Wednesday, November 30, 2011

music video break

Sometimes it can get so dark and serious over here.  Take a break and enjoy a creative and fun music video from Field Music.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Legislate a Good Investment Portfolio

We have laws prohibiting insider trading.  This means that people connected with a company who are given information only available to those inside the company, must not use that information to buy or sell stock.  This would give that person an unfair advantage over other investors.  It would also mean that someone could manipulate an aspect of a corporation over which he had control to help his investments, even possibly at the expense of the best interests of that company.  In other words, he or she could do something to hurt the company so that the stock goes down, and have short sold the stock or used the dip to buy cheaper stock (or both).  People who were otherwise unaware of these laws became aware when Martha Stewart was imprisoned for such actions a few years ago.

Did you know that there are no such rules preventing people working for Senators and Congresspeople from similarly using the information and influence of their jobs to invest.  For instance, congressional staffers could invest in a company (or sell stock) based upon legislation before that legislation became public.  In fact, though they deny it, staffers have shown incredible "luck" in such investments. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Art

The sides of buildings.

Also, the side of a telephone booth.  Remember those?  Seriously, check these out by TrustoCorp.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Signs and symbols

If this is not one of the signs of the apocalypse, it is certainly a sign of our crappy healthcare system.  Walmart is getting into the healthcare provider business.  If I do not trust them to provide me with everyday crap like toilet paper and garbage bags, I am surely not going to let them anywhere near my internal organs.

Did you just check the calendar to see if it is April first?  Are you now wondering if I am joking.  I kid you not.  Read it here.

And here is a quote.  "In the same week in late October that Wal-Mart said it would stop offering health insurance benefits to new part-time employees, the retailer sent out a request for partners to help it 'dramatically ... lower the cost of healthcare ... by becoming the largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation.'"

I tell you what it is a sign of: it is a sign that we need more affordable healthcare options.  As much as I hate Wal-Mart, this will probably be the best option for many people.  Yet because of the company's business practices and extreme profit motive, I just do not see them providing the best care.

I just do not know what else to say.  Seriously.  This may have to be the end of the blog.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cornel goes West

Dr. Cornel West showed up in town and showed up at Occupy Seattle.

Seattle Supports Occupy Seattle

From the mayor and city council to local businesses, the local Occupy movement in Seattle is getting much community support.  The city council passed a resolution in support of the Occupy movement.  While there have been run-ins with the police, they did not try to raid the camp since the early uneasy days in Westlake Park.  The city even tried to get the camp to move to city hall, but the protesters decided that location was not visible enough.  After the latests skirmish with the police while marching, the mayor even apologized to the protesters for the use of pepper spray.  I think it might be a little better if he just controlled the police department, but that is a whole other post.  The city did not participate in the 18 city coordinated effort to oust camps from public properties. 

What I have found particularly encouraging is the support of local businesses.  Despite the media portrayal of Occupiers as anti-business, there is plenty of support among local small businesses for the movement.  They are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk with specials for protesters.  The food coop where I shop not only has a sign up front, but has the Occupy Seattle logo on the screen of each cash register.  They will take donations for the movement with your grocery purchases.  In many places, even business owners who passively supported the goals of the movement, would be afraid to make their support so public.  They would fear alienating customers.  Hear, they know that political activism is part of the fabric of the city.  Even those that may disagree will usually still respect someone taking a stand.

I cannot say that I agree with every aspect of the Occupy movement, and I am sure there are plenty of people in the tents who do not agree on everything.  It is the nature of real political discourse.  You band together and support each other's issues in the name of overall progress.  Heck, radical anarchists are marching in support of middle class people.  It makes me feel better supporting businesses so open to people and ideas outside of the mainstream that are so scary to some people.  To me, that is one of the major struggles, getting people to accept people different from themselves, no matter what that means.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Crosswalk to Bear?

I have always spoken of Seattle's jaywalking laws bemusedly.  I have heard that police actually give tickets for that here in Seattle, and I have relayed that information to visitors. I have never seen a ticket issued, but it must be true (turns out the total number is 1570 just for last year). 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Everywhere?

The Occupy movement is spreading to small towns.  It is even spreading to small towns here in Washington that are the home of fictional, young, hot, movie vampires.  I present Occupy Forks, who protested at a local Bank of America branch (in the rain).

An End to Separate, but not Equal in this state?

Yes, I have been a little occupied with the Occupy movement lately, but that is what is going on right now.  It could be a turning point in American history, but there are other things happening.  Some of of the news is even good, like news that Washington state is getting ready to try for full same-sex marriage.  We already have domestic partnership, but they are going for the whole enchilada of love.

Stay tuned for more Occupy, like the one about pepper spraying grandmother.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Defying the law in New York

If reports are true out of New York, the police are preventing protesters from entering the park despite a court order to allow them in.  I am more than a little confused.  Don't the police justify their sometimes violent arrests of protesters as necessary to uphold the law?  Are they making their own law now?  How are they now justifying ignoring the law?  Can the protesters now arrest the police?  No, because the police have the weapons.

Occupy Berkeley

This may be a bit old, but I just saw it.  From last week at the University of California.
Just disgusting and unforgivable to me.  The Chancellor issued a statement saying that law enforcers were "forced" to be physically violent with the students.  Turned out that he had not seen the video at all.  After watching it, he spoke of an interesting "dilemma" of how to prevent encampments without force.  And this was after he watched the police ram sticks into people who were standing peacefully?  Has he seen them back people into a bush and keep striking them?  Has he seen the guy coming around from the side to poke them while shielded from view by the bush and another officer?  Can you honestly say this guy was trying to keep order and not just getting out some anger and frustration?  

email chancellor (@)

Judge Orders City to Allow Occupy Wall Street

In New York, a judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing Occupy protesters back into Liberty Park with their belongings.  Read more here.

Occupy Chicago

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking Occupy News

It is rare that I would be in a position to break news, but the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York is being raided and destroyed by the NYPD right now.  They are evidently not moving anything, but destroying all property found and trucking it off to the landfill.  Moment to moment coverage can be found here.

Occupy my navel

And so it begins.  

I cannot say about the Occupy movement around the world, but the local group seems intent on getting bogged down on process and political purity and not on building a movement to effect change.  The Stranger recently organized a panel discussion about the Occupy movement.  The panel contained members of the local Occupiers and a few local political leaders with a bit more experience.  It was created in favor of the movement, and not as any sort of critique or debate.  While the "panel discussion" format is not very "street" or "radical," it can be a way to educate and enlarge the base of participators.  There are many, many quiet supporters who have not found a place among the campsites and more radical activities of the movement, but they support the movement goals 100%.  In order for the movement to actually accomplish things on a larger scale, they need to accept that others may want to approach the issues in different ways.  Instead, they showed up at this event and totally disrupted it, driving off supporters in droves.

This could be a pivotal moment in history.  The Occupiers could have started a tsunami of a turning tide as their message trickles out.  But some elements seem to have seized power that are more intent on infantile displays of obstructionism.  The obsession with holding onto a mode of process is the organizational equivalent of navel gazing.  I have seen it before, some people have a little success at something and then let it go to their heads.  In the name of protecting the voices of the normally voiceless, they silence the voices of others without irony.  Much like a child realizes he can make the whole family take notice and react with a well-timed tantrum, these attention whores can bring down a meeting by challenging some minor detail on inexplicable, but unassailable terms.  

They chanted, "this is what democracy looks like," but democracy is supposed to allow everyone's voice to be heard, not just the suitably hip/disenfranchised.  I remember from 90's AIDS activism how people get paranoid and obsessive.  In the name of political purity, some people hijack the process and impede progress and sulk away when all of their demands are not met.  Other people lose interest after attending a couple of meetings using the consensus process when one person can hold up the process trying to get their pet demand met.  Ironically, a person arguing on behalf of vegetarians against the Klan (or whatever their individual perspective) lets their ego get in the way of compromise for the greater good.  Yes, a movement with strong leadership can quash concerns outside of their personal agendas, and consensus movements are designed to prevent this, but unfortunately, the process can get in the way of actual progress and action.  The perfect becomes the enemy of the good.  And when people realize what is happening, some will start to suspect the obstructionists of being government agents sent to destroy the organization.  It can kill movements.  I am not sure where the happy medium is, but I would hate to see it happen to this movement, but it may be inevitable.  I just hope that they spawn enough ideas and motivate enough people to spur progress even after the organizations have died.  This happened with many well-meaning organizations before it that imploded in their own obsessions.

