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1  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: When does Human life begin? on: September 03, 2015, 10:36:38 pm
To the anti-abortion crowd: if you are opposed to abortion, why are you not opposed to the morning after pill? It seems like such an arbitrary distinction.

Most varieties of the morning after pill do not kill a fertilized embryo, they prevent ovulation and thus prevent fertilization from occurring. Fertilization doesn't actually happen until ~a week after intercourse. So it's a contraceptive. Being Catholic, I'm morally opposed to that too except in the case of rape, but it's certainly less wrong than abortion and it's also not politically relevant so it doesn't get discussed in political venues.

Like I said, that really seems like an arbitrary distinction. Either way, it prevents the birth of a baby which would have otherwise been born. This also applies to condoms, IMO.

No because after conception, the lump of cells start to form into a fetus of an unborn baby. While your using a condom, you aren't killing a baby, an abortion during a pregnancy you are.

My point is this:

If you don't intervene (by putting on a condom), in 9 months a baby will be born.
If you don't intervene (by having an abortion), in 9 months a baby will be born.

In both scenarios, you are preventing the same outcome. Why do you have a problem with one and not the other?

Prevention is not the same as termination. To terminate something it must first begin.

Then there is the question as to whether the existence of a unique individual is sufficient to have equal legal status as a human. Are there two standards involved, one biological and one legal? For instance it is common to recognize whole brain death as the end of an individual's legal status even though the body is still living (heart beat etc.).

Consider the situation if whole brain death, that is the irreversible cessation of brain activity including the brain stem, is the standard to mark the end of legal existence. Then shouldn't that imply that the onset of that level of brain activity marks the beginning of legal existence?
2  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / Re: If the President-Elect dies... on: September 03, 2015, 10:15:06 pm
Doesn't the Speaker's or the President Pro Tempore's ascension to Acting President depend on their resignation? They could simply decline it, right?

And if they did ascend, if they nominated and confirmed a Vice President, would that Vice President immediately become President?

This was a very real question in 2000. If the FL recount had not been resolved by SCOTUS, there were various legal groups investigating what might happen if FL electoral votes did not arrive for Congress to count them. Speaker Hastert was considering the possibility that he might be called upon to serve as Acting President until the FL situation was resolved. He was considering whether or not to accept if called upon.

nb. I'm going to delete your post in the ancient thread even though the title there might be more appropriate.
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Your opinion on common core on: September 02, 2015, 08:22:19 am
Can't the country have a common core of standards without running children and teachers through the hoops of continuous exams and standardized tests? I support regulating the content and quality of curricica objectives across the country—it makes sense that all Americans should receive the same standard of education and have a similar basic skill set coming out of school. But why the tests after tests?

In the Ontario public school system we had the following standardized tests:

EQAO Grade 3: Math, Language Arts (no link with final grades)
CCAT Grade 4: Cognitive Abilities (?) (basically to identify gifted students) (no link with final grades)
EQAO Grade 6: Math, Language Arts (no link with final grades)
EQAO Grade 9: Math (score was partly tied with final math mark)
EQAO Grade 10: Literacy (required for graduation)

Teachers even argue that these tests are excessive. I certainly see no reason why any school system would want to have kids do more.

The test after test mentality grew out of a number of states in the 1990's where parents wanted more accountability for the education delivered by the schools. The tests weren't really about assessing the student progress, teachers were doing fine with traditional in-class tests. The issue was how to assess the school's progress when so many were demonstrably graduating children lacking basic skills.

The drive for school accountability went national with NCLB in 2001. It required tests with roughly the same frequency that your list in Canada does. Since RTTT required more accountability, the usual response was to test more frequently - every year in some cases.
4  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: September 01, 2015, 10:54:33 pm
I'm still concerned as to how a computer draws a VRA-compliant map for IL, NY, or CA. In IL at the legislative level it would be extremely difficult to code that. Notwithstanding any of that, why not open up the process to the public in parallel with any computer algorithm that runs. It seems to me that would work in favor of the negotiation aspect in your proposal.
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: September 01, 2015, 09:12:43 pm
The link to the correct numbers was in my earlier post.

