52 posts

Doc on…the Judicial Branch of government in the U.S.

[Third in a series of essays on the current political climate in the United States. These are not meant as definitive fixes for anything but just bringing up ideas for discussion. But, should the become the basis Constitutional Amendments, I expect full credit. 🙂

Part 2: Doc on…the Electoral College
Part 1: Doc on…Ranked Choice Voting

Did you know that the Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government doesn’t have divisions led by an elected official, and is the only such branch?

The Legislative Branch has Congress, where they are all elected. The Executive Branch have the President and Vice President, who are elected, although I’d argue that the Vice President isn’t elected as such, but is “appointed” by the candidate…when has anyone ever changed their vote based on who the VP was?

But the Judicial Branch has the U.S. Department of Justice, which reports to the Attorney General, who is appointed by the President, and the Supreme Court, which consists of lifetime appointments made by – you guessed it – the President, although with the approval of Congress.

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Doc on…the Electoral College

[Second in a series of essays on the current political climate in the United States.

Part 3: Doc on…Judicial Branch of government in the U.S.
Read Part 1: Doc on…Ranked Choice Voting

Whenever a contentious presidential election comes up, especially when the popular vote does not match the electoral results, people call for the Electoral College to be abolished. I was one of those people. I don’t think that way now, but I do think a lot of changes are needed.

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Doc on…Ranked Choice Voting

[First in a series of essays on the current political climate in the United States.

Part 3: Doc on…Judicial Branch of government in the U.S.
Part 2: Doc on…the Electoral College

With a very contentious election coming up, I figured now is as good as ever to talk about some of the things that have come up a lot.

In Massachusetts, one ballot measure that is up for decision is Question 2: Ranked Choice Voting. Alaska voting on a similarly measure, and Maine has it already. It’s also used in a number of municipalities like Cambridge for certain elections, and has been used for years elsewhere like Australia. It is even used for voting on the Hugo Awards, the Oscars of science fiction fandom.

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New word: Inegression

Occasionally I think up new words, in the vein of Sniglets. Today’s new word:

Inegression (n):
1) The state of momentary bewilderment when one attempts to open a door used for both entrance and exit, only to have it suddenly open and be face to face with a stranger;
2) The impasse created when both people are too polite to pass through said door.

Here’s an old one I came up with years ago, but I don’t appear to have posted it before so I hereby lay claim to it as well:

Coattailgate (v):
The act of following so closely behind someone else, that when a kind person allows them through traffic, they have no choice but to let you through also.

Why ABC’s Battle of the Network Stars won’t survive – and why it should

I grew up with television from the 70s and 80s, and one of the things I looked forward to most was the once or twice a year specials which featured the stars doing different things…like ABC’s Battle of the Network Stars – that was reality TV back then. I loved it so much that I still have recordings of all but two episodes, and when ESPN Classic started showing the old ones, I watched them over and over…

The show was a variety sports competition based on the similar format of NBC’s SuperStars and SuperTeams, pitting three teams – one from each of the three major broadcast networks back then, ABC, NBC and CBS – consisting of eight to nine competitors from that network’s current shows. And it was very competitive…each were competing for real money, and some of them were just naturally competitive. There was a variety of competitions, from standard running, cycling and swimming relays, to more fun stuff like the dunk tank and Simon Says, as well as 3-on-3 football, the famous obstacle course, and the infamous finale, the Tug Of War. ABC’s own Howard Cosell would host with a different co-host each time, with the exception of the 18th Battle, filmed in Hawaii instead of the usual Pepperdine University and hosted by Joan Van Ark and Dick Van Dyke.

Who could forget the very first running relay, where ABC captain Gabe Kaplan protested the NBC team’s run as one of the men moved backwards to get the baton from one of the slower women early, and NBC captain Robert Conrad went NUTS, made some comments that would get fried on Twitter these days, and challenged Kaplan to a run off, which Kaplan agreed to…and Kaplan promptly blew the doors off the cigar-smoking Conrad…

The battles were filmed on location at Pepperdine University in Pasadena, California, over a couple days with live crowds with cheerleaders to help elevate the excitement and energy levels.

Looking back, it was interesting how ABC managed to get people from the other networks to compete, something that probably wouldn’t fly these days. But the other networks and their shows got promoted, and I don’t know if there was an agreement to co-share with the other networks – CBS had a “spiritual cousin” of the show, Circus Of The Stars. I can’t remember if NBC had one. Even for the second battle, it seemed as if appearances weren’t sanctioned by the other networks – the teams were instead known as “Friends of NBC”, etc. and logos weren’t used, but by the third battle that seemed to be resolved.
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The statistics of Super Bowl squares

I’m taking part in a Super Bowl square for charity this year, and a number of people not familiar with these squares were taking part, so it got me thinking about what numbers and pairs are really good.

Being the geek that I am, of course I needed to figure it out. What follows is a bit dry – it is, after all, statistics. So if you want to cut to the chase, here is a quick summary of numbers that I believe from the results below are good and bad:

Best numbers: 0, 1, 3 and 7
Worst numbers: 2, 5 and 8
Best pairs: 0-0, 3-0, 7-0, 5-1 (yes, really), 7-1, 7-3, 7-4

Sure, there are already web pages with information on the subject, but 1) I didn’t write them, and 2) They didn’t always look at the numbers the way I wanted, and in at least one case didn’t seem to use the right scores. And I wanted to play more with Excel.

First, you may ask, “What is a Super Bowl Square?” The Square is a gambling device used in football (and really, any similar game with similar scoring and defined periods – the more “random” the scoring the better – basketball would be another good one) in which a 10×10 grid is laid out, the numbers 0-9 are written across the top and down the side, and people buy squares. The rows correspond to one particular team, and the columns the other team. If at the end of a quarter or the end of the game the last digit of each team’s score matches your square, you win the prize for that quarter. Typically the prize for the final score is worth more.
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Review: Gibbet Hill Grill, Groton, MA

I’ve always planned to do dining reviews, especially for some of the local locations we hit on occasion, but for some reason never got around to it. Often I think of it when I get crappy service or food, but I don’t want to make it just a rant space against places – I’d like to be more even handed.

So recently we got to try out a place we had never been. We’ve heard about it by reputation, but not advertisement – it doesn’t seem to get a lot of press that I have seen. But the Gibbet Hill Grill certainly deserves some press. I had heard about the place by word of mouth, but a gift certificate from my soccer team (thanks guys!) finally got us to go.
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