Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 330

Last week I finished leading a short (2-week) Sunday school class titled The Crossroad between Science and Religion. Two sessions are only enough time to introduce the topic – or as I said during the first class, “This week is the introduction to the Preface.” Nonetheless, I think the sessions gave attendees something to ponder.

I’ve been working on a slideshow that will accompany a handbell piece on Easter Sunday. The director loved it, so now it’s down to the fine tuning. I hope to find someone to take a video with the images and the music so we can post it on YouTube. If that happens, I’ll post it here.

March Madness continues as this weekend’s round will dwindle from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four. One local team remains (Xavier), so good luck Muskies. On the downside, my Bearcats ran into an explosive UCLA team that is very good.

This week we got the news of the passing of TV personality and producer Chuck Barris at age 87. I thought The Gong Show was a hoot – especially The Unknown Comic and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

Many readers enjoyed meeting Fiona. Big news this week as she reached 100 pounds (45 kg).

We were happy with the Season 23 debut of Dancing with the Stars. Looks like a strong crop of competitors this time.

My wife says “Thanks” for last week’s birthday wishes!

No Saturday post this weekend.

From what I saw during the confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch impressed me. Sure he made statements I with which I disagreed. Yes, he followed the tradition dancing around questions. Too bad these hearings focus on political theater with the partisans preferring a court favoring their view over a genuine court for all Americans. Nonetheless, I stand against nominees in the name of playing “Last Judge Standing.”

The American Health Care Act (the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act) will eventually pass Congress because of the self-imposed pressure on Republicans.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The FBI not finding wiretapping evidence
North Korea’s failed rocket launch
People thinking Viking helmets had horns
Some professional basketball players believing in a flat earth
Dysfunction among Republicans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for home repairs. http://www.theonion.com/infographic/home-repair-tips-55167

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Mugger Chooses Man Whistling ‘Come On Eileen’
Newly discovered journal entries reveal Sacagawea’s repeated attempts to ditch Lewis and Clark
Toddler looking for sensible mid-ranged tricycle
God seeking to crack down on souls smuggling drugs into heaven
Part of man wonders what it would be like to fall through floor into downstairs apartment
Styrofoam cup from Omaha excited to finally see Pacific Ocean

Interesting Reads
The mind and false beliefs
Myths about mammals and their swimming abilities
A brief guide to the French elections
Partisanship, ideology, and generation gaps
A biography of an early patriot: Patrick Henry
(Video) Kinky snail sex
(Photos) Architectural awards for future projects

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 1984 hit … and oh I had a crush on this lady. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 329

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readings about the health care bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 328

We have an interesting handbell piece on the docket for this weekend. It’s not easy, so it will be interesting to see if we hit it. Here’s a recording.

Our church purchased a new organ. A side note is that the organ is the first produced by a local (Cincinnati) company. In order to promote their product, the company sponsored a concert featuring a distinguished organist – Christoph Bull from UCLA. Wow … he impressed us – so for those who enjoy organ music, here is one of his videos.

Christians are early in the season of Lent. Interestingly, here’s an article about using digital technology for Lenten reflections.

Here’s a look at the lighter side. Enjoy this almost 2 minute trip with a skier going around town.

This is fun. The Atlantic creates a timeline based on a birthday. Here’s the link so you can try it.

Cincinnati and Xavier are two college basketball programs that are competitive, respectful, and regularly in the tournament. These two schools are separated by 3.5 miles (5.6 k). Interestingly, Northern Kentucky University is only 11 miles (18 km) from the most northern (XU), and they will definitely will have a spot on the brackets to be announced on Sunday. So will Cincinnati, and maybe Xavier.

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009, I saw it as a start with hopes that Congress would work out the problems that would arise. Both parties have greatly failed doing that. Now it appears the same thing will happen, just with the other side of the aisle – meaning Congress remains selfish and clueless.

Comparing the ACA with the proposed replacement is a prime example of how Democrats have a tendency to over-regulate while Republicans under-regulate.

Although many have grumbled at the replacement plan, I haven’t heard the insurance industry issuing angst – which means a reason to question the plan.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is enjoying a ratings boost due to his relentless anti-Trump rants during his monologue. We watch (live or recorded) because he’s good for a laugh.

People who regularly watch the nightly opinion-oriented shows on cable news networks are not only feeding their bias, but are also driving themselves into a frenzy – and neither is good for America.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Above normal temperature this past winter
Not placing a phone tap on Trump Tower phones
North Korea continuing to bomb the sea
My alma mater approaching 50 years without making the NCAA basketball tournament
Wikileaks, WikiPooPoo ,PeePeeLeaks, leaks and leeks

 

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers the pros and cons for a two-party political system.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
God getting strong urges to bring dinosaurs back
Study finds exposure to violent children causes increased aggression in video game characters
Pope Francis spotted sunbathing nude in St. Peter’s Square
Carhartt introduces rugged work throng (A pic doe those who dare to look)
Lemur fantasizes about ripping face off of next dumbshit who calls it a monkey

Interesting Reads
How smoothies delay hunger
How to eat like a Viking
Fall of the Romanovs
Giving up sugar: Lent and the brain
5 future technologies that got real in 2016
Norba and the Romans
(Gallery) A celebration of photography

Here’s another oldie from Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 327

Too bad for the blunder regarding the Oscar for Best Picture. I especially feel for Warren Beatty. On the other hand, Faye Dunaway blew it. Cheers to La La Land producer Jason Horowitz who graciously announced Moonlight.

We enjoy visiting Europe, but I can see the EU requiring Americans to have visas.

This is very unusual for me – I have 16 posts currently in the Draft queue (and most are ready to go). 🙂

This video from Boston Dynamics reminded me of Stars Wars.

Congratulations to John Howell, a blogger and frequent visitor here, on the recent release of a new book. John writes thrillers, so if you read it and don’t like it, tell him it’s Obama’s fault. His post (linked above) has links to paperback and Kindle versions.

More beach walks are coming, so I invite you to also see the videos as I tried to match them to the theme.

I may will have a post this weekend. If I get it ready, yes. If not. It’s obviously ready. 🙂

My wife safely returned home from her girls cruise. She had a wonderful time and great weather over 9 days of cruising from Miami to Labadee, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, and back to Miami – and I had a wonderful time doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Life is now back to normal.

Busy weekends ahead for us with the Cincinnati Wine Festival and a regional handbell gathering (of I’m guess at least 600 ringers).

I plan on watching President Trump’s first speech to Congress, and I successfully implemented my plan, including not watching the Democratic response. I continue to be firmly against the opposition party getting time for their response. In terms of the speech, I wish members of Congress would applaud at the beginning, applaud at the end, and only sit and listen during the speech. It’s a serious occasion – not a damn pep rally.

President Trump’s approach to nationalism is part of a global trend – a trend that may be the biggest less-reported threats we face today.

Cheers to the Republicans in Congress who faced angry town halls without offering excuses about Democrats, people from outside the district, sore losers, and more.

A friend asked me if I was interested in joining a coalition to impeach President Trump. Now that’s a funny request because I don’t want to be associated with a coalition involving partisan hooligans and hacks from a political party.

Those who got their shorts in a know from the way Kellyanne Conway was sitting on the Oval Office coach have too much time on their hands.

I would love to see about 15 senators from each party leave their party to form a new caucus. Then again, that would require guts, something they lack.

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The announcement snafu at the Academy Awards regarding Best Picture
Unseasonably warm temperatures in February
People not recycling
University of Cincinnati losing a basketball game to a team they should have beaten
Blaming anything on someone other than Obama

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for handling online harassment.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
NASA launches first cordless satellite
Lowe’s debuts new travel plunger with collapsible handle
Large mirror brought onto Oscar’s stage gets resounding 6-minute standing ovation
Horny man not even going to inflate her all the way
American Airlines wants to phase out complimentary cabin pressurization

Interesting Reads
Beechey Island – the island of lost explorers
About biofuels
Aircraft carriers
Legislative prayer, the high court, and the justice nominee
A response to vaginal glue
Americans feelings toward religious groups
(Photo Gallery) Carnival around the world

Here’s Huey Lewis and the News to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 326

It’s been an interesting week for me as I’ve been in bachelorhood as my wife is one her annual cruise with her lady friends. The answer is simple when people ask me what I will do – “I will do whatever I want, whenever I want.”

I spent a lot of time our on the ballroom circuit. It’s been a good time dancing with friends … and it is a good chance to work on leading. For those getting the wrong impression, I’ve been in a crowd where at least a third of the people know me … and would be the worst place to do something stupid.

One afternoon I went to downtown Cincinnati searching for murals that I haven’t posted here.

Here’s an entertaining musical interlude. Very creative, but does this guy have too much time on his hands?

A big wow to the recent news about NASA discovering a new set of earth-sized planets with the potential of having liquid water. Here’s the news release from NASA, and the first video is worth the two minutes.

It seems salted black licorice is common in northern Europe. I found it in a store here. Interesting combination of flavors. Have you ever had salted black licorice?

My wife returns soon … and the house will be clean … including the bathrooms.

Our handbell choir is playing an interesting piece soon at our Ash Wednesday service. To me, it’s a fitting sound for the start of Lent. For those who want to listen, look for the Listen button near the sheet music image. Click here.

There will be a light post ready for your Saturday morning.

President Donald Trump continual attacks on the press continues to be a sign that he is afraid of the truth.

Question: Why does President Trump spend so much time watching Fake News?

I hate to inform people, but like him or not, Donald Trump was dutifully elected and is our president.

A local congressman had an editorial for proposing dismantling the U.S. Dept. of Education. I say why stop there – re-organize the whole damn government structure!

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Fake news
Certain media outlets being the enemy of the people
Hostile town hall meetings
Fig tree issues in Italy
My wife going on a cruise causing me to celebrate my birthday on my own

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Humiliated Man Discovers Embroidery On His Jean Pockets
Open-Minded Man Tries To Get News From Variety Of Facebook Friends
Man Thinking About Just Packing Up And Making Exact Same Mistakes Someplace Far Away
Goose finally realizes it doesn’t have to honk like an idiot entire time it’s flapping its wings
30-million-year-old species worried it doesn’t have another evolution in it

Interesting Reads
Women and governance in India
Why sleeping bats don’t fall
Thoughts about laundry chutes
Evolution of technology
(Photo Gallery) Australian farmland

Many seemed to enjoy the Traveling Wilburys last week, so here’s another one from them to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 325

Welcome to the post number 1,901. I enjoy milestones. Given Friday’s timely post temporarily bumping OITS from its slot, I present OITS: The Weekend Edition.

Anything wrong with this sentence? “Rodriguez was involved in a deadly car crash last month and will reportedly miss several months due to shoulder surgery.”

Now compare the above sentence to this one. “Rodriguez needs left shoulder surgery thanks to a January car crash and will not play for three to five months.”

Here’s a throwback to the days of Monday Morning Entertainment. I love it … and had to watch to the end because I wanted to know how it ends. For those who chose to watch, enjoy.

I have long maintained that the viewer is more biased than the news source. Consider these points about the morning shows. CBS This Morning is more about news than entertainment, and its ratings are last in the race between the big 3 networks. The highly biased Fox & Friends has by far more viewers among the cable morning shows.

I was surprised that the recent post about Charles Darwin’s faith created little reaction.

Baseball teams are starting spring training this week. My Cincinnati Reds will be preparing to defend last place in the division.

Not only did Americans voted in Donald Trump, people across the globe voted out an iconic Monopoly piece – the Thimble.

Regarding President Trump’s latest press conference, these two comments say it best. First, from Scott Pelley at CBS News: “President Trump called a hasty news conference and reached for the familiar tools that built his career: bluster, bravado, exaggeration and a few loose facts.” Second, from one of the greatest American orators.

The lack of vetting of cabinet members by Republican senators is pathetic.

Many Democrats are looking ahead to the 2018 mid-term elections. In the Senate, 33 seats are up: 8 held by Republicans, 23 by Democrats, and 2 by independents … plus, a good number of the 23 Democratic seats are in states Mr. Trump won. All that adds up to not looking good at the moment. Besides, the party blew the great chance they had in the 2016 Senate elections. Pathetic … simply pathetic.

I’ve been telling my wife and a friend that the reason why Congressional Republicans don’t investigate the White House or vet the cabinet nominees is because Congress has not received any of the agenda they want. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) confirmed my thoughts Wednesday by saying, “I don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. … We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

The analogies keep getting better and better. I’ll paraphrase Scott Pelley. He’s not mad at the media. He’s mad at not being the man at the top any more because he has to answer to the public, Congress, Federal Courts, and the press. He is now the apprentice, not the boss, so a press conference is one of the few places he can take command.

Advice for the Democratic Party. Go left! Energize the base. Go Left! Follow the Republican lead of abandoning the center. Go left!

Former President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
The Appeals Court going against President Trump’s executive order
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation
The end of Cincinnati Bearcats 15-game winning streak
Flu outbreaks in many states
Shortage of vanilla beans

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for starting a community garden.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Cryptic new laundry rule hints at tale of bizarre infraction
Short film drags on
Scientists developing pollinating bee drones
Tupperware will not truly recover from red curry leftovers
Pope Francis sneaks leftovers to false god Moloch at backdoor of St. Peter’s Basilica
Report: That was a very stupid thing to say

Interesting Reads
Five of the most violent moments of the Reformation
Toads: To kiss or not to kiss
Lessons from the 1937 flood
High school graduation peril in Tennessee
The parasite that lures mosquitoes to humans
A way to build productive bipartisanship

To here’s a song for your weekend, enjoy the group of legends known as the Traveling Wilburys. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On an Electoral Reflection

This idea has festered in my mind long enough, so it’s time to get these thoughts of this true independent’s chest.

For about 5 weeks following the November 2016 election, a good thing happened. We heard a lot about the Electoral College – a system we learned about in school – a system we hear about every 4 years – a system many people know little about – let alone Federalist Paper No. 68 (and I say that with confidence).

Election 2016 was interesting in many ways. It was not only the third time in US history the candidate who won the presidency lost the popular vote, but 2016 marked the highest vote differential of the three (0.8%, 0.5%, 2.8%). What if Mr. Trump won the popular vote by 2.8% but Mrs. Clinton won the Electoral College? Surely the messages would be predictably reversed.

Since the election, we heard some voices declaring that it’s time to amend the Constitution to disband the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote. The losers were the complainers while the winners boosted about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

Framing the US Constitution was not a meeting of wise men stroking their beards while contemplating decisions for a document to serve as the foundation of a new country. Discussions were fierce. Egos were bruised. Not every person got their way but, in the end, a collective wisdom prevailed – a wisdom guided by those seeking what would serve the common good for all and for a nation.

Although small states and slave states had issues with the popular vote, the Founding Fathers were skeptical about the voters especially if the popular vote yielded an unwise decision. So, the Founding Fathers wanted a system to act as a check-and-balance on the voters. After all, the Constitution provided of system of checks and balances within the government. The Electoral College was a way to do so other than using state legislatures or the House of Representatives.

In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton explained the Electoral College was to, “ensure that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” The best analogy I heard was the Electoral College being akin to a judge reviewing a jury’s decision (which they can do).

Was 2016 the time Alexander Hamilton had in mind? Maybe.

Is the Electoral College’s role as a check-and-balance against the people’s vote necessary in the 21st Century? Absolutely, so I unquestionably stand with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers supporting the existence of the Electoral College.

The Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College to be composed of people “selected by their fellow citizens from the general masses, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

The Founding Fathers also envisioned the members of the Electoral College to do the right thing. To be of independent mind in the face of adversity. To represent a nation, and then fulfill their Constitutional responsibility by doing what is right for the nation.

If it’s not the voters, not the Constitution, not the concept of the Electoral College, is there a problem? If so, where?

The problem obviously lies is the implementation because the Constitution left the selection process to the states, which would be state legislatures that are elected by the people. Although practical on paper, the adopted methods by the states are not the way to implement the desires stated Federalist Paper No. 68. States developed processes based on the political parties – therefore the political parties hijacked the check and balance to have a system that favors them.

Who picks the electors? The political parties.

Who do the political parties select? Loyalists, local party leaders, local officials, donors,etc.

If each party in a state has electors, who has the final vote? In most states, the party of the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in that state become the electors.

Can electors change their mind, thus go against the state’s result? In some states, yes – but in most states, No! Electors who do not follow their prescribed vote may face fines, legal charges, dismissal, and/or replacement.

Are these electors the ones “most likely to possess the information and requisite for such a complicated investigation” and “free from any sinister bias”?

Absolutely not! The electors are party hacks put in place by the party hooligans to follow the party’s self interest – NOT for the people and NOT for a nation as the Federalist Paper clearly explains. The electors are present for the party under the ruse of acting for the nation. The Electoral College is not even remotely close to what the Founding Fathers envisioned for the nation and its people.

The parties are interested in themselves. The parties are interested in adopting their preferences upon the people. The parties only see the world through a biased lens with the settings they prefer. In other words, the parties are not the unbiased, high-minded people who will look out after the best interest of a nation if and when the people make a mistake!

In the farewell address of this nation’s first president, George Washington was correct.

[Political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington
Saturday, September 17, 1796

Abolition of the Electoral College is not the answer. Giving power the popular vote is not the answer. Reforming the Electoral College process is the answer, but there is a problem because that requires those with power would have to relinquish the power – and we know that’s not going to happen.