My idea since the OH competition has been similar to what you have. I like the bargaining idea which I hadn't considered. I have to think about the Survivor aspect of the proposal, which is certainly novel. However, I don't think a computer as map maker works.

Redistricting is an example of a NP-complete problem known to computer science. It basically says you can't guarantee that any algorithm will converge to an optimal solution or set of optimal solutions in polynomial time - that means the time grows exponentially as the state becomes more complex and counties require chops. It also means you can't readily defend in court that the computer will beat a neutral mapper.

I favor making the computer the judge of what is EPO, a task well suited to NP-complete problems. Anyone, including someone using a computer algorithm, can submit a plan to be judged. A human commission would support the judging algorithm to guard against hacks and to make sure all legal niceties are followed including the VRA.
6  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: September 01, 2015, 01:15:47 pm



It looks like you are not using the 7/1/14 Census estimates for VA. Are you using ACS numbers instead?


Quote
Btw, I notice your Hampton Roads metro area incurs a pack penalty by virtue of VA-02 taking in Northampton. So that offsets my pack penalty for the Richmond metro area, assuming your map avoids that, which I assume it does given that erose grey CD of yours. Smiley

By the way, given your strict hewing to the Muon2 metrics, what is your thinking regarding jettisoning the year round ferry or bridge rule?  Isn't that a cheat? It seems that is about the same thing as doing a traveling chop to make a map work. If your exercise is to slavishly follow your rules to see what kind of maps it generates, then as you say, one needs to be consistent. Anyway, it only seems fair that if you do that, than I get to jettison the Jimtex metro area definitions, which while having a justification, are esoteric, when I find it convenient to do so. Or maybe doing it either way is OK for cover and pack penalties.

I am not trying to twist the knife here, but given all the hard work you are doing, it strikes me as an issue that you might think about, if only as a discipline, so that your portfolio of maps all play by the same rules. Also you seem to let the chop metric dominate over the erosity metric, when generating your portfolio. In that regard, putting aside your grey CD, a lot of erosity points are involved with respect to the macro chop of Fairfax by either VA-10 or VA-08. It may be that picking one CD or the other to make the macro-chop might save a sufficient number of erosity points, that it makes it a good bargain  to incur the concomitant cover and pack penalty points (if VA-08 is the superior choice from an erosity standpoint).  Maybe you might think about drawing two maps for each state, one erosity sensitive, and one chop sensitive (within reason of course). That might help folks get an idea of how your rules play out when balancing off and mix and matching the two competing metrics. Just some thoughts by me.

You may have detected me cringing when I wrote about the use of the ferry in my VA map. I only relented in an apples to apples comparison with your work and jimrtex's comments. I'll be happy to return to the stricter rules for connectivity.

I appreciate your suggestion about two maps emphasizing different features. As I noted at the beginning of this series, the best is probably to reduce chops and erosity by allowing inequality to rise to to a few percent. There's a cumulative error of a about a half percent per year due to changing patterns of migration, births and deaths. So 2014 data used for 2020 CDs should probably allow a 3% variance to the quota. I've run studies to show that a map of IA drawn with minimal deviation and one drawn with 0.5% maximum deviation will have statistically similar deviations after 2 1/2 years, equal to the time between the census and the first general election.
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Your opinion on common core on: September 01, 2015, 08:57:21 am
I guess I've never really cared enough to know what the big deal is about it...so, what are the arguments?  The only things I do know is that kids do standardized testing way more than they (we) used to, and that apparently a lot of teachers spend a lot of time preparing students for these tests.  It seems to me neither of those is a good thing, but I"m willing to be...ahem....schooled on the subject.

