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.

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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.

On Economic Shorts

On the Budget Debt
Basic economics teaches that an important role of government is to stimulate the economy during down times through investment. Although this ideal supports the current approach by the Democratic Congress and President Obama, the fact that the previous administration and a Congress (controlled by both parties during that time) miserably failed to control spending; thus creating our current quagmire. Thank you Washington! As all of you point fingers to each other, don’t forget about the three fingers pointing to yourself.

On the Global Financial Crises
David Brooks has an interesting perspective on the current economic/financial situation.

On the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Both parties cite CBO statistics to make their point. Since they cite the same source and even the same report, isn’t the misleading nature of selective use of numbers obvious? Nonetheless, I’ve added a CBO link to the sidebar Resources so you can check for yourself.

On Congress & AIG
In reaction to the public outrage against recent AIG bonuses, the House of Representatives grandstands by passing a retroactive bill aimed at reclaiming much of the money. Regardless of its constitutionality, how would the public respond to retroactive tax increases? Nonetheless, the reactionary nature of the House continues as a demonstration of their ineptness. Columnist Thomas Friedman provides a good read.

On “I Quit”
For anyone who hasn’t seen this, here’s the resignation letter from an AIG executive.

On Linking Bailouts and Education
This is a brilliant letter to the editor from the 3/21/09 Cincinnati Enquirer.

I saw this bailout mania germinating years ago when schools became academies of collectivism and reward our little darlings regardless of how they actually performed. Effort was equated to excellence, and self-esteem was deemed a more important educational end point than achievement.
After a few decades of crowding the workplace with this faulty ethos, it should no one that bailouts are the best solution. They tried their best, just as we taught them; so let’s grade them an “A” for effort and “B” for bailout. Paul B

On a Final Thought
Economic turnarounds are naturally slow, thus not as easy as using a light switch. In the shadow of continued economic struggles, Congress will begin budget debates very soon. Odds are the following will happen:

  • Democrats and Republicans won’t agree
  • Moderates will be dodging bullets from the left, the right, the progressives, the pragmatics, and whatever the labels
  • Partisan posturing gets the priority over searching for meaningful solutions 

The most toxic assests in Washington remains to be the members of Congress and the special-interest conglomerates known as the Democratic and Republican Parties. By seeking and practicing party-first solutions, Congress continues to emulate Nero playing the fiddle while the fire rages across our country instead of Rome.