Category Archives: Commentary

Feb. 16, 2020 Blumbers

Courting Disaster

I was once told to never whisper anything that I would not say in open court. Can you back it up and confront someone in a court of law with witnesses and evidence? If not, you do not have a case.

I was recently in a courthouse with other people called for jury duty. We need to make it easier for more people to be jurors. It is as important as voting. The waiting room had a large television showing the impeachment trial. It had a hundred senators as jurors but offered no witnesses or evidence. Any county judge would toss a case that did not have basics of of a trial. Why even have jurors? Why make people go to law school and study to pass the bar? Democracy is about getting a second opinion. If it is all arbitrary, we are courting disaster.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 12, 2020 Fifth Third Bank News

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On Feb. 12, 2020 Cincinnati Business Journal Steve Watkins reported “Fifth Third Bank Customers Hit By Data Breach”. The bank admitted that a few of their employees stole customer information. The bank will provide identity theft monitoring to affected customers at no cost.

“Fifth Third said its internal investigation uncovered the theft of bank information and led it to refer the matter to law enforcement. Legal authorities are still conducting an investigation into the theft. Fifth Third is cooperating with the authorities “and we look forward to seeing justice served,” it said.”

There is no confirmation that the suspects are from California, worked for a local phone company or fans of a local baseball team.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 24, 2020 Space Force Logo

On  Jan. 24, 2020 UPI revealed the US Space Force logo that looks like the  logo for Star Trek. They should just call it Starfleet. Name all the shuttles after aircraft carriers. Find a guy named Kirk to run things. Make him wear velour miniskirts and go-go boots this time around. Fund the operation for three years and then let it go into syndication. Bring it back twenty years later with a much better Shakespearian actor named Picard and wear lycra leotards. Frankly the logo looks like a cursor for a 1990s GIS  app.

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 20, 2020 MLK and Moms 4 Housing

On January 3, 2020 WBUR’s Tonya Mosley and Serena McMahon reported “In California, homelessness has been labeled by many as a “crisis” — more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless population lives in the state.  Homelessness in the state grew by more than 16% — about 21,300 people — in 2019 alone, according to the latest official count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Oakland, homelessness increased nearly 50% over the past two years due, in large part, to rising rents and evictions. 

On January 8, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon reported “According to the most recent count, more than 4,000 Oakland residents are experiencing homelessness. Meanwhile, the city estimates the number of vacant properties at around 4,300.” Aaron Glantz, author of Homewreckers, said “corporate entities like Wedgewood have been acquiring properties across the country.” “As families began to lose their homes to foreclosure in 2008 and 2009, it wasn’t other people that came in and bought those homes. It was speculators buying through shell companies.” “In 2016, Wedgewood’s CEO boasted that the company purchased over 200 foreclosed or soon-to-be foreclosed homes nationwide a month, calling the distressed housing market “hot and sexy.”
 
On January 14, 2020 Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan González reported “Moms 4 Housing: Meet the Oakland Mothers Facing Eviction After Two Months Occupying Vacant House” On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker, one of the co-founders of Moms 4 Housing, moved into 2928 Magnolia Street in West Oakland California. Wedgewood Properties owned the vacant house and tried to evict them for illegally squatting on private property. The mothers filed a “right to possession” claim, saying housing is a human right. Dominique Walker said “There’s four vacant houses for every one homeless person in Oakland. We are reclaiming this house from a billion-dollar corporation who bought this house at a foreclosed price. It has been vacant for two years while people are living out on the street. We felt like this was necessary to take this step.” She also said “There are 6,000 to 8,000 folks sleeping on the streets. And that’s not even accounting for all of the unhoused people and housing-insecure. This house was owned by Wedgewood, a company that is a displacement machine. They’re composed of five different companies. They all play a role in the direct displacement of people. We’re taking a stand, and it doesn’t end with one house. We want to take Oakland back from all speculators. We’re not going to stop organizing until we all have shelter. I was born and raised in Oakland. And most of folks are either displaced out, at least 45 minutes to a couple hours out, or they’re displaced onto the street.” 
 
Amy Goodman said” “It’s not so much an issue of scarcity, but of distribution.” Democracy Now’s Marianne Maeckelbergh reported “In the last two years, homelessness in Oakland has increased by 47%. With average rental rates in Oakland rising to nearly $3,000 a month, there are few or no options for most people looking for housing.”
 
