Thursday, January 14, 2021

Telecom carrier of publisher? Decide for each message, depending on how big an audience that message reaches.

You can yell fire in the virtual theater, but due to information overload, hardly anyone would know. Hardly anyone; except for the algorithms. The algorithms could flag it.

I heard a very good suggestion from a professor who was interviewed on NPR. About how to treat messages on social media platforms. What's the responsibility of the company that owns the platform, like Facebook?

According to this professor, messages that reach large audiences need to be treated like the platforms are publishers. They need the same accountability, fact checking and editing standards that apply to traditional mainstream media.

On the other hand, messages that don't reach huge audiences should only be subjected to a lower standard of editing responsibility; such as if the platform were considered a telecom carrier.

I think, algorithms can easily tell how many people are reached by a message.

Examples of messages that reach larger audiences would be memes that go viral. Other examples would be messages from the rich and famous, such as the President of the United States. Another example could be messages that are pushed forward by money, such as claims made in political, or other advertising.

I thought her idea was good, but I should look up the reference. Just something I heard on the radio, but didn't have a note pad with me.

Deregulating recreational marijuana created a new industry

Some conservatives complain about too much government regulation that interferes with business. Okay, here in Washington State, we recently legalized recreational marijuana and created a brand new multimillion dollar industry.

Looks like South Dakota, a conservative state, got the message last election. They voted that way. A good idea, though I am someone who doesn't use pot that much.

There could be too much coddling of people's grievances in our society

I sometimes think, in our society, there is too much coddling of grievances. Grievances both on the right and on the left. No one has a magic wand to come up with a perfect solution to all the problems and even all the cases where society isn't totally fair. If we continue down the road of hatred to one another, we all loose.

Suggestion for simplifying vaccination process

As for the rollout of the vaccine, following the priority list might be creating complexity. There may need to be some simplification of criteria.

In determining if someone has health conditions, besides just age, that might put them at risk, how about using the concept of a doctor's prescription?

If priority has to be determined on the honor system, that could be a problem.

If the vaccination clinic has to figure out who qualifies, that's extra paperwork slowing the process. Maybe it should just be based on a doctor's prescription. Simple piece of paper. Let the doctors decide if they wish to write that prescription for each patient.

Just another thought In my brainstorming mind. Maybe they are already thinking of this.

I sent this suggestion to my state legislators.

Another thought I had is this.

It will be a while till my cohort of people is eligible. No need to call up and bother healthcare people or even accidentally crash websites as part of a fad looking for information. When they are ready for my cohort, it will be all over radio, TV, and the newspapers.

Dogma remains rigid while science changes

I say that there needs to be open mindedness in religion. Not following only one dictatorial interpretation. Some folks would say, "what about science itself?" "Isn't science dictatorial?"

Scientific understanding is always changing. It isn't cast in stone. That's what I would say. Our understanding of what we think is the truth is subject to revision. In science, they often say, based on the best evidence we are aware of to date.

It's also true that not all scientists agree on things. Debate and civil discussion is par for the course.
Experimenting with my camera by the living room lamp when I was in 7th grade. Back in the days of film cameras.

I sometimes say if the people who invented the incandescent lightbulb were like religious fundamentalists, they might have decided that a bamboo filament was God's intended solution for all time. We could still be using bamboo filaments that burnout in a short period of time. Luckily, inventors, such as Thomas Edison, changed course many times. For many decades, lightbulbs settled on tungsten for the filament.

Now we are moving on again as most of the lightbulbs, in my place are LED. The filament solution is history.

If Republican party were to split, it could take pressure off the Democrats so they could split also.

I'd like to see the Republican Party split. Have the Trump, "populous" folks create their own party while the old style Republicans form another party.

Then the problem of moderates being "primaried" would vanish. The Republican power base would be weakened (it's probably already weakened) so the Democrats could relax a bit.

Being more relaxed, maybe the Democrats could solve their own internal strife, between moderate and far left, by splitting into two parties as well. We would then have 4 parties.

In the past, I haven't been an advocate of third party presidential runs; like from Green Party Jill Stein (2016), or Ralph Nader (2000), but if the "winner take all" power blocks of the current two party system are not there anymore, a multi party system becomes more viable.

Bernie Sanders was smarter than Ralph Nader as he didn't run as a third party candidate taking votes away from the Democrats. When he lost the Democratic primary, in 2016, he supported Hillary Clinton and in 2020, he supported Joe Biden.

Especially for Congress, we could use more parties that are viable.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Things that might be better than Universal Basic Income, but similar ideas

A Universal Basic Income could endanger vital public services in favor of a meager income. Money for just the UBI would likely not be enough to cover safety net needs such as housing and healthcare. Support for those things could be taken away to make way for the UBI in a limited government budget.

With so many of the jobs paying less and less, as time goes on, compared to other sources of income, such as real estate, investments and retirement, the concept of a UBI is appealing. Problem is, it may not be the best way to provide for people's needs.

Housing assistance, universal healthcare, affordable college and good transportation might be better ways to supplement low wages than just writing everyone a check.

Seems like wages, from work, are declining as a percent of the total economy; influences of things like automation, globalization and wealth discrepancy.

One ought to be able to hold a job that is still needed in society, daycare work; for instance and live adequately. Maybe even raise a family; if so desired.

UBI would be one path to this, but probably not the best path. A strong social safety net might work better, in my opinion.

Instead of the UBI, maybe have guaranteed jobs programs. There should be enough work for everyone that needs a job. There are still plenty of things that need to be done. Environmental cleanup, infrastructure, tutoring, teaching English as a second language, daycare, helping the elderly; whatever.

The private market doesn't always prioritize these needs on its own so government can guarantee a job.

In some cases, the job can be done for a private company; like a sub contractor; rather than government bureaucracy, but funding might still have to come from the government if the private marketplace doesn't provide that.

Health insurance could be provided, if we continue to have health insurance provided by jobs; rather than just from citizenship.

For folks that have partial disabilities; including mental problems, the jobs could compassionately work with the person to try and ease them along. The idea of a sheltered workshop.

People with severe disabilities could still live on just public assistance without a job.

For some people, their "disability" is mostly just that they don't have a good enough resume to compete in the competitive job market; especially when the job market is tight. Folks should be guaranteed a job, rather than falling farther and farther out of the system. Folks out of work end up with deteriorating resumes, as time goes on, due to lack of current experience. Often they have deteriorating attitudes and health as well.

A jobs program is a good idea, especially if the private market is not able to hire all the people that need to work or provide the services and infrastructure that society needs.

My thoughts related to this article. The danger of good intentions.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Unintended consequences. Seattle's anti police Chop Zone helped Republicans while Wednesday's right wing rebellion at the US Capitol helped Democrats.

Some people, on the right on talk shows and so forth, have kept asking why folks weren't that upset about the violence last summer in Portland, Oregon.

People were upset about that. I would even speculate that those situations, like the Chop Zone in Seattle, could have led to the vote adding more Republicans to the US House of Representatives in the same 2020 election that Joe Biden won.

By far, from what I understand, most of the protesters were peaceful, but there was the violence.

Wednesday's right wing violence at the US Capitol will have the opposite effect. Republicans now more boldly denouncing Trump. Many Senators, who were questioning the election results, dropping plans to continue pushing that objection.

A lot of public officials, including some Trump administration staff, seriously discussing use of the 25th amendment to remove the president from power due to inability to govern, mental illness being discussed.

Looks like Trump's been really going off the rails in recent days and this could have contributed to Democratic Senators winning in the Georgia runoff elections. The margins were slim so something like this could have tipped the scale.

Personally, I'm happy that the Democrats will now be able to remove McConnell as Senate majority leader, but I, admittedly, do lean toward the Democrats.

McConnell's recent speech on the Senate floor, after the capitol was able to resume proceedings on Wednesday, was pretty good, however.

Wednesday was a very bazar day.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Facebook's larger type for shorter comments highlights sound byte versus more nuanced thought.

Some thoughts of mine on the responsibility of social media platforms; like Facebook.

I notice that short postings on Facebook appear in larger type. After more words are added, the type size shrinks. If I were the boss, so to speak, at Facebook. I would remove that feature. I would make the type size the same for short comments; like one liners, as for longer comments.

This would reduce the focus on sound bytes.

Personally, I tend to post medium sized comments on Facebook. I like fairly nuanced thought more than quick slogans. At the same time, I'm not much of a book reader. A 300 page book isn't that accessible to the reader. Even I don't seem to have the time, or maybe the attention span for books. Books are valuable, but I'll admit I have not read many.

