Voting Paradox

Around this time of the election cycle, we hear a lot about the importance of voting and how every vote counts. However, very little is said about the paradoxes that can make individual votes meaningless – especially with the introduction of a third party. The Exploratorium (A museum that I can’t wait to take my kids to) put together this excellent video that explores the paradox’s involved in voting.


It goes over ideas such as The Spoiler Effect (think Ralph Nader), Ranked Voting, Cyclic Preferences, Elimination Voting and Failure Of Moniticity.

The end of the video touches on Kenneth Arrow mathematically proving that no decision mechanism can eliminate all of these types of paradoxes. Basically, there is no method for constructing social preferences from arbitrary individual preferences without suffering from a known paradox. We can tamp down some paradoxes but only at the cost of creating others (or eliminating democracy altogether).

Wikipedia has an excellent table showing the voting system criteria used in each of the single-winner systems.

That all being said: Remember to go out and vote!

If You Want To Preserve Your Power Indefinitely…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of author, philosopher, and futurist Aldous Huxley. This fascinating, short video was made using audio from an interview by Mike Wallace on May 18, 1958 combined with the animations of Patrick Smith. In the video, Huxley foretells a future when presidential hopefuls use television to rise to power, drugs grab hold, technology takes over, and frightful dictatorships rule us all. On the day of this United State’s presidential debates and the eve of our election, this video seems particularly prescient. From Blank On Blank:

But what these people are doing, is to try to bypass the rational side of man and to appeal directly to these unconscious forces below the surfaces so that you are, in a way, making nonsense of the whole democratic procedure, which is based on conscious choice on rational ground.


Mirror Protest 2

Mirror Displacement Protest

Image via wsj.com

I like this idea of showing law enforcement personnel their reflections.

Protesters in Kiev, Ukraine spent 30 minutes holding up mirrors to militarized police lines in commemoration of when riot police used excessive force to breakup a peaceful rally in Independence Square on November 30th.

Protesters also held up signs saying “Who and what are you protecting?” and “God, is it really me?” The gesture was used to remind the police of their violent actions and force them to see themselves through the protesters eyes.
via Greg.org

Tweets From The 144 Republicans Who Voted To Send The U.S. Into Default

Earlier this week a vote was held in congress on HR 2775. This was a vote to reopen the federal government and temporarily raise the debt limit. Despite the dire consequences of this senate amendment not passing, there were 144 republican representatives who voted against it. Below is a twitter timeline of all those representatives.


It should be noted that representatives John Mica, Tom Petri, and Sam Graves are not included because they don’t have twitter accounts. Here is the complete list of republican representatives that voted to send the United States into default.

US Electoral Map

United States Of Electoral Votes

In an unearnest attempt to rethink the electoral college, Neil Freeman redrew the US into 50 new states with equal population. In an effort to reduce the disparity in size and influence of individual states in the current electoral college, Neil Freeman redefined geographical boundaries of all 50 states (and renamed them) so that they each contain a population of about of about 6,175,000. For example California is split into nine states while Colorado gets divided among Shiprock, Ogallala, and Salt Lake.

US Electoral Map

The map began with an algorithm that groups counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines.

Keep in mind that this is an art project, not a serious proposal, so take it easy with the emails about the sacred soil of Texas.

via kottke

Barack Goes Down?

In fairness, I suppose it is only appropriate that I also show the Facebook changes to the recent election winner and not just the loser.

Here’s a real-time look at the total number of likes on Barack Obama’s on Facebook. The number in parentheses at the end of each line is the difference since you first loaded the page (updated every 10 seconds). It tells quite a different story.
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Mitt Goes Down

It appears that since Mitt Romney’s was defeated in his bid for presidency his Facebook users no longer like him and are leaving in droves. According to Mashable, Mitt is losing an average of 847 Facebook friends per hour.

Here’s a real-time look at the total number of likes on Mitt Romney’s on Facebook. The number in parentheses at the end of each line is the difference since you first loaded the page (updated every 10 seconds). Mmm, sweet tasty schadenfreude!


[facebookbox url=”http://www.facebook.com/mittromney” height=”270″ showfaces=”true” stream=”false”]
If your curious you can see Barack Obama’s changes here. Code via Kent Brewster

Private Firefighting

Considering the United States is plagued with a privatized police force and military it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are private firefighters as well. Private firefighters were dispatched by insurance companies to protect select groups of homes in both the Boulder Fourmile Fire and the Colorado Springs Waldo Canyon Fire.

When firefighter Eric Morris shows up at wildfires across the West, locals battling the flames sometimes look at him and wonder who sent him.

The answer isn’t a public agency. It’s an insurance company.

Morris is among a group of private firefighters hired in recent years to protect homes with high-end insurance policies. In a wildfire season that is one of the busiest and most destructive ever to hit the region, authorities and residents say their help is welcome.

…For insurers, hiring them is worth the cost. They spend thousands on well-equipped, federally rated firefighters, potentially saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to replace a home and its contents.

The forest fires this summer in Colorado have been horrible. I’m happy that Private firefighters are able to benefit the insured by providing the extra manpower that lets public firefighters divert their attention elsewhere. It’s also nice to see that insurance companies are using a form of “preventative care” that benefits everyone. One can only hope this sort of thing may someday crossover into the healthcare industry.