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Dave Hill
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Dave Hill

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Remember how we were DOOOOOOMMMED by the Obergefell ruling?

It's been one year on from the Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell ruling, striking down state bans on marriage between two people of the same sex, and yet we've not seen the dissolution of the Union, retributional brimstone strikes from God, or mass weddings of men and horses. It's a miracle!
Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision, which, if Religious Right activists were to be believed, was to usher in a horrible tyranny that w
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The only threat gay people pose is to some people's ideas about themselves.
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No eating raw cookie dough? Well, that sucks.

At least until the current E. Coli outbreak in flour (!) is under control. 
For years, raw chocolate chip cookie dough was a forbidden treat. Everyone said — rightly or wrongly — that you shouldn’t consume it because the uncooked eggs could make you sick.…
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I am an equal-opportunity and open-minded cookie dough eater, and enjoy it both pre- and post-baked.
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The Manly Men of the Marines Feel Unmanned!

Apparently some US Marines (present and past) have their khakis in a wad by the "pussification" of their branch of the service by Political Correctness Gone Mad, as the Marine Corps (which now technically allows both men and women to serve in all roles) pursues more gender-neutral language for job descriptions -- mostly by substituting the word "Marine" for where "Man" was previously used.

Of course, I haven't noticed that Policemen and Firemen became any less heroic or brave or respected upon becoming Police Officers and Fire Fighters. But maybe they're less into titles and similar fripperies than these Marines are.
The title changes are just one more friction point on the long road to gender integration.
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Changing "man" to marine only makes the title sounds cooler. Also, fire fighter is still a bad ass title.
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The Predictable Partisanship of the Supreme Court

I wonder to what extent the shift to being all jurists, all the time, is part of the predictability and partisan divides within SCOTUS. Back in an era when many of the appointees were former Senators, Governors, Attorneys General, or even Presidents, a somewhat more pragmatic approach could be taken, leading to opinions based less on personal legalistic theories and philosophy than on workability: "How will this decision work in real life for the nation, executives, and legislators?"
A Tragic Moment for the Supreme Court
Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter laments the recent string of divided decisions and urges a return to efforts to reach consensus, or near consensus, about the Constitution.
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Wandering through Wineries

Our annual family campout (about 50 this year) was near Julian, California, at William Heise County Park. The park is nicely put together and maintained, and we'll be back there next year.

In the mean time we found ourselves in a new wine area to tour, mostly in the Ramona AVA, south of Temecula, inland of Escondido. The places we hit up:

Salerno - The new owner of this place desperately, desperately wants to have a destination winery / event center. Much, much money is being spent on the facility, from expanding the tasting terrace, to dropping vast sums of money on a chock-a-block sculpture garden. Too bad none of us liked any of the eight wines we tasted. Even more bad that this was the most expensive tasting we had. I have no desire to revisit, nor to enroll in their wine club.

Woof 'n Rose - Tiny craft winery that takes several minutes of small, eventually dirt roads to get back to, but is worth the trip. A lovely Grenache, some nice Bordeaux blends, nothing world-shaking but all very drinkable. The "tasting veranda" is a bit kitschy, but in a charming way. I want to go back next year.

Edwards - We asked Kim at the WnR for one more suggested place to stop, and she recommended here, "across from the camel farm" (for those who know the area). The tasting room looks like a tiny fruit stand half-way up a long, dusty hill from the highway, but the service was fun and the wines -- mostly Syrah, Petite Syrah, Cab Sav, and blends -- were all tasty (even to those folk in the party who weren't Syrah fans), including a Late Harvest Syrah that was dry and flavorful. We picked up more bottles here, and I'm definitely up to another visit.

Orfila - This winery (or its tasting room, at least) is in downtown Julian. It makes for a cool way to get off the hot summer streets and spend a few minutes tasting an array of wines that are decent slurps but nothing special enough to get me to buy a bottle to pack and fly home. I'd give it another try if passing by on foot next year, but I wouldn't make it a destination.

Overall, I was pretty impressed. The Ramona area reminds me a bit of Paso Robles when we first started camping up there fifteen-odd years ago -- gems in the rough (and a good bit of fools gold as well), some passionate people turning out surprisingly good product, some pretense and commercialism beginning to pop up, and a lot of opportunities to explore. I look forward to returning to the area next year.
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+The Bruce, Mile High Which also impacts other profitable activities during those time frames. 
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Weirdities in Baidu's "Street View"

It's not so much that buildings are being deleted, but that they are being partially deleted, or deleted really poorly, and sometimes the buildings (and ways they are being deleted) seem very odd choices.

If you told me that this was being farmed out by the Chinese Government (and/or businesses owned by powerful people) to low-cost piece-work providers who get paid based on the number of images they "obscure" per hour, it would not at all surprise me.

(Note that there are some censored bits in Google, too, mostly around defense installations and, in some cases, major infrastructure where there was concern about terrorist attacks. But that's done a lot more logically, and a lot more thoroughly.)
WIRED investigates the mystery of Baidu Total View and its bizarre photo editing that creates an entirely new version of reality
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the air pollutions
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Another reason to avoid Facebook on my mobile

So one of the bases for suggesting possible "friends" is physical proximity (via smart phone GPS)? That sounds like an awful idea, for reasons mentioned here and beyond.

'Once Facebook users realize that the ‘People You May Know’ are the ‘People That Go To the Same Places You Do,’ this feature will inevitably start outing people’s intimate information without their knowledge.'

Not that I expect this to have any more effect on FB numbers than previous privacy concerns. Which is one reason they're not afraid to play with it. 
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+Scott Randel Until they shuffle the menu deck again and reset your account to defaults, or as I like to call it, CFM
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Dave Hill

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Also "I'm constipated," "I hate our neighborhood association," and "What's the mutual fund password again?"
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Happy Birthday, Neko!

Five years old? Inconceivable! 
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 
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The Return of "Lost in Space"

The basic setup for LiS is a classic -- stranded family battling for survival, alongside the man who caused them to be stranded. The original show, in its black-and-white first season, was high-tech adventure and even a bit of suspense (e.g., the picture below, back when Dr Smith was actually a sinister SOB, not the shrieking coward). Alas, once the popularity of Will / Smith / Robot was established with the audience, the show morphed into zany hi-jinx, tag lines, and plain goofiness.[1]

But it didn't have to be that way. LiS was, in concept, the Man Against the Frontier tale that westerns of the era knew how to do so well. While TV drama today is looking for something more than Injuns and Buffalo Stampedes, the bones of the setup provide just the platform to provide it.

In other words, I think there's a ton of possibility to do LiS well for a modern era, akin to the Battlestar Galactica reboot. The 1990s movie, for all it's (myriad) scripting and direction flaws, pointed the way: the sense of isolation, the strained or broken family dynamics, the desperate family strengths, the sinister Smith[2], the threat of the unknown, the desire for adventure, the longing for home, the opportunity to not just survive but excel ... this is all stuff that could be great.

Though, honestly, the creative team here is not filling me with confidence. With that caveat, I'm fully behind this effort.


[1] To be sure, the parallel Irwin Allen production, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, suffered from increasing goofiness over time as well, but at least they tried to play it straight, not as camp.

[2] I loved Gary Oldman's Smith, so much so that I essentially ran him as an RPG character. 
The campy, iconic scifi show Lost in Space is making a comeback. Eight months after Netflix first purchased the rights to remake the show, they’ve officially given the series a 10 episode commitment with an eye on new episodes airing in 2018.
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+Travis Bird I don't remember his character ever firing or even holding a laser after that episode.
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Collating Colleges - Part 1 in a Doubtless Lengthy Series

So +Kay Hill is in the summer before her junior year in high school, at which time a student's parents minds begin to turn to College Decisions (also known as "Hey, darned shame I was unemployed the last 10 months when I could have been saving further for the girl's college education," but that's a different story).

Anyway, the College Decision world today is vastly different from the Late Cretaceous era when +Margie Kleerup and I were making such choices: an era of flipping through thick catalogs with stale summary info in the library or school career counselor's office. There's a massive glut of info out there -- detailed web pages, comparison after comparison, more data that anyone could collate without worrying of having missed something.

So one thing we're doing this summer is doing some easy (i.e., cheap / local) campus tours to give Kay a chance to see what sort of choices she has, both in terms of described features she likes (or dislikes), but also what sort of campus. Is she jonesing for the resources of a massive public university? Seeking the intimacy of a tiny private college? Liberal arts college? Mid-city? Countryside?

A year-and-change ago, she got a chance to tour our alma mater, Pomona College []. We toured a couple more campuses while in California, with further on tap for the next few months in Colorado. Here's what we saw (and, again, this was less for the specific institutions than to get a feel for different college types in general):

Chapman University - Back in My Day, this was a small, local liberal arts college in the heart of the City of Orange. Today it's still compact in footprint, but is much larger in physical plant and population. It reminded me a lot of the Claremont Colleges, only mooshed together into about a quarter of the space -- something Kay liked -- while still having the City of Orange about for places to eat and visit off-campus. She seemed pretty positive about the vibe there.

Soka University of America - This one's a unique place, in a lot of ways. An extension of Soka University in Japan, it's a massive, monumental college on a hilltop in coastal southern Orange County, focusing on liberal arts degrees taught using the Soka method ("humanistic education") to "foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life." Heavy emphasis on foreign language and a mandatory semester abroad in the junior year. Very mission-oriented, almost feeling like a religious monastery in its isolation (no easy bike rides to the corner store) and architecture (the school was founded and largely funded by the Soka Gekkai movement of Japanese Buddhism, but is officially secular). Difficult to judge much more, since the campus is empty during the summer, but Kay didn't seem to like its isolation, lack of strong music program, or the sense of the institution feeling like more of a focus than the students.

(And, since it is frequently asked, no she doesn't really know what she wants to major in yet, let alone what she wants to actually do with such a major. Which is fine by us, save that it makes it more difficult to narrow schools down in advance.)
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If those new droids work out, maybe she can transmit her application to the Academy this year.
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On the Naming of Radicals

Lumping together people is sometimes useful, but (especially when intended in a negative way) is more often harmful.

