Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 285

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Welcome to the first OITS of 2016. It’s been a few weeks since the last edition, so there is much to address … so hang on!

A firefighter in the area lost recently his life in a fire. No other professional responds to losing their own the way fire and police personnel – which impresses me.

This one caused me to shake my head in disgust: Car thieves use a device to detect keyless entry codes from the owner to get into a car.

The day before I posted the Explore post about Bratislava (Slovakia), Cindy had this post about the city I want to visit … then she answered my comment with these words. (I invite readers to visit her post.)

How synchronistic! You will love Slovakia. Be sure and savor the countryside and the nearby Carpathian Mountains. Bratislava is a wonderful surprise. It is not as hyped as much of Europe but it has the history, culture and food to make it high on my list of fascinating places.

There will be an Explore post this weekend.

When the National Anthem is played before a sport event, the actions of the athletes are many.
A tip of the cap to Buzz Williams, the head basketball coach at Virginia Tech, for his approach .. and thanks to my friend (Jim) for finding this.

Although my WordPress Annual Report (here) shows a continued downward trend in overall statistics in my little corner of the world, I keep blogging because I enjoy writing and greatly appreciate my community. Below are several notes from the report.

  • 2015’s visitors came from 111 countries
  • Top Commenters (and I encourage others to visit them)
    • Dale, the good lady from the Montreal area who also serves as Maitre d’ at the musicals
    • Elyse, royalty from Northern Virginia who can order beheadings
    • Resa, the classy wardrobe designer from Toronto who loves to photograph murals
    • Carrie, the witty doctor/fiction writer from northern Ohio
    • Marina, a sincere artist and musician from Greece
  • Top Viewed New Posts

Milestones remain fun to note as I surpassed 250,000 views last weekend.

To the surprise of many and after 20 months away, I returned to the bell choir this week for the rest of the ringing season (through May). Other than the missed notes, wrong notes, silent rings, poor counting, getting lost, poor technique, and realization that I’m now the worst ringer in the group, I did OK.

I received an email from ShySchoolGirl to sign up for watching her on a camera. What would she be doing – her homework?

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Congratulations to the winner of the Politifact Lie of the Year (2015) for the well-deserved honor.

To the Republican candidates who say President Obama’s Executive Order about guns is unconstitutional or an overreach, either shut-up or get it to the courts ASAP. Given their propensity for pandering and a lack of guts, they won’t act.

Republican candidate Carly Fiorina (R-CA) rooting against her alma mater (Stanford) in the Rose Bowl is an odd way to pander for vote. Then again, I see it as poor character.

As the media focuses on Iowa and New Hampshire, I say, Blah, blah, blah – thus, point to March 1st as a more significant date.

Both parties have debates next week … oh boy … two more for me to miss.

With the politics of opposition stronger than ever, I would ask this question to all the candidates in both parties (and with my finger on the trapdoor): Other than welcoming members of the opposing party to join your ideas, give a specific example of how you would work through the current political gridlock.

The annual State of the Union (SOTU), which is a Constitutional requirement, is approaching. SOTU is a presidential requirement of the Constitution, thus I remain 100% against the opposing party having their own response.

The Lugar Center and the Georgetown University McCord Center of Public Policy developed a Bipartisan Index rating system of senators. Over the past 20 years, the index rates 227 senators, including the current president & vice president, current majority leaders, and current & past presidential candidates. The site includes tabs with a variety of information. I captured some of the notables. – Note: The lower the ranking (shown), the higher the bipartisanship rating – Joe Biden (37), Harry Reid (47), John McCain (60), Lindsay Graham (122), Mitch McConnell (129), John Kerry (136), Hillary Clinton (156), Barack Obama (165), Marco Rubio (170), Bernie Sanders (217), Rand Paul (222), Ted Cruz (224).

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Here are a few gems to lead you into The Onion …

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Trophy wife to inject a bit more collagen into her lips just in case
Cloned cat neutered
A yawn has been going around town for two straight weeks
Dead man told it’s going to be all right
Man who stayed up until dawn eating mice refers to self as night owl
Local man relieved to be back where his sex toys are compatible with the electrical outlets

Interesting Reads
Columnist David Brooks about the age of small terror (Thanks, Tim)
Views of freedoms across the world (by Pew Research)
Presidential candidates about Alzheimer’s
Nature’s built-in warning system
A columnist writes about the behavior of athletes
A view of religion’s interplay with science
Photos by the BBC’s Travel Photographer of the Year

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this hit from 1969. 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. 178

On Politics
Interesting to see that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) now has concerns with the Affordable Care Act. By the way, he’s up for re-election in 2014.

The US Senate has me in a snit. The people elected these officials to debate and legislate – but not to determine the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a law. Civics 101 says that’s the duty of the Supreme Court. Sure makes me wonder about the constitutionality of their action.

Polls show that people have a low opinion of Congress and they don’t trust Congress. Here’s one key question to ask each member: What are you going to do to change those perceptions?

The Onion offers tips to Congress on passing a gun control bill.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Excited man only 2 therapy sessions away from resolving issues
  • Couple making out at bus stop like its Paris
  • TV viewer relates to totally unbelievable character that could never exist in reality
  • Boss has deft touch for making employees feel like shit
  • An airport security pig finds concealed truffles
  • Justin Bieber fan jealous of Anne Frank

Interesting Reads
The rise in pseudo-academic conferences and journals
Moving Bridges by Sliding
Picking the Pope
Evolution and good science
When alcohol was medicine

Honorable Mention to those who missed it because this article received many comments last week: America is pooping wrong

On Potpourri
Time: The Musical – Act 2 was successful, so I proudly announce to hopefully premier Act 3 in mid-May.

Congratulations to Georgette for being the 25,000 comment.

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Strangely, there has been a recent rush on followers. Is this the forerunner to a something weird?

There will be a Saturday Morning Cartoon feature this weekend … and it will feature a cartoon icon.

Instead of some sort of entertainment to send you into the weekend, marvel at this animation by NASA of their Asteroid Retrieval Initiation. Thank you Alex for this great find, and I invite everyone to read Alex’s post on this venture.

Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 177

On Politics (but not a short)
The Founding Fathers designed Congress to be a public forum for debate. As a group of 13 Republican senators threatens to filibuster the US Senate from debating any gun control legislation, Senator McCain (R-AZ) asked, “What are they afraid of?”

Then (in a procedural vote), and after an agreed-upon proposal between a Democrat and a Republican regarding background checks, 24 Republican senators voted to block debate on any gun control legislation.

Because this group’s action is a blatant attempt to undermine a national conversation while hiding behind a weak, limited view of the Constitution, they obviously have forgotten that according to the Constitution, the US. Supreme Court determines constitutionality – NOT the United States Senate.

In addition, the record shows that in the DC vs. Heller decision (a case about handguns), Justice Scalia (a strong conservative) did not close the door to government intervention on gun issues when he wrote, “the (Second Amendment) right was not unlimited”. Therefore, for this group of senators, I yield to this great American orator.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Stock photo model scout finds something special in man in business suit with arms crossed
  • Man not certain of names of his coworkers
  • Waters tested as 12-year old says “Shit” in front of mother for first time
  • Teen boulder can’t wait for landslide to put it into ravine where “they get it”
  • D-battery elected to Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame
  • Stripper thinks customer flirting with her

Interesting Reads
Thomas Jefferson Center Muzzle Awards (a good headshaker)
The art of good writing by columnist George Will
Columnist Kathleen Parker on reconciliation
Book Review: The Complete Phillip Roth
Scientist Richard Feynman’s words on science and religion
America’s pooping technique is wrong
Shit Happens according to blogger Archon (not related to the previous read)

On Potpourri
I’m a firm believer in the need for educational reform, but I also realize that “education reform” is an oxymoron. I appreciate this recent article, which I will pair with this past post of mine.

Congratulations to the University of Louisville Cardinals for winning the NCAA Basketball Championship. Unlike in college football, at least basketball has a legitimate champion … and unlike last year, I do not have to declare the basketball championship as invalid.

Monday was an interesting day with the passing of Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello. Here’s an interesting read about five myths regarding the Iron Lady, plus a tribute to the popular 60s star.

My stats here have been pathetic, but I keep plugging away.

Coming sometime this week: Time: The Musical – Act 2. After this highly successful opening act, it’s time to prepare. Participants may recall that Act 1 involved posting videos of songs with “Time” in the title. However, Act 2 is Time: A Specific Time – thus the song title must include a specific time in the title – not the lyrics, not the performer, not the meaning – the title. Do your research as I hope to open Act 2 sometime this week.

There will be a Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend … and it will feature a cartoon icon.

Because our handbell choir plays this weekend, I’ll send you into the weekend with a beautiful arrangement of How Can I Keep from Singing, which has an interesting “singing bell” technique with a dowel rod moving along the rim in a similar manner of getting a wine glass to sing with a finger.

Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Election Night 2012

It’s Election Night in America. I wrote this post several days ago with this night in mind so, at the time I publish this, the elections results are young and without a declared winner in the race for president.

While one party likes to walk around with the pocket Constitutions, all members of Congress swear to uphold it. The U.S. Constitution is an interesting document, but to me, the following are the three most important words: We the people.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People elect members to Congress to represent We the People in order to pass laws, control the budget, and exercise authorities granted by the Constitution.

We the People elect members to represent all people, which means not just the ones who voted for the elected; not an ideology; not a political party; not a religion, not a financial donor, not a special interest – but yes, to represent We the People.

We the People elect members to serve all people regardless of their faith, thus the elected are not to serve their religious preference. After all, the Constitution is quite clear regarding religion. Let the elected not forget that the Constitution lacks words as God, Creation, Christian, Jesus, and Lord (which only appears in the Signatory section).

Although Christian principles may have influenced the Founding Fathers, the Constitution does not declare the U.S. as a Christian nation. If the elected represent Christianity, what about the nonChristians? If the elected represents Christianity, which denomination will you represent? Then, what about the other Christians?

We the People are from all faiths and no faiths, therefore, our representatives should avoid submitting proposals on behalf of Christianity because what the church considers best for itself may not be in the best interest of We the People.

Representing We the People requires avoidance of firm ideology or a party each of these diverts attention from the needs of We the People. Adherence to a party or ideology silences We the People, and blocks the path to meaningful solutions.

Representing We the People requires conviction to represent the needs of the people who did not vote for the elected. After all, they too are We the People.

Representing We the People requires patience, the ability to listen, to desire to find the common good for all, to watch-out for and respond to human need that is beyond one’s self interests, party, or ideology.

Representing We the People requires discussing among yourselves to share ideas and concerns in order to work toward a solution for the common good – an idea that may be found in one side, the other, a compromise, or outside the grounds established by ideology, party, religion, self-interest, or special interest.

We the People need effective government to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, to provide a common defense, to promote general welfare, and to secure liberty for all of We the People. Especially during this time, we need our elected officials to make difficult decisions – the ones that test their gut against their party, their ideology, their religion, their self-interest, their donors, and special interests.

Along with a president, on this day we elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 33 members (approximately one-third) of the Senate. Their task seems simple, but I also know they will represent religion, a party, an ideology, self-interests, special interests, and donors over We the People – therefore, let me be the first to say the following about the newly elected, ‘Starting in 2014, throw the bums out. All of them! Clean house!” After all, We the People deserve better.

On the Empty

I started this blog in late August 2008 focusing primarily on politics and sports. At that time, the presidential campaigns were in full swing, and I had plenty of material to write. Forty-seven months later, I venture into a wide variety of topics, yet still enjoy politics. However, the recent U.S. presidential campaign bores me – and I can‘t see that changing.

We have two parties who control their candidates as a puppeteer controls the marionette.

We have two parties who answer to the big-dollar donors over their constituents.

We have candidates who don’t have much meaning in what they say – but they can deliver a tagline.

We have candidates who deliver speeches to achieve cheers from their faithful attendees (as if they wouldn’t) – and to raise money for their cause of rhetoric taglines.

We have candidates and surrogates who won’t say much beyond the predictable, scripted responses that probably won’t answer the question.

We have candidates whose campaign teams actively seek past sound bites by the opposition so they can deliver a message out of context in order to support their side.

We have candidates who focus on peripheral issues while avoiding engagement.

We have candidates who continually avoid facing the music in terms of making the tough decisions that require going against the grain.

We have candidates who essentially promote gridlock by proclaiming a lack of compromise based on self-serving principles.

We have popular commentators whose method of going beyond scripted taglines is by tossing firebombs of misinformation against the other side.

We have reporters who may want to ask the tough questions and dutifully push the responder to answer the question, but they also want the next interview.

Bottom Line: As partisans blindly accept whatever their side says while unquestionably objecting to anything coming from the other side, there is another segment that will decide the election. Although we are finally inside 100 days until Election Day, some are openly wondering why many independents remain undecided because there contrast between the two sides is somewhat defined.

True independents are pragmatic, and many will delay their decision until the last three weeks. Meanwhile, this population segment that will decide this election’s outcome has a difficult time shifting through all the crap in order to find an honest information, worthwhile dialogue, and potential solutions about the issues of the day. No wonder some of the independents are disgusted and bored. Then again, maybe we expect more from our leaders than they can deliver.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 124

On Politics
Rick Perry’s candidacy ended several days before I thought it would.

With all the Republicans rage able President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, why is the Republican governor of Nebraska wanting a re-route for he would approve?

Very interesting that instead of losing the Iowa caucus by 8 votes, Rick Santorum won by 32 votes. Better yet, where as the Iowa Republican Party previously declared Mitt Romney the winner, the party now calls it a virtual tie. Ah yes … consider this an example that the power is not in the voters, but with the ones counting the votes.

Governor Romney changing from declaring victory to promoting a virtual tie is another example of fuzzy math. No wonder he is reluctant to release his tax returns.

Yippee … Congress is back in session!

Thursday morning I heard Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) explain (regarding SOPA) that the legislation will likely not proceed as quickly because “it is important for us to get it right.” Sorry Senator, that’s what I always expect and have no confidence in Capitol Hill to do that on any issue.

State of the Union is next week and a great chance for our senators and representatives to make asses of themselves on national television. Try sitting and listening for a change without partisan interruptions you jackwagons.

On Headlines from The Onion
Mischievous Raccoon Wreaks Havoc on International Space Station
Pervert Thinks You Seem Tense
Supreme Court Overturns Right v. Wrong
Poll Finds Americans Open to Third Type of Screwdriver
Local Woman Dies of Lost Cell Phone
Justin Timberlake Wins Golden Globe for Funniest Goofball at His Table

Special Edition: On Political Headlines from The Onion
President Obama Wonders Why He Always has to Initiate Phone Call with NCAA Champions
Minnesota Braces for Return of Bachmann’s Full Attention
Tentacle Quickly Smooths Romney’s Hair
Grover Norquist Admits Engaging in Week-Long Drug-Fueled Orgy with Corporate Income Taxes
Critics Slam Obama for “Just Standing There” during Photo Op
Congress Gets 12 Solid Hours of Gridlock before Calling it a Day

On Potpourri
We have our first nominee for 2012 Dolt of the Year – Costa Concordia Captain Francisco Schettino.

Last Monday, many commented that they still enjoy holding a book. In a similar thought, I still enjoy holding a newspaper. Unfortunately, many newspapers are a mere shell of their past. On the plus side, the Internet allows many news outlets to be a click away. Because I still have the urge to hold a good newspaper and with the Cincinnati Enquirer continually getting smaller and smaller, I have purchased the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.

The work project his hitting the fan, thus will be demanding many hours for a few months. So far, I’ve been able to keep up with posts, replying to comments has been slow, and visiting others has been minimal. Starting next week, I will cut back to three posts per week. Thanks for everyone’s patience and understanding.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Needed Laugh

No matter of ones political persuasion, many of us have been anxiously watching and waiting the debt ceiling situation. Depending on the individual’s perspective, emotions and opinions range from A to Z and then some.

As of this writing on Sunday evening, still no deal – although the Breaking News is saying a vote will be on tomorrow. The opening of the Japanese market is nearing, so that could deliver an important sign of things to come. Who knows what we will awaken to in the morning.

Meanwhile, readers here need their Monday Morning Entertainment. We need smile and/or a giggle to break our mood.To me, this one fits the situation more ways than one, so I will let you make your own take. Enjoy, and have a good week.