On more positive Occupy news, a group from Occupy Wall Street are marching from New York to Washington, DC.  I think this is a great idea, and I wish them well.  It may not be perfectly planned and executed, but it is action and it is happening and receiving attention.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Unemployment or Holiday?

A response for the idiots who think that many people are just sitting around being lazy and collecting unemployment when they could actually be working here.  As I have said, this is a ludicrous notion.  It turns out that in fact now most people who are unemployed are not receiving any unemployment benefits.  Here is a neat quote, "Nearly one-third of America's 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more."  Put that in your bong and smoke it because you are high if you think there are plenty of jobs out there just because you see ads for jobs.  Try applying for a few.

Remember our veterans today and every day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Was it Really Bank Transfer Day?

Last Saturday was the culmination of a movement to move people's accounts from giant mega-banks to local banks and credit unions.

 Was it successful?  See for yourself.  While a few billion is only a tiny portion of US deposits, it is still a large number.  It seems like enough to make a statement and send a message and all that.  Plus it strengthens the smaller banking institutions.  I am happy for all of the people who switched.  They should receive better service now, like some of us have for years.  Since my accounts were already with the credit union, I participated by opening my new business accounts with the local credit union.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who Are Occupy?

A few months ago, that title would not have made grammatical sense.  

So much has been said about the type of people that make up the Occupy Wall Street movement.  People from both sides of the political spectrum have made all sorts of erroneous assumptions to deal with their discomfort over this antagonistic action.  The demographics supporters of this movement may be a little different than what is being described in the media and what most people seem to think.  Click on this link and see what you think.

I am sure this will not be widely reported.  Should it change the way the movement is described and discussed?   

Monday, November 7, 2011

Deficit Reduction Plans Compared

Would anyone really be amazed to learn that the Democrats and Republicans have proposed completely different plans?  It might surprise you to learn which party's plans would reduce more of the deficit.  I am so sick of Republicans being called the party of fiscal responsibility.  Why will that myth never seem to die?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bank Transfer Day

Tomorrow (November 5) is Bank Transfer Day.

There is a movement afoot to get people to move their accounts from big banks to smaller community banks and credit unions.  It is called Bank Transfer Day, and it is not part of the Occupy movement (though they support it).    Are you going to move your money?  It is an interesting idea, and I support it.  I have been using credit unions myself for years and greatly prefer the service I get with credit unions.  

I was there recently and there was a large crowd of people opening new accounts.  I commented to the employee that they must have been busy lately.  He said yes, but said that even though Bank of America announced that they were cancelling the debit card fee, the credit union was still being flooded with new members.  I said that I thought it was about more than just the fee.  In the lobby, I heard customers talking about the where and when of the next demonstration.

Here is some help, if you need it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Congress Forced the Banks

Turns out that banks did not cause the mortgage crisis at all.  Evidently, big banks are much less powerful than they seem.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Link if you are funny; Link if you are right

If you are drinking anything, make sure you swallow before clicking on this link and reading this hilarious Republican to English dictionary.  You clothes and your cat will thank you for not spitting on them.

Here is a roundup of updates on the Occupy movement around the globe.  Banksy created a great piece, a version of a giant monopoly board, in support of the movement.   
There is some support for the Occupy movement among business faculty.  Interesting.  They reference a study done by Duke University that showed that MBA students come out of school less ethical than when they entered. 

Republicans said Obama did not do enough to create jobs, and now they are spending time trying to create a national motto that clearly violates the Constitution?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Health"care" for "employees"

This article about Walmart dropping many employees from their healthcare plan (and raising rates on the rest) actually has some great information about the health insurance system in general in the United States and where the employer-based system came from.  As a quick aside, I believe those many part-time employees were only added after the company received such bad publicity after it was discovered they included pamphlets on local government aid programs with many employees' paychecks because they were not offered any insurance and they made little enough to qualify for government assistance.

Still wondering why we are the only industrialized nation to have such an inadequate system.  American exceptionalism?  Why has no other country copied us?  They want our democracy, but not our healthcare system.