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AvatarComments by Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw*

On “Lent!

From what I've heard, the key to any Disney park is to talk to the staff. I think a lot of the EPCOT staff is from the countries they represent. And in the theme parks, they all have in-depth characters, and they never get a chance to use them unless they're dressed as one of the popular characters.

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Not sure I'd agree with Jay's analogy for Lent. Spiritually, the point is the sucking, or at least the point is more the consequences of difficulty itself, not as much the consequences of the particular difficult act. (I'm assuming by the tone of your comment that you're interested in the spiritual side of Lent.)

If you want to put something on your list quickly, I recommend offering up a daily prayer for someone. If you're prone to superstition, I'd suggest offering it up for someone you hardly know or don't know at all, so you don't fall into the habit of "checking" if it's working. The practice of offering up a prayer for someone you don't like is good; it can often fall into "look how good I am praying for that jerk", but that's a hurdle you can clear.

On “Vote Now! Who Are You Rooting For?

Sanders has been saying some pretty good things about Castro.

On “Katherine Johnson, RIP

None of these articles features people saying that women can't do math. Some discuss possible unconscious bias, which by definition is something that people don't say. Some complain about the gender gap and discuss ways to reduce or end it. The Psychology Today and Daily Mail (via Jezebel) articles report on evidence of women doing worse at math.

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I've never heard anyone say that women can't do math. Anyone who thinks that, can't do math - at least, doesn't understand statistics. But women, as a group, consistently under-perform against men in math in standardized tests, are under-represented in mathematical fields, and account for only one of the 59 winners of the Fields Medal. I would encourage any female who was interested and capable in a mathematical field to pursue it, but I wouldn't ever expect to see the gender gap disappear.

On “The Truth Behind Dresden

This is an interesting article. I've never seen this point of view on the Dresden bombing before. There are a couple of points that make me nervous, though. The article implies that Nazi civilians are legitimate targets. I'm also not crazy about the guilt by association in the last paragraph. As for the war overall, sure, it wasn't over in February 1945, but the outcome was certain.

On “President Trump Commutes Blagojevich Sentence, Pardons Others

There should be sentencing guidelines for Illinois state officials, just as there are for other major categories of criminals.

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I'm of two - maybe three - minds on the subject of pardons and commutations. I hate the concept. It's monarchical. But practically, I can understand how it serves as a last resort to prevent miscarriages of justice. When you get to the actual cases, though, I usually don't think they merit the pardon or commutation.

I'm sure the selective outrage has already started. This is probably the last story about this that I'll click on. I can't picture a lot of fruitful conversations in the next few days.

On “Very Stable Genius Predictions

Aside from the fact that all of us smart people know it's absurd, what's absurd about it? She maybe doesn't scream "winner" to me, but she'd fill the gaps in his resume, supercharge the female portion of the Democratic base, and potentially provide a sense of continuity that the Biden candidacy was supposed to. I think I read somewhere that she got more votes than Trump in 2016. Sure, to me it sounds like Wall Street money with a side of Wall Street money, but I don't know why it's more absurd than any other Bloomberg ticket.

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I have no love for Trump either, but I remember Obama and the Clintons, and that first paragraph seems a good description of them too. I'm aware I'm making a "both sides do it" argument, but if your point is that Trump constitutes a uniquely bad example, that kind of argument is apt. Trump is worse in degree, not kind. And even that is arguable. I can't think of any time Trump has "ruthlessly use[d his) wealth and privilege to stay on top". Maybe in the world of real estate, but not in politics. Not like Bloomberg has.

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The lesson of *Obama* was that an incompetent, inexperienced, divisive dimwit can run the country. Anything afterwards is corollary.

On “Weekend Plans Post: Burrowing In

We've been lucky in the DC area. Rainy and a low of 32. A couple of degrees different and the city's paralyzed. Still, cold rain somehow feels colder than snow. Big drops versus light flakes.

On “State of the Union: Pre-game, Live Thread, and Reax

I've never seen stats on this, but Limbaugh has got to be the most recorded person in history.

On “Chaos Isn’t a Ladder, It’s a Caucus in Iowa

Shadow? SHADOW? We're out here trying to keep the conspiracy theorists at bay, and they hired a software company named SHADOW?

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I would assume that, if there were more significant minor parties, we'd be seeing candidates receive less than 270 EV. The Electoral College might cease to serve a function, but it would be replaced by the House of Representatives with no obligation or inclination to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes in his state. In this scenario, the rise of third parties would actually strengthen the two largest parties.

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I do have to say, though, that people like clutter. People vote for candidates based on impressions. As a policy guy, I prefer the pithy ad, but a lot of people like the Mount Rushmore footage. But maybe this cycle people are more interested in results than personalities.

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I've used Citrix three times. You're not wrong.

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The ads are well-made. Here's an issue, here's Trump's position, here's what I would do and proof I could do it, vote for me. These are ads that could sell a lollipop or an oil change. There's no clutter.

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Yeah. I believe that Epstein killed himself, but at times it feels like I'm arguing against the evidence.

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That's a good point. People would rather think that someone is behind the scenes than that no one is behind the scenes.

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I hope so. Andrew's passing comment about conspiracies is something I hadn't thought about. But that's the era we live in, right? We spread them because we think they make us sound clever, as if fooling yourself has more dignity than being fooled by someone else. We collect and trade them like baseball cards. We don't even stop to think if we believe them, much less if they're right.

On “Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Landslides Are Best Left for Songs, and Other Fleeting Hopes

Like I said, I didn't watch it. I expected bad music and near-nudity, but I'm not stunned that there was a political message tossed in as well. I usually don't make a "shut up and ___" comment, because I don't listen to celebrities' opinions. Anyway, I didn't want to see them dance, and I'd rather that they "shut up" musically as well as politically, and there's a button on my remote that took care of that.

The halftime show didn't create the conditions that led to the US policy, and it didn't create the US policy, nor did it enlighten anyone on US policy, so there's nothing about the halftime show that affects the discussion of US policy. It was sleazy, though, so people have complained about that.

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That we're used to being preached at by celebrities? Sure.

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