Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Even arming just some of the teachers is a costly solution

A discussion between our Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and President Trump is making news. I would guess that some conservatives are turned off by Inslee's seemingly preachy comment at the end where he tells Trump to spend less time tweeting and more time listening. That sound byte hits the headlines coast to coast.

Deeper down, Inslee made some important points about problems with the strategy of arming teachers. Cost is a big factor. Who's going to pay for the training? Inslee said, "I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law-enforcement agencies, which takes about six months.”

Yes, the cost of security, military and prison services tend to be among the most expensive functions of government.

I agree with Inslee. I think other strategies for curbing gun violence, in society, are better.

I'm kind of a news junkie so I hear lots of obscure things in the news and then add them to the discussion. Speaking the cost of armed personnel, it looks like the town of Colfax, here in Washington State, is having trouble affording it's police department. If municipalities are facing this problem for their regular police, imagine this extra burden on the budget of school districts.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

There should be a moderate alternative to the NRA

I've often wondered if a moderate organization of gun owners could ever gain traction at the national level. Could an alternative to the radically obstructionist NRA form? It would be an organization that supported the needs of gun owners for education, safety and so forth. Unlike the NRA, it would either advocate more moderate political stands on gun ownership, like supporting moderate curbs to the Second Amendment, or it wouldn't be as involved in politics. If such an organization were to gain a big foothold on the national level, it would most likely split the NRA as I think many more moderate gun owners would prefer the milder group. Maybe there is such a group, but it doesn't seem to get much publicity. Gun owners could still have an association with it's certification and educational benefits. They could even get the things, like discounts at hotels and so forth, that come with membership in large groups.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Schools should be part of the community not hardened targets

A terrible idea. NRA's Wayne LaPierre Says ‘Schools Must Be The Most Hardened Targets’. Make schools like nuclear missile silos or even more hardened than prisons.

In many communities, schools are community centers. Rather than being isolated from the community, they are integral parts of society. Lots of functions happen at schools and also, of course, universities. Instead of turning these places into hardened targets, we need to learn how to make society as a whole safer.

A school building at the heart of community. Memories of an event in 2010.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Carbon tax is a good idea, but politically it is even hard to raise enough gas tax to maintain the roads

A carbon tax is a good way to reduce global warming. A few places are starting to get carbon taxes including some provinces in Canada.

Governor Inslee would like to see a carbon tax in Washington State which the legislature is discussing. It's a hard sell, politically. For gasoline, it would be like a gas tax. I got to thinking that it's politically hard to even raise the gas tax enough to keep the roads and bridges in good repair.

Sometimes I gain insight from what Republican lawmakers say. A Republican state lawmaker, interviewed on Pullman Radio, said that she didn't feel the gas tax would go over well if people didn't even see road improvements from it. Kind of like a tax for what?

Most carbon tax proposals would pay out not necessarily in road improvements, but other areas such as cuts in other taxes like the high Washington State sales tax. Another idea would be Governor Inslee's plan to use some of that money to fill the gap created by the State Supreme Court ruling for funding education.

A tax is a hard sell, even if it goes to very visible and tangible road improvements. Ideally, maybe it would go to "transportation improvements," rather than just roads. Public transit, bike paths and so forth. Such a tax did pass, a few years back, here in Bellingham. Bellingham prop. 1 transportation improvement tax which went to bring back Sunday bus service and do other improvements with some emphasis on bicycles. That did pass within the fairly liberal city limits of Bellingham in 2010.

We do need infrastructure and how is that to be paid for? More deficit spending? How about taxes so it can be pay as you go? How about combining the justification for a carbon tax with that for infrastructure? Raise the gas tax and call it a carbon tax. Get better roads and bridges. Use some of the money for bike paths and public transit. Some car drivers will complain about even that diversion of funds, but better transit does mean less traffic thus helping the cars also.

I guess a true carbon tax would also include other forms of fossil fuel besides gasoline; like, for instance, natural gas used in electricity production. Well, we need infrastructure improvements to the power grid also. How do we pay for that? A carbon tax.

Another big use of fossil fuel is heating and manufacturing. I guess agriculture as well. Okay, we need to fund environmental cleanup. Where does the toxic waste "super fund" cleanup money come from? In Washington I think some of that comes from a tax on our oil refineries.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Republicans tend to be against both gun legislation and mental health funding

Looks like a few of the mostly Republican lawmakers are kind of on the defensive about the problem of mass shootings. They are starting to realize that just offering prayers and saying there's nothing they can do might not be enough. Also seems like quite a few high school students are organizing and rallying. Reforms are being pushed in two areas. Better regulation of weapons and also better funding for mental health. People argue as to whether it's about mental health or gun regulation. Looks like it's both. Yes, mental health needs more, dare I say it, domestic spending.

Friday, February 16, 2018

My photo included in Earth Magazine of environmental science

Photo I took at the 100th Meridian in South Dakota has been included in an article in the February edition of Earth Magazine. Article is about the 100th Meridian being thought of as a line of demarcation between the humid east and the dryer inland west of the United States. Interesting history from reading that article. Now days, it looks like the dryer regions are expanding to the east so possibly the 98th Meridian is more the dividing line due to climate change.

Photo was taken during my 1991 bicycle trip across USA. My first cross USA bicycle trip. I have a large collection of photos that are posted on Flickr. They are donated to Creative Commons License. Various publications will occasionally use photos and possibly ideas from me. This spreads my legacy farther than just my own web site or Facebook page. My major, in college, was geography so this is kind of fitting.

Below graphic from linking to that article from my Facebook Wall.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Should compost able plastic cups go into plastic recycling? The answer is NO.

Working as a custodian, here's something I wondered about so I did a Google search. Here's one of the articles I found.

Apparently, it is better to put them in the regular trash if there isn't a green compost bin. Recycled plastic goes into making new plastic, or building materials such as Trex decking. The compost able cups are made from a different material that contaminates the plastic recycling process. Best to put composting cups into the compost able bin with food scraps, but if such a bin is not available, I guess the regular trash. Lots of people wouldn't know this.

Learning to be good at the game of creating a more usable waste stream. Intentional living. Here is a set of bins at Bellingham Food Coop with examples of what should go where. Still, the compost plastic is not mentioned. Here, it would go into the compost bin along with the fork and spoon which, in this case, are made from a special kind of cornstarch that can be composted. Most plastic utensils are not for compost. Many recycling stations don't have a compost bin. They only have recycling or trash. In that case, I would guess the compost plastic is better in the trash.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Call Me By Your Name film sticks it to up tightness in society

Many friends of mine have been talking about this film. Tho I seldom go to the movies, I wanted to see this. Very good and thought provoking.

Spoiler alert. It's the story of a love affair between an American professor, visiting Italy, and the 17 year old son of the host family that the professor was staying with.

In some ways, it seems like this film is giving the finger to up tightness in our culture as the thought of falling in love with a teenager is frowned upon. However Call Me By Your Name is well on the road to receiving Oscars and is much acclaimed. It was my first time seeing a film at Bellingham's giant Barkley Cinema multiplex.

In the end, the professor heads back to America. It's a bit sad as the 17 year old son will miss him. A memorable part, to me, is the attitude of acceptance that the father, in that Italian family, showed during a father to son talk. He said, to the son, that the love experience the son had just been through was very special. Something many people would never experience. To be cherished.

I contrasted that attitude to someone feeling the son had been manipulated or molested. Different than someone calling the police.

There was lots of nice scenery in the film, not just the actors, but the landscape of the Italian village. A different value and pace of life than sterile productivity, I guess. A more relaxed life in this fictitious Italian village where people could just sit by the pond and weren't always in a rush. A place where there's energy left over for the connections between folks.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

In the competitive market of romance, even someone with the stature of an Elon Musk might not have all the right stuff

Human romance can be tricky. Even such a successful and highly regarded person, such as Elon Musk, has trouble finding the right mate. In this long and detailed interview in Rolling Stone (that I admit I haven't read all the way to the end) are some telling things about Musk's personal life.

From article, in one part, Musk discusses the breakup for a few more minutes, then asks, earnestly, deadpan, "Is there anybody you think I should date? It's so hard for me to even meet people." He swallows and clarifies, stammering softly, "I'm looking for a long-term relationship. I'm not looking for a one-night stand. I'm looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing."

In another part, The New York Times has called Musk "arguably the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world."

I found this Rolling Stone article from another shorter piece that came up in Yahoo News from Business Insider.

Personally, I sometimes think society's vision of success is a prerequisite to the competitive world of romance, but this is not necessarily so. Success in one area doesn't necessarily imply it in another.

Being a workaholic can distract from human connection, of course.

Also, on a personal note, I must admit that I don't feel lonely most of the time. I'm not in a relationship and I seem to like living by myself. For me, connection to other people is still important tho. Connection to the broader community. This includes my erotic feelings as well which is another whole story. Similar issues apply whether one is talking about straight relationships or gay relationships.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The federal debt may not be that much of a problem

Looks like Congress may finally be able to pass a budget deal that lasts more than a few minutes (I mean weeks). This time, pushing the snooze button on "debt ceiling alarm clock" might have more sticking power. That alarm was a bit annoying and actually made things worse; like tossing sand in the gears. This deal might give everyone some candy at least. Tax cuts, more spending for the military, Medicare and so forth. It's easier to get agreement when one can provide, rather than take stuff away from people; especially when many of the needs are real. We can just add to the long term deficit which, so far, seems to only cause minor consequences. I guess Federal Reserve can print money to cover, if need be. Inflation is a consequence, but overall inflation has been low for a long time. In certain metro areas, housing inflation has been strong and that can spread to other parts of economy as wages go up, though.

People worry about future generations being buried in debt, but future generations will do just fine. If inflation is a problem, they can just move the decimal point over in their money. The dime can become the new penny. Maybe even the dollar will become the new penny. Future generations can start from there and will not likely know the difference.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Low interest rates enabled some bad policy during Bush JR term as well

Hannity blaming everything on Obama. The cheap money of super low interest rates are a problem, but this was happening for the Bush Administration also.

Federal Reserve policy, about the money supply, is pretty much independent of the president. Low interest rates have persisted, mostly to try and push up employment. Maybe shorter workweek and somewhat more modest expectations are better? It's America's addiction to money. Wealth is good, but so is balance. Cheap money has pushed up house values and the cost of living. It's enabled government spending making it easier for whoever is president. This isn't necessarily all bad, but can be problematic. Now, the prospect of wider spread inflation is knocking at the door.

Stock market takes a hit. Blue region economies don't need red region strategy of stimulus. Parts of economy may already be overheated.

Stock market drop, February 5 2018. Trump and Republicans loose a talking point.

There's lots of different opinions as to why the market is dropping. I've got my take also.

People say the market is nervous about the threat of inflation. Inflation could mean interest rates would need to go up to curb inflation and that is often depressing news for stocks.

Yes, inflation is becoming more widespread, but us in "blue state," or more accurately "blue cities" America have known about inflation for a long time. Housing costs have been soaring in many of our metro areas. This creates pressure to raise wages; such as here in Washington State where minimum wage is now up to $11.50 per hour. After all, workers do need to be able to afford to live. What a concept. This does, however spread inflation farther. The cost of a burger and fries will go up as the employees, who serve it, get paid more. Maybe their wages will start to catch up with the cost of housing, healthcare and even college. It's like "what goes around, comes around." The blue cities have been dealing with inflation and prosperity for years.

Red State America is where most of the politicians come from and, for the most part, they don't even care or listen to what's happening in blue state America. The economy tends to be more stagnate in red regions so they still think we need to stimulate the economy. They push tax cuts.

Well, now we're dumping money into the private sector with tax cuts, but for the most part the economy is already booming. It's booming in the blue metros at least. Unemployment is down. Is this the time to be doing stimulus? Maybe not. Too much stimulus is inflationary.

Now investors have two big worries. Growing federal debt and an overheated inflationary economy. Interest rate hikes may be needed to keep a lid on things.

Liberals talk about stimulus also, but they usually talk about government spending on infrastructure for stimulus. When the economy gets rolling, then even writers, like Paul Krugman, do talk about cutting back on the stimulus.

I hate to oversimplify by saying liberals think this and red state people think that so bear with me. I know it's more complex, but this is a Facebook post (I first posted this on Facebook). How many bites do I have left?

Even though the economy is starting to boom and unemployment tends to be low, there is still trouble leading people to keep wanting stimulus. Stimulus like tax cuts or more government spending. It's sort of like we are an addict needing yet another "money fix." Reason for this problem is that even during prosperous times, many people can barely make ends meet. The income gap is leaving lots of folks behind in the dust of prosperity. In blue states, we tend to realize that inequality is a big problem. We need more than just prosperity, we need a more sustainable and fairer economy. In some cases maybe even more taxes for things like affordable housing and healthcare. A more balanced deal.

Friday, February 02, 2018

My first time at Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon

Outside the Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon. Autumn 2015 during one of my bike trips in the area.

First time I was inside Lincoln was November 2017 for the Betty Desire Coming Home Show when friends brought me to the show by car. One of our group got this image. I'm third person from the left. Memories from a few months back.