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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: San Diego/Ca/Nuevo Pacifica
Home country: U.S. of A.
Current location: Planet Earth
Member since: Mon Aug 20, 2012, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 11,619

Journal Archives

The Great Gerrymander of 2012

The Great Gerrymander of 2012
HAVING the first modern democracy comes with bugs. Normally we would expect more seats in Congress to go to the political party that receives more votes, but the last election confounded expectations. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. This is only the second such reversal since World War II.

Using statistical tools that are common in fields like my own, neuroscience, I have found strong evidence that this historic aberration arises from partisan disenfranchisement. Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you.

Through artful drawing of district boundaries, it is possible to put large groups of voters on the losing side of every election. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group dedicated to electing state officeholders, recently issued a progress report on Redmap, its multiyear plan to influence redistricting. The $30 million strategy consists of two steps for tilting the playing field: take over state legislatures before the decennial Census, then redraw state and Congressional districts to lock in partisan advantages. The plan was highly successful.

This article is a great explanation of why we face such a difficult road to getting meaningful legislation passed by Congress.

A world where Democrats earn 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, and Republicans gain historic control of the House shows how deep the hole we created in 2010 when Republicans gained control of the Gerrymander leavers.

This article should be saved and shown to anyone who complains that Democrats can't get things done.

Vote, damn it!

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 01:20 PM (22 replies)

If you check New Hampshire delegate totals, Secretary of State Clinton recieved more than Sanders.

28 of 32 awarded.

B. Sanders 60.1% 145,702 13 delegates

H. Clinton 38.2% 92,531 15 delegates

I am not sure what that means.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Feb 10, 2016, 12:39 PM (16 replies)

No longer heartless in San Diego.

If I am very quiet, I can hear it beat along with the drum solo of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 10:29 PM (1 replies)

The World's Longest-Running Experiment is Buried in a Secret Spot in Michigan

The World's Longest-Running Experiment is Buried in a Secret Spot in Michigan

In the fall of 1879, Dr. William James Beal walked to a secret spot on Michigan State University’s campus and planted a strange crop: 20 narrow-necked glass bottles, each filled with a mixture of moist sand and seeds. Each vessel was “left uncorked and placed with the mouth slanting downward so that water could not accumulate about the seeds,” Beal wrote. “These bottles were buried on a sandy knoll in a row running east and west.”

In the spring of 2000, under cover of night, current WJ Beal Botanical Garden curator Dr. Frank Telewski and his colleague Dr. Jan Zeevaart crept out to the same secret knoll and dug up the sixth-to-last seed bottle—completing the latest act in what has become the world’s longest continually monitored scientific study.

When he buried those bottles 137 years ago, Dr. Beal didn’t aim to start the As the World Turns of garden experiments. As a botanist at an agricultural school, he was just trying to find a rigorous answer to a question that has dogged farmers for millennia: how many times do you have to pull up weeds before they stop growing back? “Back then, [farmers] didn’t have herbicides,” and weeding was the most tedious part of the job, explains Telewski. “Have you ever heard the expression ‘that’s a long row to hoe?’ That’s where that came from.”

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Feb 4, 2016, 12:28 AM (7 replies)

Germany's Fusion Reactor Creates Hydrogen Plasma In World First

Germany's Fusion Reactor Creates Hydrogen Plasma In World First
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have successfully conducted a revolutionary nuclear fusion experiment. Using their experimental reactor, the Wendelstein 7-X (W7X) stellarator, they have managed to sustain a hydrogen plasma – a key step on the path to creating workable nuclear fusion. The German chancellor Angela Merkel, who herself has a doctorate in physics, switched on the device at 2:35 p.m. GMT (9:35 a.m. EST).

As a clean, near-limitless source of energy, it’s no understatement to say that controlled nuclear fusion (replicating the process that powers the Sun) would change the world, and several nations are striving to make breakthroughs in this field. Germany is undoubtedly the frontrunner in one respect: This is the second time that it’s successfully fired up its experimental fusion reactor.

Last December, the team managed to suspend a helium plasma for the first time in history, and they’ve now achieved the same feat with hydrogen. Generating a hydrogen plasma is considerably more difficult than producing a helium one, so by producing and sustaining one in today’s experiment, even for just a few milliseconds, these researchers have achieved something truly remarkable.

As a power source, hydrogen fusion releases far more energy than helium fusion, which is why sustaining a superheated hydrogen plasma represents such a huge step for nuclear fusion research.

This is great news.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Feb 4, 2016, 12:09 AM (6 replies)

Foria Relief: Cannabis vagina suppositories which 'eases period pain' sold in US

Foria Relief: Cannabis vagina suppositories which 'eases period pain' sold in US
In the latest battle in the war against agonising period pains, suppositories filled with cannabis designed to be inserted into the vagina have hit the US market.

Many women experience period pain - or dysmenorrhoea - as the muscular wall of the womb contracts and presses against neighbouring blood vessels. This cuts off the blood supply to the womb, and causes pain, according to the NHS.

Similar in shape to tampons, the suppositories are said to deliver the pain-relieving properties of cannabis without making users feel high.

Sold in packs of four for $44 (£30), each FORIA Relief capsule contains 60mg of THC and 10mg of cannabidiol, as well as cocoa butter.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Feb 3, 2016, 01:40 PM (13 replies)

Trump A Likable Character By Screenplay Standards?

Trump A Likable Character By Screenplay Standards?
Scott Adam’s recent post suggesting Trump may be using screenwriting principles to engineer his campaign, got me thinking – can a Presidential candidates be evaluated like screenplay characters?
What Makes a Character Likable?

In my first post on what makes a character likable, I laid out Eric Edson’s criteria from The Story Solution:
2.Unfair Injury
5.Just Plain Nice
6.In Danger
7.Loved By Friends And Family
8.Hard Working

To be likable, a character only needs a majority – 5 out of 9 traits.

A very interesting article on what may be going on under the hood of the Trump campaign.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Feb 3, 2016, 01:18 PM (7 replies)

There Was No Tie In Iowa. Clinton Won.

There Was No Tie In Iowa. Clinton Won.
First, about Iowa. I see a lot of talk about how Bernie outperformed the polls. This is not true. He actually under performed. Opinion polls measure the overall likelihood of support from the statewide populace. However, in Iowa, that is not how the contest is measured. The Iowa caucus last night determined the number of delegates from individual precincts that would be sent on to the next caucus. That’s right. There are two more caucuses in Iowa before we know the number of national delegates going to the Democratic National Convention, and who they will be for.
So the actual number of delegates is actually not known until later in the process. However, since there are rarely dramatic shifts in delegate alignment later in the process, traditionally we are able to make a good estimate of the number of national delegates and who they will be for. Which brings us to the actual percentage for Clinton’s victory: 52.3%.

That’s right. Of the delegates that were apportioned last night in the first in nation caucus, 23 out of 44 went to Clinton. A clear victory.

It is a great blog that discusses the arcane system and point out...

Put another way, half of all Clinton supporters nationwide would have to be abducted by aliens for Bernie to win.

So now it is important for Clinton supporters to turn to those states where Clinton has a commanding lead (which is most of them), and to the national conversation, to protect the delegate lead and to counter the anti-Clinton tea party narrative being delivered by Bernie and his supporters.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Feb 3, 2016, 01:07 PM (13 replies)

EXCLUSIVE-EgyptAir mechanic suspected in Russian plane crash-sources

EXCLUSIVE-EgyptAir mechanic suspected in Russian plane crash-sources
An EgyptAir mechanic whose cousin joined Islamic State in Syria is suspected of planting a bomb on a Russian passenger plane that was blown out of Egypt's skies in late October, according to sources familiar with the matter.

So far Egypt has publicly said it has found no evidence that the MetroJet flight, which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, killing all 224 people on board, was brought down by terrorism.

A senior security official at the airline denied that any of its employees had been arrested or were under suspicion, and an Interior Ministry official also said there had been no arrests.

But the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation, said the mechanic had been detained, along with two airport policemen and a baggage handler suspected of helping him put the bomb on board.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Fri Jan 29, 2016, 10:52 AM (7 replies)

Is there a God -- An essay by John Shirley

Is there a God -- An essay by John Shirley
Does God exist?

When we ask this question, perhaps we should first define our terms. What do we mean by God? What ontological framework is involved in our idea of God's existence? A gigantic super-anthropomorphic entity, the creator of the universe -- is that what must exist, for God to exist? Must it be a Someone who is In Charge and who, as the Bible said, has numbered every hair on your head, and knows when every sparrow falls? (And what did the Bible's writers really mean by that?)

If ever there was a question for which the answer is more questions, it was that one.

But let's not be coy about so important a question. (It is, at least, important to many of us). To simply state, "Whether God exists is all a matter of definition" is just another cop-out; just another sophistry.

I don't kid myself that I can speak with genuine authority here. I can only offer opinions which I hope are thought through. And we'll come to those...

This fascinating essay by Science Fiction Writer, John Shirley, made this old Agnostic think.
It is worth reading.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Jan 28, 2016, 01:26 AM (28 replies)
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