Monthly Archives: November 2008

One more post saying "Hurray!"

People are posting their thanks and congratulations for Obama’s victory in last night’s election, so I’ll add my voice here before posting anything else. Obama deserves this very big win, and the liberal wave that swept across America was and relief and truly wonderful to see.

Still, one has to wonder: What were 56,142,433 Americans thinking who voted for McCain-Palin?


Plan on turning on election coverage early

I’m planning to go over to a friend’s house to watch the US election results and analysis. They need to get their kids to bed first, but I said we’d want to come over early, and here’s why: places 259 electoral votes safely in Barack Obama’s column based on a fairly conservative reading of pre-election polling. This puts Obama just 11 electoral votes short of the 270 he needs to win and a gain of any one of the Eastern and Central time zone toss-up states would be enough to remove most of the doubt about the final election victor. In poll closing order, the toss up states are: 7:00 Indiana (11), Virginia (13), 7:30 Ohio (20), 8:00 Florida (27), Missouri (11), and 8:30 North Carolina.

That is, if the rest of the country’s voting goes as expected on a conservative estimate, then Barack Obama will win the election at 7:00 when he takes Indiana or (more likely) Virginia; at 7:30 when he takes Ohio; OR at 8:00 when he wins Florida. 

Basically the only way the results will be exciting is if McCain wins Pennsylvania at 8:00, in which case Obama needs more than one of those states. And even then, Obama is likely to get more than one of them. 

How likely? Well, I like this independent academic study that has been watching polling and which allows visitors to pick different scenarios from a strong Democratic result to a strong Republican result: Even in a strong Republican scenario, these University of Illinois students say Obama has a 99% chance of winning Florida, the same odds of winning Virginia, and a 100% chance of winning Ohio — all of which translates into a 100% of winning at least one of the three. That differs from the analysis at, but not by much — Nate Silver and friends give Obama a 64% chance of winning Florida, a a 93% chance in Virginia, and an 80% chance in Ohio, which means a 99.34% chance of winning at least one of the three. 

And McCain’s chances of changing the game by winning Pennsylvania? 0% according to the University of Illinois students, and only 2% according to the more robust analysis at 

All of which is to say, tune in early, because it’s all going to be over by 8:00.

Hebrew Barack Obama pin

Browsing the Huffington Post, I usually try to avoid the celebrity news but somehow ended up looking at this article about Joaquin Phoenix, and noticed his Barack Obama pin — in Hebrew! A quick Google search found the page on Obama’s site. Oh, how I wish I could order these in Canada!

NBC streaming to Canada?

During the US election campaign, I’ve often come up against the copyright firewall, unable to watch embedded videos on blogs and other sites because they’re not licensed to stream in Canada. I’m certain this was the case with NBC’s videos until recently, and I’ve had to go to Youtube or other sites to watch Saturday Night Live videos on Sundays. But today, for I know not what reason, their videos are streaming here today straight in embedded videos. The way they’re supposed to. Is Hulu next?

Anecdotal evidence for internal clocks

I changed my alarm clock back one hour last night and made sure my alarm was set for 7:02. And then I woke up at 6:02. Anecdotal evidence that not only do I have an internal alarm clock accurate to within one minute, but it does not end daylight savings time at the same time as Canada (which is to say, at the same time as the US 😉

Bizarre legal implications of anti-abortion ballot initiatives

With the US election a few days away now, I started concentrating on some of the more controversial ballot measures. We don’t have ballot measures in Canada, so I find them bizarre to begin with from a democratic perspective, but this one in particular caught my eye as being very bizarre:

The Colorado ballot proposal attacks Roe v. Wade by a different route. Known as Amendment 48, this preposterous measure would redefine the term “person” in the state’s Constitution to include fertilized human eggs — in effect bestowing on fertilized eggs, prior to implantation in the womb and pregnancy, the same legal rights and protections that apply to people once they are born.

The amendment, which has split anti-abortion groups, carries broad implications, ranging from harmful to downright ridiculous. Potentially, it could ban widely used forms of contraception, curtail medical research involving embryos, criminalize necessary medical care and shutter fertility clinics. A damaged fertilized egg might be eligible for monetary damages.

More information about that Colorado initiative available here. NPR radio pointed out that if a fertilized egg were a “person”, pregnant women would be able to travel in highway commuter lanes. So the measure has bizarre results, and is evidently intended to provoke a constitutional challenge in the courts that could ultimately challenge Roe v. Wade. Fine — perhaps it’s not even intended to be coherent, but only to pass as a ballot measure on emotional grounds.

But imagine if it were to pass. NPR radio also pointed out in that report that
it would make it illegal to destroy unwanted frozen embryos. But query whether it would also make it illegal to freeze embryos, without a targeted exemption in the law. After all, the cryonics people have wanted to freeze people before they die in order to one day thaw them out and cure them, but have been relegated to freezing them immediately after death because California courts have said that freezing a live person would be murder. As a consequence, freezing embryos would be murder under law giving them constitutional rights.

And I’m not sure it could be easily resolved with an exemption for freezing embryos: after all, that exemption could be challenged on constitutional grounds. So if we’re willing to allow the freezing of embryos despite them having the legal status of “persons”, then do we need to accept the legality of the freezing of adults as well?

And is this the kind of issue people talked about before Edwards in 1930, the Persons Case?

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