Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Most worry about 5G has been barking up the wrong tree. It's aviation safety, not the human body that folks should have worried about.

For years, I've heard people worry about 5G phone signals effect on the human body.

Seems like just about all real scientists were not worried about that, but now it seems like scientists ARE worried about conflict with airline flight control signals. Why haven't I heard about this worry until just the last few weeks?

Seems like there was so much static in the air from the other worries that the airline issue went unnoticed.

Like crying wolf, sometimes the real worries get buried under a clutter of concerns as so many worries seems to be just barking up the wrong tree.

US airline officials warn of ‘catastrophic’ crisis in aviation with new 5G service.

Bans on natural gas could be missing the real climate change problems

Something I've been thinking. Since much of our electricity, these days, comes from natural gas, I've been thinking it might not reduce fossil fuel consumption to have a ban.

Turns out, according to this article, gas burned in a home furnace can be 90% efficient, but when burned in a powerplant and then sent by transmission lines to electric heating in a home, only 45% efficient? I think really? Apparently power plants aren't that efficient. Lots of the waste heat goes up the cooling towers.

One of the problems is that modern homes tend to be bigger so more energy is used anyway, whether electricity or gas. That's closer to the real problem. If electricity, the grid is still too reliant on fossil fuels and (in this area, the US Pacific Northwest) hydro power. Hydro power is low carbon footprint, but does have an impact. Just ask the salmon.

Heat pumps can help, versus resistance electric heating, but they can be expensive.

We just need to use less in buildings, cars and so forth. We also need to speed up the greening of our energy sources.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Seems like home value inflation is overlooked, but it can lead to other inflation as wages try to catch up with the cost of living.

Lots of talk about inflation, today, which could be bad political news for Biden and the Democrats.

Yes, inflation is here and in home values and housing costs, it's been reality for a long time. Wages are trying to catch up and that can push up other prices.

Then there's the cost of gas. It's a fossil fuel so it may need to get more expensive for the planet. Still, there is a lot of grumbling about that, adding to misfortune for the Democrats.

It's not Biden's fault, but they aren't explaining things very well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Even in a world of zero population growth, some areas would still grow; areas where people want to live.

Some folks worry about declining population. Populations are shrinking in some countries, like Russia. It's still growing worldwide, but growth is slowing.

Less population would be desirable. There would be some adjustments to make in our current economic system that relies on growth of consumption.

Even in a world of no growth, some areas would still grow; areas where people want to live. There are many parts of the world that people are desperately trying to get out of.

Here in Bellingham, there is quite a bit of vibrancy related to people wanting to live here. New grade schools being built. I see cranes for a big grade school upgrade out my window. Sunnyland School.

Immigration to USA is said to have slowed significantly in the last year. This ought to calm the wall building fears of Republicans, but I'm not holding my breath.

Even with immigration slowed, I would guess that for every immigrant, who comes to USA either legally or illegally, there are many more who's dream it is to come to America.

Many more who dream of coming to Canada, certain European nations and Australia as well.

I doubt very many people wish to go to Putin's Russia.

There was recent news about someone who snuck into North Korea. Probably someone out of their mind.

Much of Bellingham's continued population growth comes from migration from other parts of USA, rather than immigration to USA which, at least temporarily, is said to be slowing down.

If the world weren't overwhelmed with population, various regions and nations could compete on the grounds of being good places to live. They would compete for attracting new residents and vibrancy.

It could mean that the good places to live would be in the ascendency. Good news for democracies and places that respect human rights.

Long lines at polling places in some states decreases right to vote, but Washington State has done much better.

Biden is pushing for laws to preserve voter access today. I'm not following this issue closely, but got to thinking that we are pretty fortunate, here in Washington State. We have mail in voting rather than cumbersome polling places one has to stand in line at for voting.

Some states still have the old polling systems. For years, I keep hearing news about long waits at the polls in other states. Waits so long that voting becomes difficult and many working people have to choose between casting their vote or making a living.

Even when we did have the polling places, here in Washington, I don't remember long waits. We seem to have a better voting system than a lot of other states even back when we had polling places.

Other states need to fix those problems in their state or I agree, the Federal Government will need to step in to preserve access to the ballot.

Then there is the whole problem of gerrymandering. Another big topic.

Monday, January 10, 2022

With home values and prices going up so fast across America, of course there's inflation. These costs create the need to push up wages and other prices.

According to an article, I just read, about a poll, it says Americans are more worried about inflation coming back than about threats to democracy. Poll indicates that Democratic Party' s strategy of campaigning on worries about democracy might not, as the old phrase goes, "play in Peoria;" as in will it play in places like Peoria, Illinois.

Yes, I say we do have inflation with home values going up around 20% here in Bellingham; 16% nationwide in the last year. That's got to spread to other inflation in wages, as people need to pay more for rents, first time homebuying and so forth. Then other prices go up as businesses charge more to pay the higher wages.

I guess people need to understand inflation better. It is happening, but it isn't necessarily the end of the world if wages can keep up with other prices.

Problem is, most people's wages usually don't keep up. Maybe they keep up with some prices, but certain things, like housing and medical insurance, can be outliers.

Inflation is not necessarily Biden's fault, but it needs to be better explained, I guess.

Lots of people benefit when assets, such as houses and stocks, go up so one hardly ever hear politicians, or the media, talk about this as a root of the dastardly "inflation" that so many people say they don't like.

The Fed creating so much money and low interest rates helps to drive this situation. Still, we have to print money to fund government, the military, police, civil society, disaster relief, Medicare, coronavirus relief and so forth.

It's going to happen, but if we can stay calm, it's manageable. One way to cool inflation is to raise taxes. One way to cool inflation is to send the economy into a recession. Cause asset values to plummet.

We can't "have it all" and I'd also say, "be careful what you ask for as you might get it."

So many Americans are in poor health anyway. The virus was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Omicron variant of the virus is surging, but symptoms seem to be less severe for most people; especially folks who are vaccinated.

Problem is, there is still a surge in hospitalizations with hospital staff near breaking point. I just got to thinking that part of the problem is just poor health in general. The post war baby boom is aging. The virus is the straw that broke the camel's back.

Yes, precautions and vaccinations are important, but this problem and shortage of healthcare staff may persist. Lifestyle choices, age and other factors matter also.

All through this pandemic, I've heard that heart disease is still the number one killer. Problem with the virus is that it can lead to premature death and it's a big new disease that's been added to the stack.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Do we need this proposed law in Washington State since distrust of elections is less of a problem here than in some other states?

Washington Gov. Inslee said that he wants lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor for elected officials and candidates to spread lies about election results.

One wonders if this is necessary here in Washington State as I think the problem of distrust of the election process is much worse in other states.

Here in Washington, our election processes seem to work well and there is less distrust of government functioning. Such a proposal, in Washington, could be seen as overkill and it could create unnecessary political blowback to Inslee.

The fate of such a bill is dubious given court challenges.

One wonders if it is worth the political capital Inslee might be spending to get this bill passed.

On the other hand, lies, distrust of elections and even violence is a serious problem, nationwide. I think it is more serious in states where politics tends to lean more Republican. Such a bill as this proposal would not likely get to first base in those states.

It does seem like disdain for government is strong; especially among Republicans. I think to the point of anarchy.

I make a connection between severe anti government sentiment and anarchy. Anarchy is, basically, no government.

Even small government, like the famous concept from Grover Norquist, of making government so small one can "drown it in a bathtub," is a dangerous sentiment.

Many of the people who complain the most about government do rely on government for public safety, the military, veteran's benefits, Medicare and so forth.

Too much government and beaurocracy can be a problem, but government is part of the balance along with the private sector.

It does seem strange when people, who wave the flag and call themselves patriots, also say that our (state, federal and local) governments are evil. Kind of a strange irony; especially when it comes from politicians who are in power in the government.

I see this as more of a problem in states that tend to lean Republican. It's hard to say what the best solution to this problem would be. Is passing a law the best solution? It's worth consideration, but the proposal does bring up a lot of questions.

Meanwhile, here in Washington State, it does seem like we have a good election process. Other states may have honest election processes also, but public trust of those processes is more in question.

Remember, I do think outright hatred of government can lead to anarchy. Yes, we did have the Chopp anti police zone that came from the far left in Seattle, Washington, but I tend to think that is part of the action and reaction between right and left extremes.

The Chopp Zone happened in Washington State, but it happened while Trump's extreme presidency was stirring up divisiveness; almost for the fun of it; Trump being a better comedian than president.

Divisiveness and derisive comments about other types of people can be good for media ratings, but calmer tempers and civil society is more to my liking.

For the most part, we do seem to have civil society, here in the state of Washington.

We have mail in balloting in Washington. I like it, but I know some folks don't trust it. Some other states still have polling places complete with the problems of long lines, I'll have to say. We also seem to have a tradition of moderate, responsible Republican Secretaries of State who hold the office overseeing our elections. Our recent Secretary of State, Republican Kim Wyman, was chosen by Democrat Joe Biden for a job related to election security at the national level. By partisanship still alive, I guess.

Years ago, we had Ralph Munro, also a Republican, who I had some personal correspondence with.

That office also over sees state archives and Munro noticed a self published (by photocopy machine) book I did on my 1989 bicycle tour around Washington State. It was on display at the local branch of our State Archives. He was here for a visit and picked up my book. I wasn't there at the time, but people, I know, who work there mentioned that to me. I wrote him, after hearing that and it started a personal correspondence. I sent him some of the books I did about later bicycle trips and he always wrote back appreciating my sharing.

He had a reputation for good relations with the public.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happiness. Low expectations can make satisfaction more attainable

There is a lot of talk about Nordic countries being the happiest places. Social services are good, but there is another side of the coin that makes it work. Reasonable expectations about life.

I've often thought that happiness is a function of two things. Expectations versus reality. If expectations are too high, folks can be disappointed. One can be happy with less.

I would guess this also allows people, like the Fins, to accept things like higher taxes, smaller homes and so forth so that their egalitarian society is more feasible. Here in USA, we seem to want it all.

Here is an interesting article from Slate. The Grim Secret of Nordic Happiness.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Years Eves past. The year 2000

Visual Y2K piece I did in 1999.

During my high school years, I'd follow the new year's progress across several time zones by picking up distant AM radio stations at night. Starting in the Central Time Zone and then the Mountain.

When New Year's came to the Pacific, our family would be gathered around the television to watch a replay of the ball dropping in Times Square.

Back then, folks looked forward to the distant year 2000 thinking it would really be a momentous event.

By the time 2000 arrived, most of the big celebrations were cancelled due to terrorism fears. A terrorist plot had just been unraveled. It was planning to bring bombs to the US via the Blackball Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles.

Later it was found that the plot was destined to Los Angeles, but celebrations were cancelled all over, including in Seattle. I had plans to take the bus to Seattle anyway where my friend Rick Segreda was planning to usher in the New Year.

There was also worry about the Millennium Bug, known as Y2K. Computers all over the world had been programmed with a 2 digit clock that didn't take a new Millennium into account. There was worry about how this would effect banking and all of civilization.

Survivalists were building bunkers and hoarding food to ride out social chaos. Meanwhile institutions were spending lots of money upgrading their computer systems for a smooth transition.

I predicted that Y2K worry was mostly hype.

Someone sent me a news clipping, about this poor fellow, who had worked on an underground bunker for his mobile home. He had lots of fuel stockpiled. As he was doing the finishing touches on his bunker, he accidentally set the fuel tank on fire with his welding torch. He lived, but everything he owned was blown to bits. His self fulfilling prophecy came true.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, the area around the Space Needle, where a big celebration had been planned, was fenced off. The friends, I was with, drove down there to take a look. It was a strange sight.

The Space Needle, itself, looked ready for a new era as powerful spotlights shown up into the sky from the top of the needle. It looked futuristic. It was off in the distance behind cyclone fences and an abandoned Seattle Center.

Car headlights, in the city, looked futuristic as well. The beginnings of the use of bright blue, even purplish blue, headlights. Xeon lights were becoming trendy. Those headlights had a UFO look to me.

Eventually, we parked at Gas Works Park and watched fireworks set off from the Space Needle.

Just before midnight, clouds rolled in around the Space Needle obscuring most of the view. It looked kind of like sheet lightning. A few local fireworks, set off from cars in Gasworks Park, made people nervous with all the terrorism talk.

I was back to my radio for the first hour, or so, of the year 2000.

Listening to a talk show, on Seattle's KIRO Radio, with people grumbling about what a farce they thought the celebration was. Instead of a grand new beginning, it was this. Fireworks you couldn't really see because of the clouds.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Environmentalists need to go after consumers as much as they go after producers

The traditional left tends to attack producers versus consumers.

Warren wants to crack down on banks that invest in fossil fuel production. At the same time, I think something like a carbon tax or less incentives to drive and more incentives for public transit could work better.

I guess people, on the left, shouldn't grumble when gas prices go up since I hear that fuel production is slowed by the disinvestment in fossil fuel that has happened so far. Warren seems to want to ramp up this disinvestment more.

Hurray for higher fossil fuel prices, but this may not be that well understood by the consumer. One danger is return of Republicans to Congress in the next election from angry consumers.

We need to think in terms of the "big picture;" not just each of our selfish little pieces of it.

Some of these reforms, that she is proposing, might not be a bad idea, however. Transparency, so we can see where our financial institutions are still investing in fossil fuels. Yes, it's good to have eyes open.

Eventually this has to effect the consumer. It's naive to think the consumer can avoid consequences. This is where everyone, from consumers to big business to government needs to transition to more walking, bicycling, public transit, electric vehicles, smaller more efficient living spaces, better city planning and so forth.

Business needs to be pushed in this direction, of course. Just pulling some fossil fuel production cards out from under the delicate card house of American society is problematic. It's problematic if people don't see these things in context of the big picture. The big picture being everyone being less dependent of fossil fuels.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Pfizer's new pill for COVID 19 could be an important breakthrough as for some people, cure is an easier sell that prevention.

Pfizer's new pill, approved yesterday, that can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization after coming down with COVID 19 could be a significant step toward reducing the pandemic.

Some people who are reluctant to do something, like a vaccine for prevention, might be more apt to seek a cure, if it's available, after catching the disease.

Prevention is often a harder sell.

Medical intervention for prevention can be analogous to the concept of a colonoscopy. When one is healthy, it can be a harder sell. Compared to a colonoscopy, it seems like the vaccination is easy. I had practically no side effects from the vaccine. Risk is low.

A colonoscopy is also low risk, but I didn't go for the colonoscopy until many years after I turned 50. It is more involved, with the prep to clean out the colon and so forth. The process is kind of a strange thought, though painless. Eventually I did the colonoscopy and it turned out okay.

There are some reasons why a colonoscopy may be unecessary. Other cancer screening technologies, for instance.

Seems like the vaccination is more of what they call a "no brainer." Benefits far outweigh the almost non existant downside.

At the same time, a surprising number of people are reluctant to take the vaccine. Due to that situation, an effective treatment for COVID seems like significant news for controling the pandemic.

I guess quite a few people are more apt to take action when actually faced with the disease. This, versus prevention when faced with the risk. Risk tends to be a concept that is more theoretical, I guess.

Elon Musk owes much of his success to government.

Interesting article from 2015 came up on my Facebook feed from LA Times. Yes, government has played a big role in the work of Elon Musk's enterprises.

In my opinion, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Often it does take a partnership of public and private enterprise to accomplish things.

Much of our public debate seems to be about which is better; private enterprise, or government. Often the two are intertwined for better, or for worse. It's much of the way our society functions. No one can fully take credit; like in the phrase, "it takes a village."

In Washington's 42nd Legislative District where I happen to live.

There has been quite a bit of national news about death rates from COVID 19 being higher among Republican leaning areas versus areas that vote Democrat. This due to lower vaccination rates among Republicans and other factors such as more resistance to mask wearing.

The spotlight of this news has come closer to home recently, here in Washington State's 42 Legislative district with the recent death of our state Senator, Republican Doug Erikson.

It isn't publically known whether Erikson was vaccinated, or not, but has been reported that he had Covid 19 during a trip to Elsalvador. He was medivacted to Florida where he was reported to be improving, but later reported to have passed away.

Wishing the best for him and his family.

I live in the 42nd district so he was my state Senator, even though I didn't vote for him.

Some people reading this wouldn't be familior with the 42nd District so here is a part of the story.

The city of Bellingham, where I live, is divided into two legislative districts; the 40th and the 42nd districts. The district line runs down certain city streets. Urban areas tend to be more liberal than rural areas.

40th district tends to go south from mid Bellingham while the 42nd district goes north. 42nd district includes rural northwest regions of Whatcom County.

Over the years, the 40th district usually sends Democrats to Olympia (our state capital) while the 42nd tends to vote more Republican. Erikson had held a state House of Represenatives seat from 1998 till 2010 when he ran for the state Senate and held that seat ever since.

Democrats have tried to elect a Democrat in that District, but Erikson was able to hold the seat. In 2018, the election was close, I think within a few hundred votes.

Next election will be in 2022.

Meanwhile, according to Washington State Constitution, the Republican Party is to pick a field of candidates to serve out the end of Erikson's term and the County Council chooses the final candidate from that field.

I'm remembering one year when it seemed like there was a huge difference between the 40th and the 42nd districts. That was the year when the top two candidates from the 40th district were from the Green Party and the Democratic Party.

Washington has a system where the top two candidates from the primary ballot go on to the general election. While the 42nd elected Republican Erikson, in the general, no Republican was in the general election from the 40th district. In the 40th district, the Democrat beat the Green Party Candidate that year.

I was living in the 40th district at that time.

In reality, the two districts have more in common than it looked that year, but races are often fairly close.

I've lived in both districts since the line bisects Bellingham. Not that I've moved real often, but I have moved across that line so I am currently in the 42nd district.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

US population still growing, but easing quite a bit. Slowest growth rate since founding of USA.

I just heard on PBS Newshour that the rate of population growth in USA has been the slowest since the founding of our country during a year long period that ended July 2021. The pandemic has led to several changes including an increased death rate. Not happy news.

Other less disturbing news has been a slow down in birth rates and a slow down of immigration. Some Republicans still say that the border is "out of control," but that contention doesn't seem consistent with the data. Depends on how one would define out of control.

In that period of time, overall US population still grew by 400,000, but that's a lower growth rate than other periods.

A 400,000 increase, across this big country with a current population of around 325 million, is a fairly small percentage growth rate. The population is still growing, but I would guess not at an alarming rate.

Toward the founding of USA, the overall population was lower, but the rate of growth, compared to existing population, was higher. That wasn't such good news for the Native Americans, indigenous peoples back then.

Maybe Build Back Better can still be modified and eventually pass in 2022?

Tighten up eligability for the child tax credit. Some of the higher income families may not need it as much. Lower the income ceiling for eligability?

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Child tax credit big stumbling block for Joe Manchin. Children are expensive. Being child free has some virtue.

From what I've heard, the biggest stumbling block preventing Joe Manchin from supporting Biden's Build Back Better plan is the child tax credit. It has a big price tag. Without that, it seems like Manchin could have supported the rest of the bill.

Yes, I guess children are expensive.

I'm for taking good care of children (who wouldn't be). At the same time, the cost of having children is something to think about. Fiscal conservatism may go against "family values."

I'm not a big fan of family values; especially the way conservatives push it. Ironically, it's usually conservatives who are fiscally conservative. This irony is something to think about.

In this overpopulated world, it's a good idea to think carefully before jumping into the act of having children. Ironically, we owe that to the children.

The most important gift we can give to future generations is a world that is not overburdened with too many children and not enough resources, be it fiscal resources or natural resources.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Healthy lifestyles are good, but evidence tested, scientifically based medicine is sometimes necessary.

As for low tech natural remedies, versus higher tech medicine, one of my favorite phrases (since childhood) is "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Still, I think technological medicine is needed at times. I'm not much for folk remedies; especially if they are also for sale.

As for a regular doctor, one of my regular doctors would often quote that phrase himself. He is an advocate of bicycling and healthy lifestyles, but he also uses technology when it's needed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Metaverse. They say that the best defense is a good offense.

When Facebook announced Metaverse during the news about the whistleblower, I remembered this phrase; "the best defense is a good offence." A common strategy in business, politics and sports. Donald Trump used that strategy repeatedly. Sometimes called "doubling down."

My guess is, behind the scenes, Facebook may be working, some, to fix a few of those algorithm issues, but once someone goes on the defensive, publicly, like the Democratic Party often does, it's easier to get pushed around by the competition.

It's the game, it's business and its politics, unfortunately.

I think one of the big problems that drive algorithm design is the push to be on top.

Often a business is more responsible if it finds it's niche. When it knows it's limits, finds it's niche and serves that well.

There is pressure to go beyond. Pressure from having to pay the bills or just the ego of being top dog.

I do think that Facebook does some things very well. There can be a lot of good communication here that isn't as easy to find elsewhere. As with pretty much everything in society, oil companies or whatever, it's a mixed bag.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Elon Musk person of the year, a mixed bag

Time Magazine has chosen Elon Musk as person of the year for 2021.

Time's choice tends to be based on having a big impact, not necessarily virtue.

Musk is now richest person in the world and one thing I will say in his favor, he isn't just parking his money in a safe haven. He's investing it in things that could be transforming society. Electric cars, batteries and pushing private enterprise to space.

If it wasn't for government and NASA, however, private enterprise wouldn't be into space as much. NASA could still be Musk's most lucrative customer for putting payloads into space.

Yes, accomplishments like reusable rocket boosters are valuable for improving access to space with it's scientific and economic value.

I still wonder about the goal of colonizing Mars, however. At least in the foreseeable future.

Mars is still only 1/3rd the size of Earth. By comparison, it's a poor substitute.

In our solar system, for the time being, there's no place like home - Planet Earth, but science and discovery can help us preserve and live better on Earth.

Mars. By ESA & MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5648

Earth. By NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans - https://web.archive.org/web/20160112123725/http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001138.html (image link); see also https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_329.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43894484

Monday, December 06, 2021

I think that more than just the Reagan Revolution lead to wage stagnation, but that was a factor.

A pretty telling graph. About the time of the Reagan Revolution, wage growth, that had happened since WWII, stalled. I remember voting for Carter instead of Reagan in that election.

Still, I also remember thinking that part of the economic stall, that was starting at that time, had to do with environmental limits on middle class American consumption. That was the era of the energy crisis and other limits on land development, waste disposal, mining, logging and so forth.

Another factor is that world economic growth has continued in spite of the stall in USA wage growth. Much of that has to due with people rising out of poverty in places like China. USA is less "top dog" in the world.

Much of the growth in climate change has to do with the world starting to catch up with the way things were being done in USA.

A shift away from US based manufacturing has depressed wages, but it has also led to an abundance of inexpensive goods for the American consumer market.

As I remember, back in the days of the stronger middle class, products, such as shoes and electronics, were quite expensive relative to other things that people took for granted; like being able to afford health insurance and a place to live.

No doubt the Reagan revolution added significantly to income inequality. Much of the foundations for that revolution were laid in the 1970s and are still in effect today. Tax cuts that have mostly helped the already wealthy and upper middle class.

Case in point is California's Proposition 13. It passed in the 1970s to keep property taxes low. This was seen as a "shot heard around the world" leading to the Reagan Revolution.

An unexpected consequence of Prop 13 was that during the massive rise in property values, over the next few decades, home values went up into the millions of dollars while property taxes could not keep pace. Services, such as schools, suffered and some of that burden of taxes was shifted to other taxes as well.

From what I understand, in California, long term homeowners are grandfathered in with low taxes, but new residents, first time homebuyers and renters are priced out of the market.

These kinds of problems happen in other states as well, but California is a glaring example making housing, for many folks, unaffordable.

That's one of the big barriers leading to the demise of the middle class.

I never supported Reagan, but even if Democrats had held majorities during that period, I doubt middle class wage growth would have continued on that same postwar trek.

There are a lot of things "baked into the cake" that led to this change, including things like increased building costs related to concern about the environment.

In many ways, we have been spoiled by our economy. We expect so much in terms of cheap products, low taxes and a clean environment. Given the turn back to the right, politically, and the persistence of "traditional values," we have not adapted well to the changing needs for a more sustainable economy.

We can't really go back to the rising wage era when single family homes were the norm. That's the era when single occupancy vehicles, long commutes and big freeways were pushing forward. These trends were starting to hit their "limits of space" at about that time. Cities running out of space for freeways, rivers running out of space for dams.

That was the world we were building in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Since then, things haven't changed enough for an environmentally sustainable economy and that world we were building is becoming increasingly hard to enter and increasingly dysfunctional.

We need to build a different type of world for the future.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Feeling fairly distant from AIDS during the epidemic

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Symptoms of what was later called AIDS first surfaced in the news 40 years ago in 1981.

At that time, I had recently graduated from college, but still spent time at Sexual Minorities Center at WWU. That's where I first remember hearing about this syndrome as it was in the news.

I felt pretty distant as I had always been on the edge of the gay scene anyway. In Bellingham, it seemed like the scene, I knew about at least, was mostly just the bar and the campus group. Back then, the bar was called the Hut Tavern.

I didn't go to the bar often as it seemed like it was too extreme in terms of smoking, drinking and reckless partying. Back then, I was looking for in depth conversation.

In the media, there was talk of AIDS being somewhat related to unhealthy lifestyles though early on there was some compassion. Whether a virus could be blamed for it, or not, was still not known until (so I read recently) 1983 when the virus was identified for more certain.

In the early 1980s, there was a weight loss snack called "Aids Candy Cubes." "Lose weight with the aid of Aids." Those ads disappeared soon after the disease started being called AIDS.

Much debate in the media centered around whether AIDS could be caught from casual contact. Some folks were paranoid and shunned folks they thought were more likely to have AIDS.

Scientists kept insisting that AIDS did not spread from casual contact. It was mostly a venereal disease, but also starting to be reported to come from things like shared needles.

At one point there were some feature articles about a few people worrying that they might catch AIDS from the communal challis at church. This was also disputed by scientists. I tended to believe the scientists.

In 1985, I did my first bicycle trip across the state. I had a little radio with me that brought the news of an actor named, Rock Hudson who was discovered to have AIDS.

I felt distant from the whole situation biking across the state and having never even heard of Rock Hudson till then.

I thought one thing that set me apart from most other gay people is that I seldom watch movies and don't even know who the famous actors are.

The first person, I knew personally, to have AIDS was named Scott Lennon. I didn't know him real well, but we had gone to a few events together. He was in my wide circle of friends.

The first I learned of his AIDS diagnosis was seeing his name in the newspaper.

Scott used the last years of his life in public service and education. He spoke out about AIDS awareness at various schools, churches and so forth.

Bellingham got it's first AIDS organization sometime in the late 1980s, or early 1990s. In it's early years, it was called Evergreen Aids Support Services.

World AIDS Day started being celebrated with candle light walks through downtown on usually bleak, dark and blustery days. That's December for you.

Walks usually ended at Unitarian Church with a service and social hour.

One year the service was at Assumption Catholic Church.

Part of the AIDS Quilt was brought to Bellingham and displayed on the floor of Carver Gym at WWU one year.

In the later 1990s, there was an AIDS prevention program called Friend To Friend. Bellingham was one of the cities that this program was rolled out to.

Friend to Friend was quite creative with a lot of grassroots events designed to enhance the quality of life in community. This was seen as a strategy for prevention and safe sex education.

There were quite a few gatherings, potlucks, discussion groups and other social events. A space for community, which often seems lacking in mainstream society.

Funding eventually ran out for the Friend to Friend program, but there continues to be quite a bit of interest in knitting together healthy community ties clear to this day.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Dollar Store costs 25 cents more, but Motel 6 has added a lot more to it's original cost.

Lots of news about Dollar Tree raising their price ceiling to $1.25. Amazing that it could stay at $1 since the store's founding in 1986.

Another business, with a price in it's name, is Motel 6. That used to be only $6, but much, much more expensive today.

Rents for things like a motel room have gone way up over the years compared to the inexpensive flow of many goods in our economy.

MRNA vaccine technology gives the hens a break

One good thing MRNA vaccines is that they don't need chicken eggs to grow the vaccine materials; like so many of the old style vaccines.

Think of all the laying hens that were kept in captivity. One wonders about the conditions. Chicken farms can be notorious. I still eat eggs, however. I usually try and find eggs from "free range" chickens. They do cost a little more, but worth it.

Newer technologies for making vaccines seem to be more humane, as far as I can tell.

Friday, November 26, 2021

WSU's November 26 2021 Apple Cup victory may have message for corporations about executive pay

WSU Cougars have just won the Apple Cup against the UW Huskies. WSU 40, UW 13.

Normally I don't follow sports, but this game has some unique twists. The Cougars can still win even though they let go of their former Coach Rolovich when he didn't comply with Washington State's vaccine mandate. That might have been a hard parting since they thought they had to pay top dollar. His salary was 3.5 million per year; the highest paid public official in the state. They thought he was crucial, but the team is winning anyway.

One lesson learned is that maybe it's not the coach, but the team that wins the game. I don't know how much their interim coach, Jake Dikert, is paid, but my guess is not as much. He seems to be doing well anyway.

Corporations could learn that lesson as they often feel compelled to retain their top executives for top dollar. One could only hope corporations are taking heed. I know, I am an idealist.

As for the game, they say it's the largest Apple Cup point margin in the history of the Apple Cup. 40 to 13 in favor of WSU. Game was played in Seattle and usually the Cougars have a hard time winning that game when it's in Seattle at UW Stadium, rather than in Pullman at Martin Stadium.

Normally I don't follow sports, but this was a big win tonight and I am sure my home town of Pullman is celebrating.