"That you may ruminate"

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Posts Tagged ‘citizenship’

…On Donations and Hinderance.

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2008

I know how to give money (or other things, like time to Rebuilding Together or blood to the Red Cross) to support causes I like. It’s pretty simple: identify who to give to, and give to them. But is there a way to “undonate” to hinder causes I oppose? For instance, there’s elections going on. I know how to give money to the campaign of the candidate I support. Is there a way though to cost a candidate’s campaign money if I don’t support that candidate? Or if, say, there’s a group that I think is fighting to make the world a worse place, is there a way to hinder them in a way that would be equal and opposite to sending them $20 or volunteering with them for an hour?

I’m curious, mainly because I want to do it. There’s ways to contribute to the causes you support, shouldn’t there be ways to interfere with the causes you oppose? I want to give negative donations to those.

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Posted in I'm Curious | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

…On Doing it Twice in a Row.

Posted by Steve on August 21, 2008

Read these and weep, Ames. I’ve now scooped you twice. The topic from before has now been released for 30 days of public comment, as announced in a third post on the Secretary’s blog.

A quick scan reveals the following:

  1. The words “contraception” and “contraceptive” do not appear.
  2. The rule applies to “sterilization procedures” and abortions.
  3. It states “This regulation does not limit patient access to health care, but rather protects any individual health care provider or institution from being compelled to participate in, or from being punished for refusal to participate in, a service that, for example, violates their conscience” but does not provide analysis as to how not compelling providers to participate in the service does not limit patient access. I assume this is because of the flaws fundamental to U.S. law that actions are not judged solely by their effects and that any intermediation, however tenuous, between an action and its effects severs culpability.
  4. I’d say more but it’s a quarter to 7 and I have to be somewhere at a quarter after.

I encourage you, if you have an opinion on the matter, to submit a public comment. Instructions are contained at the beginning of the proposed rule. After all, active participation in government is a good thing.

Posted in From the News, Here be Politics!, Other people's blogging, The Law | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

…On Your City.

Posted by Steve on August 14, 2008

I hate something about my job. Not what I do, not the hours I work, not my coworkers (while I wouldn’t look forward to spending any time away from the office with a few, that’s as strong as it gets), not my pay or my work environment or career prospects or anything like that.

What I hate is the reaction people always, always have whenever I tell them what I do: “Oh, you need to come look at/do something about the lights by my house/office/wherever I go regularly.” Without fail.

Dammit, people, I don’t live where you do. I don’t work for your city, I work for a private firm, that probably doesn’t have a contract to do anything in your city. In other words, regarding the traffic signals by your house or your office or in front of your grocery store, I am probably powerless. But you… you aren’t. And the person whose job it is to deal with the lights where you live, they aren’t powerless either.

Oh, what’s that? Someone whose job it is to deal with the signals where you live? Yes, I said that. Yes, Virginia, someone whose job it is to deal with the traffic signals where you live is real.

See, here’s the thing. I do indeed work in transportation planning and engineering (although it will be three more years before I’ve satisfied the work experience requirement to get licensed as a P.E. Everything I do is under the supervision of a Professional Engineer licensed by the state where I’m doing it.) Signal timing is something I do, among other things. I could absolutely look at the intersections where you live, look at the traffic volumes and patterns, take a few other locational factors into account, do some simulation, and recommend new timings. I’ve done it before, I’m doing it now, I’ll do it many more times. Depending on the equipment your city uses to control its signals, I could even do the reprogramming myself (assuming they let me have the access). But I’m not the only person who can do that, and your city probably didn’t hire me to do it there – they hired someone else.

So go complain to them.

Seriously.

If you don’t like how the traffic control works where you live, pick up your phone book, turn to the blue pages (government), and look up “Public Works” or “Traffic Engineering”. Call them. Let them know. Or go to your city’s (or county’s) website, and find the Public Works, or Traffic Engineering, or Transportation Department’s webpage, and send them an email. Let them know. It’s their job to listen. It’s their job to say, “There’ve been complaints about the intersection of Street Road and Avenue Parkway. Let’s take a look at it.” They may decide your complaint is baseless, they may decide your complaint is valid but there’s important reasons for things to stay the way they are, they may decide you’re right, there’s a problem, and it needs fixing and then fix it. They may hire someone like me to do that for them because they’re understaffed. Depends on the city, depends on the intersection, depends on various things.

But if you don’t let the people with your own city even know, nothing’s going to happen until the next time they decide to do a city-wide signal retiming or a major development comes in near the intersection in question. That can easily mean nothing’s going to happen for five to ten years.

City governments work for cityzens. Part of that means adhering to “if it aint broke don’t fix it”, since fixing things that aren’t broken costs money. Taxpaying cityzens don’t like the city wasting money, and they complain. So, if city staff think the signals aint broke because nobody’s let them know they aren’t happy…

Venting to me about the traffic situation, in general or specifics, where you live is a waste of your time. Informing your city’s traffic-related staff about a specific traffic situation where you live is the first step in getting it changed – or in getting an explanation of why it won’t be changed. Either way, it’s productive.

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