Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Trump’ Category

BAD DREAMS

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OK, I got up this morning and there was no terrible or alarming news at first pass. Phew. The worst is over, maybe Covid-19 was all a bad dream? My vacation from reality lasted 90 minutes, then I ran across this recent news: Infectious coronavirus retrieved from hospital air Basically there is now experimental evidence that Covid-19 does indeed spread from the tiny particles of water people exhale while breathing and talking. Confirming what experts have strongly suspected for some months: Just being in a room with a talking, or worse, singing or yelling, infected person is a great way to get Covid-19.

Is this the final word? Of course not. Our understanding of this virus is in its infancy, but scientists around the world are sciencing the shit out of it. There is hope. Not in the US of course, a thousand people a day are dying, the worst mass death event in US history with the exception of October 1918, when hundreds of thousands of Americans died of the flu. The 1918 flu is basically an ignored event in US history, I saw a documentary about it once. Their take was that the death toll was so horrible that people wanted to just put it behind them and move on. A friend’s grandfather lost 7 of 13 child siblings in one week for example, I can’t imagine.

And I think to some extent this is going on now. 1,000 Americans dying a day, with little fanfare. And very little even call for action. Trump and the GOP seem determined to just pretend it will all go away, and much of the rest of the country is too numbed by the horror of it all to grasp it. And it is a horror, every one that died had friends and family and loved ones who mourn their passing. Every person who dies before their time dims humanity’s light a little. I will be expounding on this in future posts. I hope.

Back to Earth. Biden. Had a few thoughts today.You know, Biden’s VP pic may be more subtly clever  than I thought. She’s almost certainly going to inspire a wave of racist sexist personal attacks by Trump and company merely by existing. And considering how desperate Trump is, he might go completely over the top. People are emotional creatures, this might piss off a lot of people who weren’t wildly excited by Biden. Interesting choice. And then a friend commented: “VP debates against a guy who doesn’t want to be alone with a woman because “temptation” will be interesting too …”

So, a case can be made that Biden is a lot sharper than he lets on. The presidency is within his grasp, very few people can list that in their CV. I can postulate that it’s all just a diabolical plan to sweep Trump and the GOP out of office in the elections. And handed this golden opportunity, Biden says “OK, now let’s get Medicare for all and turn the minimum wage back into a living wage? Oh, and tax the rich. Is America behind me?”

A man can dream. On a personal note, TIL: Eye surgery, you get to watch it whether you like it or not! Little knives and such dancing in front of my eye, snip snip snip. I’m still blogging, so the surgery didn’t go south. Stay tuned. And once again for those in the back, Covid-19 is freaking serious, don’t catch it, don’t spread it, don’t be these idiots.

God bless everyone. Stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image from Snappygoat, IE a Public Domain image under US copyright law. My eye surgery inspired this choice.)

Written by unitedcats

August 12, 2020 at 6:58 pm

DO TREES DREAM?

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Trump said something yesterday that neatly encompasses why we are so screwed. He announced he was going to allow border officials to prevent the return of Americans suspected of having Covid-19: Trump mulls banning return of US citizens suspected of contracting coronavirus: reports There are a number of problems with this idea.

The first, is that it is somewhere between pointless and microscopically useful. Covid-19 is spreading just fine in the United States, and only patchwork efforts are being made by individual states to control it. So a few more or less possibly infected people coming into the country isn’t going to make any difference until we get it under control inside the country. Which we are nowhere near doing, we’re not even trying on a national level. This ban will literally have no effect on the fight against Covid-19 in America, because we aren’t fighting Covid-19 in America.

Which brings us to point number two, why is Trump doing this? I can only think of two possibilities. He thinks this will help fight Covid-19. Which once again demonstrates his poor grasp of the problem and his overconfidence in his own abilities. Or it’s just Covid-19 theater for scoring political/bragging points. Neither possibility reflects Trump in a good light.

Lastly, Jeez barring American citizens from their homeland? Isn’t Trump supposed to be looking out for Americans? If Obama had barred American citizens from returning home … screams of outrage from the GOP would resound across the land. Once again this is an example of how Americans have paralyzed their country by seeing everything through a political lens. Reality doesn’t give a fuck about politics. Or religion, no matter how much one believes in their invisible superfriend.

So what should Trump be doing? What pretty much every other country has done, returning citizens are quarantined for a few weeks, then they can go home. There’s all sorts of hotels crying out for business. Of course since we are just letting Covid do its free range thing in the US, returnees would  probably be safer just staying in quarantine. Which brings us back to the beginning. As long as the USA isn’t launching a national test/trace/quarantine program, everything else we do in the name of fighting Covid-19 is basically irrelevant.

