If you watch World Cup you know this hashtag as the bid put in by the US, Mexico, and Canada to host the World Cup in 2026.  Which was won by the Us, Mexico, and Canada.

It stands for United North America, and is perhaps the weirdest thing ever.  First off, the three countries that make up North America couldn’t be more divided right now.  The US stance on immigration and trade have really screwed things up.  We have put up tariffs to supposedly protect American goods against everyone, including Canada and that has lead to some economic conflicts with our neighbor to the north.  And the Zero Tolerance policy on immigration is kind of terrifying and mostly affects Central American and Mexican immigrants trying to enter the US thereby straining the relationship between the US and Mexico and the talk of a border wall just makes things worse.

In other words the three countries involved in hosting the 2026 World Cup are not getting along real great.  It has already been announced that Mexico will host the finals.  Canada and the US will host the group play.  Meaning Mexico will host 8 matches or so.

Talk about spreading out the matches.  Canada and the US are huge countries.  If you lopped off Russia all of Europe would fit within the borders of the US.  Canada and Mexico have provinces bigger than most European countries and the US has states that are geographically bigger than most European countries.  For instance, all of the UK will fit within the state of Missouri, where I live.  And there is talk of my state holding some of the group play matches because Arrowhead Stadium where the KC Chiefs play American Football is also used to play Major League Soccer (KC Sporting uses the stadium) and it holds around 75,000 people.  It has also undergone massive renovations in the last ten years making it a nice stadium.

However, Missouri isn’t exactly close to either Canada or Mexico.  I live six and a half to seven hours away from Chicago, Illinois which is the closest major city with international recognition… Although while in Germany I did meet a waiter in an Italian restaurant that knew where Missouri was.  Much like Russia, fans aren’t going to be renting cars to go from stadium to stadium, they are going to be hopping on planes.

Plus there is the added thing of in World Cup the host country gets a free pass into the tournament.  How will that work with 3 host countries, two of whom, the US and Canada do not make it into World Cup consistently?  With a little luck, by 2026 the three countries will be back to playing nicely in the North American Sandbox…


Steam Power/People Power

We often forget how invention works.  More than once two people have invented the same thing at the same time.  Then again, some times inventions happen before the world is ready for them.

The submarine was one such invention.  The Hunley was invented during the Civil War and belonged to the Confederate States of America.  It was basically a tin can that moved through the water using people power.  It had a submersion time of about 20 minutes.  Men inside the submarine worked a crank that turned the propeller.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a huge success.  It did sink a very important ship and won a small victory for the Confederate States of America, but that small win came at a huge cost… The Hunley killed 3 crews.

The first two times it sank and took it’s crew with it, the CSA was able to salvage the Hunley.  The third time, they couldn’t, they didn’t even know why it hadn’t come back up and weren’t even real sure where the submarine sank.  It was eventually found nearly 140 years later.

Technology hadn’t advanced enough for a successful submarine.  The turn screw system was easy enough, but there was no way to keep fresh or at least recycled oxygen into it.  Just like there wasn’t tempered glass able to withstand the pressures of being under water for long periods of time.

It was during the course of the Civil War that a dentist named Dr. R. Finley Hunt invented a steam powered airplane.  Invented in the sense that he wrote out blue prints for it.  He personally didn’t have the money to build it and he petitioned the CSA to pay for it, however by then, the CSA had sorta resigned themselves to losing the Civil War.

However, the steam powered airplane has been built in modern day and the realization is that adding a steam engine to a plane, isn’t exactly practical.  It has to be scaled up in order to lift the weight of the steam engine, which means the weight of the engine then forces it to have to be scaled up some more.  And the cycle continues.

One has to wonder though, if the CSA had funded it, about the what ifs of it.  It is possible that if it had been built, the bugs could have been worked out of it and become a real force in the Civil War… Maybe… Maybe… It’s also possible that like the submarine, it would have been a machine out of its time.

Like the Hunley, it is very possible that it would have been a dismal failure because we just didn’t have the technology for it in the 1860s.  It would be nearly forty years before the airplane, not steam powered, would become a real thing.


A 9/11 Did You Know Moment

Most Americans remember where they were when they heard planes had crashed into two towers of the World Trade Center complex.  I had turned 21 just 2 weeks before and I was at work, in a government office.

I remember my coworkers complaining that they wanted to close the office for the day.  We didn’t close and it would be well after lunch before we heard the word terrorism associated with it.  Since that day, terrorism has become a part of daily life.  Europe, Canada, the US, we have all had to deal with acts of terrorism in its many, many forms.

There has been something very big happen since September 11, 2001, Smartphones.  It is true that by 2001, cell phones had become fairly common place, but they weren’t capable of the video quality or storage capabilities that smartphones have.    This means we take for granted the fact that these days when an act of terrorism occurs in Europe, Canada, or the US it probably gets captured on about 200 videos.

That is not the case with 9/11.  There are only 3 known recordings showing the first plane’s impact with the World Trade Center.  There are only about forty or so videos of the second plane’s impact.  This is why when they replay video of the World Trade Center attacks, it is usually the smoking, collapsing towers, not the actual impacts.

I heard someone the other day talking about how they don’t show the impact footage on TV out of respect for those that died and the families.  This isn’t true.  It isn’t shown, because it is basically worth it’s digital weight in gold.  The videos that show the second impact, were actually being filmed not because people were expecting it to happen again, like conspiracy theorists suggest, but because people were filming the smoking hulk that was left of Tower One.

The most famous video was taken by a documentary film maker who wasn’t there for the towers, he was there filming fire fighters.  He heard the plane and saw it flying low over New York City and turned his camera skyward to see what was happening.  That is the only reason he caught the first impact.  The other two were tourist videos.  They are shaky, grainy, and not of good quality.  Like the documentary maker, they were filming something else when they heard the plane and just happened to look skyward, pointing their camera lens in the same direction as their eyes.

There is this myth that there are hundreds of videos of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but they have been suppressed by the American government to cover up their involvement in it.  The truth is, that technology has progressed significantly since September 2001, but because we weren’t to that point at the time, there just aren’t many videos of the events until after the second plane impacts the second tower and the world had already changed by that point, even if it didn’t know it.

Forget Russia, Let’s Talk Wikileaks*

*If you are a Trump supporter who believes he can do no wrong, this post will offend you.  Do not send me nasty messages about it, because I refuse to listen to arguments about how awesome our treasonous president is and yes, Trump did commit an act of treason with regards to his association with Julian Assange.

My problem with the Special Counsel’s investigation is that they picked the wrong collusion partner.  Anyone from Trump’s campaign, including Trump Jr., that talked to Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange should be tried for treason.  This claim is not without it’s merits…

Julian Assange lives in an Ecuadorian consulate in London, because he is an Australian that no one else would shelter as a political refuge from England, Norway, Australia, and the US. He is wanted for Sexual Assault as well as a variety of other crimes and Ecuador was the only country willing to take him in and help him avoid the charges in a slew of countries.

Assange’s dealings with world governments has been complicated and I won’t discuss them all because I’d like to keep this post to less than 10,000 words.  Let’s deal with Wikileaks, Assange, and Trump.

During the 2000s, as the war in Iraq was heating up, Wikileaks released several documents dealing with US Military operations in Iraq.  At the time, many lawmakers called for Assange’s head.  They wanted to try him for espionage, a charge that stuck, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.  He was living in England already, and facing charges of sexual assault in Norway where he has been accused of drugging and raping multiple women.  Some of the charges have expired while Assange lives in the Ecuadorian consulate, who does not have extradition treaties with any of the countries where Assange has been accused of espionage and sexual assault.

