yes. My blogging has been limited because of … personal … issues. I think I’m going to write about speculative weirdness to see if I can break through my writer’s block. Stay safe and sanish everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two destroyed German tanks during Operation Bagration, including dead German crew members. There are still people alive who remember the horrors of Germany’s invasion of Russia. I can’t imagine what they lived through. Credit: Unknown, public domain image under all known copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm

TEN WAYS WE’RE EFFED

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I’ve had a hard time blogging recently. Writer’s block. Stress in my personal life is one reason. Not helping. That’s just the background noise though. No, the real reason is more general. I’m extremely pessimistic about the state of the world, and the state of the USA in particular. In many senses I’ve always been a doomsday prophet, but the 21st century has moved into a whole new universe compared to my worrying about nuclear war in my younger days. So how do I write about this? Ten reasons I’m pessimistic about now. Who knows, hopefully this will be cathartic:

  1. The rich keep getting richer and more powerful. The upward transfer of wealth in America and the world accelerated under Covid. In other words, price gouging is at the heart of the global economic system. What are people going to do when the last dollar in America is in some rich person’s or corporation’s offshore account?
  2. The Cold War continues. The Cold War was stupid proganda to justify endless American war making and war spending from the beginning. The new Cold War is even crazier. China isn’t trying to take over the world, Russia isn’t trying to destroy the west.
  3. The War on Terror was a colossal fail. By every metric the War on Terror has massively increased global terrorism. War is the least effective way to fight terrorism. And yet here we are, bombs away, with nary a hint of protest.
  4. We forgot the lessons of Vietnam. This is a codicil to number 3:  Opinion | The Pentagon Papers’ Lessons Went Unlearned – The New York …
  5. Science denial is rampant. This is bizarre. When I was a kid and young person most people understood that science and reason were the shiznit. Now actual supposed adults in positions of power embrace voodoo nonsense … and they get more popular. Go figure.
  6. The Christian right wants to seize power. A third of the country wants America to be forced to live under their Old Testament take on reality.
  7. The GOP’s massive ongoing voter suppression, protest suppression, history suppression, and rights suppression campaign (abortion and LGTB rights.) The actual cancel culture.
  8. No independent media. When I was young the mainstream media was independent, even if they did try to influence politics. Not anymore.
  9. Climate change. It’s real, humans are causing it, efforts to mitigate it are still “too little, too late.” Fossil fuels are the most profitable extractive industry ever, but the costs are wrecking our world.
  10. AI, homemade doomsday devices, etc. In my lifetime (knock on wood) there are any number of potential technological advances that could lead to doomsday. It’s my answer to the Fermi Paradox, our form of life is ultimately self destructive, an evolutionary dead end.

And I’m sure I missed a few. The continued glorification of the Confederacy and white washing of American history. UFOs. Nearly half of Americans believe dinosaurs still exist. Yeah, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we are about to slide into some Golden Age. Snort. Biden will be the Pertinax of our time more likely. (Pertinax was a sane senator who became Caesar after the death of a crazy Caesar. His reign only lasted three months before the corrupt praetorian guard murdered him.)

On the plus side, a lady I like called me “Sweetie” today. Objectively there is no future relationship, but it made this lonely old guy feel good. Have a great week everyone.  #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found somewhere, possibly Public Domain, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm

MEMORIAL DAY

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wars. The US has been at war 222 out of 239 years. More than 92% of its existence. And even that’s an under count, there really was no peace during the 19th century because of ongoing efforts by individuals and state militias to exterminate the natives. And virtually none of the wars were just wars in any way, shape, or form. That has been especially true in the post World War Two era.

Memorial Day 2021. This is the day where Americans honor those who died fighting in America’s wars. Well, that’s the theory at least. Unfortunately the way many people are honoring our dead strikes me as the exact opposite of honor. The day has been turned into a propaganda fest in support of America’s endless wars. The US has been at war 222 out of 239 years. More than 92% of its existence. And even that’s an undercount, there really was no peace during the 19th century because of ongoing efforts by individuals and state militias to exterminate the natives. And virtually none of the wars were just wars in any way, shape, or form. That has been especially true in the post World War Two era.

