The jaboticaba, a fruit from South America that does very well here, is certainly on the short list of really weird fruiting trees. Not too many fruit trees produce their fruit directly on the main limbs. You can walk right by this tree and never imagine there is any fruit on it. But pull back some of the outer twigs and foliage and you see the bounty.
The fruit is luscious. A little hint of blueberry, a little red grape. A gelatinous texture inside a think tannic skin. I would not eat too many of them with their skins, because of the tannins. But the flesh is great to eat, and contrasts remarkably with the flavor of the skin.
Beginning June 23, 2008 and lasting through September 15, 2008, the top levels of the Gilman and Hopkins Parking structures will be closed to all parking due to the installation of photovoltaic (solar) parking canopies. In addition to providing shade for parked cars, these solar energy systems will provide over 400 kilowatts of clean renewable energy to the campus..
Spectacular! Can’t wait to park the hybrid under one of these.1
Though it’s not very near my office, to which I seldom drive anyway. And Jordan drives the hybrid, leaving me with the decidedly ungreen 4WD official Ladera Frutal pickup on those unfortunate days when I do have to drive to campus. But maybe he’ll let me drive it one day after 15 September! [↩]
Israel’s Green Party was founded more than a decade ago, but has never won a Knesset seat despite the very low electoral threshold.1 The party’s chairman is the current deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, and polls are currently showing that the party could win as many as 4 seats in the next election.2
The party’s prospects could be helped by recruiting a “charismatic leader to head the list,” reports the Jerusalem Post:
Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines has confirmed that he was asked to head the list, but has denied that he seriously considered the offer. MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) has reportedly been approached by both environmentalist parties.
And therein lies a key factor that could harm the party’s prospects: there is a second green party being formed.
The new party will be co-headed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev professor Alon Tal and Eran Ben Yemini of the Green Course student environmental organization. …
Several hundred people are involved in putting together the party’s platform, which will encompass positions on all the major issues of the day and not just the environment. A source in the party said its positions and organization would be democratic and transparent.
Most of the green parties around the world that have secured parliamentary representation (and sometimes government participation) have presented a platform that spanned many issues other than the environment. And many have made a point of stressing internal democracy, which the older Israeli Green party apparently has not always been known for upholding.
The threshold is currently 2% of the national vote. In 2006, the Greens won 1.5%, which was the highest percentage among the parties that failed to cross the threshold. [↩]
It could “replace the Pensioners Party in the next Knesset as the dark horse that will win the support of young and disgruntled voters,” notes the JPost, in the article linked here. I previously noted the manner in which the Pensioners benefited from late-campaign strategic voting. Meanwhile, the Pensioners Party has recently split over some of its MKs support for a bill to raise–you guessed it–pensions beyond what the government (in which it participates) was willing to do. [↩]
In an effort to maximize turnout, polls will be open till 10 p.m. tonight, Irish time, in Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon EU Treaty. Ireland is the only EU country having a referendum on this treaty. The cynic might note that referenda have such a nasty habit of turning out contrary to the wishes of the elites who so carefully craft agreements that it is just too risky to submit such big issues to the masses. But the treaty needs unanimous ratification by signatories, so a failure in Ireland (where any constitutional change must be submitted to the electorate) would send everyone back to the drawing board yet again.
Polls have been divided on which side is ahead, and conventional wisdom evidently suggests that low turnout favors the no.
Well, we have been counting the days. Literally. And the day is finally upon us: Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks.
Not surprisingly, I rather like its alternate name: Day of the First Fruits. And it just so happens that here at Ladera Frutal we have a “first fruit” just now in the form of Arctic Star nectarines! (Yes, the original “first fruits” in the biblical context were grain, but this is not Grains & Votes, after all.)
In any event, the holiday’s universal message is that with our freedom comes responsibility. A good lesson for which to pause from daily life and reflect.
Steven Taylor, writing in the Press-Register, asks whether it was, in retrospect, a mistake for the Alabama legislature to have advanced the date of this year’s presidential primary. His conclusion is similar to mine with respect to California (and he kindly cites a planting here on that question).
Steven’s argument in favor of the ‘Super Tuesday’ primary points out that the Republican race was still very much in flux at the time, whereas mine concerned only the Democratic race, where proportional representation really meant every vote counted, and even more so (I argued) when cast early to help shape the race.
Republicans, on the other hand, are quite content to simply throw out a lot of votes. Alabama was quite a case in point, with Hucakbee getting nearly all the delegates despite beating McCain only 41%-37%. Republicans had a number of such early outcomes (South Carolina and Missouri, both ‘won’ narrowly by McCain, were even more egregious). If you would rather have your vote thrown out in February than in June, if you happened not to side with the one-third (or so) minority of your state that favored the candidate with the most votes, then, yes, it was also good for Republicans to vote early.
