Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Break!

On Friday I leave for Lake Como and Southern Spain.  I predict that while I’m away not much will change.  Specifically:

The Giants will still stink;
Trump will still tweet;
Washington will still be dysfunctional;
Terrorist acts will still kill innocents every day;
Our civil discourse will still be uncivil;
The Brits will still be in disarray;
The number of refugees in desperate need will grow;
Etc., etc., etc. . .

How about seeing the glass half full rather than half empty?
It’s possible, but more and more difficult.
The old people who are running things are hapless and helpless.  Stuck in the past as future.
The young ones are beginning to stir, but need to do more.  If there is hope, they are it.

I return on the Fourth of July – a propitious date.  We shall see – later.

Monday, June 12, 2017

No Place To Hide!

I wonder if there ever was a time when escape was possible.  Maybe – maybe not.  But one thing is for sure – today there is no place to hide!

Let’s begin with the subject du jour – terrorism.  There is no place on this planet that is really safe.  Not a day passes during which people are not killed brutally, without warning.  It’s not only in war zones where terror is around every corner.  We expect carnage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, and the rest.  But Manchester?  Orlando?  Moscow?  Portland?  And the rest?  There is no place to hide!

Inequality has always been with us.  As sure as the inexorable movement of the tectonic plates on the earth’s crust will reshape our land, so will inequality continue to be part of the human condition.  We have always had the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots.  The difference now – with the Internet, social media, and the instantaneous flow of information in all directions – is that the spotlight shines brightly on the top 1%, or the middle class, or the bottom 80%, whatever interests or angers you.  As a result, constructive or destructive action is more likely to occur.  Either way, there is no place to hide!

“The Others” have never been easy for us to relate to.  If “They” are different I am uneasy about them, or afraid of them, or hostile to them.  If they are a different color or a have a different religion or come from a different culture or speak a different language or have a different sexual preference, they’re not one of us and I am uneasy, afraid or hostile.

And so we come to immigrants – millions and millions of them, everywhere and no let up in sight.  The conditions under which most of these Others live is horrific.  But have they been welcomed into new lands?  With few exceptions the answer is no.  Quite the reverse.  Walls have been erected, tiny quotas have been established, we have turned our backs and looked the other way.  Shame on us, starting with this country of mine.  Do we think the problem will go away?  Not a chance.  And there is no place to hide!

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg.  With global warming the ice may be melting, but it won’t melt fast enough to save us from needing sooner or later to confront these and other issues.  Unrest is on the rise.  It will manifest itself whether we like it or not.  And there is no place to hide!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Thoughts for Today!

In my view Comey told the truth yesterday.  He was persuasive and credible.  On the negative side, when Trump suggested he do something inappropriate he should have said so at the time.  I don’t buy the excuse that he was too stunned or maybe intimidated in the Oval Office.  I think he wanted to keep his job and thought he could act with integrity without confronting or calling out Trump.  He was wrong.

What’s going on with John McCain?  His questioning of Comey was bizarre and hard to fathom.  He seemed to either be under the influence of something and/or exhibiting signs of dementia.  Later he tweeted that he had been staying up too late watching Diamondbacks games.  I don’t buy it.

Good for Jerry Brown for taking California’s commitment to the environment to China.  With the 6th largest economy in the world, we can help overcome the impact of the current U.S. administration thumbing its nose at the rest of the world re climate change.

I’ve been watching Vice’s daily news show on HBO.  I’m far removed from the show’s 18-34 target audience, but I want to better understand how people are communicating with millennials.  I find the show interesting and informative.

The Giants really are woeful this year.  Going into the bottom of the ninth yesterday in Milwaukee ahead 5-3, Melancon comes in, gives up two runs, and blows the save.  Then, in the 10th, the Giants score 4 and win the game 9-5.  Who gets the win?  Melancon.  Blows the save, gets the win.  Go figure.

Go Warriors!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Yosemite Follow-Up!

As always, being in Yosemite was an inspiring experience.  The main difference this year from recent years was the amount of water.  I’ve never seen the waterfalls flowing so heavily; there was a little flooding here and there, but nothing serious.

So being there is as wonderful as ever.  However, getting there and dealing with the vehicular and human congestion that is an existential reality these days is a major disincentive.  Inside the park we encountered bridge, road and parking construction projects that slowed traffic to a crawl.  We inched forward a car length at a time for hours.  I’m not exaggerating – it took us an extra 2½ hours to go the last few miles.  Once in the queue on what is a one-lane one-way road there is no way out.

Maybe when the construction is complete the traffic will ease.  But I wouldn’t count on it.  Why?  People and the vehicles they drive.  From 1984 to 2014 the number of visitors to Yosemite was in the 3 million a year range.  In 2015 it was 4 million something.  In 2016 it was more than 5 million.  Estimates for this year are that visitors will exceed 6 million.  Unless limits are put in place, the inevitable congestion will continue to worsen.

A few years ago foreign visitors accounted for 9% of the total.  These days, given the languages I heard on my visit this year and the last two, my estimate is that more than half the visitors are from outside the U.S.  I don’t think we should impose quotas and limit the number of foreign visitors.  I do think we should impose quotas and limit the total number (wherever they come from) to a manageable size.  Same with vehicles. 

Given the Internet, implementing an advance reservation system wouldn’t be difficult.  What will be difficult is agreeing that it should be done.  An employee of the park told us that income from Yosemite is used to subsidize national parks that are not financially viable, a clear disincentive to reduce Yosemite’s revenue.  And many members of the public will cry foul if limits are imposed.  Too bad!  There is no point in destroying the incredibly positive experience that Yosemite now provides by allowing overcrowding to continue.

The time to take action is now!

Monday, May 22, 2017


Tomorrow morning we will head to Yosemite for our annual pre-Memorial Day pilgrimage to a place like no other on this planet.

I was awestruck the first time I laid eyes on Yosemite and my awe has never diminished.  The individual iconic natural wonders – Yosemite Falls – El Capitan – Half Dome – Mariposa Grove – and more are incomparable on their own.  But it is the totality, the feeling, the experience that makes it even more special.

I know the geologic history – the earthquakes, the glaciers, the water and ice that worked for millions of years to give us what we have today – but I still find it near impossible to get my head around how it happened.  Granite cliffs and valleys formed millimeter by millimeter day after countless days.  Amazing!

So I shall go – and bask in the wonder – awestruck one more time.  Lucky me!