Saturday, November 26, 2016

Anti Trump protests

I see quite a few people holding signs saying "not my president." If I was to hold a sign it would say, "Trump has no mandate." Trump is the president, but with Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote, there definitely is no mandate. A mandate would require more of a landslide vote for the winner. This means the Republican dominated government will need to be open to ideas from both sides of the aisle and also from outside the duality. In other words, no absolute refusal to listen or compromise. If this doesn't happen, the majority of people will be against the government.

This little piece of news is interesting also.

I guess maybe there IS a difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Even Jill Stein and the Green Party cares about the results of this election enough to put up $4 million dollars needed to attempt recounts in several swing states; article: Jill Stein raises $4 million for 3-state recount effort.

Seems like some of the Green Party supporters didn't think there was much difference between Democrats and Republicans, but now it matters enough for a recount and the Greens are leading this recount effort.

Also they are pushing for a recount for the sake of having a clean voting system, according to this article.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Time can be an important part of the filter against fake news on Facebook and other media

How does one guard against fake news on Facebook and in other media? Time cures a lot of things. I find that waiting a while, or even a few days, when I see a news story helps. With time, the false stories usually fall by the wayside as people do fact checking and so forth. Breaking news interests me less than the long term issues. This may not be the total solution to the fake news problem, but it's one strategy that can help. Wait, take the long view. Don't necessarily re post right away. Let fact checking take its time.

This can be a strategy for media consumers (readers), but it also might work for companies like Facebook that are looking for algorithms to combat fake news. How does one design an algorithm that's not got its own built in biases? Well, the march of time gives no preference to anyone. Time can be considered when articles are highlighted. In other words media shouldn't be too "trigger happy" to get the scoop. I know that kind of patience might not be the best business model, however.

I read that companies, like Facebook, are considering having a tag to certify that certain stories have been verified. A good idea tho there is still the question of who decides what to tag and what is the process to decide this? One thing that any process, like that, would do is slow down the news a bit. It takes time to verify and process stories for placing the "verified" stamp on the item. Of course all postings would still go onto Facebook as they do now, but certain things would have the verified tag. Since there would likely be a wait for news items to go through whatever process created the tag, this might automatically favor the longer term "slower" news over the "breaking" news anyway.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Our sexuality: one of the legitimate aspects of our being to lead us toward health

At a free form dance I go to, the DJ offers wisdom. "Let your feet lead, let your hands lead, let your torso lead, let your hips lead, let your sexuality lead."

Yes I heard that right, tho muffled through fun sounding music.

At the end of the class there's a little sharing session. The concept of leading with various parts of our beings comes up again; including leading with one's sexuality. I put my two bits in to the discussion saying that my sexuality leads me to the dance in the first place. I'm often motivated to go, wondering which attractive folks might be there tonight to see as I twirl on by? Who, of the attractive men (I notice the men) might have their shirt off. Then I said, even if there's no one that interesting this time, I'm at the dance anyway, enjoying the movement, music and ambiance. I've arrived and that motivation is one of the things that gets me to go in the first place. Not the only motivation as the music is usually great, tho also a mixed bag. Movement feels good to me.

People received my two bits very well. Whatever helps to keep the energy flowing in a healthy way. I feel quite fortunate that there's a lot of richness and multidimensional experience in this kind of exercise. It doesn't really feel like a chore. Free from ecstatic dance, sometimes called Five Rhythms Dance, but it can go by many names. One doesn't have to learn dance steps. Just let the body lead. One of my favorite of the "five rhythms" is "Chaos," but not all free form dance uses Five Rhythms terminology.

The free form dance will sometimes end with a cuddle pile. Touchy feely liberals? Lol.

I'm somewhat indifferent to touch, but I don't mind. My fetishes are more visual, but fetishes aren't the only reason people touch. One thing I really like about something like the cuddle pile is that folks who don't necessarily know each other very well, are still willing to participate. One thing I like about a free form dance is that it isn't too much governed by "stranger danger" fear. I'm quite cautious as I approach people, but I appreciate openness. There's a lot of unpleasant politics around touching in most of today's society. The cuddle pile is totally voluntary, but pretty much everyone participates; in a small way at least. Maybe just sitting near the circle. It happens rarely, but in today's stranger danger society filled with distrust, animosity, clicks, couples and competition, it's a nice thing to experience. Community and the families of humanity coming together.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Does this mean Washingtonians are just hypocritical yuppies?

Seems strange that even in a blue state, like Washington, there is still lots of anti tax sentiment. Someone like Tim Eyman (our state's anti tax initiative booster) can still thrive in such a state where people talk about the need to tax the rich. Unlike most states, in the USA, we still don't have a state income tax. Income taxes can be a good ways to tax the rich if they are graduated taxes. Our state tax system tends to be regressive even tho we are a blue state. Washington relies heavily on a sales tax.

Being politically blue also relates to being prosperous. At least in my opinion being innovative and somewhat left leaning politically can lead to prosperity given the emerging "information" economy. At the same time, we still have lots of problems in our state related to our regressive tax system. Does that mean Washingtonians are just hypocritical yuppies? We want the good things of being a progressive state, but not some of the costs?

Large areas of Washington are rural and the rural areas tend to vote more conservative so that's one explanation, as far as tipping the balance come election time. Also a lot of progressive and prosperous people are Libertarian. Libertarians tend to be suspicious of government. Libertarians want small government which sounds like conservatives, but they tend to also be for personal freedoms, like for the legalization of marijuana.

It's true that government can't be all the solution. Still, I think one must be willing to give in order to get. Pay your taxes, especially if you are upper income. Pay your taxes if you want things like well funded education and state services.

The good news, here in Bellingham, our Greenways Levy was renewed again during the 2016 election. Greenway trails and parks are popular as people definitely see what they are getting for their money.

Photo: Entering Washington sign at Wallula Gap on the Columbia River. Picture taken during my 1989 bike tour around the state.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is robust economic growth an impractical goal in the west?

Robust economic growth may be a thing of the past. Not likely to happen again anytime in the foreseeable future.

Interesting to read economist Paul Krugman's review of this book "The Rise and Fall of American Growth" by Robert J. Gordon. Krugman, himself, is an advocate of using stimulus and good (basically liberal) economic planning as a road to prosperity. On the other hand, in reviewing this book, he acknowledges that the growth and prosperity that many of both liberals and conservatives advocate may be all but impossible to achieve again in our economy.

My own take on this is that an end to any hope for robust economic growth is, at least, likely. The whole idea of future growth based on innovation and things like Moore's Law bringing down the price of technologies comes into question. One of the problems, as pointed out in this article, is that we don't really factor in the benefits of things like smartphones into our economic equations. A smartphone can do wonders, but if it doesn't cost much to buy, it doesn't add much to the economic measures of prosperity that we use. The question of how we define prosperity is a big factor in my own thinking.

For various reasons, the surge of economic growth that we saw between the late 1800s and 1970 may not be repeatable. A law of diminishing returns?

To me, this thinking is important because traditional liberals and conservatives keep bashing each other over conflicting roads to economic growth and prosperity. Maybe this prosperity is an impractical goal. If that is the case, we will need to find new roads to better lives. Maybe we should learn to love each other and ride bicycles? I actually try and do that, myself.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The possible need for civil servants to disobey crazy orders that might come down from the top

Protesters should try and be kind to the police. We might need the police, as well as other lower level civil servants, to disobey crazy orders that could come down from the top. The top being Trump Administration, Congress, and eventually Republicans on The Supreme Court. We might need our mid level government workers to maintain common sense. These people can help us; especially if we don't alienate them.

A few weeks back, I heard that some mid level military folks were saying that they were ready to disobey illegal orders (about torture and so forth) that might come from "the commander in chief." They might have to disobey orders that violate Geneva Conventions; for instance.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

To wear or not to wear the safety pin

Article in Huffington Post. Thoughts that I put on my Facebook Wall below.

I know that some of us white people try to be good and caring, but the safety pin is kind of a thing of hollow symbolism. There's too many "show your support symbolic steps" out there and not enough living a responsible life.

I wore a safety pin at a local protest. It was handed to me by a white woman from the Islamic Faith. She wanted her frightened children to see a lot of supporters around them in the crowd. I felt kind of funny and token wearing it, however. I'm not that much of a "sound byte sign" guy. The pin I wore was tiny and hardly anyone could see it. Not very effective. There was a run on local stores for safety pins so some stores had run out of all but the tiny ones.

The anger tone in this Huffington Post article doesn't appeal that much to me, but the idea is worth considering. The pins might be sort of silly. By the way, I am a gay person.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Politicians barking up the wrong tree. Jobs going to the cities and to automation. Not as much to overseas.

We hear that too many jobs have gone overseas. This is true, but here's another thing that's happening. The jobs are going to the cities. Lots of Trump's support comes from rural areas that are suffering from economic stagnation. The jobs have gone to metropolitan areas. The economy is changing from market forces and so forth.

This past election showed a big divide between urban and rural voters where urban tended to vote more liberal while rural voted conservative. I'm sure there are many reasons for this divide, but the economic stagnation of rural America plays a role. It's being talked about in the media. People complaining about manufacturing jobs going overseas. Well, it may not be as big a problem as Trump and even Sanders supporters claim. I also read that manufacturing is strong in America. Manufacturing is strong, but it's just not creating the jobs that it used to create. Automation may be the biggest factor. Economists are talking about the effects of automation. Why isn't Trump discussing this? For that matter, why didn't any of the major candidates, in the 2016 election, talk about this?

Politicians are usually barking up the wrong tree.

Automation may be the biggest issue, but another issue is the jobs going to the cities. No wonder there's a political divide between urban and rural areas. Cities tend to be more prosperous in today's economy. Lots of service industry jobs, but still, there are jobs in the cities. Much of rural America has a more stagnate economy.

Conservatives might say that it's environmental regulations which have hampered rural economies. Lumber mills closed due to logging restrictions and so forth. There is some truth to this, but some environmental protection is there for good reason. Also there is more reason for rural stagnation than just blaming environmental regulation. In rural North Dakota, there has recently been an oil production boom. Something conservatives are quite proud of. They often talk about America's new "domestic oil boom." Well, now it's kind of a bust as oil prices have gone down. The success of fracking and oil production has lead to a glut on the oil market and lower oil prices.

Many rural economies are based on extraction of one resource. Oil, or maybe timber; like in the case of a timber town. Large urban areas tend to have more diversified economies. In some ways, urban areas are better suited for today's economy than rural areas. Better suited for the service/information economy. Rather than just lashing out and looking for scapegoats, we need to figure out what's happening and figure out how to make it work for our benefit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How progressive ideas might work with, or in spite of, a Trump administration

At least Trump's victory speech wasn't real bad. He was gracious toward Hillary Clinton and mostly talked about things that lots of people would agree on, like folks of different parties, races and religions working together and plans to rebuild infrastructure. At least that speech omitted some of the more negative things he and other Republicans pushed on the campaign trail.

Promises, promises. As for infrastructure improvement, where's he going to get the money?

Lots of things that I push for weren't even discussed by any of the candidates in this campaign. Hardly having any of the ideas I embrace be part of campaigns, at the national level, I still thought Hillary Clinton was the safest bet. Not exactly discussing my agenda, but at least a safer bet than Republicans dominating both Congress and the White House.

Government dominated by Republicans is what we got. It's kind of a product of mainstream American culture. Competitiveness, greed, unwillingness to compromise and so forth. Seems like most American people don't understand things we need to do to deal with climate change and how to adapt our economy to automation and technology.

The Republicans in Congress have done badly. Trump isn't really like them either. He's kind of his own wildcard. Not an establishment Republican. More a loose cannon and a populist.

It's important to realize that the popular vote did go for Hillary Clinton. The popular vote was for Clinton by a slight margin, but the electoral vote went to Trump. The result of an outdated aspect of our government. There is no total mandate for Trump and the Republicans. The country is still close to evenly divided. Who knows what will happen.

Here's one possible scenario. Trump might start courting support from Democrats as he faces the difficulties of office and struggles with the Republican establishment. Established patterns are being disrupted for sure.

I hope for improvements in our culture and the dialog of national campaigns. It's still up to the people how we build society, starting at the local level. Our lifestyles and how we build our communities. How this all fits the current needs with climate change a reality. We need to figure out ways for benefiting from the changes in technology that we are experiencing. Rethink economics. For instance having something like automation bring shorter workweeks with more quality time rather than it leading to more unemployment, stress and problems.

I still don't think most of the American people get it about the changes we all need to make. There are many pockets of society where these changes are being discussed and experimented with, but this discussion has not filtered to the level of the national political scene.

We still have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Sharia law in USA?

Some people worry that there might be enclaves of Sharia Law in USA. Well, maybe there are, but not law imposed by government. Rules based on religion do persist in certain families, churches and communities. For instance many fundamentalist Christian families and communities are hard on their own children who happen to be gay while growing up in those settings. Also, there are enclaves of folks who, for instance, don't believe in things like vaccination. Children often suffer in these settings. The government and things like Child Protective Services aren't always able to rescue people from these situations. Enclaves, families and communities where badly designed religious rules reside can come in many forms and from many religions including, but not only, from Islam.

Religious law is the law of the land in some countries. Hopefully we have separation of church and state here in USA so religious law will not be the law of the land here. That would be bad from any religion; especially a fundamentalist religion. It is a problem in, for instance, Saudi Arabia. It could be a problem in a fundamentalist Christian country as well, but at this time in history it happens to be bad in some of the Islamic countries of the Middle East. Leviticus Law could be bad also. Glad USA has separation of church and state even though we have private communities and families where religious rule can be heavy handed.

When someone asked; Name me a country who bases their laws on a strict Christian sin!

My answer was.

Oppression of gay people in Uganda is often said to be based on fundamentalist Christianity. Also in some other African nations. Russia is getting stricter on things and justifying this, in part, on Christian and family values. Catholicism has a strong hold in some parts of Latin America. Maybe the problem of Islam rule in the Middle East is the most pervasive these days, but looking at history can tell a different story; like back in the times of Medieval Europe.