Classroom Democracy, Part I: A Parliament of Scholars

My Classes are Democracies and hold elections every week.


The Classroom: A People-Powered Polis

Through these elections an Assembly, a President, and a Government are selected.
First, every student votes for an Assembly. The Assembly is elected through proportional parliamentary representation, so that a student who receives one vote from the class has the ability to cast one vote in the Assembly, a student who receives two has the power to cast two, and so on.


In Assembly, The People Rule

Secondly, the Assembly elects a President. The President is chosen by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly….


In the case there are more than two candidates and none receives a two-thirds vote, the lowest-vote-earning candidate is removed, and the Assembly votes against on the remaining candidates. In the case that there are only two candidates and none receives a two-thirds vote, the Assembly can vote on more time. In the case that the Assembly is deadlocked, the Assembly begins electing again, but cannot vote for any candidate it has previously considered. If the Assembly repeats this process such that there is no one left to vote for, the Assembly falls and a new Assembly is elected by the Class.


The Popular Presidency

Third, the President selects a Prime Minister. This is the first stage in forming a Government. The Prime Minister is selected by the President but most be confirmed by half of the Assembly. If the President’s selection for Prime Minister is not approved by the Assembly, the President may try a second nomination of anyone, including the first choice. If the President is again rebuffed, the President’s Administration falls and the Assembly selects a new President. If a second President falls, the Assembly itself falls and a new Assembly is elected.


PM: Calling the Shots

Fourth, the Prime Minister selects an Information Minister and an Interior Minister. This is the last stage in forming a Government. Both the Information Minister and the Interior Minister must be approved by the President. If either of the Prime Minister’s candidates are rebuffed, a second selection may be made of anyone, including re-nominating the candidate for the office again. If the Prime Minister is again rebuffed, the Prime Minister’s Government falls and the President selects a new Prime Minister as described above.


The Ministers of the Government

The Assembly can find that it has “no confidence” in either the President or the Prime Minister by a majority vote. If the Assembly has No Confidence in the President, then the Assembly must select a new President who will form a new Government as outlined above. If the Assembly has No Confidence in the Prime Minister, the President must then name a new Prime Minister as outlined above.. The President can dismiss the Prime Minister and select a new Government, as outlined above.
The central personality in the Democracy is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, in a real way, runs the class. The conditions under which quizzes are taken are decided by the Prime Minister, as well what is discussed in class. The Prime Minister has the power to dismiss the class, hold the class, and run the discussion. The Interior Minister, by contrast, is in charge of suggesting quiz questions for the next week, while the Information Minister is in charge of submitting notes for the class. The powers of the President and the Assembly are limited to oversight of the Prime Minister.

The Assembly can create a Constitutional change by a 2/3rds vote, which is ratified if it is approved by 2/3rds of the class.

Every class I have ever had has challenged this system. Students, wise from more than a decade of classroom instruction, have figured out that teachers lie to them and that collaborative learning is really just a way for a teacher to lecture and then act grumpy when students don’t talk up. So students, who don’t like hypocrisy, attempt to expose it by spending an entire class period on parliamentary procedures, or letting the class leave early after ten minutes, or some other stunt. They are, like good scientists, attempting to determine the real rules of the class by seeing what a teacher does and not just what he says.

It is after the challenges that teaching becomes delightful. In my most recent, for example, I walked in early as students were negotiating how the class would be run. The requirement for a 2/3rds majority prevents the little cliques, or “Parties” who rise in winner-take-all races (the ones students are familiar with since elementary school). Therefore, students who wish to be leaders know they have to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Prime Ministers who do not care about the learning of others, either by not paying attention to other’s needs or being flippant, are not chosen again. Students want a good grade on their projects, and in a Democracy they realize that their ability to gain one depends on interaction with the different perspectives of their peers.

Students also are skeptical of those who will cheat their way to the top. The most lopsided race I have ever witnessed began with a Party offering chocolate to students who vote for them. I recognized this as a challenge, and so allowed it. Another student offered himself as a candidate, stating “I don’t know what to do, but I know this is not fair.” He received twice as many votes offering nothing but fairness than the Party which wanted to “condition” its way to the top. (Interestingly, the Party may have been able to gain 1/3 of the seats, and so cause problems in naming a President, if one member hadn’t said “The class is clear what it wants. It wouldn’t be fair to vote for ourselves.)

