Research News

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #10 Get out there and VOTE!

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

In the 1948 election, Thomas E. Dewey was projected to trounce President Harry S. Truman by a wide margin. Dewey was then the Governor of New York, and was considered stiff and pompous, "...the only man who could strut sitting down," some said. None the less, the polls were predicting a landslide in his favor.

The Chicago Tribune would be the first to report it in their early edition, with the famous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman." Instead Truman won by more than two million popular and 114 electoral votes.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #9 The Electoral College & The Polls

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

It's 6:45 p.m. You're tired from a long day at work, and have just finished throwing something together for a quick dinner when the phone rings. It could be a telemarketer? A scam?

Or it could be Gallup Polls. Meet Ed Dubas. He works at the Gallup call center in Omaha, Nebraska, making polling phone calls for various organizations. A former used car salesman, Ed has been their best interviewer in the world for five years. He loves what he does, despite the hang-ups and four letter words. For him working for Gallup is about 'documenting the will of the people.' Gallup is especially well known for the quality of their political polls.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #8 – Statistical Hot Spots & The Debates

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In 1776, some of the founding fathers borrowed money from France and the Netherlands to help fund the American Revolution. We owed $43 million by January 1, 1783. Congress voted to raise taxes, as well as to assume some public debt.

In 1790, with a debt estimated at $77.1 million, interest-bearing bonds were issued and the government established its good credit. Alexander Hamilton became our first Secretary of the Treasury. He helped design the strong centralized funding of the United States, including tariffs and taxes. The Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million, at just 4 cents per acre, but it derailed efforts to pay down the debt at that time.

Book Group

Do you like to read, talk and eat? Would you like a way to make new friends, see things in a new way and find genres and authors that you've not considered before?

If so, you may find the perfect nexus in a book group. There are many types of book groups, ranging from a group of friends getting together monthly to discuss an essay to special-interest virtual groups, such as Thumper's Corner, which is specifically for African-American literature.

Local Drop-In Book Groups

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #7 – Statistics & How Can We Know the Truth?

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

"Even such fundamental mathematical verities as … ‘1 and 1 are 2,’ can be misapplied: one cup of...

water plus one cup of popcorn are not equal to two cups of soggy popcorn." John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy, p. 67.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #6 - Money on the Colorado Scene

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

We're looking at important 2012 issues and races in Denver and in Colorado, too. In Denver, we will decide about funding for our public schools, and whether or not to reverse the limits on the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights from previous legislation.

Denver has a database for Campaign Finance Reports, and the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office will be mailing out notices of the election soon, with summaries of the comments received for and against ballot issues.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO READ?

Have you read all the books on your nightstand and depleted your Nook? Don't settle for reading the cereal box or that copy of Who Moved My Cheese someone left in the break room - you can find fresh and unexpected page-turners from a variety of sources.

Beat everyone to the waiting list by using Clues Unlimited to find upcoming mystery titles, as well as mysteries for children and British imports.

Can't remember the name of the third Harry Potter book? Check out What's Next, a comprehensive database from the Kent Library District, MI, that allows you to find a fiction series by genre, author, series name or book title.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #5 - Money in Politics, Part 2

Hand placing ballot in box with American flag in the background.

At this phase in the election cycle, political ads are a staple of primetime TV and just about every other sort of commercial communications media. While we're accustomed to hearing the words, "I'm Barack Obama / Mitt Romney and I approve this message," the entities claiming responsibility for ads are often unfamiliar to say the least.

To evaluate claims made in political ads, voters can certainly turn to fact-checking resources but there's a case to be made for recognizing the sources of political advertisements and what biases they bring to the table. In this week's post, we'll consider the mandate for disclosure in political ads and identify ways to determine who put up the money and what they stand for.

Magazine of the Month - Scientific American

Cover Scientific American

Maybe you heard the news that downtown Denver will be the site of a new regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office scheduled to open by September 2014. But what you may not know is that the first branch of the U.S. Patent Agency was founded by Scientific American.

Started in 1845 by Rufus Porter, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S. Rufus Porter, an inventor himself, never stayed at any job for very long and in 1846 sold the weekly paper for $800 to Orson Desaix Munn and Alfred Ely.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #4 - Money in Politics

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

Montana, 1890. Copper magnate William Clark runs for the U.S. Senate. He is not elected. In 1899, however, he wins the Senate seat, but opponents expose the financial corruption and bribery behind his election.

The Senate declares his election null and void. (You can read about the Senate process and the evidence in a digital image of the New York Times from April 24, 1900.

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