MaxBarry.com
52,902nd hottest actor in the world

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Tue 24
Jun
2008

My Age of Reason

Max I’m not a superstitious person. But I do believe your brain can come to associate particular objects with particular feelings, and this can affect you in ways you don’t consciously notice. So today as I prepared my morning coffee, I thought: Did I have a good writing day yesterday? Because I used my Richmond Football Club cup: they won on the weekend and thus I was feeling good about them. It was a logical choice. But today: would there be a carry-over effect, or would the cup have absorbed too many new vibes from the day before, and if so, were they good vibes or bad?

At this point I realized that I was standing frozen in the kitchen with half a teaspoon of sugar hovering above the cup. I’m glad no-one saw this, because it might have been difficult to explain how I’m not a superstitious person.

Wed 04
Jun
2008

Scraping the Barrel

What Max Reckons I decided to stop doing those blog posts where I pontificate about how the world should be. Because reading those back, they even annoy me. And the ones that annoy me the most are when I start yapping about politics. I mean, please, like the world needs another shrill, ignorant opinion on that.

Well, maybe just one more. Don’t you think it’s strange how often people vote for somebody they don’t like? Elections should be simple, shouldn’t they? We vote for whoever we want to win, and the popular choice prevails. But in practice, you often have an incentive to vote “tactically.” For example, if you’re electing the US Democratic nominee, there’s no point voting for your favorite candidate if he or she has no chance of defeating the Republican nominee in the General Election. You should only vote for someone who can ultimately win. So now your vote has to not simply express your own preference, but be modified by what you believe everybody else prefers, too.

Anywhere there’s plurality voting, you can’t safely vote for your favorite candidate unless you’re confident enough other people will too. Otherwise, you’re smarter to vote for your least-hated candidate with a practical chance of victory. (Or vote swap.)

Now, in my experience, any time someone expresses an opinion they don’t personally have, but think others do, it’s a terrible opinion. For example, I’ve seen it produce some pretty ugly book covers. And I’ll ignore it in any reader feedback I get on my story drafts. People who try to guess what other people want end up settling on the dullest, most conservative, and uninspiring choice available, even if none of them personally prefer it.*

I get that there’s no such thing as a perfect voting system. Some are more warped than others, but, okay, it’s surprisingly difficult to create a fair, practical voting system. Still. How disturbing is it that on top of every other form of corruption inherent in the political process, it can be completely reasonable for you to walk into a ballot room and vote for someone other than who you want to win?

(* That’s one of the reasons Hillary got so close to Barack. There, I said it.)

Built on Blosxom