There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college

There are many political debates ongoing in America of various intensity and value. However, the most one sided and clear cut is that regarding the electoral college. This archaic and bizarre system is undemocratic and serves no useful purpose. I considered writing an article on the topic years ago, but I figured the reasons for its abolition were so obvious that there was no need.

So, imagine my surprise reading the various attempts to defend the electoral college and claims it actually serves a useful purpose. The most striking thing about these arguments is how awful and illogical they are. I know it’s not polite to insult people who disagree with you, but some arguments are so awful that there’s no point treating them seriously. Some of the defences are so bad they make it clear the speaker has no idea how politics work. Continue reading “There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college”

The Scouring of the Shire is the opposite of what people think it is

An unusual feature of the The Return of the King, the last book in the Lord of the Rings series, is the amount of time spent on the ending. The ring itself is destroyed around two thirds of the way through the narrative (or halfway if you count the appendices), leaving a huge amount of space for resolutions for characters and wrapping up loose ends. While some people enjoy the closure, others feel it unnecessarily drags on. This is how I felt the first time I read the “Scouring of the Shire”, the penultimate chapter, where the hobbits return to the Shire only to find Saruman and his minions taken it over but they are ejected after a brief battle. It seemed very anti-climactic and petty in comparison to the epic battle for the fate of the world that had just been fought.

However, I did some reading and found that many people enjoy this scene, in fact they argue it is one of the most important of the entire series and were disappointed it didn’t appear in the movies. Pretty much every article and discussion I could find on the chapter tells the same story, that the Scouring of the Shire is based on Tolkien’s experience from World War 1. The chapter is actually about the difficulties soldiers faced when they returned from war and found society had drastically changed while they were gone. It’s a bittersweet ending showing how despite the fact the hobbits fought so hard to protect their homes and preserve the Shire, they return only to find it has irreversibly changed. Some argue Tolkien is actually saying that Frodo failed.

So with this in mind, I realised that I must have missed the nuance during my original reading, so I decided to reread the chapter. Yet I was shocked by what I found, the chapter isn’t about the First World War or the changes society underwent, it is the complete opposite. Continue reading “The Scouring of the Shire is the opposite of what people think it is”

The Blockchain Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

It is hard to think of another term that is as hyped right now as “blockchain”. It is a new fad that has taken the financial world by storm. Everyone is talking about blockchain, firms are rushing out press releases announcing their interest and countless new proposals appear every day claiming they will revolutionise pretty much every industry. Even people uninterested in Bitcoin are taking a look at blockchain, in fact because so few people actually use the cryptocurrency to buy anything, the shift has focused instead to the technology aspect of Bitcoin. The situation resembles the Emperor’s New Clothes, with no one wishing to admit they don’t see any use to blockchain for fear of seeming behind with the times or not tech savy. Continue reading “The Blockchain Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem”

Myths About Esperanto And Esperantists

In online language learning communities, if you decide to learn a new language, you’re bound to get support and praise. However, there is one exception to this. If you declare you want to learn German, Russian or Uzbek etc you will receive encouragement and if someone doesn’t like those languages, they’ll keep their opinion to themselves. However, this rule doesn’t apply to Esperanto. If someone doesn’t like Esperanto, they’ll definitely let you know, in fact they’ll even tell you that Esperantists are such rude people that they brought the hostility on themselves.

I’ve never seen a Reddit comment section about Esperanto that didn’t involve Esperantists having to defend themselves and justify their actions. Continue reading “Myths About Esperanto And Esperantists”

Regardless Of Its Price, Bitcoin Is A Flawed Currency

I’ve noticed that some of my old articles about Bitcoin have been getting a lot of attention lately. I first started writing about Bitcoin back in 2013, when I considered it to be a bubble that would soon burst. When it did burst, I wrote about its flaws and figured that would be the end of the story. I mean after seeing people dramatically lose a lot of money extremely quickly, who else would want to jump in? After seeing a bubble collapse why would anyone want to repeat the process?

Yet as the price of Bitcoin soared to almost $20,000, I got an increasing number of “I told you so” and “Look who’s laughing now” comments. I was just a dumb statist shill who failed to recognise the glory of Bitcoin and missed my chance to get rich as a result of it. In fairness, I was wrong to predict that Bitcoin would fade away, I made the mistake of presuming people would learn from their mistakes and not be swindled by another bubble. As you can imagine, these comments quickly disappeared after the price crashed by three-quarters to $6,000. Funnily enough, my blog still gets shared on Bitcoin forums, however this time it is used to show that dramatic crashes are normal events, if Bitcoin can survive 2013 & 2014, it can survive 2018. There seems to be little consideration of the idea that massive price crashes shouldn’t be a normal feature of a currency or asset and wild volatility should be treated as a bug not a feature.

Since the collapse, the price has risen considerably and currently sits at around $10,000. Most of the discussion now focuses on which direction the price will go, will it rise again or face another crash? Did we just experience a market correction or the beginning of the end? Continue reading “Regardless Of Its Price, Bitcoin Is A Flawed Currency”

An Atheist Reads The Bible: Is God A Freedom Fighter Or A Terrorist?

The story of the Israelites escape from Egypt is probably the best known story in the Bible, possibly even more so than the stories from the Book of Genesis. I can still remember watching The Prince of Egypt as a child in school. However, what people don’t know is that there is no evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt or that the Book of Exodus is actually true. The Israelites were supposedly in Egypt for 400 years, yet archaeologists have found no traces of them nor ant Egyptian records of them. Nor is there any record of the plagues that allegedly occurred (which were so massive you could hardly ignore them) or the death of the Pharaoh (who is never named, further weakening the story) and his army (which is something which would have deserved mentioning). Nor has any evidence been found in the Sinai desert were supposedly 600,000 men (which implies about 2 million women and children) wandered for 40 years. Scholars now recognise that the Exodus simply didn’t happen (interesting most criticism comes from Jewish rather than Christian or Atheist sources). Continue reading “An Atheist Reads The Bible: Is God A Freedom Fighter Or A Terrorist?”

An Atheist Reads The Bible: The Plans Of Gods, Mice And Men

If there is a general theme of the early chapters, it is that no one’s plans work out. God’s plan for humanity (whatever it was) is foiled as are human ones. Nothing seems to work for anyone and God himself regrets the entire project of creating humans. It reminds of the quote from a Robert Burns poem that “the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry”, which is also the inspiration for one of my favourite books, Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. But I digress.

So Genesis 2 starts with Continue reading “An Atheist Reads The Bible: The Plans Of Gods, Mice And Men”