The Rational Voter

As of this writing, American voters look pretty rational.

Ballots are still being counted, and several states are still uncalled, but several outcomes are very likely. The President in January 2021 will be Vice-President Joe Biden. The Electoral College count will probably finalize at 306-232 (comparable to Trump’s 304-227 victory over Clinton in 2016). The Democratic party will retain control of the House and the Republican party will retain control of the Senate, both with smaller margins than before.

Partisans on either side are unhappy with this outcome. Most Republicans wanted to elect Trump to a second term. Most Democrats wanted a wider margin of victory and control of both houses of Congress. The partisans got what they deserved. Nobody received a mandate for unbridled excesses.

Democracies are efficient. That is, the result is generally a reliable expression of voter intent. That expression is not the desire of any single voter; the efficiency emerges as an aggregate of independent decisions my millions of individual voters. Voters don’t want to negotiate or compromise, but the system makes them. Politicians don’t want to negotiate or compromise, but voters make them.

The voters have spoken, and now we listen. What have they told us? A few things are clear.

  1. Americans don’t want Donald Trump as President. President Trump was their message, and they delivered it. It’s done, and now it’s time to move on.
  2. Americans are still deeply divided along partisan lines. No amount of lipstick will cover this pig. The union might dissolve in a couple decades if we don’t find a way to deal with it, but for now we can manage it.
  3. Americans aren’t ready to dissolve the union, yet. The gravest national security risk the nation faced was Donald Trump. Trump failed to deal with Russian election interference; Trump was easily manipulated by foreign autocrats; Trump was selling out American interests to foreign bidders. The Trump business has hundreds of millions of dollars in exposure to foreign parties that is still unknown. We don’t know how much, but we now know why Trump never released his taxes.
  4. Americans do not want an expansion of international engagement. Without the support of the Senate, Biden will be unable to make major international commitments or negotiate new international treaties. Our allies and negotiating partners are well-aware of this limitation.
  5. Americans want competent management. The country is about to face several crises simultaneously, including the continuing pandemic that has already killed almost a quarter-million Americans, an economic crisis that will soon leave millions homeless, which will turn into a financial crisis that will exceed the crisis of 2008. We need to deal with global warming, crumbling infrastructure, a messed up healthcare system, a messed up bureaucracy (“deep state”), and an even more messed up legislative branch.
  6. Americans don’t want Federal overreach into local affairs. Police reform is a local matter. American voters don’t want the Federal government imposing reforms through new legislation.
  7. Americans don’t want political power grabs. Now is not the time for “judicial reform”, removing the Senate filibuster, or stacking the Congress with new state representatives. It may prove to be needed later, but not now.
  8. Americans don’t want the sanctimony of the left or right. Voters rejected it both the primaries and in the general election. It’s unlikely the religious right or the “woke” left will get the message. Sanctimony will return sooner or later, but for now, the country needs practical solutions to urgently pressing problem.

Election Pre-Rambles

The US elections are nearly upon us, and two factors stick out. Most people around the world are already bored of the election and just want it over. And most American voters have already decided. I won’t even bother to make a case for any candidate here.

This election will involve a lot of finger pointing, inferences of vote fraud or manipulation, and more than a little spin (i.e. lying). Amid all this, most Americans are primarily concerned that voter preferences are fairly and accurately recorded and reported by the Secretaries of State for all states.

Several points are still worth making.

  1. Votes are counted and reported by individual states by their respective Secretaries of States. The SOS declares the results for their state.
  2. The candidates, including incumbent Presidents, don’t declare themselves the winners.
  3. News organizations don’t declare the winners of elections. They can, and will, forecast the winners, but their forecasts carry no weight in the actual legal process.
  4. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this election has witnessed an extraordinary volume of early and absentee voting. According to the 2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics 92 million votes have already been cast, which exceeds two-thirds of all votes cast in the 2016 election.
  5. According to Ballotpedia:
    1. Seventeen states allow early and mail-in ballots to be counted before election day, including Arizona, Colorado, and Florida.
    2. Sixteen states allow early and mail-in ballots to be counted on election day; including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
    3. Seventeen states require early and mail-in ballots to be counted after the close of polls on election day. Illinois and Minnesota are among them.
  6. The vote counts reported by states on election day are provisional, and in most cases will not include early and mail-in ballots. In some cases the ballots will take several days to be counted.
  7. Because of the high volume of early and mail-in ballots, and late counting of these ballots, many vote results will “flip” from their provisional results after all ballots are counted.
  8. The occurrence of “flipping”, based on the full count of votes cast, does not indicate vote fraud or manipulation. The phenomenon is not only predictable, it is widely predicted to occur.
  9. The Executive branch of the Federal government does not have any authority to order states to stop counting votes or otherwise to interfere with their efforts to complete their legal and lawful counting of all votes.

I am actually predicting a low-drama election, despite all the hype and spin going into it. It’s the best we can hope for, in any case.

Unrelated photo I took recently

Go For A Walk

Today is National Foundation Day in Japan, a national holiday. With a day off, I decided to go for a walk. My walk today covered 9.95km.

About 30 minutes away by foot, Ikuta Ryokuchi Park is a favorite destination of mine. It has several entrances and exits, so it can be approached and left in several different directions. I had planned to walk through it on the way to Tamagawa, but fate intervened — I mistakenly left via the wrong exit.

So I walked instead past the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum en route to Higashitakane Forest Park. On the way, my toe started bleeding, probably a cut from the toenail. But I didn’t notice this until I arrived home.

Closer to home, at the park behind our building, I saw many children playing, possibly as many as 50. It made me smile so much to see so many happy children playing outdoors under the sunny, blue sky. I wanted to take a picture, but I knew that would be creepy.

When I got home, I realized I was .05km short of 10km. I wondered whether My walk was incomplete.

Japanese Sightings

Japan Sightings: Pachinko Games

Lily & Madeleine

Pachinko Games

I’m scared my bitterness, written all over my face

Takes over everything

I ran through Tokyo hoping to find the place

Where only I could be, but I never found it

Japanese Sightings

Japan Sightings: Wars

Of Monsters and Men


Cold, but you glow
Like the streets of Tokyo
It’s alright, we can stay
Lost here forever
Sinking stones, we don’t know
What lies on the riverbed
So we fall, no control
No, this can’t be over yet


How many people have you misunderstood today?

According to the World Clock there are 7.7 billion people (humans) alive in the world today.

How many of them have you misunderstood today? We have many mechanisms for failing to achieve consensus.

  • We receive different information
  • We interpret the same information differently
  • We commit new information to long-term storage at different rates, and in different ways
  • Everyone’s long term storage is different
  • We would make different estimates about the future, even if we started from the same information base

I misunderstand even the people closest to me on a daily basis. Even when my wife and I receive significant amounts of the same information every day, the above factors interfere with our ability to achieve consensus on the meaning of much of that.

How many people have I misunderstood today? About 7.7 billion.

Japan Japanese Sightings

Japan Sightings: Lost in Japan

Lost in Japan, by Shawn Mendes, Zedd


Ghosn rearrested for alleged aggravated breach of trust – Nikkei Asian Review

This farce is descending rapidly, even by the low standards of Japan’s legal system. The court just ruled his detention could not be extended. Apparently the prosecutors found a way around it. Hopefully, this is a sign they are very desperate to get Ghosn to incriminate himself, because their case is otherwise too weak to justify prosecution on the basis of the available evidence.

TOKYO — Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been rearrested for alleged aggravated breach of trust, Tokyo prosecutors announced on Friday morning
— Read on


‘Underground’ May Be the U.S. Military’s Next Warfighting Domain – Defense One

We must not allow a mineshaft gap?

Tunnels and subterranean infrastructure demand high-level attention, training, and technology, the military’s intelligence chief says.
— Read on


Doctor, you’ve been a beacon of light to me

You’re living proof

That ideology is a poor substitute

For kindness and decency

And that at the end of the day

It is our actions

And not our beliefs that define

Who we are.

What we are.

  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine, S07E23