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. 24, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 24, 2019 SNR published SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker’s article “You Are Not Alone.” “On average, older workers age 56 to 61 – very close to traditional retirement age – have $17,000 saved for retirement. The average social Security monthly payment is $1377. Walker wrote that Social Security only taxes income up to $132,900, Removing that cap would raise billions of dollars to help senior citizens.

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. 17, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 17, 2019 SNR’s Foon Rhee wrote “My Generation: How Can Millennials Do Better? Vote. Because of the Great Recession and student loans millennials could be the first generation to to be worse off than their parents. A political group called Young Invincibles is trying to get millennials to vote.

Scott Thomas Anderson wrote “The Twilight Zones” about the PG&E blackout in Nevada City. Richard Calkins said”The Bottom line  is , there’s a lot of people here who want to know if we’re being punished because PG&E is losing its lawsuit. What’s the real motivation?” Governor Gavin Newsom said “This is not a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades. neglect, a desire to advance not public safety, but profits.” The governor called for refunds to customers.

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 put 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. 11, 2019 Vanity Fair

On Oct. 11, 2019 Vanity Fair Hive’s William D. Cohan wrote “A Decision Between Sickness And Death: Wall Street Tries To Get Its Mind Around a Warren Presidency.” This article is so important that the full article is below:

You can tell Wall Street is getting more than a little worried that Elizabeth Warren may become the next president of the United States when research reports start popping up about what her presidency might mean for the financial markets. Spoiler alert: It’s not good.  
 
In a note to his high-net-worth clients on October 8, Barrett Tabeek, a financial adviser at Matauro, LLC, an affiliate of AXA, the giant French insurance company, makes clear that a Warren presidency won’t be good for corporate earnings, which means she won’t be good for the stock market, which means she won’t be good for shareholders who have no doubt gotten quite used to the stock market highs unleashed by Donald Trump’s massive tax cut for corporate America. “Everyone has their hierarchy of what’s important,” Tabeek wrote, “and Warren is an unapologetic populist who, if in power, would enact policies designed to reduce corporate earnings to benefit other stakeholders.” In the group that stands to benefit from a Warren presidency, Tabeek puts “workers,” then the “environment” and “those with lower incomes,” and finally “women and minorities.”  
 
While he’s adamant that he’s not being political in his four-page note, Tabeek evaluated 10 of Warren’s policy proposals—among them, “ban fracking,” “increased taxes on the wealthy,” “break up big tech,” and “reinstate Glass- Steagall”—and pretty much declares that they will reduce corporate profits, reduce incomes for the super-wealthy, and raise gasoline prices for consumers. “The bottom line is that from a market standpoint, all of these policies would be negative for stocks, with some being downright negative for the broad markets (by reducing corporate earnings broadly) while others would be material negatives for certain sectors (large-cap tech, prison stocks, defense stocks, etc.),” he wrote. “How negative would these policies be for stocks? No one knows exactly, but it’s safe to say they’d be negative.”  
 
Wall Street’s best hope, Tabeek notes, is that most of the policies that Warren would like to enact would need congressional approval, “and as such they are unlikely to be approved, at least based on what we know now.” He wrote that polls suggest that Warren is “more liberal than most Democrats (and obviously Republicans) so even if Democrats were to sweep (controlling Congress and the presidency), it’s unclear how many of these policies would be enacted,” although he pointed out that some of her policies, such as having the EPA ban fracking, could be done by executive order.   But actually, Tabeek is significantly more pessimistic than many others on Wall Street, who don’t yet see Warren as either the inevitable Democratic nominee yet or that she would necessarily govern—if she’s elected president—as radically as she comes across in her stump speeches. For all her regulatory fervor, she still describes herself as a capitalist—and she hasn’t yet passed through the crucible of a general election, which can sometimes, though not always, have a moderating effect.  
 
Robert Wolf, who has his own advisory firm and has been described as Obama’s favorite Wall Street banker, sees Warren as “having the most momentum in the populist lane” while Joe Biden, Obama’s former vice president, is “still the guy in the moderate lane.” He hesitates to say that Bernie Sanders is out of the picture, especially since within days of suffering a heart attack, he announced that he had raised $25 million from 1.4 million unique donors, “which is just off the charts in both ways.” He also can envision Sanders playing a key role, should he decide that his health scare prevents him from pushing forward with his campaign. Such a move, if it were to happen, would obviously favor Warren. “There’s no question that the role he decides to play—whether he continues onward or decides to align his movement with Elizabeth Warren—will definitely be one of the major steps in the primary season,” Wolf says. (There’s no indication, yet, that Sanders plans to pack it in.) 
 
Wolf is much less worried about Warren’s policies than he would be about Sanders’s policies. “She’s to the right of Bernie, but much to the left of Biden,” he continues. “She wants to promote capitalism, and we still need to figure out what that means to her. The way she comes across is: She wants capitalism to be fair and balanced and regulated. And I think that we need to better understand what it means ‘to be regulated’—which is fine, as long as we keep the ‘fair and balanced.’ It’s to be determined what that all means, and I’m not losing sleep yet, because, in my opinion, we’re still in an environment where there’s a big difference between populist rhetoric and the ability to execute a plan when you need congressional approval.”  
 
He thinks of Wall Street in simple terms: 40% are staunch Democrats who will vote for Elizabeth Warren over Donald Trump; 40% are staunch Republicans who will vote for Donald Trump over Elizabeth Warren. Then there’s the 20% in the middle. In 2008 that 20% went for Barack Obama. In 2012 it went for Mitt Romney. In 2016 it went for Hillary Clinton. “I don’t know where they’re going to go today,” he concludes. “Because an incredible number of people in financial services are exhausted by the Trump chaos.” 
 
Another Wall Street bigwig and longtime Democratic Party stalwart likes to use a football metaphor when it comes to figuring out who the Democratic nominee will be. He thinks Warren has one spot in the Democratic Super Bowl locked up; the other spot looks like it will go to Biden but there are a host of more centrist Democratic candidates—Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar—who are going to use the next debate, scheduled for October 15, to try to displace Biden as the inevitable challenger to Warren. But they can’t go after Biden directly. “People have already been burned by that stove,” he says. He says they will go after Warren, instead of Biden, in order to displace Biden as Warren’s challenger. It’s a subtle strategy. “It’s a little bit of a bank shot,” he continues, “but you’re going out to be the alternative to Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren, on today’s facts, has a spot at the Super Bowl. That could change. The trick here is for someone to basically say, ‘I am the person who can take on Elizabeth Warren. Let’s get down to the two of us or three of us.’” And what are his Wall Street brethren thinking about Warren? “They’re all whiny,” he says. “Every time they open their blanking mouths, they probably gain Warren another 50,000 votes.”
 
But another longtime Wall Street banker who has also been involved with Democratic politics has been impressed with Warren’s political skills. “She’s putting together a great campaign,” he says. “She has a great message. She’s resonating. She is smart politically, smarter than the rest of them.” He likes that she doesn’t “sugarcoat” things. And many parts of her message are resonating with him. In small groups, he says, she tones down her anti–Wall Street rhetoric and she’s becoming more moderate. “She’ll [now] put it differently,” he says, “which I don’t disagree with, which is ‘Do you think our country would be better off if we had less inequality?’ Well, I can’t argue with that. Of course, the answer is yes.” He seems genuinely impressed by her. “I think she’s incredibly smart and much more reasonable towards what she wants to do for this country than people think,” he continues. “A lot of what she does is against my own personal interest, but I think she has the greater interest at heart. And I like that. Okay. And she does not talk crazy.” He thinks she can win if she focuses her message on having wealthy individuals pay higher taxes than they are now, rather than talking about remaking capitalism by attacking corporate America. (He also thinks Tom Steyer, the billionaire and former hedge fund manager, is someone to watch at the next debate.)
 
When he first started talking to people on Wall Street and in corporate America about Warren, their reaction was “Elizabeth Warren. Oh, my God, this is crazy. Forget it.” He doesn’t hear that anymore. “I hear, like, ‘Nah, might not be so great, but God, this guy Trump is killing me.” He talks to corporate CEOs across America. He says they are worried. “They are very worried about Donald Trump,” he says. “Where we are as a country, and what Donald Trump’s next term looks like. They get the uncertainty. The unpredictability. The craziness. The losing our station in the world.”  Somewhat incredibly, on Wall Street, Trump is now viewed as a worse choice than Warren. “The prospect of a 2020 election between Elizabeth Warren on the one hand and a lame duck Donald Trump on the other—scary as hell—has people nervous,” another senior Wall Street banker tells me. “It feels like it’s going to be a decision between sickness and death.” He’s hoping for political gridlock—a Warren victory with a Republican Senate or a Trump victory with a Democratic House—so neither person can really get much done legislatively. He says many of his Wall Street brethren think Warren would be worse than Trump, for them. “Trump has not declared war on Wall Street,” he says. “Wall Street hasn’t gotten damaged by Trump whereas they can feel the damage coming with Warren.”
 
He has a different point of view. “I think both Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump are existential dangers to the United States, to what we stand for, to the pillars of our society, to the economic and political leadership internationally,” he says. “They’re both really dangerous to the United States. I happen to think that Trump is more dangerous. So when I have to pull the lever, I’d probably pull it for Elizabeth Warren and hope and pray that there is enough of a moderate middle in the legislative branch to prevent insane things from happening.”  
 
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.

Oct. 3, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 3, 2019 SNR’s Foon Rhee wrote “Facing The Forever Drought” about California’s large water recycling projects.

Judy Lin and Ben Christopher wrote “”After Banner Year For Labor Will Workers Unionize?” Thanks to AB5, Charter school teachers, child care workers and gig workers can now join unions in California.

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.

Sep. 12, 2019 SNR

On Sep. 12, 2019 SNR’s Scott Thomas Anderson wrote “5G for Fighting” about the December 2018 Lancet article stating “Mounting scientific evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation has serious biological and health effects.”

A report from Danielle Simone Brand.

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.

For Future Reference