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The New York Times this week published an "extremely detailed map of the 2016 election," which also happens to be extremely misleading and useless.

The election results most readers are familiar with are county maps like the ones we produce at The Times on election night. But votes are cast at a much finer unit of geography — in precincts, which may contain thousands of voters but in some cases contain only a handful. Our previous election maps contained results for about 3,100 counties; here we show results for more than 168,000 voting precincts.

The problem with the Times's map is that it promotes the visual narrative of a Donald Trump/Republican landslide. Just look at all that red! However, there are actual people in the blue areas. No matter, Trump probably already has the map pinned to the refrigerator in the White House residence. "Hey, Melanie! Look what I did!" "Yes, Donald, it's very pretty."


I suppose it bears repeating again that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. The margin wasn't narrow like Al Gore's in 2000 but roughly equal to the combined populations of Vermont, Wyoming, and South and North Dakota. Everyone understands this, though, so why am I yelling at the nice map? Well, about that...

Roughly half of voters who said they voted for Donald Trump last November, 49 percent, believe Trump won the popular vote, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. That's compared to 40 percent who say Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Overall, a majority of voters, 59 percent, believe Clinton won more votes than Trump, but 28 percent believe Trump won more votes.

Wow! A majority of Americans believe an easily verifiable fact. I'm overwhelmed by all the exceptionalism. The Electoral College is weird and crazy undemocratic. Get a few beers into the average American and they'll probably admit that it's a little, I dunno, crooked for the person who received fewer votes to win the White House Cadillac and set of steak knives. This map, with its sea of reds in varying shades, subtly makes us all feel better about the outcome of the 2016 election. Democracy stands!

Who let this guy into my post? Great, now I have to look at reality as it actually is. Thanks, Obama Mr. Cole! Look at all the empty space in the states that overwhelmingly voted for the guy with the empty head? It's no wonder Lex Luthor was so obsessed with land in the 1978 Superman movie. He knew it had the power of the vote.

There's also the demographic reality that minorities overwhelmingly live in densely populated blue areas, while white folks roam free in sparsely populated red areas. Viewed in racial terms, the Times map presents an inarguably white majority. However, if you're a Trump supporter, land doesn't really have your back. Land doesn't serve your meals in fancy farm-to-table restaurants or prepare your takeout sushi order.

No county in America voted more strongly for Mrs. Clinton than the District of Columbia. Only 7 percent of Mr. Trump's current neighbors, in the precinct surrounding the White House, voted for him. And the president would have to travel about 20 miles in any direction from the White House, beyond the Beltway, to find a precinct that voted for him.

Maybe Trump should consider moving his entire administration to one of the many empty areas on the map. He could call the new Trump-friendly capitol "Marina del Donald" or "Ivankaburgh." The funny thing, though, is that the wealthiest parts of the country are in the blue areas ("red" state arguably has a dual economic and political meaning). That's what's so ironic about the socialism debate. Critics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's diabolical scheme to transform the nation into a socialist nightmare state like to reference Margaret Thatcher's famous saying that "the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Well, a lot of "other people" live in the blue areas.

[XKCD.com]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins runs from March through May at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo.

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The producers of your favorite live-action Jack Chick pamphlet, "God's Not Dead" -- you know, the one where the Hercules dude plays an evil philosophy professor who tells all of his students on the first day that they are no longer allowed to believe in god? As all secular professors do? -- have come out with a thrilling new movie, all about how abortion is bad or whatever.

The movie tells the "true" story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic worker turned professional anti-choicer. Johnson has been a darling of the forced birth circuit ever since she made up ridiculous and provably false reasons for quitting the Planned Parenthood that was about to fire her for being bad at her job.

Basically, she claims that Planned Parenthood was pushing her to make more abortions happen so they could reel in more dough, and also that she witnessed (for the first time ever!) an ultrasound-guided abortion and saw the baby move from the light and then immediately realized that what she was doing was wrong.

The thing is, however -- no ultrasound-guided abortions were performed on the day she said it happened, and the only reason there was an uptick in abortions at her clinic was because they started offering the abortion pill on a daily basis (and had previously only been performing surgical abortions every other Saturday).

As you may have guessed, the movie does not address any of these things. It also looks very, very bad.

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Ever since Ruth Bader Ginsburg successfully underwent surgery for lung cancer, conservative sites and message boards have been trafficking in a ridiculous theory that she is actually dead and that there is some kind of Weekend at Bernie's-esque conspiracy to pretend she is still alive.

Now, one would think that her recent public appearance at a concert held in her honor would have put this to rest. Alas, it did not. Rather, the "researchers" (as they hilariously call themselves) determined that the concert was actually her funeral.

No. Really. That was a thing.

I admit that I gave this a lot more thought than I should have. Like, how did they think this would go? How long did they imagine this would go on for? Why would they risk having a full on funeral concert, open to the press? Wouldn't they just have not bothered to have a funeral at all? And what did these people think was going to happen when it was announced that she died for real? Or did they think that we were going to pretend that she is immortal and thus never announce her death? It's so confusing!

Being very up to date on the "RBG is secretly dead!" nonsense, I was very curious about which way the "anons" would go with this when they announced her return to work on Friday. They did not disappoint!

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