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Line, Line, Everywhere a Line   Leave a comment

Today, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on the constitutionality of gerrymandering.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, for states with more than one seat in the US House of Representatives, state legislatures get to draw the lines for districts.  In many states, the lines get drawn in very bizarre ways with the intention of favoring the political party that controls that state’s legislature.  This is how the Republican Party was able to win 24.2% more seats than the Democratic Party despite only winning 1.1% more actual votes nationwide.  Republican states certainly aren’t the only ones doing the gerrymandering, though.  The Democratic-dominated Illinois legislature drew up this district:

illinois

Here’s an outside the box that would eliminate the difficult question of when the ‘creativity’ of drawing lines has gone too far: eliminate districts entirely.  For any state with more than one seat in the US House, the candidates are voted for statewide, rather than individually by district.  Take my home state of Indiana and its nine seats for example.  Instead of splitting the state’s voters into nine separate groups, each choosing among candidates ‘living’ in their district (more on that word ‘living’ later), all voters in the state would select one of a party’s slate of nine candidates: the Democratic slate, Republican slate, Libertarian slate, or any other party that wanted to field a slate.  The number of seats allotted to each party would be determined by the percentage of votes each slate won nationwide.

Again using Indiana as an example, in 2016 the combined vote of the nine Congressional districts was 54.28% Republican, 39.61% Democrat and 6.12% Libertarian.  Due to the way the districts were drawn, the Republicans actually won 7 seats and the Democrats only 2.  The statewide method would have given the Republicans 5 seats and the Democrats 4 seats. The Libertarians would have very narrowly missed winning one of the seats that went to the Democrats.  With nine candidates on the ballot together instead of separated by district, each party would have to have a priority order to their candidates, meaning that the top five of nine Republican candidates and top four of nine Democratic candidates get seats.  Presumably the candidates would be ranked based on their vote totals from the primary elections.

Two benefits to this method:

The first is that state delegations would better reflect each state.  54 percent of the vote would no longer get you 78 percent of the seats.  Also, Libertarians and other third parties would start getting seats.  No individual Libertarian got close to enough votes to win a seat in any district anywhere in the US, but the party did get 1.3% nationwide and enough votes to win a seat or two in a few states by the statewide method.  Also, knowing that the statewide method would provide a lower threshold for winning seats might encourage more voters to vote for third parties, which in turn (hopefully) would make the two major parties more accountable to the voters.

The second is that the statewide method would reduce, if not eliminate, the process of carpetbagging.  Carpetbagging is when a person moves to a place that (s)he has never lived in previously, purely for the purpose of establishing residency in order to run for office in that location.  As a purely hypothetical example, in 2016 the US House member for my district, Todd Young, decided to give up his House seat to run for Senate.  This created a rare open seat in a Republican leaning district.  A Republican who wanted to run for Congress but lived in a district with a popular incumbent Republican Congressman, such as the 3rd district in Tennessee, might have to wait a while for a seat to open up.  Instead, (s)he could simply move to Indiana’s 9th district a few months before the primary election to establish residency, and then run to represent that district in Congress.  With the statewide method, such a person is much less likely to get elected and possibly deterred from even trying.

So, what do you think of my idea?  What are the downsides to such a method?

 

Posted June 19, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

What a Fool Believes (on His Anniversary)   Leave a comment

“She had a place in his life.
He never made her think twice.”
-Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

 Aside from being from a double Grammy-winning song for the Doobie Brothers, the line above perfectly describes the first 28½ years of my life.  I was the absolute king of the Friend Zone long before the term was ever invented.  I lost count of the number of times that I fell very hard for a woman who was never, ever going to see me as more than a friend.

 Then, after returning from a work trip to Colorado in July 2002, I sent an introductory e-mail over an internet dating website not unlike many others I’d sent.  This one changed my life forever, entirely for the better.  Less than ten months later, I was married, and it didn’t at all seem too fast.

 Now, back to the opening quote.  I picked it not only because of its relevance to my life, but because while I love Michael McDonald’s music, my wife absolutely hates it, and that is one of those things that helps me realize that there really are no true soulmates in this world.  You are married to or are going to be married to someone who has at least one aspect of life that doesn’t click with you.

 I strongly believe that only a very small percentage of marriages fail because of “marrying the wrong person” or because “one/both partners changed from who they were when they married.”  Certainly there are people who are in relationships where they suffer physical, emotional or financial abuse and they really do need to get out, but I truly feel that loving someone enough to make marriage work is not something that just happens but is something you have to consciously choose to do and to make a priority over everything else.  I could really go on for several pages on that thought alone but instead I will say that if that statement intrigues you, I urge you to check out either one of several books with that theme or a professional counselor

 I believe that there are far too many of us who are giving up on marriages that shouldn’t be ending, and there are consequences for making that decision, and if you have children those consequences can last their entire lives.  I don’t want to sound judgmental, but in the majority of cases, divorce is the easy and selfish choice. I realize that for many, their spouse has made the decision to end the marriage and they are left with no choice, but for those who still have that choice I urge you think about it a lot (and pray about it a lot if that’s something you do) before deciding to end things.  Regardless of what the government, your church and your own personal beliefs say about divorce, I think we can all agree that a high divorce rate is a major contributor to societal problems.  I want to encourage you to exhaust all other options before making this decision.

