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Some links

05/11/2016
  1. Francis Fukuyama recommends the film Children of Men.
  2. Here’s the latest Adrian Wooldridge penned “Reluctant traveller” column. After a supposed “valet” relieves Mr Wooldridge of much of his packed clothing, he finds himself lacking in suitable business journalist attire and, in the heat of India, sweating rather more than usual. Typically witty.
  3. Just how politically polarised are ordinary Americans? Not very much says a Stanford professor who spoke to Vox. Here’s an extract: “The country is not full of partisan warriors. Most people are a mix of conservative and liberal positions with some sympathy for both sides of political debates. Moreover, they aren’t that involved in politics. They’re not going to move to Canada if their side loses, let alone want to kill people who disagree with them. What they mostly would like is for some party to come in and govern the country with some degree of success.” Read the whole thing.
  4. My friend Nicholas Ross Smith, an academic at Auckland University, writes that the reality of two historically unpopular candidates vying for the presidency of the United States is “an indictment of democracy in practice”. Of course American representative democracy, given the separation of powers between 3 branches of govt and the electoral college voting system*, deliberately imposes constraints on popular decision making. Nick makes an argument for the use of “sortition” as a means for collective decision making. Sortition is the choosing of political decision makers by lot (ie randomly).
  5. 61 British sentences that will confuse the *ahem* out of everyone. Here’s a couple of samples: “Anyway, it was lovely to meet you.” – Please go away now. “I’ll let you get on.” – Seriously mate, piss off.

*Addendum: The American system gets stranger and less purely democratic the more you learn about it. For instance I recently learned that if neither candidate achieves 270 electoral college votes then the decision is kicked down to the congressional house of representatives who vote on who will be president from the candidates who won the most electoral college votes.

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