Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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A very interesting election night, both in Wisconsin and around the country. That was generally a positive thing, except that the real-life radio program we produce was doing an election post-mortem. This required us to be at work around 5:45 this morning, and led us to think that there's something to be said for an election where the results are a foregone conclusion by early evening.

So, that said and with about 1 1/2 hours of sleep, a few notes from yesterday's elections:

First, a note to both losing and winning candidates. If you don't have something interesting to say in your concession or victory speech, just thank your supporters, congratulate your opponent, and let the band go back to playing Dixieland tunes. Here in Wisconsin, Republican Mark Green lost the race for governor, and delivered a concession speech that sounded as though it was either cribbed from the internet, or taken from "The Idiot's Guide to Running a Political Campaign". ("I especially want to thank my wife, [insert name], and my kids [if any], who have endured [length of campaign] with a father in absentia..."). Some minutes later, Democrat Jim Doyle delivered his victory speech, replete with platitudes copied from the same book ("...And so I say it is time to move [name of state, Congressional district, or village] forward, while preserving the way of life that we in [name of state, Congressional district, or village] have worked so hard to maintain...").

Despite working in radio, the 19 Minutes home office followed most of the returns via the television, which yielded its usual ADHD moments, as the commentators referred to graphics on the top of the screen, while a completely different set of graphics scrolled along the bottom. Our favorite scrolling result was a ballot issue in the town of Oconomowoc, which for at least a half hour showed the "No's" leading the "Yeses", by 1 vote to none. This with 9% of the precincts reporting. You know, if I'm an election official, and I've only seen one vote, I might wait to enter it into the computer.

We also enjoyed watching the national results scrolling along the bottom of the screen, featuring the last names of candidates in races we knew nothing about. Our favorite candidate last names: "Duck" (towards a daffier future), "Weed" (it's hard to run a law-and-order campaign when you're named Weed), "Goodlatte" (a great name for a Congressional coffee house), "Bugler" (Wake up, New York!), and of course the Republican running for New York's 16th Congressional District, who is named Ali Mohamed, but who of course is listed as "Mohamed, Ali". (The Greatest gathered around 4% of the vote.)

And this news from Iowa: We're glad we stayed awake in class - Dave Loebsack becomes our first former college professor to be elected to Congress, defeating 30-year incumbent Jim Leach. Equally as noteworthy as the result was the tone of the campaign, which (as noted by sources such as the Los Angeles Times) was probably the politest in the country. Considering the tone of the campaigns just one state over, we kind of miss Iowa. We also thought Chris Matthews's reference to Prof. Loebsack on MSNBC as "the guy in the crew neck sweater" was a little overly snarky, especially given the blazer he wears in his campaign photo.

We'd also be happy if more TV ads struck a tone like this one for South Dakota Democrat Stephanie Herseth (who, I'll grant you, had a pretty secure reelection bid). She also has the spiffiest campaign t-shirts on the hustings, narrowly beating out this one..

Regardless, it should be an interest next couple of years. I personally plan to get the next chapter of American political history underway with a nap.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Microsoft Thought Police on patrol

This has nothing to do with anything (as is the case with this whole feature, I suppose), but for various reasons, I ended up on the main MSN page this morning. I've never really spent much time there, but it didn't surprise me to note the list of the "Most Popular People Searches" (nor did it surprise me that this list included Saddam Hussein, Madonna, and Sacha Baron Cohen).

On the other hand, I was somewhat interested to peruse a list MSN provided of "Suggested Searches". Why these searches are suggested is not disclosed, nor am I informed whether these searches are somehow, through some kind of Microsoft proprietary software, directed specifically at me. But it is interesting to consider the five "Suggested Searches" on the MSN list:

  1. New Life Church
  2. Self-aware elephant
  3. Travel terrorism
  4. New Zealand icebergs
  5. Head lice

So okay, I can understand the inclusion of New Life Church on the list. They've been, somewhat comically, in the news lately. And, well, "self-aware elephant" might be an unusual way to research the GOP's introspective nature during this campaign season. And who can argue with looking up "travel terrorism"? I mean, it's always good to take precautions, even if my longest journey in the last few months has been to an apple orchard outside Racine, Wisconsin. (I mean, hey, you never know what's in that plastic bag between the Honey Crisps and the Empires.) But the last two kind of puzzle me. New Zealand icebergs? It's been almost 15 years since last I went to New Zealand, and even then, my concerns about icebergs were limited to whether they'd somehow impede my attempt to buy U2 tickets. And finally, of all the potential search terms MSN could have suggested, "head lice" seems odd. Unless my computer really knows something I don't.