Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category


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Some celebrated Ginsburg’s death. Mitch McConnell didn’t even wait for her body to cool before announcing the Senate would vote on appointing a Trump appointee to the Supreme Court. The very same guy who when a justice died eight months before the last election … blocked any new appointment until after the election. Hypocrisy runs deep in current American politics. If this shitshow can even be called politics. 

The Supreme Court thing is a horrible distraction from the much more pressing issues at hand, like Covid-19 and the economy. And Trump seems determined to ratchet up pressure on Iran and the whole mess in the Middle East just for snids and giggles. Trump is still promising a return to normal in the near future, and lots of people still think it’s going to. I think they’re fooling themselves, but what do I know? Well, more than many I think. 

The USA went off the rails in 1980, and the debacle that is 2020 is the bill coming due. See above image. Another good look at the corrupt core of the problem here:  The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure. And then for fun QAnon is taking on a life of its own: Friends And Family Members Of QAnon Believers Are Going Through A “Surreal Goddamn Nightmare” 

Speaking of nightmares, more cases of Covid-2 reinfection reported: Catalonia reports four cases of Covid-19 reinfection, with one patient in intensive care. Scattered reports world-wide, still not enough data to come to any conclusions. Not a good sign though. The Cold from Hell is what I dubbed Covid-19 early on, and as accurate as ever. Speaking of surreal, we’re reinforcing our uninvited and illegal forces in Syria, because of “Russian aggression.” Except the Russian troops are in Syria at the express invite of the Syrian government, while America is an illegal invading force. 

As an old acquaintance once said, “America is a land where right is wrong, and wrong is right.” I wonder what they think of today. Just in review, and for new readers, my theory is that the world we all grew up in took a mortal blow in December 2019. Covid-19 was the perfect bullet to crumble the house of cards that the neocolonial exploitation of the world was, especially in America, a land buried in corruption, evangelism, and science denial. The corpse is still stumbling forward but it’s dead; science denial and reality denial only work for so long. The horsemen are arriving, deal with it. Don’t worry, Trump  has a plan, teach America’s children to be good little Trumpsters: Trump calls for ‘patriotic education. That how malignant narcissism works, why, the problem is … they’re not thinking like me! 

Just in, Trump says the SCOTUS nominee will be a woman! Brilliant! Insane! Sexist as hell! Why, as long as the nominee has female genitals, the liberals should be happy! Not the point of feminism, but explaining that to the Rush Limbaugh crowd, well, I’ll keep trying. Here’s hoping it’s Sarah Palin. 

The weird alien sitcom reality show that 2020 Trump’s America is … continues  unabated. Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. I have gone into retreat for a bit, but should be able to keep blogging. God, we’re gonna see some crazy shit between now and January. Pull up a chair, I’ll comment as I am able. Share at will. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Tweet attributed to Kane Wishart. Used without permission but legally. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 19, 2020 at 7:20 pm


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2020, the gift that just keeps giving. The ad above (left) was run by the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee,” run by both the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. There’s a few problems with it that I helpfully labelled. The photographer was Russian too, and pretty amused by it all when contacted. The RNC had no comment. 

So a hundred or so thousand years ago, for the very first time, a human or proto human, an ancestor whose DNA story still lives, crumpled or assembled something together into a spherical shape for no particular reason. The first ball. He or she tossed it around. Do apes toss things at each other? (Sort of.) At some point one of them tried to catch the ball, but fumbled it and dropped it. Yes, there was a first time a human dropped the ball. 

And we’ve been dropping it since. This is the sort of stuff I think about. So yeah, terrible fires continue in California. Trump said trees explode causing wildfires. Except he didn’t. He literally said they did, but he was trying to say deadwood is an explosive fire danger, and if it had been cleared out, they wouldn’t be having this problem. Trump’s right, if a hundred years plus of overgrowth and deadwood was cleared away, the fires wouldn’t be this bad. This would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, it’s not a realistic option. Trump also promised cooler weather would fix the problem. He’s a magic man.

Talking to a Covid-19 denier the other day, it once again got to me that a lot of people don’t understand that “the map is not the territory.” How to explain this? It’s why I write. The virtue of the human brain is we have a mental map of reality. “You are here” is a huge advantage over reacting to everything by instinct. When something new shows up, it’s essential to expand the map, not shoehorn the new thing into the map. Thinking covid-19 is “just a flu” is an example of the latter type of thinking. Not helping.

Election stuff keeps going on. Certain amount of MSN attention to “Russians, Iranians, etc. are hacking our election!” True enough, hackers the world over no doubt target everything in the US. So? It’s not like the US is above hacking anything they can. My point here is that if Biden loses the election, no problem: OMG, the Russians/Iranians/Chinese are to blame! Yeah, anything but examine what a travesty the American election system has turned into. Democracy theater, any resemblance to real democracy is a coincidence. Oh, turns out there’s no actual evidence for Russian bounties on US troops in Afghanistan, not that that matters. 

This pissed me off: Violent memes and messages surging on far-left social media, a new report finds. That’s the actual Washington Post headline. And it’s true, but …  in the article: “The report acknowledges that left-wing political actors, including those who embrace the antifa movement, have been responsible for far less violence than white supremacists and other right-wing ones — a finding consistent with the conclusions of law enforcement and other threat analysts.” In other words, right wing violence is still the problem. Nonetheless no doubt Trump and company will seize on this as evidence that if Trump doesn’t get reelected, a wave of left wing violence will destroy the country. 

Gonna be a fun election. So, in Indonesia: Anti-maskers forced to dig graves for COVID-19 victims in Indonesia. They were short grave diggers, anti-maskers had committed a crime, problem solved. Jesus, maybe Covid-19 will usher in Asia as the world leader. Cooperation is the only way to fight Covid-19, enforced or voluntary. A trait Americans seem to have lost. 

And in nightmare news I am still processing, do we have an American Dr. Mengele?: ‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center. I can only hope it’s not as bad as it sounds. Still, humans are capable of terrible evil. Especially towards people not in the tribe. 

So stay safe gentle reader. 2020 continues. Shares, comments, donations appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: A meme I made. Credit: Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2020 at 8:21 pm


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Random notes today. A friend of a friend died of Covid-19. 44, good health. He actually was hospitalized, went home, and took a turn for the worse and died. One would think that as more and more people die, the deniers might start waking up. We’re approaching the point where one out of every one thousand Americans will have died of Covid-19.  The election campaign is more surreal all the time. Trump is now claiming that Biden is controlled by secret forces. “People in the dark shadows” and “people that you haven’t heard of” are working to get Biden elected. WTF is he talking about? No one knows. (Well, the Q-anon people no doubt think they know.) Conspiracy mongering at its best.

Having a president who is a science and reality denier is problematic at the best of times. During a pandemic, more than problematic: It Has Come to This: Ignore the C.D.C. Trump has basically forced the CDC to offer testing guidelines that are based on Trump’s desire to reduce the number of Covid-19 tests given, I guess he’s still thinking fewer cases make him look better. Yes, perception management as opposed to actually dealing with Covid-19.

Progress is being made on understanding Covid-19: A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged. Basically Covid-19 does seem to be a vascular disease, and science is starting to get some idea how it travels around the body wreaking havoc. Ain’t no freaking flu, that’s for sure. The other good thing is that this study suggests that some already FDA approved drugs might be helpful fighting Covid-19.

The Sturgis Motorcycle rally is now a Covid-19 test and trace nightmare. It’s believed that participants returned home to at least 60% of US counties. IE a one week rally was the equivalent of an outbreak in a major city in terms of its spreading potential. We’re not really an intelligent species when it comes right down to it. I think I want that on my gravestone. Anyhow, it was predicted: Revved by Sturgis Rally, COVID-19 infections move fast, far.

Speaking of which, Betsy deVos, the lady Trump put in charge of privatizing America’s public schools, says that the pandemic has been good for the US educational system. Yes, yes she did: Betsy DeVos is now arguing COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately a “good thing” for U.S. public education. It’s not really clear to me what exactly she means, she seems to be claiming it changed things. Strikes me as being akin to saying World War Two was ultimately a good thing for air travel. I guess, but pretty sure we would have developed jet airliners without World War Two. Just more of Trump’s efforts to play down, minimize, distract from the out of control pandemic happening on his watch.

And in some final weirdness, an Evangelical group’s efforts to have a fiberglass dinosaur removed from a McDonalds has come to naught: Christian Group Seeks Removal Of Dinosaur From Tucson McDonald’s. (I hate it when people conflate evangelicals with Christians, the majority of Christians have no problem with science. If anything science has proved that God’s creation is vastly grander than the Iron Age creation myths in the Bible.) Apparently they believe dinosaurs were a hoax made up by scientists to discredit the Bible. 23,000 people liked the Facebook page before it was taken down. The McDonald’s franchise in question said no way, it’s been a local landmark for near 30 years.

Let me guess. They’re Trump supporters. I used to wonder if people like this group were serious. Dinosaurs a hoax, really? By about 1830, nearly 200 years ago, it was irrefutable that Earth was at least millions of years old and there’s never been a global flood. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and about one third of Americans believe stuff that is patented hogwash. This is why we got Trump. And why what was once the most modern country on Earth is sliding backwards. Utter hogwash promulgated for votes and ratings.

Stay safe everyone. My plan as a young person was to go to Mars. Maybe I should have stuck to the plan. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #UtMelioremPeiusAnteTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Walt Kowalski in the movie Gran Torino. I feel like that some days. A great movie that really tried to make important points about racism and how to overcome it. Painfully wrong in some ways, but their base message, racism is BS and people can work to get past it was refreshing. Credit: IDK, used without permission. Hopefully I can be forgiven because I’m plugging and highly recommending the movie, here’s the trailer: Gran Torino. OK, Clint does sing in the final credits, hopefully that will be removed in the director’s cut. Rumor has it he lost a bet.)

Written by unitedcats

September 1, 2020 at 8:07 pm


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

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

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

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

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

So a comment on yesterday’s blog:

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

August 29, 2020 at 8:00 pm

” … yes, low brow but talented con artist who hit it big due to an unlikely set of circumstances.”

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Ah, Dr. Fauci weighs in. The Albert Speer of our time. One could write a book about him, people no doubt will. Glad I’m not in his shoes. So, once again, this is why we need to shut this disease down. Letting it run its course in America will have lasting negative impacts on millions of people. It’s not a flu, it’s not a cold, it isn’t something to be casual about getting if you’re young and healthy. Covid-19 doesn’t give a flying f*ck what you or anyone thinks, and we are paying a terrible price in America because of the infectious hubris of so many of our leaders: Dr. Fauci has some bad news for recovered coronavirus patients.

Trump is getting big laughs in New Zealand, maybe he should go into stand up comedy? Oh, wait, pretty sure that requires a mature sense of humor, which Trump manifestly does not possess. So Trump tried to deflect criticism of his defense against Covid-19 by saying “New Zealand had a big resurgence of Covid-19!” Even more bizarrely, he implied that they had done such a great job suppressing Covid-19 to make Trump look bad. The NZ Prime Minister laughed about it:

She laughed because New Zealand’s recent outbreak of 45 cases in no way, shape, or form compares to America’s near 50,000 new cases a day: Trump’s Claim Of A New Zealand Surge Is ‘Patently Wrong,’ Ardern Says.

Turns out Trump calling for a boycott of Goodyear was in response to a deliberately inaccurate and misleading tweet. Rather than spending 30 seconds fact checking, he decided to try to destroy Americans’ jobs and livelihoods in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis virtually unrivaled in living memory. In a key election battleground state to boot. The mind reels. I just don’t even understand what’s happening any more. If we get through the election without major … problems … I’ll drink some lite beer. I dunno.

