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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thought for Today


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Freaky Friday News: April 13, 2017

 

North Carolina Not Banning Same Sex Marriage

"Um, neither is my state, so why is this news?" you ask.  

Earlier this week, three conservative Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representative introduced House Bill 780, entitled "Uphold Historical Marriage Act".  You can read it for yourself here.  Basically, the bill states that the Supreme Court does not have the constitutional right to make same sex marriages legal and so North Carolina does not recognize the 2015 ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges, and that the state will neither perform same sex marriages nor recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

But wait before you panic or get too upset.  North Carolina House Speaker, Republican Tim Moore issued this statement:
There are strong constitutional concerns with this legislation given that the U.S. Supreme Court has firmly ruled on the issue, therefore House Bill 780 will be referred to the House Rules Committee and will not be heard.
In other words, the bill is dead on arrival.


Burger King Attempts to Use OK Google for Promo

Spoiler Alert:  It didn't work.

You might recall in 2014 how an Xbox One commercial accidentally turned the machine on.  Or how Amazon's Alexa goes off in the middle of "Castle" episodes because Castle's daughter shares the same name.

Someone at Burger King decided to use the listening feature of Google Home to get a longer promo on their YouTube ads.


This might seem smart, but it failed in a major way.  First, astute geeks went to Wikipedia (where Google Home goes to get this information) and changed the ingredients of the Whopper to include toenail clippings and a medium-sized child.  Burger King caught wind of the changes, and had the page locked down with a normal description.

But by that time Google heard about this little ploy, and released an update to Home that fixes the problem.  Google Home now just ignores the commercial.

I wonder if the man in the commercial can ask the question in real life and get an answer.  Or if Google Home will ignore that question for him for eternity.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Syria: Another Possible Solution

Credit:  Hassan Ammar/AP
There is another solution to the problems in Syria.  It is simple in concept but hard to imagine.  Easy to begin, but possibly harder in the long term.  

Save the people of Syria by bringing them here.

We have the room.  We even have a place for them to stay.  It's called Detroit, and the city has empty houses, empty apartments, and a basic infrastructure already in place.  Think about it.  Detroit needs more citizens, Syrian people need new homes.  If the government is smart, it can jump start new business opportunities here.

And it's not just Detroit that suffered from the recent housing crisis and from the changes in manufacturing.  There are towns all over the U.S. who could use an infusion of new people, new ideas, and new money.  We know that immigrants and immigration have an overall positive effect economically on host countries (see links below).  It's is literally a win-win for everyone.

It would be relative easy to accomplish, because in all honest the U.S. military kicks butt.  The Army can go in, set up airstrips, and fly in huge cargo planes.  The Air Force can provide air coverage with A-10s.  The Marines can locate pockets of people in need and help them get to safety (and our airplanes).  

No, I don't think we can evacuate all 18 million people currently estimated to be living in Syria.  But we need to save who we can.

After all, it's that what the United States is about?  Extending a helping hand to people in need and welcoming immigrants?

Or, as it says on the plaque at the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, 
your poor, 
your huddled masses 
yearning to breathe free, 
the wretched refuse
of your teeming shore. 
Send these, 
the homeless, 
tempest-tossed to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
(From "New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, 1883)




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Syria: An Alternative to War

For the past six years, the world has watched the civil war in Syria turn a prosperous and beautiful country into a wasteland of destruction akin to what you find in post-apocalyptic movies and video games.  Discussion about what to do, how outside countries and people can and should respond, swirl through the ethos as more and more Syrians die.

Before and After: Hotel Carlton Entrance
From Olympia Restaurant

Bashar al-Assad, 2015
from Wikipedia
After the recent chemical attacks on the town of Khan Shaykhun, President Trump ordered a retaliatory strike against the Syria government's Shayrat Air Base.  While it made a statement at that moment, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad bombed Khan Shaykhun again less than 48 hours later.

Nothing seems to have been accomplished by the missile strikes.

So is there something else that can be done?

There are more options that either to attack or not to attack.  A little bit of negotiating can go a long way, as can diplomacy.  First, we need to ask ourselves what we want.  Is it more important to stop the civil war and save human lives?  Or is it more important to punish President Assad?

I believe it is more important to save human lives.  But President Assad has proven time and again that he is not just stepping down.  Clearly, someone needs to do something about the situation.  The U.S. is not on speaking terms with the current Syrian government.  But you know who is?

Russia.

An American diplomat (or other government representative) could speak privately to Vladimir Putin and tell him that the war in Syria has gotten out of control, and that the U.S. wants Assad gone.  Then arrange for Russia to offer Assad and his family asylum in exchange for something Putin wants - to look powerful on the world stage.

Publicly, go to the United Nations and tell Russia that someone needs to intercede in Syria and take out Assad.  Russia can respond with "no but we will remove him and give him asylum".  The U.S. can throw a fake fit, but Putin can stand strong.  Assad gets removed; Putin wins points; and the U.S. doesn't have to take more military action.  Instead, we can help the Syrian people rebuild.