Monday, September 29, 2008

Be. Like (the) squirrel.

This is the textbook definition of Nuttwerx Squirrelization. Come to think of it, it could be Squirrel Nuttwerxization as well. You are what you eat, and the squirrelly hostess is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. When preparing members of the order Rodentia for your dining pleasure, presentation is important. That's my line; the ones in the video are nuttier. This looks like a job for Sarah Palin. (The Kill-It-Yourself movement. Teach your children well, the squirrel's hell…) Perhaps it could be on the White House menu then. What sense does cheese make? I'd suggest peanut-butter and squirrel sandwiches. I somehow find myself wondering how a squirrel-melt smells (not tastes) and am eagerly awaiting the time when computers are equipped with smell cartridges, and a standardized olfactory codec for YouTube enables the smell of fresh, lightly toasted squirrel melts to waft gently away from the fan of my laptop. And now, if Euell excuse me, as a counterpoint and in the interest of equal time, I need to go listen to the White Stripes' Little Acorns, a celebration of the dignity and inspiration of that noble forest denizen.
("Be like the squirrel! Be like the squirrel!")

Via Posthuman Blues.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Duh Bait

Presidential candidates debate transcript wordle and some visual after-debate zeitgeist from daylife.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


What's this I hear about McCain suspending his campaign and possibly not showing up for the debate? Does this mean he is no longer contesting the election? Will Obama debate his empty chair, a spokesdrone, or YouTube videos of McCain? Or is this McCain saying that this "election" stuff just isn't all that important. "I'm far too busy spending ONE TRILLION DOLLARS of your money bailing out some good buddies back in Washington DC and I just don't have the time to explain it all to you little people! I'm a busy man!" Would McCain just suspend the election itself if he thought he could?

I was at today through a google search gone astray and really enjoy that site altho I basically hate(d) TV. There are many downloadable WMV files of virtually every TV intro I know of. I stopped watching TV in the 1970s so the ones I am interested date from that era. With McCain in mind, I drew up a TV line-up which would be the ones approved by the Homeland Security team during the McCain administration, presumably after the government bailed out all of the failing TV networks and the production of new TV series died out in favor of pre-millenial nostalgia.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Uncle Joe's Minor Gaffe/Bidenism/Aneurysm Generator

"Chinese menu" - just pick one item from each column. Click on it; it's big.
Different layout:

A Whole New World.

Republican Vice-Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin continued to enhance her foreign policy credentials today as she toured Florida's EPCOT Center, meeting with the newly-installed animatronic presidents Zardari, Hamid Karzai, Indira Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln. Later, the former beauty queen had lunch with Cinderella and Minnie Mouse, where the conversation veered away from the everyday concerns of hard-working fictional characters in the fantasy land community into an unexpectedly heated discussion of animal rights. Local reporters and national media were chased from the scene by an angry John McCain, who appeared to be shadowing Mrs Palin. Mrs Palin left the event by helicopter, and was last seen attempting to bag Bambi from the low-flying aircraft. Technicians who arrived on the scene were unable to field dress the animal due to rust and extensive soldering. The Disney autonomouse region casts 3 of the state's 27 electoral votes through a tough 2000 compromise that had the kingdom suspend its armed, eared, four-fingered secessionist struggle in exchange for implants in the spinal cords of the Bush royal family and their offspring.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yet another electoral scoreboard

Take the median value of all polls in a state over the last month for each state. Use that as the best guess of how the state will vote. I admire the simplicity of that approach, especially since I am also a big fan of the power of the median as opposed to the overrated mean or average. Calculating the median also saves energy or computing power. Their method is not only simple but powerfully predictive. This method, (Gott and Colley's Median Poll Statistics), predicted 49 out of 50 states correctly in 2004. It currently has Obama getting 273 votes due to adding IA, CO, and NM to Kerry's 2004 states. Which polls to use? They use (the same ones as) RCP although you could theoretically add more polls and get an even better result since the median method automatically eliminates outliers. Mr Gott has done a good job with the map, too. (It would make a good quilt, RISK board, or pendant of fuse beads AKA iron beads in Japan.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the shape of song

musical visualizations


Wordle is a fun and interesting tool. You may find a use for it. On the right is a wordle from the text of Vonnegut's God Bless You Mr Rosewater. On the left is one from posthuman blues. Original writing of your own and dynamic changes sources such as google news give interestingly varied results. Wordle of Cat's Cradle is below.

Electoral Vote Trend Visualization Take Two

Because it would be bad luck to leave the old one with McCain ahead, here is my new electoral graphicalization. NeoOffice(2.2.2) works on this MacBook but looked bad. Excel came through again. I got the single center gridline at 50% to come out somehow (Excel stopped rejecting that modification) and I stuck a picture behind it. Time order is geological as before. I made it A3 size (click on it!) but some inexplicable artifact came into the horizontal bars. Maybe it is "shadow" and I'd have to go back through the "wizard". As before, data is from and inspiration from

Thursday, September 18, 2008

reading: David Foster Wallace

I wasn't really familiar with the work of David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) but I hope to become more familiar with his work. Like Jim Carrey, he was born within a few days or weeks of me, which seems to sometimes give a similar outlook due to astrological, terrestrial, or zeitgeistical influences. Harper's magazine has released PDFs of his work as a memorial. I am looking forward to reading them soon.

September 1989
Everything is Green

December 1991
Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes: A Midwestern boyhood

August 1992
Rabbit Resurrected

September 1993
The Awakening of My Interest in Annular Systems

July 1994
Ticket to the Fair (Video–Reading in 2000)

January 1996
Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise

January 1998
The Depressed Person

July 1998
Laughing with Kafka

October 1998
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

April 2001
Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the wars over usage

February 2008
The Compliance Branch

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Get Off My Lawn! '08

Remembering another of those politely overlooked moments at the RNC:

"My friends, countrymen, hey, all of you kids…

G'won. Git outta here."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

State polls electoral vote trends

This is just a graph inspired by the assiduous data collection at and the superior graphicalization at The data is from

This is an Excel graph; my first attempt with was too ugly to look at (inducing epileptic seizures in viewers not wearing protective eyewear). I am test-driving 3.0 beta, an Aqua version for the Macintosh, after abandoning the newest version of NeoOffice, which didn't work at all.

I think this is just a one-off. I don't plan on doing this regularly. I wanted to see what it looked like and what I could do with ooo (Answer: a lot, but Excel was better). Click on it for the full-size image. If it makes no sense to you at all, go to and for a better explanation of the key (AKA legend) and methodology.

Briefly, Strong is a 10%+ lead, Weak is a 5-10% lead, and Barely is a less than 5% lead. Tied are within 1% in polling. The stacked percentage bar graph reports percentages, but 100% is 538 electoral votes. 50% is 269. Each 10% line is 53.8 electoral votes, and the 2% tick marks therefore indicate 10.76 EVs. Since there are 50 states, the 2% marks also indicate an average (nonexistent) state with 10.76 electoral votes. IN, TN, MO and WA are closest to average with 11 EVs each, so you can think of a 2% tick mark as indicating one of them. Coincidentally, these 4 states lie (today) in 4 different states of confidence (of the 7 bands represented).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Free E-booX

I forgot to post this draft. 

I was watching Meet the Press. Joe Biden and Tom Friedman were on.
Last Sunday"s show:
Last segment with Tom Friedman
MR. BROKAW: We're back live in Wilmington, Delaware. And with us now,
having traveled from Washington all that way, author of the new book
"Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It
Can Renew America," Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from The New
York Times, Tom Friedman.

Friedman is very vivid but a bit too glib and tends to jump from idea
to idea. I don't think I would buy his book. He had a good point to
make about "the price signal" and making that national policy instead
of surfing the market.

You may have heard of Lester Brown"s Plan 3.0. In a way Friedman is
ripping him off or popularizing a variation of what he and Al Gore
are saying.
I just downloaded the free pdf version which is available at his site
or linked from treehugger
all ccxviii pages of the pdf are numbered in roman numerals for some
perhaps to distinguish them from the page numbers in the actual text
or you can pay money

Speaking of free online books about saving the world/climate/solving
the energy problem,
you can also get Amory Lovins' book Winning the Oil Endgame online.
There was an article about him in the economist Sept 4.
A $40 bargain: Winning-Oil-Endgame-Amory-Lovins/dp/1881071103

And speaking of free electronic text, Cory Doctorow's novels are
available free at
That'll save you about $100 you could have spent at amazon

That reminds me that I recently downloaded Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman from  That is a book which I once found in a used bookstore around 1980 and considered a fossil even then. Updated 2008 versions and variations have been created for online reading and downloading, for what it's worth.  

I really need to add treehugger and worldchanging links to the sidebar.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tales of Courage, Valor, and Horror

In May, 1968, John McKern was flying a bombing mission in Lower Kagookistan when his airplane came under small arms fire. As he returned fire on what he believed to be a suspicious boat sailing below, the plane was fired upon and disabled. McKern managed to crash land directly onto the swift boat before he was able to determine that it was a friendly craft. All the soldiers aboard were killed, with the sole exception of the boat's captain, John Kermacky. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital medics who rushed to the site described a hellish scene of severed body parts strewn about the banks of a tributary of the Messihippiz river. Forced to improvise under harsh field conditions, surgeons took two intact, living torsos and began sewing other intact body parts onto them. One man had two punctured lungs; thus a lung transplant was performed. The other man had two punctured kidneys, necessitating a kidney transplant. Both men were missing portions of their faces, jaws, assorted limbs, and even brain tissue. Surgeons labored for days in dark surgical tunnels, working to piece the macabre jigsaw together under woefully inadequate lighting conditions. Despite being subsequently captured by Upper Kagookistani irregulars, both men survived. Years later, their friendship survives as well. Stranger still, both men serve their country, the Republic of Armed Desire, in the House of Sedators. McKern is an Esteemed Predator of the Party of Reptilian Empowerment; Kermacky a Senior Elder in the Party of Demogogic Cyborgization. Despite their political differences, the two men reserve time to meet at least twice a year to share a meal of hot dog soup. "But on hot summer days of the Barbecue Festival, we usually have cold dog soup," Kermacky says proudly.

Source: Surrealist Review of the World Nest; Rat XX.

Whale here, whale now!

Cetacean-based fats and oils are a tested and proven source of light, heat, energy, and provide a nutritious, edible, metal-rich spread for our growing nation. Futuristic fuels such as coal oil and petroleum are pie-in-the sky ideas best left for the next century. John McCain supports expanding the nation's whaling fleet to deal with the fast-rising price of whale oil above the critical sixpence-per-cup level. Large numbers of energy-rich whales drift uselessly in our territorial waters due to tax barriers erected by the liberal Democratic allies of Barack Obama. Given the proper tax incentives, these offshore whale reserves can be used to free the land grow the economy!

Whale, baby, whale!
Paid for by the Cetacean-based Fuels for America's Future Consortium

This is only a drill.
Had this been an actual national energy emergency,
you would have been directed to develop renewable energy sources for energy independence.


Strike One:

Most E-mailed stories podcast 09-02-2008
Stories: 1) Finally, Guidelines On Cleaning Ears Released 2) An Oscar Crop With An Instinct For Change 3) Bulger Case Changed FBI's Role With Informants 4) VP Nominee Says Teen Daughter Is Pregnant 5) A French Marionette Tradition 6) Fall Movies: Corsets, Crises, Comedies and Cranks
There just had to be something happening in the world on September 2 that was more important than NOT cleaning your ears too much.

Strike Two:
I have heard the expression "swing state of Minnesota" several times, but couldn't remember where. It's odd because Minnesota has voted Democratic in the last 10 elections. In the last 12 elections, it crossed over to the Republican side once, to re-elect Nixon in 1972. It occurred to me to Google the source of this and I found… NPR!
Debate Reaction from a Swing State : NPR
Morning Edition, October 14, 2004 · NPR's Juan Williams watched the presidential debate with voters in the swing state of Minnesota. Williams reports on how ... - Similar pages
Blog House: With GOP's No. 1 question settled, it's onto No. 2
20 Feb 2008 ... Popular in the swing state of Minnesota (where the GOP convention is going to be held). Has fairly modest roots (can't allow Dems to play ... - 71k - Cached - Similar pages
That story's from 2004, when Republicans came unexpectedly close to winning Minnesota. I'm blaming NPR anyway. POS News.

Trouble is, among their suburban lifestyle stories they occasionally have a great science or anthropological report. As a standard train-commute audio news report, Democracy Now is best, but still leaves a little to be desired. Here and Now is fairly OK but poofy at times as well. When a story like earwax begins I usually press skip, and this occurs far too often.

Electoral sites and sims (link dump)

You can run the election as a probabilistic simulation in your browser and see who wins.



Caution State-level polling data this far in advance of November is of limited predictive value. Therefore, these simulations may bear no resemblance to how the election will actually play out.

Did you know that there are over two quadrillion (15 zeroes) ways that the U.S. map can be colored red and blue?
1.99 quadrillion of those are extremely unlikely, however.

Newest and best

An older, rival site: Sam Wang at Princeton

Electoral Maps



This probably lists every electoral-vote related site in the world.

I found that here.

Update: An alternative visualization of the same state poll data collated by is at EVStrength.
Update 20080-9-17: Another view is provided by ignoring the polls directly and using Intrade prices as data, instead. Rather than being subject to speculative swings as you might expect, the dats seems to be steadier and the numbers check out better. It's worth cross-checking:

Oh, Dear Leader!

"There is nothing wrong with Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. The plasticized corpse of the Dear Leader
continues to sit upright and preside over an important ongoing
cabinet meeting, and he will continue to guide our nation for
eternity," a North Korean government spokesperson affirmed Wednesday.

-fikshnl DPRK Nuws Riliys

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wreck of the Party of Lincoln

Wreck of the Party of Lincoln
adapted from
Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
Original music and lyrics ©1976 by Gordon Lightfoot
livicated to the 29-man crew
these lyrics creative commons attribution pls

The legend lives on from Superior on down:
the Republican Nat'n'l Convention
in 2008, late summer of hate,
days after the mile-high love-in.
With a load of "folklore", twenty-thousand times more
than the party of Reagan held empty,
that good party crew was a bone to be chewed
when the "Gales of November" came early.
The new cap'n's name was J S McCain (III),
a Panamanian-registered vet'ran.
A naval bombardier, he was a prisoner
who'd ditched his first wife for an heiress.
He said he didn't know how many homes he owned
but his staff would get back to us later.
And sometime that week when he picked out his veep
came the wreck of the party of Lincoln.
His first running mate was governor of a state
where the moose and caribou frolic.
Her privilege was to kill them to get a cheap thrill.
Her voice was like nails on a blackboard.
Palin was the pride of the born-ag'in side,
coming down from some town in Alaska.
As governors go, she was younger than most,
with a pregnant unmarried teen daughter.
Consulting some firms with political terms,
she left fully loaded for Dayton.
And later that day when the teleprompter rolled,
could it be the North Slope they were drillin'?
The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
as the waves broke over the levees.
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the ghosts of Katrina come callin'.
The dawn came late and the party had to wait
when Hurricane Gustav came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was drivin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.
When Monday night came the networks got on deck sayin'.
"Fellas, it's too rough t' feed ya."
At seven P.M. the main speaker caved in; he said,
"Fellas, I'll phone it in later!"
The pollster mailed in he had polls comin' in
so they sent Mister Cheney to Georgia.
And later that night when the moon was outta sight
came the wreck of the party of Lincoln.
Does any one know why the black waters flow
from Saint Paul to the city of N'Orleans?
On the streets of Saint Paul the cops make a haul
rounding up passers-by and protesters.
In a big musty hall in the town of Saint Paul,
called the "Xcel Energy Center"
the Blackberries chime ringing twenty-three times
for each speech scheduled in the new lineup.
"Democracy Now" never matters somehow
to the "Homeland Security" goon squads.
In "pre-emptive arrests" citing "anarchists"
they arrested 400 "protesters".
The legend lives on from Superior on down
to the mouth of the great Mississippi.
Lake Pontchartrain never cares for Bush's brain
when the gales of November come early!

Notes: This music came to me in the morose atmosphere of the start of the Republican National Convention. It was lucky that that expression even has the right syllable count -- if you reduce National (Nash+nul) to 2 syllables. A few lines occurred to me over the past few days and I wrote up some more for my amusement this afternoon. I was trying to have 14 stanzas(?) like the original but I ran over so delete your least favorite one, mix and match, substitute words, credit me as co-lyricist if you record this. I left the numbers in. This music must be deep in my brain. I thought nobody over 40 or 36 or so would remember it, since it was a 1976 song about a 1975 wreck, but the Dandy Warhols recorded a cover of it. I'd like to see the Dandys or Gordon Lightfoot or better yet, "Gordon Lightfoot and the Dandy Warhols" performing the 2008 Electoral Rewrite version of this song, live, in concert.

Music video:

2008 live Gordon Lightfoot version:

Gordon Lightfoot MySpace

Dandy Warhols cover

Original lyrics: 1, 2

The Republican Party Convention:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Journalists Harassed at the RNC

If you even dare to report on the estimated 20,000 to 50,000 protesters in St. Paul, you are likely to get arrested and roughed up a little by the police, as happened to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

News story at UPI.