Random Thoughts

September 14, 2012

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It’s the end of the week.  Time to dump brain fragments into an article.

Should we hate Muslims?

In recent days, there has been more anti-American violence in the Middle East, including the killing of our ambassador to Libya.  Some are are quick to blame the Muslim world, or Islam in general, for the violence.  This is not the case.  It is violent extremists within the muslim community who are perpetrating the violence.  In fact, there were peaceful pro-American protests in Libya following the violence.  Violent extremists – be they Muslim, Christian, or Atheists – are the true enemy of society.

The typical Muslim is much like you or me – working to make sure there is food on the table, enjoying sports (although this may be soccer instead of football), and spending time with family. Your average muslim isn’t staying awake nights plotting ways to kill Americans; she’s staying awake because the baby won’t stay asleep.

If you don’t want to be judged by the words and actions of Pat Robertson and the Westboro “Baptist” Church, then don’t judge the Muslim world by the words and actions of a few.

Bacon Barter

Oscar Mayer is sponsoring a comedian’s trip across the United States.  He’s pulling a trailer with 3000 pounds of bacon.  He must trade the bacon for everything he needs – lodging, food, gas, etc.  I’m not really seeing the challenge.  People will gladly give you stuff in exchange for bacon.  If the guy had nothing but 3000 pounds of spinach … now bartering THAT for everything he needs would be a challenge.

Random Ken Griffey Jr. note

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Ken Griffey, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m attempting to become an Up and In .9er and was listening to episode 3 (from 2010) the other day.  They were chatting about Ken Griffey Jr. and how some younger fans don’t realize how good of a player he was in his prime.  I’m 37 and was discussing this with a 29 year old friend.  He had no clue that Griffey was a once-in-a-generation player before injuries took their toll.

How good was Griffey?  So good that he’ll waltz into the Hall of Fame despite a .260 batting average and a relatively modest 192 homers in his last 10 seasons – and a paltry 11 stolen bases.

In his first 12 seasons (starting at age 19) he hit .296 with 438 homers, 197 steals, an MVP award (top 10 six other times), eleven all-star appearances, and ten gold gloves.  438 homers is a good career for most players – and he was still just 30 at the end of that stretch.

Ignore the national polls

You’ll see news reports about about Obama or Romney leading or trailing by a couple of points in the national polls.  I’m never really sure why people care about the national polls.  We don’t have a national presidential election.  We use the Chuck E. Cheese model.  There are 51 smaller elections, and the winner of each of those elections gets a fixed number of points.  Collect 270 points and trade them for the big prize.

Realistically, 3/4 of the states aren’t in play.  Obama isn’t going to win Texas, nor is Romney going to win California.  It really boils down to handful of battleground states where either candidates have a realistic chance to win – and where the voters will be bombarded by ads and candidate visits.  While voters in some states might welcome a visit, most people I know here in Iowa just try to figure out a way to avoid traffic issues caused by visits.  I was delayed last Friday because they shut down the interstate to allow the presidential motorcade through – and I needed to find an alternate route home.

Baseball races

I still don’t like baseball’s extra wild card spots this year (I feel that it cheapens the playoffs), but it is certainly adding some drama to September.  The Phillies, long since given up for dead, have crawled out of their coffin to get back into the race.  The Dodgers and Cardinals are currently’s facing off in a four game series – if they split the series it could give the Phillies an opportunity to make up more ground.

In the American League, the Yankees have been slumping and the Orioles actually have a shot to win the East.  Baltimore is 19 games above .500 (81-62) despite being outscored by 20 runs this year.  The performance of their bullpen is allowing them to win a lot of close games.

Love my Kindle(s)

I picked up a “new” Kindle this week.  A friend is upgrading to a newer Fire – so I bought the old one (very lightly used) off him for substantially less than the new price.  That’s similar to the approach I used when buying my current Kindle Keyboard (I’m the third owner, and apparently the one one who did much reading with it).  The Fire was mostly bought as a tablet (poor man’s iPad) but may also give my wife the opportunity to test out eReading.

I bought another Lawrence Block book the other day.  I have a somewhat staggering 26 books (some are novellas) of his on my Kindle.  What would be really cool would be for Amazon to realize that I’m a fan and give me the option to buy all his other books (to complete my collection – I’m missing more than I have) at a reduced price.  Maybe offer a flat rate to buy all the remaining books as a lot.  Perhaps 40% off the current price?  They wouldn’t get as much for each sale, but they might make it up in volume – enticing people to buy books they might not have otherwise bought.

On a slight tangent, newer authors could offer lifetime subscriptions.  I like a guy’s first couple of books and I drop a couple hundred bucks and get the opportunity to download anything else he publishes in his lifetime.  Could be a good way for some younger authors to get some cash flow.

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Who Will Win The Election?

July 26, 2012

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As we get closer now to convention time, when the Presidential candidates will officially start the race for the White House it is time to look at the landscape that is actually going to determine the outcome of the election. That landscape is the Electoral College, where 270 is the number you need to achieve to win the election. So who has the best shot to win the election? There are certainly at this point in time the certain locked up states for each side, so you can tell from there what ground needs to be made up to get to the magical number.

Let’s take a look at The Rombot’s locked up states and how many electors they hold for him. You might as well chalk up Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia for the Republican nominee. So that is 186 electors in those 22 states that Mitt has in the bag right now.

Now let’s take a look at Obama’s locked up vote. You can count on Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C. for the Democratic nominee at this time. This accounts for 227 electors for Obama in these 18 states and one Federal District that is onboard with the reelection bid.

So that brings us to what is going to determine the election and all the coverage we will continue to see from now until election day, the battleground states. Now some of what is left is more likely to go to one candidate or the other but they are close enough at this point to describe them as where the battle will be waged in this election. There is one state in particular that four electors are with the Republicans already. That state is Nebraska, one of two states that divided their electors by congressional districts. So right now figuring that in Romney’s current number is 190. So going into the battleground states Romney needs to compile at least 80 more electors to win the election. The President on the other hand needs just 43 more electors to get a second term.

So lets look At this battleground with the electoral votes for each state in parentheses. We have the one elector available in Nebraska that I mentioned already, then we have Nevada (6), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), New Hampshire (4), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15) and Florida (29). Obviously with only 43 electors needed to win, the President has the easiest road to get to the victory here, but lets break it down state by state with the current polling info from Real Clear Politics.

Nevada: RCP Average 5/22-7/18 Obama 48.8 Romney 44.3
Colorado RCP Average 6/6-7/13 Obama 46.5 Romney 43.5
Iowa: RCP Average 5/22-7/15 Obama 45.8 Romney 44.5
Ohio: RCP Average 6/19-7/18 Obama 47.3 Romney 43.0
Pennsylvania: RCP Average 6/19-7/23 Obama 47.3 Romney 41.5
New Hampshire: RCP Average 6/20-7/15 Obama 47.3 Romney 44.3
Virginia: RCP Average 6/25-7/17 Obama 46.0 Romney 44.8
North Carolina: RCP Average 6/24-7/18 Romney 47.0 Obama 46.6
Florida: RCP Average 6/19-7/19 Obama 45.8 Romney 44.7

I could not find any real polling data on the Nebraska 2nd District electoral vote up for grabs, but if I were to make a guess it is pretty much a complete toss up. So as you see in the current polling landscape of the battleground, Obama leads in all but one state. The leads are stronger in others but at this point with needing only 43 electoral votes to get the win it is a nice situation to be in. So lets break things down from how I think things will go on the battleground states. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Romney’s pretty much complete lack of support from the latino community not named Marco Rubio that Nevada and its six electors will go to Obama. So that makes it 233-190. Then we have Colorado, I think Obama will win Colorado but it is close, so for argument’s sake here I will put that as well as Iowa, which I also feel Obama will squeak out a win to Romney. That makes the updated tally 233-205. Now it is considered a battleground, but I do not think it really will be, I say chalk up Pennsylvania for Obama. That makes it 253-205.

Now I think Obama will take Virginia and Romney will take North Carolina when all is said and done, so that makes it 266-220. That means Obama is a mere four electors away from wrapping up his reelection bid. You take into consideration that my own previous express sentiments that Obama will win in Colorado and Iowa and he would already have the election wrapped up here with three more battle states still left here to discuss. We will play on for the sake of things with the current count being 266-220. In the end I feel Florida goes to Romney 266-249. So at this point we have Ohio and New Hampshire left and winning just New Hampshire would give Obama the win I think Obama wins there and will win in Ohio as well. I think Obama will take the NE 2nd so one more vote there. So there you have it in my scenario here it is a pretty nice path right now to reelection for President Obama on the Electoral College landscape with a 289-249 victory.

There are also many ways that this things comes down to a tie, and they could be very likely. The outcome of that could bring you President Romney and Vice President Biden. Let’s pray for the best though that it does not need to come down to that, but in my humble opinion that will be the only way that Mittens will become President is that if the House has to appoint him. We will see how things go there still are a few more months left of this seemingly never ending campaign.