Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Army Corps of Engineers rejects second coal port north of Bellingham. First coal port is in Canada.

Coal train crossing Nooksack River in Ferndale on it's way back from making coal delivery at Robert's Bank. An already existing coal port just north of Canadian border.

Army Corps of Engineers has delivered what could be a fatal blow to the Gateway Pacific proposal to build a coal port north of Bellingham. The Corps ruled in favor of the Lummi Nation which feared that the port would interfere with their treaty fishing rights. Herald article.

Good news for environmentalists as there was lots of opposition to the coal port proposal. This opposition included concern about continuing to build up fossil fuel infrastructure in the face of the global warming situation.

It seemed like a bad idea economically as well. Due to global warming and other alternative fuels, such as solar power and less carbon intensive natural gas, coal use should be in decline. Even coal use in China. Unless a way can be found to sequester the carbon emissions, growth of fossil fuel consumption is problematic. As for coal facilities, we do already have a coal port in this region. It's just a few miles across the border in Canada.

Several years ago, it looked like coal consumption in Asia was increasing rapidly. There was fear, I'd guess, that the capacity of the Canadian coal port wouldn't be sufficient to handle all the demand for shipping; especially if it were to prioritize Canadian over US coal.

Also, I'd guess there was interest in building a US port to say it's in our country and someone would be making money. It was also thought of as a source of local jobs even though not that many permanent jobs would be created. It would have created some construction jobs. There were a few labor union groups that supported the idea as labor doesn't necessarily always side with environmentalist interests. Also not all labor supported it. Some labor groups felt it could be used as a bulk commodity port for agricultural products as coal might be seen as just a way to get it started. A way to pay for capital costs, but over the long haul other bulk commodities would be shipped. This was a way that certain labor leaders reconciled the problems with the project. I remember this idea coming up on a local radio talk show with one union official.

Also, it seems like a stretch to ship coal all the way from Wyoming and Montana, by rail, along such an indirect route. Through Spokane, then down to Portland, Oregon and then all they way back north through Seattle and so forth to this area to then be placed on ships for transport across the Pacific. Of course I realize that oil has been shipped long distance, like that, for years. Still, the energy economy is in for big changes. This second coal port north of Bellingham was a bad idea.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Republicans must live with consequences of their beloved market forces as Donald Trump's marketing went viral

One Republican value that has lead to the rise of Donald Trump is faith in the market. In markets, marketing is a very important force. Donald Trump has been a master at that. His candidacy basically went viral. Money is one factor in marketing, but not the only factor. Much of the really big money weighed in against Trump, but Trump has lots of money also. Going viral and having the skills to play marketing like a violin holds lots of sway. That's a big part of the private enterprise system. Republicans tend to espouse this. Now they must live with it.

Marketing isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is a good thing, but in my opinion, for the best of society, marketing does need to be tempered by other things. Government is one of the other forces in society. We need to find the sweet spots in a balance of forces for the best of society. It's an inexact science for sure. Just saying "leave it all up the the market," like in an absolutist opinion, isn't going to find the balance.

Amazing day here in the part of Washington State called The Fourth Corner.

May 7 2016.

Donald Trump having an afternoon rally starting at noon at Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden while also at noon Amy Goodman is speaking in Mount Vernon. Amy Goodman, progressive activist of Democracy Now Radio fame. Speaking at Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon.

At 4 PM Bellingham holds its annual Procession of the Species. Maybe there will be a funny elephant takeoff of the Republican symbol in that eclectic procession as some national media might be around.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Easiest to just use the bathroom of the sex you most look like currently

States that try to pass laws that one must use bathroom of the gender listed on one's birth certificate create a problem. Some transgender people are post operation and look more like the gender they are becoming than the gender listed on their birth certificate. Seems like the easiest solution, short of single occupancy facilities, is to use the bathroom of the gender you most look like currently. Determining what gender someone most looks like is best done by the people in the situation. Not easy to define at the government level.

Here's some more thoughts on the subject.

The binary system of men's and women's facilities was developed before we realized how fluid gender can be. Also before we took gay people into account. It was supposedly designed, I guess, to maintain modesty in separation of opposite sexes. New knowledge about our sexual natures is tossing a bit of a monkey wrench into that system. As that system becomes more stressed, or compromised, some folks fear that the illusive predator hiding under the bed will be able to take advantage of the situation. Not necessarily a fear of the transgender folks, themselves, but fear of what could happen as a system that so many folks got used to is being buffeted by the winds of change. Makes me think about a film I saw, when I was in high school, called Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler. As new information and change accelerate in society, a lot of people long for going back to what, I think, was described in the film as "Bonanza Land;" like the old TV show Bonanza.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Is Queer, Millennial Privilege a Thing? Or is there just a need for more connected community overall?

Article about young people being not that appreciative of older activists who have blazed the trail to better times. My own thoughts below that I posted on Facebook with the article. I put this thinking in my blog also.

Seems like there is more separation of ages in the gay community than in other areas where activism happens; such as environmentalists, for instance. Maybe there isn't a gay community anyway. Just somewhat isolated gay people in each generation. People that don't have a lot in common for many reasons including political interests, wealth, age and so forth. There needs to be more connections and community among gay people. This would also include connection between generations. One of the problems may be how much energy people put into their romantic relationships versus other more varied friendships. It takes a network of friendships to create community. Also apathy is a problem. We all need to look past just our own self interest to the larger world beyond us.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My bike ride to Waples Mercantile Building in Lynden. Building restored after fire

They did a good job restoring the building and leaving much of the old walls, timbers and floorboards for art's sake. See more details on the building and my April 2016 ride as posted on Flickr.

A bit more history here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

No hope in logic sign near Bellingham waterfront

Reader board has been near Bellingham's waterfront for a while saying there's no hope in logic. I'm assuming theological thinking.

A friend of mine said, I wouldn't want to take my engine to a repair shop that doesn't believe in logic.

This different sound byte can be the start of many a philosophical discussion. Is there no hope in logic because logic and evidence tends to point away from any hope in life after death?

Then again, I got to thinking that many fundamentalist religious beliefs have a logic; a rigid logic. Like clockwork, fundamentalists tend to follow their systems of belief that follow logical progressions. This logic often based on false pretense.

As for hope, I have hope that we still have a lot more to learn. We, as humans, haven't figured everything out yet.

Other side of sign with moon in background.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Religious rights versus civil rights

The so called religious rights bills sweeping some states are a reaction against civil rights laws that include LGBT people. Many of these states don't have civil rights laws, at the state level at least, that include LGBT people. Here in Washington State, we do have civil rights laws that include LGBT, but these laws specifically exempt churches and religious institutions. From what I understand, churches can still discriminate if they wish to under Washington State's fair housing and employment laws for GLBT.

Marriage Equality is a different issue. That Supreme Court ruling allows gay people to be legally married, but it doesn't require anyone to preform that duty; except for state employees such as county clerks acting on behalf of the state. If a church doesn't wish to preform a gay marriage, it's still allowed to make that choice.

Forcing someone to serve a gay marriage, such as baking a cake, is not part of gay marriage. It's more a function of anti discrimination laws, which many states don't have. Here in Washington State, we do have anti discrimination laws, but there are already exemptions written into those laws. The anti discrimination law doesn't apply to a church, but does apply, I guess, to a business, such as a bakery, as covered by civil rights laws. I guess that's what civil rights laws do. They tend to force people to not discriminate against minorities.

At least that's my understanding.

Here it's useful to contemplate what a libertarian might say. Libertarians who don't like coercion by government might oppose any civil rights bill that forces a business to hire or do business with someone they don't choose to do business with. This could apply to the issue of race as well. I'm not a libertarian, but thinking about what a libertarian might say can be useful in this discussion.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Downtown digital

Night Market in downtown Bellingham. Another mingling of artists, conversations, music, retail and "happening." One artist invited people to dabble colors onto strips of wood. The image from the strips was fed into a camera and then projected on the wall of the ramp going into the Parkade Building.


What one can do in this age of digital projection.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Keeping the Bern alive in a post nomination world

My own state of Washington showed up at caucuses for Bernie. Headline in Washington DC Post proclaims huge win in Washington State, but rest of the article discusses how difficult it might be for him to maintain this momentum in the other big states that are left such as New York (Hillary Clinton's home state), Pennsylvania and California.

