Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

RUSH LIMBAUGH GOES ON A KILLING SPREE AND THE COMING RED STATE COVID-19 CATASTROPHE

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What a time to be alive. World War Two all over again. Well, not really, but first time since then that an event is occurring with similar global ramifications. Most of human history consists of huge areas of more or less stability, with local problems here and there. In the developed world, almost all stability since World War Two. It’s weird and different this time though. Now with the Interwebs, we are in touch with our friends in the front line. Some of them won’t survive the war. Hell of a thing. It’s the beginning of the storm. A million confirmed cases world wide, and certainly a wild undercount since so many countries have limited testing capabilities.

And in America, it’s going to be a Red State cataclysm. I almost never listen to Rush Limbaugh, every time I have it’s just a string of lies, false arguments, and vitriolic hatred directed towards his fellow Americans. Not my cup of tea. Well, turns out, surprise surprise, he’s had a lot to say about Covid-19, collected here for the gentle reader’s edification. Put a pillow on your keyboard before reading though, because your jaw and or forehead may hit it shortly:

February 24: “Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s — Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

February 25: “Why couldn’t the coronavirus get Donald Trump reelected? What if the United States comes up with a dramatically great policy to deal with it—and the number of cases in the United States dwindles, goes down, or does not expand like the cases around the world? Then why wouldn’t that be beneficial to Trump? Notice: Here we are in February, and they’ve already got this virus ruining the economy by November, in time to take out Trump. This is proof they’ve got nothing. They know they can’t beat the guy, folks…. Donald Trump has survived every coup attempt, every assault on him, that has been made up and now the coronavirus, they’re trying to lay it at his feet and make him responsible for it and they’re doing irresponsible news reports claiming that the coronavirus is gonna destroy the US economy by when? November! Isn’t it magical? The coronavirus is the new Russians…”

March 9: “Democrats out the wazoo are showing up at Trump rallies. This is why they want these rallies stopped. This is why — it’s not because of public safety, not because of public health.”

March 11: “This coronavirus, they’re just — all of this panic is just not warranted. This, I’m telling you, when I tell you — when I’ve told you that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is “COVID-19”? This is the 19th coronavirus. They’re not uncommon. Coronaviruses are respiratory cold and flu viruses. There is nothing about this, except where it came from, and the itinerant media panic…”

March 13: “We’re shutting down our country because of the — the cold virus, which is what coronaviruses are. This is COVID-19, the 19th version of the coronavirus. We’re shutting it — can you imagine our enemies watching this? You think the Chinese are not laughing themselves silly over how easy this has been?”

March 27: “We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know. And how do we know they’re even health experts? Well, they wear white lab coats, and they’ve been in the job for a while, and they’re at the CDC and they’re at the NIH, and they’re up, well — yeah, they’ve been there, and they are there. But has there been any job assessment for them? They’re just assumed to be the best because they’re in government. But, these are all kinds of things that I’ve been questioning.”

Well, I stand corrected. I thought Mr Limbaugh was just an asshole making a living spewing hate and nonsense, why not, it’s a free country? I was wrong. He’s a fucking moron. A man so stupid that he thinks he’s smart, Dunning-Kruger on steroids. Essentially everything he’s saying above is not just wrong, it’s dangerously criminally wrong. Yes, various coronaviruses do cause the common cold. That’s where the similarity begins and ends, it’s like claiming all mushrooms are harmless because they sell them in stores. He is right though, our enemies are laughing at us, because people like Trump and Limbaugh utterly sabotaged our response to a global pandemic. The USA is now the world’s leader in Covid-19 cases, and the horror is just beginning.

And Mr. Limbaugh is just one of many. The anti-science, anti-public health efforts of the GOP are going to reap a terrible harvest. Many GOP governors refused to expand Medicaid, because, you know, Obama. And have seen dramatic closures of hospitals in rural areas as a result. Basically, the GOP’s efforts to undermine trust in government and science have crippled public health measures in regions they control. Read about it here in nauseating detail: The Coming Red State Coronavirus Catastrophe. It’s incredibly depressing, huge numbers of people are going to die because of the nonsense promulgated by the GOP … and others.

This is what happens when people become convinced that opinions and hunches and woo are better than science and reason. God only knows how this is all going to play out in detail, but it’s going to get ugly. Promoting paranoid nonsense has already caused one fellow to snap, he won’t be the last. Covid-19 in America is like a bad dream I can’t wake up from. There’s some hope though, around the world people are stepping up and organizing to help their fellow citizens get through this crisis. I just hope enough people in Red States can step up and make a difference, because the GOP leadership sure isn’t stepping up to the plate.

Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Communards in their Coffins, photograph taken by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in May 1871. Public domain image. I chose it because they just seemed so real, real people, they had friends, family, loved ones. Covid-19 isn’t partisan and doesn’t give a shit about someone’s ideology, only science and reason can defend us from a pandemic.)

Written by unitedcats

April 3, 2020 at 6:14 pm

NO APRIL FOOLS JOKE THIS YEAR

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No April Fools Jokes today. Would it were everyone suddenly shouted “April Fools!” and it turned out Covid-19 was the greatest Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity prank in history and none of it happened at all. Everyone would heave a huge sigh of relief and go out for a giant community BBQ. Yes, where we would BBQ every Delta Kappa Epsilon member we could find for scaring the bejesus out of the whole damn planet. Yeah, no, probably more like there will be scattered reports today that Covid-19 has mutated into a form that turned people into zombies, and they’ll be dismissed as April Fools jokes until Trump and company are overrun by zombies during his last and most famous press briefing. Trump screaming “This is Obama’s Fault!” as he went down. Yeah, I think my imagination is running amok after staring at the same walls and annoying cat for weeks.

Boy, this is a new one for me, living through the worst global crisis since World War Two. Weird and new and disturbing on multiple levels, I could’ve gone the rest of my life without this. And especially weird since I live in the USA, a country that has grown increasingly disconnected from reality over my lifetime. And it’s showing now. Yes, Iowa is under quarantine, tons of businesses have closed. No more bars! But, phew, locals are clever, they are socializing in playgrounds and grocery stores. I shit you not, there are still a lot of people in my rural corner of Iowa who aren’t taking this seriously. Hell, there’s Coronavirus Truthers already, people convinced that a global pandemic is just some giant hoax. The mind reels.

This is what happens when powerful elements of a society decry reason and science for decades. A large percentage of Americans don’t trust experts or scientists, having been convinced they are all part of some sort of liberal plot to destroy America. America has the only major political party on Earth, developed Earth at least,  where science denial is a big part of the party platform. Every single 2016 GOP candidate for POTUS was an evolution denier. Every. Single. One. Inculcating distrust of government and international cooperation is also part of the toxic stew. And the idea, almost a cult belief in some, that anyone who has differing opinions than their own must be stupid.

So here we are, on the opposite side of the planet from where it all started, now the world’s epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even Trump is starting to sound alarms about how many Americans are going to die this summer. So much winning. I’ve tried to watch his daily briefings, but I don’t get far. He lies, brags, and says outrageous things, like blaming the lack of PPE on corrupt health care workers. That’s gotta be good for morale in the front lines. His base is still with him though, which is darkly ironic because he convinced so many of them that this was nothing to worry about and he had it under control. The next few months are gonna be interesting to say the least. And to be fair, the other side of the aisle has the same disconnect with reality, just in different ways. Contemporary American government has mastered propaganda in ways that would have been the envy of Goebbels and Hitler.

Yeah, making more Hitler comparisons now, because the effing world is getting more like the world that bred Hitler and Stalin every day. No apologies. Watching the Covid-19 pandemic explode is like watching 9/11 in slow motion. And in both cases it exposed how criminally vulnerable we were to something experts had been warning about for decades, while we learned the wrong lessons because our political system is corrupt, self-serving, and broken. And the slow motion version is climate change, now frustrated pandemic experts know exactly how climatologists have been feeling for years. A clear threat to the planet that requires a rational and scientific response, largely ignored because of political and religious agendas. Hell, Covid-19 is part of the ongoing climate crisis, and like Covid-19, it’s going to get worse faster than people are expecting. We still haven’t learnt that we learnt the wrong lessons from 9/11, our insane and counterproductive “war on terror” continues unabated as calls for global peace and coordinated international action against Covid-19 fall on deaf ears in Washington. Covid-19 is no more immune to politics than the other two crises, God help us all. We aren’t the indispensable nation, we are the insufferable nation.

Lastly, got sent this link about how Covid-19 may be an accidental release from a Chinese biological warfare research lab. Is it possible? Maybe. Every bit of expert opinion I could find says no, Covid-19’s DNA is clearly evolved from a wild strain. Wild as in living in some animal host before mutating and jumping to humans. What does it matter? It doesn’t really, this was going to occur naturally soon or later, so we can’t say we weren’t warned and didn’t know we should be ready for something like this. If it’s true then the nations of the world, the sane ones at least, will get to the bottom of it, biological warfare research is banned under international law for good reason. Blame shifting now serves no good purpose,  but alas that’s how Washington works now. Take credit for the good, blame others for the bad.

On the plus side I’m no longer enraged at Trump, just saddened and disappointed. He really has no clue, we needed a Lincoln, we got The Donald. Comments and shares appreciated, stay safe, stay healthy, #staythefuckhome

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Copied from here, an excellent article about the techniques used by science deniers. Used without permission, but hopefully I can be forgiven as I am linking to the site and also trying to inculcate rational thinking in people.)

Written by unitedcats

April 1, 2020 at 2:40 pm

BETELGEUSE IS UP TO SOMETHING

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Betelgeuse, the 11th brightest star in the night sky, may explode. Wait, what? Yerp, Betelgeuse, the left shoulder of the constellation Orion, is acting very strangely indeed. Over the past few months it has dimmed to less than 40% of its normal brightness, and is now the 24th brightest star in the sky.  The next clear night I’m going to go out and look for myself, Orion is one of the most noticeable constellations in the sky. Never thought it would change in my lifetime. This is, by the way, essentially unprecedented. While there are a few variable stars in the sky including Betelgeuse, never has a super bright star such as Betelgeuse suddenly dimmed this much, at least in recorded history. What the hell is going on here?

Short answer, astronomers don’t know, but it could mean Betelgeuse is about to explode. Betelgeuse is a very unstable and active star, it’s likely just blown a dust cloud or such our way. Still, a supernova? This is because Betelgeuse is a red giant star nearing the end of its red giant phase. And sometimes such stars go supernova. Betelegeuse is maybe 10-20 times the mass of the Sun, and large enough to encompass the orbit of Mars and maybe Jupiter. It’s about 700 light years from Earth, right next door astronomically speaking. Most astronomers think it’s unlikely the dimming means Betelgeuse is going to explode anytime soon, but it is within the realm of possibility. Only eight such explosions have been observed in history, so it’s not like scientists have had much opportunity to study them.

If it does go supernova, it will be quite a sight. Betelgeuse will be the brightest star in the sky, rivalling the Moon in brightness, and so bright as to be visible during the day. And it will last for months. Hopefully the skies here will clear long enough for me to look. Cloudy with sleet today, oh joy. On the plus side, 700 light years away means it probably poses no danger to Earth. We know this mostly because we have a pretty good idea of how common supernovas are, so we can calculate how often Earth has been close to a supernova. Fairly often in cosmic terms, and the planet hasn’t been sterilized yet. Losing the ozone layer would be the biggest danger, the effects would be bad, but life would go on. Phew. We have enough on our plate at the moment.

So two thoughts about this. First, boy, in the pre electric light world this would be a much bigger deal. If one of the stars in Orion had dropped to less than half its brightness in 1800, everyone on Earth would have known about it pretty quickly. And in many eras, it would have been considered an omen or such, the heavens were supposed to be immutable. People wouldn’t have known what to make of it. Pre 1700 or so, before outer space was discovered, people would have been really perplexed. Might have even caused witch burnings or wars. So, good thing it’s happening now, when people don’t believe in superstitious nonsense. Snort. No, the evangelicals who are waiting for Jesus to come back see this as another sign of the End Times. Stay tuned.

