Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Crank Becomes the Cranked

Thank you, New York Times!

Given Democratic rules, it is entirely possible for one candidate to win a majority of Feb. 5 states, and enjoy the election night ratification that comes with a TV network map displaying the geographic sweep of that person’s accomplishment, while his (or her) opponent ends the night with the most delegates.

On the Republican side, it is possible for one of the candidates to win the overall popular vote in California, but end up with fewer delegates than a rival, since most of the delegates are awarded in winner-take-all Congressional district races.

Read the whole thing (as they say).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Triumphant Return of C-c C-t

The upgrade to Ubuntu gutsy and/or Emacs 22 broke my favorite feature of tuareg/ocaml-mode: C-c C-t for "show type" in OCaml buffers (this requires compiling with -dtypes, which generates type annotation files). I suffered without this for a length of time which is either embarrassing or impressive, depending on whether you consider poking around inside Emacs Lisp files a productive or unproductive use of time...

I finally broke down and fixed it today. The problem is simply that Emacs and OCaml packages aren't cooperating properly. My solution, which may or may not be optimal, is as follows:

  1. Copy the directory /usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/ocaml-mode to a path of your choosing, say ~/.emacs.d/emacs22/ocaml-mode. Let's call this directory DIR
  2. (Optional) In Emacs 22, execute C-u 0 M-x byte-recompile-directory and choose DIR.
  3. Add the following line to your .emacs file:
    (or (< emacs-major-version 22) (push "DIR" load-path))

The test for whether it worked is: load a .ml file and type C-c C-t. In the mini-buffer, you'll either see "type: ..."; "Point is not within a typechecked expression or pattern"; or "No annotation file..." If it says "C-c C-t is undefined", then you have failed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Delegate Strategy

So, yeah, I'm a crank, but I'm not alone:

At the end of the day, you need delegates to win. A strategy to win delegates seems like a smart strategy.

The current fake tally is:

Clinton: 3
Obama: 1
Edwards: 0

Romney: 3
McCain: 2
Huckabee: 1

The current real tally is:

Obama: 38
Clinton: 36
Edwards: 18

Romney: 59
McCain: 41
Huckabee: 26

So who's the front-runner again?

That said, less than 3% of the total delegates have been allocated on the Democratic side (it's about 6% on the Republican side—presumably because red states like South Carolina and Wyoming get proportionately more delegates). What I expect will happen is that Clinton (and probably Romney) will win a slim majority or plurality February 5 ("Super Tuesday") and more-or-less clinch the nomination. (I am willing to make a wager on that proposition. Anybody?)

In the end, I don't think the "emotional moment" in New Hampshire or "momentum" have much to do with Clinton's success. I think she has solid, proven support amongst the Democratic electorate, which just happens to be slightly larger in magnitude than Obama's.

In retrospect, the real question will be: why did Obama do so well in Iowa? With Huckabee, you can point to the evangelical factor. What's the deal with Obama?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

Does anybody know which new API in Mac OS X 10.4 is the reason I can't use iLike the Amazon MP3 Downloader on my Power Mac G4? Any can anybody tell me why it sucks?

Believe it or not, I actually can't upgrade to 10.4, because it only comes on DVD-ROM and my, ahem, 6 year old G4 doesn't have a DVD-ROM drive. (You can get CDs if you buy a copy of 10.4 and send Apple a check for ten or fifteen bucks, but... eh, no.) I will not be buying a new computer this year.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire Was a Tie?

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this strange and interesting fact: Barack Obama was awarded more delegates (12) in New Hampshire than Hillary Clinton was (11). Despite the fact that the media covers the primaries as win or take all contests—and, thus, Clinton was victorious and Obama came in second—by the delegate apportionment metric the contest was a tie: they each got 9 pledged delegates. For some reason, Obama has one extra superdelegate, so he came out slightly ahead.

In fake terms, the tally is 1 for Obama, 1 for Clinton. In real terms, the tally is 25 for Obama, 24 for Clinton, and 18 for Edwards. (In really real terms—because the superdelegates are seemingly predetermined—the tally is 183 for Clinton, 78 for Obama, 52 for Edwards.)

On the Republican side, note that Mitt Romney—who "lost" two contests in a row—has the delegate lead with 24 to McCain's 17 and Huckabee's 14. If he keeps losing like that, he'll win.

The takeaway from all of this is that the way we choose presidential candidates in this country is deeply and truly weird. Not only is the media narrative disconnected from the simple human and intellectual reality of the campaign (so that getting choked up becomes an emotional breakdown, or saying something sensible becomes a "gaffe"), it is disconnected from the political reality of the process: the one and only thing that matters here is who has more delegates. But instead we get to hear about who came in first and who cam in second and by how much and how that makes everybody feel...