File This Under: A Five-Letter Word For Possible Nerd Bias

So Gawker has a great post about whether the frequent mentions of Obama in the New York Times Crossword puzzle is bias or short-sweet-and-heavily-vowelled convenience: While “Obama” has appeared as an answer several times, the Republican candidate hasn’t been honored once. What’s the Times’ excuse? “It is because ‘Obama’ is a five-letter name that alternates vowels and consonants,” a spokeswoman tells Politico. “It’s got three vowels out of five letters, starting and ending in vowels. So it is much more crossword-friendly than ‘McCain,’ which is a harder word to put in a crossword.” I’m going to give the NYT the benefit of the doubt here, but the story really tickles my nerd bone. Read the full Gawker article here. What’s a six-letter word for my feelings on the upcoming election? Answers in the...

Political Physics: Did Obama Flip or Flip-Flop?

/ A blogumn by Monique King-Viehland Obama Declines Public Financing – Is he pulling a John Kerry? The public financing system for presidential elections was established by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.  It consists of three distinct components: partial public financing in the primary election; public funding of the presidential nominating conventions; and full public financing in the general election. The spending ceilings and amount of public grants are adjusted for inflation each new election cycle. Public funds to pay for the program are derived through a voluntary $3 checkoff on a taxpayer’s tax return, which costs the U.S. Treasury, not the taxpayer.  Public financing was implemented to address concerns about the increasing influence special interest groups wielded in elections and to place nominees of the two major political parties on a more equal financial footing. There have been a lot of discussions regarding Barack Obama’s decision to decline public financing.  With his decision, Obama became the first candidate of a major party to decline public financing — and the spending limits that go with it — since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals.   John McCain jumped all over Obama’s decision, noting in a visit to Iowa several months ago that “Senator Obama’s reversal on public financing is one of a number of reversals that he has taken.”  Indeed, the media also concluded that Obama had “flip-flopped” because he had previously indicated that is he did become the Democratic nominee that he would pursue public financing if his Republican appointment did the same. So, did Obama “flip flop” on public financing? Maybe.  But I think the more important question is did Obama have a choice? Under the federal presidential financing system, a candidate this year would be given...

Political Physics: McCain’s Gas Math

. A blogumn by Monique King-Viehland Clear-headed political analysis while everyone else is yelling and screaming McCain Gas Tax Plan – Is that $28 Worth it? On Saturday I drove to an event in NYC at the Times Center entitled, “Women, Wisdom & You” (it was fantastic, in case you were wondering).  Now, if you know me, then you know I live in Trenton, NJ, so your first thought may be why didn’t I just take the train?  Let’s just forgive me for my extreme lack of green thinking on that day and try not to let it cloud your view in relationship to the rest of the article. On the way back from the city I had to stop and get gas.  I handed my credit card to the nice attendant (yes in NJ they still pump your gas for you) and watched the ticker keep going up as he filled my tank.  Now you should know I don’t drive an SUV, so it was painful to watch as the ticker went from 20.00 to 30.00 and then finally settled on $48.53.   I live less than 15 minutes away from my job, my husband, Brian, works from home and we have a new baby so we rarely go anywhere these days, yet we still average $300 a month for gas. So you’d think I would be jumping up and down at the thought of suspending the federal gas tax for any amount of time, right? Wrong. Several months ago, McCain proposed suspending the 18.4-cent tax on gasoline (and the 24.4-cent levy on diesel fuel) from Memorial Day until Labor Day.  His announcement came as crude oil futures hit a record $113.93 a barrel and the average price of gasoline stood at $3.38 a...