Like a Bachelor

I had just came back from a mini Chinese New Year getaway and the missus is still away. Coming home to an empty house, I had the free reign to do whatever I like. Having been previously feeling rather in the dumps, I decided to pick myself up - do something for myself a bit more.

So I took time off working on my multiple startups. I cooked, played some games and did some thinking.

Cooking

I cooked a fancier version of something I ate a lot in my uni years: mac and cheese. Over the years I have sorta perfected the recipe for my own consumption. This recipe for mac and cheese uses some things you might not find in a typical kitchen - sodium citrate, just so you know. I washed down my mac and cheese with a light and fruity hand crafted ale from Pepperjack (very strange company that, a vineyard that also makes ale).

The result is a super creamy, super cheesy mac and cheese. The stock gives it a salty flavour, and because I used a slightly older vintage (circa 16-18 months aged) cheese, there was a slightly bitter bite to the cheese itself, which when melted and made into the cheese sauce, imparts a very good balance of flavour to the dish. The last bit - Tabasco sauce adds just the amount of kick.

Gaming

I decided to also play some games - something I have not done in a long time. Hankering for good storytelling, I popped Heavy Rain into my PS3, and was greeted with a “UPDATE REQUIRED” message. Clicking OK showed that the update was 2.9GB or something ridiculous like that. NOPE. I had finished Heavy Rain a long time ago anyway, so I put it away.

You know, it is kinda ridiculous that games nowadays require such large updates in order to play. While I agree that the medium of delivery has changed a lot, what with Steam and online delivery and all that, but 2.something GB of updates is a little ridiculous.

I ended up bashing somebody on Marvel vs Capcom. Not what I intended

Civil Liberties as a function of population

Gaming was boring after a while, so I watched Dredd. Interesting movie to say the least, but what got me thinking was the concept of civil liberties. Mega City One is a good example of civilization where its citizens do not actually have a lot of civil liberties. In fact, one can say having Judges have the ability to be judge, jury and executioner is really really screwed up.

While I can appreciate the federated nature of power (and I have long been fascinated with federation of powers), the distribution of power is too narrow - one person has too much power. Judges can essentially run their own fiefdom, if they want.

The main reasoning for this, I believe it was explained, was overpopulation in a small area. Which led me to think, what if civil liberties were a function of population. Say, the fewer people or perhaps the less dense an area is, the more freedom the people have.

I went to look up economics and political science journals on this issue and was actually quite dismayed that no one has actually written a paper on this. I was expecting famous economists like Acemoglu or Robinson or Ostrom to have written on this subject. No dice.

Of course, the hard part is nailing down what civil liberties are. There are a number of think tanks out there with regards to freedoms, and I don’t really agree with their metrics. The main methodology used mainly are gauging the amount of rights enshrined/enforced in a country. I disagree with this method, because it is very difficult to quantify such rights. Also, there are rights, like the right to bear arms, which are not universal, and hence they are quite subject to inherent bias.

Not all countries are democracies, and this is the reason why I disagree with Freedom House and the like in their methodologies. It assumes that democracies equals freedom. Granted, the non-democratic countries have shown equally a bad track record of providing affordances for civil liberties.

I would expect a far simpler metric that could do the job of scoring. For example, if I were to be creating a new metric to measure civil liberties, I’d start with counting the amount laws that lead to punishment by the state. These offences for example, could be weighted by severity (misdemenour, crime, capital crime.. etc), and then properly scored. Perhaps a variant of this metric could be made - enforced laws, instead of enshrined laws - by going through court records etc. That way outdated law wouldn’t be counted, and personal fiefdoms can be exposed.

What I would expect from such a study of course, is probably that as the population increases, civil liberties drop. It’s not really a far-out idea. The more people you have, the more draconian laws have to be in order for the rulers/people in power to hold their power. Sometimes, it will be under the guise of “law and order” or “civility” that the laws become more draconian and civil liberties shaved.

I personally think if you can put it into a mathematical equation, there won’t be a difference betwen clinging-on-to-power and maintaining-law-and-order. It’d probably be encapsulated in a variable somewhere.

Of course, real life data could prove me extremely wrong. Who knows. Some times I wish I had the time to undertake such studies. Oh well.

So this is what I did for the weekend. What did you do?

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