Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 335

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Hard to believe, but the previous edition of OITS was on July 14th! I’m overdue!!!!

Fiona, Cincinnati’s favorite baby hippo, continues to do well. Besides being a media darling, Graeter’s (one of the best ice creams on the planet) made a limited-edition flavor in her (Fiona’s) honor: Chunky Chunky Hippo – a toffee ice cream base containing salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. YUM! Meanwhile, click here to see the Fiona updates from the zoo with some great pictures. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

This summer was a tough golf season for me because I could establish any consistency – especially in the weekly golf league. Then again, how my opponent plays also influences the outcome. Somehow I qualified for the final 4. I didn’t play well in the semi-finals, but my opponent couldn’t close the deal – so I hung around to win on the last hole. Off to the finals I went where I cruised to victory!

September always brings a change in my routine. Volunteering and handbells get started and working into my schedule of ballroom dance, working part-time at the golf course, ushering at plays, and whatever else comes our way. One handbell piece we are working on may be the hardest yet for us – so it will be interesting to see we (the choir) can get it ready to perform.

There are many things to get riled up about in the world, and statues of Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War is not one of them for me.

Thumbs up to two totally different movies: Dunkirk and The Big Sick. Our first play of the season was a theater version of Shakespeare in Love. (Remember the movie?) … another thumbs up.

For those who enjoyed this post about doors earlier this week, do you remember similar posts involving many pictures of Italy?

Instead of displaying the Pause button, I probably won’t be posting for a week … but I did state probably.

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Put me in the group that doesn’t get my shorts in a knot over what First Lady Melania Trump is wearing.

Some partisans have described Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with the Russians as treason. In true partisan fashion, many of the partisan ears latch onto the word. Is collusion a better description? Maybe – we don’t know enough yet. Is stupid a suitable descriptor? Unquestionably! .. but treason? Nope. See Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

I’m all for the Russian Investigation around the Trump administration and campaign. Where I differ from many is that I want one thorough investigation – and then so be it. Therefore not a continual investigation because one didn’t find what they wanted (as the Republicans did with 7(?) investigations with Benghazi).

I love this line from a recent Kathleen Parker column: “…. the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.”

As I continue to hear Hillary Clinton say various excuses for losing the election, she continues to focus on blaming others. It seems running a lousy campaign, failing to focus on the issues, and trying to be who she isn’t (just like McCain & Romney did in playing to the base) … all recipes for failure.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a short explanation how the brain responds to advertising.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hellmann’s introduces new meat-on-the-bottom mayo cups
Mosquito confronts partner after testing positive for Zika
God falling under influence of powerful spiritual guru
Millions of policy proposals spill into the sea as think tank runs around
Aroma of cleaning product closest thing man’s had to fruit in weeks

Interesting Reads
Creationism and culture wars
Facts & information: How people deal with them
Churchill and Dunkirk
Religion’s reaction to alien contact
Art by a gay Chinese farmer
Blogger Debra’s visit to the city along the Adriatic of my birth
(Photos) Train graveyard

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a song from years ago that many will enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 316

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Last weekend we saw a good movie thriller – The Accountant. Thumbs up!

The season finale for Dancing with the Stars is next week. No question, gymnast Laurie Hernandez and racer James Hinchcliffe are the best dancers of the finalists … but anything can happen.

My heart sank when I heard the news about Leonard Cohen, especially for so many Canadians who loved him.

The months of November and December are typically demanding months for handbell choirs, and our choir is no exception. This piece delivers a lot of energy, so enjoy Toccata on King’s Weston arranged by the young man directing this choir. Note: I like watching the four players on the front row closest to the camera.

I’m looking forward to the Kennedy Center Honors telecast in late December. The 2016 honorees are Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, musical group the Eagles, actor Al Pacino, singer Mavis Staples, and musician James Taylor

Headlines from a story in China (not The Onion): Baby monkey befriends a herd of goats (The story)

Here’s a short, humorous read describing capitalism from different global viewpoints. This is definitely amusing.

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Slogans as “change” or “drain the swamp” are shallow. After all, not only do the slogans continue to happen, so does this – victors bring in experience people to bring on a different version of the status quo.

Republicans declaring the election results as “a mandate” bothers me. After all, not only did Mr. Trump not receive more than 50% of the votes, he didn’t receive the most votes. Then again, a mandate-approach is equivalent to providing enough rope.

Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to abolish the Electoral College. A question: Were the candidates trying to get the most electoral votes or the total national vote? Sen. Boxer, thank you for your years of service, but it’s time to quietly move into retirement.

Dr. Ben Carson has declined a cabinet position because (to quote his spokesperson) “he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.” Yikes! … This guy ran for the Republican presidential nomination !

Confusion? Donald Trump has the job as President-Elect and Billy Bush doesn’t have a job.

In the name of full disclosure, I searched for and found a quote in preparation for Donald Trump and his supporters challenging the election results. For whatever reason, I didn’t delete it – and it turned out to be very applicable to many Clinton supporters. It seems many seem to prefer finger-pointing over reflection. Besides the violence from the fringe, others have blamed the election results on the FBI Director, the media, the Founding Fathers for the Electoral College process, the uneducated, the lack of voter turnout by Hispanics and African-Americans, and more … while conveniently forgetting that it’s Obama’s fault. 😉 On to the applicable quote.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends. (Al Gore, 2000)

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Low gasoline prices
The Cincinnati Bengals lousy record during prime-time games
Latest earthquake in New Zealand
Differences between Chicago and New York pizza
Difficulty finding Spumoni ice cream

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists lessons America can learn from the recent election.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Holding trophy above head still number 1 celebration technique
Matt Damon appears fully nude for first time in local man’s imagination
Incoming class of Subway trainees spend week practicing on sandwich cadavers
Accidentally closing browser with 23 tabs open presents rare chance at new life
Empty inner tube ominously exits mouth of lazy river
Mom learns about new vegetable

Interesting Reads
The brain and bad decisions
Black female figures of western art
Dangerous times for the world’s coconuts
50 years ago: McCarty’s fake death
(Photos) Australia’s wild wild west

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Wondering

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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.

On the Aftermath

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It’s over … finally …. the longest campaign season in history is finally over! Below is a collection of immediate thoughts.

I never thought Donald Trump would get the nomination, let alone win … but he did. I not only accept the results, I accept the fact that I missed it on both counts.

Although I’m surprised he won, I’m not surprised she lost.

Yesterday I told a friend that if we knew before 10 pm, it would be an easy victory for Mrs. Clinton … but the longer it went into the night, advantage Mr. Trump … and about 9 pm I knew she was in trouble.

Her not speaking to supporters with a concession speech bothers me … and for some reason, I’m not surprised.

I took heat from a few partisans for my hope of divided government. Because they preferred all or nothing, a side of me is now smiling.

The Republican-led Senate proclaimed the Biden Rule regarding the Supreme Court vacancy, but now I don’t expect them to follow it.

The results do make me wonder about many things. I will continue to ponder, and time will tell what happens. After all, over-reaction is seldom a good idea.

Because the election is rigged, will he immediately step down? … Hey … someone had to ask! 🙂

I’ve always believed that the USA and its framework is stronger than any one person.

I’ve said on many occasions that if the president is successful, then the country is successful. Although I didn’t vote for him and casted a vote much more against him (than for her), I wish him well with hopes he governs toward the center. Although I expect to disagree with some (maybe even many) of his decisions and many (if not most) actions by the Republican Congress, it’s time to move on.

I’m extremely thankful for the end of the political ads! … and besides (as I can’t resist) all this is Obama’s fault. 😉

On an Election Day Primer

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Tuesday is Election Day … and day that many of us have been anticipating for a long time. In my opinion, our process is too long and too expensive. That aside, it remains an important day. I encourage all to vote with their head.

To many people – a mixture of independents and partisans – this election has been a national embarrassment. One of my fears is that this may become the new normal. Even though embarrassing, I encourage people to vote, and not leaving their ballot blank. If that means holding your nose in the voting booth, just do it.

This election has been so goofy, so undignified, so disrespectful, …. there is only one way (for me) to post a primer leading into Election Day … and that’s with The Onion! Enjoy!!!! … Combos are welcomed! … Any favorites?

The Onion looks back with this timeline about the election …. and a few headlines for a laugh. After all, many of us can use one.

Nation’s still-undecided voters: “Help! We can’t get our car seatbelts off.”

Trump makes last-minute push to appeal to whites

Michelle Obama tosses a bunch of Barack’s old number 44 jerseys

Undecided voter waiting until he hears the same responses for the seventh time before making a decision

Trump raises concern over members of urban communities voting more than zero times

Anthony Weiner sends apology sext to entire Clinton campaign

Intergalactic law enforcement places energy shackles on Hillary Clinton

Trump complains entire personality is against him

New heavy-duty voting machine allows Americans to take out frustrations on it before casting vote

Teary-eyed Tim Kaine asks Clinton if his hair will grow back before Election Day

Mike Pence visits small town hit hard by kids seeing R-rated movies

Nation puts 2016 election in perspective by reminding itself some species of sea turtles get eaten by birds just seconds after they hatch

Trump hold strategy meeting with campaign’s top militia leaders ahead of the election

Clinton delivers stump speech in Moscow warehouse in effort to appeal to Russian hackers

Election Day is the only time most Americans in same room with person support other candidate

Anthropologists discover isolated tribe of joyful Americans in remote village untroubled by 2016 election.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 314

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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.
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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.

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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

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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

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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.