Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 341

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Last week we attended live theater 3 nights in a row: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, An Evening with Groucho, and Cabaret. The first two were at the Cincinnati Playhouse where we usher, and the later was a community theater production.

We saw the latest movie rendition of Murder on the Orient Express. If you don’t know who did it, it’s a good (not great) who-done-it movie … but I thought the beginning was too slow.

Last week our handbell choir played Fantasy on an Irish Tune (one many will recognize). For those enjoying handbell music, here’s a recording (not us) of the song, one that we had only a short time to prepare. Meanwhile, this week we started the preparing for a busy December.

If you appreciate outdoor murals, see these extraordinary works. (Thanks to Raye for leading me to these.)

College basketball season is underway. With two strong teams in my city (that are only 3.5 miles/5.6 km apart), expectations are high – especially after a lousy football season.

Sharing our British Isles cruise will continue this weekend – and the end should be before the next edition of OITS. The next post will feature the biggest surprise of the trip.

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I’m awaiting responses from both my Republican Representative Wenstrup and Republican Senator Portman to the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, or Texas: No matter the location of a mass shooting, a common Republican soundbite describe the result as “a mental health issue.” What has your party – Republicans – done to address the issue since December 14, 2012? (As of this posting, no answer from either person.)

Seems Congress is aiming for a temporary tax cut … sunset provisions are not tax reform! Then again, much of what they are doing isn’t reform, just mere tinkering with the existing system. The Republicans are stuck between a pushy president and the desperate need to do something. So, they have backed themselves into the corner and can’t make good politics out of bad policy. On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with only saying “No” because they can’t develop a message of a better way.

A divisive president, partisan-driven Congress, and the blind rhetoric of partisan voters has turned me into more fervent independent than I was before. I enjoyed this article from Pew Research Center and the interactive (also from Pew) I listed in Interesting Reads below.

Now this is a classic. A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry referred to President Trump as an “old lunatic” – so President Trump responded, Why would Kim Jong-un called me “old”?

Not to be outdone, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh offered this head-banging-against-the-wall  defense for Senator Roy Moore (R-AL): “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers a list of ways to make a difference your local community.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Toddler scientists finally determine number of peas that can fit in the ear canal
Neither boss nor employee paid enough to deal with each other
Flu takes down biggest guy in the office as warning to rest of staff
Doctors discover the purpose of appendix is to contain human soul
90% of bike accidents preventable by buying a car

Interesting Reads
Relationships: Saudi Arabia and its neighbors
How Cincinnati made the JFK files
People and information
Glass terrarium that changed the world
The most painted woman in the world
(Interactive) Political polarization in the US since 1994
(Photos) Facts about sunsets

For your weekend entertainment, here’s Sir Paul performing another classic Beatles song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 340

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Sorry to interrupt the cruise tour of the British Isles, but think of Opinions in the Shorts as a cruise day without a port. So far we’ve visited Guernsey, Cork, Cobh, and Dublin. Do you have a favorite? Liverpool is the next stop sometime Saturday.

Last week I forgot to mention the passing of Henry, Fiona’s father. Henry was up in age (36) for a hippo, had a hard time fighting an infection that eventually led to kidney failure. Here’s a positive column at the hippo family from the Cincinnati Enquirer focusing on Henry.

Two weeks to go on the current season of Dancing With The Stars. There is no question in my mind that Jordan Fisher is the best dancer. The question: Will the fan voting validate that point?

We the movie LBJ. We enjoyed it, but I’m not sure how long it will stay in theaters.

It’s Cincinnati Pizza Week … and as of this writing, we have yet to participate. 😦

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Some say that Tuesday’s election served as an anti-Trump referendum. My thoughts on that point.

  • Not only are some voters predictable partisan, another slice is fickle – fluid – always changing with the flow.
  • New Jersey: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Republican in a solid Democratic state. NOPE
  • Virginia: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Democrat in a state won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. NOPE.
  • Virginia: Democrats unseating 15 Republicans in the state Legislature. BINGO!
  • Maine: Voters solidly passed Medicaid expansion over objections from their Republican governor. YAHTZEE! … at least in terms of health care.

Last week’s shooting at a church in Texas brings forth numerous emotions: including the typical Republican response saying the situation is not a gun issue, but a mental health issue – which sparks me to ask two questions: What have the Republicans done to address mental health issues in the past 10 years? Why haven’t the Democrats pushed the Republicans on their own words?

