Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

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. 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.

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. 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.

Sep. 8, 2019 Blumbers

Successful Failure

Some wealthy conservative billionaires died last month and not many people wept. They thought having the money, big house, big car and connections was a sign of success. In fact everything they did was a sign of failure. They climbed to the top of the heap not realizing it was on the bodies of other people. They made the world a hateful, poisoned place where more people had less money, less education, less housing, less transportation and less vibrant communities. They discovered too late that they could not take it with them and left a mess behind. They succeeded at losing everything. Do they want to be remembered for the most horrible shortsighted thing they ever did? Do they want people to celebrate their life or death?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 18, 2019 Blumbers

Sunfall tm

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed July was the Earth’s hottest month since record keeping began 140 years ago.” Climate change is real. Political change is too. Why do we pay to dig energy out of the ground when it falls from the sky for free?

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Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 11, 2019 Blumbers

Gun Uncontrol

There have been a number of mass shootings across the country. It does not have to be this way. The gun lobby wants to stigmatize people with disabilities. Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room doctor, associate professor of emergency medicine at Alpert Medical School, Brown University, and chief research officer of AFFIRM Research, a nonprofit focused on firearm injury reduction talked about the dangers of linking gun violence and mental Illness. The result might be discrimination against disabled people. 

As for the shootings, what will it take? What will be the tipping point? Whose child will have to die before we decide to end these tragedies? If you could prevent a tragedy, would you pay that price?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 4, 2019 Blumbers

Years and Years Fears

Nobody does dystopian like the British. I just watched all six episodes of Years And Years. I would like to think their skepticism is because of their recent battle with Brexit, but there are decades of evidence that this not a recent phenomenon. I point out the 1930s film Things To Come, which was Mad Max in black and white. There was Orwell’s 1984, so sad it was released in 1985. I think the TV film Threads was made about that time and once you see it you will be afraid to fall asleep. About ten years ago Clive Owen starred in Children Of Men which might as well have been a BBC news documentary. Years and Years carries on this tradition where things get worse and worse. It is ripped from the headlines of obsolete newspapers. The heroes fight back but there are casualties. For taking place so far away, the series hits close to home.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 28, 2019 Blumbers

Compact Discstruction

I seldom paid full price for compact discs. I went to used CD stores, flea markets or garage sales. I thought anthologies, boxed sets, collections and greatest hits had more value than twenty bucks for one song. Occasionally you would find very eclectic music intended to be played in shopping mall clothing stores or plumbing conventions.

At that point I had a 100 CD player jukebox with the potential to play over 1000 songs. It became obsolete when I was able to load the music directly to hard drives with the capacity to play thousands of songs. Despite that, I never downloaded anything from the internet. I paid for it fair and square. I liked having the physical media as backup if the hard drives died (that happened more than once). I never uploaded to the cloud or streamed. As technology and business models progressed, record stores began closing.

The day came when one of the last record stores announced it was closing and I decided to browse for one last time. The crowds were crazy and the store was a mess.

One thing I noticed over the years is how hard it is to find used Pat Metheny. People seem to buy and hang on to it. I was looking through the jazz section for Metheny and found a misfiled Johnny Mathis singing the song 99 Miles. I had been looking for that song for years. There it was, like a crystal skull in an Indiana Jones movie.  Online shopping could not duplicate the feeling. A search engine is not as good as searching for it yourself.

Suddenly the lights in the store flashed on and off. It was closing time. I was last in line as I paid a dollar. I stood on the sidewalk as they locked the door behind me.

It is probably the last CD I will ever buy.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 21, 2019 Blumbers

Going Forward

I have been thinking about the moon landing and where we are now. Sometimes you can’t go back where you came from because it isn’t there anymore.

If you have worked with NASA, you have worked with immigrants. Many were attracted to the United States because of its space program. Some walked through jungles or deserts, ran from tanks, swam through shark infested waters just to work in the cubicle next to you. I know of one woman whose grandfather fled the Armenian genocide to Syria. His son fled Syria to Cuba. His daughter fled Cuba to America. She grew up in Florida and became an aerospace engineer. With a family history like that, the odds that her children would flee Earth is within the realm of possibility.

We need to help each other on our journeys through life.

We need leaders who are not so worried about where we came from and think more about where we want to go.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 14, 2019 Blumbers

In Spite Of Everything

The current president has ordered ICE to start rounding up people he does not like in major cities across the country. I kind of thought that the entire country was a sanctuary for all people, not just people you like.

I always get a little nervous when this happens. Where will it end? Seventy five years ago Anne Frank said “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Imagine if you knew someone was hiding. Just trying to survive. Would you go to your boss or authorities and give them up? Would you be able to carry that weight? Or would you fold yourself into a ball and close your eyes to the suffering in front of you?

What will you do when they knock on your door?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 7, 2019 Blumbers

Plumbing Answer

Signs on restroom doors have gotten complicated. I saw solution and I’ll have to go back and take a picture of it. Rather than a stylized picture of a person, it was a picture of toilet. Sometimes the solution is not depicting the user, it is depicting the use.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun 30, 2019 Blumbers

Website 25

This marks my twenty fifth year on the web. My first website was painfully assembled HTML. Fifteen years ago Doug Wray came up with one of the first WordPress designs that you see here. I hope for many more versions over the next few years. Thank you for visiting. This site continues to do its work.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 16, 2019 Blumbers

Flag Of Many Colors

It is Pride Month. The old divisions and polarities are shredded and rewoven into a flag, with each thread a different person. Reinforcing old divisions or creating new barriers does not move us forward. When some people complain about emasculating this or defeminizing that, those terms are Victorian steampunk. They want to deny someone a job, housing, education or basic human rights because they are uncomfortable. The differences were always there and they will have get used to the rest of humanity. The flag is still there.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.