Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dark Hole at the End of the Tunnel

I spoke with a good friend the other day who is finishing up his PhD who was telling me how frustrated he is in academia and how he wants out. After he mentioned it I thought of all the people I know who finished their PhDs (or got a good way through) and have not gone on to academics (though it was their initial intention). I count eight ten right now (an eleventh hated his discipline very much upon finishing, but has since found his place), although that includes one where industry provides him as many opportunities for research as does the academy, with better funding prospects.

I don't know that many people. Why is the academy so bad at hanging on to good people?

Clinton Legacy?

A simple question: If Hillary looses her bid for the Democratic nomination, why/how has Bill Clinton, the most successful (beloved?) Democratic president since JFK or possibly Truman/FDR, not been able to get either of his two surrogates in the Whitehouse?

I think the answer has something to do with America's political mind and our idea of the presidency. At its core, the position is not reserved for a policy wonk, but a leader. Neither Gore nor HRC have the charisma of Clinton42 and that is really what America responds to. (This is totally why I stopped wanting to be President in second grade and learned that I really wanted to be Secretary of State or a Sr. Advisor.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's not just assimilation

This Pew Research study of religions in America is getting good exposure. Haaretz broke down some interesting stats here. Here are some things I took away:

1. Only 1.7% of America is Jewish (Comparable to Mormons)
2. < 0.3% is Jewish Orthodox. So there are at most ~900,000 (age 18+) of "us" in this great country. Pew's methodology states that they conducted random telephone interviews. I would guess that the "ultra-orthodox" a) have cell phones and not land lines b) are less inclined to answer surveys in general, and may be unable to do so because of language barriers.
3. 72% of Jews (18+) have no children. 82% of Conservative Jews have no children, the highest of any religious group (compare that to 46% of Jews making $100,000+, the highest for any religious group). Even if we consider that the 18-30 demographic is not as likely to have children, that still leaves 57.6% of Jews 30+ and 64% of Conservative Jews with no children. As a further piece of datum that I do not know what to do with, 81% of Jews have been in a committed relationship at some point in their life. How much overlap there is between the remaining 19% and the 18-30 age demographic is unclear.

Let's do a sad back-of-the-envelope calculation. Let's assume that 55% of Jews marry non-Jews and of the 45% of remaining Jews 58% of them have no children. Let's also guess that the avg # of children for those that do decide to have children is 2 (which is about right). In that case, every 100 Jewish adults produces 19 Jewish children! That is a total low ball figure, as ~50% of those that inter-marry still produce halachikally Jewish children, but there is a rather high chance that they will not affiliate as well.

19 for every hundred is not replacement, no where close.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't Touch that Political Dial

So you think Hillary is done? Out? Kaput?
I crunched the numbers. Taking all the remaining elections I assumed:
Clinton wins TX, OH & PA 60/40 and wins PR 100/0 (Puerto Rico is winner take all)
Obama wins the remaining states 55/45
In such a case Clinton leads in the coming contests 589/489. Adding that to the total delegates currently projected by the NYT (982/1095 HRC/BHO) Clinton is only down by 13. Since thats really only -7 (because any delegate lost from Obama is a pickup for Clinton) she would only need a handful of upsets to best Obama at the pledged delegate game.

Far from over.

Update: I just put in the delegates awarded from WI & HI along with even poll numbers in TX and a closing 10 point spread in OH. Assuming a 50/50 split in TX and 45/55 split in OH for HRC we get:
1559/1657 HRC/BHO
Even including PR that is a 98 delegate lead for Obama. It's looking bleaker for HRC.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

That's Electability

I would be way more likely to vote for Hillary if she still looked like this: