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Ethan Frantz
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Ethan Frantz

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Dear Google,

Splitting my G+ feed into two columns does not make any locgical sense. Maybe if there was a way to assign the different columns to different groups of friends or circles.

But the real problem is what's running in the background. You see this week with all the 'upgrades' has made G+ practically unusable. Loading or reloading a G+ page hangs my browser for several minutes. Maybe it has to do with 134+ scripts you're running in the back ground. In fact, I've noticed the same sort of grinding to a halt on gmaps and youtube as well.

Remember we do not all have the latest, most powerful computer, or a huge 30" display or a gigabit ethernet port directly to the server room.

-Me
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FWIW you don't have to keep the column layout that way. If you click the More menu in the white bar at the top, and scroll all the way to the bottom of that menu, you can select the layout you want to use, and go back to single column. Doesn't fix the scripts issue but at least looks better when it runs. 
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As you know, I am a volunteer member of the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit (BAMRU). I am writing in hopes that you would consider making a tax deductible donation to my search and rescue team this holiday season.

 BAMRU is an all-volunteer search and rescue (SAR) unit, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We look for and help people who are missing, lost, stranded, or injured in our home county of San Mateo, the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and the state of California.


Our team helps locate missing and injured members of our community, whoever and wherever they may be, including the missing in urban or suburban environments. To date, BAMRU members have volunteered over 10,000 hours at 21 searches covering 27 operational periods. Recent searches include missing persons in Redwood City, Pacifica, Santa Cruz, La Honda, and Trinity County. Our team searched for missing hikers in Yosemite National Park, Inyo County, Carmel (Monterey County), and San Mateo County. BAMRU has searched for overdue hunters in Bear Valley (Alpine County), a missing skier Desolation Wilderness (El Dorado County), a mountain biker in Santa Cruz, and an abducted teenager in Santa Clara County. BAMRU also responded to in-county operations such as a firearm evidence search, Storm Watch, and multiple inter-agency trainings. More about our recent trainings and search activity can be found on our blog.  I personally have attended 6 trainings and 11 searches totaling 285 volunteer hours in 2012 alone.

BAMRU is accredited in search management, tracking, technical rock rescue, and snow and ice rescue as a member of the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) and is a FEMA and California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) Type I search and rescue resource. This means that we have the ability to operate safely and effectively, unsupported, night or day, in all terrain, in all weather, and in all seasons.

Members of BAMRU are climbers, mountaineers, backpackers and skiers who train in a variety of skills used for search and rescue. BAMRU members live all over the Bay Area, from Marin to Santa Cruz and from San Francisco to Contra Costa County.

The unit is an independent, tax-exempt public charity as described in IRS section 501(c) 3 (Federal ID 23-7098708). BAMRU is a non-profit corporation with an elected board of directors, affiliated with the San Mateo County (California) Sheriff's Emergency Services Bureau.

BAMRU members donate their time for training and emergency operations. No payment is expected for our services. All of our funding comes from donations and member contributions, with some assistance from the San Mateo County (California) Sheriff's Emergency Services Bureau primarily for fuel and ropes for our technical systems.

Substantially all of our expenditures go directly to fund searches, trainings, and support supplies and equipment. We have no paid employees, consultants, contractors or agents - all of our members are volunteers who donate their own personal time, personal gear, and personal contributions.

BAMRU is a member organization of the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) and the Bay Area Search and Rescue Council (BASARC). BAMRU has also sponsored three other teams in achieving their Mountain Rescue Association accreditation.

Because donations are such a necessity to keep BAMRU functioning as a proper search and rescue team, I am asking you, my friends and family, in hopes that you would consider contributing a donation in support of the work we do. Any gift would be most appreciated. BAMRU has an annual operating budget of $10,000 which directly goes to cover the replacement of damaged gear, member trainings and utilities such as truck insurance and our satellite phone.

One of our greatest and immediate needs is to replace our two-wheel drive truck. After 14 years and 215,000 + miles “Baby Blue” has reached the end of it’s effective service with our team. This truck is our mobile cache on which we rely to carry all of our ropes, rigging, and medical gear to and from search assignments across the state in every condition. A functioning truck directly affects our ability to carry out our mission. We have estimated the cost of a new truck as approximately $75,000 including all the bells and whistles that enable effective search and rescue operations. I am happy to provide more details regarding our truck needs if you would like.

<A HREF="http://www.bamru.info/donate">If you would like to make a donation this holiday season to BAMRU, please click here.</A>

Thank you for your consideration and Happy Holidays!

Respectfully,

Ethan Frantz
Field Member and Executive Officer
www.bamru.org
The Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, a volunteer wilderness search and rescue team in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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As many of you know, I'm a poll worker and have strong opinions on voting rights and methods.

I'm started reading (scanning) Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog. I found this particular post</A> really supported my ideas: http://electionlawblog.org/?p=45190  In particular the two leters are good short reads.
http://www.calvoter.org/issues/votingtech/pub/Election_verification_letter_to_Obama_11-20-12.pdf
http://www.verifiedvoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/PresidentLetter.pdf

I particularly liked this paragraph:

Finally, to improve future elections we need to start measuring and publicly reporting poll wait-times, the accuracy of vote counts, and all incidents that interfere with the conduct of a free and fair election. All federal contests should be audited and, if the audits uncover problems, fully recounted.

Actually this paragraph does not go far enough. I'm come to believe there is no such things as a perfect election. There will always be problems. Some that I've run into:
Provisional Voters placing their ballots in the ballot box
Voters insisting they are with a different party than what is in the roster
Different number of ballots cast than signatures in the roster

My understanding is that currently these issues are swept under the rug. My experience says that if I have over 100 voters, at some point something is going to happen. Until we demand that these problems get reported, we will continue to make mistakes that could make the difference in a future election



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I posted a list of coursera classes. There's one on "digital democracy" you might find interesting.
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Not my league but I know most of the girls in this video. I think it is super well done.

BTW you should visit my league at: http://peninsularollergirls.org/
 
Seen our new promo yet? Watch it now, then get your tickets to our September 29th double header at home!

We should warn you however: watching this video may make you want to strap on some skates of your own and block someone. That's okay, bootcamp is starting up soon too! Email recruitment@svrollergirls.com for info if you want to join.

#video #rollerderby #SVRG #SiliconValleyRollerGirls #SanJose #youtube  
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Wow. These maps are amazing. A picture is worth a thousand words and this definitely shows it.
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So there some criticism out there over this Barack Obama ad.
Lena Dunham: Your First Time

It is totally nowhere near as suggestive as my all time get out the vote PSA. (Note this ad was old 4 years ago and has the wrong date listed for the election)
WVWV - My First Time 60 sec. PSA
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I love both of those!
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Ethan Frantz

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Suggestions of a good book on Artificial Intelligence programming? I landed an interview next week and would like to seem like I know what I'm talking about.
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Most if my great references are more specific: nn or optimization or fuzzy logic. My general book was by Russell and Norvig and was fine. 
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May the rule of unintended consequences hit swift and hard.
 
This is awesome. If it works out, I'm keeping two articles of incorporation in my car at any given time. Also I'll have to get a driver's license for at least one of them. Then if I get a ticket I'll dissolve the company. I love corporate personage! 
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Minimum Wage Machine
Blake Fall-Conroy, 2008-2010

This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. 

This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

// rapidly making its way around tumblr, found at SA's D&D

edit for reference:

The average worker earning minimum wage must work 130+ hours to afford rent in New York and California. 

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/paying-rent-on-minimum-wage/
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As many of you know, I've run a precinct for every election in the last 8 years. I consider it a civil duty. My personal main goal is to help people exercise their civil right to vote. I certainly don't do it for the $150 I earn for the 18+ hours of work I do.

I'm currently reading <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0300182031">The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown</A> by Richard L. Hasen. I'm finding the book interesting (I'm about half way through it). The basic gist of the book, so far, is that our elections are run by partisan politicians who make partisan decisions. What you see on the news about voter fraud, voter ID laws leading to voter suppression, doesn't really occur on any significant scale. Yes there are significant problems with our election system but they are not what the political parties (and hence the media) is focusing on. One of the things I really like about the book is that is cited like an academic paper. There are 333 footnotes for the 201 pages of text and many of those reference more than one source. In our current news market of 'getting it up first' being more important than research and accuracy, I'm really enjoying seeing someone who is actually looking at the headline claims and analyzing them to accuracy and impact. Good reporting takes lots of research.

I looked up one of those citations and after a few links found <A HREF="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/the-real-reasons-you-waited-hours-in-line-to-vote/265446/">this opinion piece in The Atlantic</A>. From my perspective, this opinion piece hit the nail on the head (much more than the book's long winded analysis). It has 3 main points.
1) Excessive Local Control and Money Problems.
2) Checking In to Vote and Voting (do to poll worker problems)
3) Absence of Valves to Release Pressure.

I fully agree with #1 (and so does the book). I feel blessed to live in a county (San Mateo) where I think our local election officials are doing a good job. Yes there's room for improvement. I also think California as a state has it's act together more than many others. I've voted in three different states (CA, PA and MO) and worked on a ballot issue campaign in a fourth (ME). I thought both PA and ME were a mess.

On the number of machine issues, I think the problem is also super long ballots. My ballot had 9 races (3 of which you could vote for more than 1) and 14 ballot issues. The amount of time it took each voter to vote was a major issue in throughput. I had over 500 people come through my precinct earlier this month; that's about one every 1.25 minutes (1 min 15 sec). With 4 voting machines, that would mean every voter has to spend less than 5 minutes in the machine voting to keep things moving. If we enforce the time limit (which I have never done), voters can spend 20 minutes voting. Do the math.

#2 is something I've said many times. I don't think the problem is limited to 'Checking In and Voting' and I think it mostly has to do with the people hired to run precincts. Most of them are either retired or jobless. They don't understand technology. They don't understand why the process is set up the way it is. They don't understand the consequences of following the process or breaking it. We don't pay enough to attract better workers and there are almost never consequences for officials that make mistakes.

#3 I could not do my job without paper ballots. Paper ballots are the only reason I haven't had to disenfranchise voters. When things get busy, I go strait for the paper. While my precinct typically has 4 voting machines and 2 paper ballot booths, I can hand someone a paper ballot and let them vote anywhere in the room they can find. I pull out cafeteria tables, folding chairs, counter tops. It's not uncommon for my precinct to have 20+ people voting at a time. That gives me 3+ times the throughput. I still get a line. I have had voters voting 1.5 hours after the polls close (everyone in line at closing time gets to vote, no matter how long it takes). Of course that's a night where I ran out of paper. If don't have paper, the line gets long and people just give up. So if I can not keep the line short, I feel like I disenfranchise voters.
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Here in Washington State (as well as Oregon) mail-in ballots are the default; you can think of them as absentee ballots.  Every registered voter is mailed a ballot three weeks in advance, and their vote counts as long as it is both post-marked by election day and the signature matches the one on file. 

There are still precincts open for voting in person, but (if I am remembering right) >95% of people here vote by mail.  Personally, I like that I can take my time and can easily reference the Internet about issues and candidates as I go along.

Do you have any opinions about using such methods to greatly reduce being swamped by people at the polls?
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I fear the announced 7th film
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