Which leads to my second thought, a somewhat eccentric thought trail. This Betelgeuse dimming event is the fourth odd and unprecedented event in the sky since Tabby’s Star dimming in 2015 suggested (albeit unlikely) alien megastructures. The second being Oumuamua and Comet Borisov. Tabby’s Star suggesting aliens, the next two being the first two confirmed interstellar visitors to the Solar System. And now an interstellar event visible to the naked eye, that rarely happens. One might even include the recently discovered repeating FRB, though that’s a stretch.

Connecting these events is no doubt pareidolia on my part. Seeing patterns where none exist. Thinking aliens might announce their presence by making changes in the sky isn’t an original idea. In fact the whole “the aliens are coming” trope seems pretty clearly to be the modern version of “Jesus is coming.”  Still, if the aliens suddenly arrive, I will become a famous blogger. The guy who saw the signs that the aliens were coming! The Nostradamus of our time! Fame and fortune would surely follow. And what a nightmare that would be. Fortunately it’s about as likely as Betelgeuse going supernova in our time.

On a more serious aliens vein, a case has been made to mainstream SETI (The search for extraterrestrial intelligence.) There are excellent reasons for doing so, both SETI and astronomy in general will benefit. The reason SETI has been left out in the cold is because it’s easy for science deniers and evangelicals to ridicule. Humans just love to shoot themselves in the face, we’re an odd species for sure.

I’m sorry this post is a day late, still helping a friend convalesce from an operation. She flies home soon though, and I will resume posting on a more regular basis. Take that as a threat or a promise I suppose. Have a great week everyone!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Remnant of Cassiopeia Supernova of 1572. Credit: Pixabay, free for commercial use, no attribution required.)

Written by unitedcats

February 18, 2020 at 8:17 am

THE GREAT METEOR PROCESSION OF 1913 AND OTHER GOINGS ON IN SPACE

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Around 9pm on 9 February 1913, the Great Meteor Procession. For several minutes a series of meteors streaked across the sky from Canada to the South Atlantic, crossing the US northeast. Unfortunately it was cloudy in the US northeast that night. So most of the witnesses were in Canada or on Atlantic ships. There have been other meteor processions in recorded history, so an unusual but not unique event. Most of us will never see one. It’s believed that this was a decent sized chunk of rock hitting Earth’s atmosphere at an angular sweet spot so to speak. A nice low angle so it slowly entered the atmosphere over thousands of miles and disintegrated as it descended. Some even could hear thunder like sounds as they passed, which due to the speed of sound shouldn’t have been possible. A topic for another day.

Sadly this was before the era of modern satellites and cameras, so all we have are eye witness accounts, such as the painting above. Some people got really excited obviously, but radio broadcasts were decades away, so no widespread anything. Most people would have been unaware of the procession until days or weeks afterwards. And while science can’t definitively explain the procession, there isn’t anything scientifically puzzling about it. Except for one thing. A small number of witnesses reported a second smaller meteor procession in the same location about 5 hours later. The Earth moves a long way through space in five hours, and it makes no sense that this second event was part of the first procession. Yet another procession in the same location as the first hours later would be astronomically unlikely. Say like flipping a coin and having it land on its edge twice in a row.

A FRB that repeats has been found, deepening the mystery of FRBs. discovered in 2007, FRBs, Fast Radio Bursts are incredibly powerful bursts of radio energy detected from across the Universe. Very few have been detected to date, their rarity and non repeating nature makes them tricky to study. Now we have one that goes through a regular cycle every sixteen days. So, woohoo, easier to study! And, crap, the best theories about FRBs posit they were created by cataclysmic events such as colliding stars. Back to the drawing board. Two quick notes, some sloppy reporting says this latest FRB is near Earth. It’s half a freaking billion light years away, so it’s near Earth only in a cosmic sense. Worse, some clickbait reporting implies the radio bursts are directed at Earth, implying the possibility of aliens. No, they are no more directed at us that if one sees a car a dozen miles away at night on a winding road occasionally brighten because the headlights were briefly pointed in your direction. And there is zero scientific speculation that FRBs are artificial. Unexplained doesn’t mean aliens did it.

