Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 307

Last Friday my wife and I went to US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. It was her first visit to one of the finest government museums outside of Washington, DC … and admission is free.
In this recent editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Director of the Cincinnati Zoo ended his column with these words: You can sure tell who your friends are when the chips are down. I continue to wonder why they lack of outcry for the killed alligators at Disney World in Orlando.
Golf’s U.S. Open ended last week with a bit of a controversy that (fortunately) didn’t affect the outcome. With other sports using video replays to get the correct outcome, I have no problem with golf using today’s technology. However, if a player only gets 5 minutes to find a potentially lost ball, rules officials should only get 5 minutes from the time of the potential infraction to make a ruling. Doing so hours later or at the conclusion of the round is a problem that could lead to future problems.
I’ve known many people from Cleveland and its suburbs. Heck – I even married a Clevelander. I can also remember the last time the city won a major sports championship (1964). With their recent basketball championship, The Onion does what The Onion does.
I look forward to the results of the EU Exit vote (BREXIT).
Our introductory class in Argentine Tango is over – and the class was a lot of fun – so we may willing to learn more.
One more act in Colors: The Musical – and it features songs with “White” in the title. Any ideas why I saved this color for the last act? Hint: See Act 1. See you this coming Tuesday (28th June) at 9:30 pm (Eastern US).
No Explore post this weekend.
Last week I called for a national conversation around guns. This week, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate demonstrated the need for my request – and of course the partisans shun the idea by digging their heals into the stance.
I recorded the recent Libertarian Town Hall (on CNN), and I look forward to watching it when I get a chance.
People who follow elections realize Ohio is a swing state – and polls currently show a toss-up race. Here’s a short list that outsiders may not know about the Buckeye State.
  • Ohio is a strong Tea Party state. Even our Republican governor (Kasich) has bucked them.
  • The Cincinnati area has high viewership of reality shows.
  • Donald Trump’s personality fits with a large portion of the state.
In my opinion, American politics is off the rails – so this article from The Atlantic is interesting.
This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Nikki Haley 4) John Kasich, 3) Chris Christie, 2) Jeff Sessions, 1) Newt Gingrich
The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Xavier Becerra, 4) Andrew Cuomo, 3) Thomas Perez, 2) Elizabeth Warren, 1) Tim Kane
To lead us into the satire portion of this post, The Onion provides etiquette tips for wedding guests.
Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man getting futon all dolled-up for Craigslist photoshoot
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food sitting in sun for past 4 hours
Man at amusement park gets right back in line for another funnel cake
Family mercifully pulling plug on grandfather unaware they are sending him directly to hell
WalMart considered part of town’s late-night dining options
Grizzled fast-food junkie moving on to harder dipping sauces
Cincinnati has been crazy about Jimmy Buffett for many years. Because he was in town this week, he’s a good choice to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Humanity

RLHumanity

“Burger” on trumpet with his band, TBC, at a second line on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans

The majority of the world is good – I’ve written those words on past posts here because I believe it. Even when the news constantly reminds us about all the evil, I continue to believe the majority of the world is good.

Humanity is a term that refers to all of us. All … not all with a but or except … simply all. Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, location or any other qualifier or disqualifier, humanity includes the characteristics human beings have in common.

Acceptance
The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. (Brian Tracy, author)

RLAcceptance

Men in support of the Lady Buckjumpers second line in Central City, New Orleans

Compassion
Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. (Stevie Wonder, musician)

RLCompassion

Sammy Eubanks comforts his wife Corrie after he was notified that his band did not win the blues competition in Memphis, TN

Cooperation
The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life. (Gary Zukav, author)

RLCooperation

Members of The Stooges brass band rehearse prior to a second line in Central City, New Orleans

Goodness
Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people. (Dennis Prager, journalist)

RLGoodness

Three generations of Mardi Gras Indian queens on the most important of all nights — St. Joesph’s Night — in Central City, New Orleans

Humility
Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot. (Thomas Moore, poet)

A discussing of who to trust on the street, which is basically nobody. La salle Street, Central City, New Orleans

Mr. Otis gives me a little advice about life on the street in Central City, New Orleans

Integrity
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. (Oprah Winfrey, entertainer)

RLIntegrity

Coming out in Treme – the neighborhood, not the HBO series

Kindness
A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. (William Arthur Ward, writer)

One Giant Smile.

Sometimes we celebrate. The world’s biggest smile at Uncle Lionel’s Jazz Funeral in Treme, New Orleans

Love
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. (Ann Landers, journalist)

RLLove

Two second line walkers greet each other in Central, New Orleans

Patience
Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. (Joyce Meyer, author)

RLPatience

Taking pictures requires a little patience at Mardi Gras, Uptown, New Orleans

Respect
I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being. (Jackie Robinson, athlete)

Respect is what we owe; love, what we give. (Philip James Bailey, poet)

RLRespect

Mardi Gras Indians greet the elders during Downtown Super Sunday, 7th Ward, New Orleans

——————————–

Ray Laskowitz is a photographer in New Orleans. I can’t recall how we found each other, but I find his photos capture many aspects of humanity. Fittingly, he describes his blog as “about pictures and their backstories.” My experience told me he is the perfect artist for this collaborative endeavor. I gathered the text, then he supplied the images.

I encourage everyone to visit Ray’s blog for his stories and his website to see his photos, where images are available for purchase. I’ve invite Ray to respond to comments when he can, so feel free to ask him questions.

All photos are copyrighted by Ray Laskowitz @ Laskowitz Pictures

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 306

The players are competing in my favorite golf tournament this weekend – the US Open.

  • Fortunately, it is held at Oakmont – arguably, the most difficult course in America.
  • Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch as much as I would like.
  • Unfortunately, I don’t trust the USGA in the way they set the course.
  • Unfortunately, the USGA sold the television rights to FOX – which means fewer viewers but they got more money.

The Cincinnati Police Department accepted the Running Man Challenge from the Detroit Police Department – which then created this fun video.

Orlando, Florida has been the center of bad news in the past week. The latest news about the alligator attacking the toddler is shocking. Before finding the body, authorities euthanized 4 alligators . As I think back to the gorilla incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, did I miss the outcry of killing the animals?

The Spam folder on the WordPress Dashboard can be entertaining. For example, “The post have resolved our problem,thank you very much and hope you writing more good articles.” (Comment made for Colors: The Musical: Act 6: Purple Indigo Violet)

The completion of Act 8: Shades means there is one more act to go in Colors: The Musical. More info next week. Meanwhile (at the time of this writing) Act 8 successfully included songs with 18 different shades. Given the approaching July 4th holiday, I need to carefully examine the date of the last act – so I will say more in the next OITS.

No Explore post this weekend – but there could be a weekend post if I can get it ready.

To the fathers and those with fathers, Happy Father’s Day weekend. To those whose father is no longer with them, may pleasant memories bring you comfort and smiles. For those who didn’t have a father growing up and wanted one, peace to you.

The recent shootings in Orlando has many aspects to it – such as terrorism, gun control, and bigotry. Gun rights groups and gun control groups blaming each other. A frustrated president who knows it’s up to Congress – a Congress continuing to ignore the issue. Politicians deflecting the issue to one of the other aspects of this situation.

Amazingly, even after Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Charleston, Aurora, others, and now Orlando. This is a serious topic for many Americans, and I’m confident the majority of Americans would support an open debate and national discussion about the issue – and Congress is the one that could lead the way by example. I just suggested why it won’t happen.

Like any topic, I organize information about guns, gun control, and gun rights into three broad categories: what people know, what people think they know – but don’t (the misinformation and the misconceptions), and what they don’t know. An open debate on the Congressional floor and a national conversation will help inform people.

An open debate and national conversation would seem to be a common sense directive – however, common sense is not Congress’ forte. Oh, I forgot again – blame mental illness while not dealing with that issue either. Better yet – blame Middle Eastern immigrants. Then again, there’s always the ever popular excuse of It’s President Obama’s fault.

To lead us into the satire portion of this post, The Onion provides tips for cooking with meat. http://www.theonion.com/graphic/tips-cooking-meat-53088

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Sock gradually taking care of sticky spot on kitchen floor
Everyone laughing at thing man can’t change about himself
7-year-old unable to maintain single cohesive storyline while playing with action figures
New mother criticized for breastfeeding self in public
The Onion regrets spelling “cucumber” as “konkowbar”
Frustrated Obama writes letter to his Congressman about need for gun control

Interesting Reads
Flight: From idea to reality
Flags and identity
New sex position for frogs: Kermit Sutra
The 1886 famine in India
An educational investment
The unexpected art of Dakar
(Photos) Palace ruins in Kabul

Here are two songs to send you into the weekend: a leftover from Act 8 and s hit from 1982. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Colors: The Musical – Act 8: Shades

The Story
Color is a large, broad topic, yet color is a human perspective.

We see because cones on the eye’s retina detects a specified range of colors in light, transforms the light messages into nerve impulses to be sent to the brain for interpretation and translation into sight. If it wasn’t for the cones on the retina we wouldn’t see the range of colors that we do … but we could still see without cones.

Colors are a range in the visible light spectrum that correspond to some guy named Roy G Biv. We categorize colors into different levels as primary, secondary, and intermediate. involve tints, shades, and hues with neutrals, pastels, warm/cool, and complementary/contrast … yet designers and artists organize usable colors into a palate.

While a color space organizes colors, a color model serves as a mathematical interpretation … yet 216 colors have been identified as safe for web pages – each with an identify code – each with its own mixture of RGB (red, green, blue), HSL (hue, saturation, lightness and HSB (hue, saturation, brightness).

Cultures adapt color for various symbolisms. The same color can mean excitement, purity, danger, success, and more … yet colors are associated with personality, psychology, meditation, philosophy, and marketing.

No matter the perception, scheme, physics, theory, psychology, or culture, this experience is Colors: The Musical.

ColorsPlaybillPROGRAM
Act 1: Black
Act 2: Red

Act 8: Shades
Shade, tone, hue, tinge,touch tone, cast, highlights, lowlights, saturation, lightness, darkness, pigmentation, and complexion are closely related to shades.

A color wheel is a visual representation of colors in relationship to other colors. We start with primary colors, then move onto secondary and tertiary colors. We can add white and/or black to any of the colors to create shades. We add white and black to different hues of the shades. The bottom line is a large palette options available for our us.

Our choices are many – yet we work to complement the scheme with different shades through lightness, darkness, and coordinating.

Guidelines

  • Songs must include a color shade in the title
  • The shade may only be used once
Cautions
  • No colors from previous or upcoming acts (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, purple, brown, black, white)
  • No duplicate songs of the shade (once the shade is used in a song title, no more songs from that shade)
  • Stick to normal shade colors
  • The Producer has the final say on what is an acceptable shade
    No duplicates songs regardless of artists

Production Note
To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please 1) include the song title and artist in your text, and 2) paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line). The latter will provide a link, thus not embed the actual video … but I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary.

Announcement
This act is a challenge to attendees – but the aFa team is confident that it’s readers will rise to the occasion. The opening act is not only an American icon, but he’s also a global star. With his roots in the American heartland, his songs capture the heart and soul of ordinary Americans. Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome John Mellencamp singing Beige to Beige, (therefore no more songs featuring Beige in the title).

On the High Court Truth … and Nothing but the Truth

Non-US readers, please excuse me because I’m tired of reading and hearing the repeated crap, it’s time to tackle many of the partisan hacks.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on 13 February 2016 created an opening on the US Supreme Court. About a month later (16 March), President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as Justice Scalia’s successor. Two months since the nomination, the US Senate and its Judicial Committee have done nothing to advance the process, plus presidential candidates have made the vacancy a campaign issue. It’s time to destroy the cover.

1) Republicans proclaim the “Biden Rule” as their key rationale – a term they developed based on a speech Vice President (then Senator) Joe Biden made in 1992 (which was a presidential election year. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) As chair of the Judicial Committee, Biden did deliver a speech on 25 June 1992, a time between the conclusion of the last primary and the first party convention … whereas at the time of Scalia’s death, 1 caucus and 1 primary had been completed – therefore, many primaries and caucuses lie ahead.
  • b) At the time of Biden’s speech, there were no vacancies on the high court and no upcoming resignations … plus, no vacancies occurred during the election phase or during the lame-duck time between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
  • c) Biden stated that IF a vacancy would occur, he wouldn’t hold a hearing during the conventions and the contentious campaign, so President GHW Bush should delay a nomination until after the election and confirmation process would take proceed after the Senate reconvenes following the election (during the “lame duck” session).

2) Current Republican language of “Let the people decide” suggests the nomination should be left up to the next president and the next Senate – and the Biden Rule is the common rationale. WRONG.

  • a) Letting the next president decide was not the motive and never a suggestion by Mr. Biden.
  • b) The Constitution (Article 2) acts as the will of the people by granting explicit powers to the president to nominate and to the Senate for advise and consent.
  • c) The people had already decided by electing President Obama in 2012.

3) President Obama (when a senator) helped filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito in 2006. WRONG.

  • a) Although Sen. Obama favored a filibuster, such a vote within the Democratic caucus didn’t occur because there weren’t enough votes for the filibuster.
  • b) In other words, the filibuster of Justice Alito never occurred.

4) On 27 July 2007, 19 months before the end of President GW Bush’s term (in a speech to a legal organization), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances.” TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) Sen. Schumer’s view is a partisan view that is very similar to the Republican position today.
  • b) I disagree with Sen. Schumer then, an in my opinion, he was wrong. Besides, two wrongs don’t make a right.
  • c) Sen. Schumer’s statement did not block any further nominations.

5) Republicans support the delay because they claim a nomination by President Obama would “shift in the Court”. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) The same people complaining about a possible shift in the court today were favoring a shift in the court in 2006 when conservative nominee Samuel Alito was replacing a moderate swing vote (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
  • b) For the record, Justice Alito’s process from nomination to confirmation took 3 months.
  • c) This is another example of partisans favoring a court to impose their view upon society instead of favoring a court for all Americans.

6) Sen. McConnell (R-KY and Senate Majority Leader) reasoned that Republicans are justified in delaying the nomination because Americans (in 2010) voted to give Republicans control of the Senate. True, but the rest of the story…

  • a) One third of the Senate seats (selected by voters in 33 states) determined the outcome – not all Americans.
  • b) The Constitution clearly states the role of a duly elected president, which starts from the moment he/she takes office until the time a successor is inaugurated. In this case, all Americans duly elected President Obama in 2012 and inaugurated him January 2013 in order to serve until Inauguration Day 2017.

7) Republicans use phrases as “We owe it to him (Scalia).” Let’s examine the statement …

  • a) Interesting, Justice Scalia proudly proclaimed his judicial philosophy to base ruling on the Constitution’s original intent.
  • b) Based on the Constitution’s text, it difficult to believe that Justice Scalia’s originalist view would approve that blatant partisan action is Constitutionally justified.
    Justice Scalia would also refer to the Federalist Papers, especially #10 written by James Madison (Founding Father and key architect of the Constitution) – where Madison counters the “mortal disease” effects of partisan factions.

8) Some Republicans state the delay is following “tradition” or “bipartisan practice” regarding vacancies during an election. Others proclaim President Obama is breaking practice by nominating a justice during an election year. WRONG.

  • a) Note: Supreme Court vacancies during a presidential election year are rare.
  • b) Presidents Hoover (1932), President Roosevelt (1940), and President Eisenhower (1956) nominated justices during election years who were confirmed.
  • c) President Reagan nominated of current justice Anthony Kennedy on 30 November 1987, whom the Senate confirmed the 1st week of February (days before the New Hampshire Primary).

9) NOTE: The Pew Research Center reported that of the 10 longest vacancies on the Supreme Court, 9 of 10 were in the 1800s – of which 6 occurred between 1842-1874 (time preceding and following the Civil War). The lone exception being Judge Henry Blackman on June 9, 1970. Since then, the average duration of vacancies has been 55 days.

10) NOTE: Let us not forget that within hours of Justice Scalia’s sudden, and before proclaiming any of the above reasons, and instead of praising Justice Scalia’s tenure, both Senate Majority Leader McConnell and current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued strong statements about delaying the confirmation process.

11) NOTE: Possibly the only point Republicans did get right is that the on Constitution states the Senate involvement and duty, but does not provide a time-frame or how their decision-making process should proceed. Besides, Section 5 does provide the Senate the power “to determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”

My Final Thoughts
Hyper-partisanship purposely delivers a message of partisan constituents who probably get their news from a new organization that reports the message listeners want to hear. This repeating sound of partisan drivel resembles an echo chamber – that is repeating sounds where competing views are disallowed or (at best) under-representative. This information serves as the Kool Aid of choice so the partisans repeat what they perceive as resounding joy while actually displaying a profound ignorance.

Although a discussion of the question regarding a Supreme Court opening in an election year may be a worthy discussion, answers to pertinent questions are debatable, but the partisans will take the stances that are most beneficial to them at the time. However, Republicans do not have a corner on that market.

In this case, the Senate has an “advise and consent” role on behalf of the American people. Because of deliberate actions by Republicans, the Senate is miserably failing in its duties, and the reason is simple – acting for the benefit of party over doing their duty for the people.

On an Edible Color Palette

Life is like a jar of jellybeans – It doesn’t matter what you’re gonna get – they all taste good.  (Vishal Singh)
I would love to meet J.K. Rowling and tell her how much I admire her writing and am amazed by her imagination. I read every ‘Harry Potter’ book as it came out and looked forward to each new one. I am rereading them now with my kids and enjoying them every bit as much. She made me look at jelly beans in a whole new way. (Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO)
You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans. (Ronald Reagan, former US President)
Yes, this Explore is about jelly beans. This is not a musical tribute to them, but a very interesting less-than-4-minute report I saw on CBS Sunday Morning earlier this year. Watch and enjoy.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 305

For those enjoying the Cincinnati murals, here’s an article (with images) about the latest additions.

To my Muslim readers, best wishes as you start Ramadan.

The passing of any life causes us to reflect about that life – and the passing of Muhammad Ali was no exception. I was a teen when he became champion, and I know I didn’t understand much about him. But over time, my respect for him grew – and watching him light the torch at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta was quite the surprise. I salute a great ambassador for humanity. Here’s a gallery of images about his life from the BBC.

In this week’s post about the gorilla incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, I mentioned this editorial by the Toledo Blade calls for boycotting all things Cincinnati. I wrote to the paper’s editorial board to issue a challenge, but (as I expected) no response. After all, I want them to practice what they preach. I challenged them to the following:

  • Encourage the people of Toledo to
    • Not shop at any of the 12 Kroger grocery stores in Toledo
    • Not shop at Macy’s
    • Not purchase any Procter & Gamble products
    • Never come to Cincinnati, attend an event, eat at a restaurant, stay at a hotel, or even stop for gas as they travel south on I-75
  • Ask all retailers in the Toledo area (especially Kroger, CVG, Walgreen, Walmart, and Target) to remove all Procter & Gamble products from their store shelves
  • Encourage the University of Toledo and the Toledo professional hockey team to cancel games with Cincinnati teams

An idea: The Cincinnati Zoo could lead the way by enclosing pedestrian walkways in wire to keep visitors contained.

There are different types of tango, but our ballroom time has been with American tango. Argentine tango is different, so we decided to attend a 3-week group class. In week 1, the instructor focused on walking – then sent us this video of a couple doing an Argentine tango routine focusing on walking. Wow … now that is making simple look great.

That couple competes at a very high level. For those who what to see one of their routines, click here.

My favorite golf tournament (the US Open) is a week away. Oakmont is hosting the tournament, so given the USGA’s recent record of setting the course, I will be interested to see what they do to this fabulous golf course.

After a delay of a week, Colors: The Musical returns next week featuring songs with a color shades in the title. Curtain time will be at 9:30 pm (Eastern US) on Tuesday, June 14th. Here are the key rules.

  • No songs with any of the following colors in the title: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, Purple, or White in the title.
  • Shades should be an acceptable shade name, therefore caution should be used when selecting a shade.
    • Just because the shade is used as a paint color doesn’t automatically qualify the entry.
    • To make matters worse, The Producer has the final say on if the submitted shade is acceptable.
  • No duplicate shades can be used. In other words, once an acceptable song with Puce in the title has been submitted, no other songs with Puce in the title will be acceptable.

If I can get it ready, there will be an Explore post this weekend.

Public service is about serving the people. Politics is about serving the party. Unfortunately, much of public service is about politics.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for coming the presumptive Democratic nominee.

I find it interesting the ardent supports of Donald Trump (R-NY) continue to find scapegoats for his lying, harassment, disrespect, and lack of knowledge on issues. Then again, they are simply following the actions of their leader.

This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Nikki Haley 4) Jeff Sessions, 3) John Kasich, 2) Bob Corker, 1) Newt Gingrich

The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Julian Castro, 4) Sherrod Brown, 3) Mark Warner, 2) Tim Kane, 1) Thomas Perez

We are already getting many televisions ads from both sides in the campaign for the contested Senate seat (Portman/Strickland).

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion explains what our planet will look like in the year 2100.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Antidepressant Medication Label Reminds Users That Pill Should Never Be Mixed With Long Look In Mirror
U.S. Consumer Confidence Shaken After Mom Buys Wrong Kind Of Tortilla Chips
Man Who Sees The Good In All People Universally Despised
KFC Manager Wants Bucket On His Desk By End Of Day
Governor Urges Calm At Toyotathon

Interesting Reads
Zachary Taylor and death to the Whigs
The right to try experimental drugs
Maneuvering Heimlich
A brief history of pirates
New water-saving techniques
Global trends with renewable energy
The UK’s oldest handwritten note
BBC’s look at the US media-Donald Trump addiction

Summer has arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so here’s Glenn Frey to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.