Filter out transit directions in the red states

I  like the fact that Google Maps gives me transit directions, but that's when I'm in New York.  In Norman, it is just ridiculous:

I searched for a glass shop in Norman, and Google helpfully pointed out that it was only 0.3 miles from the Amtrak station.  As if  any one could use the once-a-day tourist train to Fort Worth for transit.

Machine intelligence is all well and good, but Google needs a red state filter.

The morning's the hard part

The wife had to go out of town on business and so I am a single dad this week.  The kids' school bus comes at 7.20am but I'm simply not a morning person. Consequently, the first question the wife has every day is about how the morning went.  Meaning, did the three of us manage to wake up on time?

Even the kids must have had their doubts. Monday, I got up at 6am and started to pack their lunches and make breakfast when the 6-year old came to the kitchen.  Apparently she'd been sleeping very lightly, waking up every hour or so to check the time.  Consequently, the kids were both ready to go at 7am. As the week's gone though, the kids are getting harder and harder to roust. Their trust is returning, and with that their usual morning lethargy. I can't blame them; I'm looking forward to next week when I can go back to sleeping in every morning!

p.s. I haven't seen the movie in the poster, but a friend mentioned the movie when I mentioned that I was solo parenting this week.  What's with the misanthropy underlying any movie about dads and kids?

Comic timing now belongs to the right-wing

Some of the facts are wrong (prices have barely budged; taxes have gone down), but this video explanation of quantitative easing is hilarious.   For a while now, all the energy has been on the right-wing; now the comic timing is also coming from the tea-partiers ...

Seeds? What seeds?

The nine-year old is learning about cross-section diagrams in school.  One of the examples in his book was the cross-section of a grape.  He was running through the diagram -- skin here, stalk here, seeds here -- when the six-year chanced in on us.

"Grapes don't have seeds," she corrected him.

I had intervene and cut off the impending argument.

"All fruits have seeds," I told them, "It's just that the grapes we buy have tiny, tiny seeds so you guys don't have to spit them out when you eat them.  Just like all watermelons have seeds, but we buy the ones with small seeds."

In case you thought those stories of children thinking milk came in cans was apocryphal, there is at least one smart six year old who thinks "seedless" grapes are the norm.

p.s. I looked this up later -- "seedless" varieties vary in how small the vestigial seed traces are and in how hard the outer covering of these traces is.  Apparently, even the same variety can have different sized seeds in different years.

My voter guide (Oklahoma)

First of all, if you don't know which precinct you are in, check Google -- the service gives you your polling location and driving/walking/transit directions to your voting place from your home.  Vote tomorrow (Tues).

There are 10 state questions on the ballot this year. I wish there were none -- the whole point about a representative democracy is that we elect representatives who can then research the issues and make decisions. Because of this, my default position (unless I feel strongly otherwise) is to vote against anything that hampers the legislature.  This is even though Oklahoma's legislature is hide-bound, arch-conservative and retrograde.

These are my thoughts on the state questions. If I'm missing something about these measures, let me know in the comments.

SQ744:  This would force the state to spend at least the average of the surrounding states on K-12 education. It is prompted by the fact that Oklahoma is 49th in the nation on school spending, spending less even than Arkansas and New Mexico (which are poorer).  I'm sympathetic to the argument, because the OK legislature would rather spend time trying to allow teachers to lead prayers than to pay them properly. However, the measure is flawed -- every state trying to spend at least the average will only mean that the average keeps going up. And the clincher is that SQ744 will never allow spending to go down: "When the average amount spent by surrounding states declines, Oklahoma must spend the amount it spent the year before".  We need to elect better legislators who will fund K-12 education as a priority, but not preemptively tie their hands. So, I suggest a vote of NO.

SQ746:  Requires proof of identity in order to vote.  This is trying to fix something that's not broke. Vote NO.

SQ747:  Imposes term limits. This is a way of ensuring that there are only amateurs in government. Vote NO.

SQ748: Changes the composition of the state commission that will do redestricting if the state legislature can not agree. It's a backup that's never been necessary, but that doesn't mean it won't come in handy some day. The composition is bipartisan and seems reasonable.  Vote YES.

SQ750: Makes it easier to do state initiatives. More refererundums I don't need.  Vote NO.

SQ751: Makes English the only language the state can do business in.  Pointless and xenophobic. Vote NO.

SQ752: Makes the nomination of judges more political. Vote NO.

SQ754: Ties the hand of future legislatures with regard to funding of state functions. Vote NO.  Ensures that questions like SQ744 do not crop up again. Ensures that spending decisions are left to a budget appropriations process and not to state referendums. Vote YES.

SQ755: Forbids the state from considering international "or sharia" law. Pointless and xenophobic. Vote NO.

SQ756: Forbids mandatory health care participation. Without this, you can not have universal health insurance and since hospitals have to treat anyone who comes in for emergency care, removing the mandate will just increase the taxes of anyone who has health insurance and provide incentive to free riders.  Vote NO.

SQ757: Will increase the rainy day fund from 10% to 15% of revenue in boom years. Since the state can not run deficits, rainy day funds are a good thing and with oil prices predicted to get more volatile as it gets scarcer, this is a good idea.  Vote YES.

As for candidates, I've never voted straight party line, but the republicans are starting to scare me.  So, I'm voting for the Democrats down the line.  I don't know anything about any of the judges (why do we vote for judges anyway?), but one of my friends recommended Tracy Schumacher.  I'll probably leave the rest of the judges blank.