Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 13th, 2008

Very curious

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After this post about Benford’s Law, I decided to take a look at actual vote totals.

I used the TOTAL votes cast in the election of US Representatives in Alaska, in each of the 40 House districts. I got the election figures here, and I got the expected distribution of high-order digits here.

It turns out not as all as one would expect:


Maybe the number of instances (40 in all) is too small, but it still seems surprising. Any ideas what’s going on?

UPDATE: It occurs to me that Congressional Districts are not variegated in size: indeed, within a state, they must be close to the same size (in population). This could throw the statistics off.

UPDATE 2: The more I think about it, the more I realize that Benford’s law would not apply in this case, in which the counts are essentially random variations from the same total (the total size of a district).

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Two posts worth reading

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Glenn Greenwald has some good columns, some not so good. Today, he has two columns well worth reading:

Post-partisan harmony vs. the rule of law

The Democrats of 2002 and 2007 haven’t gone anywhere

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 1:51 pm

Bush still carrying on

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Two items from ThinkProgress:

President Bush may continue to block inquiries into his administration after he leaves office. “The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Bush administration has so far committed $290 billion of the $700 billion financial bailout package. However, “no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.”

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 1:44 pm

The ugly, racist, ignorant, stupid side of America

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Although many of those who voted against Obama nevertheless see that his election is a very promising development in America, still there are those so mired in racism and ignorance that they can’t contain their bile but spew it out publicly. They should reflect that (a) they are on the losing side, and (b) most people in the country not only think Obama’s election is a good thing they actually voted for him.

Here are the stories seeping out from the country’s backwaters and cesspools.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Daily life

Wanting to do good with Benford’s law, but lacking contacts

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With Benford’s law (PDF), it’s easy to tell when figures have been faked, provide you have enough figures. For example, you could readily tell whether the vote totals for a state were authentic or faked by looking through the totals by individual polling place or by county. Similarly, the IRS could readily run through the figures in a tax return and determine whether they were authentic or faked. But how to get the ear of those who can act on the information?

UPDATE: Welcome to visitors from James Fallows’s blog. And let me recommend the book on shaving as a great gift to men who shave or are about to learn to shave. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Daily life

Twyla Tharp on creativity and motivation

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 9:29 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Good food thoughts (and photos)

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The SmarterFitter Blog has a very nice post, which (among other things) includes this recipe:

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
Courtesy of my mom. This makes a big batch and keeps for ages.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Fresh ground pepper

Read the entire post. Monica lives right.

UPDATE: Very interesting. I just made this for lunch, and it’s thick—quite thick. I used Whole Foods balsamic vinegar. The mustard is an emusifier, so I’m not surprised it all mixed, but I am surprised at how thick it turned out. But very, very tasty: just had a salad for lunch.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2008 at 9:24 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

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