Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 332

When I published my return post, it was nice to see the spike on the graph of daily statistics. More importantly, it was great get to comments from friends all of the world. Thanks to all for the kind words and welcoming return.

I hope to announce a writing challenge in the next edition of this series.

Baby Fiona, (Cincinnati Zoo’s rock star baby hippo) continues to make great progress. Fiona now has a beer named after her, she is featured in a set of playing cards (we have), and continues to be a media darling. She does not regularly appear at the zoo’s exhibit, but she is making great progress bonding with her mother (Bibi) and father (Henry). Below are several links for videos.

With Amazon bid to purchase Whole Foods, this short clip (1-minute) is perfect.

 

In a pile of recyclable materials at a recycling center, what color do you think is the most dominant? (Answer later in this post.)

My wife and I are still enjoying ballroom dancing. Big news would be that we have changed instructors, and a big thumbs-up to our new one.

Did you know:

  • Otto Warmbier, the college student detained in North Korea who returned to the US in a coma and then died within days, was a Cincinnatian. I happened to be in his community the day before his funeral … and the trees lining the streets had blue and white ribbons tied around them.
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the congressman who first attended to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at the unfortunate, despicable shooting, is my representative.

Cardboard brown from all the shipping boxes is the most common color in a recycling pile. This has changed through the years, and given all the online purchasing people do today, this shouldn’t be surprising.

American politics is not only frustrating, but is also has become a waste of my time and energy. It reminds of playground squabbles in order to see who gets their way, which actually solves nothing more than determining who gets their way – but this doesn’t mean I’m completely disengaging! No matter the political party, this is what I hear when politicians talk.

I’m no longer listing items for blaming former President Obama because (by now) realizes that he is responsible for everything wrong in the world over the past 10 years and for all ills to come over the next 30 years.

President Trump is a bully who disregards the institution and traditions of government because he thinks he is king.

After the House vote on the Republican-written health care law (AHCA) designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), I wrote these words to Rep. Wenstrup after the Cincinnati Enquirer published his column.

Thank you for sharing your story of the health issues in your family as well as your point of view concerning the ACA and the AHCA. You should know that as a political independent, I characterize your “Yes” vote for the AHCA without an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office as incompetent and a prime example of favoring the interest of your party over serving the best interests of the people in our district and all Americans. Health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how cell phones have changed our lives.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Health scare prompts man to overeat healthier
Earth ranked as number 1 party planet
New study finds no long-term health benefits
Man pulling on loose hangnail slowly unravels skin from entire body
Beauty industry exec keeps photo of crying 15-year-old girl on desk to remind himself why he does this

Interesting Reads
Sagan’s baloney detection kit
Continued fascination with Phineas Gage
Tree-climbing goats
A personal view of cystic fibrosis and the benefits of research
(Photos) 91 picture of 91 years of Queen Elizabeth II

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that you may not know. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 328

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.

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

 

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. 319

Ohio lost a native son who was a statesman an American hero at age 95. John Glenn is one of the original Mercury astronauts who became the first American to orbit our planet, then went on to be a respected US Senator representing my state for 4 terms, a presidential candidate, the oldest person in space, a fighter pilot, and all around good guy. In the famous words spoken by fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter just before Glenn’s historic launch, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

The Kennedy Center Honors event was recently held, so mark your calendars for the televised event – Tuesday, December 27th, 9-11 pm (Eastern US) on CBS. To me, it’s one of the best entertainment shows of the year.

The demands on the handbell choir during the holiday season continues this weekend. Veni (by Jason Krug) is an interesting twist on a popular carol … just click to listen.

Despite President Obama’s effort, I overcame his obstacles and found my Spumoni ice cream.

Some of you may remember the use of wine corks in our home. Meanwhile, this 1+ minute video offers some clever uses for wine corks.

Even though we didn’t know any of the songs from the musical, we watched Hairspray Live. We were surprised by the quality of Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough’s voice. Jennifer Hudson and Kristen Chenoweth delivered impressive performances.

I’m still getting some hours at the golf course; therefore causing me to wonder about the ones playing on cold days.

I worry about the Bengals playing the winless Browns this weekend.

President-Elect Trump talks about unifying a divided America, yet several of his Cabinet nominees promote division.

Early in the week I heard only bits of an interview that I imagine I would have greatly enjoyed hearing it in its entirety. I found the author’s 3 categories of voters quite amusing: Hobbits, Hooligans, and Vulcans. Here’s a book review.

The fake news story and the subsequent event about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a popular Washington pizza restaurant was too weird on multiple levels.

A tip of the cap to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 7-minute tribute from the Senate floor to Vice-President Joe Biden (D-DE). See it here.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominations
Ridership of Cincinnati’s new streetcar being less than projected
Tiger Woods not winning his return tournament
Republicans being divided on what to do with the Affordable Care Act
Possibility of Kim and Kanye divorcing

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, here’s an actual headline from The New Yorker that is very Onion-esque: Ben Carson warns that the Bible makes no mention of housing or urban development … that is just too good because President-elect Trump selected Dr. Carson to be in his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Banana still most popular fruit for pretending to make a phone call
Broken ornament relegated to lonely existence on side of tree facing wall
Divorced friend burning through hobbies at unsustainable rate
Man had no idea cough was going to be a wet one
Oprah purists prefer original British version

Interesting Reads
Pearl Harbor myths?
Magic mushrooms
A look back at the first Rocky movie
Life under the ice
(Video) Black hole eating a galaxy
(Photos) Images capturing beauty across Great Britain

Here’s a 2-fer to lead you into the weekend: hits from two recent Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Wondering

With Election Day 2016 in the rearview mirror, I sit on the edge of a canyon and stare into the vastness.

I see a divided nation separated by the canyon with steep wall … without a bridge, and no plan for a bridge, or even another bridge to nowhere … and I wonder …

I wonder about loud beating drums of the partisans as the yell and demand their self interests.

I wonder about the existence of common ground … and if it exists, can it be found?

I wonder if reconciliation is possible.

I wonder about the intersection of civility, grace, and humility with hate, sexism, bigotry, and disrespect

I wonder about if acceptance, respect, listening, and working together toward solution is possible.

I wonder about the similarities and differences between a President Trump and Candidate Trump.

I wonder if Republicans can govern and the response by the Democrats as they move left.

I wonder about the messages from the voices that aren’t heard.

I wonder about the solutions that favor one side or the other, the solutions that are a blend of both, and the solutions that are outside the framework of all partisans.

I wonder how a President Trump will deal with his worst enemy – himself.

I wonder if  the intent of “unifying” actually means just follow.

I wonder about the effects of one-party rule during tumultuous times.

I wonder if civility is a shared value.

I wonder how long Trump supporters will continue to give him a free pass because “not her” isn’t a good excuse.

I wonder who really cares and why.

I wonder about the uneasy feeling within me about the future.

I wonder about a changing world that is changing more rapidly than ever.

I simply wonder.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 315

So far, the plays we’ve seen while ushering have been enjoyable. Definitely a variety of styles.

If it’s not already, Cincinnati will soon be in the national news because the jury is deliberating a case involving a police office shooting an unarmed black male.

Photo Credit: Andrew Evans

Photo Credit: Andrew Evans

The handbell piece we played last weekend was very well received. Here it is again.

My Italian cousin Gino has a good sense of humor. At dinner my cousins were asking us about chefs in America. After showing Gino this picture of Giada de Laurentiis, he raised his eyebrows, paused, then said, “Do you think she will cook for me and wash my underwear?”

I’ve made limoncello, orangecello, meloncello, gingercello, and basilcello. For this holiday season, I’m making cranberry-orangecello. It’s in the extraction phase at the moment, so I hope to have it ready for sampling when the family gathers for Thanksgiving (November 24th). For those who want to make limoncello, click here for my recipe.

I recently heard this story. Two guys hired a cab to pick them up, take them to a specific address, wait, then return them home. After the complete trip, the two passengers refused to pay – so the cab driver called the police to report not only the failure to pay, but the fact the two guys committed a robbery at a specific address and were now at a designated address. Book ‘em, Danno, and then give them a Darwin Award.

This column about the election by a local sports columnist is worth the read.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Editorial Board offered these words: “This is a time to respect the will of the people and find a way to move forward as a nation. This is a time for civility. There’s been too much vitriol on both sides, and Americans must learn how to talk to each other again, treating fellow citizens with respect regardless of their differences. Without question, Trump was the more appealing candidate to the darker forces among us, but it would be a grave mistake to paint all – or even a majority with the same “deplorable” brush. … This is a time for healing …. This is a time for change and moving past the same old cynical politics …. This is a time for reflection …. We should all want President-elect Trump to succeed, just as we should all have wanted the same for President Barack Obama. That’s what patriotism means. That’s the key for finding our way again as a country.”

In a related note, I’m very proud of the readers here for many reasons – including the civil tone on my post following the election (the previous post). Thanks to all.

“Repeal and replace” is going to be a common phrase in the months ahead. There will be a time when we start hearing actual proposals. If we hear the insurance industry squealing about a proposal, that may be the one to use.

News of children in a Michigan school chanting “Build a wall” to Latino students is disturbing.

Some Things that Concern Me (listed in increasing importance)

  • Democrats acting like Republicans
  • The Nincompoop getting a cabinet position
  • A Republican Congress proclaiming a mandate, thus shoving an agenda down everyone’s throat
  • The loud, obnoxious portion of the electorate thinking they are in control
  • Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court

Now that the election is over, it’s time to return to the Supreme Court vacancy. Too bad the Republican Senate who proclaimed the Biden Rule aren’t following it. I was hoping for a divided government between the Senate and the White House so we could play a game of Last Judge Standing! Therefore, no nominees until the court is completely vacant …. Damn the results!

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Hillary Clinton losing
A ganglion cyst returning to my leg
Sharna’s injury on Dancing With the Stars
Cleveland Browns not winning a game yet (but they are playing at the time of this post)
Donald Trump winning

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for handling social anxieties.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Winning lottery numbers obvious in hindsight
Woman worried she’s doing bad job enjoying massage
New premium Uber service lets users commandeer any car
Bungled Apocalypse causes light drizzle over southern Ohio
Man praying job interviewer doesn’t ask any questions

Interesting Reads
Escape from Syria in a wheelchair
Successes in Finnish education
A different look at historic Route 66
Sightseer’s guide to Mars
Poverty and parties from Brookings with a state-by-state drop-down menu at the end.
The Beatles Final Concert
3-D printing and prosthetics
(Photos) Glasgow’s mural trail

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a popular oldie. Besides, I mentioned it in the Interesting Reads. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 314

I haven’t done an OITS since my return from vacation, so it’s about time.

Now that vacation is over, the fall means returning to volunteering with English Second Language adults, ushering at plays, and ballroom dancing with seniors and with adults with Down Syndrome … plus playing handbells.

Speaking of handbells, here’s the piece we’re playing this weekend. Click to watch and listen.

It’s been another good season for Dancing with the Stars. Amazing how that show keeps chugging along. They are down to the final 6: two whose time it is to go, and 4 worthy of making the final 3.

Italians love picking their own mushrooms.
italianmushroomscomp

I’ve been spending significant time researching and writing on my religion and science project. I must say that it has been quite the learning journey, and one that may lead to self-publishing.

All of us know that there is more to a person we know than we think. Rich works at the golf course, but he’s in carts. This weekend he is officiating his last high school football game … after 40 years! Impressive!

Some may be wondering about the next musical. The ideas are in my head, but it is important for me to be as available as possible during musicals. Therefore, no announcement is in the near future.

Hooray … presumably, the U.S. presidential election will be over soon! Regardless of the outcome, no more campaign commercials on Wednesday … actually Tuesday evening. Woo hoo!!!

This past Friday I waited in the doctor’s office, where a cable news channel is always on. During the 90 minutes I waited, the election was the only topic covered. Isn’t anything else happening in this country and the world?

Regardless if I agree or disagree with the statement, I enjoyed this comment: Americans are facing a choice between a crook and a creep.

From the warped side of the political spectrum, read this … and this clown is my state senator.

Regardless of the final outcome for the presidency, I’m hoping another four years of divided government. That is, the White House, control of the Senate, and control of the House of Representatives is not controlled by one party. Divided government has been ineffective and inefficient the past 6 years. However, in the current political climate, divided government prevents one party shoving their preferences down everyone’s throat.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Earthquakes in Italy
Donald Trump’s popularity
The rotten season of my favorite football teams (2 college and 1 pro)
Too many campaign commercials on television
Samsung’s problems with the Galaxy 7 and washing machines

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists the most-ignored issues in the US Presidential campaign.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man who stopped dieting already seeing results
Grandmother doesn’t care for new priest
Pope Francis hosts feathered serpent god as part of deity exchange program
Each member of family on edge as vacation has gone without one blowout fight
Non-dominant hand completely botches nail clipping job
Anthropologists discover isolated tribe of joyful Americans living in remote village untouched by 2016 election

Interesting Reads
A Medal of Honor story
A story about drilling holes in skulls
Chinese glass walkway
Some of the world’s most boring jobs
History of drywall
The religious reacting to medical advances
An interactive: Henry Hudson’s travels
(Photos) National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

For your weekend, here’s the latest from The Piano Guys. Enjoy the trip! Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Day of the Last

The last Trump-Clinton debate is later today. As a matter of fact, many are readying themselves to watch … especially the partisans. To my non-U.S. audience, excuse this lengthy post about US politics, so I understand if you switch to my previous post about Walktober, which you will probably find more interesting and satisfying.

I’ve enjoyed following politics for a long time. I liked conventions because of the good speeches. I watched debates out of curiosity and being informed to make a judgment. I started this blog in August 2008 around politics and sports. I’ve morphed since then, but politics is still in my gut – although I’ve been more silent this year than in the past.

The 2016 election is (unfortunately) different. I didn’t watch either convention. I didn’t watch any of the debates during the primaries of either party, nor any of the debates in the past few weeks. The list of why not was always longer than the list of why. Tonight isn’t any different because I’m going for the shutout.

One reason to not watch is simply because the chances of a candidate answering the question is (at best) remote. The moderator will ask a question, then the candidate figures out a way to segue from the question to the prepared talking point. (In my debate rules, the microphone would be turned off and the candidate would enter the Cones of Silence.

Candidates have been doing this for years, but that doesn’t mean we the people don’t deserve better. Because I’m tired of it, watching would be a waste of time – so, instead, I’ll probably spend my time writing a future post about my recent trip.

2016 is also interesting in other ways. It seems that Hillary Clinton was proclaimed the nominee-in-waiting many years ago. I wonder what the Democrats would have done if she didn’t seek the nomination? After all, I never got the impression they were grooming anyone.

Nonetheless, she is the nominee – she’s also smart and experienced. On the other hand, besides being a polarizing figure to many, I don’t trust her. Although the email issue is mainly an issue for her partisan opponents, it’s a non-issue for me … but, it is an example of why I don’t trust her. Deep down I sense that she means well, but the Clintons are who they are. (Note: Overall, I think Bill Clinton was a good president.)

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. When he announced his candidacy way back when, I stated (and repeatedly stated) that he wouldn’t be the nominee. I admit missing that one, but I’m still amazed he did so, thus wonder, why have Americans lowered themselves to that standard?

Regardless of “knowing more about ISIS than the generals”, Donald Trump’s candidacy has never been about issues and never been about substance. The man lacks intellectual depth that a U.S. President requires. Several times he promised to be more presidential and talk issues. Each time he failed as he reverted back to his ways. That’s simply him being him.

His candidacy is based on fear and shallow promises. His based his candidacy on making fun of people as low-energy Jeb – let alone other unnecessary personal attacks on individuals and groups. His candidacy is based on false information, misconceptions, and misleading statements. His candidacy is based on saying anything – even contradictions of his own words – all in the name of exciting his base that gives him a free pass on most things he says simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy really wasn’t a secret or a surprise – and she was very beatable. The Republicans countered by nominating:

  • A candidate who is finding it difficult to beat a beatable candidate.
  • A candidate who stoops low.
  • A candidate with pathetic moral fiber, yet flying under the banner of the party of family values.
  • A candidate who used his personality to effectively use the media to get the nomination, but one who now blames the media for his current troubles that he brought on himself.
  • A candidate who claiming the election is rigged. (For the record, states run the election … and most states have Republican governors, officials, and legislatures.)

Elections shouldn’t be about likability because the major question in 2016 (now more than ever) is who is most fit and capable of leading this country? Election 2016 much less about ideology. Likability aside,and given the choices, the answer is more than obvious. Whether one supported Mitt Romney in 2012 or not (and I didn’t), there was no question in my mind he was fit to serve.

Fortunately for me (and others), two alternatives exist in Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The latter had no chance of my vote, but I listened to Johnson as I looked for an alternative. To me, he lacked substance during a time when I was looking for substance.

I’m having a difficult time understanding how so many people can support Donald Trump. The two main reasons (in my opinion) must be blind partisanship and a total disdain for her. The sheer numbers raises my concerns about my country much more than the concerns I have about each candidate.

The Arizona Republic (Phoenix newspaper) have never endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate in its 126 year history. This year their endorsement headline was the following: Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America forward.

Because of their stance, the newspaper received many threats. So many that it wrote a second op-ed responding to the threats. This column is worth reading (and the endorsement is linked within it).

Under normal circumstances, I would leave my presidential spot on the ballot blank. I’ve done it before and am willing to do it again – but in 2016, the stakes seem too high for me. On Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton will get my vote – but it is more of a vote against Donald Trump than it is for her. She is unquestionably better than the alternative.

Back to me watching the final debate. No, no, no … I’m still not watching because the odds of something changing my mind are between slim and none. Besides, I would rather watch this clip from Ellen.