Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Robotic competition.

This is not good: my family runs a dental lab.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I guess there's a reason they call it "Fisking"

Andrew Sullivan reports.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Amazing Race Begins!


TAR is probably my most favorite show on TV, even more so than Survivor -- although it's very close. They seem to have quite a cast this year, with an above-average amount of intra-team conflict.

They left from Chicago, which I've visited several times and pretty much recognized everywhere they were. First stop was Iceland, which was really neat (I almost said "cool" but decided that was too punny.) And I can't believe that yet another year's cast fell victim to the gasoline/diesel mix-up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gay Marriage Ban -- Number Crunching

Just a little bit of number crunching:

In 10 out of the 11 states* that passed gay marriage bans, the percentage of the electorate that voted for the ban exceeded the percentage of the electorate that voted for President Bush.

  • St GM% GB% 2-3 %K
  • MS 86% 60% 26% 65%
  • AR 75% 54% 21% 47%
  • GA 76% 58% 18% 44%
  • KY 75% 60% 15% 38%
  • OK 76% 66% 10% 29%
  • ND 73% 63% 10% 28%
  • OH 62% 51% 11% 22%
  • MI 59% 48% 11% 22%
  • MT 67% 59% 08% 21%
  • OR 57% 48% 09% 17%

First column identifies the state, the second the percentage of the electorate that voted for the gay marriage ban, the third the percentage of the electorate that vote for Bush, and the fourth is the difference between columns two and three. The fifth column is the key to the number crunching here.

Assume that every single voter than voted for Bush voted for the gay marriage ban. That's relatively unlikely, but assume it anyways. The number in the fourth column then, is not just the difference between the ban percentage and the Bush percentage, but is the percentage of the electorate that voted for Kerry and for the ban. This is generally between 10% and 25% (with a mean of 14%) -- not an insignificant part of the electorate. And this is basically the minimum percentage of the electorate that did so, because we assumed that all Bush voters voted for the ban. (Third party candidates are being ignored, but I think this is relatively safe -- collectively they only got about 1% of the vote in each state.)

The fifth column, then is the percentage of the electorate that voted for both Kerry and the ban divided by the percentage that voted for Kerry. That is, it is the minimum percentage of the Kerry vote that voted for the ban. This ranges from 17% to 65%; the mean is 33%; the median 28.5%. This means that roughly one in three Kerry voters in the states that based the ban voted for the ban.

It seems to me that this seriously weakens the "culture war" theory of the 2004 election -- and even more so the Democratic talking point that Bush's victory was about gay marriage.

*The exception was Utah, which gave Bush his largest percentage of the vote and where the ban ran five percent behind Bush. There, assuming that every Kerry voter voted against the ban, seven percent of Bush voters voted against the ban also.

#Also, please excuse my non-existent html skills, which prevent me from setting up a proper table.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

And speaking of the evangelical subculture...

... I was thinking about fisking this article of Timothy Noah's, but Joe Carter has already done a pretty thorough job.

On Being a Member of Little Understood Subcultures

My handle refers to two very different yet sometimes maligned subcultures of which I am a part: evangelical Christianity and gaming. Liberal ire at us "god***n Christian evangelicals", to use Oxblog's tongue-in-cheek phrase, is sadly rather prevelent right now -- I'm still pulling together thoughts on the whole matter.

Gaming, on the other hand, is getting a positive, is somewhat amused, look in certain corners of the blogosphere. Neal at Literal-Minded links this article of gamer jargon after his discovery that his son's use of the word "boss" was actually contextually correct. Mark Byron, meanwhile, wonders just how much exposure to gaming is now required to be pop-culturally literate.

I was not at all surprised to find out that many outside of evangelical Christianity have little to no understanding of it. I was surprised that someone wouldn't have known the meaning of the word "boss" in the video game context -- the idea that the term wouldn't be someone's knowledge base never would have occurred to me.

And the thing that intrigues me most about that reaction is that it is somewhat counter-intuitive. Evangelicals are about 1/3 of the country, depending on definitions; gamers are probably 1/10 of the adult population at best, although that's just a wild guess. So why on earth am I surprised that someone wouldn't know about the smaller subculture when I am not surprised about ignorance about the larger one?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Musical Chairmanships

The kerfuffle over Specter's possible chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee made me wonder how the chairmanships in general were likely to play out in the next Senate. I'm sure someone, somewhere has the real scoop on this, but I hadn't seen anything official anywhere.

The rules of the Senate Republican Conference require that (1) the party leader and assistant leader (whip) do not hold chairmanships and (2) that no senator may chair a committee for more than six years, cumulatively. It's impossible to tell from the Senate websites I consulted whether a senator holding a chairmanship on one committee has seniority on another committee over its chair, so for the purpose of this discussion I'm going to assume that even if a Senator does, he won't unseat a sitting chair with time left in his term.

It is also worth noting that all committees are not created equal. The Senate Republican Conference classifies the committees into three grades:

Super A: Appropriations, Finance, Armed Services, Foreign Relations
A: Agriculture, Banking, Commerce, Energy, Environment, Government Affairs, Judiciary, Labor
B: Aging, Budget, Indian Affairs, Intelligence, Rules, Small Business, Veterans
Affairs, Ethics

I generally assume that a Senator won't trade down. With that said, the analysis:

For the Armed Services (Warner), Banking (Shelby), Energy (Dominici), Environment (Inhofe), Finance (Grassley), Foreign Relations (Lugar), Governmental Affairs (Collins), Rules (Lott), and Small Business (Snowe) committees, the sitting chairs have time left unexpired in their terms and will most likely continue serving. I could not determine whether Voinovich's term at Ethics has expired.

Three chairs will be vacated because of term limits: Appropriations (Stevens), Commerce (McCain), and Judiciary (Hatch). Stevens is next in line at Commerce. Next in line for Appropriations is Cochran, currently Agriculture chair -- he should switch. Next in line at Judiciary is Grassley (but he will almost certainly stay at Finance) -- after him, of course, is Specter.

Two chairs were vacated by retirement: Budget (Nickles) and Indian Affairs (Campbell). Domenici (Energy), Grassley (Finance), and Gregg (Labor) are the next three in line at Budget, but all would be trading down. Domenici has also already served six years as Budget chair and I think would still be barred. If for some reason Gregg decided to move from Labor, Enzi is next in line there. The most likely next chair for Budget, then, is Allard, the fourth most senior member of the committee. At Indian Affairs, McCain is next in seniority.

The remaining four committees are keyed off changes at other committees. If Specter (Veterans Affairs) does take the Judiciary chair, Craig (Aging) is next. Both are rated as B committees, but Veterans is a standing committee and Aging is not. I don't know if it's worth the switch or not. If it is, Shelby (Banking) and Collins (Governmental Affairs) have better slots than Aging, leaving Enzi to take it over. If he somehow ends up with Labor, Smith is next. If it isn't worth the switch, Hutchison is next after him at Veterans.

Agriculture also has a remarkably complicated succession pattern. Cochran should be moving to appropriations. Lugar is next, but has two years left at Foreign Relations, which is rated higher -- he has also already served for six years as Agriculture chair and may no longer be eligible for the position. McConnell is next after Lugar, but he is majority whip and cannot chair. After him is Roberts, who still has four more years as Intelligence chair. He could switch from Intelligence -- it is both technically a higher grade committee and Roberts is from Kansas, so Agriculture chair would be a strong political move. At the same time, Intelligence has a great deal of prominence and relevance in the world today. If Roberts doesn't choose to chair Agriculture, than Chambliss, who has only been in the Senate for two years, is next in seniority. If Roberts does choose to chair Agriculture, than Hatch gets a nice landing from Judiciary over at Intelligence.

That Hawai'ian Poll

Do you remember that poll that showed Bush up one point in Hawai'i? A little-noticed quirk involved with that poll was that was of Oahu voters only, not the entire state. Turns out, so far as it goes, it was right.

The poll placed the race on Oahu at Bush 46, Kerry 45. The actual results for Oahu were Kerry 51, Bush 48 -- well within the four percentage point margin of error.

The overall results in Hawai'i (54% Kerry, 45% Bush) stem from the results on the rest of the islands, which run at roughly 60% Kerry, 40% Bush.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Electoral Votes or Electoral Voters

The only Electoral College reform I know I could get behind would be to get rid of the electoral voters themselves and make the votes merely that: inanimate counters.

Case in point #1.

Case in point #2.

I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't want to see a direct national election. I just don't think it would change campaigning for the better. I just like the Electoral College -- I guess it's part of what makes me a "conservative". However, there seems to me to be something quite wrong with allowing electors to vote against the wishes of the people who voted them into office. There seems to be a further problem when a party screw-up could have resulted in an elector not be valid.

Making the electors themselves cease to exist seems to me to be the surest solution to these problems. It ensures that the electoral votes go the candidate the people in each state chose.

General Elections Thoughts

Needless to say, as a yellow dog Republican, I'm pretty happy with the results. President Bush was re-elected ... or perhaps unredefeated ... and we expanded our majorities in both Houses. My election prediction was a overoptimistic by two states (WI, MN) for the President and overpessimistic by two states (AK, LA) in the Senate. Not too bad.

I had a lot of fun on election night. Although the early exit polls had me nervous at first, as I read more about the process of exit polling, the less concerned I was. The raw data of the exit polls seems to mean very little -- they're really design for after-the-fact analysis, not prediction -- and there is some process of weighting the results of the poll against the actual returns that eventually happens.

I was also aided by my role as one of Jay Cost's Hawkeyes for his Horserace Blog. Basically, a group of about fifty or so readers volunteered to monitor elections returns in eight states (it would have been nine, but New Hampshire reported its data in a way we weren't expecting) throughout the night. Jay had provided data sets for the 2000 election for us to compare against. I was assigned to monitor West Central Ohio (basically the 3rd, 4th, and 15th Congressional districts). We were a bit ahead of the curve in determining when there weren't enough votes left in Ohio for Kerry to have a reasonable shot at catching up. It was a lot of fun.

The only part of the evening that I wasn't too happy about was my own congressional district. Even though I knew that Congressman Moron would probably be re-elected, it would have been great if he hadn't been.