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Friday, February 15, 2013

Atchafalaya?

An art project dividing the U.S. into 50 equal-population states. (Question: Would the state lines be redrawn to keep them equal on an ongoing basis?) Michael Barone has an interesting column saying that this would have generated a Romney victory (due to urban clustering of Democrats). I wonder which state I'd most want to live in. Probably Shasta.

2 comments:

Ray Haupt said...

This reapportionment scheme is silly but interesting.

The computer algorithm might be more useful if applied to individual states to redraw Congressional and Legislative districts. If the program is free of knowledge of party registration the outcome should be fair and the gerrymandering process will be of interest only in history books.

There may be some human meddling in this process in that a starting point and a few guidelines variable in each state might be desirable. For example: in Pennsylvania it might be desirable to instruct the program to start with a Congressional district that in one of the corners of the state or to cause Congressional districts to not cross the Susquehanna River in the southern part of the state.

Kenneth Silber said...

Why not? And in the other direction, it could start redrawing the continent or whole world without reference to existing national borders. I recall Gregory Benford's book Deep Time discussing long-term management of radioactive waste in the Southwest, including scenarios where political borders have changed. Just looked it up and found this:

http://www.physics.uci.edu/~silverma/benford.html

The year is 2583, just after a century of political upheaval in the former American Southwest. After endless wrangling caused by regional interests and perceived inequities in political representation, the United States has fragmented into a cluster of smaller nation states. Similar processes have affected the stability of Mexico, traditionally plagued by tensions between the relatively affluent North and the centralized political control of the South. Its northern provinces have formed the Free State of Chihuahua.
Political uncertainty in the Free State leads to a large-scale exodus of Anglo-Saxons, as well as many long-established Hispanic families, from the former US territories. They are escorted by forces loyal to one or the other of the new countries, who practice a scorched earth policy, destroying most of the technological infrastructure, especially installations of potential military value, on the northern side of the former U.S./Mexico border.

The Free State lacks foreign exchange and has a poor credit rating.Because it is limited in available natural resources, its people evolve into a scavenger society, recovering, repairing and reusing all available technical artifacts from earlier times.