Links of the Week

Since all of us have better things to do, we asked our robot intern Watson to find this week’s most interesting news stories and compile them into a short list for your convenience. Here’s what he came up with.

If you just rejoined civilization after a prolonged period of Sandy, there was an election in the United States. As you can imagine, most of the news this week dealt with the results and the consequences.

As Nation and Parties Change, Republicans Are at an Electoral College Disadvantage, by Nate Silver

FiveThirtyEight took a look at the Presidential tipping point state, and came to the conclusion that Obama could still have been expected to win an electoral college majority even in a close defeat in the popular vote. These geographic realities must be troubling to Republicans, who look to be at a demographic disadvantage for years to come.

Hope and Change: Part 2, by Thomas L. Friedman

We’ve already looked at what this loss means for the Republican Party moving forward, and Tom Friedman continues that train of thought. Echoing the ideas from his latest book, he looks at the challenges America faces in the future, and examines what role the GOP would have to play to be a productive part of the solutions.

Let’s Not Make a Deal, by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman predicts the Republicans to once again to hold the nation hostage over the looming fiscal cliff, refusing to compromise and threatening to let the nation hit the debt ceiling if the Bush tax cuts aren’t extended. But the columnist urges President Obama to stand his ground on this issue, and take the plunge if necessary. Krugman and Obama as our Thelma and Louise? I can’t wait. (And who plays Brad Pitt in this scenario?)

President Obama’s Behind-the-Scenes “Thank You” Speech

After a grueling campaign – and the last one he will ever run – the newly re-elected President reflects back on his own youth and the high hopes he has for the army of young volunteers gathered around him. Unafraid to show his raw emotion or the tears of gratitude running down his face, his speech is gracious and powerful.

Cheer Up, Republicans, by William Saletan

William Saletan over at finds a silver lining for the Republican Party – President Obama is really one of them in disguise. The only problem for the GOP is that this moderate Republican was forced to run for the other side, because they were too busy nominating crazy people.

How did Nate Silver Get the Election Odds so Wrong? by Buzz Skyline

This well-meaning but poorly thought through article looks at Nate Silver’s near-perfect record of predicting election results and comes to the conclusion that Mr. Silver is a witch, or worse. (Okay, he doesn’t actually say that.) The author argues that FiveThirtyEight’s own odds only gave between 50.3% and 96.7% probabilities for being right on each individual state, but Silver pulled off the highly improbable feat of calling every race but one correctly. What he forgets about, though, is that the probabilities reflect not only random variance in voter turnout, but also highly correlated results. Here’s Nate Silver himself explaining before the election that Romney’s only chance at victory is systematic statistical bias in the polls, which would affect all states nearly uniformly.

And finally, for some non-election news…

Meet the most indebted man in the world, by Matthew O’Brien

Remember Jérôme Kerviel? The rogue trader who cost French bank Société Générale several billion Euros in losses a few years back? Well, he still owes them that money. This article looks at how such an enormous assumption of risk was even possible without higher-ups noticing.

Secrets, Schemes and Lots of Guns: Inside John McAfee’s Heart of Darkness, by Jeff Wise

John McAfee, millionaire founder of the eponymous antivirus software, has moved to the jungle of Belize and surrounded himself with a small army of ex-con bodyguards, in a bizarre attempt to turn himself into a cross between Col. Kurtz and Scarface. A fascinating story, and worth a read.

That’s it for this week – if you have any suggestions for next week’s collection of links…well, I’m not really sure what to tell you in that case, because Watson doesn’t like talking to strangers.

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