Milk and Moscone Online

Posted in news, politics, web at 11:57 am by danvk

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Moscone-Milk assassinations and, fueled by the upcoming release of the movie Milk, they’ve been all over the local airways.

For those not familiar with the basic story (I wasn’t before I moved to SF), City Supervisor Dan White quit his job, then asked to be reinstated. When Mayor George Moscone refused, White returned to city hall with a gun and murdered Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who happened also be the first openly-gay elected official in the country. Another Supervisor, now-Senator Dianne Feinstein became mayor as a result of these killings.

Dianne Feinstein announcing the deaths of Moscone and Milk

An NPR show yesterday included a clip of Feinstein giving a dramatic press conference announcing the deaths. Much to my surprise, an original copy of that night’s newcast has found its way online.

The Feinstein press conference is at 2:10. Listen to the gasps. The 70′s production is jarring to look at now though, except for the cars, the shots of San Francisco could have been taken yesterday.

I couldn’t figure out whether this is an isolated clip or part of a larger collection. How cool would it be if all of NBC’s old newscasts were online?


Presidents and the Market

Posted in politics at 7:35 pm by danvk

Here’s a list of presidents and the changes in the S&P 500 during their term. Since I don’t know the future of the markets, I put today’s close in for our current president.

Not to suggest that presidents have any impact on the stock market…

President End Date Close Change % Change Annual
G.W. Bush 14-Nov-08 $873.29 -$469.25 -34.95% -5.35%
Clinton 20-Jan-01 $1342.54 $909.17 209.79% 15.18%
G.H.W. Bush 20-Jan-93 $433.37 $146.74 51.19% 10.89%
Reagan 20-Jan-89 $286.63 $154.98 117.72% 10.21%
Carter 20-Jan-81 $131.65 $28.68 27.85% 6.34%
Ford 20-Jan-77 $102.97 $22.11 27.34% 10.37%
Nixon 9-Aug-74 $80.86 -$20.83 -20.48% -4.05%
Johnson 20-Jan-69 $101.69 $32.08 46.09% 7.62%
JFK 22-Nov-63 $69.61 $9.65 16.09% 5.40%
Eisenhower 20-Jan-61 $59.96 $33.82 129.38% 10.94%


The 2008 Tipping Point State

Posted in politics at 8:26 pm by danvk

One of the least understood features of Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com was his list of “tipping point states”.

I thought that, for each simulation of the election, Nate sorted the states by margin of victory for the overall winner. Then he’d start adding up electoral votes. The state that tipped the winner over 270 would be the “tipping point state” for that simulation.

While writing this blog post, I discovered that I had completely misunderstood this list! Nate describes the actual calculation of his list in this post. It’s quite involved, but better captures the intuition of a “tipping point state”.

Just for fun, I figured out what the 2008 Election’s tipping point state was using the methodology I’d originally thought Nate did. And it was… Colorado! Obama took Colorado with 54.40% of the vote, the 23rd most lopsided total. It takes him from 262 to 271 Electoral Votes.

Full list of states, margins of victory and electoral votes below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »