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+ - Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering on 2012 Election 1

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a political party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state’s 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "”If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?""

Comment: Misleading headline (Score 2) 151

by J'raxis (#48460675) Attached to: Kim Dotcom Regrets Not Taking Copyright Law and MPAA "More Seriously"

Headline: Kim Dotcom Regrets Not Taking Copyright Law and MPAA "More Seriously"

Article: "My biggest regret is I didn't take the threat of the copyright law and the MPAA seriously enough," Dotcom said ...

Big difference between taking the law seriously and taking the threat of the law seriously. The headline implies that there's some sort of actual legitimacy to the law and that he's almost apologetic for doing something "wrong." The actual quote however is just a recognition that the government thugs are the thugs they are and the threat they represent is real.

Comment: Re:"Perfectly timed"? (Score 0) 252

by Coryoth (#48177543) Attached to: Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

Seems to me that Apple is playing catch-up in the phablet arena. Apple was late to the party and lost the toehold because of its tardiness.

No, no, you're looking at this all wrong. Apple stayed out of the Phablet market until they were "cool/hip/trendy". The vast sales Samsung had were merely to unimportant people. Apple, on the other hand, entered the market exactly when phablets became cool, because, by definition, phablets became cool only once Apple had entered the market.

Comment: Re:I FIND THIS HIGHLY... (Score 1) 460

by Coryoth (#47958797) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

Logic is a binary function. Something is in a logical set - or it is not. Being illogical is not a synonym for being mistaken. Degrees of precision are irrelevant for set inclusion. Fuzzy logic is not logic.

Fuzzy logic is logic. So are linear logic, intuitionistic logic, temporal logic, modal logic, and categorical logic. Just because you only learned Boolean logic doesn't mean there aren't well developed consistent logics beyond that. In practice bivalent logics are the exceptions.

Comment: Re:Some criticism (Score 1) 184

by Coryoth (#47953649) Attached to: KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

... a lot of people respond to this by saying the criticisms are stupid, that "if you know what you're doing" then you'll understand what's really going on, etc.

Yes; "if you're just willing to get your hands a little dirty and muck in and learn then you can bend the hugely complicated interface to your needs" they'll say; they'll complain that your just not willing to learn things, and thus it is your fault. Such people will inevitably state that they are "power users" who need ultimate configurability and are (unlike you) willing to learn what they need to to get that.

They will inevitably deride GNOME3 for it's complete lack of configurability. Of course they'll gloss over the fact that GNOME3 actually exposes pretty much everything via a javascript interface and makes adding/changing/extending functionality via javascript extensions trivial (GNOME3 even has a javascript console to let you do such things interactively). Apparently actually learning an API and coding completely custom interfacdes from myriad building blocks is "too much work". They are "power users" who require a pointy-clicky interface to actually configure anything. Even dconf is "too complicated".

For those of us who learned to "customize our desktop" back in the days of FVWM via scriptable config files calling perl scripts etc. it seems clear that "power users" are really just posers who want to play at being "super-customised". Almost all the modern DEs do have complete customisation available and accessible; some of them just use a richer (scripting) interface to get such things done.

Comment: "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!" (Score 5, Insightful) 152

by J'raxis (#47812743) Attached to: Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers

This is supposed to motivate me to upgrade? Right now, on the rare occasion I use Google,* I have JavaScript completely disabled to make Google (search, image search, and news) actually work the way I want it to in my browser. If they're going to help with this by serving me their older---read "cleaner, simpler, faster"---search page, I say, thanks, Google!

* Google alternative. They use the Google index but don't track their users.

Comment: Re:Is the complexity of C++ a practical joke? (Score 1) 427

by Coryoth (#47673801) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

It's not the features that you stare at with no idea what they do that cause a problem. As you say, a quick look at the manual can help to sort that out (though it does add to the overall cognitive load). It's all the potentially subtle things that you don't even realise are features and so never look up and don't realise that, contrary to first inspection, the code is actually doing something subtly different to what you expect.

Comment: Re:Right ... (Score 1) 175

by J'raxis (#47630753) Attached to: Yahoo To Add PGP Encryption For Email

That's what these large corporations all do.

Look at Google, grandstanding about moving things to HTTPS a few months ago, making things harder for the NSA, and so on, and yet at the same time they are now proactively scanning people's data for illegal activity and then handing it over to the government. Microsoft is doing the same thing.

What makes you think Yahoo will do anything different? The whole plan here is probably to get uninformed users to hand over their PGP keys so they can store them.

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