For those who insist that "Radical Islam" (etc.) is the best way to refer to members of Hezbollah and al-Qa'eda and ISIL and a variety of other groups that (a) operate out of their own particular views of Islam [sometimes at violent variance with one another] and (b) do violent, hateful things because of that ... well, consider this term:

"Radical Christianity"

Some people, reading that, would call to mind Christian gangs and terror groups that have clashed bloodily with Muslims in parts of Africa. Some might think of Christian-based governments in some parts of the world who consider being gay a crime worthy of imprisonment, if not execution. Some might think of organized terrorist organizations like the Irish Republican Army which, while arguably ethnic / historic / tribally based, at least claimed religion as a motivator for their actions.

Others might think about lone wolf radicals, like people who shoot doctors who perform abortions, or who firebomb abortion clinics. Others might think about some of the many zany (and sometimes violent) extremist Christian cults in the US like the Branch Davidians. One might think about ostensibly Christian hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Or, more simply, one might consider politically organized conservative Christian organizations that argue for Dominionist laws in the US, the banning of abortion and birth control, the mandatory teaching of "Biblical truths" in school, media censorship, "Christian Nationalism," and so forth.

And, of course, turning that around some might see "Radical Christianity" as a proud ideal, representing a desire to truly transform the world in the model of Jesus Christ -- through lives of dedicated service and charitable giving and loving of their neighbors. That's radical, too.

To suggest that any, let alone all, of the above groups and individuals share a common ideology, or common practices, or can be treated as a monolithic group, would be silly. And for the vast majority of Christians who don't fall into any of the above categories -- whether or not they might think some of the ideas mentioned make sense in the abstract -- to create a connection between their own religious belief system and the beliefs and actions of these others is seen in many cases as profoundly unfair, insulting, even persecution.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

We do ourselves no favors by throwing around generalized labels like "radical Islam" (or "Islamic radicals"). The 1.6 billion Muslims around the world don't see such terms as being targeted toward certain extremist groups and individuals. Instead, they too often see themselves tarred with the same brush -- and are nudged that much further into seeing such rhetoric as drawing a line between "Us" and "Them" -- a bright civilizational line across which "we" are continuously talking about making war.

Which, if you think about, seems to be just the sort of thing those terrorist groups are constantly preaching to be the case as well. Do we really want to be doing such groups' job for them?
The term adds zero to our understanding of the problem, and offends people we need on our side.
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Isn't it amazing how many people are will willing to has have someone else fight their wars for them? :-(
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Mr. Nice Guy
Husband, father, writer, gamer, diplomat, theist, civil libertarian, techie, pointy-haired manager, traditionalist, Coloradoan, wordsmith, reader, blogger, magpie, nice guy.

I write about politics, religion, my particular geeky pop culture kinks (SF, Fantasy, Comic Books), and whatever other shiny objects attract my attention from moment to moment.
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A great marriage and a lovely teen daughter. But I can't take the majority of credit for either.
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Dave Hill's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
The unethical superhero: Why science in The Flash needs some oversight |...

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Astronauts who return from space show stiffer arteries and insulin resistance, conditions that mimic a fast-forward version of age-related h

Watch the Spectacular Demolition of a Power Station's Huge Chimneys

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The Western Boom on American Television in the Fifties

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VW Owners Aren't Going to Like the Fixes for Their Diesels | WIRED

VW will be forced to recall the diesels and make them to meet federal standards. Owners who value performance and fuel economy won't like th

Put Down the Acai Juice: Antioxidants Are Not a Miracle Cure

Antioxidants are the master of the health halo: put them in a yogurt, and that yogurt is now a health food. Marketers took that idea and ran

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket

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The No. 1 FORBES Top College 2015 is Pomona College, followed by Williams College and Stanford University. The highest rated public school i

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Great German beer, good Central European bar food. A noisy sports bar with no reservations, only hit-or-miss grabbing for common table space. Would definitely revisit.
Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
The theater itself is a well-managed outdoor space with good sight lines to the stage, bleacher seats provided, and (as long as it doesn't rain) a comfortable venue for play watching. The plays put on by the CSF are excellent, imaginatively staged and well acted. Bravo.
Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
Neatly made, classy variants on classic foods and drinks. Exceedingly convenient to the theater. Can get pretty crowded, esp. in the bar area.
Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
17 reviews
A beautiful and ever-changing array of landscapes and spaces, both educational and pleasant. Nice place for a stroll or an exploration of plant biomes.
Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
Convenient to a number of restaurants, the Ontario Mills Mall, and Ontario Airport, this hotel has clean and upgraded room. There are no free meals, but an on premises bar and light restaurant, with numerous places to eat nearby. Service was okay, if a bit desultory. I would definitely return.
Public - 6 months ago
reviewed 6 months ago
Many lovely items, esp. the cinerary urns. But it's all organized very poorly (and there's an excess of cinerary urns on display). The display cards are all in Italian, but of wildly varying styles. Worth a visit while in Volterra, but maybe not the key thing to see there.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago