Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paranoia Will Destroy Us

I'm not exactly sure when President Trump signed the travel ban.  It seems like it might have been Friday evening but I didn't really hear about it until sometime Saturday.  I saw snippets that something was going on as I updated basketball stuff on Twitter but I couldn't really followup until I got home last night.  Then I found out that Trump signed an executive order to stop immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.  He said that this would be in effect for 90 days while they looked at the immigration policy.  He also said that it was being done in order to protect the United States from terrorism.  It appears that this ban would also affect green card holders, people who have already filed for and received visas and will stop people from getting visas in the near future.

Almost immediately there were people protesting this and it didn't take long for some Federal judges issuing a temporary stay for at least the people with permanent residence status.  I'm not sure if that also impacts people who have already been approved for visas.  So basically people that were either returning home or traveling to what they hoped would be their new home were stopped at the airport and either detained or told to go back to their respective countries.  To me that seems cruel and misguided.  I also think that it will do little to improve the security of this country as it plays right into the hand of our enemies.

Since it doesn't include Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it doesn't address all of the countries where recent terrorist attacks have originated.  Not that I think it should but it does seem to address only a partial list.

When asked about it, Trump stated the need for further vetting.  Given that the above listed countries were already on various watch lists, they are already pretty vetted when applying for visas.  I just read an article about Iraqis that worked as interpreters and guides for the US military had to wait at least two years before getting their visa.  In order to apply for said visa, they needed to jump through all sorts of hoops.  One of those hoops includes a vetting from the various US intelligence agencies working separately.  If there wasn't unanimous approval, that person would be denied a visa.  They also had to have testimony from at least two members of the unit they served with.

As for the refugees, that is an even harder visa to obtain.  If you end up going to one of the refugee camps, there is no guarantee that you will even make it to the United States.  Prior to being granted refugee status, you are vetted by whatever agency that runs the camp you are in.  If you decide that you want to leave, they pick the country you will be headed to.  If that country happens to be the United States, I believe you go through the process above.  So it seems to me that if you were a terrorist, this would be the last method you would want to use.

As for safety, if you look at the terrorist numbers since 9/11, you have a better chance of getting killed on your way to work.  Also, you have just as much control of that situation.  Yet, I don't hear about any extreme measures for that situation.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of all of this.  I get that terrorism is a serious threat but I also get that if someone is determined enough, they will figure out a way.  From what I heard, this is the beginning and if we start banning other countries, what will alienating potential allies help?  And for that matter, where does it stop?  Do we start banning people from other countries because they've let refugees in?

So you ask about the fallout shelter sign?  Well, I grew up in the 70's and 80's under the specter of a nuclear war.  As I began to understand the dynamics, it started to scare me less.  If an SS-20 isn't going to scare me, why should I be scared of some boogie man with a knife or a gun?

Now as for the other big executive order.  I think the border wall is even more wrongheaded.  First of all, there is the matter of how it is going to be funded.  I don't know how many ways the Mexican government can say they aren't going to pay for it, but I'm pretty sure that they are not going to pay for it.  Imposing a tariff on goods from Mexico would still mean that we would pay for it through the increase in prices on those products.  Not to mention, if Trump makes good on one of his other promises, that may dry up.  Also, it does nothing to address the other sources of illegal immigration.

I'm not sure what a 2000 mile wall would cost, but I imagine it would not be cheap.  I think I've heard the 5 billion dollar number thrown around.  I'm pretty sure that is only the cost to build the wall and probably doesn't include the recurring cost of manning and maintaining said wall.  That probably wouldn't come cheap either.  So basically, we'd be committing ourselves to a huge investment.

Now as for the effectiveness.  Roughly 200,000 people were able to leave East Germany.  40,000 of those escapes were direct escapes over the wall.  The other 160,000 were through other means.  Unless we were willing to do what the East Germans would do, I don't think our wall would be more effective.  Also, there are other means besides the land that people can enter this country if they wanted to or are we going to put a wall around every shore as well?

Anyway, give our other priorities, I would like to know where they are going to find the resources for this wall

I don't think we are going to win the war on terrorism by giving up our basic values as a country.  The Constitution doesn't say anything about citizens, it only says people.  I would assume that means it's protections extend to anyone that is here.  There are many ways that we don't live up to those ideals, but I would hate to see one more added to the list.

Dashing Through the Snow on the Amtrak Wolverine...

There was a little bit of snow last night and I didn't really feel like doing much, so I decided to get some pictures of the Wolverine.
 One of the maintenance of way vehicles covered in snow.
 The other one.
 It wasn't too long before the Wolverine appeared.  I kind of like catching it after there is a snowfall.
 It generally kicks up quite a bit of snow which makes it look pretty dramatic.
 And it gets a little closer.
And because of the way air flows, it kicks up up a fair amount behind it.

At the Toledo Basketball Games

So I went down to Toledo to catch a double header of basketball.  I wanted to get some shots of the women's game for the other blog that I shoot for but I figured since it was a doubleheader, I might as well get the men's game too.  Surprisingly, neither game involved Eastern Michigan which made it feel weird but I did enjoy myself anyway.
 Somebody played the guitar for the Star Spangled Banner and it sounded pretty cool.  Not quite as cool as Jimi Hendrix's version, but not bad.
 There was about the same number of banners on the other side. 
 This was probably my favorite shot of the game.  To see the other shots, go to Hustle Belt.
 The Toledo coach yelling directions to the players.
 These guys are known as the Blue Crew.  I'm not sure if they are officially endorsed by the school but I see them at every Toledo game I go to.  I think it's pretty cool that they have a group like this.
 The Northern Illinois coach directing traffic for his team.  The Huskies would end up winning.
 The dance team during one of the time outs.
 The cheerleaders bringing the flags out.
 The cheerleaders in sort of a pyramid. 
 Like I said above, I ended up staying for the women's game.  Surprisingly, it was alot better than the men's game.  There were several lead changes and it was competitive up to the last second.
 The Toledo dance team.
 The Toledo coach in disbelief at one of the plays.
 And the same from the Central coach.
This player would end up getting 33 points but it was a losing effort as the Chippewas fells to the Rockets.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Planewatching in the Light Snow

I ended up going down to Toledo today for the Toledo Men's and Women's Basketball games.  Prior to heading down there, I decided to get in a little bit of planewatching.
 We started with a 737-800 belonging to Delta.  It was arriving from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Sadly, it didn't bring any warm weather with it.
 As I type this post, this plane is now on its way to San Francisco from Atlanta.
 This Embrear 175 belongs to Republic Airlines, but it is flying in American Express colors.
 I'm not sure where this MD-88 was coming from as I don't have a good angle for its tail number.
 But I do like these planes.
 I stuck around long enough to catch Virgin Atlantic Flight 107 from London.
 This is a daily flight.
 And it's kind of cool.
 This ERJ-145 was coming in from LaGuardia.
 And this Airbus A320 was coming in from Orlando.  It would then go to Kansas City.
 I stuck around to catch Delta Flight 99 from Paris.
It was pretty neat.  I kind of wish I would have had more time because I could have caught the 767.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Twilight Planewatching

It was kind of flurrying tonight, so I decided to head over to the airport to try to get some weather shots.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it because it was getting darker.
 Well, I did make it in time and the first plane was this 757 arriving from Cancun.  It was the 757 that helped make my decision for me.  I kind of like the way the shaft of light shines out.
 It was starting to get pretty cold because it was also pretty windy.  I think I would like to do this again but with a little more light and maybe a little more weather.
 I probably should use manual settings on this sort of thing to.  Might help me get more consistent light.  I didn't realize how bright landing lights were.
 One more shot of the 757.
 I was thinking of leaving, but this Jet Blue Airbus A320 was right behind the 757.  I think I really like this shot, just wish it weren't so grainy.
 This particular aircraft was arriving from Boston.
 The side shot.
 Next up was an Embrear 175 belonging to American Eagle.
 I can't tell you where this plane was coming from because I can't quite make out the tail number.
At any rate, I was happy I made it to the airport.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ball State Basketball at Eastern Michigan

I went to the Eastern Michigan basketball game on Tuesday night.  Unfortunately the game started at 9:00 which meant I didn't get home until almost midnight.  Last night I posted my pictures on Hustle Belt of the game itself after celebrating a friend's birthday.  So I finally got around to posting pictures not from the game here.  As always, I will post the other pictures from the game and my favorite from the game.  If you want to see shots of the game, go to the link above.
 A shot of the Eastern Michigan flag before the game.  I kind of like the way in looks against the dark sky.
 One of the nice things about the late game was that I got there early enough to get some shots of the teams practicing.  One of the Ball State players dunking.
 I think this was their main player.
 I forget who this was.
 Tim Bond dunking.  He would get a couple decent dunks during the game.
 Swoop before the game.
 A shot of the Basketball Band and the Dance Team during the opening game ceremonies.
 Ball State's head coach.  For some reason, he reminds me of Joe Isuzu.
 His actual name is James Whitford and he's been at Ball State since 2013.    His record through the end of last year was 31-58 and his best season was last year when he went 21-14.  He ended up in a tie for first place in the MAC West and then made it to the CIT quarterfinals.
 He actually seems like a good coach and it also seems like he has Eastern's number.
 The Eastern Michigan cheerleaders.
 I should try to get more shots of the coach during the game.  They can get pretty emotional.
 Some of the students that made it to the game.
 The EMU Dance team again.
 One of the cheerleaders.
 Another of the cheerleaders.
 I tried to get a shot of the basket during a free thrown.  Fortunately the Eastern player made it.
 Another shot of the Dance Team.
 I think Murphy was asking why it wasn't a foul on his side.
And my favorite shot of the game.  After a pretty flat start, Eastern Michigan ended up losing 88-80.  They almost made a game of it but it was too little too late.  Hopefully they can turn things around when they make the trip to Athens, OH to play Miami.