I do follow a lot of NPR type hour or half hour interviews. I read articles in publications ranging from our local Bellingham Herald to Scientific American. I find the Scientific American articles that come up online to be fairly accessible.

Back when I was a kid, my dad got Scientific American and the house had (maybe still has) a huge collection of Scientific American back issues at the foot of the stairs to my bedroom. Back then, it was so full of grey type that I hardly paid any attention to it and just passed it by on the way to my bedroom.

I hear that President Trump has now been banned from posting on Facebook. Maybe that's a good idea. I don't have a strong opinion about that, though I never was a Trump fan. I've often thought that famous people don't really need social media. They have access to the regular "big time" media any time they want. Social media seems more important as an outlet for us little people.

I remember this segment of a talk show, I heard, back in the 1990's I think it was talk show host Jim Hightower. When the World Wide Web was new, someone called up and suggested Hightower get a web page. Hightower answered, "A web what?" The caller tried to explain.

"Anyone can do it." "People can see it worldwide."

Hightower interrupted and started ranting, "why the hell would I need a website." "My voice is heard on a hundred radio stations from cost to coast and even around the world." "I have millions of listeners." "Many of my stations have 50,000 watt transmitters."

He went on and on, like a thundering Wizard of Oz and eventually moved on to the next caller.

How police handled pro Trump mob at capitol versus black lives matter protests. My thoughts from living in Bellingham, WA.

I don't know what to think about police behavior, or lack thereof, in various cities I have no experience with.

Here in Bellingham, there were quite a few pro Black Lives Matter protests, last summer, that were peaceful and the police had a soft presence, if any presence at all. At least from what I gather.

Holly Street was blocked a few times which didn't seem to bother the police and neither did it bother me. I don't drive. Pedestrians were able to wonder around on Holly Street.

I think actions can bring on reactions. Heavy policing and violent protests; like a vicious cycle. Protests on the right versus protests on the left.

I prefer civil and thoughtful discussion that can, hopefully lead to our society's evolution.

There was some vandalism, in Bellingham, aside from the actual protests. Some individuals that broke windows at other times. After one protest was winding down, some people graffitied City Hall.

Seems like most liberal activists distanced themselves from those things. Spoke out critical of those actions on local media. I didn't participate in the BLM marches, in Bellingham, though I have friends who did.

There were folks who thought mass gatherings, during this pandemic, would be a bad idea. Turns out spread of the virus wasn't as bad as first feared with gatherings being outdoors and masks worn, for the most part.

I still wasn't a big fan of those protests thinking, myself, "if we are giving up the fun things, like the gay parade that also help culture evolve, why gather for the more angry, serious stuff?"

Culture also evolves by the way we lead our lives and the things that we consume.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Janet Yellen's 7 million dollar income from speaking fees over the past 2 years. Maybe, instead, put amateurs in charge?

This just seems inevitable, whether it's Biden, Trump or practically any other politician of national stature. Picks for high level staff will come from professional elites. They have histories of things like lucrative speaking contracts.

It's either that, or politicians would need to pick their staff from the ranks of amateurs. Putting amateurs in charge has consequences as well.

Professionals often do know more about what they are doing; at least. The issue of competency.

I realize that competency of leaders; especially corporate executives is often in question.

I'm a sync about corporate executives for sure, but I think amateurs, as a general rule, might do even worse. Put amateurs, or even crackpots, in charge of the Center for Disease Control; for instance.

Yes, it is being revealed that Biden's pick for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has collected more than $7 million in speaking fees over the past two years. This from major corporations and Wall Street banks.

Par for the course.

I'm still in favor of competent leadership. Even Bernie Sanders is now part of the 1%, so I have read.

This just seems inevitable. It's not a deal breaker, but I am a critic of the high compensation that so many professionals and recognized leaders, in our society, get.

I still remember thinking that famous gay rights activist, David Kopay, was getting a lot of money for speaking at a symposium at Western Washington University, back in 1978 just because he was a former football star. The standard speaking fee for speaking at symposiums, on campus back then, was closer to $50 plus travel and hotel expenses.

These days, however, $1,000 might be seen as peanuts.

If you are a professional, be careful of your compensation. It might come back to haunt you as everything, these days, comes into scrutiny.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The government has to print money to keep going after tax cuts

Though I don't agree, it's interesting to hear Senator Rand Paul criticize other Republicans (and Democrats) for passing the corona virus relief bill. He's one of 6 Republicans who voted against it.

