Monday, February 29, 2016

Trump is an Awful Person - That's Why I'm Voting For Him

Donald Trump is a loathsome, offensive, brute.

He's unfit to be elected to be a small town dogcatcher, let alone to the highest office in the country.

And yet, I can't wait to vote for him.

I should clarify here that I am opposed to everything Trump stands for, from his policies to his demeanor to his arrogance and everything else about him. I don't think all Mexicans are rapists and drug users. I think John McCain, whatever you think of his politics, is an American hero who deserves to be saluted an honored for his service. I think the idea that we need a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to be absurd and it's even more crazy to think Mexico would pay for it.

I think a total ban on Muslims entering the country is among the dumbest things ever proposed by a serious candidate for President. I find his treatment of women to be offensive. And while I don't find his lack of belief in the Christian God to be offensive, I find his pandering and attempts to make it look like he does to be completely unconvincing.

And yet, come Super Tuesday, I'm going to stroll in to my local precinct, request a Republican ballot, and proudly cast my vote for Trump to be the Republican nominee and standard bearer for the Grand Old Party.

A Trump presidency would be a disaster. I know this and you likely know this too. And so do nearly 60 percent of Americans who have a negative favorability rating of Trump.

So why would I want to vote for him?

Because it's not only about the presidency. A Trump candidacy would be an unmitigated disaster for rank and file Republicans, who by and large can't believe Trump  has gotten this far and also can't or won't find a way to stop him for fear of alienating his supporters who they need to win in November. But those supporters, as many as there are, aren't enough to carry him to victory in November.

A Trump nomination forces Republicans to either vote for Trump, who opposes key platforms that the Republican establishment holds dear, vote for the Democratic nominee (which, for those who place party before country, they would never do), vote third party, or stay home. Most of what I've seen suggests that voters would stay home rather than vote for Trump. (And you don't have to stay home guys, go out, have dinner and support the local economy).

But staying home has the added benefit of reducing Republican voter turnout for key Senate races for those senators who were elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, thus increasing the chances of Democrats taking the seat and possibly flipping control of the Senate away from Republican control. And there lies the beauty of voting for Trump. It won't change one thing about my state. Georgia is going to vote Republican in the November election for president. It's highly likely that a Republican is going to win the senate seat in Georgia. But other states aren't nearly as certain, and Trump at the top of the ticket hurts down-ballot candidates by depressing Republican voter turnout.

Having said all that, I'm well aware and constantly push the idea that my vote doesn't matter. Not that democracy isn't a great idea, but statistically, my one vote out of hundreds of thousands cast won't make any statistical or actual difference. But since I live in a state that pretty solidly Republican, doesn't it make sense for me to cast my vote in that primary so I can at least have a voice in who will represent me?

Despite that fact, I'm looking forward for the chance to vote for Trump on Tuesday so I can vote against him in November. After all, isn't the whole point of elections to vote for what you want to happen in the future?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sports and Politics Do Mix

Welcome back to 'I Didn't Inhale' the political talk show tacking the most important issues of the day as filtered through sports talk radio.

Those of you tuning in for the first time, I'm your host, Bill Graham.

Our first topic, the Democratic Caucuses in Nevada saw Hillary Clinton secure the win over rival Bernie Sanders, giving her two wins in the last three contests and seeming giving her momentum. Let's turn to our panel.

(Robert A. Johnson): I think the real question here is did Hillary win or did Bernie lose? Hillary may have played just well enough to win, but I'm not sure it was her best game. Bernie, meanwhile, seemed to throw the game away. He basically gave up in Las Vegas, showed no heart and no hustle. What was he doing out there?

(Charles "Chuck" Smith): What are you talking about? Of course Hillary won this matchup. Not only that, Hillary just knows how to win. The experience in the 2008 championship against Barak Obama was a learning experience for her. She took that and now she just knows how to win. She wanted it more than Sanders and that's why she came out on top.

(Johnson) Chuck, you have never been more wrong in your life, and that includes the time you got behind Santorum for his run. If Hillary knew how to win, she's be president now instead of running for president. Bernie picked the wrong time to play his worst game. We saw what he can do in New Hampshire and he nearly won Iowa. We're a couple of votes away from this series being entirely different.

(Smith) Robert, it's clear Hillary just wanted it more. You can say all you want about Sanders not playing well or focusing too much on rural Nevadans, but the fact is, Hillary just wanted it more and that's why she won.

(Graham) Ok guys, we're going to have to leave it there for now. Next topic, what did you see from each candidate? Chuck, we'll start with you.

(Smith) The biggest thing to take away from Nevada is just how clutch Clinton is. She bounced back from a tough loss and when the series was on the line, she came up big. Big time players make big time plays and that's what we saw from Hillary this weekend. I think the real question is can we consider Bernie an elite candidate?

