Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

Jun. 11, 2017 Blumbers

Personal Watermelon

The sign said Personal Watermelons for three dollars a pound. They were about the size of a bowling ball. The sign raised all sorts of questions. Had watermelons become so large as to seem impersonal? Was it simply a Silicon Valley marketing strategy to differentiate from older larger mainframe watermelons or even smaller mobile watermelons? Did they really expect one person to sit down and eat this watermelon in one sitting?

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 28, 2017 Blumbers

Grave Situation

The US Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican Healthcare bill will deny twenty four million people health insurance. Eventually all those people will die. I was standing in a military cemetery with the graves stretching in orderly rows and wondered how much space it would take to bury that many people. Twenty four million soldiers died in WWI. Imagine if you could save the lives of that many people. You can. Contact your Senators and congressional representatives. Tell them you want Medicare for all.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 21, 2017 Blumbers

Extra Edition

The president has left the country. He is probably looking for a place without extradition to the United States. Despite everything going on, we still need affordable education, healthcare, a cleaner environment, jobs etc.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Apr. 16, 2017 Blumbers

When Philanthropy Is Not Giving

On April 16, 2017 NPR’s Jessica Smith reported “Philanthropy In America Is Becoming ‘Ideological Arms Race,’ Author Says” about David Callahan’s book “The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age”

“But Callahan says right wing donors have been more effective when it comes to shaping economic and fiscal policy, bankrolling big think tanks in Washington that advocate for cutting the size of government. Those include The Heritage Foundation, which now plays a big role in the Trump administration.” As a result, poor people are disenfranchised.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All Rights reserved.

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Apr. 2, 2017 Blumbers

Bridge Over Troubled People

Last week an important part of an Atlanta highway burned down and collapsed. Allegedly a homeless person with a substance abuse problem started the fire. This is an example of how ignoring the problems of other people catches up with you. Fight poverty. Build infrastructure. Help other people.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Mar. 26, 2017 Blumbers

Town Meeting And Tweeting

My congressional representative had a crowded town meeting yesterday. They said it helps when people show up for meetings. They want letters and tweets. They need to know what voters want. They discussed the narrow defeat of Trumpcare. The battle is not over. They need your help. They said they needed continued vocal support for universal healthcare, education, housing, food and living wage jobs.

If your representatives are not having town meetings, ask them why. If they do not respond, they are not listening.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Mar. 19, 2017 Blumbers

One Angry Blind Woman

I met a blind woman in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. She was unhappy because of everything the conservative US Congress was doing seemed targeted directly at her. She is listens to NPR, which is threatened. She gets one meal a day from Meals On Wheels. She gets her healthcare at Planned Parenthood. She was worried that she would lose her health insurance and be deported. She uses an iPhone to navigate around town and will not be able to buy a newer more accurate one. Her son is deployed and she does not know if he will ever come home. “You have to take it personally when it happens to you.” she said. She is not alone. Contact your two US Senators and one congressional representative. Tell them to think twice… or at least once.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Mar. 12, 2017 Blumbers

Medicare For All

Republicans are trying to end Obamacare. If they do, a lot of poor people are going to die, probably you. Contact your US Congressional Representative and your two US Senators and tell them you want Medicare for all. It is a system that has been tested on millions of people for over 50 years.  It works. Get on social media and tell people.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Mar. 5, 2017 Blumbers

How To Lose An Investor

The CEO of a online taxicab company was confronted by one of his drivers about low pay and lost investment. The CEO arrogantly told the driver that unsuccessful people like to blame successful people for their own failure. The CEO basically called the driver a loser for trusting him. There is an old saying that the fish rots from the head down. Here is another story where a dysfunctional company was stopped before it got too big.

A CEO of a startup needed money. He had never held a job, just private education up to the age of 26. One of his venture capitalists told him that he knew someone who might invest if he could visit the startup’s new offices. The next day the CEO ordered new furniture and the delivery truck parked in the disabled parking space to unload. An old man approached the CEO and asked him to move the truck so he could use the disabled parking space. The CEO said no, besides, his company was not going to be hiring any disabled people. The old man was the potential investor. The CEO never got the money. The startup failed.

The message is simple. If you find a company that mistreats investors, employees and customers, avoid them.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Feb. 19, 2017 Blumbers

Outsourcing to India Threatened

On Feb. 14, 2017, NPR’s Julie McCarthy wrote “Indian IT Outsourcers Anxious Over Potential Changes To H1-B Visas” about legislation from the new administration possibly ending the H1B visa and green card programs. Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell University said that last year  “U.S. companies that sought to bring highly skilled workers to the U.S. filed 236,000 petitions that went into a lottery for just 85,000 H1-B visas, the legal cap.”

