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Naomi [userpic]

Marscon 2014 Schedule

March 3rd, 2014 (04:39 pm)

I'll be at MarsCon this coming weekend, March 7th - 9th.  If you're hoping to see me there, here's my schedule:

Getting into the mind of a religious fanatic
Saturday 11:00 a.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko's)
Uber villain or bit player, what are they like? Are there any useful generalizations? Are they likely to be suicidal and does that depend on the religion or the person? How can they make for interesting novels and stories without being stereotyped and one dimensional? 
With: Naomi Kritzer, mod.; P M F Johnson, Lyda Morehouse, G. David Nordley, David E. Romm, Ozgur K. Sahin

The Press vs. Science
Saturday 1 p.m., Atrium 2 (Re(a)d Mars)
What are some of the greatest howlers in science coverage? What’s the most common kind of reportorial error? What happens when scientists try to write their own press releases? What happens when institutional PR departments do it?
With: Rob Callahan, mod.; Dr. Tom Gardner, Naomi Kritzer, G. David Nordley

Timing and Pacing
Sunday 11 a.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko's)
What does timing have to do with writing? How do you know where to put your action/dialogue/sex scene? How can you tell if you have it in the wrong place? How does this differ between novels and shorter works? What horrible things can go wrong? Why do writers’ groups have trouble gauging pacing in novels? Is there such a thing as too fast in pacing?
With: S.N. Arly, mod.; Naomi Kritzer, Lyda Morehouse

Finding the Key to Your Imagination
Sunday 1 p.m., Exec Lounge (Krushenko's)
What is imagination? Where does it come from? Some of us are blessed (or cursed) with an excess, and others have very little. Most folks think it’s okay for kids to engage in imaginary play and exercise their imaginations, but a lot of folks think it’s odd of grownups to do the same. Does our culture hinder and damage creative impulses? How do you find your imagination if it’s gone missing? How do you keep it engaged and strong? Is it a use it or lose it proposition?
With: Esther Friesner, S.N. Arly, mod.; Haddayr Copley-Woods, Stryder Dancewolffe, Naomi Kritzer

I will also be around, possibly with kids in tow (I apologize in advance if someone wants to chat with me and I get dragged off by a demanding ten-year-old).

Naomi [userpic]

Stories Published in 2013 (that you can nominate for awards, should you feel moved)

January 10th, 2014 (03:36 pm)

This is an Award Awareness Post, where I'm going to tell you, "Here's what I published last year! In case you want to nominate it for shiny prizes!") I will note in my defense that when nominating stories, I appreciate being able to find out easily whether things I liked were Short Stories or Novelettes and precisely where they got published in which month (since you always have to write that stuff down). So. In case you think I'm awesome, are nominating for one of the genre awards (or non-genre! heck, feel free to nominate my penis story for the arty-est most thoroughly literary award out there, if you're on the nominating committee) and want to know what all I published last year so you can nominate for me for ALL THE THINGS... here you go!

Novelette

"Solidarity," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2013. This is a seastead story, with the same setting and characters as "Liberty's Daughter" and "High Stakes" (which were published in F&SF in May/June 2012 and Nov/Dec 2012.)

Short Story

"The Wall," Asimov's Science Fiction, April/May 2013. This is my time-travel-Berlin-Wall story, in which a college student in 1989 is approached by a woman claiming to be her, from the future, and trying to persuade her to go to Berlin to see the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bits, Clarkesworld, October. This is the penis story. It's online and it's free, so you could go read it right now if you haven't already. I realized the other week that if you look me up on the Internet, it's currently the third hit. So this means that the lady I was chatting with at the parent coffee at school, who found out I was an author and wrote down my name: if she googled me, she's probably now read it.

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

Bits, Clarkesworld, October. There's an audio version! Read by Kate Baker.

Naomi [userpic]

Yuletide and fanfic

January 3rd, 2014 (03:02 pm)

For years, I've enjoyed reading Yuletide stories.  Yuletide, for those who are not aware of it, is an annual fanfic exchange.  When you sign up, you request a story (you actually have to give multiple possible options) and you also offer to write one (ditto). You volunteer and request based on "fandoms," which in the context of Yuletide can sometimes be as narrow as a single blog post or a TV commercial.  Yuletide does require that the fandoms be small, or at least smallish -- you can't request or offer Harry Potter-based stories, Avengers, anything that has a huge amount of fanfic already.

Stories have to be turned in by late Christmas Eve, and everyone gets their story on Christmas Day.  Authors remain secret until January 1st. All the stories are in an archive and can be sorted by fandom, so you can poke through and read all the stuff that appeals to you.  (A Little Princess?  Allstate's "Mayhem" commercials? Georgette Heyer's Venetia?  They're all in there.)

This year I decided I wanted to play. I was assigned to write for someone who wanted Code Name Verity fanfic, and wrote a story called Damask Roses (it's also Rose Under Fire fanfic) and I wrote a Treat (an unassigned story I wrote because I looked at a bunch of prompts and felt inspired) about Disney Princesses at a college called Four Things That Weren't Adequately Covered in Mulan's RA Training.

The story I received was Addams Family (the movie) fanfic called College First.  It's perfect -- filled with spot-on bits of deadpan dialog.

I've written derivative work before -- in fact, I've sold it, as you can totally do if you're deriving from something in the public domain.  "In the Witch's Garden" (published in Realms of Fantasy in October 2002, available now in Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories) is loosely based on "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.  "The Golem" (published in Realms of Fantasy in October 2000, available now in Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories) draws on the Jewish legend of the golem created by Rabbi Loew.

I've also written straight-up fanfic, but not on AO3 and not in Yuletide, so that was really a new experience.

"Four Things" ... was really popular.  And here's the thing about fanfic -- no one's writing it for money, obviously, so there's this whole culture surrounding it where people are rewarded for their writing and encouraged to write more with compliments. You do get compliments with pro writing; I've gotten some really lovely e-mails over the year, and my most recent published story, Bits, has a comments section with eight comments. By contrast, "Four Things" has 353 kudos (basically like a Facebook "like," only more specifically adulatory) and 40-some comments, all of them saying things like, "you are SO AWESOME."

You just do not ever get that sort of feedback in pro writing normally. Unless you are so famous that you are also getting stalkers. It's a funny thing.

And the weird flip side of this is that with pro writing I also always feel slightly embarrassed and awkward about compliments. (I avoid reviews, even good ones; they tend to paralyze me. The bad ones make me think, "oh my god, she's totally right: I DO suck." The good ones make me think, "oh my god, I'm totally going to let this person down." This is totally neurotic, and yet I know a lot of other writers with this same problem -- it's not just me.) Whereas with the fanfic I read every comment and let everyone's opinion of my brilliance buoy me up. It felt good.

Anyway. Yuletide was fun. Whether I do it next year will once again depend on whether I remember to sign up, though.

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2014 already!

December 16th, 2013 (10:36 pm)

(Cross-posted to LJ just because I love Jo.)

Apparently it's election season again ALREADY.

So the mayoral election in Minneapolis is over, they've counted everything, and I hung up my political-blogging hat in mid-November thinking, "done with THAT for a while."

But...it turns out that here in my new district in St. Paul, our State Rep, Michael Paymar, is retiring.  (He's represented this district since 1996. So -- for a while, although our State Senator, Dick Cohen, has been representing District 64 since 1986.)  The caucuses are in February (February 4th, I think; I wrote it down on the calendar) and the Senate District Convention is in March (late March, thank goodness! it shouldn't interfere with MarsCon). And if things in this district run like things in my old district, odds are excellent that it's the Senate District Convention that will effectively pick our next State Rep.

I mean, officially there is a primary, and there's an election.  But the DFL endorsement holds an awful lot of weight in these races, and the DFL-endorsed candidate has a definite edge in the primary. And come the general election, well, I expect that a Republican will run, but I would be pretty shocked if they won.

(DFL = "Democratic-Farmer-Labor."  It's just the Minnesota name for the Democratic Party.)

Anyway. I feel much less well-informed in St. Paul, mostly because I have less of a sense of who the jerks are.  In Minneapolis, there are certain endorsements that people will put in their materials that will cause me to write them off unless they are also endorsed by the people I know I like, to balance them out.  I'm sure St. Paul has a similar crowd of People I Would Hate, If I Knew Who They Were, but I don't know who they are yet.  (Does that mean I pay more attention to who you know, than what you believe?  Well, not exactly.  It's more that I pay more attention to who your buddies are, than I pay to what you say you believe.)

