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link dump for Sept 15-Nov 13

Cuddle party, first 4 years in review:

Head of Skate:

Falling water "printer":

Map of sexual fettishes:

NWA remix: help the police!

Onion News Network: Portrayal Of Obama As Snob Hailed As "Step Forward For Blacks":

Onion News Network: Al Qaeda says "9/11 Conspiracy Theories Ridiculous"

The Batman vs Penguin debate:

Andrew Lahde, retires after betting on a subprime collapse:

First issue of H+ Magazine released:

Pentagon Wants Packs of Robots To Detect "Non-cooperative Humans":

"We didn't start the fire" flash animation:

Sarah Palin's War on Science:

"Nicolas Sarcozy"'s prank call with Sarah Palin:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7704666.stm (cuts off before the end)

Porn star Sarah Paylin:
Nailin' Paylin:

1st Annual Seasteading Conference video (part 1 & 2):

A Taxonomy of Philosophy (the best thing to come out of Chalmers yet):

If the other party wins:

Saturn V rocket launch, slow motion:

21 Accents:

If the Matrix ran on Windows:

When Corporations Hate Markets:

Keith Olbermann on prop 8:

Redistribution of wealth: are those freeloading red states stealing the productive blue state wealth with government force?

First direct photos of exoplanets:



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
huh. then it really goes against our own good to be blue (and into taxation).
Nov. 14th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Man. You do links like nobody's business.

mood: impressed
Nov. 15th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
That falling water printer is neat - it really let's you visualize the fact that things fall quadratically rather than linearly!

The We Didn't Start the Fire video was fun for getting the words in that song. The song seems to be pretty detailed from 1948 to about 1963, and then all of a sudden it starts jumping and almost skips the entire '70s, which seems strange. Also, I found the commentary from the person who made the video quite annoying.

That 21 accents video was fun. I'm sad that she didn't pick some town in northern Queensland for her stronger Australian accent. I didn't get the New Zealand one at first, but on listening to it again, she sounds exactly like one of the grad students here (from NZ). I wasn't totally convinced by the American accents though - the Toronto one in particular sounded more like Minnesota to me. I think my favorite was the "transatlantic" accent at the end. It was nice to hear the various British accents though, which I don't often get in quick succession like that.

That stuff about "red state socialism" is stuff I used to be impressed by, but now I think it's really a distraction. If you update the states with their colors in 2008 I think the correlation becomes less clear at the bottom end. And really, the correlation is that poor states take in more federal money than they give out - which is exactly as it's supposed to be, just because poor people take in more money than they give out. Additionally, as Andrew Gelman argues, poor people in every state tend to vote Democratic, but in rich states, the rich people do too, while in poor states, the rich people vote Republican, so you get a correlation between poor states and Republican votes.
Nov. 15th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)

Also, I found the commentary from the person who made the video quite annoying.

Yeah, I really enjoy the images, but the commentary is so annoying... I almost wish somebody would strip it out and repost it, but then that wouldn't be giving enough credit to the person who actually went and found all of those images.

I thought the American accents were pretty good... although I admit to thinking midwest for the Canadian one for a moment as well. I think that might just be an issue of them being kind of similar. (And the fact that Sarah Palin has been on everyone's mind so much this past month!) Actually, the American ones are the only ones I know well enough to really be impressed by... the others sound right to me but I wondered whether someone who actually lives there would disagree.

I have a bit to say about the red state / blue state thing as I thought about that a lot this morning. But I should take a look at your link first.
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
On second listening, the LA one is pretty good, except the vowel in "five" sounds a bit off to me. The Seattle one sounds like a pretty good generic American, except for the second "t" in "twenty", which seems not to be flapped the way Americans would. The Toronto one also sounds more plausible on second listening. Unfortunately, I really can't tell the difference between southern accents very well (both sounded to me like real Southern Belles, but from different places - I thought of both as "deep South") and don't really know anyone with an actual Brooklyn accent.
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
I guess the Andrew Gelman link didn't say much. Some of the myths listed seem pretty bizarre... "rich people vote Democrat"... isn't the standard myth that rich people always vote Republican while poor people vote Democrat? It's obviously more complicated than that, but I thought that was the general belief (and generally true).

Anyway, my take on the "red state socialism" thing:

Yes, it's true that all this is showing is that blue states tend to produce more wealth than red states. Then what happens is that those producing the most wealth pay the most taxes, and those taxes get divided up much more equally among the states (instead of going proportionally to different states based on how much tax revenue was generated). So it's true because blue states produce more wealth, and because we have a somewhat egalitarian way of spending taxes.

It's not like the red states are deliberately trying to steal money from the blue states (if they were, you would think they would at least be voting for a more, not less, progressive tax system). And it's not like the blue states care much that some of their money is going to help red states who didn't contribute as much (if they did care, they would vote more regressively).

But I think it's interesting for a number of reasons, and one is to make each side stop and appreciate the other side's perspective. The Republicans complain a lot about money from wealthy people getting taken by force and given to help the poor... but naturally, they shut up when the money is going to help the states they live in and coming from people they don't like as much. On the other side, I think it gives progressive voters in blue states a taste of what it's like for your group of people to being doing all the work, and somebody else to be getting the benefits of that work. Maybe there are plenty of progressive voters who already know what that's like, and they've thought through it and are still fine with that happening... but for those who haven't, it hopefully adds to their ability to understand how Republicans feel and why they vote the way they do.
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)

On the other side, I think it gives progressive voters in blue states a taste of what it's like for your group of people to being doing all the work, and somebody else to be getting the benefits of that work.

I guess to be fair, I shouldn't say "doing all the work" because a lot of it is just about having better resources (like California's agriculture, beaches, or mountains). But the point is that it kind of turns the tables and makes people think about what it's like to be on the other side of the economic class war.
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
I didn't look at what the front page of that link really said - it's just a point that I've seen argued a bunch on Gelman's other blog (and I think it's the main thesis of the book that this blog is based on). I think his point is that one stereotype of a Democratic voter is an urban professional (or worse, a Hollywood actor), and one stereotype of a Republican voter is a rural religious conservative. Of course, there's also the countervailing ethnic minority stereotype for Democrats, and businessman or oil tycoon for Republicans, but all sorts of things, from "What's the Matter with Kansas?" to Republican complaints about "liberal elites", do try to reinforce the former set of stereotypes.

Also, we should probably both be more careful in thinking about who's progressive, regressive, or redistributionary when thinking about how tax money is spent in various states. While Democrats tend to be more in favor of spending money on social services and things like that, a huge proportion (probably more) of the federal money that is spent on states (I don't really know what sorts of spending they're counting in that chart) is on things like defense contractors, military bases, transportation infrastructure, and so on. There I think redistribution tends to be less of a partisan issue. After all, Ted Stevens was the king of getting federal money spent on Alaska infrastructure, despite being a Republican. And saying that money spent shoring up I-70 is being spent on Kansas and Missouri is a bit silly - it's really helping truckers, which means that it's benefiting the California ports, and everyone who gets stuff shipped to them on the highway, from Chicago to Atlanta.

And while you're right that progressives ought to have a better idea of what it means to take money from people who are relatively well-off (them) and give it to others, I think it makes more sense to do it with a realistic illustration, rather than one that just emphasizes political divides that aren't the relevant issue.
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
More on red states / blue states...

Another question I thought about for a while this morning, is why it is that the wealthy states tend to be blue in the first place. What is it about living in a state that has a higher GDP that makes you more likely to vote for a Democrat?

I think the answer is complicated, and in the end the whole way in which the two parties separated probably came from the geographic differences and differences in natural resources. The split between Republican and Democrat in the US is mostly a split between white collar and blue collar workers. (Yes, there is the academic contingent of the Democratic party, but if you look at the numbers I think it's a relatively tiny fraction of the party as a whole). The fact is, that in urban industrial environments, the blue collar workforce vastly outnumbers the white collar force. Whereas in suburban environments the numbers are much more similar. In truly rural environments, where you find mostly farmers... I'm not sure which way they vote. On the one hand, farmers rely on a lot of subsidies and typically have fairly low incomes... but on the other hand they seem more likely to have old school traditional values and be resistant to social change. But the population density in rural areas is so small, that it doesn't much matter (unless the entire state is all rural)... it's the suburban white middle class neighborhoods that make up most of the population in the red states I think.

