Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

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

AMERICA, LONG ROAD TRIP, GOOD LUCK FLAGS, AND WINDMILL MADNESS

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Over the past few weeks I’ve spent nights in Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York. A lot of driving was involved. Fortunately I like to drive, and apart from one marathon Western Oregon to Iowa in two days marathon, it wasn’t bad at all. Nice weather for the drive too, except way too hot in some parts. A friend speculates that through wildfires, excessive heat, and drought that much of western America is going to become uninhabitable in the following decades as Global Warming continues to devastate the planet. I hope he’s wrong, but he might well be right. In any case, I will resume blogging now as I am safely ensconced in a house for the near future.

One highlight of the trip, the above flag. Spotted in a military museum in Idaho. I was somewhat dismayed to see it displayed. Why? Isn’t it a Japanese battle flag, war booty proudly and appropriately displayed in a museum? (Begging the question whether war booty is ever appropriate.) No, it’s not a battle flag. It’s a Good Luck Flag. These were flags carried by Japanese soldiers during World War Two. They would be presented to the soldier before deployment, and they were covered with written messages and prayers from family, friends, and loved ones. Almost every Japanese soldier carried one, it was a prized personal possession. Similar to how American soldiers might carry photographs of their families.

During the war the looting and collecting of these flags became popular among servicemen. Unlike swords or weapons, they could be easily carried and concealed, and a good number of them made their way back to the USA. That’s how I learned about Good Luck Flags. I read about a fellow whose dad was a veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign, one of the uglier battles in World War Two. His dad never wanted to talk about his experiences, but after his death his son found the flag and had it framed and hung in his home. He did in fact think it was a battle flag. Until a few years later when a Japanese reading guest asked about it. He asked the fellow if he knew what it was? Battle flag captured by my dad on Guadalcanal! Well, no, it was explained to him the nature of the flag.

Long story short, the vet’s son decided to do the right thing. The name of the soldier was on the flag, as were those of his wife and children. And upon contacting a Japanese consulate, he learned that his widow and children were still alive. So the vet’s son flew to Japan to return the flag to the dead Japanese soldier’s widow and family. And this is why I was a little perturbed to see one such flag on public display in a museum. It’s not really appropriate, this was personal property looted from the body of a dead Japanese soldier. And sadly the museum was aware of what it is from the label. I thought about what, if anything, I should do. And upon researching it, I discovered there is a group devoted to repatriating Good Luck Flags, the Obon Society. Their mission is to try and repatriate all personal items looted during the war in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. So I sent them the picture above, and they will do what they can, often working through state historical societies.

Another highlight of my trip was the billboard above spotted in Wyoming. I rolled my eyes so hard I might have permanently damaged them. I mean, give me a break. The idea that a few windmills “forever ruins” countryside is bizarre to say the least, especially when one considers that the anti-green energy movement is funded by the fossil fuel industry, an industry whose pollution, health costs, and ecological damage are mind numbing in comparison to wind power. This is America though, where “Right is wrong and wrong is right.”

And of course Trump signs and billboards are everywhere in rural America. I never experienced a personality cult before, at least a national one on this scale. To tens of millions of Americans Trump is their saviour, a saviour whose reelection was stolen from him by some sort of socialisist sino satanic plot. Food for future blogs. I’ll blog about Afghanistan soon, a Civil War battlefield I visited, the rise of unreason, and other fun stuff. And of course the plot I recently uncovered to control us all through chemically induced mind control. Contemporary America is still a blogger’s paradise.

Hope all had a good weekend, have a safe and cool week everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image top: Japanese Good Luck flag in an Idaho museum. Credit: Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image bottom: Found on the internet, attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 9, 2021 at 8:11 am

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

THIS IS AMERICA

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July 4th 2021. America celebrates its Independence Day. 245 years ago today a group of wealthy white male property (and slave) owning Americans declared independence from Great Britain. Yes discerning gentle reader, if one wants to read a fawning celebration of an imaginary America, this isn’t the place. There were some great things about America and its founding: the idea of Constitutional government, indivisible human rights, and representative democracy. Sadly these are more honoured in the breach than in the observance. So today a few somber reflections. First a poem:

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

That’s the first three stanzas, the entire poem can be read here: Let America Be America Again.

The poem reminded me of this: Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video). What can I say, there are great things to celebrate about America. There are however terrible things, ongoing things, things that are horrific compared to the rest of the world. Pretending otherwise isn’t patriotic by my way of thinking. Pretending that in some mythical past things were better is even less patriotic.

Lastly, I was hoping Trump would come through with some July 4th pronouncement I could use to end this post. Alas, no. However, Trump junior came through! He posted the image above. At the very best, this is weird as fook. On so many levels one could write a book about it. If immortality is discovered and available to me, maybe I will.

Until then, happy Fourth. Patriotic BS aside, at least people and families came together on this holiday. I did my best, weirdest Fourth ever, but at least I honored it with this post. (Criticizing America is honoring it, claiming that dissent doesn’t honor it … is literally the ultimate way of dishonoring America.)

Speaking of ultimate: The Ultimate Showdown [4K Remaster]. Safe and happy Fourth everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Posted by Trump Jr, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2021 at 7:21 pm

Posted in History, Politics, Trump

LIFE HACK: BE EXTREMELY RICH AND HAVE AN ARMY OF LAWYERS. PLUS OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY.

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Well, no surprise here, it’s what the blog title references: Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned By State Supreme Court. It was the correct legal decision, can’t fault the court. Just another example of how the legal system protects those with money and power. The evidence that Cosby is a sick fork who drugged and raped women is overwhelming, plus plenty of other testimony that he is a creepy control freak in general, for example: Reporter Who Interviewed Cosby in ’92: He Was ‘Intimidating and Menacing’ He’s the darling of racists though: The Pound Cake speech.

It’s been a strange few days. Here’s a good one: The ‘Biblical view’ that’s younger than the happy meal. Basically the idea that the Bible prohibits abortion and says life begins at conception dates from about 1980. Before then evangelicals felt the same as everyone else, it’s not a person until it’s born. And now that’s completely changed, largely driven by politics. People love to think they are making up their own minds about things, when in fact most of them are easily manipulated into believing all sorts of things. A problem that’s getting worse as the sciences of advertising and propaganda learn new ways to manipulate people constantly.

OK, a nice nature story. (Snort.) The ‘ecological hate speech’ developed around wildfire. Basically the logging industry and their subsidiary, the US Forest Service, have totally controlled the narrative about forest management. And lo and behold they’ve created a widely believed narrative which justifies maximum logging at terrible environmental cost. Greed is the most powerful force in the Universe. Read the article for the details, but it’s hella depressing. Especially how Trump fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Speaking of politics: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens to strip members of committee assignments if they join the Jan. 6 investigation, reports say. We can thank the Dems for weaponizing this, I predicted such after the Dems voted to deny MTG her committee appointments. Congress was already an ineffective partisan farce, now it’s sunk deeper into irrelevancy. Though to give them their props, sometimes they get things right: House Votes to Remove ‘Grotesque’ Confederate Statues from Display in U.S. Capitol. The Confederacy was the greatest crime in American history, their revolt cost a million freaking lives. And they revolted because they wanted to keep human beings as property because of the color of their skin! No sheet the leaders of this treason shouldn’t be on display in the U.S. Capitol.

And the National Guard is apparently now guns-for-hire, a junk-car billionaire is paying for the deployment of 50 National Guardsmen on the southern border: Willis Johnson, Junk-Car Billionaire, Bankrolls Kristi Noem’s Border Deployment. This might technically be legal, but it certainly shouldn’t be. I think it’s safe to say that the astute reader could see how having the military undertake missions at the behest of billionaires could lead to major problems. Usually slippery slope arguments are bogus, but in this case, no, I don’t want Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos deciding where the US military gets deployed. I don’t think anyone does.

Sigh. A few missed holidays. June 30th was Asteroid Day. A UN sponsored day to spread awareness of asteroids and the risks they pose. June 30th was chosen because the Tunguska Event occurred on June 30th, 1908. This was a ten to thirty megaton explosion in the sky over a remote part of Siberia. That’s like a really big nuclear explosion, vastly larger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately it was over such a remote area that maybe only three people were killed. And it was so remote that it wasn’t scientifically investigated for decades. And even when it was investigated, well, there had been a huge explosion, but no impact crater! What the hell?

It was quite the mystery. And in fact (no surprise here) lay speculation included aliens and other such nonsense. We now know that a rocky asteroid (or possibly a comet) about 100 yards in diameter heated up and exploded in the atmosphere before hitting the ground. Similar to the smaller Chelyabinsk meteor explosion in 2013. Here’s a good article about it: 1908 SIBERIA EXPLOSION: Reconstructing an Asteroid Impact from Eyewitness Accounts.

And other Holidays. July 1st was Canada Day, the Canadian parallel to America’s Independence Day. Celebrations were a bit muted because a third mass grave near a residential school was found: Nearly 200 unmarked graves found near Canada residential school. Hard to celebrate a nation that forcibly put children in essentially concentration camps for purely racist reasons. And the Brits are upset that some statues of British monarchs who were on board with this were toppled. Fork them.

Well, I hope all are doing well these strange and terrible days. Canada is burning. The ocean caught fire. Strange new forms of Covid are arising. The Pentagon says angels and demons “can’t be ruled out.” OK then. Stay safe, gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: View from Kirensk, two seconds before the explosion. (400km, 250 miles away.) Painting © William K. Hartmann. Used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 3, 2021 at 8:13 pm

HEAR THAT POPPING SOUND IN THE DISTANCE? THAT’S EVANGELICAL’S HEADS EXPLODING …

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Because: Nevada pageant winner to become 1st transgender Miss USA contestant Saw this posted on Facebook, the outrage in some comments was, sadly, predictable. Something that quite literally has zero effect on them or society is somehow personally enraging to them. The nation and world has all sorts of terrible ongoing problems that are most definitely impacting everyone’s lives in negative ways … but they are outraged because a Miss USA contestant was born with male genitals. Go figure.

Might have linked this before, but it’s worth another look: Why Biden’s American election meddling comments in Geneva were such a bad look Basically Biden lectured Putin on election interference, claiming it made Russia look bad. Apparently Biden was utterly oblivious to the fact that it’s the USA that is the world’s number one meddler in foreign elections. Pot calls kettle black in other words.

A good article about France hopefully coming to grips with sexual abuse and pedophilia: Omerta in France. France has a long proud history of romance and seduction, but a lot of it is actually pretty nasty.

Another one from the trending “I’m going to change the facts to fit my narrative” file: Horses in Pre-Columbian America. Horses became extinct in North America something like ten thousand years ago, and didn’t return until the European conquest began after 1492. However, three modern groups are disputing that. One is some native groups, basically based on oral traditions, and the fact that they aren’t comfortable with the idea that the horse, which was such a central part of plains indian culture, originated with the European invaders. Hey, I can understand that. Second, by wild horse aficionados who want wild horses to get protected status, which is only granted to native species, not invasive species. Their hearts are in a good place. Lastly, the LDS Church. Because … the Book of Mormon written in the 19th century clearly claims there were horses in the New World in Biblical times. And of course since they claim it was written by God or such, it must be true. Right.

They’re all wrong of course. Well, wrong so far as current science understands it. Scientists do make mistakes though, that’s why scientific research is ongoing: It’s OK to be Wrong | NeuroLogica Blog. There was some thinking in the mid 19th century that science was on the verge of discovering everything there was to know and soon humans would have God’s creation all figured out. Ah, the folly of youth. Interestingly enough science is now able to find DNA in soil layers and determine what animals were around when the soil was deposited: All the major players spent time in the Denisovan cave. This is actually going to revolutionize archeology and paleontology. Not to mention putting the final nail in the coffin of such imaginary animals as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of imaginary creatures, the much awaited Pentagon report of UFOs came out. Oh, wait, they’re UAPs now because UFOs have such a bad name. Of course the report contained absolutely nothing new, because UFOs are one big nothingburger. Great for scaring up defense dollars though: UFO Report Provides No New Information But Plenty Of Fodder For Cold Warrior Policymakers. I know some will say, but reliable people have seen them! Um, when someone sees something in the sky the human eye cannot determine how big it is, how far away it is, or how fast it is moving. Then there’s the fact that UFOs have only been reported in modern times in regions with a history of UFO sightings, no one has ever hit one, none have ever crashed, and no one has gotten a good picture of one.

When I was younger people would say, no one ever got a picture of a car crash either! Well, decades later, we have lots of car crash pictures, still no UFO, Bigfoot, or Nessie pics. And of course SETI has come up with absolutely nada, and they’ve tried a lot of promising approaches. If alien intelligent life is ever discovered, I will of course be thrilled, but right now the overwhelming evidence is that UFOs are mythological, sociological, and psychological constructs like ghosts and angels.

Getting more random here: ‘Dragon man’ claimed as new species of ancient human but doubts remain. Long story short, during WW2 Chinese laborers found a weird skull, didn’t want the Japanese occupiers to know about it, and it was hidden until just recently. And lo and behold it’s one of the most unusual ancient skulls ever found and some are claiming it’s a new human lineage like Denosovians or Neanderthals. Yeah, one skull, no context, no DNA. Let’s not get carried away, maybe it was a Denosovian Andre the Giant. Neat find, and our understanding of just how complicated the human lineage is grows all the time, but we are not going to be rewriting textbooks on the basis of one skull.

Well, a few more links, but tomorrow! Or whenever. Interesting time in my life indeed. So the pics above! Both were taken in the 1930s. The one on the left is a group of Soviet Young Pioneers. Kinda Stalin’s equivalent of Hitler Youth. On the right, a Mickey Mouse Club meeting. The similarities and differences are telling. Even by the thirties American youth were living in a fantasy world.

So final nice story and segue. During Kristallnacht, a Jewish family was in their home as a mob came up the street burning and looting Jewish homes. Just before it got there, their 17 year old neighbor ran into their house wearing his Hitler Youth uniform. When the mob arrived he yelled out of an upstairs window that the home had been sold to a good German family, and the Jews were gone. Saving their home and valuables, and ultimately saving their lives as it left them with the resources to flee Germany before the war.

Stay cool and safe everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Described in text, both are Public Domain images to the best of my knowledge.)

Written by unitedcats

June 29, 2021 at 7:48 pm

CANADIAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR CHILDREN, CRITICAL RACE THEORY, WW2 TRUTHERS, HISTORY, AND OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK

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Fun headline recently: Canada: 751 unmarked graves found at residential school. This is the second such mass grave found in recent months, 215 graves were found earlier. Residential schools were government funded church run schools where native children were forcibly relocated in order to convert them into good little English speaking Canadians. The schools were expressly for the purpose of wiping out native culture and “assimilating” natives. The schools were by all accounts horrible places, with children dying regularly of disease and abuse, and then buried in unmarked graves. Apologists like to claim they are ‘unmarked graves’ not ‘mass graves.’ Whether you kill people all at once and shove them into a pit, or kill them periodically and shove them into individual pits makes no difference, it’s still a mass grave.

Horrors of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries? Nope, the last residential school closed in 1996. Growing up in Canada I was exposed to a lot of racist attitudes towards natives, but I never imagined things like this existed. Now at least it’s coming out, but my image of Canada as some sort of positive force in the world is now finally and completely shattered. And the Canadian government’s more or less tepid response confirms it. This should be investigated and prosecuted with all the vigor of any gross human rights crime, but it won’t be. Baby steps I guess, it is good that things like this and the Tulsa race massacre are getting dragged out of the shadows, but we’ve got a long way to go.

In the US this is particularly the case, with the GOP and religious right fervently opposing even discussion of these sorts of crimes or the removal of monuments to criminals. That’s what the whole hysteria over Critical Race Theory is all about, preventing even discussion and education about the role that race played and plays in American. The evangelical right does this by pretending that CRT is about teaching white people that they are bad or guilty because of the color of their skin. And by pretending that removing statues of Civil War traitors is somehow erasing history. No, it’s about unwhitewashing history so people can understand and move on together. I mean, the paranoia in some quarters is frightening. Nick Fuentes: Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday Is ‘About Furthering The Genocide Of White People’

It’s why I write, but I feel more pessimistic all the time both globally and nationally. Nationally it’s a mess. Biden is like Bush 41 was to Reagan, he’s an uninspiring copy of Obama. He’s basically undone a few of Trump’s more egregious nonsense, but otherwise it’s already clear he’s not going to rock the boat. And yet Biden is being portrayed as some sort of secret commie who is destroying America. Some of this stuff is just crazy: OAN Host Calls for Execution of Anyone Who Stole the Election and Tucker Carlson: Critical race theory will lead to the genocide of white Americans. These aren’t fringe people either.

So I guess I will try to get past my dismay and writer’s block by commenting on the news. George Floyd’s murderer got sentenced to 22 years. I’ve heard progressives claim he got off too lightly, conservatives outraged it was so much. I’m just glad there was a trial, there should be a trial pretty much every time a cop kills someone. My way of thinking has always been, would it be OK if the killer was a civilian? And all too often the answer is “Sheet no.” Qualified immunity needs to end, cops should be trained to not kill people. Bidens is adding more cops so, problem fixed? Snort.

A terrible building collapse in Miami. There’s actually footage of it going down, which I won’t link to  because it’s too horrible. It’s clear from the video, they did not all die quickly in their sleep. How did this happen? Safe to say the Swiss cheese model will unravel it all. A chain of events happened, and they all lined up like symbols on a slot machine. God rest their souls, and my heart goes out to friends and family, I can’t imagine. Hopefully after investigation we will learn something from this tragedy that will save lives down the road.

Like the Victoria Hall Disaster in 1883. 1500 kids were in a theatre to watch a magic show, and after the show hundreds of kids in the balconies tried to rush down to the bottom floor where candy was being tossed to the children (very few adults were present.) The stair down was blocked by a door bolted almost closed with an opening only big enough for one child. Likely to facilitate ticket collection. Long story short, there was a crush in the stairwell, and nearly 200 children died. A nightmare remembered to this day. On the plus side, a child in the town became so determined to prevent it from ever happening again, he eventually invented the first “push bar” door openers. The handles we have in almost every public building in the world, especially on exit doors, just push on the bar from inside and the door opens. This invention has saved thousands and thousands of lives.

Maybe there’s some really smart kid somewhere now so horrified by the state of the world that they are determined to fix it. And they will come up with a solution, a global push bar of sorts. A man can dream. Hope all are having a good weekend. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Photographic proof that World War Two was faked! Hell, if you’re gonna deny the holocaust, why not go whole hog? Actually, no, modern reenactment of the Battle of Osuchy, one of the largest battles between Polish partisans and Nazi troops during WW2. Will there be Trump rally reenactors someday? Credit: Adam Niedźwiecki, used legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Written by unitedcats

June 26, 2021 at 6:33 pm

WHAT DO AIS AND DATING SITE SCAMS HAVE IN COMMON? PLUS JUNE 22ND

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So I’ve been checking out some dating sites lately. They’ve come a long way since I last looked. And I’ve been there the whole time, I did computer dating in the late 1970s. And that was one computer nerd who wrote a program and advertised it locally, in Davis, USA. Worked for me, it hooked up my housemate to a girl I dated for years, was friends with for decades. Now, it’s much more sophisticated. And the scammers are as well. Well, scammers and sex workers. Neither of which I have a problem with. Hey, poor people in the second and third world want to scam gullible Americans out of their money, go for it. And sex workers can’t advertise openly and safely because this is Kristian Amerika, so they have to do so subtly on dating and rental sites. I digress.

So seeing as I have no interest in sending money to scammers or seeking the services of sex workers, I need to figure out how to filter out same. The sex workers are pretty easy, if their pics involve T&A shots with a sparse profile looking for hookups: sex worker. The scammers, boy, they have gotten a lot more sophisticated. The best ones have very real looking profiles. And when messaged, the responses can be well written as well. They tend to have a cut and paste look though, IE neat message, but only superficially at best a response to my prior message. And when I suspect a scammer, I ask a very specific question. Or better yet, say something completely nonsensical. Jeez, sent a nonsense response to one, got an obvious cut and paste message to the effect of “Wow, thanks for sharing that information with me.” Busted.

So, I realized I am essentially running a variant of the Turing Test on possible scammers. The Turing Test is basically the idea of interfacing with a subject via text exchange and determining if it is a human or a computer. Brilliant concept really, because it doesn’t concern itself with whether a computer can become conscious and self aware, it limits the question to, can a software program fake human responses enough to fool humans?

And we’re real close folks. We are close to the point where it’s going to be hard to tell if we are interacting with a person or software. Phone a business, will one be talking to software or a person? And think about this. How many professions are essentially ‘talking to people?’ The ones that can run remotely, a Zoom image or whatever works as well. The image of a person on a video feed is just pixels on a screen, all manipulable by software. AIs are going to put a lot of people out of work, every telemarketer on the planet for starters.

As for pixels on a screen, that’s what movies and TV series are, right? So why couldn’t an AI create movies? It’s just a more sophisticated chess calculator. Or series. There have to be an infinite number of possible ‘Simpsons’ episodes, right? So why couldn’t software write new ones? Think of it, every TV show or movie the gentle reader ever liked available with countless computer generated sequels/episodes. Young Sean Connery could star in thousands of James Bond films. Peeps will be able to buy software that will create movies or series to order.

