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#1
05-15-2020, 05:54 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779

## May 2020 probabilistic senate prediction competition

I have a Twitter robot that produces a probabilistic prediction for senate races of every day at 4:42 MT.

My prediction is derived directly from the prediction market PredictIt which has markets for 13 of the 35 senate races this fall where the ones there aren't markets for are pretty unlikely to be interesting. I perform a small adjustment to debias the market prices for favorite-longshot bias that I can go into more detail on should anyone request it.

Races:
Alabama
Arizona (special)
Georgia
Georgia (special)
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Maine
Michigan
Montana
North Carolina

Note: the Alaska race is between an incumbent Republican (Sullivan) and a Democratic Party independent (Al Gross). For the purposes of this contest I'm considering Gross a Democrat, which I'm sure would bother him to no end.

The goal is for each race to assign a value, D, between 0 and 1 that represents the probability that a Democrat wins the seat, and value, R = 1 - D, that represents that a Republican wins the seat.

A sample entry looks like this:

Code:
```Race			D	R
Alabama			2.8%	97.2%
Arizona (special)	83.4%	16.6%
Georgia			24.2%	75.8%
Georgia (special)	32.4%	67.6%
Iowa			27.1%	72.9%
Kansas			22.6%	77.4%
Kentucky		8.6%	91.4%
Maine			72.3%	27.7%
Michigan		84.2%	15.8%
Montana			49.3%	50.7%
North Carolina		69.4%	30.6%```
Entries will be submitted by posting in this thread. The most recent post by a user with a timestamp on or before May 31 will be that user's entry (i.e. you can change your entry until the end of May). I plan to post mine by on May 31, but the above sample will be my entry if I don't post an update.

After the election results are known, I will compute the Brier score for each entry. Lowest Brier score wins.

Can you, using polls, pundits, or pig entrails, outperform PredictIt this far out from an election?

Let's find out.

Last edited by Lance Turbo; 05-15-2020 at 05:56 PM.
#2
05-15-2020, 07:39 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Apr 1999 Posts: 28,023
Throw your predictions out the window until the second week of October, at the earliest.

The country is in the midst of a crisis that has affected the life of every single voter. We don't know how or when this will be resolved, and new heroes or villains my arise at any time.
#3
05-15-2020, 07:50 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Kent Clark Throw your predictions out the window until the second week of October, at the earliest.
No.
#4
05-15-2020, 10:53 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Questions:

(1) How will you rule if election(s) are postponed or ruled invalid?

(2) Depending on the answer to (1), I think most submissions will have p(D) + p(R) = 1. Will we have to submit both those probabilities or just p(D) with p(R) = 1 - p(D) implied?
#5
05-16-2020, 12:44 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus Questions: (1) How will you rule if election(s) are postponed or ruled invalid? (2) Depending on the answer to (1), I think most submissions will have p(D) + p(R) = 1. Will we have to submit both those probabilities or just p(D) with p(R) = 1 - p(D) implied?
(1) I'm not worried about it, but if that does come to pass, we'll have a lot more to worry about than this thread.

(2) As long as your intent is clear, I'm not going to be a stickler for any particular exact format.
#6
05-16-2020, 05:19 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
My submissions for p(D); p(R) = 1 - p(D) assumed.

Alabama 0
Arizona (special) 0.8
Georgia 0.2
Georgia (special) 0.3
Iowa 0.2
Kansas 0.2
Kentucky 0
Maine 0.55
Michigan 0.8
Montana 0.35
North Carolina 0.45
#7
05-16-2020, 09:58 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Excellent. Thank you for your submission. Keep in mind that you may change your entry as many times as you like until submissions close on May, 31.

I just realized now that I should probably specify a time zone so let's make it Chicago time. Thus entries are valid with a timestamp 11:59:59 PM CDT May, 31.

septimus, is there some reproducible method behind your numbers, or is that mostly your gut? You are not required to go in to any detail.
#8
05-16-2020, 10:01 AM
 Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: at the right hand of cool Posts: 42,810
My prediction: you aren't listing enough North Carolina senate races.
#9
05-16-2020, 10:16 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness My prediction: you aren't listing enough North Carolina senate races.
Could be, but I feel like Burr can hang on long enough so that his seat isn't up for grabs in 2020. He may step down the day after that deadline which is in August I think.
#10
05-16-2020, 11:07 AM
 Guest Join Date: Jan 2017 Posts: 238
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus Questions: (1) How will you rule if election(s) are postponed or ruled invalid? (2) Depending on the answer to (1), I think most submissions will have p(D) + p(R) = 1. Will we have to submit both those probabilities or just p(D) with p(R) = 1 - p(D) implied?
There is no legitimate reason to postpone elections. We can have valid elections using mail-in voting. If elections are postponed or invalidated, that will simply mean that we no longer have elections and there is really not much use predicting who will come out ahead.
#11
05-16-2020, 11:41 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
I believe that confidence in the November elections proceeding smoothly is misplaced, given the criminality of this Administration and Republican organizations more generally, and the fact that Covid-19 quarantining (or related effects) provides pretexts to postpone or invalidate elections.

The chance of such an electoral catastrophe may be only 10% or even less, but those who think it to be very close to Zero seem Pollyannish to me.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lance Turbo septimus, is there some reproducible method behind your numbers, or is that mostly your gut? You are not required to go in to any detail.
Nothing special. I started with your numbers but shaved them all to be more pessimistic. (I didn't check: were your numbers posted here the ones computed by your robot?) I thought pessimistic numbers were appropriate for two reasons:

(1) I am pessimistic. The GOP will create obstacles to voting for D voters. If Covid-19 deaths remain lowish outside blue states like New York, Trump's approach will be seen as successful by low-information voters. The Kremlin-GOP Lie Machine will drone on and on: After Tara Reade there will be something else. If anything, the numbers I submitted weren't pessimistic enough.

(2) I expect most Dopers to be more optimistic than your bot. Therefore simple game theory (cf. Ice cream vendor problem) implies that my best win chance will be in the "pessimistic" part of the beach.

Last edited by septimus; 05-16-2020 at 11:42 AM. Reason: moved a comma
#12
05-16-2020, 12:57 PM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
I guess the Dems in Alabama need to run against a child molester to win.
#13
05-16-2020, 02:35 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus Nothing special. I started with your numbers but shaved them all to be more pessimistic.
That's what I thought. The example I posted were computed by the bot at around the time of my post. It seemed like your were just a little more pessimistic version of mine, but I also thought you may be using Betfair or something else to inform your decision making.

Thanks again for submitting an entry. I hope some other posters are up to the challenge. In particular there are a handful of posters who are very dismissive of prediction markets. I'd like to see what they can do with a polls only approach. Or any other approach really.

Show me what you got. Can you get schwifty?
#14
05-16-2020, 02:41 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: San Jose Posts: 44,750
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Kent Clark Throw your predictions out the window until the second week of October, at the earliest. The country is in the midst of a crisis that has affected the life of every single voter. We don't know how or when this will be resolved, and new heroes or villains my arise at any time.
How is this useful?
#15
05-17-2020, 01:22 AM
 Domo Arigato Mister Moderato Moderator Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: On the run with Kilroy Posts: 23,668

## The Moderator Speaks

Title edited per OPs request.
#16
05-17-2020, 07:33 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
TY
#17
05-17-2020, 09:20 AM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
Burr is not going anywhere before August unless someone releases a big smoking gun on his stock sale. And I still say 63% is way high for Tillis to lose. All the people ticked off about the stay home orders are likely to blame that on Dems since gov Cooper is a Dem.
#18
05-17-2020, 09:36 AM
 Guest Join Date: Apr 2006 Posts: 280
I'll shoot for a perfect score:

Alabama 0
Arizona (special) 1
Georgia 0
Georgia (special) 0
Iowa 0
Kansas 0
Kentucky 0
Maine 1
Michigan 1
Montana 0
North Carolina 0
#19
05-17-2020, 10:57 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains And I still say 63% is way high for Tillis to lose. All the people ticked off about the stay home orders are likely to blame that on Dems since gov Cooper is a Dem.
You can keep on talking about how much smarter you are than prediction markets or you can do something about it. This thread is the perfect opportunity for you to show your stuff.
#20
05-17-2020, 12:05 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: San Jose Posts: 44,750
But some recent Senate polls have been so eye-popping that we’re compelled to write about them — if only to sound a note of caution.

Those polls imply a Democratic wave of truly epic proportions. In the space of just two days last week, we got:

Ultimately, it’s hard to know at this point if these polls are outliers or early indicators of an overwhelming Democratic electoral environment. But the fact that they are even remotely plausible reflects a vulnerability for the GOP in the age of the coronavirus. Americans are souring on President Trump’s handling of the crisis, and congressional Republicans are reportedly worried that it will drag them down too. The pandemic has also devastated the economy, which has historically been bad news electorally for the party in the White House. In the worst-case scenario, the outbreak could lead to a Democratic wave à la 2008, when an unpopular Republican president and a tanking economy helped elect President Barack Obama and gave Democrats full control of the federal government.
#21
05-17-2020, 12:41 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
To check my understanding of the scoring, I compared Calavera's score to mine in three cases.

Case a) Calavera's predictions are all correct
Case b) Calavera's except Collins wins in Maine
Case c) Calavera's except Collins wins and Tillis is defeated

Calavera's score
a) 0 (perfect)
b) -1
c) -2

Septimus' score
a) -.8275
b) -.9275
c) -1.0275

Arithmetic to compute Septimus' score
a) 0 -0 -.04 -.01 -.04 -.09 -.04 -.04 -0 -.2025 -.04 -.1225 -.2025
b) 0 -0 -.04 -.01 -.04 -.09 -.04 -.04 -0 -.3025 -.04 -.1225 -.2025
c) 0 -0 -.04 -.01 -.04 -.09 -.04 -.04 -0 -.3025 -.04 -.1225 -.3025

If several people enter the contest, presumably some will take the opportunity to play for perfect scores in cases b and/or c. I'm not sure that splitting the prize money among all those tied for best score is the right approach here.

@ Lance -- Does this look correct?
#22
05-17-2020, 01:42 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Your calculations are not correct. It's mean squared error.

Code:
```Scenario	Lance Turbo	septimus	Calavera
a		0.0889		0.0637		0.0000
b		0.1232		0.0713		0.0769
c		0.0933		0.0790		0.1538```
#23
05-17-2020, 01:55 PM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lance Turbo You can keep on talking about how much smarter you are than prediction markets or you can do something about it. This thread is the perfect opportunity for you to show your stuff.
How did prediction markets do for Clinton vs. Trump? I know most "experts" predicted Clinton to win easily. Including many UK bookies. Nate Silver was a rare case where he gave Trump about 1/3 chance of winning.

I'll bet you \$100 to charity of your choice if Tillis loses.

Last edited by Bijou Drains; 05-17-2020 at 01:59 PM.
#24
05-17-2020, 02:23 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
I won't bet you for two reasons...

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance No betting. Gambling between posters in GD and Politics and Elections over debate outcomes or real world events is forbidden. In the past we've had posters use this as a rhetorical device to abuse other posters and accuse them of lacking the courage of their convictions. It's a jerk move we have decided to no longer allow.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains I don't bet on political races.
If you don't wish to participate in this competition, just don't participate.
#25
05-17-2020, 02:26 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lance Turbo Your calculations are not correct. It's mean squared error.
I think your numbers become almost* identical to mine if you multiply by (-13) but you've come to the right message-board to practice pedantry!

* - Only almost identical because my numbers are exact; yours are rounded.
#26
05-17-2020, 02:27 PM
 Domo Arigato Mister Moderato Moderator Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: On the run with Kilroy Posts: 23,668

## The Moderator Speaks

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains I'll bet you \$100 to charity of your choice if Tillis loses.
No, you won’t. It’s specifically against the rules as of Jan 1 for posters to bet.

Please don’t do so again.

No warning issued.
#27
05-17-2020, 02:34 PM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
Still waiting to hear how betting markets did on Trump v Clinton in 2016?
#28
05-17-2020, 03:11 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains Still waiting to hear how betting markets did on Trump v Clinton in 2016?
Why?

#29
05-17-2020, 03:15 PM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lance Turbo Why? This thread is about probabilistic forecasts.
In other words, they did badly.
#30
05-17-2020, 03:20 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains In other words, they did badly.
No.

If you'd like to discuss the effectiveness of betting markets at predicting political outcomes, start a thread. I think you'll be surprised at what you learn.

If you'd like to participate in the competition in this thread, submit an entry.

Last edited by Lance Turbo; 05-17-2020 at 03:24 PM.
#31
05-17-2020, 03:24 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: San Jose Posts: 44,750
Hey, maybe you guys that want to argue about how good or how useful polls are- can start another thread, and leave us to discuss the Op and senate predictions? Please? We know polls arent always accurate. Thankyouverymuch.
#32
05-17-2020, 04:01 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains Still waiting to hear how betting markets did on Trump v Clinton in 2016?
IIRC they did MUCH better than most pundits. Pundits — and Dopers — thought Hillary was a shoo-in. Prediction markets, however, were giving Trump a big chance (though not more than 50% IIRC).
#33
05-18-2020, 08:31 AM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 12,068
I can predict races in October. For now I predict most incumbents will win with a few possible exceptions such as Colorado and Maine and Alabama.
#34
05-18-2020, 08:52 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Bijou Drains I can predict races in October. For now I predict most incumbents will win with a few possible exceptions such as Colorado and Maine and Alabama.
Great. I'll probably do another competition or two as the election gets closer. You're welcome to participate in those.

In the meantime, this thread is not for you.
#35
05-18-2020, 10:54 AM
 Domo Arigato Mister Moderato Moderator Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: On the run with Kilroy Posts: 23,668

## The Moderator Speaks

Let's dial it back a bit, people. We're all friends, here.
#36
05-18-2020, 01:51 PM
 SDSAB Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: 221B Baker St. Posts: 90,114
And see this earlier thread on U.S. Senate races nationwide in 2020: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=895277
#37
05-25-2020, 02:28 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
There's about a week left and there are only three entries thus far, although a couple of other posters dropped in to concede defeat by stating that they could not possibly enter such a contest until October.

Here's where we stand now including some minor updates to my entry. Others are free to update their entries as well.

Code:
```Race			Lance Turbo	septimus	Calavera
Alabama			2.7%		0.0%		0.0%
Alaska			7.3%		0.0%		0.0%
Arizona (special)	89.6%		80.0%		100.0%
Colorado		96.2%		90.0%		100.0%
Georgia			26.0%		20.0%		0.0%
Georgia (special)	30.9%		30.0%		0.0%
Iowa			25.2%		20.0%		0.0%
Kansas			19.3%		20.0%		0.0%
Kentucky		9.0%		0.0%		0.0%
Maine			71.0%		55.0%		100.0%
Michigan		87.2%		80.0%		100.0%
Montana			44.6%		35.0%		0.0%
North Carolina		67.1%		45.0%		0.0%```
So we have prediction market, pessimistic prediction market, and pessimistic prediction market rounded to the nearest integer .

It looks like some form of prediction market derived entry is going to win this thing unless we get some poll or pundit based entries.

Deadline is May 31 11:59:59 PM CDT.
#38
05-25-2020, 04:52 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
If we get a surge of new entries before month's end, I will probably move to an all-integer submission, like Calavera. I'll want whichever such submission seems most likely among the all-integer cases which have not been submitted by anyone else.

@ Lance — I'm not sure what your approach is here, but even supposing prediction perfection — that your submission minimizes expected total squared error — that is NOT the solution contestants should seek, given the Winner-Take-All scoring.
#39
05-25-2020, 06:39 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 2007 Location: Back at 5,280 Posts: 5,537
Alabama 1
Arizona (special) 1
Georgia 0
Georgia (special) 0
Iowa 0
Kansas 0
Kentucky 1
Maine 1
Michigan 1
Montana 1
North Carolina 1

I'm taking a differently course since you guys are all clustered. I'll finish either first or last. Still the Dem odds though.
#40
05-25-2020, 08:53 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus [...]given the Winner-Take-All scoring.
There's nothing to take (per board rules) so there's no reason to treat this contest as winner take all.

Integer solutions aren't really in the spirit of the contest, but I'm not going to disallow them. However, we don't really learn anything from integer solutions. Sure guessing each race correctly would result in a Brier score of zero, but is that a reproducible method? Is picking the integer solution that you find most likely and hasn't been picked by anyone else something that something that can be applied to future elections if it wins this contest?

My goal for this thread (and future threads like it) is to determine which probabilistic forecasts produced by the SDMB were most accurate 5 months out, 4 months out, etc. But it's beginning to look like my PredictIt derived forecast will win that distinction by being the only probabilistic forecast produced.

There's nothing wrong with a contest to see who can pick the most winners, but that wasn't the intent of this thread.

If everyone but me picks distinct integer solutions, I'll probably finish either first or second. That's a perfectly fine result for my method as far as I'm concerned. If it's only competition is guessing everything correctly, I'll be happy.
#41
05-26-2020, 01:21 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lance Turbo There's nothing to take (per board rules) so there's no reason to treat this contest as winner take all.
Even games played with pretend money have rules and definitions of victory. After our family poker game, all the money goes back in Mommy's coin jar, but we still know who won. You wrote: "After the election results are known, I will compute the Brier score for each entry. Lowest Brier score wins."

Quote:
 My goal for this thread (and future threads like it) is to determine which probabilistic forecasts produced by the SDMB were most accurate 5 months out, 4 months out, etc. But it's beginning to look like my PredictIt derived forecast will win that distinction by being the only probabilistic forecast produced.
My solution is still non-integer, and I'm "betting" on it. A single additional submission isn't enough for me to go all-integer.

Quote:
 There's nothing wrong with a contest to see who can pick the most winners, but that wasn't the intent of this thread.
YOU are the one who wrote: "Lowest Brier score wins." Perhaps you want to change this criterion? I pointed out the problem 8 days ago: " I'm not sure that splitting the prize money among all those tied for best score is the right approach [given Lance's apparent objective] here."
#42
05-26-2020, 10:19 AM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
This contest doesn't have prize money, pretend or otherwise, but if it helps you enjoy yourself to imagine prize money then, by all means, go for it.

"Lowest Brier score wins," does not imply that the winner takes all of the prize money that you, for some reason, are imagining, but feel free to pretend that it does if that helps motivate you. Definition of the victory condition does not imply a payout structure.

The important thing is to have fun so do whatever you need to do to have it.

If it is more enjoyable for you to maximize your chances of winning than to minimize your Brier score, then knock yourself out.
#43
05-26-2020, 04:33 PM
 Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: Trantor Posts: 13,846
P(D):
Alabama .01
Arizona (special) .8
Georgia .1
Georgia (special) .5 (When your husband is a billionaire, why take a stupid chance for a measely few million?
Iowa .3
Kansas 0
Kentucky .1
Maine .8
Michigan .99
Montana .5
North Carolina .5
#44
05-26-2020, 05:35 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Beautiful. Thank you for your submission.

May I ask, is there a method to your madness? Psychohistory perhaps?
#45
05-27-2020, 08:04 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Revised submission:

Alabama 0
Arizona (special) 0.8
Georgia 0.2 0
Georgia (special) 0.3 0
Iowa 0.2
Kansas 0.2
Kentucky 0
Maine 0.55 0.57
Michigan 0.8 0.82
Montana 0.35 0.39
North Carolina 0.45 0.77

No particular changes to my views. Just trying to move toward less crowded parts of this 13-dimensional beach!
#46
05-29-2020, 02:06 PM
 Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Asheville, NC Posts: 4,779
Five entries in and we still have until the end of Sunday to enter.

The entries:

Code:
```Race			Lance Turbo	septimus	Calavera	Oredigger77	Hari Seldon
Alabama			7.8%		0.0%		0.0%		100.0%		1%
Alaska			3.6%		0.0%		0.0%		0.0%		0%
Arizona (special)	89.5%		80.0%		100.0%		100.0%		80%
Colorado		96.2%		100.0%		100.0%		100.0%		90%
Georgia			24.6%		0.0%		0.0%		0.0%		10%
Georgia (special)	31.6%		0.0%		0.0%		0.0%		50%
Iowa			26.9%		20.0%		0.0%		0.0%		30%
Kansas			18.5%		20.0%		0.0%		0.0%		0%
Kentucky		8.9%		0.0%		0.0%		100.0%		10%
Maine			73.1%		57.0%		100.0%		100.0%		80%
Michigan		87.4%		82.0%		100.0%		100.0%		99%
Montana			46.9%		39.0%		0.0%		100.0%		50%
North Carolina		68.7%		77.0%		0.0%		100.0%		50%```
If you check your entry and find something amiss, please let me know. I caught one typo earlier today.

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