06 July 2010

Totally off topic, but beautiful

Guys, this is totally off topic, but:

CBabbitt has posted some amazingly beautiful nature photos on Flickr, here is one of them:

What agility, what grace.

Note: a hydroid is not a plant, it is a jelly, and a dangerous one at that. But stunningly beautiful.

02 July 2010

"This is where You're Fat"


Go take a look at the map and look at the group of states with the highest obesity rates (that would be the states that are bright red or orange). Anyone see a pattern? Actually, there are 2 patterns, one geological, the other, political. Fascinating.

Here is the map:

The map can also be adjusted for children. Here is how the children's map looks:

You can see both maps here at HealthyAmericans.org; the map there is a flash map and when you click on a state, a complete and detailed report comes up.

Note: unrelated to my quiz question, the state with the highest obesity rate for both children and adults is: Mississippi.

And now, the answer: the zone that has the highest obesity for adults is overwhelmingly in the Appalachian region (excluding OK) and politically, is the region including all 5 of the only 5 states that trended more republican than democratic in 2008 (WV, TN, LA, AR, OK). The other states (KY, MS, AL) trended democratic, although KY and AL trended so lightly democratic as WV and OK did trend GOP. Here is a map I made of this phenomenon in my 2008 analysis:

Is a fascinating point, eh???

That was your food for thought for the day.

01 July 2010

Flashback: January 2009 / prognostication over NEBRASKA


On January 26, 2009, I made the following audacious posting at my blog: The Invisible link between NE and TX.

The jist of the posting was that I thought that an attempt would be made in NE to repeal the elector splitting method that is only used by two states: NE and ME. At that time, BallotAccess.com put out a post that NE would be keeping it's system; I posted the following response on their website, which I prefaced in my blog with this:

"I have a most fascinating opinion on WHY this is the case and am very sure that my prediction is going to come true. "

And now, my posting:

There is a logic going on about this that is under the surface and being planned within the GOP. Let me explain.

TX is undergoing a major, and I mean, major demographic shift. IF the hispanics continue to support the democratic party in the way it supported Obama in the 2008 GE, this means that the chances are extremely high that TX will go “blue” within 8, at the latest, 12 years. With the DEMS having a solid lock on CA, NY and IL, and with FL a perennial bitter battleground, the only really big state of the big 5 that has been reliably republican has been TX. If TX goes blue, then the GOP has a major problem on it’s hands. Without TX in the red column, a GOP path to victory in a GE is practically impossible.

For this reason, according to my statistical calculations, I predict that the TX GOP will propose ELECTOR SPLITTING in Texas in either 2011 or 2013, at the latest in 2015, while they are still in power, knowing that when they lose power, the DEMS will never propose elector splitting. Their logic is solid in this case: better to lose just one half of the state than all of it when it goes blue. TX jumps to at least 36 electors as of 2011, perhaps 38 electors, and if trends continue, will have 41 electors by 2030.

But the GOP will have one hell of a time getting elector splitting through in TX if the general public sees that the GOP just killed elector splitting in NE.

For this reason, the GOP is sitting on it’s thumbs in NE. It’s willing to swallow the loss of one elector (NE-02) in order to cut very likely losses in TX in the future.

So, you see, the massive migration from the snowbelt to the sunbelt in our union looks good for the GOP at the onset, but within the gift of extra electors is a trojan horse, namely the blueification of a big state like TX. Not only that, but the western states that went for Obama in 2008 are likely to strengthen in the DEM column in the coming years. And AZ is not immune to this demographic shift.


Fast forward to 2010:

On January 7, 2010, state Senator Beau McCoy (R- district 39, Elkhorn, part of CD-2 that Obama won in 2008) put forth LB777, which was designed to remove elector splitting and return to the winner takes all system in the electoral college. This is the 8th bill of it's type since NE adopted elector splitting. The 7th bill was put forward in 2007.

Here you can see the history of how the bill wended its way through the legislature. As of March 1, it has been INDEFINITELY POSTPONED.

Why is this important? Well, in a state with an overwhelmingly republican leaning tradition, especially at the presidential level, you would think that this kind of bill would pass the legislature. Although Nebraska has a unicameral legislature and no "democratic" or "republican" primaries, but rather, does the jungle thing, of the 49 state senators, 32 give their affiliation a "republican" and 17 give their affiliation as "democrat", so the republicans have a barnburner majority in this legislature. But in spite of this, the bill, which is very direct, without riders and without pork, was essentially thrown away.

To make this mystery even more interesting, the person responsible for shelving the bill was the author of the bill himself, State Senator McCoy. Hmmmmmm...

The Bill got press: here and in a very related way, here.

According to NE law, 17 votes can block a bill. So maybe McCoy just figured that every democrat in the legislature would automatically vote against his bill, in spite of the fact that most democrats in NE are very conservative leaning.

Perhaps he has decided to wait for the results of the 2010 state legislature elections, in which 1/2 of the unicameral legislature will be elected, but based on the primary results, most of the SDs that are up for election were already republican controlled to begin with: 02, 04, 06, 14, 18, 20, 22, 24, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48

But 10 of those CDs are indeed currently held by democrats: 08, 10, 12, 16, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 46.

I do not know the lay of the land there good enough to make any prognostications, but there is the possibility that McCoy is hoping for a supermajority where the democrats have less than 17 votes in the legislature, then he could put his bill through again.

But my theory is that he was told from GOP upper-ups to can it, for exactly the reason that I put forth a year earlier.

How will we know which is true? Wait until January 2011, when the new legislature will be seated, and see if State Senator McCoy re-introduces his bill.

So, this is an important "under the radar" story. Stay tuned.