Saturday, October 22, 2016

Photographer captured the way I often stand with my feet at right angles

I'm standing on the street corner with Bruce and Martina as part of the Peace Vigil that happens every Friday.

Photographer captured the way I often stand with my feet at right angles. Done that since childhood. The 4-5pm Peace Vigil has been happening since before my time in Bellingham. 1966. Cornwall and Holly Streets.

I enjoy the gatherings as another social outlet even though I don't think to bring a sign. They also have signs that they provide, but I haven't bothered. My messages aren't easy to put in sound bytes, but I enjoy peaceful conversations with people who care about the world.

I now have a blog label about Bellingham Peace Vigil.

Second image taken by me at 10/21/2016 Bellingham Peace Vigil.

Below are three other images related to the 50th anniversary of Bellingham Peace Vigil. Images taken during July 2016 peace vigil contingent in Bellingham GLBTQ Pride Parade. Showing T-shirts made for 50th anniversary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Products too cheap, housing and other things too expensive in the West

Some wonderful things from electric cars to smartphones use lithium batteries. To some extent, this abundance is on the backs of harsh conditions that miners face in poor countries. They toil procuring the elements so we can have our devices. This segment of On Point Radio looks into the problem. Very informative.

Related, but not necessarily discussed in the show, I have my own thoughts about how inexpensive so many of these products are compared to some other things.

Personally, I would be willing to pay a bit more for many products to create a better world. We live in an economy that brings prices way down for lots of things. Harsh conditions for a lot of people working in these industries around the wold. At the same time, many folks, in USA, are struggling as well. Lots of Americans are close to the edge financially. This creates difficult politics for adding more cost to the products we consume; for instance the hard politics around carbon taxes as cheap energy is another bargain we enjoy.

When one thinks about it, the struggle of Americans doesn't relate to the price of products, it relates to things like the cost of healthcare, housing and education. I have a theory that the prosperity, created by things like cheap energy and inexpensive products, is a big part of what drives the high price of housing, for instance. Prosperity, built on the back of abundant and inexpensive products, goes into inflating the price of things like property values in the rich nations.

It may take more taxes on things like carbon emissions to improve the world. It may also take higher prices for elements used in, for instance lithium batteries, to improve the world. At the same time, this might cool runaway prices in other sectors of the economy; such as real estate where extra money, from the prosperity, drives inflation.

The prosperity has been good and I would not necessarily advocate shutting it off, like protectionism in trade could do. On the other hand we would do better if we could figure out how to pay a bit more for these inexpensive products and, possibly as a result, pay a little less for the things, such as real estate, medical care and education, that are experiencing the inflation driven by this prosperity.

On another somewhat related note, I plan to vote yes on Washington State Carbon Tax Initiative 732 in November 2016.

Photo from WBUR website.

In this April 10, 2004 file photo, a young man carries wet Cobalt on his back at the Shinkolobwe Cobalt mine, situated 35km from the town of Likasi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Schalk van Zuydam/AP)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Should they scrap Obamacare and throw people with preexisting conditions under the bus?

Over the past couple of years, many health plans have become less comprehensive. Allowing for less doctor visits, dental coverage and so forth. Obamacare gets lots of blame, but an underlying problem is more the culprit. Healthcare, in America, is too expensive for a large percent of the population. This has to do, in part, with the wide income gap in society. Obamacare has tried to address this problem, but, to some extent has just moved the problem around.

One important change that Obamacare has brought to our system is forcing insurance companies to include people with preexisting conditions. This puts sicker people into the insurance risk pools forcing everyone else to pay more, or get less coverage.

On the other hand, denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions; barring the door and keeping out the sick and needy (like was happening before) is mean spirited.

As to my own situation, I went many years with no insurance. My low end employers didn't provide it and premiums on the private market were too high. More recently, working full time, I started having coverage. Most employees, where I work, were part time and didn't get coverage. Also, I was grandfathered in (so to speak) with coverage while even some newer full time employees didn't have it. For a while, there was a golden era when my coverage was fairly comprehensive. Most recently (the last two years) it has become less comprehensive. Many insurance plans offer less, but more people have insurance, these days, than ever before. One can say the plans we have now are more diluted. Diluted as sicker people are now included in the risk pools so the money has to stretch farther.

Luckily, my own health remains quite good from my bicycling and diet, for the most part, but maybe my diet isn't totally PC, so to speak. I do burn more calories than most people; especially my age.

There's an old phrase that goes, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Of course everyone isn't that fortunate. Some folks have, for instance preexisting conditions.

One place where Obamacare is hoping to save money is by having more people covered so they can have preventative care, rather than having to wait till they end up in the emergency room thus passing those costs to everyone. Maybe that part has worked, but there are too many sick people out there, so to speak. What do you do? Bar the door? I was one of those without insurance for many years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Politics can be like domestic dispute

Interesting to note that Trump is now turning on his own political party. I've often heard the phrase, "we hurt the one's we love the most." Yes, domestic disputes can be bad. Trump has been an artist at this as, not that long ago, he said that Putin is a more effective leader than our own President Obama. Yes, the one's closer to us are the one's we tend to trash.

Many types of folks do this. For instance there's "black on black violence." Republicans have been prolific at this recently, however. After the tragedy in Benghazi, when the US ambassador and others were assassinated, much of the criticism has been focused on the supposed miss dealings of Hillary Clinton, in response to this tragedy, rather than the true culprits who were the terrorists. No one of course, not even Hillary Clinton, should be above scrutiny, but it does seem like Americans turn on Americans quite easily.

Similar things happen in romantic relationships. Seems like relationships are often a war zone. It must be a form of human nature to most likely hurt those that are in close proximity.

Some speculation about what might happen if Trump were to step aside.

He has no plans to do this, but sometimes people dig in deep and then suddenly announce the reverse. Years ago, I remember when Senator Bob Dole's presidential run looked like it was going on the rocks during the primary, reporters ask him the obvious question. He replied, "we're staying in, we're staying in." Seems like it wasn't long after that, he left the race. Of course that was still during the primaries, not the final election.

I hope Trump stays in as he does seem to be bad for the Republican brand. If he were to step aside, however, my guess is that Pence would be put forward as the Republican presidential candidate. Pence wouldn't be very good either, in terms of policy (my opinion), but his less volatile style would be seen as a safer bet. Republicans would see him as a way to try and unify that party because he's still part of the Trump ticket, but also more palatable to what is termed as the "Republican Establishment."

With Trump on the ticket, we (folks who lean toward the Democrats) can hope he looses, of course and also hope he can bring down many of the Republican's in Congress. Maybe the Senate will go back to the Democrats, or even both the House and the Senate.

Imagine Democrats controlling both Congress and the Presidency, but it has happened before and it didn't bring us to Nirvana.

I don't anticipate any politicians to be our total saviors, but it would be nice to see some gains made by the Democrats.

Big corporations aren't necessarily all bad

Big corporations aren't necessarily all bad. They can be powerful tools for organizing people to accomplish big tasks. It depends on how they are used. Corporations are like buses. They can be large with lots of people, power and inertia on board. It makes a big difference how buses and corporations are being driven. A bus can be driven off a cliff, driven into a crowd of people killing many or driven to a destination bringing the people where they want to go in safety and comfort.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bellingham Art Walk, also Herald sign in rainbow colors

Got a few pictures during October Art Walk in Bellingham. It's a monthly happening, first Friday of each month. See some of my other Art Walk photos and descriptions on Flickr. I visited the studio of Bellingham's new community radio station, KZAX LP FM.

Herald Building has a new sign. Due to technology, the colors can be changed. Red, blue, or how about rainbow colors? I was hoping they would make it rainbow for gay pride in Bellingham which happens during July. Wondering how open minded they'd be. Well, they've already done it. It's gone rainbow last weekend, but why?

Little did I know that there was an obscure little GLBTQ festival up at Western Washington University. Not that highly publicized, hardly anyone was there; which is very typical of Bellingham. I dropped by and chatted with several folks staffing info tables. At the festival I heard someone announce that the Rainbow sign on the Herald Building would be there till Sunday. Seemed like that person was in the know, so to speak, but not much was said about this (I assume) connection around our city. By the way, this post happens to be written on National Coming Out Day.

The sign is now back to all blue letters related to the WWU Vikings. Back the Blue.

