Condorcet rules?

by John Q on March 1, 2004

The comments thread on my last post led me to this site (hat-tip: novalis), advocating Condorcet voting and presenting a critique of the instant runoff/single transferable vote , the core of which is

IRV has serious problems. It allows a sufficiently small minority of voters to safely register “protest” votes for minor-party candidates–but only as long as their candidate is sure to lose. As soon as their candidate threatens to actually win, they risk hurting their own cause by ranking their favorite first, just as they do under our current plurality system. IRV is therefore unlikely to be any more successful than plurality at solving the classic “lesser of two evils” problem.

It’s straightforward to show, however, that this problem can only arise if your preferred candidate would be the loser in a Condorcet system. Hence, voting strategically yields the preferred Condorcet outcome.

[click to continue…]

Vexing Vexillology

by Kieran Healy on March 1, 2004

It seems to be “trivia”: “day”: here at CT, so I will chip in with a question that came to me when watching a report about the Australian Olympic trials. Australian athletes and sports teams compete in green and gold, even though neither of those colors is in their “national flag”:[1] New Zealand does this as well — see, e.g., the “All Blacks”:

Now, when I started this post I was developing a clever theory to explain this that relied heavily on the fact that Australia and New Zealand are both post-colonial nations located in the Southern Hemisphere. But two European examples just occurred to me: the Italians compete in blue and the Dutch in Orange. Maybe I should just stick to my original question of where Australia got the green and gold scheme from. Are there any other examples of countries whose home sports kit doesn’t share anything with their national flag?

fn1. Here we pause to congratulate Australia on including two of the sillier animals known to man in their “Coat of Arms”: Having gone that far, couldn’t they have found room for a platypus in there somewhere? Down the bottom, maybe?

What’s in the order of a name?

by Eszter Hargittai on March 1, 2004

In the comments section of Chris’ recent post about a date, people have started debating whether it makes more sense to list the year, month or day first in a date. This discussion made me think about how different languages/cultures present names. In Hungary, “last” name comes first. To me this always made logical sense. After all, even in cultures where given name comes first (a practice that seems to be prevalent in most places I know) the order of the names gets reversed on certain lists to put the family name up front. This makes more sense, for example, when alphabetizing people in a group (e.g. in a classroom). So why does given name come before family name otherwise? Other than Hungary, I have heard in Japan family name is listed first, can anyone confirm that? Are there any other examples of such ordering of names?

What did you do in Chinatown?

by Belle Waring on March 1, 2004

The Romans are debating whether it is appropriate to have a Chinatown in Rome. I have spent plenty of time in the area around Piazza Vittorio, and it seems to me that hard-working Chinese people running businesses that are open all hours are obviously an asset to a crummy neighborhood (even if you have to walk “miles to get mortadella”, as one resident complains. Yes, or, er, blocks and blocks, right down to the Piazza itself, where every morning there is a big open air market with excellent butchers and salume, as well as magnificent fresh vegetables. Cry me a fiume, Italian lady.) Still, I think the Romans should embrace the possibility of a Chinatown if it means there will be any good Chinese retaurants in Rome, because they all suck now. Italians eat in a way very alien to the modern urban American: they only eat the food from their own region, and only those dishes that are appropriate to the season. (Though in Rome itself there are a few restaurants from other regions, like the delicious Pugliese restautant Tram Tram.) In principle I approve of this type of thing, deep spiritual connections to the land and so forth. After three weeks of pasta all’amatriciana every day in the winter, however, one starts to ask questions like, how about Thai? Hey, some Mexican would be good about now. Mmmm, tacos al pastor.

UPDATE: John just got back from Rome two weeks ago, and he says they closed down all those market stalls in the Piazza Vittorio because they allegedly weren’t sanitary. If I lived in the Esquilino I’d be protesting that in the streets instead of worrying about the Yellow Peril.

Does Australia exist?

by John Q on March 1, 2004

Eric Maskin and Partha Dasgupta are smart guys, and its hard to believe they are totally ignorant of what happens in the Southern Hemisphere. So how can they justify writing a piece promoting a system of rank-order voting as superior to the existing American (plurality) and French (top-two runoff) systems, without mentioning that Australia has had this system (in a range of variants) for many decades.[1]

A minor side point is that, in addition to having the world’s most complicated voting systems, Australia also has compulsory voting.[2] Typically more than 95 per cent of votes are formal, that is, list all candidates in order of preference, with no missing numbers or repetitions. In Dennis Mueller’s generally excellent book on Public Choice, he discusses the single transferable vote and suggests that, while attractive in theory, it’s too complicated to work in practice. Either Australians are a lot smarter than everybody else, or public choice theorists aren’t as smart as they think they are.

fn1. To be precise, Maskin and Dasgupta advocate the Borda weighted vote, whereas Australia has the single transferable vote (called preferential voting in Australia), but nothing in their argument distingushes the two.

fn2. More precisely, compulsory registration and attendance at the polling station – there’s nothing to stop you casting a blank ballot.

Completely trivial

by Chris Bertram on March 1, 2004

I still have a childhood memory of our teacher pointing out that the date was 6/6/66. Tomorrow, at one minute past midnight, in those (sensible) countries which represent dates as day/month/year, the time and date can be represented as the sequence 00:01/02/03/04 .

My second blogiversary

by Chris Bertram on March 1, 2004

Today is the second anniversary of my first ever blog post, on my old blog, “Junius”: . John Holbo “reflected the other day”: on how things have changed in blogging since: my first few posts engaged with people like Lileks and Reynolds and, indeed, it was the discovery of Instapundit that set me off doing this stuff. It has been an interesting and rewarding couple of years, and I’ve met people, read people, gone places and done things that I would never have done but for blogging. Roll on another 12 months!