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Dave Hill
Mr. Nice Guy
Mr. Nice Guy


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On Civil Discourse

I've recently seen an influx in my posts of commenters from the Angry Right and, in response (or in parallel), commenters from the Angry Left.

So I get the anger (well, I get it more from the side I have a not-secret bias toward, but I appreciate that there are angry people out there). But when a comment stream shifts from discussing the topics raised in the original post, or even evolutions of that original post, into shoutiness and insults and attacks at other commenters ("If you believe X, then you must believe Y, and only poopy-heads believe Y" "Nuh-uh!" "Uh-huh!"), it ceases to be constructive, interesting, or amusing.

A clever zinger, sure. Just shouting names at each other? Not so much.

I can't expect that everyone will engage in completely polite discussion. Emotions run high about some of this stuff, and with good reason. But I do draw lines, and if I'm a bit more biased on one direction than another, I've been both deleting post and blocking users from both ends of the Angry spectrum.

Catharsis is great. Go for it in your own posts. I don't necessarily need it here.

Using a racist, sexist, or ableist slur is a great way to be hit by the ban stick. As I mentioned elsewhere, any epithet that ends in "-tard" doesn't go over well.

Ostensibly amusing variants of folks names tend to make me think the commenter is doing more posturing than discussion and engagement. That's not necessarily ban-hammer bait, but I pretty much assume that anyone who uses "Killery" or "Shillery" isn't serious about talking about politics, and react accordingly. (And, yeah, I'm less sensitive to variants to Trump's name, but that's not a blank check, either.)

I don't want to discourage dissent or serious debate -- my concerns are more with tone and modality, not ideology here. But my mom reads this stuff, and she doesn't need four-letter rants from anyone. Neither, frankly, do I, unless there's some interesting thoughts in them. If just shouting at people you disagree with is how you get your posting jollies, I'm happy to say that there are plenty of other locations than in my comments for you to do so.
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Movies in the Air

International travel is a time when I get to actually catch up on movies that I missed or couldn't bring myself to spend money on watching previously. At least that's what I like to do after the inflight entertainment system reboots ...

On our Delta flights to / from Europe, here's what I watched. (Scores are out of ★★★★★; links are to longer reviews on Letterboxd)

A Wrinkle in Time (2018) ★★½
Glitzy adaptation that falters the more it strays from the source book.

Inside Out (2015) ★★★★½ with a ♥
A truly delightful Pixar psychocomedy that I'm kicking myself for not having seen before.

Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) ★★½
Why Batman: The Animated Series needed the network to keep them from going down a self-indulgent rabbit hole, apparently.

Darkest Hour (2017) ★★★★ with a ♥
Remarkable if sometimes uneven biopic about Churchill at the start of WW2.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) ★★★★ with a ♥
Rewatch. Still funny. Still sometimes too funny for its own good.

The Jungle Book (2016) ★★★
I was far less charmed than most people, it seems.

Game Night (2018) ★★★½ with a ♥
Far funnier than it ought to have been. Frothy fun.

Tomb Raider (2018) ★★★½
Run, Lara, run! A good, if humorless and increasingly improbable, adventure.
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The GOP likes paid family leave ... to help tear down Social Security

Sure, you can take paid family leave under Marco Rubio's bill (as proposed / backed by First Lady Ivanka Trump). But you'll do so by pushing drawing on Social Security, and pushing back your eligibility to retire with Social Security by 3-6 months per child you had the nerve to have.

(And, of course, it would make it look like more money is being sucked out of Social Security than ever before, giving the GOP ammo to replace the program with, I dunno, coupons for McDonalds and tax cuts for the rich.)

Making America Great Again!
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The Convenience of Considering Correlation to be Causation

It takes some massive blind spots to play the "This awful natural disaster is occurring in this place because They Have Sinned Against The Lord," but that doesn't keep dolts like Kevin Swanson from doing so.

Like, for example, hey, Kev -- why does God pay such strict attention to state lines? I mean, why punish California as a whole? Why not, I don't know, punish individual counties based on their voting records or number of gay people or something? I mean, a lot of these fires are happening in some pretty conservative / rural areas of the state -- why is God punishing them for the sins of the more liberal population centers?

I'm not sure if I'm more disturbed thinking that Swanson is just a "God must hate the people I hate" sort who can't actually figure out the huge logic gaps in his analysis (let alone his theology), or if he's a publicity hound looking to boost his ratings no matter who it hurts.
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Can you hear the people sing... along quietly under their breath? Hope not!

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I return from a distant land with tales of adventure and loss

So we're back after a couple of weeks, give or take, doing some extraordinarily fun stuff in the eastern Mediterranean -- visiting Athens, cruising on a barquentine through Aegean, Ionian, and Adriatic Seas, and ending up with a few days in Venice.

More on those adventures anon. Now I'm dealing with the "loss" part -- specifically, the loss of my wallet in Venice, where I suspect (highest probability) that I dropped it inadvertently out of a pocket I had stuffed it in juggling three things at once, someone picked it up, grabbed the euros from it, and tossed the remainder in a trash can or canal. (I say this because it took me about 6 hours to start canceling the cards, on the off chance that I could find the wallet, and there were no bogus charges put on them in that time.)

Which means the hassle, on return, of replacing my drivers license, my debit/ATM card, and the two credit cards I had brought with me.

It's at this point that all those handy-dandy automatic payments from one's credit card come home to roost. I have 14 vendors / services / subscriptions / charities that draw from the card each month, and I anticipate spending an hour or two having to contact each one to say "Use this number." Though it is a useful opportunity to say, "Hmmm, do I really want to continue that particular service?" Which would be marginally less annoying if this was Sunday like it was supposed to be and our flight from Venice to JFK wasn't delayed by three hours meaning we had to stay overnight in NYC and thus lose our "One day at home before the work week to unpack and do laundry and fix credit card stuff" and have this be Monday instead after arriving home at 11:30pm last night.

Yes, I know, #FirstWorldProblems, but, hey, I'm back in the US, I'm allowed to kvetch about anything that annoys me. Also, Trump sucks, which has been an ongoing irritation while being out of country, as much as it is being in-country.

On the bright side, I was treated very politely by the carabinieri officer I filed a police report with in Venice, and I have an Italian police report as a trip souvenir.

Speaking of which, three Travel ProTips:

1. If you are taking a credit card overseas, don't take the one you have all your autopayments done through. I was actually given this advice, but then took that card anyway (as a backup for the one I used while there) because it had a attractive exchange rate. And then kept both cards in my wallet, so that when I lost one, I lost both. Dumb.

2. Do make sure you have a copy of your credit card info with you. I did the front-back photocopy stuff, but as it turns out I could just as well have used my LastPass secure note info for each one (except I don't usually include the contact phone numbers in my LastPass records, except it turns out that in this Modern Age you can just as easily cancel a credit card through the web page, though that doesn't include an option to have the replacement sent to where you are, except that didn't matter for us because we only had two full days left of vacation, or so we thought).

3. Take your time. Don't do something like "I'll stuff my wallet in this pocket, rather than take the extra thirty seconds to put it somewhere secure."

Also, being in a foreign country without credit cards (even if your spouse has some) and DL (even if I had my passport) is a profoundly unsettling thing (though at least one member of our party said that I was outwardly handling it with far greater aplomb than they would have, which was nice). It probably saved me some money in not making purchases I would have otherwise, but, it was still kind of "One step away from disaster" sort of thing. Like when everyone else in my party had already boarded the (late) flight from Venice ahead of me, and then the board pass scanner bleated "Passenger not on this flight" when the attendant ran my ticket through. Ha! That was a really funny few moments of panic as I stood there with just a passport and a EUR 50 bill to survive on, until the other attendants pounded on some computers and got the machine to accept my boarding pass.

Okay, enough complaining. I have many wonderful photos and experiences to curate and report on, and will do so as soon as the couple-dozen higher priority things on my list are resolved. Regardless, it's good to be home.
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Purrl is all ready to go!
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The Hands-On President

(Apologies to anyone for whom the the thought of the President laying hands on anyone causes a shudder.)

Trump has essentially turned the White House and senor administration into a personally-run small business, in a way that hasn't been seen since early 19th Century (at a time when the US was a fringe government on the edge of the wilderness, not a focal point of global economic and military strength). All decision-making roads lead directly through Trump; all policies are expressions of his own zany whimsy on any given day. There is no institutional continuity, no delegation, no barrier, no inertia. Trump simply marginalizes, then fires, anyone who gets in the way of his doing his own thing. He's running the government the way he did his businesses.

Which some people probably sounds like a great idea, except for when you look at how Trump's businesses have actually done, versus the personal wealth that Trump has managed to accumulate on the backs of business partners, subcontractors, banks, bankruptcy courts, and anyone else who's been willing to give him money or shelter him from the consequences of his actions.

A 61% turnover rate in your organization is a sign that you're a crappy manager. Unfortunately, there's nobody left but the US voter to pass that message on.
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On the bright side, use of the term in such a fashion is a generally useful way to identify people who (a) probably aren't worth conversing with, and (b) often have reportable material lurking in their profile. So there's that.
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