Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 255

Two new candidates for 2016 race for US President are officially in the race: Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Although neither is unexpected, it will be interesting to see if Mrs. Clinton implodes and if Mr. Rubio becomes the second choice of most Republicans.

Here’s an interesting closing by Aaron David Miller (Woodrow Wilson International Institute for Scholars) in this Op-Ed at CNN about Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s biggest challenge on the campaign trail and in office should she win is whether she can develop a foreign policy vision and an effective approach to the world that strikes a better balance between the risk-readiness of George W. Bush and the risk-aversion of Barack Obama. And given the cruel and unforgiving nature of the world America now inhabits, this will be no easy task.

I appreciated Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus’ take about the situation involving President Obama, Republicans, and Iran.

Last Friday morning I added the news about the passing of Lauren Hill. I was surprised how the positive message and stories continued. Here’s one of the early tributes.

After Lauren Hill played her first game, I wrote about some of the other positive aspects of that game, which included the role of Hiram College and its players. The mere fact that their team made the 4-hour trip to Cincinnati for the memorial service says a lot about how they were impacted.

This week included anniversaries of the Lincoln assassination and the Titanic disaster. I included an article about each in the Interesting Reads.

Act 2 of Meals: The Musical featuring fruit was a big hit. Choices were numerous as my prep list included apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, casabas, cherries, elderberries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwis, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, and watermelon .. then toss in grapevines. Well done!

No Saturday Morning Cartoons this weekend, but Saturday will bring a new Explore post.

Here’s an interesting trivia question to ponder. Hopefully, I will remember to give the answer on Monday. Category is US Geography. Person X is standing in State Y. No matter if Person X travels directly north, south, east, or west, the next state encountered will always be State Z. Where (what state) is Person X standing, and is the next state?

To lead you into it’s headlines, The Onion introduces us to the latest presidential candidate.

This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Report: Only 40% of celebrities marrying their stalkers
  • Teacher arranged desks in giant circle
  • Fast food drive-thru just cow carcass and bucket for money
  • New evidence suggests Middle East conflict predates all human civilization
  • Obama fantasizes about ordering drone strike against self on last day of presidency
  • US encouraging Cuba to shift toward Democratic system of corruption

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Weekend) Youth Services Days
  • (Fri) Blah! Blah! Blah! Day, Day of Silence, Malbec Day, Nothing Like a Dame Day, Bat Appreciation Day, Ellis Island Family History Day, Ford Mustang Day, Haiku Poetry Day, Cheeseball Day, Sherlock Hemlock Day, Daffy Duck Day, Petunia Pig Day
  • (Sat) Jugglers Day, Animal Crackers Day, Adult Autism Day, Columnists Day, Golf Day, Pet Owners Independence Day, Amateur Radio Day, Husband Appreciation Day, Original Yankee Stadium Day, Auctioneers Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day, Paul Revere Day, Laundromat Day, Record Store Day
  • (Sun) Hanging Out Day, Amaretto Day, Bicycle Day, Garlic Day, Humorous Day, Oklahoma City Bombing Commemoration Day

To send you into the weekend, here are two big hits by big starts eligible for Act 2. Well … at least until I add them. 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. 254

Breaking News: (Friday, 7:15 AM edit) Sadness in Cincinnati as Lauren Hill has passed away, but she leaves a powerful example of perseverance  and a strong message of hope.

Given the Republican uproar over the deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program, I say that if President Obama negotiated the Republican preferences, the Republicans would disagree with the outcome.

A Federal grand jury has  charged Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with bribery. Someone in Washington involved in a bribery scheme? Say it ain’t so, Joe! No way! To clear his name, he needs to get in front of one of the two great oxymorons – the Senate Ethics Committee.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for President. Although he is interesting, and given his history of comments, I await the debate Sen. Paul has with himself. I chuckle at the contradiction of “returning to the Constitution” followed by calls to amend it.

In support of presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) It’s time for truth, here’s his scorecard on his statements rated by PolitiFacts.

From PolitFacts.com

From PolitFacts.com

Although the majority of Christians celebrated Easter last weekend, Happy Easter (this weekend) to my Christian Orthodox friends.

Sharna Burgess is one of my favorite pros on Dancing with the Stars … but I don’t like her current hair color.

Congratulations to Duke University for representing ABK as college basketball champions. (ABK stands for Anyone but Kentucky.) This means that I was happy that the University of Kentucky didn’t win the tournament, but their loss to Wisconsin didn’t pass my 3-prong test for my happiness.

Fortunately, I wasn’t drinking or eating anything (thus no spew) when I heard former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig say, “The job of the Commissioner is to protect the integrity of the sport.” At least not being in the job hasn’t stopped him from making an ass of himself.

Act 2 of Meals: The Musical should take to the stage next week, so I will announce the theme on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

Saturday Morning Cartoons returns with the next post!

To lead you into The Onion, here is their introduction to Rand Paul.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Narcissist convinced total strangers would want his organs
New app lets you work for your company even while you sleep
Geologists unearth fully intact rock
Conversational lamprey slowly draining life from dinner party
Sea World responds to California drought by draining animal tanks halfway

Interesting Reads
Anti-Obamacare Republican governors taking Obamacare grant money
American Pie: Obsessing its lyrics 
Gluteus and the Maximus (Sounds quite Shakespearean)
Everybody can sing?
Start baseball season with an article about Ty Cobb
Sex by the Numbers

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Weekend) National Pie Championships
  • (Fri) Audubon Day, Cinnamon Crescent Day, Farm Animals Day, Safety Pin Day, Siblings Day, ASPCA Day, Encourage a Young Writer Day, Golfers Day
  • (Sat) Eight Track Tape Day, Barbershop Quartet Day, Louie Louie Day, Baby Massage Day, Pet Day, Teach Children to Save Day, Chinese Fondue Day, Parkinson’s Disease Day, Table Top Day, Submarine Day, Slow Art Day, Education and Sharing Day
  • (Sun) Licorice Day (I love black licorice), Drop Everything and Read Day, Big Wind Day, Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, Look Up at the Sky Day, Reach as High as You Can Day, Day for Street Children, Day of Human Spaceflight, End Child Sexual Abuse Day

Given the celebrations, there should be any doubt what song will send you into the weekend, 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. 251

The kerfuffle about vaccinations has raised the ire of many. Here is a collection of worthwhile posts to help clarify various aspects of an issue I mentioned last week.

A note to Gov. Scott Walker (R-WS) and all presidential aspirants in both parties. When one seeks or considers seeking the highest office in the land, all questions are on the table … so ducking them isn’t a good idea. At least learn to give an answer that doesn’t answer the question – after all, that’s what candidates do well.

I learned to tune out Jay Carney when he was the White House Press Secretary (well, actually change the channel) but, at least I can listen to his replacement, Josh Earnest. Interestingly, when Carney is contributing on CNN, I still tune him out!

In a recent hearing, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) accused Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald of glossing over the extraordinary problems confronted by your department among others things. Cheers to Mr. McDonald for his replies

  • “I’m highly offended by your comments, Mr. Coffman.”
  • “I’ve run a large company (Procter & Gamble) sir, what have you done?”
  • “I’ve been here six months. You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.”

Life: The Musical is officially over, and Epilogue was a smashing finale. Thanks again to all participants, and as I’ve said many times, I’m the lucky one because I listen to all entries. Who knows, maybe someday I will list the collection of songs. Meanwhile, the next musical won’t be until mid-to-late March.

A tip of the hat to Dale for a valiant effort in catching up on Life: The Musical. At the time of this posting, he is approaching completion of all acts within 24 hours … and I listened to each entry … although she did receive the buzzer once (obviously from over confidence).

Interestingly, this is post #1600. After 6+ years of hosting over 52,000 comments,  plus who knows how many visits and comments elsewhere, I proudly say I only need the fingers on one hand to count the bloggers who truly irritated me. Thus my point – blogging is just like life because so much is about who one chooses to hang around.

No Saturday Morning Cartoon this weekend, but, I am working on the next one. After last week’s delightful trip to the Gobi Desert, wonder what person, place, or thing will be next … hmmmmm ….

To lead you into The Onion, here’s a graphic showing the results of their opinion poll about government requiring vaccinations.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Literary study finds all modern narratives derived from classic Alien vs. Predator conflict
Area woman not good enough artist to justify eccentricities
Scientists working to harness energy produced by intense fracking debates
Astronomers discover new planet that makes Earth look like S#-t
Health experts recommend standing up at desk, leaving office, and never coming back

Interesting Reads
American Ideas: a brief history
Baltic Dry: Not what I thought it meant
Doodles from Darwin’s children (Thursday was Darwin Day)
Columnist David Ignatius on acting like a superpower
Columnist David Brooks scandals and forgiveness
US-Cuba relations and Netflix

