Living on the fringe?


Why was I thinking that the top two states in population were California and New York?  Must have been an old thought because Texas is second.

A bit more wikipediaIzing and I learn that fully half of all Americans live in the top 9 states, about one of 3 of us in the top 4 states of California 36MM, Texas 23MM, New York19MM, and Florida18MM.

This is not just statistically interesting, it’s critically important to many things like economics and elections as we saw in the bizarre 2000 election where silly butterfly ballots *in a single region* in Florida very significantly shifted the balance of power in the country and changed history forever given the dramatic difference between a Gore and a Bush administration.

Contrary to what many argue about the 2000 Florida election it’s now pretty clear, based on a study by the Miami Herald that examined virtually *every single Florida ballot*, that Bush would have won Florida even with a recount of all the ballots using the most commonly accepted historical standard of “2+ chads detached is a vote, 1 chad is not”. HOWEVER and more importantly, Gore would have won the election if the confusing Butterfly Ballots of Palm Beach county had not been thrown out. It was logically and statistically obvious that Palm Beach voters intended to vote for Gore rather than Bush (disputing this is absurdly irrational given the vote tallies and ballot examination). The Palm Beach ballot design left many confused voters voting a second time for Buchanon. These ballots were not counted. I think this explains why exit polling was predicting a Gore victory – people in Palm Beach County had thought they’d voted for Gore when in fact their vote was not counted. The ballot design was from incompetence rather than a Rebublican hit job – the elections person was a democrat.

Also contary to much commentary the courts could have used some historical precedent to allocate those Palm Beach discarded votes mathematically rather than discarding them, though I think it is unlikely the Supreme Court would have allowed that to stand and would have thrown the election to the Florida legislature (which would have given Florida’s electoral votes to Bush).

So, Florida’s population prominence gave them the say in the election, and quirky circumstances took the vote out of the control of voters. Contrary to what many seem to think it’s not really reasonable to say the election was stolen – it was won and lost “unfair and square” on technicalities from our obscenely outmoded electoral vote system combined with bureaucratic and court incompetence.

Here’s a nice CNN summary of the real story.   Note the irony in that most Republicans still seem to think it was a “fair” outcome (WRONG since voter intention was clearly not the result) where most Dems think it was the chads (WRONG – Gore’s Tally was not affected enough by chad decisions to matter) or the Supreme Court Decision to bar a recount (WRONG – Gore would have lost the recount) or some form of vote tally conspiracy (WRONG – little evidence of this).

It was just good old bureaucratic incompetence and some voter ignorance that distorted the 2000 tally with one VERY IMPORTANT caveat – the Republicans have been very aggressive with methods to bar certain people from voting.   I’m unmoved so far by muckraker Greg Palast‘s claims about this type of manipulation in 2000 and 2004 Bush victories, but I just now found this Robert Kennedy piece that is far more thoughtful about the possibility that the Ohio vote in 2004 was not properly tallied.  It is critical to keep open minded since the stakes in US presidential elections are so very, very high.    We should all be ashamed of how casually we view our responsibility to have fair and impartial elections.
Wow, that sure diverged from my intended post!? I really need to get a regular job.

A/C does not reduce gas mileage? Cool!


Don’t know how I missed this before but I’ve been assuming that having my A/C on was reducing my gas mileage.    Edmonds tested this  in Dec 2005 and Consumer Reports recently and both concluded that the A/C does not appreciably affect mileage.

Here are some other items from the Edmonds study about fuel economy.