Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dinosaurs living with humans, 911 caused by the US government, astronauts seeing UFOs, Christ found on the moon

A "conservative" Christian was down at the Friday Peace Vigil to harass the vigil; or maybe he would say "witness the Bible" to them. Most folks were shouting at him, or ignoring him, but I tried to have a civil conversation as he approached me with his Bible.

We got on the topic of dinosaur and human footprints and he thinks dinosaurs and humans were here at the same time. I kept saying that the geologic evidence doesn't show that. Dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans. He doesn't buy the science that contradicts what he thinks the Bible says. I pointed out that one can believe just about anything; including some of the peace activists who think 911 was caused by our own government. I don't believe our government caused 911 by setting explosives in the buildings, tho some of my friends at the vigil do believe that.

He then started talking about a corporation, that he used to work at, where rumors were rampant. The conversation ended on a friendly note where we kind of agreed how gullible people can be and how easy it is for rumors to spread. I think the conversation actually ended when a friend of his tugged on his arm and said, I think it's time to go; like time to go eat or something.

Then I was talking to another person, about the space program, and he was saying that quite a few astronauts relate experiences of seeing UFOs while in space, but the government is hiding much of the info. I was a bit skeptical so I brought up the story of a former astronaut who "found Christ on the moon." It's a memory I have from TV news in the 1970s. Upon looking it up tonight, I found it was Jame's Irwin of Apollo 15.

Lots of claims out there. I'm fairly open minded, but skeptical.

Reading the story of Irwin, he was working hard on the moon in high heat as his drinking water tube wasn't functioning. With thirst and the sweaty work environment, NASA was noticing his heart was showing signs of stress. At one point, he was having trouble with a scientific instrument and prayed for help. Christ appeared and helped him set up that experiment. Upon returning from the moon, he became, basically, an evangelist. Christ appearing, but skeptics might think he was a bit under duress in that hot spacesuit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Maybe corporations pay less income tax overseas, but wealthy individuals pay more. We could do that here in USA to incentivize business investment.

Republicans are pushing for a corporate tax cut. They say business and corporations pay 35% taxes in USA while only having to pay 15% taxes in Canada. Lower corporate taxes in other developed countries as well. I can understand that logic, but what they don't say is that wealthy individuals pay higher taxes in Canada and most other developed countries. Maybe business gets more of a tax break, but wealthy individuals pay more.

I think the tax talk needs to do a better job differentiating between business and personal wealth.

I can see trying to reform taxes to create incentives for people to keep their money in business creating American jobs. Invest in the business, rather than the personal wealth that's spent on second homes and so forth. The wealthy, in this country, inflate things like the housing market by investing in already existing asserts; houses, collectables, famous paintings and so forth. Maybe the tax code should be modified to encourage people to put their money to work in a jobs creating business instead.

If we get a corporate tax cut, we shouldn't have it for nothing. Raising taxes on wealthy individual's personal income would be needed to balance that.

I know that some folks, on the left, would totally oppose any tax cut to business; especially corporations. They say that corporations find all the loopholes and don't pay much in taxes anyway. They really don't pay 35%. To some extent, that could be true. It's like a he said, she said kind of argument.

Another problem with the business tax cut idea is that artificial intelligence and automation is taking away many of the well paying jobs. Even if the business environment, in USA, is improved to make it more of an even playing field with other countries, there is no guarantee that lots of good jobs will follow.

To some extent, corporate culture and rampant materialism is the problem. We need to learn how to strive for quality of life. Part of quality of life could be developing business and a meaningful career so I can still see the logic in trying to help business to some extent. On the other hand, we also need to learn how to create quality of life in spite of whether the economy is booming or not.

I sometimes listen to Larry Kudlow on the radio who talks about corporate tax cuts, but people like him seem to never talk about balancing this with other taxes. It's all cut, cut, cut. Personal income of the wealthy, in this country, is vast and personal income taxes are much lower in USA than other developed countries such as Canada.

Some conservative economists say that just about any tax cut can be paid back from the taxes paid by increased economic activity caused by the tax cut. They always say that, but I'm sure there's a law of diminishing returns here. If tax cuts were always the road to prosperity we could conceivably cut taxes to 0 for maximum prosperity. I know, with the law of diminishing returns, this has to stop somewhere.

