Sunday, November 03, 2019

Washington General Election 2019

There's direct democracy... and then this ridiculous ballot.

THIRTY THREE separate votes to make. Of these:
  • 12 Advisory Votes. These are decisions that were already made, and the results of the vote has will not change the decision in any way. I'm not being sarcastic, the result of the vote is not used in any way. It's interesting as a forced broadcast mechanism about tax changes, but from a voting standpoint is, literally, pointless.
  • 16 county bureaucrat positions, of which 7 are uncontested. Seriously, you think I have enough opinions about the Commissioner of the wastewater district to write in a new candidate? Only one of the positions is even partisan.
But hidden in the second page, is a full-on constitutional amendment. That's some clever obfuscation

Referendum Measure 88: Bring back affirmative action

The state Democratic party has always liked affirmative action, and was rather miffed when the people passed I-200 to ban preferential treatment. And thus why this is a "Referendum Measure"; this is what happens when the legislature attempts to pass an initiative without a vote. But it got noticed, and a vote was forced.

Objectively, affirmative action is state-sponsored discrimination. If used carefully with the right intent in the right venues, it's discrimination that can be used to remedy historical injustice and support groups that are disadvantaged to this day. But it's still discrimination. In this case, discrimination in the exclusive hands of a "Governor's Commission", a group that has no reason not to apply it's power broadly, indiscriminately, and in a politically biased manner.

The law asserts that it does not allow quotas or preferential treatment:
Under I-1000, quotas and preferential treatment are prohibited, and no one who is unqualified will be selected due to preferential treatment.
However the text seems to rely on a very narrow definition of preferential treatment for this protection, that could be trivially circumvented, and relies on partisan parties to enforce it. It seems like any protections against diversity quotas would be quickly rendered moot.

Proponents argue that something must be done to remedy ongoing discrimination in our society, and I agree wholeheartedly. Where I disagree is in the false dichotomy that the only way to eliminate discrimination is to apply reverse discrimination, and that we have accept this practice without any meaningful safeguards against abuse.


Initiative Measure No. 976: Or why your car tabs are so expensive

Yes, our vehicle registration fees are ridiculously high. I just cracked $1000/yr on the Tesla.

But registration taxes are progressive; they tax owners of newer and more expensive cars far more than older cheaper cars, and direct funds towards infrastructure needed by all citizens (roads and transit). The money has to come from somewhere. If not here, then it's going to be a property tax increase, or *gasp* a state income tax. Want to sign us up for that?

I can support changing the valuation mechanism for vehicles, though realistically it doesn't matter. If they change the appraisal outcomes, the tax rate will just adjust to match.


Senate Joint Resolution 8200: Washington watches too much Designated Survivor.

The continuity of government rules in the State constitution allows government to fill vacancies as necessary in case of an enemy attack. At the time, the concern was Cuban missiles blowing up Olympia. Washington now admits that a giant earthquake or tsunami or volcano is a far more likely disaster than a bunch of us hippies getting nuked, and want to add "catastrophic incidents" to the definition.

Could "catastrophic incidents" be redefined and abused? Maybe. But it's no worse than "enemy attack" (see also: any Jack Ryan movie). Anyways, the powers Section 42 establishes in such cases are specific around continuity of government; the focus on vacancies makes these powers only slightly useful.


County Nonbinding Advisory Proposition No. 1: Ban Fireworks in Urban Areas.

Non-binding because they already know the answer will be no.

I get it, July 4th is miserable for firefighters, because we keep lighting each others' roofs on fire.

But fireworks are fun, and unincorporated county is the last bastion of freedom given how City Councils micromanage the existence of their residents.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Home Display Setup

Here's my display board. It's in the hallway to the family room. It is currently showing:
  • Daily agenda, including chores list.
  • Multi-week family calendar.
  • Clock.
  • Thermostat.
  • 4-day weather forecast.
This was initially inspired by the DakBoard 24" display, but I figured I could do better than the $349 retail price by building it myself.

Hardware shopping list:
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Pi Zero W is not by any means a powerful device for GUI; if you want to YouTube or use other rich media, it may be time to upgrade to one of the more powerful devices. But it's cheap, and works great for DakBoard.

  • DakBoard. You can do a simple site for free, but for $5.95 a month, you can get a premium account with a lot more customization. Admittedly, with a bit of HTML, one could accomplish the same thing for free, but DakBoard's customization tools are actually pretty cool.
  • Google Calendar. We created two shared calendars - one for family schedule, one for family chores. The separate calendars allow me to show the chores on the agenda without putting it on the calendar view.
  • Google Photos. Because seriously, what else would you use? I have a shared album with my display photos, that goes not only to my large display, but also to all the Google Home smart displays in the house.
  • Nest Thermostat integration.
Setting up a Raspberry Pi is a whole separate topic. I'll share if people have questions.