Thursday, October 31, 2013

Supposed to say loose gravel, but the L is missing

Sign seen on bike paths near Birchwood Park. I first found out about this when one of my friends on Facebook posted a similar picture. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New construction in Barkley

As I was out for a short ride to the Barkley area of Bellingham, I was impressed with this large new residential building under construction. Bellingham does have a housing shortage so maybe this, and other things, will take some of the pressure off the market; pressure that causes rents for existing domiciles to rise.

Temporarily draped in black. Image added Nov. 5.

Then, on the way back, I was impressed by the glowing sight of Youngstock's Nursery. A small open air produce stand all lit up on that grey day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why the Tea Party can't stop deficit spending either

Dick Cheney recently surfaced again in interviews. While he doesn't say he's a card carrying Tea Party member, he does have sympathy for what the Tea Party is trying to do. Radical measures to reduce deficit spending which always seems to elude Washington. My own theory is that cutting deficit spending is unlikely as long as so many Americans, including a lot of Tea Party members, are dependent on things like military spending, veterans benefits, Medicare and so forth. Think of Cheney, himself, as a poster boy for the Halliburton style military industrial complex. And then there's the part of the government that's the tiny sliver; the discretionary domestic (non military) spending. That too is needed for things like roads, education, basic research and priming the pump to keep the economy rolling.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bicycling out to and around Lake Samish in the autumn

Sunset dappling through the trees as I climb the hill on Old Samish Highway just north of the lake.

Sun, fog and autumn colors around the lake.

Then a not too macho promotion at a Viking volley ball game in Carver Gym at Western Washington University as I passed through campus on my way home.

Friday night before my ride, Bellingham Herald sign pierces the fog in downtown Bellingham.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rich folks talking about austerity for others isn't a very good strategy to accomplish what could still be a legitimate need

A bunch of rich folks telling the public that we have to cut back on so called "entitlements" does not go over well. Thus the strategy of "Republican style" austerity crashes and burns. Beyond the dust of the politics, mathematics is still hard to deny, however. There always needs to be adjustments and flexibility in spending as it relates to how much revenue is coming in. These adjustments would be easier to swallow if people had the general feeling that we are all in the same boat, or at least all in similar boats. Having such wide gaps of income classes in society makes a mockery out of the concept of everyone pulling together and doing what needs to be done so it all pencils out and works. As Obama often says, the rich have to be part of the solution also.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bellingham's drinking black eye

A drunken riot happened last weekend (October 12) around Indian Street in Bellingham. When police tried to break up one large "college style" party, the participants went out onto the street and merged with revelers from other parties. Around 500 people were cursing and tossing glass bottles at police who eventually used means, such as pepper spray, to disperse the crowd. Media coverage of this riot has embarrassed local residents who say this is not a good image of Bellingham. It's Bellingham's drinking black eye.

It isn't usual for such a riot to happen, but whether we like to admit it or not, there is a lot of drinking in Bellingham. Bars and house parties are big spaces for social connection in our city. Other cities and towns have similar drinking scenes so Bellingham isn't necessarily any worse, but we do have our problems like the rest of them. This was our city's turn to be in the limelight of cities where drunken riots have taken place.

I remember the news about a riot in the frat house district of the town I grew up in; Pullman, WA. That was back in the 1990s (if I remember correctly) and it was a similar embarrassment to the town and local university officials. Bellingham's riot also involved a lot of non students, however. For all I know, maybe Pullman's riot had non students as well. Both towns are dominated by their student populations; especially Pullman.

One would think there are other kinds of social settings than just mindless drinking parties. For instance, why don't more people sit around in the nude in saunas and have intelligent conversation? I'm not an anti alcohol, anti fun person. Moderate drinking isn't the end of the world, but if I had to make a choice between public nudity and public drunkenness, I'd chose the nudity. Also it's ironic that alcohol is a big industry while so many other recreational drugs are strictly illegal.

Here in Washington State, the voters have taken steps toward making marijuana legal which is long overdue. Compared to alcohol, I hear marijuana is fairly mellow.

There are a lot of things that people can do to interact and even push boundaries a bit, but drinking is most common. Think of all the bars in downtown Bellingham. It used to be there was hardly anything open downtown after 9 pm except bars. More recently, that situation has improved as quite a few late night restaurants are now open. One dilemma of small towns is that the bar is sometimes the only business in town. Bellingham is bigger than that, but bars are still common.

