Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 424

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Welcome to the next-to-the last edition of OITS.

As a baseball fan, the baseball trilogy of beach walks was a lot of fun. I actually wrote the drafts last February as Spring Training was starting. I knew that non-baseball fans may not like them as much, but I felt the fans would love them.

The conclusion is officially mapped. Note the following:

  • Saturday (early) – My last attempt at fiction – and definitely something different
  • Sunday (evening) – The last Beach Walk (and a seemingly odd topic)
  • Tuesday (evening) – Agenda for the finale series
  • Thursday (evening) – The last OITS

After months of scrounging through my blog closet, being on the homestretch is starting to sink in to me.

In 2019 the top golf tour for aspiring golf professional was the Web.com Tour. I friend of mine asked me about the new tour name – Korn Ferry Tour. Being unfamiliar with the name, I pictured Corn Fairy.

I’m enjoying the book I’m reading: Leadership in Turbulent Times (Doris Kearns Goodwin), which focuses on Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

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I know this will be hard to believe, but I missed another debate. Maybe I’ll catch the next one …. NOT!

Appears the impeachment trial will begin next week. I’ll pass in order to look for reruns of old TV westerns.

I have read past oaths regarding senators and an impeachment trial, but I am curious to see this oath because I know the vast majority of senators are lying under oath.

Last week I criticized Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) for making extra stupid remarks and then doubling down on them. Since then, he apologized. Sorry Rep. Collins, I don’t accept because your true colors clearly demonstrates you are a partisan hack and that you meant your foul words. After all, if you meant them, you would change your behavior.

To lead you into The Onion headlines, here’s one that left me speechless. For those who dare, click for yourself. https://www.theonion.com/excited-park-rangers-announce-lincoln-memorial-actually-1840896775

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

US plagued by widespread Website crashes after mouse gets into Internet
Area woman’s baseless hatred of Anne Hathaway reciprocated
Archeologists discover cave with earliest built-in shelves
Nation gathers around area man trying to parallel park
Landlord figures he can pass off uninhabitable shithole as ‘great for students’
Cereal too crispy, needs to soak

Interesting Reads

Thoughts about genetic engineering
Polarization in the media
Something to think about regarding Free Shipping
Visual Capitalist’s 20 best graphics of 2019
The decline of cash
(Pictures) The Nature Conservatory Photo Contest winners
(Graphic) 20 years of Internet giants 
(Graphic) The apathy vote in the US

To send you into the weekend, here’s a classic made famous at Woodstock. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 421

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Welcome to the last OITS of 2019 … so I’ve included a few extras!

Thanks to everyone for participating in Weekend Concert Series saluting Broadway. It was maddening because it was the first time I’ve done something like that. Plus, it turned out not to be the best weekend for me in terms of timing. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to have a good time and I enjoyed listening to all the songs. The next concert will be after the first of the year, and the finale to the series.

Next concert: Tentatively Saturday 4 January – Duets – (Two performers not normally paired together)

With the December holidays upon us, I will abbreviate my posting schedule. Below is a probable schedule that is subject to change (Times are based on Eastern US).

  • (Sunday afternoon) 22 December) A beach walk
  • (Tuesday 24 Dec – or late 23rd) Christmas post
  • (Friday 27 Dec) A caption challenge for an image
  • (Sun 29 Dec) – A food review
  • (Tuesday 31 Dec) New Years post
  • (Thursday night 2 January) – Opinions in the Shorts
  • (Saturday 4 January) – Weekend Concert – Duets

We recently spent an afternoon at the Cincinnati Museum Center. We the Omnimax movies. Fortunately, for us, we saw two! After visiting the vert-well-done Apollo 11 exhibit, we went into the theater for the Apollo 11 movie. Interesting, no narration – just a story told through a string of actual film footage from the time. After the movie, we stayed in our seats for Superpower Dogs, an uplifting film about rescue dogs who work to save lives – and a must for dog lovers!

Readers may remember Fiona, the baby hippo that the Cincinnati Zoo cared from birth. Fiona, 29 pounds (13 kg) at birth, will have her 3rd birthday on January 2020. This 30-second video will make you smile.

Joe Barrow, the LSU quarterback not only won the Heisman Award (college football’s best player), he won the hearts of many. In his acceptance speech, he talked about the poverty of many people of Athens County Ohio. The nation has responded with well over $500K! But there is something lost in the story. Athens County is not an island. It’s one county in a region of 15 or so counties that are very poor – worse than Athens County – let alone additional counties in adjacent West Virginia and Kentucky. How do I know? I grew up one county south of Athens.

For those who need this and dare to reach into a grab-bag, here are some holiday classics: Dominick the Donkey, a classic Santa Norelco commercial, a clean naughty Santa, the infamous Carol of the Belts, and a crazy fast holiday song with handbells (the ending is frantic). Did you watch any? If so, let me know.

I admit, The Masked Singer is a fun show. Congratulations to The Fox – Wayne Brady.

Sadly, my Benevolent Impalers experienced the agony of defeat in the tournament semifinals. It was close, but my worthy opponent had an unexpected monster game from a player and big points from the New England defense against my hometown Bengals. Ouch!

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I’m not a Trump supporter – never have, never will be. Then again, after he won the election, I was willing to give him a chance. To me, he has miserably failed – yet, I see impeachment as a sad day. Congress has not upheld its Constitutional obligation of oversight and the behaviors have been pathetic at best. I’m officially embarrassed to be an American.

If I was single, I would consider moving to another country. Yes, I am that embarrassed and concerned.

I truly believe the polls, pundits, politicians, and citizens that America is a divided nation – and possibly the most divided in my lifetime and beyond. Two strongly divided camps with shrinking common ground – each with vitrole for the other – each with disdain for moderates – each with drums beating fervently in the echo chamber – one explains, the other not listening. A divided nation with a president wearing a hat stating, “Keep America Great” – a statement reinforcing the division. A friend asked me, “How do we solve this problem?” My answer is simple. “Unless the collective of elected officials lead the change, we can’t. Otherwise, we will need a national emergency. I hope I don’t live long enough to see the next US Civil War.”

In a discussion about the current impeachment, a friend of mine (a self-proclaimed unbiased source) told me that he wasn’t sure if President Trump warranted an investigation, let alone impeachment – but President Obama should have been impeached.

For those who forgot and didn’t know, the impeachment is Obama’s fault.

Here’s a recent report on polarization from Pew Research Center.

Darn … I’m missing another Democratic debate!

As we end the year, here’s how I see the 2020 election at this time:

  • Chances of President Trump nomination: 99.9%
  • Chances of President Trump’s re-election: 65%
  • Chances of me voting for President Trump: 0%
  • Chances of me voting for the Democratic nominee: 20%

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion separates facts and fiction about recycling.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Woman not as fun-loving and carefree as pom-pom on winter hat suggests
Hungover coworker a little too functional morning after holiday party not to be alcoholic
Boyfriend ready to take relationship to previous level
Man checking if chicken wings got hot enough in microwave like first responder searching for pulse
Mom holds knife to throat of dinner guest who offered to help with dishes
Hiker trapped for days under fallen boulder survives by cutting off own ponytail
Ant flees across state line carrying big crumb

Interesting Reads

The Ottomans: Their rise and fall
A bit of barcode history
Mysteries of pain
The most important battles of WW2
Bridging differences by seeing good
(Graphic) World debt by country
(Graphics) A series of climate change charts
(Photos) Murals of women in Iraq
(Photos) Winners of a National Geographic Photo contest

To send you into the weekend, here are The Piano Guys with a song of the season. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 409

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Last weekend concert featuring the solo careers of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young went better than I anticipated. Doobie Brothers take this stage this weekend Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Because of an approaching blog break, this will be the last concert until further notice.

What does a professional football player with a degrees in mathematical economics and religion and a minor in business who is working on an MBA in finance do in this spare time? Click here to discover the answer.

The recent baseball brawl between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates was interesting. The umpire had the chance to diffuse the incident when the Pirates’ pitcher threw at the head of the Reds’ batter. Oh no – not even a warning. Interestingly, the league gave the longest suspension to the pitcher. There is no place in the game for intentionally throwing at a batter’s head.

People who use hot weather days in the summer to justify climate change are just as clueless as those who use cold days to deny climate change.

Is there any difference between Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Heach Care?

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Of course I did NOT watch either of this week’s Democratic debates. I didn’t because I couldn’t answer this important question for me … Why? Nonetheless, from reports, I can say that the odds of me voting for Elizabeth Warren is the same as me voting for Donald Trump – Zero.

No – I did not attend the recent Trump rally in Cincinnati. For the record, I would go to hear him speak even if he spoke just to the residents in my neighborhood’s clubhouse.

Another shooting of a large crowd is another opportunity for Congress to do nothing – and that’s something I’m confident they can achieve.

Certain liberal groups want to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 11 justices. Oh please, please start focusing on important issues. Please!

Who would have thunk that House Democrats would lead the Committee to Re-Elect the President.

A Director of National Intelligence who is a political hack without intelligence experience would seem to be the best two reasons for the Senate to approve Rep. John Radcliffe (R-TX).

President Trump can’t seem to politicize an event. At the recent signing ceremony of the 9-11 responders health benefits bill, instead of recognizing responders advocating for the bill, the responders benefitting from the bill, and the families this bill is designed to help – he threw accolades to his chief apologist – Rudy Guiliani. President Trump is a pathetic person, and even worse leader, and he brings the majority of his problems on himself..

Jeers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) for being the only two senators to vote against the 9-11 responders bill. Thank you voters of Oregon and Kentucky for sending us clueless, partisan hacks who are loaded with double standards.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion captured this unique debate moment.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Guy on bus really good at whatever phone game that is
Sincere email to coworker drafted, reconsidered, deleted
Four-year-old convinced father is a moron after 45th consecutive hide-and-seek victory
Insecure infant worried he’s unworthy of animatronic toy rabbit’s love
Exhilarated woman discovers last person who used jigsaw puzzle left lots of pieces stuck together

Interesting Reads

A ship’s flag
Humanity’s greatest threat?
Trust and distrust in political America
The moon landing – Fake News!
Need for humanity to know how to get better
Remembering an architect
(Graphic) World’s oldest democracies
(Photos) Wildlife

To send you into the weekend, here’s a Heat song by one who will be a Kennedy Center honoree this December. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 403

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The reason for my slow responses, a lack of visits, and several skipped posts is a two-week stretch of working more than normal and hosting out-of-town visitors. Hoping to get back to normal soon.

The Weekend Concert Series returns with Elton John. Concert starts Saturday, 22 June at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Earlier this week we went to the theater for Rocketman. Interesting how it parallels Bohemian Rhapsody (which, in my opinion, was a better movie). Taron Egerton did fabulous work portraying Elton. The images at the end were awesome. Thumbs up to the movie – plus seeing the movie as the perfect primer for the upcoming concert.

The US Open has been my favorite golf tournament for many years. In recent years, the USGA has disappointed me too many times with both their course selection and layout. Therefore I can proudly say I’m no longer a USGA member.

Several weeks ago, CBS This Morning changed two of their three morning anchors. Although I still prefer and watch the show, I have noticed they moved toward a softer side (less news) as they compete with fluff heavy Good Morning America (ABC)and Today (NBC).

I received a summons from the county court for upcoming jury duty.

We visited the Burning Man Exhibit (No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man) at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Fabulous! I hope to feature it in a future post. If the exhibit is ever in your area, I encourage you to go. It’s current schedule includes the following:

  • Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC (March 30, 2018 – January 21, 2019)
  • Cincinnati Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio (April 26, 2019 – September 2, 2019)
  • Oakland Museum of California in Oakland, California (October 12, 2019 – February 16, 2020)

Over the past two weeks, the Cincinnati Reds have actually spent several days out of last place.

The latest playoff season deliver two first-time champions: Toronto Raptors (NBA) and St. Louis Blues (NHL). Two obvious facts about their achievement. Neither winning before was Obama’s fault, and President Trump was obvious the major factor on their championships.

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Head-scratcher Time: President Trump gave to a question asked by a reporter Reporter Kristen Welker, NBC asked President Trump a question.
(Welker) “You seem to suggest that yesterday you essentially committing to not spying on North Korea. is that what you meant? Were those comments interpreted accurately, if so why?”
(Trump) “No, it’s not what I meant, it’s what I said and it’s different than, maybe, your interpretation.”

Understatement Time: “Donald John Trump is not considered an eloquent man.” (Carl Cannon, Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics)

I expected President Trump’s “Keep America Great” as a re-election slogan.

Left Democrats continuing to push the party and candidates to the left will drive moderate voters away.

I agree with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson who (in this column) hit it on the button when stated that numerous Democratic presidential candidates would do the party and the country more good if they ran in their state’s upcoming senate election.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion tells the real story why Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man annoyed at being mistaken for employee just because he’s driving forklift through store
New study finds humans could lose vestigial heads in less than 100 years (click to see the image)
Woman thankful she has type of alien looking face that makes her hot
Nike reveals size-inclusive mannequin eating a large hoagie
Krill-eating whale too cowardly to prey on something its own size

(My Combo) Woman eating large hoagie driving forklift annoyed krill-eating cowardly man looking at hot store mannequin

Interesting Reads

Ohio women and women’s right to vote
Conversing about race
The lost NHL franchise: the Oakland Seals
Talking to anti-vaccination people
(Opinion) Most under-rated Beatles songs
(Graphic) People dying and the media
(Photos) National Geographic Photo Contest 2019 winners (notice the selection tabs & buttons)
(Video) Over 2,000 world flags in 5 minutes

To send you into the weekend, here’s a song that I can’t believe I didn’t use last week. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Biases

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Over the past few years in the USA, hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear cries and screams of “fake news” in a variety of ways. Although that phrase is primary associated to a shameful bloviator, it’s merely a substitute for another term that has been around not only my entire life of 66+ years, but long before. After all, it’s entomological roots are in the 16th century – and that word is bias.

During today’s tribalism, hyper-partisanship, and strong outward expressions of opinions, the biased person watching a biased news broadcast, reading a biased article/book, or listening to a biased radio pundit does not negate bias – but rather enhances it.

Often grounded in assumptions based on one’s culture, parents, peers, education, religion, geography, and personal experiences, biases are that filter leading one to predetermined outcomes. Biases are the neme, slant, lean, and tendency leading one to change what one observes into what they want. That is, the biased person makes the information fit for themselves. Biases unquestionably lead to misinformation and misconceptions; plus stronger biases enhance prejudice and bigotry.

Misconceptions are incorrect ideas grounded in a personal belief system serving as the foundation of incorrect knowledge. Misconceptions get in the way of learning by blocking new information. In order to justify their position, the learner will do whatever is necessary to fight against accepting the new information.

Here’s a simple example. All human blood is red, but the shade varies depending on the amount of oxygen present. Blood rich in oxygen is bright red, but blood low in oxygen is very dark red. In short, there is no blue blood.

A person believing the existence of blue blood will do whatever necessary to keep their belief. They point to the blue veins below the skin – drawings in textbooks showing showing red and blue blood vessels. They explain the skin turns blue after one dies because blood is not moving and getting oxygen. They believe in the immediacy (faster than eyes can detect) of blood changing from blue to red when bleeding from a cut vein. Years ago, an eighth grade classmate of mine even brought paper tissues (with blue food coloring) to class showing she had a nosebleed the night before. She went out of her way to argue her bias with the teacher.

Now expand this simple idea into more complex topics as evolution, vaccines, climate change – let alone complicated issues as health care, foreign policy, and the economy. The more complex the topic, a basic understanding requires more information than obtained from the first click on a single Google search. Now cloud the issue/topic with politically-driven partisan ideas that people blindly accept through a party-driven mantra.

Fighting bias challenges what one believes, so overcoming biases requires a conscious effort and can be personally humbling – even for those thinking they are unbiased. No matter how simple or complex the topic or issue, and no matter the age of the person involved, not only does everyone have misconceptions, only that person (the one holding the misconception) can remove that misconception and replace it with new information. In order to replace the misinformation, that person must either accept the new information from a person they recognize as knowledgeable or they must experience a learning event that alters their view.

Besides preventing learning and becoming knowledgeable and informed, misconceptions can humiliate a person. After all, nobody likes being wrong. Some bring it upon themselves by boasting incorrectly about a topic as if they know. After all, it’s the speed and conviction of the statement that validates the statement. Speak with confidence so others think you know.

On the other hand, misconceptions about a person can humiliate them – but in a different way because they are fightly personal misconceptions about their character, knowledge, and/or abilities. I keep thinking about a manager who told me that what others think of me is more important than who I actually am.

I’ve stated this before and here it comes again – The news media is biased by its very nature.

1) Media people are human, therefore have a filter (whether personal, corporate, or both).

2) Secondly, reports reduce the news event to an abstract. For instance, the media may reduce a one-hour speech into a 90-second report. This condensation is a natural bias; plus, generalizations are naturally less accurate and are not the complete story. Generalizations lead one away from the truth and generalizing generalizations can lead to falsehoods – therefore, misconceptions.

3) Thirdly, the selection of the soundbyte is an natural bias, as are the follow-up questions – but the media must do these actions. That’s part of reporting.

The listener’s bias also plays into the situation. Whether informed or not, the one holding deep convictions about a topic is not only biased against those with an opposing view, they are also vulnerable to getting sucked into generalizations based on misinformation and overgeneralizations that lacks details.

However, if the listener does not agree with the selected edits, abstract report, or the question asked does not mean the reporter or news organization was blatantly biased to favor a point of view – but it could.

On the listener’s side is the fact that if they work traditional morning-afternoon hours, they have limited opportunity to view national evening news by a major network. After that point in time, the 24/7 news channels offer shows featuring and promoting a particular point of view – for instance, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, and others. However, television isn’t the only news source.

Technology has made more information is available to everyone than ever before. Unfortunately, that also means more misinformation is available today more than any other time in history.

Social media complicates and exacerbates personal bias by increasing misinformation, justifying false claims/conclusion, and promoting conspiracy theories. Social media, biased reporting, and talk show echo chambers disengage citizens from the truth while promoting a political agenda.

There is no question that bias plays an important role in the news – and there is plenty of blame to go around. People also carry their share of the blame – actually, in my opinion, people may be the greater problem. People must take responsibility for themselves to challenge and verify the information they receive. However, instead of being proactive citizens, too many people favor reinforcing their bias over being accurately informed.

Valuing factual information is an important aspect of being human – as is the ability to learn – as is the ability to communicate. Too bad there isn’t an anti-bias vaccine. Then again, self-imposed biases would prevent someone from taking that vaccine.

 

PS: This classic scene fits.