A World of Data Analytics

Slate breaks the traditional information embargo on election coverage with estimated results throughout the day.

By WhyskyJack, a Trail Mix Contributor

dataoverloadIt is why the Cubbies are no longer the lovable losers and why my Royals won last year.

It is at the heart of the Clinton campaign decision making.

And in a controversial move Slate is going to use it to give us real time estimates on who is winning throughout the day.

From Slate:

Here’s a longer description of how this whole thing works. The project can be broken down into two phases: what happens before Tuesday, and what happens on the day itself. In the lead-up to Election Day, VoteCastr conducted large-sample surveys in eight battleground states. Unlike a typical media poll that might ask hundreds of respondents dozens of questions, these surveys presented thousands of people with just a handful of queries each. The results were then run through predictive models to determine the probabilities of each voter in each of the eight states casting a ballot for Clinton, Trump, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein. (VoteCastr did not include Evan McMullin in its models. The independent candidate is only on the ballot in two states we are tracking, Colorado and Iowa.)

The other piece of the pre–Election Day puzzle is early voting, which now accounts for an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the general election vote. Local officials collect and report information about who voted early in each state in advance of the election, and VoteCastr then compares that public info with its own private voter files. To understand how this works in practice, consider my early ballot, which I cast in Iowa City last week. Though VoteCastr doesn’t know who I voted for, it can make an educated guess based on the things it does know about me: my age, race, and party registration. Our friends at VoteCastr tell me the model believes there’s a 97 percent chance I voted for Clinton. When my name shows up on the list of people who voted early in the Hawkeye State, VoteCastr will use that number to fill in the blank. These voter preference estimates allow VoteCastr to make more specific forecasts about the early voting split than most other modelers, which simply sort returned ballots by party registration.

Slate is taking a lot of criticism for doing this while the polls are still open, but if they go ahead with it and it works (a risk in itself) then the flood gates are open.

Is it good? Is it bad?

Eh, I don’t know but I really don’t see how anyone can stop it.

Slate’s Votecastr page:

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VoteCastr Estimates (4:40pm ET)


Never attribute to evil when stupidity will suffice

By WhskyJack, a Trail Mix Contributor

At last somebody is looking at the whole of the Clinton email scandal. While it isn’t pretty it looks way more realistic than all the accusations and rumors. (Politico: What the FBI Files Reveal About Hillary Clinton’s Email Server)

You have a tech shy SOS working with the antiquated tech of the State Department where workarounds have long been the rule. It occurred to me that for the State Department, communication is as essential as weapons are to the military. One would think they would keep their communication devices up to date.  Yet the State Department’s communication systems seem to be the equivalent of the military moving a patriot missile battery around with a team of mules.

This is a good read:

The interviews—taken together and reconstructed for this article into the first-ever comprehensive narrative of how her email server scandal unfolded—draw a picture of the controversy quite different from what either side has made it out to be. Together, the documents, technically known as Form 302s, depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides inside a bureaucracy where the IT and classification systems haven’t caught up with how business is conducted in the digital age. Reading the FBI’s interviews, Clinton’s team hardly seems organized enough to mount any sort of sinister cover-up. There’s scant oversight of the way Clinton communicated, and little thought given to how her files might be preserved for posterity—MacBook laptops with outdated archives are FedExed across the country, cutting-edge iPads are discarded quickly and BlackBerry devices are rejected for being “too heavy” as staff scrambled to cater to Clinton’s whims.

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So it goes


By WhskyJack, a Trail Mix Contributor

Thinking about recent comments started me on a search for a Vonnegut quote. Why? This is his year.  We are living in a Vonnegut novel. Crazy , funny and dark.

OK, time for a trip to the basement where my books sit row by row.  Which one, which one………

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”  From Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

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Secret Masters of the World


By WhskyJack,  a Trail Mix Contributor

Librarians dedicate their lives to the collection and storage of information in a retrievable form. In the information age librarians RULE!

Don’t believe it?

Look at Clinton’s email problem

As an op-ed at the Washington Post pointed out

“Bottom line: Clinton’s mistake was, as she has said, to have decided to use a private server. There’s not much duplicity, deceit or intention to evade to be found in this memo. What the document does reveal is Clinton’s colossal failure to understand the monumental responsibility she took on with her choice; namely, the direct duty to archive public records.

I call this job monumental not merely because it is important — and it is — but also because it is a task to which the entire profession of librarians and archivists is dedicated. ...This is what jumps out of the memo. The story of stuff that is missing, or turned in late, or not initially acknowledged to exist, or accidentally saved in inappropriate places only to be deleted later by low-level staff, appears to be mainly a tale of a bumbling group not remotely close to being equipped to handle, at a public-records standard, the material for which they were responsible.”

Clinton could lose the election for want of a librarian.

“Librarians are the secret masters of the world. They control information. Don’t ever piss one off” — Spider Robinson

Will sex become obsolescent?

By Whyskyjack, a Trail Mix Contributor

And  19 other questions about the future of human kind. Ask as only the folks from Scientific American can ask them.

Is the election driving you nuts?  Do you have most of your Facebook family on ignore. Are you thinking about getting a court order to keep your brother-in-law from setting foot in your house? Take a break, Pour a relaxing beverage and contemplate the big picture.

Nothing is going to change in the next three weeks anyway.

BTW the expert answer to the question is…

Test_Tube_Baby2“No, but having sex to conceive babies is likely to become at least much less common. In 20 to 40 years we’ll be able to derive eggs and sperm from stem cells, probably the parents’ skin cells. This will allow easy preimplantation genetic diagnosis on a large number of embryos—or easy genome modification for those who want edited embryos instead of just selected ones.”
—Henry Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University

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