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.

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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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 329

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This past week has been cold in Cincinnati and across the eastern half of the country. At least that big snowstorm missed us.

Last weekend our handbell choir attended a regional festival with almost 400 ringers. The event starts late afternoon Friday and goes until late afternoon Saturday. Given so much time there, a time change, and our prepared song for church not quite ready, our director cancelled us playing on Sunday – which was a big relief to all of us. We will continue to work on the piece as we will try to work it into a service before we break for the summer.

Because we wanted to see it before it closes sometime in April, this week we visited the Vikings: Beyond the Legend travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Thumbs up – but I don’t know the exhibits future schedule. I didn’t know they spoke Vikinese, invented Vicodin, and knew to blame Obama. Here’s the link to the Cincinnati exhibit; plus, I hope to post about it in the future.

Have you considered banana pancakes for your weekend? Watch to see what I mean.

At the last weekend’s festival, a guest choir played a concert where I heard this beautiful piece of a popular song that you probably know. I invite you to listen.

My wife gets to celebrate her birthday on a holiday – and St. Patrick’s Day is here. Happy Birthday!

Some readers enjoyed the timeline link from The Atlantic. In honor of my wife’s birthday, here’s the link again.

Reminder: Sunday is Buzzard Day – the day the buzzards return to Hinckley.

I will have a Saturday post – which will be one for Resa’s month-long dedication to kids.

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Not only do I want answers to the charges of wiretapping at Trump Tower, I want some heads to roll – whomever it may be.

Predictable statements from the White House and each political party followed the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The interpretations are different enough causing one to wonder if they read the same report. Then again, they love to make a nonpartisan report partisan. In their attempt to appease the partisans, I say “Happy cherry picking, jackasses.”

Readings about the health care bill

One would think that our elected officials could find some common group to solve a problem – but that would require listening, not walking with tugging sacred cows, thinking outside the box, and seeking for the common good of constituents. Yep – old colloquialism “fat chance” is very applicable.

Did anyone notice there is a new party-of-no in town?

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
A stretch of cold weather after a very mild winter
The Congressional Budget Office being nonpartisan
Fig tree problems in Italy
Behavior of TSA agents
My attitude toward our politicians

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a public service by providing tips to keep your personal information secure.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation Leery Of Very Odd Little Boy
Area man thinks he’s better than uneducated wife beater
Police satisfied when local drunk man assures them there is no problem
Happily married, 100 percent heterosexual father of three had that doggone dream again
Scientists discover existence of Homo Sapien subspecies which enjoys and is influenced by Red Bull ads

Interesting Reads
Issues holding back driverless cars
FDR’s floating White House
Police chiefs, sanctuary cities, and decreasing crime
Brain activity and those who don’t like music
Debunking 9 myths about Hinduism
(Photo essay) Geometry and architecture
(Photos with brief descriptions) The beauty of Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains

This past Wednesday was the Ides of March, so this is the only way to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 328

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We have an interesting handbell piece on the docket for this weekend. It’s not easy, so it will be interesting to see if we hit it. Here’s a recording.

Our church purchased a new organ. A side note is that the organ is the first produced by a local (Cincinnati) company. In order to promote their product, the company sponsored a concert featuring a distinguished organist – Christoph Bull from UCLA. Wow … he impressed us – so for those who enjoy organ music, here is one of his videos.

Christians are early in the season of Lent. Interestingly, here’s an article about using digital technology for Lenten reflections.

Here’s a look at the lighter side. Enjoy this almost 2 minute trip with a skier going around town.

This is fun. The Atlantic creates a timeline based on a birthday. Here’s the link so you can try it.

Cincinnati and Xavier are two college basketball programs that are competitive, respectful, and regularly in the tournament. These two schools are separated by 3.5 miles (5.6 k). Interestingly, Northern Kentucky University is only 11 miles (18 km) from the most northern (XU), and they will definitely will have a spot on the brackets to be announced on Sunday. So will Cincinnati, and maybe Xavier.

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When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009, I saw it as a start with hopes that Congress would work out the problems that would arise. Both parties have greatly failed doing that. Now it appears the same thing will happen, just with the other side of the aisle – meaning Congress remains selfish and clueless.

Comparing the ACA with the proposed replacement is a prime example of how Democrats have a tendency to over-regulate while Republicans under-regulate.

Although many have grumbled at the replacement plan, I haven’t heard the insurance industry issuing angst – which means a reason to question the plan.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is enjoying a ratings boost due to his relentless anti-Trump rants during his monologue. We watch (live or recorded) because he’s good for a laugh.

People who regularly watch the nightly opinion-oriented shows on cable news networks are not only feeding their bias, but are also driving themselves into a frenzy – and neither is good for America.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Above normal temperature this past winter
Not placing a phone tap on Trump Tower phones
North Korea continuing to bomb the sea
My alma mater approaching 50 years without making the NCAA basketball tournament
Wikileaks, WikiPooPoo ,PeePeeLeaks, leaks and leeks

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers the pros and cons for a two-party political system.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
God getting strong urges to bring dinosaurs back
Study finds exposure to violent children causes increased aggression in video game characters
Pope Francis spotted sunbathing nude in St. Peter’s Square
Carhartt introduces rugged work throng (A pic doe those who dare to look)
Lemur fantasizes about ripping face off of next dumbshit who calls it a monkey

Interesting Reads
How smoothies delay hunger
How to eat like a Viking
Fall of the Romanovs
Giving up sugar: Lent and the brain
5 future technologies that got real in 2016
Norba and the Romans
(Gallery) A celebration of photography

Here’s another oldie from Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 327

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Too bad for the blunder regarding the Oscar for Best Picture. I especially feel for Warren Beatty. On the other hand, Faye Dunaway blew it. Cheers to La La Land producer Jason Horowitz who graciously announced Moonlight.

We enjoy visiting Europe, but I can see the EU requiring Americans to have visas.

This is very unusual for me – I have 16 posts currently in the Draft queue (and most are ready to go). 🙂

This video from Boston Dynamics reminded me of Stars Wars.

Congratulations to John Howell, a blogger and frequent visitor here, on the recent release of a new book. John writes thrillers, so if you read it and don’t like it, tell him it’s Obama’s fault. His post (linked above) has links to paperback and Kindle versions.

More beach walks are coming, so I invite you to also see the videos as I tried to match them to the theme.

I may will have a post this weekend. If I get it ready, yes. If not. It’s obviously ready. 🙂

My wife safely returned home from her girls cruise. She had a wonderful time and great weather over 9 days of cruising from Miami to Labadee, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, and back to Miami – and I had a wonderful time doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Life is now back to normal.

Busy weekends ahead for us with the Cincinnati Wine Festival and a regional handbell gathering (of I’m guess at least 600 ringers).

I plan on watching President Trump’s first speech to Congress, and I successfully implemented my plan, including not watching the Democratic response. I continue to be firmly against the opposition party getting time for their response. In terms of the speech, I wish members of Congress would applaud at the beginning, applaud at the end, and only sit and listen during the speech. It’s a serious occasion – not a damn pep rally.

President Trump’s approach to nationalism is part of a global trend – a trend that may be the biggest less-reported threats we face today.

Cheers to the Republicans in Congress who faced angry town halls without offering excuses about Democrats, people from outside the district, sore losers, and more.

A friend asked me if I was interested in joining a coalition to impeach President Trump. Now that’s a funny request because I don’t want to be associated with a coalition involving partisan hooligans and hacks from a political party.

Those who got their shorts in a know from the way Kellyanne Conway was sitting on the Oval Office coach have too much time on their hands.

I would love to see about 15 senators from each party leave their party to form a new caucus. Then again, that would require guts, something they lack.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The announcement snafu at the Academy Awards regarding Best Picture
Unseasonably warm temperatures in February
People not recycling
University of Cincinnati losing a basketball game to a team they should have beaten
Blaming anything on someone other than Obama

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for handling online harassment.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
NASA launches first cordless satellite
Lowe’s debuts new travel plunger with collapsible handle
Large mirror brought onto Oscar’s stage gets resounding 6-minute standing ovation
Horny man not even going to inflate her all the way
American Airlines wants to phase out complimentary cabin pressurization

Interesting Reads
Beechey Island – the island of lost explorers
About biofuels
Aircraft carriers
Legislative prayer, the high court, and the justice nominee
A response to vaginal glue
Americans feelings toward religious groups
(Photo Gallery) Carnival around the world

Here’s Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 325

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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.

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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

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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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 323

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It’s Super Bowl weekend. Although I will probably watch, I have no big interest in this year’s game. However, I would like to see underdog Atlanta win.

In the month of January, Cincinnati had the following (regarding sun): 1 sunny day, 6 partly cloudy/partly sunny days, and 24 cloudy days – of which only 7 were without precipitation. BUT – I think the month included a fair share of days with above normal temperatures.

A recent headline: Report find chemicals in one-third of fast food packaging. My question: Who is eating the packaging?

Good luck to Tamron Hall as she exits the Today show. Although I have switched to CBS This Morning, I will miss her presence.

Earlier this week and in defiance to the recent Executive Order on immigration, Cincinnati’s mayor declared Cincinnati as a sanctuary city. Republicans on city council, in county government, and high state officials more than disagree. Interestingly, replacing a bridge here is #2 on President Trump’s infrastructure priority list.

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For years on these pages I have proclaimed my desire for divided power in Washington as a caution to what would happen in one-party rule in the current political climate. Some criticized that stance, and now, reasons for my warnings are quite obvious.

A friend asked me if I’ve been surprised that President Trump is doing what he said he would do. (He was surprised.) My answer was No … therefore why I’m watching the reaction of Congressional Republicans.

Our elected officials are not concerned about creative problem solving, thus more concerned about getting want they want and preventing the others from getting theirs. Here’s a post from the 2009 archives that remains very relevant.

The one thing I find more discouraging than President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration is the fact of polls showing more Americans supporting the plan than opposing it.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates blew it with her order to Dept. of Justice employees. Resigning would have been much more effective.

I listened to Secretary of State Tillerson’s address to State Department employees. At least he has a positive, constructive tone. I wonder who will be the one that gets the president’s ear?

Count me in as one against the latest nomination to the Supreme Court. Whereas partisans are either automatically for or against the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, I am against it because I think the seat should remain vacant. After all, I want to play Last Judge Standing – thus no nominations until there is only 1.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Common Core Educational Standards
President Trump’s Executive Order regarding immigration
Protesters of anything against President Trump
USA’s bacon reserves being at a 50-year low
Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Radiator saving loudest clank for 3:22 AM
Burmese python shocked at amount of stress man holding in his neck
Sports geneticist working on ligament-free athlete
Man spending whole day dreading event he signed up for
World agrees to take-down internet until good use found

Interesting Reads
Better tasting tomatoes with genetics
An island on the comeback
Bubba the Deplorable needing Obamacare
A report: Terrorism and immigration
Snobbery
The future of work in developing countries

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a blast from the past from Asia. A special remembrance to bassist, singer, and songwriter John Wetton who died earlier this week. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.