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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.

David

Comment Re:How's this different from telephone deregulatio (Score 4, Informative) 137

If by "they're doing just fine", you mean that they lost so much money and were on the verge of going out of business and sold everything, even their name, then you have a point.

The former AT&T is a now a small subsidiary of the former Southern Bell Corporation (SBC). The company you now see calling itself AT&T is really SBC who gobbled up AT&T and a bunch of other baby bells.

The federal government split AT&T into long distance and several local phone companies (baby bells). The Feds first deregulated the long distance business allowing for competition which led to price drops and then to declining profits. The plan was that a few years after long distance was deregulated, the local baby bells would be deregulated and their local monopolies would be broken up and opened to competition. This second step never happened. The local providers kept their monopolies, consolidated to become a few very large local monopolies, and even bought out the failing AT&T.

AT&T is dead. SBC, thanks to its government backed monopoly on local phone service, is doing "just fine."

Comment Re:"Moon Express"? (Score 1) 55

They were going to use 'Planet Express', but the IAU and Neil DeGrasse Tyson found that their missions didn't meet the definition of planetary missions, so they had to change.

They briefly considered 'Dwarf Express', but realized that that would be terrible, so they settled on 'Moon Express'. 'Lunar Express' would have been better.

I hope they name their probes 'Zoidberg' and 'Farnsworth'.

Comment Re:User Generated Content (Score 2) 193

NetflixPalooza!

OK, -Palooza is taken, but a series of live concert events in major cities around the world with big name and up and coming bands and other sideshow entertainment. I know that there are already several large shows like this now, but Netflix can record the content for re-broadcast, develop behind the scenes shows and even do a reality TV show where contestants compete as roadies or as side show carnies and face elimination challenges each week using the usual formula of being voted off by their peers or by judges, with one or two 'saves' from the Netflix viewers.

Smaller bands might also do side deals for live concerts spin off's beyond the mega concert, available on Netflix streaming. This could boost music sales on-line for up and coming artists. More famous bands might get a documentary style spin off, interviews, behind-the-scenes, or whatever.

It generates content for future streaming, and the reality TV part could get a good run for a few years and help the content not get too stale year after year.

Netflix could partner with one of the existing mega-concert production companies. Something like this would be good for a minimum of 4 or 5 years, maybe more if it is popular.

I would also suggest a 'battle of the bands' kind of show as part of the events, where the concert goers get to decide the winners over the course of a season as part of NetflixPalooza. Start with groups of bands, like groups in the World Cup. Then advance to the semi-finals and finals for elimination. Internet voting could revive 2 or 3 bands eliminated in the group play for a round between the group play and the semi-finals. Giving the Netflix subscribers a say in the outcome is empowering and forms a connection with the show. I worry that music competition shows may be past their prime (American Idol, The Voice, etc), and not worth doing. The groups play to single elimination finals, with a chance for revival from the internet audience may make it more interesting that existing shows. Also, the live concert aspect is novel and could be worth it.

None of these ideas are truly original. Just combinations of other entertainment that works well right now. That is pretty much what the entertainment industry has always done, find what works and repeat it until it has no life left in it so it should be an easy sell to investors.

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