Friday, December 30, 2016

Year-End Numbers to Ponder

These are vote totals in past presidential elections (slightly rounded).

Obama (2008)                      69,499,000
Obama (2012)                      65,916,000
Clinton (2016)                       65,845,000
Trump (2016)                       62,980,000
Bush (2004)                          62,041,000
Romney (2012)                     60,934,000
McCain (2008)                      59,948,000
Kerry (2004)                          59,028,000
Reagan (1984)                      54,455,000
Gore (2000)                           51,000,000
Bush (2000)                          50,456,000
Bush (1988)                          48,886,000
Clinton (1996)                      47,402,000
Nixon (1972)                         46,740,000
Clinton (1992)                      44,910,000
Reagan (1980)                      43,643,000

Now I'm a big number questioning guy, which means I don't trust numbers unless I can see them, know who offers them to me, and then inquire into the interpretation of numbers by nearly anyone and everyone. That being said, consider my thoughts on these numbers.

1. (2016) It is NOT true that if Hillary had gotten as many votes as Obama, she would have won. If all those votes were not in key states, she still loses. Then again, if her margin in California (2+ million) was redistributed to swing states, she would have won an electoral college landslide.
2. (2012) Obama got 3.5M less votes than he got in 2008. Same election, Romney got a million more than McCain received in 2008, but even with that 4.5 million vote swing, the end result was the same.
3. (1984) The voters really liked Reagan, look how far out of an orderly progression is his total that year. The same can be said of Nixon in 1972.
4. Voter totals go up year over year over year, with only minor exceptions. That math is based on birth rate versus death rate and has nothing to do with who is running for office or if the voters care, again with minor exceptions like 2008 & 1984.
5. As long as we have the electoral college; in any scenario with competitive race for the presidency, it will be more important where you get your votes, not how many you get.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Internet Factoid of the Year - 2016

In an article about the python invasion of the Florida Everglades, I found this factoid.

It seems that Guam was invaded by the Brown Tree Snake after the species was introduced by all of the naval cargo ships during World War II. The snakes nearly wiped out the native bird populations in the years that followed. 

But enterprising naturalists found a couple of ways to finally eliminate the snake threat and thereby create my nominee for Internet Factoid of the Year.

"During World War II, heavy ship traffic brought the non-native brown tree snake to the island. There had never been a snake species on that island before, and the local birds had no idea how to evade it. In the decades since, 12 native bird species have gone extinct.
“That really shows how we’ve underestimated these animals in the past,” Boback says. “It took literally 20 years for scientists to admit that the brown tree snake was established and was causing population declines of these birds.” 
Eventually, officials did figure out how to deal with the brown tree snake in Guam. They devised clever traps, baited with live mice, that the snakes could squirm into but couldn’t easily escape. More recently, people have injected dead mice with acetaminophen (Tylenol) — which is deadly to snakes — and fired the mice out of a helicopter into trees to bait and kill the snakes. Once an area is cleared of snakes, they can reintroduce bird species." (
My nominee for Internet Factoid of the Year: Tylenol laced dead mice fired into trees from helicopters.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday, December 09, 2016

Big Man Reprise

[This post originally appeared here in March of 2010.]

About five weeks (and six years) ago I wrote a post titled Big Week. With that post I used a photo of an art work titled Big Man.

I added the following credit to that post: Ron Mueck (Australian, b. 1958). Big Man, 2000. Mixed media, 80 x 47 1/2 x 80 1/2 in. (203.2 x 120.7 x 204.5 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

But that was clearly not enough. I get a lot of comments about the images I use on this blog but the Big Man generated a small but powerful wave of communication from many diverse places.

Yes, he does look like me or I like he, whichever. So here are more views of the Big Man, including a short video, if you are interested.

And yes, I did use that first picture, the face and hand only, as my look-alike on Facebook for several years.

This last one conveys the feeling I get sometimes when I go looking for companionship, partnership or perhaps love via an online dating service. I call it: Naked Scrutiny.

As of December 2016 that original post has been viewed over 6,000 times, the most eyeballs of any post I have made here in nearly 10 years.

Friday, December 02, 2016

A Different Perspective

A month on from the election, we have all had time to ponder the results and what those numbers might mean going forward. I have not been reticent in expressing my views but not here . . . yet.

Today, however, in lieu of my thoughts, I am drawn to the perspective of someone close to me. In the days following the vote, streets in many cities were filled with protestors. One successful candidate could not resist the urge to twitter. He wrote:

"Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!" 

A month ago, I looked at those words and decided to pass, the time was not right for me to add vitriol to the stew of post-election angst. But my friend had another perspective which has stuck with me these many weeks. She observed the president-elect's tweet was unfortunate and:

 "The first of a thousand missed opportunities." 

The president-elect continues to demonstrate he is that guy, not interested in bringing the nation together, nor reaching out to others. How many missed opportunities will it take before the realization of what we have done really sinks in?