Monday, October 25, 2021

Dedication of Edward R. Murrow Center at WSU, 1973. My senior year in Pullman High School.

Going through old photos and thinking about my senior year in high school. Long before anyone knew what social media was, I was thinking about a possible career in broadcast media. It ended up being more like an avocation in social media.
During my senior year in high school (1972-73), I used to wander freely in the halls of KWSU's radio and TV studios in Pullman. It was in campus buildings open to the public.

One could peer through windows into an interesting world.

In 2013, when I bicycled back to Pullman for my 40th high school reunion, I revisited those same halls.

My sister Judith lives in Pullman. Being a bit less shy than me, at the time, she ask someone passing in the hall if we could tour a studio. They opened some things up, beyond just the hallways and answered many questions.
Here's a view from one of the halls I wandered in high school. The hall is still there, but the view has changed in this 2013 image.

KWSU TV Master Control.

New equipment now, but back then, the office looking room on the right had big video tape decks in it. They were the kind that stood on the floor; the size of a big home furnace back then. Furnaces are smaller, these days, as well.

Through the windows more to the left was master control, itself, with many TV screens. Looked different then.

The door on the right led to an observation area that looked down into two big TV studios.

More facilities than a small town TV station would need, but this was also a college of communications.

To this day, one still hears NWPB say they are a "service of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University."
Here's another hallway I wandered. Probably more off limits, but they invited me in, during my high school years. Then again in 2013.

The radio studios.

On the right was the news booth. Farther down the hall was the main studios.

To the left was more space where they said, when I was in high school, "we will probably get FM."

KWSU Radio was all on AM back then, but now it's the heart of a large empire of regional transmitters, mostly on FM. The heart of Northwest Public Broadcasting which serves many parts of the Pacific Northwest, including Bellingham.

During my high school years, it was a bit more informal. One of the students, working there, told a story about how they used to try and get the newscaster to break up laughing during the news.

One of the antics was to walk past the news booth and start crouching at the knees. From inside the booth, it looked like the person was starting down a flight of stairs.

There were no stairs in that hallway.
I attended the dedication of what was those new studios, during my senior year. It's the Edward R. Murrow Communications Center.

A building dating back to 1899 was remodeled and a new wing was added behind. Radio and journalism was in the old section, TV in the new section.

There was some other stuff too; like the WSU Syndicated Tape Network. Educational shows were mailed out on reel-to-real tape for various other radio stations.

A practice now made obsolete by the internet.

Someone, who lived on my paper route when I was in 8th grade, had a show called "Science In The News." That was one of the shows sent out over the WSU Tape Network.
Another view of the old section of Murrow Center.
I kept a lot of papers from that dedication.

A famous CBS news commentator named Eric Sevareld came out from New York City to speak at the dedication.

My only memory of his address, which was held at Bohler Gymnasium that many years ago, was his description of trying to book a flight to Pullman, WA. from New York City.

A travel agent handed him the ticket with several stopovers to change planes. She said, "I think this will get you there, but it's the first time it's ever been tried." Most people in New York City have never heard of Pullman, WA.

This might be an urban legend that I heard from my mom. She had read an article, somewhere, that one of the plane stops was Spokane, just before Pullman.

Knowing that Sevareld would be in the area, they invited him to speak in Spokane also. He sent them a postcard with one word on it.

"Bunk."

Like thinking of Spokane as just a whistle stop, it must have been seen as an insult.

For Pullman, it was a David and Goliath moment, as Spokane is the biggest city and trade center of that region.

My mom didn't think much of Spokane with it's more conservative politics than little Pullman. Pullman is a college town.

These days, that story would be thought of as "liberal elitism."

My mom noted that she traveled to Seattle, 300 miles away, more often than Spokane; a mere 80 miles away. She often took the Greyhound Bus (she was a non driver) to Seattle where she had volunteer activity, at the state level, in our liberal church denomination; the United Church of Christ (Congregationalist Churches).

Comparing Seattle to Spokane, my mom would say, "Spokane thinks its big, Seattle knows its big."

As I remember, there was some friction between the CBS news operation, in New York, and Spokane's CBS affiliate which was then KXLY TV Channel 4.

Several years later (if I remember correctly) CBS dropped KXLY and went to Spokane's KREM, Channel 2. KXLY then picked up the ABC network so the Spokane stations kind of did a network shuffle.

Picture of me on left in a high school TV production class.
I also kept copies of the high school newspaper that I was a reporter for.

