Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 352

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Thanks to those participating in the IF Challenge. It was a spontaneous idea that was worth doing. Poems, reflections, and a short story provide good reading! I’ll keep the challenge page (tab) up at least until mid-week.

  • A special toast to the two non-regulars here who joined the fun!
  • A tip of the hat to Dale and Merril whose posts brought along a few others.
  • Special thanks to Dale for interacting with commenters!

If all goes as planned, my Tuesday night post is another meager attempt at fiction. As some say, write about what you know.

Here’s a worthy 30 seconds – Fiona in a Super Bowl commercial! … but I think it only ran locally.

Last week I mentioned Lachey’s – a local sports bar/eatery owned by Nick and Drew Lachey – a few days later they announced its closing.

I’m hoping to have another BLINK post this weekend – well, if I finalize it.

Congratulations Philadelphia Eagles and their fans on winning the Super Bowl.

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The US stock market had a tough week – but after predictably taking credit for the gains, President Trump predictably remained quiet.

Last week I stated why I don’t the State of the Union. This Los Angeles Times column made a lot of sense to me.

Although I didn’t watch the SOTU, I know enough not to believe this description of the speech: The SOTU was moving. It was reasonable. It was bipartisan. And it worked. (Mark Thiessen, Washington Post) … After all, in his Cincinnati speech this week he referred to Democrats as “un-American” and “treasonous”- and said it with conviction!

Not that there’s a shortage of strange quotes from President Trump, but I like this head scratcher; “Now we fulfilled far more promises than we promised.”

… and this one from his Cincinnati speech: “I am non-braggadocious.” (Yep – Everyone already knew President Trump is not boastful and arrogant.)

I yield to a great American orator.

President Trump has smart lawyers. Considering his propensity for lying and contradiction, their recommendation to not meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller because of a perjury fear is sound – and unfortunate.

The current criticism of Justice Department agencies is both dangerous and hyperpartisan – and then I see this head-shaking assessment of U.S. Attorneys.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides step-by-step instructions on how to run a successful crowd-funding campaign.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Minneapolis shocked to discover thousands of Super Bowl attendees left without seeing rest of city
American Airlines announces it will no longer try to match seatmates by interests
Determined circle of friends diligently traces back how they got onto this conversation topic
Oxiclean reveals new stain-removing fabric scissors
Popsicle reintroduces beloved “Plain” flavor
Local goose finally lands spot at tip of ‘V’

Interesting Reads
Life magazine … in Afghanistan?
Wealth, status, and an insect
Pizza instead of cereal
Fossils and spiders
Journey across Antarctica
(Images) 15 photos of Queen Elizabeth II through the years

To send you into the weekend, a touch of soul whose title describes the current US government. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 351

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Challenge Update: I will publish my post on Tuesday 6 February at 9 PM (Eastern US) … challenge participants publish after that and link to that post.

On the early morning of this week’s Super Blue Moon’s eclipse, Cincinnati had many clouds. A friend of mine (who is south for the winter) told me that he watched the shadowed moon fade away behind the horizon, then turned around to watch the sunrise over the opposite horizon only several minutes later.

Cincinnati has a unique food battle going on – a Burger Battle of the Boy Bands. In short, Nick Lachey (98 Degrees), is a Cincinnatian, plus he and his brother (Drew) have a restaurant. A few blocks away is Wahlburgers, owned by the Wahlbergs (Donnie was in New Kids on the Block). Here’s an article about the battle.

This weekend is the Super Bowl – big deal. We’ll probably have the game on, but without any festivities. Personally, I hope the Eagles win.

PS: More BLINK posts this weekend.

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I knew before making the decision that I would be missing the most unbelievable, the greatest, the most-watched ever State of the Union (SOTU) speech – but I continued my streak of avoiding the occasion because I hate watching the behaviors of our elected officials. Stay seated and remain quiet during the speech seems like such a small, yet reasonable request.

The SOTU is the US President delivering an annual Constitutional obligation. Although I don’t watch, I support it. On the other hand, I despise the fact opposing party have a rebuttal. The record clearly shows I also didn’t support the Republicans rebuttal after President Obama’s SOTU – and yep – I don’t support the Democrats doing the same. SOTU is the President’s address to Congress and the nation … PERIOD.

If I would have watched the SOTU, these bingo cards would have made the event more fun.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the myths and facts about Dreamers and the Dream Act.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman apologizes to therapist for monopolizing conversation
New acne-free treatment ships teens to remote island for remainder of puberty
Perfect girlfriend blames self for everything
Flustered mathematician unable to recommend good number
Brad Pitt stumbles across old cardboard box with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in it

Interesting Reads
Europe’s earliest written language?
Dark money and politics
About the Cincinnati murals
The contradictions of Gaudi
Demographics, America, and the future
Anti-evolution in India
(Graphic) World’s most nutritious foods
(Photos) National Geographic’s Best Adventure Photos of 2017

To send you into the weekend, here’s one of my favorites by John Mellencamp. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 286

As a wine enthusiast, this 15-second commercial for Ally Bank makes me laugh. (Not the best sound on this one) – but I don’t know why Ally Bank doesn’t post it on their YouTube channel.

After watching two current movies, I see a strong connection between two unlikely films – The Big Short and Concussion … and I recommend both films.

For those who enjoy a good fireworks display, I enjoyed the New Year’s display from London. Click here for a a fun 11 minutes.

Did you see the preview of the major announcement on the Hear Ye page?

The attacks this week in Istanbul and Jakarta are troubling. Unfortunately, I fear the world is going to be dealing with this problem for more years than we want … no matter what Washington does.

In order to quicken the pace on improving my handbell skills, I started practicing with the second choir at our church this week. Their music is easier, so I can work on my technique and get back to reading music. I see it as a boot camp to sharpen my skills for a few weeks.

There will be an Explore this weekend.

Thank you readers, especially those who don’t follow sports, for tolerating my vent on the previous post.

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The first 10 minutes of the State of the Union (SOTU) was on (while I was blogging) because my wife was watching. The partisanship of the event drives me nuts. I wish all the members in the audience would quietly and respectfully sit and listen from start to finish … but that’s asking a bit too much from our elected officials.

I’m glad President Obama included the partisan gridlock in the SOTU. (I read this portion of the transcript after seeing the news reports.) Although the Republican caucus makes it difficult, I openly wonder about the White House’s role in the obstruction.

For those thinking I only pick on Republicans, below are the fact-checks of President Obama’s State of the Union … here is the speech’s transcript … (and the fact checks) Politifact,  Annenberg Fact Check,  Associated PressWashington Post

As Donald Trump (R-NY) questions Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) citizenship, I say the Democrats should not address this issue now or in the future. Don’t stoop that low! Should the question be answered? Absolutely – but not by those with a political motive. I say the Republican Party should launch the initiative to determine the answer – but I very much doubt that will happen.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) needs votes, so he pouts and declines to participate in the lower-tier debate. Now that makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of Mr. Trump, I listened to much of two of his speeches. I encourage others to do so, but I won’t say why.

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To lead you into The Onion, here is their list of pros and cons regarding helicopter parenting.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pope Francis Wearing Sweater Vestments He Got For Christmas (I like the picture)
Emotional NRA President honors victims of background checks
Minimalism Overdone
Study Links Binge Eating To Stress, Contentment, Depression, Joy, Boredom, Anger, Relaxation
New Survey Reveals Chicken-Fried Steak Leads Pork-Fried Pork As Nation’s Favorite Meat-Fried Meat

Interesting Reads
For the political junkies, a Republican’s view of the party’s 2016 options
A public-union case at the US Supreme Court
A short primer to understanding Islam (Thanks Jim W)
David Bowie’s life in pictures
Gene editing: the positives and negatives
In his own words: How a gym teacher invented basketball in 1891
Is China scared of ghost films?

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. 285

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?

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. 248

In a political way, I’m very lucky. After all, my Republicans friends think I’m a Democrat while my Democratic friends think I’m a Republican … thus I combined the two thoughts into an affirmation.

I didn’t watch the State of the Union (SOTU) because it’s too much like an infomercial. All that’s missing is a Billy-Mays-type spokesperson. The event displays a canned speech delivering a collection of soundbites with minimal substance leading to predictable responses and buffoonery by those choosing to display partisanship over listening with respect.

Yes, the US Constitution requires SOTU, but not the opposing party’s televised response – and the mere fact that they have one is repulsive (let alone the multiple this year) … and I am equally disgusted at a Democratic response during a Republican presidency.

President Obama plan for free tuition at community colleges has received much attention. This response by columnist David Brooks is an interesting slant to ponder.

Regarding Islam, are the majority of non-Muslims confused or ignorant?

A board member from our local Islamic Center wrote had this guest commentary in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although interesting, the online comments are even more so.

Malcolm recently posted about epitaphs … here’s my submission – If you didn’t understand him, you didn’t know him … now I wonder if the thought should be flipped.

Hats off to reader for providing 26 songs (at last count) at Life: The Musical – Act 16. There’s still one more act, any ideas on the theme?

No Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend – however … big news … an Exploring post will be there!

Here’s the reason why Saturday is Beer Can Appreciation Day.

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To lead you into The Onion, here is a collection regarding the State of the Union.

This Week from The Onion
New Facebook Notification alerts users when they are not currently looking at Facebook
Area man clearly came to Redbox machine without a plan
Man reserving judgment on Best Actress nominees until seeing all 5 photos
Area man eats breakfast for dinner in desperate attempt to reinvent his life
Preschooler asks to borrow classmates notes on shapes

Interesting Reads
An article with a 5-circle Venn diagram about potential GOP presidential candidates
Designer babies
Politicians avoiding science is not limited to the US
Cartography and the land of the octopus
A historical look at Congressional dysfunction
A different, but interesting graphic about the history of jazz

Your Weekend Celebrations

  • (Fri) Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day, Handwriting Day, Pie Day, Measure Your Feet Day, Rhubarb Pie Day, Spouse’s Day
  • (Sat) Talk the a Grizzled Prospector Day, Fancy Rat & Mouse Day, Beer Can Appreciation Day, Belly Laugh Day, Compliment Day, Just Do It Day, Peanut Butter Day, Eskimo Pie Day, Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Today, Speak Up & Succeed Day, Wish Cynthia a Happy Birthday Day
  • (Sun) Soup Swap Day (here’mine for you), Fluoride Day, A Room of One;s Own Day, MacIntosh Computer Day, 101 Dalmatian Day, Opposite Day, Robert Burns Day, Leprosy Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s a 2-fer … the first is one that surprisingly was not submitted for latest Life: The Musical, and the second is a hit from Journey. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 247

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The proposed Keystone XL pipeline continues to make the news. Politically, it’s project that one party oversells the jobs impact while the other party overstates the environmental impact.

Very seldom do I read columnist Walter Williams because I find his brand of conservative to be off base. Besides, I demonstrated this January 2011 post his premise as wrong. No, not a disagreement, just flat-out wrong! Nonetheless, the title of his recent series of columns is Liberals Use of Black People for Own Agenda. My response is simple: I didn’t realize that conservatives don’t use any group for their own agenda.

The absence of a notable, high-level US representative at last weekend’s Paris rally was sad. At least the White House admitted they made a mistake.

I’m pleased with the number of Muslims who have spoken out against violence since the Paris tragedy, and I continue to believe that education within the Islamic community is the best vehicle against the Jihadists.

Two interesting political reads

The 2016 ambitions are testing the waters. Yep, Mitt Romney (R-MA) is interested in a third try focusing on poverty, and Mike Huckabee (R-AR) (while on his Guns, God, Grits, and Gravy book tour) slammed President Obama for letting his daughters listen to Beyonce. Let the parade begin, so bring on the clowns (and the party is open to all political parties).

The State of the Union is next week, but I’m not interested in a canned speech with predictable responses for the audience.

When will politicians (actually anyone) learn that most analogies to Adolph Hitler are not a good idea. A Dolt Award to Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX). He apologized, but a bit late.

People don’t believe me when I tell them what my dental specialist (implants) offers patients, so I took this picture after an implant-maintenance visit early this week.

DentistOffice

Every time I hear or read Click on, I cringe. It’s Click the image. It’s Click the button. It’s Click the icon. After all, have you ever been instructed to Click off the image?

Lauren Hill Update: She made it to Christmas, and then the new year. I saw this local news story Thursday evening, and she continues to impress everyone who knows her story. The foundation she started has raised over $1.2 million in 3 months as she continues to be a spokesperson for children with cancer (The Cure Starts Now Foundation)

Given Saturday’s celebration, I will have a cartoon post for Saturday.

I’m hoping for the next-to-the-last act of Life: The Musical to be next week, which means the theme will be on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s a powerful message from Mad magazine’s Editor-in-Chief as viewed on CBS Sunday Morning. (Thanks Mouse for finding this.)

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
HR Director reminds employees that any crying at work must be job related
Snorkeling instructor unaware he’s in background of 400 dating profile photos
First-year Congressman brings fresh roadblocks to table
Supreme Court gathers to watch baby justices hatch
Area man only one with problems
New archeological find suggests Mary Magdalene was actually a size 12

Interesting Reads
The wealthy gap between Europe and America: A brief history
The sun through an X-ray eye
Photo gallery from within Shenandoah National Park
Lincoln’s Writings: A book review
Different laughs for different people
Whale testicle beer

Your Weekend Celebrations
(Fri) Fetish Day, Fig Newton Day, Appreciate a Dragon Day, Hot & Spicy Food Day, Nothing Day
(Sat) Popeye Day, Rid the World of Fad Diets & Gimmicks Day, Ditch the New Years’ Resolutions Day, Cable Car Day, Customer Service Day, Hot Buttered Rum Day, Kid Inventors Day, Hot-Heads Chili Day, Polar Bear Swim Day
(Sun) Winnie the Pooh Day, Thesaurus Day, Maintenance Day, Peking Duck Day, Wish Elyse a Happy Birthday Day

Another 2-fer to send you into the weekend. The first video is for those willing to join Raye in a Friday celebration. Last, but not least, a song from T Rex to get you movin’. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 209

On Politics
Here are my key reasons why I did not watch the State of the Union (SOTU):

  • It’s a collection of applause lines over many topics with little substance
  • Congressional behavior is predictably pathetic (Suggestion: Stand and clap at the beginning; sit, listen, and be quiet; stand and clap at the end, then leave to run to the cameras)
  • The SOTU is a Constitutional requirement, but the opposing party’s response is nothing more than political grandstanding
  • I’m unhappy with the both parties

Given the predictable responses by both sides in Congress, I ask them this question about their legislative prowess: Which is worse: Sending a bill to the other chamber knowing they won’t act or not acting on a bill that was sent?

Here are a few fact checks on the speech: Fact Check, PolitFact, Fact Checker, Politico, and ABC News.

The Onion took this great picture during the SOTU.

The past week delivered Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) declaring President Obama started the war on women, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blaming Democrats (again) on the government shutdown, Mike Huckabee (R-AK) making a ridiculous statement about libido, and the Arizona Republican Party censuring their senior senator from their own party, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

I said it before and it’s time to say it again: China carrying the bulk of US debt is a common misconception. Here’s the breakdown.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Dad Delivers State of the Union Rebuttal Directly into Television Screen
  • Increasingly Worried Man Hasn’t Yet Come Across any Guacamole in Burrito
  • Area Grandma Enjoys Flourishing Correspondence with Mailer-Daemon
  • Best, Most-Original Idea Man Ever Had Returns 14,000 Google Search Results
  • Spookiest Sound Effect Grammy Goes to Lord Chillingsworth

Interesting Reads

On Potpourri
The anticipated debate between science advocate Bill Nye and Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham is approaching, and no doubt will deliver a narrow view, thus providing a false choice. Here’s an article.

The recent Grammy Awards were big news. The show now focuses on performances and promotion over the awards. After all, there are over 80 categories, and how many did they broadcast? 10?

The AFA musical production for 2014 will be …. (click here for the drum roll) …. Life: The Musical. The production date TBA.

The Explorer of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean ship in the news with the recent norovirus, is the ship we were on this fall in Canada …. and no, the news doesn’t discourage me from cruising with Royal Caribbean in the future.

FYI for those living in/near metropolitan areas: When needing a new appliance, don’t forget the local independent dealer. We went to one and discovered the big-box stores were NOT close on price!

Here are your weekend celebrations

(Fri) Brandy Alexander Day, Fun at Work Day, Backward Day, Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, Hell Freezes Over Day, Baked Alaska Day, Working Naked Day

(Sat) Serpent Day, Freedom Day, Hula in the Coola Day, Robinson Crusoe Day, Change Your Password Day, Decorating with Candy Day, GI Joe Day, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, Spunky Old Broads Day, Take Your Child to the Library Day, Face and Body Day

(Sun) Crepe Day, Dump Your Significant Jerk Day, Groundhog Day, Groundhog Job Shadow Day, Hedgehog Day, Sled Dog Day, Play Your Ukulele Day, Wetlands Day

Let’s use a dose of the 80s to whip everyone into the weekend with Ohio’s own Devo. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.