Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This was our first Halloween at our own house, and it saw plenty of trick-or-treat traffic.

Our neighbors went all-out with decorations and special effects, which we couldn't match, but we did have a jack-o-lantern I felt mildly clever coming up with, and a cute little skull-on-the-grill display.

Happy All Hallows' Eve!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Approaching Democracy

I swore this blog wouldn't turn into a political soapbox. I'm breaking that for two reasons: I'm not taking any politically-charged sides here, and it's an idea that's simply too good to go unmentioned.

For as much as we throw around the term "democracy", what we (and all other "democratic" nations) have is a republic. We don't make the decisions; we elect people to make the decisions for us. That's no bad thing necessarily, but that layer of indirection has can be very thick and frustrating at times.

This is brilliant. It's a hack for an existing republic to inject a bit of direct democracy. All registered voters may vote online on any and every issue that passes through the senate. The senator (human or software) then blindly votes accordingly. If the idea works, clones and variations of the system will also get elected, slowly replacing, to whatever extent citizens are comfortable with, the old republic with a true democracy.

Variations that deal with introducing bills in addition to just voting on them could be very interesting. How to best immunize these systems from party poisoning could become key in how useful and effective they might be in the long term. If nothing else, this conjures a mental image of replacing senators with small shell scripts, which should bring a huge smile to any geek's face.