Ralph Nader Versus Lucy Liu

Since this is my first BLM column, introductions may be in order. I'm Joshua Samuel Brown, part time travel writer, part time political columnist, part time gentleman farmer. From 2000-2004 I wrote a column called "Politics and Other Dirty Words" for two newspapers in Colorado.

So much for introductions.

Colorado. An important state politically, then and now. Its an odd coincidence that this year's Democratic Convention will be held in the very same town where, in 2000, I had the privilege of being able to watch Ralph Nader accept the nomination as the Green Party's presidential candidate. I was, at the time, a Nader supporter, having bought into the idea (popular at the time, and quite plausible) that there was little difference between candidates Bush and Gore. Perhaps we were right. Maybe Gore was merely 'the lesser evil'.

But look what 'the greater evil' brought us.

But that's all old history, or so Justice Scalia would have us all believe, and anyway I'm digressing far too early. Focus....Focus!

This election cycle offers us a far different ball-game; Even without discounting Barack's post-nomination rightward drift (the subject for another column, on another day - wouldn't want to ruin any body's buzz, would I?) the electorate hasn't had a clearer-cut choice between candidates since the 1970's (77's Vader v. Kenobi).

The Iraq War. One candidate wants to end it inside of 18 months (though, to be fair, said candidate still wants to keep bases there, which I and many others think is an incredibly bad idea); the other publicly advocates not merely continuing the war until 2108, but also sings about bombing Iran.

Gas Prices. One candidate wants to institute a Marshall Plan to wean America off of oil, the other wants to begin backyard drilling.

Climate Change: One candidate believes in it, the other doesn't believe he'll live long enough to be affected by it.

The list goes on.

This being the case, the argument of left-leaning Nader supporters playing the "both sides are the same" card seems fairly weak, especially given a) what happened in 2000, and b) the belief held by some (myself included) that if this race gets too close (a narrative the MSM seems bent on creating) dirty tricks may again hand the election to what they themselves readily admit is the greater of two evils.

Despite this, there are still those dogmatically supporting Nader's 2008 bid, on the grounds that both BO and JM are "corporate candidates," from whom nothing good can come.

One of these Nader supporters happens to also be one of my closest friends. For a number of months we've been engaged in discussions - often heated - with my friend taking the position that - while he agrees that a McCain victory would be a disaster - he still supports Nader. I have been trying to convince him that, in a tight election, a vote for Nader is a vote for McCain, an argument he rejects.

Despite the landslide predicted by some Obama supporters, I can't help but think it would be foolish for Democrats to ignore Nader & his position in the way that Gore did in 2000. (I was myself a Nader supporter back then, only changing my own position in my column - Politics & Other Dirty Words - at the 11th hour when I realized how tight the vote would be). However, Obama's recent center (or even right) turns - real or merely perception, and I'm not writing to argue this now - does add fuel to the idea that he is merely another corporate candidate.

My friend ended a recent email volley with the comment, "I cannot imagine Obama being anything other than a corporate president. I prefer to imagine Ralph Nader as president".

My reply to this was that my friend was engaging in imagination. Like if I were to imagine myself having sex with a major Hollywood celebrity...say, Lucy Liu.

And this got me to thinking about which event, statistically speaking, is more likely: Ralph Nader being elected in 2008, or my scoring with Lucy Liu.

Though highly unlikely, is it impossible that a romantic liaison between myself and Lucy Liu will ever take place? She did a Futurama episode, so she's probably geek-friendly. I speak Chinese, which she might think was cool. I mean, what it isn't impossible, right?

But are the chances of my scoring with Lucy Liu greater than those of Ralph Nader being elected president?

I begin first with careful consideration combined with spurious calculation. What would I need to do to make a romantic liaison between myself and a fantastically beautiful Hollywood celebrity like Lucy Liu occur?

Step One: Contact friend who works in the film industry and ask her to give me the email address of either Lucy Liu or someone who knows her.
(Chance of this happening - 1 in 2)

Step Two: Write an amazingly charming email to Ms. Liu that leads to an internet correspondence.
(Chance of Liu reading and responding to email - 1 in 50)

Step Three: Despite being a highly sought after, ravishingly beautiful
Hollywood celebrity, Ms Liu finds the idea of hooking up with a short, 39-year old guy who speaks Chinese and lives in rural Texas appealing.
(Impossible to gauge, but I'm putting it at 1 in 500)

Step Four: Since I'm married, it would have to be a threesome. (My wife and I were watching Kill Bill the other day, and she said Lucy Liu was totally hot, so I think she'd go for it). So Ms. Liu would also have to be a) bisexual and b) into threesomes.
(Since this isn't all that unusual nowadays, I'm giving this a good 1 in 5 chance)

Step Five: Lucy Liu comes to our farm in Texas, and she, myself and my wife really hit it off. In the morning, I cook us all breakfast
(Given the odds of steps one through four, I'm going to cut myself some slack and give this straight 50/50 odds)

Its at this point that my utter lack of understanding about either math or probability becomes problematic, because I don't actually know what to do with any of these figures. Do I add them? Multiply them? Who knows?

Since my strategy of guessing has taken me this far, might as well use it one more time. The odds against my hooking up with Lucy Liu: 1000 to 1.

Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

As luck would have it, 1000 to 1 against are the exact odds given me by the very kind James of Betgenius (a leading provider of technological and data-driven solutions to the sports betting industry that also dabbles in setting odds for political campaigns) of Ralph Nader winning the 2008 election.

(James was also kind enough to offer his opinion that my own odds with Ms. Liu were much worse than 1000-1; however - to be fair - he hadn't read the carefully-considered calculations laid out above.)

So where does this leave us - besides with the BLM administrator's realization that I'm a guy who knows how to wear out his welcome?

If my friend (and other Nader supporters) accept the following three statements as true:

  • A) An Obama presidency is preferable to a McCain presidency;

  • B) In a close election, Nader's votes could conceivably make a difference;

  • C) Nader's chance of winning is, roughly the same as my chance of making sweet love to Lucy Liu;

Then logic therefore dictates that they momentarily set aside their ideological purity and vote for Barack Obama in November.

And with that I bring my first column to a close so I can begin wooing Lucy.

Joshua Samuel Brown is a writer living in rural Texas. His own blog, Snarky Tofu, covers mostly his exploits as a guidebook writer for Lonely Planet. His book Vignettes of Taiwan is available at Amazon.


  1. Thanks, Mister Brown and welcome to the BLM team!


  2. 1,000 to 1 for Nader to win? Sorry - those might be the odds for a betting man, but statistically, based on real world calculations, Nader actually has a freezer burned popsicle's chance in hell of taking the White House - which means you should start your Lucy Liu engines. One thing is for sure: those who still support Nader can see only one thing - their navels. I've given up on the true believers; they are, to a person, amongst the most immature, self centered, least aware folks I know. It takes an adult to assess the real world consequences of one's actions, and this is a quality distinctly lacking (adulthood, that is) in every Naderite I've ever met, bar none. It ain't too tricky - thinking you have some inside line on the 'truth', the real story (in particular when the best available evidence counters such 'truth') can be extremely important to certain types of folks whose self concept is built on the need to feel special, and it's through the childish gullibility of such folks that Nader has proven himself not immune to the Peter Principle. One can only hope that laughable marginalization will do for Nader and his minions what it's doing for modern conservatism.

  3. Ralph tried to pick my grandmother up at a Republican Convention (a generous financier)quite a few years back. And aside from not liking his politics, agenda, or tactics, the system is rigged and there is no way he's getting into the White House unless he's paying for a tour.

  4. haha ralph, navels, gradmama ... great column JSB.

    Supporting Nader is laughable no doubt, so i throw my weight (all 72 kilos baby) behind obama. But not because I think he is "The One" but because, finally, we have a clear choice between a Mcmonkey and a Man. But he is still only a man and we shall see that his policies, if elected, will not match his inspirational, beautiful rhetoric. Be it the grinding gears of the system, or his own political nature, Obama will bow down as President and continue the War on Terrorism, albeit in a "more enlightened manner."

    I suppose his true test is not what he does on the foreign policy front, but how he manages to turn the US around and bring prosperity, hope and the prospect of a better life for Americans.

    I really hope he can pull off an energy revolution, repeal some nasty liberty snatching Bushisms and pump some optimism into the economy. we'll see ...

  5. Good article JSB. I laughed and cried. I feel allot of people are putting their eggs in one basket. To really think one man is going to do it all. I feel a large part of the problem is the American public and its laziness. It is going to take allot more than people are willing to do. Our generation really has no idea of hardships as a whole. We have been blessed with our parents success in turn the attitude "everything will work it self out" seems to have raised its nasty head. I over heard a conversation at a coffee shop the other day in which a younger male stated that everything will be fine, gas prices, economy, housing market, etc. would essentially correct itself with Obama in office. I fear this is a tone heard and felt by many people. "Wake UP", I wanted to say, it's going to take allot more.

  6. Sorry kinda got off the subject.To bring it full circle: "Rising" blood hunter.

  7. I don't buy the 1000 to 1 odds . . . on either question. Nader getting the White House may be set for a thou for betting purposes but the actual odds is more like 100,000 to 1 and that's probably being generous and those odds go down even further as time goes by. A significant number of voters in this election don't have any clue who Nader is or what he used to stand for, let alone who or what he is today. There are fringe hardcore supporters and then the ones who feel disenfranchised by the Republicans and the Democrats but they are likely unaware of what they are voting for when/if they vote for Nader. I agree that in a close vote the Nader votes are likely to strengthen McCain's run more than Obama's and so there could be an impact. I also agree that the folks looking for an easy win by Obama are ignoring a whole slew of things that are coming into play and some possible dirty pool to come. Obama's supporters should indeed be wooing Nader's front . . . but the appeal to fear of McCain winning isn't going to be enough . . . instead of an away from appeal telling people to vote against McCain by supporting Obama, they need a stronger towards appeal of what does Obama have that the Nader folks really and truly need to see in action now. Oh, Josh, sorry . . . but . . . 1 in 1000 is a bit generous for your chances with Lucy Liu. As I know how incredibly resourceful you really are . . . I'd say your chances are more like 1 in 10,000 (yes, much higher than a Nader victory) . . . and if she were to actually read your email, your odds go way up but still on the incredibly unlikely side . . . then again, you've got skills. BTW, does Lucy Liu speak Mandarin? Or is her Chinese ability like Firefly Mandarin?

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