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The Internet Government Politics

The Votemaster Is...Andrew Tanenbaum 978

A reader writes: ", a site of daily updated maps of the US electoral college based on a number of polls is probably a site that the policially inclined check daily. Well, it has been revealed that the person behind the site, AKA the votemaster, is none other than Andrew Tanenbaum, noted author of numerous CS books." He's also known for a little discussion with someone named Linus Torvalds.
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The Votemaster Is...Andrew Tanenbaum

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  • Worldwide results (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ControlFreal ( 661231 ) * < minus distro> on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:18AM (#10685716) Journal

    From the other side of the ponds, the story is quite different. About 113,000 people cast their vote here []. In this worldwide shadow election: Kerry wins (77.1%), and Bush comes second at 9.1%. Surprisingly, support for Bush is largest in the Middle East (many votes from Israel?). Some hilarious (frightening...) responses by US citizens to this shadow-election can be found here [].

    Another initiative (about 20,000 people) is here []. Results will be published later today.

    It's logical that the results are different than those in the US. However, one wonders how much of a hint some (some) US citizens (especially those posting very harsh comments in response to these shadow-elections) need to realize that it's not just the US that matters in this world.

    Mod me flamebait, if you wish. But before you do, consider: it's not me delivering the criticism, it's 113,000 people (on behalf of a much larger group). I'm just the messenger boy here...

    • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#10685777) Journal
      Most of the electoral votes are in the heartland of the US. If you told an average person on the streets that Europeans want to see Kerry elected, the instinctive response is to vote for Bush. If you don't think Karl Rove is using this to the Republicans' advantage, you're on crack.

      We'll see the result tomorrow. I expect something decisive. No two elections are the same.
      • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:36AM (#10685933) Homepage Journal
        Heartland? Like California, Texas, Florida and New York???

        Quibble aside, the gist of your comment is correct. Americans have an instinctive tendency to go our own way, right or wrong. And most of the "up-for-grabs" electoral votes are in the midwest, like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
        • by wizbit ( 122290 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:41AM (#10685988)
          I think he meant the majority of Bush's support comes from the Midwest, where states like Arkansas and Missouri and Iowa, while contested heavily, will need to be carried by either candidate if they hope to win decisively. Bush's support in the deep south and western US (save the west coast) is not usually contested as these represent the Republican base.
        • Texas? WTF? In 2000, Gore won in only one county there. Brazos county, home of Texas A&M University, and a damn disproportionate conglomeration of college students.
          • by Don Negro ( 1069 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:01PM (#10686219)
            Which makes it really strange, since A&M is the most conservative public university in the country. It's also where W's dad has his presidential library.
          • Rare Reversal (Score:4, Informative)

            by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:05PM (#10686270)
            This Brazos county is one of the rare reversal of which the college community is predominately Republican and the nearby residential areas are Democratic.

          • by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @02:31PM (#10688770) Journal
            Texas? WTF? In 2000, Gore won in only one county there. Brazos county, home of Texas A&M University, and a damn disproportionate conglomeration of college students.

            Not true. [] Gore won several TX counties near the Mexican border.

            Also, a better site than Tanenbaum's for predicting the winner is here []. Sam Wang of Princeton University uses a statistical method for averaging all recent polls rather than rely on just the latest for his predictions.

            Personally I'm predicting a blowout for Kerry. This is based for starters on Wang's data. 2nd, last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews said that the exit polls from early voting in Iowa had Kerry 11 points up. 30% of Iowa has already voted. There has also been a huge early turnout in Democratic areas in FL, NV, GA, and NC. 3rd, a recent Zogby poll [] of 18-29 year-olds with cell phones gave Kerry 55%, Bush 40%. Every other poll I've seen is based exclusively on land lines, so if the 18-29 year-olds vote this year (and granted, they usually do not), the polls could be way off. Finally, Karl Rove's strategy is based on getting some 4 million more Evangelical Christians to the polls than went in 2000. Problem is that the size of this group may be a myth []. A devout Christian friend of mine invited me to a party Friday night with some of his church buddies. Not a group I normally hang out with, but I like being exposed to new ideas. Turns out this small sample favored Kerry over Bush by 50-40. A few were still very undecided (yes, even today there are still undecided voters in Ohio!). All of this leads me to believe that Kerry will clobber Bush.
        • by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @01:21PM (#10687508) Homepage
          If you always do the opposite of what those you dislike do, you're not really going your own way. You are just slavishly following others. That you're going in the opposite direction from them doesn't change the fact that you are a slave to their decisions. You're an "anti sheep" if you will.

