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Follow the instructions, and make a modest donation (e.g. $10 is truly appreciated; $20 will probably be appreciated more)
Since most folks that I know haven’t heard of Miraheze (and probably aren’t sure how to pronounce it), I’m not entirely going to blame you for not racing to donate. I might be quietly judging you, but I won’t be blaming you. 😉 Seriously, though, if you’re willing to trust me and donate to Miraheze, you don’t need to read the rest of this.
Why am I doing asking you to donate to Miraheze? Well, it’s a lo-o-o-n-n-ng story, full of tangents. That story goes back to 1994…
In January 2016, before either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump had secured their nominations, I posted an article on Daily Kos titled “What Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common”. Since Republicans hadn’t settled on Trump yet, many Democrats were not-so-secretly hoping that Trump would win the nomination. I felt pretty alone in suggesting that Trump might not merely win the primary, but he might even be able to win the general election. That filled me with dread, but took comfort in the conventional wisdom of the day that Trump couldn’t win.
The comparison of Carter to Trump in 2016 still holds true today in 2017. Though that gave me dread in 2016, it gives me hope looking forward to the 2018 election. Let’s revisit the topic, because the subsequent election of 1980 holds lessons about 2020 that feel less dreadful IF we learn from history.
Departed deity that was in charge in the receding party’s glory days 1976 : FDR (Democratic President: 1933–1945)
2016 : Reagan (Republican President: 1981–1989)
Party with receding wave 1976 : Democrats (New Deal)
2016 : Republicans (supply-side economics)
With Smarsh, it’s different. She grew up in Kansas, which is culturally/linguistically not much different from where I grew up (all over the U.S. west), where my mom grew up (midway between Omaha and Kansas City), and where much of my extended family still is (Kansas City area). As my mom would point out, modern newscasters (of the day) treated the Nebraska accent as a “neutral” accent — and many TV celebrities like Johnny Carson and David Letterman benefited from their upbringing in neutral accent territory.
It may be that my western upbringing is the reason why I don’t detect an appreciable accent, but others would. The only regional aspects of my younger accent that I’m aware of dropping is referring to carbonated beverage as “pop” (I say “soda” now) and treating “pen” and “pin” as homophones (not anymore). Given how minor the changes to my speech have been since moving to the west coast (living in either Seattle or San Francisco since 1993), I haven’t considered my accent to have changed much since I was young.
In the past few years, I’ve gotten more comfortable speaking warmly of my humble-ish upbringing. Further more, I’ve happily adopted “y’all” in spite of not growing up using the phrase. Some of my fondest memories of my dad were of his cowboy-culture way of talking, which wasn’t that different than the cattle cop highlighted on Planet Money a few years ago. Whenever something would splash all over the place, Dad frequently said it “splattered like a cow pissing on a rock”. He implored me to be more mindful by telling me to “get your head out of your ass”. He frequently claimed that many politicians were “crookeder than a dog’s hind leg”. I’ve carried some of his cowboy-isms forward, but I don’t have the same cowboy cred that he did. Plus, I’m prouder of the fact that I was occasionally able to beat Mom at Scrabble in her prime, and pretty sure that anyone reading this would have had about as tough of a time doing it as I did, no matter how much of a smartypants you think you are.
Listening to Smarsh talk about the assumptions that people seemed to make about her that she ascribed to her accent, it makes me wonder: am I deaf to her accent because of my similar upbringing? Do I have a “western” or “midwestern” accent that might have caused the kinds of discrimination they discuss in this show? Have I just been luckier than Smarsh, or am I just blind to being treated like I just fell off the turnip truck?
I just set up a mock election on Selectricity, just to see what it could do, and was pleasantly surprised that they created a very simple interface for creating Schulze/Condorcet elections that pretty much anyone can use. I tried getting to this point a few years ago with Electowidget, but sadly didn’t get to a usable enough place (nor a maintainable enough site).
Yale economist Bob Shiller says in the weekend issue of Barron’s that he’s still looking for 20-30% housing price declines over the next 5-10 years — including in untouchable cities like San Francisco and New York (and I’ll include Vancouver)
Apparently, Mayor Nickels plans to propose a parking tax for downtown Seattle to fund transportation. Fantastic! That means that the people who commute to downtown from Issaquah or wherever pay some for Seattle transportation (as they should) whereas those of us who live and work in Seattle aren’t getting disproportionately taxed.
I’m a big supporter of moving back to a 28 year maximum term on copyrights. I’ve been thinking about how to describe that, and I think I’ve come up with one way of doing it. Rupert Holmes would still be able to earn a living off of his 1979 hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, but Debby Boone would just now be asked to hop off of the “You Light Up My Life” gravy train that left the station in the fall of 1977. I think that that’s more than enough economic motivation society should provide to ensure the creation of such … (ahem) … classics.
It seems that whenever Bush or the Republicans trot out the phrase “playing politics”, they really mean “thinking critically”. Just visit the following links, and replace the phrase “playing politics” with “thinking critically” to see what I mean.
Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are [thinking critically] with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that’s irresponsible. President Delivers Remarks at Elmendorf AFB on War on Terror
I’m sure there are other substitutions that can be made, for “sending mixed signals” and “rewriting the past”. In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s possible to translate Bush-speak into something intelligible. Heh…nevermind…I can’t believe I just said that.
Electowidget isn’t designed for secure public elections. Rather, it’s designed for the types of informal polls and elections that currently happen on wikis today. It’s also designed as a tool to help election theorists provide comparitive examples of how a given result will be tabulated comparing multiple different systems.
All data is stored on wiki pages, in JSON format, and some parts of the system currently require you to get your hands dirty editing JSON. My next step is to hide as much of the JSON away from the end user as possible, so that editing raw JSON
isn’t necessary. One nice bit about JSON is that it’s a very machine-friendly format, so I don’t anticipate that step being too tough to accomplish.
The ultimate goal is to make a library that can plugged into most any CMS or other PHP application. A lot of the functionality is already such that this is possible.
This work is seemingly unrelated to my work on Spectaclar (user management project), but there is a tie-in. I’ve done some initial work on a CMS-independence layer which can be helpful in porting plugins to different CMS systems. I haven’t decided yet just how far I’ll take this, but I keep this idea in the back of my mind whenever I’m in that part of the code.
Anyway, I hope people find this useful. I anticipate it’ll be useful for at least some of the things I’m doing, so I suppose that’s good enough for me.