Friday, October 31, 2008


It used to be so simple. Until about four years ago, I lived alone in my house. For Halloween, I usually turned off my front light, went to the back of the house, and watched a movie. Trick-or-treaters knew that light-off meant nobody-home, and I usually didn't have to ignore more than one or two knocks per night.

I was quiet and lived alone, and didn't know my neighbors all that well. It was a good arrangement.

Then, about four years ago, police started loudly saying that sex offenders and other parolees were required to leave their lights off and not answer the door. To avoid any misunderstanding with my neighbors, I started leaving my light on and giving out candy. This was probably for the best, as it increased my neighborhood activity participation quotient by at least 0.4%.

This year, again, I had my light on and gave out candy until around 8:30pm. Then my girlfriend and I turned off the light, went out on the town for a bit, and came back at around 10:00. A little after 10:30, we were getting ready to go to bed, and I decided to turn my front light back on to discourage any mischief that older kids might decide to partake in.

I didn't have the light on for much more than ten minutes when another group of older kids knocked on the door. At 10:50 at night!

I didn't answer it, and turned off the light after they'd left. I'll just hope to not find any property destruction outside in the morning. Sigh...

Will Barack break 50%?

So, as I write this, we're four days out from the 2008 presidential election. As I wrote two years ago, Democratic presidential candidates never get above half of the popular vote unless there has been sufficient national trauma to drive voters to them. While the last two years have seen soaring gas prices (which have come back down quite a bit), bailouts, a continuing war in Iraq, and more, I'm not sure that any of those things constitute the kind of crisis that makes the Democrats a majority party.

In discussions with friends a few months ago, I first made a prediction that Barack Obama would win the presidential election with 44% of the popular vote. I assumed that Ron Paul or some other spoiler, combined with conservative loathing of John McCain, would cause enough of a split in the right half of the country to create such a result.

As of Halloween, no such spoiler appears likely. Ron Paul is not on the ballot in very many places, and no other candidate will get anywhere near 1% of the vote. I still predict that, barring a major surprise between today and Tuesday, Barack Obama will be elected.

However, this is still a very divided nation. I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat of 2000, where the winner of the popular vote is not the winner of the electoral vote.

Looking at the most recent polls, the ones I was able to find indicate about a 49-42 popular vote split for the two, with the remainder presumably undecided or 'other'.

That bodes well for an Obama majority. Assuming, of course, that Obama supporters are not more likely to refuse to answer pollsters or lie to them, that they come out to vote, and that the polls are otherwise accurate.

So, I don't think that 44% will happen. But 48-49% - with victory - wouldn't surprise me at all.

I'm back!

OK, after a 2+ year hiatus, after encouragement from a fan of my rants at work, I've decided to try blogging again. Let's hope I stick with it better this time.