Showing posts from September, 2012

Politics: The challenges of polling according to Michael Barone

The polling numbers are not looking good for Mitt Romney.

However, polling is an inexact science.

Check out this interview with Michael Barone who is one of the experts in looking at polls.

The Pew Research Center reports that only 9% of the people that it calls are responding to polls. That’s way down from historic levels, and it raises the question are those people representative of the population as a whole that they’re trying to sample? You know, one thing that polls can’t tell you is the characteristics of people who won’t be polled. So that raises some serious questions. Are we getting skewed samples? We know from the exit poll phenomenon over the last many cycles that the exit poll results tend to come in more Democratic than the actual vote does, and measured at the same precincts.

Since I've been voting in Presidential elections, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2008 were the elections where there was essentially no doubt who would win. The only question was what the ma…

Non-profit of the month: September 2012 - California Science Center

When I was young, my parents would occasionally take me to the California Museum of Science and Industry. It is now known as the California Science Center. Visits to the old CMSI and Griffith Observatory were a part of kindling my fascination with science that I carry with me to this day in my life as a molecular biologist.

The big news for the CSC is the soon to arrive Space Shuttle Endeavour!

Thus, I've gone to the web page to donate to Endeavour LA and who knows how many youthful visitors will be inspired to become the scientists and engineers of tomorrow!

Politics: Electoral College Scenarios

President Obama is leading in the polls but its close.  Here is one "long night" scenario where Obama is re-elected.  One can imagine 3 or 4 states counting ballots well into the night and perhaps for several days after election day before a winner is called.  
If in the next month the economy takes an unexpected dive, Romney would win the toss ups and coast to a solid win pretty early in the night.
The see you in the House scenario.  If the electoral college fails to determine a winner, then the House of Representatives decide.

Politics: The problems of the world driven by geographic predestination?

Heard on podcast a riveting interview with Robert Kaplan author of the Revenge of Geography. The premise is that the geographical features of a nation impacts their aspirations and fears relative to its foreign policy.

For instance, Kaplan views that Russia will always be a significant world power because it is a huge country rich with natural resources. However, because it is largely land-locked and for historical reasons, it fears invasions and will always want to influence/meddle with/intervene in its neighbors in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to maintain a "buffer" for its own protection. This template,  according to Kaplan, is the driving force for much of European history: a rivalry between Russia and some other entity to the west (either France or Germany). And indeed, he points out Germany is the economic and diplomatic driver of the EU and current rival to Russia.

He views the fact that China has a large coastline as key to understanding China's ability and as…

Politics: Battle for White House 2012

The RCP Battle for White House electoral college map has President Obama at 221 and Gov. Romney at 191 with 10 states in the toss up category.
People have been wondering how come the President is still ahead despite the dreadful economy?

I think there are a number of reasons:

1. Unhappiness with a sitting President has to be very high before the voters will make a change.

I was too young to vote in 1980 but my impression was that President Carter really didn't see support evaporate until very late in the election season. In 1992, the three-way race made President Bush's re-election chances even more difficult. If it was a traditional two-man race, he would have still lost but I suspect it would have been more competitive. In 2004, many were unhappy with President Bush 43 but not enough to vote him out though the election was close.

2. There is no question that President Obama still has a lot of good will because of the historic nature of being the first President with African…

Devotional Thoughts: Temptation of Jesus - When not What?

The temptation of Jesus is described in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

The devil asked Jesus to do three things:
Tell the stone to become bread.I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you worship me.Throw yourself from the top of the temple and show a miracle to the masses when an angel rescues you. Are these evil things?

Well, certainly, bowing down and worshiping the devil is evil. But isn't the goal of recovering the world that God loves a good thing? Isn't making bread from stone good to feed a hungry person? Isn't performing miracles something Jesus would eventually do anyway?

At one level, of course, temptation is about doing bad things.

But at another level, perhaps, temptation might be about doing good things but not at the time of God's appointment?

Jesus would feed 5000 thousand by multiplying loaves and fishes not altogether different than turning stone into bread. Jesus would perform many miracles and thus make a "better show" than a pub…

Business: 12 small business stories

With the whole "you didn't build that" controversy, I was prompted to think about the businesses I have encountered in the course of my activities. So what follows are 12 brief stories of small businesses.

If you buy flowers at a local store, it is probably a small business. Be sure to check out Sada Flowers!

One of the tools of laboratory work is the pipet. Periodically, they need to be cleaned, calibrated and have parts replaced. Hats off to Pipet Repair Service, Inc. who did the most recent service call on our 30+ pipets.

I'm told there used to be more Scandinavian bakeries. Recently coming onto the scene is Copenhagen Pastry. Hope they have a good long run!

Remember the line from that 60s movie? "Plastics." Well, Kurt Landsberger lived it long before the film. Bel-Art Scienceware might not be a small business anymore (don't know how many employees they have today) but they started as one.

Flooring. If your office needs ca…