Opinions in the Shorts: Vol 418

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James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is ready to take the weekend concert stage! Concert time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

As part of my exit plan, I’ve added a new page/tab. Q&A page is a place for my audience to ask me questions.

The ending to last week’s Steelers-Browns game was embarrassing. And to think that some people are blaming the Steeler QB. Not that he’s totally innocent, but only one player intentionally swung the helmet.

Speaking of football, the Benevolent Impalers continue to roll. Besides steamrolling the third consecutive opponent, we’ve clinched a playoff spot with three weeks remaining in the season.

Long-time readers know I enjoy milestones. Cheers to Akismet catching over 100,000 spam comments.

For moviegoers, thumbs up to The Good Liar.

Odd are very few readers here have heard of Serpent Mound. It’s an Ohio historic site, and has even applied for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A local TV station did this drone flyover with a short report. For those wanting to know more, here are three short (less than 5 minute) videos.

Zion National Park, a beautiful natural wonder, is turning 100. A new film is made for the park’s Visitors Center and for global distribution. Oh, now that would be great on an IMAX screen. Although the information I found was limited, I did find this trailer.

Typically, November and December are busy for the handbell choir – meaning many more songs to prepare for the various holidays. Our normal playing schedule is once a month, but this week we return after 2 weeks, then play again 2 weeks later, then again for Christmas Eve. To hear a recording of our next piece, click here to enjoy.

Because next week is Thanksgiving here in the US, no OITS next week – and maybe no Beach Walk …. but I’ll be featuring a series of travel posts.

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An Associated Press article was about a study stating Americans struggle differentiating fact vs. fiction. Whereas I continue to proclaim the people are just as biased than the media, and perhaps more so, several quotes in the article got to me.

  • “It is difficult to get the facts. You have to read between the lines. I rely on like-minded friends and family to help sort through conflicting information.”
  • “When I hear him on Fox News – that’s where I get all my information – Trump is the easiest way to cut through confusing information.”

With the hearing on one day, I switched the channel to watch a rerun of Laramie (an old western 1959-1963). … and nope, I didn’t watch the most recent Democratic debate (which keeps my streak intact).

Why have Republicans complained about the closed hearings when they intentionally chose to limit their attendance? Oh yes – they rely on the public’s ignorance and partisan bias. Meanwhile, on the public hearing, they only hear what they want to hear.

Part of the Republican defense of President Trump begins with statements like, “No judge in America, no trial in America, no jury in America, blah blah blah … To which I respond, In America any juror with a preconceived opinion – especially those stating their views before the hearing the evidence, would be excluded from the jury – including those that have dinner with the defendant before the trial. 

Because they prefer being a political hack favoring their party instead of following the law, the Ethics Committee should expel any member of Congress who demands or releases the whistleblower’s identity. Then again, Congressional Ethics is an oxymoron.

If Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016, would the Republicans (at the time, a majority in the House and Senate) have sought her impeachment over the private server? I confidently say, Yes! After all, it’s not about the evidence – it’s about what they want to believe.

An idea for Congressional Republicans: Seek to amend the Constitution – suggest removing “high crimes and misdemeanors” with something like “proven illegal activity” …. but you won’t … bwak bwak bwak … Chickens!

Bottom line about Congressional Republicans: The vast majority (if not all) are shallow, pathetic, selfish, spineless cowards who are more concerned about their party and self-preservation than about the country. Sadly, their voting constituents may be even worse.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion explains how political ads are made.

(Bonus Onion lead) President Trump visited the hospital earlier this week. Click here if you dare.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Pope Francis Bags 6-Winged Trophy Angel During Vatican’s Annual Seraphim Hunt
Area Man Loads Up On Half-Priced Armistice Day Candy
Girlfriend must have been drinking when she texted picture of knitted scarf at midnight
Man Starting To Think He Didn’t Win 1995 Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Sweepstakes For Free Trip To Australian Outback
Report: Looks Like Ex Gained Some Weight Ever Since They Started Dating Someone Better
Spider panics after losing track of human it noticed scurry across floor

Interesting Reads

Report: marriage v living together in the US
Looking for oxygen on Mars
Farming edible snails
5 facts about illegal immigration in Europe
Relating fictional plots to economic history
About the making of Ford v Ferrari movie
(Graphic) Broadband and cellphone service costs by country
(Photos) Comedy in the wild

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that I like. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 407

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Last weekend’s Crosby, Still, Nash & Young concert provided over 20 songs. The next concert (tentatively 27th July) will feature the same four – BUT only their solo careers. Tip – Keep the others off the stage!

