Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Trump’ Category

AMERICA, THE FALL OF

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

October 29, 2021 at 4:44 pm

“THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES” PLUS THE 2021 NONSENSE CONTINUES

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I saw a classic movie the other night: “The Best Years of Our Lives” It was a 1946 movie about three servicemen returning from World War Two and the difficulties they had re-adjusting to civilian life. Surprisingly, to me at least, it was quite watchable. I find it fascinating how some old movies become pretty much unwatchable after even a few decades, while others become timeless classics. Partly personal preference I am sure, but I am sure there are other factors at play. It was also interesting in that the movie took a very honest look at what we now call PTSD, these three veterans had serious issues. I’m sort of stuck on the idea that prior to 1980 or so most movies portrayed an idealised “Father Knows Best” view of American culture, so it was refreshing to see one with a more honest take. Unfortunately they all worked out their problems in the end and lived happily ever after, which is a far cry from the realities of PTSD.

Still, a movie I really enjoyed. As did the people at the time, it was a wildly popular movie, and won nine academy awards. Including the first time a non professional actor won an academy award, Harold Russel; and the only time a performer won two awards for the same performance, Harold Russell again. I guess it’s a good thing that a movie about people dealing with personal demons was so popular, even if the demons were unrealistically vanquished. It’s Hollywood, happy endings are what they are all about. Hey, even I, who recently lost all faith in humanity, liked it.

In politics: The utter ridiculousness of calls for Joe Biden to resign. It really is transcendentally absurd. 13 Americans die, and the GOP falls all over themselves claiming Biden is unfit to lead and should resign. Were there calls for Roosevelt to resign after Pearl Harbor? Reagan to resign after the Beirut Barracks bombing? Trump after Covid killed hundreds of thousands of Americans? Bush to resign after 9/11? Maybe, but not by mainstream leaders of the opposition party. This really shows just how out of touch with reality the GOP has gotten, because they refuse to accept Biden as the elected president, that somehow that translates into he’s unfit to lead. Give me a break. And whatever criticism one wants to aim at Biden, he successfully pulled off one of the greatest airborne evacuations in history, over 150,000 people evacuated in two weeks.

Not surprising, manufactured outrage is all the GOP has. They’ve been spreading a story that Biden repeatedly checked his watch during the ceremony as the US dead from Kabul were unloaded. No, he didn’t: Did Biden Check Watch 13 Times During Transfer of Fallen Soldiers? In fact he may once have glanced at his watch, though that isn’t even clear. No worries though, Fox News replayed the video at half speed to exaggerate the glance and make it appear more than it was: Fox News manipulates its own video to spread allegation that Biden looked at his watch during transfer of fallen troops. Kind of like how the British during World War Two edited a film of Hitler to make it look like he was dancing a little jig after the surrender of France. Of course Britain was at war with Germany at the time and making Hitler look bad was a very reasonable propaganda exercise. Um, is Fox News at war with America? Apparently, if they are happy to alter a film to make Biden look bad. Nonsense like this not only destroys the mainstream media’s credibility, it’s a big factor in tearing America apart and making it ungovernable. And Fox News isn’t the only one, but they led the way.

Sigh. A good article about China, Taiwan, and the US. More accurately, just how nation states are adamant about not letting provinces secede. The US paid a terrible price preventing the Confederacy from seceding, and if anything the Chinese are even more adamant that Taiwan is a part of China. For the US to go to war with China to prevent it reunifying with Taiwan is utter folly. Still, nations have gotten into stupid wars for no good reason throughout history, just hoping this doesn’t turn into one of those wars. Good read:  American Civil War and the Lesson for China and Taiwan.

And then some of today’s truly whacked nonsense. A man who no doubt thinks of himself as a patriot and a Christian calls for tens of millions of Americans to be literally starved into supporting Trump’s “Stop the Steal” lies: ‘You Get Nothing’: Josh Bernstein Calls for Democratic Voters to Be Starved Until Biden Resigns. This would of course include millions of innocent children, not to mention millions of Trump supporters. This is called “collective punishment,” and is a human rights violation and war crime of the first order, something only the most hideous authoritarian governments do. (cough) Nazis (cough.) And unlike the Nazi’s who would massacre villages for supporting insurgents, he’s talking about collective punishment for people exercising their right to vote. And once again I apologize for my prior claims that comparing Trumpism to Nazism was overblown, I was wrong.