Other factors effect prosperity as well, such as environmental constraints; not just regulation that conservatives talk ad infinitum about. There are true constraints posed by the environment and the people living in that environment. Water shortages, lumber shortages, lack of space, traffic gridlock, you name it. Taxes are only one part of the picture.

Elon Musk has done a lot with his wealth to invest in new business frontiers such as Space X and electric vehicles. This is the kind of thing I can see as an argument for incentivizing investment in American business. On the other hand, it seems like most American business leaders and wealthy individuals are more risk averse.

The true bottom line should be quality of life which may, admittedly, be hard to measure. A good question to ponder is, are the wealthy helping us to do great things as a society or are they just hoarding money?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Upper middle class, rather than just the 1%, needs to pay more taxes

I think it can be a mistake when the left just vilifies the 1% income bracket. In the culture wars, part of the 1% tends to lean left.

Income disparity is a big problem, but I think it goes beyond just the 1%. Ideally, we should strengthen the progressive aspects of our income tax system. That means higher income people should pay more including 1% paying the most. With a more progressive tax system, other higher income people would pay more as well. The 1% would be at the top so they would pay the most, but other upper income people would, most likely, pay more also.

Income discrepancy also means that upper middle class has gotten way ahead of most of the rest of society. Possibly the top 20% needs to pay more, but I don't have a definite figure. The goal wouldn't be to draw a line around a certain group of folks just to vilify them. It would be to have a more progressive tax system. Upper income people could still be a welcome part of our communities.

Taxes do generate revenue for government, but another effect could be to tame some of the inflationary forces in, for instance real estate, where prices can go way out of line with other things in the economy. Housing prices can go up around 10% per year while the overall inflation rate, including most wages, is around 2%, for instance. I'm not citing exact numbers, but more the concept.

The income of upper middle class is a big part of what drives the lack of affordable housing for lower income people; including what could be called most of the working class. Upper middle class has created an inflated market for housing as home values skyrocket in many locations. Other things like the high fees charged by many professionals, such as doctors, drives a lot of the problems with access to healthcare and so forth.

If I were to redo the tax code, I would make the graduated tax steeper, as it was before the so called Regan Revolution. I would also provide some relief for business. If wealthy and upper middle class wish to invest their money in job creating business, there could be deductions. One doesn't want to smother business with taxes. On the other hand, if the money is just kept as personal income and used to drive up already existing investments such as real estate, I would increase the tax on that. It wouldn't have to be too punitive, but migrating more toward a progressive tax system could help bring some balance back to our economy. A healthier and more balanced economy could bring benefit to all.

Friday, September 08, 2017

My 2017 bicycle trip photos now posted to Flickr


Pictured: a grain elevator in Davenport, WA.

The photo album from my most recent bicycle trip to Pullman is now on Flickr. Open to the entire web. No need to log into anything.

When you click on each individual photo in the album, captions will appear at bottom left. Some of the photos have longer descriptions also for telling the story of my trip along with some childhood memories.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Debt ceiling is like an alarm clock they alway hit snooze on anyway. Might as well turn the damn thing off.

Maybe Trump and the Democrats can work together to get rid of the debt ceiling. It's like an alarm clock that keeps ringing and they always hit the snooze button.

In my opinion, the debt ceiling is just a token effort to rein in federal spending that's always broken anyway by such needs as hurricane relief, military spending and Medicare. It's like an alarm clock that gets in the way cause it's never headed. It keeps ringing causing political and financial turmoil and they always hit the snooze button anyway. Might as well shut the dam thing off if they aren't going to get up for it (so to speak) anyway.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Accepting the reality of the population that is here

Even the Republican Congress might pass legislation to, at least partially, accommodate the dreamer children. That's the children who have been brought to this country as children, but aren't officially citizens.

Paul Ryan, who normally says some pretty bad things, has said about the dreamers. "At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know." Coming from Paul Ryan, that's somewhat encouraging.

