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.

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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. 350

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Although I took a low-key approach to #2000, I greatly appreciate the comments. Yes, they collectively choked me up a bit. Thank you!

I can’t believe WordPress didn’t sent me a special badge. Then again, maybe they did, but I can’t find it.

I had to look, but the first 1,000 took 4 years 1 month … the second thousand took almost 5 years 5 months. Especially given my age, I’m trending in the wrong direction for the next 2,000! But hey – thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

I had to check the party for #1000. I enjoyed looking at the names from the past. Approximately 67 attended: 12 are still here (more than half attended #2000), 14 are still active bloggers but no longer visit, and 42 are no longer active.

My next venture: The IF Challenge. A new (and temporary) page detailing this challenge on a tab. Bottom line, construct a post centering around the word “if”. Writer’s choice of format (poem, short story, graphic, etc). Dates are TBA – probably a specific announcement in the next OITS for the challenge post within 7 days after.

This weekend I hope to introduce readers to BLINK Cincinnati, which will be a series of posts.

We saw The Post (Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks). Thumbs up – but I enjoyed Darkest Hour more. As with any movie based on history, details are often omitted (because of time), massaged or even made-up to improve the movie’s flow – therefore, I often wonder how much of the movie is true. Here’s one such view of The Post.

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Here’s an interesting post about integrity by a blogger that I don’t know. Raye, thanks for leading me there.

The government shutdown was ridiculous. The 3 comments below stuck with me this week.

A president who can’t make a deal, Republicans struggling to govern, Democrats shaped by their anti-Trump base. (Dan Balz, Columnist, Washington Post)

What’s striking is Republican operatives said to me they think this president is erratic, he’s undisciplined, he’s inconsistent which makes it tough for him when he tries to get himself engaged in a deal like this. (Peter Alexander, NBC National Correspondent)

Where’s the empathy in my party? Al Cardenas, Republican Strategist)

This article by The Guardian definitely has an intriguing title: “The 12 Weirdest Days From Trump’s First Year”.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion capsulizing the history of the World Economic Forum.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Area man thinks movie he saw should have been nominated
Lustful man sensually uses one hand to unhook clasp of take-out box
Ophthalmologist instructs patient not to look at anything 24 hours before eye surgery
Man wishes women in crowded bar would let him read Jane Austen novel in peace
Newborn has father’s asshole
Real life Michelin Man dies (Photo here)

Interesting Reads
Defending the grid
Soybean to diesel fuel: is it worth it?
Feeding 1.4 billion Chinese
Feeding 10 billion people globally
Plague Fort in Russia
(Photos) London Lit

To send you into the weekend, here’s another one from The Cars on the way to their upcoming induction. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 345

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Because this is a holiday week, this edition of Opinion in the Shorts is a bit earlier than normal.

I’m overdue for a new header – so welcome another image from the Hubble Telescope – the Horsehead Nebula within the Orion constellation about 1500 light years from Earth. You can see my past headers on the Past Headers tab or by clicking here.

The latest Star Wars film: A quick review – Good vs. evil, a group of eclectic characters from across the universe, numerous special effects battle scenes, and advanced weapon technology that isn’t efficient at hitting a target.

2,000th post is the next statistical milestone for my little corner of the world. I imagine it happening sometime in early 2018 (January or February). 300,000th visit should happen sometime late December or January – but I don’t foresee them happening together

The next post will be a Christmas post (posted either on the 23rd or 24th).

I drafted the beach walks while at the beach. Cincinnati is a long way from the beach, so I only have one more – which I may publish next week.

The Creation Museum (from Answers in Genesis) is located in the Cincinnati area. Although I have more than a passing interest in the interrelationship between religion and science, I’ve never had the urge to visit the museum – and probably never will. After all, it does not represent my view of religion or my view of science. Therefore, I appreciated this closing statement Ted Davis gives his recent post at Biologos. … in engaging culture with Christian truth is a holy duty, but it goes awry when Christians approach culture in an aggressive and combative manner, oversimplify complex issues, and delegitimize any approach that starts with an open question instead of an assumed answer.

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With all the talk about the new tax plan, I wonder what happened to President Trump’s idea of (I paraphrase) “a tax cut not for rich guys like me.”

The new tax bill eliminates the wrong mandate regarding health care insurance – the individual mandate, whereas I say it should eliminate the insurance mandate on businesses – but that would involve guts and creative problem solving.

Other than saying No, Democrats missed the opportunity of providing an alternative tax-cut proposal to the public.

Remember Simpson-Bowles; the 2012 bipartisan effort examining deficit reduction and reform? Five years have passed and Congress and both parties continue to ignore it while kicking the can down the road.

It’s been a long time since I thought about the brilliant George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on TV, but it immediately came to my mind when hearing the report about the Trump Administration directive to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Reports say that the CDC cannot use 7 words in the budget preparation documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. Although just another odd Trumpian effect, Chuck Todd’s closing segment on Meet the Press was perfect.

I smiled when I heard conservative columnist George Will say he believes the country would be better off with a divided Congress. I also enjoyed this recent column of his about washing machines.

Columnist Kathleen Parker recently offered timely reminder: … effectively convinced voters that what is true is false and what is false is true.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a guide for interpreting dreams.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Unidentified wooden pole leaning against wall in garage
God gets Celtic Cross tattoo on back
Unpatriotic man does not maintain erection during National Anthem
92% of area woman’s recipes involving pulverizing bag of Oreos
Overworked pajama bottoms pray owner gets job soon
Study finds chickens would have no qualms about caging, eating humans

Interesting Reads
Has the high school diploma lost meaning?
Public trust and science
A guide for pessimists for the days ahead
History of Star Wars
What if Greenland had no ice?
(Pictures) The most beautiful pictures of 2017
(Video) A relaxing two minutes of sights from the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico

To lead you toward the holiday, here’s a 1963 clip of The Beatles. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 344

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I’m not even close to being a Star Wars fanatic, but I get to attend a Cincinnati premier of the new film.

OMG – The Moody Blues are going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Cars, Bon Jovi, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, and Dire Straits. Congratulations to all!

Our handbell choir continues focusing on music for the busy holiday season. The next solo piece is The Huron Carol: a tune many of you will recognize. Click here to listen.

Until I saw this, I didn’t realize President Trump sang Christmas carols.

A refreshing thought. While watching the Army-Navy football game, I noticed that players don’t bring attention to themselves after a play.

Cheers to the professional golf’s decision to stop issuing penalty strokes based on information from the television audience.

For those enjoying the beach walks, I only have 1 0r 2 left.

I worry about what the Supreme Court will rule in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

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On one hand, Doug Jones (D) defeating Roy Moore (R) for the Alabama Senate seat gives hope to humanity. On the other hand, the fact that a high percentage of voters supported Moore makes my hope very tepid.

I applaud this line from this ABC News Editorial: A nation can have a healthy, functional democracy only if its citizens are willing to go beyond the interests of their tribe and work for the common good.

For many years on these pages I warned that the political climate was not good for times when one party controls Congress and the White House … and I believe Democrats would be doing the same thing if the roles were reversed.

It didn’t take much time for some Democrats to seek the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). But I ask this question: Would Democrats have done the same thing if Minnesota had a Republican governor?

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic comparing shopping at a retail store and a thrift store.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man with 3 kids going to make great father someday
Study finds controlling, possessive behavior most pure expression of love
Department of Labor response team seals off toxic workplace environment
Line of lizards winding out door outside National Geographic casting office
Frustrated wildfire spends hours stuck in L.A. traffic
Recording Academy reminds aging musicians to die before December 15th to be included in 2017 Grammy tributes

Interesting Reads
Views of gender differences
Debating USA’s role in the world
History of mince pies
The first Scrooge
Why dogs cock their heads
(Interactive) Compare your view on gender equality with others
(Photos) Wonderful images from space

To lead you into the weekend, it’s got to be the Moody Blues. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 338

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Carefully observers have noticed that my posting has been a bit erratic and my responding to comments has been very slow. This has been primarily due to the time spent working on the situation of an out-of-town aunt. Thanks to all for being patient, understanding, and caring.

Phase 2 (of 3) in preparing an aunt’s house for sale is complete – so 3+ hour trips should not be as numerous as we enter Phase 3. Phase 2 was definitely the most critical and the most time-consuming .. and we proudly check that box!

I’m hoping November will be better for blogging (visiting and posting) than October.

A milestone: I’ve started the process of receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Blink Cincinnati was an unbelievable success. Hopefully several posts in the future.

Readers here know I enjoy posting about murals in Cincinnati – primarily the ones by ArtWorks. Here’s an article from the New York Times about public art. Thanks Raye!

It’s possible that the song below is the hardest handbell piece our choir has ever played. Our one-shot performance is approaching, so time will tell. “Mixed meter” is a musical term for a piece with different time signatures within the piece. This piece (the one we are playing) changes timing over 75 times. Now that plays havoc on my nerves.

Because this weekend marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two related articles are in this week’s Interesting Reads.

This season of Dancing With the Stars continues to surprise me. Actor Jordan Fisher and musician Lindsey Stirling have been exceptional. Television personality Vanessa Lachey continues to shine. Actor Frankie Muniz, wrestler Nikki Bella, ESPN’s Victoria Arlen are solid, while Property Brother Drew Scott and athlete Terrell Own continue to improve.

Contrary to some partisans, the situation involving scumbag Harvey Weinstein is not a political issue.

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A tip of the cap to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA for at least trying to develop a bipartisan agreement regarding the Affordable Care Act – even co-sponsored by 24 senators. Another proposal from a bipartisan group on the House side faces similar obstacles: a group representing slightly less than 10% of the House of Representatives.

I have no problem with a Congressional committee investigating the sale of US uranium mines to Russians ONCE – not over and over – not as a dragged-on affair trying to find something that isn’t – not as a political witch hunt.

I liked this question regarding North Korea and nuclear weapons: Would you rather live with North Korea having nuclear weapons or have thousands killed in the name of stopping North Korea from having weapons?

After 9 months in office, President Trump uses the following strengths to lead the country: bolivating, exaggerating, lying, blaming, defecting, distorting, denying, ignoring, fabricating, and dividing. Cheers to this CNN commercial about two popular fruits.

Erick Erickson is definitely a conservative, but I appreciate his words about the way President Trump is reacting to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

But sometimes the President should be Presidential and getting in the mud is not. The people of Puerto Rico are hungry, thirsty, homeless, and fearful. They won’t hear a lot about President Trump’s twitter fight and it won’t matter to him because they cannot participate in the Electoral College. It should matter to all of us though that the President is so willing to get in the mud and fight back when the mayor and everyone else in Puerto Rico need our empathy and compassion. Sometimes the President just does not need to dial-up the jackass and sometimes he does not need to be defended.

Cheers to recent comments by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) for having the guts to call it like it is. Then again, that’s a meager minority.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for organizing a protest.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
New evidence reveals Pythagoras wrote dozens of unhinged conspiracy theories about triangles
Romantic gesture too expensive to waste on current girlfriend
Nation demands more slow-motion footage of running basset hounds
Article nauseous from constant scrolling
Self-conscious panda swears it overheard zookeeper refer to it as “Giant”
Historians discover meditation spread from Ancient China by annoying monk who wouldn’t shut up about how it changed his life

Interesting Reads
Martin Luther and Literacy
Robots and ethics: teachable?
Odd pet behaviors
Historical aspects of doughnuts
Martin Luther’s impact
(Photos) British Press Photographer Awards

For your weekend entertainment, hooray for an early contribution from the Fab Four. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.