And for dessert: Christian Preacher: If Trump Isn’t Reinstated, Your Wives May Be Raped. The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Thoughts and prayers to those impacted by Ida. And I am doing something about it, I write about Global Warming constantly to fight the fossil fuel industry lies that are making the consequences of Global Warming far worse than they needed to be. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe and dry everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Hitler jig photo, taken at the surrender of France to Germany on 22 June 1940. It was from a film that was altered to make Hitler dance a little jig, but I couldn’t find that online. Credit: Unknown, likely Public Domain under US copyright law, claimed as Fair Use in any case.)

Written by unitedcats

September 1, 2021 at 4:35 pm

COVIDIOCY RAGES ON

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Covid rages on. I was feeling maybe it was odd to post yet again about Covid, then I realized that’s BS thinking. The Covid pandemic the worst mass death event of my life, the third or fourth worst mass death event in US history, killing more than a thousand people a day still. World War Two only killed about 200 people a day, Vietnam only about 10 per day, and those were top daily news for the duration. That a huge number of Americans and their chosen media/political spokespeople want to pretend Covid is no big deal or it’s almost over is their fantasy, no need to let it infect my thinking.

Officially the US death toll is approaching seven hundred thousand. That’s nearly one American in every five hundred dead. Most of us have lost a friend or loved one to Covid. Unofficially, and in reality, the death toll is around one million dead. That’s because a lot of Covid deaths go unreported, and more importantly, the strain on a health care system overwhelmed with Covid patients means people die because they couldn’t get treatment, this fellow being a good example: Veteran Dies Of Treatable Issue Because ICU Beds Are Filled With COVID Cases. One million dead Americans. How can that not be the top of the news while the pandemic is still raging? Beats me, I chalk it up to a normal human impulse to pretend everything is fine, especially when urged on by their political and religious leaders to think everything is fine.

In many ways it comes down to people not wanting to listen to the experiences of others. This is a fine take on it, including the terrible price paid by so many public Covid and vaccine deniers (Spoiler, they died of Covid:) Leonard Pitts Jr.: The wisdom of experience is a priceless gift … that many spurn. Or as a young friend once put it: “Never give advice. Fools won’t heed it and the wise don’t need it.” She was paraphrasing Ben Franklin, a wise man if there ever was one. A couple other cases just for fun: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus and QAnon conspiracist dies from COVID-19 he called a hoax to the very end.

On the plus side, Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers are dropping like flies. At this point I have zero sympathy for people who die of Covid because they refused to get vaccinated or otherwise take precautions against Covid. Covid is getting more dangerous: New strain in deadly delta variant surfaces after 53,000-person festival: report. Sadly a lot of people who were taking precautions are dying now, have since the beginning, since the anti-vaxxers and their ilk make the situation worse for everyone, especially when in positions of power: Florida police departments rocked by 29 COVID deaths as DeSantis bungles pandemic response. Basically as Covid mutates into more dangerous forms America’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Getting More Dangerous.

And frankly some people are getting tired of it: It’s time to listen to the ‘adults’ and ignore those who refuse the COVID vaccines: national security expert. I’m certainly tired of it. Mandatory measures to protect public health are perfectly reasonable. It’s kinda the whole effing point of civilization. The rest of the world is getting tired of it too: Covid: EU recommends new travel restrictions for US as cases rise. Sadly while many US states are doing everything they can to fight Covid, some aren’t, and Covid deaths will continue. One has to wonder where we’d be if concerted national efforts to fight Covid had been launched from the get go, at the very least a lot fewer Americans would be dead.

It’s just weird living in a country where rampant stupidity is the norm in some quarters: Shane Vaughn Claims COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Work Because The US Is Under God’s Judgment. First of all, the vaccines work just fine. The vast majority of people catching Covid in the USA now were unvaccinated. Secondly, what is it with Evangelicals and their obsession with what consenting adults do with their genitals? Frankly it’s a perverted obsession, especially the idea that some sort of “supreme being” is also concerned about it. One would think any sort of loving God would be concerned about murder, rape, and children being molested; not gay people having sex.

Speaking of imagining a God concerned about weird things: ‘Get a Brain’: Hank Kunneman Warns of Dire Consequences if Trump Is Not Reinstated. Um, not even sure where to start. Trump, the most unpopular president in modern times, lost his reelection bid. Not debatable, but that doesn’t stop Trump and his supporters continuing his “the election was stolen” lie.  I think that’s one of the things I most hate about Trump, he’s completely normalized politicians lying through their teeth. Like this whopper: Lindsey Graham: ‘Whose decision was it to pull all of the troops out… I just don’t know’. Of course he knows, it was Trump that signed the deal with the Taliban to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

The theory that I died in my fall two and a half years ago and the ever increasing ignorance, stupidity, lies, death, and confusion since is just some sort of Donny Darko madness in my dying brain seems more credible all the time. What can I say, dark depressing times both in the nation at large and what’s left of my personal life. Fun times. Have a great week and stay safe everyone, especially those in Louisiana.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit: This Is Fine creator explains the timelessness of his meme.)

Written by unitedcats

August 30, 2021 at 5:01 pm

THE STUPID, IT BURNS

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OK, been having a bit of a writer’s block. Or more like writer’s frustration? I couldn’t find the origin of the phrase “the stupid, it burns” for one. Granted that’s just a minor frustration, but part of the bigger picture. So so so much stupidity in modern America these days. To the point where I am debating just changing the name of the blog to “The Stupid, It Burns.” And calaloguing every bit of abject stupidity I find among the day’s news. There’s more than enough to go around, hell, people have built careers around cataloging it. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert come to mind, although no doubt there are countless others.  It’s tempting, but I do like writing about science and history and such, so I would get tired of it. Not to mention depressed and angry.

So instead, I’ll just make this post about rampant stupidity. Especially because three of the biggest stupidities of my life in America are big news lately. And a special sort of stupid. Things that are going to cost tens of trillions of dollars over the rest of my life. Not billions, trillions of dollars. As Senator Dirkson observed in the seventies: “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” He’d no doubt be horrified today because the billion has turned into a trillion. And we’re also talking about countless American lives that will be lost, easily in the hundreds of thousands, and we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t go into the millions.

The first of course is Covid. Early estimates were that it would ultimately cost the US economy 16 trillion dollars. And that was assuming we got it under control, which we have manifestly not done yet. The second is global warming. Fires, floods, droughts are steadily ratcheting upwards, and the costs once again are in the trillions of dollars. Lastly of course the so called War on Terror, in the news lately because of the nightmare of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. We spent over two trillion dollars: New Report Finds US Has Spent Over $2.3 Trillion on Afghanistan War. And that’s just part and parcel of the War on Terror and freaking endless US military spending, more than the next twelve highest military spending nations combined … most of which are our allies to boot. These three mind numbing endless (and growing) idiotic expenses are why America’s infrastructure, education, and health care is the shame of the developed world.

And none of them are being addressed or rectified in any meaningful way by either American political party. One party, the GOP,  is more or less ignoring them, when not actually making them worse. All in the name of politics and winning elections, and of course fully in service of their corporate overlords who get ever richer while the nation and planet suffer. The other party, the Democrats, pays lip service to them in the interest of politics and winning elections, while still in actuality serving the same corporate masters. That’s the great thing about American politics, both parties have convinced their base that the other party is evil. And both parties are right, though not in the way they portray it. America could be the greatest country on Earth when it comes to things that actually matter to people, all being sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics and the insatiable greed of the richest ruling class the world has ever seen. Sigh. So in the midst of this mass national ignorance and stupidity, so so many smaller acts of stupid. Just for fun I’ll chronicle some of the current crop.

At the top of today’s list: Fury as US congressmen fly into Kabul in midst of evacuation effort. That’s right, as a horrifying evacuation of people is under way in Kabul, Afghanistan, with people so desperate to escape that they are clinging to aircraft only to fall to their deaths, two congressmen decided to fly into Kabul on a “fact finding” mission. Right, what facts were they unclear on? The fact is that whatever plane seats they and their staff filled on their way out could have been filled by people who were fleeing for their lives. The fact is this publicity stunt means some people will be tortured and killed. It made about as much sense as if some British politicians had decided to sail to Dunkirk on a “fact finding” mission. It’s literally that stupid. Bipartisan stupid in this case, one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican.

Mike Lindell, who is Trump’s self appointed ambassador of stupid, now predicts Trump will be reinstalled as president by New Year’s day now that his prediction of an August 13 reinstatement predictably didn’t come to fruition. The regular reader will note that I predicted Mr Lindell would just change the date when his first prediction failed. So many layers of stupid. First, the lie that the election was stolen from Trump is just that, a fact free lie. Trump was the least popular president in modern history, so not only is it no wonder he wasn’t reelected, the real wonder is he got as many votes as he did. Then of course, even if it was shown that the election was crooked (don’t hold your breath,) that still wouldn’t result in Trump being reinstated. The election isn’t some sort of horse race where if the winner is disqualified the second place candidate wins. That’s not how any of this works. Stupid, all the way down.

And in today’s “Jesus Facepalms” file, a heretic Christian blogger says mom’s shouldn’t work because their teenage children will have sex if they aren’t in the home. Truly an almost infinite onion of layered stupid.  Let me count the ways. One, unless mom spends 24/7 with the kids in her presence, they will most certainly figure out ways to have sex if that’s their inclination. Two, if teenage children haven’t already learned how to behave sensibly, parental supervision isn’t going to help. She sounds like she doesn’t trust her own children to follow the “Christian” values she raised them on. Three. The days when a single income can support a spouse and children are long gone, most working moms work because they have to. I’m sure the gentle reader can come up with more. And of course access to sex education for children makes it less likely they will engage in risky sexual behavior, get pregnant, and get a venereal disease. Unfortunately people like this mommy shaming blogger think sex outside of marriage is bad … and think things like unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease are a good thing, punishment for sin and all that.

Yeah, stupid and evil often go together. Next, a nice science post I’m working on. Turns out Gobekli Tepe may have been a monument to stupidity. Yes, there have been stupid people for more than 10,000 years. It never ends: Driver ignores warnings not to park on beach and van ends up floating in sea. And of course new horror in Afghanistan. Humans, such a fascinating species. I think I’m losing my faith in human nature. Sigh. Hope all are having a good week, stay safe gentle readers.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: 19th century rail accident, public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 26, 2021 at 6:39 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

August 20, 2021 at 6:12 pm

COVID CONTINUES, GLOBAL WARMING, AFGHANISTAN, TRUMP VS BIDEN FOLLIES, HOMICIDAL LANDLORD, ETC.

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Well, here’s an interesting headline: New Zealand enters nationwide lockdown over one Covid case. Imagine that, a nation where the government and citizens do what needs to be done to prevent the spread of a terrible disease. In America, that’s the stuff of fantasy. Not sure when the last time was that American pulled together for the common good, certainly not in my adult lifetime. Depressing, especially since so many Americans have become so partisan that they can’t even imagine working together.

In other Covid news, the anti-vaxxers and their ilk continue to spread their toxic nonsense, like the idea that vaccines are the problem. No, no they aren’t: Are vaccines driving the emergence of “escape mutant” variants of COVID-19? Basically as far as I can recall people spreading pseudoscientific nonsense have never turned out to be right while established science was wrong. Granted established science is regularly updated as scientists learn new things, but invariably it’s updated by other scientists.

And in the other ongoing catastrophe, the drought in the American west is worse than ever: U.S. declares first Western reservoir water shortage, triggering cuts. At this point it’s worse than the Dust Bowl of nearly 100 years ago. Basically scientists increasingly are no longer calling it a drought, it’s desertification at this point. Even back in the 80s desertification was becoming a problem in parts of the American west, it’s much worse today:  The Western drought is worse than you think. Here’s why. And this is very much a part and parcel of global warming, but the well funded global warming denial industry is still doing just fine. Will humans essentially destroy their planet because the richest industry the world has ever known is perfectly fine with continuing their profits no matter what the cost to future generations? Looks like it. It’s not hopeless yet, but without serious action, we’re screwed.

Lastly, yes, Afghanistan is still in the news. It’s a horrifying situation, just the images of people clinging to the outside of airplanes and falling to their deaths is heartbreaking. Western media coverage is really depressing too, though frankly I find western media coverage of almost everything pretty depressing these days. In my youth the major media outlets were actual independent media outlets. This story: Soldier son’s Afghanistan sacrifice was ‘all for nothing’. Yes, yes it was. And even if the US had decided to stay, it was still for nothing. The horrifying thing about stories like this is the implication that further for nothing sacrifices would somehow magically make their son’s loss meaningful. And no, American troops weren’t “protecting America from terror” while in Afghanistan.

What a mess. Gotta love this though: The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan. It was contradicting Trump’s current schtick … everything bad in Afghanistan is Biden’s fault! Pretty much Trump in a nutshell, he was the greatest president ever, and everything bad in America was someone else’s fault. I’d say the man spews nothing but lies, but I think he actually believes them:  Trump spews lies about Covid on Fox Business: ‘It was virtually gone when I left — it was over’. He’s kinda like the leader or CEO who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes me, except in Trump’s case there are tens of millions of them, people absolutely convinced that Trump is the world’s saviour. So convinced they come up with memes like this:

OK then. A nation gone mad. Like this: Landlord Accused of Killing 2 Tenants Told Police He Handled Eviction ‘His Way’. Well, I guess that’s one way to handle tenants who owe back rent. A horrible evil counterproductive way. Yes, Americans are about $20 billion behind on rent now due to Covid eviction moratoriums. Yes, the gentle reader heard that right. 20 billion dollars. Basically nothing in the greater scheme of things. America’s billionaires have gained like a trillion dollars since Covid started, one fiftieth of that could pay off all the back rent in America. Or in another way, about .05% of the Federal government’s annual income. Ain’t gonna happen I expect, but who knows. Biden managed to get a pared down infrastructure bill passed, that surprised me.

Strange days. A third of the country thinks Trump is a God. Another third thinks Biden is some sort of FDR reborn. The last third is watching Scrubs reruns. Or writing blogs no one reads. Maybe other stuff, I don’t get out as much as I should. On the plus side I finally managed to find a dentist who fixed the horrible pain I have been experiencing for months. It only cost me my grocery money for the next couple of months. I’ll go from being a pain addled blogger to a starving one. Donors welcome. Good times! Stay safe and cool everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image, top: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, Fair Use under US copyright law. Image bottom: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 18, 2021 at 12:41 pm

AMERICA’S SAIGON MOMENT IN AFGHANISTAN, A WAR THAT LASTED NEARLY ONE THIRD OF MY LIFE ENDS IN A DAY.

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They don’t call Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Empires” for nothing. While a Taliban victory was imminent and inevitable last week; today, 15 August 2021, the provisional  Afghan government fled, and the Taliban marched into Kabul and seized effective control of Afghanistan. America’s longest war is over. In the vulgar vernacular: “It’s over. We lost.”

Historically this looks to be a big deal. It’s a freaking big deal in Afghanistan for sure. In America, if Facebook is any indication, Afghanistan is essentially non news. The forgetting is already in place. Or misdirection, Trump and the right are already proudly proclaiming it’s all Biden’s fault and they could have prevented the Taliban march into Kabul. And a third of Americans don’t get that this analysis is both infantile, ignorant, and not helpful.

If we’re gonna be political, at least Biden had the balls to get out of an expensive and counterproductive war. Reagan was the last president with that kind of stones. And Trump was the one who set the ball rolling in Afghanistan for freak’s sake. He signed the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, Biden just followed through.

And in America it’s all compromised because ignorance about Afghanistan and its last fifty years of history is rampant. Even worse, most Americans believe stuff about Afghanistan that just ain’t true.The US didn’t ever fund the Taliban for example, the Taliban didn’t arise until 1994, and they arose to fight the mujahideen the US had supported to drive out the Russian invaders.And no, this is not a religious war. Yes, the Taliban are inspired by their faith, but their war against the US was about driving foreign invaders from their land.

“The question I never hear asked. Where would Afghanistan be today if the USA had never been there?” My answer: Run by a stable, popular, Pashtun, and remarkably uncorrupt theocracy. And they would be an isolated impoverished sanctioned pariah state like Cuba, North Korea, or Iran … because that was US policy before we invaded. Good question.

Hell if I know really. The fact that no one has ever been much good at predicting history, how many peeps predicted the Taliban would roll into Kabul today, shows that the future can’t be predicted. This is true retroactively as well.

Today was a turning point in history. Or it isn’t. What now? Anyone who says they know is a liar or a fool. I can only hope that the bloodletting remains low, so far so good. The Taliban are not ISIS. For good or for ill Afghans now control their own fate, as it should be.

I’m freaked about this turn of events. Stay safe everyone, have a great week.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A US helicopter evacuating the last few people from the US embassy. Attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law as it is an historically significant photo.)

Written by unitedcats

August 15, 2021 at 7:28 pm

PRESIDENT TRUMP RETURNS, GOP CHILD SACRIFICES, MISINFORMATION TRIFECTA, AND DEAD FLIES?

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Will Trump be returning to the White House this week as predicted? Short answer: No. Long answer: No!!!! By Friday according to the My Pillow guy. He’s holding some sort of marathon presentation where he’s going to be on stage live for 72 hours: ‘I’m staying up here for 72 hours’: Mike Lindell abruptly cancels food breaks at his ‘cyber symposium’. OK then. I’d say this was crazy, but that would be ableist, and not terribly helpful. I put “Trump will return!” in the same category as all “revealed” predictions. Predicting the end of the world, the return of Christ, when the aliens will arrive, etc. has been a popular human activity since at least 2800BC. My favorite:

“Drawing from theology and astrology, German prophet Johann Jacob Zimmerman determined that the world would end in the fall of 1694. Zimmerman gathered a group of pilgrims and made plans to go to America to welcome Jesus back to Earth. However, he died in February of that year, on the very day of departure. Johannes Kelpius took over leadership of the cult, which was known as Woman in the Wilderness, and they completed their journey to the New World. Fall came and went and, needless to say, the cultists were profoundly disappointed at having traveled all the way across the Atlantic just to be stood up by Jesus.”

The predicted return of Trump is just another chapter in this long history. Something for sociologists, historians, and psychologists to ponder. I think the people promoting these things are either charlatans or genuine believers, doesn’t really make a difference. The thing to note is that when the prediction fails to materialize, as will be the case here, the proponents of same will just change the date of the prediction and carry on, and most of their followers will likely continue to follow. And if I’m wrong and Trump is back in the White House on Friday, it will be a great blog topic!

And while we are on the topic of huge numbers of people believing stuff that just ain’t so, Covid denial continues to rage in the USA. Yes folks, more than a year after the worst plague in living memory started, huge numbers of Americans are still in denial about it. Well, not this guy: Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus. No other developed country has this sort of widespread Covid denial, so of course the US remains the worst hit developed country. More than a million dead, more than one American in 300, and even many of our leaders are still in denial: ‘They can’t arrest all of us’: Rand Paul calls for defiance against COVID-19 restrictions. It’s as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and more than a year later huge numbers of Americans were still insisting it’s all a hoax.

If it was only the people in denial coming to harm, it would be both stupid and amusing: Pharmacists Fight Off COVID Truthers Demanding Horse Medicine Instead of the Jab. Sadly, no, some of our leaders are going so far as to actually prevent efforts to fight Covid. Specifically in schools, which are set to open soon. People who proudly claim they are “Christians” and “pro-life” are actively preventing measures to fight Covid spreading among children. The GOP’s death cult comes for the kids. I don’t know what to make of this, other than I am horrified. If one’s politics leads one to fight efforts to prevent the spread of a horrible disease, I think one’s politics are messed up.

So much misinformation out there. The good doctor has written a fine piece about the basics of spreading it. It’s actually fairly simple. First, come up with your misinformation, be it creationism, vaccine denial, whatever. Then attack the legitimacy of any and all expert opinions, leading to modern America where all opinions are treated as equal. Lastly, scream freedom of speech if efforts are made to stop the spread of your misinformation. The doctor covers it in more detail: The Misinformation Trifecta | NeuroLogica Blog. Sadly of course this process has been increasingly weaponised by bad actors using the sciences of advertising and propaganda.

I miss my youth. Yes, there was a fringe of silliness and science denial in America, but for the most part science and learning were lauded, and the news sources all pretty much agreed on the facts. Good times. Now America is increasingly resembling a medieval nation ruled by superstition and fear. Hell if I know the answer. Afghanistan in the next blog, America’s longest war, and contender for the most counterproductive war. Today though, I’ll end with a useful scientific discovery, one hopefully uncontroversial enough that everyone can appreciate it. What happens to flies that are shooed out the car window at highway speeds? Everyone has wondered that, right? Science has the answer: Do Flies Survive When They Fly Out Your Car Window At Highway Speeds?

Hope all are having a safe and cool week. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so at the earliest opportunity. The life you save may be yours. Or a loved one’s …

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 11, 2021 at 8:03 pm

TAHLEQUAH AND THE STATE OF THE UNION

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

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

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

In world news:

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

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

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

One last meme:

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

July 28, 2021 at 8:26 am

ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

July 10, 2021 at 6:08 pm