Maybe something can get done tho I don't really trust the Republicans. They now just about own this country and it's issues, however. They now get the blame and have the obligation to try and make it work.

Part of the immigration issue is the fact that there are more people that have come to USA than the legal quotas for immigration allow. Those quotas are set by Congress. The quotas can be adjusted to better reflect the reality of who's here. Better reflect who's here and, in many cases, already working in our economy.

A big part of the issue is world population growth. The numbers keep getting bigger. The numbers and the quotas that have been set by Congress in the past don't match.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I am now on another bicycle trip across Washington State

I will post photos after I get back. Meanwhile a few updates on Facebook. Back sometime in September. My 2017 trip.

Photo Album


Link added 9/17/2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pot shops in Washington State could help retail landlords



Legalizing pot, here in Washington State, has been good for a lot of landlords of commercial property. Pot shops are appearing in formerly empty storefronts in strip malls and so forth. I hear that many cities have an oversupply of retail space available; especially now with the advent of on-line shopping. Pot comes to the rescue. Good for the economy? Just what the Republicans want to hear?

Money addiction like sex addiction only more accepted

One of the friends, I bump into every once in a while for conversation, talks about the problem of addiction. Addiction to money, addiction to sexuality and so forth. He's attended quite a few Twelve Step groups such as Alcoholics Autonomous. I also think he's been to a few sex addicts groups. He believes that sexuality should not be done for just pleasure. It's meant for procreation. He's not a conservative, however. He also believes that money would not exist in an ideal society. People would share without the need for money. Folks would give what they could and take what they need. Some of our human passions are destroying ourselves and the planet, for sure.

My own belief is quite different, however. I tend to think moderation. Personally, I've never felt the need to go to a Twelve Step group. Years ago, I did attend one Twelve Step meeting; a birthday party for another friend. Seemed like a good community. My friend talks of the human need for community while also avoiding the addictions that can tarnish community. My views are less austere in some ways. I think sexuality can be good even for just pleasure, but it can be addicting and destructive as well. Moderation is needed.

Money is the same way. Money is a tool to help us keep track of how much people give and receive. It allows us to enumerate things to maintain fairness. It's a tool, but it can also be an addiction.

In mainstream society, sex addiction has a bad connotation while money addiction tends to be more overlooked; especially in conservative circles.

This friend, who tends to circulate in fairly liberal circles, is critical of both conservative and liberal circles. As climate change becomes more alarmingly evident, he says we need to do more than just petition the government and corporations to do something. Both liberals and conservatives, who do things like drive cars and travel by jet, need to change. Cut back on these things at least. Become less consumptive and driven by our hungers.

I tend to agree, but it's an austere way of thinking. I point out that new technology, such as solar power, hydrogen fuel and so forth, can allow some of these things to continue and even flourish.

Just then this friend introduced me to another person who had just sat down at the table. The new person talked about driving an electric car and (I think) solar panels on her home that charge her car.

Another day at the Swan Cafe "Think Tank." We solved all the world's problems. Not really, but at least they got discussed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bellingham, WA. similar in size of land area to San Francisco.

While discussing housing during our Sunday LGBTQ walk, Betty Desire, brought up an interesting perspective. The cities of San Francisco and Bellingham both have the same land area. Around 700,000 people live in San Francisco while only around 80,000 live in Bellingham. We can build more housing, smaller footprint housing and so forth. There just has to be the will.

Of course overpopulation is a big problem, world wide, but that's yet another story. I don't know if the world can (or should) go past 7 billion current residents. World population is still growing tho slowing. Bellingham isn't likely to go to 700,000 anytime soon, but we can accommodate more people. Seems like quite a few people want to live in Bellingham. There are quite a few apartment and condo complexes under construction. This might ease the shortage.

I feel very fortunate as I still have affordable rent, myself, but several friends of mine are literally being pushed out of this area. People who's lives aren't necessarily about money.

It isn't just a simple matter of people and space. Economics, in this country, isn't working either. I think low interest rates have worked against us, rather than in our favor. Low interest rates were designed to stimulate job growth, which has happened to some extent, but at the same time, low interest rates can lead to what economists call "asset bubbles."

Property, as a commodity, has gone up so far in value that it's outstripped most of the rest of the economy and its the whole economy that creates the jobs, not just the value of assets.

The gap between property inflation and jobs is especially evident, here in Bellingham, where most of the residential money seems to come from retirement. Bellingham is ranked among the worse metro areas, in USA, for affordability of housing compared to the local job market. Other cities may have even more expensive housing, but many of their jobs tend to pay more. More depressed areas have cheaper housing. This is a nationwide problem, but it seems to afflict Bellingham particularly bad.

The whole situation could change for the better if we had the will to make it work. I'm hoping some of the construction that I see around town can ease the shortage a bit. It will take more than just that to solve this; like a new mindset for lower footprint lifestyles. Density as a way to curb sprawl and so forth. Good planning. I know, everyone has their own definition of good planning, but we can do better.

Tip for a low sugar drink. Unsweetened ice tea with a dab of Pepsi to reduce bitterness of the tea.

I've been drinking a lot. Not alcohol, but unsweetened ice tea.

My low sugar hydration trick is totally unsweetened ice tea with just a dab of regular Pepsi, or Coke. I make up a big batch for the refrigerator and then put the dab of Pepsi in each glass. The Pepsi (or Coke) takes away the bitterness of totally sugar free ice tea.

Water, by itself, is still a bit too boring for my (possibly) spoiled tastes. I do drink lots of that also, but mostly while biking.

I thought up the "tad of Pepsi" idea at Rudy's Pizza where I had them make the mix from the pop fountain taps. Then it donned on me I can do the same thing at home.

Still keeping to only one quart chocolate milk per day, diluted with regular milk.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

A church that doesn't require one to believe in so called "truths" without scientific evidence is good

I like the liberal church of my upbringing even though I don't currently work "church" into my schedule. I like not being required to believe in anything that doesn't have strong scientific evidence supporting it. I don't consider myself an atheist, however, as I still hold out some hope for things that may transcend this limited life.

Personally, I put ideas about what are called "super natural" things into a category of speculations, hopes and unknowns. Seems like most humans need these hopes for getting through this life. That need may come from our survival instincts, if nothing else, but that need is evident to me. No wonder religions remain popular tho their popularity is declining in the west. The alternative; a world of nothing that we think of as spirit, seems rather bleak.

There seems to always be plenty of room for speculations and these glimmers of hope as we haven't yet run out of new things to learn. I think of many ideas as being interesting speculations, rather than hard facts. That's where fundamentalist religions get into trouble. It's easy for people to fight over what they think are rigid facts; especially if there's no scientific way to verify those facts.

Ancient peoples would have thought of electricity as being magic. Now we are getting better at understanding electricity. Similar to learning more about electricity, something as fundamental as time, itself, is not understood. I like thinking about big questions like what is time? I like wondering about what causes the universe to exist and what causes our biological bodies to create self awareness. I still think there are a lot of truths that are beyond what we are currently able to conceptualize, given the way our minds have evolved. This gives me hope about some meaning beyond just our short lives, but hope and speculation is different than solid fact.

I'm also thinking about the concept of rigid fact versus ideas of Relativity Theory where things like the length of a yardstick become fluid. Then there's the weirdness of the quantum realm. That weirdness and fluidity is part of science also, not just imagination. My mind goes to many tangents.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Only the upper middle class and above will be able to afford insurance if there is no subsidy

It seems like only the upper middle class and the wealthy can afford health insurance without it being subsidized. Healthcare costs are just too high and the income gap is too wide in USA. That's why Republican plans don't work. Republicans hate subsidizing people from taxes that other people have to pay.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Big reason why Republicans fail on healthcare; they are adverse to taxes for subsidies

A big reason why Republicans can't pass a healthcare bill is that healthcare has to be subsidized to work for a large percent of the American people; including many of the Republican voters themselves. That means someone has to pay higher taxes for it to work. Republicans almost always vote against taxes. Healthcare just doesn't work without taxes for subsidies, or at least it wouldn't be available to a large segment of people. That's the reality of a society with such a huge income disparity. Healthcare can't even be close to being universally available without subsidies in a society with such a high income gap. Republicans walked to the abyss of pulling the plug on large segments of Americans, including many of their own voters, and at least a few of the Republicans got cold feet.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Some of my photos from 2017 Bellingham Pride Festival and Parade are on Flickr



Lighting up the night for that weekend, July 7 - 9 2017. Bellingham Herald sign in rainbow colors.

Images on Flickr. See also descriptions with each picture.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A very good documentary on Betelgeuse. What's Betelgeuse?



It's a huge red giant star I heard about in grade school (pronounced Beetle Juice, I think though I've heard some folks say Bettlegeese).

It's real unstable and on the brink of exploding, supernova style. Only 640 light years from Earth, but they think the brunt of the blast will miss Earth. Gamma ray bursts from the poles would go another direction missing Earth. Being about to blast in astronomical time means sometime in the next several thousand years, tho.

This video is real good, in my opinion. Tells much about the history of our research about this star. Doesn't have a lot of "shocker whoom" sound or blast hype, like movies often do. It's very educational. I also enjoy the background music. Kind of relaxing, ironically because it is about an eventual super nova.

If Betelgeuse were to blow in our lifetimes, there would be a really bright star in the sky for about 4 days. Visible in the daytime at 100 times the brightness of the full moon. It would provide much excitement for scientists and the public alike, but who knows when that moment will occur.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump's smokestack jobs not coming back, but can anything else bring back lots of middle class jobs?

The old jobs aren't coming back. What kind of jobs will there be in the future? Some futurists highlight two types of work that can’t easily be automated or performed by robots: Interpersonal work such as coaching, care giving and negotiating, and creative work such as developing new business opportunities and innovating. This, in an article in Yahoo Finance by columnist Rick Newman entitled; Tech experts diss Trump's jobs policy.

I say, much of this type of work, that is done now, doesn't pay well or is volunteer. Much of interpersonal work and care giving, for instance.

Creative work such as developing new business opportunities is there, but how often are new business opportunities needed? Will this employ millions upon millions of people?

Writing, conversation and photography is creative work. Much of it is posted on places like Facebook for free. Where's the payoff?

Seems like a broad based middle class boom for jobs is not likely, given what the near future looks like today, in my opinion. Technology is great for the consumer, but not necessarily great for the worker. We have consumer empowerment, such as booking our own flights online, but how can one earn a living in this environment? Not as a travel agent, for instance.

I would guess no more than 20% of the workforce will be needed in the "high tech," highly skilled jobs of the present and near future. This 20% is what the talk of needing more education is based on. What about the rest of us?

Possibly another 40% can be employed in professions such as nursing and teaching. My numbers are not exact, of course. Can average and entry level nurses or teachers afford to live in expensive cities such as Seattle? Not necessarily just the superstars.

Education can still be valuable for living a quality life and becoming an informed voter, but not necessarily for much of the service jobs that seem to be proliferating these days. Coffee shop baristas and so forth. It's good to be conversant in the humanities, as a coffee shop barista. Enlightening to customers, good for society. It's good art, but can the 80% of us still afford to live in our cities?

Wages are higher, these days, than in the 1960s, but certain costs, such as housing and healthcare, have gone so high, in the metro areas where a lot of the jobs are, that the days of the broad middle class may not be achievable. One can try to bring up wages, but if certain costs continue to outstrip wages, the middle class isn't coming back.

Somehow, we need to figure out how to make society work and be affordable for people in the jobs that most people will be working.

Also, to some extent, jobs could be an outdated concept. Figuring out how to survive, while doing gratifying volunteer work, is a trend I notice, around here in my city of Bellingham, WA. at least.

Rethinking economics for sure.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pulling the plug on healthcare for lower income people

Representative Mo Brooks, R-Alabama thinks universal health care is too expensive but tax cuts for the rich are necessary.

Adding my own comments. Since 49% of births are now paid for from Medicaid, maybe a lot of those babies should be aborted? Life may not be worth living if one has a chronic and costly disease or needs to be in a nursing home. Can we even afford healthcare for all our people? I hope we can do better than this, but these deep questions, about the value of human life in various stages, do need to be part of the conversation.

As for tax cuts for the rich, it seems like some people use an analogy of a fire to describe the economy. They think that taxing wealthy people smothers the fire. Others, such as economists like Paul Krugman, say that the wealthy are hoarding money. Their analogy would come closer to one of circulation. Be generous, spend money. Especially if the money isn't being spent otherwise, tax, spend and keep the money circulating.

Mo Brooks also talks about bad health choices which people make that society can't keep supporting. Smoking, bad diets, lack of exercise. I can understand, a bit, being a bicyclist myself. At the same time, where's the compassion? Some people have more health, some have more money, some people have neither. A society with little compassion is a crude culture. Do Congressman Mo Brooks and his colleagues ride bicycles? What about the changes we need to make in society to promote healthier living? Time for exercise versus having to be a workaholic. What about support for parks and trails, better diets, less sugary soft drinks? What about doing better than just pulling the rug out from under people? What about doing better than just denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions?

Folks like Mo Brooks do have support from some segments of the American people. I know that one can get what is called "compassion fatigue." Feeling overwhelmed. People in Italy are dealing with thousands and thousands of immigrants landing on their shores, from overpopulated countries in Africa and so forth, but if the Italians and other Europeans can survive and even thrive, why can't we? Our own immigration circumstance is not currently as overwhelming as that? Of course we can't hold up the whole world, but I hope we can do better at taking care of the people than what Republicans tend to propose.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Seattle metro's inflated property values make it a sitting duck for funding state needs

I recently read Danny Westneat's July 5 column in Seattle Times. Seattle gets rolled in Olympia tax deal.

Here's another case where property value inflation leads to problems. Seattle metro's high property values make it a "sitting duck target" for state government struggling to find money to fund the McCleary school funding court mandate.

They balanced the budget with property taxes.

I (personally) might think that is okay. Not being a property owner, myself, I tend to think homeowners are all getting rich from growing equity. This, tho, isn't always the case. Those inflated property values are just the "new norm" that people have to deal with to afford living in our urban areas. Also, renters get hit too as property taxes get passed on in the form of higher rents.

Other forms of taxes, that also address the income gap in more accurate ways, aren't done in Washington State. In spite of being a "blue state," Washington has no state income tax. A good thing about income taxes is that they can be graduated so higher income people pay more.

Some forms of capital gains taxes can work also; like maybe when people sell property at a huge windfall. These kind of taxes don't usually pass in this state either.

We also keep missing opportunities to pass carbon taxes.

Here in Whatcom County, there is a pressing need to address our inadequate county jail. An expensive task. Plans for a big new jail have relied on local sales tax add-on; Washington's "workhorse" tax. Regressive. The last jail ballot measure failed. It would have raised local sales taxes to the limit which state conservatives have imposed (I-601 limits). Conservatives tend to support things like jails, but those sorts of things bust tax limits. Last year, as I remember, the Bellingham police guild feared that the jail tax would limit our ability to fund expansions to fire stations and other public safety. Crippling our local funding abilities for a whole 30 years.

In our city of Bellingham, which is more blue than rural county areas, I remember that our mayor suggested part of that bill, for the new jail, be covered by property taxes rather than all from the sales tax. Maybe a 50/50 split? Take some of the burden off of just the sales tax.

A jail expansion plan is heading back to the ballot, but I think it's still just a sales tax again.

Many liberals also think the plans for a new county jail are too large. There's a lot of local advocacy for alternatives to incarceration.

Come to think about it, some people think of schools as being prisons also. Large, institutional and costly.

Education is a valuable thing, but Washington may be unique in it's constitutional wording of education as it's top priority; the wording behind McCleary. Unfortunately this often leads to a "zero sum" battle between schools and other important state needs; such as social services, public safety, environmental protection and state parks.

We tend to suffer from "compartmental thinking." Put money in the compartment called "school" to have an enlightened society. I worry if the institutions of education cannibalize other things. Not that I don't value teachers and schools. Instead, I like to think more holistically. The job of teachers becomes harder if the rest of society is neglected. It's all part of a tapestry of society. State parks, for instance, can help education by preserving historic and natural places and presenting them to the public. Destinations for class field trips, if nothing else.

Another part of the tapestry is for people to pay their fair share in taxes. Graduated taxes on windfall profits and high personal incomes are best. Taxing business can be a problem that stifles business. It's better to tax the huge incomes and windfall profits that certain individuals make from business.

I guess property taxes have the same problem. Taxing landlords, for instance, is a problem as they pass that increase on to renters. Maybe it's better to try and tax the windfall profits that so often happen when property changes hands. Maybe that would cool down the inflated real estate market that's becoming so much of a problem in our prosperous urban areas.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

I don't think 911 was an inside job, but ...

I know a few people who believe that the 911 attack was an inside job. Caused by "powers that be" in US government and business. Explosives set in the buildings and so forth, rather than terrorists. I don't buy this idea, but the fact that so many people ascribe to it does say something about the leadership of our society. The leadership must be pretty bad at winning the respect of citizens if so many people would actually think something like 911 was done by the leadership on purpose. People tend to be cynical about government and corporations anyway and a few take that cynicism still farther.

I feel a lot of our problems are not necessarily caused by our leaders, but instead by obsolete patterns in our culture. Our problems are caused by people, including some at the grassroots level. Still, the leaders aren't very good at being leaders or winning the respect of people.

Beyond the problems, I also see good things in people and society. It's a mixed bag. At times I prefer to focus more on the good. I focus on the good partially for selfish reasons. It's less of a downer. It's better for my own disposition if nothing else.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I'm both socially and fiscally liberal, but also believe in some personal responsibility

Some people say they are socially liberal while being fiscally conservative. I'm both socially and fiscally pretty liberal. Basically I tend to support higher taxes and I recognize a good role that government spending can play. Where I may sound "conservative" is in the role of personal responsibility. Rather than just blaming everything on corporations and the rich, I try and see what we can do, ourselves, to improve society. How can we live for a better environment, better health and so forth. Things like bicycle culture. I think about how can we be responsible consumers. If we want better conditions for workers, I ask how do we treat the workers in the businesses that we are consumers at? Are we impatient, or do we give them a break? As workers and professionals, do we gouge consumers and institutions with our high prices and salaries? If we want to tax the rich, do we, at least, put out enough effort to cast a vote come election time?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My walk home from the first grade in Pullman, WA.



One hears that kids aren't allowed to walk very far by themselves these days. I guess people were less afraid in my first grade days around 1961. I walked quite a ways to my school. Maybe around 1/3rd of a mile. It did scare me, however. I felt I had to avert my eyes from this scary looking knot of wood in the fence. Years before my first grade, a tree had grown through the fence. When they cut it down, they left a knot of wood ingrown through the fence. I would run to get past it.

Regent's Hill Dorm Complex in background.



The rest of my walk was through the WSU district of fraternities and sororities. That used to scare me also. Today, I'd be erotically turned on by shirtless college guys, but back then they scared me. They were throwing footballs across the street and I was afraid the ball would hit me. They would toss the ball up over my head to their buddies across the street so it never hit me, but I always hesitated walking by. One time I convinced myself that it would be okay to keep walking even when I saw someone poised to toss the ball. I thought I could get over my fear if I kept walking so I proceeded. Just then, the ball hit a telephone cable causing it to bounce back and fall right in front of me. It didn't actually hit me, but I was back to being scared again.

One time, I got to talking to a student as I was walking home. He befriended me and invited me to his home which was a rambling student rental house. He introduced me to his buddies and showed me around the house. Main thing I remember was in the kitchen; the largest peanut butter jar I had ever seen. After asking me my name, my new found student friend looked up my parents and gave them a call. They came and got me and they were a little concerned that I had been too trusting. My parents admitted that it was a good experience, this time. They said I was lucky because you never know who you might encounter.



My first grade school building had only 2 grades. Kindergarten and first grade. 2nd through 5th grades were in a different school. Today, that old school building is a small shopping center. It serves the college neighborhood. My first grade teacher used to scare me also. Her name was Miss Schmidt; a strict teacher of German heritage. Today, her classroom is a less scary Jimmy John's sandwich shop.

My walk from school took me through Regent's Dormitory Complex. Part of it was up on pilings.





The complex had little courtyards that were like Japanese gardens. During Easter, dorm residents used to hide eggs around and invite neighborhood kids over for an Easter egg hunt.

The I think the Sculpture is called Rain Forest. There's a similar work in Bellingham by the same artist. It's in front of the Wade King Fitness Center at WWU. Artist for both sculptures, James FitzGerald.



The final push home was over Regent's Hill which was right past the dorms. Our house was on a dead end street just behind the hill. My dad took a home movie of me walking down the driveway to first grade. In the background is a concrete bucket swinging from a crane as Streit/Perham Dorm Complex was being built behind the back fence of the neighbors across the street.



My first grade year was 1960-61. Photos taken later years on various visits to Pullman.

People say that was a more innocent time, but I don't know. I think per capita violent crime is lower now in the US than it was back then. Even then, Pullman had its share of drinking problems, but I was pretty oblivious to that. Now that so many stories of child abuse, and so forth, are coming out, I decided to share this happier story. People are more aware of the problems these days. Still, most of the time, I guess, like in this story, things aren't so bad.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

More colors for the rainbow flag? Okay. It's lost and gained colors during it's lifetime.

New pride flag divides Philadelphia's gay community.

More colors on the rainbow flag? I'm pretty "live and let live." Whatever. As long as people aren't fighting about it, but too bad, there does tend to be friction. The phrase, "we've met the enemy and he is us" comes to mind. It's really up to us to have diverging perspectives without being disagreeable.

According to WIKI, the original gay pride flag had more colors anyway. It had hot pink and more than one shade of blue. The flag was streamlined with those colors dropped, in part, because lack of availability in pink cloth, back in the late 1970s, I guess.

The flag is like the acronym. Gay is pretty limited so it becomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender; GLBT. Then there's more. Allies, questioning, gender fluid and so forth. GLBTQA...? The acronym can get cumbersome so it can be replaced with the word "Queer." An umbrella term? The "big tent?" That doesn't please everyone either.

Some folks might argue that the laws of physics, related to light refraction, doesn't allow brown or black to show up in real rainbows. Brown isn't part of that spectrum, but what is color anyway? Color is an artifact of our perceptions. The true refraction of light is just a gradation of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. Brown and white are various mixtures of light frequencies. Black is absence of light.

I don't think the flag is necessarily cast in concrete. There can be many versions of it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I've put lots of new photos on my Flickr Account in the past few months



I've put lots of new photos on my Flickr Account in the past few months. Unlike many photos, I enjoy putting captions and fairly detailed descriptions. Self expression including political views on sustainable economics. The descriptions seem to bring some traffic also as descriptions are not real common on Flickr. Also, of course, anything that relates to naked bike rides becomes popular.

Here are some recent tags I have added to.

Western Washington University

Bellingham airport trail open house

Ferndale

My photo stream from the top

WNBR Bellingham 2017 Fairly tame.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We shouldn't have Sharia Law or Leviticus Law. Separation of church, or mosque and state

Anti Sharia law marchers clashing with opposition. Craziness of culture war confrontation.

I would just hold up a sign saying "Separation of Church and State." It should also say "Separation of Mosque and State." It should then say "Variety of Religions Welcome."

Maybe a crowd of sign holding liberals would complain about my sign as they might say it's at the wrong time so its lending a bit of support to Islamophobia. The conservative organization, that's drumming up these anti Sharia marches, wouldn't really welcome me either. I'd be in the wrong culture war pew.

Really, I wouldn't want Sharia Law or Christian Law which, ironically stem from the same historic roots. Religion has some good benefits for individuals, but with all the differing faiths out there, the state needs to keep a neutral ground.

Toward end of article it says.

No area of the U.S. has legally implemented sharia, despite false reports on social media that Dearborn, Mich., enacted it.

According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. has a population that is only 0.9 percent Muslim; and Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University, told the AP that the vast majority of U.S. Muslims oppose implementing sharia in the U.S.

Then there's the Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."