16 November 2000


Discovery:  A Correlation

Disclaimer:  some of what follows is entirely tongue in cheek, although there are serious elements interspersed.

We've probably all seen the email jokes and graphics floating around on the net poking fun at those Florida voters who now claim to have "mistakenly" and "inadvertently" voted for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore (or mistakenly punched two holes).  It's unfortunate if some people did vote incorrectly, but it is also, I think, rightly a source of amusement that instead of being a little embarrassed (as many of them claim as the reason they didn't ask for a new ballot or other assistance at the time of voting) they are instead proudly exclaiming their idiocy in front of national television cameras.  I know when I do something stupid, I own up to it, deal with the consequences, and hope that everyone quickly FORGETS about it!

Some interesting data has emerged from exit polls (reliable to an extent for these sorts of purposes; not so reliable, as we saw, in making election night predictions) that suggest that the sorts of voters described above, and highly educated voters (graduate degree and beyond) tended to go for Gore in the highest proportions.  I've not figured out the variable that unites these two groups that would appear, on the surface, to be highly disparate.  But now I think I'm onto something, so please bear with me.  

There is a Political Science professor at UH who has fairly recently been recruited as a "name" to replace some of the prominent people the department has lost in recent years. (For those who don't know, I'm technically a grad student in the department -- registered for dissertation hours as I work on completing my dissertation, the only requirement standing between me and the Ph.D).  This woman has resurrected a Graduate Student email list that had fallen into disuse in recent times prior to her arrival, and sends out several emails per day describing guest lecturers who are visiting the department, paper deadlines, all sorts of things that may be of interest to full-time students in residence, but aren't really applicable to me.  I find many of the things she sends out quite inane, to be honest, and have blogged some of them -- hardly the publicity the department is seeking, I would think.

Well, on Wednesday, I got such a flurry of stupid emails from her that I decided I really didn't want to get them anymore, so I emailed her a request to remove me from her list.  No response.  Until Thursday morning, when I got more emails from her.  I sent another polite email asking her to remove me from her list.  No response.  At least not directly!  She cc'ed me on a note she sent to the director of the graduate program, which basically said "Is this student not a member of the program?  He's on the email list and has been asked to be taken off."  At which point, I thought -- this is absolutely absurd!  So I sent both of these people an email that stated much of what I said above very politely:  that I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful, but that I'm an ABD working on a dissertation and working full-time in a chosen career, and that I don't want these emails because they are less applicable to me than to full-time students in residence.  The graduate director wrote me a one-line email telling me he would take me off the list.  Since then, I've received two more "list" emails from the "name" professor, to both of which I responded by asking her to take me off her list, and pointing out how many times I had now asked her to do the same.  I guess if she keeps it up, I'm going to email the UH Information Technology folks and let them know one of their professors is inappropriately using state equipment to spam me.  Sometimes being nice is equivalent to fracturing one's skull on a brick wall.  

But I veer off topic.  I've gone to the trouble of telling this whole story so that I can conclude with this:  Prior to this episode, I wondered about the correlation in voting patterns between pro-Gore idiots in Florida who can't punch a simple butterfly ballot and highly educated intellectuals.  From my admittedly small sample, I now see evidence that both groups are, in reality, idiots!  They have no common sense!  Perhaps I should send a reply to the UH Political Science Grad Student email list sharing my findings!

* * * *

I've linked to the jpeg above because I find it to be just a wonderful, moving photograph, and I wish I had that kind of photographic skill.  It would be a good photograph if it were just a farmer heading to his truck after a long day of work on the farm.  For this to be possibly the next President of the United States, whose political future rests entirely outside of his control and now hangs in the balance, makes the story told by the photograph even more powerful.

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