Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 308

The recent attack at the Istanbul airport rips one’s heart. Blogger Nia quickly came to my mind because I know she’s a kind, sensitive person who is unhappy with the political turmoil and the regional violence. I encourage you to visit her blog to offer your support to her and the good people in Turkey.

Although I continue to believe my personal mantra that the majority of the world is good, this and similar incidents challenge my view …. but I continue to hang on! Meanwhile, the key to defeating ISIS (in my opinion) starts within the Arab world.

Loud cheers to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for allowing the Cincinnati Reds to honor Pete Rose by retiring his number and allowing him to enter the Reds Hall of Fame. The previous commissioner felt the need to extend Rose’s punishment to the Reds organization, Reds fans, and the city of Cincinnati.

Hey hey hey – it looks like our Argentine Tango class will be extended by one week!

The distance separating Cincinnati and West Virginia isn’t very much. Whereas very little rain has fallen at my residence, West Virginia is flooding. I think it’s President Obama’s fault.

My life has been one of major adjustments the past 3 months. My wife’s retirement and my part-time job have affected whatever time is left in a day – therefore, my poor attendance among the blogs.

Thanks to all who participated in Colors: The Musical! As of this writing, I’m way behind on replying to comments, but I’ll get there! Thanks for your patience.

This is a long holiday weekend in the US (4th of July), so no Explore post this weekend.

The combo came to mind by using the subject lines in my email spam folder: Rock-hard Trump destroys Cialis implant

I found interest in this week’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the abortion laws. Although Ohio was not on the list of states with similar laws, my state has also been on the restrictive path.

Polls and studies showing the majority of Americans say that Congress is doing a bad/poor job make me laugh because the vast majority of elected officials in Congress get re-elected. Which best describes the voting public: anger or complacency?

The recent BREXIT vote created many shock waves across the world. Around all the chaos, it is important to remember the primary cause: It’s President Obama’s fault.

Be cause of the US process for electing a president, I know national polls are essential meaningless – but the closeness of the polls is both fascinating and disturbing.

This week’s aFa Power Rankings for Donald Trump’s running mate: 5) Mitch Pence, 4) Chris Christie, 3) Bob Corker, 2) Jeff Sessions, 1) Newt Gingrich

The first week’s aFa Power Rankings for Hillary Clinton’s running mate: 5) Sherrod Brown 4) Elizabeth Warren, 3) Xavier Becerra, 2) Thomas Perez, 1) Tim Kane

To lead us into the satire portion of this post, The Onion provides tips for handling social anxieties.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man driving while making YouTube video to explain how PC culture destroying America
‘Five-Second Rule’ disproven
Black mark on birth control manufacturer’s record weighs in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces
Factory robot working on some of its own designs after hours
Three-year-old announces plan to point out fat people all day long.
Only news source man trusts has logo of eyeball with crosshair

Interesting Reads
A moderate working in a polarized environment
Classic music and new technologies (Thanks Tim)
A collection of matchbook boxes from India
Education in Estonia
The Irish pirate queen
Has physics made philosophy and religion obsolete?
(Photos) The Night Skies

Here’s one of my all-time favorite music videos. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 292

Last Saturday I watched much of Justice Scalia’s funeral. I’m amazed by the strength of his son – Paul, a Catholic priest – in leading service and delivering the homily at the funeral for his father. He brilliantly wove theology and life together … a WOW … what a beautiful church! (Click for Google Images.)

That once-every-four-years day is approaching. Here’s an explanation of why February gets the extra day in a leap year.

This blog passed on odd milestone earlier this week … 66,666 comments.

Here’s is your chance to make Cincinnati Chili.

Last weekend I saw a great video segment on HLN (CNN companion station) presenting both sides of the argument regarding Apple unlocking the iPhone of a deceased terrorist. Unfortunately, I can’t find it!

Last Friday I took my wife and her sister to the airport so they could begin their week of cruising for the fifth consecutive year. Yep – my Bachelor Week is nearing the end. For my week, I had three things to accomplish: 1) Takes them to the airport, 2) pick them up at the airport, and 3) have the house cleaned when they return.

Some wonder, want did you do? I ballroom danced, wrote a few blog posts, stayed up later but not sleeping as well, did my volunteering (dancing with seniors, dancing with Downs, and ESL tutoring), danced again, attended handbell rehearsal, had a dance lesson, participated in our Lenten journey small group, painted walls in one area, danced some more, attended a group dance class, did the usual Wednesday laundry, prepared the tax materials to our accountant (delivery is based on his schedule), cleaned the house, worked on designing a wall project, and squeezed in  some time to dance … so I can work on leading.

For Act 3: Yellow of Colors: The Musical, readers brought forth quite the array of over 30 songs! A tip of the cap to all! Special thanks to Dale for excellent Maitre D’ work … plus keep your eye on the Hear Ye page.

There will be an Explore this weekend about a person, place, or thing …

Interesting time – Data out of California indicates a growing number of registered independents.

A question for Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). How do you implement your vision if Republicans control one or both of the Capitol Hill chambers?

My post (On the Court) earlier in the week regarding a forthcoming nominee to the US Supreme Court created interesting comments – and some were very predictable. Therefore, I pose these questions: How different would my post have been if a conservative justice other than Justice Scalia died? How different would the post have been if a liberal justice died?

Whereas Republicans as Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) use past quotes by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Vice President Joe Biden (D-NY) to justify delaying the confirmation process of a Supreme Court nominee, these are prime examples of the positions politicians take is a matter, place, and convenience – thus they are willing to wear the others shoes when it fits the narrative that meets their needs at that time. I take the contrary view – I oppose McConnell and Grassley today as much as Schumer and Biden then. As a matter of fact, I can say they are flat-out wrong.

My senator (Rob Portman, R-OH)  responded to my contact with a form letter containing an unacceptable answer. Good job at working to lose a supporter during an election year.

The candidate from my state, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) , made a faux pas comment on the campaign trail this week. A big deal to some, no more than a blip for me. Personally, his signature to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio was much bigger news.

Although Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is declaring himself the alternative to Mr. Trump, his road to the nomination is the most difficult.

I enjoy when the morning news recaps comedic comments from the late-night hosts regarding the presidential candidates. After all, laughing is so important.

Although the Republican field is dwindling, one aspect that is important to me is noticing who supports each of the candidates … especially when the field was larger.

Oh my … The Onion reported a leather-clad Ted Cruz campaigned at a fetish club. (Beware of image)

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion provides timely tips for hosting an Oscars party.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pizza slice has only one pepperoni
Caffeine bracelet acts as coffee substitute
Takeout burrito shielded from cold as though it were week-old newborn
Nation’s elderly hit hard by closing automatic doors
Vatican City residents rally to save St. Peter’s Basilica from development

Interesting Reads
Global smartphone ownership and Internet use
The GOP nomination and the party rules
Columnist David Ignatius on a high-tech military (Thanks Tim)
Another reason for the Easter Island mystery
Naming elements
Design plans after the Great Fire of 1666
(Pictures) Corners

It’s a 2-fer to send you into the weekend – a leftover from Act 3 and one with an appropriate title for the upcoming night to celebrate Oscar. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor – Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 282

Much on my current plate has limited my blogging time – thus I’m way behind on my visits. Thanksgiving travels, a paint brush, having contractors in the home, and normal routines serve as another example of life getting in the way of blogging.

Sky: The Musical – Act 3 (about 24 songs) is complete, therefore only two acts to go. Act 4 features songs with Moon/Moons in the title. As with previous acts, no compound words or other forms of moon. Curtain time is Tuesday, December 8th at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). Acts 5 information is on the Hear Ye page, along with another important announcement.

Plans are still moving ahead for another Holiday party, save the date – Saturday December 19th – and surprise gift bags will be available! The past 2 years I’ve used store at The Onion, so it’s time for a change – but I will remain mum on the store. Meanwhile, tell your friends about the holiday party as everyone is welcome – besides, tell them I’m a wonderful host.

Because of knowing it would put me further behind, no Explore post this weekend.

The first week of December is always difficult. Back-to-back days are anniversaries (different years) of the passing of a very good friend and my mother-in-law.

This week I received an email with “horny area girl” in the subject line – but I wonder if only people in my area received this message. Did any of you get this email?

The mass shooting in California delivers another black eye to the USA. Republicans deplore the tragedy and issue “thoughts and prayers” to the families, yet continue to do nothing in Congress about gun violence. Just another example of one’s actions – not one’s words – demonstrates the truest value.

I’m sure President Obama is unhappy with the lack of legislation by Congress regarding guns. Nonetheless, he accepts the fact that nothing will probably come forth. On the other hand, Congressional Republicans continue to legislate attempts to unravel the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), even though they know President Obama will veto the legislation, plus the votes probably don’t exist to override the veto.

In this lengthy presidential campaign season, I (unlike others) haven’t worried about the possibility of Ben Carson (R-Md) getting the Republican nomination – and the more he talks, the more he secures my initial thoughts. His latest analogy relating the money spent on Halloween candy to money being spent on Syrian refugees is a head-scratching comment in several ways. To learn more about the comment, here’s the transcript from the interview.

For the upcoming debate, Donald Trump (R-NY) asked CNN to pay him (in the form of a donation to a charity) for appearing in the debate – thus has threatened not to appear if the network doesn’t comply. We’ll learn more about this on December 15th (debate night). For those worrying about him leading the polls, let’s not forget that 30% of Republicans represents about 7% of voters.

For those wondering why I’m not watching the debates, the reasons are simple:

  • The nomination involves the party faithful making a decision
  • I won’t be voting in the Ohio primary (that is, in neither party)
  • I have plenty of time to make an informed decision
  • Watching is a waste of my time as I would rather be blogging

Have you seen Spectre, the latest Bond film? To lead you into The Onion, here is their movie review.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Environmental Protection Agency urges nation to get new air source
Woman confusingly tells area man she is not interested in him
Allergies prevent man from enjoying dust
Middle-age woman tired of going back and forth between divorced parents’ nursing homes
Ohio replaces lethal injection with new head-ripping-off machine
Prostitute accepts better-paying sexual position

Interesting Reads
Connected learning impacting education
How dogs make friends for humans
After the antibiotics era
30 great one-liners by US Presidents
Six graphics explaining climate change
(Photos) Haunting images of Central Park

A 2-fer is here to send you into the weekend – a leftover from Act 3 and a classic. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 262

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) loves to imply that the NSA gathering meta phone data is unconstitutional. Two points: 1) Only courts declare constitutionality (not senators, interest groups, or citizens) and 2) the panel of judges ruled the collection was illegal based on the limits of the law because the law didn’t authorize the NSA collection – so, the court did not rule the data collection unconstitutional. (ACLU vs. Clapper). Yes, another example of a politician pandering for votes with incorrect and misleading information that people believe.

For the record, I have no problem with the NSA gathering meta phone data (including mine) if it would have been in the original law. In the end, a rare bipartisan agreement got something done to replace the old Patriot Act with the USA Freedom Act, which clarifies the data collection.

Bush (FL), Jindal, (LA), Christie (NJ), Walker (WS), Kasich (OH), Huckabee (AR), and Pataki (NY) are current or former state governors and have either announced or are expected to announce their candidacy to seek the Republican presidential nomination. All but Bush and Kasich denounce the Common Core education standards. Three interesting points:

  1. Most previously supported the Common Core standards before they were against it
  2. Federal intrusion/overreach is a common reason
  3. These standards were not developed by the Feds, but were driven by governors and state leaders (and the majority of states are controlled by Republicans) … and now you know.

After hearing the news about the recent Biden family news, I was wondering which Republican would make a stupid comment. Congratulations to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). I maintain he planned it, practiced it, and purposely said it to a base that will laugh, and then it backfired. After all, politicians do that all the time. To be fair, at least he apologized. But come on, he or none of his advisers thought of the situation?

Given the wide swath of current and potential Republican candidates and the dilemma that causes around the debates, I say put them in groups of 4-5. After all, should the people get a fair chance to see all of them? Besides, this field has much more to offer than the 2012 group.

ESPN is giving their Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner, not Lauren Hill.

I applaud Jennifer Lopez’s support for the Children’s Miracle Network. In the commercial below, I find something quite odd near the end when she says, Put your money where the miracles are (while raising her hand.) Watch below, but seeing the still is enough. What do you think?

If you were given the Stupid Test, would you rather pass it or fail it? Why?

Even though I didn’t expect much this season, following my Cincinnati Reds has been painful.

For those who need a touch on the retired Monday Morning Entertainment, this one from Weird Al Yankovic cracks me up. Thanks Cayman!

Earlier this week I realized that with the post about June was my 12th in the series, (whereas I thought it was my 10th). Therefore, I doubt they will continue, so maybe I’ll move on to saluting the days of the week.

It’s time for a drink as Meals: The Musical returns next week, so all song titles must include a nonalcoholic drink in the song title. (Hmmmm … Any idea about what Act 7’s theme?) One caution: Make sure no alcohol is also in the title. (EX: Rum & Coke is not acceptable) Curtain time will be Wednesday, 9:30 pm (Eastern US).

I updated the Schedule page to reflect the latest changes, which include weekdays Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday.

The Explore series continues this weekend.

This week gave us two new presidential candidates, thus The Onion provides their profiles: former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Former governor and senator Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) also declared, but no profile yet. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) will announce on June 15th.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Heartless monster walks out of local small business without buying anything
Parents worried children old enough to remember family vacation
Man at party comes crawling back to conversation he thought he could do better than
Pigeon that flew into subway going to need all his wits to get out of this one
Nation’s single men announce plan to change bedsheets by 2019
College allowing students individual commencement speakers to make ceremony acceptable for all

Interesting Reads
France honoring the Resistance heroes
Human migration
Genetics, breeding, and cows
Suspected spy pigeon
Death penalty in the US
A look at war from an insightful veteran and blogger who visits here 

To to send you into the weekend, a toast to June being Accordion Month – not with a polka, but actually a good version of a Lady Gaga hit for the ballroom floor. Which ballroom dance can you picture? Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Businesses and the ACA

I appreciate the basic premises of the Affordable Care Act: the mandate for individual coverage and an insurance company inability to deny coverage to individuals with a pre-existing condition. Therefore, I look for these two points in any amendment or replacement.

There’s no question about the following:

  • Rising cost of health care insurance to all – including companies and individuals
  • Given a global economy, the company’s expense burden of healthcare insurance for employees is a burden many non-US competitors may not incur
  • The ACA requires employers (based on the number of employees) to provide healthcare insurance to employees
  • Over the past 10+ years, US employees have accepted an increasing cost burden of healthcare insurance

To me, the ACA’s employer mandate is an example of an unnecessary mandate and government overreach. Then again, given the Democratic majority that passed this law, I see it as another example of Democrats trying to do too much.

I offer a suggestion, and one that employees won’t like – but businesses would love. The Republicans won’t like it either because they couldn’t accept the two key points that I stated at the beginning. It’s also doubtful that Democrats would embrace the idea because it would amend what they created and they are less likely to pass the burden to individuals. In other words, it’s time to look outside the box.

Note: For the sake of this post, employees refers to full-time employees, which I define as those working 35 hours per week or more.

  1. Congress passes legislation to remove the employer mandate, thus companies have no obligation to provide healthcare insurance to employees.
  2. Therefore, given the ACA’s individual mandate, it is each individual’s responsibility to get healthcare insurance.
  3. In collective bargaining situations, the union and employer may negotiate coverage. If so, the burden of the negotiated coverage on the company and the employee is only with the employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) (which is existing labor law).
  4. Outside of theCBA, employers would be
    1. under no obligation to provide healthcare insurance or Health Saving Account (HSA) benefits
    2. If the company provides any benefit of healthcare insurance or HSA to any employee, all employees not covered by the CBA receive the same package without exception. (That is, if the CEO gets something special, the same goes to all employees.)
    3. If the company decides to provide a fixed amount to all employees to go toward the cost of the employee’s healthcare benefits, that’s OK as long as the amount is the same for all.
  5. If a person chooses not to purchase healthcare insurance, they are fined at a price that is higher than the cost of insurance.
  6. Determining how to fund a tax credit for individual purchases would be a noble cause.

Yes, this would level the playing field for US companies in the global marketplace – and smart companies would boost salaries. On the other hand, the action amplifies another problem – the people of the US would be carrying a burden that other citizens in primary markets throughout the world don’t have – thus, a dilemma remains.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 252

This week was the fifth year anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since then, the White House and its departments did a lousy job educating the public, and Congress has done absolutely nothing to improve the ACA. On the other hand, nothing is something Congress does well. Cheers to Ron Fournier for this National Journal article.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. I smiled at the announcement because I continue to say his nomination is exactly what the Republican party needs. Maybe I should endorse him.

During the first three months of their Congressional majority, Republicans have not shown me that they can lead.

Have you ever seen the International Space Station fly overhead? Thanks to Jim in Iowa, here’s a website to determine when that happens in your area.

The leading thought was that college basketball player Lauren Hill wouldn’t see Christmas. Well, she did … and New Years Day … and Valentine’s Day … and St. Patrick’s Day. Although she may be struggling, she is a fighter and her attitude remains positive.

Did you realize I’m mentioned in Lorna’s video?

For the sidebar, I followed Catherine’s suggestion of displaying the blogger’s location with a rollover. See yours if it’s correct, and let me know if you want me to change it. I need help with List of X.

No Saturday Morning Cartoon this weekend, but an edition of the Explore series is ready – thus you can wonder if it will be a person, place, or thing.

Meals: The Musical debuts next week, and I’m side-stepping my normal protocol. Act 1: Meals will feature songs with any of the following words in the title: Meal(s), Breakfast, Lunch, Lunchtime, Brunch, Dinner, Dinnertime, or Supper. More about the debut on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s a week in pictures.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Report: Employees most innovative when brainstorming dramatic quitting scenarios
  • Man filled with gratitude at sight of other customers in nice restaurant wearing jeans
  • Study: Not many Disco songs about daytime
  • New speech recognition software factors in user’s mouth always being full
  • Siblings playing tense game of chicken to decide who takes care of mom
  • Michael Dukakis still drives old tank everywhere

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Weekend) Crossword Puzzle Days, Listening Weekend
  • (Fri) Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, Joe Day, Corkscrew Appreciation Day,Celebrate Exchange Day, Viagra Day, Spanish Paella Day, Kite Flying Day, Photography Day, Steam Fire Engine Day, Education & Sharing Day
  • (Sat) Barnum & Bailey Day, Be Mad Day, Virtual Advocacy Day, Weed Appreciation Day, Earth Hour, Black Forest Cake Day, Something on a Stick Day, Hot Tub Day, Eat an Eskimo Pie Day, Children’s Picture Book Day
  • (Sun) Vietnam Veterans Day, Mom & Pop Business Owners Day, Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day, Love Your Children Day, Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, Coca Cola Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a relatively recent video of a classic from the 1979 album Breakfast in America – enjoy Supertramp’s Take the Long Way Home. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.