Sunday, November 26, 2023

The only part of modernity that some people like is prosperity, but the rest of modernity is needed.

There are quite a few folks around the world, as well as here in the US, who seem to dislike modernity except for only one thing; they like prosperity.

They may be suspicious of modern technology, or changing cultural and religious values, but they still strive to have prosperity. I like prosperity also, but the struggle for it can be a rat race made worse by the refusal to accept most modern technology and changing cultural values.

I'm somewhat of a minimalist, related to money and consumption, but I do like most of what's called modernity.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Environmentalists may be framing the climate change issue the wrong way.

I keep hearing some conservatives say that climate change is no big deal as the earth has seen it before; like during the ice ages.

I think the environmental movement may have made a mistake in saying that we are "harming" earth as if earth wasn't harmed when the area we call Seattle was under a mile of ice.

Maybe we should discuss things in more human, economic centric terms. Do we want big climate changes today and in the next few decades as mortgages are due and businesses are signing long term leases?

If one owns property in Florida, do they want it under seawater before their 30 year mortgage is paid off? Insurance companies are already asking these questions and they are powerful voices in our economy.

The climate change, that we need to think about, is related to us and our time frames that aren't tens of thousands of years. Our time frames are more about the decades that businesses are signing long terms leases for. For instance a hotel, being built in an area of ski resorts, needs to ask, will that ski area still have snow while we still owe the mortgage?

Like it our not, we are human and economic centric in our thinking, but that can still be used as a motivation to think about what we are doing to the climate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Should they raise user taxes on air travel to improve US air traffic control system? I would guess yes.

On the news it says the mass family time Thanksgiving travel weekend is starting with record air travel predicted. As usual I plan to stay local. There are some community events within easy walking or biking distance from me. I can meet new people and so forth.

As for the national issue, they say our air traffic system is stretched nearly to the breaking point. As for the need for more money, a simple fix is to increase the user taxes that airlines and the flying public pay to run and expand the system. That could cut down on the growing demand addressing the problem that way. It could also help fund the staff and equipment needed to upgrade the system.

Cutting demand does mean disruption to some plans and local economies so it wouldn't happen without it's critics, but seems like the best way to go.

I've wondered how much the government subsidizes air travel, but tried to look that up and my eyes gloss over. Yes, it's complicated. I think most of the system is paid for by user taxes that airlines and the flying public pay, but some is subsidized; especially smaller airports to prop up more rural parts of the country where there is less "economy of scale."

Friday, November 17, 2023

Why, the purpose of the universe

I just heard about a book titled, "Why; the purpose of the universe." The author was interviewed on CKNW Radio, a talk station I sometimes listen to from Vancouver, BC.

Interesting. The book is about the middle ground between a universe designed by a god and a universe with basically no meaning. Both extremes are problematic and leave lots of questions; like "if the universe just happened, why are the forces of nature so carefully balanced so as to allow this type of complex universe?"

On the other hand, the designer that so many religions describe, seems unlikely as well; I'd add especially fundamentalist religions that claim they know, for sure, how that god works.

I've always thought there must be some middle ground. The interview didn't mention liberal religions, but I did grow up in a liberal church. As far as I know, the liberal church, I grew up in, doesn't claim to know all those answers either, but the questions are still out there and worth thinking about.

I find the idea of a meaningless universe pretty disturbing, but I also think that most people's opinions about "why the universe is here" are not supported by real evidence.

I think the idea of purpose, in the universe, is comforting and sets better with human psychology. Discarding it, all together, could lead to more despair and mental illness.

The interview was short, but thought provoking. I like thinking about these big topics.

I must admit I don't attend church services, but I still like what goes on in some churches. The main reason why I don't attend is the same reason I don't often go to movies, theater or other things where I'm just in an audience. I like interactivity, rather than sitting watching figures on a stage; my same feeling about sporting events.

I do like discussion groups and other community activities that often happen in churches as well as in other places.

Friday, November 10, 2023

My first time in San Francisco. Spring 1974.

A trip down memory lane. My first visit to San Francisco, Spring 1974; my freshman year in college at Bellingham. Judith (my sister who, back then lived in Bellingham) and I went to visit a brother Jack (back then a grad student at Stanford; Palo Alto area).

On our way to the Bellingham Greyhound Station (then on State Street) I gave a dollar (maybe a quarter back then) to a pan handler. My sister implied that giving to pan handlers could be overwhelming in the big city, but ironically that was the only pan handler who approached us, as I remember at least.

Most of our time was spent in Palo Alto area for the visit, but we planned a sightseeing trip to San Francisco; often affectionately called "The City."
Photo from old postcard showing downtown and Trans America Pyramid.

I forgot how we got up there; maybe by car or transit.

During my childhood, San Francisco seemed like a dream city by the Golden Gate Bridge. Home of some powerful 50,000 watt radio stations that provided a slight connection between my hometown life in Pullman and that city by the bay.
Old postcard from the 1970s. KGO is no longer a talk show station.

By the time I got to college, my view of that city became more tainted and a bit grimy, however. I had learned more about it's problems as well.

As I remember, we divided our sightseeing day into two parts. Morning at the De Young Museum and an afternoon of walking around looking at downtown buildings (my idea).

All I remember, from the museum, was some long lines, echoing spaces and lots of children on tour as if all the schools were taking field trips at once.

I remember snacking in a cafeteria and I guess the only display I remember was a moon rock. It was in a glass case guarded by a security guard.

The rest of the museum must have gone into my memory as a blur. Museums can be overwhelming with information overload; looking and reading quickly while moving on to the next.

Afternoon was walking around downtown. The buildings were quite fascinating, but there was a spooky, somewhat dangerous feel to the city.

As we passed the studios of one of the radio stations that I even had dreams about during childhood, the building looked small. It was KGO which was, back then, located in the somewhat scruffy Tenderloin District. As I remember, from lots of listening to that station it was at 277 Golden Gate Avenue.

Doors were locked tight, but my brother was able to find a doorbell, I think. A security guard only opened the door a slight crack and said, "no tours." He then shut the door quickly. Back then, a crime called the "Alphabet Bomber" was in Bay Area news.

The rest of our walk was more interesting with lots of beautiful vistas, art, architecture, cafes and so forth.

When we got to Trans America Pyramid the doors were open and a guard in the lobby said we could go up in an elevator to an office that wasn't leased so it was open for showing to potential tenants; I guess. That office was near the top; the actual top being a pinnacle, of course.

Another guard, in that lofty space, was quite friendly. We visited while taking in the panorama. The view was spectacular, but the windows only faced one direction, as I remember.
We stepped into the Hyatt Regency at Embarcadero and saw this impressive atrium. It was open to the public and full of shops and places to eat on the main floor. Picture from old postcard.

After our walk through downtown, I think we concluded that our walk around downtown was the most interesting part of the day.

I've been there a few other times in more recent years including passing through during bicycle trips down the coast.

Monday, November 06, 2023

On a note of optimism, the Gay Games 2023 are being held in Hong Kong.

Yes, Hong Kong that is pretty much controlled by Mainland China which rivals USA in economic stature. There is worry about how China deals with human rights, but at least the Gay Games can proceed in Hong Kong.

There are some issues, but the games can go forward. Strict covid shutdowns, in Hong Kong's recent past means that the Gay Games also had a backup plan; Guadalajara, Mexico. This year's games are taking place in two venues. Some Hong Kong human rights activists called for the Games to be cancelled saying organizers "have aligned themselves with pro-authoritarian figures responsible for widespread persecution against the people of Hong Kong".

Taiwan is not sending athletes to Hong Kong but to Guadalajara, citing concerns over the the National Security Law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.

China's government did not send officials to the opening ceremony, warning the organizers, in August, that the Games must be conducted in a “lawful, safe and orderly manner”. Regina Ip, convener of the city’s top decision-making body the Executive Council, was the only pro-establishment figure at the opening ceremony, despite calls from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers for her to resign.

"The holding of the Gay Games in Hong Kong is strong testimony to the diversity, inclusion, and unity of our city," Ip said in her welcoming speech. "Equal opportunity and non-discrimination are highly treasured by our government and our people."

Opposition did not dampen the excitement, spectators chanted, cheered and waved before the opening ceremony.

“This is a good idea because especially China is not very fond of the gays. So this is to become visible in China as queer people,” said Gerrit Schulz, 80, a participant from Berlin.

My comment plus excerpts from article in Reuters.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Whatcom County does need a new jail. The old one is close to the breaking point in 2023

I plan to vote for the jail (new facility for incarceration and alternatives to incarceration services) this time around November 2023.

Update. The measure won. November 2023.

Some people's insistence on advocating use of chloroquine for corona virus is an example of refusal to update their thinking with newer, better science.

Science keeps advancing, but the thinking of many people will latch onto an idea and not update their thinking as the science evolves. Often religion latches onto old concepts as well.

One example of refusal to update is the idea, I heard on newscasts at the start of the pandemic, that a drug used to treat malaria could possibly be used as therapy for the corona virus.

A few days after those early newscasts, it looked like they were finding newer evidence that it wasn't effective for corona virus. It could even cause more harm than good, but some people stuck to that idea while others moved on to what now appears to be more effective treatments.

This is an example of folks sticking with an early idea that offered some hope, but later was superseded with better ideas.

I moved on, quickly though I will admit that those early newscasts offered some hope, back in the first few days after the shut down. My hope came more from the broad concept that both treatments and vaccines were on the way, but not specifically about any one product.

Today the pandemic seems all but totally over and we have good vaccines plus improving methods of treatment. The virus may be less deadly now, than it was in the first year as; especially the Delta Variant was scary.

We seemed to have come a long ways since 2020 as things like dancing and social gathering have come back.