Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 402

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Oh my my – After 51 years as a franchise, the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup. What an improbable and incredible run they had since January. For me, a Blues fan for 51 years, I’m stunned and elated. I loved this tribute column in a St. Louis paper.

Congratulations to tennis pro Rafael Nadal for winning the French Open for an unbelievable 12th time. Cheers to golfer Rory McElroy for winning the Canadian Open – his sixth national open win.

I think we lost many images from our recent cruise. However, I’m confident that I will have enough for a series of posts.

Hoping for a time for the next act for the Weekend Entertainment Series. Next act will be Elton John – tentatively set for Saturday, 22 June at 1:00 AM (Eastern US)

Has anyone seen Rocketman – the Elton movie?

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A citizen’s group in Ohio is considering a ballot initiative to close the gun-show loophole for gun sales without a background check. It will be interesting to see if the Republican legislature flinches.

Shortly after Joe Biden (D-DE) announced his 2020 candidacy in early April I had a list I called Biden’s Dilemma. I’m amused how much they have played out over the past two months.

President Trump recently announced a new military sale/deal with Poland that is huge and fantastic. I believe Poland is in the list of Eastern European countries with leadership leaning toward Russia.

If Fake News is not enough, at least now we have Fake Polls.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides a pros and cons list regarding impeachment.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Bored 4-year-old mixes things up by watching movie she’s only seen 97 times
Area pedestrian obsessed with crossing the street
Child promised he can go right back to video game after giving dying Grandfather one last hug
Panic rapidly setting in as man realizes he has no plan for ripe avocado
Local teen invents masturbation

Interesting Reads

Real news about fake news
Building to last
Biggest disaster in music history
Robotic farmers?
Technology and service delivery
(Graphic) Retirement plan participation rate
(Photos) Beautiful Buddahist temples

To send you into the weekend, here’s another classic song I enjoy in the winter at the Flora Bama). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 400

 

Welcome to the 400th volume of Opinion in the Shorts (aka OITS). I published the first on November 25, 2008 – about 3 months after starting my little corner of the world. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve included a short self-perspective in each section.

Next milestone – Only 5 to go to post #2,200.

This section evolved into a potpourri of thoughts. Because it is more applicable and interest to wider readership, I moved this section so it can serve as a lighter opener.

The lengthy stretch of rain, storms, tornadoes, and record flooding in the central US has been devastating. For those who are able and willing to donate, I urge you to do so to the charity of your choice. Here’s a link to Charity Navigator a site rating organizations on performance, financial health, accountability, and transparency.

A few days ago, at least 18 tornadoes hit Ohio – the closest about 40 miles from me. Fortunately, the people we know in that area are OK, but others lost their homes or suffered repairable damage. FYI: Ohio typically averages 3 for the entire month of May.

After seeing images of a long line of people on the final ascent of Mount Everest, I said, “I don’t get it.”

Last week ended with a 3-day weekend for Memorial Day. The Sunday sermon by one of my pastors was one of the best I’ve ever heard about this holiday. For those interested (and having 18 minutes), click here.

I recently learned that my state (Ohio) is ranked #6 in most Bigfoot sightings. Stephen Colbert recently asked a very pertinent question – What is the plural of Bigfoot?

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This blog initially focused on sports and politics – so this section was an extension of the initial roots. For a long time, this section opened OITS.

Emphasizing improving the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was one of the reasons Democrats gained control of the House this past December. I’m still waiting, and failing to pass such a bill through the legit process (as opposed to force feeding) will work against Democrats in the 2020 election.

For the second time in a week, a House Republican blocked the passing of a disaster funding bill. One person having the ability to block a bill is one reason Congress has a low approval rating.

Bottom Line: Special Counsel Robert Mueller explained he was the fact finder, and Congress is the jury. In that light, while Democrats are foaming at the mouth aiming for political gain. Republicans are spineless, protectionists of their own kind. Then again, if the situation were reversed, the roles would be reversed. Members of both sides of the aisle march to their party-first mantra, followed by preserving their own seat. Contrary to popular opinion, “country” is no higher than third on their priority list.