Carroll Fife, the director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment said “After the housing crisis and the foreclosure crisis of 2008, many homeowners lost their primary residences — their only residences. And so that allowed speculators and the banks that were bailed out by the government at that time to come in and scoop up homes at rock-bottom prices. So, that is still happening, and we’re still experiencing the impacts of the foreclosure crisis, with speculators owning 35% of the housing stock in America.” “So, some state that Oakland has the worst speculation crisis in the country. And that’s observable by how high the rents are. You have the median one-bedroom market-rate unit starting at around $2,500 a month. And so, the housing wage, which is different from the minimum wage or living wage, in Alameda County, where Oakland is located, is $40.88 per hour. And that is out of reach for many of Oakland’s working-class people.” “Wedgewood Properties has approximately 96 subsidiaries. And they are the real estate speculator that is holding the deed for Moms’ House. They are in the business of buying homes at rock-bottom prices and flipping them. And that is part of the problem why housing is so unaffordable in cities like Oakland. They buy houses by bulk, so 100 to 200 properties per month, if not more, in distressed neighborhoods — their words — and then they flip them and sell them to the highest bidder. So it puts home prices out of reach for many working-class people. So they drive up the cost of rents and the cost of actually purchasing a home, which is why homeownership levels are so low.”And that’s what’s criminal about this housing crisis. There are actually places where people can live. But because they’re private, they’re privately owned, it makes it difficult to even crack into what a solution could be, because the private industry doesn’t have to be held accountable. And that is what we’re saying is criminal. It should not be legal for anyone that owns property, particularly corporations.And we want to make a distinction, because that’s what’s been thrown around a lot, too, is that if an individual mom-and-pop owner of a property left it empty because they’re on vacation, then somehow Moms 4 Housing is advocating taking people’s personal property. That is completely and patently false. What we’re saying is corporations should not be able to hold vacant properties when there is a housing crisis. There should not be people living on the streets when there are places where they can live.” “This is — Oakland looks like an entirely different city than it did years ago, and it’s strictly due to corporations that are able to rent-gouge when they have homes for rent and charge way over market for homes that are not worth what they’re actually selling them for.  And so, this is starting a movement where people who are also experiencing housing insecurity, which means they pay more than 30% of their income in rent, are waking up, because they’ve seen this example of Moms 4 Housing define what the market trends are, and saying, “We deserve housing for all, not just for those who can pay the high price tags.”  
 
On January 15, 2020 NPR’s Molly Solomon interviewed Dominique Walker after her family was evicted. “The sheriffs came in. They came in like an army for mothers and babies.” “Armed officers, some wearing combat fatigues, knocked down the front door before handcuffing two of the mothers, Tolani King and Misty Cross. Two activists supporting the women were also arrested. Outside, a small crowd of protesters shouted down the officers.” They were shouting “Shame on you.” 
 
On January 16, 2020 Mother Jones reporter Marisa Endicott wrote “Police Said They Wouldn’t Be “Confrontational.” Then They Came in Riot Gear to Arrest Homeless Moms.” Oakland city council members, including Nikki Fortunato Bas and president Rebecca Kaplan, even got behind the moms and attempted to negotiate the sale of the home to the Oakland Community Land Trust”. Bas said “What the moms are doing is an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, saying that there was a human right to housing, a right to adequate housing.” “This movement is just beginning, and we see what we’re up against, but we also see what they’re afraid of. They’re afraid of us mobilizing over 300 people in 15 minutes. That’s what we did. Because we all care, and we all have humanity, and we want to change this system.” 
 
On January 20, 2020 KQED’s Kate Wolff reported “Moms 4 Housing Group Reaches Agreement to Buy Vacant House”. At an Oakland demonstration on Martin Luther King Day, Moms 4 Housing announced an agreement to buy the home through the Oakland Community Land Trust from Wedgewood. “Members of the group say once the sale goes through, they plan to move into the house and make it a headquarters for their movement. ”Dominque Walker said “We will not stop organizing and fighting until all unhoused folks who want shelter, have shelter.” Carroll Fife, director of Oakland Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a non-profit that supported Moms 4 Housing, called the agreement “a huge step.”  “What they’re doing is conceding to the pressure that’s been put on them by this movement,” Fife said about Wedgewood.
 

Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 19, 2020 Blumbers

Second Hottest Year

On January 15, 2020 NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reported “2019 Was The 2nd-Hottest Year On Record, According To NASA And NOAA” Hersher wrote:

 
“Last year was the second hottest on record globally, according to the latest climate data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.
 
It’s the latest confirmation that the Earth is steadily getting hotter — the planet has already warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (or almost 1 degree Celsius) compared with in the mid-20th century — and that robust greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming to continue unabated.”
 
Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said “The warming up until now since the 1970s has been quite close to linear,” he explains, so “you’d imagine we’d cross 1.5 [degrees Celsius] in around 2035. But of course that depends on what we do with emissions, and we’re not able to tell you looking at the past how society will react.” 
 
By 2035? We do not have much time. Time to vote.
 
Note: Robots delete all comments, unread.
 
Copyright 2020 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 29, 2019 Blumbers

Teen Decade: Transportation

After decades of getting easier, getting around is getting harder. Flying is slow, crowded and uncomfortable, unless you are on a private jet. Trains do not go everywhere you want.

Cars get stuck in traffic, but they have great sound systems. There was a guy listening to opera music in the next lane. Wouldn’t it be great if we all sang along? I got a car rental and was given no keys. I just turned on my phone and pressed a start button. The car steered its way through the parking lot and I took it from there. I still have to drive so I turned off the radio.

At the bottom of the transportation scale, urban streets resemble suburban cul de sacs from the 1950s. Grown adults are rolling around on skateboards, scooters and bicycles.  I expect to see coffee shops to turn into lemonade stands.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 22, 2019 Blumbers

Teen Decade: Affordable Housing and Manger Danger

The term “affordable housing” should bother you. The only kind of housing we should be building is affordable. Ask homeless veterans about their needs and they will say homes. Not socks. Not coats. Homes.

On Dec 11, 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle reported “Official: Cruise ship could house 1000 Oakland homeless” 

“OAKLAND, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area city official wants to explore the possibility of using a cruise ship to house up to 1,000 homeless people amid a high cost of living and a shortage of housing.  Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan told a council meeting Tuesday that the ship would be brought to the Port of Oakland, but port officials said Wednesday the move would be “untenable.”

“We respect President Kaplan’s desire to address homelessness but Port of Oakland docks are designed to work cargo ships, there isn’t the infrastructure to berth a cruise ship,” port spokesman Mike Zampa said.  The port is among the 10 busiest in the nation and safety and security issues in the federally regulated facilities “would make residential uses untenable,” Zampa said.  Kaplan didn’t immediately return a request for further comment from The Associated Press.

Kaplan said she has been contacted by cruise ship companies about providing a ship for emergency housing, and that the companies were reaching out to the Port of Oakland about what options exist to park a ship at the port, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She didn’t provide further details on those companies.  
 
Kaplan said she plans to present a proposal to the council in January that will be “no or low” cost to the city because residents of the cruise ship would pay for rooms based on their income. The city would not buy the cruise ship.  
 
Homelessness has spiked in Oakland in the past two years with the number of unsheltered people increasing from 1,900 to more than 3,000 people.  
 
“It could be a great way to house a lot of people quickly,” Kaplan told The Chronicle. “Cruise ships have been used for emergency housing after natural disasters and for extra housing for things like Olympics.”  
 
Kaplan compared her vision for an Oakland cruise ship to something like the Queen Mary in Long Beach in Southern California. The 1936 ocean liner is now a floating hotel with 347 rooms. A room with two twin beds rents for $141 a night and $146 a night for a full-size bed.  
 
“It could be like that,” Kaplan said. “But as affordable housing instead of hotel.”
 
This raises other solutions for the housing crisis. First, there all the homes not rented because the rent is too high. There are empty shopping malls and office parks all over the country that could be renovated. If you support a sports team, ask if they could turn over their government subsidized stadiums and parking lots. Divert their tax breaks for housing.
 
Homeless people are trying to find their own solutions. Yesterday in the Bay Area I saw someone pitch a tent in a suburban driveway of their former boss. Homeless people are moving into public parks next to monster mansions in Portland. One woman complained they were ruining her view from the solarium. The homeless vet complained she was ruining his view of compassionate behavior.
 
At some point a young homeless couple hiding from the authorities will have a baby in a shed…
 
Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 15, 2019 Blumbers

Teen Decade: Gig Economics

Most people can see growing inequality right in front of them. Everybody may have a job, or several jobs, but they are underpaid. The gig economy businesses that survive do so on the margins. AirBnB survives because people cannot afford a hotel room. Uber survives because people cannot afford a car. There are also very good reasons to regulate economic activity. There is a reason you want a licensed cab driver. There is a reason you want to stay at a licensed hotel. Insurance and inspections are good if there is an accident or fire. If your business model cannot afford theses precautions then you should work toward creating a society where you can. 

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 8, 2019 Blumbers

Teen Decade: Longevity

On December 3, 2019 NPR Morning Edition’s David Greene reported “Life Expectancy Study Jolts Assumptions Made About Life In America.” He talked about a Journal of the American Medical Association study  by Dr. Steven Woolf that says U.S. life expectancy is declining, and is not keeping pace with other wealthy countries. He looked at life expectancy, mortality across the United States between 1959 and 2017. Many will not live long enough to retire.

“In fact, our analysis intentionally looked at the data for all 50 states to try to locate where in the country this was happening the most. And what we found was that the increase was largest in the industrial Midwest, central Appalachia and northern New England but particularly in the Ohio Valley. That was like ground zero for this phenomenon. We found, for example, that of all the excess deaths that occur in the United States due to this increase in mortality, one-third of them occurred in four states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana. Those four states accounted for one-third of the excess deaths between 2010 and 2017.”

“But one very attractive explanation is the economy. This is the Rust Belt and the area where – at the time when this decline began, the 1980s and ’90s, is when we saw a major transformation in the economy, the loss of manufacturing jobs, coal mines closing, steel mills closing and families and communities exposed to many years of economic stresses. And we think they’re taking their toll on folks’ health.”

Woolf closed by saying “… we need to change our policy priorities in this country and focus more on improving the social and economic conditions for the middle class if we’re going to see a reversal to this trend.”

On December 9, 2019 NPR Morning Edition’s Jason Beaubien reported “There’s A New Kind Of Inequality. And It’s Not About Income” about the the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report. “Achim Steiner, the UNDP administrator, sums up the problem this way: “an increasing number of young people are educated, connected and stuck with no ladder of choices to move up.””

“What people perhaps 30, 40 years ago were led to believe and often saw around them,” Steiner says, “was that if you worked hard, you could escape poverty.” Yet in many countries today, he says upward social mobility is “simply not occurring” anymore.”

“UNDP’s Pedro Conceição, who oversees the Human Development Report, says their research shows that these global inequities are having huge impacts on individual lives.”

“If we look at what happened to a child born in the year 2000 in a low human development country compared to a child born in a very high human development country, there’s a 17% probability that the child [from the low development country] is not alive today, 20 years after she was born,” Conceição says. “While in a very high human development country, there’s only a 1% chance that the child is not alive today.”

Ultimately it is still about money. If you were born in a rich place twenty years ago, you not only get to grow up but go to college. Meanwhile poor people are seventeen times more likely to die. People are demonstrating around the world because they need money for education, housing and food to live.

“Inequalities in human development remain high and widespread,” he notes.

On a similar note, there is a new film called Dark Water starring Mark Ruffalo. It is about the true story of Cincinnati lawyer Robert Bilott who battled DuPont over toxic water pollution in West Virginia.

Let us make life less stressful for each other. People should live long enough to have a future. I guess there is something to that live long and prosper thing after all.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 1, 2019 Blumbers

Teen Decade: News

Every ten years I try to recap what I think is significant for future reference. In the last century we have seen people get their news from the mail to newspapers to radio to television to the internet. There have always been complaints about accuracy and bias. Journalists ask the standard questions of who, what, where, when, why and how. Ideally the story facts can be verified by reliable sources or public record. Frankly citizens have to do their jobs as well. Keep asking questions. Does it makes sense? Is it reasonable? What is the motive of whoever owns or controls the delivery? Can you back it up with facts? If they cannot state the facts, then it is opinion and goes to editorial.

If someone says something, what is their political party or affiliation? Whatever media you are looking at should display the the time and place it was recorded, the person’s full name and title, the political party affiliation, who they are getting funding from and their affiliation. All this information should be displayed every time they are on camera.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 29, 2019 STC Renewal

STC Renewal

Today I renewed my membership with the Society of Technical Communication. I recommend joining  STC. It is a great organization if you want to help people locally or around the world. I started out as a student member and took on a number of roles (including chapter president in Silicon Valley) and was eventually named fellow. Ultimately I was on the committee to help decide the next generation of fellows. It was interesting to be on the other side of what is a rigorous process to decide who was the best.

STC helps us learn new skills and network to find employment in an increasingly chaotic market. The goal was to help people and work toward better conditions for all. STC helped do that.

Despite all the advancements in information and communication, professional development inevitably comes down to people sitting down and talking with each other face to face. Many of us benefitted from the decades of hard work by its volunteers so the organization would be here for us. Let us be there for the members who will join long after we are gone.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 27, 2019 Amazon Safety

On Nov. 27, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition’s Will Evans reported “Amazon Warehouse Employees Face Serious Injuries”. Host Steve Inskeep was telling the audience that Amazon gave NPR money but the staff was running the story anyway. It was about unsafe working conditions at Amazon warehouses. About a minute into the story it stops and is switched to a story about refugees. I immediately checked on the web and had real trouble finding the story. Ars Technica is running a similar story. In the public interest, I finally found a transcript as seen below.

November 27, 2019 

Amazon Warehouse Employees Face Serious Injuries, Report Says  

A report from the Center for Investigative Reporting and The Atlantic reveals how Amazon warehouse employees are dealing with crippling injuries. NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to reporter Will Evans.  

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:  What is the human cost of Amazon’s convenience? The company delivers products from its warehouses to your door in days or even hours. Investigative reporters have found that drive for speed leaves Amazon warehouse employees with chronic pain and crippling injuries. They suffer serious injuries at more than double the industry average. We will tell you now that Amazon is a financial supporter of NPR News, and we are raising these questions about Amazon all the same, which is how it should work. The investigation came from the Center for Investigative Reporting, which publishes the program Reveal. Will Evans is one of the reporters leading this coverage. He joins us via Skype. Good morning.  

WILL EVANS: Good morning.  
 
INSKEEP: I want to work through one case that you examined here in a warehouse in Indiana. What happened there?  
 
EVANS: So there’s a worker named Phillip Lee Terry. He’s a 59-year-old grandfather. He was working on a forklift and when the – it fell on him, basically, and crushed him to death. There was a Indiana OSHA inspector who came in to investigate the death and found that there were some serious safety lapses.  
 
INSKEEP: OSHA – that’s for workplace safety. Now, when you talk about safety lapses, is that connected, in some way, to the drive to fulfill orders quickly?  EVANS: Well, we found broadly that the drive to fulfill orders quickly is injuring, you know, hundreds, thousands of workers at a very – at very high injury rates. In this particular case, the problem seemed to be that he wasn’t properly trained. That’s what the OSHA inspector said. That’s what some of the other workers there said. And it was interesting, that case, because Indiana was, at the same time, bidding for Amazon’s second headquarters to come to the state. And the inspector said he got political pressure to back off – to back off the case. And in the end, Indiana ended up deleting the safety citations.  
 
INSKEEP: Wow. OK. So we have so much money on the line that it is difficult to look into this. What is it about the nature of fulfilling orders quickly in an Amazon warehouse that gets people hurt?  
 
EVANS: So the workers are held to these very high production quotas, processing hundreds of items an hour for up to 12-hour shifts. They know that if they don’t keep up, they can be fired. And so they’re basically sacrificing their bodies either through repetitive stress injuries or strains and sprains. The speed is – seems to be the key element. And the safety – the former safety managers at Amazon that we talked to said they basically can’t protect the workers when the production demands are so high.  
 
INSKEEP: Let’s listen to one worker, Candice Dixon, who had a job in Southern California.  (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)  CANDICE DIXON: For Amazon, all they care about is getting the job done and getting it out fast and not realizing how it it’s affecting us and our own bodies.  
 
