Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

WALKING BACKWARDS

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I came across this picture on Snappygoat. I love it. On several levels. Pictures say a lot to me. So do words. I’ll never take a picture like this, but maybe if I write long enough I’ll eventually say something important. I heard once that people have the ability to talk so that if they ever have anything important to say, they can say it. That’s the diplomatic version. I’m going to keep trying. Writing at least, I usually only take my foot out of my mouth to change feet, so the less I talk the better.

I searched for a road picture because I took a one hour road journey with a friend the other day. She hardly said a word. It was wonderful. Time isn’t something that needs to be filled with words. Reality is amazing enough as it is. The trip reminded me of an encounter years ago in the lost country. A friend and I went to eat at a casino. A waitress served the entire meal for us, from meeting us at the door and all the service that follows, using just two words total. Elegant communication personified. She is my God. I should have proposed on the spot, but alas I was young and asleep. Life, an endless parade of lost opportunities.

As I reminisced about waitresses in casinos a friend contacted me, and he informed me that his friend had died. Suddenly and randomly. Oh Jeez. Mortality. I will hoist a few in his friend’s memory. I was lucky, I was middle age before someone close passed over. Recently, oh my, my friends and relatives are dropping like flies. This got me thinking, there was one exception, Jeffrey wasn’t lucky. Early 1960s. I was in first or second grade. He was my neighbour and friend. Died horribly. Age seven or so, he only experienced the beginning of life. All he could have experienced, gone. At the time, I didn’t get it. Now, I get it all too well. Such is death.

Trying to pin down what grade I was in then got me thinking. It was first or second. Pearl River, New York. I could reconstruct the date if I tried. Mid 1960s. I remember I left second grade early by a few weeks because we were moving to New Jersey. Haven’t thought about this in years, or decades. I remember packing up and leaving the classroom was really sad, because there were at least two girls in my class I really liked. My predilection for having girls as friends started early. Can’t even remember their names now. Or what they looked like even.

I hope they’re still alive. And have long rich lives behind and ahead of them still. I doubt our paths will ever cross, I doubt we would know if they did. Yet in some weird sense our lives are still intertwined. All lost to me. This is what I mean by the lost country. The past. And what the past could have been but wasn’t. All lost to time and lost chances. All lost to younger people especially. For them the nineties are what the fifties were to me as a child, ancient history.

And what could have been. In some universes my dad’s career stalled and I stayed in Pearl River, married one of those girls, and lived happily ever after. It’s a nice thought. Or maybe I haven’t met my true love yet. Or maybe it’s all about meeting one of those girls again. Stranger things have happened. I thought I might have met the one under a tree this last spring, but as in the song, it was only in my imagination.

Which brings me back to the photo. It’s the same in either direction. But there can be warm stops along the way. My point though, such as a random assemblage of squiggles can make a point, is lost to me. It comes from time to time, but I can never get the words down fast enough. No matter how long one lives, every moment will be new. In the past few days I’ve seen a few things I never saw before. And never will again. Every moment is like that, one of an infinite number of moments that will never repeat again. However, if reality is such that infinite possibilities are played out, then each unique moment… repeats infinitely. Right? Most people think about their investments or sportsball, I think about the nature of infinity. And then I try to put those thoughts into words. Painting with words.

So no, Doug’s Darkworld is not going to turn into a podcast. I will keep writing and posting, for myself and for those who like the written word. I knew MTV was a huge deal when it hit, and kudos to them, but I’m sticking with the written word. I’ll post when I can. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Road, mountains, winter. Looks like Nevada, could be Utah, maybe AZ or NM. Credit: Snappygoat image, released into the public domain like letting a balloon free.)

Written by unitedcats

October 21, 2019 at 6:46 am

Posted in Personal, Philosophy

TRUMP, SYRIA, WILD SPECULATION, AND A VACATION NOTICE

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Some Democratic primary debates are going on. I can hear my housemate screaming, so, someone is scoring points. Woohoo! Political-ball! Smiles. I’m pretty cynical about the American political scene at this point. Trump has shown us the truth, a gerbil could occupy the Oval Office, and it would make little difference. It’s just theatre, POTUS is the perfect job for a narcissistic reality TV star.

Last post for a little bit. A week maybe. Some life issues to deal with. And the Middle East stuff is exploding, I can’t write posts fast enough. Syria, with Russia’s backing, is going to contest Turkey’s incursion into Syria. Showdown at the OK corral. Trump didn’t get us into this mess, but so far unimpressed with his response. Some symbolic sanctions on Turkey. More bluster. Moments of frightening clarity, like the above tweet. Think about what that money could have done if spent in America. Or not, it is both terribly sad and infuriating to think about.

