Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

June 19, 2020 at 7:38 pm

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG

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

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

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

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

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

So came across this quote:

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

June 8, 2020 at 7:55 pm

AMERICA, TRUMP, AND CORONAVIRUS … THIS IS NOT GOING TO END WELL

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Looks like Coronavirus is on its way to America, according to the CDC. Pondering this eventuality, I realize America in many ways is completely unprepared for a pandemic. Here are ten ways America is punching itself in the face when it comes to effectively responding to Coronavirus:

  1. Lack of access to health care. In the rest of the developed world, people that think they might have or might have been exposed to the Coronavirus have every incentive to seek health care immediately. Tens of millions of Americans have no access to health care except through emergency rooms, and even then it’s iffy. So simply not having access, and then fear of the costs incurred, will keep people from seeking treatment until it’s too late, or never. Works for all infectious diseases actually, why Americans want to share their public places with untreated sick people is a mystery to me.
  2. Demonizing law-abiding undocumented people. Guess what, the anti-immigrant hysteria Trump has engendered makes it far less likely that undocumented people will seek medical treatment. Treating law abiding undocumented people as criminal undesirables makes the illegal immigration problem much worse. Basically Trumo has turned undocumented people into a huge pool of potential Coronavirus spreaders.
  3. Sick leave policies. American companies have sick leave policies that are draconian compared to the rest of the civilized world, workers are often forced to work when sick, either by their management or they can’t afford unpaid sick leave. Not exactly conducive to fighting an epidemic.
  4. Codicil, businesses won’t want to close. Similar to number three, American corporations are going to be loathe to close factories and such, and they have the political pull to strongly resist such calls.
  5. Snake oil salesmen, legitimised! Not only is the so called ‘alternative medicine’ industry thriving in America, it’s made great strides in legitimizing itself. Sorry, snake oil is snake oil, drinking water (homeopathy) and sticking oneself with needles (acupuncture) won’t cure or treat Coronavirus. People will try though.
  6. Faith based medical deniers. Adults not seeking medical treatment is bad enough, but there are states where parents can legally deny their children medical treatment. And plenty of snake oil salesmen here too, Jim Bakker is already selling fake cures. Millions of Americans are likely to depend on God and prayers to fight Coronavirus. Didn’t work to fight the Black Death, won’t work now,
  7. Anti-vaxxers. Yes, the people who believe hand washing eliminated smallpox aren’t going to be cooperative in this epidemic. Even if a vaccine is developed in time, this is another huge pool of people who will avoid it. Hell, if anything they will have Coronavirus parties to deliberately expose their kids.
  8. Media as infotainment. The mainstream media in the USA is totally beholden to corporate  and political interests. These interests are going to protect themselves at all costs, public welfare be damned.
  9. No accountability. Washington is a bizarre city where no matter how badly people screw up, no one is accountable. The invasion of Iraq is the perfect example. An invasion that was supposed to prevent a WMD attack on the US, trigger a democratic revolution in the Middle East, and cost next to nothing in lives and treasure. Instead it proved to be a disaster of epic proportions … and the WMD threat turned out to be non-existent. Yet the architects of this catastrophe are still respected pundits and politicians. When a nation’s leaders aren’t accountable for failure, they have no incentive to not fail. Nor can they learn from their mistakes.
  10. Americans just don’t give a damn about the common good. Literally, a huge percentage of Americans see everything as a partisan battleground, and the losers are such because they subscribe to the wrong ideology. Horace Greely on steroids. Not a good mindset for dealing with a pandemic. Coronavirus is as likely to tear us apart as it is to unite us.

My first draft of this list was much simpler. 1. Trump is president. 2. Trump is president. Etc. Mr Trump and much of his base believe in simplistic solutions to complex problems. History has shown quite clearly the folly of this sort of thinking, if simple black and white solutions worked, Earth would be a paradise. There’s every reason to believe the Trump administration’s response to Coronavirus will be chaotic to incompetant. Hell, the man fired the national pandemic response team, hasn’t replaced them. And of writing this, hasn’t even appointed someone to coordinate America’s response to Coronavirus.

This is the first real domestic crisis Trump has faced, second if we count the hurricane that smashed Puerto Rico. Yeah, his response to that was less than stellar. I suspect he will spend his time trying to prop the stock market up and controlling the narrative. Alas, sharpies and lies aren’t going to cut it here Mr. Trump. I hope the virus is contained and we don’t have to deal with it in the US. That’s pretty unlikely at this point. If Coronavirus does hit us big time, I hope I’m wrong about Trump and this crisis brings him out as a national leader leading the country and all Americans through difficult times.

A man can dream. Please share.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Triumph of Death.  Credit: Pieter Bruegel the Elder  (1526/1530–1569) As the artist has been dead for centuries. The image is Public Domain under US and other copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 25, 2020 at 7:14 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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I’m writing a post about Palestine and Trump’s “Deal of the Century” offer. It’s hard going though. Trying to condense a book’s worth of background into 800 words is a challenge. Trying to write so that readers of all stripes can follow it is also a challenge these hyper-partisan days. I have to write though, it’s both a compulsion and a necessity. In any event, while I write my dedicated posts about Palestine and other things, more ‘Through Thick and thin’ posts!

The Wuhan Coronavirus is getting more serious. No reason to panic, hell, no matter how bad it gets there’s no point panicking. The good doctor covers it well. The CDC has good advice for those who may be exposed. Basically wash one’s hands a lot, try not to touch one’s face when out and about, definitely washing the hands when one gets home. Good advice for avoiding all infectious diseases, who wants to get sick? Handwashing also reduces the risk of a flesh eating bacteria infection, that alone keeps my hands squeaky clean. And also of course, being this is a human inhabited planet, rumours and misinformation are flying. The Indian government recommends homeopathy as a preventative measure, not even sure what to make of that. And then there’s what this guy’s girlfriend did

In today’s Trump tidbit, the Trump justice department has redefined domestic assault using 1950s standards. A win for the abusive men of America, now as long as they don’t leave bruises or draw blood, all other forms of abuse are OK. It’s frustrating, people that think the 50s were “the good old days” and we just need to go back to then and America will be great again are living in a “Father Knows Best” fantasy world. No, America wasn’t great in the 1950s, by all objective metrics there were terrible social failings under the wholesome veneer. And some, like legal discrimination, were out in the open.

The longest tunnel ever has been discovered under the US border with Mexico. Nearly a mile long, over 50 foot underground. Quite the achievement really, it took a lot of money to build this. These sorts of tunnels are all too common, and they will just get deeper and more sophisticated. They are a symptom of our failure as a society, and a reminder that barrier methods of solving social problems are only so effective. The war on drugs has created fabulously wealthy gangs (not to mention corrupting everything from police departments to entire governments,) without actually diminishing the drug problems in our society. A program that enriches criminals, corrupts police departments (And we’re not just talking Mexican police departments here,) and fails to fix the problem it is putatively addressing … is a fail. This is America though, where actual results no longer matter.

A new kind of shoe is giving runners an “unfair” advantage. So the sports body that regulates such things is coming up with new standards. Ultimately their efforts are like sweeping back the sea. Sports is so infused with big money now that every conceivable technological (not to mention biological) enhancement has big bucks to exploit it to the hilt. Means athletes with money can buy improvements to their performance. Hardly sporting. Commercialization poisons everything. And another sign of how screwed up our priorities as a species are. Babies are dying all over the world for want of a few dollars in food or medicine … while staggering sums of money go into things like sports shoes.

Reminds me of a moral dilemma. Say someone is drowning, and a bystander can save them if they jump right in. But the bystander refuses to do so because it would ruin their new $500 pair of running shoes. Most people would find that appalling if not actually evil. Yet spending $500 on a pair of shoes when giving half that money to life saving charity would save lives isn’t even on the radar. An example of just how blinded we are in the west to the hideous inequality that exists on Earth.

And since I started writing this, the Wuhan Coronavirus has been declared a global health emergency. Yikes. Yeah, I did the math, if half the planet gets sick, and 2% die … that’s 80 million deaths. 6 million in the US. Let’s hope this isn’t the start of “The Stand.”

Stay healthy everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: 1918 Spanish Flu Death Chart. Credit: Unknown, but contemporary to the 1918 Flu. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1925.)

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2020 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Crime, Philosophy, Trump

WALKING BACKWARDS

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I came across this picture on Snappygoat. I love it. On several levels. Pictures say a lot to me. So do words. I’ll never take a picture like this, but maybe if I write long enough I’ll eventually say something important. I heard once that people have the ability to talk so that if they ever have anything important to say, they can say it. That’s the diplomatic version. I’m going to keep trying. Writing at least, I usually only take my foot out of my mouth to change feet, so the less I talk the better.

