Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 380

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For those that missed Tuesday’s special announcement, Pronouns: The Musical this weekend with an Encore act featuring songs with two or more different pronouns used in this musical (or click here). See the SPECIAL page/tab (below the banner/header) for more information. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

For the story writers in the crowd, hope you saw the Writing Challenge I issued earlier this week. See the Challenge page/tab (below the banner/header) for details (or click here). Responding to the challenge starts this coming Tuesday after I post my version. If you aren’t a short story person, pass along the challenges to others you know who may be interested.

A few days ago we saw First Man, the movie about astronaut Neil Armstrong. Interesting and well done, but I wouldn’t call it a must-see blockbuster. It’s not fast-moving, but has its tense moments. There’s a notice amount of silence throughout the movie. For most of his post-astronaut adult life, Mr. Armstrong lived in the Cincinnati area. From what I know of Armstrong’s personality, Ryan Gosling hit it!

I’m drafting a future post about shopping carts – which caused me to develop a new category – Shopping. Would you know it, I already have a few past posts that fit that new category. Feel free to visit the category in the future or by clicking here.

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President Trump says he could fire the entire Mueller investigation team to end the investigation. Mr. President, do what you mean and mean what you say. The time is now – enough talk – do it! Do what you say you can do. Do what you really want to do! Do it!!!

Although the anticipated Blue Wave didn’t not occur, Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives. I give House Democrats a 95% chance to do something in one month (by the end of January 2019) that strengthens President Trump re-election – which I raise the chances of happening to 80%.

Gerrymandering is not new. Not only has it been around for a long time, both parties are guilty – even in recent times!

Important “-isms” are in the news: Anti-semitism, racism, Nazism, and others – let alone include other related terms as Islamophobia and homophobia. I want to toss in another one that would impact more than any of the above – partyism. After all, there is plenty of data showing pathetic candidates from each side getting sizeable number of votes.

Eight states still have straight ticket voting – the method allowing voters to cast votes for candidates in one party by making only one mark. Good news is that the number of states doing this pathetic practice is declining.

As an authentic independent who sneers at each party, I enjoyed this article about Congress by the Washington Post.

Last week I wrote these words, “Whereas the focus continues to be the last 14 words of the Second Amendment, I continue to say the key to the debate is the first 13 words. After all, those are the words not on the lobby wall at NRA headquarters.” This week brought us news of another mass shooting.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion discovered the latest “I Voted” stickers from Nevada. Are you willing to look here?

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man does incredibly well at slot machine demo embedded in ad
Girlfriend really has mind of her own today
Supposedly educated professor has no idea how to get bird out of lecture hall
Area man thankful to be single during Golden Age of Television
Slug just taking it easy today
Voter just needs to know which candidate chops wood in a flannel shirt
North Carolina voter in heavily gerrymandered district somehow voting for Montana Senate, Mayor Of Phoenix

Interesting Reads

Eastern and Western European differences
A large, unused airport
Analytics and health care
Butch Cassidy
The re-shaped Milky Way
(Photos) From the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest
(Photos) Beautifully designed spas

To send you into the weekend, here’s that I heard for the first time earlier this week. Enjoy Alex Murdoch with All My Days. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 378

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Pronouns: The Musical is continue its trek this weekend featuring songs with Them in the title. Hint: This is not an easy theme. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Last weekend we attended a play that was a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It was interesting and well done – plus the set was fabulous. Here’s the link with pictures.

Although our National Parks Tour was 15 nights, I’ve shorten the travel series to 5-6 posts. Next one is this Sunday night.

Regarding the two huge lotteries this week – well – not only did we not win – we were shutout – no numbers on any of the 6 tickets/lines.

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Election Day for the midterms is approaching – but not soon enough because I’m tired of all the campaign ads: especially those of the 2 races buying the most time.

Party partisans continue to ignore messages from the independent middle. For instance,

  1. Long ago I suggested that leader of Democrats in the House (Nancy Pelosi: D-CA) should step aside ahead of the election. With an approval rating that is much lower President Trump’s, Republicans continue to use her in negative ads.
  2. Shortly after Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination I suggested that Democrats NOT pursue blocking his nomination. Now that he’s on the Court, multiple polls show the Democratic actions have worked against them, thus improved the stature of Republicans in the public.

Regarding the recent mailing of bombs, the perpetrator has not been found. As the partisans take to the airways to point fingers at the other side, here are two important questions of initial focus: Who? Why? The second can’t be answered until determining the first. However, President Trump had a great opportunity to set a tone with his comments that night – and he obviously chose to take a different path – the usual low road.

I heard an interview when a person explain that it took Donald Trump to bring out the differences in Washington. ABSOLUTELY NOT! The difference have been steadily growing for the past 50 years, but Donald Trump has amplified the differences.

Updating the ever-changing odds:

  • Chance of Democrats gaining control in the House: 80%
  • Chance of Democrats gaining control in the Senate: 10%
  • Chance of Donald Trump being nominated by Republicans in 2020: 99.9%
  • Chance of Donald Trump winning re-election: 70%
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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion has a great picture about climate-change advocate Al Gore.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Thrill seeker microwaves pot pie without slitting crust
Mom hates bad guy in movie
Horrified nurses discover 40-pound baby after accidentally leaving it in incubator over weekend
Magpie worried mate only interested in him for collection of shiny objects
Study finds over 5 million birds die annually from head-on collisions with clouds
104-year-old reveals secret to long life being cursed by witch to wander Earth eternally

Interesting Reads

People over 65: Facts vs. opinions
A read about Claude Debussy
Africa and web conductivity
The European schism
(Pictures) Freak hailstorm in Rome
(Graphic) Most valuable global retail brands
(Video) A lady making arms

To send you into the weekend, here’s a throwback to Bruce Hornsby and the Range. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 375

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Pronouns: The Musical is continue its trek this weekend featuring songs with We in the title. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Even though I was out-of-town at a family event during the last act, cheers to all for demonstrating the show must go on. Special thanks to Dale for hosting!

Attendance for the musical has surprised me! Thanks to all participants!!!

Beach Walks resume this weekend (Sunday, after 9 pm Eastern US).

College football started last weekend and the NFL starts this weekend. I enjoy football, but my interest level has declined in recent years.

This week was the final week of the regular season of golf league. I entered the week will a good chance of making the playoffs to defend my championship. I played well, but my opponent had his best round in 20 years. I played good enough, and because there is no defense in golf, all I could do is congratulate him on his great round.

On Thursday, Cincinnati made the national news for the wrong reason – an unnecessary random shooting. Just more evidence that one never knows the whereabouts of someone unhinged. Unfortunately, it can happen anywhere.

Next week we hope to visit the Chocolate exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

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I believe Bob Woodward’s latest book (Fear) about the Trump Administration will NOT alter public perception.

The New York Times publishing an anonymous op-ed in their Opinions section is both intriguing and strange. I enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel’s thoughts, especially his speculation about the writer’s identify. For that, click here – and for what I described, start at 2:30. It’s worth the look.

Speculation continues about Joe Biden’s possible 2020 candidacy. I could vote for him – but I’m also afraid he could follow John McCain’s footsteps in losing my vote with his running mate selection.

I had to laugh at this statement by former President Obama about John McCain. “After all, what better way to get a last laugh to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience.”

This article from Pew Research says it all: Democrats and Republicans agree that they can’t agree on the basic facts.

Newspapers are struggling. Pittsburgh may be the largest city in the US without a daily newspaper. More and more people are selecting a news source that delivers news they want to hear. Outside money continues to flood into local elections. I question if this famous quote is still valid: “All politics is local.” (Tip O’Neill)

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a guide to Twitch: a top site for live-streaming video games.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Button-up shirt goes on life-changing odyssey around dry cleaner’s garment conveyor
Societal collapse narrowly averted after man honks horn at car paused at green light
Nation baffled by childless woman who doesn’t even have high-powered career
Trail of ants better be leading toward something delicious
Free toothpick transforms schlubby restaurant-goer into aloof bad boy
Evolution definitively proven as scientists capture first-ever footage of chimpanzee transforming into human (Click here for the image)

Interesting Reads

10 rivalries that shaped world history
Venezuela, crisis, and families
Feminist icon in 17th Century India
The tennis grunt
Clipper ships and world trade
Linking mouse poop and traveling to Mars
(Photos) Celebrating British diversity

Even though Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, I’m continuing the summer theme to send you into the weekend. Enjoy this classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 365

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Thanks to the hearty who stayed with me through the Christian America series this week. To develop the series, I researched information on both sides of the topic, so it was interesting to read the differing viewpoints – but to also discover the illogical, quantum leaps people make.

I’m looking into dual citizenship. Definitely interesting … and having a conversation with someone at the designated US consulate is not easy!

Check the box. We visited the Chinese Terracotta Army exhibit. Not only did we enjoy the exhibit, it is obvious to me that the First Emperor and the Chinese leaders at the time feared Obama.

This video of creative street art will make you smile.

I started an exercise program while at the Alabama coast this past January. In mid-March, I used my Silver Sneakers option in my medical insurance, so I’ve been exercising three days a week since then.

Is this strange? Take Your Kids to Work Day is during the school year (so the kids miss school) while Take Your Dog to Work Day is during the summer when the kids are home.

A tip of the cap to veteran columnist Charles Krauthammer who recently passed away. While one may disagree with his opinion, nobody can deny his brilliance, his skills as a writer, and his commitment to conservatism. I enjoyed the columns written about him as a person. Although I limited my reading of his column, I appreciate his description of the current president as “a rodeo clown”.

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The crisis along the southern US border is sad and complex. However, it’s a refugee issue – not immigration as many play it to be. I also appreciated these two articles from NPR: One and Two.

Congratulations to President Trump for successfully transforming Congress for ineffective to incompetent.

Recent tax cuts improved the bottom line for many businesses. Because tariffs work against many businesses, I want about the net effect. Meanwhile, in order to avid new tariffs, US-based Harley-Davidson is moving some operations to Europe to avoid EU tariffs. Damn Obama.

Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) made a solution statement about abolishing ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) – and I see the statement in the same light as some Republicans saying they want to abolish the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

A huge thumbs down to the recent comment about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) regarding encouraging harassment of Trump supporters and administration workers. Thumbs down to the restaurant owner who asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave the restaurant.

To the Trump apologists believing that the media is too hard on President Trump, my response is simple – He brings it upon himself.

I appreciated this statement from Trevor Noah: “The two-party system in one of the most disruptive forces currently in America.”

Tidbits on Future Elections

  • At this point in time, I see good odds for Democrats gaining control of the House this fall, but doing so in the Senate is a steeper climb.
  • I wince at the thought of the Dems 2020 presidential nomination; therefore I raising President Trump’s chances of winning re-election to 51%.
  • Here are the early odds for getting my 2020 vote: President Trump – 0%; Democratic nominee – 20%; Libertarian nominee – 15%; Independent candidate: 30%; leaving the ballot blank – 35%.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for staying civil when debating child prisons.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Cops bust filthy, unshaven Mark Zuckerberg for selling personal data on street corner
Funeral attendees getting misty-eyed during first dance with corpse
Everyone in Pride Parade straight
Blood-covered finger confirms nose, in fact, bleeding
Saudi Arabia officially lifts ban on female Monster Truck rallies
Steel drum knows it has so much more to offer than tropical vibes

Interesting Reads
The psychology of money
The 1912 GOP Convention

The next global jihadi stage – but where?
The neuroscience of pain
The Sinai Trail
The satisfaction of biscotti
(Pictures) Life under apartheid

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this grand voice from the past for this summer song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 362

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Many thanks for the kind words about my writing in the latest beach walk (#24). I plan another beach walk to go up Sunday night (Eastern US).

The last handbell choir rehearsal of the season was earlier this week. After playing for a service this weekend, we break until August.

Our last ushering assignment of the season at the Playhouse was also this week. Murder For Two is a unique, enjoyable who-dunnit play with two actors: one playing the detective and the other all the suspects. Definitely not serious, it is very musical and a bit of Vaudeville. The actors were great, but it simply wasn’t my style.

As technology changes, devices also change or even replaced. The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an online place attempting to store replaced sounds. It’s a fun place to visit, so I’ll put the link in the Interesting Reads list.

My Cincinnati Reds were the first baseball team to lose 20 games this season. I wonder which will happen first: The last team to lose 20 or the Reds to win 20. The race is on!

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To reinforce a statement I made last week about Trump-Clinton-Obama, keep in mind that President Trump needs a villain in his messaging – a boogie man. As long as they continue to fill that role, he will continue to campaign against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Ohio had a primary election earlier this week. It’s sad that so few voters turn out for non-presidential year elections … and Ohio had primary races for governor and senator!

2016 was a presidential election year. In my county, 56,372 people voted in the primary – but 100,859 voted in the November general election. Meanwhile, 25,100 voted in this week’s primary.

My county is so Republican that Bozo the Clown could win an election if he was designed Republican on the ballot. However, I found this interesting: of the 139,110 registered voters, 8.3% are Democrats, 33.72% Republican, and 57.93% are Nonpartisan. On the other hand, in this county, are number of registered Nonpartisans must vote Republican – which also means that are NINOs – Nonpartisan in Name Only.

FYI: Individual states determine voter registration rolls. For primaries, Ohioans register as Democratic, Republican, Green, or Nonpartisan on Election Day. Nonpartisans can’t participate in party primaries, therefore receive ballots with containing on Issues for voting. (My ballot only had two issues on it, and no people.)

Advice for Democrats – Before the fall election, Leader Pelosi (D-CA) should announce that if the Dems gain control of the House in 2018, she will not seek or accept the Speaker’s chair.

Cheers to Saturday Night Live for last week’s outstanding skit that included many of the characters in President Trump’s news circle. For those that missed it, click here.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for treating bed bug infestation.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Amazon fires warehouse worker who took unauthorized breath
Construction crew arguing over who gets to use the fun tools
Kroger recalls 35,000 pounds of ground beef that may contain CEO
50,000 chicken breasts recalled after leaving factory without getting a little kiss goodbye
One-adventurous salmon can’t believe she ended up moving back to birthplace, having a bunch of kids

Interesting Reads
A perspective about infrastructure
Bulls, DNA, and beef
Baghdad: the new Partytown
Picasso, creativity, and genius
Why analog still exists despite digital
(Interactive) Museum of Endangered Sounds
(Photos) Awesome images of a stormy sky

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic by Cat Stevens. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Common Good

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Common good is at the center of any and all relationships involving two or more people. Although organizations embrace common good when developing a mission statement, putting it into action is easier said than done.

As a concept, common good may be easy to define as the benefit of society as a whole, but developing a meaning in today’s complex society would be difficult. After all, common good engages philosophy, morality, economics, culture, politics, religion, and more while having different meanings to different people and different groups. Even the Preamble to the US Constitution states, “… promote the general Welfare and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Is this statement same as common good?

Democracy depends on governance for the common good, but what that entails today may be a complex story in itself. Personally, I don’t have much confidence in elected officials being able to agree on a definition, let alone other aspects that would follow. However, common good is a concept that is so foundational, failure to agree is like trying to construct a building without a strong foundation.

To engage and implement common good, people must agree on the common facts. Even with agreement, disagreement on how to get to the common good is understandable – actually very likely because the different ways exist on achieving the common good. In the US, although Democrats and Republicans may agree on a common good, they may have fundamental differences on how to get there – and that’s fine.

However, declaring and accepting fake news fundamentally prevents agreement on the common facts – so doing for the common good would not only be highly improbable – but probably impossible.

If democracy is about the common good, then democracy must have reasonably well-informed citizens. Unfortunately, society includes those to whom truth is the enemy – the fools and liars who are misinformed and underinformed – let alone those who use a partisan lens to selectively filter the facts.

Life today is about information and fast access to it. The problem isn’t information’s availability or the mainstream media – not even the biased nature of well-known media personalities and outlets who feed red meat to their hungry flock.

A problem is the biased nature of a large slice of the public that selectively determines their preferred news source based on one that provides a message to hear – a message aligning with their predetermined view of the world.

A problem is when listeners determine immediate judgment on a legitimate news report because they have to protect their personal interests.

A problem is that given a fast and open information system, good journalism can give way to favoring expediency over accuracy.

A problem is that too many accept reports from obscure outlets as reliable because the story supports the preferred narrative the person desires.

A problem is that the truth is no longer a high priority.

All of these problems come together to prevent people from agreeing on the common facts – therefore no hope for acting for the common good. Perhaps that’s the greatest dangers to democracy.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 341

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Last week we attended live theater 3 nights in a row: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, An Evening with Groucho, and Cabaret. The first two were at the Cincinnati Playhouse where we usher, and the later was a community theater production.

We saw the latest movie rendition of Murder on the Orient Express. If you don’t know who did it, it’s a good (not great) who-done-it movie … but I thought the beginning was too slow.

Last week our handbell choir played Fantasy on an Irish Tune (one many will recognize). For those enjoying handbell music, here’s a recording (not us) of the song, one that we had only a short time to prepare. Meanwhile, this week we started the preparing for a busy December.

If you appreciate outdoor murals, see these extraordinary works. (Thanks to Raye for leading me to these.)

College basketball season is underway. With two strong teams in my city (that are only 3.5 miles/5.6 km apart), expectations are high – especially after a lousy football season.

Sharing our British Isles cruise will continue this weekend – and the end should be before the next edition of OITS. The next post will feature the biggest surprise of the trip.

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I’m awaiting responses from both my Republican Representative Wenstrup and Republican Senator Portman to the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, or Texas: No matter the location of a mass shooting, a common Republican soundbite describe the result as “a mental health issue.” What has your party – Republicans – done to address the issue since December 14, 2012? (As of this posting, no answer from either person.)

Seems Congress is aiming for a temporary tax cut … sunset provisions are not tax reform! Then again, much of what they are doing isn’t reform, just mere tinkering with the existing system. The Republicans are stuck between a pushy president and the desperate need to do something. So, they have backed themselves into the corner and can’t make good politics out of bad policy. On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with only saying “No” because they can’t develop a message of a better way.

A divisive president, partisan-driven Congress, and the blind rhetoric of partisan voters has turned me into more fervent independent than I was before. I enjoyed this article from Pew Research Center and the interactive (also from Pew) I listed in Interesting Reads below.

Now this is a classic. A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry referred to President Trump as an “old lunatic” – so President Trump responded, Why would Kim Jong-un called me “old”?

Not to be outdone, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh offered this head-banging-against-the-wall  defense for Senator Roy Moore (R-AL): “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers a list of ways to make a difference your local community.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Toddler scientists finally determine number of peas that can fit in the ear canal
Neither boss nor employee paid enough to deal with each other
Flu takes down biggest guy in the office as warning to rest of staff
Doctors discover the purpose of appendix is to contain human soul
90% of bike accidents preventable by buying a car

Interesting Reads
Relationships: Saudi Arabia and its neighbors
How Cincinnati made the JFK files
People and information
Glass terrarium that changed the world
The most painted woman in the world
(Interactive) Political polarization in the US since 1994
(Photos) Facts about sunsets

For your weekend entertainment, here’s Sir Paul performing another classic Beatles song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.