Monthly check-in time once again!

Unless the NFL season gets completely wiped out, this should be the last monthly check-in post until next year. Even then I do have posts I want to get in before the election, and possibly after. That isn’t even to speak of the poll averages, where as promised, I made some substantial changes to the main landing page, though I’m no longer sure how measuring how prognosticators see each race is going to work. Right now, however, Steven Universe is the furthest thing from my mind, and under the circumstances I’m no longer sure if I’ll ever get back to it again. It hasn’t helped that I’ve gotten caught up in more pointless personal projects that won’t mean anything…

Time for our monthly check-in!

Even by my own recent low standards, I’m shocked by how little has changed since last month. I’m still working on the same project I’ve been working on the past two months, and none of the changes to the Poll Averages spreadsheet I hinted at last month came to fruition. I’d blame coronavirus but the reality is my lifestyle hasn’t changed much; indeed the bigger changes over the last month have been in the wider world, as the Black Lives Matter protests have faded from the news.

Beyond that, the major changes have been in what my plans are for future posts; at this point I’m likely to focus on how to fix what’s wrong with the country before ever getting back to Steven Universe, and I have an idea for a related post I might start working on this month but might not post until closer to the conventions, but who knows if I have the discipline for the amount of work that’s likely to require. I’ve added tabs for state-by-state presidential polls to the poll average spreadsheet and am likely to make significant changes to the main “landing” tab sometime in the next month to month-and-a-half as the general election season really gets going.

Watching from the Sidelines…

As I type this, I’ve just completed the second straight day where I ended up only being able to have one meal due to stores and restaurants being closed for curfew or even just as a precautionary measure, though in today’s case it didn’t help that there was a long line just to get into the local grocery store and I was trying to get there and back in the time it took laundry to finish. We had to stitch together whatever food we had on hand for me to have something resembling dinner.

To think, earlier this year I thought it would be the coronavirus forcing us to stock up on food.

I’ve spent the past month spending most of my free time on what I think is the same personal project I mentioned last month, which I knew going in was ambitious enough it could take an insanely long time to finish but am still plugging away at it. If the current situation continues to escalate, though, I may shift gears to look at what needs to be done to heal the country going forward. Otherwise it’s the same situation I described in last month’s post, and we’ll see how it evolves going forward.

I did make a few changes to the poll averages a while back, incorporating FiveThirtyEight’s updated pollster grades and introducing the Bias-Corrected Average, adjusting each poll by their FiveThirtyEight-measured mean-reverted bias before weighting and averaging them – this measure only applies to general election races between Democrats and Republicans. This provides an added dimension to my general-election presidential average and to other general-election averages going forward. Sometime this month I may also introduce a measure of how competitive the various prognosticators like Cook Political Report expect each race and presidential state to be, to add context to each race I end up having a page for, though I’m not likely to introduce averages for them until after the conventions.

Time for our monthly What I Didn’t Do This Month post!

You know, with the coronavirus pandemic threatening the NFL season, these could extend well into the fall this year?

Seems like what I have to say is something that’s been said a lot too: I had several ideas for posts percolating late in the month – maybe something about Justin Amash running a third party campaign, and I’d have liked to go back to Steven Universe last weekend, a month after it fully ended and a month before the launch of HBO Max – but I’ve been distracted by a complex personal project and obsession that’s not likely to lead to anything. Either of these ideas or more could come to fruition later in May, though, depending on how things develop.

As always, I’m considerably more active on Twitter, where I don’t have to sit down and face the pressure that comes with writing a full-fledged blog post. I also continue to update the poll averages (or, at this point, poll average) I introduced a while back.

Really? This again?

I had a couple of different post ideas I was juggling and if I had stuck to one or the other I might have gotten either one in this month. It didn’t help that I got distracted after completing a key piece of one of those posts earlier tonight, or that the other one is that with the show ending this weekend I’m thinking of getting back to Steven Universe (again) but I’m kind of dreading it for a multitude of reasons. You should definitely expect either or both over the next week, but the whole freakout over coronavirus is starting to dash my hopes for my more lofty goals for the year.

For the record, the poll I launched last year seems to be fairly evenly split but “if you feel the need to” has the current plurality of votes, so I’m going to try to maintain my post-a-month record for the time being.

Introducing Wick’s Weighted Poll Averages

The nerds have taken over the political space over the last decade-plus as the tools that started to revolutionize sports over the previous decade have been brought to bear on politics with wild success. Every major election sees a mind-numbing amount of numerical and mathematical analysis focused on it, and poll averages, forecasts, and other numerical analysis tools abound. For many, poring over polls has become as much if not more of a pastime than following what the candidates themselves are doing.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no one single “poll average”, and indeed there seem to be as many different poll averages as there are outlets collating the polls. The two most prominent, widely cited poll averages are the ones from RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight, and as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has progressed I find that neither of them quite fit what I want from them. RealClearPolitics publishes a straight average of whatever polls they record and deem worthy, usually from the most prominent outlets, over whatever period they choose to average them over. The only quality control, if any, is in what polls are included; among the polls included, there is no attempt to control for sample size, methodology, or overall quality, and polls simply age out of the average once they get too old (however “too old” is defined) or the next poll from that pollster comes along.

FiveThirtyEight, on the other hand, weights its poll average based on those factors, but the details of their methodology aren’t public, and it also includes their own model’s assumptions about how the race should develop, meaning in the days immediately after a contest the “average” tries to predict how much of a “bump” candidates will get based on their performance, and states with little recent polling will have their “average” extrapolated from larger national trends. Such extrapolations don’t always incorporate mitigating factors or common sense; for example, the current FiveThirtyEight “average” of South Carolina has Mike Bloomberg in fourth place at 9.5%, despite him not actually being on the ballot there. The copious polling conducted in South Carolina that doesn’t include Bloomberg is merely interpreted as failing to catch whatever bump Bloomberg might have received. The result is so complex with so many mitigating factors that it’s hard to accurately call it a “poll average” at all; it’s more an attempt to capture the state of the race based on local and national trends and past history, and FiveThirtyEight themselves readily admit that it’s not really intended to be much more than the backbone of their election forecasts. It’s useful in its own way, but not really the best way of capturing what the polls are actually saying right now like what RealClearPolitics and most other media outlets try to do. But is there a middle ground between a straight average of the topline numbers and FiveThirtyEight’s complex model?

Read moreIntroducing Wick’s Weighted Poll Averages

A VERY belated late New Year’s Eve blog-day.

As this post goes up, it has been nine days since the normal birth date of Da Blog on the 22nd. For many if not most of you, it’s 2020 already. This on the heels of last year’s blog-day post coming a few days late on Christmas Eve. Missing the mark by well over a week is breaching new frontiers even by my standards.

In a way, this is appropriate for what a wasted year this has been for me and for Da Blog. I said at the time that the 36 posts I made in 2017 was a record low unlikely to be broken, but this being the 27th post since the last blog-day post is a record that might not be possible to break without giving up on the Flex Schedule Watch or having a post every month (the latter of which is quite possible – Da Blog Poll is still open!), considering there was arguably a grand total of two months prior to the start of football season in September where I made any posts other than posts that simply serve the purpose of having a post every month.

In the case of this post, I’ve been in Seattle for the last ten days or so and have been content to spend my time relaxing and picking up work on one of my many personal projects that means nothing (well, almost nothing) to anyone other than me, and even the relatively low levels of engagement required to write the blog-day post has proven too daunting for me to try and tackle. For the year, a lot of my attention has been gobbled up by mobile games and various other things, as well as dealing with wildly off-track sleep schedules. Various projects I’ve been meaning to get to have continued to be put on the back burner; I have every intention to get to them in 2020, but then I say that every year. Certainly I want to get back to the state of our broken politics before the end of the impeachment trial, certainly before the election gets too much into high gear, and I’d like to get back to Steven Universe before it leaves Hulu for HBO Max, if that’s still possible. I’d also like, if not need, to engage in projects and programs that could actually make money for me on a regular basis. But of course, I said many of the same things in last year’s blog-day post as well.

In retrospect, perhaps it’s appropriate that Year Thirteen in the history of Da Blog would be such a wasted year even by the standards of my recent wasted years, but coupled with the dark tone I struck at the end of the last blog-day post even as I attempted to be optimistic about my future, it’s fair to wonder if I have the ability to achieve my dreams at all anymore. (My ongoing depression about the Trump era and the likelihood that we’ve already crossed the point of no return when it comes to global warming doesn’t help, of course.) Still, I take heart that the blog-day post I ended last decade with, when my productivity with Da Blog was much higher (the following year seems to have been the first one where I wrote less than 100 posts), evoked many of the same issues I struggle with today, even if they were nowhere near as bad as they are now. It’s at least possible that with the shedding of the unlucky number 13, I’ve passed through the nadir of my recent spell of unproductivity, and Year Fourteen will see me begin to climb out of it with the long-awaited completion, or at least work on, some long-simmering projects, as well as my attempt to find my identity in the new decade given my struggles with finding the brainpower to complete my goals even without the demands of schoolwork.

I actually accomplished something this month!

I updated my NFL Flexible Scheduling Primer page for the new season!

What do you mean I only did it over the course of the last hour if not half-hour of the month and I still may make some further edits at some point?

I really do think I’m going to get back into Steven Universe this week, if only because Cartoon Network is airing a marathon of every episode leading up to the movovie this weekend, even though I have to wake up at 8:30 to catch one of the episodes that’s been holding me back from finishing my Season 2 recap post.

Ugh.

I said last month would be the last streak-filler post and I had two or three different ideas for substantive posts this month, and none of them panned out. I still intend to get back to Steven Universe┬áin August, but I’m also finding one of the mobile games I’m playing may have just become even more of a drag on my time. So I’m going ahead and running a new Da Blog Poll until at least the end of February to see if I really need to continue the streak of monthly posts outside of football season, or if I’m the only one who cares about that.

Last streak-filler post I promise!

Right now I fully intend to jump back into Steven Universe in July – I might end up putting it off until August but that would start to impinge on football season and I’d like to stop feeling useless as soon as possible – so this should be the last post that just serves the purpose of making sure I have a post every month at least until February, but man, I’ve just been doing the bare minimum of posting in the first half of 2019. I’ve actually started to run out of things to say in these posts. If I’m still struggling to maintain posting every month when I don’t have something like the Flex Schedule Watch to make it automatic I may just ask whether anyone other than me even cares that I have a post every month. At this point, if I do become more active with Da Blog again it’ll be like I have two periods of prominence in the history of Da Blog, the period before 2016, and whatever period starts up again after.