I searched for a road picture because I took a one hour road journey with a friend the other day. She hardly said a word. It was wonderful. Time isn’t something that needs to be filled with words. Reality is amazing enough as it is. The trip reminded me of an encounter years ago in the lost country. A friend and I went to eat at a casino. A waitress served the entire meal for us, from meeting us at the door and all the service that follows, using just two words total. Elegant communication personified. She is my God. I should have proposed on the spot, but alas I was young and asleep. Life, an endless parade of lost opportunities.

As I reminisced about waitresses in casinos a friend contacted me, and he informed me that his friend had died. Suddenly and randomly. Oh Jeez. Mortality. I will hoist a few in his friend’s memory. I was lucky, I was middle age before someone close passed over. Recently, oh my, my friends and relatives are dropping like flies. This got me thinking, there was one exception, Jeffrey wasn’t lucky. Early 1960s. I was in first or second grade. He was my neighbour and friend. Died horribly. Age seven or so, he only experienced the beginning of life. All he could have experienced, gone. At the time, I didn’t get it. Now, I get it all too well. Such is death.

Trying to pin down what grade I was in then got me thinking. It was first or second. Pearl River, New York. I could reconstruct the date if I tried. Mid 1960s. I remember I left second grade early by a few weeks because we were moving to New Jersey. Haven’t thought about this in years, or decades. I remember packing up and leaving the classroom was really sad, because there were at least two girls in my class I really liked. My predilection for having girls as friends started early. Can’t even remember their names now. Or what they looked like even.

I hope they’re still alive. And have long rich lives behind and ahead of them still. I doubt our paths will ever cross, I doubt we would know if they did. Yet in some weird sense our lives are still intertwined. All lost to me. This is what I mean by the lost country. The past. And what the past could have been but wasn’t. All lost to time and lost chances. All lost to younger people especially. For them the nineties are what the fifties were to me as a child, ancient history.

And what could have been. In some universes my dad’s career stalled and I stayed in Pearl River, married one of those girls, and lived happily ever after. It’s a nice thought. Or maybe I haven’t met my true love yet. Or maybe it’s all about meeting one of those girls again. Stranger things have happened. I thought I might have met the one under a tree this last spring, but as in the song, it was just my imagination.

Which brings me back to the photo. It’s the same in either direction. But there can be warm stops along the way. My point though, such as a random assemblage of squiggles can make a point, is lost to me. It comes from time to time, but I can never get the words down fast enough. No matter how long one lives, every moment will be new. In the past few days I’ve seen a few things I never saw before. And never will again. Every moment is like that, one of an infinite number of moments that will never repeat again. However, if reality is such that infinite possibilities are played out, then each unique moment… repeats infinitely. Right? Most people think about their investments or sportsball, I think about the nature of infinity. And then I try to put those thoughts into words. Painting with words.

So no, Doug’s Darkworld is not going to turn into a podcast. I will keep writing and posting, for myself and for those who like the written word. I knew MTV was a huge deal when it hit, and kudos to them, but I’m sticking with the written word. I’ll post when I can. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Road, mountains, winter. Looks like Nevada, could be Utah, maybe AZ or NM. Credit: Snappygoat image, released into the public domain like letting a balloon free.)

Written by unitedcats

October 21, 2019 at 6:46 am

Posted in Personal, Philosophy

RANDOM RAMBLINGS PLUS AN INTERSTELLAR VISITOR

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GE DIGITAL CAMERA

This was an interesting week. Got kinda bad news from a few old friends. The good thing about growing old is you’re still alive. The bad thing is that the older one gets, the fewer of your friends and loved ones will be alive. Pretty safe to say that if you make it from 60 to 80, the large majority of your contemporary and older friends and acquaintances will be dead. A mixed blessing at best. You’ll get to eat more of your own birthday cake, but get fewer presents. Still, at this point it’s too late to die young and be a horrible warning, so I’m going to press on.

I also realized this week that my upper arm shattering in my fall last Christmas saved my life. It takes a lot of energy to shatter an upper arm bone, I mean the neighbors heard it snap. And I slammed into that wall with my shoulder, head, and neck, the arm bone breaking acted as a crumple zone. If it hadn’t broken the energy would have gone into my head and neck, where broken bones are a much more serious concern. Limbs are useful for something besides walking and pouring coffee, who knew?

Speaking of coffee, I realized this week, that despite drinking three or four cups of coffee a day for decades … I don’t really like coffee. Bad coffee, good coffee, all equally unappealing. I was essentially drinking out of habit. How did I come to this realization? Six weeks ago I started counting calories, and one thing I did was cut back to one cup of coffee a day. (With sugar and cream a cup of coffee is north of fifty calories.) Tuesday, after receiving bad news, I decided to say “eff it” to the diet for one day. I went and got myself a turkey/bacon sub with fries, it was delicious. And then I thought, “I’ll make myself a pot of coffee!” Followed by “Wait, I don’t feel like having coffee, I’d rather have a diet soda or two.” Live and learn.

I also realized this week that while I like the little rural town I live in, there’s no doubt it’s a comfortable little bubble of white privilege. I have layers of laws, state agencies, and federal agencies protecting me in my essentially gated community. All pretty much invisible to me, all designed to keep “undesirables” in their place. Such has it been for all of America’s history. Granted privileged classes are a problem in many places around the world, but I think America’s history of slavery and Native American genocide reinforced the cultural tendency in some uniquely ugly ways.  I know the word ‘privilege’ really pushes some buttons with some people. Telling someone they are privileged is not a pejorative. Topic for future blog posts no doubt,

On the topic of pushing buttons, I noticed in my travels through conservative cyberspace that OAC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) really pushes some buttons. The mindless hostility expressed towards her is legion. Not even sure what’s she’s saying that’s causing all the ruckus, but I have to assume she is hitting below the waterline. When your rhetoric reduces your political opponents to sputtering mindless rage, you’re doing something right. Alas mindless outrage seems to be the style these days in American politics, and it’s certainly not limited to conservatives. I just wish people would get outraged about things that matter. And while I’m at it I wish I had a pony.

OK, I don’t really want a pony. If given one, I suppose I could sell or eat it. In late breaking news, our Solar System is getting another visitor! A few years ago an interstellar asteroid dubbed Oumuamua flew past the Sun. Sadly it was small and already heading for the exit when astronomers spotted it. So the science gleaned was just enough to leave a zillion questions. This time, it’s a comet, dubbed Borisov, and we spotted it on its inbound run! It’s gonna zip past the Sun just beyond Mars’ orbit, which is an incredibly close encounter astronomically speaking. And this puppy is big, 20 km wide or so. I will read up on everything I can find about it on the weekend, Monday’s blog topic!

Puppies, ponies, I think I need a cat. There’s a CLO (cat like object) that lives in my house, but it’s not the same. Have a safe weekend everyone.

PS: Oh yes, gonna start running some ads on wordpress. I need new shoes. They will be as small and unobtrusive as practical.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A pony like animal I photographed in the desert. Badly.  Credit: Doug Stych Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 13, 2019 at 4:31 am

IT’S MY BLOG AND I’LL BEG IF I WANT TO

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Alfred_Sisley_-_View_of_Saint-Mammès_-_Walters_37355

I have written a new introduction on my patreon main page. It gives a bit more background info on who I am and why I write. And includes a not particularly subtle request for people to become patrons. This is not a commercial venture, writing is my life, but I need more patrons to keep the wolf from the door. And as further incentive, I’m adding a new patron perk to sweeten the pot so to speak. Detailed below. And fear not, no matter what happens there will still be at least three public posts a week. More if I get more patrons. More patrons means more patron only content too.

Granted this is I may regret. The first five tier two patrons, that’s $10 month, I will see and review three movies of their choice per year. Only codicil is that it has to be a movie I can catch locally. Other than that, whatever goes. I survived a musical recently, so anything is possible. And honestly, going to see a movies I would not normally see could be fun. Assuming they are good movies. And if they are bad movies, well, the gentle reader will be warned off. I trust I am mature enough to tell the difference between a bad movie, and a movie I simply didn’t like. An important distinction I feel. And it should be pointed out, this gives people who actively dislike me a way to force me to see movies I hate. My old Navy friend can get revenge for tricking him into going to a Jane Fonda movie.

And so, to start this off I will review the last two movies I saw. First Aladdin. Oh my. No one warned me it was a musical, by the time I realized my fate, it was too late to make a gracious exit. I just went to my quiet place inside when musical numbers broke out. Being trained to resist torture is sometimes valuable in real life, who knew? And honestly, I don’t think it was a particularly good movie. I am also told it was an almost word for word remake of the previous animated version. The dance and music scenes were overblown. I didn’t find the main protagonist particularly likeable. The special effects were kinda cheesy.

Overall Aladdin seemed to suffer from what I call sequelitus, where they tried and make the movie even grander than the original. And just succeeded in making it over the top. Then there was the torture scene, which seemed a bit out of place in a Disney movie. Still, if one likes Disney movies, Will Smith, or Aladdin movies in general, might be fun. Acceptable for what it was, but nothing to write home about. Two out of four stars.

Then the movie I wanted to see. John Wick 3. Sheesh. I came out of the movie thinking “Was that a movie, or just a looped tape of Keanu Reeves shooting someone in the head?” OK, that’s a little unfair. He also used knives, horses, motorcycles, cars, and a book to kill people.  I’d say this movie also suffered from sequelitus, except this was one of the rare occasions where it worked. This installment was bigger and badder than the previous two in a good way. I LOLed a few times during the movie, which is rare for me. Even though it was over-the-top in many ways, it didn’t take itself too seriously.

So yes, if one liked the previous John Wick movies, go see this movie. Four stars. Otherwise, no, one star. Unless one finds the idea of watching Keanu Reeves shooting and stabbing people pretty much nonstop for two hours appealing. Not everyone’s movie. Sometimes though mindless violence is just the thing. I told that to my housemate and asked if he wanted to go see it. He said no, but if I wanted some mindless violence, he was happy to punch me. Helpful guy. And there will be a John Wick 4. Now that will be interesting, how many killings can be fit into a two hour movie?  I suppose we will find out in 2020.

PSA regarding the horse kicking scenes. For those not raised on farms. The back end of a horse is indeed very dangerous. Do no ever walk behind a horse, and if it can’t be avoided, whatever you do don’t startle the horse. Their first instinct is to kick, and getting kicked by a horse is a life changing, if not life ending, event. Way too many people get their knowledge about animals from Disney movies, it rarely ends well.

I hope everyone is having a good week. As always, many thanks to my readers, patrons or not.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: View of Saint-Mammès Credit: Alfred Sisley 1839-1899 Sisley is possibly my favorite painter of all time, I share his works when the mood takes me. Enjoy.)

Written by unitedcats

June 5, 2019 at 9:07 am

It’s Offensive Image Month on Doug’s Darkworld!

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islam

What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, this picture is a bigot test. If you agree with the meme expressed, you’re  a bigot. It’s that fucking simple. Bigotry isn’t hard to understand, it’s making wild generalizations about people based on things like their race, religion, gender, etc. In the case above, the generalization is so wild it’s almost breathtaking in its stupidity. The meme above comes out and says there is something so hateful and intolerant about Islam that it sets it apart from other religions. And I know damn well many people think that, even the majority of atheists think Islam is the “worst” religion, which shows atheists are just as prone to bigotry as anyone else.

OK, a few facts. It should go without saying that a religion with over a billion adherents is going to be all over the map, just like in any major religion. However, let’s look at specifics. Malaysia. 61% Muslim. Secular constitution, rights of religious minorities are guaranteed. And in fact most Malaysians are proud of their multicultural and multireligious society. Let’s go to Bosnia. Muslims are the majority at 45% of the population. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Third one I checked, Indonesia. Muslim majority. Religious minorities rights protected by the constitution. So factually speaking, the meme is already garbage. It’s safe to say that in numerous Muslim countries there will be religious rights for minorities in their constitutions.

Of course the bigots will claim that even though they have these rights on paper, there are still problems with some Muslims wanting to trample the rights of non-Muslims. News flash, all religions have tendency to trample the rights of minorities when they are the majority. In some countries, like the one I live in, a religious majority whines about having their rights trampled. Well, not all of them, just the holy rollers stuck in the Bronze Age. I’ve kind of had it with people who think their religion means they get to decide the law of the land for everyone. Even people who don’t follow their religion! Yes, dear readers, I’ve wandered near another point. And I’m going to make it. Many religions exhibit a nasty tendency to persecute minorities under the right conditions, it kind of comes with the territory. How is Islam different from, say, Christianity in this regard? It isn’t, Christians have a long proud history of suppressing the rights of those that disagree with them. To this day many Christians are working tirelessly to turn the USA into a theocracy and trample the rights of non-Christians. And sadly even Judaism, long a trampled upon minority, has shown a nasty tendency in this persecutory regard now that they are a majority in one country. So singling out Islam in this regard is hypocritical at best, bigoted and hateful at worst.

