Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

AMERICA, THE FALL OF

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I’m sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Personal issues on the one hand, and crushing dismay about the current situation in America on the other. For the third time this century I am filled with foreboding for what the future holds for America, knowing that we are headed down a dark path that’s not going to end well. The first was the aftermath of 9/11 and the launching of the “War on Terror.” I knew it was to unleash global violence and terror on a hitherto unknown scale. I tried to drink my way through the invasion of Iraq, but soon realised there wasn’t enough liquor in the world to make the horror go away. And it hasn’t, hundreds of thousands of dead innocents, millions displaced, entire nations turned into failed states and terrorist havens, trillions of dollars wasted, hundreds of thousands of American vets dead or scarred physically/mentally … and it just keeps going on like some cosmic juggernaut of blood and failure.

And then came Covid. I knew it was going to change everything, especially in a US that was especially ill prepared to deal with a global pandemic. And it certainly has, hundreds of thousands dead, our society torn apart, and the rich richer than ever. Third or fourth worst mass death event in US history. Almost everyone has lost someone they knew, I lost my dad. With no end in sight, though half of Americans are still in denial about it. And/or actively resisting efforts to fight it. Which leads us to number three …

Number three is the fact that maybe a third of the country has lost their minds and is living in a fantasy world completely detached from reality. Granted this has been happening more and more since the news turned into infotainment in the 1980s, but since Trump got elected the trend has significantly increased. QAnon is a great example. It’s been four years since the mysterious “Q” began posting messages about the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton. No arrest yet, but the Q theories are more believed than ever: QAnon Is 4 Years Old and Believers Are Still Waiting for Hillary Clinton’s Arrest. And since Trump’s election defeat in November, it’s gotten vastly worse. His followers actually believe that the election was stolen from him and that the Biden administration is wielding some sort of Satanic/communist/socialist tyranny in America.

So I fear our near 250 year experiment in constitutional democracy is nearing its end. Trump is no Julius Caesar except in his own mind, but like Caesar, he is determined to bring down the republic and install himself as emperor. I think he will succeed, and it’s not going to be pretty. The GOP is doing everything in its power to get rid of the officials that opposed Trump’s baseless stolen election claims, disenfranchising poor and minority voters, and passing laws allowing GOP controlled state legislatures to overturn election results they don’t like. So I think the GOP will regain control of congress in 2022, and Trump will be back in the White House, effectively as president for life, in 2024.

I have no idea what is actually going to transpire, but the GOP isn’t playing by the rules anymore. (No one ever does once they convince themselves God is on their side.) Or more accurately, they are going to make up their own rules and play by them. No one knew exactly what the rise of Hitler was going to lead to, but plenty of people guessed it wasn’t going to end well. I’m starting to think that partitioning the country may well happen. Widespread violence is not out of the question. When Trump came to power there were already comparisons to Hitler. At the time I said they were overblown, Hitler was having his political enemies rounded up and killed the first year he was in office. That didn’t happen in 2017, Trump’s first year in office. It may well happen in 2025, Trump’s second first year in office. Some are certainly calling for it.

Future historians will no doubt spend centuries analyzing the rise and fall of the greatest empire ever known. And no doubt ultimately they will never know for sure. Hundreds of competing theories about the fall of the Roman Empire still exist, over 1500 years of debate has yet to come to a consensus. Well, other than “It was a lot of things.” The next few years are going to be a sheetshow in America. I hope I’m wrong. Stay safe everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A section of “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Credit: Heironymous Bosch c1450-1516)

Written by unitedcats

October 29, 2021 at 4:44 pm

COLONIAL BIAS ILLUSTRATED, SPACE STATIONS, SPACE SUITS, AND ELECTION NEWS OF THE DAY

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A group of stone camel carvings in Saudi Arabia has turned out to be far older than anyone guessed. When scientists first examined them, they were thought to be about 2000 years old. A recent study puts them at 7000-8000 years old: Saudi Arabia camel carvings dated to prehistoric era This makes them about twice as old as Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza. Quite the mystery, at this point there’s no real idea why people went to so much trouble, I mean this took a lot of work to carve these into cliff sides. The camel was domesticated right around the time they were carved, but that still doesn’t lead anywhere except into speculation. More images of them can be seen here: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia

Note that last headline: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia. And in the BBC article linked above it also says these carvings were discovered in a remote area of Saudi Arabia in 2018. In fact, pretty much every link I can find about them repeats the claim that they were discovered in 2018. Then look at the image above. An image that dates from 2018. What’s in the background? Buildings, roads, and a cultivated field in the upper left. So how the hell were they only discovered in 2018? It’s not like they were buried or hidden in some way, they are right there in  plain sight. Obviously lots of people knew about them.

So really, the carvings were discovered by western science in 2018. I know, it may seem like quibbling over semantics, but words matter. They are in fact how our world view is constructed. Saying the carvings were only discovered by the western world, IE white people, in a not so subtle way implies that the brown people living there didn’t matter. It’s the same linguistic trick as saying Columbus discovered the New World, even though people were waiting for him on the beach. And in his day those people didn’t matter, they were simply another resource for Europeans to exploit. An attitude that continued on for centuries, for example the 19th century US Supreme Court ruled that Indians couldn’t own land.

I’m not saying this bias is conscious, but like all sorts of language biases, it’s what people learned growing up. Ageism, sexism, ableism are also woven into our language. Colonialism is no different. And I think learning to spot these sorts of biases can really help one see the world more clearly. At least for those who want to do so. A small minority from my experience. Oh well, enough for today’s self improvement lesson, on to science!

The ISS is nearing the end of its expected lifetime: The Aging ISS | NeuroLogica Blog. About 20-30 years is about it for things in space. Space is an uncompromisingly harsh environment, everywhere on Earth is a gentle paradise in comparison. So does this mean that giant space stations (not to mention the coming space hotels) will have to be rebuilt at fabulous expense every few decades? No, there’s a nifty solution that is almost certainly the wave of the future. Giant space structures will be built out of modules (well, they already are,) but built in such a way that each module is easily replaceable. That way one doesn’t have to rebuild from scratch, one just replaces individual modules. Leads to interesting philosophical situations, like with the USS Constitution. Launched in 1797, it’s the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, still (technically) in service today. However, since it was launched, about 80% of it has been replaced, only 20% is original to 1797. Presumably it will eventually get to 100%, will it still be the same ship? I leave that for the philosophers to debate.

Speaking of new things in space, efforts are being made to design the next generation of space suits. Wait, didn’t we have working space suits in the 1960s, when the astronauts went to the Moon? Yes, yes we did. They were also incredibly clumsy and uncomfortable, and wore out in a few days. And not a whole lot of progress has been made since. It may look easy in Hollywood movies, reality is harder. Just spacesuit gloves for example. They have to be very stiff so they don’t just balloon out and be unusable, but still be moveable. Which means they are stiff and hard to manipulate, so that astronauts fingers will be torn up after a few hours use. Some astronauts even have their fingernails removed before space missions to avoid tearing them off in space suits! They don’t mention that in The Right Stuff. Or maybe they do, I never saw the movie. Anyhow, NASA is on the job:  New Spacesuits | NeuroLogica Blog.

One last quick item in the news. The GOP’s effort to recall California Governor Newsom failed spectacularly. He in fact won by more of a margin than Biden defeated Trump. Interesting indeed because of two things. First, the Governor had enraged pretty much all sensible people by repeatedly violating Covid restrictions he had put in place, hypocrisy on that level has destroyed more than one political career. Secondly, Trump supported the recall! Some are saying this may be the beginning of the end for Trumpism: A clear repudiation: Larry Elder’s mammoth defeat may signal the death rattle of Trumpism. It’s possible. I mean there’s no doubt Trump and his supporters will make utterly unfounded accusations of voter fraud, but maybe it’s becoming clearer to a lot of people that Trump’s endless lies about voter fraud are in fact just that, lies. “We were cheated!” gets old in any context when it’s all the losers have, from sports to politics and everywhere in between.

