Bag of Randomness for Thursday, November 5, 2020

While the result of the election is tipping towards one direction, it’s a lot closer than I expected. I thought there would be more of a repudiation of the lies, moral character, and the handling of the coronavirus. Perhaps that’s because of what happened four years ago, many Trump voters where silent about their choice. I actually thought it would it would be opposite this year, that many traditional Republicans would be silent about their vote for Biden and that wouldn’t show in the polling data. Should Biden lose, it would be more than devastating for us Democrats. It would be so demoralizing, liberals would have thought what’s the point of voting. The participation and voter outreach was historical, and despite that effort and help from Bloomberg and the Lincoln Project, it would have still amounted to a loss. But then again, Trump and the Republicans still suppressed the vote and slowed the mail and still crying victim. But with a Biden win, the momentum to turn Texas blue along with Texas demographics is promising.

I’m waiting for President Trump to tweet something like the reason there are so many COVID-19 cases are because we are testing too much but put it in a voting perspective. Like, the reason he’s losing the election is because people keep counting votes.

We really need to do away with the Electoral College. Again, in Texas, my voted is always counted, but it never makes a difference.

I wasn’t too surprised McConnell kept his seat, though I was hopeful. But, I’m surprised that both Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins are returning to the Senate.

Something different I noticed many news stations were doing were displaying the difference between number of votes along with the traditional total votes and percentage we are accustomed to seeing. I appreciate them doing the math for me instead of me having to trust my mental math approximation. CBS News did that, but look at the horrible job they did. You can barely see above Trump’s total of 5,250,887 votes that “^177,221” appears. NBC News on the other hand did a great job of showing the difference, it’s easily visible bottom center.

CBS News also decided to move their election news headquarters to Times Square from D.C. Why? There was no change to the viewer and Times Square was empty. NBC no longer paints the ice at Rockefeller Center, that’s one bit that didn’t need to be retired.

Game of Thrones political humor.

Watch This Datsun 280z Get Its First Wash Ever

Imagine you crack open a barn that no one has touched in decades and finding a Datsun 280Z with a mere 350 miles on it. If you’re a car enthusiast, your brain is probably immediately roaring with ideas about what you’re going to do with this car. But before any of that, you have one task: Wash it.

North Dakota legislature candidate who died from COVID-19 wins election

‘Emotional support Canadians’ offer to help Americans stressed by U.S. election

Probably the Trump campaign to pay for the upcoming lawsuits.

Someone Just Emptied Out a Bitcoin Wallet With $964,000,000 In ItIt’s not yet clear if a hacker made off with a gigantic payday, or if the wallet’s secretive and long-dormant owner just came out of retirement.

The Story Behind That Gif Of Bugs Bunny Sawing Off Florida

How Rotel Became an Essential Part of Any Queso

The story of Rotel, which is now available in different spice levels and chile types, dates back to 1943. It originated in Elsa, Texas from a vegetable canner named Carl Roettele. Evolving from chile con queso in 19th century Mexico, recipes for cheese dip with various veggies in the early 1900s called for an exhausting process of roasting, peeling, and chopping chiles, then sautéing them with tomato and onions and mixing them with grated cheese. By the 1920s, this type of chile con queso was a common menu item in Texas restaurants and home kitchens. However, according to food writer Robert F. Moss, the cooking process of pepper roasting and cheese grating was exhausting, leading Texans to wonder if there was a simpler alternative.

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Bag of Randomness for the 59th Quadrennial President Election

I thought today’s Bag of Randomness should focus on the history of voting in the U.S. The following are notes I jotted down from the Throughline episode How We Vote. There are a lot of fun tidbits I think you’ll enjoy.