Will this happen soon? IDK, technology was running ahead of application during the US Civil War, the gap has increased since then. Is there as yet some human component to creativity that AIs won’t be able to surpass? Maybe. One thing we can say for sure about the future, no one has ever accurately predicted it.

The past though, we can see how predictions went wrong. June 22nd 1941, eighty years ago today, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the greatest invasion in history. Tens of millions would die as a result. Exactly three years later, June 22nd 1944, the Soviet Union launched Operation Bagration. AKA “The Destruction of Army Group Center.” Germany’s Army Group Center. The greatest defeat ever suffered by Germany, and the fifth bloodiest campaign in European history. No one predicted that, most thought that Germany would easily conquer Western Russia, and who knows what would happen then. A crushing German defeat with Soviet Armies steamrolling to Berlin three years later, couldn’t happen.

Could an AI have written that plot? Maybe. Did an AI write that plot? Could we be living in a 23rd century computer game program on some kid’s Qpad? Am I a software routine writing a blog that will only be read by other aps? And do we evolve as a result? Hell if I know, but I’m going to explore the idea more.

So, yes. My blogging has been limited because of … personal … issues. I think I’m going to write about speculative weirdness to see if I can break through my writer’s block. Stay safe and sanish everyone. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Two destroyed German tanks during Operation Bagration, including dead German crew members. There are still people alive who remember the horrors of Germany’s invasion of Russia. I can’t imagine what they lived through. Credit: Unknown, public domain image under all known copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm

TEN WAYS WE’RE EFFED

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I’ve had a hard time blogging recently. Writer’s block. Stress in my personal life is one reason. Not helping. That’s just the background noise though. No, the real reason is more general. I’m extremely pessimistic about the state of the world, and the state of the USA in particular. In many senses I’ve always been a doomsday prophet, but the 21st century has moved into a whole new universe compared to my worrying about nuclear war in my younger days. So how do I write about this? Ten reasons I’m pessimistic about now. Who knows, hopefully this will be cathartic:

  1. The rich keep getting richer and more powerful. The upward transfer of wealth in America and the world accelerated under Covid. In other words, price gouging is at the heart of the global economic system. What are people going to do when the last dollar in America is in some rich person’s or corporation’s offshore account?
  2. The Cold War continues. The Cold War was stupid proganda to justify endless American war making and war spending from the beginning. The new Cold War is even crazier. China isn’t trying to take over the world, Russia isn’t trying to destroy the west.
  3. The War on Terror was a colossal fail. By every metric the War on Terror has massively increased global terrorism. War is the least effective way to fight terrorism. And yet here we are, bombs away, with nary a hint of protest.
  4. We forgot the lessons of Vietnam. This is a codicil to number 3:  Opinion | The Pentagon Papers’ Lessons Went Unlearned – The New York …
  5. Science denial is rampant. This is bizarre. When I was a kid and young person most people understood that science and reason were the shiznit. Now actual supposed adults in positions of power embrace voodoo nonsense … and they get more popular. Go figure.
  6. The Christian right wants to seize power. A third of the country wants America to be forced to live under their Old Testament take on reality.
  7. The GOP’s massive ongoing voter suppression, protest suppression, history suppression, and rights suppression campaign (abortion and LGTB rights.) The actual cancel culture.
  8. No independent media. When I was young the mainstream media was independent, even if they did try to influence politics. Not anymore.
  9. Climate change. It’s real, humans are causing it, efforts to mitigate it are still “too little, too late.” Fossil fuels are the most profitable extractive industry ever, but the costs are wrecking our world.
  10. AI, homemade doomsday devices, etc. In my lifetime (knock on wood) there are any number of potential technological advances that could lead to doomsday. It’s my answer to the Fermi Paradox, our form of life is ultimately self destructive, an evolutionary dead end.

And I’m sure I missed a few. The continued glorification of the Confederacy and white washing of American history. UFOs. Nearly half of Americans believe dinosaurs still exist. Yeah, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we are about to slide into some Golden Age. Snort. Biden will be the Pertinax of our time more likely. (Pertinax was a sane senator who became Caesar after the death of a crazy Caesar. His reign only lasted three months before the corrupt praetorian guard murdered him.)

On the plus side, a lady I like called me “Sweetie” today. Objectively there is no future relationship, but it made this lonely old guy feel good. Have a great week everyone.  #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found somewhere, possibly Public Domain, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2021 at 7:23 pm