CNN’s web site has an electoral college map widget that lets you set states red or blue. Starting with the 2004 results, I changed New Mexico, Colorado, and Iowa to the Obama column (all leaning that way based on polls), and changed New Hampshire to the McCain column (a tossup). This amazingly plausible electoral result produces a 269-269 tie.
269-269 Electoral College Tie
In the result of a tie outcome like this, the electors themselves do not necessarily adhere to their pledged candidates. However, if they do, the race is decided by the House of Representatives, but not by individual votes from each representative: each state gets one vote. California with its 53 representatives gets the same say as Wyoming with its 1. Because Republicans control the more numerous small states and Democrats the less numerous, heavily-populated, states, this would result in a McCain presidency. More recent and complete analyses here and here make it seem that a tie would more likely end with Obama (or Biden!) in the White House.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 257 user reviews.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 213 user reviews.

This is the sign posted this week in front of the College Republicans’ booth on the UCF campus:
“Love God? Love Guns? Bitter About It? Join College Republicans”

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 188 user reviews.

The Onion presciently called it back when Bush was appointed: “Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Over”. Now, their video channel has a fitting retrospective.

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 184 user reviews.

Alan Stern resigned as NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate. In his short tenure as AA Alan had embarked on an ambitious program to overhaul how SMD operates. Speaking from the perspective of a university researcher, his changes to the Research and Analysis programs were a great improvement: faster and better communication between NASA HQ and proposers, longer terms for typical awards coupled with new “on-ramps” for young researchers, new science programs to capitalize on the new exploration initiative, and new programs for small space experiments, such as sounding rocket experiments. Of course, anytime there is something “new” without an increase in the budget means there’s going to be a cut to something “old”. Alan addressed the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences meeting last October and said that in a zero-sum budget environment, his plan to get new missions and programs started was to hold the line on budget overruns on existing programs. Many high profile missions are running over their budgets. His departure suggests that he may not have had the flexibility he needed to deal with those cost overruns. Hopefully some of the changes he did manage to institute during his short tenure will persist into the new administration.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 300 user reviews.

Florida’s State Board of Education voted (4-3!) this week to include evolution (for the first time!) in the science curriculum of public schools. (Previously the concepts of evolution were taught in Florida, but the curriculum referred only to things such as “change over time”. My own recollecton of Honors Biology in a Florida High School are that our class had a debate on the topic of evolution. I was one of three or four on the side arguing in support of evolution, and the opposing group argued for Biblical creation. I do not recall any instruction on the matter in class at all.) The new standards were apparently headed for defeat until a so-called compromise was reached by inserting the words “the scientific theory of” before the word “evolution”. This concisely illustrates the anti-evolution advocates’ lack of understanding not only of evolution but also of what “scientific theory” means.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 204 user reviews.

Nearly 20% of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention will not be delegates chosen by the democratic process, rather they will be part of the classic Old Boys Network: officials and party power brokers who want to make sure the masses don’t mess things up. It’s the same ancient outdated politics that gave us the electoral college instead of a direct election for president. Now, with a close race in elected delegates between two candidates, it is quite likely that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama will have enough delegates for the nomination without the so-called “superdelegates”. That means the nominee will not be chosen by people who voted for one candidate or the other, but by nearly 800 party insiders. The DNC should do away with these superdelegates altogether, or they face a repeat of the 1968 debacle that put Richard Nixon in the White House.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 187 user reviews.

I’ve decided to support Barack Obama for President. I am convinced that he has the best chance to restore America’s standing in the world. I also think that he has the best ability to work with members of both parties in congress to help pass some desperately needed legislation at home to undo as much as possible of the damage done in the last 7 years to our constitutional rights, environment, health care, education, and the working class. While the differences between the Democratic candidates are minor in comparison to the gulf that divides them from the Republican candidates, there are significant problems I have with many of the other Democratic candidates. I cannot get over Clinton sponsoring a bill outlawing burning the flag. I also think she is very divisive, and that will hinder her ability to make needed reform. I was also put off by Edwards’ flat-out dismissal of gay marriage, even though I like him overall and he is my second choice after Obama. Richardson was even worse on the subject of homosexuality, claiming it was a choice before making the redundant statement that he is “not a scientist”.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 191 user reviews.

Our new state has confirmed its decision to hold its presidential primary election on January 29, 2008. Aside from the inevitable presidential campaign fatigue that the accelerated primary schedule is forcing on us, the primary problem with this schedule is that it violates the rules of the Democratic National Party and thus appears to prohibit Florida from having any delegates at the national convention next summer. Candidates have promised not to campaign in Florida because of the rules violation (the rule required Florida hold its primary February 5 or later, so for some reason Florida has decided one week was too much). One possible explanation for this ridiculous turn of events is that the Republican-led state legislature forced the early schedule to allow GOP candidates more face-time with Florida voters than the Dems, thus perhaps giving them an edge in the general election. However, the Dems in the state legislature have generally gone along with the plan to schedule the election early. Personally I would rather not have any primaries anywhere before March. I think we’re going to be sick of our next president from overexposure before he or she even takes office.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 231 user reviews.

I saw this several weeks ago, and the details have faded from memory, but as action hero movies go, this one is a good one and seems to be part of a new trend to make our superheroes less super, more vulnerable, and at least a tad more believable. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is the spy movie counterpart to Batman: haunted by demons of the past, not much of a talker, and unparalleled in hand-to-hand combat. In this third movie installment of the Bourne franchise, both Joan Allen as the good CIA boss and Julia Stiles as the good CIA agent are back, and that’s a welcome change from the habit that many serials get into (such as 007) where each movie requires a new leading lady. Also refreshing, neither Stiles nor Allen plays a leading lady in the Bond sense. I found this movie gripping and entertaining. Director Paul Greengrass makes liberal use of handheld cameras. In fact, Bourne is able to get a steadier look through his ridiculously high-powered spy scope than us poor schmucks get at most of the action in the movie, so much does the frame jerk around. But that’s part of what makes a fairly straightforward action flick more engaging: we are struggling to keep up with the action almost as much, it seems, as Bourne is.

I was astonished to hear some time after I had seen the movie that Bill O’Reilly had labeled this movie unpatriotic, presumably because it mentions that the U.S. Congress is supposed to have oversight of the CIA and there are some corrupt CIA agents. This movie is so far from being anti-American that it gives me a sick feeling to imagine what kind of America O’Reilly dreams of when he says that this is a movie that the “America-haters” will love.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 162 user reviews.