Fruits & Votes is the Web-log of Matthew S. Shugart ("MSS"), Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.
Perspectives on electoral systems, constitutional design, and policy around the world, based primarily on my research interests.
Other "planters" have been invited to contribute. Please check the "Planted by" line to see the author of the post you are reading.
Join the conversation. Comments are always open. Except, that is, when Word Press mysteriously shuts them down, which happens with distressing frequency.
The Head Orchardist's other sites:
29 December 2006
Planted by MSS
Planted in: wide open spaces
28 December 2006
The degree of institutionalization of an authoritarian regime is often somewhat ambiguous. But when a regime–and, even more, the country itself–has had only one leader, and his rule has been seemingly unchecked, the ambiguity is considerably less. So, it is hardly shocking that the interim president, selected by the Turkmenistani parliament after the unexpected death of dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, has suddenly had his constitutionally ineligibility for a full term lifted by parliament. The election–which almost no one expects to be fair–is set for 11 February.
Update: Robert Mayer has posted the best photo I have seen of the amazing (in an absolutely absurd sort of way) statue of “Turkmenbashi” himself.
Planted by MSS
Planted in: FRUITS
This is how the blueberries look at this time of year.
These three 20-gallon pots, located just outside Ladera Frutal HQ, contain two or three plants each. They grow and fruit much better in the pots than they did in the ground (where they grew from midwinter 2002-03 until some time in 2004), because it is hard to keep our soil at the proper level of acidity. In the container they are in a mix of one of the commercial potting soils and ground fir bark, and are fed only with cottonseed meal. They receive water daily or every-other day (depending on weather) via micro-sprayers.
The varieties that I have enjoyed the most have been Sharp’s Blue and Misty. They are also very vigorous, as is Sunshine Blue, a variety that was nearly evergreen when I grew it in the milder coastal conditions of Carlsbad and that is said to have less need for acidity. The Sunshine Blue fruits well, although I find the flavor a bit bland. The Jubilee has also grown well, but so far only a little fruit. I also have Bluecrop, which is surprisingly vigorous, given that it is a higher-chill variety; however, it has not fruited.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
25 December 2006
A pioneer of what has become one of the nation’s greatest centers of microbrewing here in the San Diego area has died, at 94. The obituary indicates that donations in honor of Karl Strauss may be made to the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. The Karl Strauss brewpubs always touted his Bavarian brewing heritage (he trained at the famous Weihenstephan academy), but never did I have an inkling that he might be Jewish. And, his official biography is ambiguous, noting:
This got me wondering, to what extent is there a tradition of Jewish brewers?* Beerhistory.com claims that King David himself might have been a brewer. However, the brewer’s hexagram (still seen on at least one lambic label that I know of) almost certainly originated separately from the Magen David (which itself may have had its earliest formal usage by a Jewish community in Prague–speaking of great potential for brewing connections!). I can say that, whatever the tradition might be, one of my wife’s cousins is carrying it on as a brewer at a microbrewery in Portland–obviously a source of considerable family pride!
The obituary on Strauss also indicates that he worked for macrobrewer Pabst for 44 years before setting up the breweries under his name in partnership with one of his cousins and another founder. Strauss had an interesting comment on his beers, compared to those that have made several of San Diego’s micorobreweries award-winners, as quoted in the obituary:
I am certainly in that 5%, but there are several excellent beers on the regular Strauss rotation, especially the Red Trolley Ale and several of his Bavarian-style lagers, notably his Amber and Oktoberfest.
To the memory of Karl Strauss: Prost, l’chaim, and alav hashalom.
According to a reviewer, a historian of German Jewish experience from the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War to 1780: “Excluded from landowning and most crafts (though the author surprisingly finds Jewish brewers in Berlin!), Jews frequently peddled used goods (especially clothing), dealt in livestock, engaged in money lending, or traded…” [my emphasis]
On 18 Adar, 1891, “A Russian imperial decree ordering the expulsion of all Jewish artisans, brewers, and distillers from Moscow.”
Best of all, at least two of the sages of the Talmud were brewers and “Rabbi Papa claimed that he became wealthy by being a beer brewer and recommended this occupation since it allowed one to become affluent and to be charitable”!
21 December 2006
A foray into the intersections of agronomy, astronomy, and spirituality…
Today is the first day of winter (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), and thus the day of shortest daylight. The winter solstice–as a turning point from darkness to renewed light–has long been imbued with spiritual significance. Chanukah is timed to it (on which more below), and clearly many of the Euro-American Christmas traditions stem from the pagan Yule festivals of the pre-Christian era. The setting of Christmas itself to December (in the fourth century) must have been tied to the Roman Saturnalia holiday at this time of year. Both Saturnalia and Yule were apparently marked by the festive use of evergreens to symbolize renewal (sound familiar?). The burning of Yule logs gave light and (along with the mead!) warmth.1
At 11:47 this morning was solar noon on the first day of winter. Thus even at the point of the day’s maximum sun, the higher-chill deciduous fruit trees in the southern hedgerow of the corralito, shown in the above photo, are mostly in the shade of the tall grapefruit trees (a few branches of which are just barely visible at the left). This dense planting of deciduous trees in winter shade is a “trick” to maximize the chill that they receive.
The new moon was yesterday, meaning last night marked the point of maximum darkness. Last night was the sixth night of Chanukah, the eight-night festival of lights that straddles the new moon closest to the winter solstice–one would not want the festival commemorating rededication, using lights at the darkest time of year (and thus ending one of the darkest times in Jewish history up to that point), to occur at the full moon, after all. A year in which the new moon and the winter solstice come so close to one another is thus a special time. The new moon appears to have last fallen on the same night as the solstice in 1995 and to have last fallen on the night before, as it did this year,2 in 1987. The next time that the new moon will occur on the longest night is 2014 (in other words, it’s a 19-year cycle3), and the next time it will come on the night before is 2025 .
And, while we are on the themes of the corralito and Chanukah, doesn’t the espaliered ‘Freyburg’ apple bear just a little bit of resemblance to a menorah?
2. Barely, as the solstice comes at 1622 here in the San Diego area, or about twenty minutes before sundown on 30 Kislev/21 December, while the new moon was at 0601 on 29 Kislev/20 December. I calculated this from the US Naval Observatory Phases of the Moon and Earth Seasons pages. The Earth Seasons page covers only 1992-2020, while the Phases of the Moon pages go from 1980 to 2035.
3. Why nineteen? Presumably because the leap month (Adar II) must be included seven times in nineteen years in order to keep the (lunar) months consistent with the (solar) seasons.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (3)
20 December 2006
It’s been chilly and frosty.
This the most frost I have seen in the corralito, where our highest-chill fruit trees grow, in five winters. (Well, that first winter, the corralito had not yet been built, nor any trees planted.) A lot of people who want to grow deciduous fruits assume you need to have frost. You don’t; in fact, the prime temperature range for the accumulation of needed chilling hours is about 38â€“45, Fahrenheit, and obviously frost occurs at lower temperatures. And when the air temperature is at freezing, the buds’ receptivity to accumulating chill probably freezes, too, until it starts to warm up. Still, when the morning starts off this cold–the photo was taken around 7:30 a.m., when it was 31 degrees–the chilly air is likely to stick around, especially if you can give the trees some shade and if you are in a canyon or valley that tends to trap the cold air. Only by about 10:00 a.m. did the temperature rise above 45, and the high in the winter-shaded part of the corralito (structured so as to “cheat” on the chill) barely reached 60.
Down at the bottom of the canyon, near the neighbor’s vineyard and by the horse track beyond, it was really frosted. This view is taken from the veranda of the house, about 75-100 feet above the elevation of the corralito and about 200 feet above the canyon floor. The canyon floor itself is about 240 feet above sea level, while those twin peaks across the canyon rise to about 1,040. The topography helps channel chilly air and keep it from draining away too fast on a windless morning.
Fortunately, however, there was almost no frost up at the higher parts of Ladera Frutal, where the bananas are planted, about 170 feet above the corralito (525 or so above sea level).
This photo was also taken shortly after 7:30 a.m., but unlike the shaded corralito, this part of the finca was already bathed in glorious early morning sunshine. The very steepness of these canyon walls and the varying sun angles are what give us the luxury of such microclimates.
Nonetheless, even farther up the slope than this location–up at 550 or so above sea level–the low was 33. That’s the smallest difference from top to bottom of the slope that I have seen on any morning when the lowest part dropped to freezing. Usually, when it is this cold, the same clear, dry, and windless conditions that give us the frost help keep the upper reaches of the finca anywhere from five to fourteen (yes, 14!) degrees warmer than the lower. Although there was no frost up there on the higher ground, those subtropicals that I planted back in October could be in danger from this cold snap.
19 December 2006
Planted by MSS
Planted in: India; USA; Vetoes & Signing Statements & other (ab)uses of prerogative
President Bush signed into law the controversial US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, passed by the lame-duck US Congress. Then he issued a signing statement in which he says that a provision of the law that India’s Congress Party-led government objected to will be treated as “advisory.” According to the Hindustan Times, Section 103
Bush’s statement says:
Of course, as I have noted before, the US President has no authority to set aside parts of a law that may have been (and this case almost certainly were) crucial to its being passed in the first place.
Planted by MSS
Planted in: FRUITS
The Tamopan persimmon has a thick enough shell that you can just slice it and scoop out the luscious sweet flesh. This turban-shaped fruit is one of the best as well as most unusual looking persimmons, yet it is not well known.