I got to thinking some thoughts that Bernie supporters might not want to hear right now in the cusp of victory. Thoughts about what could happen after the convention if Clinton were to get the nomination. This outcome isn't inevitable, but it does still seem likely. I hope Sanders supporters would keep their enthusiasm and engagement. It might be a bit much to expect that they would cheer, rally and be real excited about Clinton, but hopefully most of them would still quietly vote for her versus sitting out the election and allowing someone like Ted Cruz to get elected. Then after the election and even before, Bernie and his supporters can stick together and push the Democratic mainstream to the left. Also remembering that who gets into Congress may even be more important than who the president is.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Better preparing for a good life given the low wage jobs of the future

Some folks see the solution to economic woes being more education. Science, math, STEM, computer programming and so forth to prepare people for the "jobs of the future." Problem is most of the jobs of the future seem to be low wage service type positions; such as hotel maids or things like piece work Uber drivers. Little is done about teaching us how to live our lives and plan society around the reality of low wage work for the majority of folks. How can housing, health, transportation and education become affordable so we can live with dignity, given the jobs of the future?

Politicians often talk about the high tech jobs that can't be filled do to lack of workers with certain highly specific credentials. This problem gets lots of media attention, but seems like it isn't the vast majority of jobs. In our economy, there are a certain segment of jobs that are highly specialized and hard to match. It's true that there may be a mismatch between education and some of these specialties, but part of that problem is the rapidly changing technology of today causing education to lag behind the cutting edge needs. While these specialized jobs do exist, the bulk of the jobs are not this. I hear it only takes a few employees to run many multi billion dollar tech companies such as Instagram. Educating more people just to compete for those specialized positions isn't going to help most workers.

Our tech economy does help consumers, however. Folks get to use great resources such as Google and Facebook for free, but this doesn't pay the rent. We live in a time of great opportunities created by technology. Not necessarily job opportunities for most people, but cultural opportunities in research, volunteerism and reaching out across the globe. What we need to do is to figure out how to make society work better, given the fact that most people aren't going to be at the top of the tech game in their vocation. Most people will still be working lower down on the pay scale, but life can still be good. We just have to figure out how to better plan our societies and our education goals for the realities that most people face. Elite education and jobs will still exist, but most people have a need for different strategies. Learning to navigate the world by bicycle, for instance. Learning how to stay healthy and not need un affordable healthcare, for instance.

Economists, like the liberal writer Paul Krugman, might complain a bit about my ideas as much of his thinking revolves around bolstering consumption to rev up the economy. Bolstering consumption, given our environmental crisis, is tricky. It can be done using better technology, such as solar energy, but it is tricky. I do like many of his ideas about circulating wealth in better and more fair ways, but we also need to learn how to live well with less dependency on consumption. Not necessarily turn the clock back to less prosperous times, but just learn how to live more intelligently. Live intelligently, using the tools technology is giving us.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the rat race, prosperity, in products, is easier to obtain than finding home. Quality, fairness and community should be what counts.

For decades we have been scratching our heads trying to figure out how to get more prosperity. Prosperity is usually measured in the flow of goods and services. As for goods, how many products do we need? The smartphones most Americans have are miraculous compared to the transistor radios we were lucky to have back in the 1960s. So what more can we want? Our landfills and second hand stores are overflowing. Our food supply leads us to obesity. In many ways even our poor people live in material abundance. What many people don't have, these days, is the ability to be able to afford a place to live. A home is becoming un affordable in many parts of the country.

College education has gotten more expensive along with medical care. Some of these problems are related to the widening income gap in society. As for education, our colleges have gotten more expensive as they try to catch up the salaries they pay their top staff to bloated salaries at the top of private sector business. Medical costs are effected by this rat race to the top also. A problem of the income gap. Housing is going up also due to inflated markets driven by the push for more prosperity. Also our public institutions could use more discretionary spending for things like infrastructure. This is suffering from rising costs for labor, land and so forth pitted against tax ceilings.

Maybe we need to tax high incomes more and change the focus of society toward higher quality of life. Higher quality with the great technologies we now have at our disposal. Don't worry, even if we tax the rich more, we can still look forward to even better smartphones in the future. At the same time, maybe we can slow down the rat race just a bit and have more quality of life and a bit more peace of mind along with the latest our technology has to offer. A society with less income discrepancy could be a somewhat more relaxed and less neurotic society. I assume even prosperity will still inch forward as it has for the past few years. Just find a way to have us feel like we are living the "good life" without destroying the environment as well. The challenge we face. The good life can also mean, in part, a good and fair community.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

But what if you are a sissy?

They say getting older is not for sissies. So, if one is a sissy, what can you do?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Yes the world is benefiting from trade, but US workers are weary holding up superpower vestiges

Paul Krugman writes in his March 11 column on Trade and Tribulation that free trade agreements aren't necessarily the bugaboo that both Trump and Sanders claim. He admits some aren't great, tho, like the latest TTP that Obama is pushing. At the same time more trade and international cooperation has benefited the world and provided foundations for international cooperation on things like the latest climate change agreement.

My own thinking, beyond what he has said, takes me to my childhood in the 1960s when there was some guilt about US being so rich while much of the world was hungry. 6% of population in USA consuming a big chunk of world resources. Now there is more prosperity around the world so the world is becoming fairer.

This is good, in a way, but I can see why people, in USA, are weary of this; like in "superpower fatigue." The world is getting more even and that isn't a problem for the well positioned folks of our elite (like even Krugman himself), but it can be hard on many folks. The problems aren't not necessarily the fault of trade. Much are the fault of poor governance in USA; mostly due to Republican thinking. Vestiges of being a superpower means the cost of defending the "free world" has fallen on our shoulders. We have the biggest military in the world while many of our workers, who pay some of the taxes, can't afford healthcare.

Also trade agreements have not allowed us to import cheaper drugs from overseas the way we are being flooded with other cheap products from overseas. Where's NAFTA when we need it? Instead, we are expected to take on the entire burden of paying for what the pharmaceutical companies say is their need for revenue to do research. Why can't the newly prosperous rest of the world pay for this, or why can't we buy the drugs that they get for cheap?

Also, why do we still have to pay for such huge corporate CEO salaries while other countries, that are almost as rich as us, don't?

Krugman points out one of the problems we face that's often falsely blamed on trade. Our dollar is too high in value making American things, including the cost of living, high in USA. This makes it harder for our workers to compete on the world market. As Krugman said, in this article, "our trade deficits are mainly a result of factors other than trade policy, like a strong dollar buoyed by global capital looking for a safe haven."

Our workers are priced out of the market, but still struggling with the high price of maintaining USA as a superpower. People are getting weary. Better governance could improve this situation.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Carl's Jr headquarters being pushed out of expensive California

I think a conservative person wrote this article about businesses being driven out of areas by high taxes implying higher taxes are bad.

I have a somewhat different take, of course. In spite of California's high taxes, business is booming in many parts of California; especially in places like the San Francisco Bay Area. That prosperity is driving up the cost of living; for instance rents and property values. Also taxes, of course. Teachers have to be paid more so they can afford to live in those areas. Teachers, who work for the government, get their salaries from taxes so the taxes go up. Taxes go up along with the cost of living and the cost of doing business. Some businesses do get pushed out to other parts of the country that are more depressed. Those other parts tend to have lower taxes, but maybe it doesn't cost as much to live in those areas if you are, for instance, a teacher. Salaries for teachers and the taxes those salaries create can be lower.

I guess we can't have it all. We can't cram everything, including all the businesses and people, into California.

Conservatives also complain about high corporate taxes in USA as this article mentioned a company moving to Canada for lower corporate taxes. Yes, our "liberal" neighbor to the north has lower corporate taxes, but again, we can't have it all. Canada makes up for that revenue loss with higher taxes on wealthy individuals.

I've often thought we could lower our corporate tax rates so businesses would be encouraged to invest back in America, but, not being able to have it all, we would make up the revenue loss by taxing our wealthy individuals more.

Many rich executives talk about the need for business to have a tax environment that's reasonable rather than punitive, but they use that legitimate need to go cart-blanch on justifying all forms of getting wealthy, including unscrupulous forms of obtaining and keeping wealth.

Friday, March 04, 2016

What's really behind the partition

Mildly erotic commentary.

One night I dreamed that there was a brand new 24 story building in downtown Bellingham. The top floor was a sky lounge to be rented out for various business meetings. It wasn't used very much as the business world was in recession.

Down the street was a funky old space where folks would dance. The whole room full of hippies dancing in among one another free form. Many ages and styles all boogieing to the music.

The manager of the tall building came to the funky dance and liked what he saw. He invited the dancers to come up to his sky lounge as there was seldom anyone using it. The dancers could use the space for free so it would look like the almost empty 24 story building had life and vitality.

The dancers agreed and started having their dances in the sky lounge with a view out over Bellingham Bay.

After a few weeks on the night that the dance was supposed to happen, the plans had to be changed. A business meeting had been scheduled for the sky lounge. Short notice, but some client actually came with a checkbook. The manager told the dancers that they could still dance, but only half the space was available. The other half would be for the business meeting. There's a retractable partition that went across to divide the sky lounge into two spaces. The dance can flourish on one side and the "big bucks suit and tie" business meeting can use the other half. Just turn down the music a bit and everyone can coexist.

So the dance got started, but one of the dancers accidentally leaned against the button controlling the partition. The wall rolled open revealing what the business meeting actually was. It was a pay to view gay porn strip show. Folks would pay big money to watch some of the cutest young guys strip naked and dance on a stage.

When the wall came open, some of the dancers danced off the stage and mingled among the free form dance party. Soon the audience for the strip show was surrounded by dancers on all sides. Some of the dancers clothed, some nude, some just titillatingly shirtless. All of them boogieing to the wonderful music. Audience members started loosening up their suits and ties while some even stripped all the way. Everyone joined in the dance.

After that, they decided to merge the two events and have a clothing optional, everyone in their own style, inclusive, age diversified, erotic, eclectic, healthy dance party.

Version one of this piece.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Election 2016

Donald Trump may be the best of the Republican presidential candidates, but that's not saying much. At least he's more unpredictable while the others are predictably bad.

John Kasich is considered somewhat moderate and possibly the most compassionate of the Republicans, but he's pretty far back in the polls. He's considered compassionate because as governor of Ohio, he didn't block Medicaid expansion. Several other states did.

The so called Republican establishment is quite alarmed by the rise of Donald Trump. He's a wild card, loose cannon candidate. Interesting to watch from my perspective as I lean toward the Democrats.

Maybe not as flashy, but the Democrats have their primary battles also. Between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I haven't weighed in too heavily on that as I see good in both candidates. Maybe I am a closeted Clinton supporter, but a lot of my friends are for Bernie. Don't tell anyone, ha ha. I'll vote for whoever gets the Democratic nomination; presumably.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Old political parties breaking apart could be a more effective road to more parties than trying to start new parties

Maybe the path to an end of the two party monopoly in America will be the breakup of the existing political parties. For years, there have been unsuccessful attempts to start third parties in USA, but there's so much inertia in the present system that third parties don't gain traction and in presidential politics they become the spoiler. A more effective path to more parties could be the breakup of a major political party. If one party were to split, then the other party would likely split also. Today, people are afraid to break up a party for fear that the other party would remain strong and just take over. If one party breaks, that makes it easier to break the other party.

The rise of Donald Trump is certainly stressing the Republican Party establishment. Trump's rise is definitely disruptive, tho not really along the fracture lines within the Republican Party.

Bernie Sanders isn't getting as far as Trump, but his candidacy is disrupting to the establishment of the Democratic Party. This disruption does fall along some fracture lines within the Democratic Party; the fracture between the more far left "super critical of corporate America" and the Hillary Clinton style of "incremental change while working within the system." If Bernie doesn't get the nomination, I'm pretty sure he has promised not to go third party, tho. My guess is, he would reluctantly support Clinton and then, after she's safely in office, become an advocate for curbing corporate power. A split in the party could happen after the election.

In the Republican party, I see that there are serious splits, but Trump's candidacy doesn't necessarily fall along these split lines. Trump is basically just an unusual candidate so he's disruptive to the old party guard. The party is stressed at least. In the future, I see that the Republican Party could split into 3 value systems. One would be Libertarian thinking meaning "less government, less military, more personal freedom." The second would be the "religious right turn back the clock on morality crowd." The third group would be "big military, Homeland Security, corporate oligarchy, business as usual" side of the Republican Party.

