Monday, November 1, 2004

Prince Prydz Price

Political debates should always be held on Halloween:

The Yahoo caption follows:

Democrat Cheryl Rivers, left, stares at Liberty Union party candidate Peter Stevenson, who wore a Halloween costume, as Stevenson speaks during Vermont Public Television's Lieutenant Governor candidates debate Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004, in Colchester, Vt. (AP Photo/Alden Pellett)
Heh. I've never heard of the Liberty Union Party. That's one way to get attention.

Posted by mike at 07:43 AM | Decision 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I Will Not be Your Monkey

The people at Frontline's Presidential Market are betting pretty heavily that Kerry will win. The Iowa Electronic Markets page seems to be leaning the other direction, though.

This thing seems to defy any sort of prediction based on past patterns, partly because a few are in conflict. Presidents with 4-letter last names generally (always?) only serve for one 4-year term. On the other hand, presidents running for re-election in years ending with the digit ‘4’ have either won or not run, going all the way back to about 1824. Going against Bush, well, the Redskins won. Also, presidents elected after another who had served two terms usually only last for one.

Well, people used to believe in Tecumseh's curse, but that one pretty much died out—though perhaps only because of modern medical technology.

Posted by mike at 04:27 PM | Decision 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Aqui Wins!

Cool and dreary out, but still,

I voted

Now I just have to pretend to do work until the end of the day. Bleh.

Posted by mike at 09:40 AM | Decision 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hi Chad

Early exit polling data has leaked out. If early numbers hold, it is likely Kerry will win by a significant margin. Looks a lot like what was predicted on electoral-vote.com, actually. Early exit polls are always unreliable, though (but they usually overly favor Republican candidates).

Posted by mike at 01:53 PM | Decision 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They Say I'm Crazy

Well, I'm going to bed. At the moment, I am thinking what was printed on the shirt of a guy who flashed the CNN folks at the NASDAQ center:

FUCK THIS SHIT

Posted by mike at 11:40 PM | Decision 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

I couldn't really work yesterday. I'm going to have to discard most of the hours I'd hoped to work up until now this week because of election stuff. I tried to concentrate a bit yesterday afternoon, but just needed to clear my head. I wandered downtown, half expecting to see protesters (there were none), and took the train down to Minnehaha Park as I often do. I almost got distracted enough to miss that stop, but the vocal message piped over the speakers reminded me just in time. The park was nearly empty, which you'd expect for the middle of a weekday.

Well, people have been pushing around all sorts of things to show how the “blue” states are better than the “red” states. The best thing I've seen so far is a comparison of education. These are real number from the 2000 census. I got them from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/. The number is the percentage of state residents older than 25 who have a Bachelor's degree or better:

State/District%
D.C.39.1
Massachusetts33.2
Colorado32.7
Connecticut31.4
Maryland31.4
New Jersey29.8
Virginia29.5
Vermont29.4
New Hampshire28.7
Washington27.7
Minnesota27.4
New York27.4
California26.6
Hawaii26.2
Illinois26.1
Utah26.1
Kansas25.8
Rhode Island25.6
Oregon25.1
Delaware25.0
Alaska24.7
Montana24.4
Georgia24.3
Nebraska23.7
Arizona23.5
New Mexico23.5
State/District%
Texas23.2
Maine22.9
North Carolina22.5
Pennsylvania22.4
Wisconsin22.4
Florida22.3
North Dakota22.0
Wyoming21.9
Michigan21.8
Idaho21.7
Missouri21.6
South Dakota21.5
Iowa21.2
Ohio21.1
South Carolina20.4
Oklahoma20.3
Tennessee19.6
Indiana19.4
Alabama19.0
Louisiana18.7
Nevada18.2
Kentucky17.1
Mississippi16.9
Arkansas16.7
West Virginia14.8

I doubt this truly has any bearing on real intelligence, just the fact that people haven't been challenged enough in their lives to see the big picture. We need a Brother Jed of Democratic values. Education is also a reason why I have been bringing up the idea of hosting discussions in parks and other public spaces, where anybody can put their voice in. It's a simple and free way of getting people to learn.

Posted by mike at 05:31 PM | Decision 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, November 5, 2004

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Ugh. I'm going to have to disable comments on my site. The spam is just getting to be unmanageable.

Posted by mike at 10:19 AM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 6, 2004

The Body Electorate

Well, I think I have little choice but to get political these days. I'm considering doing meetups or other things with the Democratic party, though that's another step here.

Probably the first thing I'll do is go to my neighborhood association meeting on Tuesday. I don't want to get too political there, but I just want to get involved and hopefully mention my idea of having people host political discussions in parks and other places around the neighborhood.