And yet all over Facebook, and all over the country presumably, people are posting and talking about fallen heroes who died “defending our freedom.” This is obscene. Every war since 1945 has been about defending America’s global empire and its corporate interests. Every American who died in these wars was a life wasted in service of the empire. And the memory of those whose lives were tossed away on the altar of corporate and political greed has been turned into a celebration of death and empire.

I grieve for those lost in our wars. I will honor their loss by continuing to speak for peace. The greatest thing an American can do to honor the fallen is stop supporting further war. Stop sending our youth abroad to die and be maimed in the service of corporate greed. The US is the most powerful empire the world has ever seen, there are no threats to our freedom. Outside the US at least, certain parties are working hard to destroy our freedom from within.

But that’s tomorrow’s blog. I hope all have or had a good Memorial Day. God rest the souls of those who died in America’s uniform, grant peace to their friends and family. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

May 31, 2021 at 7:50 am

DEREK CHAUVIN GUILTY, EVERYONE IS A CONSPIRACY THEORIST, AND OTHER NEWS

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A jury has found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts of murdering George Floyd. It’s certainly good news in the sense that civil unrest would have ensued had he been found guilty. However, that aside, I do believe justice has been served. From what I have read, all modern policing theory says that the neck is not an appropriate restraint target. While various neck holds are very effective at restraining people, they are also inordinately dangerous. The police are supposed to protect the public, not put them in danger, And in this case, kill them.

I think police reform is needed in the US. That’s what people mean when they say “defund the police.” Part of the reform is not using police for everything. Someone is acting out because of a mental health crisis, send a mental health crisis team, not the police. And police in schools, give me a break. And qualified immunity has to end, if a cop kills someone in any situation that isn’t clearly self defense, there should be a trial. Cops are supposed to take risks to protect the public, not kill people because the police felt threatened or the suspect wasn’t complying. Other developed countries manage to police themselves without police killing people at anything like the rate at which American police kill people, especially POC.

Convince me otherwise. It will require logic backed by science, but I can change my mind if presented with a reasonable argument. A quality I’m not sure many people share. I’ve had trouble blogging recently because I realized that almost everyone is a conspiracy theorist. By that they hold all sorts of social beliefs that they aren’t willing to admit might be wrong. And they will use confirmation bias and motivated reason to defend those beliefs if challenged, sometimes brilliantly. The person who believes their invisible superfriend rules the world is really no different than the person who thinks the Rothschilds rule the world. Thinking there was some secret conspiracy to  blow up the Twin Towers is no different that thinking a hurricane was sent by God.

And no matter what one believes, there are web sites happy to provide endless false arguments, motivated reasoning, and cherry picking in support of the same. Doubt that? Challenge someone’s belief that GMOs or glyphosate are dangerous, that Trump is a Russian asset, or that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. A world of motivated reasoning. No wonder the aliens fly right by.

Speaking of flying, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made the first powered flight on another planet. It’s basically a drone. Pretty impressive considering the atmosphere of Mars is about 1% the atmosphere on Earth. Jesus, if I make it a few more decades, humans might return to the Moon and make it to Mars. Well, even if I don’t make it, hopefully humans will pull it off. I just hope I’m around to see.

So much stuff on America and its empire, not sure where to start. Try this: America’s Intel Vampires Can’t See Themselves in the Mirror: DNI’s Hypocritical and Self-Awareness-Absent Annual Threat Assessment – Antiwar.com Original. America, a nation ruled by fear. The richest and most powerful nation the world has ever known defines itself by fantasy threats both domestic and international. While its rich get ever richer and its working class gets an ever smaller slice of the pie. Go figure.

Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, completed in 1661 by Rembrandt. It depicts a Batavian oath to Gaius Julius Civilis, the head of the Batavian rebellion against the Romans in 69 AD. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 20, 2021 at 8:15 pm

FOUR GREAT HISTORICAL LIES

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I’ve been hampered in writing about current events lately because it’s really been seeping in that almost everyone is propagandised. By that I mean that most people largely hold a worldview that is actively promoted by special interests. It’s what I mean when I say all religions and ideologies are the same. It’s what Colonel Kurtz meant when he said “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice.” It’s not a new phenomena, it’s been around since organized religion and hereditary class structure for sure. In the last century though, as the sciences of advertising and propaganda took off, it’s grown far more pervasive and multi-dimensional: Enormous numbers of people believing things that just aren’t true.

It doesn’t make them bad people, in fact it says nothing about them as individuals at all. People are people, most of us are pretty decent under normal circumstances. It doesn’t make them “sheep” either, I hate that terminology/mindset the same way I hate the “friend zone” concept. It does however mean they will actively go to great lengths to defend their world view. Motivated reasoning and such kicks in here, people use the fine brains evolution/God gave them to believe they are right and others are wrong. My lie is comforting, it makes sense of the world, it provides me with tons of social support and reinforcement. I’m on the winning team!

The problem, and it’s a huge problem, is that belief in nonsense may allow one to commit atrocities. Bad things can happen from widely believed lies. Here are four great historical examples. And they are great, each and every one of these is brilliant propaganda. A lie the targeted audience wanted to believe! A lie that touches all the sweet spots. In very considered order, here are four of “The Greatest Lies in History:”

  1. The Stab in the Back Myth.” This was the idea that arose after World War One that the Central Powers, Germany especially, lost the war not because it was a stupid war where the Allies had numerous advantages, but because a cabal of socialists, communists, and especially Jews conspired to cripple their war effort. Like all great lies, there’s zero evidence to support it, and it doesn’t pass the laugh test logically; but it explains the loss of the glorious war and blames people many Germans already had been taught to hate. Illustrated in a 1919 postcard above.
  2. “The Arab Nations Told the Palestinians to Flee!” lie. After Israel’s 1948 war of independence during which 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed (IE chased out at gunpoint) from what is now Israel, Israel claimed that the Arab governments told the Palestinians to flee! Perfect! So of course they are the Arab governments’ problem, and Israel promptly passed laws prohibiting them from returning to their homes in Israel. Even Israeli historians now admit this was pure propaganda, Arab governments never did anything of the kind.
  3. “Stop the Steal.” Yerp, brilliant. Trump supporters want to believe Trump was the greatest president ever, they want to believe that Democrats/socialists/communists/libtards are plotting against them, the true Americans. The fact that there is zero evidence for this lie, and logical reasons why it’s BS, no matter. Characteristics that all four great lies share, that so many people believe(d) them is why I am fond of saying “We’re not really an intelligent species.”
  4. “Russiagate.” This is the one where so many of my friends and readers are going to balk. Sorry, not sorry. Did Putin try to influence the 2016 election? Possibly, though so far no evidence has been provided in support of same. And Russiagate has now grown into an incredibly elaborate theory where Trump was a “Russian asset/Putin’s Puppet” all along. Brilliant. Dems don’t need to look to their own party’s failings that led to Trump’s election, and now they are fully supportive of Washington’s imperial war forever policy!

The beauty of great propaganda illustrated. No one is immune. I certainly believed in some stupid myths when I was younger. “If blacks would just comply with law enforcement and there would be no problems” is the ugliest that comes to mind now. I’m sure there are others. Life, a constant struggle to identify and remove beliefs other people have instilled in oneself. Most people never even understand that. A freaking shame that so much human society seeks to indoctrinate, not enlighten.

Speaking of blacks and police, tomorrow’s blog. Just trying to sort out the fact from fiction in the Daunte Wright shooting. God rest his soul in any event, no one deserves to die in a traffic stop.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Austrian postcard from 1919, author unknown, Public Domain in this Universe.)

Written by unitedcats

April 13, 2021 at 8:41 pm

THE EVANGELICAL RIGHT AND THE GOP, THE REAL CANCEL CULTURE

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So much in the news about the left’s so called “cancel culture.” Much hue and cry about it from the right. What, exactly, is the left cancelling? I’m not exactly sure, the examples in the news are generally trivial, misrepresented, or both. A few old books that no one reads anymore are pulled from publication? A few people who have said horrible things have lost their jobs? I guess some speakers have been discouraged from speaking at some colleges? How, exactly, is this impacting the lives of people on the right? As far as I can see, other than being outraged by what Fox news and others tell them, it doesn’t seem to affect the average American in any way. It’s like the so-called “war on Christmas,” there’s no there, there. Americans remain completely free to celebrate Christmas any way they like.

On the other hand, there are things the religious right is working assiduously to cancel. They want to cancel about a million marriages for starters. They want to wreak havoc in a million households, imagine being married, and the government simply outlawing your marriage. To say that would impact people’s lives negatively is an understatement. I don’t see anyone on the left calling for conservatives marriages to be annulled, let alone actively pursuing that goal in the courts.

The evangelical right not only wants to cancel women’s access to health care, they are doing a good job of it. And doing a good job of it by closing down Planned Parenthoods’, appealing to the Supreme Court: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. 682 (2014,) and fighting against birth control and sex education. Yes, they want to cancel the very things that prevent abortions, so this isn’t about saving babies, it’s about cancelling lifestyles they don’t approve of. Hell, rafts of bills designed to prevent women from accessing health care, sex education, and birth control are passed by the GOP regularly.

And of course they want to cancel transgender people. They did manage to cancel them in the military, though Biden has reversed that. They have done everything they can to prevent them accessing health care, participating in society, etc. The fact that transgendered people have always existed and always will exist because human’s biological gender/sexuality exists over a broad spectrum doesn’t matter to the evangelical right. Male/female dichotomy, heteronormality all the way for them.

Hell, not just women having their access to health care cancelled. The evangelical right wants to give health care providers the right to refuse to treat people because they don’t want to treat certain people whose lifestyles/identities they don’t approve of. Imagine telling firemen they could refuse to fight a fire if they didn’t like something about the owners/occupants of a building. Again, no one on the left has proposed anything like this, let alone made it central to their political philosophy.

Speaking of political, they also want to cancel people’s right to vote. The GOP has been passing “New Jim Crow” laws for decades now, bills designed to make it harder for poor and black people to vote. Or democracy itself in the case of rampant GOP gerrymandering. And lately it’s getting worse, a law has been proposed in Arizona to allow the legislature to simply overturn the people’s vote for president! All in the name of fighting non-existent widespread voter fraud. And if there was widespread voter fraud, making it harder for people to vote isn’t fighting it, it’s making it harder for people to vote. There is no logical connection here.

Still, America is a country where huge numbers of people accept that killing 200,000 old men, women, and children “saved lives.” No one has ever explained to me how that works without the use of magical thinking. Moving right along, some on the right have followed this type of thinking to its “logical” conclusion, and simply want to cancel Americans who disagree with them. Yes, they are making the case that Biden voters “aren’t real Americans.” New Claremont essay reveals how Republicans are rejecting America:

“Most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term,”Glenn Ellmers, the essay’s author, writes. “They do not believe in, live by, or even like the principles, traditions, and ideals that until recently defined America as a nation and as a people. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else.”

So many things sick and wrong with that sort of thinking, I don’t know where to start. Crazy times. Have a safe Easter Weekend everyone, celebrate it (or not,) as you want. It’s still a free country. Sort of. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A forest in Indonesia cancelled by a volcano, public domain image from Wikipedia. I hope it doesn’t come to that in America, literally or metaphorically.)

Written by unitedcats

April 2, 2021 at 8:23 pm

BOOM!