We’ll see. Fun times in America. Another one or two 9/11 posts are in the works. Hope all are having a good week. Stay safe gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:Camel carvings in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Haaretz? Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, not being used for profit, only image available that illustrates my contention in the post, and Haaretz is paywalled now so I couldn’t even find the attribution. Sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2021 at 5:36 pm

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

MYSTERY PHOTO, THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN 2021, PERFORMATIVE PROGRESSIVISM, MASKS WORK, MARS PHOTOS, AND NONCONTRAFREELOADING CATS

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Yes, covering a lot of bases in this post. Leading off with a mystery photo, what the hell is going on here? I’ll leave for the gentle reader to ponder, answer at the end of the post. What a week it’s been. The situation in Afghanistan is ugly, no doubt about it. Not sure I can add anything new, so enough of that for now. As is so often my format, a few interesting links I’ve stumbled onto, and my observations about them.

Well, OK, maybe something peripheral about Afghanistan, this link: As Joe Biden walks America away from the world stage Europe is left exposed. I offer this article because it is a great example of the colonial bias that infects the mainstream media. The implicit idea that somehow running the world is America and its allies’ business. The modern version of “The White Man’s Burden.” Truth be told it would be harder to find a part of the world with as little strategic importance to the west as Afghanistan, America’s withdrawal from it is about as strategically unimportant as it gets. The only real mystery is why the USA under the aegis of Nato stayed there as long as they did, the weird pronouncements in the article about how Europe was somehow affected by America’s withdrawal notwithstanding.

In American politics: California recall looks like a disaster — and the state’s top Democrats paved the way. Yes, the GOP might well win the recall election they instigated in California. Why, isn’t California a mostly Democratic progressive state? Yes, yes it is. However, the government of California, like the Biden administration, isn’t really progressive, all they have is performative progressivism. IE they talk the talk, but when it comes to getting progressive policies established, they sell out to their corporate masters every time. Great way to inspire Democratic voters to stay home.

Granted, the GOP is into performative Christianity and performative conservatism in the same fashion, but they have been vastly better at stoking the outrage that drives Republican voters to vote. (I mean they kind of have too, they don’t actually stand for anything anymore, so fearmongering and stoking outrage is all the GOP has.) And science is really starting to get a handle on how social media amplifies outrage without even trying: Social Media Outrage | NeuroLogica Blog. So no surprise here. Trump is in fact particularly good at stoking outrage, in social media and off. I mean he stoked outrage to the point where he got a mob to storm the Capitol, gotta give the man his props, when it comes to fear mongering Trump is in a league of his own. Well, maybe shared with another world leader who was a master at stoking outrage, but he left the world stage some 76 years ago.

In Covid news just another reminder that despite all the flaming BS in some quarters, masks do indeed work. As the good doctor puts it: “It is nothing less than shameful that we are still bogged down in the basic question of whether or not wearing a mask during a deadly and increasingly infectious pandemic is effective. The science is in – masks work.” Here is the article: Masks Work | NeuroLogica Blog. The doctor is far more diplomatic than me. There’s governors and legislatures and such actually outlawing mask mandates, because freedumb? Covid has really fucked up public discourse: Seven Cognitive Distortions Poisoning COVID Debates

— Our society is more and more incapable of debating real issues.

Sigh, OK, a few science links to cleanse the palate. The next link is primarily of interest to science nerds and especially Mars nerds, it’s still amazing to me that when I was a kid all we knew about Mars was a few fuzzy telescope pictures, and now we have robots galore exploring it: See some of the most intriguing photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover so far. And cats, breakthroughs in cat science are always exciting. Turns out cats are the only known animal so far that doesn’t exhibit contrafreeloading.

Wait, what’s contrafreeloading? Well, say an animal is given a choice between freely available food, and food they have to do something to get. This was first tried on rats, a colony of rats had a choice between a bowl of food, or identical food they had to push a lever to get. Most of the time the rats went for the food where they had to push a lever to get. And follow up studies found this in every animal they tested, the animals had a preference for food that they had to do something to obtain. Wild animals, domestic animals, they all exhibited this behaviour, which was labeled contrafreeloading. And frankly, scientists still don’t know why animals have this preference, it seems counterintuitive, why not go for the easy food?

