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Christmas Gift Guide I: Best of ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek has been the best source for “Impact Gifts” for many years. (Those interested in reading about my theories about “Impact Gifts” should read through the Christmas Gift Guide archives) This year might be the first year where they weren’t my #1 source. The reasons are many but the economy is the top reason, caffeine soap is a luxury for dotcom bubbles. Also, another company has stolen a lot of ThinkGeek’s thunder. But, in honor of ThinkGeek the first volume of this year’s guide is dedicated to the most consistent source of Impact Gifts over the years.

My favorite character archetype is the Mad Scientist (or Evil Genius) as I believe everyone should develop a little madness in themselves. Thus gifts which either help someone become a Mad Scientist or adds to someone’s evilgeniusness makes a great Impact Gift.

One skill every Mad Scientist needs is the ability to train animals to do their biddings. Thanks to the “R2 Fish Training School” your goldfish could become a soccer playing international phenom:
acda_r2_fish_training_school

The R2 Fish Training School Kit is a complete training system that includes everything you need to teach your fish over 10 amazing tricks (including soccer, football, basketball, limbo, fetch, tunnels, and more!)

Includes:

Instructional DVD
R2 Fish School training platform
Over 20 compatible training accessories
Feeding wand
Instruction manual with over 100 photos
Compact, weighted base for bowls or small tanks – measures 10.25″ x 6.25″
Simple, fast, and easy to understand
For almost all fish 1″ to 6″ in length

Used to train the fish trick world record holder – developed by a real Ph.D!

Made by a Ph.D so you know it’s good.

Another important skill all men (er….persons?) should have is to be able to conjure fire in any situation:
light_my_fire

Originally developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, Swedish FireSteel is a flash of genius. Its nearly 3,000°C spark makes fire building easy in any weather, at any altitude. Used by a number of armies around the world, Swedish FireSteel’s dependability has already made it a favorite of survival experts, hunters, fishermen and campers. It has also found its way into cabins and backyards as a fool-proof way to light stoves and gas-barbecues. Amazingly enough it also works equally well when wet. We think geeks will appreciate the power of being able to start a fire with such a simple tool.

Don’t rely on anthropogenic global warming to keep you warm in winter. Burn stuff.

And eat stuff:
astronaut_icecream

Science museums are really cool places with tons of wonderful learning experiences available to the public. You can walk through giant heart models, see dazzling laser displays, even gawp at actual moon landers. But let’s face it, the best part of every science museum is normally in a bin near the cash register: freeze dried ice cream. Four of the tastiest words in the English language. But thanks to us, you can now get the ice cream astronauts eat without the risk of accidentally learning anything. Yay!

Each package of Astronaut Ice Cream is made with state-of-the-art yummy food technology. First made by the Whirlpool Corporation (yup, the washer/dryer people) for the Apollo missions, freeze dried ice cream has been a favorite of geeks ever since. We have three flavors to offer you. The “original” flavor most often found in museums is neapolitan (chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla) – and we also have mint chocolate chip (cool and delicious) and chocolate chocolate chip (very, very chocolaty) to tease your taste buds. Try one or try them all, we know you’ll love ‘em. And if you really want the full astronaut experience, just get some tall strong folks at your office to hold you upside down when you eat. Peristalsis is amazing, and so is Astronaut Ice Cream.

Each package is 0.7 oz of joy and can be stored (unopened) for up to 3 years.

The best part is the fact you might get your astronaut ice cream re-gifted to you in a few years.

Engines run the world and there’s been a lot of new interest in old engine designs which were deemed “inefficient” in comparison to cheap gasoline powered internal combustion engines. Now that terrorists and corporations are in charge of gasoline, it has suddenly created enough cognitive dissonance in liberal do-gooders everywhere to waste money on cool looking paleo-neo-engines:
stirling_engine_kit

The intriguing design of this engine, invented and patented in 1816 by Dr. Robert Stirling, is still relevant today. Initially sought as a safer alternative to steam engines (whose boilers could explode), this engine never saw wide spread use because it was generally very heavy and required high temperatures. The principle of the engine is simple: an external heat source and heat sink create a temperature difference in a cylinder and the air inside expands and contracts, moving a piston and a crank shaft in a rotary motion. The energy source can be any source of heat or cold, including solar or even an open flame. The Stirling engine can be more efficient and quieter in comparison to the more familiar internal combustion engine.
This Stirling Engine Kit is a truly unique gift for the person who thought they had everything – an engine that seemingly runs on air! But this engine can run on the heat coming from your hand. Please note that it is a kit and some assembly is required. Not suitable for children under 3 due to small parts.

