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What's going on on AI - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
What's going on on AI
Okay, I've been thinking about this more than I should, basically because of Elton John's accusations of racism in the voting, which I don't think is what's going on, exactly. That the three divas were black isn't as relevant as them all having a "soul" background musically, which could be seen as part of the same root, but I really don't think it is.

Whenever you're dealing with voting rather than judging, you're going to get people going with the "I like that" factor rather than the "That was really technically excellent" factor. I'd say the majority of people are voting that way. I have a feeling the majority of the AI voters are female, though I can't confirm that; it's just a feeling. That none of the men survived is surprising simply because of that fact, but once they were gone, it became largely a question of, "Which one do I want to be like?"

The three competitors who are left this week are each of a different race (black, white, Pacific islander), but more important, they're of different musical personalities. Diana Degarmo is your typical pop princess (though more talented than a Britney Spears, as Diana actually can sing), Jasmine Trias a romantic balladist, and Fantasia Barrino a soul singer. LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson were also soul singers. And in the "I want to be like that" category, soul singing is difficult. You can hum a ballad to yourself while you walk to the bus stop, or bop along to a pop tune, but soul requires your whole attention, so it's hard to daydream, "Wow, I could do that."

At this point, I think we're voting on which sort of music people are drawn to. The Beach Boys were not better than the Beatles who were not better than the Temptations, but people who love beach music will go into ecstasies over the first, British invasion fans are mad for the second, and Motown groupies love the third. (Me, I love all three, so I make a lousy "voter"--I'd vote for all three.) People who like the teen pop sound are going for Diana, people who like Celine Dion-style ballads are going for Jasmine, and soul fans are going for Fantasia.

I don't think there's a way to avoid it, short of, I don't know IMPROVING MUSIC EDUCATION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (you know, so that people can recognize the difference between pretty good pop, mediocre ballad singing, and excellent soul), and even then, you can't avoid people voting their instinctual likes and dislikes about the music. That's the problem with audience voting and it always has been. (Look at presidential elections! People never vote for the guy who seems "too smart" or "like he's not one of us," even though common sense should say, "You know, a smart president would be an excellent idea." So even though only smart men really run for the job successfully, they all play themselves as "jes' folks.")
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chibisophia From: chibisophia Date: May 18th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you it's less a matter of race than it is of style. The three competitors left have fastly different styles; it'll be interesting to see what America prefers. (My money is on Diana.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 18th, 2004 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Fantasia also kind of put people off in early shows with her attitude, though she's done a real turn in the latter half of the season. I think it may still count against her in the likeability game.
chibisophia From: chibisophia Date: May 18th, 2004 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually like her voice, but I think she's going to finish last of these three. I think her earlier attitude will cost her, and the fact that the branch of music she's really good in (soul) just isn't that popular anymore in the states will really hurt her. She's got a nice voice but ultimately the other ladies, I think, are a bit more what the target audience of AI wants to hear.

...I do kinda secretly hope she wins, though.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2004 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
You really think people wouldn't vote for a clever President? askfjakdkak; sjkfbaj I can't believe it...though looking at the state of the country, maybe... :-P

Can I ask, does the President really run the country or does he just look like he does? Does he run the Republican partyWho's the head of the Democrats? It just seems really weird for me to see lots of candidates from the same party running. How do they decide how many of each party get to go into--is it Senate or Congress? Could there be a Republican president while there were more Democrats sitting in government? I just can't understand your system (by the looks of 2000, there were some people in Florida in the same boat :-D)
Separating your figurehead of state from your actual run-the-country guy like the British and the Irish saves so much chopping and changing. Lucky you don't change the coins, isn't it?

Oh, and the Beatles own the Beach Boys and the Tempations. *g* < /genuine Brit>
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah. American civics.

It's a three-branched government with all three branches checking and balancing one another. The President is the head of the executive branch the titular head of state, but he can be (and often is) over-ridden by the legislative and/or judicial branches. It's a system that's explicitly designed to jam up the gears any time there's controversy.

The parties really only matter inasmuch as they fund elections and keep things semi-organized. We don't have anything resembling proportional representation--it's done geographically, which I like because it means that every politician is answerable to at least some people who think he's dead wrong on every issue. It helps avoid extremism.

There's no question of "How many per party..." are in any particular branch. It's every man for himself when it comes to the elections. If the majority of states elect two Democrats to the Senate, then there will be a Democratic majority. A person might switch parties while in office. (A Vermont senator did so.) People elect the individual, not the party, and a lot of people in the parties don't vote party-line. The president is the only position that's voted on nationally; the others are all statewide (Senators) or regional (Congressmen). Judges are appointed by the president and approved by both houses of congress. Sometimes, you end up with a Republican president and a Democratic congress and the appointment of judges becomes a political pissing contest.

Of course, there are other parties who occasionally take a stab at things, and some are elected. There are also people who are elected without being in a party at all, though that's difficult since the party system provides most of the organization.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2004 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Noproportional representation? So you mean a state gets the same number of representaties regardless of population?

So how do they decide stuff if they're not acting as a party? Is the president's policy just up to him?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The two houses of the legislature are meant to balance the difference between states of different sizes. The Senate is equal representation of each state (two senators each), while the House of Representatives is determined by the states' populations (as determined by the census). It was a big issue at the beginning, with small states afraid they would be overwhelmed by large states, and large states feeling that their populations would feel cheated if a handful of people somewhere else could sway decisions that effected their lives. So they came up with the bicameral system where both philosophies were represented.

The other population issue is in the presidential election, which, while national, isn't strictly majority vote. Each state, based on its population, gets a certain number of "electoral votes," and that's why battles over places like Florida tend to get heated--all of Florida's electoral votes would go to the person who won that state, no matter what the margin of victory was. (The people are the check and balance on the government; the electoral system is the check and balance on the people. The founding fathers didn't trust the mob any more than they trusted royalty.)

So how do they decide stuff if they're not acting as a party?

As individuals. Generally, they'll have joined a party because they believe in its general principles, so they're likely to vote in that direction. But if at a key point they disagree with their party, they vote their consciences, or their constituents' wishes. Or, of course, they vote by the mutual hand-washing societies that exist in any voting body.

Is the president's policy just up to him?

Pretty much, though he has a cabinet to advise him, and the legislature must approve policies (as Clinton found out with his health care plan). Generally, the policy is formed during years working with a party and reflects that viewpoint, but again, it may differ on many key points.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Just to continue (had to switch computers), I mean we have no proportional representation by party, as in, "The Democrats have x number of seats because the party one in so many places." Like I said, there is some size proportion in the House and the electoral college system. However, this doesn't guarantee anything about the parties--New York state, for instance, has 29 representatives, which I think break down to 11 Republicans and 18 Democrats (though I might have miscounted on the screen). My state of Massachusetts has ten representatives, all democrats. California, the biggest (I think) with 53 has a fairlly even mix, and New Mexico (which is huge physically but has a small population) is two out of three Republican at present, but tends to shift back and forth.

I think where the mind boggles is that states are very concerned about their sovereignty even now and were moreso when the Constitution was written. They were entirely separate entities as colonies, in a kind of voluntary confederation, and there was much hesitation about having a strong central government at all. Why should people in South Carolina tell Vermonters what to do? This extreme a position, of course, came to a head in the Civil War, when the northern states decided that slavery was evil and should be outlawed in all the country, and the southern states violently balked, crying "States' rights!" It proved, in the end, that the Union idea was stronger... but man alive, the south still is not thrilled to have given up sovereignty. (It could have been avoided altogether, of course, if they'd just realized the northerners were right. :YankeeGrumble:)

There've been attempts, on and off, to undermine the regional system by re-zoning so that some particular ideology has an area where it's a majority, but this has, on the whole, been rejected. It frustrates people who haven't been able to successfully sell their points of view, and of course it ends up with exactly what the opponents of the two-major-party system accuse it of: Two parties that really aren't all that different from one another. Why? Because the population is spread out, and they have to appeal to wide groups of people. A third party can make a dent. Jesse Ventura ran for the governorship of Minnesota (and won) as an independent. Ross Perot started a new party and would have made a damned good run at the Presidency if he hadn't started coming apart at the seams under the campaign pressure and pretty much proven to be an unstable lunatic. Nothing to do with the concept of starting a new party, though--it can be done. It just needs a base of support.

thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2004 10:47 am (UTC) (Link)
It still seems a bit unfair...not to mention confusing.
Still, it looks like you have lots to grumble about, which is the main point of a govenment really, isn't it? :-p
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: May 19th, 2004 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is there away to watch American Idol throug hthe internet? I" mcurosu sicne you mentioned this .because overh ere it seems it's amater of how many girls watch, as in girls wh oare the types to go for boys bands and so forth. adn than yo uget a spit between those who LOVE the ugy and pick a favourite, and those who see the femalesand thi kn"I want to be like her". al lin all our finale was between a girl and a guy adn though the gu yws a fantastic singer, it turned out he had alot of experience already i nmsuic business (ieven heard thatthe judges knew hi malready beforeh e started this.0 and he jsut won. problab ybecause he had so man fnagirls?

Hmmm..thisis the tenth tiem I've been readign explanatory political stuff andI stil dont' get it. Please dont' try a one-on-oen with me abouthtat because I got lost with te syste mof primaries that somene literally had to go over with me about fifty times whenever we tried to discuss it. it's a kidn of logic I jsut dont' get. )either that or I'm stilll not over the horrible tendency to simply loose track adn then let the line slip adn jsut run out in panic.)
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