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Vote beyond the least of two evils

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Election party primaries exist as a way for the members of a party to change candidates should they feel that the incumbent isn’t doing a proper job of representing their constituents. In reality, this doesn’t really happen. A tough primary causes party divisions and can be quite distractive. So politicians avoid them as much as possible. The result, is that we the people, may not like the candidate for our party, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We feel trapped, because even though we don’t like our preferred parties candidate we certainly don’t want to vote for the opposing party even more.
So let’s empower the voting public. Change our election laws so that no party (even incumbents) can be on the ballot with just one candidate. Each party needs two candidates. This will allow voters to keep the party they prefer, while allowing them to punish an incumbent.
The winner of such an election would be the winner of the party that won. So if Party A had candidate 1 get 30% and candidate 2 get 25%, while Party B gets %40 and 5% respectively; the winner would be Party A candidate 1. The reason is because that candidate is the winner of the party that won.
If a party can’t get two people to be on the ballot, the party doesn’t get on the ballot.
The only people who wouldn’t like this would be existing incumbents who don’t. Want to be challenged. This would be more effective than term limits on legislatures.

Categories: News and politics

NBC does not like cable cutters

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I am a cable cutter. A cable cutter is someone who doesn’t pay for cable for their entertainment. My family gets more than enough entertainment by recording Over the Air TV shows on our Windows Media Center, or streaming shows from Netflix, Vudu or other websites. There’s no need to pay for cable. Earlier this week (before the London Olympics started) I saw that www.nbcolympics.com would stream every Olympic event live. This is wonderful! Traditionally watching the Olympics on TV means that there are lots of commercials, there isn’t time to view every event, and most of the time is taken up by human interest stories (ech!). I was worried that they were going to stream only live events, but when I went there today I saw that they had links to play back the full events whenever. Finally, I could watch the Olympics without the human interest stories, and see events that I rarely get to see.

When I tried to actually watch an event (mens archery US vs Mexico) I ran into a snag. To watch video on www.nbcolympics.com you have to sign in using your cable providers credentials. In other words, if you’re someone who doesn’t pay for cable, you don’t get to stream the Olympic events online. Cable cutting defeated!

Of course there’s bound to be some way to illegally view the events online, but I’m not one who does that. While I do wish the copyright/IP laws where changed, I’ll upload and respect the current laws.

We are recording all OTA instance of the London 2012 Olympics, so we’ll get to watch whatever we want to from that selection. It won’t be everything, but at least we’ll be able to skip the human interest stories. NBC would have probably gotten me to view more ads with legal online streaming, than they are by having me skip over commercials in Windows Media Center.

Vigilante parking justice

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I realize that police don’t have the resources to patrol every parking lot, but sometimes I wish they did. It really bothers me to see really bad parking jobs. Especially where the car is so far over the line that no one can take the spot next to them. It’s an inefficient waste of space. So, how can we use societal forces to encourage better parking? I propose that the different counties in the US setup data stores for pictures of bad parking jobs. Many people carry devices which have cameras that store location data into the meta data of the picture. We can use these devices to reasonably report bad parking jobs.

The idea is that you see a bad parking job, take a picture and submit it to the county. The picture must show the license plate, the parking violation, the time the picture was taken, and the location of the picture. Of course it would be rather heavy handed if a single picture resulted in a fine, but an accumulation of pictures should. If enough pictures came in for a particular license plate the local municipality would have the right to ticket the owner of the car. Say, perhaps twelve within a years period. Giving citizens the power to report violations like this will create a not unhealthy outlet for their frustration of not getting an open parking space, and it would encourage people to properly park in their space. Societal harmony achieved at last.

I voted in my caucus

March 3, 2012 Leave a comment

I voted in my King county Washington state Republican caucus today (3 Mar 12). It was a small intimate affair, a little too small in my opinion. There were only two people who wanted to be delegates, so why it took so long to make sure that everyone was okay with everyone being okay with that, I don’t know, but it was still fun to be part of the process. The people we voted for will go to the district and then at the district caucus, those who make delegates there will go on to the state caucus. So no candidate won delegates today, but Washington states straw poll is the last one taken before Super Tuesday. I’m glad I live in a democracy.

Categories: News and politics

Fox News will have an identity crises should Romney win the nomination

February 8, 2012 2 comments

I get most of my news from NPR or CNet. Occasionally I’ll surf to other websites for news should something big have happened I’m curious to see how different sources report it. Something which I’ve noticed recently in the 2012 Republican presidential candidate race is that Fox news doesn’t what to acknowledge that Mitt Romney is running. On the morning after a primary/caucus I’ll check out the different news websites and they all are headlining the same thing, except for Fox news. If Romney won the primary there won’t be a single story on the main Fox news page about the primary. All of the other news websites in the world will be headlining the primary results and Fox figures that no news is good news. Should Romney not win the poll/primary/caucus Fox news will make sure that you know that the latest result is the most important thing ever. Today, the morning after Rick Santorum won three non-delegate primaries/caucuses, Fox news has it headlined with multiple stories repeating about how great and wonderful this is. Given how anti-Obama Fox news is I wouldn’t be surprised if they effectively didn’t cover the Presidential election at all, should Gov. Romney win the 2012 Republican nomination. They’ll be too busy having an identity crises.

Categories: News and politics

Getting some of the bandwagon out of politics

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I like living in a democratically elected republic, it does give one a sense of living in a place where the most possible amount of people feel like they’re getting a fair deal. The elementary idea behind elections are simple, a voter looks at the possible choices of candidates and selects the one that they like the most. I heard a story on NPR the other day which disheartened my faith in our system. In the story a random Iowan named Sharon Layman mentioned how she wasn’t going to vote for Michelle Bachman because she wasn’t doing better in the polls. To me, that’s a horrible reason to not vote for someone, it defeats the idea of picking who you want. But so many people rely on the polls “informing” them as to who the good pick is.

It made me think back to my proposal on how to change elections and I think that if we did change our elections to this model, it would reduce this bandwagon effect. Many people don’t want to vote for the loser; or at least they want to vote for someone who is going to get a large percentage of the vote, because they don’t want to feel like they threw their vote away. Part of the reason for this feeling is that many of the elections in the US are winner takes all. So if there are three candidates all a candidate needs is 34% of the vote to win. They pretty much just need a rounding error. This is why the American political system evolved into a two-party system. Most people would rather go with the person they kind of like, rather than risking voting the person they really like, if it means that the person they really don’t like will then win.

My proposal for voting for what we want doesn’t work for picking candidates within the party. For that, I think that there needs to be two major changes to the current system. First, the vote for each state should be changed to Preferential voting. The results will still be interesting because you can figure out an actual winner, and pundints can figure out how the different candidates looked from the initial cast. Second, the order in which the different states vote should be random for each election cycle. Many people want all of the states to vote at once, but the idea behind why it’s not that way is that a not-well-funded candidate has a chance of competing if they only have to focus on one state at a time, and can build a grass-roots effort. Plus you would get more people feeling like they might have thrown their vote away. I like the possiblity of a politian building up a grass-roots effort, so a handful of states get to vote first, but it should stop being Iowa and New Hampshire every time. I can’t think of a reason to not make the order of the states chosen random.

So there we go, my initial proposal had an additional benefit of watering down the bandwagon affect, and will still result in our representatives representing closer to what we the people want. Sadly many people wouldn’t know what to do without having poll numbers to tell them what to think. It’s like how you look at a tabloid cover and wonder who that “celebrity” is; and it turns out to be someone who’s a celebrity because they’re famous and they became famous for being a celebrity. It makes no sense, but it does sell tabloids. Please, let’s stop this current madness.

Common Sense is dying

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently finished reading “The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America” and I found it to be very persuasive. Most publishings on what’s wrong with the current governmental system either discuss the need for more laws, or that the situation used to be better, but they don’t quite know why. Phillip K. Howard does an excellent job of magnifying inefficiencies in todays government (even though to book is more than a decade old) and their root cause. He is able to explain how we got into this mess. Plus I was never able to conclude what the authors political bias might be. He points out many short comings of the American Disabilities Act, fights against litigious happy citizens with an over inflated sense of entitlement, and yet highlights how FDR’s New Deal was a good thing. Pundits of both sides of the aisle have problems with that. So I find the book to be a useful read regardless of political persuasion; it is insightful.

The essence of the book is that during the 1960’s the legal system felt that if laws could be made specific enough, no government employee could possibly do anything unfair. So if there was a problem in the current regulations, the answer would be for a committee to come up with more rules. The result is that no bureaucrat can be held responsible for their actions, because they were just following the rules. The consequence of this attitude is that it created a culture of non-thinking bureaucrats who value the law higher than the intention of the law. It reminded of me a coworker who talked about previous teams where the attitude from day 1 was for everyone on the project to figure out how they wouldn’t be the scapegoat for when something inevitably went wrong. No one will stand up for doing to right or reasonable thing.

The book pushes forward the idea that the humans in government aren’t perfect, so we should stop holding them up to a standard which demands perfect adherence to a gargantuan amount of laws. In many situations common sense can come to an efficient solution which will reasonably satisfy the interested parties. The sense of despair the reader is left with is that if the findings in the book were to be a championed by the people, the demand for lawyers would decrease dramatically; and I have a sneaking feeling that the representatives of “us the people” don’t want that.

Categories: News and politics