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1  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 04:32:41 pm
Nelsville is the county seat of Clark County in Wisconsin, not Greenwood, but either way apparently Hwy 29 through northern Clark is not a highway cut  because it does not connect from the Clark county seat to an adjacent county, county seat. That is an example as to why, beyond complexity, picking and choosing state highways to count as cut is problematical, because the WI-03 Clark County jut is an erose feature, and thus the cut of Hwy 29 is a good proxy to pick that erose feature up. Your highway cut metric seems more focused on connectivity between county seats, rather than connectivity in general (hwy 29 does connect to county seats in adjacent counties, so the population around it is connected to those counties, even though Clark's county seat is not in play), and trying to get the best possible proxy for erose shapes. This would be particularly a problem with the county seat is not the largest town or city in a county.

I'm not sure I follow your concern here. My map of WI has hwy-29 connected to US-10 by way of hwy-73 which is entirely in Clark for that stretch. Both Greenwood and Neillsville are on hwy-73 so any path that connects to one of them connects to the other. You can't use hwy-29 to connect Chippewa to Taylor since that would go through Clark, but hwy-64 provides a direct path so hwy-29 is not an issue.

Oh, I see, highway 73 is not an orange line, but still a state highway. Assuming Hwy 29 has nothing to do with the county seat, is cutting it still a chop because it connects the county seats of Marathon and Chippewa, two non adjacent counties?

A chop has to do with the county itself. Then one can ask what connections do the fragments created by the chop have with the neighboring counties as if they were quasi-counties. Once that's done one can assess the cut links that define erosity.

Looking at Clark, it has connections to 5 of its 6 adjacent counties. It lacks a connection to Eau Claire since US-12/hwy-27 dips into Jackson along its path. Now consider a chop that followed the Eau Claire-Chippewa line extended east. That puts all of hwy-29 in the north part of Clark. As a new unit on the map it would have links to Chippewa, Taylor, Marathon, and the south part of Clark. The remainder of Clark in the south would have links to the north part of Clark, Jackson, Wood, and if a secondary path can be considered, Marathon.

Like the pink line in the Kent example, there are two state highway paths that cross the border to Marathon on the way from Neillsville to Wausau. Mapquest says that the one using hwy 29 is fastest so it is the primary link. Once there are two pieces of Clark the question of the use of the secondary highway, hwy-98, comes up.

Either way one resolves hwy-98, there are links established to both parts of Clark. Now it's a matter of counting the number of those links reside on the boundary between two CDs.


I think I should split the chop and erosity conversation off from the MI and WI threads so I'm not responding to similar queries in both. What do you think?
2  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 01:48:03 pm
Nelsville is the county seat of Clark County in Wisconsin, not Greenwood, but either way apparently Hwy 29 through northern Clark is not a highway cut  because it does not connect from the Clark county seat to an adjacent county, county seat. That is an example as to why, beyond complexity, picking and choosing state highways to count as cut is problematical, because the WI-03 Clark County jut is an erose feature, and thus the cut of Hwy 29 is a good proxy to pick that erose feature up. Your highway cut metric seems more focused on connectivity between county seats, rather than connectivity in general (hwy 29 does connect to county seats in adjacent counties, so the population around it is connected to those counties, even though Clark's county seat is not in play), and trying to get the best possible proxy for erose shapes. This would be particularly a problem with the county seat is not the largest town or city in a county.

I'm not sure I follow your concern here. My map of WI has hwy-29 connected to US-10 by way of hwy-73 which is entirely in Clark for that stretch. Both Greenwood and Neillsville are on hwy-73 so any path that connects to one of them connects to the other. You can't use hwy-29 to connect Chippewa to Taylor since that would go through Clark, but hwy-64 provides a direct path so hwy-29 is not an issue.
3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 01:37:29 pm
I see what you are doing now, and how a chop (other than a micro one?), creates a quasi county that then has independent highways connecting it to adjacent county seats. And apparently state highways to don't go to the county seat of an adjacent county, or quasi county, don't count. Not sure that is good policy, to exclude some state highways that way, and it adds complexity, but at least now I understand the highway cut issue.

Microchops also create quasi-counties. They are chops in all respects, except that they don't add to the chop count (unless the total of all microchops in a county exceeds the 0.5% threshold).

The regional connection rule is that one must be able to trace a path from one node to another on numbered state or federal highways without crossing into a third county. Highways on a border count in both counties. For counties, I used the address of the seat of county government and the point on a state highway nearest it as the node. A case can be made to use the seat of government of the largest city in a county, if that is not the county seat.

So Hwy 29 counts as two cuts, because it goes from one node to another, just not to nodes in adjacent counties? I still think I prefer counting all highway cuts, but in the end it comes down to what is the best proxy for erosity.

We will just have to disagree on whether microchops are penalized. I won't support that. It creates an incentive to have one microchop per county (or more up to 0.5% as you say), so that there are no bigger chops, making a mess of a map. The public square won't stand for it.

I still contend your microchop fear is a non issue. Those microchops are quasi-counties, too, so they tend to increase erosity. If they didn't one would place enough of them to drive the inequality to near zero and drive out competing maps with the inequality tie breaker. When I've tried that I usually find that my erosity rises and I'm left with a Pareto equivalent, but not superior plan.

The original driver for microchops was your concern about sufficient flexibility, since we saw areas of states where the constraints otherwise left few choices. Flexibility cuts both ways, and a set of rules that are too inflexible may not sit well with other parts of the public than the ones who would disfavor microchops.
4  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 11:50:49 am
I see what you are doing now, and how a chop (other than a micro one?), creates a quasi county that then has independent highways connecting it to adjacent county seats. And apparently state highways to don't go to the county seat of an adjacent county, or quasi county, don't count. Not sure that is good policy, to exclude some state highways that way, and it adds complexity, but at least now I understand the highway cut issue.

Microchops also create quasi-counties. They are chops in all respects, except that they don't add to the chop count (unless the total of all microchops in a county exceeds the 0.5% threshold).

The regional connection rule is that one must be able to trace a path from one node to another on numbered state or federal highways without crossing into a third county. Highways on a border count in both counties. For counties, I used the address of the seat of county government and the point on a state highway nearest it as the node. A case can be made to use the seat of government of the largest city in a county, if that is not the county seat.
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 11:42:02 am
Chops and Erosity part 3 of 3.

A zoom into Kent replaces counties with cities and townships, and seats of county government with the town hall or city hall. In the map below the halls (nodes) are marked roughly with blue dots and the lines indicate the connections (links) between them. Villages are shown on the map, but they are not considered subunits of the county for redistricting purposes.

Yellow lines indicate connections where the path between units uses a state highway at the boundary, and blue lines are connections made solely with local roads. Yellow lines generally include local roads to get from the hall to the nearest state highway, so what matters is the status of the road as it crosses the town or city line.



One thing to note is that there are a number of nodes that are only connected locally. This includes the cities of Cedar Springs, Rockford, and East Grand Rapids, and the townships of Spencer, Vergennes, and Bowne. These units are considered to be connected by local links, so cutting those links would also count towards erosity. For other local links, scoring can either count them or not, so the calculation will be made both ways.

Here's a zoom into plan A. The chop cuts 8 yellow lines (including the Byron Twp to Ottawa link), and 3 blue lines to locally connected units for a total of 11 cut links. If all local cuts were counted the total would rise to 19.



Here's a zoom into plan B. The chop cuts 9 yellow links (including two to Ottawa), and 5 required blue links for a total of 14 cut links. If all local cuts were counted the total would rise to 20.



Here's a zoom into plan C. The chop cuts 8 yellow links (including one to Ottawa), and 2 required blue links for a total of 10 cut links. If all local cuts were counted the total would rise to only 12.



Counting the chops in Kent would keep plan C in the mix with a lower erosity than plan B or A. Since all three plans have the same chop count, but differ in erosity, the inequality doesn't come into play. Plan C is the lone surviving plan of the three.
6  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 10:23:46 am
Chops and Erosity, part 2 of 3

Since this exercise assumes a public process to produce a map. Someone observes that the population inequality can be reduced without changing anything other than the choice of cities and townships to include in the chop. This results in plan B where CD 2 is +172 and CD 3 is +989, an average deviation of 581, a range of 817 or 0.12% of the quota. It has a significantly lower inequality, but the CDs have the same set of cut regional county links, so at the county scale the erosity is the same. Using inequality as a tie breaker plan B would knock plan A out of consideration.



