Monday, May 7, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Amy Heckeling,58 (perhaps; sources differ, so I'm assuming wikipedia is correct).

And the good stuff:

1. Steve Kornacki gets it: any candidate who wins a solid plurality of the vote will do just fine in the Electoral College. Once again: candidates, of course, must make decisions about scarce resources, but for the rest of us, if you just ignore the Electoral College until October you'll have a much better chance of understanding what's happening in the presidential election.

2. Jennifer Rubin and I agree on something. More or less. Gotta be worth a link, I suppose.

3. Thoughts on commenters,from Brad DeLong, Andrew Sullivan, and Julian Sanchez. I should add: I can't tell you how much I appreciate the quality regular commenters here...not just what they have to say substantively, which is often terrific, but the way they have helped socialize new folk. I'm still able to read every comment (here; not at the other places, although I do try to peak in a bit), and I enjoy it very much, even when I don't have the time to join in.

4. Greg Koger on that perennial puzzler -- whether building the Death Star makes sense. Good post, but I have the same caveat that I had last time this conversation came around. As far as we know, I believe, all inhabited planets are within the Empire. Moreover, the Emperor's goals, we believe, are power/domination, nothing else. Given those two things, it's not clear to me that maximizing economic growth would be at all important to the Emperor. So a little economic inefficiency, including destroying advanced planets, just doesn't seem like a big deal to me. It's all about whether it induces more or less effective rebellion.

5. And how Roman Emperors died. Nasty. Ranked by Josh Fruhlinger.


  1. Prof. Bernstein,

    According to the expanded Star Wars universe, in fact not all planets are within the Empire. Off the top of my head, there are the Corporate Sector, the Hapes Consortium, the Chiss Ascendancy, and anything else in the Unknown Regions. You would do well to waste some time at Wookieepedia, if you were so interested.

    If it further helps the calculations, the first Death Star was purportedly built with prison labor, but there was a prototype built at an Imperial R&D lab beforehand.

  2. I'd just like to second JB's comment on the Plain Blog commenters. Keep it up, folks!

  3. Sullivan's editor idea is expensive (though you might deputize a trusted commenter to do it). What I'd do instead is simply take Reddit's open source vote ranking code and let the number of upvotes determine what's smart enough to read. You might need to bifurcate the comment threads into conservative and liberal though!

  4. Winning a solid plurality of the vote doesn't guarantee that a candidate will do just fine in the Electoral College

    With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes!

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the primaries.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.


  5. backyardfoundryMay 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Brad DeLong can impart no wisdom on this issue because he IS a troll. He loudly insults conservatives and libertarians and expells commenters who merely disagree with him. His comment board is often like something from 1984, where it's hard to follow arguments because so much stuff is culled. His 'you wound me, sir' stuff is obvious BS meant to nettle his non-fans.

    By contrast, the despicable Yglesias has great comment policies. DeLong should try that Yglesias stuff.


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