Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Did you know that President Obama is Black?

On Sundays in the Dallas Morning News, there is a section called, “Sounding Off”, that has brief comments by those who live in the Dallas area about a particular topic. The topic is chosen by one of the Dallas Morning News editors, and those of us that are contributors to the Sounding Off section get an email from the editor whenever he is interested in getting our opinions about a given topic.

Today, I got an email requesting two or three sentences about the topic, “What is the great untold story about your community in 2009 and how would it surprise people?”

I actually didn’t quite answer that exact question, but here is what I did submit:

“One great story in 2009 is how easy it has been for us to accept a Black president. I, and many people I know, disagree with many of President Obama’s policies, but his race hasn’t ever come up in my discussions with others. We are getting closer to Rev. Martin Luther King’s vision of judging a person for who they are rather than by the color of their skin.”

This is pretty cool actually. Obviously, there are still bigots out there, but there have to be fewer now than there were, say, 30 years ago. When Kennedy ran for president in 1960, many people thought he couldn’t get elected because he was Catholic.

I would like for us to take this one step further. When discussing policies that affect us, let’s not bring up any labels that serve to divide us. For instance, for a particular policy, does it really matter if the person who is giving their opinion is a conservative or a liberal, a leftist or a rightist, or a Republican or a Democrat?

It’s not that those things don’t matter, but they have nothing to do with whether their thinking about a particular policy is something that you may or may not agree with. In other words, it is best to judge someone’s policy ideas based upon your principles and not about irrelevancies such as the person’s skin color or political affiliation. This is much less divisive, and tends to keep a discussion based upon the merit of the ideas presented.

For instance, consider these policy positions that I have:

1) I think that the private use of drugs by adults ought not to be illegal. (I’m not advocating that people take drugs, I’m just advocating that they not be illegal).

2) I think abortion is almost always bad, but don’t think it should be illegal.

3) I think that we should have the strongest military in the world.

4) I think that we should bring our troops home from all foreign countries.

5) I think having nuclear weapons has been a tremendous deterrent to war, and it would foolish to get rid of all of them.

6) I think that the evidence shows that the Earth is warming slightly but that we have little evidence as to how much humanity is contributing to it. Furthermore, limiting carbon dioxide emissions will have a negligible effect on however much global warming is occurring. (If the Earth does start warming to an unacceptable extent, there are much cheaper and more effective ways of dealing with it).

7) I think that one of best ways to increase the prosperity of Americans and eventually the world is to build lots of nuclear power plants. We would shortly have clean, safe and inexpensive energy, and would have time to properly develop other sources of energy, such as solar power.

I didn’t bring these ideas up here to convince anyone about them, but rather to show how some of them would be considered conservative, some liberal, etc. It doesn’t matter to me what labels a person gives them, and I don’t consider any such labels when thinking about my positions. I only consider my principles. Isn’t that a good thing?


Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Government Job Creation and My Bad Math Skills

Someone tell me if I’m doing the math wrong.

In the 12/3/2009 business section of the Dallas Morning News, there’s an article about a White House summit to create jobs. The good news is that, according to the article, President Obama “returned last week from Asia vowing a renewed emphasis on the role of free trade in job creation.” He’s doing this in a number of ways, including attempting to get better free-trade pacts with Asian countries. And there are other things he wants to do to increase our exports, all of which are good. The article also claims that nearly one-fourth of the manufacturing jobs in Texas depend on exports, so clearly this would be helpful to Texas.

This all makes me happy.

How has the government been doing so far in creating jobs? The article says that unemployment is at 10.2%, “despite the $787 billion stimulus package. The White House argues that the stimulus has created or saved about 1 million jobs, but more must be done. “

Here’s where I need your math help. When I divided $787 billion by $1 million in my head (where is my calculator when I need one?), I get $787,000 spent in stimulus funds per job created or saved.

Obviously, my math skills are diminishing, along with those of the climatologists who can’t understand why their climate models aren’t making correct predictions. Maybe it’s a world-wide phenomenon caused by too much of that extremely-toxic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In the unlikely event that my math is correct, how many jobs do you think that you could create with $787,000? I’ll bet it’s more than one.

No, I’m sure my math is wrong. I just wish I knew where.


Your Math-Impaired Blogger


Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.


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