Quondam Dreams

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Oh, Ben.

Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck. The one thing you could have done to endear yourself to me, and you passed it up.

You could have done a spot on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Kevin Smith is taking Jay and Silent Bob to T.O. for a three-episode arc, and he invited his pal Ben Affleck along. Affleck turned him down. I'm sure he had his reasons, but I don't care. This is Degrassi we're talking about! DEGRASSI! A chance to make it all up to two generations of entertainment consumers by doing a cameo on the coolest show on digital cable! And, I mean, if he had turned out to be related to Spinner? That would have explained a whole lot about both of them. Seeing little Angela's thwarting him from getting between Joey and
Caitlin by explaining the Canadian parliamentary system to him would have been priceless.

Ahem. Not that I'm obsessed or anything. (What? I had a lot of time on my hands while I was unemployed. And Joey's still kinda cute.)

Silly, silly Ben Affleck. I'd started to feel a little tiny bit sorry for him, what with being the whipping boy du mois, but this is not the time for him to start getting selective about his roles. My one-sided (non-stalker-ish, all in good fun, just a way to amuse myself based on residual bitterness about something to which he's connected, no need to take legal action against me) vendetta is still on.

Affleck, you've been warned. Someday, somehow, you will feel my wrath. It will be very small and you probably won't notice it, but if you ever feel an unexpected tiny prickle, that's probably it. 'Cause, I'm, like, fierce 'n' stuff.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sounds: Good

I can hear again. It was an interesting thing, having diminshed hearing for so long - very educational, encouraged empathy for the hearing-impaired, inspired me to brush up on my ASL, etc. - but I'm glad it's over. Yay, antibiotics. Yay, my doctor, who saw fit to prescribe them. I'm as worried about the overprescription of antibiotics as the next over-anxious person, but if there were ever a reason to prescribe them, it was this. Plus, my sore throat is gone and my hair looks great. (I don't know that that can be contributed to antibiotics, but, hey. Know your assets.)

So! What have I been doing with my restored hearing? This, that, the other. Nothing terribly monumental, but generally keeping busy enough to ignore the encroaching darkness. (People tell me that I always seem happy, upbeat, friendly, energetic, all that good stuff. I try to tell them that it hides a core of depression and malaise, but I don't think they quite believe me.) Working, getting a couple of shows together, spending time with my friends, generally trying not to sit around my room. The usual strategy.

Scenes from my exciting Hollywood life:

Last Wednesday, I went to the Cat & Fiddle for a meetup that never quite happened. (Which was fine. I had a notebook and got some writing done.) I thought I saw Shane MacGowan, but it could have been just some random Irish guy with bad teeth and an air of drunken indestructibility.

This past Saturday, I saw my friends the Tiny Bandeleros at Acme, which was followed by an excursion to The Abbey. Ah, the Abbey. What can one say about the Abbey? The male clientele are interested in each other, the female clientele are mostly interested in the guys who don't usually go there (and sometimes in each other - some out of genuine interest, some out of a "When in Rome" thing), and the bartenders are pretty much the only straight guys in the place. Jenny P., who seems to know someone everywhere we go, has a hot bartender friend who brought us free drinks. Now, was drinking while taking antibiotics the smartest thing I've ever done? Probably not. Is it fun to get free chocolately drinks from a hot bartender? Yes. Said H.B. is expected at the Bandeleros show next week. As luck would have it, I was kind of looking for an excuse to not go to another show that night, so there you go. Not that I'm obligated to give a reason for skipping a show I've seen before which features someone with whom I'm completely fed up, but I do get kind of neurotic about that sort of thing. It's part of my, um, charm.

I've been making a lot of cat-ear hats. If any of those people who say they'd pay for them actually buy them, great. If not, I'm covered for presents.