I looked at the GOP tax-form postcard. Whereas the current tax form follows a list-to-list-then-calculate format, card filers must complete calculations “off” the postcard before entering a value. In other words, simplifying the process and the code is a ruse – but it is in need of a thorough review!

About the tax plan, I liked this article from Politico.

Several weeks ago I watched an interview with columnist Thomas Friedman. I like his analogy (and I paraphrase). Donald Trump and many of his supporters are first paragraph people. The first paragraph states a position as “get rid of (fill in the blank)” (NAFTA, the Iran Nuclear Deal, or whatever). But when faced with the “then-what” question, they don’t have an answer because there isn’t a second or third paragraph.

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man resolves to read the Wikipedia tabs he has already open before starting new ones
Woman wearing jacket indulging in forbidden pleasure of having pockets
Excitement shifts to concern after coworker brings baked goods into office for fourth consecutive day
Styrofoam to spend next 500 years reflecting on how well it protected blender in transport
Office bad boy sees right through team-building exercise

Interesting Reads
Linking forensics and doll houses
The power of Calypso music
Dodger Stadium: The communities it replaced
The Lady Gaga of the 1920s
Science transforming the world
US cars is Japan

For your weekend entertainment, here’s another classic that still sounds great today. Besides, the next cruise stop is Liverpool. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 339

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Well, the handbell monstrous piece is over – finally over – and at least out of our folder of music (although I fear it will return). We played it OK – but not our best – probably better from the director’s position than from mine. I gave us a C. Now we race to prepare a piece for an upcoming November service (1 more rehearsal), followed by the hectic month of December with the Christmas services.

Congratulations to the Houston Astros for winning baseball’s World Series. What a great thrill for a city still a long way from recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

The double elimination on Dancing With the Stars most definitely was a Halloween surprise.

I’m making headway with the vacation posts; so one may appear this weekend.

Many of heard the saying “all politics are local.” We attended a Meet the Candidates night of city council candidates. Even local politicians seem to have a way of not answering questions. Yep – I say, Throw the bums out – so I will not be voting for any of the 3 incumbents.

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On initial assessment, I like the Republican idea of decreasing contributions to 401(k) accounts. As a matter of fact, I could be more aggressive. But they seem to have given up on the idea.

Last week I listed 10 verbs of President Trump’s leadership style. Here’s one more – forgetting.

Republicans say tax reform would grow the economy by 10%. News Flash! Growing from 1% to 1.1% will not take care of the tax reform plans debt. Therefore, 3-to-5% growth in the current GDP (from President Trump’s own Council of Economic Advisors) through the corporate tax cuts would be minuscule … and all that is different than tripling the growth to 3% (said by others). So then, why the disparity – even within the same party?

For those wanting President Trump’s impeachment, I say, Be careful what you wish for.

I will not be surprised if the newly released Kennedy assassination papers indicate Obama was at fault … Who else could have work with Oswald in such secrecy? Now that’s a powerful and destined 2-year-old.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the most popular Halloween costumes for couples.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Delirious koala hasn’t slept for 72 straight minutes
Most incompetent office worker once again shines at office Halloween party
Startling reports indicates Democrats may have attempted to influence 2016 election
Man wouldn’t have worn costume to work if he’d known he was getting laid off
Alpha trick-or-treater established by third house

Interesting Reads
Protestantism 500 years later
Leonidas of Rhodes
Dark matter & Halloween
Making Mt. Rushmore
Hardy spuds
Spanish Celtics

For your weekend entertainment, fortunately those no longer with us left their music. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 338

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Carefully observers have noticed that my posting has been a bit erratic and my responding to comments has been very slow. This has been primarily due to the time spent working on the situation of an out-of-town aunt. Thanks to all for being patient, understanding, and caring.

Phase 2 (of 3) in preparing an aunt’s house for sale is complete – so 3+ hour trips should not be as numerous as we enter Phase 3. Phase 2 was definitely the most critical and the most time-consuming .. and we proudly check that box!

I’m hoping November will be better for blogging (visiting and posting) than October.

A milestone: I’ve started the process of receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Blink Cincinnati was an unbelievable success. Hopefully several posts in the future.

Readers here know I enjoy posting about murals in Cincinnati – primarily the ones by ArtWorks. Here’s an article from the New York Times about public art. Thanks Raye!

It’s possible that the song below is the hardest handbell piece our choir has ever played. Our one-shot performance is approaching, so time will tell. “Mixed meter” is a musical term for a piece with different time signatures within the piece. This piece (the one we are playing) changes timing over 75 times. Now that plays havoc on my nerves.

Because this weekend marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two related articles are in this week’s Interesting Reads.

This season of Dancing With the Stars continues to surprise me. Actor Jordan Fisher and musician Lindsey Stirling have been exceptional. Television personality Vanessa Lachey continues to shine. Actor Frankie Muniz, wrestler Nikki Bella, ESPN’s Victoria Arlen are solid, while Property Brother Drew Scott and athlete Terrell Own continue to improve.

Contrary to some partisans, the situation involving scumbag Harvey Weinstein is not a political issue.

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A tip of the cap to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA for at least trying to develop a bipartisan agreement regarding the Affordable Care Act – even co-sponsored by 24 senators. Another proposal from a bipartisan group on the House side faces similar obstacles: a group representing slightly less than 10% of the House of Representatives.

I have no problem with a Congressional committee investigating the sale of US uranium mines to Russians ONCE – not over and over – not as a dragged-on affair trying to find something that isn’t – not as a political witch hunt.

I liked this question regarding North Korea and nuclear weapons: Would you rather live with North Korea having nuclear weapons or have thousands killed in the name of stopping North Korea from having weapons?

After 9 months in office, President Trump uses the following strengths to lead the country: bolivating, exaggerating, lying, blaming, defecting, distorting, denying, ignoring, fabricating, and dividing. Cheers to this CNN commercial about two popular fruits.

Erick Erickson is definitely a conservative, but I appreciate his words about the way President Trump is reacting to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

But sometimes the President should be Presidential and getting in the mud is not. The people of Puerto Rico are hungry, thirsty, homeless, and fearful. They won’t hear a lot about President Trump’s twitter fight and it won’t matter to him because they cannot participate in the Electoral College. It should matter to all of us though that the President is so willing to get in the mud and fight back when the mayor and everyone else in Puerto Rico need our empathy and compassion. Sometimes the President just does not need to dial-up the jackass and sometimes he does not need to be defended.

Cheers to recent comments by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) for having the guts to call it like it is. Then again, that’s a meager minority.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for organizing a protest.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
New evidence reveals Pythagoras wrote dozens of unhinged conspiracy theories about triangles
Romantic gesture too expensive to waste on current girlfriend
Nation demands more slow-motion footage of running basset hounds
Article nauseous from constant scrolling
Self-conscious panda swears it overheard zookeeper refer to it as “Giant”
Historians discover meditation spread from Ancient China by annoying monk who wouldn’t shut up about how it changed his life

Interesting Reads
Martin Luther and Literacy
Robots and ethics: teachable?
Odd pet behaviors
Historical aspects of doughnuts
Martin Luther’s impact
(Photos) British Press Photographer Awards

For your weekend entertainment, hooray for an early contribution from the Fab Four. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 336

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Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria along with the earthquake in Mexico have created much havoc in this part of the world. I encourage all readers to give to a charity of their choice that assists in recovery efforts.

I recently discovered Charity Navigator, a website rating many charitable organizations on their finances; including administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, accountability, transparencies and the percentage of donations that go into programs. Take a look.

Last week my wife’s side of the family recently gathered for a week along Lake Michigan. The town (Grand Haven, MI) has a fountain sitting high and across the river from the town – and this is a musical fountain – one choreographing water and lights to music.

Fiona surpassed 500 pounds. Keep in mind that she was born 6 weeks early at 29 pounds – and the zoo raised her without much guidance from other zoos.

October is going to be a busy month for us as we deal with the elderly aunt – so my presence will be inconsistent.

Several years I ago I was ride high with good seasons from my 3 football teams (2 college and 1 pro). I describe the 2018 edition of the same 3 teams as not-very-good, bad, and worse … how quickly things can change.

Dancing With the Stars is off to a good start with a strong cast. As a whole, the cast is very likable. The weakest and strongest competitors are obvious, but a large portion of the cast has room to develop into a contender.

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The recent fervor regarding football teams and the national anthem has caused many to wince and wonder in a variety of ways. Contrary to what others think, the action has nothing to do with disrespecting the country; nothing to do with disrespecting the flag; nothing to do with disrespecting the military; nothing to do with disrespecting first responders. This article from Polifact is interesting.

After the previously failed vote repealing the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) he was “willing to work with Democrats” …. then he sponsored the latest repeal effort (which at posting time) appears to be doomed.

Not long ago concerning an issue, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) described the solution coming from the center to find a majority – therefore avoiding the extremes. Although a good idea, I’m not convinced there are enough in the Congressional middle to create a majority.

As Republicans look toward tax reform as the next big issue, I won’t be surprised if they forego the normal legislative path. Meanwhile, the current posturing by both sides involves partisan distortion around facts that don’t exist.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for remaining calm during an emergency.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Facebook vows not to hand over users’ medical records to government
Hydra decides to see doctor about painful ingrown head
Archaeologists discover fully intact 17th century belief system in Ohio congressman
Food purchased as souvenir tragically revealed to be available back home
Asian-American actress struggles with being typecast as Sherlock Holmes
Partridges frozen to pear trees
All Else fails

Interesting Reads
Is “scared to death” possible
Genetics and human evolution
Questioning lager beer’s origin
King John’s lost jewels
(Gallery) Pictures in nature from the first round 2017 National Geographic Photographer of the Year Contest 

For your weekend entertainment, enjoy the Fab Four classic sung by Sir Paul. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 335

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Hard to believe, but the previous edition of OITS was on July 14th! I’m overdue!!!!

Fiona, Cincinnati’s favorite baby hippo, continues to do well. Besides being a media darling, Graeter’s (one of the best ice creams on the planet) made a limited-edition flavor in her (Fiona’s) honor: Chunky Chunky Hippo – a toffee ice cream base containing salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. YUM! Meanwhile, click here to see the Fiona updates from the zoo with some great pictures. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

This summer was a tough golf season for me because I could establish any consistency – especially in the weekly golf league. Then again, how my opponent plays also influences the outcome. Somehow I qualified for the final 4. I didn’t play well in the semi-finals, but my opponent couldn’t close the deal – so I hung around to win on the last hole. Off to the finals I went where I cruised to victory!

September always brings a change in my routine. Volunteering and handbells get started and working into my schedule of ballroom dance, working part-time at the golf course, ushering at plays, and whatever else comes our way. One handbell piece we are working on may be the hardest yet for us – so it will be interesting to see we (the choir) can get it ready to perform.

There are many things to get riled up about in the world, and statues of Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War is not one of them for me.

Thumbs up to two totally different movies: Dunkirk and The Big Sick. Our first play of the season was a theater version of Shakespeare in Love. (Remember the movie?) … another thumbs up.

For those who enjoyed this post about doors earlier this week, do you remember similar posts involving many pictures of Italy?

Instead of displaying the Pause button, I probably won’t be posting for a week … but I did state probably.

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Put me in the group that doesn’t get my shorts in a knot over what First Lady Melania Trump is wearing.

Some partisans have described Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with the Russians as treason. In true partisan fashion, many of the partisan ears latch onto the word. Is collusion a better description? Maybe – we don’t know enough yet. Is stupid a suitable descriptor? Unquestionably! .. but treason? Nope. See Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

I’m all for the Russian Investigation around the Trump administration and campaign. Where I differ from many is that I want one thorough investigation – and then so be it. Therefore not a continual investigation because one didn’t find what they wanted (as the Republicans did with 7(?) investigations with Benghazi).

I love this line from a recent Kathleen Parker column: “…. the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.”

As I continue to hear Hillary Clinton say various excuses for losing the election, she continues to focus on blaming others. It seems running a lousy campaign, failing to focus on the issues, and trying to be who she isn’t (just like McCain & Romney did in playing to the base) … all recipes for failure.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a short explanation how the brain responds to advertising.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hellmann’s introduces new meat-on-the-bottom mayo cups
Mosquito confronts partner after testing positive for Zika
God falling under influence of powerful spiritual guru
Millions of policy proposals spill into the sea as think tank runs around
Aroma of cleaning product closest thing man’s had to fruit in weeks

Interesting Reads
Creationism and culture wars
Facts & information: How people deal with them
Churchill and Dunkirk
Religion’s reaction to alien contact
Art by a gay Chinese farmer
Blogger Debra’s visit to the city along the Adriatic of my birth
(Photos) Train graveyard

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a song from years ago that many will enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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.

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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.”

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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.