Working As Intended


Posted on : 2/02/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Anyone with a modicum of American civics and history education knows that our President is selected via process that is known as the Electoral College.  Votes for President are in reality votes for electors that will represent a given state when the College meets in the weeks following the election.

But why use an intermediary organization?

At the time of our nation's founding, there was a concern that a candidate with regional appeal would be able to garner enough votes from a few populous states to win in a straight popularity election.  The use of the Electoral College was intended to cause candidates to campaign more broadly in order to demonstrate their appeal to a greater cross section of the electorate.

While there are those that suggest that the 2000 election was a fluke, I strongly contend that it was proof that the Electoral College system was functioning as intended.  While Mr. Gore did receive more popular votes, he failed to win enough electoral votes to win the presidency.  A look at the county-by-county map from that election clearly shows Mr. Gore as appealing almost uniformly to a select group of urban centers.

Of course, let's be honest with one another.  The closeness of that election clearly indicates that Mr. Bush could have done more to broaden his support among voters.  It was a close election after all.

In the wake of the 2000 election, we were treated to all manner of leftish initiatives to abolish the Electoral College in favor of using the popular vote.  Apparently, they could not conceive of a condition where a Democrat might beat a Republican in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.

More recently, there has been the news of GOP initiatives in a few states to change the state election laws to split those electoral votes based on voting trends within the respective congressional districts.  The theory is that this change will make the GOP more competitive in future Presidential elections.  It is based on looking backwards at the 2012 election where Mr. Obama won a number of crucial "winner takes all" states by very narrow margins.

These current initiatives are as idiotic as the prior attempts to convert us to using the popular vote.  In fact, they are nothing more than an attempt to move us partially down the road to using the popular vote.  Apparently, today's GOP cannot conceive of a condition where a Republican could lose to a Democrat under their proposed distribution of electoral votes where they might win under the current "winner takes all" system used in most states.

That last item is pretty important.

There have been all manner of hyperbolic claims about the GOP "rigging" future elections or "stealing" future elections with these proposals to alter the distribution of electoral votes.


Excuse the language, please.

Nebraska and Maine currently use a proportional distribution of their electoral votes and have done so for years.  The Constitution permits states to determine how their electoral votes will be distributed.  The current "winner takes all" approach that is used in most states is legitimate only because it represents the current election laws of those states.  Those state legislatures can legitimately decide to use some different system at any time.

Again, let's be honest with one another.  America is significantly divided.  Dense urban centers and many of the surrounding suburbs support Democrats almost exclusively.  Less dense urban centers, associated suburbs, and rural American support Republicans almost exclusively.  These two groups have decisively different views about the role of government in our lives.  Until that difference of opinion gets resolved, I do not see our political tensions as abating any time soon.

But as long as actions taken by either side are kept within the law, charges of "rigging" or "stealing" elections are entirely out of place.

Universal "Christ"


Posted on : 2/01/2013 04:54:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Or at least, the universal application of "Christ" comic strips!  What an asshole.

Who Invented The Wheel?


Posted on : 1/31/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

While it probably was not the late Johnny Hart, he probably should get an honorable mention for the invention of the Solowheel.  Found via the Chicago Tribune.

Making Hell


Posted on : 1/30/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Zack Kopplin of Louisana made the news a couple weeks back.  He has apparently spent most of his high school career and part of his college career fighting against a law that essentially took science out of the science classroom and replaced with religion.

Good for him.  Keep it up.

Parenthetically, I disagree with his take on global warming.  There are some reasonable scientific criticisms of some of the work that has been done in this area.  Real science involves testing theories for weaknesses rather than shouting "the science is settled".  No real scientists ever believe that science is "settled".

At least, not without a few hundred years of experience.  And anthropogenic global warming lacks that sort of experience by a few hundred years.

But I would expect that reasonable people of science should be able to rationally discuss those differences of opinion without resorting to "the Bible says" or "the science is settled".

A Big Cup


Posted on : 1/29/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Very funny ad.  Pity some folks don't have a sense of humor.

Book Recommendation - Lucifer's Hammer


Posted on : 1/28/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

A comet comes dropping into our solar system from the reaches of space between the stars.  Astronomers and physicists believe it will pass close to the Earth.

But exactly how close?

"Lucifer's Hammer" is the tale of a comet that travels around our sun and then sprays the surface of the earth with disastrous results for humanity.  It is the tale of the humanity that survives...barely...the impact of several mountains upon the earth, the earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis hundreds of feet tall, fires, floods, famine, and humanity itself.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle tell their story from several different perspectives; one of the discoverers of the comet, the producer/director that prepares a documentary series on the comet, a couple government scientists, a US Senator, a thug/community activist, an Army sergeant, a postal carrier, an engineer in charge of building a nuclear power plant, four astronauts, and the friends, family, and co-workers that surround them.  Some survive.  Most don't.  Most of the survival isn't pleasant.  Some isn't too bad.

I'd rather have electricity, modern medicine, technology, and all that entails. 

For the first half of the book, I was pretty certain that this book wouldn't make my book recommendation series.  Due to the number of characters, the book jumps quite a bit from scene to scene.  While I have read many books that use the same plot device, in this case it was a bit difficult to mentally separate the people and scenes so that the context of the progressing story would remain intact.

By comparison, the books of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series unfold in a dozen locations across two different continents.  The characters and locations are described in sufficient detail and exist with sufficient diversity that jumping from scene to scene and character to character does not detract from the story.

And then the comet struck.  After that point, I behaved in a most disreputable fashion; reading until way past midnight when I clearly should not.

Imagine a world where a diabetic scientist chooses to manufactures mustard gas and catapults instead of developing a means of manufacturing insulin.  And is considered a hero for his fatal choices.

Imagine a world without technology.  A world where a simple lathe would be a miracle.  A world where either your moral calculus shifts, or you die.  A world where an eight hour work day and a five day work week are luxuries.

I'd rather not.  But for 629 pages, I did.

Buckley And Allen


Posted on : 1/27/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

A humorous exchange between two most unlikely people; William F. Buckley and Woody Allen.

Turn down the sound on your speakers.  The audio is quite loud.