The only not-fringe journalists who seem to be keeping an eye on the recount issues are Keith Olbermann at MSNBC and Kim Zetter at Wired News. The current crop of studies seems to indicate that there were problems in Florida, but it might have just been electronic issues with the touch-screen systems -- probably not enough of a problem to switch the state results, but worth investigating nonetheless. Ohio... is just a mess. The chances that Kerry might actually end up winning it are still small, but they've become large enough that Constitutional scholars are hot gets for the news shows. Every discipline does, eventually, have its day. And it looks like that day will be coming around every four years for a good long while.

Give me a vov! Give me a yud! What does that spell? OY!

Friday, November 12, 2004


Yeah, I know I've been lagging on the blogging. This is mostly due to a good week or so of my head feeling like it's trying to explode and implode at the same time. The forces seem to be working in more or less equal opposition, so that's something, I think. This morning, I was prescribed some very pretty antibiotics, which should clear up the ear infection. Maybe then the rest of my head will take the hint and stop making like it's full of cotton batting.

Ouch ouch ouch.

Anyway. Election stuff... the rest of the analysts are starting to figure out that the big divide is between people who live in the big cities and people who don't live there and wish those city folk would stop telling them how to run their lives, which they've been running just fine for generations, thank you very much. (Yes, I'm extrapolating. I think I'm qualified. And take that how you will.) Gathering whispers of possible recounts in Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina and maybe even Florida. What does it say when the only journalist with a national audience who's really following the whole vote-counting mishegas is Keith Olbermann? Any recounts won't take into account the people who were turned away at the polls, couldn't wait four hours in the rain or got bad information on provisional ballots. (Yes, that last sentence is a mess. Brain trying to escape through my temples here.)

For those of you considering a move to Canada, here's your new culture in a nutshell: The owner of the CFL's Hamilton TiCats is looking for new chant to supplant "Argos Suck". I can't adequately explain how perfect it is. Just click on that first link and you'll see.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Occam's Razor

Either those swing-state exit polls were coincidentally wrong in exactly the same way, or there's something to reports of "irregularities" in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. (And other places as well - but those seem to be the big ones.)

I'm sure someone could make a case for uniformly flawed methodology, but there is a simpler explanation involving known software flaws and not-exactly-secure tabulation machines.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Purple nation

By now you've probably seen the map in which states are shaded purple according to their proportion of red and blue votes. The county-by-county map is even more telling. But the one that really fascinates me is a little lower on the latter page. Take a look at the county-by-county map that indicates both vote totals and population concentrations. Go ahead, I'll wait. If it's not large enough, here's the big version.

It's almost uncanny how those seemingly anomalous spots of purple in a given patch of red match up with population centers. Is it just that we progressive types like to live near other people, or is it that if a given person meets someone who's not like them their views are likely to be somewhat altered? Sorry, I'm not asking the question very well. If anyone needs an interesting sociology or cultural anthropology paper, have at it.

I was thinking it might also be interesting to see the county-by-county map overlaid with a graphical indication of internet connectivity proportions, but since those are probably still concentrated in the cities I'm not sure how useful it would be. Maybe it would be more telling to try it with the 1996 or 2000 maps. So many times, I've seen people from politically or culturally homogenous areas get online and suddenly find themselves really chewing over their views for the first time. I don't know that it causes any big political conversions, but I do think it's harder to, say, vote for that no-gay-marriage-or-civil-unions proposition your pastor keeps pushing on you when you've interacted with people in same-sex partnerships -- or with people of any orientation who challenge you to explain why you think that official recognition of same-sex partnerships will contribute to our country's downfall more than, say, Cialis commercials.

In other news, I have an ear infection. Of all the ways to revisit my youth, I had to go with this. It doesn't hurt, but my hearing is all off. It's almost like an audio farsightedness: I can hear things that are happening well away from me, but if someone's talking right to me I might have trouble, and I can hardly hear myself when I talk. I mean, I can tell I'm talking, but I can't really tell what my volume is. Weird. At least it only seems to be my right ear that's affected; my left ear feels and sounds a little off, but it could just be perceptual. Anyway, I'm dutifully putting drops in my ear, so hopefully this will all get cleared up soon. It has ceased to be novel.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes
Never mind the 150,000 as-yet-to-be-counted provisional ballots. Seems that in a precinct in suburban Columbus, the votes went 4258 Bush/260 Kerry. Which is rather... interesting, given that only 638 voters cast ballots. Why, yes, they did have a new electronic system. Why do you ask? Meanwhile, in the precincts where they punch it old-school, over 92,000 ballots have been discounted, likely because of - wait for it - hanging chads.

Congratulations, Ohio! You are officially the new Florida! You can pick up your sash and tiara at the courthouse.

I'd love to see some principle-of-the-thing challenges. Hey, what happens if, after a President has been sworn in, a recount is authorized and it turns out he didn't win a key state after all? Can the electoral college meet for a do-over? Oddly enough, we didn't cover this back at the university.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Next Campaign

I have ideas. Most of them involve showing voters in certain states that the Republican party does not have the monopoly on morality. Some of them are also about respecing the views of the other half of the country. (That one's especially directed at Dick Cheney. Yo, Dick: 51% doesn't qualify as a "mandate". It's barely "tepid approval".)

Once I'm feeling a bit better -- physically, not psychologically; this cold (or flu or whatever it is) is sucking the energy out of me -- I'll write things out a bit more coherently and try to figure out with whom in the Democratic party I need to have a chat. I've got a couple of connections who might humor me.

Looks like John Ashcroft may be on his way out. His potential replacement will be a major factor when I decide whether to stay here and fight the good fight or do it from Canada. (They have kindly reminded us that potential U.S. emigrants will have to wait in the visa line like everyone else. For the really determined, claiming refugee status looks like the way to go.)

Colin Powell looks ready to wash his hands of the Bush Administration. I admire him for sticking it out this long.

Defamer.com sees it my way: It's all Affleck's fault. Doesn't even really matter what the pronoun represents. Affleck's to blame. I'm on to him. Oh, yes. I'm on to him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

All over but the lawsuits

Kerry's conceding.

While I certainly understand, I have this urge to yell, "Wimp!"

Living in a blue state, it's hard to wrap my mind around what Karl Rove knows about the red states: That there, the GOP has cornered the market on the "morality" vote. That's got to be the Democratic angle in 2008, and if the party can't figure it out, I may have to do something.

Yes, kiddies, it looks like I may have to run in 2008 after all. Who's with me?

Day 2

Ohio says they won't have final results for at least 10 days. Iowa and New Mexico have gone to bed with promises of finishing the counting in the morning. John Kerry doesn't have much of a chance, but he does have a chance. He's certainly not ready to concede defeat. At 4:30am EST, Bush is considering declaring victory anyway. Way to be a uniter, George.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Who the hell knows?

Been watching returns all evening, and that's my official assessment.

I don't think the networks should've called Florida.

Ohio and New Mexico will take ages.

And my throat hurts.

In other news, the sky is blue

It seems that despite projections of a huge voter turnout this election, few places actually planned for it.


I'm off to make some phone calls to left coasters and watch the returns roll in. More later, probably...

Zogby exit polls

Zogby seems to be the most accurate of the pollsters, probably because their polls tend to go beyond the "likely voter".

Current call: 311 electoral votes for Kerry, 213 for Bush, 14 (Nevada and Colorado) too close to call.

No guarantee it'll stay that way, but with polls closing in the east in a couple of hours, things are getting mighty interesting.

As the day goes on, the pool entrants have been picking earlier and earlier times. This kind of reminds me of the recall election last year: Lots of us figured that with forty gazillion candidates it would take weeks before the final numbers were in. By that night, the results were pretty clear. Could it happen today? Depends where the lawsuits are filed - but I don't think they're going to matter quite as much this time around.

Election Results Pool

Here are the current predictions of when we'll actually know who won. If you'd like to add your best guest, post a comment or email me. Prize to be determined. Yes, you can pick a date someone else has picked. No, there's no fee. It's all about the bragging rights at this point.

Nov. 2 (Doug E.)
Nov. 2, 10pm PST (Mike W.)
Nov. 3 (KGB)
Nov. 3 (Alissa K.)
Nov. 3 (Ric R.)
Nov. 6 (Kevin B.)
Nov. 7 (Anthony F.)
Nov. 10, 11:10am EST (Jason S.)
Nov. 23 (Danny B.)
--- Dec. 2 - over/under ---
Dec. 11 (Tom H.)
Dec. 17 (Steve O.)
Dec. 20 (Rych W.)
Jan. 5 (Deb S.)

Nov. 2, 2008 (Dennis B.)

Early Exits

I should know better than to trust exit polls. That said, it looks like Kerry's leading quite handily in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Maine; he's also ahead (again, according to early exit polls) in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin. It's too close to say anything about New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, though I expect them to go GOP. The only swing state that's firmly in Bush's camp (again, according to early exit polls) is Arizona.

I haven't spent this much time scrutinizing exit poll numbers since I wrote about the election of 1992. And this time I don't even have to turn in a paper!

As the day progresses, it's getting harder and harder to reach sites with constantly-updated political contact. This may go down as the Election that Broke the Internet.

And we're off

The first votes, they have been cast. The first long lines, they have been reported. The first problems, they have been reported. The spinning, it has begun.

And since I seem to be coming down with a cold, the odds of my skipping any election-night shindigs in favor of sitting in front of the TV with my laptop have gone way up. Lucky you!

So turnout is way up. Amazing what happens when people feel like they have a personal stake in the outcome of an election. Okay, so we know that unless a voter lives in a swing state their vote doesn't really count, but it's the principle of things. Conventional wisdom is that huge turnout favors the challenger, and I think that's going to hold. The first-time voters are leaning Kerry as a whole. I'm trying to find state-by-state breakdowns.

Top requests for explanations: The mechanics of voting at a polling place, and the whole electoral college deal. (Explanation of the requests for explanation: People ask me stuff all the time. Why me? Heck if I know. Anyway, it's a great informal buzz-meter.)

I'm predicting that Florida goes to Kerry, and spawns the most lawsuits. Ohio will probably go Republican, and be a close second in the legal count. International observers will look at our electoral process and wonder how the hell we got to be the top dog on the pile. Jimmy Carter will snap and pummel Jeb Bush. No, I haven't started with the cold medicine. Why do you ask?

Monday, November 01, 2004

E-Day Minus 1

There's a time to vote your conscience, and a time to vote because you're scared.

The interesting thing is, everyone seems to be voting the latter. Many Bush supporters are voting for him because they believe he's a good, moral, religious guy who gives it to 'em straight and they're scared of life under someone who they view as fitting none of the above descriptions. Others are scared of their taxes going up. Meanwhile, almost every Kerry supporter I've spoken with is just plain scared by the prospect of four more years under the Bush administration's policies. There's not much by way of common language.

Here's some of what I'm wondering this time around:

  • How long will it be before we have an official outcome? I'm putting the over-under at one month.
  • Which state will be this year's Florida? Right now, Ohio seems to be neck-and-neck with the incumbent.
  • How off were the polls? Most of them have showed a pretty even split since well before the final push. Then you take a look at the fine print and see that they're asking "likely voters". What's a likely voter, anyway? Someone who voted in the last election? In that case, it's no surprise that the results are pretty evenly split. (Think about it.) Both campaigns sponsored major registration drives in the swing states, and hardly anyone's asking the first-timers.
  • How did my car key fall off my keychain on Saturday night? This has nothing to do with the elections; I'm just wondering. (I eventually found it on the sidewalk, saving me the hassle of calling AAA at 3 in the morning. Still. Weird.)

So buckle up, kids; we're almost ready to go. This oughta be interesting.