So what it comes down to I think is mostly this: in states that have a lot of industry, they have a large wage labor force. That blue collar workforce, whether they're in labor unions or not, gives a lot of power to the Democratic party. In states that don't have much industry, you have a combination of traditional suburban family households, farmers, and ranchers... where the traditional suburban families outnumber the rest by a lot. Does that sound right?
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:55 am (UTC)
This is the issue that Gelman is really interested in. He shows that the poor have similar voting patterns across states (tilting a bit towards the Democrats), but that rich people in poor states tend to vote much more Republican, while rich people in rich states vote very similarly to the poor people. Another graph I remember seeing shows that among the poor, whether or not you go to church is a very poor predictor of how you'll vote, while among the rich, churchgoing status becomes a very strong predictor (I don't remember if there was a geographic variable involved as well). So it's not that being in a poor state makes you vote Republican, but rather that being a relatively well-off person in a poor state does.

The parties have been separated for so long, and have changed their relative positions on so many issues, that I don't think we'll get a lot from the historical analysis. Also, we should note that one of the big trends in electoral politics over the past decade or so is the movement of the suburbs from being vast seas of (relative) red towards blueness. But of course, suburbs are only red relative to their surroundings - New Jersey and Maryland are pretty much solid suburbs (I suppose Maryland has Baltimore) but they're just about the bluest states. Other states, like Vermont and Wyoming, are about equally rural (I think neither has a town with 100,000 people in it), but polarized in opposite directions.

And industry doesn't seem to be an especially big predictor any more. Ohio and Michigan used to have lots of industry, while now there's much more in Tennessee, Alabama, and some other southern states that aren't very union-friendly. (I believe there are more cars built in the south now than the upper midwest.)

But yes, the answer is complicated.
Nov. 15th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
New Jersey is mostly suburbs? I was born in New Jersey, and admittedly I never got around much and moved by the time I was 7, but in my mind what I associate most with New Jersey is lots of factories, trains, and smokestacks. Here's a picture of Newark from Wikipedia that fits with what I remember:

(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newark,_New_Jersey)

We lived in the suburbs, but even there, it seemed like there were a lot more factory smokestacks just driving around town than any other place I've lived. I don't even know what they make there, but from my recollections there must be a whole lot of blue collar workers in New Jersey.

As for Maryland, does that count Washington D.C. or is that considered a separate state in the blue state / red state map?

I guess another thing that would surely affect it is the number of universities. Cities like Boston that are filled with them I'd be willing to believe are influenced by that in a noticeable way. But maybe still not as important as the blue/white split.

Edited at 2008-11-15 02:58 am (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
I guess my thought was probably largely influenced by the fact that I lived in Princeton from age 5 to 18. We only ever passed through Newark on the way to NYC. But I was also judging based on the fact that the largest town in NJ (Newark) has population only about 200,000 or so.

DC is separate from Maryland, so Maryland has lots of DC and Baltimore (and perhaps Philadelphia?) suburbs.

Anyway, I guess I'd need more, and more relevant, data.
Nov. 15th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
I was curious so I looked around a bit. I think it just depends on where in New Jersey you're talking about.

"Today, New Jersey, an area of wide industrial diversification, is known as the Crossroads of the East. Products from over 15,000 factories can be delivered overnight to almost 60 million people, representing 12 states and the District of Columbia. The greatest single industry is chemicals; New Jersey is one of the foremost research centers in the world. Many large oil refineries are located in northern New Jersey. Other important manufactured items are pharmaceuticals, instruments, machinery, electrical goods, and apparel."
"Productive farmland covers nearly one million acres, about 20% of New Jersey's land area. The state ranks high in the production of almost all garden vegetables, as well as cranberries, blueberries, and peaches. Poultry, dairy products, and seafood are also top commodities."
(above from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108246.html)

"The state's Democratic strongholds include Mercer County around Trenton and Princeton; Essex County and Hudson County, the state's two most urban counties, around the state's two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City; Camden County and most of the other urban communities just outside of Philadelphia and New York; and more suburban northern counties in New York's orbit, such as Union County and Middlesex County.
The more suburban northwestern and southeastern counties of the state are reliably Republican: Republicans have backing along the coast in Ocean County and in the mountainous northwestern part of the state, especially Sussex County, Morris County, and Warren County. Somerset County and Hunterdon County, other suburban counties in the region, are also Republican in local elections but can be competitive in national races. In the 2004 General Election, President George W. Bush received about 52% in Somerset and 60% in Hunterdon, while up in rural Republican Sussex County, Bush won with 64% of the vote."
(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey)
Nov. 15th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
I guess I knew in the abstract that NJ was big in refineries (hence, very cheap gas) and chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Maybe Matt's roommate (who will probably go work for some petrochemical or other chemical company) will end up in NJ. And I knew that the "Garden State" name wasn't entirely in vain, but I didn't realize quite how big that was.

I actually lived within about a block of the meeting point of Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties.
Nov. 15th, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)
Actually, come to think of it... the oil business is indirectly why I was born in New Jersey.

There's an interesting history behind Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller's creation, which paralleled the "Ma Bell" breakup of the phone companies. But New Jersey Standard Oil was always sort of the "master" Standard Oil company:

"By 1890, Standard Oil controlled 88% of the refined oil flows in the United States. The state of Ohio successfully sued Standard, compelling the dissolution of the trust in 1892. But Standard only separated off Standard Oil of Ohio and kept control of it. Eventually, the state of New Jersey changed its incorporation laws to allow a company to hold shares in other companies in any state. So, in 1899, the Standard Oil Trust, based at 26 Broadway in New York, was legally reborn as a holding company, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (SOCNJ), which held stock in 41 other companies, which controlled other companies, which in turn controlled yet other companies. This conglomerate was seen by the public as all-pervasive, controlled by a select group of directors, and completely unaccountable."


Standard Oil of New Jersey was renamed Esso and then Exxon, while Standard Oil of Ohio became BP, Standard Oil of Indiana became Amoco, and Standard Oil of California became Chevron. Then, apparently just like the phone companies (or like the bad Terminator from T2) they started merging back together and BP and Amoco became BPAmoco, Exxon and Mobile became ExxonMobile, and Chevron and Texaco became ChevronTexaco... the three of which divide the country roughly into thirds like the map shows in the link above.

Wikipedia says that ExxonMobil is currently the largest of 6 "supermajors" (giant global energy companies):

Where do I come into this? Well, my grandfather was a computer programmer (using punchcards and "computers" that filled rooms the size of gymnasium) for Esso (not renamed Exxon until 1973) in Venezuela. My father was a teenager during that period, and went to high school in Venezuela. (Before that, I think they lived in New York, although my grandfather was born in Canada so I'm not sure for how long he was in New York or what he was doing while he was there.) Then I think the reason my grandfather moved to New Jersey from Venezuela was because that's where Exxon's headquarters was and they asked him to go (although I'm not clear on the details). So my father went to college at Rutgers and met my Mom and I was born, 3 years after Esso changed to Exxon. I'm not sure if I have all of this right, but it was interesting trying to put the pieces together in my head and reading about the Standard Oil history.
Nov. 15th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC)
My parents were part of the other big breakup of New Jersey companies! In Canada they had worked for Alberta Government Telephones (writing computer programs for billing software, I think, because I believe that's most of what they've done), and when they moved to NJ I think one of them worked at AT&T and the other at BellCore. But one of those companies got split up again, and my mother went to Lucent. I think they moved companies a few times too, but my mother now works at Telcordia (which I believe is what BellCore eventually became) and my father at Verizon Wireless (which of course used to be part of Verizon, which used to be Bell Atlantic, which is what New Jersey Bell became after merging with some of the other bell companies).
Nov. 20th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
The two breakups definitely seem to have paralleled each other in a number of ways. I vaguely remember someone in my family (possibly even the same grandfather) having worked at Bell Labs briefly. All of this is going to remind me to ask him to tell more stories next time I see him.
Nov. 15th, 2008 04:40 am (UTC)
Also, Wikipedia mentions that New Jersey was a swing state up until the 70's or so. But it also mentions that New Jersey citizens have some of the most liberal social attitudes in the country. That's kind of surprising to me.
Nov. 15th, 2008 06:36 am (UTC)
I really don't have a good sense of what it meant to be a swing state before about 1992 (after all, before that, California and Vermont were reliable Republican strongholds, which sort of boggles my mind). And actually, occasional polls have suggested New Jersey might be a swing state even in 2004 and 2008, but perhaps it's just a hard state to poll for some reason. (It's certainly a hard state to campaign in, since you have to buy TV time in both New York and Philadelphia.)

The only states I would imagine having more liberal social attitudes are Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts. I would imagine it's comparable to California, New York, Washington, Maryland, and maybe Oregon, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota - it's important to remember that each of those states has large Republican-leaning rural regions in addition to the more prominent Democratic-leaning urban areas.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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