Moondoggle Returns

by Kieran Healy on September 19, 2005

In passing the other day, I mentioned the Moondoggle. This is the idea floated early last year that NASA might return to the moon and build a base there, for no particular reason. At the time I thought it was just a “failed trial balloon”: that rose out of Karl Rove’s head. But several commenters said that in fact it was alive and well, and now I see the “BBC reports”: that 2020 has been set as the date NASA will triumphantly return to 1969 — er, I mean, the moon. Nasa Administrator Mike Griffin said the new launch vehicle and lander would be “very Apollo-like, with updated technology. Think of it as Apollo on steroids.” This is an appropriate comparison, because it makes clear that the new project will be bloated, prone to fights, and, when it comes to producing anything of lasting scientific value, probably impotent.

A case for instant runoff voting

by John Quiggin on September 19, 2005

This NYT article[1] discusses the problems New York Democrats are having with their primary system. If they use first-past-the-post, given a large field, they end up with candidates supported by only a minority of voters, who in turn are an even smaller minority of Democrat voters. So they have had a runoff system when no candidate gets 40 per cent of the votes, but this has caused divisions and delays.

The solution is obvious: adopt the instant runoff/single transferable vote/optional preferential system, listing favored candidates in order of preference and omitting those for whom you don’t want to indicate a preference.

[click to continue…]