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Comment Re:ROFL (Score 3, Funny) 213

You sound way too rational to be an AC here at Slashdot.

Have you considered signing up for an account? Or, alternatively, commenting on sites that are much more serious than this one? Reading your post, I have the feeling your rational thoughts are going to waste here. You might actually help people think if you keep doing posting well reasoned statements here.

Comment Re:Does anybody really doubt it (Score 2) 706

Chicago isn't even close to D.C. Chicago doesn't make the top 100 list of most violent cities. D.C. is number 35.

Media accounts of violence in Chicago are reported with a kind of frenzy that is out of phase with the reality. I don't know if it is because the mayor is so despised, or because Barak Obama might be embarrassed by it. Not really sure why Chicago gets so much hate in the national media over violence, murder and shootings when the truth is there are many more violent cities across the US.

Comment Re:A vote worse than wasted--but only in America (Score 3, Insightful) 993

You mentioned low voter turn out. Low voter turn out is actually a political strategy that is followed by both parties. Neither clearly state this, but it is a very big part of how many elections across the US are run. Presidential elections actually have relatively high voter turnout, for the USA. Often over 50% of the Voting Age Population (VAP).

The reason for discouraging voters has to do with voters that are considered 'one issue voters'.

When candidates and parties decide on their 'platforms', they really do so to ensure that voters will support the party or candidates in an election. The promises and stances included in a platform are done to attract voter support (and donations). Party organizations will do analysis of the voting districts and look at the demographics of each district. They will include 'planks' in the platform that maximize the votes in each of those districts. This is where one issue voters become important.

One issue voters are often extremely motivated to vote. They will make it to the polls come hell or high water. They tend to be obsessive about their one issue, after all, to them this one issue is the sole test that is used in their decision to support a candidate. Voters who decide based on multiple issues tend to be less obsessive about a candidate or party being in complete agreement with the voter's own opinions. These non-one issue voters are more reasonable if any one candidate doesn't pas a test or two, as long as there is a large concurrence of agreement between candidate and voter, that is acceptable.

So if you are trying to get a candidate elected you need to build a coalition of voters. Do your analysis of the population of your district and identify your one issue voters, and their numbers. If about 50% of the voting age population is going to vote, you need a little more than 1/2 of that to win. That means you need 25.1% of the VAP to turn out for your candidate. If you can add a few planks to your platform that will guarantee you get some one issue voters, you have the start of a strategy. Let's say you pick a side on the second amendment, doesn't matter which, either way you will get so many percentage points from one issue voters. Just make up some numbers for fun, say 3 points. Start going down the issues:

  • Guns vs Ammo (2nd amendment)?: 3 points
  • Life vs Choice?: 3 points
  • Android vs iOS?: 2 points
  • Han vs Greedo shot first?: 4 points
  • briefs vs boxers?: 3 points

So you need 25.1 points and you are now at 15 points. Only 10.1 percentage points of reasonable and swing voters to win!

What does this have to do with low voter turnout? Because only 50% of the VAP shows up, the effect of the one issue voters in magnified. They become a much more important part of getting elected than their numbers compared to the entire population say that they should. The one issue voters show up and vote despite the blizzards, the tornadoes, and the hurricanes. If 100% of the VAP voted, those 15 percentage points from the one issue voters would not matter as much.

How do parties take advantage of this? Negative campaigning. Negative campaigning has been proven to not work. It almost never gets voters to change their minds, with the rare outlier exceptions (Willy Horton). However, negative campaigning does disgust and frustrate voters and is shown to reduce voter turnout.

So let's go back to our 50% of VAP turnout election where you have built a platform to get 15% of VAP from one issue voters and need only an additional 10.1% or more of VAP to win. What if you add a lot more negative adds and suppress voter turnout even more, say to 40% of VAP? The one issue voters still show up and give you 15 points, but now you only need 5.1 more points to win!

Low voter turnout and negative campaigning is a strategy followed by both of the major parties in the US. generally the more moderate candidate will appeal to a large voter turnout, as this will swamp the effect of the one issue voters, but the attack adds will be targeted by voting district. They will suppress votes when it is to their advantage, and will run fewer attack adds in districts where a plurality of voters is to the candidate's advantage.

Negative adds reduce the voting base and polarize the elections. And you wonder how we got where we are at?

Comment Re:Why not Python? (Score 1) 109

A little over 10 years ago I wrote an article for Lxer about the Snakes and Rubies talk given by David Heinemeier Hansson and Adrian Holovaty (co-creator of Django) at DePaul University in Chicago.

It was quite a talk. Opened up quite a few opportunities for me over the following years. I don't think people even begin to realize what a profound effect efforts like RoR and Django had on the industry. Enterprise level web development was extremely painful with frameworks existing at the time. Getting well made sites that were robust and easily maintainable was a herculean task.

Please check out the article, although many of the links no longer exist. The snakes and rubies website is no longer supported, but the talk can be seen on youtube.

Strangely, David Heinemeier Hansson is from the Netherlands and lives in Chicago, while Adrian Holovaty is from Chicago and lives in the Netherlands.


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