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Weekend) Great Backyard Bird Count, American International Toy Fair
  • (Fri) Blame Someone Else Day, Get a Different Name Day, Desperation Day, Employee Legal Awareness Day, Madly in Love with Me Day, Radio Day, Tortellini Day, International Condom Day
  • (Sat) Ferris Wheel Day, Quirky Alone Day, Pet Theft Awareness Day, Library Lovers Day, Have a Heart Day, Cream-filled Chocolate Day, National Condom Day, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day, League of Women Voters Day, Women’s Heart Day, Race Relations Day, Singles Appreciation Day, Donor Day, Telephone Day, Organ Donor Day, Marriage Day, Whale Day, Read to Your Child Day, Valentine’s Day
  • (Sun) Gum Drop Day, Hippo Day, Remember the Maine Day, Susan B Anthony Day, Clifford the Red Dog Day, Angelman Syndrome Day

Since hearing this classic song early in the week, it’s been crawling around in my head – so, it seems to be right for sending you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Congressional Budget

The 114th US Congress (435 Representatives and 100 Senators) is now in session. With Republicans controlling both chambers, it will be interesting to see how their relationship with a Democratic president unfolds.

Republicans love to champion a decrease in spending – of course, they do so while protecting their sacred cows and attacking the Democratic sacred cows. To me, one way the Republicans can legitimize decreased spending and promote their smaller government mantra (plus gain favor with the public) is by significant decreasing funding of their own operation – the budget for operating Congress. (I know, fat chance of that.)

For those that don’t know, the cost of operating Congress is about $1.7 billion per year. In the chart below, I examine salaries, staffing, and office expenses for each office and the Congressional committees.

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

The savings represent over $54,000,000. On the other hand, it’s only 3% of the Congressional operating budget. Nonetheless, it’s a start, which means there is more room to cut even more.

Hey Congress, when you are done looking at yourself, reforming the procurement process can deliver mega-savings – but I know, you won’t do that either. OK – back to your sacred cows.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 247

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline continues to make the news. Politically, it’s project that one party oversells the jobs impact while the other party overstates the environmental impact.

Very seldom do I read columnist Walter Williams because I find his brand of conservative to be off base. Besides, I demonstrated this January 2011 post his premise as wrong. No, not a disagreement, just flat-out wrong! Nonetheless, the title of his recent series of columns is Liberals Use of Black People for Own Agenda. My response is simple: I didn’t realize that conservatives don’t use any group for their own agenda.

The absence of a notable, high-level US representative at last weekend’s Paris rally was sad. At least the White House admitted they made a mistake.

I’m pleased with the number of Muslims who have spoken out against violence since the Paris tragedy, and I continue to believe that education within the Islamic community is the best vehicle against the Jihadists.

Two interesting political reads

The 2016 ambitions are testing the waters. Yep, Mitt Romney (R-MA) is interested in a third try focusing on poverty, and Mike Huckabee (R-AR) (while on his Guns, God, Grits, and Gravy book tour) slammed President Obama for letting his daughters listen to Beyonce. Let the parade begin, so bring on the clowns (and the party is open to all political parties).

The State of the Union is next week, but I’m not interested in a canned speech with predictable responses for the audience.

When will politicians (actually anyone) learn that most analogies to Adolph Hitler are not a good idea. A Dolt Award to Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX). He apologized, but a bit late.

People don’t believe me when I tell them what my dental specialist (implants) offers patients, so I took this picture after an implant-maintenance visit early this week.

DentistOffice

Every time I hear or read Click on, I cringe. It’s Click the image. It’s Click the button. It’s Click the icon. After all, have you ever been instructed to Click off the image?

Lauren Hill Update: She made it to Christmas, and then the new year. I saw this local news story Thursday evening, and she continues to impress everyone who knows her story. The foundation she started has raised over $1.2 million in 3 months as she continues to be a spokesperson for children with cancer (The Cure Starts Now Foundation)

Given Saturday’s celebration, I will have a cartoon post for Saturday.

I’m hoping for the next-to-the-last act of Life: The Musical to be next week, which means the theme will be on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s a powerful message from Mad magazine’s Editor-in-Chief as viewed on CBS Sunday Morning. (Thanks Mouse for finding this.)

