Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

MONDAY MADNESS

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Waterhouse_Hylas_and_the_Nymphs_Manchester_Art_Gallery_1896.15

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 Kafka’s unpublished work was saved for posterity despite his deathbed wishes, and the world is better for it. My unpublished work, the world will  be better off without it.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

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

HELP FIND JODI HUISENTRUIT

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jodi

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Jodi Huisentruit disappearance. Though disappearance doesn’t really cover it, kidnapping and murder is more accurate. I thought I’d write about it for a few reasons. It is very local, it happened in Mason City just 15 minutes from me. It’s Iowa’s biggest unsolved crime since the Villisca axe murders in 1912. And because my neighbor was a  good friend and coworker of Jodi’s. Fair warning, there’s no happy ending to this story. Jodi is still missing, she was declared legally dead in 2001. Her body has never been found, no one has ever been charged in her presumed murder.

The story is as follows. Jodi was a news anchor for KIMT television in Mason City. On June 26th 1995 she participated in a golf tournament, she was an avid golfer who in high school had led her team to victory in state tournaments twice. That evening she visited a friend, John Vansice, to view a videotape of a birthday party he had arranged for her earlier that month. At 4am the next day she had not arrived at work. The producer, Amy Kuns, called her apartment. Jodi answered, said she had overslept, and was on her way. By 6am Jodi had still not arrived and Amy covered for her 6am show. At 7am KIMT staff called the police.

The police arrived at Jodi’s apartment and found her red Mazda Miata still there. There were signs of a struggle with her personal items strewn about. Subsequent investigation determined that nearby residents had heard a brief struggle at about the time she would have been leaving for work. One reported seeing a white van with running lights on parked in her apartment parking lot at about the time of her disappearance, it has never been identified. An unidentified palmprint was found on her car.

And that basically is that. Despite major investigations by police and private investigators, being covered on various TV shows, and the going efforts of her friends, no substantial leads have ever emerged. John Vansice, the friend she saw the night before, was and remains a person of interest in the case. And in fact the police executed a search warrant against him just last spring. There’s been no word since then, so if they found anything they’re keeping it quiet. A conviction after all this time would require some pretty solid evidence, and cases without bodies tend to be especially hard to prove.

Well, here are my speculations. I don’t think the investigation was botched, a lot of the classic unsolved crimes involved botched initial investigations where evidence was missed or damaged. I’m guessing it was a stranger abduction,  Jodi thought she had a stalker. And  a pretty newscaster might well have attracted a monster, it’s happened before. I mean, if it was someone she knew, the police should have been able to solve the case. Stranger abduction, no body … cases like this often go unsolved. Unless there is a lucky break, I suspect this one will remain unsolved too.

Technology might eventually solve a lot of cold cases like Jodi’s. I’m getting really speculative here. Extreme technology. DNA sniffers of extraordinary sensitivity. Software that can reconstruct the movements of everyone in Mason City that morning. Artificial Intelligences that are fantastically sensitive at reading facial expressions in old videos. Technologies we can’t even imagine. These are all decades if not centuries away though.

Disappearances are a nightmare for friends and family. I know closure is an overused word, but with no body it is difficult for people to move on. Parents especially. Anyone who has been around will have known parents who couldn’t get over the death of a child. My neighbor, Amy Kuns, the former KIMT producer and friend of Jodi, suffers to this day over the case. As a basic rule of thumb, about a third of people who suffer trauma like this never really get past it. Sad how some people think “They should just get over it.” People easily understand that a physical injury can leave lifelong deficits, many don’t understand that psychological injuries can do the same.

So here’s to the memory of Jodi. My heart goes out to her family and friends, I hope someday she is found and can truly rest in peace.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(These billboards were put up around Mason City by the Find Jodi organisation. Donations to support their efforts are appreciated and can be made here.)