Earlier this week the news reported President Trump contradicting the National Security Advisor. Hello – he not only frequently does this to his advisors and experts, he also frequently contradicts himself. No wonder he is “the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.” (Jon Voight) … but a great American orator responds

I just watched a report on CBS citing three studies/organizations supporting what I about to state.To those citing the current tornado activity as proof of climate change, to those condemning President Trump for ignoring climate change, and to those blaming Obama for everything & anything, current research shows there is currently no link between increased tornadic activity and climate change. That doesn’t mean the existence of an undiscovered link or the absence of any link. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change”), states in their opening sentence on their page about tornadoes and climate change: The link between tornadoes and climate change is currently unclear.

To lead you into this week’s satirical headlines, The Onion provides a history of robocalls.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

The Onion has had a place on this blog for a long time. Long-time readers probably remember The Onion’s Satire Bits – a midweek dose of satire that ran for 134 weeks. That’s where the combo challenge started.

Showerhead self-conscious about single jet that sprays sideways
Boss encourages employees to take short mental breakdowns for every hour of work
World populace actually fine with rich people dying on Mount Everest
Businessman mortified to discover he’s been wearing suit backwards all day
Lowe’s reveals new table saw with attached ice chest for storing cut-off fingers (Click for the image)
Struggling single mother seriously considering putting baby up for audition

(My Combo) Mortified boss struggling putting self-conscious rich people on table saw

Interesting Reads

I’m not sure when this section first appeared. However, early OITS editions occasionally contained linked articles. Over time, articles switched from politics and economics to a collection of wide-ranging topics.

Linking democracy and dissatisfaction
Descartes laws of nature and theology
Getting pandas from China
About Portuguese citizenship and Jews
Virgin birth by an anaconda
(Photos) Waterfalls in black-and-white
(Photos) A collection from a river and streams theme

To send you into the weekend, here’s another one from Bonnie Raitt (since many appreciated her appearance last week). In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Book Review – Fascism: A Warning

I recall seeing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on various talk shows promoting this book. Once I decided to use the public library during my stay in Alabama, this book was at the top of my list – especially after reading Prague Winter a few months earlier.

Fascism: A Warning was not available on my first trip to the library, so that’s when I read Albright’s The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs. Not long thereafter, I reserved the book I wanted.

Published by Harper-Collins in 2018, Fascism: A Warning contains 254 pages within 17 chapters, plus acknowledgments, endnotes, bibliography, and an index.

Throughout the book, she shares her personal experiences with Fascism that started as a child during WWII in her native Czechoslovakia – a country for who her father served as a diplomat – a country with a proud democracy – a country later controlled by Nazis – a country that would become part of the Communist bloc – a country that would regain democracy as part of the Velvet Revolution in late 1989.

Her personal history involves being born in Czechoslovakia, living in Serbia, living in exile in England during WWII, returning to Czechoslovakia, and fleeing to the United States. Reading Prague Winter helped me understand life during the 1930s and 1940s – as well as the loss of family members in the Holocaust.

To introduce the topic (Fascism), Albright shares discussions with and thoughts by students in her classes at Georgetown University. Because of my past-life as a teacher, I know the importance of this by dealing with prior knowledge and misconceptions very early in the learning process. Her definition of a Fascist is the following:

Fascist: Someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, someone who is utterly unconcerned with the Rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.

After the introduction, the next four chapters center around Adolf Hitler (Germany) and Benito Mussolini (Italy) – their rise to power, their styles, their relationship, and their demise. General Francisco Franco (Spain) is embedded. If you recall this post past I did as a Final Jeopardy question (about Fascism), I based the list primarily on the first five chapters of this book.

The Chapters 6-14 focuses on past leaders as Joseph Stalin (USSR) and Slobodan Milosevic (former Yugoslavia); plus modern leaders as Hugo Chavez & Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela) with past leaders Juan & Eva Peron (Argentina) and Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines) are integrated into the chapter. Vladimir Putin (Russia), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), Viktor Orban (Hungary), and the three generations of Kims in North Korea (DPRK) have dedicated chapters. Jaroslav Kaczynski (Poland) is integrated in the chapter about Hungary.

While a separate chapter focuses on President Trump, different US Presidents (starting with FDR) appear throughout the book. Madeleine Albright is perfectly clear that she is not a fan of President Trump, his agenda, and his tactics. She continues to believe in the strong light of liberty and democracy along with having a strong faith in the United States. (For the record, President Trump has praised at least four of the leaders listed in the previous paragraph.)

Chapter 16 examines if Fascism could become dominant in the US. After all, aspects of US history have events paralleling Europe. For instance, a Nazi movement in the US existed in the 1930s and 1940s.

In Chapter 17 (the final chapter), Albright focuses on connecting the dots by looking at the present world through the lens of the past and her experiences as a diplomat and a human. She unquestionably sees the growth in modern-day Fascism as a threat to international peace.

This is the third book I’ve read by Madeleine Albright, and like the others, it’s an easy read and meant for the general public. As with her other books, the reader’s political view will impact her words and their conclusions. Bill Woodward co-authors all three books with Albright.

For me, this book has a scary side – but I also see a hope. Then again, humanity as a way of not learning from its mistakes. Thumbs up to Fascism: A Warning.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 397

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No weekend concert series this weekend. I have no definite timetable for their return, but I’m thinking June.

On the plus side, the beach walk series returns Sunday evening.

Regulars may remember my love for the Flora-Bama – a great roadhouse on the Florida side of the border with Alabama. Last week, Kenny Chesney made this surprise appearance in the room we frequent.

Several blog milestones are approaching: Views #400,000, OITS #400, and Post #2,200.

Golf League started earlier this week. With only one day of playing in 2019, I didn’t expect much of myself – so I accepted a wide range of inconsistency.

We recently saw an interesting production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Instead of the normal assortment of cast and orchestra, the cast doubled as the musicians – therefore, each person displayed a variety of talents.

We recently attended an enjoyable concert by the Ambassadors, a select group of the Cincinnati Boys Choir. And to think these young people sang many of the songs in foreign languages!

My journey with the Quickstep routine has been interesting – especially working around 6 weeks down south plus the recent cruise adventure of almost 3 weeks. With one week to go, we are finally to the polish stage … but I can’t wait until it is over.

Have you ever played Singo? We stumbled across it one evening at a local establishment. Interesting and fun. Here’s a short video about it.

For me, this local story would seem to be from The Onion – but oh no – it’s real. Seems a group of adults started fighting at Chuck E Cheeze.

Warning: Those with low tolerance and being easily offended should not read The Onion headlines and my combo.

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The recent Senate Hearing involving Attorney General Barr was all about political theater – not fact-finding – not what is best for the country – but pure party-first political theater. This partisan public spectacle provided clarity for those viewing the situation through their partisan lens- not trying to get to the crux of an important public issue. This party-first event serves as a prime example why concerned citizens have low regard for government officials, and serve as a reason for withdrawing from the voting process. Pathetic …. simply pathetic.

My views on impeachment

  • Congress (not the public) determines the meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors”
  • Does significant grounds for impeachment exist? Unquestionably yes
  • Should the House Dems initiate impeachment? Unquestionably no – After all, successful impeachment requires a significant number of Senate Republicans to go against President Trump (and that won’t happen with the current crop of enablers)
  • To House Dems – Be careful not to waste your time and political capital

Now that Joe Biden (D-De) is in the race for the Democratic nomination, I have established the Biden Dilemma.

  • His age
  • Voters may be looking for a fresh face (as they did with Jimmy Carter (1976), Bill Clinton (1992), George W Bush (2000), Barack Obama (2008), and Donald Trump (2016)
    Not Left enough
  • If nominated, the party will force him left, that is forcing him to be who he isn’t (Similar to what happened to Hilliary Clinton (2016), John McCain (2004), and Mitt Romney (2008)
  • His tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Kate Smith Syndrome – Anything in the past can be placed into today’s standards and context
  • (New) Link to the Republican Boogie Man

I not only foresee President Trump dumping Mike Pence, but adding Nikki Halley to the ticket would regain the confidence of many of the GOP wafflers and some independents.

My latest odds on the 2020 election

  • 100% chance GOP nominates President Trump
  • 0% chance President Trump gets my vote
  • 20 % chance Dem nominee gets my vote
  • 65% chance President Trump re-elected

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion’s this suggestion about corporate sponsors of a national park made me laugh.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Humiliated baboon unable to keep ass swollen in front of mate
Woman jealous of horse’s eyelashes
Priest cursed with incredible penis
Dog sitting at grave where owner buried alive
Elderly man feeling useless in retirement wishes he could go back to feeling useless at work
Religious conservatives argue Adam and Eve would never have been banished if they’d had guns

(My Combo) Adam feeling useless and cursed with Eve unable to keep incredible swollen penis at work

Interesting Reads

A rare language
The most anti-science documentaries on Netflix
10 best national parks outside the US
Global views on diversity, family, and religion
Buddhism, science, and the universe
(Photos) Association of Photographers Awards

To send you into the weekend, a duet that didn’t appear at the last concert. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Springtime Blooms Return

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For we in the northern hemisphere, spring is the air – so flowers are plants are showing signs of life and flowers have burst forth for the underground bulb from it’s winter sleep. Although I didn’t sleep in the winter, I have been on blog break since late March – so hey – this post has nothing to do with flowers – but just an analogy marking my return to posting.

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Because I had a Pause Button, it’s time to restart. I usually use this after a break, but I couldn’t resist the opening bloom analogy.

I did take some time during break to continuing editing the future beach walks that is, the ones I wrote this past winter. They are far enough along to restart the series soon.

Spring also means the time to ramp up golf season. I’m behind on my pre-season routine, but that’s OK because I’m not a fanatic. I simple enjoy playing the game.

News from the Mueller Report came forth shortly after starting the blog break. I considered having a special post, but decided it was not worth my time and effort. After all, it seems the report has gone like I anticipated – and the party faithful on both sides of the aisle are demonstrating predictable behavior that favors a party-first mantra over what is best for the country. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani continues to demonstrate that Disney would never hire him because he beyond goofy.

Washington is so messed up, I’m not convinced the Founding Fathers could help. Then again, that would be interesting to hear their take.

Sometimes I take blog breaks because of travel plans – but not always. After all, a blog break within one’s normal routine is also important. Then again, I’ve been gone long enough that both are possible. OK – I’ll spill the beans. We cruised from San Diego to Miami on Oceania Cruise Line’s Regatta.

 

Here are a few thoughts about the ports

  • San Diego – A beautiful city
  • Mexico (Cabo San Lucas & Acapulco) – Overrated
  • Guatemala (Puerto Quetzal) – Antigua is a special place
  • Nicaragua (Corinto) – Second poorest country in the America’s (behind Haiti)
  • Costa Rica (Puntarenas) – Pick you eco-tour
  • Panama Canal (cruising) – An engineering marvel
  • Cartagena (Columbia) – Beautiful Old City, vendors abundant and bothersome
  • Havana (Cuba) – Unquestionably my favorite stop

To help reset the Start button, here’s a song that we heard a lot on the cruise.

On Blog Break Spring 2019

Yes – it’s that time again. A time for a blog break. After all, you know my mantra – blog breaks are good. Because of the respect I have for my readers, I prefer announcing my absence. This time I expect 4-8 weeks. This post is just a collection of random thoughts before Blog Break.

I will be staying away from blogging for most of the time, but I probably will work on future posts. You may see my presence shortly after this and slightly before I return.

Golf league starts in about 5-6 weeks – so, I should get the clubs out of the basement.

Cheers to Dale for her maitre ‘d work at the concerts. However, I know she’s very busy at this time, so the blog break gives her a break. This video is for her.

 

Speaking of the concerts, I’m considering scaling back the concerts to the first and third weekends (instead of every weekend). Your thoughts?

March Madness will be in full swing this week. Personally, no team with a losing record in conference should NOT be in the tournament unless they win the conference tournament. These teams should do bump smaller schools. It’s that simple. UC is in the dance, but I don’t expect much – so the bottom line for me is ABK … Anybody But Kentucky.

Bummer: We had a 10-day tour scheduled for late June into early July going Seattle to Glacier National Park and back. The company cancelled the tour. 😦 …. and we already had non-refundable airfare tickets. Now we have to go somewhere and back by mid-November to use the credited dollars on Southwest Airlines.

I’m a few days into temporary bachelorhood as it’s time for my wife’s girls cruise (that is, the guys aren’t allowed). For me, that means dance when I can! When people ask me what I do for a week, my response is simple: 1) Whatever I want, 2) Whenever I want.

 

My heart sank at the news about the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Pauline, my favorite Kiwi, is a regular here – and my support is with her and her nation – yet I also feel helpless.

I’ve got the feeling the Mueller Report will come out during my absence. Oh well, I still believe it will not meet the expectations of Democrats, so it will also be a relief to Republicans who will also sidestep important points.

I stated this line before about President Trump and continue to use it. “He’s a pathetic person and even worse leader; plus he brings most of his problems on himself.” Some say I’m not harsh enough. Yes – it’s tame – but countering it is difficult because it is not threatening.

As I head into Blog Break, here’s a song that I greatly enjoy. From The Greatest Showman, “A Million Dreams”. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 396

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Because we couldn’t rehearse while in Alabama, last Sunday we had a chance to listen to our handbell choir play a wonderful song for Lent. (Plus, the group played very well.) To listen to In the Wilderness (Jason Krug), click here, and then find the Listen button (after the opening paragraph that is worth reading), then click Listen. Warning: It’s over 6 minutes, but it can serve as background music for those interested.

The Weekend Concert Series returns this Saturday with Carole King taking the stage at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Regarding the concerts, tradition is that I limit comments to one song per person. However, a little known fact is that commenters can return on Day 2 (Sunday) to add more songs.

Did anyone watch the Aretha Franklin tribute show on CBS last Sunday night? We did – and enjoyed it.

OITS number 400 is approaching … and visit number 400,000 is in sight (possibly this summer).

Attention Costco shoppers. From Money magazine – If you spend $3000 per year at Costco, upgrading to an Executive Member will pay for itself and may make save you even more. Once we learned we were passing on money, we upgraded. After all, we love Costco.

Have you ever taken a DNA test as Ancestry DNA or 23andMe?

Last week we sprung forward into Daylight Savings Time (DST). Two US states (Arizona and Hawaii) do not join the fun. Several other states are considering doing the same while several others are considering making DST permanent.

Cheers to the US Women’s Soccer Team seeking equal pay with their men’s counterpart. With Wimbledon tennis approaching, should men and women receive the same winnings when men must win three sets per match while women two?

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AOC is made it known that moderates are not welcome. Nothing like pushing away potential voters. Just because I’m anti-Trump does not mean voting for the Democratic candidate is automatic. So thank you AOC, the odds of Dems getting my vote in 2020 has fallen to 10%.

Now would this be an interesting Democratic presidential ticket for a bumper sticker: Hickenlooper-Buttigieg

President Trump referred Apple CEO Tim Cook as Tim Apple. To me, a simple slip of the tongue. That’s something we’ve all done. However, President Trump is so arrogant, he can’t even admit a responsibility on something like this. Instead, he favored an explanation that is pathetic and senseless: “I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words.”

Presidential Weekly Summary: Build the wall. No collusion. Witch hunt. Lock her up. Fake news. I feel badly for Paul Manafort. Obama’s fault.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, here’s something different. Viareggio is a popular respite by the sea on Tuscany’s west coast. Actually close to my family. Carnevale di Viareggio is a popular annual event. Let’s just say this event displays a bit of satire. For those who dare, watch a four-minute video here.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Baby feels foolish after realizing stranger waving at toddler next seat over
Limited-edition Russet potato comes with letter of authenticity
Washing machine loses man’s trust
Woman nervous for boyfriend to meet person she becomes around parents
Aging Mount St. Helen’s beginning to think erupting days are behind it
Scientists pinpoint part of brain all hairs grow out of

Interesting Reads

Women and World War II
Thinking about plastics
A bit about stupidity
A view of polarized America
Life beyond Earth?
(Graphic) A graphic worth thinking about
(Photos) Rio’s carnival celebration
(Video) Chile’s marble cathedral in a cave

To send you into the weekend, a duet that didn’t appear at the last concert. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.