Thursday, November 6, 2008

Seeing is Believing -- Electoral Results Using Cartograms

Check this out. This site uses mapping techniques to show, proportionately, how blue and how red the United States is, according to population, electoral college votes, etc. Super interesting. The cartogram above uses red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes by county. There are more cartograms on the site. All are worth taking a look at.

Nick's Photo From the Richmond Parade on Election Night 2008

Here it is. Taken with a shaky cell phone. But you can still see all the kids, some of them holding up signs, heading down Broad Street.

Gettin' Down Just For The Funk Of It . . .

Today's suggestion. That we keep the Star Spangled Banner -- because who can't resist the charm of a national anthem with a tune so difficult no-one can really sing it properly -- but add Funkadelic's "One Nation Under a Groove." We could have the traditional option. And the cool option. Just thinking out loud . . .

The Bias Belt

Here is a map of counties where McCain outpolled Bush. Look at the trail of red going south, along the ridges of the Appalachian mountains. It's the Bias Belt -- as in racial bias. Look at Arkansas! It's almost completely filled in. That Obama didn't win the traditional democratic states of West Virginia and Arkansas suggests that racial bias did play a role in the election -- just not a determining one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can I Say Again How Much I Love This Man?

From a Newsweek roundup of campaign highlights.

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

Unicorn. Rainbow. Puppy

You know where this unicorn flying over the rainbow with a puppy on its back is going, right? Straight to the White House. Malia and Sasha -- here's your new puppy. Awwwwww!!

Obama Good For Truckers, Pilots, etc.

Not to be a buzzkill, with all the excitment going on and everything, but let's take a minute to shift a gear and steer into a little policy discussion. Obama has promised to establish a National Infrastructure Investment Bank. What does that mean? Read this from a guest blogger.

The Deal

My husband doesn't like flying the American flag. He says it's a symbol of imperialism. But I'm a patriot, and for me, flying the flag is a symbol of my pride in this country and the principles upon which it was founded, in spite of the fact that they've sometimes been shabbily implemented or ignored. I believe in them. When I lived in Maryland, I flew the flag on national holidays, but when I moved to Virginia, since my husband's feelings were stronger than mine, I put the flag away. So, during the election, I made a deal with him. If Barack won the election, we'd fly the flag because it would represent the realization of something truly great in America. A potential fulfilled. So, here I am with our flag. This is one of the best deals I've made in a long time.

They elected Barack Obama and all I got was this crappy T-shirt

Seriously, though. How cute is this? Via Getty Images.

Richmond, Virginia last night

Shortly after 11pm, after CNN had called the election and announced that Virginia was going for Barack, I got phone calls from my two sons. The first called from Clemson, South Carolina to let me know that "we'd won." We talked a bit about South Carolina and how eventually, they'd get there too.

My other son called from Richmond, where he's a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, and he told me that the students there were flooding the streets, singing, yelling, beeping car horns, setting off fireworks, etc. A half hour later he called me to let me know that he was in the middle of an impromptu parade, that they'd shut down six lanes of traffic on Broad Street, and were marching together toward the Capitol. When they got there, the crowd stopped and sang The Star Spangled Banner.

The significance of this celebration, in Richmond, in the state of Virginia, where our nation was founded, in a city that was built on the slave trade and slave labor in the tobacco plantations of the Old Dominion, was almost overwhelming. Nick said, "We've come full circle."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First to vote in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

My friend Jo Ann, the very first to vote in her precinct at PS #29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York. She was there before the school fireman (that's what they call the main superintendent) and the poll workers. She had a fellow voter behind her take her picture at the voting booth so that she could always remember this historic day.

Discouraging student voters at Virginia Tech

From Politico's The Arena:

"More than 5,600 people, mainly Virginia Tech students, are registered to vote at precinct E1 in Blacksburg of Montgomery County in Virginia. That number is nearly double what the state law allows for polling stations and the lack of an additional polling station is causing substantial delays. In addition, the polling place is 6.5 miles away from campus at a tiny church located off the main road. There is no street sign marking the turn off to the one lane road. There are 30 parking spots for the thousands of voters expected to turn up at precinct E1.

A few months ago in Montgomery County, the registrar of elections issued a statement warning college students that if they registered to vote at school, they could forfeit scholarships, lose health and carinsurance and negatively effect their parents' tax status. The registrar retracted the statement when it was disproved by the Internal Revenue Service, major media outlets, legal and voting rights experts and health insurance companies."

My wife made me canvass for Obama; here's what I learned

First person story about canvassing from, of all places, the Christian Science Monitor.

The gist:

"I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."

It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.

It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.

I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.

I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways. "

What a difference two years makes . . .

Exactly two years ago, SurveyUSA completed interviews with 600 voters in every state (30,000 total interviews), asking them how they would vote in a 2008 Presidential Election between John McCain and Barack Obama

What a surprise!

Virginia election officials warn of phony calls about polling places

I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More

From a guest blogger

I recently got an email from Cox cable telling me that they want me to upgrade my modem. I was good with that because it’s their network, and they know what works best - or at least they should. If they want to replace my original modem for free and it helps streamline their network, why should I complain?

I followed instructions to the letter but it didn’t work. I tried for an hour to make it happen, but because I wasn’t interested in spending another hour on the phone with one of their service people, I emailed them a note saying that if they want me to use the new modem, they will have to send a technician to my house.

I know a lot about computers and networking, but why should I spend my time doing their work?

This is a very common practice among technology companies. They expect users to do their fine tuning. They send a new product to market, software in particular, and wait for comments to come rolling in. They incorporate these fixes and send out patches and updates or even new software.

To thwart this, I always wait a few weeks to upgrade any software or suggested hardware because I know there will be patches or alterations coming along, the result of users bringing problems to the company's attention. I waited the usual several weeks after the modem arrived, didn’t get a follow-up email, and then installed it. My system isn’t fool proof.

From the company’s perspective, it’s free R&D. They get non-employees to do work without pay. I’m tired of this attitude. Get the product right and don’t expect me to troubleshoot it for you. We don’t tolerate this attitude in other consumer products, so why do we tolerate it for computers, software and internet-related services?

(Microsoft wonders why people aren’t flocking to Vista. This is why.)

If I hear from Cox cable, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I put back my old modem and it works fine. It’s their loss, not mine.

A New Citizen Casts Her Vote

A friend of ours, originally from Scotland, who became a citizen last year, casting her first vote in a U.S. Presidential election in Bethesda, Maryland. Look at the happiness!!!!

First person report from swing state Virginia

From Politico

Susan Brophy, Democratic strategist:
I am doing Obama visibility with three friends and here's the report from the corner of George Mason Drive and Leesburg Pike in Arlington: about 35% of the people beeped in support of Obama, from all walks of life, although there seemed to be slighly more support going south; three people gave us the finger and three people gave us thumbs down; Obama seemed to have a lot of support from Fed Ex drivers and people who were driving and talking on their cellphones simultaneously; one Obama supporter threw Snickers at us, which at this time appear not to be tainted. We are changing locations because we have been promoted to door-knockers.

Down so low

It's one thing to hear about Bush's declining approval ratings, it's a whole other thing to see it in a graphic. Damn! That is one hell of a downward slide.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I picked this image up from Jezebel. It pretty much sums up how I have felt about this election from the beginning, and by the beginning, I mean 18 months ago. This is one of the rare instances in my life where I've felt absolutely sure about something without any doubts or anxieties or unsureness. I knew that Obama would beat Hillary Clinton, and then go on to trounce John McCain. It was one of those gut feelings that you can't ignore. I figured that once people got to know him, got to take his measure, they would think and feel exactly as I did, that here was someone who was so extraordinary, there was no other response except to say, "Yes." So, don't say anything to me about how you're worried, that you don't want to think that he can win because if he loses it will be too devastating. Just. Believe.

Just another reason

why I love Barack. The man has common sense. F' real!
From a recent MTV interview.

Sway: I know people have piercings, tattoos. Eric, in particular, is talking about a ban on sagging pants. Do feel like people should be penalized?

Obama: Here is my attitude: I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq, and anybody, any public official, that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face, that you don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear — I'm one of them.