Sunday, November 9, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish

All right, everybody. In the next few hours, I'll be taking this blog offline for its aforementioned indefinite hiatus. It may return at some point in the future -- probably with a different name than "Ash Blog Durbatulûk," which was a good concept, but which doesn't work all that well in practical reality (particularly when people ask me in casual conversation, "what's the name of your blog?") -- but I have no definite plans at this point. At a minimum, I intend to take at least a few months off. Certainly, we'll be into the Obama Administration before any possible blog restart.

My Photoblog will remain active (indeed, it will probably become more active), and I encourage everyone who wants to keep in touch with me to bookmark it. That blog has comments, just like this one, so readers who want to keep chit-chatting about politics or whatever can do so there. In addition, if and when I restart a commentary blog, I'll certainly post a link on the Photoblog. I'll also probably promote my NCAA Pool there, come March, if I still don't have a commentary blog at that time.

Those wishing to keep in touch may also want to friend me on Facebook, which is probably where I'll post any commentaries or rants during my hiatus (about politics, the BCS, whatever) that I just can't keep to myself. :) I'll also promote my various contests there, of course.

My Weatherblog will also remain active, at least until the end of November.

But the Linklog and The One Blog will be going away, at least for the moment. (Archives will still be accessible, of course.) Thanks to everybody for your readership and your participation in discussions here. It's been fun. If you'd like to receive an e-mail notifying you if/when I restart a commentary blog, please sign up below:

I promise I won't abuse the information, like by selling your e-mail address to the Office of the President-Elect. :)

I'll leave you with a trio of pictures showing the gorgeous view from our new place in Denver:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Final college football open thread

Considering that this blog will be going on hiatus in the next couple of days, this will be the last college-football open thread of the season. That's the one thing I regret about the timing of my blog shutdown: I won't be able to talk about all the BCS drama here during the final weeks of the season. But, as Becky says, there's always something. If it's not the election, it's college football, or it's college basketball, or it's the inauguration, or it's... etc., etc.

But anyway, Week 11 is underway. Most surprising score so far: Tennessee is losing at Neyland Stadium, on homecoming, to Wyoming. WTF? I know the Vols are bad, but jeez. I guess it just proves that the Mountain West is a war!

Coming up next: #3 Penn State at Iowa. A win by the Hawkeyes would be very, very helpful to the cause of all the one-loss teams (including USC, though I don't think the Trojans have much of a chance at this point, given how things are shaking out in the SEC and Big 12).

Later: Notre Dame at Boston College and #21 Cal at #7 USC, both at 8:00 PM. Alas, we don't actually be able to watch the 'SC game here in Denver; we get #9 Oklahoma State at #2 Texas Tech instead. Harumph!



UPDATE: With Iowa's win over Penn State, it now looks awfully likely that the BCS title game will pit the SEC champion vs. the Big 12 champion. Florida and Alabama are all set for the SEC title game, and barring any upsets in their remaining games (Florida vs. South Carolina, vs. The Citadel, and at Florida State; Alabama vs. Mississippi State and vs. Auburn), that will essentially be a BCS play-in game. Best-case scenario for USC: Florida loses to FSU, then beats Alabama the next week, leaving the SEC without a title contender.

Outside of that, USC's best hope is for the Big 12 North champ to pull an upset in that conference's championship game, thus potentially opening up a spot in the BCS title game for the Trojans. Even then, though, it's conceivable that a one-loss Big 12 South runner-up could sneak into the title game ahead of 'SC -- particularly if it's Texas, whom the computers adore. Last but not least, there's undefeated Utah, which I still think has a serious case vs. USC, if it comes to that. But it probably won't. If USC wins out, and if Penn State can beat Indiana next week and Michigan State in its finale, and if Oregon State loses at some point, I'm thinking we're looking at a Trojans-Nittany Lions Rose Bowl. (If Oregon State wins out, then USC probably ends up in the Fiesta Bowl, or perhaps the Sugar Bowl.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kevin Curran wins Electoral College Contest

Kevin Curran, better known on the blog as "kcatnd," clinched victory in the Electoral College Contest when Barack Obama was declared the winner in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district today.

Curran, a 2007 Notre Dame alum, has 527 points out of a possible 538, putting him one point ahead of the eleven contestants tied for second place with 526. Curran -- a native of Nebraska -- earned that decisive point by correctly predicting that Obama would prevail in the district surrounding Omaha.

Although Maine and Nebraska have long allocated their electoral votes partly by congressional district, this is the first time either state has ever actually "split" its votes. It's also the first time since the LBJ landslide of 1964 that any Nebraska electoral votes have gone to a Democrat. Curran was one of 22 contestants in the 86-person Electoral College Contest to predict Obama's win in the 2nd CD.

Curran has a perfect map with the exception of Missouri, which John McCain appears poised to win, though the state has not yet been "called" by various media organizations. If Obama pulls an unlikely comeback and wins Missouri, Curran will finish a perfect 538-for-538, as Mike Wiser did four years ago. But Curran will win the contest regardless of the outcome in the Show-Me State.

Assuming McCain holds on in Missouri, there will be eleven contestants tied for second place in the Electoral College Contest. In apparent tiebreaker order, pending final popular-vote results, they are: Jason Gilman, Andrew Hunter, Jenn Pease, Sean Wilkinson, Samuel Minter, Patrick Cullen, Alec Taylor, Ken Stern, dcl, Joe Loy and Roger Snyder. They each got one state wrong (Missouri, in Gilman's case; Indiana, in everyone else's), plus the Nebraska CD.

Everyone else in the contest got at least two states wrong.

Complete, detailed standings can be found here. A more succinct overview of the standings is here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nerdiest. Thing. Ever?

An a capella tribute to John Williams, setting various of his most famous movie themes to Star Wars-related lyrics, performed by one guy in four different synchronized video clips:

Like the title of this post says... :)

(Hat tip: David K.)

Obama vs. Kerry, by county

The New York Times has a neat map showing where Obama outperformed Kerry, and where he underperformed him, county by county nationwide. To see it, click here, then click "Voting shifts."

Basically, outside of Arizona (McCain's home state) and Massachusetts (Kerry's home state), Obama did better than Kerry almost everywhere in the country -- except for heavily-white areas of the South and Appalachia. In some of those places, Obama did substantially worse than Kerry. Large swaths of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee are by far the most drastic examples of this trend.

Meanwhile, look how dark blue Indiana and Montana are! (I'm still floored that Obama actually won the Hoosier State.)

Time for a blog hiatus

Sometime in the next few days, I'll be shutting down this blog, at least for a while. I'll keep the archives up in some form (exactly how is TBD), but I'm going to disable my ability to update it, and go on a blog hiatus for at least a few months.

Back in September, when I announced that we'd soon be moving to Denver, I vaguely alluded to my intention to do something like this after the election. I said I'd provide more details later, but then I never did; I never elaborated on my plans. Sorry. That's largely because I've been so busy with other things, I haven't had time to think much about my blog plans, let alone write about them.

But, put simply (and with deliberate vagueness), for a variety of reasons, I think it's best for me to take a giant step back from my blogospheric presence -- no backtracking or half-measures this time, just a cold-turkey break -- and then see where things stand a while down the road, once I've established a new routine here in Colorado. I'm calling this a "hiatus," not a final farewell, because I might very well restart this blog, or start a new blog, or something, at some point in the future. For now, though, I need to take a break.

I will still have my Photoblog, Light and High Beauty; indeed, I will probably start updating that site more frequently now. So I certainly encourage everyone to bookmark that URL. But I know it's not the same thing as a commentary-based blog like this one. And given that five minutes is an eternity on the Internet, nevermind five months (or whatever), I recognize that I'm basically kissing the vast majority of my regular audience goodbye by doing this. C'est la vie. I'll miss you guys, I really will. But I feel that I gotta do this.

Hopefully I can get a lot of you to come back, if and when I do start things back up again. Indeed, to facilitate that eventuality, if you'd like to receive an e-mail notifying you if/when I start blogging again, please sign up below:

I promise I won't abuse the information, like by selling your e-mail address to Barack Obama or whatever. :)

Because I'm so busy (the movers arrived today, so now the unpacking begins in earnest, plus I've got a ton of other stuff to do between now and Sunday), this blog probably will not have the elaborate sendoff that Irish Trojan did back in June. Indeed, blogging may be rather light between now and the big goodbye. I'm afraid Ash Blog Durbatulûk may go out with something of a whimper. That stinks, but again, c'est la vie. I'm committed to doing this before Monday.

Even after I pull the plug, I'll still have some sort of a bare-bones homepage at, with links to my Photoblog and to whatever else is still online -- like, for example, the Electoral College Contest standings, which I will continue to update as the results come in. (Apropos of which, never fear: if nothing else, I will still have an NCAA pool in March, as always. And it will be linked from my homepage.) isn't going anywhere. But The One Blog and the Linklog will no longer be active, and they will not be replaced, at least not immediately.

I'm thinking either Saturday or Sunday for the final shutdown, but since a lot of readers only view this site on weekdays, I wanted to post this now -- and, in so doing, I wanted to thank you. You guys are great. The back-and-forth with the audience, and just the general sense that what I write is being read and appreciated, is a huge part of what makes the whole endeavor worthwhile. Blogging here (and at Irish Trojan before it) has been a real joy. I'll definitely miss it, and y'all. But I need to mold my new life in Colorado around things other than the blog, and then, maybe, see how the blog fits into everything once the clay has hardened, if you will... if that makes any sense.

Anyway, now you know what's up. And now, I'm exhausted and must sleep. G'nite.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Question of the day

Will the Daily Show and, especially, the Colbert Report, be able to stay funny and edgy -- without alienating their leftish audiences -- now that the Democrats are taking over the government?

Suggested Drudge headlines

Poor Matt Drudge. He's spent the last several weeks desperately -- and blatantly -- searching for the slightest nugget of good news for John McCain, headlining obviously flawed polls while ignoring far better ones that didn't suit his agenda, careening wildly from one pollster to another depending on what the results say on a given day, and generally whistling past the graveyard as it became apparent to any objective observer that Barack Obama was almost certainly going to win. Now that it's all over, and Obama's the winner, what's a dishonest, partisan, quasi-journalistic hack to do?

Well, I figured, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I'd offer Matt some suggested storylines. Maybe you can add some others in comments. Anyway, here are a few that come to mind.

* The stock market is down today! Obama suxx!

* Obama's loss in Montana proves he can't close the deal.

* SHOCK POLL: Despite victory, Obama still less popular than Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Jesus

* Will there be a Bradley Effect among white Obama electors?

Obama wins Indiana; 19 still alive in contest

Obama was declared the winner in Indiana overnight, which I find pretty incredible. As a former resident of the Hoosier State, who voted there in 2004 when no one was under any illusions about it being a close race, I never fully believed the polls that showed it a tossup, because I never thought I'd see a Democrat win Indiana except in a sweeping, LBJ-type, 60-40-ish national landslide. And certainly, I never expected the Democrat who picked the Republican lock on Indiana to be a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. Remarkable.

[UPDATE: In comments, dcl writes: "I'm not 100% sold on the Obama wins Indiana thing. It looks like that is really going down to the wire. And there are a few mandatory recounts yet." Fair enough, but for now, I'm assuming the media calls are right.]

Also overnight, McCain edged out Obama in Montana. (Darn. Close, but no cigar, for my big upset pick.) So now, only three tossups remain: Missouri, where McCain has a slight edge; North Carolina, where Obama has a slight edge; and Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District (PDF), where McCain has a slight edge. Recounts seems possible in all three places.

(There is some talk of an Obama comeback in Georgia, where a bunch of early votes in Democratic areas apparently haven't been counted yet. But I think that's unlikely -- McCain leads by 5.4%, or some 200,000 votes -- so I'm going to continue to consider Georgia "red," and the remainder of this post assumes that McCain does indeed win it. Likewise, it assumes that Obama holds Indiana. If either result changes, everything below would be rendered inoperative.)

Anyway, the Indiana result eliminates most of the "perfect maps" in the Electoral College Contest. Only Kevin Curran and Jason Gilman still have a chance to go 538-for-538. But seventeen other contestants still have a chance to win, albeit with less-than-perfect maps.

Without considering tiebreakers, which I haven't even tried to calculate yet, here are the scenarios in the contest:

If Obama wins both Missouri and North Carolina, then Curran and Gilman would remain perfect, and the contest would be decided by Nebraska's second district! If McCain wins NE-2, Gilman beats Curran, 538 to 537; if Obama wins NE-2, Curran beats Gilman, 538 to 537.

If, on the other hand, McCain wins both Missouri and North Carolina, there's a five-way tie for first place, regardless of the NE-2 result, among Eric Bowers, Evan Vaida, Julia H., Mike Wiser and Ricardo Valenzuela.

If Obama wins Missouri and McCain wins North Carolina, NE-2 is again decisive: Jocelyn Mitchell and Mike Quinn finish tied for first if McCain wins it, but if Obama wins it, Thomas Haire wins outright.

Finally, if McCain wins Missouri and Obama wins North Carolina -- as currently appears most likely -- Kevin Curran wins the contest (despite missing Missouri, which is equivalent to other folks' Indiana error) if Obama wins NE-2; but if McCain wins NE-2, there's a ten-way tie among Alec Taylor, Andrew Hunter, dcl, Jenn Pease, Joe Loy, Ken Stern, Patrick Cullen, Roger Snyder, Samuel Minter, Sean Wilkinson and Jason Gilman.

President-Elect Obama

Wow. Woohoo! What a night.

As I go to bed, Obama leads 338 to 159 in the electoral vote tally, and 52% to 47% in the national popular vote. Obama has won all the Kerry states plus Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada -- and he may not be done. Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Montana, and Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District remain uncalled -- and, as a result, the Electoral College Contest remains completely up in the air.

Also uncalled: U.S. Senate races in Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon and Alaska. The Dems are presently sitting on 56 seats (including Lieberman and Sanders), a gain of 5 seats and counting.

Because Becky is sick, and thus I'm on baby duty tomorrow, I can't promise when I'll be able to update the contest standings and such... but I will certainly try to do so ASAP in the morning or early afternoon.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Election Night Liveblog, a.k.a. the "Mother of All Liveblogs." It was fun. Here's the archived version of liveblog (sans the simultaneous livechat), for posterity:

Yes We Can!

P.S. Oh, and way to go, Buffalo! ;)