replacing the electoral college

many will agree that the electoral college is an outdated system for determining our presidency, but no one can figure out what’s the best way to replace it.

here’s my idea:

everyone who decides that they’re going to vote has to take a comprehensive aptitude test. but not an aptitude test like the GRE or the SAT or something that’s just based on intelligence. it’s a much broader test that encompasses other things as well – mechanical things, house sorts of stuff, understanding of politics, awareness of issues, that sort of thing.

weight the individual questions based on some sort of predetermined system (as in answering 2+2=? isn’t as impressive as 13! mod 4). Then, based on the individual’s final result, weight how much their vote counts towards the final tally to determine who takes office. that way, someone who doesn’t know what end of the pencil is used to fill in the little boxes will only influence the vote a little.

there’d have to be some guidelines. it can’t just be an isolated measure of intelligence or practical things or awareness of social issues – placing too much emphasis on any of those things individually would influence the presidency too heavily. a balance needs to be struck, determined and governed by a well-picked council.

this way, everyone can still vote, which i think is important to the democratic process, but it eliminates the total free-for-all nature of the voting system being completely equal.

and then of course there’d have to be an air-tight auditing process to prove that it was all done fairly and no one breached the system and all that.

crooked windows

whilst sitting with katie in my favorite place to get hot chocolate, she noticed that there was a painting on the wall in which the frame was not flush with the floor. Ansel Adams on a slight tilt.

we’ve had this debate before about how i like to have a small degree of deliberate chaos in my life which could have its representation in a hung painting or poster slightly off-kilter versus her need for visual order, and this brought it to the foreground again. While nothing about our contrasting viewpoints was new, this time it spurned two new ideas into my head.

one: create a work of art within a frame where the work itself is deliberately on a slight tilt from its frame. That way, when the frame is completely flush with the floor, the work is slightly crooked, or when the work is flush with the floor, the frame is slightly crooked. This gives the person who hangs it on the wall the freedom to interpet it however s/he wishes with no correct answer (even though most people would likely keep the frame flush to the floor).

two: create a computer windows environment in which the windows and their contents can be on a tilt. of course it would have to be user-customizeable, but the particular configuration i would employ would be a slight tilt, maybe 5 to 10 degrees in either direction. And i would also program some sort of randomizer – whenever a new window opens (beit a web browser window or new word processing document or what have you), the computer randomly chooses which direction and what degree of tilt the window will appear within a specified degree range (like -8 to +8).

i’m surprised that number two doesn’t exist already. you’d figure that other people would be into that sort of chaos like me and have more saavy computer programming chops than i do. But when i did an initial google, i didn’t find anything either Windows or Mac OS that would emulate something like that.

i wonder if i could get anyone to do something like that for me.

a different music video game concept

if you look at the evolution of music video gaming, some of the execution styles may be different (stomping arrows with your feet, playing fake drums or guitar) and some of the judgement granularities are different (guitar freaks gives you perfects/greats/goods/poors where guitar hero is you-get-it-or-you-don’t), but all of them follow a similar model: the performer or performers are executing based on what they see on the screen and they’re being judged based on how accurate they are to what’s happening on the screen.

I never got much into the co-op mode of guitar freaks/drummania/keyboardmania, but i’ve played Rock Band for a couple of sessions now and while i like it a lot, the nature of that particular game brings out a fundamental flaw in all of them – you’re not actually playing with other people, you just happen to be playing next to them.

As in, when you’re playing the game with someone else, what you do has no impact on how they get judged because everyone is keying off of what the game tells them, so everyone is executing in silos with the blinders on. If i’m the drummer and i start to fall behind the beat, it doesn’t matter to anyone else – they just do their own thing.

But a real band doesn’t operate like that, and marching bands/drum corps in particular can’t operate like that. Musicians have to be able to adjust to each other and listen to each other to be able to execute their best. At the extreme level, high level marching drum lines have to learn to be able to adjust and react to what’s happening around them to the millisecond sort of degree or else they sound dirty.

So i want a music video game to have the option to emulate that – to make it so that the judgement that is received is based on how the players are playing in relation to each other.

With something like Rock Band, simple enough. The drummer or the bass guitar or the rhythm guitar acts as the tempo lead, and the video game adjusts its “judgement window tempo” based on what that lead is doing. So if the drummer is the tempo lead and slows down or speeds up, the tracks slow down and speed up with him and everyone else playing has to slow down and speed up with him. Promote the idea of the ensemble truly being an ensemble.

With something like DDR, i had this idea where two players playing the same chart get judged on how closely they hit the arrows in relation to each other, so as opposed to getting a perfect by hitting your arrow within 20ms of the arrow hitting the casings exactly, you get a perfect by hitting your arrow within 20ms of your partner. Then turn on “autosync” (and furthermore autosync the music as opposed to just the visual arrows) so that if the couple slows down or speeds up, the arrows and music adjust with the couple.

If i had to build a piece of electornic music programming from scratch that could do something like that i bet i could pull at least a basic form of it off with some complex Max/MSP work. In an actual music video game that would be more challenging. If i knew the ins and outs of stepmania programming i could probably change the code to measure the judgements based on each other, but i wouldn’t be able to get the “adjust the BPM of the song based on the player’s performance” part since it’s not fundamentally built into the code (and no, speeding up the song in the extended options screen doesn’t count).

fun to think about.