The high school was also in a brand new building, my senior year. It featured some sophisticated communications equipment of its own.

Headline below is from another edition where I wrote an editorial. I still have that copy posted on Flickr.

KWSU TV was planning to move their transmitter to Kamiak Butte and I favored the idea. Increase the reach for educational media.

The editor, of the high school newspaper, was against the plans for putting a TV tower on Kamiak.

She printed my editorial and wrote one of her own in a "point counterpoint feature."
Before moving to Kamiak, KWSU's TV antenna was on the top of Bryan Hall Clock Tower. It only had about a 15 mile reach from there.
After that controversy cleared, they did build a tower on the left side of Kamiak Butte north of Pullman. Built sometime after I graduated from high school.

The tower is hardly visible (or not visible at all) in this picture that I took looking north from Terrell Library Plaza at WSU in 2001. There are dormatories in the foreground.

The range of the signal is much farther from Kamiak, but now it might not matter as much as just about everything goes worldwide on the internet.

Tax cuts do help the rich as they pay more of the taxes

Something to think about.

If the rich pay more taxes than the middle class and the poor; as some right wing people claim, then tax cuts benefit the rich more than anyone else. Seems like politics of tax cuts does mostly favor the rich, but lots of people still support that; for some reason.

They must still believe in trickle down? I can see being pro business, but often the tax cutting politics is what seems to increase income inequality still farther.

Maybe future generations will be toppling statues of contemporary people who continue using fossil fuels

I hear that a statue of Thomas Jefferson was recently toppled. He had some good ideas, but he did own slaves.

Yes, the context of the times was different.

Maybe future generations will topple statues of today's leaders as future generations might say, "they lived at a time when green house gas emissions was commonplace." "They stood by and allowed that to happen; even participating in it themselves."

Saturday, October 23, 2021

With energy prices going up, now is the time to consider a variable rate carbon tax.

Carbon taxes seem like good tools. Even Biden doesn't promote them because of side effects. A carbon tax is thought of as being regressive to poor folks who still have to commute to work.

One idea, I think about, is a variable rate carbon tax. Impose it during times of low fossil fuel prices and cut it back, or take it off, during times of high fossil fuel prices. It would be a variable tax.

This could prevent fossil fuels from undercutting renewable energy sources during times of cheap fossil fuel prices.

Today, lower income people are paying more for energy anyway now that the price has gone up again.

A better way to help low income people, than cheap fossil fuels, is to create new money (Modern Monetary Theory) and give it out for stimulus during times of low prices. This was done during the pandemic and it seemed fairly successful.

Economists often say you don't want to raise taxes during a recession as that just pushes the economy down further. My idea of a variable carbon tax would do just that. Raise taxes on fossil fuels that usually do go down in price during a recession.

Still, the stimulus idea can counterbalance that.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The debacle around former WSU Coach Rolovich demonstrates the need to spend more money on science than sports

South grandstands, WSU football stadium. Picture taken during my 2017 bicycle trip to Pullman. Grandstands only filled several times per year.

Who was the highest paid public official in the state of Washington? The football coach at Washington State University in my hometown of Pullman, WA.

He was recently let go from his job due to the mandate among Washington State employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. He refused to get the vaccine for undisclosed personal reasons, at first and then when push came to shove claiming the religious exemption which was later denied by the university.

In my opinion, it doesn't make sense not to get the vaccine unless there is a medical reason. Mandates may be a bit draconnian, but they do seem to work in reducing spread of disease. In an ideal world, mandates would not be necessary as people would function more rationally out of the goodness of their hearts and an understanding of the best science currently available.

Aside from all that, this firing of Rolovich is rocking the boat at WSU. It's problems associated with these high stakes games. That's one aspect of this whole story that most people wouldn't think about buried under the headlines. Why has football had to become such a high stakes endevour?

I hear that the team is now over 80 million dollars in debt. Having a wining team and a wining coach is considered crucial for the roadmap to paying off that debt. Paying the bills with TV revenues, ticket sales and so forth. Supposedly this isn't taxpayer's dollars, but as debts and problems mount, self sufficiency for the team becomes a more distant aspiration.

Seems like there are too many things, in our society, where the stakes are made high. Stuff that shouldn't be that important.

I've never been much of a sports fan, however.

There is a new coach, at least temporarily, filling in the position and a game is coming up Saturday (tomorrow). Many folks are holding their breaths and hoping the football season will continue with some wins.

Since there doesn't seem to be enough common sense and there isn't enough understanding of science, in our society, these problems happen. This is a big deal because of the importance of Football, at WSU and the amount of debt riding on the situation. At least there is one expense that has been saved, coach Rolovich's high salary; the highest paid public official in the state.

He is now suing the university in a wrongful dismissal suit. Now, money going to lawyers.

This whole situation has lead to a lot of divisiveness among Cougar fans, alumni and so forth.

Maybe we need to value science more and celebrity culture, including celebrity sports, less.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Maybe we are all robots anyway, since the subliminal advertising on television that they worried about many years ago.

About the supposed microchips being placed in the vaccines, I haven't noticed anything different since I got the vaccine.

That's probably because I've already been turned into a robot from the subliminal advertising, that they worried about being sent over televisions, around the 1970s.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Update about Bellingham waterfront redevelopment district, October 2021.

I picked up a recent Whatcom Watch newspaper (October 2021) with a big article about the many complexities at the second Harcourt construction site in Bellingham's waterfront redevelopment district.

It's basically still just a hole in the ground. Everything from worries about rising seawater to the virus has troubled this large project.

My image from about a year ago.

Without going into all those details, I got to thinking about a concept that is talked about in the Strong Towns Facebook Group. Incremental development. Often development evolves from small scale to larger scale over time; like as a small town, or neighborhood, grows up and densifies.

Seems like one of the problems with this waterfront district is that people have been trying to plan for the final outcome, right from the start. Planning the outcome before knowing what developments would want to move into that district, or where the money would come from.

People have debated, "how dense should it be?" "How tall should the buildings be?" "Should it all be park instead?"

No one knew what would naturally evolve there. By naturally, I'm meaning what the market, or taxpayers would bring. Maybe I shouldn't use the word naturally, here.

If truly left to nature, it would evolve into weeds growing up out of gravel.

Old Georgia Pacific pulp tanks awaiting new use such as for art.

Long before I knew about the Strong Towns Facebook Group, I remember thinking it's hard to plan out the waterfront in a vacuum. Not knowing who, or what would have the money, or demand to build there. At start, I guess the plans can't be rigid.

Since those early days of waterfront planning, after the Georgia Pacific Pulp Mill closed, the planning situation has improved, or at least introduced more of the concept of flexibility, I guess.

After that area sat empty for many years, while plans came and went. The Port District seems to have basically said, "lets get something started down there." Now there are some portable, or what are called "pop up" businesses going in that area. A beer garden, an ice cream place and so forth.

There is something called a pump bicycle track. These things seem to be successful. They are fairly small scale and can be moved around as more things come in. Portable type buildings.

Harcourt has succeeded, I think, in converting the old Granary Building into new use. From what I read, it is mostly leased now with small businesses and office use. In background right above picture.

The larger projects and plans, based on what people thought the area would look like in 50 years, are stumbling at best. Meanwhile, smaller and more flexible development is starting to take hold.

Good to see the street, park (Waypoint Park) and the bike paths there. I would understand if those things had to change course a bit, like relocating a bike path around a building at sometime in the future; if need be.

New street and bike path.

Old Georgia Pacific acid ball sculpture, Waypoint Park.

Seems like it is hard to plan for everything at once. Hard to plan everything at once without lots and lots of money from a central source.

Western Washington University was talking about putting something like a branch campus down there, a few years ago. That plan is at least on hold. It would have been in one section of that neighborhood.

Meanwhile there are some things starting down there and those things may change and move around a bit as future developments happen. Hard to predict, at first, just what shape it might take, but like so many towns and neighborhoods, the changes are often incremental and evolutionary.

See some of my photos about Bellingham, WA. Waterfront Redevelopment District.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The immigration issue is about population as far as I am concerned

The debate about immigration often focuses on fear of crime coming into USA. Fear that may, or may not be legitimate. To me, that's not the main issue. The big issue is accommodating population.

We can accommodate more. It could even have benefits for work that needs workers, prosperity that needs consumers and culture than needs vitality.

Problem is, we have to make changes in the way we live, here in USA. Acres of free parking may have to go. Housing density needs to increase in some areas. The Southwest states are on the verge of running out of fresh water.

In some ways, we could live more fulfilling lives than we live now with the isolation and alienation of today's culture, but we have to be willing to make some big changes.

Population does have it's limits depending on how we live.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Censorship on media and social media, or just trying to prevent irrational panic.