That’s another point that needs to be made about this image. How, exactly, is making this hateful generalization about Islam helpful? Will this encourage people in America to be more tolerant of their Muslim neighbours? No, the opposite in fact, it encourages fear and loathing. That may not be bigoted, but I sure think it’s evil. We’ve even got such paranoid dogmeat as state legislatures outlawing Sharia Law. The chances of any Muslims enacting Sharia Law anywhere in the USA are zero, so this is ridiculous on the face of it. And if some Muslims wanted to use Sharia Law to adjudicate civil affairs among Muslims, who gives a shit? We don’t care about Orthodox Jews, Quakers, or numerous other religious groups that chose to live by their religious code within the framework of secular criminal law, why the hell would anyone care if some Muslims did this? Hint: The answer starts with b. And no, I’m not suggesting we let Muslims stone each other to death, any more than we would let a Christian cult stone its members to death for blasphemy. (Lev. 24:16)

The sad thing about images like this is how effective they are. If one wants to have a bad view of Muslims (or anyone) in general, it’s easy to find all sorts of stuff on line to reinforce one’s prejudices. And the mainstream media as well as hordes of amateurs are only too happy to generate and spread hateful images. It’s by no means limited to the right or conservatives as well. I know I’ve pilloried some hateful images by atheists and liberals in previous posts, I find propaganda hateful no matter who is targeted. I think this is a terrible failing of the modern media and online world, it’s making people more divided, not less. I’ll expand on this train of thought in a future post.

Hope everyone is having or had a great weekend. I’m having a BBQ.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Pretty sure that unless the author actually took the trouble to file a copyright, images on Facebook are public domain, correct me if I’m wrong.)

Written by unitedcats

August 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

The Ultimate Roller Coaster, Sham II, and Boston Marathon Madness

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coaster

A thing of beauty, eh what? Yes, yes it is. This concept roller coaster is the ultimate roller coaster. The top is 510m high, nearly 1/3rd of a mile, and it takes two minutes to haul the 24 passengers up there. Downwards the cars reach 360 kilometres per hour (220 mph), very close to terminal velocity, the fastest they can fall. Then into the loops, each designed to maintain 10g on the passengers as the cars slow down. This would be as if they weighed ten times their normal weight. At the end of this exhilarating ride the passengers are unloaded, and new ones board. Wait, what? Yes, unloaded. The passengers have to be unloaded at the end of the ride because they won’t be exiting under their own power. This is because they will be dead. Yes dear readers, this is the Euthanasia Coaster.

Dear God, why would anyone build such a thing? Fortunately they haven’t, but if people have devised plans to build doomsday devices, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The Euthanasia Coaster was actually designed in 20120 as an art project by one  Julijonas Urbonas, the idea being to take lives “with elegance and euphoria.” I’m not sure it really hits either on the nose, but it would take lives. As for its practical use, euthanasia or execution pretty much covers it. It has been suggested that people with no legs or people wearing special high altitude legging might actually survive the ride, so I suppose there might be some who would risk it for the ultimate thrill. I’ll pass thank you.

Seriously though, the chances this would ever get built seem remote. That didn’t stop the anti-euthanasia group “Care not Killing” from being concerned. I’d never heard of “Care Not Killing” before, but as soon as I read the name I knew it was a religious group. Sigh. And it is. I’m getting good at spotting groups with hidden agendas. Hell, probably harder to spot the ones without, there don’t seem to be too many of those. As for executions, there’s probably cheaper ways to execute people.

Meanwhile, in Syria, someone has actually built a euthanasia device:

sham

OK, more of a suicide device I suppose. People are clever. That’s the Sham II, a homemade “tank” built by Syrian rebels. I has a remote control machine gun mounted on top, and is controlled inside by using video cameras and video game components. It’s built around a car chassis of some type. What ever possessed them to do this? Beats me, things are a might confused in Syria right now. I can’t imagine it would last long in battle, it might be impervious to small arms fire, but anything from an RPG up would do the trick, and the Syrian military has plenty of weapons. Hell, even homemade munitions like Molotov cocktails would work. I suspect it’s more for western attention and publicity than anything else. Still, last it was in the news it was on its way to battle in Aleppo. Improvised armoured fighting vehicles have a long history. If I hear how it fares I’ll post it.