          A true free thinking rebel has no problem doing exactly what the huge masses of idiots do, if he happens to enjoy it.
      • by SlashDread ( 38969 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:50PM (#10686961)
        I, as a European, want to firmly say:

        4 more years! We love Bush! All Europeans think Kerry is a lame-Americain! Boo Kerry!


    • by forgotten_my_nick ( 802929 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:28AM (#10685848)
      If you were to set up the same vote for say England you would be luckly to find many people in the US to know who is actually running against Mr Blair.

    • Re:Worldwide results (Score:3, Informative)

      by marsu_k ( 701360 )
      Another site (with over 450,000 votes so far) can be found here []. Currently only Niger and Pitcaim are in favour of Bush. No, I did not forget Poland ;-)
    • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:22PM (#10686508)

      So what? If you took a Slashdot poll of who the next CEO of Microsoft should be, you might find widespread support for some guy who would give away all their IP and then disband the company. If you took a poll of the shareholders, they would have a different opinion. Why would anyone need to poll 113,000 people to realize that third parties have different agendas than the people doing the voting?

      Even if foreigners are well-informed about the platforms of the candidates in a different country, why would they care about things like domestic issues or tax policy? Such people would have no interest in picking the candidate who would act in the best interest of Americans, but rather who would do things that were best for people in the poll-respondant's part of the world, regardless of whether the policies were good or bad for the candidate's own constituency. People in India want might more outsourcing, people in Japan might want America to run a bigger trade deficit with them, others might want to take America down a notch or two economically, politically, militarily, and so on.

      Consider this interpretation of your data: people who actually have to live under the administration they are voting for are many times more likely to support Bush than are poll respondants who are foist a candidate upon someone else's country from afar.

  • by jlrowe ( 69115 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:19AM (#10685727)
    Even before the 'slashdot effect', the site has been unavaiable. All morning.
  • Serious questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:19AM (#10685728)
    As I imagine the replies to this post will mostly be drooling fawning over Andrew Tanenbaum, much like the Jon Stewart/Crossfire article, I'd like to actually ask some meaningful questions. (And please note that I have great respect for Tanenbaum, but don't understand a couple of his central points, described below.)

    Why does running a statistical analysis website that gathers information on polls and aggregates them into something quasi-meaningful "support" the Democratic candidate?

    Yes, yes, I'm well aware that while incognito he had said on numerous occasions that he was a Kerry supporter, and a Democrat. But he himself says:

    Why Did You Do This?

    In a nutshell, because I want to be proud of America again.

    Meaning that Kerry can somehow make him proud again. Ok, fine, but what does running have to do with that? The question "Why Did You Do This?" implies that he is "do"ing something to influence people to vote in a particular way, which I simply don't see that website doing. In fact, other than the admittedly editorial sections of the site, I have found the site to be remarkedly unbiased.

    He then goes on, at length, describing/proving that the world "hates" Bush/the administration/etc. This comes as absolutely no surprise to me. However - and FORGET about "Bush" for a second - how does "hating" someone have any logical correlation with whether their positions or courses of action are appropriate or inappropriate? That would seem antithetical to the viewpoints of most progressive persons. That's a serious question, but I doubt I'll get any serious answers. And this is an important question, because the fact that so many abroad "hate" Bush, and somehow getting more Americans to understand that, is central to Tanenbaum's multitude of statements on the topic. Why does "hating" someone mean what they're doing is wrong? (I will concede that a leader of a nation being hated probably makes it vastly more difficult to do diplomatic work, but that is somewhat tangential to my core question.)

    The rest of this post amounts to what are essentially footnotes on this topic, but I believe are critical to the discussion of the belief that Kerry can somehow to a better job.

    So let's address these things. The world "hates" Bush, and Kerry can somehow not only fight terrorism more effectively, but will also bring respect back to the US.

    Sen McCain said it best [] yesterday on Face the Nation:

    "I also believe that President Bush has a vision and a view that the war on terror is not going to be over until we have some democracy in the Middle East, and I don't think he means by imposing that at the point of a bayonet. But I do believe that he's correct that the issue of radical Islamic extremism is not going away until those countries have some kind of freedom and democracy, and I think that's his long-term goal."

    Now, before you start spitting and sputtering about why the US is in "Iraq", then, well, reread that last statement. I'm not going to beat around the bush, as it were, any more: the US is in "Iraq" because it was an easy target in the region, period. Not because Saddam tried to kill Bush's "daddy", not because Bush is an angry dry drunk, and not because Cheney has a secret plan to line his pockets and that of Halliburton. This isn't a black-and-white zero-sum game where there is only one reason the US is in Iraq. There are myriad reasons. But the prime one is that it is part of a comprehensive, omnibus strategy to bring free or quasi-free governments to the region, in the hopes that more of the same will be encouraged, even as organizations like al-Qaeda redouble their recruiting efforts. This strategy will make things worse in the meantime. Possibly a lot worse. People will hate us. Including some people who will ultimately be protected by our actions (i.e., Europe).

    Panislamic radicalism will not go away on its own
    • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:26AM (#10685817) Journal
      The effect is real. It varies by election and by area. In some places (the Northeast) the effect can be as large as 6% of people who will apparently lie to you on the phone and say they are undecided or voting for the Democrat. In the Midwest it's less pronounced and the effect barely exists in the South, though i've never been very close to a poll done there.

      It has something to do with either the Republicans not wanting to answer the phone or alternatively not wanting to be judged by the pollster, i'm sure.

      Zogby talks a little about this in one of the FAQs on his website.
    • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by forgotten_my_nick ( 802929 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:34AM (#10685909)
      Nice long post. I can sum it up easy. While he is clearly a Kerry supporter, the polls are non-biased and based on existing polls.

      If you followed the site for some time you would see that. There is even a movie on the site to show you how much the polls have been swinging back and forwards.

      If anything his site shows how pointless polls are, or that the undeceided voter is completly clueless and changes their mind every 5 minutes.

      The only poll that really matters is tomorrows.

      On another note "600,000 Iraqis". Can you quote a source for that? The only figure I can find is for displaced and not killed under sanctions. Also you should note that Saddam was grossly inflating the deaths (especially children deaths) in order to try and stop sanctions.
      • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Informative)

        by bitingduck ( 810730 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:02PM (#10686228) Homepage
        The only poll that really matters is tomorrows.


        I live in a non-swing state, so I've been volunteering for some get-out-the-vote-in-swing-states phone banking over the past couple days, and I no longer believe the polls. People in swing states are getting so many phone calls that many of them no longer answer the phone, they put messages on their machine saying if it's a political call please go away, they hang up right away, etc. They are extremely popular right now, and most of them seem to wish it would all go away.

        On the few occasions that you do get a a live person, pretty frequently they say "this is my fifth call today, and someone just left the front door, would you please take us off your list". I apologize, and thank them, but because many of the groups aren't allowed to coordinate (or don't when they could), getting off one group's list doesn't help much.

        The pollsters are calling all the same people, and probably having just as hard a time. They have to make a lot of corrections for systematic error, and I would suspect that the popularity of the swing state voters makes their correction factors less useful than in a more typical year.

        Every once in a while you get someone who didn't know where to go to vote, or who needs help getting to the poll (which we help with). They make it worthwhile.
      • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Informative)

        by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:07PM (#10686305)
        If anything his site shows how pointless polls are, or that the undeceided voter is completly clueless and changes their mind every 5 minutes.

        I don't think polls are "pointless", but many people are very clueless about statistics (including, apparently, almost everyone in the media).

        The talking heads on the news regularly talk about how a poll has "swung" one way or the other. For instance, this morning a poll came out that showed Bush up by 2% in the popular vote, 48% to 46%. The day before they were tied, I believe at 46% to 46%. Everyone involved talked about this as a real effect even though the margin of error (MoE) in the poll was 3%! Statistical variation completely explains those two results, it is quite possible that voter sentiment didn't change a bit!

        Even beyond that, again by the nature of statistics polls are not as reliable as they are portrayed. The above mentioned MoE is only good for a 95% confidence level. In other words, there is a 5% chance that the reported numbers lay outside the MoE! So, it is best to view poll numbers with a very large grain of salt...

    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:36AM (#10685928) Journal
      On the whole, I think Tanenbaum's piece was extremely well written and captures half of what I think is the best pro-Kerry case (or anti-Bush case, anyway) that can be made. (The other half being the deficit.) One thing struck me, though, and reminds me why I'm still leery of Kerry.

      With a President Kerry, there is hope that other countries might contribute serious numbers of troops to help stabilize Iraq. With a second Bush administration they will just say: "You broke it, you fix it."

      Hope? If Kerry wins it tomorrow, he'd better have those unnamed countries who supposedly have divisions of combat-ready troops they're eager to throw into the Iraq meat grinder. In two days, he's going to be on the hook to actually do all the stuff he's been promising.

      • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @01:07PM (#10687252) Homepage
        If Kerry wins it tomorrow, he'd better have those unnamed countries who supposedly have divisions of combat-ready troops they're eager to throw into the Iraq meat grinder. In two days, he's going to be on the hook to actually do all the stuff he's been promising

        Actually, Kerry wouldn't take office until January, so he'd have at least a couple of months to come through with all that stuff.

    • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by benhocking ( 724439 ) <{benjaminhocking} {at} {}> on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:41AM (#10685987) Homepage Journal
      how does "hating" someone have any logical correlation with whether their positions or courses of action are appropriate or inappropriate

      I would guess that for many people the causal connection is backwards from what it appears you are suggesting. I.e., people "hate" Bush because they think that he his positions or courses of action are inappropriate. I personally don't hate him, but his positions and courses of action are why I'm voting against him. (Yes, I'm one of those many people who are voting against Bush more so than voting for Kerry. I've never been particularly partisan, but have always thought that respect for the environment was very important.)

      the US is in "Iraq" because it was an easy target in the region, period [and to bring freedom, democracy] ... This isn't a black-and-white zero-sum game where there is only one reason the US is in Iraq.

      I do believe that the reasons you've listed are primary reasons we attacked Iraq. I'm still undecided as to whether the reasons were sufficient. Saddam was an evil person, and only time will tell whether we've helped to secure freedom and democracy for Iraq or whether we've prepared the way for a worse dictator. (The US has a bad track record with this - think Khomeni, etc.) Nevertheless, I do think that there has been significant profiteering going on, (e.g., Haliburton), and that is very disturbing.

      An interesting thought experiment is to imagine what would have happened had we invaded Germany and removed Hitler instead of ceding the Sudetenland to him. People probably would have said we were overstating the threat, etc. Was Saddam as big a threat as Hitler? (Remember, Hitler had no WMD's either,) Maybe not. But if we had removed Hitler when he invaded the Sudetenland, Hitler wouldn't have been as big a threat.

      However, even if you believe we should have attacked Iraq, it is hard to believe that Bush followed a well thought out plan. I think a good diplomat could have bargained with France, Germany, and Russia and gotten them on board. I know that seems impossible now, but that's only because Bush has so alienated them that it's difficult for even them to imagine ever helping us.

      Of course, my number one reason for voting against Bush is because of the number of policies he has enacted that have rolled back the environmental policies enacted under Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton.

      • by mikeee ( 137160 )
        think a good diplomat could have bargained with France, Germany, and Russia and gotten them on board. I know that seems impossible now, but that's only because Bush has so alienated them that it's difficult for even them to imagine ever helping us.

        Oh, please. They were sitting on billions in defense and oil contracts ready to go when they finally got the UN sanctions lifted; and none of them have the logistics to put a really significant force (>10k men) on the ground in Iraq anyway.

        They won't suppo
    • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:48AM (#10686073) Homepage
      You have to ask yourself a very serious question: Is it the responsibility of the USA to bring democracy to the middle east?

      The rest of the world sees differently. It is not our responsibility to tell another nation whether their way of life is correct or not. Hell, the US has big problems of their own without fighting wars in other countries.

      It is this mentality that has brought the problems to the US in the first place, their constant meddling into the affairs of foreign countries. Hell, Saddam Hussain, Osama bin Laden and their cohorts are PRODUCTS of this meddling.

      The rest of the world is looking very cautiously at the actions of the worlds most powerfull country. Just like children look cautiously to the school bully. Because that's how the USA is percieved right now. A bully running around pushing other people out of it's way to get what it wants..

    • by caudron ( 466327 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:08PM (#10686313) Homepage
      how does "hating" someone have any logical correlation with whether their positions or courses of action are appropriate or inappropriate?

      I could not agree more. Saying you hate someone tells me something about you, not about the person you hate. People have somehow forgotten that.

      In this election, the word hate is being bandied about on both sides way too much. It's a dangerous word for what it implies about the American people.

      the US is in "Iraq" because it was an easy target in the region, period. [...] it is part of a comprehensive, omnibus strategy to bring free or quasi-free governments to the region, in the hopes that more of the same will be encouraged, even as organizations like al-Qaeda redouble their recruiting efforts.

      Again, I could not agree more. However, it's worth pointing out that this is not the reason given to us. If it were, and if the American people still stood behind the reasoning, then there would be a lot fewer protests. The ends do not ever justify the means. This administration forgot that when they lied to get us behind them on this plan as you've described it above. I voted for Bush in 2000. I will not vote for him in 2004 because he does not represent my views on how the American system of government works.

      I was raised to believe in an America that was literally for the people and by the people. I was raised to believe, however foolishly, that if we give people the power to govern themselves and set their own direction, they will progress as a community. When you take away that power (by taking away our ability to make informed decisions) you circumvent the people's will in favor of the will of the ruling class. I don't need a governmental father-figure. I need a government that facilitates my part in the "American experiment".

      I still believe in our forefather's experiment, even with all its failings and problems. We've made progress, and I expect we will continue to do so, but not so long as our leaders feel the need to patronize us with lies to facilitate their own goals and plans. They work for us. Let us never forgot that.
    • by toddt ( 731370 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:11PM (#10686352)
      Moderate, or reply? Moderate, or reply?

      Reply it is.

      Your comment makes some excellent points about foreign policy. Unfortunately, they're points that I feel you understand better than our president does.

      Yes, it's key to stop Panislamic terrorism. It's critical to our safety, to peace around the world, to a solution to the mid-East crisis. All that.However, our methods have, to put it mildly, sucked a whole lotta ass. We did a really, really fantastic job of just bombing the shit out of Iraq. We shocked 'em. We awed 'em. And then we alienated 'em.

      Instead of enlisting aid to actually secure the peace (rebuilding infrastructure, training Iraqi civil forces, promoting education), we chose to go it alone. Why? Because we'd be better at finding the WMDs without interference.

      But at the point that we'd won the war, the WMDs didn't matter! They made a reasonable excuse for invading, but after the war, they were pointless.We'd already invaded, we were now stuck there, WMDs or no WMDs. They really only mattered for political points. At that point, to really do good in Iraq, we needed to make it perfectly clear that we were *not* there as conquerors, that we were *not* there to stay, and that we were *not* there to subdue Islam. We needed to make rebuilding Iraq a collaborative, global effort. We needed help. And Bush did NOTHING to seek it out. That's why it's our boys who are being killed, and it's a big part of why terrorist recuiting efforts are so incredibly successful in Iraq today. (Yes, I'm forgetting Poland. I know.)

      And that's why Iraq is a debacle. That's a big part of why the rest of the world has come to really hate us. That's why I think voting for Bush is a mistake. Does Kerry have the solutions? Probably not. Certainly not all of them. But he's someone that the rest of the world doesn't actively despise, and that opens a lot of doors. We need help in Iraq if we're going to instill a workable democracy. Bush can't get it. Perhaps Kerry can.

      And all that's to say nothing of Bush's really miserable record on the environment and science. Stifling stem cell research? Ignoring global warming? Overruling EPA guidelines on arsenic and air quality? Come on, now...

    • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <sorceror171@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:13PM (#10686386) Homepage
      the US is in "Iraq" because it was an easy target in the region, period

      Easier than Afghanistan? If we'd stayed in Afghanistan, we'd have the same problem with insurgents moving in from other countries, but the native populace was actually sick of radical Islamic rule. Add in the fact that the infrastructure was already in a shambles (any improvement we could make would be dramatically better than the existing situation) and the reason it was in a shambles was because the Soviets had bombed the heck out of them... and the U.S. was the country that helped them. Not to mention the worldwide support for the invasion of Afghanistan.

      The insurgents would have had a lot less native support, and we'd have had a lot more international support. If we'd ponied up the kind of dough there that we are currently hemorrhaging in Iraq, the place would be well on its way to a stable democracy.

      Instead, we opened up a two-front war, in far less favorable conditions. The Bush administration vastly underestimated the amount and kind of resistance they'd face. Either that, or they flatout lied to rally support for it. Now that we're there, we have to finish the job, but it would be vastly easier with some international support for the operation, and that ain't gonna happen while Bush is in charge.

    • Re:Serious questions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:55PM (#10687035)
      ...the US is in "Iraq" because it was an easy target in the region, period. ...The US never went to Iraq for WMD (though we were justified in doing so for that reason alone, and probably expected to find quite a bit). Yes, in a way, it went for "oil".

      Interesting. Now, consider that the Bush administration used the supposed presence of WMD as its primary justification of the invasion of Iraq to the nation and the world. Unless you dispute that (and it's pretty tough to dispute after reading the transcripts of President Bush's speeches between Jan 2003 and May 2003), then we come to an interesting conclusion. Apparently, you are less concerned about what a candidate/president _says_ his reasons are for doing a thing than you are concerned about what those reasons actually are. If you are correct that the U.S. invaded Iraq because it was a target of opportunity that would provide a platform for countering panislamic fundamentalism, then the WMD justification must have been both a smokescreen and a false statement.

      I call this conclusion "interesting" because many who support Bush (perhaps not including you) spend much of their time spouting about "character" and "lies". It's refreshing to see a true pragmatist abandon that tired moral rhetoric and attempt to justify support of Bush's policies and actions based on facts, self-interest, and logic. I happen to disagree with your eventual conclusion (that Bush's methods are sound), but I admire the process by which you reach it.
  • Minix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Draoi ( 99421 ) * <draiocht@mac. c o m> on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:20AM (#10685736)
    I wrote MINIX, the precursor to Linux, for example ...

    Interesting that Andy now refers to MINIX in terms of Linux, no? Considering that Linux is obsolete [] and all that ... ;-)

    • Re:Minix (Score:3, Insightful)

      Give the man a break. From a purely academic design standpoint, Linux *is* obsolete... and hey, AST is definitely an academic. But that doesn't mean he has to be ignorant to its commercial success. Proving once again that just 'cos something isn't beautiful, if it gets the job done, people will use it. :-)
    • Re:Minix (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] []> on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:06PM (#10686283) Homepage Journal
      Linux is obsolete in the same way the the internal combustion engine is obsolete. Yes, it horribly inefficient, has too many parts, and is a pain to design an exploit properly.

      But for whatever reason, ICEs move most people to work in the morning. It just happens to work REALLY REALLY well for the particular size vehicle people drive. Besides, improvements in computer control technology have largely rounded off the rough points of ICE.

      To a mechanical engineer, we all should be driving around in cars powered by turbines, or Wenkel rotary engines.

  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fname ( 199759 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#10685773) Journal
    I just read the votemaster description, and came over to Slashdot to submit the story. Funny. Despite being a small, self-run website, this is one I don't think Slashdot can even begin to take down (650,000 hits/day), although it's been the subject of DDoS attacks in the past. Being the computer wizard & all-around smart guy that Mr. Minix is, he's prepared for this by setting up backup site [] (just increment the number if it's down).

    Mostly, I can wait to see how Linus is inspired by this project, writes his own version and then invites the global electoral community to help him make it even better. Take that! (j/k)
  • Thank you Anerew. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macrealist ( 673411 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:23AM (#10685783) Journal
    If you haven't visited the Current Electoral Vote Predictor site, give it a try. The site is very interesting and his daily updates of the polls in each state is very interesting. The comments in his "News from the Votemaster" might infuriate the conservative third, but are usually insightful, and not pretended to be balanced.

  • by jusdisgi ( 617863 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:25AM (#10685811)
    ...maybe he shouldn't be running his webserver on Minix.

  • by KE1LR ( 206175 ) <> on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:27AM (#10685829) Homepage
    This site has been a fascinating read all summer long and Andrew has done an amazing job. As he predicted, I was surprised that such a highly respected and well-known CS person was behind it, I was expecting a team of grad students and/or an egghead professor of statistics or political science from the Midwest. :-)

    It was very enlightening to follow along as things went back and forth (with a sprinkling of DoS attacks on the site) and the Votemaster's analysis was always a good read. Kudos to him for a job well done.

    Now, for all of the US citizens out there, go vote.

  • High turnout (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suso ( 153703 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:29AM (#10685853) Homepage Journal
    I just voted this morning and there has apperently been high early voter turnout for the past few weeks. I'm almost more curious to see how high of a voter turnout there will be. If it hits 81.8% or higher, it will be the highest since 1860. []
  • Similar project (Score:4, Informative)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:31AM (#10685883) Homepage
    There are several similar sites using slightly different formulas. Another good one is here [].
  • by rfinnvik ( 16122 ) * on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:37AM (#10685939) was running Apache on Linux when last queried at 1-Nov-2004 15:33:26 GMT :)
  • by slykens ( 85844 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:39AM (#10685961)
    I've followed this guy's site for the last few months and I think he has recently developed a problem with his intellectual honesty.

    He is an unabashed Kerry supporter, not in and of itself a bad thing, but he is discarding poll results favorable to the President in order to show a Kerry victory. For example he claims to have averaged recent polls in Florida but a Quinnipiac poll from 10/27 thru 10/31 shows an EIGHT point Bush lead. How he ends up with a 2 point Kerry advantage with that in the average I don't know.

    Today is his worst showing yet, in my opinion, and he may be indirectly helping the President. If Kerry supporters believe their man is going to win and win big then voters who are not as committed may not show up to vote.

    Remember Karl Rove asking where the FOUR MILLION evangelicals were in 2000? If people think their man will win regardless of their vote then fewer people will make the effort to vote and strange things can happen.
    • by crazyfreakid ( 725264 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:48AM (#10686068)
      Slykens, he ALWAYS uses the poll with the most recent median date. He's currently using a Zogby poll with a median date of 10/31 in Florida, making it more recent than the Quinnipiac poll. He has explained this many times over the past few weeks: He only averages polls that have the same median date and polling length.
  • by jaylee7877 ( 665673 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:42AM (#10686001) Homepage
    I was in the U.S. for a couple of weeks, so I haven't commented much on ELECTORAL COLLEGE (not that I would have said much had I been around), but for what it is worth, I have a couple of comments now.

    As a result of my occupation, I think I know a bit about where politics are going in the next decade or so. Two aspects stand out:


    Most states are Monolithic Electoral Systems. Votes are tallied in each state and the winner of each state recieves all of the electoral votes for that state. Even if 49.9% of voters are for candidate #2, the 50.1% for candidate #1 means he gets all of the state's electoral votes.

    While I could go into a long story here about the relative merits of the two designs, suffice it to say that among the people who actually are in politics, the debate is essentially over. Micropolitics have won.

    The only real argument for monolithic electoral systems was performance, and there is now enough evidence showing that micropolitics systems can be just as fast as monolithic electoral systems systems (e.g., Florida 2000 never would have happened if we would have just counted up every American's vote and the candidate with the greatest percent over 40% would win) that it is now all over but the shoutin'.

    2. Portability

    The Micropolitical Voting system was made to be portable to other future democracies such as Iraq, Afghanistan and has proven that it is scalable to nation states as large as China and India, the Monolithic electoral system would involve much more work in creating districts, states, commonwealths, etc. to the point that it is really not worth porting and would need to be started from scratch.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not unhappy with the Electoral System. It will get all the people who want to turn Micropolitics into a true democracy off my back. But in all honesty, I would suggest that people who want a **MODERN** "free" nation look around for a micropolitical-based, portable political system.
    • by johndeeregator ( 549310 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:12PM (#10686373) Homepage
      The electoral college is not obselete. If we got rid of it, the presidential election campaigns would focus on the top five or ten population centers/media markets in the country, and effectively disenfranchise the rest of it. There is a reason why our forefathers gave disproportionate numbers of votes to smaller states--because they realized the danger of letting one particular geographical area or population center have control of the system.

      You need to remember that this country is (or at least, is supposed to be) a federation of states, and the president is supposed to be the representative of the states, not necessarily the people in them. People do not cast ballots for presidents -- states do. The states can decide the procedures in which they determine how to cast their ballots in any way they deem appropriate.

      If this does not make sense to you, think about the UN. You, as a person who lives in a country represented in the UN, do not get to vote for UN resolutions. Rather, your country's representative does.

      As for our congressional election system, I think that although the Senate should remain in tact, it would probably benefit the country to change the House to a more European-style parliament so that people outside the Republican-Democrat duopoly could actually have a voice.
      • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @02:24PM (#10688630)
        If we got rid of it, the presidential election campaigns would focus on the top five or ten population centers/media markets in the country

        Which would be so much different than the current system, where the campaigns focus on the top five or ten states in terms of available electoral votes -- which are based on population.

        Nobody will ever campaign heavily for the votes of people in North Dakota, even though with the weighting of the Electoral College a single person's vote in that state carries roughly three times the weight of that of a voter in California. Either with the EC or with direct election, it will still be more cost-effective to appeal to the voters in the large cities of California.
  • Ob AST (Score:5, Funny)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:47AM (#10686059) Homepage Journal
    Never underestimate the voting power of a country full of hax0rred Diebold voting machines hurtling down the highway of democracy.

    - Andrew S. Tanenbaum, 2004.

  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:50AM (#10686093) Homepage Journal

    Professor Tanenbaum has a lot of cred with me for his MINIX work. His OSDI book was the first real taste I had inside Unix, and I've been hooked ever since. Over the years he's also shown quite a bit of ivorytoweritis, which shows that we are all prisoners of the mental environment we construct for ourselves. For instance, from TFWS:

    The U.S. media do a spectacularly bad job of informing Americans about what is going on in rest of the world.

    But he apparently misses the obvious converse, that the world media do a spectacularly bad job of informing the rest of the world what's going on in the U.S.

    The U.S. Presidential race this year comes down to who wins Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He thinks Kerry will win.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but he's been wrong before.

  • by hkb ( 777908 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#10686162)
    Why is it that everytime Andrew Tanenbaum is mentioned on Slashdot, the "infamous thread" must be brought up, and not much else? This man IS UNIX history.

    Tanenbaum was around looong before Linus/Linux. Before Linux even began, before Soft Landing Linux, those of us who wanted UNIX on our home computers used/loved Minix.

    Minix was the technology that sparked a lifetime love of UNIX for many a users, not just the younger Linux.

    Occasionally, I'll reflect on the beautiful blue console of my Amiga, on which I ran Minix off of 3 (as I recall) floppies.

    So please, let's not dismiss Andrew Tanenbaum's role in computer history. Remember that his shoulders are the giant's that Linus has been standing on.

    I can't wait to see what the people standing on Linus's shoulders come up with...
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:57AM (#10686177)
    I check every morning, and I was wondering why it was so slow this morning. SLASHDOT! Andrew Tanenbaum is a person that gives to society. Yes the world would be a better place if it had more Andrew Tanenbaums.
  • Meta analysis site (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:59AM (#10686197) Journal
    There's a rival site [] that attempts to use "meta analysis" techniques to crack that stubborn +/-3% margin of error. I'm not all that well versed in statistics, so I can't comment with any degree of reliability, but it might be worth a look.

    Predicted median with undecideds: Kerry 280 EV, Bush 258 EV
    Median outcome, decided voters only: Kerry 252 EV, Bush 286 EV

    The author of the site, Sam Wang, has published some of his methodology in the form of a matlab/octave [] script.
  • Polling (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jacco de Leeuw ( 4646 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:00PM (#10686209) Homepage
    AST: I understand polling well.

    Ha, but how about interrupts!? :-)

  • by Greg Larkin ( 696202 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:02PM (#10686240) Homepage
    Here's some interesting information from a previous Votemaster comment:

    The attackers have tried repeatedly to break in, but the server is a rock-solid Linux system which has stood up to everything they threw at it and hasn't crashed since I got it in May.

    The full Google cache of the page is here []
  • by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:07PM (#10686309) Homepage
    The site is slashdotted, so I'll giev you the text here:

    "Nader is going to win. In a landslide. A really big landslide. Really."

    Yeah, I was surprised too.
  • 2000 Redux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyranoVR ( 518628 ) * < minus poet> on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:13PM (#10686377) Homepage Journal
    If Bush loses the Electoral Vote and wins the Popular vote - as many are projecting because of the expected record turnout in states already "locked" (Texas, Georgia, etc.) - will Republicans still laud the Distinct Wisdom of our Founding Fathers as they did back in 2000? Or will they be calling for the abolition of a Wretched Anachronism that ignores The Will of the People?

    I wonder...
  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:17PM (#10686440)
    This site [] was around before, and in fact may have inspired it.

    Note that it predicts quite a different outcome. Also note that (like Tanenbaum) the owner is partisan - however he also seems to have a sane methodology.

    Just FYI... :-)

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:52PM (#10686982) Journal
    I first had issue with anyone who called a multithreaded filesystem "a hack" and his mean spirited flame war with Linus looked uncool.

    Sure, you can disagree with many issues but there needs to be an open mind in the scientific and academic community. Flaming others is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Especially when he told Linus "You would not get good grades in my course..." kind of proves that.

    He tried to explain himself later on slashdot saying he merely disagreed with him but I was not too sure. is an awesome site that I find truly non biased. I go there every day being a political junky. For those who say he is liberal all I have to say is look at his past entries? When Bush was ahead after the RNC liberals accused him of being a Bush sheep.

    What kills me is he using Linux and not Darwin, AIX, or MacOSX which are "not obsolete". :-)

    I think Linus has the ultimate say now in the flamewar contest.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.