Wednesday, November 04, 2015

2016 predictions

Yesterday was election day for a lot of things that didn't matter much. That means we're one year from picking a new president. I have some expectations for that election. This is almost certainly unwise, you should never put out a record of predicting the future in a way where you can be proven wrong later. But I think it's fun, and I think I have a pretty good track record for broad predictions in the last two presidential races. So here comes my prophecy for 2016. Succeed or fail, you can expect me to link back to this post one year from now.

This post is probably going to make some of my friends angry, so please bear in mind that (1) this is what I EXPECT will happen, not necessarily what I HOPE will happen; and (2) This is far from certain, and I am open to admitting how wrong I was, but I do have enough arrogance to say "I told you so" if I am right. Arguing in the comments will probably not be educational to me or any other participant, but I predict it will happen anyway. :)

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be the only candidates in the race very soon. The national polls today show Clinton ahead of Sanders by roughly a factor of 2:1. That gap will shift around a little, he may get as close as 3:2 at some times, but after the day when a bunch of Southern states vote, it will be fairly clear he's not going to win. He will remain in the primary race until at least half the states have voted, but not much longer.

Sanders will accept defeat with relative grace, and will announce that he supports Clinton (with clearly stated reservations). He will probably be offered a cabinet position or even the VP spot. He won't necessarily accept. Many Sanders fans, on the other hand, will be very angry. They will declare that the system is rigged, and threaten not to vote for Clinton or anyone. Some of them will definitely follow through on this threat, although if Sanders does join the ticket then all bets are off.

Donald Trump will continue grabbing headlines for a while. He still be in the news all the damn time six months from now, because he's hilarious to talk about, but he won't be the candidate. After the first few states vote, there will be one or two very obvious choices for the most viable "anti-Trump candidate." Many other Republicans will finally start to drop out, and the remaining primary voters will coalesce around the anti-Trump. I have no idea who this candidate is right now, but I don't think it's Ben Carson. Wild guess: Marco Rubio has a shot. Don't hold me to that one.

Trump will call the eventual anti-Trump a loser in public many, many times, before that person becomes the official GOP candidate. Trump's concession speech will be incredibly petty. The Republican candidate will be more moderate than most of the candidates running today, and Republican voters in general will be really tepid in their support for him, but they'll grumble and go along with it anyway and pretend to like him.

Not-Trump nominee will try to fire up the base by saying and doing things that will alienate a lot of voters who aren't Republicans. He will especially be a complete dick to women, racial minorities, and non-Christians.

Clinton will have a lot of Barack Obama's campaign team on her staff. They will make very careful plans about which states they need to focus on in order to guarantee victory, and they will ask a lot of volunteers to help keep Democrats interested in the race. Republicans will constantly repeat that most people agree with them on all the issues, and that the polls which say otherwise are just the liberal media lying as usual.

Hillary will win the popular vote by a relatively small margin, but her strategists will ensure that she wins the electoral vote by a ridiculous number that is an obvious landslide. Republicans will say the election was stolen, and they'll also focus on the popular vote to say that Clinton has no mandate.

Gerrymandered districts will guarantee that Republicans keep the house, but it's a toss-up whether they keep the Senate. They will immediately begin discussing how to impeach Clinton before her term starts.

I have spoken. You are hereby invited to bookmark this post and dredge it up so you can make fun of me once I am proven wrong.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Trumpmania! and a grand unified theory of the Republican party

Well... it's been two years since I posted here. This blog is in a weird area of my attention, because these days I do so much small scale writing on Facebook and Twitter that I don't feel a strong need to write blogs very often; and when I do, The Atheist Experience blog gets most of my attention. But ya know, political season is almost upon us, and writing about politics is one niche that I think this blog definitely still fills.

Ed Brayton​ posted the following on Facebook:

"I will win is the Hispanic vote … I’ll create jobs, and I’ll get the Hispanic vote … the Hispanics love me." -- Donald Trump 
New poll: 81% of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 13% with a favorable view. 
Yep Don, they love you. Absolutely love you. That's what happens when you view the world through gaudy gold-plated glasses.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, revisited

Lynnea and I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind last night. The only other time I've seen it was in its theater release in 2004. It's weird to think how different everything was back then. Ben was two years old, I hadn't started grad school yet, and my first marriage still seemed more or less stable. Hard to believe, but it was nine years ago. I remembered very well that the movie was a good mind screw, but I hadn't remembered all the details, so really I went through the surprises all over again. Lynnea had not seen it before at all.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Superman vs. the Klan.

I downloaded a series of episodes of the old Superman radio serial called "Clan of the Fiery Cross," which Ben and I have started listening to in the car.  These episodes have some historical significance, as told by Wikipedia and this book:

Apparently There was a human rights activist who infiltrated the Klan and documented a bunch of secret meetings.  He went to the producers of Superman with this information, and they turned it into a series of episodes in which Superman battles the Klan as the main villain.  It helped a lot in delegitimizing them.  Naturally, I love stories about using entertainment media to solve real social problems.

It's really funny to listen to old radio shows.  As a kid I owned some cassette tapes with selected episodes of George and Gracie, The Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, and Charlie McCarthy, so I'm familiar with the big-talking style of radio stories, but it's new to Ben and he finds it hilarious.  We've only heard one episode out of 16 so far, so we've only gotten vague hints that Klan members will show up.  What makes it particularly funny is that it's full of slang from the 40's.  I simply have no idea whether the dialogue is well written or sounded natural when, for example, everybody keeps referring to one character (a little league pitcher) as a "sorehead."  "He's such a sorehead!"  "Don't be a sorehead, buddy!"  Over and over again.

It also led to a discussion with Ben about why the production values are so low.  He mentioned that the radio show -- which obviously has one guy playing an organ for all the background music, heroic or sinister -- doesn't sound as good as a movie or TV show.  I pointed out that it costs a lot to compose a professional score and hire a full orchestra, and these guys had to crank out an episode every week, plus the business of radio shows may not have been big enough to justify any kind of serious budget.

What's especially interesting is how thoroughly integrated the advertising is with the show.  One minute the announcer will be breathlessly describing the exploits of Jimmy Olsen, and another minute he'll be saying, "Kids, Kellogg's Pep is delicious.  When your mom brings you Kellogg's Pep, make sure you eat it ALL and don't waste any.  And pass on this important information to your family, so they'll know how to eat Pep properly."  These ads would go on for about two minutes, and Pep was the only product being advertised in the first show.  (I looked it up, Pep was a competitor to Wheaties and contained toy prizes like Cracker Jacks did.)

It was comically transparent, and it made me wonder whether or not advertising has gotten cleverer or more subtle since then.  To be honest, the way I consume media allows me to avoid the most obnoxious commercials.  I don't have a cable subscription, so everything I watch is via Netflix, DVDs, movie theaters, or downloads, and I have ad filters on all my browsers.  When I see a commercial on TV outside my house it tends to make me cringe.  Still, it's probably not as bad as the actors waving products around while doing the show.

You can download the episodes from this archive, or look them up on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election night cheer

Now let's see here... as I write this, Florida, Virginia, and Montana are the only states still considered too close to call, but Obama is ahead in all three.  Absent those results, the electoral votes stand at 290-200.  Obama could lose them all and he still has the election.  If Obama wins them all, that would be 338-200.  That would mean that Obama beat Romney and it wasn't close.

Who could have predicted such an outcome?

...Oh that's right, ME.

The technology of election turnout: My experience as a phone bank volunteer

Happy election day, everybody.  Nate Silver shows Barack Obama with a 91.6% chance of winning today, and a projected electoral college of 315-223 votes.  I look forward to the results at the end, so that I can see whether my "not at all close" prediction from early May will give me gloating rights or make me look foolish.  This guy, of course, still believes that Romney is way ahead and has been the whole time.  We'll see, right?

This week I used up some of my remaining Paid Time Off days.  While I was out of the office, I decided to take a break from the obvious regimen of improving at video games, to visit a local phone bank.  I put in six hours on Saturday, and three on Monday.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Election thoughts 2: Momentum and winning with intangibles

In my last post I talked about the long term consequences of the Republican strategy and about why Mitt Romney is losing as a result of it.  The question, though, is just how badly he is losing.

I've linked to often, since it is a site which breaks down polls state by state and collects them into an overall picture of how the important numbers may shake out in the election.  A similar site, with better analysis, is Five Thirty Eight, a New York Times blog run by Nate Silver, which uses some complicated math formulas to forecast the probabilities of each candidate winning.  (538 is the total number of electoral votes available from all 50 states.)


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Election thoughts 1: Divide, conquer, and lose

This election season has been great for making me feel overconfident.  Back in early May, I predicted thaObama is going to beat Romney, and it's not going to be very close.  With less than two months to go, I see no reason to revise that estimate.  When I made my prediction the score was 290-215 electoral votes.  As of today, it is now 319-206; the lead that was overwhelming before has increased by 38 EVs.

And talking about overconfidence, lately I've been leaning towards a theory that the Republican party is even more screwed than they appear to be.  It all has to do with a strategy proposed to Richard Nixon, which has worked very well for Republicans but seems to be backfiring now.