Jan. 6th, 2006

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

  • As for [livejournal.com profile] 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.

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