Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

cousin's wedding

it is a rare occasion when my entire family gets together. in fact, even for my cousin's wedding there were only 6 hours in which we were ALL together. no matter. we still had fun, and snapped a couple of photos.




congratulations to my cousin casey who found a radical dude who loves the SF Giants as much as she does.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

the big sort, and an obligatory election prediction

i have been so forking busy teaching classes, applying for jobs, and taking as many naps as possible, that i have had precious little time to blog. Which SUCKS because there are only about 2 months every 4 years when people are actually interested in what i do and research, so i failed to seize the opportunity to talk about all the politics i could, and have people listen (maybe)!. well, you know what they say, Que Sera Sera. jk, no one really says that, anymore.

so even though there is so much to say and talk about, i've decided to bring your attention to just one thing...from all of the political tweets, and memes, and articles, and cable news commentary, one graphic has emerged that is most interesting (and alarming) to me. and its this:


this graph was produced by political scientist Barry Burden, at University of Wisconsin using public election data from uselectionatlas.org.  the graph shows a striking turn of the voting public in these four states from ideologically middle of the road to increasingly ideologically extreme and distinct; Texas keeps getting more and more Republican, and California keeps getting more and more Democratic...

this observation is precisely the premise of a now somewhat dated book, The Big Sort, by Bill Bishop. in the Big Sort, Bishop details the trend in the United States toward more and more homogeneous communities and how this "clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart." in sum, we are increasingly choosing to live in communities with people who share our political and social beliefs, and this is actually leading to a more strongly divided nation. thus, we are bonding with our likeminded friends, but not extending bridges to our differently-minded neighbors in the next town over.

this geographic phenomenon seems so obviously tied to the much commented upon observation this election cycle (that i myself blogged about) which is that Republicans and Democrats aren't experiencing the same reality, and as a result we are more divided than ever. Dems and Repubs see the same political advertisement, but interpret it so differently, based on entirely distinct terms and conditions. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report for October, which showed a decrease in unemployment was interpreted by extreme Republicans to suggest foul play at the BLS; they would rather accuse the BLS of cooking the books, than accept a reality that might reflect positively on the president. Similarly, Democrats interpreted Romney's first election debate bump as meaningless, because "historically, debates don't matter." what is more, "news" on one tv station, let's just say Fox, is not even mentioned on, let's just say MSNBC. And therefore even what the different sides of the spectrum consider newsworthy does not match up. We aren't even talking about the same news stories, if we occupy different sides of the ideological spectrum.

as a mormon living in Orange County, while simultaneously occupying the position of an academic in a relatively liberal field of study, I feel especially sensitive to these ideologically extreme communal divisions. while Mormons have always traditionally been conservative, and academics historically tend to be more liberal, it is my experience and opinion that the disconnect between the 2 is stronger than ever.

unfortunately im not blogging about this because i have a solution. i don't. But if this country is ever going to progress--in terms of social, political, and economic outcomes--we are going to need to learn to understand each other and work together. That's such an obvious prescription, blarg, but it's late and I'm tired. Try talking to a Dem/Repub today, for starters, oh and maybe don't burn anything down in protest of the results, regardless of the outcome, tomorrow? IT'S A START.

Okay, so I feel obligated to give a Presidential election prediction, given my line of work. I'm not an election forecaster and I don't have my own statistical model for calculating an outcome, but my prediction is that Romney will win the popular vote, while Obama will win the electoral college. I anticipate that of the swing states (FL, OH, VA, NC, NH and CO) Romney will get FL, NC and VA. Obama will capture the rest, and end up with 274 electoral votes to Romney's 264. Nate Silver at 538.com put FL and VA in Obamas basket, thus given Obama 316 electoral votes and Romney only 222. So he predicts a much less close of a race.

I'll definitely be tuned in tomorrow to see how things go, probably most closely to nate silvers twitter feed since he stands to gain a lot if his forecasting model is accurate.