Another mapper also makes some changes to the Kent chop and comes up with plan C. Here CD 2 is -588 and CD 3 is +1749, an average deviation of 1169, a range of 2337 or 0.33% of the quota. The CD boundaries involve the same cut links as in plan A and B so it would be tied in chops and erosity. The deviations are slightly better than plan A but probably not enough to have a different inequality score overall. The internal boundary of the chop is clearly less erose than either plan A or B. However, since inequality would be the only tie breaker plan C would fall to plan B.



It seems that there should be some consideration for the lower erosity visible in plan C. Even conventional compactness measures might not see much difference between B and C since they would be dominated by the large perimeter of the whole counties and would lack sensitivity to the smaller changes in Kent. The best way to give consideration to the shape within Kent is to zoom in on that county and apply a similar technique to the on used between counties.

An important question is whether to zoom in on all chops to consider erosity. There is already an increase in counted links created by the chop, and that counts towards erosity. Population deviations within 5% of the quota are considered substantially equal by SCOTUS, so it is reasonable to consider chops that partition off less than 5% of the quota small enough to incur only such erosity changes that are due to the link between pieces. Adding the effect of secondary highway links, like the pink line in part 1 would work to penalize chops that were added solely to cover only primary links to reduce erosity.

Removing larger chops would result in districts that were substantially unequal. Such chops will most frequently occur in high-population counties that have areas of high density. Zooming in on only those counties where the chop is substantial provides a mechanism to consider the erosity in those high-density population areas where the boundary will be small compared to county-based boundaries.

This becomes the definition of a macrochop. This is not the opposite of a microchop which functions in all ways like a regular chop in regards to erosity. A macrochop sets a point at which it is worthwhile to zoom into a map to see detail that is relevant to scoring.

End part 2 of 3
7  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Michigan on: Today at 09:36:06 am
As an example of the relationship between chops and erosity, consider CDs 2 and 3 in following plans. In all of the plans the two CDs together are made up of 10 whole counties and exceed the quota for 2 CDs by 1161. All three plans place a chop in Kent county and have 2 CDs for the Grand Rapids UCC, which is the minimum possible.

Suppose in a crowdsourcing exercise to produce a map Plan A is submitted. The deviation in CD 2 is +1854 and CD 3 is -693, an average deviation of 1274, a range of 2547 or 0.36% of the quota.



The county connections for the plan are in the next image. There are blue dots for the 10 count seats, orange lines to show the links internal to CDs 2 and 3, and yellow lines to show the links to counties in other CDs. Those yellow lines contribute to the erosity. A red line shows the link between the two parts of Kent, and since it is split between CD 2 and 3 it is cut as well and adds to the erosity. Using the red and yellow cut links, CD 2 has an erosity of 7 and CD 3 has an erosity of 13.

The path used to form the link between Ottawa (Grand Haven) and Kent (Grand Rapids) follows I-96 roughly where the yellow line is between them. Holland is the largest city in Ottawa, and if it is considered as the node for Ottawa the connection would be along I-196 at Grandville. A longer path than either of those exists that follows MI-6 near the southwestern corner. If the two parts of the Kent chop were treated as if they were individual counties for connection purposes then there would be a link that connects the CD 3 part of Kent to Ottawa along MI-6, and that is shown in pink. If it is counted then the erosity of both CDs increases by 1.



End part 1 of 3
8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: Wisconsin on: Today at 05:39:53 am
WI was one of the original states for which I posted a regional county connection map back in 2012. All of the links are based on state highways between county seats.



The first Torie map in the previous post cuts 11 links on the boundary between CD 3 and CD 7.

The second map cuts 9 links not counting the chop in Dunn. The chop in Dunn has a link between the two parts which is also cut, bringing the total to 10 that is how it would be judged on the one interpretation (used in the AL discussion). If viewed this way it has one more chop and one less erosity and is Pareto equivalent to the first map.

However, depending on how one counts the links, a secondary path between Dunn and Chippewa follows WI-64. If that link becomes active after the chop then the number of cut links rises to 11, the same as in the first. IIRC this interpretation was used in a discussion of MD plans way back when, in part because there was no concept of macrochops. If this view is used, then the second map loses to the first one. It's worth exploring the relative merits of the two interpretations.

I've been putting together a detailed example for MI which I hope will illustrate the counting in a chopped county as well as provide some justification for the crossover to macrochops for large chops.
9  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: ObamaCare cost expectation drops 7% on: January 28, 2015, 03:55:05 pm
I know people that would rather pay the fine than go through the crap that is filing through the site. We can't force people to buy anything. Why should it be required if people don't want it?

Essentially the Supreme Court ruled that you can force someone to buy something.

More accurately they ruled that if you buy certain things you can have your taxes reduced, and they found that the penalty system for the ACA was structured as a tax.

If the structure remains as a tax, I'd rather just see the employer mandate go away and with it classification rules that will be worked around whether it is 30 or 40 hours. Removing any direct employer requirement would likely aid global competitiveness. Employers could still choose to offer to pay premiums as a benefit of employment. A payroll deduction can be used to collect the premiums for those with a paycheck, much as Medicare is already collected. The exchanges can still be used to select plans and options and determine what subsidies are available.
That would cost the government way too much money. Millions of people would see their employers drop their coverage and they would all come over to the marketplace, where most would qualify for a subsidy.

Not necessarily too much money. What I described is similar Sen Wyden's plan for universal coverage from 2007-08. The analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the financial challenges could be addressed. The point is that there is little rationale for tying health care to an employer, and doing so is inconsistent with most of the industrialized world.
10  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Arizona redistricting goes to Supreme Court on: January 28, 2015, 12:31:31 pm
If SCOTUS overturns the AZ congressional law, the easiest fix is probably to have the commission submit the plan to the legislature for an up-or-down vote, and if it is rejected allow up to two additional tries before it would go to the courts. That resolves the constitutional requirement that the legislature approve the plan, but keeps the map-making independent from the politicians. It is the method used by IA for its redistricting.
11  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: ObamaCare cost expectation drops 7% on: January 28, 2015, 09:36:08 am
I know people that would rather pay the fine than go through the crap that is filing through the site. We can't force people to buy anything. Why should it be required if people don't want it?

Essentially the Supreme Court ruled that you can force someone to buy something.

More accurately they ruled that if you buy certain things you can have your taxes reduced, and they found that the penalty system for the ACA was structured as a tax.

If the structure remains as a tax, I'd rather just see the employer mandate go away and with it classification rules that will be worked around whether it is 30 or 40 hours. Removing any direct employer requirement would likely aid global competitiveness. Employers could still choose to offer to pay premiums as a benefit of employment. A payroll deduction can be used to collect the premiums for those with a paycheck, much as Medicare is already collected. The exchanges can still be used to select plans and options and determine what subsidies are available.
12  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Nationwide precinct map project? on: January 27, 2015, 10:00:14 pm
In IL counties can adjust their precincts as frequently as every two years. A new 2014 IL state law requires all counties to submit their precinct maps in electronic form to the State Board of Elections. The larger counties will probably use shapefiles, though the law doesn't say that since some small counties don't have that format. Hopefully the BoE will use the data to create master shapefiles for the public, but that will take some time.
13  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Special elections vs. gubenatorial appointments for Congressional vacancies on: January 27, 2015, 09:14:25 am
For legislatures, I think simply leaving the seats vacant until the next regular election would be reasonable.  It would encourage both the parties and the voters to take the health and ethics of candidates a bit more seriously if they knew it wouldn't be easily filled if there was a problem.  At most, a provision to suspend their participation while part of an executive cabinet if making it easier for legislators to switch to the executive branch by allowing to return to their former function if their term hasn't already expired by the time they leave the cabinet.

Bur who would represent a district that might be vacant for as much as two years? The constituents have the legitimate expectation of a voice in the form of a vote in the assembly as well as an advocate to introduce and promote legislation of interest to the district.

Then they should elect someone who they can count on remaining in office for a full term.  At most your argument is an argument for multi-member districts.

