Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Demos Musings

A lot of interesting elections are happening all over Europe (as well as other interesting things)..

  • Scotland's elections, thanks to Tony Blair's damage to Labour, has placed the Scottish National Party as the largest party in Parliament (by 1 MP). SNP has promised another referendum on full independence if this happens, although it's important to note that this shift was accomplished partly by cannibalising smaller parties (the Scottish Socialist Party lost all six of their seats), and forming a government will probably be very interesting.
  • Sarkozy appears to be leading in the polls for the upcoming last round of the French presidential elections. This is regrettable.
  • Chavez nationalised more oil plants in Venezuela, continuing to roll back the damage American (and World Bank)-created policies have done. I'm interested to see that, like America, Venezuela is beginning to treat its wealth and resources as political carrots -- he's offered oil at half price to countries he sees as allies. Most of the carrots the United States offers, at least as I've heard of, tend to be low-interest loans and offers to sell military technology. If this reflects reality, I wonder if there's any internal pressure to make carrots things that don't directly violate WTO anti-dumping treaties. If so, it would make these only effective on a surface level..
  • Pakistan and Afghenistan may be moving closer
  • Commentary on the difficulty of convincing developing nations to adopt environmental care.
  • Turkey's parliamentary elections have been dominated by issues relating to one of the candidates having ties to political Islam. The Turkish military gave a warning that they would intervene to keep the country secular (they operate as a guardian of Kemal Ataturk's legacy), some polls were annulled by the courts, and there have been heavy protests from many parts of society on various sides. It's situations like these where political philosophy and politics come together...
  • Doctors flee Iraq due to death threats(!)
  • Mexico legalises first-trimester abortion. This is an impressive step forward, and it comes in the wake of Spain's recent legalisation. It's interesting watching the Vatican squirm at every drumbeat of Liberal progress. Also interesting is that much of Europe (see France for a good exmaple) has rather nuanced, time-and-sometimes-doctor-centric laws on abortion. I didn't know that - I've usually heard that abortion is simply legal over there, and parsed it more simply than I should have.
  • I had a lot more, but I accidentally sorted my bookmarks, and Firefox doesn't have the ability to undo that. Maybe that's not such a bad thing in this case :)

Other stuff:

  • May's eyesore of the month is pretty amusing.
  • I think it would be horribly cruel to teach a French learning the english language that "The appellation of me is $name" is valid English - while it's, strictly speaking, true, appellation is a twenty-dollar word in English. At the same time, a lot of people use a lot of cognates (and other crutches, like writing Russian in Roman characters before one masters Cyrillic) when learning a new language - maybe deeper immersion in language learning isn't best for everyone..
  • I've also been wondering, given my dissatisfaction with "first past the post" elections for legislative bodies, what it would be like to use that system for a mostly-rump upper house (that could, say, only block bills, not introduce them) and use party representation for the lower house. An upper house of this sort would have a bit more power than the House of Lords in Britain, but substantially less power than the Senate of the United States.
  • I also wonder what a "care-ocracy" would look like, where representation is partly proportional to number of people voting... My intuition tells me that would be a bad arrangement though..
  • A handful of interesting things from Israel
I think that the axes that Geert Hofstede uses to analyse societies are very interesting (even though I don't particularly like the use of "masculine"/"feminine" to describe the axis they do). From my perspective (but with his terms), it would be positive to steer society to have a low power distance (except for an ideological centre of the state), be highly collective, highly feminine (again, I dislike the term he chose), moderately uncertainty-avoidant, and highly long-term oriented. I would be interested to see where my readers stand on these issues, if they find the question meaningful (and/or relevant - people who are very strongly against cultural steering even by means of commentary might prefer to opt-out).

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