Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 174

On Politics
The Republican Party releases a major report about ways they can compete in 2016. All is join and dandy in print, but in reality, as long as organizations as Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) keeps trotting people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Donald Trump in front of the cameras, welcome to reality.

Thanks to The Onion: Authorities on alert as hundreds of crazed psychopaths enter Congressional chambers

Most people know that history comes in several forms. For instance, the US Revolutionary War from the US perspective probably differs from the British perspective. Well, when it comes to the US Constitution, we now have the Texas Republican Party perspective, which is also lawmakers are pushing into Texas schools. For evidence, this will introduce you to Texas’ newest senator – ladies and gentlemen – Mr. Ted Cruz.

James Madison, the Father of the US Constitution, had a recent birthday (March 16th). Here’s some interesting tidbits about him.

Republicans criticizing President Obama for waiting so long to visit Israel is funny because they don’t realize the past history of Republican presidents.

I’m not a Bill O’Reilly fan, but cheers to him for blasting Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Cruel owner chains bike outside in freezing weather
Groundhog beheaded for inaccurate prediction
FDA relaxes definition of Smoothie
Baseball star David Ortiz listed as season to season
NASA designers release 50 new space skirts
Boss gets on man’s ass about finishing NCAA bracket
Another job interview ruin as sutures popping open during handshake

Interesting Reads
About wine ratings
Are polar bears really disappearing?
Why ballroom beats the treadmill
Respites and autism from M3 Red, someone we see here at times
Darwin’s observations on biogeography
Stephen King (author and gun owner) on gun control
Lina and the Wolf: A book review about a Prokofiev and his soprano wife
Can man survive on beer alone?

On Potpourri
Cheers to Robin (Life in the Bogs) as she moves to a new location – Breezes at Dawn. Besides being a good photographer and one who finds the right words for the photographic moments, I’m confident that she’s also – and most importantly – a good person. Visit her new location and if you are new, tell her I sent you.

This week’s post On a Coin Analogy received interesting comments. On a related note, I appreciate these words by Dennis Vemena:

In common English usage, “theory” means something like “guess” or “hunch”. It means something speculative, uncertain. In science, however, the meaning is almost exactly the opposite. In science, a theory is an idea that has stood the test of time. This difference between the common usage and the scientific usage of the word is a frequent source of confusion for nonscientists. In science, a theory is a well-tested idea – an explanatory framework that makes sense of the current facts available, and continues to make accurate predictions about the natural world.

It’s college basketball March Madness in the US, which means my alma mater continues having the 12th longest streak in the country of not participating. How’s this for a catchy marketing phrase: Bowling Green Falcon Basketball – not since 1968

On the SEC getting only 3 teams in the tournament: “This is a BSC league … that shouldn’t happen! (Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin). Coach Martin, good job at identifying the problem because the BSC is about football, not basketball.

The University of Kentucky didn’t (and thankfully so) make the tournament. Hey UK – sell yourself to the devil in favor of winning at all costs, things like this happen. How many of your recruits the past four years are on target to graduate? Answer – not many!

I will feature another classic cartoon character on Saturday.

Readers surprised with the amount of praise for last Monday Morning’s Entertainment post of Donald O’Conner. To send you into the weekend, enjoy Gene Kelly’s famous bit from the same movie: Singin’ in the Rain. Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Completed March Madness

In the past week we’ve crowned a college basketball and hockey champions, started baseball season, and witnessed a great Masters tournament. So this post is to ending of another March Madness.

Congratulations Duke – a true national champion that earned it fair and square!

Congratulations Butler for representing all mid-majors and for capturing many fans across the country you appreciate underdogs.

Congratulations to the NCAA for providing a three-week frenzy of upsets, dramatic endings, unbelievable athleticism, and so much more – including a true national champion.

Congratulations to my alma mater, Bowling Green, as the Falcons continued one of the longest streaks in the country for not making it to the first round (since 1968).

Congratulations to my MA alma mater (Cincinnati) for getting one NIT win – yet seemingly so far away from what was not all that long ago.

Congratulations to Bob Huggins and his WVU Mountaineers. Besides still being special to many UC Bearcat faithful, he also guaranteed ABK would win the tournament – Anybody but Kentucky.

Congratulations to the NCAA for continuing to ring the register of its recognized cash cow. I wonder how they can make even more money? I wonder if they will do something incredibly stupid for the sake of money?

On Foghorn Leghorn and Basketball

With his classic, That’s a joke… I say, that’s a joke son, Foghorn Leghorn is one of my favorite classics. As a large, friendly, but overbearing rooster, Foghorn delivers many great lines, which I will both highlight below, even some on audio. And if you’re looking for round 2 basketball tournament picks, they are at the bottom of this post.

10 Points about Foghorn J. Leghorn

  • Created by Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Brothers
  • Starred in 28 cartoons between 1946 and 1963
  • Loved to hum Camptown Races, but only knew the words Duh dah, Duh dah
  • Original voice by Mel Blanc
  • Drawn from Senator Claghorn, a blustering Southern politician who was a regular character on the Fred Allen radio show
  • Made a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Space Jam (1996)
  • Grandfather to Feather Buster
  • Appeared with Henery Hawk – a young chickenhawk who usually is seen looking for a chicken to eat, but doesn’t know what a chicken looks like
  • Moves around a lot – one address is Cucamonga, California where he received a telegram from Rhode Island Red
  • According to the cartoon Raw! Raw! Rooster!, Foghorn and his chum Rhode Island Red went to Chicken Tech

Some Classic Lines
“Okay, I’ll shut up. Some fellas have to keep their tongues flappin’ but not me. I was brought up right. My pa used to tell me to shut up and I’d shut up. I wouldn’t say nothin’. One time darn near starved to death. WOULDN’T TELL HIM I WAS HUNGRY!”

“Boys as sharp as a bowling ball.”
“Pay attention, boy!”
“Boy’s like a dead horse — got no get-up-and-go…”
“That boy’s as strong as an ox, and just about as smart.”
“That boy’s like a tattoo … gets under your skin.”
“Go away boy. Ya bother me.”

“This is gonna cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show!”
“You’re doing a lot of choppin’, but no chips are flyin’.”
“I’m cuttin’ but you’re not bleedin’!”
“That dog’s as subtle as a hand grenade in a barrrel of oat meal.”
“Clunk enough people and we’ll have a nation of lumpheads.”

Random Recordings (Click to here)
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven

Take them to the bank
Kansas over Northern Iowa
Tennessee over Ohio
Ohio State over Georgia Tech
Syracuse over Gonzaga
Butler over Murray State
Kansas State over BYU
Kentucky over Wake Forest
Duke over Cal
Villanova over St. Mary’s

Yes, but beware
Wisconsin over Cornell
New Mexico over Washington
Baylor over Old Dominion

The Coin toss says
Michigan State over Maryland
Xavier over Pitt
Purdue over Texas A&M

The Upset Special
Missouri over West Virginia

On March Madness Brackets

We have 64 teams, and 63 games later, the NCAA crowns a legitimately recognized national champion of college basketball (none of the BCS crap!).

Last year I provided picks at the opening of each round, which is different than fill-the-bracket-from-the-start. For whatever reason, last year I started in the second round and did fairly well 25/31=81%).

Now my percentage is much better than the graduation rates of many teams; and way above schools as Kentucky (31%), Cal (20%), Baylor (36%), Georgia Tech (38%), Louisville (38%), Tennessee (30%), Washington (29%), and Maryland – a pathetic 8%.

At the same time, I am below teams as BYU (100%), Marquette (100%), Utah State (100%), Wofford (100%), Notre Dame (100%), Duke (92%), Lehigh (92%), Vermont (92%), Villanova (92%), and Butler (90%).

Without further adieu, it is time to step up to the plate for round 1.

Midwest: Kansas, Northern Iowa (upset), Michigan State (upset watch), Maryland, Tennessee, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Ohio State

West: Syracuse (upset watch), Gonzaga, UTEP (upset), Vanderbilt, Xavier, Pitt, BYU, K-State

East: Kentucky, Texas, Temple (upset watch), Wisconsin (upset watch), Marquette, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia

South: Duke, Louisville, Texas A&M, Siena (upset), Notre Dame, Baylor, Richmond, Villanova

On Opening Day and Predictions

Although the weather is miserable, it’s Opening Day in Cincinnati, so the day is special. Back in the day before the mad pursuit of TV money, the Reds opened first, and then all others followed. Although those days are gone, Opening Day in Cincinnati includes excitement, a traditional (yet simple, even cheezy parade), and a sold out ballpark. It’s simply a time-honored special event.

Here’s a reminder of the 2007 opener … poor mayor, yet the look by Eric Davis is priceless.

Today’s parade is the 90th, so here’s a sample of the parade from the past along with some background.

On Divisional Predictions
AL West: The Angles are the class of the division, but expect the A’s to challenge.
AL Central: The most competitive division, so drawing the names out of a hat has just as good a chance. Crazy Ozzie will get the Chisox to the top.
AL East: Jays and O’s won’t contend. Although CC wins the Cy Young, Boston wins the division.
NL West: Dodgers survive the Diamondback’s challenge.
NL Central: By far, the Cubs the class of the division.
NL East: Mets face through issues and somehow get it done. The Braves will surprising be in the mix.

On the Reds
Since my Reds have some of the better young talent in baseball, some pundits designate them as the surprise team. Adam Dunn prodigious blasts are gone, so it’s a different type of team.

To me, it’s a team with a lot of ifs: If Votto and Bruce continue to improve; If Harrang returns to form; If Volquez and Cuetto win a combined 30; if the RH bats of Encarnacion and Hernandez hit 55-60 HRs with 150 RBIs; If SS Gonzalez stays heathly and has an average year; If Willy Taveras improves his OBP by 100 points, which means he may have to find a way to steal first; If the team batting average with RISP improves at least 50 points; and so on.

For a team with that many ifs, third place is a reasonable expectation, but I say it will be lower.

On Awards
AL MVP: David Ortiz
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
AL Rookie of the Year: David Price
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Geren
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Chavez
AL Batting Crown: Ichiro Suzuki
AL Home Run Title: Josh Hamilton
AL RBI Title: Mark Teixeira
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren
NL Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Carpenter
NL Batting Crown: Albert Pujols
NL Home Run Title: Ryan Howard
NL RBI Title: Ryan Howard

On the NCAA Basketball Championship
Two semifinals wins moves my tournament prediction record (since Round 2) to 24-6 (80%). Go with North Carolina.