Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 331

The Cincinnati Enquirer published an interesting photo essay: A Day in the Life of Fiona the Baby Hippo. Enjoy.

This recent post on the Cincinnati Zoo Blog by one of Fiona’s handlers is good and has excellent pictures.

Opening Day is Monday. First of all, the occasion is formally capitalized in Cincinnati because it is (and has always been in my lifetime) a major event. Opening Day is the official start of the baseball season, and Cincinnati embraces it like no other place. We hope to go downtown for the festivities, but the projected weather is concerning.

Although I think the Reds will be better this year, my goals for their 2017 resemble last year’s:

  • Win more games than the 1961 Mets (Checked in 2016)
  • Have a better record than the worst team in baseball (Checked in 2016)
  • Finish higher than last place in the division
  • Finish closer to first in the division than to last
  • Anything else is extra topping on the sundae

On the downside, a shooting in a Cincinnati nightclub made the news this week. No arrests at this time, but the business has turned in its liquor license and will not reopen.

Enjoy this song with 300 words in one minute.

Several weeks ago I linked a handbell version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Here’s is another version of the same arrangement, but done with a different touch.

A tip of the cap to Lorna who is retiring her blog. I can’t recall how the two of us met each other in blogging, but I recall her move from the eastern US to Oregon. Best of luck Lorna, and thanks for the support.

The time is approaching when I will go on a spring blog break.

No Saturday post this weekend, but I will publish the Sunday post earlier than normal.

I have a plan to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) – sensible Democrats and sensible Republicans get together. Then again, I’m not convinced enough of those exist to overcome the obstinance of their respective bases.

  • Why can’t Republicans propose allowing insurance to be sold across state lines within the ACA? (However, states have the final say because they control insurance commerce.)
  • Why can’t Democrats propose eliminating taxes on the wealthy that shouldn’t have been in the ACA in the first place?
  • Why can’t either side propose either allowing credits for the insured or making the fine for not having insurance be greater than the cost of insurance?
  • Why can’t elected officials favor problem solving for the good over the country instead of party-first interests?

I know the answer to the above question – they are jackasses!

Regarding the mega-snafu by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I say get him out of there!

“Clean coal” is possible – but expensive.

I can’t agree more with this headline that I saw earlier this week: It is Never Trump’s Fault – yep … it’s always Obama’s fault.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
No Cincinnati teams making it to college basketball’s Final Four
Mild winter not killing mosquitos
Coal industries 40-year decline
Hunting hogs from helicopters
An upcoming Blog Break approaching for me

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the top 10 destinations for spring break.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hundreds Of blind, pallid Disney characters discovered living in caves deep within Space Mountain
Stoned extraterrestrial stumbles across hidden message after listening to Golden Record backwards
Audubon Society revokes black-capped chickadee’s membership after species fails to pay dues
4 copy editors killed in ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual gang violence
Military aides try to cheer up Kim Jong-Un after failed missile launch by putting on surprise execution

Interesting Reads
A perspective about nostalgia
Your life and history
Evolution of and future of charter schools
Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech (delivered 7 years before I was born, he mentions my birthplace)
Trapped in amber during sex
(Photos) Earth Hour Celebration

To send you into the weekend, here’s an MTV classic from days gone by. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 328

We have an interesting handbell piece on the docket for this weekend. It’s not easy, so it will be interesting to see if we hit it. Here’s a recording.

Our church purchased a new organ. A side note is that the organ is the first produced by a local (Cincinnati) company. In order to promote their product, the company sponsored a concert featuring a distinguished organist – Christoph Bull from UCLA. Wow … he impressed us – so for those who enjoy organ music, here is one of his videos.

Christians are early in the season of Lent. Interestingly, here’s an article about using digital technology for Lenten reflections.

Here’s a look at the lighter side. Enjoy this almost 2 minute trip with a skier going around town.

This is fun. The Atlantic creates a timeline based on a birthday. Here’s the link so you can try it.

Cincinnati and Xavier are two college basketball programs that are competitive, respectful, and regularly in the tournament. These two schools are separated by 3.5 miles (5.6 k). Interestingly, Northern Kentucky University is only 11 miles (18 km) from the most northern (XU), and they will definitely will have a spot on the brackets to be announced on Sunday. So will Cincinnati, and maybe Xavier.

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009, I saw it as a start with hopes that Congress would work out the problems that would arise. Both parties have greatly failed doing that. Now it appears the same thing will happen, just with the other side of the aisle – meaning Congress remains selfish and clueless.

Comparing the ACA with the proposed replacement is a prime example of how Democrats have a tendency to over-regulate while Republicans under-regulate.

Although many have grumbled at the replacement plan, I haven’t heard the insurance industry issuing angst – which means a reason to question the plan.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is enjoying a ratings boost due to his relentless anti-Trump rants during his monologue. We watch (live or recorded) because he’s good for a laugh.

People who regularly watch the nightly opinion-oriented shows on cable news networks are not only feeding their bias, but are also driving themselves into a frenzy – and neither is good for America.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Above normal temperature this past winter
Not placing a phone tap on Trump Tower phones
North Korea continuing to bomb the sea
My alma mater approaching 50 years without making the NCAA basketball tournament
Wikileaks, WikiPooPoo ,PeePeeLeaks, leaks and leeks

 

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers the pros and cons for a two-party political system.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
God getting strong urges to bring dinosaurs back
Study finds exposure to violent children causes increased aggression in video game characters
Pope Francis spotted sunbathing nude in St. Peter’s Square
Carhartt introduces rugged work throng (A pic doe those who dare to look)
Lemur fantasizes about ripping face off of next dumbshit who calls it a monkey

Interesting Reads
How smoothies delay hunger
How to eat like a Viking
Fall of the Romanovs
Giving up sugar: Lent and the brain
5 future technologies that got real in 2016
Norba and the Romans
(Gallery) A celebration of photography

Here’s another oldie from Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Businesses and the ACA

I appreciate the basic premises of the Affordable Care Act: the mandate for individual coverage and an insurance company inability to deny coverage to individuals with a pre-existing condition. Therefore, I look for these two points in any amendment or replacement.

There’s no question about the following:

  • Rising cost of health care insurance to all – including companies and individuals
  • Given a global economy, the company’s expense burden of healthcare insurance for employees is a burden many non-US competitors may not incur
  • The ACA requires employers (based on the number of employees) to provide healthcare insurance to employees
  • Over the past 10+ years, US employees have accepted an increasing cost burden of healthcare insurance

To me, the ACA’s employer mandate is an example of an unnecessary mandate and government overreach. Then again, given the Democratic majority that passed this law, I see it as another example of Democrats trying to do too much.

I offer a suggestion, and one that employees won’t like – but businesses would love. The Republicans won’t like it either because they couldn’t accept the two key points that I stated at the beginning. It’s also doubtful that Democrats would embrace the idea because it would amend what they created and they are less likely to pass the burden to individuals. In other words, it’s time to look outside the box.

Note: For the sake of this post, employees refers to full-time employees, which I define as those working 35 hours per week or more.

  1. Congress passes legislation to remove the employer mandate, thus companies have no obligation to provide healthcare insurance to employees.
  2. Therefore, given the ACA’s individual mandate, it is each individual’s responsibility to get healthcare insurance.
  3. In collective bargaining situations, the union and employer may negotiate coverage. If so, the burden of the negotiated coverage on the company and the employee is only with the employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) (which is existing labor law).
  4. Outside of theCBA, employers would be
    1. under no obligation to provide healthcare insurance or Health Saving Account (HSA) benefits
    2. If the company provides any benefit of healthcare insurance or HSA to any employee, all employees not covered by the CBA receive the same package without exception. (That is, if the CEO gets something special, the same goes to all employees.)
    3. If the company decides to provide a fixed amount to all employees to go toward the cost of the employee’s healthcare benefits, that’s OK as long as the amount is the same for all.
  5. If a person chooses not to purchase healthcare insurance, they are fined at a price that is higher than the cost of insurance.
  6. Determining how to fund a tax credit for individual purchases would be a noble cause.

Yes, this would level the playing field for US companies in the global marketplace – and smart companies would boost salaries. On the other hand, the action amplifies another problem – the people of the US would be carrying a burden that other citizens in primary markets throughout the world don’t have – thus, a dilemma remains.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 215

On Politics
I find it interesting how former Florida Governor. Jeb Bush’s name has been receiving much attention of late as the frontrunner-for-the-moment regarding the Republican presidential candidacy in 2016.

Recent comparisons of President Obama to President Johnson (LBJ) confuses me.

This Pew Research Center poll provides interesting data about feelings regarding the Affordable Care Act. Although many citizens may have concerns about the law, while one party focuses on its repeal, the other party defends it – thus there doesn’t seem to be much interest in Congress to improve it.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Forbes release 2014 list of most-punchable CEOs
Spider invasion leads to Mazda recall
Alcohol unfairly blamed for local man’s impaired judgment
FedEx confirms more than 600,000 people try to mail themselves each year
Landmark Supreme Court decision lets American cram cash directly into politicians’ mouths

This is not from The Onion, but because Friday is Barbershop Quartet Day, here’s a mid-post dash of humor that’s not for the easier offended. As a time saver, start at 50 seconds.

Interesting Reads
Sweden, Finland, Russia, and NATO
Geopolitics of Energy
Brain waves and tango dancers (Thanks Elyse)
Extinct musical instruments
An LA native spent 4 days in Cincinnati and posted about it
The USS Thresher
Trent’s post about bloggers losing followers

On Potpourri
This week we get an old office chair out with the garbage. Once I heard the garbage truck outside, I looked out the window to see if they took the chair. To my surprise, it was in the street, but in front of my neighbor – so I watched … and then discovered that one of the two workers would sit in the chair and hold on to the truck as the other drove to the next building.

This post by Khamillion is very moving. It’s a short read with awesome images, so I encourage you to visit. Thanks to Cayman (@Drinks Well with Others) for directing me there.

For those who enjoy unique architecture, Cathy (@LargeSelf) shared this link featuring images of the expansion at the Denver Art Museum.

If I can get my act together, I’m hoping Life: The Musical returns next week.

Get ready! … The next post marks the return of Saturday Morning Classic Cartoons!

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Weekend) Youth Service Days
  • (Fri) Barbershop Quartet Day, Day of Silence, Education & Sharing Day, Louie Louie Day, Pet day, Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day, Eight-track Tape Day
  • (Sat) Licorice Day, Big Wind Day, Walk on the Walk Side Day, Slow Art Day, Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, Human Space Flight Day, Drop Everything and Read Day, Look Up in the Sky Day
  • (Sun) Scrabble Day, Baby Massage Day, Peach Cobbler Day

Given the celebrations, two classic songs equally qualify as worthy to send you into the weekend. Because both are worthy of high praise, I will put them in chronological order. Enjoy, have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen, 1963)

.
Walk on the Wild Side (Lou Reed, 1972)

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 205

On Politics
Healthcare.gov, health care rates, cost and availability of health insurance, are related issues – but not the same.

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, I saw it as a start, not an end. Republicans tend to under-regulate while Democrats tend to over-regulate. Given the at best, shaky rollout of healthcare.gov and initial implementation of the law, I hoped each party would step forward to make the law better. Because would stretch each party outside of their comfort zone, fat chance of that occurring.

Insurance companies decreasing their list of physicians is not only problematic and pathetic!

First I wondered why a first-term senator would attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Then I wondered why said senator would ceremoniously protest Raul Castro by walking out of a ceremony honoring a man of reconciliation. Yes, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), that’s you – and staging an action to bring attention to yourself is very unlike Mr. Mandela. I yield my final comment to this great American orator.

A good read about Senator Cruz from the editor of Real Clear Politics.

I enjoyed columnist Dana Milbank’s take on political selfies.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Obnoxious friend won’t stop attaining major life milestones
Eighth grader caked in makeup probably really confident
Poll shows the majority of Americans would watching something called Love Trap
Modern-day Caligula orders Everything Bagel
New attractive person comes to nation’s attention
Encouraging economic report reveals more Americans delusional enough to start their own business

Interesting Reads
The Greatest of Gifts by Sue @ Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary
50 Breakthroughs since the wheel
An ancient Israeli wine cellar found
Three Italian Mountain Towns
Book review about Johann Sebastian Bach
A saga about Coca-Cola’s polar bears

On Potpourri
I have a holiday party for the weekend, which will start very early in my day. After all, I must open the doors early for those in time zones ahead of mine. Your friends are welcome as well … beware … there will be items with names on them.

Plus, don’t forget my annual Christmas Eve posts of video gifts.

For those needing these pertinent holiday tips, The Onion offers these suggestions for decorating a Christmas tree.

Once again, I enjoyed Act 11’s music. Bad News – Time: The Musical will conclude after the first of the year. Good news – A new musical will take its place

Getting Freshly Pressed still brings a smile, but it is work. After all, staying to true form, I respond to all comments and reciprocate many visitors.  Reality is that FP brings a spike in followers and daily hits (temporarily), but maybe a couple of bloggers who may turn into regulars. Juggling FP with holidays, Time: The Musical, these OITS, and preparing for a holiday fest is more than a chore! For those that didn’t know, here’s the post.

Being on the same FP page as Kathy McCullough was an added treat!

Apologies to Bulldog for my careless mistake in Act 11.

I added a new subpage under More Bloggers called Possibilities, which has some new bloggers.

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Human Solidarity Day, Mudd Day, Sangria Day, Underdog Day
  • (Sat) Solstice, Crossword Puzzles Day, Humbug Day, Don’t Be a Scrooge Day, Ann & Samantha Day, Hamburger Day, Kiwi Fruit Day, Yalda, Yule, Flashlight Day, Phileas Fogg Win-a-Wager Day
  • (Sun) Haiku Poetry Day, Date Nut Bread Day

Let’s celebrate going into a weekend with a song from 1968 that reached Billboard’s Top 10. The video has wonderful images to go along with Everything that Touches You by The Association. Who remembers them?

Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 203

On Politics
Last week, Sarah Palin spoke about Pope Francis, “He’s had some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me,” Newsflash to the Nincompoop – Jesus was one of the most liberal people ever! However, she did justify her comment with “… unless I really dig deep into what his messaging is, and do my own homework, I’m not going to just trust what I hear in the media.”

Martin Brashir’s (MSNBC) comments regarding Nincompoop were not only unprofessional and unnecessary, they weren’t worth his time.

Whereas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) isn’t sure Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) GOP brand will sell across America, I don’t believe Gov. Perry’s brand will sell.

Even though Republicans currently have some momentum, I don’t think they can handle it. Here’s columnist Kathleen Parker’s take.

With the Senate changing a rule, the fact that not that long ago roles were reversed, which means what each party says is also reversed. That probably means they did the right thing.

Hmmmm … Senators Graham (R-SC) and McCain (R-AZ) were against Susan Rice becoming Secretary of State, but favor her stance regarding Egypt over Secretary of State John Kerry’s, who they supported for the cabinet post.  (A read here)

Sorry, Mr. President, I disagree. You say the healthcare rollout mess is not about politics, but I say Washington is about politics 99% of the time, and your comment does not fall within the 1 percent.

Although I continue to separate issues regarding healthcare.gov and the law itself, I did notice a spin change from the website will be fixed by November 30th to the website will be working much better by then. To me, the spin is reminiscent of Baghdad Bob’s clueless rhetoric.

Cheers to The Onion for discovering President Obama’s plans for fixing the Affordable Care Act.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Scientists theorize sun could support fire-based life
  • Store manager impressed by new trainee’s ability to ignore customers
  • Man who drinks 5 Diet Cokes per day hoping doctors working on cure for whatever he’s getting
  • Siblings patiently waiting for day they’ll be close to each other
  • Area woman thinking about doing that thin where she’s mean to other women she meets for no reason
  • Mariana Trench once again voted worst place to raise a child

Interesting Reads
A view about moderate Islam
Fish and oral sex
Famines and gender ratios
How superstitions work
Images of insects covered in dew
Images of if they were alive today (Thanks Elyse)

On Potpourri
Given the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, information about November 22, 1963 has been more than bountiful. Interestingly, overshadowed in the news that day was the death of two other famous people: Aldous Huxley (author, Brave New World) and C.S. Lewis (intellectual writer of Christianity)

Here is my 2008 reflection about the Kennedy assassination.

A potential holiday gift for the hard-to-buy person – a WTF stamp (courtesy of The Onion Store)

Say it ain’t so, but someone wants to remake It’s a Wonderful Life.

Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Filipino people. If you can, support relief efforts through the agency of your choice

Dancing with the Stars has been a good season. I always enjoy seeing non-dancers progress, but I don’t like seeing the audience vote causing better dancers to leave.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford should resign and start a consultant agency specializing in damage control for celebrities.

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Start Your Own Country Day, Cranberry Relish Day
  • (Sat) Fibonacci Day (past post), Family Volunteer Day, Aura Awareness Day, Cashew Day, Jukebox Day, Eat a Cranberry Day, You’re Welcome-giving Day
  • (Sun) Brownielocks Day, Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day, DB Cooper Day, Mother Goose Day, Espresso Day

Sorry, no Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend, but there will be a post – a new, occasional series called Take 5. Stop by this weekend for the inaugural post.

Let’s celebrate going into a weekend with a song from my youth. Warning: the ending is a bit monotonous. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 202

On Politics
President Obama is catchy his share of criticism from his “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” comment. To me, it’s a good example of Washington’s preference for politics over policy, and for the poor job done of educating the public about the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this week was Election Day in the USA. Sadly, I’m embarrassed to say that turnout was poor. Maybe moving Election Day to a weekend is a good idea.

Another idea I heard this weekend is an 18-year term limit for US Supreme Court Justices, something I had considered before, but will continue to ponder.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Desperate man hands out resume to trick-or-treaters
Nabisco snack physicists develop highly unstable quadriscuits
Drug kingpin considers buying extravagant mansion
Local teen walks in on family masturbating
Giant burrito to solve all of area man’s problems in six precious minutes
Center of Disease Contraction urges Americans to suck doorknobs

Images worth seeing from The Onion
For the holidays, a Charles Darwin ornament from The Onion Store
A vegetarian option for a menu
Bedtime talk with the Clintons

Interesting Reads
Congress reforming Congress
Death by chocolate: An explanation
Safety posters from the 1930s
Reasons to ignore college rankings by US News & World Report
Cereal impacts on culture
Excellent infographic showing financial mergers since 1996
50 states, 50 sandwiches (a slideshow with short text)

On Potpourri
TeddyToppsWasn’t yesterday’s video about Teddy wonderful! Below is his baseball card, and I’m hoping the family has a card-signing event as a charity fundraiser.

Earlier this week I made my first risotto. Because it was a very tasty success, here’s the recipe.

The testimonials are now on an About subpage. Even though I shortened some, thanks for all for your generous kind words.

Given interest by many, my current plan is posting the handbell premier Tuesday (Monday evening).

For those who dare, Leo (@Doggy’s Style) is having a contest about pick-up lines.

With a huge typhoon pounding the Philippines, prayers and good thoughts for everyone’s safety.

Here are your weekend celebrations

  • (Weekend) Last chance for Intimate Apparel Week
  • (Fri) X-Ray Day, Harvey Wallbanger Day, Ample Time Day, Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
  • (Sat) Scrapple Day, Chaos Never Dies Day, Parade Day
  • (Sun) Area Code Day, Tongue Twister Day, Sesame Street Day, Forget-Me-Not Day, Vanilla Cupcake Day

Sorry, no Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend.

Because a recent announcement has The Eagles returning to Cincinnati for an expensive concert, let’s go into the weekend with an Eagles classic! Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.