kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
As is my habit these days when I have a weekend at home with no commitments, I walked to the Wigwam restaurant-casino, had breakfast, and used a free-play-with-purchase-of-meal coupon to try and win my breakfast back. Today I got lucky. After that, I walked off breakfast by going to the post office. On the way back, I was struck by how nice the snow-capped Pah Rah range looked from downtown.

A Nice Little Town )

Fernley is not likely to win any "most beautiful city" awards, but it does have its moments.

This afternoon, I went to an organizational meeting of the Fernley Democratic Club. It was nice to see that there were other people in this city who haven't fallen prey to the nihlist madness that seems to have overtaken a lot of my fellow citizens. Organizing at the grass roots level like in my city is about all I can do right now. The chairman of the local group commented that I had a good speaking voice. I explained my history with presiding over complex, contentious meetings, albeit for WSFS rather than mundane politics. One of the organizers knew about the Hugo Awards (but not the Puppies and such) and so I explained that I'm also one of the site maintainers for The Hugo Awards web site. Whether I can do a whole lot at our local level, I don't know, but I'll try to go to meetings at least.
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
I note that when the Vice President had to use his casting vote in the US Senate today to confirm a Secretary of Education who I don't think in her heart believes in the concept of universal public education, there was someone standing there with a cue card for him. My guess is that the VP knows so little about this "presiding officer" stuff that the Senate Parliamentarian had to write it all out for him to read off a card.

As WSFS Chair, I don't have a "casting vote" (that is, can only vote to break a tie), but the more subtle "can vote whenever it could affect the result," because I'm a member of the organization, not just its presiding officer. (The US VP is the nominal presiding officer of the Senate, but is not actually a member of it.) This means that I can vote to break or make ties. (Ties lose.) I could also vote if it would affect various sorts of super-majorities like 2/3 or 3/4.

In the years that I've presided over WSFS meetings, I'm trying to remember if I have ever been in a position to use my vote. I think it may have happened once, and in the particular case, I think I elected to not vote and to allow the vote to stand as it was. I have a feeling that if I ever vote to make a tie (and thus defeat a motion), there will be a lot of confused people who think the Chair only votes to break ties because that's what "sandlot parliamentary procedure" says.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
Those Americans yelling that President-Elect Trump is "not my President" are wrong, just as the right-wingers who said that about President Obama were. We may not like it, and he may be actively dangerous to us, both collectively and individually, but assuming the process plays out the way it normally does (that is, excluding possible-but-unlikely scenarios), next January Donald Trump will be the President of all Americans, regardless of whether they like him or he likes them.

I do take quite seriously the existential threat the incoming President poses to many people, including people close to me and many of my friends. At the moment, we can only hope that he's going to be as good at implementing his threats as he has been at running casinos, universities, and companies that sell steaks. I'm not trying to be flippant. The threat affects me, too, even with the large amount of privilege that comes with being white, male, native-born, and moderately well off.

What happens next? I don't know. I just hope that the worst case scenarios do not play out and we manage to survive the Trump years.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
I am now immune to further electioneering for this general election cycle.

Casting my Ballot )

I've not missed a single election for which I've been eligible to vote, and I certainly was not going to miss this one.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
I finished filling out my absentee ballot today and will mail it tomorrow. (I will be in the air flying back from the UK on the last leg of my Eurocon trip on November 8, and I usually vote by absentee ballot anyway.) One of the local issues about which I care a lot is an increase in the property tax to fund the North Lyon County Fire Protection District. The measure includes an example that will let you figure out how much it would impact you if you own property: a home with a fair market value of $100,000 will see an increase of $17.40/year.

So one of the arguments against the proposal reads:

Not all homes have a fair market value of $100,000 so many people will end up paying more. There should be a more fair system so everyone pays the same amount.

I groan at the cluelessness of this argument. First, the example makes it easy to calculate your own personal impact by using the statement that the county sends out annually telling you what your home's value is. Second, if your home is worth more, you have more to protect, so it makes sense to me that you should pay more, just like your home insurance costs more if you have a more valuable house.

Even this small increase will probably be difficult to pass, because there are so many people in the "No taxes, ever, ever, no way, no how, never" crowd who probably think that if their house catches fire they can put it out with a garden hose and a bucket brigade of their neighbors.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
I have been avoiding posting on politics of late, being content to chronicle the progress of the carport-widening project. However, with the concrete work done, I'm prepared to announce that I'm taking a public stand on something I consider important.

How I'll Be Voting )

At least I hope that this endorsement won't get my home vandalized, although looking at some of the signs and stickers other people here display, I sometimes wonder.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
Based on news reports that I've read, it appears that the shift in delegate votes at Nevada's county Democratic conventions was similar in both little Lyon County and enormous Clark County, and apparently others, in that Clinton lost about 8% of the delegates she won at the February caucus, because a lot more Clinton delegates (and even alternates) simply didn't show up at the county conventions, and thus their places were taken by alternates who voted for Sanders. As this article explains, Clinton won about 53% of the county-level delegates at the February caucus, but so many of her delegates failed to show that it looks like she'll only get about 45% of the state-level delegates. The article goes on to say that this probably means that Clinton will only get 18 of Nevada's 35 delegates instead of the initially projected 20. (Remember that this number includes "superdelegates," who are senior party members not beholden to any electorate's decision, and thus expected to vote for Hillary, the establishment candidate, over Sanders, the outsider.) This could change, however, if the Sanders delegates don't maintain discipline. They need to show up in Las Vegas as well.

What I find fascinating is how the Clark and Washoe delegate swings were almost the same percentage as those in Lyon. You'd think there would be more variation, but they were all in the same neighborhood, varying by only a few points. It just looks like Clinton's supporters statewide though their work was done back in February and defaulted on their duty to carry the job on to the second level.

Mind you, caucusing and conventioneering is hard. I know from my experience with WSFS Business Meetings now much depends on a devoting a whole lot of time that you might want to spend doing other things. But in this case, it does mean that the selection is being driven by the most dedicated members of the party. Whether this is better than a primary-type system where you just cast a ballot is hard to say. I advocated for a mixed WSFS system whereby legislation would continue to be originated and modified by those people who show up, but would have to be ratified by a ballot of the entire membership. This proposal failed, for multiple reasons. Nevada gains some advantages with using a caucus system (more money from the central committee, more influence because we're only third in line instead of last) but also loses things (most party members do not or cannot go to caucuses).
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
As I wrote, a great deal of Saturday's Lyon County Democratic convention was pretty boring, as we had to wait a long time to get all of the alternate delegates credentialed. This is probably better than the ruckus the broke out at the Clark County convention (with apparently 8,900 county-level delegates compared to Lyon's 168). Among other things the sheriff was called to remove a member that one group was trying to get expelled from the convention.

See the story here: Bernie Sanders Wins the Nevada Caucus After All

If I'm reading the story correctly, Clark County (Las Vegas/Henderson) sends 5,357 delegates to the Nevada state convention and Washoe County (Reno/Sparks) sends 1,883. Lyon sends 55. See what I meant about not expecting even one member of the Lyon County delegation to be selected to go to Philadelphia?
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
Today was the Lyon County Democratic Party Convention. The delegates selected through the party caucuses earlier this year (a total of 168 total countywide delegates, including me) were called to gather at the high school in Silver Springs. (The site is more or less centrally located within Lyon County, meaning that the people from Dayton, Yerrington, and Fernley all had to travel, but we all had to travel approximately the same distance. Only the relatively few people from Sliver Springs had the short drive.) It was an interesting, if at times frustrating experience, and I can say that I am certain that we had better organization at the WSFS Business Meetings in Spokane last year.

The net result of the convention was that Lyon County will send a total of 55 delegates to the state convention in Las Vegas later this year: 34 pledged to Bernie Sanders and 21 to Hillary Clinton. But it took quite a while to get to that conclusion, and led to a lot of people sitting around frustrated waiting for things to get to a decision, as I'll explain below.

My Day in Democratic Politics )

After the opening speeches and letters, we received the initial report of the Credentials Committee, which reported that only 107 of the 168 elected delegates had registered. Delegates still had until Noon to actually register, so while the convention was quorate, they didn't want to proceed with the major business (selection of delegates for the state convention) until everyone had a chance to register and then alternates seated. With a quorum present, the convention elected the Temporary Chair as the Permanent officers, and then we went into a long recess for over an hour.

(Incidentally, one woman with some meeting experience of the wrong kind in my opinion kept trying to correct "recess" to "suspend," even though there is no motion to suspend. "Recess" is the correct term.)

Read more... )

So we finally got all of the delegates to the county convention sorted out, and the delegates to State managed to agree to get it to where we didn't have to hold an election to fill 34 seats simultaneously. But business wasn't done yet; unfortunately, many people had to start leaving, and were not happy that they didn't get to participate in the platform process.

County Party Platform )

The convention was now adjourned, but I had a few people who wanted to complain at me about how not everyone who wanted to speak did so. One older gentleman in particular complained that as Parliamentarian I should have done something to get the Chair to recognize that young man who so much wanted to speak.

Running by the Rules Sometimes Means You Don't Get What You Personally Want )

Now, despite some of the bad feelings (for which my low blood sugar could not have helped), I did get a number of people coming up to me thanking me for my explanations, and one woman said, "After you explained it, I realized that even I could speak."

What I Should Have Done )

And that was my day as a Democratic Convention Parliamentarian. I could have done better. But we could have done worse as well. And if I do decide to get more involved in local county politics, maybe by the next time this rolls around we'll be able to conduct a meeting of this size with a bit better organization so that there's less waiting and more time spent on substantive debate.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
I just got some of my delegate information for the Lyon County Democratic Convention, which will be this Saturday in Silver Springs (not Yerrington as I'd originally thought). It included information for people who might be interested in serving as one of Nevada's 43 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this year. Anyone who wants to be a delegate has to agree to travel at their own expense to the convention; the party doesn't pay for it. The Nevada delegation will be staying at the Embassy Suites City Center. The hotel rooms will cost $500 per night. Again, I stress that the party doesn't pay any costs. The individual delegates are responsible for their own travel expenses, including transport to and from the city, hotel, and meals. These costs come out of the individual delegates' pockets just as much as the cost of attending a Worldcon comes out of the individual members' pockets. Think of this the next time you want to complain about the cost of a hotel room at a Worldcon.

In any event, I haven't applied, and inasmuch as the Nevada state convention will be in Las Vegas, I do not anticipate standing for election as one of Lyon County's delegates to the state convention. Had the state convention been planned to be held in the Reno-Carson City area, I might have considered it, but it's perfectly understandable that they'll hold the convention closer to where most of the people attending actually live.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
Today was my first experience with the caucus system of determining delegates to the Democratic National Convention to select a presidential candidate. Through the last presidential election, I was a Californian, but I established Nevada residency a few years ago. At the end of today's experience, I found myself one of the selected delegates to the county Democratic convention to be held in Yerrington in April.

Glad I Got There Early )

Why Nevada Uses the Caucus System )

My Place in the Caucus )

Participatory Democracy is Sometimes Slow )

At Last We Begin )

With the preliminaries out of the way, we got into the actual caucus process, which actually turned out to be pretty simple, especially with only two candidates. In my precinct, 30 people attended, and therefore with six delegates allocated to us, a candidate would need at least 5 votes to be considered viable. If necessary, we would have done multiple rounds, but there were no undecided voters in our precinct, so we were able to reach a decision pretty quickly. A precinct captain worked through the numbers, and I checked his math and helped a little bit, prompting him to post the figures on the board.

After everything was finished, I went around and took pictures of all of the precinct returns. In one case, I got a Sharpie and wrote them on the big board, transcribing from the actual official precinct return, because they hadn't written it up as they were counting. Here's all of the returns, starting with my own precinct and working backwards.

Pictures of the East Fernley Precinct Returns )

The overall results from the East Fernley Caucus:

Hillary Clinton: 16 delegates
Bernie Sanders: 15 delegates

Despite the nearly even split, the mood at the caucus was generally quite respectful. I was unhappy with Sanders supporters booing Hillary's letter, but it was only scattered. I'm told that violence actually broke out at one of the other Fernley caucuses, apparently spawned by people not being allowed to bring food inside the caucus, as partisans had brought cookies. As I mentioned above, the police were called to our caucus, but only to deal with people illegally parked.

Picking Delegates to the County Convention )

I'm decently excited about my experience with the caucus system, and hope that I'm able to participate constructively at the county level. I doubt I'll go much past that, though, particularly inasmuch as I assume the state convention will be in Las Vegas, where most of the people in the state live, and that might prove problematic for me to attend even if the county convention saw fit to elect me as a delegate.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
Yesterday, one of the stops Lisa and I made while shopping in Reno was at a Savers thrift store, where she was looking for some blue jeans to use when working around the house, on cars, etc. After picking out a few that fit, we examined their used books. (I've been buying fat history books as reading material for my working trips to the Bay Area.) We ended up encountering an man in his 70s who spouted off some ideas that he sincerely holds but that boggled us.

Wal-Mart is Owned by the Government )

Unfortunately, angry and ill-informed people convinced that they are living under a Communist dictatorship evidence the kind of ignorance and hate into which demagogues readily tap, as we see in the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
Something that surely isn't original with me but that I've been developing over the last few weeks is a thesis regarding the relationship between a stable democratically run society and good sportsmanship.

You can skip the politics if you aren't interested )

Could we possibly get a more civil society if we invested more in teaching children to lose gracefully, but also not insulating them from the concept of losing? In other words, winning is good, but losing isn't necessarily bad. And yes, "It's How You Play the Game" should be a core moral concept in my opinion.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
While Lisa and I made an effort to stock up on things at Bi-Mart in Klamath Falls yesterday (cheaper prices and no sales tax), I ran across yet another item that to me shows the shallowness of the "patriotism" some of my fellow American have.

Treating patriotism as if it were your favorite sporting team's uniform )

Caring about your country is more than just shouting "USA! USA! USA!"
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
I just filled out my absentee ballot and will mail it tomorrow. It is a measure of just how deeply conservative the part of Nevada to which I moved is that in some of the partisan races, the choice of candidates is between a Republican, a Libertarian, and an American Independent Party candidate. Yep, the Democratic party didn't even bother putting up candidates for State Senate or State Assembly in my district.
kevin_standlee: (Soccer)
In light of Ann Coulter's article that's been making the rounds, I obviously am not a Real Meriken, because I have been following the World Cup and watching as many of the matches as I can. (As bad luck would have it, I had a meeting this morning during the second half of the USA-Germany game.) And despite her claims about Real Merikens (which she seems to define as people whose great-grandparents were all born in the USA), well, to the best of my knowledge, not only all of my great-grandparents, but also all but one of my great-great-grandparents were born in the USA. And yet I still enjoy following sports that aren't almost exclusively Meriken and dominated by Merikens.

Oh, and I think the USA is really stupid for not adopting the metric system like sensible countries. We're not going to make the rest of the world go back to using old-fashioned units, and being the only important country still using old units is hurting us. Every time I have to wrestle with international shipping reports (as I've had to do most of my career at Day Jobbe) and get tangled up in unsigned weights and no way of knowing whether the shipments are in pounds or kilograms, I curse the intransigence of the Cult of Stupidity of my fellow Merikens.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
"None of These Candidates" wins Democratic gubernatorial primary. Alas, unlike WSFS, where No Award can actually win the Hugo (in which case no trophy goes to anyone) or Site Selection (where the Business Meeting can sort out candidates), in this case, the second-place finisher, who had a mere 25% of the votes and therefore was disliked by 3/4 of the electorate, is the official nominee for the general election this fall.

Meanwhile, in case one thinks one's vote is irrelevant, here in Fernley, with about 20,000 residents, only about 10% voted in the mayor's race, and only about 400 voted in my city council ward. That makes my vote for council a whopping 0.2% of the entire electorate in my ward. That might not sound like much, but it's a larger percentage than my percentage of the last Worldcon site selection.
kevin_standlee: (ConOps)
To anyone, left-wing, right-wing, or whatever, who would impose ideological purity tests to anyone who participates in the Hugo Awards: Beware of rules that can turn on you. They're like a gun that randomly shoots bullets toward you as well as away from you. You cannot enforce such rules fairly.

You all have freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. If you say unpopular things, expect to be criticized for it. Freedom of speech also does not mean "I have an unlimited right to come into your house and start screaming at you, and if you kick me out, you're oppressing me!"

I address this to everyone. I'm seeing it happen from both the "left" and "right" (for lack of a better term). Nobody is clean in this. And try and remember that you're not the only real human being in the world. Treating everyone else as a non-player character is a sign of being a sociopath.
kevin_standlee: (Not Sensible)
If you haven't heard about it yet, there is an armed rebellion going on in southern Nevada. I'm furious about a right-wing freeloader and his gun-toting buddies who forced the BLM to back down lest their contractors get shot. I deeply hope that the BLM gets federal marshals out there to arrest this man for repeated violations of court orders. He claims he doesn't recognize the federal government. Well, you simply can't let people get away with this. If you do, you're inviting the kind of warlordism going on in northern Mexico.

Look, the BLM isn't necessarily the nicest of government agencies, and maybe the deal that let the federal government retain most of Nevada's land upon it granting statehood (unlike most states) wasn't particularly fair. But there are other ways to go about redressing grievances other than an armed rebellion. Heck, we're working it out here in Fernley, which is checkered with pockets of federal land. (That's a fallout of being along the original transcontinental railroad right of way, where alternate sections of land were ceded to the railroad while the others were retained by the federal government.) Fernley has been working with our elected officials to get a bill through Congress that would allow the city of Fernley to buy (and then resell for development) the pockets of federal land within the city boundary. We haven't engaged a private army to say, "We're taking this land and if the BLM shows up to say otherwise, we'll shoot 'em."
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Logo)
I have formally submitted the Decoupling Publications Amendment to the 2013 WSFS Business Meeting on behalf of its lead advocate, Lisa Hayes. As I hope y'all know by now, it removes the requirement that Worldcons must provide paper versions of their publications by default, but requires them to provide paper copies (at approximately their production and distribution cost) to members who request them.

I'm informed that there will be an amendment introduced to it at the Preliminary Business Meeting to strike out the words that it adds to the Constitution; that is, if the amendment passes, then all that will be left is striking out section 1.5.3. This would allow (but not require) Worldcons to drop paper publications as part of a membership's default package, but would not require them to provide paper publications if they decide to go all electronic. It would not require conventions to discontinue all paper publications, but it would permit it. Like many other things having to do with Worldcons, it would be up to the Worldcon to decide whether or not to do it.

Personally, I can live with it either way, and indeed, my original suggestions in this matter was do do exactly what this does: delete 1.5.3 and leave it up to Worldcons to decide what to do. But this motion is actually Lisa's, and she's concerned that Worldcons would immediately scrap all paper publications and say to people who don't have computers and e-mail, "Who cares? Stop bothering us." I don't know how she'll react to it.

I know that I will vote in favor of either the motion I've submitted on Lisa's behalf or the version that would be there if the amendment to be laid onto it passes, although as an interim transition to a speculated no-paper future, I think the proposal as it initially is written is better.

Note, however, that I haven't acted as if it were "shenanigans" to move amendments to the proposal I co-authored. I even consulted with the person who will be making the amendment to see if we can get it into the simplest parliamentary form. While the amendment is "hostile" inasmuch as it significantly changes the original proposal (to the point that it is possible the proposal's original author would vote against it), there's nothing unethical or underhanded about doing so. I say this because the author of the motion now titled "No Representation Without Taxation" accused me of "shenanigans" when I suggested amending her proposal to also include the deletion of 1.5.3 because I considered the two subjects deeply linked. She also informed me that it was all about my ego.

I make no secret that I will use the rules to attempt to get my way, and that I will encourage people who agree with me to come and support me. I will offer compromises to try and get some of the things I want in exchange for giving people some of what they want. But if your attitude is, "I don't have to compromise, because I Am Right" or somehow consider all forms of negotiation to be "politics," with the implication that "all politics of any form whatsoever is Evil," then you end up setting yourself up for all-or-nothing battles. Personally, I think that's a bad idea, but maybe you'd rather have no loaf than half of one.

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