  • IN 1757 George Washington ran for a seat in the House of burgesses. To encourage his neighbors to vote for him, he threw a party at the time of the election which included 46-gallons of beer a hogshead, a barrel of rum punch, thirty-five gallons of wine, forty-three gallons of strong beer, 2 gallons of cider, and three-and-a half pints of brandy.
  • Voting was a very public event in those times. It would not be uncommon to see fiddling, wrestling matches, dancing, feasting and shouting. The tradition ritual was for each candidate to stand on a platform, and they would await for each voter to stand up and verbally announce who they were voting for. Many who announced their votes were subject to all sorts of intimidation. Imagine doing a recount in those times. It gives a new meaning to, “Your vote, your voice.”
  • Voting was very open and very public. Your vote was known to the public because it was for the public.
  • Sometimes voting occurred at the town square or town common. People would simply move to one area or another depending on their voting preference. The voting administers would then count the tops of everyone’s head, a process they called “polling” and that’s how we got the term we use today.
  • Sometimes people simply placed an object, like a marble, pebble, dried corn kernels or beans, or whatever they had around, into a box.
  • In more literate areas, voters would write on a sheet of paper they brought and dropped it in a box. So during this period, there were various forms of voting, from paper to dried beans.
  • The president wasn’t chosen by popular vote, the framers didn’t really care how the public voted one way or another, they left it up to the states.
  • The party system emerged in 1796. For perspective, Washington’s first term was 1789.
  • Parties wanted to maximize the number of voters they could reach and relied on the best technology of the time – the printing press. In the 1820s, paper was suddenly becoming more economical to produce, and the cost to win a voter dropped. They no longer relied on a voter to bring his own piece of paper to write the name of the candidate and drop it in a box. Newspapers were really partisan back then and ballots were printed in them. Voters would cut out the ballot, mark their candidate preference with a writing utensil, and dropped it off at a polling place.
  • By the late 1820s, most states adopted universal white male suffrage. Voters no longer needed land or money to vote, they just had to be white and be a male.
  • People started to call the ballots party tickets because they looked like a railroad ticket. They later became huge pieces and easily spotted. Some party bosses hired henchmen to spot people carrying the large colored party ballot and intimidate them. It was called shoulder striking.
  • The famous case of how out of control this got involved George Kyle of Baltimore, who was going to vote with his brother. He was a Democrate and lived in a neighborhood dominated by the opposition, the American Party, back in 1859. A man tried to snatch the ballots out of his hands and suddenly shots are fired and they kill his brother. An investigation ensued, and the question was asked, “Can a man of ordinary courage be able to cast his vote that day?” There was an implication that the Kyle brothers were cowards.
  • People later realized they could use their votes for something other than voting, they could use it to eat. Poor men would show up to the polling place and ask each side what they would give them for their vote. It was industrial America with a very poor underclass. So, sometimes votes were won with nothing more than a sandwich. People in power were watching. Factory owners could easily see who their workers were voting for. Jobs were loss because the rich fired the poor for not voting their preference.
  • During the Civil War, it fell to the states if and how soldiers would vote. This is when some states started absentee voting. Voting boxes were taken to battle camps, and soldiers were able to cast a ballot. Other states allowed proxies voting. For instance, a soldier from New York. He would enclose in an envelope his ballot along with a document authorizing the ballot and signed an affidavit. That envelope was placed into a special envelope, which indicated it was a soldier’s vote. Both political parties claimed fraud.
  • In 1888, Massachusetts was the first state to adopt the secret ballot – “a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. This forestalls attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. This system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.”
  • The 15th Amendment granting African-American men the right to vote was adopted into the U.S. Constitution in 1870. Despite the amendment, by the late 1870s discriminatory practices were used to prevent blacks from exercising their right to vote, especially in the South. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that legal barriers were outlawed at the state and local levels if they denied African-Americans their right to vote under the 15th Amendment.
  • On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially took effect when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed a proclamation certifying its ratification. The amendment promised women that their right to vote would “not be denied” on account of sex.

Here’s a bit more about his trip, which from my understanding, he made because he was mentally exhausted and just wanted to get away from everything for a little bit.

So this journey began many blocks from the Whittier polling place when Mr. Nixon and his entourage, which was a military aide and a Secret Service agent, covertly and ever oh-so discreetly away from the press jumped out of the Vice Presidential limo and into a white convertible follow-up car driven by an officer from the Los Angeles Police Department, and off they went, and most importantly, they managed to successfully ditch the press. By the way, Nixon did not just jump into the backseat and say, “let’s go,” but rather the presidential hopeful told the LAPD officer to scoot over and he, Nixon, drove the car himself…

After leaving Oceanside Mr. Nixon and company continued south on the 101 into San Diego. Well, now in San Diego and not too sure what to do or where to go Nixon mentioned he had not been to Tijuana in over 20 years. Shortly there after the man who might be elected President of the United States by the end of that day was now out of the country and in Tijuana.

Mr. Nixon and company, on advice from a Border Patrol Agent, went to have something to eat at the Old Heidelberg restaurant, which the border agent claimed was the best Mexican food in Tijuana.

Word got around Tijuana that a possible future U.S. president was in town and soon joining the presidential candidate was Tijuana Mayor Xicotencati Leyva Aleman. It was later reported that Mr. Nixon and everybody in the group ate enchiladas.

After eating enchiladas Mr. Nixon and company headed back for the states, and at the border crossing checkpoint a border agent was shocked to see who was in the car, but still had to ask, “Are you all residents of the United States?” according to Nixon aides.


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Bag of Randomness for Monday, November 2, 2020

I hope this store has a massive clearance sale on Wednesday.

On Halloween morning, DaughterGeeding greeted us with, “Happy 500-something Martin Luther anniversary of hanging the 95 theses on the church door!” There was a lesson about that in one of her classes earlier in the year and the anniversary being on Halloween just stayed in her mind.

Despite the kinds not going out to trick-or-treat this year, WifeGeeding did a phenomenal job of making the night special for the kids. As a family, we carved a pumpkin, played truth or scare, bobbed for apples, play games, scavenger hunt for candy in the dark with the use of a headlamp, and watched some Scooby Dooby Doo Where Are You.

We did hand out candy and had a little over a dozen trick-or-treaters. I had a PVC pipe of about four feet long and used that to slide candy down to their candy bags and buckets. The University of Texas and Oklahoma State football game was on and went into overtime. I was stuck handing out candy but it was the first time BoyGeeding and I “talked football.” He would run over and tell me about the previous play, if it was a run or pass, yardage, down, and time left on the clock. I had a few questions from time to time but he answered them clearly. He told me this was a great learning experience for him and now he “actually understand down and distance.” It was a real sweet moment.

It’s despicable what that caravan of deplorable did to that Biden campaign bus traveling down the highway. And it’s sickening the Deplorable in Chief condoned it.

A lot of people who voted for Trump last year were quiet about it and that skewed polling data last year. I’m curious is that’s going to happen this year but with Republicans who voted for Biden.

Watching stories of voters in other states dropping off their ballots into official state voting boxes (somewhat dresembling a U.S. mail drop-off collection box) and being able to go online and verify their vote was accepted and tabulated the next day seems so foreign for this Texan. It makes me disappointed in our state leadership for putting us behind the times.

I’ve never seen a Sean Connery James Bond film. But then again, I haven’t seen many James Bond films. I suppose my favorite Connery films are Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

No, Sean Connery did not write a mean letter to Steve JobsFollowing the James Bond actor’s death, the long-debunked “letter” has resurfaced

Downtown Dallas looked great on Halloween night.

This was a last weekend of being forced to watch political ads while watching any live sporting event on television. The country will collectively breathe a sigh of relief.

Bye-bye coal, hello solar: Why Texas’ top power company, Vistra, is embracing clean energySince 2016, the Irving-based company has closed or announced the closure of 19 coal plants, and it’s investing $850 million in Texas renewables — with a lot more to come.

Trump Camp Uses Online Gimmick to Fuel Donations Into DecemberThe Trump campaign is now automatically checking a box to create recurring weekly donations from supporters until mid-December.

