Sunday, January 21, 2018

Yes, I guess the Democrata are flilibustering, but there's a way around

Republicans are blaming Democrats for the government shutdown because Democrats are basically filibustering the debt ceiling bill until it includes relief from deportation for the Dreamer people. President Trump kind of started this problem by using executive action to try and deport Dreamer people until legislation can be passed to resolve the issue. I would guess that an easy way out of this impasse, now, is for Trump to delay, or totally scrap, the executive action on deportation. Maybe delay it by a year or even half a year? That should take the pressure off that issue so the government can reopen. Then Congress can continue to try and resolve that issue. He's probably afraid that Congress will be run by Democrats next year.

Friday, January 19, 2018

If federal government were drowned in a bathtub, the west coast blue states might form their own country?

Some conservatives say that they want to shrink government down to where it can be drowned in a bathtub. I got to thinking, if the Federal Government capitulates the the states can form their own countries. Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada are a big cluster of what are called "blue states." That would be a great country. Things like Social Security could be handled by our state, or "left coast" country.

Maybe the US is too big to govern; especially if any one political party totally dominates. I wouldn't want to see USA break apart, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

As for the red and blue political divide, that situation wouldn't be solved, tho, as there is a lot of red and blue in each region. Rural areas tend to be more red, urban areas, even in Texas, tend to be more blue.

The idea of red blue divide is pretty stark as I know folks who could be classified as red that are basically nice people even though I'd be mostly classified as blue. I tend to not wish to divide people too much. Still, just the size of the country is a factor. Aside from the red blue divide, it could be that smaller countries work better anyway.

Who would pay off the federal debt? Everyone would just walk away from it. Sounds tempting, but I know it wouldn't necessarily be that simple.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shithole countries sounds like a comment some people would say after a few beers

This column, by Rex humppke in the Chicago Tribune, lays it on pretty strong. He might not like my first response to Trump's "shitholes" comment either, even though I am not a Trump supporter. My response is that the shitholes comment sounds like something a few people, I know, might say around the water cooler, or after they'd been to the bar for a while. I think there is lots of off the cuff, derogatory talk among people in general, but we aren't used to hearing it from the president of the United States. Ideally, it would be nice to strive toward civility. Authenticity and honest expression of feelings can be a virtue, but there is an awful lot of negativity going around.

T shirt for I ❤️ Shithole Countries. Seen at Bellingham Peace Vigil. Things like T shirts come out fast these days. Focus of my camera isn't the best in low light, in a hurry at least.

Friday, January 12 2017.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Paying the rent by selling xerox copies, or other things, more an improbability in today's economy

Interesting how the price of a xerox copy hasn't changed much since my college days in the late 1970s. Around 5 cents. Back then, making copies usually met putting nickles in the copy machine. There were a lot of them located in Wilson Library at WWU. A few places were more expensive. The copy machine at the City Library was 10 cents a copy.

Late 70s early 1980s saw the advent of retail copy outlets. Buying in bulk could get the price lower; like 3 cents a copy. There hasn't been much inflation in the world of xerox copies and many other goods and services that make up our economy and provide wages. That's probably why wages tend to be lagging behind inflation. For large segments of the workforce, wages are based on the price that businesses can get for the goods and services they provide. Technological advance, outsourcing, and competition tends to keep prices down. In some fields, like computers, prices drop.

Meanwhile prices in just a few sectors of the economy have gone up. For instance housing. When I was in college, I rented a room in Bellingham for $55 per month. That was a pretty good price even back then, but it would be unthinkable today. Healthcare is a lot more expensive also. Another big change is tuition at colleges. No wonder people who work providing inexpensive goods and services have trouble affording these things.

Somehow, we need to deal with the growing gaps in our economy. The discrepancies between various sectors. This isn't necessarily the problem of inflation or stagnation.

Seems like part of the problem is that we look at the economy as if were one monolithic block. Then we ask does it need stimulation or do we need to damp down inflation? Problem is, the economy is not one monolithic block. One set of gas or brake peddles no longer makes sense. Today's problem relates to the vast and growing discrepancies between different people and sectors of the economy. That needs to be addressed through various means such as graduated taxes.

This problem has many implications such as battles over where to set the minimum wage where one side wants to raise it so people can afford to live while the other side says it will cost jobs since businesses may not be able to raise their prices accordingly. This especially may effect small business and businesses where the top executives don't make huge salaries. Of course in the businesses where the top makes huge salaries, they can redistribute within the business, but not all businesses are in that position.

Another implication of this problem is environmental. People often feel that the road back to being able to afford the cost of living is increasing prosperity. Just sell more stuff. Problem is we are drowning in stuff and revving up the economy has serious implications for things like the carbon footprint. Serious implications for our psychology as well if life becomes a rat race filled with overtime work. We really need to figure out how to have quality rather than quantity when it comes to prosperity. Part of quality is less discrepancy in wages, prices and so forth within the economy.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Nuclear button size like game of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Comparing the size of one's nuclear button makes me think about the old game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Paper seems weaker so it can be cut by scissors, but scissors can be broken by rock. Rock has the biggest button, I guess, but does Rock always win? Not really as paper can cover rock. In that case, paper wins.

One can think of paper as being the damage that can be inflicted by a small power, or terrorist group. Even our big industrial civilization has vulnerabilities. It's best not to taunt fate.

It can be tempting to exhibit an air of confidence when one feels they have power, however. Several years ago, I remember a meme, going around, about the West versus something in the Middle East. I forgot the exact details, but I think the caption read.

"We hear that you don't allow your women to do military service." "Well guess what." "We do." It then shows a picture of women pilots headed across the flight deck of a powerful looking aircraft carrier.

Even quite a few folks on the left liked that image which was circulating around on a Veteran's Day as I remember. Empowerment of women, compared to the situation in some other parts of the world. That's one of the threads of thought.

Still it's something to be wary of.

Friday, January 05, 2018

I am not that enthused about the concept of a "bucket list"

I am not that enthused about the concept of a "bucket list." It's a new concept, I think. It's the list of things one wants to do before they die; like places to visit and so forth. To me, it just seems to put too much pressure on living. I do want my life to be interesting, but without the pressure of fulfilling some checklist that no one, including me, will likely remember 100 years from now anyway.

There may be enough bandwidth for all anyway

As I see it, lack of net neutrality may, or may not be a problem. Depending on whether the situation can be best described with "Zero Sum" thinking, or not. Zero sum thinking is where one thing's gain would be another person's loss. If internet providers have to slow down data, from some websites, in order to speed up service from others, then it is a bad thing. On the other hand, if there is enough bandwidth and abundance for all, it might not matter. It might not matter even if internet service providers decide to innovate in the way of creating some new kinds of connections to certain types of content. If there is great abundance, which is often the case in electronics, there may be always enough for everyone; bandwidth that is.

Abundance is less evident in economics, or at least in figuring budgets. For instance, here in Washington State where the Supreme Court is ordering state government to better fund K-12 education, zero sum realities mean that other state programs, such as state parks, would have to be cut. In this case also, maybe we can expand the entire pie of state funding so providing more money to education doesn't have to take things away from other services.

It's easier to do that in the world of technology than it is in the world of economics, however.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Discussion around the Me Too hashtag could bring some credence to the concept of original sin

Discussion around the Me Too hashtag could bring some credence to the concept of original sin; a concept that most of us liberals tend to discredit. Original sin is thought of as an unhealthy idea to tell everyone that they are broken at birth. Still, it depends on how one interprets things. "Broken" could just mean no one is perfect. It could just mean a check on one's ego.