Marc Ambinder outlines a scenario in which Barack Obama could win the popular vote while losing (legitimately) the electoral vote. Basically, the scenario rests on the assumption that Obama will turn out legions of new voters in safe Republican states like Mississippi and Texas, but not enough to swing such states. Thus he will build his national total without augmenting his electoral votes. (Meanwhile, presumably he will win the safe Democratic states by larger margins than Gore or Kerry did, which has the same effect on the outcome.)
I do not find the scenario plausible, even if it is theoretically quite possible. I find it implausible for two reasons. First of all, if there is any partisan bias in the electoral college over recent cycles, it is not clear to me that said bias does not favor the Democratic party. It is easy to forget, but in the 1990s, there was a lot of talk about the “Democratic lock” on the electoral college. The lesson of a stolen swing-state outcome and judicial coup d’etat in 2000, followed by an extremely narrow squeaker in 2004 (that was very close to a reversal in favor of the Democrat) should be a lesson in how fundamentally hard it is for the Republican to overcome that lock, rather than a lesson in how likely the Democrats are to fail to win electoral college majorities. Thus, if either candidate is more likely to win the popular vote but lose the electoral college in a close race, it is McCain. Quick: really, which states won by either Kerry or Gore do you think McCain is going to pick off? No, really?1
That the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 saw a reversal against it as more likely than one favoring their ticket seemed to me likely at the time from their strategic behavior late in the campaign. They were on the air in California, a state they had no chance to win, but where a higher Republican turnout would increase their chances of winning the popular vote even if (as expected) Gore-Lieberman ran the table on the relatively large swing states, including Florida.2
Ambinder suggests that the Democratic party and the public might not take a reversal against the Democrats so passively as in 2000 if it happened again.3 He asks, “can the two-party system sustain another disparity?” I would most certainly hope not!
But there is a more fundamental reason why I do not find plausible Ambinder’s scenario. I do not find the scenario plausible for a very simple reason: I think Barack Obama is likely to win at least 53% of the two-candidate vote.4 That will produce, if not quite the blowout that a large popular-vote margin would produce in the past, a resounding win in the electoral college.
Nate’s simulations agree that a reversal favoring Obama is somewhat more likely than a reversal favoring McCain. He also notes that part of the reason is that while population shifts favor Republican-leaning states, the electoral college apportionment for 2008 is based in the 2000 census. Thus, Nate reasons, McCain will suffer from malapportionment that will cost him around 5 electoral votes. My “favors Democrats” (I would not say “lock”) argument does not depend on the lag in apportionment; rather, it stems from the tendency of larger states to be somewhat more likely to be Democratic leaning because they are more urban. That favors a Democratic candidate in the electoral college in a close race. [↩]
It was also plausible, given that Ralph Nader was expected to win more than the paltry 2.7% of the vote that he did win nationally. Of course, much more and he might have “spoiled” Oregon and Wisconsin. The point simply is that Gore, late in the campaign, was moving into pretty good position in the electoral college, even as the popular vote remained tight. See the discussion and my comment at Brendan Nyhan. [↩]
Even if it happened legitimately, as his scenario outlines. [↩]
No simulations, no models. Just a gut feeling. Check back later. [↩]
So, reports indicate that reality has set in at Clinton HQ that Barack Obama has won the nomination of the Democratic Party to be its presidential candidate in 2008.
I am just hoping that my colleagues remember that, about a year ago, I predicted at a faculty meeting that Barack Obama would be the nominee. I am not sure what their recollection of that fact would be worth, but it ought to be worth something, oughtn’t it?
Oh, sure I wavered when the Clintons entered 2008 with what seemed to be a formidable lead. But having doubts about one’s prediction is not the same as retracting it, is it?
I would add that Oklahoma, another state with a large indigenous population, was one of the early states where Obama most over-performed his late polling estimate (from a limited number of polls). See the graph.
Although Obama lost Oklahoma by a big margin, he outperformed his polls substantially.
We may be well past the point at which this contest can produce surprises, but maybe Obama will surprise in South Dakota, a state with 10% indigenous (and very little polling).
Montana’s delegate allocations are a little funky, with the state divided up into two pseudo-CDs based on Montana’s old congressional districts from the 1980s (it has just one now). Each district has five delegates…
Given the vast territory, this actually makes sense. Or at least it would if delegate candidates themselves actually did the campaigning.
Also relevant today: The South Dakota projection, and the attendant tricky demographics (all the trickier because exit polling has not asked about indigenous people’s preferences, even in other states where they are a substantial minority).
I just learned that Paul Thomson has died. Paul was one of the founders in 1968 of the California Rare Fruit Growers, and continued to pioneer the growing of rare fruits until his declining health prevented him from doing so in recent years. He lived into his 90s, which I always thought was a good testament to the power of eating a rich variety of fruits!
I had the pleasure of knowing Paul personally, though not intimately, because I am fortunate enough to live near him and to be a member of the same local chapter of CRFG as its co-founder. He regularly imparted his wisdom on us newcomers (example: always graft at the waxing moon).
I distinctly remember two specific pieces of advice he had for me. When I had just joined CRFG in 1996, and we spoke about where I was planting my first little orchard, in Carlsbad, he asked if I was near “that slough.” Yes, just above one of the lagoons on the coastline. Paul said, “you’ll get a lot more chill than you think.” He was right. It turned out to be a great place to grow stone fruits, including many that the more conventional nursery experts thought I could not grow, but not so good for subtropicals.
Then after moving to Bonsall–just down the road from where Paul lived and experimented for many years–I remember how he repeated with an exclamation the name of the locale of our finca-to-be. Moosa Canyon!! You had better be up high if you want to grow anything that’s tender to frost, he warned me. You’ll get some hard freezes in there, and then he related the experience of his frozen pipes years ago. Well, I planted the tender stuff up as high as I could. And lost almost all of it in the freeze of 2007. The killed trees included a mango variety that bears his name, as it was one of his selections for best mango for a region that will always marginal for subtropical fruits. Indeed, it had just had the most fruit I have ever had in ten years of trying various varieties.
No obituary has appeared yet in the local newspaper, but Seasonal Chef has a nice feature, dated 1997, about the impact Thomson and his followers had on rare-fruit growing here in northern San Diego County and beyond. The story explains how he realized Bonsall was not the place to grow the most tender fruits, and bought a property known as Edgehill, in Vista. I had just driven up to Edgehill a few weeks ago. Many of the magnificent lychee and other trees that he planted decades ago still stand and fruit, even though the property has been developed with several luxury homes. Of course, the real luxury–whether the residents realize it or not–is those great old fruit trees.
Paul knew his fruit. I am blessed to have known Paul.
California holds its primary election this Tuesday. But, wait, didn’t we do that already? Yes, and no. For what I think is the first time in state history, our presidential and legislative primaries are on separate dates.1 We had the presidential primary on ‘Super Tuesday’ (5 February). Legislative and many local races are 3 June.
With no US Senate race this year, and this not being an election year for statewide constitutional offices, primaries will be held only for congressional, state-legislative, and other sub-state entities. This is evidently also unprecedented.
Turnout will be low. Really low. And, of course, this being California, there are statewide ballot measures being voted on,2 allowing a potentially unrepresentative sample of the state electorate to make public policy for all the state’s residents.
Inevitably, the separate dates and the expected low turnout for this election have led to lots of “what ifs.” That is, what if California had kept its usual June primary for presidential nominating delegates? With the Democratic race having extended throughout the whole primary season, imagine the impact California would have had!
How much impact? Less than it actually had.
The “what if” scenario–which I have heard or read numerous pundits state–rests on the assumption that there would have been frantic competition between Clinton and Obama for such a BIG PRIZE at the end. The problem with this claim is that it rests on an implicit winner-take-all logic, as well as on the notion that only the “decisive” votes count.3 Sure, if California used winner-take-all, and no other state did, and we had this close race… Then it would be quite a prize indeed. But with the proportional allocation of delegates–the only democratic way to do it4–a contest this late would have had much less impact than it had back in February.
When we went to vote in February, we genuinely did not know the outcome of the contest. With 370 delegates at stake, and 81 of them decided statewide, about every 1.2% of the vote for a candidate meant another statewide delegate, and local swings between the candidates also would shift some number of the district delegates between the candidates (depending on magnitude of the district and how much of a local swing).
Now the race is over, and it has been (effectively) over for some time. The pledged delegate count (after the Florida/Michigan adjustment), according to Real Clear Politics, stands at:
Without California, it would be
A deficit for Clinton of 154 rather than the actual 116.
Chances are she would have done no better in California in June that she did in February. In fact, I suspect she would lose if we were voting this week. Suppose the result of the two candidate race (55%-45%) were to be reversed–probably an unrealistically large swing relative to the real result. Obama would pick up 38 delegates at her expense. We would be at 1774 to 1582. Not exactly race-altering. Of course, if we add in the ex-oficio delegates under the assumption they would have been declaring at the same rate and same proportions even if California had not voted yet, then we probably would be looking at a clinch for Obama in California on 3 June.5 But, again, the notion that such a scenario implies more meaningful votes for Californians than the ones they actually cast in February rests on a dubious logic. It requires the belief that it is better to give a candidate the clinching delegate in a race that is clearly all but over than it is to have voted early when almost every vote counted in affecting the balance of delegates in a race that was just developing. The latter is certainly closer to the “every vote counts” democratic ideal. It certainly made me feel my own vote was more meaningful than if I had to wait till this week to weigh in at last.
Such practice is typical in some other states, especially those that routinely vote earlier in the presidential nominating cycle. [↩]
Two of them, both concerning eminent domain. We can’t ever seem to have just one measure per issue. I’ll do what many voters do when they don’t understand the issues and strongly suspect some organized interest is trying to pull one over on me: Vote no on both. [↩]
The same logic by which the closer makes more money than the set-up man. The ninth inning is clearly more important, right? [↩]
And, in any event, one state is not going to be allowed to deviate from the proportional rule applied elsewhere. And if most or all states used winner-take-all, the contest would have been over long ago [↩]
RCP shows him at 2065 as of today, and if he won 38 more in California than he actually did, he’d be 15 short. But with polls closing in South Dakota and Montana earlier on 3 June than in California, the Golden State would deliver the decisive vote. But the assumption on ‘supers’ is probably unrealistic. With the biggest state not having voted yet, it is likely that fewer of the unelected delegates would have declared by now. And if so, California still would not be decisive. [↩]
During the standoff over Nepal’s electoral system for the (now complete) constituent assembly elections, we discussed here the controversy over whether to use a mixed-member system or a pure list-PR system.
The controversy was more heated than we realized.
The protest banner says:
X – MIXED ELECTORAL SYSTEM
[check] Full Proportionate Electoral System
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum – Madhesh
(Thanks to frequent propagator Bancki for sending me this photo some time ago. The original source is Reuters.)
I was going to run these numbers, but fortunately I never got around to it, meaning I can just lazily link to and quote Nate:
turnout in Michigan was equal to 24 percent of John Kerry’s vote in 2004. However, the average in other states with open primaries was 79 percent. In other words, turnout was only about one-third as much as it should have been. The judgment of two-thirds of the voters in Michigan was essentially that the primary didn’t matter and wasn’t worth their time.
Florida was a little bit more normal. Turnout was equal to 48 percent of John Kerry’s vote; the average in other closed primary states was 59 percent.
Given the extremely low turnout, it was magnanimous of the Obama campaign to agree to only a halving of the voting weight of the Michigan delegation. A quarter to one-third of the voting weight might have been reasonable but, as far as I know, was never proposed.
Nate separately makes a convincing case as to why the final deal on Michigan not only counts the votes for “Uncommitted” for Obama, but also re-weights the actual votes, which amounts to a shift of 4 additional delegates his way1:
why not instead sign off Clinton the 73-55 delegate split that her campaign desired? It’s only a difference of a few delegates.
Well, if you did that, you’d be reflecting the Clinton/uncommitted preference from the unsanctioned primary. Which means that you’d be tending to legitimate the results of that primary. Which means that Clinton would have had a stronger claim for including Michigan in her popular vote count. And the popular vote count is different way that Clinton has tended to imply that Obama’s nomination is not legitimate. If Clinton hadn’t pushed the popular vote meme so noisily, in other words, Obama would probably have given her those four extra delegates.
I am going to take each of Michigan’s 15 congressional districts, contemplate their key demographics, and identify comparable congressional districts in other states where Barack Obama’s name did appear on the ballot.2 [...]
Overall, we project that Obama would have carried Michigan by a narrow margin — about 4.0 percentage points or 80,000 votes. After accounting for delegates awarded at the statewide level, we project him to win 65 Michigan delegates to Clinton’s 63. [...]
To assert that the uncommitted vote is an adequate substitute for Obama’s vote does not hold water, when we have abundant evidence from similar states like Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Missouri that Obama would have performed quite well in Michigan.
In the end, noisy dissent by a few Clintonite dead-enders notwithstanding, the bargain struck yesterday seems quite fair from this vantage point. But Josh Putnam explains the compromise best of all.
It is not clear to me if that is 4 delegates, each with half a voting weight, or 8 delegates with a weighted voting equivalent of 4. [↩]
Along with that of John Edwards, though Nate did not include estimated Edwards votes, because most or all of the districts in question are in states that voted after Edwards dropped out. Edwards still had an active campaign at the time of the unsanctioned Michigan primary. Presumably he would have invested in Michigan, as well as Florida. Would these states have kept his campaign alive at least through 5 Feb.? And if they had, would it have altered the Obama-Clinton dynamic of the race? My guess is, yes, and maybe in a big way. And in Clinton’s ultimate favor, I would think. [↩]
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4