Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Electoral College: good idea

I've been wanting to write this somewhere for a while, and the black hole of the internet seems as good of place as any. After the last presidential election (when the candidate who won the popular vote didn't win the election), everybody who didn't want Bush to win harped on the electoral college as an antiquated system which produces the "wrong" result. The antiquated might be right, but it was a good idea at the time, and it still could be a good idea, it just needs to go further.

Way back in the day, presidents were not elected directly, because there was no way to really know the candidates beyond hype, word of mouth, and advertising (sound familiar?). The founding fathers wanted good people running the country, not the people with the most advertising, so the instituted a system whereby instead of voting for a person, you basically nominated someone to vote for you who knew the candidates and could pick the candidate closest to your views.

The original system has been somewhat perverted by the advent of large-scale media, but ironically, if we wanted to preserve the original intent of the college, we could do so better than ever with modern technology. Back when the system was created, it was hard to track and tabulate votes, so the college had to be small and specific (a few people from each state). Now, with computers, you could have every person in the country be an elector, and vote for whoever they wanted...

... or you could allow people to entrust their vote to someone else who could really examine the candidates, get past the hype, and pick the one which was the best ("proxy" your vote). This was the original intent of the system, and could be realized today. Moreover, you could chain proxy votes, and/or vote directly if you wanted to. Best of both worlds: direct say if you want, or entrusting someone who shares your views with your voting power.

Anyway, the electoral college was a good idea, and people who are too dumb to see past their own political views to see that should not be electing anyone anyway, imo.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vista, anti-piracy, and pure awesome

So Microsoft apparently activated a Vista feature to shut down pirated versions of Vista. Ok... but they also sent out a message to OEM to inform them, and tell them "don't risk it, get official MS products." This a couple weeks after their WGA servers went down and people registering Vista were told they had pirated software or something.

You might see this as unfortunate timing, but I see a great marketing opportunity. Microsoft is 100% right: don't risk it! Nothing sounds more risky to me than running an OS which will destroy your data if it can't talk to Microsoft servers regularly, or there's a data error, or a programming mistake in the verification, or MS doesn't like your company, or any number of other things. Don't risk it; don't run Windows! Marketing genius, I tell ya.