Thursday, June 30, 2016

A package deal (Day 7)

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Early morning from the balcony of my hotel room
This morning we boarded our bus and rode to Matanzas, a small city a little ways in the direction of Havana. Our itinerary was the Pharmacy Museum, and Ediciones Vigía, an outfit that creates hand-made books.

Slogans found today:

“Socialism is the only way to continue being free and independent.”

“The victorious revolution continues forward.”

On the way, Jesús gave a condensed version of how the embargo developed over a few months, involving an Esso refinery that was nationalized because it wouldn’t refine Soviet oil.

In Matanzas, the Pharmacy Museum turned out to be closed, so we headed off toward Ediciones Vigía, but en route we stumbled upon an art gallery / workshop the Jesús hadn’t known about, a joint venture of several artists.
This peculiar fellow greets you just inside the door.
Artists seem to have “themes” that they work in multiple variations. In Trinidad there was a woman who crafted coffee pots that were women. In this gallery in Matanzas, there’s someone who does heads in clamps.
There are many variations on this theme.
Photo: Pawsansoe Bree

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome, imperialist pigs! (Day 6)

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Today we made our way from Cayo Santa Maria and its fabulous beach via Caibarién, where we visited a former sugar mill turned into a museum, then Remedios, where we learned about their festival of Las Parrandas, and finally on to Varadero, where we will spend three nights.
We traveled the red line from east to west.
Before leaving the resort at Cayo Santa Maria, I took a stroll around the grounds. It’s a nice place, fancier than the “all inclusive” place we stayed outside Cienfuegos, but probably not the top of the line. It has characteristic bits of not quite getting it right: the sloppy grouting in the bathtub, the light fixture along a path, just left off of its base, as if a repair was begun and then just never quite finished, the dry pools around the restaurants.
A nice place, just a little rough in some spots
There’s a “Ciber Café.” Or at least, that’s what it says above the door.
This is not a cyber café

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Electoral fraud?

Some supporters of Bernie Sanders are circulating this paper from two Stanford students as proof that the Clinton camp committed electoral fraud. It's an interesting piece of work, but a weak reed for the claims surrounding it.
One of the key arguments is that states differ in whether they have a paper trail for their electronic voting or not, and that Sanders did much better in the states that have the trail, where fraud is presumably harder to commit.
The basic issue is whether there are other explanations for the discrepancy they found, and whether they adequately investigated them.
The initial numbers look undeniably bad. Sanders won only 35% in states without a paper trail, but 51% in states with a trail. If the 51% is the more accurate number, because it’s insulated from fraud, then the implication is that Sanders would have won in a fair election.
The first obvious question is whether states differed in some other way besides paper or no-paper. The authors are aware of that, and after presenting the raw 51% vs. 35% figure, they do a regression where they can at least in part control for those other factors.

The two variables that they add, besides paper vs. no-paper, are:
  1. Percent of non-Hispanic whites in a given state
  2. The “blueness” of the state (its history of voting for Democrats rather than Republicans in presidential elections since 1992).
These are both reasonable first efforts. Much was made of Clinton’s “firewall” among people of color, and Sanders’ better performance among whites, so the first control variable is getting at something real. The two candidates also differed in their appeal to long-time party regulars vs. people who don’t necessarily identify as Democrats. I don’t know how much the exit polling bears this out, but commentary suggested that Sanders appealed both to people who were critical of Clinton from the left, and to some whose sense of the system being rigged left them open either to Sanders or to Trump. So it makes sense to have some sort of variable for the party identification of a given state.
But there are problems with both of the variables they chose, and the clearer problem is with the race variable.