Government


    Super Bowl 50 was played on February 7, 2016 at Levi Stadium between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Here are a few stats from that game:

 

    Carolina generated 315 yards of offense compared to just 194 for Denver.

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    Carolina possessed the ball for 32:47 minutes versus 27:13 for Denver.

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    Carolina gained more first downs, ran more plays, had more drives and made more yards per play.

    But, at the end of the game, the score was Denver 24 : Carolina 10.

 

sb50-scoring-24-10-final

    Carolina fans were upset, disappointed, maybe even chagrined, but none of them argued that Denver wasn’t really the winner or questioned Denver’s legitimacy as the Super Bowl Champion.

 

    Why? Because everyone knew the rules of the game going in. Yards of offense, time of possession and everything else do not matter. What matters is who scores the most points by the end of the game.

 

    This same logic applies to the current election. Both parties, and all the American people, knew the rules going into this election. It doesn’t matter who has the most popular votes, what matters is who wins the most electoral college votes, because we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy and for some very good reasons (and here).

 

    If you didn’t vote for Trump, it is OK to be disheartened and worried. I did not vote for him either, and I am very concerned about where four years of Trump may take us. Fight the implementation of his policies, work to change the electoral college if you think we should be closer to a democracy, BUT . . . when you say things like “no, he was not elected by the people, he lost the popular vote so you can’t truthfully say ‘we the people elected him,'” you are just showing everyone that you do not understand the rules of the game. We the people did elect Donald Trump exactly as “we the people” has been understood since 1787.

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Look, we did something.

Look, we did something.

From Charles C. Mann’s fascinating book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (p. 235, emphasis added):

Spread at its greatest extent over seven hundred miles of the coastline, Chimor was an ambitious state that grew maize and cotton by irrigating almost fifty thousand acres around the Moche River (all of modern Peru only reached that figure in 1960).  A destructive El Niño episode about 1100 A.D. made irrigation impossible for a while.  In response, the government forced gangs of captive laborers to build a fifty-three-mile, masonry-lined canal to channel water from the Chicama River, in the next valley to the north, to farmland in the Moche Valley.  The canal was a flop: some parts ran uphill, apparently because of incompetent engineering, and the rest lost nine-tenths of its water to evaporation and seepage.  Some archeologists believe that the canal was never meant to function.  It was a PR exercise, they say, a Potemkin demonstration by the Chimor government that it was actively fighting El Niño.

Whenever I hear a politician or government official say: “This may not be an ideal solution, but we must do something about [you name it].” I think of the ancient Peruvians and their up-hill canal — and about ways to hide my wallet.

tower-of-babelIn a recent post, Adam Garfinkle talks about why our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan will necessarily fail.

Well, strictly speaking, he is talking about statism and anarchism, and advertising campaigns, and the Tower of Babel.  But he still gives a pretty good explanation of why we are tilting at windmills in the Middle East.

What also follows from this is a second verity of political life, namely that the political institutions of any society emerge from that society far more than the other way around. The United States is a democracy because its founding society was egalitarian-minded, not the other way around. All of the American Founders and all of their tutors, from Locke to Montesquieu to even the great bad-boy of the time, Rousseau, understood this. The idea that a governmental form could remold or create a society after its desired image earned the derisive label “talismanic” at the hands of William Taylor Coleridge.

I have noted this concern before, in my much less erudite way.

The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

— Margaret Thatcher

Another in Britain’s proud science fiction tradition.

Mass migration northwards to new towns in Scotland, Wales and northeast England may be needed to cope with climate change and water shortages in the South East, according to an apocalyptic vision set out by the Government Office for Science.

. . .

The vision is published today in a report entitled Land Use Futures: Making the Most of Land in the 21st Century. John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific adviser [science fiction writer], who directed the research, said that climate change and the growing population would present Britain with difficult choices about how it used its land.

. . .

The report, compiled by 300 scientists, economists and planners, includes three scenarios to “stimulate thought” and “highlight difficult policy dilemmas that government and other actors may need to consider in the future”.

All the scenarios involve dramatic changes in lifestyles and landscapes in response to climate change. In the most extreme scenario, world leaders hold an emergency summit in 2014 when it becomes clear that the impacts of climate change are going to be far worse and happen much sooner than previously envisaged.

The Government responds by taking control of vast tracts of land and using it to grow wood and crops for biomass power stations. An agricultural productivity Bill requires farmers to increase yields per hectare but most have to sell up because they lack the resources to comply. “The average farm size in the UK increases from 57 hectares to 500 hectares; farms in the East and South East of England increase to 5,000 hectares.”

The report says that satellite images in 2060 would reveal dramatic changes in the countryside. “The landscape is mottled with wind turbines; the patches in the patchwork are bigger; there are more forests and fewer animals; there are fewer vehicles moving along the roads.”

In another scenario, the Government redefines land as a national resource and the rights of landowners are balanced with “society’s rights to public benefits from the services produced by it”. Home ownership falls as people begin to embrace the idea of “stewardship” of shared natural resources.

“People are more interested in leasing or sharing goods and less interested in consumption that threatens sustainability of supply. The UK makes a significant cultural shift away from meeting present desires and towards protecting the needs of future generations.”

The report concludes that failure to manage land in a co-ordinated way could result in severe shortages of resources and “public goods” such as water, wildlife and urban green space.

Professor Beddington said: “Over the next 50 years we cannot manage land in the way we’ve done. We’ve got too many competing issues, so much change going on, and we need to get much smarter about how we manage land as we go on.”

I hope they make a movie.

Oxfordshire 2010

Oxfordshire 2050 -- It is amazing what 40 years can do!

(Via the Englishman)

The NYTimes has discovered a new constitutional principle: “selective incorpodumbassicity.” This means that the stupidity of some voters is incorporated, using a fabricated interpretation of the 14th Amendment, to rewrite the 2nd Amendment so that legitimate gun ownership, by responsible law-abiding citizens, is treated exactly the same way as if you robbed a bank.

In Dr. Munger’s response to this NY Times editorial.

This time, in Marja, the largest Taliban stronghold, American and Afghan commanders say they will do something they have never done before: bring in an Afghan government and police force behind them. American and British troops will stay on to support them. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander here.

Well, I’m convinced.  What could possibly go wrong?

hubris : noun : Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance

— The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

(via Reason)

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