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.
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.
The US Federal government is being funded for the next three weeks but last week Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recommended that furloughed federal employees get loans to feed their families. He seems a little out of touch. Let them tweet cake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!
This year’s election is important, so I’ve been busy getting people registered to vote. I went to one courthouse and saw a line of people stretching out of the building and into the parking lot. They were all women. Many of them were watching the news on their phones. Some were openly weeping. The woman behind the counter said it had been going on all week.
One woman talked to me. She said that she faced harassment from men and women. She thinks it is about an abuse of power. She had a union to protect her job. Without protection, she worried she would have to do something horrible to herself or coworkers to pay for her house or send her daughter to college. She called such people collaborators or kapos.
Another woman said that she was actually happy that the terrible news came to the surface. She wanted people to know that no matter who you are, no matter where you go, the day will come for you to be held accountable for your actions.
People are sending me congratulations for the anniversary of this website. The site worked as intended. I have to thank Doug Wray and Laughing Squid for their work over the years. As with anything I do, there are always lots of people involved who you never see. Thanks.
I must confess I like Yelp reviews. If a restaurant gets one bad review, I think it must be an exception. If there are twenty bad reviews they might be on to something. Of course, I don’t read reviews about my reviews.
I read this week about Bonobo chimpanzees liking strong bullies versus cooperative leadership. People are always looking for things that makes different from other apes. We cooperate on an large scale. We build systems with people we do not know. They are not family or tribal members. Leaders who talk about the world being a jungle are looking at the wrong apes.
This is when you should read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his coworker George Marley on Christmas Eve. Marley warns Scrooge that he should care for the weak, poor and vulnerable while he is alive because he will be unable to help after he is dead. Marley realized too late that “Mankind was my business.”
There was an election for US Senator this week in Alabama. It was decided by less than a percentage point. A few thousand votes changed history. You can do this by voting. You can do this by contacting your elected officials. You can do this by becoming an elected official. Keep voting.
On Dec. 10, 2017 KQED’s Guy Marzorati wrote “Insurance Commissioner Says More Intense Fires Could Lead to Fewer Fire Insurance Options.” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said “It’s possible in the wake of these disasters, that we’ll see some insurance companies, in some homes, begin to decide that they don’t want to write new policies,”“Even if a homeowner has fortified their home with fire prevention methods, cleared brush, the insurer may still decide that because of the location of the home, the topography, the wind direction, its proximity to large forests, that the particular home is one they don’t want to write,”
You may not believe in climate change but your insurance company does.
On Dec. 3, 2017 NPR’s Nathan Rott reported “Credit Rating Agency Issues Warning On Climate Change To Cities.” Moody’s “One of the largest credit rating agencies in the country is warning U.S. cities and states to prepare for the effects of climate change or risk being downgraded.” “In the Midwest, “impacts on agriculture are forecast to be among the most significant economic effects of climate change,” the report says. The Southwest is projected to become more vulnerable to extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and wildfires. Rising sea levels and their effect on coastal infrastructure is the biggest forecast impact on the Northeast.”
This week I helped bury a stranger. Cancer took her away from a loving husband and son and a congregation that made them both possible. She built a community that mourned her passing and will carry out her wishes.
There have been a lot of news stories about people abusing their power. One solution is to build organizations to check the concentration of power at the top, to hold those responsible. It means a steady drumbeat of vigilance and transparency.
The stranger saw injustice. People were taking advantage of vulnerable disabled people and she created a group of people to fight it. I never knew the stranger, but she will be known by her works.
There have been a number of stories about harassment. It is everywhere and is an abuse of power. If you are looking for a job, one interesting test is if you can work remotely. If you work in a office, it means you can work at home. If a boss wants you to be physically present in their office then they may want you physically. Hold them accountable. If necessary, get online everyday to remind them of their actions.
At some point you are going to be a refugee. One spark, one raindrop, one sneeze, one bullet and you will be left with the clothes on your back. You will need help. Fortunately America is a place where we are constantly starting over. We keep trying until we succeed. We need to build a society that helps people help others. There a lot of good people out there, be one of them.