Election Preparation

Historically, uncertainty about who is the rightful leader has often led to violence. While I think the most likely outcome for the coming election in the US is a peaceful transition from Trump to Biden, the range of possibilities is wide enough that it's worth making some preparations for worse outcomes.

The most likely risk to me seems to be supply chain disruptions. If things go poorly, staying home is probably going to be your best option, and you want to have whatever supplies you need on hand so that you don't have to go out. This is always good policy, but is especially important if there is a potential disaster you can see coming. Make sure you have enough food, refills on medicines, and spares for critical items (glasses, medical equipment). If there are things that you usually purchase in a "just in time" manner, buy ahead. Think through things you might be going to want and consider getting them now instead. Check in with friends and relatives and make sure they're in an ok spot.

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Why Boston?

In college we had a set of signs we posted for common concepts. You might point at the sign that said "lexical semantics" as convenient way to indicate that a discussion had fallen into that particular trap, and we had signs for many circumstances. The sign with the largest impact, however, was "move to Boston". Twelve years later it's worked surprisingly well, and ~85% of my friend group is now here.

I'm also seeing a lot of discussion among Bay Area friends about moving. With the pandemic, fire season, and high rents, it's not surprising! I wanted to expand on a comment I left about why I like Boston.

In no particular order:

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Dancing With Covid

The Society of Stranders puts on a Shag (a regional Swing dance) festival every fall in North Myrtle Beach SC. This year, with the pandemic, the organization made the hard but necessary decision to cancel (pdf, fb). Unfortunately, one of the venues decided to go ahead with their part of the festival:

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Muting on Group Calls

Ben recently wrote a post with a lot of advice on how to have better video calls, and reading the HN discussion one of the most controversial suggestions was that you should figure out a mic setup where you can stay unmuted.

I see where this is coming from. We've all been on calls with people who had all sorts of extraneous background noise. It's distracting and frustrating, especially in large groups or when combined with call software that focuses whichever participant is the loudest. If you're just using your laptop's speakers and microphone, then yes, muting is good.

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Three car seats?

I recently was linked to Car Seats as Contraception, which argues that car seat laws have led to parents choosing to have fewer children because "physical limitations of many cars precludes the use of three car seats in the back seat." Now, this is a correlational study, so I'm skeptical that this is a real effect, but the premise here is also strange. If the only way to have three children in your car was to buy a larger car, I see why that could be a major issue for a lot of people. On the other hand, buying a narrow car seat is pretty straightforward, and three narrow seats fit across the back of almost anything.

We have several Cosco seats that are 17" wide. They are one of the cheapest seats out there ($50), and they fit three-across in almost anything. Manufacturers publish "rear shoulder room" measurements for their cars, so roughly we're talking about cars with at least 51". Alternatively, if you're willing to spend 4x as much ($200, still small compared to the cost of a car or of raising a child) there are 16" seats which would only need 48" across the back. Small cars I checked:

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I'm Voting For Ranked Choice, But I Don't Like It

This fall, Ranked Choice / Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) will be on the ballot in Massachusetts. I'm voting for it, but only because it's better than the status quo, not because I think it's a very good voting system.

Massachusetts currently uses traditional majority ("first past the post") voting: whoever gets the most votes wins. Unfortunately, this only works well when you have two candidates. With more candidates, the candidates tend to hurt their allies by competing for the same pool of votes, making it more likely that an opponent wins.

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