The mariner long ago grew weary of individuals – especially in news media – abusing the word ‘existential.’ Everyone who abuses the word should be forced to read Kierkegaard and Sartre, the philosophers who established the purpose and philosophy that spawned a popular movement by the same name.

The most common abuse is to use ‘existential’ when in fact the proper word is ‘empirical.’ It is a directional error. Existentialism says that all interpretations of reality begin within the self; to declare something as real or present in behalf of others is to suggest an empirical reality – to which one may have an existential response.

Oh well, mariner’s professional philologist friend says forget it; people will use words as they will. That’s how language works. This is another reason old people pass on.

– – – –


The last post about gladiators and vector analysis was a dud as the mariner suspected – but he was entertained constructing the allegory. Below the mariner suggests six sources (dare he mention they are comparable to weights?) with which to measure a candidate’s momentum versus the opposing candidate(s). Nate Silver is renowned for his accuracy in anything that is associated with probability from horse racing to political elections. His website provides the reasoning behind his projections and he does analysis of each poll in context – something television doesn’t do. Check the politics page at

Electoral College: Keeping track of votes by poll is deceptive. For example, polls asking voters who they will vote for shows Hillary ahead 43% to 40% while electoral votes have Hillary ahead 339-197 (270 to win). Unfortunately, each vote carries more or less influence depending on the state in which the vote occurs. The Electoral College allocates its votes at the state level according to the number of Congressional districts and Senators (2). All but two states are ‘winner take all’ which means the state party winner also takes the losing party’s votes, combined to equal the electoral vote for the state. Conceivably in a close state race, what is a close number of citizen votes is suddenly doubled in the Electoral College in behalf of the state winner.

Battleground States: As of the moment, there are eleven according to Politico []. In principle, battleground states are states that, according to election history, are split evenly enough to vote either way. They change over the years but typically run eight to twelve states en toto. The premise is that all other states will vote traditionally in the election; it comes down to how the battleground states will vote that determines the election. Below is a list of this campaign’s battleground states.

Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin.

Down Ballot Races: The Presidential Campaign has an unusual amount of influence on the voter turnout. Senators, Representatives and local legislators must compete among unusually active groups: tea party, “alt-republicans,” establishment republicans, progressives, establishment democrats and even the Libertarian and Green parties are active as alternatives to Trump and Clinton. Check your local and state polls to have a sense of how much Congress and your state will swing. Local politicians reveal a lot in their behavior and group preferences.

Local paper editorial page: If you are fortunate enough to live in a location populous enough to have a decent newspaper, it will be more favorable toward one candidate.

All these sources may talk about what the candidates said yesterday but the source cannot help but reflect momentum. Using momentum instead of gladiator punches to determine who is winning provides more substance for entertainment, keeping bored folks involved.

Two Magazines: Atlantic Magazine and The Economist are two of mariner’s favorites. Pick your own but make sure they are not too biased one way or another.

Ancient Mariner

1 thought on “Nits

  1. Great link to Nate Silver! November’s undercard is also unusually thick with state ballot initiatives this year, from the expected (weed, guns) to the interesting (health care reforms, Maine’s consideration of ranked-choice voting) to the downright kooky (California). They may not be as high-profile as the national races but it should be an interesting show for fans of direct democracy!

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