The Quadratic Franchise

Many, many years ago I read an essay by the science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein about civics.  He was making the case that democracy was the proposition that a million men were smarter than one man or a few men.  And he batted that idea around.  His point was that the average man might not be the right decision maker for society.  And then he thought of how we could rig things to make democracy better.  Now, being an engineer, his first idea was based on the type of tests that would appeal to a technical mind.  He imagined the voting booth being equipped with a visual display of some sort that communicated a problem to the voter to solve before being allowed to vote.  Heinlein favored solving a quadratic equation as the qualifying test.  I can’t remember if it was a multiple-choice question or not but at the time, I saw the sense of it.  Pick some minimally difficult standard of intelligence and make it a condition for voting.

But intelligence is not the only criterion for citizenship.  Moral fitness may be even more important.  You may be smart enough to know something is a bad idea for society but if you think that you’ll personally benefit from it then you might go along with it.  So, another way to rig the franchise is disqualify people who have chosen to live antisocially.  Currently, most states disqualify felons from voting.  That seems a reasonable measure.  But I think there are other larger voting blocks that should be looked at.  Perhaps civil servants should not be allowed to vote.  After all, teachers and prison guards have controlled politics in California and other states like Illinois and New Jersey for decades based on their habit of voting in Democrats to keep their pensions and salaries robust.  Maybe anyone on welfare should be taken off the voters’ roll because they’ll vote for the liberal who will keep their gravy train flowing.

Or maybe we should go the other way around.  Maybe people’s votes should be weighted according to how much taxes they pay.  So, Elon Musk pays on average ten million dollars in taxes a year and I pay fifty thousand so his vote should count for two hundred of mine.  And the guy who pays no taxes has no vote or maybe some minimal fraction of a vote.

But of course, the absurdity of this whole discussion is that none of this matters because as Dementia Joe recently pointed out, it’s not who votes but who counts the votes, that counts.  Even when unheard of numbers of Americans came out to vote in 2020 the people who rig elections in Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Madison and Phoenix simply ran the photocopy machines ten times as long and manufactured the votes needed to fake the election result they wanted.

We can talk about who the least responsible voters are.  My favorite is women because they vote with their emotions and because they’re gullible and easily flattered into thinking their self-interest is equal to the good of the country.  But even they will recognize grim reality when it comes in the likeness of a BLM mob.  So ultimately trying to fix representative government means absolutely nothing when the ballot box is being stuffed.

I think the attempts to fix this situation and the simultaneous attempt to codify fraud by the Democrats is the biggest struggle going on right now in our country.  I don’t want to overblow the criticality of the result because the bad guys never run out of ways to degrade our country.  Literally they never quit.  But I think the attempt to fix this problem is a fair test of whether there is enough strength left in our system and in our will to turn the country around.  If after what happened in 2020, we don’t solve this problem then we’re not going to have the strength to survive the diseases that afflict our country.  They will overwhelm the system like a parasitic disease that saps its host’s strength and eventually leads to death.

Heinlein thought about civics and ways that we could improve citizenship.  But he also predicted the decay of our society under the influence of progressivism.  I think he would have recognized the symptoms we are currently suffering from but he still might have been sad to see it happen to the country he loved.

War Pig’s Feedback

I prefer the government of “Starship Troopers”. I also like the idea he postulated in “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” – that any law passed can be nullified by I believe a 1/3 vote of the People. After all if a law is so poorly written or unnecessary that a full third of your citizens despises it, it is a bad law.

I do NOT trust the form of voting in Sam Clemen’s “The Curious Republic of Gondour”, since we have seen what craziness is professed in western colleges and universities. What was it William F Buckley Jr said;- “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”


(Good to hear from you War Pig.  All the best.


Guest Contributor – TomD – Sony A7 IV Camera First Impressions

Tom | Flickr

(Editor’s Note – I’ve decided to collect Tom’s observations into a separate post and I’ll update it as they come in.  I’m very interested in these observations as I wait for my A7 IV to wend it’s way through the delivery chain. – photog)


The A7IV showed up unexpectedly early last Friday the 24th. Your’s?

Cameras are so complicated these days at configuring one to my preferences is almost like moving to a new house.

Sample below, some of the wife’s yard decoration.




I haven’t had a chance to wring it out yet. Other than the impression that focus seems to be instant in all circumstances and that the form factor is more comfortable in my hand, I don’t have a lot to report.

To someone who has had a succession of now 8 Sony cameras, the much-ballyhooed new menu system just means that I have to relearn the menu system. The function button above the control wheel thankfully still gives immediate access to 95% of the functions that I use the most. And you also still have 7-8 buttons and controls to which you can assign functions.

I’m looking forward to playing with the face and eye tracking.

Still playing with the camera, it will take a while.

Just learned a couple of things, my camera, at least, does much better images with the exposure dial kept to -.7.

Tried several exposure stacking series and found that, in aperture priority, the camera mostly but not always creates the different exposures by varying the ISO. All the other Sonys have always varied only the shutter speed. One series inexplicably varied both ISO and shutter.

Big disappointment: My LA-EA 4 does not function at all with this camera.

On the other hand, the focus on my 90mm f2.8 macro has always been sluggish and hunting on my other cameras but it is instant and responsive on the A7IV. The eye autofocus is unbreakable on my animals around the house


30DEC2021 Update

Here is a a shot of mine wearing a 28-70 f2.8 lens.



Hat Tip to Chemist for this Link. Red States Starting to Coordinate Their Interests

Here’s the beginning of a counterattack against the corporate thugs who carry water for the Marxists.  Hitting the banks where it hurts is a very good beginning.  They should do the same to the banks that cancel people for free speech.  It’s finally good to see some coordination getting started.





Guest Contributor – Chemist – Reclaiming Christmas

Mrs. Chemist and I are still working but plan to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off.

One of the things I loved the most about Christmas vacation as a child was the lack of responsibility – the absolute immunity from having to do anything. It was glorious!

Then, as I got older, responsibilities started to inject into my Christmas vacation. First it was term papers and other assignments over “Winter Break”. Later, my brief career in retail required I work harder that week than any other week of the year. (Retailers call the week between Christmas and New Years the “Thirteenth month” because they do as much business that week as a typical month through the year. After that it was graduate school when the lab and the instruments were barely used and I could get more work done. Then, early in my professional career, I worked through holidays and weekends to prove myself.

I’m done with that.

Mrs. Chemist and I will spend at least one day doing absolutely nothing: No chores, no shopping, no work, no news – nothing a responsible adult “Needs” to do. We plan to sleep late, enjoy each other, watch movies, eat bad food and just enjoy.

We are really looking forward to it.

Guest Contributor – TomD – The Symmetry of Chaos

“But the size of the community isn’t the defining parameter for how safe a place it is.”

The word fractal was trendy once, may still be but certainly applies. The true definition of fractal is a pattern that endlessly repeats on different scales. The memes that turn an ordered society into a disordered one work well and create similar lawless climates at anywhere between small town scale to national. Same poisonous ideas.

Another way of looking at it would be as entropy. A well functioning society is a highly ordered system and there are near infinitely more disordered states that ordered ones. Therefore, random changes introduced into an ordered state are near infinitely more likely to degrade the system.

Political conservatism is an instinctive method of dealing with the reality that willy-nilly releasing totally unproven assumptions into an ordered society will greatly increase the entropy (disorder) of that society. So maybe the concept that there are 73 genders that we can all sequentially occupy by simple declaration should be examined for a while before being released into the wild as a fundamental ruling precept.

Guest Contributor – Chemist – America Loses Its Way

Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville said, “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!”
What does it mean to be good?

In my mind it means we are governed by Judeo / Christian values and we stick to the rules. We have a government of laws, not men and no man is above the law.

America was the place to take a chance, build a business, a family, a life because it was governed by laws. There were rules and the rules were enforced. In other countries you might labor and sacrifice for decades to build up a business, only to see the government nationalize it “For the greater good”. But America wasn’t like that. There were laws to protect you and a written Constitution to back up those laws. The constitution limited the power of the government. It was unheard of!
America allowed people to take risks and prosper and the risk takers, the winners, the entrepreneurs came here. They built companies and, in so doing, created wealth and prosperity for millions of other people.

Recently, however, America has changed. It is no longer “good”. Certain people are now above the law. Congress exempts itself from the laws it forces the rest of us to live under. Federal and local law enforcement agencies “Seize” money and property and innocent people have to prove they deserve it to get it back. The wealthy and connected go free. While the nation’s premier law enforcement agency hides evidence allowing the innocent to go to jail. The Clintons, Kennedys, Duponts, actors and celebrities never pay for their crimes.
One class of people is permitted to riot, burn and murder and they go free. Another class of people engages in a few hours of peaceful protest and they spend months in solitary confinement without a trial.

It used to be that each branch of government knew its limitations and would not dare to try and do something that was not specifically written in the constitution. Now we have an executive who has the attitude of “What are you going to do about it?” They create powers that don’t exist (Vaccination mandates) and ignore duties spelled out in the constitution (Enforce the boarders).

Entire cities have decided to stop enforcing property laws and allow wholesale theft from retail businesses. Then the cities are surprised when the businesses – the makers of prosperity – leave. Worse yet, they hurl epithets at them as they leave calling them “Greedy capitalists”. Yet who could blame them? They tried to play by the rules. The rules said they paid taxes and the city protected them from thieves. Now the city says; “No protection, but you still have to pay taxes”.

Who would build a business in a country where it can all be destroyed or stolen tomorrow and there is no recourse? Who would invest when the government is talking about taking your investments in the name of “Fairness” or “Equity”? Right now there are elected politicians who want to take your pension, IRA and 401K because other people don’t have one. Just last month, the current administration talked about “Taxing unrealized capital gains”. That means: If you buy stock or a home or anything and the value increases, you owe taxes on the increase in value. Even if you have not sold a share of stock or your home. the feds want their cut.
All of these ideas, as stupid as they sound, create uncertainty and that kills investment.

America is no longer good. In a misguided attempt to try to atone for wrongs that may have been done hundreds of years ago, some Americans are destroying everything it ever stood for. (Others are doing it out of sheer greed.) Our constitution is one of the greatest documents ever written and is the blueprint for a prosperous nation – a nation of laws. John Adams observed that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” We are no longer moral. America is no longer good and unless we change it back, the future will not be pretty.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – Favorite Westerns

My favorite western is Once Upon A Time In The West, followed by True Grit/ Rooster Cogburn (I consider them to be part one and two of a whole story), followed by Eastwood’s spaghetti trio. After that I like western comedies such as the Trinity movies with Terrence Hill and sometimes Bud Spencer. Blazing Saddle is a joy but could not be made today. Honorable mention goes to Quigley Down Under as it is set in Australia, and besides Selleck as the protagonist, it has an absolutely smashing musical score. I grew up watching westerns on TV and at the drive in. Roy and Dale. Lash LaRue, Rin Tin Tin, Sky King, Gene Autry, Gabby Hayes, Cisco and Poncho, you name it. I even belonged to the Rin Tin Tin fan club.