Everyone fails, but there's also forgiveness. I sometimes wonder if "conservatives" have a more robust system for weathering these issues than "liberals." I realize the terms conservative and liberal are not the best, but I'll use them just for thinking. It's all kind of gross stereotyping, I know.

When someone in the liberal camp, like Al Franken, falters, is he thrown under the bus while Donald Trump can survive his falters? What's the difference?

Maybe it's the concept of sin and then forgiveness? On the campaign trail, Trump admitted to locker room talk that he wasn't proud of.

Was just admitting that he wasn't proud of it enough to give him a pass? It seems to work for some conservatives.

Is there a similar system of redemption that liberals can use?

Personally, I think the idea of original sin can be useful, tho I am definitely not a fundamentalist. I'm not one that believes in so called scriptural infallibility even though I'm open to the possibility that there could be a "spirit dimension" to things.

Aside from what one thinks about religion, there are many secular parallels to the concept of original sin (I would think if I understand it at all, maybe I don't). It's just basically the idea that we are not perfect. A check to our egos. Also a check to our tendency to feel entitled to everything. Entitled to money, sex, or whatever. It's a form of humbleness which can be manifested in different ways.

In science, there's a form of humbleness that comes from the fact that we don't know everything. I've heard the phrase, "the more we know, the more we know that we don't know."

Speaking of humility, President Obama made some conservatives mad when he said, "If you've got a business – you didn't build that." Those who wish to take credit for their successes might not like hearing that, but our successes depend, to a large extent, on the tapestry of society that we live in. Obama was talking about the need for public infrastructure, such as roads and so forth. Also people's inventions and triumphs are built on the shoulders of others who came before us. Even something as great as Facebook was not totally the cleverness of Mark Zuckerburg. It took many inventions along the way.

We could all use patience, some humility and a bit of check to our egos and senses of entitlement. Also paths to forgiveness.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Will the Move On organization want to change its name?

This short article discusses the rethinking of Bill Clinton's sexual affairs as a reason weighing against Hillary in recent favor-ability polls. Personally, I think her low rating has more to do with frustration about so called "establishment candidates." I also think there's a human tendency to abandon ship from people perceived as losers. In some ways, these polls are moot points as I would doubt Hillary would plan to run for another election at this stage in her life. That being said I still have respect for her. Below more of my thoughts about the rethinking of the Clinton era that's in the news today.

Given the newer scrutiny of Bill Clinton's sexuality, I wonder if the the organization Move On will regret choosing that name? I think when that organization was starting, the name related to the concept of moving on to more important issues than what the Clinton impeachment trial was about. Move On to issues such as the economy and global warming.

While some of the hashtag Me To is needed, I do think there is the danger of over correction.

One thing I can say for Hillary Clinton is that she stayed in her marriage. Something that was more common in the past. These days, people are pretty quick to dump their relationships and political alliances when things aren't ideal. As time goes on, I hope the Me To hash tag can be more about abuse of power, bad bosses and so forth, rather than just focusing on sexuality. Sexuality is one of the many things that is abused, but there's more to the problem than just that. I realize that women tend to be victimized more often than men, tho so sexuality is a factor. It's just not the only factor in what could be a good movement for holding people's personal lives accountable to their political ideals. Think, how do people treat their own employees? What are people's carbon footprint?

As for one's personal life being held to high scrutiny, I'm remembering the controversy, a few years back, about Al Gore's big house. Back then mostly conservatives brought up the problem of Al Gore being such a leading environmentalist while living in a big house with a larger footprint than the average American. Yes, I think even most people who drive cars can be seen as hypocrites, tho I understand that people feel driving is a necessity to function in this society. I can't become too bitter, myself. I can also justify a bigger house for someone, like Al Gore, who is a major public figure. He would need more things like space for home security staff and so forth. I would guess he also flies in jet planes occasionally.

Be wary, I think some of the heightened criticism of public officials could be coming from "divide and conquer" strategy from Republicans. Both parties have lots of internal bickering these days and some of that atmosphere could be fueled by the other party.

