Monday, February 28, 2011

Whatcom County's population now over 200,000

I made a note of it when USA's population passed 300,000,000. Now it's Whatcom County's turn where Bellingham is located. Recently passed the 200,000 mark.

One way to reduce illegal immigration is to allow more legal immigration. The quota for legal entries to this country is a number that can stimulate discussion. It kind of reminds me of Bellingham's contentious "20 year growth estimate."

That's a number also.

Any value, set for that number sparks discussion. How much do we want Bellingham to grow? How should we plan the city if it does grow; density, parks, transit? Will future residents still be able have a big yard, or drive a car? What's desirable? Denser cities often mean each resident has a smaller footprint on the environment. Less apt to own a car for instance. People also talk about increasing cultural vitality.

Of course there are no absolute answers to these questions, but public discussion is interesting. Washington State Growth Management law requires cities to come up with projected growth estimates. Where that number is set always becomes a "political football." And that's just an estimate. Still, it creates very interesting discussion.

Another aspect of immigration reform is discussion of a "guest worker program." I hear, from listening to the radio a lot, that many people just want to work in USA temporarily and travel back and forth to their home country. In some cases, people might be trapped in this country by fear that they couldn't come back if they went to their home country for part of the year. A guest worker program could "ironically" mean more people going back to their country of origin for part of the year.

It's kind of like the college students in Bellingham. That segment of our population tends to just be here for part of the year.

Then there is the idea of building a fence on the border to cut down on illegal immigration. Could be effective, but not the most compassionate way to go. Also could lead to an economic barrier. In Bellingham, there are people who talk about building a wall across I-5 to keep out new residents.

The issue is basically about population growth and how to avoid it, or adjust to it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hope to see democracy flourishing in the Arab world

Hope they can get rid of Gadhafi soon.

It looks like things are turning out good in Egypt so far, according to the news. There's hope for Libya. Democracy seems to be taking hold in Eastern Libya so far.

This is a paradigm shift for a large region of the world. Even though many have died, it looks encouraging. Like when the Berlin Wall came down.

Hopefully the west can do without low priced oil temporarily. Some of those dictatorships were propped up by efforts to maintain a stable oil supply. My overhead is low so even as our economy takes it's bumps from world events, I don't have a lot of bills. Glad my rent remains low. For transportation, of course, I ride my bike as I always have. I'm a non driver.

What's the price of democracy? For those who are fighting for it, a lot including possibly death. For us in the west, possibly a slight and temporary bump in oil prices.

Best news to come out of Middle East for a long time.

Popular uprisings for less repressive regimes and more democracy. Popular uprisings from the grassroots level. Normally I hear a lot of bad news from the Middle East, but now more of the news sounds encouraging. Hurray for the popular uprisings toward more democratic societies. The Arab Spring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

News happens fast

So I can't really keep up on this blog, with worthwhile stuff to say at least. Still an occasional essay when my perspective offers something unique and I have time to write. Quite a few of my comments appear on my Facebook wall where there's both my posts and my reaction to other people's posts. Facebook is quite a tool of discussion. Too bad only people signed up as my friends can see the wall, but I have accepted all friendship requests so far. Feel free to join my friends on Facebook if you wish, even if you don't know me. This blog will continue with photos and essays that tend to be longer than Facebook posts. Often I link to this from Facebook for "more."

I also started Friends of Gay Bellingham fan page wall. It's visible to everyone. This fan page supplements Gay Bellingham Resource guide which I maintain.

The core of my online world is still

Friday, February 18, 2011

Questioning Obama's citizenship brings back faint memories of another politician from Hawaii

During Watergate Hearings, while I was in high school, Senator Inouye, from Hawaii was called "that little Jap" by a lawyer. The lawyer was John Wilson who's client was John Ehrlichman. This was in a heated exchange after Inouye called Ehrlichman a liar.

There was some uproar in the press following those comments. I vaguely remember my mom saying that Wilson dug the hole a bit deeper by mentioning he would have said the same thing if Inouye had been an American. At that point, someone pointed out that Inouye is an American, born in Hawaii, but of Japanese ethnicity. Easy to misstate in the heat of discussion.

Obama was born in Hawaii also. A different look at the birther issue.

My mom and I followed the Watergate hearings and I remember her describing Erlichman's lawyer as "that feisty lawyer." When I came back from a summer camp I ask my mom if anything new had happened in the hearings. She said, "not much except that feisty lawyer had ruffled a few feathers" and she went on to explain.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Too long a wait till September in Egypt

It's a long tedious wait till Egypt's president Mubarak's planned departure from office in September. Meanwhile the country is turning itself inside out. He should push up his departure, maybe March 2011 instead of making people wait till September.

Hope Egypt goes more democratic and doesn't go some other way that would be more dictatorial or violent.

Free speech doesn't have to cost much, but other economic improvements take a lot of patience. Bringing 80 million people out of poverty sounds like a daunting task. Especially as recent protests in Egypt has slowed the tourism industry. There's plenty to worry about including availability of water in Egypt as other countries down the Nile make claims to scarce water as well.

Making new wealth can be hard, but incomes can also be better distributed. Technology can help in squeezing new wealth out of scarce resources. Freedom of speech and Facebook can be seen as wealth. One can't eat Facebook, however.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Rain, rain, rain

Window display at Hilton's shoe store in Bellingham.

Bellingham weather is often cloudy and drizzly while harder rains are less common. It's usually just threatening to rain.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Lighted peace sign yard art

Lighted peace sign near Key Street in Bellingham.

From the back side it almost looks like a new moon.

Nice yard art.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

How being a locavore might add to global warming

A locavore is someone who tries eat foods that are mostly grown locally, like within 100 miles from home, but in much of USA, local agriculture is cattle ranching. Beef cattle.

Cattle grazing is a lot of what one sees within 100 miles of towns in places like eastern Montana. Not the best place to grow tomatoes, but cattle can graze. Problem is, cattle create methane which is a greenhouse gas. One recommendation for reducing greenhouse gas emission is to eat less beef. That might mean being less of a locavore for folks living in the vast areas of USA where cattle ranching is easier to do than growing, say, avocados.

Maybe beef isn't all bad. I hear that folks are working on modifying the cow's digestive tract to create less methane. Science can come to the rescue.

Meanwhile, there are many reasons to increase fruits and vegetables in our diet while reducing beef consumption. Health reasons as well as the global warming worries. In winter, that most likely means food being shipped from distant places like southern California.

Some people try growing tomatoes here in Bellingham, WA. but our summers are a bit too cool and cloudy. The slugs get them. We just aren't the best place for tomatoes, except maybe in hothouses. Some years, people have good tomatoes, but it seems rare.

Maybe we can have a diet of kale in the winter. Kale is nice, but might get boring after while.

Shipping from distant places creates greenhouse gas as well. Trucks, rail and so forth. Hopefully this isn't as big of an emitter to greenhouse gas as the driving that average Americans do each day.

Being a locavore may not do that much for reducing global warming. Eating less beef does more. Also figuring out how to live without driving, or at least less driving. Possibly living near the bus line or a bike path.

Buying local has some advantage for supporting local business and farming. Also increasing one's social life knowing the producers and meeting folks at places like farmer's markets.

Speaking of cows, I love locally produced Twin Brooks Dairy with it's returnable glass bottles. For some reason, it seems to taste better. I often start my day with their chocolate milk. It's my version of morning coffee.

I don't drink coffee. My reason for not drinking coffee is not because it doesn't grow around here. I just never learned to like the flavor.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Interesting to follow uprisings in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world on the news

Hope it goes in the direction of more social freedoms.

Social freedoms can bring more economic prosperity by encouraging innovation, but economic prosperity may be slow in coming. Even if improved economic conditions don't come that easily, a society of greater freedom can still take place. Greater diversity in lifestyles, religion, human rights and free expression doesn't necessarily have to take a lot of natural resources or bring more material wealth, but it's an improvement in quality of life.