November 12, 2018

Adventures in Babysitting 2018 Remake

Had grandkids early and often over weekend.  Adventures in Babysitting was an '80s movie which prompted a crush on Elisabeth Shue.

I’m suitably exhausted.  We started out watching OSU game but within the first twenty minutes our middle child was crying for reasons now lost in the archives of babysitting history.  Dog Max had gotten something he shouldn’t have, and 2-year old Katherine was trying to climb over Steph while grabbing everything that wasn’t nailed down.

We made it till mid-4th quarter when game seemed wrapped up before heading out in the frigid cold. First up was cutting the grass (or rather leaves, since a heavy blanket of leaves sat on it).  Despite charging the mower for a few hours the battery wouldn’t start. So next up was leaf blower which, alas, didn’t blow leaves since not powerful enough.  This left the unpalatable solution of raking the leaves by hand. The boys and I started raking and three minutes later the kids’ hands get cold.  So I told them to go in and get gloves.  They do and next thing is Max is running loose, loose as a goose in the front yard. Someone had left the door open.  So I spent then next ten minutes chasing Max around until he went into somebody’s garage and got cornered.

Max restored, we re-started the leaf-raking, doing it for a solid hour and getting it under control before diving into leaves for photo ops.

Then to hot tub, me, the boys and Katherine. Afterward Steph took Kath home and I ordered pizza. By 7pm we were happy and full.  Rented movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days which was surprisingly good.  For earworm purposes I introduced the boys to ‘80s song Safety Dance after reading Amy Welborn did that for her kids recently. But no earworms were said to have formed - except for me.  I'm still singing that song in my head. No bad deed goes unpunished. They had Alexa play something more their speed: “Radioactive”.

Sleep, blessed sleep, at 9:30.  For them if not for me. I holed myself up in my room like an outlaw, drinking Edmund Fitzgerald Stout and reading from the severely underrated writer Joe Queenan.  He’s sort of a sophisticated male version of Erma Bombeck.

November 08, 2018

Predicting Presidential Elections since '60

I’m too data-driven with regard to understanding events that defy logic to some extent like how someone gets elected president. The heart has its ways where reason doth not go, or something like that. And people are complex.

But I always try to figure out a formula that will determine who will win presidency.

I think in the modern era (1960s on), there are three components.
1) A feint in the opposite political direction. (Works for popes too since many thought Bergoglio was a conservative when he feinted that way years ago.)
2) Comfort with television and/or telegenic.
3) A lack of experience. Theoretically people’s thirst for a lack of experience must eventually find a bottom, though hopefully before we amend the Constitution and start electing pre-teens. Some would argue our current occupant is a pre-teen but that’s off topic.
Character plays a role too as reactions.  Jimmy Carter was a reaction to Nixon admin and George W. Bush against Clinton.  If this holds true in 2020, a Democrat like Bernie Sanders might be helped.

Let’s see if it works.

1960: Kennedy v Nixon. Kennedy feinted as a conservative with his hawkishness and fiscal sanity. A Look magazine cover in 1946 read: “A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative.” Nixon, by comparison, rarely looked liberal prior to 1960. Kennedy also wins on television obviously. Experience a wash, although slight edge to Kennedy likely.
Verdict: theorem worked.

1964: Johnson v Goldwater. Goldwater never feinted left in his life, at least not prior to ’64, and Johnson as a Southern Democrat feinted that way when he had to. They were a wash as far as television, and both were career senators.
Verdict: theorem worked, although wouldn’t have predicted a landslide.

1968: Nixon v Humphrey: This one I’m going to say the theroem didn’t work. Similar experience, slightly better TV maybe for Humprhey although Nixon had a lot of experience with the medium by this point. And both career pols.
Verdict: No.

