46 stories
1 follower

Arizona man suspected of destroying home with makeshift spider-killing flamethrower

1 Comment

An Arizona man channeled his inner Ellen Ripley after he was suspected of using a propane torch to burn alien creatures known as spiders from his mobile home Sunday night.

Fire officials suspect the man used the torch to kill spiders and burn their webs underneath his Tucson home, according to KVOA.

The brave attempt was a rare challenge against our arachnid overlords, but left 22 firefighters battling an eleven-minute blaze that destroyed the home and left two residents in the care of the Red Cross.

Image: pxhere

Read the whole story
2430 days ago
Assuming everyone is ok this man is my hero.
Berkeley, California
Share this story

Election Night 2016: an hour-by-hour returns-watching guide

1 Comment

General stuff to know going in

While there are important races up and down the ballot — not to mention referenda in many states — the two big national questions that will be decided tomorrow are

  • Who’s going to be president?
  • Which party is going to control the Senate?

If a huge Democratic wave develops, Democrats could theoretically also take the House, but nobody really expects that. (Afterwards, it will be interesting to add up vote totals and see which party’s candidates got more votes. In 2012, Democratic House candidates got more votes, but Republicans maintained their majority through gerrymandering.)

The presidential race is leaning to Clinton, though she is not in as good a position as Obama was in 2008 or 2012, and a Trump upset still can’t be ruled out. The Senate looks like a true toss-up; we’ll just have to wait and see — probably until Nevada’s race gets called sometime after midnight (on the east coast).

Senate. If Clinton wins, the Democrats need to net four seats to gain control. (VP Tim Kaine’s vote would break a 50-50 tie.) Two pick-ups are considered very likely: Tammy Duckworth winning in Illinois and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. The third seat is probably Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, who is favored. The fourth would be Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, which is a coin flip. If all that happened, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto would still have to hang on to the seat Harry Reid is retiring from in Nevada. Masto is favored there, but just barely. It’s not impossible that Democrats could also pick up seats in Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina, but all those candidates are underdogs. Stranger things have happened than Marco Rubio losing his seat in Florida, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Presidency. Here are two graphics you’ll want to refer to as returns come in and states get called. The first is the minimal Clinton win map from the NYT’s Upshot column.


Any result that deviates from that map — except for 1 electoral vote in Maine, which we’ll talk about later — is a clear signal that the election is not going to go down to the wire. If Trump wins Pennsylvania, say, or Clinton wins Florida, it might be over early.

The other important graphic (which I think is brilliant in a pure visual-presentation-of-information sense) is the snake from Nate Silver’s 538 site:


The two sites disagree on whether Nevada or New Hampshire is the last state Clinton needs to win. I favor the Upshot in this case, because Nate’s model only counts polls, while the Upshot is also factoring in the huge Hispanic early-voting turnout in Nevada, so a Clinton win in Nevada seems more likely, all things considered. 538’s Harry Enten seems to agreewith this analysis. (Nate Silver has a whole other argument going about the overall probability of a Clinton win, which he places lower than just about anybody but rabid Trump supporters. I’ll explain that disagreement in the weekly summary.)

What happens when on Tuesday night

Before 6 p.m. you’ll see some novelty returns from small precincts (like Dixville Notch in New Hampshire), and it’s possible that some exit polls will leak out. (Don’t trust them. The early exit polls in 2004 had Kerry winning.) But nothing genuinely newsworthy will happen before the first official poll-closing times at 6.

In general, the networks will not declare a winner in a state until all the polls in that state are closed, and will declare a winner right away only if the exit polls are stunningly one-sided. The closer a state appears to be, the more votes the statisticians will need to see counted before they’re sure which way it’s going.

Almost all the states will be called within two or three hours of their polls closing, and probably all of them within five or six hours. But really, really close races, the kind that need recounts, may not be decided for days or even weeks. (Remember Florida in 2000.)

So here’s how I expect the returns to come in.

6:00 p.m. EST: parts of Indiana and Kentucky. You’ll see some raw vote totals start coming in (and probably favoring Trump), but no projections will be made about electoral votes. Clinton 0, Trump: 0

7 p.m.: the rest of Indiana and Kentucky, Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, parts of New Hampshire and Florida. Almost immediately, Indiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina should be called for Trump and Vermont for Clinton. Georgia should eventually go for Trump and Virginia for Clinton, but are likely to be more competitive. So that’s the first sign of how the presidential race is going: How close are the early returns in Virginia and Georgia?

Florida and New Hampshire are the really important important states here, but again, they’re not going to be called until all the polls have closed. (Florida looks like a 7 o’clock state at first glance, but check out that part of the panhandle under Alabama.)