He's definitely worried about the rising federal debt. He says we are just printing money and giving it away.

He criticizes something called Modern Monetary Theory which downplays concern about the debt; under certain circumstances at least. If inflation doesn't appear to be rampant, Modern Monetary Theory downplays worry about creating new money to cover the debt.

Rand Paul mentions former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney as one who pushed deficit spending, wasting billions on a useless war in Afghanistan.

Interesting to see Republicans quarrel among themselves.

About the virus, he believes we should just allow business to open up again. Allow indoor dining, bars and so forth. Don't spend money to allow people to wait out the virus.

I got to thinking that we would have to accept a higher death rate under his type of libertarian (small government) thinking. We now face the problem of hospitals being overwhelmed, but we may have to accept more death without going to the hospital first. A harsher reality; like on the American frontier of 150 years ago. Harsher than people are used to today.

Most people would, probably, still survive a higher death rate from the virus, so some folks ask, "what's the problem?" I think much of libertarian thinking has roots in the America of years past; in many ways a harsher time.

As for printing money over the past decades, we could have had higher taxes. There are a lot of wealthy people, including even a big number of upper middle class.

Raising taxes might have slowed down some of our greedy and wasteful expectations, but it could have brought revenue more in line with government spending. It would have been more "pay as you go."

We didn't do that. Instead we have expanded the money supply greatly. I think there is no shortage of money, however.

More money has lead to inflation, but future generations can just move the decimal point over a notch. The idea that we have "stolen" from future generations doesn't seem quite accurate.

Future generations just move the decimal point over and go on with their lives. Houses that sold for $50,000, when I was in college, are now well over $500,000. For the most part, we survive and life continues.

Problem is that not all things inflate at the same rate. Some prices and wages are still closer to what they were in my college days making it harder for people and businesses, in those sectors of the economy, to keep up with the rest of the economy.

Inflation has been a reality in certain sectors, but not across all parts of the economy, so it's tempting for folks advocating Modern Monetary Theory to say that inflation isn't a problem.

Advancing technology has created so much nearly free wealth that it's tamped down inflation in many sectors, but it also threatens to inundate the planet. For instance inundated in plastic.

Money is basically just an accounting tool that we tend to take too seriously.

The quality of life, which may be harder to objectively measure, is really the bottom line in my opinion.

Thinking about libertarian versus traditional republican thinking can provide useful insight into how society has gotten into the predicament it is in. Both share the dream of very limited government, but republicanism is more of an impure mix. Libertarian ideals are at it's base, but political expediency morphs it into not making the harsher choices that purely libertarian folks would make. Not having government funded Medicare, for instance. Sharp reductions in spending for military and veteran's benefits, for instance. Less government even means a form of defunding the police.

We have become accustom to a certain level of comfort and safety so cramping down dramatically on government spending is a political non starter. At the same time tax cuts remain popular; thus the rising national debt.

Republicans push a form of hybridized libertarian philosophy.

Another element of republicanism that is less evident in pure libertarianism is religious values. Pure libertarians are more likely to be pro abortion as one means of reducing the costs; especially reducing the number of less productive people in society with birth defects and so forth. Survival of the fittest.

I believe that there needs to be a healthy balance between government and free enterprise. Yes, government can go too far. There can be government overreach. A balance seems most healthy.

Different people set that balance point in different places. I tend to avoid the extremes.

Extremes are a problem while another problem is hypocrisy; especially in mainstream republican thinking. Cutting taxes is popular, but, for obvious reasons, republicans can't really cut spending. They can talk about it, but just about anyone trying to slash spending runs into the fact that we have become accustom to a fairly high level of government services in our modern society.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Should one wear a mask while bicycling?

It does look kind of funny seeing someone wearing a mask outdoors far away from anyone else. Sometimes it's just easier to keep it on, rather than taking in on and off all the time; especially when riding a bicycle.

Sometimes, wearing a mask is just to not rock the boat around other other people who shutter at the sight of a mask less person passing them. I almost always wear mine when in crowded areas outdoors and, of course, for indoor public spaces.

When I bike pass people on trails, I sometimes hold my breath; especially if I don't have my mask on. That might work as well as the mask, if not better, in short passing. I wouldn't know. One seldom hears anyone talk about briefly holding one's breath. I would think this can work walking past people as well.

I usually don't wear my mask while biking on roads. Especially on long rides, or going up hills, the mask can get wet and become (I think) less effective. It also slows down breathing, but I could live with that, if I had to, by just riding slower. I don't ride real fast anyway.

It's hard to keep taking it off and putting it back on. I bike back and forth from streets, where everyone is in cars, to trails. For this reason, I often just leave it on. I usually leave it on downtown.

Some people have the mask around their chins and pull them up when passing a person outside. I find that my mask falls off if I just keep it around the chin. Might have something to do with my bike helmet straps. I usually have it in my pocket. Not as handy to pull up though.

One vaccine safety worry that I haven't heard discussed.

Here's one worry I haven't heard anyone express about the vaccines. Since some of them have to be kept real cold in shipment, what happens if a few doses get inadvertently too warm in the distribution pipeline? Would this mean a dose that is not effective? My main worry would be that it would create a false sense of security. Someone thinking they have been vaccinated, while still being vulnerable.

Who should take credit for Operation Warp Speed?

Some people would say that at least Trump authorized Operation Warp Speed which led to the amazingly quick development of vaccines.

Yes, he did lift the pen and sign some documents, though the real heavy lifting was from many people, including great scientists.

Something he didn't do could have led to success as well. He, and Republicans in Congress, could have been such deficit hawks as to refuse government funding for research. 3 trillion dollars was made available, last spring, for relief efforts; including the research.

It made my head spin that even "the Grinch that stole Christmas," Mitch McConnel signed onto that original relief bill. Some folks might say that government has no role in helping us. Let the private sector do this.

From what I understand, the first vaccine, produced by Pfizer, was more privately funded; rather than from the Operation Warp Speed research grants. Still, according to an NPR show I heard, Pfizer benefited from the community of research that's happening. Having a proven vaccine, the government is now buying doses, from Pfizer, for public distribution.

Vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies, such as the hopefully soon to become available Moderna Vaccine, came more directly from the Operation Warp Speed efforts. There are even more versions of the vaccine in the pipeline. Big pharma is another controversial thing in society, but it seems to be coming through when we need it.

Both government and private enterprise play valuable roles in our economy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Maybe don't worry about anti vaxxers yet since there isn't enough vaccine to go around, at first, anyway.

Maybe we shouldn't worry, too much, about people who are reluctant to get the vaccine since there isn't enough to go around at first anyway. If some folks don't want to get it, others will move forward in the waiting line.

After enough vaccine has been rolled out to vaccinate everyone, then, maybe, we should worry, if not enough people want the vaccine for us to reach the 70%, or so, herd immunity. By then we may need to do more to coax folks into getting vaccinated, if that becomes a problem. By then, the vaccines will have already had a track record in the hundreds of millions. Reluctance to get it may be marginal.

There is the issue of Social Darwinism, though. Do folks, who are skeptical about the vaccine, deserve to be more at risk? Skepticism is said to be higher in some minority communities.

These are questions to ponder.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

When vaccines protect more vulnerable folks, can people go back to more normal living due to the natural immunity of less vulnerable people, even before we reach herd immunity? Good questions.

Things are looking pretty bad in Sweden now. Hopefully the vaccines can curb this worldwide pandemic.

Remember, Sweden tried a different strategy allowing businesses to remain more open while trying to protect the most vulnerable. The idea seemed to make some sense, but now it's looking worse.

This is a new disease since late 2019. A lot has been learned, even since last summer.

Of course, now, we seem to have learned how to make vaccines, but it's going to take time rolling the vaccines out to the public. A while ago, I had a thought that when (and if) vaccines succeed in protecting more vulnerable people, other folks (younger and more healthy) might be able to go back to more normal business. Maybe even bars opening again.

Sweden was banking on natural immunity that seems to be stronger in younger people. They thought they could protect the more vulnerable while allowing others to go on about more normal living. That hasn't worked as well as originally thought.

They also thought that exposing people naturally to the virus could bring a form of natural herd immunity. I think that strategy proved to be a lot more deadly than waiting till the vaccine brings immunity.

After vaccines protect more vulnerable folks, it's tempting to think that we can go back (to some extent) to business as usual. I think this may happen to a better outcome than what happened in Sweden and other countries, such as USA that attempted to reopen Last summer when things were looking better. This time, maybe the better numbers can last? I'm no epidemiologist, but we might be able to see vast imporvement, even well before herd immunity is achived. I'm reluctant to advocate this, but it's a thought.

