The only press coverage that Goode is getting for his wacky fourth-party presidential bid is for the possibility that he may be a spoiler for Romney in Virginia. This is another story in that vein. If Romney does lose Virginia by Goode’s Tuesday tally, a lot of people will be upset, but I’m pretty confident that Goode will not be among them. This is his fourth political party in the past decade—if need be, he’ll just join a new one. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
In 2008, Focus on the Family wrote this letter from the future, warning their members about life in 2012 if Barack Obama were elected president. It’s hilarious. Comedy gold. Everybody’s gay, children watch porn, electricity is all but illegal, prayer isn’t allowed…it’s a hoot. If it wasn’t for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I don’t think there’d be any media outlet that would later revisit and evaluate these sorts of claims. I wonder what Focus on the Family is claiming Obama will do with his next four years? And who would believe them? →
A Washington Post reporter interviewed five prep-school classmates of Mitt Romney’s, all of whom independently recalled that, in Mitt Romney’s senior year, he attacked a gay classmate. They say Romney led a small posse to the kid’s dorm room, where he was held down while Romney forcibly cut the crying boy’s shaggy, bleached blond hair. Decades later, the victim recalled to a former classmate how terrifying and life-affecting that the incident was. There’s something about these white, conservative, male politicians who grew up in wealthy, powerful families in the 1950s and 1960s that led them to engage in what they probably regarded as pranks, but their victims recalled as terrible, traumatic experiences. →
Karl Rove’s nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, just got an anonymous $10M donation to fund attack ads against President Obama. This is the second $10M+ contributions that the organization has received anonymously. Is there anybody who thinks that we should have a political system that allows anonymous, unlimited political contributions? Anybody? →
Forget the presidential race—the other responses are pretty amazing. Only 14% believe that the presidentis is Christian (45% believe he’s Muslim, 41% don’t know). Just 26% believe in evolution. One in five believe that interracial marriage should be a crime, with just 67% supporting its legality. It’s little wonder that these two states generally show up at the bottom of nearly any state index of success or well-being. →
Yes indeed, it’s happening. Goode is running on the Constitution Party ticket, as has been suspected for the past year. His campaign treasurer is, as always, his wife. The question is whether he’ll crack 0.5% of the vote. My suspicion is that, no, he won’t. →
- BBC News: CO2 climate sensitivity ‘overestimated’
Of all that is very clearly known about global climate change, the one connection that is not well understood is the quantity of climate forcing that results from each unit of CO2. That is, exactly how much additional heat can the atmosphere store for each each ton of CO2 that is added to it? One new study proposes that the existing model might be too pessimistic, basing that on the authors' theory that the last ice age wasn't as cold as has been believed. Their theorized rate of increase is still globally catastrophic, but comparatively speaking, it would be good news. The team's paper is published in Science magazine.
- Wikipedia: Franksgiving
In 1939, President Roosevelt made the annual declaration of a day of Thanksgiving—as had been done such President Washington—but selected the third Thursday in November, rather than the traditional last Thursday. That was at the request of retailers, who didn't want to violate the taboo of starting Christmas sales before Thanksgiving, but were worried that the fourth Thursday would fall too late in the year—November 30—to give them enough sales time. The moved date split the country, both along partisan lines and along state lines. Many states declared Thanksgiving holidays on the third Thursday, some on the fourth. This was repeated in 1940 and 1941, but it was settled by Congress, who officially designed the annual holiday as being the fourth Thursday, as of 1942.
- American Radio Relay League: US Amateurs Now 700,000 Strong!
There are more ham radio operators in the U.S. than ever before. Over 700,000 now. When I got licensed, in the early nineties, there were just under 500,000 licensed operators. I was one of the first people to get a codeless license, meaning that I didn't need to learn CW (aka Morse code); if that new class of license hadn't been established, I couldn't have passed the test. These days, I don't think CW is required for any of the three license classes—Technician, General, and Amateur Extra—which has surely helped this surge in licensing. (Fun fact: Long-time ARRL president Harry Dannals, aka W2HD, is a Charlottesville resident.)
- New York Times: Who’s on the Line? Increasingly, Caller ID Is Duped
Telemarketers are faking Caller ID information with apparent impunity, so that people believe that the IRS or the FBI is calling. (Just like spam!) The FTC has just filed their first complaint against a company for doing that. The FCC wouldn't comment as to what they're doing about it.
- Wikipedia: List of nicknames of United States presidents
John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, and Richard Nixon are the only former U.S. presidents who did not have a (non-derisory) nickname as president. ("Tricky Dick," for instance, doesn't make the cut.) President Obama does not yet have a nickname and, given how unusual his name is, I suspect he won't get one. The heyday of nicknames was the early 20th century, when a few popular given names reigned supreme—when three friends are all named "Michael," nicknaming is inevitable. The most popular names today are far less common than a century ago, making nicknames linguistically unnecessary.
- The Atlantic: What If the Law Required Campaign Contributions to Be Kept Secret?
If the process of collecting, tallying, and refunding campaign contributions was turned over to a blind trust, the effect on politics could be quite positive. Lawrence Lessig argues that it would become implausible to buy influence.
- New York Times: Herman Cain is a Candidate Writing His Own Campaign Rules
Running for president? Nah. Herman Cain has decided he'd rather go on a book tour. Much like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, Cain appears to view running for the Republican nomination as a cheap method of getting national press.
- MSNBC: Secret panel can put Americans on “kill list”
- New York Times: Farmers Strain to Hire American Workers in Place of Migrant Labor
It turns out that if you don't hire immigrants then Americans will not, in fact, do the work. That's the experience of one Colorado farmer, who raised his wages to $10.50/hour. Only 2/3 as many people showed up as he normally gets, and most of them quit within the day. The work is just too hard. I don't want to harvest onions. Do you?
- Bloomberg: Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales
The Koch Brothers have secretly, criminally sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, an enemy of the United States with whom it is unquestionably illegal to do business. This is no aberration for these bastards—they're out for a buck, and they don't care how they get it.
- Commonwealth Data Point: Expenditures by Agency
Wondering what the state spends its money on? Here's the state's checkbook, by agency, so read to your heart's content. A warning: good luck with the weird menu system. Somebody apparently thought that rather than menu items, it would be fun to just give people a single letter to try to decipher. O? F? S? P? I don't get it.
- MSNBC: Bachmann condemns Arab Spring, blames it on Obama
If stupid were bricks, she'd have a lot of bricks.
- Federal Register
If you haven't seen the website for the Federal Register in the past year, it's really a thing of beauty. Andrew Carpenter, Bob Burbach, and Dave Augustine put it together as an independent site, GovPulse,us, which the feds liked so much they asked the guys to take on the job of replacing federalregister.gov with what they'd put together for govpulse.us. It doesn't matter if you don't care about the Federal Register—the site makes it interesting to anybody.
- Science Now: ‘Dinofuzz’ Found in Canadian Amber
Feathers from Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, preserved in amber, are providing the first detailed look at how hair evolved into feathers. The 78-million-year-old feathers are really "dinofuzz"— not quite hair and not quite feathers. Eleven samples were found in all, and provide what seems like a great cross-sample of the varieties of dinofuzz in existence then.
- Media Matters: News Corp. Outlets Attack Obama Over Paper Clip
Fox & Friends and the New York Post are very upset that President Obama used a paper clip to hold together a document. Seriously. This is not The Onion.
- New York Times: Inmate Visits Now Carry Added Cost in Arizona
Want to visit inmates in Arizona prisons? That'll cost you $25. And it could be a couple of months before your application is approved. It would be difficult to list all of the reasons why this is an awful, awful idea.
- New York Times: Obama Moves Jobs Speech After Skirmish With Boehner
"The Senate Historical Office knows of no instance in which Congress refused the president permission to speak before a joint session of Congress."
- Cato Institute: Vouchers ARE Government Money, and That’s the Problem
"There is simply no way around the fact that vouchers are government funds, subject to whatever constitutional and statutory restrictions a state may place on their use." Yup.
- W3C: Personal names around the world
The World Wide Web Consortium has put together this great document about how people's names differ globally, and the implications of those differences on website and database development. I've long preferred simply providing a "name" field—none of this "first name" "last name" business—and this reassures me that this is the right path. Even folks not interested in website development would find the first half of this pretty interesting.
- ConceivablyTech: IE Falls Below 40% Market Share For The First Time Since 1998
The last time so few people used Internet Explorer, they were on version 4.0. This is a great sign of healthy competition in the browser market, something that really didn't exist after IE4 until just a few years ago.
- Gallup: Presidential Job Approval Center
This is a great little web app from Gallup, albeit one trapped in Flash without an API and lacking the ability to link to any data within it. They've got presidential approval data going back to Truman. Interestingly, Obama's popularity thus far mirrors most closely that of Reagan.
- MSNBC: Santorum—GOP not ‘anti-science’
Good for Jon Huntsman for acknowledging that the first step to getting the Republican Party out of the intellectual wilderness is to stop being anti-science. (Anti-science is anti-facts, and being anti-facts doesn't work for long.) Unsurprisingly, Rick Santorum says that his party isn't anti-science. He claims, by inference, that Huntsman asserted that believing in God is anti-science. That's a pretty fringy assertion that obviously Huntsman didn't make.
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: A new way to detect secret nuclear tests—GPS
GPS signals are affected significantly by atmospheric disturbances, and compensating for those disturbances has always presented a challenge. These researchers have devised and successfully tested a method of using that problem for the purpose of detecting nuclear explosions anywhere in the world. This is brilliant.
- ThinkProgress: Just One Week Into His Campaign, Rick Perry Disavows His Nine-Month-Old Book
"Why, that old thing? That book is what I thought LAST year."
- CBS News: Like Every Administration, White House Defends Obama "Vacation"
President Obama has taken 38 days of vacation so far in his presidency. At this point in Bush's presidency, he'd taken 102 days of vacation.
- Rick Perry’s Texas A&M Transcript
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's academic record is on par with President Bush's—which is to say, very poor—but perhaps most telling is the "D" that he earned in Principles of Economics. That's about right.
- Los Angeles Times: Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say
How could we have known that shipping 21 C-130s to Iraq full of $12,000,000,000 in cash to be distributed without any sort of bookkeeping or audit trail would end badly? I mean, who could have forecast such a thing?
- Wall Street Journal: Perry Points to ‘Idiotic’ U.S. Rule That Doesn’t Exist
In Rick Perry's imaginary United States, things are going very badly indeed. No doubt he has some imaginary solutions to propose.
- Physorg: Human precursors went to sea, team says
130,000 year-old stone tools have been found on Crete. What with being an island, that means that hominids that predate homo sapiens managed to cross open water. That was an ability that researchers had long chalked up to being one of those things that makes us special, but it looks like that's not so. If this turns out to be true, it'll really shake up our collective understanding of early hominid history.
- New York Times: Crashing the Tea Party
A Notre Dame political scientist and a Harvard professor of public policy (Robert Putnam, no less) have interviewed thousands of people to understand who comprises the Tea Party and what Americans think of them. The short version is that your average Tea Party member is a white, Republican, Christian, social conservative who doesn't like blacks or immigrants, and places a higher value on establishing an American theocracy than on reducing the size of government. Their values are almost entirely out of step with most Americans’. It is perhaps suitable, then, that public opinion of the Tea Party is awful. They're less popular than Republicans, Democrats, atheists, and—ironically—Muslims. On a related note, remember when the Tea Party pretended to be "nonpartisan"?
- Library of Congress: Lincoln and Johnson Poster
What strikes me about this 1864 Lincoln/Johnson campaign poster is that as much ink is used naming the electors as the candidates. Then, as now, we don't actually vote for president but, instead, we vote for a slate of electors who will represent our state in the Electoral College; it is those 538 people who actually vote for the president. These days, that's information that would surprise many people to learn, whereas in 1864, apparently it was just an accepted part of the electoral process.
- New York Times: Policy Changes Under Two Presidents
This chart of new costs versus savings under Presidents Bush and Obama is really striking. The total cost of Obama's new policies comes to $1.44T. Bush's? $5.07T. Just his tax cuts alone cost more than Obama's policies, at $1.8T. Once you figure in two wars, TARP, and the stimulus, we're talking about a great deal of money indeed.
- Wikipedia: States Rights Gist
CSA Brigadier General States Rights Gist, born in 1831, had a father who felt very strongly about politics. His family, from South Carolina, called him "States." He died at the Battle of Franklin, in 1864.
- Library of Congress: Soldier’s Joy
This tune has been played on nearly every instrument known to man since at least the late 1700s, which is as far back as historians have traced it. The version with lyrics dates only to 1957, when Jimmy Driftwood wrote them. Nearly every version that I've heard has been instrumental. Courtesy of the LoC, you can even hear a 1938 recording of Albert Gore and his band performing it at the National Folk Festival. If you're not familiar with Gore, you'll at least know of his son, Vice President Al Gore.
- Talking Points Memo: White House—We Thought We Were Down To The Details
Turns out the real reason that Boehner walked out on Obama on Friday is because Boehner demanded a repeal of the individual healthcare mandate. Which, ironically, would actually have worsened things, since the individual mandate will significantly reduce federal spending.
- New York Times: Some Parents of Gay Children Push for Marriage
I really enjoyed this article about the normalization of gay marriage having led to parents saying "OK, fine, you're gay, and now gay marriage is legal, so what's the holdup?" Gay or straight, kids are going to get nagged about marriage by their parents.
- UC Berkeley: Agonized pose tells of dinosaur death throes
So many fossilized dinosaurs were preserved in the same position: head and neck pulled backwards, bent halfway down the back. There has long been a standard explanation for this—drying tendons and ligaments pulled them into this shape—but attempts to simulate this in animal corpses have all failed. A new theory is that this is consistent with damage to the central nervous system, specifically damage to the cerebellum, perhaps through infection from algal blooms.
- AP: October 2010 Newsletter
It was only last fall that the Associated Press stopped distributing their news via satellite and moved to an internet-based distribution system. Wow.
- Tabulaw: What Congress Does When it Runs Out of Numbers
Congress recently passed a bill that created section 139D of the tax code. But there was already a 139D. No problem—they just kept the existing one. So there are two section 139Ds. Given my work on codes, this makes my head feel all explodey inside.
- New York Times: G.O.P.’s No-Tax Stance Is Outside Political Mainstream
The concessions that the president is offering to Republican leaders aren't just to the right of what the country wants, they're to the right of what Republicans want. But they're not far enough to the right for Eric Cantor and company, who are willing to cooperate on absolutely nothing. I'm left wondering why somebody unwilling to cooperate would be a member of a legislative body.
- The Atlantic: Sarah Palin Movie Debuts to Empty Theater in Orange County
What if they made a documentary about Sarah Palin, and nobody came? Seriously. Nobody. Just the reporter, all alone in the theater.