Indiana is the first of the competitive Senate races: Evan Bayh (D) against Todd Young (R). I’d expect the decision to take a while in all the toss-up races; but if it’s called right away in either direction, that could be a signal of how the night is going. Trump 28, Clinton 3.

7:30 p.m.: Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina. West Virginia should go immediately to Trump. Ohio and North Carolina should both be close and take longer to be decided. Trump needs to win both of them to have any chance. If either goes early to Clinton, we’re looking at a romp, but I wouldn’t expect that. If either goes early to Trump, it’s probably going to be a long night.

North Carolina is another close Senate race, with Richard Burr (R) favored over Deborah Ross (D), but not by much. Trump 33, Clinton 3.

8 p.m.: the rest of Florida and New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, most of Texas, and parts of the Dakotas.

A bunch of this list should go right away, or before long: Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., and Illinois for Clinton; Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma for Trump.

Texas looks like an 8 o’clock state on the map, but there’s a tiny fragment under New Mexico that stays open until 9.

I’ll also guess that Georgia (Trump) and Virginia (Clinton) come in as expected.

Florida and New Hampshire should take a while. Trump absolutely has to have Florida, so if it goes to Clinton, whenever it goes, we have a winner. New Hampshire isn’t is part of Clinton’s minimum-victory map, but if she wins it she won’t need Nevada later on. so if it goes to Trump, she’ll have to make it up somewhere else, like Nevada or North Carolina.

Pennsylvania and Michigan are traditionally Democratic states where Trump thinks he has a chance, but the polls disagree. Missouri will eventually go to Trump, but maybe not right away. As with Virginia, how long they take to come in is a sign of how the night is going. If Trump wins either Pennsylvania or Michigan, he probably wins the election unless Clinton takes Florida. (That’s an unlikely combination, because it requires last-minute voters to break in opposite directions in different states.)

Maine is the first of two special cases, Nebraska being the other. Both award two electoral votes for winning the state, and one for each congressional district. Maine as a whole is going to Clinton and Nebraska to Trump, but Maine’s 2nd district is in the likely-Trump category. (That 1 electoral vote might matter.) So in the total so far, I’m awarding 3 of Maine’s electoral votes to Clinton but hanging back on the last one.

New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Missouri are the Senate races to watch. There’s an outside chance that Marco Rubio loses in Florida, but only if it’s a big night for Democrats across the board. Conversely, the Democrats have to have the Illinois Senate seat (Duckworth) to have any chance of taking back the Senate. Probably she wins almost immediately.

Clinton 91, Trump 88. Still waiting: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Missouri, and that 1 vote in Maine.

8:30. Arkansas to Trump. Trump 94, Clinton 91.

9 p.m. the rest of Texas and the Dakotas, New York, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona.

Texas is supposed to be closer than usual, but it’s probably not that close. I’ll concede it to Trump right away (especially since the bulk of the state has been counting votes already since 8). Trump also gets the Dakotas, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

Clinton gets New York. She’ll get Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Mexico eventually, but it might take a while. Trump will get Arizona and that last vote in Nebraska eventually, but not yet. Colorado is one of the states that the election hinges on; Clinton has to have it. If Trump takes Colorado,there are still ways that he can lose, but he would have the inside track.

By now, I’m guessing that Pennsylvania and Michigan will have come in for Clinton and Missouri and that last Maine vote for Trump.

Democrats have to have the Wisconsin Senate seat (Feingold) and the Republicans have to have Arizona (McCain). If either goes the other way, so will the Senate. By now the Pennsylvania or New Hampshire Senate races might have been called either way.

Trump 164, Clinton 156. Still waiting: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona.

10 p.m. Iowa, Montana, Utah, Nevada, part of Idaho and Oregon. Montana goes to Trump immediately. Usually Utah would also, but the McMullin third-party effort makes this year interesting.

Of the waiting states, Arizona and that last Nebraska vote goes to Trump; Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico to Clinton.

Probably the others are called about now too, but it’s hard to say how they’ll go. Probably Ohio goes for Trump (if Clinton gets it, the election is essentially decided). The others I’m going to start calling unpredictable.

Trump 197, Clinton 190.

unpredictable: Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina

still waiting: Iowa, Utah, Nevada.

11 p.m. California, Washington, Hawaii, the rest of Oregon and Idaho. California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii go for Clinton almost immediately. Idaho goes to Trump.

Iowa and Utah probably come in for Trump by now. Iowa is usually close and has only gone for Republicans once (Bush in 2004) since Reagan took it in 1984. But it has an extra-large segment of whites without college degrees, a.k.a. the Trump base.

Clinton 268, Trump 213.

unpredictable: Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina.

So if any of the unpredictable states have come in for Clinton, she wins at 11. If they’ve all gone for Trump, it’s 268-261 and we’re all still biting our nails.

Midnight. No new states, but this is probably when Nevada comes in for Clinton, who wins with 274 electoral votes, even if she’s lost the unpredictable states. By now I’ll bet we still don’t know who won the Senate. There’s bound to be one Senate race that keeps everybody up until 3 a.m., though I can’t predict which one it is.

1 a.m. p.m. Alaska. Trump’s victory path includes winning Nevada, which I don’t think he will. But if he has won Nevada, Florida, New Hampshire and North Carolina, then Alaska puts him over the top with exactly 270. (Unless, by some miracle, McMullin has won Utah. Then it’s 268-264-6, and the election is headed to the House.)

Read the whole story
2776 days ago
This looks useful!
Berkeley, California
Share this story

This Isn't Normal #1

1 Comment

I flagged this yesterday but here Deadspin or whoever put together this video has put the two segments together.

Read More →
Read the whole story
2777 days ago
this election in 51 seconds
Berkeley, California
Share this story



Read the whole story
2848 days ago
2849 days ago
So good
Berkeley, California
2848 days ago
Share this story

Hillary Clinton will be the first woman presidential nominee — that's a big deal beyond symbolism

1 Comment

With a convincing win in the New Jersey primary, Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic Party nomination and become the first woman nominated by a major party for the presidency. This is, obviously, a major historical moment, moment but her campaign has generally struggled to articulate exactly why it matters beyond symbolism.

But there is clear and convincing evidence that it does matter. Enormously. In the aggregate, women do govern differently than men, even when you control for partisan affiliation and the ideological composition of the election. But there aren't many women in the governing class. More than 80 percent of the members of the US House of Representatives are men, as are just over 75 percent of state legislators and 88 percent of governors.

Electing Clinton would be a break from that pattern, but it would also drive further breaks. Studies show that when women achieve high office, female advancement in politics "trickles down," with a woman governor or senator inspiring a downstream boost in women state legislators. These victories would themselves carry important symbolic value, but beyond that they would generate concrete changes in the governance of the country — including more attention to issues related to child care, family life, women's health, and the needs of the neediest.

Women in office inspire other women to run

We can't directly study the impact of putting a woman in the White House, but Amelia Showalter, a political consultant specializing in data and analytics, has studied the impact of electing women to statewide offices. Her research project initially focused on the impact of state-level efforts to recruit women to run for office — things like a state version of Emily's List — and she found that the presence of a recruiting campaign could increase the share of women in the state legislature by about a percentage point.

That's not nothing. But she found that electing a woman to statewide office could have double or more the impact of a recruiting campaign.

 Amelia Showalter

We don't know exactly why this is, but Showalter suggests that "women in powerful positions aren't just serving as role models to little girls — they’re normalizing politics for adult women who may need a little nudge."

Jennifer L. Lawless and Danny Hayes, authors of Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era, help us understand the precise causal mechanism. There are lots of reasons women may be disinclined to run for office — including the broad suite of structural barriers related to gender norms and family life that tend to limit women's access to all manner of high-powered jobs — but one reason is the perception that a woman candidate is likely to be unfairly disadvantaged.

The election of a high-profile woman gives other women residing in the state confidence that a woman can win, making them more likely to run and making more women likely to win.

The "Clinton effect" would likely be large

Electing a woman governor has a bigger impact than electing a woman attorney general. That is no surprise — the governor is a higher-profile, more important role. But even so, governors are relatively obscure. A 2007 Pew survey showed that just 66 percent of the public could correctly name their state's governor.

The president, by contrast, enjoys near-universal name recognition. Indeed, even back in 2007 Clinton was correctly identified by 93 percent of respondents. Consequently, you would expect an impact that's quite a bit larger than the gubernatorial one.

But the impact would also exert itself across a much larger scale, since the president covers the entire country and not just one state. It would also have knock-on effects, since if a Clinton presidency inspired one additional woman senator she, in turn, would inspire more down-ballot runs.

Clinton's campaign itself includes many women in important roles, many of whom, on a personal level, seem to feel this demonstration effect is important, though they've hesitated to make it an explicit element of campaign messaging.

But beyond the campaign, Clinton's inner circle of close advisers advisors includes many more women than we've seen for any past president. There has never been a woman Treasury secretary or chief of staff or secretary of defense, and Clinton is very likely to tap a woman for at least one and possibly all three of those jobs — offering a wider range of role models of political success.

More women in office would make a difference on policy

Even all this would be of pretty narrow concern except for the fact that it turns out that gender is a significant driver of legislators' behavior.

John Sides summarized some of the research last March:

For one, women are more likely than men to advocate for issues often associated with women’s interests — child care, women’s health, abortion, pay equity and the like. There are many studies, but see Michele Swers’s two books to start with. This shows up, for example, in in floor speeches and legislative debates, where women are more likely to discuss issues in terms of women’s interests. (Women are also more likely than men to give floor speeches, period.) [...]

Other research suggests that women may be more effective legislators than men. Craig Volden, Alan Wiseman and Dana Wittmer find that, within the minority party, women are able to get their sponsored bills further through the legislative process. Sarah Anzia and Christopher Berry have shown that women sponsor and co-sponsor more bills than men do, and deliver about 9 percent more funding to their districts.

What's even more striking is that these differences seem to grow with scale rather than shrink.

Tali Mendelberg, Christopher Karpowitz, and Nicholas Goedert show that "when women are many, they are more likely to voice women’s distinctive concerns about children, family, the poor and the needy." What's more, when women are more numerous and therefore more vocal on these topics, men become more vocal too, and "these effects are associated with more generosity to the poor."

Personal identity matters in politics

The idea that women would govern in a distinctive way may seem far-fetched to some, but there's actually extensive evidence that personal identity matters to the behavior of professional politicians.

Nicholas Carnes's research on occupational background and policymaking finds that lawmakers with a working-class background — a group that is even more underrepresented in politics than women — amass a voting record that is more supportive of labor market regulation and less pro-business than lawmakers with a white-collar background, even when controlling for party identity and constituency.

In other words, it's not just that working-class legislators are more likely to have left-wing views and decide to be Democrats and represent liberal districts. Working-class legislators vote in a more left-wing manner on economic issues than other legislators from the same party who represent similar districts.

Barry Burden's book Personal Roots of Representation finds that legislators' life experiences impact political behavior on everything from tobacco regulation to school vouchers.

Rob Portman was the first Republican senator to come out in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, and it's no surprise that he has a gay son.* Sarah Palin is an avowed proponent of small government and spending cuts but makes an exception for programs designed to help special needs children and their families — families like hers.

Viewed in this context, the idea that legislatures full of women would govern differently than the current ones looks more like common sense. Politicians face significant constraints determined by party politics and electoral incentives. They also subscribe to broad ideological worldviews that prescribe stances on many issues. But within those constraints there is substantial wiggle room, specifically when it comes to the question of what to emphasize or try to place on the agenda.

Women lead different lives than men, and would consequently govern differently if more of them were in office. And the evidence strongly suggests that electing women to high-profile jobs inspires more women to run for and win lower-profile jobs. The presidency is by far the highest-profile job in American politics, meaning a Clinton presidency would likely have a meaningful downstream impact on women's representation for years to come — with far-reaching ramifications for public policy at both the state and national level.

Clinton's campaign is focused at the moment on making the case against Donald Trump, which is obviously an important aspect of their strategy. But at the end of the day, to turn out voters you need to make them feel excited about the idea of being part of something larger and interesting. For Clinton, the woman angle is by far the most promising route to accomplishing that.

And it's not something they should feel sheepish about saying or that others should dismiss as symbolism. The life experience and personal identity of the governing class matters enormously, and a Clinton presidency would shift the composition of the American government in a profound and unprecedented way.

*Correction: * Correction: An earlier version of this article described Portman as "one of the first" Republican senators to favor marriage equality, which is technically true, true but he was the very first to do so and should be described as such.

Read the whole story
2928 days ago
Some interesting stuff in here.
Berkeley, California
Share this story

New map blog from National Geographic

3 Comments and 10 Shares

1498 America Map

Betsy Mason and Greg Miller are writing a new blog for National Geographic about maps called All Over the Map. Here's a mission statement.

There is something magical about maps. They transport you to a place you've never seen, from the ocean depths to the surface of another planet. Or a world that exists only in the imagination of a novelist.

Maps are time machines, too. They can take you into the past to see the world as people saw it centuries ago. Or they can show you a place you know intimately as it existed before you came along, or as it might look in the future. Always, they reveal something about the mind of the mapmaker. Every map has a story to tell.

You can also follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram. They recently shared this comparative rivers and mountains chart on Instagram; it's one of my all-time favorite charts.

Rivers And Mountains Map

Tags: Betsy Mason   Greg Miller   infoviz   maps   weblogs
Read the whole story
2954 days ago
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/blog/all-over-the-map/feed/ for the feed!
Berkeley, California
2953 days ago
2954 days ago
Share this story
1 public comment
2952 days ago
Map blog!
2952 days ago
Next Page of Stories