On a Blog Break: Summer 2019

 

Before I embark on my summer blog break, below is an abbreviated edition of Opinions in the Shorts.

The Doobie Brothers concert surprised a few people. With a blog break on the current docket, I do not know who the next concert will feature or when it will occur – but I have some ideas to consider during the blog break.

Unfortunately, on celebration day falls during the blog break. August 28th marks the 11th anniversary of this place – my little corner of the world.

My golf game resembles a yo-yo – but I still enjoy playing.

With August being the final month of summer, that also means September marks the return of handbell choir rehearsals, volunteer ushering at the Playhouse, fall festivals, football season, and more.

Has anyone watched “The Great Hack” on Netflix (about Cambridge Analytica)? If so, what did you think?

Last weekend gave us two mass shootings – including one in Dayton, Ohio (a bit less than an hour drive for me). Interesting how events like that affect you differently when they are closer to home. Events in El Paso and Dayton give Congress more opportunities to do nothing.

The Republican “mental issue” claim as a key cause of gun violence has resurfaced – so I ask an important question to Congressional Republicans: What legislation have you passed in the past five years addressing the mental health problem? I asked my representative. In his response letter, he didn’t answer the question – so the answer is none!

A state representative near me and close to Dayton blamed mass shootings on the following: fatherless families, transgender and homosexual marriages, drag queen advocates, recreational marijuana, violent video games, failed school policies, hatred for our veterans by professional athletes disrespecting our flag and country, Democrats in Congress, disrespect for law enforcement, anti-Trump voters, and last – but not least – the icing on the cake – you guessed it – Obama. Yes – the one who made this statement is an office holder elected by the majority of voters in her district.; which to me is sadder than the one making the statement.

The leader of the Ohio Republican Party asked Candice Keller to resign for the above statement, but (as of this morning) she’s standing by her statement and refusing to resign. “Establishment moderates have never been fans of mine because I ran against their endorsement and won. As the only conservative in this race, I will be taking my (state) Senate campaign to the voters to decide.”

A thought to remember about politics. The party’s goal is to win, therefore finding candidates with the best chance of winning and representing the party. Therefore, the candidate is in an office to represent the best interests of the party. After all, how much time does the office holder (and their organization) spend fundraising for the party and their re-election? The answer is simple – a lot. Therefore, the office holder’s interest in solving issues and representing the non-party flock in their district is (at best) superficial.

As I’ve stated numerous times on these pages, blog breaks are good. How long will this one be? To be honest – I don’t know – but I hope to return in the first 10 days of September – time will tell. Until then, I hope you visit the many good, talented, friendly people I list as A-Team Premium Visitors on the sidebar, plus others on the BlogRoll tab.

By the time I return, summer will be on its last leg – so here’s a classic from years ago to lead me into my blog break. Check out this chops! Keep smiling!

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 401

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It’s been a tough week. My boss at the golf course had a back operation, so I took on extra hours. This week is a club event, which means extra hours. Next week is a major club event, which means more hours, plus two of my coworkers won’t be there – which means more hours. Tough – but hey – they suck it up when I vacation.

Working has cut into my blog writing and visiting; plus delaying the next Weekend Concert. Maybe the dominoes of life will align so I can announce the next concert in the next OITS.

James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy was interesting. Sorry to see him lose, but hey – it was bound to happen.

I’ve enjoyed watching the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals. Go Blues!

No celebration – but the next post is a milestone – # 2,200.

Marina (a blogger from Greece) and I have interacted for many years here. Although her blog has focused on her art, he’s also a very talented musician (piano is her primary instrument). She has been on a long blog break because of a work project, an art show, and more. Her recent post features a video of her art to her music. It’s wonderful. I encourage readers to visit … tell Marina I sent you.

The last post about bias sparked interesting thoughts. The Media Bias Chart I used is the version 4.0 (August 2018). The first was done in December 2016.

Earlier this week marked the anniversary of three contrasting events: 75th anniversary of D-Day, the 100th anniversary of women voting rights in the US, and the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Those three events tell quite a story.

 

Really? I never knew this: “We are celebrating the anniversary, 75 years of D-Day. This is the time where we should be celebrating our president, the great achievements of America, and I don’t think the American people like the constant negativity.” (Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee)

I was disappointed earlier this week by President Trump closing the door to US citizens desiring to visit Cuba.

I continue to be astonished by the difference between what Attorney General Bill Barr says that counters the statement and report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Congress actually tried to do something good this week when several Republicans actually supported a Democratic initiative challenge President Trumps authority. However, the majority of Republican senators remained loyal to the party and spineless in their oversight responsibility.

While many complain about the way various media attack President Trump, I must do my due diligence and state the following: 1) President Trump brings his problems on himself, 2) Just because the news media is bashing on him does not mean the media is as biased as it may appear. He brings it upon himself and they are calling him out (as they should).

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides information about the most significant US trade wars.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Mood of sex dungeon undercut by sight of plug-in air freshener
Depressed monkey throwing shit at himself
Bee practically blows its load after seeing purple coneflower in full bloom
Man who has been in a bunch of buildings figures he would be a good architect
Apple CEO torn limb by limb by mob of mothers demanding to know whether iTunes gift cards still active

Interesting Reads

Eid: An Islamic festival
About the euro
Bees using plastic
Thoughts about America’s global role
Linking Irish, Catholicism, and Vaudeville
(Interactive) Take a good 11-question science quiz, and then analyze the results to demographics
(Photos) Women’s Suffrage
Photos A few D-Day landmarks 75 years later
(Video) The Pompeii of Mexico (4+ minutes)

To send you into the weekend, here’s a summer song (actually when we enjoy hearing by our favorite duo at the Flora Bama in the winter). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 380

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For those that missed Tuesday’s special announcement, Pronouns: The Musical this weekend with an Encore act featuring songs with two or more different pronouns used in this musical (or click here). See the SPECIAL page/tab (below the banner/header) for more information. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

For the story writers in the crowd, hope you saw the Writing Challenge I issued earlier this week. See the Challenge page/tab (below the banner/header) for details (or click here). Responding to the challenge starts this coming Tuesday after I post my version. If you aren’t a short story person, pass along the challenges to others you know who may be interested.

A few days ago we saw First Man, the movie about astronaut Neil Armstrong. Interesting and well done, but I wouldn’t call it a must-see blockbuster. It’s not fast-moving, but has its tense moments. There’s a notice amount of silence throughout the movie. For most of his post-astronaut adult life, Mr. Armstrong lived in the Cincinnati area. From what I know of Armstrong’s personality, Ryan Gosling hit it!

I’m drafting a future post about shopping carts – which caused me to develop a new category – Shopping. Would you know it, I already have a few past posts that fit that new category. Feel free to visit the category in the future or by clicking here.

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President Trump says he could fire the entire Mueller investigation team to end the investigation. Mr. President, do what you mean and mean what you say. The time is now – enough talk – do it! Do what you say you can do. Do what you really want to do! Do it!!!

Although the anticipated Blue Wave didn’t not occur, Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives. I give House Democrats a 95% chance to do something in one month (by the end of January 2019) that strengthens President Trump re-election – which I raise the chances of happening to 80%.

Gerrymandering is not new. Not only has it been around for a long time, both parties are guilty – even in recent times!

Important “-isms” are in the news: Anti-semitism, racism, Nazism, and others – let alone include other related terms as Islamophobia and homophobia. I want to toss in another one that would impact more than any of the above – partyism. After all, there is plenty of data showing pathetic candidates from each side getting sizeable number of votes.

Eight states still have straight ticket voting – the method allowing voters to cast votes for candidates in one party by making only one mark. Good news is that the number of states doing this pathetic practice is declining.

As an authentic independent who sneers at each party, I enjoyed this article about Congress by the Washington Post.

Last week I wrote these words, “Whereas the focus continues to be the last 14 words of the Second Amendment, I continue to say the key to the debate is the first 13 words. After all, those are the words not on the lobby wall at NRA headquarters.” This week brought us news of another mass shooting.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion discovered the latest “I Voted” stickers from Nevada. Are you willing to look here?

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man does incredibly well at slot machine demo embedded in ad
Girlfriend really has mind of her own today
Supposedly educated professor has no idea how to get bird out of lecture hall
Area man thankful to be single during Golden Age of Television
Slug just taking it easy today
Voter just needs to know which candidate chops wood in a flannel shirt
North Carolina voter in heavily gerrymandered district somehow voting for Montana Senate, Mayor Of Phoenix

Interesting Reads

Eastern and Western European differences
A large, unused airport
Analytics and health care
Butch Cassidy
The re-shaped Milky Way
(Photos) From the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest
(Photos) Beautifully designed spas

To send you into the weekend, here’s that I heard for the first time earlier this week. Enjoy Alex Murdoch with All My Days. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 378

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Pronouns: The Musical is continue its trek this weekend featuring songs with Them in the title. Hint: This is not an easy theme. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Last weekend we attended a play that was a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It was interesting and well done – plus the set was fabulous. Here’s the link with pictures.

Although our National Parks Tour was 15 nights, I’ve shorten the travel series to 5-6 posts. Next one is this Sunday night.

Regarding the two huge lotteries this week – well – not only did we not win – we were shutout – no numbers on any of the 6 tickets/lines.

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Election Day for the midterms is approaching – but not soon enough because I’m tired of all the campaign ads: especially those of the 2 races buying the most time.

Party partisans continue to ignore messages from the independent middle. For instance,

  1. Long ago I suggested that leader of Democrats in the House (Nancy Pelosi: D-CA) should step aside ahead of the election. With an approval rating that is much lower President Trump’s, Republicans continue to use her in negative ads.
  2. Shortly after Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination I suggested that Democrats NOT pursue blocking his nomination. Now that he’s on the Court, multiple polls show the Democratic actions have worked against them, thus improved the stature of Republicans in the public.

Regarding the recent mailing of bombs, the perpetrator has not been found. As the partisans take to the airways to point fingers at the other side, here are two important questions of initial focus: Who? Why? The second can’t be answered until determining the first. However, President Trump had a great opportunity to set a tone with his comments that night – and he obviously chose to take a different path – the usual low road.

I heard an interview when a person explain that it took Donald Trump to bring out the differences in Washington. ABSOLUTELY NOT! The difference have been steadily growing for the past 50 years, but Donald Trump has amplified the differences.

Updating the ever-changing odds:

  • Chance of Democrats gaining control in the House: 80%
  • Chance of Democrats gaining control in the Senate: 10%
  • Chance of Donald Trump being nominated by Republicans in 2020: 99.9%
  • Chance of Donald Trump winning re-election: 70%
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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion has a great picture about climate-change advocate Al Gore.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Thrill seeker microwaves pot pie without slitting crust
Mom hates bad guy in movie
Horrified nurses discover 40-pound baby after accidentally leaving it in incubator over weekend
Magpie worried mate only interested in him for collection of shiny objects
Study finds over 5 million birds die annually from head-on collisions with clouds
104-year-old reveals secret to long life being cursed by witch to wander Earth eternally

Interesting Reads

People over 65: Facts vs. opinions
A read about Claude Debussy
Africa and web conductivity
The European schism
(Pictures) Freak hailstorm in Rome
(Graphic) Most valuable global retail brands
(Video) A lady making arms

To send you into the weekend, here’s a throwback to Bruce Hornsby and the Range. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 377

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Pronouns: The Musical is continue its trek this weekend featuring songs with They in the title. (Not an easy theme.) Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

With wireless available in all our hotels, I admit not totally disconnecting during the blog break.

Although I jumped way ahead to the Croatian National Park, I did it for Robin’s Walktober celebration. I still have to post a series about the western national parks tour we took last May-June (which I will start this Sunday night).

The previous post (Walktober walk) was a round-number milestone – post #2100. For those who enjoyed the walk through Plitvice, I hope you watched the two videos that I mentioned directly under the map. Both are wonderful!

While away, baseball’s regular season ended – and another predictably painful one for Cincinnati fans.

There are 3 tiers (levels) of professional soccer in the USA: top-level MLS (20 teams), NASL (6 teams), and lower-level USL (33 teams). Although Cincinnati is in the lowest tier, of the 59 teams, Cincinnati’s was fourth in attendance – probably a reason why the franchise will move up to MLS next year.

We are enjoying catching up on Dancing With The Stars through recordings. This season has some very good dancers. However, the last elimination was very unfortunate. What are voters thinking?

While strolling through Trieste (Italy), we encountered a new experience – a flute orchestra. Fascinating! I recorded a 90-sec clip, and I’m curious to see if this works. (Then click the video after it appears)  As a back-up plan, I found this YouTube video.

 

Given several prominent election races at home, I did NOT miss the barrage of political ads on television.

I continue to hear certain people rebuking Nike products because of Nike’s use of Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson. What these people don’t know is that Nike’s target audience is not old white guys who vote Republican and wear New Balance shoes bought from Kohl’s, Target, or WalMart.

Glad that I was gone during the Supreme Court appointment process. The way I see it, both Republicans and Democrats have painted themselves into a predictable partisan corner only to predictably flip-flop in the future – and the partisan flock will merrily follow along.

Regarding Judge Kavanaugh, I don’t want to judge someone on possible indiscretions during teen and college years. I was already against the nomination, but not for the same reasons as the Democratic loyalists. Then again, each party only agrees with my view of the Supreme Court when it is convenient to their position. These two past posts explain my viewpoint. (Feb 2016 & June 2016)

Although we learned about the political climates in various countries on our trip, my wife and I were politically cautious with our fellow travellers – but we sensed the majority are not happy with President Trump.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, this scoop by The Onion about Donald Trump, Jr. made my laugh.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

  • Mom still raving about butternut squash ravioli she tried 13 years ago
  • Annoyed movers weren’t expecting client to have belongings
  • Sweatshop worker doesn’t even want to know working conditions of place he company gets fabric
  • Nurse’s tray all scalpels
  • Sex shop bathroom key attached to 18-inch double dildo

Interesting Reads

To send you into the weekend, here’s a pleasant song by the Doobie Brothers. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 344

 

I’m not even close to being a Star Wars fanatic, but I get to attend a Cincinnati premier of the new film.

OMG – The Moody Blues are going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Cars, Bon Jovi, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, and Dire Straits. Congratulations to all!

Our handbell choir continues focusing on music for the busy holiday season. The next solo piece is The Huron Carol: a tune many of you will recognize. Click here to listen.

Until I saw this, I didn’t realize President Trump sang Christmas carols.

A refreshing thought. While watching the Army-Navy football game, I noticed that players don’t bring attention to themselves after a play.

Cheers to the professional golf’s decision to stop issuing penalty strokes based on information from the television audience.

For those enjoying the beach walks, I only have 1 0r 2 left.

I worry about what the Supreme Court will rule in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

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On one hand, Doug Jones (D) defeating Roy Moore (R) for the Alabama Senate seat gives hope to humanity. On the other hand, the fact that a high percentage of voters supported Moore makes my hope very tepid.

I applaud this line from this ABC News Editorial: A nation can have a healthy, functional democracy only if its citizens are willing to go beyond the interests of their tribe and work for the common good.

For many years on these pages I warned that the political climate was not good for times when one party controls Congress and the White House … and I believe Democrats would be doing the same thing if the roles were reversed.

It didn’t take much time for some Democrats to seek the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). But I ask this question: Would Democrats have done the same thing if Minnesota had a Republican governor?

 

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic comparing shopping at a retail store and a thrift store.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man with 3 kids going to make great father someday
Study finds controlling, possessive behavior most pure expression of love
Department of Labor response team seals off toxic workplace environment
Line of lizards winding out door outside National Geographic casting office
Frustrated wildfire spends hours stuck in L.A. traffic
Recording Academy reminds aging musicians to die before December 15th to be included in 2017 Grammy tributes

Interesting Reads
Views of gender differences
Debating USA’s role in the world
History of mince pies
The first Scrooge
Why dogs cock their heads
(Interactive) Compare your view on gender equality with others
(Photos) Wonderful images from space

To lead you into the weekend, it’s got to be the Moody Blues. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 342

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Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo’s mega-star, has this major article in the New York Times Sunday edition.

The Kennedy Center Honors are this week, but the telecast is December 27th (9-11 pm US Eastern) on CBS. For me, this annual event is must-watch television! The 2017 honorees are Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Lionel Richie.

If you enjoy “Oh Come Emmanuel”, you may enjoy this handbell piece that we are playing next week. Very interesting rhythms  – and not easy! –  but at least it’s not like the late-October monster. Click here to listen.

Congratulations to Jordan Fisher and partner Lindsay Arnold for winning Dancing With the Stars. He was outstanding from the very start. To our eyes, his technique was over-the-top good. Here’s his Week 1 Tango. (The dance starts at 1:30.)

Cincinnati is lucky to be home to two top-level college basketball teams Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. The rivalry between the two schools that are only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart is intense – and this weekend is the annual meeting known as the Crosstown Shootout. Go UC! … but this is the only game of the year where I hope XU loses.

Here’s the beginning of an interesting local story.

Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the back of his head, as he walked home, carrying food for himself and his wife. Authorities say he was an innocent and unsuspecting victim. After two teenagers pleaded guilty this month at separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, Rukiye, offered to hug them. Javon Coulter said she could. Rukiye wants to visit them in prison regularly and help them become better people. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Just learned about a company named d.light.  Very interesting products! This is a way to help the people of Puerto Rico and other places without electricity. Click to see their products.

Saturday I’m posting a collaboration with an artist. Hope you stop by.

My little corner of the world is approaching several milestones, including 75,000th comment. I wonder who will get the recognition.

Brilliantly said by Michael Gerson (Washington Post): Not only do we have tribal politics in this country, we also have tribal morality.

2108 is an election year for Ohio’s governor. The four top Republican candidates were in my area recently for a forum. Here’s the way the Cincinnati Enquirer started the report: The Republican nomination for Ohio governor might come down to who loves President Donald Trump more. And who’s least like current Republican governor John Kasich.

I continue to think Roy Moore will win in Alabama.

Two weeks I mentioned writing my Congressional Representative and Senator because their party like to claim, “It’s a mental health issue” when it comes to mass shootings. I asked what the Republican Party has done about mental health issues (purposefully without mentioning gun control.) My Representative responded: 1) Without answering my question. 2) Stating the issue with the Air Force files on the most recent incident has been corrected, and 3) focusing on gun control.

In terms of the plan for the tax cuts, interesting how the effects of the debt is less important to those who previously said the debt is of utmost importance. Ah yes – the nature of politics.

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Buick introduces new self-buying car
Nutella briefly entertained as lubricant
New historic evidence suggests most Pilgrims sailed back home to celebrate first Thanksgiving
Smithsonian acquires rare photograph where whole family looks really nice
Substitute teacher can tell he’s filling in for real asshole

Interesting Reads
Can machines become moral?
26 words we don’t want to lose
Ocean’s most-dedicated mothers
Digital privacy upcoming in the high court
60 years after Brown v. Board of Education
(Images) Bumper stickers for subway riders
(Photos) Random photos of the week

For your weekend entertainment, I continue the stretch of Fab Four songs. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.