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After finishing a canvassing shift today in Columbus, Ohio I stopped by the early voting location for the county (there's only one location, on Morse Rd., in an old department store), just to see how crazy it was.

The answer was:very crazy! It took me a half hour just to drive the last mile to the place, as Morse Rd. was at a virtual standstill. Finally I bailed and parked at a nearby business and walked the remaining distance to the polling place.

Here's a video of the line outside the building:

The parking lot was completely full and traffic was backed up on Morse Rd. as people couldn't make the left turn in. I heard that the average wait was about two hours. The voting hours today were 1pm-5pm and the rule is that if you're in line at 5pm you can vote--although I expect there were many people in the traffic jam who didn't make it to the line in time.

The anti-abortion cretins were there in force with their posters and offensive signs. I thought it was good that the Romney/Ryan presence was definitely of Teh Crazy variety, underscoring the bankruptcy of that campaign:


Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 05:10 PM PDT

GOTV down the stretch in OH

by jmknapp

OK, it's finally the start of the big four-day GOTV push in Ohio. Volunteers have signed up for one (or more) of three 3.5 hour shifts on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (9:30-1:00, 1:00-4:30, 4:30-8:00) for burning the shoe leather.

I got a call from the organizer of my ward in Columbus asking if I would be OK with being reassigned to another area "with a lot of Democrats who haven't voted yet." Sounded good to me since my own ward seems pretty saturated.

more below the jump...

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Pres. Obama had a rally in Hilliard, Ohio this morning to fire up the troops for early voting and volunteering for GOTV. I had a VIP ticket to get close (you just have to volunteer a few times to get a VIP ticket), so enjoy the photos...

The President stressed the theme of Ohio as firewall for his reelection and the importance of getting the vote out over the weekend and next week. Former governor Ted Strickland, his voice hoarse from the campaign, used a different metaphor, saying that Ohio is "the tip of the spear."

Hilliard is a suburb of Columbus, just past Interstate 270, which I regard as a good omen.

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I was at the Obama event today at Ohio State's Schottenstein Arena where he kicked off his 2012 campaign. The theme was "Forward," referring in part to Republican efforts to turn the clock back on everything from from women's reproductive rights, health care, taxes, etc. I like it--also ties in with progressive.

About 20,000 people were in the arena to cheer him on and get fired up themselves to volunteer.


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MIT and Harvard today announced a joint initiative, dubbed edX through which both universities will offer courses for free or nominal cost. Video of their press conference is at the link above.

Currently there is one prototype course in progress which started in March, offered by MITX and paralleling MIT's introductory electrical engineering course 6.002 (Circuits and Electronics). It has exactly the same content that resident MIT students receive. Over 120,000 people worldwide enrolled in the prototype course and last reports were that over 20,000 have been keeping up with the homeworks, online "labs" and midterm.

edX will offer courses under the MITX and HarvardX brands and is a non-profit organization. In the press conference the MIT provost said that while they are non-profit they don't want to become a drain on the budgets of the universities--so perhaps the implication is that ultimately there may a nominal fee for certificates, although right now for 6002x it is totally free.

edX makes the bold goal of reaching 1,000,000,000 people in its effort to educate and also to collect unprecedented data on the learning process and the role of technology to facilitate and improve it.


Tue May 01, 2012 at 08:10 PM PDT

Fired up @ the Schott

by jmknapp

Time to step up to the plate for the President--Romney will not be defeated by snark alone.

Pres. & Mrs. Obama will be at Ohio State this Saturday to officially kick off the campaign. Here's the "priority" ticket given out to volunteers who have done at least one shift:

Volunteer of course at

I volunteered at the Columbus Obama HQ at the Gateway center on High St. Volunteers working out of that that office have been working the OSU campus heavily, collecting names of people saying they will attend the rally Saturday at the Schottenstein Arena (seating 20,000) & in many cases signed up to volunteer. This flyer advertises the event:

BTW, the background poster is from a very interesting exhibit at the Columbus Art Museum titled Radical Camera:

Change the world – one photograph at a time. Guided by a belief in the transformative power of photography, the Photo League took to the streets in the 1930s and 1940s to record the effects of poverty, war, racial inequality, and social injustice. Artists in the Photo League were known for capturing sharply revealing, compelling moments from everyday life.  Their focus centered on New York City and its vibrant streets – a shoeshine boy, a brass band on a bustling corner, a crowded beach at Coney Island.  Many of the images are beautiful, yet harbor strong social commentary on issues of class, race, and opportunity.  The Radical Camera exhibition explores the fascinating blend of aesthetics and social activism at the heart of the Photo League.
If anyone is in Columbus for the Obama rally, I'd heartily recommend they take in this exhibit as well.

Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 03:45 AM PST

Zeitgeist-tracking with Google Trends

by jmknapp

Just playing around with Google Trends as a tool for tracking memes.

Some patterns are completely predictable. For example, "christmas":

The lower graph shows increasing news volume at Christmastide ever since Pres. Obama was elected, owing perhaps to Bill O'Reilly's War on War on Christmas.

Even so, heathens are still in the game as even Mithras gets a nod, more or less, at year-end:

iPods are evidently hot gifts in the holiday season:

Besides the sharp peak at year end, there's also a mini-boom in iPod interest at the beginning of the school year.

In more political matters, the term "inequality" has a curiously periodic chart:

Turns out this is correlated with the school year, with search activity falling dramatically around this time of year and during the summer. This is the pattern with many terms that might tend toward academic or scientific interest, as opposed to, say, "kardashian". Still, there is definitely a bump up recently in interest in inequality, particularly in news stories.

More charts after the jump...

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Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 06:45 AM PST

The War on Tiny Tim

by jmknapp

First, two charts, from US Census Bureau data.


The number of families in poverty has risen 40% since 2000.

Turning to the upper middle class, incomes greater than $200,000 in constant dollars:

Coincident with the reduction in the poverty rolls during Clinton's term, the percentage of families earning more than $200,000 grew sharply. That percentage has stagnated since then.

Turning finally to the billionaire "job creators," for example, this is the combined income of the Koch brothers as reported by Forbes magazine:

Any questions?


Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM PDT

BEST climate data in Google Earth

by jmknapp

A new climate study by a group at Berkeley concludes that there has been about a 1°C average global temperature rise since the 1950s. See, for instance, Climate study, funded in part by conservative group, confirms global warming

This is consistent with previous estimates of global warming. What's remarkable about this study is that it was conducted in part by "skeptics" of global warming, and that they have released all their data (gigabytes of it) for global peer review, so to speak.

The web page for the study is and the data is available for download at Almost 40,000 different temperature measuring stations are in the dataset, some with records going back to the 1700s.

Just to allow some basic visualization of the data I parsed it into a Google Earth KMZ file: BEST Temperature Data (268 kB KMZ file). Opening that in the Google Earth application results in views like this:

To keep the number of dots manageable, only the stations in operation for more than 50 years and have observed a best-fit temperature rise (or fall) of more than 0.5°C/century are plotted, yellow for a temperature rise and blue for a fall. The United States oddly has a large region where temperatures have fallen on the average over the last decades. That's unusual, as yellow placemarks (temperature rise) dominate globally.

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Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:18 AM PDT

Occupy Miami 1972

by jmknapp

Interesting to compare OWS occupations with those of the Vietnam protests. Here's the "Tactical Manual" distributed to the protesters at the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami (click on image for the pdf):

Excerpts follow below...

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Circulating petitions in Columbus, Ohio to repeal Senate Bill 5 takes me a bit off the beaten path. Here are a few photos from along the way.

Free lunch every day at 11 o'clock at the C.R.A.C.K House (Christ Resurrects After Crack Kills) on Cleveland Ave.:

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Thu May 05, 2011 at 06:31 PM PDT

OH SB5 repeal rally -- photo diary

by jmknapp

Signature gathering for the petition to repeal Ohio's anti-collective bargaining law (Senate Bill 5) is well underway. Accordingly, Stand Up for Ohio held a rally at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus this evening to mobilize volunteers and gather signatures, although for the latter I'd expect that most of the people who showed up had already signed, assuming they were registered to vote.

A friend and I set up a petition table this morning at the entrance to a local library where we got 69 signatures yesterday. Today's take was 87. We quit when another circulator showed up and we decided to give her a crack at the afternoon. Here's the table:

Oddly enough sunscreen was needed as the sun was out for the first time in what seems like weeks--it's been a gorgeous day.

Jump below the squiggle for photos of the rally.

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