Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Misunderstood Constitution

A letter writer to the Star Tribune stated that media should "return to their Constitutional responsibility of unbiased rhetoric.” (2015-07-21)  That doesn’t look like anything I ever saw in the Constitution.  I wrote a counter letter that “freedom of the press” imposes no such responsibility on the media, and it was published on 2015-07-23.

I don’t understand how people can put words into the Constitution that are not even there.  And much of the Constitution is a guideline rather than absolute law.  For example, “freedom of the press” means that I could state that you embezzled your employer of $50,000.  However, if you can prove that you did not embezzle your employer, you can sue me for defamation of character.  On the other hand, if you are brought to court on a charge of embezzlement, you have no case if I state you were brought to court.

The classic case many use is shouting fire in a crowded theatre, but even here you have to be careful.  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. used it as a remark in a case of “sedition”; it is not law.  See “It’s Time to Stop Using the ‘Fire in a Crowded Theater’ Quote, Trevor Timm, The Atlantic, 2012-11-02.

Besides putting words into the Constitution that aren’t there, many of us put meaning into words that the writers of the Constitution probably didn’t intend.  The current hot phrase is “Freedom of Religion” to avoid obeying laws we don’t like.  For example, paying for employee health insurance that covers contraception.  “Freedom of Religion” has been allowed erratically to conscientious objectors.

But would “Freedom of Religion” apply to not paying taxes we don’t like?  I doubt it.  Tax “choice” would be a bureaucratic nightmare far worse than educational tax exemptions for certain political organizations.

“Freedom of Religion” is also being used as justification for not serving people one does not approve of, for example, gays.  I think the sit-ins of the sixties established that if you have a public establishment you should be open to all of the public.  The only exceptions should be excluding certain behavior: “No Shoes,  No Shirt, No Service.”

On the other hand, if you are asked to cater certain parties, you should be able to decline.  If you disapprove of mixed bathing or same-sex kissing, should you be required to provide your services?

My take is that “Freedom of Religion” is the freedom to believe whatever you want: child or adult baptism, hierarchical or elected church organization, and on and on.  However, you are not always free to act on these beliefs, say virgin sacrifice.

Interestingly, some of the same people who want their Freedom of Religion want to deny Freedom of Religion to others.  For example, mandatory public school prayer.  What form should a public prayer take to satisfy all faiths?  Ironically, those who want public prayer ignore the admonition in their holy book to not be like the hypocrites who pray in public to be seen by men.

We often treat the Constitution as almost God-given, but it was the long work of a hot summer with many, many compromises, like slaves being counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes.  Benjamin Franklin voted for the Constitution even though he didn’t approve of several parts but thought it might be the best that could be written.  Note also, that 74 delegates were named to the Constitutional Convention, 55 attended, and only 39 signed the final document.

The Constitution does give the Supreme Court the judicial power of the United States.  This power is extended to a long list of cases which just about covers all possible cases.  However, it did not gain a solid reputation until the tenure of John Marshall (1801-1835).  Many of the cases brought before his court have become landmarks that are cited again and again.

However, the Court is composed of many with a variety of political beliefs.  Some decisions are unanimous, many decisions are divided.  And divided decisions may have more than two or more reasonings.  What a Court in the Nineteenth Century decided may be overturned by a Court in the Twentieth Century.

Appointees to the Supreme Court have often surprised the Presidents who nominate or approve them.  A case of point is Justice Earl Warren who put together many liberal decisions that upset the conservatives of the day; for example, Brown vs. Board of Education, making school segregation illegal.

Interestingly, the cries of “activist court” became very shrill during Warren’s tenure and beyond.  Not surprisingly, those voices were stilled during the time that the Court put corporations before people.  And “corporation” does not even appear in Constitution.

Finally, be really wary that the Constitution will protect our rights.

When the mathematician John von Neuman, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, went for his citizenship interview, he was asked if he was glad he was in the U.S. where that couldn’t happen.  He had read the Constitution thoroughly and replied that it could.  Fortunately for von Neuman, the interviewer didn’t follow up on his answer.

It took me awhile to understand his reasoning.  Take a minute to try to answer this.

The Constitution can be amended!  What if the political will is there to make the current President the President for life?

Can’t happen?  Think again.  The Eighteenth Amendment forbade the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors.  It was very popular.  And then intoxicating liquors became even more popular.  It took fourteen years for the Amendment’s repeal.  If there was an amendment to make someone President for Life, wouldn’t an amendment to prevent further amendments follow?

Also published in the Reader Weekly, 2015-07-30 at

This version includes a few grammatical or spelling corrections.

Why do I know more than tech support?

Well, not in all cases.  Probably more often tech support knows far more than I do about a given problem.

In too many cases, I get advice that is way off-base or misleading.

We are going to “cut the cord” soon and go completely wireless.  Among other things, we have to change how we use our wireless printer.  Rather than go through our modem/router, we will have to use a cable and switch the cable between computers.

I looked and looked at the manual for where the connections were.  I found mention of using USB or Ethernet cables, but I could find no diagram showing where the connections were.

I sent email to tech support of the manufacturer and received a reply in less than 12 hours.

As usual, the flowery answer didn’t really answer the question.  On first blush!  The answer contained a diagram of the back of the printer.  The diagram labeled the connections.  Way in the middle of the side farthest from me were a USB port and a LAN port.

The USB port takes a connector different from the flat connector most of us are used to.

What’s a LAN port?  I should know the answer but don’t.  Look it up: Local Area Network!  The cable for a LAN is an Ethernet cable!  Smack me upside the head!  I knew that!  But, the directions never use the two terms together.  What are poor non-techies to do with such a gap.

Before I got the answer from tech support, I tried printing with the modem’s phone line disconnected.  It worked!  Ah ha!  The modem is the router, not the Apple Time Machine.  So, we have to keep the modem when we “cut the cord”.  However, if the modem conks out, then I know how to use the Ethernet cable.

What amazes me is that nobody would hire me in my 60s for this problem solving ability.  Now in my 70s, I too often know more than tech support!

What amazes me even more is the people who complain about government inefficiency never consider the rampant inefficiency in too many corporations.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Writing to editors, authors, and other public figures

This article was "triggered" in part because of a letter I recently received and in part by the email conversation I mentioned last week with Michael Mann, author of "The Hockey Stick".

I have an unopened letter sitting on my desk.  It has no return address and the envelope is covered with a diatribe against Obama.  I generally put these unopened into the recycle bin.  Maybe I kept it as a fodder for this column.  I assure you that I will eventually put it unopened into the recycle bin.

My brief conversation with Michael Mann began with appreciation for his book and a quote that Adam Smith warned about "the denial machine" Mann mentioned.  I was surprised that the conversation went on so long; I should consider that he has many more things to think about than the wandering thoughts of an old man in Duluth.

After I finished a series of fantasy novels, I sent the author a letter of appreciation through her website.  She emailed a nice reply, but I didn’t follow up except possibly with a thank you.  I think these were all through her website because I have no copy in my mail box.

I had read a book or two by an author of military-political affairs, and I sent him an email thanking him for them.  He replied with a thank you and a suggestion for another of his books.  Then he came to Duluth and I got to meet him briefly.  I didn’t say anything significant; I’m a writer not a speaker.

And sometimes an email to an author leads to a long-standing friendship.  Some time ago I sent an appreciative email to a regular "Local View" contributor to the Duluth News Tribune.  We have some major differences of opinion, but our common ground is a basis for lunch every month or so.

Another local writer had a website that invited conversation.  I had had many email or face to face conversations with this writer.  I was surprised when he cut me off that he had more to do than have email conversations with me.  I wonder if I had written something he found offensive or if he really was very busy.  I hope he is very busy with many lucrative projects.

Over the years I've submitted many a letter to the editor or even an opinion piece.  Some of them were published; probably many more were assigned to the circular file.  But basically your letter or article should be timely, concise, and based on "facts".  I put "facts" in quotes because “facts” are too often some group's talking points rather than some observable set of information.  The hard part is that a fact in one situation is not a fact in a similar situation.  But be forewarned, many editors rewrite letters to conform to the publication's guidelines.  In doing so, they can "flip" your meaning to just the opposite from what you intended.  It has happened to me at least twice in two different publications.  If you are lucky, the editor will send you a copy of his or her revision for your approval.

I have all but stopped writing to politicians.  Almost all of them have staff send a position paper.  Too often these position papers are barely related to the subject of the letter or website comment.

Probably with electronic communication, even their staffs are overwhelmed.  Count opinion for or against.  Find position paper that seems to address issue.  Send it out with politician's automatic signature.

