Monday, November 28, 2022

If the new Republican House turns it's back on trying to solve climate change and trying to bring transparency to Trump's tax returns.

After many years and lots of wrangling by lawyers, each getting their fees, the Supreme Court has finally removed the last obstacle to more transparency in Donald Trump's tax returns.

The House committee investigating these things will, supposedly, gain access to the returns just in the "nick of time," before next year when the House returns to Republican rule.

Seems likely that Republicans will abolish that committee so I hope committee members have thought ahead. Maybe some Democrats can still keep access to the returns, even if the committee gets abolished.

Maybe even the public will gain access, but at least some lawmakers should be able to maintain access, hopefully.

I also hear that the Republican House is likely to abolish a committee that tries to deal with climate change. Attitude, in the Republican led House, might become "just forget about trying to address that issue." "Don't worry, be happy."

This, while the US and most other countries, in the world, continue to fall short of carbon reduction goals that were set a few years back at the Paris Climate Change Conference.

Given the fossil fuel technology we are still using today, it isn't easy to meet those goals while continuing to live in big homes and drive big cars.

There are wealthy oligarchs and upper middle class all over the world plus many of the world's poor are aspiring to have at least some of what upper middle class and the oligarchs have.

I am plenty warm in a shared building as winter arrives in Bellingham

Colder weather has arrived in Bellingham and it's nice to be in my well heated little apartment where the heat is included in my rent.

As I bike around town, I wear layers with a warm jacket as top layer. I'm still comfortable.

Where I am now, the heat is quite good, but I remember another form of public housing, back in the 1970s when my dorm room at Fairhaven College wasn't quite as warm.

Back then, I was taking physics 101 where one of the topics was about heat flow. "The second law of thermal dynamics." I remember putting that learning to practical use when I pointed a small fan at the radiator in my room. The room quickly heated up to over 70 degrees. Moving air transfers heat.

This solution wouldn't work for all heating systems, but in the case of the dorms, there was a chokepoint at the radiator in our rooms. The radiator was pretty small so it didn't have much surface area to transfer heat from the hot water, flowing through the radiator, to the air in the room. The fan brought more heat out of the passing hot water.

Were I am now, the baseboard radiator is the full width of my apartment. Plenty of room for heat transfer so no fan needed. Both places use a centralized source for the hot water. Here it's from a gas boiler on the first floor. We also have some of our energy from electric solar panels on the roof and a heat pump system they call "geothermal."

New technologies provided from various government grants.

At Western's campus, which includes the Fairhaven College Dorms, the heat comes from a central boiler plant on campus. One of my interests has been heating systems so I remember touring the steam plant at WWU back in my college years. More recently someone in maintenance, for this building, showed me around the system here.

Several years ago, there was an open house on the roof of another Bellingham Housing Authority Building. A look at the solar systems on the three Bellingham high rises. Back then, one of the tour guides was Alex Ramel who is now a state legislator.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A better term than institutionalized racism.

I've never liked the term "institutional racism" since civil rights laws have removed overt forms of racism officially practiced by institutions. Racism still exists, but it morphs into forms that escape civil rights laws.

"Historical racism" might be a more useful term. The lingering effects of past history when racism was more institutionalized. For instance today's restrictive zoning for "single family" leading to high housing costs in so many neighborhoods. This continues to perpetuate some segregation of race based, in part, on who's grandparents were able to buy property in certain neighborhoods of the 1940s and 1950s. This effects who has access to inheritances today which still effects who can afford to live where.

Friday, November 18, 2022

World passes 8 billion population mark around the time of COP27 Climate Change Summit

World population is now passing 8 billion. Growth is said to be slowing, but still high in places like Egypt; happens to be where COP27 was held.

Population growth and climate change are seen as causes for larger migrations of people in future years.

I saw one article saying this leads to political pushback in shortrun, but still could be a benefit to the economies and talent pools of northern countries in the long run.

I'd say we would have to fix our housing shortage and traffic problems first. USA would need to plan for more density and less dependency on the automobile to accommodate a huge flow of immigrants.

The flow exacerbated by bigoted anti human rights and anti LGBTA policies in much of the non western nations. Nations that still oppress alternatives to procreation as the only lifestyle choice.

I read that world population growth is slowing, but still high in a few nations like Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Congo.

Egypt, site of recent Climate Conference, has little land area and it's water supply, from Nile River, is in question. Growing needs up river; such as in Ethiopia, divert water.

Ethiopia is in civil war as well. There's likely to be a lot of suffering in non western nations due to population growth, bad governance and aspirations for more prosperous lives.

The issue of western nations paying reparations was a sticking point in the conference and it seems unlikely to happen. The west is struggling with it's own green transition and housing shortages.

Hopefully we can and will help the rest of the world adopt greener technology; if we adopt it ourselves which is still in question.

Maybe the rest of the world can teach us to live more simply, but that's still in question also.

I think the road to a brighter future will require big changes in thinking both in the traditional values of non western nations as well as the way space and resources are used in prosperous western nations.

Here in USA we will have to change our ways and plan for more density.

If changes happen in both the west and the non west, we can still welcome new generations and have a future.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Good thing the Democrats did better than expected in November 2022.

I'm glad the Democrats are still majority in the Senate. Democrats did better than many of the pundits and polls expected in the 2022 Midterm elections. I feared that there might be a Republican wave, but it was more of a little splash. There are jokes about Ketchup splashed on the walls of Mar-A-Lago Resort.

The Democrats at least play lip service to trying to do something about reducing climate change. My ideas aren't exactly the Democratic talking points that tend to contadict one another. Like reduce carbon footprint, but still try and have cheap gas.

Rich, yuppie neighborhood associations, often liberal, versus construction of more housing; including affordable housing. Yes the Democrats are a party of the "big tent." They seem less authoritarian that Republicans, or at least the iron fist of Mitch McConnell's nomination and confirmation process for the Supreme Court.

Within the framework of the big tent, I can function. The outcome of the tent may not always represent me, but it does seem like, as President Biden has said, democracy itself could be in the balance.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Face to face communication more popular than Metaverse

In the living room of my childhood home was a plant called the Split Leaf Philodendron. New leaves would appear, at the top, as it reached for the ceiling. Soon it got there and mom said, "it's a nice plant, but where is it going to go next?"

That might be what's happening to Facebook as well as the rest of the world economy. Can one keep growing on a limited planet? Another miscalculation, that Zuckerberg is said to admit to, is thinking we would go more cyber than ever. More into the Metaverse versus real face to face interaction.

This trend was strong during the pandemic, but suddenly another shift in behavior. People are coming out of their cocoons and meeting face to face again.

Real "brick and mortar" dancing, dinner groups, discussions, even bowling. It's a good thing to see things opening up again after the pandemic.

I know, everyone isn't going out on the town again, but so many have that it seems like life is all but back to normal. Normal, just in time for another winter to set in, possibly making the pandemic still worse again.

I still use Facebook for it's original intent and I get out and about town. I try to have communication on many levels.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

When fickle voters keep swinging left, right, left, right, left.

Even if this election leans Republican, hopefully the road doesn't go all the way to fascism.

During the watch of Republicans, the economy could tighten up and go into recession anyway.

The Fed has been raising interest rates to try and take some of the inflationary pressure off of supply chains. This could lead to belt tightening and consumers grumbing at who's in power; their newly elected officials.

Climate change is still real and can take it's toll. Whoever is in power gets the blame. If Republicans are in charge, in various states and Congress, they may have a rough go of it.

Voters often change their minds pretty fast. In UK, conservative tax cuts were taken off the table quickly when the markets got nervous about unsustainable debt and the British Pound took a pounding.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Why political debates tend to put those wishing to reduce climate change on the defensive.

Sign I sometimes bring to Bellingham Peace Vigil.

Some people might think I'm judgmental of people who drive cars. I realize that automobiles are the way most folks get around in our society. Some of my best friends drive cars.

The main thing I worry about is the way issues are framed in media and public discourse. Democrats and folks taking action against climate change are being hammered by the negative news about high gas prices. Republicans find this fertile ground for talking points.

I think society may have to accept high gas prices as a price for addressing climate change. Yes, it's harder on low income people, but we do need more thinking outside the box. Owning a car is often more expensive than public transit, if public transit is available and convenient in an area.

We need to connect the dots for longer term solutions. Technology can solve some of these problems for us; such as electric cars, solar energy and if we can develop hydrogen fusion.

Total reliance on private cars has other drawbacks as well; such as all the space taken up for parking as well as the safety issues.

Until green technology becomes widely available, average consumers do need to practice conservation.

One thing that bothers me is how so much of the political debate is about blaming someone; rather than solving problems. On the left, people tend to blame the oil companies; such as opposing pipelines and refineries that are still needed to keep the economy intact. Sometimes, there is even violent sabotage which can give Republicans more anti crime talking points. Yes, we can blame business and advertising for some of this situation, but human behavior, in mass, is very powerful. Republicans tend to emphasis personal responsibility. They certainly have their problems, but the idea of personal responsibility has merit.

Personal responsibility may not explain everything. We do tend to think in extremes of either or, but it is an important part of the discussion.

We need to rethink the discussion about personal responsibility and not turn all that turf over to the Republicans.

There is more to responsibility than just the typical Republican line that goes, "I was on drugs, I hit bottom, then went on the straight and narrow, got a job, worked my way up and now I'm a multi-millionaire."

There are other self help stories that lead to such things as health and community connection in one's personal life. The road to happiness doesn't always lead to becoming a multi millionaire.

We, as consumers and voters, do have more power than we often realize.

Too much blaming, on both sides, leads to much of the political vitriol.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

I hope Elon Musk's ego and problems swallowing Twitter doesn't take down SpaceX

I'm thinking Elon Musk might be having buyer's remorse upon buying Twitter. It's a likely speculation as he did try to back out of the deal; then he went ahead, maybe due to legal / contract issues.

I wouldn't know the details. It's above my paygrade; so to speak.

He might have bought something that will implode, or at least go down in value. Partially due to his management style. I'm not a fan of social media based on sound bytes anyway.

I'll admit, I have been a fan of SpaceX, one of Elon Musk's other companies. I'm a fan of innovation in science and space. SpaceX has done well. Sometimes private sector can innovate in ways that government is more clumsy at.

Still, SpaceX wouldn't be that far along if it wasn't for the lucrative business they have gotten from NASA (government) as a customer.

Public private partnership can be a good thing.

Musk's Ego may has gotten him into a few binds. Hopefully that situation doesn't sink SpaceX.

Corporate executives like to say things like "I built this," which may be partially true. I prefer a concept, expressed by former President Obama. Our personal triumphs "stand on the shoulders of others."

He couldn't have built it without his employees, the larger community and those who have built before us.