Thursday, November 08, 2012

Camilla - NASA's Rubber Chicken Celebrity

It's rather odd and unnerving that I'm jealous of a rubber chicken. And not just any rubber chicken. This rubber chicken gets to be an astronaut and mascot for NASA while I remain earthbound.

Camilla Corona is a social media mogul as "she" provides educational and public relations for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. She tweets, blogs, and apparently fascinates the world ...

"This chicken has some weird addictive quality that goes across borders and language barriers,” Wiseman said. “I took her to Red Square one day and it was unbelievable.” He said he was constantly surrounded by people who wanted to take pictures of Camilla, most of whom had no idea what his or Camilla’s story was.

"So how did Camilla go from anonymous rubber chicken to astronaut-in-training? Romeo Durscher, senior manager at SDO and executive assistant to Camilla, says that Camilla’s social media efforts began in late 2009, before the official launch of the mission. They had decided to make Camilla their mascot, something which initially started as an inside joke among the SDO team. But they quickly realized social media was an opportunity to teach the public about the sun and solar weather and that Camilla — the hilariously adorable chicken that she was — could be a great teacher."

None can argue that Camilla is darned cute.

Puerto Rico Votes For Statehood

Puerto Rico has voted this week for statehood ... or have they?

"The two-part referendum asked whether the island wanted to change its 114-year relationship with the United States. Nearly 54 percent, or 922,374 people, sought to change it, while 46 percent, or 786,749 people, favored the status quo. Ninety-six percent of 1,643 precincts were reporting as of early Wednesday.

The second question asked voters to choose from three options, with statehood by far the favorite, garnering 61 percent. Sovereign free association, which would have allowed for more autonomy, received 33 percent, while independence got 5 percent."

Still, the PR governor who wanted statehood, Luis Fortuno, was ousted and replaced by Alejandro Garcia Padilla of the Popular Democratic Party, which wants Puerto Rico to remain a semi-autonomous U.S. commonwealth.

The issue will have to be decided by the U.S. Congress, but the outcome is fairly murky - and murkiness surrounds the vote in Puerto Rico too:

"Statehood won a victory without precedent but it's an artificial victory," said Angel Israel Rivera Ortiz, a political science professor at the University of Puerto Rico. "It reflects a divided and confused electorate that is not clear on where it's going."

Divided, confused, and lost ... sounds like it's already a U.S. state.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Very Diverse America Votes

As long predicted, the polls and Nate Silver and even me here, were spot on. President Obama was re-elected. The simple truth is that every candidate the Republicans put forth were no match for Obama. And, more important, the voters in America are far more diverse, involved and attentive than Republicans seem to understand.

"But when it comes to key demographics, the electorate actually likely skewed more Democratic/liberal than in 2008.

The electorate was less white (from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent this year), more Latino (9 percent to 10 percent), just as African-American (13 percent to 13 percent), more female (53 percent to 54 percent), more low-income (38 percent making less than $50,000 in 2008 to 41 percent Tuesday) and — perhaps most remarkably, younger (18 percent to 19 percent).

It all suggests that Obama’s laser-like focus on turning out each of his key constituencies — minorities, women and young people — paid dividends.

And in many cases, these groups backed him as much or more as in 2008. 

Women gave Obama 55 percent of the vote and low-income voters gave him 60 percent, about the same as four years ago.

Latinos gave Obama 67 percent of their vote four years ago, and 71 percent on Tuesday.

And Democrats supported Obama even more than they did four years ago, with his share of the Democratic vote rising from 89 percent to 92 percent."

The work Obama was first elected to perform - healing the massive economic collapse brought about during the 2000s - is a long, arduous task. It will take much of the next four years to correct, and if Congress continues to stall and block recovery and reform efforts, then look for Democrats to have the advantage in elections in 2014 and 2016. However, since most of the Congress elected yesterday are the same folks who blocked Obama's first efforts, it can also be said that voters don't want to give Obama a free hand to do anything he wants. Or maybe we just like the idea that a stalled Congress is one that moves very, very slowly.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Obama's 2nd Term On The Rise

Today's presidential vote might be rather close in the popular vote, but the electoral college totals are (and have been) favoring the re-election of President Obama. For much of the last year or more, the strategies of Democrats and Republicans have been tightly focused on those numbers, not the popular vote - because it is the electoral college which determines winners.

Since day one of the Obama presidency, there have been very loud voices opposing him and any agenda he put forth, and those voices have truly gotten louder in the last year. But the number of those voices? They've always been a small percentage of the public.

Those pesky percentages ...

My math is usually as weak as a newborn kitten, no matter when I employ it.

The numbers-crunching of state polls, as aggregated and measured by blogger/statistician Nate Silver, has, for quite some time, claimed that Obama will be the winner:

" ... in the United States, presidential elections are won state by state, not at the national level. And with remarkable unanimity, the leading aggregators have consistently concluded that polling in the swing states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin -- has favored Obama. And that in the vast majority of the 100,000 simulated elections Silver runs each day, the president has come out on top.

Still, each of the aggregators -- FiveThirtyEight, TPM PollTracker, HuffPost Pollster, RealClearPolitics Average, and the Princeton Election Consortium -- has its own methods, and its own results. While each of the five went into Election Day predicting a second term of the president, their numbers vary a bit."

Meanwhile, Conservative and the GOP all are claiming that polls today are all wrong in state after state, and that Romney has a secret landslide win coming. The Right Wing activist/writer Jonah Goldberg presents today the claim that statistics are utterly worthless:

"The truth is that any statistician can build a model. They do it all the time. They make assumptions about the electorate, assign weights to polls and economic indicators, etc., and then they wait for the sausage to come out. No doubt some models are better than others, and some models are simply better for a while and then regress to the mean. But ultimately, the numbers are dependent on the values you place on them. As the computer programmers like to say, garbage in, garbage out."

As I said, I haven't seen the number of voices opposing the president (or supporting Romney) grow - they have simply gotten louder. It may be a biiiiig gamble, but I think Obama wins this re-election bid. The army of Republican advisers and lobbyists say Romney has the win already in the bag.

Time will tell.