California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger removes red tape showing how legislative districts can divide neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Were he around today, Elbridge Gerry would no doubt complain that history has sullied his name. Following the 1810 census, Gerry, as governor of Massachusetts, signed off on a redistricting map including one district that looked to a newspaper editor like a salamander. The paper called it a "gerrymander," and the name stuck. But the district in question was far less sinuous and stretched than the districting modifications we routinely see today, two centuries later. The increasing sophistication of mapping software and the copious amounts of data available on all of us have made it possible to draw maps with extraordinary precision, down to the household.
According to Agence France-Presse, the Saudi government is almost ready to unveil a really, really big clock, in the hopes that "Mecca Time" will replace Greenwich Mean Time as the standard by which the world sets its clocks. Hard to see that happening, but what's for sure is that this is one spectacular clock. Not only are the faces 151 feet across, it will be housed in a tower that will become the world's second-tallest building when completed. And they are not kidding around when it comes to bringing the bling:
Today's New York Times featured a profile of Congressman Paul Ryan, in which the author, Matt Bai, dismissed questions about the substance of Ryan's vaunted budget road map, saying, "The more pertinent question is whether Mr. Ryan is the kind of guy who just wants to make a point — or whether his road map represents the starting point in what could be a serious negotiation about entitlements and spending." Paul Krugman, who has been extremely critical of Ryan's plan, gets frustrated:
Ben Smithwonders whether President Obama will see what a "teachable moment" the controversy over the Islamic center near Ground Zero is and weigh in with a characteristically sensitive and insightful speech or something. "He can understand the pain and anger of both sides, offer something that sounds like a synthesis but winds up roughly where Mike Bloomberg stands." Yeah, that'd be nice. But the thing about teachable moments is that people need to be willing to learn. This episode has reminded us (not that we needed a reminder) that Americans' commitment to American values is, on the whole, pretty thin.