Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maybe Trump's video at Summit with North Korea could have put bicycles in a better light

The White House created "propaganda" video that so many people are talking about. Some news commentators are scoffing at this saying the White House just made a North Korean propaganda video. Those commentators might have missed the point. It seems like it's not a praise of North Korea, today, but instead, it's a sails job about what North Korea could become if it were to lay down it's nuclear weapons and have more normalized relations with the US and other countries.

When I watched it, the video reminded me of a corporate sales pitch. I think it was designed, not for general audiences, but for the North Korean leadership. A style of video they might appreciate. Looks kind of cheesy to us, but I have a feeling that a lot of our corporate videos, for things like new employee orientation, are similar.

I should be offended as I think the only bicycle shown was not very appealing. A few black and white pictures, placed in the video, reminded people of what North Korea is more like today, I guess. Fences, military things, poverty and a broken bicycle. This, as opposed to the whiz bang world of bright lights, economic prosperity and tall buildings. Photos from other cities such as Asian cities gaining prosperity. So much for their (the White House's) image of the bicycle. It's about wealth. Really, the bicycle can be wealth also, but they don't include everything. They also, of course, don't show our border wall.

Living the life

Some friends of mine that live in a collective household had a house party where the public was invited. I thought I would just drop by, but got to talking with quite a few folks. It was a fun and intelligent time for me tho I am not a big party person. I'm also getting up there in the years, but maybe that shouldn't stop me.

At one point, two folks passing through, from Seattle, invited me to join them as they checked out a few other weekend parties around the college neighborhood. I said, "this is probably the most interesting of the parties right here." They agreed and decided to stay. As they put it, "this party had a naked guy that looked like Jesus serving lemonade."

At the party, I saw that the house had installed a hot tub out in their garden. Next day I decided to ride past on my way to another errand to get a better look at the new addition. Didn't think anyone would be using the tub, but someone, I know, saw as I biked by and invited me to join in. I did for a bit. A serendipitous change of plans as I was on my way across town for something else.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

If the male clerk looks cute and friendly, I'll stand in the longer line. I've got the time.

More and more automation in the grocery business. See this little video about Ocado's grocery technology. I'm not a Luddite, but one wonders what role humans will play in the future.

This may sound outside the box, but as a customer, I sometimes find myself choosing the supermarket line that I stand in by how attractive the clerk is. In my case, how attractive the male clerk is.

This is a different criteria than the pure efficiency of the shortest line. I'm usually not in a hurry so there are other criteria than just getting out of the store the fastest. I realize, tho that conversation with the clerk is usually very brief. I'm not one to hold up the line when others are waiting. I have had some good, but brief conversations with clerks, especially when no one is waiting behind me. The looks of the clerk really doesn't matter that much once there is conversation. Looks just motivate my choice of checkout line, sometimes, especially when I don't know any of the clerks.

These are some of my thoughts on what humans can provide. The personal connection. Most of the time, however, the personal connection is not really that valuable in the efficient setting of a supermarket. In the future, maybe people will engage in deep conversation while machines take over the routine tasks.

On the other hand, even doing routine tasks can be meditative so we will need to keep some of those jobs around. It's just that pure efficiency shouldn't be the only criteria in life. Sometimes the slower checkout line is worth it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ideas about naked bike ride. Another fun year.

Here's a link to a few photos and mostly thoughts about riding in Bellingham's Naked Bike Ride for another year, 2018.

Below is text from one of the images that I set to "adult" in Flickr just to be on the safe side. You can see the text here if you haven't set your Flickr for adult. Other photos, in that tag, are safe and on open web, including one of me partially clothed. Even the "adult" one is taken from a distance, so not that risque. This year's display, on my gallery, is more about the commentary.

Dance party after 2018 ride

Taking part in the ride and the dance was wonderful. The feel of the energy, music and the friendliness of the people.

The staging area has been in photo zones during recent years so I keep my camera in my pannier not being one who rocks the boat. Along the South Bay Trail was a different matter. This is the one photo I got as I also didn't fumble with my camera while riding. Hard to capture the energy in just images anyway.

It's always sort of like a Shangri la aside from mainstream society. A bit like drinking from a fountain of youth tho folks from all ages, including my own, nearing retirement, were there. Most of the crowd was skewed toward the 20 somethings, but it seemed like people were mingling beyond those arbitrary boundaries. Soon after I arrived at the painting party before the ride, a young woman offered to paint me.

Weather was a bit cooler than last year so the gathering of riders and onlookers was slightly smaller. I think they counted 315 riders this year and more like 385 last year. Still enough.

The cool breeze added to my Shangri la feeling of the dance. Dancing generates heat and the breeze was refreshing. Air was flowing up from a wooded area across the South Bay Trail from the HUB Bike Shop where folks were gathered.

Some of the dancers were on top of a metal shipping container, up above the rest of the party.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Authentic art from the heart versus non discrimination. Maybe rules could be slightly bent to avoid a winner take all battle

Here in Washington State we have another artist versus non discrimination case. I guess it's similar to the case in yesterday's news about the baker in from Colorado. Here in Washington, the case is about a florist.

I can somewhat sympathize with the florist even though I am a supporter of LGBTQ civil rights. While I think civil rights that are based on sexual orientation are as valid as civil rights based on anything else, I also believe that there are lots of grey areas in laws. In some cases, rules can be bent versus trying to force everyone into a single mold. If I was getting married, I wouldn't want the person baking my cake or arraigning the flowers to be doing it under duress. For that important milestone in my life, I would want an artist who's heart was in my favor.

While saying this, I realize that our society is in a culture war and I do worry, a bit, about my side (basically left) often seeming to try and be reasonable, to acquiesce in the name of civility if the "other side" doesn't ever compromise or give an inch. There's a phrase that goes, "nice guys (or I should say nice people) finish last." It's too bad that we have gotten into such a "winner take all" culture war that each side feels we can't try and be reasonable.

Apparently, according to this video, the florist and the gay couple had a good understanding and respect for one another. She didn't mind referring the couple to another florist. They were even able to remain customers for other items, like buying flowers off the shelf that wouldn't require something from the heart of an artist. It wasn't until Washington State Attorney General got involved making this a test case for LGBTQ civil rights that it became a high stakes battle.

I believe civil rights laws, including LGBTQ rights, should stand, but I also believe in trying to be reasonable before things have to end up in court or in a winner take all war.

That being said, I do still worry about Republicans controlling pretty much all branches of Federal Government, these days. As for the culture war, we do need to elect more Democrats to office. At the same time, we, on both sides, can try and be, at least somewhat, accommodating of our fellow citizens.

This discussion about the Colorado case was interesting. I continue thinking flexibility in interpretation of laws can help versus a winner take all case before the Supreme Court. Especially this Supreme Court at the federal level as it's likely to not rule in our favor. Trump is breaking records appointing justices to federal courts that Congress seems to be all but rubber stamping.

Personally, I feel like sexual orientation is similar to religion in one way. People will sometimes say that race is genetic while sexual orientation is not. Well, religion is not genetic either and it's still one of the first 4 protected classes. Race, Religion, Creed and National Origin. Of course I also realize that sexual orientation may have deep biological roots; deeper than religion, but some would still dispute that.

As for whether religious rights has anything to do with the artist's claim for protecting her free speech, I don't feel religion should create a special exclusion. I would base my leniency, toward her, on the First Amendment and the right to not be compelled to express ideas one disagrees with.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

I'm socially liberal and fiscally not necessarily conservative, but realize we can't have it all. Life's trade offs.

Many people say they are socially liberal while being fiscally conservative. I can't really say that I am fiscally conservative as I have tended to vote for most taxes (except the recent jail measure). I also support quite a bit of domestic spending for things like parks, infrastructure, social services and so forth. Rather than saying I am fiscally conservative, I do understand that lots of things in life are trade offs. We can't have it all, tho it does seem like people, on both the left and the right, tend to be spoiled in American culture. I'm not really fiscally conservative, but I do realize we can't have it all. I also realize business has to remain viable to create a paycheck. It's basically a matter of balance.

One example of a trade off is the McCleary decision about school funding in Washington State. McCleary, as well as the subsequent hike in property taxes.

Lots of people, especially on the left, applauded that decision, but now folks are saying their property taxes have jumped up this year.

In the past, Washington voters have voted against state income taxes so most of our money, for education and so forth, comes from sales and property taxes.

I was never jumping up and down demanding more funding for schools, but I do realize that schools do have legitimate needs and the job of teachers is not easy. I did vote for Bellingham's recent school bond for some school expansions in our growing city. I also have tended to vote for ongoing levies for school operation.

Now it looks like taxes are going up, but property values keep rising. Teachers need to be able to afford to live in the districts they serve. I guess I realize that there is never a totally free lunch. Much of life is trade offs.