Well, comet 2I/Borisov is not getting as much press as I expected. Probably because it’s not doing anything that can be spun as “I’m not saying it was aliens, but it’s aliens.” Comet Borisov is the second known interstellar object humans have observed passing through the Solar System, the first being asteroid like Oumuamua in 2017. Oumuamua had some odd characteristics never seen in an asteroid before, though nothing to indicate it was artificial. Borisov falls within the typical range of Solar System comets, the only thing out of the ordinary about it so far is its orbit. Which clearly places it as an interstellar interloper, it will pass through the Solar System once, never to return.

Alas, even though scientists spotted Borisov coming, unlike Oumuamua which was spotted only after it was on its way back into interstellar space, getting a probe to Borisov would be even more difficult than intercepting Oumuamua. So probes to either are highly unlikely at this point. Hopefully a future interstellar visitor will be spotted early enough and in a favorable trajectory, so that it could be visited by a probe. Being able to examine an interstellar object up close would be an astronomer’s dream, since it’s unlikely humans will be launching interstellar probes anytime soon. It’s safe to say that plans are being drawn up for just this sort of interception.

NASA is now planning to return humans to the Moon by 2024. In fact they plan to send the first woman to the Moon as well. In the early seventies, when only men were sent into orbit, it was still a man’s world in ways that are likely surprising to young people today. I’m glad NASA is returning to the Moon, hopefully there will be no tragedies because of the rush to get there while a certain politician is still in office. Trump is all about funding science if it will stroke his need for accomplishments, other science, he doesn’t want to know. So much more making America great again when it comes to science.

Sigh. Hope everyone is having a good week. Shares and comments appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Painting of the Great Meteor Procession of 1913 as seen from Toronto, Canada. Credit: Gustav Hahn. Public Domain under Canadian Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 12, 2020 at 1:50 pm

WUT R WERDS

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In other words, the post I was working on isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to wing it this morning. There’s always something to write about, old or new. I’m watching an old movie for example, ‘Dances with Wolves.’ I tried to watch it when it came out, and couldn’t plod through it all. Not enough explosions for my younger self maybe? Halfway through now, and plodding definitely covers it. Plus somehow Kevin Kostner makes my skin crawl now, that’s a new experience. I will finish and report on by Monday. Two other famous (in their time at least) movies I couldn’t get through were ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Amadeus.’ I don’t believe I will be reattempting them, unless I lose a bet I suppose.

In India four men were accused of raping and murdering a woman. Made the news big time. Then the police took them to the scene of the crime for some reason, where they attempted to escape and were all shot and killed by the police. Rejoicing and celebration in the streets. That’s at least the gist of it from what I can tell. Well, they won’t be raping anyone else. Not sure really what to think of it all. Sort of sounds like an extrajudicial execution, I mean really, all four? I hope they were guilty, sort of, what an odd thing to hope for. Violence against women does appear to be a major problem in India, although it’s pretty much a problem everywhere. My only cogent thought on this is that I simply don’t know enough about India to have cogent thoughts about this. Other than rape is one of the ultimate evils, and it’s often treated far too lightly in the west. The story just got me, and a lot of people I suppose.

In other unfinished business I really tried to get through the Longmire books. I really liked the show. I liked the characters in the books too, but every book introduced a new cast of secondary characters. Worse, each book, at least the last two, used a narrative style where the damn book was half flashback. Two stories intermingled into one, sometimes each with its own cast of secondary characters. I finally gave up, I couldn’t keep  track of who was who when and where and what now. And wasn’t that a tortured turn of phrase, but it expresses how I feel. The dent in the wall where I threw the last book also expresses it.

An anti-vaxxer has been arrested for mass murder in Samoa. I wish. No, but he was arrested for ‘incitement against a government order.’ Samoa is in the midst of a measles epidemic that has killed 63 so far. Samoa has a population of about 200,000, about the size of Salt Lake City, so 63 deaths is a big deal. And anti-vaxxers spreading lies about vaccines are playing a huge negative role. This guy was telling people that vaccines are dangerous, and measles can be cured with vitamin C and papaya leaf extract. Right.

Worse, the anti-vaccine movement is getting more militant and effective in their global campaign to bring back deadly diseases humanity vanquished long ago.  Here’s the whole Samoa story in great detail, it’s freaking infuriating. I’m starting to wonder if the anti-vax movement is secretly run by extraterrestrials seeking to quietly depopulate the Earth. Probably a science fiction B film in there somewhere. More likely though it’s what most human failings can be attributed to. We’re not really an intelligent species.

And since its Friday, I’ll end on a positive note. A cute animated story about a little girl who writes a letter to Santa. Aw. But misspelled it ‘Satan.’ Uhoh. It goes downhill from there. Enjoy it here.

As always, remarks, queries, and, well, thesaurus.com couldn’t come up with a good synonym for shares. All still enjoyed and acknowledged. Enough lame thesaurus jokes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Tweeter or Tumblr thescalexwrites? Maybe this fellow? Used without permission, but since it’s floating around Facebook I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

December 6, 2019 at 9:42 am

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

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I ran across a story about some mesolithic deer masks now on display in England. Pictured above. Found at the Star Carr site in England, dating to around 11,000 years ago. The mesolithic means they were no longer stone age hunters hunting big game, but had started to settle down and utilize a wider variety of food sources. So villages, houses, fishing nets, textiles and pottery even, but no agriculture. That’s the neolithic, which started about 5,000 years ago in Europe. These were very much modern humans though, just as smart as anyone today. And they had language, but no written language.

And while their scientific understanding of the world would be lacking, they would have had remarkable knowledge about the various plants and animals in the natural world around them. What was edible, how to prepare it, medicinal herbs, the seasons … to a depth and detail that would be breathtaking to one of us, raised cocooned from the natural world. I’m not trying to make a noble savage case, just trying to point out they were different from us, but not primitive in any meaningful lifestyle way. If a hundred of us and a hundred of them had to contest naked for possession of an island, they’d be feasting on the last of us in no time.

So yes, the deer skull masks, they were what got me here. They were found at Star Carr, a remarkably preserved mesolithic site in England. Usually from 11,000 years ago all we have are stones and bones, often only stones. At Star Carr we have tons of those, plus all sorts of wood artifacts preserved too. So it’s a wonderful snapshot of life in the mesolithic. However, since they left to written records, there are some big gaps in our knowledge. While we have a pretty good idea what the useful objects we find are for, what non useful objects were for is still a mystery.

And this is where we get back to the deer skull masks. What the heck were they used for? No one as yet has come up with a practical use for them. One suggested they might have been used (with hide still on them I suppose) for camouflage when hunting deer. There has not been a chorus of approval from other archeologists, who question just how stupid a deer would have to be to be fooled by a human in a deer mask. It’s reaching in other words. No, the mainstream view is that they were ritual objects, masks to wear during some sort of religious or spiritual purpose.

I guess. There’s certainly plenty of evidence that modern hunter-gatherers use ritual objects. On the other hand I wonder if the modern puritan streak in our culture colours people’s perception. By that I mean the idea that life is full of practical stuff, and what isn’t practical is religious. Humans now spend all sorts of energy doing impractical things. Even modern hunter/gatherers only spend about 20 hours a week on essential stuff like procuring food and shelter. (Wait, only 20 hours a week, why the hell did we invent civilization with 40 plus hour work weeks? Good question.)  1,000 years from archaeologists are going to find we spend enormous amounts of time and money building football stadiums. Will they think our stadiums are cathedrals? Few today would consider football a religious activity, with the exception of New York Jets fans.

So I dunno, I think there’s lots of non-utile possibilities for a deer mask. Games, sports, plays, telling stories to kids, stand up comedy sketches, anything. The possibilities are as endless as the human imagination. Granted half the reason I wrote this post is I think the masks are cool looking. Hell, that might have been the only reason they were made. And as well just how amazing it is that modern science is able to uncover how our ancestors lived. For more Star Carr pictures and information, this link is pretty good.

Coming soon, slaves and Roman fathers. Hope everyone is having a good week. I’m getting over Dick’s death. At least he left his mark. It’s right there on the highway, a big burned spot I will be driving over for years.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: One of the deer masks found at Star Carr. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. I found it on a number of sites with no attribution, and Pixabay. So I’m guessing it’s public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 20, 2019 at 6:19 am

DEATH, LIARS, JEFFREY EPSTEIN, AND GOD IN SCHOOL

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After my old friend Connie died last week I was chatting with another friend about how many people we had known who died the past few years. It’s been grim for the both of us, the price of growing old. I joked that it’s not safe for people to become friends with me now, they are getting knocked off so regularly. So I am a little creeped out that a fellow I met just a few months ago was killed Friday night.In fact he’d just been by my house Friday morning to talk to my housemate. She still has a note in her pocket from him. She’s pretty upset, she knew him better than I. And he was good friends with the lady who lives across the street, so lots of sadz going around. I know it’s just a horrible coincidence, but still definitely creeped out by it. He managed to kill himself driving the wrong way on a highway, which adds a whole other layer of wrongness to the whole thing. He might have had a few, the police haven’t revealed anything yet. Still, if one saw the weird way the freeway is connected there, it could easily have just been a careless mistake driving at night.

So RIP Richard, I’m sorry I never had a chance to get to know you better. You were quite the character and had an active varied life till the end, you will be missed and mourned. My housemate Elle is out now trying to find a live tree to plant in your memory. And next lifetime dude, wear your damn seatbelt. 

Speaking of death, guess what, Jeffrey Epstein is still dead! The rise of the conspiracy theories about his death is … interesting. I know people who are 100% convinced Epstein was murdered, not debatable in their book. Somehow they make the leap from “suspicious circumstances” to “murder,” without the benefit of evidence. Sorry people, but where there’s smoke … sometimes it’s just smoke.

The aspect of this that I want to propound on is something a lot of people seem to not understand. In every field of human expertise, there are individuals with zero scruples. IE there are experts who will happily take money to promote any viewpoint. In this case a famous forensic pathologist Michael Baden came out publicly stating he thinks Epstein was murdered. The fact that he has a history of propounding controversial opinions and was paid by the Epstein family doesn’t seem to matter, Epstein truthers have seized on it as “proof” Epstein is murdered. No, it’s proof that some people will do anything for money.

Russiagate, 9/11, global warming denial etc. all have a handful of experts touting their line, just like the tobacco companies had no trouble finding doctors to claim tobacco was safe. So because an expert is parroting some conspiracy theory is proof of nothing. Other than the aforementioned proof that some people will lie through their teeth for money. Proof requires actual evidence, not “my expert opinion says this is so.” That people place so much stock in such people is evidence we need to teach critical thinking in schools.

Not that that is going to happen anytime soon in America. In fact just the opposite, a bill has been passed in Ohio, a law called “The Ohio Student Religious Liberty Act of 2019.” The title is deceptive (deliberately so obviously) as it has nothing to do with religious liberty. It’s about letting Christian instruction into public schools. The evangelicals have never given up since the SCOTUS ruled that schools have no business conducting religious services in public schools. Send the kids to private school or Sunday school if one wants them to get religious instruction. Worse, this law at first pass at least would force teachers to accept religious answers from students as the equivalent of the actual science.

Sigh. No, creationism and evolution are not equivalent, one is a religious myth and one is a solidly established scientific fact. Forcing teachers to accept them as equally valid isn’t religious liberty, it’s Christian tyranny. Even scarier now that SCOTUS has been packed with Christian apologists, this law might pass constitutional muster. And America will be that much closer to emulating the theocracies in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Jesus wept.

I got a new patron (Woohoo!) and the odds are against anyone else I know dropping dead soon, so I plan on a great week myself. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Road, Sunset, Horizon. Credit: Beeki, Pixabay. Pixabay license. Free for commercial use, no attribution required.)

Written by unitedcats

November 18, 2019 at 5:40 am