Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Thought: The Paradox of Freedom

What is freedom? The state of being free to do what you want, to make decisions, to act. Basically, it's having options. The more options you have, the freer you are.

But if all you do is try to maintain your freedom by keeping your options open, by not committing to an action or choice, you've effectively reduced your options to nothing. You've made yourself one of the least free people around.

Keeping your options open can be a valuable part of a strategy to reach a goal or maximize happiness, but only if the part it plays is to let you commit at the right time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Say The Post-Vroomers?

Driving home from dinner out today, wife & kid in the car, I got to thinking about kids and toy cars.

Back in the day it was, as I imagine it still is, inevitable that a kid playing with a toy car would make "vroom! vroom!" noises, or something to that effect, while pushing it around through maneuvers that would make any Hollywood stunt driver cringe. I'm pretty sure my kid will do the same.

But what about the kids of the next generation, or, more accurately, the kids of the first generation to know only electric cars or whatever ultimately replaces cars powered by internal combustion? Will "vroom! vroom!" continue to be passed on from generation to generation like the many nursery rhymes that still get recited after outlasting all cultural context? Or like the "tick-tock" of clocks of yesteryear? Or will the youths of that future generation coin their own onomatopoeia?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seth Godin's Got It Wrong About Secret Ballots

I subscribe to the RSS feed of Seth Godin's blog. He's a bright guy, but he doesn't always get things right.

He says in his blog entry (When technology and tradition diverge) today:

"When the secret ballot was introduced, it just wasn't possible to count the votes in less than a few days. So a tradition was established, driven by the technology, not because it was the best way. Now, of course, the technology doesn't need that tradition any longer, but it's still here."

He's totally wrong about the purpose of secret ballots.

The purpose of secret ballots is to ensure that voters can vote their conscience without fear of repercussions from those who would coerce them to vote one way or another. It has nothing to do with any inability to have a running count. (Godin may simply be confused about what "secret ballot" means.) Even small groups who could easily have a running total using nothing more than their fingers use secret ballots too when they feel the need. Other groups specifically avoid secret ballots, particularly when those who are voting are representing groups of constituents and need to be held accountable for their votes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm The Cat In The Hat, Baby

My son, who is now 15 months old, insists I wear my hat all the time, even at home.

I know I shouldn't take offense at that, and I'm really not sensitive about my baldness at all, but part of me wonders about what he's thinking.

I guess he probably just associates it with going-out fun-times dad. Or maybe he just thinks it's amusing that I have this thing on my head.

Anyway, I need a haircut and plan to do it tonight, so we'll see if that's it.