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The most awesome things on the Internet, Installment One

October 21, 2011

"I want Districts Four and Five to be 59% Obama seats, with ME as the centerpiece of either campaign - feck-all which one - and make me look fecking indispensable and fecking benign, and I want District Six to be fecking Albany or some bullsh!t, not a fecking fair-fight toss-up deepshite COCKUP!"

It’s a big internet out there, and occasionally, we need guidance to aid our quest at sifting through the inert ingredients to get to the fine, fine science. Here’s a few sites that can make life a bit more entertaining, especially if you are amongst the magnificent bastards out there freezing your bums off for the working class.

One note – Link #1 features excerpts of a British television program, but it ain’t Downton Abbey (or “Cougarton Abbey“). If you aren’t ready for a firehosian Scottish avalanche of profanity, skip to the far-more-demure #2.

1. Malcolm Tucker “best-of” clips, YouTube, etc. If you haven’t caught a single episode of The Thick of It, or a minute of the brilliant 2009 film In The Loop, you are likely shrugging your shoulders in confusion and this foul-mouthed miscreant will likely make little sense out of context (To be fair, unless you can comprehend a Scottish brogue, he might make as little sense even in context). However, there are words that do not need translation or fancy subtitles, especially when yelled into crappy cellphones or through plate-glass office walls.

I also recommend “his” column chronicling the 2010 UK elections in The Guardian. Let’s just say that if you like your political analysis to be a bit measured, sentences like

“OK look, I’m knackered. I’m as cranky as Janette Krankie was when she found out there was a new Jimmy Krankie auditioning and stayed up all night doing crank.”

and

“Finally. Just a note regarding the repeated claim that this is going to be at some point the dirtiest election campaign in history. Please, can people stop saying this shite to me unless they mean it, because you know how excited it gets me.

Regards, Malcolm.”

might not be for you.

2. Dave’s Redistricting App. Where Maps and Politics Collide! No, Dave Bradlee does not use that awesome tagline, nor does he adhere to the pre-Apple abbreviation-branding nomenclature I once advocated like a quixotic Sisyphus youknowthedrill. Spurred by the question, “What would result if ordinary Americans were provided the opportunity to craft the congressional maps for their home states?”, he compiled the GIS shapefiles of every electoral precinct and its accompanying demographics and uploaded them to an easy-to-use tool for crafting your own districts. Several states have electoral data, so if you want to channel your Inner Phillip Burton or Inner Tom DeLay, you can assemble electoral delegations to match your ideology. Think every California district should mirror the statewide partisan lean of +15 towards the Democrats? Boom! 53 seats where Obama received at least 59% of the vote. Wanna pack all of Ohio’s liberals into 4 of the state’s 16 seats, freeing up the rest for the Republicans? Got 15 minutes? Here’s 12 seats where McCain got at least 53%.

If you are curious about how the state’s legislative maps can also be gerrymandered to hell ‘n back, Dave’ll let you adjust the number of districts from a Kreayshawn-approved One Big Seat to one that’s Full Of Bad Bii -er Representatives. The handy tables framing the map will tell you how many voters your district needs to be complete, and where it stands in partisan composition. You can download the precinct data in excel form, and change the district assignment to make all kinds of crazy maps, like one where I compared voter turnout in 2010 to candidate preference in 2008 for Minnesota.

The beauty of this website doesn’t merely fall within its entertainment value (if your crew is busy and your significant other has homework, there are worse ways to spend a Friday night than a couple of Lagunitas Pils, the latest release from The Weeknd and Dave’s App…um, so I’ve heard). It’s greatest contribution, outside of bringing terms like bacon-mander into the lexicon, is the subliminal criticism of the redistricting process itself. Let’s return to the Jayhawks’ old out-of-place Ohio, the Heart of It All. If you’ve followed politics at all during the last decade, you’ve likely heard that the Buckeye State is quite swingy in its partisan preference. From 2004 through 2010, the difference in vote for Congressional candidates of the two main parties (sorry, Constitution Party, you can eat shite) was less than one percent. But Dave’s App shows us that Congressional district lines can be drawn to basically guarantee a 12-4 Republican advantage, or an 11-5 Democratic edge (the Democrats are too intermittent in their voting habits to quite pull a 12-4). In so doing, Dave allows us to see for ourselves the folly of allowing a partisan electoral body to determine who gets to serve within a partisan electoral body. Way to go, Dave.

I’ll throw some more greatness at you in the near future.

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