Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 266

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Last week I wrote this: Numerous southern families support flying the Confederate Battle Flag because they have ancestors who fought under that flag. OK … so why isn’t the Nazi flag flown at the cemeteries for World War II German soldiers? I know that Nazi analogies are often in poor taste, my statement was by no means equating the Nazis to anything in the US Civil War. Flags are symbols, and my intention focused on the flags. I apologize to anyone offended by the question.

Statues of Confederate soldiers in public places are getting scrutinized and even defaced. To me, that’s absolutely absurd. Here’s an interesting Washington Post article about Confederate symbols.

Burning African-American churches? Hey South Carolina – you have a problem!

The recent court rulings offered more examples of Republicans proclaiming a return to the Constitution except when they want to change it. Meaning, the recent rulings have also provided many the opportunity to demonstrate that smart people can say and do stupid things – especially when pandering for votes.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (aka The Truth Teller) may be the King of Hyperbole. As the US Supreme Court went against his views twice in a short span, Cruz stated, Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history. Meanwhile, he describes (in his book) fact-checking as yellow journalism. Here’s an article from USA Today.

Speaking of Texas, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law-enforcement official in the state, is encouraging clerks, magistrates, and other officials who object same-sex marriage to not issue the marriage license.

The New York Times did this outstanding 13-minute video about the story that led to the US Supreme Court ruling. (Thanks Lame)

Given some conservatives are squawking about Chief Justice Roberts, this read is about Roberts’ consistency.

In my opinion, and time will tell, the recent ruling says nothing or even implies that churches are required to perform a marriage ceremony involving LGBT. Some have, some will, and some won’t.

Gov. Chris Christie became the 14th Republican seeking the presidency. (I foresee at least 2 more.) He’s a good example of it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Yep – the importance of speaking with conviction can cause others to not notice what is said. No profile from The Onion … Yet!

President Obama announced the intent for Cuba and the USA to open respective embassies. The next step is up to Congress – Oh boy! Given the 2016 election, this could be interesting.

The economic situation in Greece is troubling, yet complex. The heart aches for the Greek people.

Congratulations Missy Copeland on her accomplishment … and cheers to the American Ballet Theater for the historic decision.

I enjoy Enya’s music. I stumbled across this pleasing video to one of her songs. For other Enya fans, enjoy The Memory of Trees (which is good waltz music).

Desserts is the theme for Act 7 of Meals: The Musical. One note of caution: Because they had their own act, beware of using “fruits” or any fruit as they had their own act. (EX) Blueberry Hill is not acceptable because the dessert is not identified; but Blueberry Pie or Blueberry Ice Cream would be acceptable. Curtain time is this Wednesday, 7:30 pm (Eastern US)

For those who will post the entire story on their blog (with their ending), the revised story (without an ending) is on the Challenge page to copy. The Dance Challenge date Sunday, July 12th, 9:30 pm (Eastern US). … Feel free to promote the challenge!

This is a holiday weekend in the US, so no Saturday post from me. Happy Fourth of July, America.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their mass extinctions timetable.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Boss’s clout evaporates after he’s seen in shorts at company picnic
Study: U.S. wastes 2 million hours annually figuring out where tape roll begins
Man commits to new TV show just hours after getting out of 7-season series
Family enters crisis talks after discovering restaurant has 45-minute wait
Only predictor of happy marriage is if husband won wife big stuffed animal at amusement park

Interesting Reads
Slavery, states rights, civil rights, and a flag
A year as a nudist
How the turtle got its shell
Endangered places is America
Mushrooms and weight reduction
Yes, photos of a crow landing on an eagle

To send you into the weekend, here’s a touch of Motown from years gone by, Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Education: Texas GOP Style

Sometime one stumbles across a treasure trove of information in one link – and that recently happened to me as I found the Texas Republican Party platform. Below are a few excerpts from this document regarding education. (My italicized comments follow in parentheses.)

Keep in mind that future governors, Congressional representatives and senators, and maybe even a presidential candidates may be on the committee. Hmmmmm … Enjoy and be enlightened.

Basic Standards – We favor improving the quality of education for all students, including those with special needs. We support a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and citizenship with sufficient discipline to ensure learning and quality educational assessment. (In other words, the hell with science.)

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind. (Not only the hell with science, we only care what the Supreme Court says when they agree with us.)

Classroom Discipline –We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas. (We can beat kids that deserve it.)

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. (Duh! Critical-thinking skills are not required to think like a Texan because Texans from Texas blood are genetically given that gift. Besides, we are the higher order.)

Textbook Review – Until such time as all texts are required to be approved by the SBOE, each ISD that uses non-SBOE approved instructional materials must verify them as factually and historically correct. Also the ISD board must hold a public hearing on such materials, protect citizen’s right of petition and require compliance with TEC and legislative intent. Local ISD boards must maintain the same standards as the SBOE. (Attention textbook companies – adjust accuracy for the Texas viewpoint.)

Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings. (Yep, the Founding Fathers were very clear and in agreement – and if you don’t believe we know what they meant, just ask us.)

Meanwhile, about that border fence, I do have a good idea.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 24

On Pelosi and Torture
As Nancy Pelosi continues to two-step around what she didn’t know about military torture, I’ll simply say I don’t believe her. Again, I have three questions to Congress: Who knew? When did they know? Why did they remain quiet? ….And the Republicans are correct here.

At least the previous administration is admitting making the decision, so please step down Madam Speaker.

On Continual VP Cheney Comments
Dick Cheney repeatedly talks about how the Bush Administration kept us safe after 9-11. I have one question: 9-11 was on your watch. Besides blaming the Clinton Administration, where was the protection?

On Two Suggestions for Congressional Republicans

  1. Find an issue that you desire and President Obama supports, and actively go after it. Hello – you need to show the public something positive.
  2. On the other hand, you lack credibility because you didn’t practice what you preach when you were the majority. I have a better idea for improving your image more quickly than the Boehner-McConnell method of simply saying We lost our way and we’re returning to our roots approach. Every Republican elected since 2000 should NOT seek re-election; therefore the fresh faces don’t have to carry your baggage.

On Wanda Sykes
Did the comedian cross the line with her jokes about Rush Limbaugh? Yes. Is the incident worth all the coverage? No … just like Rush. Get a life people!

On Evolution Again
In Vol. 23 (last week) I mentioned the books I’ve been reading about evolution and religion. Then Kathleen Parker provided this timely column.

On Alfred Wallace
I don’t know how many people know about Alfred Wallace. With his studies in SE Asia, he is actually Charles Darwin’s co-discover of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. Here’s a National Geographic story on the lesser known naturalist.

On Texas
Several weeks ago Governor Rick used the ‘secession’ card. I know Texans our both a proud people and proud of their history. Seems many Republican Texans like that going on their own is a good idea. Hmmm … should we beat Texans to the punch and give them back to Mexico before they leave?
On Tasty Barbeque
Hooray! May is National Barbeque Month. I’ve got to give a shout-out to my favorite barbeque sauce – a white sauce from Big Bob Gibson (Decatur, Alabama). It serves as a great marinade too!

On Burger Grease
Everyone knows that hamburgers can be greasy. After all, burger enthusiasts love juiciness. But burger grease art? Hmmm … watch this short clip.

A BCS Rant on BCS Sunday

Later today the powers at be will announce the BCS bowl selections. Although pundits and fans have made many predictions and the tea leaves have aligned to make the announcement a mere anticlimatic event, fans will still display either joy, sadness, or discontent with the selections of some teams. Since the complaining about the Big East and ACC representatives started long ago, now (the time before the announcement) is the perfect time to set the record straight.

The BCS is not about determining a national champion – and has never been  –  it’s about money. The BCS is an agreement between the six major conferences (plus Notre Dame) so they can dominate the bowl payout revenue. The BCS conferences will take home about 80% of the payout. That’s 80% to the teams with highest Saturday revenues; the biggest stadiums, the most home games, the largest radio/TV monies, and the list can go on. For those who don’t know, “more” means MORE.

Look at these points:

  • Of the 10 BCS bowl slots, 6 are guaranteed to the champions of the 6 BCS conferences
  • Winners of nonBCS conferences must meet qualifiers to be one of the 10
  • No more than one nonBCS conference winner can earn an automatic berth
  • A second nonBCS conference winner may earn an at-large berth with it meets another set of qualifiers.

In short, at this time it seems Utah is in while Boise State, in the BCS Top 10, is out. Heaven forbid they used a system to determine the 10-best teams. Sorry Cinderella, no dance for you!

BCS conference members and their fans continue to disrespect the best teams from the nonBCS conferences: Oh how they are not worthy of being mentioned in the same voice as the power schools. Keep in mind that these schools are the ones who take BCS bowl revenue that rightfully belongs to those who created the format! After all, this year the Big 12 deserves three teams in the BCS bowls (although the BCS says no more than two), the SEC always deserves at least two (just ask them), and teams as Ohio State (and others) site a legacy clause as their right to be included and to discredit not only those undeserving nonBCS teams, but also the Big East and ACC champions.

Speaking of the Big East and ACC champions, they have earned their right to a BCS bowl in accordance with the BCS agreement. Suck it up and leave them alone! Better yet, try being humble and give them respect. Heck, let them play each other in a bowl game on national TV so they can get their paycheck while the elitist sulk.

The situation in the Big 12 South provides an interesting situation. To the fans of those schools, your problem is NOT with the BCS; it’s with the way the Big 12 determines its champion. Stop blaming the ACC, Big East, and non-BCS schools for your in-house problem. Would Oklahoma fans be complaining if the conference used the SEC’s tie-breaker method? What if the conference changes it’s tie-breaker method and it goes against Texas in the future? Will they then complain?

Hey Big 12, I have a novel idea. Cut back to 10 members, each team plays 9 conference games, determine an agreed upon tie-breaking system, and get rid of the conference championship game that is serves as one of the roadblocks to a playoff system. Oops … that can’t be done because that game is all about revenue.

There are, and will continue to be, those calling for a BCS Plus-1 game. These are the ones who attended the Bud Selig School of Decision Making and Problem Solving. What the heck will adding a game to a pathetic system do to determine a true national champion? By the way, that “solution” is easy to dismantle and solves nothing … so why not be like Bud and flip a coin!

November and December are full of BCS talk – and it will continue after the close of bowl season. Fortunately March Madness will soon be upon us. Sure discussions will occur about a team being left out and another who shouldn’t be there, but at least a champion is determined – a champion that everyone recognizes. And that champion went through a process that involves Cinderella capturing the hearts of many.

Meanwhile, for those expecting the BCS to get it right, remember this – it can’t! USA Today’s Christine Brennan defined BCS as Bogus Champion Selector. Well said!

In contrast to basketball, the wicked step-sister called the BCS doesn’t care much for Cinderella because it is a mythological story situated in the land of green greed while disguising itself as a method for determining a national champion – nothing more; and nothing less.

They’ve Earned It Top 10: Week 6

“Ouch!” was the loud cry heard from USF, UConn, and Auburn this weekend while teams as Vanderbilt and Penn State keep saying “Look at me” while USC & Ohio State make the “Don’t write us off” statement. Georgia and Oregon use Arnold to proclaim, “We’ll be back.”

Pitt, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Va Tech keep forging their way back from early setbacks. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are yelling, “What about us?” Ball State continues saying, “Hey, no respect.”

Meanwhile, the They’ve Earned It Top 10 continues in flux.

They’ve Earned It Top 10 Countdown
10. Missouri
9. Florida
8. Brigham Young
7. USC
6. LSU
5. Texas
4. Oklahoma
3. Penn State
2. Vanderbilt
1. Alabama

Upcoming conference games will continue to shake thing up! A few of the huge games this weekend include Oklahoma-Texas, LSU-Florida, and Missouri-Oklahoma State. Not sure how much it matters, but North Carolina – Notre Dame intrigues me.

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