Sunday, 11 November 2012

Meritocracy Versus Democracy
10 Nov 2012
An interesting piece by a good apologist for the Chinese system, one well-versed in English rhetoric.
 Of course the dichotomy is false: we both have meritocracies, merely selected by different folks on different criteria.  In China, bosses pick who was the best at running things while towing the party line.   
             In America, political activists pick who they think is best at winning elections.

Problems?  China will be run by the Peter-principled: a group of guys who were good at their last job.
                  America will be run by the slick and plausible fund-raisers

It may never happen, but hybridization would be fun to see: 
A China where the party puts up two and everyone votes on which.
   (including letting them turf out the incumbent)
An America where one must have been a state governor before running for president. 
   (Or where congressional candidates have to pass the civil service exam.)

The Elections, Gridlock and Foreign Policy 
 November 7, 2012 | 1000 GMT
I would add one impetus to America’s overseas strategy: since 9/11 it has been dictated not only by events, but by opinion polls.  Bush and Obama intervened where they thought public opinion wanted them to, and they did so with inadequate forces because they feared that public opinion would not go with them if they asked for enough manpower and money to do the job properly.

One of my friends thinks Boris Johnson (Tory clown and current Mayor of London) might not make such a bad Prime Minister for the UK because he is an idle sod, and nothing is better for the country than an idle politician.
 Still, I worry that the American impasse we have created (or maintained, if you will) could stuff us badly when strong action is really needed – e.g the approaching fiscal cliff.  It may be we will muddle through that as well, but perhaps at a cost higher than it would have been under decisive leadership.

Finally, I despair of any President or any American government coming up with a clear, well-thought-out strategy, given that they have only 2.5 to 3 years before the next election consumes all attention.   During the British Empire that Mr Friedman praises, governments came and went, but election campaigns were 60 days from start to finish and the sovereign remained the same.   That gave a chance for a longer view to form and prevail.


Victory of the Demagogue By Hyatt Seligman
American Thinker, 7 Nov 2012
"Kill your opponent by character assassination and promise freebies to your base."
That also sounds like a pretty good description of the Romney campaign against Obama. Both sides seem to concentrate less on what they stood for and more on who they were running against. Both sides promised freebees to their bases: federal spending programs for the Dumbocrats, tax cuts and defense spending for the Retroblicans.
If conservatives had taken 1/5th of the time, money and effort that was spent on demonising Obama and put it on getting the converted to the polls, the result would have been different.

George Entwistle Resigns As Director General Of The BBC

George Entwistle Resigns As Director General Of The BBC

Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 04:43:06 in UK

Well, of course he should. First, he stopped a programme based on no evidence from being aired. Then he allowed a programme based on no evidence to be aired. Worst of all, it turns out that he did not personally watch every hour of BBC-produced programming that was aired.
Remembrance Day 2012: Poppy Appeal 'Risks Glossing Over The Horrors Of War' Insists Ted Harrison

Remembrance Day 2012: Poppy Appeal 'Risks Glossing Over The Horrors Of War' Insists Ted Harrison

Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 04:39:48 in UK

There are 364 days in the year when we can talk about the evils and horrors of war. There is one day in the year when we remember the sacrifice of those who fought the wars on our behalf. Shut up, Ted, it's not about you.
Supreme Court Will Take New Look At Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Will Take New Look At Voting Rights Act

Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 06:25:09 in Politics

“"...the age of the information being used is less important than whether it helps identify jurisdictions with the worst discrimination problems." "By some measures, states covered by the law are outperforming some that are not."

On this logic, it seems that this law is rightfully on it's way out. The question is: should it be replaced with something else - and that is a matter for the legislature, not the courts.

The Republicans, under Bush, extended it for 25 years in 2006 - which indicates some bi-partisan support for legislation that prevents discriminating against any given group of voters.
David Petraeus Resigns As CIA Director, Citing Extramarital Affair

David Petraeus Resigns As CIA Director, Citing Extramarital Affair

Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 06:12:56 in Politics

“I can't understand what having an affair has to do with running the CIA - are we saying that he showed incompetence because he couldn't keep it a secret?

As the FBI was involved in spreading this, I suspect some internecine intelligence infighting is more behind this than any desire to take press heat off the Republicans.
Prince Harry Has Called Prince Charles Three Times From Afghanistan

Prince Harry Has Called Prince Charles Three Times From Afghanistan

Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 13:56:47 in UK

No, he hasn't forgotten. He is just tired of everyone else in Britain listening in.
huffingtonpost entry

Kill the Filibuster

Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 09:06:00 in Politics

“Wishful thinking Aaron. Not even American politicians are so short-sighted that they cannot see they may want the filibuster themselves in 4 years time.
'This Morning' Faces Investigation After Philip Schofield Gives 'Paedophile' List To David Cameron

'This Morning' Faces Investigation After Philip Schofield Gives 'Paedophile' List To David Cameron

Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 09:01:55 in UK

And when that inquiry is finished, there will be an inquiry into the inquiry
Ron Johnson Blames Obama's Victory On Ignorant Electorate

Ron Johnson Blames Obama's Victory On Ignorant Electorate

Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 01:59:05 in Politics

He is clearly right - if they voted him in, the electorate must be ignorant.
Democratic House Candidates Received More Votes Than Republicans

Democratic House Candidates Received More Votes Than Republicans

Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 01:54:01 in Politics

“It's partly gerrymandering and partly that folks LIKE a divided government:: if party hacks are busy trying to hurt each other, they sometimes forget to hurt us.
6 Reasons Why the 2012 Election Will Be Considered Historic

6 Reasons Why the 2012 Election Will Be Considered Historic

Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 15:58:14 in Politics

“7th Reason: because even the most trivial of events are now considered "historic" for a couple of days.”

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Major Republican Donors Face Billion Dollar Bust

Major Republican Donors Face Billion Dollar Bust

Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 02:38:53 in Politics

My first reactions was: $2 billion for a single election, what a waste. Think what that money could do if it were spent on something important.

On reflection, I took a market perspective: $1 billion spent on each campaign means that the buyers think it is worth that amount of money to have their guy win.    Seen that way, it is a rational investment: the $1 billion will come back 10-fold and more in tax money spent on the donors' favorite causes, whether that be tax cuts or increased federal funding. Best democracy money can buy.
Donald Trump Has Twitter Meltdown Over President Obama Victory (PICTURES)

Donald Trump Has Twitter Meltdown Over President Obama Victory (PICTURES)

Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 04:29:31 in UK Politics

If he were a patriotic American, he would support whoever was elected president of the United States. Only commie-pinko running-dog lackeys question the results of an American election.
Why the US Presidential Election Result Will Upset You - Whoever Wins

Why the US Presidential Election Result Will Upset You - Whoever Wins

Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 20:11:22 in UK Politics

And all of the campaign managers know this research well. They KNOW that negative campaigns damage and diminish America, but they just flat do not care how much damage they do to our country if it will improve their chance of their guy being elected.
US Election 2012: Ten Things That Won't Change No Matter Who Wins Tonight

US Election 2012: Ten Things That Won't Change No Matter Who Wins Tonight

Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 20:04:37 in UK Politics

Think of it as professional wrestling: no matter who wins, most of the money ends up in the same pockets.
US Election 2012: Is America Ready For First Mormon President?

US Election 2012: Is America Ready For First Mormon President?

Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 11:09:02 in UK Politics

Who cares what superstitions he holds? If he were a Pastafarian (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), maybe we would worry. But his belief structure as a Mormon is no stranger than those of christians, jews, muslims, hindi or any other mainstream superstition
Nadine Dorries Slammed For Decision To Appear On I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Nadine Dorries Slammed For Decision To Appear On I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 10:57:50 in UK Politics

“No! MPs should not be allowed to do things that other normal people do. They should not text with friends, lest those friends later be found guilty of something criminal or embarassing; they should not appear in reality shows, lest they expose themselves as just as selfish and silly as the rest of us; they should not pretend to be celebrities, lest we think them proud of getting elected. They should hunker down in their constituency office and in parliament and keep their mouths shut, lest we wonder why we elected them. How dare they not realise that, once elected, they should have no other life at all.
Obama, Romney Make Final Push For Votes On Day Before Election

Obama, Romney Make Final Push For Votes On Day Before Election

Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 17:30:00 in Politics

“I have yet to see a single roving reporter ask a potential - whether network, cable, Huffpo or Fox - ask a potential elector: "As a patriotic American, will you support WHOEVER is elected the President of the United States on Nov 6th?"

All media outlets seem more eager to fan the flames of conflict
Polls 2012: Barack Obama Leads Mitt Romney With One Day Remaining

Polls 2012: Barack Obama Leads Mitt Romney With One Day Remaining

Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 11:02:12 in Politics

“The problem with reading Huffpo and Fox is that one never knows how much is straight reporting and how much is wishful thinking.
Race to the Bottom

Race to the Bottom

Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 04:11:46 in Politics

“Where did they go? They were deliberately buried by the political pundits on both sides who know that negative attacks damage American by increasing anger, anomie and apathy - but as long as it helps win an election for their side, they do not care how much damage they do to our country.
Rupert Murdoch: Chris Christie Must 'Re-Declare' For Mitt Romney 'Or Take Blame'

Rupert Murdoch: Chris Christie Must 'Re-Declare' For Mitt Romney 'Or Take Blame'

Commented Nov 3, 2012 at 03:34:56 in Media

Better listen Christie, otherwise he'll have your telephones hacked
Denis MacShane Quits As MP Over 'Serious' Expenses Abuses

Denis MacShane Quits As MP Over 'Serious' Expenses Abuses

Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 13:25:11 in UK Politics

"MacShane's resignation will trigger a by-election in his South Yorkshire seat, which he won in 2010 with 44% of the vote"

Well, as less than half of the constituency wanted him, they probably won't miss him much.
Maths Actually Does Hurt Your Brain, University Of Chicago Scientists Find

Maths Actually Does Hurt Your Brain, University Of Chicago Scientists Find

Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 07:17:30 in UK Universities & Education

True (though the sample size is pretty small) and exercise makes your muscles hurt.  In both cases, the more one does it, the less it hurts as strength develops.
GCSE English Row: Ofqual Claims Exam System Being Abused By Teachers 'Under Pressure'

GCSE English Row: Ofqual Claims Exam System Being Abused By Teachers 'Under Pressure'

Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 06:09:09 in UK Universities & Education

"The majority of controlled assessment work was submitted in the summer, and examiners saw evidence of over-marking. As a result, grade boundaries were raised to take account of this, and led to some students getting lower grades than expected."

So because teachers cheated on their marking, the examiners counter-cheated?

PS: I would certainly hope any school that cannot get 40% of its students up to Average would be considered as failing. Such a school would certainly be failing in its duty to its students, and hence failing our society

Wednesday, 7 November 2012