Sunday, October 13, 2019

Do we still need to keep ramping up product production, or isn't there a more up to date economic strategy?

Trickle down economics keeps getting discredited, but somehow it persists. It gained lots of traction during my college years when inflation was rampant. Prices were going up for lots of commodities and products such as gasoline. There was some attempt to have price controls, but that often led to shortages. There were the gas lines of the 1970's. Some economists thought, if you help the producers, give them tax breaks and so forth, there would be more supply and lower prices.

Thus what I think Supply Side Economics is about? Question mark here as, admittedly, trying to read up on that subject causes my eyes to gloss over.

We face a very different situation now. Here in the US, we are awash in cheap products. There is usually lots of supply. There isn't the "Energy crisis" like in the 1970's. We've basically fracked (oil fracking) our way out of that. Today's problems are a bit different. It's been getting harder to afford a place on this planet that one can call home. Ramping up factory production, or oil drilling, isn't going to create more place for people on this planet. Better planning might, however. Density, transit and so forth; in the places where the jobs are and the people want to live.

We also have the cost problems associated with income discrepancy. Large segments of the population that can't afford the services provided by high income professionals such as medical services and insurance services. Education is effected by this also; for instance the high cost of college administrators. Giving more money to the wealthy isn't going to help here.

In my college years, I heard it said that giving money to consumers would just increase demand and push prices up farther, or lead to shortages. That thinking might work for gasoline, but not necessarily for all parts of the economy.

Today, I hear economists, such as Paul Krugman, talk about the need to stimulate demand for things we need; like building green infrastructure.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

As Greta Thunberg shamed them, they cheered even though many got to the UN by jet. Surrealistic.

It was surrealistic when young climate activist Greta Thunberg gave her speech before the UN. She was shaming the people as in how dare you. Shame on you and they cheered. Many in that audience arrived by jet plane.

There is kind of a disconnect between what people say has to happen and the lives of most folks being business as usual. This disconnect contributes to climate anxiety.

Making the needed changes is possible, but challenging. Here are some of the challenges.

Reducing the carbon footprint as world population continues to grow. Expected to level off at around 10 billion people; 3 billion more than currently alive. More people needing places to live, jobs and so forth.

Much of the Third World has been, and still is rapidly rising out of poverty. Good news in many ways, but challenging when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. More people driving cars and so forth.

Countries, such as Japan have shut down nuclear power plants which has led to an uptick in power coming from fossil fuels. It may be even harder to reduce dependency on fossil fuels if we decommission nuclear energy at the same time. Nuclear is a large source of non intermittent power. Solar and wind energy is best, but these are intermittent sources; meaning they only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The technology of battery and power grid distribution still needs improvement.

Significant reduction in the carbon footprint is doable, but it will require many changes in the way business and governments work, also changes in people's lifestyles, expectations and voting patterns. We also may have to rely on things like carbon sequestration and even geoengineering; meaning artificially reflecting some sunlight away from Earth.

How quickly we have to make big changes is up to debate, I think. According to Greta, pretty much right away; like in the next decade. That's anxiety producing, in itself. As for what the scientists say, that's a bit less clear. We do have a problem, but how quickly we have to solve it doesn't seem like the slam dunk; so to speak.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Redefining GDP to include more forms of progress

In Greta Thunberg's speech at U.N. Climate Session, she criticizes talk about money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. GDP growth could be a bad thing. For many, this would be a real hard pill to swallow.

In my own opinion, I am not a big fan of increasing wealth and economic growth, but I am a fan of progress. There are many forms of progress that are not measured by traditional measures of GDP. Human rights, health, more free time, meaningful conversations, friendships less burden of work; even erotic pleasure; to name a few. This calls for major changes in culture and lifestyles all over the world.

People tend to be more comfortable with technological progress and technological progress is a great thing. That can happen also.

On the subject of technology, much of that progress is not measured in our faulty figures for GDP. The tiny and inexpensive Smartphone offers us so much yet it's monetary price adds very little to GDP compared to the multi million dollar computer I saw in the mid 1970's when I toured the computer center at Washington State University. That computer boosted 2.5 megabytes of RAM memory which was significant back then. Todays, far more features of the Smartphone hardly tip the scales in people's perception of their wealth.

Advanced technology is one road to less energy use. Think LED lights.

We are living in a time of great abundance, yet our economic situation puts many folks only a paycheck or two out of poverty. Maybe we can't grow our way to a sense of fulfillment, security and peace of mind. That shift in thinking is an economic challenge in the West.

Meanwhile; especially in what's called the Third World, the traditional measure of GDP growth is possibly even more sought after. As world population grows and more people rise out of poverty, there is continued pressure to provide more jobs, homes, cars and so forth.

Immigration adds some population growth in the west also driving some of this pressure here.

I think we have to redefine what progress means. Think less in terms of traditional wealth and more in terms of other qualities in life.

There is some anger in her statements. I hope this doesn't provoke a war between the generations.

Here's another item in the news.

Climate change fight should be 'sexy' and 'fun', Japan's new environment minister says.

Reminds me of some of my thinking in relation to World Naked Bike Ride. Think about things that motivate people rather than just sacrifice, doom and gloom.

Japan, itself, comes under criticism as new coal plants are under construction there. Problem is that after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, quite a few nuclear plants have been shut down so much of Japan's power needs shifts back to fossil fuel sources.

This environment minister, in the link above, has encouraged the shutdown of nuclear plants as well. Another hard pill to swallow; especially thinking of the islands of Japan having little land area for solar and wind farms.

If Japan can try and go green, even without nuclear, we ought to be able to also, here in USA, with so much of our land area; including our desert lands. Still, it's a challenge.

Here in Whatcom County, there is still a moratorium against wind power in most rural areas of the county. This due, in part, to the property owners, "not in my backyard" issue and also due to the worry about wind farms effect on bats as well as birds; especially bats. Eastern Washington has lots of big wind farms now; like around Ellensburg.

Building solar panels can create economic activity and traditional forms of wealth, but making these changes also can create economic disruption; for instance carbon taxes. Some people gain while others loose in the short run at least. We need lots of new thinking about the economy.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Think how much growing pain grumbling there would be if US population were growing as fast as world population.

World population has doubled since my childhood, but here in the USA, it has not quite doubled. The US population has grown from 200,000,000 to around 325,000,000. Not quite doubling, but still a big jump.

The main point I am making is that we are sure noticing the growing pains, here in USA, yet we still aren't growing as fast as some other parts of the world. Imagine the growing pains we would feel (or at least grumble about) if we were growing as fast as some of the other parts of the world.

One of the most obvious growing pains is the angst about immigration that's mostly expressed on the right side of the political spectrum. Refugees are swelling our ranks, but imagine what it would be like if 1/3 of our population was recent refugees. I hear that was the situation in the small country of Jordan which sits right next door to Syria; a nation which has been crumbling.

We hear growing pains on both the left and the right. Most people, on the left, don't seem to grumble about immigration, but there is a lot of anxiety over new construction and development. There's quite a bit of worry about all the new construction here in Bellingham. I also hear that California is behind by 3 million units in the housing construction it would have needed to keep up with its population growth. Housing costs are at a crisis point in many US cities and towns; at least in desirable locations.

Part of the problem is how we go about developing and accommodating people. I hear that 40% of the land area, in Los Angeles, is devoted to asphalt for parking and driving automobiles. This is not just a problem in Los Angeles. We need to rethink lots of things, including how most people transport themselves in our society at least.

Much of the world is still aspiring to live like we do.

Here in the west, our human rights, gay rights and feminism is pretty good, but we do tend to be consumptive societies. Our population growth is more under control. I think part of that is the success of things like gay rights and feminism. Most of our population growth is due to immigration.

In much of what is called the Third World, attitudes about human rights can be a lot worse. Population is growing faster than in the west while many of the people aspire to have similar material wealth to the west. It's like the worst of both worlds.

I know that population growth is slowing down, all over the world, but not slowing down fast enough; especially if one believes that we are close to the breaking point on climate change.

As for the west, we really need to rethink things like jet travel and automobile dependency unless we can find green alternatives to power these things. We are making progress, but is the progress coming in time?

I like the insightful comments I got to this post on my Facebook wall. One can see most of them, I think, if logged into Facebook tho not necessarily in my friends list.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Thinking about agriculture. The pressure to industrialize.

Interesting article came up in my Facebook news feed.

Destructive farming is the issue — not whether you eat meat or vegetables.

I reposted article and then I also put what's below in the comments to my own repost.

Besides the farming techniques talked about in article, I think a lot of the problem is just the sheer volume of meat and food we consume. Even meat is okay in moderation, but depends on how it's done. Humane treatment of animals is an issue tho.

As for the environment, overpopulation needs to be discussed. Also over consumption. So much of our food is wasted. There is a lot of pressure for big scale industrial agriculture. Grain fed feedlots and so forth. With less pressure for low price and volume of production, smaller, family style agriculture can work. In USA, we tend to pay too much for housing and medical care while not enough for food as a percent of household budget. Good food does require something from us.

As for meat, things like cattle can help the soil if handled properly. In marginal and dry areas, cow hoofs can till the soils while cow pies add humus. In moderation, meat is okay, but there is too much pressure to create volume for mass consumption. The pressure leading to industrialization.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

A right wing politician critical of gay rights and now, not surprising, the Amazon is burning

I often connect the issues of sexual politics and reproduction to environmental issues. Most people don't discuss that connection very often. They put gay rights and feminism in the human rights compartment of their compartmentalized thinking. Environmental issues are in another compartment. I often connect the two with the issue of overpopulation.

I'm not surprised that not long after Brasil elected this right wing president, the fires have gotten worse in the Amazon. I'll admit that maybe I am reinforcing my own bias as I just did a Google search with the words Jair Bolsonaro (president of Brasil) and Gay Rights to see what came up. This article came to the top. I had heard that Bolsonaro was not friendly to gay rights. This article brings that point home tho it isn't new news. It came out in April 2019.

One can also blame part of the problems in Brasil on the traditional left, or at least some of the leftist politics of Venezuela. Venezuela has a left wing government that has made lots of promises to the people which, apparently, it is not able to keep. The Venezuelan economy has been imploding causing lots of refugees to flee into other Latin American countries; including Brasil. Venezuela is on Brasil's northern border near where the Amazon region is located.

Population growth, in part from refugees, may be one factor adding to the pressure to lift environmental restrictions in the Amazon. The pressure of farmers, miners and so forth trying to make a living.

Venezuela's economy is based, mostly, on fossil fuels. I think the true solutions are to reduce population growth and reduce dependency on the fossil fuel economy. Often those type of goals are not talked about in the mainstream right or left wing circles. One problem Venezuela has faced is the volatility of oil prices. When prices go up, promises can be made, but when prices go down, promises are broken.

