Electoral Votes

I’ve been watching the Electoral Vote predictor with interest the last few days. As I mentioned previously, its methodology may be questionable, but it’s interesting, and it’s probably no more wrong than any other polls. I really don’t have much faith in the ability of any of them to predict a race this close when it’s getting harder and harder for pollsters to reach a reliable cross-section of voters. A friend recently commented that “the only people they’re talking to are old people without caller-ID”. That may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but it’s definitely true that calling listed landline telephones is no longer a good way to reach a representative sample of the population. But I’m digressing. What caught my eye today was Ohio.

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Halloween Hunt

No tricks today, just a treat. For the first time in three weeks, the weather was decent and Arthur had four shoes. It’s been a problem getting both of those to occur at the same time. So today, nothing was going to keep me out of the saddle, not even a request from the Champagne Run gang to help with Octoberfest. (Actually, with the proper incentive, they might have been able to talk me out of hunting, but there’s not much chance of that). So I knocked some of the mud off of Arthur and headed out, sadly once again skipping the slight detour to pick up Bro and his horse.

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You call that a bargain?

Today’s Kernel had a story about Student Government’s “Ballot Bash”, an event to encourage students to vote in next week’s election. I’m all in favor of inciting political enthusiasm in the younger generation (unless they’re Republicans), but, in spite of the positive spin from the organizers and the reporter, crunching the numbers in that story would make any career politician cringe.

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Shock and Awe

As Election 2004 enters its final week, the Tatertown yard sign wars are escalating. The Bush-Cheney forces up the road have made a somewhat tactical retreat, moving their tire-scarred sign back farther from the road’s edge and between a couple of shrubs. The new location hardly looks like adequate protection from a Dodge 3500 4×4 with the macho pipe grill on the front (no, it’s not mine), but maybe the Dodge driver is displaying a sense of sportsmanship in acknowledging the retreat and avoiding collateral damage. Meanwhile, I noticed yesterday that one of my Kerry/Edwards signs had disappeared. This is no major defeat; in fact, today’s replacement supply run was quite a pleasant task. The local Democrat HQ is a perfect distance from campus for a vigorous lunch-hour walk on a beautiful autumn day, and the walk back to campus, pleasantly acknowledging all the approving remarks from attractive enlightened individuals compatible with my sign, was positively uplifting. In spite of that, it’s not really an errand I wish to have to repeat this week, so I began contemplating techniques for reducing the new sign’s likelihood of going astray, and I was inspired by a single word: “Polywire”. I can see the gleam in the eyes of farm-savvy readers.

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Interesting Poll Site

Somebody alerted me to an interesting electoral poll website. This guy is combining lots of individual state polls to predict the outcome of each state, and projecting that into a total electoral vote prediction. I’m not a statistician, so I don’t know how valid this kind of process is, but it’s interesting. I guess the most obvious problem is that so many states are so close that a small polling error can throw the state the other way and make a big difference in the totals. Regardless of its accuracy, or lack thereof, it’s an interesting source of information (and humor), and I think I’ll be keeping an eye on it for the next couple of weeks.

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New Toy

Nope, not the iPod I just got, although that’s cool too. The latest is much cheaper and potentially cooler: a universal TV zapper . When I saw the story, I wanted one. When I saw the price, I ordered one. Stay tuned for details of its effectiveness. I can think of a lot of places that could use a little more quiet. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so; the product site is having bandwidth problems.

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Google Saves a Hostage?

From Baghdad, Chris Albritton describes the kidnapping and release of his friend, John Martinkus, an Australian reporter.
Martinkus was released after persuading his captors that he was not American, a fact which they apparently confirmed by Googling him. (Wasn’t the accent enough, or do Australians and Americans sound alike to Iraqis?) Besides the Google angle, Albritton’s report provides a somewhat more chilling description of life for Westerners in Iraq than we usually get from the corporate media.

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Windows for Warships?

Unfortunately, “Windows for Warships” is not the latest computer game, or even just a bad joke. A recent article in Scotland’s Sunday Herald describes the concerns of a naval software engineer about the British Royal Navy’s use of Windows for combat management software. The capitalized phrase “Windows for Warships” really raised my eyebrows, indicating that this might actually be a common implementation. Further fuelling my fears, a quick Google search for that phrase yields more hits than I even want to think about reading. I think it’s been a couple of years since I read about a billion-dollar US warship that had to be towed back to port after Windows crashed, but I’m too lazy to look up any references to it right now. It’s really scary to see this kind of insanity continuing.

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