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.

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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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 349

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A friend will be my dance partner when we do a Bolero this spring at the studio both of us attend. Several years ago at the same event, she and I did a tango that some people still talk to us about. (FYI: My wife doesn’t like being the only two on the floor). For those interested, click the video below. FYI: Use the music for background while reading the post because not much to see in the video (on purpose). Hope you enjoy the song.

There are teens dumb enough to eat detergent pods?

Recently saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Definitely a movie with only a few good characters. Cheers to Frances McDormand for her Golden Globe performance. Interesting story, so Thumbs Up! The same for Darkest Hour – and to think that movie covered about 2-3 weeks.

Fiona, Cincinnati’s darling hippo, turns one on January 24th.

What a coincidence. On the day when WalMart announces increases in wages and benefits, it abruptly closed 63 of its Sam’s Club stores.

Last weekend our bell choir returned from the holidays to play a song with one rehearsal – and it went well! Click here for the video of our choir playing Day by Day (arranged by Anna Laura Page).

This is post #1998. There will be a post early Saturday, therefore #2000 should be Sunday evening (US Eastern). I hope you get a chance to stop by to say hello.

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I watched (on Netflix) David Letterman’s interview with Barack Obama. Very enjoyable.

I learned about President Trump’s degrading comments about many immigrants after publishing the last edition of OITS. I typically take the high road, but here’s my commentary: A shithole comment by a shithead.

As much as many like to complain about President Trump, I tend to laugh a lot – but complain about the Republicans who a) justify his actions, b) deflect his actions, and/or c) say nothing.

Three US Senators give two vastly different accounts of a meeting led by President Trump. At least 1 of the 3 is intentionally lying – not stretching the truth – intentionally lying. At least one senator, dutifully elected by the people to represent the people of his state, is lying with the purpose of favoring the party on an important issue instead of representing the people. Actually, this action is one step beyond partisanship normally exhibited by members of Congress.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic showing the pros and cons of electric cars.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Wall wishing it were load bearing
Audiobook narrator going for broke with Cajun accent
New after-school program aims to keep children off streets for additional 45 minutes
Opera ends on unexpected high note
Perfectly good dead body cremated

Interesting Reads
Global media habits
Man carving long road in mountain (not an Onion headline)
Tourism and Guinness
Choosing between a bull or a man
Almost wiping-out 16th Century Mexico
(Infographic) Global Millionaires
(Photos) National Geographic: Best Photos of Animals of 2017

To send you into the weekend, here’s another group that will soon be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What a fun, old-style video! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 347

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Cheers to the first OITS of 2018. Hope the new year is off to a good start for you.

Our tradition is to have shredded pork roast and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes as a New Year’s Day meal. Do you have any traditions to start the year?

My little corner of the world got it’s 300,000th visit sometime between 8-12 pm on New Years’ Eve. I didn’t see the rollover because we at a New Years Eve dance. Next milestone is the 2000th post (this one is #1990).

This weekend’s post will involve a challenge. HINT for advanced planning: A challenge to readers to use (in a comment) a word (in English) that has never appeared on this blog. 

For Netflix viewers looking for a simple, wholesome show, my wife loves Heartland, a Canadian-based show set in Alberta.

A tip of the cap to college football coach Scott Frost. His UCF team had a great season, then he accepted the head coach position at his alma mater (Nebraska). Unlike what most other coaches have done, Frost did two jobs – therefore, coached UCF in their bowl game – one of the biggest games in school history – and UCF won.

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Needing a gain of only 2 seats, Democrats are excited about the possibility of gaining control of the Senate with the November 2018 election. While Democrats are wistfully hopeful in about maybe 5 races currently held by Republicans, they face tough challenges to retain seats in 10 races. Bottom line: Odds may be better on the House side.

I wonder how much higher President Trump’s approval rating would be if he didn’t tweet.

Thanks to those who truly understood my crystal ball post about Trumpian Nostradamus (the previous post).

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists ways the world has changed since Donald Trump’s election.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Starbucks unveils $7 wake-up slap
Earth’s successful completion of orbit around Sun inspires woman to reflect on eating habits
NASA celebrates 60th anniversary of launching first moon to orbit Earth
Man at center of political spectrum under impression he is less obnoxious
TJ Maxx recreates in-store shopping experience with new website that randomly scatters products all over the place

Interesting Reads (as a whole, a bit more relaxing than usual)
A transformation: Muslims and American culture
How not to be the Ugly American when travelling abroad
Reviewing a view of 2018 from 1968
Interesting findings from 2017
The most expensive mile of subway
The birth of Emojis
(Photos) BBC’s Best submitted photos of 2017

To kick off the 2018 OITS, here’s a 2017 Kennedy Center Honoree who delivered a great show back in the day. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 346

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For those willing to have some background music, here’s something interesting: Il Divo’s version of the Moody Blues hit Nights in White Satin.

I hope everyone had a good holiday. We travelled a few hours to my family several days before Christmas, but returned as the handbell choir played at 2 Christmas Eve services. We will host my wife’s side of the family in early January.

Bone-chilling temperatures are smacking many of us in the USA. YUK!

Hope you didn’t miss it, but this past Tuesday night was another great year of entertainment at The Kennedy Center Honors show (CBS). The honorees were having a great time! It worth looking around for it.

The recent 15th post in the Beach Walk series is the last … well, at least until I return to the beach. After all, having authentic beach walks is important to me.

John Howell (Fiction Favorites) and I are starting a business together where we aim to provide blaming solutions to anyone’s problems. Blames Are UsWe assign blame to any and all situations. Get your problems ready because the time will come when John and I will solve your problems right here on these pages.

A video recently inspired me to write a short story (I’m aiming at less than 300 words). I’ll post it here sometime soon.

Unfortunately, we only saw one between the holidays: Downsizing (with Matt Damon). An interesting premise, but I felt the storyline was a bit unsteady. On the plus side, it provides numerous chances to think about human behaviors. No need to rush to see this one.

The next post will lead us into 2018.

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Congratulations to Congress as it didn’t do anything stupid this week. Of course, not being in session helps.

I had to laugh at the statements both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made about future bipartisan agreements. Hey guys – that means you have to do three things: 1) Sincerely reach out, 2) Know that you won’t get your way, and 3) give them something substantial in return. After all, seeking bipartisanship is more than inviting the other side to follow your way.

Not only ago the US Supreme Court heard the argument from a Colorado baker who contends the right to deny making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). This article about a Indiana University study bothers me.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers suggestions on being a savvy news consumer. 

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman stood up on first date got all drunk for nothing
Dad gets dolled up for trip to Lowe’s
Uncle puts more thought than usual into this year’s gift cards
Alcoholic’s plan for turning life around doesn’t involve getting sober
Cockroaches feeling really good about the planet

Interesting Reads (as a whole, a bit more relaxing than usual)
The Crown’s recreation of Buckingham Palace
About ArtWorks, Cincinnati organization responsible for many great murals
Thoughts about tamales
Digitizing important old manuscripts
A new way to see cancer
(Photos) Beautiful bird pictures by Cindy Knoke (a visitor here)
(Photos) Most dramatic weather images of 2017

To lead you closer to the new year, here’s the last in the Beatles series that I’ve been doing since returning from the UK. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.