Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 345

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Because this is a holiday week, this edition of Opinion in the Shorts is a bit earlier than normal.

I’m overdue for a new header – so welcome another image from the Hubble Telescope – the Horsehead Nebula within the Orion constellation about 1500 light years from Earth. You can see my past headers on the Past Headers tab or by clicking here.

The latest Star Wars film: A quick review – Good vs. evil, a group of eclectic characters from across the universe, numerous special effects battle scenes, and advanced weapon technology that isn’t efficient at hitting a target.

2,000th post is the next statistical milestone for my little corner of the world. I imagine it happening sometime in early 2018 (January or February). 300,000th visit should happen sometime late December or January – but I don’t foresee them happening together

The next post will be a Christmas post (posted either on the 23rd or 24th).

I drafted the beach walks while at the beach. Cincinnati is a long way from the beach, so I only have one more – which I may publish next week.

The Creation Museum (from Answers in Genesis) is located in the Cincinnati area. Although I have more than a passing interest in the interrelationship between religion and science, I’ve never had the urge to visit the museum – and probably never will. After all, it does not represent my view of religion or my view of science. Therefore, I appreciated this closing statement Ted Davis gives his recent post at Biologos. … in engaging culture with Christian truth is a holy duty, but it goes awry when Christians approach culture in an aggressive and combative manner, oversimplify complex issues, and delegitimize any approach that starts with an open question instead of an assumed answer.

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With all the talk about the new tax plan, I wonder what happened to President Trump’s idea of (I paraphrase) “a tax cut not for rich guys like me.”

The new tax bill eliminates the wrong mandate regarding health care insurance – the individual mandate, whereas I say it should eliminate the insurance mandate on businesses – but that would involve guts and creative problem solving.

Other than saying No, Democrats missed the opportunity of providing an alternative tax-cut proposal to the public.

Remember Simpson-Bowles; the 2012 bipartisan effort examining deficit reduction and reform? Five years have passed and Congress and both parties continue to ignore it while kicking the can down the road.

It’s been a long time since I thought about the brilliant George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on TV, but it immediately came to my mind when hearing the report about the Trump Administration directive to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Reports say that the CDC cannot use 7 words in the budget preparation documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. Although just another odd Trumpian effect, Chuck Todd’s closing segment on Meet the Press was perfect.

I smiled when I heard conservative columnist George Will say he believes the country would be better off with a divided Congress. I also enjoyed this recent column of his about washing machines.

Columnist Kathleen Parker recently offered timely reminder: … effectively convinced voters that what is true is false and what is false is true.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a guide for interpreting dreams.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Unidentified wooden pole leaning against wall in garage
God gets Celtic Cross tattoo on back
Unpatriotic man does not maintain erection during National Anthem
92% of area woman’s recipes involving pulverizing bag of Oreos
Overworked pajama bottoms pray owner gets job soon
Study finds chickens would have no qualms about caging, eating humans

Interesting Reads
Has the high school diploma lost meaning?
Public trust and science
A guide for pessimists for the days ahead
History of Star Wars
What if Greenland had no ice?
(Pictures) The most beautiful pictures of 2017
(Video) A relaxing two minutes of sights from the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico

To lead you toward the holiday, here’s a 1963 clip of The Beatles. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 343

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Hooray for us. The out-of-town aunt’s house is sold and closed! Simply a monumental accomplishment considering where we started.

Last weekend’s Supermoon was awesome. Love this collection of images from USA Today.

Savannah Guthrie: “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the recognition that they have behaved badly? And I don’t know the answer to that.” … I say if you love Matt Lauer as a friend, he needs you – so be there for him.

We had a new experience last weekend: Watching a holiday parade of horse-drawn carriages.

The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics, but Russian athletes can complete without a country. In my opinion, that’s pathetic.

Last week’s Crosstown Shootout was ugly as Xavier convincingly dismantled my UC Bearcats. Oh well … a team not playing well and getting outplayed doesn’t deserve to win. Congrats XU!

The college football committee got the four playoff teams right.

Although PBS dismissed Garrison Keillor for misconduct, I plan to continue using his quote at the end of this post.

Congratulations to Jim Wheeler for being the 75,000th. He was touched by the fireplaces display I had for him. The next milestone will probably happen in early 2018 as I’m 21 posts away from post #2000.

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Current tax bills are a prime example of Republicans being so desperate to accomplish something, they are willing to sell out their philosophy.

Regarding President Trump’s recent proclamation about Jerusalem, I didn’t listen to him, his surrogates, or other partisan talking heads – but I was all hears when listening to Middle East expert Aaron David Miller. Here’s his article about the announcement.

Wall Street’s positive reaction to possible changes in tax policy has nothing to do with changes to people and everything to do with the effect on corporations.

The reason I believe Roy Moore will win the Alabama Senate race can be summarized in one word. Any thoughts?

In the era of declaring Fake News, Chris Wallace (Fox News Anchor) wrote this interesting editorial.

The 4 lines I most commonly hear by President Trump supporters for any situation: Having Hillary would be worse. Look at Hillary’s crimes. He’s better than Obama. It’s Obama’s fault. Nothing like having ready-to-use lines for any occasion.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion captures royal scandals over time.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Cartoon character translated seamlessly into noodle
Son’s friend seems like the type who always gets nosebleeds
Steven Spielberg recalls coming to blows with ET on film set
Negligent oaf sloppily packs away board game without so much as a thought to future players
GOP leaders celebrate passing point of no return

Interesting Reads
Gene therapy brings hope
About a remote Norwegian island
Myths about the brain
Jobs and automation
A symphony from broken instruments
Hedy Lamarr: Inventor
A solution for pack rats
(Photos) Royal Society photo winners

For your weekend entertainment, let’s climb into the way-back machine for some early Beatles. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 342

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Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo’s mega-star, has this major article in the New York Times Sunday edition.

The Kennedy Center Honors are this week, but the telecast is December 27th (9-11 pm US Eastern) on CBS. For me, this annual event is must-watch television! The 2017 honorees are Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Lionel Richie.

If you enjoy “Oh Come Emmanuel”, you may enjoy this handbell piece that we are playing next week. Very interesting rhythms  – and not easy! –  but at least it’s not like the late-October monster. Click here to listen.

Congratulations to Jordan Fisher and partner Lindsay Arnold for winning Dancing With the Stars. He was outstanding from the very start. To our eyes, his technique was over-the-top good. Here’s his Week 1 Tango. (The dance starts at 1:30.)

Cincinnati is lucky to be home to two top-level college basketball teams Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. The rivalry between the two schools that are only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart is intense – and this weekend is the annual meeting known as the Crosstown Shootout. Go UC! … but this is the only game of the year where I hope XU loses.

Here’s the beginning of an interesting local story.

Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the back of his head, as he walked home, carrying food for himself and his wife. Authorities say he was an innocent and unsuspecting victim. After two teenagers pleaded guilty this month at separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, Rukiye, offered to hug them. Javon Coulter said she could. Rukiye wants to visit them in prison regularly and help them become better people. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Just learned about a company named d.light.  Very interesting products! This is a way to help the people of Puerto Rico and other places without electricity. Click to see their products.

Saturday I’m posting a collaboration with an artist. Hope you stop by.

My little corner of the world is approaching several milestones, including 75,000th comment. I wonder who will get the recognition.

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Brilliantly said by Michael Gerson (Washington Post): Not only do we have tribal politics in this country, we also have tribal morality.

2108 is an election year for Ohio’s governor. The four top Republican candidates were in my area recently for a forum. Here’s the way the Cincinnati Enquirer started the report: The Republican nomination for Ohio governor might come down to who loves President Donald Trump more. And who’s least like current Republican governor John Kasich.

I continue to think Roy Moore will win in Alabama.

Two weeks I mentioned writing my Congressional Representative and Senator because their party like to claim, “It’s a mental health issue” when it comes to mass shootings. I asked what the Republican Party has done about mental health issues (purposefully without mentioning gun control.) My Representative responded: 1) Without answering my question. 2) Stating the issue with the Air Force files on the most recent incident has been corrected, and 3) focusing on gun control.

In terms of the plan for the tax cuts, interesting how the effects of the debt is less important to those who previously said the debt is of utmost importance. Ah yes – the nature of politics.

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

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Buick introduces new self-buying car
Nutella briefly entertained as lubricant
New historic evidence suggests most Pilgrims sailed back home to celebrate first Thanksgiving
Smithsonian acquires rare photograph where whole family looks really nice
Substitute teacher can tell he’s filling in for real asshole

Interesting Reads
Can machines become moral?
26 words we don’t want to lose
Ocean’s most-dedicated mothers
Digital privacy upcoming in the high court
60 years after Brown v. Board of Education
(Images) Bumper stickers for subway riders
(Photos) Random photos of the week

For your weekend entertainment, I continue the stretch of Fab Four songs. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Liverpool

Founded in 1207 along the River Mersey, Liuerpool (meaning thick/muddy creek) grew from a fishing village to an important location for the English military, an important seaport in the 1600s regarding trading with the new world, followed by an important industrial center.

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Today’s Liverpool is a vibrant center of culture and urban rebirth that also embraces its heritage. After all, look who we saw along the waterfront. Sorry to say that we missed their local tour that includes real places as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, their childhood homes, and more.

Today’s downtown is a modernized center popularized by Liverpool history with music, the arts, and nightlife. The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, A Flock of Seagulls, and others are rooted in Liverpool’s fabric and heritage.The area around Temple Court, Mathew Street, and Ramford Square is highlighted with music venues, historic landmarks, and other stores boosting its heritage.

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City Center is multiple-block, pedestrian shopping area with a wide variety of stores a short distance away – and not far from the waterfront and the cruise terminal. Today’s waterfront bustles with food, entertainment, shopping, hotels, amusement, and museums.

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… and yes – including a ferry to cross the Mersey.

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

Next post is a surprise. Hmmmm … Wonder what/where?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 338

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Carefully observers have noticed that my posting has been a bit erratic and my responding to comments has been very slow. This has been primarily due to the time spent working on the situation of an out-of-town aunt. Thanks to all for being patient, understanding, and caring.

Phase 2 (of 3) in preparing an aunt’s house for sale is complete – so 3+ hour trips should not be as numerous as we enter Phase 3. Phase 2 was definitely the most critical and the most time-consuming .. and we proudly check that box!

I’m hoping November will be better for blogging (visiting and posting) than October.

A milestone: I’ve started the process of receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Blink Cincinnati was an unbelievable success. Hopefully several posts in the future.

Readers here know I enjoy posting about murals in Cincinnati – primarily the ones by ArtWorks. Here’s an article from the New York Times about public art. Thanks Raye!

It’s possible that the song below is the hardest handbell piece our choir has ever played. Our one-shot performance is approaching, so time will tell. “Mixed meter” is a musical term for a piece with different time signatures within the piece. This piece (the one we are playing) changes timing over 75 times. Now that plays havoc on my nerves.

Because this weekend marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two related articles are in this week’s Interesting Reads.

This season of Dancing With the Stars continues to surprise me. Actor Jordan Fisher and musician Lindsey Stirling have been exceptional. Television personality Vanessa Lachey continues to shine. Actor Frankie Muniz, wrestler Nikki Bella, ESPN’s Victoria Arlen are solid, while Property Brother Drew Scott and athlete Terrell Own continue to improve.

Contrary to some partisans, the situation involving scumbag Harvey Weinstein is not a political issue.

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A tip of the cap to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA for at least trying to develop a bipartisan agreement regarding the Affordable Care Act – even co-sponsored by 24 senators. Another proposal from a bipartisan group on the House side faces similar obstacles: a group representing slightly less than 10% of the House of Representatives.

I have no problem with a Congressional committee investigating the sale of US uranium mines to Russians ONCE – not over and over – not as a dragged-on affair trying to find something that isn’t – not as a political witch hunt.

I liked this question regarding North Korea and nuclear weapons: Would you rather live with North Korea having nuclear weapons or have thousands killed in the name of stopping North Korea from having weapons?

After 9 months in office, President Trump uses the following strengths to lead the country: bolivating, exaggerating, lying, blaming, defecting, distorting, denying, ignoring, fabricating, and dividing. Cheers to this CNN commercial about two popular fruits.

Erick Erickson is definitely a conservative, but I appreciate his words about the way President Trump is reacting to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

But sometimes the President should be Presidential and getting in the mud is not. The people of Puerto Rico are hungry, thirsty, homeless, and fearful. They won’t hear a lot about President Trump’s twitter fight and it won’t matter to him because they cannot participate in the Electoral College. It should matter to all of us though that the President is so willing to get in the mud and fight back when the mayor and everyone else in Puerto Rico need our empathy and compassion. Sometimes the President just does not need to dial-up the jackass and sometimes he does not need to be defended.

Cheers to recent comments by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ) for having the guts to call it like it is. Then again, that’s a meager minority.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for organizing a protest.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
New evidence reveals Pythagoras wrote dozens of unhinged conspiracy theories about triangles
Romantic gesture too expensive to waste on current girlfriend
Nation demands more slow-motion footage of running basset hounds
Article nauseous from constant scrolling
Self-conscious panda swears it overheard zookeeper refer to it as “Giant”
Historians discover meditation spread from Ancient China by annoying monk who wouldn’t shut up about how it changed his life

Interesting Reads
Martin Luther and Literacy
Robots and ethics: teachable?
Odd pet behaviors
Historical aspects of doughnuts
Martin Luther’s impact
(Photos) British Press Photographer Awards

For your weekend entertainment, hooray for an early contribution from the Fab Four. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 335

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Hard to believe, but the previous edition of OITS was on July 14th! I’m overdue!!!!

Fiona, Cincinnati’s favorite baby hippo, continues to do well. Besides being a media darling, Graeter’s (one of the best ice creams on the planet) made a limited-edition flavor in her (Fiona’s) honor: Chunky Chunky Hippo – a toffee ice cream base containing salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles. YUM! Meanwhile, click here to see the Fiona updates from the zoo with some great pictures. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

This summer was a tough golf season for me because I could establish any consistency – especially in the weekly golf league. Then again, how my opponent plays also influences the outcome. Somehow I qualified for the final 4. I didn’t play well in the semi-finals, but my opponent couldn’t close the deal – so I hung around to win on the last hole. Off to the finals I went where I cruised to victory!

September always brings a change in my routine. Volunteering and handbells get started and working into my schedule of ballroom dance, working part-time at the golf course, ushering at plays, and whatever else comes our way. One handbell piece we are working on may be the hardest yet for us – so it will be interesting to see we (the choir) can get it ready to perform.

There are many things to get riled up about in the world, and statues of Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War is not one of them for me.

Thumbs up to two totally different movies: Dunkirk and The Big Sick. Our first play of the season was a theater version of Shakespeare in Love. (Remember the movie?) … another thumbs up.

For those who enjoyed this post about doors earlier this week, do you remember similar posts involving many pictures of Italy?

Instead of displaying the Pause button, I probably won’t be posting for a week … but I did state probably.

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Put me in the group that doesn’t get my shorts in a knot over what First Lady Melania Trump is wearing.

Some partisans have described Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with the Russians as treason. In true partisan fashion, many of the partisan ears latch onto the word. Is collusion a better description? Maybe – we don’t know enough yet. Is stupid a suitable descriptor? Unquestionably! .. but treason? Nope. See Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

I’m all for the Russian Investigation around the Trump administration and campaign. Where I differ from many is that I want one thorough investigation – and then so be it. Therefore not a continual investigation because one didn’t find what they wanted (as the Republicans did with 7(?) investigations with Benghazi).

I love this line from a recent Kathleen Parker column: “…. the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.”

As I continue to hear Hillary Clinton say various excuses for losing the election, she continues to focus on blaming others. It seems running a lousy campaign, failing to focus on the issues, and trying to be who she isn’t (just like McCain & Romney did in playing to the base) … all recipes for failure.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a short explanation how the brain responds to advertising.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Hellmann’s introduces new meat-on-the-bottom mayo cups
Mosquito confronts partner after testing positive for Zika
God falling under influence of powerful spiritual guru
Millions of policy proposals spill into the sea as think tank runs around
Aroma of cleaning product closest thing man’s had to fruit in weeks

Interesting Reads
Creationism and culture wars
Facts & information: How people deal with them
Churchill and Dunkirk
Religion’s reaction to alien contact
Art by a gay Chinese farmer
Blogger Debra’s visit to the city along the Adriatic of my birth
(Photos) Train graveyard

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a song from years ago that many will enjoy. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.