On a Beach Walk: No. 1

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Never a run – very seldom a stroll – but a walk – a good exercise – and as we age, walking keep us moving. My wife and I walk at home. We walk on vacation. We walk on the ship’s deck when cruising. We like to walk.

As we walk, conversations can be short or long – the topics deep or shallow – important or trivial. In times of silence, my mind keeps going – to think – to ponder the world. Thinking is also good exercise. Like the body, the mind must keep moving as we get older.

We walked a lot in January – yes – on the beach as this was our first attempt at being snowbirds from the north who went south for the winter. Walking on the beach as snowbirds facing the difficult daily questions of wondering about the temperatures at home – wondering what’s for dinner – wondering about the day of the week or the date because we aren’t sure. Be

As I walk the beach my contemplations are mental dictations on imaginary paper. Oh the blog post I have created my walking. Yes – the perfect words of never-to-be published gems that never make it outside my mind. Sometimes poetic in the rhythms of Frost, Keats, or Poe – well, at least in my mind.

My thoughts can be simple or complex. Some about wonder – some leading to awe. Others start with awe and lead to wonder. Some are personal, others professional, and others in wide-ranging topic – but fiction is a rare occurrence. All this as water refreshes my feet.

Sometimes after walking I attempt to recreate those insightful words. Usually in a notebook – but it’s never the same as the perfect string of words while walking the beach – yet future posts they will probably be – simple reflections from my mind as I walk on the packed sand along the water’s edge where water retreats to the sea.

There will be more walks in the weeks ahead because we were in the south for 27 days. More walks because I like walking the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing my feet.

Do you like walking the beach? Long distances or short? Do you contemplate or just try to chill?

earlymornwalker

 

On Alabama Tidbits

Although I’ve been to the state of Alabama before, staying a month allows ample learning opportunities. I present tidbits you may not know about the state of Alabama.

1) These people are football crazy! During the month and no matter the day of the week, the newspaper’s Sports section features college football – even weeks after the season is over. Ohio is enthusiastic about football. Texas thinks they invented the game – but Alabamians are just bonkers over football.

2) Grapefruits and oranges in the store were of pathetic quality. I get better tasting citrus in Ohio. Being close to Florida, one would think the quality would be better. After all, Florida thinks they invented grapefruits. Why we couldn’t find pink grapefruits from Texas is beyond me.

3) We stayed in Orange Beach – where sales tax is 10% on everything!

4) The Alabama coast is only 100 miles (160 km) – but the beaches are very good.

5) Restaurant menus offer many fried foods – they may be willing to fry anything.

6) Politically, Alabamians are very conservative, therefore all troubles can be traced back to presidents who were Democrats – especially Obama and Clinton.

7) Alabama is home for manufacturing/assembly plants for Toyota, Airbus, Honda, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.

8) Alabama is home to the first Mardi Gras in the U.S. (Mobile).

Image from Tennessee’s Boll Weevil Eradication Program

Image from Tennessee’s Boll Weevil Eradication Program

9) The Atlas rocket that launched astronauts to the moon was built in Alabama (Huntsville).

10) Alabama is home to the monument honoring an agricultural pest – the Boll Weevil (Enterprise).

11) Alabamians described President Trump’s inaugural address as uplifting, refreshing, unifying, powerful, great, and amazing.

12) Alabama has the longest Constitution in the world: over 300,000 words and 775 amendments.

13) Alabama is the only state naturally possessing all the raw materials for steel. No wonder a statue of Vulcan sits on a hilltop above Birmingham.

14) I’ve never seen so many billboards advertizing attorneys – and the number of TV commercials for attorneys is very high. I saw this commercial 10 times in 45 minutes – while wondering about the content. Any thoughts?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 325

Welcome to the post number 1,901. I enjoy milestones. Given Friday’s timely post temporarily bumping OITS from its slot, I present OITS: The Weekend Edition.

Anything wrong with this sentence? “Rodriguez was involved in a deadly car crash last month and will reportedly miss several months due to shoulder surgery.”

Now compare the above sentence to this one. “Rodriguez needs left shoulder surgery thanks to a January car crash and will not play for three to five months.”

Here’s a throwback to the days of Monday Morning Entertainment. I love it … and had to watch to the end because I wanted to know how it ends. For those who chose to watch, enjoy.

I have long maintained that the viewer is more biased than the news source. Consider these points about the morning shows. CBS This Morning is more about news than entertainment, and its ratings are last in the race between the big 3 networks. The highly biased Fox & Friends has by far more viewers among the cable morning shows.

I was surprised that the recent post about Charles Darwin’s faith created little reaction.

Baseball teams are starting spring training this week. My Cincinnati Reds will be preparing to defend last place in the division.

Not only did Americans voted in Donald Trump, people across the globe voted out an iconic Monopoly piece – the Thimble.

Regarding President Trump’s latest press conference, these two comments say it best. First, from Scott Pelley at CBS News: “President Trump called a hasty news conference and reached for the familiar tools that built his career: bluster, bravado, exaggeration and a few loose facts.” Second, from one of the greatest American orators.

The lack of vetting of cabinet members by Republican senators is pathetic.

Many Democrats are looking ahead to the 2018 mid-term elections. In the Senate, 33 seats are up: 8 held by Republicans, 23 by Democrats, and 2 by independents … plus, a good number of the 23 Democratic seats are in states Mr. Trump won. All that adds up to not looking good at the moment. Besides, the party blew the great chance they had in the 2016 Senate elections. Pathetic … simply pathetic.

I’ve been telling my wife and a friend that the reason why Congressional Republicans don’t investigate the White House or vet the cabinet nominees is because Congress has not received any of the agenda they want. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) confirmed my thoughts Wednesday by saying, “I don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. … We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

The analogies keep getting better and better. I’ll paraphrase Scott Pelley. He’s not mad at the media. He’s mad at not being the man at the top any more because he has to answer to the public, Congress, Federal Courts, and the press. He is now the apprentice, not the boss, so a press conference is one of the few places he can take command.

Advice for the Democratic Party. Go left! Energize the base. Go Left! Follow the Republican lead of abandoning the center. Go left!

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The Appeals Court going against President Trump’s executive order
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation
The end of Cincinnati Bearcats 15-game winning streak
Flu outbreaks in many states
Shortage of vanilla beans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for starting a community garden.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Cryptic new laundry rule hints at tale of bizarre infraction
Short film drags on
Scientists developing pollinating bee drones
Tupperware will not truly recover from red curry leftovers
Pope Francis sneaks leftovers to false god Moloch at backdoor of St. Peter’s Basilica
Report: That was a very stupid thing to say

Interesting Reads
Five of the most violent moments of the Reformation
Toads: To kiss or not to kiss
Lessons from the 1937 flood
High school graduation peril in Tennessee
The parasite that lures mosquitoes to humans
A way to build productive bipartisanship

To here’s a song for your weekend, enjoy the group of legends known as the Traveling Wilburys. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On 64

cooltext64In Mathematics
64 – the square of 8, the cube of 4, and the sixth power of 2

64 – the first whole number that is both a perfect square and a perfect cube

64 – the smallest number with exactly seven divisors (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64)

64 – a cardinal number, ordinal number, dodecagonal number, centered triangular number, Erdős–Woods number, superperfect number, and the index of Graham’s number

In Science
64 – The atomic number of the element gadolinium, whose neutrally charged atom contains 64 protons and 64 electrons

64 – the number of codons in the RNA codon table under genetic code

Messier object M64 – a galaxy known as the Black Eye Galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices

The New General Catalogue object NGC 64 – a spiral galaxy in the constellation Cetus

In Entertainment
The number of squares on a game board for checkers, chess, and Bejeweled

64 – the name of a Russian chess magazine

64 – a dog character in the Donald Duck comics

Catullus 64 – a poem written by Catullus

Sonnet 64 – one of 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare

64 – Channel number of television stations in Barstow (CA), Brownsville TX, Cincinnati OH, Fulton (AR), Kalamazoo MI, Kannapolis (NC), Kittanning PA, Providence RI, Ridgecrest (CA), San Bernardino CA, Scranton PA, Seaford DE, Stockton (CA),

64 – the number of crayons in the popular Crayola pack

64th Golden Globes – Held in 2007 with Dreamgirls winning the most awards (3)

64th Academy Awards – Held in 1992 with The Silence of the Lambs winning 5 Oscars

64 Zoo Lane – a British-French children’s cartoon

Sixty-four – a web comic

In Music
64 – The subject of the Beatles song When I’m Sixty-Four

“64” – the title of a song by the hip-hop group Mellowhype

Symphony No. 64 – composed by Joseph Haydn in A major

Opus 64, No. 1 – The Minute Waltz in D-flat major by Chopin

Trio 64 – an album by American jazz musician Bill Evans

Sixty-Four – a 2004 album by Donovan of his 1964 demo recordings

My 64 – a song by Mike Jones

64 Spoons – British rock/pop band in the 1970s-80s that was also known as The Legendary 64 Spoons or just The Spoons)

Commodore 64 – one of the pioneer bands for hip hop while being named after the 1980s computer

Fabric 64 – an album by Guy Gerber

Code 64 – an electronic music band from Sweden and Norway

In Computers
64-bit processors

Base64 – a group of similar binary-to-text encoding schemes

Decimal64 – a decimal floating-point computer numbering format that occupies 8 bytes (64 bits) in computer memory

Commodore 64 – an early 8-bit home computers

Nintendo 64 video game console, plus all its games that includes 64 in their title

64 – the maximum stack size in the video game Minecraft

Madden Football 64 – the first game in the Madden NFL series

In Business
Avenue Sixty-Four – a boutique wedding venue in Brisbane, Australia

In Culture and Language
Sessanta quattro, 60 Vier, 60 fyra, Sześćdziesiąt cztery, Шестдесет и четири, -Sáu mươi bốn, Fire og seksti, and LXIV

64 – The maximum number of strokes in any Chinese character

64 – The number of classical arts listed in many Indian scriptures

In Geography
64 – the international calling code for direct dial calls to New Zealand

64 – a US interstate highway from Missouri to Virginia

U.S. Route 64 – a highway from Arizona to North Carolina

Sixty-Four Villages East of the RIver – a group of Russian villages along the Amur River across from China

M64 – a planned but never built motorway in England

64th Parallel North crosses Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, United States, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland

64th Parallel South crosses Antarctica – including land claimed by Argentina, Chile, and United Kingdom

64th Meridian East crosses Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Antarctica

64th Meridian West crosses Canada, Greenland, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Antarctica

In History

Year 64 AD
Buddhist calendar 608, Korean calendar 2397, Discordian calendar 1230

Nero is the Emperor of Rome

July 19 – Great Fire of Rome destroying nearly half of the city occurred during the rule of Nero
Persecution of Christians in Rome begins
New urban planning program with wide streets, open spaces, and ornate buildings

Phoenicia becomes part of Syria.

The Kushan sack the town of Taxila (in present-day Pakistan).

The year the First Epistle of Peter is traditionally believed to be written.

Seneca proclaims the equality of all men, including slaves.

Deaths include Peter the Apostle, Paul the Apostle, and Empress Yin Lihua.

Year 64 BC
Berber calendar 887, Assyrian calendar 4687, Byzantine calendar 5445-5446

Servilius Rullus, Roman Republic tribune, proposes an agrarian reform law.

Pompey destroys the kingdom of Pontus, annexes Syria, captures Jerusalem and annexes Judea.

The end of the Seleucid dynasty.

US History
Federalist No. 64The Power of the Senate by John Jay published on March 5, 1788

The Sixty-fourth United States Congress – met during the third and fourth years (1915-1917) of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency

Miscellaneous
64 – the number of Braille characters in the old 6-dot system

64 – number of sexual positions in the Kama Sutra

64 – number of demons in the Dictionnaire Infernal

64 – refers to Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

1:64 – the traditional scale for models and miniatures

Unfortunately, 1,900 is not divisible by 64. Too bad because that would have been a great coincidence of celebrating the 1,900th post milestone on my 64th birthday. Seems like good rational to bypass the latest edition of Opinion in the Shorts.

Celebrate the events with one of my favorites. Which one to you chose?

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On an Electoral Reflection

This idea has festered in my mind long enough, so it’s time to get these thoughts of this true independent’s chest.

For about 5 weeks following the November 2016 election, a good thing happened. We heard a lot about the Electoral College – a system we learned about in school – a system we hear about every 4 years – a system many people know little about – let alone Federalist Paper No. 68 (and I say that with confidence).

Election 2016 was interesting in many ways. It was not only the third time in US history the candidate who won the presidency lost the popular vote, but 2016 marked the highest vote differential of the three (0.8%, 0.5%, 2.8%). What if Mr. Trump won the popular vote by 2.8% but Mrs. Clinton won the Electoral College? Surely the messages would be predictably reversed.

Since the election, we heard some voices declaring that it’s time to amend the Constitution to disband the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote. The losers were the complainers while the winners boosted about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

Framing the US Constitution was not a meeting of wise men stroking their beards while contemplating decisions for a document to serve as the foundation of a new country. Discussions were fierce. Egos were bruised. Not every person got their way but, in the end, a collective wisdom prevailed – a wisdom guided by those seeking what would serve the common good for all and for a nation.

Although small states and slave states had issues with the popular vote, the Founding Fathers were skeptical about the voters especially if the popular vote yielded an unwise decision. So, the Founding Fathers wanted a system to act as a check-and-balance on the voters. After all, the Constitution provided of system of checks and balances within the government. The Electoral College was a way to do so other than using state legislatures or the House of Representatives.

