1. At Crosscut, Matt Fikse-Verkerk takes down all of us smug transit riders who assumed we couldn't be tracked by the government (which, of course, knows where you are by your license plate right this very minute): ORCA cards, he reports (those ubiquitous transit passes that are supposed to eventually replace money and transfers), contain unencrypted records of your last 10 trips. Because they're unencrypted, those records can be tracked—surprisingly easily, it turns out. In fact, there's even an app for it.
OK, that's theoretically alarming. But given the fact that just traveling on transit entails submitting to constant surveillance (via cameras at transit stations and on buses and trains), we've already more or less capitulated to the surveillance society. The fact that an app could theoretically tell someone I got off the bus today at—spoiler alert—Third and Pine is less alarming than that.
2. The AP reports that House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain about $1 billion apart on how much they believe should be spent fulfilling the state supreme court's McCleary decision, which found that the state is failing to adequately fund public education.
Although Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41) says he expects the two sides will be able to reach an agreement, Litzow—part of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus that took over the senate in a coup earlier this year—adds, "Probably nobody is going to be happy about it."
3. The Seattle Times reports on an announcement today that the city council and mayor plan to adding healthy items like carrot sticks and yogurt to vending machines at City Hall. While PubliCola is, frankly, skeptical that city employees will spring for pricey cut vegetables of indeterminate age when there are plenty of similarly healthy options available all around City Hall, we think it's doubly nuts to conclude, as Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center does in the Times' story, that putting healthy food in vending machines amounts to government overreach.
After all, no one decreed that vending machines must dispense only Hot Cheetos, Ding-Dongs, and the equivalent; and no one is taking those options away, either. Our guess is that they'll continue to be as popular as ever.
4. In response to concerns expressed by gun owners, the News Tribune (subscription required) reports that legislators have amended a bill that would require buyers at gun shows to submit to criminal background checks. The amended bill would require agencies that conduct background checks to destroy records of any such search and allow people to get around the background check if they already have a concealed-carry license.
The Seattle Times, reporting on the same legislation, picks up on another angle: Namely, what does the Bible have to say about gun control?
5. Finally, let's all shed a tear for Amazon gazillionaire Jeff Bezos, who, according to Forbes magazine, lost $900 million in stock value last year, bringing his net worth down to a mere $24.4 billion.