A ranking of U.S. presidents based on economic performance courtesy of P.L.A. - A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism:
1) Roosevelt (1933-45): +5.3%
2) Johnson (1963-69): +3.8%
3) Carter (1977-81): +3.1%
4) Truman: (1945-53): +2.5%
5) Kennedy (1961-63): +2.5%
6) Clinton (1993-2001): +2.4%
7) Nixon (1969-75): +2.2%
8) Reagan (1981-89): +2.1%
9) Ford (1975-77): +1.1%
10) Eisenhower (1953-61): +0.9%
11) Bush (1989-93): +0.6%
12) Bush (2001-present): -0.7%
13) Hoover (1929-33): -9.0%
The scary part is how much worse things could get before Bush Jr. catches up to Hoover.
I’m Mike Thomas and I started this blog to talk about politics and pop culture things that interest me. I’m 45 years old. I live in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been married 20 years and we have two children - a boy born in 2003 and a girl born in 2005.
I was born at Reese Air Force Base near Lubbock, Texas while my father was in pilot school. He flew F-4 Phantoms in Vietnam and received the Silver Star for heroics during the Tet Offensive. He passed away a few years ago. My mom lives in Houston half way between my sister (who is in Louisiana with her husband and four kids) and me.
I was an Air Force brat through the fourth grade. The first place I can remember clearly is Grissom AFB in Indiana. When my dad got out of the service we moved back to Texas and he went to work in the oil business. We lived for a short time in McAllen. I spent my junior high years in Victoria and went to high school in Premont, which is a small town in South Texas near Kingsville. I was in Little League Baseball, Boy Scouts, Methodist Youth Fellowship, 4-H, FFA and UIL Speech and Debate.
I went to Texas A&M University and was in the Corps of Cadets for four years. I thought I would go into the Air Force like my father, but things didn’t work out that way. In the mid-to-late 80s the military was trying to cut back on personnel and they did this by raising medical entrance standards. Even though I don’t wear glasses, my eyesight was determined to be too poor to be a pilot or navigator. I was offered a missile officer slot for a short time until they determined that I am colorblind. Since I was not in a technical major that only left the non-tech officer slots of which there were very few and as my grades were not competitive enough I soon found myself bumped out.
Once it became clear that I was going to have to do something with myself other than join the military I decided I had better change my major to something more practical. So I went from Speech Communications to Journalism and figured I would end up doing public relations type work. During the extra year and a half that it took to make up for switching majors in my senior year, I lived in apartments off campus and supported myself by working first in the Sears parts department and later took a job at the A&M library. In my final semester I met my wife who was finishing up two degrees in biology and chemistry.
On the same day I learned I had an interview for a reporter position with the Bryan/College Station Eagle, my wife was offered a position as a research scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Wallingford, Connecticut. There was no question as to which job was better, so we loaded up our belongings and began a three year adventure in New England. In 1991, the Northeast was in still in a recession and newspapers were hurting. I spent the first six months there doing freelance work until I convinced an editor at a small weekly paper in Durham to let me pretend to be a full time reporter there while being paid on a per story basis. After a while I attracted the attention of the group publisher and was moved into a full-time reporting position at a paper in Old Saybrook.
By 1993, we were ready to move back to Texas and I found a job at a small daily paper in Kerrville. I covered county and city government, the school board and local politics. One politico I interviewed during that time was an up-an-coming businessman by the name of George W. Bush who was running for governor against Ann Richards. In 1995, I took a reporting job at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal so my wife could go back to school at Texas Tech for her doctorate. Once again I covered education, city government and local politics. I must have interviewed then-Gov. Bush at least a half dozen times over the next several years – Lubbock was a favorite place for Republican politicians to come visit.
When my wife graduated we decided to move one more time and wound up in San Antonio where we hope to stay indefinitely. I’m currently an editor at a weekly business paper.
Here are some more things about me:
Name: Mike Thomas
Level of Education: B.S. Journalism - Texas A&M University 1989
Occupation: Editor at business weekly
Birthplace: Lubbock, Texas
Places you’ve lived: Grissom AFB, Indiana; Springdale, Ark.; McAllen, Texas; Victoria, Texas; Premont, Texas; College Station, Texas; Branford, Connecticut; Kerrville, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; San Antonio, Texas.
Marital status: Married for 16 years
How many children: 2 - a boy age 3 and a girl age 9 months (as of Aug. 2006)
Do you drink (alcohol): No
Do you smoke: No
Favorite outdoor activities: Playing with my kids
Favorite indoor activities: Blogging, reading, watching movies
Favorite color: Maroon
Favorite types of music: Rock, Jazz, Country, Classical
Favorite musical groups/performers: The Police; The Beatles; Elvis Presley; Bing Crosby; Bruce Springsteen; Bob Dylan; Louis Armstrong; Duke Ellington; Benny Goodman; Bix Biederbecke; Led Zepplin; The Black Crowes; Red Hot Chili Peppers; The Rolling Stones; The Beach Boys; Buddy Holly; Johnny Cash; Ray Charles; Willie Nelson; Dwight Yoakum; The Dixie Chicks; U2; REM; Cheap Trick; ZZ Top; Tom Petty; Electric Light Orchestra; The Bee Gees; Smashing Pumpkins; Stevie Wonder; The Eagles; Billy Joel; Elton John; Queen; Rod Stewart; Robert Earl Keen; Stone Temple Pilots; Guns-n-Roses; Van Halen; The Who; Aerosmith; Alison Krauss; Andrews Sisters; Peggy Lee; Asia; Heart; Loverboy; J. Geils Band; John Mellencamp; Billy Squier; Boston; Buffalo Springfield; Neil Young; Paul Simon; Chuck Pyle; Dar Williams; Vance Gilbert; Tish Hinojosa; Michael McNevin; Ellis Paul; Foreigner; Rush; Santana; Jimi Hendrix; The Doors; David Bowie; Alabama; George Strait; Garth Brooks; Herb Alpert; The Kingston Trio; Deep Purple; Kiss; Prince; Danny Kaye; The Faces; Foo Fighters; Hall & Oates; INXS; Jamiroquai; Green Day; The Offspring; Jerry Jeff Walker; JET; Miles Davis; Dizzie Gillespie; Count Basie; John Denver; John Waite; Los Lobos; Lyle Lovett; Nickel Creek; Trans Siberian Orchestra; Rage Against the Machine; Public Enemy; Rick Springfield; Enya; Mannheim Steamroller; The Chieftains; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Lynyrd Skynrd; Def Leppard; Frank Sinatra; Weird Al Yankovic
Favorite soundtracks: Urban Cowboy; Grease; Saturday Night Fever; Chess; Aladdin; Dumbo; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; Chariots of Fire; O Brother, Where Art Thou; Sound of Music; Mary Poppins;
Favorite broadway shows: Miss Saigon; Ragtime; Chicago; Les Miserables; Phantom of the Opera; Hello Dolly; Evita; Into the Woods; Cats
What’s in your home CD player right now: Veggie Tales: Silly Songs with Larry
What’s in you car CD player right now: Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way
Do you play an instrument: No
Croutons or bacon bits: Neither (I prefer sunflower seeds)
Favorite salad dressing: Newman’s Own Ranch
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up: Baseball player, preferably a catcher like my hero Johnny Bench
What would be your dream job now: Editorial writer/columnist
Places you’d most like to visit: England
Your first car: 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Your current car: 2005 Dodge mid-size pickup truck quadcab
Toothpaste: Vanilla-flavored Crest
Shampoo/Conditioner: Whatever my wife buys for me
Favorite season: Baseball season
Favorite holiday: Halloween
Favorite hobbies: Collecting movies, books, music and baseball cards
Favorite sport to play: Baseball, basketball, golf, tennis
Favorite sports teams: Houston Astros; New York Yankees; Cincinnati Reds (1972-78); Dallas Cowboys; San Antonio Spurs; Texas A&M Aggies
Do you have any siblings: Yes, a sister with four kids
Favorite places to visit: New England; Boston, New York; Chicago; Disney World
Favorite scent of candle: Vanilla
Favorite flower/plant: Cactus
Favorite subject in school: History
Least favorite subject in school: Math
Favorite authors: J.R.R. Tolkien; Richard Adams; Isaac Asimov; Charles Dickens; Mark Twain; Noam Chomsky; John Kenneth Galbraith; Hans Kung;
Favorite columnists: Molly Ivins; Michael Kinsley; Paul Krugman; Joe Conason; Sidney Blumenthal; Eric Alterman;
Favorite book genre: Non-fiction
Favorite books: The Hobbit; Lord of the Rings; Watership Down; In Cold Blood; Gone With the Wind; Great Expectations
Daily reads: New York Times; San Antonio Express-News; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post online;
Favorite magazine: New Yorker
Favorite movie you have seen recently: Cars (Pixar)
Favorite movie of all time: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Other favorite movies: The Star Wars Trilogy; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Back To the Future; Karate Kid; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; JFK; Aladdin; Casablanca; On the Road to .... (Hope/Crosby movies); The Searchers; Planet of the Apes; Wizard of Oz; It’s a Wonderful Life; The Court Jester; A Fish Called Wanda; The Matrix... (For a complete list of my favorite movies go here.
Favorite actors/actresses: Clint Eastwood; John Wayne; Tom Hanks; Bob Hope; Bing Crosby; Harrison Ford; Paul Newman; Cary Grant; Charlton Heston; Jimmy Stewart; Johnny Depp; Tom Cruise; Humphry Bogart; Steve Martin; Katherine Hepburn; Woodie Allen; Mel Gibson; Steve McQueen; Yul Brynner;
Favorite TV programs (current): Lost; ER; Boston Legal;
Favorite TV programs (all time): Star Trek (all of them); X-Files; Twilight Zone; Sliders; The Muppet Show; Frasier; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; The Carol Burnett Show; Nash Bridges; Judging Amy;
Favorite cartoon character: Bugs Bunny; Daffy Duck; Donald Duck; Goofy; Speed Racer; Danger Mouse;
Favorite food: It changes, but I always like a big breakfast with pancakes, bacon and eggs.
Favorite ice cream: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
How would you characterize your political leanings:
Liberal pragmatist with conservative sympathies. I vote Democratic.
The WSJ has a story today about the decline of “old-style” animated movies prompted by the poor showing over the weekend of DreamWork SKG’s “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.”
The Sinbad film, which cost $70 million to make, pulled in just $6.8 million during the July 4th weekend and the studio is already preparing to write it off as a $50 million loss. This comes on the heels of Disney’s disasterous “Treasure Planet” which cost $140 million and prompted a $98 million write-off for the Mickey Mouse company.
Now, the WSJ is reporting, Dreamworks is sworn off of the old 2-D animation and has nothing but computer-animated films in the pipeline. Disney still has a few traditional features in the works - including “Brother Bear” and “Home on the Range” - but is increasingly reliant on its relationship with computer animated champ Pixar for box-office hits.
Perhaps this is an inevitability - like color pictures taking over from black and white - but it still seems like a shame. “Aladdin” is still one of my all-time favorite films and I just can’t see it being done with computer animation. I like computer animation just fine - I’m a big Pixar fan - I haven’t even seen “Finding Nemo” yet and I’m already sold on the movie - but why can’t I have both?
In the end, I believe that quality makes more difference than the medium. I can’t really speak about Sinbad and Treasure Planet since I haven’t seen either one, but somehow I think that they just don’t measure up quality-wise to something like Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” which won the Oscar for best animated film this past year. I think Miyazaki demonstrates that there is still life left in the old-style animation as long as you have a powerful story to tell and the talent to pull it off.