Thursday, April 26, 2012

Democracy in Michigan at the Point of Extinction

A word about font size. Check out the fonts above. The first character is called Arial Narrow. The second is called PMingLiU and the third is called Angsana New. The important thing to know about these three font characters is that they are all 14 points in fonts size.  Font size is relatively relative these days.  It can depend on the type of font used, the printer that prints it or the software in use.  The reason this is important here is that democracy in Michigan is literally loosing by a point, a font point (see the Huffington Post article below).  Anyone old enough to remember the antics of the former Soviet Union will easily recognize what's going on in Michigan.  But before you read the article below, here is what Wikipedia has to say about font size:  

Traditional American point system

By the (Kasson) Metric Act of 1866 (Public Law 39-183), the US (survey) foot is 12003937 m. This is 0.0002% more than 304.8 mm, which is the length of the 1959 foot, used below. A typographic foot contains 72 picas or 864 points.
  • Nelson C. Hawks, in 1879, used a printer’s foot of a statute foot decreased by 0.375%. Therefore, the traditional ratio 72007227 (which reduces to 800803) places Hawks’ point at 0.013 837 inch, or about 0.35146 mm.
  • A second definition was proposed whereby there were exactly 996 printer’s points (= 83 picas) in 350 mm, which made the printer’s point about 0.013 848 867 inch ≈0.351405622 mm.
  • Finally, Lawrence Johnson stated in a third definition of printer’s foot that it should be 249250 (99.6%) English foot. This means that the Johnson’s typographical point was 0.01383inch, and was then converted by the 1959 value to 0.35136 mm.
In 1886, the Fifteenth Meeting of the Type Founders Association of the United States approved the so-called Johnson pica be adopted as the official standard. This makes the traditional American printer’s foot measure 11.952 inches (303.6 mm), or 303.5808 mm exactly, giving a point size of approximately 172.27 of an inch, or 0.3515 mm.
This is the size of the point in the TeX computer typesetting system by Donald Knuth, which predates PostScript slightly. Thus the latter unit is sometimes called the TeX point.
Like the French Didot point, the traditional American printer’s point was replaced in the 1980s by the current computer-based DTP point system.

[edit]Current DTP point system

The desktop publishing point (DTP point) is defined as 1/72 of the Anglo-Saxon compromise inch of 1959 (25.4 mm) which makes it 0.0138 inch or 0.3527 mm. Twelve points make up a pica, and six picas make an inch.
This system was notably chosen by John Warnock and Charles Geschke when they created Adobe PostScript, by Apple as the screen resolution for the original Macintosh, and for theLaserWriter that launched the desktop publishing industry.[1][2] Therefore, the DTP point is sometimes called the PostScript point.

Post Script:  Do you get my point?

Michigan Emergency Manager Law Referendum Petitions Not Certified

The Huffington Post | By Simone Landon 
Posted: 04/26/2012 11:54 am Updated: 04/26/2012 1:17 pm

Michigan's Board of Canvassers deadlocked on a vote Thursday and failed to certify more than 200,000 signatures seeking a referendum on the state's emergency manager law, Public Act 4.

Despite a recommendation from Bureau of Elections staff that the board certify the petitions, Republicans on the board supported a challenge seeking to disqualify them over one section's font size. The board's two Democrats said the petitions should be certified.

The petitions seek to place a referendum on Public Act 4 on the state ballot in November. The effort's sponsors, a coalition called Stand Up For Democracy, hope voters will overturn the law, which allows state-appointed emergency managerssignificant power over financially distressed local municipalities and school districts.

If the referendum push succeeds, the current law would be suspended until the November vote. Michigan has emergency managers in four cities and three school districts, and the law informs provisions of a recent financial consent agreement between the state and the city of Detroit.

The state Bureau of Elections found the petition included 203,238 signatures, 40,000 more than the number needed to place the question on the November ballot.

But the conservative group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility challenged the petitions' validity, claiming the typeface used in their headings was too small.

A memo from Christopher M. Thomas, the secretary of the Board of State Canvassers, noted the previous challenges to type size and formatting of petitions had been unsuccessful if the substance of the petitions and the number of valid signatures was clear. Thomas found only one example of a successful challenge to a petition based on font size. "The applicable legal standard by which this petition should be measured is one of substantial compliance," he wrote.

But the board's Republicans chose to take a strict interpretation of the type face code. According to the Detroit News, Board of Canvassers member Jeffrey Timmer works for the political consulting firm that pushed the font-size challenge.

Another board member, Julie Matuzak, a Democrat, works for one of the unions participating in the petition drive, the News also reports.

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