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. 326

It’s been an interesting week for me as I’ve been in bachelorhood as my wife is one her annual cruise with her lady friends. The answer is simple when people ask me what I will do – “I will do whatever I want, whenever I want.”

I spent a lot of time our on the ballroom circuit. It’s been a good time dancing with friends … and it is a good chance to work on leading. For those getting the wrong impression, I’ve been in a crowd where at least a third of the people know me … and would be the worst place to do something stupid.

One afternoon I went to downtown Cincinnati searching for murals that I haven’t posted here.

Here’s an entertaining musical interlude. Very creative, but does this guy have too much time on his hands?

A big wow to the recent news about NASA discovering a new set of earth-sized planets with the potential of having liquid water. Here’s the news release from NASA, and the first video is worth the two minutes.

It seems salted black licorice is common in northern Europe. I found it in a store here. Interesting combination of flavors. Have you ever had salted black licorice?

My wife returns soon … and the house will be clean … including the bathrooms.

Our handbell choir is playing an interesting piece soon at our Ash Wednesday service. To me, it’s a fitting sound for the start of Lent. For those who want to listen, look for the Listen button near the sheet music image. Click here.

There will be a light post ready for your Saturday morning.

President Donald Trump continual attacks on the press continues to be a sign that he is afraid of the truth.

Question: Why does President Trump spend so much time watching Fake News?

I hate to inform people, but like him or not, Donald Trump was dutifully elected and is our president.

A local congressman had an editorial for proposing dismantling the U.S. Dept. of Education. I say why stop there – re-organize the whole damn government structure!

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Fake news
Certain media outlets being the enemy of the people
Hostile town hall meetings
Fig tree issues in Italy
My wife going on a cruise causing me to celebrate my birthday on my own

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Humiliated Man Discovers Embroidery On His Jean Pockets
Open-Minded Man Tries To Get News From Variety Of Facebook Friends
Man Thinking About Just Packing Up And Making Exact Same Mistakes Someplace Far Away
Goose finally realizes it doesn’t have to honk like an idiot entire time it’s flapping its wings
30-million-year-old species worried it doesn’t have another evolution in it

Interesting Reads
Women and governance in India
Why sleeping bats don’t fall
Thoughts about laundry chutes
Evolution of technology
(Photo Gallery) Australian farmland

Many seemed to enjoy the Traveling Wilburys last week, so here’s another one from them 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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 322

Many readers have enjoyed the previous two Al Stewart songs I’ve featured in previous OITS. Here’s one more, but this time as background music because the video is just the music (no performance). For those that chose, click here to enjoy Song on the Radio.

As I work morning news back into my routine, I recently developed a preference for CBS This Morning with Norah O’Donnell, Charlie Rose, and Gayle King. They have more substance and less fluff than their NBC and ABC counterparts, plus more calming than CNN.

We recently saw two movies to recommend, so THUMBS UP to The Founder and Hidden Figures.

If the movie is accurate, McDonald’s Ray Kroc was both a visionary and an asshole who sorely lacked business acumen – but smart enough to surround himself with the right people. Props to actor Michael Keaton for his role as Mr. Kroc.

A toast to Mary Tyler Moore for what she gave us through her life.

January has been a different month for me, so I will explain very soon.

Last week I reminisced about moving. After all, several years ago we moved from our home of 27 years – a home we built, maintained, and improved. Packing and moving is quite the chore, but in the end, there is a sense of sadness when we depart for the last time. The Obamas occupied the White House a much shorter time (8 years), but on a much grander stage. I appreciated this article from Politico about their final moments.

I continue to worry about the potential lack of Congressional oversight, so this article from Politico was timely.

Democrats can thank their former Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for removing the 60-vote barrier. Just another reason for me not liking the man.

I met my goal of not watching the inauguration, but did see enough reports to be informed.

On his first full day, the way the new administration and their talking heads has treated the importance of something as irrelevant as the inauguration crowd size is both bizarre and telling. All they had to say was something like this: “While we acknowledge the in-person attendance was down from previous years, when also considering television and online viewing throughout the world, all indications point to this inaugural being the most-watched in history.” Oh no, instead they chose to make combative asses of themselves.

I have suggestions for the new administration who feels unloved by the media’s negative reporting.

  • Try a positive tone, not a negative, combative one.
  • Try truthfulness, not head-scratching absurdities.
  • Try portraying a positive image with a vision, not one focusing on doom and gloom.
  • Try respecting people, not humiliating them.
  • Try not making unsubstantiated facts on something meaningless.
  • Learn the difference between right vs. wrong and agree vs. disagree.

PS: Protectionism and isolationism doesn’t work.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist I appreciate. A closing of a recent column echoed the my feelings that I’ve stated here. “Donald Trump is our president. He deserves a chance to prove us doubters wrong; to create a government that he think will bring jobs and money back to the U.S.; to enhance educational opportunities for the less-privileged; to enhance our military defense without yearning to test it; to reform the tax and regulatory codes with deference to economic realities. Pray. Pray that our country survives these next few years and that the new president is both wiser and less impetuous that he seems. It’s the least and best we can do – for now.”

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Spreading of Fake News
The Packers and Steelers not making the Super Bowl
La La Land receiving a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations
California’s rain and snow
John Howell in final preparation of another book release

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides the pros and cons for early retirement.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Anger-bottling factory explodes
Compassionate fisherman doesn’t have heart to throw trout back into polluted lake
Cockroaches feeling optimistic about future of planet
Shrimp would be pissed if he could see the lame party he’s going to be served t
Car rolls up to stoplight blasting Google Maps directions
Spider sitting on shower wall can’t wait to see look on man’s face

Interesting Reads
An inspirational must-read story about a young girl
How to be wiser
Aging and urban divergence
The Oddies Museum
The geographic pivot
(An interactive) How much do you know about what police think

For those who prefer the song at the end of this post or those who want more Al Stewart, here’s On the Border to send you into the weekend. Enjoy the final days of January 2017 and get ready to bring on February. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Inauguration 2017

Because Inauguration Day of a new president coincides with my normal posting of Opinions in the Shorts, I decided to forego my normal OITS for a posting that is fitting for the day.

In a short moment of time, Barack Obama goes from the one with the title to a former occupant of the Oval Office. My view of President Obama is different from the many who follow partisan lines. At this moment I want to thank him for his service. Thank him for the way he handled himself in representing our nation. Thank him for the way he carried the extra burden of being the first non-white to serve in the most powerful office in the land. Thank him for taking us from where we were in January 20, 2009 to today. (A good read in USA Today.)

Inauguration Day marks the peaceful transition from one president to the next. A transition that is different than most of the world. A transition that is also an American tradition. A transition that is a light by the American version of democracy.

I enjoyed this 4-minute interesting perspective of past inaugurals done by Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan for CBS News.

Presidents need a strong sense of humility – that is something Mr. Trump has yet to show on the campaign trail or in the time since Election Day.

Presidents describe in various ways in their inaugural speech their desire to be a president for all Americans. That trait alone require respect, something Mr. Trump continues to ignore.

Presidents need to be responsible for their actions and decisions. Of course politicians tend to step around problems – blame elsewhere. After all, finger-pointing is much easier. Mr. Trump has failed on many occasions to take responsibility for his own actions and words – thus continually favoring the low road of blame through insults.

Presidents respect the traditions of the land and the office. Mr. Trump regularly favors his way while damning those who think otherwise. Meanwhile the majority of the elected partisan minions we call Senators and Representatives are quiet as they revel in the glory of total control. Time will tell if they continue doing the same.

Presidents respect the nation’s laws and Constitutional requirements. Again, Mr. Trump favors his way of doing things. He says he can separate his business and the presidency. He actually believes he could successfully run both simultaneously. Conflicts of interest could very well be on the horizon, but time will tell.

Maybe if he changes his tone, practices humility, becomes respectful, and operates within the given framework, he may have successes – successes for the country. Besides, Washington is ripe for change – but his previous behaviors indicate this would be a tall order to fulfill.

Being a brilliant orator is not a presidential requirement, but those that were can frame a message by their tone. Mr. Trump is anything but a brilliant orator as he struggles delivering prepared statements – so I certainly don’t expect anything memorable for me. Perhaps he may surprise us with a start that includes a series of apologies to set a tone. Given his personality, the chances of that would be between slim and none.

Although I wish Mr. Trump success on this day, I won’t be watching the pomp and circumstances or listening to his first speech. I’m not boycotting as I simply have something else to do – something that I would rather do.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 298

Image from 123vectors.com

Image from 123vectors.com

Greetings! Good to see you again. My blog break went well, but not as planned because I didn’t write much. However, I helped my wife ease into retirement mode.

A national handbell organization had a regional convention about an hour away, so the choir went. Two days of a lot of standing on a concrete floor means tired legs. Our choir had an individual coaching session. We didn’t play our piece well with foreign bells, but we got something out of the session. Meanwhile, we attended a concert where we heard this piece by the Purdue Bells, which is a wonderful way to usher in a new header.

Because of my fascination with images of deep space, this image of the Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant is from the Hubble Heritage Collection at the Hubble Gallery. To see my collection of past headers, click the Past Headers page/tab above the header.

I considered resuming Colors: The Musical immediately upon my return, but common sense prevailed because I value my guests. I’ll announce more here next week, but for those who need to know, see the Hear Ye page.

I seldom reblog my own or anyone else post, but I’m considering doing that with old posts – well, assuming I find something appropriate.

The death of pop music star Prince shocked us. Here’s an article about a secret concert he played in Cincinnati in 1984.

Competitors completed the Boston Marathon this past Monday. Although the news focused on the dominant presence of Ethiopians in the top places, the women’s wheelchair division caught my attention. For the fourth consecutive year, Tatyana McFadden – a Russian-born American won the division. Born with spina bifida, Tatyana spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage without receiving physical therapy and without a wheelchair. Now that’s an amazing courage and determination!

Baseball season is underway and I have the following goals for my Cincinnati Reds:

  1. Win more games than the ‘62 Mets (40)
  2. Not finishing with the worst record in baseball
  3. Have at a team below them in the standings
  4. Finish closer to the team above them in the standing than below them
  5. Beyond this list would be a tremendous success

Because I’m easing my way back into my normal rhythm, no Explore post this weekend.

My wife received this pillow as a retirement gift – and I find it interesting.

PillowAdventure

Columnist David Ignatius wrote this interesting column about the Saudis.

At this point, I can listen to a news conference by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) – which is an improved from predecessors John Boehner (R-OH) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Republican senators meeting with the Supreme Court nominee while continuing to block the confirmation process infuriates me even more than the block.

The 2016 primary has been quite bizarre, and to me, the title of this Ruth Marcus column is quite profound – An unpopularity content for the ages.

I find it interesting that the #2 contender in each party have this quality in common: an inability to work across the aisle. According to the Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index at Georgetown University, not only do Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have the lowest scores in 2015, each of them are in the bottom 11 of all senators since 1993. Here’s a good question for them: Have do you plan to get Congress to act on your ideas when you have a poor history of working within Congress?

Consider this possibility – Donald Trump (R-NY) and Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) walk out of the Republican convention together to embrace a third-party run.

To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips for having your own vegetable garden.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Sixth beer steps in to speak for area man
Universe feels zero connection with guy tripping out on mushrooms
Breeze plays kick-ass riff on wind chimes
Pope Francis worried about job security after butting heads with new God
New study finds humans experience greatest joy when pushing “Skip Ad” button

Interesting Reads
Life-long learning and technology
A century of flight
Animal neat freaks
Augustine of Hippo
(Animation) Battle of Shiloh
(Video) Explaining burning ping-pong balls

To send you into this weekend, here’s a throwback in time with a touch of Bobby Darin and a dose of Prince. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.