INSKEEP: Aren’t Amazon warehouses, though, supposed to have the very latest technology – robots to help retrieve packages, things that are supposed to make this a much easier job?  
 
EVANS: Yeah. It’s interesting. The robots bring the package and bring the items to the workers, so the workers don’t have to walk around for miles to find things. But because that’s so efficient and the robots are so fast, the workers are held to much higher production quotas. So they have to go faster and faster. And as one former safety manager told me, humans are basically tapping out. They can’t keep up.  
 
INSKEEP: They’re trying to turn people into robots, and they can’t quite do it.  
 
EVANS: That’s right.  
 
INSKEEP: Mr. Evans, thank you so much.  
 
EVANS: Thanks for having me.  
 
INSKEEP: Will Evans is a reporter for the Reveal team at the Center for Investigative Reporting.  
 

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline

Nov. 17, 2019 Blumbers

Seasons Greta

On Nov. 13, 2019 NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported Greta Thunberg’s last  message to America before sailing back to Europe. Thunberg said “We must realize this is a crisis, and we must do what we can now to spread awareness about this and to put pressure on the people in power,” she told The Guardian. “The U.S. has an election coming up soon, and it’s very important that for everyone who can vote, vote.”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 10, 2019 Blumbers

Who Flu Away

I was getting my flu shot and asked the doctor if there was anything else I could do to avoid getting sick. They dryly recommended I stay away from sick people. This is not practical advice. I can stop shaking hands but people tend to hug me even after photographing five hundred people. Bowing or nodding seems more reasonable. I could also switch to a telephoto lens. I could leave the retired lab monkey that carries my camera bag at home.

Note: Nice try guys, but you are too late.:-)

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 3, 2019 Blumbers

Election Year

In October 2019 on the CBS Late Show, Stephen Colbert talked about Barrett Tabeek, a wealthy financial adviser at Matauro, LLC, an affiliate of AXA. Tabeek said he was worried Americans will vote for candidates that will help poor people, workers, women and the environment. You know, most Americans.

A year from now you will cast your vote in the most important election in human history. You will have to do more than just vote. People are demonstrating all over the world trying to save it. You will have to work constantly and peacefully to change a system rigged against  you. A system with winners and losers is a system where ultimately everyone loses. If we win, we must all win.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 27, 2019 Blumbers

Safe Sox

Retail is in trouble and the trouble is retail. 

I was traveling and pulled into a discount store to buy some socks. The first thing I noticed were several disabled parking spaces near the front door had been replaced with online pickup spaces. The second thing were security guards patrolling the lot in white pickup trucks with flashing yellow lights. Instead of an older greeter inside, there was another guard. I was followed to the clothing section and discovered the socks are locked in a glass case. The guard said they locked them for safety reasons. At least I am safe from socks, lest I am attacked by argyles. I cannot tell the size of the socks or the fabric they are made of. The guard cannot unlock the case. He has to page an employee. Several minutes later I get to pick out the socks I want. There are ten automated checkout stations with no customers and only one human with ten customers in line. It will take over thirty minutes. The manager said it would go much faster if I used the automated checkout and a credit card. For five dollars worth of socks? He also urges me to use a smartphone and order the docs online. An employee would then deliver the socks to the pickup area or overnight anywhere in the country but not to the line I am standing in right now. I finally pay my money and head for the door. The security guard who has been at my side for the past hour turns me over to another guard who wants to see my receipt. I have had enough. I decline. State law does not require me to do this. He knows this. I walk to my car thinking flip flops are in my future. I won’t buy them here.

The receipt listed a website for complaints. I’d rather use my own. The service is better.

 Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 20, 2019 Blumbers

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Martin Luther King Jr.

A friend reminded me what King said in Montgomery Alabama back in 1957. I took it to heart. You do not have to do something extraordinary. You can help a little bit everyday by listening. I met lots of people everyday and started helping them find work. If I knew of a job somewhere I would pass it along. Eventually the people  who got a job would pass along another job for somebody else. I started a card catalog, then a list and finally a database. The  contact information starts with a name, address and phone number. It evolved to include fax numbers, email addresses, websites and social media. All records included their skills. It is a very large list. I joined organizations just so I could help other people find work in an increasingly crazy job market. You get an incredible view of the world when you see it all fit together.

