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Creatures of scary habits

Plane OverheadSomewhere in Potomac tonight there is a family sitting in a home that cost more than $1 million, upset with the noise coming from commercial aircraft flying into Reagan National Airport and they’ve convinced the county to spend $150,000 to an aviation expert in order to come up with alternative flight plans into Reagan.
Putting aside that it is still hard for me to swallow that there is an airport named after the president who took a giant squat on air traffic controllers, I’ll happily sign up to take the money from the county because I can tell you there can be little if no change in the traffic pattern at National.
That’s not something those people living in multi-million dollar homes want to hear, but it’s something that’s going to be said.

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Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington

PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZI recently had the opportunity to attend the Senate's combined hearing by its Judiciary and Commerce Committees, during which Facebook owner and creator Mark Zuckerberg fielded some five hours of questions.
Clearly the concern of the some 42 senators was user privacy and the protection of personal information in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the personal information of some 87 million Facebook users was improperly taken and used for unauthorized political purposes during the 2016 presidential election.
While a comparison was made by some Republican senators to the voter targeting done during the Obama presidential campaigns, the difference here is the deliberate flood of misinformation done by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 Trump campaign.
Certainly user privacy and the protection of personal data are a concern of major proportions. Facebook is an enormously large company with over $40 billion in annual income, more than 25,000 employees and more than 2 billion monthly active users.
However, as I listened to the testimony I couldn't help but think that the true overarching issue is more than privacy; it is responsibility. What is the responsibility of platform providers to manage the content of those platforms?

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Despite resolve, NC Courage tops Washington Spirit, 4-2

Spirit forward Frannie Ordega dashes between Courage players Denise O’Sullivan (8) and Merritt Mathias (11), on her way to an on-target shot on goal, blocked by keeper Sabrina D’Angelo. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFESpirit forward Frannie Ordega dashes between Courage players Denise O’Sullivan (8) and Merritt Mathias (11), on her way to an on-target shot on goal, blocked by keeper Sabrina D’Angelo. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  BOYDS — Perfect weather did not bring perfect play to a tight match between the Washington Spirit (1-2-0) and the undefeated North Carolina Courage (3-0-0). In front of 3400-plus spectators, the visiting Courage robbed the Spirit of a home match win by 4-2.
Experts predicted the Spirit would be doing well to score a single goal against a team that has allowed no goals scored against them during regular season play. The Spirit surprised everyone by not only being the first team to score against the Courage, they did it in the first three minutes of the match.
Spirit forward and U.S. international player Mallory Pugh broke the clean-sheet streak of the Courage with the Spirit’s first goal. Courage keeper Sabrina D'Angelo did everything she could to block the unassisted shot by Pugh, but there’s no shame in losing to one the world’s most formidable forward players.

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Democrats face a messaging problem

safe imageThe biggest issue facing Democrats as they head toward the 2018 midterm elections and their quest to retake both the House of Representatives and the Senate is to identify what Democrats are for and not just against. The search is for a rallying issue, so to speak.
The difficulty is that it is sometimes a bit challenging to distinguish the two especially when dealing with such a destructive force as the CONmander-in-Chief.
There are a couple of good places to start, however. First, simply look at all of the Obama Administration actions that have been, item by item, undone by the current administration. Re-entering the Paris Climate Accord since we are the only nation, and I said only nation thanks to Trump, who is not a signatory is one easy issue to adopt for Democrats. Climate change, by the way, is real, and not being part of the solution implies we are part of the problem. Current efforts to roll back automobile emission standards are a prime example.
Rescinding President Obama's executive order on DACA, Deferred Actions on Childhood Arrivals, only served to create an unnecessary crisis. How this issue will ultimately be addressed remains to be seen, but it is likely that it will leave casualties no matter how it is addressed, if at all.

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Ram pickup goes mellow while Ford overhauls its F-150

The 2019 Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck has been redesigned to smooth out its most aggressive styling details. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2019 Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck has been redesigned to smooth out its most aggressive styling details. COURTESY PHOTO  Twenty-five years ago, Chrysler was selling the country’s stodgiest full-size pickup truck. Boxy and characterless, the 1993 Dodge Ram lacked the gently curved body of the Ford F-150 or the extra-brash angularity of the Chevrolet C/K.
The company flipped the script for the 1994 model year. A prominent crosshairs-style chrome grille stood tall and proud on the front end, with low headlights swelling into bold fenders.
Though it remained the country’s No. 3 best-seller, always behind its Ford and Chevrolet competitors, the Ram continued to be the most aggressive American truck. It solidified its image by introducing the famous “Hemi” V8 engine in 2003 with best-in-class horsepower.
But with its latest redesign, which just hit dealerships as a 2019 model, the Ram has become more mild-mannered. An all-new front end design raised the headlights and revised the grille, abandoning the signature look of the last two and a half decades. Gone are the fender bulges and the crosshairs grille. If it weren’t for the big “RAM” lettering on the new grille, the front end would be almost entirely anonymous. LED light bands ringing the headlights resemble the Dodge Charger sedan’s, but for several years Ram has been its own brand anyway, no longer a Dodge.

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We all should be "Mad as Hell" again

bs md house budget 20180322What's that you say?”
“Come again?”
“I can't hearrrrr youuuuu!”
That is, in essence, what our state legislators have said to taxpayers in the state of Maryland. Basically, their message is: I can't hear you, and even if I did, I don't really care!
As previously mentioned in this column, the recently-released federal tax plan hits the taxpayers of high-taxed states such as Maryland particularly hard. It is estimated that, as a result of the federal tax plan, Maryland taxpayers will see an increase of approximately $400 million in state taxes owed for the 2018 tax year.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Well, the state legislature has apparently decided to spend it and not return it to the taxpayers who, if nothing is done, will see an associated increase in their state tax bill come April 15, 2019.
Using the 2014 Personal Statistics of Income from the Comptroller's table for itemized deductions, the average increase in state and local returns for Marylanders with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less would average about $1000 in additional state tax per return.

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Driesell to be inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame

Lefty Driesell, seen here during his first season at University of Maryland.  COURTESY PHOTOLefty Driesell during his first season at University of Maryland. COURTESY PHOTO  Finally.
Former University of Maryland head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
It’s about time.
Driesell, a former Silver Spring resident, was honored over the weekend with the announcement of the crowning achievement of his coaching career.
The father of Springbrook High School graduate Chuck Driesell, Lefty will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“He deserves it,” said Rockville High School graduate Brian Howard, who played at Georgia Tech in the 1980s, “How can he not be in the Hall of Fame?”

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Washington Spirit wounds Orlando’s Pride, 2-0

Washington Spirit’s Mallory Pugh (11) moves the ball deftly towards the goal with Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger (11) right behind her trying to end the run. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFEWashington Spirit’s Mallory Pugh (11) moves the ball deftly towards the goal with Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger (11) right behind her trying to end the run. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  In a startling outcome, the Washington Spirit (1-1-0) outplayed the Orlando Pride (0-1-1) this past Saturday in a 2-0 win over the visiting Orlando team. Playing in front of 4,989 spectators, the Spirit played a back-and-forth match of relatively even moves with the Pride until the 80th minute.
The Pride, failing to mark U.S. international player Mallory Pugh as tightly as they had earlier in the match, opened a canyon of space for Pugh. Pugh, with possession of the ball off a pass from Ashely Hatch, did what she usually does: maneuver the ball faster and better than everyone else on the pitch.
Pugh outran the Pride’s Alex Krieger, who was closing in from behind. She outpaced,Canadian international player Shelina Zadorsky, the Pride’s center back defender, who ran parallel to Pugh but unable to get close enough. At the last moment of open space between her and the net, she lit off a shot that nutmegged keeper Ashlyn Harris and stopped in the back of the net. She scored the first goal of the match in the 80th minute. The Spirit were ahead 1-0 over the Pride.

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Mazda’s Miata is made for fun but not for snow

The 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a delightful two-seat roadster that’s priced from $26,185. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a delightful two-seat roadster that’s priced from $26,185. COURTESY PHOTO  A classic Buick slogan boasted, “When better automobiles are built, Buick will build them.”
But perhaps that sentiment is more appropriate to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a uniquely endearing two-seat roadster that’s been providing affordable grins for nearly three decades. The only way to get a better Miata is for Mazda to develop an improvement.
For 2018, Mazda made some modest updates to the Miata. It’s nothing that will likely make you rush out and buy one, but it continued to hone a package that’s already tremendously appealing to the right customer.

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Thirty Days in the Hole!

Cappuccino topped with dry milk foamWoke up this morning feeling half past dead, with this silly rock lyric running through my head.
The mailman was early and gave me a shout about something I had no idea about.
Then the garbage man jumped in screaming “Make America Great Again.”
Finally I had my morning covfefe and started thinking in prose once more – though my rock rhyming lingered for a while, that’s for sure.
I switched on the radio – that ancient listening device – and caught Humble Pie’s “30 Days in The Hole.”
Then I felt at home.
Suddenly it all made sense. I wasn’t having a lucid dream. This is reality. In the year 2018 we are now officially through the looking glass.

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