Saturday, April 30, 2011

Twas The Day Before Elections

Twas the day before election
And all through the land
The electorate was speaking
About their election plan.

We're tired of corruption
From Grits and Tories too
We think we want Layton
Maybe he knows what to do.

The Star says vote Layton
For he is the man
Who has the wherewithall
to stop Harper's plan.

Now I did some crunching
And I'm nervous as can be
There are many riding in the country
Where a split could be scary.

Take Avalon in Newfoundland
As I see in my notes
The Grits only won it
by three thousand votes

And if this time many Grits
Vote for the NDP
Then Harper wins that seat
with an undemocratic minority

So, what's a voter to do
When he steps into the booth
Vote strategic or preference?
I wish I knew the truth.

Now if there is justice
And hopefully there is
Then Harper won't get a majority
By splitting the NDP/Grits

He won't get a majority
Unless it's what people want to say
But it surely looks like
They want Layton today.

So, it's off to the polls
And let's tell them how we feel
No more lying, no more cheating
No more axes to wield.

Just a cooperative honest government
That's ready to fight
For Canada, for women
For what's socially right.

And as I stood by window
and looked out at the night
I heard Harper bemoaning
And Ignatieff in flight.

They both seemed so petty
That it made me shout
As soon as it's over

Monday, April 25, 2011

Julia on Global TV

Julia was on Global TV tonight on a segment with Susan Hay entitled "Making a Difference". ENJOY....

Leslie Roberts ends the segment by saying "Special people helping special kids". That's our Julia. Definitely special!

My Predictions: Prime Minister Layton? The Numbers Don’t Add Up.

While it is certainly exciting news from a Canadian Federal Election perspective that there really is something different going on this time. But, what does it mean that the NDP party are now essentially tied with the Liberals for voter support?

To try and find an answer, I reverted back to math, my safe haven. From a statistical point of view, I decided to use the results of 2008 as a starting point (sounds like a reasonable beginning).

So, starting with the most contentious ridings, those won by less than 5% of the electorate, here’s what we see. Winning by less than 5% occurred in 42 ridings across the country. Simon Fraser University has a website that lists all of these ridings and who finished first and second. I took that data and populated an excel spreadsheet. Then, I sliced and diced. I then assumed that any riding where the NDP finished second, I predicted that they would win. And, considering how the party that seems to be suffering the worst from this campaign is the Liberals, outside of Quebec, I next focused on that Party. There were 15 seats where the Liberals lost by less that 5% of the vote. I predicted that these would not change. Lastly, I looked at where the Conservatives finished second and predicted that if the winner was the Liberal, those riding would be won by the Conservatives this time.

Bottom line, The Bloc will lose 1 seat, the Liberals will lose 10, and the Conservatives will gain 5, and the NDP will gain 6.

I decided that maybe I needed to take a different approach. So, this time, I looked at every seat where the NDP finished second. The total was 66 seats. WOW, now that’s exciting. But, I began to scratch deeper. Of the 66 seats where they finished second, 49 of those seats were won by the Conservatives. However, of those 49 seats, the Conservatives won 34 of them by a margin of 20 percentage points. No matter how excited the electorate is with the NDP this time, I don’t think that they can overcome a 20 point margin without a Conservative scandal that actually sticks (as far as I can tell, nothing has stuck yet). But, I do believe that all of these straws that continued to get piled on the Conservative camels' back are making a difference in the swing ridings, even if we're not seeing them in the polls.

So, if the NDP wins 15 seats from the Conservatives, and all of the rest of their second place seats, that’s another 17 seats. That’s an NDP gain of 32 seats. Not enough to topple the Conservatives, but surpassing the Liberal seat count. Further, if we focus a bit more closely on Quebec, we see that there are potentially 4 new seats that the NDP can pick up, all at the expense of the Bloc. For the sake of fun, I am going to predict that the NDP captures all of them.

Now, that you know how I got at my results, here is my prediction based on the Conservatives' not getting stuck in a scandal (and none of the straws eventually breaking the camels back), and, the NDP continuing to ride high in the polls.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stephen Harper Kenyan Birth Certificate

Amongst the many things that make me crazy is the unwillingness of politicians to strike down nonsense. Last month, Donald Trump added his name to the birther crowd .In an interview with ABC television, Trump said he found Obama’s background and childhood mysterious and strange.

" Everybody that even gives a hint of being a birther … even a little bit of a hint, like… maybe, just maybe this much of a chance, they label them as an idiot. Let me tell you, I'm a really smart guy," Trump said. (EDITOR NOTE: I've always felt that people who have to tell you that they are really a smart guy, aren't).

Read more:

I am terribly disheartened by this nonsense and so, I decided I would make sure that our Prime Minister wasn't also born in Kenya. YIKES. He was. See the attached birth certificate that I found on my printer this afternoon. Luckily for Stephen Harper, you don't have to be born in Canada to be the Prime Minister, you only have to be a citizen of the British Empire.

Nevertheless, it took me 15 minutes, MS Word, a piece of brown paper, a blank seal which I use when I give students a certificate for attending a technical training class to create this silly little fake document.

Yes, Donald, Obama has an exotic childhood. He tells us all about it in Dreams From My Father. You're a smart guy. Read the book.

By the way, anybody who would like their own Nonsense Kenya Birth Certificate, post me a comment or let me know on my Facebook page and I will send you the MS Word template. (This offer is valid in the 50 states and Canada, offer not valid for Republican Presidential candidates.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Civil Rights: A Tale of Two Presidents and My High School History Teacher

There was a wonderful article published this past Sunday, April 3, 2011 in The New York Times Magazine, page MM40, by Adam Goodheart. The article titled How Slavery Really Ended in America can be found on line at . It's fascinating. The gist of the story is that an event early on in the Civil War involving Major General Benjamin F. Butler (a career lawyer who was only 1 month into his service in the military) inevitably led to the Emancipation Proclamation. Likewise, early on in the Lyndon Johnson presidency, there was a similar event that led to the inevitable passage of the 14th amendment.

Most of us know the Lyndon Johnson was an avid Civil Rights advocate, but, as he once told Dr. Martin Luther King, you will need to put me in a position where I have to push for the 14th amendment, in order to make it happen. The killing in Selma, Alabama during a protest rally was just such an event. And, here, is the famous quote from President Johnson's We Shall Overcome speech of March 15, 1965 that so inspired the fight for Civil Rights:

At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long-suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many were brutally assaulted. One good man, a man of God, was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith
in our democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government -- the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country: to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.

Of course we all know that President Lincoln made some memorable speeches himself, but in 1963, as a senior in High School, I wrote a paper in my history class that made the exact point that Johnson made two years later when he explained what had to happen in order to pass the 14th amendment. I researched the various speeches that Lincoln made during his cross country campaign to become president. I showed that in the North, he often referred to slavery and the need for its abolishment, but never, never did he mention abolishment in the south. Regretfully, I was tarnishing a hero, and my teacher was not a big fan of my paper.

The same teacher, the same course, another paper. This time, I wrote a paper on how to get elected president. I had just read the Theodore White book The Making of a President (1960) based on the Kennedy/ Nixon campaign, and when I looked at the chart of votes per candidate by state, I hypothesized that very few states really counted in a presidential election. For example, New York would almost always vote democratic, and Ohio could go either way. So, I used the library to locate the popular vote count by state for past elections and predicted which states could go either way and which states don't need serious campaigning in. Again, my teacher felt that this was inappropriate, he argued that all states are up for grabs and that a proper candidate treats them all equally. Dick Morris, born in 1948 (2 years younger than me), and Karl Rove (born 1950), both knew what I was talking about.

Perhaps if my "Get Clean for Gene" volunteering in the 1968 election had turned out differently, I might have forgotten the scientist career and become a political campaign strategist.

Who knows, certainly not my High School History teacher !