The Division: Game Feasibility

I posted a review of The Division earlier. The game plays quite well and if you’re looking for an FPS to play with your friends then The Division should fill that hole nicely.

The plot though!

The plot is barebones, with most of it being shown to the player in hidden conversations between NPCs throughout the game instead of directly telling you what’s going on (a good story device!).

In the game an evil scientist has altered the small pox virus to be extremely lethal and resistant to treatment. Continue reading

Obama Asking Congress for War with ISIS

Looks like I’m going to write something political again because today President Obama asked the US Congress to declare war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

ISIS is a group that grew out of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq. Since its impossible to truly wipe out a terrorist group, they continued to operate during US occupation and after Bin Laden’s assassination.

When the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011, ISIS took advantage of the situation and moved into eastern Syria.

ISIS has since absorbed or eliminated most of the other rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War, making the Civil War essentially a fight between Assad’s forces and ISIS.

The US has been providing training and weapons among other things to the original Syria government led by Assad.

The US has also been helping Assad with bombing raids and drone strikes on ISIS targets.

That’s about the limit of aid Obama can provide without going to war. The congressional acts that allow the war on terror don’t allow the President to deploy soldiers directly on the battlefield in Syria without a declaration of war from Congress.

Obama is now asking for that declaration.

Congress has said they will debate it and the discussion could take months.

Congress has been quick to declare war in the past when the President requests it, making the very existence of debate a sign that the USA probably won’t go to war.

And I don’t think we should be going to war with ISIS.

There are good reasons for going to war against ISIS. The group/country’s leaders are despotic theocrats.

Among the traditional offenses such a regime commits they’ve also made the Arabic acronym for ISIS, DAESH, illegal to pronounce as one word. You have to sound it out D-A-E-S-H. This is because Daesh is similar to the Arabic verb for “crushing opponents” which makes the regime sound evil? And what better way to not seem evil than to whip people who dare to pronounce your country’s acronym incorrectly! -_-

Going to war against ISIS could also lay the groundwork for forming the nation of Kurdistan for the Kurd population in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The Kurds have long been discriminated against either directly or through gerrymandering as a racial minority in the other countries, but that could change if they were given their own country.

So all that stuff is well and good. The UN is involved for those reasons.

But why is the USA involved? What do we get for declaring war on ISIS?

Well, we help out US allies, Iraq and Israel by keeping the region temporarily stable around them.

But we have allies for reasons right? What do Israel and Iraq give us in exchange for this help?

Well… As far as I can tell, they give us space to build military bases so that we can keep a presence in the Middle East region. And that presence is needed so that we can protect Israel and Iraq.

Wait, what?

I’m sure there are other reasons besides that, but that’s how it looks to me.

Another issue with helping the Syrian government is that we are helping Assad, a hereditary dictator. We call him President of Syria instead of King of Syria because it is polite to do so, not because he actually won any fair election to the presidential office.

Our continued presence in the Middle East helps root out terrorist organizations, but it also helps to create them. The US involvement in the Syrian Civil War has been with indiscriminate strikes. As much as we’d like to think that bombs and drones only hit military targets, they still harm more civilians than ISIS militants. And what do those civilians and their families think when the US bombs them? “I hate those Americans! The ISIS people hate them too! Maybe I’ll go join them after all!”

Those are the big points on the topic that I’ve landed on when debating with myself. My opinion is that the USA should not go to war in Syria. In fact, I wish we’d provide less aid to Assad by not bombing or performing drone strikes as those harm civilian lives.

But as with everything political, the situation is more complex than that. Would allowing ISIS to freely take over Syria result in the loss of more civilian life? Maybe.

My ill-informed mind can’t provide all the answers on this topic, so I’d encourage you to learn more on your own by visiting CNN’s website. They have a lot of cool videos that can tell you more.

-GoCorral

July Fourth as a Kid

July 4th was on Friday which for those of you who don’t know, is Independence Day in the USA.

There was a band, picnic, games, and fireworks at a park right near my house.

I went to that with my wife and had a lot of fun.

But I don’t want to write about that today. I want to write about how I used to celebrate July 4th with my mother.

When I was a kid my mom and I always went to a fireworks celebration on July 3rd at the Frost Amphitheater on Stanford campus.

The celebration at Frost Amphitheater happened on July 3rd so that all the people that worked at it could enjoy the real holiday with their own families.

It never mattered much to my mother and me which day we were celebrating July 4th on. One day for a celebration of Independence is as good as another.

The event starts with waiting in line.

There are a few seats that you can reserve, but they were quite expensive. Most people just got lawn tickets.

Lawn tickets don’t come with assigned seating, so the earlier you get there the better your seat is.

We would sit in line for an hour or two with all our picnic stuff, baskets and coolers of food, games, pillows, blankets, etc.

Once inside we’d set up on the lawn and wait for the music to start.

When we first started going the band was usually a giant orchestra that played lots of classical music.

Later on they switched to more popular bands that people could dance to like Cherry Popping Daddies.

I liked the classical music better, but listening to the Cherry Popping Daddies got me interested more and more in swing dancing.

The concert would go on until dark and then the band would announce the fireworks coming up.

The fireworks were set off behind the amphitheater and looked like every other fireworks show.

After the explosions were over everyone packed up their stuff and left, just like every other fireworks show.

They’ve stopped doing the July 3rd event, but I’ve started missing it more and more lately.

Maybe they’ll start it up again next year!

-Mister Ed

Cartoon History

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I said in a previous post that I’m reading the Cartoon History of the Universe Part 3. Here’s the page I’m on now about Japanese civilization.

The Cartoon History series is now complete with five books. The first three are called Cartoon History of the Universe Parts 1-3 and the second two are called Cartoon History of the Modern World Parts 1-2.

The author’s name is Larry Gonick. He does a bunch of other cartoon non-fiction books as well.

I own Larry Gonick’s Cartoon Guide to Physics, Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, and his Cartoon History of the United States.

All his books are funny, informative, and quick to read. You can check out more of them at his simple website, www.larrygonick.com

I started reading the series in third grade when I was homeschooled by my parents.

Only the first two books existed then. I’ve read them cover to cover dozens of times since. This repeated reading is probably why I know so much about ancient history, but a lot less about anything after the fall of Rome.

I showed the books to my father-in-law recently because he was interested in the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empires.

His reaction upon flipping through them was surprise at the vast amount of sex in them.

Gonick doesn’t shy away from portraying the sexual scandals in his books. If sex between two people influenced their actions and their actions affected history, then he includes the sex.

I read the books when I was eight if that matters to anyone.

Gonick also writes a comic feature for the children’s science magazine, Muse. The magazine is written for ages 10-14.

The feature is a page comic of archetypal philosophers from different cultures talking with each other.

The philosophers also fool around and crack jokes in the margins of other articles throughout the magazine.

I’m rereading the later three Cartoon History books now so that I can fill the gaps in my natural recall of different historical periods.

I’ll probably need to reread it another dozen times before my recall of anything past 500AD is perfect, but I’m hoping that I’ll get there!

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed