image: Real Clear Politics
"Obama dominates Romney". "Romney is leading by a slim margin in nationwide polls". We hear these and similar headlines from the mass media. But these are completely irrelevant pieces of information. The reason for which is simple. The US elections are not determined by nationwide voting but rather by electoral college, which is by its very nature is state-based. In terms of predicting the outcome of the election it is necessary to determine state based polls and weigh their results by the college's weights. And those results have to be binary, meaning either one or the other candidate has to be crowned a winner (with a few marginal exceptions). This is a reason why it is critical to follow the mood of the few swing states, which have enough electoral weight, and where the preference is not clear. In this election it is all about Ohio and Florida, for example. And the polls there are the only ones that are worth watching.
The only site that seems to be getting this is Real Clear Politics. Despite their conservative bias, they combine most statewide polls on the national maps showing various degrees of dominance of one candidate over the other. And according to their data, despite narrow nation-wide polls, Romney never overcame Obama throughout this campaign.
There are two ways to look at their data: either by assigning a degree with which each state leans one way to the other (1) or plain assigning the state to the current leader (2). As we said earlier, Romney is yet to lead. Currently, they are calling 281-257 for Obama, even though Romney is currently leading in Florida.
October 31, 2012
February 17, 2012
Traffic circles or round-abouts are fairly common all over the world except for North America. Basically, they allow two or more roads to intersect while conducting traffic in a circle. Rather than having to stop and wait for other cars to pass, in a traffic circle cars merge into a circular road that aggregates and disburses cars as their respective roads come along. As the result, cars do not have to come to a complete stop rather only to slow down to merge into the circular traffic. While traffic circles could be somewhat difficult to navigate especially for novices, they have a number of interesting benefits:
- there is no need for a traffic light, which, on its own, is a significant cost to power an maintain
- traffic does not have to come to a complete stop, thus reducing the probability of traffic jams
- since cars do not have to stop, there is little idling and hence much lower emissions
- even though traffic does not stop, it does slow down causing reduction in dangerous driving
- it is easier to manage intersections of more than two roads since there is no longer any need to determine priority, order and turns
- finally, presence of circles makes otherwise straight roads look more natural and pleasing to the eyes.
The aversion to traffic circles in North America is difficult for us to understand. Even in a such a cosmopolitan city as Toronto we were able to find only two of them - both in the posh neighborhood of Rosedale. And one of them had stop signs on all approaches thus defeating the main advantage of the circle.
November 15, 2011
This video has been sent to us by one of our readers. It deals with the exactly the kind of subjects that made us start this blog. A lot of things that we do in our daily lives, a lot of thoughts and ideas that we might be having we designed and placed upon us by someone else. It is important to recognize that and attempt to live a bit more “examined life”. The title of the video “Century of Self” does not do justice to this four-hour program. One of its subtitle “Engineered Consent” makes much more sense. So, set a side a weekend afternoon and prepare to be shocked.