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.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 246

This week’s terrorist attack in Paris was horrifying. Strength to the French, and peace to the many Muslims who condone condemn such brutality in the name of religion. Much of life is about two virtues that a few people lack: respect and tolerance.

Note: The previous paragraph shows an edit with the original word in place. Using that word was an honest mistake, and I apologize. A special thanks to Lame for pointing this out to me in private.

Congress is back in session … gag!

In his recent WSJ column, I appreciate these words by William Galston:

Although both the executive and judicial branches play a role in the legislative process, the people’s elected representatives are supposed to drive this process. When they fail to do so, the legitimacy of popular government is called into question. Along with partisan commitments, members of Congress have constitutional responsibilities, and it is time for members of both parties to start honoring them. …

For the most part, though, there are only two choices—continued gridlock or compromises in which each party gives ground on matters it cares about. …. Both sides would have to eat some crow, but the dish might still be palatable.

Cheers to the fact checker at the Washington Post, who also put together this list of the biggest Pinocchios of 2014. Then again, politicians do make it easy.

Act 15 of Life: The Musical is complete. Readers provided an outstanding collection, so many thanks to all participants. Only 2 acts to go in this musical – any ideas about the theme for Act 16?

I’m hoping to continue the Exploring series, thus will consider your suggestions. Think person, place, or thing.

Congratulations to Cindy for being the 50,000th comment here (which happened in the last post). She received a beautiful fireworks display!

If I can complete the work, I hope to celebrate the first Saturday in 2015 with a Saturday Morning Cartoon post!

To lead you into The Onion headlines, here’s their suggestions for fighting the winter blues.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Brutal cold doesn’t factor into man’s decision to stay inside for two straight days
Weird chair pressed into service at family’s holiday dinner
Copycat criminals continue to mimic liquor store robbery from 1882
Dirty-Slush machine provides children in Florida a taste of winter
Supreme Court releases young Scalia’s audition tape
Man who spent 300 hours playing fantasy football this year rewarded with $30 second-place prize

Interesting Reads
Connection between dirt and antibiotics
Science of the booty call
An excellent energy series from WSJ
(Interactive) Interesting oil graphic
(Graph) Inflation-adjusted gasoline prices since 1980
The link between bourbon biscuits and bourbon whiskey

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Nerd Day, Apricot Day, Clean Off Your Desk Day, Balloon Ascension Day, Cassoulet Day, Static Electricity Day, Dance Day, Organize Your Home Day
  • (Sat) Peculiar People Day, Bittersweet Chocolate Day, Cut Your Energy Costs Day, Save the Eagles Day
  • (Sun) No Pants Subway Ride Day, Milk Day, Step in a Puddle & Splash Your Friend Day, Secret Pal Day, Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day, Hot Toddy Day, Thank You Day, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 2-fer from Life: The Musical – Act 15. The first is a song (thanks Narf) that didn’t fit the parameters, but the video was an excellent match to the theme – plus it make you smile. The second goes out to Debra because I was surprised she didn’t use it. 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. 244

Although I wonder about the political nature of the Senate report on torture and subsequent comments, no waterboarding means no waterboarding. – no ifs, no buts, and no rewriting and no reinterpretation – no means no. What part of “NO” don’t Washington and the political hacks understand? On the other hand, I’m against indictments and trials for high-level decision makers.

As Congress continues to deliberate a bill to fund the government, all the other stuff attached to the bill is more confirmation of why Washington has a low approval rating.

With gas prices falling, I suggest that if they were rising, it would be President Obama’s fault.

My heart goes out to Filipinos as they deal with the Typhoon Hagupit.

Recent community-police incidents have brought the need for improved community-police relations and interactions. In order for improvement to occur, and instead of quickly pointing the finger elsewhere, it starts with everyone taking a deep look into the mirror at themselves.

Although it was sad to see a university disband it’s football team, which centers around the madness of the money chase by college athletics. But as in life, competition is fierce, and with competition comes casualties … all because college athletics has sold their integrity.

Speaking of college football, the Big 12 has only itself to blame for not getting a team in the final four, and TCU and Baylor didn’t help themselves with their nonconference schedule. In other words, I suggest some inward reflection. Then again, maybe this conference desires to make less money and become the perennial Cotton Bowl host.

Last Saturday was the last home for the University of Cincinnati football game at the professional Bengals stadium, the temporary home during on-campus renovations. I look forward to return to games on campus. They played this 82-second video to the crowd toward the end of last week’s game, which the crowd appreciated. After all, Nippert Stadium is a unique venue in the center of campus. (past post)

Saturday is the big day for my 2014 holiday party. Doors open at 3 AM (Eastern US) … and remains open the entire weekend. Santa visits around 3 PM Sunday, so hope you return to visit Santa and tell him your holiday wish.

Visit the Banned Toys Museum to discover if you had any of top banned toys. Of the Top 10 and the Honorable Mention, I only had two. How about you?

I’m currently reading Bill Nye’s new book – Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation – thus expect a book review in 2015.

Yesterday’s Life: The Musical  delivered another fabulous set of music. With so many songs available, maybe the future will give us Bummed: The Musical. This was Act 14, and for those wondering, the current plan involves 3 more acts, so it will carryover into 2015.

The front page of Thursday’s Wall Street Journal included an article about being Noodle Ring Day – and that made me smile.

The next Saturday Morning Cartoon post will wait until 2015.

To lead you into The Onion, see this unexpected collaborative business marketing effort.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Royal couple spent the $36.21 Queen had left over from 2010 US visit
  • World’s oldest woman pleased that every other human on earth when she was born are now dead
  • Michelle Obama reassigned to Department of Agriculture after butting heads with the president
  • Area theater has strict rules against bringing in outside movies
  • Stressed-out CVS back to selling cigarettes after only 3 months
  • Pope rummaging through Vatican basement for plastic nativity scene figures
  • High school band director spends 85% of rehearsal hammering in dress code for holiday concert

Interesting Reads

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Lost & Found Day, Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, Ding-a-Ling Day, Gingerbread House Day, Ambrosia Day, Poinsettia Day, 12-hour Fresh Breath Day, Day of the Virgin Day
  • (Sat) Violin Day, Day of the Horse, Tic-Tac-Toe Day (Naughts & Crosses Day), Pick a Pathologist Pal Day, Cocoa Day, Gingerbread Decorating Day, Shareware Day
  • (Sun) Monkey Day, DNA Day, Candle Lighting Day, Choral Day, Bouillabaisse Day

Here’s another 2-fer from two big-time pop piano players to send you into the weekend. The first is an extension of Life: The Musical’s recent act, while the second takes us back to a 1969 rock opera. 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.