Some screenshots from my TERA adventures

TERA (The Exiled Realm of Arborea) is an interesting little MMORPG that launched a few years ago. I just started in it recently, but I’ve noticed some interesting things. My comments are below the images, but you’ll probably have to scroll. You can middle click the images to open them in a new tab instead of the viewer.

How the United States avoids tyranny of the majority

Obviously, we have some tyranny of the majority. Voters across the nation decided I shouldn’t be able to get married, for example. But in the long run, we’re moving back to the founding principle of equal treatment under the law.

So how did that happen? It’s fairly simple in concept. The US is founded on a post-Enlightenment secular humanism that respects and tries to integrate all beliefs. All this is formalized in the constitution and bill of rights. The founders realized that they were only human and ultimately the product of their upbringing. A lot was left undone: emancipation, voting rights, marriage equality. The list goes on.

Our constitution provides three systems to help move us closer to our founding ideals:

Representative bodies. The Senate and House represent the interests of the states and of the people (respectively).

A constitutional court. The Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) is the final word when controversies aren’t settled in lower courts and state legislatures.

An executive with veto power and control over the armed forces. The president’s power is limited, but those powers they have are substantial. When majorities try to limit minority rights, the executive can step in with either a pen or a gun depending on the severity (and source) of the violation.

And by design, they’re all answerable to each other. The SCOTUS can be overruled with a constitutional amendment. The president can be overruled by a court ruling or a sufficiently large majority. The courts are jointly assembled by congress and the executive over the course of too many elections for one person to have too much control in the decision-making process.

So it’s not perfect, but it does seem to move in a progressive direction over the long term. More people in minority groups have rights today than when the country was founded.

I mentioned at the opening that it’s simple in concept. In reality, it gets complicated. There’s an enormous body of case law that informs the decisions of the SCOTUS and lower federal courts. The president can issue executive orders and the courts can’t always settle on the legality in time to matter. The House and Senate go on vacation a lot.

It’s an awful mess, but we’ve had centuries of one form of government. Somehow, it works in the long run.

Can we just go ahead and nationalize the health care system?

All these broken and half-finished accounting systems would be unnecessary if we did. A balance of capitalism and socialism can work great in a lot of places, but this is one where profit motive has proven inadequate for decades.

Space exploration: NASA and private industry doing cool stuff

Internet: We’ve got an oligopoly going on at the consumer level, but we got so much great stuff out of it before the attacks on net neutrality (the balance is shifting too much toward profit motive).

Public utilities run by private companies: There are exploitative practices going on in cash-strapped places like Detroit, but for the most part we have clean, reliable water nationwide.

But here? It’s only gotten worse decade after decade. Capitalism has no place in the provision of health care. Maybe they can handle the IT and other auxiliary services, but not the main thing.

A new form of government

In the US, there’s much conflict between the interests of the states and the interest of the union. So let’s build a system to help bridge this gap.

We can choose representatives at regular intervals to help shape the federal laws we don’t like into something better. We could call it something like “representative democracy.”

Of course, these representatives would have to be intelligent and worldly. Otherwise, they may forget they also represent the people who didn’t vote for them and be prone to negative populism. We wouldn’t want fascists, theocrats, capitalists, or other narrow interests to have excessive influence.

Perhaps we could create a second system where a smaller number of representatives are elected by a greater number of people to attenuate the negative effects of populism. Perhaps two per state, elected by the entire state’s population. We could model this after the Roman Senate. Hey! That’s a great name for it.

And even that would be problematic due to the outsized influence of senators from smaller states. We can create a weak Executive with a head elected by the entire nation, and empower them to veto bad laws, while still giving the Senate override power with sufficient votes.

We should probably create some sort of judicial system jointly maintained by these two branches of government to ensure we don’t deviate too far from the founding documents without good cause.

Why a lot of people hate feminism

Feminism is a big, diverse thing with a billion different sub-movements. But when most people discuss it, they’re generally referring to one of three varieties:

1: Feminists who recognize the intersections of oppression and realize their feminism has to be for more than just straight white rich women. Some of these intersectional feminists will use tortured logic to explain away any possibility of men being oppressed, but most see we’re all in this together.

2: Patriarchy Lite™ feminists who shame men for not performing hypermasculinity. A common trait is that they demand men risk their lives to save women. They say something like “men should intervene when they see an assault,” ignoring that most men are poor and don’t have insurance to cover the hospital bill/funeral.  More generally, they say things like “men should make other men…” and then some commandment. Of course, men can be super effective at getting other men to do things, but shaming just annoys men who already get enough of that from the people in their lives.

3: Maleducated goofballs who actually hate men and fly the banner of feminism as a shield.

You can probably guess what happens here. 2 and 3 make a lot of noise while 1 retreats into obscurity when they realize how futile it is. So most people don’t know group 1 exists. All they see is 2 and 3.