Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

A friend of my mine called me up and asked if I had time to talk.  I didn’t, but he was a close friend, so I said sure.  My friend begins the conversation with, “What do you think about this implicit bias bull shit?”  I laughed, and we began what ended up being a 20 minute conversation about politics, black lives matter, racism, and implicit bias.  All while four kids ran around me like chickens with their heads cut off doing various tasks and getting ready for homework, bed time, or snacking.  Here is the punch line:  My friend ended the conversation with, “You know what?  That makes sense.  You should write a book.”  My friend is white.

At work, I had lunch with a colleague/friend.  As we were talking, I said to her, “I don’t have time for nuance, so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be blunt.  I have a six-year-old daughter.  Why is it so wrong that I don’t want her to share a bathroom with a person with a penis?”  She smiled, and it began a 30 minute conversation about North Carolina’s HB2 law, trans genders, Charlotte, NC and evidence for and against the repeal of HB2.  My friend used to be my student, and after the conversation I thought to myself, “I just got schooled by a former student.  How cool is that?”  My friend is black and lesbian.

Several weeks ago, I had an awesome conversation with a police officer.  I posted this brief story on Facebook at the time.  The amount of information I learned about police procedures and police/public interactions was enlightening.  I am fairly confident that if I had questions about police shootings, which unfortunately have been prominently displayed in the news in the past year, he would talk to me and answer just about any question I had.  And I am confident, the conversation could be messy, but illuminating.  I consider him a new friend.  He is a police officer and white.

Shouldn’t conversations like these happen everywhere and with everyone?  Are they happening?  Or are people just shouting across the aisle doing drive by politics on Facebook?  Facebook has turned into the virtual equivalent of guy on a street corner with a sign that reads, “You’re going to Hell! or Save the Whales!”  And then you get your dopamine rush when you get all the likes to your declarative, useless generalized statement.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy posts of varying opinions.  I especially enjoy it when someone provides a link to an article or provides their own personal insight to something they read or saw on TV.  I despise the name calling. And I could do without general statements that have no meaning or provide zero context.  Context is everything.

When I was in college, I lived in a co-op in Berkeley, CA.  Co-ops where cheap because they were run by the tenants, very socialist.  Anyhoo, there was talk of creating an African-American co-op.  I was interviewed by the newspaper on the topic.  The next day as I walked through the halls, I got evil looks from every black person I walked by.  Finally, I said to my roommate, “Is it me, or is every black person giving me the evil eye today?”  His response was, “Didn’t you read the newspaper?”  I found a paper and saw my quote.  To this day, I don’t remember the quote, but I do remember that the sentences before it and after it were not quoted in the paper, changing the meaning of the sentence entirely.  I spent the rest of the day talking to every black person in the co-op explaining my quote and the missing context.  Context is everything, but who has time to understand the full story?  Everyone should, or at least entertain the possibility that they may be missing something, but who’s got time for that?

I guess my point is that I am thankful for the friends, both past and present, that are able to fill the gaps in my knowledge on a variety of different topics.  What do you do for that?  Is your friend circle as diverse as mine?  I mean at the end of the day, isn’t this the true value of diversity?  I can’t even imagine how you grow as a human being without diverse people in your life, both culturally, spiritually, and intellectually.  I can’t force the melting pot, but this is why I am against being a separatist.  I love learning and growing through the sometimes uncomfortable conversations with people of differing opinions.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Look across the aisle and ask the simple question, “Why do they believe what they do?”  Heck, ask yourself, “Why do I believe what I do?”  You might be surprised at what you find out about other people and yourself.  A big thanks to my diverse friends, for keeping me honest, stretching me in countless ways, and challenging me to not always accept the status quo of my beliefs.  I am a better person for it.  So, ask yourself, what’s in your wallet? (roll credits).
————————————————
This happen today.  A student waiting in the hall just outside my office was talking to another student about their classes.  He proceeded to tell the other student about a paper he had to write in his class, Animal Physiology (my class).  He hated the fact that the professor (me) forced the students to go the Writing Center before turning in their final paper.  He than admitted it would likely make his paper better, but didn’t like it.  I had to stifle an outburst of laughter.  College students are like five-year-olds that make a butt load of noise to construct their tower of chairs to reach the cookie jar and are surprised when you catch them with their hand in the cookie jar.  What?  Sound travels?  Really?
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So, it has been a while, but I am back.  I would like to dedicate this blog to my buddy, Corey, who I miss more than he will ever know.  He is not dead, just lives far away and I rarely see him.