Remember, even if climate change is subtle and not as alarming as some people think, we still have to find a way to feed, house and employ possibly 4 billion more inhabitants on Planet Earth by the end of this century due to projected population growth.

As to the problem of meat consumption, this chart was of interest to me. Brasil being the world's largest meat exporter feeding many countries, around the world, such as Egypt, with growing populations and rising material aspirations. Clearing of rain forest is largely driven by beef consumption.

Interesting that the US is not clear at the top of the list. Consumption is a worldwide problem related largely to population. The US does get lots of blame, but the problem is worldwide. I would guess the US grows lots of its own beef so Brazilian beef sources are less important. The US is still on the list, however. It's still in the top 10.



I found this chart in another interesting article.

Hong Kong is at top of this list with the large population of China a second.

Lists like this also bring up more questions for me. Hong Kong is small, tho densely populated. Is Hong Kong also shipping beef along into China? It's listed separate from China.

The Middle East is a big importer of Brazilian beef, according to this chart. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE.

As to my own meat consumption, I do eat some meat, but try to eat mostly plant based things. Better for health also. I do drink lots of milk, admittedly.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Should some redistribution of wealth be part of a green new deal?

Representative Cortez's Green New Deal also calls for a more fair distribution of wealth, rather than just compartmentalized thinking in dealing with climate change. She gets flack for her ideas.

I haven't studied them fully, but I can see a need to address income inequality in relation to climate change because a lot of the things we need to do, like carbon taxes, are basically regressive taxes. They hit consumers. Workers driving to work, folks who can't afford to live close to the job and so forth. Most energy consumption is among the masses who create the mass market. Average people will probably be more apt to swallow the needed change if they felt they were getting a fair deal.

There are far less rich people, in total numbers, so their personal consumption as a class may not be that high even though their per capita consumption (per individual) can be really high. They also have more power in shaping society and how business is run. If the leaders would do their part, then the average consumer would feel better about doing his or her part as well. We need to bring back more of a sense that we are all in the same boat.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

All the fuss about 5G and what about the low frequencies?

Some people in my mostly liberal circle of friends are starting to talk about the threat of radiation from cellphone systems switching to 5G technology. I've done a bit of reading from establishment scientific circles so I tend to not be worried about that. I guess I've brushed that worry off pretty quickly. Low power microwave signals don't worry me, however there could be other consternation about 5G. Worry, itself is a health hazard.

There is the pressure and stress, felt here in USA, to keep up with China. Do we need to roll out our 5G technology before China establishes the standards, makes the equipment and runs most of the systems? What about human rights and privacy with China running things? Would there be the spying "backdoor" to "China Inc?" That's a worry.

Then one wonders what good is 5G? Do we have to always keep up with the Jones' and not let the grass grow under our wheels? That's always a worry when there is pressure to "move ahead."

What will 5G provide that we don't already have maybe too much of already? Does this mean folks can watch high definition television on mobile devices? Television while driving?

I know, there are lots of things I can't envision today; like who would have dreamed of search engines back in the 1950s? I'm a fan of progress, but I tend to shy away from pressure and rat race.

I hear that 5G is a higher frequency than today's cellphone systems. Higher frequency for more data, but one must be even closer to the service provider's antenna for it to work. Less fringe area service; from what I understand.

Does this make it harder to have the service in rural areas, behind hills, in sparsely populated areas or even in the canyons between buildings, let alone the canyons between mountains?

While thinking about these things, what about the lower frequencies? Microwave frequencies, used by cellphones, need line of sight between your device and the service provider. Yes, it does reflect off buildings and mountains, but it tends to work best with line of sight.

Lower frequencies, such as the old fashioned AM radio band, provide signals that can bend over hills. The signals travel long distance. I would guess less dropout spots.

When traveling along the road, AM radio can envelope one in a steady signal without the shadow areas of higher frequencies; such as with even the standard FM band. It can get to areas that don't have antennas nearby.

I know, lower frequencies provide lower bandwidth. Maybe they don't work for everything we want, these days. Still, these frequencies could be put to better use than just hearing Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity on the radio.

Yes, I'm putting in a dig to the deterioration of AM Radio as so many stations just carry the same network shows. Little choice beyond right wing talk. Too much redundancy on the AM radio dial. Redundancy on the FM dial as well.

Now I will digress and say some things about the current state of AM radio. AM does have more than just Rush Limbaugh. It has Country and Western music, oldies and repetitive traffic reports.

I've seen some articles hinting at suggestions for re-purposing the AM band. Use it for something else besides being locked up into almost useless radio stations (sorry Rush fans). Can't you folks listen to your national network on the internet? If all programs just come from the network, who needs local radio stations?

I forget, AM does have ethnic radio; Spanish speaking stations, Punjabi Radio.

There's Mexican music on the same radio dial as talk shows advocating the border wall. That's kind of neat, in a way. It's America. We can peacefully share the dial at least, but maybe not. The dial is still pretty crowded. There's too much redundancy on both AM and FM radio dials. Can't we open things up and allow more access to the lower end of the radio spectrum?

Yes, a lot of commercial stations seem to be just coasting. Like some property owners; quite a few stations are little more than just place holders on a dial that used to have listeners. It's time for some radical disruption.

There's also the shortwave bands. What they used to call "shortwave" back in the early days of radio. Not as short as the microwaves used by today's cellphones. These frequencies don't get much use today; from what I understand.

Shortwave was the frequencies used by international broadcast stations; Radio Moscow, BBC World Service and The Voice of America. On shortwave, one could send signals clear around the world.

During my childhood, I used to tune in stations from all over the world. Signals would bounce off a layer of ionized air that's high up in the sky. It's called the Ionosphere. The ionosphere can bounce signals clear across Oceans and continents. It was neat to be able to get signals from so far away, but often the programming was a bit boring. The bureaucratic utterances of governments. Radio Moscow was notorious. There is a lot more variety on the internet.

Ham operators would use these shortwave frequencies also. Home hobbyists could send their low power signals to another continent. Problem was, about all they would ever talk about was their antennas. It would be like listening all day to, "I'm running a T with 4 dipoles." "Then I got another over the garage." "I'm hooked to a number 5 trimmer coil." "The XYL (ham term for wife) doesn't like all the space that last installation is taking."

In the early 1990s, I visited a ham operator who was sending data packets from the internet to other operators using the airwaves. He could send photos to remote places in Africa, but it would take quite a while; like a real slow modem connection.

I think some of these frequencies are still useful for things like search and rescue. Use of the ionosphere can bounce communication to places like deep ravines in the mountains where there wouldn't be cell service or wifi. Not even line of sight to a satellite that's too low on the horizon.

AM signals can bounce off the ionosphere also; especially at night. When I was growing up, I used to tune in stations from all over the country, with just a regular AM radio.


Illustration I put in high school newspaper about long distance AM radio at night

Could these lower frequencies be put to better use in today's digital age?

Rush Limbaugh fans may be among the many "rushing" to to get 5G going. It's part of keeping America on top. Like "Make America Great Again?" Don't let China beat us at this.

After commercial radio has pretty much clogged up and trashed so much of the AM band, it's good to ask, how will we plan to use 5G? Is this going to be another "vast wasteland;" like television was once described as? I am not against technological progress, however. I just like to think about these kind of questions.



Article I wrote in the Pullman High School newspaper 1972 / 73 year about long distance AM radio.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The summer of 69 when the vacuum tube gave out in our TV just before Armstrong stepped onto the moon

July 20th 1969 was part of the summer between my 8th and 9th grade years. I watched the all day coverage of the moon landing, but just before Neil Armstrong was to step down that ladder, a vacuum tube gave out in our television and the TV went dark.

We got in the car and headed across town to some friend's place that had a working TV. We got there in time for the reruns.

My two sisters were less enthused about the space program than me. They weren't planning to watch it anyway. Instead, they were driving across the state from Pullman to Seattle. When Armstrong stepped down that ladder, one of my sisters said that she took a picture of a drive-in in Ellensburg where they had stopped for dinner. That was to capture the moment.

Meanwhile, my parents and I were on our way to our friend's house with a working TV. Those friends were named, The Stevenson's. The father of that family had died earlier, but he was a big figure at WSU in Pullman. The Stevenson Dorm Complex is named for him. 3 13 story dormitory towers and a dining hall. Yes, growing up in Pullman, one can know people who have university buildings named for them.


Stevenson Dorms are the brick towers near foreground of this 2017 picture I took of Pullman Skyline during my 2017 bicycle tour.

In many ways, it was an epic summer. In the national news there was Woodstock and Stonewall. I wasn't aware of Stonewall when it was happening, tho. Leaned about that incident many years after the fact.

The moon landing was hyped as a big deal. I was fascinated in it myself tho others in my fairly liberal family were not as enthused as me. They felt the money might be better spent on poverty relief and environmental cleanup. I kept saying that pushing the progress of science could also help other things; like environmental cleanup.

The TV networks covered the moon landing all day. As they waited for the various events, such as the landing and then a few hours later the walk, there was lots of airtime to fill up. They had interviews and special features. They even interviewed folks who believed that the walk was a hoax and the whole thing was staged in Hollywood.

All day coverage had me glued to the TV as I find science a lot more interesting than things like day time soap operas. That's one reason why the TV tube went out at the critical moment, but we all took it in stride. Normally, I'm not a fan of TV. I listen more to the radio.

Back in 1969, I made a reel to reel tape with some radio coverage of the Apollo Missions. I still have that tape today. It's in good condition, but unfortunately, during my college years, I recorded over a big part of it to do a tape exchange with a pen pal about another topic.

Also related to summer of 1969, Stonewall. I wasn't aware of the Stonewall Rebellion until years later.

Sculpture I made in a college ceramics class about Stonewall. That 1969 event I didn't hear about. My first impression was the Stonewall Halfway House and Drug rehabilitation center in Seattle for gay people. The Stonewall House. I saw an article about that Seattle institution as I looked at publications that were coming into the Gay People's Alliance Office at WWU, here in Bellingham, where I hung out a bit. I was also taking ceramics. That was around 1976.

With the cone of silence, about gay issues in society, during my childhood, I wasn't aware of the Stonewall Incident till around 1976. I learned about the detox center first then the incident that it was named for sometime after that.

I grew up in a liberal family and gay rights was pretty much respected as a civil rights issue, when it did come out, but it was pretty quiet and information wasn't as available during my childhood as it is today. I must have not had the radio on when the Stonewall Rebellion was happening. It dropped out of the news pretty fast. Unlike the moon landing that was all over the news.

I would like to believe that society is still progressing today. In 1969, there were around 3 billion people on this small planet. Today, over 7 billion are struggling for it's limited resources. We do need to take a lesson from things like Gay Lib. We need to modernize our thinking about family planning and procreation. Not everyone should feel the pressure to procreate. It's okay not to procreate. We have enough people.

To deal with the difficult problems of global warming and limited space on this planet, we need the fruits of our science. Solar panels are an example of a technology pushed forward by the space program. Microchips are similar to tiny homes in my way of thinking. As society progresses, we can also miniaturize to save space on this planet. Smaller families, smaller homes, more sophistication. Our earliest computers hardly did anything compared to the Smartphones of today. They cost millions of dollars, took up entire rooms and used lots of energy. The first ones ran on vacuum tubes; the same tube technology that snatched my ability to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the moon as it was happening.

Today, we have progressed to the tiny Smartphone age tho not everyone sees this as progress. One thing about the tube going out in our TV during my 1969 experience was that it does make for a good story today. It was kind of like an unplugging at just that critical moment.

Someday, if we survive, maybe we will live beyond the confines of this planet, but in the meantime, life on this planet is made better if we look beyond our shortsightedness. Science is one of the best tools we have along with some flexibility in thinking and some patience in our demands from this planet.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Preaching to the choir on Facebook

There is a lot of preaching to the choir on Facebook; especially when people defriend folks they disagree with and then post articles providing strong evidence for things like climate change. The people who need to see such evidence have been defriended leaving only the choir behind.

Of course maybe no one, but the choir will believe such evidence, but I do find that a lot of folks do think about things in new ways when communication is given a chance. Especially when presented with ideas they haven't just seen over and over again; like the standard talking points.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Some say immigrants get better healthcare and prenatal care than American citizens.

Some of my thinking gleaned from a thread on Facebook.

American citizens should be able to access healthcare. That's why we need healthcare reform.

I sometimes have felt that disabled people and some immigrant or refugee populations had better healthcare than many low income workers or even small business owners that fell through the cracks in our system. Much of our system of healthcare and welfare was designed in an era, like the 1960s, when it was assumed that if one was working one was fairly well off and middle class. The income gap has skewed the situation. At the same time, it still is in our interest to provide prevention and a pathway to citizenship for some of the immigrants that are working in our economy. Their labor seems to be in need in our economy and the old phrase still applies, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Yes, American citizens should be served.

The need that American citizens have for things like prenatal care is why we need healthcare reform in USA. We need to work toward a system of universal coverage with sliding scales so healthcare can be available to all Americans; especially working Americans. Many working Americans can't afford private insurance premiums and don't have employers that provide health insurance. I think the Medicaid expansion, that was part of Obamacare, was a good step for the most part. It attempts to expand coverage to more people, including people with low paying jobs. Before, a lot of those people were not eligible for Medicaid because they weren't eligible for Disability or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. It helps single lower income working adults.

But some people hate Obamacare.

Obamacare does look real bad for people who have higher incomes and good health; like the $2100 per month premium with $12000 deductible you mentioned. I think this happens because the lower end of the sliding scale gets subsidized. Someone does have to pay to subsidize the lower end. The higher end of the sliding scale pays more. Many people at the higher end do get "sticker shock" when they see what they get for their money, I guess even compared to private insurance.

One way to address this problem is to just not serve people who cost the system too much. To try and serve mostly healthy people. This can keep the costs down, but it's a problematic solution ethically. It's taking away coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Even a lot of Republicans don't wish to do this, tho they don't seem to have answers to this problem. Republicans hate taxing the more fortunate, but seems like there is no way around having to do that in order to continue providing coverage to folks with preexisting conditions; especially lower income folks in that situation.

I do think there does need to be more incentive for healthy living, but not all bad health comes from lifestyle. Much of it is luck and genetics.

Our society does need more of a focus on healthy living, but other things get in the way. Some of it is people's stupidity, of course. Also a lot of bad things are pushed on the populous; such as liquor sales, tobacco and sugar. Then there is the whole problem of sedentary lifestyles. Our transportation system, our town planning, even our lack of sidewalks in some areas. Also the problem of being over stressed and over worked. Also over medicated in some cases. The way many doctors practice medicine.

When someone said, "what about the better system that our religious organization provides?"

I guess systems, like your church system, can cut out much of the middle man (middle person) bureaucracy. That helps. I would guess they also tend to serve folks who try and live more healthy lifestyles. Also I think some of those systems have caps on their coverage so real serious, costly illnesses remain outside the cap. There is still the problem of American citizens who incur much higher medical cost than average; often due to no fault of their own, tho lifestyle is a big factor.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

The US an oligarchy? Still has freedom of expression. China could use more freedom, but it can get things done, so I hear. Benevolent dictatorship?

Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are cherished virtues that we still have here in USA, for the most part. At the same time, I've heard our country described as an oligarchy instead of a democracy. It does seem like it's definitely a tainted democracy at best, if not an oligarchy. Things like gerrymandering of political districts comes to mind. How much money influences politics these days also comes to mind. We have serious problems related to the very running of our society which make it hard to do things like adapt to climate change or even build high speed rail. Gridlock and nimby ism come to mind. Lobbying and our inability to pass moderate gun legislation also comes to mind.

I gather that some people, in China, think they have a better system than we do. They can get things done, like high speed rail. On the other hand, maybe high speed rail isn't the best answer, but that's another topic. China may have an easier time adapting to climate change.

I would guess some of Chinese folks feel like one needs a bit more control when dealing with 1.3 billion people. Someone, I know, who has lives part of the time in China, describes it as a "benevolent dictatorship." He's spent time in China, Hong Kong and USA.

As for the internet, in China, it is pretty closed behind what is called "the Great Firewall of China," but my acquaintance says a lot of Chinese people figure out how to "climb the firewall."

Still, I appreciate the freedom of thought that we have (or at least I think we have) here in USA. We may be kind of gridlocked, but at least we can still entertain ourselves by talking it to death while we sit in that gridlock.

I think about this all while hearing the news from Hong Kong about demonstrators sacking the Hong Kong Parliament building. The yearning to preserve and expand freedom of thought remains powerful. I hope things don't get so chaotic that authorities, like Chinese authorities, come in with something like martial law and shut everything down. Social change often has to happen incrementally. If it gets too chaotic, crackdowns do occur. It takes both patience and innovation to move the cause of freedom forward.

I realize that I have lots of ideas and opinions, but admit I've only been to two countries in my life, so far. I've only been to USA and Canada. I do keep up with world news quite obsessively, however.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Cruising in the age of consent. Me Too may apply differently to gay people versus heterosexual situations.

Interesting article, Cruising in the age of consent. It's a bit long with lots of ideas, but here's just one of many concepts I gleaned.

As is talked about in the article; issues of the Me Too movement tend to apply much differently in a gay setting than in mainstream heterosexual settings. In the latter, there is more of a strength and power imbalance between men and women. That doesn't necessarily apply in the gay world. I especially like this one statement about the concept of safety being somewhat different in the gay world versus the heterosexual world.

"Gay men’s classic sources of trauma and violence stem less from being hit on than from being literally hit by homophobes. Safety hasn’t typically meant freedom from carnal pursuit; safety has meant the possibility of it."

Monday, July 01, 2019

Abuse of the passing lane?

I hear that in Europe, the left lane on freeways, like the Autobahn, is used for passing only. People mostly drive in the right lane. Supposedly, that is the way freeways are intended to work. People ask why that isn't done in America. I think it's because there must be so much more traffic in America that all the lanes are full to a slow crawl. They are all full, at least around urban centers; especially during rush hour. Too many people drive, here in USA. I would guess that in Europe, more people use transit so even the freeways that they do have work better. Maybe they aren't so clogged with traffic. Just my guess, but I've never been to Europe. Yes, mass transit, walking and bicycling does help overall mobility.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Is there substance in Trump's North Korea posturing? There was some substance in the Iran nuclear deal, but Trump tore that one up.

Trump has stepped over the line into North Korea to shake hands. An innovative act, or just posturing?

Some commentators and politicians, including quite a few Republicans, are asking if there will be any substance to a deal. Will North Korea actually denuclearize, allow inspectors across the line and so forth?

I say we had a deal like that with Iran that Trump tore up. It may have not been perfect, but there was verification, so I hear in the news. Of course I can't see it with my own eyes. I think we had a deal with some substance, but Trump has torn up that deal.

Other countries, such as European nations, are trying to still hold that deal together, but it may be slipping through their fingers; our fingers also. Iran is on the brink of restarting their uranium enrichment. We may have painted ourselves into a corner that we don't know how to get out of. Going to war could be one out, but it's definitely problematic. It's problematic for sure. I'm often noted for making an understatement. Okay, it's more than just problematic.

Our leadership does make a lot of bad choices.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The competitive nature of dating is part of the problem

A very interesting, tho quite long article about loneliness and problems that persist in spite of progress toward acceptance of gay people. Great food for thought. I think, also applies to non gay people as well.

Personally, I see a big source of these problems coming from the competitive nature of dating. It seems like the concept of finding that ideal "soulmate" can be problematic. Even for young people, or maybe even more so for young people, one is never good enough. On the dating apps, there's always someone "better" just a few swipes away. It can be kind of a stressful situation.

In my opinion, the higher expectations in our more progressive society can also cast a dark shadow. One is often haunted by the question, "is my life what it could be?"

Even before the era of phone apps, I found the whole dating scene to be problematic. That was back in the days when it was more about classified ads and meeting in bars. It still seemed kind of shallow and competitive to me.

I have to say that, personally, I never really participated in the dating world. Maybe I'm a bit biased against it as I do know of many happy couples, but I also know of a lot of problems.

Myself, I value different things from different people. In some cases, it may be an erotic appreciation of body shape, but there are so many other things I value as well. Good conversation, for instance. Finding all these things to line up in one person may not be impossible, but it seems improbable.

I may have not found the solution for everyone, but for me, I enjoy a wide range of different people for different reasons. Like a circle of friends and community.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Believe it or not, I had some camping experiences with Fundamentalist Christians when I was a teenager

I am thinking about this experience after reading the news about The Firs Campground near Bellingham and it's firing of Jace Taylor for being gay. Some people were surprised when this happened as, I guess, the Firs seemed pretty mellow. A stricter theology lies underneath the fun.

I grew up in a very liberal church that is now pro gay rights, but when I was in 6th grade, a friend invited me to join the Boy Scouts. He was in the Mormon Scout Troop; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Being good liberals, my parents said, "we don't necessarily believe the theology in that church, but if your friends are there, have a good time."

I enjoyed the first few camping trips and scout meetings.

By the time I got to 7th grade, it was becoming evident that I wasn't motivated. Scouting was kind of like a para military organization. Maybe too macho for me? I wasn't motivated to achieve any ranking beyond second class; a badge in scouting. They also have a system of merit badges and my merit badge count was zero. One other badge I did get, come to think about it, was something called "Order of the Arrow."

I still hung out in the troop mostly as a social outlet. Friends were there, it was a place to go.