Determining when to harvest is not easy, as this variety is astringent (implying it must be somewhat soft to be edible), but it also has a hard shell (very unlike Hachiya, for example). I picked three (all that this 4-year-old tree had) as soon as one of them began to soften. It is wonderfully sweet and extremely juicy, but without the “slimy” texture that some people find disagreeable in Hachiya. One of my books says the flesh can be a bit stringy, but I have not had that experience.
Below is a photo of a Tamopan fruit on the tree, which shows more clearly (or as clear as can be through bird netting) the odd shape of the fruit.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (1)
Donald Horowitz is one of the leading experts in political science on ethnic conflict. I often disagree with his specific electoral-institutional recommendations, but his views on any conflict he turns his attention to are always worth considering seriously. By way of Kenneth Anderson’s Law of War blog, following are some key excerpts of a recent piece by Horowitz from the Wall Street Journal. (more…)
In two earlier plantings, I discussed what appears to be the increasing “institutionalization” of the Iranian regime, and the “setback” for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the elections last Friday. I noted that institutionalization of authoritarian regimes often results in their narrowing. The possible electoral setback for Ahmadinejad is encouraging to the extent that it means that the process of institutionalization is not going in as extreme a direction as Ahmadinejad and his mentor–and choice for next Supreme Leader–Ayatollah Mohammed Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi would like it to go.
However, compared to developments earlier in this decade, the process of institutionalization may be gradually foreclosing the prospects of an electorally driven reformist opening. Pepe Escobar in the Asia Times puts it well:
The entire Asia Times piece is well worth reading. It is one of the best journalistic accounts of the current Iranian political process that I have seen. I thank Jonathan for the tip.
17 December 2006
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has stated he will order early elections for both president and parliament. Not surprisingly, Hamas, which won the parliamentary majority last January, rejects the call as a “coup attempt.” There have been armed clashes. The announcement has also split Abbas’s Fatah movement, with the armed wing and others rejecting the idea.
The constitution does not have a provision for the president to dissolve parliament, which has a four-year term, so if he carries out the process, Abbas risks a major institutional crisis. Indeed, it would be what in Latin America is called an auto-golpe. In other words, Hamas is right that it is essentially a coup threat.* It could be that Abbas simply wants to escalate the pressure on Hamas to agree to a “unity” government. Or he may be serious about early elections, which in any event, would not be held for several months.
If he is going to go forward with such an extra-constitutional move, here’s hoping he also finds a way to impose a more proportional electoral system for parliament and a runoff system for president. Currently, parliament is elected by a mixed-member majoritarian system that severely distorts the votes-to-seats translation (see previous discussion from January in the Palestine subdomain), and the president is elected by plurality.
Abbas won two thirds of the votes in an election boycotted by Hamas in January, 2005. Hamas won only 44% of the votes in parliamentary elections in January, 2006. But it won 56% of the seats. Abbas’s vote total was around half a million, while Hamas’s “mandate” rests on just over 440,000.
It is very unclear what the outcome of a new election might be. However, is quite ominous that, absent new rules being imposed along with early elections, if the 44%â€“41% close breakdown of the party-list votes from January were to be repeated, with Hamas again in the lead, Hamas would capture the presidency as well as a renewed legislative majority.
* Update: Unsurprisingly, Hamas says it will boycott any early elections.
Propagation: Seeds & scions (2)
Only early returns are in from Iran’s local council and Assembly of Experts elections. In fact, results are delayed due to problems with the computerized counting process. Fortunately, Iranian electoral authorities know how to count paper ballots by hand. But I digress…
It is already apparent that supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have suffered some key setbacks. In the Tehran race for Experts seats, the man whom Ahmadinejad defeated for president in June, 2005, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has about twice the votes of Mohamad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is seen as both a political mentor of Ahmadinejad and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. (As noted in my previous discussion, the Experts choose the next Supreme Leader whenever the incumbent dies or otherwise cannot continue.)
Rafsanjani, considered a conservative before Ahmadinejad came onto the scene, was backed by reformists including ex-president Mohammad Khatami and apparently also was favored by the Supreme Leader.
Additionally, candidates backed by Ahmadinejad appear to have lost control of the Tehran municipal council, winning only two of fifteen seats.
Even though Iran is no democracy, at least one thing about the result is consistent with interpretations that will be familiar to Americans and others: The President denies that the outcome is in any way a reflection on his administration.
The results for the one national body at stake in these elections need to be treated with caution. Each province serves as a multi-seat district for the Assembly of Experts, and the electoral system is multiple nontransferable vote (MNTV). Under MNTV, the voter may cast up to as many votes as there are seats at stake in the district and the winners are simply the candidates with the most votes. There are no party lists to pool votes from a popular “party” leader to allied candidates, and there are effectively no parties, although there are loose party-like groupings. Despite the wide disparity in votes between Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi, both will be elected in Tehran, and it is thus far not entirely clear what the balance of allies of either man will be in Tehran’s Experts delegation.
Mesbah-Yazdi is in sixth place out of sixteen seats. The wide disparity between the two leaders is itself an indicator that most voters do not cast the full number of votes available to them. This is typical of MNTV systems, even with lower magnitude, but imagine the task for the voter when there are sixteen votes that he or she may cast, and candidate names are not organized on the ballot by party or even with party names beside them! Thus we can infer little from gap in votes between Rafsanjani and Mesbah-Yazdi about the overall balance, even in Tehran, let alone in the twenty-seven other districts (which range in magnitude from one to eight). However, Reuters India suggests that Mesbah-Yazdi’s favored candidates did not do so well:
Some of Ahmadinejad’s strongest support is in the provinces, so Mesbah-Yazdi allies probably have won elsewhere, and, as noted above, many of these provinces have low magnitude and thus may not have elected Rafsanjani allies.
Whatever the final outcome, the change in control of the Tehran city council and the strong showing in the Tehran Experts race by Rafsanjani clearly shows the limits of Ahmadinejad’s support within even the narrowly representative Iranian political class. If the “conference” on the Shoah and the repeated belligerent remarks about Israel were meant to mobilize his ultra-fundamentalist base, they appear to have backfired.
Turnout in these elections was high–apparently around sixty percent. Those who were energized were apparently the reformists, who had largely boycotted the elections of 2004 for parliament and 2005 for president.
15 December 2006
The sun is about to set here at Ladera Frutal, and when it does it will be the 25th of Kislev. Thus I wish all my readers a happy Chanukah!
Yes, all my readers, and not only those who are Jewish. Chanukah is not even in the top four or five religious holidays for Judaism, but it is of great historical and trans-faith importance nonetheless. In some ways, it is as significant politically as religiously, which may be one of the (many) reasons I like it so much. There are far better sources on-line and elsewhere about the history of the holiday, and I will not be so presumptuous as to explain it in any detail here. But, in a nutshell, it celebrates perhaps history’s first successful guerrilla war of independence, as Jewish patriots fought and defeated an oppressive imperial political system and culture into which many of their own were assimmilating. And Christians really ought to stop and take note of it as more than that “alternative to Christmas” (which in fact it is not, other than by the calendar) that their Jewish friends are celebrating, for had the Maccabean Jews’ liberation campaign not been successful, there would have remained no Jewish nation for Jesus to have been born to.
The holiday is a beautiful and evocative one, with an additional candle lit each of the next seven nights after tonight. The holiday comes–not by accident–right around the winter solstice, and the increasing light of the candles each night symbolizes the return of light at the darkest time of year.
Well the sun is getting low on this Friday afternoon. Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom!
Propagation: Seeds & scions (2)
Planted by MSS
Planted in: USA
The issue is no doubt moot. As long as he is alive, Johnson’s ouster would not get the two-thirds vote it would require, given that the Democratic majority depends on his occupying the seat (whether he is capable of literally doing so or not).
It would, of course, be even better were the issue to be moot on account of Johnson’s recovery. It is still early in the process, but current signs are “encouraging.”
Atom | RSS | RSS2 |
Specialized feeds (RSS2):
Even more specialized...
The Fruit Blog (Fruit & fruit breeding)
African Elections Database
M. Herrera's Electoral Calendar
Electoral Geography (Data archive)
Michael Gallagher's data archive
Election Finance (Blog, data archive)
Election Law (Rick Hasen)
VoteLaw (Edward Still)
Ballot Access News
Electoral and Political Reform
Blogs of political analysisPoliBlog
Arms and Influence (dormant)
Outside the Beltway
Political Science Weblog (abstracts)
Ideological Cartography (Adam Bonica)
Frontloading HQ (Josh Putnam)
Vote View (Keith Poole)
The Monkey Cage
A Plain Blog About Politics (Jonathan Bernstein)
Political Arithmetik (dormant)
Polls & Votes
The semi-presidential one
Chapel Hill Treehouse (dormant)
Political Behavior (dormant)
Countries at the Crossroads (Freedom House blog)
Jacob T. Levy
Frozen Garlic (Taiwan elections)
OTHER SOCIAL SCIENCE BLOGS
Bloggers who link or comment here (if not listed elsewhere on this page)
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
F&V time: This blog's date function is so set as to start a new day at approximately local sunset. (Why, if we have "day" and "night," should a new "day" start in the middle of the night?)
FRUITS: Support your local, organic growers; and, plant vines and fig trees and pomegranates for the generations to come...
VOTES: For democratization and full representation, for environmental sustainability, social justice, and peace, always sincerely...
Powered by WordPress