Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 341

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Last week we attended live theater 3 nights in a row: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, An Evening with Groucho, and Cabaret. The first two were at the Cincinnati Playhouse where we usher, and the later was a community theater production.

We saw the latest movie rendition of Murder on the Orient Express. If you don’t know who did it, it’s a good (not great) who-done-it movie … but I thought the beginning was too slow.

Last week our handbell choir played Fantasy on an Irish Tune (one many will recognize). For those enjoying handbell music, here’s a recording (not us) of the song, one that we had only a short time to prepare. Meanwhile, this week we started the preparing for a busy December.

If you appreciate outdoor murals, see these extraordinary works. (Thanks to Raye for leading me to these.)

College basketball season is underway. With two strong teams in my city (that are only 3.5 miles/5.6 km apart), expectations are high – especially after a lousy football season.

Sharing our British Isles cruise will continue this weekend – and the end should be before the next edition of OITS. The next post will feature the biggest surprise of the trip.

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I’m awaiting responses from both my Republican Representative Wenstrup and Republican Senator Portman to the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, or Texas: No matter the location of a mass shooting, a common Republican soundbite describe the result as “a mental health issue.” What has your party – Republicans – done to address the issue since December 14, 2012? (As of this posting, no answer from either person.)

Seems Congress is aiming for a temporary tax cut … sunset provisions are not tax reform! Then again, much of what they are doing isn’t reform, just mere tinkering with the existing system. The Republicans are stuck between a pushy president and the desperate need to do something. So, they have backed themselves into the corner and can’t make good politics out of bad policy. On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with only saying “No” because they can’t develop a message of a better way.

A divisive president, partisan-driven Congress, and the blind rhetoric of partisan voters has turned me into more fervent independent than I was before. I enjoyed this article from Pew Research Center and the interactive (also from Pew) I listed in Interesting Reads below.

Now this is a classic. A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry referred to President Trump as an “old lunatic” – so President Trump responded, Why would Kim Jong-un called me “old”?

Not to be outdone, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh offered this head-banging-against-the-wall  defense for Senator Roy Moore (R-AL): “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers a list of ways to make a difference your local community.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Toddler scientists finally determine number of peas that can fit in the ear canal
Neither boss nor employee paid enough to deal with each other
Flu takes down biggest guy in the office as warning to rest of staff
Doctors discover the purpose of appendix is to contain human soul
90% of bike accidents preventable by buying a car

Interesting Reads
Relationships: Saudi Arabia and its neighbors
How Cincinnati made the JFK files
People and information
Glass terrarium that changed the world
The most painted woman in the world
(Interactive) Political polarization in the US since 1994
(Photos) Facts about sunsets

For your weekend entertainment, here’s Sir Paul performing another classic Beatles song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 340

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Sorry to interrupt the cruise tour of the British Isles, but think of Opinions in the Shorts as a cruise day without a port. So far we’ve visited Guernsey, Cork, Cobh, and Dublin. Do you have a favorite? Liverpool is the next stop sometime Saturday.

Last week I forgot to mention the passing of Henry, Fiona’s father. Henry was up in age (36) for a hippo, had a hard time fighting an infection that eventually led to kidney failure. Here’s a positive column at the hippo family from the Cincinnati Enquirer focusing on Henry.

Two weeks to go on the current season of Dancing With The Stars. There is no question in my mind that Jordan Fisher is the best dancer. The question: Will the fan voting validate that point?

We the movie LBJ. We enjoyed it, but I’m not sure how long it will stay in theaters.

It’s Cincinnati Pizza Week … and as of this writing, we have yet to participate. 😦

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Some say that Tuesday’s election served as an anti-Trump referendum. My thoughts on that point.

  • Not only are some voters predictable partisan, another slice is fickle – fluid – always changing with the flow.
  • New Jersey: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Republican in a solid Democratic state. NOPE
  • Virginia: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Democrat in a state won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. NOPE.
  • Virginia: Democrats unseating 15 Republicans in the state Legislature. BINGO!
  • Maine: Voters solidly passed Medicaid expansion over objections from their Republican governor. YAHTZEE! … at least in terms of health care.

Last week’s shooting at a church in Texas brings forth numerous emotions: including the typical Republican response saying the situation is not a gun issue, but a mental health issue – which sparks me to ask two questions: What have the Republicans done to address mental health issues in the past 10 years? Why haven’t the Democrats pushed the Republicans on their own words?

I looked at the GOP tax-form postcard. Whereas the current tax form follows a list-to-list-then-calculate format, card filers must complete calculations “off” the postcard before entering a value. In other words, simplifying the process and the code is a ruse – but it is in need of a thorough review!

About the tax plan, I liked this article from Politico.

Several weeks ago I watched an interview with columnist Thomas Friedman. I like his analogy (and I paraphrase). Donald Trump and many of his supporters are first paragraph people. The first paragraph states a position as “get rid of (fill in the blank)” (NAFTA, the Iran Nuclear Deal, or whatever). But when faced with the “then-what” question, they don’t have an answer because there isn’t a second or third paragraph.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for getting organized.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man resolves to read the Wikipedia tabs he has already open before starting new ones
Woman wearing jacket indulging in forbidden pleasure of having pockets
Excitement shifts to concern after coworker brings baked goods into office for fourth consecutive day
Styrofoam to spend next 500 years reflecting on how well it protected blender in transport
Office bad boy sees right through team-building exercise

Interesting Reads
Linking forensics and doll houses
The power of Calypso music
Dodger Stadium: The communities it replaced
The Lady Gaga of the 1920s
Science transforming the world
US cars is Japan

For your weekend entertainment, here’s another classic that still sounds great today. Besides, the next cruise stop is Liverpool. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 338

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Carefully observers have noticed that my posting has been a bit erratic and my responding to comments has been very slow. This has been primarily due to the time spent working on the situation of an out-of-town aunt. Thanks to all for being patient, understanding, and caring.

Phase 2 (of 3) in preparing an aunt’s house for sale is complete – so 3+ hour trips should not be as numerous as we enter Phase 3. Phase 2 was definitely the most critical and the most time-consuming .. and we proudly check that box!

I’m hoping November will be better for blogging (visiting and posting) than October.

A milestone: I’ve started the process of receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Blink Cincinnati was an unbelievable success. Hopefully several posts in the future.

Readers here know I enjoy posting about murals in Cincinnati – primarily the ones by ArtWorks. Here’s an article from the New York Times about public art. Thanks Raye!

It’s possible that the song below is the hardest handbell piece our choir has ever played. Our one-shot performance is approaching, so time will tell. “Mixed meter” is a musical term for a piece with different time signatures within the piece. This piece (the one we are playing) changes timing over 75 times. Now that plays havoc on my nerves.

Because this weekend marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two related articles are in this week’s Interesting Reads.

This season of Dancing With the Stars continues to surprise me. Actor Jordan Fisher and musician Lindsey Stirling have been exceptional. Television personality Vanessa Lachey continues to shine. Actor Frankie Muniz, wrestler Nikki Bella, ESPN’s Victoria Arlen are solid, while Property Brother Drew Scott and athlete Terrell Own continue to improve.

Contrary to some partisans, the situation involving scumbag Harvey Weinstein is not a political issue.

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A tip of the cap to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA for at least trying to develop a bipartisan agreement regarding the Affordable Care Act – even co-sponsored by 24 senators. Another proposal from a bipartisan group on the House side faces similar obstacles: a group representing slightly less than 10% of the House of Representatives.

I have no problem with a Congressional committee investigating the sale of US uranium mines to Russians ONCE – not over and over – not as a dragged-on affair trying to find something that isn’t – not as a political witch hunt.

I liked this question regarding North Korea and nuclear weapons: Would you rather live with North Korea having nuclear weapons or have thousands killed in the name of stopping North Korea from having weapons?

After 9 months in office, President Trump uses the following strengths to lead the country: bolivating, exaggerating, lying, blaming, defecting, distorting, denying, ignoring, fabricating, and dividing. Cheers to this CNN commercial about two popular fruits.

Erick Erickson is definitely a conservative, but I appreciate his words about the way President Trump is reacting to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

But sometimes the President should be Presidential and getting in the mud is not. The people of Puerto Rico are hungry, thirsty, homeless, and fearful. They won’t hear a lot about President Trump’s twitter fight and it won’t matter to him because they cannot participate in the Electoral College. It should matter to all of us though that the President is so willing to get in the mud and fight back when the mayor and everyone else in Puerto Rico need our empathy and compassion. Sometimes the President just does not need to dial-up the jackass and sometimes he does not need to be defended.

Cheers to recent comments by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) for having the guts to call it like it is. Then again, that’s a meager minority.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for organizing a protest.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
New evidence reveals Pythagoras wrote dozens of unhinged conspiracy theories about triangles
Romantic gesture too expensive to waste on current girlfriend
Nation demands more slow-motion footage of running basset hounds
Article nauseous from constant scrolling
Self-conscious panda swears it overheard zookeeper refer to it as “Giant”
Historians discover meditation spread from Ancient China by annoying monk who wouldn’t shut up about how it changed his life

Interesting Reads
Martin Luther and Literacy
Robots and ethics: teachable?
Odd pet behaviors
Historical aspects of doughnuts
Martin Luther’s impact
(Photos) British Press Photographer Awards

For your weekend entertainment, hooray for an early contribution from the Fab Four. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Leadership

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Leaders treat people the way they want to be treated

Leaders build themselves up by building up others

Leaders surround themselves with the best people

Leaders give the team credit for success, and place failure on themselves

Leaders are not afraid to take risks and make mistakes

Leaders are aware of their leadership style and learn how their style comes across to their team

Leaders are effective communicators

Leaders respect others

Leaders care about the people involved

Leaders are honest and demonstrate integrity

Leaders are able to get people engaged and leverage the strength of others

Leaders empower people

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Leaders building competencies and focus on the right things

Leaders are able to tolerate frustration and stress

Leaders deliver results

Leaders are active, expressive, optimistic, and energetic

Leaders have a sense of duty and carry a high standard of excellence

Leaders are thick-skinned

Leaders are practical, logical, and to-the-point, yet flexible and open to change

Leaders are secure – no need to seek approval

Leaders are socially aware and careful in their social interactions

Leaders envision the future and convince others and lead them in a new direction

Leaders are alert and focused

This man is not a leader

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 334

Cincinnati Zoo image

This is one of the first family pictures of Fiona with her parents (Harry and Bibi). For whatever reason, I see The Simpsons in this photo. Fiona continues to make great progress as well as integrating with her parents. For more photos and information, see these short updates from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Thanks for writers and readers involved with the Footprints Challenge. I appreciated the variety of the 14 stories (to date), which included 3 from newcomers (a pleasant surprise) – although my intent was not to expand my audience. A toast to the Canadian contingent that provided 5 stories. Special thanks to Dale who read and commented on all the stories.

If all goes as planned, a beach walk should return next week.

We recommend the movie Baby Driver. It was fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, and loaded with music accompanying the action.

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The Middle East has been an unsettled mess for many years. Here are three articles worth readings: by Marc Ginsberg, by Aaron David Miller, and by the Washington Post.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RJA-KY) says that (if the Senate bill fails) he will have to work with Democrats to strengthen the health care insurance market. I have two comments: Too damn bad, Mitch … and … No shit, Sherlock.

Yes, gerrymandering of district lines is a problem now, and has always been a problem. Democrats complaining about it forget they are also guilty; and Republicans forget they would also be complaining if the Democrats did the same thing.

I found this statement more than odd when I first heard it and it has stuck with me ever since. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (Donald Trump, July 27, 2016)

Got to love this one. President Trump recently described his performance as having done “more in five months than practically any president in history.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how to recover from embarrassing situations.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mariana Trench once again named worst place to raise a child
New iPhone app alerts users to imminent sidewalk collisions with other iPhone users
done more in five months than practically any president in history
Blindfolded taste test participants keep knocking over bottles of soda
Late-arriving guest encouraged to load up on food that has been sitting in sun for past 4 hours

Interesting Reads
European migration with Europe
Contrasting capitalism: Apple and Google
The underwater world of Antarctica
The road of 1000 stories
Big Ben: The bell
(Photos) Weird but amazing bridges

For your weekend entertainment, this is not my favorite mashup of dancing scenes from old movies, but it is a lot of fun – and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling fits. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 332

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When I published my return post, it was nice to see the spike on the graph of daily statistics. More importantly, it was great get to comments from friends all of the world. Thanks to all for the kind words and welcoming return.

I hope to announce a writing challenge in the next edition of this series.

Baby Fiona, (Cincinnati Zoo’s rock star baby hippo) continues to make great progress. Fiona now has a beer named after her, she is featured in a set of playing cards (we have), and continues to be a media darling. She does not regularly appear at the zoo’s exhibit, but she is making great progress bonding with her mother (Bibi) and father (Henry). Below are several links for videos.

With Amazon bid to purchase Whole Foods, this short clip (1-minute) is perfect.

 

In a pile of recyclable materials at a recycling center, what color do you think is the most dominant? (Answer later in this post.)

My wife and I are still enjoying ballroom dancing. Big news would be that we have changed instructors, and a big thumbs-up to our new one.

Did you know:

  • Otto Warmbier, the college student detained in North Korea who returned to the US in a coma and then died within days, was a Cincinnatian. I happened to be in his community the day before his funeral … and the trees lining the streets had blue and white ribbons tied around them.
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the congressman who first attended to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) at the unfortunate, despicable shooting, is my representative.

Cardboard brown from all the shipping boxes is the most common color in a recycling pile. This has changed through the years, and given all the online purchasing people do today, this shouldn’t be surprising.

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American politics is not only frustrating, but is also has become a waste of my time and energy. It reminds of playground squabbles in order to see who gets their way, which actually solves nothing more than determining who gets their way – but this doesn’t mean I’m completely disengaging! No matter the political party, this is what I hear when politicians talk.

I’m no longer listing items for blaming former President Obama because (by now) realizes that he is responsible for everything wrong in the world over the past 10 years and for all ills to come over the next 30 years.

President Trump is a bully who disregards the institution and traditions of government because he thinks he is king.

After the House vote on the Republican-written health care law (AHCA) designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), I wrote these words to Rep. Wenstrup after the Cincinnati Enquirer published his column.

Thank you for sharing your story of the health issues in your family as well as your point of view concerning the ACA and the AHCA. You should know that as a political independent, I characterize your “Yes” vote for the AHCA without an assessment by the Congressional Budget Office as incompetent and a prime example of favoring the interest of your party over serving the best interests of the people in our district and all Americans. Health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how cell phones have changed our lives.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Health scare prompts man to overeat healthier
Earth ranked as number 1 party planet
New study finds no long-term health benefits
Man pulling on loose hangnail slowly unravels skin from entire body
Beauty industry exec keeps photo of crying 15-year-old girl on desk to remind himself why he does this

Interesting Reads
Sagan’s baloney detection kit
Continued fascination with Phineas Gage
Tree-climbing goats
A personal view of cystic fibrosis and the benefits of research
(Photos) 91 picture of 91 years of Queen Elizabeth II

To send you into the weekend, here’s a fun song that you may not know. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 329

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This past week has been cold in Cincinnati and across the eastern half of the country. At least that big snowstorm missed us.

Last weekend our handbell choir attended a regional festival with almost 400 ringers. The event starts late afternoon Friday and goes until late afternoon Saturday. Given so much time there, a time change, and our prepared song for church not quite ready, our director cancelled us playing on Sunday – which was a big relief to all of us. We will continue to work on the piece as we will try to work it into a service before we break for the summer.

Because we wanted to see it before it closes sometime in April, this week we visited the Vikings: Beyond the Legend travelling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Thumbs up – but I don’t know the exhibits future schedule. I didn’t know they spoke Vikinese, invented Vicodin, and knew to blame Obama. Here’s the link to the Cincinnati exhibit; plus, I hope to post about it in the future.

Have you considered banana pancakes for your weekend? Watch to see what I mean.

At the last weekend’s festival, a guest choir played a concert where I heard this beautiful piece of a popular song that you probably know. I invite you to listen.

My wife gets to celebrate her birthday on a holiday – and St. Patrick’s Day is here. Happy Birthday!

Some readers enjoyed the timeline link from The Atlantic. In honor of my wife’s birthday, here’s the link again.

Reminder: Sunday is Buzzard Day – the day the buzzards return to Hinckley.

I will have a Saturday post – which will be one for Resa’s month-long dedication to kids.

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Not only do I want answers to the charges of wiretapping at Trump Tower, I want some heads to roll – whomever it may be.

Predictable statements from the White House and each political party followed the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The interpretations are different enough causing one to wonder if they read the same report. Then again, they love to make a nonpartisan report partisan. In their attempt to appease the partisans, I say “Happy cherry picking, jackasses.”

Readings about the health care bill

One would think that our elected officials could find some common group to solve a problem – but that would require listening, not walking with tugging sacred cows, thinking outside the box, and seeking for the common good of constituents. Yep – old colloquialism “fat chance” is very applicable.

Did anyone notice there is a new party-of-no in town?

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
A stretch of cold weather after a very mild winter
The Congressional Budget Office being nonpartisan
Fig tree problems in Italy
Behavior of TSA agents
My attitude toward our politicians

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a public service by providing tips to keep your personal information secure.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nation Leery Of Very Odd Little Boy
Area man thinks he’s better than uneducated wife beater
Police satisfied when local drunk man assures them there is no problem
Happily married, 100 percent heterosexual father of three had that doggone dream again
Scientists discover existence of Homo Sapien subspecies which enjoys and is influenced by Red Bull ads

Interesting Reads
Issues holding back driverless cars
FDR’s floating White House
Police chiefs, sanctuary cities, and decreasing crime
Brain activity and those who don’t like music
Debunking 9 myths about Hinduism
(Photo essay) Geometry and architecture
(Photos with brief descriptions) The beauty of Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains

This past Wednesday was the Ides of March, so this is the only way to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.