Jones Shows Sanders Would Have Probably Won

Published at 13:58 on 17 December 2017

Doug Jones won election from an overwhelmingly conservative state despite having liberal views on abortion that would normally cause the chattering classes to proclaim him “unelectable” there. And his other views tend to the left end of the political spectrum (by Alabama standards, anyhow) as well.

Yes, of course Jones won because Roy Moore was a tragically flawed candidate. Of course that means a non-tragically-flawed, garden-variety Republican would have mopped the floor with Jones. But a garden-variety Republican wasn’t running against Jones. Moore was.

Likewise, Sanders wouldn’t have been running against a garden-variety Republican, either. He would have been running against deeply flawed, faux populist Trump. Sanders’ genuine (or at least more genuine by far than Trump’s) populism would have enabled him to mop the floor with Trump in the debates.

Yes, Trump would have played dirty and tried to paint Sanders as an unrequited Stalinist. It probably wouldn’t have worked. Vermont is far less thoroughly liberal than most give that state credit for (it currently has a Republican governor, and for a long time its other, non-Sanders senator was a Republican).

Yet Sanders’ rhetoric has managed to successfully sell himself to many who don’t generally identify as leftists. Plus Sanders’ own experience selling himself to such voters would have led him to campaign seriously in swing states and normally Republican-leaning areas that Hillary Clinton decided weren’t worth wasting her time on. That in turn would have stopped certain key states from swinging to Trump.

One of the biggest errors politically moderate pundits make is assuming that because they, personally, happen to be highly ideological people, everyone else is, too. (Adhering to political moderation is as ideological a behavior as is adhering to any other political ideology.)

I do not believe the describes most swing voters, who are what I call “non-ideological pragmatists.” They’re not tightly committed to the left, right, or the center; they’re more focused on individual candidates and their messages than they are on any ideology. If a candidate does a good, convincing job of explaining him or herself, these pragmatists tend to be seriously willing to give him or her a try. It’s a huge part of the reason Ronald Reagan (who wasn’t labeled “The Great Communicator” for nothing) was so successful.

Bernie Sanders is another of those great communicators and as a such would have had a real chance, particularly when you figure in the high negatives of his opponent.

An Election with Real Consequences

Published at 20:10 on 12 December 2017

I think Jones’ victory in Alabama will prove to be as described in the subject in this post. Presidents are term-limited, so even if he weren’t historically unpopular, Trump’s days would be numbered compared to Representatives and Senators (who can serve for decades).

The Jones victory shows that Trumpism is having increasing difficulty attracting popular support. Republicans who want to serve the long careers in Congress they envisioned are now on notice that their own self-interest may well be better served by taking a political stance that’s independent of the White House.

At the very least, the influence of fascists like Steve Bannon over the the Republicans just suffered a big setback tonight.

World Pixels: The Best Map Tiles Technique

Published at 17:52 on 3 December 2017

If you go to the Open Street Map Wiki, you can find pages like this one giving helpful information about how map tiles work, and how tiles map to latitude and longitude.

But you don’t see any mention of a technique I call world pixels, an idea that woke me from a dream last night and which implementing put an end to countless headaches in getting map bounds just right.

Consider the following facts:

  • Zoom levels run from 0 through 18.
  • Each zoom level, Z, has 2Z tiles in each direction.
  • Each tile has 256 (28) pixels in each direction.
  • 18 + 8 = 26.
  • 26 ≤ 32.

Therefore, at all zoom levels, it is possible to code the (x, y) coordinates of all pixels in all tiles with two globally unique 32-bit integers. Put the tile pixel dimensions in the 8 least significant bits and the tile numbers in the next 18 most significant bits. Translate your lat/long coordinates to world pixels as early as possible in the process, and all your math then becomes integer math, which runs faster and is free from rounding errors.

Better yet, it makes zooming a breeze. Want to zoom in? Shift left; the most significant bit of the tile pixel number will become the least significant bit of the tile number. Likewise, want to zoom out? Shift right.

Simplicity itself; both easier to understand and it offers faster execution times and it produces more accurate results.