Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 353

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I enjoy watching the Winter Olympics. My favorite events are speed skating (especially short track), downhill skiing, ice dancing, and snowboarding (halfpipe is unbelievable). But why isn’t there a competition of doing aerials off the ski-jump hill? Why doesn’t the sled track have a corkscrew or 360 loop? Shouldn’t there be a winter pentathlon competition involving ski jumping, luge, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and speed skating?

I shake my head when I see Russian athletes participating. Their hockey team even where’s the team colors and jerseys except for the name on the front. The IOC should be ashamed of themselves.

The possibility of the US Men’s Hockey Team going winless is very likely.

This past Monday marked the 209th birthday of two influential figures born on opposite sides of the Atlantic: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The occasion serves as 9th anniversary of me diving deep into a personal study of the interchange between science and religion – yes – it was reading various reactions to the 200th anniversary that started my journey.

Although more BLINK posts will come in time, none this weekend because I have other posts scheduled around a special event.

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Another mass shooting in the US is followed by more Republicans offering prayers and talking about mental health while failing to back their talk with any action.

Months ago I contacted my Republican Representative and Senator asking them a question about mental health. I just received a response from Senator Portman (R-OH), to which replied with the following: “Senator Portman. Thank you for the gracious form letter that didn’t come close to answering my question.”

It’s so interesting that Republicans are now less concerned with fiscal responsibility – which also means that such a future stance is actually an excuse to say No.

For the fall midterm elections, Republicans have the following problems on their plate: President Trump, ignoring President Trump’s continual misplays, and force feeding party policy down the public throat. On the other hand, Democrats are having a problem finding their voice other than anti-Trumpian.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising a fair and open debate on immigration also serves as an admission that he hasn’t been doing that. Besides, anyone thinking he doesn’t have something up his sleeve is wishful thinking.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides suggestions about climbing the corporate ladder.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Poignant dying words wasted on dumbshit nephew
Queen Bun gives birth to thousands of tiny rolls
Detective refuses to pry into circumstances of murder out of respect for deceased
Study finds cats only meow when they want to alert owner of neighbor’s murder they witnessed through window
Italian grandmother doesn’t have the heart to tell family any dipshit can make lasagna

Interesting Reads
History and future of the plastic bag
Volcanoes making lightning
Looking back at a fight to vote
Lincoln’s secret visits to slaves
Limits of technology: Paper jams
(Pictures) Nature’s gardens

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 351

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Challenge Update: I will publish my post on Tuesday 6 February at 9 PM (Eastern US) … challenge participants publish after that and link to that post.

On the early morning of this week’s Super Blue Moon’s eclipse, Cincinnati had many clouds. A friend of mine (who is south for the winter) told me that he watched the shadowed moon fade away behind the horizon, then turned around to watch the sunrise over the opposite horizon only several minutes later.

Cincinnati has a unique food battle going on – a Burger Battle of the Boy Bands. In short, Nick Lachey (98 Degrees), is a Cincinnatian, plus he and his brother (Drew) have a restaurant. A few blocks away is Wahlburgers, owned by the Wahlbergs (Donnie was in New Kids on the Block). Here’s an article about the battle.

This weekend is the Super Bowl – big deal. We’ll probably have the game on, but without any festivities. Personally, I hope the Eagles win.

PS: More BLINK posts this weekend.

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I knew before making the decision that I would be missing the most unbelievable, the greatest, the most-watched ever State of the Union (SOTU) speech – but I continued my streak of avoiding the occasion because I hate watching the behaviors of our elected officials. Stay seated and remain quiet during the speech seems like such a small, yet reasonable request.

The SOTU is the US President delivering an annual Constitutional obligation. Although I don’t watch, I support it. On the other hand, I despise the fact opposing party have a rebuttal. The record clearly shows I also didn’t support the Republicans rebuttal after President Obama’s SOTU – and yep – I don’t support the Democrats doing the same. SOTU is the President’s address to Congress and the nation … PERIOD.

If I would have watched the SOTU, these bingo cards would have made the event more fun.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the myths and facts about Dreamers and the Dream Act.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman apologizes to therapist for monopolizing conversation
New acne-free treatment ships teens to remote island for remainder of puberty
Perfect girlfriend blames self for everything
Flustered mathematician unable to recommend good number
Brad Pitt stumbles across old cardboard box with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in it

Interesting Reads
Europe’s earliest written language?
Dark money and politics
About the Cincinnati murals
The contradictions of Gaudi
Demographics, America, and the future
Anti-evolution in India
(Graphic) World’s most nutritious foods
(Photos) National Geographic’s Best Adventure Photos of 2017

To send you into the weekend, here’s one of my favorites by John Mellencamp. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 350

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Although I took a low-key approach to #2000, I greatly appreciate the comments. Yes, they collectively choked me up a bit. Thank you!

I can’t believe WordPress didn’t sent me a special badge. Then again, maybe they did, but I can’t find it.

I had to look, but the first 1,000 took 4 years 1 month … the second thousand took almost 5 years 5 months. Especially given my age, I’m trending in the wrong direction for the next 2,000! But hey – thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

I had to check the party for #1000. I enjoyed looking at the names from the past. Approximately 67 attended: 12 are still here (more than half attended #2000), 14 are still active bloggers but no longer visit, and 42 are no longer active.

My next venture: The IF Challenge. A new (and temporary) page detailing this challenge on a tab. Bottom line, construct a post centering around the word “if”. Writer’s choice of format (poem, short story, graphic, etc). Dates are TBA – probably a specific announcement in the next OITS for the challenge post within 7 days after.

This weekend I hope to introduce readers to BLINK Cincinnati, which will be a series of posts.

We saw The Post (Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks). Thumbs up – but I enjoyed Darkest Hour more. As with any movie based on history, details are often omitted (because of time), massaged or even made-up to improve the movie’s flow – therefore, I often wonder how much of the movie is true. Here’s one such view of The Post.

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Here’s an interesting post about integrity by a blogger that I don’t know. Raye, thanks for leading me there.

The government shutdown was ridiculous. The 3 comments below stuck with me this week.

A president who can’t make a deal, Republicans struggling to govern, Democrats shaped by their anti-Trump base. (Dan Balz, Columnist, Washington Post)

What’s striking is Republican operatives said to me they think this president is erratic, he’s undisciplined, he’s inconsistent which makes it tough for him when he tries to get himself engaged in a deal like this. (Peter Alexander, NBC National Correspondent)

Where’s the empathy in my party? Al Cardenas, Republican Strategist)

This article by The Guardian definitely has an intriguing title: “The 12 Weirdest Days From Trump’s First Year”.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion capsulizing the history of the World Economic Forum.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Area man thinks movie he saw should have been nominated
Lustful man sensually uses one hand to unhook clasp of take-out box
Ophthalmologist instructs patient not to look at anything 24 hours before eye surgery
Man wishes women in crowded bar would let him read Jane Austen novel in peace
Newborn has father’s asshole
Real life Michelin Man dies (Photo here)

Interesting Reads
Defending the grid
Soybean to diesel fuel: is it worth it?
Feeding 1.4 billion Chinese
Feeding 10 billion people globally
Plague Fort in Russia
(Photos) London Lit

To send you into the weekend, here’s another one from The Cars on the way to their upcoming induction. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 347

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Cheers to the first OITS of 2018. Hope the new year is off to a good start for you.

Our tradition is to have shredded pork roast and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes as a New Year’s Day meal. Do you have any traditions to start the year?

My little corner of the world got it’s 300,000th visit sometime between 8-12 pm on New Years’ Eve. I didn’t see the rollover because we at a New Years Eve dance. Next milestone is the 2000th post (this one is #1990).

This weekend’s post will involve a challenge. HINT for advanced planning: A challenge to readers to use (in a comment) a word (in English) that has never appeared on this blog. 

For Netflix viewers looking for a simple, wholesome show, my wife loves Heartland, a Canadian-based show set in Alberta.

A tip of the cap to college football coach Scott Frost. His UCF team had a great season, then he accepted the head coach position at his alma mater (Nebraska). Unlike what most other coaches have done, Frost did two jobs – therefore, coached UCF in their bowl game – one of the biggest games in school history – and UCF won.

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Needing a gain of only 2 seats, Democrats are excited about the possibility of gaining control of the Senate with the November 2018 election. While Democrats are wistfully hopeful in about maybe 5 races currently held by Republicans, they face tough challenges to retain seats in 10 races. Bottom line: Odds may be better on the House side.

I wonder how much higher President Trump’s approval rating would be if he didn’t tweet.

Thanks to those who truly understood my crystal ball post about Trumpian Nostradamus (the previous post).

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists ways the world has changed since Donald Trump’s election.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Starbucks unveils $7 wake-up slap
Earth’s successful completion of orbit around Sun inspires woman to reflect on eating habits
NASA celebrates 60th anniversary of launching first moon to orbit Earth
Man at center of political spectrum under impression he is less obnoxious
TJ Maxx recreates in-store shopping experience with new website that randomly scatters products all over the place

Interesting Reads (as a whole, a bit more relaxing than usual)
A transformation: Muslims and American culture
How not to be the Ugly American when travelling abroad
Reviewing a view of 2018 from 1968
Interesting findings from 2017
The most expensive mile of subway
The birth of Emojis
(Photos) BBC’s Best submitted photos of 2017

To kick off the 2018 OITS, here’s a 2017 Kennedy Center Honoree who delivered a great show back in the day. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 345

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Because this is a holiday week, this edition of Opinion in the Shorts is a bit earlier than normal.

I’m overdue for a new header – so welcome another image from the Hubble Telescope – the Horsehead Nebula within the Orion constellation about 1500 light years from Earth. You can see my past headers on the Past Headers tab or by clicking here.

The latest Star Wars film: A quick review – Good vs. evil, a group of eclectic characters from across the universe, numerous special effects battle scenes, and advanced weapon technology that isn’t efficient at hitting a target.

2,000th post is the next statistical milestone for my little corner of the world. I imagine it happening sometime in early 2018 (January or February). 300,000th visit should happen sometime late December or January – but I don’t foresee them happening together

The next post will be a Christmas post (posted either on the 23rd or 24th).

I drafted the beach walks while at the beach. Cincinnati is a long way from the beach, so I only have one more – which I may publish next week.

The Creation Museum (from Answers in Genesis) is located in the Cincinnati area. Although I have more than a passing interest in the interrelationship between religion and science, I’ve never had the urge to visit the museum – and probably never will. After all, it does not represent my view of religion or my view of science. Therefore, I appreciated this closing statement Ted Davis gives his recent post at Biologos. … in engaging culture with Christian truth is a holy duty, but it goes awry when Christians approach culture in an aggressive and combative manner, oversimplify complex issues, and delegitimize any approach that starts with an open question instead of an assumed answer.

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With all the talk about the new tax plan, I wonder what happened to President Trump’s idea of (I paraphrase) “a tax cut not for rich guys like me.”

The new tax bill eliminates the wrong mandate regarding health care insurance – the individual mandate, whereas I say it should eliminate the insurance mandate on businesses – but that would involve guts and creative problem solving.

Other than saying No, Democrats missed the opportunity of providing an alternative tax-cut proposal to the public.

Remember Simpson-Bowles; the 2012 bipartisan effort examining deficit reduction and reform? Five years have passed and Congress and both parties continue to ignore it while kicking the can down the road.

It’s been a long time since I thought about the brilliant George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on TV, but it immediately came to my mind when hearing the report about the Trump Administration directive to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Reports say that the CDC cannot use 7 words in the budget preparation documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. Although just another odd Trumpian effect, Chuck Todd’s closing segment on Meet the Press was perfect.

I smiled when I heard conservative columnist George Will say he believes the country would be better off with a divided Congress. I also enjoyed this recent column of his about washing machines.

Columnist Kathleen Parker recently offered timely reminder: … effectively convinced voters that what is true is false and what is false is true.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a guide for interpreting dreams.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Unidentified wooden pole leaning against wall in garage
God gets Celtic Cross tattoo on back
Unpatriotic man does not maintain erection during National Anthem
92% of area woman’s recipes involving pulverizing bag of Oreos
Overworked pajama bottoms pray owner gets job soon
Study finds chickens would have no qualms about caging, eating humans

Interesting Reads
Has the high school diploma lost meaning?
Public trust and science
A guide for pessimists for the days ahead
History of Star Wars
What if Greenland had no ice?
(Pictures) The most beautiful pictures of 2017
(Video) A relaxing two minutes of sights from the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico

To lead you toward the holiday, here’s a 1963 clip of The Beatles. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 341

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Last week we attended live theater 3 nights in a row: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, An Evening with Groucho, and Cabaret. The first two were at the Cincinnati Playhouse where we usher, and the later was a community theater production.

We saw the latest movie rendition of Murder on the Orient Express. If you don’t know who did it, it’s a good (not great) who-done-it movie … but I thought the beginning was too slow.

Last week our handbell choir played Fantasy on an Irish Tune (one many will recognize). For those enjoying handbell music, here’s a recording (not us) of the song, one that we had only a short time to prepare. Meanwhile, this week we started the preparing for a busy December.

If you appreciate outdoor murals, see these extraordinary works. (Thanks to Raye for leading me to these.)

College basketball season is underway. With two strong teams in my city (that are only 3.5 miles/5.6 km apart), expectations are high – especially after a lousy football season.

Sharing our British Isles cruise will continue this weekend – and the end should be before the next edition of OITS. The next post will feature the biggest surprise of the trip.

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I’m awaiting responses from both my Republican Representative Wenstrup and Republican Senator Portman to the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, or Texas: No matter the location of a mass shooting, a common Republican soundbite describe the result as “a mental health issue.” What has your party – Republicans – done to address the issue since December 14, 2012? (As of this posting, no answer from either person.)

Seems Congress is aiming for a temporary tax cut … sunset provisions are not tax reform! Then again, much of what they are doing isn’t reform, just mere tinkering with the existing system. The Republicans are stuck between a pushy president and the desperate need to do something. So, they have backed themselves into the corner and can’t make good politics out of bad policy. On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with only saying “No” because they can’t develop a message of a better way.

A divisive president, partisan-driven Congress, and the blind rhetoric of partisan voters has turned me into more fervent independent than I was before. I enjoyed this article from Pew Research Center and the interactive (also from Pew) I listed in Interesting Reads below.

Now this is a classic. A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry referred to President Trump as an “old lunatic” – so President Trump responded, Why would Kim Jong-un called me “old”?

Not to be outdone, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh offered this head-banging-against-the-wall  defense for Senator Roy Moore (R-AL): “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers a list of ways to make a difference your local community.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Toddler scientists finally determine number of peas that can fit in the ear canal
Neither boss nor employee paid enough to deal with each other
Flu takes down biggest guy in the office as warning to rest of staff
Doctors discover the purpose of appendix is to contain human soul
90% of bike accidents preventable by buying a car

Interesting Reads
Relationships: Saudi Arabia and its neighbors
How Cincinnati made the JFK files
People and information
Glass terrarium that changed the world
The most painted woman in the world
(Interactive) Political polarization in the US since 1994
(Photos) Facts about sunsets

For your weekend entertainment, here’s Sir Paul performing another classic Beatles song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 331

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The Cincinnati Enquirer published an interesting photo essay: A Day in the Life of Fiona the Baby Hippo. Enjoy.

This recent post on the Cincinnati Zoo Blog by one of Fiona’s handlers is good and has excellent pictures.

Opening Day is Monday. First of all, the occasion is formally capitalized in Cincinnati because it is (and has always been in my lifetime) a major event. Opening Day is the official start of the baseball season, and Cincinnati embraces it like no other place. We hope to go downtown for the festivities, but the projected weather is concerning.

Although I think the Reds will be better this year, my goals for their 2017 resemble last year’s:

  • Win more games than the 1961 Mets (Checked in 2016)
  • Have a better record than the worst team in baseball (Checked in 2016)
  • Finish higher than last place in the division
  • Finish closer to first in the division than to last
  • Anything else is extra topping on the sundae

On the downside, a shooting in a Cincinnati nightclub made the news this week. No arrests at this time, but the business has turned in its liquor license and will not reopen.

Enjoy this song with 300 words in one minute.

Several weeks ago I linked a handbell version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Here’s is another version of the same arrangement, but done with a different touch.

A tip of the cap to Lorna who is retiring her blog. I can’t recall how the two of us met each other in blogging, but I recall her move from the eastern US to Oregon. Best of luck Lorna, and thanks for the support.

The time is approaching when I will go on a spring blog break.

No Saturday post this weekend, but I will publish the Sunday post earlier than normal.

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I have a plan to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) – sensible Democrats and sensible Republicans get together. Then again, I’m not convinced enough of those exist to overcome the obstinance of their respective bases.

  • Why can’t Republicans propose allowing insurance to be sold across state lines within the ACA? (However, states have the final say because they control insurance commerce.)
  • Why can’t Democrats propose eliminating taxes on the wealthy that shouldn’t have been in the ACA in the first place?
  • Why can’t either side propose either allowing credits for the insured or making the fine for not having insurance be greater than the cost of insurance?
  • Why can’t elected officials favor problem solving for the good over the country instead of party-first interests?

I know the answer to the above question – they are jackasses!

Regarding the mega-snafu by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I say get him out of there!

“Clean coal” is possible – but expensive.

I can’t agree more with this headline that I saw earlier this week: It is Never Trump’s Fault – yep … it’s always Obama’s fault.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
No Cincinnati teams making it to college basketball’s Final Four
Mild winter not killing mosquitos
Coal industries 40-year decline
Hunting hogs from helicopters
An upcoming Blog Break approaching for me

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the top 10 destinations for spring break.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hundreds Of blind, pallid Disney characters discovered living in caves deep within Space Mountain
Stoned extraterrestrial stumbles across hidden message after listening to Golden Record backwards
Audubon Society revokes black-capped chickadee’s membership after species fails to pay dues
4 copy editors killed in ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual gang violence
Military aides try to cheer up Kim Jong-Un after failed missile launch by putting on surprise execution

Interesting Reads
A perspective about nostalgia
Your life and history
Evolution of and future of charter schools
Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech (delivered 7 years before I was born, he mentions my birthplace)
Trapped in amber during sex
(Photos) Earth Hour Celebration

To send you into the weekend, here’s an MTV classic from days gone by. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.