Maybe third parties will happen not from new parties, but from the eventual splitting of our current parties.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why can't they just have the hearings, they can vote no anyway. What's this strategy about?

I'm somewhat perplexed as to why the Republican senators want to refuse to hold hearings if Obama nominates a new candidate for Supreme Court justice. Wouldn't they look better if they just held the hearings and voted no? If they hold the hearings and vote no, the nominee can't proceed any farther. They can still look like they are functioning; holding hearings, asking questions and then vote no. By not even holding the hearings, it just delays things. I wonder what their strategy is? They certainly look obstructionist. Also, Obama hasn't even nominated anyone yet. It seems like they are doing some kind of posturing, but I can't figure out what even they would gain, politically, from that.

An answer I got when I posted this on Facebook.

I heard two social science researchers from the UW describe the way focus groups and playing to ones base is used in framing public policy. It is not logical to us but that is not their intent. It appeals to major funding sources and the angry energy that mobilizes some activists. Progressives use some of this too now. It feeds cynicism. I wish we could work with the common sense you describe.


Monday, February 22, 2016

I would add, we may need "helicopter money" to fund infrastructure

Good interview from another economist, Mohamed El-Erian, joining the chorus of economists saying we need to spend more on things like infrastructure. He makes a good case for this spending.

I agree, but the problem is the government is already committed to spending huge sums of money on entitlements and the military. The tiny slice of the pie that's spent on things like infrastructure, research and education has to be increased in spite of the huge slices spent on these other things. That's difficult to wedge into tight budgets unless we find more revenue from taxes; most likely. Congress; especially this Republican Congress, drops the ball.

We could tax wealthy people more as I guess there is lots of money sitting on the sidelines.

Here's a far out idea that I didn't hear on this interview, but I have heard from other sources. Central banks, in nations around the world, have been printing money to stimulate their economies. They use the vehicle of low interest rates. This hasn't worked as well as one might think. Seems like much of the money just pools up on the sidelines as the business, that can borrow for cheap, still remain cautious about investing in bold projects.

One exception, of course, is someone like Elon Musk and his futuristic investment in Space X. Space X is an example of moving forward and creating interesting jobs. Most business is just kind of waiting or doing "business as usual, however." Space exploration is a new frontier which provides growth for the future economy. Also inspiration for learning among future generations. This is an example of focus, rather than just business as usual. Like so many economists, including in this interview, say, we need another Sputnik Moment. We need some new initiatives to prime the economic pump. Converting to cleaner energy, even just repair of crumbing infrastructure. The list of exciting needs is long and the work could be fulfilling for current and future generations. Business and government needs more initiative, I guess.

Seems like much of the money coming from just the present stimulus policy of low interest rates is feeding (I think) things like housing bubbles. Low interest rates means more money to spend buying a house and thus driving up existing house values; especially in areas where there's restriction on building new housing.

Why not use printed money to more directly fund infrastructure? That's kind of a radical idea of printing money to fund the government directly. Sometimes called "helicopter money;" an idea floated years ago about stimulating the economy by just giving some free money to people for spending in the economy. Well, maybe this idea can be revisited, but instead of helicopter money, using it carefully to create the added infrastructure spending that so many economists say we need.

Friday, February 19, 2016

If Trump gets elected, a wall might be built, but Canada will build it

If Donald Trump gets elected, the wall might be built, but it will be the Canadians building that wall. Lots of Americans say, "if Trump or Cruz becomes president we will move to Canada." Well, Canada could be easily overwhelmed by immigrants. Immigrants from USA. They might want to build a wall, or at least more strictly enforce immigration laws. They are pretty strict about enforcing immigration laws now.

It's actually not easy to immigrate to Canada. Kind of like officially immigrating to USA; the number of legal slots is limited.

With 320 million Americans and only around 50 million Canadians, I can see them looking at the numbers and saying, "can we absorb the flood?"

Someone from Canada responded to one of my comments saying Canadians might welcome refugees from USA under Trump, but look askance at refugees from a USA under Bernie Sanders. Those refugees would be right wingers.

Folks will say, don't worry, Canada has lots of room. It has the second biggest land area in the world, but much of it's space is in the harsh north. Also, northern Canada is land of the Inuit peoples who's lifestyles require lots of space. These native folks often rely on hunting and fishing so they don't want to be hemmed in by a bunch of fleeing Americans. Remember, the Inuit, Native American and Eskimo people were here first.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Evolving streetlight technology. Bellingham goes LED

One sodium light still shining at corner of Forest and Holly. Lights being converted from "yellow sodium" to "white LED" in Bellingham.

Bellingham is replacing most of it's streetlights with light emitting diode lights. Out go the older yellow sodium vapor, in come the white LED. Uses less energy. Some folks might miss the warm yellow glow, but the white seems good enough for me. The white is high tech. They say each light can be controlled from city hall via radio signal. Brightness can be adjusted and I assume that a status report on each light can be pulled up on a master map (I'd guess) on computer screens in city hall. That's whizzbang.

I remember growing up in Pullman, WA. and watching the streetlights come on. They were mercury vapor which gives a metallic blue light. Sodium vapor, with it's soft yellow glow, was something I read about in other cities. It existed back then, but not where I grew up. Way back then, we even still had a few incandescent street lights. Mostly on back streets, like the dead end street our house was on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Supreme Court nomination is unlikely to happen this term, but Obama has the right to choose a nominee

Obviously President Obama has the right to appoint a new Supreme Court nominee, but realistically this Senate is extremely unlikely to confirm any of his appointees. He has the right, but I'm not holding my breath that the process will be completed this term.

Hopefully, in my opinion, there will be a Democrat in the White House after 2016 election and maybe a friendlier mix in Congress. The process of things like filling Supreme Court positions has ground to a halt.

If the people, who show up to the polls in 2016, vote Republican, Rowe v Wade and gay marriage will likely be overturned. Hope liberal minded people show up, or vote absentee (as in Washington State) and vote for the Democrats. The ball gets bounced back and forth between Obama and the Senate, but really, the ball lands in the court of the American people. Remember to register and vote.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Story Corps interview after disruption of Bernie Sanders 2015 presentation in Seattle

The woman associated with Black Lives Matter who disrupted Bernie Sander's presentation in Seattle in summer of 2015 tells her story on NPR Story Corps. She described what it felt like jumping onto that stage, having the audience boo and so forth. Through her eyes, a personal experience.

Sometimes, tho, I "personally" think we humans can be our own worse enemies. Are we shouting down our own side or is even Bernie Sanders out of touch?

I know that the right wing also has it's factions and squabbles so that reduces my worry when I see the left squabbling. The right isn't necessarily a unified front either. Who's ever side it is, anger can be a destroying force; as in circular firing squad.

Interesting to hear her story on Story Corps anyway.

Too much anger just for the sake of anger

Turn off the computer, Oregon sheriff begs. Stop tearing each other apart

Yes, I agree. I think there's too much anger just for the sake of anger. Not just in USA, but the world over.

In the wake of the 2016 standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a good article, but I don't think we necessarily need to back away from Facebook. Yes, we do use social media to reinforce and echo our own sides in the culture wars, but people do that anyway, with regular media and even face to face meetings. We just need to learn how to be more civil with whatever we are using. Anger can easily go awry.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The first chirps of gravitational astronomy and more to come

Very good article, in New York Times, explaining the detection of gravitational waves, the history of the research and how it works.

From article is this intriguing phrase: The black holes that LIGO observed created a storm “in which the flow of time speeded, then slowed, then speeded,” he said. “A storm with space bending this way, then that.”

(My writing again) By the time the "waves" got to Earth and our detectors, the oscillations in the "speed of time" and the bending in the "fabric of space" was less then the width of a proton, but still evident in the super sensitive LIGO detectors. Concepts like time slowing down and speeding up are mind boggling.

Now we know gravitational waves do exist and we also know that we can detect them. The detector, that scientists have been perfecting for years, does work.

I remember talking about the far fetched dream of gravitational astronomy when I took astronomy classes way back in the 1970s. They said, "maybe someday we will be able to look at the universe via gravity waves."