A lot has happened

It has been some time since I posted.

 You may remember a couple of months ago when the sun went dark in parts of North America. Well, I got to see it from Tacoma Washington (stuck there for 6 weeks) where we got 90% or so coverage. If you look to the left of the sun in this picture, you can see the eclipse a little more than half way completed in the bokhe.  It’s a little crescent shape. I kind of wish I had had my god camera with me to tone down the ISO and maybe get a better shot. They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Meh.

On top of that, My dad (photo not available) Was in the hospital the whole time I was gone and a little before. Thanks to doctors, bed rest, modern medicine, and probably a miracle or two, he’s home now. He grew a beard while he was in there and I would post a picture of it, but his Facebook has been deleted so I can’t steal…. um… borrow a picture.

Lindsay has almost finished her Masters of Library Science and we’ve decided to stick around Shreveport for the foreseeable future. That’s not to say if an opportunity elsewhere presented itself, we wouldn’t jump on it but the new feeling of permanence allows us to add another member to the pet portion of the family. Pictured are the wife and Lucy who is Penny’s legit sister. She came from a litter created by Cooper and Bella, Penny’s parents. Sadly, Cooper has passed and we knew this was our last shot to get one of his kids and a genetic sister for Penny.

Finally, I’ve started using Ello a little more. The wife has just started dabbling in watercolor and acrylic painting (and she’s amazing already… just look) and it got me thinking about my complete lack of creative efforts over the last year. Enter Ello. Ello was trying to be a simplified FB when it started but it’s been retooled to a mature version of Deviant Art which I left some time ago. I will probably be uploading some photos that I’m still taking from time to time (see the spider husk) and if I decide to paint some or do any more illustration or even if I take part in Inktober this time, I might post some stuff there. Looking through other artists’ works is inspiring.

I am also hoping to do more regular updates to this blog and maybe film some more. I can almost guarantee there will be puppy videos ahead but I also intend to do some more tutorials and I plan a little bit of a fruit tree project so watch for that.

More ahead.

Ownership rights

I think of firearms as I might a car. It’s a machine that has its uses and mine stays parked a lot more than I’d like it to.

I bought both at dealers. I settled for some features but generally got what I wanted. I enjoy using both.  In a pinch, both can be used as a weapon and you can intentionally or unintentionally kill people with both. An Estimated 38,300 (up 8% from 2014) were killed on U.S. roads in 2015 according to the National Safety council with another 4.4 million injured. According to the CDC, 33,000 people were killed by a firearm in 2014. Only one of these devices requires a license and only one is purpose designed to be a weapon.

My thought is this. If you have to have a drivers license to operate a motor vehicle which is dangerous, why not to operate a firearm? Sure, it’s our constitutional right to bear arms but that doesn’t mean everyone should. It is not your right to own a vehicle, but far more do these days than don’t. An estimated 95% of households in the US own motor vehicles and they’ve “proven” themselves to be competent operators of these machines meeting federal government standards. Wouldn’t it be prudent to make anyone who claims to be responsible enough to operate a firearm prove their competence? All that is required right now is a simple background check and those are not as stringent as they should probably be.

Concealed carry permits require there to be no documented history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, history of violent behavior, etc. on top of the regular felony free back ground check. I feel the concealed carry class on how to handle a gun along with the background check should be mandatory for owning and operating a fire arm. You could even have learner’s permits issued to kids just like learners permits for cars. Just as with cars, for the student to use a fire arm or have one in his possession, a licensed adult must be present. It’s a no brainer and it doesn’t infringe on an individual’s rights.

I know plenty of people without a car who have a driver’s license, especially in big cities. You can have a license to use one without owning one and in the case of a firearm, I think this would be appropriate as well. The government could tie this in to the state or federal ID process. Imagine the education or social programs that could be funded with a 20 dollar licensing fee every few years or so. If the individual opted for a concealed carry endorsement, there’s another fifty for the state and you know the person is highly and effectively trained.

The second amendment reads as follows: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In plain English this says that the people, aka you and me, can own a firearm if they plan to defend their State and that a State has the right to form and regulate a Militia force. If you’re agreeing to the right to bear arms by baring arms, then you agree to use those arms to defend your “…free State…” Wouldn’t it make sense for someone who is bearing arms to say, out loud or in writing, that they are willing to be deputized in the event they (and by extension they’re firearm) is required in defense of their state? I don’t know a gun owner who wouldn’t defend their home, family, or the USA if terrorists or other nare-do-wells attacked so what would be the issue with saying they would do a thing they are already willing to do?

I hear the arguments. Government regulations…. Blah blah…. Infringing on my rights…. Blah blah…. Putting their fingers in my pie… blah blah. If you can’t tell, I don’t think much about those arguments when I myself own a gun and am readily willing to be regulated. I am not a criminal. I am not going to run wildly though the streets shooting off my gun. I will not be unsafe with my use of my fire arm and I’d love to have a state issued card saying I’m ready to defend, life, limb, family, and liberty where ever I go. If you’re willing to too, you would have no problem with the firearms owner’s license.

New machine…. time to upgrade?

This post is really more me thinking out loud than it will be informative.

Again and again I am seeing the names in Gaming laptops are Sager, Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Acer, and Dell’s Alienware. On most forums you’ll see these names over and over again. Which one, though, is the best option for a traveling gamer like me? I will use my rig for MUCH more than games. I’ll be doing some 3d animation from time to time. I might edit an HD video or two. I will hook up a digital pad and paint some. Over all of this, it’s my conduit for communication with the wife. It’s a life line.

The first part of the search is answering the question “what will I use it for?” but that isn’t the end all question. I’ve been rocking along with a 6 year old Dell XPS L701X with a first gen i7 740QM at 1.73 GHz, 8 gigs of DDR3 ram on two chips of 4 each, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 445 3 gig graphics card. Let me tell you, it’s a pain to see specs like these…. I know, not the best but still pretty dang good… fall victim to heat failure. Both of the hard drives (yep, it has two 500 gig hard drives) are cooked to the point of producing errors and the graphics ship is starting to glitch out. It’s always been a warm machine, but over the years it has just gone up and up and up.

The thing has been a tank and traveled from one end of the country to the other. Sure, it’s been a pain lugging around an almost 9 pound laptop and it’s not like I can bust it out in an airport…. o.k…. I have… but it wasn’t easy. The form factor was just what I need in a laptop. The thing of it is, I will be getting way more machine than I have no matter what I get but I want to make sure it’s future proof…. at least as much as this one was; Which leads me back to brands.

Dell as an option again? Well, on one hand, Dell has been a good brand to me and the XPS line still exists but the hardware is stunted. Alienware is their gaming line and while I might not need a gaming computer, much of the gaming hardware lends it’s self to performance. On the other hand, for the hardware, Alienware is just too expensive and I feel like you’re paying for a name. On the other other hand, Inspiron (which was my first Dell laptop) Does have the specs I’m looking for mostly, but the Ram is not as upgradeable as I would like and the graphics card is GTX 940 with 2 gigs of ram…. kind of a downgrade almost; better processor but less ram.

So if not dell, what are my other options. During the course of my research, I’ve notices MSI, Asus ROG line, and Sager pop up again and again. I didn’t know much about Sager and, while I’d heard of MSI before, I didn’t really know anything about them either. Asus I’ve heard of and I have heard good things so I looked there first.

Asus ROG line is paring down at Xotic PC. The one I had configured is no longer available in the configuration I chose. The MSI seems to be more rugged, but the ram configures in odd ways and the max ram I would like to be supported, 64 gigs (for upgrade), is not available on their models in my price range. That kind of leaves me at Sager and Gigabyte as options.

The Sager NP8176 seems, by all accounts, to be a descent machine (linked one not configured). I have not found many reviews but Sager seems to be a respected brand amongst gamers on Toms Hardware. The Gigabyte P57WV7 has some rave reviews at New Egg (linked version not configured yet) and Amazon, but the max supported Ram is 32 gigs and, my wife will not like this, the keyboard does not have the rainbow lights of the Sager. To her, I’m sure that will be enough to decide. I’m leaning more towards the Sager, but the lack of reviews of this specific model (others review well) makes me a little nervous.

In a nut shell, I am one of those people who plans not to have to replace something in two years, but takes care of what they have and will probably upgrade memory, hard drive, and generally baby my machine until it completely falls apart. Which ever one I go with, has to be able to last at least as long as my last one. 6 years isn’t too much to ask, is it?

An Open Letter to “Monument Activists” on both sides

Free speech is a thing in this country. It has been since our constitution was written and throughout our sad and bloody history, it’s been championed by both sides of the argument. Those who wish to include and those who wish to exclude have both claimed protection under the first amendment. In local news here in my neck of the woods some people are up in arms over the removal of confederate monuments at government sites. This is an open letter to both sides.

Stop it. Just listen to one another for a minute or two. I don’t mean let the other side talk while you consider your next retort. I mean really listen.

To the opponents of removing the confederate monuments I say that your symbol, one you might believe to be of history and heritage is no longer viewed by the wider world as what you think it means. That sucks. I’m sorry that’s happened to a symbol you hold dear. You have something in common with the Navajo, the Norse, the Chinese, and a hundred other cultures who for 12000 years used the swastika as a symbol of the pursuit of knowledge, peace, and a symbol of the sun. It is now almost universally seen as a symbol of hate and intolerance, and fear. If you had a symbol that you viewed as something you found hideous, heinous, emblematic of injustice and embracing everything you see as wrong with the world, would you shrug and say, “Oh well, it’s history.” or would you fight to have it removed. The proponents of removing these monuments are doing just that. They see your symbol of heritage as much of the rest of the civilized world does. They see it as hate. They see it as ignorance. They see it as fear. If you could put yourself in their position, if you could think selflessly and see the pain that your symbols of heritage and history can cause another human being, you might find a compromise somewhere. There is always a compromise.

To the proponents of removing these symbols, think again about the history of the symbol. We could let these symbols go the way of the swastika, a symbol once revered by hundreds of cultures. We could see them as hateful and ignorant and intolerant and let the world view them as an empty hate image or we could try to see them as something else. Try to understand that the opponents of removal don’t all see this the way you do. Many of them don’t think they’re hateful or ignorant. They see the history of the south depicted in these monuments and flags. They’re not trying to bring back a society that marginalized a people but they want to remember that the confederate states existed and fought for what they believed to be right. In their view, the national government was oppressive and was taking away the rights of the people and so they fought. Maybe how you’re fighting now against a regime, or reality tv president, you disagree with. Just because you don’t share the views of the people who wore confederate gray, doesn’t mean we need to erase them from history. Were they wrong? Probably, but none of those issues of slavery and property exist now and will never again. Political motivation and “rights” are still hotly debated topics regardless of what those rights might be. These people, your neighbors who want to keep these monuments, don’t want to go back to those days, but want to remember that a part of history happened here; Maybe to avoid repeating the worst parts. There has to be a way to compromise.

To both sides I say this: None of this really matters. A wise friend of mine used to say, “No one will remember this in 200 years.” What he means is that this conflict doesn’t matter. How do you know what your great great great grandchildren will think about this argument. The world is becoming more and more inclusive and rejecting anything that keeps us apart. If we come together over the monument issue and they become symbols we can all embrace or if we come together and take each other’s views and pains into account, it doesn’t really matter. We will eventually tear down all barriers when we realize we’re all one people. We don’t have to forget our history if we remove a flag, we don’t have to have a statue to remember who we are, we don’t have to hate each other because we have differing opinions and it is never alright to make one person feel afraid to make your point. If there is a lesson to be taken from the Civil War and the fall of the Confederacy, it is this:

Be Better. That’s all the monument we really need.

It’s okay to be okay.

I am convinced that much of the unhappiness in the world is because other people want to be happy and shame those not quite as happy into being miserable. It’s Okay to be Okay. If you’re content, don’t let anyone else try to make you miserable by being sure that you’re miserable. That’s their hang up, not yours.

Many times in my life I’ve been content and minding my own business and “friends” at the time were convinced I must have been lonely or that I had to be miserable with my job or my home or my lack of pets (didn’t have any then), and all of this while telling me how miserable or conversely, how ecstatic they were with their lives. If people are happy, they want you to be too because, in their eyes, you’re not a person; you’re just an extension of their reality and int independent.

Moreover, people are not content to be content. It’s alright not to be thrilled to be alive or too depressed to walk. The middle is a great place to be. I see too many examples in pop culture of people on one extreme or the other and it’s generating unreal expectations. If you know someone who is content, be alright with their contentment. If you think they might be miserable, maybe you are and just can’t accept it.

A case for taxes

I am tired of people bitching about taxes. I get it, I really do. You don’t want to work hard for money that you don’t get to spend on food, clothes, a roof or toys but there is more to existence than those things. You know, like roads to get to work or to go to the store to buy your toys or like plumbing and sewers to take away the waste from your food. Like sanitation to remove the garbage left behind by these things. Etc. Etc.

I read a Facebook post that was complaining about taxes that pay for mosquito control among other things. We NEED mosquito control in Louisiana! The primary argument is that the politicians are stealing the funds payed into taxes…. then DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE POLITICIANS! Don’t harsh the taxes that are pretty low when spread out over the population and that actually benefit us.

Here’s how this works for people who still don’t get it:

You have a group of people who form a town. That town needs roads, schools, and basic infrastructure. If everyone puts in a little bit, then we can pay for all of those things. We need a smaller group within that group of people to make sure the money is being spent wisely and is allocated in order of importance so we elect the trustworthy among us to manage things. There’s the flaw. Deal with that flaw and stop complaining about having to pay a tax that will do you some good.

Mob Mentality & Twitter

I watched a Ted Talk the other day about online shaming and twitter. It was about the power of social media and how it simultaneously empowers and disconnects. The story was about a woman who’s life was decimated after an insensitive comment she made about her trip to Africa. It was a terrible comment. It destroyed her life while she was in the air and she didn’t know she’d lost everything until she landed.

We attack and attack and attack on social media. Our opinions are the most important thing in the world and we feel that everyone should benefit from our experience and points of view. We poke and prod each and we say terrible things to anyone who will listen. What I don’t get is how some people loose their jobs over things they say and others don’t.

Trump says terrible things about people but it has cost him nothing. It’s about embarrassment. The woman described in the Ted talk lost her job because her company was mortified. Most politicians lose suppot when they say something horrible. It’s the whole “Open foot, insert mouth” thing. That doesn’t seem to touch Trump. I don’t get it and I really want to know how he gets away with it.

Twitter has been a force for change. It’s been a voice when people were otherwise cut off. It has been a wall holding back governmental oppression, and it’s been an angry mob that has forced racist organizations to back off the downtrodden. Is it right, though? Mob rule is never a really great idea but we’re looking to it now to find solace in a terrible decision we’ve made as a Country.

We need to look at the root cause that this thing has happened and, instead of complaining about it on social media, we need to act. By Act I don’t mean riot…. that’s just as if not more stupid. We need to be a cohesive voice without being a mob and that’s a hard line to walk.

Executive Order – Racist?

Executive orders are important to jump start any new president’s time in office. The problems that arise from such unilateral decisions are numerous and largely unpreventable. If one person says “This is the way it’s going to be.” the rest of us kind of have to go along with it…. mostly. The process of creating new laws and amending the governing documents of our nation are in place to prevent one person from calling all the shots. Committees with interests on both sides of a debate are usually consulted. In the case of the most recent presidential decrees, many of which have been cause for alarm, we see clearly what happens when one person making decisions with limited or just plain inaccurate information, can cause a cluster. Let’s look, for instance at the “travel ban” as the media refers to it (aka the Executive order Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States) and what’s wrong with it.

Section 1.  Purpose.  The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.  Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.  And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

First off, the documents the terrorist attacks of September 11 and touches on the adjustments America made afterwards. The entire reason we haven’t had another attack of this magnitude is because we did increase the hoops that have to be jumped through to get into this country and we’ve increased the timeline for someone coming in to a two year vetting process. On top of that, none of the countries on the banned list are those these terrorists were from. At the time of this attack, we wanted people from those countries here because typically, Arabian tourists spend a LOT of money here so we weren’t really all that strict about who we let in.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

The truth is, foreign born individuals have attacked the United States before and after 9/11. To be exact, we’ve had 154 terrorists actions in the US between 1975 and 2015. According to the Cato institute, 19 were Saudi Arabian, 14 were Pakistani, 11 were Cuban and 9 were Croatian. Some of those overlap. All the others were 6 or less from other countries. 4 of those Arabs were part of the 9/11 attacks. Deaths cause in those attacks tell an even more disturbing story with 2369 caused by Saudi Arabians between 1975 and 2015, 314 due to foreign nationals from the United Arab Emirates, 162 from Egypt, and 159 from Lebanon. All the other countries listed are single digits or 0. Mexico, incidentally, is 0. It’s also important to note that 2983 of the 3024 murders committed by foreign born terrorists were on 9/11. The Bush administration increased the immigrant guidelines twice. When the Obama administration increased the vetting guidelines and lengthened the process for the third time, they released an infographic to explain the process so we know how it works and it does work. Only three people have been arrested in connection to terrorism plots that came out of the Refugee Admission Program. Two of them were Iraqi refugees arrested on suspicion of planning to send weapons to insurgents in 2011… these are the Bowling Green Brothers (there was no massacre). The third was Uzbek and was arrested for conspiring to obtain materials for bomb making to carry out an attack on US soil.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

The problem is that the ban only effects Muslim majority countries which makes us,look like we’re picking out a specific religious / ethnic group. This negates the language condemning bigotry and religious persecution. The line was included, seemingly, as lipservice. This is one of the major problems liberals have with this order.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

Section 2 is simply stating intent which is, at first glance, a noble goal for any administrative action. If, however, this was the intent, we would have blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Trump has said he didn’t want to alienate “…business people and lawyers…” who were traveling. If you’re going to do a thing, don’t show favoritism. If you’re going to hurt people who can’t afford it, hurt those who can equally. It shows that he’s favoring business interests.

Sec. 3.  Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

This calls into question the current vetting policies put in place by the Bush and Obama administrations which has significantly curtailed terrorist threat. It’s creating a problem to solve. This is the straw man argument in the action. “We’re going to make people who’ve been vetted, be vetted again because we can and it will make us look like we’re doing something.”

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

Again – complicated language to say “We want to look at these people who were already vetted because we don’t trust the process.” It’s creating more problems to solve.

(c)  To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

This was a restatment of the initial purpose of the order and says that diplomats, NATO reps, and several other visa types are unaffected but “…immigrants and nonimmigrants…” are not allowed in for a 90 day period. That’s a broad stroke and could apply to people living in the US with green cards and student visas. 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a) refers to the “countries of concern” mentioned in the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention act which limited travel of people with already issued visas from countries on a watch list in response to the San Bernardino shootings. It only effected those in the Visa Waiver program, not average travelers or people trying to move here from specific countries. It was supposed to limit the visa waiver program and the Trump administration has used it to block Muslim travelers who have already been granted papers to be here.

(d)  Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

This is about what we’re going to be asking other countries to provide. We’re asking other countries to send documentation that has already been provided in the original vetting process because, again, we don’t trust ourselves.

(e)  After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

Provision for adding more countries to add to the list in case they missed some “ bad hombres” in the initial banning. It also continues to exclude NATO and other government visas.

(f)  At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

Lets add some more!

(g)  Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

In this section, we’re now saying we will grant visas to people from blocked countries on a case by case basis once the Trump round of vetting is completed. This is a way to open the borders back up selectively.

(h)  The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

This is a pretty standard business tactic. Basically, the administration wants an update on how well this is working out in 30, 60, 90, and 120 days after the order. There are thousands of refugees and other immigrants to go through the second vetting process, many of whom were sentenced to death when they were denied entry into this country. Those left are still too many for the departments directed to handle them. It shows unrealistic goal setting.

It goes on from here. I’m not going to go through the whole thing in that detail, but I have read it all and it’s pathetic from a purely objective point of view. It was slapped together too quickly and doesn’t accomplish what it sets out to. Section 4 says three different intelligence departments should put together a vetting program and a central database with reports to the president on how well we’re doing 30, 100, and 200 days after the order. We did that already under Bush and it’s managed by Homeland Security. Section 5 eviscerates the refugee admission program in place and doesn’t provide for what should replace it. Instead, it adds departmental oversight without provision for the current program. It goes on to limit Syrian refugees, the 50,000 originally slated, effectively to 0 and says those 50,000 will not be allowed in until “…I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.” That’s not the president’s job and it is not clear it is within his rights as President. Further, this section goes on to say that the Secretary of State and the Director of Homeland Security have the right to ignore the entire document and let whoever they choose in…. on a case by case basis. Claims of religious-persecution are to be prioritized by the secretary of state and reported to the President. One thing in section 5 that is not limiting, is language in sub section g allowing states more freedom or at least…. the promise of greater freedom….. at some point….. eventually…. maybe.

Section 6 tries to broaden the definitions used in INA Act 212 about terrorism and eliminates rights there in granted. It didn’t accomplish much if I’m reading the act correctly and basically says “We’ll look into it”.

Section 7 talks about Biometric tracking of people coming and going. It’s been on the table for a while, but this act fast tracks it and aside form it seeming a little 1984-ish, it’s not a bad idea.

Section 8 is a problem. In person visa interviews are ideal, but they can’t always happen. In many countries, visa interviews are done on secured sites out of their countries. We don’t do that. We force people to come to us instead of going to them of bringing them to us. It limits immigrants to only those able to make multiple trips and that’s not financially feasible for many immigrants. It also provides more Consular jobs and includes foreign language training and increases the length of service for people in the Consular Fellows Program to lower visa interview wait times. Also not a bad idea.

Section 9 says we’re not giving visas to people who won’t give us visas. Section 10 makes our databases public. As Americans, we have a lot of info that’s public record. This would be public record for immigrants. There are good and bad points that could be argued on this. Our information on terrorists, terrorist activity, who’s been removed from the country because of terrorism, etc, would all be public.

In an age where there is so much opinion put forth as news, where people have hair triggers on their twitter feeds and other social media, and in a country that has been divided by fear and rhetoric, I urge each and every person to read the orders coming out of the oval office. It is important to question and not just digest the material fed to you. Do your own research before becoming outraged. Then get something done.

Chickens and Shrooms

Chickens are bad ass. They taste delicious, but that’s not the only reason. I recently watched a Top Tenz video on You Tube (Simon Whistler, do you ever sleep?) and the topic was the noble chicken. Among the factoids were some things I found interesting… terrifying…. interifying.

First off, chickens are vicious. I mean, I knew that already having done some research into chicken farming. I know, “Why?” right?. Anyway, chickens were originally bread for their viciousness, not their taste. That came later. There are stories about ancient man using chickens as combatant examples. A Spartan general even pumped up his men with a cock fight showing how a chicken fights to win. I don’t condone making one animal fight another animal for sport. They just tend to attack anything covered in blood. I’m not kidding.

Next up, A chicken can change lay an egg inside another egg. It’s called an xzibit and it’s a larger egg containing a fully formed egg inside. There can be another inside of that one. Eggception. It is a much larger egg so I can only feel sorry for the chicken who lays it.

Finally, the devil is afraid of a rooster’s crow. Yep, the chicken can scare off evil with a shriek according to history. Not mentioned in the video, they can also ward off Basilisks and turn them to stone. I wonder why they left that out… it’s a pretty awesome chicken fact.

This was a great video and it gives me a little more respect for Chickens as an animal. I’m still going to eat these little bad asses, but respect. Also, I’m going to hypnotize one the next time I see one.

Finally, on a non-chicken-related note, my wife and I went to a mushroom talk and nature walk at Walter B Jacobs nature park yesterday and I took some video. Enjoy.

Social interest in a concept…. You bet.

“Why is there a social interest in the concept of doing this?” – Hankerin Feranale

The first post of the year…. Welcome to 2017 everyone. I don’t usually do the who “New year new me” thing and this year is not all that different. I decided to start Tai Chi which I’ve done a little bit of before….. on VHS no less. A parting gift from 2016, a twisted knee that might need an MRI, is keeping me from it. While I’ve been recuperating, I’ve been watching some videos on modeling dioramas. Technically, the guy I’ve been watching, Luke Towan at Boulder Creek Railroad, is modeling HO gauge train layouts, but to me… it’s about the diorama.

From there I looked at the different scales. There are several used in model train collecting from the tiny N gauge to to O that’s bigger than, say match box cars and up. I’m developing interest in HO (half O) to S which is more along the lines of table top RPG and table top war games. While looking into that vein of the interest, I found Mel, the Terrain Tutor, who does professional layouts for war games that are spectacular and, perhaps, attainable for me to attempt.

Because of the scale comparisons and the mention of table top RPG (S being close to most of your standard table top minis), my nerd nerve…. Nerdve? … was starting to tingle. I remember the days of table top RPG and a long while back, I started developing my own RPG system. I stumbled across Hankerin Feranale over at Drunkens & Dragons, and Jeremy Pillipow at Black Magic Craft and both of whom use modular foam crafted dungeon systems that are just incredible to look at. If nothing else, I’m going to make some of these tiles just to have them. At any rate, they’ve made me consider finding a random group of people to game with.

Thinking about that, I am reminded that my wife wouldn’t play and she says most of our current friends wouldn’t play, so that leaves me squarely no where…. or in a room full of creepy or perhaps socially awkward strangers. I know, stereotypes. Most RPGs these days are not for beginners anyway. Hell, I’ve been looking up the manuals and most of the games some friends I know who still do play are playing seem like they’re written in a foreign language. My buddy Joe said his current group probably wouldn’t even know what a THACO was much less how to calculate it so maybe the new games aren’t harder, just different.

In the mean time, I have an idea of doing a diorama of a drive in movie theater in S scale with a working movie screen run by a raspberry pi. I’ll let you know if I get any of these things accomplished.