1972: Nixon v McGovern. Similar experience, similar TV skills, but Nixon by this time had most definitely feinted left early and often (picture Bill Clinton after ’94 midterms), while McGovern never feinted right in his life except in restaurants if a waiter was coming by with a tray full of drinks.
Verdict: worked

1976: Carter v Ford: No (federal) experience for Carter, better on TV, and Carter feinted right simply by being a Southern Dem.
Verdict: worked

1980: Carter v Reagan: Reagan wins on TV easily, no federal experience for Reagan, so that’s two out of three right there.
Verdit: worked

1984: Reagan v Mondale: Reagan wins on TV, plenty of experience on both sides (wash), and Mondale didn’t perceptibly feint right.
Verdict: worked

1988: Bush v Dukakis: Bush wins narrowly on TV, less experience for Dukakis (point for him), but Dukakis never feinted right. Narrow win for Bush.
Worked, arguably.

1992: Clinton v Bush: Clinton kills on TV, less experience for Clinton, Clinton feinted right with Sister Souljah and being Southern Dem.
Worked.

1996: Clinton v. Dole: : Clinton kills on TV, experience a wash, Clinton feinted right with Sister Souljah and being Southern Dem.
Worked.

2000: W.Bush v Gore: Bush slightly better on TV, experience less for Bush than career pol Gore, and Gore didn’t feint right.
Worked.

2004: Bush v Kerry: Bush slightly better on TV, experience a wash, and Kerry didn’t feint right. Bush feinted right with “compassionate conservatism”, runaway spending, prescription drugs for Medicare, etc.
Worked.

2008: Obama v McCain: Obama killed on TV, less experience for Obama, and Obama feinted right with his 2004 “can’t we all get along unity-religious" speech at Dem convention.
Worked.

2012: Obama v Romney. Obama killed on TV, experience a wash (still slightly less for Obama arguably), and Romney didn’t feint left.
Worked.

2016: Trump v Hillary: Edge to Trump on TV for his experience and comfort with medium, experience huge mismatch in favor of Trump, and Hillary didn’t feint right.
Worked.

I want to examine why someone like Rubio wouldn’t have made it to nomination. Experience is in Trump’s favor, Rubio feinted left on immigration (not good in primary but good in general), and one would think he was better on TV but for his repetitiousness.

November 06, 2018

Fall Back Fellini

"Fall back" offers a precious extra hour of weekend and so I took time to bathe in the slow-motion documentary "Ex Libris" on Kanopy. Neat to see NYPL branches in those exotic NYC settings (Bronx, Chinatown, "Malcolm X" blvd). It blows your mind, the city does. People as art. People-watching as an activity.

Took dogs on a walk on nearby road because I wanted to read the home-made signs in one guy’s yard that I had trouble reading while passing by at 35 mph. It turns out it said something like "In 2008 you proved you weren’t a racist ... now prove you aren’t stupid. Red tsunami.".

I googled the phrase to see if it was used elsewhere and it turns out there was a book written in 2012 by a Neil Synder titled, "If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot."

Seems pretty certain Synder, who has a blog called and is a retired professor from Virginia, was the inspiration directly or indirectly for the neighbor.

November 05, 2018

Halloween, Ole Miss, Voters and Old Churches

Halloween's "Trick or Treat" is no treat given our dog Max gets deeply unhappy and barks and whines at being prevented from going up to the door (we set up a gate in the hallway).  But it doesn't seem kosher to scare the kids by having a 75-lb dog coming at them full-speed. A bit too much trick.

Come 8pm I removed the gate and closed down shop and he raced to the candy and stole at least three. In trying to extract it from him he simply swallowed them, still intact in their plastic wrappings. He has the gullet of a python. Chocolate isn’t good for dogs but at his weight he can take that amount.

After reading Jeff Miller’s posts on Facebook I now lament my lack of imagination and esprit de Halloween corps. He came up with these ideas:
I am having fun shifting the colors of my porch light via the phone app as Trick-and-Treaters approach. Beautiful night so just sitting on my porch with my laptop handing out future dental problems. Next year I am going to have two bowls of candy. The first full of generic candy nobody likes, the second full of the good stuff. Will show the first one first, wait for the reaction and pull out the second.
Brilliancy.  Won't solve my dog problem though of course.
__________

Enjoyed the 2016 election returns from PBS via YouTube. It ne’er gets old, the dawning shock and dismay of the elites. It’s interesting to see who gloms onto the storyline early. I’ve watched most of ABC and PBS now. Next up NBC, FOX News, CBS.

PBS’s Mark Shields mentioned before any returns were in that the Democrat party has become elitist and no longer attracts white working-class votes. That indeed turned out to be THE story.

Another guest mentioned that a surprise was that the gender gap was similar to past elections - she said she thought women would turn on Trump due to the Access Hollywood tape - and that could be accounting for Hillary not winning by a landslide.

David Brooks wrung his hands and was crestfallen, looking as grim as Gen Robert E. Lee immediately after Gettysburg.

Jeff Greenfield intelligently picked up early that the seemingly mythical extra white voters that Ted Cruz was always hoping for seemed to have materialized for Trump. Someone said something like “looks like white voters have some fight left in them” (before their demographic winter).

It's perhaps surprising how everything was seen completely in terms of race and ethnicity and gender instead of the candidates, issues, class, change versus more of the same. I get that, being a data guy myself.  It's a good thing to recall how voters, who are supposed to adhere closely to their caricatures, can fail to do so.
_________

Interesting to hear Lino Rulli on Catholic Channel of Sirius XM say Michigan football isn’t even in his 5 top college football experiences.

He says Notre Dame is in top 5 but number one is.... Ole Miss. He said the tailgating, the Southern hospitality, the smaller-sized stadium all make it the best college football.
_________

Read some of Tucker Carlson book Ship of Fools. It's scary how no one is talking about the fact that the nation’s truckdrivers are going to lose their jobs with driverless vehicles given the tremendous number of truck-drivers. He laments the passing of the old Democrats, pests to be sure but pests needed in the nation’s ecosystem. Now, alas, they have become both indifferent to the little guy and socially liberal, a fatal combo for the country. Kill the family and the working man in one fell swoop.

Also read some WSJ, an intriguing article about how some millennials are looking to retire at 40 via heroic 70% savings rates.

Listened to some of Eric Scheske podcast about how crucial it is to train your brain, aka "Catholic mindfulness". He recommended “The Virgin Eye” big time (he bought copies for al his seven kids, first time ever he’d done something like that).

Grandkids came over and one of them is bad at “transitions” and so he was sullen and angry when his mother was taking him home and wouldn’t give my wife a hug. Rebuffed her and didn’t say a word. His father wasn't happy about it when he heard from his wife.  Around 5:30 we got a tearful Facetime call from a tearful one that appeared to be a hostage video. He would get a spanking if he didn’t execute this apology with sincerity and eye-contact and one sensed he would've proclaimed an indifference to candy under those circumstances.  But it is what it is. It ain’t easy raising kids.

Local Dominican priest comments on twitter: "Central Ohio is full of little towns with really neat 19th century Catholic churches."

And there was a response from a Deacon Ambrose Dobrozsi: "Some of the best to the west in our diocese of Cincinnati - St. Patrick in Glynnwood; St. Remy in Russia; St. Augustine in Minster; Holy Angels in Sidney. St. Patrick in Bellefontaine is undergoing work to be restored to its pre-V II glory."

Shocked to see St. Patrick’s of Glynnwood get a mention on Twitter! Especially given how large the Cincy diocese surely is.

Undeniably, I think, the most beautiful church in the area hands-down belongs to neither diocese -- I’m thinking of the basilica in Covington, KY.

And for the heck of it, I checked out Google reviews for churches on the web.  The Covington church got a stunning 4.9 of 5.0 scale and 55 reviews.

Cincy’s cathedral got a 4.5 on 46 reviews.  Columbus cathedral got 4.5 on 36 reviews.  Cleveland’s cathedral got 4.7 out of 49 reviews.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC got 4.8 out of 5,308 reviews. The Washington D.C. Basilica got 4.8 out of 12,000+ reviews.

I think of all of them for me, the D.C. church still number 1, but Covington number 2.