And to make the situation even more confusing, exactly one animal doesn’t exhibit this behavior, our beloved moggies: Cute Experiment Reveals How Your Cat Probably Wants Its Meals Served. Obviously since science can’t explain contrafeeloading, they are pretty much at a loss to explain why cats don’t exhibit this behavior. They’re pretty sure it’s not because cats are simply lazy, though one can be forgiven for thinking that. My theory is they’re just smarter than other animals, but I think that of cats no matter what. Cat science marches on.

So, the mystery pic. A man holding a bird outside a tank, yes, that’s a World War One tank. Fast food delivery? Peace offering? Some demented tanker’s idea of a joke? Nope, that’s a carrier pigeon. The interior of the first tanks were so noisy that the crew inside had to communicate using hand signals with each other. And since it was so noisy, radios couldn’t be used to communicate with the outside world. Yet the tank still needed to be able to communicate with HQ. The solution? Each tank carried two carrier pigeons, and there was indeed a special hatch for releasing them. Carrier pigeons were widely used in World War One, and interestingly enough, one such message was discovered recently in France.

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay safe and cool. Looks like the hurricane is going to miss New York, maybe I’ll publish a bonus post this weekend.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: World War One tank and carrier pigeon. Credit: Unknown, but Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

TAHLEQUAH AND THE STATE OF THE UNION

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Here I am in beautiful Tahlequah Oklahoma. This is the gravesite of Mr Ed of 1960s TV fame. He was a horse of course. His real name was Bamboo Harvester. I think horse names are drawn from a hat, but to all his fans he will be forever Mr Ed. His grave is in a back yard, and not well kept up, but at least someone left flowers. And he is surrounded by woods, meadows, songbirds, and wildflowers. A pretty nice place to spend eternity. And it’s possible I may spend a big chunk of my remaining living eternity around here myself.

So I am on vacation. I had to flee Iowa. Drove to Oregon, was underwhelmed by the town I arrived at. Drove to Tahlequah, like what I see, and will be here for a few more days seeing the sites. Soon I will visit the only Civil War battle site where whites were in the minority on both sides! Tahlequah is where the Cherokee were brought to after the Trail of Tears, and it’s been the heart of the Cherokee nation since then. Lovely country. Lovely cats.

This is Luna. First time in 20 years a cat has bonded with me. Follows me around. Waits for me at the door. Suffers from CLS as one can tell from the picture. That’s a common but little known feline ailment: Collapsible Leg Syndrome. There is no known cure, but fortunately there is a highly effective treatment: Vigorously rub the belly. Luna obviously wants me to stick around. That may have been her mom’s plan all along. Invite me to Oklahoma, where I will fall in love with the beautiful country and her cats and stay forever. Her plan may work, especially since mom is the cat’s pajamas herself.

In world news:

How’s that for a segue? Times are not good: MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule. That’s the big picture. Lots of little just-as-ugly pictures. The “stop the Steal” insanity continues in the US. Hearings have started on the January 6th insurrection. The GOP (with a few rational exceptions) is trying to pretend it was just a boisterous but peaceful protest. And that it was the Democrats’ fault. All codswaddle.

Speaking of codswaddle, Mike Lindell continues to claim that on August 13th Biden and Harris will resign after Lindell presents his proof of the election steal. Apparently unaware that if Biden and Harris did resign (please, please Trump supporters, do hold your breath,) Nancy Pelosi would be sworn in as president, not Trump. Yeah, I have a hard time with people who still support Trump. His lies about winning the election are just that, lies. And the January 6th insurrection was a treasonous Trump incited attempt to overturn a free and fair election. Trump is the only president in modern times never to even hit a 50% approval rating, he was a terribly unpopular president, and it’s no surprise he lost the election. His hordes of still loyal followers are misguided, sorry my fellow Trump loving Americans, your boy is lying to you.

But no, I don’t want right wingers destroyed, I just want them to have universal health care, a living wage, affordable college education, and bodily autonomy. What a monster I am for thinking Americans deserve as good a deal as the residents of the rest of the developed world. Yes, we’d have to cut our beyond bloated war budget and raise taxes on the rich, but neither would be a problem for America.

One last meme:

I agree, sums it up nicely. Real faith respects all life, political or performative faith kills to get votes. Pretty sure God appreciates the guys on the left, not the God poser on the right.

Stay safe and cool everyone. “Satan called, he wants his weather bacK” pretty much sums it up. #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Images: Top and second: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Bottom two, found on Facebook, attribution in images, shared without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 28, 2021 at 8:26 am

ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG

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Oh boy, getting ready to move so blogging has been a low priority. I would have moved already, but I needed to have a storage space for my stuff built first. LOL. Yes, every storage space near me was full with a waiting list. Then I found one that was in the process of building a new building so I rented a storage space that hasn’t been built yet. Fortunately they are making good progress, a few days ago it was just a concrete slab, drove by yesterday and the building was nearly complete. I can only hope they are working through the weekend. Looking forward to hitting the road.

Stuff keeps on happening in the bizarre imaginary world modern America has turned into in front of my horrified gaze. One of them is illustrated above: Mike Lindell made an insane election conspiracy diagram that has to be seen to be believed. It’s bizarre to say the least, looks like something a deeply unmedicated schizophrenic would come up with. (No ableism intended, just couldn’t think of a better way of saying it.) And then there’s this: Trump Supporters Insist Far-Fetched 7-Point Plan Will Get Him Back In Office. At least this one has the benefit of being easy to understand. The first three steps are fantasy, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. Save the date though, August 13 is when Trump claims he’ll be back in the oval office.

In other American news, statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are being taken down in Charlottesville, North Carolina: Charlottesville set to remove Robert E Lee statue that sparked rally. These were two “heroes” of the Confederacy, so they never should have been installed on public property in the first place. These were men who took up arms against their nation because they wanted to keep human beings as (rapeable) property. Hardly people to memorialize. That’s the lost cause myth though, the idea that the Confederacy was some sort of noble state’s right cause crushed by northern aggression. It’s high time all glorification of the Confederacy was removed from public spaces, so this is progress.

A good article that looks into the history of the religious right’s opposition to social change of any sort, linking the Scopes monkey trial to today’s attacks on Critical Race Theory: Experts beware: America may be headed for a Scopes moment. The main takeaway, it’s a long article, is that the religious right always wildly misrepresents things like Evolution and Critical Race Theory in their attacks upon them. Worth a read. Oh, and my observation, gee, the very same people who insist that creationism should be taught in schools so children can understand the controversy … don’t think that CRT should be taught for the same reason? Basically the bottom line is the religious right only want their narrow interpretation of history taught in schools, they’d dump the teaching of evolution in a heartbeat if they could do so.

Basically America isn’t a modern civilized educated country. And it’s not just the religious right:  QuestionPro Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Americans Believe in UFOs. No surprise since even the Pentagon has gotten on the UFO train: The Pentagon Lies About UFOs – But Not Always For The Reasons You’d Expect (Updated). There’s as much evidence for aliens on Earth as there is for the existence of angels and demons. People still believe in them too: Did a Demon Appear at Biden’s Speech? And ‘Prophet’ Claims Biden Has Demonic ‘Serpent Eyes,’ Defends Trump’s Election Win. Even the BBC is promoting nonsense these days:The BBC Indulges in Bizarre Pseudohistorical Stonehenge Speculation. Sigh.

In foreign news, a group of foreign mercenaries made their way into Haiti and murdered the country’s acting president in his home: Haiti president’s assassination: What we know so far. A nightmarish event for one of the world’s poorest and most long suffering nations. I wish I had an answer, but I do know that death squads and political assassinations are the epitome of evil. The two Americans involved should be flown back to the USA, and executed on the tarmac on live TV. Alas the world’s rulers for the most part have no problem with death squads so long as they’re killing the people they want killed. If killing people solved problems the world would be a paradise. Sadly I don’t see it stopping anytime soon, in the USA at least the peace and antiwar movement has been so sidelined and delegitimized by the powers that be that it might as well not even exist.

Oh well, since messed up North America appears to be today’s default theme, a good article on the North American heat wave: The North American Heatwave | NeuroLogica Blog. While one can never say with certainty whether a weather event is related to global warming, the odds that an event this extreme would have occurred without global warming are vanishingly small. The well funded denier lobby will continue their work though, and global warming will continue to pick up steam.

Lastly, some good news from Florida’s Surfside condo collapse. First though, I saw an observation about this terrible event that I thought was right on the money, paraphrased: “The surfside condo didn’t collapse because of terrorism or some natural disaster, it collapsed because of shoddy construction and maintenance, internal rot basically. In so many ways a metaphor for modern America.” Yerp, our infrastructure, education, and health care is the embarrassment of the developed world, but our military could blow up the world a dozen times over! Couldn’t defeat the Taliban … but I digress.

Yes, the good news, a Surfside condo survivor was found! His name is Binx. He’s a cat: Cat missing in Surfside condo collapse found alive; death toll climbs to 79. He lived on the ninth floor and it’s not exactly clear how he escaped with his life, as he was just found in the vicinity of the ruins. May well have jumped to safety, cats can and do survive falls from great heights. Must be nice knowing you don’t need no freaking ladder or landing pad or parachute, just jump!

Hope all are having a good weekend. Next post, Afghanistan. Looks like America’s role in this sheetshow is finally over. Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Pillow Guy’s whiteboard about how Trump is still president. Used without permission, but claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Hell, I’m sharing his wisdom with the world, people will see this illustration and flock to Trump’s defense! How could he object?)

Written by unitedcats

July 10, 2021 at 6:08 pm

THIS IS AMERICA

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July 4th 2021. America celebrates its Independence Day. 245 years ago today a group of wealthy white male property (and slave) owning Americans declared independence from Great Britain. Yes discerning gentle reader, if one wants to read a fawning celebration of an imaginary America, this isn’t the place. There were some great things about America and its founding: the idea of Constitutional government, indivisible human rights, and representative democracy. Sadly these are more honoured in the breach than in the observance. So today a few somber reflections. First a poem:

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

That’s the first three stanzas, the entire poem can be read here: Let America Be America Again.

The poem reminded me of this: Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video). What can I say, there are great things to celebrate about America. There are however terrible things, ongoing things, things that are horrific compared to the rest of the world. Pretending otherwise isn’t patriotic by my way of thinking. Pretending that in some mythical past things were better is even less patriotic.

Lastly, I was hoping Trump would come through with some July 4th pronouncement I could use to end this post. Alas, no. However, Trump junior came through! He posted the image above. At the very best, this is weird as fook. On so many levels one could write a book about it. If immortality is discovered and available to me, maybe I will.

Until then, happy Fourth. Patriotic BS aside, at least people and families came together on this holiday. I did my best, weirdest Fourth ever, but at least I honored it with this post. (Criticizing America is honoring it, claiming that dissent doesn’t honor it … is literally the ultimate way of dishonoring America.)

Speaking of ultimate: The Ultimate Showdown [4K Remaster]. Safe and happy Fourth everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Posted by Trump Jr, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2021 at 7:21 pm

Posted in History, Politics, Trump

LIFE HACK: BE EXTREMELY RICH AND HAVE AN ARMY OF LAWYERS. PLUS OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY.

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Well, no surprise here, it’s what the blog title references: Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned By State Supreme Court. It was the correct legal decision, can’t fault the court. Just another example of how the legal system protects those with money and power. The evidence that Cosby is a sick fork who drugged and raped women is overwhelming, plus plenty of other testimony that he is a creepy control freak in general, for example: Reporter Who Interviewed Cosby in ’92: He Was ‘Intimidating and Menacing’ He’s the darling of racists though: The Pound Cake speech.

It’s been a strange few days. Here’s a good one: The ‘Biblical view’ that’s younger than the happy meal. Basically the idea that the Bible prohibits abortion and says life begins at conception dates from about 1980. Before then evangelicals felt the same as everyone else, it’s not a person until it’s born. And now that’s completely changed, largely driven by politics. People love to think they are making up their own minds about things, when in fact most of them are easily manipulated into believing all sorts of things. A problem that’s getting worse as the sciences of advertising and propaganda learn new ways to manipulate people constantly.

OK, a nice nature story. (Snort.) The ‘ecological hate speech’ developed around wildfire. Basically the logging industry and their subsidiary, the US Forest Service, have totally controlled the narrative about forest management. And lo and behold they’ve created a widely believed narrative which justifies maximum logging at terrible environmental cost. Greed is the most powerful force in the Universe. Read the article for the details, but it’s hella depressing. Especially how Trump fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Speaking of politics: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens to strip members of committee assignments if they join the Jan. 6 investigation, reports say. We can thank the Dems for weaponizing this, I predicted such after the Dems voted to deny MTG her committee appointments. Congress was already an ineffective partisan farce, now it’s sunk deeper into irrelevancy. Though to give them their props, sometimes they get things right: House Votes to Remove ‘Grotesque’ Confederate Statues from Display in U.S. Capitol. The Confederacy was the greatest crime in American history, their revolt cost a million freaking lives. And they revolted because they wanted to keep human beings as property because of the color of their skin! No sheet the leaders of this treason shouldn’t be on display in the U.S. Capitol.

And the National Guard is apparently now guns-for-hire, a junk-car billionaire is paying for the deployment of 50 National Guardsmen on the southern border: Willis Johnson, Junk-Car Billionaire, Bankrolls Kristi Noem’s Border Deployment. This might technically be legal, but it certainly shouldn’t be. I think it’s safe to say that the astute reader could see how having the military undertake missions at the behest of billionaires could lead to major problems. Usually slippery slope arguments are bogus, but in this case, no, I don’t want Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos deciding where the US military gets deployed. I don’t think anyone does.

Sigh. A few missed holidays. June 30th was Asteroid Day. A UN sponsored day to spread awareness of asteroids and the risks they pose. June 30th was chosen because the Tunguska Event occurred on June 30th, 1908. This was a ten to thirty megaton explosion in the sky over a remote part of Siberia. That’s like a really big nuclear explosion, vastly larger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately it was over such a remote area that maybe only three people were killed. And it was so remote that it wasn’t scientifically investigated for decades. And even when it was investigated, well, there had been a huge explosion, but no impact crater! What the hell?

It was quite the mystery. And in fact (no surprise here) lay speculation included aliens and other such nonsense. We now know that a rocky asteroid (or possibly a comet) about 100 yards in diameter heated up and exploded in the atmosphere before hitting the ground. Similar to the smaller Chelyabinsk meteor explosion in 2013. Here’s a good article about it: 1908 SIBERIA EXPLOSION: Reconstructing an Asteroid Impact from Eyewitness Accounts.

And other Holidays. July 1st was Canada Day, the Canadian parallel to America’s Independence Day. Celebrations were a bit muted because a third mass grave near a residential school was found: Nearly 200 unmarked graves found near Canada residential school. Hard to celebrate a nation that forcibly put children in essentially concentration camps for purely racist reasons. And the Brits are upset that some statues of British monarchs who were on board with this were toppled. Fork them.

Well, I hope all are doing well these strange and terrible days. Canada is burning. The ocean caught fire. Strange new forms of Covid are arising. The Pentagon says angels and demons “can’t be ruled out.” OK then. Stay safe, gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: View from Kirensk, two seconds before the explosion. (400km, 250 miles away.) Painting © William K. Hartmann. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 3, 2021 at 8:13 pm

HEAR THAT POPPING SOUND IN THE DISTANCE? THAT’S EVANGELICAL’S HEADS EXPLODING …

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Because: Nevada pageant winner to become 1st transgender Miss USA contestant Saw this posted on Facebook, the outrage in some comments was, sadly, predictable. Something that quite literally has zero effect on them or society is somehow personally enraging to them. The nation and world has all sorts of terrible ongoing problems that are most definitely impacting everyone’s lives in negative ways … but they are outraged because a Miss USA contestant was born with male genitals. Go figure.

Might have linked this before, but it’s worth another look: Why Biden’s American election meddling comments in Geneva were such a bad look Basically Biden lectured Putin on election interference, claiming it made Russia look bad. Apparently Biden was utterly oblivious to the fact that it’s the USA that is the world’s number one meddler in foreign elections. Pot calls kettle black in other words.