Yes, Trump betrayed the Kurds. A few years back when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris global warming treaty he utterly betrayed our allies and the entire globe respectively. Crickets from the Dems. So it’s hard for me to take Dem righteous anger about the Kurd thing as anything more than American partisan politics, post Reagan style. All image, no substance. Politics as a team sport, something bad happens on the other guy’s watch, score! People don’t actually die on Superbowl Sunday though, people are dying in Syria.

So, wild speculation time. Worst case scenario. Trump in Syria ends up even more of a debacle than Obama giving Crimea to Russia. This time Russia gets the whole Middle East, the petrodollar collapses, the American economy goes into a tailspin. Or even worse, somehow this leads to a nuclear war, limited or no. Would Trump use nuclear weapons if he thought the alternative was a personal humiliation and the loss of the election? Hope not. And I hope such orders wouldn’t be obeyed if Trump did lose it.

My actual guess? Same as day one, the second Trump got elected, really smart people the world over said “We can checkmate this guy with a bit of preparation.” And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Frankly the world will be better off without Washington calling all the shots. What’s good for Raytheon is not good for America, or the world. Could be an ugly transition though.

How is it that being an adult means every question distills down to “Hell if I know.” If I die before I post again, my executor is instructed to publish my draft posts. There are hundreds of them. I assume this means a lot of people will wish me a long life. See, being a writer does have an up side. Have a great whatever everyone, I will return on the flip side.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump tweet. Credit. POTUS Trump. Pretty sure Trump’s tweets are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

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Written by unitedcats

October 16, 2019 at 4:08 am

Posted in Politics, Russia, Syria, Trump, Turkey

TURKEY, SYRIA, TRUMP … SHOES, SHOES, EVERYWHERE. AND A CORRECTION.

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Turkey has launched a full scale invasion of the Kurdish controlled region of northeastern Syria. This link has a good map, not a trivial bit of real estate, about a third of Syria. Serious fighting, dozens to hundreds dead. Tens of thousands of refugees, hundreds of thousands is possible. The operation is very popular among Turks, among ethnic Turks at least. In the US Trump’s political opponents are pillorying him, claiming that by pulling out of Syria he gave Turkey a “green light” to attack. Claiming Trump is betraying our allies, the Kurds, who we supported in their war on ISIS. Yes, Turkey’s leader Erdogan was undeterred by Trump’s threats to destroy Turkey’s economy. It’s unclear to me just how true these claims by Trump’s opponents are, the Turks would likely have invaded sooner or later. The presence of a tiny handful of US troops wasn’t going to stop them.

While I agree this is a terrible thing, I really wonder where all these people who are enraged by Trump’s “genocide” and “betrayal” of the Kurds have been for the past 20 years. The US has been waging war on half a dozen countries for a decade, where’s the outrage? Where was the outrage when Obama illegally sent troops into Syria with no coherent mission and no exit strategy? Or more precisely, when Obama’s disastrous blunder in Ukraine handed Crimea to Putin, why no outrage at Obama? To be suddenly outraged by Trump, when the US has been conducting and supporting invasions for decades is the height of partisan hypocrisy.

A couple of points. The Kurds are not our allies, they are people we support when they are fighting people we don’t like. Granted Trump’s bizarre rant about how the Kurds “didn’t help us on D-Day” was surreal. We’ve betrayed the Kurds before and we will betray them again. And like Vietnam, it would be harder to find a region of the world less important to the US. The Kurds are in no position to help us protect American interests in their sphere, because there basically aren’t any. Turkey on the other hand, is absolutely a key US ally and NATO member, with key US military bases inside Turkey. So I’m not sure what Trump’s critics thought we should do, stay in Syria forever? Go to war with Turkey?

Basically the world is run by 300 or so armed gangs, and the US is one of the worst, despite our lip service to freedom and democracy. And most of them are rational actors, ruthless in protecting their own interests. And that is exactly what Erdogan is doing, a Kurdish enclave in Iraq would certainly act as a supply base for Kurdish separatists operating in Turkey. If part of Mexico was being run by people inimical to the US, you better believe the US would intervene. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it does mean to criticise it while accepting and supporting the international order that creates these situations in the first place is absurd. As long as there are over 5,000 ethnic groups on the planet but only 300 or so of them have nations, this sort of thing is the reality. The Kurds may be one of the larger stateless peoples in the world, but there are hundreds of others equally deserving a state of their own. As long as this elephant in the room  is unaddressed, the US is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

God help the Kurds, nobody else will. We have failed as a species. As for what will happen now, I suspect it won’t be pretty. Efforts to set up a Turkish occupied neutral zone in Syria will likely prove unstable in the long run. Like the Israeli occupation strip in Lebanon, it may create more problems than it solves. Maybe it will drive the parties involved to the negotiating table and something will be done. It would actually make sense for parts of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria to be made into an independent Kurdistan. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

A sad week all around. I admit I overstated my case in my last post. I claimed there was a period of global peace after the Vietnam war. It was something I read decades ago, and it was only partially true then. A warning, once again, that so much of what I think I know is wrong. Yet I can’t double check every single thing I write. C’est la vie. The number six chart on this page shows battle deaths over recent decades. There was a big downtick in the late seventies, that is what I was referring to. Then horrible butchery taking off in the eighties, mostly in Africa. Battle deaths are low in recent decades, but they are only part of the story. And fodder for another blog.

I write to try and understand the world. My current take: Claiming Trump is a ‘monster’ for ‘betraying the Kurds’ is using the Kurds for domestic political points. That colonial mindset is far more a betrayal of the Kurds than Trump’s blundering, it’s what made the world a dystopian nightmare for people like the Kurds. I rest my case. Even blogging about it is a betrayal by those standards I guess. The more one knows, the more one hates oneself.

Good chance this will get edited in the AM. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Polish cavalry during the German invasion in 1939. Credit: Unknown, wikipedia image, appears to be Public Domain under US copyright law. From Wikipedia: “Battle of the Bzura: Polish cavalry in Sochaczew in 1939.”)

Written by unitedcats

October 11, 2019 at 4:10 am

Posted in Kurds, Syria, Trump, Turkey, War

TURKEY TELLS TRUMP TO ‘TALK TO THE HAND’

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This week started off with Trump thinking he was a Mafia don I guess. He threatened “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” Yeah, that’s presidential. Where did he get the idea that threatening a major US ally in this way was going to lead to anything good for the US? This is all about the Kurds in Syria, which the US was perfectly willing to pay to fight ISIS. Trump is pulling the US out of Syria, Turkey apparently plans to invade Syria to both keep the Kurds from getting any ideas about independence, and to create a zone in Syria where they can resettle Syrian refugees that fled the Civil War in Syria.

Why is Trump up in arms about this? I don’t know, it’s not like he gives a crap about the Kurds or the Syrians. I think it’s just because he doesn’t like being crossed, Trump has always used his wealth and power to get his own way, regardless of the cost to others. The silly thing about this threat, is any economic action taken against Turkey is going to cost the US too. In fact it’s not clear to me that Trump has many options for hurting Turkey’s economy, it’s not like the world is going to agree to sanction Turkey. We’ll see what Turkey does, but my guess is they will proceed as planned and tell Trump to “Talk to the hand.”

Oh well, at least Trump is entertaining. Sadly the joke is on the American people. The impeachment circus grinds on, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon, so I’m guessing it’s about rallying the base. Or more accurately, keep the base rallying around the prefered “centrist’ candidates, and away from Bernie sanders and his ilk. And if impeachment does succeed, probably by causing Trump to melt down completely and resign, we get Pence. Yeah, another Evangelical neocon. More “Bombing in the name of Jesus” basically. Here’s an interesting article about a potential Pence presidency.

Well, poot, reality is overtaking this post as I type. Turkey has called Trump’s bluff. With the Washington establishment’s blessing. What a complicated mess. Trump is being pilloried for “abandoning” our Kurdish “allies” to attack by Turkey. Well, we are abandoning the Kurds, as we have done before when they were no further use to us. And they aren’t our allies, just locals we armed and paid to defeat a mutual enemy, ISIS. Turkey is a member of NATO and thus most definitely our allie. A member that has no intention of allowing an autonomous Kurdish defacto state to be established in Syria. It would give the millions of Kurds living in Turkey ideas.

Yes, this post is almost incoherent. Like America’s strategy in the Middle East. Let’s try to sum it all up. Revolution/Civil War breaks out in Syria some years back. Numerous other countries get involved, but eventually with help from Iran and Russia, the Syrian regime wins the war. A large part of Northeastern Syria remains under de facto Kurdish control. Trump announces he is going to actually fulfill a campaign promise (gasp!) and pull at least some US troops out of Syria, who are there completely illegally by the way. The neocon Washington ‘all war all the time’ establishment goes nuts over Trump’s decision, then the Turks announce they will be going into Syria. Trump does his Mafia don schtick and threatens turkey, while also praising them, in a series of classically Trumpian (IE near incoherent) tweets. Turkey announces Trump can “talk to the hand,” Turkey is going into Syria. And now we wait for other shoes to drop.

What a complicated mess in other words. Wars within wars. I miss the seventies. For a time after the Vietnam War there was peace in the world. No wars anywhere. What a concept. For about 8% of the last 3,400 years the world has been at peace. So it’s not an impossible dream. Since the peaceful days of the seventies, we’re now involved in half a dozen wars, with other wars ongoing as well. And most of the wars the US is fighting are stalemates, and are at least as senseless as the Vietnam War. Great for profits in the war industry and promotions in the Pentagon I guess. My point here is that if the world was at peace in the seventies, but is riven with war now, who’s to blame? I would posit that the people who rule the world, the US and its allies, are to blame. In fact the current pile of pointless and hopeless wars we are involved in proves Washington’s strategy, if “kill all the bad guys” can even be called a strategy, has failed.

Alas, America is the country that can do no wrong. So no matter how often our wars fail, we just pay the toll in blood and gold (usually not American blood) and carry on. This is why the world is a mess, this is why by all objective metrics the US is worse off than any other developed nation, this is why Trump got elected! And this is why it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

I know, I know, ranting again. I’ll go take a Valium.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: From Wikipedia: “Part of the set of five hanging scrolls Extermination of Evil depicting benevolent deities who expel demons of plague. This scroll was originally part of a handscroll known as the “second edition of the Masuda family Hell Scroll” before being cut into sections after World War II. The text on the scroll explains the acts of the god in exterminating evil. The Divine Insect is an euphemism for the silkworm which takes the form of a moth here. The set of five scrolls has been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings.” Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 9, 2019 at 5:13 am

DOG LEGGED GATES, MYSTERY SONG, MURDER MOST FOUL, AND APE SCIENCE

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I started writing about Iraq, but it got really depressing. So maybe I will finish it later, for now, random comments on random news items. Bernie Sanders had a mild heart attack. Will be interesting to see if he bounces back. I’m rooting for him, he’s the best of a bad lot. Trump is still hanging in there, though showing signs of strain. He really wasn’t cut out to be POTUS, granted few people are. I’m wondering if his fellow Republicans in Washington are starting to turn on him. Ships, sinking, etc. He’s not exactly a consensus builder. I could see him being driven out of office one way or the other in time for Pence to step up and run. If the Dems self-immolate, again, Pence could win. Fun times.

In music news (No, I don’t think I’ve ever typed that before) I came across the curious story of an unidentified song. As in, no one knows who wrote it, played it, sung it. Recorded it. And this isn’t something from ancient history, it originated from around 1984. I may once have been a demo by some Eartern European band.  It got played like once on some English radio station, and it’s only a fluke that a recording came to light. And at this point the search for the originators has gone viral and still no one has a clue. It does sound hauntingly familiar, as many have observed. Anywise, read the story and listen to the song here.

Another experiment has indicated that some apes have “theory of mind.” A long time favorite topic of mine, as my two or three long term readers might remember. How to explain theory of mind? Well, if someone realizes a mirror reflection is themselves, they are self aware. Humans, apes, elephants, porpoises, some birds seem to be self aware, theory of mind is the next step, knowing that not only you exist, but that other people are also equally self aware. It means the ability to “put yourself in another’s head,” to think about what other people are thinking. It’s actually devilishly hard to pin down in experiments. Most lay people seem to think apes have theory of mind, and apparently the scientific consensus is leaning that way. I’m still unconvinced. Read about it here.

In today’s “Um, that doesn’t sound right” file, Joshua Brown, a key witness in the Botham Jean murder case, has been ambushed and shot to death. OK, Amber Guyger was a white Dallas police woman who ‘accidentally’ went into a neighbour’s apartment thinking it was her own. She encountered the occupant of the apartment, Botham Jean, a black man, and shot him dead. She was recently convicted of murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. Joshua Brown’s testimony helped convict her, he was a neighbour of them both. Joshua was an upstanding man, and his killing seems senseless. So many people have concluded that Joshua was murdered by the Dallas police in revenge for helping convict one of their own. Sadly it’s all too possible, a wild west mentality is still deeply entrenched in parts of America. Something Canadians, Western Europeans, and others probably have a hard time comprehending. And, frankly, America’s penchant for gun violence is hard for many Americans to comprehend.

While going through Hieronymus Bosch paintings, always a great source of images for Doug’s Darkworld, I came across the image above. It looked strangely familiar, something about the gate. Turns out I’ve used written about it before. The gate, not the painting, in “The Mystery of the Dog Legged Gate.” Nine years ago, sheesh. I was such a fool then. Now I’m an older fool. There’s less of me now though, by a stone or two. So does that mean my fool density is higher? Or does fool density remain the same despite body size, so I’m a stone or two less foolish? Why does science never tackle important questions like this?

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Sorry about the short post, decided best to post on time rather than scramble for something, anything, I could segue to from dog legged gates. Have a great week everyone. (Every time I type that now a little in my head screams “But I’m not a Trump supporter!” Sheesh.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Wayfarer’ painted circa 1500. Credit: Hieronymus Bosch. Being painted over 500 years ago the copyright has long expired. Unless Congress has changed copyright law to benefit corporations once again. Knock on wood.)

Written by unitedcats

October 7, 2019 at 4:28 am

Posted in Crime, gun control, Science

PROOF OF GOD?

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Some people put a lot of stock in proving or disproving the existence of God. Atheists in particular seem gung ho on the topic. It’s a fascinating debate from a number of perspectives. I guess. I have no pigeon in this race or whatever that idiom is. I’m an ignostic Episcopalian. Ignostic means I have never heard a definition of the word ‘God’ that made sense, ‘God’ makes no more sense than ‘Fod.’ It’s a magic ritual word. I’m Episcopalian for personal reasons, I don’t actually see any evidence for supernatural agency in the Universe.

And I don’t care what other people believe in, as long as they don’t scare the horses. By that I mean I’m all for freedom of religion, I think people should be free to practice any faith they want. However, and it’s a big however, I don’t want laws or social policy based on any faith. I don’t care what someone else believes, but I don’t want their beliefs enshrined in public law. Blue Laws are a great example. Someone thinks their business should be closed on Sunday for religious reasons, no problem. Laws prohibiting any business being open on Sunday for religious reasons, no thanks. And that just a really innocuous example, there are much uglier ones.

That being said, here are my three favorite arguments for the existence of God. And by God, I mean some sort of conscious supernatural agency ‘behind the curtain’. Arguments supporting the idea there’s a ghost in the machine, the Universe being the machine. I don’t think there’s any original thinking here, this is just for fun and debate. Thinking aloud. And I suppose, upon reflection, only one of these is an argument God. Two of them are arguments for God … or advanced aliens. Or maybe proof we are  living in an artificial reality, Take your pick.

The first is that we have free will. Can I prove I have free will? No. It just appears to be the case. And it looks like everyone else does too. That means humans have agency. If we are more than just machines, it implies the Universe is more than just a machine. By some schools of thought, it means the Universe has agency. Yes, I know, this is just a variation on First Cause arguments, or a fancy way of saying the Universe exists, therefore God. It’s not a compelling argument, but it’s not wrong. And I can see why many people find such arguments compelling. In any event, this is the weakest of my arguments. Or the hardest one to put into words. Those often go together. (Good save Doug.)

Secondly, the evolution of language. I don’t know how Ken Hovind missed this one. Or maybe he didn’t, I don’t spend a lot of time in ‘Answers in Genesis.’ Language appears to have only evolved once in Earth’s history, but according to our current understanding of how evolution works, it should never have evolved. This is because of lying, it’s easy to lie using language, so organisms that ignored language should have been selected for. Well, that’s my simplistic take on the problem of deception. That aside, the fact that exactly one of the countless billions of species of animals has evolved into a language using animal. What are the odds?

My last argument is the clincher. Cats. They are simply too perfect. Perfect size, temperament, utility. I mean they live in our homes and protect us from rodents, humanity’s worst enemies. And bury their scat, I’ve had employees who had trouble with that one. And on top of that they are adorable cuddly little scrunch muffins. Like tribbles but actually useful. I mean, honestly, what are the odds something like that just happened to evolve? And scientists know it took three simultaneous mutations to make cats non aggressive towards humans. Just for starters. It’s exactly as if trees grew packs of cigarettes and beers.

