non-binary

Monday, June 26th, 2017 12:00 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Several news articles were posted to the Yahoo Androgynes list recently about legislative progress on allowing people to get identification documents that specify their gender as "non-binary".

California moves closer to recognizing third gender - ... The state Senate passed a bill that would allow Californians to choose gender non-binary for identifying documents like drivers licenses and birth certificates...

Oregon becomes first state to allow nonbinary on drivers license - ... Beginning July 1, Oregonians will be able to choose "X" for sex Instead of "F" or "M" on their licenses and identification cards...

D.C. to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses - At the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents on June 26. ...
on the same day that six members of the D.C. City Council introduced a bill that would enact the gender neutral I.D. policy proposed by the mayor administratively into city law. ...


Activist vying for non-binary birth certificate taking N.L. to court

While reading the first 2 articles, I wondered if it's possible that in the not-too-distant future, I could even get a driver's license here in South Carolina which says non-binary. It seems quite unlikely to happen here, but then again, that's what I thought about gay marriage.

But with the Republicans in control of the federal government, it seems likely that there will be some kind of backlash first. Like a "defense of gender act" which would make it illegal for states to issue IDs with non-binary markers.

When the second article mentioned the California legislation again, it suddenly hit me. I was born in California. If the bill passes, I could conceivably get my birth certificate updated. !!! I wouldn't have to wait for SC to pass such a bill, at least not for my BC.

But then that might present other difficulties. Like, "You can't renew your driver's license (or sign up for XYZ), because we only allow M and F, and your BC says X, which isn't a valid value."

I wonder how non-binary gender IDs will affect things that are segregated into M and F. Obviously, there's the bathroom thing... if a state like NC has a law saying that you have to use the restroom which matches the marker on your DL, and your marker is X, can they legally keep you from using both restrooms? And what about prisons... For a non-binary person who is convicted of a crime, how will they decided whether to send them to a men's or women's penitentiary?

For that matter, what about selective service? That will be a can of worms. Suppose that anyone could get out of the draft by changing their gender marker to X or F, because only males are required to sign up? (I'm against the draft and selective service in the first place - I don't think anyone should be required to join the military, regardless of their sex or gender.) I imagine that they'll eventually change the selective service rules to require everyone to sign up, regardless of gender.

Another problem - what about sporting competitions? Will non-binary people not be allowed to compete in men's or women's competitions? But that's already an issue for trans athletes, even without considering non-binary people.
darkoshi: (Default)
This page on the Apple.com site: Government Information Requests
states: In the second half of 2016, Apple received between 5,750 and 5,999 National Security Orders.

Apple's Transparency Reports - contain details on the various customer information requests received by Apple from 2013 through 2016. The number of national security orders received by Apple increased from less than 500 in 2013, to between 8500 and 9000 in 2016.

See below for the difference between "National Security Orders/Requests" versus National Security Letters.

In this prior post, I linked to another article which stated: the FBI issued nearly 13,000 NSLs in 2015 alone. But that number must have been way under-estimated. Indeed, one of the below articles indicates that over 48,000 NSLs were sent in 2015.

A Decade-Old Gag Order, Lifted (November 2015):
relying on changes made by the Patriot Act, the FBI began issuing hundreds of NSLs demanding credit reports, banking information, or records relating to Internet activity. Some of the NSLs sought information about terrorism suspects, but most sought information about people who were one, two, three, or more degrees removed from anyone suspected of having done anything wrong. According to the Justice Department’s inspector general, the FBI issued a staggering 143,074 NSLs between 2003 and 2005. And every NSL was accompanied by a categorical and permanent gag order.


That link and this one: Doe v. Holder describe a decade-long court battle to get a single gag order lifted. It mentions some changes made to the laws regarding the gag orders during that time, but I'm not clear on the final outcome. I assume that most other NSL recipients are still under similar gag orders which haven't been changed.


Newly published FBI request shines light on National Security Letters (November 2015):

In 2007, the Office of the Inspector General reported that the FBI issued approximately 40,000 to 60,000 letters per year. President Obama’s Intelligence Review Group reported more recently in 2013 that the government issued an average of nearly 60 NSLs per day.
..
Companies can only report NSLs in bands of 1,000, if they're separated from FISA court order requests, or in bands of 250 if reported as a broader "national security request."


The "national security orders" referenced on the Apple.com page must be the broader category, including FISA requests in addition to NSLs, as they are listed in bands of 250. But the last link below indicates there are less than 2000 FISA request per year, so that doesn't explain the large discrepancy in numbers.

Even the above article implies that in 2013, a total of 365*60 = 25,550 NSLs were issued, while twice as many were issued 6 years prior. I doubt the number would have decreased that much over time, if there were no legal changes governing the issuance of the requests.

US foreign intelligence court did not deny any surveillance requests last year :
The court received 1,457 requests last year [in 2015] on behalf of the National Security Agency and the FBI for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls. ... The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed.

The total represented a slight uptick from 2014, when the court received 1,379 applications and rejected none.
..
The memo also stated that 48,642 national security letter (NSL) requests were made in 2015 by the FBI.
..
The majority of NSL requests, 31,863, made in 2015 sought information on foreigners, regarding a total of 2,053 individuals, the memo stated.

The FBI made 9,418 requests for national security letters in 2015 for information about US citizens and legal immigrants, regarding a total of 3,746 individuals, it showed.

The FBI also made 7,361 NSL requests for only “subscriber information”, typically names, addresses and billing records, of Americans and foreigners regarding 3,347 different people.
darkoshi: (Default)
So I just realized it is the last day. Or was the last day. It is the last hours.

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I am so sick of seeing online ads saying things like "Should Trump send Hillary to Jail?"
As if we don't have a judicial system; as if a president can simply send people to jail on his say-so. Is that what people want? A goddamn dictatorship?

Is someone trying to psychologically condition the rest of us into subconsciously thinking that she belongs in jail?

.

I got my heater repaired. I decided to only get the broken part replaced. Even if furnaces have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, and mine is nearly 20, that doesn't mean that it can't still keep working for many more. If the average is 18 or so, then surely there are some that make it to 30 years or more

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Portable oil-filled electric radiators:

If they smell of burning dust, even after you've cleaned off all the visible dust, you may need to remove the front and/or rear panels too, to get the dust out from those sections. Obviously, you need to be careful when doing that as there are wires and electrical connections behind the front panel.

When not using them, a perfect-sized cover to keep the dust off is a pillow-case!

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Christmas Eve (yes, I'm that behind on writing about things. and doing things):

It was sort of rushed again. We started it earlier in the evening than in the past, as my nephew wanted to leave by a certain time. I went in my car to pick up one of my foster sisters, and my niece. The drive took longer than I anticipated, and by the time we got back to the house, everyone else had already started and finished eating! But at least the get-together was over by a reasonable time, before midnight rather than after.

I still haven't gotten around to ordering my mom the Christmas presents I meant to get her. But partially in my defense, she didn't choose which ones she wanted till after Christmas either.

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Lower thigh muscles: I've been having nerve issues again, but more general soreness rather than nerve spasms like before. Sitting down for too long makes them achy.
It may all come down to not getting enough sleep, body not being able to recuperate.

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I flushed the water heater last weekend. It's really not hard to do, at least the way I do it, just attaching a hose and not turning off anything. Carrying the hose from the front of the house to the back, and back again is the hardest part.

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We're having 7:30am educational sessions for work 2 or 3 times a week, and it's killing me, so early. It's mostly stuff I already know, but I don't want to miss anything anyway..

7:30am isn't even that early, right? Especially when I can dial in from home. But it's still killing me.

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thirsty tired too late heater yay snoring dogs xmas tree lights went out again need to try replacing fuse again.
where's my dessert? what's my dessert. maybe that'll do it.
good night, ch'all.

oh, subject. ummm.

hey, did I ever post ... I don't think I did... where did I ...

Here!



Video title: Boney M. - Felicidad America (Obama - Obama) ft. Sherita O., Yulee B.
Posted by: BoneyMVEVO
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKSRdpi15qc


..



Video title: Baby's Gang - Challenger
Posted by: zyxdance
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN1cekvzY98


I found both those videos on the same day. Both chipper, hopeful, poignant, and sad in terms of later events.
darkoshi: (Default)
I had a thought/realization today. Considering that LiveJournal is owned by a Russian company, do you think that Russian authorities have access to everyone's protected and private posts, including ones cross-posted from DreamWidth? They probably do, one way or another.

In terms of the U.S. government, I was reading about warrant canaries lately, though it sounds like their use is already on the decline. It doesn't look like DreamWidth has one.

Fighting NSL Gag Orders... - EFF article. Mentions the FBI issued nearly 13,000 NSLs in 2015 alone
darkoshi: (Default)
Maine has become the first state in the country to pass ranked choice voting (for state-wide races). A similar measure was passed in Benton County, Oregon, for county elections.

Maine is also one of only two states (the other being Nebraska) which allows their electoral college votes to be split between candidates (though so far it hasn't happened in Maine, and only once in Nebraska). They use the "Congressional District Method", whereby for example:
Nebraska has five electoral votes, as it has three Congressional districts and two Senators. Two of these electoral votes automatically go to the winner of the popular vote. The other three go to the winner of the popular vote within each district.


So it still isn't a proportionate split based on the popular vote, but isn't always necessarily winner-takes-all as in the other states.

see saw

Thursday, November 17th, 2016 10:59 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Over the past week, my thoughts have been see-sawing back and forth about Trump's win. Between, on the one side, a great fear of very horrible things that may be coming (!), and on the other, hoping that maybe it won't be that bad (~), maybe no worse than past administrations we've lived through.

! human rights abuses, loss of liberties, breakdown of democracy, dictatorship, rolling back of health care progress, complete outlawing of abortions, etc.

~ even though the Republicans have the majority in both houses, doesn't mean that they will support Trump on all issues. Republicans have been greatly divided about him. Then again, he'll probably support most of the awful things they'll want passed.
~ Maybe now that he's won the election, he'll back off on some of the things he proposed. Yeah, right.

Anyway. There's not much point in me going into many details on that, as I don't think other people really care what I think, and they have their own thoughts and worries to deal with. And so many other people say it so much better than I can.

About the protests that have gone on, I sympathize with people being upset, fearful, and worried, and wanting to demonstrate and protest. But what do the protesters hope to achieve? To somehow prevent the president-elect from becoming president, through something other than the rule of law? That would likely be the end of democracy in this country, so I can't support that. It would be our demise.

(I had had a slight hope that Trump would be convicted of some major crime before he was sworn in, preventing him from becoming president in a legal manner, but that hope seems ever more remote. And I don't even know what the law says about such a scenario.)

Likewise, I'm all in favor of getting rid of the electoral college and instead electing the president by popular vote. But I'm against the idea that Hillary should be made president *now* based on the popular vote, scrapping the electoral college. Again, that would likely be the end of democracy in this country. The electoral college needs to be disposed of by changing the law, and for the next election, not one that has already happened. Unfortunately, that will not likely happen anytime soon, as the party who benefits the most from it has a majority in Congress. But anything else would result in a civil war or a complete downfall into chaos and loss of government stability. How would Hillary's supporters be feeling right now if she had just barely lost the popular vote, but had a majority of electoral votes? Would they be willing to hand over the election to the other side based on the popular vote? I don't think so.

(I'm not totally against the idea of electors switching their votes, as from what I understand, that wouldn't technically be illegal. If a bunch of electors did that, at the very least it might give Congress more impetus to get rid of the electoral college sooner than otherwise. But if enough electors did that to change the outcome of the election, I worry that would also lead to extreme violence and rioting nationwide, and a breakdown of government.)

I sort of wish that the people who've been protesting in the streets would be saving their energy and outrage for later on. Right now, the protests give the impression that the demonstrators are protesting against democracy, against a fairly elected president*. I don't see how that can do us any good. It would be much better to protest later on, if and when the people in charge try to pass bad laws, or try to issue bad edicts. Then the protests would be against something concrete and real, not based on dislike of a person, and fear of what that person *may* do.

*I haven't heard any reports of election fraud, so I have to assume the election results are accurate.

Before the election, I heard someone on the news talking about how American democracy is so good, compared to many other countries, because we have a peaceful passing of power from one administration to the next. In many countries, such things are always marked by bloodshed and fighting and violence. In many countries, political opponents are assassinated. I don't want to live in one of the latter kinds of places.

Yes, I do think the Trump presidency is likely to be a big step backwards for us. But I think the alternatives now would be worse. Obviously, depending on what may come in the next 4 or more years, I may change my mind.
darkoshi: (Default)
I'm checking out the 3rd-party candidates on the ballot in SC.

Who is on the presidential ballot where? - Map showing which candidates are on the ballot in each state.

Peter Skewes, of the "American Party of South Carolina", is only on the ballot here in SC, so has not even the slightest chance of winning nationwide. He is also a write-in candidate in Connecticut. It sounds like many, if not all, states require write-in candidates to be registered. If an unregistered person's name is written-in on a ballot, the vote won't be counted.

SC is one of 9 states which doesn't provide a write-in option for the presidential race.

Skewes' page listing Political Distractions is a bit interesting.
Current estimates indicate that there are approximately 100,000 ISIS soldiers. This is less than the population of Fargo, North Dakota."
..
There has been a constant decline in people entering the US illegally over the last 20 years. There has also been a constant increase in people in the US illegally moving back to Mexico. We are almost at a net gain of zero when considering immigration and emigration. Our efforts to seal the border have worked.
Over 50% of the undocumented workers have W-2 forms and are paying income taxes. If they have W-2 forms, then the agencies that should be controlling undocumented workers have failed us. We have a law in place that states it is illegal to hire, recruit, or refer undocumented workers for work.


[Boy, I'm getting tired. ::checks clock:: Let's see, that's the 1st one o'clock, not the 2nd, right? Ok, good.]

The Johnson & Weld (Libertarian party) site says "By winning just one key state, we can prevent Hillary and Trump from getting 270 electoral votes."
What would happen then, I wonder? Per the electoral college FAQ:
If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. The Senate would elect the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most Electoral votes. Each Senator would cast one vote for Vice President. If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House.

So we could potentially end up with a president and vice-president from different parties? Interesting.

Johnson & Weld's stance on issues sounds fairly good. I'm surprised. Though I probably wouldn't agree with all the details.

[ Passed the 2nd 1am now. ]

I suppose I should have started my research on the non-presidential elections first, as they are the ones I hadn't decided on yet. Guess I'll have to continue tomorrow.
darkoshi: (Default)
Presidential Election Campaign Fund: This fund helps pay for Presidential election campaigns. The fund reduces candidates' dependence on large contributions from individuals and groups and places candidates on an equal financial footing in the general election. ... If you want $3 to go to this fund, check the box. If you are filing a joint return, your spouse can also have $3 go to the fund. If you check a box, your tax or refund won't change.

In the past, I always checked the box.

This year though, the description paragraph includes a new blurb:
The fund also helps pay for pediatric medical research.

So I did a search. Interesting details about the fund here.
In the past, the fund also helped pay for political conventions, which I hadn't been aware of. In 2014, a bill was passed to stop funding the conventions and instead use that part of the fund for pediatric medical research.

It doesn't make sense to me though, to set aside part of a presidential election campaign fund for medical research. If the government wants to fund medical research, then they should do so on its own merit. So this is the first year I've decided *not* to check the box. Even though it's making me feel slightly guilty. But there's also the issue that I don't like to give money for medical research unless I know it's not being used for animal experimentation. So there.

I was in the minority in checking the box to begin with, as last year only 5.4% of returns had it checked. Apparently candidates aren't making much use of the available funds anymore either, due to the restrictions that accepting the money entails.

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I planned to use the freefilefillableforms website to submit my data, like in the past years.

The Minimum Computer Requirements page recommends you use Chrome, IE 11, or Firefox 26. It says not to use Firefox 43. My Firefox is 45, which isn't mentioned. I don't like Chrome, so I decided to use IE to be on the safe side.

First I got prompted to update my Shockwave, so I did.

Then on the first page, I started filling in the fields to set up a new account. Every 4th or 5th character I typed didn't show up. It was only a problem in IE, not in my other windows. Considering that I was going to have to type in a bunch of numbers, and I didn't want to have to triple-check and retype everything I entered, I decided to just mail in the paper forms instead. This year, I do have the envelopes for doing that, hah!
darkoshi: (Default)
Faith-based groups earn millions on refugee loan commissions - whether that is somewhat unethical, I'm not sure. But I did find this part interesting:
The loans, which are interest-free and extended by the federal government, do not go directly to the refugees. Instead the loans are intended to cover the costs of bringing the refugees to the U.S. and can run up to $6,000 for a large family. Refugees are expected to repay the loans and, when they do, the government takes 75 percent, letting the agency have the other 25 percent.

and
Collectors assess no penalties for late payments, and they work with refugees to adjust timetables as needed. Most refugees take five or six years to pay off their loans.


So if I'm understanding that right, the government pays about 25% of the cost of resettling refugees. I wasn't aware of there being loans which the refugees have to pay back.
darkoshi: (Default)
I was reading about Kalief Browder, who at the age of 16 was incarcerated for 3 years in New York after having been accused of a robbery which he denied committing. Due to backlogs in the court system and multiple delays requested by the prosecutors, he never even got to have a trial during that whole time. During his imprisonment, he was beaten by guards and fellow inmates, and spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. He was finally released after prosecutors admitted that they had lost contact with the man who had accused him of the crime. After being released, Kalief suffered mental illness and ended up committing suicide two years later.

2 years and 10 months after being jailed, a judge had offered to release Kalief based on the time he had already served, if he plead guilty to two misdemeanors. Kalief refused. How many other people, even if innocent, would refuse that? How many people, after having been wrongly jailed for almost 3 years and having a chance to finally go free, would trust the system enough to want to risk being wrongly convicted and incarcerated for another 10 years? And yet, pleading guilty will result in a criminal record, and will make it difficult for you to get a job or to get an apartment for the rest of your life, and will make people think that you got what you deserved (rather than recognizing the horrible injustice you suffered). You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

And that is only one small aspect of how our criminal justice system is not working like it should.

Innocent until proven guilty is a myth, isn't it?

How many innocent people are jailed or put to death?
How much racial disparity is there in arrests and convictions?
How many people commit minor misdemeanors and end up having to pay huge fees and court costs?
How does our justice system reform criminals? How many people who serve time are actually less likely to commit another crime afterwards, versus more likely?
How many people who commit crimes aren't ever even charged, convicted, or jailed?
How much likelier is it for you to have access to a good defense attorney and to be exonerated of a crime, when you are rich versus poor?
If you are convicted of a serious crime, how likely is it for you to be released before you've served your whole sentence, because keeping you in prison costs too much?
When the government hands over the running of prisons to private companies who are only interested in making money, how can we ensure that these companies uphold minimum standards and respect the inmates' human rights?
How can we expect people who have served their time to move on to a law-abiding life, when their criminal record makes it hard for them to get a job? Yet, can you blame people for not wanting to hire ex-cons? Especially when the criminal justice system isn't focused on reforming criminals, but rather on punishing them and turning them into more hardened criminals?

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I was reading about VoIP. Neither VoIP nor cell-phones allow you to receive incoming collect calls. That must make it difficult for a lot of inmates to call home. If their friends and family can't afford land-lines, how can the inmates call home? I did a search and found that there is a service that allows you to get a phone number whereby collect calls can be redirected to your cellphone or VoIP phone number. The website doesn't at all mention how much this service costs, which makes me think that it must be expensive.

I was further struck by this entry in the website FAQ:
If the prison specifically prohibits calls to cell phones, third-party or relayed calls, can I still us Just Talk?

Yes. Just Talk has a VOIP service that can offer significant savings while still complying with prison regulations prohibiting calls to cell phones, for third-party or relayed calls, such as the Arizona Department of Corrections order 1.4.2.


So most prisons only allow outgoing collect calls, but some also restrict you from using this kind of service to call a cell phone? Why??? I looked up information on these Arizona Dept. of Corrections rules.

The document indicates:
Inmates may not have a telephone card or cell phone and do not have access to email.
Inmates may only call people on their visitation list - this list may contain up to 20 people.
Before any of these people are allowed to visit or be called, they have to submit an application and be approved, a process which takes 40 to 60 days and requires a $25 background check fee.
These are not allowed: "Calls that are relayed from the number called to another number (i.e., third party calls), credit card calls and calls to 800 and 900 phone numbers."

In retrospect, I suppose those kind of calls are not allowed as it would be too easy to transfer a cell phone (etc.) to someone *not* on the approved visitation list.

Then I found this 2011 article, Prisons seek ally in crackdown on cellphones. Apparently, a lot of inmates are getting their hands on contraband cell phones. The prisons want to install equipment to block the cell phone signals, so that inmates will be forced to use the official pay phones provided for outgoing calls.

There's another issue. Why can't prisons even prevent inmates from getting their hands on contraband items? How many prison employees are illicitly making money by providing these contraband items to the inmates?
Why can't prisons prevent inmate-on-inmate violence?

LGBT employment rights

Saturday, July 18th, 2015 11:58 am
darkoshi: (Default)
First big policy win for gay rights in the US after same-sex marriage
The federal commission that investigates these claims has ruled that discriminating against lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees for their sexual orientation counts as discrimination on the basis of sex, which is prohibited nationwide in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
...
It’s very simply stated: “‘Sexual orientation’ as a concept cannot be defined or understood without reference to sex. … It follows, then, that sexual orientation is inseparable from and inescapably linked to sex and therefore, that allegations of sexual orientation discrimination involve sex-based considerations.”
...
The ruling doesn’t hold the legal weight of a Supreme Court decision, but it applies to federal employees, and federal courts that receive discrimination complaints can use it as a form of precedent.

passport rules

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 10:48 am
darkoshi: (Default)
This is news to me.

I thought that for international travel, besides needing a visa and immunizations for certain countries, that you only needed to ensure your passport wouldn't expire during your trip. For good measure, having a buffer of a few extra weeks seemed wise.

Now I've found out that many European countries require your passport to be valid for 3 months after your planned departure date. Many other countries won't let you enter unless your passport's expiration date is at least 6 months in the future.

Which Countries Require Multiple Months of Passport Validity?

It must not have used to be that way. One time in my teens, my passport expired in the middle of a trip to Germany, and I had to get it renewed at a consulate or embassy over there.

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An uncle of mine in Germany passed away this Thursday. He was old and not in the best of health, so it wasn't very unexpected.

I was considering this morning the feasibility of a last-minute trip to Germany for the funeral and to visit with my few remaining German relatives. And that maybe this is why something kept me from sending in my passport renewal this last week. Once I send it in, I'll be without a passport for 4 to 6 weeks until the new one is sent to me. The current one is still good through August, so I thought that would still allow for a trip before then.

But no, with the 3 month rule, my current passport isn't good enough.

Regular passport renewals cost $110. Expedited passport service (3 weeks) costs $60 extra, plus about $30 for overnight delivery charges. Private companies offer faster service up to the same business day for an extra $250 beyond that.

I suppose all those extra fees, in addition to how much a last-minute flight would cost, isn't worth it for a funeral. It's unfortunate though, as Qiao has the summer off this year (he's an instructor), and could have come with me for a trip now. Later in the year he won't be able to.

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Dagnabit travel restrictions.

It seems a definite flaw that you can't use your current passport while you're in the process of getting it renewed. You're stuck in the mud if you send your passport in for the regular or even the expedited renewal service, and then find out that you need to make an emergency trip in the mean time.

Furthermore, you can't apply for expedited service unless you have proof of travel plans such as plane tickets. So you have to buy your plane tickets before even being sure that you'll get your passport renewed in time to use the tickets. You can't apply for expedited service just in case you might need to travel 2 or 3 weeks from now.

Soooo. 6 months advance plus 2 months processing time = Send your passport in for renewal at least 8 months before its expiration date, and during a time when it's unlikely for any unexpected trips to become necessary. (Yep, you're supposed to know when unexpected things are unlikely to happen.)

school fees

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 10:58 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I didn't realize that some public schools in the U.S. charge parents mandatory fees for each student. It seems to be common in Illinois. Up to $500 or more per student per year, although they are supposedly waived for low income families.

From what I remember of my own school years, there may have been various fees, but I think they were mainly for "optional" things like field trips, after-school activities, school photos & yearbook.

yay for India

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 11:04 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India:

In a statement, the government said research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."
...
India is the fourth country in the world to ban the capture and import of cetaceans for the purpose of commercial entertainment - along with Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile.
darkoshi: (Default)
Richland County Council broadcasts their meetings live, online:

http://www.livestream.com/RCTVCountyCouncil

The site also has recordings of prior meetings.

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They start off their council meetings with a prayer to god. Christians in this country can't openly profess their faith without being attacked for it, indeed. Then again, here I am, obliquely attacking them for it. Those poor God-fearing people, being attacked on all sides, bless their little hearts.

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After the prayer, everyone recites the Pledge of Allegiance together. Reminds me of school. I'm glad I'm not in government.

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Lately, I've been thinking that it wouldn't really bother me that much to sell my house and move somewhere else. Not that I think that most other places are much better. I certainly wouldn't want to move up north where it's cold. And it would be hard to find another house situated as nicely as this one. But there isn't really very much keeping me here.

U.S. drone strikes

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 11:04 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
U.S. drones targeting rescuers and mourners

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Premonition:
Someday, there will be drones as small and quiet as mosquitos. The mosquito drone will be able to suck the victim's blood and compare it against a database of DNA samples to determine if it's found the correct target or not. When the correct target is found, the mosquito will inject the person with lethal poison or perhaps with biochemical matter designed to kill that specific person.

No matter which candidate or party wins the presidency, does pretty much the same military, CIA, and FBI leadership stay in power? Exerting influence on whichever president is in place? Acting as though they have unlimited, unchecked power to do anything they feel is necessary to "protect the government against its enemies"?
darkoshi: (Default)
I had come to expect that Google Maps' street-view was available for everywhere in Columbia. But I was surprised today to notice that there are quite a few streets where it is not yet available.

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This website: http://www.city-data.com/city/Columbia-South-Carolina.html
has a whole bunch of statistics about Columbia, and presumably other U.S. cities too.
The "Neighborhoods" section links to pages with statistics for individual neighborhoods within the city. It also has a map which shows the boundaries of the neighborhoods. The map also shows the city boundary/city limits, which isn't obvious on most other maps.

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I was curious about a housing area that can be seen while driving along I277 through town. It has a lot of identical looking houses/buildings spread out over a significantly large area. I thought that it must be some kind of housing project.

While driving by there, I often wonder about the people who live there, and how they ended up there. I don't know much about public housing, and how people qualify for it, other than obviously that they are poor and/or have special needs.

So I found the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) website, which has this interesting page about the history of housing projects in the city. The site lists the areas in the city with public housing projects. 2 of the older projects, I recognized. But many of them, I wouldn't have recognized as public housing - some look like regular apartment complexes, and some are small but nice-looking houses.

The area I was curious about isn't a part of the CHA. It is listed on a page of non-CHA subsidized housing.. which seems to be federally based rather than city-based.

There are a lot more subsidized low-income housing areas around here than I was aware of.