In other words, if Assange steps foot out of the Ecuadorian consulate, he will be arrested by British police and the US has already won an extradition hearing to have him turned over to the US government.  So Wikileaks co-founder is a fugitive from justice in the US, wanted for capital crimes.  So, Assange will face the same sentencing possibilities as a spy with boots on the ground in Washington DC or a serial killer from Illinois.  Trump Jr’s multiple emails to Assange is horrifying in that respect.  Worse, members of Trump’s campaign actually visited Assange at the Ecuadorian consulate in London.

Let that sink in… Trump Jr was exchanging emails with a man wanted for spying in the US, worse Assange passed along classified material that he had received due to hacks against several US governmental agencies, and members of Trump’s campaign went to London to meet with him one on one.  And it’s supposed to be okay?!

Why is Trump or Trump Jr. above the law?  If that was a normal every day person from the US meeting with Assange, not only would we end up on a watch list, we would be detained, probably by the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, and DIA for meeting with a spy.  And we aren’t just talking about a guy that hacked into the Democratic National Party’s servers, we are talking about a man that released information about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while they were happening.  The crime was considered so severe that the US government tried Assange in absentia because he wouldn’t come to the US to argue his case because he knew he would be arrested on sight.

Many of our legislators have argued that Assange isn’t just a spy, but a terrorist.  Yet, Trump Jr. and the Trump campaign kept in contact with him because it served their purpose.  That can’t possibly be legal.  Oh, right, it’s not… American citizens who knowing consort with someone who is considered a spy or terrorist can be tried on the same charges.  If you or I were to go hang out with Assange for a cup of tea, we would be tried on charges of espionage, even if we didn’t give him anything and he didn’t give us anything, and we let the government record our conversation about rugby, darts, or soccer.

PS: You can thank the Cold War for that law.  During the Cold War and McCarthyism, it was decided that Americans who consorted with spies knowingly, must also be spies and therefore, subject to the same penalty.  Which just as an FYI, charges of espionage often carry the death penalty.  Spies can be executed after they have been found guilty.

So why isn’t Trump Jr, up on charges of espionage?  Also, if President Trump knew Trump Jr was communicating with Assange, he is also guilty of espionage in the eyes of the law.  And from his tweets, we all know he knew his son was communicating with Assange.

Thank god for double standards I guess?  This is a big part of the reason I cannot support President Trump.  I refuse to support a spy which is by definition treason.  If you are a Trump supporter, fine, continue to support someone who committed an act of treason, but do not give me a list of all the reasons he is better than our other presidents, because regardless of what you thought of Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II, or Obama, at least they weren’t traitors supporting and possibly encouraging espionage against the US.


I Don’t Think That Means What You Think It Means…

I am so tired of hearing people say “it’s a witch hunt” and that includes our current president of the United States.  As a Missourian, I’m getting to hear it a ton because our governor has also started using it.

If you don’t read or listen to the news, here’s the deal.  The Governor of Missouri has been indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge for sharing a nude picture of his former mistress.  The City of St. Louis is also considering indicting him for misappropriation and misuse of a charity donor list.  He was a lawyer for a charity before he became governor and he used the charity’s donor list to solicit campaign contributions, which is illegal.  It also appears he lied about how he was given the donor list, if the charity CFO or president gifted him the list to use, that is different than if he got it from the servers, downloaded it, and used it.

Every time he gives a press conference he tells Missourians that these charges and investigations are nothing more than a witch hunt.  Um, actually, they aren’t.  A witch hunt would require you to be innocent and I’m not convinced you are.  Furthermore, the Republican Party that our governor belongs to, is a huge part of the investigations… Meaning they don’t really believe him to be innocent either and several prominent Republicans in the Missouri House and Senate have called for his resignation.  So yeah, stop using the phrase because it doesn’t apply here.

I think my favorite has been after the leader of the Republican party for the State of Missouri called on Greiten’s to resign as governor, the governor essentially accused him of leading the witch hunt.  The Missouri House and Senate have called a special meeting to discuss possible impeachment because he won’t resign.