As Ernest implied there can be a change in administration and if there's a change in parties, there's no way to know that a representative might be given a cabinet post. I wouldn't blame the voters for not being able to predict that future.
14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which congressional or other electoral districts have you been to in 2015? on: January 27, 2015, 08:59:07 am
UPDATE 1/26/15

IL-10 (home)
IL-9
IL-5
IL-4
IL-6
IL-13 (school)
IL-8
IL-11
IL-1
IL-2
IL-16
IL-15

Crazy to think I have been to so many Illinois districts and yet have not left the state yet.

The Dem gerrymander makes it a breeze to cross lots of CDs in a short distance. Since you are covering half the state between UIUC and home, a large proportion of the state's CDs isn't unreasonable. BTW how did you get IL-4, but not IL-3 or IL-7?

I did hit IL-3, corrected my post. IL-7 does not cover any of 294, which I took on a drive from Lake to Champaign. IL-4 does cover a piece of the bypass.

Between I-88 and just north of the I-290 overpass the line between Il-4 and IL-7 runs down the center of the southbound side of I-294. If you traveled north to home you definitely were in IL-7. If you only went south it depends on whether you were in the left hand lanes or stayed to the right. If you were to the left to avoid merging and exiting traffic, then you can claim IL-7 going to school (source: IL State Board of Elections). Smiley
15  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Opinion of #DeflateGate? on: January 27, 2015, 08:40:14 am
The conclusion from the graphs that I would draw is that the Pats (and ironically the Colts) requested a rule change that allowed teams to prepare their own balls. Most teams would select balls that suited their QBs consistent with the rationale for the rule change. The Pats selected balls that suited ball carriers to reduce their fumble rate. That doesn't violate the new rule, but does take advantage of it.

As Sharp's article notes, a top QB can deal with a variety of balls and minimize interceptions, much as Brady did in the early 2000's before the rule change. The physics of projectile motion would suggest that there would be little or no difference between levels of inflation. QBs have little time to decide how to throw a ball and there are lots of variables such as the position of a QBs feet that can affect the trajectory as much as the small differences in pressure that are described in various articles.

So, given the rule change why not use it to change the variable that matters most in games - fumbles? If the Pats were as smart as they usually are they made the maximum changes allowed by the rule to get the effect they were looking for by improving the grip for ball carriers. If so, I would expect the league will have a hard time finding evidence of a rule infraction. They probably will find out the Pats ball preparation technique. The best they can do is change the rule to something that takes away the Pats advantage due to that technique.
16  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you like garlic? on: January 26, 2015, 07:36:47 pm
You garlic lovers would probably appreciate the soup that this thread inspired me to make tonight.

Thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic and lightly brown them in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Remove and save the garlic but leave the oil in the pan. Fry 4 thin slices of bread in the oil (day old bread works well). Remove the bread when lightly browned on both sides and allow to cool. The bread should have absorbed the oil. When cool, cut the bread into 3/4" squares.

In a pot add 4 cups chicken stock, two teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add the fried bread and bring the broth to a simmer. After simmering 10 minutes, add the reserved toasted garlic. Continue simmering for another 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering beat 3 eggs until slightly foamy. After the soup is simmered, turn off the heat and add the egg letting it form strands in the soup (stracciatella). Serve hot.

I enjoyed my soup with a cold crisp Cote de Provence rose.
17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which congressional or other electoral districts have you been to in 2015? on: January 26, 2015, 07:18:52 pm
UPDATE 1/26/15

IL-10 (home)
IL-9
IL-5
IL-4
IL-6
IL-13 (school)
IL-8
IL-11
IL-1
IL-2
IL-16
IL-15

Crazy to think I have been to so many Illinois districts and yet have not left the state yet.

The Dem gerrymander makes it a breeze to cross lots of CDs in a short distance. Since you are covering half the state between UIUC and home, a large proportion of the state's CDs isn't unreasonable. BTW how did you get IL-4, but not IL-3 or IL-7?
18  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Special elections vs. gubenatorial appointments for Congressional vacancies on: January 25, 2015, 11:35:48 pm
For legislatures, I think simply leaving the seats vacant until the next regular election would be reasonable.  It would encourage both the parties and the voters to take the health and ethics of candidates a bit more seriously if they knew it wouldn't be easily filled if there was a problem.  At most, a provision to suspend their participation while part of an executive cabinet if making it easier for legislators to switch to the executive branch by allowing to return to their former function if their term hasn't already expired by the time they leave the cabinet.