Although I haven’t decided yet, readers may get two beach walks next week.

A professional baseball player dies away from home. The team honors him at the next home game. The players were his number with his name on the back of the jersey. His mother throws out the first pitch – a perfect strike. The team wins the fame – a shutout – a no-hitter. All the day before his 28th birthday. That’s a difficult script to write.

The news is covering the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Here are several articles of interest for those interested.

A forgotten fact about the first landing on the Moon. The year -1969 – right in the midst of a turbulent social period throughout the world. Yet, the world stopped for this event, therefore humanity was united as one – at least for a brief moment.

For those who like this sort of thing, here’s a site focusing on media bias, which I’ve also added to the Resources section on the sidebar.

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Many refer to President Trump with a variety of names and adjectives: Bloviator, Narcissist, Idiot, Jackass, Asshole, and many more. Instead of inflaming a supporter, I continue to simply say, “He’s a pathetic person, an even worse leader, and he brings the majority of problems on himself.” By the way – it works!

I’m not a fan of the Congressional group known as The Squad, but at least a few Republicans spoke up condemning President Trump’s language about the four female Democratic representatives. Meanwhile, most of the GOP caucus were silent, evasive, or issued shallow statements.

Given President Trump’s controversial tweets about The Squad, I like this headline at The Onion because it speaks volumes about this supporters – who will still be around after he leaves office: Trump supporters worried racist attacks against progressive Democrats just talk

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion gives us some thoughts about the future of farming.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Moon receives standing ovation at Apollo 11 anniversary event
Exhausted Amazon customer forced to piss in bottle while browsing Prime Day deals
Gaming addict attempting to slowly wean self off of real life
MIT scientists successful swap man’s brain with an almond
Mom saving baby pictures for child to use on rap album cover
Man taking unemployment as opportunity to think about how he really wants out of life
Family creeped out by Alexa playing back conversations they haven’t had yet

(My Combo) MIT scientists successfully wean creeped out Alexa off family

Interesting Reads

Plastics as a fuel source
Future work in America
New Coke: What happened?
Picasso’s muse
The race to rule streaming TV
(Photos) Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium (1970-2002)
(Photos) Pictures of Spain
(Graphic) What people stream
(Infographic) The tale of two economies: USA & China

To send you into the weekend from hot and muggy Cincinnati, here’s a song that I like by an artist that I don’t like – but hey – I like the song! Besides, it fits my heat theme. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 401

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It’s been a tough week. My boss at the golf course had a back operation, so I took on extra hours. This week is a club event, which means extra hours. Next week is a major club event, which means more hours, plus two of my coworkers won’t be there – which means more hours. Tough – but hey – they suck it up when I vacation.

Working has cut into my blog writing and visiting; plus delaying the next Weekend Concert. Maybe the dominoes of life will align so I can announce the next concert in the next OITS.

James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy was interesting. Sorry to see him lose, but hey – it was bound to happen.

I’ve enjoyed watching the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals. Go Blues!

No celebration – but the next post is a milestone – # 2,200.

Marina (a blogger from Greece) and I have interacted for many years here. Although her blog has focused on her art, he’s also a very talented musician (piano is her primary instrument). She has been on a long blog break because of a work project, an art show, and more. Her recent post features a video of her art to her music. It’s wonderful. I encourage readers to visit … tell Marina I sent you.

The last post about bias sparked interesting thoughts. The Media Bias Chart I used is the version 4.0 (August 2018). The first was done in December 2016.

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of three contrasting events: 75th anniversary of D-Day, the 100th anniversary of women voting rights in the US, and the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Those three events tell quite a story.

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Really? I never knew this: “We are celebrating the anniversary, 75 years of D-Day. This is the time where we should be celebrating our president, the great achievements of America, and I don’t think the American people like the constant negativity.” (Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee)

I was disappointed earlier this week by President Trump closing the door to US citizens desiring to visit Cuba.

I continue to be astonished by the difference between what Attorney General Bill Barr says that counters the statement and report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Congress actually tried to do something good this week when several Republicans actually supported a Democratic initiative challenge President Trumps authority. However, the majority of Republican senators remained loyal to the party and spineless in their oversight responsibility.

While many complain about the way various media attack President Trump, I must do my due diligence and state the following: 1) President Trump brings his problems on himself, 2) Just because the news media is bashing on him does not mean the media is as biased as it may appear. He brings it upon himself and they are calling him out (as they should).

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides information about the most significant US trade wars.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Mood of sex dungeon undercut by sight of plug-in air freshener
Depressed monkey throwing shit at himself
Bee practically blows its load after seeing purple coneflower in full bloom
Man who has been in a bunch of buildings figures he would be a good architect
Apple CEO torn limb by limb by mob of mothers demanding to know whether iTunes gift cards still active

Interesting Reads

Eid: An Islamic festival
About the euro
Bees using plastic
Thoughts about America’s global role
Linking Irish, Catholicism, and Vaudeville
(Interactive) Take a good 11-question science quiz, and then analyze the results to demographics
(Photos) Women’s Suffrage
Photos A few D-Day landmarks 75 years later
(Video) The Pompeii of Mexico (4+ minutes)

To send you into the weekend, here’s a summer song (actually when we enjoy hearing by our favorite duo at the Flora Bama in the winter). 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.

Flashbacks: On Perspectives

To close this series, below are a few perspectives that you may enjoy. Visit as many as you want, and I hope you comment on the post you visited.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 175

On Politics
Elected officials in Washington continue to favor politics over policy … and that’s why nothing is getting done.

I heard this one not long ago: Politicians are like cockroaches. When the lights are on, they scatter not to be found – but when the lights are off, they thrive on the feast.

I enjoy when a respected Congressman rips Congress.

Many people are like politicians. For instance, as many complain about media bias, why are the viewership numbers for FOX News and MSNBC rising? I explain media bias in this past post.

I recently called my Board of Elections to see how I can undeclared a party. Unfortunately, I have to wait until the 2014 primary.

With 2016 talk already happening, here’s a campaign-theme idea for a future Republican candidate: Repeal ObamaCare, repeal Social Security, repeal Medicare, repeal Medicaid, repeal prescription drug plan for seniors, repeal unemployment payments, repeal disability payments, repeal food stamps, repeal subsidized housing, eliminate the departments of Education and Energy along with the Environmental Protection Agency, stop all funding to Planned Parenthood, PBS, public education, …. after all, I want to see how far you get!

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Epic saga of employee’s ineptitude passed down through generations of coworkers
  • Congressman says the time is now for effectively meaningless gun laws
  • Divorced father buys string cheese to make coming to his place fun
  • Coworker running NCAA office pool relishing his temporary significance
  • Man has trouble growing beard of bees
  • Area woman thinks all her friends should be comedians

Interesting Reads
Ethnic intolerance in Hungary
Math and the speeding ticket
Kathleen Parker, Mariska Hargitay, and Rape Victims
David Brooks on the Gun Control Debate
About Calvin Coolidge
Obamacare and Two Americas

On Potpourri
A special thanks to Georgette for this great post – one that she says I helped inspire.

Dancing with the Stars is off and running. Sorry to Dorothy Hamill have to leave the show due to an injury.

Baseball’s Opening Day Cincinnati Style is Monday – and the weather isn’t looking good – but as we know, that’s subject to change.

For those counting on a Saturday Morning Classic Cartoons post, sorry … none this weekend … but hopefully returning next Saturday morning. For those needing a cartoon fix, here’s a nugget to hold you over.

Because our handbell choir plays this weekend, I send you into the weekend with the joys of the two tunes we’re playing: a recording of Te Deum Laudamus (a not-so-easy, fast paced tune with a favorite of techniques) and a video of Easter Joy played by very large choir of several hundred ringers!

To the Jews, Happy Passover. To the Christians, Happy Easter. To all, have a good weekend! For those traveling, be safe. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Fair and Balanced

Every news watcher has the favorite news channel and newscaster. Although I continue to maintain that bias, no matter the channel, is a given; yet the channel may be less biased than the one listening.

Although they are the most-watched news source on television, FOX News seems to get in fair share of negative publicity; yet, its followers proclaim it as the ultimate source. The FOX News slogan is Fair and Balanced, and I’m quite certain that the slogan does not refer to the amount of negative and positive comments it receives.

With this in mind, below are the top 10 reasons why I believe FOX news is Fair and Balanced.

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