Same Day Registration

Same Day Registration (SDR) gives voters the opportunity to register to vote or update their registration when voting early and on Election Day. Voter turnout in states with SDR was seven points higher than non-SDR states.

Somehow I missed this for the Quasi-Mandatory Voting post. If you achieve automatic registration, then you don’t need SDR because it ought to already be handled. But, maybe a voter got the license on the day prior to the election and the automatic process takes up to a week, so SDR would help someone vote.

 

 

Check the date

TL;DR: If you see a story that compels you to share it in outrage, then check to see if this really is still an issue. It might be from years ago and no longer an issue.

Longer:

A few friends posted a news story about how the current Federal administration decided to pay $6 million of the almost $1 billion requested by North Carolina related to damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Michael hit Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina last week. So, I am sure this story is more noticeable because the two storms both start with M and are boy names unlike Maria last year. The story was published in 2017. It also wasn’t clear about the NC request and best I can tell, FEMA has allocated $500 million that is being very slowly spent, HUD $168M, SNAP $70M. There probably is other money like small business loans from Federal agencies, but I did not really find a clear single number.

Another story I noticed over the weekend that became popular was the governor of Maine claiming almost all the drug problem was Blacks and Latinos from out of state going there to deal. (And impregnate White women.) This one was from 2016 when LePage was attempting to support the Republican presidential candidate. It was disheartening to see people calling for a recall of someone term-limited and ineligible to run in the election next month, so he is going out the door anyway.

 

Managing Expectations

WaPo published Trump’s transcript from a recent interview with the AP. This exchange caught my eye.

AP: Did they give you any sense of the timetable?

Trump: I would say within a week. That’s my impression. He said two weeks. But they’re going to try and do it in less than a week.

An instructor in college taught us something I have always found useful: Say it is going to take longer than you need. Scotty told LaForge similar in the episode “Relics.” If you miss the deadline, then you look incompetent. If you get done early, then you look like a hero.

Trump clearly did a Kirk. The Saudis said two weeks. Trump probably assumed they are doing a Scotty and halved their estimate. (Technically, Scotty said he needed 4x longer than the actual.)

Everyone needs to assume Trump is going to halve their estimate and report that is the true estimate. So they need to always tell him quadruple.

Should we rebuild after hurricanes?

Over the years, I have thought about owning a house a Mexico Beach, FL. However, I knew that hurricanes are inevitable. So, there is no way I would own one on the beach because it would likely get destroyed by a hurricane. However, I felt better about a house well back from the beach, like a fifth of a mile. Michael’s storm surge leveled even half of the houses that far back.

Over a decade ago, I had a conversation with a coworker about this question. I think where I landed was a buffer zone. I would love the Florida coast to be a series of state parks. Towns can start a tenth of a mile back. The state parks could build sea walls and encourage the development of sand dunes over them. Hopefully, such a plan would better protect them from a storm surge.

The trick though is Mexico Beach is built on a barrier island. The town has not expanded much inland because bay behind the island has mostly filled in to create wetlands. Building there probably means more flooding from rain. So people would go from flooding from storm surges during the occasional hurricane to flooding nearly yearly. So, they would have to still build higher much like New Orleans.

Also, as the sea levels rise, places like Mexico Beach will need to move inland as well.

Framing Dangers

IMG_0163
From my 2015 beach trip

Hurricane Michael leveled much of Mexico Beach, which is a place I know pretty well. Spread out over my lifetime, but a rough impression is, I think, I have spent about half a year at this particular town. That would rank it third longest of places where I have lived.

Several people have expressed surprise about this hurricane was as strong as it was. I wonder if part of the problem is communication. This hurricane quickly intensified. A meteorologist I follow from UGA wrote Tuesday morning when it had increased to a Cat 2:

Michael will likely be a Major Hurricane (Category 3 or higher) at landfall.

And on Monday in Forbes:

As I write this, the [Big Bend] region is staring at the very real possibility of a strong category two or major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) making landfall in the Wednesday-Thursday time frame this week.

He was communicating this storm was quickly intensifying and to expect something far stronger than the usual storms that strike this area. People I love live in Valdosta, which was being named dropped over and over as a likely target for the storm after it made landfall. Everyone I know chose to hunker down and ride it out even as the likely winds to hit Valdosta increased through tropical storm to Cat 1 and Cat 2. People with large trees that could cave in the roof of their homes. My wife’s extended family in the Panama City area also chose to stay.

Why? I called my mother to encourage her to come to stay with us because Valdosta was in the path. She didn’t want to leave. My mother described that Hermine was pretty bad, but it wasn’t that bad for them. A tree damaged just a corner of the roof. Hermine was also a Category 1 with 80 mph winds where it came ashore and probably down to tropical storm strength where Mom lives. Thankfully Michael came ashore well west of Hermine and tracked away from Valdosta family, so they were spared the worst part. We still have not heard from most of my wife’s Panama City family.

So, while meteorologists were trying to say, “this is going to be really bad,” people didn’t really hear it that way. Mom is someone who took meteorology courses in college and wasn’t getting the message. The UGA one has a timeline defending that the NWS did enough to provide notice.

4 am Monday CDT (October 8): …  there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall.

He also said:

Yes, the rapid intensification was shocking but there was plenty of information hinting or explicitly stating that a major hurricane (even category 4) was possible.

I guess my point is hints are not enough. The reason why stores have prices ending in 99 cents is that one extra cent difference lowers sales because people tend to have the impression it is more expensive. Saying “3 or higher” pins people to think 3, not 4 or 5. This effect, called Framing, is pretty well studied in how people make poor decisions because of it. Even marketers study how to use it to influence shoppers. Maybe if some behavioral economics experiments are done to see show Framing affects the way people interpret meteorological messaging, scientists looking not to overstate what they are seeing may learn they are inadvertently giving people a different impression than intended. It is a struggle to be sure, to find the correct way to communicate this stuff.

I Miss Google Reader

The Google+ shut down reminded me that I still miss Google Reader. Google also shut it down about 5 years ago.

I use Inoreader now, but I do not spend nearly the amount of time reading through it that I did GR. I could spend hours a day browsing through articles and mulling the content. Now, I spend about the same amount of time on Twitter instead.

Some old GR posts.

Buh Bye Google+

After a security lapse with the now dashed hopes for a Facebook killer social media site in Google+, it is now going to be shut down for most users. They apparently want to keep it around as a competitor to Slack? LOLz.

Google says Google+ currently has “low usage and engagement” and that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. Still, the company plans to keep the service alive for enterprise customers who use it to facilitate conversation among co-workers. New features will be rolled out for that use case, the company says. Google is focusing on a “secure corporate social network,” which is odd considering this announcement comes alongside news that the company left profile details unprotected.

Funnily enough, this post is going to go to Google+. See, I have WordPress Sharing set to post to Google+. I rarely go to Google+ anymore, but I have two users who +1s my posts there. Go figure.

Politics as storytelling

Two decades ago, during my biweekly game in Berkeley, the black, white, and Latino players engaged in a series of long, heated debates about O.J. Simpson’s guilt or innocence. We didn’t necessarily change each other’s opinions about the case, but we gained a far deeper understanding of each other—and our respective group’s experiences—in the process. This surely affected our political perspectives too.

I’ve been mulling this scene. I think the reason I like to discuss politics with people of all perspectives is peeking under the onion layers. Prod someone into talking about something they are passionate about, and they tell stories. They describe how something makes them feel by talking about how it relates to a past event.

Okay, some people are going to be purely factual about a position. That is boring to the human brain. A story engages us. So people eventually fall into telling stories that make their point.

Most people fall near the center of a spectrum on a random issue. And, how they are asked about something can influence how they respond. Ask about abortion and someone is either for or against. Ask about different types and some people who are against turn out to be okay with allowing some types. Tell different stories about a certain type and depending on the details some people can flip their stance depending on the elements it contains.

We do this without really being aware. And I love to notice people not being aware of these inconsistencies.

And these stories reveal far more about them than just the stance. The stories we tell reflect an attempt at shaping how a person wants to be perceived. We instinctually leave out the parts that we don’t want others to know, but others who have experienced the same event know those details. Those omissions also over time get lost as we forget them.