Saturday, February 19, 2005

What Kind of Dog are You?


A daft on-line quiz now making the rounds allowed me to answer the question: What Kind of Dog are You?. (Siberian Husky married to a Shetland Sheepdog, in case you couldn't tell. A mutt you can depend on, with the added bonus of being edible when your pemmican runs out.)

The quiz determines your breed by asking about various attributes. Since there are a lot of options, you shouldn't have to worry about coming up Chihuahua, but if you do, you can retake the test.

Maybe someday I'll get around to creating the political equivalent of this quiz, but meanwhile, a blogger has started a list of variants on Blue and Yellow Dog Democrats. Blue Dogs are fiscally conservative House Democrats who want to bring the party back to the center and have good working relationships with Republicans. The group began in 1995, adopting the name because their "moderate-to-conservative-views had been 'choked blue'" by their party. (Yellow Dog Democrats would sooner vote for mangy, three-legged yellow dog than vote for a Republican.)

For most Americans, figuring out our breed is purely for entertainment, because after a couple generations, we're mongrels. Evolutionarily and politically speaking, this is not a bad development — assuming, of course, evolution is for real. We live mostly non-ideological lives and agree it is not a good idea to marry our cousins. But our elections, and increasingly our government, seem to offer up only two choices — the Dingocrats and Repuglicans — yapping at each other across the yard, with Joe Lieberman trotting back and forth looking for a safe place to pee. Cross-breeding is certainly not an option.

It's not that we're all in the middle. We're all over the map. An article by Mark Satin, Our next foreign policy needs to learn from ALL of us, talks about all the ways of looking at foreign policy that both are true and limited. He poses 26 ways of looking at the world. "Eight are radical, eight moderate, eight conservative, and two indeterminate."

His site, The Radical Middle, is a tad garish visually and somewhat self-promotional, but it's an essential resource that pulls together thinkers who are working at the same stuff we are here.

As long as we're on the topic, here are some other online tools that deal with finer political shading.

Political Compass presents six sets of questions, and then plots your political position on an Authoritarian/Libertarian, Right/Left axis. I'm not sure what to do with the knowledge that I'm similar to Gandhi and not to Hitler, but it's relief to finally have a second opinion.

Where Do You Stand? is a 10-question, multiple-choice quiz I developed a few weeks back as a way to ponder some real-life situations, the kind of things we'd be more likely to face personally than, say, stopping Iran from developing nukes. For example:

You're the director of a struggling non-profit trying to fill a key staff position. A black man with some of the required skills applies, but he lacks others and would require a lot more of your time to train compared to others. Your mission preaches diversity, but the small staff is all-white. Do you:

A) Hire him and make the extra effort to mentor him, knowing his failure could put the organization at risk.
B) Hire the best qualified candidate without feeling guilty.
C) Turn him down, but give him feedback on the skills and experience he needs in order to qualify for a similar position.
D) Treat him like all the other unsuccessful applicants.

The point is not getting a score, but to consider choices we might make, as well as the inadequacy of ideology when we're actually dealing with fellow human beings.

NationStates is the creation of novelist Max Barry, who developed it to promote his book, Jennifer Government. Barry published his first novel under the name Maxx Barry, because he "thought it was a funny joke about marketing and failed to realize everyone would assume he was a pretentious asshole."

Jennifer Government is a satirical look at corporate statism. Two global affiliates, named Nike and McDonalds, maneuver for control of the planet. It's funnier than I will make it sound here, better than an airplane book, but not 1984, either.

As Barry describes the game, "The left/right scale isn't used in NationStates. Because it's one-dimensional, it's not a very accurate way of measuring your politics. NationStates has three main scales: personal, economic, and political. In each case, you can be authoritarian (moral, or restrictive) or libertarian (liberal, or laissez-faire). For example, someone with left-wing politics might want high levels of personal freedom (e.g. no drug laws, gay rights), low levels of economic freedom (e.g. taxes, welfare), and average levels of political freedom (e.g. compulsory voting at elections). A libertarian might prefer high levels of freedom on all scales. An authoritarian might want the opposite."

The promotional strategy has since taken on a life of its own, with players developing their own community around the basic game. I've just created my own country, the Republic of Ambition and Tolerance, and may post about its fate as the simulation develops.


Blogger bob said...

Dingocrats and Repuglicans....hehehe

I'm a Bernese Mountain Dog myself. Although I think I'm looking more like a Bloodhound everyday.

8:17 PM  

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