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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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.