Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

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? Future generations will curse their names. 

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.

Jun. 9, 2019 Blumbers

Freedom Anniversaries

The last few days have seen a series of anniversaries for human rights. A hundred years ago American women got the right to vote. Seventy five years ago Allied forces invaded France on D-Day. Fifty years ago the Stonewall riots erupted in New York City. Thirty years ago Chinese students protested in Tiananmen Square. At this very moment there are a million protestors in the streets of Hong Kong. All these events are part of a progression toward greater freedom. If you can read this, it is working.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 2, 2019 Blumbers

Commencent Address

As I look out across all of you here today I am reminded of all those who could not be here. They never had a chance to go to college. Whatever personal goals you have, you should work toward making college free for all. Without the burden of debt, this investment fights poverty. It creates a middle class important for democracy.  

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 26, 2019 Blumbers

Snakes Skates And Automobiles

You see a lot of things in California. I saw a man skating down the street with a large snake wrapped around his left arm. I would have taken a picture but I was driving. I had a lot of questions. Was he on his way to lunch with a fire eater, a juggler and a small car full of clowns? Was it for personal defense? Was it a rescue snake? Was it an emotional support snake? Was he moving the snake away from actor Samuel L. Jackson? Was he just taking it for a walk… or slither?

Copyright 2019 DJ cline All rights reserved.

May 19, 2019 Blumbers

HBO Reviews

There is lot on HBO these days.

Barry

Bill Hader and Henry Winkler lead a great cast on a dark journey. A veteran hit man considers switching to acting. Tarentino meets Saturday Night Live.

Game of Thrones

Never watched it. I usually wait until a series is over. I then watch the first and last episodes. If it is worth it I watch the whole thing. That is rare. Frankly I already know a lot about medieval Europe and the reality is much stranger than fantasy. The good news is it is finished.

Chernobyl

An environmental catastrophe is denied by a powerful Russian elite while millions of people suffer. Quite a lesson. Some very brave people sacrificed themselves to save the rest of us. Years later we learn their story. The scariest moments are simple like a dead bird on a sidewalk or a flashlight going out.

Veep

It started out surreal but could not keep up with our current Surrealty. Kind of a warning of how weird things are right now.

Wyatt Cenac Problem Areas

Funny approaches to serious issues. Love the retro set.

Gentleman Jack

The story of the very real Ann Lister in 1830s England. If you studied gender issues or were there at the revolution you probably know about her. She left a large amount of documentation to future generations. I like the song played over the credits.

Behind her back
She’s Gentleman Jack
The Yorkshire lady of renown
Ever so fine
Won’t toe the line.
Speak her name 
And gentlemen frown.
At Shibden hall
She had them all
The  fairer sex
Fell under spell.
Dapper and bright 
She held them tight
Handsome Ann
Seduced them well
Gentleman Jack
Oh Gentleman Jack
Watch your back
You’re under attack
The husbands are coming 
You better start running
For nobody likes a Jack the Lass
Jack the Lass
Jack the Lass
No one likes 
A Jack the Lass
The code is cracked
Your bags are packed
The knives are out 
For Gentleman Jack
 
Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.
 

May 12, 2019 Blumbers

Lunar Library

Full disclosure, I am a charter member of the Long Now Foundation. They try to think about how to communicate with future generations, including launching time capsules into space. Last month an Israeli Beresheet lunar lander crashed on the Sea of Serenity. It contained data from Long Now’s PanLex and Rosetta projects in its Lunar Library. It is not the first time they have tried this. One time capsule was placed in Elon Musk’s Tesla and launched into solar orbit back in February of 2018. Also, a Rosetta disk is already on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. According to Long Now’s Executive Director Alexander Rose “If the Lunar Library remains intact, then all the analog and digital knowledge contained in the 25 layers currently resides on the Moon, perhaps for hundreds of millions of years to even billions of years.”

Imagine that. Imagine backing up everything you have ever written, every picture you ever took and having it seen a thousand, million or billion years from now. You would get the last word from a lost world.

By the way, this marks the twenty fifth anniversary and third version of this website. That is a lot of content to back up.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 5, 2019 Blumbers

Scooter Litter

A disabled veteran uses an electric wheelchair to get around San Francisco. Lately he has found sidewalks littered with abandoned electric scooters blocking his path. He had several ideas on how to deal with them. The first was to put a cow catcher on the front of his device similar to what you would see on a steam locomotive to push the debris out of the way. The second idea was a using a small crane with a electromagnet commonly used in scrap metal yards. The third idea was to outfit his device with large monster truck tires to drive over the top of abandoned scooters. I suggested an app which would identify whoever abandoned a scooter on social media.

Copyright 2019 DJ cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 28, 2019 Blumbers

Candidate Census

Right now there are over twenty people running for president of the United States. At this rate, maybe the big question on next year’s census should not be “Are you a citizen?” but “Are you running for president?”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 21, 2019 Blumbers

Falternative

On April 16, 2019 Dave Davies of NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed Bill McKibben about his new book on climate change “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” Middle East and Indian inland countries are experiencing heat wave temperatures reaching 129 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks, making life dangerous or impossible. The coasts might be cooler but are experiencing more destructive storms. By 2050 humans will only be able to perform seventy percent of the work they use to do, including raising food. Drought is forcing farmers to move north as refugees and wildfires to wipe out whole towns. When it does rain, it floods more and faster. “I mean, in the end, this isn’t a fight between Republicans and Democrats or environmentalists and industry. It’s, in the end, a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is poor at compromise, doesn’t negotiate easily. We’re going to have to do what physics demands.”

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.