What’s your accent

A friend and reader sent me a link to a very cool on-line quiz that places your geographic origin by how you say certain words, i.e., do “pen” and “pin” sound the same or different.  I had no idea people said these particular words the same way until I had a particuarly amusing conversation with my wife many years ago. 

As I expected, I was classified as being entirely accent free– though the geographic basis of “Midland” does not exactly apply to my Northern Virginia upbringing.  But I always felt like the NoVa burbs had an Anytown, USA feel to them.  

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(Another) stolen election in Florida?

If an election is stolen in Florida and nobody hears anything about it, did it really happen.  Even more shameful than the Republican-controlled election administration certifying the election of a Republican member when there were clearly huge problems with electronic voting machines that very likely affected the result, is the fact that the national media is completely ignoring this story.  Here's a nice summary of the key facts from Paul Krugman:

Florida's 13th Congressional District is currently
represented by Katherine Harris, who as Florida's
secretary of state during the 2000 recount famously acted as
a partisan Republican rather than a fair referee. This year
Harris didn't run for re-election, making an
unsuccessful bid for the Senate instead. But according to
the official vote count, the Republicans held on, with
Republican Vern Buchanan narrowly defeating Democrat
Christine Jennings.

The problem is that the official vote count isn't
credible. In much of the 13th District, the voting pattern
looks normal. But in Sarasota County, which used
touch-screen voting machines made by Election Systems and
Software, almost 18,000 voters – nearly 15 percent of the
total – supposedly failed to vote for either candidate in
the hotly contested race. That compares with undervotes of
2.2 to 5.3 percent in neighboring counties…

Although state officials have certified Buchanan as the
victor, they've promised an audit of the voting
machines. But don't get your hopes up: As in 2000,
state election officials aren't even trying to look
impartial. The state has chosen as its
“independent” expert Professor Alec Yasinsac of
Florida State University – a Republican partisan who made
an appearance on the steps of the Florida Supreme Court
during the 2000 recount battle wearing a “Bush
Won” sign.

A recent article in Salon.com gives a thorough accounting of this travesty:

The fact that both Democrats and Republicans reported the problems with
the machines suggests that the problems were not partisan. “It
indicates that this was not some carefully targeted bit of hacking,
which only adversely affected someone who was trying to cast a vote for
Christine Jennings,” says Lowell Finley, attorney for Voter Action, who
is representing the voters in their lawsuit. “With these systems, it's
always important to recognize the possibility that there could be
malicious action involved, but the evidence so far points to a
malfunction that is attributable to software errors or errors in the
way in which the layout of the ballot was entered into the machine —
but something had a terribly harmful effect on the integrity of the
election.”

Krugman concludes his column:

As far as I can tell, the reason “Florida 13”
hasn't become a major national story is that neither
control of Congress nor control of the White House is on the
line. But do we have to wait for a constitutional crisis to
realize that we're in danger of becoming a digital-age
banana republic?

Ummm, yes? 

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