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Jim Byrom
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Georgia Ballot Initiatives

My wife went out and checked the ballot for our county and had some questions about the various ballot initiatives. I think these are all important, and often get ignored, and in her words "feel like a shitty pop quiz", especially if you haven't been paying attention to local politics. They've all been pretty thoroughly discussed on NPR recently, but I haven't seen them even mentioned elsewhere. I honestly wasn't even sure which ones from the primary were going to even be on the ballot.

Obviously, I can't tell anyone how to vote, nor am I attempting to, but these could have far more effect on our daily lives than who we vote for for president or congress, since they literally amend the state constitution and are almost impossible to overturn once done. So I wanted to make sure everyone I know that I believe is planning to vote in two weeks is aware of them before they punch their card.

That article is about California's Ballot props (what those amendments are called) but the logic and reasoning still apply to the same sorts of things here. Changing the constitution because of popular opinion is risky, even when you agree with the changes being made. It's basically something you should only do if it's a human rights issue or justice issue in your state that the legislature refuses to or cannot address through the normal lawmaking process and it's something you expect will ALWAYS be needed.

You can see your own copy of the upcoming Georgia ballot by going to your county elections board website or the website of the secretary of state, but these ballot initiatives are statewide, so they should be the same everywhere. I've listed them out below, for informational purposes.

Amendment 1 - Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement. Senate Resolution No. 287 Act No. 309 Ga. L. 2015, p. 1498 "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?" YES NO

Opinion: I'm ambivalent about this. There are good arguments for and against maintaining local control of schools versus state control. If I voted yes on any of them, it would be this one, but I still haven't decided. The reasons for it are that the schools in question have been chronically "failing" for years and the local school boards haven't been able to fix it. Those kids deserve a quality education (it is a rights issue), but the local groups have been making good faith efforts to fix it, though those may take years to show real progress, and I'm not sure our state school board or governor is capable of doing any better than they are any faster than they are. Both Tennessee and Louisiana tried this to some success, but both had the backing of a lot of Federal dollars that this bill doesn't, so even if it's a good idea, it may not have the funding it needs anyway. Either option has downsides. I'd probably end up flipping two coins and only vote yes if both came up heads.

Amendment 2 - Authorizes penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims' services. Senate Resolution No. 7 Act No. 306 Ga. L. 2015, p. 1497 "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?" YES NO

Opinion: Would add an "assessment" (read: new excise tax) on sex toys, adult clubs, and pornography and extra fines for any type of sex work (some of which is obviously bad). It would also end up punishing prostitutes (especially ones that engage in sodomy, eg gay ones) who are frankly just trying to make a living even more than they already are being punished by society/the criminal justice system. It's basically a sin tax because the religious right is uptight about sex and can't stay the fuck out of the personal business of consenting adults. They're wrapping it in the old school, "protect the children" refrain that the "family values" conservatives currently voting for a sex offender usually do. Fuck them, no.

Amendment 3 - Reforms and re-establishes the Judicial Qualifications Commission and provides for its composition, governance, and powers. House Resolution No. 1113 Act No. 537 Ga. L. 2016, p. 896 "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?" YES NO

Opinion: The judicial commission they're referring to was originally intentionally created to be independent of legislative influence. They are there to investigate and prosecute instances of judicial malfeasance and conflicts of interest. They're there to protect us from bad/corrupt judges. Last year (or maybe the year before), they went after a particular judge that republicans really like because he is a super-duper conservative that tried everything in his power to keep gays from getting married. But that judge was also super corrupt, so that commission was honestly just doing their job. But the state legislature, which is also super-duper conservative thinks that it was politically motivated, so now they're trying to dissolve and reform the commission so that they can legally tell them that they aren't allowed to go after judges they like. It's independent specifically to stop the legislature from protecting judges that are favorable to their laws. That's why we have three branches of government in the first place. Again, Fuck them, no.

Amendment 4 - Dedicates revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety. Senate Resolution No. 558 Act No. 530 Ga. L. 2016, p. 895 "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?"

Opinion: Excise taxes are a way to back-door taxes. If you look at a phone or power bill, most of those little $2-5 fees they pile on aren't the phone/power company trying to make a buck, they're excise taxes from the state/federal government. These taxes dis-proportionally affect poorer and middle class people, generally, and they're almost never actually spent on what they say they are going to be spent on, because that isn't how state budgets work. They make it sound as if any revenue they currently spend on burn victims and firefighter training will be augmented by this new revenue. But what actually happens is that they replace current funding for that program with funds from the excise tax and then use the extra to provide tax breaks, pork spending, and tax loopholes to rich people/corporations so they can pay less. Lottery funds tend to work the same way. I don't buy a lot of fireworks, and I don't plan on getting blown up/burning to death, so this probably wouldn't affect me, but there is no good reason for doing this as a constitutional amendment. At best, it should be done by law, and if they can't do it that way (I think the state constitution currently bans the legislature from creating new excise taxes), it shouldn't be done. So, no.

There are probably a lot of opinions about these available on google searches. But I think the guy in the article is absolutely right. Even if you agree with whatever they're asking for, you should probably default to voting no on any of these you see, because they almost never do what they say, and when they do, they almost always break something else (sometimes intentionally). 

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This is one of the funniest hours of youtube I've personally ever seen. Winnie the Pooh as Darth Vader and Grr from Invader Zimm as Luke Skywalker (among like 100s of other weird combinations). Worth the watch.

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I am torn. I have a handful of "lucky" dice that I love using, both as a PC and a DM. I've always assumed it was confirmation bias (only seeing the positives and ignoring the negatives). But they're all opaque, and now a part of me thinks that it wouldn't be fair to keep using them without testing them. 

Damn these INTJ tendencies towards fairness. 
For all of you who have ever suspected that some of your dice are in fact unlucky and conspiring against you, here's how you test it and find out. It turns out that solid dice are often made incredibly sloppily, and will in fact have favorite numbers; he dissects one at the end to show just what a mess they are on the inside. With transparent dice, you can't get away with that, and so they're more likely to be fair.

Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on just how the die is unfair, of course. And even a natural 1 can have interesting effects in the hands of the right GM:

h/t +Chris Stehlik

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My inner child's head just exploded. That's a 3ft (1m) diameter roll of bubble wrap.


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This is simultaneously the most terrible and most awesome thing I've seen on the internet since reaction videos to the Red Wedding. I think I want a bow and some "ancient manuscripts" for Valentine's Day.

Anyone out there familiar enough with git and svn to help me manage an export from the former into the latter? It's for a project at work, and I'm having some difficulty with it that I shouldn't be having. It's making me feel downright stupid, but as a non-developer I've somehow been tasked with doing it for the development team.

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Did anyone else notice that the TARDIS in "siege mode" looks exactly like a miniature Pandorica?

#DoctorWho #flatline

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+Joanne Byrom 
Doctor Who Series 8 2014 - Official Full Series Trailer

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first, official FULL trailer for the 1st season of Peter Capaldi's time as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman's return as Clara Oswald. 

Doctor Who Series 8 Full Official Trailer.... and it rocks!

Saturday 23rd August on BBC1 and (probably) BBCAmerica and around the world if not by official means, bittorrent!

#doctorwho   #petercapaldi  
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