I miss Rudy Boschwitz's replies.  Whether he agreed with my letter or not, he would send it back with a one-sentence germane comment and a smily face.  I wonder if I have any of these in my very disorganized files.

Two letters from famous people that I thought I had kept I have not been able to find in several years of trying.

One was to Alex Haley, author of Roots.  I was sysop of the Genealogy Roundtable on GEnie, GE's competitor to CompuServe.  I invited him to attend one of our weekly online chat sessions.  He responded with a kind letter declining the invitation.  I think his reason was that he was a typewriter guy and hadn't really moved to use of computers.

The other was to a well-known movie actor.  I was going to write that you should note my middle initial.  But it isn't in my byline.  It is "D".  If you are under sixty I'm sure you will have no clue to what D stands for.  Your clue is the movie Being There Shirley McLaine, Peter Sellers, and ...

I wrote to this actor posing this same question.  He wrote a delightful reply.  Again, I can't find it in my messed up files.

What’s the point of all this bragging of hobnobbing with famous people?  Well, my original title was How to write to editors, authors, and other public figures.  With my catalog of correspondents this article became longer and longer, and it had only a nod about how to write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece.

So, here is my brief advice on corresponding with a famous person.

If you have something important or interesting to write, don’t hesitate to do so.  Many appreciate comments from their readers, customers, or constituents.  For many famous people, you can easily find an email address or website that takes comments. You only need three guidelines: be polite, be factual, and be brief.

Also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, 2015-07-23 at

Monday, July 20, 2015

A little math test

A headline on Yahoo! Finance reads:

American families spent 16% more on college this year

Just what does it mean?

Did all the families who spent money on college last year spend 16% more this year?


Did 16% more families spend money on college this year?

The article does mention that tuition only rose about 2%, and it does mention that some families are spending more because they can afford to.

So, the short answer is that more analysis is needed and that headline writers have to be careful of their wording.  Good journalism is factual, not sensational.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

You know whodunit, but... many will he kill before he is caught or killed?

That is my take half-way through Benefit of Doubt by Neal Griffin.

My wife picked it out for me when she went to the library.  She thought it would be similar to novels by John Lescroart.  I think she was going by Joseph Wambaugh's review on the back cover:

"A complicated killer seeking revenge is hunted by a complicated lawman in this unique and suspenseful debut novel by a cop-turned-author who knows the turf."

Hank Phillippi Ryan wrote that it would keep you guessing "to the unpredictable–and completely surprising–last page."

I'm about two-thirds the way through and keep wondering why I put up with all the gratuitous, graphically-described violence.  Two corrupt police officers who break the rules to line their own pockets don't endear me to the book.  However, some good guys and gals who break the rules to promote justice keep me going and guessing.

I'm tempted to stay up until I finish it, but I have lots of things to do tomorrow.  Like on the first night I started reading Benefit of Doubt, I'll probably lie awake mulling over what I read.  I do know I won't set the alarm.

Capitalists vs. Scientists

First, just what is a capitalist.  Most are definitely not the little top-hatted guy in Monopoly or big-hair Donald Trump.  Surprisingly, if you look in the mirror you might see a capitalist.  A capitalist is a person who provides money, directly or indirectly, to the funds of a company, be it Behemoth Industries or Tiny’s Corner Store.

If you are contributing or have contributed to a company pension plan, you are a capitalist. Most pension funds invest in stocks or bonds.  If you invest in an IRA or 401K, you are likely a capitalist. We could quibble whether an investor in government bonds is a capitalist.

Government “bureaucrats” are often capitalists.  CALPERS is the pension fund for many California public employees, whether they are school teachers, snow plow operators, or motor vehicle clerks.

Union members are capitalists.  Teamsters employed by UPS can have 401K accounts managed by Fidelity Investments.

Who we think of as capitalists sometimes really aren’t capitalists in the sense of putting their own money into a company.  These “capitalists” are executive hirees who are given humongous stock benefits to run a company.  These hirees or those who inherit a company from a parent can be, but not always, focused on short-term profit without consideration to the environment, employees, or customers.

Fortunately, there are many capitalists, both stock owners and corporate hierarchy that think of the long term effects of their businesses.  Unfortunately, it is the short-term profiteers who too often have the ears of politicians to serve their short-term interests.  These are the people that Adam Smith had in mind when he wrote, “This order of men is not to be trusted…”

These short-term thinkers are the ones who do everything they can to discredit those who get in the way of their profits, be it in food, medicine, or climate.

Many CEOs don’t care about the long-term consequences of their actions.  Scientists do.

Scientists are the ones who seek out answers to life’s persistent questions: what causes this disease and how do we best cure it, what is the safety of our air and water and can we make it better, and what is happening to our climate and can we mitigate any adverse effects?

All of these scientists have had their detractors who use all the tools they can find to discredit the scientists: “junk science”, “just a theory”, “doctored data”, and lists of “scientists” who disagree with the scientists doing the actual work.  Everything except do some actual scientific work to evaluate the evidence on its merits.

Newspapers have been filled with letters denying global warming, aka “climate change”.  They almost seem orchestrated with far-fetched “proofs” that there is no climate change.  One is tempted to put these deniers on an Arctic ice floe in the winter and see how soon they call for help in the summer.

I was inspired to write this column after having had on my to-read list for a very long time Michael E. Mann’s “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines”. I finally read it. I knew that many distortions had been made about climate research, but Mann provided many of the details.

“The Hockey Stick” relates to the graphs showing global warming.  The graphs aren’t nice straight lines with a sudden rise up, but they are lots of squiggles as temperatures vary from year to year but in a band that doesn’t drift very far.  Then in the middle of the Nineteenth Century the band angles steeply up.  Mann has been attacked for manipulating data, for leading a cabal of renegade scientists, and for much more, but his results have been replicated independently by others many times over.

You probably read about the falsifying of data by climate researchers at the University of East Anglia.  But, did you read that the email was hacked and phrases cherry-picked from them? One example of the deceit of the hackers was to rewrite a sentence using “trick” as a clever way to do something to imply that the “trick” was deceit.

Time and time again, the deceit is on the part of the deniers, and very few reporters follow up with the truth.  Very few of these follow-ups make it to the front pages or opening news bites. Unfortunately, there are too many news outlets that will never admit they are wrong, especially if the truth doesn’t match the owners’ view of the world.

One weapon that deniers have is a Congress which is now heavily weighted with Senators and Representatives heavily subsidized by certain old-style energy interests.  This weapon is a double-barreled shotgun.  One barrel shoots out thousands of misleading statements about global warming.  The other barrel shoots out subpoenas to climate researchers to appear before Congress.  Often researchers have to appear because many of their funds come from Federal grants.  These subpoenas have the effect of taking the researchers from their work and providing a grandstand for the deniers in Congress.

After I finished Professor Mann’s book, I had an exchange of emails with him.  One paragraph I wrote was a parody of Galileo being put under house arrest for asserting that the Earth moved around the Sun (Eppur si muove):
“Sen. James Imhofe, Pope of the Wholly Wrong Church, condemned Michael Mann to house arrest for the heresy of questioning a static climate.  As Mann was condemned, he muttered, ‘It’s still getting warmer!’”
Mann replied that in many of the hearings he was tempted to mutter: “Eppur si riscalda”.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Audacious Amount of Audio Appreciation

I sketched out a couple of paragraphs on what I enjoy listening to now, but then memories flooded in about the wide varieties of audio experience I have had during my life.

My earliest strong memories are listening to the Saturday serials on the radio: Captain Midnight, Sky King, and Tom Mix.  My brother and I did get our decoder whatevers and write a few “secret” messages.

The Cleveland Public Schools did bus elementary students to Severance Hall for matinee concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra.  I don’t remember any particular pieces, but I do remember falling asleep.  But the fine arts were not completely lost on me.  I think it was WDOK that broadcast some classical music.  I remember trying to decide whether I liked piano pieces or violin pieces better.  I think it was piano: more notes!

Radio was not all music.  We can’t forget sports and news.  Jimmy Dudley and Jack Graney broadcast the games of the Cleveland Indians on WJW and then other stations.  I can’t remember much of news broadcasts, but I remember my mother’s aunt wanting to be sure she didn’t miss Walter Winchell: “Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America … and all the ships at sea…” She was so eager to hear every word of Winchell that she made us change the station five minutes before his program began.  One of my own favorites was “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”.

Then Rock ’n’ Roll exploded among teenagers.  I think I may have had a 45rpm of Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock”.  Elvis Presley followed with "Blue Suede Shoes" and "You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog".  The British returned with another revolution: The Beatles!  I know I have an LP of "Yellow Submarine", but my favorite song was "Strawberry Lane".

The Boy Scout troop I was in had a scoutmaster who was a master of song.  We would probably do three or four songs at every meeting: "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt", "Marching to Pretoria", and the "Worms Crawl In" among dozens of others.

I did try to join the choir in high school.  The music teacher played a note on the piano and asked me to repeat it.  End of audition!  Church choirs were far more generous.  Either it was not politic to turn volunteers down or it was just to increase the number of male voices.  Fifty years later I took voice lessons and made amazing improvement.  Thanks, Curt!

When I was in Italy, a taxi driver sold me a 45rpm with “Chi non lavora non fa l’amore” (“He who doesn’t work doesn’t make love”).  It was the lament of a striker who hadn’t worked two out of three days.  My real favorites in Italian pop were the San Remo Festivals.  Even after I moved to Sweden, I bought a few more.  One of the song titles I remember is “Baci, baci, baci” (“Kisses, kisses, kisses”)

Many people in the U.S. have talked about “dour Swedes”, but I met very few of these when I lived in Sweden.  Just listening to all the upbeat traditional dance music should dispel that notion.  One of my early linguistic mistakes was thinking that there was a popular song about crayfish (kräftor).  No, it was about no powers (krafter) could keep the singer away from his beloved.

Wherever we lived, we went to concerts and plays, either occasionally or by subscription: “Aida” at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome; operas in Swedish at Operan, symphonies, and park concerts in Stockholm; Philadelphia orchestra; Guthrie in Minneapolis; and Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra in Duluth.  This is only a partial list of what we found enticing enough to buy tickets for.  Reading the Reader Weekly listings, I bet one could find three musical events to choose from each night of the week.

Over the years we have accumulated a wide variety of music, whether on LPs or CDs.  Our stereo system seems to be failing, and so we listen to fewer LPs.  CDs we can play on our computers (for now).  The question is should we have the LPs converted, or is it cheaper to by new CDs or download the albums from iTunes.

When we drove to Madison, Chicago, or other points east, we would listen to Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).  Besides the classical music, they had a program called “To the best of our knowledge” (“TTBOOK”).  It was mostly interviews with authors whose books related to the two subjects of the week.  Since I could also get an WPR station clearly at our cabin, I would often make a point of listening to some part of the broadcast.

Then I discovered that podcasts for TTBOOK were available from iTunes.  Now I listen to one hour in my car on the way to our cabin and one hour on the way back.

I use other podcasts to try to drown out the intrusive music at the Essentia Health Center: “Godmorgon Världen” from Swedish Radio, “Science” from American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the French version of United Nations Radio.

Interestingly,  I almost always have some aural accompaniment outside the house, whether MPR or a podcast, but I almost never listen to the radio in the house.

Enjoy whatever you like, but please don't insist I listen too.  I shouldn't hear your earbuds over mine, your car radio over mine, or your concert in the park over my stereo in the parlor.

Also posted in the Reader Weekly at

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Whose Independence Is Being Taken by Who?

In 1773 some residents of Boston dumped tea from a ship into the harbor.  In a sense they were objecting to the special treatment being given to a large corporation by the British government.  Among the many grievances that the residents of the Colonies had was they had no representation in setting this corporate give-away.

Not fully understanding the situation 3,000 miles away, Parliament kept making matters worse with more restrictive laws and sending more troops to defend British (East India Company) interests.  In 1775 the Colonists fought back, often against great odds.  In 1776, the Continental Congress, a collection of insurgents, wrote their Declaration of Independence.  We celebrate the anniversary of its signing this weekend.

In addition to not providing all the promised independence to residents of the former colonies, women and slaves, the new government kept taking away the independence of the people who had lived for centuries to the west.  Some called it Manifest Destiny, that is, a God-given right to do so.

One would think this government would be satisfied when its territory went from coast to coast. In 1887 whites in Hawaii forced a constitution upon King Kalakaua.  After his death his sister Lili’uokalani became queen.  In 1893 she was overthrown and replaced by the American Committee of Safety. On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii began with Sanford B. Dole as president.  Dole, isn’t that the name of a large corporation?  Didn’t the colonists of 1773 resist the influence of a large corporation?

This kind of dominance was not invented in the 18th century.  Groups all around the world have been using arms or other means to influence other groups or take away their independence.

Egypt and Babylon fought each other to control the land between them.  Alexander pushed all the way into Afghanistan and India.  The Romans conquered people from the Middle East to Britain.  The Turks pushed into Constantinople and farther west.  The Mongols pushed as far west as the gates of Moscow and Vienna.

The Celts moved out of central Europe in every direction starting with the Iron Age.  Did the people of Ireland that they pushed out become the fairies and leprechauns?  Then the Anglo-Saxons pushed the Celts out of Britain.  Then the Scandinavians invaded Britain and Ireland and became assimilated.  This also led to the Scandinavians who ruled in France (the Normans) claiming title to the kingship of England.

In the Western hemisphere the Incas, the Mayans, and the Aztecs ruled over large areas.  In “The Last of the Mohicans”, James Fenimore Cooper had one of the characters being proud that the Lenni-Lenape fought others eastward until they reached the Atlantic.  By the way, Lenni may mean “genuine, pure, real, or original”.  Hm!  That sounds like an early version of “Manifest Destiny”.

In Central America American fruit companies began exploiting the cheap labor in banana plantations.  The first load was bought in Jamaica and sold in Boston in 1870 at a 1,000 percent profit, eleven times what the shipper paid for them!  Even then, a dozen bananas sold for the price of two apples.  American companies manipulated land-use laws in Central America, bought large tracts of land, and exploited the dispossessed local farmers. The mercenary army of the Cuyamel Fruit Company overthrew the elected president of Honduras in 1911-1912.  The U.S. didn’t intercede because the elected president was too liberal and had too many debts to Great Britain.

How many politicians in the U.S. celebrated the Fourth of July and didn’t see the “beam in their own eye” of the American corporations taking away the independence of countries rich in various resources?

This still goes on.  Overthrow the elected government of Peru because it is “socialistic” and install a general.  Overthrow the elected government of Iran because of an oil price dispute and install an unelected Shah, and then get mad when the people declare their independence from the Shah.  Send thousands and thousands of troops to Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq to support corrupt governments.  Send military trainers to get government troops to fight insurgents.  But who is training the lightly-armed insurgents?  The insurgents are far more motivated to overthrow the government than the government troops are to support the government.  And nobody knows how many government troops are insurgents biding their time.

Until the British called in the Hessians, they did have the advantage of speaking the same language as the insurgents.  How many U.S. troops speak Arabic or the many languages of Afghanistan?

How did we get to this situation where we have lost our independence to large corporations funding elections as if they were persons?

We do need corporations for many of our goods and services.  What would we do if Ford Motors stopped producing cars when Henry Ford died?  Would we continue to have new Apple products when Steve Jobs died?  One purpose of a corporation is to have an organization outlast its founders.  A second is to have a large number of owners so that more capital can be raised.  A third is to protect these owners from liability so they do not lose more money than they invested.

One could say this situation began with a court reporter’s note on an a judgment against a railroad company about taxation.  The reporter added a note that corporations were persons and protected under the 14th amendment.  The reporter was a former railroad company president.  This didn’t make that judgment law, but it did set precedent.

Fortunately, courts like precedent because it gives them more to base their opinions on.  We would be unhappy if the interpretation of law changed with each new judge.  Bad precedent can eventually be overturned, but it would probably take a generation or two of judges.

How do we get our independence back from corporate rule?  We have to vote in each and every election.  Our votes only count if we cast them.

Also published in the Reader Weekly, 2015-07-02 at

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Polls take a toll on elections

The New York Times had a summary of reader letters on polling.  See

“Margin of Error: The Perils of Polling”
“Readers discuss why polling so often fails to predict elections”


You have two ways to screw up polling:

1) Never respond to a poll.
2) Always vote.

Remember that a poll is not an election.  And there are several instances of polling being off the mark.  One was Dewey was predicted to beat Truman in 1948.  A second was the 1998 polls for Minnesota Governor ranked the candidates as Humphrey, Coleman, and Ventura.  The actual vote was just the reverse!

If your candidates are ranked low in the polls, be sure to vote.  They need every vote they can get.

If your candidates are ranked high in the polls, be sure to vote.  Polls have been wrong and the candidates might need every vote they can get.