 I want to conclude by saying that by having this view on marriage, or by having managed to stay married for 14 years, I’m not any more righteous than those who have had marriages end in divorce.  I think because I had such a hard time getting to the relationship stage early in life, I developed an appreciation for how hard it is to accomplish and that has highly motivated me to do whatever necessary to avoid having to do it again.

 If this post has engaged your thoughts, I encourage you to comment on it. If this post has engaged your emotions, I encourage you to share it.

Posted May 17, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

Oxmoor Mazda Complaint   4 comments

You’ve heard all the old stereotypes about used car salesmen–pushy, annoying, manipulative, dishonest, etc.  However, I thought in this day and age that this was more or less a thing of the past.  I had made three used car purchases, from three different dealerships, over the past seven years and all three had been really pleasant experiences to which I would attribute none of the aforementioned negative stereotypes.

Then I had the massive displeasure of making a used car purchase at Oxmoor Mazda in Louisville this past Friday.  My goal in writing this blog post is to hope that you will do at least one of these two things: 1) find somewhere other than Oxmoor Mazda to make your next car purchase and 2) regardless of where you make your next car purchase, read about and learn from my experience.

The price on the car I was purchasing was fair enough but I felt that I was lowballed quite a bit on their offer on my trade-in.  I did manage to negotiate back up a bit on the trade-in value but it was still a few hundred dollars what I felt it was worth.

Still, after finally agreeing to a deal, I had in hand an amount to be financed, a finance rate and length of loan.  Now, I happen to hold two math degrees, but you really don’t need to have a math degree, or even a college degree to calculate what your monthly payments should be.  Just Google “loan payment calculator” and pick any one of several websites that will do the same calculation for you.  Just put in the amount financed, the rate and length of loan to get your monthly payment.  I urge you as strongly as I possibly can to do this as soon as you have agreed to terms with the salesperson but BEFORE meeting with the finance person.

So here’s where things fell apart.  Before signing any papers, the finance person tries to sell you one or both of two things, gap insurance and an extended warranty.  Maybe there are specific circumstances where these things make sense but I’ve never found them to be worth any value.  I get him to give up on the gap insurance pretty quickly, but he insists on quoting me what my monthly payments would be with the extended warranty.  This figure is nearly $50/month more that what I know my payment would be without it.  Now I ask him a question that, unbeknownst to him, I already know the answer to: “What is my monthly payment without the extended warranty?”  He now flat-out lies to me and quotes me a monthly payment that is still about $20 above what it is supposed to be.  Once I point out to him that I know what the payment should be and it’s not what he quoted me, he digs his hole deeper.  He claims that he’s just reading a number of a computer screen and doesn’t know why my number doesn’t match his.  He offers a way to discount the extended warranty so that my payment will match the figure he just quoted me a minute ago as being the payment without the extended warranty.  I persist in wanting to know why the monthly payment without the warranty was so high and he responded, “My job is to make sure that you leave here satisfied, so if you want that to be your monthly payment I’ll make it that and [sales staff] will have to eat the difference.”  That was flat-out lie #2.  Nobody was taking any kind of a loss due to me getting the monthly payment that it was supposed to be in the first place.  Perhaps somebody was not receiving a gain that he thought he was going to be able to get, but nobody lost anything.

The paperwork finally got printed out with the correct dollar figures in all places, and I did end up signing and leaving with my purchase.  However, on Saturday I became increasingly angry about how I was treated and called the manager to complain.  He wouldn’t admit that I had been lied to, but apologized that “I felt lied to.”  He stated over and over that he wanted me to feel like I had a satisfactory experience, but really didn’t offer anything that overcame the experience that their finance guy put me through.  The only thing really that is going to make me feel like I had a satisfactory experience is to share it in a blog post in hopes that others will either not go there at all or at least be ready for what they are going to experience if they do.

If you had a very negative experience at a car dealership, please share in the comments.

Posted February 13, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Customer Service, Uncategorized

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Beat the Blogger: 2016-17 Bowls   Leave a comment

I haven’t posted my bowl picks in a while, but I still make them every year, and I’m still not nearly as bad at them as I am at my basketball picks.  Here are my confidence picks for the 2016-17 bowls:

GRAMBLING STATE 42
TEMPLE 41
TULSA 40
MISSISSIPPI STATE 39
BOISE STATE 38
COLORADO STATE 37
NEW MEXICO 36
BRIGHAM YOUNG 35
WASHINGTON STATE 34
TROY 33
OLD DOMINION 32
NAVY 31
WESTERN KENTUCKY 30
MIDDLE TENNESSEE 29
NORTH TEXAS 28
APPALACHIAN STATE 27
MARYLAND 26
CENTRAL FLORIDA 25
HOUSTON 24
VANDERBILT 23
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 22
AIR FORCE 21
SOUTH FLORIDA 20
UTAH 19
PITTSBURGH 18
STANFORD 17
WISCONSIN 16
MICHIGAN 15
GEORGIA TECH 14
COLORADO 13
OKLAHOMA 12
SOUTHERN CAL 11
GEORGIA 10
TEXAS A&M 9
VIRGINIA TECH 8
WEST VIRGINIA 7
LOUISVILLE 6
NEBRASKA 5
IOWA 4
ALABAMA (SEMIFINAL) 3
OHIO STATE (SEMIFINAL) 2
OHIO STATE (FINAL) 1

Posted December 7, 2016 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

How to NOT End Up Here Again   Leave a comment

Full disclosure up front:  I voted for Gary Johnson.  Like the majority of Americans, I found both of the major party candidates unfit to be President.  Unlike the majority of Americans, I refused to decide to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”  My conscience wouldn’t allow me to vote for either and I don’t care that my candidate had “no chance to win” and that all my vote did was “help someone else win” (which in my state at least, wasn’t true–Trump won Indiana by a much larger total than the 3rd party vote could have made up).

There is plenty of good analysis you can get from plenty of sources about the general election, but I want to use my strong point–math–to add a take you probably haven’t heard yet.  If you subscribe to the conventional wisdom that a Democratic candidate other than Hillary Clinton would have beaten Donald Trump, and that a Republican candidate “less evil” than Donald Trump also would have beaten Hillary Clinton, likely by a larger margin, then please note this:

There were 126,247,767 votes cast for President in the November 8 general election (most updated totals I could find as of Thursday evening).   Between January and June, 24.5% of them voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in a Presidential Primary or Caucus.  Yes, that’s right, less than a quarter of the voters of the general election were responsible for providing the rest of us these two choices.  Another 24.4% actually tried to provide the country with a different alternative by voting for Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich or one of the other candidates in their party’s Primary/Caucus.  If you’ve already done the math, you know that over half of the people who cast a vote in Tuesday’s Presidential election didn’t even bother to weigh in on who they thought should be one of the two major party candidates.

If you are someone who is very upset that Donald Trump is going to be President, you may have some anger toward people who voted for him.  I’m not going to pass any judgment on that, but I am going to suggest that all the people who didn’t bother to come out to vote in January-June to try and get us better candidates deserve just as much of your anger.  An awful lot of people sat around and let others decide that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should be our choices.

So let’s do this better in 2020.  Vote in a Primary/Caucus.  Encourage your family and friends to vote as well.  Don’t let less than a quarter of voters decide in the Spring on the two that the rest of us get as choices in the Fall.

If you liked this post, please share it, and set yourself a reminder to share it again in early 2020.  If you disagree, leave a comment.  I always welcome discussion.

Posted November 10, 2016 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

Something for Democrats and Republicans to Consider   Leave a comment

Somehow, our nation has managed to nominate two of the most repulsive, dishonest, unethical and borderline criminal people to be the major party candidates for President.  Despite this, polling suggests that about 84% of registered voters intend to vote for one of the two on November 8.

I do understand the basic argument.  “Even though (s)he is terrible, I’m voting for him/her because the other one is worse, so much worse that I can’t risk voting for a third party candidate and causing the worse one to win.

I’m not going to try to change your opinion on which one you think is worse.  I am, however, going to present an argument that it may not be a bad thing if the one you think is worse actually wins, and why that makes it OK to consider voting for a third party.

Either a President Clinton or a President Trump is going to be one of the most, if not the most unpopular President ever.  Very few of the things they want to do that you consider terrible will have any chance of getting past Congress.  On top of that, the President’s massive popularity will almost certainly create a massive swing in the House and Senate toward the other party, and re-election in 2020 seems incredibly unlikely.

So, as unpalatable as the immediate future might seem, Democrats/Liberals do much better in the long run if Hillary Clinton loses this election and Republicans/Conservatives do much better in the long run if Donald Trump loses this election.  This line of thinking is already out there among both conservatives and liberals.  In other words, whoever wins this battle is going to lose the war, or, to use a sports analogy, you don’t want to end up like the Cubs where things look great now but are destined to end badly down the road. [I may only have a couple weeks left to make jokes at the Cubs’ expense–I need to get in as many as I can now.]

Keep this in mind anybody tries to tell you that a vote for a third party candidate is dangerous because it might mean the other side wins.  It’s not the end of the world if the other side wins and in the long run it actually turns out better.  Plus, if enough of us decide to subscribe to this theory and vote for a third party candidate, then neither of them win which is what most of us are secretly hoping for anyway.

Posted October 13, 2016 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

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It’s Been a Busy Seven Months   Leave a comment

Not that there are a lot of you out there who have really missed my blog posts (I average less than 100 hits per post), but I haven’t posted because it’s been a very busy seven months for me

Since getting a house into a sellable condition while living in it with two kids under ten is pretty much impossible, we had to buy our new house and move to it before putting our old house on the market.  That led to a very stressful period of owning two houses with two house payments, plus not being able to fully furnish our new house until the sale on the old house closed.

Things have finally settled down, and I hope to get back to writing more regularly.  All the changes that have gone on have reminded me to update my About page, which hadn’t been updated since I first started the blog.

Posted October 13, 2016 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

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