Category Archives: Commentary

Apr. 14, 2019 Blumbers

Tax Day

US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society. You help millions of people when you do. Sometimes yourself.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 31, 2019 Blumbers

California Rising Sea Levels

On March 23, 2019 in Mother Jones, Nick Bowlin reported “The Vulnerability of California’s Coast Is Terrifying.” Patrick Barnard of the US Geological Survey headed the study. Pacific storms can surge several meters on top rising sea levels of at least one or two meters by 2100. “A quarter-meter would endanger more than $30 billion in property—and more than 150,000 Californians””In that scenario, researchers expect that $150 billion in property and 600,000 residents would be impacted by flooding. And if sea level rise approaches three meters by 2100, an unlikely but possible scenario, more than 3 million people would be exposed to flood risk.”

Brett Milligan of University of California-Davis “San Francisco Bay would need to spend up to $450 billion on climate-adaptation projects—including higher seawalls, infrastructure protections, wetland and shoreline restoration, flood control and more—to defend itself against an extreme storm if sea levels rise by two meters.””Cities and officials need to realize that retreat from the coast is inevitable in some areas, and that retaining all low-lying areas and current infrastructure is unlikely” said Milligan. “There are lots of cities thinking about this study and assessing their vulnerability,” said USGS oceanographer and study co-author Juliette Finzi Hart.

“Rich homeowners may be able to rebuild, or move to higher ground, Barnard said. But others might lack the financial capacity to rebuild or relocate. Already, natural disasters have been shown to disproportionately impact economically disenfranchised communities and people of color. Milligan called it the hardest question: “How are we going to provide equitable solutions?”

Time to sell the beach house… in Fresno.

Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

Mar. 17, 2019 Blumbers

Admission Accomplished  

On March 12, 2019 in Boston, CNN reported Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts said that from 2011 through 2019 wealthy parents wanting to get their kids admitted to top universities allegedly paid William Rick Singer of Edge College & Career Network LLC (‘The Key’) to create false academic and athletic credentials and bribe college college staff. Parents allegedly paid between $200,000 and $6.5 million for this service. Boston FBI special agent in charge Joseph Bonavolonta called the operation Varsity Blues. The accused parents are CEO’s, investors, lawyers, and celebrities. The accused staff are athletic coaches and college exam administrators from Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas, Austin, Wake Forest University and Yale University.   The charges include conspiracy, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice, cheating on tests such as the SAT and ACT and even faking photographs. Lelling said “There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy. And there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.” As these wealthy parents will learn, it is better to go to a state university than a state prison. 

This is yet another example of income inequality getting so out of control that it is difficult for poor people to improve their lives through education. Many can barely afford college and are mired in student loan debt. A free college education for all would help everyone. That way an electrical engineer can compete against someone with a masters degree in tennis. Sometimes it is not the Ivy League surgeon who saves your life, it is the community college EMT.

Quite often I will run into Silicon Valley companies that want only candidates from top universities. Often the companies are disappointed with graduates who cannot perform. They are young, attractive, wealthy people. Most of these companies fail because they have no idea what life is like for billions of other people. When it comes to hiring from universities, hire the brain and not the brand.

Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.

Mar. 10, 2019 Blumbers

The Last Gas Gasp

There has been a lot of talk about a Green New Deal converting vehicles to renewable energy. I don’t see that on the street …yet. I see old gas stations getting new fuel tanks and several new stations under construction. I cover emerging technology but there also is submerging technology. It reminded me of walking around a Blockbuster Video store or Border’s bookstore. I knew at some point that they would close, but when? What was the last VHS cassette you rented or hard cover book you bought? Where will you buy your last tank of gas?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 3, 2019 Blumbers

The Price of Poverty

On Feb. 28, 2019 in Washington DC, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a nonpartisan report on child poverty in the United States.  Poor health and high crime from poverty costs the US nearly $1.1 trillion a year. In 2015 an estimated 9.6 million children live in poverty or about $26,000 annual income for a family of four. How to solve this crisis? Proposals like promoting marriage, family planning, mandatory work requirements do not work. More effective recommended solutions include increasing the earned income tax credit, increasing dependent care tax credits, expanding housing vouchers and food stamps. It would cost $90.7 billion a year but would  cut child poverty in half in a decade.

FBI agent Bill Douglas said in his book MIndhunters “Bill Tafoya, the special agent who served as our ‘futurist’ at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten-year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent into the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs.”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 24, 2019 Blumbers

Probation Nation

On Feb. 13, 2019 Trevor Noah of the Daily Show appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert proposed that elected positions be limited to one term. Politicians would not have to worry about getting reelected. Most likely they would become lobbyists. At least it would require a constant influx of new talent. Another idea would be to have a probationary period of ninety days. If they seem unfit for office, the candidate who came in second takes their place.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 17, 2019 Blumbers

Trawling

We are still trying to get artificial intelligence right with Autocorrect. I got a message from someone who said they were trawling. They meant to say traveling. I pictured them on an Alaskan fishing boat like an episode of The World’s Most Dangerous Catch. In fact, they were eating sushi on a plane.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 3, 2019 Blumbers

Polar Vortexting

Last week there were record breaking below zero temperatures in the Midwest and Northeastern United States. It is an example of how chaotic and dangerous the weather is becoming. We need to have infrastructure and social safety nets to help people deal with the change.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 20, 2019 Blumbers

Kings Rule

It is over fifty years since Martin Luther King’s death. People should remember that he was fighting poverty when he died. He was in Memphis trying to get decent wages for public employees. His words and work are more relevant than ever. None of us is free until we are all free.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 13, 2019 Blumbers

Shutdown The Shutdown

Last year about this time the Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 26000. I said it was not sustainable. The DJIA is now about 23000. This means it dropped about ten points a day. Some say it was the worst performance since the First Great Depression of the 1930s. Global trade wars are adding to the chaos, but the shutdown of many federal government services is making things worse. You do not know how important something is until it is gone. While a few people complain about government, there is a reason for a lot of it. Over the years the people have encountered a problem and fixed it with a program of one kind or another. You might be annoyed with a stop sign, but it allows you to drive safely through an intersection. It is better to have a fully functioning civilization and not need one than to need one and not have one. So contact your political representatives and tell them to do their jobs so we can do ours.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 6, 2018 Blumbers

Count Spatula

A store sent me a ten dollar non-transferable gift card. I did not want to spend any more money, so I bought a ten dollar spatula. They kept sending me gift cards and I kept buying spatulas. I had a drawer full of them. I always had a clean spatula. I started giving them to friends and family. I became known as Count Spatula.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 30, 2018 Blumbers

Year In Review

Several years ago I had a rough idea of where things were headed and decided to do something about it. I worked with many other people who felt the same way. If enough people are motivated you can change the direction of history. You just have to keep working at it.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 16, 2018 Blumbers

Voyager

According to NASA, both Voyager spacecraft have left the heliosphere of the solar system. Imagine being on a mission for decades. Sending your reports and pictures to people who were not even born when you left. Going further than anyone imagined. Keep going.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 9, Blumbers

You Are Next

Someone complained that homeless people were being helped after the wildfire destroyed Paradise. They did not like the long term homeless ‘mixing in’ with the new homeless. I have got some news for you. We are heading into very uncertain times. Anyone can become homeless, including you. We have to create a society where everyone is taken care of, regardless of circumstance.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved. 

Nov. 11, 2018 Blumbers

Armistice Day

A hundred years ago, World War One ended on the eleventh month of the eleventh day on the eleventh hour. The war did not end all wars. It led to World War Two. Recently I sat in a college history class and a young student just discovering WWI and said to a friend “If there was a WWII there had to be a WWI.” In the future, let us hope there does not have to be a WWIII to jog their memory.

Over the century Europe has made progress. A hundred years ago it was run by a wealthy few as millions of refugees fled to the United States. Now there are social supports, NATO and the European Union. Countries are so interdependent on each other that it is difficult to Brexit. They have been so successful that refugees now flee to Europe. It is a sign you are doing something right.

Beyond this bigger picture is an individual one. Somewhere in France at this very moment a friend is looking for his grandfather’s grave. I hope Tim finds his Ted Bronson.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

Nov. 4, 2018 Blumbers

Time For Change

Time to change your clocks and your leadership. I know people who lost their jobs, homes and healthcare. They died before they could vote. Their pre-existing condition became a post-existing one. We need to take better care of each other. That is what civilization is all about.

How do we avoid becoming a nation of poor, homeless and dying refugees in an apocalyptic wasteland? You get involved. Voting is important. If you cannot change leadership, become the leadership. Raise your voice until you are heard. Never give up and keep pushing until they give.

It is going to be a busy couple of days/weeks/months/years.

Vote.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 28, 2018 Blumbers

Voted

These days Halloween is no longer the scariest day of the year. Election day is. After months of getting other people registered to vote, I got my ballot in the mail.  I gathered all my research and quietly filled out the form. It is great to vote by mail because there is no hurry. There is no line of people behind you. You sign it and drop it in the mail.

Sometimes you vote for an issue that affects you directly, other times for the greater good. How many times have you walked by someone suffering on the street and wanted to help? If you vote, you can help.

One vote can make a difference. Many times I have sat on panels, boards, committees and council meetings and been the deciding vote. Several organizations I belong to exist today because of one vote. What do these organizations do? They help people find jobs, housing, education and healthcare.

Oddly, there are some who do not want to help other people… until they become those other people.

You are already the other. Vote.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 21, 2018 Blumbers

Bonesaw

On October 2, 2018, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was reportedly killed by at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul Turkey. His body was dismembered by a bone saw.

Journalists are under attack all over the world. When you keep a journalist from covering a story, you are a bad guy. Killing a journalist does not kill the story. In many cases the story does not go away, it just gets bigger.

Think about this as I fill out my ballot. I want candidates who support a free press and human rights around the world. We must be able seek and speak the truth if we are going to survive.

Vote. Your life depends on it.

Copyright 2018  DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 14, 2018 Blumbers

Voting Early

Election Day is November 6, 2018 but I already received my sample ballot in the mail. I like sitting at my desk and carefully researching each issue and candidate. It is better than rushing through the ballot in the voting booth.

One way to evaluate is to measure how much campaign literature you receive in the mail. If you get lots of colorful brochures, rich bad guys paid for that and you should probably vote the other way. If you see lots of the same commercials on television, those are paid for by the bad guys. If you see lots of signs on lawns, those are expensive too. A well financed campaign is backed by people who are well financed. You are not.

Another approach is to be reasonable. Will the issue or candidate help you? Will it help people you know? Will it help people you do not know? Will it help a few wealthy people or millions of ordinary people?

Do you know the candidates personally? Lots of people this year have decided to do more than vote, and become candidates themselves. I am so proud when a friend decides to run for office. Of course I vote for them. I know them. Yeah, it might be just for the local school board, but schools are important. Some student is going to grow up and become a candidate.

Voting by mail is great. Voting early is great too. I have seen voters line up around the block of their local Board of Elections. There seemed to be a lot of women this year. I wonder why.

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

Oct. 7, 2018 Blumbers

Voting Shirt

I saw a young man wearing a t-shirt with the word “vote” printed on it. I  asked him if he was registered. He was not.

This is a  problem. You not only have to talk about voting, you have to actually vote.

Vote!

Copyright 2018 DJ Cline All rights reserved.