INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

James Valente: ‘I am a Vermonter (and a Democrat) and I noted your reference to Governor Douglas’s veto of the recent instant runoff bill. [‘Boo! Hiss! Click here.’] I understand why many Democrats (or liberals) are proponents of instant runoff voting. Al Gore, in this system, would have beaten George Bush, and third parties that are further to the left than the Democrats can have more influence without hurting the Democratic Party. However, it seems to me that the system comes with equal dangers, which the New Yorker article you linked to pooh-poohed. As Douglas noted, in Instant Runoff Voting, a candidate who secures the most first place votes can lose an election, something that, had it happened to Gore (or Bush), would surely have caused as much outrage as the result we had in Florida. [I don’t see why. If everyone knows in advance how it works, and that votes for Nader or Perot or Steven Colbert will likely be disregarded, from whence would stem the outrage? – A.T.] I don’t think that it is necessarily fair to condemn Douglas (or others) for vetoing instant runoff voting and I am often disappointed that the liberals in Vermont choose to make it an issue (it’s been back and forth at least since I was in high school in 2001). I don’t think instant runoff voting would change the landscape of America, and if there are about as many conservatives as there are liberals, it would empower just as many ‘bad’ third parties as ‘good’ and we’d be in about the same place.

☞ Here’s where I think we’d in fact be ahead: More people on the left and the right (and in odd places) would be likely to participate – and in a democracy, I think, more civic involvement is good. Fewer people would feel disaffected – also good. And more ideas would likely be thrown into the mix of serious debate, which at the very least serves an educational function.

MOZY v. JUNGLE DISK

Michael Albert: ‘As suggested on your site, I started using JungleDisk when Mozy failed. It’s great: cheaper than Mozy, more reliable (at least so far), and it slows my system less. Here’s what I told Mozy when they asked why I canceled: ‘Mozy was okay while it worked. Starting around 3/25/08, Mozy would say it was ‘Reticulating Splines’ for one or two days (continuously!), and then fail. Your friendly support folk said this was a known problem, and would be fixed soon. On 4/8/08, approaching two weeks without a successful backup, I’d had enough.’ JungleDisk doesn’t do 7 input/output operations every 10 seconds when it’s disabled, so it doesn’t interfere with my Norton GoBack’s creating system safe points. Mozy has a slicker user interface and web site, but the underlying engine in JungleDisk is superior.’

HEDGING

Charles Mathes: ‘Hedging against market declines does make psychological sense. When everything in your portfolio is going down, it’s nice to see at least one thing going up. But using leverage to do this, as with RSW which moves 2 times inversely to the S&P 500, can be psychologically daunting when the market is up. For years I’ve had a stake in David Tice’s Prudent Bear Fund, BEARX, and I’ve found it makes more sense for a coward like me. Tice has one of the best records as a bear over the past years because he hedged his shorts with investments in gold stocks. When the market was going up, he didn’t get killed, and over the past two years BEARX has done better than most.’

 

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