Happy 100th Birthday National Parks

National Parks have made me happy, so it’s only appropriate for me to wish them a happy 100th birthday today.

I love the national treasures found within the National Park system. The photos below are from a Flickr album of photos I took at Teton National Park (and adjacent National Forests) in Wyoming. My family and I have been there several times–but never enough. We’ve been to nearby Yellowstone, as well. But Teton park tugs at me. If you are a fan of the film Shane, the majestic mountains in the background of most shots look very similar to this photo as much of that movie classic was filmed in this area called Moose, Wyoming.

My favorite national park east of the Rockies is Acadia in Maine, which  is like visiting several parks because of the variety of its natural beauty. You’ll be looking one minute at crashing waves and the next moment feel like your are driving through the Rockies.

 

Grand Teton National Park, 2013

Many years ago, I was able to ask the head of the U.S. Park system (at the time) what his favorite national park was. Without pause, he said, “Glacier.” It’s been on my bucket list ever sense. Close to home, the Natchez Trace Parkway, not technically a national park, but managed by the U.S. Park Service, is a 440 mile of road that I’ve biked on for much of the Tennessee portion, but it, too, has about 400 miles of bicycling bucket list to it, also.

Happy birthday, national parks. You’ve made me happy on many, many occasions.

Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About the Olympics or Polls

Just because.

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Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About the Olympics

“The Olympics is about the worst thing that could have happened to the Trump train. Here’s a candidate whose message depends entirely on convincing Americans that they’re living in a failing nation overrun by criminal immigrants. And for the past two weeks, tens of millions of Americans have been glued to a multi-ethnic parade of athletes, winning easily. “Make America Great Again” has never felt more out-of-touch than it does against the backdrop of tenacious, over-achieving American athletes driven by their own journeys in pursuit of the American Dream.”

VIA | Politico.com

Trump Isn’t Tweeting About The Polls Anymore

“Trump rarely tweets about polls these days. Indeed, he’s done so only four times in the past 30 days. During the same period in the primary season — as far out from the Iowa caucuses as we are from Election Day now — he tweeted about polls 103 times.”

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VIA | FiveThirtyEight.com

When disaster strikes “someplace else,” first send money | 2016 | Floods

When natural disasters occur, our first reaction may be to send things. First, send money.


NOLO.com | How to help the victims of the Louisiana flood


Over the years, I have re-posted this far too many times: the following words about natural disasters and the human toll they take. I believe social media, writ large, make such events more personal to us all — a shared phenomena, even for those of us not on the scene.

Unfortunately, we live in an era of natural disasters and continue to see the human toll they take. I believe social media, writ large, make such events more personal to us all — a shared phenomena, even for those of us not on the scene.

When we start to see the images of these disasters, our first impulse is “go help.”

However, I’ve also learned from writing about these disasters (and having one occur in my hometown) that it’s always better to give the local citizens and experienced officials and non-government agencies a few days to address the immediate needs and to assess what the longer-term needs will be.

As I’ve written before, in the first days of any disaster, for those of us not on the scene, the best way we can help is always: first, send money.

This is especially true when a disaster is so widespread as Hurricane Sandy appears to be.

Personally, and because of advice I’ve been given by individuals who have been on the front lines of such disasters, I contribute, in a designated way, to the Salvation Army as it is supposed to be one of the most efficient ways to support first-responder, essential needs efforts.

Of course, there are many groups through which you can make such contributions.

Scott Adams’ Trump Prediction Update

dilbert_character_top-89a98cb02f28bb33abaea4fd2068728cScott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, is the only person I’m aware of who, at the beginning of GOP primary season, said that Trump would win in a landslide. If I had not observed Adam’s insight into the economy previously on his blog, I would have dismissed his prediction. While humorous, his theory rang true because it was based on his belief that Trump had superior persuasion skills because he was willing to lie about anything and everything. His prediction obviously held together through the primaries.

Yesterday, however, he shifted his prediction.


Quote from Scott Adams:

“For background, I endorsed Hillary Clinton (for my personal safety) but I’ve been predicting since last year that Trump would win in a landslide because of his superior persuasion skills.That situation changed this summer when Clinton abandoned her losing strategy of sticking to reality. Apparently the Clinton campaign now has help from some of the world’s top Master Persuaders, including, I believe, the one I call Godzilla. It seems that these highly-skilled influencers advised Clinton to steer clear of facts and reason and scare the hell out of voters by painting Trump as a thin-skinned, unstable racist. That approach is working.”


(UPDATE, 8/11 p.m.) Today, I’ve been thinking about Adams’ observation (or theory?) that, in essence, whoever can be the boldest-faced liar is a better persuader and thus, is more likely to win. If that’s the case it explains how Trump’s latest seemingly self-destructive claim that Obama and Clinton are the founders of ISIS is not wacky, but brilliant.

No, really, Obama really is saying this. Literally, not metaphorically. Not, “ISIS was created as a reaction to…” But that Obama and Clinton literally started ISIS. Even when conservative radio talkshow host Hugh Hewitt, a Trump endorsers, gave Trump three chances to correct what he meant to say, this is what he said:

Trump: “No, I meant that he’s the founder of ISIS, I do.”

Hewitt: But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.

Trump: I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that—that was the founding of ISIS, OK?

Hewitt: (Obama and Clinton) screwed everything up. You don’t get any argument from me. But by using the term ‘founder,’ they’re hitting you on this again. Mistake?

Trump: No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it…You’re not, and let me ask you, do you not like that?

Hewitt: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.

Trump: Well, I disagree.

In other words, Trump is doing his best to get back the Scott Adams vote.

Who is Winning Between Upshot and FiveThirtyEight (Answer: We Are)

In the battle between FiveThirtyEight.com and NYT’s Upshot, we are the winners.


538FiveThirtyEight.com

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NYTimes.com Upstart


There is a great battle taking place. I’m not talking about the race for President. I’m talking about the battle over which website is best at using election-oriented explanatory graphics (or “data journalism”)–NYTimes.com’s Upshot or ESPN.com’s FiveThirtyEight.com?*


Currently, users of both sites are winning because both sites are using Edward Tufte-inspired methods of displaying real-time trends and variations. (Tufte is a Yale professor emeritus who thinks PowerPoint is evil and passionately dislikes the cartoon illustrations with numbers that are popularly called infographics.)

2016_Election_Forecast___FiveThirtyEight 3Here’s an example of a Tufteian influenced display of data found on 538. When one typically sees a Red and Blue map of the U.S. that shows which candidate is leading in each state, the map adheres to a geographic display.

2016_Election_Forecast___FiveThirtyEight 2However, because each state, thanks to the Electoral College, has a say in the election based primarily on its population, that key data point is ignored when the map is displayed geographically. A more insightful way to display a Red and Blue map is this way, as demonstrated on FiveThirtyEight.com.

Another impressive use of data journalism is the way in which Upshot displays the ever-changing “paths to victory” that each candidate has to victory. (below)

nytimes-pathsThis is perhaps the most revealing display of the daunting challenge Trump faces that I’ve seen. Using the current assumptions from Upshot’s forecasting model applied to current data, Clinton has 998 paths (or 97% of the ways) while Trump has only 24 paths (or 2.3%).

*There’s a lot of history between Nate Silver (founder of fivethirtyeight.com) and the New York Times. I’ve never had much interest in such back-stories. However, competition is a good thing.