Thursday, September 29, 2016

Election 2016 VII

OK, I admit it, I got bored doing these. I started too early and the posts were too complicated. I'll be doing these less frequently until we get closer to the election. I've also switched to the 4-way RCP average including Johnson and Stein.

Here's the bottom line, the election has tightened up to be essentially a dead heat. Clinton is getting a slight bounce from her drubbing of Trump in the first debate but, at least so far, not a lot.

fivethirtyeight.com
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 60.1%, Trump - 39.9% - Trump +7.9
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 62.4%, Trump - 37.5% - Trump +6.6
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 70.0%, Trump - 30.0% - Trump +4.7

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 43.9%, Trump 41.0%, Clinton +2.9 - Clinton +0.2
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 188, Trump - 165. Undecided - 185 - Clinton -41, Trump +31

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .68, Trump .32 - Clinton -.04, Trump - +.01

A couple of interesting observations. First, the betting odds haven't changed much and one has to wonder why. Second if the 4-way numbers are even close to accurate, whoever wins this election is going to be under 50% of the vote.

George W. Bush was under 50% at 47.87% in 2000. As a matter of fact Al Gore had more popular votes with 48.38%.

In 2004 George W. Bush got 50.7% of the vote. Barack Obama got 52.9% of the vote in 2008 and 51.1% in 2012.

The lowest popular vote percentages in the post-Roosevelt era are Richard Nixon in 1972 at 43.42% and Bill Clinton in 1992 at 43.01%. The "winner" of this election could come close to those numbers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Polygamy? Well, Sort of.

The diversity in this country is unreal. This is what frightens many conservatives. This is what frightens Trump supporters. It's not the only reason Trumpettes support the Drumpf but it's one of them.

There is a court case brought by the family in the TV show "Sister Wives" that would undo a special provision of the Utah law against polygamy. Kody Brown has one legal wife but three additional "wives" which live with the couple without legal marriage status.

I'm going to skip over the irony of the law being a Utah law as well as the question of why anyone in his right mind would want four wives and get right to my understanding of the issue.

The special provision apparently prohibits co-habitation with other partners even if there is a legal marriage with just one partner. Clearly marriage to two or more partners would be bigamy which is illegal and that's not what the Browns are challenging. They're challenging the provision which prohibits additional co-habitation. Brown claims to be legally married to only one wife but "spiritually married" to the other three.

They originally won in a lower court which ruled the law violated both the right to privacy and religious freedom. An appeal court ruled that the Browns couldn't bring suit because they hadn't actually been charged with violating the law. It never ruled on the Constitutional questions.

The Utah prosecutors say they usually leave polygamists like the Browns alone but need the law in order to pursue other polygamists that engage in underage "spiritual marriage" or sexual assault.

Exactly why the laws associated with statutory rape and sexual assault aren't adequate for this purpose eludes me but I suppose proving co-habitation is easier especially if the "wives" don't want to cooperate.

The 10th Circuit refused to hear the case so the Browns are appealing it to the Supreme Court.

I suspect their chances are between slim and none given that, as the appeal court ruled, they appear to lack standing. You would need a family actually charged under the law and, given the way prosecutors claim to apply it, that might be hard to find.

The 2016 NFL Season has Begun!

Oh yeah, the insanity has started.

I watched three games yesterday or, most accurately one entire game, large parts of two others and the last two minutes or so of a fourth game. Two of the four games ended with a one point margin of victory and the third and fourth came close.

I watched most of the Jets vs. Bengals game and both teams looked pretty good to me. The Bengals managed a one point win 23-22 but both teams look like they're going to be tough.

I watched the entire Giants game and almost had a heart attack at the end. Those guys are going to kill me yet. The biggest news in that game was Dak Prescott, the rookie QB of the Cowboys from Mississippi State.

He was impressive. I'd say the Cowboys no longer need fear the retirement of Tony Romo. On the Giants side Victor Cruz looked healthy and the offensive line wasn't horrendous. We'll see how things go against a tougher defense. The game was a one point affair with the Giants squeaking it out 20-19.

After the Giants game they switched to the last few minutes of the Lions vs. Colts game. The Lions led 34-28 but Andrew Luck was doing his thing and soon the score was 35-34. It could have ended as another one pointer but the Lions drove for a field goal with 4 seconds left and the Colts ended up throwing an illegal forward pass in their own end zone on the kick-off resulting in a final score of 39-35 Lions.

I then watched a fair amount of the Sunday Night Game with the Brady-less Patriots at the Cardinals. I have to tell you that Jimmy Garoppolo looked pretty good at QB for the Pats as they beat the Cardinals 23-21 in what could have also been a one point finish but the Cardinals missed a field goal at the end of the game. Garoppolo may be ready but Brady is never going to retire. He'll still be playing at 65.

The NFL has long been after parity. They want every game to be a toss-up and as close as possible. Given two one pointers in marquee games yesterday and two others that could have been I'd say they're pretty damn close to that. There was also an overtime game in Kansas City and Oakland won with a late TD and two point conversion, again by one point, over New Orleans 35-34.

Clinton has Pneumonia

Yup, that green stuff Hillary has been coughing up is the sign of a severe respiratory infection. Her doctors have decided it's pneumonia and have put her on antibiotics.

I've never had pneumonia but I have had bronchitis and it's no laughing matter. A mate of mine did have pneumonia and it would reappear from time to time, as he described it, by making him wake up and cough his guts up in the middle of the night.

You can die from pneumonia. An ex-secretary of mine did just that and she was still fairly young at the time.

Is this a reason to vote for Trump instead? I don't think anything short of preventing an atomic war or preventing the return of the Black Death would be a reason to vote for Trump so the answer is a resounding NO!

Is this going to hurt her in the election? Probably it will, a lot.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Election 2016 VI

It's Saturday and time for an update.

fivethirtyeight.com
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 68.0%, Trump - 32.0% - Trump +0.9
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 70.0%, Trump - 29.9% - Trump +1.4
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 74.7%, Trump - 25.3% - Clinton +4.1

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 45.6%, Trump 42.9%, Clinton +2.7 - Clinton -1.2
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 229, Trump - 154. Undecided - 155 - Unchanged

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .31 - Clinton +.02, Trump - No Change

The race continues to narrow. I seriously don't get it. A while back I observed that Trump has made open bigotry acceptable. Perhaps what we're finding out is how many bigots there are in this country?

Another tidbit that's a bit worrying is I saw an analysis that says that the live poll results and internet poll results are diverging with Clinton doing better in the live polls while Trump is doing better in the anonymous internet polls.

There is a rule of thumb that says people will sometimes lie and tell a pollster what they think they should say because they don't want the pollster to think badly of them. This is sometimes called the Bradley effect. On the Internet it's anonymous so this isn't an issue.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Election 2016 V

What a difference a week makes. Things are a lot tighter. Clinton seems to be using a sort of "run out the clock" approach which just isn't working.

Trump, despite continuing to say and do things which should end his run, continues to gain. I'm sort of at a loss as to why this is happening but it is.

fivethirtyeight.com
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 68.9%, Trump - 31.1% - Trump +4.7
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 71.5%, Trump - 28.5% - Trump +10.0
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 70.6%, Trump - 29.3% - Trump +9.8

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton 46.0%, Trump 42.1%, Clinton +3.9 - Clinton -2.4
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 229, Trump - 154. Undecided - 155 - Clinton - 43. Undecided +43

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .70, Trump .31 - Clinton -.01, Trump +.03

Whatever the Clinton camp is doing, it's clearly not working. The time has come to begin to panic because Hillary is apparently blowing it big time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the Star Spangled Banner

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner at a pre-season football game the other night and, as a result, has come into a storm of criticism. He's also received support.

Kaepernick refused to stand as a protest against what he called the oppression of people of color.

Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion. That's how freedom of speech works. Others are also entitled to criticize him for that opinion. That's also how freedom of speech works. It's a two way street.

Some people are saying that Kaepernick shouldn't have protested while wearing a 49ers uniform. That it was inappropriate to protest essentially while at work. As far as I'm concerned that's an issue between Kaepernick and the 49ers.

I'm going to take a neutral stance on this one. Are there issues? Yes, there are. Are they as racially motivated as some make out? I don't think so. Certainly race plays a part but it's not the whole story.

Economics plays a large part. Poverty leads to crime and crime leads to confrontation with authority. Until we recognize all the parts of the play, things aren't going to change for the better and just might get worse.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is a "proof" of the existence of God made popular by William Lane Craig and adopted by giddy theists everywhere. It has the appearance of simplicity and, to the casual reader or listener. may even look convincing.

The reality is that the argument's "simplicity" comes from being fast and loose with the precise meanings of words and making a number of unfounded assumptions. The argument, as put forward by Craig, is actually in two parts.

Part 1 - Demonstrating that the Universe has a cause.
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
Therefore:
3. The Universe has a cause.

Part 2 - Defining that cause as God.
1. The universe has a cause;
2. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;
3. Therefore: An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.

There are so many issues with this argument that it's difficult to know where to begin. Let's look at the argument a bit closer.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. - Says who? In order to make such a statement you must have perfect knowledge of everything that has ever begun to exist or that ever will begin to exist.

While we're at it, define "begins to exist?" When does a table "begin to exist?" After the carpenter finishes building it? When the carpenter starts building it? When the wood arrives from the lumber yard? When the wood is cut at the lumber yard? When the tree from which the lumber is made is cut down or when the tree from which the lumber is made is planted?

Then you can define "cause." Are we speaking about a material cause? An efficient cause? Both? Sticking with the table analogy, the material cause would be the wood; the efficient cause would be the agent of change or the carpenter.

If you say that "cause" here only refers to a material cause then you are admitting that no efficient cause or agent of change is required. If you say "cause" refers to either an efficient cause or both then you are effectively assuming the conclusion in the first premise.

2. The universe began to exist - Again, says who? The mathematics of General Relativity that is used to wind the universe backward no longer works beyond when the universe is a Planck Time old (about 1x10-43 seconds). So no one can say anything about the universe prior to then. We don't know whether it existed or not.

The "Big Bang" simply marks the beginning of the expansion of the universe. No one knows anything about anything prior to that including whether the universe existed or not.

Given that neither premise is necessarily true, the conclusion that the universe had a cause is not necessarily true.

However even if you accept the premises and conclusion, the remainder of the argument that this "cause" should be "changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful" and be a "personal creator" doesn't follow. These are simply a pair of unjustified assertions. An unsupported leap to the desired conclusion.

Even if there was a cause for the universe, this is no reason to conclude that this "cause" was intelligent or even that it survived the creation of the universe.

So, there really is no reason to be impressed with the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I'm not sure if Craig really believes this crap or if he knows it's nonsense but hopes his audience won't recognize it as such.

Election 2016 IV

My how time flies. Time for the Saturday update already? Perhaps I should cut this down to once a week?

fivethirtyeight.com
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 73.6%, Trump - 26.4% - Trump +2.4
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 81.4%, Trump - 18.5% - Trump +3.3
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 81.5%, Trump - 18.5% - Trump +6.0

Real Clear Politics 
Popular Vote - Clinton 48.4%, Trump 42.1%, Clinton +6.3 - Clinton +0.9
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112 - No change.

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .28 - Clinton No Change, Trump No Change

The only real major shift is in the fivethirtyeight.com models and that's primarily because Arizona and Georgia appear to have shifted into the Trump column according to their models.

It's interesting how different prediction sites have slightly different takes on where some states will end up.

The latest buzzword is "Alt. Right" and the two candidates have taken to calling each other names. That doesn't strike me as terribly useful but I learned time ago that you don't get elected based upon facts. You get elected based upon how much emotion you can stir up.

Hey. I'm not immune to that either. I just get concerned that someday a candidate is going to unleash forces he can't control. Trump is coming close. He's simply too stupid to realize how idiotic some of his supporter are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Election 2016 III

Time for the Wednesday update.

fivethirtyeight.com
Polls Plus Model - Clinton - 76.2%, Trump - 23.8% - Clinton +1.0
Polls Only Model - Clinton - 84.7%, Trump - 15.2% - Trump +1.0
Now-cast Model - Clinton - 87.4%, Trump - 12.5% - Clinton +0.3

Real Clear Politics
Popular Vote - Clinton +5.4 - Trump +0.3
Electoral Vote - Clinton - 272, Trump - 154. Undecided - 112 - No change.

Predict It Betting Odds
Clinton .72, Trump .28 - Clinton +.01, Trump -.03

So things are pretty much holding steady. There's a slight tightening of the nationwide popular vote but the electoral vote counts are holding steady.