Thursday, October 13, 2016

Friday Fragments

Math parable: Did you know that subtracting a negative number has the same net effect as adding a positive one?  


The Boy has become a fan of the University of Michigan teams, so we took the opportunity to catch the Michigan-Rutgers game last Saturday.  It was my first college football game since college.  (I still haven’t been to a pro game.)  

I remembered why I never attended Rutgers games in grad school.

Michigan won, 78-0.  When we left, late in the third quarter, I think it was 57-0.  At that point, it seemed like the only decent thing to do was to look away.  At that point in the game, Rutgers had yet to make a first down.  We were rooting for Michigan, and even we were embarrassed.

The students on the Rutgers side left en masse after halftime.  I couldn’t blame them.  Half the stadium was wearing maize and blue.  

I know that teams have ups and downs, but this wasn’t even competitive.  The previous week Rutgers lost to Ohio State by more than 50 points.  Rutgers simply has no business competing at that level.  If it had been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight.  I actually wished for a mercy rule.  After a while, the Michigan fans even stopped singing the fight song after each touchdown; by the eighth time, it just seemed mean.

The stadium was nice, and it was a blast walking with TB through New Brunswick and giving him the tour.  He’s getting close to the college search, so it made a nice rough draft.  I even got him a “fat cat,” a New Brunswick delicacy in which the french fries are part of the sandwich.  I’m well past the age at which a fat cat appeals, but he’s right there, and he loved it.

We had a great time despite the game.  But I really wonder why the game even happened.


Okay, I’ll admit being a little obsessed with electoral college maps.  This week, Twitter cut loose with some brilliant ones.  Here’s what the electoral college would look like if it wore pants.  Here’s what it would look like if only Florida voted, and Illinois had fraud.  Here’s what it would look like when “all the stars in the universe burn out and matter decays into nothingness.”

At home, we’re planning to do electoral maps of our own, to see who comes closest.  I’ve found that it’s possible to create a semi-plausible tie, if you manipulate Maine and/or Nebraska right.  (The electoral college being an even number probably isn’t our best idea, as a country.)  Kristin Soltis Anderson, from The Pollsters, even found a way to make a 269-263 vote, with Evan McMullin carrying Utah.  That one’s actually more interesting, since a dead tie would go to the House and thereby to Trump, but a 269-263 Clinton plurality would raise issues.  One “faithless elector” and that’s that.

This is how poli sci nerds have fun on Twitter.


Program note: next week I’ll be at the Aspen fellowship, so I won’t be filing dispatches from there.  I’ll be back in the saddle on October 24.