This is all preamble to note that I got a phone call this evening from Matt Freeman, a candidate to replace Michael Paymar.  He gets points for being the first candidate to call me, although mid-December is honestly a point at which even I do not really want to be thinking about elections.  We chatted a little (I told him I'd moved last year from Jim Davnie's district; he wanted to know why I moved, and it wasn't until I was telling him my answer that it occurred to me that I might be tipping my hand about how best he could craft his pitch.  I don't think he did, though.)  I wrote down the caucus date and his name and then told him to go ahead and give me his pitch.

The two big issues he talked about were (1) raising the minimum wage, and (2) improving the opportunity gap with Early Childhood education.

Having listened to that amazing This American Life episode about free universal preschool as well as having read about studies, I'm on board with Early Childhood education funding as a potential panacea for the opportunity gap.  I'm also a fan of raising the minimum wage, although I was curious what he wanted to raise it to.   Matt said he thought $9.50 was achievable although he would prefer $10.50; he also wants to peg it to inflation and to work for mandatory sick leave and parental leave.  (Universal paid sick leave is one of those "everybody wins" sorts of ideas.  Totally aside from the fact that letting sick people stay home is the humane and reasonable thing to do, I do not want people with the stomach flu handling my food.)

I asked him about his stance on gun control (which has been one of Michael Paymar's signature issues, not that he's had much success with it.)  He talked about background checks and mental health screenings, which is actually a huge red flag for me because what exactly does that mean? Does this mean that people who seek help for mental illnesses are going to go into a database accessible to gun salespeople? Because no. I'm a big fan of medical privacy, particularly regarding mental health records.  He backpedaled when I asked for details and it was clear he hadn't thought about this much.

One thing he had thought about was that we needed to work harder to figure out how to sell gun control to outstate Minnesotans.  And he's right about that. Minnesota has a strong hunting culture in the rural parts of the state, and guns just have a different place in people's lives when they live in the country as opposed to the city.

(My friend Elizabeth, who is a Quaker and a committed pacifist, bought a gun when she moved to the country, because they were raising chickens and were troubled with possums. In the city, if a possum moves into your garage, you can call Animal Control.  In the country, you have to deal with this stuff yourself, and that means either owning a gun, or having a neighbor with a gun.)

Anyway. He does not have a smooth, polished political pitch down yet, and I'm wondering now how long he's been making these calls.  You would think people would start with the people who've been to caucuses in the past, but we haven't been to a caucus in this district yet so presumably he got my number off the voter registration records and that suggests he's cold-calling registered voters.  Seems impractical, but what do I know about this stuff?  (He was Chris Coleman's campaign manager so I expect he knows what he's doing.)

There are currently seven people running for this seat, I think. (All of them Democrats.) In looking for information, I discovered that someone else is already obsessively blogging about this race, relieving me of the responsibility: http://www.theracefor64b.com/ I'll probably write about it anyway, though.

Naomi [userpic]

Gift shopping for people you hate

December 8th, 2013 (04:29 pm)

My annual passive-aggressive gift shopping ideas piece is on my WordPress blog this year, because WordPress makes it much, much easier to incorporate pictures than LJ does, and this year I wandered around Menards taking pictures of horrible things and I particularly wanted to share the photo of the giant stuffed dog.

Here's a direct link: http://naomikritzer.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/gift-shopping-for-people-you-hate-the-passive-aggressive-shopping-guide/

If you wish to leave comments here rather than there, feel free.

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2013 Wrap Up

November 24th, 2013 (08:31 pm)

So, it took them a few days to count ballots, and I followed it on Facebook, and then I meant to post a final wrap-up but had other stuff going on and now enough time has passed that it feels utterly ridiculous to do a wrap-up but I also feel like my Election 2013 Blogging is incomplete without a wrap-up, so... HERE. HAVE A WRAP UP.

The calculations for the mayor's race took several days. The data was in a huge Excel table and although a competent computer programmer could have written them a script to do it all automatically in approximately the time it took them to re-assign the Communist Lauraist's votes, there are all sorts of laws about ballot-counting automation. I actually support these laws in principle and really, it didn't take THAT long to count everything. Remember the Coleman/Franken Senate race? THAT is an election that took a long time to (re)count.

In the end, though:

1. Turnout was fine. It was somewhat lower than the general election turnout was in 2001 (the last time there was a seriously contested mayor's race) but substantially higher than the primary was that year. Also, apparently turnout in local elections has been falling; this is a nationwide trend.

