Puzzle: Put the Congressional Districts Back Together

Gerrymandering is the practice of redrawing congressional districts after a decadal census to favor one political party over the other.

Cool, right?  The folks over at Slate posted this game that lets you see the gerrymandered districts as individual puzzle pieces.  Their home state is the puzzle board.  Can you put them all together again?

It’s a game increases your brain power while also crushing your sense of hope for our political process!

See on www.slate.com

The Signal and the Noise

Nate Silver chopping it up with the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

Nate explains why most predictions fail. Truth is, the world is a complex place with unknown numbers of variables at play. Folks who approach that environment with a set worldview – they already know what they are going to find – do not do so well at predictions. They avoid critical information that could influence an outcome simply because it differs from their worldview.

“We should be humble about our own ability to perceive the world”
– Nate Silver

US 2012 Election

I think Fareed Zakaria sums things up nicely for me. There are certainly other issues at play which this video does not address but this is a good start. The other issues include social issues and faith-based issues. I’ll leave those for perhaps another post.

Because I am using an embedded video from CNN, you’ll probably see a commercial that they push through before the video starts. Sorry about that. I do not explicitly endorse whatever product gets pushed, just the video on Fareed’s Take which follows that commercial.

Financial Regulation, Anyone?

I admit this stuff is way over my head. I am sure if I tried to recite the main points in this article, I would crumble into a heap of mumbling and finally just stop talking without clearly articulating anything. But this stuff is important and it effects all of us. I recommend the read, if only because it paints a picture of the financial crisis that goes beyond one political party’s faults – it provides the necessary scope for such a large and writhing issue.

Too Big To Fail and Too Risky To Exist
By William J. Quirk
The American Scholar
Autumn 2012

SOPA Protest Today – Political Protest Tomorrow?

Google’s homepage rolled out it’s SOPA/PIPA protest today with a “blackout band” across the legendary Google logo. The homepage also links to an explanation of the protest, with a form to sign a petition against them. Hundreds of other website homepages are taking part in the protest with similar “blackout” bands and links to petitions or other directions for contacting government representatives.

it is impressive to see campaigns roll out like this across the Internet. I am reminded of why the Internet still has legs at times like these. It isn’t just a “liberal media” cause or vague dissident youth movement. It is a movement of major US corporations, entrepreneurs, and business investors banding together to protest pending legislation. That is some pretty heavy stuff, considering that it wasn’t really even possible 15 or 20 years ago.

It isn’t as significant, in the short term, as the use of social media to herald and organize the “Arab Spring” protests of 2010 in the Middle East, but it shows that this type of movement is indeed still possible within the US. While this particular instance is driven by corporations and big money venture capitalist, it could be the BETA version for a citizens’ protest that arises later in this election cycle.

Come November 2012, people in the US will be disgusted by the money spent by both presidential candidates (which will probably top $2Billion total). People will be disgusted by the amount of money spent by the SuperPACS (which may not be publicly disclosed by the PACS but will be inferred from watchdog organizations – see Democracy 21 & The Campaign Legal Center). Republicans will be disgusted with the “entitlement society” that they fear Obama is building (or whatever the fear-mongering cry happens to be this fall). Democrats will be disgusted with the fear-mongering Republicans (or whatever the he-said, finger-pointing, it-ain’t-fair griping that Democrats decide to stick with this fall). I, for one, am already disgusted with the things allowed to be said during the ongoing Republican primaries. I can imagine how bad the actual campaign will get once it is full on, all stops pulled. Who knows, maybe the mounted disgust will turn into politically-motivated web protests that significantly impact our government, going beyond the typical street parties chanting “throw the bums out”.

Democracy is the voice of the people in action. The Internet is an incredibly powerful vehicle for the voice of the people to gear up, swell in volume and number, and be heard (as well as for corporate voices, federal voices, etc). I am really expecting The People and The Internet to converge this fall in a dramatic fashion that marks a new shift in US governance policies. We shall see! I doubt we will have an Arab Spring of our own in the sense that there is an overthrow, per se. However, there might be troops in the streets of DC to keep the peace – not just police, but national guard or something.

This is not a “wish”. It is a prediction. Weariness over unemployment, wars, terrorism, and endless political bickering, finger pointing and strife will merge with the fervor of the election year energy and compel some sort of internet-led citizen actions. If this does transpire, it will be interesting to see which mouthpieces latch on. Will it be a Ron Paul figure? How about an entirely politically polarizing and self-interested visage a la Sarah Palin? I dunno. I believe the people of the United States have great potential and great possibilities ahead of them and they will sieze those. I hope the government comes along for the ride. If not, the people will cast it aside.