October 31, 2004

Electoral College = Genius

How could you not love the electoral college system? I don't have a clue how you could look at it objectively and not conclude that our system for electing the President and Vice-President is amazingly fair and representative. In the same way that the House and Senate strike a perfect state/federal balance in legislation, so does the electoral college system in our elections.

For anyone not entirely familiar with the Electoral College: When you vote Tuesday, you are actually choosing your state's Electors, who will then, in December, vote for President and Vice-President. Colorado, for example, sends 9 electors to Washington, one for each representative and one for each senator in that state. So, pending the outcome within Colorado the Republicans have 9 Electors in waiting should Bush win Colorado, and the Democrats likewise have their Electors should Kerry win. Winner take all. Although the Electors are not legally bound to cast their vote for their party's candidate, this is nearly never an issue as they are handpicked, typically for their financial support or physical labors for the party.

The premise in the Electoral College system is that each state be given weight based on both population (Electors equalling the number of Representatives in the House), and upon an equivalence amongst states in the Union (as in the Senate, 2 per state, large or small). So Rhode Island, for instance, isn't just a couple hundred thousand votes anymore, it is 3 Electors, much more relative weight than say, New York's 31 Electors.

So what's all the fuss, then?

On a few certain occasions the winner of the presidential election actually lost the overall popular vote, as in the year 2000 when Al Gore received roughly 500,000 more votes than the eventual winner GW Bush.

This fact seems to insult the common sense of an awful lot of people. Not just Bush v. Gore, but that the popular vote did not pick the winner. Consequently, over the past century there have been an enormous number of calls for amending the Constitution to drop the Electoral College and choose the Presidency on a straight nationwide popular vote. After all, the United States is unique throughout the world for maintaining such a system.

I'll be blunt. It would be idiotic to drop the Electoral College. The author of this article at least a couple of times says that the Electoral College has "failed" us, meaning, it has produced a result in conflict with the popular vote tally. But this is exactly the point of the electoral college, exactly why this system has in those few times actually succeeded in precisely the way it was intended.

Here's why. California alone, or New York alone, could account for a 2,000,000 vote difference in any given election, meaning that in practice these two states would be the only two states that would ever matter to the candidates. In a popular vote, one candidate may do reasonably well in merely the couple or few largest population centers, and easily win the election despite losing in perhaps 40 to 45 other states. This would be ridiculous. Would you want the Incumbent President and the upcoming challenger to constantly cow-tow to the whims of perhaps 2 big states with precisely zero accountability to the rest? The other 48 states may as well not exist because their populations are absolutely no match against CA and NY. Even if we include the next 3, 5, or 9 states by size below these two, there would be a monstrous weighting of interest against the remaining 80% of the states. Every presidency, looking forward to the next election, and every campaign by both the incumbent and the challenger, would focus on all the biggest cities in the biggest states.


Thanks for playing, Georgia, bye bye Missouri.
Did you say something, South Carolina?


Read The Rest HERE

October 25, 2004

Figure Skaiku

ice skater half pike
like a platform diver but
water way too cold

Read The Rest HERE

October 23, 2004

Better Late Than Never

Within this past year I found a long lost cousin.

Not that he was lost.

We just had never really met, Mike and I. The circumstances of our lives had sent us to different corners of the country to experience the world in entirely different ways. My own dad was about 14 years older than Mike's dad, so I was already turning 18 and graduating high school when Mike was born.

Few of the cousins on my dad's side of the family really know each other anyway. Those Sheffler brothers - our fathers and uncles - spread out through the country like depression-era bank robbers. Must have been a plan of some sort. "Ain’t no one gonna find us."

One Uncle of mine had a couple of daughters with his first wife, and a son with his second, all of whom I knew as a child. But I’ve never seen any of them in about, hmmm, let’s say 30 years now. One of them, Teena, contacted me a couple years ago and we’ve traded photos and phone calls on occasion but I have yet to meet her face to face. I still see her as a 4-year old!

My dad’s oldest brother has always remained in Detroit so I didn’t meet his kids until I was 19 when my grandparents had their 50th wedding anniversary at our house in San Diego.

I did actually know my cousin Debbie up into my teens, at least as much as one would know a twice-yearly visitor. I saw her fairly often because she lived with my grandparents after being left fatherless at a very early age. She was left sisterless too on the same tragic day. My own sister tells me Debbie was at my first wedding but I honestly don’t have a memory of that.

It was no surprise, then, that when I ran across Mike on a random internet search, looking for Shefflers in the state of Oregon (I can explain that one later), I didn't even realize he was my relative. Silly me. For years I’ve found distant relatives, 5th and 6th cousins I should never guess were related, hiding in towns I’ve never heard of. I’m pretty good at that, yet my youngest 1st cousin Mike had to remind ME who the hell I was talking to.

In actuality I had once met him, when he was an infant. It was just two hours, on one of those afternoons when my girlfriend and I were blazing through town on some concert-going fly-by.

"Hi Aunt and Uncle, what’s up, can’t believe I found this house, it was completely on instinct, I knew it was around here somewhere because I remember the off ramp and the high school and the big hill, from when my parents drove me here as a kid to see Gramma and Grampa. We used to sleep upstairs when it was your room! (don't .. mention .. the .. uh .. posters ..)

"Hey, there’s that teeny weeny kitchen and the lightswitches that used to be toggle buttons! There’s that old garage in back with the visqueen windows where great-grampa used to tumble rocks in the little cylinder to make them smooth! And the two thin strips of crumbling cement that acted like a driveway! And the clawfoot tub, and the heater vent in the floor where grampa used to come out in the morning and just stand on it while he read the paper."

I remember his workboots sat there next to him on the grating like faithful dogs basking in the warm air. Oh yeah, and he had faithful dogs too. Little annoying chihuahuas.

But I digress.

To make my point, my cousins are actually just childhood memories to me, at best.
So: Mike! Glad we’ve made an acquaintance finally, so many years past the point of reasonably acceptable.

My cousin Mike has apparently been told he ought to get to know my dad because he’s so much like him. Like, exactly like him. I think that’s pretty accurate. You’re both total geeks. And, uh, I mean that in a good way. Geek to geek.

But dad’s never been a gin & tonic guy. And to be completely square with you, if in a few years you find that being "able" to be a brainiac whilst partying like a rennaissance-man-gone-bad, has proven to be a hindrance to your career development.. well, then you’re more like me, not dad.

So here’s to the Shefflers! Whoever we are.

Read The Rest HERE

October 22, 2004

Hey, that's not half bad...

Note to self: Politically top-heavy. Mix in sports and sex, art, history, movies, music, and many personally embarrassing anecdotes. Make this blog more appealing even to yourself.

That said... Gonna bash all that youthfull political exhuberance I see going around. Yes, I'm just picking on the "choose-or-lose" crowd today. Just an itch I need to scratch.

What is always amazing to me, and why I made a comment about polls meaning nothing, is that so many well-meaning Democrat-leaning would-be voters who show up quite vociferously on opinion polls, never actually show up at the ballot box.

No foul play. Just plain laziness and the false sense that their "one" vote isn't necessary.

They sleep in and they have a class at noon and a 2 p.m. restaurant shift, gotta run because it's lunchtime, they're starving, so they just blow it off because "doh!" they forgot where they put the voter guide with their polling address.

You know who I'm talking about. YOU.

Granted, lately I'm reading about some sort of astounding and unprecedented levels of voter registration this year so maybe YOU got off your ass. We'll see.

All in all it's pathetic that in America only 3 out of 4 eligible voters even register... AND THEN only 2 out of those 3 even bother to vote. And that's on a good day. Imagine that!

Altogether, that means HALF of the people who could vote actually do vote.

" ... I think I'll just pick up Wednesday's newspaper and see who's running my country for me ... Hey, Whoa! ... "

So, fully 50% of the people in America who are either whining or cheering the state of affairs in this country really ought to just SHUT UP and vote next time. Every next time.

Read The Rest HERE

October 21, 2004


political blogs
floating in the lurkosphere
guess i'll watch t v

Read The Rest HERE

The Process

With polls you can just never tell.
You won’t really know until election day.


It's not over until the ballot booths all close.
And the votes are counted.
And all the major networks declare a different winner at least three times.
And everyone gets befuddled.
And both acceptance speeches are cancelled and everyone goes home and a recount is demanded for an entire state and the protests rage and lawsuits fly and the candidates both pick cabinets and walk around all Presidential-like and commissions are established and counting methods are argued and the State Supreme Court extends the re-count and the U.S. Supreme Court vacates that decision and Larry King interviews EVERYBODY without asking a single real question and the counts conclude but the Election Czar refuses to accept some Counties' because they've passed the deadline and it’s getting on toward Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice and the State Supreme Court allows a RE-RE-count and the U.S. Supreme Court "remands" and everyone figures out that it really just means the Federal Bench just threw the whole issue out with yesterday’s newspaper.
And then tomorrow’s paper names the new President.

Polls really mean nothing.

Read The Rest HERE

October 01, 2004

Lurk Link

I've been quite the Lurker. Daily I read the blogs of my cousin and his friends and their fellow Blogistas, and I've been commenting for a few months now. It's like, now I get to drain everything I've packed into my grey matter for 2 decades. The Blogglers are all young. I'm old. They're smart. I used to be. Ok yes, it's all relative. They're early-mid-twenties and I'm 41 to be more precise.

Typing across this enormous chasm of experience is exactly like talking to the 23 year old me. Only, the 23 year old me would have only just switched from a rotary phone to a touch-tone, and wouldn't yet see a music CD or even a pager for a few more years. The 23 year old me would still have the very first model of the Apple MacIntosh computer sitting in his living room in all of it's 4K, 6-1/2" screen glory. Or whatever the hell size it was.

But back to my lurking. I've been reading and commenting a lot on the sensationally well-written blog of one Luke Baumgarten (did I get that right? Call him Luke). I was led to Luke's Blog by the sensationally well-written blog of one Mike Sheffler, a cousin of mine with whom I've only made a fairly recent aquaintance.

I liken all this blogmenting to having chats across space-time with a younger me. Really, despite the Jetsons vs. Flintstones air to it all, the issues are oddly the same. I don't know if this is good or bad. Has nothing changed in 20 years but our freaking phones?

Luke and Mike are in tip-top analysing shape. They are very busy rooting out the meaning of life and the mechanisms responsible for our existence, all while admitting they can't find their way around the city or get a single decent haircut inside of a decade. They have their teeth sunk firmly into the cultural cacaphony and the political miasma that is early 21st Century America. Which I like.

It's only appropriate then that my first real post here on my very own blog is merely a link to my most recent comment on Luke's Blog.
I may re-work it and drag it back here and make a whole post of it here later.

Just make sure to find your way back.

Read The Rest HERE