Sunday, December 31, 2023

Wishful thinking for the new year.

It would be great if big transformational changes could start happening in lifestyles and society in the new year. If we could end the gridlock and start making the changes we need to usher in a better world. We need to implement technological changes, lifestyle changes, changes in politics and business to address climate change and so forth. I can only dream.

Countries like USA and Canada are like lifeboats to folks seeking amnesty. How many can be rescued before the lifeboat sinks?

I got to thinking that the immigration issue is like USA, Canada, Europe and so forth are life boats in an ocean. Some people are drowning, in that ocean, due to totalitarian governments, gangs, poverty, climate change and so forth.

How many people can we rescue before our lifeboat sinks? A question with no definite answer.

If we had twice as many people, in USA, as we do now, we would still only have half as many people as live in India today. We now have around 335 million. Twice that would be 700 million and double that again would get to the 1 billion 400 million population of India; now the world's most populated country.

India has surpassed China in population and has less land area than USA or China. Most people seem like they are at least surviving and maybe even thriving in India. I don't hear as much trouble, from India, as I do from some other countries.

Still we likely couldn't accommodate that many people given the circumstances of USA; lifestyles, expectations of wealth, infrastructure, housing, traffic, water use and so forth.

If batteries for electric cars are a problem, we need less cars. More electric trolleys run from the overhead wire with no need for the battery.

Some people say that electric cars are just as bad, if not worse, than fossil fuel cars due to things like chemicals, mining and manufacturing. If that's the case, I would say we have to reduce the use of private cars altogether. Go to more walking, bicycling and public transit.

On the other hand, I think that electric cars are much better than fossil fuel cars. I wonder what motivates so much pushback against electric cars? Is it conservatives who just want to play the devil's advocate? As much of society is pushing toward electrification, there will be naysayers.

On the other hand, I do think there are big problems with a society so dependent on automobiles. Electrification does present some logistical challenges. Some of the worry about chemicals and batteries may have merit even though there are ways to address these issues.

People often say that reducing automobile dependency is impractical. I think we need to make changes on many fronts. Electrification and reducing automobile dependency.

If we listen to the naysayers, I guess there is nothing we can do.

If the battery is a big problem, we already have a solution. The trolley buses, in Seattle and other cities run directly from the power grid through overhead wires; no need for the onboard battery.

It's another argument for denser development to make transit lines more viable, plus smaller residences would cut down on heating and air conditioning demand as well as material consumption; no place to store too much junk at home.

Private cars might even be able to run on a system of trolley wires, or even getting their electricity from the road itself. If the battery is even that big of a problem, there are solutions, but we do need big changes in the way we plan our living arrangements.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

For the past few years I have been writing an opinion column in a local paper called The Betty Pages.

For instance About dancing, December 2023.

About cap and trade carbon pricing in Washington State.

See subject tag to my articles in Betty Pages as I have posted them on Flickr.

Things might be looking better for WSU Cougars.

Old pressbox at WSU Stadium. Photo taken 2009.

Looks like WSU and Oregon State have wond control of the former PAC 12 Confrerence; now the PAC 2 Conference. The courts have backed the two remaining schools right to decide what to do with the conference.

Little did I know that there's quite a bit of money in the old conference so that can play a role in the future of both teams as conferences are reconfigured. I was thinking that the debt run up by Cougar Football would really be hard to pay off. As I see it, that debt was run up as WSU was spending a lot of facilities, coaches and so forth to try and keep up with other schools in the PAC 12 Conference.

Now, with the demise of the PAC 12, WSU still has the debt, but little did I realize, there's also money in the PAC 12. Maybe the situation isn't so dire for WSU, but I don't know how that all connects. I'm just drawing connections in my mind. I hear little talk about the money in relation to WSU's debt, but I'm putting two and two together. I'm not sure how this all plays out.
,br /> There is lots of media coverage about this situation, but I haven't heard much talk connecting the money and the debt situation.