There is news that one person, here in Washington State, has died due to the rare blood clot complications related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Apparently her obituary was censored on Twitter so now people are saying censorship.

Nothing is perfect and with 0% risk, but the vaccines are still safe, compared to being in a car or even riding a bicycle. Much, much safer than the risk of catching the virus, itself.

It's like playing the odds. What's the lowest risk, realizing that there's never totally no risk.

In an ideal world, all the news would be available, including the rare and freak incidents, but I can also see why media is under pressure to cool discussion a bit due to problems with public reaction.

Odd and rare stories, like a commercial airline crash, will make the news and be remembered, but something far more common, like everyday automobile crashes, gets less attention.

Due to this problem in public reaction, some types of news can feed people's distorted views of risk and cause reactions that lead to more deaths.

The news is out there, but I'm sure some editors are trying to cool things as so much of the public does tend to go off on distorted tangents.

I have heard about that situation with the J&J vaccine from several sources, so the news is out there.

Part of what makes this controversial is that the person didn't want to be vaccinated, but had to comply with a mandate related to being with a child at school.

Too bad she got the J&J as the Pizer or the Moderna are even safer and don't have that rare blood clot issue with pre menopausal women. I can only guess, but maybe she did the J&J because she was up against a deadline for the mandate and it's only a one shot vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna are two shot vaccines which would take more time. That's only my guess.

A real good response to my post on Facebook

This is exactly the problem. The rare event gets lots of news coverage because it's rare, and then people see all that news coverage and get an exaggerated sense of the risk the rare event poses to their own lives and the lives of people in general. It's what's happening with the battery fires in Bolt EVs (electric vehicles). Some Bolt owners are panicking and selling their cars, saying they're going back to gasoline-powered vehicles and will never again buy an EV. There are far more fires in gasoline-powered vehicles than in EVs, but it's difficult to convince people of that.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Too many Third World Countries aspire to the bad, from USA life, without the good.

Today is National Coming Out Day, which I remember going back to my college days of the mid 1970s.

Since then, it seems like gay rights is one of the only social movements to make significant progress in USA. From coming out of the closet to legalized gay marriage. Meanwhile, other ideals haven't made such progress. Our carbon footprint is higher, income inequality is worse.

Unfortunately gay rights is still scorned in some Third World nations, yet it's one thing we have done right, here in USA. We've done good, though admittedly not as good in all parts of USA.

Basically Western Nations have made lots of progress on LGBTQA rights yet those rights are still scorned in much of the world. That is kind of ironic and unfortunate.

As for social justice, we in the west; especially in USA, have not done so good in reducing greed, resource consumption and carbon emissions. Things that I had also hoped for during my college years. Income inequality continues to grow and homelessness persists.

Seems like much of the Third World aspires to be more like us, materialistically, but not necessarily in terms of our human rights. Our greed and materialism has lead to the consequences of climate change and income inequality. It's like Third World nations want the bad without the good.

As for things that reduce global warming, one of western nation's greatest contributions is reducing our birthrates. Human rights plays a role here.

Other things, such as reducing our consumption, have not been as significant.

We have great technological innovations that hold promise, but they haven't been gaining traction as significantly as needed.

Meanwhile, energy prices are going up, worldwide, as the economy picks up speed. To put this in context, energy prices have been even higher, before; especially compared to other prices in the economy.

Still, green energy is not taking the load quick enough and / or our consumption habits are still too pervasive.

My vision of a low consumption, high technology future. Goes back to my college days.

I would like to see a world that, for the most part, embraces the abundance provided by technology. Smartphones, for instance.

At the same time, voluntary simplicity in terms of space used and resources consumed.

There are recent trends in electronic technology that use less energy and space. Microchips versus vacuum tubes, heat pumps versus woodstoves.

I would like to see less cultural pressure to work long hours and consume. Having more free time and work life balance would be good.

I would like to see less use of the private automobile due to the space and resources it consumes. Also the safety / accident problem. My ideal world would see more use of public transit and bicycles. Bicycles for health and the beauty of what can be seen at a slower pace.

High tech transit, like the Skytrain in Vancouver, BC. (actually started in 1986!) is good, but the simple city bus works also. We already have, at hand, much of what my future world would use.

Life could generally be at a slower and at a less stressful pace, but technology would be available and used wisely.

Most people would live in urban settings for transit, walking, bicycling and to protect farmlands from sprawl. Some folks would live in rural settings; especially if engaged in resource production such as farming, forestry and tourism.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Sensationalism might be a good concept to think about in terms of the Facebook algorithm issues.

Now comes the difficult task of trying to figure out how to regulate, or what to do about Facebook's algorithms. I think much of the problem isn't new, but just takes on new forms in new media. In journalism, it's called the problem of "sensationalism."

In the past, I've learned about the concept of "Yellow Journalism." There's the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads." There's also the concept of "tabloid journalism."

Interesting that, so far, I haven't heard that terminology used; in terms of this Facebook issue. We keep having to reinvent the wheel, I guess.

Thinking of this in terms of sensationalism could be useful. How do we reduce it? Can it be regulated? Is it mostly just the fault of what people react to? Is it mostly the result of media businesses, including social media, pushing it as a business model?

On Facebook and other social media, it's artificial intelligence pushing things. AI that can still be programmed. In the past days of regular media, it was the likes of editors, journalists and headline writers.

On a personal note, I notice the things that I write about don't usually generate lots of emotional response.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Both Infrastructure Bill #1 and Infrastructure Bill #2 might pass. They might still pull it off.

Maybe #2 will be somewhat smaller, but they still might pull something off.

If not, they should still pass #1. Ideally, they can do a lot of what's in the spirit of the law for #2 on down the road. Ideally, if the Democrats had stronger backing from the voters, they could pull things off with more comfortable margins in the House and Senate. The real thin margin is nerve wracking.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The 3 trillion dollar infrastructure package isn't that good a hill for the Democrats to die on trying to solve climate change

I think the best strategy for the Democrats is to pass Infrastructure Bill #1. More "progressive" Democrats have wanted to hold it hostage so they can try and get the larger Infrastructure Bill #2 passed.

That strategy is risky if it causes both bills to not pass. Risky in the public relations / political environment.

Among the rank and file American public, there isn't a strong enough consensus for a "more to the left" bill. That's one of the big problems. Bolder measures need more support at the grassroots level.

As for doing more to combat climate change, big changes in American lifestyles; things like car dependency and single family residential living, would address climate change. A political consensus for this would indicate a strong political consensus for tackling climate change in a really big way. This kind of consensus would really change politics, but we don't seem to have that consensus.

The progressive's larger infrastructure bill isn't really that either. It's more of a large collection of items ranging from climate change to childcare to college funding. A big box of items put together mostly because it's a train that might get through Senate filibuster because it's hooked to the engine of reconciliation.

That's kind of an artifact of our dysfunctional Senate; rather than a "hill to die on" related to climate change. Problem is, there isn't a big consensus to back it among the American people and the electorate could swing back toward giving Republicans the slight margin again come 2022 Congressional elections.

Now some people think, like folks who write in the Strong Towns Facebook Group, that infrastructure spending is too "sprawl centric" and too "automobile centric." The American way; a beast that we have created, is just too expensive and will always keep us behind and in debt on the upkeep it requires.

I don't know how a lot of the Strong Towns people feel about this infrastructure debate going on today as I write. Would they back Infrastructure Bill #1, Infrastructure Bill #2, or neither?

My guess is, they are likely all over the map on these specific bills.

Both #1 and #2 are probably better than the more auto centric freeway oriented infrastructure spending of years past.

I guess that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has had a hand in the crafting of these bills so they both have emphasis on things like public transit. Less money dumped into freeway sprawl.

Infrastructure Bill #1 is likely a modest step in a better direction than what we have had over decades past.

It isn't revolutionary change, but it seems like revolutionary change will have to come from the American people who, for the most part, are not ready yet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Maybe we can't sustain our over consumptive economy without nuclear power?

Now that the economy is picking up again, the world is facing another energy shortage. Natural gas prices are going up. Seems like the American middle class lifestyle, that so much of the world aspires to, is unsustainable. Car ownership, population growth, sprawl and detached homes; for the most part.

It might be sustainable, but not the way we are doing it. For instance, maybe we should have embraced nuclear power more. In Japan, fossil fuel use has increased since many of their nuclear power plants have been shut down. Similar problems exist in Europe; like in Germany. Less so in France where nuclear power is still embraced.

One of the problems that is happening now is that the wind hasn't (for some reason) been blowing as much as usual in Europe so there has been a recent lull in wind power. At the same time, Russia is a big supplier of gas for Europe and it's been devoting more of it's supply toward China.

I am a bit of an advocate for embracing new technologies, such as some of the improved and smaller scale nuclear technologies in the news. That's only part of the story. I am also an advocate of less consumptive lifestyles. More bicycling, smaller residences, less population growth. We need to tackle this energy / fossil fuel problem from both directions.

In the long run, solar, wind and possibly hydrogen fusion (an even better nuclear technology) might work, but it takes time to implement. Meanwhile, the lifestyles of so many people, especially here in USA, are unsustainable. We have to make more of an effort to change lifestyles until the miracle technologies develop.

The change is best from the bottom up, but instead, people are pinning hopes on the Democrats large infrastructure bill. If I have to say yes, or no, I'm still in favor of it passing, but it is a "top down" solution. Meanwhile average people are just waiting, for the most part, and not changing enough.

If the Democrat's political gamble doesn't work, there is the danger of things swinging back toward Republican politics. Yes, some of this is tinkering and gerrymandering, but we are more vulnerable to that manipulation if we don't change at the grass roots level.

We are more vulnerable if we expect the improbable; a solution where consumptive life and sprawl continues while the things that sustain it, like energy sources, keep being opposed.

We may need more nuclear. Wind and solar need to be developed faster, but they don't come without some consequences. Windfarms in the scenery for instance. I think windfarms can be seen as art. We've had a changing landscape for decades; freeways for instance.

We can't be totally spoiled and expect an invisible magic wand to fix it all for us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

If there is scientific consensus, it's usually the best way to go, but not always

Things like medical advise and scientific consensus gets questioned often. Here's some thinking I had about that situation.

Scientific thinking does evolve. Otherwise we would still be using yesterday's computers today; like 5 1/4 inch floppy disks.

Usually, but not always, a consensus among scientists (when there is a consensus among scientists) is a good bet compared to randomly striking out in all directions. Following scientific advice is usually, but not necessarily always, the best course at a given time.

Sometimes a consensus of scientists can go in the wrong direction and some outside influence will eventually revolutionize the science to a better course. This happens somewhat rarely, but it can happen. More often the science is closer to the best answer than the alternatives.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

To a question about how one thinks the pandemic would have been different if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016, my answer was

The worldwide pandemic would have still happened. We would have been severely impacted, but our government's response would have been a lot better organized and less chaotic.

Hillary Clinton would have gotten lots of the blame for the pandemic happening under her watch, but the blame would be misplaced.

The US death rate would have been lower with a better coordinated federal response, but it would still be a high death rate; just not quite as bad.

Republican led states would have still had higher per capita death rates than Democratic led states as a lot of the outcome would be, as it is now, dependent on local and state situations.

There would have been less civil unrest without Trump fomenting hatred from the presidential pulpit.

Still, the pendulum of dissatisfied voters might have put Trump, or some other Republican, into the Whitehouse in 2020.

I often think we've met the enemy and the enemy is us, but one can also say that leadership does have consequences. It's just that people tend to focus only on leadership, but the picture is a lot bigger than that.

One thing behind vaccine and mask resistance might be a subconscious embrace of death's inevitability

I often wonder if much of the polarization over how to deal with the pandemic has to do with different tolerances for risk.

Some people place staying alive as their number 1 priority while others have a different mix of priorities. This mix could be subconscious; beneath the other layers of opinion.

Death is still an inevitable outcome of being alive. Some people might think, if it isn't the virus, it's going to be something else, eventually, that ends one's life.

I got to thinking that there are some people who claim the number of deaths, from the virus, has been exaggerated. Some of these people even ascribe conspiracy theories about the numbers saying that doctors are paid more if they report death from the virus on the death certificate.

I don't buy the conspiracy theories, but I do think that death is often attributable to multiple causes. Before the Delta Variant, it was true that a lot of the people who died tended to have, what are called "comorbidity factors." Factors such as old age and / or poor health.

Now, with Delta, that's less true, but past thinking hangs on. Delta is more apt to kill just from the virus alone.

In our culture, we try and prevent as well as avoid death. This avoidance can cast a shadow over living our lives causing people to shy away from somewhat risky, but maybe fulfilling experiences. One example being the motorcycle rally at Sturgis, South Dakota. The fair in Lynden or even the crowds at Downtown Sounds, in Bellingham, can be other examples.

How willing are people to risk loosing life in order to live life? Some people do drive over the speed limit; for instance. Lots of folks are into extreme sports and risky adventure.

One can wonder how tragic it really is when someone dies, or whether it's just nature taking it's course?