Walking art downtown. A friend who wears bright lighted jackets.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Hang in there Trump. I think Pence would be worse. Trump can't be taken too seriously thus limiting the damage he could do.

Much of the problem is bankrupt conservative values.

Talk about sexual issues comes up in regards to both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. People remember, Bill Clinton's affairs back in the 1990s. There's quite a few differences for sure. One big difference is that Hillary and Bill Clinton are still married. Their marriage has lasted through thick and thin. Isn't that an important value? Trump, on the other hand, has had many divorces, so I gather.

Also boasting about assault of women is pretty bad. Bad, even though today he is repenting about his previous comments (for mostly political reasons) I would guess.

There does seem to be a revolving door between conservatism and sexual promiscuity. One hears about Catholic priests with little boys and situations like politicians who oppose gay rights being outed, in some sort of sex sting operation. That revolving door might have to do with folks turning to strict religion to fight temptation?

Underneath the posturing, most people are sexual animals. In our country's culture wars, there are competing value systems. There are liberal and conservative value systems. Conservative values frown upon extra marital affairs, but if one goes to extreme liberal values, eroticism outside of the context of marriage isn't necessarily always bad. Bill Clinton's biggest indiscretion is more likely his original lies about the affair, rather than the affair itself, according to many liberals.

Myself being pretty far to the left in the culture wars, I am familiar with the concept of polyamory. That's the practice of not necessarily being totally monogamous to one mate. Polyamory is different from polygamy which has more to do with exploitation of a harem. On thinks of some obscure branches of Mormonism here. As for liberal values and going as far as polyamory, honesty and communication is considered important. In some cases, there might be eroticism outside of a primary relationship, but it makes a big difference if there's honesty, respect and communication among all the people involved.

In all this political talk about sexuality, I still have lots of respect for the Clinton's who's marriage has lasted. I doubt they would think of themselves as poly amorous; especially given the politically charged environment they live in. They are, after all, "mainstream" and (for the most part) establishment people. Still, I prefer their liberalism to the casino style showmanship of a Donald Trump pandering to sexual conservatism. The problem isn't just Trump. It seems like many TV evangelists and right wing politicians are that way.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Trump signs mixing uncomfortably into the Friday Peace Vigil in Bellingham, WA.

Some Trump supporters insist on joining (so to speak) the sign holding Peace Vigil that happens Friday afternoons in downtown Bellingham. This annoys some of the peace activists, but I am not super annoyed even tho I am not a Trump supporter.

Today, one of the Trump signs was being held right over a peace banner from the peace activists. Peace activists are upset that the message is being contaminated, but I remember when supporters of Lyndon Larouche set up at the vigil. It's just a street corner where freedom of speech prevails and there's a tradition of folks holding signs that goes back to 1966. Larouche is (or was) an "outside the box" political figure.

Some of the peace activists may not be comfortable with my thoughts also when I say that both Jill Stein (Green Party Candidate) and Donald Trump have one thing in common; they both want to shake up the establishment. As people hurriedly pass by, they might think, "ya, Hillery Clinton is a war monger" when they see Trump signs mixed with peace signs. Some people think Hillary is beholden to Wall Street banks and money interests while Trump supposedly finances his own campaign and calls his own shots.

In this election, I do feel that Hillary Clinton is the best choice even as I disagree with some of my fellow peace vigil friends who plan to vote third party. Hillary isn't perfect, but neither are we. It seems like even most ordinary people are somewhat beholden to use of fossil fuels, finances, home equity, retirements, consumption and public safety. Do we really want to tear down our society which provides these things? On the other hand, as we change, society evolves.

Today, someone scowled at the Trump sign and the Trump supporter said something like, "peace through strength." In other words, a big military to hold the peace and protect public safety. My comeback would be, "ya, one has to pay taxes to have a big military." Trump defended the idea of "being a smart businessman" paying as little in taxes as possible when news about some of his tax forms being leaked came to light.

From a few months back.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

One of best one liners I have heard

One of best one liners I have heard. "The more you know, the more you know that you don't know."

A phrase of humility which we could use some more of in today's world.

Image of store window in downtown Bellingham.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Religion, more of an art than an exact science

One can say that religion is more of an art than a science.

A science implies definite and absolute answers. Evidence based, "the facts," objectivity. Art is more about freer thinking and creativity, personal experience, intuition.

When we look deeper, tho, science isn't all rigid either. There's relativity theory that we are still struggling to wrap our minds around. The truth of things like distance and time being relative to the observer. Then there's also the quantum realm. A realm where something can be in more than one place simultaneously. Multiple truths at once. Fuzzy logic.

At the level of everyday life, there are many seemingly rigid scientific facts and truths. We base a lot of our technology on these truths; like assuming electricity behaves in a certain way. This isn't the "be all and the end all of science," but it works to keep the lights on and to keep our lives running.

On the other hand, there are many things that science doesn't answer. It doesn't answer these things yet at least; if it ever will. Questions like, what started the universe, if there was a start. Is there a larger meaning to our lives? Seems like these questions lead to the fuzzier, quantum side of science. There's lots of room for creative thinking. Religion deals with these questions also.

Seems like we get into trouble when we try and put these unanswered questions into the realm of rigid, absolute fact; especially when we don't have definite answers. It just causes us to start fighting among ourselves.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This is what I might want to say to members of Anglican Church of North America

My understanding is that Anglican Church of North America is made up of more conservative churches that have broken away from American Episcopal Church in part because of the Episcopal Church's more liberal attitude toward gay people. It's more aligned with the Anglican Churches of Nigeria.

Overpopulation, discrimination against women and gay people may lead to the ruin of many countries in the world, like Nigeria where population is expected to surpass the US within a few decades; Nigeria having far less land area than US. Bigotry, famine and war could make much of the world like Syria. People are talking about the situation in Syria as partially related to climate change and drought. An increasingly crowded world. Hope it doesn't get that bad, but who knows.

Other parts of the world could still flourish but increasingly face; like in Europe, the refugee dilemma with overwhelming numbers of people knocking on the door.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton is like ordinary people

People expect our presidential candidates to be perfect and folks continue to do things like oppose oil pipelines while still driving cars using oil. Hillary Clinton isn't perfect either. She uses money from corporate sources, like ordinary people pulling up to the gas pump. No candidate is perfect, not even Jill Stein (Green Party candidate). If we want to see change in this world, it's really up to us. We need to do things like driving less, becoming more independent of mainstream corporate culture; including the oil companies. We need to be building better communities from the ground up. I think we can work with Hillery Clinton a lot better than if "strong arm, mean spirited" Republicans take over all branches of government, including the Supreme Court. It's up to us to participate in the changes we need. No politician can do it for us, but some politicians can make it a lot more difficult.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Photos from my 2016 vacation bike trips now on line

Olympic Peninsula, Victoria, Vancouver, BC. Orcas Island. Around local area.

See trip album here.

Mount Baker from ferry between Sidney, BC and Anacortes, WA.

Friday, August 26, 2016

No deregulation magic wand for Trump. Regulation on business is often local. Case in point, water worries in Waitsburg, WA.

People, like Donald Trump, say there could be an economic boom if the federal regulators and Obama would just get out of the way of business. Well, I think most of the thicket or regulation that can stifle business doesn't come from the federal government. It comes from local governments and people all across America. Neighborhood associations, local zoning and so forth. Some of the restrictions are needed to protect quality of life and the environment. Others might be just "not in my backyard" ism. A case in point is this controversy about a proposed bottled water plant in Waitsburg, WA. Not far from where I grew up in Pullman, WA.

Bottled water can create jobs, but it does seem like a useless product. In most localities, tap water is sufficient. Why spend all that fossil fuel on shipping water bottled in plastic? I know, there is a market for it, but what's best for the big picture?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A partial die off in some areas of the world due to climate change while other parts of the world continue to flourish

A severe heatwave and drought happening in much of Middle East. Also, it's harder to cope with things like water shortages with rampant population growth. Too bad that in many of those cultures, they execute people for being gay and being different from the mainstream of society's push for procreation. It's often said that the situation in Syria is related to a severe drought. Washington Post article, I linked to, talks about the drought, heatwave and doesn't ignore the population issue. Two parts of article that stand out in my mind below.

In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.

The United Nations predicts that the combined population of 22 Arab countries will grow from about 400 million to nearly 600 million by 2050. That would place tremendous stress on countries where climate scientists predict significantly lower rainfall and saltier groundwater from rising sea levels. Already, most countries in the region face acute water crises because of dry climates, surging consumption and wasteful agricultural practices.

Some of my thoughts below.

I hear people say our earth is headed for a big die off of the human species. A mass famine as nature acts to reduce our population from around 7 billion now to, say, 3 billion? That would be a lot of famine. It would take lots of famine and die offs just to keep world population around 7 billion, rather than the projected 11 billion by the end of this century. That is unless we reduce population growth and learn to accommodate people in better ways. I think there are parts of the world which do experience such severe famine that aid organizations will be totally overwhelmed, but at the same time, other parts of the world, like largely the west, can continue to flourish, for the most part. A heartbreaking discrepancy of fate depending on what part of the world one is lucky enough to be born in.

I may sound like I'm talking about a holy judgement against certain cultures. I remember Anita Bryant blaming a California drought, back in the late 1970s, on gay people.

Still, whatever culture or part of the world we live in, I feel it is important to curb population growth. Also to have open societies which encourage innovation and science. Things such as desalinization of seawater can allow many regions to continue flourishing in spite of dire predictions that some folks make about the future of humankind.

I may sound like I'm anti Arab thinking about the success of desalinization in Israel and Southern California. At the same time, I also read about success for desalinization in Saudi Arabia and places like the United Arab Emirates. I read that there is a large desalinization project being built as a result of (amazing) cooperation between Jordan and Israel.

Things like desalinization do take energy, but energy can come from solar power. The cost of providing water in this way can be high however. It is starting to pencil out, economically for urban use, but the vast amount of water needed in agriculture is a harder nut to crack, so to speak.

As the future unfolds, much of agriculture is likely to migrate. If the "new normal" for places like California's Central Valley become too dry to grow, for instance, almonds (which take lots of water) almond production can relocate to other parts of the globe where water is available and climate is right. It takes a while for soils and agricultural infrastructure to adapt, but I would guess this is happening. It means that food will still be shipped thousands of miles all over the world as it is today. Possibly using transportation based on green energy. The "thousand mile salad" remains.

Come to think about it, migration of agriculture and forestry practices has happened here in the Pacific Northwest of USA. This region used to be the biggest timber producing area of the country, but many of our local forests have been clear cut and population growth has created more demand for use of remaining timber lands for wilderness preservation, watershed and tourism activities. The lumber industry has been migrating to southeastern states, such as Georgia, where tree farming is done like row cropping.

Another hero technology for the future will be vertical farming. Yes, growing crops inside where less water is needed. Problem again is the cost. The economic systems, in most parts of the world, favor doing things in the cheapest way. Vertical farming can't compete with cheaper methods, but why do we always have to use the cheapest method for producing our food and energy? Here in much of the west, money is saved using the cheapest methods for producing, say, energy and then the extra savings often goes into things like inflating property values. The real estate bubble could partially be attributed to things like low prices and low taxes in some sectors of the economy providing lots of excess wealth to certain portions of the population to use in bidding up house prices. Money saved on doing things the cheapest way also goes into world military spending, of course.

I think, in Germany, they do more to control run away house value inflation, but they do pay more for electricity than many parts of the world. This allows them to produce more of their electricity from solar; which given current situations is still more expensive than power production from fossil fuel. Maybe the Germans can afford to spend more money producing their energy in better ways, rather than just the cheapest ways. I'd guess they can do this by controlling waste and run away inflation in other sectors of their economy.

Global warming, human greed and bigotry are causing much famine in parts of the world, while other regions will be able to adapt and even still flourish. Much of it will have to do with attitudes about sexuality and population as well as attitudes about innovation and technology. The agility and adaptability of societies is an important factor. Being open to change, versus being stuck in tradition can be a strategy to cope with and reduce climate change. Change can often mean a brighter future as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Finding work without an impressive resume, or any resume? Could be the hand up for homeless people.

Yes, a good idea. The program called "There's a Better Way."

This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working.
Washington Post.

Employ the homeless. Instead of asking the homeless to go out looking for work when many of them have spotty resumes and feel dispirited, the city could bring the work to them.

