This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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February 2008
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Cowboy Obama

Obama just took the lead in the Texas polls. He still has a little way to go in Ohio.

Raining Sun

Just looked at my dashboard and saw this in the weather forecast. On Sunday (the day that just ended) the sun is raining. What the hell does that even mean?

I note however, there is a lot of sun in this forecast, and the highs are in the 50’s. I think Spring may have arrived in the Pacific Northwest. All weekend the kids were out on the street riding their bicycles and such. And it was quite nice out when I walked Roscoe. There may yet be a relapse to winter, but for now… it is very nice!

Curmudgeon’s Corner: When the Cat is Away

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Goodbye Fidel
  • Ralph Nader
  • Democratic Race
  • Electoral Vote Predictions
  • Home Alone
  • Rope Burn
  • Rubber Factory
  • Online Election News Sources

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As of this podcast, I’m adding the directly embedded podcast to the announcements of each week’s podcast. If you don’t feel like subscribing in iTunes, you can just hit play. Quicktime required.

Caterwauling

Just as I was at the climax of the Harry Potter book last night some horrible animal screaming started happening from right outside my window. After a couple of minutes I went out onto the deck outside the bedroom to investigate with a flashlight. At first I could not see anything. The howling and crying was coming from the trees. And there was much rustling of leaves. Things were fighting. Things were not happy.

I eventually saw a raccoon. Not all the noises were raccoon though. I’m sure there were also squirrels fighting the raccoon. And there were a bunch of birds yelling too. And there may have been more than one raccoon.

This went on for more than an hour. They would not stop if I went and flashed the light at the trees. Dogs in the neighborhood started barking. The back door had been open when this started, but I made sure Roscoe was in and closed the door.

The entire time I was finishing the Potter book, the background noise was the angry screaming, howling and hissing of a variety of animals in my back yard. It was… interesting.

No signs of anything at all come daylight of course.

Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Author: J. K. Rowling
Started: 17 Feb 2008
Finished: 24 Feb 2008
759 p / 8 d
95 p/d

So, back in January I read Book 6 and commented that it was a little slow. In the comments to my post Matt offered that Book 7 “moves much faster”. And that is definitely the case. The book starts and then BOOM you get to page 55 and there is massive action and tension which barely ever lets up from there until the end of the book. It sucked me in and this book is one of the major reasons I didn’t get a lot done this last week. I had hoped to get lots of stuff done, but no, each time I had an excuse, I’d go read for a chapter or so instead. I did have the discipline to not just sit and read the whole thing without stopping, although it was tempting. Even so, I ended up averaging almost 100 pages a day, which is rare for me. Not because I can’t read 100 pages a day of course, but because normally I’m busy doing other things and only end up reading for a few minutes a day, which of course slows things down.

One of the things that made a difference here I think, and which sets this book aside from all the other Harry Potter books, is that Rowling almost as soon as the book started ditched the structure which governed all the other books. That structure basically being the structure of the Hogwarts school year. That had provided a certain amount of predictability to all the other books. This time that was out the window. Now, you still had the bit at the end where everything that had gone on is explained and comes together. But that wasn’t too bad.

There are a few bits of how it all came together than I was expecting long before it happened. (Trying to be vague so as not to spoil anyone who has not read it yet.) But there are other things that did indeed take me by surprise. And other things I expected to happen which did not.

All in all a good mix though, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

It is a shame the series is over. But things did get wrapped up nicely, so I actually hope Ms. Rowling sticks to her guns about it really being over, rather than coming back for another dip and diluting the original seven books.

Having said that, bring on the rest of the movies! This last one will be a doosey if they do it right!

Abulsme’s Electoral College Predictions

OK, so the primary season is not over yet, and even McCain doesn’t have it wrapped up officially, let alone the Democrats. But I am going to start looking at the Electoral College anyway. Since I think Obama is going to come out the winner on the Democratic side, and McCain will be the Republican nominee barring something catastrophic, I will be assuming a McCain vs Obama general election. If something happens to change this, then I will revise things.

As before, I have started a wiki page to track this. The link on the image goes to the full page, including a larger image of the graph and explanations of my methodology and a breakdown of the numbers by state. Basically I’m looking at the last five McCain vs Obama polls in each state, and then classifying them as Strong or Weak Obama or McCain states, with the lead needing to be at least 10% to be considered “Strong”.

At the moment there are actually not that many state polls of this sort. I don’t actually yet have five polls in any state. And many of those polls are more than a month old, which is forever in terms of how things are moving. And the states for which there are no polls at all still account for more than 50% of the electoral votes. Presumably as the nominations become final on both sides, this will rapidly change and we will get polls in more states. Hopefully eventually all of them.

As I start this project I have:

  • Strong McCain: Ohio (20), Alabama (9), Kentucky (8), Kansas (6), New Mexico (5)
  • Weak McCain: Pennsylvania (21), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Massachusetts (12), Minnesota (10)
  • Weak Obama: Missouri (11), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10), Oregon (7)
  • Strong Obama: California (55), New York (31), Iowa (7), Rhode Island (4)

Unless I missed some (which is possible) there have been no other states with McCain/Obama general election matchup polls (since 5 Nov 2007) yet.

So to start with we stand at 283 electoral votes with no polls, 136 electoral votes leaning Obama, 119 electoral votes leaning McCain counting both strong and weak states. With only strong states we have 97 Obama, 48 McCain. Of course, the huge number of states with no polls yet makes it very hard to tell anything from this yet. And I am refraining for putting states in one category or another based on 2004 results or any such. I’ll wait for actual polls in those states.

I will of course continue to update the 2008 Presidential Delegate Graphs when there are changes there. But I will now also be updating this general election prediction page whenever there are new polls that change the category of any state.

And of course, if either Obama or McCain ends up not being the nominee, then I’ll have to redo the whole page. But that’s OK. I can do that.

I should also note that the way I am representing the overall race in the one chart only applies if there are only two candidates with an actual shot of getting electoral votes. If some third party candidate enters and looks like they are actually strong enough to potentially get electoral votes, I will have to revisit how to represent things.

Abulsme