“One bill proposes more than doubling the minimum wage of H1-B holders, which by law is set at $60,000. Critics argue the H1-B has been misused to displace American workers, and that there has been an incentive to prefer Indian IT workers because they are cheaper.  Shailesh Chitnis, with the data mining and analysis company Compile, says that while the median salary for all H1-B holders is $71,000, most but not all Indian outsourcers pay below that. If they had to double salaries, Chitnis says, Indian IT companies would have to change their 20-year-old business model.” American companies may be forced to hire citizens at fairer market rates like $120,000.

“Shevendra Singh with India’s National Association of Software Services Companies, or NASSCOM, refutes allegations that Indian companies are dislocating American workers or supplying low-paid labor.”

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Feb. 5, 2017 Blumbers

Citizen Status Symbol

On Jan. 29, 2017, Bloomberg’s Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai wrote “Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech” about the new administration’s immigration restrictions on high tech workers. It affected Infosys, TCS, Tech Mahindra and Wipro’s ability to supply cheap H1B labor to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and Twitter. “Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University, who has done extensive research on the subject, points out workers at outsourcers are typically not treated as well as others. The median wage at outsourcing firms for H-1B workers was less than $70,000, while Apple, Google and Microsoft paid their employees in the program more than $100,000, according to data he collected. That suggests the American companies are going after true, highly skilled employees, while the outsourcers are recruiting less expensive talent, he said.”

On Jan. 31, 2017, The New Republic’s Clio Chang wrote “Silicon Valley’s Uneasy Muslim Ban Dance” about Silicon Valley’s reaction to the new restrictions. “Within the structure of American capitalism, the average tech CEO has more in common with a billionaire like Donald Trump than with the average immigrant worker or refugee. That many of them continue to find ways to work with Trump and to undercut protests to protect their profits should come as no surprise. Trump is ushering in a plutocratic era that requires us to demand the most from those in powerful positions; to do so, we must first shed the assumption that Silicon Valley is on the side of the people.”

Quietly many tech executives are furious. They helped get the president elected hoping they would not have to pay taxes. The money they thought they would make may have to go toward hiring US citizens at market rates. Citizens also have an advantage because they have no travel restrictions as there might be with visas or green cards. Foreign workers who are captive in a way that even Frederick Douglass would be concerned but U.S. citizens can just walk across the street. You know, all that free market stuff conservatives talk about, until they need help.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 29, 2017 Blumbers

Tanks Trump

On Jan. 19, 2017 The Huffington Post’s Jessica Schulberg wrote that Donald Trump told the Washington Post that he wanted the military to “come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue” when he came to power.  It included tanks and missile launchers. What was he thinking? Crowd control?

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 22, 2017 Blumbers

Sinking Feeling

Yesterday the streets were flooded with demonstrators and water. Neither is going away. Thirty foot waves are pounding the coast on a daily basis.

According to the BBC and NPR, last week an iceberg the size of Delaware began breaking off the Antarctic ice shelf. As it melts, the Millennial Tower in downtown San Francisco is sinking under its own weight. A castle built on sand. Home to the wealthy, the tower is a symbol of the Bay Area’s speculative real estate market and the price the poor can no longer pay. There are tens of thousands of homeless people walking down streets of empty houses. On weekends whole neighborhoods are as quiet as an abandoned movie set. Even people who thought they were wealthy are unable to stay. They thought they were safe from the process they encouraged. They are not.

They bragged about being disruptive when businesses closed. While I expected art galleries, bookstores and record stores to close, I did not expect fabric, camera or food stores to close. Restaurants close because the cannot pay their rent. You know things are bad when Walmart closes. It also affects public safety. Dentists, doctors and nurses are forced out. Police and firefighters move out. Eventually, there will be an earthquake. They may not get here in time.

Where will the next generation of Silicon Valley come from? Not from here. Schools close as teachers cannot afford to teach. The Tech Shop is moving out of its San Jose building for other digs.

I am looking for a silver lining. Maybe rising sea levels and property values forcing people away from the coasts will save more lives as the sea level rises.

Copyright 2017. DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 15, 2017 Blumbers

Disabled Press

On January 8, 2017 in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Foreign Press Asoociation’s Golden Globe Awards, Meryl Streep sought support for the Committee to Protect Journalists to preserve an independent press. Streep was motivated by president elect’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski for his disability. What do you do when someone not only ridicules a disabled member of the press but brags about it on social media? It would make it almost impossible for him to work for a living. I suppose he would then be ridiculed for that.

The president elect also said unfortunate things about a father who lost his son in a war. What kind of person does that? Considering the karma involved, an apology is only a start.

Buckle your seat belts and hang on. It is going to be a bumpy term.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.
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Jan. 8, 2017 Blumbers

 

Computer Civil Rights

The film Hidden Figures depicts the struggles of three women with racism and sexism in NASA during the early 1960s. The women were called computers, which seems even more dehumanizing. I saw it with a group of women with technical skills who say not much has changed.  They struggle to get hired. They struggle to get recognized. Sometimes they struggle against insensitive men but also other women who do not exactly practice solidarity.

I have seen the reluctance to hire women with technical degrees and experience and pay them a decent wage has sent many a Silicon Valley company to an early grave. Somebody has to write the code while you give slide presentations to each other all day.

For me the lesson of the film was that social progress and technological process go hand in hand. If you do not train and make the most of everyone in your society, you will suffer. If you hire tech women your organization, you will have role models to attract a new generation of women. This will give you the competitive edge and someday they will make a movie where you do not look like such a jerk to future generations.

Copyright 2017. DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Dec. 18, 2016 Blumbers

Voting Every Week

This is the time of year when I send out holiday greetings. It is always nice to hear from people you have met over the years. Rather than mail cards this year, I have diverted the budget to another project called voting every week.  This is an old school strategy of joining a letter writing campaign.

Democracy does not work unless you make it work. It requires more than voting every two years. It is part of a larger overall strategy for change. You still research online any legislation considered in Washington, but in addition to sending an email, you send old fashioned snail mail to the local offices.

Washington staffers ignore electronic and national letter writing campaigns, but the local staffers cannot ignore what might be a  constituent asking for help. Frankly, that is exactly what you are doing. The staff has to open them and read them.

The letters should be short and specific. For example:  You oppose House Bill 251 because you think children should not drink tap water with lead in it. End of message. Mail it.

Staffers tell me it has an effect over time. Now my Congressional reps and senators here in CA are good people, but the idea is to persuade not so friendly politicians with the weight of your words (literally).

If you send one letter a week to your rep and senators, that is only 150 letters and maybe 45 dollars in postage. This is precisely what the First Amendment and the Post Office were set up for.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Dec. 4, 2016 Blumbers

What Color Is Your Facebook?

On October 28, 2016 ProPublicas’ Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr. wrote “Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race” They said “The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.”

One of the concerns about breaking down old barriers is not building new ones. Creating tailored experiences may keep people divided. Knowing what we have in common or understanding our differences helps build a common future.

I interact with lots of people and do not need a filter. I expect differences. I expect to be uncomfortable. It is what I like about the real world versus the virtual.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Nov. 20, 2016 Blumbers

Time Zoned Out

A clueless recruiter on the East coast calls a candidate on the West coast. The recruiter calls at 8:00 AM in New York, apparently unaware that it is 5:00 AM in San Francisco. The recruiter starts asking the candidate if they know all sorts of technology. The candidate says yes, but they also know what time it is in San Francisco and hang up.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Nov. 13, 2016 Blumbers

Nada Canada

Winston Churchill said that Americans will do the right thing, after they have tried everything else. Unhappy about the election results? Moving to Canada may not be an option. I travel quite lot and keep meeting Canadians… all over the United States. One woman spends six winter months in Florida and the rest of the time traveling here because it is so cold there. I know many other Canadians have moved here and become American citizens.  Besides, Canada has a total population of only 36 million who might agree with your views.  In America, there are over 62 million Americans who already agree with you. The United States has made the most of good ideas and people from all over the world. If you think Canada is doing some things right, work toward getting them adopted here.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Nov. 6, 2016 Blumbers

Buckle Up And Vote

Everyone to their stations. A lot of strange things are going to happen online over the next few days. I recommend holding course and doing your civic duty. Be the reasonable sensible person. If something seems false, you are probably right. We will find out if the future is determined by the wisdom of crowds or the madness of mobs. Vote.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

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Oct. 30, 2016 Blumbers

This is what happens.

When reasonable people do not become involved in the political process on a regular basis, extremists move in. When elections can be turned by lots of money, people with money move in. When there is no transparency, you cannot tell where the money or influence comes from. When extremists gain power they can make it harder to unseat them by making it harder to vote. Now reasonable people must do their duty and vote in overwhelming numbers. After the election they must rebuild a political system and interact with it not just every four years but everyday. With current technology it is possible to let our voices create a reasonable republic. The question is, what happens next?

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Oct. 23, 2016 Blumbers

Top Ten Signs Of A Rigged Timeline

Here are ten signs that someone is just messing with our timeline.

  1. US President and actor Ronald Reagan
  2. California Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  3. California Congressional Representative and singer Sonny Bono
  4. Minnesota Governor and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan
  5. Minnesota Senator comedy writer Al Franken
  6. Iowa Congressional Representative and Love Boat actor Fred Grandy
  7. Academy Award Winner Marisa Tomei
  8. The 1969 Mets
  9. The Chicago Cubs
  10. Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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