On Blog Break May 2018

It’s time for my seasonal blog break. I’m anticipating 3-6 weeks. During that time, I expect a blend of absence and occasional appearances. Before I go, a few random thoughts in the Opinions in the Shorts style.

During my absence, I encourage readers to visit a blog you may not know. You have my right sidebar here for starters and the Blogroll page on the tabs. Tell them I sent you.

ArtWorks announced that Fiona, Cincinnati’s darling hippo, is going to have her own mural. They are also letting the public vote on the design. See the choices here – and yes – you can vote!

For those interested in odd records, this link is about 20 Guinness World Records tied to Cincinnati.

Cheers to the Costco Optical Department for continuing to provide great value for those needing corrective eyewear.

I’m enjoying the hype for the upcoming royal wedding – especially the reports from England about the people and the places. I wonder how much training the bride has done about royal protocol.

Faith Saile did this great report on CBS News comparing American English and British English. It’s worth the 2+ minutes.

Given the hubbub about the Iran nuclear deal, I enjoyed this article to brings issues to light.

Regarding the possibility of the US-North Korea summit, instead of meeting in Singapore, I favor a game of cornhole at the DMZ border. A target on each side of the border is perfect!

Yes – there is a possibility of Donald Trump winning re-election in 2020. I’m raising the possibility from 15% to 35%.

Washington Post’s conservative columnist George Will has never been a President Trump fan – I would say he is more of an antagonist. In this recent column about Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. Will’s closing paragraph was priceless.

There will be negligible legislating by the next Congress, so ballots cast this November will be most important as validations or repudiations of the harmonizing voices of Trump, Pence, Arpaio and the like. Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.

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Here are a few leftover peels from The Onion I have lying around.
Fitbit releases new tracking collar that gets tighter every second you are inactive
Napkinless man with grease-covered fingers realizes he’s trapped in a prison of his own creation
Grandma getting to point she looks like every other grandma
Alcoholic parent easy to shop for
Scientists create artificial placenta that tastes just as delicious as real one
Breakfast in bed served to mom who just eaten out

Interesting Reads
The early days of Israel
The adaptive jaguar
Can Artificial Intelligence doom humans?
Sacred spaces and the 21st century
The dominant lens company
(Pictures) The neon blue tide

To send you into my blog break, enjoy this short song from the electric sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Remember to visit other blogs on my list! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 361

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A string of warm weather has finally arrived in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, I lost the color I gained from 6-weeks in Alabama (mid-January through February).

Golf league season is underway. Fortunately, the weather was great … and given my 1-day preparation, I did OK.

The new season of Dancing With the Stars has started. Having all athletes competing is interesting, but a big thumbs down on the 4-week format.

Last weekend we saw Treasure Island as a play. Very enjoyable.

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A friend ask this question: Why to Trump supporters blindly accept what he says and does? To me, the answer is obvious – His supporters are willing to

accept anything and everything about Donald Trump because he is not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama … and this also explains why Republicans continue to campaign against Clinton and Obama.

Politics and citizens are spending too much time pointing fingers at the opposition – as opposed to taking ownership of their role in the problem and the solution.

Comedian Michelle Wolf headlined the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner. In my opinion, she had some good jokes, but also crossed the line.

Regardless of the person holding the office, I can’t imagine everything that a US President has to do. Journalist John Dickerson offers an interesting look at the duties and expectations of the one occupying the Oval Office.

Pew Research released an interesting study about what Americans see as ideals and their perception of reality around those ideals.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for travelling solo.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nutritionists reveals human with proper diet should not be defecating
Stressed lab rat breaking out in human ears (Image explains)
3-year old pretending stuffed animals having big fight about accidental pregnancy
Tornado creeped out by man who keeps following it in truck and filming it
E. coli ready to treat itself to some beef after weeks of nothing but salad

Interesting Reads
A unique language
Shifting sands
A view of biodefense
The last man who knew everything
Early cosmos activity 
A look at the Heller decision regarding guns
(Photos) A visit to Socotra

To send you into the weekend, enjoy one of my favorites by Harry Chapin. 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. 333

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The aFa Short Story Challenge (Footprints in the Sand) is on final approach. Thanks to those who reblogged the challenge in their blog. I will publish my story on July 10th at 12:15 am (Eastern US). Participants will link to that post (NOT the Challenge post). For those who didn’t see the challenge, click here.

Cheers to the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for another wonderful Fourth of July concert. Interestingly, a three-quarters moon was displaying itself directly behind the fireworks.

We are watching the latest season of House of Cards. Through episode 9 was slow – very slow! … but the pace is starting to pick up as the house seems to the ready to tumble.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the Seychelles Islands (in the Indian Ocean), and I don’t think I’ve encountered a Seychellian blogger … but I know two people who are currently here. From the views from this video, it appears to be a paradise.

So far, I’m comfortable with my random posting schedule.

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I wished I would have saved it, but last week I read an article that mentioned the Democrats top two strategies, which caused me to shake my head.

The previous I displayed the letter I sent to my representative (an R) regarding the health care & insurance issue in the U.S. Last week I wrote the following to one of my senators, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

Senator Portman,
On Twitter you stated. “Let me know what you think.” about the recently proposed Senate health care. Your dilemma lies in this predicament. If you are representing your party, you should vote YES because partisanship and political gain is of utmost important. If you are representing the best interest of the people, you should vote NO because health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain. Because of the importance of health care and health care insurance, doing what is best for the people requires a bipartisan effort. That is the challenge.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman rearranging condiments in refrigerator door like puzzle in ancient tomb
Queen Elizabeth kicks off Wimbledon by serving ceremonial first ace of tournament
Man on internet almost falls into world of DIY mustard enthusiasts
Housefly drops everything to go stand on watermelon slice
Dolphin spends amazing vacation swimming with stockbroker
This stool shall pass

Interesting Reads
Understanding the latest fossils of human origins
50 things about the US Founding Fathers
Humans aren’t nutritious eating
3-D printed ovaries fight infertility
(Photo Gallery) Empty railways in America

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a fun song that you may not know that comes from my cousins. It’s an Italian classic from 1972. Although not in Italian, it’s meant to sound like English, but actually the lyrics are pure gibberish – except for two words. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On an Election Day Primer

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Tuesday is Election Day … and day that many of us have been anticipating for a long time. In my opinion, our process is too long and too expensive. That aside, it remains an important day. I encourage all to vote with their head.

To many people – a mixture of independents and partisans – this election has been a national embarrassment. One of my fears is that this may become the new normal. Even though embarrassing, I encourage people to vote, and not leaving their ballot blank. If that means holding your nose in the voting booth, just do it.

This election has been so goofy, so undignified, so disrespectful, …. there is only one way (for me) to post a primer leading into Election Day … and that’s with The Onion! Enjoy!!!! … Combos are welcomed! … Any favorites?

The Onion looks back with this timeline about the election …. and a few headlines for a laugh. After all, many of us can use one.

Nation’s still-undecided voters: “Help! We can’t get our car seatbelts off.”

Trump makes last-minute push to appeal to whites

Michelle Obama tosses a bunch of Barack’s old number 44 jerseys

Undecided voter waiting until he hears the same responses for the seventh time before making a decision

Trump raises concern over members of urban communities voting more than zero times

Anthony Weiner sends apology sext to entire Clinton campaign

Intergalactic law enforcement places energy shackles on Hillary Clinton

Trump complains entire personality is against him

New heavy-duty voting machine allows Americans to take out frustrations on it before casting vote

Teary-eyed Tim Kaine asks Clinton if his hair will grow back before Election Day

Mike Pence visits small town hit hard by kids seeing R-rated movies

Nation puts 2016 election in perspective by reminding itself some species of sea turtles get eaten by birds just seconds after they hatch

Trump hold strategy meeting with campaign’s top militia leaders ahead of the election

Clinton delivers stump speech in Moscow warehouse in effort to appeal to Russian hackers

Election Day is the only time most Americans in same room with person support other candidate

Anthropologists discover isolated tribe of joyful Americans in remote village untroubled by 2016 election.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 287

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A major snow storm is forming in the central US and aiming at the major cities on the eastern seaboard. It appears (at the publish time) the brunt of the storm will pass to the south of Cincinnati … but that could change. Good luck to everyone affected.

We saw the movie Carol. Very interesting and I can see how critics love the movie. Although the setting was New York City in the 1950s, it was filmed here in Cincinnati – so my eyes were on the constant lookout for familiar sights.

I didn’t know that Iranian women can drive and vote – something that Saudi women cannot.

St. Louis lost another sports team as the Rams leave the Gateway Arch city for more lucrative offer in Los Angeles. The NFL is a money-making machine, and each team is worth in billions. I don’t know the stadium deal in LA, but I do know that teams have held (and continue to hold) their city and county governments hostage to build them a stadium for their product. What a shame.

I recently started a second volunteer project as I attend a Senior Living complex for an hour of ballroom. The lady attendees don’t move well, but their smiles are priceless.

We enjoyed this lemon risotto recipe by Rachael Ray.

Although far from perfect, no doubt in my mind that player on-court sportsmanship is much better in basketball than football.

Hats off to ML Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for allowing the Cincinnati Reds to induct Pete Rose into the team’s Hall of Fame, retire his number, and place a statue on the plaza outside the stadium … all of which his peckerhead predecessor wouldn’t consider.

Although some spotted the preview announcement on the Hear Ye page. Opening Night for Colors: The Musical is January 26th, curtain time at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). All songs must include Black in the song title, but not compound words containing black. Shades of black are also unacceptable. The Hear Ye page also contains information about other acts and the awesome Marina-designed Playbill cover. Resa is also offering her wardrobe-design services for this gala event.

I’ve seen several segments of the CNN special The Person Who Changed My Life (this Sunday, 8 pm, Eastern US). I hope to record to watch later, thus encourage readers to turn in.

There will be an Explore this weekend – and I will say it’s not a person, not a place … but a thing.

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I imagine the majority of the people of Iowa can’t wait for the circus to leave town.

A question I would want to ask the Republican candidates: If you don’t believe that humans have influenced climate change, would you reduce the research efforts of governmental groups as NASA and NOAA who support these findings?

Here are the fact checks for the most-recent Republican debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

… and the most-recent Democratic debate: Politifact, Annenberg Fact Check, Associated Press, Washington Post.

This Monday, CNN is hosting a Democratic Town Hall event with the 3 seeking the party’s nomination. Yep – I won’t be watching, thus my record will remain perfect.

Other than via comments on these pages, I ran into the first person who is also unhappy with the fact that our governor is drawing a salary while running for president … and I didn’t prompt the suggestion.

Sarah Palin (R-AK) (aka The Nincompoop) returns to the news cycle to endorse Donald Trump (R-NY) … perfect!

Meanwhile, dysfunction continues in The Nincompoop family. After her son’s arrest for domestic violence, The Nincompoop placed the blame on President Obama … Classic Nincompoopian … and priceless.

Something to ponder: Is Sarah Palin a celebrity or a politician?

To lead you toward the weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips on arranging a funeral.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Kind Of music that’s playing indicates movie character must be entering Italy
NCAA investigating God for giving athletes gifts
Naughty EpiPen reveals naked lady when injected
Bungled Apocalypse causes light drizzle over Southern Ohio
Porn DVD’s commentary track just more moaning
Drummer forced to retrieve sticks from audience for encore

Interesting Reads
The Stormtrooper army
The dogs that protect little penguins
Saudi women
Vintage vending machines (Thanks, Tim)
The global movement of money
That many in the human body! Really?
(Pictures) Three colors

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. 286

As a wine enthusiast, this 15-second commercial for Ally Bank makes me laugh. (Not the best sound on this one) – but I don’t know why Ally Bank doesn’t post it on their YouTube channel.

After watching two current movies, I see a strong connection between two unlikely films – The Big Short and Concussion … and I recommend both films.

For those who enjoy a good fireworks display, I enjoyed the New Year’s display from London. Click here for a a fun 11 minutes.

Did you see the preview of the major announcement on the Hear Ye page?

The attacks this week in Istanbul and Jakarta are troubling. Unfortunately, I fear the world is going to be dealing with this problem for more years than we want … no matter what Washington does.

In order to quicken the pace on improving my handbell skills, I started practicing with the second choir at our church this week. Their music is easier, so I can work on my technique and get back to reading music. I see it as a boot camp to sharpen my skills for a few weeks.

There will be an Explore this weekend.

Thank you readers, especially those who don’t follow sports, for tolerating my vent on the previous post.

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The first 10 minutes of the State of the Union (SOTU) was on (while I was blogging) because my wife was watching. The partisanship of the event drives me nuts. I wish all the members in the audience would quietly and respectfully sit and listen from start to finish … but that’s asking a bit too much from our elected officials.

I’m glad President Obama included the partisan gridlock in the SOTU. (I read this portion of the transcript after seeing the news reports.) Although the Republican caucus makes it difficult, I openly wonder about the White House’s role in the obstruction.

For those thinking I only pick on Republicans, below are the fact-checks of President Obama’s State of the Union … here is the speech’s transcript … (and the fact checks) Politifact,  Annenberg Fact Check,  Associated PressWashington Post

As Donald Trump (R-NY) questions Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) citizenship, I say the Democrats should not address this issue now or in the future. Don’t stoop that low! Should the question be answered? Absolutely – but not by those with a political motive. I say the Republican Party should launch the initiative to determine the answer – but I very much doubt that will happen.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) needs votes, so he pouts and declines to participate in the lower-tier debate. Now that makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of Mr. Trump, I listened to much of two of his speeches. I encourage others to do so, but I won’t say why.

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To lead you into The Onion, here is their list of pros and cons regarding helicopter parenting.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pope Francis Wearing Sweater Vestments He Got For Christmas (I like the picture)
Emotional NRA President honors victims of background checks
Minimalism Overdone
Study Links Binge Eating To Stress, Contentment, Depression, Joy, Boredom, Anger, Relaxation
New Survey Reveals Chicken-Fried Steak Leads Pork-Fried Pork As Nation’s Favorite Meat-Fried Meat

Interesting Reads
For the political junkies, a Republican’s view of the party’s 2016 options
A public-union case at the US Supreme Court
A short primer to understanding Islam (Thanks Jim W)
David Bowie’s life in pictures
Gene editing: the positives and negatives
In his own words: How a gym teacher invented basketball in 1891
Is China scared of ghost films?

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