Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 363

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Cheers to the new header. Following my fascination with images from deep space, NASA released this Hubble image in 2018 featuring a monster young star in the Lagoon Nebula within the Constellation Sagittarius – 4,000 light-years away. To see my past headers, visit the Past Headers page or click here.

I was surprised to learn these facts about recycling in the US: 1) Cardboard recycling is down while online sales are up, and 2) About 40% of Americans either don’t have access to a recycling program or don’t sign up for the one available. For those interested, here’s an interesting article on the topic.

I never realized that Chicago’s Midway Airport is named after WW II’s Battle of Midway.

As one who continues to believe the majority of the world is good, Anthony Bourdain’s death saddens me because he acknowledged the same good through the culinary delights of different cultures.

A major milestone happened while I was on my recent vacation. My feet have successfully stood in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. For the record, Montpelier, Idaho completed the journey.

 

The people have spoken regarding Fiona’s mural, which will be downtown and completed later this summer. If you want a sneak peek, click here.

After two+ weeks away from ballroom and golf, getting back into ballroom is much harder because it requires so much knowledge. The first weekend back to dancing was horribly difficult.

Golf’s US Open (my favorite golf tournament) is this weekend. While two of the past three US Opens have been questionable at best, I look forward to the challenge Shinnecock Hills should provide.

My Cincinnati Reds continue their predictable, pathetic path. However, they did surprise me. By the time they won their 20th game, the Red Sox and Yankees were the only two teams shy of 20 losses.

Cheers to the New York Times for recently including Cincinnati in their 52 places to visit. Here’s the article.

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To my Canadian readers. President Trump may represent Americans, does not speak for the majority of us.

For me, the report that President Trump told Lesley Stahl (CBS News) that he intentionally demeans and discredits the media for the purpose of convincing people not to believe the negative stories in the media about him sums up much of his time in office.

Although the recent Supreme Court ruling of the cake baker case bothered me, I listened to an analysis that mentioned the narrow view of the majority opinion.

My Congressman wrote this op-ed (Washington Times), to which I responded to him by email (below).

As per your newsletter, I read you recent op-ed in the Washington Times. I respectfully submit the following as a rebuttal.

1) Blaming the Democrats, the media, and Hillary Clinton is not only tiresome, it’s down right negligent. By the way, you forgot to mention Barack Obama.

2) There are two problems in Washington – and it’s the same two problems that have been there for years – the Democrats & Republicans as they subscribed to their self-servient, party-first mentality.
Meanwhile, to continue discord, stagnancy, and avoiding progress, I encourage you to stay the course. After all, you stated the following: “When those shared values crumble or the system is weaponized to benefit one party over the other, both parties lose. We the people lose. Our nation stagnates and becomes steeped in dysfunction. That is because the heart and soul of our constitutional republic has always been an ultimate allegiance to the overarching ideals of our democratic system and the institutions carefully constructed to uphold it — regardless of political party.

Yes, Congressman Wenstrup, you are part of the problem – not the solution – but relax – the majority of your colleagues are just like you.

I love this Canadian response to President Trump’s trade policy. (Thanks, Dale!)

As a retaliation in an escalating trade war between the US and the rest of the world, Canada is considering placing a 25% tariff on all American canned and glass bottled water including Budweiser, Coors, and Busch. The carbonated drinks sometimes referred to as “beer” in America are sold throughout Canada and purchased by at least one lonely person with no concept of taste.The Beaverton

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for getting the most out of life.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Tarantula rushing to shave legs before meeting up with mate
Himalayan goat dies following failed Everest Climb
Dad spends entire vacation 8 steps ahead of family
Woman bids farewell to former self before beginning new skin care regiment
Trick candles just making birthday boy cry harder
Botanic garden forced to euthanize rose bush that pricked child

Interesting Reads
A view about the future and artificial intelligence
The role of mini-golf in desegregation
Icelandic philosophy
Urban, suburban, and rural: What unites and divides them
Transforming sound waves into sound
Everyone’s neighbor: Mr. Rogers
(Photos) D-Day bunkers

To send you into the weekend, enjoy blast from the past by Dan Fogelberg. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 362

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Many thanks for the kind words about my writing in the latest beach walk (#24). I plan another beach walk to go up Sunday night (Eastern US).

The last handbell choir rehearsal of the season was earlier this week. After playing for a service this weekend, we break until August.

Our last ushering assignment of the season at the Playhouse was also this week. Murder For Two is a unique, enjoyable who-dunnit play with two actors: one playing the detective and the other all the suspects. Definitely not serious, it is very musical and a bit of Vaudeville. The actors were great, but it simply wasn’t my style.

As technology changes, devices also change or even replaced. The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an online place attempting to store replaced sounds. It’s a fun place to visit, so I’ll put the link in the Interesting Reads list.

My Cincinnati Reds were the first baseball team to lose 20 games this season. I wonder which will happen first: The last team to lose 20 or the Reds to win 20. The race is on!

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To reinforce a statement I made last week about Trump-Clinton-Obama, keep in mind that President Trump needs a villain in his messaging – a boogie man. As long as they continue to fill that role, he will continue to campaign against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Ohio had a primary election earlier this week. It’s sad that so few voters turn out for non-presidential year elections … and Ohio had primary races for governor and senator!

2016 was a presidential election year. In my county, 56,372 people voted in the primary – but 100,859 voted in the November general election. Meanwhile, 25,100 voted in this week’s primary.

My county is so Republican that Bozo the Clown could win an election if he was designed Republican on the ballot. However, I found this interesting: of the 139,110 registered voters, 8.3% are Democrats, 33.72% Republican, and 57.93% are Nonpartisan. On the other hand, in this county, are number of registered Nonpartisans must vote Republican – which also means that are NINOs – Nonpartisan in Name Only.

FYI: Individual states determine voter registration rolls. For primaries, Ohioans register as Democratic, Republican, Green, or Nonpartisan on Election Day. Nonpartisans can’t participate in party primaries, therefore receive ballots with containing on Issues for voting. (My ballot only had two issues on it, and no people.)

Advice for Democrats – Before the fall election, Leader Pelosi (D-CA) should announce that if the Dems gain control of the House in 2018, she will not seek or accept the Speaker’s chair.

Cheers to Saturday Night Live for last week’s outstanding skit that included many of the characters in President Trump’s news circle. For those that missed it, click here.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for treating bed bug infestation.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Amazon fires warehouse worker who took unauthorized breath
Construction crew arguing over who gets to use the fun tools
Kroger recalls 35,000 pounds of ground beef that may contain CEO
50,000 chicken breasts recalled after leaving factory without getting a little kiss goodbye
One-adventurous salmon can’t believe she ended up moving back to birthplace, having a bunch of kids

Interesting Reads
A perspective about infrastructure
Bulls, DNA, and beef
Baghdad: the new Partytown
Picasso, creativity, and genius
Why analog still exists despite digital
(Interactive) Museum of Endangered Sounds
(Photos) Awesome images of a stormy sky

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic by Cat Stevens. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 361

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A string of warm weather has finally arrived in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, I lost the color I gained from 6-weeks in Alabama (mid-January through February).

Golf league season is underway. Fortunately, the weather was great … and given my 1-day preparation, I did OK.

The new season of Dancing With the Stars has started. Having all athletes competing is interesting, but a big thumbs down on the 4-week format.

Last weekend we saw Treasure Island as a play. Very enjoyable.

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A friend ask this question: Why to Trump supporters blindly accept what he says and does? To me, the answer is obvious – His supporters are willing to

accept anything and everything about Donald Trump because he is not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama … and this also explains why Republicans continue to campaign against Clinton and Obama.

Politics and citizens are spending too much time pointing fingers at the opposition – as opposed to taking ownership of their role in the problem and the solution.

Comedian Michelle Wolf headlined the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner. In my opinion, she had some good jokes, but also crossed the line.

Regardless of the person holding the office, I can’t imagine everything that a US President has to do. Journalist John Dickerson offers an interesting look at the duties and expectations of the one occupying the Oval Office.

Pew Research released an interesting study about what Americans see as ideals and their perception of reality around those ideals.

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Nutritionists reveals human with proper diet should not be defecating
Stressed lab rat breaking out in human ears (Image explains)
3-year old pretending stuffed animals having big fight about accidental pregnancy
Tornado creeped out by man who keeps following it in truck and filming it
E. coli ready to treat itself to some beef after weeks of nothing but salad

Interesting Reads
A unique language
Shifting sands
A view of biodefense
The last man who knew everything
Early cosmos activity 
A look at the Heller decision regarding guns
(Photos) A visit to Socotra

To send you into the weekend, enjoy one of my favorites by Harry Chapin. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 360

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We’ve been back on the road with 3-hour trips to northern Indiana to help an elderly aunt. No fun! Also, it’s the reason I’m being behind with comments here, a lack of presence elsewhere, and a mediocre OITS: v360.

I enjoy listening to the eulogies of famous people with a televised funeral – and the recent funeral of Barbara Bush was no exception.

Not long ago we saw Black Panther. Interesting movie – but more violence than I expected. Also on the arts front, soon we will see Treasure Island as a play. Do you have any movie recommendations that are currently in theaters?

My Cincinnati Reds are a bad baseball team. The expansion 1962 Mets were the worst time in my lifetime – winning 40 games. Through Wednesday, the current Reds team is on the pace to win 40 games.

I enjoyed researching the previous post about 1968. Those of us who lived it know how crazy it was.

My golf league will be starting soon. Given the horrible weather that has blessed Cincinnati, my golf clubs are still in our storage area. Yikes!

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The Ohio Primary takes place in a few weeks. Area Republican signs are loaded with descriptors as Conservative, Real Republican, and a few more. However, on a recent 3-hour trip to the north and into Indiana, I did not see any similar taglines. Oh yes, the benefit of living among the Trumpians.

The Cincinnati newspaper compared the reactions by representatives and senators to when President Obama’s ordered bombing of Syria (2013) to President Trump’s recent order to bomb Syria. Of course the majority were inconsistent!

It’s time to give President Trump credit for an accomplishment: A record number of people wishing W was back in the Oval Office.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides scoop on the James Comey memos.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Conversation at other end of table sounds way more interesting
Local history museum really digging deep to fill two 15-by-20 foot rooms
25-year-old moving into comfortable, rent-free arrangement in parents’ home worried he’s hit rock bottom
Dermatologists recommend regularly checking body for screaming demonic face bulging out of skin
New employee doesn’t understand that’s where Zack sits

Interesting Reads
Linking American racism and Hitler
Hummingbird love-charm trade
Women who secretly fought the Cold War
(Graphic & article) Where the ultra-rich live
(Graphic) Large subscription services
(Photos) A collection of holes

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

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.

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.