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. 252

This week was the fifth year anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since then, the White House and its departments did a lousy job educating the public, and Congress has done absolutely nothing to improve the ACA. On the other hand, nothing is something Congress does well. Cheers to Ron Fournier for this National Journal article.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. I smiled at the announcement because I continue to say his nomination is exactly what the Republican party needs. Maybe I should endorse him.

During the first three months of their Congressional majority, Republicans have not shown me that they can lead.

Have you ever seen the International Space Station fly overhead? Thanks to Jim in Iowa, here’s a website to determine when that happens in your area.

The leading thought was that college basketball player Lauren Hill wouldn’t see Christmas. Well, she did … and New Years Day … and Valentine’s Day … and St. Patrick’s Day. Although she may be struggling, she is a fighter and her attitude remains positive.

Did you realize I’m mentioned in Lorna’s video?

For the sidebar, I followed Catherine’s suggestion of displaying the blogger’s location with a rollover. See yours if it’s correct, and let me know if you want me to change it. I need help with List of X.

No Saturday Morning Cartoon this weekend, but an edition of the Explore series is ready – thus you can wonder if it will be a person, place, or thing.

Meals: The Musical debuts next week, and I’m side-stepping my normal protocol. Act 1: Meals will feature songs with any of the following words in the title: Meal(s), Breakfast, Lunch, Lunchtime, Brunch, Dinner, Dinnertime, or Supper. More about the debut on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s a week in pictures.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Report: Employees most innovative when brainstorming dramatic quitting scenarios
  • Man filled with gratitude at sight of other customers in nice restaurant wearing jeans
  • Study: Not many Disco songs about daytime
  • New speech recognition software factors in user’s mouth always being full
  • Siblings playing tense game of chicken to decide who takes care of mom
  • Michael Dukakis still drives old tank everywhere

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Weekend) Crossword Puzzle Days, Listening Weekend
  • (Fri) Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, Joe Day, Corkscrew Appreciation Day,Celebrate Exchange Day, Viagra Day, Spanish Paella Day, Kite Flying Day, Photography Day, Steam Fire Engine Day, Education & Sharing Day
  • (Sat) Barnum & Bailey Day, Be Mad Day, Virtual Advocacy Day, Weed Appreciation Day, Earth Hour, Black Forest Cake Day, Something on a Stick Day, Hot Tub Day, Eat an Eskimo Pie Day, Children’s Picture Book Day
  • (Sun) Vietnam Veterans Day, Mom & Pop Business Owners Day, Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day, Love Your Children Day, Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, Coca Cola Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a relatively recent video of a classic from the 1979 album Breakfast in America – enjoy Supertramp’s Take the Long Way Home. 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. 249

Although reporters love to ask Sarah Palin (R-AK) if she’ll seek the presidency in 2016, I declare that Nincompoop will not run because doing so would ruin her diminishing brand. Besides, her recent speech in Iowa even caused conservative media pundit Sean Hannity scratched his head. Then again, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stated, She’do great. She predictably blamed the lame-stream media for pre-planning any criticism of her speech. Good night Nincompoop, turn out the lights as the party is over.

Given the topic, I expected yesterday’s post about Congress’s operating budget wouldn’t get much traction … then again, my purpose was to increase awareness.

Here are two outstanding interactives

Earlier this week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, yet the reports of this human embarrassment remain chilling. As the survivors dwindle in number, I can only hope that humanity never forgets. Here’s a story about a survivor on his return trip this year – actually, his first.

Here’s a strong opinion about an upcoming Supreme Court ruling about housing.

If all goes as planned, Life: The Musical comes to an end. I’ll announce the final act’s theme on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

Several ideas are vying for the next musical, but time will tell the choice.

Online comments in posts and articles are in a world of their own – especially at the major publications. I like the invitation to comment by Barry Ritholz.

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forego all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

Sunday is Super Bowl XLIX. Did you know that next year will be the first Super Bowl using standard numbers?

