Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

MONDAY MADNESS

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I think I set a record for writing abortive blog posts this weekend. Nothing like getting inspired, writing a few paragraphs, then realizing that not only wasn’t there much to say on the topic, what I had to say wasn’t very interesting. Kafka’s unpublished work was saved for posterity despite his deathbed wishes, and the world is better for it. My unpublished work, the world will  be better off without it. Maybe it’s the heat that sapped me of inspiration, if we get oppressive heat in Iowa, July is the month for it. Today’s forecast: 99 degrees in the shade, real feel 145 degrees. OK, I exaggerate, but not much. Even the squirrels look overheated. How everyone survived yesterday’s big bicycle race through town amazes me.

Speaking of surviving, I just gave in and turned on my AC. Yes, I live in a tiny attic garret, as befits a struggling writer. At least it has AC, otherwise I wouldn’t make it through the summer. I even set up a coffee maker. So basically I can stay up here 24/7, only periodically emerging to forage for food. And it has a nice view of the lake. And of the road out front that was closed for the race. I tried to blind a few riders with a laser pointer, but they were riding too fast. One has to search for entertainment wherever it can be found in rural Iowa.

July 15 in history wasn’t all that interesting either, so no blog help there. I know there’s a new Trump distraction, but I am so done with Trump. Someday he will be gone, they will count the silverware in the White House, generating one last Trump scandal, and he’ll fade into history. Not sure what he’ll do for an encore, but no doubt the media will keep us all informed. (Though that’s a sad use of the word ‘informed.’) Moving right along, my blog fallback plan, dig out some of the interesting links I’ve come across lately and share those. Enjoy!

First, a fascinating article on “dirtbag leftists.” It starts off with:

“The left is in crisis across the West. It is out of power in most countries and out of touch with its historical working-class base. Class politics has given way to identity politics. And noble causes like anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-discrimination have congealed into a stifling morass of political correctness and competitive victimhood.”

Pretty much. Many on the left have retreated into a smarmy know-it-allism that alienates most working class people. “Flyover state” is a pejorative folks. In any event, for those interested in why the Dems keep losing elections, the article is an interesting read.  I also try to keep an eye on the right, and it’s even more dismaying. Pure hatred for anyone not in agreement with them. I’d post some memes from GOP sites, but they’re too depressing.

Then there was this article in the Atlantic. Turns out that concentrating entirely on teaching kids how to read and do math, while pretty much ignoring imparting knowledge to them, has worked out terribly. Gee, who would have thought that failing to impart knowledge to children might not be the best way to educate them? I’ve certainly been one to criticise the “teach the test” route that American schools have gone down the past few decades. God, schools in America must be dreadfully boring places now.

In our third thought provoking link, here’s an article about why the low unemployment numbers trumpeted as such good news aren’t very impressive at all. Turns out there’s been a huge increase in part time workers. Basically huge numbers of “employed” people are scraping by on part time jobs, because they can’t find full time jobs. And then there’s the fact that wages and benefits have been stagnant or worse for a big chunk of the workforce for decades. And no, it’s not because lazy stupid people made bad choices, it’s because the jobs aren’t there. When I was a kid, hard working people could get decent jobs and improve their lot in life. Rising tides did raise all ships. Stopped being true decades ago.

And in this weeks “Unintended consequences” file, healing crystals fund terrorism. On the one hand, that’s depressing. Yeah, the idea that crystals have magic healing powers is, shall we say, unsupported by science. And many will use this information to heap disdain on crystal aficionados. Me, meh, everyone believes in some silly stuff. And pretty sure this is a miniscule part of how fighters in Africa (and presumably elsewhere) fund their operations. More on point, pretty safe to say that all of us use products we don’t strictly need, that have dark roots. Almost impossible to avoid in our massively interwoven world.

Or as an old acquaintance said: “We’re all whores in Babylon.” Have a safe week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Hylas and the Nymphs.  Credit: John William Waterhouse, oil painting, 1896.)

Written by unitedcats

July 15, 2019 at 4:11 am

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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66447493_10157413177964722_6022236441885540352_nAnother week gone, give or take. I guess technically Sunday is the first day of the week Saturday the last. So the week starts with a day of rest? That makes no sense, another one of those things that shorts out the human to alien translators. Still, maybe it’s good that our freaking race is nuts, protects us the way walking in the road talking to yourself is a good way to get through a bad neighborhood. “We’re not going to invade Earth, those creatures are nuts.” Fermi Paradox solved, isn’t logic grand?