It's going to be quite a few months before enough vaccines roll out for us to achieve "herd immunity." Vaccines are the best way to achieve herd immunity, but, at best, that situation is months down the road.

In the meantime, it is tempting to think that before we reach the panacea of herd immunity, we can also count the natural immunity of younger and healthier people. This, plus the vaccine, even before being fully deployed, could bring us to more normalcy. I am reluctant to advocate it, however. I leave that up to the experts.

There are also quite a few young and healthy people who have had serious outcomes and death from the virus. One has to weigh the risks. I keep saying that it's kind of appalling that people still drive cars knowing that around 35 thousand folks die, each year in USA, due to traffic accidents.

How much death and carnage are we willing to accept in the name of business as usual? I'll admit, I'd like to go back to dancing in the bars and events such as Pride Parades and naked bike rides again. Outdoor things are safer than indoor things. Masks are easy for most people to keep using as a fairly easy remedy, compared to something like a lockdown.

Normal life can wait, however. Just how long is a matter of judgement. There's never going back to an old normal. Climate change is still lurking. Telecomuting is more popular. The future keeps unfolding.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Arecibo: A use for intelligent and educated minds.

Article with a video of Arecibo Telescope's collapse.

Hopefully they can rebuild and hopefully basic scientific research can be a priority. It's science that's bringing us the vaccine; at warp speed.

Arecibo has also been a source of employment on the island of Puerto Rico. A use for intelligent and educated minds.

I got to thinking that people often say education is an important priority of society. One sometimes wonders what education is for given our lives and jobs after our school years.

That's something that scientific research provides. Employment for the mind. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit. It can also be a way to lift up people in troubled parts of the world.

I still think, maybe they could restore the dish and not have to replace the old, complex antenna structure that was suspended over the dish. Couldn't they use drone technology to place the secondary antennas? I wonder how that's done at the FAST Telescope in China? That's the world's largest radio dish. Even larger than USA's Arecibo was.

Too bad about China's human rights violations, but it is an upcoming power in science.
On the human rights front, I think improvements can come incrementally. Often when they are pushed too fast, they bring pushback that makes things even worse. Incremental change means pusing for improvements, then resting a bit to consolodate gains and then pushing a bit more. A long term strategy.

What really saved the Republic from Trump

Interesting article in New York Times.

It may be the goodness of people, rather than totally the Constitution itself, that is saving us from the prospect of a ruler remaining in power in spite of the vote. People like independent judges and local officials doing their jobs; a lot of folks, even some Republicans, that protected us.

I'd add (not mentioned in the article itself) that the Constitution includes the Electoral College; an old institution that helped Trump get into power in 2016. That didn't happen in 2020, but once in power, Trump is the kind of leader who is doing whatever he can to stay in power.

It's people and honesty. Possibly it's the spirit of the law, more than always the letter of the law, that protects us.

The vaccine should be a lot easier than "bending the curve." Both will be needed for a while

I'm glad the vaccines are on their way. It looks promising.

Without them, we couldn't control this epidemic. Shutdowns, lockdowns, masks and social distancing have been the main tools we've had, up till now, to prevent spread and save lives.

Given the nature of our culture, those tools haven't been as effective as, maybe, they've been in some other countries. To some extent, they've even been sabotaged, in this country, given the need to pay bills, loneliness and the political climate.

Even testing and isolating outbreaks of the disease hasn't worked that well, in this country at least.

Lives have been saved, but can we function like this indefinitely? Good thing the vaccines are on their way.

To save lives, we will continue to need to function under pandemic guidelines, but it looks like the vaccines will bring a more effective solution in several months.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Partial List of things to look forward to in slowing the pandemic

Vaccines starting with certain professions, vulnerable people and working their way to larger numbers of people.

Continued measures to reduce the spread. Physical distancing, masks.

Continued public health measures such as closing higher risk businesses and activities. These can be phased out over time.

Warmer weather toward spring making it easier to do things outdoors.

The natural immunities of younger and healthier people as more vulnerable people start to get vaccinated. Also, maybe, the immunity of people who have already been exposed and recovered.

Better testing and treatments.

The Joe Biden Presidency. I think that will also be a benefit in coordination of things at the national level.

Monday, November 30, 2020

The bidding war to attract high level professionals that pushes up the cost of college and other things

In a thread about how much the cost of college and certain other things have gone up compared to average wages, I wrote.

Things like automation and globalization has brought down the relative cost for many goods and services. Wages for workers, providing those goods and services, are set by the prices businesses can charge for things. Businesses often, themselves, running on a slim margin.

Meanwhile the cost of assets, such as home values in many regions, goes up pushing up the price for renters and first time homebuyers.

Another problem is the relative rise in costs for some professional services compared to the cost of other things. So many things at Walmart cost less than higher level professional services. This drives up the relative cost of higher level professional services like medical care and education.

One of the problems is a bidding war between institutions who hire higher level professionals. Organizations trying to outbid one another by raising the salaries to keep and attract top level talent. Universities raising their president, top administrator and top professor salaries for fear that these professionals might leave for schools in another state that pay more or leave for the private sector. It's been a bidding war. Like the NFL Draft.

Add to that, the problem of anti tax attitude among voters. The percent that the state pays for higher education went down in recent decades. More of the cost of higher education, in the state supported schools where a lot of the students go, has shifted over to tuition; rather than the state subsidy. A higher percentage comes from tuition than 30 or 40 years ago. A higher percentage of a higher total cost. A double whammy.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

If only 250 thousand have died, it's still possible to not be personally aware of someone who has died. A callus thought, but explains some denial.

I met someone, today, who thinks the numbers for the death and infection rates for corona virus were made up. Seems like people can justify anything with the idea that there's some conspiracy.

She said she hasn't known anyone to have died. I haven't either, to be honest. Not that I know of, at least. Out of 325 million Americans, 250 thousand isn't really that many. There's still 325 million left. If counting in the millions, it doesn't move the needle.

Seems like the underlying debate is over the value of trying to save lives, versus opening the economy. There is also debate over what the best strategy is for saving the lives, but seems like lives can be disposable in a machine called the economy.

Over 100 years ago, that attitude would more likely be the case, but back then there was less we could do to save the lives.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

At Arecibo, could drones replace the suspended platform if the bowel is salvageable? Just an idea.

NASA image from Twitter

National Science Foundation is decommissioning the giant radio telescope Arecibo in Puerto Rico. Two supporting cables has broken and the suspended platform is likely to crash. They say it's too dangerous to try and fix. Plans are to try and dismantle it safely.

I got to thinking; could drones revitalize the telescope? After the platform is dismantled, could they repair the dish below? Instead of a suspended platform, could drones be used to hover receivers over the dish?

This telescope has played an important role in Puerto Rico's economy. During this interview on NPR Science Friday, one person said it was an inspiration, beyond just medicine, for students to study science. Medicine isn't a field every aspiring scientist on the island would necessarily want to go into; especially if one is afraid of blood, according to the interview.

For astronomy, the telescope has been the largest radio astronomy dish in the world until recently being topped by a bigger one in China. While no longer tops, it was still quite useful. Especially useful as a powerful radar for tracking asteroids and doing solar system research. It was being used for some other projects, as well; including accurate measurements of pulsars as one way to see evidence of gravity waves across the universe.

I remember following news in 1998 when SOHO, sun observing satellite lost communication with earth. They used radar from Arecibo to find that satellite again and then restart communications. The satellite was rehabilitated and is still in service today. If it hadn't been for Arecibo, SOHO would have probably only lasted from it's launch in 1995 till 1998. It's still working today as one of several satellites observing the sun from space. More bang for the buck.

Friday, November 20, 2020

My take on reconciling the debate between far progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party.

A moderate, like Joe Biden, was the most likely electable nationwide.

Various urban areas, like where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was reelected from, are different when one isn't including the more conservative rural parts of the country.

I think urban areas need more autonomy from state governments to continue pushing the boundaries of things like municipal income taxes, funding for transit, restrictions on fossil fuel use and so forth. We need less "one size fits all" solutions.

Moderates are more electable at the national, and possibly the state, levels. Moderates can create a framework that is more friendly to low carbon footprint planning than conservative extremists like Trump. We need to settle for the Biden's, at the national level at least. Then push farther at local and personal lifestyle levels.

If we want to push farther, people have to do more in their personal lifestyles to walk the talk. We can't impose things like carbon taxes and then complain about higher gas prices.