Judicious intervention
With Arnold Schwartzenegger, Arianna Huffington, and now Cruz Bustamante putting their names in the recall hat, not much attention has been paid to the California Supreme Court:
Invoking the specter of a Florida-style polling debacle, the governor's lawyers claimed voters will be disenfranchised because counties do not have enough money or time to properly prepare for the October 7 election. They also want the court to allow Davis to add his own name to the list of replacements on the recall ballot - a list that appears to be growing daily. About 300 gubernatorial wannabes have taken out papers in advance of Saturday's official filing deadline.
It's quite possible the court will end this before it gets started - for one thing, it could decide that if Davis is recalled, Bustamante (as Lt Governor) must replace him. But this question of whether Davis's name can appear on the list of candidates to replace him may be the most bizarre development - it would mean that he could be recalled only with a 50%+1 vote against him, but he could be chosen to replace himself with only a plurality, potentially as few as (1/n)%+1 votes in a race with n candidates. Surely he could meet the second standard, even with plummetting numbers. He is, after all, a consummate political actor (if you've written him off already, read this).

MORE: A reader emails the following question:

if you vote no on the recall, are you prohibited from casting a vote for the replacement? if so, that's going to dramatically alter the vote. because, for example, i would vote against the recall, but if i thought that the recall was going to succeed, i would definitely want to vote on the successor, which could cause me to vote for the recall and for my replacement candidate.
As I understand it (and I can't find an article to back this up, unfortunately - the press deluge on this makes searching pretty hard) originally if you voted "no" to the recall, you couldn't vote for a replacement, but apparently that's since been changed. So, now it will ask whether you want Davis recalled, and then it will ask, regardless of what you voted on the first question, who should replace him in the event that he needs replacing. This is one reason Davis is pushing so hard to get his name on that second question - although I suppose it's not a foregone conclusion that folks who voted "no" on the first question would vote for him on the second.

And Haggai Elitzur takes issue with my math:

I'm sure you must be shocked - shocked! - to be hearing it from me (Casablanca reference, re my latest post), but as it is, the math in your latest post about the CA recall is a bit off. You say that the minimum needed to win in a race with n candidates is (1/n)% + 1 votes, but that's incorrect. There are a couple of ways to say it:

(100/n)% + 1

(1/n)V + 1 where V is the total number of votes cast

For instance, if there are only two candidates, and V total votes cast, he doesn't need (1/2)% + 1 votes, he needs (100/2)% + 1, or (1/2)V + 1.

Glad my political economy prof can't see me now...


Flashmobs in Chicago
Well, since most of my traffic these days seems to be coming from "chicago+flashmob" searches (you can get the latest by joining the email list here), I guess I should write something more about the whole situation. I don't know how this sort of thing is taking place in other cities, what the organizational backend looks like, etc, but here in Chicago it's marked by unrestrained bickering and grave attention to detail. Both of these things seem to me to be a little outside the spirit of the whole phenomenon, they're the kinds of things one might expect from some kind of politically motivated (or at least x-motivated!) protest, but not so much from a flashmob.

Then again, I'm not entirely sure how to read the phenomenon yet - there seem to be a couple different motivations here for participants, at least among the Chicago incubators. Some would turn flashmobbing into a political statement or tool; others seem to be aiming for a (usually humorous) performance, a kind of public entertainment. The tendency of the most vocal exponents seems to be toward a purely aesthetic experience, almost evangelically absurdist and obsessed with the notion that networking technologies bring about some kind of hive consciousness.

This last idea is the most insupportable - these mobs aren't really mobs at all, because everything has been carefully planned in advance, and someone's in charge. Without some kind of planning or coherent and enforced intelligence behind it, the whole project would fall into chaos, which would not be a flashmob. It makes more sense as some kind of performance art - but who gets to be the aritst?


Things which were cast down
Yesterday was shaping up to be a big day for the Episcopal Church, but now the approval process for the first openly gay bishop is mired in allegations of "inappropriate touching" etc. Pretty disappointing, and a disaster for the chuch's progressive image - in a few short hours it went from an institution on the cutting edge of social reform to one approximating the massive problems the Catholic Church has with its clergy. I obviously have no insight into the veracity of the allegations, but they certainly have the whiff of character assassination. It will be interesting to see whether the vote takes place before the end of the convention, or if it is postponed indefinitely.

MORE: I spoke too soon - it turns out the vote will take place later today.


It looks like the comments are no more - apparently what seemed free wasn't, or at least wasn't for very long. I feel especially bad because I know some people began using this service after my referral. In any case, I'm a little too cheap to upgrade right now, but I am working on a solution that should be in play within the week. Unfortunately, it looks like all the old comments will be lost...

In the meantime, feel free to email me if you have comments, I will post them as appropriate.

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