URLs du Jour


  • And ours. Mr. Ramirez identifies The Root of Trump's Problems.

    [Rooty Toot Toot]

  • Which one is Scylla, and which one is Charybdis? Jacob Sullum notes our dilemma: Trump Disregards Democracy, While Biden Ignores Its Dangers.

    In his speech [Thursday] night about "the continued battle for the soul of the nation," President Joe Biden said some things that are indisputably true. He noted that democracy requires candidates to accept the results of "free and fair elections" and that refusing to do so threatens the rule of law as well as the peaceful transfer of power.

    Donald Trump and his followers have conspicuously failed that basic test. But Biden's emphasis on preserving democracy sets the bar for good government pretty low, eliding the tension between majority rule and individual freedom. And his related claim that Trump's refusal to concede electoral defeat amounts to an "extreme ideology" gives the former president, who is anything but a systematic thinker, too much credit.

    "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," Biden warns. But his response confuses means with ends, elevating democracy above the values it promotes when properly constrained.

    Jacob takes his readers through Limited Government 101. Lessons seemingly never learned or forgotten by today's politicians.

  • Lock him up? Damon Linker, far from a Trump fan, nevertheless presents The Case Against Prosecuting Donald Trump. It's a long and interesting article, and discusses many scenarios, all lousy. Skip to the bottom line:

    Donald Trump is at bottom a political problem. Which means he can’t be defeated in a courtroom. He needs to be taken down at the ballot box by such a wide and indisputable margin that it’s impossible to mistake him for anything other than a loser. If we can’t accomplish that, then the fact that he’s eluded conviction and a jail sentence will be the least of our problems.

    Speaking of Scylla/Charybdis, there are two factions who really want Trump to stay in the news:

    1. Trump and his fans.
    2. Democrats.

    The latter because keeping the focus on Trump makes it easier to distract voters from our actual problems.

  • Not Sarah Palin, I guess. Jim Geraghty, looking at the recent Alaska election, wonders Who Really Wins Under Ranked Choice Voting? And he explains it all for you:

    Under Alaska’s ranked-choice system, in each race, voters rank their choices in order of preference, and votes are counted in rounds. The Alaska Division of Elections counts all first choices. If a candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote in round one, that candidate wins and the counting stops. If not, counting goes to round two. The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated. If you voted for that candidate, your vote goes to your next choice, and you still have a say in who wins in the second round. Voters are allowed to rank as many or as few candidates as they like. If a voter skips a ranking, their next ranking moves up — in other words, not listing a second-place choice means your third-place choice is re-ranked as your second-place choice. But if you skip two or more rankings in a row, only the rankings before the skipped rankings will count.

    If a voter’s first-choice candidate was not eliminated in the first round, their vote stays with that candidate in the second round. Votes are counted again, and the third-place finisher is eliminated. This process continues until there are only two candidates left, and the candidate with the most votes in the final round wins.

    And then, if Jupiter is rising in Sagittarius, the second-place finisher has to make a saving throw against potions of elimination and then the third-place finisher has to beat the Wild Card candidate in a play-in round, in order to advance to the State Eastern Division playoffs, and then reduce their magic number to three, unless both candidates finish below 40 percent; in that case, all the candidates are entered into a blind-choice round-robin and the candidates compete in a potato-sack race on consecutive Sundays until a champion is crowned, just as in the Baseketball playoff system.

    Okay, I made up that last paragraph. […]

    A point I (and others) have made: the people who (1) have faith in the typical voter's ability to flawlessly fill in a two-dimensional RCV array of candidate/preference bubbles are the same people who (2) tell us that a significant fraction of voters can't get their act together to obtain a Voter ID card.

    I detect a convenient inconsistency there.

  • Laziness, maybe? Adam Thierer wonders: Why the Endless Techno-Apocalyptica in Modern Sci-Fi?.

    AI, machine learning, robotics and the power of computational science hold the potential to drive explosive economic growth and profoundly transform a diverse array of sectors, while providing humanity with countless technological improvements in medicine and healthcare, financial services, transportation, retail, agriculture, entertainment, energy, aviation, the automotive industry and many others. Indeed, these technologies are already deeply embedded in these and other industries and making a huge difference.

    But that progress could be slowed and in many cases even halted if public policy is shaped by a precautionary-principle-based mindset that imposes heavy-handed regulation based on hypothetical worst-case scenarios. Unfortunately, the persistent dystopianism found in science fiction portrayals of AI and robotics conditions the ground for public policy debates, while also directing attention away from some of the more real and immediate issues surrounding these technologies.

    Among "modern" sci-fi writers, my automatic reads are Neal Stephenson, Andy Weir, and… gee, that's about it. Both avoid cheap man-vs-machine dystopianism.

Last Modified 2024-01-30 7:22 AM EDT