Today’s post is all reference section. It is composed of three distinct areas of interest: Gerrymandering, Philip K. Dick, fiction writer, and successfully cloned monkeys.

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It is excellent news that Nate Silver, mariner’s preferred statistician and odds maker at, is sponsoring a detailed look at gerrymandering. His staff has launched a project called “The Gerrymandering Project.” It made its first splash today and is, in typical 538 style, loaded with insight and detail that is free of political nuance. For example, it states that there are many ways to skin a rabbit when it comes to new thoughts about how to fix gerrymandering. The ‘Project’ looks at six models:

To maximize the number of usually Democratic districts

To maximize the number of usually Republican districts

To make the partisan breakdown of states’ House seats proportional to the electorate

To promote highly competitive elections

To maximize the number of districts in which one minority group makes up the majority of the voting-age population in the district (what we’ll refer to as a majority-minority district)

To be compact while splitting as few counties as possible

If ever, ever, ever mariner wished his readers would click on a link, this is the one: . Load this website in your favorites.


Philip K. Dick

Our overall attitude about life is blended with many current events that defy definition. Philip Kindred Dick was an American science fiction writer who wrote during the psychological turmoil of the sixties – the Age of Aquarius. Dick explored philosophical, social, and political themes in his novels with plots dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His work reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences. Dick is chronicled in an article in the Boston Review, a literary magazine online and on Facebook. An excerpt is reproduced below:

“Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion. We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things. The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways.

Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites. Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure. Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots—automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities. Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s.”


China has cloned Long-Tailed Macaques – a fellow primate. Let’s jump right to hyper speed paranoia. Artificial Intelligence will control society; now, computers, if they need a human, can make their own! How long will it be before naturally bred Homo sapiens will be extinct? Get a job in 2085? Hah! The NFL needn’t worry about dementia; just clone another left tackle! will offer spouses made to order from a catalogue. Forget those antique mechanical Stepford Wives; get the real thing at Macy’s!

Like we don’t have enough change already.

The cloning is in the news right now. Most major newspapers cover the event. Try online at

Ancient Mariner


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