Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

STRANGE GREEN ROCK FOUND ON MARS, OTHER SCIENCE NEWS, AND #DEARMOONCREW

leave a comment »

NASA scientists have found a six inch long green rock on Mars. (inset above.) As most of the rocks on Mars are, well, rather drab dusty red colored (above,) this is definitely unusual. Tests are underway to figure out what it is. Since Mars had all sorts of water once, there are any number of possible minerals formed in hot springs and such. A meteor origin is possible too, a number of meteorites have been spotted on Mars. That’s because Mars gets more meteors, more of them make it to the surface because of the thin atmosphere, and then they just sit there waiting to be found because erosion and such is a slow process on Mars. This made me wonder if “shooting stars” can be seen on Mars, I checked, and I’m happy to inform the gentle reader that Mars certainly has enough atmosphere to burn up incoming meteors and make shooting star displays visible from the surface of the planet.

While researching this particular rock I found out that the Chinese Yutu-2 Moon rover also discovered mysterious “gel like” green rocks on the Moon about a year ago. That mystery was solved though, the rocks were glass. IE rocks probably melted in a meteorite impact. Or maybe melted when they were testing Jewish space lasers. Sigh. Yes, Marjorie Taylor Green, the GOP’s “hold my beer” response to “Well, at least the GOP can’t elect anyone stupider than Sarah Palin;” actually blamed California wildfires on “space lasers.” Well, there’s one advantage to giving up science and reason, you can imagine whatever you want!

Sorry, slipped into politics for a moment there. Speaking of odd rocks found in far away places, I recall from my childhood that astronauts on the Moon announced they had found “green crystals” on the lunar surface. Turned out later they were joking. I was unable to confirm this on the Interweb though, so as it’s a fifty year old memory, I can’t vouch for it being accurate. Apollo 17 astronauts did indeed find unexpected orange soil on the Moon. Turns out it was volcanic in origin, created by an ancient fire fountain back when the Moon had active volcanoes. Interestingly enough scientists still can’t explain the origin of some of the unusual elements found in the soil samples after they were returned to Earth. That’s one of the wonders of science, if anything the things it can’t yet explain gets larger with every new discovery. No shortage of things for budding scientists to cut their teeth on.

Speaking of the Moon, I did apply for the #dearMoonCrew. This is a project to send eight passengers on board a spacecraft that will circle past the Moon in a few years. It was launched by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. I signed up mainly as a lark and for a bit of fun blog fodder. I waited until the last moment to actually fill out and send in my application. It was then I discovered I had made a horrible mistake. This is not a publicity stunt or such, the goal of the mission is actually incredibly cool.

Mr Maezawa is recruiting artists of all stripes (if one calls oneself an artist he’s good with it, and I sure as sheet think writing and blogging is an art,) who want to go to the Moon for inspiration, to inspire others, and to express themselves artistically. I mean, how cool is that? I could be the first blogger to circle the Moon! One better believe that would be the blogging opportunity of a lifetime. The mistake I made was not looking into it further, so my application was filled out at the last minute and wasn’t nearly as inspired and well written as it could have been. Oh well, missing opportunities is a long honored family tradition.

Still, I do want to go. They sent John Glenn up at 77 years old, so it’s not completely out of the picture. And I’ve been tagging #dearMoonCrew all over the place hoping my application at least gets passing attention. So gentle readers, if any of you are friends with Elon Musk (he’s supplying the spaceship) or the inestimable Mr Maezawa, please put in a good word for me!

Stay safe everyone, hope all are having a good week. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(NASA images the perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. NASA images are public domain so long as they aren’t used to indicate NASA endorses a product or service. No, NASA doesn’t endorse Doug’s Darkworld, although it would be cool if they did.)

Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2021 at 4:19 pm

TRIBES

leave a comment »

Caitlyn is often annoying, but sometimes she is very on point. The idea that the west gives a flaming hoot about oppressed Muslim minorities doesn’t pass the laugh test, but here the US is, leading the sanction charge against China. I could provide examples, but those that see the point don’t need them … and those that don’t will rationalize them away. People are loyal to the world view of their choice, and will reject out of hand any facts that contradict it by one means or another. Is this what Colonel Kurtz meant when he said “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice?” Maybe. I’m pretty sure it’s what “The map is not the territory” alludes to.