By the time I got into high school, I was beginning to realize that it was politically more conservative than my own upbringing.

Still, as a teenager, I had mixed feelings. Part of the time, I was drawn to the more liberal leanings of my parents and siblings. At other times, I was sort of rebellious toward my own family so I trended toward conservative. Military service both inspired and frightened me. The Vietnam War and the military draft were hanging over people's heads.

Another one of my friends, named Jeff, who was in that troop, got Eagle Scout; the highest rank in scouting, I guess.I was somewhat inspired and also intimidated as I wasn't motivated to climb that ladder. My mom pointed out a nice thought tho. When a picture came out in the local paper about the scouting awards. My mom noted that the picture showed a Methodist scoutmaster pinning the Eagle Badge on a Catholic kid who was in the Mormon Troop. She thought that was a statement in ecumenical-ism.

Later in high school, during one of my liberal leaning phases, I decided to write some kind of statement and pin it to the bulletin board in that church. It was some kind of rambling theological essay. The only part I remember, today, was a statement I made that went, "if a stick doesn't bend, it breaks."

I tacked that essay to the bulletin board on the main entryway of the church outside the scout room. It felt like Martin Luther tacking the poster to the church doors.

I left it up a few days and then must have gotten nervous as I eventually took it down.

It was a bit surprising, to me, that no one paid any attention to it. Life in the church and the scout troop went on as normal. No one said anything to me about my essay. Maybe they couldn't read it as the writing wasn't the best.

Eventually, I decided I was in the wrong pew; so to speak and I quite the scout troop.

More stories from my scouting days and other memories to follow.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Bellingham teen fired from working as a camp counselor with The Firs because he’s gay

Very informative article in Bellingham Herald.

Washington State has laws about discrimination against sexual minorities, but an exemption is made for religious organizations.

Here's more of my own commentary below.

There are a lot of accepting churches and organizations in this area. I wish Jace Taylor the best in finding an accepting place of employment and community. This exposes the brand of theology subscribed to by the Firs management. It's a different interpretation of Christianity than the way I was brought up. Kind of puts Bellingham on the map as it's making news on Seattle TV stations and so forth.

As for Washington State laws that exempt religious organizations, such as the Firs Camp near Bellingham, from the civil rights protection for sexual minorities, I am still okay with that. Being liberal, myself, also means I'm kind of into "live and let live," rather than necessarily forcing people to do things against their will. I am not a Libertarian anti government coercion sort of person, but I can see some of that point of view.

I would not wish to work for that kind of place anyway. I would seek more liberal religious or other types of organizations to work for and do business with.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thinking about the degrowth movement. Saving the planet by working less. I'll add. and / or embracing better technology.

Here's an interesting article. The radical plan to save the planet by working less.

The degrowth movement makes lots of sense to me. First time I've seen the term degrowth, but I have been a fan of voluntary simplicity and shorter work week for many years. Quality of life and work / life balance is progress to me. There's more to progress than just increasing wealth and / or population.

That being said, I also am a fan of Technological progress. Technology might be able to help us squeeze more wealth out of the planet like converting to green energy, using efficient technologies like LEDs and possibly (dare I say this) nuclear power. Better yet, hydrogen fusion.

Still, the technology isn't solving everything. We do need to redefine wealth and learn to live in better ways. That's where shorter workweeks and more things like bicycling come into play.

I just realized a pun at the end of my post. "Shorter workweek and more things like bicycling come into play."

More time off. More time for play. Also adequate sleep and better relations with friends and family. Less rat race.

From comments on this post when I put it on Facebook.

I'm surprised that the word "greed" doesn't even appear in the article.
Maximus Gray.

I fully agree with this. What also goes along is the proverb phraise; you hate the job that you are stuck in traffic to, but you need the job to pay for the car that you are trapped in!
Mark Allyn.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

13,000 years ago, Seattle was under 10,000 ft of ice, but Seattle wasn't a city then. Human caused climate change could happen while the city is there.

Some people say, "why worry about climate change?" "The climate is changing anyway."

Over 13,000 years ago, Seattle was under 10,000 ft of ice. Of course, Seattle wasn't there back then. 13,000 years is much farther back than all of recorded history.

The global warming worry is about the next 100 years. Can we make it through the next 100 years? Our kids and grand kids. That's an important question for civilization. After that, who knows. Maybe we will be building huge colonies in the solar system by then; if civilization survives.

It's the next century that's the time scale for global warming worry, as far as civilization goes. As for other species of plants and animals, yes, they have come and gone. Many have gone extinct over the millions of years before we were here to care.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Washington state health insurers propose lowest rate increase in Affordable Care Act era

Some good news here in the state of Washington. A very low rate increase; like just 1% for health plans on our Obamacare exchanges, According to an article in June 3 2019 Seattle Times. Seems like the system is stabilizing and starting to work well in this state. Work well at least for this year.

They are getting the bugs out, the system has arrived; like in "the Eagle has landed."

Washington is a state that created its own healthcare exchanges. Remember; states that refused Obamacare's Medicaid expansion often didn't set up their own exchanges so the Feds run the exchanges in those states. Our state seems to have managed it's exchanges well and at the local level. Ironically, accepting Obamacare may have meant more local control.

A public option is now in the works, here in Washington as well. Roll out for the public option is planned for 2021.

If Eastern Washington State were to secede, why not be more original? Name the new state Columbia.

From Komo News, January 2019.

Two Republican state lawmakers from Spokane Valley have submitted a bill to create a 51st state - again.

House Bill 1509, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea and Rep. Bob McCaslin, would split Washington state in half along the Cascades, separating Eastern Washington from Western Washington.

The counties on the west side of the Cascades would remain in the state of Washington, while the counties on the east side would comprise an entirely new state named Liberty.

From my Facebook.

Seems like whenever there is a movement to split a geographic entity, the break off region goes for a name like "Liberty." Years ago, there was a move to split two regions off of Whatcom County. There was "Freedom" and also "Independence" Counties. Can't people be more original? Seems like every break off idea goes for the a name like Independence.

If Eastern Washington were to create the 51st state, why not call it something related to local geography? How about the state of "Columbia?" Yes, the Columbia River is a very important feature right through the heart of Eastern Washington. Much of that economy is dependent on the river.

I tend to think breaking the state in two is a bad idea.

Here's some more of my thinking.

Where would the new state capital be? Spokane? That's an economic hub for both eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Spokane calls itself the hub of the Inland Empire. It's like, "all roads lead to Spokane." Problem is, there's another Inland Empire. That Inland Empire is focused around east Los Angeles Metro area and San Bernardino.

Splitting regions can be problematic for sure; especially for a place like the town I grew up in; Pullman, WA. Pullman is home of a big University, Washington State University. Much of the money and students at WSU come from the populous and prosperous west side of the state.

Trivia question:

The last county to be created in Washington State. Created by a split is Pend Oreille County. It's up in the north east corner.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Here's my answer to the question, "do you caption all the photos in your collection?"

A photographer friend of mine put out the question on Facebook, do you caption all your photos? He does, but he finds that the task can be tedious.

Here's my answer.

I love captioning my photos on Facebook and Flickr. I find that a lot of people don't caption photos on Flickr, at least. Descriptions provide food for search engines bringing more searches to one's photo.

I also find descriptions are a means of self expression. I like to write in my blog, but not that many people read my blog. Breaking up my writing into various photo descriptions on Flickr, rather than writing to this blog. My photos on Flickr seems to bring a lot more readers.

Like Facebook, Flickr allows fairly long descriptions. There's the title / caption and then more space for a description below.

I have not been captioning photos that I don't post. That would be tedious. Some of these are close to being duplicates. Others are ones I don't think are worth posting, tho I often do change my mind given another look at the photo.

My photos are kept in folders on my computer under the label of the year the photo was taken.

The photos in my computer are not captioned, but I remember the circumstances for most of them. Also, a lot of those photos are taken around the time of the ones that I do post and label. They are usually photos from similar contexts.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

One of many reasons for Facebook

Like Facebook or not, here's the kind of thing that keeps Facebook so pervasive as a tool for self expression. One of the NPR shows that I follow, The1A from WAMU Radio, has just shut down the comments section on it's website. It says there is too much abuse and too many bots. They don't have enough resources to moderate the comments section. The notice also says one can continue to comment on their - Facebook page. Also on their Twitter presence. This is because it's easier to verify who's making the comments using the existing Facebook system, rather than managing their own comments section.

Not that I used the comments section that much, but I did use it some. When using it, logged in with another system that I like. It's an alternative to Facebook, but a bit different. A system called Disqus. Disqus is a social media that manages one's comments to other media. I'm afraid Disqus may no longer work for The1A site, at least for now.

My feed on Disqus where I've signed in while to use the comments section in some other medias, such as radio stations and publications. You can get an idea how Disqus works.

One problem with big media outlets, which has been the case for decades. Information overload. This is a big country, now 320 million people. On national media, one's comments are usually lost among thousands of comments, since the internet age when comment pages became available. Before the internet age, one could write letters to the editor, like to the New York Times, but there was only room for a handful of letters given the volume of mail they got. Local media did better being on a smaller scale. The Bellingham Herald used to pride itself in being able to publish almost every letter to the editor it got.

One thing Facebook has done is create a system that breaks up the size of audiences to facilitate more discussion; like breaking a lecture class into group discussions. Except for celebrities, one's personal friends are usually one's most likely audience. Facebook builds from that as often the larger audiences start among friends and then spreads from there. I do think other systems, like Disqus also have merit.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

If one can thunder on over 100 radio stations coast to coast, one might not need Facebook

There are quite a few people who don't use Facebook. One person, I know, is a college professor who enjoys teaching as an outlet for his creativity. One could say he doesn't really need Facebook. Also he's skeptical of it's corporate nature.

I still see Facebook as a common person's outlet for writing and photography.

This makes me think of a segment of a radio talk show I remember from the mid 1990s. Someone called the show suggesting the host get a website. Websites were new, back then.

The host was skeptical. He kept saying, "why would I need a website?"

The caller persisted talking about how he could post articles, archives and so forth.

The host eventually started thundering like the Wizard of Oz. He said, "My voice is heard on over 100 radio stations coast to coast." "It blankets America just fine, thank you." "I don't need no web what?"

Forward to now, I just looked up that host. I don't think he's got a show anymore, but his rants are available on a website.

In that discussion I had with the professor, the problem of junk mail came up. He admits that email is almost unusable now due to so much clutter of junk mail. I find the same problem with telephones. It's why I don't answer the phone unless people leave a message. One good thing about Facebook, it filters out a lot of the bulk stuff so it tends to be the more interesting responses from real people. Not flooded with a bunch of appeals for money from various organizations. Real people are more apt to value my thinking, rather than just my checkbook.

I do admit that Facebook would probably be better if run by a nonprofit.