Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 286

As a wine enthusiast, this 15-second commercial for Ally Bank makes me laugh. (Not the best sound on this one) – but I don’t know why Ally Bank doesn’t post it on their YouTube channel.

After watching two current movies, I see a strong connection between two unlikely films – The Big Short and Concussion … and I recommend both films.

For those who enjoy a good fireworks display, I enjoyed the New Year’s display from London. Click here for a a fun 11 minutes.

Did you see the preview of the major announcement on the Hear Ye page?

The attacks this week in Istanbul and Jakarta are troubling. Unfortunately, I fear the world is going to be dealing with this problem for more years than we want … no matter what Washington does.

In order to quicken the pace on improving my handbell skills, I started practicing with the second choir at our church this week. Their music is easier, so I can work on my technique and get back to reading music. I see it as a boot camp to sharpen my skills for a few weeks.

There will be an Explore this weekend.

Thank you readers, especially those who don’t follow sports, for tolerating my vent on the previous post.

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The first 10 minutes of the State of the Union (SOTU) was on (while I was blogging) because my wife was watching. The partisanship of the event drives me nuts. I wish all the members in the audience would quietly and respectfully sit and listen from start to finish … but that’s asking a bit too much from our elected officials.

I’m glad President Obama included the partisan gridlock in the SOTU. (I read this portion of the transcript after seeing the news reports.) Although the Republican caucus makes it difficult, I openly wonder about the White House’s role in the obstruction.

For those thinking I only pick on Republicans, below are the fact-checks of President Obama’s State of the Union … here is the speech’s transcript … (and the fact checks) Politifact,  Annenberg Fact Check,  Associated PressWashington Post

As Donald Trump (R-NY) questions Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) citizenship, I say the Democrats should not address this issue now or in the future. Don’t stoop that low! Should the question be answered? Absolutely – but not by those with a political motive. I say the Republican Party should launch the initiative to determine the answer – but I very much doubt that will happen.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) needs votes, so he pouts and declines to participate in the lower-tier debate. Now that makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of Mr. Trump, I listened to much of two of his speeches. I encourage others to do so, but I won’t say why.

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To lead you into The Onion, here is their list of pros and cons regarding helicopter parenting.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pope Francis Wearing Sweater Vestments He Got For Christmas (I like the picture)
Emotional NRA President honors victims of background checks
Minimalism Overdone
Study Links Binge Eating To Stress, Contentment, Depression, Joy, Boredom, Anger, Relaxation
New Survey Reveals Chicken-Fried Steak Leads Pork-Fried Pork As Nation’s Favorite Meat-Fried Meat

Interesting Reads
For the political junkies, a Republican’s view of the party’s 2016 options
A public-union case at the US Supreme Court
A short primer to understanding Islam (Thanks Jim W)
David Bowie’s life in pictures
Gene editing: the positives and negatives
In his own words: How a gym teacher invented basketball in 1891
Is China scared of ghost films?

Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 173

On Politics
Americans continue to be disgusted with Washington regarding the budget, and there’s no question in my mind that the majority will respond by re-electing the majority of incumbents.

To Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Ryan (R-WS): Creating legislation that has no chance of passing is a waste of time and taxpayer money.

CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) didn’t invite Gov. Christie (R-NJ and governor with the highest approval rating) to speak because “he had a bad year” – so they invited Mitt Romney (who conservatives don’t like), Sarah Palin (Nincompoop), and Donald Trump (egotistical blowhard).

Regardless of the party occupying the White House, I don’t agree with the opposing party having any airtime after the State of the Union.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Shady new Wendy’s deal offering five hamburgers for free, no questions asked
  • FBI tracks down elusive picture-disc version of Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”
  • Nervous Pope candidate changes wine into Jesus’ urine
  • Pea farmers say they alone keep peas from overrunning planet
  • Iowa Fashion Week begins

Interesting Reads
First woman in America to earn a medical degree
Enjoy these wonderful pics from Zion National Park
David Ignatius on America’s traditional allies
Hank Greenberg: Baseball’s first Jewish superstar
Pinot Noirs from Oregon
The never-completed Cincinnati subway
Dogs knowing what we’re thinking

On Potpourri
I try to stay informed, but being away from politics and news for my 10 days in Italy was great! Thus, the first news I saw upon my return agitated me.

Wow – getting stats back to normal isn’t very easy.

CNN’s upcoming separation from Soledad O’Brien is a shame because she is a good journalist – and a pleasant for the early morning. If CNN wants to move to the top of ratings, here are two models: GMA (entertainment and fluff) and Fox Morning (biased inaccuracies). Hey CNN, I want to be informed, but those like me are in the minority.

Thanks for those participating in Time: The Musical. It’s quite the music montage, so I invite you to return for the 50+ songs.

Watching Pope Benedict XVI’s last day was interesting. In recognition to him, I love this one from The Onion.

He obviously carried Ohio to be elected, so good luck to Pope Francis I.

Here’s the latest handbell piece our choir played, which was interesting and surreal. Enjoy Compassion by Jason Krug.

There will be a classic cartoon character post on Saturday.

To send you into the weekend, enjoy The Piano Guys with the Charlie Brown song – and gotta love the people in this video. Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 156

On Politics
The presidential debates start next week. Odds are, I will pass on the first one. Meanwhile, and no kidding, I saw this commercial! This one is for Lame!

In last week’s OITS, I provided a quote from the local Tea Party. Here’s another gem: Since neither government or criminals produce anything, illegitimate government and criminals share common behaviors: both use force or threat of force to take property (and sometimes lives) from its rightful owners and give it someone else who “needs” it.

Also in last week’s OITS, I gave suggestions for Mitt Romney. In less than 24 hours, the Nincompoop also provided suggestions. (Evidence) The graphic below compares the two sets. And I’m not even voting for him! Thanks Ginger FightBack for the graphic entitled Palin Fruit.

Earlier this week I watched an interview with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who stated that he doesn’t rely on polls, thus explain most polls showed John Kerry (in 2004) was going to beat President Bush. Mr. Giuliani, really? Then please explain this evidence to me.

Two Relevant Political Reads

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Area Mom Waited in Car for 20 Minutes
  • Scientists Working on Immortality Better Hurry for Area Man
  • Botanist Discover Trees are Slowly Trying to Strangle Each Other
  • Loose First Grader Brings Home Different Friend Every Time
  • Egyptian Woman Wishes Screaming-Protester Husband would go Bonkers for Her Once in a While
  • Glowing Ahmadinejad: “I am the nuclear weapon we’ve been building”

Interesting Reads
Health benefits of Pinot Noir
A report about climate science reported by Fox News
Roman Empire and its economy
New theory about why men love breasts
Science and faith on a secular campus
A worthy read from someone with ADHD

On Potpourri
It seems shoulder impingement is rearing its ugly head in my left shoulder, so it’s back to the daily strength and flexibility exercises.

I’ve had enough! It’s time for the US military and our allies to leave Afghanistan.

A couple of value recommendations from Wine Spectator: Folonari Chianti 2010 ($9), Charles & Charles Rose 2011 ($11), and 14 Hands Hot-to-Trot Red ($12)

Wine Spectator (Oct 15) published over 200 value reds and whites from the US. If you are looking for recommendations, let me know what you like.

Strength and blessings to El Guapo, a loyal visitor here, whose mother passed away earlier in the week.

I will have a Saturday Morning Classic Cartoon post tomorrow.

To send you into the weekend, enjoy the energetic music from Bond. Unfortunately, I had issues embedding it here, so click here. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Thanksgiving for Pinot

It’s a hard grape to grow. As you know. Right? It’s, uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And, in fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. (Jack explaining pinot noir to Maya in Sideways)

Pinot noir is one of the world’s great grapes for wine. It’s seductive, and subtle – yet difficult and temperamental. It is the classy lady at the ball who catches your eye, which doesn’t reveal the complex person behind the first glance.

Pinot noir is red, but not dark like other red wines. Pinot noir is flavorful, but not overpowering. Pinot noir is difficult to grow because its best locations require the odd combination of cool temperatures and a long growing season. It is fussy about the soil, slope, and climate, but ironically, once successful on the vine, winemakers find transitioning the grape into a wonderful wine as easy. The wine is an interesting blend of fruit and earth tones. While it does not pack a punch of puckering tannin, the charm is in its complexity and cerebral nature.

While growers cultivate pinot noir throughout the world, its geography remains limited because of its preferred conditions. Pinot noir is the grand grape of Burgundy (France), with interesting is the same parallel as another place where pinot is king – Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Pinot noirs from both of these regions tend to be earthier than the silky nature of those in California.

California regions doing well with pinot noir include Russian River Valley (Sonoma), Carneros (southern Sonoma and Napa), Anderson Valley (Mendocino), Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterrey), and Santa Rita Hills (Santa Barbara). The setting for Sideways was in the Santa Barbara wine region.

Pinot noir is a versatile food wine. It’s very good for pre-dinner and appetizers, yet goes well with main food as chicken, fish, and pork. To me, pinot noir is an excellent wine for Thanksgiving dinner.

In general, pinot noir wine is not cheap. For anyone wanting to spend more than $20, talk to knowledgeable staff at a wine department. Since Wine Spectator (not long ago) featured California pinot noir, here are their bargains, plus a few others from me.

Wine Spectator Values (Score and Price)
Saintsbury Garnet (Carneros) 88 ($20)
Siduri (Sonoma) 88 ($20
Villa Mt Eden (Sonoma Coast) 88 ($20)
Hitching Post (Santa Barbara Hometown) 87 ($20)
Kenwood (Russian River) 87 ($16)

Others
Heron (Sonoma) 87 ($16)
Acacia (California) 86 ($15
Heron (California) 85 ($14)
Castle Rock (Carneros) 84 ($14)
Cupcake (Carneros) 84 ($14)

AFA Additions
A to Z (Oregon) 90 ($20)
Mark West (California) $10, Santa Lucia Highlands $13
Angeline (California) $12
Castle Rock (several: Mendocino, Monterey, and Willamette) $12
Pepperwood Grove (California) $7
There are good values from New Zealand, so take a flyer or ask your wine merchant