Good idea from (somewhat surprisingly to me) a Republican mayor. Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque, NM has a way of resolving a big problem. The problem of trying to get a job when one's resume isn't impressive and maybe one hasn't even taken a bath for a while. Working isn't necessarily that hard. What's hard is the process of finding a job. We ask folks who are down in the dumps to sell themselves in a competitive job market. Why can't we just bypass that process and give them a job? Go to work without having to navigate the difficult "job finding application, interview and selling ones self" process. This program provides jobs for the homeless. Shovel ready, so to speak. Helps them get a start working. Seems like a good idea that could be replicated in other cities.

I've thought of a similar idea that I would call "sheltered workshop." It's like a job for everyone. A place that can employ people who are on the margins of the job market. Help them get acclimated to working and also add things to their resume. Work around disabilities and so forth.

Why hasn't it worked before? It does take funding to create the jobs. The program in Albuquerque has a limited number of jobs available. There are hopes to expand it. Make it available to more people.

Also, of course, it helps to have affordable housing in the area. In some cities, the housing is getting so expensive that lots of people remain homeless even when they have a job.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

I think most of Green Party candidate Jill Stein's goals could be accomplished with Hillary Clinton if there was consensus among American people for these goals

Green Party candidate Jill Stein interviewed on first part of Diane Rehm Show. Second part was about 3rd parties in America.

Personally, I still feel that many of Jill Stein's goals could be accomplished with Hillary Clinton as president. Main problem is, there just isn't a consensus among the American people and Congress (of course) to accomplish these goals. American people are very divided. There are many conservatives which pull in different directions. Libertarians and so forth.

One of the goals that Jill Stein would like to see accomplished is more spending on infrastructure; especially green technology. She feels global warming is an emergency and we need a strong push toward a greener economy. Good goals, but many of the American people are less convinced. They wouldn't want to pay for this. I feel that if the people, and Congress, were in support of these goals, we could go that direction even with Clinton in the White House. It would be harder with Trump.

In my opinion, it's not really the leaders that are the problem; especially most of the leaders that are Democrats. The problem is lack of consensus among the American people for doing these things. We need major cultural changes in our society. Changes at the grass roots level.

In second part of this Diane Rehm show the point came up that last time a new political party was created that won the presidency was when the Republicans replaced the Wigs back just before Lincoln's time. We're kind of stuck with 2 parties at the presidential level. Changes happen, tho, within the parties. Bernie Sanders has had a strong impact on the Democratic Party. Donald Trump is effecting and possibly imploding the Republican Party. Who knows, maybe we'll get a replacement for the Republican Party, but I'm not holding my breath.

Meanwhile polls seem to indicate, so far, most Bernie Sanders supporters are following him to support Hillary Clinton now that Sanders has endorsed Clinton. Maybe, in some cases reluctantly, but a new CNN poll shows 91% of Bernie Sanders supporters are now backing Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Good news from Canada where many lifestyles can respect one another. The prime minister even attends Pride Parades.

The Vancouver GLBTQ Pride Parade is a big deal. Over half a million participants and spectators. I've been there, in years past. This year, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau was in the parade, as prime minister. He's been there before he became prime minister also.

Now, let's hope, someday, that the president of Turkey, for instance, would attend a pride parade. That president is currently Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. No, they teargassed the 2016 attempts to have a pride parade in Istanbul, Turkey this year.

Hurray for Canada and the more open minded nations of the world.

How a country treats it's LGBTQ people can be used as a litmus test toward how truly democratic it is. Where lots of different kinds of people, cultures, religions and lifestyles can live together in peace. Canada does very well. The US isn't that far behind.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Federal Reserve pumping up an animal balloon. Jobs in the hard to inflate appendages.

My crude attempt at making a cartoon (collage) about the economy. Collage as parts are borrowed images from the net; from people that can draw better than me.

Cartoon is about how Federal Reserve pumps money into the economy to, supposedly, nurture good jobs. Problem is, the new money mostly goes into inflating housing and asset bubbles; like blowing up a balloon. The parts of the balloon where good jobs would happen are constricted while the center part is, possibly headed for another 2008 style explosion.

A big problem with the economy are the clamps and restrictions in the way of good jobs. Environmental restrictions due to global warming and people's aversion to seeing change in their neighborhoods. Another restriction has to do with Congress clamping down on domestic spending due to deficit worries. The third clamp is business leaders worried about uncertainty and the feedback loop of soft markets.

