Debate #2 Thoughts

A few quick thoughts on the second debate:

  • Obama did much better this round than last. I would call the debate a draw.
  • I liked the town hall format and thought the audience asked some excellent questions. Unfortunately, both candidates consistently failed to give a straight answer and instead responded to the question with a canned response on the general topic or used the time to bash his opponent.
  • It sure would have been nice to hear from some of the third-party candidates. No third-party candidate will ever have a chance without getting the parties’ ideas onto a national stage through inclusion in the debates…which is precisely why it doesn’t happen. My candidates, Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, got arrested at the debate site after being denied access.
  • Neither candidate’s tax proposal numbers add up. Romney proposes an across-the-board tax cut of 20 percent, offset by reduced deductions that he refuses to commit to. One new proposal for tonight was an end to taxes on capital gains and interest income for the middle class. At the same time, he wants to increase military spending, and has proposed no significant spending cuts besides repealing Obamacare. So he wants to reduce tax revenue while spending more money, and somehow this combination will balance the budget. Note that we are already running a deficit of about $1 trillion per year.
  • Obama’s numbers are better, but they don’t add up either. He proposes raising taxes on the wealthy. I support that. But his proposal won’t come close to eliminating the deficit, either.
  • How to improve this debate: 1) Cut off their mikes when their time is up. 2) Let the question-asker decide whether each candidate actually answered the question and award extra time for the next question accordingly. 3) Attach a shock collar to each candidate. Let the moderator pull the trigger when either one goes off topic.
  • Repeat after me: Presidents do not control the economy or the price of oil. Influence? Somewhat. But control? Not even close.

Blog Stew 9/27/2012

Hmm…Blog Stew…I think I’ll make that a new category for my random thought posts. Sounds tasty! Blog stew is great for those days when I don’t have the idea, time, or motivation to write a long, thoughtful post on a specific topic. Those do take a lot of work, and no matter the topic, it’s sure to only interest some of you. It’s much easier to throw a bunch of different things together in the old Crock Pot and let it simmer. I hope you will find a few interesting morsels.

  • Don’t get too excited yet since we haven’t played any big-time schools, but so far the nation’s top college quarterback in total offense per game attends a little school in Waco, Texas. Sic ’em, Nick Florence!
  • Today will be my final long run (13.1 miles) before the 25k in Tyler on October 13. This will only be the second time in my life I’ve ever attempted this distance, the other being the Cowtown half marathon back in February. But my legs feel great, and I’m excited to get out there this afternoon. Next week I’ll taper, or cut back on mileage to rest up for the race.
  • You Obama-haters can rejoice…briefly. I’m strongly leaning toward going Green with Dr. Jill Stein. I like many things about Obama and will be happy if he wins in November, but he’s also done some things I don’t like and broken some important promises (not closing Guantanamo Bay, not punishing the business execs who nearly destroyed our economy, keeping troops in Afghanistan when victory is impossible, etc.). I don’t agree with Stein on everything, but she and the Green Party seem to have the platform that the Democrats don’t have the guts to pursue, largely because the Greens don’t have corporate sponsors. Unfortunately, that also means they have very little chance of winning anything, much less the Presidency. Romney will carry Texas regardless of how I vote, and Obama will probably get reelected regardless of how I vote, so maybe I’ll just use my ballot to dream big.
  • The pilot-management standoff at American is interesting but sad to watch. I read a comment from one AA pilot that the slowdown isn’t exactly an organized, concerted effort to destroy the operation. It’s more a matter of being extra careful to protect their jobs. Until the judge tossed out their contract a couple of weeks ago, that contract backed them up in the event of an small deviation from the hundreds of company procedures they have to follow when flying the plane. The company can now fire them at will for any mistake they make. I’d be a little more careful, too. Is the pilot’s statement true? I’m not sure, but it made some sense to me. However, with so much anger over there, I’m sure that some of them don’t mind making their employer look bad. I hope both sides can work out a deal soon. And I’m still very grateful to work where I work.
  • You know my son Brenden doesn’t feel well when you have to drag him out of bed in the morning. He is definitely a morning person.
  • Jenny has been accepted at UTA and will start classes there in January. She did awesome on her nursing school entrance test as expected. The only question now is when she’ll be able to take her remaining UTA-specific nursing prerequisites. She meets with a nursing advisor next week who should be able to help.
  • I know it was unnecessary and expensive and irresponsible and all that, but my iPad is awesome. I use it more than my phone or laptop. Blogging on it is a bit more difficult compared to a laptop or desktop since it doesn’t have a separate keyboard or mouse, but it’s easier to carry around than the laptop and has a 4G Internet connection.

Thank you, come again.

Thoughts on the Election

Here are a few thoughts on the upcoming election. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince you to Goooooooobama. I know most of you don’t like him, which is fine, and nothing I could say would change your mind. These are just some of the things bouncing around in my head.


  • I’m actually undecided in my vote for President. Green Party candidate Jill Stein might win my vote instead, but I’m not completely happy with either candidate. It’s time to study their positions more closely.

  • A popular question right now is,“Am I better off now than I was four years ago?” For me and my family, the answer is a definite yes. Since September 2008, we’ve bought and refinanced a house, we’ve been blessed with another beautiful little boy, my income is higher, my wife has identified her second career and returned to college, my company is doing well, my job security is higher, and overall we’re doing great. However, I don’t credit Obama or anyone else in the government for those improvements. Instead, I credit my company, our own choices, my union, and God. On the other hand, I know many people would answer that question with an emphatic NO because they’ve been laid off, lost loved ones, lost homes, lost wages, or experienced other troubles. Does the government deserve blame for those things? Maybe in some cases, but it’s a huge stretch to blame every problem on the government. Many aspects of our life, particularly our economy, are mostly outside the government’s control, contrary to popular opinion. People who haven’t studied economics tend to give the government, and particularly the President, far too much credit for their ability to direct the economy.

  • I still don’t understand why the two parties are so polarized. It’s the independent voters, the people in the middle, who decide every election. Digging in on extreme positions only produces gridlock, alienates the moderates and the other side, and prevents anything from getting done. Both sides have some good ideas that we need to move forward. The American people elect and pay the members of Congress to pass legislation to make our country better. When Congress is gridlocked, it fails in its duties.

  • There are two different ways to vote: 1) Which candidate will be better for me personally?, or 2) Which candidate will be better for our society overall? When it comes to large elections like this year’s, I choose option 2. I expect myself and my family to have a good life regardless of who is in charge. But I generally vote blue because the Democratic party seems more focused on the collective good, largely through fighting for those who are not in power – the poor, the gay community, minorities, the middle class, women. Survival of the Fittest is not the best way to structure our society.

  • I love that the Dems finally included marriage equality in their 2012 platform. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and growing acceptance of gays in society, the gay community is better off than it was four years ago.
  • My biggest fear related to this election is that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed in January. Does ACA affect me? Not really, not right now. I have great insurance through my employer. But it has already helped many other people, and most of the provisions won’t kick in for a few more years. Among other things, ACA limits health care companies’ ability to do evil, such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Children with pre-existing conditions are already protected by ACA. Adults will gain protection in 2014. If Romney wins and the Republicans retake the Senate, all of those benefits and restrictions will disappear. No, ACA isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s a huge step forward, and I don’t see a comprehensive alternative plan from the other side.
  • It’s interesting that neither of the main candidates nor their VPs are Protestant. Obama is United Church of Christ (which is MUCH different from the Church of Christ you find in Texas). Romney is Mormon. Both VPs are Catholic, albeit with very different political views.

  • I admire Paul Ryan for one thing: making some gutsy, difficult choices in his budget. I disagree with many of his decisions, and find it difficult to respect him after he was caught lying about his marathon time (really????), but at least he’s thinking and willing to go bold. We need leaders with courage.

  • One of the big debates is whether to raise taxes on people who make more than $250,000/year. It seems odd that so many conservatives oppose this idea. Most of them don’t make that much, so it doesn’t affect them either way. If Jenny and I ever reach that level of income, we won’t mind paying more in taxes. OK, we might mind a little, but we’ll have so much free cash flow by that point that it won’t really matter. Many people in that income bracket, including multibillionaire Warren Buffett, feel the same way.

  • Like another writer whose name escapes me, I wonder if the presidential election is truly neck-and-neck like they say, or whether the media just wants us to think so. A close race increases interest, and ratings, and revenue. I guess we’ll find out in November.

  • If Obama wins, I predict John Kerry will be our next Secretary of State after Hillary retires. He was the first Democrat I ever voted for. I picked him over W for one main reason: he wanted to end the war in Iraq.

  • If you ever want a lesson in spin, listen to how the two parties can interpret the same information differently. Consider employment stats. The Dems claim that the economy added 4.5 million jobs since Obama took office. If you measure it right, that’s true, and sounds good for Obama. The Republicans point out that the total number of people working in America is at its lowest point in 30 years, which is also true, and sounds bad for Obama. No wonder my poor wife hates politics. Politicians are trying to take very complex issues and reduce them into sound bites that will make the news, even though those sound bites cannot possibly convey the nuances of any given issue.

Enough from me. What are your thoughts on this year’s election? Do you plan to vote? Are you excited, apathetic, or scared? Are you hiding in a closet until it’s over so you don’t have to listen to it?

Junior Statesman

Yesterday was the Texas primary election. I was intrigued by one of the candidates for U.S. Senate, Sean Hubbard. I’ll bet most of my readers never even heard of him because they’re either Republicans or non-Texans. I tip my hat to him for one main reason: he’s 31 years old and ran for one of the highest offices in our land.

Sure, most of you probably disagree with Hubbard’s views on the issues, and that’s fine. His views aren’t the point today. I like seeing someone my age, barely even legal to hold the office per the Constitution, running for Senate and trying to make a difference. Lots of people my age find politics distasteful, and with good reason. Also, many people my age are very busy with advancing their careers, getting married, raising children, trying to get out of debt, going back to school, buying houses, and other 20- and 30-something activities rather than running for office. Those are all great things, but they mean most of our political leaders in Washington are significantly older than I am. My parents’ generation obviously has much more experience in life, work, family, and other areas, and it includes many good leaders. However, I want to see a broad range of perspectives represented in Washington, and I applaud Hubbard for wanting to provide a fresh voice from my generation.

Hubbard took a lot of heat for his age and lack of political experience. Most of our Senators are middle-aged or old white men, and Hubbard was missing one of the three keys to the job. During the campaign, so many people asked about his age and experience that he developed a canned response that was actually quite convincing, at least to me. But I can see their point. Experience is helpful for any position, especially for U.S. Senator. When the votes were tallied, the voters sent a clear message that Hubbard wasn’t quite ready for the job, putting him in last place. However, he got his name out there, and I suspect and hope that we might see him again on a ballot someday.

Thoughts for 5/9/2012

Look, I threw in a picture! It’s not my picture, but I liked it and stole it from the Interwebs.

Lots of thoughts today, but none big enough to put into its own post (for now). So here are some things to chew on:

  • I am disappointed but not surprised by the victory for Amendment One in North Carolina, which enshrines a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution. However, I am hopeful that if the Supreme Court decides to rule on the issue of gay marriage within a year or two, laws like Amendment One and California’s Prop 8 will be ruled unconstitutional, effectively authorizing gay marriage throughout the country. If Obama is re-elected, I think he’ll fully support gay marriage in his second term. He can’t do it right now because it would cost him some crucial independent votes.
  • During my run, I found a guy letting his dog take a dump in his neighbor’s yard. He walked off like nothing had happened. Nope, not today, jerk. When I got close, I asked if he had a bag. Looking embarrassed, he muttered something and turned back. I kept running, so I’m not sure whether he actually cleaned it up or not. I should have asked him where his house was so I could go take a dump in his yard.
  • Dear clowns who call in bomb threats for flights (if any of them happen to follow all you’re doing is wasting everyone’s time and delaying flights. Real bombers probably don’t bother to call.
  • I’m running about 20 miles a week now and plan to roughly maintain that level through the summer, although not setting any speed records due to the heat. I’m generally doing 6 miles on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, and 10-11 on Saturday. If I run-walk and hydrate enough, which is means a LOT of water for me because I sweat like a soaker hose, I can handle the heat OK even on a long run. I just got a new style of knee brace, a compression sleeve that covers my whole patella, and I’m liking it so far. I might get another one for my other knee. That way I can be symmetrical, and there will be joy.
  • With the possibility of our first family trip to Disney World looming next year, I’ve started thinking about booking flights. I haven’t bought a real airline ticket in 15 years, so it’s a bit odd to think about flights like a normal customer rather than a nonrev. I’m most concerned about price and departure/arrival time and mostly unconcerned with the number of people onboard. It’s completely backwards! Also, it turns out that flying is pretty expensive. Fortunately, I should have enough Rapid Rewards points to get at least three of our tickets, maybe even all four.
  • I am tired of hearing people mention factors like race and sexual orientation in casual conversation when those qualities have zero relevance to the story they’re telling. If it matters to your story that a person is black or gay or Mexican or mentally retarded or whatever, then by all means include it. Otherwise, he’s just “a guy”, not “a black guy”. When you toss in irrelevant information, you’re simply revealing your prejudice toward those people.
  • One of my Facebook buddies is the community pastor at my church. I thought she seemed cool, so I friended her on Facebook. Our main connection is running. Until we raced together last month, I’d never held a real conversation with her in person. Our interaction had solely come through Facebook and an occasional “hi” at church. These are some of the strange types of relationships that social media makes possible.
  • I write one check per month. It goes to my boys’ preschool. I pay everything else online or automatically via my credit card. Checks are not my friend. Unless, of course, someone wants to give one to me. Then they are great.
  • Have I mentioned lately how glad I am not to be famous? No interviews, no paparrazzi, no public scandals, no pressure to please millions of diverse people. It’s also kinda nice not to be rich, either. Being a millionaire would change me somehow, and maybe not for the better. Plus I don’t have to worry about sycophants and thieves who want things from me.


About a week ago, one of my favorite bloggers posted a simple, snarky, but significant comment:

“Wow, that picture you shared on Facebook just convinced me to change my religious / political affiliation, said no one ever.” – Rachel Held Evans

Its sentiment had been lurking in the shadows of my mind for quite some time, but I kept smacking it with a newspaper and telling it to shut up. No crusader wants to hear that his war is fought in vain. But let’s be honest – how much of an impact do all my links, pictures, comments, and blog posts actually make?

The answer was easy once I thought about my own habits on Facebook. I pay attention to the people who post things that interest me. Funny stuff is my favorite, followed by interesting news about your life, informative or offbeat articles, and cartoons/articles that fit with my political/religious worldview. I generally don’t watch your videos (too long) or look at your pictures unless they involve my children. If you’re generally negative, rude, or whiney or post lots of political, religious, or other stuff that I disagree with, I hide your posts. I figure many of you do the same. We’re not going to save the world through social media.

Most of us gravitate toward people, articles, and posts that confirm our beliefs and ignore the ones that contradict them.

Scholars call this tendency confirmation bias. We’ve already made up our minds on most issues, whether we’ve chosen a side or simply chosen to be neutral and not worry about it. The status quo is so much easier than carefully considering an opposing view. Let’s be honest – wrestling with something takes time and effort and risk. Changing our minds requires the unpleasant step of admitting, even if only to ourselves, that we were wrong.

I could write the most eloquent blog post in history, or share the most concise and powerful cartoon ever designed, trying to convince you of some position I hold. But unless you’re actively seeking to study that issue, you’ll probably either ignore my post or read it with a closed mind. If it made you mad enough, you might hide all my posts, quit following my blog, or even unfriend me. Despite all my talk about being open-minded, I do the same thing.

Photo Source: No Hope for the Human Race on Facebook

So…I shall attempt to piss off slightly fewer people in the days ahead, particularly on Facebook. I will still explore some controversial issues here on the blog, but I’ll be doing it more for my own amusement and/or as food for thought for my readers rather than an effort to change your minds.