Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 342

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Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo’s mega-star, has this major article in the New York Times Sunday edition.

The Kennedy Center Honors are this week, but the telecast is December 27th (9-11 pm US Eastern) on CBS. For me, this annual event is must-watch television! The 2017 honorees are Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Lionel Richie.

If you enjoy “Oh Come Emmanuel”, you may enjoy this handbell piece that we are playing next week. Very interesting rhythms  – and not easy! –  but at least it’s not like the late-October monster. Click here to listen.

Congratulations to Jordan Fisher and partner Lindsay Arnold for winning Dancing With the Stars. He was outstanding from the very start. To our eyes, his technique was over-the-top good. Here’s his Week 1 Tango. (The dance starts at 1:30.)

Cincinnati is lucky to be home to two top-level college basketball teams Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. The rivalry between the two schools that are only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart is intense – and this weekend is the annual meeting known as the Crosstown Shootout. Go UC! … but this is the only game of the year where I hope XU loses.

Here’s the beginning of an interesting local story.

Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the back of his head, as he walked home, carrying food for himself and his wife. Authorities say he was an innocent and unsuspecting victim. After two teenagers pleaded guilty this month at separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, Rukiye, offered to hug them. Javon Coulter said she could. Rukiye wants to visit them in prison regularly and help them become better people. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Just learned about a company named d.light.  Very interesting products! This is a way to help the people of Puerto Rico and other places without electricity. Click to see their products.

Saturday I’m posting a collaboration with an artist. Hope you stop by.

My little corner of the world is approaching several milestones, including 75,000th comment. I wonder who will get the recognition.

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Brilliantly said by Michael Gerson (Washington Post): Not only do we have tribal politics in this country, we also have tribal morality.

2108 is an election year for Ohio’s governor. The four top Republican candidates were in my area recently for a forum. Here’s the way the Cincinnati Enquirer started the report: The Republican nomination for Ohio governor might come down to who loves President Donald Trump more. And who’s least like current Republican governor John Kasich.

I continue to think Roy Moore will win in Alabama.

Two weeks I mentioned writing my Congressional Representative and Senator because their party like to claim, “It’s a mental health issue” when it comes to mass shootings. I asked what the Republican Party has done about mental health issues (purposefully without mentioning gun control.) My Representative responded: 1) Without answering my question. 2) Stating the issue with the Air Force files on the most recent incident has been corrected, and 3) focusing on gun control.

In terms of the plan for the tax cuts, interesting how the effects of the debt is less important to those who previously said the debt is of utmost importance. Ah yes – the nature of politics.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for clean eating.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Buick introduces new self-buying car
Nutella briefly entertained as lubricant
New historic evidence suggests most Pilgrims sailed back home to celebrate first Thanksgiving
Smithsonian acquires rare photograph where whole family looks really nice
Substitute teacher can tell he’s filling in for real asshole

Interesting Reads
Can machines become moral?
26 words we don’t want to lose
Ocean’s most-dedicated mothers
Digital privacy upcoming in the high court
60 years after Brown v. Board of Education
(Images) Bumper stickers for subway riders
(Photos) Random photos of the week

For your weekend entertainment, I continue the stretch of Fab Four songs. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On a Spiritual Spectrum

In the previous post (On a Beach Walk: No. 12), I presented a continuum. No matter the topic, a continuum tries to categorize in order to show relationships. Positions are difficult because overlap exists between adjacent groups and each group can be subdivided into more specific smaller groups.

The continuum below is an attempt to show relationship around the topic of science and theology regarding evolution. It’s not perfect, but it illustrates different positions people hold, so it also stimulates thinking and serves as a point of discussion.

Defining each group is another important aspect. Although each definition below is far from complete, they provide a sense for each group’s position. On the other hand, representing all positions would be difficult.

Strong atheist: Lack the belief in any god and are fervently against religion.

Passive atheist: Lack the belief in any god, but are less antagonistic to religion – possibly tolerant.

Agnostic: A broad group including (but not limited to)

  • Those who don’t believe in any god because we cannot prove a deity’s existence or non-existence.
  • Those who simply don’t know about any god or don’t care to know.

Spiritual naturalist: A broad group including (but not limited to) two broad groups: religious naturalists and humanists – neither believing in a god or gods.

  • Religious naturalists see the meaning of life through the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
  • Humanists embrace reason and logic in order to emphasize a moral and ethical code for doing good in human society.

Spiritual non-theist: Religions that are spiritual, but without believing in a god or gods; such as Buddhists, Hindus, and others

Deist: God who is not linked to any religion is the creator, but does not intervene and is not personal because God has left the world. There are different types of Deists.

Theistic evolutionist: God is the creator. Scripture and nature in a collective relationship. A range of theistic evolutionist exist.

Progressive Creationists: God is the creator and the earth is very old. Two groups include

  • God created many species from which others evolved through mutation and selection
  • Intelligent Design: God creatively intervenes over time when necessary.

Young-Earth creationist: God is the creator, Earth is young, and a literal Genesis in today’s language explains creation.

On a Beach Walk: No. 12

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think about a continuum of thought – one that I’ve encountered countless times over 8 years of personal study and reflections. A continuum containing a diversity of ideas, including the antagonistic polar opposites who only see their way – a way of being one of us or one of them – a shallow continuum of two.

I know where I lie on this continuum of thought, but not at either polarized end. Not only do I know my position between the continuum’s poles, I also know that there are others like me here. Interestingly those at the ends can’t justify our existence.

I see the antagonistic groups as the Blackhearts and the Righteous. Each acting as hooligans as they shout at each other and intimidate others. I see many others who wander as if they are lost because they don’t know. I invite them to have a seat to listen, but polar opposites are preying on the wanderers by saying they have to make a choice, which is really a forced choice. I try to provide a different perspective, but either the hooligans are too loud or the wanderers are either confused or won’t listen.

Some may be thinking I’m referencing Democrats and Republicans, but I am not because that’s too painful – perhaps another day. Today my thoughts are about the interchange of science and religion – an arena where the antagonistic foes force choices upon others – especially the vulnerable and the unknowing.

I am not vulnerable. I am not unknowing. I have a place and I can respectfully and confidently take while understanding the others. I also take my place knowing the difference between right/wrong and agree/disagree.

Finally I get someone to listen. They ask questions as if they don’t hear the shouting because they want to know where they belong. They want confirmation of something they wondered, but never heard.

The continuum is a lot to ponder as I walk – but I like to walk the beach for it is food for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Thanksgiving 2017

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Today (Thursday 23 November 2017) we in the USA celebrate Thanksgiving – a day of fun, feast, family, and fellowship. Bountiful Thanksgiving wishes to all.

On this day, I want to give thanks for a few things … OK … just a dozen.

I’m thankful for WordPress providing a platform for linking me to others across the world.

I’m thankful for encountering so many bloggers from across the globe who reinforce my belief that the majority of humanity is good. After all, goodness does not have boundaries.

I’m thankful for YouTube as a platform for everything and anything video, which allows me to share so much with others.

I’m thankful for first responders, caretakers, volunteers, and support staff who are there for the marginalized in any way: the disabled, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the abused, the poor, the suffering, the oppressed, and more.

I’m thankful for the good people I’ve encountered in life through work, neighborhood, church, community, school, events, and more because being around positive people is essential for a good life.

I’m thankful for my senses that allow me to experience the grand nature of creation.

I’m thankful for the ability to learn because the byproduct of learning differentiates stupidity, ignorance, and knowing.

I’m thankful for getting older because I am wiser than ever – therefore I don’t believe in going backwards.

I’m thankful for my Italian roots – and the attraction it gives me to a land afar.

I’m thankful for my wife – for her love, trust, support, companionship, and more for 42+ years of courtship and marriage.

I’m thankful for the existence of joy, happiness, and smiles – along with the many ways they can be attained.

I’m thankful that I don’t get tired of this video because it speaks volume to me about my belief in people.

On Two Towns in Normandy

One of the reasons we selected the cruise itinerary we did is this one stopped in Normandy France as we wanted to visited the sights of the D-Day: 6, June 1944. Because we also prefer to book off-ship tours, we selected Overload Tours for our day. (Previous post about Omaha Beach)

Overlord picked up numerous passengers at the Le Havre cruise terminal. After visiting Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, we didn’t realize what a pleasure the rest of the day would be.

Beside the beautiful countryside, the area is also well-known for Calvados: an apple brandy the GIs loved. (Calvados is similar to Applejack and Somerset Cider Brandy.

First Stop: Bayeux

  • Town center has a medieval flare of architecture and cobbled streets
  • The first city liberated in the WW II Battle of Normandy
  • Home to the Bayeux Tapestry, a 15th century embroidery detailing events leading to the Norman Conquest 224+ ft. (68.4 m) by 1.6 ft. (0.5 m). Click for more information

The town exhibits an Old World charm …

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… but the massive and impressive Bayeux Cathedral (The Lady of Bayeux) dominates the town center.

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Second Stop: Honfleur

  • Located on the estuary where the Seine River meets the English Channel
  • It’s old harbor area is surrounded by Old World architecture
  • St. Catherine’s Church is composed of all wood
  • Point of departure for New World explores as Samuel Champlain and Binot Paulmier de Gonneville
  • Popular with tourists

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For those wanting to see more, here are short video tours of each: Bayeux and Honfleur.

Given their experience in dealing with cruise ships, Overlord returned us to the dock with time to spare. We recommend Overlord Tours for those visiting the area.

As we departed Le Havre, we realized our British Isles cruise was over. Simply a fabulous itinerary. In the morning we would be up early for our transfer to Heathrow. On the plus side, our vacation wasn’t over as we would deplane in Reykjavik for 3 days in Iceland – but I’m going to give you a break from the vacation by returning to other topics. I will post about Iceland later.

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here. Thanks for coming along!

On a Beach: But Not Just Any Beach

The walk to the view from above is as serene as the view.

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The view from the beach is calm. The surrounding houses, people on the beach and in the water are reminders of the why.

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The statue, the sign markers, the museum, the photos are reminders of what happened on 6 June 1944 – right here on Omaha Beach.

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The rows and rows gravemarkers also reminded us of the importance of being about to enjoy happiness today on the beach below. This is the US cemetery above the beach.

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You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely. (General Dwight D. Eisenhower, United States Army)

Next post: More Normandy

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

On Edinburgh

Although Edinburgh’s human roots date back to 8000 BC, the city along the Firth of Forth became chartered in 1125. Today, it is Scotland’s political, cultural, and commercial hub. We journeyed into Edinburgh twice – first on a bus trip from Greenock (on the west coast) for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (previous post) – then several days later after our ship set anchor in nearby South Queensferry for encountering more of this Scottish jewel.

To me, Edinburgh was the most captivating of the cities we visited on this trip. The grand old stone buildings, the charm of Old Town, the Georgian and Victorian architecture of New Town, and being a city bustling with activity; – let alone the highly visible Edinburgh Castle sitting high on a hill above it all.

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With 5 major festivals in progress during August, the streets were not quiet – plus two cruise ships in town. I wonder how many of the people we saw were Edinburghers? But cheers to the many street performers!

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The Royal Mile (High Street) is Old Town’s main street. It’s loaded not only physical charm, it’s a vibrant area filled with shops, eateries, and establishments featuring adult beverages. Taking the long walk up the hill from our bus to the castle was a great introduction into Edinburgh. The feast continues by wondering nearby streets.

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As usual, our fee touched Edinburgh’s pavement many times on this day. This city is a visual feast – let alone filled with history. Greyfriars Bobby is an interesting story – a dog who faithfully stayed at his master’s grave for 14 years. Various people took care of Bobby during this time, and yes – he is buried a short distance from his master.

We loved Edinburgh and would like to return during a less-crazy time. We missed going into Edinburgh Castle because we chose to forego the long lines. Atop Calton Hill provides outstanding 360-views of the city, but I’ve shown enough pictures in this post. Besides the video shows it. Enjoy this 2-minute drone video tour giving you a taste of this fabulous city.

For those wanting to see more of Edinburgh, click here for a longer tour.

Next stop: Normandy France

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.