Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

UFOS ARE THE ANGELS OF OUR TIMES

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UFOs have been in the news. This is just one version of recent events: Leaked video appears to show UFO plunging under water off California. The basic story is very simple, some military authorities say there’s something going on in these videos where humans can’t be doing. Tacit admission, shall we say, that UFOs may well be alien in origin. Sigh. For this to be true, IE alien UFOs, probes or what not are flying around in Earth’s atmosphere, requires layers of special pleading. IE all sorts of logical problems with the premise need to be explained away. Not a promising start in other words.

So let’s dive into this. OK, say military authorities decided that Sasquatch was real? Or Nessie? Or Leprechauns? Or Santa Claus? Would that make the idea that any of those was real more likely? No. Military authorities historically are often wrong, and often lie. The idea that the military is taking UFOs seriously, if that’s even what’s happening, is simply an argument from authority. It goes downhill from here. Here’s another layer of special pleading. There is zero evidence of alien intelligence in the Universe. SETI has tried all sorts of promising approaches, and found nothing. And there’s zero evidence on Earth of alien probes, no crashed ones have ever been found, no one has ever taken a good picture of one. Nada.

But, but, the military has all sorts of special sensors and stuff! These are infrared motion pictures for example, how  many of those are around? Well, quite a few I am sure. I digress. Any student of the history of military sensing technology knows it’s a long history of false alarms and mistaken identifications. There’s all sorts of ways birds, bugs, and all sorts of other stuff has been mistaken for something other than what it is. The flying rods nonsense is an example of people not understanding what new technology was recording. It’s not that hard to find experts pointing out there’s nothing unexplainable in these infrared videos. I mean, this story has been popping up repeatedly for years.

That doesn’t sell though. In the Internet Age, especially, for every site trying to promote sober analysis (like this one I hope,) there are dozens preaching to the choir. UFOs sell, and have for decades. Humans want to believe. The same way they want to believe in angels. Many still do believe in angels. It’s a comforting belief. And people believe that UFOs are real for the same comforting reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice if intelligence such as ours could not only exist far beyond our level, it could actually be benign toward us? Or least indifferent. The people who believe in Ancient Aliens certainly demonstrate the former.

Myself, I think the evidence indicates that aliens do exist, but in a far darker form than people imagine. A topic for another post. In other news, what a mess Washington is now, sheesh: The congressman from Hell is a symptom of our rotten political system. Good but depressing read. In personal news I socialized for the first time in a year yesterday. The cat got all the shrimp, the guests carried away the leftovers, and what they didn’t take my housemate ate in the morning. I’ve been missing this? Joking aside, good times. Hope all are having a good week. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sunset on Mars. Credit: NASA. NASA pics are public domain so long as not used to imply endorsement. NASA does not endorse Doug’s Darkworld.)

Written by unitedcats

May 18, 2021 at 7:34 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Well, I have about a dozen stories that might make a blog post if padded, but I hate that. So I’ll just dive right in and see how many I can fit in one blog. First off, the good doctor is on point today. I used to be anti-GMO and pro organic, but I have since realised these are basically ideological positions, not science based ones. There certainly are many problems with modern industrial farming, CAFOs in particular are an ecological blight. The solutions are complicated though:  EU Scientists – Organic Farming Less Sustainable.

As  an aside, I notice that while left leaning folks have no trouble understanding that there are all sorts of religious organizations, think tanks, groups etc. who are promoting pseudoscience and nonsense in support of their ideology/religion (or simply out of greed) many leftists don’t seem to understand there are plenty of left leaning organizations doing exactly the same thing. Ecowatch leaps to mind, but there are plenty of others. Selling snake oil is as old as civilization and utterly indifferent to politics and ideology. Reason and science are required to figure out reality, not pseudoscience and bad logic. That’s what people will come up with though if one points out for example that glyphosate is a remarkably safe herbicide that is harmless to animals. Nope, glyphosate bad, Monsanto bad, end of discussion. Sorry not sorry: Glyphosate and Behavioral Economics. Convince me otherwise.

Oh well, I just lost another friend or two no doubt? What else is in the news: Research shows the need to address the root cause of far-right extremism. Basically they determined that sexism and misogyny is a big part of the foundation of far right extremism. Makes sense to me, I’ve been saying that sexism is the root of all the other isms for decades. Once one has decided that half the human race isn’t really human because of their genitals, an idea so stupid it hurts the head to think about, why it’s easy to think the same about any other group of people based on superficial characteristics like skin color, national origin, etc. Sadly I don’t see this misconception changing in the west anytime soon because the Abrahamaaic religions are founded and based almost entirely on the idea of male superiority.

Speaking of genitals and civilization: Another gender reveal party explosion, at least no one was hurt this time: Explosive gender reveal party shakes houses miles away. Yes, there have been deaths. Frankly, the whole concept of gender reveal parties strikes me as somewhere between absurd and downright creepy. I mean, having a party to celebrate what genitals a fetus has? Really? Why would anyone care, what genitals a kid has reveals exactly zero about them. Frankly this whole obsession with other people’s genitals strikes me as disturbed. Who looks at a married  couple and wonders if they have the “right” genitals? Who goes into a bathroom and worries that someone in a stall has the “wrong” genitals? A lot of Republicans apparently.  (I’ve wondered if GOP stands for “Genitals, Other Peoples’.”) Another reason the aliens lock their doors when they fly by Earth.

The Trumpers’ election loss meltdown/fantasy continues: ‘It’s almost like insanity’: GOP base continues to lash out over Trump’s defeat. I’m pretty sure that fervently believing something for which there is zero evidence for, and tons of evidence against, is insane on some level. I have no problem with the GOP tearing itself apart at Trump’s bequest. Hell, voting for people who are pretty much insane seems to be the future of the GOP: QAnon Candidates Are Winning Local Elections. Can They Be Stopped? Why stop them, give them all the rope they want.

In the same vein (GOP fantasies,) there’s this: As economy spikes, Republicans are still waiting for the ‘Biden depression’ that Trump predicted. Turns out that Trump’s claims that the economy was going to crash if Biden was elected were, well, bullshit. Who would ever have guessed? And a final bizarre Trump fantasy: Trump administration thought they’d be memorialized in statues for doing such a great job negotiating with China. In some ways this is one of the weirdest things about Trump and his cult, they actually think he was a fantastic president. I’m sorry, at best Trump was an unremarkable president up until Covid, and his response to Covid was catastrophically hundreds of thousands of dead Americans incompetant.

And Trump’s Covid misinformation legacy lives on, because of vaccine resistance invigorated by Trump’s downplaying of the virus, it looks like herd immunity for the US won’t happen: Thanks to Republican Anti-Vaxxers, the U.S. May Never Reach COVID-19 Herd Immunity. Sorry Mr Trump and followers, but being the world’s largest driver of Covid misinformation doesn’t get Mr Trump any statues.

Lastly, so many police shootings of coloured folk. America has a problem here, and until we acknowledge that, we can’t fix it. There’s nothing wrong with police, or the concept of police, but police culture in the US needs to be reformed … and we need to stop using police in situations where other professionals would be better utilized. In any event, here’s a police training event where police are taught that not only is killing people no big deal, they’ll have great sex afterwards.

I have a hard time seeing this as a good thing. Police should be trying to save lives, not get off on taking them. Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. A tweet, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 23, 2021 at 7:12 pm

DEREK CHAUVIN GUILTY, EVERYONE IS A CONSPIRACY THEORIST, AND OTHER NEWS

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A jury has found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts of murdering George Floyd. It’s certainly good news in the sense that civil unrest would have ensued had he been found guilty. However, that aside, I do believe justice has been served. From what I have read, all modern policing theory says that the neck is not an appropriate restraint target. While various neck holds are very effective at restraining people, they are also inordinately dangerous. The police are supposed to protect the public, not put them in danger, And in this case, kill them.

I think police reform is needed in the US. That’s what people mean when they say “defund the police.” Part of the reform is not using police for everything. Someone is acting out because of a mental health crisis, send a mental health crisis team, not the police. And police in schools, give me a break. And qualified immunity has to end, if a cop kills someone in any situation that isn’t clearly self defense, there should be a trial. Cops are supposed to take risks to protect the public, not kill people because the police felt threatened or the suspect wasn’t complying. Other developed countries manage to police themselves without police killing people at anything like the rate at which American police kill people, especially POC.

Convince me otherwise. It will require logic backed by science, but I can change my mind if presented with a reasonable argument. A quality I’m not sure many people share. I’ve had trouble blogging recently because I realized that almost everyone is a conspiracy theorist. By that they hold all sorts of social beliefs that they aren’t willing to admit might be wrong. And they will use confirmation bias and motivated reason to defend those beliefs if challenged, sometimes brilliantly. The person who believes their invisible superfriend rules the world is really no different than the person who thinks the Rothschilds rule the world. Thinking there was some secret conspiracy to  blow up the Twin Towers is no different that thinking a hurricane was sent by God.

And no matter what one believes, there are web sites happy to provide endless false arguments, motivated reasoning, and cherry picking in support of the same. Doubt that? Challenge someone’s belief that GMOs or glyphosate are dangerous, that Trump is a Russian asset, or that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. A world of motivated reasoning. No wonder the aliens fly right by.

Speaking of flying, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made the first powered flight on another planet. It’s basically a drone. Pretty impressive considering the atmosphere of Mars is about 1% the atmosphere on Earth. Jesus, if I make it a few more decades, humans might return to the Moon and make it to Mars. Well, even if I don’t make it, hopefully humans will pull it off. I just hope I’m around to see.

So much stuff on America and its empire, not sure where to start. Try this: America’s Intel Vampires Can’t See Themselves in the Mirror: DNI’s Hypocritical and Self-Awareness-Absent Annual Threat Assessment – Antiwar.com Original. America, a nation ruled by fear. The richest and most powerful nation the world has ever known defines itself by fantasy threats both domestic and international. While its rich get ever richer and its working class gets an ever smaller slice of the pie. Go figure.

Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, completed in 1661 by Rembrandt. It depicts a Batavian oath to Gaius Julius Civilis, the head of the Batavian rebellion against the Romans in 69 AD. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 20, 2021 at 8:15 pm

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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