Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Protest crowds could be spreading the virus. Killing the most vulnerable. Are people wearing masks and practicing safe distancing?

With all the protests that are happening now, I worry about the virus spreading due to the gatherings. A lot of lives could be lost because of this; ironically loosing the ability to breath due to a respiratory virus.

Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor, but are people maintaining safe distancing, wearing masks and so forth?

As for anger behind the protests, it does bring up the issue of income inequality. Many sociologists seem to say that income inequality is one of the main risk factors for social instability not to mention deaths from the virus.

I'm normally not a fan of anger and I do think other tools can be used to address these problems, but the problems are real and need to be addressed.

Anger does tend to hurt the people close by as the people with more power are usually better insulated and protected from the outbreak of that anger. Protected by geography, what neighborhood one lives in. Protected by elaborate security measures.

Monday, June 01, 2020

On the scale of altruism to self interest. Motivation for things like wearing masks to bicycling to the naked bike ride

On NPR Science Friday, I heard some news about a new kind of mask, being tested, which could reduce people's chances of catching the virus. One has a chemical treatment in the cloth. the other has an electric field. Things just being tested in the lab.

Before this, I heard that the cloth masks, we have now, can reduce the chance of catching the virus to some extent. People have been saying that the mask is mostly to prevent you from passing the virus to others, but there is some evidence that it might help the wearer of the mask to a small extent. I heard that through the grapevine at least, but need to look it up I guess.

I got to thinking that this would be good news as we humans are often more motivated by self interest than altruism. If the mask protects the wearer, it becomes a more popular practice.

Yes there are some great examples of altruism, but self interest is also a powerful motivator. If the two can converge, that's a good thing.

Seems to me that a combination of altruism and self interest should be a motivator for bicycling. There are the environmental benefits and there are also the health benefits.

One needs altruism to be motivated by environmental benefits as one person's actions are only a tiny drop in the large bucket. There's no feedback loop of reward. One person riding a bike is not going to save the planet until millions more do the same thing. No feedback of reward from just one person's actions.

On the other hand, with self interest, there is a feedback loop that one individual can control. The health benefits of bicycling.

Personally, much of the motivation behind my general lifestyle is self interest rather than altruism. I would like to think I was altruistic, but my self interest is pretty strong. For instance my own anxiety situation means I have a self interest in avoiding stressful situations. That has kept me from driving at highway speeds in traffic. Its kept me out of the big time corporate materialistic lifestyle. I've avoided climbing the corporate ladder partially to avoid the stress along the way. There can be other joys in life besides that.

I'm less into speed than most people. That's, in part, from self interest. Pleasure is a motivator. Slow down and enjoy the scenery. I think about those kind of motivations related to the naked bike ride as well. Why nudity? What does that have to do with the environment? There is the pleasure. Pleasure could be used as an advertisement for fitness. I try and connect lots of dots.

Over the weekend, there was a Love Temple erotic thing I tried out online. Related to the Radical Faeries. I wasn't totally nude on the webcam, but partially. As folks were dancing, I was also dancing, or at least moving around doing exercises like sit ups and so forth. It added some color, so to speak, to the experience of what they used to call calisthenics. Full body workout. That used to be thought of, in PE class, as a dreaded chore; not a joy. Why not find a way to make it a joy?

I would guess the amount of time available is a big factor in the functioning of the police

The killing of George Floyd could be among the worse cases of police brutality in the US during recent times. Due to the time it took for that to happen, it's especially inexcusable. According to the news, over 8 minutes. One would think the police officer would have known what was happening.

It would be easier to understand a misplaced shooting as those situations can unfold over a matter of seconds. Choices that have to be made quickly are often not the right choices, but somewhat understandable in dangerous situations where there isn't time to better figure out the situation.

Time makes a difference.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Some reflections on campus unrest in 1969 - 1970 year at Washington State University in light of Spring 2020 protests nationwide.

News of the riots brings back memories of the late 1969 - 70 era. I was growing up in Pullman, WA. A freshman in high school. Pullman isn't a big city, but it wasn't exempt from violence; property damage that is. Pullman is a college town.

My most dramatic memory was when the football stadium was set on fire. Arson is pretty easy to do; especially when the target is an old wooden structure. The grandstands were made out of wood. A fire ravaged the south grandstands and to this day no one knows who set the fire or what the motive was; from what I understand. It may have had nothing to do with the protests.

While things like this are disturbing, they are also a bit exciting. I remember watching till around 1 AM. Lots of people were watching. My parents at first, but they eventually went back home.

Interesting to note that my parents didn't seem worried about me out there by myself. This must have been before the current era of "helicopter parents."

Eventually, I got back home okay. The house was unlocked most of the time. There was crime, but maybe less worry? Looking back, there is the thought of innocence, but that's probably somewhat of a myth. Today, there's quite a bit of fear and suspicion.

