Square Root Day

March 3, 2009

For any of our readers who haven’t looked too closely at their calendars today, I feel it is my duty to point out that today is a very important Geek Holiday: Square Root Day.

This is, of course, a rare and precious holiday. The last one was 5 years ago, and the next one will not be for another 7 years. Feel free to share in the comments how you celebrated/plan to celebrate.

The Important Role of Subtlety in Outright Fraud

December 7, 2007

A huge quantity of hot air has been expended arguing the details of the most recent Russian elections process. A host of groups, notably including several European elections monitoring groups, have reported widespread irregularities in the elections process and have called for investigations. The Russian elections board, for their own part, has ruled that any irregularities were minor and were neither severe or wide-spread enough to call into question the outcome of the election.

Any number of people could continue to argue this issue until they were quite blue in the face. Sometimes, though, all it really takes is a picture. It’s just a simple graph, showing the relationship between the number of people who voted in the Russian election (the reported percentage of voters who participated in each jurisdiction) with the party their vote favored (the reported percentage of voters who cast their ballot for each party in the jurisdiction).

Although the graph doesn’t reveal any great insights into the mechanics, it does serve as a compelling argument for the validity of claims that there were huge irregularities in the election. This distribution of data does not represent a fair and free election. Even worse, in my mind, is that it seems to show a situation in which the people perpetrating the fraud couldn’t even be bothered to hide it.

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