Sunday, 7 November 2004

Alabama's blue belt

Looking at the red/blue county map, it’s pretty easy to correlate most of the blue counties with major urban population centers.

One thing that has me mystified, though, is the neat blue line bisecting otherwise red Alabama horizontally, seemingly following the path of Highway 80, as far as I can tell, and bleeding over slightly into Mississippi and Georgia on either side. Montgomery, Alabama’s capital and second largest city, is in the middle of the blue strip, but what about the rest of it? What’s the explanation of Alabama’s “blue belt”?

Update: Chris explains in comments that Alabama's "blue belt" is Alabama's black belt.

Borking Specter

Hugh Hewitt thinks the Bainbridge-Corner campaign to push Arlen Specter out of the judiciary chairmanship is a really bad idea. Perhaps if they won’t listen to me or Hei Lun of BTD, maybe they’ll listen to him (þ: Glenn Reynolds).

Update: Ok, so much for that idea. These guys at NRO really don’t get it, do they? Meanwhile, James Dobson has joined the pile-on (þ: How Appealing), while Michael Totten is unimpressed to say the least.

Creationism comes to Wisconsin

I tend to agree with James Joyner and John Cole that putting creationism in the public school curriculum on-par with evolution is a thoroughly dopey idea.

That said, Jim Lindgren points out that the textbook on evolution in question at the Scopes trial was a load of racist, eugenicist trash—the sort of stuff that’s fortunately marginalized (though perhaps not marginalized enough in Hart’s case) in today’s society.

Online book on Gödel's theorems

Prof. Peter Smith of Cambridge University has posted sixteen chapters of his work-in-progress on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and related mathematical/logical/philosophical goodness in PDF format, beautifully typeset using LaTeX.

I’ve read the first twelve chapters, which take you through Gödel’s first and second incompleteness theorems, Tarski’s theorem on the undefinability of truth, and (the most surprising result, IMO), Löb’s theorem.

You’ll need a background in symbolic logic to understand it. If you don’t know your ∀s from your ∃s, you’ll be lost.

Smith takes the opposite approach from Boolos and Jeffrey, taking you through Gödel’s theorems using only the apparatus of primative recursion, saving full-blown recursive function theory and other topics in computability theory for later.

It’s been a while (about seven years) since I’ve been through the material, but I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t pick up the first time around.

Brian Weatherson.)

Post-election irony watch

Matt Welch notes the irony of a wine-sipping, BMW driving, California law professor lecturing liberals on “elitism”.

Prof. Bainbridge responds to Welch with “I know you are, but what am I?”

Racist gets 59,602 votes

Racist and eugenics advocate James Hart garnered 59,602 votes in Tennessee’s 8th Congressional district, 25.8% of the total vote. (Final results for all Tennessee U.S. House elections.)

Of course, I know that only means that nobody pays attention to Congressional races in uncompetitive, gerrymandered districts, and almost everyone who voted for him did so only because he was in the Republican column on the ballot.

Still, it’s pretty sad.

Prohibition in Chicago

Jim Leitzel at ViceSquad points out an unusual intersection between liquor laws and ballot referendums in Chicago. In Chicago, individual precincts can vote themselves dry in referendums, or even vote to outlaw sales of liquor at a specific address in the precinct.

Here are some examples from this year’s ballot. Ward 11, precinct 35, voted, 178 to 88, to forbid the sale of liquor at 4220 South Halsted Street.

Was there a surge of evangelical voters?

Alex Knapp says there was not:
I think it’s important to point out that there was no surge of evangelical voters for Bush that made the difference in the election. It simply wasn’t there. The gains Bush saw came as a result of terrorism. That’s what the numbers say.
Dorian Warren says there was:
Maybe I'm missing something, but based on my read of the exit polls, the religious right had a significant impact on this election. White evangelicals were 23% of the electorate, an increase of +9 points from 2000! They broke 78% Bush, 21% Kerry. Is a 9 point increase insignificant?
Update: Philip Klinkner thinks the 9 point difference between 2000 and 2004 is due to a difference in wording. Damn, if they're not going to ask the same questions from year to year, how can one expect to track the trends?