I still have respect for the Clintons, but I do think its time for new energies in politics. Focusing on building a sustainable world, such as use of things like solar power. Less about older aspirations of wealth, consumerism and power. Some new thinking is needed in a lot of places.

Monday, December 25, 2017

My pictures on Flickr under Christmas label

People have placed ornaments on evergreens along the South Bay Trail at Boulevard Park. Probably not officially sanctioned by the parks department. Litter? Guerilla Art? Looks nice however. I hear that whoever put these up plans to take them down soon after the holidays.

More of my Christmas images on Flickr.

A great Birthday / Christmas present, 1971

During my sophomore year in high school, My mom bought us a trip to Spokane from Pullman on the Greyhound Bus. Just her and me. Primary objective was to buy the multi band radio I had been dreaming about in the Radio Shack catalog. No Radio Shack store in Pullman, back then.

While in the "city" she wanted me to see some sights.

The Crescent Department Store was all decked out in holiday trimmings. A must see; the animated window with moving Santa mannequin. We walked around to the front of the block and entered through the main door where said window would be. When we got there, my mom just kept walking while I stopped. I wondered why she suddenly lost interest. With some disgust in her voice she said, "it's Christmas on the moon." Santa was in a space suit. No warm fire, snowy fields, or chestnuts roasting. It was moon rocks and grey dust. Santa picking up rocks and placing them in specimen pouches.

Moving on, we did had a nice meal on the Crescent's top floor cafe named The Tea Room. Then did a bit more window shopping in downtown Spokane before heading to pick up my prized radio.

I still have that radio. It served me well for many years, but today the only thing that works is the dial light. I taped what I thought was a better AM dial onto the radio. Used another Christmas gift; a label maker, to put my address on this prized possession.

Some other memories below.

Baked goods that we exchanged with neighbors. To increase variety of goods in everyone's home, folks would bring around what they baked to share with the neighborhood. The doorbell would ring and it was the Stevens. Then the Swansons and so forth. Often carols were sung. Each year, we had the chore of passing out our goodies as well. One year, while I was back home from college, I noted that most of the neighbors were at a party next door. I thought we should pass out our plate at that house to save having to go to each house. My brother Jack nixed the idea thinking it would be awkward picking out just the neighbors at that party where others would be also. He thought we would have to say, "okay, here's one for you up the street and you from across town don't get one."

A climax of our family Christmas was opening presents on Christmas morning. All excited, I would get up early. The house was filled with the sweet smell of my mom's holiday bread. It had very sugary frosting with a strong ting of orange. My sister Judith Ashworth and I would stake out our heat vents on both sides of the tree where warm air from the furnace would blow into the living room. Warmth would flow up into my shirt. We would wait, somewhat impatiently, as my older sister, Lillian, would remain in bed. After traveling to Pullman, from Seattle, she would be getting more sleep. Sometimes we would be waiting for my brother, Bill Ashworth also. When everyone was up and around the tree, we would start opening packages. A big pile of spent wrapping paper would accumulate in the laundry basket that my mom would set up. We reused much of the wrapping paper year after year. We would reuse paper, ribbons and bows that were still in fairly good shape and weren't torn up by the cat jumping into the basket.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Staying local for the holidays

In recent times, I've stayed local for the holidays. Last time I took Greyhound Bus to visit family in Pullman, WA. it was crowded. Buses were delayed with snow on the mountain passes. By the time I got to Spokane to transfer for Pullman, the buses were being mobbed by the crowd. Terminal staff was doing the best they could trying to get people where they were going.

I sort of regret what I said when I finally got on my bus. I said, "next time I'll ride my bicycle." It's true. I did ride my bicycle the following summer, but I'm afraid the ticket taker took that as just another insult. I didn't mean it that way, but the comment came as part of a long line of snarling passengers. Now I wish I could do that moment over again. The reaction of the ticket taker wasn't bad, however. I think he just said, "not in the snow." I was appreciative of how they were doing a hard job to get everyone on their way. Many of the passengers are patient with good mindset while others grumble. I try to look at situations from both sides; the side of the customer and employee.

On the bus, it's kind of a long tedious day to get from Bellingham to Pullman with transfers in Everett and Spokane. By bike it's usually 6 or more days with camping along the way. I bike in summer tho I met someone from Norway who biked across Canada in the winter.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Skylark's Cafe in old Fairhaven District Christmas lights 2017

Skylarks Christmas lights.

Around 20 people celebrated my birthday at the Wednesday Dinner Group which I send out notices for. My birthday is December 16th, but they celebrated on the Wednesday before.

At another social function I go to, I brought my lighted helmet which I use quite a bit riding around town. This at Bellingham Bar and Grill. A gathering that happens after the Friday Bellingham Peace Vigil.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

High speed may not be such a holy grail for rail

The train accident here in Washington State is tragic. Some people might feel it tacky to use this occasion for political, or long term thinking, but what else can I write except I wish my condolences to everyone involved. In years past, I've been along that train route coming back from various bike trips. I appreciate the train.

High speed rail is kind of a holy grail that we can't really do in USA. Not very easily at least. Rail travel is good, but speed isn't necessarily the only criteria to judge travel by. Rail could become more convenient also by offering more choices for departure and arrival times. Often there's only one train through an area per day. This isn't likely to fit many people's schedules. Imagine if there was a train each hour. Much more convenient. That's one reason why people like private automobiles. Leave when you want.

A problem with both speed and convenience is that there just isn't enough right of way for rail anymore in USA. Too much private property. For speed, there's just too many crossing points where higher speeds are a hazard. In China, they can build high speed rail and just tell property owners to get out of the way, we are coming through. In USA, their are just too many diverging interests, each with a voice, to stop building a new large scale project, like a rail line. It's easier to connect with air as flight uses a different dimension than the cluttered landscape. Elon Musk wants to do high speed rail by going into the dimension of underground. He has plans for the Hyperloop. Can that work? We will see.

Lack of right of way also makes more frequent train schedules difficult. Congestion on the track due to sharing with freight and so forth.

Speed, of course, isn't everything tho it's highly regarded in our society. Friendliness of travel can be a factor also. Make the trip part of the destination. Social life on a train can be pretty good compared to a plane, from what I hear. I haven't had occasion to fly since the 1980s.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Will there be enough bandwidth for all content producers?

Washington State may preserve net neutrality for ISPs operating within our state. I would guess other states may take action also.

Personally, I'm not sure how serious the loss of net neutrality is. It may not be as big of a problem as people think. On the other hand, it could be. I'm in favor of net neutrality and against the recent changes made by the Republican dominated FCC. It's complicated tho.

Basically the new ruling allows ISPs to favor certain sources of data over others. If there's plenty of bandwidth, maybe there's no problem. Enough for all. Who knows.

Will small outfits get the same priority as the big folks? Will the net remain interactive or will it become more of a one way vehicle for delivering entertainment? Will the net remain seamless?

There is lots of opposition to this new ruling. Court challenges, states, like Washington, who are setting up their own islands of net neutrality and, of course, we can elect a new Congress in 2018. Congressional action is still possible.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hurray. Democrat Doug Jones wins over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama

I'm very happy that Doug Jones won out over Roy Moore in Alabama. Moore's right wing politics is very toxic including his anti LGBT stands. His alleged sexual misconduct is a problem also.

I wish to not use the word pervert, tho, in a derisive way as that tends to marginalize folks who's sexuality falls outside a norm. Many unusual forms of sexuality and fetishes are harmless. Screenshot below is from a website called Fet Life which serves a community of people with various fetishes. As a subtle form of humor, the abbreviation "perv" is used instead of "prev" for navigation buttons while looking at pictures on the site.

As for going out with teenagers, sexual morality is definitely changing in society. The me to hashtag is pushing that change along. Hope the changes are beneficial and not bringing the unintended consequence of a new puritanism. I would guess that consent is held in higher regard, these days than in the past. Underage people are not considered able to give consent. There was a time when marrying a young teenager was quite common, however. A sign that ethics are changing. Back then, homosexuality between consenting adults was taboo while marrying an underage person was normal. Marriages in the past were even arranged by parents or village matchmakers. I recently heard in a BBC Radio documentary where someone can be married off to their rapist in USA. Common in a lot of other countries, but it still can happen even in USA.

From what I gather, underage marriage is still legal in many states besides just Alabama. Seems strange to me that age of marriage and age of consent are different. A sign that we are in a time of transition. Out goes the old order, in comes the new.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Personal hypocrisy in each party

Looks like support for Democrat Al Franken is diminishing among Democrats. Too bad Republicans seem to act differently in their at least tepid support for Republican Roy Moore. Are Democrats shooting themselves in the foot by taking the moral high ground? I still say the problem is more about power than sexuality. There are also degrees of offense.

It does seem like there is a lot of hypocrisy in each party. Do people's personal dealings measure up to their campaign rhetoric? In many cases I'm sure it doesn't. Lots of great politicians are lousy bosses. I wouldn't be surprised if many are lousy landlords, lousy drivers, folks with a heavy carbon footprint and so forth. How we live at the grassroots level is often not what we espouse. I do think it's time for a lot of paradigm shifts.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Pervert isn't a good word to use in these cases

The word pervert isn't a very good word to use when describing sexual misconduct of people in power. That word tends to marginalize people who's sexuality may not be like mainstream society, but isn't necessarily being used to harm others. A better word to use might be psychopath. I think a lot of the me to issue is about abuse of power rather than sexuality itself. Sexuality is just one tool that is often abused.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Simplistic thinking of a child could make one more materialistic

I don't shop very much on any day, including Black Friday. Today, I just continued my regular routine which included buying food and eating in a few places where community gathers. Good food, good conversation. So I didn't have a Buy Nothing Day either.

I don't do Christmas shopping. When I was a kid, the packages under the tree met more to me. I even remember being a bit envious, one year, when my older sister got a few more packages than me. She had friends up the street that gave her things while I only got things from other family members. I guess it helps to have friends.

As a child, my views were more simplistic. That seems common for children. Later in life, I started learning more and could see beyond just how many toys one gets.

By the time I got to college, I was able to appreciate what my mother said when we all came home one year and she coined the phrase, "it's not the presents that matters, it's our presence that matters."

Not having small children in my life, today, means that packages under the tree don't matter that much to me. To some extent, I realize that connection can be more important than the objects themselves. Less simplistic thinking, I guess. Kids might be less apt to figure this out, tho I'm sure that some kids do. It can be more likely for adults to understand this.

For instance, I see no point in lining up outside a store to get the latest fancy phone. I realize that it isn't really what's in the phone that's so important, it's the network that the phone connects to. As long as the device can provide a reasonable connection to the network, that's enough for me. What's really exciting, to me, is that the network keeps offering more and more. The network isn't something I can own. It's the community we all share.

Speaking of community, I don't have a Christmas tree at home where hardly anyone except me would see it. Instead, I take a set of LED lights to the road which light up my bicycle helmet. More people see it out there and it improves bicycle safety. Above picture was taken at a Halloween party. Part of my costume was a picture of a billboard in a tombstone sales yard. The billboard said "Drive carefully, we can wait." Saw that on a cross country trip in 1991.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

First in Bellingham, a bike lane on right side of parked cars. Past Bellingham Gather Apartments

I've heard about this being done in Europe and seen it in Portland, OR. but this is the first time I have seen this in Bellingham. A bike lane on the far side of parked cars that's protected from the traffic lane. It's on Forest Street going by a big new apartment complex.