These are thoughts that most people try to push out of their minds, but this reality could lie behind some of the differing ways that we think and behave.

Good point from the comments I got when I posted this on Facebook.

There are two risk factors here. First, to one's own life (as you describe). It's one thing to engage in behaviors that only affect one's self (although there are often emotional impacts to others). Second, there's the risk to other people's health and lives. Engaging in behaviors that involuntarily put other people are risk is unethical. So many people seem to be focused on what they want, but they don't take responsibility for the greater good of other people's health.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

If countries, like Russia, worry about declining population, they need to have human rights so people want to move there.

While the world as a whole is still struggling with population growth and climate change, some countries, like Russia, are worried about their population declining. Who wants to live there? Meanwhile, here in USA, we seem to have more than enough people wanting to immigrate here.

I got to thinking, if there was ever a worldwide shortage of people, democracies that respect human rights would be at an advantage. There always seems to be enough, if not more than enough, people wanting to move to USA, Canada, Australia and some western European countries.

If there was ever a worldwide shortage of people, countries would have to compete to attract folks who want to live there. It might encourage countries to become more democratic.

There's the phrase, "vote with your feet."

Ironically, countries that respect LGBTQ rights (the rights of people less apt to reproduce) might see their populations increase as folks flee the more bigoted countries. The more democratic countries could be bouyed by growth of their internal markets, workforces and talent as those are the countries people want to move to.

Remember, Einsien was an immigrant.

USA seems to have no problem attracting people, but it is trying to limit immigration. Growth does bring growing pains. While we seem to respect human rights more than a lot of other countries, we have our problems accomidating growth. Rising housing costs, water shortages, nimby neighbors, traffic. One problem is, we are still too dependent on the space gobbling automobile. Acres of free parking may have to go.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Things may not get better than summer of 2021 for a while

I have a funny feeling that this summer (2021) may be about as good as it gets in terms of life getting back to "normal" from the virus. Last summer (2020) was a lot more spartan, in terms of things being closed.

This summer has been more open, especially outdoor events; like dancing in Elizabeth Park. With the variants coming along, I hate to say it, but this summer could be the "new normal" for a long time.

We could be limping along for quite some time. More people getting the vaccine would help, in this country at least, but there would still not be enough vaccines to go around worldwide. Variants can still get started in places like India.

I still wonder if people, who don't believe the vaccine is the main answer, have any alternative answer. Sure, there are a lot of alternative ideas, but it seems like nothing short of worldwide vaccination will get us beyond the limping that we have had this summer.

There are probably too many of us on this planet anyway, but I still like being alive, myself. It seems kind of callus to think we need a die off, but in the long term, it might be good for human evolution.

A dieoff would have to be worse than the death toll from the virus, of course; like a few billion people.

A world with only, say, 3.5 billion people would be around half who's alive today, but it's still a lot of people. 3.5 billion could pick up and even flourish in not that long, historically speaking.

They would likely flourish, in quality of life, better than us; especially if they learned a few lessons. Our future generations would flourish, if the die off didn't traumatize the human race so much that it brought everything down with the people who died in the die off.

I often say, we need more birth control because that's a lot better than a human die off. We don't have to have a die off.

Technology and less consumptive living can fix this (climate change) even with our current 7.5 billion. It might be a stretch, but still possible; especially if we don't go much beyond 7.5 billion.

On that note, a Meteorology Association study came out about killer storms. Yes they are worse than before; 5 times as frequent as they were in 1970, but the death toll is lower. Storms, droughts and so forth, may be worse, but our technologies for protecting people are improving. We have better building standards, evacuation plans and so forth.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Conspiracy theory, the ultimate in blame politics.

I tend to think we have found the enemy and the enemy is us. I often blame people and culture, rather than government and corporations, for our problems.

I know that both things are true. Totally blaming people is one perspective at one extreme of a spectrum. At the other end of that spectrum would be conspiracy theory; like thinking the vaccine is a plot by Bill Gates to control the world.

I think many of our problems are a vicious cycle between people and institutions that can enhance bad behavior. Corporations respond to people's choices, in mass, as those choices create the market. On the other hand, corporations enhance this through advertising and other means.

Some people think climate change is caused by something called HARP; a set of microwave antennas in Alaska used for research. Supposedly the government is using it, along with con trails from jet planes, to control the climate. Also our minds.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Slippery slope against our liberties might have been worse during the draft years than today. Maybe less to worry about now.

People worry about liberties being taken away; such as during emergencies. The pandemic, climate change, wildfires, even a hurricane. Sometimes people need to give up a bit of liberty for safety. This can be a worrisome slippery slope, but it's needed at times.

Back in the 1960s, there was the military draft. We were at war, the Vietnam War. Men turning 18 years of age were subject to being drafted into the military, whether they liked it or not. Alternatives were seeking exemptions that could be hard to get, fleeing to Canada or going to prison. My older brother had to face those choices before he did finally get conscientious objector status.

I would guess that, compared to those days, the slippery slope, we seem to always be on, is not as bad today. Not as bad as it was back then; at least here in USA. I know, that's a matter of opinion, of course.

It's good to be questioning and somewhat vigilant, but people forget, we had a draft back then. Just getting a shot offered for free to prevent serious illness seems mild by comparison. I do realize some other people have different perspectives than mine. They might think the shot is a form of technological mind control.

The draft was a big deal back then. We had "subliminal advertising" back then as well; speaking of mind control. Television was pretty new. New technology was scary back then also.

Look what the automobile has done to society. Worry about the slippery slope is not new.

As for the fate of democracy worldwide, in Mainland China and so forth, that's another story.

Here in USA life goes on. We need to find that balance to keep society functioning while not turning into a tyranny. A balance between the extremes. Extremes that could cause us to loose it.

In Afghanistan, seems like the choices were to pull out or face reality of a war without end

Back at the start of the Afghanistan War, I remember editorials in the media saying that terrorism is a crime and that war is not the best strategy to use against crime. They would say that calling it a "war on terror" was a bad idea. Law enforcement would be a better strategy.

The concept of a war on terror won out, however and the war began. A war that was supposed to have a victory, but turns out it was probably the wrong strategy all along. In the beginning, it was a very popular war. Both Republicans and Democrats thought it was necessary, but a few did question it.

Now that we have pulled our troops out of Afghanistan, quite a few Republicans are saying we should have kept a permanent military presence there. Now they are saying this, but during the war, they were still viewing it as a war with a potential end. Trump did want to pull out and started this recent messy process that's continued during Biden's watch. Our troops are now out.

Even before Trump, Republicans were not pushing the idea of an indefinent involvement. Unlike in the western European nations that joined NATO, a perminant presence was not welcome in the Islamic world.

Now that we are out, Republicans, from Mitt Romney to others, seem to be saying a permanent presence should have been the plan. It's like facing the fact that the war was a non ending strategy, costs and all.

I am more in favor of not having the war, but I realize that the situation is "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

Hopefully a new "over the horizon" strategy that Biden has been talking about can work better for protecting our safety. As for the people remaining in Afghanistan, continued efforts to encourage human rights and hope that the new Taliban will not be as bad as before might be a better strategy than war; war which we are now facing really didn't have a viable end.

Can the consumption / production cycle run fast enough to justify rising property values?

Property values, stocks and the long term store of wealth has been rising fast. This pushes up things like rent and the cost of first time home purchases.

To pay these costs, the economy must run at a faster and faster pace creating goods and services so people can earn enough at jobs to pay these costs.

To justify the expectation of accumulated wealth, ongoing production and consumption has to keep up. The vehicle used to do this is jobs.

Too much consumption can be detrimental to both the environment and the human spirit burdened by all this clutter and speed. We will probably have to keep creating new money, out of thin air; like happened during the pandemic, to keep up this sense of accumulated wealth.

The economy is expected to support the wealth of the extremely wealthy, the retirement expectations of the average person, the perceived value of property purchased and the expectations that people place on government ranging from public safety to infrastructure.

If we could find a way to allow for a slower economy without becoming behind in the rent; so to speak, it would be easier to reduce the carbon footprint.

Progress could still be made in science and new technologies that could bring greener wealth, but a lot of what we are doing now, just to keep up with the rents and the bills, is pure waste.

Much of that waste is related to excess property value being pushed ahead by low, low interest rates.

Low interest money pushes up values and it also means that people don't use regular banks to save wealth. With interest rates so low, people invest in property and stocks as the means to "park" their wealth.

The regular economy of consumption and production has trouble keeping up with all this stored wealth. This was especially evident during the pandemic, but it's also a problem related to climate change.

I think the perception of wealth is now having to be subsidized more and more with the creation of new money out of thin air. Our old justification for wealth; which has been the production / consumption cycle; isn't able to keep up.

This is also true as more people are retired and more apt to be living off wealth versus their own economic production.