Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Margin of error

I've been looking at political polls a lot recently. In my attempt to understand them, I've been thinking about the terms thrown about with explanation, one of which is "margin of error".

I don't think margin of error means what people think it means. You will often see polls like this: Bruce Scott (R) 51% v. Scott Bruce (D) 49%, margin of error 3%. To which people respond, "that's a dead heat since it's within the margin of error". Not exactly. Margin of error cuts both way; the real percentage is as likely to be 54-36 as it is 48-52. Given that, there are seven possibilities (54-36, 53-37, 52-48, 51-49, 50-50, 49-51, and 48-52). If one assumes that each of these possibilities is equally likely, then the "republican" wins 4 out of 7 times, the "democrat" 2 out of 7 times, and the lawyers 1 out of 7 times.

I realize that this is a gross oversimplification. To begin with, votes almost never break in even integer percentages, but the 2:1 win ratio for the "republican" v. "democrat" will apply for fractional results as well, the percentage of ties, however, will shrink. It is also probably that there is some sort of bell curve for these possibilities, so that 54-36 and 48-52 are equally likely, but both are less likely than 53-37 and 49-51. Even given that, the area under "republican" side of the curve will be greater that the area under the "democrat" side of the curve. I suspect that the 2:1 ratio might even still apply.

I also realize that I've never taken a course in statistics or probability, and that I may be completely wrong here. But until someone explains to me why this reasoning is wrong, I'm going to assume that "margin of error" is something that can almost be ignored.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Suggested reading.

I've added a new suggested reading to our list "The Long War Journal". Unlike the other 3 posters here, I feel that the Long War is some what more important than who has power in Washington DC. I'm not saying that having a liberal Congress and President is a good thing, or that having a conservative Congress and President would be a bad thing, but I am saying that what Al Qaeda and other jihad groups are doing is somewhat more pressing than what the capital gains tax rate is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2012 and history.

What does it take to beat a sitting president running for reelection? If history is any guide, it takes a strong challenge from within the president's party. Since 1900, with one exception, every sitting president who failed to gain reelection faced a significant challenge from within his party. It works the other way as well. In the same time span, every sitting president, with one exception, that has faced significant opposition within his party failed to win the general election.

In 1912 William Taft faced a strong challenge for the nomination from Teddy Roosevelt. When Taft won the nomination, Teddy formed his Bull Moose party. Woodrow Wilson crushed Taft in the general election. In 1952 Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee defeated Harry Truman in the New Hampshire primary. Shortly thereafter Truman withdrew from the race. In 1968 Lyndon Johnson barely beat Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary. Four days later, Robert Kennedy entered the race and two weeks later Johnson withdrew. In 1976, Gerald Ford faced Ronald Reagan in the primaries and barely won, finally winning the nomination in a floor fight at the convention. Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the general election. In 1980 Carter faced a strong challenge from Ted Kennedy who won 40% of the delegates to the Democratic convention. Carter was crushed by Ronald Reagan in the general election. In 1992, George H. W. Bush faced a symbolic but significant challenge from Patrick Buchanan. Although Buchanan won no state primaries and only an handful of delegates, he did win a significant percentage of the primary vote. His run highlighted the dissatisfaction with Bush felt by the conservative wing of the Republican party. Bush also faced a third party challenger, Ross Perot, who may have acted as a spoiler for Bush.

The one example of a sitting president facing a significant intra-party challenge and prevailing in the general election was Harry Truman in 1948. Truman faced a serious Party leaders approached Dwight Eisenhower, but he refused. (The Republicans also approached him in '48 bas well, but he turned them down also. He didn't reveal his party until 1952.) Truman also had a three way split in the Democratic Party, with the new Progressive Party nominating FDR's second Vice President, Henry Wallace. The Democratic Party split again at the convention over civil rights, with southern Democrats walking out and forming the Dixiecrats behind Strom Thurmond. Despite this significant party disunity, Truman pulled off the greatest upset ever in presidential politics, and won the general election.

The one example of a sitting president being defeated in the general election without facing a strong challenge for the nomination was in 1932, when Herbert Hoover easily won the Republican nod, but was soundly defeated by Franklin Roosevelt in the general election. OF course, this was in the midst of the Great Depression, and Hoover's policies were widely blamed for exacerbating the country's economic woes.

Given that history, this could be very bad news for the president.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

High T.E.A.

Since Senator Reid dismisses our current taxation as 'voluntary'; how does one go about 'involuntarily' not paying taxes legally?

Second graders know when they have no pennies in the piggy bank they are told no.

Even drunker sailors know when to stop spending - when the funds run out.

Why is it that Congress continues to spend with no accountability? Not only are they spending, but also borrowoing at alarming rates with no end in sight. Now in order to get us out of debt they propose a 1% tax increase. Is this a joke? Why reward these Senators with more money that they are going to over spend and tax the American population again and again.

Memo to Congress - stop spending.

Enough is enough. It is time to vote these morons out of offfice come November.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On McChrystal Part II

OK, I can see why McChrystal was fired. He's lucky to not get Court Martialed (Article 88 of the UCMJ) But why the hell did President Obama demote GEN Petraeus as his replacement? Petraeus was Central Command's Commander, i.e. McChrystal's boss.

Which brings up the question of who is replacing Petraeus at Central Command? For a while Lt. General Allen (USMC) will take over, but he's a three star and that's a 4 star slot. This also puts the Central Command in the some what odd position of having a 4 star general under the operation command of a 3 star general. Obama needs to get a replacement in a Central Command ASAP. Either promote LTGEN Allen (which might be tricky given that the USMC has a very limited number of full (i.e 4 star) generals (like one I recall correctly, the commandant of the Marines )) or find some under-employed 4 star that is willing to take that job, and please not a squid or a zomer.

Of course, IMAO, the correct sequence would have been fire McChrystal, brevet Allen to 4 stars (and get him confirmed by the US Senate ASAP), and assign him to AfPac commander. Among other things things, the USMC seems to have their collective shit together more in Afghanistan than the non-special forces US Army does. The USMC does have a longer (and more successful) history of "Small Wars" than the US Army does. But what do I know, I was just a SP/5 in the Army. Wait, that's more experience than Obama has...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On McChrystal

One of the most significant events in American history was when Washington surrendered his sword to the Continental Congress, establishing the firm tradition that the military is under civilian control. This is a key ingredient of a successful free society. I haven't read the Rolling Stone article, but I suspect that I would agree with many of the opinions that General McChrystal expressed. That aside, his comments can not be defended. No man is indespensible, but even if the war effort in Afghanistan would be seriously damaged, that would be less of a threat to free society than weakening the principle of civilian control of the military. The President would be justified if he fired McChrystal and probably should.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Epic something

I don't know if this is an epic win or an epic fail. It's damn sure epic, however.

funny food photos - I Dont Drink, Do You Have a Glass of Sandwich?
see more

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Opps The first in the series was some where else.

Things that I sort of wish would happen to Top American Leaders

Couple of notes just as a point of comparison. Note that, even though it's raining he's not holding an umbrella and looking silly. For that matter he doesn't look silly after the wind hits the wreath.

Also note the serious Men in Suits standing around with brief cases. You know they have some serious firepower in those cases. I like the one staring into the hedge. What was he expecting? A raccoon or squirrel to jump out and attack?

I knew there was at least one other reason to like Sandra

Sandra Bullock accepted the "Troops Choice" Award for Entertainer of The Year, which was voted on by members of the military on Spike TV's Web site.

Ignore this unless you're a MilGeek

This is probably the best thing you can do with a M47A1 in a modern combat environment. It's armor isn't thick enough to stand up to modern anti-armor weapons while it's main gun is ineffective against any thing but the lightest armored fighting vehicles.

funny tank photos
see more

On the other hand, it makes a spiffy clothes line.

This is just silly.

So, where is Steve?

2nd in a series

Of things that I sort of wish would happen to Top American Leaders

This is the Prime Minister of Turkey, ridding a horse at some sort of cut the ribbon photo op.

Hat tip: IsraellyCool

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another person with way too much time on his hands.

If you upload a video to YouTube, then download it, then re-upload it, some changes in both the video and audio happens. This is a fact of life given that the MPEG encoding system is normally "lossey".

This is version 1

This is version 1000

Side note, only for web design people. Check the for the closing tag of the embed tags that YouTube give you when you do the "copy embed code" thing directly off of YouTube. It seems that the close embed tag is missing most of the time. If you get it off some one that has embedded it them self it seems to close. Odd, and a real pain on Blogger where it bitches at you if your tags aren't closed.

Flash on Linux

I'm starting to hate it. It crash and burns way to much, taking Firefox with it. It's gotten to the point that every time I open a terminal window I type `ps aux | grep fox` so I can see the dead process to `kill -9` with out thinking about it. Grunt. This is the first non-beta|alpha piece of software for Linux that I've had major problems with. At first I though I had a memory chip going bad or the version of Firefox I was using had a major bug. No, it's flash. It kills the Gnome web browser "Web Browser 2.22.2" and Chrome for Linux just as badly. Yeah, I know it's been out for a while, but the latest release for Ubuntu blows goats, and not the way that at least makes goats happy.

How do you get a drummer off your porch?

Pay for the pizza.

Until then check this guy out. Pay attention to the drummer starting about a minute in.

An Engishman speaking about America

Can we elect this guy to something?

See if you can spot the "snipers" before they stand up.

See if you can spot the "snipers" before they stand up. The first set are fairly easy. The second, not so much. Even when they lay back down they are hard to spot. Other than the saxophone player, who can't seem to hide his saxophone. As to the music, as neo-pop songs go it's fairly good

If you play table top RPG

This is worth your while to have a look at. If, on the other hand you just want to see pictures of Willow and Tara in their underwear, it's also worth looking at.

If you don't play RPG or want to see hot witches in their underwear, don't click on the link.

OK, I'll take your word on it.

Can I get a Spanish speaker to verify that this is in fact a pro-Israel video?

And yeah, get the brain bleach out after you watch it. It's a bit strange. Probably more so if you don't speak Spanish

Some thing to watch on Sunday nights.

Top Shot.
History channel, Sunday 10/9c.

From what I've seen on the web, it seems to be "Top Chief" with guns, knives, throwing axes, long bows and more guns. Right down to the prize money and the line "And the title of Top Chief|Shot.

Plus targets that explode. Splody is good.

First show Sunday, June 6 2010

Here is an 11 minute long preview of the show.

A totally non political post

This man has way too much time on his hands Way too much time.
These are not a photos. They are drawings made with a .5 mm pencil, and not using an eraser. I stand, or rather sit, in awe.

Changed the layout.

I really hate layouts that have a fixed width of the content. Particularly ones that are too damn small. This one works at 1024x768, it has issues at 800x600, in that some YouTube video's are just a hair too wide. Oh freaking well.

Here begins a rant: We (blogger (and web designers in general)) really shouldn't have to worry about 800x600 pixel "Super" VGA cards/monitors in 2010. If you're still using a card/monitor that limits you to 800x600 resolution use the horizontal scroll bars at the bottom of your browser and/or watch the videos on YouTube. Then get a new video card and/or monitor. Say one made this century. And while I'm at it, I really don't care if my web pages display right in Internet Explorer version 5. I'm not too worried about them displaying right in IE 6, when it gets right down to it. At work, where I do web design for a living, I have an excuse, we are a Mac shop selling to Mac people in the main. If it display right in Internet Safari or Firefox, we are good to go. Among other things the boss is never going to see it in anything but those. I do check it against all the OS X browsers once a month or so, and my minion checks it against IE 7 so if it looks good with those, that's all we care about.

Just in case any one noticed an increase in posting here, my primary blog "Why My Life Sucks" is currently off the air due to me letting my domain name expire, due to a lack of funds over the last couple of months, so I am using this one for a while.

More to come, to include more rants and raves.

They are cheating

While funny and some what absurd, they are cheating here. Those tones aren't DTMF. (Dual Tone Multi Freqency) aka TouchTones. The fact that I can tell this sort of bothers me, but I'll chalk it up to to damn many years working telcom.


On the Video's below do the "watch on YouTube" thing, because our freaking layout is too damn narrow to show them right. Going to fix that in my copious free time.

Update: Width issues fixed. You can watch them here.

On a semi non political note

This guy is funny. And speaks truth to power, or something like that.

Too bad I don't like either company's dounuts

Or I would have totally done this.

Israeli Tea party?

Seems like Israel should take something from the Tea Party movement. This seems like a winner to me. If and when there is a Tea Party in "medium sized city", this would be the flag I would carry.

Big Brass Ones.

As the LawDog says "That right there is a young man with a set of big brass ones." I say he's pretty brave waving an Israeli flag in LA, never mind at a Hamas demonstration. The LAPD did look like they were ready and willing to knock the crap out of any of the Hamas sympathizers that did any thing but yell at the guy. Allah Akbar my ass.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rock on French Lawyer Lady.

It's not often I like a French person or a lawyer, much less a French Lawyer, but in this case I'll make an exception Rock on French Lawyer Lady.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drunken Sailors

The Government is not spending money like a drunken sailor.

Drunken sailors quit spending when they run out of money.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


From Howie Carr.

"Which of the following two groups contains the most former grand dragons of the Ku Klux Klan - the first 59 Tea Party people you run into this morning, or the U.S. Senate Democratic caucus?"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The morality of the state.

In Junior High, I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. In it Heinlein asks, through the character of Prof, "when is it morally permissible for the state to commit an act that would be immoral for an individual?" (I paraphrase.) Over the years, I have tried to draw that line in my mind, but so far have failed to do so to my own satisfaction. Sometimes I feel the answer should be "never", but that doesn't really work in the real world. So where is the line?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a Deal

My understanding of current law: If you think you are healthy and want to take a risk, you can avoid several thousand dollars in insurance premiums and pay a yearly fine of $750. If you are wrong and contract some dreadful disease, you can then sign up for "insurance" and the "pre-existing condition" will be covered. Add a medical rider to your car insurance to cover the initial medical expenses of a car wreck and you are good.

I'm sure no one will do that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010