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Movie Day

Didn’t get much done today,

but that’s O.K.,

it’s a Saturday

just hung out with the wife and kids

and I am kind of glad I didtomorrowland

Helena had to stop at a shop in Žižkov, so she suggested we walk there and then go for lunch to make a family outing of it and everybody was cool with that  except I suggested we go there by conventional means and walk back because, you know, that’s downhill.  Everybody had an opinion and we compromised by walking halfway and then taking a tram and on the way home it was raining, or snowing, kind of in-between, like a nasty melting rain, so we got on the Metro.

When we got home, we started a 1,000 piece puzzle, it might be finished tomorrow, and watched 3  films.  Well, we were all in the same room but I doubt if any of us  actually watched more than two of them.

It reinforced my opinion that the real reason people are willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch a film in the cinema is that in the cinema everybody shuts up and watches the film.  If everybody would behave at home in the same civilized manner they behave in public, one could expand one’s film viewing experience for a fraction of the price.

We saw Monster U., which I insisted on watching in English, over the kids’ objections, because I’d never seen it before.  Cute movie.  Every college movie stereotype in the world – the stuck up frat, the nerd frat, the non-stop popularity contests, the hijinx, the expulsion, the last chance, the big contest – but with monsters.

Then we watched Monsters, Inc., but I let them watch that one in Czech, we’ve already seen it so I didn’t care so much.  I’ve just started book 3 in the Fire and Ice series, and we’d started the puzzle, so I was occupied.

Then we watched Tomorrowland, which was my suggestion.  I’d heard it was good, even though Rotten Tomatoes only had it at 52%.

It surpassed my expectations.  I don’t know what the critics were looking for.  This was the best sci-fi movie I’ve seen since Men in Black.  It had robots and rockets and alternate dimensions and jet packs and Hugh Laurie playing a villain and Keegan Peele playing a rasta villain robot, and even a bit of steam punk with the Jules Verne rocket hidden in the Eiffel Tower, the slickest piece of product placement I’ve ever seen (“Oh my God, we almost died,” said the heroine.  “There’s a coke in the fridge,” said George Clooney.  The cute, little robot girl opened it for her in classic fashion, using the counter top, and she chugged it.  They then proceeded to save the world.) and, in classic Disney fashion, an uplifting, feel good message at the end.

I totally recommend this film.

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A Good Day

Today was Black Friday in America, and since everybody’s talking about the things they are grateful for, I am grateful that I am thousands of miles away from that shit.

The mall where Helena works had a Black Friday sale and that made me laugh.  Czechs often try to emulate American culture, but they pick absolutely the worst parts – cars, fast food, NCIS….

But, there weren’t any fistfights, or people ripping stuff of the shelves.  They gave out candy, had a few specials, and people had a lovely time.

I had a very nice day.  There was a bit of confusion this morning over which one of us was to take Isabel to school because I was working on a proofreading, but about 7 a.m. I told H she had to start getting ready and she said “No, you’re taking her,” so that was that.

I had 3 lessons today and they all went well.  My first student I always meet at a coffee shop.  She’s one of the first people I met when I came to Prague and we’re still friends so she’s not actually a paid student, but she buys me breakfast.

Then, I thought I had plenty of time so came home, let Fifi out of her cage, put my phone on the charger, looked at the time and….whoa, damn, time to get moving.  Gave Fifi a bit of food and she went right back in.  Rabbits like security, a cage does not bother them.

On the way, read some in a book a friend of mine wrote.  It’s got some flaws, but it’s impressive.  He  wrote a book.  A novel.  It’s fairly entertaining and interesting, and filled with science facts, as good science fiction stories should be.

Then it was two kids’ classes, which is a great way to wrap up the week.  The first class went very smoothly, just the three girls were there and one, who I was worried about because I really thought she should be reading by this age, actually was reading a little bit, which was incredibly progress.

In the second class, (the little kids, they’re like 4) the boys just decided to go crazy and be extremely unco-operative, alternately rolling around on the floor and all grabbing my legs and trying to tackle me.  I thought this was going to totally freak out the little girl who is very shy and sometimes just bursts into tears, but she was actually calm in the middle of the noise and even answered a few questions…in a barely audible whisper, but she answered.

When I count up the score for the day, I am way ahead.

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Surely, THIS Time He’s Gone Too Far

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy with the ‘Mexican rapists’ speech I thought “Well, that’s that.  He’s done before he’s even begun.”  To  my surprise, he wasn’t.  That line resonated with a large enough segment of the Republican parthy that it actually launched him into front-runner status.

At the first debate, when he had his little dispute with Megyn Kelly, I thought “OMG.  Racist and sexist both.  That won’t play well.” But it did.

When he made the remark about Megyn probably being on her period, and started whining about how all the moderators were picking on him, I thought “Surely he’s finished now.  Some guys might think that’s funny if you’re out in a bar drinking and there are no women around, but it’s not what people want in a national leader.”  Wrong again.

Encouraging his supporters to beat people up and excusing them when they piss on the homeless (literally literally), suggesting things which are clearly unconstitutional (No, Donald, the president has no authority to close a mosque) and strongly reminiscent of Nazi Germany (the identity  badges and the Muslim database)  offended those of us on the left, and most people with any shred of a conscious, or even a memory, but they didn’t put a dent in his base.  Not at all.

So, I wasn’t  surprised that pictures of his son next to a dead tiger didn’t seem to affect his popularity.  The kind of people who  like Trump aren’t at all bothered by killing animals for sport.

BUT.  Making fun of a handicapped person is a step too far.  His supporters, while they may be horrible racists, and sexists (well, the men anyway.  The women are just morons.) and killers of animals, can’t possibly approve of making fun of a handicapped person.  That’s kicking a person when they’re down.  It’s unsportsmanlike.

If it turns out (and nothing would surprise me) that this is not the last straw, that his support remains solid, his base firm, then we need to start looking beyond Trump.  Not far beyond.

Just at the people in the crowd, cheering him on.  Because anybody who can still attend a Trump rally after that should be shunned by decent society.  Seriously.

This is not just ‘a difference of opinion.’  If you still support Trump, you are a bad person.

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Well, finally.  It’s about damned time and long overdue but I’m happy that the cop who shot 17 year old Laquan  McDonald is going to be charged with  murder.

Of course, that’s still a long way from a conviction, and an even longer way from actually serving  time, but it’s a step  in the right direction and it just may happen.

Of course, this does not bring back Tamir Rice.  It does not provide justice, or closure, to the guy who was shot while holding a toy gun in his hand, in the toy aisle at Target.  It does not provide justice for the guy who was held down and suffocated on the streets of Manhattan by police for selling loose cigarettes.  It does not provide justice for Sandra Bland, who was pulled over for a broken turn signal, arrested for resisting arrest, and murdered at the precinct house.  It does not provide justice for the hundreds of people, maybe thousands, who have been murdered stone cold dead by the police in recent years.

But, it’s a start.  At trial, perhaps they can also find out why it took a year to bring this case to trial, and why it took reporters over a year to see the video.

And maybe, just maybe, seeing one police officer go to jail will have a salubrious effect on the others.  We can only hope.

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Is Trump a Fascist?

Godwin’s Law says that, in any argument, the first person to accuse the other of being Hitler loses.  It makes sense.  It is, obviously, hyperbole.trump

Unless somebody’s set up concentration camps and killed like about 10 million people, unless somebody’s built up a military machine that could take over the whole world, unless they’ve moved their armies into a series of other countries, spreading fear and terror across the planet, then you can’t really compare them to Hitler.

Donald Trump is trying to make himself an exception to Godwin’s Law.    He will probably never be another Hitler, because the U.S. in 2015 is not the same as Germany in 1932.  It’s not as impoverished, for one thing.

But, you can’t rule it out.  He’s the leading Republican at the moment and if he gets the nomination anything can happen.

That is why his statements about making Muslims wear an identifying badge, just like Jews in Nazi Europe had to, is so frightening.  That’s why his statements about bringing back waterboarding are so frightening.  That’s why it’s so frightening when he encourages his fans to beat up people who disagree with them.

Whether or not he’s an actual Nazi, he is running as one.  That is his platform.

And he has a serious shot at winning.

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I enjoy my Monday morning classes.  Two guys in one office.  The first one is a talker.  His English is pretty good, although not nearly as good as he thinks it is, but it’s an easy lesson because once he gets going I just have to nod a lot and occasionally help him out when he can’t find a word.  The second student is nearly a complete beginner, but cheerful and easy to talk to.  He’s learned the verb ‘is’ and uses it for everything, e.g. ‘I is like cheese,’ or ‘I is work weekend.’

There is just one problem, which wasn’t a problem at all until this morning.  I got there at 8, maybe a few minutes before, and almost simultaneously got a text from student #1 that he would be 15 minutes late.  That’s the same as always.  Not a real problem.  In weeks past, I’ve usually had a book to read.  This morning I had a sudoku puzzle to finish.

And then, pretty much at that exact moment, it started to snow.  A few wispy, little flakes, nothing that would even stick to the ground.  It was the first snow of the season, and rather beautiful, in a way.

Still, I didn’t feel like standing around in it for 15 minutes.  The entrance to the  parking garage provides a bit of shelter from the wind, but still isn’t an ideal place to wait.

And, sooner or later, this is going to happen when a raging blizzard is going on.  I need to scout that neighborhood and find someplace that has coffee and is open at 8 a.m.

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In the never ending battle
for the human race’s soul
they have the Koran, we have
Sex, and drugs and rock’ n’ roll


You Can’t Do That in a Burqa

If we, in the West, were really confident in our cultural superiority (and we should be), we would take in all of the refugees, on the assumption that within a couple of years outside the literal and metaphorical desert of the Arab world, they’d start to come around.

Of course, some are religious, and stuck in their old ways, and don’t want to learn the new language or adopt the new ways.  They are going to move into the neighborhood that has the greatest number of their compatriots, and that’s a vicious cycle.

How long does it take to break that cycle?  One generation.  Kids want to be a part of the culture of the country they’re living in, and they will shed their old ways.

It’s an optimistic view, I know.  And, Islam provides some unique obstacles.  Women, for instance, are basically prisoners.  They cannot go to a beach in the summer and wear a bikini, they can’t even shake hands with a man, which makes intermarriage really difficult to achieve, and intermarriage is the way to group assimilation.

Nonetheless, modern, secular, international culture will prevail.  We’ve got the best music, all the cool movies and TV shows, we can eat anything we damned please, and a person can have wild sex with a wide variety of partners before marriage and nobody thinks anything of it.

I can’t understand anybody not being attracted to that.

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