Because I’m sure I’ll need to reference this at some point in the future…
Duverger’s Law is a principle which asserts that a first-past-the-post election system naturally leads to a two-party system. The discovery of this principle is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists soon began calling the effect a “law.”
Some researchers and mathematicians have devised alternative voting systems which do not appear to be subject to the apparent drawbacks of first-past-the-post, though many would argue that a two-party outcome—all things considered—is a benefit to society. A frequent consequence of Duverger’s law is the spoiler effect, where a third-party candidate takes votes away from one of the two leading candiates.
This is from a speech Robert Heinlein gave in 1973 to the United States Naval Academy. I’ve picked it up where he gets to the heart of the subject he wanted to impress upon the midshipmen; the fundamentals of morality and why patriotism is a practical matter of survival.
…why would anyone want to become a naval officer?
In the present dismal state of our culture there is little prestige attached to serving your country; recent public opinion polls place military service far down the list.
It can’t be the pay. No one gets rich on the pay. Even a 4-star admiral is paid much less than top executives in other lines. As for lower ranks the typical naval officer finds himself throughout his career just catching up from the unexpected expenses connected with the last change of duty when another change of duty causes a new financial crisis. Then, when he is about fifty, he is passed over and retires. . .but he can’t really retire because he has two kids in college and one still to go. So he has to find a job. . .and discovers that jobs for men his age are scarce and usually don’t pay well.
Working conditions? You’ll spend half your life away from your family. Your working hours? “Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh day the same, and pound the cable.” A forty-hour week is standard for civilians — but not for naval officers. You’ll work that forty-hour week but that’s just a starter. You’ll stand a night watch as well, and duty weekends. Then with every increase in grade your hours get longer — until at last you get a ship of your own and no longer stand watches. Instead you are on duty twenty-four hours a day. . .and you’ll sign your night order book with: “In case of doubt, do not hesitate to call me.”
I don’t know the average week’s work for a naval officer but it’s closer to sixty than to forty. I’m speaking of peacetime, of course. Under war conditions it is whatever hours are necessary — and sleep you grab when you can. Read the rest of this entry »
I’d been meaning to use this blog as a repository of comments I’ve made in discussions on various sites, blogs, social media, etc, for a while now. This one’s from Facebook.
In response to the idea that the Department of Defense, and the Department of Education should switch budgets:
Schools need to be a lot harder. Not everyone should graduate from high school, let alone go to college. It’s the dumbing down of the standards that’s hurting the country, not the lack of money.
The main problem with education in the US is the notion that everyone has an equal chance of being a lawyer or a surgeon, while the gas station attendant is just there because he failed to apply himself, or the system “left him behind”.
To revamp the education system, the first thing that needs to happen is extensive intelligence/ability testing starting every year from kindergarten, that is objective, thorough, and free of any possible cultural bias (to eliminate advantage of children born to highly educated parents).
This should be followed immediately by placing students on tracks that leverage their individual strengths while helping address their weaknesses and bring them up to a minimal level to function in all areas of their life as a competent adult.
We need more Shop classes, more Ag classes, more Vocational classes in general, for those who are better suited to manual labor. There is no shame in this, nor should there be any applied to a child who has the potential to help feed the rest of the country, but doesn’t have the potential to engineer the tractor he’ll be driving.
My great-grandparents were farmers; their farm, well at least their land, a hundred miles or so north of Kansas City, is still in use today. Of course, at one point after they passed on, it was apparently being used to grow marijuana. But I guess there’s worse things that could be done with it.
We should take a lesson from the Japanese about how it’s not so important what you’re doing for a living, as long as you’re doing it to the best of your ability; that’s where the honor and status in your life should come from.
Of course, you can’t buy the latest baubles, sports car, or McMasion to impress people, with status and honor. Our cultural values are, indeed, fucked up.
I know Failbook, and the rest of the “Cheez Burger Network”, is the taint of the Internet. But this is damn funny nonetheless.
…for some people, is both disturbing and depressing.
Journalists who have a bias in any direction of the political spectrum beyond “facts” should be dragged out of their houses by the people and shot.
The job of a Journalist is to inform the population; an essential component of any Republic that ensures its citizens can make smart decisions when casting ballots.
When Journalists take it upon themselves to slant an issue, insert their own commentary, or effect political change towards an agenda they personally support, they are violating their duties in the same way as a gynecologist who gets off on fondling your girlfriend during an exam.
In keeping with my use of this blog mainly as a coatrack for stuff I care about, this is just nifty:
Hrm, I don’t have a category for Economics, but I don’t really post much on it anyway.
Originally posted in this thread on Sociocide.
An old friend of mine is currently living in the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While keeping up with the goings-on in her life over there, I’ve gotten a clear sense that she’s growing progressively more frustrated with how things are done in a country run by a fundamentalist religion. I genuinely feel for her in that predicament.
Moral pantywaist apologists notwithstanding, I would hope most clear-headed people are aware of how culturally backwards things are in any country which allows itself to be governed by something as nebulous as faith, and ruled by something as archaic as a monarch.
But my contempt for that situation leads me down a path of thought that intersects with something else that I hold in great contempt; the fact that many (most?) people have a deep-seated need to subject themselves to some form of peonage, be it governmental, ideological, religious, or all three.
I get it, life is already hard enough as it is, and it’s extremely convenient to buy a pre-packaged set of morals, laws, or beliefs. It’s even more convenient when they’re either free, or in some cases, you’d have to literally fight not to accept them.
I’m also not putting myself above this either; I consider myself a patriot, a Skeptic, and a futurist, all labels that provide others a certain set of expectations as to my values and actions. However, when I do label myself, for the sake of convenience, I also make an effort to “hang a lamp” on the fact that it’s precisely the convenience factor that compels me to do so. Few people would actually care to know anyone’s entire set of values and convictions in casual conversation. So the act of labeling oneself is useful to allow others to get a sense of who you are at the ten-thousand-foot level.
But just because you stick a label on your forehead that reads “Libertarian”, that doesn’t require you to cast a straight-party ballot, any more than wearing Joe Snuffy’s name tag makes you Joe Snuffy. Too many people, however, do make this mistake and confuse their self-stuck labels with their core identity, instead of using them as tools for communication. And when this happens, you start down the road towards the dangerous kind of group-think that destroys individuality, an ultimately, individual sovereignty.
A label isn’t a brand; you should never be so attached to your convictions that you make them permanent, inescapable, and requiring vigilant devotion. By doing so you fail to allow yourself the opportunity to examine new evidence, consider new points of view, or ultimate, even think for yourself. You also put yourself in a position where you are obligated to defend views in the face of evidence that refutes them.
The reason this issue concerns me is because of a trend I think I see emerging. As religious faith in the western world is on the decline, it seems to be being replaced with a religious-like attachment to another ideology. This is most noticeable in the Skeptics movement, of which as I’ve referenced, I consider myself a part.
If you follow a lot of ”Skeptics” online discussions, you often get a sense of a “party line” to be followed, which is counter to the fundamental nature of “Skepticism” in the first place. And when you do run into this counter-intuitive phenomenon, it can be extremely frustration.
(For the record, I’m making this criticism as more of a “heads-up”, than an assault on the Skeptics movement, lest some of the conspiracy theorists, paranomalists, or garden-variety looneys try to reference this in an attempt at validating their nonsense.)
I think I owe anyone who reads this, examples of this happening. Unfortunately I’m pressed for time a bit on what should have been a short jotting of things bouncing around in my head at the moment. I’ll try to revisit that later, and include my observations about the subjects on which self-labeled Skeptics likely to suspend their critical thinking as well as the types of individuals who seem prone to doing so.
But the most important thing to take away from this is that, you are not your name tag, your labels, your government, or your religion. You are you, and when you chose to stop being you in exchange for falling in-line with a label, you renounce your individuality. A human being is not a hive insect; cultural, spiritual, and moral laziness should never be allowed to devolve him into one.