Archives for posts with tag: politics

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BusinessInsider is reporting that California will be one of the states most dramatically affected by the sequester as it currently stands when it comes to education. The map above shows the relative amount of federal dollars for higher education that will not make it to each of the states. The more affected states are represented in darker colors. Unfortunately for my state, California is leading the way for this metric as well as several others.

Check out the map for more info, but a quick snapshot of California’s list of unfortunate accolades goes as follows:

  • $285 million cut for higher education (#1)
  • 707,560 students affected (#1)
  • 4,037 people

    could potentially lose their jobs in education (#2, Texas is #1)

Whether or not you agree with sequestration, the cuts to education seem to be universally reviled. California is a state that already has some of the greatest woes in the nation when it comes to education, ranking 48th out of 50 states in 25-year-olds with a high school degree or equivalency, and these deep cuts in federal funding are certainly not going to help.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! I mean, it is a pretty cool interactive map that BI was able to make! Maybe Congress and the President will find a way to solve the situation (or kick the can down the road, as they are wont to do) and maybe they won’t but at least we live in a world with the technology to understand the situation using such cool and interesting graphics. That should cheer you up, right? Yeah, me neither.



Happy Valentine's Day! Today's Google Doodle features a short film in which a boy wins a girl's heart by Googling different gift ideas. Of course, like any male in a cartoon, he gets it completely wrong until he finally gives up and inadvertently wins her heart by buying something that she already owned (a jump rope). It was cute but nobody cared about the cartoon until an image of two men in tuxedos popped up; you can see them bottom center in the image above. Does this mean that Google supports gay marriage!? 

Well, yeah. Google has come out publicly on this issue in the past, vocalizing their opposition towards California's Prop 8 and participating willingly in the "It Gets Better" campaign. With the Republican primary in full swing, the recent Ninth Circuit Court ruling against Prop 8 and the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military's rear view mirror, gay marriage has been back in the news and remains controversial in some areas of the country. Some might feel as though a company with Google's clout shouldn't be weighing in on such polarizing topics but, personally, I applaud Google for including imagery of same sex couples alongside imagery of an interracial couple and a more "traditional" couple. It's a pleasant reminder that in a year where Google is being criticized for it's "evil" privacy policies and "evil" business practices, that it's still a company made up of actual human beings. In this case, those human beings took a little time out of their Valentine's Day to support equal marriage rights for same sex couples, albeit ever so subtly. 

On the other hand, I cannot condone Google's support of intergenus and interplanetary jump roping. Everyone knows that trying to get a dog and a cat to jump rope together is a recipe for disaster and don't even get me started about the potential fallout of letting the aliens learn all of our Earthling jump rope secrets! Before we know it, we'll be taking home bronze in the Space Olympics! For a company that so bravely defends equality in marriage, you'd think Google would be a little smarter than that!

President Barack Obama is, once again, using Google AdWords to reach Americans. This time, Mr. Obama is advertising under keywords related to Goldman Sachs and their recent brush with the SEC. As you can see above, Mr. Obama's ad is displaying in the banner section of the sponsored link results with a message for Americans interested in learning more about Goldman Sachs and the SEC proceedings. If you click through, you are asked to enter your zip code. Once entered, you are prompted to send the following letter to your respective Congressperson, in my case, Jane Harman:

I stand with the President for health reform


I'm writing to thank you for standing with folks like me, not the insurance companies, on health reform. Passing reform will be hugely helpful to struggling small businesses and families in our district and around the country.

I wanted to let you know that voters in our state have pledged thousands of volunteer hours to fight for members of Congress who fight for reform.

I know that the final vote will be very close, and wanted to let you know that voters at home are standing with you at this crucial time for health reform.

Thank you.

At this point, I got a little confused.

First of all, didn't Mr. Obama already win the battle for health care reform? Second of all, what does this have to do with the SEC or Goldman Sachs? If you search around the site, you can eventually find Mr. Obama's thoughts on Wall Street in a video called "Holding Wall Street Accountable," but Paid Search 101 dictates that your keywords, ad text and landing page should line up; making finding the relevant content should be as simple as clicking the ad.

I support Mr. Obama in his forward-thinking plan to reach Americans who may be confused, angry or ill-informed about the current economic situation, however, I would ask that he make sure that the people handling his AdWords account try a little harder to deliver the correct content to the people searching for it. In hopes to be of service to my country, I've provided the video below. You're welcome, Mr. President!


Dimitar Kerin has a very promising career. Unfortunately, it's as a fake, online farmer and not as a city councilman anymore. Mr. Kerin's penchant for plowing his pixelated plantation has gotten him booted from the Plovdiv City Council in Bulgaria. It seems that he continued to farm away even after council members were warned not to use their city-issued laptops for games, even a game as boring as Farmville.**

So much for the argument that Farmville is stupid because there are no consequences… [Slashdot]

**Yes, I still play. No, I don't know why.


I got an email last night from Mountain West Research asking me to take a survey. It's a survey about California, its politics, the upcoming election and technology as an economic factor in California. Because I always complain about the statistics touted by talking heads that originate from surveys–often saying things like, "There's no way that many people prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate!"–I try to complete every legitimate survey that comes my way. You can't complain about the president if you don't vote, so, it stands to reason that you can't complain about shoddy statistics if you don't complete surveys, right?


The reason is because 93% of statistics are complete BS. See? There's a BS statistic right there! Seriously, though, there are lots of issues with surveys and the questioning methodology that lead to bad stats. The image above demonstrates a couple of big ones.

First of all, this is the most leading question I've ever read. The question should read something like, "Are you proud of California's participation in the tech sector in the past?" Instead, it paints a picture of California as a global leader in tech; it mentions the biggest success stories in tech (and none of the failures); it portrays tech as an economic boon to the states (and fails to mention that little bubble we had a few years back).

Is California a leader in tech? Sure. Am I proud? Absolutely, but don't make those who might otherwise say "No" feel foolish for doing so right there in the question! That's just bad data-gathering!

The second thing I hate about surveys like this is that there is no room for ambiguity. I think that it's probably fair to say that there are a lot of Californians that are neither bursting with pride nor filled with shame about California's history in the tech sector. Let's say you're one of these people. How do you answer? Do you choose "No" because, specifically, the emotion of pride does not adequately express the way you feel about tech in California? Do you say "Yes" because, now that you think about it, you guess it is kind of cool that Google is a California company, even though you never thought about it at all before? Why is there no third option for "no strong feelings" for this question?

I don't know for certain, however, based on the survey questions and the name of the firm (Mountain West Research), I'm pretty sure that the folks behind this survey are hoping for positive sentiments about the tech sector in California. Mountain West, CA, after all, is home to Google's main campus and next door to other Silicon Valley giants mentioned in this question. The sad truth is that, for the most part, all surveys come from biased origins because only people with a bias actually care enough to fund and distribute the survey in the first place. So, anytime you see opinion polls like this, just remember to take the statistics delivered with a grain of salt. My guess is that 19% of you will take my advice, 33% of you will ignore it, 35% of you feel like you didn't need it in the first place and 13% of you will go overboard and take such results with two or more grains of salt. I can't be sure though; I'm still waiting for the results of my survey to come back.