Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lemme get this straight (but maybe I won't)


Obama has just decided to end the GWOT (Global War on Terror) and advocate imprisoning instead for continued covert operations outside the Geneva conventions and American law.

And he is advocating for the sunset of the war powers act.

Um...

Why does this feel like a sleight of hand trick?

Here's the thing--limiting executive power is good.  Putting it up to public scrutiny, not just governmental checks and balances is better.

By giving the military and executive power up to traditional checks and balances, we can rest easier.

By opting for a covert approach, free of judicial oversight, we continue to violate our own principles.

Sure military is bad, but having a spy agency run the operations?  There isn't even the semblance of legality.

Maybe I missed something but it doesn't appear Obama is actually looking to legislation that would limit his power.

Aside from asking for the War Powers Act to expire.

I don't know what the end game is, but if Obama trends this way I will become happier.

Let me put it this way.  The Executive was supposed to be weak; vested with only a few powers.  Under every administration it has grown steadily.  I would like to see a righting of that skew.

I would also like to see Congress be functional.

And the Judicial to stop contorting itself in its decisions.

And pigs to fly.

So forgive me for being cynical, but a lot more needs to change than the end to the GWOT.

For GPa


Grandpa hated that we called it his man cave. We were surprised that we hadn't come up with the term sooner. It was a room filled with fragments of his life.

His printer was never broken; he never read the directions I wrote for him.

He idly let his teeth chomp. It didn't bother him, he couldn't hear it.

He unceremoniously changed our cartoons to his sports, and never sat in any chair but his own.

He spoke sparingly; a gruff voice I emulated for the high school play.

He couldn't fly R/C helicopters.

If I mentioned I liked something of his he gave it to me. Once, I liked a suede jacket that my dad was angling for, and grandpa gave it to me instead.

He gave me a belt once. Years later, he forgot he had and almost stole it back from me.

He would wander into the kitchen in the morning with his feet shuffling, his chicken legs sticking out of his boxers, and his hair sticking straight up.

He liked warm rooms and always had a space heater going.

He was an excellent photographer, and regularly transformed his back porch into a national geographic cover.

He took a photo every Christmas of the family. One year we all took portraits.  He captured us perfectly in those shots--every year.

When grandma refused to buy Kleenex anymore there was almost always a roll of toilet paper on his person.

He would sneak treats to the dogs.

He would move between interests like a curious child, taking in the minute details with a simple wonderment.  Sometimes, in his excitement, he would forget big things--like how to transfer photos, or charge a battery.

He loved getting packages in the mail.

My cousins and I would joke about going to prison when he would emerge from the basement, point at me, and say, "I need some help, the printer's broken."

They'd look at me and say, "see you in a few hours."  Sometimes that was true.  At the time it was a pain, but now I would give anything to spend a couple hours at the computer with him.  Sitting there quietly, carefully adjusting a photo for a while.  Printing the photo, wrong at first, then with a few more adjustments, just right.

I'm going to really miss him.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sub-syndromal SAD

I am not, I repeat, am not diagnosing myself.

But I am saying that I have noticed a much improved mood, motivation, and general affect since the weather got nice here.

Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is characterized by depressive episodes occurring chiefly in winter or summer and not accompanied by other unrelated ones.  Subsyndromal SAD is a similar and more mild form with a measurable prevalence in the United States, especially northern latitudes.

It is normal to experienced decreased mood, lethargy, and lower energy during the winter months and SAD is often misdiagnosed in these cases.  Most people experience these symptoms and think nothing of it.

Common treatments, aside from prescription drugs, include exercise, positive and negative thought behavior therapies, event scheduling, diet change, and light therapy.

As someone who experiences a definite alteration in my thinking and habits during the winter, I must be aware that combatting common depressive symptoms is an effective remedy for non-SAD affected individuals.

Or, to be less technical.  Seeing friends, exercising, and good positive routines.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

George Hara

Grandpa passed away today.

I wore black today.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The only problem I have with the movie Battle Los Angeles


Other than the weak acting and Aaron Eckhart's seeming invincibility is the fact that there are plenty of uninhabited moons in the solar system with more and better resources.

Enceladus has tons of water.  No need to invade Earth if that's what they want.

Think about that.

A More Prime Directive


So, the prime directive states more or less that once an alien civilization has reached a certain threshold for technological advancement--particularly with space travel capability--other alien civilizations may contact them, but any "primitive" civilization must remain untouched.



In Star Trek this all revolves around warp capability.



Whatever.



What would be the real conditions for contacting an alien civilization?  My contention is that this revolves around danger.



When a race of aliens poses an existential threat to other alien races, that would be cause for intervention.  In another sense, it is in the best interests of an alien race to remain hidden until they are sufficiently threatened that they must annihilate said threat or risk detection via other means.



Staying hidden from other aliens keeps a civilization alive unless they are safely technologically superior.  This is basic to how civilizations interact.



For mankind that means two things.  One, we don't want to find aliens.  Two, we can't make contact until we are sufficiently advanced that nothing else could pose an existential threat.  That means we need to harness huge amounts of energy from the solar system before trying to make contact with another alien race.



Tough call though.  By building for a military engagement that may never come we are only expending huge amounts of resources in a potentially useless area.  And we could be unintentionally provoking an engagement with an alien race.