Trans Geek Girl Meets Mundane World

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

What is Gerrymandering?

Gratewood

Let’s imagine a fictional place: the great state of Gratewood.

Gratewood has two political parties, the Gold Party and the Purple Party. It has exactly 1000 residents, and those residents are represented by 10 representatives in the legislature.

The fortunes of the two political parties change from year to year, but in this election cycle, the people are about 60% Gold Party and about 40% Purple Party.

The state is divided into ten districts of 100 citizens, and each district chooses a representative.

If the districts are drawn without regard to composition, and the distribution of party members is roughly random, then every district will have about 60 Gold Party voters and 40 Purple Party voters. The Gold Party will win every single district, and the Purple Party that makes up 40% of the population will have no representation.

The Purple Party doesn’t like this situation. They are drawing the maps this year, and they want to insure that their minority controls the legislature. How can they manage this?

The goal is to give as many districts as possible a majority of Purple Party members. There are 400 Purple Party members in the state. If they draw the districts to their advantage, they could have a 57/43 split in favor of the Purple Party in 7 districts, with the remaining 3 districts packed with the Gold Party people. Even though the Purple Party is a minority of the population, they can maintain a large majority advantage in the legislature.

And in this (highly simplified) scenario, even if the Gold Party grows in numbers, the Purple Party can hold on to control of the legislature until the Gold Party gets about 70% advantage at the polls… as long as the Purple Party legislators are allowed to draw the district maps.

That’s gerrymandering, and it’s called that because the resulting districts often look like weird salamanders crawling across the map as legislators try to cram as many of their opponents into as few districts as possible.

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“I’m Not a Feminist…”

I’m hearing that phrase a lot lately. A Google search on it turns up over half a million hits. And the irony is that much of the time it’s coming out of the mouth of a woman running for public office.

“I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equal rights for women”. Hello? That’s like saying, “I rob banks, but I’m not a bank robber”.

I submit that any woman running for the Senate or the Presidency is extremely unlikely NOT to be a feminist. The term has been loaded up over the decades with negative stereotypes. Enough is enough. There are male and female feminists. There are conservative and liberal feminists. There are feminists that are pro-porn and anti-porn. There are feminists that are anti-abortion and pro-choice. There are black, white, yellow, red and brown feminists.

Disclaiming “I’m not a feminist” before uttering anything vaguely pro-woman just serves to reinforce the view that there’s something wrong with being a feminist. I can understand why people want to distance themselves from the stereotype, but the only way to dispel it is for the entire spectrum of feminists to stop running away from it.

I am a feminist. And if a candidate says she’s not a feminist, I’m going to take her at her word. If you’re not a feminist, then do us all a favor: drop out of the race, put your apron back on, go fetch me and the girls a beer, and let a real woman have the nomination.

Catagorical Denial

I want to clear the air about something.

There are two things that are true; 1) we were both in Alaska at about the right time, and 2) the daughter has my eyes.

But I have never been that drunk in my entire life, and if I had been, I wouldn’t have been able to… ermmm… perform.

So I’m almost completely, reasonably, pretty darn sure that Bristol Palin is not my daughter.

No further questions, please.

Weird Science – The Climate Change Denial Movement

The recent criminal hack of emails from an English university is the final nail in the coffin of the global climate change hypothesis.

Except there is no nail, no coffin, and global warming isn’t a hypothesis, it’s a phenomenon that’s already having measurable negative effects on our climate.

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Stephen Conroy Buggers Wallabies

In an unexpected turn of events, it was revealed late Thursday afternoon that Stephen Conroy, the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has been arrested on charges of animal abuse and creating a public nuisance for buggering a red-neck wallaby near the front entrance of Parliament House in Canberra. Eyewitnesses on the scene report that the Minister appeared to be “no more intoxicated than usual” as he molested the marsupial, and that he seemed in high spirits, singing “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” at the top of his lungs until removed by police.

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Communopoly

I’ve been thinking about what a communist version of the classic board game Monopoly would look like:

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Gay Onions: Don’t Ask

Supreme Court declines to hear “Don’t Ask” challenge.

I’ve been a vocal advocate for gay rights (including getting rid of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, under which able men and women are being discharged, not for conduct but simply for letting slip a personal fact about themselves).

I hate the whole tone of the debate, which assumes 1) anybody who supports gay rights is gay, and 2) anybody who’s gay is a crazed flaming stereotype whose orientation may be contagious.

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