🎵 Music of the Week: W42, 2018

This week brings Local H to the blog. Formed in 1990 in Illinois, Local H has been pumping out music for many years. In fact, they’re still releasing new music as evidenced by ‘Innocents’ in the playlist below (released Aug 14, 2018).

‘Bound For The Floor’ was in my top-10 rotation in 8th/9th grade and was burned to many, many CDs. Nowadays I find myself listening to their cover of TV On The Radio’s ‘Wolf Like Me’.

🧠 TIL the owner of In-N-Out is not very charitable

In-N-Out, the company that prints Christian bible verses on their product packaging, is owned by a person who does not follow the teachings of that bible they quote. Lynsi Snyder, the 36-year old billionaire heir to the In-N-Out empire, was recently given a score of 1 out of 5 for philanthropy by the Forbes 400 list. That’s the lowest score Forbes gives to the people they rank.

What people do with their money is up to them. However, when you claim to be such a strong follower of a religion that you print that religion’s beliefs on your company’s products, the stench of hypocrisy is impossible to overlook when you ignore one of the central tenants of that religion.

Lynsi Snyder – Forbes 400 [Forbes]

🤬 Police are untouchable

In July 2015 a pregnant woman named Mara Mancini heard a commotion outside of her home in Indianapolis. She stepped out onto her front porch to investigate and that’s when a police dog from the Indianapolis Police Department ran up and severely mauled her.

The mauling left here with irreparable nerve damage to her arm which has seriously impaired its ability to function. The medical bills from multiple surgeries to fix the damage have forced Mancini into bankruptcy and the pain medications she took caused her son to be born with a drug dependency.

Instead of owning their actions, the Indianapolis Police Department denied all responsibility in the mauling. Mancini then sued the department for violating her Constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment, arguing that the attack violated her right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Last week a judge ruled on the case that Mancini’s 4th Amendment rights were not violated because the police dog was not intentionally directed to attack her. Rather, she was considered an unintended bystander. Using this same line of reasoning, the police can legally shoot anyone as long as the shot was not intentionally directed at the person it hits.

This story is nothing less of disgusting and is an excellent example of how both the American judicial and law enforcement systems are broken. It is also one more example of how police are untouchable when it comes to legal accountability.

Judge: Police dog attack didn’t violate woman’s rights [AP News}

🤬 I am confused about tsunamis

Last week, Indonesia experienced a tsunami after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred near the island of Sulawesi. While the death toll is still rising, it currently stands at 844 people. Regardless of the viewpoint assumed, this event is incredibly sad and horrible.

However, I want to ask a question from my privileged, first-world, well-educated, wealthy-white-male perspective: Why are so many people in tsunami-prone areas ignorant of the danger present in the minutes and hours following an earthquake???

Tsunamis have been occurring for as long as the Earth has held enough water to form oceans, well before the appearance of land animals let alone human beings. After modern humans showed up on the scene, it did not take long for them to understand the danger tsunamis posed and when they were likely to occur. There are many examples from cultures around the planet which explain the danger of tsunamis. From folklore to proverbs, different cultures have used different mechanisms to teach their people about how to avoid tsunamis when they occur. Some of these warning are literally carved in stone. The point I am trying to make is that knowledge about tsunamis has been held for thousands of years, well before computers and modern communications.

If knowledge about tsunamis has been held and well-disseminated for thousands of years, why are hundreds of people killed by tsunamis when they occur? Why do these unfortunate people think that they do not need to avoid low-lying land after strong earthquakes? Do I hold a misunderstanding about just how well known tsunami danger is in developing countries?

👍 California voting guides for 2018 election

The 2018 mid-term elections are happening in about one month. Do you know how you are going to vote?

Note: Check whether you are currently registered to vote using the California Voter Status page. Additionally, you can use the site to check on the status of your ballot from previous votes.

When I first started voting, like many others I would simply show up at the polls, put a checkmark next to anyone with a D next to their name, and then randomly vote yes or no on the propositions. This form of uneducated voting was unproductive.

One year I encountered a proposition that was so obtusely worded that I could not figure out whether I wanted to support or oppose the effort, even after thoroughly reading the official voting guide provided by my local county. For the first time I decided to go to Google to figure out what the proposition was about and what I found amazed me.

There exist some incredible voter guides on the internet. Not only are they easy to navigate and read, they provide clear descriptions of each candidate and proposition, an explanation of financial implications, and a list of groups supporting and opposing each candidate/proposition. These voter guides are so helpful that they make me wonder whether our government purposefully complicates the wording on the ballot to confuse and discourage voters. Regardless of whether the effect is on purpose, voter participation usually comes in around 35% for any California election and uninterpretable ballot information is one reason that number is so low.

After learning that voter guides exist on the internet, I will never again vote in any election without consulting those guides. Any other approach would leave me underinformed.

Below is a list of the best voter guides I have used:

Voter’s Edge California – Voter’s Edge California is a joint project between MapLight and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund. VEC provides a comprehensive look at all the available candidates and measures on your ballot.

CALmatters 2018 Voter Guide – CALmatters is a non-profit, non-partisan, member-supported news organization focused on California. In addition to insightful and comprehensive reporting on news matters, CALmatters has put together an excellent guide to the November 2018 election.

Ballotpedia – While not the easiest site to navigate, Ballotpedia contains a true wealth of information about every aspect of voting. This page provides a solid central navigation point for learning about the upcoming November 2018 election. To learn specifically about the November 2018 California ballot propositions, click here.

Ballot.fyi – A non-partisan guide to the ballot propositions on California’s 2018 ballot. This guide is put together by a two person team, an engineer and a journalist with help from The Knight Foundation.

KQED Elections Voter Guide – A guide to the propositions on the California ballot from the reputable KQED organization.

League of Women Voters of California – When looking for voter guides, the League of Women Voters of California voting guide is probably the most referenced guide on the internet. While they do not win the award for the most exhaustive guide, the LWVC have been putting together great information in their voting guides for many years. Their voting guides are easy to use as you can quickly assess whether you agree or disagree with their endorsements.

Green Party of California State Voter Guide – This is a simple list of endorsements from the Green Party of California. It’s nothing special, but if social justice and the environment are important to you, these are probably the votes you want to cast.