Meanwhile, it seems like house values keep going up in many areas. Asset values go up, but work pays less and less relative to the overall economy.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Police relations with GLBTQ community seem better than with some segments of Black community

Black Lives Matter Vancouver wants police float out of Pride parade.

Not being black, myself, I do have problems understanding the hostility toward police from Black Lives Matter. Seems like that hostility would be better directed against the gentrification and spiraling cost of living in so many cities. Economic forces that are pushing low income people, with a disproportionate share of racial minorities, out of cities. In some cases, the police are the visible edge of this gentrification, but I see them as being caught in the difficult problems also.

Seems like relations between police and most of the GLBTQ community are much better than relations between police and much of the African American community. Police representation in GLBTQ parades has become another way of legitimatizing the GLBTQ movement. The police, major politicians and now big corporations join in the gay pride parades. I have heard, tho, that the big city pride parades have gone corporate. They've become big money, corporate affairs. A hazard of success in our society, unfortunately.

Here in Bellingham, things are much smaller and more manageable. The big corporate money hasn't found our parade yet. We're a backwater. The parade is small. There wasn't a big (imposing looking?) police float, but I did hear that the police / fire department brought out a historic fire engine to be in the parade. Kind of funky and nice.

I'm not sure If I'll go to Vancouver's Pride Parade this year, tho it's during my vacation and within bicycling distance. The cost of staying in the city has become ridiculous. Maybe that's what people should be protesting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Historic moment about GLBTQ issues at 2016 Republican National Convention

At around the 37 minute mark in Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention was an interesting segment. Talk about protecting GLBTQ people. I think this was the first positive mention of GLBTQ folks from a Republican presidential nominee. Historic. Of course the Democrats and Obama have been speaking positive about GLBTQ people for years, but this is a first from the Republican podium.

As part of Trump's "law and order / public safety" theme, he talked about the need to protect our GLBTQ people from the likes of the murderer who killed 49 folks in that Orlando Bar. Talking about this, he presented a very simplistic take on the issue. He made it sound like an Islamic terrorist had come to Orlando to open fire on GLBTQ people. In reality, it's a more complicated issue. The Orlando murderer's father is from Afghanistan, but seems like there was no international terrorism plot. The father was horrified by his son's actions even though the father, himself, does believe that homosexuality is sinful due to his conservative religious beliefs.

This Orlando situation kind of reminds me of the contention, which some gay rights activists make, that conservative religious views create a general climate for disrespect of GLBTQ people which can lead to violence. Religious conservatives usually refuse to make that connection. Conservatives will say that the freedom of speech to point out where they think their scriptures prohibit homosexuality does not relate to disrespect or violence against GLBTQ people. I think the father was taking that position with his faith of Islam. Similar attitudes exist within conservative versions of Christianity as well.

So there isn't some big Islamic conspiracy behind Orlando, as Trump hinted at. It's a bit more complicated with the murderer having frequented the bar himself and said to even have used gay apps on his phone. It seems like more the case of a confused, lone individual. An individual with access to guns, of course. No mention, in Donald Trump's speech, about gun registration.

Still, it's fairly significant that GLBTQ people were championed (so to speak) from even the Republican podium. Also significant that the crowd of Republican delegates was cheering. A historic moment, even though the message gave an inaccurate impression that the US had been invaded. Invaded by organized Islamic terrorists from abroad. 911 was such an invasion, but not everything, including Orlando, should be viewed in as much of a war oriented way.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Police in the news. Here's something the bloggers are talking about in this Northwest Washington area.

I might as well put in my two bits also.

In our multi cultural society, misunderstandings can easily happen due to language barriers and so forth. An incident, in Sedro-Woolley, WA. has been creating buzz in media, talk shows and so forth; especially in this era of talk about police / minority relations. For a while, it was thought that police wouldn't be welcome as customers at Lucky Teriyaki in Sedro-Woolley. Apparently, this was just a misunderstanding due to language barrier.

From Seattle PI it says.

While the deputies were eating, an employee noticed some customers at another table had spilled some soup and water, the owners said through an interpreter. The employee couldn't understand why the customers were getting upset and wondered if it was because the deputies were sitting nearby, they said. An employee asked the deputies if they were about to leave.

An employee didn't understand when law enforcement later tried to clarify what had happened, the owners said through an interpreter.

Law enforcement personnel are still very welcome in that restaurant.

I guess it sounded, to some of the law enforcement people, that they didn't want law enforcement folks eating in the restaurant and word quickly spreads around. That isn't the case. With language barriers, it's hard to articulate and clearly understand the subtleties of these situations.

It's another argument for life in the slow lane. Slow down and try to understand what's happening. Our fast paced culture gets especially harder with things like language barriers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My photos from 2016 Bellingham Pride are posted on Flickr

See Bellingham Pride Album.

After biking back from a somewhat unrelated, but also very fun dance at the Lookout Mountain Arts Quarry on Friday, my friend Josh and me had pizza slices at La Fiama Pizza. Also available were rainbow cookies as it was Pride Weekend in Bellingham. Most of the pride festivities were on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Personally I don't hate the 1%. I just want a saner economy. Glad Sanders and Clinton are working together

Even though Clinton is a 1%er, herself, I (Robert) personally don't hate 1%ers. I just think we need better economic planning to not be afraid of raising their taxes. I would say (even though it isn't in this article) no more Grover Norquist (the guy having members of Congress sign that pledge not to raise taxes).

Article inspiring my comment, Sanders drags Clinton into his war on the 1 percent.

From article it says.

Sanders shook up the party with his rants on corporate greed and his calls for an expanded welfare state, but he still couldn’t displace the stolid establishmentarian who has served as Secretary of State, New York senator and First Lady.

Sanders does hope, however, that Clinton will join him in attacking America’s elites and pursuing ways to spread the wealth more broadly. “Hillary Clinton understands we must fix an economy that is rigged and sends most income gains to the top 1 percent,” Sanders thundered during his endorsement speech. “Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty.”

Also in article it says.

But the revolution against the 1% was misdirected in the first place. It’s not really the top 1% of earners who are capturing all the income gains in the US economy. Hard data shows it’s more like the top 40%. “The notion that only the 1% are doing well is ridiculous,” says economist Stephen Rose of the Urban Institute.” The real wealth gap, he says, is between the top 40% of earners, who tend to have the skills to succeed in the digital knowledge economy, and the bottom 60%, who have less relevant skills.

I see a lot of truth in economist Stephen Rose's talk about the 40%. It's the growing gaps between all income classes that's a big problem.

I'd add that rising house values can add significantly to the gaps. Gaps between renters and owners, more struggle for first time home buyers, gaps between regions.

Rather than just hating 1 class of people, we need better economic policies. Better distribution of wealth, better partnership between government and private sector, investment in domestic infrastructure and so forth.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Finally, a listing honestly says Bellingham, WA. among worst cities in America. Cost of living versus wages.

Interesting Bellingham Herald article. Is Bellingham among the worst cities in America?

Finally, a pretty honest listing that might give some folks pause about moving to Bellingham.

From article it says. The study found that “a typical home in (Bellingham) is valued at more than $300,000, considerably higher than the national median home value of $181,200. While this suggests some level of prosperity among residents, compared to area income levels, area housing is not particularly affordable. The median home value is 7.3 times greater than the median income, making Bellingham one of the least affordable cities in the country.”


While the city scored well for educational attainment – 43.7 percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree – Bellingham’s higher-than-average poverty rate also was a negative. In Bellingham, 21.4 percent of residents live in poverty, far more than the national rate of 15.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

I'm lucky to be among the few non owners in affordable housing. There are some good things about living here. Friends, activities, dancing, bike riding and so forth, but it's a very hard city to become established in. Expensive housing, due in part to it's popularity as a retirement and college community. Hard to find a niche for middle aged workers, but if one has found a niche and an affordable place to live, it can be nice. A bit of the "Seattle Chill," however. North westerners can seem quite withdrawn and even clickish at first.

Here's this from another ranking in article.

Bellingham rated 15th among the 25 most hungover cities in America, according to Using business and research data, the site says 7.9 percent of people in Bellingham admitted to heavy drinking and 19.6 percent admitted to binge drinking. The city also rated high in the number of bars, alcohol stores and alcoholic-beverage-producing establishments per capita.