virus: Attn: Long Post Pt. 1 (was: Virian council)

The (
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 04:09:46 -0500

Impressive response. Very. I read it all - twice.

The importantant points as I see them are:

  1. Wade got it right when he said that he didn't give a flying fuck about current institutions. Most current institutions are hierarchical. They have to be. It matches the way people work. And the people who find value (get their kicks?) from hierarchical organizations are those least trustworthy to organise anything. No matter how much pleasure it may provide them. The size of the list at "Co-V" indicates that many are aware of this, while others could just care less.
  2. You are right that if this is going to change, it will have to be driven by a system such as the one you are suggesting. And I suspect, like you, that it does need to change and will whether we like it or not. Can we influence the system that follows. It would be nice to think so.I just suspect that you are too optimistic about the change which is likely to occur. I think what may be coming is likely to be worse, not better, because most people just could not be bothered to think. There is a vast cost associated with the decline in education, especially education about cause and effect, which has not yet been paid. And the bill seems to be coming due.
  3. ERiC is right about the value of kinocracy, and the fact that ultimately it is the only environment in which progress occurs. Irrespective of the system under which the kinocracy occurs.
  4. Being parochial for a moment, the conclusion I have drawn is that most (though not all) of the people at CoV are here for amusement, not to work. This includes most of the lurkers. I think that the systems being proposed are too complex and

I'm going to snip most of your oevres due to lack of time, though not lack of interest, but I have tried to respond to the bits where you asked specific questions.

<Big Snip>

>> The CoV mailing list would serve as the arena to first bring
>> up issues
>> that may develop into an official referendum. The list's
>> voting members
>> (who would become such simply by being sponsored by an existing
>> member who would disseminate the inductee's email address and
>> public key -
>> thereby vouching for its authenticity and providing an avenue
>> to check - to
>> all the other voting members)

>Who will shave the barber?

This is an allusion to the classic Betrand Russell paradox. Bertrand Russell, a philosopher/mathematician/political activist, changed the direction of mathematics in the early 20th Century when he reported his famous Barber Paradox. Russell's Paradox arises within set theory by considering the set of all sets which are not members of themselves. Such a set appears to be a member of itself if and only if it is not a member of itself. The significance of Russell's paradox can be seen once it is realized that, using classical logic, all sentences follow from a contradiction. In the eyes of many, it therefore appeared that no mathematical proof could be trusted once it was discovered that the logic and set theory apparently underlying all of mathematics was contradictory. Based on Russell's Paradox, metaphysicians, mathematicians and philosophers have introduced the concept of Metalanguages to help describe such sets. Russell's basic idea is that we can avoid reference to S (the set of all sets which are not members of themselves) by arranging all sentences into a hierarchy. This hierarchy will consist of sentences about individuals at the lowest level, sentences about sets of individuals at the next lowest level, sentences about sets of sets of individuals at the next lowest level, etc. This hierarchy has helped bridge the gap between mathematics, logic and philosophy in an important way.

As he put it:
"Consider all of the men in a small town as members of a set. Now imagine that a barber puts up a sign in his shop that reads I shave all those men, and only those men, who do not shave themselves.

Obviously, we can further divide the set of men in this town into two further sets, those who shave themselves, and those who are shaved by the barber. To which set does the barber himself belong?

The barber cannot shave himself, because he has said he shaves only those men who do not shave themselves. Further, he cannot not shave himself, because he shaves all men who do not shave themselves!"

Of course, if the barber were female, this would not be a problem, it would not even be a paradox... :-)

I asked, because if it requires a "franchised voter" to create a franchised voter, there seems no way to create the first "franchised voter"...

>How do you prevent Gerrymandering?

My education, such that it is, has failed me I'm afraid. Gerrymandering?

The term gerrymandering is derived from Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), the governor of Massachusetts from 1810 to 1812. In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill into law that redistricted his state to overwhelmingly benefit his party, the Republican Party. The opposition party, the Federalists, were quite upset. One of the congressional districts was shaped very strangely and, as the story goes, one Federalist remarked that the district looked like a salamander. No, said another Federalist, it's a gerrymander. The Boston Weekly Messenger brought the term gerrymander into common usage when it subsequently printed an editorial cartoon that showed the district in question with a monster's head, arms, and tail and named the creature a gerrymander. Governor Gerry went on to become vice president under James Madison from 1813 until his death a year later. Gerry was the second vice president to die in office.

Gerrymandering, which had taken place prior to the coinage of the name and continued for many decades thereafter, has been challenged many times in federal courts and has been legislated against. In 1842, the Reapportionment Act required that congressional districts be contiguous and compact. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that districts must follow the principle of "one man, one vote" and have fair borders and an appropriate population mixture. Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that manipulating district borders to give an advantage to one political party was unconstitutional.

There are three techniques used to gerrymander districts. All involve creating districts that have a goal of encompassing a certain percentage of voters from one political party.

The first method is called the "excess vote." It is an attempt to concentrate the voting power of the opposition into just a few districts, to dilute the power of the opposition party outside of those districts that contain an overwhelming majority of the opposition's voters.

The second method is know as the "wasted vote." This method of gerrymandering involves diluting the voting power of the opposition across many districts, preventing the opposition from having a majority vote in as many districts as possible.

Finally, the "stacked" method involves drawing bizarre boundaries to concentrate the power of the majority party by linking distant areas into specific, party-in-power districts.

The process of reapportionment (to divide the 435 seats in the House of Representatives into the fifty states) will take place soon after the April 1, 2000 Census. Since the primary purpose of the census is to count the number of residents of the United States for purposes of representation, the Census Bureau's highest priority is to provide data for redistricting. Basic data must be provided to the states within one year of the Census - April 1, 2001.

Take a peek at for a visual example.

By the way a filibuster is defined as a term used to designate obstructionist tactics in legislative bodies, especially in the U.S. Senate. The term was applied in the 17th cent. to buccaneers who plundered Spanish colonies in the New World, and in the 19th cent. to adventurers who led private forays into friendly countries, e.g., from the U.S. into Cuba and Mexico. It is possible that this is another form of abuse that the system you propose would probably be exposed to.

I asked this and the next question, on the basis that the system you proposed seems to be easily invalidated by a voter "enfranchising" other people, or even constructs, to support his views, and thus skew the voting process. There is no census telling you how large the enfranchised population is, or may become. I can think of computer models that might get around the problem by maintaining a statistical database of "active voters" and tracking the distribution of votes, but this may be an uneccesary complication if you dream up a system that manages the process.

>What is the franchise qualification
>if anything?

Ah. I see what you mean. None whatsoever. There can't be, or you introduce
the dreaded loophole disease. Again, this is trying to keep the dynamics across all scales of application. For Virus, it could be something different at first, I suppose.

>Is it possible to disenfranchise people for whatever

Sure, as long as the rule intrinsically applies to everyone equally (Orthogonal? Amorphous? Homogenous? What the f*** is that word I'm looking
for.....?). The system will seek and find the best immune system response
to this carcinogen. "Life finds a way".

Orthogonal is good. Egalitarian also works.

<Another big snip>

Last comment for now.

Granting that this hardly seems serious in the CoV environment where we hope that any violence remains verbal, you mentioned the possible application of your system to the real world. IMO any system which makes all voting records public would potentially expose people to consequences which if they were a minority opposing a populist position could have drastic and unpleasant consequences for the voter and would probably cause him to vote with an eye to safety rather than reason. It also becomes problematic in any state where terror tactics are employed. Would you be comfortable voting against a party which develops electoral power with assault rifles as happens in most of Africa? As a not terribly improbable example, imagine the damage that would have been caused to people if Joe McCarthy and his ilk had had access to the voting records and been able to point to people who had voted for "communist" candidates? It seems to me that they did more than enough damage without this. As another horrifying thought, are you suggesting that a political movement would not examine voting records when dishing out government "favors" - or jobs? It already happens at a community level - even in the United States. Imagine how much worse it could be if it were performed at a "personal" level.

We already know that Jefferson was right when he pointed out that the greatest opponent of democracy is apathy. If we add to this an element which carries the inherent danger that the only people prepared to "go against the flow" would be those who do not consider the consequences of their actions, then I suspect that the consequent society would not be one I would wish to live in - or near.