Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 334

Cincinnati Zoo image

This is one of the first family pictures of Fiona with her parents (Harry and Bibi). For whatever reason, I see The Simpsons in this photo. Fiona continues to make great progress as well as integrating with her parents. For more photos and information, see these short updates from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Thanks for writers and readers involved with the Footprints Challenge. I appreciated the variety of the 14 stories (to date), which included 3 from newcomers (a pleasant surprise) – although my intent was not to expand my audience. A toast to the Canadian contingent that provided 5 stories. Special thanks to Dale who read and commented on all the stories.

If all goes as planned, a beach walk should return next week.

We recommend the movie Baby Driver. It was fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, and loaded with music accompanying the action.

The Middle East has been an unsettled mess for many years. Here are three articles worth readings: by Marc Ginsberg, by Aaron David Miller, and by the Washington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RJA-KY) says that (if the Senate bill fails) he will have to work with Democrats to strengthen the health care insurance market. I have two comments: Too damn bad, Mitch … and … No shit, Sherlock.

Yes, gerrymandering of district lines is a problem now, and has always been a problem. Democrats complaining about it forget they are also guilty; and Republicans forget they would also be complaining if the Democrats did the same thing.

I found this statement more than odd when I first heard it and it has stuck with me ever since. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (Donald Trump, July 27, 2016)

Got to love this one. President Trump recently described his performance as having done “more in five months than practically any president in history.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how to recover from embarrassing situations.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mariana Trench once again named worst place to raise a child
New iPhone app alerts users to imminent sidewalk collisions with other iPhone users
done more in five months than practically any president in history
Blindfolded taste test participants keep knocking over bottles of soda
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food that has been sitting in sun for past 4 hours

Interesting Reads
European migration with Europe
Contrasting capitalism: Apple and Google
The underwater world of Antarctica
The road of 1000 stories
Big Ben: The bell
(Photos) Weird but amazing bridges

For your weekend entertainment, this is not my favorite mashup of dancing scenes from old movies, but it is a lot of fun – and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling fits. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 333

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.

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.”

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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 332

When I published my return post, it was nice to see the spike on the graph of daily statistics. More importantly, it was great get to comments from friends all of the world. Thanks to all for the kind words and welcoming return.

I hope to announce a writing challenge in the next edition of this series.

Baby Fiona, (Cincinnati Zoo’s rock star baby hippo) continues to make great progress. Fiona now has a beer named after her, she is featured in a set of playing cards (we have), and continues to be a media darling. She does not regularly appear at the zoo’s exhibit, but she is making great progress bonding with her mother (Bibi) and father (Henry). Below are several links for videos.

With Amazon bid to purchase Whole Foods, this short clip (1-minute) is perfect.

 

In a pile of recyclable materials at a recycling center, what color do you think is the most dominant? (Answer later in this post.)

My wife and I are still enjoying ballroom dancing. Big news would be that we have changed instructors, and a big thumbs-up to our new one.

Did you know:

  • Otto Warmbier, the college student detained in North Korea who returned to the US in a coma and then died within days, was a Cincinnatian. I happened to be in his community the day before his funeral … and the trees lining the streets had blue and white ribbons tied around them.
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the congressman who first attended to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at the unfortunate, despicable shooting, is my representative.

Cardboard brown from all the shipping boxes is the most common color in a recycling pile. This has changed through the years, and given all the online purchasing people do today, this shouldn’t be surprising.

American politics is not only frustrating, but is also has become a waste of my time and energy. It reminds of playground squabbles in order to see who gets their way, which actually solves nothing more than determining who gets their way – but this doesn’t mean I’m completely disengaging! No matter the political party, this is what I hear when politicians talk.

I’m no longer listing items for blaming former President Obama because (by now) realizes that he is responsible for everything wrong in the world over the past 10 years and for all ills to come over the next 30 years.

President Trump is a bully who disregards the institution and traditions of government because he thinks he is king.

After the House vote on the Republican-written health care law (AHCA) designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), I wrote these words to Rep. Wenstrup after the Cincinnati Enquirer published his column.

Thank you for sharing your story of the health issues in your family as well as your point of view concerning the ACA and the AHCA. You should know that as a political independent, I characterize your “Yes” vote for the AHCA without an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office as incompetent and a prime example of favoring the interest of your party over serving the best interests of the people in our district and all Americans. Health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how cell phones have changed our lives.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Health scare prompts man to overeat healthier
Earth ranked as number 1 party planet
New study finds no long-term health benefits
Man pulling on loose hangnail slowly unravels skin from entire body
Beauty industry exec keeps photo of crying 15-year-old girl on desk to remind himself why he does this

Interesting Reads
Sagan’s baloney detection kit
Continued fascination with Phineas Gage
Tree-climbing goats
A personal view of cystic fibrosis and the benefits of research
(Photos) 91 picture of 91 years of Queen Elizabeth II

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that you may not know. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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. 330

Last week I finished leading a short (2-week) Sunday school class titled The Crossroad between Science and Religion. Two sessions are only enough time to introduce the topic – or as I said during the first class, “This week is the introduction to the Preface.” Nonetheless, I think the sessions gave attendees something to ponder.

I’ve been working on a slideshow that will accompany a handbell piece on Easter Sunday. The director loved it, so now it’s down to the fine tuning. I hope to find someone to take a video with the images and the music so we can post it on YouTube. If that happens, I’ll post it here.

March Madness continues as this weekend’s round will dwindle from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four. One local team remains (Xavier), so good luck Muskies. On the downside, my Bearcats ran into an explosive UCLA team that is very good.

This week we got the news of the passing of TV personality and producer Chuck Barris at age 87. I thought The Gong Show was a hoot – especially The Unknown Comic and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

Many readers enjoyed meeting Fiona. Big news this week as she reached 100 pounds (45 kg).

We were happy with the Season 23 debut of Dancing with the Stars. Looks like a strong crop of competitors this time.

My wife says “Thanks” for last week’s birthday wishes!

No Saturday post this weekend.

From what I saw during the confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch impressed me. Sure he made statements I with which I disagreed. Yes, he followed the tradition dancing around questions. Too bad these hearings focus on political theater with the partisans preferring a court favoring their view over a genuine court for all Americans. Nonetheless, I stand against nominees in the name of playing “Last Judge Standing.”

The American Health Care Act (the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act) will eventually pass Congress because of the self-imposed pressure on Republicans.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The FBI not finding wiretapping evidence
North Korea’s failed rocket launch
People thinking Viking helmets had horns
Some professional basketball players believing in a flat earth
Dysfunction among Republicans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for home repairs. http://www.theonion.com/infographic/home-repair-tips-55167

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mugger Chooses Man Whistling ‘Come On Eileen’
Newly discovered journal entries reveal Sacagawea’s repeated attempts to ditch Lewis and Clark
Toddler looking for sensible mid-ranged tricycle
God seeking to crack down on souls smuggling drugs into heaven
Part of man wonders what it would be like to fall through floor into downstairs apartment
Styrofoam cup from Omaha excited to finally see Pacific Ocean

Interesting Reads
The mind and false beliefs
Myths about mammals and their swimming abilities
A brief guide to the French elections
Partisanship, ideology, and generation gaps
A biography of an early patriot: Patrick Henry
(Video) Kinky snail sex
(Photos) Architectural awards for future projects

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 1984 hit … and oh I had a crush on this lady. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 329

This past week has been cold in Cincinnati and across the eastern half of the country. At least that big snowstorm missed us.

Last weekend our handbell choir attended a regional festival with almost 400 ringers. The event starts late afternoon Friday and goes until late afternoon Saturday. Given so much time there, a time change, and our prepared song for church not quite ready, our director cancelled us playing on Sunday – which was a big relief to all of us. We will continue to work on the piece as we will try to work it into a service before we break for the summer.

Because we wanted to see it before it closes sometime in April, this week we visited the Vikings: Beyond the Legend travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Thumbs up – but I don’t know the exhibits future schedule. I didn’t know they spoke Vikinese, invented Vicodin, and knew to blame Obama. Here’s the link to the Cincinnati exhibit; plus, I hope to post about it in the future.

Have you considered banana pancakes for your weekend? Watch to see what I mean.

At the last weekend’s festival, a guest choir played a concert where I heard this beautiful piece of a popular song that you probably know. I invite you to listen.

My wife gets to celebrate her birthday on a holiday – and St. Patrick’s Day is here. Happy Birthday!

Some readers enjoyed the timeline link from The Atlantic. In honor of my wife’s birthday, here’s the link again.

Reminder: Sunday is Buzzard Day – the day the buzzards return to Hinckley.

I will have a Saturday post – which will be one for Resa’s month-long dedication to kids.

Not only do I want answers to the charges of wiretapping at Trump Tower, I want some heads to roll – whomever it may be.

Predictable statements from the White House and each political party followed the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The interpretations are different enough causing one to wonder if they read the same report. Then again, they love to make a nonpartisan report partisan. In their attempt to appease the partisans, I say “Happy cherry picking, jackasses.”

Readings about the health care bill

One would think that our elected officials could find some common group to solve a problem – but that would require listening, not walking with tugging sacred cows, thinking outside the box, and seeking for the common good of constituents. Yep – old colloquialism “fat chance” is very applicable.

Did anyone notice there is a new party-of-no in town?

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
A stretch of cold weather after a very mild winter
The Congressional Budget Office being nonpartisan
Fig tree problems in Italy
Behavior of TSA agents
My attitude toward our politicians

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a public service by providing tips to keep your personal information secure.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation Leery Of Very Odd Little Boy
Area man thinks he’s better than uneducated wife beater
Police satisfied when local drunk man assures them there is no problem
Happily married, 100 percent heterosexual father of three had that doggone dream again
Scientists discover existence of Homo Sapien subspecies which enjoys and is influenced by Red Bull ads

Interesting Reads
Issues holding back driverless cars
FDR’s floating White House
Police chiefs, sanctuary cities, and decreasing crime
Brain activity and those who don’t like music
Debunking 9 myths about Hinduism
(Photo essay) Geometry and architecture
(Photos with brief descriptions) The beauty of Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains

This past Wednesday was the Ides of March, so this is the only way to send you into the weekend. 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.