Posted by: endithinks | June 25, 2011

23rd and Jackson

It’s been a while since I’ve been to 23rd and Jackson.  It’s one of my favorite intersections in Seattle and this morning it is living up to my imagination.

I’m at the Starbucks and the place is packed with a rainbow of people.  There are older men with golf caps and khakis talking about the derivatives market.  There is a guy with a blue tooth trying to hustle another man clad in basketball shorts and flip flops into a get rich quick pyramid scheme.  Two men are reading newspapers and reminiscing about the good ol days and a large group of mostly women have pushed together tables to have a large scale confab mostly talking about grandkids and family.

This area is in the 98118 zip code one of the most diverse in the United States. with more languages spoken in this radius than in any other in the country.  It’s vibrant, loud, fast and touched with tradition that makes you feel welcomed even amongst strangers.  I’m calm.

Later today I’m working, well technically I’m early to work right now.  We’re doing another action against Chase Bank and as per usual I’m an hour early just to make sure I’m there on time.  BPT is a curse I can only purify when it is work related.  My personal life?  BPT rules the day.

Jazz is playing in the store but it is barely audible over the babble brook of human conversation.  One guy to my left is talking about hands only CPR to his friend and is demonstrating to the table that is obviously not breathing.  Uh oh, the guy who is trying to sell a pyramid scheme is working it.  The victim has a pen in his hand and is scratching away his money.  So sad.

 

Advertisements
Posted by: endithinks | March 7, 2011

Half Way There (repost)

Half Way There

The economy is tough everywhere for most people anyway.  People are living their lives on a prayer and a shoestring budget a far cry from what they are used to.  We’ve seen a stubborn unemployment rate hovering around nine percent for nearly two years now and the numbers that seem to be shrinking are still not getting to the real picture of hardship that most families are going through.

Unemployment itself is of course misinforming.  The rate of unemployment is calculated with quite a few omissions.  Firstly, the rate only reflects those who are actively looking for work, as in filling out resumes, writing cover letters and attending job fairs.  Those people who have given up or have stopped actively pursuing work are not counted.  So that means that anyone who is homeless, anyone who is living off of a loved one, relative, or acquaintance or anyone who is infirm or unable to work is not counted.

Also, the unemployment rate does not discriminate between someone working full time or part time.  The people who have work that is under twenty hours count as fully employed.  Those who work more than one job due to economic pressure do not count for more than one, but they reflect the fact that many people may be working and not earning a living wage.

One callous congressman, who shall not be named, once boasted that the United States had ninety one percent of people working failing to realize the insensitivity of such an asinine statement.  The amount of living wages in the United States has been dropping faster than we can replace them.  We have seen good paying work being replaced by either technology or outsourcing and that is simply a matter of economics.  I am not one who believes we can or even should bring back manufacturing jobs if we cannot make products that are superior or more cost effective.  Our future does not lie in the past “glory days” of manufacturing, but in the future of ideas and innovation.

For the entire article please go to endithinks.blogspot.com.

Posted by: endithinks | March 2, 2011

Microwaves hate Unions

(Repost from endithinks.blogspot.com)

The ultimate example of convenience and modern living, the microwave has had an undeniable impact on our kitchens and our society.  They bring the idea of popped corn to the forefront of our minds while we scroll through our Netflix queues alone on a Friday night.  Their radiation glow lightens the dark room after we’ve snuck into the kitchen for a midnight snack of processed cheese and fried tortillas.  They are the friends of single adults and five year old snack seekers dispensing passable food in mere seconds.  However, microwaves have a deep, dark secret.  Microwaves hate unions.

The microwave oven as we know it arrived in American businesses and homes starting in 1967.  The microwave was advertised as a convenience device that would cut the time that “moms” would spend slaving over a hot stove and spend more quality time with the family playing board games, watching television or waving to neighbors riding by on their bicycles.  Of course the saved time did come, but the actual result was an eroding of the time with family.  The microwave had undermined the tantalizing and seductive power of anticipation that boiling pots and chopping aromas elicit.

The instant gratification that microwaves brought to our most basic of needs started to permeate other areas of our lives as well.  We began to withdraw from social outings and instead curl up with our cable television and TV dinners.  We withdrew from churches, bowling leagues, charitable clubs as we simply wanted satisfaction without having to put in the actual time and dedication needed for those avenues of social connection to have any meaning.  We in essence started seeing the phenomenon commonly known as “being together alone.”  We were setting ourselves on the path toward collective isolationism that is so rampant today.

Unions are a collection of workers who through collective bargaining, negotiation and hard work helped build our middle class that our society takes for granted.  The working conditions of today such as five day work weeks, health care, workers compensation, unemployment, on the job injury compensation, safe working conditions and the like would all not be as robust and in some cases in existence at all if not for the work of unions.

Unions of course have had their historic enemies that include public apathy and policy decisions.  The public response to unions over the past few years have been colored by a well organized media campaign to color unions as somehow separate from the rest of us.  The unions have become the scapegoat for big business problems and poor business practices.  Auto companies have used union demands for health benefits and safe work conditions as the reason behind the decline in American auto brands success.

The most devastating policy change to unions is most likely the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.  This act in the wake of World War II labor disputes and strikes limited the ability of unions to take certain negotiation tactics such as strikes, and sympathetic strikes and enables states to make aggressive “right to work” laws which limited or eliminated the ability to form unions or outlawed union labor.  Many states have used those right to work type of laws to restrict membership since the fifties until today.

The biggest problem towards unions is of course the public view of unions.  Union membership has declined in the private sector at a swift pace since the early days of the seventies.  Public sector unions have been growing as a result of budgetary cuts that came about as a result of a failed fiscal policy on the federal and state levels.  Budgets are being slashed in order to make up for many of the unsafe overreaches of fiscal policy that have been creeping into the system for the past thirty years and the budgetary shortfalls that came as direct results from the inability and unwillingness to make a more fair tax system that actually follows the graduated tax codes enacted over one hundred years ago.

When the top income earners can reduce their taxes from 35% to 15% through stock investments (capital gains taxes peak at 15%) and therefore save themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Many financial experts point to the fact that the tax rates during President Nixon’s tenure if they were retained would have eliminated the budgetary shortfalls we are seeing in the past few years.

Of course all these facts do not make a difference if no one is paying attention.  The amount of time that we spend in front of an entertainment box is the highest it has ever been since we began recording the average amount of time we spend watching television.  On average we spend four hours a day watching TV and almost 70% of us watch TV while eating dinner.  TV is a one way medium and it does not allow the time spent in front of it for conversation, unless you are like my family who would talk in the middle of library/funeral.  The loss of the meal as a focal point of a family has more repercussions than one would guess.

Microwaves allow people to start and finish meals alone by themselves and without the unnecessary conversation or socialization that comes with tables, dining rooms and a sense of belonging.  We are pulled in so many directions by choice and circumstances that many of us are losing our foundations.  We are forgetting or abandoning an aspect of socialization that permeates every major point in our lives as humans.  Food and togetherness is the prescription for any social illness.  When we get married, buried, arrive, depart, welcome in a new life, anniversarate and celebrate we always include food.  Think of the last time you went to a party and there were no refreshments.

Posted by: endithinks | February 25, 2011

Russell Simmons comes to Seattle (Repost)

This is a repost of a blog I wrote at my other site endithinks.blogspot.com.  For the full article please follow the links.

Russell Simmons

The Seattle Public Library’s Microsoft Lecture Hall had a different feel to it on February 24th.  The large amphitheater style room was packed with an unusually raucous and excited crowd.  People were joking, laughing, telling stories and sharing secrets all because of the speaker that was sequestered in a back room surrounded by beefy bodyguards, Russell Simmons.

Mr. Simmons had agreed to come back to Seattle after a 4 year absence to promote his new book Super Rich. The book is a follow up to his New York Times bestseller Do You! and the themes of the book pick up where the other left off.

The book’s main themes are about redefining success in society by stripping away the need for material greed and refocusing towards living a more fulfilled life that is centered on giving, relationships and spiritual fulfillment.

Mr.  Simmons began his talk with his telling of how his Yoga practice lead him to a vegan lifestyle that made him realize that all his actions had consequences and he was connected to his world on more than just a material/needs basis.  He began to reevaluate his priorities and goals to align them with the peace and connection he had found through his studies of Yoga scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita, and other spiritual texts that emphasized a life of giving.

This is a stub, for more of the article please follow the link.

Posted by: endithinks | February 23, 2011

Revolutions(Repost)

The following is an excerpt from a post I authored this morning.  For the entire post please follow the links.

Endi Thinks

This past few months has been a historic period that has seen dictators that held thrall over their people for decades fall or be stammered in their efforts by nothing more than the political will of the people.  The amount of unrest and discontent has many causes, but the peaceful solutions are not only working, but admirable.  I stand with the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and encourage them to continue fighting for a more perfect union.

One of the most troubling bits of news in this euphoric period has been how the US media has started to report the unrest in terms of “how will this affect us?”  I understand the need to frame these events that have not been seen in the arab world in forty years in a way that the audience can grasp, but I think that they underestimate the American public.

The people of America say that we are a freedom loving, liberty seeking country.  Our entire history has been shaped by our claim to fame, democratically elected governments by the people, for the people and of the people.  We stand with those who would be masters of their own fate in principle at least and we have as a people not sided with dictators.

Read more at Endi Thinks.

 

Posted by: endithinks | February 17, 2011

A Prosecution Deferred

The police are out in force tonight at Westlake.  They have three separate units forming an enclosing triangle around the gathering of protestors gathered to honor the memory of slain local wood carver John T. Williams.  The rally was organized after the announcement that the King County Prosecutor has declined to pursue any criminal charges against Officer Birk after the shooting and killing of a half deaf artisan walking down the street.

The police have horse units and I’ve spotted six patrol cars and close to twenty or so officers all standing guard against a potential situation.  the latest crisis in Seattle policing is the complete and utter lack of faith surrounding the SPD(Seattle Police Department) after the shooting of John T. Williams, but it is a flare up of a larger incessant infection.

News Media at the rally scramble to keep up with protestor's movements

Police policy in Seattle is flawed to its core and until the structural policies and procedures are completely broken down and rebuilt from the ground up under new leadership, these sort of killings and injustices will continue as they have throughout Seattle history.

The crowd is behaving itself in front of the news vans and media attention.  The crowd chants in response to a megaphone brandishing would be rabble rouser, but the feeling pervading all these gatherings (and theer have been nearly a dozen since the man was gunned down) is alienation and hopelessness.

the fact that the King County Prosecutor has chosen not to pursue any criminal or civil charges against the rookie officer has tinged the air with a frightful tension as members of the community are once again reminded that in the eyes of the SPD and “alarming gesture” such as turning around to look at who was screaming at you, is enough to forfeit your life.  When a man is gunned down in less than four seconds due to a snap judgement of another person that lacks the experience and calm emotional state needed for any type of community work, one needs to ask what else can be done to us with no consequence?  If life is meaningless in the eyes of the King County Prosecutor if a man in a blue suit decides in less than four seconds to end it, then what does the concept of justice even mean?

Many of the protestors are across the street in their familiar haunts as the homeless teens and adults engage in conversations with passersby not asking for change, but gauging the sense of shock  the police have drilled into our minds.  The ones who are underserved and on the edge of society feel that alienation and disconnection and abuse on a daily basis.  They see the way most people treat them and they take this opportunity to talk to those who would on normal days pretend they didn’t exist.  The teens are especially interesting to watch them speaking to adults as equals without a need presented as their main reason for contact.

The crowd begins to start marching down Pine Street heading towards second and the police mobilize to follow them.  Some of the signs of the crowd include: “Arrest Birk,” “Fire Birk,” “Corruption: with pictures of Mayor McGinn, Chief Diaz and Officer Birk,” “SPD can’t police themselves,” and “Act like the Egyptians.”

SPD has a long history of clashes with the public especially with minorities.  The tensions are always taut and the SPD has not done enough to combat the growing sense of enmity between those sworn to serve and protect and those who are being shot.

Truth be told police have had a rough time at it these last two years with numerous police officers being murdered at the hands of monsters who were self claimed enemy combatants, but were really disgusting domestic terrorists.  The police have been firebombed, shot at and reviled and it is perfectly natural that they would respond with more aggressive training that emphasises threat recognition and neutralization.  The problem lies in the paranoia, fear and readily available lethal instruments.

The police department and the city government has failed in three major areas in regards to police engagement and safety: lack of follow through of safety policy by too many individual policemen,  too much emphasis on violence or force as the go to solution, and illogical hiring and retention practices.

Too many times when I see a police officer I see them alone.  They are on patrol more often than not as a solo officer.  This is unfortunate in numerous ways, but the most dangerous is the fact that the isolation that comes from being a police officer in the first place is heightened when you are by yourself and are taught to view civilians as hostile.  The police too often do not follow their policy of calling for backup when in a situation that could turn violent if they engage.  The fact that officers are confronting situations alone is a major policy failure and the budgetary arguments are moot when compared to the loss of an innocent life that can never be replaced.  Money is being printed everyday.  A human life if unique and cannot be priced out.

Secondly, the police are trained too intensely in violent techniques and lethal force.  The police use force at a level that civilians would be institutionalized for.  We’ve seen police punch, push, shove, hit, and shoot people who could have been easily deescalated with simple solutions or words.  The fact that moving away from a police officer is considered suspicious is pathetic and digs into the subtext of the problems, an overinflated ego.  Police see themselves as holding society together and it is this arrogance that breeds “heroic” actions of lone police officers who feel they are above the law.  Police do not hold together society, society holds itself together through agreed upon behaviours and expectations followed in the social contract.  Police are part of the solution, not the solution itself.

Violence is corrupting and those that inflict pain on others even if justified inevitably take damage themselves mentally as harming a fellow member of your own species goes against our genetic programming.  Humans are social creatures that are interconnected to each other in so many ways we could not survive without the aid of others.  To harm a fellow person takes a certain mindset and a certain amount of mental fortitude.  That fortitude is eroded and broken per violent action and without proper training and counseling it can lead to a warped mind that begins to enjoy that violence.

The third major problem with police policy is a simple Human Resources problem.  Police are being hired when they should not be.  Police are excepting as officers people who have been turned down by other force welding entities such as the military and even worse the police are not firing those that have no pace being police after they cross the line into unlawful behavior.  Instead of weeding out the undesirables the SPD seems to favor reassignment and closing ranks instead of cutting the wheat from the chaff.

We can see too many examples of police shifting problematic officers from precinct to precinct, parish to parish, district to district.  The officers are not held accountable for failing their positions and when failure means a senseless killing of a person not breaking any law that price is too damn high.

Monsanto’s Neotame molecule allowed in USDA certified organic foods.

Posted by: endithinks | December 14, 2010

Man Cured of HIV

I’m so excited about the news coming out of Germany that a man has become the first official patient with HIV to be cured. You can find the story here:http://gawker.com/5713395/man-cured-of-hiv-with-stem-cells

I do want to take this opportunity to point out that scientists discovered this treatment because they had the freedom to explore different scientific routes including stem cell research.

Science in order to advance needs to be free of all but the most stringent of restraints in order to find the results the evidence leads them towards. Obviously, I’m not going to go into the restraints here in this quick post, but I do think it is an important day for health, science and the world that we have another window cracking open towards defeating this horrific disease.

This disease is the worst pandemic in human history and we need to defeat it by any means necessary and only science and truly unrestrained research can achieve this.

Posted by: endithinks | November 28, 2010

Three Days, Three Visits

This last Friday November 26, 2010 was the largest recorded sales day in the past fifteen years according to various sources that measure just how much we consume in our never ending quest to replace affection with material goods.  An estimated 200 million Americans were out and about shopping for the upcoming holidays, almost two thirds of the entire United States and I was among them, three times.

Visiting my girlfriend’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving in a nearby town to my own hometown always brings back some interesting memories about my childhood.  Thankfully they are ninety nine percent good ones, with most of them bringing amusement or a bit of 20/20.  We spent the week relaxing, eating, and watching a TV that has seen better days as its expected two year lifespan had eclipsed a year ago.  I could go into the problems with making products artificially fragile and short on purpose to drive the purchase of another equally short fragile product, but that is an essay in itself.  Long story short, making sub par products drives away business not bring it in.

On Black Friday we headed to the Silverdale Mall, my stomping grounds in my teen years, and we took place in the rush for savings and products.  The funny thing was, the rush was well oiled and very polite.  As far as rushes and mad dashes go it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.

I’ve had Black Friday experiences that would chill your soul.  I’ve seen the avarice and greed of people surface and explode in passionate throws.  I’ve even seen a man grab a toy, a “Tickle Me Elmo,” from an elderly grandma and rush to the front of the store and slam down a twenty dollar bill and run out of the store screaming to keep the change at the nodding an understanding store clerk.  Funny thing is the rest of the crowd not only did not comfort the woman, but actively hectored her about how she had let that “snake” get the last Elmo.

This year it was almost as if the air conditioning was mixed with Soma.  The crowd was not hurried or harassed.  They were simply browsing with the shopping lists on their iPhones and scraps of paper.  There eyes never wandered or fell for the flashy schemes ad showmanship of sales and discounts.  Everyone had a shopping agenda.  Mall Rats be damned.

Friday was orchestrated by the numerous sales and discounts that were plastered in our in boxes and posts.  People were conveyor belted through the hallways checking off the deals as they purchased early for their family and friends.  The food court was eerily empty except for the overly anxious Cinnabon lover and the ever present teens who rested their feet before they strutted off again.  The mall was packed, but felt like a friendly gathering where everyone knew each other.

The next two days the malls were back to their normal levels, but everyone was spending big amounts.  Every baby buggy had presents and bags with the baby hitched to the back, on a leash or crooked in an arm.  The in mall restaurant “Hales” was slammed as people ignored the overly priced cheap fair of the food court and paid the price for food that will leave only the feeling of satisfaction instead of a screwdriver in the gullet.

This weekend saw almost 45 Billion dollars spent according to the LA Times article linked earlier and most of that was spent at Best Buy.  I kid, but honestly the purchases were heavy on the electronics as per usual for holiday shopping and most of the “get them in the door” sales were for Laptops, PCs, TVs, and every video game system and a few that don’t even exist yet.  We are spending so much even with people constantly talking about our economy being in the tank.  I think the economy is actually more in balance now than it has been in such a long time.

In the world economy that is more and more connected we cannot expect everyone to have work if we continue to expect our consumption of material goods to be the main driver of our economy.  We simply do not support enough of our own workers as the price is the main determinant in a purchase for most people.  Prices are set by the profit margin desired and the cost of the product getting to the shelf.  American made products have a larger profit margin and a higher price to shelf if you take into account just the material goods, and labor costs.  Unfortunately, most people do not take these considerations into account and buy the product with the highest quality for the lowest price they can find.

We are seeing an economy that is more in line with our behavior.  There is a saying, “You reap what you sow,” and we have been sowing cheaper goods and cheaper goods and cheaper goods.  We were naive in thinking that we could continue our behavior and not harvest the results.  What we need to do is refocus on economy on what we are truly good at, services, ideas, education and engineering.  We need to educate and educate in order to remain viable.

 

Posted by: endithinks | November 22, 2010

What matters?

A man was murdered today in Seattle in a neighborhood not far from my home. I don’t know the reason why as the police have not released all the details, but they have caught the perpetrator. I’m sick to my stomach about it as the man was killed by trauma to the head via a pick axe.

It just makes me wonder how anyone could cause the death of another intentionally. What kind of argument or disagreement could give someone in their own mind the right to end someone’s only life on this planet?

Hold those you love close today and let’s beat back this hatred with the only thing that can defeat it.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories