Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 344

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 331

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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.

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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

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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. 319

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Ohio lost a native son who was a statesman an American hero at age 95. John Glenn is one of the original Mercury astronauts who became the first American to orbit our planet, then went on to be a respected US Senator representing my state for 4 terms, a presidential candidate, the oldest person in space, a fighter pilot, and all around good guy. In the famous words spoken by fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter just before Glenn’s historic launch, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

The Kennedy Center Honors event was recently held, so mark your calendars for the televised event – Tuesday, December 27th, 9-11 pm (Eastern US) on CBS. To me, it’s one of the best entertainment shows of the year.

The demands on the handbell choir during the holiday season continues this weekend. Veni (by Jason Krug) is an interesting twist on a popular carol … just click to listen.

Despite President Obama’s effort, I overcame his obstacles and found my Spumoni ice cream.

Some of you may remember the use of wine corks in our home. Meanwhile, this 1+ minute video offers some clever uses for wine corks.

Even though we didn’t know any of the songs from the musical, we watched Hairspray Live. We were surprised by the quality of Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough’s voice. Jennifer Hudson and Kristen Chenoweth delivered impressive performances.

I’m still getting some hours at the golf course; therefore causing me to wonder about the ones playing on cold days.

I worry about the Bengals playing the winless Browns this weekend.

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President-Elect Trump talks about unifying a divided America, yet several of his Cabinet nominees promote division.

Early in the week I heard only bits of an interview that I imagine I would have greatly enjoyed hearing it in its entirety. I found the author’s 3 categories of voters quite amusing: Hobbits, Hooligans, and Vulcans. Here’s a book review.

The fake news story and the subsequent event about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a popular Washington pizza restaurant was too weird on multiple levels.

A tip of the cap to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 7-minute tribute from the Senate floor to Vice-President Joe Biden (D-DE). See it here.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominations
Ridership of Cincinnati’s new streetcar being less than projected
Tiger Woods not winning his return tournament
Republicans being divided on what to do with the Affordable Care Act
Possibility of Kim and Kanye divorcing

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, here’s an actual headline from The New Yorker that is very Onion-esque: Ben Carson warns that the Bible makes no mention of housing or urban development … that is just too good because President-elect Trump selected Dr. Carson to be in his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Banana still most popular fruit for pretending to make a phone call
Broken ornament relegated to lonely existence on side of tree facing wall
Divorced friend burning through hobbies at unsustainable rate
Man had no idea cough was going to be a wet one
Oprah purists prefer original British version

Interesting Reads
Pearl Harbor myths?
Magic mushrooms
A look back at the first Rocky movie
Life under the ice
(Video) Black hole eating a galaxy
(Photos) Images capturing beauty across Great Britain

Here’s a 2-fer to lead you into the weekend: hits from two recent Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 194

On Politics
After allowing several major airlines mergers, the Justice Department is balking at the merger between American Airlines and US Airways. What a crock, well, unless they tend to order the others to breakup.

A good article about why Americans hate Congress.

Now this stat from a recent poll emphasizes partisanship: 29% of Louisiana Republicans polled blame President Obama on the Federal government’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina (2005). 28% blame President Bush, and 44% are not sure who to blame. (For foreign readers, President Obama was elected in Nov 2008.)

A friend of ours said he wishes President Obama would come out against eating yellow snow so he can hear FOX News defend eating yellow snow.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Washington’s Hobby Lobby Lobbies to Strengthen Hobbies
  • San Andreas fault feels terrible about what could happen
  • Riotous chanting Iowa State Fair Crowed Gathers for Annual Deep-Frying of Virgin (I love the accompanying pic)
  • Researchers Discover Female Frogs Prefer Mate Who Knows Way Around the Cloaca
  • Elmore Leonard, Modern Prose Master, Noted for His Terse Prose Style and for Writing about Things Perfectly and Succinctly with a Remarkable Economy of Words, Unfortunately and Sadly Expired this Gloomy Tuesday at the Age of 87 Years Old

Interesting Reads
The autobiography of George Orwell (a book review)
Alex’s post about the annual eclipse of Venus
About Mussolini (a book review)
Brief history of lobotomies
Microbakeries
Global divide about homosexuality
The Onion’s Point-Counterpoint about bellyrubs

On Potpourri
Security detaining David Miranda was big news from the UK this week. I suspect he intentionally routed his plans through London with hopes this would happen.

This week’s post about hot sauces received interesting reactions. For anyone interested, here are two sites selling many of these hot sauces: chiliworld.com and hotsauce.com.

Last week I posted about an Ohio school district’s take on evolution and creationism in the science classroom. Thanks to Tim, here’s a collect of essays from the New York Times around a question: Should Creationism Be Controversial? The comments are interesting as they are filled with both hope and ignorance.

American football season is about to start. As a physical sport, it has received much criticism in recent years. Here’s an interesting article from the opposite perspective.

Our first handbell choir rehearsal was earlier this week. Interestingly, we received news that we get to be the first to play a new piece. Yep, we’ll play a world premier by a big-named composer in handbell music!

Sorry, no Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend because of a prep-time shortage.

It’s on to the weekend. In the spirit of El Guapo adventurism, here’s a longboard coasting down a small hill. Enjoy the ride, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 31

On Tom Watson
To some, Tom Watson’s run at The Open was bad for the game. To others, it was great. Although I find it hard to believe that some would be rooting against him, they were clearly not the majority. Given the competitive nature of any athlete at that level, the loss must be tearing through him. And to think that after a good tee shot on 18, the second shot landing 5 feet shorter would probably have produced a different result. Although I congratulate Stewart Cink for the win and being a class act, my heart sank too.

On Walter Cronkite
Last night CBS preempted 60 Minutes for a tribute show to Walter Cronkite. Now that was great hour about the genuine newsman oozing with integrity.

On Sotomayor
The recent hearings did confirm that Washington is not about the people. Let’s face it, Republicans main opposition is for 2 reasons: the Democratic nominator and the judge may rule against their special interests – similar Democrats previously opposed President Bush nominees. Given the way opposition came out before her nomination, continued a short time after the nomination, and committee senators proclaiming their position before the hearing, one thing is confirmed – the pathetic nature of senators acting in accordance to their special interests.

On Abortion
Abortion is always a hot topic and there’s nothing like a Supreme Court opening to stimulate the emotions; so here’s something to consider. Regardless if Roe v Wade remains or is overturned; regardless of the national or state legislation, mandating morality through either the courts or legislation doesn’t make people more moral.

On a Second Stimulus Bill
Some politicians and economists are considering a second stimulus bill. Even though the economy continues to struggle and unemployment continues to rise, it’s time to chime in. The second would actually be the third; that is if one recalls President Bush’s last one late in his term. Since Congress didn’t come close to my suggestions on the last stimulus, odds of my support would be slim.

On Krathhammer
I enjoy a range of columnists, but I’ve been wondering if Washington Post columnist Charles Krathhammer is sleeping well. Since the election he seems in continual misery with President Obama. Since he’s more of a partisan than a voice of reason, I’ve scratched him from my preferred columnist list.

On Healthcare Reform
What a mess! Unfortunately, there’s probably a decent compromise bill that would work that neither party will support.

On Religion and Evolution
My personal growth on this topic continues. Although I’ve also studied position statements and articles, I’m currently reading Can You Believe in God and Evolution?: A Guide for the Perplexed by Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett. The bibliography on this journey is well onto a second page.

On a Game Show Analogy for the Times

The other day I was thinking about the beginning of a television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The initial once-a-week phenomenon hosted by Regis Philbin was a prime-time success. As ratings soared, the network expanded to two then three, and possibly more evenings. The show eventually peaked, got scaled back, and is now a regular component for daytime viewing; but no longer a craze.

The network’s rationale is obvious – cash in on those advertising revenues when you can – a get the money when you can approach. The eventually losers in the methodology are the viewers whose interest fades due to overexposure, thus ratings and revenue subsequently fall; but the networks had a successful cash cow.

Through the years I’ve seen this happen with other shows; in the same way I’ve watched political parties whose prominence ebbs and flows. Currently, the Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Capitol Hill and occupy the White House. The same was true for Republicans not all that long ago. And of course transition periods of divided power also occur.

In any time on single party dominance, their behavior is similar to the networks – you know, get it while you can. The Democrats know they must maximize their use of the time because it won’t last – and just like the last time the Republicans dominated the power – and the time before that with the Democrats.

So during our country’s time of need, a time when we could use a patriotic grace to do what is needed – what is right – let us remember that the party in power seeks to get it while it can – but, in this case, at the citizen’s expense – and the same would be true if the other party was in power because political parties practice their mantra – party first.