The article in question is about simulating elections with agents which is mildly interesting. Some of the data that came out the other end is roughly similar to what folks find in every day life.
The interesting part was an analysis of electoral college voting from 1960-2000 showing which states have traditionally been Republican, Democratic, or swing. Only a few states (New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts IIRC) were Democratic the entire time. Most of the other states were Republican.
It reminds me of what a friend said. He's from South Africa and mentioned in passing that he's surprised about how conservative the US actually is vs. how conservative Americans think they are. It could be a Northern California byproduct, but according to him, we're much more conservative than we think we are.
All this happened to dovetail nicely with a few other thoughts on the way back from San Jose this evening which centered on the recent discussions between level_head and I. He's pro-Bush. Despite that, he's also someone who I consider to be an intelligent person.
It occurred to me that a lot of the divisions are defined basic assumptions. He believes, for example, that the war on Iraq was a just war. I believe that while the cause is just, the timing was wrong and the steps taken have led to unnecessary bloodshed and weakened international relations.
Lots of liberals would argue that the war was a baldfaced move by the administration to feed Haliburton and get Iraq's oil. I'm a little too trusting of mankind to believe that the war was simply to throw contracts at Haliburton.
Lots of liberals would also point out that we haven't found any WMDs in Iraq during our invasion. They may also point out some of the misinformation (e.g. the aluminum tubes, the mobile bioterrorism lab, &c). Apparently the authenticity of those claims is questionable in the eyes of level_head. I haven't seen precisely why he believes that and the research I've done through the major news outlets hasn't turned up any trace of it. I'm not quite willing to believe that the liberal media's succeeded in covering up all that info.
Of course, I also don't think Hussein's actions were those of a man with nothing to hide. There's a lot of desert out there. Who knows what we'd find if American troops weren't too busy ducking bullets to carefully comb every inch?
He also believes that Kerry will (perhaps unwittingly) be lighter on 'the war on terror' than Bush, although I haven't heard why yet.
The simple answer to all this of course is that real life isn't a simple black and white issue. There are fuzzy values of truth to some things which one side will determine as true and the other as false at times. Both sides are just as guilty of that. We humans like to simplify and those simplifications can often appear as a slight to the doctrine of the other side because we don't acknowledge something that might have a bit of truth to it. It's vitally important to be aware of this. Especially when an election is near with political adverts appearing virtually everywhere.
It's important to add as a endnote that even in this brief analysis, I've gone with my judgements about what is true based on the evidence I'm aware of. Let's not forget that the press often doesn't cover the whole of a story (cf. Hearst and the sinking of the Maine).
To most of us here in Northern California, the feeling that Bush should be impeached is as common as the air we breathe. In most of the nation, that's not the case. To those who are perhaps a bit nearer to moderate, Bush is really that hero who landed on the aircraft carrier and has delivered us from evil.
Just try for a moment to understand that impression. For the conservatives, take a moment to understand the impression that Bush is an unintelligent person who has ridden into the White House on privilege and that it shows in his policy.
As for me, I'm merely here to pick on both sides ; )