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
HR Director reminds employees that any crying at work must be job related
Snorkeling instructor unaware he’s in background of 400 dating profile photos
First-year Congressman brings fresh roadblocks to table
Supreme Court gathers to watch baby justices hatch
Area man only one with problems
New archeological find suggests Mary Magdalene was actually a size 12

Interesting Reads
The wealthy gap between Europe and America: A brief history
The sun through an X-ray eye
Photo gallery from within Shenandoah National Park
Lincoln’s Writings: A book review
Different laughs for different people
Whale testicle beer

Your Weekend Celebrations
(Fri) Fetish Day, Fig Newton Day, Appreciate a Dragon Day, Hot & Spicy Food Day, Nothing Day
(Sat) Popeye Day, Rid the World of Fad Diets & Gimmicks Day, Ditch the New Years’ Resolutions Day, Cable Car Day, Customer Service Day, Hot Buttered Rum Day, Kid Inventors Day, Hot-Heads Chili Day, Polar Bear Swim Day
(Sun) Winnie the Pooh Day, Thesaurus Day, Maintenance Day, Peking Duck Day, Wish Elyse a Happy Birthday Day

Another 2-fer to send you into the weekend. The first video is for those willing to join Raye in a Friday celebration. Last, but not least, a song from T Rex to get you movin’. 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. 241

On Politics
Earlier this week the Senate voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline, a bill that President Obama was against (one reason being the release of carbon dioxide when burned). The pipeline would have been the 76th oil pipeline between Canada and the US. Interestingly, the oil will still move – but by rail – a method that releases much more carbon dioxide than the pipeline.

Writing this before President Obama’s announcement about immigration, I’m remain against the executive action for the following reasons: 1) Poor timing coming off the recent election, 2) President Obama has had 6 years to do this, 3) An effective date of early January 2015 does put onus on the new Congress 4) Many, if not the majority, of nonpartisan Americans are tired of continual gamesmanship, 5) the majority of Americans want productivity, and 6) no matter how the courts decide if faced with the issue, the majority of American won’t be happy that it went that far.

A different way of doing business was an important aspect of the “Hope and change” mantra, but the executive action actually points to business-as-usual while reinforcing the notion that Congressional Republicans haven’t cornered the market on political obstinance. On the other hand, the House not acting on a Senate-passed bill and the overall Republican idea of shallow taglines is quite pathetic. In the words of Clara Peller ….

The White House mishandled the news around Jonathan Gruber. All they had to do was a) admit they used him, b) state that he’s a smart guy, c) and point to the fact he sometimes says stupid things, of which they don’t approve. Meanwhile, dancing around those facts attempts to play to what we aren’t … and that’s stupid.

By keeping their Congressional leaders in power, the Democrats have an early start in pushing away the 2016 independent’s vote.

Except among the partisans, there isn’t much confidence in either party. Yes, President Obama has a low approval rating, but that of Congress is much lower. Pew Research Center provides this interesting article about the challenges of bipartisanship.

As Washington stymies progress and avoid solutions, I appreciated these two articles (National Journal) about the smallness of Washington: Part 1 & Part 2

On a lighter note, this one made me laugh … If a tree falls in the forest and Fox News is not there to cover it, is it still President Obama’s fault?

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Mellowing Jihadist not as enraged by western culture as he used to be
Paleontologists determine dinosaurs killed by someone they trusted
10th grade math prodigy studying math at 10th grade level
New law to forgive student debt for college graduates once all their dreams are shattered
Chinese citizens gather in Beijing square to watch US National Debt Clock strike $18 trillion
Astronomers discover planet identical to Earth with orbital space mirror (I like this accompanying image)

Interesting Reads
The causes behind the mid-life crisis
Geography and terrorism
Malta: An ancient fortress and the modern world
Life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Converting Facebook Likes of NFL teams into a map
(Gallery) Wildlife photography winners
(Interactive) What the world eats (This is outstanding)

On Potpourri
The latest on Lauren Hill is that her weakness is her practice time with basketball team … and I wonder if she sees 2015. Earlier this week, Xavier University (the game’s host) and Mt. St. Joseph University (her school) presented a check (over $58,000) from the game’s receipts and merchandise in honor of her to her fund-raising effort. Being the game sold out in less than an hour, it’s too bad the price wasn’t doubled from the $5 charge.

These words stuck with me this week: “Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end.” (By the mother of the recently beheaded American)

This past Wednesday was World Toilet Day. When I announced to start the week, Vanessa provided this outstanding link from the BBC about the day … and it is worth seeing! Thanks Vanessa!

The On Perceptions post from earlier in the week is an idea that came to me more than a year ago … so it was good to finally post it.

Over 8 feet (240+ cm) of snow south of Buffalo … That seems unbelievable!

Life: The Musical has been running every other week starting on a Wednesday night into Thursday. With next week being Thanksgiving in the US, I will temporarily shift curtain time to Tuesday at 9:30 pm (US Eastern). Therefore, I will continue to step outside of normal protocol, thus announce right now ….. Act 13 will have much leeway, thus many choices because it’s about Positive Emotions, so all song titles must include a positive emotion in the song title, BUT, love is not acceptable.

With a series of busy weekends on the horizon, I’m unsure about the next Saturday Morning Cartoon post.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) World Hello Day, Stuffing Day, False Confessions Day, Alascattalo Day (Alaska & Humor), Beaujolais Nouveau Day, Television Day
  • (Sat) Start Your Own Country Day (Anglestan), Cranberry Relish Day, Go for a Ride Day, Humane Society Day, Family Volunteer Day, Adoption Day, Survivors of Suicide Day, Stop the Violence Day
  • (Sun) Fibonacci Day (a past post for your celebration), Doctor Who Day, Jukebox Day, Mother Goose Day, Eat a Cranberry Day, Buy Nothing Day, You’re Welcome-Giving Day, Aura Awareness Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s some high energy from a concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. (Look closely, we may spot Debra in the crowd) … It’s the Doobie Brothers with China Grove. 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. 240

On Politics
Listening to all the sounds bites from various Washington leaders caused me to wonder: When they are talking in an interview or a news conference, for who is their message intended?

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blaming the result on a poor voter turnout is a prime example (to me) that the House Democrats need new leadership.

As some Congressional Republicans state, We want to work with President Obama … does that really mean We want President Obama to do what we want.

A Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute offers this interesting, initial assessment of a Senate led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
China vows to begin aggressively falsifying air pollution numbers
More Americans putting off marriage until ultimatum
Young child still developing antibodies to Mountain Dew
Completely uninhibited party guest still choosing to talk about work
Man trying to enter conversation spends several minutes nodding and smiling at edge of circle
Report: America still world leader in manufacturing excuses

Interesting Reads
Lincoln & Einstein: A Common Genius
History of hacking
WW I heroines
Argentina and the Tango
Why your fats don’t stink … (courtesy of Elyse)
Perception and wine flavors
(Photo Gallery) Underwater puppies
(Video) Every Alfred Hitchcock cameo

On Potpourri
Some newspapers have free viewing with a registration. For your cell phones and tablets, the Wall Street JournalWashington Post, and New York Times apps allow free viewing of a limited number of articles per month.

I miss CNN as the tiff between CNN’s owners and my satellite provider continues. Finding a replacement isn’t easy. The network morning shows are too light. Fox & Friends wouldn’t be worth my time. I can only take so much of Morning Joe because the focus is too narrow. I’m trying Aljazerra America, but (so far) it’s not capturing my fancy. So, it’s get a little news, and then switch to the radio for classical music to serve as my background.

Thanks for another great act in Life: The Musical. As I like to say, listening to all the songs is such a joy. The list of possible songs is exhausting, but this is what struck me the most. The theme was love … and at the time I write this, we’ve had participants from Canada, Greece, India, New Zealand, Sweden, and throughout the United States … and I love the goodness throughout the world!

Dancing with the Stars is moving toward a season conclusion. We continue to watch it because he enjoy it. At least it took longer this season for someone less deserving to stay in place of a better dancer. Lea Thompson was good from the start, and steady … but much improved?

For those missing my handbell updates, here’s a video of the song my wife’s choir played last weekend (done by a different choir). Not a toe-tapper or a commonly known hymn, but it is interesting.

Here’s the list of cars I’ve had since getting my driver’s license in 1969. The order is close – any observations? Chevelle, Cutlass, Malibu, Cutlass, Chevette, Corsica, Achieva, Cierra, Lumina, Prism, Malibu, Outback

With a series of busy weekends on the horizon, I’m unsure about the next Saturday Morning Cartoon post.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Pickle Day, Loosen Up – Lighten Up Day, Teddy Bear Day, Educational Support Personnel Day, Kindness Day, Spicey Guacamole Day, Diabetes Day, Operating Room Nurses Day
  • (Sat) Roc Your Mocs Day, Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, Recycling Day, I Love to Write Day, Bundt (Pan) Day, Day of Play, Philanthropy Day, Guinness World Record Day
  • (Sun) Button Day, Day of Tolerance, Fast Food Day, Have a Party with a Bear Day, Road Traffic Victims Remembrance Day

Because I gave the list of my car history, this title fits to send you into the weekend – Vehicle by the Ides of March. Besides, I never knew that the lead singer here was also a founding member of Survivor (and he co-wrote Eye of the Tiger). Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.