Against pictures in charitable organizations and appeals

I got, out of nowhere, a magazine for a well known, audited, and considered-legitimate charitable organization that applies itself to assisting poor people in many countries. Aside from the annoyance at their having no obvious way to unsubscribe on their website, something else:

This, and other organizations I know of, have photographs of people and groups they have helped by their work in their publications and on their websites. Since I have no experience with their work, I can’t speak for the people in the pictures. They should have been asked if they wanted to be photographed, though that itself is risky.

For me as recipient of their appeal, I have this objection: how am I supposed to know these pictures are representative (and not staged)? What about them proves the people in them are what they are presented as?

Names and places aren’t given – rightly so, poverty doesn’t abolish privacy (or shouldn’t). I have to take in clues in the pictures (which are also manipulatable), and sadly a highly obvious one is race. This could make perception that the only really poor people (or the only ones they help) are Black.

The best way to be sure of their legitimacy is by independent conduct and publishing of audits on their work regularly. Catalogs do not have to be text only, but pictures can be of the works of charity themselves, and if people are needed for scale or demonstration (such as for a water pump), where and how they appear should be carefully considered.

If the people who would appear in these pictures do not fit an obvious pattern, for example being of an entire range of skin colors, there is still such a risk of pattern recognition in the unknowable readership picking up something unobvious to the designers (all poor people are left handed? have blue eyes? something else?).

Post-election (United States) proposal

Earlier this year (2020) the Supreme Court determined that the States can require electors for president and vice president (their “members” of the Electoral College) to vote for the candidates chosen by vote of the people. In other words, when the electoral voters (the silliest sounding term I’ve made up) cast their votes at the State Capitols, if any are not what the most people voted for, those votes are void from the beginning and the “faithless” offender can be then pitched out and replaced for wasting everyone’s time.

At this point, I would think a State could do it “by operation of law”: when the final vote count for president and vice president is issued, the votes sent to Congress are determined automatically and sworn out on the day the Electoral College meets. (The Constitution requires this happen on the same day throughout the country, so they can’t be issued early.)

That process may get held up at the Supreme Court, so I suggest a neater way of doing this: random draw of the voters of the State after the vote totals are known. If a State has N votes in the Electoral College, then the unified electoral roll of the entire State would be used as if it were drawing for jurors. N registered voters would be selected by random process and a County or State official sent out to meet them and request they come to the State Capitol on that day. Since this is after the results are known, if someone had a conscience against voting for either winning candidate, they could decline. (They would not have to say why.)

The law would provide their regular pay or instruction (if a student) or life would be totally unaffected by this, and no one could retaliate against them for performing their duty. Probably this means the District Attorney (or equivalent) would be the best one to meet them and tell them all of this. Also, if they did have to report retaliation or such, the DA would know them and be unable to not remember them. Any possibly removable problem would be honestly addressed by assistance, appeals to the duty (if the problem was some other person), or punishment in court for interference with the election (if someone like their boss tried to be nasty about it).

The persons would have a proper escort to the capital city, meet there, get short instruction (this should be published for all to read ahead of time so no one feels like they are only able to do what someone tells them), and then the process is performed. Everyone goes to lunch and then returns to their lives.

Just-in-time for the Election

Political campaigns and supporters and opponents print electioneering right up to the day of the election itself, which is really the last day of the election, where we have early voting.

Election authorities already are required to keep track of who has already voted, so they can prevent double votations. In almost all cases these get published eventually, as part of the final certifyed result.

If the authorities release this information in nearly real time, such as 1-hour batches, the printers could constantly remove persons who already voted from their coming print runs, and so avoid wastes.

Automated security info emails: a word choice request and proposal

You know those emails that a company you have an account with will send if you change things like your password or contact info? Here is one from Microsoft I found online:

The following security info was recently deleted from the Microsoft account [email] [a phone number]

If this was you, then you can safely ignore this email.

If this wasn’t you, a malicious user has access to your account. Please review your recent activity and we’ll help you secure your account.

Microsoft account team, no date.

My request is that these not use the word “ignore” for two reasons: telling people they can “safely ignore” any security information sounds bad, and it is too late to actually ignore it because you’ve read it.

I suggest “If you made this change, this email confirms it has been processed successfully.”. The second option, if you did not make or authorize this change, can be left as it is.

A test of, at minimum, honor or honesty

This is about current day (late summer 2020) politics in the United States. It does not have personal hatred to any one or any thing in it, but if you want to be forewarned before reading on the subject, now you can be.

Continue reading A test of, at minimum, honor or honesty

P O L I T I C S again

Short policy idea for all persons: we (the United States, and the people part of it) should not be using the self-titles of the various people who went to work for the Confederate States during the Civil War.

In examples, Jefferson Davis wasn’t a president, Braxton Bragg wasn’t a general, John Reagan wasn’t the postmaster-general, and so on. The entire time of the war, the United States rejected the idea that the Confederacy was a legitimate thing, fought it over that conclusion, and physically defeated it from holding that idea before eventually being proven correct.

For histories, scholarly or popular, it makes sense to retain them so it is clear who outranked who else and so could give (or have given) this or that order. Elsewhere they just give a dishonest dignity.

A name for a newish crime

A very malicious type of crime in the United States, and maybe elsewhere, is to telephone a false report of a crazed gunman at someone’s house to the emergency service dispatchers (9-1-1). The police then respond expecting a hostile attacker, and instead freak out the quiet lives at said house or worse.

A news report on the subject, that I can’t find now, mentioned that there is not a specific charge for this type of domestic terrorizm, so charges are usually “making a false report” or “obstructing government administration”.

In New York State, the Penal Law defines various crimes against the common government, like defrauding the government and corrupting the government. I propose that the manipulation of public employees or functions so they risk harming someone as they do their duty be made the crime of “weaponizing the government”.

A C-suite idea to improve society

In American English, the “C-suite” refers to all the various head positions at a firm, named because they all have “Chief” in their tituls. The most notorious by far is CEO, or “Chief Executive Officer”, who runs all of the other C-suite inhabitants. There are others, as CPO (privacy), COO (operating), CFO (finantial), CIO (information), and what ever other tituls the organization wants.

I am going to propose something that will add another “CCO” to the Wikipedian list already compiled: Chief Calmness Officer.

We are almost all familiar with the hair trigger of societal media going off half cocked1 on partial information, sometimes maliciously cooked up, often not.

Continue reading A C-suite idea to improve society

Report of the Wheel-Barrow Man

I knew in a slight way, a few years ago, an older man who lived alone on the outskirts of a village, further than I did. He lived alone and walked almost everywhere. When traveling to the store in the village to pick up groceries, he used a wheel barrow on the shoulder of the State road there and back. I called him “Wheelbarrow Man” once when my grand mother was around she didn’t like it, correcting me with his real name and title.

After he died, his sister, who I knew independently, let me have some of his things, including a typescript proposal. Having used a scanner and Microsoft Word to digitize it, I set it out below

Continue reading Report of the Wheel-Barrow Man