Quite a bit of other violence affected Pullman that year. To protest the condition of farm workers, some folks took baseball bats to the wine sections in two supermarkets in Pullman. Dismore's and Rosaeur's.

They smashed wine bottles all over the place. I just heard about this in the news, but whenever I pass the wine section in a supermarket, that memory still comes up.

That thought also comes up at a few "wine and cheese parties;" tho I haven't been to many of those kind of parties. On another morning, I remember being greeted by my mom at the breakfast table with phrase, "bricks through the bookstore windows." Apparently that news had just been on the radio. Someone decided to throw bricks through the plate glass windows of the Student Bookstore on campus.

Pullman had a lot of teach ins and protests back then. Anti Vietnam War rallies, protests against racism, the farm workers union starting and so forth. Most rallies were non violent, but there was the violence also.

One of the outcomes of that era has been tighter security. More locked doors. There is a wider gap between the halves and the have not's than before. Those with the most power usually prevail when violence becomes the means of expression.

I still think there are better and more creative ways to rebel against the social order. The gay movement has made lots of progress and it's mostly non violent, tho admittedly there was the Stonewall Riots and a few other things. The White Night Riots after the Dan White verdict; for instance.

Rebellion can mean folks wanting change become their own enemies. Internal strife. Then the divide and conquer strategy sets in. There are so many contradictory goals. The need for people; women for instance, to feel safe versus folks wishing to express themselves with little in the way of boundaries. There's the interests of small businesses. Lots of different situations.

Thinking about racism, it's interesting to note that quite a few people are trying to defend single family zoning. Yuppies that don't want less fortunate people in their neighborhoods? Sometimes neighbors can be "trouble;" admittedly. Recently, there has been quite a bit of talk about the racial history of zoning in the late 1940's and 1950's. Similar patterns today as reinforced by income.

There is sure a lot to think about. I can go on and on, but I could be rambling.

I hope people can find creative ways to disrupt oppressive things, but violence usually leads to more repression

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Government spending: a better way to stimulate the economy than encouraging private borrowing.

A big problem in the economy is too much debt. Easy credit encourages people to do things like buy more expensive houses. Encourages businesses to do things like buy each other out. This drives up the cost of these things.

Then the monthly payments are so high that there is little left for a rainy day. Little left for discretionary spending. People living check to check with debt payments and rents taking up most of income. Then the virus comes and there's no cushion.

Low interest rates have encouraged people and businesses to spend and increase their debt. This has led to a huge debt overhead which eventually puts a damper on things due to the burden of paying back the debt. Increased property values and the rents to sustain them has become a burden. It makes us less resilient to things like the virus shutdown as the debts, rents and mortgages continue. We don't have enough flexibility and cushion.

I think most of the reason why they have had to print so much money, over recent years, is to keep the federal government solvent. Republicans have cut taxes, but they can't really cut spending. They keep increasing spending on the military.

Republicans tend to want to cut domestic spending, but that isn't easy to do as people's lives depend on expensive domestic programs; such as Medicare. It's easier to cut taxes than to cut spending.

Without "pay as you go" tax revenue, it's easier to just add to the federal debt. Eventually the debt gets so big that printing new money is the easiest way to sustain it.

The other reason why money gets printed is to stimulate the economy with low interest rates for job creation. Some of this isn't necessarily bad. As the economy expands, more money is needed.

One problem is that Republicans tend to favor low interest rates for private market solutions, instead of government spending, to stimulate the economy.

I don't mean to just pick on Republicans, but they do tend to favor private market solutions. This means stimulation via low interest rates encouraging business to expand rather than stimulus from government spending.

Individuals and business accumulate crushing debt burdens if credit becomes too easy. In the long run, this crushing overhead can sink the economy; unless we print more money for bailouts.

Now days, there is even talk of a debt jubilee.

The government, itself, seems to be able to get by with going into debt more easily. Maybe because it can print money. The consequence of printed money is more indirect. Rather than immediate default, the consequence of printing money is long term inflation. It's inflation caused by more money chasing the same number of goods and services. This benefits some folks, like a lot of property owners as the value of their property goes up.

I would guess a better way to stimulate the economy, with new money, is through government spending, rather than encouraging private debt.

I may sound a bit socialist. I do think private enterprise can be more innovative than government. Private enterprise can accomplish things; like solar power, but the marketplace, doesn't necessarily do this on its own. The marketplace needs a boost from government spending. Government as a consumer of private enterprise.

This has worked well for the relationship between NASA and Space X; for instance. Private innovation for space launch, but lucrative government contracts, to supply the International Space Station, as a customer. This has helped Space X get started.

Without some direction from government, the private sector can flounder. The private market, by itself, isn't likely to develop things like solar energy; that is until the price of solar comes down lower than fossil fuel energy. Things like solar energy need a boost from government to get the ball rolling.

One can say that private enterprise as a way to organize a workplace works well much of the time. Often better than government bureaucracy. It's the private marketplace that's more the problem. The market doesn't always favor the things we need; especially when taking the environment into account. It tends to favor our impulse buying over our long term needs.

