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April 19, 2014, 07:43:04 pm
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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: DE Gov. 2016: Beau Biden running on: Today at 06:42:32 pm
Talking about the Gov of DE seems a lot like Cook County, IL and the office of board president. Cook is about half the land area of DE, but has five times the population. It's the only county in IL granted home rule status so the county board and president have a lot of authority over taxes and regulation. And like the GOP in DE the GOP has no chance of gaining the Cook presidency.
2  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: EG's State Senate Thread on: Today at 04:26:08 pm
How did your IA map end up more D than the neutral map actually adopted? The current numbers are 26 D - 24 R.

I don't know, its just the way it turned out, I guess. I don't take sides when drawing these, but I try to group together areas and counties that are similar to each other.

I suspect it's some of the same effect seen elsewhere in the Midwest using 2008 numbers. A 52% Obama district is really lean R, a 53% Obama district is a tossup, and a 54% Obama district is lean D. That would move your 37, 43, and 45 from tossup to lean R, and 7 from lean D to lean R, and 15 from lean D to tossup. That is a shift from 29.5 D to 26.5 D which is a close match to the current composition.

3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: EG's State Senate Thread on: Today at 03:14:08 pm
How did your IA map end up more D than the neutral map actually adopted? The current numbers are 26 D - 24 R.

4  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Adjusting States for Elasticity on: Today at 11:37:00 am

Thanks, but now the spreadsheet in the OP doesn't make much sense. The whole idea of the elasticity was to determine how much the state would shift when the national average shifted. The spreadsheet applied the elasticity directly to the margin which is not how it's designed to be used.

For example, Utah has a -48.04% margin in the first row of the spreadsheet. I'm not quite sure where that's from since the Obama-Romney margin was -47.88% according to Atlas, but I'll take it as the 2012 margin as described in the post. If I then consider a 10 point swing to the democrats, one might expect the elasticity of 1.01 to generate a +10.1% change in the margin, but instead the spreadsheet just divided 48.04 by 1.01 which doesn't really mean anything.

Also, as I read Silver's article I see that he also recognizes that the elasticity would be greatest for a 50-50 state. A straight swing would be the dashed line in his graph above, but the real swing would be better modeled by the red curve. The actual shift described in my example above would be less than 10.1%. A proper model would be to look at the difference in the red curve from the black line compared to their difference at 50% and use the mirror image curve for a negative shock.

A simple way to approximate this with a spreadsheet is to create an elasticity weight equal to the difference between the margin and 100%. For UT the weight would be 51.96%. The find the expected shift, multiply the national shift by the elasticity and the weight. Thus a 10% national shift for the Dems would reduce the margin in UT from -48.04% to -42.79%.
5  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: do you consider statistics a field of mathematics? on: Today at 09:23:54 am
I would say "No". And it's my field of study. I think, if you include probability, then there's a good case to be made for "Yes" as well, but I'd say that statistics is more about applying math properly. If math includes its own application:

There would be no such thing as statistics if not for mathematics.

Nor would there be many, many things. Math is a wondrous "subject", if it's appropriate to even call something so fundamental a subject. By your definition, everything is math. And that's an appropriate answer. This is only a matter of semantics, anyway.

Perhaps I'm confused as to what is being called math here. Math is certainly not everything, and many fields that are not math use math. I find that math is that collection of studies that rely on a system of formal proof to understand the relationships between abstract idealized objects. If those objects are numbers we might be talking about algebra. If those objects are spatial forms we might be in geometry. Abstract idealized objects can include functions, graphs, and sets as well as many more esoteric constructs.

If the idealized objects are sets of numbers the field is called statistics. Like other branches of mathematics, statistics uses formal proofs and derivations to determine relationships between sets of numbers. Particularly, statistics studies the likelihood of one set belonging to another larger set based on the properties of both sets. Thus, I see no reason to think of statistics apart from mathematics.
6  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Are there too many "checks and balances" in the US political system? on: Today at 08:27:54 am

Reagan probably wouldn't have been "Reagan" under a parliamentary system.  If the US had the Australian constitutional system, then, for example, a Democratic parliamentary majority probably would have enacted universal health insurance in the 1960s or 70s, and we'd still have it today.

What I'm getting at is that since the Democrats are the party that's more interested in activist government on economic issues, their agenda suffers more in a system in which there are many veto points.  The American constitutional order is "conservative" in the sense that it tends to conserve the status quo.  Big social programs are hard to pass.  So if the USA had a parliamentary system, then I imagine that the political spectrum would be shifted a bit to the left of where it is now, at least on economic issues.

