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.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

One of the hardest jobs for a president is calling a grieving parent

I would guess, one of the hardest jobs for a president is calling a grieving parent of a solder who has died in service to the country. Different people would react differently to what is said. Words can not replace the loss. It's even hard to know what to say as an ordinary person to someone who is facing a serious loss. I say this not in defense of Trump as I don't like Trump anyway. In someways it's good to see so many people critical of him, but I also realize that death, loss and grieving can be difficult.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Update on HD radio in Bellingham, Vancouver

A while back I got an HD radio. One might ask, what's an HD radio? Also one might ask, why would you need one? Just about anything that's on an HD radio is also on the web anyway. Isn't a smartphone "radio" enough?

True, but I'm kind of a radio geek so I couldn't resist. It only cost around 1/8th of one month's rent in my inexpensive (by Bellingham standards) apartment. That's my way of justifying consumer purchases, tho I don't go shopping often.

Now days, there are some radio stations that broadcast a digital signal along with the regular (analog) signal. Folks with HD radios can get the digital signal which offers more hi fidelity. It also offers 3 channels from the same signal.

One of the digital signals I get is from CKNW in Vancouver. It has great locally produced talk shows. An alternative to NPR that's not something like Rush Limbaugh.

CKNW is on the AM dial. It's at AM 980, but the signal is "fringe area" this far from Vancouver.

I used to listen to long distance AM, but modern homes are so full of computer stuff that there's lots more interference. This makes listening to long distance AM difficult. I now get CKNW on FM HD. I just tune to CMFI FM, at 101.1 and then select the HD2 program. It's CKNW.

It still helps to have a line of sight view to Vancouver as digital FM isn't as forgiving of fringe area as analog. I have line of sight, tho there is a building in the way. I've found that my line of sight location works okay for radio, from Vancouver, but not for digital television.

Yes, CKNW is also on the web, but having it over the air, the old fashioned way, is kind of neat. No need to use bandwidth on the net. No need to use cellphone time. Just turn on the radio.

I get unlimited data at home, but I am a radio geek. I often sleep to talk radio and I feel a bit of guilt if it's using the internet.

There are several other HD stations in this area including some NPR stations.

Bellingham has a few HD stations, but most of the interesting stuff is from Vancouver.

Seattle's KUOW has HD for KUOW2 and KUOW3. One has to have a digital radio, or be on the web, to get KOUW2 and 3 in Seattle, but here in Bellingham, KUOW3 is also on regular (analog) radio. KUOW3 is on a low power translator at 90.7 in Bellingham. HD KUOW2 is a jazz station, but I don't listen to that much jazz. KUOW1 is at 90.3 in Bellingham.

Our other NPR station has some HD channels also. Northwest Public Radio which is based in my home town of Pullman. In Bellingham, it's main station is at 91.7. NWPR has both classical music and news services. One can get both services as HD channels or from various low power translators that regular radios can get.

Bellingham's KISM FM now has an HD "channel 2." It's just KGMI, which we also get on the AM dial.

See article I wrote in 2009.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Values Voter Sumit to bring latchkey children and a furniture future

At the Values Voter Summit, Trump spoke about parents who sacrifice to work 2 or 3 jobs for the furniture and future of their children. Now the meme "furniture future" is going around. That's America for you.

I say, what about spending time with one's children? If people are strapped having to work several jobs, they have less time for their kids. Sacrifice is a virtue, but something is wrong when parents have little time because they have to face long commutes and more than one job just to pay inflated rent and mortgage payments, let alone furniture costs.

A few years ago, I remember the concept of "latchkey children." That was children who would wear their house key around their necks and had to fend for themselves since the parents were seldom around.

When I placed this comment on Facebook, one of my conservative friends commented about her fond memories of coming home from school to her mom who was getting things ready for dinner. She wrote, "a perfect childhood" about that memory from the 1960s and early 70s.

Today, the two income household is more common. America's obsession with wealth and productivity has increased over the years. In Trump's speech before the Values Voter Summit, hard work and sacrifice was seen as a virtue. Work and sacrifice is good, but something is out of balance. Work life balance gets ignored. For instance, property values, in many locations, have gone too high for the average worker to keep up. That and other factors have led to overwork and a rat race society for many people who still work.

In this blog I write about things like better planning and urban density for shorter commutes, trying to tame house value inflation and rents so they come back into balance with the rest of the economy, healthier living and lower medical costs, work life balance. Goals that mainstream American culture needs to place more emphasis on.

One of my liberal, and I will also say gay, friends on Facebook wrote, "The Values Voter Summit is everything that is wrong with America in one place."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Living in the forest can be a bad idea

Devastating fires keep raging in the north part of San Francisco Bay area. A problem of living on the urban / rural fringe around trees and vegetation. Could be an argument for denser "urban style" development rather than the semi urban / semi rural "country style" living that's so popular in this country. Cluster the people and development in certain areas and then protect the rural and forested areas.

Planners often try to do this. Here in Washington, we have the Growth Management Law which tries to contain development into urban growth areas. I'm sure California has similar plans, but it's hard to apply these ideals. People in this country often crave semi urban semi rural settings. The economics of housing costs push a lot of people to the urban fringe as well. Folks who can't afford urban living given the current circumstances.

If we created more areas of urban density, rather than the growing sprawl, our urban areas would be more affordable. Zone more areas for higher density; assuming population growth keeps happening. Envision lifestyles around apartments and condos, smaller footprints, shorter commutes, less wildfire hazard. I think a lot more people would like to live in urban settings if there was more of it available.

Locally, I know of people who would rather live in Bellingham than facing long commutes from county areas with no sidewalks and so forth. They just can't afford it. If more areas were built like the central city, more people could live in urban settings. Some folks do prefer rural settings, but there are others who are out there just because they can't afford the cities. We should build more areas like cities.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trump tossed the paper towels and the crowd soaked it up

Maybe he should have autographed each roll of paper towels he tossed out. Anything the president, or any celebrity does draws a crowd. Like a baseball player tossing out balls to the fans. Most people never get a chance to see the president in person. If nothing else, it lifted the spirits of people in that room, tho that's probably not the best way to deal with the hurricane aftermath. Celebrity worship; a form of graveling. In the video I saw, it looks like he didn't even toss out all the towels on that table. Just a few token rolls that the crowd relished. Soaked up so to speak. Then he left. He didn't even finish that job, but that crowd at the church bought it; hook line and sinker.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Help yourself should be about more than just getting rich

In USA, people are often told to be resourceful and self reliant. That's good, but the model is usually some poor person who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and got rich financially. Should getting rich be the only model of success? It's good to make enough money to survive, but as a measure of success, there are many other things to strive for. Health and longevity, for instance. I know that non monetary measures can be harder to quantify, but health is a little easier to measure than some other things.

One can strive for success in lots of ways such as having good rapport with neighbors and one's community, peace of mind with less conflict in life, having plenty time to spend with one's kids, if one wishes to have a family, time for friends, conversation, contemplation and so forth. Also the feeling that one is making a valuable contribution to the world whether in their work or volunteer efforts.

I think these values need to be emphasized more as the bottom line for a good society. Better than having to be a workaholic, being stressed out with things like a long commute or making lots of enemies while scrambling to get to the corporate top. Money is only one measure, but it's overemphasized for sure.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Iran holds most of the cards if we scrap the nuclear deal

I say if we kill the deal, Iran holds more cards than we do. They could just go back to developing their nuclear program as new sanctions wouldn't necessarily work any better than they are now working with North Korea.

Meanwhile I think we can acknowledge that the current president of Iran is, I think, trying to reform things in Iran a bit. He should get some credit as he is in a precarious situation.

From this article it says: The international body overseeing the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said Iran remains in compliance, as have Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Administration officials in favor of keeping the deal in place have been looking for a way to split the difference between saving the deal and saving face related to Trump's campaign rhetoric.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Overpopulated Egypt still threatened by rainbow flag. Doesn't make sense.


Photo source: BBC News.

It makes no sense. In Egypt, just raising a rainbow flag at a concert can get one arrested. I guess anything that deviates from mainstream heterosexual lifestyle is considered a threat in Egyptian society. What's really a threat is overpopulation; or maybe too much heterosexuality.

I tend to connect issues that others don't connect. Coincidentally, another article has recently come out about Egypt's growing population being threatened by water shortage. That population is around 93 million by now. Turns out this new dam is nearing completion on a tributary of the Nile River. The new dam, called Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, is upstream in Ethiopia. There's worry about more use and diversions of precious water.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Lack of needed gun legislation is mostly the fault of Congress

We do need better gun control laws. More curbs on assault weapons and a bit more registration at least. Congress is to blame for lack of legislation here. It doesn't seem to matter, as much, who the president is. Obama favored this kind of legislation, but Congress was the bottleneck. Trump, of course, wouldn't even try to make these changes, but that's kind of a moot point I guess with this Congress.

During Obama's term, I heard that even with Democrats controlling Congress, by a slim margin, bills couldn't be passed due to filibuster in the Senate. The problem is mostly from Republicans, but also some from Democrats. We can change the nature of Congress when we vote in 2018.

Some folks are cynical enough to say we can't make a difference and voting doesn't matter. I know, one person's vote is just a drop in the bucket so it's hard to feel that it makes a difference, but when the population votes, I still believe it does make a difference.

Laws don't, of course, magically solve the problem of violence and gun violence. Much of it is cultural. Culture needs to change also. Laws may not be the panacea, but they can help. From what I hear, Australia has had some great success in curbing gun violence.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 08, 2017

My 2017 bicycle trip photos now posted to Flickr


Pictured: a grain elevator in Davenport, WA.

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

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

Thursday, September 07, 2017

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Accepting the reality of the population that is here

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I am now on another bicycle trip across Washington State

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

Photo Album


Link added 9/17/2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pot shops in Washington State could help retail landlords



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

Money addiction like sex addiction only more accepted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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