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From the Notebook

Cover of "American Assassin: A Thriller (...

Cover via Amazon

Lots of year-end house-cleaning to do here.

-Looks like an easy solution to the Vikings stadium issue is to permanently make Twin Cities Federal Stadium their permanent home. Making some small renovations to the field, like the addition of heating coils, and negotiating concessions and alcohol sales is a lot easier and cheaper than asking for $700-900 million for a new stadium or spending several hundred million renovating or rebuilding the Metrodome site.

– Larry Jacobs’ defense of the HHH/MPR/SCSU/MinnPost/Strib/Minnesota polls (for context, I suggest Mitch Berg’s series on the topic) is (or should be, anyway) embarassing. There is obviously a problem with these polls. The ability of other national polls to be more accurate at an earlier time is a good indication there is some systemic problem with the MPR/HHH and Strib Minnesota Polls.

Recount notes:

– I mentioned throughout the election that I felt Emmer was the weaker of the two MNGOP options to run for governor. Having seen a few thousand ballots now in the recount, I’m more confident of this assertion. I have seen a lot of undervotes for governor on otherwise straight-ticket GOP ballots. And I have seen a lot of Dayton votes in otherwise straight-ticket GOP ballots. These are very anomalous compared to what I saw in the Coleman/Franken recount. I did get to see a lot of split ticket ballots (Colin Peterson being the most common in both recounts, State Senator and former Douglas County Sheriff Bill Ingebritsen being a common split ticket vote getter this time around), but these ballots with votes for Byberg, Westrum or Franson, Ingebritsen, Severson, Barden, and Anderson then a vote for Dayton or a non-vote for governor have me convinced Emmer drove away people who would have voted for any other Republican. And there weren’t a few of these ballots. I saw more than a dozen in the 1000 or so ballots I got to see counted. (I wrote this the first day of the recount, on the second day I saw even more ballots and the pattern held.) And I bet reason #1 for this was Emmer’s DUIs.

– Something new this year, the election judges had the option to declare a challenge “frivolous” and skip sending those ballots to the state canvassing board. While there is a huge potential for abuse, it hasn’t been an issue in my area as the only challenged ballot was a real enigma. Some of my Republican recount volunteers were disappointed in me that I did not challenge a “Bugs Bunny” write-in on a Dayton ballot (one of the very few anamolies I saw). First, I was familiar with a similar issue from the 2008 Senatorial election and I knew how the MinnSupremeCourt ruled on the issue (thus the challenge would be futile) and second, the handout we got on the first day of the recount from the recount officials showed very clearly that they would declare challenging any writing in the write-in areas of the ballots to be frivolous.

-Thankfully, there were very very few problem ballots in this election. Off-year election voters are simply less likely to vote for “lizard people” or do other stuff with their ballots that would be questionable in a hand recount. Everything went smoothly. Emmer’s only hope was for a statewide “reconciliation” of ballots and signatures. Without that, the recount wasn’t going to make a difference.

Books Read:

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. This novel was found on Crichton’s computer after his death. Unlike the last book he published when he was still alive (“Next”), this one was a simple plot with a small group of main characters. And thus, very pleasant to read. Steven Spielberg is said to be working on a movie. The most interesting part of the book was how true-to-life Crichton was trying to be, rather than other pirate stories that are well beyond what actually happened.

-Herodotus’ Histories (Books I&II). This is part of the Great Books ten-year reading program. Book I dealt mostly with the history of the Persians (and the Hellenes on the west coast of Turkey) and the various interactions thereof. Book II deals entirely with the Egyptians. This was really a joy to read. Herodotus was a writer for a popular audience.

-Prisoner of War Diary of Paul E. Lee Sr. (24 May 1944 to 29 April 1945). This short diary, about twenty pages, deals mostly with the day to day life of a POW. Lee was held as a prisoner for about a year by the Luftwaffe. He spent time in the American side of Stalag-Luft III (the place where the Brits staged their “great escape”). What was most interesting was the obsession with food (not surprising, but the last part of the diary had a page of food Lee intended to eat when he got back, and it makes a great guide for those looking for comfort food ideas). Also interesting was the number of “classes” that were taught. These POW camps, at least the officer camps, were practical universities. The diary was available from Lee’s daughter on eBay. It is no longer available. She put a copyright protection on the diary, so I can’t put anything up (yet).

-Revelations (The Bible). The most enigmatic book of the Bible is also the easiest read. I can see why fundamentalists love the book so much, I read the book in a single sitting. It was interesting, and taken out of context it’s subject can be applied to anything. (For example, are the Vikings the anti-Christ? they wear purple too.) Despite its many misuses, I like many of the passages of Revelations. It is the most literary book of the New Testament.

-Teaching Company Course: “Science Fiction: The Literature of Technological Imagination” by Professor Eric Rabkin (U of Mich). This was the equivalent of a 1-credit undergrad seminar. Rabkin avoided all of what we most commonly know as sci-fi and instead focused entirely on literary sci-fi and sci-fi origins. It is a very interesting course.

– American Assassin, Vince Flynn. The story of Mitch Rapp’s beginning. Like all of Flynn’s novels, there’s a lot of red meat here. A very fun diversion.


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