A good article about France hopefully coming to grips with sexual abuse and pedophilia: Omerta in France. France has a long proud history of romance and seduction, but a lot of it is actually pretty nasty.

Another one from the trending “I’m going to change the facts to fit my narrative” file: Horses in Pre-Columbian America. Horses became extinct in North America something like ten thousand years ago, and didn’t return until the European conquest began after 1492. However, three modern groups are disputing that. One is some native groups, basically based on oral traditions, and the fact that they aren’t comfortable with the idea that the horse, which was such a central part of plains indian culture, originated with the European invaders. Hey, I can understand that. Second, by wild horse aficionados who want wild horses to get protected status, which is only granted to native species, not invasive species. Their hearts are in a good place. Lastly, the LDS Church. Because … the Book of Mormon written in the 19th century clearly claims there were horses in the New World in Biblical times. And of course since they claim it was written by God or such, it must be true. Right.

They’re all wrong of course. Well, wrong so far as current science understands it. Scientists do make mistakes though, that’s why scientific research is ongoing: It’s OK to be Wrong | NeuroLogica Blog. There was some thinking in the mid 19th century that science was on the verge of discovering everything there was to know and soon humans would have God’s creation all figured out. Ah, the folly of youth. Interestingly enough science is now able to find DNA in soil layers and determine what animals were around when the soil was deposited: All the major players spent time in the Denisovan cave. This is actually going to revolutionize archeology and paleontology. Not to mention putting the final nail in the coffin of such imaginary animals as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of imaginary creatures, the much awaited Pentagon report of UFOs came out. Oh, wait, they’re UAPs now because UFOs have such a bad name. Of course the report contained absolutely nothing new, because UFOs are one big nothingburger. Great for scaring up defense dollars though: UFO Report Provides No New Information But Plenty Of Fodder For Cold Warrior Policymakers. I know some will say, but reliable people have seen them! Um, when someone sees something in the sky the human eye cannot determine how big it is, how far away it is, or how fast it is moving. Then there’s the fact that UFOs have only been reported in modern times in regions with a history of UFO sightings, no one has ever hit one, none have ever crashed, and no one has gotten a good picture of one.

When I was younger people would say, no one ever got a picture of a car crash either! Well, decades later, we have lots of car crash pictures, still no UFO, Bigfoot, or Nessie pics. And of course SETI has come up with absolutely nada, and they’ve tried a lot of promising approaches. If alien intelligent life is ever discovered, I will of course be thrilled, but right now the overwhelming evidence is that UFOs are mythological, sociological, and psychological constructs like ghosts and angels.

Getting more random here: ‘Dragon man’ claimed as new species of ancient human but doubts remain. Long story short, during WW2 Chinese laborers found a weird skull, didn’t want the Japanese occupiers to know about it, and it was hidden until just recently. And lo and behold it’s one of the most unusual ancient skulls ever found and some are claiming it’s a new human lineage like Denosovians or Neanderthals. Yeah, one skull, no context, no DNA. Let’s not get carried away, maybe it was a Denosovian Andre the Giant. Neat find, and our understanding of just how complicated the human lineage is grows all the time, but we are not going to be rewriting textbooks on the basis of one skull.

Well, a few more links, but tomorrow! Or whenever. Interesting time in my life indeed. So the pics above! Both were taken in the 1930s. The one on the left is a group of Soviet Young Pioneers. Kinda Stalin’s equivalent of Hitler Youth. On the right, a Mickey Mouse Club meeting. The similarities and differences are telling. Even by the thirties American youth were living in a fantasy world.

So final nice story and segue. During Kristallnacht, a Jewish family was in their home as a mob came up the street burning and looting Jewish homes. Just before it got there, their 17 year old neighbor ran into their house wearing his Hitler Youth uniform. When the mob arrived he yelled out of an upstairs window that the home had been sold to a good German family, and the Jews were gone. Saving their home and valuables, and ultimately saving their lives as it left them with the resources to flee Germany before the war.

Stay cool and safe everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Described in text, both are Public Domain images to the best of my knowledge.)

Written by unitedcats

June 29, 2021 at 7:48 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