I read quite often that gerrymandering of political districts is a cause of the current mess of our republic. That’s fine and makes sense but this is a bit abstract how drawing the lines can make sure the Republican districts always stay Republican and Democrat districts stay Democrat. Or how overall it’d really affect anything. You’d think the law of large numbers or such would even everything out. This image and description from Wikipedia makes it clear why it doesn’t even everything out very well – this is all from the Wikipedia article on gerrymandering.

Example for a state with 3 equally sized districts, 15 voters and 2 parties: Plum(squares) and Orange(circles).In (a), creating 3 mixed-type districts yields a 3–0 win to Plum—a disproportional result considering the state-wide 9:6 Plum majority.

In (b), Orange wins the urban district while Plumwins the rural districts—the 2–1 result reflects the state-wide vote ratio.

In (c), gerrymandering techniques ensure a 2–1 win to the state-wide minority Orange party.

All the cases are interesting in their own way. (a) seems interesting in if you don’t do any thought to district membership the minority can lose everywhere.  You can’t just let the boundaries be indiscriminate perhaps. (c) is the opposite, the minority can rule with wise redistricting.
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Pandora’s promise

Pandora’s Promise makes a well laid out argument as to why nuclear fission is the way we need to go for our energy needs if we want to save the planet and keep our same levels of consumption. It’s just a very well done documentary, I won’t say much so as to deflate it’s fine argument for nuclear fission. Ignore everything else I say below and just watch the movie.

It is interesting to call out that they went to outside the sacophagus in Chernobyl and the radiation level was lower than that on a beach in Brasil where people go to lay in the sand for health benefits. Also that nuclear is cleaner then every other source of energy except for wind. Also the number of ‘environmentalists’ who have come around to support nuclear is interesting. The movie is sort of an interesting commentaty on ‘environmetalism’ as well. A fine scene is when there are people protesting a nuclear power plant. They go around handing out bananas for a ‘banana break’. Of course bananas put off radioactivity along with a common lot of things.

The thing I’ve always seen is nuclear is an invisible sickness that everyone fears. However for some reason no one fears the pollution from fossil fuels or solar panel production nearly as much although (at least the fossil fuels from power generation) kill many more people than nuclear (from power generation at least) has. Maybe I should do a chart of that if I can find the data to actually support that statement!

Thanks to the wonder of the internet (don’t let anyone restrict it!) I found random proof of the statement here. A good image for the claim:

This is a nice visualization to play around with as well – of course who knows where the data comes from.

At the same rate I do like this page that shows that we are nowhere near the evacuation area of any nuclear power plant. But I still don’t like the fact that we have high air pollution days because we have many coal plants nearby. The invisible menace of radiation is scary somehow but unbreathable air is more immediate.

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Data for charting

I think it’d be interesting to graph random data available from around the internet. To to this I used Pages for the first chart and R for the second. The data comes from the Whitehouse here: