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.


The Deadliest Garden In The World


Inside the Gardens at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, U.K. you find the famous Poison Garden. A garden plot containing around 100 different plants that can kill a man in just as many ways. From deadly Golden Bells to Hemlock, the only way a plant is allowed to grow in this garden is if it is lethal to humans.

In this video from Great Big Story we are introduced to Trevor Jones, the head gardener. Clad in a protective suit, Jones explains the cautious steps taken in order to safely maintain the garden. Surprisingly most of the plants are very common and known as cottage garden plants – they’re grown in many people’s gardens, but people don’t know how harmful they actually are.

Mullen Animation

Rodney Mullen Rides Again

After 12 years, skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen is back on deck with a new video called “Liminal“. Since his last showing in 2004’s “Almost: Round Three”, Rodney had suffered an injury-related fusion of his femur and hip bone. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Mullen explains:

After much deliberation, with doctors doubtful of my recovery, I engaged in medieval ways to break apart the bone fusion – hammering the end of screwdrivers into my flesh, climbing into the wheel well of my car to apply leverage while pulling on the car’s frame. After thousands of hours, over years of doing this, I began breaking those dried-gum-like strands of fascia. I would often become overwhelmed, screaming violently in pain, panic-stricken that I was doing more damage than good and I would never be able to skate again. Until one night, hanging from my car, I heard a thump. And when I got up, I realized that I had broken the calcification and my hip-joint was mobile again.

What makes this all more amazing is that since his hip-popping breakthrough in 2010, Rodney Mullen has had to relearn to skateboard with his opposite foot forward. This was not simply to learn how to skate switch, which is common. To skate without re-injuring his hip, it was crucial that he once again train his body the tricks he came up with more than three decades ago, as well as any new ones, with his right foot forward. Mullen has reversed his native stance and is now more adept at skating with his right foot forward as he was with his left. He has found bona fide goofy-footedness – an idea he calls stancelessness.

Mullen Animation

Rodney says of the Front-Rail To 360º-Shove-It To Back-Rail (Performed above and at the 2:27 mark in the new film).

“This trick has never been seen or done, as far as I know. It is rooted in an obscure freestyle trick dating back 30 years. However, it was only done landing on all four wheels. This rail-to-rail version requires another level of power and control. On top of that, to do it on a modern (bigger) board, and landing on axles, is so daunting that I had never done it until now. It was particularly inspired by the camera action, because of how beautiful it would look: a rotary motion in a rotary system.”

More detailed descriptions of Rodney’s tricks, and the technology used to create the film, can be found on the film maker Steven Sebring’s website.


Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains — Thomas Carlyle.

John Oliver Forgives Nearly $15 Million In Medical Debt


John Oliver incorporated the Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP, named for the bottom-feeders) debt collection firm for $50 and purchased $60,000 in medical debt. He then promptly forgave the debt allowing 9,000 people to walk away from nearly $15 Million in zombie medical debt. Debt collection is a grimy and under-regulated business and John Oliver does a great job of lambasting their predatory practices.

It should be noted that back in 2012, Occupy Wall Street did a similar thing called a Rolling Jubilee