That stretch of street has an interesting history. Built in the early 1980s as the "Ivy Street Connector." Connects northbound Forest Street to the Boulevard. It was designed as part of a one way system as State Street takes the southbound traffic.

About 15 years ago, the lanes were reduced on State Street from 3 lanes to 2 lanes and a bike lane. Better for bikes. Also, who needs 3 southbound lanes leading to 1 when it gets to the boulevard? Later that improvement also came to Forest.

Then they decided to build this large apartment complex. Only part of it is shown in the picture. Density, which is often better for bikes, pedestrians and transit. Bellingham has a housing shortage. Population growth.

Now Ivy Street Connector to northbound Forest is down to one lane plus the bike lane and parking. Seems to work good. Maybe drivers will grumble that there is only one lane, but there's also need for more parking with all those apartments. There's parking garages in the apartment complex as well, but there's, of course, never enough of anything. That's true in this life, I guess.

Seems like the setup works pretty well. More housing and now we have a protected bike lane behind the parked cars. First one of these I've seen in Bellingham.

Some people grumble that the apartments are too "cookie cutter dull," but that's yet another story.

Back in early 1980s, some people in the neighborhood complained about the building of the Ivy Street Connector. I lived on Forest Street, then and wrote a letter to Bellingham Herald. Surprising some folks, I was kind of justifying construction of the connector, but blaming the whole thing on people's over dependence on automobiles.

Here is letter text from my archive. Early 1980s.

Now that the Ivy Street connector is finished noise and traffic has arrived here on Forest Street. It would have been nice if we could have preserved quietness in this neighborhood by keeping through traffic out. Some of my neighbors tried to stop the city from building the connector; but their opposition did not do much good.

The opposition could not contend with the fact that there is no other viable place to route excess State Street traffic; and State Street; itself; has become too crowded. Efforts to stop construction of a street in order to preserve quiet in a local neighborhood are no match against the overall circulation needs of the city.

Underneath this dilemma lies a deeper issue: There are too many cars on American streets. If we could get thousands of local people to agree on drastically reducing the number of trips they take in their cars; the bottleneck on State Street could have been solved without ever needing to build the Ivy Street connector. If thousands of people could agree to walk; bike or ride the bus instead of using their cars; Forest Street could have remained a quiet residential street.

We tend to blame our city planners when a quiet neighborhood is disrupted by a noisy street; but planners are often just as helpless as we are. If State Street is too crowded; while Forest Street is the only other economically viable place to route the traffic; planners must follow inevitable circumstances. The best way we have for preserving quiet neighborhoods is to get our people using their cars less. This is something we cannot look to our city planners to do for us. It is something the people; themselves; must do. We may not be as helpless as we think.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Where was God?

Many people ask where was God during something like the recent church shooting in Texas. While I still don't consider myself a total atheist, it does seem like the atheists have the most logical answer to that question. Where was God? What god? Things like that happen because there is nothing watching out for us; nothing beyond us, ourselves. I find that to be a very depressing conclusion even though I have never believed, that much, in the traditional idea of a "God the father;" so to speak. I grew up in a very liberal Christian church where unanswered questions were par for the course. I still think that there could be things that some folks would define as supernatural which are beyond our logic. Obviously we still don't know everything, of course. The church I grew up in is very welcoming to my kind of people.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Health education may be more important than technical expertise for today's job market

I got to thinking that physical fitness is more important in today's job market than technical expertise. For years, there's been lots of talk, in the media, about how we need more technical education to prepare for the "jobs of the future." Technical education is important for a certain percent of the jobs. There are the folks that invent new apps for your phone or work in high places at companies like Facebook and Google. Maybe even 20% of the people, which is actually a significant number, but that still leaves 80% working at jobs like coffee barista or janitor. A little technical understanding helps, but being able to stand on one's feet without sore ankles or a bad back makes a bigger difference. Even in tech companies, like Amazon, I hear that a lot of the rank and file jobs are in the warehouse. Standing, walking and lifting. Robots are doing much of this, but people are still doing a lot of it, at least in the foreseeable future. In jobs like nursing, there's quite a bit of expertise, but having a good back for lifting patients is a big factor also.