(Johnson) Oh come on, of course Bernie is elite. In the last eight years, only three people have won a state in the Democratic party, Obama, Clinton and Bernie. To say he's not elite is just absurd.

(Smith) I mean, he won his neighboring state to where he's a senator. He basically won his home game. That doesn't scream elite to me. He's got to show me more if he's going to be an elite he's got do a lot more than what he's done so far. To me, it's preposterous, calling Bernie elite and things of that nature. Quite frankly, there's only one elite candidate and that's Hillary.

(Johnson) Are you insane? Bernie has Clinton running scared. Elite candidates don't run scared.

(Graham) That's all the time we have for today. Tune in next time we when take a look at the Republican field here on I Didn't Inhale.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Passing of a Facebook Friend

We were Facebook friends, but I didn't know her well. She was an undergraduate student working in the campus recreation center where I was doing my Graduate Assistantship. We were probably at the same parties and we ran in to each other enough at work that we became friends online, but I'm not sure I could tell you anything about her life.

I don't know what she majored in or even where she was from. I don't even know what she did for a career. Every now and again she's show up in my news feed and I'd think, "oh yeah, her" before scrolling on to see what the next person posted so I could go "oh yeah, him," like we all do when we're reading Facebook.

But yesterday morning, I found out this woman who I barely knew and who probably wouldn't recognize me if I walked past her died suddenly.

Now, as happens in our digital age, my news feed was full of remembrances of this caring, sweet, beautiful woman. Real friends (not the Facebook kind like me) expressed their grief, sympathy, shock, prayers and every other emotion that accompanies the loss of a life so young.

All day, as more and more people learned of this young woman's passing, pictures of some party or work event or just dinner were posted. Friends shared memories of the good times while at the same time still trying to process the overwhelming grief they were feeling.
They're left to grapple with trying to understand something that has no answer. Why a woman so young and so loved would suddenly be gone. Each of her friends and family will come to their own answers that ultimately may be unsatisfying, but hopefully will bring each some measure of comfort as they try to remember her.

Ultimately, however, we all have to deal with both the best and worst part of life - it goes on. In times of grief and sorrow when we don't feel like we can face it anymore, life goes on. In times of joy and peace and calming when we never want the moment to end, life goes on. It is to be experienced uniquely in our own way for whatever time we have.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Debate Thoughts

I didn't watch the Democratic debate last night.* I haven't watched any of them so far. I also haven't watched any of the Republican ones. Life's too short for me to watch people argue about politics. If that's your thing, cool, but it's not mine.

But like most things, I'm following it online. From what I can tell, Henry Kissinger showed up and crashed the debate, which was probably some compelling television for those watching.

Despite not watching, I do have a general debate theory for those who do watch. You ready for it?

If you ask a person before the debate which candidate they are supporting, that candidate will always be declared the winner after the debate. This doesn't hold true every time. I know several people who supported Obama in 2012 who said he lost the first debate with Romney. But by and large, it's a pretty good rule of thumb. Confirmation Bias is a hell of a drug and one we all struggle with.

*For those keeping track, this is the second post this week I've started out by telling you what I didn't watch. Maybe one day I'll write about what I actually do watch.

And now links to end your week with:

The One Thing the NFL Will Never Do To Make Football Safer - Short answer, take away the pads.

How the Presidential Campaign Looks Through the Eyes of a Foreign Journalist - Kind of like it does to me, very strange.

The Wow Factor - The story behind how the Rams, and not the Chargers or Raiders, got to move to Los Angeles.

The Cruel, Unrelenting, Back-Breaking, Knee-Busting Anti-Logic of the NBA Schedule - In this, it says NBA travels more than MLB players, which at first didn't make sense as the NBA has 41 road games and MLB has 81. But MLB teams play 3-4 game series before traveling, so it's more like 27 road trips, not 41. Anyway, the story is about the effect of the NBA's crazy travel schedule and its effect on play on the court.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

That's just cruel, man.

Frontline had an episode the other night on the rise of Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS. I, unfortunately, haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but this being the internet and all, that's not going to stop me from writing about it.

Ok, that's not completely true. I should probably mention what DFS is for those who either don't know or have managed to block out the commercials that were everywhere this fall. DFS is a one day fantasy sports game where you pick players and based on how they perform that day, you get so many points. Whoever has the most points wins. Oh, and you wager on it so there's the potential to win or, more often, lose money.

But like I said, I haven't watched yet, but that didn't stop me from following along on Twitter during the show. And one tweet in particular stuck out to me.

One producer for Frontline watched all the different commercials for DFS. He or she spent 10 hours a day watching. 50 hours a week.

Since September.

I'm not sure which level of hell having to watch DFS commercials all day is in Dante's Inferno, but it's going to be in there. I really hope that person was able to get the help they need. Oddly, I also hope they kept track of ever promo code word listed as I'd like to see that list.

So I'll be watching that sometime soon (hopefully tonight.) If you didn't DVR it, it's on I'm sure.

On to the links:

Bullying was Christ Christie's trump card, before Trump got into the race - On the decline and fall of Christie's campaign for president. 

Step by Step on a Desperate Trek by Migrants Through Mexico - A look at the challenges and difficulties faced by migrants trying to even get to the U.S. border.

Stop Calling the Babylonians Scientists - An article that raises the question of what is science and what is understanding.

Thanks, as always for reading.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Dog is Only Happy When I Leave

So a lot has happened since my previous post last Friday. The Super Bowl and halftime show. (For what it's worth, Twitter during the halftime show is my favorite 20 minutes of twitter for the entire year.) There was the New Hampshire primary elections last night that saw Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders get big wins.

But I want to talk about my dog today. We adopted Wrigley about three years after my wife and I got married. She's a beagle mix (with what, we're not sure as we rescued her) that is just about the perfect dog for us. At this point, she's about 11 years old and while she doesn't have the energy she used to, we don't either, so it works out well. She's gotten to the point that she doesn't even like to go for walks with me anymore because apparently the two miles I go is too far for her.

But unlike most dogs who are super excited to see their owners when they come home, Wrigley doesn't even acknowledge when I walk in the door. No greetings, no excitement, no "I'm glad you're home now let me out."

Instead, I she's excited when I leave.

She used to get very anxious when we would go to work in the mornings, so we would give her a rawhide bone to chew on to work off that anxiety and keep her from chewing up my son's stuffed animals (RIP Lion). But that got expensive, so we switched to giving her a dog treat before we left. Understandably, this was exciting for her. And it happened day after day.

And now, anytime I look like I'm going to leave, she runs to the pantry expecting a treat. So if I'm going to the mailbox to get the mail, she thinks it's treat time. If I'm just going to the garage to put something away, she thinks it's treat time.

Basically, she now believes me leaving is cause for a celebration, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

On to the links:

We Are Hopelessly Hooked - The average person checks their phone every 4.3 minutes. That seems like a lot. I mean, who does ..... ohhhh, twitter notification, be right back.

Stick to Sports? Never! - Craig Calcaterra with a look at where sports writing is heading and why that's a good thing.

The Enduring Solidarity of Whiteness - Black Poverty is fundamentally distinct from White Poverty - And so cannot be addressed without grappling with racism.

Why is the NFL Giving More Super Bowl Ad Time to its Favorite Sham Domestic-Violence Group - Remember that Super Bowl ad for No More? This article takes a look at what the charity actually does.

Is Solitary Confinement Torture? -  More and more, I feel like the answer is yes.

Roger Goodell Defends the Indefensible - Sally Jenkins takes the NFL commissioner to task for his comments on the risks of football. 

Hang Up and Listen podcast - Ok, so not an article, and I'm not even recommending you listen to the whole thing, but from the 55:40 mark to the 1:00:30 mark, Stefan Fatsis discusses an article in which high school football coaches are asked what they'd say to parents of kids who want to play football but are concerned with concussions and brain injuries. Some not-safe-for-work language, but close your office door for five minutes and you'll be fine.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Always the Last to Know

The Super Bowl is this weekend. Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning. Carolina vs. Denver. You won't be able to miss it and even if you don't watch, if you show up to work on Monday or visit anywhere on the internet, you'll be able to find out who won. It'll be impossible to avoid.

Which is why I love that every year there is a contest to try to be the last person in America not to know who won the game. It's called the Last Man and it's played entirely for pride. It's done on the honor system and players self-report their "deaths" in the game. It seems awesome and fun and I'd last about two seconds.

If you decide to play, good luck and I'm sorry I won't be hearing from you until you find out.

Also, for what it's worth, my prediction is Carolina 31, Denver 10.

On to the links:

Prehistoric Mystery Meat: It's What's for Dinner - Legend has it Wolly Mammoth meat was served a the 1951 Explorers Club Dinner. An investigation to find out if it was or not.

Wife Crashes Her Own Funeral, Horrifying Her Husband, Who had Paid to Have Her Killed - I think the headline pretty well describes what happened here.

'Concussion' Film Inspires High School Football Star to Reject College Scholarships - If this becomes a trend, the NFL will eventually feel the effects. Granted, a lot of kids who want to go to college may not have any other choice.

NFL Donations to Brain Research Benefits League-Linked Doctors - If the NFL is trying to influence the outcome of studies, then they really don't care about the dangers and are only trying to prevent stories like the previous one from happening.

Obama, Thomas Jefferson and the Fascinating History of Founding Fathers Defending Muslim Rights - With President Obama speaking at a Mosque this week, a good story on the history of defending the rights of Muslims in this country.

Willie Wood Mad the Most Memorable Play of Super Bowl I. He Has No Recollection - Sad story of a man many cheered for.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Is there a Book Club for Articles

So you may have guessed by the number of articles I try to post, I read a lot. But as I've mentioned, I don't read a lot of books and mostly save articles to the app Pocket where I do most of my reading.

Well, earlier this week I got an email that makes me feel better about not reading books (not great, mind you, as I know I need to read more books, but better.)

According to the email from Pocket, I read roughly 2.5 million words on the App last year, which using whatever metric they use, equates to 52 books, or one a week.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than to try to justify to myself that I don't take the time or have the discipline to read more long-form writing (even the long articles I read wouldn't be more than a chapter in a book.)

Now that I've complained about reading articles instead of books, here are some articles I've read that I liked.

Ken Stabler, a Magnetic NFL Star, was Sapped of a Spirit by a Disease of the Brain -  On the same day thousands of high school football players signed scholarship offers, we were reminded of the toll the game takes on players.

After Racist Episodes, Blunt Discussions on Campus - A look at the University of Missouri's efforts to talk about race and difficulties surrounding even having the discussion. 

What O.J. Simpson Taught Me About Being Black - Life experiences play a large part in our perception of the world.

An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Liberals Who Love Him - A critique of Coates call for reparations and his criticism of the Bernie Sanders' campaign not to make them a part of his agenda.

The goodbye:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

National Signing Day

Today is National Signing Day. If you don't know what that means, that's probably a good thing. First off, no, it's not a day to promote American Sign Language, though that would be a good thing as being able to communicate with those who sign is a good thing.

Instead, it's a day when high school athletes are allowed to sign their national letter of intent to play football at the college of their choice. Sure, it's framed as perusing their education at this school or that, but fans of teams don't obsessively follow the decisions of these high school kids because they actually care about their education.

Schools aren't sending the Chair of the chemistry department or the best history professor to recruit these soon-to-be college students. Coaches of the teams are going, and in the case of Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, actually sleeping over at the kid's house, which if you even stop and think for a second about that, is just creepy and weird.

"Jim, honey, were are you going tonight?"

"Sweetheart, love you and we've been married for 23 years, but there's this kid who runs a 4.3 40 and has excellent athleticism, so I'm going to spend the night at his house."

"Ok babe, just get some milk on your way home."

I understand fans obsession with the next recruiting class and finding out about who they'll be cheering for in the Fall, but I don't get it. But if that's your thing, you do you.

And now the most interesting articles I've read since my last post:

Dead Certanity: How 'Making a Murderer' Goes Wrong - Spoilers included, but a look at the case from outside the lens of the filmmakers and where it goes wrong.

Meet One of the 12 People Who Voted For Jim Gilmore - Sure, Trump, Cruz, Rubio and the others got the attention, but Jim Gilmore had 12 people show up to vote for him Monday night. Twelve. In the entire state of Iowa.

The Electability Spin Machine - The news media need a story, and election results last for a night, but meeting or not meeting expectations - expectations set by the same news media - is a story that can be debated for days.

Owners Are Worried About Tanking - MLB owners appear to be worried that teams are acting based on the incentives they themselves set up.

L. Jon Wertheim - Former Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman does a weekly Q&A with people from all walks of life. They're usually pretty good, but I found this one with current Sports Illustrated editor Jon Wertheim to be really well done.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Suvival Skills

Every so often I think about what would happen if I ended up in some kind of post-apocalyptic hellscape and was forced to use only the skills I have to survive. I quickly realize I'd have to join up with some other people into a roving band of survivors hoping to eek out an existence while we hope to rebuild society.

And while that may help me for a short while, eventually our little group would realize that I don't have a lot of skills to aid in survival. I'm not especially handy with my hands and don't have a lot of useful knowledge. I check out youtube for even the most basic home repairs. I don't hunt, don't really cook, and I know the concept behind starting a fire without a match, I couldn't do it myself.

Eventually I settle on the fact that I'd be a bard, a storyteller. But you know what groups of people struggling for survival don't need? Someone to sit around the fire someone else started and telling stories. While I'd hope the group wouldn't outright murder me, I do get the feeling I might just wake up one morning and my group would have abandoned me because in post-apocalyptic hellscapes, storytellers aren't overly useful.

Basically, what I'm asking here is that if there's some kind of world catastrophic event, please take me with you.


So I managed to spend most of the weekend offline. It was a gorgeous weekend so I was outside a lot and then visiting with family so only two links for you, and one of them is actually something I wrote.

Local Archer to Compete Overseas - A Georgia Southern junior is competing in the World Indoor Archery Team for the United States in Turkey. I was privileged to interview her and the story ran this weekend.

An Oral History of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - I was in my first grade when the shuttle exploded. I'd read more about it as I got older, but this is a really well done story from the people who lived and experienced the tragedy.