Sunday, February 03, 2008

Don't do the math

Let someone else

Remember the adventures of my friend PiD at the Reno caucuses last month? There were lots of problems in dealing with the head-counting and percentage-computing required by the caucus process. (Well, it was tricky stuff, you know: Like trying to figure out what support there was for one candidate in a two-person race if the other had 59%. Math is hard!)

Not to worry! The Obama campaign in Colorado has posted a training video on its website, the Colorado Caucus Center. The video segments include finding training meets, determining your caucus location, and the step-by-step process on caucus night. Best of all, there's a comforting note that you can participate in the Colorado caucuses even if you don't know any math. (Ooh, math!)
The Caucus Math

Math is involved to determine the outcome of the Colorado caucuses. Only the people in charge will have to do math. This interactive tool will help you understand how it works.
Isn't that a comfort? Someone else will do all the math for you and you can just take their word for it. After all, we live in a era of political honesty and trust, right?

(Hat-tip to Gary Farber at Amygdala.)


Anonymous said...

Is there a limit of one realignment? The tool seems faulty.


William said...

I would've commented on the original post, but words failed me.

When I take my cat to the vet, they weigh her at the reception desk. I have a pre-weighed carrier -- 4.9 pounds -- so I don't have to take the cat out. Invariably, the receptionist pulls out a calculator. I say, "Just subtract five and add back a tenth." She nods "uh-huh" and continues typing. I give her the answer... she's still punching.

Asimov's "The Feeling of Power" is getting much closer to reality than I'm comfortable with.

Interrobang said...

I'd have trouble with doing that calculation -- how much is a tenth of a pound (other than, say, 45.4g)? I grew up metric, and if I want to do fractions of pounds, I have to convert to grams first. In a base-ten system, if you get stuck, you can, in fact, count on your fingers. :)

William said...

Well, yes, theoretically they should be doing pounds and ounces, but actually they just use decimal fractions of a pound. (At my vet's office, I mean... I can't speak for anywhere else.) So it's almost like metric...

Gary Farber said...

For the record, the video is somewhat tongue-in-chief, and has a clear joke about the lack of a requirement to do math; the text on the page is a reflection of that conscious joke.

Similarly, the video wasn't actually filmed decades ago, on film, thus producing the aged film effect. And so on.

Gary Farber said...


Er, tongue-in-cheek, was what I was trying to say.