Note: As with my previous post, Inside the Black Gangster Disciple Nation Crack Cocaine Gang-Corporation, the illustrative graphics are courtesy of an army of open-source, free, and no-cost programmers. I am particularly grateful to Inkskape, OpenClipart, OpenOffice.org, and Paint.Net.


Classroom Democracy, a tdaxp series
1. A Parliament of Scholars
2. A Defense of Republics
3. The Life of Constitutions
4. The Evolution of Learning
5. Bibliography

Video on 1970s-era Technology Initiatives

I’m unusually sympathetic to a John Robb post as I have a bad cold, as well. So today’s update isn’t politics or gossip — are just two 1970s information reels (one fake, one real).

The DHARMA Initiative (from Purpleslog via TV Squad)


D.H.A.R.M.A.

The ARPANET Initiative (from Digg via Search Marketing)


A.R.P.A.

(Interestingly, they both start out with similar, awful music. Hmmm…)

Stalin’s Old New Map

Catholicgauze, Coming Anarchy, and Sun Bin are abuzz about a terrifying proposed world map from the 1940s. Representing, if implemented, preemptive surrender in the Cold War, the map would have been a disastrous on an unimaginable scale.


The Greater Soviet Union

The proposal would have completely demilitarized the Rimland, throwing democratic parties out of Europe, Africa, and coastal Asia, with the sole exception of Britain (whose possessions would focus on Australasia). The Soviets would have war-water ports on three oceans, and the exclusive American dominion over the Western Hemisphere would be reduced to only North America.

Bloody Sovietism in full swing, the plan called for ethnic cleansing genocide, and socialism on a huge scale

For instance

38. To reduce the numerical power of the aggressor nations, as a potential military advantage, a Population Control Policy shall be elaborated and applied in the quarantined areas
39. In the New World Moral Order which we week to establish, besides the essential political freedoms, the following fundamental economic changes are imperative
(a) Nationalization of all natural resources and equitable distribution of same to all nations — everywhere in the world;
(b) Nationalization of international banking, foreign investments, railroads, and power plants — everywhere in the world;
(c) Nationalization of all armaments producing establishments by all remaining military powers;
(d) Federal control of foreign commerce and shipping;
(e) The establishment of a world common monetary system
(f) World-wide limitations of interest rates to a maximum of two percent
40. To retain the victory and leadership of our united democratic effort — the aim of which is not vengeance or exploitation, but freedom and security to all notions for peaceful progress — the unified “Supreme War Command of the United Nations” at the conclusion of the present war, shall be reorganized and transformed into a permanent “Supreme Military and Economic Council” collaborating with the World League of Nationalities in post-war reconstruction and to enforce world peace.

Thank God we didn’t lose the War through that sort of “peace”! Even if it meant 50 years of “war”!

Jesusism-Paulism, Part V: The People of the Book

John Boyd, the American Air Force Colonel, wrote that there were five stages to victory. In the first two, Penetration and Isolation, one’s forces enter the enemy’s networks and began tearing it apart. In the last two, Reorientation and Reharmonization, the old world is refashioned in one’s desired image.

There is only one grand choice, but that choice is critical. If, for the third stage, one chooses Subversion, one desires to “take-over” the enemy. The enemy’s house — his many mansions — should be viewed as one’s future property, and so their substance must be preserved while the deed is (re)-written

alpha_chi_ro_omega_md
Victory Through Submission

Christianity, a political philosophy that could accurately be described as Jesusism-Paulism, was designed to Subvert the Roman Empire and seize her institutions in order to remake them. Jesus summed up the essence of subversion — the conquest of force by the service to force — in one line:

If someone [a Roman soldier] forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Matthew 5:41

Of course, there is another strategy. Instead of attempted to take-over, one might take-down. One might Subdue the enemy, destroying what is his, and win through war instead of through peace. Six centuries after Jesus, another Semite elucidated that strategy


Submission Through Victory

It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
The Spoils of War:67

The Rule-Set Revolution of Islam had begun.


Muhammed ibn-Abdullah was clearly aware of Christian victory over the Romans. Muhammed changed two basic strategies of Christianity, by transforming it into a strict monotheism and optimizing it for victory in chaotic conditions. Yet these are details compared to his grandest innovation. Muhammed focused his faith not on the Most High or on His Son, but on a Rule-Set. Islam is, at its core, is not Muahmmed and is not Allah. Islam is the Holy Koran.

Muslims were the first “People of the Book” in all history. The earliest Semites were tribalists who wished for their gods to protect their families, and Judaism falls into this category. Jews may be thought of as People of their Father and Mother. The land of the Jews is given to them because of descent from Abraham:

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Genesis 15:17-21

and his wife, Sarah

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” … Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Genesis 27:15-22

The Christians, meanwhile were the People of the Son

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

Muhammed saw a basic weakness in loyalty to a personality or Holy Family: ruleset corruption.

An essential difference between Christianity and Islam is that the faith of Jesus focused on resiliency while the religion of Muahmmed centered on resilience. Resiliency is “the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.” The Christian takeover of Rome exhibited resiliency because the faith could adapt to problems, through unifying mechanisms such as the Nicene Creed. However, Muhammed wanted Islam to have resilience instead. Resilience, the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered, focuses on recovering the initial form. Christianity as practiced during its take-over of Rome would not be operationally the same as Christianity after the fall of Rome, because the needs of a 4GW force in its early stages are different from the needs of a 4GW army in its later stages. However, Muhammad wanted Islam to be the same everywhere, he made his words into a universal ruleset.

To Christians flexibility was not a problem — only Jesus was the Word of God and revolution could “unfold.” The purpose of Christianity, after all, was not Law but Love, and Love is a magic cloud beyond words, but it is not measurable and not objectively verifiable.

To Muhammed this was a problem. As he said:

Say: “Of your ‘partners’ is there any that can give any guidance towards truth?” Say: “It is Allah Who gives guidance towards truth, is then He Who gives guidance to truth more worthy to be followed, or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? what then is the matter with you? How judge ye?”
Jonah:35

Mohammed was the first theorist in all history to define religion exclusively as rule-set adherence. Jesus and Paul had integrated a 4GW strategy — loving your neighbor — in with faith in order tow in. But Mohammed integrated every strategy into the faith. Contract law, criminal law, family law, even military strategy were elucidated before hand. Mohammed viewed Judaism and Christianity as failed because of the memetic drift they experienced.

Judaism and Christianity both “unfold” over time. Judaism can accurately be described as a Religion of Life because the focus is on the promulgation in this world of offspring of Abraham and Sarah. All Jewish Laws must be interpreted as rules to guide the People of Life. A Jewish Law that works against Life is not, in this context, being properly understood. Christianity can accurately be described as a Religion of Love because the focus in on the promulgation of loving kindness as described by Jesus and Paul. All Christian Laws must be interpreted as guide to the People of Love. A Christian Law that works against Love is not, in this context, being properly understood. In contrast, Islam can accurately be described as a Religion of One Ruleset, the Koran, in opposition to all others. The only proper Rules are those that spread the Ruleset. As a genetic program, Islam is frighteningly advanced.

It is fair to say that Judaism is Tribalist, Christianity is Ideological, and Islam is Totalitarian. Not in some particular implementations, but in their meaning and purpose.

The victories of Islam were swift, and they kept coming. A well evolved super-organism, the Ruleset and its Armies move conquered all of Roman Empire, Roman Iberia, all of Roman Asia outside of Anatolia. Fleets would soon sail to the indies, and assist in the flow of labor from Africa to the empire through slavery.

Much worse for the Christian Revolutionaries, the shattering attacks would not stop. The Cosmopolitan Empire, imperfect as it was, of the Greek Christians would be less and less able to export the security a Cosmopolitan faith like Christianity required. The old Maoism of Greco-Roman Civilization, which Christianity aimed to conquer, would re-emerge and the Western Church would fall pray to the barbaric tribalisms of a petty continent.

Islamic ideals would challenge Christianity as the fumbling counter-insurgency of the Romans never could. Before the Christian Revolutionaries could even calculate their losses, the Islamization of Christianity had begun.

But that is a post for another time…


Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

Short Review of iTunes 7 with Cover Flow

Props to Apple for iTunes 7, the first program with a 3D interface that isn’t terrible.


iTunes 3D: Actually A Good Idea

Generally, 3D is used to increase flashiness and destroy usefulness. From numerous forgetting web browsers to games, such as Half-Life 2 and Warcraft III, designers have labored hard to make programs slower, more sluggish and less user friendly by adding the glitz of the z-axis.

Apple has bucked that trend.

iTunes 7 incorporates a nifty tool that lets you “flip” through albums on your computer, and it will even download album art off of the iTunes store if you do not have it already on your computer. Apple calls this technology “Cover Flow,” and it is an easy, intuitive, and relaxing way of browsing the music you own and what you want to play next.

Be Resilient, Part IV: The Importance of Measurement

SOA, Resiliency & Consiliency,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 16 May 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/05/the_blogger_wig.html.

Child Labor & Resilient Nations,” by Stephen DeAngelis, Enterprise Resilience Management Blog, 7 September 2006, http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/09/child_labor_res.html.

But why measure? Why not just wax poetically about social OODA loops, revised OODA loops, and other unfalsifiable concepts? Just because those are unscientific concepts, of course, do not make them wrong.

Maybe we should just think that

that resilience can’t be developed sector by sector. It must be developed holistically, with challenges in each sector attacked simultaneously. Otherwise, advances in one sector are cancelled out by setbacks in others.

The answer is: a “holistic” view of resilience is operationally worthless. Holism replaces action with an ephemeral philosophy that is not relevant for Development-in-a-Box, or anything “in-a-Box.”

I don’t think I am saying anything controversial here. Enterra CEO Steve DeAngelis, who gave the above quote about holistic approaches, earlier qualified his speech by emphasizing that his words should not be taken precisely

Both Safranski and Weeks are correct that resilience, strictly defined, refers only to a bouncing back. Unfortunately, I live in the business world where words are used to “sell” not just explain. In Enterra Solution sales pitches we try to make the point that resilience (i.e., bouncing back) is no longer sufficient if organizations want to thrive, not just survive, when faced with emerging 21st century challenges.

In business, science, are any progressive enterprise that focuses on development, selling is critical. It is crucial to generate theories and objective facts that can be understood, even without some deeper philosophically harmony between partners.

There are times and places for subjective arguments. I’ve lauded subjective perspectives, such as interpretivism and constructivism, on this blog before. Great scientific theories, such as the Wary Cooperator Model, are built from horizontal thinking. Positivism will never explain everything to us, and it may not even explain much that matters to us. When we try to induce meaning from brute facts we may even be deceived.

But that does not detract from the insistence that developmental, progressive fields of study need measurement. That’s how we build useful bodies of knowledge. That’s how we create useful fields for engineers, such as resilient software development.

That’s how science works.


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Be Resilient, Part III: How to Measure Resiliency

Resilience measures the degree of shock needed to cause a perturbation. Agility measures avoidance of perturbation. Resiliency measures recovery from perturbation.

“Resiliency” has been similarly defined by resiliency.com

Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.

Resiliency is a function of perturbation and is measured in production-factors and time. That is, the concept of “resiliency” only makes sense in the context of the set-back or disaster. So for example, New Orleans may have had very high resiliency against category four hurricanes, but very little resiliency against Katrina-class hurricanes.

Resiliency is a two-dimensional (or co-ordinational) number, with one ordinate measuring time to recovery and the other measuring the amount of labor, capital, and land needed to recover. For instance, say your house burns down and you are cash-rich but uninsured— your resiliency factor may be very good in time but very bad in resources (you can buy a new house in cash, but it will take a significant portion of your resources). Alternatively, take another person who may be cash-poor but well insured. His resiliency would be poor on the time-axis (because he would have to wait for the insurance check to arrive) but very good on the resources side (if the house is insured for replacement value, he may actually earn on the disaster).


Green has gone time-resiliency but Red has more resource-resiliency. How can we tell who has more resiliency?

A draw-back of a two-dimensional measure of resiliency is that it is hard to say which person would have more or less “resiliency.” Because different people will have different indifferent curves. For instance, under depending on indifferent curves used, each of these people may have greater resiliency!


Both Green and Red are on the good side of their private resiliency curves, but how can we tell who has more resiliency?

A single, objective measure of resiliency can be gained by determining a resiliency-value along each point from the resource-intercept (which is determined by how much time-resiliency someone has if he has zero resource-resiliency) and the time-intercept (which is determined by how much resource-resiliency someone has if he has zero-time resiliency). Then, take the area, and you have someone’s (or some organization’s) resiliency number. While one’s resiliency preference may be different from another, a researcher can now measures someone’s total resiliency.

Similarly, when Enterra CEO Stephen DeAngelis discusses “degrees of resiliency” among Muslim charities, the above definition of resiliency gives us a straight-forward way to objectively compare resiliency among Islamic responders.

Of course, why resiliency should be measured is a question for another time…


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Be Resilient, Part II: How to Measure Agility

In the previous post, I measured resilience by the amount of effort required to perturb a system. In this page I will discuss a related element, agility, which is shown by systems that do not experience perturbation in spite of risk factors. For instance, an economy that is extremely dependent to variation in the flow of capital would be a capital-wise non resilient economy. A person who is extremely dependent on nurse for support would be labor-wise a non resilient person. A household that required their home not to be destroyed by a hurricane would be land-wise a non-resilient home.

Yet each of these resilience-challenged entities express agility if they continue successful operation in spite of a perturbation. If the economy keeps humming, if the patient stays alive, if the home does flood in spite of storms, all of them demonstrate agility.

Given that, I will use the following definition

agility, n:
the capacity to enforce the presence or flow of land, labor, or capital such that system perturbations do not result in system transformations

Agility can thus be seen as a form of power over circumstances. A capital-dependent economy can have agility through contracts or a powerful friends (a pillaging army). A labor-dependent patient can have agility through contracts or powerful friends (mafia buddies). A land-dependent family have have agility through contracts or powerful friends (guys strong enough to lift sandbags).

It follows that agility is by nature a social phenomenon that is dependent on the quality of the relationships between an entity and others.

A nation suffering an oil-shock that responds by successfully occupying the striking oil fields, however, would demonstrate agility. (Of course, if that nation occupies the oil wells clumsily and stupidly such that the system changes from one state to another, then no agility is demonstrated).

To measure agility, we take the minimum amount of capital, land, or labor that is required to enforce the flow or presence of the perturbing fluctuation in capital, land, or labor from the amount possessed. For instance, a house during Katrina would not have agility, because it is impossible to trade labor or capital to make up for the fluctuation in land. We might approximate this from a pattern of responses to perturbations. If a patient has experienced a number of nursing strikes, for instance, but has maintained care for himself, then he has a historic record of agility.

Of course, one can have agility but not resiliency, though that is a post for another time…


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement

Be Resilient, Part I: How to Measure Resilience

Factors of Production,” Wikipedia, 14 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factors_of_production.

Resilience,” Wikipedia, 29 August 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resilience.

With Steve’s original post on Singaporean resilience continuing to gain traction (SG Entrepreneurs and China Law Blog have written things not mentioned in my first update), I thought it was time to take a stab at determining what, measurably, is resilience.

First, some definitions, from Wikipedia

resilience, n:
the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered
the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the system changes its structure by changing the variables and processes that control behavior

Resilience thus measures system-perturbation energy. To measure resilience, then, we need to determine what factors into the production of energy in system-perturbations. More generally, this means determining what are the factors of production, and here the answer is easy:

Factors of Production:

    includes Land, which means

  • Physical Territory
  • Natural Resources
  • includes Labor, which means

  • Human Effort
  • includes Capital, which means

  • Machinery
  • Tools
  • Buildings
  • Cash

These can be trivially operationalized — subjected to measurement — and we can answer the question of whether Singapore is resilient by measuring its resiliency in these factors. Working from what seems reasonable, we can say that Singapore is

  • not resilience in Physical Territory, as a small loss of Physical Territory would greatly impact the state
  • resilient in Natural Resources, as Singapore could use other factors (especially cash) to acquire more
  • resilient in human effort, as Singapore has a record of attracting more labor when the State is dissatisfied with her own
  • resilient in Machinery, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Tools, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Buildings, as Singapore can buy more
  • resilient in Cash, as Singapore has enough to cushion most shocks.

Of course, one can have resilience but not resiliency, though that is a post for another time…


Be Resilient, a tdaxp series
1. How to Measure Resilience
2. How to Measure Agility
3. How to Measure Resiliency
4. The Importance of Measurement