Archives, page 10

How I voted 2018
Date: 2018-Nov-06 23:22:10 EST

Ballot Measures

  • Yes to Ballot Measure 1, to reduce contribution maxes to campaigns for city offices. I did this because I think funding is an unfortunate side of our politics and I believe this ballot measure would help fight that
  • No to Ballot Measure 2, which creates a new institution for civic engagement. I don't trust how this institution would be formed, and feel that like community boards, it would be another fake representation.
  • Reluctant yes on Ballot Measure 3, which limits tenure on community boards. I want to abolish CBs or make them elected. This is a second best.
US Senate
  • Yes to Gillibrand. I find her views broadly acceptable and believe her to be competent
  • No to Farley. She's a Trump supporter, and is also heavy on the pro-Israel stuff. Both are in my view really bad.
US House District 12 (no vote)
  • Maloney - Bad on foreign policy, iffy on domestic
  • Rabin - Is a fucking clown
  • Hutchins - Is clueless
Governor - Miner
  • Cuomo - Absolutely not for many reasons
  • Molinaro - He's undereducated. No.
  • Hawkins - Lots not to lick but not terrible
  • Miner - Looks actually pretty good
Atty General - Sussman
  • James - I am very wary of her stances on illegal immigration, I like her salary history ask ban, she's generally a mixed bag
  • Wofford - Doesn't seem to have many public positions
  • Sliwa - Excessive focus on animal rights. Regardless of how I feel about that stance, the job is far bigger than that
  • Sussman - Looks to be a moderate Dem running on a Green platform. I can support him with no regrets
Comptroller - Trichter
  • I have no strong opinions on either of them after having done some research, and when that's the case my belief that offices should regularly transition between parties decides it
My selection criteria are, for future reference (no provided examples are exhaustive):
  • Has the campaign or individual had major ethical breaches as part of this campaign or earlier-if-unrepentant-or-unpunished? If so, I cannot vote for them
  • If the candidate is unqualified for their role and their opponent is not, I cannot vote for them (this includes no particular expertise or not having a respectable education)
  • If the candidate has a poor grasp on reality (conspiracy theories, is antivax or christian scientist, disbelieves global warming, believes in astrology, is a young-earth creationist), I cannot vote for them
  • If the candidate regularly insults people they disagree with, uses schoolyard insults, frequently threatens lawsuits, is generally petty, or can't accept criticism (think Trump, Elon Musk, and others like this), I cannot vote for them
  • If the candidate has a particularly disorganised demeanor, has a history of breaking the law, not paying bills, or otherwise is not particularly responsible, I cannot vote for them
  • If the candidate has a strong obsession with certain topics (you never hear them talk about anything else), I cannot vote for them
  • If the candidate's ability to delegate and give credit to underlings is poor, or they look like they'd be a bad or abusive boss, I cannot vote for them. This includes public statements that make it hard to believe they'd treat both genders the same in the workplace, as well as a tendency or history of romantic involvement with people beneath them in the org chart
  • If the candidate does not take a fairly hardline perspective in favour of free speech (even for views very different than theirs), I cannot vote for them.
  • If the candidate is heavy into identity politics, wants reparations, calls people racist without really strong evidence, persecutes other definitions of gender, or on the other hand is in favour of violence or prison for non-straight people and actions, or is into persecuting people over religious matters, I cannot vote for them.
Once all those filters are done, I look for competence, relevant skill, and finally broader ideological compatibility. I can't guarantee the list above includes all my red lines, but it includes most of them.

Post election
Date: 2018-Nov-07 06:51:55 EST

Yesterday I got notice that one of my two VPCs was sending out email spam. Highly embarrassing, but I think it was likely due to some somewhat lax configuration I did on the older host allowing SMTP relaying from anywhere provided the from address was mine. And so, horrifyingly, people were sending spam with my old from address, including some extortion attempts that were naturally demanding payment to bitcoin. Ick. I suppose the only bright point is that when I was pointing out that this *would* happen many years ago, some of the people I was arguing with demanded concrete data. And so years later, I could provide it if I could remember who they were and if I were still in touch with them (I probably am not). Yeah, this happens a lot, and I'm left with a lot more "I told you sos" without memory of whom to give them to.

We have preliminary election results; looks like Repubs won a few senate seats, Dems won enough house seats to take it back. Beto didn't quite beat Cruz. Unsurprisingly, Cortez got her House seat and I'm wondering whether she'll turn out to be radical or reasonable.

Other takes:

  • I'm intrigued at the renaming scuffle around Boy Scouts of America. Will be interesting to see, now that the two orgs are losing the key dividers that meant they were never competing for the same members, how things work out going forward
  • This first answer to "Why won't slack let me disable at-channel, on Stack Overflow, is some of the most amazing nonsense I've ever seen. Somehow the answerer looked over a description of how things work with Slack and decided that it is some contract, and that allowing it to be disabled would break the contract. Yikes. I've sometimes come across people who make this particular kind of logical leap before. Seems to be a tendency in how some small portion of the population thinks.
  • Some neat discussion on mapping technologies between Google Maps and Apple Maps. From a cartography blogger, which is one of the more awesome things I can think of
  • I support Hungary's ban on sleeping outdoors in cities. I think it's generally good policy, provided that cities provide shelters with sufficient capacity to house everyone. I think it works out better both for society at large and for the homeless that they're not just wandering the streets or sleeping wherever they can.
  • While I became disenchanted with TED some years back, I appreciate the tack TED takes here relating to mockery of their mission - they've selected their favourite parodies and talked about why they actually would not make good TED talks; it's amusing to read, makes good points, and talks about the quality bar they're aiming for. Which is pretty perfect for responding to criticism. Largely because the actual solid critique of TED, as far as I'm concerned, is really hard to make funny. The problem being that ideas, or their brief takeaways, are not nearly as important as TED portrays them as, and while they may make a certain kind of go-getter feel good, they're actually wasting people's time by drawing attention away from the boring things that actually lead to good results - a steady hand, sober analysis, the right backdrop, and a lot of work.

Slow sapping
Date: 2018-Nov-16 04:09:34 EST

It feels like today we suddenly entered winter; the walk to work was chilly, and partway through the day, during a talk on efficiency in olfactory encoding, I spotted the first snow of the year in NYC out the window. I held the third NYCCHAOS meeting after work, and then afterwards went out to a world of slush and light snow; was cold enough by the time I made it home that stepping inside felt like a huge win. Right now there's intense wind outside the window and I feel the building is not quite managing to stay warm enough; I will need to remove the AC unit from the window soon to get a better seal.

I'm still disappointed in my inability to get more turnout for my meetup. This time there was bad weather, but even had there not been I still imagine I would not have gotten too many.

I feel strange about the passage of the seasons - how strongly I forget during the middle seasons how hot summer is and how cold winter. There's enough time, but I still feel that the cycles over the years would end this visceral shift through the fog of memory and leave a lasting emotional impression of the seasons. Maybe that only seems to make sense and I'm seduced by my own poetry into hand-waved imagined meaning.

I have so much to do. Need to actually spend time doing the things I tell myself are important.

Some takes:

  • As always, I am appalled at how incompetent our current president is. Failing to get used to it.
  • Not sure why it's on the BBC, but this is a nice set of thoughts on the Peanuts comic strip
  • I'm intrigued by this read of the anti-pornography movement, and hope it's actually an obituary for activism on this front. As I think porn is free expression and healthy, even though most forms of its production have some very serious issues.
  • I'm glad to see at least one European nation taking violence and persecution against gays as a blocker for foreign aid.
  • I'm not sure what to think about redoing HTTP to work over a different protocol than TCP. Is that fundamental kind of network replumbing worth it given the enormous installed base and body of software designed to work with it? Maybe we're better off sticking with HTTP 1.1 forever. Although the new technology does seem well-thought-out.
  • Recently one of the other meetups I sometimes goes to mentioned hiddentribes, a website that tries to estimate which tribe we're in as individuals. I was measured by its questionaire as a Traditional Liberal, which maybe I have the most similarity to culturally, but in a lot of specifics I don't think I actually fit (being socialist, for example). Still, it's fairly rough-grained.
  • I feel weird about this message from Lessig on Beto, primarily because I think it's trying to draw really big conclusions from a fairly tight race. I think any time someone's doing that, they're usually making a mistake; if a race is close, then most points one can make about feasability are naturally weak because either result was feasable.
  • This kind of thing is tragic - I refuse to blame the technology; I think the culture must change, and for it to do so there must be a public education campaign combined with very strict, very visible consequences for people inciting as well as following that incitement.

Recapture and Refailure
Date: 2018-Nov-17 22:35:30 EST

I had a conversation with my officemate about playing music recently - he's slightly older than I am, and has a background in databases and data visualisation. During it I remembered all the times I saw my dad playing piano when I was growing up - learning to do some jazz pieces and to play some Ragtime tunes. He went off in some different directions than I did - learned trombone and other "band" instruments and played in some Yugoslavian bnad (we have no such roots but he liked the company) in town, while I focused much more on orchestra, although the piano is a strong overlap, as well as an interest in more theoretical (or at least more generic, like beat and tone) aspects of music. Over much of my adult life, access to a piano has been fairly rare, but on occasion I had prolonged access, I've really enjoyed it, and often have eventually meandered into improvising new rag tunes. The conversation made me realise how much I missed it, and how frustrating it is not to be able to fit a piano into a NYC apartment. My officemoate noted that a lot of keyboards nowadays are very different than decades past and actually feel like real pianos. He suggested a place to check out. And on my way there I called my dad, who was also thinking about buying a nice keyboard (I've ceased to be surprised at odd similarities between my patterns of thought and my father's; when we share so much genetically and he provided at least a slice of my upbringing, despite not having been around that much and also being a bit on the reclusive side, examples abound. My father recommended a brand and a style, I went there, and after trying them out (yes, the key response is nearly perfect on these), I picked one. Great success.

Except. I then got a reminder that I'm not in my 20s anymore (or my 30s), in that lugging it home was very difficult, involving lots of breaks. After making it most of the way there, I found the weight on the box (in kilos), translated it to pounds, and .. yeah. about 90 pounds. I at least felt less bad about having a tough time. Age may not always be kind to me (although my gym time is helping), but this is heavier than most things I've struggled with, and the handles (made of tape and plastic bags, that a store employee built for me) were very point rather than distributed, and the whole thing interfered enough with normal walking that I tired more quickly. Getting it up to the 5th floor was also rough. Still, looking forward to when I have the energy to take it into the den, find a place for it, and get started. Yeah! Might even fit into some of my plans for Arietta, which now that I have the domain, I've been working out the website content. But really I mostly just want to play some rag.

I've also been reading up on things like functional and nonfunctional harmony, and checking out some musicians like Merle Travis and Bill Evans that've done some neat things with harmony and rhythm.

In art, I've recently become fascinated with the works of George Ault.

A few takes:

  • Amazon's "second HQ" is to be split, half of it going to Long Island City. My thoughts on this are complex. I don't really like Amazon as a company anymore (they ruined Whole Foods, they treat a lot of their low-end workers badly, and they engage in anticompetitive behaviour on their main store - not selling google products that compete with their digital platforms), despite them making some products I like (parts of AWS). I'm happy to see more tech growing outside of silicon valley, in particular in NYC, and I think it's wise they're ignoring people complaining that the city is full or somesuch rubbish - making a HQ where nobody wants to live (or does live) is stupid. Opening up shop in Pittsburgh makes sense, but Trenton would not. All that said, I really dislike that Amazon got some tax exemptions and other goodies from both cities that got half of its HQ2, and I think that should actually be banned (drafting the right laws to do that is hard but worthwhile, I think).
  • I haven't been impressed with what little I've seen of Cortez in her new office. At least on first glance she's much more populist than I'd like, an example being on how to arrange the committtes to deal with climate change where she's pushed for a structure mostly on the basis of the specifics having been in her platform, despite it having been made clear that the existing committee structure would likely do a better job. If she disagreed with that assessment that'd be one thing, but it's not acceptable that she's sticking to it just because she ran on it.