It would be if more people used it. Came across an interesting article: Did Black People Own Slaves? The answer is pretty obvious, of course they did. Slavery was practised in the Americas from the beginning, and there have been free blacks since the beginning. In the Confederacy though, the focus of the article, the number of black slave owners was miniscule. And at least a good proportion of them owned a slave or two to protect a relative or friend. It wasn’t unusual for blacks to buy women slaves to marry them. I thought that was interesting because that was a common way for female slaves to achieve their freedom in Roman times.

Alas, because humans are humans, some blacks owned slaves for purely selfish reasons. It’s always easy to find humans exploiting other fellow humans. Especially if it’s legal and encouraged and everyone else is doing it. Like Japan before WW2, they saw European countries benefiting from colonizing and exploiting nations, why shouldn’t Japan have a colonial empire of their own? It was a valid point, then and now generally ignored or quietly mumbled away by western apologists. Yes, what Japan did in China was horrible. Of course what the Dutch, French and others were doing in East Asia was equally horrible, but that tends to get overlooked.

Yes, I’m on a roll here. People are messed up. And it shouldn’t have to be said, but it does after reading comments left on the article where posted on Facebook, a few blacks owning blacks is not in any way, shape, or form a defense of slavery. Granted apologists for slavery have done so, but that doesn’t make discussion of the topic in and of itself a defense of slavery.  In fact the whole idea that blacks owning blacks somehow justifies slavery is both racist and logically fallacious. Just cause Timmy jumped in the lake doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Or the falls I suppose.

No, they don’t hate us for our freedoms. I mean, if they did, wouldn’t they be hating us a lot less now? I am referring to Muslims, terrorism, and US foreign policy. They hate us because of our endless wars in the Middle East. This article is a nice review of the sad situation, to semi-quote the article, an America where since 9/11 Muslims have been so demonized and the military so fetishised that endless war in the Middle East is now completely normalized. Bears reviewing once and awhile to keep one’s head clear. I wonder what young people think of it all, growing up in the post 9/11 world. OK, that was kind of rhetorical, since I actually know some young people and what they think.

In Trump news, brace yourself, Trump remains not giving a damn about UFOs. That’s the title of the article. Best for one’s sanity not to read it though. Basically the UFO populists thought Trump would be the one to reveal all, instead he’s been rather dismissive of the subject. He didn’t even joke about UFOs like his predecessors, though the article helpfully points out that Trump’s humor is never intentional. Basically the UFO people think some relatively recent release of military “UFO” films is some sort of slam dunk proof of their existence. Um no, it isn’t. If anyone really wants to know why, I’ll blog on it, but I’m kind of reaching my limit explaining why nonsense is nonsense. At least when it comes to things like UFOs. So, I guess it’s a good thing that Trump doesn’t believe in little green men.

The American people are done with denials though, thousands of them are planning on storming Area 51 to get to the truth about aliens. OK then. Basically America jumped the shark a generation or two ago, and it’s just going to get crazier from here on. I’ll blog about it as long as I’m able. This blog is written both for contemporaries and future people.

And speaking of getting crazier and being able to blog, soon ads will be appearing. Or reappearing. But, one sec. Anyone catch that? A double segue? Not sure I’ve ever done that before. Or a 2 into 1 segue? Has anyone ever classified segues? Some institutionalized grammarist? Is my obsession with segues healthy? <takes breath> OK, yes, in an effort to earn some little monies to support my writing, I will be running some ads soon. Discrete, inoffensive, not-causing-problems, ads. I find intrusive ads very annoying when I cruise the interwebs, so want to spare my gentle readers that.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook for Star Trek fans.  Credit: Unknown. Used without permission. Happy to properly attribute if information so provided.)

Written by unitedcats

July 12, 2019 at 3:54 am

Posted in History, Terrorism, Trump, UFO

THE BATTLE OF WOODY POINT

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I came across a horrific story while looking up what happened on June 16 in history. June 16 1811, Vancouver Island in what is now Canada. A US trading ship, the Tonquin, was deliberately blown up, killing scores of Tla-o-qui-aht natives and one US crewman. How the hell did this happen? Well, not a happy story, but one that is interesting from a number of perspectives. Sources though, only one, Wikipedia. Every link I could find was just a clone of the information in Wikipedia. Still, there was one western survivor, so we have contemporary written source material. The basic facts seem pretty straightforward.

OK, the Tonquin, a fur trading ship. A bark to be precise. What’s a bark, or barque, or barc? Children of the early 19th century could answer easily, me, not so much. Let’s just say a small sailing ship with three or more masts. The Tonquin was a smaller example of same, with 11 cannons and a crew of 23 at the time of the unpleasantness. It was tasked with setting up trading posts on the west coast of America, buying furs, then sailing to China and selling them for a tidy profit. It founded Fort Astoria on the mouth of the Columbia River, the first American settlement on the West Coast. Then the ship sailed on to Vancouver Island and its date with destiny.

Ship arrives off Vancouver Island. Tla-o-qui-aht natives come aboard to trade. The captain of the Tonquin, one Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn, doesn’t like the price of an otter pelt. He either waves it around in anger, or throws it at a native elder. Who is insulted. That night a native women warns the captain that an attack is planned. He dismisses her concerns. The next morning, 15 June 1811, a lot of native fighters are on the beach. Captain Thorn is unconcerned, the Tla-o-qui-aht are peaceful, right? Two canoes of 20 Tla-o-qui-aht each ask to come aboard and sell otter pelts. Against standing orders about allowing so many natives aboard, Thorn lets them board. The astute reader can guess where this is going.

At first Thorn is thrilled, the natives are selling pelts at great prices. Finally Thorn realizes it’s too good to be true, and orders the ship to set sail. Too late, the elder gives the signal, and the 40 warriors pull out concealed clubs and knives. (By some accounts they used knives they had just received in trade for pelts.) Thorn and most of the crew are unarmed, and are quickly slain. Five guys below decks get to the ship’s guns and are able to hold out, but one is badly wounded. The natives leave for the night. The five guys confer, they realize they are too few to sail the ship. Four of them take the ship’s skiff and head for Fort Astoria. The wounded guy, well, God only knows what was going through his mind.

The next morning hundreds of Tla-o-qui-aht show up to claim the ship. The wounded fellow, possibly the ship’s armourer named Weeks, surrenders. As natives are swarming the ship, he set off the ship’s powder store. The ensuing explosion destroys the ship and kills 60 to 200+ natives. The four guys who escaped, their skiff was blown ashore and they were captured by the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe. Another Vancouver island tribe, on good terms with the Tla-o-qui-aht tribe. It ended badly for them, out of the frying pan into the fire. Patrick Swayze would have been perfect as the leader of the four.

I digress, though this would make a great movie if well done. Attn: Kevin Kostner. So, that’s the basics of what transpired. Wait, how do we know this? Well, the Tonquin had taken on a half native guide and interpreter,  Joseachal. And when the massacre began, he had the presence of mind to implore a native woman to take him as a slave. She agreed, and some years later French Canadian explorer Gabriel Franchère bought his freedom.

OK, lessons I see in this story. First pass, yeah, 200 plus people killed over a disputed otter pelt. Prequel to John Wick. Sadly human mass deaths over stupid stuff are all too common, another reason the aliens don’t want to buy our otter pelts. Second and self evident lesson, anyone can commit an atrocity. Yes, the European conquest of the Americas was a terrible genocide, but native Americans sometimes did bad things too. We’re all human, and all subject to fail states.

The decisions of Captain Thorn are certainly in retrospect suspect. Sounds like he had a low opinion on native Americans all around. He overestimated his own position, and underestimated the natives. It’s hard not to conclude that racism and a sense of superiority clouded his judgement. The insulted elder’s decisions are also questionable. I mean really, you’re gonna have a few dozen people killed over a public insult? Wasn’t there another way to resolve the issue without resorting to mass murder?

Which leads us to what to me is a most curious perspective. At least some natives were like, really, isn’t this a bit extreme? I’m assuming that from what we know at least. A native woman warned Captain Thorn. And another woman was actually at the massacre in order to take the one prisoner. Impressive on both counts. Though I am curious what native oral history says about this event. I’m guessing the elder was a hothead and he had enough young male hotheads to do the deed. I’ve read about enough massacres to know that it’s not unusual for one hothead to set them off.

All told a typically human event. The fact that huge numbers of natives descended on the ship to loot it reminds me of the terrible third world disasters where crowds of people gathering gasoline from a punctured pipeline or truck are incinerated when someone accidentally creates a spark. Most people have no problem looting when the opportunity presents itself. Sad all around, all the dead had family and friends who mourned (mourn?) their loss no doubt. God rest their souls.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Tonquin under attack. Credit: Edmund Fanning – Voyages to the South Seas, Indian and Pacific Oceans, China Sea, North-West Coast, 1837. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 10, 2019 at 4:03 am

RUSSIAGATE, THE FINAL CHAPTER

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My long promised last Russiagate post. I tried to cover all the important points, and marshall my arguments logicly. Even so, there are things I didn’t have space to include, so I chose carefully. As my mentor Sally used to say “If you can’t explain something on a single page, you don’t understand it.” If anyone disagrees, persuade me otherwise. In any case, enjoy the ride.

So, I posted this link on the Doug’s Darkworld Facebook group, and commented on it. In this case probably best to read the article at the link before carrying on. This was my comment:

“Sanders has consistently pushed Russiagate? I find that deeply disappointing.”

And it opened a can of worms. In essence a number of people claimed I was taking Russiagate way too lightly, and that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a fact. Several points were raised, and hopefully I will cover them. In considered order:

First, how I feel about Russiagate and whether or not Russia tried to meddle in the election isn’t the point of the article. The point of the article above is that the reaction to alleged Russian meddling has been over the top, and used to seriously limit freedom of the press in the US. This is far more a danger to an open democracy than putative foreign meddling, I mean really, we’re going to limit our press to preserve our freedoms? Wait, what? I might also mention that since the US government  is the greatest meddler in foreign elections the world has ever known, outrage about Russian teenage trolls is a bit misplaced.

That aside, yeah, I still think what I thought a year or so ago. Meuller’s first round of indictments showed us that Russiagate was Nothingate. An oligarch paying a handful of teenage trolls to post a microscopic number of crude memes on Facebook affected the outcome of the election? Boy, billions of dollars in US election spending has been wasted if that’s all it takes. The second round of indictments showed it was political, timed as they were just before Trump’s Putin summit. A bunch of more or less random Russians indicted on “secret” evidence, Mueller knowing full well none of them are ever going to show up in court to testify. This was all Mueller came up with in a year?

Now granted I didn’t read the Mueller Report, because I knew if it contained any smoking gun evidence, it would be broadcast 24/7 on every available media outlet. I didn’t hear  of any. He had two years to write a report that sounds very convincing to people who already believe in Russian interference, without presenting any actual evidence. Other people read it though, and there’s a lot of problems with what is in the report, which this article dissects in detail. And Mueller Report aside, there are simply logical problems with the whole ‘Russia interfered’ premise. I will expound:

First, if Clinton had run a fabulous campaign, pulled the Democrats together, gotten out the vote, had crossover appeal, and was set to win the election by a huge margin … and Trump unexpectedly won by some margin that was clearly traced to Russian tampering, yes, we’d have a big problem. That’s not what happened. The Clinton campaign was uninspired and made major gaffes. She failed to inspire Democrats to get out and vote in droves. And as a result Trump eked out an electoral victory by some very thin vote margins in a handful of states. Huge numbers of factors, many of which were controlled by Clinton herself, influenced how people voted … or didn’t vote. To claim that alleged Russian interference somehow trumped myriad other factors in the elections is to credit Putin with Godlike powers.

Moreover. Putin isn’t an idiot. The opposite in fact. He had to know his ability to directly influence the election was negligible. And if he got caught the repercussions could be extreme. Basically to believe Putin tried to influence the election is to believe that Putin did something brain dead stupid so that Clinton would have an excuse for losing the election. Because it certainly wouldn’t do him any good, the idea that Trump is some Manchurian candidate is again ridiculous. And this is completely borne out by the facts, relations with Russia are worse than they have been in decades, and Trump has done nothing to change that. Hell, he is happily selling Ukraine advanced weapons to use against their ethnic Russian rebels. Trump doesn’t serve anyone but his own ego and family, the idea that he is Putin’s puppet is, well, up there with Obama being a secret Muslim.

The thing that is most obvious to me in understanding Russiagate, who benefits? The people who have been running the country for decades, the Pentagon, the big corporations, the rich, and of course the Democratic party. What Russiagate has been, and continues to be, is brilliant propaganda. No need for Clinton and the Dems to examine their failings in the election, no siree, it was all the Russian’s doing. Perfect rationalization to justify our global domination ambitions, we need to defend the world against the evil Russians, Cold War II. Putin of course is in the unenviable position of trying to disprove something for which there is no proof in the first place.  Trump is in the same position too, though for him it’s a great distraction from his other myriad giveaways to the rich. The GOP has illegal immigration, the Dems have Russiagate. Huge amounts of outrage and attention over distraction issues that are dwarfed by things like climate change, wealth inequality, out-of-control military spending, student debt, health care, etc.

The greatest propaganda aspect about both issues is … they can never be fixed! Neither Russia nor illegal immigration is going to vanish from the Earth, so always endless opportunity to demonize and spin. I grew up with the Cold War, and realized by my teenage years that the “threat” posed by Russia was being wildly exaggerated. And now Russia is a shadow of its former globe spanning imperial self, and we’re supposed to regard them as some sort of existential threat? Give me a break. The only threats to what is left of our democracy are in Washington and Wall Street.

In summation, it makes no sense for Putin to have tried to influence the election, his ability to do so is dwarfed by purely domestic factors in the election, and what “proof” has been offered boils down to “Trust Meuller!” As my old hippie friends say, “When did we start trusting the FBI?”

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump trolling the Democrats. Credit: Russia.ru. I think that’s a Russian news site, but it may be an official Russian site, my Russian is rusty. I got it off Wikipedia so presuming it’s Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 8, 2019 at 4:41 am

MAD TETRIS SKILLS

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OK, was thinking of doing a post about July 5 in history, but turns out nothing much happened that day. Well, nothing that inspires me to write about it. July 5 1937 Spam was introduced, that’s about it. Another milestone in the long slow decline of western civilization. And I guess nothing happened in the July 4 celebrations in Washington, despite the fervent hopes of some that Trump be run over by a tank. As others have noted, Trump’s desire for military parades is a little odd considering his cowardly avoidance of service during the Vietnam War. He was a draft evader plain and simple. I’d have more respect for the man if he just admitted he was afraid to serve, cowardice I can respect, dishonestly not so much.

The 4th of July parade here in Clear Lake was fun. The usual stuff, and the first time I ever saw a drone in action. A P-51 Mustang made a few flybys as well. There’s a local Fire Museum, so got to see a lot of neat old fire trucks parading around. And what’s with all the paraders throwing candy at the crowds? I guess that’s a new tradition, I certainly don’t recall it from parades in my youth. The kids sure loved it, though seemed like it was a bit of a risk. I kept expecting some kid to dash under the wheels of a passing float attempting to retrieve a piece of candy. My morbid streak showing through again.

And now the parade is over and the following storm has passed. Went out in search of food and photos. Got a $4 burger and fries for $10. Carny prices I guess. Would be worse in CA so not complaining, a burger and fries at Disneyland was $39 last I heard. I miss California less every day. And as promised, a picture (above) of a Ferris Wheel that folds up and fits in a semi. Maybe I’ll try to catch them when they pack it up. Might improve my Tetris game.

Southern California had its biggest quake in decades. “Only” a 6.4 on the Richter scale, so not a big one. Still, the Richter Scale is a little misleading, since it is a measurement of energy released, not ground motion. I know, nothing is sacred on Doug’s Darkworld. Richter magnitude is quick and easy to calculate though, so it’s become the standard for pop measurement of earthquake strength. And for the most part it’s close enough, but earthquake snobs use the Modified Mercali Intensity Scale instead of Richter. More than most of my readers ever wanted to know I suspect.

In local news, the fireworks display was just postponed until Friday night. Another storm rolling in. The rioting has already begun, though in Iowa that consists of people throwing their corn dogs to the ground in disgust. I guess some pansy thought that barges full of fireworks out on a lake during a lightning storm was a bad idea. Whatever happened to “The Show Must Go On!” Meredith Wilson is rolling over in his grave.

Well, I stopped there last night so this didn’t turn into a blog version of “Drunk History.” Many people really like that show, not me. I don’t find drunk people particularly funny. Too many bad experiences with them.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Ferris Wheel, Clear Lake, Iowa. 2019.  Credit: Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

July 5, 2019 at 4:52 am

Posted in Personal, Trump

JULY 4

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Ah, July 4th. A big day in the US. Lots of celebration. Go team. I put my flag out, though considering the storm that just rolled through, not sure it’s still flying. It’s the thought that counts though, right? And what thoughts are those? All sorts of them. Holidays were sure a lot easier when I was a kid. Christmas was about presents, July 4th was about fireworks, Bubble Wrap Day was about bubble wrap, etc. Now I have both a brain and access to social media, and it’s more complicated. Especially regarding July 4th, a holiday of mixed origins and increasingly hijacked for propaganda purposes. Trump’s gonna drive a tank for God’s sake, how does one explain that to school kids? Or adults?

So yes, 243 years ago a group of white American businessmen declared themselves to be in open revolt against the crown of England. IE their legal government. They enjoyed the support of 40-50% of the white population. The Loyalists were supported by about 15-20% of the white population. About 70-80,000 Loyalists fled the country during or immediately after the American Revolution. Which is a tiny fraction the number I remember from my college days, my own personal Mandala Effect, but I digress. My point is that not everyone thought rebelling against the crown was a great idea.

And yes, as several friends pointed out, the creation of the United States is not exactly something blacks and American Indians can look back to with joy. The United States almost immediately began the conquest of Indian lands, making Indians second class inhabitants of America. I say inhabitants, because American Indians were not given American citizenship until 1924! And of course early America’s treatment of its black citizens was shameful. Slavery was peacefully outlawed in the rest of the developed world by the early nineteenth century. It persisted decades longer in the US and took the bloodiest war in America’s history to end. And black’s treatment after that remained and to a large extent remains shameful. So yeah, I can understand many seeing July 4 as little to celebrate.

Then of course there’s the increasing militarism and military worship that characterizes modern America. And the 4th of July has been very much co-opted as a part of that process. Every time I hear “The troops are fighting to defend our freedom” I want to scream. Sometimes I do. No, they are fighting to defend war profiteers and the Empire the war profiteers created. The last time American troops were fighting to defend our freedom was World War Two, and even that’s debatable. Our whole democratic system is debatable at this point.

In any event, here in my little corner of Iowa, July 4th is the biggest celebration of the year. A carnival is set up in Central Park with all the local exotic food delights like Funnel Cake and Chicken on a Stick. Iowans are a simple people, in all the good ways. Live music and fireworks are also on the schedule. Lots of fun, especially for the kids. And boy, kind of neat how they can have things like 60 foot tall ferris wheels that fold up into a semi trailer. I’ll go out later and get some pictures to publish on Friday.

In other words, blogging wise, “I’m back bitches!” I’m ashamed to admit it, but I like that quote, but almost never use it. I thought it was from ‘Breaking Bad,’ but while Jessie Pinkman was fond of the word “bitches,” he apparently never uttered that particular line. I don’t like to use it, because comparing human beings to animals is misogyny or racism. It’s just plain racism in many instances, like Trump’s son’s recent utterance. Trees, apples, falling, etc.

Oh, yes, we will be having a parade here in Clear Lake too. No tanks though. Right past the window of where I am staying. My friend wanted me to help her hang a political banner off our roof. My job was to draw sniper fire. Alas, the landlord prohibited it and locked the door to the roof. Well, it is his building. And speaking of parades, came across the above image in my usual quest for the perfect image to illustrate the post. This one seemed perfect  in several ways.  Back when we were proud of our democracy and industry. Neither is what it was back then, for good or for ill.

Happy Fourth everyone. Celebrate or not as the spirit takes you.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Fourth of July parade around 1915-1920 Credit: Bain News Service, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 4, 2019 at 6:41 am

WHY I WON’T BE COVERING THE 2020 ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND OTHER RANDOM VACATION THOUGHTS

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I didn’t watch the debates. Because the election is so far away I figure some of the candidates will be dead of old age before then. It’s over a year away, and like the Boston Marathon, the starting crowd gets bigger every time. The race is getting tons of coverage, in fact whole networks are devoted to it, and it’s all BS. It’s just a circus to keep us distracted, the POTUS  position is largely ceremonial. I guess I’ve reached peak cynicism. If something really noteworthy happens I’m sure I’ll comment on it, but until then, there’s plenty else to write about besides the forever  campaign. I will be posting my Russiagate post  though, probably later this week.

It’s weird living in a world where politics has been so tied, to, well reality. So that if one expresses a fact, one’s political affiliation is assumed. I don’t think Putin interfered in the 2016 election … so I must be a Trump supporter. I think anthropogenic climate change is both real and serious. I must be some sort of bleeding heart Democrat. Clearly I’m confused? No, just trying to make sense out of it all. And, well, reality doesn’t conform to politics. Doesn’t conform to common sense either. Makes it lots of fun to try and figure out.

So, yeah, the last real progressive national legislation was passed in the sixties. Since then, Democrats have made progressive promises, but been short on follow up. And through it all, by law, by Supreme Court ruling, the corporate/banker rule of America has been reinforced. The GOP does it blatantly, the Dems are more subtle. So even if Bernie or another similar sounding candidate gets elected, I don’t think there is anything they can do. A bloated, corrupt, incompetant aristocracy rules the greatest empire the world has ever seen. The only question is how much richer they will get before it all falls down. What is going to happen when the last dollar in America is deposited in a tax sheltered offshore account? (Hat tip to Jarrod Diamond.)

Speaking of unreal beliefs, came across a you-tube video of tidepools near San Diego. The narrator was saying all these pools were barren, and they used to be thriving with life. OK, well, I guess. He didn’t have any ‘before’ images. And even if they have become lifeless, there are any number of perfectly prosaic reasons for a change. I’m not a marine biologist, but I have had expert classes in geology. Seashores change, any sort of minor change up or down the coast could cause this. So, what’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is … Fukushima. Yes, Fukushima is dumping 400,000 thousand gallons of radioactive waste into the Pacific each day. And it’s killing the tide pools near San Diego! <Inset new keyboard and bandaged forehead here>  Sigh. And the guy who posted this posted was adamant that it was all “common sense.” I wish people were schooled more in logical fallacies. It would save a lot of time at least.

For the record, yes, Fukushima was a terrible nuclear meltdown. It was also a classic example of human error. It cost Japan a huge pile of money. It probably shortened the lives of hundreds of people. However, outside of the immediate area, the effects are effectively nonexistent. The 400,000 gallons of nuclear waste dumped daily? That’s about 1 ½ Olympic pools worth of slightly Tritium contaminated water. Tritium is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope, and the amount being released is trivial. Calling this water nuclear waste is scaremongering at its worst.

And Fukushima sure as hell isn’t killing tide pools in San Diego! My God, if the water in those tide pools was radioactive enough to sterilize them, the people wading in them would get radiation burns. People would notice. The truth of the matter is, nuclear power is one of the safest and greenest power options. It’s vastly better than coal, to date it’s estimated that nuclear power has saved nearly two million lives by replacing coal plants. Coal power is what’s killing the planet, nuclear power is part of the global warming solution, not part of the problem.

Which doesn’t freaking mean I’m a Trump supporter or I don’t support green power like solar and wind! The more green power the better! But until we utterly decentralize the power grid and cover the planet with batteries to provide power when it’s night and the wind stops, we need 24/7 power plants to fill the gaps. And hands down nuclear is safer and greener than coil/oil/gas plants. End rant.

FWIW, I endorse Bernie Sanders. He’s talking about important issues. Things that, if implemented, will make improvements in the lives of regular Americans. His proposals aren’t even all that radical, but decades of increasingly blind partisanship has made any real debate impossible. Trump made many equally populist promises, if he had been good to his word America might be a better place. He wasn’t, populist promises are about getting votes, period. As Clinton and Obama amply demonstrated.

The image above  I stumbled upon, but it’s an interesting image. The giveaway of public resources started in the 19th century. The railroad land giveaway was the second greatest gift of public resources to corporations in American history. At least they used it to build a railway system that promoted and supported development and industry. It was a big deal at the time as the image shows. The biggest giveaway was in the early 1990s, the digital spectrum giveaway, but no one knows about it since by then the media was owned by the same corporations getting the freebies. Times have changed, and not for the better.

So next post, mutant cats, art on Mars or some such. Have a great holiday week everyone, Americans and Canadians alike.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Campaign poster from the 1880 presidential campaign. Credit: Democratic Party of 1880, Public Domain under US Copyright Law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump