Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 425

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Welcome to the last edition of OITS. To celebrate the occasion, there is a little more this time.

Although I’ve been proclaiming the end is coming for months, the fact that it is actually approaching is a weird sensation. I spent so much time cleaning out the blog closet, I thought the closet was more like a bottomless pit.

With 425 posts, Opinions in the Shorts is (by far) my longest running series. It’s been fun to do.

With this series having different sections, it has been interesting to notice reader preferences. But I get the biggest thrill when someone reads one of the Interesting Reads and then comments about it. 😀

Over the years, I’ve tried to showcase Cincinnati and the surrounding area. Here’s an article about 10 lesser known historical sites in the area. Some may surprise you.

This is from five year ago, but just saw it for the first time.

 

Remember Fiona, the premature hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo. This post is perfect timing with her birthday. Happy 3rd Birthday, Fiona – which is this Friday, 24 January. Here’s the latest local article about her celebrating her birthday.

We saw Ford v Ferrari. Very good movie. A tad long, but tense from early on to the end. FYI: Being a racing is NOT a requirement to enjoy the film.  Click here to see the trailer.

As per the previous published agenda, the two posts (parties) this weekend are designed to be fun – so I hope you participate!

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Instead of leaders promoting the feat they associate with the other side, America needs leaders who are fearless in attacking today’s problems – not to return to a time that has passed – and not to get us stuck in today – but fearless to address today’s issues with an eye on a positive tomorrow.

My thoughts on my Elite 8 states to watch in the 2020 election: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Which also means I’m hoping Ohioans will see fewer ads than in the last 2 presidential elections.

I have long believed that Washington has two main problems: Democrats and Republicans. Both are selfish organizations favoring self-serving over governing. Because of their preference of shoving ideals down our throats, I hope that the 2020 election results deliver divided government. We need more, but given the environment, unfortunately divided government is the best answer. Today’s environment lacks the attitude of intentionally gathering to collectively pursue a goal – and then achieve it. But maybe that attitude is only an ideal because politics has always been a selfish nasty fight of us versus them.

For the record, the Senate phase of impeachment is unfortunately a joke and an embarrassment. Then again, they are following the precedent of past impeachments … and the Republican stance is weak, sad, and aimed at the blind faith of partisan hacks. Also, given the precedents, if the Founding Fathers would have seen impeachment playout, I wonder if they would switched the jury responsibility from the Senate to the US Supreme Court.

President Trump is a pathetic person, an even worse leader, and one who brings most of his problems on himself. He’ll take credit for anything and avoid taking responsibility. America deserves better. Unfortunately, a high percentage of Americans don’t believe that, and that’s a problem that is bigger than him.

Given’s President Trump’s normal behavior and high chances of election, odds are very high that he will become the first president to be impeached more than once.

I’m tired of partisan-hack Republicans who continually claim that anti-Trump people don’t feel he was dutifully elected. Hey Jackwagons, I hate to tell you, but most anti-Trumpians would disagree with your statement. You sound like the anti-evolutionists who say, “Evolution says humans came from apes.” Interestingly, I’ve never heard an evolutionist say that.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Couple decides there are better off as siblings
Financial expert recommends waiting until chaos is law of the land
New cable bundle includes 24/7 live-in tech support
New sip-and-weld studio provides opportunity to drink wine and create own masterpiece with blowtorch
Amazon reviewer posts selfie with toaster
Man afraid he’ll seem vulnerable if he reaches out to fire department for help
30-minute silence in car broken with “We are making good time”
Report: Clicking this link will add you to FBI Watch List

My Combo: Man decides wine, toaster, and blowtorch make chaos better until expert recommends Amazon to silence siblings for help

Interesting Reads

James Bond music – the hits and the misses
A universe with no end?
The F-14 Tomcat
Rise and fall of the Hummer
Impacts of America’s slow-growing population
A discovery that may treat all cancer
Bismarck: The battleship
Where to eat in 2020
Land Use in America
(Photos) Volcanic eruption in the Philippines
(Photos) Contest winners of photo contest involving boulders
(Photos) Ocean Photo Contest winners
(Graphic) China’s global influence
(Graphic) The true size of countries

Selecting a song to send you into the weekend for the last time wasn’t an easy task, but once I heard a podcast that reminded me of this song, I knew it was it. Thanks for reading. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 403

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

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

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

Interesting Reads

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

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

On Biases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PS: This classic scene fits.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 400

 

Welcome to the 400th volume of Opinion in the Shorts (aka OITS). I published the first on November 25, 2008 – about 3 months after starting my little corner of the world. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve included a short self-perspective in each section.

Next milestone – Only 5 to go to post #2,200.

This section evolved into a potpourri of thoughts. Because it is more applicable and interest to wider readership, I moved this section so it can serve as a lighter opener.

The lengthy stretch of rain, storms, tornadoes, and record flooding in the central US has been devastating. For those who are able and willing to donate, I urge you to do so to the charity of your choice. Here’s a link to Charity Navigator a site rating organizations on performance, financial health, accountability, and transparency.

A few days ago, at least 18 tornadoes hit Ohio – the closest about 40 miles from me. Fortunately, the people we know in that area are OK, but others lost their homes or suffered repairable damage. FYI: Ohio typically averages 3 for the entire month of May.

After seeing images of a long line of people on the final ascent of Mount Everest, I said, “I don’t get it.”

Last week ended with a 3-day weekend for Memorial Day. The Sunday sermon by one of my pastors was one of the best I’ve ever heard about this holiday. For those interested (and having 18 minutes), click here.

I recently learned that my state (Ohio) is ranked #6 in most Bigfoot sightings. Stephen Colbert recently asked a very pertinent question – What is the plural of Bigfoot?

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This blog initially focused on sports and politics – so this section was an extension of the initial roots. For a long time, this section opened OITS.

Emphasizing improving the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was one of the reasons Democrats gained control of the House this past December. I’m still waiting, and failing to pass such a bill through the legit process (as opposed to force feeding) will work against Democrats in the 2020 election.

For the second time in a week, a House Republican blocked the passing of a disaster funding bill. One person having the ability to block a bill is one reason Congress has a low approval rating.

Bottom Line: Special Counsel Robert Mueller explained he was the fact finder, and Congress is the jury. In that light, while Democrats are foaming at the mouth aiming for political gain. Republicans are spineless, protectionists of their own kind. Then again, if the situation were reversed, the roles would be reversed. Members of both sides of the aisle march to their party-first mantra, followed by preserving their own seat. Contrary to popular opinion, “country” is no higher than third on their priority list.

Earlier this week the news reported President Trump contradicting the National Security Advisor. Hello – he not only frequently does this to his advisors and experts, he also frequently contradicts himself. No wonder he is “the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.” (Jon Voight) … but a great American orator responds

I just watched a report on CBS citing three studies/organizations supporting what I about to state.To those citing the current tornado activity as proof of climate change, to those condemning President Trump for ignoring climate change, and to those blaming Obama for everything & anything, current research shows there is currently no link between increased tornadic activity and climate change. That doesn’t mean the existence of an undiscovered link or the absence of any link. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change”), states in their opening sentence on their page about tornadoes and climate change: The link between tornadoes and climate change is currently unclear.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides a history of robocalls.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

The Onion has had a place on this blog for a long time. Long-time readers probably remember The Onion’s Satire Bits – a midweek dose of satire that ran for 134 weeks. That’s where the combo challenge started.

Showerhead self-conscious about single jet that sprays sideways
Boss encourages employees to take short mental breakdowns for every hour of work
World populace actually fine with rich people dying on Mount Everest
Businessman mortified to discover he’s been wearing suit backwards all day
Lowe’s reveals new table saw with attached ice chest for storing cut-off fingers (Click for the image)
Struggling single mother seriously considering putting baby up for audition

(My Combo) Mortified boss struggling putting self-conscious rich people on table saw

Interesting Reads

I’m not sure when this section first appeared. However, early OITS editions occasionally contained linked articles. Over time, articles switched from politics and economics to a collection of wide-ranging topics.

Linking democracy and dissatisfaction
Descartes laws of nature and theology
Getting pandas from China
About Portuguese citizenship and Jews
Virgin birth by an anaconda
(Photos) Waterfalls in black-and-white
(Photos) A collection from a river and streams theme

To send you into the weekend, here’s another one from Bonnie Raitt (since many appreciated her appearance last week). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 389

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Queen headlines this weekend’s concert series. Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Fiona turned 2 this week! Here’s a click with a story and a photo gallery. Need more? Here’s a collection of videos.

We recently saw Vice at the theater. Some points: 1) Christian Bale was outstanding, 2) I was never a fan of Dick Cheney or any of the neo-Conservatives, 3) I’m not a fan of hyper-partisan movies, and 4) Oscar for Best Picture? Someone had to be kidding.

I’ve finally got around to listening to Podcasts. I greatly enjoy the Ted Radio Hour. CBS journalists Mo Rocca just released his first in a series called Mobituaries. The first episode was about Vaughn Meader. Does anyone remember him? He was the famous for his President Kennedy impressions. Does the First Family Album ring a bell?

Back to podcasts. The two series listed above are 1-hour segments. Any recommendations of podcasts that are 15 minutes or less?

Remember Mr. Blackwell’s best and worst dressed lists? He died in 2008, but Roger Stone (yes – that Roger Stone – the advisor to President Trump) picked up Blackwell’s mantle. I heard an interesting interview with him about his lists – so here they are.

Congratulations to the latest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, and Edgar Martinez. Cheers to Martinez finally getting his due, and a worthy tip of the cap to Mariano Rivera for being the first player ever to receive 100% of the votes on the first ballot. A worthy honor to a top-shelf player.

Super Bowl LIII is set. Two very entertaining games last weekend, but too bad the officials made a blatant error in one game, plus I don’t like the NFL’s overtime rule that determined the second game. Personally, I hope the Rams win.

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I not only don’t I understand comments like these, I’m even more surprised that people use them and others believe them.

  • “Stalin was a socialist who wanted healthcare for all, then went on to kill 80,000 people.” (Friend on Facebook)
  • “We have a society in which there are an awful lot of people who have no idea that Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung all came to power promising the same kinds of things that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is promising. And it led to mass murder, it led to dictatorship, it led to genocide. These promises are old promises and they invariably lead to bad things.” (Ben Stein)

For goofy statements like the above, I have a simple response: Although I may not agree with the Left, I am glad they have their heads in the cloud because it is a response to the Right who have their heads up their ass – and I’m glad to be grounded with my eyes open and my brain thinking.

With all the bluster about the upcoming State of the Union, I could care less because I won’t be watching or listening.

Interesting how President Trump offered a DACA deal to the Democrats, and then the Supreme Court steps on Trump’s previous DACA actions. Oh how the stories around this administration get weirder and weirder.

White House Counsel Rudy Giuliani is competing with President Trump for best entertainment to those who know better. Earlier this week The Onion has this great headline: Giuliani: ‘Let’s Just Start Everything Over’ … and this Stephen Colbert about Rudy intro made me laugh. (It’s less than a minute.)

To lead you into The Onion, this headline and accompanying image may be one of the best ever. Click here to see.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man beginning to worry that best meals already behind him
Trump dismisses Trump as a distraction
Doctor weirded out by patient providing every lucid detail of medical history
Woman rushes to hide fragile objects, cover up sharp corners on tables before boyfriend comes over
Queen Elizabeth watches as oxen pull apart farmer who failed to provide yearly tithe of grain
Weird kid opts to sit perfectly still, let universe decide his fate after teacher instructs class to pair up

Interesting Reads

Rural states and clean energy
Ten cultural items turning 30
Tough economic times at Amsterdam brothels
Major news from the world of frog dating
Quinoa whiskey
(Photos) The architect exiled by Nazis
(Chart) Coal use by country

To send you into the weekend, here’s a song that I stumble across the other day that I hadn’t heard in a long time. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.