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Shortly after I got up this morning I hear a loud bang. My housemate calls out, “Are you OK?’ The bang wasn’t upstairs, I was fine. Thought about it, went down to investigate, halfway down the stairs I hear my housemate on the phone to 911, there was an explosion next door, he can see flames and black smoke. I’m like “Oh sheet.” I get dressed real fast, grab my fire extinguisher, run next door. A trash can had caught fire and exploded, raging fire in the wind, side of house was already nicely burning. The neighbor and a passer by were trying to fight it, but all they had was a rake and a hose that wasn’t long enough and had little pressure. The fire was winning. I waded in with my fire extinguisher and got it under control until the pros arrived.

In my life I’ve now saved two cars and a house because I keep fire extinguishers handy. I was a Boy Scout and a Marine, be prepared and if there’s an emergency, run towards it. The moral of the story though, every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher prominently located and everyone in the house should know how to use it. Minutes count when fighting fires. I think I read it’s typically less than ten minutes between a house fire’s ignition and it spreading to the entire house. Maybe I didn’t save their house, but I certainly prevented much worse damage. And it was windy as hell, extreme fire danger weather, it might well have spread to other houses before the fire department arrived.

And boy, well, my adrenaline gland works just fine. Near twelve hours later and I’m still wired. I may not sleep for a week. OK, that’s an exaggeration, I hope, but the experience really had a huge effect on me. My sense of time was especially affected. Hard to explain. It feels like it just happened, but it was 12 hours ago? Right after it happened I decided to cook myself a nice breakfast. It only seemed like it took a few minutes, but I was surprised to see it was over thirty minutes on the clock. I did wonder why my hash browns were cooking so fast. Had a few similar experiences in my time, “the world turns to ice” is one way I’ve described it.

So how did this happen? How did a trash can spontaneously explode? The neighbor says she put a candle in the trash, and apparently it wasn’t fully extinguished. Might have been last night even, not sure. She was pretty upset. The trash can was obliterated, nothing left but little puddles of burning molten plastic. The firemen said a plastic bottle exploding is what caused the explosion, or two explosions according to my housemate. Makes me realize modern isn’t always better. Up through the 70s trash cans were made of metal, and if the trash caught fire, the fire was contained. Not anymore, plastic trash cans are potential little napalm bombs.

On the plus side (aside from being a neighborhood hero) it kinda reset my mental state too. I won’t say my broken heart is mended, but certainly put some distance between me and it. Did that make any sense? I was going to write about my upcoming Moon trip today, but this seemed more timely. So tomorrow’s blog, help Doug get to the Moon! Yes, I’m serious, and it’s for a good cause. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Scene outside my home this morning. Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

March 21, 2021 at 7:51 pm

Posted in 2021, Iowa, Personal, Philosophy

STAN STYCH: “BE NICE TO EACH OTHER.”

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“Be nice to each other.” That was my father’s last message to me. He passed earlier this afternoon. 22 February 2021. He died of Covid, and a broken heart. I’m at sea, my father and I weren’t close, in many ways we never understood each other, but he was a good man, and he tried. Now all is gone. He was a kid in the 30s, a teenager during the war. In Canada. Went on to college and became an engineer. Got into sales and management, then to CEO. Had many insights on that. And he raised four kids, all of whom are good people. Loved two women, both of whom preceded him in passing. He loved to fish. He loved photography. He skied.

I guess you’d call my father one of the depression generation, before people stated this whole stupid gen whatever crap. He grew up on a Ontario family farm in the depression: They plowed using horses, heated their house with coal stoves, had an outhouse, and the only running water was a hand pump well in the back kitchen. A radio was it for entertainment. A different world from the one most people alive in the west grew up in.

Stan Stych. He lived through the 1930s depression (he only survived childhood because of penicillin,) World War Two, the Cold War*, the Sixties, and all that followed. All history now, part of the lost country. He’ll live on in my heart and my dreams so long as I live. That’s him on the left above, San Francisco behind, taken from Alcatraz. Circa 2009. My father was a complicated man, we had a complicated relationship. Life’s like that. The world is a complicated place.

I’m doing what the Stych tradition dictates, carrying the soul of the dearly departed to the next life on a sea of alcohol. A tradition that has no doubt been practised by so many families for countless generations. My father made the world a better place, I can only hope to do the same. I love you dad, I’ll miss you.

Five hundred thousand dead of Covid in the USA, I thought my dad was safe in Canada. No one is safe from Covid. It is a nightmare disease. I may take a break from blogging for a few days. Stay safe gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. (Text and image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 22, 2021 at 9:55 pm

BORDERS II

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Well, I got a few testy comments about yesterday’s map. People took umbrage to how it was divided up, or to the idea the US would ever break up. All of which kind of proved my point, we are taught that borders are sacrosanct, and they sure are for a lot of people. In actuality borders are just lines drawn on a map by very powerful people, and often reflect nothing more than those people’s desires. Not that I have a problem with borders, they just need to represent  actual peoples, not made up peoples. And just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m presenting alternate maps to provoke thought and discussion, I’m not actually espousing these exact maps.

The map above was what started me thinking along these lines so many years ago. The Middle East is truly a disaster when it comes to borders. In fact reading my old article linked just now, this map got me some nasty comments too. People really get the existing borders into their identity I guess, so proposed changes are a personal affront. I guess similar to how people get their idea of sexuality and gender so much a part of their identity, that acknowledging that others don’t agree is a threat to their identity.

Did that make sense? It does to me, but trying to explain these things is a challenge. So moving right along, Biden shut down construction on Trump’s border wall. This is because he wants hordes of brown people to pour into America and destroy the white race, turning America into a liberal run socialist nightmare. And if anyone actually believes that, they have sheet for brains. (I’m getting less diplomatic on my old age.) Trump’s border wall was stupid and counterproductive, that’s why it was shut down. Stupid because it won’t work and may just make the problem worse, exactly what happened when Bush 43 tightened up the border, traffickers just moved to other parts of the border and more people got across. And since the border was now harder to cross illegally, people who used to go back and forth seasonally to work decided to stay and send for their families.

All of which was missed by Trump supporters, since Fox News never mentioned it. The border wall is counterproductive on multiple levels as well. It encourages simplistic answers to complex issues. It reinforces the racist ultranationalist trope that people coming over the border illegally are some sort of threat to us. It implies that illegal immigration is some sort of crisis that needs to be solved. No, illegal immigration is like people speeding when they drive, just something that the government has to regulate as best they can.

All kinda leads back to “The map is not the territory.” This is why I reject all dogmatic ideology and religion, it’s painfully clear by now that there are no ideological/religious solutions to humanities’ challenges. Or to be fair, none that have been discovered yet. I think it’s time to try, idk, science and reason? I think they are the best bet at deciding how to move forward. Is there some problem with solutions that are reasonable and science based? And no, science is not a religion or a cult, it’s just a way of looking at the world. An algorithm if one wills.

And finally this link: Viral Lies. Basically pointing out that our media and social platforms are doing a terrible job of preventing the spread of illogical, science denying, harmful misinformation. Having an immunologist debate an anti-vaxxer isn’t balanced reporting, it’s giving a dangerous crank a platform and credibility they don’t deserve. Granted I made that particular example up, but the point is valid. Read the article at the link. I think the internet and social media sites should be run as public utilities with equal access for all, but that’s looking less likely every day as the rich consolidate their hold on the Internet.

In local news, I tried to walk to the store, got four feet before realizing every outdoor surface was covered with 1 mm of ice. Yeah, deathwalk city. I didn’t want to add a few mm of frozen blood to the equation, so I wisely drove my car to the store. By the way, until just last year, why ice was slippery was a scientific mystery. Now we think we know why: Why Is Ice Slippery?

Stay safe and warm everyone. StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: New Middle East map. Credit: Ralph Peters/Chris Broz. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2021 at 8:19 pm