Archive for Alabama

distracting redistricting?

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2021 by xi'an

“We at FiveThirtyEight will be tracking the whole redistricting process, from proposed maps to final maps, so watch this space for updates!”

FiveThirtyEight is keeping a tracker on the “redistricting” of U.S. states, namely the decennial redrawing of electoral districts. This is still an early stage when no map has been validated by the state legislature and hence I cannot tell whether or not FiveThirtyEight will be analysing gerrymandering in a statistical manner, to figure out how extreme the map is within the collection of all electoral maps. The States being the States, the rules vary widely between them, from the legislators themselves setting the boundaries (while sometimes being very open on their intentions to favour their own side) to independent commissions being in charge. I did not spot any clear involvement of statisticians in the process.

“The application of differential privacy will bring significant harm to Alabama (…) The Census Bureau has not shown that other disclosure avoidance methods
would not satisfy the privacy requirements
” Case No. 3:21-cv-00211

While looking at this highly informative webpage maintained by University of Colorado Law School Doug Spencer, I came across this federal court challenge by the State of Alabama again the Census Bureau for using differential privacy! A statistical version of “shoot the messenger”?! The legal argument of the State is “the Fifth Amendment, alleging that differential privacy is a violation of the one-person, one-vote principle and will result in the dilution of their votes.” I however wonder what is the genuine (political) reason for this challenge!

a weird version of secularism

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2018 by xi'an

prison non-sense

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , on September 20, 2015 by xi'an

“The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the state’s chemical endangerment statute, which was written in part to stop people from bringing children to places like methamphetamine labs, applies to foetuses.”

A few weeks ago I read in the New York Times the case of a woman who was sent to jail for taking drugs while pregnant and then almost barred from her parental rights when she tried to undergo an abortion. And I found this story quite shocking at many levels. First, while I see very little rationale in sending people to prison, this is certainly one of the most absurd jail sentences I heard of (if I understand correctly the story). There is no real debate to have about the fact that exposing a foetus to drugs (incl. alcohol) is running a terrible risk about the health and prospects of the future baby, however once this exposure had occurred, I see no point in a jail punishment, from both mother and future child perspectives. The prison deterrent was clearly not strong enough to prevent the woman from taking drugs during pregnancy.

“…a legal clash had seen the woman go to federal court to assert her right to an abortion, and the county’s district attorney go to an Alabama court to strip the woman of her parental rights over the foetus to block the abortion.”

The second shocking feature in this sad story is the attempt by both jail authorities and the local justice to bar the woman from having an abortion, which would seem to me like the most reasonable course of action given the terrible odds on the physical and mental prospects of the future baby. Which means that those people were taking over this woman’s body and claiming authority over a not-yet-born baby. Given the immense regression in abortion rights across America, this is not highly surprising, alas, but it remains a shock in seeing the denial of this woman’s rights over her body so clearly stated. The third shocking fact in this case is that it did not go to court as “the woman said she had changed her mind and would carry the child.” It is of course her right to change her mind, but I also find it hard to believe she had reached this decision on her own, with no pressure from the prison authorities. And equally shocking the absence of concern throughout about the future of this prospective baby…


Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , on January 23, 2010 by xi'an

The other day, I bought Neil Young’s Harvest as it was on sale  for a ridiculous price. This album was one of my favourites in high school (!) but I hadn’t listened to it for ages. Alabama‘s magic hasn’t faded a bit!

%d bloggers like this: