Thursday, 22 March 2007

My DPL vote

Here’s how I voted for Debian project leader:

[ 3 ] Choice 1: Wouter Verhelst
[ 3 ] Choice 2: Aigars Mahinovs
[ 3 ] Choice 3: Gustavo Franco
[ 3 ] Choice 4: Sam Hocevar
[ 1 ] Choice 5: Steve McIntyre
[ 3 ] Choice 6: Raphaël Hertzog
[ 2 ] Choice 7: Anthony Towns
[ 3 ] Choice 8: Simon Richter
[ 4 ] Choice 9: None Of The Above

For the uninitiated, Debian uses the Schulze method of vote counting (a Condorcet method) to decide its elections based on ranked ballots cast by Debian developers. In English, my preference order was McIntyre > Towns [the incumbent DPL] > (any other candidate) > (nobody).

Thankfully, another candidate withdrew from the election, saving me from having to cast a ballot ranking nobody ahead of a candidate for the second consecutive year.

Research-Intensive Courses

Timothy Burke advocates moving away from “writing-intensive” courses in favor of a requirement for courses that include assignments that emphasize the development of information literacy and library research skills. Now if we only included such a course in each major—perhaps one that also included instruction in, oh I don’t know, the appropriate methodologies for the given discipline—perhaps we might get somewhere in the academy.

The rational basis test

Julian Sanchez succinctly explains the rational basis test as applied by the courts:

Now, understand: For a law to be “rationally related” to a legitimate state purpose, it’s not necessary that it actually achieve that purpose, let alone achieve it without bringing about various ancillary harms in the process. It’s enough that a sane legislator might reasonably believe it to contribute to the relevant goal.

In other words, whenever the Supreme Court strikes a law down while claiming to apply the “rational basis test,” they weren’t actually applying the rational basis test. Case in point: Romer v. Evans, in which the court laid the foundations for Lawrence v. Texas by essentially applying heightened scrutiny to discrimination against gays and lesbians—even though they claimed they were simply applying the rational basis test.