King had a point. In the end, do you want to be remembered as somebody who helped strangers, friends, family or just yourself?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 13, 2019 Blumbers

Darkness After Midnght

Last week I got a message from Pacific Gas and Electric saying they were cutting off my electricity starting at midnight. They estimated there would be no power for a couple of days. They said they did not want to start a wildfire like the one that destroyed the town of Paradise last year.

It made me wonder about why we still have electric utilities. In the twentieth century, power generation was a very complicated capital and labor intensive business. You had to have access to coal or oil that had to be brought to a generator by railroad or pipeline. Maybe you had to build a hydroelectric dam or expensive nuclear power plant.  It was all eventually sent by wire on a grid to millions of homes. Apparently you needed a large organization to do that.

In the twenty-first century, you could connect a solar panel on every roof to a battery in every building. No complex smart grid. No complex network of power lines to spark from one falling tree. Just a glorified extension cord to power your refrigerator. It would localize any damage and not disrupt entire regions. We could then choose if we wanted darkness after midnight.

Here is an idea. When the utility executives cut our power, how about they cut the power in their homes in solidarity? A little feedback as an incentive.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 10, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 10, 2019 SNR’s Jeff Vonkaenel wrote “Money’s All Spent Can’t Pay The Rent” about affordable housing. “In the last tweet years, those in the top 1% of net worth have increased their share of our country’s wealth from 30% to 39%.” To fix income inequality, Elizabeth Warren is proposing for a 2% wealth tax on the richest 75,000 Americans to bring in as much as 2.75 trillion over a ten year period.

Sammy Caiola wrote “Andrew Yang: I’ll show You The Money.” Andrew Yang proposes a universal income of $1000 per month to every American to lift people out of poverty. A pilot program in Stockton showed that most of the money went toward food, clothing and utilities.

SEIU Local President Yvonne R. Walker wrote “Making Changes One Bill At A Time” about California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). It turned more than a million gig working “contractors” into employees.

In other legislation, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would cap annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation to maximum of 10% effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Debbie Arrington wrote “Local Market Neared All-Time Record” about the housing market volume and median sales prices dipping downward. This is similar to the crash of 2008.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 6, 2019 Blumbers

The Best Defense

Why take offense when it is given so freely?

I heard that people who use social media get depressed. If it does why use it? I am barely on any of them. I use the extra time to interact with people in person.  My failure to read between the lines or even read the bold print online  has been very successful. If there is a problem with me you brought it with you. You will have to tell me directly and in person, otherwise I will never know and just keep right on going. Slights, insults, implications or bullying are never noticed.

Frankly it is easier to have human or digital assistants screen through what few social media I do subscribe. They cannot take it personally and neither do I.

The idea is to be funny and it works.

Note: Did you buy the bus just to throw people under it? I was taught to avoid strange people in vans. Naturally the color fits.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 29, 2019 Blumbers

Digital Dividend

I taught a college software course. One day a student had no choice but to bring her very young daughter to class. We put her at the computer next to her mother and started the class. It was against the rules but this arrangement made the difference. The mother completed the class and her degree. 

Years go by. Last summer the mother sent me a picture of her daughter graduating from college. She attributed her daughters early experience in our class with her now teaching STEM classes.

It was good news. It is how civilization is supposed to work. The more people you help, the more people can help others. 

Note: You know you are killing the planet when you have a vehicle so large it will not fit in any of your three garages. BTW: Who is still buying Cadillacs?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All right reserved.

Sep. 26, 2019 SNR

On Sep. 26, 2019 SNR’s Ben Irwin wrote “Outbid On The Side” about the affordable ownership housing program in Davis.

Rachel Becker wrote “Mixed Bag On Plastics” about California’s Assembly failure in ending single use plastics. As of 2017 China is no longer accepting recycled plastic waste.

Special reporter Olivia Monahan.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 22, 2019 Blumbers

What The Floyd

I was in a record store that was going out of business. I found Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here in the F’s not the Ps. Obviously some teen age employee thought Pink Floyd was a first and last name. This was funnier because there is a song on the album called Have A Cigar where a record company executive meets the group and wants to know “Which One’s Pink?”

I guess the next question is “What is Pink Floyd’s middle name?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.