Sunday, November 30, 2008

Television hurts holiday season?

Thanksgiving was on Thursday, and I hope everybody got to spend time celebrating the holiday in a meaningful way.

It's hard to believe that another year is already winding down, but 2008 only has a little more than a month left.

As we observed Thanksgiving, we all should have taken some time to consider the parts of our life for which we are grateful. It's great to be an American, and the freedom we enjoy is just one of the many things for which we should feel gratitude.

However, it doesn't mean that we don't have challenges facing us.

The economy is slumping, and there seems to be a general sense of uneasiness in our land. This uneasiness is especially rammed home if a person spends a lot of time watching the many all-news channels that we have at our disposal.

Negativity and endless analysis of that negativity rule the day. At least, that is the way it seems to me.

Because of this negativity, an obvious question is: How much does this impact people?

Obviously, the media has a responsibility to report the news even if there is a lot of bad news right now. However, too much negativity must influence people in some way.

Consider this finding that was discovered as part of the General Social Survey, according to Yahoo! News.

According to that survey, people who identify themselves as unhappy people watch a lot more television than those who say they are happy.

The survey's findings showed that unhappy people watch 30 percent more television than happy folks. Unhappy people watch 25 hours of television per week compared to only 19 hours by happy people. The survey was of 30,000 Americans between 1975 and 2006.

The survey, however, did not determine whether unhappiness caused people to watch more television or if the actual viewing caused the unhappiness. It did state that happy people attended more religious services, voted more, and read newspapers more often than the unhappy television watchers.

I thought these findings were especially interesting because of the time of year we are in. Among other things, the holiday season is a time of togetherness when people spend extra time with family and friends.

However, a lot of people don't have access to family and friends. The void caused by this isolation and loneliness has to be filled some way, and it would be natural that television would help fill that void.

Perhaps the extent in which a person depends on television plays a role in personal happiness. While a person needs a certain amount of privacy, there is a fine line between enjoying privacy and being cut off from the world.

Television is one of the greatest inventions of the last 100 years, but like any invention, bad results can occur if it is overused. The entertainment it provides can be good, but if we overindulge we may find ourselves cut off from the very things we need to help our happiness.

As the results of this survey show, people who are happier tend to have a more well-rounded life that includes activities outside the home with less television watching.

Whether we care to admit it or not, we all need each other. Television may help some people temporarily escape the unhappiness they are feeling, but in the long run, it is them that will suffer the consequences of choosing television over interacting with others.

Don't make the mistake of falling into that trap.

It will only hurt you and others around you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all...

The Nightly Daily will be taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday and will return on Sunday, November 30.

I am thankful for all of you who read this blog. I enjoy doing it and hope that it brings a small amount of entertainment into your daily life.

Take care and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tennessee bids Fulmer farewell on Saturday against Kentucky

The phrase 'it's the end of an era' is an overused cliché, but it genuinely fits when the Tennessee Volunteers host Kentucky on Saturday. Of course, it is Phillip Fulmer's last game as Tennessee head coach. He has served the program well over the last 17 years, but his era is about to end.

Other than sending Fulmer out on a high note, there are other things that should motivate the Volunteers. Tennessee hasn't lost to Kentucky since 1984, and the end of that streak would put a dismal exclamation point on an already dismal season. Also, Tennessee is one of only two Division I teams (Ohio State is the other) to have never lost eight games in a season.

Kentucky is 6-5, but only 2-5 in SEC play. They have played stout defense in most games, but Vanderbilt scored 31 against them in their last game two weeks ago. Also, Florida laid 63 on them earlier in the season, but the Gators have been doing that to everybody lately.

Against Vanderbilt last Saturday, Tennessee played four quarterbacks and passed for only 21 yards. That is astonishing. If Tennessee can find a way to score 20 points, then the Vols will win. I just don't think that will happen.

The pick: Kentucky 17 Tennessee 12

Other SEC games: Georgia over Georgia Tech, Florida over Florida State, Clemson over South Carolina, Wake Forest over Vanderbilt, LSU over Arkansas, Alabama over Auburn, Ole Miss over Mississippi State

Last week: 1-3 (.250), Overall: 65-23 (.739)

Titans look to get back on track against Lions

I don't think anybody expected the Tennessee Titans to go unbeaten this season. However, the loss to the Jets last Sunday was troublesome. The Jets dominated the game. The Titans' defense couldn't get off the field, and the offense couldn't find any consistency until it was too late. Even though it was a bad performance, the Titans still maintain a three-game divisional lead.

Of course, on Thursday, the Titans play at Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Lions are clearly the worst team in the league with a woeful 0-11 record. However, I'm a little concerned about the Titans emotional state. After getting whipped by the Jets, they only have four days to prepare for the Lions. Plus, I don't see them being that motivated about having to play on a holiday against a lousy team.

However, they are the better team. So, I'm going to roll with them.

The pick: Tennessee 28 Detroit 21

Other picks: Indianapolis over Cleveland, Houston over Jacksonville, Dallas over Seattle, New York Jets over Denver, New England over Pittsburgh

Last week: 2-4 (.333), Overall: 45-26 (.634)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sports unite and divide

Americans love entertainment. There are thousands of activities that can be defined as entertainment, and one of those is sports.

Our country is saturated with sports. This time of year, football dominates the sporting landscape. A person can watch a game on television almost every night of the week.

While there could be a heated debate regarding whether that is a good thing or not, there can be no doubt that sports have a major impact on our communities.

There are examples of this within our state. For example, the Tennessee Titans have established themselves as one of the best teams in the National Football League, and Nashville is reaping the benefits of this.

I spend a lot of time in Nashville, and throughout the city, the team is a great source of community pride. Situations like this show how sports can have a tremendously positive impact on a city.

This is because when the local team is doing well, it helps tear down the walls that separate people. It doesn't matter whether a person is rich or poor, white or black, or male or female. The team has become a symbol that everybody can rally around.

How often do we see this within our culture? Not very often. Our country remains fragmented when it comes to politics. Differences on social issues remain as sharp as ever.

However, when the local team is doing well, everybody puts those differences temporarily to the side and pulls together.

It's true that sports are superficial when it comes to the important issues of the day. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter who wins a football game or not. After all, it's just a game.

Still, it's nice when the tensions of the day can be forgotten for a few hours. Maybe this is just a form of escapism. Escapism can be a dangerous concept, but in this case, I believe it is good.

Like anything, there can be a downside to this if people lose perspective. In the way that a winning team can bond people, a losing team can cause a community to tear itself apart.

For an example of this, look at the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. I graduated from the University of Tennessee, and the impact the football program has there cannot be over-stated.

Revenue generated by the program funds many of the other sports in the athletic program. Additionally, millions of dollars are generated for the city of Knoxville on Saturday afternoons in the autumn.

As even casual fans know, the team has gone through a wretched season. A convincing case can be made that this is the worst season the program has ever had. Because of this and the impact the program has, there has been tons of negativity.

The final fate of Coach Phillip Fulmer caused a lot of open disagreement among the school's alumni, as well as other followers of the team.

All the negativity reached a point of critical mass when it was announced on November 3 that Fulmer would not return next year. In his comments in reaction to this decision, Fulmer said: "I love Tennessee too much to let her stay divided."

He spoke strong words with strong emotions. Fulmer has handled the situation with class, and his contributions to the program as player, assistant coach, and head coach are to be applauded.

As for the entire situation, it is a shining example of how sports can have a negative impact on a community.

Sports can be great, but handle them with care.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Titans look to polish off Brett Favre and the Jets heading into Thanksgiving

After a challenging two-game road trip, the Titans return home to play the New York Jets before heading to Detroit to play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

At this point, it is all about piling up wins to clinch home-field advantage for the playoffs. LP Field is one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams, so locking up home games for the playoffs is essential.

The Jets are coming off a 34-31 overtime win over the New England Patriots to improve to 7-3. The Jets now lead the AFC East, and this week's game could be a playoff preview. Of course, much of the attention with them centers on quarterback Brett Favre. Favre has had a good year though his statistics have been up and down. Some games he has been on fire as when he threw six touchdowns against the Cardinals. Other games, he has been fairly quiet.

At home, it's tough to go against the Titans. So I won't.

The pick: Tennessee 24 New York 21

Other picks: New Orleans over Green Bay, San Diego over Indianapolis, Jacksonville over Minnesota, Tampa Bay over Detroit, Chicago over St. Louis

Last week: 6-0 (1.000), Overall: 43-22 (.662)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Volunteers must hope Vanderbilt has let down after clinching bowl berth

The college football universe has truly been turned upside down: Vanderbilt is going to a bowl and Tennessee is not. But seriously, the Commodores must be congratulated on a good season. Quarterback Chris Nickson played well in leading Vandy to a win against Kentucky last week to clinch bowl eligibility.

Imagine the relief for Vanderbilt supporters. Though it has been well publicized that they haven't been to a bowl since 1982, they haven't actually won a bowl since 1955. They beat Auburn (who they also beat this year) in the Gator Bowl that year.

While many have speculated that they will go to the Music City Bowl, I don't see that happening. The whole point of a bowl is to attract tourists to a city, and that wouldn't happen if Vandy were invited. Therefore, look for the Commodores to go to the Liberty or Independence Bowl.

As for Tennessee, they have had a couple of weeks to ponder the firing/letting go of Phillip Fulmer, and their terrible loss to Wyoming. I'm tempted to say things couldn't get worse for the Vols, but after everything I've seen this year, I'm not so sure.

Quarterback Jonathan Crompton will get the start. Hopefully, red shirt freshman B.J. Coleman will also see some action at quarterback, and the Commodores will have an emotional let down after such a big win last week. Vandy, however, is the better team.

The pick: Vanderbilt 14 Tennessee 13

Other SEC picks: Florida over Citadel, LSU over Mississippi, Arkansas over Mississippi State

Last week: 5-1 (.833), Overall: 64-20 (.762)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'The End of Reason' by Ravi Zacharias is a good read

I recently finished reading the book The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacharias, and it is a well thought out response to atheistic writers like Sam Harris. The book isn't only a rebuke of atheism, but also illustrates that the Bible is a reliable and believable document.

I'm tired so I'll spare you a long discussion, but click here if you want more information regarding it. It is only 144 pages and only took me a couple of hours to read. It's well worth reading if you have the time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gay marriage ban a surprise

During our presidential election earlier this month, there were a lot of other issues voted upon across the country.

Because of the focus on who our next president would be, many of those issues got much less attention than they would have under normal circumstances. Despite how massive the media has become, time restraints played a major role regarding how much attention an issue got on election night.

While the presidential election unfolded like the experts anticipated, there was a big surprise that came out of California. Voters there approved a state constitutional amendment against homosexual marriage that basically overturned a ruling by the state's Supreme Court that allowed it.

Since that ruling, approximately 18,000 homosexual couples had gotten married there, but now homosexual activists are going back to the drawing board regarding how to legalize this type of marriage.

The result of that vote stunned me. California is the last place I expected a backlash against homosexual marriage, but this proves that if a person lives long enough, he will see everything.

Along with Massachusetts and a few other states, California is usually on the cutting edge when it comes to advancing socially liberal causes. Places like Tennessee are usually derided for supporting the traditional and Biblical definition of marriage.

However, there seem to be a lot of folks in the 'enlightened' state of California that have some of the same reservations about re-defining marriage.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this vote was the demographic breakdown regarding the ban.

While African-American voters turned out in record numbers to vote for Barack Obama, 70 percent of them voted against gay marriage, according to the Associated Press. Only 47 percent of white voters cast votes against banning it.

There is plenty of irony here. President-elect Obama is considered by many to have been the most liberal senator in the country. However, his African-American supporters may have played the key role in getting homosexual marriage banned in one of our most liberal states.

Election night was a somber night for homosexual marriage supporters in other states as well. Voters in Arizona and Florida voted against same-sex marriages, too.

When looking at these setbacks, same-sex marriage advocates can't say they didn't have enough financial backing to mount their campaign. In California alone, supporters of homosexual marriage raised $43.6 million to spend on the campaign compared to $29.8 million for the other side, according to Time magazine.

Still, they lost. However, because of their ability to raise large sums of money, this issue isn't going away anytime soon.

As for what to make of all this, I'm a little confused at this point.

For a long while, I felt the homosexual marriage movement was one that couldn't be stopped.

Don't mistake that for an endorsement. I support the Biblical definition of what a marriage should be. However, the supporters of same-sex marriage are tenacious.

They have worked too hard and come too far to stop now. Though the election's results were a definite setback for their movement, it seems to have intensified their resolve to see this through.

I guess it remains to be seen whether the supporters of traditional marriage will be able to sustain their opposition to a change.

My cynical side tells me it won't happen, but the results in California have caused me to think more on the issue. Maybe supporters of traditional marriage have a lot stronger backbone than I realized.

The bottom line is this issue isn't going away anytime soon. So, get ready for a long fight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm picking the Titans until they lose

Last week, I picked the Tennessee Titans to lose to Chicago primarily because I thought the law of averages would finally catch up with them. Big mistake. The Titans controlled the game throughout and won 21-14. I won't make that mistake again. I'm sticking with the Titans until they finally lose.

This week, the Titans travel to Jacksonville for a rematch of their week one game. Jacksonville is 4-5 and has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far. The defense has struggled, and until last week, running back Maurice Jones-Drew had not been making much of an impact.

However, if the Titans can go to Chicago and beat up on a good team in the cold and snow, then why can't they do it in sunny Florida? Sounds reasonable to me.

The pick: Tennessee 18 Jacksonville 14

Other picks: Carolina over Detroit, Cleveland over Buffalo, Pittsburgh over San Diego, New Orleans over Kansas City, Tampa Bay over Minnesota

Last week: 4-2 (.667), Overall: 37-22 (.627)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mercifully, the Vols have this week off

Tennessee's loss last week to Wyoming ranks up near the top when it comes to worst Volunteer losses during my lifetime. Of course, there was the shocking loss to Memphis in 1996, as well as the loss to Rutgers in '79 and North Texas State in '75. Just miserable.

However, the real lesson from this loss is that whoever winds up with the head coaching job is faced with a long-term rebuilding project. The offense is just pathetic, and the defense will lose a lot of talent heading into next season.

I don't care if we get Butch Davis or whoever, it will take a lot of time to turn things around. I just hope the fan base will be patient (I think we know the answer to that).

SEC picks: Georgia over Auburn, Florida over South Carolina, Kentucky over Vanderbilt, Alabama over Mississippi State, Ole Miss over Lousiana-Monroe, LSU over Troy

Last week: 4-2 (.667), Overall: 59-19 (.756)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This can't be: Golfer nails 5 holes-in-one in a week

I don't play golf that much anymore, but I can attest that it is a difficult, challenging, and even cruel sport at times. Non-players can't identify with this because they can't understand what could possibly be so difficult about hitting a ball that isn't moving. But trust me, it is difficult.

With this in mind, consider the recent streak amateur golfer Curt Hocker of Kappa, Ill., went through. Within one week, he scored five holes-in-one, according to an Associated Press story. So far this year, he has seven of them, and five occurred on par-4s.

Remarkable. The AP story doesn't include what the odds of doing this is, but it has to be in the trillions.

Some folks just have a knack for such things, I guess.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clint Eastwood delivers again with 'Changeling'

Clint Eastwood has developed into one of the finest directors of our time over the last two decades. He won Oscars for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby and has delivered other excellent films during this time. His new film, Changeling, is another first-rate film.

Eastwood doesn't act in this one, but Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich deliver more than enough acting muscle. Set in the late 1920s, the plot centers on the disappearance of Jolie's son and the corruption of the Los Angeles police department.

As is my policy, I don't review films; I only recommend them. If you would like a detailed review of the film, click here. However, I will say that this film is rated 'R,' and is not for young folks. Eastwood tells the story in a way that is not exploitive, but there are times in the film when the subject matter is not easy to watch.

If you're looking for a film to go see, I would put this toward the top of your list.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

President-elect Obama already facing big challenges

The American people spoke last Tuesday, and Barack Obama will be inaugurated as our next president in January.

The campaign was hard fought, and both he and John McCain must be commended for their willingness to put themselves through such a meat grinder.

Regardless of how a person feels about either candidate, both men deserve a tip of the hat for being willing to serve our country. After such a demanding process, it would be easy for the losing side to become frustrated.

However, all of us must pray that Obama becomes the best president our country has ever had. This doesn't mean that people can't be critical of him. After all, the right to criticize is an important element of any democracy and is a necessary component in the marketplace of ideas.

At this point, Obama needs everybody's support because our country is entering a critical portion of its history. The challenges we face are daunting, and strong leadership from the president will be essential.

There are lots of issues that most can point toward as important. Many want the Iraq War to wind down as quickly as possible. Because of his past position on this, Obama will be under intense scrutiny to bring it to an end.

Others will point toward social issues like homosexual marriage and abortion. Both of these are the defining social issues of our time, and the president will continue to play an important role in how they impact our nation.

This will be especially true if Obama gets the opportunity to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. It is believed that as many as three justices may be considering retirement.

If this happens, Obama will be leaving a legacy that lasts long after he leaves office because justices are appointed for life. It surprised me somewhat that there wasn't more discussion during the campaign about this, but then again, the Supreme Court isn't the sexiest issue to discuss when it comes to politics.

Usually, it only gets focused upon when there is a position to be filled, and that is a big mistake.

Additionally, near the top of the new administration's list must be developing an energy policy that results in America becoming less reliant on other countries to meet our needs.

It was only a few months ago when gasoline prices hovered around $4 a gallon, and local merchants were having difficulty keeping enough in stock to meet demand.

In the last few weeks, the issue has fallen off the radar somewhat because of a drop in prices. Locally, prices have dropped below $2 a gallon, and the nation as a whole has received significant relief.

As economic growth has slowed, this drop couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully, this drop in prices will continue, but I'm sure that it won't.

The bottom line is we must become much more focused on domestic resources for our energy needs.

We can't continue to rely on countries that aren't necessarily our allies to help us. If we continue in this way, then skyrocketing costs for oil and other resources will return. It isn't a matter of 'if' this will happen, but a matter of 'when.'

After the intensity and pressure of the last year or so in politics, the next couple of months will appear relatively quiet. However, this will not be the case.

Obama will be making decisions on who will be serving in his cabinet, and those decisions will be among the most significant he will make.

Let's hope he chooses well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bears game likely to be one of the Titans’ biggest challenges so far

This week, the Tennessee Titans go to Chicago to play the Bears in an attempt to go 9-0. Chicago is a notorious place to play as Titans' coach Jeff Fisher knows first hand because he played for the Bears.

The Bears are coming off a sloppy win against winless Detroit. For the last few years, the team has been known for a stout defense and a limp noodle offense. In recent weeks, the offense has come to life behind quarterback Kyle Orton, but that all became muddled last week when Orton injured his ankle.

Initial reports said he would be out for several weeks, but some recent media reports indicate he could play Sunday. If he doesn't play, Rex Grossman will get the start. Of course, Grossman quarterbacked the Bears to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, but he has shown a gift for making huge mistakes at the worst possible time.

As for the Titans, the road is getting tougher. Five of the remaining eight regular season games are on the road, starting with this game. They can be forgiven for playing sloppy last week against the Packers because they were obviously tired after playing on Monday night the previous week. However, both the offense and defense will need to take it up a notch this week.

As we know, all streaks must end. I think that is the case with the Titans this week. I can't quite put my finger on the reason. It's more of a gut feeling.

Besides, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is on the cover of Sport's Illustrated this week. Will he become another victim of the SI cover jinx? The article about him is good though.

The pick: Chicago 23 Tennessee 21

Other NFL picks: Arizona over San Francisco, Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Miami over Seattle, Minnesota over Green Bay, Carolina over Oakland

Last week: 5-2 (.714), Overall: 33-20 (.623)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fulmer's farewell should begin with a Tennessee win over Wyoming

It's been an emotional week for the University of Tennessee family. It isn't every day that the program makes a coaching change even though many could see this coming.

The most difficult aspect of Phillip Fulmer's leaving as head coach is that he is exactly the type of man I would want to lead our program. It goes beyond his success on the field. He is a man that clearly loves the school. As he became choked with emotion at the press conference on Monday, we watched a man whose heart was breaking. It's tough to walk away from something you love, but Fulmer is doing so with integrity and dignity.

For the fans who wanted him removed, I hope all of them will now take time to pay tribute to him for what he provided the school. There are two home games remaining, and I hope most of you will try to attend one of those games. He deserves more than to coach his remaining games at Tennessee in front of a half-empty stadium.

As for this week's opponent, Wyoming comes to town mirroring the Volunteers. They also have a 3-6 record and have struggled on offense. They have scored only 13 touchdowns all season. Because of this, it will likely be a low scoring game that Tennessee will pull out in the second half.

It's likely to be a somber affair.

The pick: Tennessee 27 Wyoming 10

Other SEC picks: LSU over Alabama, Georgia over Kentucky, Florida over Vanderbilt, South Carolina over Arkansas, Auburn over Tennessee-Martin

Last week: 5-2 (.714), Overall: 55-17 (.764)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too much, too soon by stores trying to encourage Christmas spending

Last Saturday, which was the day after Halloween, I walked into my local Wal-Mart, and the first thing I saw was a Christmas tree standing near the front door. As I walked in, I heard Christmas music, and the store was covered (for the most part) with Christmas decorations.

Don't get me wrong; I love Christmas. However, I think a lot of stores jump the gun when it comes to using the holiday as a tool to sell its merchandise. I understand that a lot of retailers are concerned about Christmas sales being down this season because of our country's economic slowdown.

However, pushing Christmas merchandise this early is a big turn off. It seems like in recent years the importance of Thanksgiving has gotten lost in the shuffle as many folks sprint toward Christmas.

Let's hope that doesn't happen this year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Economic slowdown equals drop in gasoline demand equals gas prices less than $2 per gallon

As the old cliché goes, for every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Though our economy's growth is slowing, an unquestioned benefit of this situation is that people are staying close to home. Because of this, demand for gas is dropping and prices are going down.

Back in the summer when prices hovered around $4 per gallon, I thought it would be a long time before we would see prices back down to $3 per gallon. However, prices have zoomed below that, and last weekend, prices here in Manchester dropped below $2 per gallon for the first time in a long while.

So, for all you folks from Nashville and Murfreesboro that may be driving down to Chattanooga, make sure to stop here and fill up your tank. Your wallet and our local elected officials would greatly appreciate it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Everybody vote on Tuesday....well, maybe not everybody

After months of angst and pressure, our presidential election is now only days away.

For those who enjoy politics, this is an exciting time because presidential elections are like the Super Bowl of politics. Of course, people who dislike politics can't wait for this whole process to end.

I always encourage people to vote on Election Day because I believe it is everybody's patriotic duty to do so. A lot of people have sacrificed and died just so we can go through this process every four years.

Additionally, it is often people who do not vote that complain the loudest about our government's problems. Those types of people really get under my skin.

They will moan and groan about the state of our country, but when it comes time to do something about it, they disappear. Often they hide behind the tired argument that one person's vote doesn’t matter, but that doesn't fly with me.

If a person can't find the time to vote, then they should just shut their mouths.

While I believe everybody should vote, my opinion on that recently got a jolt when I saw a poll on how uninformed most voters are.

The Pew Research Center for People and the Press conducted a poll that contained three basic political questions and only 44 percent of Americans could answer all three.

Here are the questions followed by the answers:

What is the controlling party of the U.S. House of Representatives? (Democrats)

Who is the U.S. Secretary of State? (Condoleezza Rice)

Who is prime minister of Great Britain? (Gordon Brown)

I guess I can forgive people for not knowing the prime minister of Britain, but it is inexcusable not to know the other two questions.

And, just think, the folks polled in this survey are going to be casting votes like you and me.

I know I sound elitist, but the results of this poll make me cringe because most voters haven't done as much homework on the candidates as I have. Scoff at me if you must, but if a person doesn't know who the Secretary of State is, then I know they don't know much about politics.

Still, there really isn't anything that can be done to force people to study the candidates more closely. Despite the tons of information easily available to voters, most don't have the time or motivation to study the candidate's positions on the important issues.

Remember, our government is a reflection of us. If our approach to voting is lazy, then we take the real risk of electing officials who are not competent.

Of course, we all whine and complain about what we think is wrong with government, but at the same time, we don't bother to learn who the U.S. Secretary of State is.

No wonder our federal government is bloated and inefficient. Many voters electing representatives aren't smart enough on the issues to cast an informed vote. Therefore, we wind up with what we deserve.

Over the last several months, I have repeatedly challenged the readers of this blog to do their homework when deciding who to vote for.

However, the results of this survey have left me quite discouraged. During the presidential campaign, many have said they are genuinely afraid of Barack Obama or John McCain getting elected. Both the options scare them.

Frankly, the thing to be scared about is that a lot of uniformed voters will be choosing who the next president will be.

Because of this, I probably won't sleep well for quite some time.