Today’s theory is that the only thing that will save America now is God, aliens, or AI. All are fairly unlikely. The only difference between the three is that if God or aliens exist, logically they’re already here. Give that some thought gentle reader. A human built AI, maybe not yet. Though it could already be here too. In any event, basic game theory says the strategy is to avoid major issues with them. If a benevolent God, aliens, or AI appear on the scene … best to be on good terms with them. Yes, Roko’s Basilisk. Or The Game, which I just lost. A metaphor for life.

I repeat stuff a lot in these posts lately. These posts get out to a random audience. And I’m blogging in the midst of  a great historical sea change. Covid-19 is going to change everything. The world we all grew up in has been dealt a mortal blow. Protect yourself and your loved ones, try to make the world a better place than you found it. That’s why I write.

Oh, I garden and build stuff too. Stay safe everyone, a new world awaits whatever happens in the next months in America. We’re all Alice now.  Share at will. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #MundiSolisOccasum

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Doctor Fauci. Credit: NIAID

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

(Image 2: Used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2020 at 7:41 pm


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You just can’t make this shit up: Trump demands boycott of Goodyear Tire — which employs thousands of US workers. Why? Because they asked their workers not to wear or display political slogans, endorsements, etc. A perfectly reasonable (and completely legal and constitutional) rule to keep political disputes out of the workplace. Especially reasonable during the most toxic election campaign in living memory. And Trump has worked very hard to make the election as toxic as possible, regaling the American people with the most horrific fear mongering about the Democrats. No, the Democrats don’t want to open the borders, take away people’s guns, ban Christianity, or turn America into a Stalinesque gulag. They just want a well run country, with justice and equal opportunity for all.

It’s all just effing weird. I’m really starting to see how magical thinking has permeated America from the beginning, even more so in recent decades. It started off when the founding fathers created this wonderful new country based on freedom and democracy! Well, with a few exceptions: Slaves. Indians. Women. Non-property owners. It was a great moment in history, our new lords and masters declared us free! Don’t get me wrong, the concept of individual human rights and constitutional democracy is a good one, it just needs to be more widely implemented.

So magical thinking. Another example of thoughts I have had recently. Trump’s claim that he has saved millions of lives with his response to Covid-19 is magical thinking. “If we hadn’t done it my way, the result would have been worse!” is a defense one could use to defend any course of action. There certainly are circumstances where it would be a valid claim, but when your actions consisted of mostly bragging, doing nothing, and blame shifting; and your country was hit far worse by Covid-19 than any other country, it’s a magical defense. It requires multiple layers of special pleading to be a valid argument, which makes it a weak argument indeed.

Trump’s claim to have saved millions from Covid-19 is the American way of thinking. Truman used the exact same argument to justify killing 200,000 civilians with nuclear weapons. We saved a million lives by killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people! Wait, what? There are plenty of historians, not to mention contemporaries of the event, who thought otherwise. I don’t ask people who think the nuclear bombs on Japan attacks are justified to change their minds. I just ask them to think about the idea that their claim is no different than Trump’s claim to have saved millions of American lives through his actions.

I don’t expect many believers of either claim will change their thinking anytime soon. Once humans get a hold of an idea, it sinks in. Why yes, this is going somewhere. This isn’t just my obsessive need to write every day as my world ends. (OK, it is.) The idea that Covid-19 was “just a flu with a higher than usual mortality rate, mostly among the elderly and sick” really got established quickly and deeply. Even in much of the medical community. I hadn’t really realized the medical community was slow to pick up on it. The human brain is a pattern recognition sense. We slot new things into existing categories. So no surprise I guess.

