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Pessimism

Posted by Ogged
on 10.07.16

This means Mike Pence is going to be president, doesn't it?

Also, fuck everyone who 1) acts outraged but doesn't rescind an endorsement or 2) didn't rescind an endorsement after any of the previous five hundred horrible things Trump said and did. Craven, the lot of them.


 

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This is a story of a hurricane

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.07.16

As far as I can tell, hurricane forecasts seem to underestimate the bend of the hurricane once it hits land. Predictions are never far enough north along the East coast, or far enough east if it's Louisiana, or south if it's the west coast of Florida.

I'm trying to figure out how hitting land would alter the trajectory, and I'm picturing it like this: suppose you have a gear which is spinning clockwise as it travels across an ocean, and the coast is an edge of teeth, so the gear will lock in and start to roll when it hits. What would make it roll north vs. south?

If the rotation is the strongest force going on in the gear, then the rotation of the gear would make it roll south. If the forward momentum of the eye of the gear is the strongest force, then it would roll north?

We must have a climatologist out there. Is this right? And is my original observation right?


 

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Fellow Feeling

Posted by Ogged
on 10.07.16

This is some very smart analysis of the Trump phenomenon in context.


 

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Statistics of Gerrymandering

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.06.16

Sam Wang's three statistical tests for gerry-mandering are beautiful:


This Article proposes three statistical tests to reliably assess asymmetry in state-level districting schemes: (1) an unrepresentative distortion in the number of seats won based on expectations from nationwide district characteristics; (2) a discrepancy in winning vote margins between the two parties; and (3) the construction of reliable wins for the party in charge of redistricting, as measured by either the difference between mean and median vote share, or an unusually even distribution of votes across districts.

They're so simple, and capture eloquently what the problem is.

Here you can enter data and it will run the tests for you.


 

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Avoid, avoid

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.05.16

Are you and I procrastinating on the same thing? I am procrastinating on grading.


 

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SEK

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.05.16

Longtime friend of the blog SEK is extraordinarily sick at the moment, awaiting several organ transplants at the hospital. I don't know any details! I just saw the concern on FB. It looks like he posted overnight,

So I apparently died in the car on the way to Houston Saturday, but guess what?

(what being a video clip.)


 

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Knowing That

Posted by Ogged
on 10.04.16

I'll bet not one of you will be able to come up with a counterexample.



 

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Mass hysteria

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.16

My local mothers FB group - perhaps not the most critical of thinkers, hard to say - is losing its collective mind over this clown shit. The moderators are stepping in and cracking down on fear-mongering. A bunch of them are like, "Is it fear-mongering if we're just trying to keep our children safe?!?"

(My 6 year old neighbor warned me that if I see a clown, I should lock my door. He's probably got an axe. Covered in blood. And a girl was killed behind my house.)

Obviously, if you do see a clown, there is only one canonical response.


 

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Unsearchable databases

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.16

How to trace a gun:

[L]et's pretend there's a miracle and we definitely know we have a Taurus PT 92 and it has a legible serial number. We may now move on to Step Two.
Step Two: Hester calls the manufacturer (if it's a U.S.-made gun) or the importer (for foreign-made guns). He wants to know which wholesaler the gunmaker sold the weapon to. Basically you say, "Hey, who did you sell this gun to?"
Gun importers are licensed by the ATF, and they have to keep records of acquisitions and sales. So the importer has to go through all his gun records and find that particular Taurus PT 92 with that particular serial number, find what batch it was in, and tell you what wholesaler it went to.
Step Three: You call the wholesaler and say, "Who did you sell it to?" The wholesaler, who also has to keep such records, goes through the same rigmarole the importer or manufacturer did, and he gives you the name of the gun store that ordered it from him. Let's say it was Walmart.
Step Four: This could go one of two ways. If the Walmart is still in business, you call it. The actual store. Not corporate headquarters, or some warehouse, but the actual Walmart in Omaha or Miami or Wheeling. You call that store and you say, "To whom did you sell this Taurus PT 92 with this particular serial number on it?" By law, every gun dealer in America has to keep a "bound book" or an "orderly arrangement of loose-leaf pages" (some have been known to use toilet paper in protest) to record every firearm's manufacturer or importer, model, serial number, type, caliber or gauge, date received, date of sale. This record corresponds to the store's stack of 4473s, which some clerk has to go dig through in order to read you the information from the form. Or he can fax it. Congratulations. You have found your gun owner.


This mess brought to you courtesy of this law:

That's been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No searchable database of America's gun owners. So people here have to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn over to the feds when requested. It's kind of like a library in the old days--but without the card catalog. They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name.

I kind of knew about this law, but it's still interesting to read about the work-arounds.


 

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Tips

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.02.16

What makes a good block-walker? I went block-walking yesterday for a local election, with the candidate (Hispanic male) and an older man. Nobody engaged in conversation with me, and several people wouldn't open their doors more than a few inches. (We were only knocking on doors of people who had voted in the last few local elections.)

I'm not surprised that people wanted to talk to the candidate himself. And small sample size, maybe just luck of the draw. But I did much worse than the third block walker, the older white man.

I had Ace and Rascal with me, in a wagon, eating snacks. I was dressed completely unremarkably. Is "vaguely harried mother" just going to carry zero credibility? More than one person refused to engage politically but had a brief nice thing to say about the kids.

I'm not sure how finely tuned people's yankee radar is, and whether I'm triggering that when I walk up the driveway. Or if it's sexism. Or awkwardness and lack of some secret code that I don't know. Or just random fluctuations due to sample size.


 

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