Bur who would represent a district that might be vacant for as much as two years? The constituents have the legitimate expectation of a voice in the form of a vote in the assembly as well as an advocate to introduce and promote legislation of interest to the district.
19  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you like garlic? on: January 25, 2015, 07:32:16 pm
Garlic is a great tool to enhance a wide range of dishes, and it is easy to use. When I was first cooking for my family, I used it in almost every dish. Now after 30 years of experience, I find that there are some flavor profiles that get buried if garlic takes over the dish. I still use it frequently, but not universally.

Here are two simple dishes that feature garlic that I posted last year.

Why yes, and I did so tonight. Here's the simple dish I prepared if anyone else would like to know.

muon's farfalle pomodoro

Start a pot of water to boil.
Chop 1 ripe tomato into small pieces (think bruscetta size) and use a second if you want more flavor.
Chop 6 basil leaves and mince 1 clove of garlic.
Add 1 lb of farfalle (bow tie) pasta and a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and stir to loosen the pasta.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small pan.
Add the minced garlic and black pepper to the hot oil then stir for about a minute.
Stir the farfalle again to keep it loose.
Add the chopped tomatoes and basil to the hot oil and stir for two minutes, then turn off the heat.
Grate a half cup of parmesan cheese.
Stir the farfalle again, and after 12 minutes (Chicago altitude) remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta and return to the pan.
Add the tomato mix to the pasta and stir with additional salt to taste.
Stir in the grated cheese and serve.

muon, that sounds absolutely amazing.

Do you have any recipes that call for white wine? I have some chardonnay that I'd like to use up but for various reasons don't want to actually drink.

That would probably work well for muon's chicken limone.

Cut a pound of chicken breasts into finger-sized strips (cutlets work well as a starting point).
Spread on a flat easy to clean surface a cup of flour mixed with white pepper and sea salt.
Dredge the chicken strips in the flour.
Lightly saute the chicken in a large pan, turning the pieces and remove just before they would begin to brown (about 2 minutes per side).
Cut a half a sweet onion into small pieces and mince two cloves of garlic.
Saute the onion and garlic in the same large pan.
When the onions have softened (but not caramelized) add a half cup of white wine and the juice of a whole lemon.
Turn down the heat to simmer and return the chicken to the pan.
Add a teaspoon of dried thyme and a teaspoon of capers and cover the pan to steam the chicken for 10 minutes.
Chop a half cup of fresh parsley and add it after the 10 minutes.
Steam for another 2-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with rice or a small pasta like orzo and preferably a chilled white wine (that you would drink).

BTW this can be converted easily into muon's chicken piccata by using whole cutlets lightly browned, black pepper instead of white, using shallots, green onions and garlic in a butter saute, skipping the thyme, and putting slices of whole lemon on the chicken as it steams (but for about 5 minutes less time since the cutlets were browned in this version).
20  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Which of the following is more conservative? on: January 25, 2015, 07:58:46 am
Wow, good question! I went with the Oklahoma group. Rhode Island doesn't have ideological divide between the parties - they are virtually all moderates. Oklahoma certainly has some true leftists like every other state, but the vast majority of its Democrats are just so far right or DINOs even at the state level.

The picture below is the boxplot of left-right ratings for the 2 parties in each state's legislature. Not exactly representative, but it can't be far off. Manipulated it in Paint to just get the two states, but the slightly off lines shouldn't affect interpretation:


To the extent that the legislature reflects the state, then the case for OK is pretty solid here. The chart merges social and fiscal votes into a single axis, so that's consistent with the question which did not distinguish between the two. The chart suggests that not only is the median OK Dem more conservative than the median RI Pub, but that the median OK Dem is conservative than the most conservative RI Pub in the legislature, though that is a small sample. It's also interesting to note how politically uniform RI is compared to the wide spread of ideological positions in OK.
21  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: College Major Questions on: January 24, 2015, 10:20:06 pm
I disagree with muon.  For one, public schools have always been much more generous to me than private schools.  They're very interested in attracting talented students, while those are a dime a dozen to prestigious private schools.  Many of the latter have need-only financial aid policies, which prevent them from making scholarship offers that are designed to "compete" with other places.  Second, the importance of avoiding student debt really can't be overstated.  It's far better to pick a career that you want than a career that you're forced into because you have to pay off student loans.  And, third, there's no reason to think that private schools should uniformly have a better reputation than public ones, especially in STEM fields.  muon has UIUC and Purdue, two of the best engineering schools in the country, in his own backyard.  The Midwest has high-achieving state schools in general; UW-Madison is good at just about everything, to my knowledge.

There no question that the flagship state schools like the Big 10 ones you mentioned have great programs. They are also very large, and while their degrees are well recognized, it is harder to find placements with just an undergraduate degree. However, if wants to get an advanced degree, I would definitely recommend the flagship state schools for undergraduate work, since their programs translate very well to top grad school admissions. But for jobs fresh out of school I still contend that the top private schools tend to have more effective job networks than the large state schools.

Among private schools there are a couple of directions one could go. Besides some of the schools RFayette listed there are excellent offerings at engineering schools like Cornell, Rensselaer, WPI, and for a undergraduate only Rose Hulman in Terre Haute, IN. A solid four year liberal arts school with good science offerings can also work well to get to a top graduate program. I was a Carleton (MN) grad and many of my classmates got into strong programs at top grad schools, even engineering grad schools, though Carleton has no engineering classes.

A liberal arts school is also an option to consider if you aren't sure about engineering vs computers/math vs something else. A university engineering program usually has little room for electives in its sequence, so students who decide on a different major sometimes have to take an extra year to pick up the needed classes. In a liberal arts college it's usually easier to shift majors since the sequential demands are less.
22  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of the Previous Poster's Signature: The Wrath of Khan on: January 24, 2015, 07:58:39 pm
As a long time fan and teacher of astronomy and its history, how can I say anything but FS.
23  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: College Major Questions on: January 24, 2015, 07:26:41 pm
Some advice to the OP.

1) Reduce costs by doing some/all of the following
a) Live at home
b) Choosing a school with low out of pocket costs (low tuition, generous financial aid etc.)
c) Use community college for some of your credits

2) Pick an employable major

3) Focus on getting co-op/internships early.


I graduated debt free free with a job lined up. Some of my peers graduated with debt and no employment prospects. Trust me, the former is much better

I would tend to disagree. Based on the AP and SAT scores in the OP you should apply to some good private schools with notable science and/or engineering departments. It is very likely that least some schools are going to try to attract you with a good scholarship package. Take a look at them and see what their placement rates are with good firms that hire STEM majors. The reputation of the school does count for first hires. Even if you pick up some student loans beyond any scholarships, having a marketable degree from a known school means you could get a good starting salary and pay off the loans with relative ease. Then since you started with a higher salary, your long term income prospects will be better, too.
24  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: College Major Questions on: January 24, 2015, 02:13:20 pm
Majors in the physical sciences (Phys, Chem) require virtually no skill in rendering drawings. Trust me, I see and grade what they draw for force diagrams. Math majors don't have to fold cubes or anything else like that - just think clearly and logically. Even in engineering CAD programs have taken over so much of the work that conventional drafting skills are largely unused.

When some says that spatial skills are useful in STEM fields, it's more about visualization than drawing. Can you picture the shape that would be made if a parabola is rotated around an axis in a third dimension? Can you apply the right-hand rule for torque or magnetic force from a two-dimensional picture? If you can do this type of spatial reasoning, you'll do fine in physical science or engineering. If you can't, then math and computer science which deal with rational thinking and logical organization might fit better.
25  Questions and Answers / Presidential Election Process / Re: Should general elections be held earlier for weather-related reasons? on: January 24, 2015, 01:54:09 pm
I had the opportunity to watch German local elections in Feb 2002. The weather was cold and wintery, but it didn't seem to impact turnout. In the US the problem is often apathetic voters who will find an excuse not to vote. If the weather's bad, that can be their reason, if it's good there will be another reason.
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