October 31, 2008

One more map

I had promised my friend Scott that I wouldn't do any more political posts, and technically this isn't. I have an inherent affinity for numbers, and when I see numbers depicted in an efficient way, I just have to take a moment to appreciate it.

A week ago, I had put up the picture of the electoral map from Pollster.com. Here it is, again, as of today.

Interesting, but so what? In engineering, science, finance, and really any discipline where you have to make a point with the help of numbers, it becomes very important how you show the numbers. Not "show" as in skew the data, but how you represent it. That's why in Excel there are a millions charts to choose from.

This morning I saw the electoral map from CNN. The spread is a little bit different, but the basic data is the same. What they do differently is show the data on a sliding scale. Take a look...

They have the same map as Pollster.com, but instead of just giving the numbers, they give a pictorial representation of them. This makes it very easy for a non-technical person to interpret the data. You can see that for John McCain, not only does he have to win all the states that are "leaning" towards him, he also has to win the toss-ups, and some of Obama's leaning states. From there, you can look at the map to see what states are leaning which way, and determine for yourself which way they might break.

Very nice. I like it.

October 25, 2008

We have a walker

Keeping up in the tradition of doing things in his time, Armaan decided that it's time to start walking. We both saw him take his first hesitant step two days ago. Now like his crawling, he's gone from taking a little step to many in just a few days.

Priya's class had a field trip to the pumpkin patch. It was a nice fall day, and she had a lot of fun.

Of course it's always nice to have friends with you

Rats.. behind bars.. foiled again...

They haven't seen the last of me yet..

Priya's first Jack-O-Lantern (with some help)

A few weeks ago Priya went to First Reformed Church (which is the church of her pre-school) to take part in some singing. It's a long video, but has some cute parts.

October 22, 2008

Poll Predictions

With less than two weeks to go before election day, here is the current prediction:

I wanted to throw this up so that in a couple of weeks I can come back and look at it, and see how right, or wrong predictions are. Pollster.com does a "poll of polls" which basically means they analyze the different polls out there, and try to combine them. This is a very common statistical tool (meta-analysis) used in a variety of disciplines. This is the first election cycle that I've been aware of its heavy usage in American psephology.

Looking at the picture you can see incredible challenge facing John McCain, and the danger of complacency for Barak Obama. Election for the President in the US is based on the Electoral College. I have never heard a good argument for why this idiotic system is still in place. What are its practical effects? It divides the country into "Red" and "Blue" states. If you're in a blue state like Illinois where Obama is ahead 20+ percentage points, you will never see John McCain campaign. Also, a vote for McCain in IL will be purely symbolic because it will be overwhelmed by all the votes cast for Obama. Everyone remembers the 2000 election where Gore won the popular vote, but Bush became President by winning the electoral college.

Ok.. where was I...? Yes. Polls are already predicting an electoral college victory for Obama (it takes 270 to win). If he does half as well in some of the toss-up states, then there's the potential for an overwhelming mandate. But, that's also why Obama has now switched from standard campaign speeches to urging voters not to get complacent. What he doesn't need is for someone to think that the other guy's gonna vote because poof - there goes the election. Though, Democrats traditionally have a very strong 'get-out-the-vote' machine: buses and vans picking up voters to take them to polling booths, and all that good stuff.

Looking at the map, it's hard to see how McCain can pull ahead. I think his biggest chance is an energizing of the Republican base to turn out in large numbers in the toss-up states.

So.. Nov 5, we will know.

October 19, 2008

A few weeks out from the elections

This morning Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. This is the same person who made the famous case for WMDs in the UN. So maybe he lacks a little bit of credibility. But still, you can't discount completely what he has to say. I saw the case he laid out between John McCain and Barack Obama, and why he's endorsing Obama. The interesting point is that Powell rejected McCain because of the Republican party, and endorsed Obama inspite of the Democratic Party. So McCain was rejected because of the people he associates with, while Obama was selected based on his personal merits. You can argue the merits of this, but I agree almost completely with Gen. Powell's case. Take a listen...

One of the things that Gen. Powell says (also mentioned by Campbell Brown on CNN) was what if Obama was Muslim? Why does it matter? Should it matter? Just the fact that so many people are hung up on that says more about those people than Obama himself.

Chicago Tribune, a newspaper started by some of the strongest supporters of the Republican party came out with an endorsement of Obama - the first time in the newspaper's history that it has endorsed a Democratic candidate. Also worth reading.

October 05, 2008

Annual tradition

The entire family just went through a bout of colds and coughs. It started with Priya, moved to Tish and then finally Armaan and I got it. I hate being sick - especially respiratory stuff. Stuffy nose, constant coughing.. Ugh. Still.. we made it through OK.

Ok mama... Do I really have to tolerate this?

On the other hand - its quite fun!

This past Saturday we went for our annual apple-picking. It's amazing how much Priya remembered from last year. She had been talking about picking apples for months, starting with, "Remember we picked apples last year." She remembered sitting on the big pumpkins, and the tractor ride.

Look here kids.. After six pictures.. Never mind.

Sampling the wares

This looks like a good one

Quick.. take a bite before anyone watches...