Finally, and this is something all of could use, a staple-free stapler:
staple_free_stapler

Staples have become a scourge to the office environment. Those shiny metal wires have jammed in thumbs, caught on sweaters, and torn papers. The horrors are just too numerous to mention. Recently, at ThinkGeek World Domination Headquarters, an entire afternoon was spent watching a government mandated corporate safety video that showed, in excruciating slo-motion Tarantinoesque detail, just how terrible accidents with staples can be.

ThinkGeek employees, however, rolled their eyes… for they had converted to an entirely staple free environment. We found in our travels a device that staples papers together – without staples! Oh, we’re not crazy, this thing is real. This handy (and might we add – environmentally friendly) device cuts a tiny flap in the corner of your paper, and folds it in on itself, tucked in a tiny paper pocket.

Sleek, small, and coming in chaotic-evil black, deep blue, and smokey “clear”, the Staple Free Stapler can clip together up to five sheets with ease.

Thanks ThinkGeek for making it possible to buy for other people the things I actually want.

The Evil Genius’ 40-Man Roster


Sumo Wrestler

Nothing says “get out of basepaths please Mr. Catcher” more than a 400 pound Sumo Wrestler pinch running on third base. Just imagine a guy that big stealing home. He could walk to home plate, “sumo” the catcher and steal a base. Any Evil Genuis would want the pure power a Sumo Wrestler brings to his baseball team. The best part about getting a Sumo Wrestler on your 40-man roster is it isn’t much of a stretch. Walter Young, Babe Ruth, Cecil Fielder, Jumbo Brown, all were giants among fleas. You wouldn’t need to find a Sumo Wrestler and teach him to hit, you just need to find yourself a big fella who can hit and teach him to Sumo (and have him put on a bunch of weight).

Christmas Gift Guide 2008: Introduction

I’ve explained the reasons behind my annual Gift Guide series in previous posts and I’m not too interested in repeating myself here. However, there are some important contemporary issues essential to understanding this year’s gift guide that I do want to mention.

This is perhaps the worst year in my lifetime for the Holiday gift giving season (PC enough?). The reason is very simple, we all enjoyed for too long buying ourselves all the gifts we wanted through acquiring debt. Gas prices went up, the housing market collapsed, the credit market is falling apart and people are shocked the stock market is going down because many companies are lacking something called “profit.”

It is a disaster of our own creation.

Doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time giving gifts this year anyway. Unfortunately, I think too many people are going to scale back on the expensive toys and overcompensate and give some old standards which should never be given as Christmas Gifts. So, as we all deal with the difficulty of knowing the economy of the world is on the verge of collapse (not really an issue for those of us heavily invested in Gold and Ammo) we should remember those things which should never be given as Christmas Gifts:

-Socks Yeah, that’s right, never give someone socks. It’s the sort of gift that says “I don’t think you know how to manage your own life.” Socks are something POWs in Stalag Luft 3 need as air filters for their tunnel’s ventilation system. It’s not something you should even be considering buying as a Christmas gift. One exception: Me. My unusual bulk requires I pay careful attention to my feet. The socks I like are expensive (nearly 20 bucks a pair) and it’s taken me a long time to build up enough socks where I don’t have to wear any pairs of the low quality crap you get an Wal Mart. So, for me, socks. But under no circumstances do you buy socks as Christmas gifts for other people.

-Sweaters Once again, pay attention to the message you’re sending. In this case, the message you’re sending is “I hate you.” A sweater is something you buy at the last minute, in a size that looks “about right” (because you don’t actually know) and for “75% off the retail price.” Do humanity a favor, take all the money you’re thinking about spending on sweaters and just pay your credit card bill, okay?

-An Alarm Clock Yeah, you buy someone an alarm clock and you’re basically buying them a torture device. Sleep is the only state in which most of mankind finds any peace whatsoever. An alarm clock is takes people away from our natural state and plugs us back into the matrix. Instead of buying an alarm clock, why don’t you just trick your mark into handcuffing themselves to a radiator for a weekend?

-Gift Certificates It’s like money, only a lot less useful. Good call. I know what you’re really trying to do, change my behavior. You want me to go to some store you seem to like in order to convince me to like that store. Not going to happen. Gift certificates are no better than political ads (except in politics, bribes are illegal). Guess what, when someone gives me a gift certificate to some store I have never gone too, I either toss it or re-gift the thing. Sometimes I’ll even give it to some homeless person. No gift certificates, give a wad of cash instead.

-Stocks Sure, it looks like a good time to buy stocks. Guess what? I don’t care. It’s a dumb gift which will immediately go into a desk drawer somewhere, along with any good will the gift receiver had for the gift giver. Giving stocks is giving someone a piece of the future. Fine, I’ll thank you for the voting share of some company (plus a regular dividend, maybe) in the future. Presently, I’ll be buying you an alarm clock.

-Underwear Yes, this gift can go right for couples in the middle of an intimate courtship. But for 90% of the public who are either bachelors and bachelorettes, cynical long time married couples (don’t know many long time married couples who weren’t total cynics), children, divorcees or superfluous men, this gift sucks. You might as well give them a sandwich and busfare. If I’m in a situation where I can’t afford underwear, I’ve got bigger problems than underwear.

-Neckties  Men don’t need neckties. The first time a man needs a necktie, he buys one. For most men, that one necktie is enough for their entire lifetime. Others who need multiple neckties, they have a job where they can buy their own damn neckties. And they’ll buy neckties they want. The brown-stripey-polyester piece of garbage you bought me is going to be given to the neighbor’s dog as a chew toy, just FYI.

So there you have it, gifts to avoid in these difficult times.

Wednesday Hero

L/Cpl. Samuel Joyce
U.S. Marine Corps.

Lance Cpl. Samuel Joyce, from Boston, accepts a bagfull of toys during the Toys For Tots 5k Run at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Runners donated new toys to the local Marine’s Toys for Tots program.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams. Those Who Say That We’re In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don’t Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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From the Notebook

-I’ll be interviewing Steve Mayfield, Update: I’ll be talking to Steve next Tuesday. author of the inspirational novel “Afterlife Crisis“, tonight at 10pm CT. We’ll be discussing layoffs, the economy and handling your tenuous grip on employment in difficult times. Click hereto listen to the live podcast or in the same spot to listen to the interview later.

-Finished the first 9 chapters of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations as part of the 10 year Great Books of the Western World reading program. I found it to be great reading, if a little dull at times. Smith’s book is still a great defense of classical liberalism and I think conservatives should attempt reading the raw text, if only in manageable chunks.

-Also finished reading “Great Conversations” which is the introductory essay to the Great Books series(it was volume 1 of the first edition of the books from 1952). Two of the chapters dealing with nuclear annihilation and “East meets West” were very dated material. Otherwise, it was a good defense of liberal education and of reading the great books. I haven’t seen what the introductory volume is like in the 2nd edition of the GBWW but I am curious.

-I have a few more weeks left in my first quarter for the MBA program. A more manageable 6 page paper is due at the end of the term. I start my second quarter in January. I’ll update everyone as I progress.

In the Trenches: Notes from the Recount II

-I saw about 40% of the ballots in my county get looked at, and of those (about 10,000 ballots) there were about 10 ballots challenged. Only four or five of those were “legitimate” challenges which the State Canvassing Board really needed to bother with. I think “voter intent” can be accurately discerned in about half those non-frivolous ballot challenges. Also, there was one vote found which wasn’t counted by the machine, which wasn’t challenged and will thus be added to the vote totals. A single ballot out of ten thousand (in this instance, it was for Coleman).

-Extrapolating my experiences in Douglas County to the state counting process (which hasn’t been inaccurate thus far), 45% of the challenged ballots are legitimate question marks. One in 10,000 ballots will find a “new vote” not counted by the optical scanners (making for about 290 new votes) and those “New Votes” should favor Franken 2:1 which should net Franken about 100 votes. Coleman still wins. The challenged ballots might add 40-50 votes to either campaign depending on what standards are used (and if those standards are uniform, which I’m certain they will be). Coleman still wins again.

-My confidence in how Minnesota conducts its elections has been increased tremendously. One precinct which I was involved in had over 1500 ballots, not one was challenged, and the recount matched the machine count perfectly.

-About the challenged ballots…well, we were instructed by the “professional volunteers” who were shipped in by the Coleman campaign from out-of-state to challenge anything, even if it seemed frivolous. There’s a media battle between the two camps as to which campaign was being the most ridiculous in its challenges and based on this graph from TC Daily Liberal, both camps are equally at fault:

colemanlead_challenges_day2

Both campaigns should be embarrassed for using their power to challenge ballots so frivolously.

-If something really weird happens, and there ends up being a tie in the election, something cool happens:

204C.34 TIE VOTES.
In case of a tie vote for nomination or election to an office, the canvassing board with the responsibility for declaring the results for that office shall determine the tie by lot.

-The Senate also maintains control over the seating of its members:

If the contested elections of the Minnesota, Alaska, and Georgia Senate races aren’t resolved before the new Congress convenes in January, the Senate has the power to seat someone to the position until the matter is resolved. It’s been done several times in Senate history, most recently as 1997 with Senator Mary Landrieu.

Article 1, Section 5 of the US Constitution states, “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of it’s own Members…”

How does it actually happen? The Senate Historian’s Office explains it this way:

“…a petition has been presented to the Senate or a resolution offered by a senator contesting the election of a candidate (in some cases a year or more after the election in question). The contest may relate to the actual conduct of the election (vote count, electoral irregularities, etc.) or electoral misconduct by candidate or supporters. Most, but not all, of these cases were referred to a committee for review.”

There has only been one case in Senate history when the chamber actually reversed the final election results. That was in 1926 in a race between Daniel Steck and Smith Brookhart in Iowa.

In 1974 the Senate requested a revote in New Hampshire in an election where the two candidates were within 2 votes of each other.

-I was incredibly happy with the elections officials and the Franken volunteers in my county. Everyone was friendly, everything was done openly and common sense ruled. There were still frivolous challenges but it wasn’t the circus I heard about in other counties.

-Looking at so many ballots was downright cool. I saw: a lot of Hillary Clinton presidential write-ins; a Jesse Ventura write-in for Senate; a Fred Thompson presidential write-in; a write-in for “Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt” for president, on the same ballot a write-in vote for Michele Bachmann for U.S. Senate; an absentee ballot where white-out was used to cover up a mistake (this ballot ended getting challenged by the Franken people); several ballots where the president and other top races were bypassed and left blank (the ones I saw all started at US Congress); dozens of ballots where only a vote was cast for president and the rest of the ballot was left blank (those favored Obama about 60-40).

-Split ballots were the norm (at least, a plurality).

-Other observations about the process will have to wait until after the recount is done. It’s fun to watch the PR battle (you know, being a recovering political hack) but I’m a bit disgusted by it (being a recovering political hack you know). But I don’t want to judge too early.

-Fearless prediction: Coleman wins with a 50 vote margin (to give myself some room for error: 50-100 vote margin).

Re: Hillary Clinton as SOS

I thought this story from Abe Lincoln (via LINCOLN’S YARNS AND STORIES by Alexander Kelly) put matters in perspective:

THE PRESIDENTIAL “CHIN-FLY.”

Some of Mr. Lincoln’s intimate friends once called his attention to a certain member of his Cabinet who was quietly working to secure a nomination for the Presidency, although knowing that Mr. Lincoln was to be a candidate for re-election. His friends insisted that the Cabinet officer ought to be made to give up his Presidential aspirations or be removed from office. The situation reminded Mr. Lincoln of a story:

“My brother and I,” he said, “were once plowing corn, I driving the horse and he holding the plow. The horse was lazy, but on one occasion he rushed across the field so that I, with my long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, I found an enormous chin-fly fastened upon him, and knocked him off. My brother asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn’t want the old horse bitten in that way. ‘Why,’ said my brother, ‘that’s all that made him go.’ Now,” said Mr. Lincoln, “if Mr.– has a Presidential chin-fly biting him, I’m not going to knock him off, if it will only make his department go.”

Dick Morris sees a different historical parallel:

Obama would do well to remember the history of Harry Truman and Jimmy Byrnes in 1944. Byrnes, known as the “assistant president” in FDR’s third term, was widely thought to be Roosevelt’s choice to replace Henry Wallace as his running mate on the 1944 ticket. At the last minute, FDR re-considered and decided Byrnes, a South Carolinian, was too conservative and went with Truman instead. But the Democratic Party establishment clearly was disappointed. While they wanted to get rid of the almost-Communist Wallace, they wanted Byrnes not Truman. (Just like the party establishment really wanted Hillary, not Obama, to be the presidential nominee).

So Truman named Byrnes to be his Secretary of State after he took office on Roosevelt’s death in 1945. Byrnes, who thought he should have been president, proceeded to make his own foreign policy. He flew to a meeting in Europe with the allied foreign ministers and barely kept President Truman posted on the deliberations. He became a loose cannon who thought he was the president. After a year of this nonsense, Truman fired him and brought in George Marshall to take the job.

If Obama nominates Hillary, he will put himself in the same position as Truman was with Byrnes and the results will be just as predictable.

Personally, I like the move. Hillary was/is a little more hawkish than Obama and I think she has more experience than Obama in the international arena. She isn’t the most qualified person in the country, but among the people I expected Obama to consider for SOS, she’s the best.

Notes from the Recount

This week the recount began in my county and I decided to volunteer some of my time as a Coleman Rep. Basically, my job was to watch the recount, challenge questionable ballots and double check the count. It is about as exciting as watching people collate paper, which is what it is, and it’s really boring.

First, an overview of the process: The ballots are delivered in sealed boxes which are opened at the tables. If there are any blank ballots, those are each individually checked (not fun, I had to sit and observe several hundred blank ballots get checked) then set aside. The real ballots are stacked before an election official, who begins to separate them into three piles: Coleman, Franken and “Other.” Once the ballots have been assigned a stack, each ballot is then checked for any identifiable marks (more on that later) and then they are counted. The final count is compared to the official count and the process is then repeated.

Some notes and observations:

-What I would consider “poorly” marked ballots are favoring Franken 2:1 (from what I’ve seen). By “poorly” marked I mean ballots where instead of properly filling in the entire oval, an “X” is struck through the oval. But, I’ve yet to see these poorly marked ballots change the actual count (the voting machines must be pretty good at their jobs). The DrudgeReport had a picture of a challenged Coleman ballot and that was nothing compared to some of the votes I didn’t challenge (and it wasn’t me being a maverick, the election judge and the Franken rep thought voter intent on those ballots was clear. At the table I was at, we put questionable efforts at the bottom of the stack, took a second look, and counted them. The head election official also looked at the ballots and decided voter intent was clear.)

-Campaign reps are allowed to challenge questionable ballots. Overvotes and “identifiable marks” are the two most common challenges. Overvotes are when a voter has marked more than one oval in a single race. (Some people filled in ovals, x’ed out their first choice and filled in another oval, these are the ballots getting challenged. What makes this a difficult matter is the fact some people just used “X’s” for their votes while others X’ed their votes and filled in the ovals.) “Identifiable marks” is more interesting, and a tad confusing. Back in the glory days of voter fraud, sinister types would pay for votes. Those paid-for votes would be validated by having an identifiable mark somewhere on the ballot so the corrupt counting official could verify x-number of successful pay-votes. (Of course, this simply raises the question of whether it is necessary to pay for votes when you’ve already got corrupt counters, but I digress…) So, any ballot with any stray marks (including the one I saw which actually had math being done on a blank part of the ballot) got challenged. Even rips in ballots were interpreted as being “marked” enough to challenge.

-Challenged ballots: those overvotes, marked ballots or “other”, go to the state canvassing board for final interpretation. The vast majority of these ballots aren’t going to get thrown out, imho, but you never know. The “identifiable marks” rule is archaic and I don’t know what level of enforcement the canvassing board will use in analyzing the challenged ballots.

-Rough estimation for challenged ballots is about 1 in 1000. This means about 2000 votes are going to go to the state canvassing board for a ruling (only Coleman or Franken votes are getting challenged, no one is really bothering with the Barkley et al votes.) Since the Franken campaign is being a little more aggressive about challenging ballots, this probably means more Coleman votes are getting set aside and it will mean Franken will be in the lead once the recount is finished, before the canvassing board does its thing. So, no worries if Franken appears to be “winning” the recount at first. The difference in votes is in the big brown envelopes going to state.

-I have seen some real interesting ballots. About 10% of the ballots I’ve looked at were McCain/Palin and Franken. There were about the same number of Obama-Coleman ballots. Barkley ballots appeared to favor Franken. One ballot I got to see was an “overvote cubed.” Every oval was filled in in most of the races. The person looked like they “voted” for every campaign they approved of, which was most of them.

-Bugs Bunny was the clear victor among the cartoon write-in options. The election officials and several Franken reps I worked with were disgusted with voters who would write in a fictional character in an official ballot. I said nothing, as “I resemble that remark.” However, Mickey Mouse was my horse, not the clearly vegetarian Bugs.

-My county should be done tomorrow, and I’ll be doing another shift volunteering in the morning. I have some other comments about the process but I’m holding off on making them until the recount is over (it’s a funny tactical thing involving the Franken people, something I and the other GOPers don’t want them to figure out and change just yet).

Wednesday Hero

Gen. Ann E. DunwoodyGen. Ann E. Dunwoody
55 years old from Fort Belvoir, Virginia
U.S. Army

Call it breaking the brass ceiling. Ann E. Dunwoody, after 33 years in the Army, ascended Friday to a peak never before reached by a woman in the U.S. military: four-star general.

At an emotional promotion ceremony, Dunwoody looked back on her years in uniform, said it was a credit to the Army—and a great surprise to her—that she would make history in a male-dominated military.

“Thirty-three years after I took the oath as a second lieutenant, I have to tell you this is not exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding,” she told a standing-room-only auditorium. “Even as a young kid, all I ever wanted to do was teach physical education and raise a family.

“It was clear to me that my Army experience was just going to be a two-year detour en route to my fitness profession,” she added. “So when asked, `Ann, did you ever think you were going to be a general officer, to say nothing about a four-star?’ I say, `Not in my wildest dreams.’

“There is no one more surprised than I—except, of course, my husband. You know what they say, `Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man.’”

You can read the rest of Gen. Dunwoody’s story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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From the Notebook

-Still working on the last touches of the updated Burger Tour, it should be ready to go sometime next week. Five joints were booted off the tour and replaced and there’s the inclusion of a long essay about how I evaluate burger joints.

-Also, I’m now in the middle of working on the Christmas Gift Guides, as usual the first episodes will appear sometime around Thanksgiving. I don’t know how many I do, it depends on how busy I get between work, the MBA program and the MN Senate Recount

-Ah yes, the recount in Senate…It’s starts tomorrow and I’ll be among the many volunteers across the state observing the process on behalf of the Coleman campaign. I’m doing the morning shift, done by 1pm, then off to the library for a few hours before I have to get to work. Home just in time to catch a few hours of sleep. I hope it doesn’t go one for very long.

-About the recount, I probably need to correct myself a bit after this post. My point was not we couldn’t accurately count ballots, my point was that the true will of those people voting on election day couldn’t be determined with any significant accuracy. My comments about the margin of error of the optical scanners is actually moot. I forgot errors should be expected to be distributed somewhat normally in what is in essence a binomial distribution of votes. While a shift of up to 70 votes would not be unusual, a shift in 200 votes would be completely unexpected.

-Don’t expect me to talk about Obama very much for the next few months. At this point, I’m going to give the president elect the benefit of doubt when it comes to his appointments and general administrative direction. I’m not interested in praising or criticizing before he’s actually done anything. Matter of fact, I probably don’t care to discuss politics at all until we’re into the 2010 election cycle, which should be about this time next year. Unless I see policies which are direct attacks against personal freedom (gun registration or mass property confiscation) I see a healthy amount of apathy in my life for sometime.

-This raises the question of the future of GOP. Well, just wait a bit everyone. The direction of the GOP on a strategic level should be a topic of discussion but not a serious one for quite some time. The issues of the day, the events in the newsand the activities of our opposition will mostly decide the way we direct the party in 2010 and beyond. It’s out of our hands. Fill in knowledge gaps, obviously, brush up on political technology and start thinking about 2010, but don’t knock yourselves out. In other words, relax.

-One of the tactical changes the GOP does need to think about is leadership changes. In most democracies the leaders of losing parties resign. This is healthy and something I would like to see, a turnover in leadership. (This doesn’t mean we throw the leaders overboard, think of it like taking combat leaders off the front line, they don’t suddenly leave the military, they are just reassigned to other areas. It’s an organizational necessity).

-Watched the movie “Faith of my Fathers” which was a film based on the John McCain memoirs of the same name. It’s a good film, not great. It focuses on McCain’s years in the Hanoi Hilton, which make it difficult to watch at times.

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