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  • Seal with a Pen

The Upbeat: Daylight Santa Time

It's amazing how devoid the national news media is of positive stories at the present time. Of course, positive stories could be covered; positive things happen all the time. Our society certainly seeks to de-emphasize them, however.

On another note, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what things I should cover, and on which days. My posting may be a little bit erratic while I try different things out, but my present goal is to publish The Upbeat twice a week, alongside another piece on some other political subject in which I'm interested. I hope you enjoy it.

-- Seal with a Pen

Permanent daylight savings time may improve your quality of life. Last month, the U.S. Senate finally (and unanimously) approved a bill aiming to make daylight savings time permanent. This is fascinating because, while Americans grumble about the issue every year, nothing's happened since the 1970s. But with the government potentially moving towards making daylight savings time permanent -- meaning no more moving the clocks -- a big question remains: will this change truly make our lives better? Last week Government Executive published a wonderful article on this matter, detailing five ways your life might change because of permanent DST. While you'll have to read the article for the details, I might as well share these five predictions with you now. Here they are: (1) increased evening sunlight will save more lives than increased morning light; (2) crime will decrease accordingly; (3) energy will be saved, and permanent DST has been used for this purpose before; (4) clocks won't need to be switched anymore; and (5) we'll have more time to go out to shop and play with permanent DST. I strongly recommend reading the article if you're interested in learning more about how simple policy changes like daylight savings can change lives for the better. The article: (Government Executive)

City governments use federal aid to improve quality of life. Early last year, many local governments received aid from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress. While the efficiency and efficacy of the bill are up for debate, and I am not here to promote or attack its passage, the bill was intended to help Americans recover from the economic slowdown associated with the COVID pandemic, and it certainly has done at least some good. Today, Route Fifty (a subsidiary site of Government Executive) published an article detailing how some local governments are using the money to upgrade their services in order to make life easier for their constituents. In many cases, old technology is being replaced and new infrastructure installed to help citizens: services like paying parking tickets remotely, streaming government meetings online, and applying for dog licenses over the internet. These services aren't supposed to wholly replace in-person interactions, however: government offices remain open for those who need a personal touch. Although people may debate to the moon and back what policies to implement and what methods to use, it's good and healthy to be able to look at things and see more than just the negatives. The article: (Route Fifty)

Moderates make gains in Alaska and Oregon. While many Americans frequently repeat the maxim that an independent vote is a wasted vote, it turns out that independents can win elections -- and it may be that gubernatorial races (those for state Governor) are the most independent of them all. Of course, independents can be moderate or radical; there is no requirement! Moderate independents, however, are making gains this year: in Oregon, independent state senator Betsy Johnson is running for office on a platform of bipartisanship, including addressing Portland's infamous homelessness and public safety crises. While some people might write off her campaign, Betsy Johnson has already raised more money than any of her Democratic or Republican competitors, with a cool $5.1 million. If elected, Johnson would be the first non-Democrat to serve as Oregon governor since the 1980s. Meanwhile, in Alaska, former Governor Bill Walker, also elected as an independent in 2014, is now running to claim a second four-year term. The only poll conducted in the race thus far shows him winning.

Santa Claus of North Pole, Alaska (Credit: Joy Strotz/USA Today)

Santa Claus runs for elected office. Yes, you read that right: a man legally named Santa Claus, an elected city councilor in North Pole, Alaska, is running to be the state's next congressional representative. He's an independent (as one might expect such a popular figure to be) and certainly looks like the real deal. Whether he has any real electoral prospects is up for debate, but certainly it's a well-deserved relief for us all to see somebody running such a fun campaign. Read more: (Anchorage Daily News)


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