In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton explained the Electoral College was to, “ensure that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” The best analogy I heard was the Electoral College being akin to a judge reviewing a jury’s decision (which they can do).

Was 2016 the time Alexander Hamilton had in mind? Maybe.

Is the Electoral College’s role as a check-and-balance against the people’s vote necessary in the 21st Century? Absolutely, so I unquestionably stand with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers supporting the existence of the Electoral College.

The Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College to be composed of people “selected by their fellow citizens from the general masses, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

The Founding Fathers also envisioned the members of the Electoral College to do the right thing. To be of independent mind in the face of adversity. To represent a nation, and then fulfill their Constitutional responsibility by doing what is right for the nation.

If it’s not the voters, not the Constitution, not the concept of the Electoral College, is there a problem? If so, where?

The problem obviously lies is the implementation because the Constitution left the selection process to the states, which would be state legislatures that are elected by the people. Although practical on paper, the adopted methods by the states are not the way to implement the desires stated Federalist Paper No. 68. States developed processes based on the political parties – therefore the political parties hijacked the check and balance to have a system that favors them.

Who picks the electors? The political parties.

Who do the political parties select? Loyalists, local party leaders, local officials, donors,etc.

If each party in a state has electors, who has the final vote? In most states, the party of the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in that state become the electors.

Can electors change their mind, thus go against the state’s result? In some states, yes – but in most states, No! Electors who do not follow their prescribed vote may face fines, legal charges, dismissal, and/or replacement.

Are these electors the ones “most likely to possess the information and requisite for such a complicated investigation” and “free from any sinister bias”?

Absolutely not! The electors are party hacks put in place by the party hooligans to follow the party’s self interest – NOT for the people and NOT for a nation as the Federalist Paper clearly explains. The electors are present for the party under the ruse of acting for the nation. The Electoral College is not even remotely close to what the Founding Fathers envisioned for the nation and its people.

The parties are interested in themselves. The parties are interested in adopting their preferences upon the people. The parties only see the world through a biased lens with the settings they prefer. In other words, the parties are not the unbiased, high-minded people who will look out after the best interest of a nation if and when the people make a mistake!

In the farewell address of this nation’s first president, George Washington was correct.

[Political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington
Saturday, September 17, 1796

Abolition of the Electoral College is not the answer. Giving power the popular vote is not the answer. Reforming the Electoral College process is the answer, but there is a problem because that requires those with power would have to relinquish the power – and we know that’s not going to happen.

On Darwin’s Faith

Depending on one’s perspective, Charles Darwin is a lightning rod and a foundation. Opposing sides in the theology-evolution issue use him in different ways. Whereas conservative Christians describe him as an immoral, hateful atheist who is a messenger from the devil, evolution supporters refer to him as a scholar, a brilliant thinker, and even an inspiration.

Interesting how the two views of one life differ based a perspective of a forced choice that some present. In terms of his religion, Darwin faith life was filled with struggle. Below are chronological moments in Charles Darwin’s religious life. Besides, February 12th is his 208th birthday.

1809: Charles Darwin is born into a family of a father who was a religious skeptic, a Unitarian mother, and 4 siblings (3 sisters and a brother) who attended church with their mother. His paternal grandfather was a deist, as was Darwin’s brother.

1817: Darwin’s mother died. Thereafter, his older sisters took him to an Anglican church where he remained and was educated. At the time, the Anglican church had a 6-day, young-earth creationist view of the world.

1828: After several years in medical school at the University of Edinburgh, Darwin enters Cambridge University to study theology. Studies introduce him to Paley’s Natural Theology, which influenced his beliefs in a God intervening in creation.

1831: Darwin graduates from Cambridge with a theology degree, but decided not to pursue being an ordained pastor. A geology field trip initiated the thought that the earth is very old, therefore developing a view of today’s old-earth creationists with an intervening God as the designer. Later that year he begins his 5-year journey on the HMS Beagle.

1831-1836: Through his many observations across the globe, Darwin is convinced God is present in nature and that God was the intervening designer.

1836-1839: After his journey, Darwin thought deeply about biology, geology, and theology, so he spend much time writing. He rejected origins based on Genesis 1 and eventually Christianity – but not God.

1839: Marries Emma (a Unitarian) in an Anglican ceremony. They would eventually have 10 children, two of which died in infancy.

1851: Annie, his second oldest child and the “apple of her proud father’s eye” dies after an illness of several years. This devastated Darwin, and some say this greatly impacted his view of suffering.

1856: Starts writing On the Origin of the Species.

1859: On the Origin of the Species is published. In it Darwin mentions god as the Creator on multiple occasions – signally his shift from a traditional theist to a non-traditional theist with God as the creator of the evolutionary process.

1860-1861: Reflecting on reactions people had about the book, Darwin writes to a Harvard botanist, “I had no intention to write atheistically … my views are not at all necessarily atheistical.” He also admits being troubled by the suffering that occurs in nature and in the world, but reinforces a belief in design by a Creator.

1871: The Descent of Man published. While acknowledging the “highly irreligious” will denounce his work, he supports his belief in a Creator at work in designing life. “The birth both of the species and of the individual are equally parts of that grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to accept as the result of blind chance.”

1876: Because of his struggles with suffering, he continues to question God’s existence. In his biography Darwin explains his belief in God as an intelligent designed and states, “I deserve to be called a theist.” His writings point to one who believes in a god that is not assigned to one particular religion. Later he concludes, “The mystery of the beginning of all things is not solvable by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

1879: Although agnostic, Darwin writes this powerful sentence about evolution and theology in a letter: “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man be an ardent theist and an evolutionists. …. In my extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God …. I think that as I grow older, but not always, that an Agnostic would be a more correct description of my state of mind.”

1882: After a difficult 3 months with health issues, Charles Darwin dies – and never an atheist. Reports of him recanting his view of evolution and proclaiming Jesus Christ as savior lack evidence, therefore untrue. He is buried in London’s Westminster Abbey (Anglican).

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 324

Although we were at a dance event, we did get to see the Super Bowl ending. Plus, we recorded the game so we could watch the commercials and the halftime show.

It was great to see former president George HW Bush and Barbara at the game. The announcer got it right by describing Mr. Bush as “the strongest man on the field.”

Congratulations New England Patriots and your fans.

The Sweet Scarletts grapefruit we have had recently have been a step beyond outstanding!

Valentine’s Day is approaching … don’t forget your Valentine!

I will have a timely post this weekend – probably sometime during the last half of Saturday.

I am making progress on transforming the hand-written posts I did last month into electronic versions … and some even into drafts ready for posting here. It was interesting to read comments about writing posts with pen and paper.

Last week I mentioned Cincinnati’s mayor identifying Cincinnati as a sanctuary city. I mentioned the potential loss of federal funds. This week the White House says federal money to Cincinnati for roads, bridges, and other projects is officially in trouble. Now the mayor seems surprised. Hello … anybody home?

This one is so appropriate for the times: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

A Venezuelan recently told me that Donald Trump reminds him of Hugo Chavez.

President Trump can talk all he wants about “saying what I mean and meaning what I say” … but he’s forgetting an admirable and necessary trait  … tone!

As Republicans complain about a federal judge’s order to halt President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the same Republicans seem to have short memories about their approach of using the courts to stop various aspects of the Affordable Care Act … but I remember.

I like the White House’s continual point to the media because it is just a matter of time before that well dries up.

Cheers to columnist Kathleen Parker who ended a recent column with this rational words: “Whatever tiny ray of hope people held out in the belief that Trump ultimately would behave rationally — respectful of protocol, with caution and care, without haste and with wisdom — has been extinguished by a strategy of maximum chaos executed by shock and awe. With heads spinning, if they’re not rolling, most won’t know what hit them until it’s too late. It’s called distraction.”

I welcome a rollback of Dodd-Frank, but as long as they also repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley … and I said that way back when – but I doubt if the Republicans have the backbone to do that.

I’ve never been a fan of retired Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer (who I seldom read) hit the right tone for me in this recent column. Too bad the House Democrats stayed attached to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

For deep readers from a conservative think tank: The Government’s Bad Arguments in Defense of Discriminating Against Immigrants Based on Nationality.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The comeback in the Super Bowl
The mundane nature of the Super Bowl’s advertising collective
The White House blaming the media
The need to rollback Dodd-Frank
Rising cost of cable and satellite television

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for maintaining composure (important for many Democrats at the moment).

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Trained pony saves Billy Bob Thornton from fire as planned
Area friendship just a series of missed calls
Pretty lady playing hard to follow
Kid security guard brought in to pat down kid passengers
Study: Majority of humans happiest when rest of family still asleep
God pursues the great grandchildren of unsavory merchants and turns them into pillars of salt

Interesting Reads
The high costs of protectionism
The painting that fought fascism
10 forgotten battles that shaped history
Visit the European Southern Observatory
Where Americans live and their ancestral genetics

To lead you into the weekend, here’s another song from Asia. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.