Archive for November, 2009

Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day?

November 11 is now known as Veteran’s Day. Once it was known as Armistice Day (and maybe it should be again).

Below is an excerpt from the book Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. After reading the excerpt below I, like Vonnegut will choose Armistice Day.

I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day . When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.

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The War Of The Worlds (H. G. Wells)

The_War_of_the_WorldsThe only things that I knew about “The War of the Worlds” was what I saw in the movies (1953 version was much better than the 2005 IMHO). The book by H. G. Wells was far superior to the movies.

Wells did a great job with the science of the time (knowledge of Mars, evolution, etc.) His predictions of technological advances in warfare are just plain scary (especially the use of chemical warfare).

The book was published in 1898 so the language is a bit different (but I enjoyed that). For me the thing that made the book so great was the time in history that it takes place. A time when most traveling was done by either train, steamship or horse and buggy. News was delivered by telegraph and newspapers (no TV’s, radio, video,  phones or internet). For weapons humans had no tanks, planes or Atom bombs.

In the end it wasn’t mans  superiority that saves mankind, it was nature.

Ranked-Choice Voting

This year (2009) Minneapolis, MN is switched to a new method of voting (for local elections). Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV)  also known as Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV).

The way it works is: (Taken from an article in the Southwest Journal) In single-seat races, RCV relies on a 50 percent-plus-one rule. What that means is a candidate wins when he or she gets 50 percent of votes plus one. If no candidate reaches that off the bat, the runoff process eliminates the lowest vote getter off of every ballot. The ballots that marked that candidate as a first choice then instead have their second choices counted. That process continues until one candidate hits the 50-plus-one mark.  (link for the whole story) http://www.swjournal.com/index.php?publication=southwest&page=152&story=14559

I really liked the fact that I had more choices but I didn’t like the extra research I had to do to learn about all the different candidates. As an example I’ll use the fact that there were ten challengers to R. T. Rybak (our Mayor).

After going through the process I really hope that RCV becomes the national system of voting.  I for one am tired of the two party system where the two parties spend more time fighting than working.