January 6th, 2006

[NON BLOG] Fine times on Yonge Street ...

... with heraclitus, starting at the usual haunt (the Starbucks on Yonge and Wellesley), heading north to Caffe Volo (589 Yonge Street) for some beers (on my side, a Stella Artois, the Polish Pilsener Zywiec, and the Belgian Delerium Tremens) then south to Not Just Noodles (570 Yonge Street) for a quick drunken meal (pad thai, here). The conversation was characteristically wide-ranging and enjoyable, touching on topics as various as the real consciousness of non-humans, the deliciousn transgressiveness of Neil Gaiman, social versus economic and Canadian versus American libertarianism, basic assumptions about culture, William Vollman's Europe Central (touched upon by heraclitus here), and the problems of empathy. Indeed, if tonight's conversation had any theme, it was that empathy is a key trait for any culture that wants to survive never mind emerge triumphant, for not only is a willingness to compromise a good bargaining skills in a complex society but social relations feel good. Robert Wright's Non-Zero puts forward this argument, but it did so to me long before I thought to read it. Intuition works.

[LINK] Visit buymyvote.ca

"Canadians asked: How much for your vote?"

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - One Canadian woman figures her vote is worth the price of a movie ticket, but another man would only sell his for a share of the government's budget surplus.

Vote selling is illegal in Canada, but Paul Wolfe has found that letting voters post their hypothetical prices on the Internet is a humorous way to find what they are thinking as Canada prepares for the January 23 federal election.

"It's sort of a sideways approach to getting to the real issues," said Wolfe, a Thunder Bay, Ontario, graduate student and one of the creators of the Web site BuyMyVote.ca. "It actually gets people thinking."

Wolfe said the idea started as a conversation between friends, but the aim now is to hear from thousands of people and calculate the "official value" of a Canadian vote.

"What this is, is an expression in free-market democracy," said Wolfe, who priced his own vote at C$140 (69 pounds) -- the cost of good restaurant dinner for his family.

Voters are asked to list the price they would sell their ballot for, and give a brief explanation of why.

Me, I'd have to think about the price. Thanks to Will Baird for the heads up!

[NON BLOG] Two neglected Christmas gifts

  • I should have mentioned djjo's superlative blue knit scarf back on Christmas Day. It's rather nicely warm, and goes well with my jacket.

  • As for heraclitus's gift of the Penguin Classics edition of Plutarch's Essays, nothing more need be said other than that I should have read the ur-biographer before now. The Classics student who stopped by our table to pick up deritus seemed pleased by the gifting.