President Trump’s campaign is raising money for a prolonged political and legal fight long after Nov. 3 and recently began automatically checking a box to withdraw additional weekly contributions from online donors through mid-December — nearly six weeks after Election Day.

Predicting “FRAUD like you’ve never seen,” the language on Mr. Trump’s website opts contributors into making the weekly post-election donations “to ensure we have the resources to protect the results and keep fighting even after Election Day.” Users must proactively click to avoid making multiple contributions.

The unusual post-election revenue stream would help Mr. Trump pay off any bills that his campaign accumulates before Tuesday — a campaign spokesman said no such debts had been incurred — and could help fund a lengthy legal fight if the results are contested.

How Are Americans Catching the Virus? Increasingly, ‘They Have No Idea’New outbreaks used to be traced back to crowded factories and rowdy bars. But now, the virus is so widespread not even health officials are able to keep up.

As the coronavirus soars across the country, charting a single-day record of 99,155 new cases on Friday and surpassing nine million cases nationwide, tracing the path of the pandemic in the United States is no longer simply challenging. It has become nearly impossible.

Gone are the days when Americans could easily understand the virus by tracking rising case numbers back to discrete sources — the crowded factory, the troubled nursing home, the rowdy bar. Now, there are so many cases, in so many places, that many people are coming to a frightening conclusion: They have no idea where the virus is spreading.

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the airThe risk of contagion is highest in indoor spaces but can be reduced by applying all available measures to combat infection via aerosols. Here is an overview of the likelihood of infection in three everyday scenarios, based on the safety measures used and the length of exposure

West Point agrees to issue smaller-sized combat uniforms to new female cadets

AUSTIN, Texas — Women entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will now have access to smaller-sized Army combat uniforms following a request from Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., to review the school’s policy on unisex uniforms for incoming cadets.

“I am grateful that the Army has agreed to change its uniform policy at West Point to be more inclusive for female cadets,” Hassan said in a statement. “Uniforms are an important part of military academies’ culture, and ensuring that female cadets have uniforms that fit is essential to making them feel included in a space that has been historically male-dominated.”

The senator wrote to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Oct. 5 asking he review the policy and explain why women weren’t offered the female sizes of the Army Combat Uniform, known as the ACU, during their issuance of gear, even though the uniforms are sold in the base’s Post Exchange. This left women to pay out-of-pocket for better-fitting uniforms

We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day

In reality, the scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.

Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly. These race calls mean Candidate A is far enough ahead that, given the number of outstanding ballots and the regions those ballots are coming from, Candidate B would realistically be unable to close the gap.

The difference this year is not the timing of final results — those will come, as always, by the certification deadlines each state has set, ranging from two days after the election in Delaware to more than a month after in California. The difference, rather, is when news organizations are likely to have enough information to make accurate projections.

If, as Mr. Trump suggested, courts were to force states to stop counting after Nov. 3, it would be an extraordinary subversion of the electoral process and would disenfranchise millions of voters who cast valid, on-time ballots.


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Bag of Randomness for Friday, October 30, 2020

Ruth Vader Ginsburg

The primary reason I’m going sans beard right now is because I think it would increase my chances of getting COVID.

My commemorative U2 stamps from Ireland arrived in the mail this week, much faster than I expected.

Election wise, I have a feeling a variation of the following will happen, but I pray that it doesnt, and it’s all due to that damn Electoral College.

Republican state legislatures complain about voter irregularity claiming the results aren’t accurate and instruct their electors not vote on behalf of the popular vote but what they think properly reflects the results of their state. For example, Biden wins the popular vote in Texas, but the Texas legislature claims voter fraud and instructs their electors to vote for Trump (though some may opt not to follow suit).

How far off is this thought? Not as crazy as you’d think. Republicans control both legislative chambers in the six most key battleground states – Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and North Carolina. Some electors might do what that Texas elector did last time and choose to vote against what the voters wanted. There could be just enough of them to make things unstable where neither candidate can get the required 270 votes to win.

If the above scenario happened, the election would then go to the U.S. House of Representatives and each state would get just one vote. Majority wins, so all that’s needed is 26 votes, which is the exact number of state delegations Republicans control. Currently, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash.

The tired and old cliche of “Democrats fall in love, while Republicans fall in line” may very well happen and we’ll be stuck with another four years of Trump. When it comes to playing hardball, Democrats are soft and Republicans are fiercely tough at playing politics. We saw that in the 2000 election and we see it with the Senate Majority Leader and President now.

They dreamed of esports glory. Then their bodies broke down  – Professional gaming is booming, with millions on offer for the best players. But esports is also taking a physical and mental toll – and some have decided that enough is enough

A handful of gamers Migliore has worked with directly have been left with constant pain. “Over time, you get these chronic micro traumas, these tears,” she explains, describing what can happen to human tissues after years of button-mashing. Then, a slight but sudden shock to that musculature, anything from pushing a heavy bag into a car boot or swinging a bowling ball can cause a bigger injury in the worn out tissue.

And while she hasn’t seen a displaced tendon like the one suffered by Bright among any of her own patients yet, she acknowledges that it’s something that could happen to a gamer. Esports athletes, she says, perform up to 600 actions per minute with their fingers while playing some games. But human hands evolved for climbing trees.

For those pushing for greatness, the toll on their bodies can be high. Esports insiders, including players and coaches, are increasingly worried about the pressures that competitive gamers face. Player health varies widely, with issues ranging from hand, neck and back pain that sometimes requires surgery, to poor nutrition, bouts of insomnia and mental health issues including anxiety, depression and burnout.

The folks that may cause any civil unrest have been stocking up on ammo fear years.

Walmart pulls guns and ammo from store displays, citing potential “civil unrest”

Walmart on Thursday said it has pulled guns and ammunition from the sales floors of its U.S. stores as it seeks to keep firearms from being stolen should social unrest erupt.

“We have seen some isolated civil unrest, and as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “These items do remain available for purchase by customers.”

Why did an Oregon health official dressed like a clown read off the coronavirus death toll?

A video in which Oregon Health Authority officials dressed in costume give COVID-19 information is getting national attention, almost two weeks after it was initially posted.

The reason? A screenshot of the video showing an official in sad clown makeup, reading of the daily virus death toll, tweeted by Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Samantha Swindler, was shared widely on social media.

Dr. Claire Poché, a public health physician with the Oregon Health Authority, kicked off the Halloween safety video by removing her surgical mask to reveal a full face of clown make-up, somewhat reminiscent of the Joker, one of Batman’s creepiest rivals.

“As of today, there have been 38,160 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, with 390 new cases being reported today,” Poché said. “Sadly, we also reporting three deaths today, bringing the statewide total for COVID-19 related deaths to 608.”

The optics aren’t ideal, especially as Oregon, like many states, deals with surging coronavirus cases.

Folks in the Houston area were able to vote anytime of the day for a straight 24 hours. That’s pretty neat.

Up all night: Harris County offers 24-hour voting Thursday

“Whether you’re a first responder who clocks in and out at 5 a.m., a medical professional working to save lives around the clock, someone keeping shelves full at grocery stores, or a shift worker keeping our port running, we want to give you the opportunity to cast your vote at a time that is convenient for you and four family,” Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins said in a statement.

The 24-hour option is one of several innovations in Hollins’s ambitious $27 million election plan for this year; others include nearly tripling the number of early voting sites, drive-thru voting, sending mail ballot applications to all registered seniors and hiring more than 11,000 poll workers.

Road rage.

This is a long video for you to invest your time in, but it’s up my ally.

Presidential historian Jeffrey Engel fact checks presidential scenes from movies and television including ‘Frost/Nixon,’ ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Pearl Harbor,’ ‘Vice,’ ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘The Comey Rule,’ ‘W.,’ ‘The Special Relationship,’ ‘The Wind and the Lion,’ ‘Thirteen Days,’ ‘LBJ’ and ‘John Adams’ and analyzes their believability and execution.

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