I rest my case. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Just look at that. Look at it! Credit: Copyright © 2017 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

October 4, 2019 at 5:35 am

Posted in Cats, Religion

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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OK, just couldn’t get into the police dog post. Maybe someday, maybe not. Discussion of the meme in question got a little heated in the Doug’s Darkworld Facebook group, and my tolerance for drama of any sort is reaching new lows. Life’s too short. So maybe a fun post. Puppies! Oh, wait, I don’t like puppies. They have sharp teeth and they smell funny. Worst of all, like some sort of reverse butterfly, they turn into dogs. Then they have sharp teeth, smell funny, and destroy any nearby furniture, walls, tools, appliances they can get their teeth into. Actually, whatevs, I don’t mind a good dog. If I ever live out in the forest again I might have a dog.

Moving right along, things haven’t gotten worse in the Middle East. Global Warming is getting worse. Things are getting ugly in Hong Kong. My attempts at baking are one for three. Yeah, not going to bake anymore, it’s clearly not my forte. Even the animals outside wouldn’t eat my last batch of attempted muffins. I looked up what happened in history October 2nd, not much hope there. An odd assortment of the usual calamities. In 1187 Salladin captured Jerusalem, which the Crusaders had held for 80 odd years. The Queen Mary chopped a Britsh Cruiser in half during World War Two.  One good Omen I suppose, The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2nd, 1959. And in 1996 an airliner crashed because a mechanic forgot to remove some duct tape. Usually duct tape fixes things, not this time.

Speaking of fixes, this weeks Skeptoid is about how to fix global warming. It is fixable, but like so many of humanity’s problems, fixing it would slightly inconvenience a handful of people who already have more money than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes. They won’t stand for that of course, and claim that them making slightly less obscene profits would wreck the economy. As a general rule anytime one hears “But it would wreck the economy!’ what is really being said is “But the super rich would have slightly less money!” The sad thing is that a lot of the people being exploited by the rich parrot the same tired argument. Sigh. Anyhow, read about it here without my ranting.

And when we’re not avoiding fixing a problem, there’s people actively making them worse. I’m thinking of the anti-vaxxers. The good Dr Novella makes a case for mandatory vaccinations for school kids. Why this even has to be debated is maddening. I remember the sixties and seventies, the only blatant science deniers were cranks. I don’t recall any major social movements completely at odds with established science. It’s not like there’s any doubts, measles caused nearly 3 million annual deaths in 1980. It’s lower than one hundred thousand now. And no, it wasn’t the widespread introduction of handi wipes, it was the MMR  vaccine. And that’s just one of many diseases vaccines radically reduced or even eliminated by vaccines.

Strange times indeed. So politics. IDK. Electoral politics get more like sportsball every day. Everyone gets really excited about their team, or obsessed even, but in the final analysis who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series doesn’t mean anything. So, I have no meaningful comments. And I’m actually going to some political stuff. Meetings. Things. I can’t even make an order in Starbucks, let alone describe what goes on in local electoral politics. Good people trying to make a difference, God bless em.

In the “You can’t make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious” file, people are trying to get their self driving cars to run them over. That’s up there with eating Tide pods, how the hell did I end up on this planet? Didn’t I have any other choices? But yes, at least one youtuber posted his attempts at running himself over. The whole self-driving feature is already a nightmare for insurance companies. Who is at fault when a driver summons their car and it hits someone? Lots of fun to be had. Lots of lawyers will get richer.

Lastly, a scientist has published a paper making the case that aliens are watching us. Seriously. This is because there is a tiny (about twenty known) population of asteroids called Near Earth Co-Orbital Objects. These little guys don’t orbit Earth, but they share the same orbit around the Sun. Dance partners with Earth so to speak. And physicist James Benford suggests they would be the perfect place to keep an eye on Earth from. He suggests we observe them closely looking for any kind of radiation, and scan them with radar to boot. And maybe send a probe? Why not?

Why not indeed. They are both very close to Earth, and at least as scientifically interesting as any other object orbiting the Sun. We find out new stuff every probe we send. And indeed China is actually planning a ten year mission that would not only include visiting 2016 HO3, the nearest of these asteroids, the mission also includes sample returns. Read about it all here. Personally I think the aliens, if they exist, are already here on Earth. And no, they didn’t teach us how to make pyramid shaped piles of rocks. Another post, someday.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Man enjoying view from beach. Credit: Wallpaper Abyss.)

Written by unitedcats

October 2, 2019 at 4:19 am

Posted in History, Science, SETI