Next off, I plan to talk to some people in the Independence Party. They're nominally “centrist,” but I think it's more complex than that. Everyone seems to be thinking that the Democrats need to become more socially conservative. In some ways, that might be true. However, as this episode of This American Life shows, Republicans aren't a 100% cohesive group like you might think. Interestingly, they seem to think that lefties are as unwavering as we often think they are, and believe that theirs is the party of “inclusion.” Certainly, they probably aren't as socially liberal as people might hope, but they're definitely a lot more accepting than people fear.

Now, with that in mind, I bring up an interesting article on Slate: "Why Americans Hate Democrats—A Dialogue: The unteachable ignorance of the red states." According to Blogdex, it appears that Bush-backing bloggers are bashing this left and right (er, mostly right ;-) . Now, I would agree that it goes too far on some counts, but there is a grain of truth to it. I certainly believe that right-wingers are more likely to pull out the dirty tricks and hit below the belt. Yeah, it's a generalization—not everyone is like that. Anyway, the main conclusion that I saw there is that folks on the liberal side have to point out these tricks and exaggerations every time they come up. And if we are going to be able to avoid the “whiner” label, I think we have to call ourselves on it too. That may be the only way to gain the respect of the other side.

There was an interesting dissection of Bush's first post-election press conference in The Washington Post. There was a little discussion about the reporters supposedly not listening to “the will of the people” because some of them asked more than one question. Well, perhaps that was just a bad joke (if it was, he needs better writers). Interestingly, Bush also dodged questions relating to issues such as the Supreme Court, the cost of the war in Iraq, and the coming/now here military offensive against Fallujah.

As many of the reporters observed, Bush wants to paint a rosy picture and doesn't want to get bogged down in little details like how much things are actually going to cost. He speaks so vaguely that, well, it sounds good (or at least not bad). But when you're coming up on the time when baby boomers will be retiring, explaining how you'll pay for Social Security is kind of important.

The biggest problem is that Bush wants to make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, which effectively makes balancing the budget a mathematical impossibility. We are currently hovering around a $7+ trillion national debt ceiling, and the government might go through another one of those shutdowns if the limit isn't raised again. I wonder how many small-government Republicans voted for Bush.

Well, to end today's entry, I'll come out and say that I did end up voting for Nader. One of a whopping 16 people in my precinct to do so (out of nearly 2300 people). Well, that's who the NPR candidate selector recommended, anyway ;-) Interestingly, the other day I took one of those silly online tests that people make and it called me a socially liberal Republican (like Rudy Giuliani, supposedly). Not sure I believe that one.

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Correlate Collaborate Collate

The blogosphere continues to examine the idea that the exit polls on election day were right and the actual votes were wrong. I find this hard to believe, as it require massive voting fraud, but I'm willing to examine any real evidence that is put before me. One of the more striking observations is the fact that rural Florida voters appear to have voted strongly against their own party identification, according to this site and PDFs on the Florida Secretary of State's website.

If you take the numbers at face value, you find outliers such as Liberty County, Florida, a tiny county with about 7000 residents, supposedly registered as 88% Democrat and just 8% Republican. The county went for Bush 64% to 35%.

I was shocked to see that, but then I started thinking, “rural counties are supposed to be mostly Republican, aren't they?” So, I dug a little deeper. I saw that the demographics of the county made it mostly white, with a few blacks. It made sense to me at that point that the registration numbers must have just been switched—most of the whites were probably actually Republicans and the blacks were probably mostly Democrats. I opened up this PDF and the numbers came up like this:

Liberty County Voter Registration by Party and Race
PartyWhiteBlackOther
Republican303413
Democrat318137343

Going by the conventional wisdom that blacks generally identify themselves as Democrats, this would seem to tell me that only the registrations of white people got flipped around. However, these numbers don't just follow this pattern for this election. Previous elections in 2004 (such as the primaries) and registration data going back to 1994 has a similar count (however, one PDF for 1994 was generated in 2002).

Still, if the Republican and Democrat registrations for white people were flipped around, you'd end up with a county about 76% Republican and 15% Democrat. Considering that Republicans are much less likely to ditch their candidate than Democrats are, I would have expected the county to go for Bush by about 80% to 20% rather than 64% to 35% as it did. However unlikely it may seem, it appears somewhat more likely that the vote tallies for Liberty County were reversed, and the people there actually voted for Kerry.

This was a place where people apparently used optical-scan machines (like here in Minnesota), rather than the e-voting machines that have grabbed headlines during this election. If someone was going to commit fraud, they'd try to do it where people weren't looking, right?

Here's an article on CommonDreams.org that points to this conclusion as well.

I'm halfway thinking that I'll have to do an informal survey of Liberty County myself by calling 10 or 20 people, just to see which numbers are wrong (or, heck, the unlikely possibility that a Democratic region voted largely Republican for some reason).

Posted by mike at 12:23 PM | Decision 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Don't You Know That the Boys From Brazil Are All Little Hitlers?

With my computer's hard drive failures, the foreshocks and aftershocks of the election, and my grandfather dying all in the last two weeks, I've been rather unsettled. Add to that the fact that I haven't been paid, and I'm a bit disgruntled.

At least I watched some comedy DVDs recently. Of course, one was a romantic comedy, so I have that resonating and making me feel lonely, which always happens when I watch those movies. Having someone around sure would have helped these last few weeks.

Posted by mike at 11:23 PM | Decision 2004 , Family , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Death and Taxes

Ultra-lefty columnist Ted Rall (and I only use the “ultra-” prefix because I believe he exaggerates reality a bit too often) has an article that about half of the country would love, and about half would hate. A lot of what he says is stuff we knew already. I guess I feel something similar about my life, having grown up in a town that is fairly Republican, according to voting patterns. I guess I didn't really feel it when I was growing up. Teachers seem to be more liberal, so except perhaps for my English teachers, most of them seemed to accept a wider view of the world. But, I can't say for certain what they thought.

Given the seemingly bizarre situation that I mentioned about the rural areas of Florida where Democrats seem to vote Republican, I think it is important for presidential candidates to acknowledge that Midwesterners and other folks away from the coasts don't really like their lack of influence asserted over the national media and whatever. Even the “Second City” of Chicago doesn't get the treatment it deserves.

I've been thinking that the national news outlets need to start putting bureaus in places other than just Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. I mentioned Chicago, and that might be okay. Of course, CNN has Atlanta, which is good and bad. I wouldn't say that the perspective of Midwesterners is one of the uneducated or of the racist. Space and time seems to mean something different. Driving for an hour is a different experience and has a different purpose in Minnesota than in Massachusetts.

Well, I guess I'm forgoing logic here and falling into the territory of emotion. So, it's a good segue into talking about last night's episode of Frontline: “The Persuaders.” It was certainly interesting and unsettling, just as it was meant to be. The last half hour (the show was 90 minutes) focused on the usage of advertising in the political arena. They introduce the guy who came up with the phrase “death tax” instead of “estate tax” and changed “global warming” to “climate change.” Suddenly the reasons for why the political campaign was all about phrases with vacuous meaning rather than actual plans.

I was thinking the other night about how I was really impressed with Ross Perot in 1992. That man had a plan, and he explained it. Remember those flash cards with graphs and pie charts? Of course, the taxes he planned probably would have sent the economy into a tail spin, but a remarkable number of people enjoyed the fact that he had ideas and was willing to explain them.

Posted by mike at 09:47 AM | Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Titanium

Rumor has it that Phase II of the Hiawatha Line might open about a week early so that people can use it to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving at the MoA.

There's an odd intersection next to the Bloomington Central station. It's odd because there are no roads connected to it. There are the regular signals and they have the red/yellow/green lights in them, but there isn't anything to signal. I guess they must be pre-planning for the big Bloomington Central project where there will be a huge apartment/commercial structure.

Posted by mike at 07:36 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Revolución

Stolen from LiveJournal's thedailyshow community:

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the lightbulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are delusional spin from the liberal media. That lightbulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effort. Why do you hate freedom?

Posted by mike at 07:41 PM | Comedy | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, November 12, 2004

Layer Cake

Today's Republican annoyance: complaining about Democrats blocking nominees for Federal judges. Fortunately, at least one reporter brings up a nice point in an opening paragraph of their story today:

Democrats used the threat of a filibuster to block 10 of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts. The Senate did confirm more than 200 of the president's choices.
Now, I don't know about you, but being picky of less than 5% of the choices seems completely reasonable to me.

Hmm. Somehow, I didn't finish this up at all this morning. Okay, let me continue…

WCCO ran an exposé on Metro Transit. Oh no! They have a safety record five times better than the national average! Whatever will we do? Apparently complain. Well, I do agree with the fact that the drivers are overworked and underpaid these days. The system needs a steadier source of income. It always strikes me as odd that the gasoline tax is part of the Minnesota state constitution. Some of those funds should be dedicated to transit, so that the lawmakers aren't bickering about funding every year or two and so that Metro Transit can actually plan ahead.

Anyway, I lot my job today. Not totally unexpected. Well, at least I've been getting calls about people semi-interested in hiring me lately…

I watched The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension this evening. Apparently most people like the movie and rank it up there with Back to the Future. Okay, maybe not all the way up there, but in the same general category. To me, it was trash, and I want those 102 minutes of my life back. Well, I never saw it as a kid, so maybe I just don't have that soft spot for it.

Posted by mike at 07:49 PM | Movies , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 13, 2004

John Bigbooté

I got up early this morning because the landlord said he had to come into my apartment to fiddle with a valve for the heat. As far as I know, he didn't. I ended up leaving two hours after he was expected so that I could drop off my work equipment and keys at the office.

I got back home and decided to head out, hopefully to do some early Christmas shopping at the MoA, or maybe just get some ideas for something good but thrifty. Yeah, the Mall isn't the best place for that. Anyway, I'd also had the thought in my head to go find the Midtown Greenway. At first, I expected to just go on the train for a short hop down to Lake Street and get off to look for the trail, but all of the Gopher fans piled on and I didn't feel like pushing through everyone to get out.

I decided to just go down to Fort Snelling and do the Mall first. Unfortunately, the shuttle bus was majorly delayed, partly because of the stupid signal timing there and the pile of folks trying to get out of the park and ride lot. So, after 25 minutes or so, I just got back on the train and did the Greenway. I didn't really expect to go very far on it, but when I get going, I tend to walk a long way. I ended up going from the recently-completed east end all the way down past Hennepin Avenue near the western terminus.

I wandered into the Uptown Lund's and was wowed by their produce department, yet disturbed by the fishy smell coming from, well, fish. (Hey, if Alton Brown says fish isn't supposed to smell like that…) Anyway, I thought I'd just get a snack there, but I ended up doing the double-cheeseburger-and-two-apple-pie meal for $2.14. I missed a couple of the buses that could have taken me straight home and ended up on the 28 instead, which stops on the north end of downtown.

But hey, while I was wandering over to Nicollet Mall and pondering when a bus to get me across the river might come, I happened to look up and see a shooting star. That was pretty neat. It was a light as bright as the other airplanes flying around, so I thought it was a plane until it winked out of existence an instant later.

I ended up just walking home. Another good thing about not getting a direct bus was the fact that I remembered to go by the grocery store to get some food. Got some Marie Calender dinners since my mom has recomended them, and discovered that Rick's has started carrying Pagoda egg rolls.

Mmm. Pagoda.

Then I got home and discovered there wasn't anything on TV, so I watched Election. Reese Witherspoon is just so *perky* ;-)

Posted by mike at 09:03 PM | Food , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 14, 2004

24 Hour Party People

After being nearly unreachable for about a month, Wikipedia is running decently again. We'll see how long that lasts. The current page count 394,660. Just a few days to the 400k mark. Wow.

Hmm. The Vikings are at Green Bay today? I guess I can try my mall trip again.

Posted by mike at 12:20 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, November 19, 2004

Kabyr

I have an interview scheduled for November 30th at the U. We'll see how that goes. The interview (and presumably the job) is at WBOB, which is just about the least accessible place from my apartment, due to the placement of the river and the Interstate.

Listening to BBC Radio 1 online will probably induce me to get a record player at some point, so I can play some 12s. Yeesh. Of course, that would require me to have actual space in my apartment. Well, they still play way too much rap/hip-hop for my tastes. Sometimes I can handle it, but in wears on me pretty quickly.

I'm getting curious about what Minnesota Public Radio plans to do with WCAL. The sale was finalized today, although it's not really clear if they have paid for it. The SaveWCAL folks have managed to get St. Paul to do another hearing about some bonding money the city was going to use for the sale.

Anyway, I did make some comments talking about what I'd like in the station. Since I haven't heard a selection of music I like on Twin Cities radio for a long time, I want a place that plays good new music, and hopefully with some dance/electronica/name-your-genre stuff. I want a place that will play Radiohead tracks other than “Creep,” and Cure tracks other than “Friday I'm in Love,” and … It's really doubtful they'd go that route, but it's still fun to think about.

There's a lot of other stuff I like as well but don't get much exposure to. I suppose bluegrass would be an example. Unfortunately, I think that the attempts stations like Radio K and KFAI make at this sort of diversity fall a bit flat. I suppose I'm just brainwashed by our corporate media (heh).

The Edge overplayed a lot of stuff, and I never really got a chance to sample Rev 105, so I don't know if I would have liked that or not, but I think they did a lot of community stuff that is missing around here. One of my main suggestions was that a new station should give artists a place to do live performances on a regular basis rather than the once-a-month stuff we get these days. How else can I get to know these bands when I have no money to go out? ;-)

Posted by mike at 06:00 PM | Music , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, November 22, 2004

Call Upon in Supplication

My activities for tomorrow will probably involve going to Best Buy to purchase Gwen Stefani's album, and then hopefully getting the oil changed in my car.

I should try to assemble a birthday wish list, but not having much money makes that difficult, since I don't think about what I want (other than having money, a job, or a girlfriend).

I wrote a Wikipedia article on Radio K today. It's probably not really accurate, but I'm not really a historian.

Posted by mike at 11:12 PM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Monsieur Incroyable!

Well, I'm back from Byron. At least the weather didn't impede our travel at all. Since Brian was in class through Wednesday afternoon, we headed up on Thursday. U.S. 52 was pretty busy both going there and coming back, but the major construction seems to have finished, so we didn't get slowed down very much. The highway folks have an inconsistency in their speed limits between Rosemount and Coates. Northbound, they raise the speed limit to 65 for a few miles, but it stays 60 southbound from the merge with highway 55 on south through Coates. Hard to say if they'll make the whole stretch 65 again, since 52 isn't limited access the whole way there, but it had been worse in the past…

We went to see The Incredibles (again, for my brother and me) on Friday, watched some Rocky and Bullwinkle and worked on a puzzle on Saturday, and went to the first Sunady in our church's new sanctuary. I wonder if they timed it to be done at the beginning of the church year (today is the First Sunday in Advent). Being Lutheran, it's nice, but not too nice.

We did my birthday today. I got a DVD and some money. Well, I guess my mom bought me some clothes on Friday that works out to be my Birthday gift this year (really not too bad, since I haven't felt financially stable enough to do much more than buy new socks for quite a while).

Well, I probably should have checked to see if any of my high school friends were in town, but I guess Thanksgiving is to be spent more with family than others. That and the fact that I'm just too nervous to call people.

Posted by mike at 06:27 PM | Car , Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Stalking Mary Richards

I came across an archive of the last few hours of WLOL on 99.5 FM back in 1991. I was 12 years old and lived on the edge of the station's broadcast range, so I can't say I really cared at the time. I still don't care all that much, as I've pretty much held the opinion that 80s music should stay gone (though they did make many selections that would stand up today aside from the 80s ballads—yeaagh!)

Kind of remarkable how things seemed to repeat themselves this year with WCAL, though there's the significant difference of WCAL going from one classical format to another, while WLOL was going from pop/top-40 to classical. Strangely, WLOL had also been classical up until 1981 when competition from Minnesota Public Radio caused it to change format. 99.5 was bought in 1991 for $12.5 million (from a financially troubled company, it seems), and KSJN moved from another frequency (possibly 90.1, but I'm not sure) to 99.5. At any rate, it sounds like it was sort of drawn out, like the WCAL debacle this year.

I haven't seen much reportage on WCAL in the last few days, but $10.5 million has either changed hands, or will within the next two weeks. The papers are already signed, though. Again, I didn't really pay attention to WCAL. There will be more yelling in January when MPR starts the new format, though. They've only said that it will be music-oriented and target a “younger audience,” which could mean anything. I wouldn't be surprised if they resurrected the WLOL call sign (though I guess it's funny to mention that WLOL is being used on AM for a religious broadcaster at the moment, strangely enough on the 1330 frequecy where the station started back in 1939).

WLOL-FM probably retains the title of best studio location, though. They were at the top of the IDS tower. Can't beat that, at least in Minnesota.

Posted by mike at 05:15 AM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jimmy Jammed His Finger

Agh! I want to know what MPR is going to do with WCAL. I'm way too excited to find out, meaning I'll probably hate it. They won't tell us what it is for another week or three. Hopefully it will turn out to be good, and maybe there will be enough people who are happy to do away with ads that they'll shell out some cash each year to keep it funded. I'll take a good radio station as a (slightly-past-)Christmas present anytime.

The Arbitron ratings for the Twin Cities are disturbing. A country station is #3. Clear Channel clearly has the dominant position in the market, even though self-respecting people only seem to listen to one of their stations (yeah, I'm biased). Of course, they don't list public stations in the free numbers on their website.

People are sheep.

Not that I'm a major exception or anything, though I do try to make decisions based on actual facts rather than brands/marketing/the blessing of God.

Posted by mike at 09:16 PM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack