Democracy or oligarchy?

From a comment at cafehayek by David White, I learn:

The Constitution was framed for three million people in thirteen sovereign states. When the first Congress met in 1790, there was one representative for every 30,000 people. By 1920, the U.S. population was 90 million, and Congress capped representation in the house at 435, where it remains today. Now, however, there are 300 million Americans, yielding a ratio of one representative for every 690,000 people. If we apply this ratio to 1790, there would have been only four members in the House of Representatives. Or, to put it another way, if the ratio of the framers existed today, there would be 10,000 members in the House.

The Danish development has been similar, if somewhat less extreme. In 1849 the Danish Rigsdag had 151 members, 100 in the Folketing, 51 in the Landsting. Today the Folketing has 179 members. Back in 1849 Denmark had appr. 1.4 million inhabitants, or 1 representative pr. 9300 people. Today she has appr. 5.45 million inhabitants, or 1 representative pr. 30.000 people.


May 29, 2007 Posted by | Random stuff | 1 Comment

The FIDE candidate matches has started

More here.

I wonder if it is a coincidence that Cowen posted this post today? I should think not. I don’t believe Carlsen will win. In order to win matches, you need experience. Lots of it.

I say we all give Carlsen a few more years to mature before we demand that he becomes the new world champion. He’s not even old enough to drive yet. There’s plenty of time.

May 27, 2007 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

In Venezuela, bad policy is good politics because it’s popular.

From econlog.

A question that popped into my mind though: Only in Venezuela? I think it is a (more) general phenomenon.

May 26, 2007 Posted by | Quotes/aphorisms | Leave a comment

Mtel Masters

The position after round 7:

Sasikiran: 4.5
Mamedyarov: 3.5
Topalov: 3.5
Adams: 3.5
Nisipeanu: 3.0
Kamsky: 3.0

The official website is here.

Sasikiran’s lead comes as a bit of a surprise to me. Not because he’s not a good player, but because it sure didn’t look like he was going to win when I followed the game yesterday. After move 19…f4 black’s (Sasikiran’s) pawnstructure was just horrible:


I actually left the game and stopped kibitzing when they reached move 40, which made me look twice when I saw the result. After 40…Bxf1 they would soon agree on a draw surely:


No timetrouble any more, and of course Mame would take on d8 – and we’d have a nice perpetual with knight and rook, both players would be happy, both would be in the lead. Even if the black king moves to the f-file, it would probably still be draw – however, if anything, to move the black king away from its safe haven in the top corner would be advantageous to white, not black, so this I did not deem a realistic scenario: Something like this pops to mind: 41.Nxd8…Rc1, 42.Nf7+…Kg8, 43.Nxh6+…Kf8, 44.Rf7+…Ke8, 45.Rc7!…Rxc7 (forced), 46.dxc7…Kd7, 47.Bxb7…Kxc7, 48.Bf3. If black would have played 41…Bh3, it would look much the same, at least until move 45. As Rxc7 would in that case no longer be forced, black might consider Bb6, but the black position would still be somewhat inferior.

Mame should have taken on d8. Well, he didn’t. He played 41…d7? instead (as mentioned, what is most peculiar about this move is probably the fact that it was played _after_ the timetrouble was over) . Sasikiran played Rg8. Game over.

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

A simple way to make you realise just how little you know

By using this page as your startpage, perhaps for just a week, I can almost guarantee that it will change your perception of how much (little) you know.

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Random stuff | Leave a comment

Curiosity is a dangerous thing…

Or maybe: Yet another reason why we shouldn’t expect scientists to win the evolutionary race…

May 9, 2007 Posted by | fun | 2 Comments

Balan on the persuasiveness of religion

Suppose Doubting Thomas tries hard to figure out the truth about these matters, and has some not completely conclusive and only partially satisfying answers to show for his efforts, and he’s had little fun along the way.* His buddy Pious Pete points out that Thomas did a lot of struggling and still doesn’t even claim to have a rock-solid foundation for his values whereas he (Pete) does. That is, Pete correctly points out that Thomas faced a hard problem, struggled, and still didn’t find a fully satisfactory solution, while Pete went through none of this. Of course Pete didn’t solve the problem either, he just avoided it by refusing to take it seriously and essentially assuming it away. But it sure looks like Pete not only has the better deal, but is also righter; after all, he dealt with a lot less muss and a lot less fuss than Thomas did. Misdirection, just like a magician, and it works.


May 8, 2007 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme. It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are more concerned with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent, nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today. Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby ulcerous little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive. We are sorry if this impression has come across.

Shouldn’t be too hard to guess where it comes from. And don’t worry guys, of course there’s no need to apologize…

May 4, 2007 Posted by | fun, Quotes/aphorisms | Leave a comment