Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

WAR DRUMS

with 2 comments

Well, so much for writing fun sciency or history posts. Stuff just keeps happening in Trump’s confrontation with Iran. I will write on and off during the day, updating when necessary. The first development is Trump threatening to attack 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliates for the US’s targeted killing of a popular Iranian general. Hundreds of thousands have turned out for his funeral. The general’s, Trump is still with us. And Iraq just voted to expel all US troops from Iraq. Gee, they don’t want any part of Trump’s war with Iran, and they certainly don’t want it fought in Iraq. Who would have guessed? And just now, Iran rolled back the 2015 nuclear deal.

I’m not sure what Trump is trying to accomplish by making threats. It’s bizarre that his airport attack is presented as some sort of defensive move or preventing a war. Now if anything happens, he has backed himself into a corner. And gave Iran cover for rolling back on the nuclear deal. Which isn’t going to make our allies happy. And how will Trump respond to that? It’s not like harsher sanctions are an option. Worse, anyone who wants war between the US and Iran just has to fake an Iranian backed terrorist attack. If it’s spectacular enough Trump will really be on the hot seat. I can’t see any good about a war with Iran, but some organizations and even some governments would. Certainly I’m seeing people saying Trump is Israel and Saudi Arabia’s puppet, there’s some truth to it for sure.

It should be pointed out that Iran is closely aligned with Russia and China, which again highlights the absurdity of “Trump is Putin’s puppet” codswallop. And the administration idea that general Soleimani was some sort of American murdering terrorist plotting to kill more Americans doesn’t seem to have any evidence backing it up. Staggering amounts of nonsense all over Facebook and the media. At least we seemed to have backed down on Trump’s threat to attack cultural sites.

Trump should be happy, he’s destroyed the 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama’s signature accomplishments. Hopefully that’s the worst of it, but sadly burning oil facilities and a worldwide economic jolt are still very much an unpleasant possibility. Bombing Iran isn’t going to fix anything, nor will it engender regime change in Iran. Not exactly sure what Trump is trying to accomplish, if he manages to bluster through this without making it worse he’ll get my approval.

I am just trying to get my thoughts down and published. Some of my friends are refusing to watch the news, it’s all pretty depressing now. I have no idea what’s going to happen now, anyone who says they do is deluding themselves. “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice” though, as the good colonel said in Heart of Darkness. This often leads to bad things. I hope it all blows over and I can go back to blogging about cats.

I’m reading a book about the Battle of Stalingrad, some light reading to distract me from the news. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thoughts and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Digital art. Credit: Pixabay, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

HAPPY NEW YEAR

leave a comment »

January first, New Year’s Day. Oddly enough starting the year on January 1st is a relatively new thing. In much of Europe it wasn’t until after 1500. In the Ottoman Empire it wasn’t until 1918. And in Thailand not until 1941! Yes, there are Thai people alive today who remember when New Year’s Day wasn’t January 1st. Before then it was April 1st. So that means there must have been an extra long year or an extra short year when they made the switch.  Must of been a huge hassle with contracts, birthdays, and such. The legal equivalent of when Sweden switched to driving on the right.

So, any interesting history on January 1st? A little, there’s always something. The Chenogne massacre in 1945, where American troops in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre killed a like number of German POWs. I’m of a mind that events like this should be taught in school. On the same day the Luftwaffe launched its last air offensive, Operation Bodenplatte, an attempt to destroy a crippling number of Allied aircraft on the ground in Belgium and France, giving the Germans control of the skies over the then raging Battle of the Bulge. It was a catastrophic fail, destroying easily replaced Allied aircraft and losing many irreplaceable trained and experienced German pilots. So it was the Luftwaffe’s last gasp as an organized force, and through the end of the war the Allies completely controlled the skies over Europe.

In 1947 Canadian citizens became Canadian citizens instead of British citizens. I didn’t know that, but it was more a formality and legal nicety than any big change. Going back further, in 1804 “Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.” That’s from Wikipedia. I guess the hundreds of Indian nations in the Americas didn’t count as independent countries? In 1801 Ceres was discovered, the first and largest asteroid discovered. It was considered a planet for some time, then an asteroid, and now a dwarf planet. Science marches on, if confusingly sometimes.

Back in the here and now 2020 rolls in with a new crisis. Iraqi protesters swarmed the US embassy in Baghdad, causing damage, but no deaths or hostages yet. My first thought on hearing the news was, wait, what, isn’t the US embassy inside the Green Zone, the huge fortified crusader complex the US built in Baghdad? How did protesters even get to the US embassy? Turns out the Iraqi government let them in. Sigh, what a mess. Trump publicly blamed Iran, claiming they orchestrated the attack somehow. At least he’s mastered that aspect of Neocon World Middle East, if anything we don’t like happens, it must be Iran’s fault! That the US airstrikes against Iraqi militia forces killed dozens of people and just might have enraged Iraqis, nope, not relevant, it’s Iran! 

Even if Iran did have a hand in this, it’s just another indication of how America’s hard line policy towards Iran is failing. And he’s threatening Iran that they are going to pay “a very big price.” It’s not like he can sanction them further, so I’m not exactly sure what he means. He’s going to bomb Iraq some more? And no, our embassy wasn’t attacked because Trump has made people around the world not respect us. Good chance most of the protesters don’t even know who Trump is, but they do know America has brought nothing but suffering and death to Iraq for decades.

That’s one of the most frustrating things about Americans, most of them are now oblivious to the carnage and subsequent ill feelings our endless wars in the Middle East are causing. Somehow they are all habituated to it, like it’s normal to be dropping bombs on poor people on the other side of the planet. If some other country routinely bombed the USA Americans would most definitely be attacking their embassy, Americans would be outraged.  Do as we say, not as we do, the imperial disease illustrated.

In any event here’s hoping cool heads prevail, the last thing Trump or the nation needs is another war. Even watching the impeachment show is preferable to seeing another war on TV. Speaking of which, I did see a great movie recently, ‘Long Shot’ with Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron. It was as funny as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Game Night,’ to give the gentle reader an idea of what movies I find funny. And now I will never hear the word ‘cracker’ again without giggling. I hope everyone had a safe New Year’s Eve, welcome to 2020.

Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Haitian revolution: The Battle of Palm Tree Hill   Credit: January Suchodolski 1897-1875. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.)

Written by unitedcats

January 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

EXTEMPORANEOUS NEW YEAR’S EVE POST

leave a comment »

dino crossing road

So a year ago I had a fall that almost killed me, twice. Since then I have taken exquisite care not to fall again. While dining with a friend tonight I got a unexpected call from an … interesting … person from my past. A person who leaves a wave of destruction in her wake. (She escaped from jail again.) So I get back to the table, sit, and my chair collapses and down I go. A chair I was only in because of a cat. Bruised, but nothing broken. Too many weird coincidences there, especially on New Year’s Eve. It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if I did die in the fall and my life since then is a last dying dream. I think I will drink tonight after all. Skol my friends, hope to see you all next year.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

December 31, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

RANDOM RAMBLINGS PLUS AN INTERSTELLAR VISITOR

with 2 comments

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

This was an interesting week. Got kinda bad news from a few old friends. The good thing about growing old is you’re still alive. The bad thing is that the older one gets, the fewer of your friends and loved ones will be alive. Pretty safe to say that if you make it from 60 to 80, the large majority of your contemporary and older friends and acquaintances will be dead. A mixed blessing at best. You’ll get to eat more of your own birthday cake, but get fewer presents. Still, at this point it’s too late to die young and be a horrible warning, so I’m going to press on.

I also realized this week that my upper arm shattering in my fall last Christmas saved my life. It takes a lot of energy to shatter an upper arm bone, I mean the neighbors heard it snap. And I slammed into that wall with my shoulder, head, and neck, the arm bone breaking acted as a crumple zone. If it hadn’t broken the energy would have gone into my head and neck, where broken bones are a much more serious concern. Limbs are useful for something besides walking and pouring coffee, who knew?

Speaking of coffee, I realized this week, that despite drinking three or four cups of coffee a day for decades … I don’t really like coffee. Bad coffee, good coffee, all equally unappealing. I was essentially drinking out of habit. How did I come to this realization? Six weeks ago I started counting calories, and one thing I did was cut back to one cup of coffee a day. (With sugar and cream a cup of coffee is north of fifty calories.) Tuesday, after receiving bad news, I decided to say “eff it” to the diet for one day. I went and got myself a turkey/bacon sub with fries, it was delicious. And then I thought, “I’ll make myself a pot of coffee!” Followed by “Wait, I don’t feel like having coffee, I’d rather have a diet soda or two.” Live and learn.

I also realized this week that while I like the little rural town I live in, there’s no doubt it’s a comfortable little bubble of white privilege. I have layers of laws, state agencies, and federal agencies protecting me in my essentially gated community. All pretty much invisible to me, all designed to keep “undesirables” in their place. Such has it been for all of America’s history. Granted privileged classes are a problem in many places around the world, but I think America’s history of slavery and Native American genocide reinforced the cultural tendency in some uniquely ugly ways.  I know the word ‘privilege’ really pushes some buttons with some people. Telling someone they are privileged is not a pejorative. Topic for future blog posts no doubt,

On the topic of pushing buttons, I noticed in my travels through conservative cyberspace that OAC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) really pushes some buttons. The mindless hostility expressed towards her is legion. Not even sure what’s she’s saying that’s causing all the ruckus, but I have to assume she is hitting below the waterline. When your rhetoric reduces your political opponents to sputtering mindless rage, you’re doing something right. Alas mindless outrage seems to be the style these days in American politics, and it’s certainly not limited to conservatives. I just wish people would get outraged about things that matter. And while I’m at it I wish I had a pony.

OK, I don’t really want a pony. If given one, I suppose I could sell or eat it. In late breaking news, our Solar System is getting another visitor! A few years ago an interstellar asteroid dubbed Oumuamua flew past the Sun. Sadly it was small and already heading for the exit when astronomers spotted it. So the science gleaned was just enough to leave a zillion questions. This time, it’s a comet, dubbed Borisov, and we spotted it on its inbound run! It’s gonna zip past the Sun just beyond Mars’ orbit, which is an incredibly close encounter astronomically speaking. And this puppy is big, 20 km wide or so. I will read up on everything I can find about it on the weekend, Monday’s blog topic!

Puppies, ponies, I think I need a cat. There’s a CLO (cat like object) that lives in my house, but it’s not the same. Have a safe weekend everyone.

PS: Oh yes, gonna start running some ads on wordpress. I need new shoes. They will be as small and unobtrusive as practical.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A pony like animal I photographed in the desert. Badly.  Credit: Doug Stych Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 13, 2019 at 4:31 am

TRUMP ISN’T HITLER REVISTED

with one comment

bdb5484481b3f8d6a3f24f49fa138d77fd6c02c4

If your thinking doesn’t evolve as you age, you’re doing it wrong. Thinking and aging. Awhile ago I wrote a post titled ‘Trump Isn’t Hitler.’ In some ways I stand by what I wrote, historically speaking the comparison is still weak. Still, the mall shooting in El Paso forced me to re-evaluate my position. And I realised my position suffered from intellectualism and white privilege. Both are problems for me from time to time. I was concentrating too much on the details, and not enough on underlying themes. Overlooking the fact that since I am not being targeted, I would have a tendency to minimize what is going on. Academically and historically Trump and Hitler are far apart, socially and personally they are all too closely related.

There’s basically two ways there are alarming similarities between Trump and Hitler. The first is that both have a pool of fanatic supporters. Almost all politicians have die hard supporters, but a rare few are basically messiahs to their followers. Hitler was one, he has supporters to this day. Napoleon is another great example. Robert E. Lee. George Washington. And, oddly enough, Trump. I might not put Trump (OK, I would not) in the same league as these guys, he’s more a Mussolini type. And when one has a pool of fanatic supporters and a leader who encourages bad things, bad things happen.

And that’s what Trump is doing. He is “othering” people who don’t fit his definition of American. Dehumanising is another word. In the common speak, encouraging hatred against minorities. Hate speech. It’s clear again and again that only white people fit Trump’s definition of American. His refusal to condemn American Neo-Nazis. Comparing desperately poor people seeking shelter to an invading army. Referring to African Americans and Latinos as “the African Americans” and “the Latinos.” Trump calling for the death penalty in the Central Park Five injustice. His “Go back to where you came from” to four Americans. Trump is of course not the only person doing this, but his doing so from his bully pulpit (The Oval Office) is emboldening others to take up the cause. And an ugly cause it is, as the El Paso shooter showed us.

In other words, the parallels between claiming Latinos are invading the country as some sort of Democrat plot to take over the country and claiming Jews secretly sabotaged Germany in World War One are scary. And just today he said that Jews who vote for Democrats are disloyal. Got a lot of clapback from Jews. And his sentiments are creepily similar to Hitler’s stated belief that Jews were not loyal to the state.  Or we can just go with the facts, the science is absolutely clear, there’s been a huge uptick of hate crimes unequivocally linked to Trump’s rhetoric.

It’s really not debatable at this point that there some ugly parallels between Trump and Hitler. I’m not sure it really helps to make the comparison though. Some of his base like the comparison. And the rest are just going to regard it as name calling and claim it’s Liberal overreaction. Or worse. I no longer really care what most Trump supporters think, I’ve yet to meet a politically active one that could construct a logical argument. (To be fair, not something limited to Trump supporters in our burgeoning Age of Unreason.) I now have friends who have been hurt by the GOP’s policies under Trump, and who have been victimized by hate crimes since Trump got elected. Kinda makes it hard to be well disposed towards people who support Trump.

Trump isn’t a patriot, he doesn’t give a crap about anyone but his rich friends, and he is blatantly encouraging Americans to hate their non-white neighbors. While he and his rich friends rob working class Americans blind. Granted every president since Reagan has been a friend of the rich, but Trump comes with a giant slice of racism and hate as well. And I don’t think most of his followers will ever see it. Well, the blatantly racist ones do, but they like it. And many of the rest live in a fantasy world where feminism has gone too far and whites are a discriminated against minority. Hopefully working class Americans who don’t hate their neighbors will desert Trump in 2020 in enough numbers to kill his reelection chances.

If not, things are going to get a lot uglier. I hope I’m wrong. This was a very difficult post to write, which is why I am posting it late. I still like my Trump supporting friends and relatives, but they are taking America to a dark place. I see no greatness in that. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Mussolini and Hitler. Credit: Unknown, public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 23, 2019 at 10:50 am

leave a comment »

Adams_The_Tetons_and_the_Snake_River

For two reasons. First, except for time out during my health issues in January, I have been doing a good job of posting regularly. And yes, after tons of physical therapy and exercise under the bridge,  my left arm is starting to feel semi-normal again. I can hold a beer steady with my left hand now while I use the opener with my right hand, so even if I make no further progress, life is worth living again.

Secondly, and more importantly, I am going to be making some changes around here. To start with, my Patreon site is going to go to patron only. And I will be posting there once a week. So patrons will get exclusive content from now on. On my WordPress site I will be posting thrice weekly, those posts will be public. No more double posting, the free stuff, and most of my writing will remain free, will only be posted on my WordPress site.

I have excellent reasons for doing this. I don’t know exactly how long any posting hiatus may be, probably not long at all, there will certainly be some posts during the conversion. The goal is to have it all back on track by July 1st, sooner if I can manage it. Oh, and one final reason for taking a break … I’m going to snap my twigs if I don’t. No one wants that.

Business done, now a political rant for amusement. Presidential politics just gets weirder every year in America. I mean yes, Trump is a hard act to follow, but Joe Biden? A man who is mostly known for being a subject for funny memes during the Obama years. A man whose voting record and past statements make him an enemy of all that is progressive, and a complete betrayer of old school Democratic principles. And yet the mainstream media is serving him up as the anointed one. He’s getting all sorts of favorable coverage, while everyone else is already relegated to “also ran” status. Basically the political dynasties in the US control the press, and that’s that.

Things could change, but right now looking like a repeat of 2016. A Democratic candidate essentially forced on the Democrat base, with his main qualification being “He’s not Trump!” My freaking cat isn’t Trump either, but that doesn’t make him presidential material. Biden will run a lackluster uninspiring campaign,  huge numbers of Dems will stay home disgusted that their candidate didn’t even get a fair chance at the nomination. And then Biden will go on to lose to Trump, because the Dems seem determined to insult and piss off potential Trump voters, driving them to the polls in just enough numbers to eke out another Trump victory.