Anyhoo, I have been sitting on my 100th blog for a long time.  Maybe because it is the 100th and I have applied too much pressure to it being great, but as my friend Doug in California told me recently, the 100th episode is not always the best episode, it is just the 100th episode.  So, to Doug, for getting me re-energized to blog, and to Corey, for pissing me off enough to sit down and write this blog immediately.

I recently posted on Facebook that I am fortunate to have both conservative and liberal friends.  I also posted that they often say the exact same things about the same issues.  Both sides think their votes don’t matter.  Both sides think the other side uses unfair or unscrupulous actions to get their way in congress or senate.  Both sides think they represent the people.  Both sides think they are right.  In response to my Facebook commentary, my buddy Corey writes to me (in private) “As an intelligent man with a wide range of accomplishments both personal and professional, you are a leader.  I know you and I do not agree on everything, but society needs you to get off the sidelines.”

Those are strong words to speak to another person, aren’t they?  And I love him for it.  Don’t we all need people to push us?  Don’t we need those in our lives to encourage, nay, dare us to be better people?  We sit back and drop political/religious/opinion ideological bombs on Facebook, and then just walk away.  What is the point?  Maybe I have been on the sidelines too long.  Maybe it is time to take some action against the drive by ideologue shootings that are taking place everywhere I look.  Maybe it is time for me to lead a group of people to something better.  But how?

I am not really sure.  But unfortunately, I think my friend is right, I need to get off the sidelines.  I have so many thoughts in my head that I feel like it will explode sometimes.  I think that is why I enjoyed blogging so much.  I say enjoyed, in past tense, because I have been going through some things over the last year, but I need to move on, or continue in the direction I know I need to go.  My life has always been driven at being the best, being wise, being kind, and most importantly, improving myself.  It is time I get back to those main goals.  That is why Corey pisses me off so much, and why I love him so much.  He is the guy I can have hard conversations with and the guy that can tell me when I am full of sh*t.  He is not the only guy in my life like that, but one of very few.

So, what does this mean?  For now, it means I have finally written my 100th blog.  It may mean that I get my opinions out there more often, but hopefully in a way that affects change.  As I stated before, I have so many thoughts:  Parents need to parent.  Discussions need to continue among all walks of life.  Global climate change IS happening.  Taxes are NOT always bad.  Taxes are NOT always good.  If you were to write down the mandates of the Bible, it would NOT include pushing for government abortion laws.  God is good, but we are NOT.

Oh yeah, and one last thing, Corey can suck it!

————————————————————
My friends and I used to have lots of discussion about random things while in high school. I was reminded of one such discussion by my friend Doug from California. If 7-Eleven is open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, then why do they have locks on their doors? I’m just sayin’ …

Read Full Post »

So, it is finally over.  Two and half million people voted and governor, Scott Walker becomes the first governor to survive a recall.  Fifty-three percent of the vote goes to Walker.  Walker raised over 30 million dollars to win.  Barrett only raised 4 million.  You know what?  How many programs could have been saved with 34 million dollars?  It is ridiculous.  Don’t raise my taxes, but I will give you $500,000 so that you can win a campaign.  The world has gone crazy.

Do you realize that you can’t win a major political office without money?  Also, why does no one have a problem with the inherent conflict of interest?  Governor Scott Walker received over $500,000 from Diane Hendricks of Beloit, Wisconsin.  Are you telling me that he is not obliged to keep her happy?  At least a little?  I am not blaming Walker for this, I am blaming the system.  I want to be President of the United States, and I think I would make a damn good one, but I can’t.  I do not have the money, nor the connections to money to make it happen.

I am glad the recall is over.  As I wrote in a previous blog, I was against the recall.  We are still a divided state, heck a divided country, but I think there needs to be more stringent guidelines for recalls beyond disagreement.  Besides, I am not convinced that Tom Barrett would have done a better job.  There, I said it.

PS – I did vote, but not for whom you might think.

——————————————————————————————————

A couple of days ago, my five-year-old son and my wife were admiring their respective uvulas.  As a matter of fact, they called me over to ask what that “punching bag” at the back of the mouth was called.  I told them it was their uvula.  I am hoping that my son will refer to this object using the correct term, rather than “the penis hanging down from inside mommy’s mouth”.  True story.  And I have no more to say on the matter.  I’m just sayin’ …

Read Full Post »

—This blog is dedicated to the newlyweds, Rob and Rick.  Thanks for letting me publish this blog.—

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, I was at a wedding in New York.  My buddy, Rob got married to his long time partner, Rick.  It was my first gay wedding.  I thought about hiding that fact till the end of the blog and even giving the blog a different title.  I would have started the blog talking about my friend’s wedding, describing all the details of the ceremony, and then ending with, oh by the way, the wedding had two grooms.  I had it all mapped out, and of course it was brilliant.  However, I have decided to go a different direction.  I don’t want to bury the headline, but lead off with it, and talk about issue head on.

As it was my first gay wedding, I wondered what would be different about it.  For example, will one groom wait at the front of the church, while the other one walked down the aisle?  If so, would the music begin and everyone stand up as the groom entered the church?  Would it be at a church? Would both grooms look alike, or would one stand out as different?  What would the pronouncement be?  Man and man?  Husband and husband?  Or just married?  What would the official and law binding statement be? (I did not learn the answer to this question until the next day)  And what would the reception be like?  I assumed there would be dancing.  I wouldn’t think two gay men could get married without dancing.  Regardless of your opinion about this subject, THAT would be wrong.  Would there be any flamboyantly gay men there?  Would there be at least one black gay guy?  Hopefully his name would be Longinus or DeVon, spelled DEE-VAWN.  And would I be disappointed if there weren’t at least one flamboyant gay person there?  Would there be a first dance?  And who gives away the groom?  Yes, I had a lot of questions, and every single one of them was answered.  First, a little background:

I met Rob in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  I knew him before he came out as a homosexual.  I was even aware of a few dates he went on with women.  I later learned that he was still in his “discovery” phase of knowing himself.  I would not say that I knew him well, during this phase.  Quite frankly, I don’t feel we truly became friends until he came out to me.  We were having lunch together, and he told met that he needed to tell me a story.  I don’t remember the story, not even a little bit, but I do remember that in order for the story to make sense, Rob had to be gay.  I also remember asking him why did he decide to tell me that he was gay.  And his response was, that fact was crucial to the story.  I said OK.  In my opinion, that was the first day of our friendship.  Since then, we have travelled across country together, we have camped together, we have roomed together at conferences, and we have made an effort to spend time together almost every year.  Leah and I have visited him and Rick in New York and it is an honor and a joy to be his friend.  So, last year, when he described his proposal to Rick and the upcoming wedding, there was no doubt in my mind that I (and if possible, Leah) would be there.  Unfortunately, Leah could not make it.  I am sure we will visit them later, as I am a much bigger fan of New York than I have ever been (more on this later).

Prior to leaving for the wedding, Leah had an interaction with a friend that surprised me.  Her friend made it clear that she was clearly against gay marriage.  She is religious, and knew that we are Christians and assumed that we would not attend the wedding.  Leah of course informed her that I was, and she would too if we could have worked it out.  Apparently, it turned into a heated discussion.  So much so they had to talk it out the next day to make sure that their friendship was not destroyed.  Luckily, it had not been.  But they clearly had run into the first topic where they must agree to disagree.  This concept of God and gay marriage fascinates me and lead to my biggest surprise about my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was surprisingly traditional.  It was held in a beautiful church.  The Episcopal priest did an excellent job.  Rob and Rick walked in together with their mothers.  That was the burning question on my mind at the start of the service.  Rick had purple shoes, which was really the only unique difference between the two.  I will say the shoes were fabulous.  I loved them.  Hymns were sung, prayers were given, and we received a short homily (sermon).  God was clearly invited to bless this union.  And this fascinated me.  Would anyone have been surprised if God was left out of this service?  You would not have to search long to find people who believe in God working very hard to prevent such unions.  It is a subject of great political debate.  Many people have held signs, protested, and fought to make it illegal for gay couples to get married legally.  And in most cases, the argument has been God’s decree that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman.  And yet, there I was, watching a man and a man get married, legally, with what I can only assume was no accident, a traditional, God-invited wedding.  Two people who could have actively rejected God and all He had to offer, actually inviting him to be present.

The subject of God even came up in the car as we drove to the reception.  It made me wonder if God was discussed in other cars as well.  It also made me wonder, what was a more positive message of God’s love, this wedding with two grooms, or the protests and opposition preached in churches across the land against gay marriage?

The mayor was at the wedding, which I thought was odd.  Later, I discovered that it was he that pronounced them legally married in the state of New York.  I think this had more to do with the church, but I am not exactly sure.  I meant to ask, but never got around to it.  (After Rob read this blog, he offered to tell me, but I have not talked with him other than texts prior to publishing this blog.  Sorry, it will have to remain a mystery to my readers until I call Rob) Possibly the Episcopal Church has not resolved their guidelines for gay marriage considering the new state law.  Oh, by the way, I am almost forgot; the mayor was wearing a kilt.  The church was called the Episcopal Church of St. Mary in the Highlands, which made me wonder if the whole town had major connections to the Church of England.  It does.  I also wondered if the mayor was wearing a kilt traditionally, i.e., going commando.  What I could say about a kilt, going commando and a gay wedding is just too much, so I will stop here.

After the service, we headed to the reception location.  It was at a very nice old house/inn.  Appetizers were ready immediately, which was nice, but almost too much food.  I had to monitor myself, as I would not have been hungry for dinner.  Also, the two best words in any wedding, “open bar”.  Dinner was nice, and it was fun to see friends that I have not seen since getting my PhD.  Also, there was a lot of dancing.  And of course, the required playing of “It’s Raining Men”.  Quite frankly, I would have been disappointed if I did not hear this song.  the funny thing is, this is the only song that guys did not jump on the dance floor first.  As a matter of fact, no one moved until a bunch of women jumped on to the dance floor and started dancing.  It was almost if the gay men in the audience felt that they did not want to be a stereotype.  I think it would be like me going to a buffet and avoiding the fried chicken until last.  It’s not that I don’t love fried chicken, I just don’t want to appear to be a stereotype.  And I certainly would not put watermelon and fried chicken on my plate at the same time.

There was only one flamboyantly gay person at the wedding, at least in my opinion.  He reminded me of Cam on Modern family or Nathan Lane’s character in The Birdcage.  No black gay guys (sad clown) and I don’t know if anyone was named Longinus.  The dancing was great, and quite frankly, the most dramatic dancer was the DJ.  An odd fellow, who was having a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun.  He clearly was dancing to the beat in his own head.  It brought me joy.

No throwing of bouquet or garter.  The group was divided into single men and women and the grooms threw books.  Not the best idea.  One woman got smacked in the head with a book.  I thought it was funny, but I also thought, this is why the traditional throwing of the book will never take off.

All in all, a great wedding.  I wish the best of luck to Rick and Rob.  I love you guys and may God Bless your marriage.  People may have a problem with this last statement, but that is their problem, not yours.  I also learned a very important lesson:  When I think about how people discuss homosexuals in politics and religion, it makes me understand why so many people are against the church.  After the wedding, it got me thinking, maybe a lot of people are rejecting God’s people and not God.

———————————————————————–

I spent a little bit of time exploring upstate New York.  Not really exploring as much as taking the long way back to the airport.  Here is what I learned:  New York is GORGEOUS!  I mean BEAUTIFUL.  I have been to New York several times, but never out of the city.  I had no idea.  This may be the most beautiful state I have ever seen.  This may be the biggest secret in the United States.  And I just told you.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, let me begin this blog by stating that I am not a fan of Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker.  However, I have not signed any recall petitions.  I am actually against the recall.  This is how it should work: You do your research, you decide who is the best candidate, and then you vote.  If your candidate loses, then you support whomever is in office (support and agreement are not the same thing) and you move on.  Will I vote in the recall election?  I haven’t decided.

If you voted for Scott Walker, and now you are upset, whose fault is that?  Did you do your research?  Or did you just vote party line?  Well then, you made your bed, now lie in it.  If you didn’t vote for Scott Walker, what is the basis of the recall?  Is it because you didn’t get your way?  Childish.  I do not like this precedent.  But then …

Less than two weeks ago, the Equal Pay Enforcement Act was repealed, signed by Scott Walker.  The purpose of the law was to provide anyone who has been discriminated against to plead their case in circuit court rather than federal.  It also provided stronger enforcement mechanisms for violations of pay and workplace discrimination.

I have no idea why anyone would be against mechanisms to help prevent employers from discrimination.  Between Wisconsin’s Castle Doctrine (We too had a recent shooting.  The castle law allowed the shooter to kill within the law.  The victim was also a young black man), concealed carry, loss of bargaining rights, major education funding cuts, and now the repeal of equal pay enforcement act, maybe the recall isn’t such a bad idea.
————
I don’t know if I’d call it a war on women, but it does appear as if the Republican party has shot a cannon across the bow.  I mean, it’s not like the War on Christmas (He wrote sarcastically).  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, I am sick and tired of bumper stickers.  At minimum they make me smile, and at worse they make me angry.  I especially hate political bumper stickers.  Why do people have these?  I don’t care that you are a Republican.  I don’t care that you believe in peace.  And why, for all that is Holy, do I need to know about your dog? Or kids?

I would love to have a bumper sticker that protests bumper stickers, but it would go against my hatred of bumper stickers.  I would love a voice recognition electronic message board on the back of my window.  Now that I would support.  Honking is too ambiguous, and giving someone the finger is just too aggressive and rude.  But what about a message board that flashed “Hey Ford Escort! If you are going to ride my ass, how about you buy me dinner first!”  Informative, with a little humor, I like it.

——————————————————————–

Actually I do support bumper stickers that show pride in one’s kids, but that is for the kids, and not the general public.  Unless it is a bumper sticker that states, “My kid beat up your honor roll kid”, and then it’s just another political statement, which I’m against.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, I hate to do this, I really do, but I have something to say.  First of all, I hate Fox News, but more on that later.  Unless you live under a rock, you may have noticed that Wisconsin has been in the news lately.  Now, if I were a supporter of conspiracy theories (which I am) I would say that the Governor Walker is trying to destroy unions to eliminate a powerful supporter of the democratic party.  And that he is trying to set precedent for other states to eliminate collective bargaining on his way to create a Republican Super Power or Empire and take away free will from the American people.  I would only say this if I was a conspiracy theorist (which I am).  Why else would he not accept the unions agreement to have employees do EVERYTHING in his bill, accept the loss of collective bargaining?  I’m just sayin.

Am I biased?  Of course I am.  Just the mere fact that I have a PhD, a democrat and an independent thinker makes me biased on this particular issue.  The whole thing is asinine.  Does that make me an elitist?  Probably, and I am OK with that.  Here are the facts:

January 2011 – Walker signs bill providing tax breaks for those with health savings accounts.  This is reduced state revenue, how will it be made up?

January 2011 – Walker signs bill giving tax breaks to businesses that relocate to Wisconsin in their first two years, and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011 and would lower state revenue by an estimated $1 million over two years.  Will this be made up by stimulating business? I don’t know.

Are these bills bad?  Depending on your perspective, but my issue is that he has spent the first month in office reducing state revenue and then proposes a bill that increases out-of-pocket expenses of a specific population of Wisconsin while simultaneously attempting to severely reduce collective bargaining.  Also, keep in mind, these cuts to pay proposed in this bill does not even scratch the over 3 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) deficit for the next budget cycle.

Finally, to why I hate Fox News.  On Fox News, it was stated that Wisconsin Union workers make “89,000 bucks” in salary ($51,000) and benefits ($38,000), while non-union workers make an average of $48,000 ($38K + $10K).  The next night they corrected their previous statement, by stating that it is really $81K for Wisconsin versus $66K for everyone else.

Firstly, I hate inaccurate news! (And no I am not saying that Fox is the only news source that gets things wrong.)  Because no one listens to/hears the correction.  It just fuels the stupid commercials I am seeing that somehow these union workers have gotten over on the system.

Secondly, the comparison is not that simple.  If you believe the first set of numbers (the incorrect ones) you would be inclined to think Wisconsin union employees are receiving an unfare advantage.  You might even think this with the accurate numbers, but even the real numbers would be misleading.  Why? Because education matters.

According to the US Census Bureau, 17% of Wisconsin residents (25 years and older) hold a bachelor’s degree.  A bachelor’s degree is required to be a teacher in Wisconsin.  So, the real question is, does a person with a bachelor’s degree in the public sector make more than the private sector equivalent.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, that answer is no.

So, like most political issues, many people are being misled by inaccuracies or national pundits comparing apples to oranges as they miss much of the crucial details that make comparisons have true meaning.  Now Walker may never raise taxes, which will make a lot of people happy, but when he cuts streams of state revinue (like taxbreaks) where is the money going to come from to cover that loss, if not taxes?  Wisconsin union workers will not have their taxes raised, but they will be paying more next year.  Is there a difference?Sorry for this political rant, but it had to be done.

——————————————-

Last week I was in Walmart and saw a HOT female employee.  Of course, the first thought had been “Is she really hot, or just ‘Walmart’ hot?”  See “Beauty is Relative” for more detailed explanation. But it got me thinking.  Is beauty really that much of an advantage in the work place.  THink about it.  Think about all the jobs that you would never ever want to have, for example, gas attendant, Walmart employee, fry cook, janitor, or garbage collector.  Now, don’t get me wrong, these jobs are important and if you work in one of these jobs, please forgive me for what I am about to say, but people with these jobs are never good-looking  (See?  Sorry).  You know this is true, because when you see a good-looking garbage collector it will seem weird to you.  The only explanation I could give for the Walmart employee being hot, assuming that she was indeed hot, was that she was foreign and just moved to the country.  That would be the only explanation that would make sense to me.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »