Welcome! This is the place I write about Things I Notice in my daily walkabouts as well as what I might think about things in my world.

Postcard from the Edge - Polls

Polls are magical methods of maniacal prophesy used by politicians and news people to generate a buzz. I have a hazy memory from a statistics class I took back in the dark ages that a sampling of only 1,016 people could accurately predict what our entire country would do in whatever circumstance the poll was prophesizing. I was a little troubled by that and really wanted to actually see those 1,016 people...were they like me, were they all different from me except for maybe one (hopefully), did they live close by, do I know any of them?I am aware that many "algorithms" for polls exist and that pollsters have various reputations as to accuracy and fidelity. Or not. I'm reasonably certain that when I was young and polls were taken, some pleasant person would call the house, talk to one of my parents and elicit the information required for the poll. Of course, in the home I grew up in, no questions on politics would be answered...anything else, all cool...politics-no. I never knew who my dad voted for or who he even supported in an election. I assume he voted Republican because he was registered as one but other than registering and voting, he participated in nothing and said nothing to indicate which way he would vote.  He said it was no one else's business how he voted. We were not a good demographic for pollsters.So how do they gather their sampling information for polls today? I still have an old fashioned "land line" but I do NOT answer calls from any number or person I don't recognize in the caller ID. We probably get 4 or 5 phone calls a day; we get an average of one call per week that is actually for us from someone we know. I don't think I'm alone in this. So how do pollsters get their info? Surveys on the web? "Likes" on a Facebook page? Number of tweets with a certain hashtag? Some science probably exists that is reasonably accurate but I'm going to guess (this is a PURE guess, no polling has been done!) that the old margin of error of plus or minus 3% is probably actually closer to plus or minus 20%. I posit that's because people are so polarized that the margin for error is no longer the outliers on the issue or demographic errors, but rather the pollster's inability to determine what demographic represents the middle or moderate position, e.g., the same response will always be given in a demographic zone.  Two significant opportunities may present to opinion manipulators when this happens: (1) the actual tide of opinion is masked because no representative demographic can be defined, or (2) demographics and issues are polled to suit a predetermined solution. Alternative (1) would allow something to happen to "the system" with little if any warning. Trump's election is an example. Alternative (2) would allow, among other things, the pollsters to craft the end result of the opinion by shaping the information and presentation of that information, also called propaganda.So what's the answer? Believe it or not, I think it's the press and specifically the newspapers. Not TV.  The networks, like CNN, Fox News, etc., have to keep our attention, there must be a "thing" that keeps us attracted...like a moth's lightbulb. But, like a sugar fix, the attraction is short lived and so something else must follow shortly thereafter. And then again. And again. And again. And...if they can keep the content focused on what the audience WANTS to hear, so much the better. Not news but self validation. Newspapers have a more difficult row to hoe. They have the same sales issues but they don't have the 24x7 access and hence the requirement to titillate every 30 seconds like TV must do. Newspapers must dig, and dig, and then confirm, and then double confirm. Some do not, some will not, but many do. The press is imperfect. I'm okay with that, I have the option to read from many sources, and I do.I think that polls have lost their relevance except among the talking heads. Perhaps a new method is on the horizon that will capture the true demographic posture of America but until then, the only relevant poll to me is the ballot box tally.I took the shot below at Reagan National Airport. Many changes will be happening over the next few years to this airport. The building truly is an architectural joy that exudes comfort and the spirit of Jefferson's Monticello. I think the plan is to close much of this part off to the non-flying public, only passengers will be allowed in this part of the facility.Reagan National Airport - Washington, D.C.

Postcard from the Edge - Peoples Climate & The Environment

Cold Weather!! Yuk...