And if Biden loses, just like Clinton did last time, it will be everyone’s fault but his own. Especially the fault of the people who didn’t vote for him! I am still amazed by the idea that people are supposed to vote for the anointed candidate, and if somehow they didn’t in droves, well, it’s the non voters who are in the wrong, not the fault of the candidate who was supposedly working hard to inspire them to vote. The Seymour Skinner school of political thought. And even if Biden wins, he is 100% guaranteed to maintain the status quo. IE corporate America and the ultra rich continue running the country for their benefit, while infrastructure, education, and health care continue to decay.

This is why I like Stargate. There has to be a way off this planet! Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Credit: Ansel Adams, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2019 at 4:12 am

WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

leave a comment »

youdoodle-2018-01-20T14-07-14Z-1

Things like modern infrastructure, education, and health care. This article, this is why. It’s US Defence Secretary James Mattis explaining America’s new defence strategy. This was one of the most horrifying articles I’ve read in a long time. I will break parts of it down for the gentle reader:

“The US faced “growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia”, he said, unveiling the national defence strategy.”

No, no we don’t. China and Russia would have to spend trillions of dollars to pose anything like a threat to America’s globe spanning military machine. They quite literally do not have, now, or in the foreseeable future, the money it would take to challenge the US militarily. What they are doing is defending their backyards and trying to prevent the US from completely surrounding them with allies and military bases.

In other words we’re threatening them, not vice versa. And their response to this threat is perfectly natural … and not in any way, shape, or form a threat to the USA. Mattis goes downhill from there:

“In an apparent reference to Russia, he warned against “threaten[ing] America’s experiment in democracy”.

“If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he warned.”

Three terrible things wrong with this. First, there’s still no evidence Russia tried to tamper with our election, they had no reason to do and every reason not to. There wasn’t really anything to be gained by it. And Jesus Christ, even the idea they could do so is imbuing them with magical powers. How the hell is an impoverished country on the other side of the world going to seriously have a chance to alter our mind numbingly expensive electoral process?

Secondly, hard to imagine how he said this without smirking.  We no longer have anything resembling a democracy in the US, and he knows it. Every president since Reagan has done exactly what the pentagon, big business, and the bankers wanted. Our elections are a dog and pony show run to make people think their vote matters. It doesn’t. Russia can’t threaten something that doesn’t exist.

Thirdly, OMG, the United States is the biggest threat to democracy the world has ever seen. Washington routinely interferes in elections, sponsor coups, and generally does everything in their considerable power to insure that if some country has an election, the guy Washington wants in power gets elected. Not to mention now completely open, and illegal, regime change wars. To claim the US is dedicated to democracy would be farcical if our efforts hadn’t caused such harm.

It goes on in that vein. Trump Is planning on increasing military spending ten percent. That means more debt or more cuts elsewhere. So much for his promise to invest in infrastructure. Our 2017 infrastructure report card: D+ And of course we are going to slash science and health spending to pay for this. Spending that actually benefits Americans. Can’t have that.

One last quote from the article:

“We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models,” Mr Mattis said.

Sigh. What a load of scaremongering malarkey. China and Russia cast as villains from a James Bond movie. The only country trying to create a world consistent with their model is the US, and that model is exploitation of the world’s people and resources to make America’s corporations even richer. All China and Russia are trying to do is defend themselves against that.

The thing that is most frustrating about all of this? The American media both parrots it and fawns over if. Guess who owns the American media? And most Americans simply accept it as fact. Three plus decades of economic decline for poor and middle class Americans, but by God if the media, left or right, tells them pouring more money into the military is good for America, it must be true!

Yeah, yeah, I’m going to go take a Valium.

 

(Welcome new and old readers. I hope you enjoyed this post. As of January 2018 I have resumed regular blogging on my new Patreon version of Doug’s Darkworld. Science, history, current events, and posts about a certain president who can hardly go a day without inspiring a blog post.)

https://www.patreon.com/Unitedcats

Written by unitedcats

January 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized