Posted by Cameron @ 6:32 pm on November 21st 2008

The (Surprisingly) Unremarkable Turnout of 2008

Despite breathless forecasts and early reports, the percentage of eligible voters who actually voted on election day was less than a point and a half higher than 2004. That puts it well below the high of recent political times set in 1968 of 64%. The big reason was an enthusiasm gap: turnout increased in Democratic states but tended to stay fairly steady or drop in Republican ones. The perceived high probability of an Obama win sounds like it was a fairly significant factor in depressing the Republican vote.

Some highlights:

When the official counts are in, Gans said, the final tally may approach 129 million, which would be almost 62 percent of eligible voters, up from 60.6 percent four years ago but below the 1964 turnout rate of 64 percent of eligible voters under Gans’s formula.

Turnout in last week’s election increased from four years ago but fell far short of some forecasts largely because many Republican voters either stayed home or left blank the presidential section of their ballots. In states won by President-elect Barack Obama, turnout was more than five percentage points higher than in states won by Republican John McCain

Each analyst cited North Carolina as the state with the largest increase over 2004 in turnout, by about 9 percentage points. A traditionally Republican state won by Obama after his campaign waged vigorous registration and get-out-the-vote operations, the state was one of many with large African-American populations that saw rising turnout this year.

Minnesota had the highest turnout rate – 78 percent…it was not a true presidential battleground state this year but did have a bitter US Senate contest…turnout was slightly lower than in 2004, when it was a battleground state throughout the presidential campaign.

Posted by Cameron @ 5:53 pm on November 21st 2008

The Curse of Internet Advertising: Pagination

I hate websites that split content over multiple pages. I will not click through ten bloody pages to look at ten pictures. Flash slideshow displays are less obtrusive than an entire page reload, but they aggravate me too. Even a text article that is split up into two pages gets on my nerves, let alone if it spread out over three or four pages. The growth of this method of content display is partially driven by advertising – when you force visitors to click through to multiple pages there are more ad views and thus more money.

In that vein, I thought that I would point out a site that has become a daily visit for me not only due to the stunning quality of the photographs, but also the laudable idea of sticking all of these enormous and pretty photographs on a single page.

I present the Boston Globe’s Big Picture. The blog is created by Alan Taylor to whom I actually sent an email thanking him for the design and presentation he chooses for the photograph collections, something almost I never do. It is well worth a click and warrants a tri-weekly visit routine once you’re hooked. It is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out.

Posted by Cameron @ 5:29 pm on November 21st 2008

Music Video of the Weekend

This is about the only decent music video that I could find of this this song. It should be noted that the guy lipsynching is not the singer/songwriter of the song. That honor is Jonathan Coulton’s and this particular song is a fantastic example of his work. The guy is an independent musician, made famous over the internet and releases his music under the creative commons license. If you like this, consider buying some of his others. You can also get all of them listed on that buying page for free if you’re (moderately) unscrupulous. That’s not quite fair though because the freeness is kind of by design. If you want the mp3 of this, just visit http://www.jonathancoulton.com/mp3/Re Your Brains.mp3 and if you want others (naughty you!) change the “Re Your Brains” portion of the url to a properly spaced and capitalized name of any of his other songs. Additional geeky/amusing songs of his that I greatly enjoy include Chiron Beta Prime, Ikea, The Presidents, That Spells DNA and Mandelbrot Set (which has one of the greatest lines of all time). Some other damn good songs include You Ruined Everything, De-Evolving, Kenesaw Mountain Landis and Code Monkey.

If you go steal all of those, you may consider donating to the guy to show what ever level of appreciation you have.

Re: Your Brains – Jonathan Coulton

Posted by Liz @ 3:44 pm on November 21st 2008

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

It looks like Obama is going to delay repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, possibly until 2010. Sources are explaining that 2009 is a year for consensus building.

Obama campaign adviser and analyst for the Center of American Progress, Lawrence Korb

said the new administration should set up a Pentagon committee to make recommendations to Congress on a host of manpower issues, including the gay ban.

“If it’s part of a larger package, it has a better chance of getting passed,” he said.

EDIT: via Andrew Sullivan

Posted by Brad @ 2:39 pm on November 21st 2008

Attention Matt Scully

This is so outrageously awesome.

I love the look on the guy’s face. “Does she know that, uh, I’m…ah hell, I got work to do.”

Man, and you thought she was anti baby stellar seals and arctic wolves.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a national candidate who is anti-animal before.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:49 pm on November 20th 2008

Rojas completely wusses out

Can’t…stop…watching…

Posted by Jack @ 11:35 pm on November 20th 2008

The Jackovian Scale of Aquarium Complexity (J-SAC)

From Easiest to Hardest:

1. Betta (“Siamese Fighting Fish”) or Goldfish Bowl: One bowl, tap water, water treatment tablets, basic food. No delay in start up. Incredibly cheap. This is how I started. Ideal for the fish keeper who is likely to forget that he is a fish keeper for days at a time. The wife figured: Since you are going to spend all that time in front of the computer, you might as well have “Buddy” to keep you company. Buddy the Betta survived more than one military move and two years before succumbing to an outrage fatigue related death (he read blogs with me), which is longer than most captive Betta’s live.

2. Freshwater Tropical Community Tank: Tank, light, filter, water treatment tablets, basic test kit, slightly better food, fish price highly variable but still can be had on the cheap. Ideally, a couple of weeks delay from tank start up to fish in the water to allow for “the nitrogen cycle” of beneficial bacteria growth to finish. Go all out tacky or simulate a natural environment: as nice or as odd as your decorating sense.

3. Freshwater Semi-Aggressive/Aggressive Species Tank: Bigger Tank, light, better filter, water treatment tablets, basic test kit, better food or live food, fish price really ramps up. Delay from start up to fish same as above. This is a highly popular fish phase for teens and young adult males. Similar to getting a boa, except you can invite your friends over to watch your Jack Dempsey decimate a small school of feeder fish nearly every day.

4. Cichlid Tank (Freshwater): Bigger Tank, light, better filter, water treatment tablets, more test kits, cichlid salt, gravel or other species-specific physical requirements. Delay for the cycle as above. The most colorful category of freshwater species. Excellent breeders. Excellent eaters of what has been bred. Teach your children the cycle of life and the concept of nature, red in tooth and, er, fin, all within your 55-gallon tank.

5. Freshwater Live Planted Aquarium: Tank, high-powered daylight spectrum light, canister or other high-end filter, water treatment tablets or Reverse Osmosis De-ionized (RODI) water, plant supplements, advanced test kits, special plant grade gravel for high cat-ion uptake, CO2 gas supplement if you go all out. Fish options slightly limited to those that will not eat or uproot your plants. This is as complicated as a freshwater tank can get. Resources:
Aquatic Plant Central
The Planted Tank
Highly recommended: Takashi Amano, freshwater planted tank god.
European planted tank god alternative: Oliver Knott

6. Saltwater Peaceful/Community Fish Only or Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR): Tank (the bigger the better due to water quality stability issues), “live” cured ocean or aqua-cultured rock 1-2 pounds per gallon, saltwater (natural ocean or special dry salt mixed with RODI water), test kits, hydrometer, light, wet-dry filter, pump, heater. Arguably not as difficult as a freshwater planted aquarium, but definitely more expensive.

7. Saltwater Aggressive Fish Only or FOWLR: as above, but a bigger tank, careful occupant selection, live food, escape proof top (eels and octopus will “explore” your house)

8. Saltwater “Softies” & LPS Reef: Tank (again, the bigger the better for stability), high-powered light (Metal Halide, Very High Output VHO fluorescent, or T5 High Output fluorescent), light reflector, sump/refugium or wet-dry filter, return pump, live rock, saltwater (mixed or natural), advanced test kits, refractometer, additional circulation pump, protein skimmer, additives, carbon, various chemical absorbers, and fish selection limited to “reef safe” species. Resources: Reef Central Reef Keeping 101

9. Saltwater “Stonies” SPS Reef: Tank (bigger) even higher-powered light, high quality light reflector, sump/refugium, return pump, live rock, saltwater (mixed or natural), advanced test kits, refractometer, several additional circulation pumps, high quality protein skimmer, additives, carbon, various chemical absorbers, calcium reactor or two part additives. This is the pinnacle of the hobby.

This scale represents the difficulty, in terms of knowledge requirements, equipment needs, time involved, financial investment, and likelihood of catastrophic failure. It is also nicely representative of the progression that many aquarists follow over the course of their fish-keeping career.

Enter this hobby at your own risk, for it is addictive, and each stage is a gate-way drug to the next. I have had all but # 7, and I will have it some day. Currently I have a mixed reef (combine 8 and 9), a fully planted freshwater tank, a betta bowl, an aquatic turtle “palidarium”, and plans for an office softies reef.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:34 pm on November 20th 2008

High on Holder?

He has supported the restoration of mandatory minimum sentences for pot dealers–up to five years–as well as enhancement of penalties for drug possession.

Maybe not the most important issue currently facing the AG, I’ll grant you. But hardly pleasant.

Posted by Brad @ 11:10 pm on November 20th 2008

Take Your Change and Stuff It

We here in Oklahoma like things the same just fine.

The grand total difference between Bush’s 2004 total and McCain’s in 2008? 47 votes.

Posted by Brad @ 8:38 pm on November 20th 2008

Vote on MN Recount Challenged Ballots

Neat.

Posted by Liz @ 8:05 pm on November 20th 2008

What’s in a name?

The Daily Beast conducted an interesting poll about the public’s perception about women in public and private life. Inspired by the recent election season, the poll asked a lot of questions about Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s treatment in relation to the treatment of the men running for office. Respondents consider sexism alive and well in the country especially in the workplace, the military and politics. Questions varied, but some noteworthy findings were as follows:

  • By an overwhelming 61% to 19% margin, women believe there is a gender bias in the media.
  • 4 in 10 men freely admit sexist attitudes towards a female president. 39% of men say that a male is “naturally more suited” to carrying out the duties of the office
  • Only 20% of women are willing to use the word feminist about themselves. Only 17% of all voters said they would welcome their daughters using that label.
  • 48% of women thought Hillary Clinton received fair media treatment and only 29% believed Sarah Palin was treated fairly. In contrast, nearly 8 in 10 voters thought the press gave fair treatment to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
  • More than two-thirds of women said they were being treated unfairly in the workplace (68%)

Emphasis mine. Nothing was particularly surprising, save the questions on feminism. Only 20% of women surveyed consider themselves to be feminists and only 17% of responders want their daughters to be feminists? Feminism, by definition, is

The theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

Or you can go with the second definition.

The organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

So what’s the problem? Surely most women want equality for themselves and their daughters. It seems strange that there is such a rejection of a term that promotes gender equality. Do they picture dour faced Sufragettes? Bra burning hippies? Betty Friedman?

The feminism movement has been divided into three distinct parts. The first wave was the Suffrage movement, the second is focused on inequality in the workplace, socially and in politics, and the third wave is a continuation (with a twist) of the second wave, with more gender and sexuality inclusiveness, and less emphasis on embracing a universal definition of femininity. 

There is quite a bit of conflict between the Second Wave feminists and the Third Wave feminists, as the third wave came into being as a partial backlash against the second wave’s rigidity and lack of consideration for racial issues.  The 2008 Deomcratic Primary resulted in all out warfare, with lots articles and blog posts and heated coversations about what being a True Feminist means.

The point is, from this Third Waver’s point of view, there are all different flavors of feminism. Whether you marched for the right to vote or burned a bra, or stay home with your baby, or dedicate your life to a career, whether you voted for Obama or Clinton, no action in and of itself defines someone as, or disqualifies someone from being a feminist.

Women have fought long and hard for the right to self determination, so the progress sould be embraced, the work to come acknowledged and the negative perception of a label should not take away from a movement that has changed the world.

Posted by Brad @ 7:55 pm on November 20th 2008

SCOTUS to Conference on Obama’s Citizenship

99.99% chance this puts it to bed forever. 00.01% chance that America descends into anarchy and mass chaos.

Good times.

Posted by Brad @ 2:01 pm on November 20th 2008

The Walter Block Affair

Here.

Essentially, he argued, in response to a question at a Jesuit college, that one of two explanations for the wage gap (and the one he implicitly favored) is that blacks just have a lower productivity then whites. University outrage ensues.

I’ve attended two lecture by Walter Block, and find him to be an imminently reasonable guy. However, he is indeed a paleolibertarian (or whatever you call them) of the sort that would make Jack wince. Anyway, the article above is an interesting/amusing diversion for your midday.

Maybe now Block can be considered for Treasury Secretary.

Posted by James @ 1:40 pm on November 20th 2008

Everything old is new again.

Don’t any Obamaniacs question how and why it is that the mantra of “Change” that chanted this fellow to the presidency is now materializing into a shiny new retread made up of old faces and the same Washington insiders he claimed to be a departure from? Hello bait and switch.

I, for one, am unsurprised.

Posted by Brad @ 12:35 pm on November 20th 2008

Our Blog Type

According to this thing:

The Thinkers. The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

For comparison, I put in Dizzy:

The Mechanic. The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

H/t: Sully

Posted by Liz @ 11:47 am on November 20th 2008

Celebrating a good harvest and our need to fry everything

Just in case we aren’t already fat enough, introducing the deep fried pumpkin pie.

(On a related note – anyone care to place your bets on how many turkey frying related house fires there will be next week?)

Posted by Brad @ 11:39 am on November 20th 2008

Napolitano, Pritzker

Homeland Security, Commerce.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:05 am on November 20th 2008

Day Without A Gay

A national economic boycott is being organized on December 10 to support full marriage rights regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Details here.

Despite my opposition to legal action on this front, I’m very much in favor of public democratic action in the cause. It is not possible for me to “call in gay”, because I’m heterosexual and my employer doesn’t deserve to be lied to, but I do intend to take a personal day and do some volunteer labor on behalf of marriage rights. The website contains a wealth of information on how you can do the same. Check it out.

Posted by Liz @ 10:21 pm on November 19th 2008

CEO For a Day

There have been all kinds of people throwing around their $700 billion worth of opinions on how to re-structure, or re-innovate, or re-labor the Big Three so that the companies actually work. I thought it might be fun to give it a go.

My first thought was to adapt a quasi-Dell model. When I googled Dell and GM it took me to an article by Jim Jubak in which he suggests that GM adopt a Dell model, so I’m not the only one thinking along these lines:

maturing markets for products ranging from PCs to cars have shifted the goal of manufacturing from producing huge runs of identical products to producing lots of smaller batches of individualized niche products. Dell “manufactures” each PC to customer order, for example.

Exactly. Though not even close to the only problem, GM suffers from an old fashioned supply chain, as do a lot of manufacturers. This isn’t always a bad thing for mass markets, but cars aren’t like bars of soap; they are expensive to make, take up tons of storage space in parking lots, warehouses and on trucks, and they just aren’t bought that often. Dell is arguably the best supply chain in the world, operating on a velocity based, Just In Time model that decreases on-hand stock and, therefore, excess inventory risk, storage needs, labor needs, etc.

Granted, GM and Dell are not the same. Dealerships still need to have stock for customers to test drive and people aren’t necessarily in the position to wait for a car to be made and shipped, but WikiAnswerssays that it can take less than an hour to build a car, so someone in the continental United States who orders a car could easily have it within a week, maybe more time for really custom jobs. The car would be less expensive because the manufacturing cost would be cheaper, with fewer acres holding pre-built automobiles and fewer people needed to do preventative maintenance and upkeep and less un-bought stock to swallow at the end of the year.

I have no noteworthy ideas about labor, but Jubak suggests:

Put workers and management in the same compensation boat. No more cuts from $25 an hour to $12.50 an hour for workers and $488 million in “retention” bonuses for management, as Delphi’s bankruptcy plan proposes. If a company pulls off a successful turnaround, everyone who contributed should share in the rewards. It’s ludicrous to give managers stock and options as a reward and believe that workers should be satisfied because they still have a job. And don’t stop once the immediate danger has passed. Adopt steelmaker Nucor’s (NUE, news, msgs) model that collapses the distance between what workers make and managers make. Put everyone on a relatively modest base-compensation plan. Then reward everybody with big bonuses — at Nucor, they range from 80% to 150% of base compensation — when the company has a good or great year.

I think that’s a viable suggestion. His entire plan to rescue GM is a pretty interesting read and certainly more informed than mine.

So, what would you do to save GM?

Posted by Rojas @ 8:48 pm on November 19th 2008

Avast Ye

So now there are naval analysts calling for the US to take an active role regarding piracy in the Horn of Africa. This one calls for what he calls a “Piracy Marine Surge”, which strikes me as an appropriate acronym choice. Color me skeptical, but I’m not 100% certain that this falls within the rubric of vital US national security interests.

You know what would actually make some degree of sense? Bring back Ron Paul’s weirdest foreign policy proposal: the issuance of letters of marque and reprisal. Most of the same issues which make them bad ideas in terms of nation-state warfare make them more appropriate in the fight against truly lawless forces such as these. And, as I recall, anti-piracy action was actually the original purpose for which said letters were designed.

Anybody up for a privateering expedition?

Posted by Brad @ 8:16 pm on November 19th 2008

100 Spoilers in Five Minutes

You’ve been warned.

H/t: Dizzy

Posted by Brad @ 7:48 pm on November 19th 2008

Kerry to Head Senate Foreign Relations Committee

In addition to being the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Interior, apparantly. Man that guy’s got a full plate.

More than three decades after he first appeared before the panel as a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran-turned-antiwar protester, Senator John F. Kerry is widely expected to be named the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position that will give him enormous influence over international relations.

The pending announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which congressional aides said could come as early as today, would elevate Kerry to the top of the foreign policy establishment and give him a major role in shaping President-elect Barack Obama’s foreign policy priorities.

Kerry, 64, who was elected to a fifth term in the US Senate from Massachusetts earlier this month, will be officially handed the gavel when the new congressional session convenes in January, according to multiple Capitol Hill sources. He will replace the outgoing chairman, Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Posted by Brad @ 7:39 pm on November 19th 2008

Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy

Apropos of nothing.

Posted by Brad @ 7:16 pm on November 19th 2008

Finally, Missouri

The one state I got wrong in my own predictions. AP calls it for McCain.

More than two weeks after Election Day, the Associated Press today declared John McCain the winner in Missouri, a hotly contested Republican-leaning state where McCain and President-elect Barack Obama both campaigned hard.

McCain leads Obama by 3,632 votes with all jurisdictions reporting, according to unofficial results, a difference of .12 percentage points out of more than 2.9 million votes cast, the AP reports.

Its reign as bellwether state of the 20th century is now over.

In other news, ex-Senator Stevens has finally conceded. Minnesota recount started today. Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney in Georgia campaigning for Jim Martin and Saxby Chambliss, respectively, for that Dec. 15th runoff.

Posted by Brad @ 7:00 pm on November 19th 2008

Under the Radar Appointments

Per Ambinder, David Axelrod will be senior adviser to the President (think Karl Rove with less institutional power), Greg Craig will be White House Counsel, Chris Lu (Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s) will be Cabinet Secretary, and Lisa Brown will be Staff Secretary.

On the last, Ambinder notes:

Lisa Brown, a former White House counsel for Al Gore and currently the executive director of the American Constitution Society, will be Staff Secretary, where she’ll be tasked with managing the flow of information and paper to and from President Obama. The name of the job — “staff secretary” — it at odds with its importance. Brown will have more face time with Obama than just about any other White House staffer.

Note, she’s a constitutionalist. Of sorts.

Bios after the jump.

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Posted by Brad @ 5:25 pm on November 19th 2008

McCain Had Mixed Martial Arts…

Obama wants to “throw his weight around” the college football scheme.

Posted by Brad @ 5:17 pm on November 19th 2008

If You Think the Airlines Losing Your Luggage is Bad…

How about when they lose grandma?

Posted by Brad @ 5:06 pm on November 19th 2008

Your Republican Leadership

The Republican caucus had their leadership elections today. The results (outgoing folks in parentheses):

• Minority Leader: Rep. John Boehner, OH-8 (re-elected)
• Minority Whip: Rep. Eric Cantor, VA-7 (Roy Blunt)
• Conference Chairman: Rep. Mike Pence, IN-6 (Adam Putnam)
• Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, MI-11 (re-elected)
• Conference Vice-Chair: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, WA-5 (Kay Granger)
• Conference Secretary: Rep. John Carter, TX-31 (re-elected)
• NRCC Chairman: Rep. Pete Sessions, TX-32 (Tom Cole)

“House Republicans will rebuild our majority coalition by winning the issues that Americans care about most, one issue at a time,” said Boehner, according to a released statement. “We demonstrated our ability to do this last summer when we stood with the American people for more American energy and lower gas prices, and won the issue. President-elect Obama has expressed a desire to govern from the center. At times, his party will make it difficult for him to do this. When he extends his hand in good faith to put the needs of the country first, Republicans will extend ours in return.”

Posted by Brad @ 3:39 pm on November 19th 2008

Where Did the Libertarian Party Go Wrong?

A post-mortem of Barr’s campaign from Brian Doherty.

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on November 19th 2008

2008’s Biggest Losers

So, as the year winds down, and the Bush administration with it, I’m probably be going to do a fair amount of retrospective-type posts here and there, putting final word to a number of things before it’s on to the new things.

One thing I’ve been kicking around is a poll or just a contest naming 2008’s Biggest Losers. Really, it’ll include campaign stuff, so more like mid-2007 on. But I thought it might be fun, so I’m opening up the floor for nominations.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain and George W. Bush strike me as too easy, and this isn’t like a reverse of Time’s People of the Year (and really, McCain, and Palin and Clinton too for that matter, probably rose just as much if not more as they fell). To put that another way, I’m less interested in the Biggest Losers as defined by gross loseitude, and more on net losetude. Maybe that’ll be more clear as I offer a few nominations of my own. And, strictly speaking, it’s not confined to the period in question, just that their fall was in that period. Also, extra points if people managed to claw their way into Loserdom without the benefit of scandal (sorry Ted Stevens)(one big exception to this, though).

Please contribute your nominees and argue your case. What I may do is take, say, the six best, write a profile of each (and their loserness), and then do a poll or something if Adam can figure that out and in mid-December award somebody the first annual Crossed Pond Loser of the Year award.

A few of my own nominations, which inspired this post.

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