Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 355

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“My week” is about to end. My Week? Yep – this is the week my wife went cruising with a group of ladies. They have a great time. Besides, she won’t miss the cold and snow! Meanwhile, I danced a lot!

After holding such high hopes for two local college basketball teams, the world crashed on Cincinnati last Sunday when both teams losing after having double-digit leads with ten minutes to go. That day may be the worst single day in Cincinnati sports history.

CBS News created a wonderful series called Note to Self – a reflection by famous people writing a letter to a younger version of themselves. Here’s the official website. Many are also on YouTube, so they are worth searching and taking a few minutes to listen. The book version is coming soon.

Given my interest in the relationship between science and theology, my wife urged me to read Dan Brown’s latest book – Origins – which I am now doing. It is interesting … and long.

Here’s a great video that celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the few minutes.

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Talk and policies favoring US isolation and protectionism while trying to be cognizant of a resurgent Russia, a continual growing China, and numerous global hotspots has lessened (and will continue to lessen) the US standing in the world.

Does anyone remember the day of the talk of the Tillerson-Mattis-Kelly pact of if one of them goes, they all go? Well, one week ago Mr. Tillerson lost his job as Secretary of State, but the other two are still in their respective positions. So much for that rumor.

Trumpians like to complain that the Mueller investigation will delegitimize the election. Nope – to me, President Trump won fair and square. However, the investigation is necessary on other grounds.

I recently described (to a friend) the 2016 Presidential Election as the Democrats missing a layup. Because I foresee Democrats gaining in the 2018 midterms, that also sets them up for missing another layup in 2020.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists benefits of being a risk-taker.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Dozens of other countries that interfered in 2016 election annoyed Russia getting all the credit
Swans in committed relationship barely even arch necks into heart shape anymore
World’s oldest message in bottle found on Australian beach
Kinky couple has mirror in bathroom
Only 40% of mice have welcome mat, doorway leading into tiny house inside wall

Interesting Reads
A cliff special to geology
Heredity beyond genes
The numbers and gun violence
Seven explorers who vanished
Studying drawings of scientists by kids
Europe’s last pagan nation
(Interactive & article) Global migration since 1990
A view of miracles and science

To send you into the weekend (and as work toward Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s one of my favorite Moody Blues songs that you may not know. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.


Opinions in the Shorts: No. 354

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It’s good to return to my little corner of the world with various tidbits, thoughts, and commentary. I sadly report that I didn’t write as much as I hoped during my blog break.

Love this factoid: Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, then died on Einstein’s birthday (which also happened to be Pi Day). A toast to Dr. Hawking’s contribution.

March Madness of college basketball is officially underway. Cincinnati is proud to support two teams in the top eight seeds. Two teams located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart and ranked in the top 6 ,  Interesting that both teams start in Nashville. Meanwhile, besides the two local teams, I’ll be rooting for ABK – Anybody But Kentucky.

The tournament committee got many selections correct, but excluding worthy teams at the expense of selecting teams that we .50o or worse in their conference is pathetic.

We recently saw a play about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical pioneer who influenced greats as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, and more. She wheeled her guitar as she sung a blend of blues, gospel, and a forerunner to rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct her next month.


John Tyler, the 10th US President, occupied the White House 1841-1845. Amazingly, his grandson is still alive! Here’s the head-scratching story.

While south for 6 weeks, we danced very little because ballroom wasn’t readily available. Although we are back in cold weather, the good news is we have returned to the dance floor – but rusty. Being away from handbells for 6 weeks creates uncertainty when returning to rehearsal. Both dancing and playing handbells will improve with time and repetition.

A few editions ago I mentioned about I would be dancing a bolero at an upcoming studio event. Unfortunately, my partner and I have respectfully withdrawn.

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Although the quote isn’t by Gloria Steinem, the viral message of gun purchases following similar procedures a woman seeking an abortion in some states is an interesting thought.

This statement in Politico about the success of the National Rifle Association (NRA): It’s not the money. It’s because the NRA has built a movement that has convinced its followers that gun ownership is a way of life, central to one’s freedom and safety, that must be defended on a daily basis.

As Democrats have been loudly complaining about gerrymandering, I have to throw in some bits. 1) Gerrymandering has been around a long time. 2) Democrats do it, too. 3) The use of data and sophisticated software by both parties heightens the problem. Therefore, the time for finding a different way is now.

This week the House Intelligence Committee (and prime example of an oxymoron) concluded its investigation by stating no collusion existed between the Trump campaign. I give them as much credence as I would a Democratic-led committee finding collusion. I patiently await the results by the independent investigation led by Robert Mueller – therefore will accept this findings.

In my response to a poll about tariffs by my representative, I reminded him that I was against tariffs regardless of the president’s party affiliation – then asked him if he would react the same way if a Democratic president proclaimed the tariffs.

Personally, I wish many Republicans would give the party to the President Trump, his minions, and the uber-conservatives – thus walk away. At the same time I wish many Democrats would give the party to the uber-liberals, thus walk away. Too bad they lack the guts to do that.

Not that many years ago Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was a darling of Republican conservatives. Since withdrawing from the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, I haven’t heard “boo” from the man – until earlier this week. It seems Gov. Walker is taking a more conciliatory tone and voicing a concern about his party’s direction. (Click here for the article.)

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the pros and cons of open relationships.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Roomba claims another pet gerbil
Beer aisle scanned for something asshole friend won’t mock
New evidence reveals Ancient Greeks immediately regretted inventing theater
Perverted measles virus exposes itself to playground full of children
Barbaric fifth grader gouges paper onto binder ring without so much as hole punch
FDA cancels bacon recall after finding U.S. population already ate it all

Interesting Reads
Bots and misinformation
France and the age of consent
Defining death
Nature on an island abandoned by humans
Life from microbes
The Smithsonian looks at daylight savings time
(Images) Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

I know I featured this song not long ago, but it fits. Along with my return from Blog Break, April 14th also approaches – the day their long-delayed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 353

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I enjoy watching the Winter Olympics. My favorite events are speed skating (especially short track), downhill skiing, ice dancing, and snowboarding (halfpipe is unbelievable). But why isn’t there a competition of doing aerials off the ski-jump hill? Why doesn’t the sled track have a corkscrew or 360 loop? Shouldn’t there be a winter pentathlon competition involving ski jumping, luge, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and speed skating?

I shake my head when I see Russian athletes participating. Their hockey team even where’s the team colors and jerseys except for the name on the front. The IOC should be ashamed of themselves.

The possibility of the US Men’s Hockey Team going winless is very likely.

This past Monday marked the 209th birthday of two influential figures born on opposite sides of the Atlantic: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The occasion serves as 9th anniversary of me diving deep into a personal study of the interchange between science and religion – yes – it was reading various reactions to the 200th anniversary that started my journey.

Although more BLINK posts will come in time, none this weekend because I have other posts scheduled around a special event.

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Another mass shooting in the US is followed by more Republicans offering prayers and talking about mental health while failing to back their talk with any action.

Months ago I contacted my Republican Representative and Senator asking them a question about mental health. I just received a response from Senator Portman (R-OH), to which replied with the following: “Senator Portman. Thank you for the gracious form letter that didn’t come close to answering my question.”

It’s so interesting that Republicans are now less concerned with fiscal responsibility – which also means that such a future stance is actually an excuse to say No.

For the fall midterm elections, Republicans have the following problems on their plate: President Trump, ignoring President Trump’s continual misplays, and force feeding party policy down the public throat. On the other hand, Democrats are having a problem finding their voice other than anti-Trumpian.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising a fair and open debate on immigration also serves as an admission that he hasn’t been doing that. Besides, anyone thinking he doesn’t have something up his sleeve is wishful thinking.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides suggestions about climbing the corporate ladder.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Poignant dying words wasted on dumbshit nephew
Queen Bun gives birth to thousands of tiny rolls
Detective refuses to pry into circumstances of murder out of respect for deceased
Study finds cats only meow when they want to alert owner of neighbor’s murder they witnessed through window
Italian grandmother doesn’t have the heart to tell family any dipshit can make lasagna

Interesting Reads
History and future of the plastic bag
Volcanoes making lightning
Looking back at a fight to vote
Lincoln’s secret visits to slaves
Limits of technology: Paper jams
(Pictures) Nature’s gardens

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 351

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Challenge Update: I will publish my post on Tuesday 6 February at 9 PM (Eastern US) … challenge participants publish after that and link to that post.

On the early morning of this week’s Super Blue Moon’s eclipse, Cincinnati had many clouds. A friend of mine (who is south for the winter) told me that he watched the shadowed moon fade away behind the horizon, then turned around to watch the sunrise over the opposite horizon only several minutes later.

Cincinnati has a unique food battle going on – a Burger Battle of the Boy Bands. In short, Nick Lachey (98 Degrees), is a Cincinnatian, plus he and his brother (Drew) have a restaurant. A few blocks away is Wahlburgers, owned by the Wahlbergs (Donnie was in New Kids on the Block). Here’s an article about the battle.

This weekend is the Super Bowl – big deal. We’ll probably have the game on, but without any festivities. Personally, I hope the Eagles win.

PS: More BLINK posts this weekend.

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I knew before making the decision that I would be missing the most unbelievable, the greatest, the most-watched ever State of the Union (SOTU) speech – but I continued my streak of avoiding the occasion because I hate watching the behaviors of our elected officials. Stay seated and remain quiet during the speech seems like such a small, yet reasonable request.

The SOTU is the US President delivering an annual Constitutional obligation. Although I don’t watch, I support it. On the other hand, I despise the fact opposing party have a rebuttal. The record clearly shows I also didn’t support the Republicans rebuttal after President Obama’s SOTU – and yep – I don’t support the Democrats doing the same. SOTU is the President’s address to Congress and the nation … PERIOD.

If I would have watched the SOTU, these bingo cards would have made the event more fun.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the myths and facts about Dreamers and the Dream Act.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman apologizes to therapist for monopolizing conversation
New acne-free treatment ships teens to remote island for remainder of puberty
Perfect girlfriend blames self for everything
Flustered mathematician unable to recommend good number
Brad Pitt stumbles across old cardboard box with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in it

Interesting Reads
Europe’s earliest written language?
Dark money and politics
About the Cincinnati murals
The contradictions of Gaudi
Demographics, America, and the future
Anti-evolution in India
(Graphic) World’s most nutritious foods
(Photos) National Geographic’s Best Adventure Photos of 2017

To send you into the weekend, here’s one of my favorites by John Mellencamp. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Common Good

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Common good is at the center of any and all relationships involving two or more people. Although organizations embrace common good when developing a mission statement, putting it into action is easier said than done.

As a concept, common good may be easy to define as the benefit of society as a whole, but developing a meaning in today’s complex society would be difficult. After all, common good engages philosophy, morality, economics, culture, politics, religion, and more while having different meanings to different people and different groups. Even the Preamble to the US Constitution states, “… promote the general Welfare and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Is this statement same as common good?

Democracy depends on governance for the common good, but what that entails today may be a complex story in itself. Personally, I don’t have much confidence in elected officials being able to agree on a definition, let alone other aspects that would follow. However, common good is a concept that is so foundational, failure to agree is like trying to construct a building without a strong foundation.

To engage and implement common good, people must agree on the common facts. Even with agreement, disagreement on how to get to the common good is understandable – actually very likely because the different ways exist on achieving the common good. In the US, although Democrats and Republicans may agree on a common good, they may have fundamental differences on how to get there – and that’s fine.

However, declaring and accepting fake news fundamentally prevents agreement on the common facts – so doing for the common good would not only be highly improbable – but probably impossible.

If democracy is about the common good, then democracy must have reasonably well-informed citizens. Unfortunately, society includes those to whom truth is the enemy – the fools and liars who are misinformed and underinformed – let alone those who use a partisan lens to selectively filter the facts.

Life today is about information and fast access to it. The problem isn’t information’s availability or the mainstream media – not even the biased nature of well-known media personalities and outlets who feed red meat to their hungry flock.

A problem is the biased nature of a large slice of the public that selectively determines their preferred news source based on one that provides a message to hear – a message aligning with their predetermined view of the world.

A problem is when listeners determine immediate judgment on a legitimate news report because they have to protect their personal interests.

A problem is that given a fast and open information system, good journalism can give way to favoring expediency over accuracy.

A problem is that too many accept reports from obscure outlets as reliable because the story supports the preferred narrative the person desires.

A problem is that the truth is no longer a high priority.

All of these problems come together to prevent people from agreeing on the common facts – therefore no hope for acting for the common good. Perhaps that’s the greatest dangers to democracy.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 350

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Although I took a low-key approach to #2000, I greatly appreciate the comments. Yes, they collectively choked me up a bit. Thank you!

I can’t believe WordPress didn’t sent me a special badge. Then again, maybe they did, but I can’t find it.

I had to look, but the first 1,000 took 4 years 1 month … the second thousand took almost 5 years 5 months. Especially given my age, I’m trending in the wrong direction for the next 2,000! But hey – thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

I had to check the party for #1000. I enjoyed looking at the names from the past. Approximately 67 attended: 12 are still here (more than half attended #2000), 14 are still active bloggers but no longer visit, and 42 are no longer active.

My next venture: The IF Challenge. A new (and temporary) page detailing this challenge on a tab. Bottom line, construct a post centering around the word “if”. Writer’s choice of format (poem, short story, graphic, etc). Dates are TBA – probably a specific announcement in the next OITS for the challenge post within 7 days after.

This weekend I hope to introduce readers to BLINK Cincinnati, which will be a series of posts.

We saw The Post (Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks). Thumbs up – but I enjoyed Darkest Hour more. As with any movie based on history, details are often omitted (because of time), massaged or even made-up to improve the movie’s flow – therefore, I often wonder how much of the movie is true. Here’s one such view of The Post.

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Here’s an interesting post about integrity by a blogger that I don’t know. Raye, thanks for leading me there.

The government shutdown was ridiculous. The 3 comments below stuck with me this week.

A president who can’t make a deal, Republicans struggling to govern, Democrats shaped by their anti-Trump base. (Dan Balz, Columnist, Washington Post)

What’s striking is Republican operatives said to me they think this president is erratic, he’s undisciplined, he’s inconsistent which makes it tough for him when he tries to get himself engaged in a deal like this. (Peter Alexander, NBC National Correspondent)

Where’s the empathy in my party? Al Cardenas, Republican Strategist)

This article by The Guardian definitely has an intriguing title: “The 12 Weirdest Days From Trump’s First Year”.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion capsulizing the history of the World Economic Forum.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Area man thinks movie he saw should have been nominated
Lustful man sensually uses one hand to unhook clasp of take-out box
Ophthalmologist instructs patient not to look at anything 24 hours before eye surgery
Man wishes women in crowded bar would let him read Jane Austen novel in peace
Newborn has father’s asshole
Real life Michelin Man dies (Photo here)

Interesting Reads
Defending the grid
Soybean to diesel fuel: is it worth it?
Feeding 1.4 billion Chinese
Feeding 10 billion people globally
Plague Fort in Russia
(Photos) London Lit

To send you into the weekend, here’s another one from The Cars on the way to their upcoming induction. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Trumpian Nostradamus 2

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Being that enough readers understood my first set of predictions about the Trump Administration for 2018, I went back to the crystal ball to see if I could find 10 more prognostications. Here’s the scoop.

1) President Trump negotiates a peace and economic agreement with North Korea; therefore avoid nuclear war. At the joint signing session, he embraces Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un while eating a taco bowl from the Trump Tower Grill and proclaims this agreement to be the greatest deal in the history of human existence. Kim Jong-un also announces an agreement to bring a Trump Tower Grill to Pyongyang.

2) President Trump unites the United States and China by building the greatest bridge in recorded history that joins Seattle and Shanghai. Because everyone knows he can build things, he will call it the Trump Bridge for Humanity, then proclaim it as the greatest architectural and engineering feat in human history that will never be outdone.

3) President Trump supports the final report issued by Special Counsel Investigation led by Robert Mueller. After lauding Mueller and his team, President Trump pardons everyone involved including himself, and invites all pardonees to enjoy celebratory taco bowl from the Trump Tower Grill.

4) President Trump ends Russia-US tensions by negotiating the most unbelievable deal in modern history as he becomes the first person ever to lead two independent countries at the same time. Known in Russia as Czar Genius, he proclaims Vladimir Putin to be the head of all oligarchs in Russia, primary advisory, and Global Ambassador.

5) President Trump negotiates an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The deal – a really big fantastic deal for both sides – something no US president has ever been able to do – actually the best deal ever for not only the Middle East, but for the world.

6) President Trump buys 3 failing media outlets: CNN, Washington Post, and New York Times – and vows to turn them into the biggest and greatest news organizations that will only reports real news.

7) President Trump scraps the Iran Nuclear deal because it was Obama’s fault – but then renegotiates a much better, more fair deal – actually an unbelievable deal – the best deal that Iran has ever seen – a deal that also includes building a Trump Tower in Tehran – and yes, it includes the Trump Tower Grill so Iranians can eat the world-renown Taco Bowl.

8) After taking credit for no deaths from commercial plane crashes in 2017, President Trump blames President Obama for a recent plane crash.

9) President Trump announces that he will build a wall along the southern US border that Mexico will pay for. The wall – a big, beautiful wall – one more beautiful than anyone imagined. The top of the wall includes a running lane, a fishing pier allowing fisherman to cast lines from the top of the wall into the Rio Grande River, and food venues serving tacos from the Trump Tower Grill.

10) President Trump describes himself as humbled, honored, and as the greatest humanitarian in human history after being awarded multiple Nobel Prizes.