I feel like madness is leaking out of people’s ears anymore and infecting others.  I say this because the Governor of Missouri has pretty much plagiarized President Trump on several occasions when talking about the criminal charges and investigations using the exact same wording that President Trump uses when he talks about the DOJ,the Special Investigation and the FBI.

I am sick of hearing those words.  If you want to do things that are a little shady, don’t run for public office.  Also don’t stand anywhere and repeatedly preach that every investigation of your shady dealings are unfounded, because it quickly becomes unbelievable.  I have a post coming up about Wikileaks and Julian Assange because I am not sure Americans actually understand the depths of that betrayal to the American public.  For those of you who believe the President is infallible, I’ll warn you not to read it.

Why I Was Silent on The Facebook Scandal

Someone recently pointed out that I had been rather silent about the Facebook privacy scandal.  I’m an American, why do I expect Facebook to keep my user information to themselves and furthermore, why do I expect them not to spy on me?  Long before Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, became popular, I unwillingly agreed that I did not deserve privacy because I did not put up a protest in 2001 when the American government, backed by a large majority of American Citizens, signed the Patriot Act into law.

At some point in the early 2000s, I made it onto a list.  I don’t know what list and I have some general ideas about why I made a list, but they are irrelevant.  The relevant part is that I did make it onto a list and my personal correspondence became subject to inspection by the US Postal Service.

They didn’t open my bills, but they opened every letter that had a private address as opposed to a business address.  My first piece of opened mail I thought was a fluke.  By the 10th piece of mail, I was noticing a pattern.  By the end of the year, I had resigned myself to knowing that for whatever reason the US government had decided to start checking my mail.  It didn’t stop until the end of 2007.  So for most of six years, my mail was subject to inspection by the government.  Also, when I spoke to certain people, there would be clicks, audible clicks, heard by both of us, over the phone line.  We made jokes about it, but eventually someone I knew that had a brother that worked for the NSA told me those clicks were probably Big Brother listening in to my phone conversations.

I do not consider myself a dissident.  I consider myself a thinker.  I prefer to logically sort through facts, including those that involve government, before I make a decision about things.  In other words, I consider myself a rational, reasonable human being, expressing my innate ability to think for myself.  That is what the Founding Fathers wanted for citizens of the US.  To be able to think for themselves and even disagree with the government when need be… Which is what I do.

I will never know for sure why I was selected to be subjected to special mail inspections and possible phone taps.  I don’t need to know, because I don’t really care.  That would require something like a government agency to be logical…

The point is, the moment Americans agreed that the Patriot Act was okay, we were no longer allowed a right to privacy.  The social media boom didn’t improve our rights, it made them worse because let’s face it, how many end user license agreements (those things you normally have to check a box on to continue) does anyone actually read?  I usually make it about two paragraphs before I just hit “I Agree” and continue on with the creation of the account or installation of the program.  And without reading that agreement, I do not get to whine about a company using my private information for whatever reasons.

In other words, I was far more okay with Facebook turning over my data to Cambridge Analytica than I was to the US Government spying on me because of something that someone I graduated high school with years earlier had done (eventually, with the help of former classmates, we identified about 20 of us that were having the same problem with our mail being opened… We all had 1 thing in common, we had received a Christmas Card in 2001 – before the Patriot Act went into effect – from someone we had graduated high school with that eventually fled the country because under the Patriot Act she could have been sentenced to life in prison for participating in an act of eco-terrorism that did not harm any living thing).

Was Facebook in the right for turning over User Data to Cambridge Analytica without putting in safe guards that the information would be used as they said it would be used and would eventually be deleted?  Nope, I don’t believe they were.  Mostly, I don’t think we can be upset about a social media platform sharing our information when we agreed to let the American Government spy on us during the years the Patriot Act were in effect.

As an added twist of irony, I have been keeping track of my friends that posted anything with the Delete Facebook hashtag or complained about the Facebook invasion of privacy issue and most were vehement supporters of the Patriot Act, which seems backwards to me…

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