On a Monday Pug

I can easily recall this important moment from my year in eighth grade. Mr. Adams, our geography teacher, did not assign homework on this night because of an important television event that was about to happen. On this night, a super hero would debut complete with graphics of Boom, Bam, and Pow; and also introduce everyone to a theme song that would live for many years. And to this day, Adam West and Burt Ward are remembered.

Yet, more than 40 years later, reports exist that a certain representative from Minnesota is considering a run for the White House. Some would say that the pug is actually endorsing her candidacy instead of singing along with the theme song. Nonetheless, pets do the darndest things.

Wishing everyone a good week ahead and enjoy the pug!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 84

On the Jobs Council
President Obama recently appointed General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt (also a Republican) to lead the new jobs council. I wonder how many jobs GE outsources out the country. Then again, maybe Mr. Immelt offers a perspective on how to increase US jobs.

On the Upcoming Budget Talks
February will be an interesting month as negotiations with the Federal budget begin. Yes – the talk between the partisan ideologues, the wackos, and the pragmatic will deliver interesting light to we who anxiously listen.

Will this strange marriage occur? That is, the political left that doesn’t want the US military fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq uniting with the political right that is against fighting a war we can’t afford. Since time will tell, we’ll wait.

On Revisiting the Gulf War
The Gulf War to free Kuwait was 20 years ago. NBC’s Brian Williams had this interesting 40-minute interview with our main leaders at the time.

On the Bearcat Basketball
For much of the 1990s and into the new millennium, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (love them or hate them) were a force to be reckoned with in college basketball. In 2005, then (now gone) UC President Nancy Zimpher decided the program needed a fresh start, thus dismantled the program. I recently added a home game – one with a small, subdued crowd. I gazed into the upper deck and renamed the empty seats in Zimpher’s honor. Meanwhile, this weekend UC fans will welcome back former coach Bob Huggins with open arms.

On FYIs

  • Actor James Franco, one of the hosts for the upcoming Oscars show, is a PhD student at Yale.
  • A University of Utah study shows that people have already given up on 40% of New Years’ resolutions.
  • Farting in public can be dangerous – even deadly.
  • Most vegans don’t eat marshmallows.
  • Insomniacs should get out of bed of better sleep (huh?)
  • Being ballroom dancers, we’ll see Burn the Floor this weekend.
  • Which is riskier: smoking or taking Chantix?

On a Worldly Example of a Hero
CNN honored Narayanan Krishnan a few months ago as one of its Top 10 Heroes. Cheers to him for demonstrating amazing goodness to fellow humans, and thanks to Mckenzie for identifying this powerful video.

Have a safe weekend.

On the Recent SOTU

Nothing against President Obama, but I tried resisting the State of the Union (SOTU), but as if the Borg were assimilating me, resistance was futile. Upon reflection, below are some random notes.

For the record, I didn’t watch either of the opposing responses because, no matter the party, they don’t deserve my time. Besides, most reality shows (which I don’t watch) have more credibility than Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN). Nonetheless, here are some random thoughts about the event.

At both the beginning and the end, watching my representative work the center aisle demonstrated her self-centered nature. She is often critical of President Obama, yet accosted him as he entered and left – plus even asking him for three autographs.

No SOTU is loaded with details, so the detail-mongers predictably criticized the speech. Plus I challenge them to identify a SOTU that contains details.

The speech wasn’t about policy; nor was it a pep rally. The tone was about a vision of the future, but predictably, less about the actual plan on how to get there. Nonetheless, President Obama squarely put the monkey on the back of Congress.

He’s going to veto any bill with earmarks? A noble cause, but I wonder if this is do-able? By the way, budget a replacement bridge through the DOT instead of through an earmark.

With little red meat for the rabid, President Obama continues his recent triangulation mode, thus is relying on a partisan Congress to prove a point that their ideologies are more important than finding solutions.

How Congress passed the health care bill without including tort reform still amazes me. Oops, I momentarily forgot the legal lobby.

Education reform is an item that could gather bipartisan support. The major questions are twofold:  Can those who are products of an industrial age education system they praise able to create an environment for educational innovation? Are schools about to change their entrenched behavior?

Congratulations to Mr. President for continuing the time-honored tradition started by President Nixon in talking about the country’s need for energy independence.

I caught this one: President Obama said, “We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago.” Sorry Mr. President, the deficit started its upward movement during the Ford Administration (1974-76), and has increased annually many more times than not.

What does a leaner, more efficient federal government have in common congressional ethics? Both are oxymorons.

Overall, I heard more about spending than about cutting. Interestingly, government spending should increase to stimulate growth during down times (anti-GOP), but government needs to be cut spending during times of growth (anti-Dem).

Here’s something I don’t believe either party heard – You aren’t going to get everything you want. Oh my, those February budget talks will be interesting.

On Several Connections

This is particular day started as any normal day, and even turned out to be a normal day. Yet, this day had brought forth two strange connections: one odd and one historical.

At handbell practice two of our members revealed their recent discovered they were second cousins as their grandfathers were brothers. It started with one telling the other that he looked like her uncle, and it went from there. A simple oddity of two people at the same church not only not knowing, they first met each other in late August.

The other oddity involved our opening our mail earlier the same day. My dad passed away in September, and one of his requests is that we notify out-of-towners listed in his address book; so, I wrote a two-page story of his life, and we started the process. Since then, my sister and I have received many thoughtful responses – but none was more interesting that the one I received on this day.

This particular one also told a story of Angelo, whom my dad met in 1995 when he returned to Austria as part of the 50th Anniversary of VE day. They remained in contact since that day. Coincidentally, Angelo had died around the time our letter arrived, so this letter was from his surviving wife of 59 years. I can only imagine the tears in her eyes as she wrote the letter.

Angelo was a factory laborer in Italy. Due to the difficult conditions caused by the war, workers had strikes in 1943 and 1944. In early 1944, authorities arrested Angelo and then deported him to Mauthausen-Gusen, a Nazi concentration camp. In May 1945, the US Army, of which my dad was a member, liberated the camps. Angelo’s widow wrote, “For the rest of his life he devoted himself to transit the memory to the younger generations, asking those who listened, not to allow a future recurrence of similar barbarism.”

Although we Baby Boomers not only grew up in the WW II shadows, we didn’t experience the world war first hand. Yet, our connection to that time is closer than we think. Meanwhile, I hope Angelo and Dad have reconnected.

On the Upcoming Address

He (the president) shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

The presidential address known as the State of the Union is upon us. Think about how this report evolved over time. Prior to Woodrow Wilson, only George Washington and John Adams spoke to Congress, thus most presidents simply submitted a written report. Calvin Coolidge was the first to deliver the address on the radio, while Harry Truman’s address was the first broadcast on television. I imagine the introduction of both of these media affected the message – just as the instantaneous nature of today’s climate of multimedia outlets.

Even though the Constitution distinctly states the president addresses Congress, there is no doubt in my mind that the growth in technology has transformed the event into the original intent of the framers of the Constitution – the president addressing the people by delivering a report to Congress.

Given the today’s climate and recent events in Arizona, some members of Congress decided to sit together. Although the gesture is both noble and symbolic, numbers suggest that the vast majority will continue the ongoing tradition of sitting with their party.

The stage is set for another reenactment of a political pep rally featuring the mentality of stand to the right, stand to the left, stand up site down fight fight fight. Count me in as one support columnist George Will’s comments on a recent This Week (ABC):

Every president, regardless of party, tries to stroke every erogenous zone in electorate. And it becomes a political pep rally, to use the phrase of Chief Justice Roberts last year. If it’s going to be a pep rally, with the president’s supporters or whatever party standing up and braying approval, and histrionic pouting on the part of the other, then it’s no place for the judiciary, it’s no place for the uniformed military, and it’s no place for non-adolescent legislators.

For me, that is a sad commentary on our elected officials – that the Capitol Hill occupants continue to believe that the president is addressing them, thus not the people. Then again, I understand their belief system through this unidentified quote I saw last week – Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your party.

On a Happy Blue Monday

I first encountered Blue Man Group many years ago on Regis & Kathy Lee. (Yes, before Kelly Rippa) – and the appearance was long before their appearance on Intel commercials. With that first encounter, I knew that I made to see these wonderful entertainers sometime in my life.

I first saw a Blue Man Group in a small theater in Boston. Several years later, I was able to catch them at an outdoor concert venue here in Cincinnati. For those who don’t know, shows do vary based on the venue.

Above, the first track from The Complex CD, is a great tune to crack up in the car; plus it is how Blue Man Group starts some shows. Enjoy and have a great week.