Of course, there are all sorts of other confounding issues, like the fact that individual members of Congress act as free agents in a way that doesn't happen in most parliamentary systems, where things are run in a much more top down manner.  Legislative power is incredibly diffuse in the US.

I think you are sensing a fundamental outcome of the American Revolution. A major point of contention was the top-down control and ease by which regulations could be imposed on the colonies by British government. Their constitutional solution was a diffusion of power with significant checks on power exerted from any one branch.
7  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Are you able to boil pasta? on: Today at 08:04:23 am
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).
8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / MOVED: People who wear bow ties tend to be... on: April 18, 2014, 10:41:20 pm
This topic has been moved to Off-topic Board.

9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Posts per day? on: April 18, 2014, 10:32:09 pm
I've averaged a very comfortable 2/day for most of my 10+ years.
10  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: challenge to mapmakers - try drawing the wealthiest district on: April 18, 2014, 10:00:00 pm
I would guess that something in the SF Bay area would be the highest.
11  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Mathematics IX: cuboid on: April 18, 2014, 09:13:13 pm
Wow! You're really good, muon.
Do you see striking parallels between the answers of question (A) and question (B)?

Thanks. The common issue in both problems is that they lack a traditional constraint on the third side. Instead the constraint is an inequality that forces the third side to be between the other two in length, and that leads to it being the same as one of the other two.

No, I wasn't getting at that...
In both cases the base of the cuboid is a square, and in both cases one of the wanted sub-polytopes (edge or face, respectively) is twice as big as the other sub-polytopes of the same rank.
Or in other words: In both cases one of the edges is twice as long as the third; in one case the edge of the square base is the longest one, in the other case the third edge is the longest one. Thus, there is a kind of duality inherent in both cuboids, isn't it? ...

I see what you are getting at, but the problem gave no hint that the base of either would be a square. I found that the challenge for both was to prove that the base was a square. Once that was done the problem was straightforward, and the 2 to 1 ratio was actually lost on me until you noted it.
12  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you ever fix yourself non-meat dinners? on: April 18, 2014, 08:18:44 pm
See the pasta thread for my non-meat choice this Good Friday.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Are you able to boil pasta? on: April 18, 2014, 08:15:17 pm
I heart Chef muon2.

The dish was even better with a glass of 2011 Heron Monterey County pinot noir.
14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Are you able to boil pasta? on: April 18, 2014, 06:34:03 pm
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.

15  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Adjusting States for Elasticity on: April 18, 2014, 12:24:52 pm
Is there a link to the methodology used to determine the elasticity for each state?
16  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: do you consider statistics a field of mathematics? on: April 18, 2014, 07:04:07 am
College-level Statistics is a total BS subject. I had to endure a whole semester of it and only barely passed by the slimmest margin.

The way introductory statistics is taught at the college level, all you really need to do is memorize the definitions of things like standard deviation and know how to calculate a confidence interval.

I learned more about statistics from my econometrics classes than I did in any of my undergraduate stat classes.

You could say the same thing about introductory calculus - all you really need to do is memorize some formulas like derivatives and integrals and know how to calculate an infinite series. Many students would say they learned more about calculus from their mechanics class in engineering or physics than the math class. Yet, calculus is pretty clearly math and so is statistics.

Introductory classes in the STEM fields tend to be heavy on definitions and formulas.
17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How do you mow your lawn ? on: April 17, 2014, 09:13:01 pm

How was the reel mower?  I've looked into those but never bought one.  I'd have considered buying one when we moved here if the guy across the street hadn't given me the Toro two-stroke that I have now.  My main concerns with the reel mower were that I'd have to mow more often as it might not handle the tall (wet) grass and that I'd have to sharpen the blade from time to time.

Your concerns could be well-founded. I have a neighbor who uses a reel mower without any issue. OTOH, I found both your concerns to be issues, but they weren't much of a problem when I had a schedule that could allow me to mow more than once a week in May or June when the grass was growing fast. Once my schedule was less flexible for the yard I needed a machine with more oomph.
18  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Torie's zoning variance hearing on: April 17, 2014, 09:08:24 pm
I'm a lawyer, and even I find this thread mindbogglingly dull.

The first and only law class I ever took was in land use law. Tongue
19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How do you mow your lawn ? on: April 17, 2014, 04:43:09 pm
My lawn is relatively small and for many years I used a reel mower as in exhibit G. However, my schedule became less reliable, and if the grass gets long a reel mower is difficult to use. In addition it's hard to find people who will sharpen its blades.

So about a dozen years ago I switched to a corded electric as in exhibit D. It gets more torque than the battery version which helps at those times I have to deal with long wet spring grass. I don't need self propulsion since my yard is flat.

20  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Torie's zoning variance hearing on: April 17, 2014, 08:11:11 am
Is that the standard for an area variance or a use variance, or both?  In New York, the standards are very different, with an area variance being much easier to obtain, and a use variance next to impossible.
The standards you outlined will not work if the code does not comport with what is actually on the ground. For New York, the Sasso v Osgood case is the way out of the box when that obtains. 

I'm not quite sure what you NY means by the two types of variance. In IL there are text amendments to a zoning map which are hard to obtain, but I don't think that's what you mean.

The variance standards I listed above apply to things like setbacks, parking, height and signage - I think that is what you are calling an area variance. They are easy, but are presumed invalid unless the above findings are met.

There are also special (conditional) use permits which are applicable for certain defined uses in specific zoning classes. Examples could include a church in an estate residential district or a nursing home in a business district. The application is much tougher than for a minor variance, but unlike the above variance, special uses are presumed valid if the findings are properly established. Perhaps that's what constitutes a NY use variance. An example of the standards used for findings of fact for these special use cases are:

(A) Is necessary for the public convenience at that location or, in the case of existing nonconforming uses, a special use permit will make the use more compatible with its surroundings;
(B) Is so designed, located and proposed to be operated that the public health, safety and welfare will be protected;
(C) Will not cause substantial injury to the value of other property in the neighborhood in which it is to be located; and
(D) The proposed special use is designated by this code as a listed special use in the zoning district in which the property in question is located.
21  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Torie's zoning variance hearing on: April 17, 2014, 07:19:28 am
We use a six part test here. Perhaps some might by useful in your endeavors:

(1) The particular physical surroundings, shape or topographical condition of the specific property involved would result in a particular hardship upon the owner, as distinguished from a mere inconvenience or loss of revenue, if the strict letter of the regulations were carried out.
(2) The condition upon which the requested minor variance is based would not be applicable, generally, to other property within the same zoning classification.
(3) The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been created by any person presently having an interest in the property.
(4) The granting of the minor variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property or improvements in the neighborhood in which the property is located.
(5) The proposed minor variance will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property, substantially increase the congestion in the public streets, increase the danger of fire, endanger the public safety or substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood.
(6) The proposed minor variance complies with the spirit and intent of the restrictions imposed by this code.
22  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Lawn poll on: April 17, 2014, 07:02:23 am
Despite the inch of snow on Monday, the lawn is greening up fast. It's still too short to cut this week, but I'm thinking it might be ready sometime next week.
23  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: April 17, 2014, 07:00:18 am
I figure that if there is no free lunch for me, I'd be better off to vote for a flat tax.
24  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: In which region do Kansas, Nebraska, & the Dakotas fit? on: April 16, 2014, 10:20:11 am
To train's comment, MO is becoming less southern as areas like Little Dixie are losing their southern character in favor of a typical rural Midwest. The St Louis and KC metros make up over half the population and they aren't Southern cities. The only really Southern areas are in the Ozarks and Bootheel. The political shifts are more like KS than like the South.

Thanks for the correction.  I was thinking about things like the religion map (where Missouri is strongly Baptist, like the South), the recent addition of Mizzou to the SEC (and commentators saying that that signified Missouri's increasing allegiance to the South rather than the Midwest), as well as a vague sense that the Ozarks were growing while the KC and STL metros weren't.  But obviously that is all from a distance and I'm glad to be corrected.

The Mizzou to the SEC was in large part due to their rejection by the Big 10 who felt that their academics were not a good match to the rest of the conference.
Unlike those for Nebraska?

Both Nebraska and Mizzou were considered at about the same time and the academics were found to be different enough for the Big 10 to go with one and not the other according to media reports. There may have been other political factors, but they didn't come out at that time in 2010. It certainly wasn't for TV market or Mizzou would have been preferred.
25  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Are there too many "checks and balances" in the US political system? on: April 16, 2014, 08:31:43 am
There's another thing I forgot to mention, which is that in Australia we have a federal government agency that does the redistricting, which works pretty well. I truly don't believe a federal parliament could work in the United States without a federal agency doing the redistricting.

The drawing of congressional districts is not the exclusive province of the state legislatures. Congress could enact a law setting up a national redistricting commission with its own guidelines. From Art I sect 4 of the US Constitution (emphasis added):

1:  The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

In 1967 Congress used this power to require all districts to be single member.
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