We'll just have to see what transpires. It looks like things might not be as dire for the Cougars as I had earlier thought.

Friday, December 22, 2023

How long will the next dark ages of human civilization last, if it happens at all? Hopefully less than a decade.

To many Republicans, it seems like the sanctity of life only applies before birth.

Meanwhile, after birth, the troubles of this world seem to be getting more and more overwhelming to just about everyone, regardless of political orientation.

The number of people seeking safety by crossing borders and the number of troubled people needing assistance, both here in USA and abroad, seems so overwhelming that there have been many recent radio interviews about "charity fatigue."

As for climate change, the last few decades have seen huge numbers of people in India, China and other places around the world, rise out of poverty. This has contributed to the rising carbon footprint. There are slightly over 8 billion people on the planet.

We can make it work better, but a good question is, "do we have the political will to create a sustainable world and maintain societies that are not too authoritarian?"

Reducing population growth and accepting alternative lifestyles can play an important role as mainstream population growth and addiction to wealth seem destine to conflict.

Alternative can be defined in many ways such as simpler lifestyles in terms of consumption. Another definition of "alternative" comes to mind regarding sexuality and family situations. Alternative is a broad topic and much needed in today's world.

If the world does teeter into another dark age, one possible silver lining is that modern dark ages can be short lived. Europe went through the holocaust in a matter of just a decade followed by a period of greater idealism.

I was born into that era of idealism as my first memories of news are out of the 1960s. Yes, the cold war worries and pollution worries were there, but most of the decades of my life have seen a great deal of peace activism, civil rights progress, scientific progress, talk of a more sustainable world and rising standards of living in many parts of the world.

My early childhood memories, about Europe, was the rise of the Beetles in UK. I was in 3rd grade when the Beetles were on Ed Sullivan. World War II seemed like it was long over by then.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

It's better to decrease the birth rate than increase the death rate as the way to stabilize world population, but world cultures may be inadvertently choosing the latter.

One way to stabilize world population is to reduce the birthrate via better birth control and more liberal attitudes about sexual alternatives.

Another way is for the death rate to increase from famine, war, poverty and even genocide. The first way is more desirable.

Even a small amount of population growth could possibly still happen if our consumption of resources were sustainable for climate stability and so forth. This can be achieved with technological innovation as well as the type of economics that would promote less consumption. Quality of life can, conceivably, improve; depending on how people define quality of life.

A good question to ask, worldwide, is whether humanity has the political will to develop a sustainable world.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

When Joseph and Mary got to the border, there was no room at the inn. They regretted that they didn't use birth control.

Given population growth, migration, border issues and the Christmas season, these conflicting concepts come to mind when following the news. I don't draw cartoons well, but here is my attempt at a political collage.
My thanks to Mark Allyn for helping me with the couple, could be Joseph and Mary. I'm really bad at drawing people.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

If the world can comply with the COP28 goals is a more important factor than the level of the goals themselves.

Setting carbon emission goals at COP28 may matter less than whether we can follow those goals. The world usually seems put out more carbon that what the goals are set for anyway. If we can even stick to the goals, that would be an accomplishment. That will be the bigger story, in my opinion.

Monday, December 11, 2023

US produces lots of oil and natural gas. The problem is not that it's produced, the problem is that it's consumed.

Some countries think USA is hypocritical for seeking long term phase out of carbon in COP28 while US is the biggest oil and gas producer. Problem is US is, I think, the biggest oil consumer. I think consumption is more the problem than production.

We produce oil for ourselves and some of our natural gas goes to help Europe ween itself off of Russian gas. Our own oil production helps keep US gas prices from going so high that the cost of gasoline tank's Biden in the polls.

If Trump were to win, in 2024, I would guess he would go before the media and laughingly tear up any COP28 agreement in front of the cameras.

Is there hate speech on college campuses? Could USA benifit from something like Canada's law against hate speech?

Those 3 college presidents called before Congress about anti anti sematic, pro genocide speech on their campuses were kind of stumbling around for answers in our nation of free speech.

In Canada, they have federal laws against something called "Hate Speech." Maybe we could consider learning how Canada deals with this sort of thing.

I'll admit I haven't been following this topic closely either in USA, or Canada, though I do follow Canadian media.

My memory for news can be fairly sharp. Canada's hate speech laws seem to be enforced very sparingly. Canada is also a nation that respects free speech, though they do have some kind of hate speech law that USA doesn't have. Such a law might be useful, though folks fear the slippery slope toward censorship.

I remember, back in the 1990s, there was an author named Salman Rushdie who got famous for writing a book related to Islam titled The Satanic Versus. The Iranian government put a bounty out for him and he had to go into hiding for years.

During that time, I remember that Canada's mechanism for enforcing rules against hate speech had his books temporarily pulled from circulation in Canada as they were seen as a possible violation of hate speech. The books were quickly put back on the shelves when it was determined that they did not violate Canada's hate speech law; if my memory is correct here.

On another note, if folks are mad at Israel, I would guess there is much more support for Israel's military among conservative Christians, in USA, than among Jewish people who are often critical of certain things about Israel.

Of all the emotions we have, whether sex or whatever, anger is, by far, the emotion that is on the shakiest ethical grounds.

Worth repeating. Of all the emotions we have, whether sex or whatever, I think anger is, by far, the emotion that is on the shakiest ethical grounds.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Even the Holy Land of the 3 major Abrahamic religions is full of holes; bullet holes and bomb craters.

A part of the Middle East is considered the Holy Land for the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Looking at the news, one can also call it the holy land as it's full of bullet holes.

Ever since my childhood, I've thought that the fundamental interpretations of Abrahamic religions were more dogmatic, out dated and rigid than most other religious traditions around the world. Some other religions seem more comfortable with modernity and science. Ironically, it's our western culture that has developed powerful technology and pretty much subdued the earth.

In the west, it seems like more and more people are adopting secularism to the point of not believing in any form of spirituality. That's not surprising, though it seems like that is a bleak way of thinking as well.

I like the idea of open minded thinking when it comes to questions of a spiritual nature. Even within the Abrahamic religions that so many westerners are used to; like comfort food, there can be open mindedness and less war like rigidity. Regardless of our religious traditions, or lack there of, we need to open ourselves to new ways of thinking.

Stable housing could provide a public that is more optimistic about the American economy.

With the US economy seeming to do well, many economists are scratching their heads as to why many people say we are in bad economic times and Biden's popularity is soft.

It might make a big difference if one has affordable housing or not. Many economists might be long term homeowners who have been somewhat sheltered from the spiraling cost of renting, or first time home purchase. This could skew their perception. The high cost leaves less money for other things like food which has also gone up in cost, but still not as much as housing. Maybe this situation is under the radar for most economists.

I heard some on NPR discussing this very situation today.

Where someone is in their lifespan can make a difference. Younger people often struggle more trying to rent or pay newer mortgages. This could mean that the voting trends, among younger people, are less predictable.

The millennial generation now struggling with young families and the cost of establishing a home, plus having to make payments on student debt again after pandemic relief may not be able to be counted on for Biden. Of course Trump is worse, but voter apathy sometimes determines an election.

Empty land, absentee speculative landlords, homeless encampments near Walmart.

There has been quite a bit of worry about homeless encampments in downtown Bellingham, but I hear that, by far, the biggest and most crime ridden encampment is out by Walmart.

From what I hear, much of that encampment is on some parcels of private property and in at least one case, the owner was (so I hear) unresponsive to the city.

Private property can make it harder for police to enter without following more rules such as getting search warrants, I guess. Meanwhile the downtown encampments are small and mostly on public property. Police keep a good eye on things. There aren't even that many encampments.

Seems like some people hold onto empty property for speculation, or maybe even tax write off. When the land value is too high, the property can sit unused and attract problems.

On the radio, from San Francisco, I've heard someone suggest increasing taxes on land so private individuals cannot profit as much from speculation. This could drive down the value of vacant land which would make it easier to finance putting a building on that land, or finding other uses for the land.

High land values can stifle more responsible use of land.

I remember that my dad was a fan of an economist named John Galbraith, back in the 1970s. I think Galbraith suggested that land inside a city should not be owned, but instead leased. Buildings, homes and businesses could be privately owned, however. I think there is too much profit from vacant land speculation.

I've seen some posts on Reddit about Bellingham's encampment near Walmart. Some say it's the worst in Western Washington. I don't know, but that could be the case.

I'm sure Walmart and apartment building owners near there are not happy with it, but large areas of vacant, private land can be problematic.

I seldom go to that neighborhood anyway as it's quite a ways out north and not as pleasant for bicycling.

US Bank opens first LGBTQ+ flagship branch in Arizona

Coincidentally, US Bank is my bank. Good to see this. I've always thought US Bank was okay. Yes, it's a commercial bank, but I tend to be okay about institutions.

I resisted suggestions for changing over to a credit union during the Occupy Wall Street anger against banks. I had no reason to not like my bank though I have a story that got me to open an account at a credit union, one time.

I used to have a few ads on my website and one of the advertisers was overseas. At that time, US Bank did have a high service charge for depositing an international check so I opened an account at a credit union with a lower charge to deposit that check.

I transferred a bit of money to the credit union and just left it there for several years. Just before the Occupy Wall Street protests started, by coincidence, that credit union suggested I remove the mostly inactive account or face a service charge.

Wanting to simplify my life (I don't have lots of money) I consolidated back to US Bank. My overseas advertiser suggested I use Paypal to deposit overseas checks, so I got a Paypal account.

During the Occupy protests, some friends were suggesting I go to "credit union" versus "commercial bank," but I had just, sort of been ask politely, by that credit union, to close that account.

Basically I've seen no reason to change banks as I tend to be more okay about institutions versus the people; so to speak. One of my favorite concepts is, "We've met the enemy and the enemy is us."

Now I am pleased to read that US Bank is quite friendly to LGBTQ folks.

3 ways that population growth has a significant effect on climate change.

2 of the ways increase climate change while the third factor can reduce it.

#1 Population growth creates more consumers.

#2 More population can increase land values so people become more driven to work harder to afford a place to live. This can mean working more than one job, promoting more sales and consumption so the bills can be paid and so forth.

#3 Population growth can increase urban density, which might help reduce climate change. In denser developments, folks are less apt to drive cars, for instance due to traffic and difficulty in finding parking. Density can bring better public transit and more walkable, bike able neighborhoods. Density means more people living in shared buildings easier to heat and cool versus as many detached structures. Lots of other advantages of density including sewage disposal versus maintaining so many septic tanks. Density can help the environment, depending on how we plan for it.

The biggest case of buyer's remorse in US history. Musk's purchase of Twitter.

I would say that Musk's purchase of Twitter (now X) is the biggest case of buyer's remorse in American history. A problem with Twitter is that it is too much about sound bytes brevity and speed. Not a good environment for nuance.

I've been somewhat of a fan of Space X and hope that Musk and the Twitter debacle didn't bring down Space X as well. Who knows. Space X has some good achievements, but there is also increasing worry about it's prolific launches and satellites interfering with astronomy.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

A Libertarian, free market solution to paying for a college education. Instead of government Pell Grants, preform on Only Fans website and call it Porn Grants.

George Santos has been expelled from Congress for many reasons. One small reason was alleged use of campaign funds to buy from the the Only Fans website.

Eroticism is often sold by that site so it reminds me of a Libertarian, "free market" solution to paying for a college education. Sexy folks selling videos on Only Fans. It's likely already happening. Instead of calling this "Pell Grants," one can call it "Porn Grants."

Is that a Republican way to trim the budget?