Written by unitedcats

June 27, 2019 at 9:04 am

Posted in Crime, Personal

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Adams_The_Tetons_and_the_Snake_River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

June 14, 2019 at 4:12 am

FRIDAY FOLLIES

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800px-Ardennes_Abbey_2Another week gone, who knows how many more to go. Where are we going anyhow? I was reminded this week of the English Joke Telling Society. They meet on Monday to tell each other jokes. They meet on Tuesday to laugh at them. Then on Friday they meet to explain them to each other. I’m guessing Englishmen aren’t renowned for their joke telling abilities. And in that vein, geeze, I sometimes wonder if anyone gets my jokes. Monday’s post, the one about mysterious disappearances. The Hanging Rock one was a joke, but if anyone noticed they said nothing. I mean, a picnic area where dozens of people vanish every year, how likely is that? And Wombat infested, that didn’t tweak anyone? Wombats are harmless herbivores, notable only for producing square turds. Hardly a danger to people. Oh well, I got a good laugh out of it. I crack myself up sometimes. I probably need help.

Reminds me of another joke. So this fellow gets invited to a fancy private club for supper with a friend. He goes, nice dining room, all sorts of people sitting around enjoying a good time. One odd thing though. Every once and awhile some stands up, shouts out a number, and then the whole room laughs. The guest is puzzled, so he asks his friend what’s the deal with the shouted number? His friend tells him the club members like to tell jokes, but the club has been around so long they’ve heard them all before, so they just assigned numbers to them to save time.

Well, the fellow thinks, that’s easy. He waits till a quiet moment, stands up, and shouts out “Nineteen!” Dead silence. OK, he tries again. “Forty Two!” Crickets. Desperate he tries again. “Seventy One!” Not a chuckle to be heard, though a lot of people are looking at him funny. Embarrassed, he sits back down. He asked his friend, what happened? His friend looked at him sadly and said “Some people just aren’t very good at telling jokes.” Speaking of jokes, most posts I write have at least one link just for laughs.

Speaking of laughs, this news story made me laugh. A huge kerfluffle was triggered when a black High School senior’s quote was accidentally included in a yearbook. Big deal, stickers provided to cover the offensive quote, charges of racism, and apologies all around. And what horribly racist quote got published in the yearbook? “Going to this school helped me discover my cracker allergy.” Oh dear, the mental anguish suffered by the poor people who read the quote. Will the horrors of reverse racism ever end?

OK, yes, the quote was inappropriate. Oh well, TTH*. It’s enclosure in the yearbook was an act of vandalism, not deliberate. The girl did submit it, but in jest, it would not normally have been approved. And if it had been deliberate, so what? Any white person getting their knickers in a twist about this needs to examine their white fragility. Cracker is not the same as the n word, because it’s not backed up by centuries of systematic racism. Especially since her comment was more a reflection of just how white her High School was than anything else.

In a last amusing note, someone posted this in one of my Facebook debate groups. I don’t recommend it, and even hate linking it, but this is it. An article claiming their is scientific evidence for dream telepathy. Fascinating on multiple levels. First, on the pure science level, no one has ever done a replicable study demonstrating telepathy. And no plausible mechanism has yet been proposed to allow telepathy. So right now, science says telepathy doesn’t exist. Secondly, the article itself is a masterpiece of how to construct false arguments. Almost every other line is one, it’s breathtaking really.

Lastly, boy, just google <dream telepathy> and page after page of similar articles pop up. Woo illustrated. A huge number of folks see this as gospel. I sometimes wonder if the rise in modern conspiracy thinking is just human predilection for religion taking on new forms. Fodder for a future blog. Or not.

OK then, ending with some  serious stuff. I thought about a D-Day post, but I think I’ve done enough of them. There have been lots of other battles in history, a few even more important than D-Day. Still, researching the topic came across the sad story of the Canadians massacred in the days after D-Day. That’s what the cover pic is about. Basically the 12th SS Panzer was manned and led by Nazi fanatics, and the order was given not to take prisoners. The leader of the unit served only nine years for his crimes. Sheesh. God rest the souls of all those who were murdered in the Battle of Normandy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Memorial to Canadian prisoners of war executed in the garden of the Ardenne Abbey, in the Calvados region of Normandy in France. Credit: Wikipedia, permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

June 7, 2019 at 8:06 am

Posted in Personal, World War Two