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As you know, we just had a big election.  I ran a marginally successful write-in campaign here in Louisville, collecting about a dozen votes in 5-6 categories (e.g., Kentucky State Senate, Kentucky State House, Soil and Water Conservation Officer, etc.). Big thanks to all my supporters. We should have a BBQ party.

I am currently teaching a US History class once a week.  My students (mostly Romney supporters) will most likely be very rowdy for class today.  Last week I showed them this video concerning what happens if the presidential election ties?


This is very interesting,  although unlikely in a two-party system.  Last night’s election was very close.  It was amazing though that after an estimated $6 billion was spent in campaigning, the election basically changed nothing in the White House, Congress, or Senate.  I do my best to not be political, but I feel like there needs to be some reining in of campaign spending, because right now it feels like all that is being accomplished is this:

OK. Now that my political rant for the day is over…

How does the electoral college work?

This has been answered so many places, but since I put effort into putting together a lecture on this for my US History class, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

  • The presidential election is decided based on electoral votes, not a national popular vote.
  • The electoral votes are distributed as follows:

Electoral Map

  • The Electoral College was a compromise by the Founding Fathers between a Congressional vote for president and a popular vote (because they were scared of mob mentality).
  • All states except Nebraska and Maine give their electoral votes in a winner-take-all format within the state
  • This election process was established with the 12th Amendment to the Constitution and requires a Constitutional amendment to be overturned.

There have been a few times that a presidential candidate won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote.  This most recently happened in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.  It also happened to Andrew Jackson once, but he came back in the next election to win it all. For my class, I decided to give them the results of three recent presidential elections to get a view of how the popular vote and electoral vote work, and to tangibly illustrate the voting tendencies of the country (getting most info from ElectoralMap.net).

Reagan vs. Mondale – 1984

Reagan Mondale Election Results 1984

Bush vs. Gore – 2000

Bush Gore 2000 Election Results

Obama vs. McCain – 2008

Obama McCain 2008 Election Map

Notice in this map that McCain took 4 Electoral votes from Nebraska and Obama received 1.  This illustrates well the difference between the usage of electoral votes between Nebraska/Maine and the rest of the states.

Video: How the Electoral College Works

The Electoral College is extremely controversial.  There have been over 700 motions in Congress to change it.  However, since the system is set up by the 12th Amendment, it would take a Constitutional amendment to change it.  Based on the current state of affairs and the history of the United States, I don’t see the Electoral College election system ever being replaced.  I’m not sure if I want it replaced either.  It may very well help protect smaller states and regions from the states with ginormous urban centers pushing their will on everyone else.  I have thought about this system a lot, and I still not know how I would propose to change it (if it should be changed).  So, please do not see this post as a soapbox rant.
So, that’s how the Electoral College works as best as I can figure it.  Let’s all celebrate the fact that we won’t have to deal with anymore political ads for the rest of the year.

Until later friends…

Dear readers,

I have been woefully inactive on this blog as of late.  Life is busy, as I am sure your life is.  We are in the midst of preparing for the birth of our first child.  So, blogging has not been at the top of my priority list.  It occurred to me today that I have around 50 followers that have only heard from me twice in the past month.  I realize this probably has not caused you any undue stress, but when I subscribe to blogs, it is because I like what they write.  So, when they don’t write anything, I might just take them off my blog reader.  So, in case your mild interest in For Aslan…and the Volunteer State is waning, I have put together a playlist for you my favorite readers (and you people that got here via random google searches for things like “Andrew Jackson,” “Louisville Slugger Museum,” or “Bodum Monkey”).

For my fellow Rickrollers….

For my fellow coffee nerds…

Here is my friend Matt making tampers for us at Prima Coffee.  He’s really good, and this is a sweet video.

For fans of literature and films…

This might be cheezy, but I think it looks great. I mean, Edgar Allan Poe murder/mystery movie? Yes please.

Edgar Allan Poe Meme

Until later friends…

Happy International Literacy Day.

How to read a bookToday is International Literacy Today.  If you are reading this, you are literate.  Many people in the world (even many in the US) are illiterate.  I love reading, and I am thankful that my parents raised me to love reading.  I think literacy-building programs are great.  I used to help elementary kids that struggled with reading, and I recommend for you to do the same.  It is not that difficult to help, and if you have the time, volunteering your time to help the next generation is a very honorable thing to do.  In honor of International Literacy Day, I would like to give you a list of ten of books that I have enjoyed over the past couple of years.

Ten Books I’ve Enjoyed in the Last Two Years (and You Might Like Them Too)

(In No Particular Order)

1. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Non-fiction/Theology)

I have blogged about this book before (Life Together), so I won’t say much about it.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes.  In my opinion, this book is one of his best.  I highly recommend it.

2. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (Fiction/Mystery)

Micahel Chabon Final SolutionThis is a great detective story.  Michael Chabon is a superb writer.  There were times that I would interrupt Jen from whatever she was doing to read her a paragraph from this just to share the wonderful prose Chabon had produced (nerdy I know).  This is a detective story set during the Holocaust era (hence “Final Solution).  The detective is a once-great, now old and feeble detective (meant to be Sherlock Holmes), and this is his final case (hence “Final Solution”).  It is a very short book, and it is well worth the time to read it.

3.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Non-Fiction/Biography)

American Lion Andrew JacksonI am not an American history buff, so I can’t really critique the history of this book.  I can say that I enjoyed it, and that it won the Pulitzer.  I have blogged at least twice about the manliness of Andrew Jackson.  Although I differ from Andrew Jackson in some ways politically, I respect him as a man and a leader.

4. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (Fiction)

That Hideous StrengthI just recently read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  I have been wanting to read them for almost 10 years, and I finally got around to it this summer.  I was not disappointed.  I recommend reading all three.  That Hideous Strength is the third volume, and, I think, the best.  It is a book about the clash of worldviews and the academy.  It is very entertaining, and Lewis’s pithy humor shines forth throughout.

5.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (Non-Fiction/Auto-biography)

A Severe MercyThis book is beautiful.  It tells the story of a couple and their journey of faith and suffering.  It is well-written, and you will cry if you read it.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Fiction)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows BookI loved reading the entire Harry Potter series (even though most of it was via audio-book). And yes, I am a Christian and I like Harry PotterDeathly Hallows was a great book.  It tied the story together well, and it was LOADS BETTER than the movies.

7. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll (Non-Fiction/Christian History)

Turning Points by Mark NollThis is my favorite general Church History book.  Mark Noll is a superb historian – and a friendly person.  I have recently been in some correspondence with Mark Noll, and I have found him to be extremely personable.  This book is a great introduction to Christian history.  I have read it twice in the past three years, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Christian history.

8. The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (Non-fiction/Sports)

The Code: Baseball's Unwritten RulesIf you like baseball, you’ll love this book.  It answers all the great questions like: “When should you charge the mound?” or “Is it ok to steal signs?”  I love the cover too.  Nolan Ryan is a beast.  There are a score of great stories in this book from former and active players, coaches, and umpires.

9. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler by Victoria Barnett (Non-Fiction/History)

For the Soul of the PeopleVictoria Barnett’s work on the Confessing Church is great.  This book details the resistance of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoeller, and Karl Barth to the Nazi regime.  It has proven invaluable to my research, and I heartily recommend it to you history buffs out there.

10. When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 by Bernard A. Weisberger (Non-Fiction/Sports)

When Chicago Ruled BaseballI love history, I love baseball, and I love the Cubs. So, this book was a great purchase for me.  It is very interesting reading about a World series where tickets cost less than a drink at a MLB game now.  This World Series featured Tinker, Evers, and Chance, as well as Mordecai Brown and other great players.

Happy International Literacy Day. Go read a book.

Until later friends…

Links to Get These Books

Today is the Ides of March.  Not the band, the day.

Ides of March Band

That is to say, today is March 15th — a very important day in world history.  Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar.

If you are like me, you had to read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in high school.  So, I won’t bore you with the details of Caesar’s death. What you might not know is that March 15th is also the birth date of another great world leader (that survived an assassination attempt).  This world leader is none other than the best president the Volunteer State ever produced — Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson President from Tennessee

To use the modern vernacular, Andrew Jackson was a true manbeast of his day.  He led the US to victory in the Battle of New Orleans, and he survived many duels in his lifetime.  On one occasion, Jackson allowed the man with whom he was dueling to shoot first (in case you didn’t realize, in duels you’re both supposed to shoot at the same time and see who survives).  The other man shot him in the chest, but Jackson took it like a man and shot the other guy dead.

This man born on the Ides of March also survived an assassination attempt.  A man ran up to Jackson and attempted to fire two pistols at him at point blank range.  Both pistols misfired, and Jackson proceeded to beat him with his walking stick (which he might have done anyways if the guy had managed to shoot him based on his previous experience with gunshot injuries).  So, happy birthday Old Hickory.  For the rest of you out there not as manly as Andrew Jackson, Beware the Ides of March.

Until later friends…

It is Presidents Day. Across the country schoolchildren (except the poor children that are making up snow-days), bankers, and postal workers are enjoying a nice day at home.  For the rest of the country, it is just another workday.  Higher education, fast food, restaurant equipment sales, material handling sales, MLB Spring Training, and all those other occupations that keep the nation running are honoring our dead presidents with hard work.  I thought about doing a short blurb about all the presidents today, but there have been a lot of them, and I don’t think I could hold your interest for that long. So, today I am just going to give you some great quotes from five of our manliest presidents.

The Top 5 Manliest Presidents of the United States

George Washington – 1st President

George Washington

“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”

Andrew Jackson – 7th President

Andrew Jackson Battle of New Orleans“The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.” (Funny that banks get the day off today)

Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President

Theodore Roosevelt“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower – 34th President

Dwight D. Eisenhower in uniform“Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.”

Ronald Reagan – 40th President

Ronald Reagan at Berlin Wall“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

So, here’s to all the manly guys that have led our country over the years. Happy Presidents Day to you. Until later friends…

PS-  All these quotes were found with cursory internet searches. So, I cannot attest for the exact wording of each quote.