Sigh. Today Trump said if he’s not re-elected, we will all have to learn Chinese. I wish I was making this up, I can’t call it scaremongering, because the Chinese are no threat to America militarily. So what is he talking about? He’s claiming we were crushing China economically before Covid-19, and Biden will surrender economically to China if he’s elected. And China will “own” America? It makes no sense, Biden works for the same rich and corporate interests as Trump, they aren’t planning on surrendering to China anytime soon. Trump’s core base will eat it up though

Back to reality, I read this interesting article from Australia: We are witnessing the fall of a great power. It reiterates a lot of my thinking, and seems logical and factual. The objections I have seen raised to it are, well, unimpressive. If the gentle reader has any major points of disagreement, please comment. We’ve turned politics into a tribal religion in America, and that’s pretty much the end of effective government. 160,000 plus dead, with Covid-19 still out of control. The economy in tatters with no relief in sight. And neither party seems interested in anything but partisan posturing?

Yeah, we’re hosed. I hope I’m wrong. Oh, Biden picked Kamala Harris as a running mate. Honestly, I don’t really care. In fact my first impulse is to say she’s the Geraldine Ferraro of her time. Probably my last impulse too. It doesn’t really change much, Biden’s platform is “I’m not Trump.” Will it be enough to win in November? Damned if I know. Will it matter if he does or doesn’t ? Double damned if I know.

Stay safe friends and readers. We’re slowly getting to the fun part of the epidemic where almost everyone will know a victim. Will it change people’s minds? Probably not. Only the complete collapse of the system will do that. Hang on, it’s on the way. Comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘A tree dreams of fall.’ I love photography, capturing moments in time and place. And other things. Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

August 11, 2020 at 7:42 pm

SADNESS WITHOUT WORDS, PRETTY WITHOUT KITTY

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I woke up this morning with those words going through my head. So … blog title! I’ve been sad and depressed a lot lately. I think it’s mostly a reflection of sad, I’m sad while awake, sad while asleep. I took the above picture outside my house last night. Ran inside to grab my camera, took pics, somehow the camera failed. So the above is from my crappy flip phone camera. A blue searchlight? A crack in the sky one friend asked when I sent the pic? I never saw anything like it before in my life. It persisted for a good ten minutes before fading away. That’s what I love about reality, always cool new shit to see. As for what it was, pretty sure it’s what is called an anticrepuscular ray. It was  exactly opposite the setting sun at sunset. Just the perfect condition in the sky to only see the one blue stripe. I like seeing things in the sky. Saw a sunspot with my naked eyes once. No UFOs yet though.

Yes, I have been writing a lot lately. The plan is to write and post every day until President Trump leaves office. Of his own accord, frogmarched, dragged kicking and screaming, whatevers. What if he gets reelected? Or conquers the world? I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it, anything is possible. I wasn’t one of the gobsmacked when Trump won the 2016 election, her majesty Clinton seemed determined to alienate any but her faithful. I’m writing every day because the most horrifying election of my life is going on as Covid-19 rages essentially unchecked across the land, the most horrible event of my life. America is burning. A chronicle of a terrible time for future and foreign readers.

Speaking of Covid-19, it broke out in Vietnam again. A big breakout this time, their first deaths. Ten died so far. In other words there have been plenty of nursing homes in the US hit harder by Covid-19 than Vietnam. Vietnam was, and is, one of the big success stories in the pandemic. They went into full shutdown and lockdown mode in January, keeping cases down to a few hundred with no deaths. And in the past few months basically resumed normal life. Then, poof, a huge outbreak in Da Nang. They don’t actually know how it got back in the country, the best guess is that it didn’t, that it was quietly circulating asymptomatically locally. The lesson here, this is one ferociously infectious virus and only strong national action can control it. Da Nang has been completely sealed off and shut down now. Meanwhile in Sturgis, South Dakota, America, what pandemic? Sigh.

When I wrote “America is burning” above, I had yet to hear about the rioting in Chicago. Sadly I think it’s just the beginning. People are desperate. Poor communities have been hit particularly hard economically by Covid-19. And with a disproportionate number of deaths too. And there’s not only no relief in sight, neither political party seems terribly interested in offering help to the poor and downtrodden. This is America? And Trump is not exactly a great unifier who will try to calm the nation. He will be sending in waves of cops and soldiers. It will almost certainly get uglier.

How did we get here? Lebanon is actually a good example of what the problem is. America has divided into two tribes, who view everything through a political ideological lens. (While the rich have stolen everything and continue to loot even as the nation burns.) The idea of the common good has been completely lost, it’s everyone for themselves, with loyalty to one’s own faction trumping all else. Everything is seen through a political lens. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out before, Covid-19 is utterly immune to partisan politics. Anyhow, this article about Lebanon articulates it better than I can: Beirut’s Blast Is a Warning for America. In this country, as in Lebanon, everything is now politics. I know it’s behind a paywall, open in an anonymous browser window to read, it’s worth the trouble. Just for this insight:

“This trend is not only hurting us, it’s literally killing us. The reason Trump has utterly failed to manage the Covid-19 pandemic is that he finally met a force he could not discredit and deflect by turning it into politics — Mother Nature. She is impenetrable to politics because all she consists of is chemistry, biology and physics. And she will do whatever they dictate — in this case, spread a coronavirus — whether Trump affirms it or not.”

And that’s the optimistic article. Here’s another good one, no paywall here: America’s Death March. Regardless of the outcome, the election will not stop the rise of hypernationalism, crisis cults and other signs of an empire’s terminal decline. This one basically makes the case that America has reached the end of the road, this level of wealth inequality, corruption, and oligarchy never ends well. I hope I’m wrong, but for what it’s worth, I think I’m living during America’s big fall. Sooner or later believing logical and scientific nonsense like “Global warming is a hoax (or worse.)” was going to lead to actual catastrophe. And here we are, defeated by a germ.

Stay safe everyone. I know people now who are simply not following the news because they don’t want to know. Yeah, I can do that after I’m dead. A reminder for new readers who just wandered in here, six months ago a terrible new disease started spreading. It’s not the Black Death, but it’s still the worst thing to come along in a century. It can be fought and defeated, reason and science are the way.

Ain’t gonna happen, we’re hosed. Stay tuned. Comments, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An anti-crepuscular ray over my street yesterday sunset. Credit: Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

August 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm

I DRINK AND I WRITE THINGS

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First order of business, how many readers realize we are in the second worse ongoing mass death event in US history? There weren’t 160,000 dead in the first six months of World War Two or the Civil War, not even close. Only the 1918 Flu pandemic was worse, and only for about a month. A huge number of Americans died in October of 1918. And yet most people are going about their lives as best they can under the circumstances. Really? Future generations are going to look back and wonder what it was like to live through America’s Covid-19 epidemic.

And for the ones reading this now, it’s fucking weird. The nation has yet to mobilize in defense of Covid-19. One would think an ongoing event killing a thousand Americans a day would warrant a national response. Or at least an acknowledgement that something awful was going on. For the most part, no, Covid-19 just turned into another background news item. In fact it’s been thoroughly politicised by many people, by that I mean how one thinks about Covid-19 is a political litmus test. The alien invasion movies all had it wrong, America is not capable of uniting against a common foe.

So, um, one recent thought I had, people need to understand we are in uncharted territory, anything can and will happen. This is just the beginning of a world changing event. There will be completely unforeseen complications/events as a result of Covid-19. Even at the best of times the future is known to no one, these pretty much by definition are not among the best of times. When World War Two started, no one had a freaking clue how it would progress, let alone turn out. Well, World War Three for all practical purposes started in March. Because huge numbers of Americans are still in denial about it won’t change the outcome one whit.

Another brief talking point I wanted to toss out there: Pay no attention to polls. Polls are an industry now, a poll can be commissioned to get pretty much any result desired. That’s why GOPers were so shocked when Obama got reelected in 2012, Fox News polls had shown him sure to lose. And now with the world exploding, polls are even less reliable … and people are even more motivated to use them to influence people. Ignore the polls people.

So, I read a good article on the current situation with a lot of historical background. Most of it I liked, some of it I didn’t. Fair warning to Trump supporters, it has some Trump bashing, that’s one of the problems I have with it. Still a good read though: The Unraveling of America, anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era. I would have edited out some paragraphs. And whatever faults China may have, they aren’t going to try and replace America’s world military empire. The Chinese tend to be practical, not stupid. As the article points out, China pours more concrete every three years than the US did in the entire 20th century. 20,000 miles of Chinese high speed rail to America’s zero.

Yeah, but we have military bases all over the world! Snort. So what? Pissing money away isn’t something to be proud of. The American Empire never made much sense, World War Two ended in 1945, we should have stood down then. Instead we’ve spent staggering sums of money on endless colonial wars and maintaining a worldwide network of military bases. To what end? Made a handful of Americans very rich. That’s pretty much it. The rest of the developed world spends their money on infrastructure and taking care of their citizens. You’d think this would be a no brainer. There’s something more important than the health, education, and welfare of a nation’s citizens?

And in that vein, Trump just promised to terminate social security if he’s re-elected. OK then. Well, the GOP spent decades promoting the idea that government was bad, now with Trump they are reaping what they sowed. Well, if no government is the problem and the free market will fix everything, a Golden Age is beginning. I have no idea what’s going to happen now, but in my considered opinion, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. A horror age, not a golden age.

Hope everyone stays safe this weekend. Constructive comments from Trump supporters are especially welcome. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Snappygoat image of a cat I liked, Public Domain under US Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 8, 2020 at 8:38 pm

ONLY CAPTAIN KIRK CAN SAVE US NOW

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Two points I thought might be of interest. Trump hasn’t repeated his initial claim earlier this week that the explosion in Beirut was an attack of some sort. He certainly didn’t back down, but it’s not like he got any pushback. He was basically ignored, something he might have to get used to. I digress. I want to point out though that this trivial incident is almost identical to how the whole Benghazi comic opera got started. Basically after the attack that killed 4 Americans took place, some in Washington mistakenly claimed they were killed in a protest that had gotten out of hand. There were anti-American protests in a number of places at the time as I recall. This was in error, it was very much a deliberate attack by a Libyan militia. The sort of mistake that often gets made as a crisis is unfolding. Errors were made, story was corrected, no harm done.

Nope, for some reason the GOP decided this was going to be how they took down Obama. Or something. And they proceeded to spend many years and millions of dollars investigating … and turning up absolutely nothing. Screaming “Benghazi!” the whole time. Political theater. Both sides engage in it. And they’ve been playing these games  for decades, most Americans have forgotten what it was like to have a government that was reasonably responsive to the will of the people. In some senses Roosevelt was “The last good emperor.”

Wannabe Emperor Trump’s continuing failure to launch, let alone lead, a national effort to fight Covid-19 continues to baffle and frighten 2/3rds of Americans. And is looked on with horror and amazement by the rest of the  world. But Trump’s supporters only watch Fox news etc., and in  there Trump’s doing a great job, and all the problems are exaggerated, hoaxes, or even deliberate plots by the Democrats to foment unrest for some nefarious purpose. Trump was just  claiming Biden is against God and the Bible. It’ll inspire his base, the rest of us wonder what he is even talking about. Christianity is under no threat in the US, the nation is overwhelmingly Christian.

In any event, while yes, the Dems are just as complicit in the sell out to corporate America and the Pentagon as the GOP, something the GOP has been doing for a few generations is really causing a lot of problems now. Since 1980 at least the GOP framed all issues as  “They’re coming to take away your rights!” The Dems want your guns, they want to cancel Christmas, curtail conservative’s free speech. Basically generations of Americans were taught that Dems were “the enemy” and anything coming from them was a socialist plot to destroy America from within.

Great for winning elections, turns out it’s a fail when the country needs to pull together. Fighting a pandemic requires unified national action. Not in America. Wearing a piece of cloth over my mouth and nose infringes on my rights! No, it doesn’t, but thanks Republicans for programming Americans to see the best defense against Covid-19 as an attack on their rights. And thanks Trump for failing to lead your people to safety. Trump’s kinda the Anti-Moses.

People are dying of Covid-19 in America  at a higher rate than when they died fighting World War Two. At this point if things continue for a few years, only the Civil War will be the greater killer. So I still think things are going to get a lot worse in the USA before they get better. Would love to hear logical arguments to the contrary. If reality was a Star Trek episode, Kirk would rush in now, take charge, and get us out of this mess.

Yeah, not gonna happen. Biden is no Captain Kirk. Honestly  I don’t see any Captain Kirks on the horizon. Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. Remember, any day one wakes up in the morning is a good day. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

PS: This is so stupid it makes my head hurt: US election 2020: China, Russia and Iran ‘trying to influence’ vote.  Even if they were, so fucking what? Everybody does it, the US is at the top of the list. But the idea that somehow whatever influence they have makes any difference in the multi-billion dollar maelstrom that is the US elections is silly. IE countless other entities in and out of the US have influence that dwarfs what these nations are capable of. Convince me otherwise. Hint: “Intelligence agencies say so!” won’t convince me of anything but the gullibility of the person claiming such. Peace out.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image from Snappygoat, IE a Public Domain image under US copyright law. I think it is a striking image.)

Written by unitedcats

August 7, 2020 at 7:34 pm

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

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I  came across this image on Facebook this morning. Got a chuckle out of it. I am hoping my typical reader is astute enough to pretty much instantly say “No way!” The last sentence in the meme is accurate though, no one alive today has ever witnessed anything like the above image. Before I explain, if the gentle reader doesn’t see the problem, no biggie. Astronomy has no practical applications to daily life, so if one has no interest in it and doesn’t see the problem with the image, perfectly understandable. I still remember reading in Sherlock Holmes that Doctor Watson was astonished to find out that Holmes didn’t know the Earth revolved around the Sun, not vice versa. Holmes was like, I can’t imagine a less useful piece of information, why would I clutter my mind with useless information? An interesting point.

The problem with the image  is that Mars never gets close enough to Earth to appear as large as the Moon. It never gets close enough to appear as anything other than a bright star in the sky. If Mars ever does get that close, at the very least there would be huge tidal surges causing massive flooding along ocean shorelines the world over. At the very least. Any event in the Solar System powerful enough to knock Mars (Or the Earth) out of their orbit would almost certainly have other terrible effects on Earth. Like changing its orbit for starters, even possibly dragging Earth away from the Sun entirely. It’s unlikely the human race would survive such. If the Sun disappeared within weeks the atmosphere would have frozen and fallen to the ground as snow, and life on Earth would be pretty much extinct. I still remember a great science fiction story about the same from my youth, it can be read here: A Pail of Air. And for those who are curious enough to want to experience the loss of the Sun, I helpfully blogged about it once: How Can I Destroy the Sun?

I try to be helpful on Doug’s Darkworld. And in that vein, nonsense aside, the Moon will indeed be very close to Mars in the sky this weekend. This fine article discusses it. And no, it doesn’t happen every two centuries, it happens every two years or so. See it for oneself: The Moon and Mars Align.

Moving right along, today was the anniversary of a significant historical event. An old friend’s father saw the predecessor to it in 1945:

In the predawn hours of July 16, 1945 my teenage father was sitting on the bed of his room putting on his shoes before going out to deliver the morning paper, he was a paperboy. Suddenly his room lit up with a white light so bright, he had to close his eyes. The shades were still drawn. A few minutes later, the room began to rumble. This sound bounced off the mountains for 2 long minutes. When it was over, he gathered himself together and went out to deliver the papers. People were standing outside their houses pondering on what had happened. The papers the next day said that a large mine shaft had blown up somewhere out in the desert. That happened occasionally. But the townsfolk speculated that it never sounded like that. There was never an intense light. The rumbling never lasted as long.*

I am of course talking about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. August 6th, 1945, 75 years ago today. The above recollection was about the Trinity Test, the world’s first nuclear explosion. I’ve written about Hiroshima before, it was an event sad beyond reckoning. A city full of civilians, of no military significance, was killed. A second city a few days later. I still don’t think it was justified, the idea that the nuclear attacks on Japan saved lives or ended the war are debatable at best. In fact the idea that killing two cities full of civilians saved lives is prima facie … absurd? I digress. Read this for an alternate view: Nuclear War or Invasion: The False Dichotomy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Rationalizing horrible crimes is a hallmark of America though. Starting from the beginning when we accepted chattel slavery as an acceptable instituion in “the land of the free.” Rationalizing mass death at Washington’s hand is a long established habit. One that continues to this day, fully ⅓ of Americans continue to pretend that Washington’s Olympic class failure to address Covid-19, 160,000 dead and rising, is acceptable.

It’s no more acceptable than the atomic bombings of two cities. Yet here we are, it is what it is. I urge my fellow Americans to work together to defeat Covid-19. Science and reason can still save us, partisanship and politics won’t. Neither will thoughts and prayers. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes and shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

PS: I still think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

*Quote Copyright © 2020 Leslie Smith.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(Image: Facebook post of unknown origin, presumably it is Public Domain under US copyright law. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law in any event.)

Written by unitedcats

August 6, 2020 at 7:17 pm

NIGHTMARE IN LEBANON, AND TRUMP SLIPS FURTHER INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE

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Well, the nightmare explosion in Lebanon is much worse than I initially thought. The destruction and death toll is worse than I had initially assumed. Hundreds are likely dead, with thousands injured. Heard over 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus, the explosion registered as a 3-4 Richter magnitude earthquake. So far no definitive word on what happened, but apparently over 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate  was stored next to stored fireworks. Welders apparently managed to set off the fireworks, resulting in an initial explosion and fire. Eight minutes later that explosion and fire set off the ammonium nitrate, that was the big one. Certainly seems consistent with the footage I’ve seen. Pretty sure Lebanon still has a free press. In any event the world is filled with explosion experts (go figure,) if there’s anything funky with that narrative, no doubt they will weigh in soon.

Aside from just the horrible carnage, there is going to be a horrible aftermath. Lebanon’s hospitals we’re already packed because of the pandemic, so likely this will be a horrible triage situation. Triage is where they divide the wounded into three groups. Those that will likely live without medical care. Those that will likely die even with medical care. And those who likely will be saved with medical care. Only the latter group gets medical care. And even then further cuts might have to be made if there aren’t enough facilities to handle that reduced load. I can’t imagine having to make those sorts of decisions. OK, I sort of can, it would haunt one.

It gets worse. Lebanon imports almost all of its food. Almost all of it through the port of Beirut. And the country’s main grain storage facility was destroyed in the blast. Bread is the staff of life for most Lebanese, so immediate and ongoing food shortages are almost certain. Basically looks like in the near future Lebanon is going to be worse off than even at the height of the bad times during Lebanon’s fifteen year civil war. Locals are using “doomed” and “hopeless” to describe the catastrophe. And did I mention that corruption and incompetence almost certainly caused this disaster? The welders were not using OSHA approved methods I’m sure, and why the hell were fireworks stored next to ammonium nitrate? Why was the ammonium nitrate even stored there in the first place? There were already big demonstrations against the government going on, so an explosion of anger is likely imminent.

That’s the gist of it. All from this article: Lebanon’s Mushroom Cloud of Incompetence. The author is Lebanese, and it seems objective enough. Oh, and just saw, some port officials have already been placed under house arrest. What a nightmare, and it will keep unfolding for who knows how long. Oh, and of course Trump came out and said the explosion was a “terrible attack.” Anonymous defense officials have already corrected him, there is literally zero reason to believe this was any sort of attack. No doubt Trump will double down on his claim, because admitting he was wrong appears to be beyond his capabilities. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Trump, he does appear to be getting less hinged as the election gets closer. 160,000 dead, the worst economic downturn since the great depression, not surprising. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have inspired him to actually do much about either. His Axios interview was telling. I’ve watched enough Trump this past few months to see what he does. He basically praises himself, pats himself on the back, and blames everyone else for the nation’s problems. And his aides provide him with talking points to toss out that superficially sound good, but fall apart upon analysis. Like his claim that a smaller percentage of Americans are dying of Covid-19 than was the case when it broke out. True, but so what? The world’s medical establishment has learned a lot about how to treat it in the past few months, basically a meaningless factoid. The shear numbers of Americans dying is damning.

And sadly after briefly appearing to take Covid-10 more seriously, Trump’s backtracked and is once again claiming “It’s just going to go away.” He’s still living in a fantasy world where Covid-19 will magically go away, the children will go back to school, the economy will recover, and he will be re-elected in the fall more popular than ever. Yeah, and Mussolini got an utterly unprepared Italy into World War Two because he fantasized about riding a white horse into Cairo at the head of his victorious legions. The war didn’t turn out well for him. In fact a lot on the right are going off the deep end, Alex Jones is claiming leftists are stockpiling explosives and weapons for some nefarious purposes, and rightists should strike first. If that’s not inciting violence, I don’t know what is. Oh well, read about that and other far right nonsense here. And here.

Did have a commenter here the other day who said he liked having Trump as his president. Well, what can I say, Trump still has his fans. Here’s a good article on doing one’s own research. I share as part of my ongoing efforts to encourage people to use reason and science to guide their lives, not emotion and religion. The latter hasn’t been working against Covid-19 as the friends, families, and loved ones of over 160,000 dead Americans can attest. I hope my Trump admiring reader doesn’t become one of them.

And here’s the funny meme for the day:

Stay safe everyone. My election vigil continues.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image of the explosion in Beirut. Credit and copyright: https://warisboring.com It’s a reduced size, grayscale copy of the original. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law due to that, it’s arguably an historically important image, central to the post, and no public domain image is yet available. The second image is a Facebook meme and claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, if it even has a copyright.)

Written by unitedcats

August 5, 2020 at 8:04 pm

“IT IS WHAT IT IS”

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The post title was something Trump said at a recent interview where he made more ridiculous claims about how Covid-19’s not really that bad in the USA, and his administration’s performance has been just fine. An American a minute died during his interview, dark irony. Not terribly surprising though, if it’s good, Trump takes credit for it. If it’s bad, it’s actually really good, or it was caused by his enemies, not him. It’s always about him, never seen a politician so alarmingly narcissistic. Or one that lies with such frequency. He’s consistent though, I’ll give him that. And, well, he inspires loyalty in his followers. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

I’d wonder why people keep believing him, but it’s not all that much of a mystery. I’ve gone over it before. This article goes into some of the science why people believe his lies, interesting read, though the source is a bit left leaning for my tastes. Trump’s utter self-assurance is part of it. He believes what he is saying. Trump does actually believe he is this genius national leader, the same way Hitler convinced himself he was a brilliant general. (150,000 dead due to Trump’s ineptitude and magical thinking, comparisons to Hitler are becoming fairer by the minute. Because every minute that thump sound  in the background is another American dropping dead.) On the other hand, unlike Hitler, Trump’s a craven coward, making it unlikely he will try to seize power. Fun times.

Came across this article about how the wellness crowd is merging with the alt-right conspiracy crowd. Strange bedfellows indeed. Interesting read. Speaking of interesting reads, an article on a recent and new theory of consciousness. Science hasn’t made a whole lot of progress on the topic, because it’s tricky to study. Consciousness can’t exactly be put on a microscope slide, we can’t land probes on it. Even defining consciousness is tricky, philosophers have been grappling with it forever. Anyhow, another interesting read for those inclined to speculate on such. Myself, when they found out some ants pass the mirror test, I gave up. I think, therefore I am, good enough for me.

And lastly, in non Trump or Covid-19 news, a terrible explosion in Beirut Lebanon’s port. Nearly a hundred dead, hundreds injured. It’s all over the news, no need for a link. The conspiracy people will hit the ground running no doubt. (Well, their feet were never on the ground in the first place, but the gentle reader knows what I mean.) There was a mushroom cloud, but any large enough explosion will generate a mushroom cloud. For any number of reasons it isn’t a nuclear explosion. For example if it was an air burst, the initial flash would have set everything on fire within some distance of the epicenter, and anyone in the open nearby would have terrible burns and been blinded if looking at it. Not to mention vaporized people near the epicenter. If a ground burst, there would be a ginormous crater. Lastly, numerous countries have orbital satellites watching the Earth 24/7 to detect nuclear explosions. They have had for a long time, they spotted one in the South Atlantic Ocean in 1979, if Beirut was nuclear they’ll know soon enough.

No, more than likely it was just what initial reports are claiming. An industrial accident, there are a number of chemicals which can explode under the right circumstances. The Texas City disaster in 1947  being a good one. 2,000 tons of fertilizer exploded, killing nearly 600 people. As an odd little aside, this disaster is why building zones were invented. Having things like residences and fire departments next to industrial sites that might blow up was a bad idea in retrospect. Then there was the Halifax Explosion in 1917. That killed around 2,000 people, but it was a ship full of high explosives. However, I am by no means ruling out foul play, there are a lot of violent players in the region. God rest the souls of all who died, my heart goes out to the people of Beirut.

90 days to the election. Who knows what the hell is going to happen either before or after. Well, 130,000 odd Americans will die if the current Covid-19 pandemic continues in the USA. And normal Americans. Tall Americans. Short Americans. Young Americans. Old Americans. God rest their souls. My heart goes out to their families and friends.

Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit: @manictheshitposting. Whatever that means.)

Written by unitedcats

August 4, 2020 at 8:12 pm

THE CRAZINESS CONTINUES: THE STURGIS COVID-19 FESTIVAL

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The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. August 7-16. 250,000 people gathering for a week of music, motorcycles, dancing, sex, and sharing Covid-19. The mind, formerly boggled, reels uncontrollably. See previous post about large segments of the population still not understanding that Covid-19 has changed everything. They do have a link to a Covid tracker on their page, but that seems like the only concession they made. Understandably a lot of people are concerned, this is going to be the largest public gathering anywhere in the country since the pandemic arrived. Only about half as many people as usual are expected, so not every biker etc is living in fantasy land. Safe bet though that the ones that are attending are the people least likely to practice proper social distancing when they get home. Or to put it it in simple terms:

In the same vein, the cruise line industry started re-opening. What could possibly go wrong with cramming a huge bunch of people in an enclosed ship where they all breathe the same air? As almost any epidemiologist (excluding any that Trump suggests) could have predicted: A Covid-19 outbreak. I could say “What were they thinking?” I won’t because I don’t think they were thinking at all. Go to a huge concert or what not, get a terrible disease to go with your T-shirt. The new normal for those still in denial about Covid-19.

But wait, aren’t vaccines being rushed out? Won’t that just fix everything? Yes, and almost certainly no. There are two problems. First, at this point vaccines are being rushed into use without adequate trials. Russia claims to be in the lead, but experts have doubts. The Russians haven’t released any data about their trials for example. It’s basically a Hail Mary pass. They are hoping it doesn’t turn out to have negative side effects. They are hoping it works. Both assumptions are questionable. If the Covid-19 pandemic was a Hollywood movie, sure, at the last minute brilliant scientists would develop a vaccine and millions of lives would be saved. Life isn’t a Hollywood movie, a point that shouldn’t have to be repeated. Hell, shouldn’t have to be made in the first place.

Just off the top of my head I can think of three other reasons not to get too excited about a Covid-19 vaccine yet. First off, if any problems do result, the anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy folks will go nuts. People like these are already causing enough problems in the fight against Covid-19, giving them more ammunition won’t help. Secondly, it will make people think everything is under control and thus neglect other anti-Covid-19 measures; we need more compliance with masking and social distancing, not less. Thirdly, related to that, a vaccine is only part of the strategy to fight a dangerous infectious disease. Rigorous testing/tracking and quarantine programs are still needed to stay on top of the disease. A step that the US especially is failing.

Sigh. Moving right along. Just occurred to me that this election is the first wartime election since the 1960s. Granted a pandemic and a war are two different things, but the base comparison is valid. In both cases an ongoing event is killing Americans, and the situation on the ground so to speak can change rapidly. Another reason not to get too worked up about the election, or make predictions. At this point either candidate could win. Trump’s base tends to vote in large numbers for their demographic, and Biden’s “vote for me because I’m not Trump” is hardly inspiring.

Which reminds me, I just had a long talk with my uncle in Canada. Always good to keep in touch with family. One of the things he said was a  heartfelt “How the hell did one of the great nations on Earth end up with an election between two doorknobs?” A lot of us are wondering that too Uncle L. And he mentioned that Americans are not welcome in Canada right now. They’ve had too many incidents where Americans said they would self-quarantine, then been spotting noshing at a local bar. On the plus side the Americans then find out what it’s like being in a country that expects people to act like adults. $1500 fine, kicked out of the country, and likely banned from entering again.

Someone left a comment on my last post. I only hastily reviewed it. Something about Trump will save us all when he gets reelected. I’ll take a closer look and deconstruct it tomorrow if it’s worth deconstructing. What a year. What an election. “I’m not Trump” vs “I’ll fix all the problems I caused!” You can’t make this shit up. You’re right Uncle L, doorknob vs doorknob. Hope everyone had a good Monday (it is Monday, right?) Stay safe; likes, shares, comments, and anatomically possible suggestions welcome. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

PS: The movie in the top meme; Arrival, 2016. Great intellectual scifi movie, as opposed to the usual monster and alien invasion fare.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Images publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm

PEAK FARCE, PEAK STUPID? WHERE DOES IT GO FROM HERE?

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800px-Creation_Museum_Exterior

An American is dying every minute of Covid-19 now, with no end in sight. We are living in a failed state. I’m tempted to give up on America. I can’t though, I’m going to continue to blog and try to be a voice of reason in a  nation gone stupid. There’s no polite way to put it, there has been a rising tide of stupid in America my entire life, and Trump and Covid-19 have accelerated it. Willful ignorance might be a better word for it, since loads of perfectly smart people are now believing stupid things. Dunning Kruger on steroids.

Yeah, the Creation “Museum.” A quarter of Americans believe the Bible is literally true. They believe the Earth was created by an invisible magical fairy 6,000 years ago. It opened in 2007. And no future and foreign readers, they are serious. It’s not satire, a joke, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, a send up. Nope, it’s an actual serious effort to portray the story of Genesis in the Bible as if it really happened. So no, not a museum either, in any real sense of the word. I’m assuming that guests who go around guffawing hysterically are quietly escorted off the grounds. They’d have to be, otherwise it would be a stoner’s mecca.

I guess if one can get people to accept a load of codswallop as real, it makes it easier to get them to swallow subsequent loads. Somewhere along the way this kind of studied ignorance in America hit some sort of critical mass, and it’s been expanding ever since. Not without encouragement of course, getting people to believe nonsense must be very profitable to the con artists of the world. And since 2000 the stupidity has exploded. Anti Vaxxers, the various truthers, even Flat Earthers. Centuries of science and reason dissolving before my eyes.

Not limited to Evangelicals or Trump supporters either. A Facebook friend posted today a rant and warning about how a couple of Russian websites were trying to sow discord in America, and people should not go to them. I wanted to reach through my computer screen and shake her. While screaming: Have you ever watched Fox News? Have you ever listened to Rush Limbaugh? Have you ever gone to the Drudge Report? Whatever the Russians may or may not be up to, Americans are doing just fine on their own sowing discord and hatred around the land. Again, there must be profit in it for some, no matter the damage to the health of the republic. And this is an interesting article by a former Republican on pretty much just that.

Despite my lowering bar for civility toward the man and party who are destroying America., I’m trying to avoid name calling. As I’ve said for decades, name calling is the first and last refuge of those who can’t make a logical argument. Thank you Rush Limbaugh, though it started long before him, he was the first to bring name calling into the mainstream.

And as a last example of American’s being completely out of touch with reality, the push to reopen schools. Despite the fact the pandemic is out of control (an American is dying every minute,) there’s still no national test/track/quarantine program, and children can’t possibly be expected to practice social distancing … Trump and the GOP are pushing to get children back into school. Do nothing, pretend a miracle will occur, and somehow life will go back to normal. The same strategy Trump and numerous GOP governors have used so far fighting Covid-19 with spectacularly disastrous results. Here’s a good article on why this push to reopen schools will be a horrifying fail. And this article too.

The party that thinks “thoughts and prayers” is a substitute for “reason and science” still hasn’t seen the light. 150,000 dead, hundreds of thousands more with long term or permanent health deficits. Dear God, when will all this winning end? Well, hopefully it will start winding down in 92 days. Stay safe gentle readers. Shares, likes, comments appreciated.  #StaytheFhome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Creation “Museum” in Kentucky. Credit: Jelson25, a wikipedia contributor. They have released the image into Public Domain in the United States.)

Written by unitedcats

August 2, 2020 at 8:34 pm