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16 Things I Learned in 2016, Part 2 - Page 2

2016 may be well behind us now, but it's not too late to look back and take a few lessons away from such an eventful year. For me, 2016 was relatively peaceful on the homefront, with life as a homeowner, parent, and writer settled into a comforting routine. Of course, things weren't so serene when it comes to the political landscape of what may go down in history as one of the craziest American presidential election years. With that in mind, here are sixteen lessons I've learned, some personal, some general. As it is such a big list, I'm separating it into two parts.


#13. I'm More Conflicted on Abortion
The debate rages on
#13. I'm More Conflicted on Abortion
The debate rages on

When shady videos dropped in mid-2015 from the Center for Medical Progress allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials in various positions of power admitting to the practice of selling aborted baby parts for profit, I was, in my own words, "pretty adamantly pro-choice." What slowly altered my perspective was not the videos themselves--they're circumstantial evidence of some wrongdoing at best--but the overwhelmingly extreme reactions from both sides of the abortion debate. People on the left leapt to the defense of Planned Parenthood with fervor, accused the Center for Medical Progress of fraud, and refused to find anything even remotely troubling about the videos. Meanwhile, people on the right decried Planned Parenthood as an evil baby-killing factory that needs to not only be defunded but prosecuted into non-existence. Ultimately, I found both sides terribly unconvincing by their sheer unwillingness to embrace reality, and when the issue came to its climax last year--when Carly Fiorina made dubious statements at a presidential debate--I found myself more concerned with the visceral than the theoretical. As 2016 fades into memory, I must admit that I am now neither pro-choice nor pro-life. I say a pox on both your houses until you can let go of your intransigence and find compromise. There is no simple answer here, and I'm sick and tired of both sides acting as though it's black and white.


#14. The FBI is Asleep at the Wheel
Guard sleeping at FBI HQ
#14. The FBI is Asleep at the Wheel
Guard sleeping at FBI HQ

By now, we should all be aware of the pattern. A psychopath kills a bunch of people, and as the dust settles, we learn the murderer had been on the FBI's radar for a long time. Sometimes, the FBI may have even interrogated the person long before the rampage, but decided to release him as harmless. It's happened again and again, and 2016 saw perhaps the grossest example of this negligence in Omar Mateen, a man the FBI brought in three times, was warned about multiple times (including once by Walt Disney World, for crying out loud), and who was not considered dangerous enough to be on any kind of watch list before he walked into a nightclub in Orlando and killed nearly fifty people. This strikes me as unforgivably inept. Add to that the laughable James Comey announcement that, even though the FBI could spent fifteen minutes outlining the dozens of ways Hillary Clinton is guilty of federal crimes that would be prosecutable for most of us, the FBI is not going to recommend prosecution because, for some odd reason, provable intent is now a legal standard for people with the last name "Clinton." I don't want to insult the many competent men and women working hard to ensure my safety and security, but really, what the hell is going on over at the FBI? All I'm seeing is incompetence and corruption.


#15. Warehouse Stores are Worth It
Sam's Club
#15. Warehouse Stores are Worth It
Sam's Club

Ten gallon jugs of mayonnaise aside, I've come to grips with walking into a members-only warehouse store and buying certain things in bulk. Heck, the gas prices alone are worth it. For years, I associated such shopping with hoarders, enormous families, and my difficult grandmother. That, and yeah, the friggin mayonnaise. My wife and I have spent years trying to figure out how to shave our grocery budget, and I've gone down many domestic roads I never thought I would--from coupons to sale catalogues--but it wasn't until 2016 when I finally broke down and agreed to go to a warehouse store. It's harder to quantify the savings than you'd think--and it's all too easy to get carried away and wind up with literal tons of things you don't need--but I am absolutely certain that it's better for my relatively small family to go to the warehouse, at least occasionally.


#16. My Son Knows Circuits
Snap Circuits
#16. My Son Knows Circuits
Snap Circuits

If you were to ask my eight-year-old son what he wants to be when he grows up, he'll tell you he wants to be an "electrical engineerer." His uncanny math skills make this seem reasonable, but in just a few short years, he has far exceeded my knowledge when it comes to circuitry. He started small--with Snap Circuits® toys that teach the basics--but he's moved on to advanced logic gate construction. Though it's limited at the moment to virtual circuits in video games like Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet 3, I have no doubt that he could reasonably construct a working circuit in the real world. That's just amazing, because it's something I could never do, no matter how many times he tries to explain the difference between a NOT gate and a NOR gate to me.



So that's it: 2016 in a nutshell. It was a crazy year--especially for politics--but I'm not going to get in a bunker and freak out about it. I'm going to take what I learned, remember the good stuff, and look forward to 2017!

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-e. magill 1/26/2017

MORE LIKE THIS:
  • 16 Things I Learned in 2016, Part 1
  • 15 Things I Learned in 2015
  • 14 Things I Learned in 2014



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