As I noted, the testing is a result of NCLB and RTTT, not from Common Core. Common Core is used to satisfy those federal programs because a state then gets more points of credit with the feds.
8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: September 01, 2015, 08:53:31 am
I don't like the erosity of your grey CD, but then we do have different philosophies about that. I am willing to chop when the erosity gets to be too much, absent a darn good reason to do otherwise. But then you already know all of this all too well about me! Smiley

Anyway, these maps are more about how legislatures interested in good government maps due to political power splits, or courts, will draw the lines, as opposed to following your unique rules (and up to a point mine). (In regard, the Jimtex definition of metro areas is totally unique, and I don't think most folks would view Stafford and Spotsylvania as part of the DC metro area.) Among other things, I suspect courts are more interested in "art" than you are. Tongue

Your art has always differed from mine. Tongue For example I find that your NW peninsula out of CD 5 and jut and chops around Richmond to add far more erosity than the clean L-shape of my CD 7. I do hope you are not abandoning the idea of measurable metrics to judge maps.

edit: The Census agrees with jimrtex that Fredricksburg and the two adjacent counties are part of the DC metro.

edit2: I think I found the math discrepancy. First the April to July shift is 0.25 of a year. Then the formula to get the annual rate is (estimate/census)^(1/4.25) - 1. The projection is census*(rate + 1)^10. I also had to correct for the fact that Bedford city was separate from the county in 2010, but they are together for the county estimate.

Right you are. The census excel list does not have Bedford City listed. So with that correction, my numbers for the VA total and per CD are 8,806,268.366 and 733,855.6972, respectively. So we are still off from each other.

If you have the numbers that go into the three counties I listed, I can perhaps reverse engineer our discrepancy.
9  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett wants body cameras on all police officers on: September 01, 2015, 06:34:59 am
IL enacted a law this year that sets uniform standards for police body cameras. The law doesn't mandate cameras, but does enhance a fund from criminal and traffic fines that will provide grants to local departments to get body cameras (previously just for vehicle cameras).
10  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: the Beer thread on: September 01, 2015, 06:23:25 am
My tastes vary on the weather, food, and many other factors. To pick one I'll go local,

Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
11  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Moody's Election Model: Democrats to win 2016 in landslide on: September 01, 2015, 06:18:38 am
LOL at that being a landslide.
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Your opinion on common core on: September 01, 2015, 05:10:56 am
Common Core is about states adopting standards for Math and English that are aligned with 21st century needs - an internet driven economy with readily available computers. Those standards changed the relative emphasis of topics in those two areas from what most states were using. The goal is to reduce the amount of remediation needed in college as well as provide students with basic skills needed in today's job market. States were not expected to have a 100% match to all the standards - 85% was considered sufficient for the program.

Common Core is not about how often students are tested. Part of the push in 2008 was from states looking for a waiver from No Child Left Behind, which does have testing requirements. Common Core was expected to generate a pool of questions that would meet the standards and save states money to independently develop questions to meet NCLB. States that adopt most of the standards can then utilize common testing services now provided by a number of private companies. Testing remains part of federal law through NCLB and the 2009 Race to the Top funds. Neither NCLB nor RTTT require Common Core, but it is designed to meet federal requirements if states use it.
13  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Is there any difference between "individual politics" and "political debate"? on: September 01, 2015, 01:13:15 am
The content and differences for the two boards has changed over the years. In the 2004 season IP was used for posts about direct personal interactions with politics, such as someone going to a candidate event. More recently IP had become a repository of many "opinion of" type threads, including some that were marginally political. Once some of the opinion threads were shunted to Off Topic, the purpose of IP is less distinct from PD.

Perhaps all the opinion of threads should be moved to the demography board. In the end, all opinions can be tied to demographics. Our opinions are a function of our experiences, and that is correlated with demographics. What do you think Muon2?

It seems quick hit opinion threads have an enduring popularity, they just need a good home somewhere ...
14  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Is Counterparts the best band from Canada of all time? on: August 31, 2015, 09:51:33 pm
I'll stick with their giants of the late '60's: The Guess Who, Steppenwolf, and of course The Band.
15  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: August 31, 2015, 09:17:36 pm
All the maps I've posted for 2020 in this thread have assumed work by a neutral commission. That doesn't mean I expect any of the states to adopt said commissions by then. It was a point of interest in some states going into 2010 to see what their states might look like if drawn neutrally. I assume that interest will be there for the next cycle as well.

In the case of VA, Gov McDonnell went so far as to create a Bipartisan Redistricting Commission in 2011, though it had no real authority. That suggests to me that VA would be interested to see how neutral criteria would affect their state.

I still think this is an important question for neutral mapping efforts using defined criteria:
It seems to me that neutral criteria either recognize that a state has section 2 obligations or that it doesn't. If it does then the path is clear. But here, I am prone to agree with you that it does not have a section 2 obligation. How then does one construct a neutral map that still provides an opportunity for minorities to elect a candidate of choice?
16  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Is there any difference between "individual politics" and "political debate"? on: August 31, 2015, 09:02:01 pm
The content and differences for the two boards has changed over the years. In the 2004 season IP was used for posts about direct personal interactions with politics, such as someone going to a candidate event. More recently IP had become a repository of many "opinion of" type threads, including some that were marginally political. Once some of the opinion threads were shunted to Off Topic, the purpose of IP is less distinct from PD.
17  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: August 31, 2015, 07:30:40 pm
Counties in the MSAs are divided by the Census into central and outlying counties. The MSAs had too many rural outlying counties that made it in solely due to relative numbers of commuters in and out, not based on the density of populated areas. Some outlying counties had population centers that were deservedly in the metro, so using central counties only was unsatisfactory. We spent weeks haggling over the UCC definitions to balance those two points and come to a consensus agreement. I'm not going to abandon them to aid one map over another Tongue

Torie, what do you have for your projected VA CD now?

732,463.1096 per CD.

I am well aware of Jimtex's rationale. It even makes some sense in theory. But this exercise was not about maxing the Muon2 score, but rather what seemed like the best map that would fly politically, and keep both sides reasonably happy, while still being a good map. (This is more than a theoretical exercise if Gov. McAuliffe gets reelected, as seems more likely than not.) Your map runs the risk of jettisoning two black congressmen, including one existing one, and also violates the bridge or full time ferry rule (seasonal ferries do not count, and I checked that issue myself, before just abandoning the rule (not the law in VA obviously), due to other considerations, just as you did). Anyway, even under your rules, putting aside our mutual cheat on the ferry issue, I think I win on the erosity front, so it is not as if I am knocked out of the box from a pareto optimality standpoint. The bottom line is that your map will never, ever, be enacted into law, as I am sure that you probably agree.  Mine might.

Hmm. We are still off by quite a bit. I get 734,390 for a CD. If we can compare here are three counties in my 2020 projection: Appomattox 15,703; Arlington 255,785; Augusta 74,014.

I appreciate that you are trying to thread a political needle of sorts in VA. It seems to me that neutral criteria either recognize that a state has section 2 obligations or that it doesn't. If it does then the path is clear. But here, I am prone to agree with you that it does not have a section 2 obligation. How then does one construct a neutral map that still provides an opportunity for minorities to elect a candidate of choice? You don't seem to like my idea of MCCs as a CoI to balance UCCs - contiguous sets of counties (or subdivisions for chopped counties) that exceed a certain minority fraction (40% BVAP in this case).

VA at one point discussed going to a commission system. I remain convinced that commissions should have firm rules to guide their mapmaking. It is on a commission basis that I'm looking at the 2020 projections.
18  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Establishment Strikes Back - Planning Anti-Trump TV Campaign in September on: August 31, 2015, 07:10:12 pm
There's a big difference at play with Trump. He is not running a conventional campaign like Gingrich. He is running what I would call a reality TV campaign. Hes a celebrity and his baggage is known and acceptable as part of his image. I don't see normal political ads working against this kind of campaign. Instead one would have to construct a campaign like one would to bring down a popular contestant on American Idol. Siphon some voters off to keep another popular candidate from getting eliminated and make an also ran suddenly the fad of the month.
19  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: August 31, 2015, 02:04:54 pm
Counties in the MSAs are divided by the Census into central and outlying counties. The MSAs had too many rural outlying counties that made it in solely due to relative numbers of commuters in and out, not based on the density of populated areas. Some outlying counties had population centers that were deservedly in the metro, so using central counties only was unsatisfactory. We spent weeks haggling over the UCC definitions to balance those two points and come to a consensus agreement. I'm not going to abandon them to aid one map over another Tongue

Torie, what do you have for your projected VA CD now?
20  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: When does Human life begin? on: August 31, 2015, 09:31:16 am
As much as I appreciate muon's answer, I would say my own conclusion is it begins at implantation-- which I identify as conception.

Implantation is usually about halfway between fertilization and segmentation - about a week. Only about 1% of identical twins occur due to splitting after implantation, so using implantation as the start point has far less chance of running into the identical twin identity paradox I described. Implantation is also more readily measurable than segmentation due to specific hormonal signals that can be measured in the mother.
21  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: does it seem that the 70s brought out a sort of on: August 31, 2015, 07:15:26 am
There was plenty of that type of song in the 50's-60's, particularly with the popular jazz vocalists of the day. Rock vocals took over that role in the late 60's and jazz vocals fell out of favor in popular music, but the themes in your link were present in song long before 1970.
22  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: When does Human life begin? on: August 31, 2015, 02:48:57 am
I have to say other. I'm taking the question literally and separating it from the question of when do human rights begin.

During the first 15 days after fertilization the cells of the zygote remain undifferentiated. It is in this period that the zygote can split in two forming identical twins. A split does not always result in twins, since undifferentiated cells can come loose from the zygote and not develop further. Around the 16th day the cells of the zygote differentiate into three layers (segmentation) and twinning becomes impossible. It is also by the point of differentiation that most non-viable genetic combinations (including interspecies zygotes) fail to survive.

The question of human identity involves an individual. Identical twins are two persons and have two identities. Before segmentation one cannot say with any certainty whether an individual exists or if there will be more than one. If human life begins at fertilization, when does life begin for an identical twin? One can't say that a second individual occurs when cells split from the zygote, since that often doesn't result in a twin. It is only when both parts of a split zygote become segmented that one can say that two individuals exist. So, it seems the earliest point one can identify a new human individual is at segmentation.
23  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Opinion of South Dakota on: August 30, 2015, 08:17:46 pm
The Black Hills have far more than Mt Rushmore. There is Wind Cave, Hot Springs, Crazy Horse, and the great Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (doubt it - ask any biker). The Badlands just to the east of the Black Hills and are one of the best natural formations in the US. One can easily spend a week enjoying the area.

To the east, well, there is the Mitchell Corn Palace where the facade and murals are made of grain.
24  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Donald Trump supports negotiating with terrorists on: August 30, 2015, 03:04:51 pm
Trump supports negotiation with whomever, especially if he gets to be the negotiator. That's been the message I've picked up from him since his announcement.
25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Good Meals for People Living Alone (Leftovers +++) on: August 30, 2015, 08:36:06 am
Here are two simple recipes of quite different scale that I posted in the "What have you eaten for dinner?" thread.

It was my turn to cook but no one had time to get to the grocery store so I was constrained to food available. Here's what I put together.

I took six slices of bacon and sauteed them until they were just starting to brown, then I poured off the grease and added a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I added a sliced sweet onion, two crushed garlic cloves and the skin of a small hot pepper. I let that saute until the onions were soft and starting to brown. I deglazed the pan with a bit of cognac then added a small can of tomato sauce and a chopped leaves of thyme, parsley, and basil from the garden (about 1/2 cup total). I added a third of a can extra water and salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer for 15 min. While it was simmering I boiled 3/4 pound of linguine. The bacon and onion sauce was tossed with the drained linguine and topped with a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I served it with a Malbec-Tannat wine from Argentina.

I was out shopping with my kids for college, so dinner was more of a late snack. I made a tasty wrap by spreading some pesto on a tortilla, then some black forest ham, and topped with a sharp provolone cheese. I zapped it for about 40 sec, and then served it with some thin crispy tortilla chips and a cold European lager. Just right at the end of the day.

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