Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 359

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I knew my Cincinnati Reds baseball team would not be very good, but they have exceeded my expectations of badness. They are more than pathetic. People here complain more about the Bengals while many give the Reds a free pass, but as an organization, the Bengals are much better – an it’s not even close. The Reds fired the manager Thursday morning. I feel sorry for him because it tough to with those players.

Did anyone see 60 Minutes last Sunday? Allegiant Airlines has a significant presence in Cincinnati. After watching the segment about them, I doubt I would consider them in the future.

It’s been a big week for planning our 2019 vacations.

During my teacher days, I was reformed minded and a long-time antagonist toward standards and standardized testing. My cynical side smiled when I read this view of testing results.

Our handbell was preparing an interesting piece for our last song before breaking for the summer – The Day of Resurrection (Jason Krug). Unfortunately, circumstances caused the director to delay that song until the fall. For those who want to hear it, click here.

News earlier in the week of former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death marks a sad time. Besides living into her 90s and being married to the same man for 73 years, I admired her strength and wit – even though I didn’t always politically agree with her . Loved the fact that she was known within the family as The Enforcer. Meanwhile, her granddaughter – Jenna Bush Hager – wrote a beautiful piece for the Today show. Read it here. (Video here @ CBS)

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Cheers to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for standing her ground after the White House appeared to throw her under the bus. To me, she is one of the few bright spots in the Trump administration.

This is my favorite one of the week. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said “I have not” heard President Trump lie. A perfect example of a partisan hack!

A candidate running for a local office in the upcoming May primary. His campaign signs state, “A Real Republican” – which (to me) is code for obstinate asshole.

For those who didn’t see the hair trade deal between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, search the following on Google Images: president trump kim jong un hair deal

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion shows an image of a man fearing he may never trust again after a treasured picture of a duck turns out to be a rabbit. (I have a personal reason for loving this one.)

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man with backed-up shower drain enjoys luxurious foot soak
Shy balloon spends entire party floating in back corner of room by itself
Grandma defiantly taking scone recipe to grave
Controversial theory suggests aliens may have built Ancient Egypt’s intergalactic spaceport
Woman who choked to death alone in apartment kicked out of book club for missing last 2 meetings

Interesting Reads
How France cut heroin overdoses by 79% in 4 years
The dark side of solar energy
Life in the world’s most polluted city
A Nazi who defected to the Soviet Union then became a hero
Ways people cook pasta wrong
Honey bees and bacteria
(Photos) 50 years of powerful photography

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this song from James Taylor. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On Religious Liberty

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Before Europeans came to America, Christian traditions and practices were well-rooted in Europe for over 1000 years. Catholicism was the predominant form of Christianity, at least until the Protestant Reformation of the early 1500s The Protestant Reformation was a major schism is Western Christianity that ultimately influenced America – both before and after independence.

Whereas the US Constitution’s First Amendment (ratified 1791) granted religious freedoms for individuals and that government cannot establish religious preferences, I content that American has a long history of battling this ideal by continually challenging it in the name of religious preference.

As the Puritans came to America (1630) seeking religious freedom in their disagreement with the Church of England (Anglicans), they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in order to establish an orthodox community seeking to save their perception of Christianity from the wayward Anglicans. Puritans saw themselves as the chosen people – the new Adam and Eve with the American colonies being the New Jerusalem – the new Israel.

Yet, I think of Puritan Anne Hutchinson, a well-spoken and well-versed Puritan who Puritan leadership banished for heresy.

I think of Puritan Roger Williams, who Puritan leadership banished, so he went on to establish a new colony of Rhode Island.

In the 1740s, Rev. George Whitefield (an Anglican cleric) came to America. Without a congregation, Whitefield, a vibrant orator, travelled throughout the colonies preaching a message of rebirth and revival to large crowds in towns and fields. Not only did Whitefield help spread Methodism in America, Whitefield and his contemporaries fueled the Great Awakening in America.

Yet I think of those who opposed Whitefield – the Anglicans whose doctrine did not support rebirth and revival. – and the Puritans who challenged Whitefield cause his message conflicted with their orthodoxy.

I think of the Evangelical Baptists from Pennsylvania whose preaching in Anglican-centric Virginia spurred harassment and imprisonment.

I think of the religious freedom voices uniting with the freedom of liberty voices. There’s Thomas Jefferson who drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1777) supporting the non-Anglicans. Anglican opposition would prevent its passage for nine years. After this statute became law, it would serve as the framework for the First Amendment (ratified 1791).

As a young America grew, westward expansion followed. As people moved westward, revivals also moved across the frontier to save souls. Methodists rapidly grew in numbers. In time, they engaged is societal causes as orphanages, jails, caring for the poor, education, anti-slavery, and supporting women. They also saw education as an important role in creating good Christians for society. This activism favored a Protestant America in the New World.

Yet, I think of the large numbers of Catholics and Jews migrating to America in the mid-1800s – yet Protestants did not perceive Catholics and Jews as one of them. Protestants now became the persecutors of religious freedom by using schools to deliver anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic views.

I think how animosity between Protestant and Catholics would endure into the 1960s – and is same ways, still being present today.

The 20th and 21st Centuries provides the backdrop for increasing immigration of Muslims to America. Coupled with the presence of second generation Muslims, Pew Research projects Muslims will be the second largest group in America by 2040.

Yet I think about how anti-Islamic attitudes attempt to block the building of mosques in various communities. Let alone the general anti-Islamic rhetoric I hear in conversations and on the news.

I think about how political candidates who are Muslim face increased scrutiny – or as some politicians promote anti-Islamic and/0r pro-Christian views.

I think about today’s conservative Christians promoting anti-religious claims as the attempt to ingrain their beliefs through a variety of religious freedom laws throughout the country.

I think about the extremes attempting to establish a Christian America and those believing in the exclusion of religion from all aspects of public life.

I think about the growing number if Americans with either no religious preference or unabashed Atheism.

I think about the difference between school teaching religion and teaching about religion – with people worrying that the latter is about advocacy and indoctrination.

The US Constitution’s First Amendment is overtly clear. Yet, American has a persistent history of challenging the First Amendment in the name of their religious preference – a history of religious freedom advocates turning into inhibitors of religious freedom. Although the First Amendment has endured, I wonder if people understand it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 358

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Cheers – the day has finally arrived – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct the Moody Blues this Saturday!

Did you watch the special musical event honoring Elton John? I enjoyed it!

Readers provide very interesting comments on the previous post about Lead and Follow. Thanks for the surprises!

It appears my invitation to the Royal Wedding got lost in the mail.

After playing for Easter services, no rest for the handbell choir as we are back playing at a service two weeks later. Here’s the next song on our agenda: Enjoy Song of Celebration (Arnold Sherman).

Need a laugh? This is a good read from a fellow blogger who occasionally visits my little corner of the world.

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I appreciate this comment by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright: “We should be awake to the assault on democratic values that has gathered strength in many countries abroad and that is dividing America at home.”

Count me in as one who thinks the latest use of chemical weapons in Syria was by the rebels who don’t want the US military to leave.

Interesting announcement by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WS) about leaving Congress at the end of his term this year. I noticed something important in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in his comments about Speaker Ryan. … his speakership has yielded one significant accomplishment after another for his conference, his constituents in Wisconsin, as well as the American people.” Yes, I’m one who notices the order. Nonetheless, best wishes to Speaker Ryan for a positive future as he earn millions.

Congressional Republicans amuse me by pushing for a Balanced Budget Amendment after voting for the tax cut and a spending bill that increases the deficit and debt. What a hoot!

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion explains how trade wars work. 

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Fender introduces new line of sympathy and bereavement guitars
Oat farmer seriously thinking about getting into barley
Unstable couple playing with fire by organizing game night
Retired Pope Benedict promises to donate soul for ecclesiastic research
Cows go extinct

Interesting Reads
An interview with a retiring Republican Congressman
The era of fake video is now
Bots and Twitter
Molly Ringwald revisiting The Breakfast Club
Relating male organ size to extinction 
(Photos) A trip to Antarctica
(Photos) A story of Sri Lankan tea-making

To send you into induction weekend, here’s another Moody Blues classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 356

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Congratulations to blogger, author, and long-time visitor here, Carrie Rubin, on the release of her latest book (The Bone Curse). Click here for the Amazon link.

This Sunday is Eastern for Western Christianity. That also means the handbells will be involved with music on multiple occasions. This Joyful Eastertide is our featured song. For those listening, 1) we will be without the trumpets, and 2) you will easily hear the difference between playing handbells and chimes as we switch from one to the other several times during the piece. Click here to listen.

Cincinnatians treat Opening Day (for baseball) as a festive holiday event. Major League Baseball (MLB) is starting the season earlier than normal, and this year, it happens to be in front of Easter weekend – which conflicts with the businesses that sponsor the Opening Day parade. In other words, the first game and the parade will not be on the same day. Thanks you MLB.

I’m a life-love Cincinnati Reds fan. Given the teams lack of success over the past 25 years, apathy would be a good word to describe my outlook for the season. I wish them well. I will root for them. I will remain loyal – but I don’t expect much.

Sears is a struggling company. How can the Sears Board of Directors in good conscience give their CEO are bonus ?

Do you remember the term tattletails? Even though I haven’t heard in many years, this local editorial focused on the term while relating it to various local and national events. I think this is a worthy read. 

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A few days ago I received a one-side survey for supporting President Trump and Republican Party. Filling it out was worth the time and stamp. In the extra comments box I wondered why the committee would keep sending me these surveys – especially considering my answers and other comments.

I like this question asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press: (I paraphrase) Which event will have greater impact six months from now: the gun control rallies or Stormy Daniels?

Because the extremes have a way of digging in, I still find it difficult to believe that America can have a true discussion about gun control. Then again, surprises can happen.

As a whole, I believe most Americans strongly dislike negative campaigns. However, this statement on Politico caught him attention. In preparing to go toe-to-toe with Trump, Democrats will have to take some sparring practice, and not all the punches are going to land. But to insist that candidates shouldn’t treat the campaign like a schoolyard brawl is to deny the reality that one of the candidates is going to make sure that it is one.

The US Supreme Court has their hands full with dealing with gerrymandering.

Thank you Stephen Colbert for continuing to make me laugh as a way of dealing with the current White House occupant and his administration.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a timeline for 20 years of Netflix.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man assumed celebrity sighting would do much for his career
Classically trained actor can talk on cue
Dead medieval woman gave birth to baby in coffin
Handwriting expert confirms killer used cursive
Man calls trust fund his savings

Interesting Reads
Resilient life in an Indian coastal town
Is the Democratic Big-Tent shrinking?
Science and social media
World maps with literal names for countries
Censoring in Egypt
Places on Earth that seem to be from another world

To send you into the weekend (and as move toward their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s another Moody Blues classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 355

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“My week” is about to end. My Week? Yep – this is the week my wife went cruising with a group of ladies. They have a great time. Besides, she won’t miss the cold and snow! Meanwhile, I danced a lot!

After holding such high hopes for two local college basketball teams, the world crashed on Cincinnati last Sunday when both teams losing after having double-digit leads with ten minutes to go. That day may be the worst single day in Cincinnati sports history.

CBS News created a wonderful series called Note to Self – a reflection by famous people writing a letter to a younger version of themselves. Here’s the official website. Many are also on YouTube, so they are worth searching and taking a few minutes to listen. The book version is coming soon.

Given my interest in the relationship between science and theology, my wife urged me to read Dan Brown’s latest book – Origins – which I am now doing. It is interesting … and long.

Here’s a great video that celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the few minutes.

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Talk and policies favoring US isolation and protectionism while trying to be cognizant of a resurgent Russia, a continual growing China, and numerous global hotspots has lessened (and will continue to lessen) the US standing in the world.

Does anyone remember the day of the talk of the Tillerson-Mattis-Kelly pact of if one of them goes, they all go? Well, one week ago Mr. Tillerson lost his job as Secretary of State, but the other two are still in their respective positions. So much for that rumor.

Trumpians like to complain that the Mueller investigation will delegitimize the election. Nope – to me, President Trump won fair and square. However, the investigation is necessary on other grounds.

I recently described (to a friend) the 2016 Presidential Election as the Democrats missing a layup. Because I foresee Democrats gaining in the 2018 midterms, that also sets them up for missing another layup in 2020.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists benefits of being a risk-taker.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Dozens of other countries that interfered in 2016 election annoyed Russia getting all the credit
Swans in committed relationship barely even arch necks into heart shape anymore
World’s oldest message in bottle found on Australian beach
Kinky couple has mirror in bathroom
Only 40% of mice have welcome mat, doorway leading into tiny house inside wall

Interesting Reads
A cliff special to geology
Heredity beyond genes
The numbers and gun violence
Seven explorers who vanished
Studying drawings of scientists by kids
Europe’s last pagan nation
(Interactive & article) Global migration since 1990
A view of miracles and science

To send you into the weekend (and as work toward Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s one of my favorite Moody Blues songs that you may not know. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: No. 354

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It’s good to return to my little corner of the world with various tidbits, thoughts, and commentary. I sadly report that I didn’t write as much as I hoped during my blog break.

Love this factoid: Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, then died on Einstein’s birthday (which also happened to be Pi Day). A toast to Dr. Hawking’s contribution.

March Madness of college basketball is officially underway. Cincinnati is proud to support two teams in the top eight seeds. Two teams located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart and ranked in the top 6 ,  Interesting that both teams start in Nashville. Meanwhile, besides the two local teams, I’ll be rooting for ABK – Anybody But Kentucky.

The tournament committee got many selections correct, but excluding worthy teams at the expense of selecting teams that we .50o or worse in their conference is pathetic.

We recently saw a play about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical pioneer who influenced greats as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, and more. She wheeled her guitar as she sung a blend of blues, gospel, and a forerunner to rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct her next month.

 

John Tyler, the 10th US President, occupied the White House 1841-1845. Amazingly, his grandson is still alive! Here’s the head-scratching story.

While south for 6 weeks, we danced very little because ballroom wasn’t readily available. Although we are back in cold weather, the good news is we have returned to the dance floor – but rusty. Being away from handbells for 6 weeks creates uncertainty when returning to rehearsal. Both dancing and playing handbells will improve with time and repetition.

A few editions ago I mentioned about I would be dancing a bolero at an upcoming studio event. Unfortunately, my partner and I have respectfully withdrawn.

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Although the quote isn’t by Gloria Steinem, the viral message of gun purchases following similar procedures a woman seeking an abortion in some states is an interesting thought.

This statement in Politico about the success of the National Rifle Association (NRA): It’s not the money. It’s because the NRA has built a movement that has convinced its followers that gun ownership is a way of life, central to one’s freedom and safety, that must be defended on a daily basis.

As Democrats have been loudly complaining about gerrymandering, I have to throw in some bits. 1) Gerrymandering has been around a long time. 2) Democrats do it, too. 3) The use of data and sophisticated software by both parties heightens the problem. Therefore, the time for finding a different way is now.

This week the House Intelligence Committee (and prime example of an oxymoron) concluded its investigation by stating no collusion existed between the Trump campaign. I give them as much credence as I would a Democratic-led committee finding collusion. I patiently await the results by the independent investigation led by Robert Mueller – therefore will accept this findings.

In my response to a poll about tariffs by my representative, I reminded him that I was against tariffs regardless of the president’s party affiliation – then asked him if he would react the same way if a Democratic president proclaimed the tariffs.

Personally, I wish many Republicans would give the party to the President Trump, his minions, and the uber-conservatives – thus walk away. At the same time I wish many Democrats would give the party to the uber-liberals, thus walk away. Too bad they lack the guts to do that.

Not that many years ago Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was a darling of Republican conservatives. Since withdrawing from the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, I haven’t heard “boo” from the man – until earlier this week. It seems Gov. Walker is taking a more conciliatory tone and voicing a concern about his party’s direction. (Click here for the article.)

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the pros and cons of open relationships.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Roomba claims another pet gerbil
Beer aisle scanned for something asshole friend won’t mock
New evidence reveals Ancient Greeks immediately regretted inventing theater
Perverted measles virus exposes itself to playground full of children
Barbaric fifth grader gouges paper onto binder ring without so much as hole punch
FDA cancels bacon recall after finding U.S. population already ate it all

Interesting Reads
Bots and misinformation
France and the age of consent
Defining death
Nature on an island abandoned by humans
Life from microbes
The Smithsonian looks at daylight savings time
(Images) Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

I know I featured this song not long ago, but it fits. Along with my return from Blog Break, April 14th also approaches – the day their long-delayed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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.