So I want to write endlessly about what is going on in the world, but how do I do so without a 12 volume preamble explaining that everything most people know about the world is mass marketed crap designed to make them support the status quo and the powers that be? When Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” he kinda meant it literally.  The Trump/GOP cult is the current major local manifestation of this, but the Dems are not really better off, just different.

By about 1900, 1950 at latest, it was easily possible to provide everyone on Earth with food, shelter, education, health care. Modern machinery could do the work of countless humans, a steam shovel or tractor could do the work of dozens or hundreds of men and horses. And factories, oh my. Everyone on Earth could have their basic needs met, with plenty left over for those that wanted more. So why aren’t we doing this?

And that dear readers is why I blog, trying to figure out why when humans live in Eden, they create societies based on systematic inequality. I think it comes down to tribal thinking. Most on the left have no problem recognizing that there are “religious” leaders whose only goal is exploiting religious people’s faith to get rich. What they don’t understand is that for every faux religious leader cashing in on the credibility of their believers, there is a faux ecologist, faux animal right’s activist, faux liberal politician, etc. doing the same thing.

Once one has decided one’s tribe is the “good guys” and other tribes are “bad guys,” all possibility of a worldview based on reason and science ends. It’s the logical fallacy that is destroying our future. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think reason and science hold the key if there is such.

And on the basis of all that, my blog format is going to change. 3-5 nights a week I’m just going to pull the most interesting links/events out of the day’s news and comment upon. I just don’t have what it takes to make dedicated posts now. And the world we live in is in huge flux, despite the voices of normalization running amok. The world we all knew did die at the end of 2019, the new world is still unfolding. Better yet, thick and thin blogs are easy and fun to write. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

March 27, 2021 at 8:30 pm

MR SAFETY, AR-15s, ETC

leave a comment »

I was heartened by a number of comments about my story about rushing to the neighbor’s house with a fire extinguisher and saving the day. I posted it all over the place, as is my wont. A number of people said something along the lines of “Wow, I just ordered a fire extinguisher.” So woohoo, I was a positive influence on people. I’ve been Mr Safety since I was a teenager, in that I realized that most of life is boring and safe, but life can go horribly wrong without warning … and one can have only minutes or less to mitigate one of those horrifying moments. That’s why I’ve taken a lot of first aid classes, lifesaving classes, etc. And I’ve learned all sorts of little tricks to mitigate or prevent disasters.

So I went to the library today. Library staff: “You’re the guy who stopped the fire!” I was, well, flabbergasted. Yes, the library is three blocks from my home and I’m a regular, but how did they know? I was too surprised to ask, especially since an excited patron started asking questions about what went down. I’m a local hero, though it really wasn’t a big deal. I’ve been told the local paper may call me, which is just so small town Midwest that it’s making my face hurt from smiling.

Mass shooting in Colorado. Both a lot … and not much … to say. Short version seems accurate. Colorado bans AR-15s, because their only civilian purpose is mass murder. NRA sues, ban is struck down, mentally unsound man buys one and commits mass murder. Gee, 90% of Americans think people who want guns like this should only be allowed to do so after a background check. The NRA begs to differ. “Gun sales trump sound social policy” in their world.

What’s to say? Sure, people have a right to own guns. No problem. There’s no such thing as an unfettered right, people shouldn’t be allowed to have tactical nuclear weapons or WMDs, but where’s the line to be drawn? I think civilians should be limited to double barrel shotguns, bolt action rifles, and revolvers. Perfectly adequate for home defense and hunting purposes; but makes it impossible to gun down dozens of people in public venues.

On the gripping hand, that Biden is leaping into action on this is an example of the Dems exploiting “culture wars” instead of actually trying to fix America’s problems. Medicare for all or making the minimum wage a living wage would save huge numbers of lives and make life better for tens of millions of Americans.  An AR-15 ban would save a few hundred lives a year. Guess which one Biden is embracing? And the sad truth is that even in this, he will likely fail. Our democracy is broken.

The wackiness continues in the right wing evangelical fringe-o-sphere: ‘Prophet’ Robin Bullock Says Biden’s Stairs Stumble Is a Sign His Presidency Is ‘Finished’. Joe Biden: The worst president – ever! Wnd.com. Trumpists Still Pushing Election Fraud Claims and Conspiracy Theories. All fairly predictable sadly, once they had decided Trump was sent by God, rational debate was pretty much no longer in the cards. Well, if Trump was sent by God, God has a sick sense of humor.

A town in Illinois became the first American city to offer reparations to blacks: Evanston, Illinois, becomes first US city to pay reparations to Black residents. No, not for slavery. The biggest way blacks were cheated of wealth was after World War Two when they were systematically prevented through fair means and foul from buying homes in the suburbs. White families got richer and richer after the war as their suburban homes increased in value, home blacks couldn’t by. So this is redressing a contemporary wrong, and only applies to blacks who lived in Evanston. Seems reasonable enough to me, though I’m sure many bigot’s heads are exploding in outrage over this.

Crazy busy day, I have my mojo back. Tomorrow, more science. The one thing that may save the human race, because politicians sure ain’t going to save us. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

March 25, 2021 at 6:01 pm

SCIENCE TUESDAY

leave a comment »

I can probably think of a better title than “Science Tuesday.” One thing at a time though. Today’s pic, a Sundog. Also known as mock suns or parhelia, it’s a little rainbow to one side of the Sun, often two of them on either side equidistant from the Sun. They can also be pretty bright, and look like little Suns. We saw a pair on the way home from Iowa City a few weeks back, it was cool to see. Caused by hexagonal ice crystals floating down horizontally, if I understand this correctly. I didn’t take the above pic though, it’s a public domain Snappygoat image.

This week’s Skeptoid podcast was interesting. It’s usually at least somewhat interesting, but after all these years a lot of the best and well known topics have been covered. (Skeptoid posts every Tuesday morning, another reason for Science Tuesdays.) This week, Our Lady of Zeitoun. Nope, I never heard of it either. It was an apparition of (allegedly) the Virgin Mary that appeared on the rooftop of a church in Cairo for several years starting in 1968. It was a huge deal in Egypt at the time, tens of thousands of people came out to see it, millions may have seen it all together. Various church authorities “investigated” it and determined it was real, no surprise there.

What was it? Distant car headlights occasionally glinting off steeple windows. Why were so many people convinced they were seeing the Virgin Mary? This is where it gets interesting. Yes, of course it was mass hysteria. Interestingly enough though the people of Egypt were primed for just such an event, so it didn’t occur in a vacuum. (Note that the Virgin Mary is holy in Islam as well, so there’s nothing odd about Muslims seeing Mary as a Godly apparition.) They were primed because the previous year the Six Day War happened, where Israel attacked and crushed Egypt, Jordan, and Syria’s militaries in just six days. Ten to fifteen thousand dead Egyptians killed or missing, and a big chunk of Egypt (The Sinai Peninsula) occupied by Israel. Another example of something that makes more sense as part of a larger context. Kind of applies to everything I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of.

Continuing yesterday’s Mars news: We Just Got The First Photo of Mars From China’s Tianwen 1 Probe, And It’s Breathtaking. And I didn’t catch this, but a Mars satellite from the United Arab Emirates just entered Mars orbit: Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. Great, the people of UAE now have a satellite named hope. Actual hope for, say, democracy and human rights, nope. Just another appallingly despotic country ruled for the benefit of the west, so of course it flies completely under the western media’s radar. Fun times: Israel’s Honeymoon With the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Doug’s Darkworld if I didn’t slip in links like that. In Covid and Facebook news: Big News: Facebook Just Banned More COVID-19 Anti-Vax Content. Sounds good to me. People who want to spread dangerous nonsense shouldn’t be given platforms to do so on. They can start websites or print flyers and stick them under windshield wipers or whatever, it’s not like this is censorship or their freedom of speech is being infringed on. I know a lot of people are concerned about recent efforts by social media platforms limiting hate speech and such, but at this point the damage caused to society by people like anti-vaxxers has grown so great that something needs to be done. I’m all for bringing back the Fairness doctrine, getting rid of it was what started us down the road to Americans living in different realities.

Stuff like this nonsense for example: The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy”. Or this: Covid: ‘How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda’. I don’t have a whole lot of patience with anti-vaxxers, since their idiotic ideology is killing people. Anti-maskers either. Or maybe I’m just turning into a cranky old man. Lastly: We Need to Plan Now For The Pandemic That Comes After COVID-19, Scientists Say. Fat chance though, we’re not even taking global warming seriously and it’s going on right now. Fossil fuel use is destroying the climate and killing huge numbers of people, but God forbid governments do something.

We’ve basically built a planetary economy based on weapon sales and oil, the two most profitable industries that ever existed. “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time.” Quoting the alien in Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” What else is there to say? Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sun and sundog. Credit: Diane Renkin. Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

February 9, 2021 at 7:39 pm

A COLD MONDAY EVERYWHERE

leave a comment »

Cold in Iowa, but much colder in yesterday’s mystery picture above. Those are sand dunes … on Mars. The stripes though, scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s causing them. Stuff is always happening on Mars now, a Chinese robotic mission arrives in a few days. If all goes well it will deploy a lander and a rover to the surface. A week later NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will land on Mars, it’s the one that will deploy the first helicopter drone on another world. Boy, when I was a kid Mars was just a fuzzy image seen from Earth based telescopes. Now, wow, a Golden Age of Mars exploration. Sooner or later they will find life, I just hope it’s sooner.

Back on Earth, Yes, I’ve launched another web site, to try and sell some of my photos: Doug Stych. Just thought it would be nice to earn a bit of extra money, my retirement income is very modest. And as a way for Doug’s Darkworld readers to make one time donations to keep me blogging. I suppose if the donation was big enough, I could be persuaded to stop blogging as well. I’m nothing if not responsive to my loyal readers’ desires.

So today, various tidbits and links. One reader expressed concern that my coverage of the Trump follies might decrease. No worries, as long as Trump is still making the news, I’m sure I’ll find time for him. Watching him turn the GOP into a Trump personality cult was endlessly entertaining. (In a morbid sort of way.) Watching him destroy what’s left of the GOP is even more entertaining. He is getting more pushback though, there actually are perfectly reasonable conservatives who have had enough of Trump and his fantasies. This fellow for example: Message to Nebraska GOP State Central Committee. I can and do respect a conservative like that.

An interesting read, the Dems are not exactly completely innocent in America’s descent into fantasy: Trump May be on Trial, but System That Produced Him Will Be Acquitted. And another neat link: How The US Legalized Corruption. White people use funny words for bribes. I mean, people think, whoah, you can give a cop $20 in other countries to get out of a ticket, but boy, US cops aren’t corrupt like that. No, no, they aren’t, asset forfeiture and the war on drugs has made penny ante corruption like that not worth the bother.

Two examples: A friend was busted buying a tiny amount of weed. It cost his family over $10K to keep him out of jail! Yes, safe bet that money didn’t go into funding drug rehabilitation programs. Then my favorite. A waitress found a customer had left a paper bag at her table, she caught her in the parking lot, the customer said: “Oh, wow, well, you just keep it!” There was like $15K in cash in the bag. Well, deciding to be on the safe side, she took it to the police. They said, “OK, if no one claims it, yes, it’s yours.” A week later the police called her: “Oh, we’ve determined it was drug money, so it’s been confiscated.” The woman was like, how did they determine that? So she got a lawyer, and the judge asked the same question of the police. She got to keep the money.

And in today’s “Yes, I predicted this” file: Republicans target Rep. Ilhan Omar after Dems try to oust Marjorie Taylor Greene. Granted I am sure lots of people predicted it, since it was about as predictable as the Sun coming up tomorrow. Which reminds me, I once had a big misunderstanding about the Sun coming up tomorrow with some people. Well, it wasn’t a misunderstanding, they were simply wrong. Some folks were claiming science could predict some things with 100% accuracy. I accurately pointed out that no, science never predicts anything with 100% accuracy. Granted in many cases the accuracy is such that it’s 100% for all practical purposes, but they were like “No, the Sun will come up tomorrow, period.” Yeah, more than likely; but if during the night the Earth or the Sun gets hit with a black hole travelling at relativistic speed, there will be no sunrise. It’s religion and ideology that often claim 100% accuracy, science never makes such claims.

Lastly, a link that made me think. So of course, a link to share: Woman Lists 18 Disturbing Facts Showing That Our World Wasn’t Built For Women. It just shows how insidious sexism is in the modern world, it really is a man’s world on levels most people never even recognise. A white man’s world too. Another great link for those that want to see: The Invisible Backpack. How does one get through to white people who think everything’s fine, racism and sexism are a thing of the past, that anyone has equal opportunity in modern America? Beats me, but I’ll keep trying.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares, patrons, and donations appreciated. I really am a poor artist living in a cold garret. I wouldn’t have it any other way, keeps me humble, but more beer and pizza money always helps. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sand dunes on Mars. Credit: NASA, image used legally, IE NASA does not support or endorse Doug’s Darkworld in any way.)

Written by unitedcats

February 8, 2021 at 8:57 pm

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

leave a comment »

Just a quick post today. Now that we’ve made it safely (so far) out of Trump’s tenure in the White House, I’m going to stop blogging daily. It’s just too much to keep up with, I need my weekends. I’m switching to a five days a week format, and likely with a bit more organization. One day will be science news updates, one day will be a history post, things like that. Possibly a space exploration day. That leaves two days a week to cover current events. As always, I’m open to suggestions. I’ve also come up with a neat way for people to make one time donations to keep me fed so I can continue to blog. I will be announcing that tomorrow. I am very grateful for whatever support I get, just this week a long time reader is sending me a pair of nice gloves, woohoo! Thank you Lars!

And just for fun, the above is a mystery pic. It’s actually a double mystery, a mystery inside a mystery as it were. What is it, that’s fairly easy. And what the hell are the stripes? That one even scientists can’t explain yet. So many things science can’t explain, but that’s a feature, not a bug. Whenever someone said “damned if I know,” well, means one is dealing with an honest person.

In Iowa, oh my, negative temps in fahrenheit and celsius. The polar vortex is here, so much for our mild winter. Nowhere near the magic -40 though, even with wind chill counted in. Magic as in 40 below is the same in both fahrenheit and celsius. Diesel fuel starts to freeze at 40 below. And it’s really easy to get hypothermia and die at forty below, I know this from personal experience. Well, not the dying part, I managed to save myself, but boy was I stupid. How I ever survived my foolish youth is one of the mysteries of my life.

Oh, yeah, there was some sort of big sportsball game today. I heard the commercials were awful. I didn’t watch it because I knew what the score was before the game started. Zero to zero. Hey, cracked me up when I was eleven. Stay safe and particularly warm everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: I will reveal tomorrow, but it is reproduced here legally.)

Written by unitedcats

February 7, 2021 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Iowa, Personal, Science

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

leave a comment »

There will be a Borders III post, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. And boy, turns out there’s a lot of people on Facebook who claim to be the Messiah. I’ll get a post out of that someday too. I know someone who lost their wife and kids to a cult once, self styled messiahs have an unholy attraction for some people. Today, I’m going to be all over the place. Or more so than usual I suppose. My staff consists of one useless cat at the moment. Working on a partnership though, she’s already been far more helpful than the cat.

Moving right along, January 31 was a big day in history. I mean, every day has all sorts of historical events on it. (Except June 31, nothing ever happened on June 31, no one knows why.) However, January 31, a big day as in important well remembered events. This was the day in 1943 where German Field Marshal Paulus surrendered to the encircling Russians at Stalingrad, thus ending the greatest battle in history. Hitler had promoted Paulus to Field Marshal because no German field marshal had ever surrendered. Have I ever mentioned that Hitler was prone to magical thinking? Stalingrad was Hitler’s Pickett’s Charge, the war would only go downhill for Hitler from there.

On January 31 the VietCong launched simultaneous surprise attacks on every provincial capitol in South Vietnam, and even breached the American embassy’s grounds in Saigon. It caught America and South Vietnam by complete surprise, but it didn’t trigger the general uprising the VietCong had been counting on, and the Tet Offensive as it was called, was a tactical and strategic disaster, one from which the VietCong would never recover from. And in the USA, it was a political death blow for president Johnson, and significantly eroded American support for the war. That’s because some months earlier Johnson had announced … victory! The VietCong had been beaten, the war was all but over, the US could start pulling out. So yeah, a massive nationwide VietCong surprise attack pretty much destroyed Johnson’s credibility, and was in fact the beginning of the end for America’s misbegotten involvement in southeast Asia.

Well, those were the big two events, enough for January 31. Although in another historical footnote: Meet Eunice Foote, The Mother Of Climate Science Whose Work Was Ignored Because Of Her Sex. She was the first person to discover the role that CO2 plays in changing the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect as it is called. Since she was a woman though, she wasn’t allowed to present her findings at the 1856 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. A man got the honor and the credit 3 years later. Sigh. It would be over 100 years before she was recognized for her groundbreaking discovery.

In a medical breakthrough: Two more coma patients’ brains jump-started with ultrasound. Waycool. People sometimes come out of comas after years or even decades. The brain’s ability to heal itself is quite amazing. We are talking comas though, this would not have helped the sadly famous Terri Schiavo, she was in what is known as a persistent vegetative state. PVS is a horrible condition, the patient has normal sleep and awake cycles. They may laugh, they may cry, they may appear to be looking around. So it’s easy to see why friends and loved ones would very much cling to the belief that they are still alive and may recover. Alas, what PVS sufferers don’t do is communicate in any way, there is literally no one home. And while a few people who were misdiagnosed as being in a PVS have recovered, they were all showing signs of improvement after a few months. No one has ever recovered from an actual PVS diagnosis, the part of the brain that makes us who we are is irreparably damaged.

Moving from inner space to outer space (lame segue I know) here’s an interview with the professor who thinks Oumuamua was alien technology of some sort: Professor Avi Loeb: ‘It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe’. On the one hand, he’s plugging his new book on the topic. On the other hand he does have a point regarding how the scientific community can be hostile and non supportive of anything related to aliens. A situation that’s unlikely to change until we actually find actual evidence for them, it’s way too easy for politicians to ridicule SETI, why attract attention from them?

And another scientist has come up with an explanation for the Wow! Signal. The Wow! Signal was detected in 1977 and has never been explained. Here’s another try though: Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage? Basically humans are starting to experiment with beamed power to launch spacecraft and such, and the Wow! Signal might well be “leakage” from aliens doing the same. It’s an interesting idea, and suggests we might want to observe that part of the sky continuously to see if it ever repeats.

Lastly, back on Earth. I, for one, look forward to Qbacca testifying at Trump’s impeachment trial: ‘Complete circus’: Lindsey Graham fears ‘QAnon Shaman’ testimony at Trump’s impeachment trial. All of Trump’s lawyers have quit at this point, it’s not clear who will represent him at his trial in just over a week. Apparently all he wants to talk about at the trial is his fantasies about election fraud. It’s gonna be interesting, if not a total circus. I don’t think Trump’s ever faced anything like it, this isn’t going to be a press conference where he can ignore questions, hurl abuse at the questioner, and storm out if he doesn’t like how things are going. He might try though, boy, won’t that be fun.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Just maybe things will settle down now and the Capitol Riot was peak insanity over Trump’s election fraud charade. A man can hope. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Field Marshal Paulus surrendering at Stalingrad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-F0316-0204-005 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

No changes were made in the image. Paulus actually survived being a Russian prisoner. Most of the nearly 300,000 men who surrendered with him didn’t. Stalin had in fact promised that Paulus’ men would be well treated, and did order so. Yeah, by this point the Germans had done terrible things in Russia, so Stalin’s orders were for the most part ignored. Paulus lived until 1957.)

Written by unitedcats

January 31, 2021 at 8:30 pm

BORDERS II

leave a comment »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and warm everyone. StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2021 at 8:19 pm

WALLS

leave a comment »

I had a thought about the rising tide of paywalled websites. I think it has to do with the rising tide of wealth inequality, especially in America. Hear me out. The percentage of the nation’s wealth owned by poor people has been dropping since 1980, and it’s in free fall with the pandemic. And I suspect that as a marketing segment for people selling access to web sites, the poor simply don’t  count anymore. Why gear one’s marketing to include people that increasingly may not even have Internet access, and increasingly less discretionary spending? An incredibly miniscule and shrinking market segment. So sites like the New York Times and all the rest are charging what the traffic can bear, and the traffic is middle class and above people for whom a dollar a week is pocket change.

This is distressing to me. Initially the Internet was the great equalizer, everyone had equal access and equal opportunity. It’s rapidly transforming into pretty much the opposite, where access and opportunity are purely based on one’s wealth.  Poor people already have huge structures and barriers keeping them in their place in America, now that is playing out on the Internet as well. This is of course completely the opposite of the stated ideals of America, supposedly the “land of opportunity.” More every day now it’s “The land of opportunity for the rich and no one else.”

And despite some good details, Biden, as expected, is looking to be Obama 2.0. Don’t hold one’s breath gentle reader waiting for Medicare-for-All or other fundamental changes. However, I’ll give this a break and cover some other news. And oh, rementioning, as per above, I will never paywall this site, and in fact will be making every effort to avoid even linking to paywalled sites. Partly out of principle, mostly because I’m blogging for everyone. Still, if the gentle reader likes my work, patrons are really appreciated, even a $1 a month helps, sign up here. I used to have a one time only donation button, I’ll see if I can resurrect that. I love to write, I hate marketing. So I’ll copy a line from The Guardian: “Available for everyone, funded by readers.”

Moving right along, a new and even more contagious version of Covid has been discovered in California: California discovers homegrown coronavirus strain that spreads even faster than any other. Depressing, even with the vaccine being rolled out. I’m back to thinking we may well hit a million dead in the US by the time the dying slows. Slows, not ends. I don’t think Covid’s ever going to be over in America, what with our population of anti-vaxxers and white people. Wait, white people? Yes: White people least likely to wear masks consistently, study finds. Another manifestation of white privilege? IDK, maybe not. Maybe there’s just a lot of stupid white people in America.

In terrorism news (domestic terrorism is kind of an American exceptionalismist phrase I’m thinking:) DHS issues terrorism advisory over domestic extremists ’emboldened’ by Capitol riot. Well, finally, the GOP has a long sad history of suppressing such warnings: How Southern politicians hamstrung the fight against right-wing domestic terror. We’ll see, maybe the whole “Stop the Steal” nonsense will fizzle out as it becomes clearer that Trump is a has been, not God’s anointed one. We’ve got plenty of other issues to deal with without another Timothy McVeigh. And who knows, turns out the leader of the Proud Boys was an FBI informant. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was an FBI informant. Hopefully a few heads are exploding in said organization.

Lastly, science news! Footprints of a big (12 foot, 4 meter) crocodile-like animal have been found in strata laid down just after (geologically speaking) the Permian-Triassic extinction event: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. Also known as “The Great Dying,” this was not the event that wiped out the dinosaurs, that was the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event. Formerly known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction.) Science, so confusing, it’s like they keep changing things as our understanding grows. That’s a feature,, not a bug by the way.

Where was I? Right, a 250 million year old crocodile like thing wandering around when and where it wasn’t supposed to be. That’s because the Permian-Triassic extinction event was the big one, the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history, wiping out about 75% of all species on Earth. (We still don’t even know what caused it, but a major asteroid/comet impact likely started it.) Where these tracks were found was supposed to be a lifeless desert at the time. Yet if a 12 foot lizard was wandering around, it means there was an ecosystem still  functioning: Footprints of crocodile-like prehistoric reptile found in Italian Alps. More textbooks to be rewritten I guess.

My friend’s husband who was mauled by a cougar (not a 12 food lizard) on Monday is recovering nicely. And today a second doctor told me I don’t have cancer! Many more blogs to follow, especially as I live in a land without cougars or 12 foot lizards. Just geese, which I guess is scarier in some ways. Stay safe and warm dear readers. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Great Wall of China. Credit: Jakub Hałun. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2021 at 8:26 pm

THE LAME DUCK SHEET SHOW ROLLS ON

with 2 comments

As I stated in the prior post, three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse are raging in America. And with our luck, number four will arrive on Friday. Granted the parallels aren’t perfect, but we can call Covid plague, the collapsing economy is famine, and Trump is the sword. The fourth is the beast, so I guess snake wolves arrive on Friday? One can make a case that Trump is the antichrist, but not going there. Not sure what he is, but he’s conquered the heart and souls of tens of millions of Americans, trapping them in his fantasy world.

Let’s see, in another lovely downside to Trump and company’s Covid denial, it’s made life so unpleasant for health care professionals in rural red areas, that they are fleeing: ‘Toxic Individualism’: Pandemic Politics Driving Health Care Workers From Small Towns. At this point, I’m not ashamed to admit a bit of schadenfreude. Turns out there’s a downside when “Make America great Again” translates to “We hate and fear medical experts.” Talk about shooting your own community in the face. One has to wonder what other types of experts will flee red areas, and will the people living there ever understand that Rush Trumpian BS is not actually a workable substitute for reason and science, who knew?

The vaccine rollout in the US is, as might have been expected, turning into a complete clusterduck: Medical expert details why the vaccine rollout is a mess: ‘They are again setting states up to fail’ Basically the Federal Government simply hasn’t stepped up to the plate to coordinate and support the vaccine rollout, in the exact same way it didn’t step up to the plate to coordinate and lead the fight against Covid. Basically the states are having to fend for themselves. This is why the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and why Covid is kicking America’s teeth in.

But hey, Trump says he’s doing a great job, and that’s all it takes for his supporters. It’s like some great experiment in mass psychology. As if God was bored one day and said “I wonder how long a political movement will last if the followers believe everything their leader says, even though it’s all self aggrandizing lies while him and his buddies loot the country for the rich instead of governing it for the people?” Going on four years now, no end in sight, even as the country crashes and burns.

For more fun, Trump is promising a ‘wild’ time on January 6th. Trump is summoning supporters for a ‘wild’ time on the day the electoral vote will be finalized. That’s the day the election is finalized in the Senate. It’s essentially a formality, there doesn’t seem to be any way Trump could actually change the outcome of the Senate vote, but Trump is the guy who thought he could wish away Covid 19 and a lost election, so who knows what fantasies are floating through his mind. Trump’s summoned supporters from all over the country, though I think it’s a safe bet the turnout will be minimal. At that point too, I think the potential for right wing violence will start to ramp up.

Right wingers have been stockpiling weapons and infiltrating the police and military for a long time now. This story is from Germany, they have the same problem: A Far-Right Terrorism Suspect With a Refugee Disguise: The Tale of Franco A. Basically an officer in the German army disguised himself as a Syrian refugee and created a fake identity. Then he was planning on committing political assassinations and acts of violence, so that they would be blamed on a fictitious Syrian refugee. The idea was to create enough unrest to bring down the government. Yeah, a totally whacked plan, as dumb as the Michigan yahoos who were going to kidnap and try their governor. We’ll see, it’s only going to take one Lee Maga Oswald to change the world though, it’s not something I want to blog about.

Even better, if right wing whack jobs do commit terrible crimes, if they do so before Trump leaves office, he can pardon them! Dark sarcasm. Pardoning murderers is what Trump does. I’d say the recent Blackwater pardons shocked me, but no, they don’t. They murdered Iraqi civilians, which is simply the modern day version of “nits make lice.” I don’t think most Americans, even many on the right, understand how deeply ingrained America’s genocidal impulses towards non whites really is. Trump is the voice of intolerance and hatred, we can only count our blessings that he has inspired very little of it so far.

In many ways, despite the very real damage Trump is doing and may do to the country, he really is a clown in many ways. Hitler was a bonafide war hero from a very humble background. Trump is a spoilt rich brat who used his wealth to shelter himself from reality his whole life. As Mary Trump said, no one has ever said no to Trump, which is why he is freaking out about losing the election. He simply can’t grasp nor accept that the majority of American’s finally said :No!: to him.

Suddenly dawns on me, what if Trump turns out to be one of the small number of Covid survivors who develops a severe psychosis? And if he does, how will we tell? Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I do fear the twenties are going to be a rough decade.)

Written by unitedcats

December 29, 2020 at 7:36 pm