Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Big Data and Local Elections Part IV

Screenshot of 2010 Zip Code map from ECY WA . 98229, a recent zipcode addition, is dubbed in black.

This will be my last post with data from the 2012 Voter History Database. I will be analyzing the 2013 (almost through May) Voter Database soon.  This analysis shows that Whatcom County's substantial recent increase in the voter registration is being driven by youth living in 98225, 98226 or 98229 zipcodes. Although many people have registered to vote in Whatcom County, youth 25 or under in Bellingham are clearly becoming the most significant voting block.


No candidate who wants victory in any county wide or council office here can afford to ignore this voting block.  Anyone who is part of the voting population born in 1988 or later has come of age in the eras of the "War Against Terrorism", the massive build up of our military industrial complex, and the near collapse of our capitalism. The challenges this age group faces include limited employment opportunities, perpetual foreign wars, sky-rocketing energy prices, global climate change and nearly obscene political gridlock; all of these forces occurring in a society that clearly values decimal points in offshore accounts more than a functioning democracy or economic justice or anything at all that might be reminiscent of a "New Deal" or a "Fair Deal". To be frank, most of the voting age population between 18 and 25 are probably wondering quite simply: "WTF?"

Put yourself in their position. What type of candidate are you going to vote for? Someone mouthing platitudes designed to appeal to the problems of boomers? Of course not. If you are under 25 in America, you feel the  malevolence of the storm coming your way and you know that your generation is the most likely to be left out in cold after the rest of the world has plundered or squandered budgets, resources, and any opportunity left for lasting world peace. You might even reason that no one gives a rat's a-- about what happens to you and your friends.  So if you have enough hope and chutzpah to actually vote for a local candidate, what do you want to hear from them? This is what I would I be looking for if I were 25 (or 51 with two young kids..):

Someone that gives a sh*t about the future. Someone that can actually understand the complex numbers that will make a planet with 8 Billion people run efficiently in 2020.  Someone who is not just another conservative tool of fat cats or some wussy, co-dependent liberal.  Someone who gives you fact checked information that you can't debunk in five minutes on your smart phone or someone that gives you sound data analysis that you can't poke holes through on your tablet while you eat noodle soup for dinner. Someone who sounds like they can make real change happen. Someone who seems to authentically care about your future. Someone who sounds fearless and smart enough to make history change course.

Those are your character points, candidates. If you want the 30K plus college students in Bellingham (and many of the rest of us) to give you a vote, that's who you need to be. Data analysis follows after  the break.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Data and Local Elections (Part III)

These are more queries on the 2012 Voter Database. I will be receiving an updated voter database history soon.  These queries were achieved with PostgreSQL and the R Programming language, which are free, cross platform data analysis and RDBMS platforms. This software is fast, efficient, and fairly easy to learn.

Perhaps what is most interesting here is how much 'Bellingham' as a city dominates voter registration counts in Whatcom County.  I suspect that the voter registration forces each voter into one city or the other as Bellingham only has about 80K total population. Cities with over 10K registered voters:

 "Blaine"        | 10062
 "Lynden"        | 12607
 "Ferndale"      | 13566
 "Bellingham"    | 73671

Over 73K of the 126K registered voters live in these zip codes:

  98229 | 20120
  98226 | 26158
  98225 | 27393

Female registered voters outnumber males by 5K:

 "M"    |   60380
 "F"    |   65552

Only 15 out of 178 Precincts have over 1000 registered voters. Those precincts are:

 239        |      1003
 181        |      1009
 302        |      1013
 229        |      1015
 140        |      1022
 245        |      1044
 136        |      1061
 253        |      1063
 231        |      1068
 169        |      1088
 126        |      1104
 145        |      1115
 182        |      1150
 108        |      1181
 201        |      1217
 208        |      1239

Looking at original registration dates, we see the tremendous increase in yearly registration in recent years:

 date_part | yearcount
      2012 |     11795
      2008 |     10578
      2004 |      9533
      2010 |      6819
      2011 |      6689

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And the World Changed...last Thursday...courtesy Burnaby, British Columbia

BBN had a big contract to implement TCP/IP, but their stuff didn't work, and grad student Joy's stuff worked. So they had this big meeting and this grad student in a T-shirt shows up, and they said, "How did you do this?" And Bill said, "It's very simple — you read the protocol and write the code." John Gage on Bill Joy from Wikipedia
 Did you feel it last Thursday? The slight tremor creasing through the fabric of human intellectual activity that is our culture? Did you feel a moment of joy, wonderment, pause, excitement as you and the rest of our species simultaneously realized that a NASA/Google consortium purchased the world's first 512 qubit quantum computer?  You may not have noticed anything. Just like you may not have felt anything that day sometime in the 1980s when Bill Joy finished putting a TCP/IP stack on BSD.  Or that moment in 1945 at  Alamogordo.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fwd: No new fracking on federal lands

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Deb Nardone, Sierra Club <>
Date: Mon, May 20, 2013 at 5:57 PM
Subject: No new fracking on federal lands

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Dear Ryan,
No new fracking on public landsfracking drill rig
Send Your Letter

BREAKING: Just when you thought it couldn't, fracking in the U.S. is about to get worse -- and with government approval. The Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management just released new rules for fracking on our public lands that would give gas companies the right to drill without much-needed protections for public health. The BLM's new rules fail to require full public disclosure of toxic chemicals, baseline water testing or setback requirements of wells from homes and schools.

Fracking our public lands will affect millions of people who live, work and go to school near (or even above) the areas where leases will take place. It is unconscionable for the government to pass new regulations that are fundamentally inadequate to protect our health and safety.

Fracking is a dirty and dangerous process. The proposed BLM rules fail to take obvious steps to provide even minimal protections.

Tell the Deptartment of Interior's Secretary Sally Jewell that you support no new leasing on our public lands.

President Obama pledged to do more to combat climate change for the sake of our children and our future in his 2013 State of the Union speech, but the new rules will allow gas companies to place wells dangerously close to children and use toxic chemicals without disclosing them to the public. The Department of Interior's data on potential federal oil and gas leases in six western states shows that more than 1,400 public schools lie within one mile of potential drilling activity.

Help us send 45,000 messages to Secretary Jewell to show her that Americans don't want any new fracking on federal lands.

These rules are a gift to the gas companies, who met repeatedly with high-ranking officials before this rule was released.¹ The provisions help the gas corporations profit, while falling short in employing the most basic recommendations of the president's own shale gas advisory committee, which advocated for transparency, environmental safeguards and pollution monitoring for fracking. Without clear safeguards for public health, no new areas should be opened up to new drilling permits.

We cannot give the treasure of our federal lands -- which belong to all of us -- to the gas companies and allow them to continue expanding fracking. Tell Secretary Jewell and the Department of the Interior to put a moratorium on all new gas leases on federal lands.

Thanks for all you do for the environment.


Deb Nardone
Beyond Natural Gas
Sierra Club

P.S. If President Obama truly wants to tackle climate change, then he needs to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground as much as possible, and invest more heavily in true clean energy solutions such as wind, solar and energy efficiency. Natural gas is a dirty dangerous fossil fuel, not a climate solution!  Tell the administration: no new leasing. We must not use our public lands to generate more toxic pollution when clean energy alternatives are ready here and now.

P.P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues!

[1] E&E News. "White House huddled with industry before changes to BLM fracking rule," April 12, 2013.
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Sierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105 |

The Port of Bellingham Races

The filing date for the Whatcom County candidates has passed. Here is a list of the candidates.  The races I'm particularly interested in this year belong to the Port of Bellingham.  It is entirely possible that vast quantities of funds spent by the Port of Bellingham will do more to redefine our local economy than any other government agency. The Waterfront District development will continue to incur substantive public expenditures, large contractual obligations, and investment risk for some number of years. Thus the leadership and direction of the Port Commission will influence heavily all significant economic and social issues in Bellingham and Whatcom County. There are 75 port districts in WA. Each of these is charged in some way to contribute to local and state economic development.

The Port of Bellingham is no minor economic stage player.  Bellingham and Whatcom County sit strategically between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, WA., Alaskan, and Asian ports  Through our county passes volumes of cargo, export, energy, rail, trucks and other critical economic trade.  As one example, British Columbia to California export volumes are sometimes recognized as the largest dollar volume state to province trade in economic history. Both Seattle and Vancouver are large and growing cities. We are the West coast I-5 border to Canada, the Alaskan highway linkage, the last North American rail stop, our refineries the end run for Albertan oil pipelines, our county the transit point for BC Hydro exports.  Whatcom County is critical economic infrastructure. 

Given this vast flow of wealth, there really shouldn't be any poverty or want in Whatcom County. Full employment should be the norm, not shuttered, underdeveloped, and vacant downtown office space. There is enough wealth to create a truly prosperous community; a jewel of education, quality of life, and distributed wealth; a cosmopolitan and economic paragon.   I made a reasonable effort to find media linkage for  this year's candidates.. I could only find two candidates who have formal web pages and social media connections.
 (07/14/2013 - I have updated this page with Dan Robbin's links below.) Here are the current port races :

Port of Bellingham  

Commissioner District 1 

Dan Robbins

Renata B Kowalczyk

Commissioner District 2
Mike McAuley

Ken Bell

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fwd: Three votes

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Aaron Ostrom, Fuse Washington <>
Date: Mon, May 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM
Subject: Three votes

Three votes. That's all that stands between us and breaking the gridlock of Rodney Tom's conservative Senate. We need to put overwhelming grassroots pressure on swing senators to stand with working families instead of Tom and his special interest backers. Will you chip in $5.00 to support our final push for a progressive budget?

Chip in!
Dear Friend,

Three votes.

That's all that stands between us and breaking the gridlock of Rodney Tom's conservative Senate.

Tom's conservative senators have blocked progress on everything from closing tax loopholes for Big Oil and funding our kids' schools to ensuring equality in women's health care. Tom has dragged the Senate hard to the right, yet he maintains his grip on power by only a slim margin.

The final push starts today. Legislators are returning to Olympia today for an overtime session to pass a budget. We need to put overwhelming grassroots pressure on swing senators to stand with working families instead of Tom and his special interest backers. That's where you come in.

We're fighting online, on the ground, and at the capitol to close tax loopholes and break Tom's stranglehold on progress in the Senate. Will you chip in $5.00 to support our final push for a progressive budget? Click below to donate now:

Yes! I'll chip in $5.00 right now!

This isn't just a disagreement over policy– it's a moral issue. The Senate Republican budget cuts could double the number of people experiencing homelessness in Washington – a shocking increase of 20,400 people.1

That's just wrong, and we have to stop it.

We're gearing up for a 30–day sprint to the finish. It's up to us to educate the public and the press about the Senate Republicans' cuts to smaller class sizes, job training, and family health care. Here's an outline of our plan for special session to pass a progressive budget:
  • Knock on doors and make phone calls in target districts to mobilize support for a budget that puts our kids first.
  • Use viral videos and social media to spread the word about closing tax loopholes.
  • Educate legislators, reporters, and editorial boards about the harmful impacts of the Senate Republicans' all–cuts budget.
We're fighting online, on the ground, and at the capitol to close tax loopholes and hold Senate Republicans accountable. But we can't make it happen without you.

Will you chip in $5.00 to support our final push for a progressive budget? Click below to donate now:

Yes! I'll chip in $5.00 right now!

Thanks for all that do you,

Aaron and the entire team at Fuse


Want to support our work? Become a monthly donor!

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Big Oil is putting private profit ahead of our public health -- submit your comment for cleaner air today!

Big Oil is putting private profit ahead of our public health -- submit your comment for cleaner air today!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fwd: SEP Newsletter: The Dow at 15,000 and the social crisis in America

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Socialist Equality Party" <>
Date: May 11, 2013 12:55 PM
Subject: SEP Newsletter: The Dow at 15,000 and the social crisis in America
To: "" <>

World Socialist Web Site

Socialist Equality Party Newsletter

Below is a selection of articles appearing on the World Socialist Web Site last week. Six days a week, the WSWS publishes on all the major political, social and cultural developments. To sign up for the daily newsletter, click here.
Take up the fight for socialism! Join the Socialist Equality Party! For more information and to get involved, click here.


The 15,000 Dow

9 May 2013
On Tuesday, Wall Street celebrated a new milestone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed through the 15,000 plateau, setting yet another record in a dizzying climb that has seen the benchmark index rise by almost 15 percent since the beginning of the year.
It took just two months after recovering all of its losses from the financial crash of September 2008 for the Dow to breach the 15,000 barrier. It rose 1,000 points from the 14,000 level in just 66 days.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index also hit a new record Tuesday, having gained 199 points since January. The Nasdaq Composite index closed at its highest point since November of 2000. The manic rise in US stocks is part of a global phenomenon. The FTSE All-World equity index on Tuesday rose to its highest level since June 2008.
The current explosion of stock prices expresses two essent ial tendencies. First, the disconnect between the process of wealth accumulation by the corporate-financial elite and the creation of real value through the production of goods has reached unprecedented heights. A financial aristocracy is concentrating ever more obscene levels of personal wealth in its hands entirely on the basis of financial speculation and manipulation, while the real economy continues to stagnate and decline.
The stock and bond markets are themselves mechanisms for economic parasitism and the further transfer of social wealth from the bottom to the top.
Second, the fundamental drive of capitalism, as Marx explained 146 years ago, to pile up wealth at one pole of society and poverty, misery and degradation at the other, is operating almost without restraint. The current stock bonanza reflects an explosive intensification of class tensions.
In the midst of t he worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Dow has gained over 8,500 points, surging nearly 130 percent since it bottomed at 6,547 on March 9, 2009. That period of four years and two months has been an unmitigated disaster for the bulk of humanity, including the broad mass of working people in the United States.
The social disaster has worsened this year even as stock markets in the US and around the world continued their manic rise. Economic growth and job creation in the US have slowed from their already anemic pace, condemning millions of workers and youth to permanent unemployment or sweatshop jobs at poverty-level wages.
Unemployment in Europe, already at postwar record highs, continues to rise to levels unseen since the 1930s. With the economy of much of the continent contracting, unemployment in Greece and Spain is officially at 27 percent, and youth unemployment is nearing 60 percent. Economic growth is slowing in China and most other so-called "developing" economies, as governments turn to austerity measures and exports are hit by the deepening slump in the West.
The staggering growth of social inequality--with poverty, homelessness, hunger and desperation taking an ever greater toll among the masses of people, while corporate profits, CEO pay and the stock portfolios of the rich soar ever higher--is the result of brutal class war policies being carried out by governments around the world.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Big Data and Local Elections (Part II)

Examining voter registration as an predictive tool is a tricky process. Voter lists are notorious for their lack of accuracy due to voter relocation, morbidity, duplication; all of which leave your local county auditor struggling to keep their lists accurate. Nevertheless, looking at growth in new voters is potential marker of increased political interest. 

New voter registrations per year since 1992 are below. Whatcom County added ~ 40K to the voter roles for the 2008 - 2012 election years. 51% of these additions were from registrants 30 or under.  It is highly probable that voter discontent has translated to significant voter registration increases in Whatcom County, especially among 'millenials', some of whom may or may not be students. Boomers and GenXers have a substantial presence in the voter registration rolls here.

Examining the histogram bins of the Pre-War (WWII) generation voter rolls reminds us of a sobering reality.  Although recent predictions are for an older demographic in WA state, the truth is that morbidity rates in the U.S. turn up dramatically after age 50. The U.S. currently loses 2.7 M of its population each year. Where unintended accidents are the most common cause of death in the under 50 population, post 50 populations are hit hard in the United States by 'malignant neoplasm', 'heart disease', and nefarious other clinical causes of death. 

Click on the graphs below to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Big Data and Local Elections (Part I)

This sunny spring Northwest night I should be at the swinging corporate offices of Canadian high-tech wunder startup HootSuite in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.  HootSuite is graciously hosting an R Programming meetup for statistical graphing superstar Hadley Wickham.  Dr. Wickham specializes in "pracical tools for exploring data and models" like ggplot2 which he built especially for the R Programming language.  Why is this important?  Because we are now living in the internet connected era of very large data sets. And apparently the people who will die with the most toys in the future (or become elected to the  most powerful political offices) are the ones who will understand big data better than the rest.

But alas, I am not listening to Dr. Wickham tonight.  Stupefying spring pollen counts have grounded my lungs to air conditioned spaces for awhile, therefore this post. We now grow so used to the rapid change of computing infrastructure and progress in software functionality that it is easy to take for granted the power each of us now have to change social outcomes with our keyboards.  So listen up, future and present activists. The information in this post was produced with OpenBSD 5.2, R Programming, Gvim, and Gimp; all of this FOSS or Free and Open Source Software: all cross platform and all of it something almost anyone can load on most older hardware and (after some struggle) become proficient. Did I mention that OpenBSD is Canadian and renowned for security?

The R Programming environment is a mathematically rich software that has benefited from long term open source development. Although a bit kludgey to learn at first, the reward for your effort is lighting quick computation. Reputedly, it doesn't scale as well for large data as SQL based technology like PostgresSQL. However it scales well enough for my uses here. These images below are:
  • Whatcom County total population (by five age groups) from the census
  • A data extraction of voter registration by birth date from Nov. 2012
  • An overlap of the previous two images
It took me some time to write the R code for these graphs. I really just started to pick up R Programming in January. But look how illuminating a little programming can be.  (Click on these charts to enlarge.) The first pix gives us some idea on how the 205,000 us are grouped by age in Whatcom County. You can clearly see the baby boom/Gen X (Age 45 - 64) bin dominates the over 18 population: 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Suicide rates rise sharply in the United States

Suicide rates rise sharply in the United States.

Suicide Among Adults Aged 35–64 Years — United States, 1999–2010
The NY Times covers this important story succinctly. The actual CDC article in html and pdf:
The NYT top pick comments in the article are literate and poignant. My own personal belief is that the rise in suicides rates across the United States is a direct result of the fascist coup that is the "War on Terror".  20% of all suicides are estimated to be Veterans. But one doesn't have to be a survivor of Fallujah or Ramadi to have been psychologically devastated by the last thirteen years. The huge military industrial machine that we created has deeply affected the economy, social fabric and social consciousness.  Even those of us who attempt to disconnect ourselves from it wake up in despair over another annihilating drone attack on some village in Pakistan.  If there is a global consciousness, we have spawned generations of people of color the world over who hate us for incinerating their children, parents and relatives.

At age fifty (approx the median age of the CDC study), I can still remember all of the family stories of living through the depression. But the world was smaller then: less crowded, less competitive, less fast paced, less intensively criminal, with a cheaper cost of living; emotions were more simple and forgiving.  It was however, no less racist, sexist, classist or impoverished. And people dealt with tragedy of the Depression WWII, Korea,Vietnam with sadness and alcohol/drug abuse then too.  But then maybe those under 50 don't have those "Depression, WWII, post WWII era" survival stories in their memories anymore. There is something dangerous and dark that has pervaded the consciousness of my generation. Something that can't just be explained away by an economic downturn. There is a real sadness and despair; an environment of "cynicism coupled schadenfreudethat has both the left and right wondering if someday soon surveillance drones will be launched against Americans.  This is not just mistrust of authority; the psychological resilience of the middle class has been torn.