Archive for the ‘If you can’t take a joke’ Category

Presidential Oracles
October 30, 2008

Everybody wishes they had a crystal ball, especially when it comes time to pick the winner in a presidential race. Here in America, I’ve found that nearly anything can be turned into a predictor for the outcome of the polls. Mostly unscientific, but all fun, these oracles are a welcome relief.

The Redskins Prophecy – If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the elections, the incumbent stays in power. If the ‘Skins lose, the incumbent goes bye-bye. This prophecy has accurately predicted the outcome of the presidential elections since 1936, getting it wrong only in 2004 when the ‘Skins lost but Bush retained the White House over John Kerry. That’s 17 out of the last 18 elections, for a batting (whoa! mixing sports metaphors today, aren’t we?) average of about 94% .

This year, the Redskins’ last home game will be on Monday, the day before the elections. Reports have it that some bookies have been offering a two-in-one deal: bet on the game, and they’ll place a bet for you on the elections too.

It’s down to a cookie-toss! – Candidates’ wives send their cookie recipes to Family Circle Magazine, which then invites its readers to vote on the recipes. And since 1992, when Hilary Clinton infamously blurted out “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas,” whoever won the cookie vote then went on to be the FLOTUS. Interestingly, this year, Cindy McCain’s oatmeal butterscotch cookie recipe edged out Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies.

Bill Clinton’s entry to the cookie-showdown got only 2% of the votes. “Maybe it was the name that killed Bill’s chances,” magazine editors said. “He never should have called it the Blue Dress Special.”

The 7-11 Oracle – Following closely in the tradition of BuyCostumes.com’s mask poll, 7-11 has been putting out Obama and McCain cups, and tracking its sales. In the last cup-poll, Bush’s win was successfully predicted. This year, Obama seems to be leading McCain, but still, Obama supporters have expressed concern that their candidate might not carry North Carolina.

“We’re in the dark. Democrats lost North Carolina even with John Edwards on the ticket with Kerry in 2004, the polls are ambiguous at best, and worst of all, there are no 7-11’s in North Carolina!” the distraught campaigner said.

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Last two weeks
May 1, 2007

I had a brief conversation with a reporter today – one of many, actually, although this one stood out for being more relaxed than most – about how the coverage for the last two weeks of campaigning could be handled. I thought about it for awhile and I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

10. Conduct mock voting, having the candidates choose from among themselves, and then reveal how each one voted.

9. Have the candidates spend twenty-four hours as a homeless person and later report on whatever ‘life-lessons’ they might have learned;

8. Interview the candidates’ house help. That’ll blow the lid off their public personas, right Naomi?

7. Let the candidates take the CESO exam. That would be so much fun.

6. In pairs, strap each candidate to a polygraph, sit them across from each other, and have them take turns revealing what they think of the other.

5. Punk ’em. Set them up for an embarrassing situation and shoot video from a hidden camera.

4. And speaking of hidden cameras, plant hidden cameras inside their heavily tinted SUVs and watch what they do immediately upon getting into the car from a meet and greet with their adoring supporters.

3. Interview them when they’re as drunk as a skunk.

2. Stick ’em inside Big Brother’s house and see which one will do whatever it takes not to be voted for … for eviction!

1. Raid their laptops and publish the contents of their web browser’s History.

Now that is must-see-tee-vee!

In 2010
March 3, 2007

In 2010 – the success of the internet voting pilot test inspired legislators to rally behind a measure amending the modernization law to allow internet voting in all highly urbanized cities and all the major municipalities nationwide. It was only incidental that the authors of the law came from those highly urbanized cities and major municipalities that would enjoy internet voting.

Voting in those places began one month before the 2nd Monday of May, and voters were able to vote anywhere. There were internet kiosks set up in groceries, hospitals, malls, even cemeteries; people could vote from their phones; from computers in their homes; from laptops out in the middle of Manila Bay. The whole concept of absentee voting became obsolete.

In places where internet voting was not available, there was a mix of election solutions: half-manual in most municipalities, where voters used an optical mark (OM) ballot – like the ones used for lotto; and for the rest, a direct-recording electronic (DRE) system using battery powered voting units that could easily be transported to island municipalities and other far-flung areas. Despite the variations in technology, however, electronic transmission becomes the main vector for canvassing.

Results from places that used OM ballots were routed to an electronic transmission system. In those few areas where DRE systems were in place, the results were beamed directly to the canvassing center using the modem integrated into the battery powered voting units. These places that didn’t use internet voting had a voting period of two weeks, counted from the 2nd Monday of April.

The widespread acceptance of modernized voting processes spurred a change in campaigning strategies as well.

The internet was proven to be an effective campaign vector in 2007 and by 2010, podcasts have all but replaced traditional broadcast advertising. Podcasts are cheaper to produce, and persist far longer than 30-second spots on tv and radio. Newspaper ads are taken over by on-line advertising.

The first dot com to take advantage of this new trend is http://www.broadsheet.com – a website containing only paid political advertising. The basic package entitles you to one week exposure on the site; exposure being defined as a 60 second video clip with scrolling information about the candidate’s credentials and platforms. Premium packages offer partnerships with popular sites allowing political advertising to appear as pop-ups on those sites.

Other dot coms follow. There’s politicaltipsheet.com and winnaz.com. The pop-up package is wildly successful and also incredibly annoying. The COMELEC is deluged with complaints, forcing it to look seriously into regulating pop-ups, and later on, trying to bring internet spending within the ambit of the spending cap. But none of these attempts result in serious regulation. Apparently, a majority of legislators are too busy designing their own pop-ups.

SMS campaigning, despite fulsome predictions about how successful it would be as a campaign medium, turned out to be a dud. People with cellphones find them too obtrusive and candidates who relied heavily on text campaigns realized that they turned-off more voters than they gained. Only the candidates with a cell-phone toting constituencies actually found it worth the trouble, but even they admitted that SMS only allowed them to stay in touch with people who would’ve voted for them anyway – kinda like a “preaching to the choir” situation. So, by 2010, the jets on SMS campaigning had cooled tremendously. And anyway, cellphones had become the new pagers. With free wi-fi (for the next three years, anyway) widely available, people preferred the new Portable Computing Platforms (PoCLats) – handheld computers with 5 inch screens that could be used to surf the net, make phone calls, watch hard-drive videos (HDVs) on, and light your cigarettes with (travel pillow attachment, optional).

Obviously, by this time, personal campaigning had become almost quaint, with only a few old candidates actually still insisting on traditional stumping. Inevitably, these traditional campaign sorties had to be cut short as the candidates realized that their audiences were repulsed by portable oxygen tanks and the tinny Mr. Roboto sound made by tracheotomy voice-boxes. Even worse, the Sex-Bomb dancers refused to boogie with them as none of the dancers knew CPR.

On the second monday of may, the electronic ballot boxes were opened; the results were available in under five minutes, broadcast live over the internet. Within two hours, the COMELEC proclaimed the winner of all races except the presidency and vice-presidency. Using COMELEC provided facilities, the results were fed into the canvassing computers of Congress where armies of accountants verify the math. Within five hours, Congress gave up trying to punch holes into the results, and the president and vice-president elect were announced. None of the candidates (5 each for president and vice) achieved a majority, and the winning candidates each enjoyed a lead of less than three-quarters of a million. More people voted on the 4th season of Philippine Idol than in the elections.

Alarmed, Congress convened an emergency session at the best of both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. Within twenty-four hours, a law was passed mandating run-off elections after two weeks. The COMELEC scrambled with a nationwide information campaign and the re-programming of the voting systems. Unfortunately, only the internet voting system could be reprogrammed in time. Two weeks and one day later, the run-off elections were held, with the electorate limited to those who used internet voting; a new president and vice-president emerged, enjoying a 53% and a 67% majority victories respectively.

An hour later, messages started pouring in from other countries, congratulating the winners and commending the COMELEC. The elections of 2010 were hailed as the first truly successful elections in Philippine history.

The following day, the losing candidates filed a complaint with the Presidential Election Tribunal, alleging that that the contract for internet voting was flawed – and the results of the election ought to be invalidated – because the internet voting pilot test that inspired the amendments in 2010 was allegedly carried out without an implementing law. The ‘fruit of the poison tree’ argument was invoked, and the Supreme Court agreed.

46 million Filipino voters choked on the fruit of the poison tree, much to the delight of Snow-White’s step mother and the Filipino Malthusians’ Association of the Philippines (FMAP) who exulted that the problem of over-population had finally been solved.