To a large extent, private business needs government as a responsible consumer.

Friday, May 22, 2020

During the virus scare, could the WNBR bike rides go online also, like so many other things have done? Oh, it's already there, in a way.

For years, there have been lots of pictures from these events online. More popular than even the rides themselves. The pictures are there 24/7 year round while the rides happen in each location usually only once per year.

Could folks use these popular pictures to expose the messages? Get the messages to more audience? Pictures more popular than blog essays.

Pictures don't have to be totally nude, but a lot of the photos of WNBR riders, that are on the net, are.

Here's an old picture of me that someone took in 1994 after I got back from a bike tour.

See a longer essay here and more pictures of many kinds.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine; like a folk remedy and a pretty dangerous one at that.

Trump has taken hydroxy ... (I can't pronounce it; forget it). Years ago, Nancy Reagan was consulting an astrologer.

As for myself, my main health advice is pretty simple. Things like exercise, good diets, plenty of rest, reduce stress and enjoy life. Those things plus a regular doctor's recommendations; like prescriptions, dental work, or whatever.

My health advise relates more to lifestyle than something to consume. Nothing in pill form. Nothing, really, for sale. Healthy living usually boosts the immune system.

Oh, yes, I do take a multiple vitamin and maybe some vitamin C, mostly because the orange flavored pills taste good. I try not to take too much. I don't know how important a vitamin pill is as long as I get my fruits and vegetables.

As for special remedies, like that hyd (whatever). It's nice to know that lots of potential treatments are in the pipeline being thought about and tested. Some things might be beneficial, others are found to be more harm than good. Combinations of these things are being looked at. It's nice to know the science is being done, but I just think of things like this in terms of future hopes. The science is not really ready.

I wouldn't try any of these things now, unless, maybe I was desperate. Unless maybe I was in the hospital and some doctor said, "let's give this a try."

Some people have gone to Mexico and other spots for treatments not yet available through the long approval process in USA. In recent years they've loosened up a few regulations with the Right To Try Act. That, only as a last resort.

More likely, people go abroad for medical care to avoid the high cost of care in USA. Medical tourism, but that's a different story.

Monday, May 18, 2020

I still have a big container of Mount Saint Helen's ash some 40 years later.



Photo of the ash I still have in 2020. Yes, it still can get on everything.

I was living in Bellingham, WA. so I missed most of it. The wind wasn't blowing ash this way.

My sisters were living in Pullman, WA. which got ash fall. I ask Judith to scoop up some and save it for me. I still have it today.

Scroll down and see photo captions for more of my experiences related to Mount Saint Helens eruption.



In 1980, I was self publishing a little magazine of my own opinions, before using the internet. My June issue was to be about gay rights, but Mount St. Helens had just happened, so I combined the two hot topics. I have the front page in my Flickr display. The inside pages are still in my closet, so to speak; in a file box. One can enlarge here.





6 years after the eruption, I was getting more into long distance bike touring. On one of my trips, I visited Windy Ridge area near Mount St. Helens where there was lots of timber blow down. 1986.



St. Helens lurking in the distance as seen from top of Windy Ridge, 1986.



In 1994, I was doing another bike trip on road up from the west side of mountain. The road to Johnston Ridge.



St. Helens from Johnston Ridge, 1994.



Mud flows on my way up to Johnston Ridge, 1994.



An A frame cabin buried in mud on way up to Johnston Ridge, 1994.



From inside lodge at Johnston Ridge 1994. Met someone who said I reminded him of Forest Gump. I'd never heard of Forest Gump since I'm not much of a movie person, but I did watch a documentary about St. Helens at another visitor's center near the I-5 exit.



Some of the amazing bridges on the way to Johnston Ridge. When bicycling, one can notice. They built this highway into the area after the eruption. Photo from 1994.



Another bridge on the way to Johnston Ridge, 1994.

The photos and a few more on my Flickr tag.

Big box stores might have an advantage here; social distancing.

During this time, a lot of people with homes and yards are escaping boredom by using this time for projects around the house. Makes sense.

Given that, there is quite a bit of discussion, on Facebook, about the safety situation at different hardware stores around Bellingham.

One of the local mom and pop stores, called Hardware Sales, has been loved for many years by local residents. A non chain, unique kind of place. Now it's being criticized for not seeming as safe as some of the big corporate box stores around town. Narrow aisles and so forth.

Maybe they could do more, like requiring masks, or something. I wouldn't know, I haven't been to a hardware store since this situation started.

Does seem like big stores, like Lowe's and Home Depot, have an advantage here as they have larger buildings for wider aisles and spacing. Maybe corporations aren't so bad?

Of course who would have guessed, only a few months ago, that this would even be a consideration.

I'd also say that Hardware sales has several out buildings selling larger items; like furniture. The whole store isn't just the main building. Maybe more spacing there? I wouldn't know. People often say, "you can find anything you want at Hardware Sales." One bolt if you want, it doesn't have to come in a package. Local character.

Another small store that doesn't come up in the discussion is Ace True Value at Sehome Village. Maybe corporate, but smaller than Hardware Sales or Lowe's. Wider aisles, I think. Haven't thought to measure them recently. Ace is under the radar in these discussions, so far.

Some folks are saying people shouldn't be using hardware stores or doing unnecessary things. Personally, since I live in an apartment, I don't have much place for housework so I haven't been to a hardware store since the stay at home edicts came down.

Maybe I'm just writing about this discussion to alleviate some of my own boredom.

Being out around town on my bicycle with no shopping destinations in mind has been a great way to curb cabin fever.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Divide and conquer?

Is it possible that the person who is accusing Joe Biden of sexual misconduct is secretly working for the Trump campaign, or at least a Trump supporter not necessarily connected to the campaign itself? It's just an idea.

Disgruntled Sander's support gets much of the blame, which is a more common theory, but who knows. There could be secret payoffs or at least manipulation coming from some Trump supporters. How about from Russia? Yet another idea.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Why no inflation with printed money? My hypothesis.

Seems like our federal government is now being largely financed by printed money. Not borrowed money, I guess. For years, not enough taxpayer money and too much spending for "pay as you go." Now due to the virus this situation is even more pronounced.

A hazard from printed money is inflation, but some economists wonder, "where is the inflation?"

I recently saw a comment, on Facebook, that seems to answer that question succinctly. "Deflation is cancelling out inflation." Brilliant.

Some things go way up in price while other things don't go up, or even go down in price due to cheap imports, technology or economic downturns. This catches people and business; especially small business; in a bind. How does one pay rising rent when the cost of the widgets one is selling goes down?

The trade situation weighs into this as well. When there is monetary restraint, meaning the printing of less money, the dollar remains stronger. This means our domestic market gets flooded with cheaper widgets from overseas.

It also means foreign money flows into the US as a "safe haven" for investors. This pushes up the cost of things like real estate, thus increasing the cost of living and doing business in the US.

On the other hand, if we print money and devalue the dollar, our products become cheaper on world markets thus helping American business and workers sell products to the world market. It can make products more expensive for American consumers.

Often workers are consumers as well. We do often want the best of both worlds.

Being caught between cheap products and expensive things like healthcare costs, education costs and land values can hurt; especially if you make your living manufacturing and selling products. It's like doing the splits. It's the splits that hurts.

If there's too much inflation so inflation gets totally out of control, that would hurt also, eventually. That doesn't seem to be a problem in the foreseeable future, tho.

Farther down the road and theoretically, yes. Out of control inflation can be a big problem.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Politicians may need to take time to get a consent form filled out before kissing any babies along the campaign trail

Years ago, it was said that one had to kiss a lot of babies along the campaign trail to get elected. Now days, any kind of touching needs the establishment of consent; maybe even a signed waver. There just isn't time for that quality of communication when working a long line of constituents. Joe Biden and others have commented that it's a different world now.

Most recently, even showing up at all in person is hazardous due to the virus. Most of the campaigning has to be done on the computer and through the media. Physical contact is hazardous. The eras keep changing. This too may pass, but it's the situation today.

In some ways, the loss of spontaneity can be mourned, but I've always been a bit odd, myself, pushing intellectual conversation and deep thinking into my social encounters. My style has gone over like a lead balloon in bars where people aren't always in the mood to analyse everything.

Where are the boundaries? How do you feel about being touched?

Over the years, I have been into deep conversation and missed out on some spontaneous encounters and the touching that goes with it. Spontaneity that often comes with alcohol. Not liking the flavor of beer has kept me out of so many of these situations.

I seem to function well without much touching in my life. I also agree with some of the feminist critique of male behavior given the power imbalance at so forth. I happen to be gay, myself, which is yet another dynamic.

That being said, it does seem like the Me Too movement can go too far and bring about a colder world. As with so many things, there is always a need for balance.

Looking deeper than just Me Too, there does need to be better communication in so many encounters. Lots of talking is not a bad idea.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Planet of the humans was misleading about green technology, but I agree that population growth is like the elephant in the room

I disagree with most of Michael Moore's latest film, Planet of the Humans. Green technology is much better than depicted in that misleading film. Still, green technology, alone, may still not be enough to stave off global warming. That's one point made in the film which I agree with.

For instance overpopulation is a problem. No, I don't think we need to promote a mass die off of the human race to address global warming. World population is still growing and we still need to accommodate the growing population. The growth rate is slowing. I would like to see it slow down more significantly to at least zero population growth; steady state. It's not there yet, but it is slowing.

I usually discuss over population as a part of a criticism of anti gay and anti women's rights policies that still exist in much of the third world. Also there's still conservative attitudes about sexuality in parts of the west. It doesn't make sense to prosecute people for not being into total heterosexuality.

I also wouldn't give third world countries a total pass for low consumption because so many people in the third world aspire to consume more. To live more like USA; driving cars and so forth. Economic growth in China over the past few decades; for instance.

Much of the third world is rising out of poverty. This isn't necessarily bad, but looking forward, growing population also means growing consumption as living standards rise.

I do think we can raise living standards with green energy.

While I favor zero population growth, I also realize that there are economic adjustments that need to be made as this usually leads to a higher percentage of the population being senior citizens. Children are the future generations who pay into things like Social Security. Adjustments have to be made, automation, later retirement, different distribution of wealth and so forth.

In the meantime, world population is still growing which means some of that growth still aspires to come to the United States and other western countries. This can help us bolster the number of people paying into Social Security; especially if we do more to legalize these mostly hard working immigrants.

I tend to be fairly liberal on immigration issues, but I also recognize the consequences of population growth. Larger cities, more people, more traffic, a harder time achieving goals for reducing carbon emissions. As population continues to expand, it creates pressure for economic growth.

I also notice that a lot of folks, including some people who are liberal on immigration issues, still don't want to see smaller communities, like Bellingham, WA. grow into big cities. Bellingham is growing and currently facing a housing shortage. Much of our growth is related to our popularity as a retirement destination.

Here is where good planning for density is important. Planning for transit, bike paths, parks, high rises and so forth. Trying to curb sprawl. For instance, we need to think about space wasted in parking lots that are empty much of the time.

Monday, May 11, 2020

My review of Michael Moore's film Planet of the Humans.

Last night I watched Michael Moore's new and controversial film, Planet of the Humans. It's quite critical of green energy saying that it's either been co opted by capitalism, or it's not enough and not that effective. The big problem is still overpopulation, over consumption and capitalism, according to the film. I agree, but it does seem like a very pessimistic film.

It seems like this film is too hard on green energy. I am much more optimistic about green technology, electric cars, batteries, solar, wind and whatever; even though I don't drive a car myself.

I'm not normally a movie person either. This was the first Moore film I watched, tho he has covered quite a few important topics. It does seem like Hollywood sensationalizes and often leads to an outcome that encourages people into yelling matches instead of thoughtful inquiry. I'm more of a science person than an entertainment and Hollywood person. There was, supposedly, quite a bit of science in this film, however. Lots of interviews. Discussion about the intermittent problems with things like solar; for instance the rainstorm scene.

Also, it didn't mention city planning as a way to address global warming. I think green technology can really help along with the bigger cultural changes we need; like reducing population growth, but the way we plan our living arrangements can make a big difference as well. Less sprawl, more walk-able neighborhoods smarter density and so forth. That wasn't mentioned in the film at all.

Lots of very good rebuttals and other videos on my Facebook wall in response. Scroll down or search if you are on Facebook You don't have to be in my friends list to find it if you are logged in.

One of the responses it a link to my own brother's blog about his electric powered car and the solar panels on his house. His blog is called Driving on Sunlight. Here's the link to some answers to concerns people have about electric cars. Electric car FAQ.

Yes, I think the film misrepresented the potential of green technology. I'm still a fan of green technology.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The concept of original sin and forgiveness could help Joe Biden

Given the problems that Joe Biden is having over the possibility of touching, I got to thinking about this. Maybe the concept of original sin and forgiveness is a useful system. Useful for keeping political movements from turning into circular firing squads. It works pretty well for keeping Donald Trump and his supporters together. The liberal side of politics may need to borrow this system, to some extent.

If one doesn't like the loaded word sin, one can say something else. One can say "no one is perfect." This concept is useful at bringing some humbleness to the discussion and it helps to curb the ego. We are, basically, an animal species. Our emotions don't always fit our best intentions. Social expectations change over time as well. The other side of that system is forgiveness. Forgiveness from sin, or past transgressions.

It's a system that allows Donald Trump to survive with much of the support of his followers intact. I think many of them don't think he's the ideal person, but they can forgive him.

This system does have it's drawbacks, however. There's less accountability given this system. One can pretty much do anything; maybe even shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and then still be forgiven (that's a bit extreme, but the idea still holds).

I think the concept of original sin and forgiveness has some merit, but it can be taken too far. It seems to work for conservatives. Liberals need something similar.

The word sin is a loaded word. It could be replaced with just simple humility or the realization that no one is perfect. Forgiveness is usually a virtue, but there's always need for balance. Accountability shouldn't be discarded either.

Whether there is a deity or not is another topic. The concept of original sin and forgiveness could have been invented over the centuries by humans, but it seems to work well at reducing the internal strife in social movements. Just about everyone has their skeletons in the closet.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

After restaurants reopen, it might be time to try out the less crowded businesses.

I'm no epidemiologist, but I fear that the infection rate may go up as businesses reopen. Things will have to start opening anyway since staying closed till we get a vaccine is improbable. Hopefully safe practices and better testing can help, but they may just have to reopen things anyway.

When restaurants start to reopen, it may be time for people to discover less popular places. Before the pandemic, I noticed a lot of businesses in Bellingham were more than half empty anyway.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Abstract, like in a nutshell.

Given the likelihood of a contracting economy, there are many virtues of simple living that are being discussed. One thing I've noticed is that technological progress is not even measured in very well in GDP. As technology continues to advance, it can even distract from GDP. For instance look at the falling price of electronic technology. Look at the disruption of jobs, for instance in journalism, due to online news.

At the same time, there is still lots of pressure to grow traditional GDP. Population growth is one thing that creates that pressure given things like the housing shortage.

See next blog entry.

I'd say that even technological advance is not counted in traditional measures of GDP

Economic growth is seen as an unnecessary evil.

My thinking as related to this article about Jacinda Ardern's budget priorities in New Zealand. Emphasis on the Well-being of citizens, rather than traditional measures; like productivity and economic growth.

Lots of people talk about progress on quality of life measures, rather than traditional economic growth. This is becoming more of a common theme as time goes on.

Here's another thing I have noticed, that isn't as widely discussed. Our technological progress has become largely disconnected from our economic growth. Computers and various other things keep getting more sophisticated for less money. "Less money" means this wealth is not being measured by traditional economics. It's an aspect of the quality of life beyond just a slower pace of life. It's technological progress, but it is also missed by traditional economics.

Facebook enables some deep communication (some folks might disagree), but that engagement does not pay one's rent. The web offers lots of opportunities today. Volunteer opportunities, learning and so forth. Opportunities that can be defined as progress, but not often measured as economic growth.

Technology can often mean that making a living becomes more difficult. For instance the disruption in journalism created by media going online.

Another place where technology; the ease of shipping; makes it harder to make a living is in globalization. This can push down wages in more developed economies while, at the same time, being a blessing to consumers. Consumers often benefit while workers suffer. These are often the same people. The same people wearing two different hats as the consumer and worker.

While technology can add to quality of life in ways that aren't often measured in GDP, there still remains a lot of pressure to raise GDP. Pressure to continue the old models of growth.

Part of this pressure relates to the fact that much of the world's population keeps growing. It has also been rising out of poverty. The reduction in percentage of people living in poverty is a massive shift in recent times that we can pat our global selves on the back for. More folks have risen out of poverty, during the past few decades, than at any other time in history.

Added to this is the fact that world population keeps growing. Some of that growth continues to come to the US adding to our pressure for growth; the housing shortage for instance.

Here in the west, the concept of growth appears less necessary. Much of it just seems to be about keeping up with rising prices. Rising housing prices; for instance. There's also the perceived need of "keeping up with the Jones'".

Another pressure comes from the growing wealth gap. While wealth increases for just about everyone, the gap between upper and lower incomes is getting much wider. This pushes up the cost of living, for instance paying the higher cost of a doctor due to the doctor's greater wealth, compared to the average population. Same for costs created by corporate executives.

There is still way too much need to advance wages and GDP.

Interesting analogy, in article, about the act of chewing one's food. Chewing is work in order to bring about the satisfaction of the food. Often, the economy focuses on the chewing as an end in itself versus the outcome. I'm reminded of work for the sake of work; like "do we need that extra shopping center just to create jobs?" "Do we really need those products?" "Do we really need another strip mall?"

I think there is a human need to make progress. Not to go back to a less technological time. Progress can still be made. Still made at an even dizzying pace, but traditional economic growth is less necessary. Traditional economic growth seems to be more disconnected from actual human progress when progress is measured in broader terms.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Leaner and meaner, a popular phrase in the 1980's could mean letting more people die, these days, from COVID-19

California Official Says Society Should Allow The Coronavirus To Kill The Elderly, Sick, and Homeless So We Can Emerge Stronger.

The chairman of Antioch’s planning commission Ken Turnage II is under fire for an April 23 Facebook post promoting the ‘survival of the fittest.' From The Mind Shield.

Here in my blog, I say that these ideas are out there. Survival of the fittest.

He's called a "California official" in the article, but he's basically just one citizen who happens to be on the planning commission in a small city. People do have freedom of speech. Everything said by anyone, including "public officials," should be taken with a grain of salt. Important conversations are happening.

This is a stark expression of the idea of streamlining society; so to speak. I've also heard the phrase "leaner and meaner." While it can be shocking to contemplate, there is a lot of soul searching and discussion going on, these days, about the inherent worth of all people in society.

Seems like we often make these choices unintentionally in the type of society we create. People die because of traffic accidents; the type of transportation that's promoted. People also die due to poverty, lack of health insurance, homelessness, war, overwork and so forth. The virus may be worse than all of these, but it's the same discussion.

I am glad to see strong attempts being made to protect vulnerable people, these days. It is costly, but a lot of people, I know, would be considered vulnerable. Myself included as I am just past the age of 65. I tend to think of myself as quite healthy, but I've also heard the phrase, "there by the grace of God go I."

People are often treasures in other ways besides economic value or physical endurance. There's a lot of interesting life stories and experiences out there. It's like a heritage.

I think it is a sign of progress that society is trying to error on the side of protection. Times were harsher, in centuries past, before as many safety rules. When there was less we could do to prevent disease.

It will be hard to predict what will happen in the long run. What damage may be done by economic carnage and things like the effects of stay at home orders on mental health and domestic violence.

These discussions are important to have.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Anger is often a destructive emotion

Seems like anger tends to destroy social movements for a better world. People see anger as a motivator, but it also tends to cause the folks opposing an oppressor to fight among themselves. It can feed into the process of "divide and conquer."

Friday, May 01, 2020

Seems like just about everyone is tainted these days. Joe Biden is not alone.

More news today about allegations of sexual misconduct by Joe Biden.

Seems like the potential for allegations is a likely scenario for possibly the majority of people; given that humans are a somewhat aggressive animal. Good communication is usually not the norm in spontaneous, not always carefully thought out situations.

Could this mean another 4 years of the Donald Trump Presidency? Is Trump, who also faces allegations, less vulnerable because his support base is less concerned about these kind of things?

Is it possible that Biden would step aside, thus opening up the Democratic Party's nomination process again?

Could we ever have a candidate that isn't tainted in some way?

Looking back, there must be a lot of skeletons in people's closets. Drinking parties, or whatever. Norms keep evolving, going forward.

I do think there are a lot of problems with human emotions. Emotions are not always rational. I think anger is about the worst emotion out there, but anger often gets a pass.

On the other hand, a totally rational world seems problematic in other ways.

Bridging that gap between rationality and emotion, I think rational communication is important. Thoughtful communication is often shunned in various situations; given time constraints, the mood or whatever.

Personally, I don't have much desire for touch. Touch can be a minefield. I feel fortunate that way, tho I am not totally exempt from the discussion. I do like looking at guys.

There are, or course, terrible behaviors that need to be prosecuted, but with so many things that are in the shades of grey, we also need to give ourselves some forgiveness for being human. Otherwise we may never be able to work together enough to build a better society.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Our president. Just asking questions about disinfectants, potential remedies. Grasping at straws hoping to restart a dangerous economy.

Trump is now really getting flack for those questions about use of ultraviolet light and disinfectants in the body. dangerous things to try, of course.

Still, it seems like he was just asking questions. I guess there are stupid questions tho I have sometimes heard the phrase, "there are no stupid questions."

Seems like he is looking for signs of hope which is often described by another phrase, "grasping at straws." Hope that the economy can get rolling again pretty soon. In reality, the economy may need to remain in a slower condition for quite some time. A difficult pill to swallow for many people; speaking of swallowing something.

It's amazing that people would jump to a conclusion and do something like ingest something deemed poisonous, or semi poisonous just on far fetched speculation. I guess that's a common problem in a society of over 320 million. There's bound to be someone, or unfortunately many, out of that large number of people who will try something. Another phrase comes to mind, "there's a fool born every minute."

Yes, warnings do need to come out about these things. In this news clip, the commentator actually apologized for insulting people's intelligence stating what he felt was the obvious, but the warning does need to be given.



Also in that now famous discussion by the president; some evidence being discussed, by scientists at the meeting, that ultraviolet light from the sun might kill the virus rather quickly. The president is thinking that summer may provide hope; like summer usually ends the flu season. Who knows for sure about any seasonal variation with the spread of this virus, however. Seems like there still could be problems related to being in indoor spaces whether summer or winter.

Ultraviolet light and cleaners do have benefits, even in indoor environments, but outside the body. Reduces spread of disease outside the body, but ultraviolet light is harmful to the body. There's the need for protection such as sunscreen.

I think about some of that information in terms of being outside, however. One of the problems we face is that much of our normal economy is based on being in indoor spaces; people in offices, crowded businesses, factories bars, stadiums, aircraft and so forth. Indoor places where diseases spread.

There is more space, outdoors, so it makes the social distancing easier to accomplish. There's outdoor breezes that can disperse droplets more easily. There could be the added benefits of, maybe, less worry about common surfaces, for instance, door handles that have been exposed to direct, outdoor sunlight. For ultraviolet light, it does need to be outdoors. Sun shining through glass significantly reduces the ultraviolet. Another benefit of spending time outdoors can be exercise, of course.

I'll admit this thinking relates to my own "confirmation bias;" given the amount of time I like to spend on my bicycle and walking.

Voluntary simplicity, not necessarily antagonistic toward the establishment

I tend to be a critic of mainstream society and I lean a bit to the left, but I understand (or at least I think I understand) why business, corporations and the government operate the way they do. Why mainstream society that is thought of as the "establishment" is the way it is. A lot of it is the numbers, issues like economy of scale (we studied that in economic geography) and the way people, in our culture at least, tend to behave in a mass market.

The way the establishment runs could be better, but I tend to focus on how we can radically, in some ways, change culture and our personal lives. I'm a fan of less wealth oriented lifestyles, but at the same time I don't necessarily see prosperity as evil. I also am a fan of advancing technology.

Tho I don't see prosperity as evil, I do see much of it as unsustainable. Unsustainable given our environment and especially our current fossil fuel based technologies.

Prosperity can also be unsustainable given our health and our ability to keep up with the rat race. The natural human body. A life less based on traditional measures of prosperity can offer joys that most people seem to overlook. Slowing down has much virtue. Slowing down doesn't necessarily mean giving up on modernity, tho. Not necessarily giving up on technology. I find there is a big disconnect between advancing technology and wealth. Technology, such as often is the case on the internet, can be very disruptive of wealth.

While I tend to blame people for most of our problems, I realize that there is a need to control the power of business; especially large corporations.

Our problems are often the result of a vicious cycle between people's market behavior shaping business decisions while business shapes human behavior. There's the power of advertising, media and laws that are often in favor of the status quo. What could be called crony capitalism.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Something that transcends traditional left right divide

As our country, the USA, seems to be taking up it's traditional battle lines between left and right over how quickly to reopen things, I find it useful to look at situations which cross that divide; such as in Sweden. Sweden, often considered a model of left leaning economics is doing a strategy that is more like the open earlier philosophy that's associated more with the right wing, here in USA. Different from Sweden's other Nordic neighbors.

Who knows what the best strategy is as much of the science is still being found out. The science is evolving; especially when one takes into account what the best long term strategy is, for instance what are the results several years from now. The science becomes more complex when including not just deaths from this virus, but also the consequences of other things in society, such as increased poverty and domestic violence from cabin fever.

On the other hand, maybe society will be better due to a more shut down strategy. We may be learning to develop a society that is less fixated on money and / or being in crowds. That could be a long term argument for putting parts of the economy on hold.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Some feelings about dancing in front of the computer on Zoom; distancing innovations during the virus scare.

Last Saturday I went dancing. Virtual dancing using Zoom, but I also experienced the limits of this experience. I found myself missing the real world dance floors I've experienced; such as at Bellingham's Rumors Cabaret in recent years before the corona virus shutdown.



There is a difference between looking at a screen and being immersed in the experience. In real dancing, the people, lights, music and so forth is all around. Online, it's contained in a screen. As technology evolves, more immersive online experiences can happen.

Having said that, it was a good experience. Folks dancing in front of their webcams. I was dancing also, but felt a bit funny doing it in my small apartment. I did work up a sweat which is good; like aerobics online.

The Faeries have some other things on Zoom; such as a talent show and personal sharing in events called "Heart Circles."

How they choreograph the dances is by placing the images from each webcam up on the feed as the main image. These images would change frequently. I was "on" for a few brief periods.

I kept looking out the window at the sunny day outside, tho. I thought, maybe I'd rather be biking somewhere? Biking is an immersive, all around, off the screen experience. One that doesn't rely on being in crowded spaces; such as dance floors.

Actually, some dance floors aren't that crowded. One can spread out in large dance studios with a small number of people relative to the space. Economics plays it's role. Can dance venues pay the overhead with smaller gatherings? Are people motivated to go to smaller dances or do they fizzle out below a certain threshold of excitement? Are some dances like trying to build a fire with wet wood?

Dancing happens in parks during summer months with outdoor music, but it looks like local park dances have been cancelled here in Bellingham for this summer. Public officials don't want to take the chance of people being too close spreading the virus.

Often, at park dances, the park is admittedly quite crowded. In the past, most of the crowd is sitting in lawn chairs listening to the music. A smaller number of people are actually dancing. If it was just the dancers, they could spread way out across the space, but people do tend to like to cluster. Maybe people should learn to dance farther apart.

I was going to say, "more spaced out," but that has a different context.

Meanwhile the cyber dance, I did Saturday, was good in it's own way. It was put together by Radical Faeries from all over the world. Maybe around 100 dancing, and 200 watching?

People can be creative in front of their cameras. Lights, background videos, folks outside in front of their Smartphones. Lovers and groups of people cuddling. Various stages of undress. Sometimes eroticism was included, rather than banished; as is so often the rule in mainstream society.

The Radical Faeries are going online more and more. This makes their events accessible in places like Bellingham that don't really have much of a faerie presence.

The Faeries have a social network that's like an alternative to Facebook. It is a membership site, but no cost for memberships.

It's not as exciting as Facebook, in some ways. Less going on. Remember, there's an economy of scale in the phenomenon called "the network effect." More people, more friends more stuff on Facebook, but the faerie site does have some good things including information about the dance party and other events. Also there's nudity on the faerie site. Something that isn't allowed on Facebook.

On Saturdays, the faeries have been doing a talent show called the "No Talent, Talent Show." It's usually live streamed on Facebook as well. Kind of wacky and fun.

While I'm at it, here's a link to the Faenet site. Faenet.org