2. Most voters used the option to rank. (Not all, but most.) (Apparently bullet-balloters were much more likely to be Mark Andrew supporters, which I find interesting, and were especially likely to live in the 6th ward. Since Mark was the #2 candidate in the end, they were right that it didn't much matter who else they ranked.)

3. Betsy won with a plurality, not a majority, but it was not particularly close by the end, and there was no reason to believe that allowing people to rank six candidates rather than three would have swung the race to Mark.

4. The same was true for the other races that were won with a plurality; none were all that close by the end. The closest in terms of percentages was Linea Palmisano (48% vs Matt Perry with 45%); the exhausted ballots would have had to go overwhelmingly to Matt to swing it the other way.

5. I don't think any of the races this time actually swung in the later rounds of ballot-counting -- the person leading after the first round of counting went on to win in every race. Note that it does not have to work that way -- someone can be behind after Round 1 but pick up a bunch of second-choice votes and come back to win. It just didn't happen this time.

...see, this is why I didn't do a post. There's just so little to say at this point that's interesting. But this is all really good news for IRV (well, except possibly for #5 -- if one race had swung like that, it would have given people the opportunity to understand that aspect of the ballot.) I was concerned that turnout would be way down, and it was not. I was concerned that the final result would be unnervingly close (close enough to have swung the other way with fewer exhausted ballots), and it really wasn't. (I was right that it was a plurality win rather than a majority win; that might have been true even with more choices, though, because of people who just weren't interested in either of the top candidates.)

I will say that the Star Tribune's poll results were shockingly, shockingly off. I mean, they did poll in September. And it was a difficult race to poll. But they had Dan Cohen with 16%, tied for first place with Don Samuels. He finished with 2.28%. The only major candidate who did worse was Stephanie Woodruff; both were outpolled by Bob Fine, who did so poorly on the Strib poll that they dropped him from serious consideration.

I don't know enough about their polling methodology to assess what exactly went wrong here.

I was sort of hoping that one of the races I endorsed in would be super close and won by the person I endorsed, so I could claim to have swung a race, but nope. Most of the candidates I backed either didn't win, or won by a comfortable margin (Lisa Bender had almost a 2,000-vote margin and carried it on election night without even requiring the second-choice votes). Alondra Cano won by a pretty narrow margin and I endorsed her, but I know several people who read my write-up and happily voted for Ty Moore because they TOTALLY ARE socialists (there are quite a few, in Powderhorn).

I have heard from A LOT of people who have found my posts useful, though. Including a few who wanted to know if I had a tip jar set up. I do not have a tip jar, and I feel kind of weird about them (for myself, mind you. I don't begrudge other people their tip jars.) I will admit that I find money tremendously validating, though, so if you would like to show tangible appreciation for my research, gossip, and snark, I have set up a fundraiser:

Donate to YouthLink

(Yes, it's through GiveMN/Razoo. LOOK, IT'S BACK UP! Heh. They wanted me to set a goal. I'm going to feel like a total dork if my fundraiser gets, like, $10 in donations. I did a time-limited fundraiser; it ends December 31st.)

If you've read more than my political posts, you'll know that I've volunteered at Project Homeless Connect in the past, and that the issue of homelessness in the Twin Cities is one that I am deeply concerned about. YouthLink was the charity I was pointed at when I asked about donating to a group that specifically supports homeless LGBTQ teenagers -- they support and advocate for homeless youth generally, but they have a particular focus on homeless LGBTQ youth.

You can also feel free to buy one of my books, if you like SF/F.

I am going to transition away from LiveJournal (like almost everyone else); I've set up a WordPress blog. Currently here, although I'm going to make it naomikritzer.com soon. I am still pondering whether to do the political stuff in a separate blog so as not to chase away the people who just want my writing news or the posts about my children.

In the meantime, I will still be checking comments, and you can find me on Facebook (always) and Twitter (intermittently).

Election 2013 Index of Posts

Naomi [userpic]

Disaster Relief

November 11th, 2013 (01:19 pm)

If you're looking for an efficient, effective, secular organization you can donate to to help with Typhoon relief in the Philippines, I'm going to suggest the International Medical Corps. I first heard of IMC because my friend Jason Goodman's father works for them. Ed and I have supported the organization since sometime in the late 1990s, and there's a lot we like about them, including the fact that they don't use half our donation to inundate us with more requests for money.

I also like the fact that although they absolutely do disaster relief, the organization has an overall focus on building local capacity in the long term. I also really appreciate that they provide mental health care as well as physical, and treat people for psychological as well as physical trauma. I approve of the fact that they view maternal health as integrally connected to child health. (There used to be an article up on their website about breastfeeding support in crisis situations.) They're an excellent organization.

Here's a donation link for Typhone Hayaian-related relief. A more general donation page is here.

If, on the other hand, you don't care whether your disaster relief organization is secular or not, I'll note that if you want to get money where it's needed really quickly, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "What is the dominant religion of the population of the devastated region?" and then "Does this religious group have a relief organization, because if so, it's probably already there."

The answer here would be "Catholic" and "yes, it's CRS, and they're very good at relief efforts." (Ed and I support CRS as well as IMC; we started donating to them during the refugee crisis in Kosovo, because they were the group managing the refugee relief there.) On their page about their work in the Philippines, they specifically mention disaster response, saying, "The Philippines is vulnerable to typhoons, floods and other natural disasters. Catholic Relief Services and our Church partners respond to emergencies by providing victims with urgent items like food, blankets and housing materials. In addition, CRS runs cash-for-work programs that pay survivors to remove rubble and rehabilitate flooded areas. As communities recover, CRS works with families to rebuild houses and make them stronger than before." (Click on the "Programs" tab in the upper right corner, then expand "Disaster Response.")

You can donate to Catholic Relief Services specifically for Typhoon relief here, or you can make a more general donation here.

Finally, a couple of notes about donating to support disaster relief, in general.

1. The good organizations work together and coordinate efforts. Donate to whichever group you prefer and know that by supporting the work of one, you're supporting the work of all.

2. Be wary of groups that you've never heard of. This is hard when we're talking about a disaster in another country, because if it's an NGO in that country, they could be a totally awesome group that you've never heard of. If your Filipino friend says, "Donate to [group], because I'm familiar with their work and they're awesome," that's a good sign. But if you get a fundraising phone call, or an e-mail solicitation, be really wary because there are scammers who will take your money and line their pockets. If in doubt, give to one of the big groups like the Flipino Red Cross (the Filipino Red Cross site is here. Note that (1) donating to the American Red Cross is NOT going to be an especially effective way to help people in the Philippines and (2) your donation will be denominated in pesos, not dollars. John Scalzi says the current exchange rate is 43 pesos/$1.)

3. Donating in response to a disaster is good. But it will take days or weeks before your contribution translates into help for people who are suffering. Right now, ALL these groups are relying on the donations they got last month or earlier. If disaster relief is important to you, consider making a regular non-inspired-by-the-headlines donation to the organization of your choice on a regular basis -- because then the money will be there for the next disaster. There WILL BE a next disaster; it might or might not be big enough to make the news in the U.S.; but the victims of that storm, earthquake, war or tsunami will be suffering just as much.

4. (Edited to add this.) Send money, not stuff. Here's an article explaining why. There are a few exceptions. For example, after Sandy, there were groups doing clean-up that needed specific items like giant sturdy trash bags. Some of them used Amazon.com wish lists to request what they needed, and people could buy those requested items and ship them in. If you are responding to a request, you can do a gift-in-kind. There are some organizations that will take very specific gifts-in-kind pretty much continuously -- some homeless shelters and women's shelters may appreciate tiny bottles of shampoo collected from hotel stays, little bars of soap, etc., and the "can food drive" is pretty well accepted at this point (although even there, if you have the choice between taking $10 to the store and buying cans to donate, or donating $10 to the food shelf, they can make that cash donation go MUCH further than you can.)

For your second-hand cast offs, pretty much anywhere you go in the U.S. you will find organizations that will eagerly take your old stuff and re-sell it in a thrift shop that raises money for their programs. I recommend ARC and the Epilepsy Foundation over Goodwill. Or hold a garage sale. Or offer it up on Craigslist. Just DO NOT SEND IT TO THE PHILIPPINES. They do not need your old shoes, they do not want your old shoes, and sending them your old shoes will create problems rather than solving them.

Naomi [userpic]

Endorsements: St. Paul

November 3rd, 2013 (11:12 pm)

This one's going to be shorter even though St. Paulites can rank up to five (or maybe six, if there's that many candidates?) instead of just three.

Mayor
1. Chris Coleman

School Board
Jean O'Connell
John Broderick
Chue Vue

(No rankings in that one because the votes are counted traditionally and not in IRV-style. Vote for three, and order doesn't count.)

City Council Ward 1
1. Dai Thao
2. Noel Nix
3. Johnny Howard
4. Kazoua Kong-Thao
5. Mark Voerding

Naomi [userpic]

Endorsements: Minneapolis

November 3rd, 2013 (11:02 pm)

For the convenience of people who just want to vote as if they were me, a cheat sheet.

Mayor
1. Betsy Hodges
2. Don Samuels
3. Stephanie Woodruff

I spent a lot of time pondering Cam Winton vs. Mark Andrew on the assumption that if it's not Betsy vs. someone or Don vs. someone in the final round, surely it'll be Cam vs. Mark.

But you know, in all honesty, I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know who's going to turn out for this or how they'll vote. The only poll was frankly really pretty useless. So rather than tying myself in knots trying to guess who the final two might be and which of those two is the lesser evil, I've decided I would just vote for my three favorites and hope for the best. (I am not super optimistic that Stephanie will even still be in play in that third round, but you never know. I like her focus on transparency; it's something Minneapolis could definitely use more of.)

City Council Ward 1
1. Kevin Reich

City Council Ward 2
1. Cam Gordon

City Council Ward 3
1. Jacob Frey

City Council Ward 4
1. Barb Johnson
2. Kris Brogan

City Council Ward 5
1. Ian Alexander
2. Blong Yang
3. Brett Buckner

Ian vs Blong is a close call, but I like Ian's background in public policy.

City Council Ward 6
1. Abdi Warsame
2. Robert Lilligren

City Council Ward 7
1. Lisa Goodman (running unopposed)

City Council Ward 8
1. Elizabeth Glidden (running unopposed)

City Council Ward 9
1. Alondra Cano
2. Charles Curtis
3. Ty Moore

City Council Ward 10
1. Lisa Bender

City Council Ward 11
1. Matt Steele
2. John Quincy

City Council Ward 12
1. Andrew Johnson
2. Chris Lautenschlager
3. Ben Gisselman

City Council Ward 13
1. Matt Perry
2. Linea Palmisano
3. Missy Durant

Board of Estimate and Taxation
1. Carol Becker
2. David Wheeler
3. David Pascoe

Park Board At-Large
1. Jason Stone
2. John Erwin
3. Ishmael Israel

(After talking to John Erwin I moved him back to #2. I like both Jason Stone and John Erwin; I'd like to see both of them on the Park Board. I'm keeping Jason Stone at #1 because I think he's more likely to need the help. ORDER MATTERS IN THIS RACE. You should pick three and rank them IN YOUR ORDER OF PREFERENCE, even though there are three open seats.)

Minneapolis Charter Amendments

YES and YES

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2013: Volume 8, Issue 1. It's Almost Time to Vote

November 3rd, 2013 (09:04 pm)

So it's Sunday night; the election's Tuesday.

Before you go vote, take a look at your ballot. For any precinct in Minnesota, you can visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ -- plug in your ZIP code and address, and you can find out where to go vote, and there will be a link to your sample ballot. I highly recommend checking this out, even if you've been following my posts, because there are races I didn't cover.

If you are still puzzled by Instant Runoff Voting, here is an excellent video that covers the basics: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/05/11/video_irv (At dinner, I was trying to explain IRV to Kiera and she was getting increasingly baffled. So I pulled up this video and had her watch it and she went from "I do not understand this at all, WHY is this a good idea?" to "THIS IS AWESOME. THIS IS THE BEST WAY EVER TO VOTE.")

Even if you understand how IRV works in the mayoral race, you may still want to watch this second video, which explains how IRV works in races like Park Board At-Large, where more than one person wins. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/10/22/how-instant-run-off-voting-works (stargoatpdx, you might want to bookmark that video for future use when explaining this method to people. The visuals help a lot.)

An important note on this is that in the Park Board At-Large race, order matters. There are three open seats, and you can vote for three candidates. But it's actually important to put your favorite candidate first, your second-favorite second, and your third-favorite third. (Or, you might list your long-shot candidate first because s/he is most likely to need the help.) But ORDER COUNTS. Previously in this race, there'd be three open seats and you got to pick three candidates and they each got one vote. Now, you get fractions. Watch the video -- it's complicated. The short version is just, order counts.

It also counts in the Board of Estimate and Taxation race, but I think it's less likely to matter there.

Finally, I liked this post from R.T. Rybak about looking to see who's funded by whom, before casting your vote: http://rtrybak.tumblr.com/day/2013/11/01

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