Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not the way I wanted the state marching band championship to make the news

WOOD-TV has the disturbing news.

24 incidents in 2 weeks.

I find this doubly disturbing. First, I used to live near the affected stretch of freeway and used to drive along it to work at least four days a week. In fact, when I take field trips with my geology classes, the bus route goes right from one end of the hazardous zone to the other.

Second, I used to be a marching band judge for the association holding the state championship.
In what seems like a previous life, but which really spanned the five years from 2001 to 2006, I was a judge for the Michigan Competing Band Association. Until 2005, the organization held the state championship in the Pontiac Silverdome. As a judge, I got to attend the championship for free and watch the bands from the press box while eating a free catered meal.* It made for a really fun afternoon and evening that I enjoyed immensely, especially since I was treated like a V.I.P. but didn't have to work. That was the life.
*My students know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I had paid for it metaphorically by my service during the season, while the MCBA paid for it literally through the ticket receipts of the paid spectators at the championship. Eventually, the bill came due. From 2006 on, the championships were held at Ford Field, which nearly bankrupted the association the first year of the move. Later that same year, I left judging, a decision that ended up being good for my mental health. By 2007, I stopped looking back.
I may no longer judge, and I haven't gone to a band show since I quit, but still have some sentimental attachment to the activity and wish it well.* While I think it deserves attention, I certainly didn't want it in the context of a crime story! I'd rather have it as good news, such as Plymouth-Canton's band marching in the Macy's Parade.

*I also haven't watched a drum corps show live since 2008. I'm not as optimistic about that activity's survival as I am about competitive marching bands', as I wrote in Christmas in July.
I fully expect Peak Oil, economic decline, and social upheaval to end the national touring model, which has been around since 1971, by 2020. I started mourning in 2008, when I quit writing for Drum Corps World and stopped going to shows. This will be the fourth year I haven't seen a corps live.

Happy Halloween from Crazy Eddie the Motie!


For your amusement, I present the Halloween stories that I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Frankenstorm edition) and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition) on Daily Kos.

Scientific American: Trick or Theory: 6 Halloween Costumes for Science Nerds [Slide Show]
This year, when choosing your spooky guise, channel your empirical side
Arizona State University: The monsters among us
Posted: October 25, 2012
Hollywood is quick to cash in on what’s popular, but why do themes gain popularity in the first place? Does the prevalence of a certain monster reflect what’s going on in our society today?

“I would argue that monsters in literature, in general, are almost always indicative of things we fear in a sort of collective sense,” says Cajsa Baldini, a senior lecturer in the English Department of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Baldini is well-versed in classic monsters and their cultural significance. She teaches a course on 19th century fiction, which covers monstrous tales such as Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" and "The Island of Doctor Moreau" by H.G. Wells. Both novels are steeped in themes of technology out of control and the ethical implications of science.
Purdue University: Halloween films can be scarier than you think: What parents should know
October 11, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Scary movies with increasingly realistic visual effects can significantly frighten children of all ages, says a Purdue University mass media effects expert.

"This time of year there are a number of films vying for the Halloween season, and parents need to be careful because paranormal themes can be upsetting for children who are trying to sort out what is real and not real," says Glenn Sparks, professor of communication, who studies the effects of frightening images. "Reality can be just as frightening as fantasy for children ages 7-11, and they don't yet have the coping systems to handle such fear."

Sparks encourages parents to look beyond the age-based movie rating system for more information about a film's content, especially potentially frightening images. Parents can research the film in advance by using resources such as
Finally, this bit of trick or treating from Belle and the Beast as Princess Leia and Chewbacca.

Hat/tip to Brad DeLong, who posted Lucasfilm Acquired by Disney and linked to Disney Acquires Lucasfilm; Promises Star Wars VII in 2015; Lucas Passes “To a New Generation of Filmmakers” at The Mary Sue. Wow, that's both a nice trick and a great treat!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Frankenstorm and the election

I just happen to have five tabs open that address the question "what effect will Hurricane Sandy have on the election?" All of them are from sources that I normally look at. Imagine what I'd have found if I'd actually looked!

First, Accuweather posted the video Bad Weather and the Ballot Box on Sunday, which addresses the question in general.

The presidential election is only days away. How does the weather affect the number of people who show up to vote?
While this may not apply directly to Sandy, as its immediate effects will be over by election day, it does illuminate how past bad weather has effected previous elections. In particular, I didn't know about the heavy rains in Pensacola depressing turnout in 2000.

Speaking of depressing turnout, Nate Silver takes a cautious look at the possibility in Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Election Is Uncertain. Follow over the jump for the relevant excerpts, plus more from Michigan State University, Virginia Tech, and the host of the minor party debates, Free and Equal.

Monday, October 29, 2012 article on endorsements

Caption: Senator Debbie Stabenow earned the endorsement of for U.S. Senate. Credit: Public Domain (Wikipedia) endorses Obama, Stabenow, Ouimet, school district consolidation
Bright and early this Sunday morning, issued four endorsements for the general election. The online newspaper endorsed Barack Obama for President, Debbie Stabenow for Senator, and Mark Ouimet for State Representative.

In its endorsements of all three incumbents, cited their accomplishments on behalf of job creation and growing the local economy.

The virtual paper also recommended a yes vote on consolidation of the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.
For the details (and there are lots of them), plus a video of Bruce Springsteen being introduced by Bill Clinton and then endorsing Obama, click on the link in the article headline.

As for my opinion of all this: Endorsing Obama and Stabenow, good; endorsing the consolidation of the school districts, probably a smart idea, but not my problem; endorsing Ouimet, not to my liking at all. I used to live in Ouimet's district, which was represented by Democrat Pam Byrnes when I lived there. I was fine with Pam. I even talked to her at the end of the Whitmore Lake 4th of July Parade in 2006. Good woman who listened to her constituents and represented people like me. I'm not OK with Ouimet.

Part of my issue with Ouimet is what happened in 2010 when he first ran for his current seat. That race got very rough and dirty very quickly about a month before the election, as I documented in the following article in

Negative campaigning and vandalism against Christine Green campaign in 52nd Michigan House race
Over the weekend, the campaign in Michigan's 52nd State House district turned negative as the Washtenaw County Democratic Party accused Republican candidate Mark Ouimet of improperly billing the county for expenses incurred while he served as a Washtenaw County Commissioner.

Ouimet was not alone in having his campaign beset by outside forces. An article published by summarized how the Michigan Republican Party has been attacking Democratic candidate Christine Green with negative campaign flyers mailed to potential voters in the 52nd House District.

In addition to the attack ads, Green has been the subject of a series of robocalls attempting to link her local campaign to national and state Democratic policies. There have also been several incidents of vandalism against her campaign signs.

Green has objected to the negative campaigning and called upon Ouimet to "renounce and stop the misleading attacks." In response, Ouimet has maintained that his campaign was not responsible for the attack ads on Green.
While the controversy was fun to cover, it left a bad taste in my mouth, along with a dislike of Ouimet, even though he wasn't directly responsible for any of it.

As for Ouimet's behavior since them, in a less partisan atmosphere with less extreme members of his own party and a Democratic governor, I'm sure he'd be the bipartisan, pragmatic person he was as an Ann Arbor City Councilman and a Washtenaw County Commissioner. In the current legislature, he's enabling a bunch of know-nothing extremists who silence women like Lisa Brown. I really don't like him continuing to represent my old neighborhood, any more than I do Tim Walberg in Congress. I'd much prefer Gretchen Driskell. I hope to find some newsworthy material about her.

In some meta news, I'm currently ranked fifth out of 170 elections Examiners nationwide. I also got promoted to "preferred source." That's enough of an ego boost to induce me to write more during the next two weeks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The state of the presidential contest 10/28/12

The last time I posted a state of the presidential contest entry, it was 10/18/12, in which I updated what I had posted the previous Saturday night over at Daily Kos.
Where's what I wrote about the state of the race on Saturday night.
As of October 13th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia. Since last week's report, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin have moved back into the competitive column with 60-80% likelihoods of Obama wins, while North Carolina has moved out with an 80+% chance of a Romney victory. Also, Virginia's senate contest has returned to the competitive column because Tim Kaine's likelihood of being elected dropped to just under 80%. That's the bad news. The good news is that Heidi Heitkamp now has more than a 20% probability of winning North Dakota and Nate Silver gives Tammy Baldwin more than an 80% chance of victory in Wisconsin.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver estimates a 52.6% of Romney winning the presidential contest in Virginia, while Tim Kaine has a 79.5% likelihood of being elected as Senator.
It has been even longer since I gave an update on the Iowa Electronic Market.
The market is currently forecasting a 71% chance of an Obama victory with a 55% vote share. That's actually an improvement over yesterday, when Obama was trading in the mid 60s.
Follow over the jump for an update to both the competitive states based on the 20-80% inclusive chance of winning based on FiveThirtyEight and the state of the national contest based on both FiveThirtyEight and the IEM.

Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm

The Scientific American article about the storm was the top story in last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Frankenstorm edition) at Daily Kos.

What You Need to Know About Hurricane Sandy to Get Ready
By David Biello
October 26, 2012
Take a hurricane moving up from the south. Mash in a colder storm moving in from the west. Add a ridge of high pressure extending through the atmosphere above the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Greenland, blocking the typical flow of the jet stream. That’s the recipe for what will become “Post-Tropical Storm Sandy” or, as it has more colloquially been dubbed: “Frankenstorm.”

The result of all that atmospheric blocking is that instead of turning away from land and heading out into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, this particular storm is going to be pushed ashore somewhere between Delaware and Long Island, New York. At the same time, it will be merging with the cold air coming in from the west—and that means Sandy will be the unusual hurricane that ends up producing snow in its western reaches.

And what a reach. Sandy’s swirling circulation and high winds will reach from Ohio and the Great Lakes region all the way to the New England Coast and down into the Carolinas.
For how one campus on the campaign trail is preparing for the storm, read Virginia Tech prepares for Hurricane Sandy. For a more extreme reaction, UNH Closes Oct. 29 and 30 in Anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.

For a visual, see Interactive map of Sandy... by old mark on Daily Kos. Or you can watch this video from ABC News.

I've called this storm "Hurricane Irene with a blizzard." I'm not the only one comparing Sandy to Irene. ABC News has more.

Trick or treat, everyone, and stay safe and dry!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More late space and astronomy news

Remember this?
I was so busy posting election news last week that I never got around to posting my roundup of space and astronomy news.
The same thing happened this week. So, here is the space news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition) on Daily Kos, a week late.

The week's lead story took place on the streets of Los Angeles, as the shuttle was towed from LAX to Exposition Park.

ABC News on YouTube: Space Shuttle Endeavor to Reach Final Resting Place; Retired Ship Makes Way Through Los Angeles

L.A. Times: Space shuttle Endeavour rolls on toward its new home October 13, 2012
The space shuttle Endeavour rolled across its final frontier Saturday, successfully crossing a bridge over the 405 Freeway and pivoting through tight spots en route to its new home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

Thousands of people thronged the streets to watch the shuttle crawl through the streets of Inglewood and then Los Angeles.

The massive space vehicle made a two-hour stop at the Forum in Inglewood, arriving early to the delight of crowds and politicians who crowed about Southern California landing what they called a national treasure.
The rest of the week's space and astronomy news from deep space to classrooms in Virginia over the break.

Friday, October 26, 2012 article about campaign signs in bars

Caption: Aut Bar owners Martin Contreras and Keith Orr showing the signs they can now display.
Credit: ACLU of Michigan
Aut Bar owners now free to display campaign signs
As of Wednesday, bar and restaurant owners in Michigan can now display signs for candidates campaigning for public office. They can thank the owners of the Aut Bar in Ann Arbor, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), for the decision.
In response to a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the MLCC has decided to stop enforcing a 1954 rule prohibiting election signs from establisments with liquor licenses. The MLCC also agreed to speed up the process of eliminating the rule entirely.

In a press release, ACLU of Michigan legal director Michael J. Steinberg praised the MLCC's decison.

“With the election just two weeks away, we are pleased that the Liquor Control Commission has agreed to stop enforcing an archaic rule that violated the free speech rights of Michigan bar and restaurant owners for more than 50 years. As of today, restaurant, bars and liquor store owners throughout the state are free to display election signs on their own property without fear of being fined or losing their liquor license.”
For a history of the controversy, click on the link in the headline.

As for my opinion of this, I think it's a good thing. If nothing else, it will tell me which bars and restaurants I'll frequent during election season and which ones I want to stay away from.

WXYZ weather reporters forecast this winter's snow

It's been more than two months since I blogged about the weather. It's time to resume with Channel 7 weather team's snow predictions.

My students have already started asking me what I think of the upcoming winter's snowfall. I've been telling them it will be colder and snowier than last year, but snowfall will be no more than average and probably less. Looks like I got lucky, as the local experts are calling for 35-39 inches of snow, which is less than the average of 42 inches. Just the same, after last winter, even a slightly below average snowfall will seem like a lot of snow.

Johnson and Stein in final third party presidential debate on Russia Today

I made three predictions in Free and Equal Debate tonight. How did they turn out? Here's the first one.
Maybe a coherent response could be cobbled together [from] the positions from [of] Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. I don't hold out much hope for anything useful coming out of the mouth of Virgil Goode.
Now The Atlantic's report on the debate: Shift-Alt-Debate: Meet 4 Presidential Candidates the Press Mostly Ignores
What do Libertarians, Greens, and Justice Party supporters agree about?
  • It's urgent to rein in the military-industrial complex and reorient American foreign policy away from bellicose interventionism.
  • Civil liberties are being trampled on by Democrats and Republicans.
  • The drug war is a failed policy. Some combination of decriminalization, legalization and regulation is needed.
It says something powerful that people so ideologically diverse agree on those significant points.
Not just one, but three coherent positions from Johnson, Stein, and Anderson. That's even better than I expected.

What about Goode?
Goode wants to halt immigration. And along with Johnson, he wants a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on the legislature, imagining that it would weaken special interests.
No and no. First, I'm not in favor of restricting legal immigration any more than it already is, as I wrote in Happy 4th of July from James Howard Kunstler's Tea Party! Second, I've seen what term limits have done here in Michigan; they've actually made special interests more powerful, not less.

What else do Goode and Johnson agree on?
Gary Johnson and Virgil Goode believe America's deficits have put us on the edge of fiscal collapse. For them, balancing the budget is an urgent priority, and they're actually serious about it -- unlike the fake fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party, Johnson and Goode fess up to the fact that they'd try to make substantial cuts to everything from entitlements to the bureaucracy to the military.
I have my doubts about the wisdom of this version of austerity as well. There is a reason why I have an "anti-austerity" label.

That's two predictions that came true. What about the third?
I suspect it will be Jill Stein vs. Gary Johnson in the final debate.
And the finalists are...

Winners of October 23rd Presidential Debate Have Been Announced
“The voters have spoken, and we are pleased to announce that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will advance to the second debate,” stated Christina Tobin, founder and chair of Free & Equal.
I'm three for three!

So, where can people watch the debate? I have a hint.
"[F]or unclear reasons, Russia Today"--snork! Russia Today loves to broadcast dissenting American voices, including tinfoil hat wearer Alex Jones. This event is right up their alley.
Take it away, Russia Today!

RT Presents Final US Third-Party Presidential Debate

RT is proud to host the final US presidential debate between Libertarian Party candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein. The two will go head-to-head and discuss foreign policy live from RT's Washington, DC studio on Tuesday, October 30. Voters can catch the show-down live on RT America, and right here on YouTube from 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, (October 31, 1:00 a.m. -- 2:30 a.m. GMT)
I have this feeling the two candidates will agree as much on an anti-interventionist foreign policy just as much as Obama and Romney agreed on an interventionist one. Russia Today couldn't ask for a better pair of candidates.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Food Day News from Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos

Before the day expires here in North America, I want to wish all my readers a (belated in the Eastern Time Zone) Happy Food Day! As I wrote last year, there are worse days my wife and I can share our anniversary with. Speaking of which, Narb suggested last year that I should take her out to dinner. Thank you, Narb; I already have.

To celebrate the day more, join me over the jump for food news from campuses in the campaign trail (including some from commercial sources) that I've included in the past three months' Overnight News Digest: Science Saturdays. As you will see, I have quite a lot stored up, just waiting for an excuse to post it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 article on renewable energy events at U of M

Former U.S. Representative Joe Schwarz will be one of the members of a panel on Proposition 3 at the U-M School of Public Health Thursday, October 25th.
Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain
U of M to hold two events Thursday on Proposal 3 and renewable energy
On Thursday, October 25th, voters in Washtenaw County can attend two events at the University of Michigan about Proposal 3 and renewable energy.

From 4:30 P.M. to 6:00 P.M., the School of Public Health will host Michigan's Renewable Energy Proposal: A Health, Science and Policy Conversation. This event is billed as a discussion on the health, environmental, and policy issues and impact of Michigan Proposal 3, which will amend the state constitution to require 25% of Michigan's electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025.

Then beginning at 7:00 P.M., four activists and scientists will hold a panel at the Dana Building titled "A Cure for the Common Coal." The panelists will discuss the problems associated with mining and burning coal, as well as options for cleaner, more humane sources of energy.
In article about Free Press referendum endorsements, I wrote that "I'll have more to say about Proposal 3 in particular." The article above makes good on that promise. article about Free Press referendum endorsements

Caption: The Detroit Free Press issued its endorsements of the six referendums on Michigan's ballot.
Credits: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Detroit Free Press referendum endorsements maintain status quo
On Sunday, the Detroit Free Press issued its endorsements for the six proposals on the statewide ballot, recommending a yes vote on Proposal 1 and no votes on the other five.

Voting as the paper suggested would maintain the status quo. There would be no changes to Michigan's constitution and no laws would be repealed.
The Free Press agonized over both Proposal 2 and Proposal 3, as the paper has supported both labor and renewable energy over the years. On the other hand, it easily dismissed Proposals 4, 5, and 6.
For a summary of the Freep's editorial, click on the link in the headline.

For what it's worth, this is not how I would vote. I'm voting no on Proposal 1, as I think the assault on democracy and local control is a cure worse than the disease. I'm also voting yes on Proposals 2, 3, and 4. I'll have more to say about Proposal 3 in particular. Until then, I recommend reading Brian Dickerson: Why I'm voting for renewable energy.

However, I agree with the Detroit Free Press on the rest. I'm voting no on Proposals 5 and 6. My stance on Proposal 6 should come as no surprise, given what I've already posted in New Detroit-Windsor Bridge: Up with Snyder and down with Maroun and Video updates from WXYZ and WOOD on "Vagina" and bridge. Matty Maroun can go to Hell.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free and Equal Debate tonight

Last night wasn't really the last presidential debate. There will be at least two more, including this one.

While the candidates may be from minor parties, the debate does have a major league media star, as the L.A. Times reports.

Larry King to moderate third-party presidential debate
Larry King will moderate a debate among the third-party presidential candidates on Oct. 23, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation announced on Tuesday.

The debate, which will be held in Chicago, will feature Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Rocky Anderson of the newly formed Justice Party. The event will be broadcast live on Ora TV, the digital programming service where King launched his online talk show, “Larry King Now,” earlier this year. The Free and Equal Elections Foundation and, for unclear reasons, Russia Today will also stream the debate online.
"[F]or unclear reasons, Russia Today"--snork! Russia Today loves to broadcast dissenting American voices, including tinfoil hat wearer Alex Jones. This event is right up their alley. In fact, I found out about this debate from them.

[A] third party candidate debate is getting some much needed attention. Christina Tobin, founder of Free and Equal, joins us to discuss why she organized a debate for third party candidates and how the two party system is hurting America.
Tobin mentioned Al Jazeera, and, yes, they're joining RT America in covering the debate, as the Huffington Post reports.

Third-Party Debate To Be Broadcast By Al Jazeera English, RT America, But Not Major Cable News Networks
Al Jazeera English plans to broadcast the debate live, an editorial decision that Bob Wheelock, executive producer for newsgathering for the Americas, calls a "no-brainer."

"We've covered the presidential debates and vice presidential debate thus far," Wheelock told The Huffington Post. "Our philosophy is to treat this one the same way. It's another voice in this country that we respect and believe should have a forum and an outlet."

Wheelock said that part of Al Jazeera English's mission is "to try to provide the voice and be in places where other people aren't -- to cover areas, countries, states, cultures that aren't routinely covered by the traditional broadcast networks and cable networks."
... Link TV will also carry Al Jazeera English's broadcast in areas where the network still isn't available on the cable dial.
That's where the debate stood yesterday morning. Then, a U.S. outlet finally joined in: C-SPAN will cover Free and Equal Presidential Debate Tomorrow. I checked C-SPAN's website, and sure enough, the debate is on the schedule for 9 PM tonight.
Oct 23 at 9:00 PM - C-SPAN 1 (01:30 HR)
Free and Equal Elections
Third party presidential candidates Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, and Rocky Anderson hold a debate.
As for what this debate will accomplish, other than giving the minor parties the attention they deserve, it might just air issues that the major parties and the mainstream media didn't bother to ask, as Tobin herself was quoted as saying in the L.A. Times.
“The previous debates between President Obama and Gov. Romney have failed to address the issues that really concern everyday Americans. From foreign policy, to the economy, to taboo subjects like our diminishing civil liberties and the drug war, Americans deserve a real debate, real solutions, and real electoral options.”
I echoed those sentiments myself over at Kunstler's site yesterday.
Honestly, if you want people who are willing to take on those tough issues, you might have to wait until the Free and Equal debate featuring the four top minor party candidates. That will take place tomorrow night and will be televised by Al Jazeera English. The U.S. networks aren't touching it. Too bad. Maybe a coherent response could be cobbled together the positions from Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. I don't hold out much hope for anything useful coming out of the mouth of Virgil Goode.
Free and Equal will sponsor one last debate featuring minor party candidates.

Second 2012 Presidential Debate October 30 in Washington, DC
Viewers of First Debate to Determine Which Candidate Advances to the October 30 Debate via Instant Runoff Voting
Following the initial October 23 debate, viewers can vote for the candidates online, ranking their first and second choices. This form of instant runoff voting (IRV) — a method used in numerous countries, United States jurisdictions, and private organizations — allows voters to submit their top two choices, so they aren’t “throwing away” a vote. Voting ends 24 hours after the end of the debate. The top two candidates with the most votes will be announced Thursday morning and will advance to the final debate on October 30.

“This is an example of how a Presidential debate and election should work,” stated Christina Tobin, founder and chair of Free & Equal. “Instant runoff voting removes the spoiler effect and promotes more positive, issue-focused campaigns. This method brings neutrality and fairness to electing the leader of our country and eliminates the “lesser of two evils” problem.”
I suspect it will be Jill Stein vs. Gary Johnson in the final debate. There are enough Libertarians online to make sure of that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Part 7 of several

It's been three months since the previous installment of this series, The first year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Part 6 of several.
As for what I'll write about next, there are the two other posts I wrote especially for Kunstler's readers that were built around New York Times articles. Both of them discuss Detroit as a tourist destination, a topic I return to occasionally. There's also a post about Dominionism and what they really believe. Finally, there are posts that were in the top ten between January 1st and March 21st, but which fell out by the time I compiled the list. That should take care of the series.
That post about Dominionism was really about the behavior of the audience at the GOP debates, as I mentioned in Ron Paul rides off into the sunset.
The most popular of them was Tell me now, which deity do the Dominionists really worship?, which ended up being the seventh most popular post of the first year of this blog, with 310 page views and two comments as of March 31st.** That was the one in which I quoted AmericaBlog's description of a Think Progress video of a GOP debate, which read:
The largest audience cheers in the Republican presidential debate came when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul whether he wanted an uninsured 30 year old with a treatable disease to die because he didn't have health insurance. You can hear the crowd shout, "let him die."
... **It now has 315 page views and four comments. That reminds me, it's time to do that article's retrospective, but not in this post.
It's time to continue, especially since it turns out it's on topic for today, the day of the last debate between major party candidates.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Health and education news about Latinos from campuses on the campaign trail

Before I decided to add the passage from Nate Silver to The importance of the Latino vote from Purdue University and Nate Silver, I was going to conclude the entry with the following research findings about Latinos from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Change in the weather edition). Since I'm an environmentalist and will recycle, especially if I didn't get to use it the first time, here they are.

The research, led by College of Social Work Professor and Associate Dean Amy L. Ai, evaluated the physical and behavioral health, as well as the health care service usage, of all three major Latino subgroups in the United States.
Florida State University: Study reveals differences in overall health of Latino-American subgroups
Jeffery Seay
10/02/2012 4:33 pm
Despite a shared Latino heritage, there are significant differences in the overall health and the use of health care services among Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican-Americans — even between men and women in the same subgroup — according to two recently published studies by Florida State University researchers.

The authors, led by College of Social Work Professor and Associate Dean Amy L. Ai, evaluated the physical and behavioral health, as well as the health care service usage, of all three major Latino subgroups in the United States. Collectively, these have been the fastest-growing ethnic minority in recent decades and are today the nation’s largest ethnic minority, comprising more than 15 percent of the nation’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The source of the studies’ data was the National Latino and Asian-American Study, the first nationally representative study of Latino-Americans.

“Within Latino groups, cross-subcultural differences may contribute to the different patterns in both physical and mental health,” Ai said. “There are interesting pattern differences between men and women. The patterns for Latino men are rather uniform, with Puerto Rican-Americans dominating most chronic conditions and behavorial health issues. The patterns for Latino women are more diverse in terms of overall health.”
University of Kentucky: UK Researchers Find Teachers, School Climate Key to Latino Immigrants’ Academic Success
Oct. 3, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky found that teachers and schools that value diversity have a big impact on the academic experiences of Latino immigrant children living in predominantly White communities. The study appears in a special section of the September/October 2012 issue of Child Development on children from immigrant families.

The researchers discovered that children who had a teacher who valued diversity felt more positively about their ethnicity than children who had a teacher who felt uncomfortable with diversity.

“This is important because feeling positively about their ethnicity was associated with children valuing school more, enjoying school more, feeling like they belonged at school more and getting better grades,” said Christia Spears Brown, associate professor in the UK Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky, who led the study.

Teachers who valued diversity also seemed to establish classroom norms that discouraged peers from teasing others because of their ethnicity.
Much more about the U.S.'s fastest growing ethnicity, at least in terms of absolute numbers,* at the links in the subject lines.

*In terms of percentage increase, Asian-Americans are the U.S.'s fastest growing racial or ethnic group.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yelling "WHEE!" as the gas price rollercoaster descends

In the last episode of the gas price rollercoaster, which was only a week and half ago, the price at the corner station was $3.89. I found that anonomalous* anomalous, and said so.
As for where those prices should be, the calculator at Econobrowser, that closing price of $111.82 a barrel for Brent should yield a price at the pump of $3.63, within a penny of where it should have been two weeks ago. That means gas is overpriced and should drop again. That it hasn't isn't good news, so no Professor Farnsworth tonight.
Folks, it's time for Professor Farnsworth.

And it's not a suppository!

Gas prices had been holding steady or dropping slowly, in accordance with their usual pattern of going up like a rocket, down like a parachute, falling maybe to $3.85, until Tuesday of this week, when I noticed that prices had started to drop, falling to $3.64 cash near work. By the time I got to the corner gas station, the price was $3.59. Oh, wow, a 30 cent drop in a week! Since the fuel idiot light had gone on in my car, I filled up, and was happy to do so. After all, $3.59 was below the price expected from the value of Brent Crude, so I didn't expect it to go down much more. I was wrong.

On Wednesday, the corner station was selling regular for $3.49, which is the price my wife filled her car up at. By Thursday, it was down to $3.45. Today was the first day that the local price held steady, although stations all around the area, even in downtown Birmingham, were selling it that low. On the radio, I heard prices of as low as $3.29 at 14 Mile and Mound in Macomb County. That means that I saw a drop of 45 cents in less than a week. No wonder I was shouting "Whee!" as the rollercoaster dropped.

So, when was the last time prices were that low? According the the graph below, not since the end of June, which was also the last time there was such a prolonged slide in the cost of gas. Check out the green line for Grand Rapids as well as the orange line for Detroit!

It turns out that I thought that would happen. As I wrote at the time:
[M]y wife said she'd like gas around $3.00/gallon. I told her she might get her wish sometime this fall. She responded that she hoped so and that low gas prices would be good for Obama's re-election. All things being equal, she'd be right. I have my doubts that all things really are equal (these are not business as usual times), but I can hope.
Compared to where prices were as recently as two weeks ago, $3.29 is close enough to around $3.00/gallon for government work, and it is good for Obama's election, so I'll break out the gloating macro I first used at the start of July, the last time prices were this low.

*I'd like to think that my mind was on the connection between Anonymous and Occupy when I typed this, instead of just simply screwing up.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Next Media Animation on Detroit Tigers in the World Series

I couldn't resist this video: World Series 2012: A-Rod, Yankees out, Detroit Tigers in.

he Detroit Tigers are in the 2012 World Series! The Tigers swept A-Rod and the New York Yankees in the 2012 American League Championship Series after entering the postseason tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the worst record among the eight playoff teams.
Detroit started the season with high expectations after signing free agent slugger Prince Fielder and were 26-32 in early June. But the Tigers kept at it and edged past the pesky Chicago White Sox to win the American League Central by three games.

The Tigers eliminated the red hot Oakland A's in five games in the American League Divisional Series before completely shutting down the Yankees in the ALCS. Detroit will play either St. Louis or the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series.
Here's what I wrote in the first comment on the video.
Actually, the Tigers eliminated Oakland in three games. The playoff series could have gone five, but the Tigers swept the A's, just like they did the Yankees. [My memory failed me; the series went five games.  Derp.]  As for their winning the World Series, that depends on who they play. I'm rooting for them to face the Giants. As a Californian living in Detroit, that would make it more interesting for me.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a Giants-Tigers World Series will happen. The Huffington Post reports Cardinals beat Giants 8-3 to take 3-1 lead in NLCS. One more Cardinal win and they're in.

That written, I'm not predicting the winner of the World Series just yet. I've learned not to tempt Oliver's Woofing Theorem.
Oliver's Woofing Theorem states, in a nutshell, that in any given athletic competition (team, individual, amatuer, professional), the team/player who is the most over-hyped/over-praised by his/her/its fans/supporters is doomed to LOSE the competition. For example, if immediately preceding a game between the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays, two Blue Jay's fans state that "Toronto will kick ass", while only one Seattle fan makes a similar claim, then Seattle is guaranteed a win by the ubiquitious and omnipresent Gods of Woofing.
That's why I've been generally quiet about the Tigers during the playoffs so far.

The importance of the Latino vote from Purdue University and Nate Silver

In the spirit of ABC News panel on presidential debates, Rock the Vote in Madison, Wisconsin, today and Last U.S. Senate debate in Virginia tonight plus state of the race, here are two more press release about elections I included in the tip jar of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition), followed by what Nate Silver had to say about this topic on Saturday.

Purdue University: Prof: Latino electorate largest ever; yet expect influence from those not voting
October 10, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The large Latino electorate is expected to play a key role in this year's presidential election, but so will the influence of Latinos who don't have U.S. voting rights, says a Purdue University political science expert.

"Voting is just one way actors in a democratic society can make a difference, and interest in politics and party politics comes well before naturalization," says James McCann, a professor of political science who is leading a large study to follow Latino interest and civic engagement in recent presidential elections. "We see a lot of civic interest before someone acquires voting rights, and it's important to track this too. Just like economists track aspects of the undocumented workforce, we need to gauge and model similar effects in politics."

His research focuses on Latinos who don't have citizens' rights. About 40 percent of Latino adults in the United States are noncitizens, and the Pew Hispanic Center recently reported that a record 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote.
Purdue University: Prof: Democratic Party will capture Latino vote in 2012
October 8, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The 2012 presidential election will solidify the Latino electorate's support for one party, says a Purdue University political science professor.

"The Republican Party made some strides with the Latino electorate when George W. Bush ran for office because he was from the southwest and understood the Latino culture, but Republican candidates have been losing ground since then," says James McCann, professor of political science who focuses on public opinion and Latino political participation. "The discourse during this year's Republican primary contests, as the potential nominees competed for support among grassroots activists, was alienating to many Latino voters. Mitt Romney's statement about 'self-deportation' for immigrants set a very negative tone that can alienate Latino voters."

The Latino electorate favored Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 election when he won 67 percent of the vote and the Republican candidate received 31 percent. McCann says he expects that gap to grow even more this election.
The Latino vote is becoming important enough that Nate Silver devoted a major portion of a post to the topic: Oct. 13: Arizona and the Spanish-Speaking Vote. Follow over the jump for the relevant excerpt.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last U.S. Senate debate in Virginia tonight plus state of the race

In the spirit of ABC News panel on presidential debates and Rock the Vote in Madison, Wisconsin, today, here's another press release about a campus event about elections I included in the tip jar of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition).

Virginia Tech: Virginia U.S. Senate candidates hold final debate on campus Thursday, Oct. 18
Oct. 11, 2012
BLACKSBURG, Va., – Virginia Tech and WSLS-TV will co-host the third of three U.S. Senate debates between Democratic candidate and former Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine and Republican candidate and former U.S. Sen. George Allen on Thursday, Oct. 18, beginning at 7 p.m. in Haymarket Theater at Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech campus.

WSLS senior political reporter and anchor Jay Warren and WSLS political analyst Robert Denton, the W. Thomas Rice Chair and professor of communication at Virginia Tech will moderate the one-hour televised debate.

The debate will be broadcast live on WSLS TV; the Virginia Tech community can view the debate on campus cable channel 10 or on WSLS-HD on channel 66. CSPAN (campus cable channel 17) will also televise the debate; the broadcast time has not yet been determined.
Where's what I wrote about the state of the race on Saturday night at Daily Kos.
As of October 13th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia. Since last week's report, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin have moved back into the competitive column with 60-80% likelihoods of Obama wins, while North Carolina has moved out with an 80+% chance of a Romney victory. Also, Virginia's senate contest has returned to the competitive column because Tim Kaine's likelihood of being elected dropped to just under 80%. That's the bad news. The good news is that Heidi Heitkamp now has more than a 20% probability of winning North Dakota and Nate Silver gives Tammy Baldwin more than an 80% chance of victory in Wisconsin.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver estimates a 52.6% of Romney winning the presidential contest in Virginia, while Tim Kaine has a 79.5% likelihood of being elected as Senator. Here's to Kaine leaving Allen in his dust tonight.

I'll leave you with video of the second Kaine-Allen debate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last week's space and astronomy news a week late

I was so busy posting election news last week that I never got around to posting my roundup of space and astronomy news. Here it is, the space news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Change in the weather edition) on Daily Kos, a week late.

NASA Television on YouTube: Dragon Ready to Ride the Falcon on This Week @NASA

The historic launch of the first-ever contracted cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station by Space Exploration Technologies Corporationis ready. Also, cybersecurity; Antares rollout; hangin' out on Google; the Hubble constant; space orchestra, and more!
The University of Colorado, Boulder, had their own press release on one of the experiments sent up on Dragon.

CU hardware to fly on first-ever NASA-contracted resupply mission to space station
October 5, 2012
A University of Colorado Boulder space center is providing hardware and technical support for scientific experiments aboard the first-ever NASA-contracted resupply flight to the International Space Station, slated for launch Oct. 7 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-funded center in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department, has provided an automated, suitcase-sized incubator carrying fluid-processing devices for use by Montana State University researchers to test how a pathogenic yeast strain responds to the low gravity of space. The experiments will fly on the unmanned Dragon cargo spacecraft developed by Space Exploration Technologies X, or SpaceX, which made history during a May 2012 demonstration flight by becoming the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station, or ISS.

BioServe’s incubator, known as a Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA, will provide space support for nearly 130 fluid-processing devices headed for ISS and loaded up with a common pathogen known as Canada albacans, said BioServe Business Development Manager Stefanie Countryman. The pathogen is under study by MSU faculty and students because it can cause localized infections in healthy people but can trigger potentially lethal infections in immune-compromised people.
Also, two diaries on Daily Kos examined what Curiosity did that week.

On Mars: One Scoop or Two? by LeftOfYou

Cool Greebly Mars Rock! by Autonomeritus

More astronomy news over the jump.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rock the Vote in Madison, Wisconsin, today

In the spirit of ABC News panel on presidential debates, here's another press release about a campus event about elections I included in the tip jar of Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition).

University of Wisconsin, Madison: Rock the Vote returns to the campus area on Oct. 16
By Liz Beyler
October 10, 2012
Rock the Vote, its colorfully wrapped bus and its message of voter involvement are heading to the campus area for an outdoor event on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

It will take place where the State Street Mall meets the north end of the East Campus Mall, entirely on city property. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This will be the third time that Rock the Vote has visited UW-Madison in a presidential election year in an effort to get students to register to vote and to cast their ballots.
Rock the Vote has been busy this year. They showed up where I teach the first week of this month, right before Michigan's voter registration deadline. Unfortunately, I was in office hours and missed their visit. Too bad. I heard it was fun. May the Badgers have at least as good a time and may Rock the Vote register a lot of students and convince them to vote.

Monday, October 15, 2012

ABC News panel on presidential debates

In last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2012 Nobel Prizes edition) on Daily Kos, I included this press release in the tip jar.

University of Virginia: U.Va. Miller Center, ABC ‘This Week’ Team To Air Discussion of Presidential Debates October 10, 2012
A special edition of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” produced with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, will air this Sunday and focus on the question, “Do Presidential Debates Change Elections?”

Panelists are scheduled to include:
  • Newt Gingrich, 2012 Republican presidential candidate
  • Chris Dodd, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate
  • Martha Raddatz, moderator of Thursday’s vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan
  • Richard Norton Smith, presidential historian
  • Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 campaign
  • George Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator
Broadcast before a live studio audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the program will be moderated by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jake Tapper.
That program has now been broadcast. Follow over the jump for the segments of This Week that composed that special roundtable.

Sunday, October 14, 2012 article on Free Press endorsements

Senator Debbie Stabenow earned the endorsement of the Detroit Free Press for U.S. Senate.
Credit: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Detroit Free Press endorses Stabenow, Michigan Supreme Court candidates
This Sunday, the Detroit Free Press endorsed Senator Debbie Stabenow, saying she has earned a third term. The paper praised her for being "one of the Senate's most effective deal-makers, a fierce advocate for her home state and the Great Lakes that surround it."

The week before, the paper issued its recommendations for Michigan Supreme Court. It endorsed Connie Marie Kelley, Bridget Mary McCormack, and Brian Zahra.

The week before that, the Free Press also urged a no vote on Proposal 5, calling it "a prescription for disaster."
For details, read the rest of the article for a summary of the three Detroit Free Press editorials, or just click on through to the editorials themselves in the embedded links.

There is also a video of Debbie Stabenow at the link. However, that one is a video that the incentives program at will reward, as it was taken from Grab Networks. It isn't the one I would have used if the incentives program allowed YouTube videos. This is.

Walk and Talk the Vote - West Wing Reunion - Bridget Mary McCormack

The cast of the West Wing reunites to walk and talk about why it's important to vote on the nonpartisan section of the ballot -- and why Bridget Mary McCormack should be on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Maybe I should have looked for Grab videos about this ad. Nah, too meta.

First anniversary of Occupy Detroit

Today is the anniversary of Occupy Detroit's occupation of Campus Martius. Just as I marked the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, I'm posting the links to my entries on the movement.
As for what Occupy Detroit has been doing this year, the Detroit Free Press has this story from May.

Occupy Detroit has a home base for learning, organizing
With its comfy sofas, kitchen and sunlit windows, the brick building at 5900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit that opened this year could pass for a spacious café.

But a banner high on the wall that reads "We are the 99%" signifies this is a different type of place, one that's become the center for activists in metro Detroit. After leaving their encampment in Grand Circus Park in November, Occupy Detroit has found a new home in the heart of southwest Detroit.

Across the street from a grocery store, the two-floor 12,000-square-foot building with a tall ceiling was refurbished by activists and is a striking symbol of the movement's attempts to establish a solid base in the region for its activities. "OCCUPY," it reads on the windowpanes outside.

"We want to bring power back to the people," said Jessica Dawl, 26, a Hamtramck resident.
Also, the group still has an active website with a post about today's anniversary.


One year ago Occupy Detroit swept through downtown from the Spirit of Detroit to Grand Circus Park with over 1,000 attending through the day and evening. Speakers spoke and let us know a NEW WORLD IS POSSIBLE – what it would take is being engaged in the movement to bring it from spoken word to a life changing opportunity.

Last year on October 10 a host of people came to Spirit Of Hope Church to learn how to participate as the Occupy Movement came to Detroit. That first night our numbers exceeded the capacity of the church and the meeting moved outside.


We celebrate, reflect, and discuss the evolving movement and how Version 2 of Occupy Detroit will launch. Lessons learned, issues fought and continuing at present will be discussed. Those engaged in action, making a difference in their lives and those they touch will share how a movement impacted their live over the past year and what the FUTURE holds in the PRESENT and beyond.
They may not be camping out, but they're still occupying.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Democrats are paying attention to Michigan, too, plus follow-up on the VP debate

In this morning's post, I documented how Willard the Rat's mate and running mate visited Oakland County this week. They weren't alone, as former President Bill Clinton was in town yesterday. The headline in the Detroit News read Bill Clinton a big hit at Royal Oak fundraiser.
An otherwise sleepy residential neighborhood became the stage for political heavyweights Friday, including former President Bill Clinton, during a fundraiser for Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Clinton arrived at the swank, post-modern home of Stabenow supporter Michael Chetcuti in a black Chevrolet Suburban to the astonishment of neighbors. He was joined at the event by nearly 150 guests for an hour-long appearance.
Among the guests, who paid at least $1,000 apiece, were U.S. Rep. John Dingell and his wife, Debbie, and Mark Bernstein of the Law Firm of Bernstein & Bernstein. He's running for University of Michigan regent.

The event, which the campaign said raised $350,000, was part of the senator's get-out-the vote efforts.
Clinton shook hands, posed for photographs and talked to supporters briefly about the auto bailout.
Speaking of the auto bailout, it was the subject of President Obama's weekly address.

Weekly Address: One Million American Jobs Saved and a Stronger American Auto Industry

President Obama talks about his choice to rescue the American auto industry from collapse and save more than one million American jobs.
While he actually wasn't in Michigan, he was definitely making sure that the voters here knew he was paying attention to them.

Finally, here's a follow-up to Nate Silver and others on the VP debate, in which I mentioned in passing that "MSNBC also had a focus group. That one gave Biden a clear victory." Here's the video from MSNBC and Daily Kos post featuring it.

Undecided voters: Joe Biden won

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Biden took a 50-31 win in CBS's snap poll of uncommitted voters and a 5-1 win in this NBC focus group.
Biden delivered the kind of performance that thrilled Democrats—and enraged Republicans, who were torn between blaming Martha Raddatz and the expressions on Joe Biden's face. But as amusing as the GOP's spin may be, it doesn't matter. Democrats needed a strong performance from Joe Biden, and they got it.

And among the voters who count—uncommitted and undecided voters—Biden won, both in a CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters who watched the debate and in an NBC focus group of undecided voters in Virginia. So last night was a good night. Democrats got what they wanted and Republicans didn't.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed Biden winning the debate.
Vice President Joe Biden came out on top of Thursday night's vice presidential debate with Republican challenger Paul Ryan, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The energetic Biden claimed a seven-point victory - 42 percent to 35 percent - among registered voters, with a similar margin among independents. Nearly a quarter of registered voters and about a third of independents were unsure who did a better job during the debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky...

Voters said Biden was more qualified to be president, as the vice president moved from 43 to 45 percent on that question over the course of the debate, and Ryan stayed at 35 percent. The Wisconsin congressman's presence on the Romney ticket may also cause trouble for the Republican Party: 27 percent of registered voters said Ryan made them less favorable toward Romney, up from 21 percent before the debate.
As I wrote before, it was a clear win for Biden.

WXYZ thinks Michigan is being left out, then Ryan and Ann Romney visit

WXYZ asks "Why aren't the candidates spending money or time in MI?"

The answer to the question is that Michigan has not been competitive for most of this year, even after Willard's the Rat's improved standing in the polls after the debate. Advertising and campaigning here would be a waste of money better spent elsewhere.* However, Michigan isn't being completely ignored. After all, Paul Ryan made an appearance here Monday.

Ryan's visit included a rally at Oakland University, where the debate for the Michigan Republican primary was held. Much to my amusement, I received two robocalls inviting me to it. Of course, I didn't go. After watching the WXYZ report, I had no regrets.

In addition to Eddie Munster and Kid Rock rallying the troops, Ann Romney made a stop here.
Ann Romney visited familiar ground Friday afternoon when she stopped at the Franklin Cider Mill to address about 300 people supporting her husband, Mitt Romney, for president.

Romney said it was her first visit to the cider mill since she was "16 or 17" and the warm doughnuts "tasted exactly as I remember."
"Every fall it was our family tradition to come here," Romney said, drawing applause. "My husband and I both grew up, just not far from here."

She didn't discuss policy at the stop, which focused on Romney's ties to Michigan. His father was a governor and ran American Motors.
I drove within a mile of Franklin Cider Mill yesterday. I had no idea she had even been there until now.

So, even though there are no TV ads being run here by the two major party campaigns and Willard the Rat hasn't shown up, Michigan is not being ignored. I suppose that the Romney campaign would like to at least win Oakland County. It's my job to frustrate that desire.

*Speaking of wasting money, there is one candidate whose ads I saw on MSNBC--Gary Johnson. His ad money is wasted in Michigan because he is not on the ballot here. Thank you, Ruth Johnson. Also, the states where those advertising dollars are better spent are still Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, with the addition of Wisconsin since Wednesday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nate Silver and others on the VP debate

Last night, I wrote that "I should post something for tonight's VP debate, but I'm not up for it right now." I'm up for it now.

Nate Silver's first read of the debate was "In Polls, Biden Gets a Hold."
News media narratives tend to group horse-race developments into one of the three basic categories: win, lose, or draw. Sometimes, however, a political event falls into the awkward middle ground between those realms.

Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate in Danville, Ky., is a potential example of this. Instant polls conducted after the debate are suggestive of something between a tie and a modest win for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

A CBS News-Knowledge Networks poll of undecided voters who watched the debate found 50 percent giving the advantage to Mr. Biden, 31 percent to the Republican, Representative Paul D. Ryan, and 19 percent calling the debate a tie.

A CNN poll of debate-watchers, however, had 48 percent giving the debate to Mr. Ryan, and 44 percent to Mr. Biden.
That CNN poll was among all viewers, not just among undecided voters. For a comparable sample to the CBS Snap Poll, here is a video of CNN's focus group of undecided voters.

Erin Burnett is with a Focus Group of undecided voters in Norfolk, Virginia with their reaction to the V.P. debate.
The good news for Biden is that he won when it came to beating expectations, while Ryan underperformed what the viewers expected of him. Also, Biden won the empathy question. However, Ryan won on substance. The end result was that it was a tie, with a third saying that Biden won, a third that Ryan won, and another third declaring the debate a tie. As for who won the most important prize of the night, votes, that was a tie, too, with each candidate gaining three votes.

Erin Burnett is with Focus Group of Virginia undecided voters as they review the best and worst moments of the debate.
The best thing about this debate for Biden is that his low point was on foreign policy while Ryan's was on abortion. I suspect abortion is a bigger deal for most people.

MSNBC also had a focus group. That one gave Biden a clear victory.

What about enthusiasm among already committed partisans?
The social media sentiment during the debate also seemed to flow along these lines. The liberals in my Twitter feed seemed a bit more satisfied with Mr. Biden’s performance than the conservatives were with Mr. Ryan’s, but it wasn’t a slam dunk.
That difference in enthusiasm can be seen in this WXYZ interview with the heads of Michigan's Democratic and Republican parties. Brewer is much more enthusiastic about Biden's performance than Schostak is about Ryan's.

As for how it affected me, check out this idea from Nate.
There is a plausible hypothesis, however, that some of Mr. Romney’s recent surge in the polls reflects a growing “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans. To the extent that Mr. Biden’s performance re-energized Democratic partisans, he may have left President Obama in a slightly better position than where he started the night.
That's how I feel. I saw this debate as a clear win for Biden, and it helped me feel less panicked than I did Tuesday morning. Nate, on the other hand, isn't convinced.
My best guess: perhaps Mr. Biden can be credited with what in baseball statistics would be termed a “hold”: something a bit shy of either a win or a save and which will probably seem perfunctory with the passage of time, but which might have done his team a bit of good.
I'll take a hold over the slide of the past week, thank you very much.

Finally, I have this to say to Eddie Munster and Willard the Rat--Malarkey and stuff!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Election news from campuses on the campaign trail

I should post something for tonight's VP debate, but I'm not up for it right now. Instead, it's time for the remaining election news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Change in the weather edition). There's enough here for an indirect comment on the upcoming matchup between Biden and Paul.

University of Arizona: 'Voices and Choices of the 2012 Election' to Create Positive Dialogue The three free special events are designed to create positive conversation around communication during election campaigns.
By Lori Harwood, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
October 5, 2012
The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is presenting three free special events as part of “Voices and Choices in the 2012 Election” – a star-studded panel discussion, a film and a cartoon debate.

“In election years, we get bombarded with negative media about the candidates, the voters and the issues,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“This year our college is offering an alternative. 'Voices and Choices' will engage Tucson in a positive dialogue about the election and the ways in which we communicate during campaigns. The events we have planned bring people from diverse perspectives together to talk and hopefully to have fun."
Purdue University: Economic issues, presidential election will be focus on Oct. 17 panel October 5, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Susan Swain, co-CEO of C-SPAN, will moderate a discussion with national journalists on economic issues and the presidential election at an audience-interactive forum on Oct. 17 at Purdue University.

Charles Blow, columnist for The New York Times, and Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason magazine, will present their views on the economy in a forum titled, "Your Money and Your Life: The Economy, the Election, and You."

The forum will run from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. Seating for the event will begin at 5 p.m. The discussion, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by Project Impact and Future Impact. The public also is invited to attend a pre-forum reception from 4-5 p.m. under the Mural in Stewart Center.
The event will be streamed live via webcast that will be available at mms://
University of Wisconsin: UW students prepare for president’s visit to campus
by Aimee Katz
Oct. 4, 2012
As President Barack Obama makes his way to speak in front of thousands on Bascom Hill on Oct. 4 — a month before the 2012 presidential election — many students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are adjusting their schedules accordingly to attend the historic event.

“It’s a great opportunity to become informed as we head toward the election,” says UW senior Heather Laing. “Most days, we don’t get the chance to hear from the leaders of our country. Events like this should serve as a reminder of the benefits of living in Wisconsin’s capital city.”

Other students echo this sentiment, saying they are looking forward to seeing to the president speak live in Madison, less than 24 hours after his first debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Here's the address, courtesy of The Daily Cardinal.

President Obama Visits Bascom Hill on UW Campus

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The state of the presidential contest on 10/10/12

Last Saturday, I made the following assessement in the introduction to Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Change in the weather edition).
Between now and the general election, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in swing states for either the presidential election or competitive contests for the U.S. Senate, plus those states holding presidential or vice-presidential debates during the week. Competitive states will be determined based on the percentage chance to win at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times. Those that show the two major party candidates having probabilities to win between 20% and 80% inclusive will count as swing states.

As of October 6th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Virginia, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
That's changed. As of last night, the presidential swing states are now Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio have moved back into the competitive column with 70-80% likelihoods of  Obama victories, while North Carolina has moved out with an estimated 80.3% chance of a Romney win. Nate Silver's latest entry reflects the new reality.

Oct. 9: Romney Erases Obama’s Convention Bounce in Forecast
Following another day of strong polling on Tuesday, Mitt Romney advanced into the best position in the FiveThirtyEight forecast since the party conventions. His chances of winning the Electoral College are now 28.8 percent in the forecast, his highest since Aug. 29. For the first time since Aug. 28, President Obama is projected to win fewer than 300 electoral votes. And Mr. Obama’s projected margin of victory in the national popular vote — 2.0 percentage points — represents the closest the race has been since June 27.

The forecast model is not quite ready to jump on board with the notion that the race has become a literal toss-up; Mr. Romney will need to maintain his bounce for a few more days, or extend it into high-quality polls of swing states, before we can be surer about that.

But we are ready to conclude that one night in Denver undid most of the advantage Mr. Obama had appeared to gain in September.
As I concluded last night's entry, it's time to get out the vote.

Why the well-off turn out to vote and what happens when they do

Here's the last election story from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Streambed on Mars discovered edition) on Daily Kos, which joins the press releases and articles I featured May the Force be with Elizabeth Warren tonight!, Romney should buy shares in Obama, and Consumer confidence up but mostly among Democrats. Hey, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

First, CNN explains Why the rich vote more.
By Annalyn Censky @CNNMoney
September 24, 2012: 5:46 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's well established that the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote.

But why aren't the less well-off turning out at the polls? In the 2008 presidential election, 80% of adults from families earning at least $100,000 a year voted, while only 52% of adults from families earning $20,000 or less cast a vote, according to data from the Census Bureau.
One reason for the voting disparity is that lower-income people tend to be less educated and not as politically active in general. In contrast, wealthier people are often better connected to donors, community leaders and politicians who encourage them to vote.

"People with more income are likely to feel like they have more at stake in terms of taxes, public services and various benefits," said Lane Kenworthy, professor of social and political science at the University of Arizona. "People with lower incomes are more likely to feel disillusioned, because they tend to feel like policy never changes."
This is no surprise to me. When I covered this year's Michigan Republican Primary, I noticed that the most well-off parts of Oakland County, Lake Angelus, Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, and the adjoining areas of Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, and parts of Troy, had the highest turnout. That most likely put Willard the Rat over the top in Oakland County, where he won 50% to 39%.

Join me over the fold for how this effect played out statewide in the 2010 general election.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The gas price rollercoaster jumped the tracks in South Haven

WOOD-TV has the story of an old-fashioned gas price war.

Prices were back up to the normal range by Monday evening.

While price competition is alive and well, an outright gas price war was something I haven't seen in a decade and never thought I'd see again. Surprise!

As for the local situation, we should be so lucky. Since the last report, gas dropped two more cents to $3.79 for about a week. Then last Thursday, the station at the corner raised its price all the way up to $3.95, while the three stations a few blocks away held firm at $3.79 for the day. The next day, I ran an errand and found that at least one of the three stations had joined the one at the corner, while the one across the street went up to $3.89. I put $20 of gas in at the lower priced station on the way back, as I didn't know if the price would go up. It turned out that it didn't. Yesterday, the station at the corner dropped its price to $3.89, where it remains tonight.

As for why the price shot up here, I have no idea. It certainly wasn't crude oil prices.