Technology has been a boon to the consumer to be able to use things like Google at one's fingertips. On the other hand, it seems like it hasn't really revolutionized most of the job market.

Bellingham is kind of a backwater for jobs compared to places like Seattle, but it still seems like education for healthy lifestyles means more than education for high tech in most cases.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The jail, a big ticket item

Most ballots have probably already been cast, but here's some thinking for posterity at least. Also, if you haven't cast your ballot yet, remember to vote.

Normally I wouldn't agree with anti tax signs that are out in fields in the county, but this one I agree with. Raising the sales tax to build a large jail off Slater Road seems like a bad idea. We do need a better jail, in Whatcom County, but there are better ideas.

Vote on many local issues Nov. 7th 2017.

As for the jail, I've commented on the irony that the tax would max out our county's taxing authority for many years due to a state imposed tax limit resulting from (I think) I-601. That state wide initiative passes a few years back putting a limit on taxing authority. This jail is a big ticket item. Some folks in law enforcement have worried that hitting that tax lid could jeopardize funding for other needs that could come up; like new fire stations. That was a big concern in 2015, at least, when a similar proposal was on the ballot.

Quite a few liberal minded folks think the jail is too much a jail and there needs to be more things like restorative justice in the proposal. Here's a place where concern about taxation and liberal politics come together.

This vote may be a hard choice for some people as our current jail is inadequate. We do need improvement there, but there are other ideas.

Among the other ideas is building a somewhat smaller jail expansion on land already owned by the county in downtown Bellingham. It's near the courthouse. Easier access than the proposed Slater Road site.

There is a lot of thinking out there on this difficult problem. Various alternative proposals and so forth.

Update, November 10 2017

I'm happy, but also a bit troubled to report that the Whatcom County jail tax failed again. I voted against the jail tax. The reason I say a bit troubled also is that we do need a new jail. Just a better plan and I would say a more equitable tax if possible; like making part of the tax a property tax rather than having it totally reliant on regressive sales taxes. Of course a lot of what's wrong with our taxes is that we are a sales tax state with no income tax. As we do need to improve the jail, from what I can gather, we will, somehow, have to find enough consensus among our citizens for some kind of plan. That is difficult in this day and age. I wish us the best of luck, but I am glad the jail tax was defeated. Glad with a bit of reservation.

I think the vote outcome was an interesting coalescing of what is normally thought of as "conservative" opinion against taxes and liberal opinion for alternatives to incarceration.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The advantage of captive audience in face to face communication versus online

People say that face to face interaction is more meaningful than communication online. This is not always the case, but here's a thought I have about face to face versus online friendships. One is exposed to a lot more people online than in face to face contact. This can create "information overload." Online, there is exposure to so much information that one is likely to keep scrolling, rather than reading in depth. In face to face contact, there is a limited number of people in close proximity. This means interaction with the people can be more in depth. Less other folks to scroll off to.

If one is talking to friends in a room, the friends can be like a "captive audience." This may force a person to listen more and find out something they wouldn't normally be looking for. Online, it's easier to move on to the next. The captive audience effect is both good and bad, I guess. Some people don't wish to be the captive audience; like being stuck in an elevator with the town crazy. Who knows, one might be surprised and learn something from the town crazy. It can be a way to have one's bubble pierced.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Digital janitor

As I was vacuuming the front mat, at work, some lively people came along. They wanted me to pose with them in a picture. I ask them to send it to me and they eventually did. Turned out well. I'm on the left with the wireless headsets I listen to podcasts with. Someone once called me a digital janitor.