What a Long Strange Week It’s Been

The most important day of this week was Monday, the day of my mother’s funeral. Due to Covid and isolation rules, I was unable to return to England to be present at the ceremony. My sister, bless her, arranged a livestream.

So, at 9:45 on Monday (2:45pm in England), we watched the ceremony. It was strange not to be there. It was strangely comforting when Mochi started licking my face as I was watching. It was also comforting to walk her to the beach a little later.

Other strange aspects of the past week included the first Halloween we haven’t celebrated in many years. Some people in our neighborhood “did Halloween”, but we were wary of the Covid-risk to others and to ourselves. Our kids are old enough to understand (16 and 14 now). It was a lovely crisp Saturday afternoon, though.

Then there was the election. Or rather, there still is the election. The strangeness of that would take a post by itself…

How was your week been?

Electing to Start Blogging Again

I didn’t give up blogging, I just didn’t post for almost four months. I last posted just after the big summer storm, when we lost power, and got it back on the 4th of July. So I hardly blogged at all between Independence Day and Election Day.

Today’s election was the first in which I was eligible to vote as a US citizen. I did so accompanied by my kids.

Voting is good, and blogging is good. Will the outcome of the election be good? Or rather, for whom will it be good?

UK Has New PM

So, the United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister: David Cameron of the Conservative Party. The government is a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. I wrote just after the election that:

The Conservatives could form a government, with a majority, with the support of the Liberal Democrats. I think, and hope, that they won’t get that support without commitment to reform the electoral system toward proportional representation.

We still don’t have the details of the deal. When we do, I’ll post about them. If they include a firm step toward PR, then I for one will forgive Nick Clegg and the rest of the LibDem leadership.

I do have some regret that the LibDems couldn’t do a deal with Labour instead. But I think that the operative word is couldn’t. Such a deal would have required the support of all Labour MPs and of some of the other, smaller, parties, and that support just didn’t seem to be there.

UK Election From Afar

Yesterday saw a General Election in the land of my birth: the United Kingdom. Here’s a snapshot, based on the Guardian‘s election coverage.

Britain’s parliament has 649 seats, each representing a geographic constituency. Here, for each party, is the share of the seats and the share of the vote (the 10 missing seats are those for which we don’t yet have a result).

  • Conservative: 300, 36%.
  • Labour: 255, 29%
  • Liberal Democrat: 56, 23%
  • Other: 28, 12%.

So, the Conservatives have more seats than any other party, but they don’t have a majority of seats, and they were nowhere near a majority of the popular vote. The Liberal Democrats have a far greater share of the popular vote (more than a fifth) than of the seats (less than a tenth). That’s because of the UK system, in which there is a winner-take-all race for each seat.

The electoral system is bad at representing the popular vote. It’s usually “good” at making it clear who’s in power, in that usually either Labour or the Conservatives has a majority of seats. That hasn’t worked this time.

The Conservatives could form a government, with a majority, with the support of the Liberal Democrats. I think, and hope, that they won’t get that support without commitment to reform the electoral system toward proportional representation.

The Liberal Democrats did hope that this would be the election in which they gained a significant number of seats even without electoral reform. Now they hope that it will be the election after which they can bargain for electoral reform. In subsequent elections, their popular vote would be reflected in seats – and produce more “hung parliaments,” alliances, and so on.

Proportional representation is my hope also. For that, and for other reasons, I’ll be particularly interested in UK politics over the next few days.

Change of President

usofobamaI just watched John McCain’s concession speech. It was, I thought, very gracious, especially the obvious embarrassment at some of the more boorish crowd noise.

Cartoon by Ed Stein, via Daryl Cagle and Johnny Drawn! It looks as though Alaska has seceded (along with Hawaii). Do Ed Stein and Sarah Palin know something we don’t?

President of Change

We (our rather, the citizens of the country in which I reside, but cannot vote) are about to get a new president. Central to the discussion has been change. Obama notoriously uses the word at every opportunity.

But McCain and Palin have been talking about the concept of change just as much. It’s just that, while Obama has owned the word itself, McPalin have found other ways to refer to, and attempt to claim, the concept. In particular, Palin has used the word maverick almost as often as Tina Fey has.

A maverick is an unbranded range animal, especially a motherless calf. It can also mean a person who thinks independently, a lone dissenter, a non-conformist or rebel. There’s other good stuff at Wikipedia, but the point is that Palin associates herself and McCain with change by describing the two of them as non-conformists. (If you want to address the question of how each can be both a lone dissenter and the running mate of the other, please do so in the comments.)

Now, if you wanted the American people to associate you with change, which word would you choose? A one-syllable word, preferably change itself? Or a three-syllable word meaning a motherless calf? And, if your opponent has already claimed the C-word for himself, would you reinforce the central place of change in the discussion? Perhaps you had to, unless you wanted to campaign on four-letter words like Bush and same.

By the way, Changing Way makes no official endorsement of either candidate. But you can probably detect endorsements unofficial and subliminal.

Republicans for Clinton

Today’s Globe reports that Republicans have begun participating in Democratic primaries specifically to vote for Clinton. They think that this will help McCain.

Ten days ago, I twittered that if I were a McCain supporter with money to contribute, I would give it to Clinton. I made the same observation on reddit. I was told that I was a moron. I’m not sure what today’s Globe article makes me…

Democracy in the USA

Some of these Diebold voting machine posters are great. But even greater is Jimmy Carter’s Onion article; as I link to it, I should remind you that The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

If you must have a serious snapshot of the primaries, you could do worse than The Economist. Or you might prefer a snapshot of Hillary & The Pips, presumably doing “Midnight Train to South Carolina.”

Presidential Meme

I just tried the 2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz, despite being a victim of taxation without representation here in the USA. I didn’t know much about my match, so I Googled him, only to find that ABC has just cut Mike Gravel from a Dem debate because he doesn’t meet the station’s “quite inclusive” criteria. Kucinich was also cut. Sorry if I somehow jinxed you, guys.

79% Mike Gravel
78% Dennis Kucinich
73% Chris Dodd
68% Barack Obama
66% John Edwards
66% Hillary Clinton
65% Joe Biden
64% Bill Richardson
44% Rudy Giuliani
38% John McCain
37% Ron Paul
30% Mike Huckabee
27% Mitt Romney
17% Tom Tancredo
14% Fred Thompson