Yeah. Reality is not required to conform to our idea of how reality should be. There will be tests. Covid-19 is one of them. So yes, this: Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19. Basically an article pointing out that a lot of people are having long term lingering effects from Covid-19, unlike colds or flus that one completely gets over in a week or two at most. Science is starting to pick up on it, a number of studies have yielded alarming results. Personal experience, I know half a dozen people plus who got Covid-19. One died, several were hospitalized, most still haven’t fully recovered.

Don’t get Covid-19. You or someone you love will regret it. Don’t spread Covid-19, you or someone you love will regret it. This is not a drill. This is not a hoax. This is not a nefarious Hollywood movie style plot. No, Covid-19 is like the thing in the Southern Reach Trilogy. (Don’t read it, you’ll never sleep properly again and Oumuamua will haunt your dreams.) Hopefully not as bad, but half a million dead Americans by year’s end is not outside the realm of possibility.

Jesus wept. I write to stay sane, not sure if it’s working. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #MundiSolisOccasum

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image from Facebook. Attribution unknown, used without permission. Claiming Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 19, 2020 at 7:41 pm


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. A Tully Monster. Credit: Nobu Tamura  Reproduced here under a creative commons licence.)

Written by unitedcats

August 17, 2020 at 7:53 pm


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by unitedcats

August 16, 2020 at 8:11 pm


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Trump’s latest accomplishment … free the showerheads.  An American is dying every minute, and Trump wants to deregulate shower heads because he doesn’t like low flow showerheads. The man’s priorities have always been … interesting. They are getting more bizarre by the day. That’s just the weird Trump news of the day. The bad Trump news of the day, Trump admits he is hampering the US Postal Service to hamper mail in voting. In other words, he’s trying to prevent Americans from voting. The voter mail  fraud he’s talking about is completely in his imagination, but hey, pretty much everything about this election is more or less imaginary.

Imaginary because there is only one issue this election, everything else is a distraction at best. And it boggles my mind. So many Americans are living in a fog. Try to think of this way, this is as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor … and six months later Roosevelt has neither declared war nor mobilized the military. The Japanese captured the Philippines and other American holdings, killing over 150,000 Amercans in the process. The Americans attacked by the Japanese fight like hell of course, but most of the rest of us are living in a fog.

Future generations, not to mention the contemporary rest of the world, can’t make any sense of this. Why isn’t America fighting Covid-19 on a national level? Americans are dying at a greater rate than they died in World War Two, yet no one is protesting that? Where’s our fucking militia?! You know, the guys who love to strut their militia rifles at political protests? Why aren’t they out there fighting Covid-19? They could have turned this whole invisible enemy war around if they had leaped to America’s defense.

So I’m pretty angry. The president thinks he can BS his way through Covid-19. It’s painfully obvious at this point that his core supporters would eat yellow snow if Trump touted its benefits. There’s always been people who could mesmerize their followers. Obama and Clinton both have staunch supporters, despite their manifest obsequiousness to corporate America. The media of my youth, when we had a free press in America, would be railing about the Covid-19 catastrophe every day. Those days are gone.

Today’s theory is that America has collectively gone mad. The 21st century will be the century of American insanity. One of the richest, most powerful, most amazing people the world has ever known completely lost touch with reality both politically and personally. 9/11 was a kidney stab, idk. It spawned Truthers and Birthers. Both theories devoid of evidence or even common sense. It just went downhill from there. Anti-vaxxers. Tea party. Russiagate. Benghazi. And now Q-Anon, a political movement and moral panic based on a hoax.

So it’s a really weird time here in America. Here’s my positive fantasy for the night. Biden is a smart puppy, so is Harris. You don’t get to their status in modern America without brains and savvy. (A few exceptions apply.) They win, by a landslide in the election. With a lock on the house and the Senate. A mandate like Obama had in 2008. Trump doesn’t bow out gracefully, but any crazy orders he issued are ignored or countermanded. And when inaugurated, Biden/Harris come out for Medicare for All, taxing the rich, and of course declaring war on Covid-19 and launching a national response to it.