Drinking and bars are okay in moderation, but lets use our imaginations. There's got to be more variety of things to do.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Talking about my bike trip on The Joe Show

Bicycling from Bellingham to Pullman, WA. for my 40th high school reunion made for a great conversation starter as I mingled with former classmates. Not only that, it also got me onto The Joe Show, Bellingham's progressive noontime talk on KBAI Radio.

By the way, gorgeous autumn colors along the way as I peddled past Bayview Cemetery on my way to the studios.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Obamacare is good, but could implode on it's own if it goes way over budget

If The Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare, is really as bad as so many Republicans think, it still makes no sense to shut down the government in a last ditch effort to stop it. If it's really that bad, it will implode on it's own after implementation. While I like the idea and it will be much better for lower and moderate income people than the high insurance premiums of our current system, I still worry that it may face cost overruns which cost the government more than expected. If that happens, it could implode.

I hope it succeeds and for sure, future lawmakers can adjust it. There are also lots of budget savings in Obamacare, over the present situation, so it might just work. It might even not bust the budget.

Whatever system we have, it's still up to us to try and live healthy lifestyles as much as possible. No matter what, we can't afford unlimited care. I hope Obamacare's improved access to preventative care and lifestyle / diet counseling can reduce the amount of expensive emergency room care that so many folks rely on now.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Gerrymandering. Didn't the courts used to step in and stop that when it went too far?

One hears that the gerrymandering of voting districts has gotten so bad that districts are either solid red or solid blue. There are few districts with real races anymore. Politicians from the districts are becoming so polarized that they don't work together and even don't speak to one another for the most part. Gerrymandering is usually done by state legislatures as they apportion congressional and other districts in their states. In the past, I heard of several times where courts stopped the gerrymandering and ordered a better way to divide up the districts more randomly. Courts can take that power away from the politicians and appoint demographers (population specialists) and other types of folks to redistricting commissions. Now the problem with gerrymandering is so bad, I wonder where are the courts today? They need to put a stop to this in each state.

Friday, October 04, 2013

World Space Week kickoff October 4

My attempt at a graphic depicts "think outside the box" implying the earth as the box. World Space Week is said to be kicked off October 4 on the anniversary of USSR's Sputnik launch in 1957. Pictured in my graphic is not Sputnik, but Voyager 1 spacecraft along with Earth.

Humans need to think outside the box and expand our horizons beyond this limited earth.

Exploration and scientific discovery is a good start. Maybe someday mining asteroids and more? Also, the images of Earth, that we have gotten from space, has given us a new perspective of our limited spaceship - Earth.

As we keep expanding, we need to protect Earth. Maybe we need to learn how to stop growing? This seems unlikely, but we can learn how to achieve sustainability. Reducing population growth, the most important factor.

We can use technology and miniaturization to cram more social sophistication into limited spaces, but eventually we will likely take more steps beyond Earth. Miniaturization can be done with changing culture and technology, but even doing this is inspired by looking at the "big picture," so to speak. Getting beyond small minded thinking. A big part of what inspires big picture thinking is the view of our entire earth from space.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Are the wealthy and business hoarding their money because too many restrictions or not enough market or both?

This article makes a lot of sense. If the wealthy were to invest more in job creating activities, rather than just hoarding money, the economy would work better.

I'll add that people on the right tend to blame government and environmental restrictions. These things can prevent business expansion so the wealthy and corporations just sit on their money; rather than investing it in expansion. That could be true, but do we want to repeal restrictions? Some restrictions are there for good reasons like for safety and protecting the environment. It's one of the factors living on a limited planet.

Liberals tend to say that the lack of demand for products prevents business from investing in increasing the supply of goods and services. Workers can't afford to buy things anymore. Less middle class means less market demand. Also a valid point. To some extent, less demand can be good for the environment, but hard on an economy that is dependent on growth. An ultimate goal is to grow the economy in a way that does not harm the environment. At least grow the economy to keep up with population growth, but try to curb population growth as well.

Also, I might add, when the wealthy just hoard their money, they often put it in so called "safe haven" investments. One of the primary safe havens is US Government debt. So the rich are investing in US government debt and then many of them are turning around and complaining that the government is borrowing too much money. Go figure.