Line in the Sand

In February 2016 Donald Trump emphatically told the world, "I'd bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

I've previously stated how unacceptable the use of torture is by our country.

So here's my line in the sand:

I am a software developer supporting the mission of counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  I am a member of the Intelligence Community.  If Trump reinstates the use of torture by American personnel I will resign from my job in the Intelligence Community in protest.

If we come to such a point, I may keep working at the Lab, but I will not work on intelligence projects and have my efforts in any way used in support of such despicable behavior.

Waterboarding is torture.  Anything "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding" is torture.  I will not spend my time and energy on projects that imply that such treatment of prisoners is acceptable.

We should be better than that.

I am better than that.

What do you stand for?  What is your line in the sand?

Worry, Concern, and Hope

I worry.

I worry the country will be a worse place when my girls grow up.

I worry our nation will blind itself to its faults.

I worry that anger and violence will increase.

 

I recognize that surrounding every atrocity has been a society of good people quietly saying, "That will never happen here.  We're better than that.  Let's just keep our heads down and get through this."

How does one find a balance between wariness, activism, fear, and over-reaction?

I don't know.

Are people in the U.S. currently over-reacting to President-elect Trump's language, decisions, and actions?  I hope so.  For it to be an over-reaction means things aren't really as bad as they might seem.

Four years ago I wrote about the dangers of nationalism.  That post is more relevant now that it was then.  Please go read it.

I am greatly concerned that President-elect Trump regularly, publicly attacks, demeans, and insults any opposition to his actions or opinions.  No one likes being the subject of public ridicule and I am concerned people will keep their mouths shut to avoid this treatment rather than oppose him.

I am concerned that dissent will be suppressed.

I am concerned that President-elect Trump seems to be gathering a body of "loyalists" to surround him in Washington rather than competent and qualified individuals (even if I disagree with their views).

I am concerned that many people no longer feel safe going about their day.

I am concerned that an elected State Representative was harassed and berated for her religion and ethnicity during a cab ride in the nation's capital.

I am concerned that the next few years may be marked by conflict escalation between Trump supporters and opponents.

I am concerned that the next 20 years in the United States may subject us to some type of nationalistic violence within our borders.

 

I hope these concerns are unfounded.

I hope for peaceful dissent and respectful disagreement.

I hope for a nation that can recognize it has faults even if we disagree on how to fix them.

I hope the country is a better place for my girls when they grow up.

I hope.

2016 Family Adventure - Part 8: Returning Home

On Friday, October 21st, Heather helped Grandma make sugar cookies and we went over to Dinosaur State Park and sifted out some fossils and rocks in the sluice.

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On the 22nd we had a farewell lunch at Dairy Queen:

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On our trip back, during our layover in Chicago, the weather was clear and we went up in to the Willis Tower.  Up to the 103rd floor to go stand out in a box of glass:

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Then a couple more days on the train:

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Heather woke up early 25th in desperate need of something to read.  So she read the passenger safety card:

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As we prepared to arrive back in Martinez we ventured out to the observation car, which was oddly deserted at this time.  I guess not many people take the train into Emeryville since the observation car is usually packed.

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And with that, our trip was over.  We loaded back up in the van and drove home.2016-connecticut-travel-map

2016 Family Adventure - Part 7: Castle Craig

Okay, let's clear this up immediately, "Castle" Craig is a lie.  It should be "Tower Craig" or something, but I didn't name it.  It's a little tower built up on the side of a mountain in Meriden, CT.  But it has a great view and we got nice colors from the leaves.  I don't have much else to say about it, but it makes me miss New England.  I mean, just look a these pictures!  Trees!  Everywhere!  They just grow all on their own without being carefully tended and watered!

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Just pretend that guy in the red shirt isn't there...2016-10-20_12-28-01 2016-10-20_12-30-38 2016-10-20_12-31-23 2016-10-20_12-46-24

After visiting the "castle" we had pizza at a local pizzeria before heading back to Cromwell.

2016 Family Adventure - Part 6: Newport, RI

On October 19 Mom agreed to watch the girls and Jess and I went to Newport, RI to see the "summer cottages" of the Gilded Age.  When we got to town we first stopped for some lunch at the Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant.  After lunch, while walking back to the car to drive to the mansions we walked by a little art gallery and popped in.  We really liked some of the pieces and the prices seemed reasonable for actual oil paintings, so we decided to buy a few and have them shipped home.

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The big one is about 40"x30" as framed.  The little ones are about 15"x13" as framed.

Despite the proprietor's claim, I'm pretty sure they're not local-artist works, but instead probably come from somewhere like Dafen Village in China which mass produces oil paintings.  We like them regardless.

Then we were off to the Breakers, built by the Vanderbilts.  Ostentatious is probably an understatement.  Every light fixture is wired for electrical and plumbed for gas.  Materials were imported from around the world so that every surface is just perfect.  The extravagance rivals the Palace of Versailles (though on a much smaller scale, Versailles is about six times larger).

The great hall: 2016-10-19_14-17-06

The dining room, I believe:2016-10-19_14-21-28 2016-10-19_14-22-59

Some unidentified room: 2016-10-19_14-34-16

The kitchen, naturally: 2016-10-19_15-05-32

The front of the house: 2016-10-19_15-12-23

After the Breakers we headed over to the Elms for their Servant Life Tour.  I believe this tour was developed in response to the popularity of Downton Abbey with lots of people suddenly wanting to know more about how the servants lived in these mansions.

We went through the servants' quarters upstairs, which are actually fairly large.  Then out on the roof before going down to the kitchen, storage areas, mechanical rooms, etc.

Outside before the tour, because who doesn't want a sphinx to greet their visitors? 2016-10-19_15-22-02 2016-10-19_15-25-06

The view from the roof (up on a platform to see over the wall that hides the servants' quarters from view):2016-10-19_16-08-36

The coal dump:2016-10-19_16-23-23

Every house should have an underground coal delivery rail system:2016-10-19_16-24-23

Jess posing with the pastry chef:2016-10-19_16-33-33

The back of the house that overlooks the rest of the property:2016-10-19_16-41-31

After the Elms we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panera and headed on back to Cromwell.