Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 289

Yep – playing handbells is so easy, ___.

Our handbell choir plays this weekend, which will be my first since returning. The song is interesting … slow, a touch of haunting and passion. For those interested, here’s another choir doing the song.

I didn’t have a good week of visiting other blogs. :(

This is Super-Bowl weekend. It’s been awhile since we haven’t attended a party for the game, but we’ll sit back, watch the game, and enjoy the commercials. Without a preference, I think Carolina is the better team, but I would like to see Peyton Manning go into retirement with a win.

Colors: The Musical returns next week. Act 2 features Red, so all songs must have Red in the title. However, no compound words contain red (redbird, redbud, etc) and no shades of red (crimson, scarlet, maroon, etc). Show time is Tuesday night at 9:30 pm (Eastern US).

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

Hooray … Iowa is over! I’ve heard multiple Republicans complain about the Democrats’ results, My independent research discovered the following: (Jim in Iowa – Is my capsule close?)

  1. The political party determines the rules. (They can be different)
  2. Just because the opposing party uses a different method does not mean the other method is incorrect.
  3. Since the first statewide caucus in 1972, Democrats do NOT report the number of votes, but on-location caucus leaders determine the number of delegates based on a weighted vote calculation.
  4. Caucus leaders submit the final weighted calculation results and the subsequently elected delegates to the Iowa Democratic Party. (Read about the process here)
  5. aFa conclusion: Complaining Republicans shouldn’t care, thus complain to discredit a particular candidate – in this case, Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

New Hampshire is next. No matter the results, the race is not a sprint. On the other hand, I wonder about the next candidate(s) leaving the fray … but I continue to point to the pivot dates of March 1st (Republicans) and March 15th (Democrats).

There is a bit of a lag after New Hampshire, which will cause some angst to some candidates.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has withdrawn. Republican party rules in Kentucky were that a candidate could not appear on the ballot for two different positions. Because 2016 is election year for his Senate seat, Sen. Paul convinced the state’s party leaders to change the way the state determines the Republican presidential delegates from a primary to a caucus. (thus allowing him to run for president and senator.) Now, the caucus is in March while the primary is in May. I imagine many Kentuckians are confused while others will be surprised when they get their ballot in May. Stay tuned. NOTE: Republicans complaining about the Democrats in Iowa are not complaining about this bit of craziness within their own party.

A good question for the candidates. Governing is much easier when one party controls all facets. If the opposite party controlled the Senate, and other than inviting them to join your ideas, how would you handle your legislative agenda?

Hillary Clinton’s explanation defending her progressive label was very weak.

I decided not to include several fact checks from recent debates. Let me know if you want them.

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion identifies the biggest campaign gaffes of this current election season.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Car windows rolled down to let out shitty music
Chiquita introduces easy-grip banana (See for yourself)
Back of library smells like weed
Car alarm turned off just as it was starting to get good
Researchers announce they don’t have heart to reveal what will happen to 1 In 5 women

Interesting Reads
The crumbling of one of Africa’s biggest dams
A BiPartisan Policy Center’s report about improving the Affordable Care Act
18th Century smugglers and the tea cartel
Communicating with only yes and no no
Recognizing the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
(Photos) Winter in northern Whales

To sent you into the weekend, enjoy a touch of high-level ballroom to a Michael Buble song. 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. 287

A major snow storm is forming in the central US and aiming at the major cities on the eastern seaboard. It appears (at the publish time) the brunt of the storm will pass to the south of Cincinnati … but that could change. Good luck to everyone affected.

We saw the movie Carol. Very interesting and I can see how critics love the movie. Although the setting was New York City in the 1950s, it was filmed here in Cincinnati – so my eyes were on the constant lookout for familiar sights.

I didn’t know that Iranian women can drive and vote – something that Saudi women cannot.

St. Louis lost another sports team as the Rams leave the Gateway Arch city for more lucrative offer in Los Angeles. The NFL is a money-making machine, and each team is worth in billions. I don’t know the stadium deal in LA, but I do know that teams have held (and continue to hold) their city and county governments hostage to build them a stadium for their product. What a shame.

I recently started a second volunteer project as I attend a Senior Living complex for an hour of ballroom. The lady attendees don’t move well, but their smiles are priceless.

We enjoyed this lemon risotto recipe by Rachael Ray.

Although far from perfect, no doubt in my mind that player on-court sportsmanship is much better in basketball than football.

Hats off to ML Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for allowing the Cincinnati Reds to induct Pete Rose into the team’s Hall of Fame, retire his number, and place a statue on the plaza outside the stadium … all of which his peckerhead predecessor wouldn’t consider.

Although some spotted the preview announcement on the Hear Ye page. Opening Night for Colors: The Musical is January 26th, curtain time at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). All songs must include Black in the song title, but not compound words containing black. Shades of black are also unacceptable. The Hear Ye page also contains information about other acts and the awesome Marina-designed Playbill cover. Resa is also offering her wardrobe-design services for this gala event.

I’ve seen several segments of the CNN special The Person Who Changed My Life (this Sunday, 8 pm, Eastern US). I hope to record to watch later, thus encourage readers to turn in.

There will be an Explore this weekend – and I will say it’s not a person, not a place … but a thing.

I imagine the majority of the people of Iowa can’t wait for the circus to leave town.

A question I would want to ask the Republican candidates: If you don’t believe that humans have influenced climate change, would you reduce the research efforts of governmental groups as NASA and NOAA who support these findings?

Here are the fact checks for the most-recent Republican debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

… and the most-recent Democratic debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

This Monday, CNN is hosting a Democratic Town Hall event with the 3 seeking the party’s nomination. Yep – I won’t be watching, thus my record will remain perfect.

Other than via comments on these pages, I ran into the first person who is also unhappy with the fact that our governor is drawing a salary while running for president … and I didn’t prompt the suggestion.

Sarah Palin (R-AK) (aka The Nincompoop) returns to the news cycle to endorse Donald Trump (R-NY) … perfect!

Meanwhile, dysfunction continues in The Nincompoop family. After her son’s arrest for domestic violence, The Nincompoop placed the blame on President Obama … Classic Nincompoopian … and priceless.

Something to ponder: Is Sarah Palin a celebrity or a politician?

To lead you toward the weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips on arranging a funeral.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Kind Of music that’s playing indicates movie character must be entering Italy
NCAA investigating God for giving athletes gifts
Naughty EpiPen reveals naked lady when injected
Bungled Apocalypse causes light drizzle over Southern Ohio
Porn DVD’s commentary track just more moaning
Drummer forced to retrieve sticks from audience for encore

Interesting Reads
The Stormtrooper army
The dogs that protect little penguins
Saudi women
Vintage vending machines (Thanks, Tim)
The global movement of money
That many in the human body! Really?
(Pictures) Three colors

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. 280

To the victims and their families, and to the French people for strength, unity, and peace.

Shame to the American candidates for politicizing the event by playing the blame game while offering suggestions that amount to (at best) meager gibberish.

It was good seeing Americans displaying the French flag this weekend … especially when the Army football team came onto the field with for a game at West Point.

Sky: The Musical’s Act 2 featuring the sun is in the books … and we were nearing 40 songs. With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching us in the US, the production won’t return until December. Act 3 features clouds, so song titles must include Cloud, Clouds, or Cloudy. Curtain time is Tuesday, December 3rd at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). Acts 4 and 5 information is on the Hear Ye page, along with another important announcement.

There will be an Explore post this weekend.

Although no kids for us, we enjoy our 4 nieces and nephews. Last weekend we attended the wedding (the third to be marriage) – but it was out first to attend. We were a proud aunt and uncle, and wish them the best.

While in Cleveland last weekend, I saw my first white stuff of winter.

Because both of us volunteer at the weekly Downs Syndrome ballroom dance event, earlier this week my tango partner and I danced for the group. Considering we haven’t danced the routine in over 10 days, we did well. Most importantly, we had fun and it was well received.

Even with the recent attacks in France, Lebanon, and over the skies of Egypt, I still say no US troops on the ground against ISIS – unless a coalition of Arab forces decide to take action.

Since the latest terrorist attack in Paris, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the French and US responses to Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

The Atlantic published What ISIS Really Wants this past February. It continue to be on the front page of their website, plus other news agencies promote it. I listed it as an Interesting Read months ago, but I want to promote it again. It’s a long read – but interesting – however, it is a view – and not the only view. For the interested, here’s the link.

The next Republican debate is December 15th (Tuesday) on CNN. Yawn .. .but another one for me to miss as I go for 7 in a row.

Something to ponder – If political candidates submitted their own questions to answer in a debate, would they truly answer the question?

Last week the Democrats had their second debate, and I missed another one. Damn … that makes me 6 for 6. Here are multiple fact checks from the event: Annenberg FactCheckAssociated Press, PolitiFact, Politico, Washington Post.

I continue to believe that if a governor, senator, or representative wants to run for president, they need to resign their position immediately upon announcing their candidacy. Our states and districts play them to do a job that does not include campaigning around the country while being paid.

To lead you into The Onion, here are their suggestions for talking to your children about sex.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation’s conservationist warn there are only 8 trillion rats left
Minimalism Overdone
US Mathematicians Round Pi Down To Three
Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions
Experts Warn Number Of Retirees Will Completely Overwhelm Scenic Railway Industry By 2030
Economists Recommend Setting Aside Part Of Every Paycheck In Case Of Dire Straits Reunion Tour

Interesting Reads
The man who invented relaxation
Russian psychics
The beauty of winter in Greenland
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and daily worship
The Owen: an Aussie weapon
The evolution of toxic toad eaters
Photo gallery of Spots

It’s time for a musical two-fer to send you into the weekend – a leftover from Act 2 and a golden oldie. 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. 275

After it’s smashing debut of over 40 songs, Dance: The Musical returns this week with Act 2 featuring songs with “dancing” or “dancin’” in the title. Those are the only two options. The show starts this coming Tuesday (Sept. 8th) at 9:30 pm (Eastern US).

ALERT: Next week is the first of three consecutive weeks for Dance: The Musical. WARNING – Act 4 will be very tricky, so I suggest seeing the Hear Ye page.

Regular attendees at the musicals know that a cantankerous producer runs the show with burrs in his shorts. Not all that long ago he insisted I refer to him as The Producer (as opposed to the producer). I recently discovered why … he officially changed his name to The Producer.

As I mentioned last week, my pastor read my post about predestination – of which he commented about the civility here. Some readers were curious about his reaction to my content. He and I talked earlier this week, and he was supportive and had no issues. We also talked about other theological meanings for predestination.

President McKinley was from my state – Ohio – and I’m one Ohioan who has no problem with Mt, McKinley (the highest peak in the US) returning to its original name – Denali.

The previous post regarding teaching and training created many interesting responses and fruitful dialogue between visitors.cooltext_7

An Explore post returns this weekend with a person, place, or thing. Last week’s Salute post about the number 7 was a subtle way of celebrating the 7th anniversary of this blog that I commonly refer to as my little corner of the world. A special thanks to those who noticed that fact (#68) embedded amidst the drivel.

College football starts this weekend – a season that I enjoy. Amazingly, the highest paid coaches make $5-7+ million per year. Should they be paid that much? To me, it’s simple: If the investment brings in more than the investment, I unquestionably say YES. Here’s a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on the topic.

If there is anyone interested in playing a free, no-pressure version of fantasy football, let me know and I will email you the information.

Although I haven’t written it on these pages, I have wondered how long it would take someone to mention building a wall along the US-Canada border. Congratulations, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WS)! Meanwhile, here’s a great video about the US-Canada border. Thanks Debra.

Interesting doublespeak: Some Republicans love to tout American exceptionalism, yet point to the fact that birthrate citizenship (14th Amendment & court cases) is not common with many other countries

Donald Trump (R-NY) loves to mock, but he also makes it easy to mock. If he doesn’t need anyone’s money, won’t ask for anyone’s money, and will self-fund his own campaign, why did a recent Bloviation event charge money? Why does The Bloviator’s website campaign website take donations? I know the drill – answer the question with a bombastic statement that doesn’t answer the question.

Here’s the one thing I confidently believe about Hillary Clinton (D-NY) since 2008: Like her or not, she (and her people) know how to run a lousy campaign.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated President Obama and his administration is intentionally vilifying law enforcement. Just another example of the type of voter Sen. Cruz is seeking.

Here’s an interesting quote regarding gay marriage from the elected official of my district to the state legislature. Well, I’ve got to hand it to President Obama. He has managed to figure out how to do what no one thought was possible: A national flipping of the middle finger at God, (John Becker). I yield to a great American orator below for his comment.

I shake my head not only at the county clerk in Kentucky (Kim Davis) refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but to also the ridiculous comments I’ve heard from others. As an elected official, she can’t be fired or request a transfer – therefore, she should either resign or taken to jail (which she has). Employees of the clerk office in the same situation should request transfer or find another job.

To lead you into this week’s satire, here’s The Onion’s explanation of the pros and cons of legalizing prostitution.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Full summer of tending outdoor garden produces single edible cherry tomato
Friends grandma to give you hug too
NASA deploys Congressional funding is search of funding
Pope cleans up dead angel who flew into Sistine Chapel window
New dating site suggests people you already know but thought you were too good for
Salt Lake City hoping to boost tourism by reminding visitors they are free to leave at any time

Interesting Reads
A historical look at India’s great divide (Thanks Jim)
Plagiarized anthems
Water and hangovers
Quotes about science by theologians
Competencies and limitations of science
(Interactive) Political media habits by generations

To send you into the weekend, here are two versions of the same one: the way we know it and the studio acoustic version. Any preference? 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. 263

I wonder about the similarities between the following presidential campaigns: Hillary Clinton (D-NY) 2016, Jeb Bush (R-FL) 2016, and Mitt Romney (R-UT) 2012.

Wow … Unbelievably, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, said global warming is not a hoax and the primary cause is human action increasing the carbon dioxide level. I’m sure the GOP base is excited and the other candidates are thanking him for paving the way.

Amazon is now collecting sales tax on purchases by Ohio residents, and I’m OK with that.

The transition away from posting daily has been good for me because 1) I don’t feel rushed preparing, and 2) I’ve been visiting other blogs more. Then again, I tend to get behind on weekends.

I added a new page – Hear Ye – to serve as a place for announcements, such as information about the next act of Meals: The Musical. (Yep – it’s there now, but I will announce again next week.)

There will be an Explore post on Saturday.

For those interested in jello shots, this creative recipe is worth checking. 

Carrie Rubin is looking for help with your quest to be published by Amazon. Here’s her post on how you can help her.

Last week Democrat Lincoln Chafee (D_RI) announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. As a sign that his candidacy is in trouble, his name cannot be found in The Onion’s archives.

The Onion’s profiles of presidential candidates: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)

June is the most popular month for weddings in the US. To lead you into this week’s satire, The Onion captured the latest wedding trends.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion (Combos welcome)
More US children being diagnosed with YTD – Youthful Tendency Disorder
Idiot zoo animal with zero predators still protecting young
New Claritin flamethrower incinerates whatever causes allergies
Automakers asks nation if it still wants handle above car windows
Laid-back company allows employees to work from home after 6 pm

Interesting Reads
Raising money: political campaigns vs. new-business startups
Building the Clinton Foundation
Powering the future car: hydrogen or electricity?
Is Pope Francis a Communist?
Six mysteries in biology
(Photo Gallery) National Geographic Traveler Contest

Here’s a 2-fer to send you into the weekend. First, a video from the early MTV days (do you remember the song) and a bigger hit from a 80s. 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. 260

Generally avoiding questions by Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is an interesting strategy. I wonder if it will cost her votes in the long run. Then again, there is plenty of time.

At least three more Republicans could very soon be joining the fray of seeking the nomination: Sen.Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) … and more are on the way. It also appears former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md) will be announcing on the Democratic side.

Fox News and CNN recently announced their selection criteria for the early Republican presidential debates. Although CNN has a Segment B for additional candidates, I would like to see a debate with the top 5 candidates being excluded.

Politico is a popular and reputable online news source about US politics. They recently expanded into Europe at politico.eu.

Speaking of Politico, here’s a gallery for political junkies about political guests with David Letterman.

This is interesting: A conservative economist and member of the Reagan White House explains how he believes Fox News hurts Republicans. For those wanting to know more, click here.

Here’s an excellent report by CNN about surveillance over the South China Sea.

Speaking of China, I want to know if one can read this blog in mainland China. Do you have any connections that can answer my burning question?

Attention bacon lovers. US bacon prices are 25% lower than a year ago.

It’s Memorial Day weekend – a 3-day weekend – the official start of summer vacation season- the Indianapolis 500 – parades, ceremonies, 21-gun salutes, pools open, picnics, outdoor activities, and more.

I thought the Dancing With the Stars Finals show was very entertaining … and Sharna Burgess was on every week. Cheers to Season 20!

Meals: The Musical returns next week, so I’ll announce the theme on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

There will be a Saturday post as the Explore series resumes.

To lead you into this week’s headlines from The Onion, here’s their pros and cons about raising the minimum wage.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Anthropologists discover Ancient Greek Super PAC that helped shape first democracy
One year old still waiting for father’s first words
God realizes he forgot to put souls in humans
Child visits Ellis Island to see where grandparents once toured
McDonald’s reintroduces Hamburgler as attractive suburban dad

Interesting Reads
Cyber-archaeology saving relics
Islam and feminism
Photo gallery honoring BB King
Trains: driven by drivers or engineers
Columnist Roger Cohen’s thoughts about living in Italy
Smartphones and personal medicine

Your Weekend Celebrations
(Weekend) Mudbug Madness Days, Polka Weekend, Old-Time Player-Piano Days

(Fri) Toothpaste Tube Day, Buy a Musical Instrument Day, Don’t Fry Day, Vanilla Pudding Day, Canadian Immigrants Day, Harvey Milk Day, Heat Awareness Day, Biological Diversity Day, Maritime Day, Goth Day, Title Track Day, Wig Out Day, Maritime Day

(Sat) Lucky Penny Day, Jazz Day, Polka Day, Pickle Day, Crohn’s & Colitis Day, Turtle Day, Heritage Breeds Day, Taffy Day, Day to End Obstetric Fistula

(Sun) Scavenger Hunt Day, Escargot Day, Judgment in Paris Day, Brothers Day, Tiara Day, Mary Had A Little Lamb Day

The start of a 3-day weekend in a USA is a good reason for a 2-fer to send you into the weekend .. one from 1981 and one from today (which happens to be a Cincinnati band) … and both are timely. Which did you watch? 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.