Sunday, January 29, 2006

President Bush Refutes Fundamentalism?

It's an old law.

Going around that 1978 law requiring a court order before ordering wiretapping on US citizens.

Does this mean modern circumstances make old laws and prohibitions obsolete? Moral relativism?

I never thought I would hear someone, who allies himself with the religious right, advocate tossing the law just because it's old and possibly no longer useful in a modern situation.

I am not enough of an expert on that law to debate whether the President needed to bypass it, or not. Maybe the writers of that law put enough provisions it in so the court order could be obtained in a timely manner. Then the President was foolish to bypass it.

On the other hand, maybe that law means this. "When a terrorist is about to strike, you call the court and hear that you have to wait till the next business day, after 9." Too late.

I don't know, since I am not a legal expert, especially on that law.

Usually our nation's laws are more flexible and relevant to modern needs than so many of the old moral codes of religious fundamentalists.

It is interesting to hear Bush, who panders to the religious right, those guardians of rigid, laws and old morals, say, "it's an old law."

"Don't obey when it gets in the way."

That rhymes.

"Don't obey when it gets in the way." Could become the next Republican campaign slogan?

Moral relativism. It's getting some new converts.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Domestic partnership in Washington State


One piece of good news

Civil Rights legislation has just been extended to include sexual orientation and trans gender status in the state of Washington. It passed by 2 votes in Washington State Senate. Passed with a more comfortable margin in the state house. The governor plans to sign it. Good news.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Glut of highly educated career seekers, is America a doormat?

I once heard, on the radio, about someone from India coming to USA for a "better job." Soon after they got here, the better job was out sourced back to India.

They went back.

It seems like America can be a door mat. People coming here for opportunities and corporations sending jobs elsewhere.

Everyone just trying to make a buck.

Then I heard about another person who finds better job opportunities in Ecuador than USA (especially Bellingham). We have such a glut of educated people that his BA didn't mean much in this job market. In Ecuador, even though he isn't making a lot of money, his BA means more. He is writing, teaching and so forth. Things he would never qualify for in Bellingham with just a BA. Good place for him to start building a resume of experience at least.

It also helps to have roots there and speak the language, or better yet several languages.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brokeback Mountain Movie Review


Well written, thought provoking, a very sad and tragic story.

Still, today, I know of so many gay people who have gotten married, heterosexually, like the two characters in Brokeback Mountain, even though it isn't, what could be called, their true "bliss path." The term "living life as a lie" is so common.

Spouses and kids suffer as well in these "marriages that shouldn't be." It's sad all the way around.

One can't blame the Brokeback characters for not really knowing what they wanted, after all it was Wyoming in 1963, before Stonewall, even.

Their gay relationship was troubled also as they suffered a lot of internal ambivalence over it, not to mention the threat of getting one's head bashed in with a crowbar for not toeing society's line.

A friend of mine wondered why they didn't just "drive their trucks out to California," San Francisco for instance, to better lives. Back in 1963, it is easy to believe that they wouldn't know anything about gay life anywhere else on the planet. Also, once marriage and kids are involved, there are commitments that are hard to walk away from.

The film followed their unhappy existences for 20 years, basically up to 1983 when more open gay role models could be found, but there was no hint of this in the film. The two main characters led insular lives seeming to have no knowledge of a larger gay world, or the news outside their own little worlds. They were focused on making a living, families, relationships and so forth; like a lot of people I know.

Good thing it was just fiction as this was such a sad tale, but many real people do seem to live these kind of "shadow lives." Living in the closet can be hard.

Following one's true "bliss path" is better, but it isn't always easy to know what that is, or to live it given society's pressures.


* The natural scenery was fantastic, but living that stifling life of small town America? - Harsh. Just passing through can be better. Above photo: Wyoming's Big Horn Mountains, from my 1991 bicycle tour across USA.

Monday, January 16, 2006

On Martin Luther King Day


I woke up to speeches, by Dr. Martin Luther King on my local NPR station today.

Part of one speech was about revolutions in technology and the social order. King was marveling about how the world is being knitted closer together with technical achievements like the jet engine. I heard him say, it is now possible to travel from Tokyo to Seattle with-in a day.

Due to the international dateline, and the speed of jet travel, someone in Seattle can ask a person arriving from Tokyo when they started their journey. The person from Tokyo can say the journey started "Tomorrow!" Crossing the international dateline can mean starting the trip Monday, Japan time and ending Sunday, US time.

King was discussing how the smaller world created by things like jet travel can also necessitate revolutions in human thinking where the entire world should become more like one brotherhood.

This speech was given many years ago. Now, we even have the Internet.

It was interesting to hear especially the day after Stardust space mission's successful landing with dust from a comet.

As our technology opens up potential for networking the whole world, so can our social thinking be inspired to strive for more of a world wide brotherhood.

I find this thinking more comforting than the idea that technology is evil. Of course, technology is a tool that can be used for either good, or bad, but it can inspire revolutions and changes in human thinking. That was a spirit of optimism which permeated the 1960s.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Stardust returns comet dust to Earth


Congratulations To NASA and the international scientists for successful return of Comet Dust to Earth

Screen shot from an old astronomy film and my flash.

The unmanned Stardust Mission has successfully returned it's sample of comet dust to Earth. This will help scientists explore cosmic questions about the formation of our solar system.

Asking cosmic questions brings the best out of humans.

Around the time of this great technical achievement, the news is also full of our failures here on Earth. A US missile hits house in Pakistan killing innocent people and missing the intended terrorist. Sometimes I feel like there is a war among fundamentalists. Traditional values "Christian capitalists," in the US, versus Islamic Fundamentalists.

I wish people would stop fighting over who has the best answers and look up at the stars more. Putting energy toward asking cosmic questions, with out already knowing the answers, is a step toward more peace in this world.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tear Out Parking Lot, Put In Paradise? Proposed Bayview Tower in Bellingham


Playing the song "pave paradise put in a parking lot" backwards.

Picture shows balloon in parking lot where tall residential building is planned. Balloon was bringing a camera up to different levels, for "sneak previews" of what could be seen from various floors.

Some people will miss that parking lot. There was recently a meeting about the proposal to build a 23 story condominium building in downtown Bellingham.

Bay View Tower it's called.

Could be a paradise at least for the people living there and hopefully for folks around it as well.

I don't drive or park, so I wouldn't miss the parking lot.

Then there is another "Paradise," here in Whatcom County. It's a neighborhood, I hear, is sort of the opposite of true paradise. That area, called Paradise, is located out by Kendall. It's way out away from things like county sheriff services. Has had problems with crime and so forth.

Maybe that paradise is too far from what people call "Infra Structure." It's in an unincorporated area away from city services.

The building, planned for downtown, Bellingham would be where services are close by. "Building up," instead of "sprawling out," but some folks will miss that parking lot.

40 parking spaces would be removed.

The building will provide parking for it's tenants, but some of the businesses, around that neighborhood, are worried.

Maybe replacement parking can be built somewhere else; like in a downtown Bellingham parking project.

I keep wondering why people are so dependent on cars? Aren't we trying to live in a paradise? Wasn't it "parking" that took out Paradise?

The meeting was a mixture of comments about that building. Some favored while others opposed it.

Of course, to be fair, not all the opposition to that building was based on lost parking. Some people just think the place will be too tall. It could stick out like a sore thumb, but several other buildings are planned in the area. They would be farther south, along State Street.

I like tall buildings even though I would like to see some sort of observation deck, or restaurant open to the public. Something that a tall building can provide to the larger community.

Little is planned for public access yet, but plans are never totally cast in stone. One person, at the meeting, complained that the building might be just a, "vertical gated community."

Yes, I do think there is too much of that. Gated communities, that is. There is just too much fear and distrust between differing income groups in this society.

There is some low income housing planned across the street, also a bit north on State Street. A mix of housing types. That is what downtown is becoming.

I like that better than zoning all the rich folks in one neighborhood while the poor live in another, or the poor can't afford to live here at all.

I'm still fortunate to have affordable rent in Bellingham. I just take up one small room with a tiny bathroom. Room for my computer and bicycle. Wouldn't it be paradise if people could all live my way? It's easier if one has no pets. Just don't have too much stuff.

Building planners are trying to work with the neighborhood. They discussed things like bringing flex-car to Bellingham at that meeting. Also the builders plan to make it a model in "green building" architecture.

There would be a rooftop garden that is less of a drainage problem, for the city, than the asphalt parking lot that's there now. Trees and plantings actually absorb, and then slowly parcel out the run off. They do that better than the asphalt of old parking lots.

Plants growing on a building. Could that be putting paradise where the parking lot was before?

On the other hand, maybe population shouldn't be growing. We are more likely to be able to keep things the way they were if people, the world over, would just cut back on having kids. I remember when people could rent an apartment for $100 per month. They could buy a house for $20,000.

Now most houses are well over $300,000. Condos and apartments take up less yard space so they are a bit more reasonable.

We're just running out of space, here on planet Earth. North Dakota is still there, but we do need some space for wildlife, agriculture, watersheds and so forth.

I do hear that Whatcom County's growth rate has slowed down a bit in the past few years. It's a bit slower than it was in the late 1990s. Slowing down, and more of it is in-filling.

I also read that USA population growth rate between 2003 and 2025 is projected to be at around 1.33% each year. Bellingham's growth has been 1.6 % per year between 2000 and 2005. It's a bit higher than the national average, but not like "double the national average."


* Growth figures in Dec. 27 05 Herald.