I kept waiting for some news on who was behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, but alas nothing yet. Likely a nut or right wing terrorism would be my guess. Media coverage has been ridiculous, but that’s always the case. And as always some in all walks said stupid, hateful, inappropriate, or self-serving things. Modern America, fun place, like Disneyland with guns.

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.  They are not being used for profit, in fact I lose money writing this blog. That means they should pay me for using them. Coming soon, a fund raising drive. You have been warned.)

What the Hell is That? (Number 6 in a series, if you want to guess, don’t read below the image.)

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hexagon

Interesting, nu? I got a lot of guesses on Facebook. A new planet, water going down a  drain, a newly discovered galaxy, and my favourite: a cake mix gone horribly wrong. No, it’s not a cake mix gone horribly wrong. Many people did guess it was some sort of astronomy photo, and they were on track. The white things are indeed clouds, this is the surface of a planet photographed from space. Not Earth though, in fact six Earths could fit inside the hexagon. This is one of the gas giant planets, Saturn. It’s the clouds surrounding the North pole of Saturn. Note the hexagon shaped cloud, what’s up with that?

No one knows. It was first observed when Voyager went by Saturn in 1980 and 1981. No one had a clue then. In 2004, more than 20 years later, the hexagon was still there when the Cassini Probe arrived at Saturn. So it’s a persistent feature. And nothing else like it has been observed anywhere else in the Solar System. Scientists think the hexagon cloud formation is created by a jet stream whipping along at over 200 mph. The hexagon formation rotates with the planet, and its latitude doesn’t change either. Yes, a permanent, or at least remarkably stable, hexagon shaped torrent of wind whipping around Saturn’s pole. Cassini recently has been getting much better pictures of the hexagon lately as Saturn’s northern hemisphere has moved into sunlight, so scientists hope to begin to unravel the mystery soon.

Why so interesting? (Honestly, any reader thinking that has likely long ago abandoned my blog of scientific and historical weirdness in search of blogs about “The Shove.”) The hexagon is interesting from a  number of perspectives. Scientists are interested in it because they can’t yet explain it. That’s kind of the whole point of science. Looking at stuff and figuring out why it is so. This hexagon is one of the big mysteries of the Solar System. It’s an example of no matter how much we know, we are always finding things no one expected or predicted. That’s one of the beauties of the scientific method, knowledge is never complete, and it always has to be modified or expanded in light of new discoveries. Kinda the opposite of most philosophies and religions, that for the most part start with a conclusion and then shoehorn new discoveries into it. That’s getting pretty ridiculous now considering some of these religions started in the Bronze Age. Science put man on the Moon, religion put man on a cross.

Philosophical concerns aside, study of Saturn’s hexagon could prove valuable insights about Earth. This is because the hexagon is a weather and climatic phenomena, and studying how weather and climate works on other planets can prove an interesting comparison to how it works on Earth. And of all the things scientists study, weather and climate are certainly near the top when it comes to practical application. When it comes right down to it, scientific investigation of any topic can yield valuable and practical insights about the world around us. That’s one of the silliest and destructive myths about scientists, that many of them study obscure stuff of no use to anyone. Scientists are studying reality, and everyone is connected to reality. How much more practical can it get?

Personally I just think space exploration is the shiznit. I loved exploring as a kid, and never outgrew it. Go somewhere one hasn’t been, see something one hasn’t seen before. And space exploration is the ultimate place to go and see stuff no one has seen before. “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”  Granted that’s questionable grammar and not exactly a feminist way of phrasing it, but fun none the less. And who knew Leonard Nimoy could play the guitar anyhow? OK, it’s been a long hard week and this is devolving into gibberish. Enough.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law. Well, pretty much so, it’s a NASA image and can’t be used in such a way that indicates NASA supports or endorses the party that uses the image. NASA in no way, shape, or form supports or endorses Doug’s Darkworld. Only my miserable day job does that. On the plus side it keeps me in the right downbeat mood to keep blogging.)

Written by unitedcats

February 22, 2013 at 8:07 am