A man can dream. In 2016 I held a thin hope Trump would go Carnegie after elected, and follow up on his health care for all, infrastructure spending, tax the rich, and drain the swamp promises. Yeah, no. And now no matter what happens, both parties are so divorced from reality that any election they lose will be blamed on outside influences. The toxic legacy of Russiagate.

Hopes and prayers aren’t working against Covid-19. I’ll vote for anyone who has a better idea.

Stay safe everyone. 1500 deaths a day now. No one wants to catch or spread this disease. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook, attribution in the meme. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 13, 2020 at 6:08 pm


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Trump said something yesterday that neatly encompasses why we are so screwed. He announced he was going to allow border officials to prevent the return of Americans suspected of having Covid-19: Trump mulls banning return of US citizens suspected of contracting coronavirus: reports There are a number of problems with this idea.

The first, is that it is somewhere between pointless and microscopically useful. Covid-19 is spreading just fine in the United States, and only patchwork efforts are being made by individual states to control it. So a few more or less possibly infected people coming into the country isn’t going to make any difference until we get it under control inside the country. Which we are nowhere near doing, we’re not even trying on a national level. This ban will literally have no effect on the fight against Covid-19 in America, because we aren’t fighting Covid-19 in America.

Which brings us to point number two, why is Trump doing this? I can only think of two possibilities. He thinks this will help fight Covid-19. Which once again demonstrates his poor grasp of the problem and his overconfidence in his own abilities. Or it’s just Covid-19 theater for scoring political/bragging points. Neither possibility reflects Trump in a good light.

Lastly, Jeez barring American citizens from their homeland? Isn’t Trump supposed to be looking out for Americans? If Obama had barred American citizens from returning home … screams of outrage from the GOP would resound across the land. Once again this is an example of how Americans have paralyzed their country by seeing everything through a political lens. Reality doesn’t give a fuck about politics. Or religion, no matter how much one believes in their invisible superfriend.

So what should Trump be doing? What pretty much every other country has done, returning citizens are quarantined for a few weeks, then they can go home. There’s all sorts of hotels crying out for business. Of course since we are just letting Covid do its free range thing in the US, returnees would  probably be safer just staying in quarantine. Which brings us back to the beginning. As long as the USA isn’t launching a national test/trace/quarantine program, everything else we do in the name of fighting Covid-19 is basically irrelevant.

Sigh. Today Trump said if he’s not re-elected, we will all have to learn Chinese. I wish I was making this up, I can’t call it scaremongering, because the Chinese are no threat to America militarily. So what is he talking about? He’s claiming we were crushing China economically before Covid-19, and Biden will surrender economically to China if he’s elected. And China will “own” America? It makes no sense, Biden works for the same rich and corporate interests as Trump, they aren’t planning on surrendering to China anytime soon. Trump’s core base will eat it up though

Back to reality, I read this interesting article from Australia: We are witnessing the fall of a great power. It reiterates a lot of my thinking, and seems logical and factual. The objections I have seen raised to it are, well, unimpressive. If the gentle reader has any major points of disagreement, please comment. We’ve turned politics into a tribal religion in America, and that’s pretty much the end of effective government. 160,000 plus dead, with Covid-19 still out of control. The economy in tatters with no relief in sight. And neither party seems interested in anything but partisan posturing?

Yeah, we’re hosed. I hope I’m wrong. Oh, Biden picked Kamala Harris as a running mate. Honestly, I don’t really care. In fact my first impulse is to say she’s the Geraldine Ferraro of her time. Probably my last impulse too. It doesn’t really change much, Biden’s platform is “I’m not Trump.” Will it be enough to win in November? Damned if I know. Will it matter if he does or doesn’t ? Double damned if I know.

Stay safe friends and readers. We’re slowly getting to the fun part of the epidemic where almost everyone will know a victim. Will it change people’s minds? Probably not. Only the complete collapse of the system will do that. Hang on, it’s on the way. Comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘A tree dreams of fall.’ I love photography, capturing moments in time and place. And other things. Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

August 11, 2020 at 7:42 pm