No Saturday Morning Cartoon or Explore post this weekend. Given a new month lies ahead, Saturday’s post is dedicated to February. After all, given only 28 days in the month, time is valuable.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their blizzard survival tips and a list of the least inspiring biographical movies.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Family lets cars come inside during snowstorm
Nation’s historians warn the past is expanding at alarming rate
Man’s area code provides exciting glimpse at past life
Postal Service unveils new stamp honoring Americans who still use Postal Service
Republicans address income inequality with middle class hot stock tip
Study links negative Tweets to more heart disease

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Inane Answering Message Day, Yodel for Your Neighbors Day, Escape Day, Jazz Day, Snagglepuss Day (a Saturday honoree), Fun at Work Day, Croissant Day, Pre-School Fitness Day
  • (Sat) Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, Seed Swap Day, Backwards Day, Hell is Freezing Over Day, Brandy Alexander Day, Street Children Day, Child Labor Day, Appreciate Your Social Security Check Day
  • (Sun) Working Naked Day, Serpent Day, Spunky Old Broads Day, Popcorn Day, Rare Disease Day, Car Insurance Day, Change Your Passwords Day, Decorating with Candy Day, Baked Alaska Day, Hula in the Coola Day, Women’s Heart Day, Freedom from Slavery Day, G.I. Joe Day, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Day, Skippy Peanut Butter Day, Girls & Women in Sports Day, Face & Body Art Day, Robinson Crusoe Day, Super Bowl XLIX

To send you into the weekend, here’s a classic from a classic artist who needs no introduction. 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. 248

In a political way, I’m very lucky. After all, my Republicans friends think I’m a Democrat while my Democratic friends think I’m a Republican … thus I combined the two thoughts into an affirmation.

I didn’t watch the State of the Union (SOTU) because it’s too much like an infomercial. All that’s missing is a Billy-Mays-type spokesperson. The event displays a canned speech delivering a collection of soundbites with minimal substance leading to predictable responses and buffoonery by those choosing to display partisanship over listening with respect.

Yes, the US Constitution requires SOTU, but not the opposing party’s televised response – and the mere fact that they have one is repulsive (let alone the multiple this year) … and I am equally disgusted at a Democratic response during a Republican presidency.

President Obama plan for free tuition at community colleges has received much attention. This response by columnist David Brooks is an interesting slant to ponder.

Regarding Islam, are the majority of non-Muslims confused or ignorant?

A board member from our local Islamic Center wrote had this guest commentary in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although interesting, the online comments are even more so.

Malcolm recently posted about epitaphs … here’s my submission – If you didn’t understand him, you didn’t know him … now I wonder if the thought should be flipped.

Hats off to reader for providing 26 songs (at last count) at Life: The Musical – Act 16. There’s still one more act, any ideas on the theme?

No Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend – however … big news … an Exploring post will be there!

Here’s the reason why Saturday is Beer Can Appreciation Day.

To lead you into The Onion, here is a collection regarding the State of the Union.

This Week from The Onion
New Facebook Notification alerts users when they are not currently looking at Facebook
Area man clearly came to Redbox machine without a plan
Man reserving judgment on Best Actress nominees until seeing all 5 photos
Area man eats breakfast for dinner in desperate attempt to reinvent his life
Preschooler asks to borrow classmates notes on shapes

Interesting Reads
An article with a 5-circle Venn diagram about potential GOP presidential candidates
Designer babies
Politicians avoiding science is not limited to the US
Cartography and the land of the octopus
A historical look at Congressional dysfunction
A different, but interesting graphic about the history of jazz

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day, Handwriting Day, Pie Day, Measure Your Feet Day, Rhubarb Pie Day, Spouse’s Day
  • (Sat) Talk the a Grizzled Prospector Day, Fancy Rat & Mouse Day, Beer Can Appreciation Day, Belly Laugh Day, Compliment Day, Just Do It Day, Peanut Butter Day, Eskimo Pie Day, Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Today, Speak Up & Succeed Day, Wish Cynthia a Happy Birthday Day
  • (Sun) Soup Swap Day (here’mine for you), Fluoride Day, A Room of One;s Own Day, MacIntosh Computer Day, 101 Dalmatian Day, Opposite Day, Robert Burns Day, Leprosy Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 2-fer … the first is one that surprisingly was not submitted for latest Life: The Musical, and the second is a hit from Journey. 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. 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.